The Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest is HERE!

Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest

It has arrived! The moment you have been waiting for! Or the moment you thought about on Friday and then went about your weekend to do other things, but now I’m reminding you again! Ready, set, write your curses!

When: 15 October at 0900 EDT NOW! until 27 October at 2359

Genre: Fantasy and all sub-genres. Dark fantasy, urban fantasy, horror fantasy, epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, dystopian fantasy, whatever. (No sci-fi this time, sorry!)

Theme: Curses masquerading as blessings, granted wishes, deepest desires, secret yearnings. Take a gift and twist it. Take a wish and make it rot. Grant a deep desire and watch it burn. Example, you say? An easy one: King Midas turns everything he touches to gold. Everything. Instead of glorious riches, he’s now become Rogue, except anyone he touches will become metal instead of having seizures.

Length: 500 words.

How to Enter: Post your entry in the comments of this post WITH THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION (this is where I find out who reads the submission guidelines):

  • Your NAME (this means exactly what it says)

If these things are not included, you will have to drink from the Cup of the Blind, which will erode your entry into nothingness. Meaning, you will be disqualified and will have to wear the Cone of Shame.

*No, we won’t use your email address for anything other than notifying winners, distributing prizes. No, we won’t give it to evil cyber stalkers. No, we are not evil cyber stalkers. Does anyone use the word “cyber” anymore? WordPress will show me your email in my super-secret comment-management page. If this is NOT the email you get email at, you should probably give me another one. Put a space between the @ if you want. I can figure out the anti-bot deceptigrams.  Also, get on Twitter. Next contest that will be a requirement.

Prizes: Super snazzy prizes will include an Amazon gift card, manuscript critiques, goody bags (when was the last time you got goodies in the POST?! Alas, these goody bags will have to be limited to US residents only, because we’re broke), and mucho de bragging rights. And some sweet badges which will be revealed later. Muahahaha! Winners will be crowned as follows:

  • 1st Place — HERO
  • 2nd Place — WARRIOR
  • 3rd Place — MINION

Your Judges: C’est moi, of course, and Kristin McFarland. We will be judging the posts on originality, use of the theme, quality of writing, and general badassery. R-rated stories are fine, but we’re not looking for erotica. Some sex is okay, but remember the theme and ask if it’s necessary. Don’t shoot for shock value. Wow us with your story and how you weave in the prompt. Take that prompt and breathe life into it — show us, show us, show us!

What are you waiting for? Start writing! And feel free to talk it up on Twitter using the #CostumedCurses hashtag! Can’t wait to see the first entries!

Love and kisses!



About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on October 15, 2012, in Contests, Costumed Curses and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Yay! Since I already linked you in this, I’ll just re-post the link to serve as my submission, ‘kay?

  2. OMEGA
    by: alienredqueen
    Word count: 498

    Omega-E spreads fast, but there is about a month from the identification of patient zero to the time when the dead start to outnumber the living. The CDC and the government try to manage the numbers, with mass cremations to control the spread of the disease and to keep the corpses from piling up. Americans are pissed. Until their fear trumps the need to mourn and bury their dead. The situation declines fast and martial law is declared, but it’s a token gesture, with soldiers stationed only where there are valuable resources the government deems “in need of protection.” In most of the cities and suburbs, there is no law anymore.

    This makes gathering supplies a lot easier, but also a lot more dangerous. There are other dangers besides contamination. Looters, psychos. The marines guarding the supplies will shoot to kill with the slightest provocation. But the worst, other people like us, people whose desperate minds have turned black with panic. Sometimes you can actually see the madness, flapping around, like a bird with a broken wing, behind their too-bright eyes.

    And then there are the Infected. Like zombies, only worse. They’re sick, shambling…and bleeding copiously. Omega-E is almost entirely hemorrhagic. Makes the cases of Ebola in Africa look like a head cold. The Omega virus dies more quickly outside of the body than it’s African predecessor, so chances of surface contamination are lower, but once infected…there is no recovery. The only upside is that incubation for Omega-E is brief, the tell-tale rashes, fevers, and vomiting appearing within 24 hours of contamination, with death only a few days later. This makes the Infected pretty easy to identify.

