Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Death For Art’s Sake by Dorothy Davies - February Femmes Fatales

And so we draw to an end.

February Femmes Fatales 2012 has been superb. Please give a huge virtual round of applause to the talented contributors, for they all deserve it. Should you wish to revisit, or if you've missed out due to having been abducted by aliens, or some such disaster you can find all the entries for this, and 2011's FFF on the permanent February Femmes Fatales page here on The Feardom.

The writer closing the celebration has been prolific this season. Thank you for enjoying her work - it has been deliciously dark to the extreme. Dorothy Davies's fiction finale is the perfect closure.

I give you...


DEATH FOR ART'S SAKE

I had been trying for an age to get an interview with Laurent Scopes, the brilliant artist whose stunning abstracts were setting the art world on fire. So distinctively different, such in-depth use of the darkest of reds, browns and blacks – never any other colours - it had all of us determined to find out how he did it, what was the secret of his success. I drove him mad with emails, calls and letters, asking for an appointment, a short time, a few words. My editor said there would be a bonus for me if I got there, added to which words with one of the brightest stars in the art world would do my reputation the world of good.

And finally he gave way to my persistence. I rang the doorbell with anticipation and excitement coursing through me.

Laurent opened the door wearing faded blue jeans and ragged tee-shirt splashed with some of the reds and browns he uses. He had a big smile and what seemed like a genuine invitation to go in, not just the polite one most artists use when their sacred inner sanctum – their studio - is invaded by us hacks. Quite why I expected a floppy hat, large silly bow and elaborate clothes I have no idea, he was after all a modern painter. Perceptions linger, however, in the most cynical of minds. Yet I should have known better, I’d interviewed a lot of artists over the years.

“Come in!” He was full of bonhomie and welcome. “Come straight through to the studio; you’re just in time. A new painting is in progress!”

How, I thought, you’ve opened the door, you’re guiding me down endless corridors, or so it seems, and here I am in –

A huge white space splattered in red and brown and black. An odd smell met me, one I could not quite place. Incense burners set around the room were masking it to some degree. Then I saw what Laurent was referring to.

A large canvas was lying on the floor under a tarpaulin which he had suspended from the rafters. There were holes slashed in the tarp, from which came splashes of the red/brown colour, Laurent’s trademark. The whole thing was shivering, that was the only way to describe it, and as it shivered more paint fell on the canvas. As I stood watching a masterpiece being created, the shivering stopped and the tarpaulin became still. A final drop fell in the very centre of the canvas, a full stop almost.

Laurent reached down for it and stood it up against the wall, staring at his work. We were silent for a moment. The wild splashes, for that is what they were, seemed to beckon you into the maelstrom of paint, marked with anguish and suffering. Why I felt that I had no idea. I didn’t normally see anything worth commenting on in abstracts but this one drew me strongly and I could see why he had become such a sensation.

“Here we go,” he said eventually. I wondered if he had been turning over the title in his mind, for he suddenly breathed: “This is called Death For Art’s Sake.” He smiled and tugged my arm. “Come, it’s going to be your turn to create a masterpiece.”

“I – I don’t…”

“You will.”

I was spun round and my hands secured behind me with plastic ties. I spluttered and tried to fight but it was impossible without hands. All I did was unbalance myself and end up on the floor which made it easier for him to secure my ankles as well.

From my position, flat on my back, I could look up at the tarpaulin. Something was bothering me a good deal more than the ties, which might have been some kind of surreal S&M game he was playing, for all I knew. But being thrown into the corner of the room was surely not part of a game.

My head slammed against the wall and almost knocked me out, but I had to try and get through to him.

“Laurent…” I wanted to protest, I wanted to argue; I wanted to know what the hell all this was about.

He turned to me with a smile that chilled me to my backbone.

“None of you understand, do you? True art demands sacrifice! My time, my genius, your sacrifice!”

As he spoke he tugged the corner of the tarpaulin. It tipped and a body fell out, a naked body, its wrists and ankles secured with plastic ties and a huge amount of duct tape over its mouth. The body of a young fit man. With slash marks all over it.

And then, in a moment of stunning clarity, I knew what the smell was.

Blood.

Laurent smiled again, that same chilling smile.

“You see how genius is created? I bind them, I slash them; I let them toss and turn in the tarpaulin, trying to escape. Their blood pours out, it cascades here and there, it splashes, it marks. No two canvasses are ever the same. They are young, they are fit, they fight the dying. As they fight the blood pours. As they die, the blood stops dripping and the painting is done. Oh, for your article, not that you will live to write it, of course, I never do more than one canvas a week. That means you have seven days in which to contemplate your major contribution to the art world. That gives me time to dispose of this useless lump of flesh out in the marshes and clean the place up before you become the star turn. For you, there will be a special canvas, for you are older than my other subjects and will not toss and turn so much. It will be – interesting to see what result I get.”

He was utterly cold, utterly heartless. He was killing for the sake of a canvas and a reputation. It occurred to me that those two things might, for him, be enough justification. I could not argue. I was in no fit state to argue.

He left me in the corner, almost seeing stars, my head aching from the bump, my mind aching from what I had just seen, what I had just been told. What I had been condemned to.

Death for Art’s Sake.

It would have made a good title for an article.

But as he said, I would not live to write it.

I wondered what he would call the masterpiece that is me.

I had to do something to occupy the next seven days.

_________ The End _________


Bio: Dorothy Davies is a horror writer, editor and medium who lives on the Isle of Wight, just off the south coast of England.

She is an editor for Static Movement and Red Skies Publishing, as well as working at being an editor in her ‘day’ job.

She also writes extensively and is a full member of the Fictioneers.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Second Chance Sara by Marietta Miles - February Femmes Fatales

Marietta Miles is the newest guest to The Feardom, and to February Femmes Fatales. She is a beguiling mystery, playing with words that leave you seeking more - and we welcome her most sincerely.

I urge you to nip over to Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers after you read Second Chance Sara. You'll find Marietta's charmingly chilling tale Opal waiting patiently for you. This was my first encounter with Marietta's writing and I am so glad she subsequently offered to write a piece for FFF.

Mesdames - and those messieurs that slide through the Feardom's corridors - please welcome, and enjoy Marietta Miles's...

SECOND CHANCE SARA

In the waking heat of a North Carolina summer boarders at Sumter’s Second Chance Camp continued their heavy sleep. All boarders save Sara Jane. She pulled a buggy filled with rocks, rope and gardening tools to the cottage where she taught Biology. The buggy was heavy but Sara Jane was a deceptively powerful girl.

Often she would go unnoticed in the camp. She was different from those around her. She was a dandelion surrounded by roses. Sara Jane had the loveliest honey colored hair that would dance when the wind was right. Her father, dead from the war, had given her his piercing blue eyes. Her mother, a healthy mix of German and Italian passed on a round, solid body. Only decades and miles separated her from being considered a beauty.

Today, 1975, she was laughed at and gifted with malicious names. As a teen she held the pain of all the jeers deep inside. She would pray just to be forgotten. However, as she grew older she came to a lovely understanding. Her body, for all the extra pounds, was as strong as she needed it to be. She was no bending flower and Sara Jane was as strong as a man. From this realization her wicked visions grew.

The children she taught were sent to the camp by bored, bothered but well to-do parents who were concerned by their rebel rousing offspring. What these parents knew of their children could fill a thimble. What the children were capable of could choke a horse. Most of the camp teachers were college kids earning extra cash and hoping to hook up for the summer with either teacher or rich kid. Again Sara Jane was barely noticed.

On the other side of camp John Karl, of the Karl Lumber family finished his morning smoke. John was here because he never took no for an answer. His father, Big John Karl, told the seventeen year old that "NO" was for losers.

"You take no and you make it a yes boy." His father would yell. "I don't want a girl for a son." Senior would whoop it up while spilling his bourbon and coke.

Problem was John Karl ignored pleas from the wrong girl. For years he plied his aggressive tactics on girls beneath his class. John Karl's ego grew as he evolved into a desperately handsome young man. He forced his wants on the daughter of a well-off business partner to his Dad. Soon after this John Karl found himself at Second Chance Camp.

He passed the cabin he shared with five other senior boys. There had been a sixth boy. John Karl had reason to believe the boy was of a more delicate nature than most. After their second night at camp the boy was sent home with a black eye, bloody nose and a healthy fear of honesty. Now John Karl ran to the Biology cabin. He had been asked to help their counselor set up for the days lessons. He grinned at his suspicions. He believed the sad, little girl pined for him. He would start his morning feeling like a man.

