The Chattering

By Donna L Greenwood

Very honoured to have this short listed in the ‘Close But No Cigar’ category for Molotov Cocktail Magazine’s Shadow Award 2018.

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The Chattering

As the blissful unknowing rest weary, and sleep,

Dreaming of pointless and meaningless things,

From the edges of darkness, the Chattering creeps.

 

Shadowed and shapeless, it snickers and sneaks.

Into the minds of babies, it chatters and sings,

As the blissful unknowing rest weary, and sleep.

 

Its emptiness yawns, and milk-wet mothers weep

As their dreams unravel with the horrors it brings.

From the edges of darkness, the Chattering creeps.

 

It enters the innocent to sow what they’ll reap;

Nattering its promises of madness and sin,

As the blissful unknowing rest weary, and sleep.

 

The universe is pitiless; its secret it keeps,

But the abyss is opening; the end bell rings,

From the edges of darkness, the Chattering creeps.

 

The dark hallelujah of nothingness seeps

Into the splayed-out souls of the faithful and weak.

As the blissful unknowing rest weary, and sleep,

From the edges of darkness, the Chattering creeps.

The Groom

No one can stop him tonight – not on his wedding night.

By Donna L Greenwood

The bride runs down the street, her wedding train glistening under the mad glare of the moon.  She stumbles forward, trying not to fall or cut her feet on the hard, cold stones.   Her mouth and eyes are wide with terror but another emotion is fastened to her face – anger.  The bride knows she will find no sanctuary in this place – though curtains twitch and candles flicker – nobody will open their doors for her tonight.

He glides behind her – all polish and poise.  His pale and delicate hands gesticulate in the night, conducting an orchestra only he can see.  The Groom does not hurry for he knows his bride has nowhere to hide.  He waves royally at the dark windows and smiles when huddled figures duck out of sight.  No one can stop him tonight – not on his wedding night – it is his right to pursue what has been bound to him by the laws of God and man.

“Please!” screams the bride at the faceless houses, “For God’s sake, somebody help me!”  A soft and distant echo of her own despair is the only answer to her plea.

Finally her strength bleeds out and she falls down defeated in the street.  The Groom is upon her like lichen.  He presses his face close to hers and he gulps down her breath and he licks off her skin and he drinks in her sweat and tears.  He burrows inside her and he devours and devours until there is nothing left but bones and a blood-wet wedding dress.

As the early morning sun laces its insipid yellow fingers around the street, the townsfolk find a single red rose lying in the gutter where the bride’s body had been.

It isn’t long before some foolish girl, with dreams of romance in her heart, skips by and claims the red rose for her very own.

We Are All Alone When The Dark Comes

devil

By D.L. Greenwood

In the dark it clicked. She knew from the sound it wasn’t human.  There was something insect-like about the way it skittered across the floor.  Sometimes it came so close to her that she could smell it.  It smelled like the drains when her mother needed to get a man round to fix them.  Mostly it kept its distance and just scuttled around the blackest corners of the dark which surrounded her.  She couldn’t find her feet or her fingers but she was free to walk around, avoiding the corners, of course.  She wasn’t frightened because most of the time she could hear the people talking and that made her feel safe.

There was a chink of light in her dark world and this also brought her comfort. The thing in the corner hated the light and so the girl huddled within this small bar of brightness, listening to the voices, smiling when she heard laughter, crying when the mood turned sorrowful.

She missed her mother’s face and sometimes tears would fall.  This excited the creature in the shadows and it would move closer to her, hissing and clicking and clattering.  One time, when her tears fell more heavily than usual, it came up close and she felt its hot and rotten breath upon her face.  And then with one spiteful hiss, it sliced her cheek with something sharp – A claw?  A talon?  Her blood had fallen as quickly as her tears.

She was lying within her small patch of light when she heard the voices talking once more.  Her mother was crying.  Yes, she was sure it was her mother.  She was pleading with someone,

“No, no, please, we need more time, we need more time.”

The girl frowned.  She had never been able to discern the words before.  Then a voice, male and authoritative,

“I’m sorry, Mrs Geddes, but we have done all we can.  Mary has been brain dead for some time now.  It is only the machine that is keeping her alive.”

The girl recalled that her name was Mary.  In the darkness, she heard the creature begin to stir.  From a distant world that was no longer her own, the sound of weeping was merging with the sound of a machine bleeping.

“Mary, my Mary!” howled the woman who was her mother.

And then the bleeping and the weeping stopped.

‘Mummy?’ whispered the girl in the silence, a solitary tear falling from her lash.

The light blinked out.

Behind her the thing in the dark grew large; the girl screwed up her eyes tightly and her face grew hard.  She wiped away her tears and turned to face her foe.  The darkness was her territory now, and she would fight for it.

 

The Bone Queen by Donna L Greenwood

 

vintage_bride_queen_mum_by_mementomori_stock-d5oiax1 (2)As published by ‘Occulum’ magazine and long-listed in the InkTears competition 2017

Dust and rot fill her mouth as she eats.  The food is cloying.  It does not sit well.  She is alone but for the sycophantic phantasmata who surround her, constantly back-combing her nerves.

In her palace of filthy black, her bony fingers strain the muck, searching for someone who will not cower when she smiles.  Her hands bring back nothing but detritus and her heart remains parched and un-whole.

“It has to be a prince,” she tells the fades as they clown and cartwheel around her.

And so they go in search of a prince who will break the spell.  Their mistress is all bone and cannot weep for lack of wet.  Her need is their greed so they hunt with teeth and lungs that scream down the night.

They find a lowly man sitting in an ordinary place, weeping over some poem.  He cannot understand the noise that the wind makes as it blows through his mouth and his mind but he knows that he must search for her.

He reaches her palace, dreaming of madness and art, and he begins to weep again, for the ground is hard and the air spikes his throat.

As she smells his tears, her shrunken heart rejoices.  Her skeletal hands lift her robes and she clicks and clacks through the murk, searching for his light.  Her body quickens, for a thousand years of dust have made her desire unfathomable.

He sees her through the gloom; her eyes are the sea and he sails and he sails.  He takes her bones and he holds them and he sings her flesh back and he sings her heart full.