Monday, October 31, 2011

The Chain Letter Horror Story

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Other than the fact that horror movies scare me way too much to ever actually watch them, I love all things creepy. Macabre books, rotting costumes, haunted cemeteries, and the ghosts that I have never, ever seen, even though I grew up in a very haunted town.

When I was in college, instead of writing the literary and serious short stories my professors wanted me to do, I turned in stuff about ghosts, death, and--of course--zombies.

And that's what I have for you today, with a twist. A horror story--written by ten people. All of the operatives and a few of the spies ran with a crazy idea: the chain letter horror story. (Let me tell you, the idea to do the story like this was almost as collaborative as the actual story ended up being.) Sans prompt (so as not to limit our creativity), one operative--whose name I drew randomly--started it. And we sent it around, person by person--only reading the story up to the part that we each added, and then sending it along with no idea of how it would end. And nobody has read the whole thing. Because it's still not finished.

Until now.

If it seems a little like Frankenstein's monster, well--isn't that appropriate? But the real twist is not that we all wrote it without knowing where it was going. It's that YOU are going to end it.

Hop in the comments and write a bit. It can be as long or as short as you want (our boundaries were 1 sentence to about 150 words, but that was so the post didn't get too long. You can follow them or not). Give us an ending, a cliffhanger, or just continue the story.

Here is what we came up with:


Her name was Mabel and she wore bracelets made of barbed wire on her wrists. At first I thought they were charms glinting red in the moonlight, tokens of happier memories. Then I saw the spikes. She caught me looking and guided my hand to the twisted metal.

There was no blood—not on the bracelet, not on my finger, not on the white sheet underneath me—but that's when the fever started.

I glanced out the window with bars over it and saw what was left of the crumbling Eiffel Tower. Crap. We were still in Paris. Gut-wrenching moans filled the starless sky.

"They're out there," I whispered to Mabel.

"Who?"

"The zombies. I can hear them groaning and clawing at the walls, trying to get in here."

Mabel caressed my face. Her barbed wire bracelet scraped along my cheek, but the pain soothed me. "No, precious," she purred. "The only one groaning and clawing at anything is you."

A guttural bark shocked the air and it took a second to realize it was Mabel's. In a blink her spikes had me pinned to the bed and her splintered teeth came at me, snatching away flesh.

The pain pierced my hallucination and its shimmering walls collapsed like a bubble. A wave of sound came up and crashed on my ear drums, making me nauseous.

"Ca va?" The mother next to me stared from the edge of the bench and held her pram with fingers I could see had gone white.

Ignore her. I wiped saliva pooling at the edge of my lips and stood uncertainly. A clutch of children giggled nearby.

"Mabel."

"In a minute."

"Mabel, now!"

I reached past the guignol, startling his master, and gripped Mabel's hand. The parents tittered and clucked as I half dragged Mabel away.<

A block down she said, “Did I do something wrong?”

A deep breath and then I took her in my arms. “Mommy's just acting--” But I never finished.

I felt heat rising off her forehead.

Mabel's fever spread to my skin, itchy and oppressive. Paris around me started to blur. I blinked, and Mabel's face blurred, too. I heard shouts, screams, growls, but they weren't coming from my surroundings. They were echoing inside my head.

"Mommy?" Mabel whispered.

I couldn't answer. I tried, but my lips wouldn't move. I couldn't move...

My world collapsed again; I had the cold sensation of being yanked from a dream.

Stitches in my lips, straps around my hands, barbed wire digging into the skin of my neck. I was back in the room with the view of the crumbled Eiffel Tower. The room with the bars on the window. Mabel straddled my chest, grinning at me with a blood-covered mouth.

Her broken teeth flashed when she spoke. "Welcome back, dearie."

I looked into her eyes, trying to find something behind her blood-thirsty look. I knew she remembered what had happened that day. I knew she remembered the truth. She had to, right? I kept asking myself that same question, over and over; her expression never changed.

Her lips raised into what I thought was meant to be a smile. Her teeth were bloody, and her breath reeked of rotted flesh. The way she pinned me, I could only see her ravenous smile, those bloody teeth, and grey, soulless eyes. And that sight was infinitely more painful than the throbbing in my shoulder or the spikes digging into my wrists. I squeezed my own eyes shut, tried to focus on days where that now sanguine smile used to be red or blue or green from too many lollipops. But that didn’t help. The pain in my shoulder, the smell, the memories—they were too overwhelming.

Mabel wasn’t like them yesterday. She wasn’t like them this morning. But the Transmogrification affects everyone differently. I wondered how long it would take for me to turn. To become like Mabel. To become like the rest of them.

So, my dear writers...

What's next?

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