Wednesday, October 20, 2021

WEP Challenge for Halloween Scream

 Time for our favorite Halloween bloghop with the writers at Write, Edit, Publish. A big thank you to Denise Covey for starting this group and to those who act as hosts. Nila, Laura, Jemi, Renee and Olga. Applauding. 

To read what others have written go here.


Tagline: While mourning the loss of her beautiful neighborhood, Becca discovers something terrifying. 

                                                                    Mud Spiders        

Becca collected her gardening tools in the garage and opened the automatic door to the front of her home. She stopped in the driveway to gaze across the street. The beautiful neighborhood that she and Charlie had moved into five years ago was gone. They’d chosen this small development because each house was well cared for and had beautiful landscaping. Now, not a single neighbor’s house remained except a few several blocks away.

First came the fires a little over a year ago, replacing the scent of fragrant blooms with billowing hot smoke that threatened to suffocate her. Everyone had been evacuated, and the news played twenty-four hours in the shelter where they’d stayed so they could keep an eye on the fire.

Once the fire was out, they returned home. Every home in the neighborhood was spared, but the high California hills behind her neighbor’s houses were burned barren. Heartbroken, she’d reminisced about peering through her binoculars at the top of those lush hills and viewing all the wildlife, now gone.

Then, last spring, the rains came. A record downpour lasting several days and ended when a mudslide crashed down on those homes across the street from hers. All in the middle of the night. She and Charlie woke to sirens and hurried to their large double-pane front window. The mud had almost crossed the street to their own front lawn. Not one of her neighbors had survived. She’d helped the rescuers as much as possible, but they refused to let her dig in the mud, so she opted to feed them breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And like the shelter, she served donuts, but hers were homemade. She loved cooking, and her home carried the scent of her many creations. Charlie bought beer to go with the dinners at the end of the day. And by the time she’d done all those dishes and was relaxing with her feet up, that beer was a welcome thirst quencher.

Now, as she gazed across at the once beautiful homes and gardens of her neighbors, she saw only devastation. Mounds of mud had buried the homes. The rescuers had dug it out, leaving behind part of the house, sticking up in broken boards, plywood, shingles, and glass. The smell was of earth and a kind of mold, if you could believe it. Becca had never smelled anything like it before. Rancid and full of decay. Because of it, she didn’t open her windows, even when evening brought a cool breeze to cleanse the world of the summer heat.

She knelt, rolled up the pink sleeves of her blouse, and began to weed. There were always weeds. It was a constant struggle, but since she loved gardening, she didn’t mind. The bees were busy moving from her purple phlox to the daisies and coneflowers. Each flower reaching toward the sun, displaying a delicate dance when the breeze rustled their petals, releasing their scent and surrounding Becca with joy.

She struggled with the roots of a stubborn weed when she heard a strange kind of sucking noise followed by a swish plop. She sat back on her heels and stared at her reflection in the window. Suck, swish, plop again. The air brought the toxic muddy scent to her. Becca turned. Coming across the street toward her were creatures, unlike anything she’d ever seen before. Their arms and legs were double-jointed and pushed out like spiders. Their round heads wobbled back and forth, and their yellow eyes stared at her. Globs of mud dripped from their bodies resulting in the plopping noise when it hit the pavement.

She dropped the gardening tool and stood, turning to fully face them. One, two, three, she counted. Like giant spiders, they advanced. Their movements were slow. Four, five, six…eleven. She stopped counting and backed up toward the open garage door. All the while, she heard the swish and plop and then the sucking noise as they lifted their feet from the pavement. As she stared, one of them stood like a human, and its front legs became arms with long fingers and no hand. It dripped mud from its long digits. They all dripped mud leaving behind blotches of sludge where they’d been. The goo oozed with popping bubbles, and then she saw the patches of mud spread out to rise up as another monster.

