We seek horror and dark fiction short stories for our “Tales from the Time Capsule” themed Fall issue! Read the introduction below, then follow the guidelines at the bottom of this post before sending in your submission! Open call begins immediately and ends at 11 pm est on September 25, 2016. We will choose one submission per item or a total of 10 submissions for publication in our fall Lit Journal.
Submissions must meet guidelines and follow the theme to be accepted so read them fully.
Tales from the Time Capsule Introduction:
Current Year: 2020
Event: Homecoming and Alumni reunion
Time Capsule age: 20 years (from 2000)
Reigning Homecoming queen: Bethany, a peppy, popular student
Former Homecoming queen: Etta, scorned and tortured and out for revenge.
Bethany smiled at the elderly lady who only scowled in response. The bright lights from the field made it hard to see the rest of the class as they watched.
“Here we go!” She dipped the ceremonial spade into the ground. Pose and smile. With her front page photo out of the way, she stepped back and let the custodian finish the digging.
“Do ya want me to pull it out?” The janitor pushed his mop of blonde curls out of his eyes and reached for the wood box.
“No! Etta and I will get it. It will make a great photo.” She smiled at the elderly lady again and gestured her to come closer.
They reached into the hole together and pulled the heavy box up, resting it on the edge of the hole. “Smile,” Bethany whispered as Etta went limp beside her.
“Miss Etta? Are you okay?” Bethany released her grip on the box to support her, and it toppled over, its contents spilling in the grass.
“I’m fine, child. Let’s finish this so I can go home and rest.”
Snare drums boomed from the opposite end of the field. The cheerleaders raised their pom poms and cartwheeled out of the tunnel with the marching band right behind them. Most of the class turned to the distraction and edged away to watch the show.
“It all looks kinda creepy,” Sara, Bethany’s drill team co-captain, whispered as she picked up an old yellowed dress, a relic of another homecoming long ago.
The quarterback lifted the jersey. “Dude, this was my dad’s jersey!”
Bethany grabbed the wired rhinestone choker. “My mom wore one just like this in her homecoming picture.”
Devin followed a flash of light and scooped up a class ring. He slid it on his finger, amazed it fit.
Grace found an envelope filled with pictures. “Look! It’s my uncle and a young Mrs. Hamilton! We should put these up in the gym for tomorrow.”
Asher retrieved the necktie. It’s blue and black stripes made an uncanny match to his tuxedo.
Booker picked up a piece of paper and studied it. “Why would anyone put a floorplan of our school in a time capsule?” He started to wad it up, but stopped. “Oh. I wonder what’s behind this X?” He passed the paper to Amber, who set it on top of the Harry Potter book she’d chosen from the pile.
“Only one way to find out. You’ll have to follow the map. This doesn’t look like our school though. You might have to ask Mr. Wilkins about it. He’s been here forever.” She offered the floor plan back to Booker and waved her book in front of him. “Look, I finally have the only book I’m missing from the series!”
“What’s this?” Emily held up a small, thin box with buttons that said “Play,” “Volume,” and had directional buttons on it. She pressed the small power button and weak music filtered out. She held it up to her ear. “Eww. This is the stuff my parents listen to.” She started to drop it back in the pile, but Eddie stopped her.
“It’s an mp3 player. It’s the original iPod. You can change the tunes to anything you want. Your parents might get a kick out of it anyway. I’m pretty sure my dad will enjoy this old Car & Driver magazine.” He flipped carefully through it before tucking it under his arm. “I’m taking it home.”
Just as soon as all the items had been claimed, Etta crumpled to the ground. Bethany rushed to her side.
“Miss Etta!” She patted the woman’s face tenderly, then cradled her head in her lap. “Miss Etta? What’s wrong?”
“Someone call 911!” Emily knelt down with Bethany and Miss Etta.
“Hey, what about all this stuff?” Eddie looked the magazine over again.
“Seriously, Eddie? Just hold on to the stupid stuff, we’ll figure it out later.”
Sirens sounded in the distance and the students backed up, tainted treasures gripped in nervous hands.
The next chapter is up to you! With the item you have chosen from the time capsule spin us a dark tale. The past is leaking into the present like toxic waste and these kids will pay the price for their elders past indiscretions. How are these “tainted treasures” relevant? And who is looking for revenge?
- One character and Etta. Choose from any of the bolded names in the introduction.
- The item (in itlaics) the character you choose picked up from the time capsule.
- Stay as true to the eras as possible.
- No less than 1,500 words and no more than 4,000 words.
- Horror or dark fiction genres only.
- Short stories only. No other writing premise accepted.
Submission Information and Guidelines:
- Theme: Tales from the Time Capsule, horror and dark fiction genres only. The plot of the story must contain the character and character’s item from the time capsule and tie into the intro above.
- Short stories only, word count 1,500 to 4,000 words. No poetry. Open for submissions from August 25-September 25. Word counts above 4,000 and below 1,500 will be rejected automatically.
- Our Write Side will publish a total of ten (10) stories in the fall issue of OWS Ink: Literary Journal. Selected authors will receive a digital contributor’s copy. Unpublished stories accepted only, no reprints. Our Write Side will retain rights to the chosen stories for six months from date of publishing.
All short stories should follow the standard short story format and submitted in .doc/.docx format. The body of the email should include your name, bio, word count, and information about the piece. Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Inquiry / Your Name / Name of Piece.
Share this open call everywhere so everyone has a chance to submit! Don’t forget to follow the guidelines and get your story in before deadline.