Reluctant Reaper

Rolling rumbling tumbling of the muscle
Steadfast working out the dead

Waiting through waves
Expulsion from womb to world; inner-outer dimension switch

Existence given visibility
Life unviable; dead tangible

The ticking clock veiled agony; pulse-quickening within the neck
Swimming through minutes in viscous shards; stark, exposed in wait

A sudden burst to cemetery-serene-silence
Shock of expectations met, tension swells and pops within the void

Her body expelled, revealed
Limp, still, disturbingly perfect

Few eyes lay upon her — none with such desperate thirst as the child-loss-mother
Tattooing details to memory
Cerebral and uterine imprints
Memories outlived instantaneously

Tiny fingers, toes, torso, fused eyes, jaw, ears…
All except the beating of the heart
Virgin lungs void of air in this, her death hours stare

My pathetic heart beats so hard it chokes the throat
The muscle has pried itself from within its cage, making way up to swell in the gullet

Don’t take her away…
Emotion sickness swells drowning from the inside
Even dead, she’s still the baby; even dead, she’s my baby, still

Must give her honour of life…somehow
Gemini mother; creator, reluctant reaper

Now her death feeds life
Entangled in root tendrils within the earth
Forever reaching within and upward

The true heart of something that doesn’t have to beat
Her cycles visibly viable

Bleary eyes can’t always see their praise of stars
Despair wracked the heart for a time

Peace isn’t only for the dead…

She sways in the wind now; dancing grace
Energy shared, scattered through leaves and bellies of beasts
She worms and she soars through them

Not the life imagined; energy shifted, realigned
Heart-wrenching, gut-punching beautiful

Death Born Still — Lives

© Natasha Sinclair 2020

Written on reflection during ‘The Wave of Light’ 15th October 2020.

Goddess in Motion

Time was not a construct in existence for the great Anantaboga. Her presence always was and always would be; aeons of sacred serenity. Beyond ‘time,’ beyond language — she the source of many a cosmic destiny. Hers was of pure, concentrated magic. Weaving and swirling through the universe — a serpent’s dance of divine grace; goddess in motion, the essence from which worlds would emerge. Moving in timeless transitions among spinning rocks of magnificent technicolour spender, among black holes that fractured into other universes from the booming demise of stars. Magic surrounded her — a goddess of gliding splendiferous, viridescence. Diamond-tipped scales adorned her muscled physique, wisps of feathered flame framed her face — ­Anantaboga sailed through infinities of dark, accented with pocketed explosions of monumental colour flanking her sophisticated dance of eternities.

Alone.

In the pit of the great Naga Jawa’s incandescent, glowing soul…forlornness of being the universal guardian gnawed. A profound ache for which no language could ever convey. Drawing on her effervescence, a poison ebbed in, speckling her colour with despair. Furious to fill the void slowly sucking at this exquisite being, transcendent meditations intensified from new desperate obsession, splitting the deity from herself. Sonic eruptions thundered through the universe from the Naga Jawa as her soul ruptured. Tremors cracked, tearing the ether pouring a new gift into physical being; Bedawang Nala, The World Turtle — Anantaboga’s offering unto herself. Baring a world upon his back, a blue globe — the delicate marbled sphere complete with its own underworld and heavens — a living breathing entity in its own right, teeming with yet more life.

All the gifts of balance were bestowed upon this new world, including precious creation itself — immortality through soul and seed a generous promise to all.  An embodiment of the heavens it would thrive in cyclical motion. Each organism imbued with unique qualities to contribute essential elements to the delicate bountiful ecosystems. Time was created within the confines of the precious orb and so it turned. Light and shadow graced the blue and green, atop the ship of gods guiding her among the cosmos.

Man quickly lost his way. The Deities warned in quakes, rumblings, heat, clearing out pockets, gifting opportunities to shift course, begin anew.

Alas, the little marble spiralled so very far, flagrantly destroying celestial given serenity, waging wars in the face of peace. Greed drained. Even as it still perched upon Bedawang Nala’s shell, the rising tumult permeated through to her, corroding. Corruption reigned on the back of The World Turtle. Warnings were given no hied; dismissed by the ever plundering populace of man. As his neglect runs rampant as an infection perfusing the little globe, Anantaboga sees she must release her beloved Bedawang Nala of the burden of the marble.

