Midnight Fear: A Flash Fiction Spooky Story

Hey everyone!

I’m back from vacation (did ya miss me? :P) and I’ll be doing some NaNo-ish posts soon (eek!) but today I’m doing something… different. XD

Jenelle Schmidt has a Spooky Story Challenge again this year (check it out!), flash-fiction edition, aaand I decided to join in.

I’ve been kind of enjoying writing flash fiction — works one thousand words long or less — lately (like We Otter Do It and Mentor Problems). Only problem is, spooky/scary stories are NOT my thing at all. XD

But I did have a flash-fiction piece around that I wrote a few years back and recently rewrote, based on a nightmare I had. I kind of wrote it as “therapy” and after I got it down “on paper,” it didn’t scare me anymore — but I wasn’t really planning on posting it lest it scare other people! 😉

So be warned, if that’s not your thing.

But I decided to share it anyway.

Enjoy!

Midnight Fear

by

Deborah O’Carroll

Night shrouds the world. Black as ink, the dark sky hangs overhead—the roof of a giant safe or vault, locking me into this world of nightmare. A car screeches somewhere. The city block stretches before me, with but a few yellow street-lamps to shine small patches of imagined safety onto the pavement—bits of light, small, pitiful, feebly trying to push back the night.

The wind is on the move. It drives grey rags of clouds across icy stars, slips cold fingers of air down my collar, shrieks relentlessly through the branches of a tree I walk beneath. The twigs chatter together like teeth. I shiver and hasten my pace, casting glances this way and that. I should have been home long ago.

Someone runs up the road—whisks past, a shadow under a street-lamp. He calls back from behind me in a hoarse whisper: “It’s coming!”

I don’t need to ask what “it” is.

I break into a panicked run, clutching my skirt, my shoes pounding a war-drum’s call, my heart a fluttering bird trapped between metal bars. The street stretches on forever. I must reach home before it finds me.

My house appears in the darkness. Relief floods me. But as I near my yard, I freeze. Terror grips me in an iron vice. At the crossroads where my street meets the next, a shadow moves.

Round the corner with slow deliberation pads the embodiment of midnight fear.

The black panther.

It’s twice as big as I had heard. It stops in the midst of the crossroads, shadowy head swinging slowly as if deciding which street to take. Not my street. Not— Motionless save for the twitch of its tail, its gleaming eyes full of quiet malice fix on me.

I stand transfixed as we stare at each other for a short eternity. Then, with slow, measured steps, it pads up the street toward me. Panic breaks me free of my terror-induced paralysis. I tear across the road, stumble up my sidewalk and front steps to my house. Safety lies in wait for me behind the door. I claw frantically in my pocket for the key. Not there. It has to be there—

The key is gone. I can’t get in.

Nowhere to hide. I must find somewhere . . . I dart a glance over my shoulder. The beast still pads slowly up the street. I run across the porch, down the steps, and heave myself over the side of the bed of the pickup truck. I hunker down low with my head down, breath coming in ragged gasps, heart running a marathon. Perhaps the panther will pass by, continue down the street . . . Perhaps it will not find me.

All is quiet. I wait forever. Silence. I dare a quick glimpse over the side of the pickup bed. My heart trips and falls and skips a beat.

I had heard no sound. Yet the panther pads toward me across my grassy lawn, as silent and graceful as any of its smaller kin. In horrified fascination I watch its dark bulk make its slow, sinister way toward me, a deeper black beneath the tree shadows cast by the moon. Instead of leaping, the creature circles the truck. A long wooden plank forms a ramp from the ground up to the tailgate of the pickup’s bed. A path straight to me. The panther sets a fore-paw on the plank and begins its slow relentless ascent, fixing near-hypnotic eyes on me.

I seize the end of the ramp with frantic prying fingers, trying to flip it over. It doesn’t budge. The panther takes another step.

I scrabble desperately about in the dark in the back of the pickup. My hand touches an object. A hammer. I fling it with all my strength.

It strikes the beast between its gold street-lamp eyes.

I hold my breath. The panther pauses, shakes its head once, then comes on. Its teeth glitter under the moon. Its paws tread softly pad-pad-pad up the plank.

