O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

Five-Sentence Scary Story Contest: Ash

As promised, it’s time for yet another five-sentence scary story contest. This time, you have an entire weekend to submit your story in the comments.

For inspiration, here are the links to the previous 5-sentence contests:
The one with snow
The one with a shark
The romantic one
The very first one


First, please take a look at this recent photo:

Now, for the rules.

This is a Five-Sentence Scary Story Contest. Your job is to come up with a creative and frightening story inspired by this photo (please submit your story via comment), while adhering to the following five rules:

Rule #1: It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the actual real-life subject/explanation of the photo.

Rule #2: It has to involve a character nicknamed “Mr. Shifty.” There is nothing significant behind the name “Mr. Shifty.” I thought of it, it made me laugh, and I want to see how you turn something that makes me laugh into something foreboding.


Rule #3: Somewhere, your story must contain this phrase: volcanic ash cloud.

Rule #4: Your story must contain five sentences. No more. No less. However, there are no rules dictating the length of your sentences

Rule #5: Your story must be frightening, moody, mysterious, or otherwise scary in tone.

The winner gets a free copy of O Me of Little Faith. I will determine the winner based on a highly subjective formula that considers creativity, style, adherence to the rules, and the relative awesomeness of your story in comparison to other submissions.


The contest will last until 9 am central time on Monday, April 26, at which point I’ll choose my favorite five-sentence submission. To get things started, my own submission is below. (Don’t worry, though. Despite my raging ego, I probably won’t choose myself as the winner. Though the shipping costs would be much less expensive that way.)


Gerald coughed, gagged, and then stumbled in the rancid mud. The volcanic ash cloud had swallowed the horizon now, a black devouring nothingness that brought him to his ancient knees. Greasy fingers against his neck woke him from his stupor, and suddenly there was young Mr. Shifty, the farmer, dragging him through the muck toward the Dark Place. Not the barn, Gerald thought, his wool trembling in the premature twilight. Please, God, not the barn.


Your turn. Go!

Comments read comments(18)
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Bryan Allain

posted April 23, 2010 at 10:37 am

Once Mr. Shifty got his teeth into you, your headstone was written. Poor John Mark knew it all too well, and once he felt those incisors sink into his right calf he knew exactly how the last 12 minutes of his life would play out. He'd be dragged through the volcanic ash cloud and dumped into the lava where his body would melt into the earth like the others who had experienced the same demise before him. Next would be his wife Anna and their dog Boyett. "At least I won't have to finish painting the house," he muttered.

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S. Kyle Davis

posted April 23, 2010 at 10:58 am

Feet tore into the ground as the killer glared greedily through the window onto the life he couldn’t have… the life he should have, but was forbidden to him. The instruments of death were sharpened; the death would be slow, painful, and horrifying, and when he was done the air would be thick with the stench of their blood, as impenetrable as a volcanic ash cloud. The killer rocked back and forth in eager anticipation (as was his habit, the curse of a single too-short leg), and watched as his prey entered the living room of the ancient and decrepit house, his work boots and coveralls still caked with the mud of the day.————–Jonah, sighing with weariness and so exhausted after the hours of drudgery that he was actually looking forward to watching Dancing with the Stars on his flat screen (the one luxury in the otherwise frugal ranch), looked out the window to see one of the sheep, a old ram lovingly named Mr. Shifty, watching him through the window.Jonah cursed, unsure how the ram had escaped the pen yet again, and was rising to his feet when a sight so terribly impossible chilled his soon-to-be-gnawed bones: Mr. Shifty grinned.————————————–I hoped it was allowable that I wrote the first scene in the story. I saw the photo as the last scene, the scene where the tables turn and, after a scene were Mr. Shifty chases him through the yard, Jonah finally gets the drop on him and brings him down. That would just take more than five sentences to tell. Last lines from the book: "What's for dinner?" Jonah's on-again/off-again girlfriend Sally asked.Jonah smiled a ubiquitous smile. "Lamb chops."

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Matt Morgan

posted April 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

Trey Lewis had hunted since dawn. As perspiration poured from his face and arms, he cursed the thick, volcanic ash cloud of humidity now choking his lungs. He dragged the dead ram, whom he named Mr. Shifty after their battle, to the feet of his mother, Shari. As she slowly slid her hand up into the rotting cavity, Trey heard his mother begin singing, and he knew this was only the beginning of his worst nightmare. Her words: This is the song that never ends…

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Maria D. @ DownrightDomesticity

posted April 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

The mercenary, his gruesome deed done, dragged his lifeless target through the barnyard mud. It was risky, taking out a target in broad daylight, but the pending volcanic ash cloud had cleared the barnyard of all witnesses… but one. From the highest window in the barn, Mr. Shifty nodded in approval and withdrew into the loft. The goats had won. For now.

