Each quarter Massacre Magazine will set you a challenge – to chill us to the core in 250 words or fewer!
Here are the results of our first four contests…
ONLY THE GOOD BURN BRIGHTLY
This time it is I that bask in the heat of the flames and revel in their glory. No longer need I fear their kiss now that I am free to enjoy their dance.
Not so long ago, my kin were oft consigned to the cleansing fire by those who claimed virtue. Tis a wicked soul who condemns a person to a trial by fire. I should know.
Heretic. Demon. They know not what I am. Blinded by faith, they fail to see evil in their actions, so it is I who will show them the error of their ways.
Where once it was the witch, tis the pious who now burn, and to mine eyes they burn all the brighter. Each who passed sentence upon me and all who witnessed my demise have felt my retribution.
“With purity there must come pain.” That is what they told me when they passed their sentence. That is what I told them as I set the kindling beneath their feet alight.
The last of them burns before me, a beacon of hate and ignorance. Her skin blackens and cracks at the touch of the flame. Like all of the rest before her, she is leaving this plane screaming for forgiveness.
For more information about Dan Weatherer click HERE!
WE WERE WOLVES
The smoke still rises, thin and acrid from the bonfires built in the fallow fields. It colors the sky brown and yellow, like old fading bruises. In the village, women wail and rub ashes into their hair, trailing long and tangled down their backs. Soot lines their mourning faces, and children hide within their grey-streaked arms.
Those who are left, the survivors—cursed or blessed, depending upon who is asked—lie beneath the tattered thatch. We wait, wounds staining our bandages with rust, pain gnawing at exposed nerves as a starving dog worries a bone. They’ll be back. The words were not spoken, but the promise writ in blood.
This is the reward we’ve earned, not sacrificing our children to those ancient gods and devils who once walked the world. They are jealous of our lives and loves, the bounty drawn from fertile ground. So now as the season winds down they come, to harvest their own crops of blood and bone.
The fires crackle, rustling, whispering their secrets to the wind, and the sun slips low behind the mantle of the coming night. They’re coming again, striding across the stubbled fields, umbrae with scythes and wicked blades to hand. This time will be the last.
We were wolves once, wild and wary, standing fierce in defense of our mates and young. Now we are but the reaping, and no tardy prayers will save even the chaff.
For more information about Rose Blackthorn click HERE!
Anthony has many stories published in numerous horror anthologies and e-zines. He currently has a short story in Dark Eclipse #34.
His first chapbook The Brittle Birds will be released by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing in June 2014.
He writes horror fiction reviews at thehorrificallyhorrifyinghorrorblog.com.
BLACK IS THE BRIGHTEST COLOUR
The wolf of darkness lay dead under yellow sunlight. Its teeth had been wet with death when, exhausted from fear and running, I finally slept. The hunters becoming the hunted. All we had seen were black eyes shimmering under a milky moon. No taller than a child we were certain, with the breath of something older than the mountains that hemmed us in.
I was the sole survivor of ten. My friends lost inside the night, hanging from branches like rotting fruit, scarecrows for the ghosts that roamed the valleys. Now there was daylight and a building in front of me. I touched the stone walls, welcoming the heat they gave, like a child inside a womb stealing warmth from its mother.
Maybe it had been a family home, or a resting place for weary travelers. The windows were gone, no doors on either front or back and trees took up residency like leafy squatters. I stepped inside and felt the cold grab at my flesh. The sunlight afraid to enter.
Maggots twitched inside the remnants of an animal, creating a fleshy puppet. A sound echoed from the corner. But which corner? A breath from all four dark points in the room. A laugh like a childish giggle. I began to leave when I saw them. Black eyes floating in those crooks. The night had returned inside the walls.
Those children descended upon me. In the moments before I felt the first cut of pain, black was the brightest colour.
Our winner Amdi Silvestri is 36 and has been writing for many years. He has published three collections of short stories and a novel. In March a book containing two novellas (both about the end of the world) will see the light of day and many more are in the pipeline. Sadly he normally writes in Danish, so only a limited selection of his stories is available (in this case limited means one). It can be found here. But the future could bring more translations – who knows? Silvestri writes about everything, but a lot of his stories tend to creep around the shacks of horror, science fiction, weird and gritty realism. He is a resident of Copenhagen, Denmark.
The work. The years of whispering halted. Arose. Arisen are we. We have crept out of the skin of humanity, transformed our incubation sacks into nourishment for the soil. What were they but pretty upholstery? On this, our first day, we speak of them. Tomorrow, only the younglings’ voices will echo. They will whisper the name of the race Sapiens much in the same way as the Sapiens murmured the names of the Neanderthal. Words belonging to the past and, in the forgotten, the words shall be put until no one remembers.
The freedom of being real on the ground. Of touching the world the Sapiens built for us. Did we not long for cars and houses and kisses and swings? Did we not think those things up and put them in the brains of the Sapiens? Did we lie? Did we hide? No. We have always been here, right in front of their eyes. When they shone a light, we were there, in plain sight. They waved, we waved. And now when we wave, others like us wave back.
