ms. eldritch horror

"people often reveal their true colours when they are held accountable for their actions; there are those who want to make amends and improve their behaviour and those who don't."
- amalia costa (wtw alum)

Message to Readers

There was going to be more, but if you let me do that, I'd keep writing until like an hour before the deadline, and I want to make Flynn's job easier.

Collection #WrittenInBlood

December 25, 2018


Based on her recent search history, Valerie Hollow was certain that she was going to be able to research some very interesting material first-hand. As a freelance writer, Valerie handled all kinds of jobs - everything from small journalism gigs to ghostwriting biographies. But there was only so far Google could take her. Over the past few years, Valerie had been compiling an anthology of sorts. She wrote stories of dying professions, of small business owners and traditions and customs that had faded through time. She wrote people.

    Valerie's very livelihood depended on the progress of her anthology. It was not financial problems, no Valerie was quite an accomplished multi-tasker and didn't exactly have to beg around for employment. Valerie's anthology was her very world. She had created these people and their families and friends, all on the very same Earth, but who she would never meet with face to face. Only when this anthology was published would she tell the jeweller down the street from her favourite cafe that Iris Chandler's necklace was a spitting image of the locket Valerie had bought for her mother all those years ago. Only then would she tell Owen Simmons, a farmhand who was her first crush in school, that he and his mare River were immortalised in text. Only then would she tell her sister that she had written proof that art was not a professional mistake.

    Google could only take her so far. So she had come up with an idea, thanks to her overbearing father. Yes, she was 28, no she did not want to get married soon, no she did not want a baby, fine, she would thinking about dating. And thanks to an initiative which had recently been approved by her state government, R.U.S.H., Valerie was now sitting at the window seat of her favourite cafe, waiting for her date to arrive.

    She drummed her fingers against the lacquered wood, manicured only for this occasion (since they had been bitten and chewed from frustration at Google's inadequacy, hence why she was here) and stared out into the cobbled street. The warm cafe offered some shelter from the winter's chill outside, and she sipped at her coffee, watching every person who passed the window, wondering if the next passerby would have her appointment.

    Someone cleared their throat next to Valerie's small table, dragging her out of her stupor. She expected it to be the waiter again, but as she turned, a tall man in a trenchcoat and plaid scarf stood in front of her. A plaid scarf, this must be him.

    "Valerie Hollow?" he asked. His voice was... natural. For all of Valerie's extensive vocabulary, she was suddenly lost for words. Lord knows she had been anticipating this encounter for an entire week, but nothing had quite prepared her for the real thing. She nodded and stood, her chair making an awful screeching noise as it was pushed back, her green parka jacket crumpling to the ground. Valerie shook his hand quickly, then motioned for him to sit as she retrieved her jacket as quickly as she could, her cheeks burning with embarrassment.

    As she sat, she cleared her throat as well. "You must be Simon Reeves. Feel free to order something, I've already gotten my coffee." She turned her mug slightly and continued. "This may sound a little strange but we might be here a while because I have some questions to ask you."

    Simon's easy smile faltered slightly, but returned within the second with a positive response. "Honestly not the strangest thing I've been asked today," he said, his lips turned upwards as if about to smirk or chuckle, Valerie couldn't foresee which.

    As her partner turned to call the waiter over, the brunette retrieved her notepad from one of the deep pockets of her jacket. It was old and worn, filled with scribbles now meaningless to her, and important questions and titles she doubted she would forget before her eventual retirement. Her fingers itched for the easy rhythm of digits against smooth keys, but she had left her laptop in her crowded apartment for the sake of traveling easier. And more than anything, she did not want this to seem like an interrogation. Good appearances were crucial.

    Valerie looked up from flicking her notepad to a page mostly empty of ink or graphite to see Simon staring lazily at her, his head resting on a propped arm that reflected no small amount of dedication to physical fitness. "Isn't this supposed to be a date?" he asked, but it wasn't an accusation, more of a playful jab. This was the turning point Valerie dreaded with every encounter she managed to scrounge up from the R.U.S.H. program.

