Friday, October 14, 2011

The Woods

This story is a call to Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenge to create a brand new monster. Monsters are my thing. They breed inside my head like a swirling mass of snake orgies. When one is written down, a new one is born. I see them in my dreams, I hear their bastard noises in my head as I write. 

So I couldn't pass this one up, right? 

I give you my little homage to the recent news of a possible ancient kraken. Those articles really seeded into my brain and I spun this tale on a whim. I hope you enjoy!


He could hear the raspy breathing.

David hunkered down in the dark woods, trying to stay quiet. His heart pounded hard in his chest and he was sure that would give him away.

He thought of his wife and children, how they were probably sleeping sound in their warm, familiar beds. For a moment, a streak of warmth spread through him, only to be replaced by an ice-cold dread that ran through his bones when he heard twigs break nearby.

He couldn’t stay here in the open, hiding feebly behind a tree.

Before he could talk himself out of it, he peeked around the side in the direction the noise had come from. It was so dark that most of the forms were nondescript shades of black in the night. The trees canopy blocked out almost the entire moon light, leaving him mostly blind.

Something moved in front of him and slightly to the right.

He took off in the opposite direction.

With his body tucked tight and low, he ran. His feet hit the ground, light and swift. He was amazed at how little noise he was making.

He took off in a sprint, running a zig zag pattern occasionally, other times straight shots in one direction, trying to lose it yet waiting for it to grab him from behind.

Glancing back over his shoulder, he wasn’t sure, but it looked like there might have been movement about 30 feet behind him. It wasn’t directly behind him; instead it was as if the thing was paralleling him, merely staying with his pace.
He knew he would have to stop soon. His breath felt like fire in his chest, each burst burning up his trachea, rushing out his open mouth. Sweat fell into his eyes, stinging, but he didn’t care. It had been many years since he had ran like this. Honestly he didn’t know how he was doing it now, other than the sheer, raw feeling of survival coupled with fear coursing through him.

Another glance, the same. Suddenly his leg met with a sharp object. He fell head over feet to the ground, rolling onto branches, twigs, and the mossy floor below. Pain shot through his left leg and he heard a sickening snap as the bone broke.

His sharp scream bit into the night.

When he came to a stop, he was disoriented from the tumble and his body began to throb with the pain.

It was here.
It was stopped, and looking at him, its head cocked to one side.

The shiny, almost transparent skin was rippling. Two large eyes slanted upward, moving their gaze over him.

Tentacles, too many to count, all sizes and lengths, undulated in a never-ending spiraling mass around its body.

As he watched, it moved forward using two thick legs that bent backward, the opposite of our own. The tentacles curled up at their ends and touched the earth much like an ape’s fists.

When it was directly beside him, it leaned its enormous head over his body and peered over him.

Afraid to move, and no longer noticing the pain, he watched.

Slowly a mouth opened underneath its eyes. It started as a small slit, and enlarged to a gaping hole. Many teeth glistened, and it drew breath in large gasps.

Watching its mouth, he never saw the tentacles fold in over his body. Quickly they lashed onto him, and the poison was warm, filling his body with a pleasant numbness.

It drew him up under its body. There was no more pain in his leg.

His body rolled a few times once it reached the creatures belly, and he could make out the strong legs. They were covered in a course, sparse fur, and flexed with each small movement.

They began to move.

He began to feel as if he were being pulled backward through a tunnel. Now he couldn’t feel anything. It reminded him of being numbed at the dentist office, only all over his body. That thick, spongy feel covered him.

He could hear the sound of water. It was the lake.

Still, he felt no fear.

Nearing the water, it lowered itself to the ground, splaying the tentacles out all around.

He could barely see anything now. Everything seemed so far away.

It drug him along the ground, sliding and pulling him at the same time.

They entered the water, and slipped in with ease.

When the water filled his lungs, he felt nothing.

His vision merely left him. Faded out.

The creature swam deep, taking him to its nest.

Once there, it tore him limb from limb.

But he was already gone.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Hello all! Well, it's been a month since I've last posted, and I feel bad that I let this happen. Things got in the way. Life... got in the way. But I have been blessed to have more writing projects come to me, and I have been busy in other ways, too. 

