Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Step on my Grave (Writing prompt)

I'm laughing at myself. I found a link to a blog hosting a 500 word writing contest (using a writing prompt), wrote the story and then couldn't find the blog!

Found it, after a bit of searching, but don't know how I got there the first time.

The World of My Imagination

So here's the story.

Step on my Grave

The black cloaked figure stood in front of the Friends Cafe, right in front of the pile of cornstalks and pumpkins they put up every year as "Halloween decorations." My first thought was that they'd added an element to their traditional display.

I had to laugh at the "corny" specter, although half the citizens of this town would be arguing about whether the addition was appropriate before sundown.

Ina looked at me like I was crazy (which she knows I am) and I pointed to the black cloaked figure. It was hard to tell if it was supposed to be a black headless giraffe or the specter of death. But it seemed to move, the cloak turning in the nonexistent wind.

A sparrow landed on the figure's shoulder and it didn't move. I relaxed. They'd just added a manikin to their display.

The cowl turned toward us. The sparrow flew away.

Ina's response surprised me. In spite of her reputation as an airhead she's usually pretty articulate--I could swear she's memorized the dictionary--but she clutched at my arm and squeaked, backing away.

My throat closed up, maybe in panic. There was no hint of a face inside that cowl, but I felt like I'd been pinned to a specimen board. Hm. Specimen number 85389741, human female, expired of natural causes. Shock, maybe.

I've never been superstitious--a lot of superstitions, like "don't walk under a ladder" or "don't swing an ax" are disguised common sense. So at this point I could pretty much limit the thing to either a practical joke (probably aimed at Ina, everyone knows how gullible she is) or someone dressing up for Halloween early.

I dragged Ina across the street, keeping a wary eye on anything that might hide the practical jokers who were likely to come bursting out at us. The boardwalk (built specifically for the tourists) wouldn't hide them from anyone crossing the street. The big cracker-barrels with their fall flowers were pushed right up against the wall.

Still I approached warily, pretending that I had no intention of even looking at the thing.

The material was odd, more like a cloak of shadow than fabric. The head kept pace with us, turning as we approached. Something about that invisible gaze made me shiver.

We passed right by it, but no one jumped out.

We stepped through the door with double sighs of relief. When I looked over at the big window the figure was gone. The autumn display looked just as it always had, with the exception of a few pumpkins that had probably been smashed by teenagers.

It had never occurred to me that death might hang around after his work was done. After that tourist died in the cafe last year it was closed for a few days. The locals still go there, although their prices are terrible.

Their spinach sandwiches are to die for.


  1. I really enjoyed reading your story! This was my fav part:
    "There was no hint of a face inside that cowl, but I felt like I'd been pinned to a specimen board. Hm. Specimen number 85389741, human female, expired of natural causes. Shock, maybe."
    Very creepy and funny at the same time. I write straight Horror, and I wish I had the knack to incorporate humor.
    Great post! :-)

  2. I didn't really think of it as humor. More like irony.

    I'm glad you liked it. I'm just getting used to writing short fiction, and I find that it's fun. Sticking a whole storyline into 500 words takes a different set of skills than writing a novel.

    I remember a teacher in school--I think it was 7th grade. I handed in a half page story and she said I had a novels worth of emotion in it. Actually she said "200 pages of buried fury."

  3. I love the last line. What an eerie, well-told story!

    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked it.

      I think it leaves things up in the air just a bit. Do they die? Was seeing death a warning? Are they going to order the spinach? :)

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather. Are you going to be at Rebecca's tonight?