The Naga Jawa meditates encircling her creation, jaw stretching around the new rock; within, discomfort rises — her scorching breath quickens the heat rising. Sporadic bouts of flood, fire and new disease litter the green and blue. The great serpents jaw is closing in, no more warnings.

© Natasha Sinclair, 2020

This piece was inspired by the fascinating and magical stories of Javanese / Indonesian mythology. The Javanese creation theme was blended with the devastating environmental damage being caused to our planet. How would our actions be seen through the eyes of gods?

Thank you for reading! If you would like to read more Asian inspired fantasy and horror fiction – check out Insignia Stories, who are presenting and hosting Horror Matsuri throughout October 2020!

https://insigniastories.com/

Speed-Meat

Bumbling sedate-like, a year on, rotters are no different to the local junkies. Except, the rotter isn’t coming at you with its drooping face, skin pulling down at the darkened cavernous eye-sockets, hanging loose off the jawbone, slurring; “Any spare change pal?”

They’re still using that old line, except by change they mean anything that can be offered to dealers in exchange.

I prefer the real dead-walking — even they won’t touch a junkie for their fix. Shame, maybe that’d help us all; thin the heard. Though, I’m not prepared for the sight of the dead on something like speed-meat.

This drabble was first published by Reanimated Writers Press in their anthology 100 Word Bigger Zombie Bites.

The Stranger By G G Flavell

As she slowly opened her eyes, a wailing from across the dark, candlelit hall instantly reminded her of the waking nightmare. Strands of hair were embedded into her forehead and swept across her face accentuating her pale, gaunt jawline. Her eyes rolled around in fits of agony and curiosity to see what had changed, if anything, in her death chamber. The dank smell of death hung heavy in the air. It was difficult to differentiate the floor and the ceiling, the walls and the windows. It was a wooden room, almost a box, containing her contagion, awaiting the final, tighter wooden box.

The light and colourful rooms from her family estate seemed like the memories of someone else now. The songs played by her sister, Elizabeth, on the family piano, which would fill every room in the house with joy and life, swirled around her head like a wasp. The last memory she had was of her father’s face as he closed the carriage door. He had paid the doctor to bring her to London to die. There was no hope for her now. Not since the blisters emerged. He couldn’t risk infecting the rest of the family. So, his youngest and dearest daughter Emmanuelle was sent to die, alone and in agony.

Upon arriving in London, she felt what it must be like for a corpse. She was tossed about, covered up and talked about as if she weren’t there. Occasionally, a kind nurse would try to comfort her, stroking her hand and dabbing her forehead. The doctors were never kind. Poking, prodding, retching and writhing. They were equal parts fascinated and repulsed by her.

“Money can’t save you from the plague,” they would often say.

She fell in and out of consciousness so often that the living and the dream worlds sometimes merged. The fever had played wicked tricks on her. She saw herself riding back home on her beloved horse, Daisy. Naked and radiant, she galloped through the fields of Hampshire where her family awaited her arrival, dancing in jubilation. More oft than not she was floating above her own corpse, wrapped in white linen, stained by the still seeping wounds from the blisters. Her family hadn’t come to say a final farewell, she was there, dead, cold, alone and insignificant for eternity.

But sometimes, her fever brought a strange gentleman to her bedside. He had long, thick black hair that was always neatly held back and under his top hat. His eyes were grey, like when the sun bursts through a rain cloud. He had a funny moustache and an exotic accent.

“And you say she is from aristocracy?” he would ask the nurses.

Always grinning from their affirmative answers.

Of late, he was visiting her at least once a week. On this particular night, Emma had been very lucid, lucid enough to realise he had no face mask, no covering at all to protect himself. She reached up to stroke his face, for reassurance that he was indeed there. But she passed out from exertion before she could feel anything.

The nurses started wrapping her feet and legs. A sign the blisters were getting out of control. Water was the last thing her body could ingest. It seemed hopeless. It had always been so, but Emma hadn’t quite accepted it until now.

The farmer across the room from her had succumbed just an hour before. He could only have been 17. Strong like an ox, with hands like shovels and voice deeper than a well. He looked like a man of 80 as they carted his body to the mass grave.

