Friday, April 16, 2021

Overheard at the Counter: Horrorprompts from 2019

"Jeez, OK, kid, here you are!" Verble says, slapping some pages on the top of the counter.  "These are all my writings for Horrorprompt for 2019."

"The kid wants 2020 as well," says the Barista.

"I need a nap," says Verble, leaving the pages there and walking away.

The Horrorprompts of Verble Gherulous




Book One: 2019



May 28, 2019


For 15 long years he had sneered at her for everything.


For her cooking.

For going back to school.

For how she performed in bed.


Now that answer had been erased by her kitchen scissors.


She would not miss that sneer.




May 29, 2019

#horrorprompt 284: tiny eggs


This lovely enigma in Raybans and a purse-lipped smile had flirted with him all afternoon at the poolside bar. 


Back at her room, she unlocked the door, pulled off the sunglasses, exposing eyes like tiny eggs.


Mouth opened: pincers.

She lunged.



May 30, 2019

#horrorprompt 182: sealed inside


Smiling wide, he encouraged the prospective home buyers to knock on the walls that he had framed, sheet-rocked, and painted himself.


"The insulation," he said proudly, "is the best that humans can make."


Because that's what was sealed inside.


June 3, 2019

#horrorprompt 286: wrapped.


Wrapped in chains, he sank in the water.

Struggling, he suddenly realized: No escape!


He would drown!


Frantic, he wondered why the faces outside the glass tank did nothing to save him.


Damn! he thought, They think this is just part of the show!



June 6, 2019

#horrorprompt 287: benevolent love.


The monks always welcomed strangers who wandered in from the road.  Such folk were always very welcomed at dinner.


And with benevolent love, the monks always ensured the wayfarers went to sleep peacefully before being prepared for the feast.



June 10, 2019

#horrorprompt 272 last sunrise


In the early evening hour,

they turned to see the last sunrise

rise in the east.


This final dawning, crowned

in a mushroom cloud,





sent waves of heat

roaring over them,


turning flesh to ash,

setting their souls free.



June 12, 2019

#horrorprompt 288 Last Word


After 53 years of his verbal abuse, Grace now watched Roy struggle with his last breaths.


"You never let me speak, all these years," she said, "but I get the last word: it's what I put in your nightly tea."


She leaned in and whispered, "Cyanide."



June 18, 2019

#horrorprompt 289 Kill for Me


"Who would you kill for me?" she asked.


"Anyone," he said.


"Liar," she said.  "You wouldn't kill your daughter for me."


He stammered a bit.


"It's OK," she told him, leaning in close to kiss him.  "I've made sure you won't have to."



June 20, 2019

#horrorprompt 290: Skinned Alive


She was so happy to work for this director, who was known for intense realism.


But when he readied the actors to shoot the scene where they would be skinned alive, she understood too late that, this time, when he said, "CUT!" he meant ... BEGIN!



June 24, 2019

#horrorprompt 291 Layers of Silt


Running along the riverbank with his friends, Benny’s foot sank through several layers of silt.  Something grabbed his ankle.  Pulling up, he saw the hand.  The dead hand.


Benny screamed.


The nightly news told of the girl, missing for 15 years.




July 7, 2019

#horrorprompt Two Drops


The old librarian told me, "Back in those days, any man who went to the gallows never wanted the hangman to be 'Two-Drops' Callaghan."


"Why's that?" I asked.


"Because the sadistic prick would drop you once, then pull you back up and drop you again!"




July 11, 2019

#horrorprompt 294 emaciated remains


They were nothing but emaciated remains of what once were human beings.


My fellow GI's and I watched in silence as they lumbered out of the camp toward the medics' trucks.


I looked up at the sign above the gate.





July 13, 2019

#horrorprompt 295 stranded


After the firefight and his squad was pushed back, Frankie was stranded behind enemy lines. 


He tried to hide under a burned out jeep but he saw their boots &heard their laughter and he didn't know their language but he knew "die amerikaner ist tod"



July 31,2019

#horrorprompt 297 Unending Scar


When they came,

when the aliens finally came,

we knew immediately we had nothing

that could stop them.


The roar of their engines flattened the trees,

and their weapons ripped the night sky into

an unending scar.



July 31, 2019

#horrorprompt 298: Greasy Hair


It wasn’t the matted, greasy hair or the dirty fingernails or the feral eyes, or even the way the boy was hunched over, rocking slowly back and forth….


it was his smile, eeking out around the half-eaten rat that was sandwiched between his teeth.



