The Screamers [Day 5]

I’ve still been writing on my flash fiction challenge, just a bit slower than before. It’s been fun tackling these prompts, and this one in particular turned out pretty intense!

This is part of the 31 Days of Art Challenge [#31DaysOfArt2020]. Go check out the tag on Instagram to see all the amazing art being made!

For today I wrote a flash piece titled The Screamers. Check it out below!


Great metal beams hung over my head, laced through with ivy. The once dark grey steel looked like it was made of clay from the oxidation that turned it into a copper color. This was a very dangerous stretch. The building’s remains could collapse at any point, and even though it was a skeleton of what it once was, that skeleton weighed many tons.

I walked across the pockmarked wooden floors, my feet knew where to step from my thousands of trips outside. Those too could crumble, but I took the risk. I had to.

I reached the end of the building. There was a gaping hole before me where the front of the cathedral used to be. Now it’s open and exposed to the elements. The only sign that they made the front of bricks was the brick archway that used to attach to the rest of the building.

I paused, gathering myself. I listened to my breathing inside the mask and felt my hands shake.

The building was a relatively safe passageway through the infested forest. The flying nemesis didn’t fly well in the contained space there. The old metal beams got in the way. Outside would be a different story. The trees were their hunting ground, and unlike humans who were poisoned by the toxic fumes that permeated the land, they thrived on it.

I gripped the satchel in my hand, mended so many times over the years it was made of five different fabrics now. If I survived and made it back, the bounty could last us for weeks, maybe even months if we were smart. And with the onset of winter only weeks away, we had no room for error.

I flexed my hands, my feet, and my legs, building myself up for the run. Picturing the path I would take, I went through it all again. During the old times the space was a neatly managed garden. The gardeners could never have envisioned the future battleground it would become.

With a last deep breath, I ran. The Screamers took time to attack once they pinpointed prey. I heard stories of people never encountering them during an entire run. Others said they recognized faces and followed schedules. They were smart; I knew that, but they were still animals. I didn’t think it was wise to give them even more power.

Taking long strides, I reached the overgrown garden and cursed. Some animal had dug up many of the carrots already, possibly a family of rabbits. Regardless, I grabbed their leftovers, yanking the scrawny remains out of the ground and tossing them into the sack. Next came the onions. There were more of them, but they were picked over.

I started panicking. If I pushed my luck and tried to go for quantity instead of quality, I’d waste my time, increasing the odds of an attack and we would still starve come winter.

An image of my sister came to me, disappointed and afraid at my meager haul. She and I would both know the truth: if she was too malnourished come winter, either she or her unborn child would perish. I couldn’t let that happen.

I turned and ran farther into the woods, making a decision that could easily cost my life. Everyone back home forbade me going farther than the garden, but they weren’t the ones with a pregnant sister. They weren’t fast enough to be a gatherer either, only I was. And I would not return with a certain death certification just because I was scared.

I nearly cried when I saw the first apple tree, its branches so weighed down with fruit that it nearly tore its own trunk in half.

Working quickly, I grabbed two and three apples at a time and dropped them into my bag. Several of them were eaten on by wild animals, and many of them were infected. I moved to another tree and another, feeling good about myself. Then I spotted a fig tree.

It was enormous, with limbs that were wide and easily climbable. I felt tears in my eyes as I pulled off the figs from the lower branches, dropped them into my nearly full bag.

As I pulled another branch down to get another bundle, I spotted a Screamer. It was hanging from one of the upper limbs, its great black wings wrapped around its giant body. I froze on instinct. I had heart their wings flap on the wind and felt their claws on my back when I was younger. That one had nearly gotten me up to its young before I freed myself and ran for my life.

Hardly anyone had ever seen one and lived to tell about it. My mind went back to all the warnings of why this orchard was forbidden. The Screamers were everywhere here, and I understood why. If an adult felt comfortable roosting on this giant fig tree, then others probably did too.

I backed away slowly, dragging my satchel over my shoulder. As I looked up at the fig tree again, I saw what I had missed before: Screamers covered it. They were asleep in the middle of the day—all ten of them. Were they nocturnal? Did they have a hunting ground? My mind went in a million directions.

One of them unfurled its wings and yawned. The wings stretched at least twice its body length. Its red eyes locked onto me—eyes that I had nightmares about as a child so I could never sleep properly. It opened its mouth and hissed, revealing its tiny pointed teeth as sharp as a razor. Then it screamed.

I turned and ran as fast as I could. My head hurt at the sound. My blood went cold as more cries joined in, so it created a maddening cacophony of sound. A lone Screamer’s shrieks could cause disorientation, but all of their screams together had me stumbling to the ground. My ears hurt, and I thought I might wretch, but I remembered my sister’s face and clawed back up to my feet. It didn’t matter if my head felt detached from my neck like a balloon. I had practiced this. I didn’t have to see to know my way.

