Today seemed like the perfect opportunity to bust out that good ol' Aragorn quote—because if ever there was a time for all of us to put on our "I'M GREATLY A'FEARED" capri pants, that time is now. The tales you butts submitted in response to last week's "write a scary story" prompt chilled me to my very bones—an accomplishment indeed, considering that my body temperature usually holds pretty steady at a toasty 127 degrees. You're either all burgeoning serial killers or masterful writers, and I'd prefer to put my money on the latter. Without further ado (I'll try to keep my nervous shivering to a minimum), here are last week's winners!
Sparklers' Choice (with 22 votes): igordead! For the second week in a row, her writing skillz made her your favorite! If you're prone to nightmares, don't even TRY to read her terrifying take on the prompt:
There was a song I remember from when I was a child. It was an Irish folk ballad about a girl who killed off her entire family. I’ve forgotten most of it, but there was one verse that particularly struck me: ‘She set her sister’s hair on fire/ sing rickety-tickity-tin/ she set her sister’s hair on fire/ and as the flames grew higher and higher/ she danced around the funeral pyre/ playing a violin, -olin, playing a violin.’
I was quite young, only five or so, but the image fascinated me. Much later, I tried it out myself. Not with my sister, I never had one, but with a girl I’d lured off the street. She wore a pink wool sweater that caught fire almost immediately and a butterfly clip in her hair. I remember it because afterwards it had melted onto her skull. For the violin part, I played Symphony No. 61 by Franz Haydn. It is a delightful little piece, one of my favorites. I’d learned how to play it especially for the occasion. I’d given the girl a little something, just enough to keep her nice and quiet while I set everything up.
Once the fire got going, she woke right up. I’d taken a few liberties with the verse. I’d not just set her hair on fire, I’d also added an extra ring of flames around her to keep her from moving with some gasoline. Of course, this played hell with the floorboards and afterwards, I’d been forced to vacate the premises rather quickly. I remember my excitement, the lovely roar of the fire, the smell of burning flesh, the smooth wood of the violin in my hands. It was an old violin belonging to my grandfather, I believe. I still have it.
At first, I just enjoyed the music. But then something interesting happened. The girl’s fear and pain overpowered the drugs I’d given her and she began to scream. She was rather young as I recall, probably still in her teens or early twenties. Her screams were shrill and high and she screamed and screamed as the flames whirled around her. They blended in with the music, changing it, reshaping it into something entirely different, something new. This was no longer Haydn’s Symphony No. 61. This was a new sort of music, and it left me breathless. It was beyond anything I’d ever heard.
They call me an arsonist. And I suppose that, in the common sense, I am. I deliberately set fires with the intention of doing damage. But I do hate it when they call me that. What I do is beyond merely setting fires. I loathe being defined by such layman terms. I am a musician and a philosopher. And I combine the two with fire. I create a new sort of music, one never heard before or fully appreciated. I pick my musicians and set my fires and then I conduct the music they play, such beautiful screams that fill the night, so full and round and varied that they move me beyond anything I have ever heard.
I fill the world with my music.
Dagger's Choice: I have to say, I was torn between echoeycaves and PlathAddict16! In both tales, the narrator's calm, logical tone makes the insanity of his words all the more chilling. Well done, both of you!
Here's an excerpt from echoeycaves:
Don't pay attention to the stories you've heard.. The stories about how I almost drowned a man in his own swimming pool and skinned his parakeet for good measure. The stories of my hanging children from the branches of an elm tree by their wrists. The stories of how I read the entirety of Twelfth Night to a woman while she huddled, trapped in a large birdcage, as thirsty insects slowly burrowed their way into her bloodstream. Those people don't matter. They might have mattered, if they had died. But they didn't even have the decency to do that. Now they're only scared, like you.
And one from PlathAddict as well:
Don’t scream. No one can hear you, and it gives me a headache. I get rather testy when I have a headache, and I tend to lose my normally sunny and genteel disposition. So I strongly advise shutting up. No need to make this any more difficult for you than it has to be.
No, I will NOT do this quickly. What is the point, the beauty, the drama in all that? Any idiot can do this quickly. A CHILD could do this quickly. I am a cut above the rest, and I will most certainly take my time and do this properly. Waste not, want not.
Now hush, my darling. The time is nigh. You will be transformed. You will be my piece de resistance. Please stop crying.
Phenomenal stories, everybody! You totally surpassed my expectations (and also gave me enough bad-dream fodder for the next 20 years. I will probably never sleep again). Let's lighten the mood a little with this week's prompt:
Write a short story or prose poem (max 500 words) about character who attempts something that is (or was) commonly thought of as impossible—like swimming the English Channel, or discovering the secret to alchemy, or becoming invisible. What amazing feats are humans capable of if they're willing to do anything to achieve their goals?
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Related post: Writer War Archives!