Void

Serena Jayne

The astringent stink rising from the litter boxes scattered around Trina’s studio apartment became harder and harder to ignore, but the silence was worse. She missed the comforting cacophony of hisses, howls, and hairballs from her eighteen cats.

Hours after the horrid people from Feline Fine Rescue had carted carrier after carrier away, she remained sitting on the hardwood floor of the living room, her shoulders shaking. Her
black cat, Void, crept from the shadows and curled up on her lap. While she stroked his soft, silky fur, her scooped-out heart filled with gratitude for his wily ways.

Void blessedly broke the stillness and her melancholy mood by toppling a pile of past due notices, smashing a creepy crawly critter, and standing on his hind legs to rub his furry face against her cheek. She envied his magical gift of making the bad stuff disappear with a swish of the tail or a whap of a paw.

Since the animal control catastrophe and getting dumped, Void was the only guy who mattered. Her last boyfriend Duke had consumed a stack of self-help books, which encouraged him to harness the power of positive affirmations. Each day, he stood in front of the bathroom mirror and said, “I am always awesome” or “I attract abundance.”

Soon, he’d moved out of his parents’ basement, scored a promotion to assistant to the assistant manager at Melvyn’s Multi-Mart, and gained a new girlfriend who wasn’t a “cataclysmic shitshow.” After reactivating his Tinder account, that dirty dog swiped right on the alluring Amber, and essentially swiped left on Trina.

If those mantras made Duke manifest his dreams, Trina hoped she could use one to reclaim her kitties, earn enough cash to keep them in kibble and catnip, and find a partner with a penchant for pussy cats. Only the perfect mantra would do.

She stumbled into her tiny bathroom. Void slunk behind her like a reluctant shadow.

“I’m the cat’s meow,” she said, repeating the affirmation over and over and over.
The mirror magnified her flaws, but she forced a Cheshire Cat grin. Only positive energy would pull her from her abyss.

After a while, her mouth went dry and her legs went wobbly. Still, she clutched the sink, stared at her reflection, and repeated and repeated and repeated her affirmation.

Every time she considered quitting, she recalled the pain of losing Fluffy, Sassafras, Leo, Ginger, Matilda, Taco Cat, Tiger, Felix, Milo, Barney, Sacha, Misty, Jasper, Cinder, Coco, Clover, and Floyd. Success meant being reunited with those seventeen sweet souls.

When her legs became too weak to stand, she slammed her fist into her reflection, and shattered the mirror. Void fled the bathroom in a frenzy of fur. She slipped to the floor, clutching a shiny shard and whispering her affirmations.

For what felt like days, she lay in a puddle of piss. Her fingers bleeding, she held the reflective sliver and mouthed her mantra.

Void sat on the toilet seat grooming his tail. Still, Trina continued chanting, her voice reduced to a hoarse hiss.

Her landlord burst into the bathroom, his eyes wide.

Trina’s mouth couldn’t be drier if it had been stuffed with cotton. She managed to croak “help,” but the noise that came out wasn’t human. Again, and again, she tried to cry out for assistance.

“You poor thing,” he said. “I’ll take care of you.”

Arms lifted her as though she weighed next to nothing.
The broken pieces of mirror on the bathroom floor reflected her landlord, cradling a black-furred creature.

“Help,” she repeated, her words transforming into Void’s caterwaul.

True to his word, her landlord treated Trina as a pampered pet, showering her with kind words and copious amounts of comfort foods. He bought her tons of toys and a sparkly pink collar, which made the perfect complement to her shiny, black hair. Every afternoon, she admired herself in his bathroom mirror and thanked the universe for granting her awesome
affirmation.

Serena Jayne has worked as a research scientist, a fish stick slinger, a chat wrangler, and a racehorse narc. When she isn’t trolling art museums for works that move her, she enjoys writing in multiple fiction genres. Born under the sun sign of Leo, she is naturally a cat person. Her short fiction has appeared in the Arcanist, Shotgun Honey, Space and Time Magazine, Unnerving Magazine, and other publications. serenajayne.com Twitter: @SJ_Writer

Think Me Helpless

Miriam H. Harrison

you think me lovely, meek, and
frail—as though beauty proves I
float on fragile wings, flutter
for a tender season before
surrendering to
silence

you forget what comes
before—the mad darkness that gives
rise to beauty

I know what it means to pupate, to tear
myself apart for pieces of a new
beginning, to become slop and
memories in rigid darkness, to rend
my way into the light

I am already twice
born—once hungry, once
fearless

before you test my
frailty, consider—if I can
shed my being, lock
myself in darkness, turn
my flesh to oozing
nothingness, what more
might I do to
you who think me
helpless?