Emma felt as though she were crying, but the sweat rendered her senses of touch useless. She no longer knew if it was night or day. It seemed a shadow had filtered her eyes; making it so that only the candle from a nurse’s hands permitted her to see so far as in front of her face.

Tonight, that candleholder was, in fact, her stranger. A Count, from what she had heard the nurses say about him after he left.

“My dear sweet Emma, a beauty such as yourself cannot be left to die here, I beg of you, let me take you to my estate, where you shall have the best of care until you are brought back to life.”

This fever truly was the devil — encouraging hope hours before her last breath. But suddenly, it slipped and lost its grasp of her. She felt a cool facecloth on her forehead as she opened her eyes. Something the fever forbid her to feel since she was first bedridden in her family home.

A fire was roaring on the other side of this grand bed-chamber. A doctor gently lifted off the cloth, rinsed it in ice-cold water and dabbed her face again. He turned to talk to someone in the corner of the room. She couldn’t make out who, but it was an unusually tall shadowy figure with piercing white eyes.

“It has broken, sir” the doctor exclaimed, “the infection is rapidly regressing, and I believe in a matter of moments she will be clear. As we both know with the last patient, this may not last long.”

The shadowy figure spoke solemnly, “you can go.”

Emma was exuberant — pinching herself to ensure this wasn’t the last, most deceitful trick of the fever yet. Rubbing her arm as she sat up in the huge bed. She remembered suddenly that the shadow was still in the room as the doctor closed the door.

The white, unblinking eyes started coming towards her. The shadow began to take form as the fire cast its light upon it. A naked male body moved toward the bed as if floating. His skin pale as snow and crooked in ways she had never seen. But he looked so powerful.

Emma froze when she saw his face. It was her stranger. His thick black hair now let loose around his shoulders. His eyes would not stop staring into hers. As he got closer, his skin was almost transparent, it was truly revolting, yet it continued to come closer.

She had wanted to say thank you. Thank you for saving her life, but she no longer felt saved. She felt…hunted. The stranger lifted his arms out as he neared the bed. Emma tried to move, but before she could blink, his teeth sunk into her throat. Drinking her in. Her virginal, thick youthful blood soaked her hair, and his, as he made noises that would haunt her soul into the abyss.

© G G Flavell 2020

About the Author:

G G Flavell is a new author based in Scotland. Inspired by the worlds created by JRR Tolkien (with the tattoo to prove it,) George RR Martin and Charlaine Harris to name just a few. He also enjoys reading philosophical works, with Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus among some of his favourites.
Unsurprisingly, his writing leans towards fantasy and dark fantasy genres. He lets his imagination take him places the real world can’t.
When he’s not writing, reading or daydreaming, he is most liking to be found cuddling the life out of his French Bulldog Romy. Yes, like Romy and Michelle.

He writes with fun in mind, with passion and with wine.

https://www.instagram.com/wandering_avthor/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/G-G-Flavell/

NaNoWriMo November 2020

November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. I’ve decided to participate this year for the first time. I reckon that this would be a rewarding challenge to jump into.
Being somewhat of a panster when it comes to writing, I am going to try blend that with a little structure and daily (nightly) target over the 30 nights. The push is very much needed! I am only at the very early (late by the schedule) planning stages. It’s decision time as to whether to use this exercise to really bite into one of my two parked WIPs, or whether to start something entirely from scratch. Either way, the aim is to plan to reach a goal of 50k words as a completed first draft in those 30 nights. No editing – this in itself will be a personal challenge, as I am a constant (probably obsessive) editor when writing.

So, with that 50k target, that gives a daily goal of 1,667 words. This is undoubtedly a mammoth task considering other life commitments to work around and for a loose gardener like myself.
But, it’ll be an epic achievement to end this crazy year on for those who participate. Decisions will be made, planning is underway, and come November 1st I’m on it!

Are you? Sign up over at https://nanowrimo.org/ to access support material for your novel writing month!

Books Releasing in October

First up is Dark Halloween, the 5th book in Macabre Ladies Holiday Horror Collection. With the eBook available for preorder now, it goes live October 6th. My 3 flash stories; ‘Interspecies Relations,’ ‘Painted Black’ and ‘Bloody Eels’ will feature among a host of Autumn/Halloween themed horror.

