Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Mammoth Competition - Runner-Up: Asuqi

Asuqi uses words like creeping tendrils; they penetrate your emotions then whack! she slaps you with something so unlikely, so bizarre - yet acceptable. Whenever I read her fiction I come away feeling I have learned 'the big answer', but somehow, can never recall what that is.

Asuqi is the third runner-up in the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Vol 22. competition. Her story Born This Way tore at my heart. Wrap your own up carefully, then read on...

Born This Way by Asuqi

During daytime, she walks pleasantly two steps behind. Simplifies her language and diminishes her thoughts. Behaves.

During nighttime, in her dreams, she’s in a twilight park in some old European town. Statues and fancy buildings; stone, stone, stone. She’s on a balcony, in a hotel maybe? And so far the dreams are okay. But her view is over those statues, and one of them seems closer, more important, like it’s been chosen for some reason. It stands tall with its back at her. As she watches, it moves closer, fills her view, becomes a monolith of religious proportions, and then it turns to face her. It’s as if though she’s holding a breath, one she won’t ever release, because when it turns, she sees its face is gone, replaced by a smooth rubbery surface. It moves to speak, but the surface won’t open and the statue makes a chewing movement, stretches its stone flesh in despair, and the scream she hears would have been her own if she’d been able to let go of that breath.

She wakes up and flings open the window. Takes deep, dry breaths. Tries to regain balance. Initially it works.

One day, on her way to work, a crow dives and hits her. It’s immediately stuck in her long hair. She and the bird are both thrown into full mode panic. It tears and claws, and she falls, they fall, her perfectness a mess. She lies face down, paralysed, and the crow stills, exhausted. She stays put as nights grow longer and ice creeps slowly over every available surface.

The Winter forest freezes everything, dreams too, and there is a calmness in that. Hungry little ones come to sniff and search; to taste the crow’s scraggy flesh. Its bones rest lightly on the back of her head, a styrofoam structure left to pale and weather. And she feels oddly cleansed.

It’s Spring when she returns to civilization, hungry. There is a difference now, for when she finds food she eats. No questions asked, no hesitation and she’s not going to back down.

She dreams again. When the monolith turns to face her, its features are the crow’s. She sees it’s not perfect. It’s not desirable - not the preferred result. But it is. It sees with unblinking crow eyes and when it opens its beak to speak, its roar; her roar, is magnificent.

The pretty is no more. She gains fearlessness. She says no and if necessary, she strikes. People avoid her. She’s called crazy, dangerous even, but it’s a small price to pay - the dreams are gone.


Bio: Please accept me as Asuqi. I find horror difficult to write, it's so easy to make shallow rip-offs and so hard to find an angle that communicates something truly scary. Trying to write horror scares me, but is that an angle? I´m eternally confused. Visit me for random confusions at http://asuqi.blogspot.com


  1. Poetic and somehow charming. Congrats!

  2. this had to have a place in the competition! So poetic and so dark, it conjures images that are hard to shift, the crow tangled in her hair for a start. Horror is such an abstract wide ranging word/genre, your work fits well into it, never believe anything else.

  3. Lily! I´m thrilled and honoured to be one of your runner-ups! And you say the nicest things! If I had any answers I´d give them to you =)

    Thanks, Cathy!

    Antonia! You warm my heart =)

  4. This is such an odd little piece, so rich in prose and original persepctive. I enjoyed the subtle transformation through out, sort of surreal-like, but definitely tangible in its message of coming into one's own.
    Excellent work, Asuqi!

  5. Please accept me as Asuqi--

    Do you know that you share something with Kurt Cobain? You probably don't, but I just saw it now, finally, for the first time.

    Loved this. One of your best, maybe my favorite. (that's a rash thing to say)

  6. I loved the way this (and all your work) flows so effortlessly in and out of "reality". The character you give us is compelling, and her transformation is stunning.

    Excellent writing.

  7. Some powerful imagery you created there. Very vivid, especially the statue parts. Freaked me out.

  8. Thank you everyone, for your awesome support! It means the world to me =)

  9. Trying to put a pin in the reality of this piece was as difficult as stopping the day turning to night. The sense of falling in and out of a dreamlike world was mesmerising and poetic.

    Beautifully written with a stark line of terror running throughout always threatening to break through and snap us from the dream.


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.