Miriam H. Harrison writes among the boreal forests and abandoned mines of Northern Ontario, Canada. Her writings vary between the eerie, the dreary, and the cheery, and she is a member of the Horror Writers Association, SF Canada, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. She can be found on Facebook (facebook.com/miriam.h.harrison) and Twitter (twitter.com/MiriamHHarrison), and her website is miriamhharrison.wordpress.com.

Read more by Miriam in issue 4: Starless and issue 5 Learn My Strength, We Wait

The Saint is a Witch, the Witch Confesses

Amelia Gorman

A group of boars is called
a sounder same as this herd of whispers
that put me in this limbo saying
there's too little room inside the canon
right now

numberless black birds circle
infinity through these bars

no more intrusions from
the strain of heavenly voices
now just
the refrain of a gray pigeon

A group of witches is called
mentally ill, depressed,
institutionalized.

Amid injections, electro, and
an inoffensive vomit of paint, red chested birds
none of which are named literature
I can't remember

(remember doggerel,
the name of a circle of crows,
which animal grouping is called a conspiracy)

what seeped out through a hole
between my eyes

while the city ripped my pants to shreds
to sew into a skirt, a bandage, a jacket,

led me away to a red chested timber
that isn't burning poetry

Amelia Gorman is a recent transplant to Eureka, California. She enjoys exploring the redwoods and coasts with her dogs and foster dogs. Some of her recent poetry has appeared in Penumbric, Vastarien, and The Deadlands. Her first chapbook, Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota is available from Interstellar Flight Press.

Harmonies of Fungi

Manisha Sahoo

Suru paused at the Natural Condiments shelf and scrunched her nose.

What had she to get?


Young sprigs of wild cumin, inside-out cardamoms and—
She pinched at her belly under the shirt and began to whistle the first few bars of Harmony of Fleshlings. Tapping the end of her pointed boots on the tiled floor, she stared at the lonely contents in her basket and frowned.

What else had she to get?

Charu had asked for some very specific things, and she had insisted Suru make a list, lest she forgets.

The same Suru now found her mind blank even as her rendition of In Harmony of Fleshlings transitioned towards the end of its first verse. A sudden overlap of whistling took her by surprise, and she looked over her shoulder.

The witch browsing the opposite shelf locked eyes with her and bent her head in
an awkward greeting which Suru turned away from. Charu’s distant voice had taken over her head, commanding her attention instead.

Are you writing them down— Suru, are you writing down—?

Suru waited for the aisle to empty out before she wheeled on her heels and
considered the Modified Spices shelf. But it did not feel right! Charu would never
concoct a potion with these new-fangled, “tainted” spices.

Are you writing down wild cumin— inside-out cardamoms?

She had written all three of those cursed items down… and left the list on her
dresser. Suru slapped her forehead even as she continued In Harmony of Fleshlings into its second verse.

Could Charu have wanted some Modified Spice for the potion though? Could that be the reason her brain had misplaced the third ingredient, because it was so utterly out of character for Charu?

Suru scratched under her chin and scanned the rows of betel-infused peppers,
powder of dried jackfruit-grape hybrid, cream of corny walnuts, mint, et cetera, et cetera– nothing rang a bell. She did remember feeling overly disgusted at the idea of fetching the final item–

And like a hex cast with perfection, she recalled it. Young sprigs of wild cumin, inside-out cardamoms, and, of course, the stinking bunch of flesh-eater mushrooms. Her whistling had not been in vain after all, she concluded in triumph as she skipped along to the last aisle in the store.

Fungi Lane.

Suru scrunched her nose, plugged two fingers into them, and entered the dreaded length of tight, narrow space. Pleasant as gooseflesh-inducing scents were, mushrooms never made the cut. There could not be any brewing maniac who would find their aroma charming. Nevertheless, these pesky fungi and their innumerous varieties had vital duties to perform in almost every potion or hex they brewed.

If she did not love Charu, she would not be venturing down this— oh, hateful of
all witches, this would not do!

Gagging, Suru grabbed a handful of the dripping, brownish-green, long-stemmed
fungi by their caps, chucked them into the basket, and made a run for the checkout counter.

