Two-line Lovecraftian Horror contest!

ETA: Mark Jones is the winner! His entry:

I fold, I said, tossing down my cards. She ran an obsidian tongue over red, red lips and took the pennies from my eyes.

Thanks to the group of eZine Podcast panelists and supporters who helped me choose the winner.

Win this limited tray cased edition of Revival by Stephen King, from LetterPress Publications, still shrink wrapped! It is leatherette bound and has 17 illustrations by François Vaillancourt. It sells at Abebooks for $250 plus.

How do you win? Glad you asked.

You’ve heard of two-sentence horror stories, right? Well, this contest is all about two-sentence cosmic horror stories, and/or two-sentence Lovecraftian stories! SO: in the comments below, write a two-sentence story with that theme, and I’ll select a winner on April 20, 2021.

And if you haven’t read Revival, you really should. It’s great cosmic horror, and it’s only $8.99 on Kindle.

More images to whet your appetite:

After your submission, be sure to check out the latest issue of Cosmic Horror Monthly!

Listen to or watch our weekly podcast.

A synopsis of Revival, from Amazon:

A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written.

Many, many thanks to Matthew Carpenter for providing the prize.

THE (NOT SO) FINE PRINT: Unfortunately, I can’t afford postage out of the United States, so I won’t be able to award a prize to anyone outside of the continental USA. Sorry, folks.

93 responses to “Two-line Lovecraftian Horror contest!

  1. Fetid air burned my lungs as He emerged from the gigantic mountain fissure, drawn to the frantic cries and chorus chants of his now naked and blood drenched followers. My mind reeled in abject terror as I had witnessed not just His glorious return but also from the brief preview of the upcoming death and violence that was instore for this pathetic planet we call Earth and he calls lunch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cthulhu becomes aware, stirring in the stygian gloom, sending psychic emanations into the waiting cosmos. The stars are not right, and he turns in his bed, falling again into the arms of Lethe.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There was no new world ahead, no home, and all that await the ship and its valuable cargo of colonists was that thing. How many such beings dispatched their envoys to the young races of the galaxy, envoys like the ‘Leader’, convincing them to deliver themselves as fodder to glut their cosmic overseers?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The old Good-Book was right: the bride of the lamb will come again, his 144,000 young trailing on dangling teats. The trump shall sound and the hoary host will descend in the final reaping of the righteous, making way for His ascension to his new earthly throne.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I finally stitched my eyes closed today and burst my ear drums, but I can still hear and see. The goat-thing sings to me of the death of universes.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. My gaze to the heavens revealed the sky yawning wide, revealing the sharp teeth of stars beyond. The cosmos then began to feast on my fear, sanity fleeing on my screams.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jamie raised his track mark covered arms, his guitar in one hand and his tongue in the other. He attempted to scream as barbed tentacles wrapped themselves around his hands and mouth, and ripped him apart as his sacrifice was rejected.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Pha’tueee mglw’mudratfs Cthulhu R’lyeh wahh fhtagn,”
    the batrachian-lipped old geezer proclaimed,
    and then grinned lewdly at the newlywed couple,
    which translated meant only one thing:
    The bathrooms were currently out of order.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. It scared him to his spine when he realized they’d existed way before any human breathed an ounce of air. After the cold realization, the very first thing he did was check his soul to ensure it’s still intact and there.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. In treacherous places, where lightning dreams, the Cyber Gods wake, stirring from a restless, aching slumber; hoping, gnawing, and scratching. Broken free from the cobwebbed dark of the vacuous night, their silvery faces laughed, drinking in every last nightmares, but still, they wanted more and no longer in treacherous places would the Cyber Gods sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It scared him to his spine when he realized that they’d existed way before any human breathed an ounce of air. After the cold realization, the very first thing he did was checking his soul to ensure it’s still there and intact.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. And, as the man watched the droplet glide down the window, he could suddenly see the organisms traveling at breakneck speed within… Longing to make this race, this survival. No

