Trick or Tweet 2021

by M. Elizabeth Ticknor

I participated in #TrickorTweet2021 on Twitter this year, and I enjoyed the results enough that I decided to post them here. If you like your fiction bite-sized and horror-adjacent, this is a good place to be! Alternatively, if you’d prefer to read them on the bird site, you can find a threaded collection of those tweets here.

(I noticed that, as the month went on, some trends became increasingly common. For example, I frequently gravitated toward first person, which was largely a strategy to maximize available space. When you’re limited to 240 characters including hashtags, you’ve got to cut corners somewhere.)

♦ ♦ ♦

October 1st:

Seven weeks in, a fetus with no heartbeat. My obgyn frets, wants another ultrasound next week.

I can’t lose this baby.

The witch on Briar Street says she can save it. The potion she mixes burns all the way down.

Eight weeks in, there’s a heartbeat. And horns.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 2nd:

Merle wasn’t supposed to play near the boarded-up well behind the farmhouse, but he didn’t understand why. One Saturday, he snuck outside and peeked through the knothole that had worked free from the weather-aged oak planks.

A yellowed eye stared back at him.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 3rd:

There’s a secret door in the children’s section of Rochester’s Central Library. Disguised as a bookcase, it opens on a hidden room filled with antique dolls from around the world.

For some unlucky children, it leads to a different room. One where the dolls move.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 4th:

Delia pored through photos on her phone, in photo albums, desperate to find a photo of Renata for the missing persons report. Digital, analog, didn’t matter–in all of them her daughter’s face was a brown smudge, like a greasy finger had rubbed out her features.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 5th:

Everything is electric. Blinding pain courses through my nerve endings. The chains binding me to the operating table crack–snap–as I struggle free.

A small pink-skinned thing raises flimsy arms and chitters at me. I slam it against a wall. It crumples. I run.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 6th:

Beneath my skin, spiders crawl. The itch is maddening. My stomach is bloated with egg sacs, my muscles eaten away and replaced by spider-silk. I want to peel my skin back like birchbark, to free them from this fleshy prison–but if I do, what will be left of me?

♦ ♦ ♦

October 7th:

In the mirror, a reflection that isn’t mine: matte black eyes, a too-wide grin.

I yelp and punch the glass. Cracks shimmer, then melt away. When I jerk my fist away the glass sticks to my knuckles like molasses, pulls like taffy.

A clawed finger pushes through.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 8th:

Spidery fingers pry my closet open from the inside. The spindle-limbed creature squeezes through a doorway half its size, hunches over my bed.

This thing took my brother last night.

I grin, slam my baseball bat into its skull. Tonight I’m going to take him back.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 9th:

There’s a bug on Mama’s back only I can see: a tick the size of a corgi, mouth parts rooted in the nape of her neck. It’s been there since Daddy died.

When I got ticks on me, Mama used hot matches to make them let go.

I’m going to need a lot more than a match.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 10th:

The well’s inscription: Be careful what you wish for.

I scoff, but toss my coin.

Needle-sharp quills push through my skin, unfurl into blood-slick feathers. Fingerbones stretch and contort as the wings suck marrow from newly hollow bones.

I always wanted to fly.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 11th:

There’s a door in my house that doesn’t match the rest. It lurks under the stairs to the second floor: age-weathered mahogany with a green-tinged copper handle.

It’s always been locked. I’ve never found the key.

But today, when I come downstairs, it’s open.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 12th:

The NICU sends you home with an underweight infant and an apnea monitor. You stick electrodes to baby’s chest, bind the web of cords in bandage wraps, bundle the fragile package in blankets.

What if it isn’t enough?

What if you sold your soul for nothing?

♦ ♦ ♦

October 13th:

The street lamp above my car gutters. I clutch my keys, fumble for my phone, illuminating my Buick Roadmaster with its flashlight function.

The passenger side window is shattered–glass everywhere. A dark shape crouches in the seat. Reflective eyes stare at me.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 14th:

A crack in reality opens beneath my house. Millipedes the size of pythons pull it through. They writhe outside my windows, legs clicking constantly against the glass.

I’m almost out of food. Batteries. Candles.

How long before my only option is going outside?

♦ ♦ ♦

October 15th:

There’s a large package on my porch. Did I order something? It’s so easy to lose track.

