The Banshee is a popular Irish myth, depicting a woman who appears to announce the death of a person through wailing. She is often said to be an old woman, but descriptions vary as to her appearance. Some say she wears a grey cloak, while others say she sits combing her hair. Part of the Fae world, she is a bad omen. If more than one Banshee appears at once, it is said to announce the death of someone holy. One legend states that she will only appear for members of the O’Neills, O’Briens, O’Connors, O’Gradys and Kavanaghs families.
Some legends talk of a young woman brutally murdered who becomes a Banshee. You can read more about this on the 15th with DJ Doyle's book Banshee.
For more info check out: https://mythology.net/mythical-creatures/banshee/
My Fae… Waters and the Wild
The title of my book tells a lot about where I took some of the inspiration for my fairies in Waters and the Wild – it’s a line from The Stolen Child by WB Yeats, a poem about changelings and dark, seductive fae.
In Waters and the Wild, the central themes are around mental health. We never know if the fairies are real entities, or if they are a figment of my main character, Amy’s, imagination. If so, they are a form of psychosis that has kicked off at a family wedding in a fairy glen, during a period of great stress. If not, they’re the real thing: the Irish fairyfolk that inhabit the Antrim Glens.
I’m from Northern Ireland, about 20 miles away from the Glens, and I spent my childhood in and out of that area. The place where I start the book is the Larragh Lodge, which is a restaurant set at the foot of Glenariff close to a great waterfall that can be easily climbed to. There are signs warning people entering the glen that fairies live there, and it’s all a bit touristy but once on the walk, it’s hard to deny the feel of the place. If there is a fairyland, surely it must be somewhere like this with its soft woodland, peaty water and great thundering falls.
But the fairies in Ireland are not viewed as kind and gentle. People used to leave milk on their doorsteps (in some parts, some still do) to appease the little folk. Fairies stole babies (and that is a theme in my book). Many a person in Ireland, both North and South, would hesitate to cut down a fairy thorn tree for fear of the fairies’ wrath. Entire roads have been rerouted to avoid doing so.
I wanted to capture that feel in my fairies. They are not gentle. They are beguilers and tricksters. They work to their own agenda and, if they are real, Amy is in great danger from them – and the man who tries to help her, Simon, is too.
So, where did I get such dark fairies from? Well, the Irish legends about the sidhe (I use shee in my book as the Ulster-Scots dialect of the region would more commonly utilise that spelling) are a starting point. Forced into a separate world from ours, the sidhe were not considered a kind race, or one compatible to humans. In Peadar O’Guilin’s The Grey Lands duology (highly recommended) the sidhe are as dark as any monsters, and mine are not far behind. I show brownies, and manipulative Queens. The Pooka (puca), a malevolent shape-shifter, features. My fairies are in the sea, in the land, in trees and on the beaches. They cannot be escaped and that’s the crux to the book – whatever drives these visions in Amy must be confronted, not fled from. But confronting the sidhe is like trying to catch the wind: they twist, and escape, and then return to torment her.
I like to think, when people read the book, that there is a sense of authenticity about the fairies. Not in a cute, Cottingley manner, and all the more real for that. All the settings I use exist. The bleak hills, the enchanted glens, the cold sea caves where the fairies reveal themselves and their agenda, can be visited. Because, for me, the fae and the land are inseparable. To write one, the other must be vivid and support the vision. Which is why, when I wrote about the fae, I chose the fairyland just up the road to begin their story – because only by feeling the places they could inhabit did I understand what it must feel like to be inhabited by them. And it’s horrific
THE NYMPH OF HAMPSTEAD HEATH
At night, it’s almost silent. Just the rustling of the leaves, and the odd yip of foxes. The bats fly low, close to the water, mopping up moths, skimming the air.
That’s at night. In the day, it’s different. Still quiet, still peaceful, but there are women in the pool of water. They don’t see me, in the water with them. They feel me sometimes, and they think it’s weeds, twisting against them. But they never see me. Not in the water, and not out of it either. They tell me their secrets and sometimes, just sometimes, I listen very closely.
What sort of secrets? The sort you only tell another woman, here in the pond, separate from the world and guarded by me. And those secrets – they’ve barely changed, all through the years. Secret pregnancies, illnesses they’re too scared to face, relationship problems. Their fears. Mostly, I listen and the stories don’t touch me. Mostly, I’ve heard them all before and I know that come the next time Sandra or Jess come back to the pond, it will all be fixed. The money will have been paid, or the fight made up, and they’ll splash and shout and make the air tingle with happiness.
Sometimes, though, things don’t get better. Those are the days when the sky clouds over, when the pond becomes grey. I get headaches on those days, and, when I get a headache everything in the pond goes not right. The birds find it hard to nest, and if they don’t nest we don’t get new ones for next year. The bees go off down the heath and leave my foxgloves to droop and die. I can’t be having that. Not at my pond. Because, see, I was given it to look after for my Queen.
What’s a nymph to do? In my case, whatever it takes. Take Linda, from last week. She’s been coming here, every Tuesday morning, for weeks. She comes on her
own, and she swims lengths. Head in the water, taking proper breathing breaks, up and down with an intensity it’s hard to match. Her mood is so hard the water barely breaks around her. Sometimes I can’t bear to be in the water with her, and then I climb into my tree and I watch, and I see the tightness of her shoulders. That’s what I mean about listening, see? It’s not just about your ears.
I was listening, closer than ever, when she came back, week after week, and the darkness didn’t lift. I watched her, too, worried. I’ve seen it before, women who come into the waters and don’t want to leave. Don’t want to face life outside the pond. I’ve had to carry a few of them out before the life leaves their bodies. Once I was too late and she’s with me still, in the lake, never gone. That’s not something I want for anyone else, though – the lake’s not a good place to stay for anyone but me.
So, last Monday I watched Linda swim her length after length, and I watched her get out, her swimming suit high on her leg, her arms bare. And I saw the bruises, down her arms, a big one on her thigh. I saw more, because I know how to look. An old cigarette burn on the back of her hand, a slight twist of a broken nose.
When I see something like that, I have to act. That’s not the sort of secret I can allow my ladies to hold. That’s the sort that cuts them to the inside and makes the water angry. It’s the sort that makes me angry.
But what good is an angry water nymph, I hear you ask. After all, I live in the pond. Well, when I’m angry I’m more powerful. I thrust the water away from me. I can manage, for a time, if I’m angry enough. I managed long enough to follow Linda home. I stayed while she changed and I checked some things in the house: checked her purse and, sure enough, she only had cash; checked the bedroom and it was tidy to the point of obsession; saw the meal already cooking on the hob; saw her pick up
his things. And I waited, until night fell. I waited until I was shivery and had to run the shower and touch some water. She nearly found me then, muttering about gadgets having a life of their own.
I waited until he came home and, as he walked in the door, I knew the smell of him from the water. He was the darkness inside her, the darkness she tried so hard to swim off. He ate her lovely meal, and didn’t thank her. I heard him take her to the bedroom, I heard the slap, her tears, the thud of her falling and I waited, splashing water, and I wasn’t sure I could do anything, so long from the pond.
He left for the toilet in the night, across the wood-panelled floor. I watched, dripping, as he passed before me. I reached for him.
He fell. Slipped in a puddle. A brief, bitten off yell as he toppled on the top stair. A single shove seen to him.
Linda still comes to the pond. At first, in sadness. A different darkness, less red, just as dense. She did her laps and yet, as I watched, her arms became more relaxed, her strokes lazier. She started to talk to the other women. The air was light again; the sun shone; the birds nested. And now, five years on. She’s different. Changed. Older. In love, with a fat belly to match it and I look at her eyes, shining in the sun, and I’m glad I know how to listen well. And I’m glad the pond’s the place for secrets.
