Little Red

Written by Bandit Queen

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Run, Little Red. Faster and faster until you can’t anymore. Image // GettysGirl

Run, little girl, run.

The forest is not your friend now. Where are the little flowers you picked, their sweet scent similar to yours and their pastel colours dappling the dark grass in the wood? Where are your sun beams you danced between, that streaked through the darkness of the thick branches up above? They are all gone. Nettles sting your dancing feet and the summer sun has set. There is only the Hunter’s moon; a cool, silver stare cutting down upon your face, as tears stream down your cheek.

You should have listened to your mother. Words do well to the wise, not to the brave. What can words do for you now? You think to bargain with me? Prey do not bargain with their predators.

Run, girl, run.

Your ragged breaths twitch my ears. Your saccharine smell waters my mouth. Your watery eyes widen mine. You are divine.
A branch snaps. I falter. You turn.

Hairs rise on your skin as mine bristles in glee. I can see you fleeing from the pine where we met. You are running. A monstrous grin grows on my face. Can you see my teeth that will tear you apart? Can you see my body heave forward, while I begin my chase for you?

Red is a dangerous colour to wear, my love. Your cloak ripples like a scarlet river through the silver trees, and you weave in and out to try to lose me. Why do you run? I see blood on your nimble feet. The forest is no longer the refuge you loved, is it? You will paint the trees crimson and the flowers will turn pale like the moon. The forest will mourn until your body lurches and your throat turns raw from your screams.

Then you can run through the forest, past the mountains to the river, you can dance in the moonlight, and howl to the stars. Give your family, your love and guard, your elder in the wood. Leave your petty village behind: the resentment, the marriage, the hatred. You are brave. Why do you fear me when the monsters share your bed?

You stop. You do not run. There are no more tears.

The chase is over, my love.

Genuinely, we feel a little terrified for Little Red, here. This incredibly tense piece of short fiction was written by Bandit Queen on behalf of the July HHC under the theme ‘Chase’. As a predator hunting its prey, you can smell the fear within this piece. Inspired by the Brothers Grim story, Bandit Queen’s piece serves as a truly dark tale. The masquerade of fairytale slips into a stalker and a vulnerable young woman, fleeing for her life. It’s serious, and it’s horrifying. If you enjoyed Bandit Queen’s first published piece here on Inkblots, please leave her a like, or comment in the section below.  

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There Will Be Tea

Written by Miss Smiley

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High tea anyone? With a slice of lemon or death…? Image // Blake Bentley

The woman breathed raggedly, hurling a terrified look behind her as she ran down the alley. A shot of adrenaline hit her breastbone as she spotted her pursuer, no more than ten metres back, shrouded in the darkness, strolling along like they had all the time in the world.

Miss Herrington, however, didn’t. Too panicked even to scream, she bolted as fast as she could in her flailing skirts. The hobble skirt bashed painfully against her shins with each frantic step, almost tripping her. A thought flitted through her head –

What on Earth has fashion got against physical activity?

– too slippery and quick to follow. She threw her hands up to stop herself crashing into the brick wall. Wheeling around the corner, she scrambled against the cobblestones, wishing she had not been quite so vain that morning – without the hobble skirt and extra petticoats, she would have been much quicker on her feet.

She stopped short as she spotted the wall, mere inches from her face.

A dead-end. No escape.

“No…” she whimpered. She let out a little moan of despair and pushed against the wall with a palm, willing it to move, hoping for a miracle. “Please…”

Footsteps clicked on the cobblestones behind her. She wheeled around to face her attacker.

“Wh-what…what do you want?” It came out ragged, whimpering and terrified. Madeline Herrington cursed herself for not sounding more confident.

Her pursuer smiled from beneath a hat. “You know what I want.” A woman’s voice, refined and silky. On her hands, she wore white gloves. Madeline wondered how the woman would ever get her blood out of the fabric.

“Don’t you dare touch me!” she screamed as her attacker neared, those gloved hands outstretched to her.

“Why not?” The gloves curled around her arm, jerking her forward to the eyes of their owner. Her attacker smirked confidently. “It’s nothing personal. Curiosity killed the cat, Miss Herrington. We’re just putting that practice into play.”

“I’ll never publish it, I swear!” Madeline was weeping now, her make-up smeared with grime and tears. Her heart thumped frantically in agreement. “No one knows, I swear it!”

“Too bad. You still know.”

