Saturday, 12 February 2011

May I dally in the darkness as Saturday's February Femme Fatale?

February Femmes Fatales - February 12th

The story I'm filling in with today explores a question of faith, albeit not mine. It starts with a light-heartedness that descends into darkness. I hope you'll like it.

I don't have a set belief; what is important to me comes from my own personal journey, from the experiences and entities that have touched my soul.

I certainly feel kinship with pre-Christian paganism and have had more than my fair share of connection with beings I cannot, will not attempt to describe or explain. Oh, and I don't do New Age; spirituality is about light and dark - there must be balance.

Most of all I am highly respectful of all the different beliefs throughout the world - because I truly feel we all have the right to believe in what is important to us, whether it is through free-choice or inherited values. What I will not tolerate is one culture or person that dictates, or attempts to enforce religious rules and sanctions. All continents have groups guilty of this. Were they not so extreme I would be saddened by their insecurity and ignorance.

Whoa; heavy. Let's lighten things and introduce you to Clara. She's wearing pearls for Peter.

Truth and Lies by Lily Childs

Clara closed her old eyes and slipped away. She’d been waiting so long; all the hurt and pain and years of pills were worth it for where she was going. She looked down at her new naked body - that of a twenty, not ninety year old - curves where they should be, skin pink and firm. Her corporeal self glowed in perfect spiritual health and she clasped at the golden crucifix still hanging at her throat.

Holding her head high Clara began her journey, safe in the knowledge that a lifetime of prayer and supplication would deliver her with ease into the loving embrace of The Father.


It had been a week already, Clara estimated, unless time dragged on much longer on the other side. Standing proud and tall whilst the scenery never changed must be a final test, she decided.


Unkind thoughts flared and faded, Clara slapped them away as soon as they formed:

Good job spiritual bodies don’t need food, drink or bowel evacuation.”

How can a single tunnel be so long; where’s the bloody light?”


Resigned to an eternity of twilight and silence Clara couldn’t quite believe her still-functioning senses as the interminable voyage came to a sudden halt. Sparks and flames fluttered in her periphery, widening the vista to display a stark landscape erupting with pustules of lava. Heat blasted through the air bringing with it a sickly scent; a blend of foetid mould and ancient peat.

The heart Clara no longer had beat in fury. Fear spiralled with anger through expired veins. This wasn’t what she’d been led to expect. Where were the fluffy clouds, the pearly gates, St. Peter’s friendly face? Clara stepped onto the bare earth with invisible feet and ran, searching, calling out “Why have you forsaken me ?” in her best biblical voice until exhaustion brought her to collapse.

“Clara Elizabeth Rattinger.”

The young, old woman winced at the sound of her childhood name sung in the stern tones of all the nuns that had taught her, mixed with every one of Daddy’s harsh admonishments.

“OK. What’s going on here?” Clara looked about. Gradually, with 20:20 vision uncluttered by cataracts she saw him. Or, it. A giant skeleton maybe 30 feet tall, grinning and talking and holding an even taller flag pole with a tattered pennant that fluttered in the stinking breeze. Clara stood once more and marched to the laughing ghoul, a finger wagging at his impertinence.

“Now look you here. I’ve been waiting for this for a very, very long time. I don’t intend to be fooled by some interloping demon.”

The demon roared with laughter, globules of saliva dripped, hanging perilously low from its pock-marked jaw.

“You misjudge me, little Clara. I – we – know exactly who you are.”

Clara rammed ephemeral hands into an equally transparent waist.

“Tell me who you are. Right now.”

“Oh Clara. I am The Rock! You’ll know me as Peter, or more correctly Simon Peter; others call me Pierro, Pietro, Pierre – Peder.”

Clara held her own.

“You are not St. Peter. You are a self-serving creature from Hell.”

“Is that right? And how do you know that? Who wrote your histories?”

“Why, we did.”

Peter snorted, derision puffed from the skull’s nostrils as smoke.

