October 23

Fictober, Prompt 23 – “This time, do what I say.”

Original fiction, fantasy/horror.

Warnings: monsters/gross monster corpses (no great detail).


I slashed out, separating the head of the last shuffling monster from its body. It collapsed to the ground with an unpleasant squelch. I turned a quick, full circle to make sure that it really was the last one, then flicked as much ichor off my blade as possible before sheathing it.

The suddenness of the attack had startled me, even though I should have known better. I closed my eyes, getting my instincts under control, though undoubtedly my companions would have gotten a look at my eyes and face by now.

The suspicious part of my mind wondered if the one had been trying to provoke an attack deliberately, in the hopes that I would reveal myself. I didn’t think he was that much of an idiot, or that desperate, but I couldn’t be completely sure, not having known any of these people long.

Still, they had hired me to do a job and paid fairly for it, so I would see it done.

But I’d keep my guard up while I did it.

Under control, I stalked back over to where the whole group had, fortunately, listened to my last instruction to take cover.

“Out,” I said brusquely, jerking a thumb. Terrified, stumbling, they made their way out from under the rock overhang, gaping at me and shying away from the monster remains scattered around us. The corpses would collapse fully into ichor, but not for a couple of hours yet.

“Is it now clear to all of you,” and here I turned narrowed eyes on the man who had attracted the monsters’ attention in the first place, “that I am not exaggerating the dangers here?”

They were all silent, wide-eyed…but they all nodded.

“You’re not…” one of the women started, her voice barely a whisper.

“Human? No, not as such,” I said crisply. “That has not changed the fact that you hired me to be your guide, that I intend to do my job, and that I am your only hope of making it through alive. Are we clear on these points as well?”

Nods again, all around.

“Fine,” I said. “If you do, in fact, want to make it to your destination in one piece, then this time, do what I say.”

With that, I turned and set off again, picking my way carefully through the corpses, moving slowly enough that they could match my path, if they paid attention. Once we were out on the clear path again (such as it was), I turned one last time for a headcount.

Everyone was still with me.

I hadn’t yet lost anyone getting through the Barrens, and I didn’t intend to start now.

October 21

Fictober, Prompt 21 – “What did I say?”

Original fiction, dark fantasy/horror. A follow-up to this piece (Day 9).

Warnings: murder (off-screen), blood sacrifice, eldritch horrors, violent death.


I walked carefully through the ruins of the basilica, lifting my robes with one hem to keep them from the dirt and soot and rubble strewn across the floor. Fire raged elsewhere in the building, and the roof was long burnt away or caved in. Smoke obscured the overhead view, but I knew the night was overcast beyond the conflagration.

The flames had swept quickly through this part of the building, mostly stone as it was, so it was a bit more intact.

The Pact-Makers did not understand the concept of mercy.

I did not much understand it myself, anymore, time having show me too much of its results.

Sound ahead alerted me, and I quickened my step as much as possible. If I had found the one I sought at last, so much the better.

I had.

“The Voice” as his followers had worshipfully styled him for so long, was on his knees, scrabbling in the soot behind what was left of his throne, a crumbling wood and scorched metal seat. As I approached, quiet, he pulled out a large pack and nearly tore it open, desperate to look inside.

Whatever he saw relieved him, for he fastened it closed again, and then rose, pulling it on.

I thought he would bolt when he saw me, and a brief twitch of his middle-aged but charismatic features told me he wanted to. He fought the urge, however, and turned to face me, stepping out from behind the burnt throne.

“Have your demons had enough, sorceress?” he taunted. “Are you reduced to fighting your own battles now?”

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October 19

Fictober, Prompt 19 – “I feel strange.”

Original fiction, fantasy-ish, horror-ish. If anyone is interested, this is the same world as this piece from Fictober19, but this piece stands alone just fine.

Warnings: non-graphic discussion of forced shapeshifting? Not much in this one.


The sound of a shift happening on the bed brought my attention back to my patient. Born human, female, twenty-seven years old, worked at a car rental office at the airport in the big city two hours from here.

And, thanks to an unfortunate encounter with a worldmagic flare on her hiking trip with friends three days ago, now a shifter.

Hearing that the shift was complete, I turned to find a human woman on the hospital bed, rather than the housecat that had been there for the last three days. She was awake as well, staring at the ceiling with wide, terrified eyes.

“Jillian?” I asked softly, and her eyes snapped to me. I smiled sympathetically. “Can you understand me?”

Slowly, she nodded.

“Good,” I said, staying seated by the computer but I finished turning the chair so that I was fully facing her. “Do you remember that you had gone hiking with friends?”

She opened her mouth, closed it, and nodded again.

“Good, that’s a good sign,” I told her encouragingly. “Have you heard of magic before?”