    It also makes them very dangerous. Almost up until their last breath, usually dragged laboriously through lungs filled with blood, they are aware… and terrified. If the uninfected have a panic-bird behind their eyes, the Infected are infested with whole flocks. Like drowning victims, they’ll drag down anyone who chances close enough.

    It’s easy to stay inside for the first week or so. As the pandemic ramps up, we make pilgrimages to the store and start setting supplies back. But eventually we’ll need to go out there again. We have a little girl. Even if we could live on next to nothing, she couldn’t. And although the electricity and water remain on for the moment, there’s no telling how long it will last.

    I heard a rumor about the government instituting rolling blackouts to manage the power supply and “ensure continuity of service” for everyone. The pretenses are breaking down. Pretty soon they won’t even bother to lie to us.

    We need a plan. A few more trips out for supplies. Right before dawn seems to be quietest. The pharmacy. The grocery. Guns if we can find them. And then we’ll go out into the country, or maybe the woods. Somewhere there are no people, where we can wait this thing out. It has to end sometime, right? Right…?

    By Leslie Fulton
    462 words

    Pete hated it when the dog threw up first thing in the morning. It was Murphy’s way of telling him he’d slept in too late. If the kibble didn’t hit his bowl at the appointed time, Murphy would trot up the stairs, position himself just outside Pete’s bedroom door and ralph—a tight little package of yellow bile. He’d then give a small, smug doggy smile and flop to the ground, waiting expectantly.

    Pete groaned. He could hear Murphy’s exaggerated vomiting. He heard the thump as his 70-pound Golden Retriever hit the floor. He could feel Murphy’s intelligent brown eyes staring through his door.

    “I’m UP,” he muttered. He bent down to clean up the mess.

    Something humanoid was lying in the middle of Murphy’s pool of vomit. He was about three inches long. The little being was wearing a white ruffled shirt that was open at the neck. His face was pale, with pronounced cheekbones and a sprinkling of red freckles on the bridge of his tiny nose. He had red hair that reached his shoulders. A tiny pointed green hat lay by his side. Pete picked him up to get a better look.

    “Craig?” croaked Pete. His roommate had to see this. “CRAIG!”

    Craig stumbled out of his room and knelt beside Pete, squinting.

    “I think it’s a leprechaun,” said Pete, dubiously. He felt silly saying it.

    “I think you’re right. Do you know what this means?” breathed Craig. “We’re rich. Pots of gold! You can buy that car and I can ditch my student loan!”

    The leprechaun twitched in Pete’s hand. He sat up, glaring.

    “Damnú ort,” spat the leprechaun. “Go dtachta an diabhal thú.”

    “Not so fast with the curses,” Craig smirked. “We’re in control here.”

    “Go n-ithe an cat thù, is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat,” the little being muttered. “But you do have a point. What do you want?”

    “Your stash, of course,” said Pete. “We’ve read the fairy tales. We want your fortune.”

    The leprechaun narrowed his green eyes. “That’s it?”

    Pete put him down on the floor. “That’s it. You’re free to go. Otherwise my dog here will gobble you up again and this time you might not be so lucky.”

    The leprechaun shrugged. “Sure,” he said. “You can have my stuff.” He grinned, sharp teeth glinting. He whispered something, his hands emitting sparks of green light.

    “Where is it?” demanded Pete.

    “Right in front of you.”

    Pete and Craig stared at the floor. A small pile of gold caught the sun.

    “That’s IT?” bellowed Craig.

    The leprechaun shrugged. “I’ve always been lazy. That’s why your dog could catch me. I was napping instead of working.” With that, he snapped his fingers and disappeared.

    Murphy trotted over, sniffed the gold.

    And ate it.

