's 2018 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Viola "Ms" Fortune

In the narrow windy valley was the name of a girl called Cindy shouted, a crowd of a desperate hundred. She had walked to play with friends, to meet odd ends. But now it was 3 of the next day, and she was meant to be back for a supper now cold. She was 9, and perhaps forever would be.


"CINDY?! CINDY! YOU CAN COME OUT CINDY, YOU WON'T GET IN TROUBLE IF YOU JUST PLEASE! COME! OUT!" Said her father joe, his throat feeling sore, as had been shouting all night and day. Of course, every stone had been turned, every wooden stump checked inside, fox holes, even particularly large leaf piles, and some of the smaller ones, too. A breeze blew past everyone, creating an eerie melody, like the howls of a specter or ghost. The sound of megaphones and sirens and screams barely muffled it.

After a day of searching, all that came up of her was her hat, a hat with an adorable tiny pixie on it, found at a tree, and given over by a fairly tall man. He looked almost sickly, pale as he was, with a disheartened look on his face. "She the wrong part of the trees. I don't think she'll be found." Said he, to the nearest officer he could find. his clothes were ragged from digging and climbing, though the buttons on his coat gleamed bright as the moon. "I should probably break the news to her father...may I have your name, sir? and could you point me to him?" The brightness in his eyes as he spoke to the cop seemed trustworthy enough. "Phillip Grundy, son. thank you for helping, at least." and the man in the ragged coat nodded, bowing his head.

In the end, he never did talk much to joe, merely showing her hat, the pixie torn, as though a branch was run through it. "...I sorry as I can be.". That night, Joe Norton left town, To later be found at a pub far from home, Dead in the alley of hypothermia. Handled poorly, It was, for a girl who was never found.

and life went on.


The man who had found her hat settled nicely into his cottage, listening to his Records, reading his antique books. He Always smelled of tobacco or some other burnt thing, and his eyes sparkled like jewels, and his pale red hair rested against his old shoulders, and On the door he had hung a simple wooden sign: "You are welcome.". It used to be joe's house, but no one wanted it besides him anymore. Rumoured to be haunted, from the orbs within and the assortment of junk tossed about, Though that was written off as a breakdown by Mr Norton from the disappearance of his daughter. years passed, and everyone in the town loved their good neighbor, Ainsley Seth. He never corrected them.

He always had a nice few gifts to give, and he had been smart enough to ask for everyone's names, and he had the nicest soups on earth, things no one in town had ever seen except on the tv boxes or in magazines. Mountain Dew, cookies, and sometimes for the teens, with a wink of his eye, some of the nicest beer you can get. He only ever said it was from friends.And always, he was the first to show up whenever there was an accident.

Sometimes, he would dress up as one of santa's helpers, passing out charms and bracelets and necklaces with names on them, For his little pets he would say with a hearty chuckle. And of course, he would always deny that he was one of santa's elves, saying Santa stole the outfit and even Idea for a name from him and his pals.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- it was ten years later that the first True Accident occurred, a boy named ricky was riding his bike, and wound up running over Ainsley's foot, not accidentally, either. But of course, not long after he lost his balance, and hit a tree. the medics on scene described it as possibly the worst freak accident the town had ever seen, with ricky's eyes gouged upon two branches, which Ainsley offered to help Grab for the hospital, In case, in his words, "in case Your medicine science stuff has gotten good enough to fix this." He seemed detached, perhaps a form of shock, thought people at the scene. Ricky hanged himself a week later, the note left being mostly scribbles, including what appeared to be Ainsley's name, and an O with a few overlapping letters inside, including the letter A. at least, what looked like letters.

At the funeral, Ainsley was seen crying off in an alley, clutching his head, as the church bells rang. He seemed ill, and his skin was almost hanging off his bones. But the next day, Ainsley was himself again. And it was odd.

and for a time, life went on.

but only for a time.


more incidents would come to pass, eventually.

The first of these was heather o'bannon. She was a happy go lucky girl, who wanted to learn a magic trick she'd seen on the tv box, a man burning a rose to make a ring. Ainsley, of course, the town's favorite man, offered to help her. "Lords Should always help little ladies, I Believe.".

