Costumed Curses: And the Winner Is…

I know you’ve been waiting. I know you’ve been wondering…

Okay, that’s a lie, because I know MOST of you didn’t even pay much attention to the contest. *aims SQUIRT BOTTLE OF SHAME at readers*

But that’s okay, because I’m delighted to announce that the WINNER came from this very blog. We had ten awesome entries, and it was really difficult to choose the best: some were funny, some were fairy-tale-rific, others gave us a shiver. But in the end, we narrowed it down, and now we’ve got four great offerings, creepy and fanciful, and I know you’ll love them all.

So without further ado, the winners of the Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest ARE…

In first place, our HERO: N. E. White, “Blood, Flesh, and Bone”

In second place, WARRIOR: Leslie Fulton, “Murphy’s Law”

In third place, our MINION: Stacy Bennett-Hoyt, “Stuck in the Loop”

And an unplanned HONORABLE MENTION goes to Eleni Sakellis, “The Bridge,” because we just couldn’t resist this story.

So winners, claim your badges and be sure to email me at KRISTINLYNNMCFARLAND AT GMAIL DOT COM (yep, you have to translate into characters, sorry bots), so that I can mail you your goody bag and help arrange for other prizes!

And readers, you can now enjoy our winning story.

Blood, Flesh, and Bone

N. E. White

420 words

Lilia Lluc buried her husband’s fingers, careful to scoop up the blood soaked soil and turn it under along with the severed digits. She wouldn’t want her children investigating the dark stain.

She frowned, thinking she would never be free of her strange children, then immediately chastised herself for such a blasphemous thought.

“What are you doing?”

She glanced up with a start. Her heart felt as if it would leap out of her chest.
A strange man stood above her, his face shadowed by his wide brimmed hat. The sun hung low in the western, clear sky, throwing long pillars of shadow through her almond orchard.

Standing, she swung her bloodied hand behind her back. In her other hand, she held tight to the ceramic succioro.

She gave him an innocent smile. “Hello and welcome. Are you lost?”

The man squinted at the sun. He snorted a laugh then said, “Actually, yes, I think I am. I was just passing by on the road…and, well, here I am. I’m not sure how I got here.”

Lilia kept the smile on her face though she did not feel it. Whether the stranger or she would enjoy the coupling, it mattered not, but she soon learned she might as well be pleasant enough with them. After all, she would be the last thing they ever saw.

Slipping the succioro into the pocket of her apron, she trailed her fingers across the top hem of her shirt, straining the fabric over her bosom.

“Do you want me?” she said.

The man took a step back, hands up in defense, but then he removed his hat, his eyes scanning her body before settling on her breasts.

“Yes,” he said, his voice already husky.

She sighed, the repetitive manner of the ritual boring her. Pointing to a nearby tree, she directed him to lay down and remove his trousers. Lifting her skirt, she straddled him and began a rhythmic rocking, waiting for him to plant his seed.

When she and her husband had failed to conceive within the first two years of their marriage, they had tried everything, until finally they consorted with a witch. Her potion had required her husband’s blood, flesh, and bone, a price that many would have thought too high. But not her husband. He said he was willing to sacrifice a bit of himself for his children.

And it worked. Oh, yes, each time it worked.

But the witch had not said anything about whose seed would take root.

The End

Costumed Curses: The End is Nigh

People, the end of the Costumed Curses flash fiction contest is TOMORROW, October 27, at 23:00 EDT.

So far from this blog, we’ve had one entry. ONE. I am deeply ashamed. You have cast dishonor on my family and on my people. I may never show my face on Twitter again. I shall have to punish myself by writing my own story and posting it here tomorrow.

Plus, if this were a contest between my blog readers and Emmie’s blog readers, Emmie’s readers would be spanking you guys with a rubber spatula. And you probably wouldn’t even notice!

So, COME ON! 500 words! You can do it! Just go to this page and leave your entry in the comments!

Wish: Costumed Curses Entries

The Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest is ongoing, and, just to entice you, we’ll be featuring some of the entries as we approach the deadline. Remember, we have awesome prizes for our winners, including an Amazon gift card, goodie bag, and partial-manuscript critiques!

Click the image above to be taken to the main contest page, where you can remind yourself of the rules and post your own story in the comments. Also visit CurseMaster Emmie’s site for more stories!

Wish

by Chris Goodwin
474 words

I can still hear them. Oh, God.

I know they’re not there, there’s nobody there. Nobody is talking to me. Nobody is talking. Nobody.

Did I see something move? Every now and then, I fall for that one. I should have learned by now, but I– There it is again! Nothing.

