“Vacancy” — Advent Ghosts 2013

Vacancy

Raking his fingers through his hair, he paused at the temples. She was silent, eyes tight with increasing pain.

Filthy, really, where he’d sent her to finish but he couldn’t have her bleeding inside. And maybe she was a screamer. No one wanted to hear that.

His animals were circling, facing the doorway where the woman entered. He saw them from his bedroom window. He could see everything. He pulled a blanket over his head to shut out the light.

Tomorrow, that woman and whoever else was with her now had to go. He would make sure they were gone.

(Read more 100-word creepy stories from a range of writers on I Saw Lightening Fall’s Advent StorytellingCheck out my stories from previous years here.)

The World Blanches before Winter: Preparing for Advent Ghosts 2013

Welcome to Advent Ghosts 2013, the fifth annual shared storytelling event at I Saw Lightning Fall, Loren Eaton’s blog about “narrative, genre, and the craft of writing.” For the uninitiated, Advent Ghosts seeks to recreate the classic British tradition of swapping spooky stories at Yuletide. However, instead of penning longer pieces, we post bite-sized pieces of flash fiction for everyone to enjoy.

Ghost Winter Flower by Henrik Thorn

To learn more about this tradition, read the article here about this “lost tradition.”

This is my third year writing for Advent Ghosts. In my first year I pulled some edited lines from a ghost story I wrote about meth addiction. It is called “The Escape.”

Last year, I decided to try Loren’s model of writing one piece inspired by secular Christmas traditions, and another from sacred texts.

Unwanted explores the terror we feel when an unexplained and damaged presence penetrates the safety of our families and our homes.

For Later is my take on what I’ve always seen as a poetic and disturbing element in the gifts of the three kings to the baby Jesus.

This year I am again using a sacred story in “Vacancy.” I’m curious to know if you can identify it. Enjoy this year’s submission, which will post on Friday, and if you like creepy little tales be sure to visit Loren’s blog, too! Just when I think I’ve read the most shiver-inducing tale, they get, well, more shivery!

 

“For Later” — Advent Ghosts 2012

From the back of the church the crèche scene glowed softly from the manger. A lone wise man shuffled, heavy, and knelt. “Where are the others?” whispered the pastor but there was no response. Lifting a leaden urn, the sheet-wrapped stranger only whispered, “For later.”

There was supposed to be gold. There should have been frankincense. There should have been more to praise the child. Where were the shepherds, the angels, the gifts? Instead, left behind was an analgesic known to numb pain and heal wounds.

As he passed me in the pew, I heard him say again, “For later.”

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You can read some background thoughts on this 100-word story here: Light is the First Thing to Go. Read other entries in this annual storytelling event here: I Saw Lightning Fall.

“Unwanted” — Advent Ghosts 2012

“I don’t like this one,” my daughter said, handing me the perfect, brand-new doll. “There’s something wrong with her.” The doll’s hair was glossy black, her clothing immaculate, each tiny fingernail a flawless oval.

I sighed and carried the last toy of Christmas over to my husband. “I didn’t know you bought her this one. She doesn’t like it.” He looked at me, eyes wide, then at the empty space under the tree. “I didn’t buy that. I’ve never seen it before.” I turned the thing’s face to me, saw eyes with scars, and dropped it to the brick hearth.

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You can read some background thoughts on this 100-word story here: Light is the First Thing to GoRead other entries in this annual storytelling event here: I Saw Lightning Fall.

Light is the First Thing to Go: My Advent Stories

Last year I wrote a piece of flash fiction for Loren Eaton’s Shared Storytelling – Advent Ghosts project, and it was difficult. Writing exactly 100 words is not especially hard, but purposefully dredging up fear and loss at Christmas time feels ugly; I wondered last year and I wonder again this year — especially this year — how people will react to this kind of writing.

Then I reread Loren’s words:

Light is the first thing to go as we near the year’s nadir, the days dimming earlier and breaking later. The dark is truly rising. So as Advent approaches, flip every switch in the house, break out the blankets and steel yourself to outlast the gloom. But in all your preparations, pause for a moment, just long enough to peer up into a firmament black and cold as flint. See the frosty flecks of stars? See how the borealis coils its frigid fire around them, eldritch and writhing? What speech do they pour forth to us, and what unearthly knowledge do they show night after endless night?

I have 2 pieces for the Advent Ghost project this year. Following Loren’s example, I am writing one secular story and one sacred story.

Unwanted explores the terror we feel when an unexplained and damaged presence penetrates the safety of our families and our homes; I wrote it before Newtown, but I think like every parent I wrote it from a place of fear of the idea that this presence has designs on our children.

For Later is my take on what I’ve always seen as a poetic and disturbing element in the gifts of the three kings to the baby Jesus.

Advent is about waiting for the light of the world. It is about waiting for God with faith, even on the darkest days. I hope you will read these pieces of flash fiction with a heart and mind willing to look into the dark, so that the brilliance of Christmas day is truly a day of love, gratitude, and salvation for you and yours.

The stories will post later today.

Peace be with you.

I Saw Lightning Fall: Shared Storytelling – Advent Ghosts 2012

Light is the first thing to go as we near the year’s nadir, the days dimming earlier and breaking later. The dark is truly rising. So as Advent approaches, flip every switch in the house, break out the blankets and steel yourself to outlast the gloom. But in all your preparations, pause for a moment, just long enough to peer up into a firmament black and cold as flint. See the frosty flecks of stars? See how the borealis coils its frigid fire around them, eldritch and writhing? What speech do they pour forth to us, and what unearthly knowledge do they show night after endless night?

Come, come. Don’t be shy. Tell us: What did they say to you?

Visit I Saw Lightning Fall: Shared Storytelling: Advent Ghosts 2012. (You can read my submission last year here: https://essediemblog.com/2011/12/24/the-escape-advent-ghosts-2011/. And yes, I’m good for it again this year.)

“The Escape” – Advent Ghosts 2011

This is an exactly 100-word flash fiction piece for a tradition of writing ghost stories on Christmas Eve. It’s an interesting concept to me, the idea of acknowledging on Christmas Eve a sinful and hopeless world, and to welcome the dawn in full awareness that Christmas day brings us light.

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The darkness ate people alive, numbing them to the consumption.

You make it yourself with stuff from around town.  It’s so cheap.  I feel like a god.  You have to try it.

In one news item, a band of children managed to escape the hell of their own home, only to run to the neighbor’s house for protection and find all of the adults there dead.  The corpses were thin with mouths full of black teeth and fingers charred from fire damage.  In their hollow eyes one could see they would live forever in a house they could never flee.

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This is my effort in the annual Advent Ghosts 100 Word Storytelling put on by Loren Eaton at I Saw Lightning Fall. See other entries there. Many thanks to West Virginia writer S.D. Smith who brought this unusual writing tradition to my attention today.