In a final surge of mind-numbing panic, I grab the next object my hand finds—a large heavy mallet—and fling that too. Then another—a length of pipe—and another and another, I know not what, flinging them in quick succession. I shut my eyes against the terror and only hope one of them will make it stop coming. Just make it stop coming toward me. I am out of things to throw. Dark despair seizes me, but no claws. I open my eyes.

The panther still stands on the plank. It does not move. Then it sways.

And

The shape of terror hits the ground with a thud. It lies still.

Relief tears a gasp from my lungs as I remember to breathe again. I collapse in the bed of the pickup truck.

***

Time follows in a blur. They come at last to find the beast, and find it dead. I climb shakily down into my lawn. People surround me, despite the midnight hour, praising me and my non-existent bravery for the death of the terror. Voices roll around me, talking of taking me to dinner, of celebration. I don’t listen to them. I can only stand beneath the trees, swaying like their branches, staring down at the panther. It lies on the grass, a sleek pile of black fur, motionless. Dead. But without losing its menace.

Unthinking dread still fills me, and I can’t look away, despite knowing that it’s dead from the heavy metal things I had thrown at it. I wish I’d thrown heavier ones.

I keep staring, half expecting the panther to move.

It does.

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Junishness {2016}

ishness

Ishness of June 2016

Oh. Hello, July. How did you get here.

CAN WE TAKE A MOMENT TO FREAK OUT ABOUT THE FACT THAT THE YEAR IS OFFICIALLY HALF OVER???

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH.

Okay. Thank you. Freak-out is done.

…Ish. (*internally shrieking*)

Ahem.

On with the regularly scheduled Ishness of the last month…

EXCITING THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN MY LIFE

Dead internet, often, agaiiiin. Joy. So I’m still behind on everything due to that. Surprise! XD But fortunately it’s been back for a little while now so maybe that will be over. 🙂

I went to a library sale. I normally spend hours and hours… but this time I was done in a record 45 minutes. It was a very tiny library sale, evidently. XD But I found few gems…

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We kicked off The Silmarillion Awards! Nominations are ending TODAY (July 1), and voting for the top five nominees in each category will start early next week!

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skinmapStephen Lawhead commented on my book blog, on my review of his book The Skin Map. … GUYS. STEPHEN. LAWHEAD. He thanked me for a “splendid review”, said I seemed to have “got” it, and was curious what I’ll think of the rest of the series. (FYI, The Skin Map was one of my favoritest reads last year. SUCH AN EXCELLENT BOOK. You should totally read it — highly recommended.) I’m still recovering from this amazing happening. Saying my day was made is a huge understatement. *flails around*

WRITING

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I wrote closer to 3,000 words than to 2,000, which is a feat for me these days. (Okay, so it was 2,693. BUT STILL.)

Mostly writer dares from my writing group (thanks, Shelby and Ellie!), some snatches of The Other Half of Everything, as well as randomly rewriting an old flashfiction story of mine called Midnight Fear. Which was… interesting.

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I also may or may not have started thinking about possibilities of what I might write for NaNoWriMo this year. …Yep, that’s a thing.

What? NaNo’s four months away. Might as well start preparing… *cough* Pleasedon’tkillme.

Speaking of alarmingly fast-moving time and writing…

We’re officially halfway through the year and I’ve written a grand total of 10,000 words this year, which on the one hand is WRITING but on the other hand is rather sadly small…

READING

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Once again, I didn’t read a lot, but these were enjoyable all the same. 🙂 To be fair, Defying Shadows was HUGE (and also AWESOME. O_O) so… beta-reading that kind of counts for a couple books, I’d say, which is why I didn’t read as much. Anyway. Brief thoughts on them all are here on my book blog. ^_^

BLOGGING

I kinda-sorta-almost-maybe-perhaps mayyyy or may not have roughly planned out ideas for what I might blog about for . . . the rest of the year.

Um.

That might be a thing. >.>

I mean, hey, I technically only post usually once a week sooo that’s only 4 per month, right? No idea if it’ll actually HAPPEN but one can hope. XD

What can I say, I’m an obsessive planner and haven’t done something like this in awhile, and I kind of wasn’t able to actually BLOG very much due to said internet, sooo planning happened…

*crickets*

…I’m obsessed and insane, aren’t I. -_- *faceplants into desk*

Ahem.

