In an interview the other week, I said that, for horror writers and fans, Halloween is our Christmas. In the spirit of giving, then, here a couple of short-short stories. I wrote them the other week for my high school English classes, which were participating in a creative writing contest inspired by the Stranger Things series. The students were presented with a list of eight story prompts; they had to choose one and use it in the writing of a story under one hundred words. The aim was for something in a kind of Twilight Zone-y mode. At the behest of my students, I tried my hand at a couple, which turned out less Rod Serling and more weird Raymond Carver.
“Keep Out: Danger!” the sign on the electric fence read. No one knew what the compound had contained, what had required both the written warning and the charge still capable of knocking you to the ground. As we did every day, we shuffled to the fence and stood there, waiting. Some said God lived in the blocky cement building visible through the fence’s links; some approached the fence looking for judgment, salvation. When the rifle cracked and the bullets took their daily toll, spraying bone and brains from our skulls, it was difficult to say which fate had found us.
The noise was coming from the basement. Usually, they break in through the doors and windows, but they are inventive. It was my turn to check. You have to be prompt: once they’re inside, they’ll overrun a place in no time at all. I wrapped my face and hands, put on the sunglasses, and took the pistol. There were four. They’d wriggled in through a window I would have guessed too small for them. From the stairs, I shot them before they managed to get their stakes out. Lead bullets: cheap and effective. Ironically, the sunlight helped me see them.