Once upon one of too many minutes spent puttering around online, I happened across the following Tweet:
#Flashfiction #writing #contest?, I thought. (What, you mean not everyone thinks in #hashtags?) After checking out the link and the rules and the swiftly approaching deadline, I replied in classic Danielle E. Shipley, Author style.
For this, the first in a series of #31DaysofHalloween flash fiction contests hosted on her blog (This Literary Life), Bree Ogden provided an image to inspire…
…a song to write by, and a word to include any way entrants saw fit: “Hoard”.
Skipping ahead to the end of this little episode, the bad news is that I didn’t end up winning the contest. (I WAS ROBBED! Lol, whatever; you win some, you lose the rest.) But there was good news, too: Win or lose, I now had an eerie little story to share with all of you guys!
So here it is – my quick trick with words, served up as a Halloween treat for you. ‘Cause this fairytale author isn’t so light that she can’t pull the occasional scarytale out of her darkened soul. Presenting… “Tomorrows’ End”.
“Will you dance with us tonight, Taylor?”
The young woman hadn’t known she slept until the whisper woke her. Her eyes opened to the shape crouched on her windowsill, an unmoving silhouette behind white curtains fluttering in a breeze that didn’t blow. To think that, as lately as one year ago, she did not believe in such beings as these.
“Tomorrow,” she answered, as always. Her quiet voice grated hoarse, but she didn’t dare clear her throat. The night her daughter’s sudden cry startled the crouching creature had been the baby’s last. A coincidence, some might say. She did not believe any such thing. “Not tonight. Ask tomorrow.”
The creature’s eyes burned black against the window’s shroud of snowy linen. “How many tomorrows do you think you have left?”
As many as I can hoard, Taylor thought. She would put off a decision as long as she could. As long as the creature allowed, or until she could find a way to stop the invitations coming. If she could last just one more week, she’d be on a train speeding far away from this accursed house. Surely that would end it. Surely she would be given a chance to start again. She tried to believe she would.
“Please,” she begged softly. “Tomorrow.”
“Tonight.” The word stilled the curtains; for half a beat, stilled Taylor’s heart. “Tonight, or never.” The silhouette vanished, only an echo of its words left behind. “You have until the sunrise. We will not ask again.”
No longer a request. A command. Her time was up, too soon. It was dance or die. Or so some would say. She did not believe in the “or”.