She returned home in a huff and dropped the grocery bag in Charu’s lap, who, Suru noticed, had not yet set up anything. She seemed to have instead taken a sweet little nap in her armchair, warming by the fireplace.

“Where’s— why are you not ready?” she demanded, glowering, while Charu
peered into the bag and counted under her breath.

She looked up at Suru and shrugged. “The corpse has not rotted yet. How could
we boil it?”

Suru collapsed into the other armchair and sunk into its cushion, groaning and
sniffling. “You— you get Home Delivery next time, you understand? I am not running stupid errands for you anymore! Especially when there are those loathsome mushrooms involved.”

“Come now, relax. Hum that annoying song of yours—”

Of Harmony… in Fleshlings? I’m too tired—”

“No! What are you saying? The song’s called Boil a Corpse, you nitwitch. It’s
why I even went ahead and made you a carcass in the first place. A special treat for your birthday, so you could sing the song while I have fun. The flesh-eater mushrooms are called Harmonies. How did you even get those so mixed up? Y–you lost the list somewhere, didn’t you? I bet you even got all confused at the grocery store! Oh! What should I do with that brain of yours, dig it out and boil it with that rotting pile of mush? Would that be an improvement?”

Manisha Sahoo (she/her), from Odisha, India, has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a Master’s in English. Her stories have appeared in Rivanna Review, as well as in several anthologies including Everything Changed After That and Sharing Lipstick. She has also twice received Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest.
You can find her at https://www.instagram.com/leesplash/ or at her blog https://byleesplash.wordpress.com/

Confessions of a Lycanthrope

Frances Pauli

I squint at sunshine
through yellow eyes
blink them
and remember myself.

I scan the morning's headlines
for my victim's name,
curl fingers tighter
round my breakfast spoon
and remember claws.

Her soft flesh
the perfume of her hair.
Her screaming as I tasted both
as I tore and devoured
howling my triumph
to the moon.

I remember
while a family grieves
and morning sun lights rainbows
in my orange juice glass.

I remember
the twitch of my pelt
the scent, like thick wine
lifting my muzzle
as I howled my hunger
skyward.

My cereal absorbs the milk
disintegrates into mush.
The paper rattles
an accusation
sounding like the clicking
of my paws on asphalt.

Frances Pauli writes speculative fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online, and her animal stories have won four Leo Awards and two Coyotls. She can be found at: francespauli.com

Tree Eyes

Katherine Quevedo

Poor little Jackson struggles with his words as I tuck him in and reach for the light switch. “Mommy….” He shakes his head. His eyes swim. Better keep the light on a little longer. The way he stares across his bedroom at the closet doors, there must be an imagined monster lurking inside.


“Don’t worry, buddy, it’s all right.” I walk over to the closet, slide the wooden doors wide open, and make a show of investigating the interior. Just bins of toys on one side and clothes on the other, all with picture labels on them so he can learn where things go. “No big deal.” I close everything back up and flash him the reassuring smile that every monster-outsmarting parent has mastered—until I see the worry lingering on Jackson’s face. It’s fear, really. My smile fades. I haven’t solved the root cause disrupting our otherwise unfailing bedtime routine.

“I do not like the tree eyes,” he says, crafting each word deliberately.

Wow. That’s got to be the biggest sentence I’ve heard him string together yet. He’s really motivated to get his point across. He gestures toward the closet, slides off his big-kid bed, and follows his outstretched finger with timid steps until he’s nearly touching one of the double doors. His hand shoots out to tap a large knot in the wood surface, then he turns and bolts back to his bed. He grabs the nearest teddy and squeezes it against his chest, his eyes as big and round as the bear’s.

I study the closet doors and notice for the first time the knots scattered across them in wavy, bulbous outlines. They look like alien heads or, I have to admit, eyes. And not the cute, glassy eyes of my son’s stuffed animals. These wood ones seem to move with the grain’s haphazard patterns, watching you as you watch them. My neck prickles.

“It’s okay,” I say, totally to my son. I’m about to comfort him with the fact that he’ll have his nightlight on when I realize that it’ll only let him see the “tree eyes” in dimmer light. That’s a sight even I don’t want to see. Aren’t monsters supposed to hide behind doors? I didn’t expect to have to protect him from the doors themselves. They’re wedged onto their tracks pretty tight, and I’m not that handy.

