Halloween is upon us.  Personally, I have little love for the occasion, but it does give us an excuse to do scary stories.  Eddie Murphy made an joke about the heroes of horror stories lacking in common sense.  One has to wonder why a person might pursue an obviously dangerous situation.  Use this week's prompt to explore motivation, plot holes or whatever your muse desires.

Program Notes

Motivation Monday will be on hiatus until the first week of December.  At least the contest will.  I'll be on a cruise next Monday, but for the rest of November, stop by each week for an article or discussion to motivate you in completing your novel.  As most of you know, next month is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short.  In fact, quite a few of our regulars are local facilitators for the event.  Hopefully, a few of them will provide a guest blog during November.  The idea is to write fifty thousand words in 30 days.  It sounds challenging but it can be done.
If you aren't interested in writing a novel or you want another challenge, please remember the Song Stories anthology is still looking for submissions.  Some of my best submissions have come from Motivation Monday regulars!  Now back to your regularly scheduled contest

The Judge

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Returning this week is judge Alissa Leonard.  She's a few scenes away from finishing the first draft of her first novel, a young adult fantasy.  (I know I'm eager to see the finished product.)
She''ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year for the second time.  She's going with an off-genre she calls literary romance.  (Hmm, that's got me thinking Jane Austen.)
She's won a number of badges and honorable mentions not just from Motivation Monday but from around the flash fiction circuit.  In her words, "I'm just having fun writing when I can and making progress."  (How's that for motivation?

The Prompt

Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly

The Rules

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  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the
    first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the
    prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an
    unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted
    by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be
    invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the
    one shown here.
  6. If your story would be rated R or NC-17 in a movie, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  7. Have fun!

 


Comments

10/22/2012 02:48

Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly. But, I’m not ordinary. And when that voice screamed, my autistic mind wasn’t scared. Instead, I was curious, wondering how the voice had been made, where it came from. So, I didn’t run out of the haunted mansion at 0200 hours on Halloween. I stayed put, and figured out what was going on.

I examined all the furniture. Table, chairs, footstool, lamps, bookcases, everything in the room. That voice came from somewhere. All I had to do was find where. As I looked for the source of the voice, other events occurred. Like the sound of chains being drug through a stone hallway. “Nice detail. Well thought out. You get credit for putting a lot of effort into this one.”

Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to make the place seem haunted.

When I’d finished examining all the furnishings in the room, I checked the walls, ceiling and floor. Including the baseboards and any vents. Had to do the “thump” test. Go along each surface and thump it, to see if the sound changes. That’s how I found the speakers hidden in the walls. Someone had inserted them into the walls, and then covered them up, so no one would know they were there. Took me a couple of hours to find them. I even tore a hole in one wall to prove they were there.

I was loving every minute of the game. Waiting for something else. Like the lights to come on and off, or maybe shake. A cabinet door to open and close. A bump to show up under the carpet, and move around. And sure enough. Footprints showed up on the carpet. “Oh, you picked a tough one to do.” I pulled up a piece of the carpet, and saw the magnetic plate under it, resting on the floor. The carpet had been laced with iron filings. Turn on the plates, pull the iron down, and presto. Footprints.

Someone really had put a lot of effort into this.

I really enjoyed watching the knives floating through the air, coming right at me. Holographic.
They’d have scared the hell out of most people. I mean, a house with a screamer and no source. Chain dragging. Screams. Footprints made by nothing. Knives floating through the air. Windows opening and slamming shut. Curtains fluttering, as if something had come in through them.

Someone really did want the place to appear haunted. But that wasn’t my concern. I was just there to prove it wasn’t. Let someone else figure out who’d set everything up, and why. That investigative stuff wasn’t my cup of tea. All I had to do was take pictures, and deliver them. And I absolutely loved exploring haunted houses. Never ceased to amaze me how much effort people put into making things appear to be haunted. Such creative minds.

499 Words
@LurchMunster

Reply
10/22/2012 02:50

Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly. But, I’m not ordinary. And when that voice screamed, my autistic mind wasn’t scared. Instead, I was curious, wondering how the voice had been made, where it came from. So, I didn’t run out of the haunted mansion at 0200 hours on Halloween. I stayed put, and figured out what was going on.

I examined all the furniture. Table, chairs, footstool, lamps, bookcases, everything in the room. That voice came from somewhere. All I had to do was find where. As I looked for the source of the voice, other events occurred. Like the sound of chains being drug through a stone hallway. “Nice detail. Well thought out. You get credit for putting a lot of effort into this one.”

Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to make the place seem haunted.

When I’d finished examining all the furnishings in the room, I checked the walls, ceiling and floor. Including the baseboards and any vents. Had to do the “thump” test. Go along each surface and thump it, to see if the sound changes. That’s how I found the speakers hidden in the walls. Someone had inserted them into the walls, and then covered them up, so no one would know they were there. Took me a couple of hours to find them. I even tore a hole in one wall to prove they were there.

I was loving every minute of the game. Waiting for something else. Like the lights to come on and off, or maybe shake. A cabinet door to open and close. A bump to show up under the carpet, and move around. And sure enough. Footprints showed up on the carpet. “Oh, you picked a tough one to do.” I pulled up a piece of the carpet, and saw the magnetic plate under it, resting on the floor. The carpet had been laced with iron filings. Turn on the plates, pull the iron down, and presto. Footprints.

Someone really had put a lot of effort into this.

I really enjoyed watching the knives floating through the air, coming right at me. Holographic.
They’d have scared the hell out of most people. I mean, a house with a screamer and no source. Chain dragging. Screams. Footprints made by nothing. Knives floating through the air. Windows opening and slamming shut. Curtains fluttering, as if something had come in through them.

Someone really did want the place to appear haunted. But that wasn’t my concern. I was just there to prove it wasn’t. Let someone else figure out who’d set everything up, and why. That investigative stuff wasn’t my cup of tea. All I had to do was take pictures, and deliver them. And I absolutely loved exploring haunted houses. Never ceased to amaze me how much effort people put into making things appear to be haunted. Such creative minds.

499 Words
@LurchMunster

Reply
10/22/2012 02:53

Why it posted twice is beyond me... Sigh...

Reply
10/22/2012 09:59

Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly. I’m called in when all those people leave screaming, I am a necromancer. There are those who are called mediums.They can speak to the dead, but I can feel and see the dead as well; so why not use the tools given you and make a living?
My latest case was a doozy. A young couple had moved into a new home with their baby. It started innocently enough the baby cried a lot. The mother Andrea thought the baby had colic. Then the baby quieted and began to giggle. When the baby was accidently woke up, doors began to slam and whispering occurred that only for the female member of the house could hear. The husband thought his wife was delusional suffering from the postpartum he heard so much about and raged at her. The incorporeal figure threw him to the floor and then hurled furniture at him. Then anger spent it came to what it really wanted. It had shouted at him “Get out of my house.”
That is when Brad had called me. Brad took one look at my petit five foot three ninety pound frame and shook his head. He then asked. “Are you sure you can handle this thing? It seems pretty big.”
“I can.” I reassured him.
I started a dialogue with the ghost and found out more then I wanted to know about Brad. The ghost had been killed by her husband in that very house and Brad was her killer. The whispering had been her fretting that he would kill Andrea. She had tried to convince Andrea that Brad would kill her and her baby but Andrea refused to listen. Taken aback by this information I wondered how to proceed.
“You’re too late you know.”
“Too late for what?” I asked the ghost.
“Brad killed me now I’ve killed him. There coming for him.”
“How did you kill him?”
“Poison, he took it himself. He’ll be collected soon, the banshees are coming.”
“But how?”
“I had motivation and right on my side. He had to be stopped before he killed again.”
“I understand you wanted revenge but I don’t eat if there’s no pay.” I complained.
“Look under the heat register there is a thousand dollars for you. Nice talking to you Felicity. Your grandmother says hello. I have to go now. I see the light.” The ghost said disappearing.
Brad was found at his parents a suicide, a note instructing where to find Tina in the house walls. As for Andrea she and the baby are happy now with the investigating officer. She’s married the cop and they are happy. As for me I’m still earning money seeing ghosts. Got any ghosts you need exorcizing? I’m your Ghostbuster. Call me.
475 words
@SweetSheil

Reply
10/22/2012 10:45

A lesson well taught.

“Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly,” Professor Bartley said, and looked at the class over his glasses, “so how come in movies, they always pursue the voice?”

Several hands flew in the air. “Yes, Eric,” he said, pointing at a long-haired young man.

“It wouldn’t be much of a movie if the guy,”
“Or girl!” someone in the back shouted.
“ – or girl,” he corrected, “simply walk home or call the police. It would be the shortest most boring movie in history,” Eric replied, receiving several laughs from his classmates.
“You’re right, of course,” Professor Bartley agreed, “Take ten points for Gryffindor.”

