It’s Halloween everyone! I know your all ready to be someone else tonight…or at least I know that I’m ready to be someone else for a night!!  Alright, one extra rule today.  Your story has to be not only scary, but bone-chilling.  I don’t want blood and gore, or mess and fuss.  Think Poe, Lovecraft, and King when you’re writing for this story challenge, and give me something that will keep me awake tonight.   If you’ve forgotten, here are the rules:  I provide you with three words, a verb, a noun, and a random word.  You then use these to write a story.  Your story must be flash fiction (under 1000 words) and if you are going to post it in the comments, then please keep it around 500 words.  I’ll do my best to respond to all of the stories posted (or emailed to me), but I’m as busy as you are (maybe more), so I might not get to all of them.  Also, you may use any form of the words I post, but nouns must remain nouns, and verbs must remain verbs, etc.

Your words are:

Verb: Brainwash

Noun: Pupil

Random Word: Apt

If you never figured it out, ever story challenge this month contained the name, or a significant portion of the name, of a famous scary movie.  Also, the movies referenced got progressively better as the month went on, to end with Apt Pupil, probably my favorite horror movie of all time.

6 thoughts on “Story Challenge for Halloween!!!

    Rupert opened his eyes. He was in a dark room, lit only by candles. Rupert was strapped to several steel bars, obviously meant to restrain him. Around him, strapped to similar metal bars, were… things. Rupert had no other word for them. Fangs and claws were common themes, but there were other things as well; things with tendrils, things with wings. Some of them had no claws, just long fingers. Some of them had no hands, their arms just ended in wicked bone-blades. Many of them looked dead, but some still breathed. Others obviously WERE dead, but were still moving.

    “You’re awake. This will all go much faster if you’re awake when I begin.” Rupert’s eyes locked on an old man. It was that new court magician! Rupert had seen him riding through the farms.

    “You’re Master Kisbert!” he cried. Or rather, he tried to, but found his body wouldn’t answer him. Rupert’s mind raced. The court magician… he must be behind all the disappearances, and that meant the Duke’s son, Sir Griswald, was looking for them. If Sir Griswald was looking for them, then he would be rescued soon. At that, the door to the room burst open, and Sir Griswald strode forth in, armor shining. “Sir Griswald!” gasped Kisbert. “Perfect timing, I was about to begin my latest experiment. “

    “I thought you were done? Anyway, this weakling hardly looks like he’d make a good addition to our army.” Rupert’s world collapsed. Those… things… were an ‘army’? And Griswald was to lead them? As his thoughts shifted, the wizard spoke again.

    “Oh, this lad here won’t be a soldier. He will be my apprentice. And he’ll make a perfect pupil.” Griswald groaned. “You’re not going to try that ‘brainwashing’ thing again, are you? Remember how that turned out with the girls?”
    “You needn’t worry,” responded Kilbert. “I won’t be brainwashing this boy. I’ll be Transmuting him!”
    Griswald looked dumbstruck. “But won’t that turn him into a mindless creature? Not much of a pupil if you ask me.” Kilbert growled, “That’s the whole point of this EXPERIMENT. I will retain the creature’s mind while altering its body. Then, this boy will be the most apt student I could hope for. He’ll understand creatures. He’ll BE one!” Griswald raised an eyebrow, “Yes, whatever. I just came to check on your status. Father’s expecting me, but I’ll be back tonight. I expect the creatures by moonrise.” Kilbert brushed him away, “Don’t worry. They’re ready now. They just need final attunement.”

    As Griswald walked out of the room, Kilbert turned back to Rupert and began gesturing. As his fingers traced arcane symbols, Rupert’s mind grew hazy. The room shifted. Finally, his mind caught on one thought. ‘No matter what, I won’t be a slave of this wizard! I must remember who I am. I am Rupert. I am ME!’

    When his mind cleared, he looked at himself. He was surprised to see four arms, nicely thin and pale. The fingers of each hand ended in bone-like claws, and horns ran up the outside of each arm. He could feel horns on his head and claws on his toes. More interesting still, he could feel power shifting through his body. If he focused just right, he could…

    “… attuned. Now, free yourself. By now you should know how, and that will be the first test of your mind.” Kilbert stood back, looking satisfied, if tired. Rupert heard the command, but ignored it. His mind was focused on the powers flowing, gathering. With a thought, he shifted them to the locks holding him in place. With another, he twisted the locking mechanisms. With a third, he gently cushioned himself as he fell free. With a final thought, he remembered. ‘I am Rupert. I am ME. I will never serve this MAN.’

    “Excellent!” cried Kilbert. “What a splendid success! Oh, my STUDENT, I have so much to teach you. Soon…” There Kilbert’s words stopped. Rupert’s hands had closed the wizard’s throat, and his powers were even now coursing through the wizard’s body, draining it of life. As the shriveled husk of a corpse fell to the ground, Rupert looked around. His brothers were still, waiting, almost expectant. They were simple, but that would do. That knight wouldn’t return until moonrise. By that time, Rupert would have the army ready… for himself.

    Then, Man’s age would fall, and the Brethren would RISE!

    I tried for 500 words. I really did. I started at over 1,000.

  2. Hahaha, I like it. The concept is good, and the twist with Rupert at the end is well done. Generally you want to start a new paragraph every time someone new starts speaking. There’s a section in the middle where Griswald and Kilbert’s dialogue gets confused.

    I would also avoid the use of ‘strode forth into’ because it is counter intuitive. We generally associate the phrase ‘strode forth’ with leaving a place, so the use of the phrase when Griswald enters the room is kind of problematic.

    The only other thing that I would really change is the use of the phrase ‘shifting through him’ because it gives the impression that Rupert’s body is still changing. ‘Sifting through him’ is a similar expression that might work, but something like ‘flowing through him’ would probably be better, The story works as a whole, and it’s very fun and Halloweeny. I like it!

  3. Thanks. I tried to balance the sentences getting their own paragraphs and not having a result which was a bunch of single-line sentences, but the forum format is different than Word (who knew :p ).

    I take your point with ‘strode forth into’. I think I would have changed it if I had done more editing. I wanted to convey a powerful, confident, determined walk.

    As for shifting… I like it. I’m not entirely sure his body ISN’T still changing, and I want something more solid than just ‘flowing’. Yes, the power is moving through him, but it’s also changing as it does, and possibly changing him.

    I also thought about adding more talk about the disappearances, and maybe having changed-Rupert recognize some of the Brethren as people he knew before, but between the word limit, the limited editing, and not seeing a smooth way to fit it in, I left that stuff out.

  4. Yeah, flash fiction (fiction under 1000 words) is difficult. There is always something more that could, and probably should be added, but can’t.

    I actually like ‘sifting’ for that sentence. It keeps the idea that the power is flowing through him, changing him – possibly physically – without the necessity of still noticable physical changes. When you say shifting I think of flesh flowing, bones popping out of joint, jaw lengthening, and I think that this is obviously not what you are intending.

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