|"Boodoo" by Victorrrmz - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons|
Before I announce the winners I'd like to thank everyone who entered. The standard of entries was high and I enjoyed reading through them. Thanks also to everyone who helps support the contest by reading the winning stories and by sharing the links - your support is much appreciated and please continue to do so.
And now for the winners:
- First prize of a £50 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Jaime Villarreal for his story 'Share'
- Second prize of a £20 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to A. W. Hendry for the story 'Dolly Doll'
- Third prize of a £10 Amazon or PayPal prize goes to Nathanael Munn for his story 'The Soul Snatcher'
Share by Jamie Villarreal
Her name is Clarissa. That's what her name tag reads. She works at the gas station on the corner. Every time I walk in there to buy gum, she offers me a unique smile. One that has meaning behind it. Maybe there's something that she wants to share with me. What could it be? No one ever smiles at me like that. It makes me want to know everything about her. Even, if it kills me.
I step through the door. The bell jingles overhead, announcing my entrance.
“Hello,” the clerk says. “Welcome to Peachy King's Bookstore.”
I come here at least once a week to browse through art books. The clerk acts like she's never seen me before. Clarissa recognizes me. She doesn't say anything, but at least, she recognizes me. I should reach over this counter and strangle her until she passes out. Then, she'd recognize me. She'd never forget my face, that's for sure.
“Is there anything in particular that you're looking for?” asks the clerk.
“Magic,” I reply. “Books on magic.”
“Magic tricks.” She points toward the middle of the store. “Third aisle. On your left. Can't miss it.”
“No,” I reiterate. “Real magic.”
“Real magic?” The look on her face is one of arrogance, not inquiry.
I'm thirty years old. Why would I want to start learning magic tricks? I want the good stuff. I want to cast spells. Sure, magic tricks might make a girl grin with intrigue, but I want magic that will make her open up to me. Share things with me.
“Voodoo,” I say, hoping the bimbo gets the hint. “Curses.”
“Occult Philosophy.” She rolls her eyes and points toward the back of the store. “Last aisle. Entire section on the right. Knock yourself out.”
Before long, I find exactly what I'm looking for and take the book home. I don't have all the required materials to make this thing. It's called an all-seeing poppet, a tiny doll made of black and red yarn with crimson beads for eyes. It's pathetic when I finish, but it will have to do. I don't have much time.
In the morning, I enter the gas station. I'm met with that same unique smile. I pay for my gum and hand the all-seeing poppet to Clarissa.
“What's this?” she asks, raising a brow.
“A gift,” I reply. “A good luck charm.”
“Glad you think so.”
“Not sure what to say.” She shrugs with her palms turned up. “Thank you.”
“It's just a little something to remember me by.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing.” I turn to walk out.
Later that day, I completed the spell from the book by hanging myself in the backyard. It was a few days before they found my body.
Today, Clarissa has me hanging from her rear view mirror. I was hoping it'd be a necklace. She still thinks I'm cute. She looks at me with that same beautiful smile and shares with me her dreams.
The Dolly Doll by A. W. Hendry
Jacobson sat in serene silence; slumped in the ancient chair of his grandfather. Its wood was warped and the upholstery frayed, *in many places the stuffing poked through the age darkened fabric. He had been playing with the doll again. He held it loosely in his lap.
I walked through the doorway from which I had been observing Jacobson. I made no effort to enter stealthily, for the clatter of my hobnailed work boots would have made such an effort pointless. The sound they made in conjunction with the heavy oak floorboards was a vulgar intrusion into the peace and quiet of the room. Despite the noise, Jacobson did not move, nor in any way indicate that he was aware of my arrival.
The small room was dark despite the tall window occupying much of the north facing wall, its grimy panes bestowing the light with a russet sheen that matched the dark wood of the floor and walls. Spine cracked, yet unread books lay scattered about the floor. There had been little reading done in this house since the arrival of the doll. The furnishings were mean, consisting of merely two chairs and a small bookcase, its shelves holding nothing but a thick layer of dust. I took the chair opposite Jacobson which, whilst not as ancient as his grandfather’s chair was in no better condition.