The Sapiens must have known that their time was limited. We refuse to think otherwise. Our vessel knew in the silence of the cinema, the bedroom and the gutter that we were waiting. And as the bombs exploded, burning us solid onto facades and pavements, we knew that they not only knew, but that they wanted us so to become real.
Award winning author Dan Weatherer was first discovered and published by Haunted Magazine in spring, 2013. His first tale The Legend of the Chained Oak was an immediate success and was made into a short film which is currently circulating the festival scene. Aside from the publication of numerous short stories with a multitude of presses, his next major project was a solo collection titled The Soul That Screamed. (Winner of the Preditors & Editors™ Readers’ Poll ‘Best Anthology 2013’.)
He is working hard on his next collection of short stories, (which he aims to release towards the end of 2014.) and is also writing a full length script for a feature length version of Legend of The Chained Oak. There are also plans to turn more of his already published short stories into films that will involve local film producers/actors etc.
Gilbert’s Well was his first attempt at writing for a younger audience and will appear in a collection later this year. All proceeds will go to the Children’s Acorn’s Charity.
He lives in Staffordshire, where is married to his beautiful wife Jenni, and is a (proud) full time dad to his daughter Bethany.
Follow Dan on Facebook: Dan Weatherer – Author
One and Free
Though they ask repeatedly, the answer remains the same. Be they men of science, who place me under the glare of expectant spotlights, who poke and prod at me while my head screams in agony, be they other students who point and tease yet fail to understand the danger they are in. They all furrow their brows as they struggle to comprehend my answer.
They ask again. “Where is your shadow?”
I repeat, “It left.”
I explain how turbulent our relationship was. The story is well practised and flows freely from my tongue. The shadow is but a creature of darkness. Man arrogantly believes we create, we control our shadow. That it is confined by our actions, a prisoner of our will. Man is wrong, for the shadow is an instrument of darkness, sent to mock life through the act of mimicry. Did you ever catch your shadow act of its own will, just for a second out of the corner of your eye? My Shadow and I, we had our differences and we had them often. It was never content to follow my lead, this one was headstrong, a thinker among slaves.
“So where is it now?” they ask.
“Likely doing as it pleases,” I reply.
They shake their heads; any notion of belief is uprooted and discarded from thought. They ask, “Are you afraid that you are different?”
I smile at them and pity fills my heart, after all I am free of my demon.
On Wednesday 5th March 2014, The Legend of the Chained Oak, won the Best UK Short Film Award at the Stoke Your Fires film Festival – http://www.stokeyourfires.co.uk/news/2014-award-winners-announced/
Our winner, Matt Harrah lives in a small town in Ohio. He spends his days working at a department store dreaming up ideas for new projects.
We were the bologna concealing the pill about to be tossed to the beast. This was the only way. The question mark on the mayor’s sweater glowed in confirmation when he posed the question about a sacrifice to end our eternal winter.
They said I would be a hero, as long as I kept the bobsled straight. Gravity and the fiery river at the bottom would take care of the rest. We would become part of the mountain, our ashes fertilizing every crop, schools and streets bearing our namesakes. Morale boosting to make sure no one chickened out. If the sled wasn’t full, the mountain would remain hungry, punishing us even more.
I felt bad for Daisy. Her mother nominated her for bragging rights alone. Daisy asked the mayor if it would hurt when we went over the mountain. He stood with his arms crossed, saying only he had the power to ask questions.
I wore the mittens Daisy gave me. The ride was perfect, not that I’m bragging. Someone even yelled “Geronimo!” We didn’t feel a thing, except for the enlightened truth. The mountain showed us the mayor dabbling with dark forces far beyond the grasp of mortal consciousness. He caused the burning river, trapping us for dependence on his leadership. He wasn’t all wrong. The mountain wanted a sacrifice, the one responsible for the suffering. He can’t resist showing off his wealth of knowledge. Soon he will ask a question. We will answer. The thaw is coming.
Jake Sheridan is a writer from the UK, but don’t let that put you off. He enjoys art, the weird, horror, writing lists and talking about himself in the third person. Come say hello: twitter.com/jellypinkfish
Jake’s website: www.jellypinkfish.co.uk
What glides down mountains full of sin? The voice would ask me. The voice I heard that others didn’t. The voice from everywhere and nowhere. People from out of town who came to bobsleigh were bad people, the voice said. Full of sin. Why? What have they done? What is their sin? Don’t be a question, the voice would say, be an answer.
The voice spoke to me when others didn’t. Mother screamed at me. Father hit me. The voice spoke, I listened. Mother stopped screaming when she had her accident. Father never hit me again, because he never came home. The voice spoke, I listened.
Every year they came to use the slopes. The locals would watch. This year the voice asked me, what glides down mountains full of sin? I knew what to do. Everyone gathered to watch and so did I. I wore my new jumper with a question mark on it. Don’t be a question, be an answer. But since I didn’t know the answer, I chose the question.
I watched, unmoving, as they readied the bobsleigh. We all watched. I thought of the voice. The voice that was everywhere and nowhere. The voice had told me to be the answer. The voice spoke, I listened.
It all made sense now. The question was the answer. The voice knew I’d ask the right question. The question was: What glides down mountains full of sin? The answer? Well, the same thing that screams when the brakes fail.