Tanka: The Fox

Staring at the dark

Watching faces in the walls

The sound of nothing

A fox shrieks in the distance

Reminds me there’s life outside

© Natalie Mansfield


75-Word Story: Patterns


The patterns on her skin disturb him. They might be scars; they might be moles. But he thinks he sees numbers. Sixes. Three of them.

She knows he sees them; she wants him to see them. She wants to plant a seed in his mind. Just the smallest suggestion.

She doesn’t want to scare him. Not yet. It’s too soon; he’s not ready. She’ll reveal herself slowly, shedding her skin one layer at a time.

© Natalie Mansfield

Previously published on The Drabble

Poem: Faded


We were full of life

both of us, ready

to start this journey



You were bursting with potential

a blank canvas

waiting to absorb



I cleaned your wounds

you kept me warm

I made you



But now you look so haunted

your skin crumbles, flakes away

your flesh has turned



Did you follow me into the darkness?


the shadows

on that lonely road?


Did my silent demons


the purple

and flesh from your bones?


I never meant to let you


No one told me

a building could be depressed.


© Natalie Mansfield

100-Word Story: The Measure Of a Man

The Measure of a Man

Eight men stand around a butcher’s table, their faces obscured by the flickering candlelight. Shadows dance across the ceiling as they carve and slice and tear meat away from the bone. Teeth, nails and strands of hair lie discarded on the blood-stained floor.

On the table, a fleshless young man stares out into a space he no longer sees. The skin that once covered his ample frame lies next to his bones, ready to be repurposed. When a world’s food supply runs out, the value of a man is measured by the amount of meat on his bones.

© Natalie Mansfield

Horror Poem: A Price To Pay

He slides between the sheets
falls asleep
for the first time in years

in the hallway
shlopping and squelching
along the carpet
outside the bedroom

The door creaks
A sliver of moonlight
bathing the room in
silver moonlight

The stench of swamp water
wakes him
from a dreamless sleep

He tries to turn
toward the stench
toward the squelching
He can’t move
his body is frozen

Something’s in the room
with him
behind him, something
that smells of swamp

Squelch, shlop, squelch
It stops
behind him
so loud
too loud

It slides into bed
beside him
over his useless body
into his rigid arms

slimy hands
his naked body

He tries to speak
his words are slurred
screams, slip away

It slides its swollen tongue
between his teeth
Worms, maggots
all the way down
into his stomach

It disappears
into the night
The only evidence
left behind
a piece of scalp
on the bedside table

She’ll come again
tomorrow night
every night
he pays
his sanity
slips away

© Natalie Mansfield

100-Word Story: Endless Ending

Endless Ending

Old Luke lies in a hospital bed, staring out from a body that no longer works – a body that will never work again. He watches the hazy figure that stalks the ward each night, touching the chosen ones lightly on the shoulder and releasing them from their flesh-covered prisons.

Luke longs to feel the figure’s hazy hand on his shoulder. Some nights he tries to move, tries to shout, tries to blink his eyes – anything to get the figure’s attention. But it never even looks in his direction. It just walks on by and saves its gifts for younger men.

© Natalie Mansfield

75-Word Story: Gone

The emptiness was the worst thing. Sitting in the middle of the floor, staring at the bare walls, immersed in guilt and shame – scratching, cutting, tearing – clawing chunks of flesh from his mutilated body. Trying to find something real below the surface. He ripped at the raw meat that used to be his arm, looking for some hint of humanity, but found nothing underneath. The man he used to be was long gone.

© Natalie Mansfield