Sprinting, I let my feet lead. I couldn’t see well, but I could spot stray foliage to avoid. The Screamers shrieked again, and I fell into a patch of upturned dirt. It smelled like a carrot and I nearly wept. If I was at the carrots, then I was almost home, almost to safety.

The flapping of big leather wings made a shudder roll through me. I hurled myself up to my feet and ran so hard my lungs burned. The flapping drew closer. More wings joined in and they gave a stomach tossing scream in unison. I screamed back at them, the only response I had left in me.

The brick arch, it was the cathedral! If I could just make it in there, I would be safe. It would all be worth it. Sharp claws dug into my shoulder, but I wrenched free of them and lunged for the archway. I landed hard on the rotten wooden floor, then got to my feet and kept running.

Only when I stood beneath the corroded metal beams did I look back. What I saw shook me to the core.

They crawled into the cathedral on the tips of their wings and their legs. They had pink faces with wet snouts and stumpy ears. Their eyes glittered in the shade, a series of smaller eyes creating a whole. One jumped up on the beams overhead and followed from above.

I didn’t look back again until I reached the shelter. I didn’t want to see them any closer than I already had.

When I dropped the satchel at my sister’s feet, I couldn’t say a word. It felt like my mind was a scrambled mess. I couldn’t speak for weeks.

It was a month before the Screamers stopped stalking around the entrance. At least as far as I could tell. Nobody wanted to chance leaving again until spring, and fortunately we had food enough to last us even longer than that.

END


I hope you enjoyed The Screamers!

I’ve also got a YA Horror novel coming out at the end of this month called The Seeking that’s been called “a dystopian science fiction masterpiece”. I also have a pre-order giveaway going along with it!

Chat With Me At Multiverse

Come see me at Multiverse this weekend!

This weekend you can attend a FREE virtual convention that covers everything from writing to fandom love. It’s a three-day con and there are going to be some amazing panels to watch. No need to sign up, just show up. They’ll have information going up soon on how to get on their Discord server so you can chat with folks in real time throughout the convention.

I’m going to be in a panel on Sunday at 1:00PM on Characterization: Crafting a Villain with some absolutely fantastic fellow authors. Panelists will be watching and commenting live on Discord in the #write channel. Come join our discussion on crafting villains!

In addition to the panel, I’ll have one-on-one mentoring opportunities available Sunday afternoon. Have you ever wanted to pick my brain on publishing? Or on writing? Or on whatever writerly problem you want? This is your chance! I’ll have 8 fifteen minute sessions available, Sunday afternoon after the panel. Pick a slot and you can chat with me on Zoom.

Here are all the main links you’ll need:

I’m super excited to get to chat with y’all one on one! There are also a lot of other folks doing mentoring too, including authors and editors. Some people will even be accepting pitches. This is honestly a fantastic free opportunity so make sure you take advantage of it!

Grab Some Discounted Books

Due to Amazon Prime Day, you can now catch up on a bunch of books for a discounted price. All of the books in the YA Fantasy Stolen series are now on sale, including pre-order copies of Chosen, due out March 23, 2021.

This also includes pre-orders for my YA Horror novel, The Seeking, which comes out 10/27 this month! I’ve been getting some incredible reviews so far for this book, and I’m just blown away by the feedback readers have given me on it.

Honestly this is a fantastic chance to load up on books, especially spooky books. All Kindle books from my publisher, Parliament House Press, are on sale through 10/14, so if you want to grab a series for way cheaper, now’s the time!

Happy Spooky Season, folks!

Blog Tour for The Seeking

We are almost two weeks away from the release of The Seeking and I’m thrilled to share the blog tour being hosted by Silver Dagger Book Tour.

They have everything you need to know about The Seeking, including the book trailer, an excerpt, a SUPER comprehensive Q&A with me, and a Giveaway! Winners will get an Amazon giftcard, a custom made bookmark, and a magnet with the incredible cover of The Seeking!

Every day from October 8th through November 8th, bloggers will be sharing about The Seeking on their sites. Go check out the full listing and maybe you’ll find some new book bloggers to follow!

Anatomy Class [Day 4]

Today’s prompt: Curious

This one turned a little more gruesome and disturbing than I thought it would, but I’m really happy with it! It’s one of those flash fic pieces that I could see expanding on one day to make a longer story. That said, I’m pleased with it!

This is part of the 31 Days of Art Challenge [#31DaysOfArt2020]. Go check out the tag on Instagram to see all the amazing art being made!

