Very short horror stories

October in my part of the world is not a spooky time.

The days are long and glorious. Kids are starting to swim again. Native orchids are blooming, in all their delicate variety. Nesting king parrots with curious eyes pop down to the garden to gather extra food for their chicks. Termites swarm in the evening air. Koalas snarl like demons in the dead of night.

Huh. Maybe it is a little spooky.

Anyway, the internet is just one big gleeful anarchic tribute to All Hallow’s Eve right now. You guys look like you’re having a lot of fun.

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In the spirit of the Samhain season – and the #twosentencehorror and #8wordstory challenges popping up everywhere – here are some very short horror stories.

*

The whirring drone stayed ten metres in the air behind her as she jogged around the park. She couldn’t see who was piloting it, but they were probably just trying to be funny.

Then it followed her home.

*

Foreign country. Lost wallet.

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Skeletons in medieval art: a review

There’s a spooky skeleton INSIDE YOU RIGHT NOW! And you can rest assured that if you were living in medieval Europe, someone would draw weird pictures of it.

Let’s get humerus with these bone-a-fide drawings of Death and the dead, from a time when Western knowledge of human anatomy was… somewhat patchy.

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We’re off to a good start with this chipper fellow. ‘Why, hello! I’m Death, and I’ll be your guide this morning!’ His ribcage may be gigantic and he’s missing his tibias, but it hasn’t got him down. You do you, Death.

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“Footy”: An anthropological perspective

If you happen to live in Australia, you may have noticed over the weekend a great number of jubilant people in the streets wearing suspiciously identical articles of striped clothing. If you live elsewhere, you likely didn’t notice a thing – unless you have Australian friends, in which case you may have been puzzled by a flurry of Facebook fervour, and/or footage of a man covered in mud jumping up on stage to sing ‘Mr Brightside’ with the Killers.

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Fear not, my befuddled friends! Today, I’ll introduce you to the reasons for these behaviours, and attempt to explain the fascinating culture behind them.

 

What is “footy”?

Footy – or Fudi, as it’s properly known – is one of the world’s youngest religions, but it is one of the fastest-growing. Beginning as a simple cult of athleticism in Victoria in the 19th century, it now has temples, devotees and ‘teams’ of high monks from the Gold Coast in the east to Fremantle in the west. Recently, women have been admitted into Fudi’s higher orders, although local temples have accepted nuns for some years now. New temples pop up every few years, the latest being the Church of Greater Western Sydney.

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A guide to point of view

Point of view (POV) is the perspective from which a work, usually a work of prose, is narrated. It can have an enormous impact on a story: how close the reader is to the characters’ experiences, how much the reader can believe the narrator, whether the internal world of a given character is more important than the external world, and ultimately how much information the reader receives. Today I’m going to be examining the various types of narrative POV, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. We’ll cover first, second and third person, past and present tense in each, and then we’ll explore some of the different versions of those that are possible.

The only thing we’re going to leave out is future tense. I assumed future tense only appeared when characters outline a plan or make a promise, but then one day when Hunters and Collectors came on the radio, I heard this classic:

I will come for you at night time

I will raise you from your sleep

I’ll kiss you in four places

I’ll go running along your street.

‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ is nearly all in future tense, except for parts of the bridge (present: shed your skin and let’s get started) and the second verse (past: I met you in high places). Also, I think I just found the world’s fastest way to make a bittersweet romantic song sound like the nerdiest thing ever.

Other than that song, though, future tense is extremely rare, because it is an awkward and difficult tense to write in. So these lines will be our examples for today, because their structure neatly illustrates how the POV and tense change in each example. I hope that anyone who’s already familiar with the topic might be compelled to give a new POV a try; on the other hand, if you’ve ever been too afraid to ask what ‘second person’ is, consider this your handy guide.

Again, a disclaimer: I’m saying all this as a reader, and as an artist with preferences for my own work. Let’s start with a straightforward shift in the tense…

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The ayes have it

flag-pride

I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I can’t believe that in ‘the land of the fair go’ we’re having a bloody vote to determine whether ten per cent of humans are worthy of the same basic rights as the others. I miss Julia Gillard.

But you’re probably tired of all the rage, the pleading, the whining, the slippery-slope fallacies, the bigots complaining about being ‘bullied for an opinion’ right to the faces of people being bullied for their existence. So here’s a poem about what we’re fighting for.

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Inspirational object #2: Fairytale anthology

When the time came for me to write this week’s inspirational object post, I was stumped.

This wasn’t because I couldn’t find an object to write about. If anything, I have the opposite problem: I’ll end up writing an essay on some tiny thing and boring everybody’s eyes out. There’s a great home video of me, aged nearly seven, about to start Grade One. Right in the middle of confessing my feelings to my parents about starting at a new school, in a new postcode (from suburbs to country), in an entirely new system of schooling (from Steiner to mainstream), I get distracted and marvel, ‘Ooh, a Christmas beetle!’ Almost twenty years later, a Christmas beetle is still enough to stop me in my tracks. Or a sea star. Or some overheard music. Or a delicious aroma. Or an interesting cloud.

In fact, I can count the things I am not interested in* on the fingers of one hand:

  • Video games with loads of blood.
  • Football.
  • Dull strangers on public transport.
  • Dull strangers hitting on me.
  • Dull strangers whose only interests are football, bloody video games, or video games about bloody football, trying to hit on me on public transport.

 

*I was going to add ‘cars’, ‘makeup’ and ‘horses’ (sorry, younger sisters) to this list. Then I remembered my interest in old machines, the history and political implications of beauty standards, and the evolution of domestication.

 

And it’s perhaps because of this interest in everything that I am fascinated by collections and anthologies.

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A field guide to creative writing students: Part 8

And so we come to our final week of scholastibiology.

Soon, we will witness the great metamorphosis across universities nationwide. High school students will enter their pupal stage, in preparation for the trials of tertiary education. Graduates will develop the handsome black ‘cape’ structures and black crests – and just as quickly shed them, as they develop into panicked and despairing adults. The students you observe today may not frequent the campus next year, which can be disappointing if you have been observing a cohort or courting pair. To that, I say keep an eye out! With the exception of those in genus Professor, who establish permanent territory on campus, you will likely find your favourites again outside the tertiary institution. Camouflage patterns and secondary sex characteristics change wildly over time, so pay attention to height and facial structure. Is that your Midlyfcrisus autobiographii fossicking for meds at the chemist? Is that your class’ Megacranius annoia locked in a fight to the death for a hospo job he swore he’d never take? A good citizen scientist is always observing.

Apart from Professor marvellus, there is one other species you are likely to encounter in the writing industry at the end of the course. Allow me to present…

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