Joy Merritt is May’s winner with her story, Cloud of Smoke. Congratulations, Joy!
Word count: 50 words
Entry 1 Night wandering
The creaking of floorboards woke her. Heart hammering, she peered out from behind the shield of her duvet, gaze fixed on the bedroom door as dread clouded around her. The approaching footsteps, so familiar. She reached for the stained, sticky knife by the bed, and whispered, ‘Stay dead, Uncle.’
Entry 2 Potential
What is it about a creeping grey and black mottled cloud that fills me with a strangely exhilarating horror, the sense of something, someone bearing down dripping necklets of ruby, invisible fingers probing, moulding my heart, paring back layers of my mind, and exposing a potential for the unthinkable?
Entry 3 The Last Goth
Charlintha was her name the last of the Goths,
tried and sentenced under the law of witchcraft,
exorcism of the living, rebirth of the dead.
She was condemned to death by burning upon the stake,
on a night when the cloud hid tears of the moon.
Entry 4 Cloud of Smoke
Word count: 50
The crowd gathered on the cobblestones around the caped magician. Watching the illusions, delight shone on the children’s faces.
He tipped his top hat and winked, announcing the grand finale.
A huge cloud of smoke was conjured with flair, and once it dissipated, the magician and the children had disappeared.
Entry 5 The Waiting
Darkness was gathering. Overhead, heavy cloud threatened to break. Still, I would not enter the house. Something was watching me from inside. Blank windows stalked me. There was no escape, save barren cliffs and, below, the rough, rocky sea. Death waited patiently, my decision irrelevant. Would I jump?
She looks in the mirror as she does every night before she goes to bed. And every night she sees the vision.
A bushfire–roaring, burning all in sight. Bright red flames, leaping through the tree tops.
The wind howling, causing the embers to stir and pushing the fire onwards.
A family inside the farmhouse– engulfed by thick suffocating smoke. The firestorm approaching.
A rabbit sits in the yard–its flesh raw, its eyes red and fearful.
It squeals in terror–trapped.
She does not understand, but she cannot stop herself from looking.
Title: Child’s Play
The house was dirt cheap. It was a pretty cottage, with grey and pink roof tiles and small, heart shaped windows. Like a child’s dollhouse almost. His daughter ran ahead on the curving gravel path and disappeared into the unruly orchard beyond. The locals had told him of an ancient, tiny grave, lacy with lichen in a corner of the orchard. It had been there beyond living memory, melting gently into the earth. Walking slowly he heard his daughters voice close by, muted, giggling. He called her name but ‘not now Daddy, I’m playing with my friend!’. Sudden ice filled his heart as beneath his feet he felt the grass stir and dance, as if touched by a gust of wind. Except on this warm and lovely day, the air was perfectly still.
When the lover of her dreams came into her life, Rosemary could not believe her good fortune.
Within a short while Anders had wooed her and brought her to his divine home tucked in the hills.
He was attentive and pampering; preparing baths of scented water and sweet smelling oils, massaging her all over until she purred with love and contentment.
Anders was a fine entertainer; a superb cook with a flare for the exotic.
Rosemary met his friends at their progressive dinner parties where they expressed their admiration for her, telling her how beautiful she was and complimenting Anders on his good fortune, until Rosemary would blush with a stir of discomfort.
She smiled as she watched them boyishly compete for the culinary prize of the month, comparing the food and flavours each produced.
Anders had been so much in charge of the pantry that Rosemary had left him to do what he did best.
‘Tonight, with your help, I’ll make a gourmet meal to die for,’ he whispered as his own cooking night neared, encouraging her to finish the last drops from the bottle of the finest French cognac, before leading her for the first time to the basement where he began to wind tendrils of nasturtiums into her hair.
Rosemary swayed, staring overawed at a large vat of aromatic chicken fat, sage and bouquet-garni simmering on a low hot plate.
Anders gently lifted her in his arms, and as the broth lapped around her head and body he quietly said, ‘All this meal needs for perfection is Rosemary.’
The wind raged against the walls of the corrugated iron shed. I could not sleep like my companion. I stared into the darkness. Lightning flashes showed a heavy coil of rope in the corner of the hut appear to stir.It uncoiled as if from an Indian snake-charmer’s basket, rose, and weaved towards me. It brushed against my head, moving my hair. I became paralysed with fear. It plunged,wrapped around my husband’s neck.It silently squeezed all life from him. The police found me by his body the next day. They are not convinced by this account.