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The sleeper awakes from a nightmare, sweating and gasping for breath. “What a horrible place that planet Earth was,” it thinks.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “It really is a miracle,” the nurse mused, peering in at the tightly-swaddled bundles arrayed behind the viewing glass. “And to think that just days ago, they were out there among us, walking around with limbs like Real people!”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Farmer Burgess didn’t know why the moss had come- creeping across his land and claiming his crops, his home, and finally his wife (whose breath now came rattling from the black mass in the root cellar). He only knew how it felt in his dream, the one where his mouth
    opened wide as the growth rushed from his throat like a thick and soundless scream.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Oleaginous tendrils are searching through my memories, I can feel the happiest times disappearing, as it gorges itself. The feel of cold steel on my teeth, the acrid taste of cordite on my palate, as I prepare to starve the beast.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Shivering and sweat-soaked I awoke from my dreams in the Innsmouth Motel. I swallowed a scream when I opened my eyes to discover that I could still see that infinitesimal but interminable gap between the wall and the floor and could still hear the murmuring sounds calling me towards it.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The burn scars were agonizing, but he plucked the manuscript from the fireplace, feeling a brief sense of vertigo as if being lifted. Whole charred sections of the house fell into an empty void, and he limped away, cursing the author, and screaming at the bystanders for an ambulance.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Oleaginous tendrils are searching through my memories, I can feel the happiest times disappearing, as it gorges itself. The feel of cold steel on my teeth, the acrid taste of cordite on my palate, as I prepare to starve the beast.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. The stars are finally right for the Children of the Sky to rise and claim their place above the kings of Earth, and darkness will reign in the skies forever.

    Jooooooin uuuuuussssssssss…….

    Liked by 1 person

  21. On his death bed, the old man, whowas my Uncle althoughestranged from my late father, told me to destroy the Book, literally to burn it in the old wood stove.
    I wish to God that Ihad, listened and obeyed his final wish.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Silence greeted him once more, the pulsing light a calming, gentle wave of surreality that embalmed his body in viridian, releasing his mind from it’s fleshy prison. The fury of his painting had abated now, lost in the susurration of light molecules, lines of scarlet and brown, torn from his own body in tribute to The One True King, dripped from the walls and his tongue- severed, pink, useless – sang praises from the nail on the wall in praise of the Old Ways.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. He touched the scar on his chest, its smooth orbit somehow soothing. He watched maggots burst from a pigeon on the street and was touched by an uncanny remembrance, but the moment soon passed and was forgotten, whilst the thing inside him curled ever tighter.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. As he walked into the intense darkness, he felt it congealing around him, thick and glutinous as it sucked at his soul. There would be no way out of this, he knew that, but still he fought to retain what little sanity he had left.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. At 10:07 PM, a cacophony of terror filled the air as every animal, domestic and wild, in the neighborhood began screaming. Though she knew her God to be impotent at best and imaginary at worst, Professor Leticia Benson fell to her knees and recited the litany of her childhood prayers, for she alone knew the truth: something had awakened.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. “Granfer, Granfer Whateley, the stars, they’re RIGHT!”
    “Wilber, lad, I’ll let you into a little secret – the stars are ALWAYS right.”

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The storm rocked the Pacific Princess cruise ship as the leader of the mutineers stared at the sat-nav screen and shouted out the readings to the grim-faced man at the wheel. Around the bridge, the remainder of the leader’s men stared out the windows and continued to chant as the passengers, lashed to the railings and beaten by the wind, the rain and the ocean spray, stopped moaning and crying and began to scream as tentacles rose up from the troubled sea.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Staff Sargent Wilcox ignored the sporadic sounds of gunfire and dogtrotted to the crashed Toyota pickup, ignored the driver whose brains were splattered over the interior of the cab, and flipped back the tarp covering the truck bed to expose a pile of books and pottery that had obviously been looted from the Iraq Museum. From a shattered window across the street and two floors up, a dark man stood with his rifle held loosely in his hand and grinned as the American slipped the Al Azif into his backpack and hurried back to his men.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. It is said that everybody alive at the time remembers where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated. The same might be true of the day that Nyarlothotep arrived in town had there been anyone who remained sane enough to remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. “Brothers, Sisters, exult and allow your ebullience to spasm and convulse your flesh in paroxysms of euphoria; moreover, ululate your passionate release as His presence washes over you, as you are suffused with His blessing, as your fluids do spume and dribble, as your mind opens to the realization,” extolling voice lowering to near a whisper. “To the realization, Carcosa has arrived…”

