Flash Fiction Challenge: Horror In Three Sentences

Last week’s challenge: Roll For Your Title

This week’s challenge is easy to describe, but hard to execute:

Write a scary story in three sentences.

That’s it.

Remember: a proper story has a beginning, middle and an end.

It is not merely a vignette.

And, no, really — make it scary.

You will write these stories in the comments below, not at your websites or blog spaces.

I’ll pick my top three favorites to get the whole suite of my writing-related e-books (not including the newest, The Kick-Ass Writer, which will soon be published by Writer’s Digest, nudge nudge).

You’ve got one week.

Due by Friday the 18th, noon EST. One entry only.


  • She could see it moving in their car, parked just across the street with its’ windows reflecting the sputtering neon. “Open,” the sign announced in dripping red and toxic, superfund green. “Open,” the colors melted over the contours of the car, illuminating the thing tearing at her partner’s neck, watching her.

  • She took another drag of her evening cigarette and enjoyed the silence of the backyard.
    Something rustled in the holly bush to her left, then in the hedgerow directly on the right, then something scrambled under the planks of the deck. By the time she reached the door, they were upon her.

  • When someone tells you not to look up it’s usually for a good reason, but once again that darned curiosity got the best of me. Now here I am, strung upside-down with blood slowly oozing out the side of my bashed in head, and here I’ll stay until the next fool comes down this part of the cavern and decides to glance up. Then it will be my turn to teach the lesson.

  • It hummed towards me on thousands of impossibly light feet, so immense that the plate-like sections of the millipede’s long body could have served as armor for a warhorse. They creaked like ancient leather as the insect paused to run one antenna over my bound body, and I couldn’t even scream. It appeared to be dinner time.

  • When they go hunting, I hide.
    Usually they pass me by but today one of them stops—his legs towering over me, exceeded in size only by his hunger—listening, watching… hunting, and I hold my breath, wedging myself deeper into the crevice of grass and earth, certain he knows I am here, certain his eyes—and teeth—will soon fall upon me.
    Like a flash, I strike—unblinking I watch his body twist with the burning hurt, watch his eyes go red with blood as the look down and finally find me, watch his mind break as my venom reaches his brain, swirling into its core and curdling its flesh—and when it is over I slither, fast and faster away… before the others come.

    • I also posted about this challenge on my blog–with some tips for other entrants; I see a lot of good writing on here, but not many of these pieces have a beginning, middle, and end.

  • She finished planting the lettuce, baby chard and radicchio seedlings, and spread a nice thick slug bait barrier around them. Pleased with her afternoon’s work, she turned, checked the rat trap, and caught her foot, falling headlong onto the rain-parched grass.

    As dusk fell and the dew collected, the slugs avoided the trap she’d laid and headed for her nice, warm, moist orifices.

  • October 11, 2013 at 1:01 PM // Reply

    He tried to remember how long he had been here, two, maybe three days, or was it weeks, all he knew for sure was that his twin, in his twisted mental state, believed he had locked away an awful memory.
    His own brother, a man who was an identical duplicate of him, had been in a mental facility for two decades, because he thought his double was an imaginary friend, the boy in the mirror come to life.
    Less than four hours after he had stood face to face with him for the first time in more than twenty years he found himself gagged and pulled down into the depths of his own spider covered, cold, damp and musty basement, knowing he was long forgotten and counting the minutes until the end of his life.

  • Engendering Fate

    I’d just stuck the key in the ignition when I heard a faint rustle, looked into the rearview and saw the lamprey’s maw encircled by wild blonde lip and chin hairs. “Me n you is goin for a little ride,” my abductor crooned in an old woman’s voice, while bringing the business end of a cleaver to my neck. “Yes mam … SIR … YESSIR,” I stammered, immediately aware of my mistake, the effrontery mirrored in his recessive eyes.