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October 10

Fictober, Prompt 10 – “It’s so quiet.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: horror, implied monster, implied violent death.


“And you’re sure everything’s all right? I don’t like you being out there alone,” Anna said.

I tucked my cell phone more firmly between my ear and my shoulder, thinking for probably the hundredth time that I really needed one of those little Bluetooth earpieces or something. “It’s fine, I promise. It’s so quiet, what could possibly happen? And besides,” I cut her off when I heard her take another breath to protest, “it’s not like I’m staying out here. Just stopping by the house once a day to make sure everything’s okay.” Carefully, I stepped up onto the chair and tilted the little battered tin watering can over the last of the house plants. Why I left the most difficult to reach one for last was anyone’s guess, but it always worked out that way. Probably subconscious avoidance, or something like that.

“I guess,” she agreed, sighing. “I just wish you wouldn’t go after dark.”

“Not much choice, at this point,” I muttered, then sighed myself, stepping down off the chair and dragging it back into the kitchen. “It’s getting dark so early these days, and you know I don’t get off work until six-thirty.”

“All right. Text me when you get home?”

“Sure,” I promised, and she let me hang up. “Okay,” I said to myself. “What else?”

Nothing for today, when I checked the list they had left for me. Today had been plant-watering day, and I’d brought in the newspaper and the mail, and made sure the traps were empty of mice. This house-sitting thing was pretty easy, really, mostly just a chunk of time out of my evening, and even that wasn’t a big deal for a couple of weeks. I didn’t know the Carters well, but had seen no reason to turn down their request, being one of the nearer neighbors out here; they didn’t have any pets to worry about, and were even paying me a little bit.

The house creaked and settled around me, which I was more used to now after a week. It was an older house, a farmhouse originally, though the neighboring fields were now owned by a neighboring farmer. I couldn’t remember what the Carters said they did, but it definitely wasn’t farming.

“Well, that’s it for today, then,” I told the house. Shrugging my coat back on and sliding into my shoes, I flipped out the lights near the door. There was one lamp, distant in the living room, that they had left on a timer, but that light didn’t really reach this far. Still, I hesitated.

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October 3

Fictober, Prompt 3 – “I’ve waited for this.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: horror, monster, vampire, implied blood-drinking, implied violent death.


I held very still.

The man standing across the room did not smile, but the corners of his eyes tightened in satisfaction. “As I suspected,” he murmured, and stepped forward, careful to keep his holy symbol in front of him.

I edged back, lips curling involuntarily at the sight of it. Unfortunately, this gave him a glimpse of fang, which elicited another quick nod from him. He stepped forward more confidently this time, making sure that the rope held in his other hand was clearly visible to me as well.

The rope that trailed up to the boards covering the large window high above, which I could now tell were not fastened as securely as they had seemed at first.

It was a well-set trap, I had to acknowledge, if only in my own mind. He had driven me to this place cleverly, methodically, and there was nowhere in this particular room that would be free of sunlight if he pulled those boards, and we both knew it.

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October 31

Fictober, Prompt 31 – “Scared, me?”

Warnings: monsters, implied hunting. Some Halloween spookiness to finish things off.

Acknowledgment: This whole piece was inspired by a creepy Halloween night description that LiveJournal user eryne-chan wrote many years ago in an LJ RPG. I really liked the description and saved it, and wanted to do something in tribute (though this story is entirely unrelated to the original RPG post). The last half of the last line is borrowed directly from her description, because I could not get it to sound quite right with any other wording. The rest is merely “inspired by.” Happy Halloween!


I always patrol the streets on Halloween. I start early, before the sun is fully down, as the little children and their parents make their trick-or-treating rounds. I’m well known by now, and many of the children wave excitedly when they see me, exclaiming over whichever guise I have picked to wear this year. Their parents nod to me in thanks for the extra pair of watchful eyes.

There are some monsters that would snatch children away.

I nod back, but do not speak to them.

Dark comes early here, at this point in the dying year. Soon enough the streetlights are flickering on, pools of warmer golden light, a safer companion to the cold light of the moon, rising above.

Some of the streetlights continue to flicker, never quite coming on.

The parents with children avoid those streets. The older children, the ones allowed to walk together without adult supervision, make an appearance in greater numbers now.

They do go down the streets with flickering lights, encouraging each other toward the lighted doorways and spookily welcoming decorations.

“Scared, me?” they ask each other brashly, and do not listen to the instincts that tell them to stay away from darker paths.

I do not stop them. That is not my purpose, and in any case, it is mostly safe.

The moon is thin this year, its light weak.