I can hear them. Always.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

I live here, in the forest. Nobody comes around here. Nobody comes, except for them.

I’m getting off topic already, aren’t I?

I used to live with my wife–

Sorry.

I lived with my wife and daughter, until just recently. Margaret was her name. My father trapped and sold pelts, while my mother taught at the school. She taught me writing. My father traded with a man with a daughter, Margaret. She was shy. It was her father’s idea to write to each other.

The letters arrived. At first, they were very short. Maybe a page. After a time, though, she grew comfortable telling me things she’d tell nobody. I’m lying if I said I didn’t feel the same way.

Who’s there? Never-mind.

After years, I finally met her and we were in love. I assumed, at least.

Years passed, and we married. She moved to our little town.

There was a bad accident. My father didn’t make it. I took over. She didn’t like that, but she smiled anyway. And then we had our beautiful daughter.

And then I met him.

Checking my lines at the river, I looked up and there he was. Tall man, thin. Dark eyes. That smile.

Is someone at the door? No, it can’t be. No, no, I’ll check.

Ah… I knew better.

Him. Right. Sorry.

He told me things. Horrible things. “Your Margaret doesn’t love you. She doesn’t need you.”

I told him to shut up.

“The whole town thinks you’re a fool. But I can help. I can give you three wishes! Just ask!”

I asked why? He shrugged. I agreed to get him to leave. He left.

I went home early, spooked. Went home to my family.

She was there, with someone else.

“No!” I remember screaming.

We fought later. She said she was leaving with my daughter. That she didn’t need me.

And then I said it.

“I wish you needed me more than anyone ever!”

“Granted,” his voice whispered. Margaret fell, sick. She dropped our daughter to the floor. She bled, while Margaret turned white. It was–

I can’t describe it. Not thinking, I said out loud, “I didn’t want this! Make it stop! Make it stop for both of them!”

“Granted!” The voice spoke louder. His voice.

I buried them the next day, and moved away from the town. I drank. I got scared.

And I said “I wish I wasn’t alone anymore.”

And there it was. Loud. Yelling. Piercing.

“Granted.”

The Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest HAS ARRIVED.

The time has come… for you to wow us with your fairy tale creepiness.

So what is a costumed curse, you ask? A poisoned apple, a cursed spinning wheel, a dress that forces you to dance until you’re sweating blood. A kiss that kills instead of saving, a smiling face that lures you to your death. An assassin’s blow that feels like a caress, a whispered word that deafens. A granted wish that turns to dust, a maestro’s work that rots the brain…

The choice is yours: hide the evil and make us bite. We want dark fairy tales, stories that make our hair stand up and keep us awake at night, wishes, dreams, and hopes gone wrong.

BUT our wish (that will be granted, lest we punish you) is that you follow the rules. And what are those, you ask? Well…

When: 15 October at 0900 EDT (THAT’S TODAY!) until 27 October at 2359

Genre: Fantasy and all sub-genres. Dark fantasy, urban fantasy, horror fantasy, epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, fairy tale fantasy, dystopian fantasy, whatever. (No sci-fi this time, sorry!)

Theme: Curses masquerading as blessings, granted wishes, deepest desires, secret yearnings. Take a gift and twist it. Take a wish and make it rot. Grant a deep desire and watch it burn.

Length: 500 words.

How to Enter: Post your entry in the COMMENTS TO THIS POST, and be sure to include the following information:

  • Your NAME
  • Your TWITTER HANDLE or EMAIL ADDRESS*
  • Your WORD COUNT

If these things are not included, you will have to drink from the Cup of the Blind, which will erode your entry into nothingness. Meaning, you will be disqualified and will have to wear the Cone of Shame.

*No, we won’t use your email address for anything other than notifying winners, distributing prizes. No, we won’t give it to evil cyber stalkers. No, we are not evil cyber stalkers. Does anyone use the word “cyber” anymore?

Prizes: Super snazzy prizes will include an Amazon gift card, manuscript critiques, goody bags (when was the last time you got goodies in the POST?! Alas, these will have to be limited to US residents only because we’re broke), and mucho de bragging rights. And some sweet badges which will be revealed later. Muahahaha! Winners will be crowned as follows:

  • 1st Place — HERO
  • 2nd Place — WARRIOR
  • 3rd Place — MINION

Your Judges: Me, of course, and Emmie Mears. We will be judging the posts on originality, use of the theme, quality of writing, and general badassery. R-rated stories are fine, but we’re not looking for erotica. Some sex is okay, but remember the theme and ask if it’s necessary. Don’t shoot for shock value. Wow us with your story and how you weave in the prompt.

