August 14, 2008

MicroHorror Featured Pick -- "Best Laid Plans"

MicroHorror publishes terrifying works of extremely short fiction -- 666 words or fewer, to be exact. If you think it sounds easy, why not submit your own? Starting today I'll be featuring a weekly stand-out selection for your enjoyment (or extreme distaste, depending).

I'm kicking off this feature with Oonah V. Joslin's excellent story, equal parts impact and economy:

"Best Laid Plans"
by Oonah V. Joslin


Aunt Augusta’s wedding dress was peach and cream like her complexion. The high buttoned Edwardian-style collar was fastened by means of pearls and the tailored sleeves were similarly pinned close to her arms from elbow to wrist. A ruff of gossamer lace covered her delicate hands to the fingers and the bouquet of saffron and white lilies dropped like a frond of elderflowers from her left hand over the full skirt: cream clouds of satin, overlaid with a cobweb of the same lace peachy, seeded with pearls that danced like daisy chains on a spring day. The bodice betrayed no sign of breasts. It crumpled inwards where it should point out and the tiny waist required either the slenderest of figures or the boniest of corsets. Her right hand barely brushed the polished wood of the wrought iron of the banister. She had the appearance of an elegant phantom teetering on the brink of existence, standing tall at the top of the sweeping flight of stairs.

The place was just as I’d imagined it. I remembered the photograph well. But this was no photograph for I was here, in the hallway of what used to be our ancestral home and was now considered to be a very fine wedding venue. And she was there too, not quite in the flesh, as beneath that dress and veiled head, I saw only bone and I already knew there was no future in those hollow eyes. It struck me that I should run but my legs refused the call. The maĆ®tre d’ beside me saw nothing at all and continued to talk about dates and times and guests. All at once the figure lurched and toppled, just as I’d been told she had all those years ago, breaking her neck, and a plume of ice-gray dust replaced her broken ghost upon the floor.

I was offered some water. I turned and fled.

I would marry Nick at the church of his choice, in the town hall, at the football ground if that’s what he wanted and I would never set foot in that house again. Such romantic notions are of no importance. I’d cancel that wedding dress too. I rushed home to his arms. I wouldn’t tell him where I’d been. It was a silly idea and I was cured. I would go straight in and upstairs and kiss him and tell him I loved him and that I was sorry for being such a silly, stubborn bitch.

The key turned in the lock but the door would not open. “Nick,” I shouted. “Nick?… Nick? What’s behind the door?”


Copyright: © 2008 Oonah V. Joslin


Anonymous said...

I am extremely flattered! Thak you for choosing my story.

Sarah Hilary said...

It's a terrific flash, Oonah, I was pleased to read it again.

Unknown said...

Shades of Miss Havisham. This is what horror is all about, Stories that creep up on you and shout BOO! in your ear.


John Ritchie

Nathan Rosen said...

Looks great, Tom. I like the presentation. I can't wait to see what next week's pick will be.