1) Tell us about your book (s) (or short story)
My short story is based on a local myth and Legend of the area I grew up in.
2) Who is your main character? Tell us about them.
My story centres around a group of boys who inadvertently wander into the territory of the Fae on Easter Eve, when as per the local legend she is able to come through and claim her prize of the life force of young men.
3) What is your favourite Fae myth or story?
Growing up in High Peak Derbyshire I was always intrigued by a local Myth and Legend of “The Mermaids Pool”. I could never fathom why a local landlocked body of water miles from the ocean would be inhabited by a mermaid, that once a year on Easter eve would come out and take any unlucky and unsuspecting males near the waters edge. As a adult it still has it’s mysteries but the more I look into it the more I find out that the mermaid was more likely to be a old water spirit once worshipped and given offerings by the local people. This is the reason why I wrote Kinder Downfall.
4) The Fae. Helpful magical creatures? Or mischievous tricksters?
I believe that the Fae fall in to varies categories:
Group 1 dislike us with a vengeance and wouldn’t think twice about wiping us off the face of the earth.
Group 2 who are interested in us and what makes us tick biologically and emotionally.
Group 3 who see us as a humorous play toy, and like to play about with our day to day lives almost like we are pets to them.
5) What is your Fae elemental? Salamander (Fire) Undine (Water) Brownie (Earth) or Sylph (Air)
I’m not sure about my favourite Fae elemental as I believe that we should give them a wide berth as possible and not seek them out as we may just find ourselves in a whole heap of trouble. But I had to choose one or would be a Undine as I’m from an area that has lots of water based myths and legends.
“Just admit it, we’re fucking lost,” snapped Jason, looking more angry than usual.
Staring down at the map and compass in his hands, looking confused and flustered, Martin mumbled, “It’s not possible, it’s just not possible.”
“Yeah, well this is what we get letting an idiot who still needs help tying his shoes like you guide us,” quipped Nathan.
James stepped in. “Come on guys, leave him alone, You all know he’s better at reading maps and orienteering than all of us combined.”
“He can’t be all that hot at it as we’ve come past this place three times today already,” snarled Luke.
“For Fucks Sake!” Pushing past, almost shoulder barging James, Jason grabbed the map and compass out of Martin’s hands and stared down at it trying to make sense of it.
“Erm Ja-ja-ja-ss-son, you’ve g-g-g-g got it upside down,” stuttered Martin not daring to make eye contact with a now enraged Jason. Jason went a crimson red in the face that indicated a dangerous mix between embarrassment and rage. Martin realised the danger and stepped behind James.
“B-b-b-but, I’m sh-sh-sh-sure, it w-w-w-will b-b-be fine.” Turning and putting his hand on Martin’s shoulder and steering him away.
“Not helping buddy, let’s go over here for a while”.
Walking away from the group with Martin, James couldn’t help but feel a little annoyed with Martin and the way he had to wind Jason up by saying everything that came into his head. Rebuking himself for feeling this way towards his cousin as he knew he couldn’t help it, as it was just who he was and would always be this way, no matter how many times he was told. Ever since Martin got diagnosed with Autism his whole family looked to him to keep his cousin on track and safe even though James was nearly eighteen months younger than Martin. He found himself wishing that he could just once, be a normal teenager and do things without his cousin having to tag along.
Feeling instantly bad, he put his arm around Martin’s shoulders and gently whispered, “Listen buddy, you need to remember what we talked about, how we will only manage to get through this weekend if you keep your head down and try not to piss Jason and Nathan off.”
Martin's face screwed up into his look of confusion which James knew meant he just simply didn’t understand. “But he did have the map upside down, so he wouldn’t have been able to read it, and that makes no sense”.
“Martin, I’ve told you time and time again, with people like Jason its best not to point out their mistakes in front of others and let them figure it out for themselves. Jason has enough going on with his Dad being a dick with him and always telling him he is useless and a waste of oxygen.”
Martin’s face relaxed and James took this as a sign that Martin was starting to understand but just to make doubly sure, he said, “Martin, do you remember last sports day, when Jason’s dad lost his shit with him in front of everyone, over him coming second in the 1500 meters after Charlie. Then the next day Jason came in with a black eye and a fractured wrist, his dad did that to him all because he lost a race to a regional champion”.
Martin looked shocked at this disclosure and muttered, “But he told everyone he had gotten into a fight with the Parkwood gang and they had done it to him. But if he had told the truth, the teachers would have helped him get away from his dad so he wouldn’t be able to hurt him anymore.”
James sighed at his cousin in frustration but admired his innocence at the same time. “Look Martin, life sometimes isn’t as simple as that, and even though Jason can be a complete tool, he has his reasons of wanting to stay at home with his mum and his younger brothers, so just leave it. Don’t mention it and act as if you don’t know, for your and my sake, please just drop it.” Martin looked at his cousin’s face and realised it was time to be quiet, as Martin could read James as much as James could read him. Glancing back over at the other group who were now sat eating and throwing stones into a large pool, James gauged that they had calmed down enough to head back over.
“Let’s go back over to the others and make a plan of what we should do next, and Martin remember keep quiet about Jason.”
Reaching the others, Martin sat down and began rummaging inside his back pack. So James took the opportunity, “Hey guys we need to make a decision on what we are going to do.”
Turning away from the pond, Nathan was the first to speak, “We would all be fine if it wasn’t for your idiot cousin and his inability to function as a normal human being!” Seeing red, James took a step forward ready for a fight.
“Fuck you Nathan; Martin’s got more intelligence in his little finger than you will ever have!” “Okay guys enough is enough, this aint getting us anywhere,” pleaded Thomas, trying to defuse the situation.
Backing down James had just begun to turn and check on Martin to find he was still completely engrossed in rummaging in his bag muttering away to himself completely oblivious, when Nathan charged at him, rugby tackling him. As Nathan made contact James realised what was happening and managed to turn in the air so Nathan landed first and James on top of him. Quickly manoeuvring one arm across Nathan’s throat and the other on his left shoulder James pinned him and growled “Enough dickhead!”
Nathan tried to buck James off but soon realised it was useless, but unwilling to admit defeat still struggled under him.
“GOT, IT, HERE IT IS” yelled Martin holding a well battered exercise book in the air, looking up at the two writhing figures in front of him completely oblivious to what had just happened.
“Got what, your science geek porn collection?” sniggered Luke sarcastically.
“Erm no, the reason why it’s not possible, and why we shouldn’t be here right now” he said not recognising the sarcasm in Luke’s tone.
“We all know why we are here you tool, it’s because you got us lost” snapped Nathan taking the opportunity to pull himself out from under James and slink off to a safe distance by Luke. Martin seemed to ignore Nathan’s comment as if he didn’t hear it, and carried on happily regardless.
“When I found out where the DoE was sending us for our trial expedition, I began to research the area and the terrain, calculating our average traveling speed with the factors of weather and the load we would be carrying, eating, toilet breaks and so forth.”
Laughing hysterically Luke and Nathan began to mimic Martin.
“Calculating our speed of shit breaks, really dude you need to get a life”
Shooting a stern glance at them both James was just about to put them both in their place when Thomas piped up, “What do you mean? Let’s have a look”
“Oi Thomas ya arse licker, what ya doing? You’re seriously not listening to the shit timer?” laughed Luke and Nathan.
“Shut the fuck up, you two, I wanna listen to what he has to say!” growled Jason. Looking surprised and affronted they both started to move over towards the group Nathan mumbling “I was just saying working out our shit times is a bit weird.”