Darkness steals into the spaces between houses, thickening between the pools of lamplight, creeping up to fill the treetops. With true darkness, the children are not the only ones on the streets anymore. More figures, costumed and masked as is appropriate, join the children, following in their footsteps, accepting candy at doorsteps but never taking their eyes from those they follow.

I follow them, and they are forced to nod in acknowledgement. They follow the children, as is their nature, but they do nothing else.

Adults begin to return to the streets, costumed themselves now, heading for restaurants and parties and bars. Other figures join them and are complimented for their costumes. They smile realistic sharp smiles, and nod in thanks, and wait.

They too are forced to nod in acknowledgment as I pass by. They follow the adults, as is their nature, but they do nothing else.

For now.

If the adults notice anything amiss, they brush it off as a product of the atmosphere.

“Scared, me?” they ask each other jokingly, and do not ask why the atmosphere feels the way it does.

Hours pass, and still I patrol the streets. Parties wind down, and people make their way home. Those that know, or sense, that they are not alone hurry. Many hurry. Some move more slowly, unaware, or too inebriated, to realize they should be watching the time.

The seconds tick by. I can hear them in head, though the large clock on the main street counts only minutes and hours, silently.

Almost.

I hold my breath, and many others hold theirs (or not) with me.

The clock strikes midnight.

There is no chime, as there might have been in older times, but all know that it has come. Even the drunkest people feel a sudden chill, and the darkness deepens as the moon slips behind the trees, acknowledging that the time of its pale light is done.

There is a moment of stillness.

I smile.

Masks begin to slip, and other smiles grow sharper.

Those humans who have not made it safely home must now make their way through streets that are less friendly. Some will not make it unscathed. Some will not make it at all.

The darkest hours of All Hallows Eve are our time…and dawn is a long way away.

October 29

Fictober, Prompt 29 – “I’m doing this for you.”

Warnings: monster, creepiness, not much else. Horror, of sorts.


I reeled in another clump of lake weed, and pulled in a deep breath, cultivating patience. Fishing was not my favorite pastime, a feeling exaggerated by the fact that it wasn’t going well today.

“How much longer must we sit here?” the monster asked from the other side of the boat.

Frustration surged up despite my best efforts, and I spun around to face it, scowling.

“I’m doing this for you,” I pointed out, “because you desperately wanted panfish for some unexplainable reason, and even more inexplicably you wanted me to do the fishing. You are well aware that I’m bad at this.”

“The contract—” it began, scowling back.

“The contract,” I interrupted sharply, “states that we will provide you sustenance in the form of livestock, once every two weeks. Anything additional to or apart from that is on a voluntary basis only, and I’m fast running out of a desire to continue volunteering. If you still want panfish caught by me, then shut up. If you don’t, then tell me so we can both go do other things.”

Not that I knew what the monster did with its time when it wasn’t bothering someone in town, but at least it might stop bothering me.

It bared sharp teeth (the one thing about its form that it couldn’t hide or change) at me.

I bared my blunt, human teeth right back at it, snarling. “Well?”

The teeth vanished behind something that was dangerously close to a pout, and it turned away, apparently unwilling to call it quits.

If part of me was less disappointed about that than it should have been, I saw no need to acknowledge it.

Rebaiting my hook, I cast my line back out into the lake, and waited.

And waited.

The monster continued to…sulk? Its semi-furred back was to me. It had chosen a weird shape today, vaguely humanoid but with fur and other, almost cat-like features, though no cat had ever looked like that. It almost reminded me of that one musical with the weird cat costumes, now that I thought about it. Did the monster know about that? Had someone given it access to the internet? That was a truly terrifying notion.

“Why did you want me to catch your fish?” I asked to break the silence and my own increasingly weird train of thought.

Its head turned slightly until one gleaming eye was peering at me over its shoulder. “Because you smell the best.”

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October 28

Fictober, Prompt 28 – “Enough! I heard enough.”

Warnings: bad language, implied past harassing behavior, implied violent death, monster, slightly ambiguous ending? Horror.


“You stupid bitch! You can’t tell me where to walk on a public—”

“I can when you’ve repeatedly been asked to stop harassing my friend and persist in doing it anyway.”

This is harassment, you can’t just—”

I raised one extremely unimpressed eyebrow at him. “You’re the one spending your Friday nights walking around in a serial killer mask, getting your kicks by scaring random strangers. If one of us is in danger of harassing somebody, it’s not me.”

This launched him into another diatribe, with more insults liberally peppered throughout. I was tempted to cast my own aspersions on his character (well, more than I already had), parentage, and intellectual abilities, but restrained myself with effort.

A quick glance showed me that Sasha had snuck by while I was physically blocking him from following her, and she was now out of sight.