I pick the box up, shake it. The contents thump, unpadded, against one side–then lurch and snarl. Claws pierce the cardboard as the thing inside scrabbles for purchase.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 16th:

I hate public transportation. I can’t avoid the headwigs–ephemeral leeches latched to ignorant skulls, feeding on joy. They love talking. Sometimes they speak through their hosts’ mouths.

The meds don’t stop me seeing or hearing them. They just stop me caring

♦ ♦ ♦

October 17th:

There’s a six-by-eight room in my basement that latches from the outside. Inside, the door is scratched and mangled. My husband and I jokingly dubbed it the Murder Room.

Turns out the previous owners abandoned the house with two German Shepherds locked inside.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 18th:

The puckered scar on my left shoulder itches with the full moon’s rise. Bones crack and pop. Muscles tear and reknit; fresh strength surges through them. Teeth fall out, grow back jagged-sharp.

It’s agony.

It’s ecstasy.

I scent prey on the wind. Time to hunt.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 19th:

Lightning struck the dead oak in my backyard two days back. The tree blazed bonfire-bright until the sky cracked open and drowned the flames. Chopped the damn thing down today and found bones embedded in the wood. Squirrel skulls. Bird wings. A human ribcage.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 20th:

A troll and a siren, banished to the mortal realm, moved into the sewers of Detroit. They took their names from the intersection above: Mack Avenue, Helen Street.

The Fae hadn’t understood their love, their desire to live in harmony.

The humans didn’t, either.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 21st:

My abductors haul me into a room straight from my nightmares: wall to wall cryotubes. They strip me down, shove me in an empty one. As my door ices over, they open another.

I make eye contact with myself.

Maybe the new me will realize it’s not just nightmares.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 22nd:

A summoning ritual drags me from the aether, pressurizes my incorporeal form into something solid. I probe the ritual circle’s spiritual vacuum chamber for cracks.


I turn to the meatsack who summoned me, force a grin. Working customer service is hell.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 23rd:

Something’s dragging people through mirrors. It started in the Funhouse, then spread to office buildings. Hospitals. Homes.

Everyone’s stumbling around with people-shaped holes in their lives, but they don’t know it. No one remembers the missing–no one but me.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 24th:

Kissing turns to necking, turns to fondling.

Then he bites.


There’s no pain–only pressure. Is it shock? Did he drug me? I try to push away, to protest, but my limbs lock up and my jaw slackens. If I don’t regain control soon he’s going to drain me dry.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 25th:

The waiting room in the doctor’s office feels colder, today. Grayer. The nurse who calls me back has dull black eyes and an unsettlingly wide grin. When she checks my weight, drool trickles down her chin.

The exam room door yawns open. Inside, a pile of corpses.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 26th:

Midnight. My friends and I sneak onto an isolated beach. We ignore the posted signs–can’t read them in the dark anyway. Clothes get stripped off at the waterline. We walk in knee-deep, waist-deep, shoulder-deep.

A tentacle wraps around my leg and drags me down.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 27th:

I go into labor. My doctor offers Twilight Sleep–a chance at painless labor. I beg for it.

I wake in a hospital bed, sweat-drenched, flat-stomached. My heart lurches. What happened to my baby?

The nurse hands me a screaming infant, says it’s mine.

But is it?

♦ ♦ ♦

October 28th:

Dad always said you can’t trust strangers, but I don’t know that he had the right of it. People aren’t always understanding, but they can learn.


I’m sure you’ll learn.

We’re going to be fast friends. Sorry about the chains–can’t risk Dad being right.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 29th:

I rummage through my trunk of animal skins, perusing my options. Wolf, bear, caribou–what should I be today? Do I want a predator’s strength or the adrenaline rush of playing prey?

Neither appeals today. I close the trunk and open another, full of human skins.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 30th:

The shadow I cast isn’t my own. It’s too large for my slight frame, with fingertips ending in wicked-curved claws. Sometimes, late at night, it slips out through the crack between bedroom window and sill. One day, I might follow it–but I fear what I may find.

♦ ♦ ♦

October 31st:

I’ve been falling apart since Mama died. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried to keep myself together, but sometimes the stitches pop in areas I can’t reach. There’s a hole in my back that hemorrhages stuffing. I need to find–or make–a new Mama before it’s too late.

♦ ♦ ♦

The End