Thursday, 3 February 2011

Introducing the 3rd February Femme Fatale - Marissa Farrar

February Femmes Fatales - February 3rd

Wherever I went across the web seeking horror and darkness for my literary pleasure I kept hearing about Marissa Farrar. News about her first novel Alone - a vampire romance - filtered into my consciousness and I found myself taking more and more notice of her name.

We eventually crossed paths like black cats in the night to share velvet cushions in Red Skies Press extreme vampire anthology Their Dark Masters.

I have enormous respect for Marissa's professionalism and her skilled and cunning writing. In her eerie and disturbing February Femmes Fatales tale Faces she makes us shiver with a ghost story based on true events. I just know you're going to enjoy it.

Faces by Marissa Farrar

“The faces on the wall make me scared...”

This answer has just come from my three-year old daughter as I sit with her on her bed, reading her a Winnie-the-Pooh book that deals with emotions. So far the answers have been what I expected;

‘What makes you happy?’

‘Getting treats.’

‘What makes you sad?

‘Not getting treats.’


But then I asked her, ‘what makes you scared?’ and the last thing I expected was that answer.

“What faces?” I say, my blood running cold. “There aren’t faces on the walls.”

“Yes there are,” she insists. “Some of them are nice, but some of them are mean.”

“Where are they?” I ask her. “When do you see them?

“They’re everywhere,” she says, looking around her. “And I see them all the time.

I huddle my daughter into my arms, as always shocked at how quickly my fat little baby, who had dimple in her dimples, grew into this skinny legged, sharp elbowed child.

A shiver runs through me, certain the room is a few degrees cooler.

“There’s nothing on the walls,” I tell her, reaching out and touching one of the smooth surfaces. “You’re seeing shadows.”

She looks at me as only a three-year old can. With total scepticism.

“They’re not shadows,” she almost laughs, as if I’ve told her a dog is a horse. “They’re people and they’re in the walls.”

“Don’t be silly. People can’t get in the walls.”

I know I’m telling her the truth, but there is still part of me that wonders...what if? What if she is right and I am the one who is wrong?

Suddenly claustrophobia presses on all sides, as if I am surrounded by faces, all peering down at me. For once I find myself wishing my ex-husband were here, and I was not alone in the house.

I lean down and kiss her small head, her fine hair tickling my nose.

“Come on, it’s time to go to sleep,” I tell her, pulling the covers up over her narrow frame. She snuggles down into her pillow and pulls her teddy-bear close to her body.

I reach out to switch off her bedroom lamp, but something moves on the wall, something just out of my peripheral vision. I freeze, my hand held in the same position, my heart pounding in my chest. Slowly I turn my head, cautiously needing to know what caught my attention, and almost laugh out loud. There is the shadow of my arm, grotesquely morphed across my daughter’s bedroom wall, frozen in position.

I wiggle my fingers, reassuring myself, and the shadow waves back.

It was nothing, only my imagination. Fears brought on by a child’s imagination.

I kiss her again and whisper, ‘I love you,’ into her ear.

Already she is halfway into the arms of sleep and I quietly back out of the room, trying to tell myself the flurry of movement across the wall is simply a creation of light and shade.

Downstairs, I sink into the arms of my favourite couch and pick up the well-thumbed paperback I’m currently reading. For a while I am taken into a different world; one of heroes with broad shoulders and dangerous smiles, of heroines with heaving breasts and plucky personalities.

A piercing scream tears me from my reverie. My head snaps up, my body launching from the couch. With blood rushing through my veins, I race up the stairs. Bursting through her bedroom door, the first thing I see is my child, huddled in the middle of the bed, her soft toy clutched to her chest. But then, as I take in her surrounding, my eyes prickle with sharp tears of fear.

Her room is back to front, her pillow at the wrong end of her bed, her book case turned around, her toys piled in the centre of the room.

“Honey?” I say, unsure if I should be terrified or angry. “What did you do to your room?”

“It wasn’t me!” she cries, her face in her hands. “It was the faces.”

“Don’t be silly. Faces can’t move things.”

Then I realise what I’ve said. “And there aren’t any faces. They’re just walls!”

I reach out my hand, intending to hit the wall, show her how solid it is, but her shriek of fear freezes me in my tracks.

“No, Mummy! Don’t hit them. They’re the mean ones and you’ll make them angry.”

I open my mouth to tell her the faces are not real, but movement stops me.

Do I see the walls ripple around me, the swirl of dark and light above my head? I squeeze my eyes shut. This isn’t real; it’s hysteria. I’ve watched a documentary about it before, I’m sure. How one person’s panic can take hold of another?

Yet something darts above me, bleeding into the paintwork, and another swoops down like a black cloak, billowing around us.

I grab my daughter from her bed and she clings to my neck, her legs wrapped around my waist. Staring at the mottled pink strands of her bedroom rug— too terrified to look up— I back out of the room and quickly pull the door shut behind me.

I hurry into my own bedroom and slam the door, blocking her bedroom from my own by the length of the hallway and two closed doors. I climb into bed, my daughter still attached to my body, like a monkey, shivering.

It was nothing, I tell myself. Just a bad case of night terrors.

And yet, as I huddle down beneath the covers, holding my daughter tight against the curve of my body, I am certain I can feel eyes peering down at me. 

Faces in the walls.

________________________________

Bio:
Marissa Farrar
Real life horror... as much as you can bear.


