My stories tend to be a little "high concept" for a local free newspaper, but it's a fun writing exercise nonetheless. It is posted below, exactly the same as I sent it in to the paper, and every year, after it's rejected, I will post it here for your reading enjoyment, and to remind me that no matter how much I like my stuff, no matter how many people tell me how much they enjoyed it, that there will always be people that are looking for something different.
The contest had a 500 word limit, so I couldn't do everything that I wanted with this story, but I decided to share it "as is" rather than finish it because writing to a specific word count, and being effective within that word count, is a valuable tool for a writer to work on.
Earlier I mentioned that my story was a little "High Concept" for the contest. I didn't mean that the readers of this newspaper were stupid (I "is" one of those people, lol). I meant that the editors of the newspaper were looking for something a little less serious, a little more fun and accessible. This isn't a bad thing, it's just not something that I happen to excel at.
And I'm not going to change. The story is intentionally cryptic, and you are supposed to guess at the main characters identity. As every horror fan knows, it's not the gore and blood that truly frighten, it's the unknown. I tried to expand upon that theme in the 500 or so words below, and if I'm honest, it's not extremely scary. I wasn't trying to write something that wasn't safe for children, I actually was trying to write something they would pick for the contest.
Next year, my motives will change though, and I will write the scariest thing that I can fit into the word count given. If they don't pick it, no hard feelings. I bet you guys will enjoy it.
So, without further adieu, I give you "Cupie".
It was a dark and stormy night, with rolling thunder all around. I hear something dripping to my left, but I can’t turn my head to see what it is. Brief flashes of light filter through the window behind me, casting shadows on the opposite wall. I don't mind them, because I know that at least they can't hurt me. The shadows are the least of my problems.
I've lost track of how long I've been here. There’s a yellowed, curling calendar on the far wall. Useless. The clock over the archway, with it’s skeletal hands of blackened metal, stopped moving shortly after I did.The wind outside lashes against the house, and part of me wants it to push it over, even if it’s only so that someone will visit to clean up the mess. The only visitors I get walk on all fours, slinking forms that scurry from shadow to shadow, only appearing in the staccato freeze-frame vision afforded by the lightning.
I never see them in the daylight. Nightmares hide from the light. Even if I could move, I’m not sure I would chance it in the dark. For one thing, they are bigger than I am. They’re faster, too, and no doubt hungrier.
I remember being hungry, back when there were still people around to feed me. I remember enjoying that, but solitude has moved me past wants and needs. I still exist, but what further purpose this world holds for me, I can't say. Perhaps just to sustain the creatures crawling beneath my feet.
I feign disinterest, but the activity of the storm is a welcome diversion to keep me from thinking about the night I was abandoned. They came with their boxes, taking the sentimental, the important. Leaving in the night, never to return.
They left me alone in this house. This house, rotting from the outside in from the relentless weather. It no longer keeps me safe from the creatures crisscrossing the floor beneath me, just out of sight.
I can hear them though. The clicking of their talons on the wooden floor is a maddening, never ending fugue.
What was that?
A resounding crack from somewhere outside halts the incessant chatter beneath. Something else is coming for me now.
I can hear the mad rush of branches snapping. At that moment, I am not sure I want to be found anymore. The sound crescendos to an unearthly tearing sound overhead, and I am thrown from my perch high above the clicking, chittering beasts. They will no doubt be upon me in moments. As I ready myself for them, my eyes slide shut for the first time in years. The last thing I see is a sliver of angry, boiling sky.
Something cold and wet sniffs me. A grunt to my left, followed by a tearing sound. As the storm rushes into the house, I begin to long for the melancholy of the bookshelf.