Saturday, October 9, 2010


Okay, so I said I wanted scary…but October’s prompt actually made me think of scary in a new way. The prompt comes from Darlene Beck-Jacobson, who can be found online at She sent this phrase: everyone has them.

…And here’s what I came up with:

…Until The Laughter Dies
Holly Schindler

I figure we probably look a little like fifty-year-olds in prom dresses, the way we’re clustered on sleeping bags in front of the TV.

I mean, seventeen is way too old for slumber parties. But when Marie flunked the over-the-counter pregnancy test, we all decided to celebrate old-school. Even gave it a theme—80’s night, complete with tightrolled jeans and Mom’s VHS tape of FOOTLOOSE. Mom’s gone for the weekend, after all, and will never know we tunneled through her memorabilia.

“To not being forever linked to Dylan Street,” Marie shouts, and we touch the tips of our unwrapped candy bars in toast.

We laugh even louder than the girls on the tape, rolling into a heap of out-of-date concert T-shirts.

Until the laughter dies, along with the lights.

Blackness saturates my basement.

Lacey and Vanessa laugh again, snickering like the little girls we’re pretending to be.

“…breaker box,” I mumble, but as I grope through the dark, the door to the stairs slams shut. The unpredictable lock clicks.

Snickers again from the cluster of sleeping bags, softer this time. This laughter has a question mark behind it.

“I’ll—just—“ I say, pointing to the door to the outside.

A knock explodes against a window near the ceiling. Vanessa shrieks. I jump, turn, but darkness has dyed the glass, too.

The knock returns. Three knocks, this time. Each. Spaced. Evenly.

I grab a flashlight, fighting the fear that turns my arms slack. I feel every breath in the room being held as I inch toward the window.

When I flick on the beam, the window fills with hunter-orange—a ski mask. And an angry snarl of a mouth.

The basement explodes with screams; I drop the flashlight and the face disappears.

The door to the outside rattles beneath repeated blows.

I try to tighten my trembling fingers around the shaft of the putter Mom left beside the couch.

But I should have reached for the deadbolt instead.

The knob turns; the door creaks. Screams pelt my shoulders like winter rain.

Four against one, I think, trying to lean on odds.

I’ve barely started to lift the club when the ski mask steps in, snatches it from my hand.

I have nothing; I’m absolutely naked with defenselessness. I open my mouth, but I’ve lost my scream.

Moonlight stretches through the open door, lands across the ski mask.

Screams circle like sirens all around me as Marie, Lacey, and Vanessa charge to my side. Screams intensify as the man in the doorway grabs the mask beneath his chin and begins to peel it.

Lights pop, illuminating his face.

And Dylan Street dissolves into gotcha laughter.

The girls at my sides moan. Their laughter returns—staccato, hesitant. Still—laughter.

I try to shrug, playing like I’d suspected as much. I’m humiliated by the goose bumps racing down my arms…until I realize everyone has them.

Even Marie, who already knows that the only thing Dylan’s good at is scaring girls.

See what I mean? Really—what’s the scariest event here…the ski mask or the over-the-counter test? We all face really frightening things in our everyday life…far more frightening than any slasher movie!

Thanks to Darlene for giving me a bit of a fresh take on scary…and congrats to her as well! She’s now in the running for that holiday prize.

…And stay tuned for the details for November—coming soon! (I’ve got a super-fun idea for that one…)


  1. Thanks for using my prompt Holly. If readers/writers would like to see where I got it from, they can view my Flash Fiction for October on the blog from my website: The title of my story is "Everyone Has Them." Happy Halloween.


  2. Darlene--love the skeletons in the closet! Thanks for linking to your own flash fiction!

  3. Holly,
    I'm enjoying being part of your Flash Fiction experiment. Can't wait for the next installment.


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