  4. Raymond Alexander

    by Raymond Alexander
    Word count: 427

    The leader of the Tartanistas stood in the hall of the embassy with everything he ever wanted. His fellow beings had found the courage to vote in favour of separation from the evil Inglanders, and freedom was now theirs. The celebrations earlier in the day had been magnificent.

    He stood in the hall, arms raised, glancing his wide eyes over his assets. He had done it.

    A representative of the Inglander High Cabinet was led into the building and shuffled his way through the many lumbering objects cluttering the great embassy hall. He approached the grinning Tartanista leader.

    “Happy Independence Day, my friend. I am the head of the Separation Liaison Committee.”

    “Ah, it truly is a blessed day, my friend! My people and I will remember this day until the end of eternity!”

    “I’m sure they will,” said the Inglander, who by now had wandered to the entertainment monitor in the corner and switched it off.

    “What are you doing?”

    “There will be no need for these in your land now. All broadcasters are owned by us.”

    The Tartanista leader looked on bewildered as the Inglander waved his telepipe, and the monitor disappeared with a sharp flash.

    “In fact,” said the representative, “You won’t be needing these either.”

    The Inglander’s telepipe swung into action again, whooshing in the air and causing the sudden vanishing of more objects. The honorary Security Council chair – gone. The much-loved border passes – gone. The giant battle tank at the end of the hall – vamooshed.

    “Thanks to your ‘freedom’, the people of this land can no longer afford free healthcare for your sick, free education for your young, or free teleport rights for your elderly. That’s just the way it is.”

    A shudder coarsed through the Tartanista’s body as he finally lowered his arms. He stood, paralysed, as the Inglander took everything he didn’t need.

    “All I require now are the keys for your submarine outside.”

    “We didn’t really want to keep that anyway,” the Tartanista huffed.

    The Inglander sauntered to the door and turned his head back as he opened it.

    “Oh and by the way, this building is also ours. Well, ninety-two percent ours. Please find your new office in the smoking room out back. You’ll need to acquire your own desk and chair, of course. Maybe you can barter with some sheep, perhaps. You won’t be using our currency here.

    “Happy Independence Day, friend.”

    The representative was gone.

    The leader of the Tartanistas sank to his knees and wailed.

    “Curse my people for voting yes!”

    • Would like to point out to readers that Raymond meant his story to be tongue-in-cheek. I misinterpreted it at first (which goes to show how seriously some actually believe the more absurd arguments against independence, because I’ve encountered them) and made a bit of a git of myself.

      In case your sarcasm detector is as defunct as mine today, I thought I would leave this wee disclaimer.

  5. Cripes! Sorry for the multiple posts–this is the correct one, I swear!

    Bless Me, Father
    Martin Reaves,
    448 words

    “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

    The priest does not seem fazed with my confession…he should be terrified, and perhaps he is. But I cannot see his face. I sense movement from behind the screen, a shift of garments, a rattle of beads. Then, the simple lyrics I crave and dread; the easy release of guilt I had thought could never be mine.

    Around me, the confessional is silent, holding its breath, without judgment, also without pity. As simple as death, it is done.

    I leave the gloom of absolution to a world just awakening. Through the large oaken cathedral doors and onto the street, to a rising sun—a vision my eyes have not beheld in a score of centuries. I turn my face to the fiery orb with more than a little trepidation, but know only sweet warmth. A child passes and nods, smiles, does not cringe away. In a shop window I see—can that be me?—my reflection. Accept for my dress, I have not changed. I walk amongst the living, my myriad sins forgiven by a finite man, the curse lifted.

    Hunger stirs within me. Ahead, all chrome and vinyl Americana, a diner beckons. Now blessed, might food once again pass my lips? Saliva drips as I imagine the long-forgotten tang of frying meat. Two steps through the diner door and the reality of that tang sends nausea roiling through my body.

    I stagger back onto the street, into the soft cushion of a body wrapped in sweet scent, delicious melancholy fragrance, a perfume of…

    No. I have been absolved, I am under the divine Father, Hail Mary, full of grace, I am free of my curse.

