About a week or two ago my friend Angela Misri posted on my Facebook timeline about a short story contest that Stephen King would be part of. Apparently people could submit short stories under four-thousand words and His Royal Scariness would pick the winner. Unfortunately the contest was only open to UK residents, which upset Angela and me a great deal (I knew I should’ve been born a British lord, but for some reason I decided that being the son of two rabbis was a better deal). However, if I could enter the contest, and it allowed short stories under six-thousand words, this probably would’ve been the short story I submitted.

After extensive editing, of course.

“The Playroom” is a very weird short story about a woman who steals from a mob boss whose casino she works in, and the terrifying results of that little action. I’d go into further detail on what those results are, but then I’d be giving away too much of the story. I will say how it came to be though: I woke up one night, a few days before I decided to take a break from Laura Horn, I think, and this little mini-movie started playing in my head. I don’t know what caused it–I’m pretty sure it didn’t have anything to do with anything I might have been dreaming prior to waking up–but there it was, fully formed in my head, and oh-so strange. I immediately wrote it down and decided to write it as soon as possible.

Which, as I said a moment ago, was when I decided to take a break from Laura Horn. How convenient that all turned out to be.

Anyway,this is definitely one of the weirder short stories I’ve written. And when I say something is weird by my standards, that’s saying something. And you definitely get that weird sense just by reading it, I think. As you go on and you feel yourself falling deeper into a rabbit hole, you definitely wonder where this is going to go. And when you actually find out where it goes…well, I wouldn’t want to give too much away. The first title of this short story gave away so much that I dare not speak it here. The second title was so cliched I couldn’t help but change it (“The Secret Room”–what horror writer doesn’t have a story titled that?). So now I’ve got “The Playroom”. Intriguing, doesn’t give away much, and somehow conveys this isn’t your average horror story.

At least, that’s what I hope is what it says. I’m biased, so what do I know?

Anyway, I think with a bit of editing, this story could actually go from just under fifty-six hundred words to under five-thousand or maybe even under four-thousand without sacrificing quality. As you know, I’ve had trouble keeping my short stories brief without sacrificing quality in the past, so I’d be very excited if I could get this one that short without any problems. There are probably a few sections that could be cut from this story. Or I might keep it as long as it is. With a bit of work, there may be a magazine or two who would like to publish this even if it is longer than what some magazines like to publish.

Before I do that though, I have a novel to finish editing. I think I’ll get right on that in the morning.

So good night, my Followers of Fear, and pleasant nightmares. I know I plan to have a few.

  1. Now you know how frustrating it is when all contests and giveaways and what not are usually US/Canada only. The rest of the world hates it!
    I like how you got to your story though! It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, it’s certainly a cool feeling!

  2. Sounds interesting!

    That sucks about the UK only thing. I have often thought being born in the UK would have had benefits. For instance they publish more than half of what we do in the US a year and have the population of only two states – California and Texas – combined.

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