Sara Jane did think of John Karl quite often. Yet it was in a manner he would find surprising. She wanted to be strong like John. It would be a dream to know your words were heard, your concerns were attended to or simply, that you mattered. Sara Jane wanted to be John Karl. The drudgery of being a plain girl was not for her. Her desire to change became a compulsion and now she had a date with John Karl.

He entered the cabin and closed the door behind him. John Karl wanted to make this girl Sara Jane cry for him. His eyes turned predatory. She was heavy, and her skin was pale but girls were all the same down below. His mind turned to hunting. She stood in front of her implement heavy desk and pointed out the window towards her small garden behind the cabin. She had stacked the rocks from her buggy next to a hole.

"We'll go to the garden first." Her small voice was lower than a whisper.

"Sounds fine." John Karl was smug.

"I love to get my hands dirty." Her voice grew stronger.

_________ The End _________

Bio: Marietta Miles lives in a slow southern town with her young family. She writes everyday and hopes to grow better with each word. When given free moments she loves to read Kate Chopin, Shirley Jackson, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Straub, Orson Scott Card and more.


Monday, 27 February 2012

The Hunger by A J Humpage - February Femmes Fatales

February Femmes Fatales readers have been treated to AJ Humpage's unique fiction throughout this and last year's showcase. The feedback you have given in response to her work just proves how impressive we all think she is, and how desperate we are to see her novels on the shelves of our actual as well as virtual bookshops.

But fiction isn't the end. I have had the pleasure of regularly reading AJ's poetry for several years now and it is as astonishing and disturbing as the stories that fall from her fingers.

The Hunger will draw you in, and expose the truth. I hope you're ready...

THE HUNGER

Fetid breath, she makes
Her noxious broth, like trailing threads
Raspy fingers on your flesh
A spider’s touch
Dissolute stench
Melting fast beneath the sun.

Cold expression, she spills
Her sunken eyes, like shrivelled fruit
Deathly glare to lure your gaze
A stony wince
Mouth agape
Smiling beneath a tarnished glaze.

Meaty souvenirs, she gives
Her plump grey carcass, like swollen clouds
Food for thought on your lips
A gamey hint
Unsweetened gristle
Filling bellies with her meat.

Putrid ground, she soils
Her leftovers, like a crown of bones
Her last moments, in your mind
A weary voice
Lost forever
Dissolving the memory of Buchenwald.

______________________________


Bio: A J Humpage has short stories and poetry published in anthologies like 6 Sentences, Pill Hill Press, Static Movement and many e-zines, and has completed her second novel.

She offers writing advice at http://allwritefictionadvice.blogspot.com.

Her work can be found at http://ajhumpage.blogspot.com and you can find her on Twitter: AJHumpage

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Now I Can See You by Dorothy Davies - February Femmes Fatales

An Interjection: I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I didn't show anyone, so afraid of ridicule was I - but I couldn't help but splatter those words out onto paper and later, screen.

When I was at Junior School I won the annual writing contest one year but my English teacher sneered at me as she handed out my prize in front of the entire school, announcing that - if it had only been down to her choice - my best friend would have won. My best friend's family, unlike mine was very wealthy and influential. Funny that. Sadly, both my best friend and I were mortified. As for my teacher, the bitch went on to disaffect other students and it took many years for me to regain any confidence. I'm catching up now - in droves.

The reason for this pre-amble is that Dorothy Davies has been an incredibly supportive influence in my 'rebirth'. (How dramatic! Please don't think I'm that far up my own backside). Dorothy's writing, whether the wickedly dark fiction and horror you have read here or elsewhere, or her fabulously well-researched historical novels - is extraordinary.

I have no more introduction to make, than a simple, but very profound thanks to Dorothy Davies for all her support, encouragement and bloody-compelling fiction.

Applause...

NOW I CAN SEE YOU

I wondered what sort of sight I was as I stood on his doorstep, waiting for him to open the door. Pretty horrific, I should think, with empty eye sockets weeping blood which trickled down my face and onto my clothes. I had one arm wrapped in duct tape around the arm of the chair which I had broken off in my escape efforts. He would not be pleased to see me, but he had something I wanted.

I heard the door open and the gasp of horror. I pushed at his unresisting chest and he backed into the hall. I sensed where we were going, pushed a bit more and he fell into the dining room, scrabbled to his feet and found a chair. Saved me the job.

I had duct tape in my pocket and, taking advantage of his shock, managed to tape him to his chair, only I did a better job of it than he had on me.

“Now,” I said, through teeth that were bound to be bloodstained – it had been hard biting through the tape – “let’s see how you like it!”

“I...”

“You what? Thought I would die, Mr. Optic, like the others? No such luck. You picked the wrong person this time. Where are my eyes?”

“Eyes ...”

“Those things you scooped from my head with my own spoon, remember? I want them back.”

“They’re...”

“They’re what? Eaten? Played with? Thrown to the cat? What?”

“In a jar of formaldehyde.”

“Oh. Right. Useless then.”

I could smell his fear, along with everything else. I must have been more horrific in appearance than I realised. He had let go of everything. And I do mean everything.

“Then you owe me some eyes, Mr. Optic.”

“Don’t call me that!”

“Why? That’s what the papers call you, isn’t it? You collect eyes, right?”

“Well...”

“You probably have some boring suburban name which matters not right now. I want some eyes. I’ll settle for yours instead.”

“No, please, I mean, let me...oh God, who are you? What are you?”

“Questions you should have asked before you tied me up and scooped out my eyes, Mr. Optic. Too late now.”

I had the spoon in my pocket, the one he used.

His screams were satisfying.

His eyes fit my sockets.

I stood back and watched the blood pouring down his face, just as it had mine, a few hours earlier. The difference was, I knew he would die.

I was about to walk out on him and his darkness forever, but paused to enjoy the moment a little longer.

“Thank you, Mr Optic. Now I can see you. I quite like what I see, too. That was for me and all the other women you mutilated and left to die. This should be a reminder to all you men who like to play murderous games... don’t mess with a zombie.”

_________ The End _________


Bio: Dorothy Davies is a writer, editor and medium who lives on the haunted Isle of Wight, a small island off the south coast of England. This may have something to do with the very strange stories she writes...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Ruins by Susan May James - February Femmes Fatales

Last year, Susan May James opened the very first February Femmes Fatales showcase with the chilling Shadows. How wonderful that she has agreed to grace The Feardom's pages once again with a new tale, Ruins.

Susan has a wistful way with words; a delicate beauty that dabbles in cruelty. She also describes the most inviting settings for her fictional treats - who wouldn't want to tread Abigail's path in Susan May James's new, atmospheric thriller...

RUINS

You walk barefoot towards the castle ruins; heather brushes your ankles and your feet press a trail into the early morning dew. Bright sunlight tinges the mossy landscape and you pause, glancing back at the tent before changing course to move along the rocks that line the edge of the sea.

You think you are alone.

Standing straight, you stare out across the waves, your long blonde hair and white nightdress billow in the wind. For a moment you stretch out your arms and tilt back your head, like the winged angel you once purchased for our Christmas tree. When you look up, worry creases your fine features. Wrapping your arms around your waist, you bend forward, lips parting.

‘Abigail,’ I whisper as my grip tightens on the binoculars and I brace against the castle wall. Your voice, calling his name, makes me shiver and I almost feel a flash of regret. But then I remember yesterday; the two of you sitting on the rocks, laughing, pointing, drinking wine, no-doubt hoping to spy a seal or a dolphin.

‘Maybe an orca,’ I smirk.

You run back towards the tent, although you know he’s not there. Predictable, you then make your way to the car, still calling his name, still hoping.

I smile at the look on your face when you find it empty.

Finally, you turn back towards the castle—logic tells you that he probably woke up early and went for a hike around the ruins—and you chastise yourself; you should have checked there first.

Then, all of a sudden, you stop short.

I know you’ve seen it, the present I left you. Pressing the binoculars against my eyes, I watch with excitement as you double over. It takes a few minutes before you stop retching. In a panic you run back to the car, but it’s locked; the keys are in my pocket. Again, I smile.

Dropping the binoculars, I reach for my rifle.

_________ The End _________

Bio: Susan May James is a Canadian born writer living in London. She writes short fiction and is currently juggling a number of projects. Her passions include travel, photography, and history. Susan can usually be found scribbling and scattering on her blog: http://scribble-scatter.blogspot.com/

Friday, 24 February 2012

Lily's Friday Prediction

Thank you for understanding that I was unable to comment on entries this week (see my final comment last night if you missed it). You're a wonderful, talented group and I am always so proud that this growing community takes the time to not only enter the weekly Prediction challenge but to read, give feedback and support to each other.

