Headless Halloween

You and two of your friends are working at a Halloween haunted house. You each get into costume, representing scary creatures. On the first night, hundreds come through the house. You scare them over and over again. As you jump out to scare one of the people, you hear her scream and then feel her fall to the floor. You yell for the lights to turn on and they do—only to find her dead on the ground with her head cut off. What happened?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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109 thoughts on “Headless Halloween

  1. Julia Tello

    I honestly do not like nor enjoy Halloween, but I do remember a time that I took my kids to a small hunted house. This is honestly the most scary I have seen. One of my sons wanted to enter this hunter horse, of course I had to go with him because I was not going to let my child go by him self. As we enter this place, my entire body started to shake. It was so dark that we were not able to see our own hands. first I felt someone trying to touch me. We kept walking the I felt my son getting closer and closer to me, of course I thought he was just trying to stay close to me, when I looked to my son’s direction I saw this big and scary, bloody munster standing by my child. It was so scary that I hit this, whatever it was and started running pulling my son out. On our way out we saw all kinds of scary figures looking and trying to touch us. I remember it was the longest run of my life, trying to get out of that place. I would never forget that place, and I would never go back to experienced anything like that again.

  2. esmeralda.lizardi

    Its that time of the year again, the best time of the year, or at least for my wallet it is. Every year my friends, Sam and Maggie, and I get a job at the haunted house that everyone dies to go to. No pun intended. Since the house is only opened for the month of October we get paid fairly good and we are guaranteed a job since we are going on our fifth year working in the house. If you come back the next year to work again they bump your pay up two whole dollars! We are now at seventeen dollars an hour who would say no to that? Not me, that’s for sure.
    Its opening night, we get hundreds of people on opening night and it’s the most fun night to be part of the crew because everyone has so much energy. The girls decide that they want to all get ready together and before I knew it they were pulling up into the driveway. We did each other’s makeup making sure to add as much fake blood as we could, we put on our costumes, and we were on our way.
    Luckily, we all got the same room to work in along with two other guys. We did some scaring before it was time for our first break. While we were on break all we did was eat hot Cheetos, and laugh at the expressions that the people would make after we jumped out. You would think it would be easy to work at a haunted house, but it takes a lot to act scary and keep a straight face when other on the verge of wetting their pants.
    It was close to eleven p.m. when we went back into our room and got set into our spots. We were ready to go home. It has been such a long day, but we had a couple of more people to fit in before we could leave. I get into my place hiding behind the painting, it’s a routine, jump out, scare, scream a little, get back. I already knew the drill. The lights went out and I knew it was go time and this was the last group before I finally got to take this slimy fake blood off. The final group started walking in and Maggie automatically jumped out scaring them so bad that they were taken back and started huddling into a group. I was the last scarrer so I got to see the whole thing when I could and it wasn’t dark. John was up next, it was funny to see all the girls pull their friends or boyfriends closer for protection. Next was Sam she was horizontal from me so every time she was up we gave each other a look, we always had a contest to see who would scare the most people but since sometimes we couldn’t see because it was so dark we went based on how loud people would scream. I saw her right before she jumped out and then it went pitch black, but I could hear the screams, that was definitely a good one. The loudest one of the night! I then heard screams for help and I automatically knew something was wrong. I jumped out from my hiding spot and there on the floor was a decapitated body. It was still bleeding as I got on my knees to try to make sense of what was happening I heard a door shut, whoever just did this just exited and all of us were too shocked to go after them. There was blood everywhere I can’t tell what’s fake blood and what’s real blood. I’m lost for words and actions. I’m in utter shock. Everything is spinning, and I can’t make sense of what anyone is saying. I look around and everyone is pancaking. I start regaining my senses and slowly start to get up, I try to run out to get help but I can hardly walk. I get to the door and push it to open in it running into someone with a black hoodie over their head. I’ve worked here for five years I know everyone that works here, and I don’t know this person but he’s wearing an employee badge. I look down and he is fidgeting with a knife, a knife that is smothered with blood. I can’t think fast enough to keep up. I catch a glimpse of him and he pushes me down and starts running towards the woods.

  3. sachit.upadhyaya

    This actually is a murder mystery. She was killed by someone else who knew she would be comming there and had been waiting for that exact moment to cut her head off. Its particulary a very barbaric way to kill someone but, its halloween and its inside a haunted house. The murder is smart, he carries out the murder on a halloween on a haunted house so that most people would think its the ghosts or paranormal entity that did it.

  4. Kimba

    Halloween is so much fun,but on this night things got a little to real. I was dressed as a which along with two of my closest friends. Julia was dressed as a bloody nurse and Priscilla dressed as a over fed baby. We looked fabulous and ready to work at our annual Halloween haunted house. after scaring a few hundred people, the next group walk in and all of a sudden Julia jumps out and and scares the living day lights out of this one woman. The woman screams as the lights go out and we hear a loud thud hit the floor.
    Priscilla shouts, “somebody turn on the lights”. as the lights come on we all see a woman dressed as the comedian Karrot Top. The women’s throat was bleeding and her eyes were open. I knelled down to check her pulse and got nothing. She’s dead. Julia pulls out her phone and starts to dial 911,but someone in the back ground says, “no stop”. It was another co-worker by the name of Janet.
    Janet said,” look who it is. It’s our boss carol.” Janet goes on to say,” we have hated working with her for the longest time. lets just lock up and leave her here, We will all be free from her hateful ways.
    We all agree in an instant. Everyone walked away from her body either kicked it or spit on it.
    The last day was the day the building was supposed to be torn down. Carols body was inside and no one else knew it.to this day we have never talked about that night and no one has ever found Carols body. Happy Halloween.

  5. M.H.Chavez

    As senior class president, Angelina had the idea to host a Halloween Haunted House at the school. She was given permission by the principle to put together a haunted house. Angelina recruited her two best friends, Derek and Sophia to help with all the details. Its the day of the opening and they have been up all night and day to set up. The hallways have fog machines, strobe lights, and black backdrops. They are filled with hanging cut-off limbs, bodies cut in half, and organs lying around. Angelina is a flesh eating zombie, Derek as a killer clown, and Sophia wanted to be dead bride. Loud screeching screams of teenagers permeated the school. Sophia and angelica were bullied in the past by a girl named Brianna. Every day Brianna would taunt them and bully them. Angelica told Derek about there unwanted companion and Derek didn’t take it so good. He went to Brianna and told her to not come to the haunted house but she said did otherwise. The party had started. Sophia was the first monster to pop out and scare the students. Angelica and Derek would pop out together. Once every body signed in Derek noticed one name, Brianna the one person that wasn’t supposed to be there. Brianna walked threw the doors. BOO, Sophia jumps out but doesn’t seem to scare Brianna “loser” Brianna said . As she walked she was texting on her phone. As Brianna was walking down the halls, Angelica peered over to be ready to jump out, as Angelica was about to scare she heard a scream. When she looked out she saw Brianna impaled by an axe. With Derek out of sight angelica looks down to see Brianna’s phone to see a text message that says “get me out of place”.

  6. shaynamg

    (I’m a little late, but this one seemed fun.)

    Sarah was the sort of person I aspired to be, because she lived her life as if she knew she had only one. So when I needed direction or purpose, Sarah was the one I called.

    “I can actually feel the radiation going through my brain right now,” she grumbled. “Why can’t you text like a normal person?”

    Because your voice makes me invincible, I thought. “Sorry. But I need a favor.”

    “Don’t you always?” she countered. She was right. I ignored her.

    “I have to do volunteer work for a class.”

    Clearly she could hear the sneer in my voice because she replied, “Okay, and you want me to do it with you?”

    “Yeah,” I said sheepishly. “But I don’t wanna help people. Or animals. Or do good deeds.”

    “How about the haunted house that they do at the college every year? You can scare kids shitless and it won’t even feel like charity work.”

    I grinned. “Sounds perfect.”

    Three weeks before Halloween, we set up cobwebs and fog machines outside the barn. Spiders and mutilated baby dolls hung from the rafters, and the audio technology students created grisly, muted sound effects to add to the horror. Even in her bloody tour guide getup, Sarah looked like she had fallen from a dystopian heaven. I watched as she made the finishing touches on her makeup.

    “What are you looking at?” she said with a smirk.

    I blushed and turned away. You, I thought.

    That first night, I saw true fear. Behind my rubber clown mask, brandishing my chainsaw at unsuspecting guests, I was high. But as the night grew colder, the crowd grew thinner, and I could tell that the other volunteers were getting tired. I began using the longer periods of time between tours to plan my next scare, and when the final tour came through, I was determined to leave them traumatized. As the pack of students made their way around the corner, I jumped out for a final time.

    The students cried and ran off in succession until there was only one. I raised my saw at the final guest, and she screamed the long, horrific scream of a fallen angel. Under a mask of pure adrenaline, I almost didn’t notice when the room went silent, apart from a light thump on the ground beside me. Finally coming out of my daze, I jolted at the warmth beside my right ankle and the sudden smell of rusting metal. The thrill that had encompassed me moments before turned to panic as I shouted for the lights to come on. I should have stayed in the darkness.

