This month in my writing group, our challenge was to write a 100 word horror story. The subject I chose is a well-worn one, featured in many a horror short story or television episode, but the challenge for me was one of brevity. I’ve always considered my short stories to be short, usually coming in at around 1000 words. But writing a cohesive story in only 100 words is, I found, a completely different beast. Every word must count, and every word that doesn’t count must be ruthlessly excised. I ended up writing an initial draft of around 175 words, and cutting it down to meet the word limit, resulting in a little nugget of exactly 100 words. As mentioned, I didn’t push the envelope in terms of content, but the exercise definitely made me consciously consider the words that I use when I write and the process by which I choose them, the balance between concision and style, how I try to convey meaning to the reader, and, perhaps most practically useful, the editing process and how to choose what stays and what doesn’t.
It’s been eight days since everybody disappeared. No corpses in the streets, no news. Just me. Alone in an empty city.
The first day that passed without seeing another living soul didn’t even seem unusual. I live alone, work from home. Nothing made me stop and think that something might actually be wrong. Something national. Maybe global.
The first few days, I tried to find somebody, anybody. The next few days I huddled in my flat, afraid, in denial. Now I’ve barricaded myself inside, no longer afraid of the silence, but terrified of the noises I have begun to hear.