October 31

Fictober, Prompt 31 – “Scared, me?”

Warnings: monsters, implied hunting. Some Halloween spookiness to finish things off.

Acknowledgment: This whole piece was inspired by a creepy Halloween night description that LiveJournal user eryne-chan wrote many years ago in an LJ RPG. I really liked the description and saved it, and wanted to do something in tribute (though this story is entirely unrelated to the original RPG post). The last half of the last line is borrowed directly from her description, because I could not get it to sound quite right with any other wording. The rest is merely “inspired by.” Happy Halloween!


I always patrol the streets on Halloween. I start early, before the sun is fully down, as the little children and their parents make their trick-or-treating rounds. I’m well known by now, and many of the children wave excitedly when they see me, exclaiming over whichever guise I have picked to wear this year. Their parents nod to me in thanks for the extra pair of watchful eyes.

There are some monsters that would snatch children away.

I nod back, but do not speak to them.

Dark comes early here, at this point in the dying year. Soon enough the streetlights are flickering on, pools of warmer golden light, a safer companion to the cold light of the moon, rising above.

Some of the streetlights continue to flicker, never quite coming on.

The parents with children avoid those streets. The older children, the ones allowed to walk together without adult supervision, make an appearance in greater numbers now.

They do go down the streets with flickering lights, encouraging each other toward the lighted doorways and spookily welcoming decorations.

“Scared, me?” they ask each other brashly, and do not listen to the instincts that tell them to stay away from darker paths.

I do not stop them. That is not my purpose, and in any case, it is mostly safe.

The moon is thin this year, its light weak.

Darkness steals into the spaces between houses, thickening between the pools of lamplight, creeping up to fill the treetops. With true darkness, the children are not the only ones on the streets anymore. More figures, costumed and masked as is appropriate, join the children, following in their footsteps, accepting candy at doorsteps but never taking their eyes from those they follow.

I follow them, and they are forced to nod in acknowledgement. They follow the children, as is their nature, but they do nothing else.

Adults begin to return to the streets, costumed themselves now, heading for restaurants and parties and bars. Other figures join them and are complimented for their costumes. They smile realistic sharp smiles, and nod in thanks, and wait.

They too are forced to nod in acknowledgment as I pass by. They follow the adults, as is their nature, but they do nothing else.

For now.

If the adults notice anything amiss, they brush it off as a product of the atmosphere.

“Scared, me?” they ask each other jokingly, and do not ask why the atmosphere feels the way it does.

Hours pass, and still I patrol the streets. Parties wind down, and people make their way home. Those that know, or sense, that they are not alone hurry. Many hurry. Some move more slowly, unaware, or too inebriated, to realize they should be watching the time.

The seconds tick by. I can hear them in head, though the large clock on the main street counts only minutes and hours, silently.

Almost.

I hold my breath, and many others hold theirs (or not) with me.

The clock strikes midnight.

There is no chime, as there might have been in older times, but all know that it has come. Even the drunkest people feel a sudden chill, and the darkness deepens as the moon slips behind the trees, acknowledging that the time of its pale light is done.

There is a moment of stillness.

I smile.

Masks begin to slip, and other smiles grow sharper.

Those humans who have not made it safely home must now make their way through streets that are less friendly. Some will not make it unscathed. Some will not make it at all.

The darkest hours of All Hallows Eve are our time…and dawn is a long way away.

October 29

Fictober, Prompt 29 – “I’m doing this for you.”

Warnings: monster, creepiness, not much else. Horror, of sorts.


I reeled in another clump of lake weed, and pulled in a deep breath, cultivating patience. Fishing was not my favorite pastime, a feeling exaggerated by the fact that it wasn’t going well today.

“How much longer must we sit here?” the monster asked from the other side of the boat.

Frustration surged up despite my best efforts, and I spun around to face it, scowling.

“I’m doing this for you,” I pointed out, “because you desperately wanted panfish for some unexplainable reason, and even more inexplicably you wanted me to do the fishing. You are well aware that I’m bad at this.”

“The contract—” it began, scowling back.

“The contract,” I interrupted sharply, “states that we will provide you sustenance in the form of livestock, once every two weeks. Anything additional to or apart from that is on a voluntary basis only, and I’m fast running out of a desire to continue volunteering. If you still want panfish caught by me, then shut up. If you don’t, then tell me so we can both go do other things.”

Not that I knew what the monster did with its time when it wasn’t bothering someone in town, but at least it might stop bothering me.

It bared sharp teeth (the one thing about its form that it couldn’t hide or change) at me.