Winner of Last Week's Prediction Challenge

Despite not being able to comment, I did read everyone's entries and my, were they varied with a particularly grizzly feel. Nothing wrong with that!

My winner this week is S. K. Adams with Whips .N.Chains. The first of many tales of revenge, but that final line - "...what was that damned safe word?" has chilled me all week. Consistently good writing over the weeks, it's always a wicked pleasure to read Shaun's short snaps of horror. Congratulations Shaun!

I have two runners-up - and they are both new to the Prediction!

Phantasmogoric's untitled entry was 'riddled' with deliciously disturbing description and I loved the gore, detritus and deity invoked. Perfect.

Tina's work-a-day tale Riddle shows promise with a full-scale novel-bound murderer. I really enjoy stories where reality becomes warped by terrifying events, and this is a great example of that.

Well done Phantasmogoric and Tina. More please!

Words for 24 February 2012

Quick fingers, do your walking...

  • Mandarin
  • Assemble
  • Spume
Blimey - toughies there. But I know you'll rise to the challenge.

Rules

The rules are: 100 words max flash fiction or poetry using all of the words above. Please add your entries in the Comments box below. You have until 9pm UK time on Thursday 1st March 2012 to enter.

The winner will be announced on Friday 2nd March. If you can, please tweet about your entry, using the #fridayflash hashtag, and blog if you feel like it. Do give feedback to your fellow Predictioneers - we all appreciate it.

I learned a lesson this week, that I thought I already knew: never judge a book by its cover. Can you trick me with the words from your book...?
___________________________________

These Cold Bones by Anna Harris - February Femmes Fatales

The fiction that has been glittering in The Feardom's halls so far this month has impressed and astounded. Every tale hangs in a gilded frame on my red walls, suspended by black ribbon - the words ebbing in and out sight, of consciousness, of belief.

And now, something different is padding its soft feet across my Persian rugs to take its place on centre stage. A poem. A beautiful and disturbing poem that twists and turns.

These Cold Bones is written by our very first Femme Fatale in the 2012 showcase, Anna Harris. With these deft and chilling words Anna proves her versatility as author and poet. Please enjoy...

THESE COLD BONES

I'm cold to my coreless core
wearing skinless bones
the very ones
with which I hugged you
- the ones that stifled moans

Cosseted you,
pronounced you mine
when I was warm
and when I warmed you, too
- when we were fine

I used to radiate
some said, with love of life
a life of love
the love of you
- the perfect wife

Arsenic, a slab of marble
and cold hard clay
divides our bond
six feet apart
- by night, by day

Me down, you up
too far to touch
each alone
in solitary chill
- no fleshy warmth to clutch

Your poison seeped
in through my mouth, my skin
my blood, this casket
and now it feeds the earth
- that I’m encased within

You’re frozen to your spineless soul
a foreign chill to mine; worlds apart
But I’ll feast, take my revenge
when you take sleep
- my succour, your sucking callous heart

____________________________________

Bio: The day cloning is as common as the garden variety cold, Anna Harris will abscond to a deserted tropical island with nothing but palm trees, her laptop and a vat of chocolate for company. She’ll let her team of replacement Annas stay home in Australia chasing their tails.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Under a Veil of Red by AJ Humpage - February Femmes Fatales

Coming towards the end of AJ Humpage's reign of Femme Fatale terror, Under a Veil of Red will speed through your soul faster than you can run.

Without spoiling anything I absolutely love this tale of times, of despair and bigotry because - you know what? - it makes me remember.

AJ's work consistently blows me away. It can only be a matter of time. While we wait for her to be snapped up let's enjoy...

UNDER A VEIL OF RED

The rain came down so hard it stung her skin, flooded her vision.

Thick mud crawled up her aching calves as she ran through the mire. The darkness made it worse; she could barely see where she was heading. But she had to keep running, had to.

Voices behind her slewed through the storm, like echoes carried on raindrops.

They were getting closer, inching into her frayed senses minute by minute and igniting a fear so intense that it burned and raged in her chest. She had never known such disparate terror – the darkness and the cold and the braying horde seemed so far away from the ordinary life she knew, the only life she knew.

But now her legs were tired, solid, becoming heavy. Breath stalled in her clogged lungs. Every cell in her body had exhausted every ounce of energy, yet she somehow pushed through the pain that flooded her core and she forced herself forward through thicket and trees and dark recesses.

Thick branches scuffed her face and arms and she slumped – a momentary respite.

Voices...closer now.

Her skin tingled from the cold, made her shiver. She grabbed onto a branch, got to her feet and half jogged, half stumbled into the encroaching darkness. She had been running for almost an hour, and no matter how much her mind willed it, her body couldn’t cope with the lactic acid filling her muscles with fiery spite and again she dropped to her knees, watery fingers pulling her deeper into the muddy mire.

Thoughts tumbled around her head, then melted the moment the light grazed her face.

She peered up through the squall, cold breath hanging in the air.

Somewhere up ahead, more lights scattered through the branches.

Surrounded.

‘There she is!’

Her stomach bunched, then sank. She could run no more. The adrenaline in her veins turned to an icy flow.

They seemed to approach from all directions, moving in on her like ghoulish, hungry spectres, the light from their torches blinding her with flashes of white.

She held up her arm to shield her face, blinked against the flare.

The sound of the rain song against the leaves filled the void, all that she could hear from her rain soaked pit.

The men surrounded her, remained still. The glare from their torches shielded their granite faces from her.

The sound of movement made her turn and look up. A shape whose face she could not see and who sheltered beneath a wide brimmed hat, stared down at her.

His voice parted the darkness. ‘You can’t escape us.’

‘I’m innocent,’ she gasped. ‘I’ve done nothing wrong, I swear on my life.’

The figure leaned forward. ‘What about the Bible? Do you swear on the Bible?’

The rain masked her tears. ‘No, I...I don’t believe in God.’

‘Then you are a witch,’ he said, flat.

‘I’m not a witch! I’m just an ordinary wife and mother, I--’

‘You are the Devil’s consort,’ he cut in, blunt. ‘There is no place in this society for those who conduct maleficium.’

She took in a deep breath. ‘What are you talking about? I don’t know what that means.’

He stared at the wretch kneeling in the muddy pool, the light glinting from the rain-dappled surface, stared at her soiled face, her drenched, matted hair and torn clothes.

Disdain dribbled into empty spaces and filled the atmosphere with a stilted sense of detestation.

‘Godlessness is a crime. That you are most certainly guilty.’ His eyes lacked emotion. ‘Kill her.’

‘No! Please! I’ve done nothing wrong. Please...’

The first strike dug into her shoulder blades, but rather than pain, she felt a strange dullness, as though being numbed. The second one struck her across the side of her skull, the impact strong enough to throw her into the mud.

Cold dirty water sluiced down her throat, made her retch.

Any hint of pain seemed lost to jagged senses, until the slice of something sharp across her back brought her mind into sharp focus, then another slice and another, and she rolled in the mud, but saw that her legs had not moved, and then she saw the men hacking at her limbs in a strange, silent frenzy, their movements shuttered by the light.

She screamed then, but not from the pain.

Even through the relentless drone of the rain, she heard their swords whipping through the air, over and over, and then one hard slice severed half her hand from the wrist, spattering her contorted face with thick droplets and saturating her vision with a warm scarlet hue.

She fell back into the mud, felt the rainfall on her face, soft against her skin, almost soothing her, and she drowned beneath a veil of red.


* * * 


He walked back through the woodland towards a group of men waiting by a main road.

A tall, slender figure gestured from beneath an umbrella. ‘A job well done, Mr. Treese.’

‘Thank you, sir.’

‘One less witch to threaten the laws of our land. Did she confess?’

‘Yes sir, she admitted to her godlessness.’

‘A crime against humanity if there ever was one,’ Edward Van de Gaard muttered. ‘But a crime nonetheless.’

Treese smiled; guile slithered beneath his sallow skin. ‘She isn’t the last one by any measure.’

Van de Gaard walked towards a car parked nearby. From across the river, the beguiling lights from New York City pulsed through the darkness. ‘I don’t doubt it, Mr. Treese.’

‘She has a child,’ Treese said. ‘And a husband.’

Van de Gaard turned, faced Treese. ‘I have every faith you’ll exterminate every last one of them. There will be no more ungodly heathens left to threaten our way of life. You’ll see to it, won’t you, Mr. Treese?’

