Last year, it was my intent to enter a flash-fiction contest, but I could never quite get the story to fit into 1,000 words or less, so I tabled the project. Since it’s October, I figured it’s the perfect time to work on it again. Since I’m no longer constrained by such a restrictive word count, I’ve begun to expand it, and I really like it so far. I hope to finish it this month and, afterward, I’m going to look into submitting it to a lit mag.
Here are the first ~500 words of my horror short story, The Boneyard.
The house on 777 Darling Lane was anything but. Whoever had addressed it either knew nothing of its evil reputation or had a sick sense of irony.
Desta was banking on the latter.
She stood on the sidewalk, her face pressed to the wrought-iron gate, and gazed up at the house. It was a large, ugly thing. The red-brick, ivy-covered façade was almost black with decades of dirt and grime, and most of the windows had long been broken. To Desta, they were like eyes, lidless, lashless; the house was watching her too.
Desta scoffed. Nonsense. She was acting no better than the ghost-obsessed townspeople she derided.
She didn’t believe in ghosts, or that the house was alive, or that by standing so close, she was opening herself up to attack. She couldn’t deny, though, that it was a ghastly place, and she understood better why no one in town liked the house. If it was this terrible on the outside, what might it be like inside? There had been multiple attempts to demo it, but the Council always refused the motion. Most people tried to ignore its existence, but it was hard when it skulked on the outskirts of town like a sleeping giant poised to crush them if awoken.
Desta had grown up hearing stories about all the terrible things that happened in and around it—she never heard anything about the family who owned it, though, and this was what interested her the most. No one could tell her who they were, where they had come from, when the house had been built, or if they were even alive. They hadn’t been seen in years, but every so often, a curtain would move in one of the remaining windows, or a light would flicker on and go out just as quickly.
The only thing anyone knew about the house was that the land it’d been built on had once been called The Boneyard.
It was this mystery Desta was so desperate to get to the bottom of: Who, if anybody, lived in the house? If someone did live there, why did they never come out? And because she couldn’t quell all superstitious curiosity, what was the mystery of “the boneyard?”
She pressed her front against the cold bars of the gate. If she was only a little smaller, she could slip through the bars and get closer, maybe even go inside. What wonderful and terrible things must be hiding behind its walls, and what secrets Desta might learn the truth of. The Council would be grateful to her for setting the record straight. The townspeople would hail her as a hero. Her classmates, always so quick to underestimate her, would be awed by her bravery.
She had to get inside.