Postses on le blogs of mine werrrrrre:

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Here:

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The Page Dreamer:

Random: I’ve made 40 posts on my book-blog since starting it on New Year’s Day! 🙂

LINKS ELSEWHERE

I’m sadly very bad about remembering to save links to posts I loved, so I can share them on my blog… but I DO remember a small handful from this month:

VIEWING

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(I’m fully aware of how weird these movies look together; hush)

I actually don’t usually watch movies much, but libraries happened, so I saw a bunch of weird, random movies for some reason…? So you get to suffer through me rambling about them… 😛

  • Pan: Okay, so this was BIZARRE and they changed a ton of things and — it wasn’t really my favorite and was really NOTHING like Peter Pan, buuuut all in all I enjoyed it okay and was really surprised at that. o.o Mostly that I really really really loved James Hook. XD …I know that sounds bad. But he wasn’t Evil-Captain-Hook yet! And he’s also a funny, self-centered, kind-of-epic, Indiana-Jones-ish character played by Murtagh. What is not to like? I mean… y’know, other than the fact that he’s supposed to become an evil villain. >.> Ahem. *cough* The fact that this movie was basically “a buddy movie of Peter Pan and Hook” is… WEIRD. Like WHAT EVEN. But it was also fun. So. *shrug* I’ll just pretend it’s an alternate universe version of Peter Pan. 😛 (Also, the last lines. *flail*)
  • Red Riding Hood: Um. Creepy. o.o Mostly too creepy for me, I guess, but I did enjoy parts of it, and it was interesting trying to guess who the wolf was… Everyone was SO suspicious. I guess it’s like a mystery/not-quite-horror/medieval retelling of Red Riding Hood. Very… different. But I kinda had fun with it anyway. 😛
  • Snow White and the Huntsman: Apparently I was in for dark fairytale movies this month? I . . . was . . . kind of really surprised at liking this. I expected it to be awful? But it was surprisingly okay. Not brilliant exactly, and a bit creepy, but I enjoyed it. I haven’t seen Kristen Stewart in anything and I know she gets a lot of nastiness from viewers because of Twilight but c’mon, she was kind of nice in this. XD It was interesting to see Snow White retold like this, and it kept a lot of the original stuff. (It even had a touch of Christianity, which really surprised me and I liked. 🙂 …Yes, I do consider a character saying The Lord’s Prayer on-screen, and another character speaking of heaven and angels to be Christian.) It also had Thor Chris Hemsworth (and Finnick Sam Claflin) so that was a plus. 😉 Chris Hemsworth had a Scottish accent, which was WEIRD. O_O He was fun. 😀
  • The Lorax: This one was okay. Not my favorite, but I guess it had its moments, particularly some humor and the cute creatures. 😛 I liked it over-all. 🙂 (I also missed part of the ending because it was a scratched library DVD. PEOPLE, PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH LIBRARY DVDS.)
  • Inside Out: I liked the idea of it, and some of it was brilliant and perfect, regarding memories and stuff. Pixar stuff is always fun and I enjoyed this one. Again, not a fave (I’m seeing a trend here… enjoyed but not favorites… I DON’T EVEN KNOW, GUYS. Apparently I just enjoy movies. *shrug*) but it was a pretty good movie and gave me feels and stuff, so. 🙂 Plus, like I said, mind stuff is fascinating! Anyways, pretty good! 😀

Aaand I’ve been rewatching The Lord of the Rings, because that’s always a good idea. 😉

hook

(pinterest; I’m… just gonna leave this here. Yeah. Sorry but I liked him. XD)

JULY PLANS

  • I have a couple books I need to read, and then I’ll hopefully be back to reading anything I want… which means I want to read a LOT this month. But we’ll see.
  • My calendar has started to fill up so I think I’ll be busy… Good busy, but still busy.
  • We’ll have the rest of the Silmarillion Awards this month, so yay! Voting for a couple weeks, and then the awards will be presented and partying will ensue. It’s gonna be great. 😀 *nods*
  • I also will probably post a couple of reviews around here so watch for those…
  • I would like to write again, please and thank you, but we’ll see.
  • I’m not doing Camp NaNo, but for all of y’all who are, I wish you the best of luck and happy writing!

