October Prompts

category archive

Each October I write stories from a list of prompts (in 2021 assembled from art prompts, in 2022 my own #EmptyOctober prompts).

Jack-o-lantern & Masked

Every so often a fuss is made about folk dolls, those odd little half-living homunculi; beings of distilled purpose and steady decay, straw and sticks and hollow gourds.

People rediscover them, and wonder why they're not in wider use.

Listen for a moment and I'll tell you 🧵

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Possession & Bruises

Once, long before, you wondered why the witch–your witch, now–was always covered in bruises, why her skin was forever a tapestry of slowly fading marks, all those purples and yellows hiding the warmth of her skin.

Once, you wondered why.

But then you died.

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Banishment, A Familiar Song

It always sounds the same, that echoing chant, those pounding feet and snarling faces; look, look! See what you have done, see the crimes you have committed against Decency, against the People, against everyone who sought you out to ask for what you offered.

How horrid, how criminal! How dare you.

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Herbs, Moult, Amputation

The poultice stings as it presses against her splitting flesh, as the cool liquids inside seep out into the painful heat radiating from her back. She does her best not to scream, not to wince, and her failure is rewarded with a Look, disappointment more potent than any fist.

She buries her face in the bed, hides her tears as the second poultice presses against her shame, against the burning red streaks stretching and tearing her skin as they swell and throb inside the small of her back, as lances of Wrongness skewer her to her bed.

It goes on easier than the first, spreading numbness stealing its bite; no new tears mar her eyes, though they are already red and bitter, her carefully formed mask ruined by the knowledge of what she is.

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Slimy Stitches

It is understood that ⸤distillation⸣ is a process by which ⸤slimes⸣ maybe be both concentrated and made more amenable to their ⸤purposes⸣. However, this process does not reduce their ⸤curative properties⸣ when applied to a ⸤garden's components⸣.

Through the application of a ⸤purpose-made object⸣ to a fully ⸤distilled slime⸣ a form of thread may be produced with minimal cost to the surrounding ⸤garden⸣.

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Amulet, Shadows, Growth

By the time you find the secret door you're almost ready to give up and call it a day (well, a night. Can't rob the necropolis during the day!). Maybe this tomb was never finished, this mausoleum never occupied.

Maybe it's just a dead end! A trick. It's been known to happen.

Besides, your lantern's starting to sputter, the last refill of oil on your belt hanging with the weight of finality. If you waste it on a dead end then it'll be weeks until you can scrounge up enough for another attempt, maybe months before you can sneak in again.

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Apothecary, Limbo, Medical

She only went to the witch as a last resort, after years of being shuffled between doctors, of mortifying exams and racks upon racks of bloody vials. And, of course, pain. Always pain, always the ebb and flow of agony filling her and fading away with no rhythm she could hear.

She wasn't stupid, no matter how her mind was fogged; she knew that witches were a last resort, dangerous and mercurial. That's what she had always been taught, what she'd always heard in breathless news reports about children plucked from their beds and remade into new forms.

(Always "children" for some reason, even though they were invariably legal adults with their own lives and minds, always treated as if they were dead even though they had simply become something different. Always interviewing the parents, not the transformed. How very odd.)

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The Angel's Phone Booth

Feral angel girl sitting in the basement, far from her flock's nests, filthy light splintered by broken windows falling all around her.

It reminds her of her halo, in a way.

Letting it fill her senses feels the same as the Thing used to feel in her mind.

Years ago someone dragged a whole-ass payphone into the basement, just pulled it right out of the ground and tossed it down. It still sparks form time to time.

Angel doesn't know why, for all the time she spends looking at it, but it's convenient that it's already here.

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Crystals, Window, Decapitation

"Why!" (slam) "won't!" (slam) "you!" (slam) "die!"

She brings the window down on your neck again and again, each impact sending fresh cracks shooting through your body's smooth glass, reopening the old ones you had so laboriously sealed earlier in the day.

A passerby glances at you, curious about the noise; you do your best to smile back, to ward off his attention. It's easy enough not to wince, to play this off as just some game.

It's not like you have proper nerves anymore, after all!

After a few moments he keeps on walking.

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Eyeless Garden

A ⸤garden⸣ was once a place with plants and paths, ordered according to forgotten aesthetic principles. It was generally understood to be undesirable for the garden's ⸤components⸣ to retain their eyes, so as not to unsettle visitors and to provide them with drinks.

The drinks offered by paths were typically rich and metallic, sometimes fortified with ⸤powdered calcium⸣.

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