Taking Submissions: Darkness Wired

Deadline: September 1st, 2019
Payment: $15.00 to $20.00 and 2 contributors copies

New century – New tech – New ways to defeat the monsters?

Give us your take on the intersection of elder gods, old monsters and new technology

Are the old monsters too far behind us?

In this era where almost everyone can instant share to the web, where almost everyone carries in their pockets a powerful computer that can take movies, and record events, in a time when we are a few years away from colonizing planets — are the Elder Gods defeated? Quaint? A joke?

Would you live tweet Dagon’s forces rising from the depth to put an end to your cruise ship special? Maybe vlog Shib-Nigurath tromping trough your city park?
Or would they use the new technology to conquer this blue marble, corrupt social apps databases to elect unfit to serve, orange hued puppets. Would they alter vaccines or launch nuclear warheads?

Darkness Wired, the anthology

Unless specified otherwise, we’re looking for stories that are:

2000-8,000 words long,  original (No reprints) short story (if longer, ask first). Edited. Some minor grammatical errors will be accepted but if the submission requires major overhauls, it will be returned to you to edit before being accepted.

You must use the information provided in this link. Grab one of the events and go to town!

If accepted:
Each author receives $15.00 to $20.00. Payment is based on story length and quality.
Author copies: two paperback copies and a digital copy of the book. Register for details and upload link.

Rights
For this collection, we ask for exclusive first worldwide electronic and print rights for one year and nonexclusive rights afterwards. For reprints, we will ask for nonexclusive reprinting rights.

Formatting

First page should have:
Your name: Your name and pen name if you use your pen name.
Contact information: Email, phone
Anthology entry: Yes
Title of story: Title of your manuscript

8.5″ × 11″ layout
Times New Roman font.
Headers: 18 points font size
Body of text: 12-point font-size.
Double-spaced

Submission Period: All submissions must be received between June 10, 2019 and September 1, 2019. Any story sent before or after will be deleted unread.

We welcome everyone and want to encourage diversity and originality, work by authors from marginalized groups. If you are a person of color, you are LGBTQ, or belong to some other group that is underrepresented in the genre, we want to hear from you.

Do not send us poetry, screenplays, stories that are being considered by another market (also known as simultaneous submissions), or manuscripts without any plot (may the Elder gods piss in your cereal if you do).

Deadline: September 01, 2019

Via: NPH Zone.

Trembling With Fear 06/16/2019

Well, the twitchiness of last week has lessened. I’m still waiting on news of various submissions but I have had two acceptances which I think has helped – and yes I’ve had a rejection as well so pretty much a normal week for a writer.

On the reading front, I have been looking at teen and YA fiction for my library and trying to find horror with leading male characters. There has been such a surge in recent years of stories containing strong female voices that it has, as far as I’ve been able to tell, swung the pendulum to far that way and when a male student asks for a book, it is hard to find one to suit. Monster Librarian (https://monsterlibrarian.com/) is currently compiling a list for me and Darren Shan responded to a tweet with some suggestions but top tip to anyone out there writing YA horror – there is a gap for horror stories featuring male lead characters.

Now over to Trembling with Fear which this week starts with The Driver by Thomas Vaughn and focusses on the growing panic and increasing paranoia of a driver who suspects he has killed someone, albeit accidentally, with his car. This story cleverly picks up on those moments, which we have all experienced, when you are driving so automatically, that you don’t always remember the actions you have taken, the ‘gaps in the memory’ mentioned by Vaughn. Those gaps happen in other parts of your life as well, eg the walk home. You know you’ve done it but can’t remember doing it – and that realisation can be scary.

Evil? by S. Gepp reminds us that most creatures that attack humans are only doing what comes naturally and we are part of the food chain. What is different here is that one of those in danger is still sympathetic to the sharks around which this story centres.

Go Back by Gary Hazlewood takes us to the liminal space between life and death. Forces on one side push against the force on the other and the person on the operating table is caught in the middle. Who will win in this battle of life and death?

Solitude by Patrick Wynn is good little example of being careful what you wish for – it might not turn out as you expect.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

What a crazy week! While I was *FINALLY* getting ahead and almost have the TWF anthologies up for pre-order, I had a bit of a setback.

It is time to replace our car, about two years before we had planned for it in the budget.