Treese’s eyes blackened to glistening shards of coal. He smiled without humour. Rain trickled down his face, washed away the blood. Her blood. ‘Of course, Senator. Every last one...’

_________ The End _________

Bio: A J Humpage has short stories and poetry published in anthologies like 6 Sentences, Pill Hill Press, Static Movement and many e-zines, and has completed her second novel.

She offers writing advice at http://allwritefictionadvice.blogspot.com.

Her work can be found at http://ajhumpage.blogspot.com and you can find her on Twitter: AJHumpage


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Easy Prey by Laurita Miller - February Femmes Fatales

Short, sharp and shocking Laurita Miller's second February Femmes Fatales tale may be a quick read but it packs a pretty punch.

It's one of the things I really like about Laurita's writing; she can be quite economical with words but she uses them in such a wise way. As I'm sure many Predictionees will agree, getting a complete tale or rounded vignette into a hundred or two words is quite a skill.

Travel into the dark alleyway of Laurita's world...

EASY PREY

Shoved violently against the wall, hairy forearm across the back of my neck, he was on me before I could react. His breath came in hot bursts against my cheek, ugly words carried on foul air, begging for a reaction.

He got one.

Within seconds he was on his back, my size five boot pushed under his chin and held there. I watched the light in his eyes fade, fade, flicker, and go out.

I took a deep, shaking breath and savoured the rush of adrenaline that surged through my body. A delicious high.

I smiled and wiped the blood from my swollen lip. There’s always one that can’t resist the lure of a lone female at night.

Sucker.

_________ The End _________

Bio: Laurita Miller lives on a rock and sometimes comes out of her basement for coffee. Her work is scattered all over the web, like flies. She blogs here – www.ringkeeper.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sliver by A J Humpage - February Femmes Fatales

AJ Humpage's character Hackett came to wicked, wicked life here at The Feardom. Festering in AJ's mind, this monster - for he can barely be considered a man - slips in and out of The Prediction chambers and has started venturing further. A terrifying thought indeed.

Hackett is the shining dark star of Sliver. Enter his world - you'll never forget it.

Join me in trying to convince AJ to take this beast into a full novel of his own.

SLIVER

A sliver of skin.

Sliced delicately, thinly, it had started to curl. Soon it would crumble and the only thing left of her would be gone. The only organic thing left of her.

Light reflected from Hackett’s grey eyes. His mind drifted from the noise of his exhibition.

He’d burrowed beneath her conscience like a maggot, manipulated her whims and thoughts with voracious audacity and plied her with meaningless trinkets. He’d spent months moulding her, priming her. The more she trusted him; the more the veil of promised love trapped her beneath his sticky blanket of persuasion.

‘I saved your messages on my phone,’ she gushed, the day he picked her up. ‘Don’t worry; no one knows it’s you. My parents think I’m staying with friends. Daddy would be furious if he found out.’

Daddy was a highflying financier in the city. Rich sonofabitch.

Hackett chose his girls for their simple beauty, those who would become works of art. She was delicately boned, soft. Pliant.

He took pride in his petty deceptions, turning them into something exquisite.

He showed her around his country house, led her to his workshop.

She noticed his collection of instruments. A famous sculptor by trade. Enfant terrible.

He fingered the knives. ‘You’d be perfect to carve.’

A master’s muse and model, she wasn’t afraid to show off her pert little body. ‘Yes. That would be amazing because Daddy collects art.’

Petty deceptions. Like tinselled snowflakes descending through a frosty dusk, finite and cold to the touch. He wondered if she could see the satanic shadows squatting in his expression, the hint of a blackened, ghoulish imp impatiently salivating.

A smile slithered across his lips. Deceitful. Sedulous.

‘Carve me, make it beautiful,’ she whispered.

And he did.

But not how she imagined.

That evening - the perfect time for creativity and secrecy - Hackett lulled her to the workshop with the pretence of sublime creativity. The first punch stunned her. The second one blotted out her consciousness and made it easier for him to handle her.

She was ready to carve.

She awoke to a dull grey cloud which stained her expression with dreadful sickness. She lay gagged and strapped to his sculpting table, naked and vulnerable, like a cold joint of beef.

The throb of her heartbeat crawled beneath her skin, stuttered with abject terror every time he moved. Perspiration oozed across her skin from swollen pores, darkening like a stain.

He placed his blade against the meaty flesh at the top of her thigh, forced the knife towards her knee, scraping out a long thread of flesh, like an ice cream scoop.

She jolted. Terror engorged veins stiffened in her neck, eyes shot wide. Hands contracted wildly as she strained against the straps. Fear bristled across the workshop, like chains scraping across a concrete floor. It clung to the cold walls, reluctant to fade.

Blood spilled down her trembling thigh. He smiled at how dark and rich her juice was.

He dug another part of her leg, lifted muscle and skin, laid the pieces on the table next to him - moist, human spaghetti, gleaming beneath the light.

Her body stuttered. Tears gilded her pain with terror, skin sickened to a strange glaucous hue - made worse by the strip lights which sucked the colour from her flesh.

Hackett then reached for the dermatome to harvest her skin.

The shock of his onslaught spread through her body like a thick, malignant shadow, overloading her nervous system. A trickling sound diverted Hackett’s attention. He saw pale yellow liquid ooze from between her legs and dribble down the table leg.

They did that sometimes when the fear became too much, nerves shut down and they lost control of their bodily functions.

An hour later, he moved to her neck.

But even when he sliced into her, she remained conscious, fraught. She watched every moment, soaked by a grotesque, bilious-tinged horror. The workshop quickly became odorous with approaching death - her misery stained the air, roused his senses. Her bowels had opened, spreading like a stain across the table, spattering onto the floor.

Hackett ignored the stench and pushed the knife through the thick sinew and fibrous neck ligaments. It took a while, sawing through her delicate neck bones. She gave one final blink before the last slice detached her head from her shoulders and dropped to the floor. A wide crimson arc shot from the stump and spattered the wall.

Her eyes flickered, skin twitched.

He carved her.

The noise of Hackett’s assembled guests broke his thoughts. His memory of her vanished.

A large crowd had gathered around the exhibit; art dealers, critics, buyers, the press...Hackett loved the attention. Craved it.

He moved around the sculpture – a decapitated human, feminine in shape, reclining, stripped of flesh and holding her severed head as though clutching a purse.

Martin Burroughs – Hackett’s most favoured client - gazed at its brassy sheen. ‘It’s fascinating, macabre, but that is your signature style, Hackett.’

Hackett’s eyes shifted. Most of his sculptures resided in many of Burroughs’ various offices and homes. Hackett leaned in, lest the press should hear. ‘I read about your daughter in the paper...how terrible...’

Melanie Burroughs had run away from home.

‘Seven months and still no word. She’s always been rebellious. It’s not a pleasant place out there.’

Hackett’s lips twisted. ‘No, it’s not. Kids...they think they’re so grown up.’

Burroughs peered at Hackett. ‘She’s barely fifteen years old, she’s my little girl.’

Hackett’s eyes shuttered. He touched the sculpture. ‘Well, I’m sure she’s not too far away...’

Burroughs shook his head. ‘Anything could have happened to her.’

Anything indeed.

Petty deceptions filtered through Hackett’s mind. He glanced at the sculpture, the way 14-year-old Melanie Burroughs held her severed head as she lay on a bed of her own flesh, bits he’d so lovingly carved. He lifted the little plastic container, stared at the sliver of skin inside.

Smiled.

All that was left of daddy’s rebellious little girl.

_________ The End _________


Bio: A J Humpage has short stories and poetry published in anthologies like 6 Sentences, Pill Hill Press, Static Movement and many e-zines, and has completed her second novel.

She offers writing advice at http://allwritefictionadvice.blogspot.com.

Her work can be found at http://ajhumpage.blogspot.com and you can find her on Twitter: AJHumpage


Monday, 20 February 2012

Pustula Peculiar by Lily Childs - February Femmes Fatales

Pustula Peculiar began life as a 100-word piece of flash fiction here on the weekly Prediction Challenge. I expanded it into an even more revolting tale for Daily Bites of Flesh 2011.

It's horrible, it's disturbing - and if you are the slightest bit sensitive and/or are tucking into your breakfast/lunch/supper then look away now. Zombies will do that, and this is a descent into their world.

As such, this comes with a freakin' huge WARNING...

