#Spooktober2020 Day 18: Summon

When I appeared in your bedroom, you squinted up at me from where you crouched in front of a summoning circle.

“Woah,” you said. “I just had questions. I didn’t need a whole ghoul!”

I raised an eyebrow at the wax candles dripping on the carpet. “You better tell me what you want.”

Your face flushed bright red. “I… need dating advice.”

“From a ghoul?” I rolled my eyes. “What, you wanna date a ghost?”

Now you smirked. “A demon, actually.”

I came out of the other side of the eyeroll curious. “In that case, lemme give you some pointers…”


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#Spooktober2020 Day 17: Fog

My early morning commute plunged me into thick fog along a stretch of highway known for twists and turns. Traffic around me didn’t slow. When I tapped my brakes, cars began flowing past, honking. I sped back up.

Bent over the steering wheel to see, I scanned the gray for my exit ramp. Ahead, several brake lights lit up red all at once. Clustered together like a multi-eyed monster, all eyes on me.

I yanked my steering wheel left, barely squeezing by a five-car pile-up. The ramp appeared just on the other side.

They were too close together. I mist.


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#Spooktober2020 Day 16: Demonic

I heard their cries about me from the town square as I threw my belongings together in a sack.

“She laughs too loud.”

“Reads so much.”

“She’s way too smart.”

“Must be demonic possession.”

Soon it would be the torches and the pitchforks. Once they worked themselves into a frenzy, there’d be no stopping them. A bag of rocks tied to my feet in the river to see if I floated. Or just a good old burning.

The way they did my mom.

I slipped out the back window and vanished into the woods. Better luck in the next town.


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#Spooktober2020 Day 15: Ashes

I laid down among the ashes of my house while they still smoldered. Flakes of gray coated my scorched fingers where I had grabbed the too-hot doorknob while flames licked the walls around me.

Everything gone. Burned straight to the ground.

When they contained the fire, someone in the crowd said, “It’s over.” But they were wrong.

I watched the winter sky above as my back warmed. Burned.

Before the cinders could set me on fire too, I got up. Dusted myself off. The horror wasn’t the fire itself, but the after. Finding a way to rebuild from these ashes.


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The Hopeful Wanderer – Tree Huggers

From my angle, arms wrapped around several tree trunks as if holding on for dear life. Just arms, it seemed. Their bodies

hidden

or

gone.

I stood in the middle of a forest wrapped in arms, hyperventilating. Because I could feel a pull, a tug, a call to join. And when I walked around to the other side of the first tree, I found a person… hugging it.

Only. Tree bark overlapped the man’s outline. He had his face pressed so deep into the tree that the bark had conformed to him. Or he to the bark. His hands held on tight, with a white-knuckled desperation.

The other hugged trees had more people pressed against them. As if they had all wandered in from the same direction and just pushed themselves into the side of a tree. Every one of them breathed, but I could not guess at how.

Tugging the shoulder of one woman, I managed to pry her grip from her tree. She pulled away with a sucking pop, her whole front peeling out of an impression the shape of her body.

When she turned to me, she had no face. Just the pattern of wood grain dug into her skin. I stumbled back, but she made no moves to attack or leave. Just stood there. Lost.

I had pulled several others from their trees before I noticed the first few had quietly pressed themselves back into place in their indentations. I watched, helpless, as the rest followed suit, one by one.

I could not save them.

All this time I had avoided looking at one particular tree. This one empty of a hugger. I longed to wrap my arms around its trunk and remain here forever. So instead of rescuing everyone, I saved myself and walked away.


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#Spooktober2020 Day 14: Grave

“You know why they always have a fence around the graveyard?” my grandpa asked me.

A brittle October afternoon flashed past outside the truck windows.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because people are just dying to get in!”

Neither of us laughed. As we passed the cemetery, we surveyed all the corpses pressed against the wrought-iron fence, collapsed there after getting this far under their own steam. A few that had managed to get inside industriously dug their own graves, anywhere they could find the space.

There was no sign of the cemetery attendants.

Soberly, Grandpa said, “Guess that fence wasn’t enough.”


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#Spooktober2020 Day 13: Portrait

You looked so confused when you possessed your portrait. A portrait you never commissioned yourself.

I had spent most of my life painting your likeness. Getting closer and closer to a perfect reproduction. When at last my painting looked just like your face, your soul had no choice but to return to me.

At the sight of my face peering too close at your picture, you frowned. When you recognized me, the one who tormented you in life, now in death, you shrank back within the ornate frame.

But you could not escape.

When I grinned, though soundless, you screamed.


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#Spooktober2020 Day 12: Hysteria

At the door leading to the basement, my fingers locked around the door frame, keeping him from dragging me down into the dark.

“Stop it!” I yelled at him. “I didn’t do anything!”

“You’re dangerous.” A hysterical laugh bubbled up in his voice. “I should have seen it before!”

He had me by my legs, using all his weight to haul me down. Working my foot free, I kicked him hard in the face. He let go and tumbled down the stairs.

“You’re the one that needs locking up!” I yelled.

I slammed the door shut and turned the lock.


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#Spooktober2020 Day 11: Wraith

I had felt the touch of the wraith for some time when I went to visit a psychic.

“When do I die?” I asked her.

The woman – I had forgotten her name already – gave me a funny look.

“Just, y’know, do your little crystal ball thing and tell me.” I waved my fingers around for effect. “Hurry up!”

Pursing her lips, the psychic said. “I don’t need a crystal ball to know your fate.”

“You don’t?”

She pointed at a stack of newspapers next to the door, bound up for recycling. “I just read your obituary. You died last week.”


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#Spooktober2020 Day 10: Resurrectionist

I snatched your body from the jaws of death when I exhumed you from the dirt. Your soul, though, I’m not so sure of.

You returned to consciousness screaming. “Let me go baaaaaack!”

Maybe I shouldn’t have resurrected you in the graveyard. “Shhh!”

Scrabbling across your own grave dirt, you crawled toward your open coffin, still half sunk into your grave.

I got there first and slapped the coffin lid shut. “Nope! You’ve still got that big report to finish before Monday. Come on!”

I hauled you crying back to the waiting carpool. The company already had your soul anyway.


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