So…

Yes. That happened. Please send hugs. 😉

Also, send Drabble, Unholy Trinities, and Serials! We’re getting a bit caught up on those outside of those being scheduled further out from multiple submissions from our more proactive contributors 🙂 

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

The Driver

            The driver noticed the tuft of human hair and broken headlight at the same time. He had just pulled into the carwash. The hair was wedged in the plastic covering over the bulb. Instinctively he looked around to see if anyone else was watching. Fortunately it was midnight, so the place was deserted.

            He knelt and studied the damage, removing the hair with his fingers. It was long and honey colored. There was no doubt it was much too long to belong to anything else but human. The panic began to rise in his chest. How had it gotten there? He didn’t remember an accident. Reaching inside the covering he checked to see if the bulb was still intact and felt something loose. He retracted his hand and found that it held a human tooth. He stood and examined it in the light. It was very small—clearly that of a child’s. Now the panic constricted his throat as he tried to remember the drive to the carwash. There was simply no way he could have hit a child. What would a child be doing in the street this late at night? He tried to account for every moment of the trip, but there were gaps where his mind had wandered. It is almost impossible to remain aware of what you are doing every second of every day. 

            Retrieving a flashlight from his car he lay on his back and shined it along the undercarriage. He noticed at least three different places where bloody pieces of skin were wrapped around the control springs and brake housing. He turned off the light and contemplated the implications of hitting a child. There would be guilt and reproach. His life would be ruined.

            In a sudden flash of hope it occurred to him that he might be washing the wrong car. He had parked in one of the stalls then walked to the coin machine. It was a common model and color so he sometimes approached other people’s cars in parking lots before realizing his error. Exiting the stall he stood back and looked at all of the openings. They were all empty except his. That was when he heard the sirens. He stood like an alerted deer, tracking their progress across the city. He tried to remember his route. Had he come in from the north or the east? They were both equally plausible. He gauged the sirens to be coming from the northeast, but he couldn’t be sure. The fog was playing tricks with sound.

            With his mind racing the driver hurried into the stall and put coins in the slot, his hands trembling. The reassuring spray initiated and he returned to the front of his car. That was when he noticed the tooth was missing. Where the hell had it gone? He was sure he had put it on the hood—or had he? He looked around at the pavement to see if it had fallen. There was nothing. Now the fear migrated to his limbs and he began frantically washing his car, taking special care to blast the human remains off the undercarriage and into the drain.

            When this was done he replaced the hose and studied the vehicle. He was somewhat comforted by the fact that it looked good as new. He began to calm down. Once he fixed the headlight it would be like the whole thing never happened. There was the problem of the tooth, but it had probably slipped to the pavement. Certainly no one would pay attention to such a small thing. He was thankful that the sirens had stopped.

Then he saw the bloody drag marks. Why hadn’t he noticed them before? Walking back into the parking lot he traced their progress from the road to his stall. There was something lying on the ground. He picked it up. It was a piece of bloody fabric. The color and design reminded him of something a child would wear. The panic returned.

How could he hit and drag a child without realizing it? Wouldn’t he remember doing such a terrible thing? But how can you trust your memories? We all die moment by moment only to be reborn into a new unreality. How can you be sure of anything when you are nothing but a transient observer, doomed to grapple with an alien world that is constantly changing? How can you trust a phantom self that died the moment it was born? The person who drove to the carwash was dead and now he was left to sort through this stranger’s crimes from inconclusive fragments of memory.

Looking at the bloody fabric the driver visualized the police investigating the accident scene, then noticing the drag marks. Soon they would follow them to the carwash. Driven by guilt and fear he stumbled back to his car, tossing the fabric onto the passenger seat as he got in and started the engine. Pulling onto the street he drove away from the carwash in the opposite direction from his home. He hoped he had been thorough when he washed the car, though a part of him wanted to go back and confess. As he contemplated that option, the ramifications were simply too awful to imagine. The best thing to do was look for a place to get rid of the bloody fabric. Perhaps he would drive by a dumpster. He reached over to make sure it was close at hand, but found that it was gone. Instead his hand closed on something else. He held it under the pulsing glow of the passing streetlights. It was the tooth. The driver pressed on the accelerator, fleeing toward a nightmare that rushed to greet him like an amorous lover—the two of them entwined in a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth.  

Thomas Vaughn

Thomas Vaughn is a speculative fiction writer whose work encompasses literary horror, science fiction and dark magical realism. He is a byproduct of the debris field of rural Madison County Arkansas, a place he calls the archive of pain. When he is not writing fiction he is a college professor whose research focuses on apocalyptic rhetoric and doomsday cults.

 

Brokentransmitter.com.

Evil?

The high dorsal fin sank beneath the waves.