    The warm red liquid tickling my ankle stretched into a pool of blood, surrounding the head of my angel, of Sarah. And when I looked at the chainsaw in my hand, I realized that I had never removed the blade.

  7. Monsoonlei

    The blood was starting to seep into the creaky wooden floors as the first, piercing scream from the live visitors erupted. A couple more bodies dropped to the floor but this time, their heads stayed intact. They had just fainted.

    When the stampede started, priceless ornaments and other props joined the headless girl on the floor. Broken and disembodied.

    In minutes, the house was empty but low moans and cries from outside could be heard. Someone was mumbling about calling the police. Something seemed wrong. Looking down, we noticed that in their rush to get out, the girl’s body had been trampled, crushed. Bloody footprints in all sizes trailed towards the exit. The metallic smell of blood filled the room, not masked by the dust of the destruction caused by the frantic crowd. We began to walk away from the scene of the crime when we noticed what was wrong.

    The head was missing…

    “Thanks for taking me to watch Alice in Wonderland”, whispered Sally. Visions of the red queen demanding decapitations flooded my mind. We dragged our eyes to the full-length mirror and surely enough, it shimmered as a face disappeared on the other side.

  8. msmrmyr

    I stood in my spot probably three quarters into the maze. I hide in the dark, jump out, and scare the bejesus out of the little kids. My partner, Larry, hides across from me. He stands barely 3 feet tall and dresses up like a clown. He tells everyone he is height-challenged. I call him a dwarf. The correct term, I think, is person of short stature. I like dwarf. Larry doesn’t mind. He knows he’s short.

    Larry once came out of the corner and chased a real hot chick. She screamed. Oh, did she scream. His little legs following her so fast. We laughed a long time after that. Those were the best six weeks ever.

    This one night we worked fast. A ton of people walked through the maze. We struggled to keep up. The maze was the least scary, really. More of a haunted house for babies. Fake blood on the walls, hanging string, and guys jumping out of the corners. Charle did his best to look trapped in a ghoul’s kitchen. He would flay about on the table and move his fake intestines back and forth as the kids walked by. Those intestines really freaked me out in the dark. In the light you could tell they were just plastic ropes.

    Larry chased down a lot of kids his own height. He disliked that. He really likes it when the mothers jump out of his way. Like I said, he gets a kick out of chasing the girls with blonde hair.

    The fast pace made our job hard. You barely got back into place before another group wandered in. Plus, the maze owner added a new guy to our room. It really made it awkward to move around. A big nasty looking dude wearing a big canvas robe, a black hole with just two red eyes, and a large scythe. He might as well been a wall in the way. We kept tripping over each other. Larry ran into the guy and fell down. The guy kept whipping the large scythe around the top of Larry’s head. And that evil laugh. He seemed to get a kick out of that laugh.

    So, here we were, trying to do our best to jump out and scare the kids and all the while trying to keep from running into each other. Larry would run out, the scythe would come down, barely miss Larry, and then I would jump out. Somehow we managed the scare quite a few kids. But it was hard work. All of this worked like clockwork until the scythe came down missed Larry and hit a kid. I heard a big thump and it rolled to me. A small bloody head with surprised eyes and a screaming mouth. The kids around me started screaming.

    The guy with the scythe ran out the maze. Larry picked up the kid and hauled it out of the way. I threw up on the head. Then the lights went up. That is all I really know.

  9. Robin3486

    “What have we got?” Detective Katie DeVaul asks standing over a young woman who is clearly deceased. Her head sitting about a foot away from her body.

    “Single Victim two axes both appearing to be covered in blood.”

    Katie takes in the scene. The girl appears to be young by the way she is dressed and the location of the crime. It is one week from Halloween and this particular Haunted House is run by a local fraternity and frequented by other students.

    “Two axes? That’s strange.” She looks around the room searching for the spirit.

    What the others gathered in the small space don’t know is that becoming a homicide detective was never a choice for her. Her entire life led her directly down this path. Her particular talent has no other real use. She has been able to see and communicate with the dead since she was a small child. Those who die violently are typically waiting to tell her their story. Once their murderer is brought to justice, the soul is almost inevitably ready to move on, leaving her to wait for the next.

    This is her first case as Detective in Charge and suddenly she seems to have lost the only real police ability she has. As her panic starts to rise she tries to remember her training, the training she didn’t think she was really going to need. “Why didn’t I pay more attention?” She thought. “These guys are going to eat me alive after all of my showing off. God, I’m so stupid.”

    She begins looking around at the others. Although she has always liked them and thought they liked her too she knew that they were not particularly happy about a 24 year-old girl making lead detective so quickly. She was sure they wondered how she was able to solve cases that others couldn’t.

    “Well guys? What do you think?” She asks the group hesitantly.

    “What? Since when do you want our opinion?” The more tenured Detective Stephens Snipes back. “Do you mean little Miss Super Detective can’t solve this all on her own?”

    Katie feels the blush run across her face. She realizes she has acted poorly. She shouldn’t have been such show off.

    “I’m sorry.” She starts, unwanted tears filling her eyes. “I’m a jerk. I shouldn’t have…”

    Just then the group starts laughing. “What in the World could you find funny about this. A girl has been brutally murdered, I am trying to apologize to you and…” Finally she gets it. It is all a prank. The usual hazing for a new Lead.

    “Come on Little Miss, don’t be mad. We do it to everyone. Welcome aboard!” Detective Stephens laughs. “We have all been looking forward to having you as a lead.”

    “Thanks guys” She smiles but a tear escapes as she realizes all of the mistakes she has made. A new determination fills her. She is going to earn her position and help her men earn theirs as well.

    Filled with pride she takes in her new team one-by-one smiling at each. Until she reaches the eyes of one of her favorite crime scene techs, and realizes he is not really there. “Oh no.” She says frantically. “Where is Bob?”

    The others look up confused. “I don’t know.” one says. “He just didn’t show. I was surprised because he is the one who set this whole scene up so he had to have been here earlier. You know he thinks of you as a daughter and was wanting to give you his greatest welcome. And this is the best scene he has done yet. That actually looks like real blood on that axe. Don’t know how he did it…”

    “We better look for him. I think he is here” Katie says, bracing herself for what she knows they will find somewhere in the maze of this Haunted House.

    1. madeindetroit

      You’ve created an interesting character and a very compelling concept from the prompt. This character has room to grow and develop in a variety of ways. Nice job.

  10. johncamm

    It was the night before Halloween and respectably the biggest night of year! Charles was hesitant to let me play the part of “the hacker” but after three weeks of watching from behind the scenes I couldn’t be more ready.

    “Try not to mess it tonight kid” he said as if there really was any way that could happen.

    “I won’t” I reassured him. I lifted the machete with an evil grin, “tonight they will all feel the wrath of the hacker” I bellowed out followed by an evil laugh. Charles looked at me as if I was crazy.

    “Whoa” he exclaimed, “be careful kid that thing is sharp.”

    A few hours had past and so far there have been a few good scares but nothing worth taking about; then I saw my chance. Three young women, from the local college without a doubt, crept into the room. I could see them in the dim light, huddled together, just waiting to be scared. I clicked the button and in 3… 2… 1…

    SIMULATED LIGHTNING followed by three simultaneous shrieks! “Ahh” the screem hurt my throat but it would be worth the sacrifice to see Charles face. They yelled again but their cries where quickly reduced by one as I swung the machete with all my might.

    The first girls head hit the floor with the most satisfying thud. The other two turned abdomen ran for the door as I crept closer. Their cries for help music to my ears. I picked up the first girls head by the hair and gave her a subtle smile before turning both mine and my new friends head to face them.
    Charles released the latch and the two girls went screaming out the side door.

    “Wow” Charles said, “great job kid.”

    “Thank you sir, was harder than I thought it’d be to get all the way through the neck but came out pretty well.”

    “Yes, you should see when it doesn’t go well, not a pretty sight” he said. “So according to the new laws governing haunted houses we’ve still got one kill left, would you like the honors?”

    I couldn’t believe it! He was offering me a second kill! “Of course, thank you.”

    “Great, what do you want next?” He began, “I have ‘chainsaw man’ or ‘guy with acid’ up for grabs still.”

    Hmmmm decisions decisions.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I was just thinking, moght it be a stretch looking for a haunted house for footloose politicians? Only kidding of course. The horror being treated as mundane, gave it more power.and made me want to stay.away from haunted buildings, political caucus rooms and The New York Times.

          1. johncamm

            Thank you so much, after rereading it you’re right the horror being mundane does add to the creepiness. I did not plan for it to, just wanted to do something different. I get my love of twisted endings from the original Twilight Zone series.

  11. writermanque

    “She’s dead!”

    “She’s not dead,” I said. This was the 47th time Seth and I had jumped from the closet at the Phantasm of Phear with plastic chainsaws set to bad audio of buzzing and splattering gore; she was at least the fourth person who had collapsed as a result. “Turn on the lights and shake her a little bit.”