I bared my blunt, human teeth right back at it, snarling. “Well?”

The teeth vanished behind something that was dangerously close to a pout, and it turned away, apparently unwilling to call it quits.

If part of me was less disappointed about that than it should have been, I saw no need to acknowledge it.

Rebaiting my hook, I cast my line back out into the lake, and waited.

And waited.

The monster continued to…sulk? Its semi-furred back was to me. It had chosen a weird shape today, vaguely humanoid but with fur and other, almost cat-like features, though no cat had ever looked like that. It almost reminded me of that one musical with the weird cat costumes, now that I thought about it. Did the monster know about that? Had someone given it access to the internet? That was a truly terrifying notion.

“Why did you want me to catch your fish?” I asked to break the silence and my own increasingly weird train of thought.

Its head turned slightly until one gleaming eye was peering at me over its shoulder. “Because you smell the best.”

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October 28

Fictober, Prompt 28 – “Enough! I heard enough.”

Warnings: bad language, implied past harassing behavior, implied violent death, monster, slightly ambiguous ending? Horror.


“You stupid bitch! You can’t tell me where to walk on a public—”

“I can when you’ve repeatedly been asked to stop harassing my friend and persist in doing it anyway.”

This is harassment, you can’t just—”

I raised one extremely unimpressed eyebrow at him. “You’re the one spending your Friday nights walking around in a serial killer mask, getting your kicks by scaring random strangers. If one of us is in danger of harassing somebody, it’s not me.”

This launched him into another diatribe, with more insults liberally peppered throughout. I was tempted to cast my own aspersions on his character (well, more than I already had), parentage, and intellectual abilities, but restrained myself with effort.

A quick glance showed me that Sasha had snuck by while I was physically blocking him from following her, and she was now out of sight.

“Enough!” I cut him off. “I’ve heard enough. I can’t stop you from walking up and down a public street.  I get that it’s almost Halloween, and you’re not the only one in costume. Plenty of the bar goers even seem to appreciate the scare. But I can and will prevent you from scaring my friend, who has to walk by here for her job every night. She has repeatedly asked that you leave her, specifically, alone, and you have refused, which definitely moves you out of ‘sort of acceptable Halloween creepy’ and solidly into ‘actually creepy asshole.’ So, I will be here every night to walk with her and prevent you from being that creepy asshole as far as she is concerned. Capiche?”

He swore at me again, voice low enough to be muffled by the mask, and turned away.

I wished desperately that I could give him the ass-kicking he richly deserved. Halloween was big in our town, had been for almost a century, and he’d become an (unfortunate) fixture in the past couple years. If he kept his scares to the drunk bar patrons who were looking for that sort of thing, or for ‘fun’ selfies with a famous fictional serial killer, that would be fine.

But that wasn’t enough for our masked friend. I didn’t think he was a real danger to anyone, fake knife notwithstanding, but he was definitely the kind of asshole who enjoyed actually scaring people unwillingly, and that wasn’t cool.

He headed back into the dark alley that he enjoyed lurking in, with one more obvious glance and a raised middle finger at me.

Man, he really deserved that ass-kicking, but I kept my feet firmly planted on the sidewalk outside the alley. He’d not raised a hand or made any attempt to grab or harm me, even now when he’d been really angry, and I wasn’t going to be the one to escalate things.

Something else moved farther back in the alley.

Something big.

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October 27

Fictober, Prompt 27 – “Can you wait for me?”

Warnings: monster, implied violent death, brief mention of blood. North woods horror.


I sighed as Matt threw his plate into the trash bag and started for the lake shore.

“Can you wait for me? We can go together if you just give me a minute to pack everything away,” I called after him.

“It’ll be dark soon, though!” he protested, turning to face me but still walking backwards towards the kayaks. “I want to watch the fish some more.”

“All right,” I told him, sighing again. “Just don’t go too far until I get there, okay?”

“Okay!” he agreed, off again immediately.

As I turned back to dinner clean-up, I realized that his life jacket was still sitting next to mine on the spare picnic table.

“Matt!” I called, “come get your li—”

He wasn’t there. The kayaks sat where they had been since we’d come back earlier in the afternoon, untouched.

“Matt?” I called again, uneasy. “Come back and grab your life jacket before you go.”

No answer.

Unease growing, I put down the pot and started after him. He’d probably just gone into the woods to chase after some interesting plant he’d caught sight of, but usually he yelled for me when he found something exciting.