“Come on!” screamed Joelle frantically.

Darren swam as hard as he could, striking out for the boat.

Joelle scanned the water, but could see nothing. “Come on!” she urged. They both knew it was still out there.

He finally reached the edge of the boat and hauled his chest up. “I hate sharks,” he growled wearily. “They’re evil.”

“They’re animals. It’s just hungry,” Joelle said, grabbing his arms to heft him out of the ocean.

“Easy for you to say,” Darren replied as the blood from his torso stained the water red…

 

S.Gepp

S.Gepp is an Australian who has been writing for a number of years in the horror, fantasy, sci-fi and humour genres. Tertiary educated, former acrobat and professional wrestler, a father of two and well past 40 years old, he hopes to be a real writer when he grows up.

Go Back!

The first face she saw was that of the old lady speaking silent words. As her vision cleared more faces came into focus, they too were speaking.

“Don’t go,” begged a middle-aged man.

The woman glanced nervously around. A surgeon bending over an operating table, a nurse stood beside a life-support machine awaiting the surgeon’s decision; her hand poised over a red switch.

The surgeon stared calculatingly at his unconscious patient.

“Please help us, you have to return,” the man requested.

An ethereal force was drawing the woman away. She turned, “Why?”

He murdered us all! You must go back…”

 

Gary Hazlewood

With two novels to his name and when not watching soccer Gary enjoys writing short horror tales. He lives a hectic family life outside of a small town in the north of England.

Solitude

All his life Henry just wanted to be left alone, people just seemed to get under his skin. In elementary school Henry had no friends and he didn’t want any. He always ate lunch alone, spent time at recess looking for bugs, frogs or other little creatures he felt comfortable with. Middle school, high school and college were much the same he only interacted with people when necessary. But after all this time Henry sat watching a bug crawl across the grass he finally realized being alone was an awful existence, it almost made him sorry he released that virus.

Patrick Wynn

Patrick J Wynn is an author of short stories that contain shades of horror, humor and are just a touch weird. You can follow him on his Facebook page and look for his short story collections on Amazon.

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With S. L. Edwards

Today we’re sitting down to interview one S. L. Edwards. Part man, part weredog, part lover of olives and mayo*, he is also the creator of the upcoming collection ‘Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts’.  The work has an introduction by Charles P Dunphey and is described as follow: “Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts debuts a meteoric new voice in modern dark fiction. In these tales, you’ll discover the humanity of horror, and the traumas that birth ghosts of all kinds. From inner demons to the bloodied fields of war, Edwards maintains his unique voice while whispers of classic writers such as Arthur Machen and Thomas Ligotti shine through. Edwards enters the contemporary dark fiction crowd with a standout collection that is likely to cement his position amongst the modern greats.

 

*S.L. hates olives and mayo with a passion rarely found outside of a zealot who has found the latest person they feel is against their own cause and the two must be offered to him at all available opportunities.

 

Horror Tree (HT): Mr. Edwards, what can you tell our readers about your upcoming blasphemous work known only as ‘Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts’?

  1. L. Edwards (SLE): First, thanks for having me, Stuart. I broke into the scene largely because of what you do at Horror Tree. The site was a gamechanger, and really allowed me to get my foot through the door. It’s an honor to be here, talking about my debut collection.

So that brings me to the collection. “Whiskey” is a collection of twelve stories (plus a bonus story after the Afterword). Each story has an illustration from the incomparable Yves Tourigny. I may be biased, but I think this is his best work. It’s called “Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts” because the stories are, at their core, about the things that haunt us. Violence, intimate and political. Mistakes. Addictions. Deals made between people who you never know. Devastating obsessions. The “ghosts” in these stories are more thematic than literal, and the supernatural merely serves as a catalyst for horrors that were already there. Latent variables brought to the forefront. They focus on a variety of characters, who I came to know pretty well in the course of writing.

I’m proud of it, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I’m a little anxious too. The writing community has been very kind to me, and I just hope I can make people proud. Charles P. Dunphey, in particular, has taken me on as a new writer and I owe him so much for it.

HT: You enjoy bringing back characters from your stories and revisiting them in new tales. Does this collection contain any crossover in characters from your other works? Any from within the collection itself?

  1. L. Edwards: Originally, there were going to be two stories containing a character named “The Matchmaker.” The Matchmaker is a mix of internet urban legends, myths coming out of the intelligence world, and a bit of an autobiographical monster. The premise of the Matchmaker was relatively straightforward, this is a person (question marks on “person”) who people can summon by leaving very specific amounts of money in a very specific pattern. There are different Matchmaker “maps” for major urban areas across the world. And once properly hired, the Matchmaker will arrange one murder for their client to carry out. Essentially, the Matchmaker allows people to kill other people, but with no consequences. However, one of those stories got cut.