So he set about making his special soup, with ground coffee beans and a little bit of nutmeg, and mustard seed, to help him focus. He swallowed down his weird coffee, grabbed the rose and a lighter, and let out a nice echoey burp, like that green one eyed man on the tv, who was friends with the bod--bugbear. and sure enough, the fire sparked at the rose, but the smoke spared at heather o'bannons little green eyes...little blue eyes?. she blinked a few times, and rubbed her eyes, and her vision went back to normal, except for ainsley, who seemed really weirdly fuzzy. He simply put on a corny smile, kissed the ring, and put it on her, and he was back to normal, after that.He simply brushed her aside, after that, to her confusion.

months later, several families entrusted their children to him, after all, for all they remembered, ainsley had ALWAYS been here, and had never acted up, always seemed friendly. So they kissed their kids, said their byes for nows, and headed off, either for business trips across the country or to sell the towns main exports of crops, especially mushrooms (and lately there had been an abundance of those, as an aside.) Ainsley assured them in his kind raspy voice "Don't worry, the little ones won't miss you much for long at all, while i am around!", and he began to sing. it was funny, of course, that he was singing the same song when they got back, and that the children seemed to be listening intently to this folksy song. later that night, to their parents confusion, several children started crying about having missed their favorite shows and not even knowing they had, as though no time had passed.

The next of these incidents came when Mister Ainsley was robbed, by a man who had left behind nearly no traces, except for a hair. But when police eventually found where he was, they found a man who did not HAVE hair, which was fair, considering that from the hands up, he was burnt to a crisp, flesh melting and fused to his clothes. no one knew how long he'd been waiting like that, but all he could do is say "He spit on me, He SPIT on me, HE SPIT ON ME-" over and over again, like a broken record. at the burn ward, he would idly scratch into the surface spirals, three overlapping into one, fairly often.

Another oddity of his worth noting was hardly his fault, really. He was merely helping about a restaurant, paying for food he had been given, cleaning the dishes. But he did not stay long at all, for he soon burnt himself Very badly upon a Black Frying Pan, cast iron and recently used for burgers. as soon as he ran cold water on it, after swearing up the loudest storm he could, that is, He bandaged his hand and headed home. On the way out the door, a chef asked if he was alright, asking if he had cut himself, especially since the water was so so cold. of course, that chef never asked that question again after the stare he got, or any other question after he wound up being attacked by a wild raven, which tore his tongue in half.


""And what do you want this holiday season, little girl?"

"I'd like a pony, but if you can't get me that, could I have some flowers, grampa ain--

"ah ah ah, what do you call me this month?"

"oh, sorry, mister elfy! could I get a Flower garden?"

"is that all?"

"Well, I know you like to be magic, so could I get it in bed?"

"Heh, we'll see!""

"isn't that just the cheeriest conversation? I Just wish she'd stop puttin’ dirt in my bed before we sleep, but I guess we should let ainsley have fun with his practical jokes, it ain't like they're hurtin' anyone." the next week, The girls mother was taken to the hospital, and treated for the strangest case the doctors had ever seen: it appeared as though various lilies and mushrooms had started sprouting in Mrs's wheelers pores, as well as a fair bit of mold, which was also found in the vents of the house. After several extractions and scrubs, she was admitted to the psyche ward, shaken as she was, talking about how santa's helper had told her daughter to do this, that the fog in her eyes was everywhere around him. but his pranks never hurt anyone, right?

"I heard the neighbor kids have been bullying you, jack, is that right?"

"Yes sir, and i wish they'd stop"

"...perhaps I can help, if you help me out, someday, ok?"

And jack nodded his head. Ainsley then rushed out the door, with a pace that if he'd been climbing up the windy mountains he would have nearly frozen to death, and talked as kindly as he could to the neighbor kids, making them a strange promise and offer.

"you know, if you kids leave jack alone, I bet you'll do a LOT better in school. just make sure you leave him alone, alright? is that a deal?"

