PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

“Mooooommmy!” shrieked Netta. Sobbing, breathless, Netta trembled.

“Netta, what on earth?” Mommy didn’t see any blood, but Netta was ghost-white.

“Netta, calm down and tell me. Take a deep breath, let it out. Now listen: You won’t be in trouble. Just tell me.” Mommy gathered Netta up close, waiting.

Through sobs, Netta said, “I went out to get a stick of wood like you said. I took it from the top of the window, and all the wood came crashing down, and–and—there was a HUGE black SNAKE that jumped out at me!”


(This story started writing itself the minute I saw the prompt. The original word count was 176. After the pruning session, this is what was left.)


Trick or Treat

Daily Prompt: Horror

(A masked stranger appears at your front door with a knife.


Stella was startled at the knock on her front door. It was late, almost midnight. It was very cold outside. She’d been on her way to bed, wearing her favorite warm pajamas and fuzzy slippers. She’d just finished creaming her face when she heard the knock.

BAMBAMBAM! It repeated, just as loud.

Uneasy, she scooted into her bedroom and snatched her pistol from the nightstand drawer. She unlocked the safety, chambered a round, and turned off all the inside lights as she made her way to the door. She flipped on the porch light, and was instantly thankful for the fan-shaped window at her eye-level.

Someone–a man? It was hard to tell–wearing a hood that left nothing exposed except for his eyes, visible through the slits in the hood. When Stella called out, “Who is it? What do you want at this time of night?” se heard no response. Again, three loud, fist-pounding raps on the door.

Dangerous hooded man holding knife. A dangerous hooded man standing in the dark and holding a shiny knife. Face can not be seen stock photography

“I’m not going to open my door until you identify yourself and tell me what you want. And take off that hood! You think I’m just going to open my door and invite you in for tea?”

Stella was terrified, but she wouldn’t let it show. No way would she open her door. “I have a gun, and I know how to use it!”

“Open up, you foolish woman! I’ll get in another way if you don’t.” The voice was raspy, deep, and scary.

Stella made sure the deadbolt was in place. Still operating in the dark, she made her way to her cell phone where she’d left it by her favorite chair. Hands shaking, she picked it up and punched 9-1-1. It rang once, then again, and then went silent. At the same time, a window from the kitchen area shattered, and she knew someone was in the house.

She tried the phone again. “It won’t work,” growled the Voice. It’s disabled. Now, just stay where you are and I won’t hurt you too much,”

Stella raced to the front door, fumbled at the deadbolt. Her fingers were shaking and sweaty, and slipped off the knob just as a very strong arm came around her neck. He pulled her tight against his chest, pinning her left arm. She felt the prick of a sharp blade under her ear.

“Don’t be stupid,” growled the Voice. “We need to chat, you and I. You can’t —“

“Boom!” Stella’s gun went off as she pulled the trigger, aiming the best she could with her gun hand caught between them, and the Voice screamed. And screamed. He pushed away from her, falling to the floor, cradling his right leg just above his shattered knee. The knife went sliding under the sofa. Stella figured that was a good place for it.

Keeping her gun pointed steadily at the intruder, she squatted down out of his reach while he writhed in agony. “If you make a move I don’t like, I’ll shoot the other knee, you jerk.”

She got up, walked behind him, and yanked on his hood. He looked up at her, fury in his eyes and agony all over his face. “You didn’t need to do that, Stella. I was just having a little fun with you.” He groaned when she walked around and kicked his wounded leg. She kicked it again, for good measure, and brought tears to his eyes.

” I can’t believe you,” she yelled. “What a filthy rotten thing to do! There’s something WRONG with you! And you and I? We’re done, you hear? DONE!

She went to the front door, unlocked the deadbolt, opened the door wide. She went back and grabbed him by his hair, pulling him behind her while he kicked with his good leg, screaming and begging. She got him out the door, rolled him off her porch.

“Aren’t you going to help me? You can’t leave me like this!” he cried.

“Yes, I certainly can. Go have fun. You’ve earned it.”

She slammed the door behind her, went back upstairs and picked up her landline. It buzzed. Good, he hadn’t disabled it, just her cell. She called 9-1-1 again, made her report and then put on a robe. As she went back down the stairs, she heard the siren.

Stupid guy. What a way to end a relationship.


Writing prompts: Horror!

You wake up to a world in which all prisons are shut down, releasing dangerous prisoners into your neighborhood.


People were terrified. Ever since the order had come down from the TOP that all prisons were to be closed, people were afraid to leave their homes–and afraid not to.

The reason for the closings? Well, the TOP said all prisons were inhumane, and were guilty of cruel and unusual punishment. Criminals, said the TOP, would be far better off to be rehabilitated in normal living conditons, not caged up like zoo animals.

The end result, of course, was that law-abiding citizens were now caged up in their own homes, desperately searching for ways to protect themselves from the freed prisoners. Very few ordinary citizens had guns of any sort, and they were secreted away from the prying eyes of the TOP.

People tried putting bars on all their windows, but the criminal just climbed to the roofs, broken holes with axes or hammers, and occupied attics wherever they chose. The owners of those houses were under a new sort of tyranny–become servants to the criminals, or watch your children die.

They tried alarm systems. Criminals laughed. Any experienced thief knew how to turn off alarms.

They tried dogs. Many dogs died of poison; others were killed with knives or bats; still others were shot. It seems the criminals had free access to guns.

The horror of constant bloodshed became a daily reality. No woman walked alone, anywhere. No child was left unguarded. Men who lived in neighborhoods learned to band together to provide safety for each other. And that, of course, led to vigilantism. The TOP was appalled at what he labelled “domestic terrorism” being used as a tool to keep the released criminals under some kind of control.

Secret meetings were held to determine how to fight the criminal population that now seemed to own the streets. The police had been weakened past the point of effectiveness. They quit, retired, resigned in droves, most of them either unable to find jobs or working security somewhere. People were desperate to figure out how to protect themselves from drug pushers, child molesters, rapists, murderers, thieves, arsonists–a long list of criminal threats that now had free access anywhere they wanted it.

Anarchy became the order of the day. Schools were unsafe. Youth programs were undermined by pedophiles. Vandalism and looting became daily activities. Stores were empty, boarded up.

And normal citizens became angry to the point of criminal behavior themselves, in an effort to regain the safety which had been a normal part of their lives before the prisons were shut down.

The TOP made sweeping announcements of proposed reforms; of penalties for vigilantism; of programs for ex-prisoners to receive counseling to help them overcome their nefarious tendencies. He mandated assigning specific areas in every city and town to be dedicated to released prisoners, building houses and apartments in which they could live, grocery stores, hospitals, libraries where they could get whatever help they needed and learn how to be productive citizens. Of course, such sweeping programs cost infinite amounts of money, which meant increased taxes for law-abiding people.

The TOP said, “Well, you’re not subsidizing prisons any more, so you should be willing to pay to help these poor unfortunate ex-prisoners get a leg up into a better life.”

The end result, much to the TOP’s dismay, was that law-abiding people grew disillusioned, angry, and desperate. Soon THEY became the criminals, and special forces were created to protect the ex-prisoners from the angry new criminals.

It was a horror story, a nightmare from which even the TOP couldn’t awaken.