  • Feeling watched from below, I reminded myself that sharks don’t live in rivers and what I am seeing could not be real. Too late and too perfect, the great beast rips off my clumsy leg at the hip and then, on its second pass, my floundering arm. As I sink below the bloody water I realize that no one will know where I am and I follow the shark’s cold, dead eye into the resemblant black.

    ~Neat challenge! Thanks!

    • I like it Jade. I’ll add a level of scary truth to your story. The Bull Shark, while not as big as the Great White or Tiger, is still a massive shark. It can grow up to 8 feet and weigh in at 300 pounds. Now the scary part. This shark has actually evolved to survive in freshwater and has in fact been documented to swim up freshwater rivers. Due to this fact, they have the most documented fatal attacks of any shark species. Just a little fun fact that most people are not aware of.

  • Chuck, this is one of the coolest flash fiction challenges yet! I have been having a great time reading through all of these awesome, scary submissions and can’t wait to do my own…

    That was his final thought as he stared unseeing at the computer screen lost in a writer’s block induced coma.

  • October 11, 2013 at 1:53 PM // Reply

    I am now severely claustrophobic. All I remember is bending over and pecking the corpse’s cold cheek. Now, my granny won’t loosen her icy grip on me.

  • Waking up in a cold sweat, breathing labored, and feeling the cold hard packed earth beneath his body, he couldn’t shake the images that flashed within his mind.
    The images of his wife and daughter in the “care” of that monster with those impossibly horrible tools, and the dawning horror that the monster was a man who looked like a “regular Joe”, in fact he looked exactly like, “No! No! Nooooo!”
    As he jumped up he saw their bodies laying there next to where he woke up and he fell down crying and sobbing.

  • Had there ever been a November more ridden with anxiety? Brad reached for the radio, but hesitated; he feared the worst, but not knowing was going to drive him insane. Finally, he screwed his courage to the sticking place, as it were, and flipped the on switch—and at the words issuing from the speaker, he felt his world riven and sundered: Sarah Palin was indeed confirmed as the next president of the United States.

  • Quick-fingered Jimmy pushed open the door and was met by the silver glint of metal flashing wickedly in the candle-light. As the cold steel blade sank into his chest, his much-vaunted luck finally ran out. His roving eyes settled on the face of his killer, and the pain in his chest began to resonate with a similar pain throughout his soul as he recognised masked face that had stalked him in his dreams for the past six nights.

  • Her jagged teeth, razor-sharp, jutted at every angle from her mouth, some piercing right through her luminous, paper-thin flesh. I struggled against the chains but they held me as fast as they had through all the decades of my confinement.

    She leaned in and said, “Kiss me, my love.”

  • The dank, dark atmosphere today made her second-guess her decision to photograph this place. She stepped into one of the falling down structures, closing the glass-paned door behind her. Before she could click the shutter, the slice of a blade, and she was gone.

  • Funerals always made her itch with nervous energy. Until today, though, when she hears the scratching – brittle nails against hand carved pine. She smiles to herself, thinks of how she was a widow…yesterday.

  • She struggled to whisper from her deathbed, but through the wheezing and long pauses to catch her breath, his grandmother told him that the Rider was out back, amongst the trees that lined the alley, sitting in the darkness, having chosen her house this night. When the Rider chooses us, she said, we are left without appeal and due no recompense, and we must leave ourselves behind and enter the darkness seated behind the Rider on the pale mount, and we are no more. But his grandmother did not die that cold night, for before the first glimpse of the circumference of the morning sun rising above the hills, he exited the front door, tread carefully under his grandmother’s window and along the chicken-wire fence, entered the alley between two blue spruces planted by his grandfather, and there he met the Rider, who was sitting on a great mount the color of bone bleached by the sun, and the Rider nodded, offered his hand, and together they rode west, ahead of the approaching dawn.

  • I find the old lady shivering next to my car; the last in the lot save for her own, sunken on its slashed tyres.