    “No, seriously! Look!” Seth flicked on the lights.

    I glanced over. This room in the haunted house had been staged as an abattoir of children; Seth and I were cast to play the deranged clown twins who dismembered minors with chainsaws. Mannequin limbs splashed with red paint were strewn about the periphery and the room smelled faintly of urine, thanks to the patrons who didn’t quite faint but didn’t quite keep it together either. On the floor a body was crumpled on itself, its left leg jutted out at an unnatural angle. Seth paced frantically beside it, possibly more terrifying now in his frenzy than in the psychotic clown costume that he wore. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that the body’s head was missing.

    The next wave of haunted house guests entered the room; I ushered them back saying something about the room being closed for repairs. Deflecting a punch and several vulgarities, I closed the door and turned my attention back to Seth.

    Seth was in a lather. Grease paint was an unworthy opponent to his tears and hysteria. He paced for a second or two longer and then vomited.

    “The head, where is it?” I asked.

    “I don’t—“ Seth gasped, then vomited again.

    I glanced around the room. It dawned on me that I no longer was certain which of the blood spatters on the wall were painted and which were recent, genuine additions.

    Then, in the corner, I saw it. An unassuming circular shadow where none had been before. I stepped closer. Its fine brown hair was matted with blood and in such disarray that it wasn’t immediately apparent where the face should be. Noting a thinner area, I extended a hand and parted the hair off to the side. My stomach churned as I recognized the face of the woman I took to the farmer’s market last weekend, the woman who confided in me when her relationship wasn’t working out, the woman who I thought would seek me out when she finally told her current boyfriend to hit the road.

    “Seth, is this…Bethanny?”

    From the far side of the room I heard Seth chuckle. I turned towards him, where he was now crouched besides the decapitated body.


    “No matter how many times I pictured it, actually doing it…well, I guess I scared even myself.”

    He rose, makeup streaked and costume covered in blood.

    “She was mine, you bastard.” He strode toward me and fired up his chainsaw, which I learned too late was real.

  12. SaraMac

    The old church had been abandoned for 50 plus years, after the fishing and logging died. Blackberry vines snaked though the steps, the walls were matted with wolf spider webs and the shattered windows let in crows seeking shelter from the endless rain and fog. The locals avoided the place and the graveyard filled with too many sorrows but the new comers to the community decided it would make a perfect haunted house for this Halloween’s celebrations.
    Marion, Bill and I agreed to play the scary creatures. Marion was a spectral zombie, rotting flesh dripping from her face, jutting bones sticking through her ragged garments. Bill donned his werewolf costume, the mask sporting savage fangs and drips of blood. I slid into my witch costume, complete with pointed hat, a greenish hook nosed mask and blood red curved finger nails
    The darkening night drew in the first crowds of shrieking kids shepherded by joking parents. As they rushed across the creaking floors, the doors slammed shut. Bill dimmed the lights, slowly stepping into the remaining puddle of light, his werewolf fangs dripping fake blood, guttural growls echoing across the room. Screaming kids clung to their parents as the lights went out. A candle sputtered to life and Marion drifted across the front of the alter her rotting flesh and protruding bones gleaming in the candle glow. Moans and wailing echoed though the rafters, disturbing the resting crows who added to the din. As the candle sizzled out I crept up behind the shrieking group dragging my blood red, hooked, witches’ nails across throats. As the screams shattered the air we brought the lights back up and the doors opened ushering the group out. Group after group, rushed in, filled with anticipation and left shaken and gasping.
    This was the last group of the night; it was going to be a tough sell. A high school class trip, giggling girls and macho boys. They sauntered into the old church, cracking crude jokes and sneering at the lack of décor in the haunted church. The girls squealed, theatrically, at the matted webs along the walls while the boys grabbed at the vines, pretending they were spectral arms. Tiredly, Bill, Marion and I looked at each other, show time. The doors creaked then slammed shut, the lights dimmed, then came back in a sickly puddle. Bill stepped slowly into the light, blood dripping from his fangs and claws. Hysterical screams erupted from the group as a head rolled across the floor followed by a gush of steaming blood.
    Yelling for the lights, I stared in disbelief at Marion’s head lying in the eddying blood around Bill’s feet.

  13. Kerry Charlton


    The abandoned, clapboard house with no paint, looked like an old barn that had seen better days, as the Sigma Chi’s rented it for Halloween weekend as a charity project for the University. It sat at the edge of the wild swamp of the everglades, filled with straw, cobwebs, disappearing passages and six fraternity brothers dressed as ghouls and blood thirsty ghosts. I had volunteered with one purpose, to see how many girls I might scare into a pair of willing arms. After all it was charity and kisses were sold on the first floor for a dollar a piece, while the kegs flowed with continuity .

    But I figured it would more fun to earn the affection from the girls by taking my mask off and battling the bad guys, my fraternity brothers. It didn’t take them long to figure out what I was up to so they decided to put a zinger on me. We alternated ghosts and ghouls so some of us could hit the first floor where we had a makeshift dance area and the latest high fidelity record player spinning wax.

    So I made the stairs a second time, slipped the mask off and headed for the dark hallways. There was little light to see by, but no one would have missed the head cheerleader for the university marching band. Her name was Sandy and I had gone to high school with her although I barely knew her with 2600 students. She started screaming as soon as she saw me, which puzzled me since my mask wasn‘t on.

    Then she started to flail me with her arms and hands. I was caught off guard by her screaming and struggling with me and no one came to help. I thought she had slipped into hysteria. She screamed harder and fell with a thud to the floor, despite me trying my best to hold on to her. The lights went totally dark. I couldn’t see her in the inky darkness but felt her form stretched across the floor in a grotesque twist of her body. I still couldn’t see anything and held onto her shoulder, with my hand shaking like a wood chuck. When my hands went to the top of her turtle neck sweater, to see if she was conscious her head was gone.

    The screaming started again only this time it was mine. Then the lights went on but her head was still missing. I looked around at everybody and they had horrified looks in their eyes. Then I noticed a slight movement in the top of Sandy’s turtle neck and her head popped out.

    I wanted to go outside and die with embarrassment but decided not to. So I sat
    there and just stared at her and said something for the ages like, “Ok I’ve been had. The least thing you could do is kiss me“. So guess what happened. Your absolutely right, I’m still waiting for it.

    {I told you before I was naïve when I young, so maybe you’ll believe me.]


      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you igonzales81. The house was real, we did rent for our fraternity halloween party.. The second floor lead out to a balcony, which had long since rotted away. We put a rope across the opening and about six bales of hay under the missing balcony. With straw floors and all the beer and smoking going on, it’s a wonder we didn’t burn the house to the ground.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, I don’t know, or care, if this is fact or fiction, but whatever it is, it’s wonderful. I think your college days were glorious! And, great use of the prompt. Hope your back is better, read your comment below.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hi Reatha, I remember the house well , not as well as Sandy. She never gave me a nod in high school or college. Sometimes I think unrequited is the best form of love, for it remains perfect, however painful at the time. I could write a whole book about college, in fact the last part of my autobiography is titled, “Living In Paradise And Not Knowing It.”

  14. Observer Tim



    We’d been working at the Castle of Fear from about 7:00; we were dressed as three witches: Becky was Vyrthand, Janine was Skuld, and I was Wyrd. Becky said mine was type-casting. Anyway, when kids would come in one of us would kill the lights, one would laugh maniacally, and the third would make some inane fortune-cookie statement.

    It was my turn on the light switch when the kids came in. I did my part, Becky did her evil queen laugh and Janine jumped out with her crystal ball and said, “Time has come for you, Elsie Timmins!”

    Both of them screamed, but the girl’s scream was cut off in mid-screech by an explosion and flash of light. When we could see again, it was our turn to scream. Elsie was lying on the ground with no head!


    Our job at the Castle of Fear? We were witches. Angie was the old one, Janine was the immature one, and I was the normal one. So, just like usual.

    It was nearly one o’clock and we were all ready to go home. I switched off the lights, Janine did her lame-o maniacal laugh and Angie jumped out with her scythe. She said her line, I don’t remember what it was, but there was a thunk and a clack and a scream and when I got the lights back on Elsie, this girl from school, was lying there with no head. I pretty-much freaked and I don’t really remember what happened after that until they gave me some sedatives.


    The only good thing about the Castle of Fear was that I was Skuld; the outfit enhances my, uh, bosom, which honestly needs all the help it can get. Angela was Urdir, norn of the past, Rebecca was Vyrdand, norn of the present, and I was the norn of the future. We rotated the three jobs, one on lights, one on laughing, and one on pronouncing.

    We heard Elizabeth Timmins’s grating voice from the hallway, and Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend Charles told her to be nice. Rebecca broke the order and said she wanted to do the scare while Angela did the cackling. Angela said whatever and switched even though it broke symmetry.

    When they entered our zone I hit the lights like I was supposed to, Angela did that Margaret Hamilton thing, and Rebecca shouted “Morere meretrix!” in badly pronounced latin with heavy stress on the last syllables, which is wrong on so many levels.

