Our 2015 short-fiction contest features 15 creepy prompts, and the deadline for entries is 9 a.m. on October 20.

We'll publish winners and favorites in the October 29 issue of the River Cities' Reader - just in time for Halloween. Stories don't need to be scary, but ... 'tis the season.


The rules:

A) Entries, including titles, must be 250 words or fewer - not counting the passage required in Rule G. We recommend being careful or leaving some breathing room.

B) Entries must be typed.

C) Entries must include the author's name, mailing address, and daytime phone number.

D) Entries must be previously unpublished.

E) Entries must be received by 9 a.m. on Tuesday, October 20, 2015. We will accept submissions by e-mail (jeff@rcreader.com with "Fiction Contest" as the subject line); mail (532 W. 3rd St., Davenport IA 52801, with "Fiction Contest" on the envelope); and fax (563-323-3101). Please do not request confirmation of receipt.

F) People may submit as many as five entries, but no more than one for any given prompt.

G) All stories must include one of the 15 passages below. Outside of using a given passage within the story, no fidelity or relationship to the source is required.

1) I don't care for the pale people; I like them with lots of blood in them, and hers had all seemed to run out. (Bram Stoker, Dracula)

2) Ovando lived in the thickest part of the night, the deepest part of the night, the part of the night where all suffering dwells, including death; the part of the night in which the weight of the world is made visible and eternal terror is confirmed. (Jamaica Kincaid, "Ovando")

3) Ian knew he was beyond salvation from the beginning, because he'd died this way in his sleep on a hundred occasions and Daddy never got there in time. (Clive Barker, "Rawhead Rex")

4) The blood around his mouth was the most horrible, smeared around like finger-paint. Before I became hysterical, I couldn't see the blood anymore. (Adam Golaski, "The Man from the Peak")

5) It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. (Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House)

6) The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door ... . (Fredric Brown, "Knock")

7) When it was over she wiped at her mouth and said she would let me go today if I promised never to tell anybody if I sent my pretty little sister to her tomorrow. (Joyce Carol Oates, "Haunted")

8) Zach had been splitting wood most of the morning down by the shed when he first sniffed the familiar scent of his father, who had died five years ago in a mining accident. (Lance Olsen, "Family")

9) In London there is a man who screams when the church bells ring. (H.P. Lovecraft, "The Descendant")

10) He was still gazing at his own sweating face when, to his disbelief and horror, the shaving-glass gave a sort of shudder. (Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger)

11) He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn't specify the point. (Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde)

12) Everything in the house hears me. (Peter Straub, "The Juniper Tree")

13) The movement of the jaws, in this effort to cry aloud, showed me that they were bound up, as is usual with the dead. (Edgar Allan Poe, "The Premature Burial")

14) The cellar door stood open. And the screams began. (Stephen King, 'Salem's Lot)

15) I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived. (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein)

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