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Writing Horror: Scary Writing Prompt Game #8

Happy Saturday, Spookies!

Welcome to another round of the scary writing prompt game. Again, here's how it works: I'll announce the prompt, then you guys post a 1-2 paragraph response in the comment section. At the beginning of each round, I'll share my favorite bit from the previous week's entries before announcing the next prompt. As I announced in June, at the end of the year there will be a spooky prize drawing for ALL participants!

Want to give yourself more entries in the drawing? Go back to review and comment on past rounds if you haven't already. A late entry is just as fun to read for me!

The Prizes:

2 winners will be receiving customized horror bottles in the scary book or movie of their choice. (What's a horror bottle, you ask? That, my spookies, is when I decoupage the shiz out of an empty wine bottle to showcase whichever book or movie you choose. They make for some killer decorations! Pun intended, especially if you request a Freddy Krueger bottle.)

Last week's question begged to know what spooky settings you find to be the most bone-chilling. Robin Moran's response hit the nail on the head with the creep factor:

"Asylums get me. I'm enticed by them but I would be terrified the minute I stepped into one. It's the way most of them are left with all the furniture and belongings still there. The wheelchairs that are sitting and waiting as you creep along. The labyrinth of corridors where even the slightest footstep echoes around you. The groaning of an old, abandoned building that sounds too much like the echo of a former sick patient."

This Week's Prompt:

She told you the very first time you visited her at home that the cellar was off limits.

"Why?" you asked, while she danced around the kitchen to gather teacups for the bourbon. "What's down there?"

"Nothing," she insisted, and the corners of her mouth turned down. "Just leave it be."

You tried. It was easy enough in the afternoon, with all the bourbon and tea party hats and finger sandwiches made with cucumber and dill, but as the sun went to sleep beneath the horizon of the forest and the moon began to wash the color out of everything with its beams, you began to wonder about the door again.

Perhaps she was simply too embarrassed for you to see it; perhaps it was filthy or cluttered with a secret hoard. But after she drank herself to sleep and lay breathing steadily on the carpet, you became more and more aware of just how very quiet it was in this house. You thought about how she drunkenly mumbled something about how much she missed her dead grandmother before passing out. "She died in this house, you know," she slurred. "She was a very interesting woman."

Sick to your stomach from the alcohol and restless in the unease of the main house, you decided to give into your burning curiosity and ignore your friend's warning. What could be in there that she wouldn't want you to see? The knob of the cellar door was surprisingly warm on your palm when you went to turn it--how strange, when the rest of the house was stark with chill.

What could possibly be inside? After a deep breath and another glance to ensure your friend was still asleep, you turned the knob and opened the door.

Release the Hellhounds!

((ETA: The next round will take place on Saturday, September 7th. Hope to see you there!))
Amy Lukavics

Amy lurks within the forested mountains of Arizona. When she isn't reading or writing creepy stories, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and playing games across many platforms. She is the author of Daughters Unto Devils (Harlequin Teen 2015) and The Women In The Walls (Harlequin Teen 2016).

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  1. You tried not to think unkind thoughts. She must have had good reason, to be afraid. But it was amazing, you thought (with a hint of smugness you couldn't help) how the dark could mess with a person's head. How the groan of the shifting house could sound like rattling breaths, how the click-click-click of the pipes could sound like fingernails tapping against the wall. The fear was all in her head. You were sure of it.

    You unsuccessfully flicked the light switch once or twice, but your last drink made you bold, eager for some urban exploration. Taking the creaking stairs two at a time, you found the box of photo albums first. You took your time, examining photos of a small woman with a curved back and sunken, narrow eyes, confident in your knowledge that the dark couldn't hurt you. It was true enough. But it meant that you didn't see the hunched figure in the corner, examining you with her sunken, narrow eyes - and even when she slowly, silently began to move toward you, you didn't notice her at all.