    Something when bang and then bump, and I switched the lights on immediately like we’re supposed to. Elizabeth was lying on the ground decapitated. Have they found her head yet?


    Sorry Elsie, we didn’t have enough energy to teleport your whole body; don’t worry, we’ll grow you a new one and get you back in time for school Monday.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, OT!

      I loved the different points of view and how they showed what was most important to the point of view character. That last point of view took the story into a wonderfully unexpected direction. Great job!

      And, just so you know, this line in particular made me grin: “Rebecca shouted “Morere meretrix!” in badly pronounced latin with heavy stress on the last syllables, which is wrong on so many levels.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This is so classic Tim, and the last line makes it zing. I’m late this week, doing rehab for my back. Pulled too many vines off of trees. Dum Dum.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Tim, this was fantastic in so many ways. I love the (slight, but very important) ways the eyewitness accounts differ, the humor, the names, but most of all, that ending statements is wonderful!

  15. SargentBlaum

    Breathing is normally a natural response, a stimuli triggered by the brain, a neural impulse that subconsciously registers with a natural frequency, and yet there are times when it is less than natural, when the ability to flex those intercostal muscles reflexively becomes not just unnatural, but impossible, and yet this is what dominates my consciousness as I am presented with something so horrifying, so hideous, so horrendous that my brain shuts down nominal processing, leaving me a shivering, shuddering, shrinking mass of human flesh whose inability to invoke subliminal, instinctual muscular resonance turns my complexion from pale to something with a tint of blue from the lack of oxygen, and as I notice the fluttering in my chest causing the hammering in my eardrums, that hammering stuttering briefly as my knees hit the floor, the surface grainy, dusty and dirty under my knuckle-pronounced hands, the resonance of a different muscular response leading to further debris of a soft, malleable, mushy and malodorous nature in the immediate vicinity, my complexion turning then more to a shade of green as the body on the floor continues to leak, a contrast of colours, a mosaic of chroma, and only then, when the aroma of my personal revulsion begins to assail the nostrils, when the taint of human reaction startles the nasal passages, only then do my ribs start to rise instinctively, as if I needed to smell more clearly the responses of all individuals standing nearby, often involving bodily offerings that would drive anyone screaming from the environs, and yet terror has paralyzed my limbs, even as I start to breath, as I start to focus in from the blur of oxygen deprivation, as I take in the abnormally tall Amazon woman, as I locate and visually inspect the bloodied aspect of the prop I had been using, I feel the first of many liquid drops course down my cheeks, touching my lips with a tease of salt, the shuddering starting again as I pry my fingers from the floor, lifting them to my face, and find the capacity finally to draw in the biggest breath of my life, so that I might expel it in a long high pitched ululation from behind my hands that seek to prevent the sound waves from escaping from my mouth by the simple expediency of physical blockage, and my eyes turn to them, spying the dark liquid upon them, driving me further within, recoiling within my own mind from the terror of what I have done albeit inadvertently, the terror of a prop that was not what it should have been, the terror of a blade that swished where it should not have, the terror of a woman who was taller than any woman had any right to be and finally the terror of a sentence that could against all sanity run on for almost five hundred words: a scream-worthy event in itself, even if the death of an innocent were not!

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      This is great, the stream of consciousness narrative works so well with this. I was carried along from emotion to emotion as the scene was slowly revealed. I’m not really certain about the break when the 500 word limit was mentioned. I don’t think that added to your story, but that is just my opinion.

    2. Beebles

      Intriguing and well crafted sarge. It left me as breathless as the mc, which I guess was the point. Having experienced that kind of panic I thought the sense of incessance from the piece was spot on. I agree about the last section. Well done.

  16. igonzales81

    It’s another long Halloween night.

    It’s just something I do now, working the haunted house that the mortuary puts on. I do the same thing every time, the guy in the ragged jeans and flannel shirt. Not that much different than what I usually wear. Mopping floors and carting bodies around doesn’t require a fancy outfit.

    I don’t always get to carry the machete around. That’s something for special times. Like tonight.

    We’ve been at it for hours, me and Bob and Annie. Tonight, Bob brought the beer. Between groups, we knock off a couple. Makes things bearable, I guess.

    The work gets harder every year. It’s harder and harder to scare people. We do our best, smearing fake blood on everything and hanging up pieces of mannequins dressed in old clothes. We keep the lights off at first. When the people get far enough into the room, I pull the rope and the door slams shut. Bob starts up the power saw and Annie plays the taped screams. Then the lights come up and they see me, machete dripping red, standing in the middle of the hanging body parts.

    But they don’t scream.

    They might jump a little at first. Then they say they’ve seen better. They say it’s so “contrived,” whatever that means. That it’s “unoriginal.”

    Gets more frustrating each time.

    What do I have to do to scare people?

    “Hey, big fella,” Annie says, handing me a fresh Bud. “You’re lookin’ down. What’s the matter?”

    “These people,” I wave a hand at the group that’s just leaving. “It’s so hard to scare them now.”

    She shrugs. “Well, that’s a sign of the times. What with TV and the Internet, most everyone’s seen everything.” She pats my shoulder. “Don’t let it get to you. I still think you’re scary.” She gives me a big smile.

    I feel a bit better. The light above the door goes on. Another group’s coming.

    “Back to work,” I drain my beer in one long pull. “Let’s see if we can’t scare these ones.”

    Annie gives me another smile, slips back behind her screen.

    The lights go off. The door creaks open. Three people stand in the doorway, a bunch of girls, maybe in their twenties. The creep forward into the darkness, giggling, holding onto each other.

    When they’re far enough in, I pull the rope, and the door slams shut.

    They gasp in the sudden darkness.

    Then one of them giggles.

    It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

    Why aren’t they screaming?

    The saw starts up, buzzing and growling.

    That giggle comes again.

    A piercing scream splits the air. Even I can tell it’s recorded.

    More giggling.

    I reach out, flick on the light switch.

    They jump as a group, seeing me standing there with my machete and ragged clothes.

    But they don’t scream.

    The girl on the right giggles again.

    I feel my frustration mounting. I try something new. I take a step forward, lifting the machete. I growl.

    The girl starts to laugh. She actually laughs.

    What do I have to do to make them scream?

    Then she’s down on the floor, body in one spot, head in another. There’s real blood pooling around her. Real blood on my machete. Real blood on me.

    Now everybody’s screaming.

    I look up, see Annie staring at me. Like I’m not me.

    “What did you do?” I can barely hear the words over the screaming.

    I just wanted to scare them.

    And it worked.

    They look pretty scared to me.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      You did a great job slowly revealing your MC. At first he’s just this guy doing a seasonal job not much different from his regular one, but then, it becomes not just a job, but a mission to frighten. Mission accomplished.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I had the feeling from the first sentence, this might happen. I enjoyed the slow build to the climax. Now that’s really scary. The problem I have is I can see it clearly and it sickens me. You nailed this one.

        1. igonzales81

          Thanks for the compliment, Kerry. You’re right that the plot progression was transparent; I just hoped it would move along fast enough for it not to impact the tone of the piece. And I’m sorry I keep writing disturbing shorts–I just love horror.

          1. johncamm

            I really enjoyed the story, I did see it coming once they kept giggling but none the less, great story. I also love horror but this was my first attempt at writting anything scary.

  17. Lex Noël

    500 Words

    The sudden hush sweeping across the room is almost as chilling as her decapitated corpse. A bright crimson pool grows across the floor as it spills from her severed neck. It’s Lila.

    “What the hell happened?” Jake and Sam, my childhood pals who are working with me tonight, push their way through the crowd. Jake takes one look at the beheaded Lila and promptly turns, vomiting all over the woman behind him.

    “Someone call the police!” a shrill voice cries from the group.

    “Lock the doors!” I shout. Rage boils in my veins. The silence grows so heavy I can feel it. Tension. Anxiety. Fear. It’s easy to hide in a noisy dark room when no one is looking for you, but to hide in a room of fear riddled silence? This will be easy.

    Most of these yahoo’s are from out of town. The haunted house draws them here every Halloween. They don’t know who I am and I’m grateful.

    I motion to Sam, each of us taking a door. Lila’s assassin didn’t bother to notice that the haunted house is sponsored and hosted by the town police department. I’m almost to the door when a woman screams, “He’s running!”

    “Sam!” I yell across the room, “You stay by the body and call for more backup!” The crowd parts in front of me like the Red Sea. I pump my fists, willing my legs to go faster as I run to the door of the escapee.

    The back door spits out into the back alley. The mustard yellow streetlight casts a post apocalyptic haze over the wet ground. I sprint down the alley as fast as my feet can carry me. As I approach the main street something flashes in my peripherals and I duck. A woodsman’s axe slices through the air and clangs against the brick wall of the haunted house. I slam my body against the assailant pinning him to the ground.

    “You –“ I begin but my blood goes cold. Wild eyed and sobbing against the rain soaked pavement is Jake.