I wasn't sure what to come back with until it hit me one day. It's getting close to Halloween, my favorite time of the year, so why not do a post about Halloween. This is also going to be about the history and origins of trick or treating because there are so many wonderful memories of this for me. 

So here we go. It's like riding a bicycle. You never forget, you only have to keep your balance. :)


October 31. It's Halloween. What you and I think of as Halloween wasn't always around. In fact, Halloween was originally called All-Hallows-Even in 16th century Scotland. The word became shortened over many years into the current Halloween. 

The Celtic festival of Samhain can be connected to Halloween. Samhain marked the end of the harvest. It's also been explained to mark the end of the lighter part of the year, leading into the darker, and in this way it can be regarded as a new year celebration. Samhain can be traced back to medieval Ireland in the 10th century.

All Saints falls on the following day, November 1. The definition for All Saints varies within religions. For instance, for Western Christians, it signifies a day of commemoration for all who have attained beatific vision in Heaven, yet for Roman Catholics, it is for the faithful who have passed on but have not been purified or reached Heaven. It is thought that the Roman Catholic church was trying to do away with Samhain, and therefore began All Saints to take the attention from Samhain. Needless to say, it didn't work.

For Wiccans, Samhain is a celebration started at sundown, where some will celebrate those who are deceased. Some rituals involve inviting the dead to join them in the festivities. Samhain is considered a festival of darkness for Wiccans, and would be an opposite to their spring festival of Beltane, which celebrates light and fertility.

Samhain is considered in the Gaelic culture to be the time of the year when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead would be at their thinnest, allowing the dead to come back into our world and cause mischief. This reasoning was attributed to sickness or diseased crops.

The use of costumes were employed in order to trick the spirits of the dead. If a person looked like they did, the spirits would purportedly leave them alone and continue on to wreak havoc somewhere else. Food was sometimes left outside of their doors that night to draw in the good spirits, while the others who had dressed up would go through the towns and villages making much noise in order to scare the bad spirits away.

The familiar jack o' lantern was originally carved from turnips in Ireland and Scotland. In America, pumpkins were more abundant and larger, making it easier to carve. Making a jack o' lantern can be traced to 1837, but was connected to the harvest. It became associated with Halloween around the mid 19th century. 

Souling was a practice made for All Saints Day in order to celebrate the dead, where children and the poor would go from door to door, singing and requesting a soul cake. These cakes were filled with sweet spices, raisins or currants, and topped with the mark of a cross. Glasses of wine were also set out with the cakes. The children would call out in song and say prayers for the dead. Each cake eaten would be symbolic of a soul being freed from Purgatory.

There is a Peter, Paul and Mary song from 1963 which speaks of this tradition:

Soul, Soul, a soul cake!
I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
three for Him what made us all!
Soul Cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul, & three for Him who made us all.

Souling was thought to be the practice from which modern day trick or treating evolved from. Another early practice similar to trick or treating is guising. This was recorded in Scotland in 1895 at Halloween, and included people dressed up in costume carrying turnips that had been scooped out and used as lanterns, going from home to home receiving cakes, fruit and money. 

Guising in America can be traced back to 1911, 1915, and in Chicago in 1920. The phrase "trick or treat" was written about in 1934. Trick or treating, as we know, appears to have become widespread in America during the 1930s. 


In October 1947, the children's magazines Jack and Jill, and Children's Activities, spoke of trick or treating. The Peanuts comic strip mentioned it in 1951. In 1952, Walt Disney released the cartoon Trick or Treat, and the surge went forward from there.

When I was a child trick or treating in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a brief scare surrounding the activity. Fear of items being introduced into candy such as razor blades, poisons, and needles became a serious concern. Nationwide the alarm was sounded, and the once innocent act of trick or treating became cloaked in parental fear. Kids were no longer allowed to eat their candy straight from the bag, but instead brought it home to be inspected first. Some hospitals offered free x-ray services as a means of precaution.

Halloween has always held a special place in my heart, and I'm sure it always will. I hope you enjoyed reading a little of the fascinating history surrounding this holiday. There were many points that I did not write about, so if you know of anything to add, please feel free to leave them in the comments, or simply tell me if you like Halloween as much as I do!

Information in this post was found at various locations such as: Wikipedia,,,,, and