And the kids nodded their heads as well, though with fingers crossed. and For a Bit, they did listen, sure, and they could do math much better in their heads, and connect the lines the teacher wanted them to connect. But they grew bored of this one day, and began pelting rocks at poor jacky boy, who ran home crying. the next day, the neighbor kids went fishin, and they caught the biggest catch of their lives, a nice alligator snapping turtle! Needless to say, they weren't writing so well with a collective 7 fingers between them. But his words never hurt anyone, right?

Not everyone thought so.


Over time, Ainsley became less conversational in public, but perhaps more so, greeting everybody by their names, and requesting a few come over to his house for dinner, children especially of course, but anyone who he'd invited was welcome. Strange how much they loved it, that they decided to fulfill a request for him. He called each of the ten men he had brought by name, asking them to add to his log cabin house, new rooms and decor if they could, and the 10 women to make new clothes for everyone in the house. Everyone loved Ainsley, and he had been polite enough to ask by each name individually, so it would seem from the outside.

And so, they moved in, and so, they stopped showing up to the church services, always tending to ainsley's migraines during those hours. No one seemed to mind as Ainsley taught them about his cooking recipes, and his fun quaint games such as "Hunt the hare and turn her down" and "Hurling" and sword fights with walking sticks. And why should they? every time the children went out to play, they met new friends, just like Ainsley, after all, and Ainsley did say he'd bring em over on halloween, only a month away now.

He talked and he sang of his friends from back home, all dancers and writers and men of all interesting talents. “Once, my friend Mac managed to slice both his hands off of his own arms, and Louie had to put em back on, but the first time he did, he got the arms Wrong! Ho ho ho…”. And everyone watched his chuckles from his toothy grin, the smoke blowing gently across the room, before he properly put his face back on. Toothy. Very toothy. And pale. Paler than the moon.

He spoke that halloween was the only time they came out, lest people be too scared of them, lest all doors be shut, but on samhain, the doors would be open, and they could do as they pleased...were it not for that vicious cruel church, Father Mackenzie, and his horrid bell. But it was time for his 20 children and 15 younglings to rest, for tomorrow indeed they must seek new friends, and calling them each by name, he sent them to rest within the homely rings.

And soon, life would not go on much longer.

For he grew bored. As they always do.


“Go out there, dear children of the town, and add horns to every statue you see, every cross, every idol. Do this thing for me, and you shall be rewarded, aye? And while you’re at it, get rid of the happy go lucky disney bullshit. It is Wrong.”

“But why, Ainsley?”

“Should not the man known as god have horns?”

“But ain’t that what the devil is supposed to look like?”

“The devil is unnatural, young one. Why would he have a symbol of nature and strength?”

And so they set out on their bidding, entering homes with small ornate horns, carved of bone, to add to each image of holiness, a bit of a welcoming symbol, really. Course, this meant ANY deity, too, not just the one on the cross, but luckily, they had gotten that memo. And Ainsley grinned, inspecting each one, for the first time he could with his eyes shining like pearls and gems.

And the local priest from another land, Father Mackenzie, began to dread Ainsley. He kept to himself, of course, as anyone wise enough would or should, but he began to plan, to get rid of this old man. But first, a bake sale.


“Come in, come in! We should all be thankful that we all showed, Especially Mister Seth!”

Ainsley tried to grit his teeth and look nice for the people, as the minister shook his hand, the minister noting that the digits he felt and the digits he saw seemed different. Sharper, for one. Longer, and perhaps...more numerous? But it did not matter, this is not what would expose Ainsley.

The whole town came, save one or two, and began browsing around, seeing the soaps, sampling the cookies, mostly berry laden, of course, and nodding, though not praying, simply chattering.

“Does Ainsley seem sick to you?” asked Janice O’Bannon, looking over at the silver haired man in the corner, his eyes covered with sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat.”

“Well, besides the complexion, i'd say he’s mostly himself.” Said The good father, patting him on the back, listening to see if Ainsley winced at his hand. To his credit, he did not.

“Here, Mister Seth, why not try some of these cookies? I baked em this mornin, ya know.”