    “That bitch,” Jake wailed, “she was going to leave me Mikey!”

    “You have the right to remain silent,” I choke. “Anything you say may be used –“

    “Come on, man,” Jake pleas. “Mikey, please.” He sobs uncontrollably. Twenty-five years ago Jake was saving me from getting my butt kicked by Bobby Wyatt during recess. And now I’ve got him pinned to the ground for murdering his wife.

    “—in a court of law.” I finish. I force out the rest of his rights while pulling him up to his feet. I pull out my cuffs from under my costume and click them around his burly wrists.

    “Mikey, man, please,” He begs. I clasp my hand over his slobbery lips and shove him against the wall.

    “You’re my best friend Jake,” I hiss within an inch of his face, “but Lila’s my sister.”

    1. madeindetroit

      This is so well done on so many levels. I love the way you tell the story in the present tense. The dialogue also rings authentic and true to the character’s you’ve created.

      Great job!

  18. Pete

    We sit on a railroad tie, like suspects, blood stained and scarred, waiting for the cops to call us into the ticket tent. Red and blue lights jump across the night, shedding split second urgency to the old house in the woods.

    Nora is still trembling, and I have to resist the urge to grab her, rub her back and kiss her head. I have no idea what’s taking her parents so long to get here. It’s been a half an hour at least since she was hysterical and screaming while the police were taping off the parking lot.
    Her voice sounds small, clogged up, drowning. “I thought it was fake. Malik didn’t you think it was fake?”

    Another car full of kids are getting turned away, tires crunching gravel, wild stares on the ghouls in custody. They’ll know all about it soon enough. The news team is setting up shop near the fleet of police cruisers. Evan rocks back and forth.

    “They’re going to grill me. I knew Ashley you know…”

    I nod absently. “We all knew Ashley.”

    Nora buries her head. I try to blink away Ashley’s pigtailed head on the floor. The ticket tent parts, Tina is ushered into a minivan with her parents. Evan stands, pacing, irritable.

    “What the hell are they asking us? ‘Uh, did you see anyone with a machete?’” He lights a cigarette, spits, then, “You think it was like, a terrorists?”


    The night spins in my head. Up until that very second I’ve been thinking about Miller—the sketchy dude who never says much. But he was in the basement come to think of it, but now thanks to Evan and his new twist, I realize what awaits me in that tent. Nora reaches for my hand.


    Malik Taariq. The Muslim kid. A beheading. My shoulders drop. Nora turns to me, wet eyes, puffy but animated beneath the black eyes, her zombie makeup. “What? Why” then, two beats later, her eyes widen. “Because of your name?”

    Evan’s eyes snap down to us, or at the six inches between us. “That’s messed up, but then…I wouldn’t put it past them.”

    Nora whips her head up Evan. “What? Do what?”

    “Nothing, just…” He throws his hands up. Two cops approach and escort Julie and Bree to the tent. Nora sets her hand on my arm, smeared in white skeleton make up, speckled with blood spatter. White face, I’d joked only three hours ago, getting ready with Nora, in her big, empty house while her parents were out to dinner. Why we were late. Why Nora is a zombie tonight and not pigtails.

    Pigtails. My skin prickles. When I look up, Evan confronts my gaze. “I wouldn’t be worried, Malik.”

    “But they must not have a suspect,” Nora concludes, letting go of my hand. “I mean, or they wouldn’t still be questioning us, right? That means the suspect is still at large.”

    Evan’s eyes leave mine, slide to the two inches between Nora and me. Then he turns, pacing again.

    “Has anyone seen Killer Miller?” he asks, looking around. An officer walks up, nods for him. He lolls his head. “Wish me luck.”
    He looks over his shoulder to us just as Nora’s head falls into my side. I can feel the aftershocks inside her body. “That girls head was just sitting there, on the floor, eyes open…it…”

    Could have been me.

    That’s what she’s thinking. She looks to the tent just as the news team goes live, then she straightens like she does when people are around. When we’re just friends. When Evan grabs her pigtails and makes rude comments. When he keeps asking her out and she keeps saying no. We turn to each other. Nora’s mouth hangs open. The tent is still closed. Behind Nora sits Evan’s cigarette butt, smoldering as a news camera bears down on us. A lady talking fast, asking questions. Questions meant to be asked about Nora.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Great job with the prompt as well as with the current situation regarding those who are judged “different”. I think Malik knows what happened, but I wonder what he will do with that knowledge.

    2. Beebles

      and yet with the greatest of skill you turn it into something that is your thing. Where do i start? There was the stuff you said – I was right there instantly in the paragraph, the description of her voice, using ‘two beats later’ instead of in a moment or in a second etc. And then there was the stuff you didn’t say, Evans looks which told us everything about him, about Nora and Malik, the dead girl, the clipped and natural dialogue. And that’s just the start. So I will stop. Quality.

  19. rakbit

    “OH MY GOD!!!! OH MY GOD!!!!” was all that I could yell as I ripped off my mask. I looked at the mask in my left hand, the devil mask’s grinning visage was wet and slick with blood dripping from it. Some of the blood must have gotten into my mouth, as the copper taste was making me gag. In my right hand, I held a bloody saber.
    “I killed her? OH MY GOD, I KILLED HER!!!!” As I was screaming this, I realized that I had no memory of it. My costume didn’t include a saber. I had no memory of obtaining a sword, or of swinging it in a killing blow, but there it was. I have never killed someone before, but I would guess that killing someone is something you remember.
    I looked at the body and I couldn’t process remorse for her, however I had plenty of mental bandwidth to spend on my self-preservation. The situation was confusing and terrifying. I may have killed someone! I am about to be found at the scene of the crime with the weapon and my best explanation is that I don’t remember anything.
    My eyes were drawn to the dismembered woman; while looking at the reflecting pool of blood that was spreading from the exposed viscera of her neck, I saw two eyes open in the reflection. I jumped back and raised the saber in my shaking hand. I was too shocked and mentally exhausted to say anything.
    The eyes were attached to a large man shaped thing with wings. The word demon came to mind. The eyes rose as the demon stood. With a low growl the demon said, “Duncan. Tsk tsk. You have been naughty.” Then he emitted what can only be described as a low guttural laugh. “You must be completely confused at this point. No matter. I will explain enough for you to make your decision.”
    “Decision? Wh, wh, what are you talking about? How do you know my name? DID YOU KILL THIS WOMAN?????”
    “Duncan. Stop talking.”
    I could no longer speak. I was paralyzed, either by fear or magic.
    “Your soul was promised to me by your mother years ago. The reason for it is comical.” Again, the laugh. “She was 14 at the time and wanted to date a boy. She used a Ouija board to communicate with me and the deal was struck. Don’t be mad at her. She thought it was a game, but it wasn’t.” Again the guttural laugh. “Now you have a choice, you can kill yourself, bringing you to me now or I can leave you here to let this play out. This choice will end with you coming to me as well, but it will be a slow, painful process, in which you will be loathed by others and yourself. After all,” he kicked something towards me, “you killed your sister.”
    The head rolled out of the shadows. I looked down. The face. The face of my sister.

    1. rakbit

      Sorry – I messed up the formatting. Re-posting for ease of readability.

      “OH MY GOD!!!! OH MY GOD!!!!” was all that I could yell as I ripped off my mask. I looked at the mask in my left hand, the devil mask’s grinning visage was wet and slick with blood dripping from it. Some of the blood must have gotten into my mouth, as the copper taste was making me gag. In my right hand, I held a bloody saber.

      “I killed her? OH MY GOD, I KILLED HER!!!!” As I was screaming this, I realized that I had no memory of it. My costume didn’t include a saber. I had no memory of obtaining a sword, or of swinging it in a killing blow, but there it was. I have never killed someone before, but I would guess that killing someone is something you remember.

      I looked at the body and I couldn’t process remorse for her, however I had plenty of mental bandwidth to spend on my self-preservation. The situation was confusing and terrifying. I may have killed someone! I am about to be found at the scene of the crime with the weapon and my best explanation is that I don’t remember anything.

      My eyes were drawn to the dismembered woman; while looking at the reflecting pool of blood that was spreading from the exposed viscera of her neck, I saw two eyes open in the reflection. I jumped back and raised the saber in my shaking hand. I was too shocked and mentally exhausted to say anything.

      The eyes were attached to a large man shaped thing with wings. The word demon came to mind. The eyes rose as the demon stood. With a low growl the demon said, “Duncan. Tsk tsk. You have been naughty.” Then he emitted what can only be described as a low guttural laugh. “You must be completely confused at this point. No matter. I will explain enough for you to make your decision.”

      “Decision? Wh, wh, what are you talking about? How do you know my name? DID YOU KILL THIS WOMAN?????”

      “Duncan. Stop talking.”

      I could no longer speak. I was paralyzed, either by fear or magic.