“Right now I don’t care about weird, I just can’t fucking fail this, so let’s listen to what he has to say OK!” Jason snapped as he sat on the floor with Martin and Thomas. Nathan and Luke seemed to know they had better not push Jason any further and plonked themselves down in an half assed attempt of defiance. Seeing the situation diffuse and feeling satisfied James sat in the remaining gap of the circle turned to Martin and asked, “What do you mean Martin? Show us.”
Martin opened the book and placed it in the middle of the group.
“This is day 1 and day 2 route plans, this is where we started, and the course we needed to take, the longitude and latitude, the compass direction, the check points we needed to hit at what time etc. We made each and every one, before the other group and reached our campsite for the second night by only fifteen minutes off our projected arrival time as we started out late,” The group looked at Martin for the first time with a new found admiration and respect, “You worked all this out by yourself” said Jason quizzically.
“Erm yeah, it’s easy enough if you know how” Martin said casually.
“Well what happened today then, as we are well off these?” said Thomas puzzled.
“This is why it’s impossible for us to be here. We should be 30 miles east over here.” said Martin, flustered, pointing at the map. “I just don’t understand it, I’ve followed the route plan each time we arrived back at this pond, using the correct compass directions and everything, so we really shouldn’t be here, it’s like something is messing with the compass bringing us back to this spot over and over again.” Looking at the map and his notebook with disgust.
“Or you could have just got it wrong, and are trying to cover your tracks.” hissed Nathan. Martin turned quickly towards Nathan with annoyance as he hated being called a liar or deceitful.
“See for yourself, that ridge and waterfall over there is Kinder Downfall, on the map is in a south east direction from that pond which is Mermaids Pool, but look at what it says on the compass.” Thrusting the map and compass in Nathans face. Nathan looked down at the compass and map and then over to the ridgeline, “So it’s says that the waterfall is in the north east, so that just means you’ve broken the fucking compass!” Going red and pushing the map and compass back at Martin scowling. Jason looked at Martin and almost choked out the words as if it was something very difficult for him to say.
“Look, I don’t know what’s going on, or why. but I don’t think its Martin doing it as he is usually never wrong, but we need to come up with a plan.”
“Maybe we could try using our phones to find a way off this hill, I know we’re not meant to use them but desperate times calls for desperate measures”, suggested Thomas
Pulling their phones out of their rucksacks and turning them on in the hope of finding a signal to the outside world.
“Bollocks!” snarled Nathan. “No signal.”
“Me neither!” exclaimed Luke,
“No luck with mine either, what about you guys?” said Thomas looking over at Jason, James and Martin who all shook their heads looking downhearted.
“FUCK!” shouted Jason, getting upset. “I need to be at home, not stuck out here in the middle of fucking nowhere, with you twat heads.”
Martin then piped up, “Look I know it’s not ideal but it’s getting late, it’s going to be dusk soon and completely dark in just over an hour. We don’t want to be wandering these hills at night, as they are dangerous we should camp here tonight and try again tomorrow. As soon as we don’t reach the check in point they will realise and come and find us. If they don’t find us by morning we could try walking back on ourselves towards Hayfield or Chapel-en-le-frith and find a phone to call home, and you can tell your dad it was my fault we didn’t complete it”
“WHAT THE FUCKS THAT MEANT TO MEAN? WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU KNOW ABOUT MY DAD? FUCK YOU AND FUCK YOUR STUPID ASS SHIT TIMING CALCULATIONS!” yelled Jason as he threw Martin’s book into the pond.
Martin and James made quick work of putting up their tents and collecting firewood, while Nathan, Luke and Thomas began a game of Frisbee that closely resembled who could throw the plastic disc hard and fast enough to inflict maximum pain on each other. They set about making a campfire, while Jason sat sulking outside his tent. Just as he lit the fire an almighty crash echoed through the camp as Nathan, diving to catch the Frisbee, crashed into the water canisters spilling the contents everywhere.
“Ya fucking numpty,” chorused Luke and Thomas laughing hysterically. Martin shook his head and sighed, at the trio who were now rolling around the floor in fits of laughter. Turning his direction back towards the fire he thought he felt the ground ripple and shift slightly under his hand. Looking around the group to see if anyone else had noticed but everyone seemed oblivious to it.
“We’re gonna need more water, said James who was crouched by the water canisters inspecting their remaining contents.
“Yeah I’ll just pull some out of my elbow” quipped Luke while still laughing about Nathan’s epic fail.
“Or you could just go up to the waterfall and collect some,“ snapped James at the trio.
“Urgh, not a chance! You want it, you walk up there and get it,” growled Nathan.
“Just fucking get your arses up there and get the water and be quick about it, it’s gonna be dark soon” ordered Jason who was now walking over to Martin and the fireplace. Not wanting to argue or suffer the wrath of Jason all three walked over to the canisters grabbed them up and began their trek up the hill to the waterfall. Sitting down at the campfire Jason looked worried but neither James nor Martin wanted to ask what was up, just in case he lost his temper with either of them. Just then Martin felt the ground ripple again but more strongly, it was like the ground was pulsating or vibrating and this time there was a low almost inaudible humming noise, like an engine running in the distance. Looking towards Jason and James to see if they had noticed it this time, but it seemed not.
“Do you hear or feel that” Martin nervously asked.
“Feel what dipshit? I don’t feel anything apart from that I’m starving” snarled Jason.
“Feel and hear what?” asked James, looking at his cousin in concern, wondering if his cousin was about to have another episode like in the past. He knew how to deal with the situation at home, with other people around and a working phone to get help. But out here in the middle of nowhere with no help at hand it made him feel nervous. Before he had chance to quiz Martin further Nathan’s voice drifted down the hill.
“YOU GUYS NEED TO SEE THIS SHIT, ITS FUCKING OUT OF THIS WORLD”
“Nice try dickhead, were not coming up to see shit, just so we can help you carry the water back down,” bellowed back Jason.
“NO, really you need to see this, the fucking waterfall is flowing backwards” shouted Luke.
Standing up Martin and James looked up the hill to see the boys with their phones out like they were videoing something. They decided to take the risk and began to walk up the hill towards the others.
“Are you shitting me, where are you going?” Jason snapped sounding concerned.
“Up to see, what’s going on just in case there not pulling our chains, come with us if you like, if not stay and watch the fire doesn’t go out.” answered James.
“Fuck, if they are having us on I’m gonna kick them into next week” exclaimed Jason as he got up and hurried to catch up with the two boys, not wanting to be left by himself.
As he began to walk up the hill Martin could feel the vibration getting stronger and the humming beginning to get louder. Not to an uncomfortable level it just made him feel strange. But remembering how James and Jason reacted to him mentioning it the first time he didn’t dare to say anything more on the subject. Reaching the top of the hill, all three looked on in amazement at the water.
“See, we fucking told you, see it’s running uphill” squealed Thomas while almost hopping up and down on one leg.
“Fuck this shit! Fuck this stupid place that we can’t get away from, and fuck you guys” shouted Jason, his voice sounding scared.
Looking at his watch Martin said, “Look, it’s starting to get dark, we had better head back down and get some food organised before we can’t see anything to cook”
“Sounds like a plan Batman, and while you’re here you can make yourselves useful and take one of these with you” laughed Thomas.
“If it makes it quicker, for us to eat I’m in” exclaimed James as each of the boys grabbed a canister and made their way down the hill.
It didn’t take long to cook what little remaining food they had left as none of them had planned to be camping out another night and they should have been tucking into a well-deserved MacDonald’s about now on their journey home. It was only Martin that had packed two emergency rations of baked beans and tinned hotdogs, the snacks and junk the group had left had been pooled into one pile next to the fire for afters.