She looked into the eyes and recoiled. The reports hadn’t lied. The woman’s eyes were dead – lifeless, like a doll’s. “I swear I’ll take your secret to my grave.”

“Yes. Yes, you will.” The woman smiled from beneath the hat, a smile that never reached her lifeless eyes. Her gloved hand made its way up her arm to her neck, cold to the touch.

Madeline shuddered, too terrified to say a word.

The woman surveyed her for a moment with those blue eyes and then smiled again. “Goodbye, Miss Herrington. Nothing personal. Just orders.”

Madeline felt cold metal against her skin and swallowed. And then…

Nothing.

She hadn’t even had time to scream.

As many of our regular readers will know, Miss Smiley is a dab hand when it comes to creating suspension in short stories. This is only a mere snippet of more to come, but we hope it’s just as deadly as this piece. We’re also perplexed as to when tea will be served and if it’s laced with poison. Maybe someday we’ll have the pleasure of finding out. If you enjoyed reading Miss Smiley’s short horror, you may just find her other work just as charming in ‘The Bells of Campden‘ and ‘The Laurel‘. 

Last Breath

Written by Rob

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Christopher Lee stars as Dracula. Last breath? I don’t think so. Image // Warner Bros, Dracula Risen from the Grave

I don’t find this easy to talk about. People say that it is good to get things out in the open; a problem shared is a problem halved; talking is good; other such platitudes. I say “people” weren’t there; they didn’t go through what I went through; they probably have never felt that degree of blind terror. Even as I write, I find I’m crying and trembling again. I feel like I’ve been branded; that moment will forever be burnt into my very being, like an ugly scar.

I wanted to run but I couldn’t move. I wanted to cry out but my lungs were paralysed. I wanted to look away but no part of me would respond to instruction. I wanted the earth to swallow me. I wanted anything but to be there and then.

There is no shortage of clever dicks who tell me I was in no danger; there was nothing to fear; the whole incident was entirely harmless. And there is a corresponding supply of those who like to take the scientific tack; telling me about natural processes of decay and ferment; biochemistry of gas production in a dead body; rigor mortis and the like. None of this helps.

I was alone in the front parlour, with Uncle Ernie, laid out in his coffin, paying my last respects. I had only been stood beside him for a few moments. Then Ernie spoke to me.

The proverbial king of short fiction, Rob’s HHC – written on behalf of last month’s theme “sigh” is one to leave a lasting impression. So, a dead man talking rather than walking. That there is a real fear – a subconscious one. Of course, Ernie didn’t really speak, though maybe he spoke to the narrator in a different way. If you enjoyed Rob’s short entry, you can view some of his other work such as ‘Shot Blast‘ and ‘Mirror, Mirror‘. 

Not The One Who Knocks

Written by Blue-Eyed Devil

Part of the Grimsley Chronicles

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Can you hear that howling? Image // Bill Dickinson

‘S’nice place,Grimsley thought to himself.Breaking in hadn’t been all that much trouble. Duct tape placed on one of the small windows in the back door and a sharp jab with his elbow had allowed him to enter the premises without much hassle. He had found himself in a kitchen, cleaned well but small and rather bare. Running a gloved hand over the crockery, he put a little thought into what he would use to end the owner’s life.Skillet? No. Frying pan? Been done, and recently.His eyes slid their way over to the selection of knives in a wooden block and he pulled one free, examining the blade. Yes… this should do the trick.Seeing a tall glass on the draining board, Grimsley casually nudged it off. It fell to the floor and smashed into a dozen pieces.

He moved further into the house with practiced ease, his footfalls not making a sound on the floor as he inspected the place. He was no interior decorator, but you could tell a lot about a person by the way they kept their personal space.

No pictures anywhere – could be that she didn’t have any family alive, or was estranged from any that were. But Grimsley doubted that. There were more than a few pieces of furniture about. That implied that the occupier had company often; friends, family, partner. Or partners. He wasn’t old-fashioned; each to their own. No pictures but she had visitors often? Not a sentimental type, perhaps.

Working his way around, Grimsley continued his observations. Everything looked neat, nothing out of place or flung about randomly. A tidy person, then? But a quick inspection of her cupboards and drawers revealed things simply stuffed in haphazardly. She made a show of being put together, but under the surface was chaos. Out of sight, out of mind…

Grimsley sighed to himself. Were it so easy to put that into practice.

A sudden creak brought the thug back to his purpose. His target was finally awake and was investigating the noise he had made. It had taken her long enough.