“Indeed, Clara. Man wrote the book. Man didn’t ever come up here to witness for himself. Man just got clever-clever and wrote his own version.”

Clara crossed her arms, not quite managing to stop the essence of her corpse from wrapping the limbs around itself in a straitjacket of tendrils.

“Now that’s enough. If you are St. Peter, then where are the gates? Answer me that.”

Blinking, the nonagenarian stepped back as the ground rent open before her. A mercurial fence rose to the sky, filling every space within Clara’s vision. Thorns and ivy wove their way between the spokes, a Sleeping Beauty barrier. In the centre a perpetual river of darkest red rose petals rippled and fell from an interminable bloom.

“Would you like me to use my key to let you in?”

Clara hesitated at the question.

“How do I know it’s not a trick? For all I know this is Hell and you’re throwing me to the Devil.”

The Peter-thing bent to Clara’s face, its expression serious.

“There is no Devil. There is no Hell – except in the mind and at the hands of your fellow-man.”

Perfume filled every open pore of Clara’s being; a damask incense. She swallowed it down, the sense of extreme bliss overwhelming. Exhausted, she decided to trust the strange angel, and hung her head.

“Alright. I believe you. I don’t necessarily trust you, but I don’t see what other choice I’ve got. Let me in.”

“Impatient now Clara? It is not for you to give the orders. You must wait.”

Peter walked through the wall of petals, and was gone.

After such a build-up Clara felt let down. She walked as far to the left of the fluid gate as she could, headed back to it then traipsed as far again to the right. There was no way in. In the distance creaking metal screamed through the air.


Clara shot back to the river of roses. It stood wide open; Peter stood to one side, a circlet of keys in his hands.

“Enter, Clara Rattinger. You are expected.”

Suddenly nervous, Clara’s resolve faltered. Behind her, the angel Peter tapped skeletal fingers against the gate. Taking a chance, Clara stepped through the entrance to Heaven.

Heaven was dark. It was hot. It stunk of urine, of vomit and shit. The door behind Clara closed with a bang, and she heard Peter’s bones shuffle to a halt beside her.

“Prepare, Clara. He is here.”

The woman dared to raise her eyes, to stare through the dark at her maker. The sight filled her with rage; this was a trick. Horns of red pointed inwards from the creature’s head, a broken crescent moon. The hoofs of tradition stamped at the end of L-shaped legs framing a cock of throbbing enormity. A swishing tail droned back and forth.

“What is this?” Clara turned on Peter who stood, skull bowed before his master.

“You told me there was no Devil, yet here he is. And where else am I but in the realms of Hell itself?”

“You are wrong Clara. Remember, only humankind has depicted its imagined perception of Heaven and Hell. I told you before. There is no Devil. There is no Hell.”

The angel backed away. Slowly a low-pitched drone filled the vast chamber, hailing a monstrous, living black shadow. Clara turned toward the swarm; it attacked her face, tearing the lids from her eyes, crawling into her mouth. The plague invaded her ears, blocked her nose. Blowfly maggots dropped to the ground around her forcing the holier-than-thou worshipper to fall to once-arthritic knees. The old woman’s tears evaporated in the raging heat as she raised her blind gaze toward the cloven redeemer.

‘They lied,’ Clara said.

She stared, unseeing - into the thousand eyes of God.

Lily Childs is a writer of dark fiction and horror. Her stories have been published in several small press anthologies including Their Dark Masters; Extreme Vampire Horror, Daily Bites of Flesh 2011 and Caught By Darkness. You can read more dark fiction and poetry here on her blog Lily Childs' Feardom, where her demons dance in tutus.


  1. That is some powerful, twisted stuff, Lily. At the core, you nail it - all the stories are written, ultimately, by man. What there is beyond this is unknown, and what we think we know is only what we have dreamed.

    ... On a lighter note, Lucifer/God's enormous throbbing cock was a nice touch.