August 2, 2019

#horrorprompt 299: Sweltering Heat


San Salvador 1982


The girl walked to school in the morning, backpack slung over one shoulder.


In the sweltering heat, soldiers burned the bodies of dead protesters and revolutionaries.  


The smoke rose to the sky.


And permeated everything.



August 6, 2019

#horrorprompt 300 End Times


"Welcome to the End Times café," our host said with a sweep of his arm.


We stood amazed by the wood decor & plush velvet curtains.

The room was thick with the smell of gasoline.


Then, we heard a chain locking the door... & the click of his lighter.



August 12, 2019

#horrorprompt 301 Glorious Agony


The masochist had foregone the safe word.


The crank was turned and the screws twisted him into paroxyms of glorious agony.


Glorious, yes, until the sadist, inexperienced at this machine, turned the crank one rotation too far.



August 20, 2019

#horrorprompt 302 - Obliterated


What if I could indeed feel the plaque as it wraps around the synapses of my brain?


Would it make sense of all this?


Or do I just stay numb to the knowledge that in my brain the recognition of my dear wife's face will one day be obliterated?



August 27, 2019

#horrorprompt 303 Left to Wilt


What was it about the flowers, she wondered, left to wilt in the vase on the table?


She ran the blade of the pruning shears across her lips, tasting


the faint tinge of the blood of the suitor, who will never come to call no more.



September 5, 2019

#horrorprompt 304 Eviscerated Entrails


The Amazonians hung the anthropologist from a tree & eviscerated him.


As his entrails spilled on the forest floor & the members began to feast, he thought, "Ha! The bacteria in my intestines will decimate your tribe!"


He died smiling.



September 17, 2019

#horrorprompt 306 Natural Causes


Midnight, small town, speed trap.


The sheriff blinded me with his flashlight as he looked over my license, saying "You city boys shouldn't race through here like y'all do. You likely to get shot.  'Round here we call that dyin' a natural causes"



September 27, 2019

#horrorprompt 307 Peachy


Kevin always had a feeling that we would die gruesomely, in great pain.


So, when the car stalled underneath the bridge just as the 18 wheeler overturned on the overpass and came careening down on him, he murmured "Well isn't that just peachy."



October 1, 2019

#horrorprompt 308 Let Me Show You


We'd been dating a month.


I said, "You're the sweetest kindest person ever!"


She said, "You don't know me."


I said, "Yes I do."


She said, "Let me show you," as her hand grabbed the skin under her jaw line and she began to pull her skin...



October 8, 2019

#horrorprompt 309 Behind the Mask


My dad's new wife smiled sweetly, always, and always told us she loved us and was glad to get to know us.


I knew at the reading of the will would be the moment we got to see what was behind the mask.



October 16, 2019

#horrorprompt 310 Weakening Grip


Raul awoke at the Hyatt Centric to find bombs strapped to his chest & his hand clasping a dead man's switch. He knew he had to run: throw himself into the Hudson.


Hand cramping, grip weakening, he rounded Times Square, bumping into Naked Cowboy



October 22, 2019

#horrorprompt 311 Thinning Old Guard


The thinning old guard of vampire hunters went looking for some new recruits.


Finding some, at the start of the interview, they asked, "What interests you about this opportunity."


The recruits bared their fangs and said, "Your blood!"



November 8, 2019

#horrorprompt Plague Doctor


Our village was a peaceful one, nestled high in the Pyrenees.

We had never known want, nor disease.  We lived on fresh produce and clean air.  We had not need of a physic ... until that cursed day when, into town


came the Plague Doctor.



November 21, 2019

#horrorprompt 315 Permafrost


A millennia.

Maybe ... two.


I have forgotten Time.


But I have not forgotten how much I love

to feast on fleshlings, those sacks of blood and water and

bone ... oh yes,


and now, I can feel the permafrost

thawing, & I shall soon






December 8, 2019

#horrorprompt 317 The End




Our host raises his glass for a toast.


We all raise ours. 


"To THE END!" he says triumphantly, then he drinks; then, we drink.


I lean to my spouse. "Does he mean 'of this year'?"


"Wait ... what's in this drink?" she asks.




December 27, 2019

#Horrorprompt 318 Suicide King


His name was Jesús. We called him "Suicide King."

He always drew fire from us so that we could take cover.

He always was first to clear the houses.

He said he did it so we didn't have to.


Fittingly, it was on a Good Friday when he hit that IED.


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