Title: The Burn
Anna lived in the two-story sandstone at the end of Crescent Court and she had the perfect life. Most days Sadie would see her blue BMW arrive home after school and on fine days the top would be down and Anna’s blonde hair would be waving behind her in the summer wind. Sadie closed her notebook where she meticulously recorded these comings and goings of her beautiful neighbour and sighed contentedly as she congratulated herself for coming this far.
Sadie knew that on a school night Anna would be in her room, on the phone or laptop, until sometime between 11.10 p.m. to 12 midnight before her room would completely close in darkness. She figured that Anna would then be in a deep sleep and wouldn’t stir within two hours following, and this is when she would take the keys to Anna’s house from her mother’s handbag and quietly enter the side door near the stairs that wind up to Anna’s room.
Of course Anna’s parents trusted Sadie’s mum with the keys to the ‘sandstone’ since she’d been cleaning their house and ironing their clothes (while Anna’s mum played tennis) for the past 10 years. It disgusted Sadie to think how her family was made to serve the likes of Anna Wellspring.
Sadie again pulled her backpack out from under her bed even though she’d checked it numerous times throughout the day. The brown bottle of acid sat neatly in the bottom of the bag.
Tomorrow Sadie would never need to be ashamed to be the cleaning lady’s daughter again, after all, she wouldn’t be the one with her face melted and her hair destroyed.
Title: A Bad Dream
1/He looked in horror at the mess before him.
2/He had never seen so much blood.
3/He had never thought that you could bleed so much from what was essentially more bone than skin or flesh and bones don’t bleed.
4/ It wasn’t just blood, there was yellow and white stuff oozing from the hole in the skull.
5/He looked at the cricket bat in his hand,thick with accretions of bone and red and white pulp. 6/He was angry and he had hit her, but surely not so hard as to kill her.
7/He dropped the bat and went back to bed, falling into a deep sleep immediately this time free of the nightmare.
8/Thank God the sleeping tablets were delivering peaceful rest now
9/In the morning, It was the screaming that woke him.
10/ His dream came immediately to mind and it was with a feeling of dread he stumbled from his room to his mothers’ to discover the reality of the night before.
Title: Monster Man
They told me about a monster who lived in a man. A man who’d stir each night to sing of a circus. They said don’t go near him whatever you do, so we all stayed away from that monster.
The years went on, and he stayed in that house, where we had pointed him out and screamed. Nobody came to it, nobody left, and a good thing too I think!
My friends moved away and I followed too. We could not get stuck in that town.
On my wedding day I returned, not a boy but a man. The monster, I knew he had died so I visited that poor old house, but there was his chair and his cigar box to boot and I heard something sad on the wind, an old slow song about a circus long back.
He had no friends visit on his funeral day, my mother had said, and my guess is we scared them away.
Title: A Dream Life
1 Jesse looked in horror at the bloody mess before him.
2/ There was a body and yellow and white stuff, stirred with blood, oozed from the side of the skull that lay turned to one side on the black and white tiles of the bathroom floor.
3/ He wondered what was worse, to not sleep or to have such vivid and disturbing dreams that he felt he was in fact, awake.
4/ He was in torture but Dr. Malvin’s re-assuring voice came to him, a voice that said, dreams, no matter how vivid, cannot hurt you.
5/ “It’s just a dreadful nightmare,” Jesse told himself and went back to bed with a glass of water and more of the Doctor’s pills.
6/ He pulled the blanket over his head to block out the howling sound of the wind that seemed to be right inside his head.
7 And then oblivion, a deep sleep from which he awoke to find himself in a small, bare room with a toilet bowl in one corner.
8/ He screamed and immediately the door was flung wide and two men rushed at him flinging him to the bed and strapping him down.
9/ “ I want to sleep,” Jesse wailed, writhing beneath his bonds.
10/ “You’ve had enough sleep for a lifetime, mate”, said one of the men, “and your nightmare has not even begun.”
Entries will not be accepted if they exceed the word limit – even if by a word.
All entries to be submitted USING THIS FORM by Wednesday March 18th. Voting will open the next day here on the blog. Come along to our Members’ Night on Wednesday March 25th, 7pm at Irish Murphy’s to hear the winner announced. (It will also be posted here on the blog the day after).