“I know,” I say, “we’ll cover them up!”

He looks skeptical, but he follows me out to the kitchen junk drawer for a roll of tape and some scratch paper. Back in his room, I make quick work of those doors. I cast each hideous, accusing eye one last glance before sealing it behind a rectangle of plain white cardstock. I rush through the process because we’re already running late on Jackson’s bedtime, and certainly not because I’m a grown woman who shouldn’t feel nervous in my own child’s bedroom at night.

I tuck Jackson in with forced calm and avoid looking at the closet anymore because the tree eyes have been blindfolded but not blinded. I have so little faith in my own solution. When I exit his room it feels like I’m retreating.

#

Half an hour later, I tiptoe toward my son’s bedroom and press my ear to the crack where each night I set the door against the frame. I listen for his steady breathing. Good. The paper covers have worked and allowed him to fall asleep. I turn to go when a sudden fluttering from inside the room turns my blood cold. It sounds like a deck of cards thrown carelessly in a game of 52 Pickup. The papers have fallen! More than one, probably all of them, as if they’d waited for me to bear witness.

My back presses against the hallway wall as I sink to my haunches, hands cradling my temples. My precious babe slumbers unsuspecting while all those tree eyes watch him! I’m too weak to go in there. Besides, I can’t protect him. I can’t protect him. They’ve invaded one of our most intimate spaces. They stare with cruel, bloodshot insomnia. And they’ll wait and watch and hover through the daytime haze too.

I pull myself back to my feet. I can’t protect him tonight. But first thing tomorrow, I’ll get a can of paint. After all, that wood colour always looked so drab. I’d just never realized until now it always looked.

Katherine Quevedo was born and raised just outside of Portland, Oregon, where she works as an analyst and lives with her husband and two sons. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in Last Girls Club, Triangulation: Habitats, Coffin Bell, The Common Tongue Magazine, Fireside Magazine, Best Indie Speculative Fiction Vol. III and IV, and elsewhere. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys watching movies, singing, playing old-school video games, belly dancing, and making spreadsheets. Find her at www.katherinequevedo.com.

Death Angel Style

Ara Hone

I arrived in the colonial river valley during the dark of the moon. No fields had been harvested, and hunger stalked the people. Inside a church, I crept among the sick—their poor, oozing flesh. My hands ached to give comfort, but my desires were spider’s webs, woven with care but powerless against the force aligned against me.

The diseased of this era developed a new symptom of seizures before death. I noted the unfortunate occurrence and tugged a blood-stained quilt over a boy’s brow, saying, “I’m sorry.”

His mother wailed—oh, how children scattered a woman’s compass. I’d do
anything—was doing everything—for my child, whose life hung on my obedience to those who’d sent me.

In this era, the disease had gathered strength, gaining upwards of a ten-fold increase in revitalizations. I collected my samples while the boy’s gaze cooled. The mother wouldn’t mourn for long.

Shouts rang from a mob assembled outside; their crude torches licked the night.

When the boy’s limbs twitched and he revived, his mother would show him to the mob. A mother’s joy often exceeded good sense. The mob, eager for someone to blame for the abomination he’d become, would choose me, the stranger in their midst. Laws disintegrated like sugar in a downpour, then, and scythes meant for reaping grain instead would swing for me.

How long must I endure this torture?

Long enough to eradicate the carriers.

I clung to our scientists’ solution. Our future and my daughter’s life depended on staying the course, but acid seared my throat when I exterminated the colonial mother.

#

I arrived in the river valley, as scheduled, during the dark of the moon. The mighty waters drew industry to its banks, but no men piloted barges by night, and no women sorted goods by day.

Disease gripped the city’s inhabitants, accelerating in this era, despite my efforts. I slipped from brownstone to brownstone, gathering evidence for the scientists. A mother held her child and keened, plucking a tight wire inside me.

Wherever I walked and gathered samples, mourners hissed, “Death Angel.”

The dutiful angel embodied her name.

#

In my present time, the spaceship’s burn sputtered phosphorus, a surgical separation between the dark of the moon and Earth. The engine’s rumble pounded against my chest—go go go. The vessel raced away from our blue marble and the stumbling, screeching things filling it from sea to sea.

The rocket sped toward hope, and I should have been glad. I’d been a runner when I was young, and when my legs tired, the saying was a bear had jumped on my back. After eras of failed interventions, I carried a bear-sized burden. Documents from pre-renovated history suggested we’d healed naturally. What if I’d refused to allow scientists to rewire me into a time-skipping freak of nature?