“Enough!” I cut him off. “I’ve heard enough. I can’t stop you from walking up and down a public street.  I get that it’s almost Halloween, and you’re not the only one in costume. Plenty of the bar goers even seem to appreciate the scare. But I can and will prevent you from scaring my friend, who has to walk by here for her job every night. She has repeatedly asked that you leave her, specifically, alone, and you have refused, which definitely moves you out of ‘sort of acceptable Halloween creepy’ and solidly into ‘actually creepy asshole.’ So, I will be here every night to walk with her and prevent you from being that creepy asshole as far as she is concerned. Capiche?”

He swore at me again, voice low enough to be muffled by the mask, and turned away.

I wished desperately that I could give him the ass-kicking he richly deserved. Halloween was big in our town, had been for almost a century, and he’d become an (unfortunate) fixture in the past couple years. If he kept his scares to the drunk bar patrons who were looking for that sort of thing, or for ‘fun’ selfies with a famous fictional serial killer, that would be fine.

But that wasn’t enough for our masked friend. I didn’t think he was a real danger to anyone, fake knife notwithstanding, but he was definitely the kind of asshole who enjoyed actually scaring people unwillingly, and that wasn’t cool.

He headed back into the dark alley that he enjoyed lurking in, with one more obvious glance and a raised middle finger at me.

Man, he really deserved that ass-kicking, but I kept my feet firmly planted on the sidewalk outside the alley. He’d not raised a hand or made any attempt to grab or harm me, even now when he’d been really angry, and I wasn’t going to be the one to escalate things.

Something else moved farther back in the alley.

Something big.

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October 27

Fictober, Prompt 27 – “Can you wait for me?”

Warnings: monster, implied violent death, brief mention of blood. North woods horror.


I sighed as Matt threw his plate into the trash bag and started for the lake shore.

“Can you wait for me? We can go together if you just give me a minute to pack everything away,” I called after him.

“It’ll be dark soon, though!” he protested, turning to face me but still walking backwards towards the kayaks. “I want to watch the fish some more.”

“All right,” I told him, sighing again. “Just don’t go too far until I get there, okay?”

“Okay!” he agreed, off again immediately.

As I turned back to dinner clean-up, I realized that his life jacket was still sitting next to mine on the spare picnic table.

“Matt!” I called, “come get your li—”

He wasn’t there. The kayaks sat where they had been since we’d come back earlier in the afternoon, untouched.

“Matt?” I called again, uneasy. “Come back and grab your life jacket before you go.”

No answer.

Unease growing, I put down the pot and started after him. He’d probably just gone into the woods to chase after some interesting plant he’d caught sight of, but usually he yelled for me when he found something exciting.

As I crossed the campsite, peering into the woods on either side, there was no sign of him. There had been no sound either, of someone moving through the leaves and underbrush. I increased my pace, hurrying all the way down to the lake shore, but he wasn’t there either. The kayaks were untouched, the paddles next to them.

Really worried now, I turned back. “MA—!”

He was standing behind me, watching me.

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October 26

Fictober, Prompt 26 – “You keep me warm.”

Warnings: creepiness, monsters, ambiguous ending. Horror.

(Credit for this idea goes to my friend KB, who has three lovely kitties.)


I wiggled carefully to avoid disturbing the cats as I adjusted my blanket and reached for my glass, book braced open with one hand. After a drink, I set it carefully down and chanced giving them each some head rubs, first Cinnamon’s tortoiseshell head, then Sky’s black one.

“Such good kitties,” I cooed at them, grinning as they both accepted the petting agreeably, shifting closer against my legs. “You keep me warm, you like getting scritches, and of course you are both a-do-ra-ble.”

Cinnamon and Sky had been restless today, and not in the way of their usual high-energy play. I frowned slightly remembering it. They had been alert for hours, almost seeming like they were on patrol, walking the perimeters of rooms, stopping regularly at windows and doors, watching. Staring at the ceiling, staring at corners. It got to the point where I had checked things over a couple of hours ago myself, almost convinced that something was wrong. If there was, I hadn’t found it. I had even checked the garage and outside the house too, but everything seemed normal to me.

But they had both settled down a little while ago, finally coming to sit with me as I read on the couch. The house wasn’t particularly old, but there had been a few mice, especially with the weather starting to turn colder outside. Maybe there had just been a mouse or two in the walls, and they’d been trying to track it down.

Returning to my book, I read for awhile, utterly content.

Sky’s head came up first, ears alert. Cinnamon followed. They both looked around, as if searching for something they had heard.

I held still and listened. The clock ticking in the kitchen, faint sounds of wind and passing traffic from outside. Distant hum of the furnace downstairs.

Nothing out of place.

Except that something was, because both cats had risen and jumped down from the couch. They paused there, crouching on the floor, staring across the room at an empty corner.

There was no play in their movements, only hunting intent.

The corner was empty.

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