One of the reasons I continue to write the way I do is down to the lovely Erin Cole.
Erin was one of the first to read my pieces on Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers and has offered her support and encouragement ever since. I know my style and genre doesn't suit everyone but Erin gave me the confidence to write as myself. And now I can't imagine ever doing it any other way. A thousand thanks to you, Erin.
As with many of the February Femmes Fatales, I have had the honour to share web and printed space with her. And in particular, although it hasn't yet arrived in the UK, we both feature in Red Skies Press' Their Dark Masters: Extreme Vampire Horror, along with fellow FFF Marissa Farrar. And of that, I'm very proud.
I have such deep admiration for Erin's work; it is eloquent and frighteningly honest. Her words barter and fight with passion, hammering the heart like the stamping feet of a gypsy whilst spiralling through the senses with her unique poetry. Lace and funerary cards.
Erin's chilling tale The Phantoms of Jamie Stevens will get you thinking, I promise.
The Phantoms of Jamie Stevens by Erin Cole
—My dearest Jamie, the letters always started. Your mother is no longer in pain. She stops reading at this point. Collects herself.
Basement stairs tunnel into midnight, the depths of her insatiable need. Her phantom knows why she is there, underneath the light of life. It’s not her first visit, won’t be her last. Waiting in the black, he keeps refuge, remedial subsistence—his darkness her thirst, her sickness his fruit.
Along the stair railing, she slides ivory fingers. The bar is silky, steel-cold—a frigid, cruel reminder of the phantom’s nature. He is selfish and merciless. Her vulnerability perverts his will, and though unmoving is he, she can feel his pulse race for it is a wild colt in her own heart. She steps into the cellar. The phantom emerges from a shadowed corner.
—It was her decision to end her life. How could I not grant my wife her last wish? I loved her. If you never forgive me, I will understand. But you must find peace, for yourself. For her.
Like harpooned lust, his sable eyes snare hers, not a gloss of truth behind them. Depravity is a magnetic rage, and he devours the distance between them. She is his space and he consumes her, breeching her being, becoming a part of her, a storm-sated union. There are no words or thoughts, just senses ablaze—a burning in the marrow of the soul.
He takes everything from her, everything that is true, and all that is a lie. She steals across the narrow bridge of madness, severed from the physical—her anger and fear, bitter desperation, boredom of life, and blindness to the stars, all blurred like thick, cold rain on glass. She has no past or future. She is his and he is nothing.
—At the time, I did what I thought was right. I know, I trust, that you know what to do and that you will do it. For you.
The phantom is gone when she wakes, freed by her surrender. The basement lights flicker and stillness wraps around her. She feels wholeness again. Upstairs in her bedroom, she sits cross-legged on the bed and lets a bullet drop from a chamber into the palm of her hand. It is shiny and now without a name. She places it in an envelope with a note that says,
Never. You will live another day.
Erin Cole is a phantom. Wait, that’s not totally accurate. She wants to be your phantom. If you are even remotely interested, you can view her dark, wicked spirits here, www.erincolelive.blogspot.com or here, www.erincolewrites.com. She even has her very own ghost story — Grave Echoes: A Kate Waters Mystery.