A diseased specimen swayed from the darkness, its child stumbling behind, and my daughter’s image pierced my heart. I set aside my suspicions.

Earth belonged to the screechers now.

#

The dark of the moon lay upon the valley of the new world where the ship landed. The Goldilocks climate welcomed humanity’s remnant. I awaited the scientists who’d eagerly shook Earth’s dust from their boots.

The towering vessel hyperventilated gray swirls. Faces pressed against thumb-sized windows stippling the ship’s exoskeleton, and an exit hatch ignited, breaking the seal.

Thrills darted fishlike through my belly, the same as when my daughter had occupied that little tank. My puppet masters pushed her forward, and the fish scattered.

Children were a joy, but they were neither logical nor durable, considering my daughter’s stumbling gait.

“We’re where we’ve always belonged,” a scientist said. “You performed brilliantly. If not, our people might still lack the will to inhabit the stars. As for you and your daughter—we’re sorry, but you understand.”

Stopping the disease had never been the goal. My knees buckled; darkness loomed. Jackals used me to shape a dreadful outcome and now expected me to shag off.

Mother’s hands that had ached to comfort all those who’d suffered awakened. Shoving the screeching creature back onto the ship, I stepped inside and blew the hatch—
—and delivered wrath, Death Angel style.

Ara Hone writes speculative fiction. Before that, she climbed grain silos to admire sunsets, joined the military when it wasn’t cool, and survived a sales career. She adores a great TV series and editing stories for Orion’s Belt. Her best advice? Drink coffee daily. On Twitter @rhondaschlumpb1 and www.storychops.com

A Lament for the Times Before

Jessica Peter

The night has never been so long, as the katydids chirp their song.
With damp hands, I pray, I hope. But they got so many to go along.

The radio, with rants and hate, brought so many to demonstrate.
I understand what’s happening, for I know what rage can create.

Then, a clamour in the streets. Lost, I shrink deep down into my sheets.
I won’t accept what’s happening; my traitor heart still skips a beat.

Tucked in, hiding in my bed, with that constant companion: dread,
I wipe my clammy hands, pulse running marathons inside my head.

While I lay sweating in the dark, a not-so-distant rifle barks.
I curl up tight, repress the sound; but now there’s screaming from the park.

A shadow creeps across the wall, the throng maintains its forward crawl.
I train my ears toward the din, and right outside, a lone footfall.

I see this city must be cursed. The next-door neighbours get hit first.
I hope and pray, and clench my fists, but now I expect the worst.

Horrific crashing from their place. I keep seeing their youngest’s face.
Nothing will be the same again; some sins can never be erased.

I shut my eyes, rest a while, pretend that no one would hurt a child.
But there’s so many in the mob, becoming ever more hostile.

Smoke slithers up from wrecks, suffocates me inside this complex.
The building shakes. My door splinters and cracks. I know that I am next.

Jessica Peter is a social worker and health researcher from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada where she lives with her partner and their two black cats. Her stories and poems all tend toward the dark, the uncanny, or the absurd. You can find her and her work in the upcoming Howls from the Dark Ages: A Medieval Horror Anthology, on Twitter @jessicapeter1, or at www.jessicapeter.net.

The Other Side

Angela Croudace

Under a satanic moon,
conjure up the breath of the dead,
stifled inhales as it trembles on the air.

The stench of bloat and decay,
of buried ancestors,
permeates amongst the vine-riddled trees.

Squirm as the planchette glides
perniciously over
the same alphabet and numbers
that taught us sweet nursery rhymes.

You expected tales from beyond,
you got a curse, supernatural in form
you'll make rings of salt,
burn your incense-
but you're unable to reverse.

Fear does not exist in our realm,
fear is in the mortal.
fear is not me,
it is inside of you.

Fear when they resurrect,
spectres unshackled from dungeon walls,
your consciousness-
GOODBYE.
…or is it?

Angela Croudace is a previously unpublished Australian writer studying creative writing at Southern Cross University. She lives in rural New South Wales with her family, dogs, and chickens. She enjoys working on short stories and poetry, with a particular interest in horror. Angela can be found on Tumblr and Instagram.

Fairy Godmother

Laura Nettles

Angela. The word tickled my mind when I was almost asleep, giving me goosebumps even though I was buried under thick blankets and a huge pile of teddy bears hugging me goodnight. She was here again.