Slipping silently out of sight, Grimsley waited for the woman to show herself. He didn’t have to wait long, the figure of a small but compact person was moving past him in the dark. She was shorter than him, he noted. A pleasant change, he thought to himself.

Well, time to get on with it. He approached her from behind, thrusting the knife upwards between her ribs and into her heart.

Or that had been his intent anyway. She surprised him by turning sharply and kicking the weapon out of his hand.

Huh. That’s odd.

Grimsley blocked a punch aimed at his jaw and locked the arm in place at his side. He thrust forwards with the palm of his hand and struck her nose, but she moved into the attack and it bounced off her forehead. A knee jabbed into his stomach, making him let go of her arm.

His head was beginning to ache again. Not now. Gotta end this now.

She aimed another kick at him and he caught her leg, taking the blow to his side but grasping firmly onto the appendage. She was well muscled, but Grimsley was much stronger. She discovered this herself when he shoved all his weight into her, knocking her straight to the ground. She tried to struggle free but the stocky thug had his forearm pressing down on her neck and his whole body was crushing down onto hers.

Grimsley looked down onto the slowly purpling face of the woman as he slowly cut off her air and suddenly realised something. She was… normal. She wasn’t changing. Her face was… human.

A sudden, blinding light filled his head and he felt… renewed. Refreshed.

Reborn.

“It’s your lucky day, miss,” muttered Grimsley, more to himself than to her. His fist cracked into her face and she stopped struggling.

He made sure she was still breathing before he left. Placed her in the recovery position too, just to be on the safe side. Concussion was a tricky thing.

Walking back to his flat, Grimsley reveled. Everyone was a monster. Makepeace had been the first. Others had come; people he was forced to work with, those that passed down his orders, those that drank in the same pub as him. But the woman he had been sent to kill was not. The pain in his head had come, but she had not changed.

He knew what the others thought about him. He was the organisation’s pet wolf. Everyone was afraid of him, of who the bosses would unleash him on next. He remembered someone saying that even angels would cross the street out of fear from him. Knowing that they were scared of him did not diminish him; on the contrary, it invigorated him, as if he fed off of their fear.

Striding into his flat, the thug made straight for his couch, lifting the seat and revealing the hollowed out innards. He reached in, rummaging inside it until he found what he was looking for. Things have changed now. The monsters had struck fear into his heart before, but he would exorcise that fear by becoming fear itself. Becoming the Wolf that even angels feared to tread near.

Running his hand along the blade of the machete, Grimsley smiled to himself.

Yes… this should do the trick.

Blue-Eyed Devil’s Grimsley shorts began with a simple Half Hour Challenge idea, from then the Grimsley Chronicles were born. Now, our Haiku creator writes interesting scenarios for his character to get into, and most of the time it’s tense in action. There’s definitely a big sense of fear in ‘Not the One who Knocks’, which is exactly what we’re aiming for with this month’s content. If you enjoyed Blue-Eyed Devil’s short HHC, you can check out some of his other work, including Haiku Selections One and Two

Sleepless Nights

Written by Ashcloud

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Time is a killer. Image // Mateus Lunardi Dutra

The shrill sound of nothingness deafens.
As silent as sleep itself,
Insomnia mutes functionality.
How is it that so many hide,
Behind a facade of concealer; lies
And steaming mugs of coffee?
What they truly long for – the black blanket
To shroud their ticking minds’ wound,
Beyond capacity, the taut spring awaits
Expectantly, for the slightest nudge
That will uncoil the mind’s formal graces,
In exchange for the unknown,
feared place within us all.

Ashcloud’s poem is something many of us on The Inkwell writing forum can relate to – suffering from insomnia is probably every writer’s nightmare, though it’s probably when we acquire our best material. Stimulated by caffeine, words can magically appear, but without it we’d suffer from the inevitable caffeine crash. It’s why Ashcloud’s poetry just hits the nail on the head; a deep fear some of us can’t seem to escape. If you enjoyed Ashcloud’s ‘Sleepless Nights’, feel free to check out her other wonderful poetry, ‘Knight‘ and ‘The Root of Insanity‘. 

