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Cover Art, Escape Rooms & Flash Fiction

June 14, 2022

blank vertical space, 24 pixels hightwo different cover images, on left old pulp magazine cover woman being threatened by shadowy murderous forces, on right illustration for short story No Escape Room screaming people xylophone skull spiders snake scale Whack-A-Mole game

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highblank vertical space, 16 pixels highHow about something a little different?blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

I recently participated in a Pulp Flash Fiction Writing Challenge issued by Justin Cox, editor of The Writing Cooperative. Here’s the challenge:blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Pulp magazines may no longer exist, but their cover art still does. The Pulp Magazines Project and The Pulp Magazine Archive contain scans from hundreds of pulps dating back more than 100 years. They’re a treasure trove of art and, for our purposes, inspiration.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to select a random cover from one of the websites listed as a source of pulpy inspiration. Ignore the title (you’re not trying to recreate the original story) and create your own flash fiction story based on the image.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

The image on the left (above) was my “pulp inspiration.” It made me think of haunted houses and old horror movies– not the gory ones, the fun ones!blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Then I thought of an escape room. I’ve never been to one myself, but a friend of mine told me about his experience.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

It sounded like one of those computer games where you have to find things that’ll help you get out of one room and into the next so you can eventually save the world, possibly the galaxy.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

I found myself wondering: what if an escape room were more like a haunted house with monsters lurking in the closets?blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

So I wrote a story called The No Escape Room and created a “cover” for it, incorporating elements from the story.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high blank vertical space, 32 pixels highcover art for flash fiction short story The No Escape Room skull with snake spiders toy xylophone scale coffin Whack-A-Mole game with blowguns screaming people

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels highHere’s the beginning of the story along with a link to the rest of it on the Medium platform.blank vertical space, 40 pixels high

“I’ve never done one before,” said Vicki Capps. “What happens if we can’t get out??”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“They call the fire department and hose you down ’cause you’re hysterical,” said Bob McMurray, top salesman at the insurance agency. He was wearing a Baltimore Orioles cap pulled low over his eyes.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“I did one when I was in New Orleans,” said Marjorie Funk, the office manager. “A lot of the clues involved jazz.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“Well, we’re in Indianapolis,” said Herb Warner, “so it’ll be pretty corny I bet, ha-ha!”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

They were there for a convention. Sheila Evans, who owned the agency, thought going to an escape room would be a good bonding experience. She glanced over at Patti Reuben, a long-time agent. She was whispering something to Joe Wiggins, their tech guy, who had to be a good ten years younger. Some bonding going on there already, she thought.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

There were seven of them. “That should bring us luck,” thought Sheila. She felt a hand on her arm and jumped. “Sorry,” said the perky young woman in the purple dress. “I know you wanted it to be just your group, but could you include Mr. Abbott? He has to leave town in an hour, and this would be his only chance.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The man beside her was old, his faced seamed and lined with experiences you didn’t want to inquire into. He was wearing a black felt hat that looked like it had been used for a seat cushion. His silvery goatee quivered as he spoke. “I should so appreciate it,” he said. His eyes closed. He seemed to doze off.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Sheila frowned at Miss Perky. “I don’t think…”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“Thank you, thank you so much!’ said Miss Perky. She pressed a button and a door hissed open. “There are five rooms,” she said, “then you exit into our gift shop where you can buy postcards and souvenirs and things.”blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

They walked into the room. The door slid shut behind them. It was completely empty. The walls were gray concrete. There was a bright orange line painted down the middle of the floor. A dozen or so yellow rubber ducks lay scattered about. Sheila heard a whispering sound. She looked down. Dozens of black widow spiders were streaming into the room from a storm drain.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Continue readingblank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Daniel Tideman, Creative Director, 3amCreative LLC

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2022 7:50 AM

    Ooh, dozens of black widow spiders. I’m creeped out already. Do I dare read more? 🤔 I think I dare. 😊

    Like

    • June 17, 2022 10:50 AM

      Ha! I thought of you while I was writing that, Steve. I was gonna add one more room with hellhounds, but I lost my nerve!! 😱💦

      Hope you’re well, and thanks so mucho for taking a look!! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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