Over the summer, we invited the writing community to contribute to this special issue celebrating the spooky, creepy, and downright horrifying. We asked for short pieces to make hearts pound and skin crawl–a sanguine sampling of literary chills and thrills. With the utmost gratitude for everyone who submitted, the Poor Yorick team is proud to present our special themed issue, Hallow’s Eve Horror.Editorial Team, Poor Yorick Literary Journal
Sixty Seconds from Apart by Ivette Arce
We turn onto PR-116. Our arrival is announced by a drone of disembodied canine howls—the first sign.
It only takes sixty seconds for the rest to fall apart.
I check my phone, down to the second: 3:33:00 a.m.
Julio barrels down the desolate road, relishing the island’s lax speed limits. My dilated pupils soak in moonlight, searching for movement in the early morning darkness.
Spending Halloween weekend in Puerto Rico sounded thrilling until I learned our hotel sat at the end of the road of Los Desmembrados. The Dismembered Ones.
“Keep your eyes open for walking arms,” Julio teases. “Maybe flying feet.” He always laughs at my superstitions. Says it’s just an urban legend, like the Cuco or Chupacabra. But legends sprout from seeds of truth.
“This road is perfect for Halloween,” Julio beams. “Besides, what could possibly happen? They pinch our ankles? Wiggle their toes at us? We could run right over them.” He presses on the gas pedal. I hold on to the door handle as we hug a tight curve.
My skin vibrates. I wrap my fingers around a cold bottle of water and focus my attention on the shimmering waves cradling the highway, suppressing a panic attack.
“Nothing is going to happen,” Julio says.
I sip some water and wipe away a rogue tear.
“I’m sorry, Jacy.” Julio caresses my thigh. “I’m only kidding.” He laces his fingers into mine.
The dogs stop barking. I check my phone and count the seconds in my mind.
Julio squeezes my hand. “See? Nothing.”
I exhale, disappointed I scared myself over a ghost story.
Julio kisses my hand, clutching it. Tighter and tighter, bending my fingers back.
“What are you doing?!” I wrestle his grip as he continues driving with his free hand. “You’re hurting me!” I yank, slamming against the passenger door.
My wide eyes trace down my wrist,
I scream. A dog yelps.
My twisted fingers darken as Julio pinches off my circulation, as blood pours from his putrid wrist stump.
He turns to me and wails. Teeth slough off his gums.
The car accelerates. We lose control and collide with a guardrail. Julio’s torso whips against the wheel. His eyeballs hurl from his face and burst on the windshield. The airbags jolt us back. His head tumbles into the backseat.
The car alarm screeches as I flounder out. Sobbing, I use the slick blood to slip Julio’s hand from mine, and then
His hand is on the ground.
So is my leg.
Blood drains from my severed knee and pools around my fallen shin. I shriek and lose my balance, stumbling over the guardrail and down the rocky cliffside. My body seizes as the ocean swallows me.
My vision spins, then evens out and bobs like a buoy.
My pale face floats by, water foaming in my open mouth, the moonlight hardly bright enough to illuminate the empty sockets in my skull.
Blindspot by Ivette Arce
I see them again.
Well, sort of. They look the same way everyone else does when my auras hit: half their faces missing, features liquifying into one another, eyes blotted out by shadows. But they’re also different.
I can usually distinguish the Blurries from my friends and family by their mouths. Wormy lips constantly writhing. They show up in pairs and have endless conversations about me. At least, that’s what I think. They’re always looking at me.
My wife says they’re only hallucinations brought on by my ocular migraines. I told her, “Sarah, if they’re figments of my own imagination, why can’t I understand what they’re saying?”
The Blurries are louder today. My eardrums pulsate with every syllable that clicks on their tongues.
Sarah set me up on the couch because I had almost fallen over when my vision deteriorated. She said, “Jerry, go lie down. I have a feeling this one will be bad.” She placed two migraine tablets on the coffee table, drew the blinds, and stepped into the kitchen to make dinner. My imminent headache must be a doozy because there are three of those suckers now. And one of them is holding a duffle bag.
“Honey, I heard certain vitamins can help with migraines,” Sarah calls. My three guests turn their heads towards the kitchen. “I’ll make you a green smoothie.”
The Blurries return their attention to me. The new Blurrie—whom I assume is the new one—rifles through its bag. It retrieves a… curling iron?
“Jer, plug your ears. I’m about to turn on the blender.”
“Okay,” I say. But I don’t. I feel like a deer blinded by an oncoming headlight.
The blender screeches in the next room just as the Blurrie’s curling iron spins. When the blender stops, it does too. On and off. Blending. Testing.
My heart feels like it’s trying to crack through my ribs. Damn these migraines. Damn these Blurries!
“G-go away!” I bark. I rub the threatening tears from my eyes and open them. The Blurrie’s face hovers inches from mine. Still no more defined. Its forehead and nose and cheeks all swirl together like watercolors, eyes bottomless like the well on my grandfather’s farm.
“What’d you say?” Sarah asks. “I’ll be right over to sit with you. I’m just going to make myself a smoothie, too.”
I don’t respond. I can’t. My eyes are struck by the Blurrie’s lips. Thin tubes of flesh morphing from one indecipherable shape to the next. Slapping against each other. Tongue clicking behind them. Slap. Click.
“Plug your ears,” Sarah warns. The blender roars to life as the Blurrie raises its spinning iron and lowers it at my eye.
For a moment, I can see the smoothie Sarah is making, a serene whirlpool of crushed greens and pulverized crimsons. I scream as an acute pain bores into my skull and rattles my brain, and
And I’m happy.
Because at least the darkness isn’t blurry.
Abandonment by Michaela Lawlor
I’m fascinated by abandoned buildings and decaying structures—I often find myself wondering what they looked like in their prime. I love photographing landscapes during and after a winter storm or rainfall. Snow and the reflections from rainwater make for some interesting shots that often feel ominous in nature.
These photographs were captured in Otis, a town in the Berkshires in southwestern Massachusetts. It is incredibly small, and although its lakes and campgrounds attract visitors in the summer, it transforms into a ghost town in the winter. I’ve come across many abandoned cabins over the years while hiking through the woods, and I love exploring these fallen little homes.
Ivette Arce is a recent graduate of Western Connecticut State University’s Master of Fine Arts program in Creative and Professional Writing. Her work has previously appeared on MashStories.
Michaela Lawlor is a graduate student in Western Connecticut State University’s Master of Fine Arts program in Creative and Professional Writing, where she studies screenwriting and journalism. She started her own business in July of 2020, New Sun Rising, LLC, in her hometown of Bethel, where she offers photography, graphic design, writing and other creative services. Michaela enjoys walking, running, hiking, golfing, mountain biking and horseback riding in her free time, and she loves staying active in her community by supporting Bethel’s fantastic small businesses and participating in local events.