Wednesday, October 24, 2012

55 Word Challenge: Week Thirty-Two

55 Word Challenge
Week Thirty-Two

Welcome back to #55WordChallenge and my first post for #CoffinHop 2012. Todays guest artist and judge is Erik Gustafson, author of Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon.
For those that are uninitiated, the 55 Word Challenge is a contest to write a story in 55 words or less. Not an easy task, but fun and I have been blown away by some of the entries. See for yourself, all the past contests can be found here.
The challenge begins at noon Eastern time every Wednesday and ends at noon Thursday. The story is based on one of three photo prompts and can be written in any genre you choose. My only request is no porn. I don't want to hear graphic details. If it is erotic, make it titillating, not obscene. I know that can be done and done well.

The story is to be posted in the comment section below, along with your twitter handle or email address, so I can contact you if you are the winner. If you don't want to list your email address, send it to me at I promise I won't distribute it, but if you are the winner I need a way to notify you and to send you your prize.

And what does the winner get? This purty badge for one. For two, a gift card for $5.00 from Amazon. The prize will be rewarded within about week or so, (sometimes I run a bit behind) and sent to your email. Also, I will be offering a monthly prize to the story I liked the best between the winners. That will be announced at the end of the month who gets the #55WordChallenge bumpersticker.
This is the Coffin Hop and I have some additional prizes for you. (Please hold the applause.) I am offering this Jezri's Nightmares Coffin Hop 2012 magnet to all #55WordChallenge participants. (to be mailed out at the end of the coffin hop.) To receive the magnet, I will need a mailing address. You can send that to me at Put Coffin Hop in the subject line.
I am offering a copy of Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon to one participant. To qualify, you need to work in all 3 prompts. Not an easy task. (You can thank my husband for that bit of inspiration. I think he refers to it as an over-achiever award.)

Ok, so on to the prompts!

Photo Prompts:

Erik Gustafson is a horror writer, working on his third novel. He spent 20 years in the United States Air Force, where he lived all over the world, including Iceland, Germany and in a tent for a year in Saudi Arabia.

 Always an artist at heart, he produced many paintings during his adventures. After his service, he settled down with his family (wife, two great daughters, 2 cats and a little white fluff dog) in small town Iowa, where he loves to volunteer at the antique carousel. Now he helps people with intellectual disabilities reach their potential and teaches psychology classes at a local college.

 He switched from a paint brush to a pen and is now a horror writer by night.

 He has had short stories published by Visionary Press, The Horror Zine, Crypto and Co., and various horror anthologies. His novels include “Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon” and the soon to be published “The Dark Trek Home”.

 Stop by his blog and say hi!


  1. Not eligible, but wanted to play along today.

    Dreams of the Dead
    By Lisa McCourt Hollar

    Soothed by the moonlight, Kit fell asleep beneath the tree, dreaming about Mayan’s and ancient rituals that celebrated the dead. Jolting awake, she heard screams of terror coming from the farm that lay in the hollow below. Confused by the deceptively peaceful scene, she began running for home when the first zombie lurched into view.

    Word Count: 55

  2. Jaguar Night

    Chimalli had feasted and danced on the eve of battle, knowing full well it might be for the final time.

    He left at dawn with the others, vowing to win their Jaguar skins or not return. Now, kneeling in the dark night, wind skirling the scrub trees, Chimalli knew for the first time what fear truly was.

    55 words @klingorengi

  3. Shifting Seasons

    The crescent moon rose through the bare aspens just as the sun sank behind the mountains. Winter darkness chased the humans back into their homes, leaving nothing but smoke against the sky.

    Kokopelli and His cousins emerged from ancient doorways to play a lullaby to the Summer world and welcome the sweet Autumn pageant.

    54 words

  4. Waiting

    Under a quiet little farmhouse, built on an idyllic hill by a lake, lurks a lair of demon imps. Soon, one night when the crescent moon shines through the birch trees they will come. They will come, playing their horns, for the young girl sleeping in her farmhouse bed, unaware of what fate awaits her.

    55 Words

  5. Tommy held Sally’s hand. Both were scared. He had to be brave for Sally. “Dad hurt you. That’s wrong.” He didn’t know where to go, or what to do. But he’d find a way to protect her. They looked down the hill at their home. “He won’t hurt you anymore.”

    55 Words

  6. Ending

    A once bright moon, now darkened by shadow, did little to hide the mini death of the tree.

    Leaves had fallen for one more time and empty branches moved slowly to the beat of autumns final song, while the wind smothered the tree in a last embrace.

    Silent now, until the rebirth of spring.

    54 Words

  7. I'm up against some stiff competition here, but I'll give it a shot:

    Lunar Portal

    A sliver of moon as gateway to another world, maybe the afterlife? On Halloween of each year, we look forward to seeing the violet heavens part for just a moment in time and grant us brief sight into the unseen, the unknowable, the Great Beyond. A split-second only, then gone. Celestial trick-or-treat...

    55 words

  8. I'm so sorry but my mind is simply burning too much (stupid cold) to put 55 words together in an interesting, intelligent way. Great art, though! I'll have to try this awesome contest next week. I'll be back later during the week, when the fever has gone back to hell.