‘Interspecies Relations’ was inspired by some reading and artwork I was taking in around mythological creatures – particularly that of Cecaelia from Asian and North American mythology. Writing this also inspired my ‘Tentacles’ painting.

‘Painted Black’ is a little flash inspired by my youngest daughter, who rather chillingly asked me why the shadows were looking at her at bedtime one evening.

‘Bloody Eels’ is a Drabble that came from two interlinked short stories of mine ‘The Night is Mine’ and ‘Phantasmagoria.’ It is a view from a trapped spirit of the character Amy when she is in a disembodied, limbo-like state after death.

Next up is Books of Horror Community Anthology Volume 2 from the wonderful Books of Horror Publishing. Another book that can be preordered now, for October 16th release. My new short story ‘Sacrifice’ will feature alongside a mix across the spectrum of Horror.

‘Sacrifice’ was originally an idea I intended to write as a flash piece that centred around Summer Solstice. It sprouted and became a little more with some nostalgic elements entwined with themes of manipulation and betrayal.

I gained a spot with D&T Publishing, with their anthology, After the Kool-Aid is Gone. This one promises to be a ‘heavy-hitting collection’ of political horror / dark fiction. My short story, ‘Neighbours’ will feature.  preorder now for October 26th release.

‘Neighbours’ is another new story, one born during the 2020 global pandemic. Led by the MC’s internal narrative over his frustrations with the hypocrisies and selfishness of mankind, while his family-life is shattered, irreparably during ‘lockdown.’ This story is one man’s journey over the edge in suburbia.

Finally, as far as books I have stories in this October is Iron Faerie Publishing’s anthology, Hexed. Here my flash story ‘Hard Shades’ will appear. Preorder now for October 31st release.

‘Hard Shades’ came from a mind spiral evolving from ‘Painted Black’ marrying with thoughts of the theatre of vampires – though this piece is not vampiric. The dance and chase between light and dark is a classic that I enjoy playing with.

Insignia Stories — Horror Matsuri

October is a bustling month on the calendar with an abundance of projects for artists and writers to get involved in (though we do tend to have those wheels well in motion long in advance.) I have learned this very quickly this year actively subbing.
I wanted to highlight some cool, free short fiction that Insignia Stories will be featuring, as well as hosting a Blog Tour of other writers throughout October! All features are Asian inspired work from drabbles, poetry, flash and short fiction.
One for writers and readers to check out! Information on how to get involved in the tour, as well as the publishing schedule, can be found over on Insignia Stories; https://insigniastories.com/horror-matsuri-2020/
I am delighted to be sharing some work as part of this tour on 17th October, with my dark fantasy piece, ‘Goddess in Motion,’ inspired by Javanese mythology.

You don’t have to wait until October though! There is plenty of free fiction published already, not to mention this month’s imminent release of South-East Asian Fantasy Drabbles publishing on 24th September! Link for that on my ‘Books’ tab.

Reading, Writing and Subbing 2020

A little update since the sands are sure as hell quickening, if not entirely running away.

Reading this year has been pretty diverse, with an unintentional heavy focus on horror — of all flavours. I’ve also developed a taste for bizzaro horror, I’ve come across a few authors who have tickled me – a new (non) guilty pleasure for sure. If it’s gonna simultaneously grose me out and make me laugh my ass off, it’s a thumbs up!
Outwith proofreading, editing support and competition reading my ‘just for fun’ list, in no particular order, have included:


Richard Laymon – The Beast House Chronicles
Edward Lee – City Infernal (Series)
Kevin J. Kennedy – The Horror Collection (Anthology Series)
Jethro Punter – The Daydreamer Chronicles
Eleanor Merry – Dead Aware (Series)
RJ Roles – Girl’s Best Friend (Tangled Web Series)
Steve Stred – Ritual (Father of Lies Trilogy)
Matt Shaw – Deep Rooted Fetish (Short)
Duncan Ralston – In Every Dark Corner (Shorts Collection)
Darren Tarditi – Neigfrid (Novella)
Natasha Mostert – The Midnight Side (Novel)
Laurel K Hamilton – Anita Blake (Series)
K Trap Jones – Welcome to the Splatter Club (Anthology)
Ernest Cline – Ready Player One
Ernest Cline – Armada
Christine Morgan – Lakehouse Infernal
Insignia Stories – Japanese Fantasy Drabbles
Liian Varus – Is Stranged
John Black – Growlers
Iron Faerie Publishing – Hawthorn & Ash (Anthology Series)
Iron Faerie Publishing – The Best of Iron Faerie Publishing 2019
Andrew Lennon – Life to Waste
Tim Lebbon – Eden
Saemund Sigfussion, Snorri Sturluson – The Poetic Edda & The Prose Edda