    But as I was assembling “Whiskey,” the tone of the collection became quite clear. It would have been difficult to bring in Congressman Marsh (my politically Lovecraftian character), or Joe Bartred (my occult detective). I enjoy writing those characters and a few others, but I would like to have enough material to collect these characters into their own collections later on down the road.

HT: Do you feel that any of the stories found within will lead to other tales of involving spirits? Your call on if I mean alcohol, nonphysical beings, or both!

SLE: Oh, I think they already have! I’m currently shopping around another collection, entitled Monsters of the Sea and Sky that follows similar themes from Whiskey. Particularly, the stories in Monsters build off of the DNA established in “Cabras” and “Volver Al Monte,” which kind be found in the latter half of Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts. The “spirits” in these stories are centered around political violence, it’s cyclical nature and repeating consequences. There is something profoundly sad to me in peace being a divisive issue. It’s very rare for groups to make peace with their friends, instead it is by necessity that peace be made between groups and nations that do not trust each other. That have no reason to trust each other! And for this reason, we conflict repeated over, over and over again.

As for nonphysical beings, most of my monsters are remarkably physical. When they’re not people, they’re monsters in the most straightforward sort of sense. But I did take some of the themes of “Maggie Was a Monster” and “I’ve Been Here A Very Long Time,” and put them into another story involving adolescence, growing up and finding first loves. I don’t want to give too much away about “Please Don’t Worry,”  as it’s coming from Hinnom Magazine this year. But it was a profoundly personal, painful story. I am very proud of it, and I hope readers enjoy it as much as it pained me to write it.

Now alcohol…you know, a lot of my characters sit around drinking whiskey! It’s become something of a cheap way for me to make excuses for writing long, philosophic conversations. Maybe that will be a running joke one day: “You know you’re in an S. L. Edwards story if you’re speaking Spanish and drinking whiskey.”

HT: Did any other authors inspire the specific works in this collection? If so, who and how?

SLE: I did, but I have to say I draw a lot of my writing from outside the horror community. Boris Pasternak and Vasily Grossman were big influences on me. Pasternak is pretty well-known, but Grossman is sort of the entire tragedy of WWII wrapped up in one sad human life. He was a war correspondent traveling with the Red Army, and a Ukranian Jew. The things he saw and the profound personal loss the war cost him are written across his masterful novel “Life and Fate.”

For horror influences, there’s a lot of Poe. Lovecraft, of course. To an extent I think all of us live in Lovecraft’s shadow, and I also think that’s okay. Algernon Blackwood’s cosmic horror approach to nature made its way into “The Case of Yuri Zaystev.” Neil Gaiman’s ironic fantasy also shows up a few times too.

HT: Anyone who follows you on social media will instantly recognize your love of doggos. While I understand this love, can you share a bit of your passion for our furry four legged friends with the world?

SLE: The more I come to know people, the more I like dogs. I grew up with, and still have an extreme fur allergy. It was particularly bad with cats. But when you’re a withdrawn child, given to mood swings and just days of bitterness you don’t understand, that can be very hard. If I’m going to be honest, a lot of my childhood I often felt like I was underwater, or on a different planet, when my peers spoke. It led me to alienate more people than I wanted to, and I tended to have a difficult time making new friends.

So there’s something to be said, for someone who is always happy to see you. Someone who doesn’t care about how awkward you are, someone who always wants to sit with you. Someone who doesn’t care about the news, or how you feel about your job, or how much the rent costs. Just someone who loves you, unconditionally. Who always dances when you come home, who always wags their tail.

I don’t have anything against cats now, I want to make that clear. But I get very severe allergy attacks around them. A few people have told me that you can grow to tolerate it, but it’s very difficult for me. I instead enjoy pictures of cats.

HT: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck was a ghost?

SLE: Three. But poorly.

HT: If you could write something with any other author who would it be and why?

SLE: You know, that’s a very difficult question for me. I’m quite reluctant to answer, because the idea of a collaboration is quite intimidating to me. I don’t know how the mechanics works, and can be quite flighty with my schedule. For these reasons, I don’t think I would make a very good collaborator at all. The closest I’ve come is writing a character for Jonathan Raab’s Kottoverse. And while that was fun, I’m not sure that it would be easy to do again.