And as the priest offered Ainsley a small plate, ainsley took a hold of it, almost unable to hold back his pain and sickness. The father had used water from the church, and it hurt his throat quite badly, even as he swallowed, without chewing much of course.

“Thank you, but I must be heading home quite soon, If I keep this up, Good sir…”

But the priest would not hear it, offering him more gifts: A horseshoe, for ring tossing with his friends, which Ainsley could not put in his pocket any faster, and a special stone just for him, triangular with a hole in the center. The father winked at him as ainsley rushed out the door, to the confusion of all but a few.



Ainsley was furious, beyond fury, beyond anything any man, woman, or child of the town had ever seen. And only one voice dared to speak. “I-it was cynthia, Grampa Ainsley..she got caught.”. The coward who spoke was Cynthia’s own father, but he could only barely be blamed, for the fate he knew ainsley would and could inflict. He turned to the child, naught but nine, and spoke: “Question me, do you know what happens to people who do not listen to me? To people who are bad?”

“N-no, grampa..”

“Allow me, then, to show you.”

And Cynthia knew the answer. It was teeth. Teeth and growth.

The lesser known neighbors of the town saw Ainsley planting a rose bush, and thought nothing of it.


Ainsley began setting out his halloween decorations, ghosts, mostly. It was unnerving, though, how each ghostly face seemed to stare at whoever was viewing, but perhaps he was just good at it. More unnerving was how everyone in the house began to stare, too. But hey, it was october. Perhaps everyone's favorite decor were the flames floating idly around his house, bobbing in the wind. No one could figure out how to pull THAT one off. And luckily for everyone, they never followed the flames, either.

For the flames were lonely.

And this month, Ainsley’s fun got odder and odder, each passing day. The second day of october, he began pacing back and forth at crossroads, at a swiftness that one could see him exit the same path twice in a row, before settling down, each time counting out loud. The third day, he would look at each animal in the neighborhood, counting out loud, with numbers inconsistent to the animals he was looking at. The fourth day, he started gathering birds, mostly crows, though ravens and robins and roosters alike would also be taken, to rest at his home.

At father mackenzies instructions, though, many people started nailing horseshoes above their doors, according to father mackenzie so that he would know who to give special treatment to on halloween day. Ainsley seemed angry, but then recollection flashed in his eyes. But whatever he remembered, he did not yet say.

On the fifth day, he invited as many as he could, and began carving wooden circles, and pipes and other such flutes, to hang within the trees. He did so with an odd rhythm in his mind, occasionally humming and dancing to it. Those who witnessed it even said at times it seemed as though he was guided, not just working on his own. But it did not matter much, in the end, for the sounds the wood made as wind blew through them was beautiful.

On the sixth day, he rested. But the town did not. Something was wrong in the air today, and fairly soon, what it was was evident. The animals of the town all had gotten sick, and one man was to blame, but only the 35 within his house knew who. Screwworm, it looked like, except at the same time, it seemed as though a severe cancer of the skin had afflicted each animal, and worse yet, many were found, pierced with shafts of wood. Ainsley simply looked solemn, and tired. But one could not say his aim had faded. Indeed, each were given shots, just as he had promised himself to practice.

On the seventh day, a week into the month of halloween, Ainsley changed, as the world grew thinner, so did he, no longer looking like an old man of average health, but rather, raggedy, thinner, and yet...more lively. Perhaps it was a very good costume. But even so, people were unsettled. And Ainsley knew it well.

On day eight, He started to send out letters. No one quite understood why, but there was much debate, especially when people got repeat letters. After all, what was everyone gonna do with seven letter o’s? And strangely, the church got no letters, just strange runes, like a circle with several interlinking parts, or a spiral made of 3 smaller spirals spreading outwards, as well as several packets of mushroom growth packs. Gifts...or something else.

On day 9, He ensured everyone had a jack o'lantern, muttering constantly about “for the party, for the friends, for the party, for the friends…”. Each flame was lit as he coughed into it, and the flames never went out. By now, though, the town had figured out something was WRONG with Ainsley. Rumors of satanism went around...but that wasn't quite it. Close? Perhaps, but that wasn't it.