For today I wrote a flash fiction piece titled Anatomy Class. Check it out below!


She poked and prodded, her scalpel moving aside bits of flesh and scuttling beneath bone. Nobody wanted to be lab partners with Nora. She dressed in dark clothes, wore makeup too pale, and was far too quiet for comfort. It used to bother her, but once she became a junior in high school, Nora found it easier to deal with the snide remarks.

Anatomy was her favorite class, and she pushed aside taking AP Biology to fit the class into her schedule. The smell of formaldehyde was exciting. Each day she wondered what part of the body they would examine next. After each class, she wrapped up the desecrated remains of her cat and slid him into his bag and put him in the storage closet.

Nora called the cat Bones. She thought it was funny, but then one of the other students saw the name on her information sheet and the question was inevitable.

“Why did you name him Bones?” Kenny was a tall, scrawny kid with a mess of blonde hair that fell over his pale skin and brown eyes. He had to shake his head to keep his bangs out of his vision. Nora betted that his cat had a few strands of blonde hair in it.

Nora shrugged, “I figured it was appropriate.”

He continued to look confused as she explained.

“By the time I’m done with him, that’s all that’ll be left of him.” She gave him her best creepy smile.

Kenny’s eyes went wide, and he turned green. “You’re sick, you know that?”

It was fun getting under Kenny’s skin—and easy. Truth be told, she had a black and white cat named Bones when she was little who got killed in the road. But the other story made him cringe more.

Nora turned back to her cat. His torso was splayed out in front of her, two halves of his midsection neatly bisected. She needed to pull out the stomach and check its contents.

Turning the scalpel to the side, she worked to remove the tiny stomach of Bones the cat. Only something caught her attention farther back. A shadow moved, seeming to scurry from one side of the cavity to the other. Nora felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Was it an insect? Maybe a mouse? Her mind tried to come up with a million reasons as she slid the scalpel farther back.

It struck something.

It wasn’t solid feeling like the rest of Bones’ carcass. Instead it was soft and pliable.

Nora leaned in closer. She was tempted to grab her phone to shine a light, but she didn’t want to get cat guts on her phone. Angling the scalpel to one side, she spotted two yellow eyes staring back at her from the shadow huddled far back in the cat’s chest cavity.

She gaped, watching as the eyes blinked once, then again. Whatever it was, it was alive.

“Don’t kill me,” a rattling voice hissed out.

Nora felt her heart leap into her throat. “What—?”

The yellow eyes darted right toward the scalpel. It was scared. Nora settled into her chair and put the scalpel aside. The shadow unfurled itself to take up the cavity again. It was larger than she expected.

She glanced to Kenny, the only one close enough to hear or notice, but he was trying to flirt with two girls on an opposite table. It wasn’t working.

“What are you?” She asked the shadow.

“I am a demon.”

She smirked, “Aren’t you a little small for a demon?”

It puffed itself up in outrage. “I am a cat demon. This cat was my host.”

“Okay,” she said, looking around once more. “If you’re a demon, why are you living in a dead animal?”

The shadow jerked occasionally like a nervous cat. It would be kind of cute if it wasn’t in a carcass.

“I got stuck…” It shook itself.

“Let me see.”

The shadow leaned to one side and Nora saw that it was stuck, likely pinned when the cat went in cold storage.

“Hang on,” Nora reached inside with the scalpel, twisted once then again, and a snap heralded the tiny demon’s escape.

He slid out of the carcass, shivering from head to tail. Nora had never seen a cat demon before, but he looked weak. She opened a pocket in her skirt, resigning herself to having to wash it that evening. The demon didn’t say a word but slid in a smoky fluid motion over Bones’ body, across the table, and landing with a cold thump in her pocket.

She smiled, then turned to see Kenny staring at her. His face froze in utter disgust and he looked like he would never recover. He must have seen the cat demon. Hell, he might have heard the conversation.

“What the fuck was that?” he whispered, his entire body rigid.

“My demon friend,” Nora said with an impish smile. “Didn’t you know I commune with demons?”

Kenny backed away, shaking. He ran into the table of the two girls he was flirting with earlier, knocking their dissection tray and partially dissected cat onto the floor. As the metal hit the tile, Kenny jumped almost a foot into the air, screamed, and ran out f the room. Nora laughed. The cat demon in her pocket purred.

END


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Feel free to share or leave a comment below about what you thought!

I’ve also got a YA Horror novel coming out at the end of this month called The Seeking that’s been called a mixture of A Quiet Place and Hunger Games. I also have a pre-order giveaway going along with it! If you enjoy my horror flash fiction, be sure to check it out too!