Short Story: The Will

Joanna K Neilson:

The pit is dark and rats nibble at her toes. But is this Jane’s last chance for survival?

Originally posted on Joanna K Neilson:

Jane had been down here a long time…

This is an original piece written by Joanna K Neilson:


The Will

Worry gnawed at her bones. Her stomach was so empty it no longer hurt and she couldn’t remotely remember the softness of a bed. It was hard to sleep down here, in the cold darkness, with rats running over her feet and nibbling at her whenever she passed out from exhaustion and pain. No, there was nothing left inside her to shake off the misery, to fight for a way out. She was broken and beaten and wanted to die. He had destroyed her. What was left was a stringy, starving thing that could barely remember kindness or her life before these curving walls, kept in this dingy cellar space that stank of rodent droppings and her own filth. Her captor had grown bored of her, that’s the impression she…

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750 words Short story: Eck, Bill, and Lack-Lack

Joanna K Neilson:

750 words short story – a charnel pit, and an impossible question…..

Originally posted on Joanna K Neilson:

This was for the 750word .com challenge – 96 day streak!

To kick it off, I chose 3 words from flicking through Sherri S Tepper’s ‘Sideshow’ – a good book but haven’t finished it yet.

The words were:  Humiliated, smell, skull.

Eck, Bill and Lack-Lack

A dreadful reek rose from the sacrificial pit. A stink of uncommon gruesomeness permeated the flared nostrils of the king’s chief poison taster, whose refined nostrils recoiled in revulsion. Eck didn’t notice any of it. Eck had lived among the stink for all of his short years, and all those yeas had effectively cauterised his inner sensibilities, so that the mere reek of the charnel pit from a distance mattered very little to him.

“What be it you’re looking for again, Bill?” Eck asked his companion.

Eck had never met anyone quite so fancy looking. Bill glared back at him, “It’s ‘Sybill’, you cretin. And…

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750ish words: ‘Animal’s Theory about the guy next door’

Joanna K Neilson:

750 words written in 20 minutes.

Originally posted on Joanna K Neilson:

Consistent writing does take the fear out of the process, the crippling perfectionism that can kill a first draft, let alone the minowwing idea that promises to grow into tasty words and yummy stories. So before I kill that metaphor entirely…here’s a quick story, minnow sized actually, written in 20 minutes on one of the most inspirational writing sites out there –  The site tracks you keeping up writing at least 750 words a day, and it’s a good way to break through any starting nerves, any hesitation can be fought through and replaced with sweetly random connections coming together. Or, you know, a rant about how mad, irrational and crappy you’re feeling at that particular moment. Lately I’ve been doing the fiction more than the internal angst, though that’s still there. Weirdly, it’s easier to fill the 750 words remit by writing a story, than by rolling around…

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Monster Monday: “Gashunk gashunk” – Juni Ito’s ‘Gyo’ Manga

There are plenty of reason to love Junji Ito’s work.

We’re about to cover just one of them, which should be more than enough for now…

Juni Ito’s manga is unfailingly horrific, disturbing and marvelous. If you love horror of any kind, we can’t recommend his back-catalogue highly enough. For the sake of this Monster Monday, however, we want to focus on his series GYO (The Death Stench Creeps)
and the disturbing, and mostly unexplained, phenomena that it tries to explain. Well, there is a rational explanation given. In the loosest possible sense of ‘rational’. Perhaps ‘plausible’ is the best description for what happens in this manga. It’s really dream logic, which makes it work, the sense of a nightmare you can’t quite climb away from and situation getting worse and worse.

Title page from the first manga novel. Fish with legs. Yes, it sounds first....

Title page from the first manga novel. Fish with legs. Yes, it sounds silly…at first….

The basic premise of the two book manga GYO (The Death Stench Creeps): Volume 1
is that sea life has started climbing out of the ocean on strange, organically manufactured but artificially installed little legs. The setup is pretty bloody weird already, but the horror doesn’t end there. The first appearence of a ‘fish with legs’ is almost funny. But it’s merely the warning shot of a much bigger disaster for humanity. Because these things are powered by the gassy stench of death itself, and the attacks from the ocean to the land are about to get much more deadly, and much larger, too.

Most notably, starting with this Gshunking monster:

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Silent Sundays: Lovecraft’s Monsters (2014)

Joanna K Neilson:

Awesome Lovecraftian illustrations, from this year. Will have to look into Dark Corner Books….

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Monster Monday: The Pantomime Cat

Welcome back Eyeballers! Monster Mondays, and new articles, return to the slightly revised Haunted Eyeball.

But first, the terror!

It’s not typical for Enid Blyton to be the harbinger of nightmares, but thinking back to our youth, one of her books was responsible for a great deal of dread, angst and nightmares.

Whilst trying to think back to the things that really, truly wigged us out as a child, we suddenly come across the worst thing in the world.

The rather unkindly named ‘Fatty’ gets a nasty shock. Sure, you find out LATER it’s only a criminal in a cat suit….but some images are meant to stay with you.

(Image from a rather awesome Enid Blyton site. If you need to remember something Blyton based, go here).

Why this image is terrifying.

It contains almost all the elements required to freak out an over-imaginative six year old.

  • An oversized animal.
  • An oversized animal staring out a window.
  • At you.
  • Unexpectedly.
  • In the dark.

And herein lies the pure personalised terror. And frankly, we’d take Pinhead over this creature any day of the week, and down any dark alley, too.

Having awoken the entirely rational terror of humanoid creatures that can look you in the eye, expect to see a few more of these beasts referred to in some future Monster Mondays.

Even the other pictures here, which attempt to make it more cuddly, more ‘cute kitty’ kind of fail. The real image of it, for the Eyeball, remains that black and white portrayal of something inhuman, raggedy yet thoroughly INTENT. Seared into the background of our memories, it’s still capable of sending our nerves quite a long way towards the wimpier end of fight or flight. Oh yes, over the years we have toughened up, learned that real life can be scarier than fiction, braved Wolf Creeks and Pumpkinheads. But the uncanny valley we entered when we first laid eyes on the picture above has, quite effectively, creeped us the fuck out for many years since.

Which, let’s be clear, was not usually the result of a hundred page Enid Blyton readathon.

This is all further proof that fear is purely subjective. After all, one famous author commented that what scared him the most was a Christmas tree running away on its roots, in a Rupert the Bear comic.

We are all at the mercy of our own thoughts processes. The only answer is to become thoroughly and totally desensitized. Time to order that ‘A Serbian Tale’ monstrosity on Amazon. Or, actually…nope.

Writing prompts and exercises

Joanna K Neilson:

Doing some writing again, big time. Trying out a prompt here. See what you think.

Originally posted on Joanna K Neilson:

There’s something about writing prompts that just seems to work. The prompt, if it hits the right nerve in the brain, can set off a whole host of associations and ideas for stories, characters and situations.

I’ve used a random noun generator website for the prompt for this piece. About a thousand words created out of an unconnected selection of words, pulled together by a story that feels like it could keep on growing. As always, very interested in constructive responses to what you all think. Thank you for reading.

The random nouns were:
1. Color
2. Poppy
3. Rise
4. Voyage

Images below from

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