Tagged: Horror

Crossing the Line

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 28

Challenge #12: Write a story including a bargain, a liminal space, a sacrifice, or a stranger. It cannot include the following verbs: believed, imagined, knew, loved, hated, noticed, realised, remembered, seemed, thought, understood, wanted, or wondered.

The trespasser topples a cart as he runs, scattering dust and packing material across the floor. She vaults the cart, lands on a sheet of styrofoam, skids into a steel shelving unit. Her right leg buckles. She tries to stand. A jet of hydraulic fluid arcs into the air.

I halt beside her. “Assist?”

“Pursue.”

I run. The trespasser is at a distance of thirty metres. Twenty. Ten. His breath is ragged. The crowbar he carries makes his gait unbalanced.

He reaches the door, swings it closed, jams the crowbar between door and ground. He does not look back.

I give a gentle push. I must not damage the glass.

She runs for the next exit over, right leg dragging. He is nearing exhaustion, his footfalls erratic. She is adapting, her movements becoming more efficient. Continue reading

Blue Light

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 23

Challenge #10: Write a stream of consciousness story embracing one of the five elements of Discordianism: Sweet, Boom, Pungent, Prickle, or Orange. Its word count should be a multiple of 14.

He shouts as he stumbles through the half-foot of milky water, no longer concerned about the €60 fine. There are 280km of tunnels here. Many began as mines in the 12th century. Most were uncharted, many forgotten. The guidebook was little help even before he dropped it. The sodden pages are worthless now his torch is too dim to read.

“Hello?” he calls. There is a shout back, or an echo, impossible to tell.

“Hello?” he tries. Again, the same reply.

He hasn’t seen another living person since slipping off the metro platform and along the tracks. At this point he’d be happy just to find a corpse. Only a portion of the tunnels had been turned into ossuaries, and they’ll be full of tourists—people who didn’t crawl through two chatières with no clue where they went—people who came down with a guide.

The guides don’t cost €60. Even €60 would be money well spent. Continue reading

424 Failed Dependency

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 20

“She’s still out there.” Abbie turned away from the window for a moment. “I don’t like this. Should we call someone?”

“Over some kid standing outside?” Ethan shook his head. “She must be staying in one of the other cabins.”

“I didn’t see a car outside any of them. And she’s right outside ours!”

Ethan shrugged. “Well, that’s allowed.”

“I still don’t like it. She hasn’t moved once. She’s just standing there, staring at the lake. And in this weather!”

Ethan stood up and took another look at the figure in the little yellow raincoat. “At least she’s dressed for it!”

“Ethan!”

“Fine! If you’re that worried about it I’ll go out and make sure she’s okay.”

He walked into the little porch at the front of the cabin and stood there with his hand an inch from the doorknob. Continue reading

This Animal is a Creation

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 16

Challenge #7: Write a story produced using ten prompts generated by the cut-up technique. The source texts must include the lyrics of one David Bowie Song, the lyrics of one other song, and two or three news articles.

My sources were:
My ten generated prompts were:
  • His hotel bath with potatoes.
  • The substances had been inert.
  • Unknown despite several attempts to find it.
  • 10-year-old Soviet vessel.
  • Is that supposed to be a dog?
  • The number of drugs he took into the Travelodge in Eastleigh.
  • In order to cash in on beacons activated last March.
  • This animal is a creation.
  • The woman’s bra over his shirt.
  • Explain how a coyote brings down the west coast of Ireland.

“The lights are on.”

“What?”

“The lights are on.”

“It’s a 40-year-old Soviet vessel! The country that built this thing doesn’t even exist any more!”

“Yeah, but…the lights are on.”

James poked his head around the doorway.

“See?” said Tony. The lights were indeed on.

“There’s nothing on the beach, is there?” James asked.

“No. Well, nothing except…”

James walked—with considerable effort—to the railing and grabbed hold, careful not to put his head too far above it. The creature was waiting exactly where it had been when they scoped out the grounded boat from inland. He got out his binoculars.

Tony walked over unsteadily to join him. “Is that supposed to be a dog?” Continue reading

A Curious and True Relation of a Diſcovery near Stillbrook

Flash Fiction Month 2020, Day 14

Challenge #6: Write a story in the style of a major Literary Movement with a theme of either discovery or regret.

Though this following Relation expounds upon Matters divers, of a ſort to inflame the Imagination and confound the Mind, it is nevertheleſs convey’d into our Hands with Aſſurance that it be a Narrative true and unexaggerated.

It is by a Letter of the 14th of July that we are given this Relation, written by a perſon of no ſmall ſtanding whoſe Teſtimony would be heard unqueſtion’d by any Judge. It is our Pleaſure to ſet its Words in Print within this very Pamphlet, and the original Letter may be ſeen at Horton’s Coffee Houſe on Church Street ſhould any wiſh to further ſatisfy themſelves as to the Truth hereof.


