Friday, 15 June 2012


This 200-word flash fiction piece was runner-up in the 'One Word Challenge' on the UK's Writing Magazine online forum Talkback.

SHELF LIFE  by Lily Childs

She kept it in a jar.

Every day, Cecile held her breath and snuck into the larder whilst Madame Severin took a nap. The thing was safely hidden behind three rows of Duck Confit, indeed it resembled the meat that wallowed in pale yellow fat, barely distinguishable.

Cecile stopped to wipe the condensation away, as had become tradition. The warmth beneath her fingers grew as she stroked, and she smiled.

“Not long now, little one.”

The jar juddered on the shelf causing a minor kilner cacophony.

“Sshhh.” Cecile leant in and patted the container’s lid. “Don’t let Cook hear you, or she’ll serve you up for supper.”

The jar’s contents shrunk away from the sides. Its flesh quivered, bones poked at the glass in accusation. Cecile stared at the ceiling as the bare bulb flickered and sparked.


Her call came too late. The pantry disappeared, drowned in darkness. Cecile ran for the door. Glass smashed and metal erupted all around her. She slipped in a mess of preserved meat and vegetables, her knees slamming onto hard quarry tiles.

Tentacles tore at Cecile’s throat.

Madame Severin arrived. She cursed, scooped up her child, and left Madamoiselle Cecile to flounder in fat.

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.