“Who the fuck packed muesli bars, yogurt covered strawberries and rice cakes? Let me guess, it was you Martin” said Nathan looking disgusted at the offending snack items in the pile, and, picking up a muesli bar threw it at Martin.
Martin looked up from the fire, looking pale and confused “Huh what was that? What did you say”
Jason picked up the muesli bar off the floor and hurled it back at Nathan “If you must know I brought them, if you dunna like it, don’t fucking eat it”
“Jesus alright chill dude I was just saying they’re not exactly taste central are they?” sulked Nathan lobbing the offending bar back into the pile.
James turned towards his cousin who looked milk white and pale in the darkness that surrounded them, “Martin you ok?” he whispered.
“I don’t feel right, can none of you feel or hear it? It’s getting stronger and louder and all around us” whimpered Martin beginning to shake uncontrollably.
“Fuck me what’s he whittling on about now” smirked Nathan while poking the fire making the embers fly up.
“Shut the fuck up Nathan, I’ve had about enough of you this weekend” snapped James kicking his leg towards Nathan and knocking him backwards away from the fire so he landed with a thump on the floor almost hitting his head on a rock.
“Fuck, what the hell did you do that for I was just saying he is getting weirder than fucking usual” protested Nathan
“Give it rest you two, Just take him to your tent and get him to chill the hell out before he chucks a fit, it’s the last thing we need” said Jason looking slightly concerned at the two.
Pulling Martin to his feet and half walking him half dragging him over towards their tent, just before they reached it Martin began to nosily retch and emptied the contents of his stomach down James’s top and leg. Hastily pushing Martin through the open doorway and dumping him down on his sleeping bag he looked down at his trousers to see half-digested baked beans and hotdog beginning to snake its way down his trousers. Turning back to his cousin who had curled up into the foetal position with him hands over his ears shaking. Reaching over and grabbing the cleanest top and pair of trousers he could see, he looked again at Martin. He reached out to touch his leg to get his attention. Martin almost jumped out of his skin, turned wide eyed and stared at James.
Holding his hands up, like some sort of character from an old western James smiled and said “Whoa dude, it’s just me. I just wanted to see if you were ok if I went to clean myself up a little so I don’t cover the tent with puke”. Martin nodded still with his hands over his ears and still looking terrified.
Backing out of the tent he tried to comfort his terrified cousin.
“Look it’s going to be ok, just try and get some sleep and we will get out of here first thing in the morning.”
As James moved away, Martin curled back up with his ears covered and murmured to himself “It’s never gonna be ok, and we’re never gonna get out of here”
Walking over towards the fire, James could here laughter as the group around the fire was making jokes. He wasn’t sure if they were directed at Martin or not but knowing these guys they probably were. Reaching the fire he could see that Jason was sat away from the others on his own not joining in with the trio.
“Martin okay?” He asked with concern in his voice, taken aback by this new found concern he saw in Jason’s voice he muttered “I think he’s good but I think it’s a good idea for us to get out of dodge, at first light”
“Fuck you stink, and bollocks if you think I’m getting up a dawn just so you can play nursemaid, I didn’t sign up for that” complained Luke.
Ignoring his peer James looked at Jason “Well I’m going to get cleaned up at the pond and get some sleep, Martin and I are out of here first thing if you want to come”
Jason nodded and said “Too right, as soon as it’s light I’m gone”
It was only a short distance from the group to the pond but it felt like he was walking through treacle the closer he got to the pond he could feel the little hairs on the back of his arms and neck start to rise, and a fear begin to rise in his chest like he needed to run back in the other direction and hide in his tent like a three year old scared of the dark. He rebuked himself and carried on, thinking “For fuck sake, you’re not that far from the group, and you’ve got a head torch so it’s not like you can’t see anything” Reaching the edge of the pond he checked to see none of the group had followed him or was watching and, feeling satisfied, he pulled off his top and vomit soaked trousers. Crouching down by the watered edge he began scooping up the water and trying to wash off the vomit that had already got stuck in his leg hairs. After briefly contemplating getting into the water and swimming to wash it off was short lived in his mind, as even though it was an unusually mild spring evening, and the water felt unusually warm for a U.K pond at Easter. He knew it was a recipe for disaster as he would probably get hyperthermia very quickly from the water that would most definitely be colder closer to the middle. He was just about to give up and pull his clean trousers on when he got side swiped by Nathan who had snuck up on him and pushed him into the pool. James had little time to react but he was certainly not going into the water alone so he grabbed as much of Nathan as he could as he fell. His plan worked and as gravity and his body weight worked for him they both tumbled into the water. However it didn’t quite go to plan as Nathan’s body slammed down on top of him winding him and pushing him far down under the water. The two desperately tried to untwist themselves from each other and the weed bed that was hidden from view just under the surface of the water. James thought that out of the corner of his eye he saw a white mist like shape swimming fast towards the pair. His eyes must be playing tricks on him he thought or his body was going into shock, due to the sudden submersion in the pond. The water didn’t feel cold though, maybe his body was tricking him as a self defence mechanism and protecting itself form the cold. Reaching down to pull his legs free from the weeds that were still restricting his legs, he turned to see Nathan still desperately struggling to free himself. He knew he had to help but his lungs were burning with pain from holding his breath for so long. He knew to be any help he would have to surface and take a breath before coming back down.
Pushing up towards the surface he glanced back at Nathan who was wide eyed and terrified reaching towards him for help. Making hand movements to signal he would be back, he thought he saw the a white ball of light surrounded in that mist again but brighter this time swimming back towards Nathan.
Breaking the surface of the water, and coughing up water that he had took in on his ascent, he could see the worried faces of his peers staring back at him at the water’s edge.
“Where’s Nathan? What the fuck is going on? Where the hell is that light coming from?” screamed Luke hysterically
It took James a second or two to process what was going on around him, and what the group was screaming at him. Looking down at the water underneath him he could see the water was illuminated from underneath in a pulsating, glowing light. Taking a deep breath that stung his lungs, he dived back down to help Nathan. Tool or not he didn’t deserve to drown tonight. He headed back towards the spot he had left him struggling, but he could not see him. Turning around in the water to see if he could see him in the water, the pulsating light began to hurt his eyes, and his lungs began to protest again. Just as he was going back up he spotted Nathan on his far left he seemed to be free of the weeds but struggling with what looked like a female form in a long flowing nightgown of some kind. Each time he seemed to break free the material seemed to envelop him again holding him back. Then the figure seemed to turn and look at him. James couldn’t understand what he was seeing as the face seemed to be of a beautiful girl, and then contorted with a grimace of an ancient withered creature, with a drawn face and dark circles for eyes, then back to the beautiful girl, in time with the pulsating light. But it couldn’t be real, surely not. Were his senses playing tricks on him, making him see what could not be there, and was it the lack of oxygen, the cold and exhaustion taking its toll.
Pushing for the surface again, he broke with such force, coughing and spitting out what tasted like sea water, inadvertently scaring the living daylights of the now sobbing, hysterical trio who were on their knees at the water’s edge desperately looking for James and Nathan. Trying to make sense of why the water tasted like he had just taken in a gob full of sea water. James could hear a high pitched screaming and wailing coming from Martin who was now stood by the entrance of the tent watching the scene play out. He looked and the group on the bank and screamed “He’s stuck down here guys, Nathan’s stuck I can’t find him, you need to get in here and help us, he’s gonna fucking drown”. The group began to wave at James pointing behind him looking terrified and all began to shout at him once,
“JAMES FOR FUCK SAKE MOVE YOUR ASS”
“FUCK MOVE SHE’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!”
