Saturday, 28 April 2012

WRAITHS AND STAYS - 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.


This ghostly horror is set in a medieval-like, dystopian future where darkness, depravity and death threaten men. I wrote it for a small press anthology which sadly never happened, but in 2011 I was interviewed by fellow dark fiction writer Erin Cole and offered the story to accompany the interview. 

Subsequent to its appearance in Cabaret of Dread, Wraiths and Stays was published in print, in Dreams of Duality by Red Skies Press. It is a short, short - at only 663 words.

So – what’s Wraiths and Stays about? 

The narrator is self-imprisoned in a rotting tower with hundreds of other men, all living in fear of a plague of spectral wraiths haunting the once green and fertile land. Staring from a window slit, he recognises wives and mistresses, mothers, daughters, sisters... The women sweep the earth and skies in half-dead hunger whilst the men find solace in each others' flesh. While the narrator reminisces his own sexual encounters over the years, can he resist the base urges being played out all around him?


The opening sentences came to me on the walk down the hall from my bedroom to the bathroom (no 'ensuite' for me sadly). This happens a lot - no soul-seeking, no begging with the muse, just out-of-the-blue stories delivered into my head and begging to be written.


We didn’t speak of it, for how could we? A blessing bell, the priests said but we knew the clanging peel sounded the death knell in our midst, announcing the journey to hell for the fairest and most sweet. Not even the healthy amongst them were saved from the buboids, eruptions and pox. And now, with them fallen like God-forsaken flies - daughters of Beelzebub – I tried to forget what my own looked like. Mother, frail but proud. My girls – a beguiling trilogy - unwed, unbetrothed. Even my wife, traitor that she was and bringer of plague to this island; she played still in my mind, a rotting wretch. Here we wallow, barely buoyant in the floods of death she has left in her wake, in this place that once drowned in roses and where trees dripped with pungent medlars and cider apples. All gone.

Out of high windows we stared at the seething, spiralling mass of living decay. They ruptured below us, then flew to our rooftops to snatch with sharp teeth at our desperate gazes. With every attack we fell to the floor, eyes closed in fear as our only protection.

It is days now; weeks. Food is on ration. Unseasonal snow hardens the ground making crops, seeds and grain inaccessible. Taunting voices steal through stone walls making whispers of love and a promise of more. Around me the weak seek solace in each others’ arms and between the hard legs of fighters and labourers. I don’t want to give in... Can I resist temptation? An intimacy only hinted at amongst the dandiest of types now seems so warmly and wantonly inviting....


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 |

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.