PUSTULAR PECULIAR

It was all she could do not to swallow as they poured New Orleans’ finest Absinthe into her mouth. Labella convulsed as the fire water cauterized her gums. Ginger laughed. The pinks of his albino eyes prismed in the flickering light of swamp torches. He bent across Labella’s face and licked the fluorescent green liquid from her chin.

“Pretty, mmmnn.”

His friends grinned, treading awkwardly from foot to foot. Behind them, swaying to the rhythm of frantic drums the crowd moved as one, hypnotised by the beat, empty stares going nowhere. Ginger’s jaw tightened; his swagger less sure. Labella caught the drunken whiff of fear.

“As long as the drums play, mes jolis garçons, you are safe.”

Ginger limped sideways to reach for another bottle. Taking a swig he gazed at the dancing dead.

“More,” the woman called from her shackles. “I need more”.

She widened her mouth to accept the Absinthe. The excess ran in rivulets down her neck raising the skin in blistering welts. Labella took the full mouthful into her throat in a single, rasping gulp.

The men looked on. No more smiles, just pant-pissing terror as the drumming began to slow.

“Quickly,” they begged. “Do it now.”

One of them offered forth the bottle once again. Labella shook her head.

“That’s enough,” she said. “I’m ready. Give it to me.”

The alcohol blazed on Labella’s tongue. It was now or never. The money lay on the table; her price – even though she couldn’t use it. She glanced at the clan lumbering steadily towards the makeshift healing space. Time was running out. Despite her undead state Labella had just enough conscience for this one last job. She nodded at the boys to tie her down even tighter. The friends helped the trembling Ginger lay on top of the woman’s decaying body in a nonreciprocal 69 position, holding him down as he cried. With Ginger’s bare groin squashed against her breasts Labella turned her mouth to the phlebitis-ridden thigh. Once a doctor always a doctor, even if the methods had warped. Fighting hard not to tear at the flesh with rotting teeth she swabbed the pustules with her anaesthetised tongue. Probing into the blisters, forcing them to burst open in cloying lumps Labella sucked the suppurations dry.

“Run,” she slurred.

Ginger fell off her, sobbing; the others dragged him away. Still bound, Labella watched the heaving mob plunge through the trees after their prey. She listened for screams. Instead she heard the slamming of car doors and a screech of tyres. Moans of defeat rose then faded away as the disappointed left in search of sustenance.

Unable to move Labella felt her gut reflux, forcing the putrid content of her stomach back into her gullet as she succumbed to the ultimate stages of the change. With no control over her body Labella bucked in rabid frenzy until at last, her bindings fell loose. She was free. Her soul reborn. She sat up, hungry. 

And spat.

_________ The End _________

Bio: Lily Childs is the author of a growing number of short horror and dark fiction stories that have appeared online and in print. Watch out for the first volume of a new collection coming out on Kindle this Spring.

Horror Editor at Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers, Lily is also a Spinetingler Award 2011 nominee.

The first two short novellas in Lily's Magenta Shaman dark urban fantasy series are available to download from Amazon, with the third book planned for the summer of 2012. She is currently completing her first supernatural novel.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

EROS ERRORS by Absolutely*Kate - February Femmes Fatales

Oh, how the world has been waiting for the truly, madly, deeply unique voice of Absolutely*Kate Pilarcik. Never - I promise you - will you have read words performed or uttered in such a way. She peddles intelligence in places that need her, rising above academia to pirouette between clouds of creativity.

If you don't know Kate, you'll think I gush too much; if you do... you know I speak the truth.

Not only does Ms Kate write with a mythical authority but she also spends her extremely valuable time promoting the work of others. Do read her extended Bio below EROS ERRORS for places to meet with her, share with her and be inspired. But if you don't do anything else then take the time to dally at The Bijou where Noir is the order of every single day.

And now, I give you...

EROS ERRORS

Pointed arrows make sharp points.
Light doth hark though heralds dark.
Trajectories sublime hover joy o'day
yet ironically, swallow bitter dismay.


Once upon a Myth, Truth became a fragile Reality. I have lived to tell this tale, but barely, just barely, and delectably, with pun ensconced. Let's make that firmly ensconced, where Cupid, ne'er stupid, made good his golden mark 'pon my naked truth.

Amazing what flies in one's open window on a deep-sleep moonless night. Son-of-a-bitchin' son of Venus became my plight . . . but ahhhhh, my pleasure too. Therein lies the rub. His rub, his reach, his grasp, his touch, his lurid tongue, all to lure me in, to make me his Psyche . . . sensually, his soul-felt mate. Eros' arrow lost potency to do the deed his maniacal mother bade proceed. Vexed rose vainglorious Venus when sunny sonny boy botched his midnight mission. (Even more so, when her cosmos of spy-minions chortled on about our conflagrant positions.)

Cock-sure was Eros, where his potency did excel. He lusted me as his heaven ~ I knew him as my hell. Skin against skin, depth surging depth, eyes screaming 'Yes!' to permissions unwhispered. Like butterfly wings our animated force beat on as breath of Life itself. But what price to pay, for natural beauty sensating his way? You've no idea what damage a riled up goddess on a rampage can do, do you?

Mama Venus, by her lopsided Aphroditian soul, had access to the wilds of the four winds, and the ear of zany Zeus. She conjured plots of torment and avidly let loose. Oh she did. And she did some more. Twas majestic for immortal gentry to see, though for me to abhor. I mean, who was I - just a gal minding her own earthly business, setting her womanly wiles on betrothal to a run-of-the-grist Alexander or Barnabus, Damon or Gregorious? But come the vivid rage of Venus, no one reigned victorious.

The world itself floundered without Love begot from Cupid's arrows, for Eros -- as he was known at the best Greek daises -- went on strike. He resisted the persistence of his mother's vile insistence. The floundering world withered, cold to touches which now did not come. Eros came though. Again and again, invisibly so. He hunted the locale where I was secreted away. The good god of the west wind, sage Zephyrus, turncoated loyalties as he suited, and whisked me to higher safety, a mountaintop away. There, night after night, Eros entered more than my chambers. Passion's darkness beaconed his insight.

Greater insights though were needed for our erotic coupling to see eye to eye. Eros coulda, shoulda, woulda seen barricades to my being his beloved, but mama-boy gods are not consistently clever. Have you truly looked up into menacing skies on a stormy day? The Underworld hath no fury like a furie scorned. Venus on rampage through the heavens did emerge. Nevertheless, tough love is tough love and I went searching for potency in answers.

"Will you help me, to a together-ever-after . . . for your son, certainly you see, is enamored of me?," squeaked the tentative tenacity of my ardent plea.

There then, the mother-lode of a bitch showed true her colours -- envy green and pitched black to taunts testing me. "Separate these grains in this basket before the nightfall! Retreive golden wool from the field where the killer sheep graze! Make water flow from a serpent-guarded rock-cleft impossible to see!" Verily, Venus staged set-up shots and torment traps deigned for my mortal failure. Only sheer valour conjured fortunate what my spirit called forth in mystical aid: An ant busied his little self with dissection of the grains. A river-god warned of the killing fields, pointing instead where branch and bark beckoned rubbed off wool for the gathering. I was no goddess' fool. I thanked all these spirits heartily, including the soaring eagle who winged about my water divination. But salutations aside, Venus veered one more task, a greater task, a greater risk. "Go into the Underworld, Girly. Bring me back a box, bountiful with bits of beauty."

How I muttered low, how I glared at the mother goddess so. "Go connoiter your own cosmetic challenges, venal Venus!," I wished I'd shouted. Upon my descent to the Underworld of Hell, how I regretted not telling her where to go. But I muddled on. Will Love conquer darkness? This time I prayed aloud, for an oracle of an outcome. A tower of power came to my aid and this task too, I muddled through. But I was tired. So tired. Bone tired. Stop in my tracks up out-of-the-horrors-of-the-Underworld tired. So I peeked into the bit of beauty box, for any small touch of revival.

Zap! Zowie! An eternal infernal sleep arose to my head with such a clatter before my battered senses bade what was the matter. Then there, in true courses due, on blitzing, on dashing, the fate of my Eros/Cupid flew. By Jove and by Jupiter, we got this thing right! A celestial council was convened. Heavenly, the democratic vote careened. Gods and goddesses, bless those Greeks and their political discourse ~ of the mortals, by the mortals and for the mortals. Celebration lit the heavens. They served me ambrosia and immortality. As I said, I'm no fool. I sipped full of both. We wedded. We bedded. We honeymooned on Mount Olympus.