The din of them all shouting at once made it difficult to understand what they were saying especially since Martin’s screams had now reached a blood curdling pitch that seemed to echo around the hills. He realised he was in danger and turned as the creature he saw under the water had also left Nathan and was now coming for him. He could only see her head and those eyes and mouth that seemed to faze in and out of serene beauty to abject horror. Turning as quick as he could he began to swim for the water’s edge where Jason and Thomas had their hands outstretched, reaching to help him in as soon as he got close enough, while Luke had his head in his hands, screaming on his knees between the two.
“It’s gaining on you! Come on, move! Get over here!” screamed Jason
Not daring to look behind him, James powered on. He was almost at the bank. “Please God let me reach the bank, just let me reach the bank” a voice inside his head screamed at him.
He was just close enough to touch Jason and Thomas’ outreached arms and he tried desperately to take them, but realised he couldn’t swim and try to take hold of them. Just when he thought all was lost two hands grabbed onto his outstretched wrists. Looking up he saw they were Jason and Thomas trying to pull him out of the water, a sigh of relief passed his lips but it was short lived as what felt like two bony hands with fingers that felt so long and distorted to be human, grasped his ankles and tugged with a force that seemed to have more power than a human could ever muster. He was then being pulled backwards by a force more powerful than could be possible from the hands that held him. He then heard and felt something big and heavy hit the water, landing on top off him and pinning him down into the soft mud of the bank. He was still being pulled backwards towards the water as the weight on top of him seemed to shift and beginning to scramble away from him. Glancing up he realised that the weight that had been on him, was Jason, Luke and Thomas who had been took off guard by the creature pulling him back and had toppled into the water. Jason, Luke and Thomas all seemed to be desperately trying to free themselves from the weed bed he and Nathan were stuck in but not having much luck. Kicking desperately he hoped to make contact with the creature in a bid to get away. Suddenly the creature let go of him and he broke away, turning to see the creature swim off hurriedly towards Jason who had managed to free himself and was making a break for it. The creature swooped in on him with a speed he had never seen before and wrapped itself around the terrified boy and began to effortlessly swim down and down into the darkness. Not wanting to stick around James turned back and smashed his head into a rock that was cunningly submerged in the water. Red flooded his eyes and he felt sick and dizzy, he could taste metal in his mouth and a burning erupted on his face. He needed to keep swimming and get out, but the collision had disoriented him and by the time he surfaced to take a breath he realised he was swimming in the wrong direction towards the middle of the pond. Trying to turn and head for the bank to where Martin stood, white faced and screaming that scream, watching in horror. When those familiar hands entwined around his legs and pulled him back under the surface coming face to face with the creature that now was just the horrifying, withered skeletal like creature with dark holes for eyes. The creature features seem to contort as if it was trying to smile as its bony arms and legs wrapped around his whole body pinning his arms to his sides so he couldn’t move. This was then James realised it wasn’t a smile, as her mouth locked onto his, in some kind of horrific first kiss as she dragged him down into the darkness. Reaching a stone ledge the creature, turned him slightly he could see the withered skeletal form of his friends, all that was left of them was an empty husk like shell as if they had been completely drained of everything. James knew this was it, he was going to die here, and he had no more fight left in him.
Walking into the deathly quiet camp, the Mountain rescue team was on edge. There was no sign of life around the camp. Praying the boys were just sleeping heavily they checked each tent in turn for any sleeping occupants but they found none. Looking fearfully at each other the group began to cluster around the fire unspeaking. They had all thought when they received the call on Easter Eve; about six boys missing last known location Kinder Down fall/ Mermaids pool area and hoped they would find them. Tired, cold and scared but they all deep down knew it had been years since she had claimed her last victims, and would be angry and ravenous. Smokey the recovery dog began to bark incessantly running backwards and forwards between the pool and the team, indicating she had found something. Looking at each other with fear and dread, did they want to even see what he had found? None of them wanted to see, as the memories of their last search for missing boys still haunted their dreams. Smokey’s bark got more and more incessant and demanding as they began their slow walk towards the pool. As they got closer they could see a figure on his knees, rocking backwards and forwards, hands covering his ears. His face was milk white, his eyes bulging, whimpering at the dog that was now bouncing up and down licking his face.
“Smokey here, away. You guys better stay here so not to scare the lad” the team leader exclaimed as he approached the cowering figure sat beside the water edge. Crouching down next to the terrified boy, putting his hand on his shoulder. “Who are you son, what happened? “Can you tell me, where the others are?” he asked as gently as he could, holding back the sound of fear in his voice.
They boy turned and pointed at the water.
“What about the water?” Knowing the answer already but hoping it wouldn’t be true.
“In there, they’re all in there, she came and took them,” whimpered Martin
Stepping away from the boy and looking at his team with the acknowledgement that their fears were correct he pulled the radio from his jacket and spoke.
“Control, please be advised we have another one, police, ambulance, diving recovery team and a coroner is required in attendance at Mermaids Pool.
The radio instantly burst back into life “Please repeat. Did you say ambulance also required?” the voice asked quizzically.
“Yeah ambulance required its looks like she left one behind untouched this time”
Walking over to the team “It’s gonna be a long one, guys so you’d better call home or work or anyone waiting for you” Pulling out their phones they all began to call or text.
1. Tell us about your book or short story.
Darkling is one of the larger short stories in my collection – The Lights Went Out and Other Stories. It is set in the early Victorian period and tells of a maiden who becomes lost in the woods on Midsummer’s Eve. She slips out of her house unbeknownst to her parents to pick a plant for a posy she wishes to bind the son of a local gentlemen in matrimony. From behind a tree she watches a mysterious stranger walking in the moonlight and steps out to meet him. When she fails to return to her home, the village search the woods and surrounding area but to no avail. Weeks later a farm hand hears a sound in the forest in passing and discovers the dishevelled maiden. But the girl who returns tells a strange tale, her parents can barely recognise her from her behaviour. They hide her away for her confinement, keep her pregnancy secret and she breathes her last as she gives birth to her child. With her mother in a stupor, the stranger appears and takes the baby and they both disappear. Local children are warned from visiting the woods on Midsummer’s Eve when the king under the hill searches for a wife.
2. Who is your main character?
Emmeline Loxley is the only child of a well-to-do family in the picturesque town of Foxbridge. Like her friends, the other girls in the village they dreamed of sweethearts and often discussed little ditties and potions to bind loved ones in matrimony. On Midsummer’s Night she slips out to gather the required plants for her love potion but strays from the path. She meets a beautiful stranger who appears to have sprang up from the hill itself, she hears her name called and has no choice but to step out of hiding.
When she returns to the village she is changed, she speaks of her ‘husband” under the hill and being held captive. She is in part both fearful and excited at the thought of him coming back to take her and her parents bar her bedroom window, so she can’t escape. She wastes away into a shadow of herself through pregnancy and when she gives birth she dies so her changeling child can live.
3. What is your favourite Fae myth or story?
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Suzanne Clarke is one of my all-time favourite books – a huge tome of a book, it is filled with footnotes and snippets of old English faerie tales about a time when Magicians were rare and people talked of the coming of the Raven King.
4. The Fae – helpful magical creatures or mischievous tricksters?
Mischievous tricksters for sure. They only grant requests if there is something in it for them. Woe betide anyone who owes a favour to a faerie. Never trust a faerie or cross one. Leave the faerie fort alone and watch the old rowan.
5. What is your Fae elemental?
She slipped through into woods with the agility of one well used to nocturnal ramblings, knowing how to pick her way along the meandering path regardless of the moon’s milky glow that shone through the thickets of hazel and birch. She hummed low to herself a verse that was popular amongst the young girls in her village.
“Rose petals, rose petals, red and white, he that I marry, come to me this night”. It was custom for maidens on Midsummer’s’ Night to make potions to bind their admirers in love and matrimony and Emmeline Loxley needed only one more addition to a concoction she had ready: leaves that could only be harvested after nightfall.
