Thanks for 1300-and-some hardboiled words of gritty suspense. You made excellent use of the prompt and squeezed in some very nice turns. Dialogue, as always, was congruent with the theme. You managed some lovely little details (my favorite: "A bag of cocaine spilled out enough white powder to lighten the pounding in Henry’s head. Blessed numbness followed."). Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
Thanks for the perfectly jolly take on the semi--jokey prompt. You sketched in the characters deftly and economically and paced the story well. The snappy dialogue made it even more enjoyable. Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
Thanks for rising to the challenge of this spongy prompt. You've given us a nice parable, teaching that the only thing more frightening than evil is the mindlessness that makes it flourish. At first I thought your portrayal of Miss Seemore was a touch sexist, but in the end I realized it's a tribute to her illimitable power. Sadly for the planet, there's a little of Merry Beth in all of us (and a lot in some). Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
I doubt there's anyone who has never felt drawn to the mysteries of ancient Egypt, and I can certainly sympathize with poor old Hobbs. A find like this would make anyone throw caution to the winds. But Hobbs's impatience turns out to cost him dearly as he blunders into the tomb--and presence--of the semimythical pharaoh Hatmetushep. Their acquaintance does not get off to a particularly promising start, but they have all eternity to make friends. Thanks for this delightful little tale.--S.
Thanks for this unusual ghost story. The bored narrator hopes to enliven her tedious existence by summoning the specter of her hellraising Aunt Beryl, but it turns out Satanists inevitably wind down in the grave like the rest of us: no sooner is Aunt B raised than she goes poof. I suppose that's the real horror: even the worst sins can't prolong one's life beyond its natural course. And there you are.--S.
I enjoyed this cautionary tale about mindless consumerism. The eggs sound irresistible, all right, and one can readily see why they were such a hit with the kids, but as with everything else there is a limit, and sometimes unforeseen consequences. Nice grisly details of the mayhem the hatchlings caused! Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
Thank you for favoring us with this highly atmospheric, one might say Gothic, tale. The unsuspecting Kent encounters something unholy in the chapel of this ancient castle. I was right there with him "when the breath of the ages swam up his nostrils." (Nice line!) Suddenly there appears before him the aggressive figure of a medieval knight, ready to separate him from his head. I found it interesting that you situated this ghost in the chapel and not in the tower, where poor Kent might have had reason to look out for something paranormal. The story is well paced and clearly written. Hope to see more of your work at SCREAMS!!!--S.
Thanks for favoring us with this story of the weird woman and her unfortunate daughter. You made excellent use of the prompt, and gave us a nice description of this haunted skillet. Mom appropriately enough speaks of going to hell just before Rebecca sends her there with this rummage-sale prize. Nice!--S.
Thanks for taking up the challenge and favoring us with this chilling little tale! The local South African color makes this story unique. I also like the traditional structure, with two attempts to solve the mystery before the third one succeeds. It's told in very natural and realistic dialogue with no technical problems. Well done!--S.
Thanks for stealing the time away from NaNo prep and everything else to take a stab (pardon the pun) at this one. You hook us from the get-go with this all-too-familiar scene of domestic violence. Then you slip in what is to me the real horror, that this victim's psyche begins to act autonomously to seek its revenge, regardless of what logic and self-preservation might scream about running away to a battered women's shelter. And all in a tidy 416-word package.--S.
Hello, Raven Scryer,
Thanks for this charming tale concerning the terrifying prospect of running afoul of our dear Cryptkeeper. You captured all of us judges in picturesque yet surprisingly accurate detail. As I read, I could hardly breathe for the building excitement. Yet of course I already knew the punchline, having given it to you in the 15th paragraph from the end! Hehehe. This story is just the sort of literary palate cleanser we need as we head into the Halloween home stretch and NaNoWriMo. Best of luck in all your writing and other endeavors.--S.
Hello, Raven Scryer,
Thanks for taking up the challenge with this fun yet chilling fantastical tale. I love the way you linked the protagonist's amusing snicker with his hideous fate in the final line. The use of Egyptian imagery lends this story a unique flavor. the story is well written and the dialogue very realistic. Hope to see more of your work at SCREAMS!!!--S.
