Hallowed Winter 3: An @hallowedwinter Instagram Art Challenge

Although this challenge, created and hosted by @hallowedwinter on Instagram, focused on visual artists, I’m participating (after the fact) as a “literary artist.” The challenge provided 10 prompts for works of art that cross Halloween and Christmas, to be completed between Dec. 1 and 31, 2019. I’m joining the fun a year late!

1. Merry CRYPTmas

A salty liquid forced its way through my pores – uncontainable emotion, nervousness rappelling down my cheeks, soaking my lips. Anticipation throttled me, clutching my lungs as I fought to breathe. Panting from both trepidation and exhilaration, I watched from the doorway as he emerged from the tomb – the Count. His penetrating gaze hypnotized me, dominated me, holding me in place until he arrived at my side. Icy, undead lips pressed against my neck as he thrust his fangs into my throat, draining me passionately underneath the mistletoe.

2. Haunted Holidays

Sheets of mucus flapped like wind-tossed curtains over her nostrils as her growling continued. She leaned over my face, perched on my chest, her back hunched in a semicircle, vertebrae protruding through slimy tissue stretched thin. As my ribs buckled under her weight, an oily discharge slithered off her tongue and onto my face, writhing in place on my lips like a worm. A scream tried to claw its way out of me, but couldn’t. I was completely paralyzed. There was no escape. After countless visits, this time Mrs. Claus was going to kill me.

3. Caroling Creatures

🎼 “Deck the walls with bowels and entrails! 🎵 See them sliding, leaving trails! 🎵 Disembodied voices laughing! 🎵 Wraiths of those slain from the slashing! 🎵🎵 See the glist’ning pile before us! 🎵 Bits and parts of 50 corpses! 🎵 Follow me in guilty pleasure! 🎵 While we scrape this gritty fissure! 🎵🎵 Fast away ’cause I’ve got warrants! 🎵 Hail the Three Strikes Law life sentence! 🎵 Flee the scene we all together! 🎵 Leave behind all the cadavers!” As I stood at my door, the choir barricaded me as all of the voices in my head serenaded me.

4. ‘Tis the Season of the Witch

Playful shadows danced excitedly along the meandering, white lines on the marble altar, encircled by a statuesque phalanx of candles. The sugary perfume of the spruce branches adorning the platform had fused tenderly with the earthy aroma of the rosemary incense, its lithe wand still smoldering, snowing tufts of ash. Delicate sprigs of holly peeked out of bouquets of winter flora in the hands of each witch, their scarlet berries reflecting the glow of the Yule log’s embers. And, levitated in meditation, the coven prepared for the sun’s rebirth.

5. The 13th Day of Christmas

My true love had a pathological fowl fetish, so our apartment reeked of feathers, feces and shame, and the clods of fungus conquering our pear tree in the kitchen induced dry heaves. Gangrene is teething on my fingers where his “golden” rings were. I’m sure he bought those after his dairy-themed orgy with eight maidens of the night at the Nine Ladies strip club. But I have 10 side guys anyhow, and they’re performance artists, and they’re taking me on tour with some pipers and drummers. So, on the 13th day of Christmas, I set my true love on fire and shoved him off a cliff.

6. TENTAclause

Gooey blood clots clung to her remaining eye as it urinated ink down her face – dregs of the octopus’s squirt that had blasted her when the thing was vacuuming out her other eye. Behind the beast loomed a paunchy, red-clad man – Santa! As the woman cried for help, the octopus skewered her abdomen, retracted its squishy but firm arm, and tilted its bulbous head as it watched her collapse. Not flinching, Santa pet the creature affectionately and thanked it for a job well done, then mockingly left a lump of coal beside the woman’s mutilated carcass.

7. December Dismember

Poison ivy was snaked around the tourniquet, singeing the skin nearest to the amputation even before it was cauterized by a rusty steam iron. Nearby, a rat nibbled energetically on two severed eyelids, while another sniffed a pile of extracted fingernails and toenails. A shot of adrenaline was administered to command consciousness, and the next arm was fed to a dull hacksaw, slowly unraveling skin from muscle, muscle from bone, and limb from body. This was, by far, the best Christmas present ever: gruesome, agonizing, satisfying revenge.

8. Frost Bitten

Slurping the secretion oozing from the necrotic tissue housing his curse, I kissed the frigid artery he had unsheathed for me. Safely tucked in secrecy, wrapped in his cape, I sucked on his open cut until I nearly fainted. Then, I felt his glacial essence pour over my soul as it carried me into his eternity, wedding our fates – mine and Dracula’s. I quivered from excitement as his very being coursed through me – took me, stole me. Owned me. Then, enamored of my new master, I relaxed into the moment and silently adored him, my beloved Count.

9. And to All a Good Nightmare

Scabs had spackled the lesions around the orifice, but the tumor inside it was now weeping a sour, greenish-yellow serum, painting the inevitable on her bed sheets in neon reality; it was just a matter of time now. The cesspool beneath her mattress, a vat of excrement and defeat, was overflowing at this point as she was gradually dissolving from the inside out. “Mom!” She sat up, startled. “Mom, wake up! It’s Christmas!” Looking around the room, she reoriented herself after a deep sleep – and the worst nightmare she’d ever had.

10. Hallowed Winter Carnival

Celestial rays of sun glided like angels through misty clouds, falling softly on the glittery, sparkling snow covering the carousel’s crown, freshly fallen and pristine. The gentleness of the motionless, pastel horses was soothing, inviting an invincible serenity into my heart. And the tranquil, quiet hours of the early morning appointed a peaceful stillness to reign over the carnival, guarding the comfort I found in my idyllic solitude. The air was pure and calming, imbued with an enchanting and indefinable sense of hope, and I lingered in its optimism.