She moved on further into the wood, her thoughts on the son of one of her father’s friends, a handsome boy who was much admired among her circle of friends, for his pleasing manners and brilliant blue eyes. Emmeline smiled to herself, pulling her cloak tight against the chill air. She was dressed for concealment, she wore a grey cloak over a brown wool dress, clothing she had changed into after her parents had retired for the night before she climbed from her ground floor bedroom window and slipped from the grounds .
As she wandered, the path narrowed and disappeared in parts. She stopped at a gap in the trees, a clearing of sorts. The area seemed strangely unfamiliar to her in the moonlight. Emmeline had wandered further this night than before, she had not missed the church bells chime the hour. The sounds of the outside world failed to pierce the dense canopy. Branches crossed above her head creating a network of tunnels where even the moon light found it hard to penetrate.
As she turned to make her way back to the more familiar path she noticed the dark pointed leaves that she required and pulled a small knife from the pocket of her dress and proceeded to cut several stalks low from the base careful to leave enough of the plant behind. So absorbed was she in her task that she didn’t notice the stranger until she was nearly upon him.
He walked upon the hummock between the ring of gnarled and ancient rowan trees, where the ground rose up to a point past the twisted branches to resemble a bald pate above a broken crown. An old place, the heart of the forest it was said, a place she had never trod as the light grew dimmer and the trees formed a ring that scratched and pulled at the wanderer who had strayed from the path. It was an area of the forest that local lore guarded against with tales of strange noises and lights. Emmeline pulled herself up smartly and half hidden behind the stout trunk of an oak she observed the wanderer.
He appeared to be of above average height with shoulder length golden hair that shone in the moonlight as he moved about the hill. He looked to be well dressed, like a noble man in his frock coat, waistcoat and breeches; each of a different woodland hue, the greens and browns of bark and leaf.
He wore knee length hunting boots, the leather bright as a new chestnut. A most beautiful creature, he strode with what purpose she could not tell. His long limbs moving with fluid grace. He seemed a part of the moss covered hill he walked upon, as if he had appeared from the earth itself.
Unable to take her eyes off the stranger, Emmeline moved from tree to tree until he seemed close enough to touch until finally as if in a dream, she stepped out from behind the cover of the trees to face him, a bird released from a trap with no choice but to fly towards danger.
The walker between the trees turned on his heel sensing her, he moved towards the slight figure of the girl in the grey cloak whose wide eyes shone at his approach. The stitching on his waistcoat glinted in the moons light as he neared. Her eyes were drawn to a face of contradictions; ancient yet youthful.
His skin was white as the light that the moon poured down.
White as bone bleached in the sun.
Pale as the ice in the village pond in midwinter.
Pale and cold as death.
He towered above her, the beauty of his features commanding her attention. As pale as his skin his lips were red as spilled blood. Wide set eyes, shaped like a cats with pupils of inky blackness stared down at her, the lashes as long as the legs of a spider. His fair hair fell from his forehead in sheets to hang past the shoulders of his frock coat.
His lips curved into a smile of pure delight and she shuddered as he suddenly threw back his head and laughed. And as he did so she noticed the stitching upon his waistcoat moved as miniature embroidered birds and woodland creatures flew between tiny trees and moved about the forest upon his chest.
A voice sounded inside her head, clear and high as a crystal bell. Emmaline. Emmaline. Emmaline. The voice sang her name over and over.
The voice sang to her, telling her of the stories of the forest, the beginning of things, of acorn and leaf, of moss and worm and creatures that burrowed beneath her feet. She caught the scent of the moss covered forest floor, of mushrooms waiting to push up through the fallen leaves. She caught glimpses of herself as a young girl with her hair plaited in ribbons running after a ball between the trees of the forest; a pretty child with auburn locks, rosy cheeked, a button for a mouth. She watched herself dreaming, her hair falling across the pillow, the soft purple of her closed eyelid, a doll clutched in her hands.
The voice spoke now of hidden halls and lofty towers, of caverns filled with roots and jewels, great halls floodlit with candles, rush covered floors and rock walls that sparkled like diamonds. She heard of kings and queens who ruled with both cruelty and gaiety upon carved thrones of oak and bone. And all about her were wings and the sounds of flying things. She could feel them about her, a fluttering across her closed eyelids like moths, soft and light, and larger touches on her shoulders. There were whispers like kisses on her neck and arms. Will you go? Will you go?
They searched the woods for a fortnight. The village girls spilled their secrets and made public Emmeline’s intentions on Midsummer’s night. They searched with sticks and fanned out to cover as much ground as possible. Her paring knife, they found beside the plant she had picked, the edge still edged with green. A set of prints could be traced leading from the path to the rowan trees that guarded the hill, not the soft print of slippers but the marks of a pair of large boots. Halfway up the mound the footprints faded from view and vanished as if into the hill itself. Of Emmeline Loxley there was no further sign.
There were no reported sightings of strangers in the surrounding area of Foxbridge on or around the time of Midsummer. None of the villagers had heard so much as a dog barking and it was noted that the cocks had crowed unusually late the next morning. All had slept the sleep of the dead, waking heavy headed and unusually befuddled. It was as if man and beast had come under the same enchantment.
All save one. An elderly woman living on the outskirts of the village recalled hearing strange noises coming from the meadow behind her house. It was after twilight and she was loathe to leave the safety of her dwelling but being a curious being she ventured out into her back yard and across her wall in the field beyond, she spotted a figure as tall as a house, striding amongst the cows wearing a bottle green coloured top hat with a large feather jutting out of the side, the moon was full and she could see him clear as day she owned. He was singing or chanting to himself she thought. She feared that she had made some noise to startle him for he immediately whistled and a full grown stag appeared over the bordering hedge and then to her amazement the tall gentleman hopped over the bushes to land on the deer’s back and the strange couple sped away in an instant.
Her testament was deemed unsatisfactory due to the fact that she was a woman know for strange flights of fancy and a great liking for the her own specially brewed ale.
Emmeline Loxley had to all intensive purposes vanished into thin air. Her parents struggled with their despair. Her father walked the woods with his dogs calling his only child’s name over and over, his words coming back to haunt him in the echo of the stillness. Her mother took to her bed.
A change in the weather brought rain and thunder storms. The people of Foxbridge turned their concern to the land and the harvest.
One evening in late July, Thomas Palmer, a young farm hand of eighteen years was walking home from a day’s toil in the fields. He trudged wearily along the cobbled road that separated the fields of Foxbridge from the east side of Followhill Wood. His thoughts were on the meal his mother was at that moment placing on the table in readiness for his arrival. He quickened his step in anticipation, his mouth watering. He barely heard the moan until he had passed the style on his right side that provided entrance into the forest. So low was the noise that he nearly walked on in his hunger. Thomas stopped and listened.
The sound was coming from inside the forest. Thomas looked about him, he was alone on the road, and he cursed under his breath already seeing his mother putting the plate back to heat. He turned off the road, climbed the stile and followed the sound into the forest.
Following the well worn path, a path he had walked recently with his fellow villagers his pulse quickened as the sound became clearer. It was the soft cry of a woman, or young girl. Thomas felt the forest closing in upon him; he loosened his shirt and wiped the moisture that was already forming under his floppy fringe. He took a deep breath and walked quickly on. Minutes later he came upon the dishevelled form of Emmeline Loxley.
She sat hunched over against the roots of an old willow, her back to a large fox hole. Her hair was in disarray, her attire bedraggled. Her pretty features were twisted into an attitude of fear and distrust. She tossed her tangled auburn locks back and forth as if watching for something or someone. On sighting the young farm hand in front of her she jumped up rapidly and grabbed his arm, her fingernails he noted were ragged and black with earth, some nails were broken and bloody as if she had scratched and pulled them. She cried and fired words at him in such a garbled and rapid manner that he could not understand her.