    I smile and open the door for her and say ‘don’t worry, I’ll give you a lift home,’ as she clambers in.

    She rubs her neck and fidgets with her coat and as I glance in the passenger-side wing mirror I see her large, hairy hand tug at a bulge in her sleeve.

  • ~Skin~

    “What should I wear tonight?” he asks, rising from the only piece of furniture in the dimly lit shed – a dumpster salvaged recliner with torn leather upholstery. He sheds his snake skin and lets it fall to the concrete floor, stepping naked out of its folds. Focusing his slitted eyes on the empty human shells hanging on the back wall, he chooses the appropriate costume for this night’s masquerade.

  • >>Vanishing Twin<<

    Overcome with weakness he goes and my strength grows. Fratricide before my own beginning. Three heartbeats and now only two, mother doesn't even know.

  • It felt like nothing special, just the tickling itch of a stray lock of hair poking the back of my ear persistently enough to wake me. My sleep-addled brain sent a hand to smack against the side of my head without even commanding my eyes to open. Something slimy, with legs–definitely not a stray lock of my hair–jerked away from my fingers, chittered out a dark, humorless little laugh, and then slithered inside my ear.

  • Sherri slipped under the covers next to Wayne while the opening credits rolled on Cold Case USA. There was an update on the Numbers Killer – the latest victim had a red #8 magnet in her tongue-less mouth. Just like the #9 and #10 magnets on Wayne’s fridge door.

  • I’m sitting there wasted, watching shit-night cable, blissfully popping the neurons in my cerebral cortex to the beat of some channel’s newly-wed, high-school, single-parent, benefit cheats when I almost piss my pants as I see the front door handle turn. There’s no reply when I demand to know who’s there but a second later, the drapes on the window flutter and I curse my fucking dealer for not closing it earlier when we had a smoke. The floor creaks behind me but I’m too far-gone to do anything as the darkness engulfs me and the cold, sharp pain explodes inside my abdomen.

  • “Such a sweetheart,” she coos, brushing a fingertip across the newborn’s cheek. “But auntie’s got to put you down now– got a mess to clean up.” Some of the blood from the mother had pooled at her feet, staining her toes crimson.

  • It was pathetically simple to get you to think about me – I just told not to do it. Now, I am right behind you, waiting for you to turn around. So, no matter what, DON’T TURN AROUND.

  • They told me not to enter the Dark Forest, but I did not listen. I can feel my insides liquefying as the spider’s venom eats its way through my body. I have failed in my quest for the medicine my mother needs to live, and now her death lies solely on my shoulders.

  • “You know it’s the only way,” it says to me, breath hot and cloying on my neck. Pangs of regret wracking my mind, I finally nod, and its tongue slips into my ear, papillae bumping along the canal. Time for one last thought — I hope this saves them — then the tongue flicks at my brain stem, sending every sense into static overload.

  • At first she swam.

    But soon the ice-blue cold of the heavy waves sunk deep into her muscles, slowing her progress until she began to sink.

    She started to cry but the ocean stole her tears, even as she let go of her last breath.

  • The house came along with the rest of the inheritance; all sixteen million of Uncle Albert’s un-explained fortune.

    When the men came to fit the new carpets we didn’t question the stained riddled floorboards, the join in the skirting halfway around the living-room or why the job was only ever completed halfway.

    It was always best to avoid asking questions of Uncle Albert.

  • The sight of the mangled, putrefying corpse roaming about in the sprawling manor set the old caretaker’s weak heart racing fast and a close encounter with this ghostly figure silenced his pounding heart forever.
    The news didn’t take long to reach and thus the stylish, experienced yet over-confident Detective Mack,in a moment’s fury claimed to get rid of the ‘undead’ problem; he set out that very night to hunt down the poltergeist-armed with a strong will and no proper equipment.
    The cloaked apparition that hid the raw, rancid flesh beneath- immediately spotted the neatly-dressed private-eye rushing towards it and behind him- a few weapon-wielding mortal men; carefully drawing the glinting dagger, the ghost subtly pierced the man’s aging body, slicing his intestines-not being miserly when it came to spattering blood, quickly dodging the clutches of the police, shrieking and dancing under the light of the cold moon and finally…emerging as the unchallenged phantom of the night.
    By Rohini N

  • It took a lot of haggling and bartering but in the end the way we worked it out was, I got to keep my place in the basement and he got to keep my family. It got to keep my family I should say. It.