As I crossed the campsite, peering into the woods on either side, there was no sign of him. There had been no sound either, of someone moving through the leaves and underbrush. I increased my pace, hurrying all the way down to the lake shore, but he wasn’t there either. The kayaks were untouched, the paddles next to them.

Really worried now, I turned back. “MA—!”

He was standing behind me, watching me.

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October 26

Fictober, Prompt 26 – “You keep me warm.”

Warnings: creepiness, monsters, ambiguous ending. Horror.

(Credit for this idea goes to my friend KB, who has three lovely kitties.)


I wiggled carefully to avoid disturbing the cats as I adjusted my blanket and reached for my glass, book braced open with one hand. After a drink, I set it carefully down and chanced giving them each some head rubs, first Cinnamon’s tortoiseshell head, then Sky’s black one.

“Such good kitties,” I cooed at them, grinning as they both accepted the petting agreeably, shifting closer against my legs. “You keep me warm, you like getting scritches, and of course you are both a-do-ra-ble.”

Cinnamon and Sky had been restless today, and not in the way of their usual high-energy play. I frowned slightly remembering it. They had been alert for hours, almost seeming like they were on patrol, walking the perimeters of rooms, stopping regularly at windows and doors, watching. Staring at the ceiling, staring at corners. It got to the point where I had checked things over a couple of hours ago myself, almost convinced that something was wrong. If there was, I hadn’t found it. I had even checked the garage and outside the house too, but everything seemed normal to me.

But they had both settled down a little while ago, finally coming to sit with me as I read on the couch. The house wasn’t particularly old, but there had been a few mice, especially with the weather starting to turn colder outside. Maybe there had just been a mouse or two in the walls, and they’d been trying to track it down.

Returning to my book, I read for awhile, utterly content.

Sky’s head came up first, ears alert. Cinnamon followed. They both looked around, as if searching for something they had heard.

I held still and listened. The clock ticking in the kitchen, faint sounds of wind and passing traffic from outside. Distant hum of the furnace downstairs.

Nothing out of place.

Except that something was, because both cats had risen and jumped down from the couch. They paused there, crouching on the floor, staring across the room at an empty corner.

There was no play in their movements, only hunting intent.

The corner was empty.

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October 24

Fictober, Prompt 24 – “Patience…is not something I’m known for.”

Warnings: implied monster, implied violent death, ambiguous ending. Horror in a midwest-gothic-adjacent sort of way.


A corn field. Of course part of this stupid Fallfest scavenger hunt would take us into a corn field.

As if my night wasn’t complicated enough already.

My assigned partner for the evening, who had introduced himself as Jake, had been eager to win the hunt. We had flown through the first few items, barely taking any time to get to know each other even though this was supposed to be a dating game. ‘See how compatible you are by looking for clues and solving puzzles together!’ the brochure had said.

Neither of us was actually here for a potential date, though. He assumed that I didn’t know that about him, and I was desperately hoping that he didn’t know that about me.

If he did, then this corn field was going to be even more dangerous.

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October 18

Fictober, Prompt 18 – “Secrets? I love secrets.”

Warnings: creepiness? Implied monster? This one is weird.


“Can you keep a secret?”

“Secrets? I love secrets.”

That was…not an answer to my question. “Why?” I asked.

“Why what?” This was followed by a childish giggle that was very out of character for the woman I had been speaking with for the last several days.

“Why do you love secrets?”

“They’re so interesting!” She spun around, arms flung out in a parody of childhood delight. “Full of whispers and corners and shadows.”

Another not-answer. A chill crept through me as I realized that she was not what I had thought, not at all.

What she actually was, I didn’t know, and was beginning to think that I didn’t want to. Not something I could confide in, certainly.

She was watching me sidelong with a too-wide grin, hands clasped decorously behind her back.

Had she always been this other thing? Or was this a recent change?

“Tell me your secret,” she sing-songed, bouncing on her toes.

“What will you do with it?” I asked, voice low, wondering if I should risk backing away. We weren’t in a deserted area of the mall, exactly, but there wasn’t anyone else around right now.

“Keep it,” she said, “keep it forever. But there’s a price!”

I swallowed, knowing my eyes were too wide but unable to fix it, unable to blink. “What price?”

She grinned that too-wide grin at me and clapped her hands together in delight.

“You!”


(To be honest, I have no idea what is happening here, but I ran with it.)

October 16

Fictober, Prompt 16 – “Listen. No, really listen.”, Original Fiction

Warnings: horror, implied monster, ambiguous ending. Midwest/north woods gothic.


I stuttered to a halt in the middle of the trail, looking warily to my left where the high, trilling call had sounded.