“Slow down Miss Loxley, I can’t make you out”. He patted her arm awkwardly.
She stopped her crying, her tears cracking fissures in her filthy face and she gestured with one dirty hand to the large hole behind them and whispered more slowly than before as if it were an effort to get the words out so slowly.
“Quick! Before he comes through. Quick!” she scrambled up onto the path and charged off. Thomas watched her run barefoot through the forest as if the hounds of hell themselves were on her heels. She hopped the stile in one movement. He could see her frightened eyes, wide and unblinking in shock as she looked behind him into the forest, from whose clutches she had just made her escape. “Please “she mouthed at him.
Thomas paused as he crossed the stile with one leg still in the forest. Her fear made him glance behind him and it seemed to him that he heard a low whispering lament. And he was suddenly sorrowful, as if he had lost something precious to him though he could not think of what it was.
He caught a glimpse of movement, a flash of silvery light.
He felt a tremendous temptation to step back across the stile and walk amongst the trees, he yearned to discard his heavy working boots and to wander barefoot in the soft velvety moss. He wished to lie on the forest floor, scattered with the blanket of last years’ leaves and look up at the light that fell in mosaic patterns through the heavy canopy of the trees. He turned his back to the lane and was pulling his leg back over the stile when he felt an urgent tug on his arm.
“Please sir, I beg you. Make haste” Emmeline Loxley’s pallid face, her eyes twin points of fear burned into his own. She pulled his arm with such force that he half fell over the old wooden step. He shook his head and climbed out onto the road, his back to Followhill Wood and he walked the hobbling girl back to the safety of the village.
Opinion was divided in the village of Foxbridge. There were some who believed the tale coming from the Loxleys themselves; that Emmeline had been snatched by travelling Gypsies on the edge of the forest and held captive until she had escaped and made her way home on foot.
And there were those who had heard the other rumours.
A neighbour who they said had been visiting the Loxleys on the evening of her return had a more interesting tale to tell. She herself witnessed Emmeline collapse into her mother’s arms and recalled her rambling words as she was carried up the stairs to her room. Emmeline had cried of a handsome prince from the forest who had taken her to his underground realm. Once there she had been married against her will. Her time in his kingdom was a nightmare of dancing and feasting and being locked in a barred room full of spiders and mice until she had woken up and dug herself out into the forest, pulling through the earth and tree roots with her own bare hands. It was soon afterwards that Thomas Palmer had heard her cries and helped her escape.
However, the only flaw with this tale was Thomas Palmer himself who on being first questioned recalled seeing a band of silver on her marriage finger but later his memory failed him and he could only remember walking back from helping with the harvest, eager for his dinner and then nothing more until he arrived in the village with the missing girl. Further more each time he tried to think on that day he felt drowsy and his head ached. After a while he gave up trying. And soon forgot the incident entirely. It was found he was suffering from heatstroke.
It was very unsettling for the villagers. And so provided a healthy subject for discussion on many a chilly autumn night about the fire.
Of the girl in question, not much was seen. The doctor called to the house daily for a week of so, it was found that she was suffering from extreme exhaustion and could receive no visitors.
She was spotted walking at night in the garden behind her house, a wisp of white against the night’s dark. It became a habit for her until her father put a stop to her rambling. A neighbour
who made it her business to keep an eye on the mysterious girl watched him dash out and with great cajoling and some force manage to pull Emmeline back into the house where he locked the back door and pulled the shutters in her bedroom window.
The neighbour noted that the girl had seemed to be humming to herself as she leaned by the back wall of the garden, with her head on one side as if she was waiting for someone.
That was the last time anyone in Foxbridge saw Emmeline Loxley. The next time she lay in a coffin in the village church.
Following her nightly perambulations she was kept hidden from sight.
The doctor’s visits ceased. The neighbours were told Ms Loxley had left Foxbridge to stay with relatives for her health. Those who enquired after their daughter’s health would be told that she was improving and would be soon well enough to return home. But one thing puzzled the people of Foxbridge, if Emmeline Loxley had left the village why then had bars appeared over the windows of her bedroom?
And so nothing further was heard of her and village life continued. Christmas came and went. Old folks slipped away in their sleep and babies came screaming into the world.
Eight months later Emmeline’s mother lay prostrate across the bed, her head on her dead child’s bosom.
The long months of worry and shame had taken their toll. Good looks had fled from the woman once deemed handsome, leaving her aged and drawn. Her daughter’s death held her heart in a tight fist of pain.
The events of last Midsummer’s night had unravelled the tidy lives of the three Loxleys. She recalled the despair of her daughter’s disappearance, the terrifying fear, the weeks of torment when every knock at the door caused a vibration through the house. What news? What news? What news? Her appearance had been a joyous relief until the following weeks were to show that contrary to appearances their daughter was not now the person they had known. Emmeline refused to alter the story of what had happened to her in the three weeks she had been gone. Her mother believed that her initial collapse and incoherent mumblings would fade away once she recovered her strength. But if anything the strangeness got worse. She screamed about her “husband” coming for her, she refused to stay indoors shouting to be allowed to walk in the woods, saying that he was calling to her. Her father caught her wandering the garden in only her nightgown with a far away look in her eyes, she scratched and bit him when he tried to bring her inside.
They were at their wits end.
A doctor came under the guise of a travelling salesman after nightfall one night. He was handsomely paid for his subterfuge. He diagnosed melancholia and advised a change of diet and various therapies to keep her mind occupied such as needlework and embroidery; none of which worked. After two months passed, he diagnosed another problem.
Emmeline Loxley was with child.
It was at this time that tales of Emmeline’s having left the area were circulated.
Things went from bad to worse. Pregnancy did not bring out the best in her; she spent the first four months being violently sick. Gone was the village beauty, her comely figure pared away to skin and bones, her once lustrous hair hung limply down her back, eyes that had shone so brightly on that Midsummer’s’ Night were now lifeless and dim seeming huge in her narrow pointed face.
She could not be made to rest, pacing the floors without cease. A nurse was employed to help the Loxleys; a woman from outside the village who had placed an advertisement in the local paper looking for a live in position. A widow woman in her fifties she seemed more than capable to deal with their daughter.
Emmeline no longer resembled their daughter either physically or mentally. She frightened them with her ravings about those who dwelled beneath the ground, talking to her parents as if they were her subjects asking for delicacies the likes of which they had never heard before. When happy in her self she danced about the bedroom ripping the flowers from the jug on the dresser and arranging them in her lank locks. . Most times she sat in the wicker chair by her window listening to the wind whistling through the shutters whispering over and over “Does he come? Does he come?”
She tried to climb out of the bedroom window one wild autumn night when lightning cut up the lawn and the animals whined and cried in their fear. The next day her father bolted heavy bars across the windows.
She was quieter when she was heavy with child, the child lay uneasily in her belly, hampering her movements, she grabbed her mother’s arm as she moved about the room for aid. Her mother tried not to shudder in repulsion for her daughter’s finger nails appeared sharp and pointed as a cat’s claws.
As the pregnancy progressed so did her mental decline. She recognised neither parent nor nurse, wandering in a daze of incoherence, muttering and singing strange songs. She refused to dress preferring to remain in her nightgown and would eat only sweet cakes and drink syrupy concoctions. When the pains finally come her parent’s welcomed them as a release. Hoping their child would be returned to them.
And now she was gone. Her mother sobbed against the bones of her only child. Then spent, she lay as if in a stupor willing her own barren life to end.