The first thing he did every year was to divide the Movies throughout History class into the houses of Hogwarts. It assured frequent interaction and attention.

When the class was over; Ravenclaw was in the lead, with Hufflepuff a strong second. The Professor had midterms to grade so he stayed behind.

Time got away from him and it was nearly midnight when he left.
The hallways were deserted and every classroom was dark and empty. He’d worked at the university for twenty years and knew each room by heart, it had become a second home to him; or, as his ex-wife called it, his mistress.

When he opened the door to the second floor, he stopped short with raised eyebrows; the hallway was glowing red.

“Hello?” he called, and took a step forwards.

A gush of wind caught him by surprise and he dropped the stack of papers he was holding. He bent to pick them up when the errant wind, which seemed adamant on causing problems, again rushed by and stole several of the papers he hadn’t managed picking up.

He ran down the hallway trying to catch them, but stopped as suddenly as he’d started. There was someone in the hallway with him.

Professor Bartley had always considered himself to be a man of logical thinking, but there was nothing logical about what he was seeing now.

Hovering two feet above the ground was a translucent shadow of a young man.

"Because they are curious," the shadow rasped, with his eyes fixed on the Professor.
“Sc-scuse me?” Professor Bartley stuttered.
"They seek the unknown, because they are curious," he continued while floating closer.

The Professor took a step back and swallowed thickly. “Right you are, son,” he said, his mind connecting to the lecture, though his hands were quivering. “Take ten points for – “ he stopped and looked up.
"Hufflepuff," he whispered.
“Hufflepuff,” the Professor repeated.

The shadow bent in two, seemingly bowing, and then it vanished. The lights flicked back to their usual color, and there was no sign of the wind.

“Wonder if the sortinghat put him in the right house,” the Professor muttered.

He looked over his shoulder, thinking he’d heard giggling, but thought better of it and hurried home - as he was now in dire need of a large glass of brandy.

word count: 500
@Chessnysilth

Reply
10/22/2012 16:05

HAUNTED HOUSE

“Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do… quickly.” I rasped.

“Well, I guess it was a little scarier when you were screaming—but really you shouldn’t have told me to leave. Kids never do what they’re told, you know?” She propped her feet on the kitchen table.

“That’s ridiculous! Don’t the creaking floorboards, screechy gates and constant distant thunder bother you? Aren’t you afraid of what might be in the shadows?”

“Not if it’s anything like you,” She clasped her hands behind her pigtails. “Besides, I think this place is wicked cool!”

“The living aren’t welcome here! There will be consequences if you aren’t gone before dawn!” I did my best to pitch my voice ominous rather than whiny.

“Well, I can’t wait to see what those consequences are! Because Blackie and I are staying!” She winked at her black cat, which still had a gremlin cornered in one of the house’s many mouse holes.

“Oohhh! You aren’t a normal child at all!”

“Of course not! And if you’d give me a chance you might like having a witch around!”

187 words
@DavidALudwig

Reply
Rebekah Postupak
10/23/2012 04:48

Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly, turning in their terror only for a well-ankled foot to catch on a rug or a tree branch, and then suddenly there they lie, limbs splayed in gorgeous helplessness until devoured mercilessly by the danger.

I used to laugh at this.

“What a crock!” I’d say to my friends, snorting between bites of over-buttered popcorn. “A real blonde would never do that.”

“Hollywood hates blondes,” I often said to my boss in disgust. “Like a brunette wouldn’t just do the same thing, only look tackier while doing it.”

Sometimes it really made me mad, but this was a feeling I shoved as far deep as it’d go. There was no place for bitterness, not in a world where I had to be *perky* at all times, smacking my gum and sporting skinny jeans and keeping unpopular suspicions to myself. All of which I did, because doing so was easier than the alternative.

“Fine,” said my boss one day.

“Huh?”

“If you believe it’s just a cinematic conspiracy, then go. Test it out. Then come back, if you can, and spare us having to listen any more to your lunacy.”

Giddiness swept over me. What a huge opportunity! I worked as a reporter for the Times, but to date my articles never broached anything snappier than the weekly firehall bingo game where I, inevitably, was the most talked-about round.

I took the longest time working out what to wear. Don’t mock—to prove my theory right, I had to follow everything to the letter. It took three hours with hot rollers to get my hair into the right sort of curls, ones that cascaded down my back in an obscenely natural-looking way. My knee-length summer dress (the blue one that everyone said made my eyes glow) didn’t really fit anymore, but after a good 45 minutes of huffing and puffing, I squeezed myself in. And into my roomie’s four-inch heels, obviously.

