Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shared Storytelling: Advent Ghosts 2016

Winter, summer, autumn, spring—the season hardly matters here. The only significant difference between them are the smells. Cold dampens the reek of cabbage, of unwashed flesh, of the acrid stench of polyamides from the government-run factories that stipple the blocks. But days always run to gray across the obdurate cityscape, the concrete tenements uniform only in their ugliness. Even an arrival only five minutes fresh from the train could chart the rise and fall of a dozen administrations in the architecture itself. The squat bunkers from the war years. The crowded clusters of multifamily high rises sprouting brown lines of laundry like fungus. The trapezium arcology that the central planners failed to foresee, a desperate amalgamation of old offices and older scrap that started to accrete once the administrative cordon appeared. No one dares cross the cordon. It isn’t just the acrid stench of ozone shed by the buzzing perimeter of pylons. There’s something about the guards themselves, about the shape of their helmets, those irregular, bulbous shells without any obvious ports for sight or sound. But even the guards are preferable to the things that skulk around the city’s outer walls. Only the old roaming trader will ever hint about their unholy forms. There he is in the corner, the one with the patch on his eye, the man who goes where he will and sells luxuries like soap and tissues and socks without the sanction of any officially sanctioned price sheet.

Go on. Buy him a drink. See what he has to say—if you dare.

Welcome to Advent Ghosts 2016, the eighth annual shared storytelling event at ISLF. In the spirit of Charles Dickens, M.R. James, Neil Gaiman, and countless other writers down the years, a group of us gathers each year to swap eerie tales immediately prior to Christmas. We aren’t so doctrinaire as to insist that stories go up on Christmas Eve itself. Neither are we elitist in the least. Everyone is welcome, and our only rules for participating are ...
1) Email me at ISawLightningFall [at] gmail [dot] com.
2) Pen an eerie tale that’s exactly 100-words long—no more, no less.
3) Post the story to your blog on Saturday, December 17 and email the link to me. Hosting on ISLF is available for those without blogs or anyone who wants to write under a pseudonym. (Don’t worry, you’ll maintain copyright.)
4) Understand that while you have the freedom to pen as extreme content as you’d like, I reserve the right to place a content warning on any work that I think necessitates it. Just being upfront about it.
So get thee to your pen or word processor and share a story with us. Don’t worry about the genre. While it can be a ghost story à la the title, we love every genre. Go for SF or crime fiction. Write a bizarre romance or a weird western. Try traditional poetry or experimental prose if you’d like. Write what you like just so long as its slightly scary. Want more info? Check out our 2015, 2014, and 2013 events, and discover what horrors wait for you in those ancient, long-buried vaults.

(Picture: CC 2016 by Adam Jones)

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