When our daughter was born, Grandma Venus and I ultimately saw it best to see eye-to-eye. Intuitively gleaning less power as adversaries. we femme-fataled a truce of peace. Doubling our pleasures insured that the world prospered . . . the ambrosia flowed . . . the democracy of the Greeks would garner a model of political genius . . . and for centuries to come, many would play good sport upon Mount Olympus.

~ ~ ~ 

ILLUSTRATION:  L'Amour et Psyché, by Francois Edouard Picot
T H E    E N D ?

No, not at all. Only the beginning of a brazen beguine. 

Eros and Psyche named their girl ~ Voluptuas. 


In translation, to all immortal days ~
'Sensual Pleasures' lives on.


________________________________________

BioAbsolutely*Kate? Prolific author and promoter/publisher of innate design flair with moxie. World needs more moxie. Her writings flow as shadows shimmer Noir, as creamy poils on Ziegfeld Goils, and in synergistically researched decades-of-distinction from the roaring 1920's to the swinging '60's. All on stage at her theatre for the mind creation, AT THE BIJOU ~ "Where Writers' Raves are Readers' Faves" ... There, Believing in Believers, and authors taking authors higher in their  soar, Kate deftly adjusts spots and kleigs so worthy writers rise. The smash sensation "THE SHADOWS OF OUR NOIR" is currently in its 4th month of intrigue, highlighting international authors' tales.

Bookings? Absolutely*Kate is published online at Thrillers, Chillers 'n Killers, other literary and crime scenes, including 'spirited' appearances at Femme Fatale Erin Cole's. One of the authors of GRIMM TALES, by Untreed Reads Publishing; ("You Dirty Rats"), Absolutely*Kate is also co-author with Harry B. Sanderford of Sweet Chili Philly . . . co-writing THE 1976 SOCIETY with Irish/Frisco muse Kevin J. Mackey and . . . co-rollicking/writing SPY-SIDE ECONOMICS with the illustrious AJ Hayes. Absolutely*Kate is editing for publishing in eBook and print ~ IF THE GUMSHOE FITS and "HOLY MOXIE!", while working on her physics time-travels novel, THE VILLAGE SMITHY.

Promotion? Absolutely*Kate launched on Valentine's Day, the "Brevities" Salon site of WOMEN, LOVERS, FRIENDS & MOTHERSto attract lively interactive readership flow to know and follow fellow authors. Early reviews were sensuous and exciting! She goes 'live' this week inviting millions of women readers through channels her silver spade has been digging.

And The Best Is Yet to Be ~ HARBINGER*33, sailing the destinies of 33 stellar authors, with 3 stunning artists, 3 sensational 'authenticators' . . . featuring 33 noted author salutes,  33 ports of call to writerly havens, and a *Treasure Chest* to behold . . . watch for it in this brave new year.

Coming Up? Mais Oui! Absolutely*Kate joins promotional ranks with author/marketing whiz Kevn Michaels. Shhh, Lily's secret: It's the ultimate RIGHT ARM ~ "Authors' Reach Marketing", finding a need and filling it ~ taking authors' books in today's markets to tomorrow's intended reach. Holy Momentum!

Absolutely*Kate recharges energies with coffee, jazz, loving her Prof man, walking at sea, and realizing the fortune of daily jivings with authors and publishers she greatly admires. She's on a Quest this year to read and review all  fellow authors' books on the rise -- thus putting in a new bookcase, at the historic home at the confluence of two rivers in Derby, Connecticut.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

CABARET OF DREAD - News and Book Cover

I've been gathering all my short horror stories, from the less-than-drabble to the big fat five-thousand-worders. Some have appeared online, others only in print, still more have never seen the light of day. The result is that I have enough pieces for two volumes of deepest, darkest tales to terrify the blood from your veins.

The books will be called CABARET OF DREAD. Volume 1 is in production at the moment and will be available as an eBook for Kindle in March.

I thought you might like a glimpse at the book's cover, and to read a short excerpt from one of the stories...



In Adoration - an Excerpt [If you're easily offended - you shouldn't be here.]

Reuben slips a withered hand into a side pocket of his sensible jacket and rummages – an old man seeking a buttermint. He squeezes hard. Thick red liquid oozes through the grey cloth in blooms. He brings a bag out of his pocket and thrusts it towards a straggling child.

“Want a cherry?”

Reuben delights in the girl’s scream as she runs away to catch up with oblivious parents. By the time she reaches them, she won’t remember the scary man with blood on his teeth.

The suit hangs off the body he is wearing; cheap fabric, and designed for a younger, oh so much younger man that Reuben had pleasured to death in some other town along the coast. He snorts at the memory, his expression turning to derision as he shuffles within the octogenarian skin he has adopted for the day. It itches. He scratches at his face, watching the flakes fall into his lap, already dead.

***

“I’ve been waiting for you Reuben.”

‘Reuben’ sheds his clothes and the outer flesh of that day’s victim. He stands before the Holy Father. His peeled skin is the dark blue of game that has hung in a butcher’s back-room for a month. As he reaches the pulpit the spikes and jewels that habitually decorate his body burst forth once more, taking their place upon the landscape of his living corpse. He lunges.

“You don’t frighten me,” the priest smiles.

Reuben isn’t the demon’s true name. He has hundreds of names, and none, but the good Father needs something to remember him by. Face to face they stare each other out, nose to nose, rancid breath mingling between them in the sacred air. The building shifts. It skews. Pews crack with the weight of the confrontation. The knee-cushions unravel, disintegrating the biblical quotes so neatly strewn across their tapestry. Father Judas throws himself to the cold ground as stained glass shatters and sprays the holy structure with killing shards.

The demon pulls the man of God into his embrace. His split black tongue sucks that of his master. Their cocks fight each other for attention before they fall into each other, plunging back and forth. They fuck. They spill. They die a thousand deaths....

Much more to come...

Your thoughts are very welcome, nay - invited. Thank you.


Fire Dance by Tania Redd - February Femmes Fatales

She's hot, she's not what you expect her to be - for who is?

Tania Redd's second February Femmes Fatales piece packs a powerful, breathless punch. Goth, pagan - traditional - I am LOVING  the image Fire Dance throws at us, its shadow burning...

FIRE DANCE

Dimona looks wicked tonight; the long black bridal gown hugging every curve.

“Your hour will come” she smugly reassures.

I give a crooked knowing smile; follow her through the undergrowth cursing under my breath. Her betrothed is waiting; he’s unable to meet my eyes. He leads her into the nine foot wreath lined circle.

Facing each other, their hands are tied together with cord, a broomstick at their feet as the ceremony gets underway. My role is to sweep the circle with the broomstick, dance around the happy couple. I rehearsed earlier to ensure everything goes to plan, and add a little sizzle to the nuptials. Snatching up the fire torch, I advance swiftly, an ancient flame thrower shrieking in delight, as the petrol sodden broomstick flares up, engulfing the traitess and her quarry in flames, the circle collapsing into a burning pit.

My hour has come.

_________ The End _________

Bio: Tania Redd enjoys writing black comedy, horror and crime fiction in the form of short film scripts. She is currently redrafting her first novel and working on a radio play.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Lily's Friday Prediction

Apologies for the lateness of today's post. School half-term means snatched time here and there - even moreso than full-time work! But my little gorgeous girl comes first - sorry!

Now I'm a blub of tears - an old Soul girl - I've been listening to a new complication of tracks whilst I cooked up some Poulet Basquaise, all of which I already possess over and over on (original) vinyl, tape, CD and MP3. So -"Give Me Just A Little More Time" and I shall become Chair(wo)man of the Feardom Board - vaguely organised. If you're under 40 - forget what I've said.

Winner of Last Week's Prediction Challenge

New Predictioneers will not be familiar with her writing but R.S. (Rebecca) Bohn's writing sends me - every time. I'm so glad she dipped in to the Feardom's Prediction challenge this week, for her beguiling and disturbing piece Heiress is my winner. Congratulations Rebecca - an exquisite experience from your pen.

Forgive me, but I cannot decide on a runner-up this week. There are four that make me tremble in completely different  ways which just shows the overwhelming talent here, and I don't thing it's fair to split the vote. Apologies - if you have read all the entries I'm sure you all understand.

Words for 17 February 2012

I'm slipping my fingers into the dictionary's pages - ooh, it's tight tonight. Here we go...

  • Riddle
  • Hook
  • Venus
May your synapses glisten.

Rules

The rules are: 100 words max flash fiction or poetry using all of the words above. Please add your entries in the Comments box below. You have until 9pm UK time on Thursday 23rd February 2012 to enter.