Fiction Frenzy Winning Entry – Rabid

Written by Magnificent Mayhem

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Sometimes there’s just no way out. Image // The Walking Dead AMC

It’s almost funny. You could almost say I’d been preparing for this my whole life. I had seen every movie.  Read every book, every comic. I had video games. I even recorded mini-series. My costume was a staple at every Halloween party and Comic Con event. People expected to see me in my best gaping wounds and shuffle step, they talked about it afterwards. Who could blame them?  I really committed when I was in character. So when I came home to find one in my kitchen, I suppose I wasn’t entirely surprised, not really. I suppose I’d been waiting for it for a long time.

What did shock me was to see my wife sprawled on the floor, hands pushing feebly against its back, mouth gaping noiselessly as it ate at her. Her eyes met mine for a moment and there I saw the fear, the panic. The floor was wet, sticky, slick. The smell was grotesque. I found her eyes again. Silent, pleading, tears streaming.

I never questioned my next move. Most days I still don’t.

I reached for a knife from the counter and lurched unsteadily towards the grotesque pair. I could not take my eyes from her. She made a sound then, I think she was trying to scream, maybe call out to me. But fear caught the noise in her throat and it trailed off helplessly. It – whatever that thing was – never even noticed me. It just kept eating at her, its teeth and jaws working away as she struggled to push it from her. My arm seemed to move on its own accord, plunging again and again into the base of its skull. And for the first time, it turned its attention on me, arms flailing as I hacked indiscriminately. My wife screamed then, harsh and hard in my ear as I brought myself close to finish it.

Once it lay still on the ground beside us, I took her hand in mine. I wiped tears, snot and blood from my face, in an effort to make myself a little more presentable. I even tried to smooth my hair down. I pulled her in close to me, so as to calm her harried breathing. Many of my haphazard strokes had cut her as well. Across her face, arms, hands, neck. But the damage had been done long before I arrived.

She blinked at me. She tried to speak but only managed to spill blood from her lips and mauled throat. Her hair was plastered to her skin, red and wet, clinging to her face. It hurt me more than it hurt her, I am sure of it.

I think I whispered something to her, there at the end, but all I could concentrate on was what had to be done. Continue reading →

Monthly Editorial – October’s Content Gets A Little Spooky For Hallowe’en

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Time to do some carving? Image // Andrea Vergani

Hey Inkblotters!

Welcome back to the monthly editorial post – we’ve only been away for a month, but it’s surprisingly felt much longer. Maybe it’s the routine and the great comfort it brings when sharing some fantastic content with our readers. Either way, I’m very happy to be back writing, editing, and covering all sorts of things for magazine content.

Late summer has closed its doors and a new autumnal breeze has swept across Britain, making the tawny leaves hit your boots and probably your face. Autumn is delightfully pretty, but it’s also messy – there’s nothing worse than wet leaves sticking to your hair, specifically if it’s already curly and tangled. I’m not here to whinge, though, as it’s the start of a very spooky month here on Inkblots. With the arrival of Hallowe’en, my Pagan roots strengthen and begin to welcome in the new Pagan year. It’s out with the old and in with the new. I even find time to start carving a pumpkin for the evening celebrations!

Given the time of the year, October’s content theme surrounds itself with the idea of fear. And we’re kicking the month off with the winning Fiction Frenzy entry. As many of you will know, in conjunction with our sister site The Inkwell, we ran a writing competition throughout July and August with two themes: Carnage and Virtual Reality. We had some truly wonderful entries, with three in particular making the final shortlist. But there could only be one winner, so it was with great joy we awarded the Fiction Frenzy Winner title to Magnificent Mayhem for her horrifying tale “Rabid”. It will be published on October 5th, so make sure you check back to read it.

For the rest of the month, we’ve got poetry from Ashcloud on the 8th, a great HHC short from our veteran forum writer Rob, as well as a lovely twist on the Red Riding Hood fairytale by Bandit Queen. On Hallowe’en itself, we may have a spotlight special for stand-out HHCs under this month’s new theme: Pumpkin. So if you’d like to get your piece into the spotlight on the 31st, make sure you send us in your HHC entry. All details for submitting entries can be found on our submissions page.

And that just about covers October. Keep checking back to Inkblots regularly so you never miss a post, and you can always follow us on Twitter or Facebook too. Also, before I forget and in aid of National Poetry Day, here’s a link to see a snippet of the BBC’s Dylan Thomas animated poem, The Hunchback in the Park. Narrated by Michael Sheen, you can catch the full animation on BBC iPlayer or BBC One Wales later in October, which marks the centenary of the poet’s birth.

Have a fab October – don’t get too spooked!

– Silver, Inkblots Editor