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.


  • I’m lying in bed in the dark, unable to sleep despite exhaustion, my dog snoring beside me. I had spent all day yesterday on the road racing, in vain, through a winter storm to the hospital where my mother was dying of cancer with only the nurses to hold her hand and murmur goodbyes. I hear something—a woman crying, I think—outside my window and sit up, quaking beside my growling dog, to see my mother, naked and wrinkled, her face contorted by rage, sorrow, and frozen tears, stumble through knee-high snow drifts towards my house.

    (I hate stretching big sentences out, so this was a good exercise. I love reading all these other responses.)

  • What a great challenge.My effort below:

    With my tooth aching and the urge to get to the kitchen to find the pain tablets my mind was occupied with relief.
    I rushed down the corridor as they watched and muttered amongst themselves in foul and hideous whispers.
    The realisation of my predicament, one beyond pain relief, dawned on me as I took my first gulp to wash down the pain tablets, now suddenly superfluous.

  • All I could remember was reaching home with her, getting naked and then everything went dark. As I slowly awake, I gazed her sitting nude over my knees, my hands tied, a knife in her right hand:

    – What are you gonna do to me…?
    – Going to? – She smiled, before taking a bite from something in her left hand. – You mean what I’m doing to you?

  • Mom dropped me off at Dad’s house for the weekend, but this time, when I went inside, he wasn’t waiting for me in the living room with a present. I found the bottle of anti-psychotic pills lying at the bottom of the trash about three seconds before he found me, and I knew from his nervous smile, and the sweat pouring down his face, that his paranoia would fall on me if I called anyone for help. It was to be the last weekend I ever spent in his custody, and it went every bit as badly as I imagined it would.

  • “Why are you doing this, Victor?” Principal Pendergast cried out from behind me, as he struggled with the chair and the ropes that bound him to it.

    His question made me think about the half dozen times I’d seen him coming out of the girls locker room, and the box of photos I found stashed in the bottom drawer of his desk.

    Turning towards him, I pushed his head back so that he would remember my face and said, “Because it’s my job to clean up this school for the children,” and I pressed the tip of the spoon against the outside of his left eye and began to dig.

  • I finally earned the money for that super cheap copic sale, booting up my computer in anticipation of placing my order. I couldn’t wait, jiggling in my seat as the page loaded but when staples logo popped up I knew something was off. There was only 2 pages of transfer paper.


  • He tossed his napkin at her so she could dry her eyes and walked to the restroom, expecting she would leave. Moments later, she followed him instead. The waiter noticed they had stiffed him on the bill, and wouldn’t you know it, they stole a steak knife, too.

  • One day, he smiled at his mirror only to have his reflection not smile back. Maybe he could have smashed the mirror or maybe he could have run away, but he just stood, gaping, while his unsmiling counterpart reached out towards him and drew him in. Trapped in the cold void behind the glass, he screams unheard as the reflection walks around in his place, living his life, always smiling.

  • She was born.

    Gradually, over the years, she came to the sickening realisation that she had gone through this before, this living and dying – not ever the same but always hideous, never-ending – cot death; abusive parents; starvation in Africa with flies crawling on her eyelids; drowning; childbirth; tumours throughout her pain-wracked body; food poisoning; the gradual amputations of advanced diabetes; “but women don’t have heart attacks”; falling from heights; malaria and beri-beri and cholera, crazed gunmen, pirates, drunk drivers, irresponsible electricians, civil war rapists and greedy politicians…and never, ever, not even once was she able to commit suicide, no matter how many times she tried.

    Until, once again, she died…

  • October 12, 2013 at 6:34 PM // Reply

    My vampire master swore he would let me live forever if I protected and sheltered him.

    I did.

    He didn’t.

  • Amy’s sweet appearance and innocent eyes belied the sensation of terror she conjured in the pit of my stomach. Something in her voice, a musical, unearthly timbre betrayed the illusion of the charming little girl that stood in the doorway. “Come closer”, she said, giving us a chilly smile, “you have nothing to fear.”

    This morning after I took the turkey fryer out to the patio I took a second to sharpen my ax.
    Last year we almost didn’t have dinner because as soon as I dropped him in the oil, the darned kid tried to climb out.
    This year I’ll make sure I cut the arms off before I drop him in.

    • The maggots are the first sign something is wrong. They are crawling up my arms, in between my toes, behind my eyelids, inside my skin, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to move or do anything to get rid of them.

      The second sign something is wrong is the coffin.

  • The room is blindingly bright, so much so that it limits the senses to touch, sound, and smell. I can feel the zip ties cutting into my wrists, smell the subtle hint of iron, and hear Sonata Pathetique’s Third Movement fail to drown out the sounds of his satisfied slurping, the steady drip of blood on tile, and the hopeless moans of torment. I don’t let myself beg for mercy as I listen to our only son, the sweet boy, devour his mother whilst Beethoven plays on delightfully in the background, underscoring the knowledge that his birth is what sealed our deaths.

