Hello and welcome back to the blog! There is a lot going on in the world right now. Rather than talk about it, I thought I would attempt to entertain you instead. I gave myself the following challenge this week: write ten short stories in under a thousand words. I made it with two words to spare (not including the titles and this intro). For those that don’t know, I write middle grade horror. Most of the stories are skewed in that direction but are aimed at being read by all. Enjoy.
(Editing note: The original post touted ten short stories in under ten thousand words, which is wrong. It’s actually ten stories in one thousand words, which was every bit as challenging as it sounds. I was scanning through the titles as I uploaded a new post and thought, there must be some mistake! Yes, there was and it was mine. At least I noticed it as some point!)
The darkness that had seemed eternal finally abated for Javi. Slowly his vision returned, bringing unexpected sights to behold. There had to be something wrong. The images his eyes were sending to his brain didn’t make sense.
Javi stood in a field of grass surrounded by slabs of granite, marble, sandstone, and bronze. He could see a wrought iron gate in the distance that ran along the field’s perimeter.
“No,” Javi whispered. His voice died as soon as it left his lips, becoming nothing more than the sound of a midnight breeze.
Knowing the truth, yet in denial because of its consequence, Javi turned to the nearest gravestone.
He will remain forever in our hearts
I know I’m not crazy, I know I’m not crazy. This has been my mantra in recent days, for reasons that will soon be obvious.
Have you ever seen someone in your peripheral only to find no one there when you look? I have a theory. There really is someone there, only it’s an alien. I don’t think they mean us any har—
He smiled. She laughed. They loved.
The sun was descending behind the treetops in the western horizon when Paige let the storm door on Sandra’s front porch slam closed behind her. She jumped from the top of the porch, skipping the steps entirely. Knowing Mr. Morrison, Sandra’s dad, wouldn’t mind, she cut through the yard.
Paige was supposed to be home before dark. “If the stars are in the sky and you’re outside to see them, then you’re in trouble, young lady,” her mother had said.
Of course, time had gotten away from both girls, as it often did. Mr. Morrison had offered to give her a ride as she hurried out of the house. She had refused. A quick shortcut along a trail that weaved through a grove separating the friend’s homes would save her at least five minutes.
Paige was only a few yards into the woodland area when a dark shadow moved in her peripheral. Yet nothing was there. She kept running.
An overturned tree lying across the path marked the halfway point of the grove. The shadows were as deep as she had ever seen them. Something moved in the darkness just off the path.
It was at this point she remembered something else her mother had told her. “Don’t go into those woods after dark.”
A menacing growl rumbled through the grove and Paige realized Mom’s warning had been warranted.
The bushes rustled on both sides of the path as the first creature was joined by a mate. A stitch appeared in her side, but Paige ignored it. This was no time for pain.
Relief flooded over her as the light from her back porch came into view through the trees. A moment later she burst from the grove and across her backyard. Paige ran without looking back, even when something snarled behind her. She didn’t stop until the backdoor was separating her from the outside.
Meanwhile, two sets of glowing red eyes watched the house. They were patient.
The earth moved beneath my feet.
I jumped back, filled with horror.
The dirt where I once stood was pushed aside.
In its place a decomposing hand pushed through the soil.
Niko stared at the doll sitting on her dresser across the room. The Japanese Geisha doll had been a gift from her great aunt Majo, whom she hadn’t met.
There was a blur of red and gold as the Geisha doll jumped off the dresser. The kimono clad doll shuffled towards Niko, who laid in bed. Niko screamed.
The Seed, The Bird, & The Tree
The life that I have lived has been long. Yet I still remember what it was like before I was even a sprout. Life back then was rather stifling, as I was surrounded by fleshy pulp.
I could feel myself growing with each passing day. Elation filled my entire being, for I knew that if I grew large enough, I might break free from my fleshy incarceration.
One day my domain was overcome with rumbling and quaking. Something sharp was tearing away at the fleshy pulp which surrounded me. I was free, but only for a moment. The sharp object, of which there were two, snatched me up.
Darkness overwhelmed me.
An unknown amount of time later I was purged from the darkness. I can still recall how it felt to fly through the sky, if only for the briefest of moments.
My flight ended as abruptly as it had begun. I hit the ground with a splat. There I laid for some time. In fact, I am still there now, though I look much different now.
The winged thing with the sharp weaponry had done me a favor. It had cracked my shell. As a result, I was able to grow beyond my wildest dreams.
Now the winged creatures land upon me and feed. Yet I don’t mind, for it was one of their kind that gave me life.
Jacob stood at the top of the steps, looking down into the darkness.
A hissing sound echoed from the abyss below.
His foot paused on the top step.
A tremble went through his body.
Something was down there.
An Unwanted Pet
Candice didn’t really like animals. However, that didn’t mean she wanted any to get hurt.
While walking home from school she found an injured bunny. Not wanting to see a creature suffer, she took it home. After a few weeks of recouping, Bugs was released in a nearby park.
That night there was scratching on the front door. Candice opened it. Bugs sat on the welcome mat.
The next day, she walked to a park even further away. Bugs showed up that night.
After a week she gave in. Candice didn’t like animals, but Bugs didn’t care.
A Love Story
Belinda worked at a movie theater where she met a quiet coworker named Stephen. She decided to get him to talk. He did, but only to her.
The last story is dedicated to my wife, as it is our story. The real story is longer than the one above, but it really boils down to a girl deciding to talk to a boy. Thanks for reading.
Follow your dreams, even if they terrify you.
Stephen Michael Roth