The winner will be announced on Friday 24th February. If you can, please tweet about your entry, using the #fridayflash hashtag, and blog if you feel like it. Do give feedback to your fellow Predictioneers - we all appreciate it.

If your lethargy is getting you down, look out the window. Whether you see an apartment block or an open field - study the finest detail, become awed, write about ants, or dust, or murder...
___________________________________

Between Feathers and Fins by Erin Cole - February Femmes Fatales

I owe a lot to Erin Cole. Even if I were purely a reader and not a writer I would be eternally grateful for the blissfully dark prose she pours onto pages. She is a writer whose words twist and turn, lilting with sinister poetry and stealing us back and forth between the horror of the bizarre, and the terror of reality but always, always delivering her unique fiction with soul.

Believe me, you'll want more after you finish reading Between Feathers and Fins. And I can tell you where to find it. Of the Night is an amazing collection of Erin's supernatural horror that will leave you spiralling in wonder and fear. You can download the book to your Kindle from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Back to my words of thanks. Erin has constantly encouraged, supported and promoted me on my writing journey so far and we have shared thoughts and emotions across the ocean. Erin, you are an inspiration. Thank you.

Read her words...

BETWEEN FEATHERS AND FINS

The ocean took him and never returned him to me, keeping him as though she hadn't enough treasures buried at the depthless bottom of her frigid heart. But I know better - I have seen them, once a time ago. Before I loved. Before any memory of him. Archaic relics inlaid with gold and precious stone, mountains of coral, shelled-lockets of pearl, legions of vessels from different spaces of time, and so many bones that she has built castles out of them. My love is among them now, his spirit still smiling, not caring that he is dead.

I search the shores, pretending I'm looking for seashells. Tiny crab bugs spring from the wet sand beneath my step. I imagine I am a giant plodding through their town, smashing their labors, creating havoc. Are they screaming and I just can't hear them? They dive at me, sharp as pointed sticks against the tender flesh of my ankle. I believe they are not fleeing in blind terror, but assailing their monster. I am not fazed by this thought. My grief vindicates the horror, for I battle my own monster, and it has calloused my heart.

The cat killed a bird this morning. She pounced into a savage dance of murder and pierced her sharp teeth into the warm pulse of life. I yelled at her and chased her off. She sulked around the trunk of a pine, lingering to finish the job. I picked up the bird. White feathers swirled in a mess. The tail tapped at my wrist. The body wriggled in my palm, and its glassy, red eyes were frozen by the probabilities of death. I am the monster now. It knows not fur from skin.

The bird stills. My hand is stained cherry. I climb over the dunes into the wild sage and bury it beneath a handful of sand. At the water's edge, the cold froth of gray-green waves distend a mirrored sky at my feet. A playful tease. She wants me back, wants us all back. I deny it no further and step into the bitter cool of her infinite deep, up to the curve of my breasts. She is quick to take me back. My skin molts into scales, my legs no more, as a fish's tail conquers the form of my feet. The current seizes me, and I swallow the icy salt into my lungs as they too transform back into gills. The song of the sea comes to me again, a lulling, violin melody. But I am listening for him, beneath the boom of tide and gurgle of bubbles in her throat. I am keen to the harmonics of his voice.

I roll in the waves, my fin scraping rock and sand. The gravity of her breath pulls me back from the shore, but another force is greater, and I am unable to find the deep. My body is lifted, as if thrust ashore by a rock giant's hand. Resting on the sand, I shed her waters like tears, his tears. Legs have found my body again. The crab bugs continue their assault, and I surrender to their calloused hearts. In the dunes of wild sage, I see my love. He is no longer smiling - he has battled his own monster.

White feathers somersault and swirl across my panoramic view of the beach. I stretch my fingers up and catch one. My legs are no more. I know not feathers from fins.

_________ The End _________

2012 © Erin Cole


Bio: Erin Cole fears the ocean more than strangers, but writes about them both from the Pacific Northwest. She's won a couple of cool awards, while still enjoying the torture of rejected submissions.

You can learn more about her dark fiction at www.erincolewrites.com or www.erincolelive.blogspot.com.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Failed Connection by Pixie J. King - February Femmes Fatales

My, but it's a privilege for me that Pixie J. King has contributed to February Femmes Fatales this year. Pixie was 'out there' as a writer way before me and despite her tender years (she'll whack me for that) was incredibly supportive from Day 1 - all the way back in 2008/9.

Currently working incredibly hard on her A-Levels, please join me in wishing Pixie every success. To have found the time to write and submit Failed Connection, which in itself was a development of a Friday Prediction drabble entry, is astonishing.

This is a dark and disturbing tale, typical of Pixie J. King. It sings in her voice, and as always, is portrayed from a unique angle. Go Pixie...

FAILED CONNECTION

I smiled as the woman squirmed, pleading and mumbling incoherently. I circled her, like a lion to prey. My eyes locked onto hers. She tried to blink out the fear, but it was impossible. She knew. She looked away. Was my presence too much?

No.

A noise broke my concentration and I turned my attention towards the door. Through the glittering haze of smoke, I saw the woman I desired, long scarlet hair draped to one side, shadow teasing.

Something stirred in my heart at the sight of her, a dark desire fired through me. I knew she would be mine to capture, mine to devour.

‘So you came,’ I said, cool. I gestured for her to come forward.

She moved. Slow, hesitant. The sound of her stilettos echoed around the room and into my ears, like an invitation - a need.

I gazed at her, noted how every inch of her red chiffon dress coated every little curve, hugging, defining her beauty.

‘What is your price?’ she asked, fear lacing her voice.

A smile formed across my lips, the desire growing stronger. ‘What can you give me?’

‘Anything,’ she replied, desperate. ‘I have money, plenty of money.’

Money. Money wasn’t a price I considered. ‘Money is of no interest of me.’

‘What then?’

I moved closer to her, placed a firm grip around her waist, leaned close to her ear. ‘You. I want you.’

I could feel her heart beat hard against her delicate chest, blue eyes dilating in horror. I could see her latent attraction towards me, despite the figure strapped to the chair in the centre of the room, despite what I had done.

Her voice fell to a whisper. ‘And if I refuse?’

Disgusted, I let her go, pulled out a knife from my Armani jacket. ‘Then you get to put a nice long gash across your beautiful lover’s throat, then watch her bleed.’

She glanced at the knife, felt her stomach turn. Her lips pursed, her mind carefully considering the options. ‘Are you sure you won’t take money?’

I frowned. I wasn’t usually one for negotiations, or the cash, but my eyes grazed over her exquisite curves; the desire burning a hole in my heart, and it meant I could take advantage with the price. ‘If you can gather ten million before the night is out, I will release you and her. However, fail to do so, and you leave me with no choice. You will have to kill her if you won’t do as I desire with you.’

‘Ten million?’ She stared at me, eyes filled with terror. ‘Do I get a phone call?’

‘Of course,’ I rasped, pointing to the telephone on the table in the corner.

I watched as she dialled the number. She cursed under her breath when she heard that there was no connection. She glanced up; blue eyes turned a lighter hue, fear glazed over her ethereal face.

I gazed at her, my expression dark.

She turned her focus to the woman; trapped, and centre of attention in the middle of the room, bathed by the shadows. Her knuckles had turned white.

I saw the way she looked, but I couldn’t help but sneer. ‘What, no connection?’ I smiled as I poured another Disaronno, the ice clinking in my glass. I handed her the knife, flicked my eyes towards the woman, then back.

Her hand trembled. Tears began to form in her eyes like pockets of salt.

I leaned close, my breath raspy. ‘Kill her…’

_________ The End _________


Bio: Pixie is an A level student who enjoys writing anything dark, from horror to fairies, and in any length.

While completing college, Pixie writes when she can, living in the world of her three protagonists as she completes three different novels.

She dares you to enter her Realm at http://www.therealmofpixiejking.co.uk

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Death and Derek by Lou Treleaven - February Femmes Fatales

Lou Treleaven is back in the February Femmes Fatales basement ready to tease us with her unerring humour and the continuation of the Derek saga.

Although Death and Derek stands alone, may I recommend you take a quick peek at the first episode from 2011, Fun With Derek to fully set the scene. I defy you not to giggle.

Lou has a wonderfully quirky view of life, which makes her an ideal author of children's books. She really gets inside kids' heads and has them laughing, and preferably screaming too - but not too much. Try Lou's very handy tips for dealing with useless parents and school bullies on the Horrible Hints page of her blog. Wish I'd thought of them!

Here we have the lighter side of horror, and it's a side I simply love.