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Trapped forever behind a glass-steel dome, I watched as our vessel pulled away – leaving me behind, as a willing sacrifice to the creatures, that our own planet might be spared.

    Too late, realization dawned: the creatures had gone to Earth with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. After days of fine meticulous work, her bridal gown was finally finished. Trying it on, she spun giddily around the room, almost oblivious the the screams of the flayed to their gods and mothers.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. At last the artefact had been passed on, his family was safe – but what if Coleridge tried to return it? That would never do, he said to himself and raised the revolver to his temple.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. There is power at those dark ancient places for sure, a power without expression in our language of cultures to describe, they speak of illusive forces, of timelessness and of cosmic terror. They speak silently of antediluvian sinister rituals to the grotesque gods of some long forgotten cult of the shadow and i fear these places, these ominous and forboding markers of worship.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. That blank year the shock of the most astonishing discovery in all of human history fell upon me: Edwin Hubble, through his examination of the ceaseless blinking of Cepheid variables, revealed that more than one galaxy existed, that the universe was filled with galaxies, each with billions of stars, with horrendous empty gulfs of space between them. This revelation of the massive meaningless of human accomplishment in the context of the universe’s unimaginable, dizzying size caused the hairs on my missing legs to prickle erect.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. As I crept toward the sickly glow emanating from the opening ahead of me I heard chanting in a tongue no earthly voice was meant utter, it’s rhythm and cadence utterly alien and unsettling, I peered through the doorway and beheld a scene I cannot possibly recount for the mere thought of it renders me nauseous with terror. A part of my very soul has never left that place and never will, gripped in the terrible maw of the horror birthed there for all the black aeons to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Emerging from the newly thawed cyclopean ruins, having been nearly lost in the insane geometry of its labyrinthine interior, he knew they had awoken it. Not the lumbering leviathan of childish nightmares, but the microscopic malevolent beings that were now in everyone of them—exhaled by the millions in every breath.

    Like

  38. What I thought was a phantom that danced upon my vision proved itself all too real once it began to stroke my hand. An unfathomable infinity burned itself onto my brain in that exact moment.

    Like

  39. This small boy, huddled in fear, shivering in the dark of a starlit night and staring at the shadowed valley hills. Over the eastern ridge crawled something, immense and horrible, conjured from his own mind to terrify his restless sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. The captain and crew of ‘The Adventurer ‘ watched in awe as the northern lights lit up the night sky. Unaware that something monstrous was watching them, waiting to suck out their life force.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Growing up with cats and dogs, I got used to the sounds scratching at my door while I slept. Now that i live alone, it is much more unsettling.

    Like

  42. Having cast eyes upon the old ones, he stood there paralysed with fear as they shuffled passed accompanied by a sibilant hiss. It was only a matter time before one of them noticed him and then it would all be over, there would be no coming back from this discovery.

    Like

  43. Marilyn awoke a hospital room when the burning in her lower body became unbearable. Outside her room, the nurses and doctors celebrated the first successful insemination by a Deep One in ten years.

    Like

  44. The first radio telescope powerful enough to detect the big bang was finally complete. The scientists waited with bated breath as the speakers crackled to life with the signal: “Never gonna give you up”

    Like

  45. Julia wept as she slumped to the floor; her knife slick with the blood of her children. She begged, “Please — no more,” but the whispers from the well continued to demand even more from her.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. The Eater of Souls cruised the cosmos in search of sustenance, having devoured entire worlds, eating and thriving, until They came to Earth. For a long while, They sat above the atmosphere, searching for life, and when found, attempted to feed, but alas, someone—or rather something—had beat Them to it.

