NYC Midnight 250-Word Microfiction: 2020 Entry

This is officially the third time I’ve entered one of NYC Midnights writing competitions. I enjoy the challenge of not knowing what the genre and required words and actions are until the contest begins. Three time in a row I ended up with Sci-Fi (three times because in my first go I made it to the second heat). This time I got horror with the required action “opening an umbrella”, and the required word, “repeat”.

While I enjoy reading horror and watching scary movies, I’ve never been much for writing in this genre. So, here is my attempt (no high hopes here).

This Just In…

Madam Sévigné was not the late witch’s real name, this much the young reporter knew as she picked the lock to the Victorian dwelling. Dust rolled as Julia O’Dell entered. Light danced in the foyer and skipped across crystals and stones. Julia scoffed, noticing a note in the midst: my end is coming.

Old-house smells filled Julia’s nostrils as sounds echoed: car doors, kids laughing. It was a nice neighborhood. Soon these families will know the truth. Determined, Julia climbed the stairs and entered the master bedroom. Julia coughed, eyes watering.  “Julia O’Dell, bringing you the latest news…I’m more than just a weather lady…” she said aloud, wiping her eyes. The smell disappeared. It was a clean, well-lit room with a four-poster bed and ornate furniture. Julia swore it was dark before, with curtains drawn and black mold across the floor. Perhaps I imagined it? Julia looked around, attention pulled to an object in the corner.

“Don’t open it,” a man’s voice stated.

“Who are you?” Julia called out, seeing only a figure pulling the door to the bedroom shut as he exited.

She sighed and lifted the umbrella, unbuttoning the ribbon and sliding it open. Again, the smell. The room was dark, black and red patches spread across the floor. She closed the umbrella again. Smell gone.

“Do I need to repeat myself?” the same voice returned. This time, a hand grasped Julia’s shoulder as warm breath swept over her ear and down her neck, “Don’t. Open. The umbrella…”


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