Her heart made a staccato rhythm that hurt her chest. The air was filled with choking decay. Finally, she turned and fled to the garage door that led inside the house. A roar was added to the clamor of their movement, and she turned, pressing the garage door’s button to lower it. When she did, they were all stood, their mouths open to issue yet another howl.

Becca was a practical person. She’d never screamed in her life. But she screamed now as the mud spiders launched themselves and landed on her body. Her scream was hushed when one of them slid its head into her open mouth.

The End


Word count 840

Thanks for coming by. Let me know what you think.

N. R. Williams


Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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Happy Halloween 


Elephant's Child said...

Aaargh (which is me screaming at your tale).
As if fire and flood wasn't enough...
I like spiders but would have screamed (for as long as I could) too.

Susan B.Rouchard said...

Thanks Nancy for this. Mud slides and spiders combined would indeed be very terrifying. Liked your build up to the character's final scream.

Jemi Fraser said...

Yikes! The swish plop had me worrying and I was right to worry!!! So well done!

Steph W. said...

**Shudder** I just kept thinking it was her dead neighbors! And I have to do gardening today. Boo!

Debbie D. said...

This is an arachnophobe's worst nightmare! 😱 I was cringing all the while and almost screamed at the end. Riveting piece! 👏👏👏

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you, Elephant, Susan, Jemi, Steph and Debbie.

For Halloween I aim to scare. Nightmares, free of charge.

Carrie Ann said...

I read this with just one eye open - I'm petrified of spiders!

Olga Godim said...

How horrible! A great entry for this theme.

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you, Olga.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Super creepy! Brilliant take on the prompt and just perfect for Halloween.

Denise Covey said...

Fire and flood - then mud spiders! Urk! What an horrific ending especially for someone who hates spiders! A great tale for Halloween Nancy. People who have a spider phobia will have nightmares!

Pat Garcia said...

This was very scary. I kept hoping she would run before they could hurt her.
Well done.
Shalom aleichem

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Quelle Horreur - Nancy! This is rather horrifying to think about ... I can certainly imagine a SciFi thriller developing here. Great take on the prompt - thank you, I think!! Cheers Hilary

Yolanda Renée said...

OMG, you've captured the horror of horrors for me. I'm deathly afraid of spiders and this is a nightmare in the making. So glad I didn't read it right before bed! Loved it, well, you know what I mean, excellent writing! :)

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Nilla, I aim for creepy. Hehe.

Hi Denise, yes, a spider horror thriller.

Hi Pat, I guess I'm getting good at scary.

Hi Hilary, Scary is the name of the game for Halloween.

Hi Yolanda, my daughter is terrified of spiders too.

Thank you all for coming by.

L.G. Keltner said...

This is terrifying in so many ways! First with the real world terrors that can kill you without warning, and then with the giant spiders. This story is creepy and well written!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi Nancy,

The "sound effects" are terrifying enough, let alone the dripping digits! This poor woman's demise was quite horrific after the many years of her neighborhood's tragedies.

Shilpa Gupte said...

Wow! I am not a fan of spiders, but I don't mind those creatures as long as they are real tiny. :D
I had goosebumps as I imagined these horrible ones...and the sound effects...I hope I can sleep well tonight. :D

Jemima Pett said...

Well! I was enjoying that until... the swish plop! Yeuchh!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

I was spooked enough with the fires and mudslides, given what's happening right now in CA. (I'm hoping the rain isn't causing slides, but that's a pretty forlorn hope). The spider-things were too much for me!

N. R. Williams said...

Hi L. G., thank you.

Hi Michael, thank you.

Hi Shilpa, I hope you got some sleep.

Hi Jemina, And now the swish plop will be in your thoughts.

Hi Rebecca, I hope you are safe from mudslides.

Thank you all for stopping by and reading.

Kalpana said...

Spiders of mud? I thought they're the dead neighbours. Very creepy. I loved the contrast of the pretty garden, the flowers, the donuts and beer with the fires and mudslides and digging for bodies. Well done.

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you, Kalpana.