    The woman apologizes for stumbling into me, though it was I who did the stumbling. I gaze into her eyes, liquid, living, and below those eyes to her cheeks, thriving with a network of capillaries carrying the sweet ambrosia, the simple elixir that will slake my thirst.

    My mouth opens of its own accord as my tongue registers the new fact…my canines rest flat and harmless in my mouth, they have not prepared the way for nourishment, they have betrayed my thirst.

    The woman’s soft fingers touch my wrist, her small voice concerned for my welfare. Am I okay? The blood scent washes over me with her breath, her pulse pounds like thunder through her fingertips to my skin.

    Other passersby stop, bathing me, suffocating me in the glorious aroma of unseen ruby liquid, and they are all concerned for the well-being of a monster, a benign monster, a monster no longer a danger to the living.

    A blessed monster cursed to starve for eternity.

    Lisa Shambrook
    492 Words

    It was the mirror that told her. “You’re gorgeous,” it said, “You’re beautiful, stunning, breath-taking…” and who was she to deny it?
    At first she accepted its compliments with grace and a shy glance from beneath her luscious lashes and a remark about needing to wash her hair then, as the flattery continued, she smiled and flushed with pleasure and coyly brushed her hair from her face.
    And the mirror was determined to boost her self-esteem and soon she was pouting and preening and mwah, mwah-ing at the mirror’s complimentary words.
    Her fashion sense improved no end. Gone were the tomboy togs; rough-kneed jeans discarded for skirts too tight to be called pencil-thin, casual shirts lost amid myriad sparkly, sequinned tops, comfy cardies destined for charity replaced by slinky, tight knits and street-fighting, puddle-jumping trainers traded in for heels that would give sky-scrapers vertigo.
    And all the while the looking glass reported gorgeousness and unrivalled beauty.
    “You’re amazing,” it told her, “much prettier than a picture…” and yes, she knew it.
    The party did not begin until she arrived, and her sisters…well, ugly just wasn’t the word.
    Dark as night hair was now platinum and bouffant, ribbons vanquished, shy fringe now swept away to show off blushed, sharpened cheekbones, and her lips plump and juicy and red; red as a crisp, ripe apple.
    And the mirror loved her. Everyone loved her. Except, maybe, her sisters…they weren’t quite so keen, and her mother, it had been her mirror after all… But to everyone else, she was their darling.

    Praises rained down, even on the sunniest of days, and the sunniest day came to town.
    “Absolutely delightful, striking and so alluring…” said the mirror and she purred appreciation. She couldn’t find her flirty skirt, and missing amongst another mountain of rejects was the top she wanted, the lace one with strategically placed rhinestones.
    “No matter,” said the mirror, “no matter at all…you look good enough to eat, just a dusting of powder and a dash of scent, and truly, you’re scrumptious…” and well, there was nothing more to be said, except. “Don’t forget your shoes…”
    That day she was the talk of the town, but there was nothing new in that, the town barely talked of anyone else. Today, even her ugly sisters raised their badly-in-need-of-plucking eyebrows, and mother stepped out of her way.
    All day long people echoed her mirror, salutations and accolades followed until the dwarf’s voice, grumpy it was not, rose above the tributes with a comment on her nakedness. And though people sniggered it was truly a compliment, after all her nakedness was pretty stunning…

    Later that night, before the looking glass, she reflected. “Gorgeous,” said her mirrored image and smiled then the smile faded and her façade cracked, and the tear in the mirror slipped off the tip of her nose and landed on her shoe. The glass slipper which, in ten seconds precisely, would shatter the mirror forever…

