I’m delighted to have my dark fiction story ‘Patterned in Ebony‘ published today at Gobblers & Masticadores. This is my contributor’s post for December. As always, a big thank you to editor Manuela Timofte for trusting in my work.
Gobblers & Masticadores is a wonderful online magazine of poetry and prose with a new post almost every day. I would thoroughly recommend trying it.
Please check out this wonderful magazine and all the fantastic poems and prose included. Amazingly, it is free to do so! This is Issue 2 of Verum and my work appears on page fifteen. I hope the magazine has many more fantastic issues to come.
We plumbed forever’s depths, mined eternity’s fields, tipped our caps to infinity, and came to one startling revelation: Death was the end.
Kara and I closed our eyes together, holding hands as we always did. Sleep soon came. But unlike those times when one awakens to a glimpse of an imagined world that pops out of existence, out of memory, out of reach, this was the beginning and there was no forgetting.
The stars swirled around us, we the centre of our own galaxy. Residual particles sparkled in the vermillion and cobalt light like so many gems in a universal crown, those remnants of the beginning. This place was a tangible, sensual revelation, and we smiled for the first time since the sombre policeman said, “Missing.”
“Do you think?” asked Kara. Her wide eyes implored. Her fingers grasped.
There was no ‘How?’ or ‘We?’ or even a surprised ‘Oh!’, just a complete acceptance of being together here, now, in this place.
I shrugged, for words were never my friends.
We soaked ourselves in splendour, familiarised ourselves with every speckled area of night. Then, once we’d appraised everything, like a compass pointing the way, moved.
We flew. With our hands clasped together and hearts already one, we flung ourselves into heaven. Our search had begun.
To explain what we saw, what we felt, would relive the disappointment of losing it, and we’d already lost our everything, but after all reality’s magnificence, we came to another place. An un-reality, one might’ve termed it, though it felt more real than the blood in our veins.
The cosmos is darkness made magic, but darkness, nevertheless. This place, this domain, however, was only darkness. Light was as foreign here as an ant in the Arctic.
“Where?” she said.
I shook my head.
This absolute darkness folded around us, sucked us into itself as grapes pushed into jelly. There was no pain, nor fear of it, just acceptance. We moved from one plane to the next. We sped through this nothingness with more hope than ever, for it is what you don’t see, not what you do, that offers possibilities. Then we arrived, and she was there.
Little Corrine sat upon her knee like she once did on Kara’s. The child giggled. It broke my heart again.
“No!” screamed Kara at the top of her lungs; the darkness snatched it away.
She saw us then, not Corrine, our sweet girl, but her hostess, her keeper, Death.
I like most had expected the Reaper to tower in dreadful, skeletal manliness. I was wrong. I was so wrong!
Death wore the visage of the afterlife, porcelain and wan. Her tumbling hair glittered a raven waterfall. Her form shamed all other goddesses and queens. The ghost of all ghosts, she appeared in her sable litheness. And then she opened her eyes.
They held everything and nothing at once. All that had passed and all that would come in all its manifested sadness. She bore its brunt. Knew it all. And she did it for us, for everyone, and more so for our darling Corrine.
“It’s not fair,” wept my Kara. “It’s just not fair.”
I pulled her closer.
“At least we know.”
“But we don’t know how?”
“We don’t need to, my love. She’s safe now. That’s all that matters. No one could care for her more.
We awoke together as we had fallen asleep. Our only regret, our one misfortune, that she’d never known us there.
Some time ago, the wonderful Manuela Timofte, Editor at Gobblers and Masticadores, set me an interview to complete. I’m not one who enjoys talking about himself, but just for once did. Manuela has now published my answers to her questions HERE!
I hope you find my words interesting and that they cast a slightly different light on my work.
Lost in a lucid dream, she stirs, unaware of the sleep she sleeps. The darkness beyond the mirror swirls in anticipation.
Outside, trees rustle a surprise, raining dying leaves upon the frozen ground as if desperate to please. Never has a season died so beautiful a death. But this is always her season; life never moves on.
The girl imagines sitting by her window and watching the snow. She loves snowflakes, how they taste the ground. Yet, she knows it a mirror and not a window at all, and still, she sleeps.
The alarm clock makes a mess of the morning, drowning out the blackbirds and scaring away the crows. A fire engine charges off to douse angry flames. A police car wails its siren song; attentive thieves stop to listen, whilst I carry on dreaming by design.
I hold the cosseting darkness close, bathe in its obsidian cool, feel it course through my veins as liquid night. There are no stars, no moon, no higher angels here, just an ever-stretching moment sandwiched between last and next. I squeeze my eyes tight as a shrink-wrapped shroud, but the reason for this preservation slips away.
There are still brief moments of lucidity where golden dawns merge to cerulean days and the nights are nothing but places to lay one’s head. They are rare, flashes of a past once lived, and most days I turn my back to them. But not today. Today is special. It’s the day I wait for every week.
I dress in my Sunday best even though it’s a Thursday. The weightless white lilies lay across my outstretched arms like a tightrope walker’s pole, offering a balance I should otherwise lack. In this fashion, foot before foot, I make my way there.
The deserted cemetery mires in a morose nod to the forgotten. How I wish it would laugh and sing, awaken.
I follow the well-worn path through these winding monuments to other people’s memories in search of one of my own. It is the last stone of the last row of an extension abutting a hedge. Ready for a quick getaway, I tell myself.
A quick glance and I lay my flowers and leave, passing the same woman who tends her mother’s grave every Thursday. We often smile, nod even, but today she offers some words.
“Back again,” she says. It is not a question.
I nod, unwilling to risk more.
“A family member?”
She pauses as if to say more might offend me, but her desperation for contact wins over. “A parent?”
She looks aghast as I shake my head.
I repeat the gesture and make to move away, my cheeks reddening.
I am already weeping when I turn to say, “Me.”
My eyes rest most mornings, my heart too. I have never loved and never grieved. Some might claim me dead to the world, and the world dead to me. I lay flowers at a grave I have paid for in advance, near a woman who does not know my name. One day, I shall lay there as I have practiced here. One day, she shall do the same.
I pretend to sleep until the day takes over, testing myself against an overly loud alarm and a window open to the world. This is my ritual, my darkening of the mind. I block out all that would disturb me and ponder the woman in the cemetery, she who the flowers are truly for. It is a meditation of sorts. I dream by design in the hope I’ll be ready when we meet on equal terms. For ghosts may pass and smile and chat, but only in death be together forever.
I am absolutely delighted to be included in my favourite magazine once again. I’m a luck boy with how many places I’ve been published, but there’s something about Noctivagant that stirs the soul. Always beautifully presented, and full of top quality work, I cannot recommend reading it enough. Now available to view on Noctivagant Press’ website and soon to be released as a book, I hope you can take some time out of your busy schedules to enjoy some good old fantastical reads.
This season’s topic was dark romance, and my own story, ‘To Indigo Lost‘ is about as dark as they come. Please do enjoy.
You must be logged in to post a comment.