Into my silver clutch went a tiny pistol (loaded, duh), cell phone (fully charged), and flashlight (fresh batteries).

Now all that remained was the location: and ohhh did I have a doozy. The huge, abandoned, Victorian-style house at the edge of the wildwood. I drove there eagerly (full tank of gas, fresh battery). Alone, of course, late at night, without telling anyone.

I explored the house right off, knowing I would hear the voice all too soon. Or I would see a door slam shut, or a swarm (swarm?) of spiders scurry frantically across my path.

So when the disembodied voice called out, I was ready. I even giggled a little as I turned to flee.

And then—God help me—for the first time in my life, I stumbled.

Strained something pretty bad, I’m guessing, as I can’t move, and there’s my purse across the room where it flew as I fell.

Footsteps approach.

Dang, I think as I wait. There goes my theory.


500 words
@postupak

Reply
10/23/2012 07:19

“Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly.” Said voice was gruff and the ghost it belonged to stared down at the man sitting at the bottom of the steps, smoking.

Most everyone else that had been setting up the Haunted House made a quick retreat when they realized that the sound system hadn’t been set up yet.

“Yeah, well, most of them don’t see you lot on a regular basis.”

“My…lot?” Transparent eyebrows shot up.

“Yeah. Spooks, ghoulies, apparitions, the restless dead. I can see you all and the lot of you do NOT know when to shut up.”

“So, nothing I do will make you run away? Pulling off my face, pushing you around?”

“See a lot worse than a missing face and we both know that pushing takes energy and makes you tired.” The guy pointed a finger, using the bottom of his boot to put out the cigarette.

“Huh.” The ghost tapped his fingers on the railing, almost going through. “Well, I am Bartholomew William Penders the Third.” The creature sketched a small bow. “Who might I have the pleasure of speaking with?”

“Bartholomew?” The man grinned, straightening up.

“It is a family nail.” If the ghost’s nose went further up, he would be falling backwards through the steps. “Manners dictate that as I have given you my name, you should give yours in return.”

“Rory. Rory Talls. I’d offer to shake your hand, but yeah, intangible.”

“With a name like Rory, you are one to talk about mine.” Bartholomew nodded. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Talls. It has been a while since anyone could see me that wasn’t a child or baby. It is disheartening. Why I remember…”

“Bart, dude. I hate to break it off but if you are going to give me your life history, I’m going to jet. There are things I need to do and listening to a lifetime channel about how you didn’t tell your dad you loved him or you wished you had married the first girl in your life instead of the one who had the money but was a cold fish in bed, heard it before. It’s the same old with your older ghosts.”

Bartholomew puffed himself up. “Well fine. I thought we were going to build some rapport but you have the manners of a common street urchin.”

Rory smirked, reaching into his jacket. “Uh-huh. Been called worse. Anyway, the business at hand. I’m serving you with papers to vacate the premises on behalf of Law Twenty Five, Subsection Three, paragraph C. You have fifteen days to vacate the premises as you hadn’t registered with the Apparition League to haunt this location and according to their records, you are three months behind on your dues. If you don’t settle up, we’ll see you in court at the end of the month.” He held out a set of black papers towards the ghost. “Have a great day.”

500 words
@solimond

Reply
Miranda Kate
10/23/2012 14:52

Ordinarily, when someone hears a disembodied voice scream at them to leave, they do... quickly, but with Max it was different. His curiosity came first; fear second. He also didn’t believe there was anything to be feared; they were ethereal after all and couldn’t honestly do any harm.

He found the room where he thought it had come from. It was an old rambling house, decorated with garish 1950’s wall paper and in this particularly room they had papered in all the cupboard doors too, making it look like part of the wall. But one of the doors was ajar and an arm was hanging out.

“It’s got to be a mannequin’s hand.” Max said to himself. He squinted at it in the greying twilight.

He hovered in the doorway unsure whether he wanted to find out for sure or not, and then he tutted at himself for being so ridiculous, and strode across the room purposefully.

When he reached it he looked at it closely, trying to see in the half light whether it was real flesh or not. But honestly, how could it be. The house had been empty for years. No one came here. If it was a real hand it would be skeletal by now.

Again he scoffed at his hesitation and in one swoop grabbed the hand. But this time the screams weren’t disembodied, they emitted from his fully alive body, as he felt the soft cold flesh of a real human hand.

248 Words
@PurpleQueenNL

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