Looking for something to give you the chills ahead of tonight's Halloween festivities? Look no further, as we can now announce the results of our horror story flash fiction competition.
The entries ranged from the bloody and gruesome to the psychological, but one stood out for its combination of dark humor and impressively sharp writing. The decision, agreed upon unanimously by the judges, was 'The Roast Duck Killer' by Carly J. Hallman.
It's a fantastic read and we thoroughly recommend you head over to The Anthill, where the tale has been published for your enjoyment (read the winning entry here). If you like what you see, then keep an eye out for Hallman's forthcoming debut novel, Year of the Goose, due to be published this December by Unnamed Press.
Due to unforeseen changes in the schedule for the Capital M Literary Festival, we are no longer able to host a live reading for shortlisted finalists, so we have chosen an outright winner. Capital M has kindly offered our winner a meal for two as a new prize.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter – there were a number of other excellent stories among the submissions. In particular, we'd like to commend Caroline McKenzie's 'Salt', which we have awarded an Honorable Mention.
Caroline was just 11 years old when she wrote the following and we felt that it was also worthy of publication.
‘Salt’ by Caroline McKenzie (Honorable Mention)
They tried to keep me away.
They tried everything.
Mostly, with the salt.
The grains of pearly white,
Forming a vague circle on the bare wooden floor.
They thought it would keep me away.
That it would batter of my revenge as one does a fly.
They have forgotten everything already?
“Are you ready?” the man asked.
His friend nodded with a sly smile.
They didn’t know I was huddled against the very door they were leaning on,
Begging God to make them go,
Make them walk away remembering none of this.
My thumping heart left yet another imprinted in the still air.
“We must wait until he is asleep, get me?”
My eyes stung.
Having a staring contest with Death isn’t easy.
Death is the Master of such crafts.
“He won’t see it coming.”
The oblivious minds of such men.
I’ve seen what’s to come.
What’s to be.
Not in a literal sense.
I’m no fortune teller,
It’s just … I can sense things.
But they’re like vague memories,
Those tingling feelings that hold my toes in a cold embrace,
The slight shadow of a shiver that climbs my spine,
Grasping each vertebra with frozen fingers.
I can do things.
Things that normal being shouldn’t be able to do.
They helped me do that.
They weren’t aware of it.
They made me,
They kept me alive,
When their intentions were the complete opposite.
“I think he’s asleep.”
I’m afraid that’s not true, as much as I’d like it to be.
Hoping that this is just a bad dream,
The mislead shadow of a delightful reverie.
Yet I know,
From the twisted loves of my brain,
From the scarlet sinews of my heart,
That this is not true.
That this is just the inevitable truth.
I am going to die.
They whisper, “It’s time.”
Now mine is up.
I say to myself,
One must welcome the moment as one does a brother.
The door creaks open.
I can make out a man’s dark features in the dim light I have.
The soles of brown leather boots squeak on the clean floor.
Now I must close my eyes,
Lull my body into a peaceful state for when I die.
For when my soul bids my body goodbye for the first,
And last time.
It will be a smooth, easy deal.
This won’t be painful for anyone but me.
I have no one,
I am no one.
I am dead now.
Yet… I am not.
I watch my body with a look of sadness.
Of full-fledged regret.
They throw it away,
That body of mine.
But before doing so, preserving my body,
So they can all recognize me when they flaunt it around
I am dead, yet I have never felt more alive.
Grasping the warm summer air,
Feeling it blast through my fingers like a crowd of happy drunk men.
Flying through the aquamarine ocean feels like heaven to one like I,
Yet it reminds me I should be dead.
That I should be a rotting corpse stuffed down the garbage,
With flesh-eating bugs eating a hole through my face.
With beetles inhabiting the many crevices stuffed around my body.
Wait, I am like that.
In fact, I visited my body the other day,
Picked some bedbugs off my hair,
And laid those lonely roses by my nose
Hoping that somehow I would be able to smell them.
Ah… they forgot to flaunt me.
It’s better that way
Anyway, my point is, that my soul is still alive.
It shouldn’t be.
My soul should be lingering before the gates of heaven,
Awaiting the almighty voice of He.
But then again,
It was He who abandoned me.
I have never been a good soul,
Yet God will never accept me.
I am like the undead.
An unwanted abomination.
A creeping reminder of the deceased.
But that is the price of immortality.
Of eternal joy.
He is just jealous that He cannot wander among his creations as I can.
As I do.
I am happy now.
Free from the grasps of mankind,
I can do anything.
No discrimination, no religion, no race.
No money, no restrictions, no laws.
We ghosts are all the same.
Clear, see-through bundles of indescribable emotion.
That is, except for me.
Ghosts are here because of unfinished doings,
The string of desire that tugs at their hearts.
I am not.
They are made of desire.
I am made of,