Brevity is conducive to scariness. it can be difficult to maintain a really good scary mood over an entire novel, but in 500 words or so it’s not a problem. And the bizarreness that often emerges when writing under pressure can lend a unique flavor to it.
Let’s take this story for example. I’m pretty sure Mr. Kraagh did not originally intend this to be quite so disturbing as it became.
Knife by John Monosmith
There once was a man named Kraggh, who had a sword that could cut through anything. However, since it was magical and the rules of magic were loosey defined, he could also adjust the length of this sword, and as such, if he wanted to slowly kill someone he would make the sword much shorter; in fact, it could be short enough that it was no longer a sword but a knife. It was more convenient that way when he desired to conceil it, and this he would indeed have to do for the holy and sacred commission he had received.
He followed the monster named Nuile. It had wronged the minds of innocents, corrupting them with abominable images and twisted thoughts. With its advanced powers of communication, it subjected them to a hermeneutic that devastated their means of seeing reality from a purer perspective.
It could not be allowed to live.
The Nuile slithered and slunk along, prowling and crawling, sneaking and lurking. Its path would not be detered as it head toward a church of innocent people.
“No,” thought Kraggh. “Not them. Anyone but them.” There was a handful of people in this world he could not bear to part with, and his beloved Louise was one of them. She was of a strong mind and sound heart, but he could not let her put her eyes upon the Nuile, lest its horror of twisted perceptions psychicly latch on to her and turn her soul to stone. She had already been raped by the spiritual blasphemy of her pastor. No, not she, nor anyone else there, could witness the Nuile and see its demented image. They of all people were already too endangered to suffer the burden of yet another satanic pull in their lives.
“Over here, you abomination!” said Kraggh. The Nuile turned its head and vomited out a mouthful of hungry tentacles, grasping and groping. Kraggh flinched, not at the physical gruesomeness but at the spiritual language it spoke. It spoke a Word. Not The Word, but a Word beyond the common word of Man, and it was a blasphemy. It reverberated through the air with all the senility of Hell.
It pounced after him, flicking as his hand with one of its many tongues, and cast the knife from his hand. He would have had the sword at its full length, and it would have smitten the Nuile right in its place had be extended it so, but for its crime, for its unforgivable intent, the Nuile deserved a slow death.
The Nuile fell atop Kraggh, pinning him the the gravel road. It was too heavy to lift up. The preening tentacles thrashed and then wrapped their way around Kraggh’s head. Kraggh held his hands against the Nuile’s jagged jaw, which threatened to clamp tighter than a crocodile’s and pierce him through with saber’d teeth, he refused to allow it to carry through with this final act. Kraggh could think of a thousand honorable ways to die, but this death was beneath him. He was above this Nuile, its superior by leaps and bounds. It did not have the authority in its innermost being to champion over him like this.
The tentacles pulled at Kraggh’s face, attempting to twist it off his shoulders and snap his neck. He grimaced, as he smelled the Word of the Nuile in the air, seeping out of the Nuile’s oral devices.
Just then, he remembered the pen in his pocket. It wasn’t his special weapon, and it wouldn’t slay the Nuile, but he knew how to use it as effectively as an average knife. Unable to lift himself up, and unable to take his hands off of the violent predator’s grizzly canines without them clamping down on him, he rolled to the side, throwing the Nuile off balance. With one quick movement, he grasped his pen-knife and thrust it into the Nuile’s jugular. It let out a loud screech.
All monstrosities has their weaknesses. For werewolves it was silver. For vampires, it was the cross. For the Nuile, it was the Word of God represented through the pen, which was more effective than any knife. The ink, like poison, spread through the Nuile’s body. It began convulsing.
Kraggh got on top of the Nuile, grasping its jaws once again. In desperation, its tentacle-tongues lashed out at him again, and it tried snapping its jaws shut upon the gallant and noble man who held them at bay. “You deserve to suffer,” croaked Kraggh. “If you do not fear God, then fear me, for I am great and terrible.”
And with a cry of finality, he snapped the Nuile’s neck. A shock wave burst through the air and the insurmountable beast was surmounted, and it was done.
Knife by Caleb Peiffer:
Flowers. I love all sorts of flowers, so colorful, so beautiful; I love every flower in my garden, but especially the roses. The red, red roses. I love them more than any other, more than anything else.
I love those roses. I love everything about those roses: their smell, their beauty. I love their color.
I love the fire in their soul.
But most of all I love their soil. If there is anything more beautiful than my roses, it is buried beneath them.
It was years ago. I was working in my garden, in another corner, tending my rhododendrons. I had gardened into the evening and it was night by the time I finished, and stood up to look at the one empty side of my garden, and wonder what to put there. I had several flowers lined up, but I wasn’t sure which I liked best.
As I shuffled over to take a closer look at each one, I stumbled over a plate—I had eaten my dinner outside hours ago. It shattered under my boot, grinding shards of ceramic and sharp silverware into the grass, the dirt, and my rubber soles.
