Short Shocktober Day 1: Dark

Content warning: Mention/implied blood, stalking, death, dismemberment.

Prowler

Look at him, strolling carelessly through the barely overlapping pools of streetlight. When his dress shoes tap the damp pavement in the shadows between the yellow cones, he’s close. Close enough to my realm that I can ruffle his wet hair with my talons. Close enough that I can smell the new shampoo. Not his. Too fragrant.

               He’s nervous. I slink along, invisible, in the murk under the parked cars, sniffing the iron tang of blood on his wrist. He missed it. I click a pebble as I pass and his head flicks around, cat like, twitching at unseen assailants. Does he fear the dark or discovery?

               Silly man. His little smile in the half dark says he’s laughing at himself. There’s nothing there! Nothing more scary than he. He thinks his midnight sojourn to the land of death and dismemberment has been an easy one. Now he’ll slither home in his patent leather and tailored trousers and await the circus on the news, revel in his hand made mayhem.

               Foolish man. Nothing scary out here but the nosy eyes of neighbours and cameras, right? So long as he can make it to his apartment without the long arm of the law tapping him on the shoulder, ‘bit late for a stroll, isn’t it, sir?’, he’s won his part of the game. Until next time, until the urge for blood sport and struggle rises deep within him, and compels him once again to the hunt. Until he ‘picks’ and ‘stalks’ and ‘hunts’ his victim; a pale imitation, an amateur at best.

               I can feel his heart beat. Heightened, but steady. It beats the delicious blood around his frame. His smile is constant now; a little upturn at the corner of his thin lips. Does his heart beat faster from fear or a predatory high? He pulls back his suit jacket slightly as he slides his hands into his pockets, his walk nonchalant.

               Watch him watch the shadows. Under the direct light burning overhead, there are almost none, and it occurs to him that someone might be sneak up on him and he wouldn’t be able to tell. His heart runs, but his façade doesn’t flicker, his pace steady, a model of control.

               Arrogant man. There’s nothing to fear in the night. Fear of the dark is the realm of children. Nothing lives in the shadows, teeth slick with anticipation, soft paws padding silently through the fresh night, watching him. He is the night. He is the thing that lurks in the shadows.

               He reaches the end of the street, the last streetlight above him, the short walk across the industrial ground, unlit as the grave before him. All that separates him from home and security.  I coil my steely muscles, my haunches taught.

               His foot leaves the yellow circle at the pavement edge and never meets the ground. There’s a short shriek, and he’s gone, never to be seen again.

               In the dark, I lick my lips.


Prompt: Dark

Word Count: 497

Day one of Short Shocktober done. Needs more polishing, but getting things finished to a short deadline was what this was about, not polishing them to a mirror shine.

Check out the Shocktober link above for the rest of the prompts, if you need some creative sparks for October.

Short Shocktober – 31 horror flash fiction prompts for October ’21

Every year in October, artists gather on the ephemeral planes of the internet to collectively participate in a dark ritual. During that ritual they spill oceans of ink. Besmirch sheet after sheet of snow-white paper. Stab hard at the heart of creativity, to pierce it with pens and pencils and have its black ichor flow forth. An eldritch ritual, known only in the fearful whispers as… Inktober…

Anyway, I love spook-month, and Inktober has always appealed to me, but I’m not much of an artist, so I decided to do my own thing with prose. One of the things that I’m struggling with lately is getting things finished. My current projects are quite long, and I could do with the boost that finishing something regularly gives you. So for that reason, I’m going to use the thirty-one daily prompts, below, to write 500 words of horror flash fiction each day, and post them here. I’m posting the prompts and rules (“more like guidelines than actual rules”, he said, making an ancient reference), because I hope that other people will be interested and join me!

Continue reading “Short Shocktober – 31 horror flash fiction prompts for October ’21”