    Just for fun…to set the mood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klXJhp3SG-4

  • The thing about Julie is…well, how do I put this without hurting her? I mean, is it a crime to attend a picnic? But seriously, all joking aside, the one thing I can say for certain right now, right this minute, in this surprisingly cosy little nook by the river is: the thing about Julie is me.

  • Everybody knew that Gabriel’s rich and fabulous lifestyle was an excessive carousel of bohemia that undermined his social status, as practically every night he pursued wining and dining followed by a showgirl look-alike great fuck. Once he was set for the final stage of the night’s affiance, the beautiful French coworker he so smoothly invited to the ‘Armand’ Michelin guide restaurant, who foot teased his hard dick under the table, giving him the hint he so expectedly craved for, was now on route in his fast car, although he thought it was strange she never once played lady-like and the slut was maybe too slutty. Even stranger was her invitation to her house on the Upper East Side of town, which he could not resist driven by the bulge in his pants that now led him to a tiny apartment on the basement floor, and well, they say a decapitated head still sees seconds after dismemberment, all too fast as she shut the fridge door in front of his pretty head now resting on top of a cold refrigerator shelf.

  • October 13, 2013 at 12:24 AM // Reply

    “These,” said my guide, “were the anxious artists and writers of the time Before, now made happy and harmless to themselves and the State.”

    Looking over a sea of vacant, smiling faces which stared at the vid screens or played computer games, I realized with horror what had been taken from them, and began to tremble. Invisible restraints now pinned my arms and legs, and my guard said, “everyone’s better off this way, and you can’t miss what you don’t remember,” before plunging the hypo into my neck.

    • October 13, 2013 at 12:27 AM // Reply

      I have to note that Scott Roche gave me the idea of the most terrifying thing in a bit of flash-fiction he wrote a few weeks ago.

  • I think one of the scariest things is the possibility that your life can be irrevocably altered in a moment and that, in that moment, something that is beyond your control—fear, hesitation, greed, lust—takes over and causes you to turn a bad situation worse. Here’s my three sentences:

    I always knew that the universe was saving up something special for me because my life was just too good, too free of challenge, devoid of the tough decisions and hard losses that give the lives of most people a defining context upon which to base their future decisions and actions. But something in me refuses to accept that the universe would be so . . . negligent that it would ruin the life of a good man, a good husband, a good citizen, so arbitrarily by taking away his ability to do the right thing when that moment of crisis arrived, to make him keep driving amidst the screaming and shouting of onlookers as the mangled remains of the women on 3rd Avenue recede in my rearview mirror. And I’m still contemplating the hubris of his universal folly when I hear the sirens and see the black and whites behind me, and although now I am in control and free to confront my next choice, I refuse to accept the possibilities, and so I press the accelerator.

  • The Sherrif could easily match my face to the FBI’s “missing” poster if I were not so badly decomposed, but he’s not close enough to notice my leaf-covered remains through the forest’s mid-morning mist.

    In a desperate hope that he’ll turn his head just enough to see my rotting flesh through the fallen foliage, I focus my will, attempting to make my ethereal fist solid, and slam his right shoulder with all my force.

    But he walks on through the dew soaked leaves unmolested (that makes one of us), never turning his head or realizing how close he had come to averting that which would consume his previously quiet New Hampshire town.

  • It was 3am and I was alone in my apartment, mindlessly flipping through TV channels to fight my insomnia when I got a text from unknown number. It wasn’t even from my area code, but it only said one bone-chilling sentence:

    “GO TO SLEEP.”

  • I wake suddenly with a full-throated scream, torn from a terrifying nightmare of being endlessly chased by a shadowy figure through a dreamscape city of half-formed streets and houses. With sleep-encrusted eyes barely wincing open, I grab the glass from the nightstand and take a sip. Cool, rich and globular, the crimson liquid soothes my torn throat, and I sleepily thank my corpse bride as she lies next to me.

  • When it was all over, the worst part wasn’t being made into mindless lemmings, slaves to our own creation; it wasn’t being stripped of our liberties, our dignity, of all control. It wasn’t even watching our newborn children being harvested for pure carbon energy to power the machine. 

    The very worst part—knowing that we all volunteered.

  • The locks clicked in place, and she heard her son’s tiny voice from behind the safe room door, “Mommy, is the thing inside Abby again?”

    She glanced down at the butcher knife in her trembling hand and back to her eight year old daughter– whose body was contorting, bones snapping, a hundred voices screaming from her wide open mouth as she climbed the wall like a spider, skirting the ceiling… inching closer.

    “If you can hear me… I love you, Abby,” she said as her daughter dropped to the floor in a crouch in front of her, “If I let it kill me your brother will die next.”

  • Zzzt, crackle and suddenly it was lights out! Was it a lifetime – or half a moment – that passed as I caught a peripheral glimpse of the reflected streetlight on the ax blade slicing hungrily into my neck? I’m left standing, stunned, bloody clothes and the stink of life clinging tenuously to my body; a bit of my left ear (with earring still intact) now death-gripped in my hand.

