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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Brian Sloan on September 14, 2014
"Enjoyed painting a little story around this prompt. Focused a little much on the setting and characters more than expounding upon the monster's lore."


In the flickering low-light of the storm-drenched alley I found myself slumming about, a flicker of something tawny and damp caught my eye before it surged out of hiding and took flight. Two quick steps allowed me to close the distance and snatch the soaked page from the air before it could truly take flight in the vicious fingers of the storm. It was a single page, slightly torn and soggy, yet not deteriorating in the harsh weather conditions. I tucked it into my coat pocket and hurried back home, unaware of what I was bringing into my homely apartment.

Since the power lines had been damaged, then shut down in the violence of the storm, I laid the saturated page down on my kitchen table, clearing away half-finished crosswords as I did. I pulled out a cigarette and puffed away as I squinted at the page by the dim glow of my lighter.

The page looked old to my inexperienced eyes, but books were so out-of-date that anything on paper was rare. The content was hand-written, clearly: the letters were beautifully crafted cursive but suffered from occasional wobbles and inconsistencies. There were even spots where words had been misspelled and blotched out or crossed out with the pen. Miraculously the ink hadn't started running from the water, although in places it was beginning to blur. The parchment itself was hefty--it felt more like a thin piece of cloth than paper. It had been ripped out of its resting place with such force that the top left corner had been completely torn away, and a jagged line ran down the area where the page had last nestled with the spine.

I read.

"--dow and crept back into my bed. The storm raged on, however, and my thoughts were scattered. And still the noise persisted, the sound of silk being drawn rapidly over a rough wooden floor. It drew closer, then stopped momentarily directly outside the door of my chambers, then after a pause of three heartbeats, continued down the hallway, away from myself. It was a singular experience, to be certain, but the rarity of the night was only now being established.

I was just drifting off to sleep, thinking it had only been someone using the facilities during the night and convincing myself that the horrible infantile scream had been my mind playing tricks on me when suddenly another cry rang out across the silence of the night--this one far too real and far too familiar. I would recognize Jane's scream anywhere. Leaping out of bed and dashing to the door, pausing only briefly enough to gather my cane sword, I flung the portal open and rushed down the hallway towards where she was staying for the night. All around me bodies were stirring and candles were being lit, but I paid them no heed in my haste. I burst into the chamber and stumbled upon a nightmare.

Jane lay in a heap on the floor, scrambling to push her intestines back into her lacerated stomach. Her comically swollen belly had been replaced with a gaping crater spurting blood like a water pump. Her face was a mask of horror and confusion as she gazed disjointedly at a creature crouching in the light of her now ignited bed canopy. At first I thought it was the shadow of a dog or a wolf, for it was pitch black and seemed incorporeal, but upon further inspection there was no beast to cast the shadow--and no such creature on God's green Earth could cast a shadow such as that! The creature resembled a wolf in structure, if a wolf had an indiscriminate number of shifting legs and arms, blending in and through each other as if the creature truly was a specter from beyond the grave. Its tail was no more than a nub, and hung low like a wolf's, but it did not appear to have any fur or skin, simply a pure, perfect inky black coat, like staring down into the bottomless depths of a chasm. Its head, too, was a departure from its lupine cousins: shaped like a large triangle, with its singular point for a chin, it sported what appeared to be some sort of fur or hair atop its base, which was ragged, not smooth like a geometric shape. Its eyes, though--not yellow or glowing, but green. Rounded, normal. Human. They gazed back at me as we matched stares with an intelligence and fury the likes of which I have never met matched. And before anyone could arrive, it whisked itself away with a step and a bound, jumping out of the firelight and disappearing into the shadows.

Despite having no exits or entrances, the beast was never found in the room. Jane died moments later, with a surgeon tending frantically to her hopeless wounds. The baby had been ripped out of the womb, but no body was ever recovered for our never-to-be child. I grieved. I tore my hair. I stayed at the house, slept in the room for I don't know how long--days, weeks, months, hours; time blended into a smooth mixture of multi-colored sand, slowly trickling through the hourglass sideways. Eventually, I gathered my wits enough to depart from the facility, but not enough to avoid one last encounter.

As I was leaving, the maid in charge of cleaning my room and facilitating my exit spoke to me. She was a woman of African or Caribbean heritage, and had a particular way of speaking, which I have attempted to translate her into a more manageable description. She asked me if I had seen an evil shadow in the room that night, and I told her I had. Were it that I had reprimanded her forward question and forgotten her name! She revealed to me that it was a creature of lore from her homeland, called a ngrath. Born of the shade of a child killed by its own mother, the creature haunts the place where it deserved to be born, terrorizing any pregnant women and "freeing" its unborn brethren from the shackles of life. The beast would not stop there: in fact, since I had chased it away, it would haunt the heirs of my family line until it extincted every child, grown or otherwise. This curse would follow me and mine throughout every generation. These voodoo teachings had a profound impact upon my composition, and I cried out "Save me, what can I do to evade this terror?" She disclosed to me that the only"

I sighed and flicked the last ashes of my cigarette into the trashcan. Some nerdy horror trash. I'm not sure what I was expecting--after all, anything meaningful would only exist as a digital copy by this point in time. But really, this? Some trashy teenage horror novel excerpt? It hardly merited the effort I had made to save this sorry scrap of paper from the elements. I sighed and let the lighter flicker to rest. It was getting late in either case, and I still had work in the morning. No way Joey would let us stay home despite the weather and flooding. I had just walked up the stairs when I heard a soft sound from below me. I paused for a moment, and it continued briefly before pausing in response. The sound of silk dragging slowly across my hard wood floor...

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