Friday, March 15, 2024

When the Woman in the Forest Says, “Please, You Must Help” • by Elis Montgomery

We’re loath to rebuff a pretty face, or a bounty on a beast.

Sobbing, the woman rushes us to the arachnid’s lair, into its chill. She doesn’t miss a step, her well-bustled skirts gliding over ice-silvered ground.

We follow carefully lest we slip, but when we reach the ice—

We freeze. Ice isn’t this… sticky.

Then the woman turns, hikes up her huge skirts—

Revealing eight massive chitinous limbs, surging forward with breathless, ravenous speed.

Elis Montgomery is a speculative fiction writer from Vancouver, Canada. She is a member of SFWA and Codex. When she’s not writing, she’s usually hanging upside down in an aerial arts class or a murky cave. Find her there or at


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The Pete Wood Challenge is an informal ad hoc story-writing competition. Once a month Pete Wood spots writers the idea for a story, usually in the form of a phrase or a few key words, along with some restrictions on what can be submitted, usually in terms of length. Pete then collects the resulting entries, determines who has best met the challenge, and sends the winners over to Bruce Bethke, who arranges for them to be published on the Stupefying Stories web site.

You can find all the previous winners of the Pete Wood Challenge at this link.

This time the challenge was to write a flash fiction piece playing off key word: hike.


Mr. Naron said...

Clever use of foreshadowing. Not missing a step on the ice was subtle.