OCH Flash Fiction challenge! Take a look at the photo prompt and create your own 500-1,000 word story. My entry is with it but I want to see where your imagination takes you! Is the guy in the photo a good guy, a criminal, searching for ghosts or a lost dog? Pick a route and run with it.

The winner’s story will be published on OCH’s home page as the weekly OCH ELITE feature. The winner is also eligible to win a copy of Allie Burke’s debut paranormal trilogy, The Enchanters series. The deadline to submit is Friday, June 26. EVERYONE is eligible to make an entry.

Show me what you’ve got! Submit here.


My spine ached, left shoulder twisted like a bratty brother tried twisting off their sister’s doll’s arm. And he had, hadn’t he? Before the flash of pain and darkness I saw Duncan’s face contort with an evil smile. Now, the smile was gone, which would be comforting if I wasn’t somewhere dark and in pain.

Red light glowed in the distance, showing curved steel walls of a tunnel surrounding me. Claustrophobia had me panicking. I needed to find Meredith, tell her what kind of freak her brother was so we could take off back to campus. So much for meeting the family; I was never coming back to this shithole hick town.

Rolling my busted shoulder, I crept along the gravel floor towards the red light hoping for an exit sign. A left turn brought me more tunnel and a flare flickering on the ground. The intensity had me squinting as I picked up my only light source.

Black dripping letters on the wall stopped me: “Miss Muffet ran fast enough. Can you?”

What the—?

What was that sound? When it got louder I thought I knew, but that many spiders…

Shadows surged in the flare light, skittering so loud my heart pounded. Unable to resist my instincts, I ran before the horde of spiders swallowed me whole, the sound so close I felt their sticky webs as if they were already all over me. I sprinted around the corner, checking back, seeing only shadows.

Pain rocked my body as I hit a wall and crashed to the ground, twisting my thrashed shoulder, gravel biting my palms. I looked up, the flare lighting more words on the wall, “Three blind mice lost their tails. See how they run” with an arrow pointing to the right. My flare ran out, dipping me in darkness as the skittering of thousands of spiders morphed into scratching and angry squeaks and squeals of what were probably mice, judging by the message.

My throat squeezed with the temptation to scream. No way could Meredith hear me in here. I thought of her face as I left to “help” her brother, she elbow deep in dishwater after dinner with her Grams. If she only knew.

I kept one hand on the wall and kept going in the pitch dark while the sounds came closer, until my fingers dragged through something slimy. Since the wall kept me grounded I didn’t pull away. When the hungry squeaks lessened I thought they lost my scent beneath the strength of rot now curling my stomach. I took a moment to smell my fingers as my feet never stopped.

Rotten blueberries?

Before I could question why rotten blueberry jam was lathered on the wall, a bright flash blinded me, followed by an ear-splitting squawk. Light strobed as squawks and rustling wings hurt my ears. I shielded my eyes and kept my feet moving. Off-balance, I reached out and pulled away when the slime scraped beneath my nails, nearly walking into another wall.

Something cut through the light and struck me in the head, sending me into the slime-covered wall and onto my ass. I swiped at my stinging forehead, red slashing my gravel dusted hand.

Was that…pie?

My eyes shifted to the spray painted words above the pie on the ground. “A blackbird baked in a pie pecked off her nose. Can you keep yours?”

A memory flashed of where I knew this. Baked in a pie…

I sprung to my knees and dug my hands inside. The squawking and wings attacked through strobes of light. Pinches of flesh and hair tore from my scalp. I batted away as many as I could, the quick light helping to see the maggot and worm laced blueberry pie. I found something as a bird pecked a chunk out of my cheek. A key. My eyes watered as I took off, batting away pissed off birds.

Light peaked around a door at the end of a curve in the tunnel. When I got there the birds pounded their bodies against me as I struggled to get the slimy key into a lock hanging from a chain, losing a chunk of my ear before the lock turned.

My foot caught and I crashed to the floor; the smell of piss soaked hay in my nostrils. A slam had me whipping around. Duncan shut the door and shoved a brick in front of it as the birds beat their bodies against the metal. Only thing stopping me from going after the guy was the long blade he held.

“Oh Ryan,” Duncan scoffed and tsked as he paced, resting the blade on his shoulder.

“Where’s Meredith?”

“Getting Grams into bed.”

I tried to stand but he pointed the blade at me. “You’re a waste of time, Ryan. Why she bothers I’ll never know, though it does give me subjects for my project.”


“Did Meredith tell you our parents died in our nursery protecting us twins from bad people with bad intentions? No?” I didn’t respond. “You ran and fumbled through the dark like a coward. Not good enough to protect her.”

“You’re testing me?”

“Course. Evil comes again, she’ll need protection. You’re a pathetic replacement for me. No matter. The pigs can have you.”


The barn door opened and Meredith walked in wearing that same expression from before I left kitchen. Now I understood. She knew about her brother’s test.

“Well?” she asked.

“He ran.”


“Actually, no. Kudos,” he told me.

Meredith came to me, held my face, and kissed me. “As always, I can protect myself.” She stuck me in the stomach with a knife I never saw. “But, again, this is me protecting my brother. Can’t have you squealing.”

“Coward.” Duncan spat.

I grabbed my stomach, falling to my knees as the barn walls swayed.

“Fucking fairy tales,” I heard myself say.

Duncan face contorted as he stepped in front of me and said, “Nursery rhymes, asshole,” and swung the blade.

unnamedS.J. Cairns is a Southern Canadian, born and raised in St. Catharines Ontario, where she lives with her bug-killing, video game playing husband of near 15 years, her spunky mother-in-law, and their three snorting Pugs.

During days off from true chaos working as a Women’s Advocate at a busy downtown Women’s Shelter, you can find S.J. in her writerly lair dipped in all things creepy, plotting against her lifetime nemesis, those deadly evil-doers; balloons, and giving some perspective on The Fictionistas YouTube Channel each Monday.

S.J. will add her own works of fiction to her overly crammed shelves this year as she focuses on a 6 novel Urban Fantasy series called “Evolution of a Soul Seer”.

Visit S.J. at https://sjcairns.wordpress.com.



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