...on the tenth day, the priest called each man into the church, except for those who would not come, for Ainsley had begun to assimilate their houses into his own. Some swore they could see shadows moving on the walls in those houses. People, walking back and forth, some dancing, some singing high to the sky. All laughing at intervals of an hour. And Ainsley saw where they stood. Even the ones that didn't truly look like people, at all. And that settled it...ainsley was something else. And he had fooled everyone. But many had joined him, already.

Day eleven was a quiet day of talk.

“Grampa Ainsley, I think they know what you are not…”

“That they do, child. But I am owed.”

“What will you do?”

“Make a man into a monster.”

On day 12, Ainsley sent for phillip grundy...or rather, summoned for him, for he already knew phillip grundy. He already had his name. And phillip came. “Phillip, I require something from you, ya unlucky sonuvabitch. I need you to get yourself killed by a priest. You will do this.”.

And phillip set off. It wasn't hard, of course. Phillip simply went to the priests house, and handed him the gun. Forcefully as he could, of course, making sure that when the priest gripped it, it'd go off. And it did. As the police officers brains leaked out of his skull, the priest knew who to blame, and immediately set out, especially since now, it was apparent he was doomed anyways. The priest rushed to Ainsley’s house, and said a prayer. Soon as he kicked the door in, people went on guard. Well, people wasn't quite the right term, they were a bit too stringy, a bit too pale, a bit too...cracked. But he was not here for them, and so merely, he told them as such. While they would have lunged anyways, The Gaunt Man who was called Ainsley, though it must now be noted it was not what he called himself stayed his loyal hounds.

“So, blessed father, what brings you to my home?”

“You know pretty well what brings me here, and do not say you don’t. You had that man killed so you could frame me, but i already had enough idea who you were that at least i could take care of you first.”

“And who might I be, father mackenzie?”

“You’re a demon, and i’ve come to exorcize you, and salt this house.”

The gaunt man tried, he really did, to maintain his composure. But just how wrong he was far too amusing.


“And what good is this lie going to do ya now?”

With that, the gaunt one grabbed the salt, and poured it on himself, smirking all the while. And the salt clung to him, forming something of an outfit.

“...i’m not a demon, is what good that quote unquote lie will do me.”

And so, The father died in that house tonight, and it would be kind to say he rose to heaven, but he did not. He rose to the swarm in the sky, with all the other dead nearby.

But his corpse lived. The corpse of the father would live still, walking all the same, puppeted well, but the thing inside of him was not the good father but something else entirely, because the good father had been wrong about what Ainsley was, and now what was inside of him was the same thing as ainsley. This shell felt odd, but it only needed to rot the right way, first.

And one last favor had to be cashed in. The child named jake was called to ainsley’s house. “On samhain night, i need you to Torch the church. It is a blasphemous thing, what stands where another should.”

“Whats a...Saw wayne?”

“...halloween, my child, even though I spit upon the idea of it being a hallowed night.”

“Yes, grampa ainsley, i’ll do that...I don’t get why, though.”

“It does not matter. And if you could, could you get a horse good friend, in the reverends outfit?”


And twas the night before samhain, and all through the town, not a creature was stirring, save for a Hound. Though, the hound here was of a different breed, for it was also a man, to Ainsley bound. It leaped and it bounced and it broke the ground, and widdershins it ran to form a mound. 14 pupils, 28 talons in all, and tomorrow, all within the ring would in Ainsley’s claw. After all, Halloween is a day of wearing costumes and having fun, but to the man always wearing a suit, then the only costume is no tricks at all. But all bent the knee, and no hope had they, for the man who helps them pray was nothing but prey. And their names had already been taken, so soon they shall be nothing but the greatest treats for the hounds bowls-- lots and lots of worried souls. And this prose and rhyme seems strange, after these vignettes featuring violence and a rose over such a long time, but remember...this is the way of every -----tale.


And life did not go on. But, you will not be hearing from any survivors what happened, for there are none as far as is known, just the sky stream, and I, a story smith, should not tell of our secrets.