***

That ’twas my June. How fared ye, travelers of word and page? And, most importantly, HOW IS THE YEAR HALF OVER? *incoherent shrieking noises*

Meet the Stories

Juggling a stack of books is difficult, and one can only imagine that juggling a stack of books that aren’t written yet would either be impossible or very easy. In truth, it’s somewhere in between.

My silly brain is overly active and constantly overwhelmed with far too many ideas to write. But sometimes an idea reaches a certain stage when it becomes a “story” and at some point (if I have a title for it) I usually put it in my list of “official” stories, which means I’m going to try to write it. Someday.

Unfortunately, I’m by no means a fast writer, so many are going to have to wait quite awhile for me to get to them. But maybe by that time I’ll have amassed enough ideas about it that I can write it. So for some of the more vague ideas I’m in no hurry. I also have a sad tendency not to focus on one story at a time, which makes it an even longer time before I finish anything.

So this post is to “meet” a few of the books I’m writing, have written, or plan to write someday. Since there are so many, a very detailed post would be far too long for anyone to read, so I’m going to try to keep it short. Ish.

My stories — written, unwritten, and in progress — fall into the following categories (not counting fanfiction, old endeavors, and co-writing attempts).

Standalone:
7 novels
4 novellas
11 short stories

Series:
The Chronicles of Starrellia (8 novels, 3 novellas, a few short stories)
Kedran’s Wood series (2 novels and 1 in-between novella)
Tales of Evera fairytales (3 short stories)

Which comes out as roughly 40 all together. Am I crazy? Well yes, actually, but that’s beside the point. (Also, don’t worry — I’ve only actually finished 3 novels and 3 short stories, aside from my “unofficial” stuff. Which makes me not so much accomplished as ambitious.)

So without further rambling, let’s meet some stories . . .

Finished novels

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Quest For a Legend
(The Chronicles of Starrellia, book 4)
Fantasy, complete at 98,000 words.
10,000 words into rewrite, which is on hold.
Ethan sets out on a quest to discover the secrets of a strange map, but with the sudden invasion of the kingdom, he is caught up in the action. Alongside an array of friends including a princess, two talking bears, a merry young spy, and a mysterious prince who seems to have questionable intentions, Ethan battles to save the realm from the greedy clutches of an evil king. But can he save the kingdom and still complete his quest for a legend?

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Far-mark’s Dream
Fantasy. Complete at 53,000 words. On hold for a rewrite.
More info here.

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The Owl of Kedran’s Wood
(Kedran’s Wood series, book 1.)
Contemporary Fantasy / Mystery, complete at 105,000 words.
Sinister creatures called Wildlings are lurking in the woods by a small town and the members of the local Chess Club take it upon themselves to do something about it. But that is before the arrival of shape-shifting Wildlings who can look like humans, and the sudden appearance of a shady character in a black leather jacket, calling himself Tare. The Chess Club are caught up in a swirl of dark mystery and must find the answers to the secrets of Tare and the Wildlings—before it is too late.

Finished short stories:

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Clarity in Darkness
(Unsure of genre; complete at 2500 words.)
Music from beyond the buildings, through the darkness . . . calling.

Dragon Eyes
(Fantasy, complete at 4500 words.)
Ronan’s world is acting unusual, and he must discover the cause before anything truly dreadful happens.

Midnight Fear
(Horror? Complete at 1000 words.)
Walking home in the dark . . . and a black panther is on the loose.

Past projects that are on hiatus but I plan to finish/rewrite someday:

Grey Betrayal
Fantasy novel: The Chronicles of Starrellia, book 1. 50,000 words so far.

Twelve Fugitives in the Wild
Fantasy novel. 48,000 words so far.

(Those two are talked about in this post.)