Of course the obvious answer is Yves, who did the vast majority of the heavy lifting in crafting Borkchito. He deserves credit for that.

But there are a few I think would be fun. John Linwood Grant pays such intensive attention to his characters that it would be impossible to turn him down. I’d be honored to get the opportunity to work on something with Misters Dry or Bubbles one day. Mer Whinery…it’d be great to do an Oklahoma/Texas sword-and-sorcery tale one day. My old Ravenwood friends, John Paul Fitch or Russell Smeaton…

But then there are the dreams. These are authors who, if they approached me (please don’t approach me) would be very difficult to turn down. Gwendolyn Kiste is obviously my hero, as is Nadia Bulkin. Those two are just modern powerhouses, I am in awe of everything they do. S.P. Miskowski is another one. Jon Padgett once threatened to collaborate with me but luckily I was able to weasel my way out, I’m not sure I could that again. Most of these folks though, for good reason, don’t collaborate. And again, I’m just not sure what kind of collaborator I would be. I am sure I will try one day, but for now I’m perfectly happy playing in my own sandbox and inviting people in.

HT: It is said that your nemesis is the wickedly evil Edward L. Samuels (though the way he tells it, you’re the villain in his story.) What can you tell us about this man of mystery?

SLE: E. L. Samuels lives in the corner of your eyes. He is impossibly tall, and flickers in the light. In the night he’ll sing songs to you, but each of them are lies. Sometimes the wind will last too long, settle on your hair and that space just behind your ear. Do not turn around. When the lights flicker, the shadows in the corner seem to change. Keep looking forward. Before you go to sleep, you may hear a laugh. Just sleep. Please, just sleep.

HT: What advice would you give to an author who is just starting out?

SLE: Even just 45 minutes of exercise a day can lead to better health, including better sleep. The average person needs 8 hours of sleep a night, and eight cups of water in a day. Remember that: 8 hours, 8 cups. Try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables whenever possible. Substitute darker lettuce for iceberg when you’re eating a hamburger. And a balanced breakfast is actually HEALTHIER than no breakfast at all.

HT: Do you have an ideal writing environment?

SLE: Well…can I afford one? No. Ideally I’d like to right in some mountain cabin, drinking dark coffee out of a metal cup. I would wear flannel, and pet a corgi as it gently rested on my lap. After dinner with the people I love I would retire once more to writing.

But no, no I don’t have one now.

HT: Short story collections have been making a comeback in recent years, what inspired you to put one together and do you feel that this is a trend which will continue?

SLE: I’ve always wanted to get a collection in people’s hands, and for a very long time I knew I wanted it to be called “Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts.” The idea of drinking scared me quite a bit when I was younger. I wasn’t an athletic kid, but was a smart one. My grades were everything to me. My state of mind was everything to me. And I was terrified that alcohol and other drugs would just annihilate myself. This led to the titular story, “Whiskey and Memory,” which has undergone many revisions since I first wrote it. So I’ve always wanted to get a collection together. These days I actually prefer them to novels. You get a better sampling of what author has to offer.

I do think it will continue, by necessity. There are so many talented writers in Weird Fiction right now, and the ranks are only growing. There isn’t a lot of time for people to just generate novels. Less time to read them. As break out voices emerge, readers will want to sit down with a whole collection of the author’s works. I’m still dying, for instance, for collections from authors like Brooke Warra, Christopher Ropes, William Tea and John Paul Fitch. I’m over the damn moon that Betty Rocksteady’s collection is finally coming out this summer (check it out, y’all). So yeah, I at least hope it will continue.

HT: What else would you like to share with the readers and authors who spend time at the Horror Tree?

SLE: First of all, thank you for reading this. Putting a collection together is a stressful. Getting it out there is even more so. I hope that I’ve inspired some interest in “Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts.” If so, I hope you leave a review on Jeff Bezos’ evil empire, or on goodreads. Reviews make or break independent authors and publishers, and I could use your help.

My other is a plea to check out the following emerging writers, who I may or may not have mentioned before: John Paul Fitch, Russell Smeaton, William Tea, Rob F. Martin, Brooke Warra, Jordan Kurella, Sarah Walker, Can Wiggins, Sean M. Thompson, Mer Whinery so many others. Support independent presses like Charles P. Dunphey’s “Hinnom,” Jon Padgett’s “Vastarien,” Scott R. Jones “Martian Migraine,” Robert S. Wilson’s “Nightscape” Doug Draa’s “Weirdbook.” These folks are on the frontlines of new weird fiction, new horror fiction. They are going to be the ones finding and promoting weird authors. Duane Pesice is also really good about that with every anthology he edits.