It was now my time to play with the doll.
I had been working all day under the terrible sun in the garden where there were no dirt caked windows to filter the burning rays: working for Jacobson as I had worked for his mother and father before they passed. I had been toiling all day and now it was my turn and it wasn't fair that he was here first.
I uttered his name, a whisper really, conscious of the placid silence I was disturbing. He did not respond. I spoke his name a second time and still nothing. I pulled my t-shirt from my pocket, mopping my brow before slipping it on. This room had a chill compared to the blistering heat of the garden.
It wasn't fair that he had it now. I leaned forward, the chair loudly protesting my movement, and reached for the doll. Jacobson’s hand clenched around the doll’s midriff, his first reaction to my presence. I spoke his name softly, told him that it was my turn, that I deserved some time with the doll. He did not respond. I reached again and his hand clenched tighter, drawing the doll closer to his stomach. A trail of spittle wound its way from the corner of his mouth through three or four or five days worth of stubble.
I reached across and grabbed the doll by one of its delicate little hands. He made a noise of protest. I had been watching his face, his mouth had not moved. I looked down at the doll. It was looking at me. Looking at me with Jacobson’s eyes.
The Soul Snatcher by Nathanael Munn
Suddenly, a noxious odor sloshed its stench into Davids sinus canals. His stomach convulsed and knotted. His chest burned as an ebony frothy spume of foulness belched from between his clenched lips. David's thoughts collided in a cloudy tempest of malformed shapes that jack-hammered visions of sparkling fluorescent hues of carnelian, lapis and emerald.
His mind repeatedly flashed images of spiders, worms, beetles, cockroaches, maggots in a tumultuous sea of rotting foulness. The insects clawed, chewed, swarmed, crawled, and slithered. David could feel the the infernal things on his body but was powerless to act. He tried to let his mind focus on how he got there hoping to bring himself back to some semblance of reality.
"I lifted a heavy multi-colored canvas cloth that opened into a small tented room as an offshoot to the main freakshow exhibit thorough fair. At first, I peered in and when I felt secure, ventured in. I remember hearing the cloth drape hit the ground kicking up dust behind me.
The first thing I noticed was a small wooden table across the room. On top of the table was a small black yarn doll with red button eyes with red cross stitching for a nose and mouth. It lay innocently in a lighted glass display box. Yes thats right a doll.....“I paid an extra dollar to see the childs toy."
The puppets seemingly childish expression gripped Davids motor skills tugging his body forward as if it were a puppeteer. His limbs became heavy, slumberous and buzzed with static, and somehow his legs trudged forward.
He felt malformed, disfigured, his head, hands and feet ballooned his torso swayed like a hog carcass on a meat hook. His tongue tasted heavy with a thick coat skunk spray. Sweat pooled in the folds of his skin. David’s legs wobbled.
He felt words fermenting and vibrating deep in his diaphragm. Then words lethargically erupted upwards through the narrow tunneling of his windpipe, only to escape past his lips in high pitched moans, grunts and nonsensical utterances.
His arms oozed copperish lather. Driblets of the diseased sickness dripped in long stringy strands and pooled on the ground in a crimson yolky slush.
A long abhorrent appendage shot out from the doll through the glass case. It slithered across the room and slid it's way up David's leg. It burrowed into David's stomach then pushed upwards just under the skin viciously tearing through cartilage, gristle and flesh it's tentacle wrapped around David's rib cage then pulled itself higher. The frigid caliginous appendage pushed through his ribs then ensnared his pumping muscle. It's calloused, elongated, stringy, spectral fingers wrapped with delivery around his soul squeezing it free of purity and justice.
Davids eardrums burst loud pitches of a Sirens wail and Banshee's scream.
The last visions David had was of demonic debauchery, beastial copulations, angelic blasphemies, and depravities coated in bursting pustules.
The doll, the soul snatcher from Satan’s playroom left nothing but a collapsed pile of gelatinous crude.