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Speculative fiction writer, wife, mum, gamer, and adventure seeker who just wants some sleep. She lives in sunny Queensland, but often fantasises about snow capped mountains in cooler climates.

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NYC Midnight 250 Word Microfiction Challenge 2022

Thursday, January 12, 2023 by Sarah Hegerty

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 


The results from another NYC Midnight challenge have come in and it seems I have landed myself the first Honorable Mention spot, again. This time the competition was only taking the top 10 through to the next round, whereas the other times it was the top 15. So, I guess in a way I have still improved because the Honorable Mention is like an 11th instead of a 16th, but still, missing out by one place, again. It feels like I'm so close, yet so far! I'll just keep working on improving my writing. Not there yet! Good thing they provide feedback and you're not left in the dark wondering what you didn't manage to get right.



Anyway. This time I was given 24 hours to write a ghost story that had to have the action 'turning off an engine' and the word 'seem' in it and be no more than 250 words. Given that Horror is a separate genre in the competition, and the way they defined the ghost genre seemed to be a sub-set of the horror genre, I was struggling with how the genre was supposed to be written. I had a few ideas where the ghosts wouldn't be scary at all. And in the end, I don't think my ghost was really that scary at all, but then I don't think I'm very good at writing scary things anyway. But I had a crack at it anyway. Here's my story. (I'll update this post with the general idea of the feedback I get once it comes through).


The Escape


Holy sweet mother of improbability. It worked.

Eyes glued to rear-view mirror. Foot planted on accelerator. SUV roars down deserted road. Can’t believe it was as easy as swiping the guard’s ID and walking out the front of the prison gate like I worked there—like they hadn’t considered the possibility.


Not stopping.

Wasn’t a person. There’s no one around—it’s late. And if it was a person, someone else will help them.

Eyes shift to road—fixate on white lines retreating beneath the car.

They’ll be fine.

“But I’m really not.”


Heart slamming against breastbone, crushing pain. Involuntarily jerk the wheel. Car lunging toward guard rail. Foot slamming brake. Turning off an engine—the engine. Silence.

Translucent woman in passenger seat. Hallucination? A chill.

“What the—”

“I could say the same thing.” She glares at me. Brutal. Unforgiving.

“You’re a—”

A grin. A trickle of blood oozes from her mouth. “That hurt.” A quick wrist flick engages the central locking mechanism. Her disposition sours. A snarl. “You didn’t stop.”

“I couldn’t!”

How can I explain?


A pause. Contemplation?

“I’d be sent back to prison!”

“Better than dead!”

“Well…only sort of dead, right?” You’re still something. Something I need to get away from.

Reef the handle. Nothing. Pound the window. Hopeless. No escape. Trapped in a new prison. Heartbeat galloping.

“Still. Dead. It would seem.”

I stop. Watch her eyes calculating. I messed up.


“I bet you are.”

She lunges. I close my eyes.