Of course, there were loons out on the lake at this time of year, making their way south for the winter. I just hadn’t realized how much more eerie the sound would be when I was out in the woods after sunset, and not safe inside the coziness of our cabin. We couldn’t see the lake from here, the trees were too thick, but it was nearby.

“Just a loon,” Lukas called back to me, still walking up ahead.

“I know,” I said, unable to shake the feeling of uneasiness as I continued, trotting a little to catch up to him. He had spent more time up here than I had, but even I knew what the loons sounded like by now.

We passed on through the increasing darkness. Lukas thought there might be some good owl-watching tonight, if we could find the right spot in the woods. That had sounded a lot more fun back in the cabin, where it had been warm near the fire.

Now, out here, with night falling around us and the temperatures slowly dropping, I was less sure about it. I shivered, and shivered more when the loon called again, long and wailing.

Another voice answered it this time, almost that same, wailing cry.

Almost.

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October 12

Fictober, Prompt 12 – “What if I can’t see it?”

Warnings: implied violent death, implied eldritch horrors. Horror-flavored fantasy.


“Of course, the containment is in place!” The Head Sorcerer was clearly offended by my question, drawing himself up to his full, thin height and looking down his nose at me. “What did you say your credentials were?”

Keeping my face neutral, I held out the badge I had already shown to five different people to make it as far as the Head Sorcerer’s office. “I am an independent containment inspector, sent by Magistrate Susumu. I am making rounds of all the known Holding Places, doing a standard inspection, and I need to see the seals and locks myself.” I handed over the letter of command from the Magistrate before he could ask for it.

“Well, I’m sure this is all quite unnecessary, but seeing as Magistrate Susumu has commanded it, then we must comply.” He gave a put-upon sigh, tossing the letter back to me. I caught it deftly just before it slid off the edge of his desk and tucked it away in my robes. The Head Sorcerer grabbed a large ring of keys carelessly from a drawer, and stood, coming around the desk and sweeping out of the room without waiting for me.

I followed silently, noting the problems that would have to be entered into my report: unsecured keys, a dangerously arrogant attitude regarding the containment, and a failure to perform any basic magical verification as to the veracity of my person, my badge, or my letter of command.

I followed the Head Sorcerer down through the great stone building, and then further down still into the catacombs below.

Poor lighting, I noted, continuing my earlier list, unsafe levels of moisture on the staircase.

Perhaps that last was a little bit petty. Despite being only halfway through my tour of inspections, my tolerance level for authorities overly impressed with their own importance had rarely been lower. And a slippery staircase was never a good idea anywhere, much less one leading to a containment area, where one might conceivably need to move fast.

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October 11

Fictober, Prompt 11 – “It’s not always like this.”

Warnings: horror, blood, blood-drinking, implied violent death(s)


The light beneath the trees darkened, and I wandered on carefully. I knew I was heading in generally the right direction, and eventually I’d be close enough to find the path, or to hear my car beep if I unlocked it.

I’d lingered too long, deep in the woods near an old scouting camp where my grandfather had come frequently to hunt. It was lonely out here, but peaceful, and I’d accidentally fallen asleep when I sat down to rest earlier under the autumn trees. It was night now, but a large, orange harvest moon was rising over the hill to the east, and with so many leaves already down it provided enough light for me to walk without stumbling.

I crested a small rise, and dropped down into the small hollow beneath, a clear area in the trees, filled with boulders left over from the last Ice Age; common in the foothills here in western Pennsylvania.

The deer standing in the clearing were common too.

What was not common was the fact that they did not bolt when I appeared so suddenly nearby, and most of them did not even glance at me. One, the farthest away, was backed up against the largest rock outcropping, eyes wide and rolling with terror, though it seemed frozen in place. The other deer stood around it in a loose semi-circle, silent and still in a way that made me uneasy.

This was very strange.

Keeping quiet myself, I started to back up…only to realize that there was now a short drop, slippery with leaves, and a rock at my back. No easy way out that direction.

The slope continued down from here, though, and that was the direction that I needed to go. If I could just edge around the deer carefully, I could leave them to whatever it was they were doing and get back to my car.

I froze only half a dozen steps later when one of the circling deer finally turned its head and looked at me.

It had fangs.

Cold fear uncurled in my stomach. There was some weird, small kind of deer that had long teeth, somewhere in Asia…but these were the usual white-tailed deer that were native to this area. They should not have teeth, or tusks, or whatever these were.

The rest of the watching deer turned to look at me.

They all had fangs too.

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