Echo Hall

By Virginia Moffatt

Three generations of women experience love, loss and conflict in times of war

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Flash Fiction Marathon (4): Horror Stories

To celebrate National Flash Fiction Day next Saturday (25th June). I am taking story prompts people send me and turning them into stories, publishing one a day.

The fourth prompt is from Andrew Wille: A torch and a wicker basket.


Horror Stories


‘Ooh...The Wicker Man is on TV on Saturday,’ Sarah grins.

‘Count me out,’ says Andrew.

‘What?’ He loves horror films. They both do - they met at Fright Fest, he proposed on Hallowe’en, their favourite pastime is naming their top ten scary movies. How can he not like Wicker Man?  How have they never talked about it? ‘But it’s the BEST...’ He doesn’t reply. ‘I can’t watch it on my own.’

‘You’ll have to.’ He changes the subject. It’s most unlike him; he is normally so enthusiastic about all things horrifying. Every time she tries to discuss it, he won't be drawn. He must be teasing her for some reason. Perhaps, he wants a build up, to make it extra frightening. The more she thinks about it, the more she realises that must be it.

She begins to make plans.

On Saturday, he is working late. By the time he returns home, the front room is ready. The lamps are dressed in red scarves, to give an illusion of fire. An imitation Wicker Man, purchased on Ebay and delivered that morning, stands in the corner. The popcorn and beer are by the sofa, the TV is also set to watch.

‘Surprise!’ she yells as Andrew walks in the room.

‘Sarah!!!!’ He marches straight out again. What on earth is wrong with him? She follows him into the kitchen. He is shaking. ‘I told you Sarah...I told you...’

‘I thought you were joking.’

‘No means NO.’

‘I am so sorry.’

‘Leave me alone. And put that bloody model in the garage.’  She does what he asks, tidying everything away. Soon the living room is returned to its usual calm.

‘Pizza?’ she asks a little bit later. He nods. Thankfully a large Pepperoni and a triple bill of ‘Dinnerladies’ rescue the evening, soon they are snuggling up and cosy. At the end of the night he says, ‘I think I owe you an explanation.’

‘It would help.’

‘Simon and Sally.’

‘Ah.’ Andrew’s older siblings were the cause of many a childhood trauma.

‘When Simon was thirteen he managed to get his hands on a copy of ‘The Wicker Man’. He wasn’t stupid enough to show it to me and Sally but he scared us rigid with stories about it. And then he made us play the game. He and Sally were villagers, I was Sergeant Howie. They’d chase me round the house to his bedroom. Sally would empty the wicker laundry basket and they’d put me inside. Then they’d turn off the lights, flash their torches at me, pretending they were lighting a fire till I screamed.’


‘But that wasn’t the worst bit.’


‘The game palled in the end. And by the time I was thirteen, I’d watched the film several times. I enjoyed being terrified and lusted after Britt Ekland. It was my favourite till...’ he puts his head in his hands.


‘One day when Sally was doing GCSEs, I was supposed to be at an after school club. But it was cancelled. When I came back I heard music. I wandered upstairs to find Sally’s bedroom door open. Her boyfriend was on the bed and she was performing Willow’s dance...’

‘Naked?’ He nods.

‘Oh the horror! The horror!’


Thanks Andrew for this prompt - the moment I read the word 'wicker' there was only one way this could go...

If you'd like to give me a prompt leave one below or on my Facebook page (Virginia Moffatt)

To find out more about National Flash Fiction Day and see all the fantastic events that are happening, please visit their website

The National Flash Fiction Day anthology 'A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed' is now on sale.

On Saturday 25th June I will be Writer in Residence at The Albion Beatnik Bookstore, 34, Walton Street, Oxford. Come down between 12-4, buy a book and order a piece of flash fiction while you're at it. All welcome.

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