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shawn smucker

posted April 23, 2010 at 11:47 am

The occasional passing volcanic ash cloud always killed a few of the strays, but Bryan had never thought of using one of them to lure that nightmare from the barn. He drug the straggler by the horn and left it lying in the middle of the deserted lane, then jogged back to the pick up truck where he had been living for a month: it was out of gas, but the rifle under the seat still had one more shining bullet. He knew he was running a serious risk by staying in the truck after dusk, but he couldn’t stand one more night in the trees, and “Mr. Shifty” gravitated to dead flesh first. As the filtered sunlight began to fade, and specks of snow drifted aimlessly through the gathering dark, Bryan lifted the rifle and looked through the scope, the x trained on the slowly opening barn door. But when the door swung wide, nothing was there, and Bryan felt the subtlest shift as someone, or something, stepped up into the bed of the pick-up truck and approached him from behind.

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posted April 23, 2010 at 11:49 am

After the crosshairs were set, the brain matter was splattered, and the cigarette was lit, Mr. Shifty removed himself from his perch. When he was below the red roof, the attempt to remove his blade from its sheath was failed, due to frost, and the thought of not being able to mutilate his victim’s goat, infuriated him so much, that he removed his coveralls. After noticing that my mother’s panties would not be appropriate attire for the ritual act of his Earth Day sacrifice; he removed them. I could tell Hambone enjoyed being naked in front of me; but what bothered me most, was watching how affectionate he was with his kill, before the volcanic ash cloud filled the air with that humbling smell. Every April 22nd, as I give my mother a sponge bath, I am reminded how I lost my father and why I am missing my left pinky.

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posted April 23, 2010 at 12:44 pm

The gleaming knife hung suspended over the boy, like a volcanic ash cloud over Iceland. Mr. Shifty (formerly known as Abraham) had suckered his fool kid into “a nice, spiritual retreat in the mountains, and maybe a little nosh after.” Thank god for the goat stuck in the brush. Never again, though, since from that day forward, Isaac brought his own goat. “Hey Daddy, time for our walk.”

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posted April 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Little Billy Johnson had given the scary man the moniker “Mr. Shifty” due to his strange behavior around adults and his habit of joining in the juvenile games of the small children in our neighborhood when the parents weren’t around. The stories that roused our curiosity enough to break into his home that night, aged back to my parents’ generation and spoke of dark nights when Mr. Shifty would drag dead bodies across town from the graveyard on one side of town to his home at the top of the hill.My heart still beats as rapid as it did that day when we found the tarp that contained the fragments of little Billy Johnson’s body, the putrid odor of which struck our nostrils like a volcanic ash cloud. I can recall the feeling of every ounce of courage being drained from our bodies when the door swung open to reveal Mr. Shifty standing there dragging a dead goat with a smile on his face as he exclaimed, “I see you came to play with us!” I alone escaped to tell the tale.

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posted April 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm

It happened the way they said it would once the volcanic ash cloud descended. The choking stench was too much for Mr. Shifty to delay the killings any longer. "Death is just a part of the cycle of life they tell me," he muttered as he reloaded his shotgun. "I'm just movin' the cycle a little faster is all." The shell exploded, the blood flew, and the ash continued to fall.

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posted April 23, 2010 at 10:25 pm

As I awoke from a deep sleep, I found myself enveloped in a volcanic ash cloud of my thoughts. My mind shuffled through the possibilities of what could've happened. Once again, I fell asleep. This time, I was awakened by the sound of the dirt turning over beneath me as my body is dragged across the group by someone I didn't know. I'm never partying with Mr. Shifty again.

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Carole Turner

posted April 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm

All Buck could say was "Curse you Volcanic Ash cloud!" as he tried to rescue Mr Shifty from certain death. The animal was too heavy to pick up, and Bucks third nipple had started itching again. He knew it was just a matter of time until he too would become one of them, as Mr. Shifty had. Where was his Hemorrhoid cream when he needed it?

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posted April 24, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Mr. Shifty's Gulp and Go was the last safe refuge amongst the burning rubble of a town Meadville had become. The burning corpses had left what looked to be a volcanic ash cloud hanging above the city. As Darrin looked cautiously out of the hollowed out Ford Fiesta at the legion of undead mercenary search party dispatched specifically for him, he knew this was his last chance. Gripping the flare gun all the more tightly, he shot the last reaming flare behind the growing mob. They turned and ran, and Darrin made his dash for Mr. Shifty's; slamming shut the garage door feeling he had won only moments before Mr. Shifty, himself hiding amongst the Slurpee machines, devoured Darrin's flesh.