Then I heard shouting next door. I couldn’t help but look up, look out across the fence, and watch them storm into the backyard. He looked about ready to strike her, but I knew he never could. She, on the other hand, slapped him outright.
I don’t want you to think I’m a nosy parker, but I stood there, watching, a little frozen I suppose. It was so long ago I don’t remember what they were arguing about, but it doesn’t really matter.
She screamed at him; he stood there, taking it bravely, unmoving, unflinching. My ground the ceramic beneath my foot, pressing the sharp silverware into the grass, the dirt, and my rubber soles.
Finally he threw up his hands and retreated indoors with a loud, very audible sigh. She remained in the yard a few minutes, seething. I went to the gate and called to her. She smiled, putting on a pretty face, pretending nothing had happened, pretending I hadn’t been there the whole time and hadn’t seen everything, as she well knew I had.
“Good evening,” she greeted, stepping to the fence. She opened her mouth, trying to think of something more to say, but she didn’t yet have the possession of mind.
I smile sweetly, said, “He’s too good for you,” pulled the dinner knife out from the dress pocket I had put it in. I raised it and stabbed her in the heart. She screamed, but nobody would pay attention; everybody screamed in this neighborhood. I moved through the gate and stabbed her again and again and again, until I was sure she was dead.
I dragged her body back into my yard and started digging. I noticed that one of the roses was a little redder; there was a large splotch, a vivid, vivid scarlet on its petals.
Suddenly I knew what flower to plant. I smiled to myself.
I love those roses, I have loved them ever since I planted them; and my new husband, when he moved in, loved them nearly as much. I think he would love them more if he knew what was buried beneath them, but I wasn’t sure.
Those red, red roses. I love them more than any other flower, more than anything else.
My second favorite flower is the azalea—you should know what I buried beneath them.
The following is a little different, and not necessarily suitable for all ages. But it was frightening to me for its flavor of realism.
Party by E. R. Alwardby:
Lights blazing, music blaring and drinks flowing, the party spilled out from the large living room to the rest of the house and from the house to the yard. John walked silently along the back wall, regretting every concession he’d made to the girl that had invited him. Contacts in place of glasses, no enveloping jacket around his shoulders, no comforting weight of a pencil on his ear, no gentle beat of keys hitting his chest as they dangled from a chain lanyard and, perhaps worst of all, no earplugs to guard his acute hearing against the deadening beat. She’d given up on him almost immediately anyway, once she’d realized he couldn’t dance to save his life, so why had she had to bother with toning down his inner nerd?
Oh well, John thought. It could be worse, though how I’m not sure.
Slithering between two couples taking up the French doors that led to the back yard, John kept his eyes down. It was hard to look one way or another without seeing a pairing in some compromising position. The pool was half filled with people playing a mass game of volleyball, half of those having discarded their clothes for a more comfortable way to swim. John crept his way to the pool house and left his phone hidden in a place where the mortar between the bricks had crumbled away. Dodging the group of girls consoling a friend who had found out that Bill was cheating on her with Stacy, who had supposed to be dating Will who was a crush of Linda’s, John swiftly, silently, and unnoticeably threw himself into the pool, diving to the bottom of the deep end to blink out his contacts and gaze up at the thriving mass of cool kids above him. It would be an hour before he would be discovered periodically popping up around the edge, only to submerge again to glide along bottom and the sides. The girl who found him would scream as she stepped on his back, and the party would stop for a moment. Someone would laugh, and John would again melt into the wall and drip-dry his clothes before making his way blurrily to the exit.
No list of frightening flash fiction would be complete without something from Micah.
Winter has never been a good time for me. Last time I was out here in the winter I was shot in the head by a sniper over two miles away, then caught a disease that rendered me terminal in three days. The previous winter I was robbed by bandits who took nearly everything from my bunker but the shelves and I froze to death. The winter before that I just got lost and died in a blizzard. Yes, I’ve died nearly eight times out here but the other stories are far less interesting.
This season doesn’t look to be any better. Both my cabin and the bunker below it are buried by nearly fourteen feet of snow and a heavy fog has settled around the forest like socks settle around my room. I finally found the stovepipe jutting out from a snowbank, so I dropped an inflated grenade down to stretch the pipe and blow the grate out. That was a bad idea from the start. A loud thud followed by the complete collapse of the cabin said I blew out the walls as well.
So anyways, I set up camp in the crater. Bloody fantastic. If I dig deep enough I can even find the supplies I left here over the summer. Stale granola bars, a couple cans of applesauce. Why do I never pack food of my own?
Right, the crater. I dug myself a shelter into one side of it and reinforced it with splintered timbers. It collapsed on me in my sleep and I suffocated. Then I got out and was eaten by a pack of wolves, followed shortly by falling off a cliff and being impaled by assorted debris.
You know, other guys like to brag about how fun it is being immortal. I just don’t get it.