  2. You've been in the dark for so long. You can hear them, upstairs, hear the rattling of teacups and saucers, and you remember Marta. Remember the endless tea parties, the air sandwiches and empty cups she would drink so delicately with her pinky extended. Your pinky doesn't bend, but you tried to match her elegance nonetheless. She tried to make you real tea, and the boiling pot spilled over her face and onto your dress. There is still the slightest tan stain, there at the bottom of your ruffles. Upstairs, their feet clatter on the stairways, and you remember Marcus, who ran about the hills with you tucked in his back pocket, until the ground slipped beneath his feet and he was still. In time, the people upstairs become quiet, and you remember Sylvia, dear, sweet old Sylvia, whose children grew up and left, and she loved you so much in their place. She loved you so much, they broke a finger when they pried you from her cooling hands.

    There is a light--the first light you've seen in years, and your button eyes glitter as they see the dark outline of the person standing in the doorway. "Ah," you think, the stitches of your mouth straining as they pull wider. "A new person to play with."

    1. Aaah! This totally rocks! I am really, really digging this prompt. So many spooky possibilities, and these snippets are rad so far.

  3. A waft of hot air teases your hair and you think, it must be the furnace- That must be why she doesn't want anyone near. The sweat on the walls and other surfaces must cause mildew and mold. It's pitch black after the first five steps, but you've gotten over the fear of dark basements and bathroom mirrors when you were ten, and descend without hesitation.

    The stairs creak in a damp way- not the sharp squeak of the dry staircase leading upstairs, but almost with a squish. When you finally reach the bottom, you're sweating and the air is clogging your lungs. You can see the furnace's fire through the blackness, between shadowed grates. You start to feel faint, the buzz you had is mixing poorly with the horrible heat of the basement and you turn to go. But the stairs are gone- the door no longer emitting it's light at the top. You spin, looking for a light that should be shining from the crack under the door, but it's not there. Nothing but the furnace, and the shadow in front of it.

    1. Eeeek! I love the part where the stairs disappear!

  4. She probably just wanted you to be safe, whatever that means. It can't be anything bad. She just wanted to be on the safe side, right? The steps creak as you walk down them, feeding your paranoia. I've got to be right, you think.
    Something clangs, a sharp jab against the silence. What was that? That must be my imagination; nothing's down here. Your heartbeat speeds up. Your breathing sounds loud n the darkness. You grope around for a railing, but there's nothing there. You grab onto the cracked concrete wall. Something drips onto your hand. Despite your rationality, you shiver. You make your way down the stairs, step by step, feeling like an idiot. As you read the bottom, a hollow sound pierces the air, almost like laughter. Goosebumps cover your body. I think something's wrong.

    A raspy voice calls, "Newcomer, is it?" A spluttering, coughing sound. "Well, y' won't be here alone."

    1. Awesome snippet, Katia! I'm starting to feel reeeeally bad for poor "you," lol.

  5. As soon as you opened the door, a wave of heat and the stench of decay hit you square in the face. Your stomach threatened to revolt and empty itself of the bourbon/finger sandwich combination. However, your unbridled curiosity had overridden your body's protests. You switched on the cellar light, and proceeded down the stairs. You took each step slowly, trying your best to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose.

    You reached the bottom and looked around the room. You looked right, and saw nothing in particular, but to the left was the source of the smell. Based on the picture your friend showed you earlier, it was definitely what remained of her grandmother which stood in the corner staring at you. Your friend told the truth in that her grandmother died in the house. What she had failed to mention was that her grandmother didn't stay dead.

  6. The open doorway reveals darkness, a darkness sultry and beckoning. Old perfume and mildew mingle uncomfortably as you brush through cobwebs and down the stairs. The door swings shut. 
    Blindly you reach forward, searching for a wall or a chair or a light switch. Dread fills your chest, though it seems out of place. The scent of perfume grows stronger, as does the sound of your harried heartbeat. The darkness shakes your senses into overdrive and you jump as warm metal touches your hand. A bed frame. It's an old-fashioned hospital bed, sitting in your friend's basement. The bourbon churns in your stomach. 
    A matchbox rests on the mattress and you gasp in relief. You sink onto the bed as your trembling hands fumble with the matches, but it feels wrong. The bed doesn't move like it should if only one person was sitting on it. 
    You strike a match just in time for an elderly lady, dressed in a hospital gown and tucked between the sheets, to reach her wrinkled hands toward your throat. Her unnaturally light eyes are the last thing you see. 

