When I initially saw the prompt for this flash fiction piece, I honestly considered finding another. The words (‘arch’,  ‘piano’ and ‘vegetate’) just seemed too loose, too disjointed, too fucking random to include in the same 100 words. How do you use those three words and make it horror? My brain ached at the prospect of it so much so that I had to busy myself with another writing chore while I worked up the courage.

I’m not kidding. It was that daunting.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t bail. This is one of those times when, as a writer, I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of the end result. I think this is one of the best 100-word flash fiction pieces I’ve ever written. It packs a whole helluva lot into a small space and provides enough detail to be relatable, to paint a picture the reader can visualize, and to be chilling, right down to the last sentence.

It’s chilling to me, anyway.

I’m also jazzed about it because it wasn’t easy to write. Once I figured out how to include all three words, it was a piece of cake. But that first bit, finding a way to mesh normally unrelated terms and make ’em scary, that was a mental mountain. Which, of course, means there’s a view at the top. I’m glad I didn’t give in to the temptation to call it a day at base camp.

Roll your eyes if you want. Yeah, I’m bragging on myself. I feel good about this story. And anyway, I’m not one of those writers who routinely delivers soliloquies about their own personal greatness. I don’t think that much of myself. Most of the time I’m all too familiar with my shortcomings as a writer. Today I’m reveling in a win, and that feels good.

The prompt for this post is brought to you by The Prediction, and it goes a little something like this:

100 words maximum, excluding the title, of flash fiction or poetry using all of the three words above (‘arch’,  ‘piano’ and ‘vegetate’) in the genres of horror, fantasy or science fiction.

Let me know what you think of it in the comments.


They don’t sleep, he thinks. They vegetate.

He wishes he could veg for the night, but he pulled guard duty. Eight hours of darkness, sitting on top of the arch way while piano music–is this one of Chopin’s nocturnes?–plays over the PA to keep them lulled.

Why the fuck are we keeping a herd of zombies? he asks himself, scooping up his coffee.

The cup bobbles and falls. He reaches for it, too far. His stomach lurches and he screams.

Moans overtake Chopin as he lands in a sea of writhing limbs and open maws.