Marissa Farrar, born in Devon, England, now resides outside of London with her husband and two children. She has a degree in Zoology, but her true love has always been writing. Marissa writes horror as well as urban fantasy. Alone is her debut novel and her second, The Dark Road, was published in November 2010. She has also had a number of short stories accepted for anthologies.


23 comments:

  1. This was phenomenal, Marissa. There is something so honest and innocent about the fears of childhood that make everything so much more terrifying, and you've given us a tangible fear in the darkness. It's the stuff of nightmares, surely.

    Very, very well done.

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  2. So well done. You captured the fears of childhood and made them tangible adult fears, and then you ended at the perfect moment, leaving us hanging just above the abyss.

    I also admire your writing. Not a word wasted. Crisp, perfect storytelling.

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  3. Oh wow! I love it. I got chills just from reading it. Very well done.

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  4. Really good writing, Marissa - not a beat skipped. Fears from childhood never leave us, and you executed them nicely into the mind of an adult - not an easy thing to do! Well done, I loved it.

    I used to rock myself to sleep when I was a kid, and sometimes, it felt like the bed was moving more than my own movements caused, and I would stop to see if the bed stopped with me - I swear a couple of times, it kept rocking when I was still.

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  5. Thanks so much, everyone, and thanks for having me Lily.
    As Lily pertained to at the start, the story was inspired by my own daughter and her insistence at seeing faces in the walls. With my imagination, I always have to wonder if she's the one who is wrong.

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  6. Oh no, you mean it's based on a true story?!

    I really liked this, and the realistic portrayal of the child and her room made the horror of the faces seem even more convincing. Brrr!

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  7. Excellent story, so well written. The whole thing was electrified with that fear and uncertainty.

    When I was a kid we had wooden walls, and the knots and marks looked like faces to my imagination. I remember lying in bed, perfectly still, trying not to look at those faces. You really captured that same fear.

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  8. brilliant story! My daughter told me recently, many years after we left the cottage, that the wallpaper over the wiring made a hand at night, and that she would lay awake terrified that the hand would reach out to her. By day it wasn't there. You captured that childhood fear and brought it into the adult world with astonishing clarity.
    Amazing. To think I have been selected to appear alongside writers like this!

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  9. I had gnomes on the end of my bed as a child, I know they were there although no one still believes me.

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  10. Ah, this is so well captured! A very recognizable fear and an equally recognizable reaction to it -- it seems most of us have some similar experiences… This rings very true to me: ”This isn’t real; it’s hysteria. I’ve watched a documentary about it before, I’m sure. How one person’s panic can take hold of another?”

    I really like the realistic style in this story -- very fine horror!

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  11. Thanks Asuqi, and everyone else for such kind comments.
    I try to keep my horror as real as possible. All my characters could be real people, with real life issues and problems. The supernatural horror is something that runs parallel to their lives. I want readers to believe what happens in my stories is something that could just as easily be happening to them.
    I use the tagline, 'real life horror, as much as you can bear', so I'm thrilled you picked up on my style.

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  12. Very creepy. I have a couple children myself and you perfectly captured the essence of little ones and a parent at bedtime. Liked this line especially.

    "For once I find myself wishing my ex-husband were here, and I was not alone in the house."

    My daughter used to tell me the people outside her window have white faces and my son was frightened of an old lady, who terrified him in his dreams.

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  13. Can't beat a good creepy tale. How often do we catch a glimpse of a shadow in the corner of our eyes...and we wonder? You've made use of the tense to create immediacy and it works very well to drag the reader into so much implied fear.

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  14. Marissa, that was spooky to say the least! I have 2 young girls and they often say things that make you stop and ask yourself if you heard them correctly.

    A very well written piece, indeed! Thank you for sharing it!

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  15. Oh, Marissa. This definitely had the wow factor. Sinister, creepy, and claustrophic. Loved it.

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  16. This is fantastic Marissa! I had goosebumps from the beginning and throughout I believed the child! Aren't children more tuned into the paranormal anyway? They don't have the same skepticism adults have and they don't just logically explain things away. Perhaps it's not all imagination! Besides, how did she change the room around?! No, something freaky is going on here, I can feel it.
    And at the risk of sounding like a complete fruitloop - I don't disbelieve in ghosts!

    Terrific writing Marissa! You played on my childhood AND my adult fears, well done.
    :0)

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  17. That's it - I am sleeping with the lights ON tonight!

    This is beautifully written - I like the way that rationality tries to explain away the unexplainable - then has to face up to the truth!
    (shudder!!!)

    So - lights ON, duvet over my head.......

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  18. Great voice and there is truth to this. Reminds me of the woodwork of my grandmothers walls. I swear I saw scary faces in them too when i was little. And on the parent's end... we know there are strange things about us that we can't explian and yet we try too, rationally. This story balances between these just so. Really enjoyed this!

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  19. fantastic and spooky. I like the imagery, and use of imagined fears.

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  20. Fabulous and sooo scary! I don't think I took a breath from beginning to end. I used to imagine smiling faces in the rosebuds in my childhood wallpaper but was terrified of a particular doll! Great tension.

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  21. Bloody hell....(Am I allowed to say that?) that was amazing. It sort of reminds me of when I was in my old room and had weird kinds of dreams, even with my light on. Wonderfully written, too. I love it!

    Hope I can sleep tonight now, though...my posters might rearrange my stuff...or tidy my room, possibly...hehe..

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  22. Marissa's story really spooked me. Fortunately my daughter has never complained of faces on the walls, but me - I see them all the time. It probably explains a lot.

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  23. The images that formed as I read this were frightening, real. Real scary, great writing Marissa

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Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.