Welcome to the first edition of the Costumed Curses Entry Showcase! If you haven’t heard of the contest yet or forgot how to enter, click the image above to be taken to the main contest page. Only entries posted in the comments of the main contest page will be considered for our fabulous prizes.
If you want YOUR story featured between now and the contest deadline, enter early! I can showcase at most two per day, so if you procrastinate, others might fill up those spots first! Get your creepy on — and get your entry in.
Visit CurseMaster Kristin’s site for even more stories!
By Leslie Fulton
Pete hated it when the dog threw up first thing in the morning. It was Murphy’s way of telling him he’d slept in too late. If the kibble didn’t hit his bowl at the appointed time, Murphy would trot up the stairs, position himself just outside Pete’s bedroom door and ralph—a tight little package of yellow bile. He’d then give a small, smug doggy smile and flop to the ground, waiting expectantly.
Pete groaned. He could hear Murphy’s exaggerated vomiting. He heard the thump as his 70-pound Golden Retriever hit the floor. He could feel Murphy’s intelligent brown eyes staring through his door.
“I’m UP,” he muttered. He bent down to clean up the mess.
Something humanoid was lying in the middle of Murphy’s pool of vomit. He was about three inches long. The little being was wearing a white ruffled shirt that was open at the neck. His face was pale, with pronounced cheekbones and a sprinkling of red freckles on the bridge of his tiny nose. He had red hair that reached his shoulders. A tiny pointed green hat lay by his side. Pete picked him up to get a better look.
“Craig?” croaked Pete. His roommate had to see this. “CRAIG!”
Craig stumbled out of his room and knelt beside Pete, squinting.
“I think it’s a leprechaun,” said Pete, dubiously. He felt silly saying it.
“I think you’re right. Do you know what this means?” breathed Craig. “We’re rich. Pots of gold! You can buy that car and I can ditch my student loan!”
The leprechaun twitched in Pete’s hand. He sat up, glaring.
“Damnú ort,” spat the leprechaun. “Go dtachta an diabhal thú.”
“Not so fast with the curses,” Craig smirked. “We’re in control here.”
“Go n-ithe an cat thù, is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat,” the little being muttered. “But you do have a point. What do you want?”
“Your stash, of course,” said Pete. “We’ve read the fairy tales. We want your fortune.”
The leprechaun narrowed his green eyes. “That’s it?”
Pete put him down on the floor. “That’s it. You’re free to go. Otherwise my dog here will gobble you up again and this time you might not be so lucky.”
The leprechaun shrugged. “Sure,” he said. “You can have my stuff.” He grinned, sharp teeth glinting. He whispered something, his hands emitting sparks of green light.
“Where is it?” demanded Pete.
“Right in front of you.”
Pete and Craig stared at the floor. A small pile of gold caught the sun.
“That’s IT?” bellowed Craig.
The leprechaun shrugged. “I’ve always been lazy. That’s why your dog could catch me. I was napping instead of working.” With that, he snapped his fingers and disappeared.
Murphy trotted over, sniffed the gold.
And ate it.
Word count: 498
Omega-E spreads fast, but there is about a month from the identification of patient zero to the time when the dead start to outnumber the living. The CDC and the government try to manage the numbers, with mass cremations to control the spread of the disease and to keep the corpses from piling up. Americans are pissed. Until their fear trumps the need to mourn and bury their dead. The situation declines fast and martial law is declared, but it’s a token gesture, with soldiers stationed only where there are valuable resources the government deems “in need of protection.” In most of the cities and suburbs, there is no law anymore.
This makes gathering supplies a lot easier, but also a lot more dangerous. There are other dangers besides contamination. Looters, psychos. The marines guarding the supplies will shoot to kill with the slightest provocation. But the worst, other people like us, people whose desperate minds have turned black with panic. Sometimes you can actually see the madness, flapping around, like a bird with a broken wing, behind their too-bright eyes.
And then there are the Infected. Like zombies, only worse. They’re sick, shambling…and bleeding copiously. Omega-E is almost entirely hemorrhagic. Makes the cases of Ebola in Africa look like a head cold. The Omega virus dies more quickly outside of the body than it’s African predecessor, so chances of surface contamination are lower, but once infected…there is no recovery. The only upside is that incubation for Omega-E is brief, the tell-tale rashes, fevers, and vomiting appearing within 24 hours of contamination, with death only a few days later. This makes the Infected pretty easy to identify.
It also makes them very dangerous. Almost up until their last breath, usually dragged laboriously through lungs filled with blood, they are aware… and terrified. If the uninfected have a panic-bird behind their eyes, the Infected are infested with whole flocks. Like drowning victims, they’ll drag down anyone who chances close enough.
It’s easy to stay inside for the first week or so. As the pandemic ramps up, we make pilgrimages to the store and start setting supplies back. But eventually we’ll need to go out there again. We have a little girl. Even if we could live on next to nothing, she couldn’t. And although the electricity and water remain on for the moment, there’s no telling how long it will last.
I heard a rumor about the government instituting rolling blackouts to manage the power supply and “ensure continuity of service” for everyone. The pretenses are breaking down. Pretty soon they won’t even bother to lie to us.
We need a plan. A few more trips out for supplies. Right before dawn seems to be quietest. The pharmacy. The grocery. Guns if we can find them. And then we’ll go out into the country, or maybe the woods. Somewhere there are no people, where we can wait this thing out. It has to end sometime, right? Right…?
I hope you enjoyed today’s entry showcase! Show the writers some love in the comments section! Quick housekeeping note for the contest: make sure you read and adhere to the contest submission guidelines, and follow the #CostumedCurses hashtag on Twitter to get hints about what CurseMaster Kristin McFarland and I are looking for!
Love and curses,
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