    Great writing Lily.

  2. Not particularly religious, myself, so I am not offended by this. Neither am I cackling with glee. I almost feel... sad. Because this could be the truth, and as Chris said, at its core, you've nailed it. We wrote the stories. We did. And every one of us is at least a little bit insane.

    The world has ever been a harsh place to exist, but here we are. For me, it is primarily the outlet of the written word that gives me joy, and so there is some in this. For I admire the writing, and the way it almost reads as a tale from ancient times. And such a timely choice, as well.

  3. As a self proclaimed none believer in anything I have ever read or been told about the stories of God this is as close to religion as I have come. Brilliant stuff and so horribly convincing in the writing that it could indeed be the universal truth.

    I hope not though because I'm a cheeky atheist who wants to live a life without faith but be received with a slap on the back into a fluffy Heaven when I die lol.

    Powerful and beautiful words that wove like the thorns and ivy through the fence spokes of the Sleeping Beauty barrier. What great imagery, that one really got me.

  4. Chris, Rebecca, Tony - thank you so much for your insightful comments.

    I do hope no-one does feel offended by Clara's story. It is a work of fiction, after all - as far as I'm aware.

  5. This is delicious, dark writing. Like you, I have broad beliefs stemming from my own experiences. I think it's good to remember that man wrote the books and that it isn't up to the clergy to tell people what is up there or down there.

    This piece is thought provoking and reaches wonderful depths and your writing is glorious.

  6. great piece, Lily, what it does in many respects, is encapsulate some people's living nightmare of life after death. Those of us who have seen and experienced the other side know different but for those who remain blinkered, yes, this is the sort of nightmare scenario they inflict on themselves. It is brilliantly conceived and written.

  7. This is alarming to me, because I think it really is all what we make of it and then, at the end, what if you can't make it what you want it to be?

    Wonderful tone, mood, and pacing in this, Lily - and so many dark delights, like this "In the centre a perpetual river of darkest red rose petals rippled and fell from an interminable bloom."

    Damn good penning!

  8. Well, I do have 'beliefs', but I'm not offended by this, Lily, because after all, you yourself said it was fiction.

    Interesting imagery you create - I liked particularly Clara's indignation at her expectations being so seriously out of kilter!

  9. I don't believe in religion, but as a writer I do believe in writing about it. As always, you present a dark undertone with amazing imagery borne from some lovely narrative. This is a great exploration of faith and belief.

  10. I've come here several times to read this and have been interrupted by phone calls and such every time, finally I get to read it! This is delicious, dark, and thoughtful. At the end of the day, it comes down to what we believe, what's at the core, and for Clara.. just... yikes. I love the mythological and religious underlying elements that are always present in your stories. It doesn't matter whether one agrees or not. Because they are the truth in one form or shape. Wonderful, Lily.

  11. Well, I don't believe in religion at all. But woah...Just amazing...

  12. I'm offended......yeah right!!

    That was a feast of great writing and superb imagery, Lily! You do do dark horror so well!

    I felt a bit sorry for the Devil/God, having to live a horrible existence with such a tiny cock!!


  13. How terrifying! If the afterlife is a continuation of the imagination run riot then this could be a possibility for some... best think of something else, quick! As usual, Lily, you manage to find the thing that scares us and take it to the extreme - well done!

  14. Shocking! After all I was taught at Sunday School!

    Fiction though it may be, it is powerfully written. Hope turns to despair for Clara, now the rest of us aren't so comfortable. Well done!

  15. Ah, well, I can see this happen...

    I get a strong fatalistic feeling here, like mankind being predestined to walk into its own dark trap over and over again. Great philosophical darkness!

    The end is beautiful! "She stared, unseeing - into the thousand eyes of God."

  16. This make me very glad to have no pre-conceived notions of an afterlife. It would be horribly shocking to prepare yourself for "heaven" only to find yourself in the worst imaginable place.

    A thought provoking piece, Lily.


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.