Ooooooooooh, well, if that wasn’t the spookiest 250-word flash fiction writing competition that happened today, I’d like to see a URL pointing towards one that was spookier.
As ever, you took the prompt and ran with it, often into a dingy forest-scape, sometimes across the ill-lit plains of the mind. And as always, it was tough to gouge the winners from the fleshy mass of entries, but we did, and we’re delighted with them. So without further ado, here they are.
RUNNER-UP: Finn Cotton
The Work Virus
‘Are you alright?’ asked my manager. He was standing in the doorway of the printing room with a sagging horse mask pulled right down over his face.
‘Mm hmm’ I said in response. The room was small, my back pushed up against the printer as it beeped and whirred, pages spitting out onto the tray beside me. I didn’t feel good. His silhouette was blurring at the edges near the ceiling and fading slightly. Chin forward, lying beside the printer, I managed to speak: ‘I need to go home.’
The printer shuddered, a fan spun somewhere nearby and the manager signalled reluctantly to a colleague beside the door. ‘The virus has taken its toll’, he said. I was the fourth member of staff so far – each one was found gibbering in a corner of a room somewhere, clutching a contract or a wad of papers, sweating into the air-conditioned office. He walked briskly out of the printing room to a window at the far side of the building for a gulp of fresh air.
Colleagues crowded round me with their masks moving in the office breeze, leaning in towards the printer, jostling for a better view. They laughed and pointed, drinking it all in. Every microscopic germ, I knew, was travelling around the room, passing through them all. Perhaps they would all fall sick, I thought. It wouldn’t take long. ‘I hope you all catch this’, I coughed, ‘you bastards’.
WINNER: Stephen Oliver
I found the moleman on the internet. He set the traps when I was out last week, then tonight at dusk he comes back to check them. But this guy whose job it is to kill moles, brings his young daughter along with him. The traps are buried underground, marked with sticks painted white at the top. These little white-tipped sticks are poking out of the ground all over the lawn and the little girl is running around to see if the traps have gone off. And she’s singing. Singing a nursery rhyme to herself as she checks for dead moles. When I go out again three moles in plastic bags hang from the bird feeder. The traps have been dug up and the girl’s running around with one of the white sticks tap tap tap. Just in the right place to set the mechanism off. The steel jaws snap shut and the whole thing leaps a few inches into the air. The moleman collects the traps and they get into their ancient estate car job done. I’m standing looking in the boot where all their paraphernalia is. And in the gloom I see a little girl’s foot in a white ballet pump poking out from under a dirty blanket. Then I see the moleman watching me in the rearview mirror. A jackdaw flaps overhead on the way to its roost and, when I look back down, the moleman is getting out of the car again.
Congratulations to our winners, and 1,000,000 thanks to everyone who entered. Come back next week for another, less terrifying flash writing competition.