DEATH AND DEREK

“So lovely to see you, Rachel!” Derek’s mother crooned, embracing me tightly. A rather inappropriate greeting, I thought, as this was her son’s funeral and I had killed him, but then she wasn’t to know that.

“Sorry for your loss.”

“Oh, you too darling. We were all sure you’d get back together and even get married. I feel I’ve lost a daughter as well as a son.”

“Mmmm, well.” I tried to pass her into the church but she grasped my arm. “You must sit with the family. At the front.”

“Love to.” I grimaced and took a deep breath before making my way to the front of the church, where I was soon pressed up between Derek’s Auntie Sandra and his Uncle Bernard.

“Tragic,” Auntie Sandra whispered to me, breathing heavily in my ear.

“Terrible,” Uncle Bernard agreed, putting his hand on my knee and leaving it there.

They were right – it had been tragic. I could still see Derek’s green and brown jumper soaked with his surprisingly vivid red blood. My favourite silver dagger had taken ages to clean. My chaise longue had taken a real beating, but I had managed to get the worst out of it with a liberal application of Dr Daemon’s Gore-Be-Gone.

To my surprise I featured heavily in the funeral service, which was interlaced with speeches from Derek’s family about their dashed hopes for the future, and the now impossible prospect of the patter of tiny Dereks courtesy of yours truly’s womb, which quite frankly was locked and bolted with no chance of Derek or anyone else, dead or alive, breaching those defences thank you. (I was working on a booby trap that would cause considerable personal intimate damage, but it was still in beta.) Occasionally the vicar would get a word or two in, something about tragic death, sorely missed, ashes, dust and so on, but mostly it was just Derek’s family droning on while Uncle Bernard’s hand crept further up my lap.

I was relieved when Derek’s mother interrupted the vicar’s final summing up to invite us all for canapés at her lovely home. A glass of wine and a handful of twiglets and it would all be over.

“Tell us what happened again,” Auntie Sandra crooned, squeezing herself into my chintzy armchair and trapping me.

“Well, I did toy with him for a while, but in the end I went for the heart and put him out of his misery,” I confessed, taking a swig of wine.

“Oh darling, she doesn’t mean how you broke up. She’s talking about the terrible murder of my sweet boy.” Derek’s mother pressed a ritz cracker into my hand. “We don’t know who did it, Sandra, but the police are saying it was a crime of passion.”

“Absolutely not,” I insisted. “It was just the way the evening was going.”

“Come and sit on my lap,” Uncle Bernard suggested, patting his beige slacks.

It was time to go.

***

As I drove back to Unhallowed Acres my mind whirled. Had I done the right thing? I knew I’d done the right thing ending Derek – no one who kept used tissues up their sleeves deserved to live – but should I have confessed? I’d tried to tell them the truth but nobody wanted to listen.

The road turned into a track and soon I was entering familiar territory. The sky went dark, bats flitted overhead and pairs of red eyes blinked through the sinister shapes of bare trees. Home sweet home. What worried me was that I was becoming happier here than I was in the ‘normal’ world.

My phone suddenly gave a manic laugh, my text message signal to tell me there was another undead creature waiting for my attention. I began to relax again.

After a long evening’s work – a banshee trapped in an airing cupboard, the killing of a vampire who’d been hosting a late night television arts review show, and yet another exorcism at my local, the Hangman’s Noose, I returned home tired but happy. The menacing statues that normally stood around my house in ghastly tableaux had shifted about and wittily spelled out Welcome Back with the entrails of dead animals, and I heard the ghosts in the attic clanking out a supportive rhythm with their chains as I unlocked the door with its huge rusty iron key.

“Well?” The ghost of Derek drifted down the hall towards me, looking emotional.

“It was fine. They all waxed lyrical about you.”

“But what did they say? Who cried the most? Did Mollie Bishop from school turn up? I know she secretly fancied me for years –“

It had been a long day. I reached into the kitchen cupboard, turned swiftly and sprayed Derek with Dr Daemon’s Ectoplasm Repellent. It would break him up for a few hours and by the time he drifted back together again he’d be exhausted.

Okay, so I hadn’t got rid of Derek entirely, but now he was dead he was so much easier to manage. And, even better, the patter of tiny feet was going to be absolutely impossible now.

With a sigh of satisfaction I went to my display cabinet to make room for Uncle Bernard’s severed hand.

_________ The End _________


Bio: Lou has written this piece as a sequel to her 2011 Femme Fatale entry, Fun with Derek.  She calculates she will finish the story if February Femme Fatales continues for another 80 years.

You can find her at www.loutreleaven.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Whispering Sweet Nothings by Icy Sedgwick - February Femmes Fatales

This is Icy Sedgwick's maiden sojourn here at The Feardom, and I am mightily pleased to welcome her to the February Femmes Fatales showcase. As she and I share tweets on the very important topics of corsets, bodices and boots I do believe she will feel quite at home with all the Femmes Fatales.

Icy is a queen of pulp fiction, indeed her first novel - The Guns of Retribution, a Western - is published by Pulp Press. If you want to read more of her work do take the time to visit her blog where she shares and opines. In the meantime I just know you're going to enjoy the magical...

WHISPERING SWEET NOTHINGS

I sat in the car, twisting the key in the ignition and thumping the steering wheel. It worked in the movies, but not in reality. Instead of flaring into life, the engine sputtered, wheezed, and died.

“Oh for the love of – I haven’t got the patience for this!”

Pounded the wheel one last time for good measure, I threw open the car door. I wasn’t exactly running late for a pressing appointment but shopping needed to be done ahead of my date that evening, and no desire to use the bus. I slammed the car door shut and stomped back up the path to my house, heading for the spare room.

The curtains stay closed to keep the room dim – can’t have my pretties being exposed to sunlight. I flipped the switch and the electric glare cut through the dancing dust motes spinning about the room. Wide shelves set into the wall opposite the window held rows of large glass jars. Each one bore a handwritten label, and each one contained a heart.

I stood on my tiptoes and scanned the labels of the jars. I knew it was there somewhere; I just had to find it. The light fell on the label of a jar near the back. The delicate black script spelled out the name Gary McKillock. Success! Pulling the jar free from its neighbours, I tapped on the glass, watching the heart shudder in its viscous fluid. It belonged to Gary McKillock, a mechanic who lived three streets away. I snared his heart but I still dreaded running into him at the shops, due to his fondness for meandering stories and overpowering aftershave. Still, on this occasion, I could do with a favour, and needs must when the Devil offers a hot date.

I unstoppered the jar and dipped my hand inside. It’s amazing how cold that liquid gets when it’s just sitting in the dark. Balancing the heart in the palm of my hand, I drew a sigil in the air above it. A corresponding sigil lit up on the right ventricle, glowing in pale green.

“You will feel needed. You will get an overwhelming urge to call me, and you will call me right now,” I whispered. The sigil faded, and I slid the heart back into the jar.

My pocket vibrated and a square of light shone through the material of my jacket. I fished out my phone – I didn’t even need to read the name on screen to know who was calling.

“Hello?”

“Diane? Is that you?” That nasal tone was unmistakable.

“Hi, Gary! What a wonderful surprise!”

“How are you? Just realised it was a while since I’d heard from you...thought I’d call to see how you are.” I shuddered at the faint trace of hope in his voice.

“I’m fine, sweetie, just fine. Well, all except for my silly car.”

“What’s wrong with it?” Ah, there’s that tone. Curiosity.

“I don’t know, it just won’t start.”

“That’s no good. Listen, I don’t need to go to the garage for another hour, do you want me to pop round to take a look at it?

“Oh, would you? Only if it’s absolutely no trouble to you.”

“No trouble at all. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”

I said my goodbyes and slipped the phone back into my pocket. Gary’s jar slid back into its slot among the other jars on the bottom shelf. Another name, this time on a jar at the front of the shelf, caught my eye. Heston Crater. How could I forget Heston? He owned La Coquille, a seafood restaurant on the high street. Memorable less for his cuisine and more for his bad teeth and penchant for mismatched socks, I couldn’t stand his mindless prattle but he never let me pay when he invited me to drop by for lunch.

Seconds later, his heart was in my hand, and I was whispering sweet nothings to his left atrium. I smiled, already tasting the squid in lemongrass broth, and returned his heart to the jar.

My phone rang.

_________ The End _________

Bio: Icy Sedgwick is based in the North East of England. She has been writing for over ten years, and contributes articles to Write Anything and Fuel Your Writing, and is working on a PhD in Film Studies.

Icy has also had her first book, The Guns of Retribution, published through Pulp Press.
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.