Writing wise, as per my previous posts, I’ve been subbing work out this year. When it comes to responding to open-calls and invites it can be a bit like having free time (which I never do) and swanning into a well stocked library – it’s easy to get lost and devoured by the stacks! Or, maybe a more precise analogy is the old ‘kid in a sweet shop!’

The submission opportunities out there are plentiful and you can’t write or, indeed, get accepted into them all.

I’ve naturally had a preference for small press/indie publishers. Responding to these opportunities is rather nice as it takes the work out of the book building/formatting side – which is an immense amount of work on the publishing side. I massively appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes of a quality publication and am truly grateful to a part of each one who’ve warmly accepted my (often) warped little terrors into their fold.

Designing stories with specific open calls as a target has helped reign in the ideas by having a set genre or word count to meet. It’s been beneficial as I oftentimes overwhelm myself with too many ideas that get scattered around as notes and poetry that may evolve, or not. Needless to say, responding to some of the opportunities has put my other WIPs on pause, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it gives those stories and characters more time to prove and maybe keeps the demon, Writers’ Block, at bay.

Some of my published (and to be published work) can be found within the catalogue of the below Publishers:

KJK Publishing: http://www.kevinjkennedy.co.uk/
The Macabre Ladies: https://macabreladies.wixsite.com/website
Books of Horror: https://www.facebook.com/groups/526308964218819
Insignia Stories: https://insigniastories.com/
Iron Faerie Publishing: https://ironfaeriepublishing.com/
Sirens Call Publications: http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/
The Reanimated Writers: https://www.reanimatedwriters.com/

Those currently available are updated on my ‘Books’ page and links for those to come will make an appearance in due course. The below two titles are releasing in September 15th (Dark Celebration) and September 28th (Southeast Asian Fantasy Drabbles.) I am grateful to have two pieces in each alongside a TOC of talented international writers. Both anthologies are available to preorder now from Amazon, worldwide.

Painting

In a bid to quieten the noise of my ever clattering mind of dammed mayhem – which has peeked somewhat during the catastrophic year of 2020 – I’ve been painting. It feels like so much is just teetering on the edge of absolute disaster this year. I’ve started sketching and painting a little again to try help with the old back to basics breathing and slow down the hammering of heart. Playing with colour that’s slightly less messy than words. Find a smoother rhythm. Artistically this is not something I’ve done much of in years – with the littles I’m more the manager of arts.

I like the economic and environmental benefits of print on demand products compared with mass production so, beyond books, I’m giving this a whirl by sharing some Art Prints and a few other products over at Society6.

My profile is in its infancy so will grow. There are prints, notebooks and a few other items there featuring some of my artwork – continuing the Indie creative life venture! Please check it out, and if you like buy something that has unique Indie artwork printed especially to fulfil your order and give it a share – Thank you.

Natasha

https://society6.com/clanwitch

Upgaze Moon Rabbit
Moon Rabbit
Comet Stone, View towards Ring of Brodgar, Orkney
Comet Stone, View towards Loch Stenness, Orkney

Frozen Slack Still

A daughter held him, frozen.
Imitation of new dead still; only air flowing through functioning lungs.
Numb dumb in thought, inaction.
Painfilled love for this new grieving orphan.
The fallen favourite of a Mothers beloved brood.
There would be none of us had she not been; none of his Fatherhood.
A tangled barbed root from which we each came.
Some blessing amongst much insane.
Now there she lay, dead in a bed; frozen slack still.
An empty shell; once wishing well.
Dead in a bed, not even her own.
Eyes pouring in great damming floods; others uncomfortably dry as desert bone.
Through strangers’ hands she passes, between arctic fridges of steel.
Upon the final spin of the great Mothers wheel; scions on the side-lines awaiting the final reveal.
Embalmed, freshly robed in white; encased as a doll in her satin lined box.
A gift to the soil never to spoil.

© Natasha Sinclair