    "Actually, I'm not here looking for a romantic interest," she said carefully. If she didn't play this right she would lose another potentially valuable asset. "I'm afraid I haven't been completely honest with you. As you know, my name is Valerie Hollow. But I am a writer. As a writer, I am constantly looking for a way to better improve the way I view the world, so that I can create windows to ordinary people to see how the other half live. I have been deliberately searching up... how do you say... interesting questions? Niche inquiries? To make things simpler, I've been Googling weird things so that I can use the algorithm of R.U.S.H. to my advantage and collect information about certain fields of work straight from personal sources. Based on my recent attempts, I'm guessing you are either a miner, due to your... adept physique, or a bodyguard of some kind, security perhaps...?"

    Valerie waited, terribly aware of how this could turn out if Simon Reeves didn't have a curious nature or at least a sense of humour. But to her immense relief, he only laughed.

    "Thanks for the compliments," he grinned, "but I'm not a miner, and I'm definitely not a bodyguard. That kind of lifestyle doesn't suit me." He waved his hands around as if to emphasise, "All that training just to stand around all day. I wouldn't be able to stay still!"

    Valerie was feeling quite at ease when she ventured, "Then what are you? Professionally."

    "I'm a butcher of sorts," he answered, none of his charm lost.

    Only then did Valerie remember the Google search she had made two weeks prior to investigate how to thoroughly remove blood stains from fabric. It was quite unrelated to her writing, she had misjudged the projection of her knife and given herself quite a nasty slice after dealing with some meat that she had left in the freezer too long. But still, this was a rather unusual opportunity, since the local butcher didn't exactly have a favourable opinion of her.

    Valerie clicked her pen. "When did you start, er, butchery? Is that right?"

    "That'll do," replied Simon. "I was pretty young, I took up an apprenticeship for the trade when I was around 12."

    "What led you to seeking out this profession, or did you just fall into it?" Valerie wrote the dot point - apprenticeship at 12.

    "I guess the easiest answer for this is I 'fell into it'. I have a lot of siblings, I'm the oldest of six," at this, Valerie looked up from her notepad, mouth agape and Simon laughed again, "yeah, but the youngest two were from my mum's second marriage. He was a businessman, and my mum was a late shift nurse, so both of them got out of the house pretty early and came back pretty late. My mum's second husband didn't have to stay out that late, and I only found out into my teens that he was an alcoholic, so I guess that explained that." He smiled sardonically before continuing. "I had to look after five kids, and I didn't really have the best time in school either. We had a neighbour that came in and helped out sometimes, and he hooked me up with the apprenticeship so that I could earn some money and still look after my siblings without sacrificing my own sanity or personal time."

    "So you left school early?"

    "I got free tutoring through the apprenticeship."

    "I see." Valerie noted - tutoring through ATT. "Can you tell me the perks of your occupation, or particularly interesting story or experience you've had? What are your specialties, things like that." She had already gotten thrilling content for this character, but she needed more on the job to make this story believable.

    "Well, I specialise in difficult to acquire meats - fowl, buffalo, kangaroo, camel, a bunch of exotic stuff for those really well paying clients. But like everyone, I have my favourites. Care to guess?"

    Valerie looked him up and down and tapped her notepad with her pen. "You seem like a beef kind of guy. Am I right?"

    "Wrong!" he announced cheerily, as if no one ever won this little game. His gaze turned to steel, trained on Valerie. "It's human."
What do you think R.U.S.H. stands for? Let me know in the comments!

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See History

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  • Secret Rose

    Hi Anha, just wanted to let you know that you won 2nd place in The Bubbling Pen’s contest! Actually, we were tied. Congratulations!

    over 1 year ago
  • Blotted

    Contest results are out!

    over 1 year ago
  • Ashleigh2403

    letting you know I decided to extend my deadline 2 days

    over 1 year ago
  • janice

    Contest winners are up!

    over 1 year ago
  • rainandsonder

    oh my god, this is amazing. i love how you used the prompt here; valerie feels like a fully-fleshed character and that ending.

    over 1 year ago
  • R.j.Elsewhere

    The good Kush

    over 1 year ago
  • Anha

    @Araw I have no idea. I said "ok the guy's called Simon" and then had no idea what the last name should be.

    over 1 year ago
  • Araw

    I love it! Though, isn't Simon Reeves that guy who hosts Its Academic?

    over 1 year ago
  • nevaredhp

    WOW I love this story! Valerie's character is spot on throughout the whole thing.

    over 1 year ago
  • Doktor Habit


    over 1 year ago