Now, go! Be free! Write to make us shiver! And look forward to some featured stories, some curdled wishes to burn your mind.

Best of luck from,

Announcing The Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest!

 

Are you longing to celebrate the season? To put on fanciful makeup and scare the bejebus out of the people who know you? And do you ever wish you could scare more than just your neighbors and friends?

I heard those secret yearnings.

And because I heard those secret yearnings, I’ve teamed up with the fabulous Emmie Mears to bring you a creeptacular flash fiction extravaganza.

Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest

When: 15 October at 0900 EDT until 27 October at 2359

Genre: Fantasy and all sub-genres. Dark fantasy, urban fantasy, horror fantasy, epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, fairy tale fantasy, dystopian fantasy, whatever. (No sci-fi this time, sorry!)

Theme: Curses masquerading as blessings, granted wishes, deepest desires, secret yearnings. Take a gift and twist it. Take a wish and make it rot. Grant a deep desire and watch it burn.

Length: 500 words.

How to Enter: There will be a post bearing eerie similarity to this one that goes up at 0900 sharp on 15 October. On that day, you may post your entry in the comments WITH THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION (this is where I find out who reads the submission guidelines):

  • Your NAME
  • Your TWITTER HANDLE or EMAIL ADDRESS*
  • Your WORD COUNT

If these things are not included, you will have to drink from the Cup of the Blind, which will erode your entry into nothingness. Meaning, you will be disqualified and will have to wear the Cone of Shame.

*No, we won’t use your email address for anything other than notifying winners, distributing prizes. No, we won’t give it to evil cyber stalkers. No, we are not evil cyber stalkers. Does anyone use the word “cyber” anymore?

Prizes: Super snazzy prizes will include an Amazon gift card, manuscript critiques, goody bags (when was the last time you got goodies in the POST?! Alas, these will have to be limited to US residents only because we’re broke), and mucho de bragging rights. And some sweet badges which will be revealed later. Muahahaha! Winners will be crowned as follows:

  • 1st Place — HERO
  • 2nd Place — WARRIOR
  • 3rd Place — MINION

Your Judges: C’est moi, of course, and Emmie Mears. We will be judging the posts on originality, use of the theme, quality of writing, and general badassery. R-rated stories are fine, but we’re not looking for erotica. Some sex is okay, but remember the theme and ask if it’s necessary. Don’t shoot for shock value. Wow us with your story and how you weave in the prompt.

What are you waiting for? Start writing! And feel free to talk it up on Twitter using the #CostumedCurses hashtag! See you Monday!

Love and kisses!

Yours,

 

The Cheese Factory Children

In case you’re curious, the idea for this story came from a very silly Facebook conversation with some of my WANA112 classmates. The concept for it came from the Boston Molasses Disaster, which holds a certain morbid fascination for me.

Also, this may be the weirdest thing I’ve ever written. I almost pitched it half a dozen times, but here it is. Enjoy. Or run screaming from what goes on in my head. Regardless, I’m feeling a little sheepish about the whole thing.

Perhaps I should’ve just written about baby sneezes, which was a topic I had in mind. (Click the link! Click it!)

The Cheese Factory Children

Robbie usually didn’t notice the smell. It was only when someone said something like “What smells like feet?” or, “What is that god-awful stink?” that he started to smell it again. Not even a good strong alchemical bath took the cheese smell off, not that Robbie’s parents could afford alchemical treatments.

But the smell was really the least of Robbie’s complaints about working at the factory.

“You’re late,” the foreman growled when Robbie punched in that morning.

“A minute!” Robbie protested. “My sister—”

“I don’t care. And you’ll stay ten to make up for it.”

Robbie threw his card back into the basket. The foreman gave him a greasy smile as Robbie pushed past to take his seat on the factory floor. Robbie could feel the foreman’s eyes follow him across the floor, and he felt a trickle of sweat run between his shoulder blades. The foreman sat by the door because it was cooler or warmer there, depending on the season. He also sat there so that he could watch the boys and know who needed a beating to keep him going.

It was supposed to be cool on the cheese-packing floor, for obvious reasons, but Robbie could see the cheeses sweating as much as he was. Whatever the alchemists did to keep it cold, it seemed like they couldn’t keep up with the unholy heat baking the city today.

Baking the cheese, too, by the smell of it.

“Hey,” Ty said when Robbie took his place beside him.

Robbie grunted a response and started unwrapping the cheese in front of him. The conveyor carried them by, slowly, one at a time, while the boys on the factory floor removed the cloth.

“This is Paul,” Ty said, gesturing toward a new face across the conveyor. “He’s new.”

