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).

Motheaten & Drowning

Each morning you wake to new holes in your vision, new sharp-edged gaps; each morning you wonder what they will take from you.

At first it was only ever small things, easily unnoticed, spare chargers and half-forgotten souvenirs, the remains of a meal. Nothing that mattered.

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Antivenom & Vampire

Slipping into the club, music pounding at your ears, in your bones, the thrum of life and song and dance; friends with you for a moment then gone in the kaleidoscope whirl, torn apart, joining the crowd–

And you go with them, lost in light and sound and movement.

The noise is inside you, it is you, filling your motions with beautiful Purpose; twirling through the crowd, intersecting and diverging, no partner lasting more than a few moments–that's not what tonight wants of you.

Your friends' faces flash by you, laughing, screaming–

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Moon Phases, Periphery, Rope

Through the fringes of the world She weaves her charms, smooth silver threads laid across rooftops and knotted umber sewn through sidewalk cracks.

Each day brings with it a different color, a different place, all unremarked by the sightless things who think the world theirs.

Her web weaves loosely through forgotten places and tightly through those much attended but hardly seen, enmeshed in the set dressing of lives lived without pain. So much remains unseen, unremarked, in those places; so much detail lost beneath comforting security.

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The Witchling's Familiar

When you first met her, running to catch the bus on a crisp autumn day, you hardly thought to notice her. Just another artsy witchling walking to the park to sketch the sigils falling leaves trace and listen to the world's voice.

Good fashion sense.

Way out of your league.

Heavens know that the city is full of witchlings just like her.

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Cocoon & Bloodbath

Each layer went on easier than the last, cloying red salvation closing over your bare skin, burying you deeper and deeper. At first the brush's rough hairs hurt, tore your skin and sent your own red welling up, but by the third coat you could hardly feel a thing.

The pain brought to mind her warnings, that she would not be gentle and that this would hurt–that your claustrophobia might make this process unpalpable, that if you broke the cocoon she would not be able to wrap it around you a second time. Hurt filled you with fear.

Yet when it faded, when crimson sheets bound you too tightly for you to move or see or feel, so too did your fear. You drifted there as she worked, almost outside your body; thinking of it only to idly consider how much of the process might yet remain before you.

After a time, you did not even think of that.

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The Lake In Your Basement

She hears the water dripping, deep below, just at the edge of her senses. The rhythmic tapping of something that's not rain, not an unquiet faucet, down where there should only be silence and the low wooden sounds of the house rearranging.

If only she could stay asleep.

The door to the basement sticks, doesn't want to open, wood swollen by damp and grown willful with disuse, but she still makes it open.

Her force sends her stumbling down as it finally admits her, grasping for a railing which is no longer there, toes touching water–

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Ritual, Parasite, Eyes

You welcomed it in, eagerly brought it into your body; all that foggy liquid that flowed from nothing into your chalice, hardly contained by the force of your bindings, the strength of your spells.

It shone so brightly in the sputtering candlelight.

You hardly waited for the last of the spell to fade before you brought it to your lips, gulped it down in a single mass; it tasted so right flowing down your throat, thick and rich and savory, the chalice never seeming to empty.

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Candles, Abyss, Insects

The chittering chaos of countless insects rises from the emptiness before you, the grating noise of chitinous limb against shell, of mandibles gnashing and antenna curling in anticipation–

"No, that's not it at all. Look again."

Nine candles ring the pit, eight pinning the world into place and the last opening it up, each burning with the power of the turning year; inside the circle the hardwood gives way to churning void, to vast things moving beneath, strange crustaceans shifting by candlelight–

"You're so close, witchling. Again."

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In The Air & Candy Gore

Each slash of the knife, each thrust of the blade, sends great gouts of sweet red goo splattering across the floor, pouring down to fill the punch bowl below; celebrants clamber up on unsteady chairs, dirty shoes tearing at the paper tablecloth, to reach inside–

Eager hands press inside deeper than seems possible, tear at tender tissue, come out sticky-red and full of treats–individually wrapped candies and plastic toys, squishy organs making such silly noises as they deflate on the ground, the spurting mass of a sugary heart–

A dozen feet away, out of splatter distance, the band strikes up a jaunty tune; little voices rise in happiness, weaving into the music in dissonant unison.

Someone slips a gag into the pinata's mouth; how rude of it to try to disrupt the fun!

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Incense, Red Veil, Plants

The willows' leaves hang heavy and low, a cascade of crimson tears soaking up the lake's polluted water, planted by some long-ago witch to decorate a pathway through her estate; but she is long gone now, and her gardens have dwindled to be nothing more than a park.

It is a good park, mind, sometimes called one of the city's shining jewels (though only by poets and brochures); on most days it's full of picnickers and joggers, stray students playing games on the lawns and witchlings praying for luck at the tomb hidden on the north bank.

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