From a young age my family diſcourag’d me from Travel, which at the time I consider’d was for fear of Accidents at ſea. My father was a Clerk for a Maritime Insurer, and ſuch Matters must ſurely have weigh’d heavily on his Mind. Inſtead of ſeeing the World by ſailing upon Water, I ſpent my youth immers’d in Books, which for a Time I credited with Knowledge of a certain Stone, or Monolith, erected in a Godless Age. Continue reading

Guest Post: Oli Jacobs on Genre Fiction

The following is a guest post by Oli Jacobs, whose book Deep Down There is currently funding at Unbound. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, so have a read of this then go take a look!


Nifty little Lego scene courtesy of Oli Jacobs.

Mention the likes of sci-fi and horror to your average layman, and they’ll probably think the same things – aliens & spaceships, monsters & gore. Most readers who don’t dabble in genre fiction already know why they don’t like it; they know the tropes, seen the marketing, and don’t consider it as something to invade their nice little world of romance or crime (or, indeed, both).

Well guess what, layman or laywoman, you’re about to be shocked to your very core. For, you see, genre fiction has evolved within the last few years, especially in the literary world. Science Fiction has become Science Fact, meaning that the so-called Outer Limits are now very much over the horizon. Horror has become an everyday reality, with a cocktail of 24 hours news and the internet presenting us with all manner of modern monsters and terrors.

And in many up and coming indie authors, these scenarios are being twisted to bring their works to readers who would normally steer away.

The master of this particular domain, Damon L. Wakes, has done this with his clever spin on an old classic. Ten Little Astronauts takes the classic Agatha Christie And Then There Were None, and throws it into the empty arena of space. Much like the franchise movie approach of taking something and blasting it into the galaxy, Wakes presents a known tale and adds the cybernetic enhancements of sci-fi onto it, effectively giving a gateway to those that know the classic, and fancy something a bit different with it. It is much like giving an old, much lived-in abode a fresh coat of paint – suddenly we are presented with a whole new tale that doesn’t feel as invasive as an Arthur C Clarke epic. Continue reading

Cragne Manor

Not so long ago, I contributed to Cragne Manor, a massive (80+ authors) interactive fiction project created as a tribute to Anchorhead. The game is now finished, and you can play it in your browser!

This is quite a different sort of game to the things I’ve made with Twine. It’s a parser-based text adventure, meaning that instead of simply clicking links you must control it by typing things like “go north,” “take key,” and “hit shoggoth with inflatable novelty hammer.” I’ve got no idea if that last one is ever an option in the game. I’ve got no idea what’s in the game at all beyond the one room I designed, to be honest. It might be terrible! The opening text suggests that it is (and that that’s part of the fun).

It also offers quite a list of objectionable content that appears in the game, so maybe not one for the squeamish. It is cosmic horror after all!

Project Pandora 3

You might be wondering how there can be a Project Pandora 3 given how Project Pandora 2 ended. You might also be wondering what Project Pandora even is, and if that’s the case then I recommend starting with the first one.

Project Pandora 3

That said, familiarity with the series isn’t essential and this wouldn’t be a terrible place to jump in (especially compared to Project Pandora 2, which will not even function if you haven’t played the original). My Project titles in general have always been about exploring one particular (usually fairly meta) game mechanic and how the player interacts with it, and developing an epic multi-game storyline isn’t really a big part of that.

Basically, have a quick go at the first two beforehand if you want the full experience, but don’t be afraid to get stuck in with Project Pandora 3 if you just fancy playing something vaguely sinister.

Happy Halloween!

Blacklight 1995 and Unicorn Deathmatch Shortlisted for Wonderbox Digital Fiction Competition

I’ve been pretty heavily focused on getting Ten Little Astronauts ready for publication recently, which might be why I never noticed that two of my interactive fiction games were on the People’s Choice shortlist for Wonderbox’s Opening Up Digital Fiction Competition.

You can play either one by clicking its icon above.

I sent in a whole bunch of games back when the competition was open for submissions, but wasn’t particularly confident in any of them making the cut. To see two in there is a real surprise, especially since these two in particular are very different in tone.

Because I discovered this pretty late on, not only has voting now closed but the winners have already been announced! Sadly neither of my games are amongst them, but there was some pretty serious competition: the winners look absolutely top notch, and I encourage you to check them out.

This is hardly the first time something I’ve worked on has been up for a prize, but it is the first time it’s happened specifically for an interactive piece that wasn’t a team project. It just goes to show that it’s usually worth taking a chance on these things even if you’re not sure what will come of it. Also, do keep an eye on Wonderbox specifically: the competition is annual so if you’d like to take a shot at it yourself then you’ll have a chance next year!

Announcing Wolf at the Door

Back in May I set up Codename Caerus: a game project bringing a team of people together to make something better than any of us could have produced individually. That something is still in the works – it’ll take more than a couple of months to see it through to the end – but we’ve made great progress and Codename Caerus now has a title: Wolf at the Door.

Our efforts so far have been focused on getting a demo prepared for submission to AdventureX. At this stage, it’s not in good enough shape to share – this one’s just to demonstrate that we have the bare bones of a working game – but it can be played start to finish and most of the gameplay that’ll appear in the finished version is already present in some form or another. In some ways it’s already more ambitious than what I first planned, as we’ve got in-game sound: something I wasn’t even sure was possible to do in Twine back when I organised this! Continue reading