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Really Scary Essays

Every Bike Ride by Duncan Long

10 Horrifying Horror Story Prompts

Here are 10 horror story prompts that should give you the chills, and get you writing something scary. Warning if these don’t scare you, you are most-likely a zombie, vampire, werewolf or ghost. If you are unaware of being one of the undead, seek medical attention immediately.

  1. You have had a strange feeling for a few days now. Today you’ve been feeling very energetic and tired at the same time. You sit, exhausted and full of energy, at your desk. Your arm has been itching. It’s killing you now. You look at your forearm and see it for the first time. Something is moving under your skin. It is shifting around. Your muscle spasms and you realize there are dozens moving toward the surface.
  2. You open your eyes to complete darkness. The last thing you remember is the dog running out into the road, the brightness of the day light, and your car headed off the road. As your head clears you realize you are hanging upside down. Your feet and legs are completely mobilized. You can hear something breathing in the room.
  1. Your driving on a country road. It is late at night. You are far from home. You realize, as you check your mirrors, there is a man you do not know, hiding on the floor of your back seat.
  2. It’s 3 am. Your room is dark, but you can see that there is someone, standing at the foot of your bed. You can just make out that he or she is wearing a clown costume, and you are pretty sure, from the glare and the little bit of reflection, that it has a knife.
  3. At 3 am you wake up out of a very sound sleep. You hear the ice cream truck outside of your house. And you realize, the sound that woke you up, was the sound of your 4 year old daughter, letting the screen down slam, as she left the house.
  4. You are running late. After quickly getting ready, you rush out of the house and to your car door. A sound gets your attention, and for the first time this morning you look at your surroundings. There is a fully grown male lion, just a few feet from you. Your car door is still locked.
  5. You are falling. The 737 is a 100 yards above you. You hear the rush of the wind, and it’s so cold. You realize you are still holding your baby.
  6. The worst cramps you have ever had set in on your biceps. Your arms are twisting. You feel your ankles popping. It came on so suddenly. You drop to your knees, looking through your bedroom window, you see the full moon. You hear a little voice behind you, “Mommy?” (or “daddy”)
  7. You are frozen with fear. You open your eyes, the tent is dark. But you can feel the heavy weight of a large tarantula covering one eye. Through the other eye you can see the shadows, from the moonlight, of 100s if not 1000s of other spiders covering the tent.
  8. The man leans into you. There is a dark red almost black color to the whites of his eyes. He is so close his nose is almost touching your nose. You can feel his breath when he says, “We all have it in here. We are all infected.

We are looking for submissions to our horror story contest!!!! Submit your creepy story here.

If you would rather write horror poetry, try our Horror Haiku Contest.

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10 Horrifying Horror Story Prompts Here are 10 horror story prompts that should give you the chills, and get you writing something scary. Warning if these don't scare you, you are most-likely a zombie, vampire, werewolf or ghost. If you are unaware of being one of the undead, seek medical...

Every WriterEveryWritereds@everywritersresource.comAdministratorI am the Editor of EWR. I have been doing this a long time. Every WriterEvery Writer

The Scariest Terror Threat of All

For a while now, I have been writing about our penchant for "movie-plot threats" -- terrorist fears based on very specific attack scenarios.

Terrorists with crop-dusters, terrorists exploding baby carriages in subways, terrorists filling school buses with explosives -- these are all movie-plot threats. They're good for scaring people, but it's just silly to build national security policy around them.

But if we're going to worry about unlikely attacks, why can't they be exciting and innovative ones? If Americans are going to be scared, shouldn't they be scared of things that are really scary? "Blowing up the Super Bowl" is a movie plot, to be sure, but it's not a very good movie. I decided to raise the stakes.

So I announced a Movie-Plot Threat Contest on my blog:

Entrants are invited to submit the most unlikely, yet still plausible, terrorist attack scenarios they can come up with. Your goal: Cause terror. Make the American people notice. Inflict lasting damage on the U.S. economy. Change the political landscape, or the culture. The more grandiose the goal, the better. Assume an attacker profile on the order of 9/11: 20 to 30 unskilled people, and about $500,000 with which to buy skills, equipment, etc.

The contest spread across the internet. Even The New York Times wrote about it. By the end of the month, the blog post had 782 comments. I printed them all out and spiral-bound them so I could read them more easily. The cover read: "The Big Book of Terrorist Plots." I tried not to wave it around too much in airports.

The submissions fell into several broad categories. The first was attacks against our infrastructure: the food supply, the water supply, the power infrastructure, the telephone system. The idea is to cripple the country by targeting one of the basic systems that make it work.

The second category was of big-ticket plots. Either they have very public targets -- blowing up the Super Bowl, the Oscars -- or they have high-tech components: nuclear waste, anthrax, chlorine gas, a full oil tanker. And they are often complex and hard to pull off. This is the 9/11 idea -- a single huge event that affects the entire nation.

The third category was low-tech attacks that go on and on. Several people imagined a version of the D.C.-sniper scenario, but with multiple teams. The teams would slowly move around the country, perhaps each team starting up after the previous one was captured or killed. Other people suggested a variant of this with small bombs in random public locations around the country.

A fourth category had actual movie plots, often comical or unrealistic, some with science-fiction premises. That wasn't what I was looking for, so I mostly ignored them.

The best ideas tap directly into public fears. In my book, Beyond Fear, I discuss five different tendencies people have with evaluating risks:

  • People exaggerate spectacular but rare risks and downplay common risks.
  • People have trouble estimating risks for anything not exactly like their normal situation.
  • Personified risks are perceived to be greater than anonymous risks.
  • People underestimate risks they willingly take and overestimate risks in situations they can't control.
  • People overestimate risks that are being talked about and remain an object of public scrutiny.

The best plots leverage one or more of those tendencies. Big-ticket attacks leverage the first. Infrastructure and low-tech attacks leverage the fourth. And every attack tries to leverage the fifth, especially those attacks that go on and on.

I almost don't want to pick a winner, because the real point is the enormous list of them all. And because it's hard to choose. But after careful deliberation, I chose the winning entry by Tom Grant. Read it; it's chilling. Although planes filled with explosives is already a cliché, destroying the Grand Coulee Dam is inspired. The chain reaction destroys most of the other dams on the Columbia River, taking out the West Coast power grid for months.

Congratulations, Tom.

If you think Tom's entry is scary, consider that I received a bunch of e-mails from people with ideas they thought too terrifying to post publicly. Some of them wouldn't even tell them to me. I also received e-mails from people accusing me of helping the terrorists by giving them ideas.

Both of these reactions make the same erroneous assumption: that terrorist attacks are easy, and all terrorists need are a few good ideas. But if there's one thing this contest demonstrates, it's that good terrorist ideas are a dime a dozen. Anyone can figure out how to cause terror. The hard part is execution.

Some of the submitted plots require minimal skill and equipment. "Twenty guys with cars and guns" -- that sort of thing. Reading through them, you have to wonder why there have been no terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11. I don't buy the "flypaper theory" that the terrorists are all in Iraq instead of in the United States; it just doesn't make any sense. And I don't buy that our post-9/11 security programs have made it impossible for terrorists to operate within the United States -- although I do believe that our successes in intelligence and investigation have made it harder.

But mostly, I think terrorist attacks are much harder than most of us think. It's harder to find willing recruits than we think. It's harder to coordinate plans. It's harder to execute those plans. It's easy to make mistakes. Terrorism has always been rare, and for all we've heard about 9/11 changing the world, it's still rare.

Categories: Terrorism

Tags: Wired

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