Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Collected...A Short Story

Scary doll
 Flash Fiction Photo Prompt--Get Inspired!

This week's writing exercise began with an amazing picture. I mean, check it out! How can you not get inspired by that? But, the required words were a little tough to incorporate. Here are the rules to the Photo Prompt:

1) Use the photo and the 5 words provided in your story
2) Keep your word count 500 words or less.
3) You have until next Tuesday to link up your post.
4) Link up your story at these sites: Nicole, Carrie, Tena, or Leanne.
5) Have fun, don’t stress, let those creative juices flow.

 This Week's Words:



 The Collected

When he saw one, he picked it up, no matter the condition. Each piece of aged plastic or porcelain added to his collection. For decades he policed the empty halls of the abandoned children's hospital, a solitary figure among the souls of ghosts.

At first he ignored the trash, his job was to patrol the rooms and halls and labs of a hospital no longer needed once the childhood disease disappeared from existence. Someone else was to clean the place and in his opinion, they failed at their assignment. But after years of checking for unwanted and unauthorized "guests," he began to notice the small things, the things the vandals and taggers left behind. Gone were the Surgery & Morgue signs--any sign on any door, actually--which probably found their way into college dorms or antique shops. Missing for years were chairs and light fixtures, and even doorknobs. Only the refuge remained.

The first time he saw a set of glazed blue eyes hiding under an old newspaper, it froze his blood. The intact face called to him and made him think of the dolls his daughter used to play with. He picked it up and it mocked him as he held it in his hand. The indifferent face reminded him that his family no longer existed as the cohesive unit it once was when he worked as a dock worker. Those were the days before the factory shut down and left almost everyone in town unemployed. Those were the days before his wife took their daughter in the middle of the night and left. At first he thought it was a joke, some sick comedy from which he would awake. It was not. He never unraveled the riddle of her disappearance, and he never heard from either of them again, not in 23 years.

He brought each new addition to his empty home and placed it with the others. The silence from the objects emanated from the box to the rest of his apartment and filled the space with sorrow and loneliness, turning the rooms where he lived to an extension of the darkened halls of the hospital. He began his latest work shift wondering if he would find another treasure, or return home alone.

Word Count: 379


  1. This fascinating because it made me think. The story was complete but I found myself filling in the blanks. I think one of the most enjoyable parts of reading is 'suggestion' where the reader has to draw their own conclusion. I had to use it a lot in my book due to some delicate subject matter not realising the value of ambiguity and the need to exercise a reader's imagination.

    1. Thanks! I tried to make the main character unspecific and not add a lot of detail to him. It is interesting how a scene or reaction can be written in so many way. Thanks again!

  2. There is a definite sense of loneliness in this piece, combined with increasing levels of creepiness towards the end.
    I really liked it, well done.

    1. Thanks Heather! The creepiness surprised me too. I was thinking of a way to end it and it came to me. Glad you liked it!

  3. Great story, of loss and regret and then you add in the eeriness of the glazed blue eyes, mocking him with an indifferent face - great use of words.

    1. Thanks Sally! I didn't mean to make him a lonely guy, but those darn words steered me in that direction. And let's face it, those are creepy doll heads!

  4. "A Solitary figure among the souls of ghosts." Hook, line, and sinker. That's all it took for me to be all in! I love the creepy elements in your story...I wish I could paint for you the picture in my head as I read this. Good job!

    1. Thanks Cindy! I'd love to see that picture if I could. I find myself watching those ghost hunting shows on cable and I wanted to try and capture that feel. Glad you liked it!

  5. Scott,
    Hello, my friend! Good to be back and read your work again.
    This is a dark piece. I like that you chose not to lighten it in the end, but instead smothered all flames of hope and left your readers in his lonely, isolated sorrow. So much to be explored in the dark...
    Great work. You rock!


    I saw that you posted something regarding me when I was offline, and I want you to know that my gratitude for your thoughtfulness is beyond this writer's ability to express.


    1. Chris--thanks SO much! I was wondering where you went. Glad you see you've surfaced. The story was fun, and it did take a darker slant than I thought it would, but you know how those things go...the words just take you with them. I hope you're doing well and I look forward in reading more from you. Take care, bud!

  6. Your title for this story had my immediate attention, Scott, and you kept my attention through out this whole piece! So dark and heavy and lonely. The part about the blue eyes hiding under the newspaper made goosebumps prickle my scalp (I had a nano second flash of that Chuckie doll--yikes!).

    I also agree with Cindy, "a solitary figure among the souls of ghosts"-- it's catching, but it is also quite poetic.

    Nice work!