      “Your soul was promised to me by your mother years ago. The reason for it is comical.” Again, the laugh. “She was 14 at the time and wanted to date a boy. She used a Ouija board to communicate with me and the deal was struck. Don’t be mad at her. She thought it was a game, but it wasn’t.” Again the guttural laugh. “Now you have a choice, you can kill yourself, bringing you to me now or I can leave you here to let this play out. This choice will end with you coming to me as well, but it will be a slow, painful process, in which you will be loathed by others and yourself. After all,” he kicked something towards me, “you killed your sister.”

      The head rolled out of the shadows. I looked down. The face. The face of my sister.

  20. dustymayjane

    I’d never liked Halloween much, but when Trav and Kyle asked me to work at the local haunted house I agreed, needing the extra money. It sucked that the two of them knew I had an aversion to scary places and they taunted me every chance they got. A creepy hand reaching out of nowhere, a blood curdling scream at the quietest moment, often sent me into a panic.

    “Geez, chill out there Bro. It’s just us.” Trav tried to sound sympathetic but I knew he was behind the pranks.

    It was closing time, midnight on the last night, Halloween. The last group of screaming teenage girls had just gone through and I was anxious to get out of my costume and makeup. I heard a slam behind me and felt a grip on my leg that pulled be down and dragged me through a door that slammed shut behind me. The grip on my leg loosened and I heard another slam and footsteps running away. The room was unlit, pitch black. I felt for the door but there was nothing, no door knob, no handle. I couldn’t escape and I couldn’t see a thing. My heart was pounding and my lungs couldn’t get air. I was sweating bullets and mortifying tears wet my face.

    I pounded on what I thought was the door and shouted. “Hey! Get me the hell out of here!” No one responded. It seemed like forever before I heard a voice.

    “Hello, let me out!” I shouted.

    The voice was female and seemed to be just beyond the door.

    “No, go away! NO! Stop it! Leave me alone!”

    I heard a scream and a scuffle, more muffled screams, moans, and a thud. A clang of something heavy landed on the floor and rapid footsteps disappeared. The dark room in which I was locked became hot and the air tinged with the smell of blood. I sucked in, trying to fill my lungs. Panic made me weak and I fell to the floor. I felt for the bottom edge of the door and pressed my fingers under it, trying to rattle it open. A warm stickiness oozed onto my hands, now wet with what I guessed to be blood. To add to my horror the front of my pants warmed and I knew I had lost control of my bladder. In my panic, I wondered where the others went. How could they do this and just leave me? Who’s blood was on me?

    Suddenly bright light from the far wall filled the room.

    “Hey Bro, we gotcha good this time!”

    Trav and Kyle stood over me laughing until they saw my hands.

    “What the hell happened to you?” Trav asked and knelt down.

    Anger and adrenaline filled me with strength and I slammed my fist into Trav’s face. I ran through the open door as fast as my weak legs would carry me. I shouted back to the losers to discover what I knew would be payback. “Open the other door you assholes. Happy Halloween!”

    Kyle unlocked the door and the bloody head of a young woman roll into the room.

    Trav and Kyle each felt a humiliating warmth on the front of their trousers.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Scary as hell from your MC’s prospective. Just plain filled with horror and blood. Now that I’ve said it, it was a tense and exciting trip to the beheading. Shutter!!!

  21. Beebles

    The service yard of our haunted house served as handy smoking area for staff. Milo just grunted and removed the green bowler hat and monkey mask. He leant up against the wall and from within his ape suit produced something more potent than my Malboro. He lit it and drew deeply.

    Milo was one of the gamers who came round Rinnie’s place. I’m partial to a bit of role play – not that I let it get in the way of dating. Milo was the real McCoy. He came to our meets in costume. He was … enthusiastic, jumping on furniture and waving his home made sword around; though there was more Betelgeuse than Errol Flynn about him. Just a little creepy, not to mention the personal hygiene issues. Tonight he wore the expression of an undertaker who’d just buried his own son.

    ‘What’s up with you?’

    There was a pause. ‘Gracie Miller just blew me off.’

    My mouth fell open. ‘You asked Gracie Miller out?’ I stifled a laugh. ‘She’s a bit … other side of the tracks for you isn’t she?’ For any of us. One of the primped and preened daddy’s girl set. Handbags in the crook of their arm, pouty selfies all the time. You get the idea.

    ‘Yeah, what can I say,’ he sneered, ‘I’m a level ten wizard with a wand full of testosterone. She freakin laughed at me, man.’

    ‘Well what did you expect? They’re not worth bothering with.’

    ‘Said she was coming tonight. I tell ya, I’ll give her the freakin fright of her life when she does. She’s a freakin sneetch. A freakin snooty beaked barbie, with a big star on her belly.’

    ‘Aaah.’ I had been wondering about his costume and now the penny dropped.

    ‘Well, good luck scaring her in that.’ I said.

    ‘Yeah?’ he hissed. ‘You never had my Dad read you bedtime stories. Sadistic bastard he was.’

    ‘Well we’d better take up our positions. Doors open in five.’ I picked up my scythe from where it leant against the wall.

    ‘What’s that?’ Milo asked.

    ‘Well, I’m Death. That’s my scythe.’

    ‘Sweet. Can I …?’

    ‘You keep your hands off,’ I told him. And he better had. It was my uncles and it was a well maintained bygone.

    At zero hour the house was black as treacle, dry ice swirled around our feet. I’d found my pitch and made sure the windows were all blacked out. I reached for the scythe to find it gone. My flashlight showed an empty room. I swore and was about to confront Milo in the next room when the bell tolled.

    The first punters had arrived.

    I recognised the approaching giggles and swearing instantly – Gracie Miller and co. As they approached my room a torch strobed in the corridor. The girls screamed and then a muffled voice shouted.

    ‘And then Sylvester McMonkey McBean invited THEM into his HEADS OFF machine!’

    There was a squelching sound I didn’t recognise and the screaming stopped abruptly. I rushed to the door in time to see Gracie Miller’s head roll past, wide eyes and a strange ghastly pout on its lips. In the corridor was Milo, frozen, scythe dripping, and Agnes, Gracie’s friend, slumped phone in hand against the wall, in a final oozing gurgling selfie.

    ‘I … I …’ stammered the fix it up chappie.

    ‘Put the scythe down, Milo,’ I said, ‘I’m sure you never meant to hurt them.’

    I said and said and said those words. I said them, but I lied them.

  22. BlueSea

    The lights flicker on after what seems an eternity. Han’s scream had lingered in the air as Al waited for the veil of darkness to lift and illuminate the scene. He gives it a quick once-over.

    Han’s head is frozen in a silent yell, her body slumped beside it, the corpse’s limbs in a failed attempt to reach for the head, slack fingers a mere hairs breadth from it. His previous target is staring down at it, hands shakily pointing. Eyes wide and hyperventilating.

    Frank’s closed the toilet door, hand gripping the switch, green face fixated on Han’s prone form with an expression he’s surely mimicking on his own.

    Al curses. And the night had been going so well. They’d gotten at least a year’s worth of fun out of this one night. Why did her form give out and ruin it?

    He’d told Han to double check her precautions. Make sure her head was screwed on the tightest it could go, and beyond. But she’d waved him away, saying she’d get neck pains. Then why not come as her true form? That’s what he and Frank were doing. No need for concealing canines if you were going as a vampire, no need to waste hours covering skin if green was the Frankenstein’s monsters’ normal tone, and certainly no need to secure heads on necks and risk it falling off if you were a headless goddamn horsewoman.

    But no, she’d wanted to be a witch.

    And now he (and Frank) must pay for her selfishness.

    He catches Frank’s eyes and mouths ‘Plan Mask’. The man nods his understanding. Al clears his throat.

    “Oh, the horror! She is dead! Dead, I say! We must ascertain cause behind this terrible misfortune!” Al waves his cape around for effect and drops to his knees over Han. He suitably weeps.

    The witness is staring at him now. Frank’s sigh over his friend’s ‘acting’ is ignored.

    Al pouncs on his attention.

    “We, the innocent bystanders, must identify the cause of this poor woman’s death!” He motions to Han.
    “As we can ascertain from her decapitated head, she must have tripped and fallen, knocking her neck against…” he looks around. Frank is gesturing toward the sink. “…that sink! That is why her head no longer occupies her neck! An accident! No killer! So none of us innocent bystanders caused her death!”

    “Whose death?”

    Silence. All three are staring at Han’s head. She stares back. Frank makes cutting motions across the stitches of his neck. The witness has gone pale-like and is visibly panicking.

    Al hisses ‘Plan Turn!” The man’s neck is exposed. He can suck it out, turn him, and swear him to secrecy /now/.

    Frank glares and angrily growls “No!”

    He is just about to shout that his morals are completely unnecessary right now when a loud thump interrupts them.

    Han’s body is standing over the prone form of the witness, arms raised in a hitting motion. They look to her head. She grimaces back and says “Sorry?”

    Frank sighs.
    “I’ll carry him to the lair.”

  23. ReathaThomasOakley


    “Amateurs,” Freda sighed.

    “Don’t you know another word?” Harry regretted asking as soon as the words were out of his mouth. He never wanted to offend Freda, but this conversation was getting tiresome.