    Like

  47. The man began a high-pitched keening, his face cracking into an impossibly wide smile. With a sound like the splintering of a billion bones, the heavens replicated the gesture.

    Liked by 3 people

  48. Thin fingers, strangely elongated and adorned with pulsing, feathery veins sculpt the shape of Jeremy Meyrink’s chin, his cheeks, his lips – a tentative, teasing delicate touch that travels the roadmap of his face. Satisfied, the fingers caress with ease the fleshy neck, therein to guide him into Quonstz, City of Silent Vigil, a place where Dreams are formed.

    Like

  49. It is not known if the Mi-Go have any thoughts about their existence, although it is recorded in one incident that a group of Mi-Go – having fallen asleep on a hot summer day in a field of strangely weeping flowers, their ellipsoid forms writhing under intense heat – seemed to melt into the terrain, their bodies becoming a viscid puddling that nourished the purple-hued flowers wherein which they lay. The rest of the story appears clothed in mystery, although there can be no doubt whatsoever that a number of travelers throughout the land have reported seeing scarlet-petaled flowers with long drifting stamens floating against the moonlit night, creatures endowed with membranous wings traveling through the aether with carefree ease, their destination unknown and unfathomable.

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  50. Death is almost upon me, I feel it as the deep dark hole in the middle of the room grows larger, larger by the second, the voices they whisper to me, ‘He’s awoken! He’s coming! He’s everywhere!’. I am nearing the end of my pitiful existence, my last desire is to jump, not for him, but for my meaningless existence, I can’t fight it anymore, I AM DONE!

    Liked by 1 person

  51. My eyes throbbed when I looked directly at the strange shapes the professor drew on the white board, her erratic motions and sick grin offering no solace. But slowly, an understanding kindled behind my consciousness, and I smiled, too.

    Like

  52. These things I remembered; my father excited about my scholarship to Miskatonic University and my mother crying as the train pulled out of the station to carry me, her daughter, to a new life. These memories I tried to hold onto as my roommate’s chanting faded along with the light which dimmed and left the room filled with a velvet darkness until the nameless colors swirled around me and I knew no more.

    Like

  53. Thran, his naked chest heaving, his hand tight around the grip of his nicked and bloody sword, trod across the field of slaughtered men and horses toward the hill where the king stood with his yellow robes swirling in the wind that stank of death and fear. The king raised a hand and traced a sign in the air whereupon the dead rose up and Thran, though his blade again drank deep of the blood of his foes, was finally sent, broken and bloody, to join his comrades to battle forever in the land of the dead.

    Liked by 2 people

  54. Helen grabbed the book from her younger brother’s hand and pranced around the room holding the book just out of his reach and singing, though terribly off key, “Cthuhu gonna get you if you don’t watch out!” Later that night, Helen was awoken by the sound of her brother chanting, then the weight of slime covered tentacles as they dragged her through her bedroom window.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Debra stopped her SUV behind a row of likewise stopped cars, tapped the screen on her navigation unit and cursed and damned the thing to an everlasting electronic hell. As some explainable compulsion gripped her, she got out of her vehicle and walked through the other cars until she felt something wet and hard wrap around her ankle and drag her screaming into the darkness.

    Like

  56. The blood moon rose above the foaming waves as the twelve stood on the black sand, raised their hands and chanted as had their ancestors of old. At the last, a monstrous wave rose up and crashed down on the shore to shatter the bodies of the supplicants and free their souls to drift on ethereal winds forever amid the dimming stars.