The more I read this creepy little tale, the weirder it grows. You do a great job showing how these workaday yet strange pylons reveal a life of their own and an uncanny connection with this unfortunate protagonist. Then, just as he's about to attain safety, their unnatural power manifests. There really is something spooky about electricity, and your story is a timely reminder of what could happen if we let it get into our heads. Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
I love this story! The narrative voice carries us along with quiet confidence, revealing little by little the menace in this ordinary urban scene. The tone is perfect. I'm left wondering who these four creatures are--demons, ghosts, aliens? This is a story I would reread, and that is rare. Always a pleasure to read your work. Good luck with NaNo, BTW.--S.
Thanks for taking up the challenge. There's a lot going on in this story, in which the excusably bad mad Amory defeats the sorcery of the inexcusably bad witch bitch, with the luckless innocent Lily caught in the middle...the typical morality of a horror story. I like how you incorporated the prompt. The message of this story seems to be, leave ill enough alone. Is vistage a word? Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
Congratulations on the win for this tight, chilling little tale. You create an uncanny feeling immediately. There's a nice progression from the earthly details in the first paragraph to this unfortunate soul's terrified realization of where he is by the end. I'm not entirely sure whether this is a case of prolonged sleep paralysis or of a soul's failure to grasp that he has passed on from this life, but either way, it's scary. Hope to see more of your work at SCREAMS!!!--S.
Thanks for giving us this nicely written story of the sad fate of an obsessive-compulsive and her unfortunate spouse. As always, your prose is clear and well-crafted, the characters are believable, and the ending gives us a chill. I wonder if the tension could be amped up a bit here. What would happen if, mid-coitus, Greg admitted he left the door open on purpose? Just an idle thought. Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
It's wonderful how Jayden steps away from a television enactment of ancient mysteries into his own terrifying test of nerves, the visitation from a real ancient magical dagger sent by his enemy, Grantham. The writing is clear, the dialogue is nice and sharp, and the twist at the end lends an extra punch. Hope to see more of your work at SCREAMS!!!--S.
The setting of this story, by itself, is unsettling, and the action, seen from within the mind of the psychotic protagonist, is positively terrifying. The massive swarm of ants is a great monster. We applaud as Georgie finds the mental clarity to think of the cleaning agent, but fear that help won't arrive in time. This being a Bobturn tale, naturally our worst fears come true. Thanks for an excellent read.--S.
Congratulations on the win for this terrifying tale. You've captured the archetypal child's fear of the thing in the closet. Mum Clare tries to be sympathetic, but only realizes the truth when it's too late. I loved this sentence: "Clare frantically tore her eyes away from it, just in time to see her daughter's feet vanishing beneath the bed." Just one tiny nit to pick: no apostrophe in the possessive its. Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
Thanks for accepting the challenge of this ridiculous prompt. Mixing inept spellwork with teenage angst produces a true horror. Who knows what Lisa will come up with to remedy the problem? One hopes she consults a comprehensive grimoire this time, for her poor brother's sake. Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
Thank you for stepping up to the challenge of this ridiculous prompt! You gave it a very creative spin. I like the detective-horror crossover, Hansen's imaginative ratiocinations, and the untimely appearance of the green demon. The poem-within-a-story was brilliant.--S.
I'm sitting here smiling because this entry, despite its brevity, tells a great little story. You took a rather obscure prompt and put flesh on its bones. Horror glimmers at the edges rather than hitting the reader over the head. Too bad there was no competition today...thank you for so faithfully giving your fans something fun to read in the mornings (my time, anyway!)--S.
Thanks for giving us this nicely creepy take on the prompt. I like that spooky things just seem to happen here, without any attempt to explain them. The flickering lights that initially attract the narrator and then disappear set the mysterious tone. Even more mysterious is the hatred that the figure in the picture frame directs toward the narrator. Perhaps the most mysterious thing in the story is the narrator's blind determination to defeat the bolt and get inside the weird house. That doomed heedlessness seems to be the essence of horror fiction. Always a pleasure to read your work.--S.
Congratulations on the win for this chilling little tale. Your choice to make this mysteriously evil foster child a superficially innocent, compliant little girl was inspired and gives the twist at the end real power. And her name only adds to the mystery. As always, your writing style and dialogue make this story a pleasure to read.--S.
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