    “So how would you describe them?” she asked. “No originality, no creativity, just mirroring whatever social media deems current, and yelling ‘BOO’. I mean everyone knows that whole killer clown thing is a hoax.”

    “Social media?” Harry hooted. “Why Freda, I think you’ve joined the 21st century. You, the great classicist!”

    “My family, remember Harry, what my family means–”

    “Yes, my dear Freda, I know all about generations of your family, Westchester County, everything.” He carefully rearranged his arm before he stood. “Want another drink?”

    “No, better not, need to leave soon, those three young men need a bit of schooling, and I shouldn’t have to remind you our story started centuries before 1820, whereas you, my dear Harry, are a mid-century phenom.”

    “Yeah, you got me there, post-war prosperity, kids with cars, teen aged girls in pink poodle skirts, those were the good years. I was everywhere. Now? Just a memory, or a mention on some senior citizen’s Do You Remember Facebook posting.” He lifted the Scotch bottle with his left hand and poured. “Saw something about cousin Johnny just last week.”

    “And, where is he this fine night?” Freda asked as she upbraided her long gray hair.

    “Boy Scout camp out, he’s still big with Scouts, especially in October. He’s kept generations of prepubescent lads from even tasting organ meat.” Harry laughed as he sat and reattached the shiny hook to the stub of his right forearm. “Yep, I’ll bet you could walk the halls of almost any assisted living facility at midnight groaning, ‘Johnny, where’s my liver’ and half the cardiac arrest monitors would go off.”

    “And, you, Harry the Hook, probably still give lotta old gals nightmares.”

    “Kept ’em outta backseats, though, didn’t I? You look about ready, need any help?”

    “No,” Freda held her ears, gave a little twist, and her head neatly separated from her neck. “Got it, but thanks.” She gathered her long hair in her hand and swung her head in front of Harry’s face. “What do you think?”

    “Freda, my love, you make every headless horseman and castle stalking headless woman before you proud.” Harry put down his drink, and, using his famous hook, gently pulled Freda’s head to him for a kiss. “Now, go show those amateurs what real horror is all about.”

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Beebles. I can easily recall how I felt hearing the Johnny story the first time at a church camp camp fire. I believe the classics are still the best.

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      Just so you know, I love this line: “Yep, I’ll bet you could walk the halls of almost any assisted living facility at midnight groaning, ‘Johnny, where’s my liver’ and half the cardiac arrest monitors would go off.”

      And, as always, great characters! 😀

        1. Kerry Charlton

          What can I add, Reatha?
          JUST A JOLLY GOOD TIME IN READING! You never disappoint, your originality is so custom tailored for each and every prompt. I think you have an encyclopedia wedged between your ears.

    2. madeindetroit

      Loved the characters you’ve created here and the ease a dialogue between them. You definitely have an ear for dialogue and a gift for pacing in your writing. Fantastic take on the prompt.

  24. pvenderley

    As soon as the lights come up someone starts shouting: “Her head! Someone get her head!”

    Someone else screams, for real this time, not the giggly little screams that you and your buddy have been hearing all night, and you stare at the floor for what has to be five minutes at the body lying on the ground. You take in her twisted legs, her arms lying at improbable angles — one trapped behind her body, one splayed above and beyond her neck.

    Even now you can’t bring yourself to acknowledge that her head is missing.

    “You pushed her!” someone else screams, practically in your face. “What kind of amateurs are you? You’re not supposed to touch anyone for real!”

    Your buddy, the guy whose idea this haunted house was (“it’ll be easy money!” he’d said. “A couple hundred bucks a night! You’ll see!”) is stammering: “It’s it’s it’s our first year…”

    “Where is her head?”

    And that’s when you see the woman’s head being jostled back and forth in its cage of legs and feet, eyes and mouth stretched open in an impossible “Oh!”, then clenched tight as someone kicks it and it pops into the air.

    Coming straight at you.

    You leap to the left to dodge the grotesque projectile, then think better of it and shoot your arms out to catch it, like a kid playing left field for the first time. The head slips through your hands but she had long hair, and your fingers snag that and you pull the hair and the head back to you as you slam into the wall and slide onto the floor.

    You stare into her eyes. Beautiful, deep, dark eyes with hardly any white to them.

    Someone kneels down in front of you and gently removes the head from your hands. Her friend, you think. They came in together, you think. You don’t look into his eyes. You can’t.

    He says nothing, but takes the head and places it gently at the neck of the fallen woman’s body. He runs a finger along the gap between neck and head, whispering softly words that you have never heard before, and know can never hear again.

    The audience mutters as the woman’s body twitches and sits upright. She shakes a bit, convulsing her arms and legs to position themselves in a fashion so that everything is aligned. She raises one hand like Morticia beckoning to her Gomez, and her partner grasps it and helps her stand. She looks at you with those big, dark, impossible eyes and smiles.

    “Come down and visit us sometime,” she says.

    As they leave the room you see for the first time the glowing orange decal on the back of her partner’s shirt. It’s a silhouette of a rambling mansion, with an address below it.

    “Sinister Ridge,” someone whispers. “That’s only three blocks from here.”

  25. Jack Tilley

    Love the very chilling clue – Billy’s lifting the hem of a headless woman’s skirt! And he certainly followed through in the final paragraph where He picked up the head and let it swing as he walked toward the woods paints a very vivid, gruesome image.

  26. Jack Tilley


    After stumbling and crashing about, Eric finally found the light switch.

    And we stared. Maybe for three seconds, maybe for three hours. Before Eric managed to rasp, “What the hell happened, Pete?”

    “I just said ‘boo’. I swear.”

    Buzz walked in. “Christ! What happened…her head’s…holy mother of…”

    I dropped to my knees, grabbed the woman’s severed head and—madly—tried to put it back. It slipped and mashed, but made no real connection; all the king’s men…

    “Oh, God, Pete, don’t!” Eric had to look away.

    Buzz said, “What happened?”

    As I continued corkscrewing the woman’s head, I screamed, “Boo! I swear to God, I just said ‘boo’! She falls down…and…”

    “Hit her head…?” Eric whispered, with a hint of hysterical giggle.

    I gave up a bad job, let her head rock gently to rest on her left ear, eyes wide and staring at the raw wound above her shoulders. “She’s dead,” I said quietly.

    One of them—probably Eric—let out a harsh snort of laughter.

    A few minutes, or maybe hours, later, the police arrived. As they pounded on the door and commanded open-up-in-the-name-of-the-law, I grabbed the head and threw it, on the second bounce, behind an old armchair. “Don’t tell,” I begged my buddies as two plain-clothes detectives rushed into the room.

    We were immediately put against the wall and frisked.

    “What happened?” the senior detective asked.

    “To the woman,” added the junior detective.

    I received a sharp jab in the ribs—from a gun. With blood on my hands I was obviously their primary person of interest. I was told to turn around and I did.

    “I did it,” a thin high-pitched voice said—and I was almost positive it wasn’t mine.

    “Who said that?” the senior detective snapped, giving Eric a reflex jab with his gun barrel, causing him to squeal and wriggle.

    “No, Frank,” the junior detective said. “It’s coming from over there…” And he pointed at the old armchair.

    “…for love,” the high-pitched voice said.

    Frank grabbed me by the throat, rammed me back against the wall and put the gun to my left ear. “Tell my what happened or, so help me, I’ll blow your goddamned head off.”

    “Takes one to know one!” Eric tittered.

    “Better tell him,” the junior detective chimed in.

    “She…she…” I rasped, struggling to get the words out with Frank’s grip on my throat. “She…”

    “The cat’s mother!” Eric suddenly shrieked, startling the senior detective so that he let me go, turned, and trained his gun on the woman.

    “She…she…she…” I continued to mechanically repeat.

    Three times a lady!” Eric screeched piercingly, making Buzz turn.

    Frank’s gun went off.

    Staggering, light-headed, I lay myself down beside the lady with no name. It was nice to rest, and for it all to make sense in the end.

    1. Beebles

      Hi jack. I cannot confess to completely understanding this but it was certainly pacey and intriguing which kept me reading. The chaos and hysteria came across very well. Who was that poor girl?

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Jack!

      This story fascinates me. I can’t tell if the MC has a personality disorder or if he’s a messed up ventriloquist or…what.

      The part where he’s trying to stick the head back on the body was very well-done. I imagine there are some people who would react that way. 🙂

  27. Rodino412

    I hate wearing masks. Disgusting. It’s the mixture of latex and sweat. It doesn’t help that every thirty seconds I have to jump out and scream. After two hours, my breath smells wretched. Yes, it was fun for the first couple of times. Now it’s been hours of screaming, jumping and listening to that laugh from Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

    I feel someone grab my arm and I look over to see Julie in her zombie costume and her painted face. Why didn’t I paint my face?

    Trying to talk over the music, she laughs and yells, “I hate this!”

    “Why are we here?” I ask.

    “Christie, remember!”

