Halloween Flash Fiction Showdown

In honor of Halloween, Zoa and I have decided to do a little flash fiction, scary story duel. We’ve each written a scary story that’s less than 500 words and you will decide which story is better.

We won’t tell you who wrote which story so as not to bias you. Read each story below and then vote in the poll at the bottom of the post. Vote for which story you think is best, keeping in mind that scariness is one of, but not the only, criteria you should consider in making your choice.

 


Sleep Paralysis

Only my head awoke in the middle of the night. The rest of me refused to move. My muscles locked as if tethered to the bed like a madman. Breath came only through my nostrils by its forced necessity, and I struggled to fill my lungs. My eyeballs scanned the shadows, moving desperately, like the tires of an overturned car after a crash.

But not everything was a shadow.

In the corner, I could see the black cloak of Death, whom I had seen many times before in my dreams. This time, I recognized him for what he was, an image manufactured by my sleep paralysis, from which I had suffered on occasion. I laughed dismissively at the hallucination.

Generally this act of recognition ended the fit, but not then. That night, the figure drew closer and closer until it stood beside my bed, bringing with it an offensive odor—a human odor. He leaned over me and whispered in a voice I remembered at once, “Hello, Alex.”

When the figure flipped back its hood I recognized the face of my childhood best friend, Thomas, disfigured by madness and neglect. He glanced over me like a doctor before performing an operation. Only after releasing my eyes from his did I notice the thick red straps holding me fast to my bed, and that my struggle with respiration was the result of duct tape over top of my mouth, not a psychophysiological condition. As the sticky adhesive turned my gravest scream into a weak hum, Thomas smiled.

“Yes, Alex. I’m back. You thought you could escape me, didn’t you? Do you remember how you left me?” he asked. “How you cut off all communication when I had no one else—when I needed you most? You were the only one who could have helped me. The only one.”

As tears pooled in my eye sockets, I tried but failed to nod.

“Now do you want to be cut off from me, Alex? Hmmm?” He stared into my eyes, reading my terror. “Doesn’t matter. I hereby consider you cut off!

“I’ve stopped your mail, emailed your friends and family to tell them you’ve decided to take a spontaneous vacation to Mexico, and sent your boss a very polite but intent resignation letter, effective immediately.”

I screamed again, this time achieving more than a hum, but the sound certainly failed to penetrate the walls around us.

“I don’t want to do this, Alex, but I must,” Thomas said regretfully, nodding. “I must. Goodbye, Alex.”

As Thomas left, the door let in enough light to show that it was daytime outside my bedroom. He had shuttered the windows and sealed the doors so no light could enter, leaving me immobilized and alone in the only bedroom of my small apartment.

Wherever I am, I can still hear the sharp click of the lock and Thomas’s footsteps retreating on the hardwood floor outside of my room, echoing like the tick of a clock in a prison.

 


Chelicerata

Day 1:

My husband and son left yesterday…I am keeping a record in this old notebook I found in the cabin. Some of the pages are ripped out and it smells like rusty copper. If anyone finds this; I am not insane. I’m the only one who saw what took Elizabeth and it wasn’t a damned bear.

This morning, standing where Elizabeth disappeared I could almost see it again, that sickly pale skin like a junkie, patchy hair, the way it scurried about like some kind of crab, or insect. It turns my stomach.

Day 2:

Woke in a panic last night because I heard sounds from outside. Dry, papery sound and low clicking. Reminded me of June bugs around a porch light. Saw a pale shape skittering around the side of the cabin. I ran outside but I lost sight of it. I sat up in the kitchen in the dark, listening. I must have dozed because I heard the sound of dry, scaly feet shuffling on the floor.

I went out again this morning trying to find more tracks from the thing that took Elizabeth. The brush and grass were smashed down outside the bedroom window.

The old shed behind the cabin is covered in poison ivy and dense trees. We’ve avoided it every time we’ve come here but I’ll investigate. It’s the only place I haven’t checked and something has pushed aside the trees and ivy. It looks like there’s some kind of…cellar entrance underneath? I could see rusty doors. I need to put on pants and boots before I go stomping through poison ivy.

Day 3:

Oh my god. I was right about the cellar. As soon as I opened the doors, there was a dry rustling sound like autumn leaves and the strongest smell of old pennies. I could see someone lying on the floor and knew immediately that it was Elizabeth. She was pale and emaciated, barely alive. It’d only been three days but she was dirty and her dress was moldy. Her fingernails were so very long. I grabbed her by her wrists and tried to drag her toward the stairs but she was stuck to the floor.

I heard the rustling again and a tall, pale man(?) came running from the shadows. He looked like a cancer patient, patchy hair and yellow eyes. It lunged at me; I fell back and it grabbed me and bit my neck. I pushed it off of me and ran up the stairs. It didn’t follow. I’m inside now. I can’t keep my eyes open. My neck is barely bleeding at all but I’m so light-headed. It feels like waking from a dream.

 

Day 1:

My husband and son left yesterday…I am keeping a record in this old notebook I found in the cabin. Some of the pages are ripped out and it smells like rusty copper.

 


Which story was better?

 
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