Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Two years ago I was honorable mention for the HP Lovecraft Micro fiction writing contest. I thought my last year’s entreaties were even better than the original but I didn’t place. I think it was more because of the quality of the other submissions than because they weren’t as good as the first years.
This year I have been working with a team coming up with a micro fiction story a month. Here are two of the ones I like the most. Tell me what you think. Can I improve them, Are they good, but not really Lovecraftian? I would love some feedback.
The Horror at Hooverville
By David Heath
Word count: 494
A cold February wind blew through the city of ramshackle tents. Where the poor had gathered to live and in some cases die. Named after the failed prophet of commerce and commander in Chief, Hoovervilles had sprung up around the East Coast, like mushrooms after a rainstorm, in the wake of the Great Depression. Many of the inhabitants, like Corporal Pettigrew had served in The War to End All Wars. They returned with scars on their bodies and in their souls, with a promise of a ‘Chicken in every pot, and a car in every garage.’ They were lucky if they had shoes and a squaw blanket, from a charity that had originally intended for a reservation.
The wind bleed though the canvas tent’s wholes, as Corporal Pettigrew’s body, shivered in his sleep, frozen yet feverish. Like every night he dreamt of the trenches, of the gasses, of the Maximum guns and of the ocean of death.
The first sign that something was wrong in the shanty town, was the sound of a sharp piercing whistle. A sound known to every veteran that they were doing to throw the lives of their comrades away against the trenches and fortifications of the enemy.
Then from the ground arose the acidic smelling tendrils of the gasses. The gases defied the direction of the wind, moving as if they were tentacles controlled by some semi-corporeal octopus. Unlike the bane of Ypres, instead of entering the body and attacking the lungs of its victims the phantom gas would wrap around his neck and strangle him to death.
The panicked shanty town residents ran from the poisonous coils, only to find their escape blocked by eerie undead soldiers. Troopers in spike helmets, with faces a collage of part skull and part flesh, their uniforms tattered with the holes from the bullets that laid them down and their eyes aglow, in blood red light of the arcane magic that resurrected them, as if they were dragon teeth warriors, charges with sending the living back to Hell with them. On their bayonets were undead Belgium children, from the propaganda posters. Only these terrible infants did not want revenge on those who has skewered them, but on the living. They hissed and scratched at the citizens of Hooverville, with small clawed fingers.
The triplane dove on the helpless people below. Flack had blasted holes so large in its fuselage and wings that it should not have been able to stay in the air. Fire erupted from its engine, but it keep flying and it keep killing. Its pilot a Skelton in a bishop’s miter, laughing with maniacal glee, as those below his high place had no place to run.
The people of Hooverville lay dead on the frozen ground or dispersed into the surrounding forests. Corporal Pettigrew still lay asleep, under a stolen blanket, and dreamt his horrific dreams, his body both frozen like ice and consumed with a burning fever.
By David Heath
Word count: 496
After her beloved husband died, and she retired from her job as the chair of a local university’s physical anthropology department, Imogene Whitehall had a lot of time to spend in her garden. For over two decades she had puttered in the little patch bringing her peace and comfort, now she could dedicate nearly all her free time to it. Then one day when she was planting carrot seeds she unearthed the skull, just a few inches beneath the soil.
The skull was large, the size between a large wolf’s and a small horse’s, with a large protruding muzzle containing a full set of canine teeth, two ivory tusks protruded from its cheeks, and one large cyclopean eye in the center of its forehead, much higher, than the eyehole of any mammal that she was aware of. It was completely unclassifiable. Not knowing what else to call it she named it Fred.
It was a fake, obviously a prop like those in the science fiction movies her grandchildren loved. She had tilled that little patch scores of times and it wasn’t there before. Someone had to have planted it there as a joke. It was however a very realistic looking hoax.
It was a simple matter to get the university to look at Fred. Most of the anthropology department owed their academic careers to Professor Whitehall. A week later she had gotten the skull back with some surprising results. The skull was made of unknown bone material that carbon dated back to over twenty-thousand years old. The tusk was composed of an ivory ten times denser than an elephant’s, the eye hole had no chisel marks to indicate it was carved. The skull seemed organic in nature and was one piece, there was no glue or adhesive used to assemble it.
The faculty immediately shipped the skull back to Imogene. No one in the physical sciences department wanted to be connected with such a paradoxical item. Fred’s existence contradicted everything that mankind knew about evolution. Possession of it or even acknowledging its existence was a potential career killer. No one would risk academic suicide like that, even for a favored mentor.
Unable to sleep, Imogene sat at her kitchen table drinking her hot coco, looking at Fred. Trying to unravel its mysteries, when she heard a deafening crash from her garden. Carefully she peaked out the window that is when she saw when she saw it.
The skeletal shape was huge, over nine feet tall. Sharp long talons emerged its fingers and its toes. The only part of its body that wasn’t bone, was the tattered leather wings which emerged from its back. The monstrosity was headless, but despite its total lack of sensory organs seem to have no trouble moving around her back yard. Pointed in her direction and began to move towards the cottage’s door. Panic set in as she realize that this was Fred’s body and it wanted its head back.
Oh if you are interested in the sweater check it out here