    Christie. The third person in our study group. Her family runs this production. She asked if we wanted to make some extra money scaring people. It sounded like fun and Julie was going.

    Julie pulls off my glove and hands me two ear plugs. “I forgot to give these to you when we got here! I’m so sorry!” she says. She holds my hand a little longer than was necessary. I smile behind my mask. She giggles and runs back to her room. I roll the ear plugs between my fingers and shove them in my ears. As I put my glove back on, the ear plugs tickle as they expand. So much better. Thanks Julie.

    I see the green light indicating that people are coming into my room. I feel rejuvenated and I really want to scare someone. The door opens and I just let go. I jump out from behind the curtain and I scream and flail my arms around like a mad man. This is going to be the best scare ever!

    As I scream, something falls against my legs. It hits me so hard that I fall backwards and rip down part of the curtain.

    I look over and the people are just staring at the floor. I balance myself and turn the lights on and see that someone threw a prop at me. A very realistic prop. Too realistic. Is that a person?


    I look around and see a woman’s head on the floor next to the body. The head is painted as a zombie, just like –


    Confused, I looked at the group of people and realize that Christie is in the back of the room. She is just staring at me. She pushes her way through the group of people. When she gets to the front, she raises up her hand with a large knife and starts to scream. I gasp, jerk back in fear and fall to the floor. Christie jumps on my chest and thrusts the knife into the floor next to my head. Then she begins to tickle my neck as everyone starts to laugh. I could see Julie walk into the room. The head on the floor was painted just like Julie’s. This was my “employment initiation.”

    “We’re glad you’re here,” Christie says with a smile.

    “…best scare ever.”

    1. Beebles

      Hi rodino, I enjoyed that. Well set up and its always a good sign, when I am mentally writing my comments before I have finished reading and the ending blows them out of my head. Critically, at least one tense shift that I saw, but that’s not a hill of beans.

  28. Hiba Gardezi

    I look into the long funny mirror on the wall and gape comically at my distorted image.
    I’ve always loved Halloween.
    Halloween mirrors.
    Halloween candy.
    Halloween scaring people.
    I smile and it looks like I’m going to cry.
    ‘Stop it, Jules,’ Tyler says, straightening his vampire cloak, ‘I think I hear someone.’
    I stand next to him. I hear someone too.
    Bad choice, sweetheart. I laugh quietly and high five Sam ‘Bad Choice’
    Are we gonna have some fun!
    The footsteps are closer now
    She’s here
    I shriek and Tyler laughs an evil laugh. I join him as we rush towards her, our arms wide open.
    She screams. Louder than ever and all I can think is: We’re not that scary.
    Oh well, extra cash.
    But then I hear a loud bang and her body falls onto the floor, next to our feet.
    ‘Lights!’ I call. Someone turns on the lights.
    As soon as they’re on I wish I hadn’t asked for them.
    The image is gory.
    She lies motionless as blood oozes out of a wound. Where is that wound?
    Her head has been sliced of and her neck lets out a pool of blood.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      A very tidy tale you’ve told. Brought back a memory of my one experience with those mirrors years ago, and my fear of not being able to find the exit. Good job.

  29. cosi van tutte

    I apologize in advance for the word abuse. 😀


    “Awesome evil clown costume, dude.”

    “Dude? Why you dressed like Shia Labeouf?”

    “Huh? Shia’s scary. Dude’s like the scariest. You seen him in Crystal Skull?”

    “Dude. That ain’t scary at all. Temple of Doom can scare the nuclear bomb out of Crystal Skull.”

    “Trust me, dude. Shia’s scary. See, there’s this video of him and he’s like killing people and eating

    “Dude. That’s so faked. You can smell the CGI in it. Dude’s mouth can’t even begin to open that wide.”

    “But, dude—”

    “Dude! Shut it. Hot blonde comin’ this way. You ready to scare her? Well. If you can scare her.”

    “Dude, she’s so gonna get scared. Just watch the master.” Jeff jumped out of the alcove. “BLURAAAGH!”

    “AhhhHHHHHH! IT’S SHIA LABEOUF! OHMYAOFAFIA;IHOA;IF;AHF! EVERYONE RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!” She spun around and ran off like a crazy thing was chasing her.

    “Dude! That was awesome! High five it, bro.”

    “Yeah! Oh. Dude, did she just run into the Gargoyle Garden Patch?”

    “Yeah, dude.”

    “Like, dude! Isn’t that where they have that swinging thing with that sharp pointy thing on the end?”

    “Yeah, dude. Why?”

    “Dude, I think we need to go rescue her. If she gets her head chopped up—”

    “Dude! We’d be in so much trouble.”

    “Trouble nothing. Dude, we’d be fired.”


  30. thejim

    It was a cool Massachusetts night, the crowd for the House of Horrors was dwindling and the last tour was winding down, things would be wrapping up very soon.

    Allen was tired and glad this was the last night to do this. He thought he would give Andrea a little scare before the end of the night. When he jumped out from his spot, he noticed something on the hallway floor.

    He slowly lifted his Frankenstein mask to get a better look at what he thought he saw.

    Blood seeped out along the old wooden floor and made its way straight for his boots.

    He walked over and knelt down by Andrea’s headless body the red flashing light, blinking from next door gave him brief moments of vision. He looked over and saw her head, still with the bride of Frankenstein wig on. Her eyes open wide and a look of horror on her face.

    He reached for his cell phone and someone stepped into the room.

    His eyes faded across the floor trying not to make any sudden movements, he could see a woman in a dirty white dress standing with a bloody axe in her hand.

    She lifted the axe and with one clean swing, severed Allen’s head, and it rolled down the hall leaving a red speckled trail of blood.

    With the last tour out the door, Steve made his rounds to make sure no one was left in the house and as he went by each display, he powered down anything still running. He came up to one of the last booths he could see Nancy standing staring at the hallway between the Frankenstein and Jack the Ripper booth.

    “Nance, time to wrap it up, we have to do the tear down tomorrow it is going to be a long day,” Steve said has he made his way past The Boston Strangler.

    Nancy slowly turned around.

    “Don’t know what you did tonight, but that costume is scary as Sh!t. This looks like real blood.” Steve’s eyes look past Nancy to the bodies on the floor. “What the He11!” Steve Brushed by Nancy and made his way to Allen’s body, before he got there he spun around in realization only to have his face meet with the blade of the axe. His lifeless body fell to the ground with the axe sticking straight up. Nancy walked over, put her shoe across his bloody head, and pulled out the axe.

    She made her way to the front door all the way Nancy sang, “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one. Lizzy Bordon took an axe…”

  31. jhowe

    Jeffry sat with his chin in his hands and spoke through his splayed fingers. “The head’s gonna show up, you know it will.”

    “All I know,” said Frank, “is that I don’t wanna call the cops and have em go asking what happened.”

    “But we didn’t do it,” said Billy.

    “But we installed the guillotine and it looks like she must’ve been messing with it or something.” He grimaced as he ran his finger through the blood on the gleaming blade. “It wasn’t supposed to actually work.”

    “Damn it Frank, her hands are tied. Somebody did this,” Jeffry said as he looked up. “Billy, leave her alone, cripes!” Billy looked sheepish and let go of the hem of the woman’s skirt.

    “Ok, she’s dead, obviously, and her head must have rolled away or something. We gotta find it.”

    “We looked everywhere, Frank. It’s gone.”

    “And you think it’s gonna turn up? How’s that?”

    “I don’t know, maybe we’re getting framed or something.” Jeffry squeezed the bridge of his nose. “Some haunted house this turned out to be.”

    “I’m gonna go look outside,” Billy said.

    They waited as he went out the side door. “That guy gives me the creeps.”

    “Me too. We gotta call the cops.”

    Frank’s hands shook as he eyed the headless girl. “I don’t know, maybe you’re right.” He took his cell from his pocket.

    “My phone’s dead. Gimme yours.” Jeffry got his phone out and stared in horror at the dark screen.

    “Mine’s dead too! We gotta get outa here.”

    They ran to the door and pounded at the wooden slab that wouldn’t budge. “What in hell’s going on!” They both started coughing as the room filled with thick, black smoke.

    “Holy shoot, he started the house afire!” Jeffry grabbed Frank by the arm. “We gotta get to the front door.”

    Frank coughed violently and let Jeffery lead him through the smoke. “Get on your hands and knees!” They did so. “There ain’t as much smoke down here.”

    Billy heard the pounding at the front door and smiled when it stopped. A siren sounded in the distance. He picked up the head and let it swing as he walked toward the woods. “I got a couple of tidbits for you in hell, Mr. Dahmer.” Billy turned once he was safely in the tree line and watched as a fire truck arrived, the house completely engulfed in flames. “I even cooked em for ya.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Ouch! This is way up on the dark and disturbing scale, John. I had to read it through a couple of times to establish the sequence of events in my head, but that just meant I read it twice. I’m not sure if Jeffry and Frank had it coming or if Billy just demonized them in his mind. The impression in my mind is that Billy was one of Dahmer’s victims that survived. Really nicely done.


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