Tell me what you wish for… I can grant it, for a small price of course. She was doing it again, asking me to wish for something. Mom always said I needed to work for what I wanted. Rainbow Teddy was for pulling weeds for a week. I ignored her.

Invisible boney fingers longer than a human’s lightly touched my shoulder as I fell sleep. Dream about it, my sweet. She started singing about children and crunchy bones.

#

Nibbles died. My tears fell to her fluffy white body, soaking into her fur as I clutched her to my chest, running to show Mom.

“She was an old rabbit, sweety. We’ll bury her tonight when Dad gets home.”

“How do I fix her?” I pleaded.

“Oh honey, there is nothing you can do. Sometimes there are things you can’t fix no matter how much you try.” She reached down to take Nibbles away but I ran to my room, hugging my first friend.

“I’ll make my first wish!” I called out.

Very good. What is it you wish for my pet? The deep woman’s voice in my mind gave me goosebumps again. I could feel her fingers in my hair as she walked around me.

“Fix Nibbles,” I whimpered.

As you wish.

She became visible, her hand rushing towards the side of my head. Something was inside my ear, tingling. Twist, crack, splinter. Knives were stabbing deep inside. I could hear the snap at the same time as my scream. Black spots filled my vision and I fell to the floor.

“Angela!” Mom ran through the open doorway, not seeing the tall, dark lady with wings. The fairy godmother chuckled. I saw what looked like a small string of three tiny bones in the creature’s hands, broken and white, ripped from inside my ear. She popped them into her mouth and began to crunch.

I looked down at Nibbles, still in my arms. She was moving, her eyes bright. Her long white ears lying flat against her head as she began to struggle, long feet flailing.

Resurrection has a high price, my dear. The words echoed through my head.

#

Six months later, the sunbeams on the funeral held in the backyard shone through the x-ray I was holding. I could see where the missing bones from my left ear I could no longer hear out of should be. My missing pieces. There was a shadow of fairy wings over the dark picture, and any other picture taken of me now.

“Do you wish to say a few words over Nibbles?” Mom asked.

I couldn’t cry for Nibbles again. I shook my head, my heart frozen. Regret hit me as vertigo, my new friend, showed up again. Ground became sky as I hit the grass. I had gotten Nibbles for only a few more months. Not worth it. I would never wish again.

#

“We have to get rid of most of our stuff so we can move to the new apartment,” Mom explained. “There won’t be as much room there. You can only take one of your old stuffed animals.”

Would that lady fairy creature be left behind with the empty home? With excitement, I dumped all my teddy bears, unicorns, and dragons into a donation bag except Rainbow Teddy. We were moving away from the mistake I had made three years ago.

We got situated in the van and drove to the new apartment complex. It was on the other side of town, twenty minutes away. But would it be far enough?

I sat Rainbow Teddy on my new twin-sized bed with a blue comforter and pulled out the polaroid camera I had gotten for my birthday. My lungs squeezed tight as the camera slipped in my clammy grip. Would she be there? Was I free?

Flash. The small picture slowly emerged from the base of the camera. I took it and held it with two fingers, waiting for it to develop.

Darkness.

Faint shapes.

I shook it to air it out more, make it develop faster. My slick fingers fumbled. The photo hit the floor. My heart dropped with it.

It was face down, picture side on the carpet.

Gingerly, I bent down to pick up my hope of a more normal life. My head tilted forward and my world flipped and spun. I froze in place, gripping the side of my bed, trying not to throw up from the vertigo. Why was I moving my head again? What was worth this?

Freedom.

Once the room righted itself and I could swallow again, I grasped the closest corner of the small polaroid and flipped it. There she was, a haze with glinting teeth that crunched bones like candy, wide dragonfly-like wings spread out behind me. She had followed. I would never be able to escape. There was nothing I could do. I would pay almost anything to get rid of this fairy
phantom so I could have my life to myself for the first time since her original nighttime whisper. No more inquiries about what I wanted and promises to fulfill every dream I could have with the price of bone. No more long, invisible fingers caressing me in my sleep while dark lullabies echoed in my mind.

You can’t escape me, my pet.

“I wish you would leave me alone and never come back.”

Crunch.

Laura Nettles is a California girl living in Canada. She lights creatures for horror films and enjoys penning her own tormenting tales. Follow her at lauranettles.com.