I’m participating in a great series of prompts at Google+, called Nightmare Fuel. This is the second year Bliss Morgan has run the challenges, with a number of pictures from other plussers and the internet-at-large.

I’ve decided to spend the month of October taking a break from my other projects and just playing around with writing again. So I’ll also be taking part in another group of prompts from the Flash Fiction Project. I finished my story for that one and posted it there today if you’re inclined to read it.

Today is my first attempt at a horror story. If you’re squeamish, or not a fan of horror stories, then I will not be offended if you choose not to read this one. 🙂 If you do read, I’d love to know what you think. I want to get better at this.


Home Sweet Home

Her husband was waiting.

Mara thought about Daniel as she walked, increasing the pace of her tight steps. He would be angry if she was late. She dug around in her purse one more time for her cell phone. Why did she have to forget it tonight of all nights? She hated running errands after dark.

She mumbled curses under her breath. She hated the junker of a car that wouldn’t start. She hated her husband for not getting it fixed months ago. She hated the scratch of her wool skirt against her legs as she walked. She hated the echo of her shoes clacking against the ground.

She tried to walk more quietly, so as not to disturb the darkness. It was a strange thing about the night, that it always made her feel like whispering. Even her breath seemed loud, whistling through her nose in frantic bursts.

The sidewalk ended abruptly without her notice. Kara stepped off of it, twisting and tumbling to the ground in a rough patch of gravel and untended weeds. Sharp spikes of pain shot through her where the rocks pierced her skin. She rubbed them off, feeling the cold, moist dirt mixed with her warm, damp blood. She tried to stand, but her ankle turned beneath her.

Her cries echoed back at her, and her heart hobbled at the sound. Taking a deep breath of the sour fall air, she told herself it was only the night. She tried to conjure an image in her mind of this place in the daytime. Only when she realized where she was did she trust her suspicious heart.

She was outside of the cemetery.

It was no reason to get spooked, she told herself. She came near the cemetery every day. There were cemeteries in every city in every country of the world. People had to be buried somewhere.

Mara caught her bearings. If she walked through the cemetery, she could be home faster. It was a straight line across the sprawling park rather than a zigzag over paved roads. With another vision of her husband’s disapproving face, she turned and walked into the dark garden.

The park was eerily silent, as though sound itself had been buried in the still ground. Mara could feel her feet sinking into the earth, but her quick footsteps made no noise here. Something about it made her walk even faster, despite the pain in her damaged ankle. She put her hand in her purse again, feeling for some item that might offer her help or comfort. Her cell phone would make everything better.

“I’m not afraid,” she said to try to calm herself.

“I’m not afraid,” echoed a scratchy voice in the dark.

Mara stopped cold. Beside her, arms draped dramatically over a stone cross, was Daniel’s ex-wife Claudia. Mara closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to clear her mind of the image. When Mara opened her eyes again, Claudia was still there staring at her with colorless eyes. Claudia’s skin was blue with the sheen of death, dark circles around her eyes and cheeks, her dress hanging in tatters. But Mara knew it was her. There was something about her expression, about the cold hatred behind her eyes. It couldn’t be. Claudia had died three years ago.

“You’re a figment of my imagination,” Mara said.

“You’re a figment of my imagination,” the creature parroted.

“I have to get home,” Mara said, “or Daniel will be angry.”

“Daniel will be angry,” Claudia said, and a malicious smile formed out of the purple remains of her lips.

Mara turned and ran. She tried to scream, but the sound fell flat around her. Her purse fell from her shoulder and landed in the crook of her elbow with a frightening jerk. She tried to untangle herself from the twisting leather, but her movements toppled her off-balance. In her frantic dance, she did not see the freshly-dug grave near her feet.

She fell and landed with all her weight on her back. Her breath was forced from her lungs. Every cell of her body with screaming, soundlessly. The last thing she saw was Claudia’s dead eyes peering over the lip of the grave and a cascade of dirt falling on top of her.

Her husband was waiting.