2020 Short List

The top 10 entries.

(excluding the winner)


Luís Herrera

In the darkness where I lurk, I see you so clearly, at first you are the phantom I long
to see so dearly. Your form ever changing as I stare at you, always more and more alluring,
But somethings wrong. Those upward curling lips and round eyes, a fake smile painted on
for the world to see.

Never truly showing that gorgeous. Until one day I see you step before me, streak of
red running down your face, cuts clawed into your cheek. You’ve killed, and in that
person’s death you’ve found your true smile, and I find my reflection.

Fork in the Road


Spyder Collins

Quietus labors along the Road of Bones with Raven. Maggots swim in his veins, giving birth to bats. He pulls the ash of the dead from a pocket and sprinkles it along the path.


"Follow the crumbs," he says, as the wandering soul follows.


Raven takes flight from his shoulder and circles the forlorn. Their pitiful cries serenade her.


They come to a fork in the road. Quietus smirks as he sees the light and the dark. He knows where the souls of God belong.


"Come," he says, and the soul of man followed.


Untitled (Dripping)


Shad Freud



Life's blood falling to the chittering, ravenous rats below.






A man hangs suspended, bound and gagged, staring with lidless eyes in horror at his death five feet below.






Antimony pentaflouride sizzles as it eats the braided cable holding the man aloft.






A man watches the video on his phone, his eyes gleaming with sadistic delight.








In minutes, the shrieking stops. Minutes after, the rats squabble over the remaining scraps of bone while the sadist turns off his phone.

Untitled (Death's Patience)


Matthew Cross

Death paces me patiently.

In my youth, I was careful. No foolish stunts for me.

Death smiled. Nodded. Waited.

As an adult, no speeding, no drinking, no drugs.

No fun? Tut, tut. Still Death smiled.

In middle age, I watch my weight. My cholesterol.

Cancer? None so far.

He shrugs.

I’m older still. Moving slowly now. Carefully.

No hurry.

Death and Time are old friends.

Death can sit and chat a bit.

Sight dims, hearing goes.

A cane; a walker.

I’m careful not to break a hip.

He sharpens his scythe.

Shhhhhhhh ...

You fear him not?

One day, you will.

Untitled (Crack)


Tori Kent


The sound of her breastbone, pried open. She glanced up, the moon full and bright as she lay on her back.


“More.” She ordered. The woman above her grunted, pulled harder, fingers buried in her chest. Bones straining. Creaking.


Blood pooled down naked flesh. Warm and wet.


“Hold it open,” she urged. Grunts above her, more hands. The pressure. The beautiful pain. Her own fingers fluttered and danced, searching for the wretched thing inside her. The weak, useless organ. It beat against her hand wildly, like an animal. She ripped it out.


“Now, I am the monster,” she smiled.



Des M. Astor

His eyes flew open, the deep blue gazing to the moon as his entire body spasmed.


His blood was oozing from his eyes, nose, and mouth.


He choked and gagged, gurgled whimpers pouring from his throat.


The color of his irises began to flicker, as if something ruptured behind his eyes, forcing the change to a deep crimson.


Spiraling screams grew erratic as his jaws opened unnaturally wide.


His cheeks tore open.


One by one, his teeth shattered into several pieces.


Shark-like fangs jutted out from every spot where his old dentition used to be.


A vampire was born.




Smiles, grins, baring teeth, sharp and black. Head cocked, glancing back, eyes ablaze. I cannot look, so I run. A maze of rooms with doors ajar. No escape in endless space. But there it is in every nook, every room. Mocking, teasing, basting putrid glory.


Heart bursting, lungs burning, giving out. Panic, fear, doubt, dwindling light. Feed for beasts that grow beyond time's crooked moans. It need not follow. It's always there. The Devil laughing.


In the corners.


In the rooms.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat


Kai Barcellos

Row, row, row your boat,

Quickly down the stream.

Wearily, wearily, wearily, wearily,

They can’t hear you scream.


Row, row, row your boat,

The fear makes you blind.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

I trail close behind.

Row, row, row your boat,

Getting tired, I see.

Scarily, scarily, scarily, scarily,

Hear me laugh with glee.

Row, row, row your boat,

Let me watch you fight.

Happily, happily, happily, happily,

I will take a bite.

Untitled (Shadow People)


Erika Ceniceros

Shadow People You can not escape them no matter how far you run, because where there is light they are sure to be right behind.


The reflection in the mirror, the sound of your laugh, and the memories of your past, will all come to be your last.


A true mimic of your every gesture, a thirst for 3D life, they are the masters of the perfect disguise.


Once you’ve been chosen all your words will forever be unspoken. Out of the darkness they rise, while darkness swallows you whole... Welcome to your new home!