The Emerald Avenger
(Novella. Historical Fiction? 22,000 words so far.)
In the tradition of Zorro and other such non-supernatural superheroes, this is a story of a masked man, set during the 1700s on a fictional Caribbean island under the jurisdiction of England. I started it a very long time ago and it will need some serious rewriting after I finish it.

Hairdo Havoc
(Humorous short story. 600 words so far.)
A whimsical tale that I started writing one day and haven’t gotten very far on due to having no idea what happens next. Sometime if I can figure out what else will happen and regain that whimsical humorous mood, I may try to finish it. It’s a very fun story even as it is at the moment.

Currently in the midst of
(meaning you’ll probably hear mostly about these over the next several months)

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Underground Rainbow
Contemporary Fantasy novel, currently writing for NaNo.

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The Invisible Mask
(Fantasy novel, currently at 10,000 words.) On hold at the moment while I work on other things and figure out the plot (because I’ve no idea what’s going to happen).
A young nobleman searching for the woman he wishes to marry. A princess who wants revenge. A disinherited brother and sister looking for a new way of life. A young lady seeking to regain her rightful land. A man who disappeared five years ago, whose daughter is still searching for him. Secrets, spies, highwaymen, people who are not what they seem, and at the heart of everything, a missing book and a dark and secret tower. The key to it all may lie with a mysterious nobleman whose shady past is hidden in lonely mansions on the windswept moors.

SPcoverSong of a Pirate
(Fantasy Novella, currently at 22,000 words.)
Started for Camp Nanowrimo and I just need to get around to figuring out the ending and writing the rest.
The pirate crew of the Sea Maid is losing the memory of why they appointed their captain, a new sailor is curious about it—and the Captain has plans of his own. An enigmatic woman who knows impossible things, a silent man found by gypsies, and a lonely nobleman with a tangled history, join in the voyage. They are bound for an unreachable island that holds the secrets to their past and their hopes for the future, but all may be lost in the end. For the boy Captain of a pirate ship no longer sings his song.

OUcover2Out of the Unknown
(Fantasy Novel, The Chronicles of Starrellia, book 2.)
Currently at 34,000 words. I’m going to go back and rewrite most of what I have so far, adding some plot points and characters, before continuing the story. Finishing this is going to be my main focus in 2014. I hope.
They will have to face their fears. An exiled king and his brother—haunted by the present. A man who has forgotten his identity—haunted by his lack of a past. A girl on a mission—haunted by dreams of the future. An outlaw four times over—haunted by his past, present, and the possibility of a similar future. All are brought together by a fate that will cause them to undertake a journey together, to try and depart from the land they are trapped in—a land from which no one in remembered history has ever escaped.

KWnovellaCoverSnowfall at Kedran’s Wood
Contemporary Fantasy Novella. Kedran’s Wood series, book 2 (or 1.5, depending on how you look at it). Unstarted, but might start soon. Currently in brainstorming/plotting/snippet-writing mode.
After the otherworldly events of the summer, the Chess Club believes the Wildling affair is behind them. But when some alarming men begin investigating what happened, and Tare returns from his absence one snowy December day, they realize their adventures are far from over. Assailed by nightmares, Tare tries to recover and does some investigation of his own, while the Chess Club must deal with local mysteries, a group of threatening people, and Christmas holidays, amid the snowfall in the shadow of Kedran’s Wood.

***

So those are the stories I’m most likely to mention ’round here.

Sometime in the future I plan to also write:

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5 other novels and a collection of novellas/short stories in the Chronicles of Starrellia
a second novel in the Kedran’s Wood series (following the novella)
a fantasy novel about young river pirates
2 science-fiction novels (one a sci-fi thriller, the other a sci-fi western)
a time-travel/sci-fi/historical fiction novella
a fantasy novella that I can’t figure out how to explain
a post-appocalyptic short story
a sci-fi short story having to do with mind reading
a time-travel story (possibly steampunk)
2 fantasy short stories about birds
a fantasy short story Cinderella retelling
a world-hopping fantasy short story (or two)
3 fairytale-like short stories that are interrelated

Several of those I occasionally work on or write down a snippet or some story idea notes for, and if at some point I get closer to writing those stories, they may get introductions as well.

But at the moment I think this post is quite long enough . . !