    Stacy Bennett-Hoyt
    498 words not including title

    “Yeah, baby! The Love-O-Meter says I’m hot!” Dylan hooted.
    “Well, I can’t use that machine, it’s obviously broken.” Stephanie smacked his ass, blew him a kiss and sauntered down the aisle of games.
    “You’re so smokin’, you’d break the damned thing, angel.” He scooped her up from behind, smelling of Axe and Edge and fun.
    She shrugged him off with a smile, scampering out of reach. “As hot as Jessica Alba?”
    “Hotter.” Smoldering eyes told her what he’d be wanting after the movie.
    “Hey, here’s one that grants wishes.”
    “I know what I’d wish.”
    “Get your mind out of your pants and gimme a quarter.”
    Both hands hit the limits of his pockets. “Last one.” He held out a brassy lint-covered coin. “Oh, wait. That’s not a quarter.”
    “Lemme see.” Stephanie snatched the coin, inspecting it closely. Embossed on one side was ‘One Play’ and the other ‘Devil’s Den Games.’ With an impish grin, she dropped the coin in the slot. Lights came on. Cheesy music played. “Free game! I wish I was just like Jessica Alba, immortalized on film!” Stephanie squeezed the handle. Lights pulsed and the screen flashed WISH GRANTED. Then an electric pain shot up her arm.
    “You okay?”
    “It shocked me.”
    “That’s what happens when you cheat.”
    Stephanie stuck her tongue out at him.
    “You know, Jessica actually looks a lot like you in this movie, Steph.”
    “Does she get the hot guy?”
    “Um… You might not like the end. Randy and Ed saw it last night and…”
    “Don’t tell me the ending. I’m not as squeamish as you think, okay? It’s called “Tortured Hook” for a reason.”
    “Supposed to be really brutal.”
    She silenced him with a kiss. “Then I’ll just have to spend two hours in your lap.” She took his hand as they followed the small crowd into the darkened theater. Her stomach heaved as the room spun. Her vision narrowed and she gripped her seat.
    “You okay?”
    “Fine,” she fibbed. Her whole body started to tingle and itch.

    After the previews, the screen flickered and stuttered. The intro music limped along, garbled. Then the screen went blank.
    “Must be technical problems,” Dylan whispered. “Steph, just so you know – no one survives.” Dylan turned to apologize for spoiling the end, but the seat next to him was empty. He looked back, wondering when Stephanie had gone to the bathroom.
    Music started and the movie opened with a shot of Jessica Alba asleep, looking like Stephanie’s twin.

    Stephanie woke up confused and stumbled out of bed to the sound of blood-curdling screams. Bursting into the hallway, she stumbled onto a shadowy figure dismembering some poor girl. Gory pieces dangled from his metal claws. Blood spattered the walls. She ran. Hope was slim in those final gruesome terror-filled hours. In the end, all that remained was blood, and her sightless eyes.

    At the 7:10 showing, Stephanie woke up confused and stumbled out of bed…

    And at the 10:55 showing, Stephanie woke up…

  8. Eleni Sakellis
    Word Count: 496
    The Bridge

    In the waning days of the empire, there lived a builder of bridges. Famed throughout the known world for his engineering feats, the builder was charged with bridging a fearsome gorge, an expanse never spanned high in the mountains above a raging river. Delays plagued the project. Workers feared the dangerous heights and the villagers feared change. Content to live as they always had, isolated and protected by sheer cliffs, the villagers viewed the builder with suspicion. He was determined, however, to convince them of the need for the bridge.
    “This bridge will bring prosperity and civilization, tourism and trade!”
    The villagers only shook their heads at the builder and walked away. He could only see what the village stood to gain. The villagers knew what they stood to lose.
    The builder complained to his wife. She comforted him.
    “They cannot stop progress, husband. The bridge will be built no matter what.”
    Construction began and was completed on schedule. Moments before the official opening, it collapsed. Such was the power of empire in those days that the bridge was rebuilt. Again, it collapsed. Undeterred, the builder ordered his workers to rebuild. Construction resumed. Fearing a third collapse, the workers suggested the builder consult the local witch. He laughed at first, but then thought what harm was there in satisfying the superstitious fools. His wife tried to dissuade him.
    “Please, husband. No good can come from magic.”
    “The bridge must be completed. Another collapse will ruin my reputation. How do you expect to live in luxury if I cannot find work?”
    “Do not gamble your soul for money and reputation, husband.”
    “More superstitious nonsense. I don’t believe in any magic. I’m only humoring the ignorant workers. Perhaps the witch will scare them into doing a better job.”
    The builder kissed his wife and went off to consult the witch. He found her at the crossroad. She held up her hand and stopped the builder in his tracks.
    “Place the silver on the ground.”
    The builder did as he was told.
    “Shore up the bridge with bone, or it will collapse again.”
    “Your bones will make it strongest, but the bones of your wife will do.”
    The witch took her silver and disappeared into the woods. The builder returned home. Construction resumed, but the builder was plagued by nightmares of a third collapse. On the third night, he decided to heed the witch’s advice. He led his wife to the construction site and tossed her into the foundation of the bridge. While he piled the stones and mortar upon her, she cursed him with her dying breath, and then, she cursed the bridge.
    “As my bones are ground to dust beneath this bridge, may it shake and sway forever.”
    When the final stone was set, the bridge did not collapse. The builder made his final inspection and fell down dead. He is long since ground to dust himself, but the bridge still stands and still it sways.