  • The vacuum nearly sucked Aubra back under the shuttering bulkhead. There couldn’t be much oxygen in the gear locker, but Jovian’s suit was still gassed up and hanging on the rack where he’d left it; Jovian, who’d overridden the security protocols and opened the cargo doors to deep space, evacuating the alien artifact and Perseid’s oxygen with it. She donned the suit when she had no other choice, but the air was bad inside.

  • The devil drinks decaf. While sipping his brew, Lucifer hands me a morning star armed with gleaming spikes. “Slaughter the last paper boy,” he whispers and I nod.

  • The blade of his knife twisted, plowing endlessly into the pit of my stomach-but I knew he would stop, because this torture, I was sure, was far worse than any form of death-I was wrong. The cold clutches of death were now only a whim to which I could grab, a relief from the pain, a pit without bottom, in which I would fall for all eternity, but that was when I knew he would stop-I was wrong. In my moments of woe among those endless days of torture, I screeched without care or feeling, for him to end my life, that it was no longer worth living, that I no longer wanted to care, and so, he left me to die, and proved that he had one more, cruel trick up his sleeve.

  • His dream, it was the pinnacle of his early works. Through careful planning and placements he followed in the footsteps of his heroes. In November 2036, Justin Bieber became the President of these United States in a landslide victory.

  • The steps grew louder with each unrelenting second. My heart raced, my throat burned. They steps stopped by me, and I screamed even though I knew there was no hope.

  • He gasped when the drop of warm liquid landed on his forehead then slithered toward his ear. The stupid upstairs neighbors had been partying all night and now their bathtub was overflowing. He turned on the light and caught a glimpse of himself, face streaked with rivers of blood, in the dresser mirror.

  • If you live in modern society then you already know what it’s like to be faceless, because They have gently and carefully extracted your face from you to make you into the bland caricature that shambles through the boring nightmare that is your life. But the absolute worst part is when They introduce you to your replacement, who looks like you and sounds like you and knows everything about you… and lives your life better than you ever could. All that’s left now is for you to study the life and habits and mannerisms of the poor airhead whose life you’ve been assigned so that you can show her that she could have made better choices.

  • The demonic cloud forced its way into my mouth and nostrils, intent on stealing my flesh. Once I felt it had fully entered me, I pressed my lips together and pinched my nose shut while silently boasting at it: “And now, my gasesous guttersnipe, we’ll see how well you do against someone who can FIGHT BACK!” To this day, I have no clear idea who won… or even if the fight ever ended.

  • At first they bled and twitched beneath her steady hands like newborn hatchlings.

    Soon, hundreds of eyes moved in unison as they followed the quivering movement of her thread and needle.

    When the task was done, the maid, now a crone let the thousands of hands propel her forward so she could join the quilt of human flesh.

  • I have barricaded the door the best way I know how – with heavy furniture, boxes, shelves anything I could – and I keep counting and re-counting my ammunition even though I already know how little there is.

    They scream outside the door, bloodthirsty and crazed, clawing at the wood, the knob, their clothes, each other; in what’s left of their minds, the party hasn’t stopped since the bombs started dropping, and I’m a loser for not joining in the “fun”.

    I wonder, as they start breaking down the door, if the gun should be pointed at them or the roof of my own mouth.

  • “What have I done?” Her voice echoed along the walls, the of the melting candle in her hand dancing along slick, crimson walls. It lay there, a black writhing mass of the floor, long limbs stretching out taloned claws, lips as thin as paper curling back to scream a wretched howl that made every hair on the back of her neck stand on end. A single tear fell down her face, glistening like the golden ecore of the gods in the yellow light of her candle, “What have I created?”


    Once upon a time, there was a kind young woman who gained the power to know all and do all.
    As she looked out across the helpless sea of her former fellow humans, she smiled.

    They needed her, and she was going to take care of them.


  • So many great stories here so far! It’s great to see how creative people can be with only three sentences. I want to wish luck to some, but there are just too many to list.

    Here is my stab at it:

    He caught her eye during his initiation, following the demands of her father and those well above him; she caught his eye a month later, when he realized that there could be a more pleasant route to the top.

    Moonlit dances, strolls in the park, he bought her a puppy and won her a prize at the fair; he was a perfect gentleman, but only because a sombre masked guard had to be within a five foot radius at all times.

    His promotion came and he was fed up of being a gentleman, within a year he broke his promises and left her in tears; that night he discovered why her guards always had to wear their masks.

  • Inhibitions Asunder

    The grass gives way to frolics and laughs, as abundant love intertwines two lives so fresh. A smile of vivid rouge runs clear from ear to ear; rays of vitamin D kiss the pale, lifeless flesh. Glinting in the sun, claret remnants of life descend the cold utensil of…death.

  • “I think it’s been 36 … no 6 … no 46 … days now that I’ve been in solitary. The light above is so faint, and I just want to sleep, but the guards won’t let me. Every time I shut my eyes, the guards bang on door, and my eyes shoot open, and my heart starts to race, and the man in the corner moves just a little closer to me.”

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