    1. Thank you for your kind words about my paintings!

  9. The night was still black, but we left the cabin under the crescent moon to make the summit before dawn tried to arrive. We stored the instruments in the cave so we could climb unburdened. Only the music would keep The Nightbird from destroying everything. Already wisps of power prepared the world for endless slumber.

    55 words

  10. From her hiding spot beneath the boulder, she looked down on the house she had escaped that morning. She waited for the tiny sliver of a moon to hang between the birch tree's branches. When it did, the ancient paintings on the rock's underside would glow. The dancers would revel. The world would be reborn.

    55 words
    rachelle at dream dragon press dot com

  11. War of Life.

    From a lone house perched by the woods, came a gurgling scream.

    Day turned to night; the crescent moon illuminating the scene of horror below.

    Daybreak filled the sky with fiery colors, and a new voice echoed through the valley.

    It was an infant, wailing for his mother’s breast, having fought his way to freedom.

    55 words


  12. Howling winds whipped down the valley, casting shadows along the canyon walls.

    Hearing the elder’s tales, Camilla hoped to catch the Kokopelli spirits dancing on this All Hallows Eve. Hiding behind a great willow, she could hear their song, yet no one was in sight.

    Mischief-makers at their best didn’t like spies ruining their fun.

    55 words

  13. From a lonely hill at the edge of the earth, under a velvet sky and a fingernail moon, the tribe of lost souls danced their last; for when morning came the pied piper would rise and from his feigning slumber play a tune that nobody could resist, taking them all back to their skyward homes.

    55 Words

  14. Lots of competition..lots of cool stories too!! Whom shall I choose? Bahahhaha

  15. And hopefully more to come! Loving the stories today.

  16. The Moon
    By Heather Powers

    The moon shows through the trees like a lover caress. I stand under the tree and dance skyclad as the wind blows through my hair. The dance ends as the spirits gather near the circle, each one a whisper in the dark. They speak their truths to me as the night fades into the black.
    55 words

  17. Hunger
    by Heather Powers
    From the dark cave, I walk down the long road, thirst driving me mad, and see the house and hope that the people inside will sate my hunger. Each step closer brings a pitter-patter to my heart. As I walk to the door, it falls open and there is no one there. My mind shatters.
    55 words

  18. And They Listened On

    The moon smiled down as the boys played. From the cabin in the valley, Old Man Grover and Mrs. Rita sat rocking to the tune of horns carried on the wind. A smile touched his lips as his heart sank.

    “Mournful. Ever mournful they are.”

    “Yup. Death will do that to you.”

    And they listened…

  19. Lost Gods
    by Heather Powers
    The people of the tribe stood upon the cliff edge praying to the gods that never answer. They play their instruments to an empty sky as birds fly to the sun. Their bodies tire as the day moves on. A rumble finally comes from the sky as they play, and a voice booms, Awaken sleepers!
    55 Words

  20. Just a note: Only one entry per person counts for the contest.

  21. The townsfolk whispers about
    These night terrors
    Seeping inside us,
    Moving, overtaking until
    Our flesh begins to hack away
    At another living flesh

    Blood and bones --
    It's the headline now
    They ask: What madness is this?
    I know what. It’s
    Best left alone
    Just below the crescent moon,
    Underneath that old, cursed tree.
    55 words for the first photo prompt

  22. PIECES

    “It’s the sycamore behind her grandmother’s house. She camped out under it when she was little.”

    “I see. What about this one?”

    “A view of our cabin, from near the road.”

    “What about these rocks with the figures dancing on them?”

    “I told you, we don’t know that one! What’s going on with our daughter?”

    55 words

  23. I touched the moon with your soul, it escaped after I scrapped it off your bones, and while it flew through your skin, your screams died in the night.

    I touched the sky when I died, after you shredded me to pieces, years of love and hate, now we are one.


  24. Determined to elicit a response, he uncovered the first painting; a crescent moon peeking through a silver birch - nothing. The second; an isolated cottage - a single tear. The third; swirling fire, and dark figures - she screamed, leapt up, and drew him close. And with a kiss, she dragged him down into the hell she guarded.


  25. Each month, on the night of the cat-eyed moon, you can hear the woodwinds play. If you happen to live in a cabin across from the hills, you might even see them dancing. Beware being caught watching, though, or they will forever haunt your soul.


  26. They danced under the red sun, playing their lilting flutes. No one paid any attention to them other than a glance before moving on. They danced and watched the watchers, moving faster than the human eye could catch.

    People said they changed positions but no one could figure it out. They preferred it that way.

    55 words

  27. At dusk, I pull my cow from the barn. A damaged moon gives approval as I spike their drinks with her poison milk.

    At dawn, the men drink to life. Their silhouettes look like dancing kokopelli playing his song. But I know they are frenzied brutes wild with fire, trying to pull out their tongues.

    55 words

  28. #55WordChallenge is now CLOSED. If you entered, please email your mailing address to me so I can mail the Jezri's Nightmares Coffin Hop Magnet to you. Send address to Put Coffin Hop in the subject line.