  7. You felt the aging plaster crumble beneath your nails as you half slid down the narrow stairway, each step bowing and creaking as your weight fell onto it. The putrid air, a mix of decaying earth and rotting animal carcasses, you guessed, filled the tight passageway. You did your best to choke down the remnants of your last blue raspberry flavored shot, but taming your gag reflex was never one of your superpowers.

    As the mess of blue and green trickled down the railing, you noticed a dim, yet glowing light towards the bottom of the stairs. Eyes still fuzzy, you stepped closer to the light, despite the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. As you reached out your hand towards the glow, you heard a bone-tingling creak, and then a whisper that's enough to send your nerve endings into overdrive, "It's ok, I won't bite".

  8. The door opened slowly, creaking loudly; the hinges cracked as they scraped together, rust breaking apart and sprinkling on the floor. Her hand firmly clasped on the knob, the door struggled and halted. She grimaced as she thrust her weight into it, knob breaking clean off, as she stumbled, plummeting head first onto the floor, the door hitting the wall swinging back and slamming shut again, covering her in darkness, knob still in her hand. The floor was warm and sticky, covered in near dry blood, her skin peeling off of it as she rose to her feet, head pounding, eyes trying to focus on the faint points of light in the center of the room.

    A figure knelt hunched over in the center of the room with two candles on each side. The candlelight licked at the walls, revealing bodies scattered around the room. She tried to utter something, anything, but nothing came out but strained air. She shuffled toward the figure slowly, her bare feet sticking to the floor, peeling off again, not believing what is in front of her, surrounding her. As she approached the figure, she could see a large circle painted around it in blood with runes and symbols along the outside. Two metal rungs were attached to the floor, each with a chain going from them to shackles around the figure's wrists. A book drenched in blood lay at the figure's knees with a bowl of rotten food placed
    just far enough away from the figure's reach. She hears scratches at the door, followed by loud cracks and slams, but she is too shocked to move. As she looks upon the dead grandmother, still rotting, the door bursts open, her friend standing in the doorway with a bottle of gin in one hand and a crowbar in the other. "She didn't want to continue," she said, taking a drink from the bottle and slinking into the room, "but it had gotten too far." She grabbed the side of the door and slammed it shut, the candles flickered in the gust and died. "Can't stop now," she said, dropping the bottle of gin, tears in her face, crowbar raised in the air, making her way to the center of the room.

    1. Love this, particularly the last bit.

      Our poor MC is so screwed. (Sorry, MC!)

  9. Immediately after the door swings wide, you catch sight of the dark staircase of which you can't see the end. The bourbon in your system revolts and you catch a wave of vertigo. Staggering back away from the edge of the step, you shut the door as quietly as you can before leaning against it, breathing in deeply through your nose. You are never quite as brave as you think you are. With your ear a mere inch away from the wooden door, you think you hear faint whispers from the basement but you shake off the paranoia.

    She calls your name louder than necessary, probably having woken up and wondering where you've gone. The moment you step away from the door and toward the living room once more, the whispers you thought were in your head crescendo to a deafening roar. "You'll be safe down here!" they scream. You run to find her standing in the center of the room, her back turned to you. You start to ask her to run with you, but before the words can leave your lips, she turns and her eyes glow red. "She tried to warn you," she says in a thousand voices, "but she overestimated your curiosity." Before you take your last breath, you realize safe haven was in the basement all along.

    1. Bravo on the twist! First safe basement, right here.


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Item Reviewed: Writing Horror: Scary Writing Prompt Game #8 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amy Lukavics