  • Her vengenence was complete. The pool of blood in front of her was the only evidence of her actions. She took a deep breath…and dove in.

  • Death walked tall, adorned in fetishes from its numerous conquests, before me and with each step a different scream sounded out from under its footsteps; with each step a different cry came rumbling out of its mouth; Death it seemed had come for me.

    “Not you,” Death said. “but the thing that follows in your wake as it always has, stalking its prey.”

    I turned toward the thing and it lunged.

  • I watched Kayleigh from the bedroom window, spinning the wheels of her trike ineffectively in the mud, her delightful and infectious laughter filled the air and made me smile at the ironing board.
    I looked up when her laughter stopped, a white van had pulled up at the curb, and a man was leaning out of the window, extending his hand toward Kayleigh, who was clambering off her trike.
    My heart stopped and I spun around, flew down the stairs and out into the empty,silent yard.

  • I’ve been bitten; I know what this means. My .45 sits heavy in my hand, and I can hear Jim and Suzy whispering outside the door. The infection races toward my brain, but the bullet is faster.

  • The relentless banging and scratching on the door was slowly making her decision for her. There were only six bullets, and taking five of them with her wouldn’t help anyone. She put the barrel in her mouth and said a final prayer.

  • I used to make fun of the idea of transmigration of souls into inanimate objects, before I passed due to a long and painful process of lung cancer. Now my soul wanders over and over gain into these perfectly rounded white cylinders. I am eternally condemned to suffer the painful death of being burned alive, while my smoky soul is slowly sucked through my brain.

  • ** Turn and Burn **
    “Flip the card,” the gambler said in a confident bark the cold sweat leaking down his spine betrayed, “flip it and go kill that bitch.”

    Impatient since the hired killer offered a double-or-nothing bet on a single hand of stud, the gambler’s pair of Queens seemed safe when the killer’s draw on a 6-High Straight was busted by a second 6.

    “No, the bet was double-or-nothing for a murder,” the killer said, flipping over his third Boot and removing his cowboy hat to reveal a pair of ebony horns and a grin full of sharp, white teeth, “and since I can only kill her once..”

  • Bobby stood outside of the closed bedroom door, his head bent downward in contrition as the blood pooled around his bright white sneakers as it flowed under the door.
    “We just wanted to play,” he said as he gave a halfcocked turn of his head toward the door. “But I think Rocco played a bit too hard with Susie.”
    As I stepped around him and reached out for the doorknob there was a heavy thump from behind the door and Bobby added, “Don’t be mad, we were just playing.”

  • The humongous, gun weaving koala stood in the middle of the highway in the midst of traffic confusion, spreading terror through its evil eyes. It bellowed: “Chuck, you must choose between being stuffed with gum tree leaves till your insides explode, never ending jetlag or slow death by flat white drowning.”

    Quoth the Wendig, “Nevermore,” as he looked the beast in the eye, drew his gun and shot it dead, instantly stopping traffic chaos and stirring a seething feeling of resentment amongst the koala population that would spread around the world like a merciless plague, one with vengeance on its mind.

  • The stately old woman hovered before her ironing board, waiting for the heat to build in her vintage Westinghouse steamer. For seventy years, she had lived alone in a remote cottage, and had told them countless times that she could look after herself. All she needed was a good blanket to keep the chill off, and the latest nurse to come visiting had provided just the right amount of material, but even young skin needed a bit of pressing to make it pliable.

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