“No good for you,” Robbie told the new kid.

The boy shrugged. “It’s something. My mom wants me to be an alchemist.”

Robbie and Ty both laughed. “Never gonna happen,” Robbie said.

Paul shrugged again. “Well, this is a start. They run the factory, don’t they?”

“Nah,” Ty said. “They work here just like us. They keep it cool.”

“Kind of,” Robbie said.

Paul laughed with them this time, even though he still looked confused.

An hour passed as the boys unwrapped cheese after cheese. Hard and soft cheese, smelly and neutral, hundreds of cheeses went rolling by. They took the cloth off and put it back on the belt for the skilled guys down the line to wrap in waxed paper. Robbie saw Paul wrinkle his nose a few times as a riper specimen passed by on the belt.

He’ll never last, Robbie thought, not with a nose like that.

The heat increased every minute, it seemed. Pausing to wipe a bead of sweat from his eye, Robbie looked up and saw one of the alchemists arguing with the foreman. She looked cool, even while she shouted at the foreman. The foreman, on the other hand, looked redder than a cooked crab.

The alchemist stalked away from the foreman, finally, her expression satisfied. She patted Ty on the pack as she passed. “Sorry you boys got caught in this,” she said. “When the time comes, just ride the belt.” She winked a brown eye at them.

After she passed, Ty caught Robbie’s eye and shrugged. Alchemists were weird.

The cheese grew sticky. Robbie’s fingers grew a pair of sticky, stinky white gloves, like the mold that grew on some of the stranger cheeses. He had to wipe the sweat from his face with his shoulder to keep the cheese out of his eyes.

Paul looked miserable, like he was wondering what he had gotten himself into. This was way worse than the foreman would’ve told his parents.

Robbie grimaced. It was the worst he’d known it, and he’d been working here since he was seven.

The bang came without warning, an echoing boom that carried with it a strong smell of burned cheese, hot and rancid and tasty enough to make Robbie’s stomach growl. Some shouts rang out farther up the line as the boys nearer the coolers saw whatever had happened. The foreman ran by, shouting something Robbie’s mom would’ve washed his mouth out for.

Robbie bobbed on the balls of his feet. He could see some of the boys starting to run and—he had to rub his eyes, cheese-gloves or not—an expanding, rolling blog of yellowish-white spreading over the floor.

It looked like the coolers had become ovens and blown forth, like a volcano of melting cheese.

The crowd hit him with a wave of still more heat, the raw body heat of a hundred panicking boys. He could feel Ty behind him, tugging at him, trying to get him to join the crowd. The new boy was lost somewhere in the crush.

“Remember what I said, boys?” a voice asked. Robbie turned. The alchemist sat cross-legged on the conveyor belt, still looking cool and calm. He gaped at her for a moment as she passed, then scrambled up onto the belt.

“What are you doing?” Ty shouted as Robbie tugged him onto the conveyor. “We’ll get turned into soup!”

“I don’t know!” Robbie said. “She said to do it!”

In front of them, the alchemist’s back was straight, and she did not turn. The conveyor belt was chilly, though, like it was fresh from the coolers. Robbie shivered. He saw a boy fall down as the others shoved him. A few jumped onto the belt, but most just struggled to reach the doors, still distant.

The cries started when the hot cheese caught up with them. More struggled onto the conveyor when they felt the scalding, scummy goop hit their heels. Robbie helped a few of them, tugging a wrist here and a beltloop there. He turned once and saw Paul’s face, blistered red and dripping with cheese, utterly bemused.

An eerie silence fell as the river caught up with them, swallowing a few faces as it swept beneath the belt. Sour-milk steam rose from the cheese. Still the alchemist did not move.

As they neared the wall, they saw the foreman struggling to stand, like an elephant in a tarpit. He called out, cursing.

The alchemist turned, but she did not move to help him.

The foreman struggled closer to the belt and flailed for it, his large hand leaving cheesy smears on the belt. The kids pulled their limbs out of his reach, fearful of being pulled into the cheese with him.

He caught it once, just as Robbie approached. Robbie looked into the bubbly cheese and saw the foreman’s face, wide-eyed and frightened. He still cursed though, and swiped at Robbie with his other hand.

Robbie looked at the cheesy fist holding desperate to the belt. He looked up at the alchemist, who had turned.

She winked at him again.

Without thinking, he reached out and nudged the foreman’s fingers off, one by one. Well cheesed, they slid off without resistance.

The man fell behind him, sinking into the cheese.

Behind Robbie, a few boys started clapping. Droplets of cheese flew into the air as greasy palms met.

Robbie smiled. “I guess I don’t have to work late today.”