    Jason A. Rust
    500 words

    Jim stared at the smallish man sitting opposite him in the dark. Darrin — he probably should stop thinking of him as “Darrin, the office intern” — flicked the wheel on his Zippo. A blinding orange flame erupted.

    Just before Jim looked away, the dark eyes looking back seemed to flash red.

    “What’s wrong, Jimmy-boy?” Darrin, or whoever, whatever, he was, asked. “You wanted the weekend off and you got it.”

    “I wasn’t fucking serious!” Jim spat, whispering. “Just pissed that I had to waste my weekend re-writing Horton’s 200-page proposal while he spent the whole time on his boat with his damn mistress.”

    “Tsk-tsk, calm down or you’ll draw…attention. These luxuries have a price. And, honestly, doesn’t it feel good knowing that pompous dick can’t lord over anyone else, ever? Think of all the careers that just got heaps happier.”

    “But you killed Horton,” Jim hissed through clenched teeth. “Christ, I didn’t want him dead.”

    Darrin blew smoke. “Of course you did. You don’t say things like, ‘I hope the boat crushes the fucker,’ otherwise. Besides, I didn’t do it. You did.”

    “I DID NOT!” The shout echoed down the dark cinder block hallway. Jim’s hands flew to his mouth.

    “Maybe I should come back later.”

    “No!” A deep breath. “No, I…look, you just overheard me. We never made a deal. Please, help me.”

    “I already helped you. And, sure, we made a deal. You wished for the boat thing. I even popped into your office to make sure I’d really heard you wanted something.”

    “You were going to the deli; of course I wanted something. A sandwich.”

    Darrin chuckled, eyes flashing red again. “I didn’t ask you if you wanted a sandwich, did I?”

    Jim buried his face in his hands. “I don’t want this. Please, I just want things to go back…”

    “Look,” Darrin said, “bastard deserved it. And the way you loosened his boat so it would rocket off that trailer and run him over in that asshole convertible was poetic justice.”

    Jim’s voiced quivered. “You. Did. That.”

    Darrin laughed again. “Well, those security camera pictures tell a different story, don’t they Jimmy-boy?”

    Jim sobbed. “Please.”

    “Okay. Tell you what. Since I railroaded you at bit here, maybe I’ll let you off the hook.”

    “Oh, God. Thank you.”

    Those eyes burned a steady red now. “He has NOTHING to do with this.” The fire fading, Darrin backhanded Jim across the cheek.


    Jim startled awake and lurched upright, head thunking the bunk above. Rubbing his forehead, he stood and stretched.

    Something tickled the top of his bald head. A set of long shoe laces dangled from the sprinkler head.

    The iron door clanged open at the top of the cell block.

    “Johnson!” the guard barked, “Court day. Let’s make you presentable.”

    Jim snatched the laces and tucked them under his bunk. For later.

    A tear streaked his cheek.

    A man like him surviving a place like this was, well, just plain wishful thinking.

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