And even more established writers could use your help and dollars. I cannot recommend the works of Gwendolyn Kiste or Nadia Bulkin enough. Same for S.P. Miskowski. John Langan. Michael Wehunt. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy. Kurt Fawver. Matthew M. Bartlett We live in a golden age of sorts, but it only lasts as long as readers keep reading. So I encourage you to give those good folks your time, your energy, and just a bit of your money.

And this gets to my last thing: authors, support each other. Particularly you new ones. Your fellows are going to be your first readers, and your first advocates. But you are responsible for lifting them up too. Promote your fellow writers: it’s the right thing to do.

‘Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts’ is available for pre-order on Amazon! (Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.)

Taking Submissions: Timeless 2

Deadline: August 31st, 2021
Payment: Royalties

  • Deadline – August 31st, 2021
  • Publication – November 2021
  • Word Count – 5,000-15,000
  • Theme – Anything involving a twist on old fairy tales, whether it be the classics or lesser known ones.
  • Note: As long as you keep to the theme, originality is fully appreciated. Cliff-hangers are more than welcome.

Submission Guidelines.jpg

* Introduction of yourself should be a short biography in 3rd Person between 100-200 words. Upon acceptance, this will be used within the anthology. Send a bio with every single anthology submission. We work with hundreds of authors and will not take time to retrieve yours from a previous anthology.

* Poetry submissions: All poetry needs to be contained within a single e-mail. Each poem should be in a separate document. Haikus may be grouped together.

* All e-mails should be addressed to “Dear Editor.”

After receiving edits back, the author has two weeks to return the submission for formatting.

All submissions will be reviewed within thirty (30) days of the anthology’s submission deadline. This ensures submission calls do not close early and gives everyone a chance to submit. You will know your submission has been received for consideration by receiving a generic response. Whether accepted or rejected, you will always receive a response.

View our blog articles on how to submit to a publisher and how to write a proposal.

 

Failure to submit following all of the guidelines will result in an immediate refusal. You are able to submit again before the submission call deadline.

 

Rating – Check each anthologies‘ rating.
Word count – Check each anthologies‘ word count requirements.

Antho

E-mail address to submit to – [email protected]

 

NOTICE –  Failure to submit correctly will result in refusal of submission.

Via: Dragon Soul Press.

Unholy Trinity – Let’s Trip

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.

MIZARU – BIRTH.

What happened to the mute girl was unspeakable.

A brother discovered her, sprawled upon the monastery steps.

Sanctuary and time allowed broken bones to heal; her slowly expanding belly speaking volumes regarding what had been endured.

When the time came, she mimed silent screams as she pushed the bastard out into this world.

One. Another. Then one more.

Leaving her to gaze upon the brood, the monks huddled, unsure of such portents.

Until the infants wailing ceased. Concerned, they returned.

To watch the babes suckle upon the bloody trickle that ran from the sockets where their mother had no eyes.

 

KIKAZARU – LIFE.

Of the three children, there was no doubting who was leader. First to draw breath, guiding his siblings, choosing what path they walked.

In his eyes, they were alike, both in skin and what lay beneath, and inside this unity lay their strength.

One heart, mind and soul.

So, when two happened upon the third, hands trembling, blue faced beauty lying at his feet, the eldest knew the sin had to be shared.

Crying tears of relief, the youngest took to the shadows, hands clasped to head, drowning out the sound.

As the boys each did one of their own.

 

IWAZARU – DEATH.

Those in the middle can see in both directions, he whispered, taking his seat.

Decades had passed since they had broken bread; each brother’s existence an escape from the shade of the others.

He had heard talk of their sins. The eldest, greedy and ruthless, fortune built upon the cruellest exploitations. The youngest, driven by lust, defined by violence.

Studies taught him of the shark; how their foetuses feast upon one another within the womb.

Savouring his first bite of meat, he gave thanks that he finally could have his family for dinner.

Then promised he’d never mention them again.

Steven Holding

Steven Holding lives with his family in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His work had been published in FRIDAY FLASH FICTION, THEATRE CLOUD, AD HOC FICTION and MASSACRE MAGAZINE. Most recently, his story THREE CHORDS AND THE TRUTH received first place in the INKTEARS 2018 flash fiction competition. He is currently in the process of completing a number of new short pieces of fiction and is also working upon a novel. You can visit his website at www.stevenholding.co.uk

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