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posted April 25, 2010 at 9:30 am

Jeremy knew there was no turning back now.The goat suit was his only hope of penetrating Dr. Schiftowitz's defense grid, getting the serum and escaping undetected…and he had removed it too soon!The guardians had warned him that breathing through the headpiece would be more difficult than running a marathon through a volcanic ash cloud, but in reality, it was the memories of all he and Dollie had shared and lost that drove him to near madness in the suit.He was free of it now, and as those memories faded and his focus returned, so did his resolve to make Mr. Shifty pay for his crimes.But as he turned to make a run for the lab, and saw the hooded beast standing in the road, he knew he would never get that chance.

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Eric Stevens

posted April 25, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Jeremy looked up from the valley where he lived and saw the volcanic ash cloud rising from Mt. Maroa. The gods surely must be angry with his village, he thought to himself. Last time the smoke appeared, Jeremy's neighbor had been kind enough to sacrifice one of his goats, but apparently it was not good enough, as a newly formed cloud had once again appeared over the mountain. He knew at once what must be done, even though Mr. Shifty, his family's prized goat, had been with them for three years now. His little sister Megan would never be able to forgive him for sacrificing Mr. Shifty, but he knew he must act quickly, despite the love that had grown in his own heart over the years for that god-damned goat (literally).

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posted April 25, 2010 at 11:53 pm

I could forgive the unkempt lawn, the untrimmed trees, the unfinished paint siding, or even the milky windows that kept vision of the outside world at a stable dim; the thing I could never reconcile was that terrible red roof – that ominous, crimson blood covering that watched and loomed over every part of my life like a volcanic ash cloud ready to suffocate whatever it enclosed. Mom jokingly named the house Mr. Shifty because every object inside would mysteriously move to a different room or hallway, making it seemingly impossible to find whatever we needed. When the car keys appeared in the fish bowl and eggs from the hen house materialized on the record player, it was easy enough to laugh off Mr. Shifty’s handiwork, but soon the victimized objects would hold more significance as they began to shift from this world into death – first the goats, then the chickens, the pet dog – and I was the one forced to bury their limp bodies in the ground all around our dwelling place like a garden of casualties. Dad thought nothing of it, blaming uncontrollable life’s circumstances, and Mom just continued to make silly irrelevant jokes about Mr. Shifty, because they didn’t realize the part of the script they too were being forced to play: we were his subjects of order and uniformity stuck within his twisted labyrinth game. Enveloped between a ruby roof and a blood soaked ground, I now live lifeless, stuck within his confines – moving from room to room as any other object of the house consumed under the little red riding hood.

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Brandon Sneed

posted April 26, 2010 at 6:50 am

The goat for the girl, the devil had demanded three hours ago, a demand made after he’d unleashed a volcanic ash cloud on the farm, taken Price’s bride, and ordered Price to return “Mr. Shifty” – three hours after Price had shot the goat with the demon’s eyes. Price trembled as he trudged past a mound of firewood to the meeting place, the image of how he’d last seen her – weeping, dangling in the air, arms tied to the tree – clashing with the fear of the pain he imagined the devil inflicting upon him.Price arrived, threw the beast at the devil’s feet – “The goat for the girl,” he said with a stammer – then flung his arms around his bride, weeping.Then she left with the devil, she and he and the tree all disintegrating into ash, leaving Price alone, reality terrorizing him more. He looked back at the only thing that had been real: the dead goat that belonged to a man with a broken mind.

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posted April 26, 2010 at 9:03 am

Since the volcanic ash cloud brought all air travel in Europe to a screeching halt, including live-animal transfer, Farmer Dan decided the second most reasonable mode of transportation would be to drag his prize goat all the way to Lithuania. Unfortunately, Farmer Dan didn't notice that his planned route would take him through the valley of shadows on the north end of the town of Pharynx. Fourteen days and six miles into his journey, they entered the ghostly remains of the town. Surrounding him were the remains of farmers from his home town, and the livestock they too were transporting across the continent, who had met their mysterious end in this town. Twice Farmer Dan fell into the muck that covered the streets, and just when he was almost near the edge of the town he saw the last flash of hope disappear right before his eyes, as there stood Mr. Shifty with a life-sized replica of Ryan Seacrest….

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