Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Sweeter than to Wake

What do the dead dream? Do they dream of life? Of the living? Do they dream of us?
Liam had always loved to watch Colleen as she slept. He loved the protective feeling it stirred in him, the sense that he was watching over her while she was at her most vulnerable. Her eyelids would flicker with whatever strange adventures she was having, sometimes good, sometimes bad. He himself never remembered his dreams so he loved hearing his wife’s. But he could never join her in them. Only when she woke could he share her sleeping world, listen as she told him of fantastic landscapes and impossible creatures.
Now, however, her eyes were still, her face pale and serene, her skin cool as she thawed. He had been unable to protect her this time. A single bite was all it took. Within minutes she was dead. Liam had allowed himself no time to grieve; he had carried her at once to the mortuary, placing her in one of the refrigerated drawers to keep her from waking. For now anyway.
He hadn’t wanted her to become like the others and freezing was the only way of delaying the Waking. All across town the Woken roamed like sleepwalkers, in a state that was neither life nor death. They weren’t especially aggressive; most of them merely seemed lost, confused. They moved slowly and clumsily through familiar places, shying away from the living. They didn’t speak or respond like the people they once were. Rather, they behaved like frightened animals in the wild. If they felt startled or threatened, they would attack. And if they were hungry, they would bite.
Liam laid Colleen on the embalming table and stroked her face, setting her features as if for viewing before a burial. He kissed her cold lips and parted them to see her teeth one last time. Her dazzling smile was gone forever but her teeth were still dangerous. When she woke she would be frightened. And hungry.

That's from my story "Sweeter than to Wake", from Love, Lust & Zombies, an unusual project I'm delighted to be a part of. Most erotica publishers shy away from anything truly edgy, but Mitzi Szereto is an exception. I don't find zombies remotely sexy or romantic, but when she announced this anthology, I couldn't resist the challenge. And the story that resulted from it is one I'm really quite proud of.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Two Five Seven

“Two . . . Five . . . Seven . . .”
Do you hear that? Listen.
“Nine . . . One . . . Six . . .”
That’s the girl who lives inside the radio. And that’s all she says. Just numbers. Sometimes she sings too.
“I once had a sweet little doll, the prettiest doll ever known…”
The radio belongs to my grandpa. It’s a huge wooden one like they have in old movies and it takes up a whole corner of the living room. It’s shiny red-brown and it reminds me of a big beetle. The dials look like spinning eyes, which is kind of creepy, and you turn them to find stations to listen to. You can even hear stations from countries on the other side of the world.
One night I heard a voice. It scared me because I thought there was someone in the house, someone who shouldn’t be there. I froze like ice, listening as hard as I could, so hard my ears hurt.
Then the voice came again. It sounded really far away and all it said was a number. Then another one. There were some scratchy high sounds too and I realised the voice was coming from the radio. But it wasn’t music or the news. It was the voice of a little girl like me.

cover art: Paul Mudie

That's from my story "Two Five Seven", from the Eleventh Black Book of Horror. This marks my fifth appearance in the series, published by Mortbury Press. It's a series I'm extremely proud to be a part of. The stories are consistently good, as is the gorgeous cover art by Paul Mudie.

Here's the full Table of Contents:

TWO FIVE SEVEN - Thana Niveau
EAST WICKENDEN - Edward Pearce
LORD OF THE SAND - Stephen Bacon
ALMA MATER - Kate Farrell
TEATIME - Anna Taborska
LEM - David A. Riley
FLIES - Tony Earnshaw
MOLLI & JULLI - John Forth