Saturday, 12 May 2012

STARING AT THE PINK - Cabaret of Dread stories revealed

Every Saturday I’m revealing the tale behind the tale of Cabaret of Dread Vol.1’s main stories, together with a short excerpt of each to whet your appetite.


The final 'previously unpublished' story of the collection.

One death; two souls departed. How many versions of ourselves are housed in this thing we call a body? What happens if they are released before the corporeal shell has finished with them? Perhaps I should have called this "Giving Up The Ghost". Perhaps not.

I wrote Staring At The Pink for a Daily Telegraph competition but it got nowhere, neither did the other two magazines I sent it to want to publish it. Well, I like it - and that's why I've included it in Volume 1 of Cabaret of Dread so that it has somewhere to rest - amongst friends.

So – what’s Staring At The Pink about?

A young woman dealing with the agony of watching her grandmother die slowly in a hospital bed is shocked to see not one spirit depart, but a second, dark mirror image of her lovely Pink Grandma. Fighting off a spectral assault, the narrator escapes with her own soul still intact. But years later, as she is about to give birth to her own child the grandmothers return - and they're not alone.


Sadly, this story is inspired by a friend whose grandfather was seriously ill, but no matter how sick he became - he wouldn't give up. A medium, who didn't know anything about my friend, told her that part of him had already left and was waiting on the other side for the two parts to become one again.

It struck me that this was a dangerous situation that potentially happens a lot. What would happen if the two parts became permanently split - and which parts of one's personality would sit with which broken soul? The thought still chills me.


Her hand rests over my heart, forcing me to study the transparent fingers. I question everything; how can this possibly be? Yesterday she was here, solid and alive in a hospital bed. Today – she’s alive – solid and just about living in a hospital bed. But she’s changed. Last night, she died.

I saw it all. Moments after the green line ran straight and my grandmother began her journey towards the mythical light the doctors snatched her back; breaking the laws of death. I cried at first with fear and premeditated grief, and then again with a relief full of guilt for my selfishness. I didn’t want her to leave. I needed her. I wallowed in my own self-pity - until I saw what they’d done, the damage their interference had caused and I knew without understanding why or how, that from one perfect grandmother another - her dark side, her nemesis, was torn.

Do we spit out our demons as filth when we pass over, purifying ourselves on the way to an unknown place of rest? In the natural process does that shadow-self quickly dissipate and die? I don’t have the answer because I am not so spiritually minded to have considered it before now. But sitting here, staring at the pair of them – both revived, both breathing – I believe we should leave well alone, and that we are wrong to play God.

Pink Grandma rests beneath the sheets whispering laboured breaths into a clinical pillow. It’s the Pale Grandma that sits beside her who leans forward to stroke my chest.

“I’ll have it,” Pale Grandma says in a voice I struggle to recognise. Her bony claws grasp at my small breast, and I feel her ice in my soul. I do nothing, not out of fear but from teeth-gritting anger.

Pale Grandma has black eyes, not the wistful blue of Pink Grandma’s. They stare at me, those vaulted chasms, expecting me to give in. I return her gaze - defiant. I shake my head.


She roars frustration back at me with foetid breath. And is gone.

Pink Grandma - Nana - stirs from her slumber, unaware of the nocturnal separation. She smiles without seeing, squeezes my hand without knowing I’ve clutched it back. I move to embrace her, lingering a while, careful not to damage her frail frame.  When at last she sighs I know it is the end and I hug her closer. Pink Nana dies, for the second time, in the safety of my arms.

We planned to call our daughter Rosa...


Like the excerpt? The full tale is waiting for you in Cabaret of Dread! By visiting the book's 'Look Inside' feature on Amazon you can also read the opening tale DRESSING-UP BOX, a few pages of SMILING CYRUS and a handful of mini-tales.

Of course, the best way to read this - and the many other stories in Vol.1 of Cabaret of Dread, is to download it. If you do, I am ever thankful...

Buy/Download Cabaret of Dread from


  1. This one was especially chilling... sleep was a long time coming after I read Staring At The Pink.

    That last line - "Pink Nana dies, for the second time, in the safety of my arms."

    I may have let my imagination get the best of me.

    I'm glad you included the story in this collection, Lily... editors/publishers aren't always right... it is a very good tale - dark, poignant and melancholy - all that we've come to expect from one of your tales.

  2. Thank you Veronica. Your opinion means a great deal to me. Sleep well.



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.