    Liked by 2 people

  57. The months-long headache failed to be subdued by even the strongest of medicines at his disposal. And, as he saw the tiny, clawed, hand slide around from behind the orb of his eye, he finally understood why.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. I’m sure that it would seem odd if I were to tell you that the scratching in the walls, but mostly in the ceiling of our coastal cottage, will be the eventual death of myself and my family. My own end does not concern me nearly as much as my little sister’s – bereft of experience as she is – but mostly because her screams wake us all at night and when we try to console her she babbles incomprehensibly about something that scratches its way into our world; whose origin is vague, either beyond the stars or beneath the abyss of the ocean depths, or both.

    Liked by 2 people

  59. Floating in space, in their claws the torn remnants of his soul, he watched them terrorfied as they left the sane world behind. It didn´t matter, their spawn would lay all to waste and feed on the living and the dead alike.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Others may despair over ever opening the box, the metallic scraping of the latch breaking the silence in the dark and giving rise to a sudden pounding from within me— the entrancing gleam an exhilaration, but I have no regrets. I and no other shall decide my path until the last, as the inevitable surges closer, closer, to the moment he brings the unraveling I have yearned for and I am consumed.

    Liked by 1 person

  61. I shall not venture forth ever again, nor seek that beyond humanities ken. I have ensured this with the expedient solution of taking this hacksaw to mine own ankles and disposing of the meddlesome feet that took me places I should never want to know again.

    Liked by 1 person

  62. Blinded by the horror of what he had seen, he prayed to his eldritch Gods for their succor to help him find the mystic door back to his place and time. He begged them to let him leave this place called earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. I’d been following my brother for 6 days in the mountains, lost and hungry. When we came to the mouth of the cave and I heard the low humming inside, a red smile came across his face and I knew he was not my brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  64. By what darker fate, or adamantine will, was I swept from Earth to lie upon these alien shores? Already I feel the Others crowd about me, hear myself crying out at tentacles that rip my skin away, and recalling the words of my mother – that old crone: “Consume the fruit and spurn the rind!”

    Liked by 1 person

  65. That morning the Ancient Evil rose gleefully from its eons-old slumber, anxiously anticipating the utter devastation it would soon inflict upon the unsuspecting populace of this earth. It returned to its watery lair by mid-morning disheartened and forlorn, bewildered by the realization that the sheep had long ago slaughtered themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  66. I fold, I said, tossing down my cards. She ran an obsidian tongue over red, red lips and took the pennies from my eyes.

    Like

  67. That there was to be a full moon on Halloween in the year 2020 was a detail not lost on me; there has always been trouble when these phenomena coincided. What I was not prepared for was the lack of Gatekeepers and Gatecrashers willing to participate during a pandemic, to the point that no one was there to interfere with whatever came through the vortex, but rest assured SOMETHING got through!

    Liked by 1 person

  68. When Jack swore to climb the enormous beanstalk, towering over our town, and bring back riches beyond our wildest dreams, we hailed him as a hero.

    Now, as creeping tendrils break our axes and the golden eggs at his feet begin to hatch, Jack screams of cyclopean vistas, shantak birds, and a vast shambling abomination coming to devour us.

    Liked by 2 people

  69. Slumping to the flagstone floor, begrimed with mingled blood and ash, praying for the silent boon of death, still I saw It. Hateful and vast, the Just God Awoke.

    Liked by 1 person

  70. My identity will be ground to dust under the wheel of their regard long before they tire of my suffering. Faced with an eternity of this, why go on?

    Liked by 1 person

  71. The mother’s final push birthed her new child into this brave new world. But as ecstatic as she was to meet her baby, for some reason she shrieked as the newborn sat up, looked her in the eye, and said “Put me back, I want to return to my other family.”

    Liked by 1 person

  72. I finally realized the power I have as a computer game designer. I could easily command thousands of MMORPG players to all participate in the same quest, recite the same spell, make the same sacrifices, all while the stars align at my command.

    Liked by 1 person

  73. The first thing they do not tell you is that your mind gets trapped inside your unresponsive body after death, permanently awake and aware as your body slowly falls to pieces.
    The second thing they do not tell you is that consent becomes meaningless.

    Liked by 2 people

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