The nurse rocked the infant in her arms as she sat on the wicker chair, crooning tunelessly over and back. She placed the now peaceful child in the wooden cradle, tucking him in tightly with deft fingers. “Sleep tight my prince” she called as she moved quickly back to her customary chair by the window and folded her hands into her lap. She smiled and in that moment her face changed in aspect – her cheekbones sharpened, her pupils darkened and the shape of her eyes became more almond shaped, the edges drawn up to the sides of her head. Sharp teeth rested on her now plump lips. But only for a moment and the observer would have thought that it was just a trick of the light for then it was as if her features realigned and she again became the weary nurse troubled by the evening’s occurrences and worried about the babe in her charge. Emmeline’s mother remained stretched across her dead daughter’s corpse, unmoving and uncaring.
With a crash, the door to the chamber was flung open wide. Into the room strode a tall flaxen haired gentleman swinging an ornately carved stick in his hand as if bracing for trouble. He came to an abrupt beside the cradle and plucked the slumbering child into his arms. He held him up above his head crying with unbridled delight. The child woke and chuckled as he was swung about and it looked as if both were dancing, they moved so quickly. The infant never muttered a cry or wail. The tall gentleman tucked him under one arm and crossed to the centre of the room. Dropping gracefully to one knee he held the child out.
“Look last on your mother, my darkling” and he laid a kiss on the dead girl’s forehead.
And then turning thrice on the spot he disappeared, baby and all.
When Emmeline’s mother came to from her stupor she had no recollection of preceding events. She wept afresh to see her only child lying dead before her, taken by a fever, a result of her wanderings in the Fallow Wood. Her face finally peaceful and so full of the beauty of youth that it broke the hearts of all who later came to pay their respects.
Only a handful of autumn leaves, already curling remained on the wicker chair by the window. Of a child no trace remained neither hair nor crib.
Mr Loxley left the local ale house the worse for wear, grieving for his sick daughter. He saddled his horse and returned to discover the death of his only child, now cradled in his wife’s arms.
They lived out the remainder of their lives in quiet bereavement in the sleeping village of Foxbridge where they spent their days gardening and visiting their neighbours.
And so the story of Madeline Loxley faded away with the passage of time. But on Midsummer’s night when the thoughts of young maiden’s strayed to sweethearts and love potions they recalled the tales told by the hearthside on cold winter nights. They recalled the whispered warnings of their grandparents and the village elders against wandering through Followhill Wood when the moon was high and the king under the hill walked the land in search of a wife.
About the Author:
Fiona Cooke Hogan is a writer, poet, blogger and editor from the beautiful fey midland of Ireland. She has published four books on Amazon - The Lights Went Out and Other Stories; a collection of unusal fiction with tales ranging from the supernatural, humorous and romantic, to horror and dark faerie. What Happened in Dingle is a romantic comedy novella set in County Kerry.
Fiona has two collections of dark, gothic horror published under the name FB Hogan - The Nightmare and Death Comes Calling.
She blogs at Unusual Fiction about nature, her work, and random musings.
Find her at her facebook author page - the Hazel Hedge
Check out her books on her Amazon Author Page
Flight of the Fiery Ones
by Jay Wilburn
“My father calls them slutterflies.”
The other boys laughed, but Jake kept his chin rested on the ground in silence. His father just called them the fiery ones like the priests and elders referred to them in sermons and homilies. Jake could only think in fear about the anger of his father in the darkened house behind them and in terror of the creatures in the dark forest ahead of them.
Jake saw most of the boys had backed out of their oaths made in the safe light of day.
Donavan slapped Jake’s back hard enough to sting and made him jump.
“You don’t think that’s funny, Jake?”
“He doesn’t get it, but he’ll get it tonight.”
The boys laughed again as Jake kept his chin to the ground.
Donavan snorted. “Oh, we all get it tonight. How much longer are we going to wait? I didn’t risk my dad killing me to miss it.”
Toby looked back toward the darkened village. “I think it may just be the five of us. I knew Morgan would be too scared. I’m a little disappointed Cooper is yellow considering what he’s giving up. Surprised Jake had the stones to sneak out though.”
Donavan slapped Jake again making him grunt. “No. Jake is about to become a man. You’ll see.”
“Are you going to watch it happen, Donavan?”
Donavan flipped his hand under his chin at the other boy. “How can I watch with my eyes rolled up in my head?”
“His lid will pop right off, I bet.”
Toby shook his head. “No, they aren’t coming. We need to go. The village looks evil with all the lights snuffed. Creepy.”
“Slutterflies are attracted to light.”
“I’m going to tie a torch on the end of my snake.”
The boys laughed. Toby walked toward the forest and the others followed. Donavan took a handful of the back of Jake’s shirt and pulled.
Jake lifted his chin and took to his feet.
If Jake had not been in the middle of the pack with the bulk of Donavan behind him, he might have bolted for the darkened village. The trees felt very close and the darkness seemed to deepen as they weaved between the trunks.
Jake had trouble following the shapes in front of him. He wanted to reach out to feel the shoulder ahead of him to be sure he wasn’t following ghosts. He couldn’t remember if Toby led the line or if he walked directly in front of Jake. Toby would mock him, if Jake touched him in the dark out of fear.
Donavan tripped on a root behind Jake and stumbled into Jake’s back. He squeaked under Donavan’s weight as they both grabbed a tree to keep upright.
Toby called from the front of the line. “You boys playing grab and tickle back there?’
Donavan shoved Jake a few steps ahead as the other boys laughed.
“Just tripped over my trouser snake, Toby. You wouldn’t understand.”
“I’m just glad you finally found it, Tiny.”
The darkness lifted noticeably as they topped the next slope and weaved back down between the slanting trees. Jake glanced up at the interlaced fingers of braches in the black canopy above them. He could not see the Moon or stars, but he could faintly make out the veins in the underside of the leaves. Jake looked ahead between the shoulders of the boys in front of him as their silhouettes crossed one another picking their way down the slope. The light glowed beyond the trees in the distance ahead of them.
Jake shivered, but held his jaws clinched to keep the others from hearing his teeth chatter. He couldn’t imagine they were close enough to see the fiery ones yet. He could not convince himself that he imagined the light though. The Moon had not begun glowing from the ground up no matter how upside down the world felt on this most dangerous of nights.
He heard the other boys’ breath hissing through their nostrils as their chests heaved. Jake wasn’t sure whether they were excited or afraid.
He was afraid.
Jake slipped, but flailed to keep from touching the boy in front of him. He staggered back up to walking before Donavan could yank him up from behind. Jake glanced back and saw Donavan’s eyes reflecting the growing glow ahead of them. Even with the illumination, the boy’s eyes dilated out to the very edges of the normally brown color. The thought that Donavan might be afraid filled Jake with deeper dread.
Donavan pawed at the front of his pants and stared ahead as he adjusted himself. Jake looked back forward. He tried not to listen to the bigger boy’s breathing as Jake felt Donavan’s harsh exhales against the nape of his neck. His breath felt hot and sticky every time it puffed into Jake’s collar, but it made Jake want to shiver more in the night air.
Toby crouched down between the double trunks of two gnarled mangrove trees. The other boys froze in place. The light blazed up from below Toby’s perch. Jake had never seen a living mangrove, but he knew the petrified ones lined the dry canyon which split the forest. Jake’s father told him the trees marked the path of a great flooding river from a time when the world was different and the fiery ones followed ancient waters before people stood on two legs. Jake did not understand this story as the priests insisted that the first men were created standing, like a foal rising up straight from birth. The priests had no explanation for the fiery ones either.
“Are they naked?”
“What do you see, Toby?”
Toby waved his fist in the air behind him. “Shut up, before you give us up, idiots.”
Jake found himself agreeing with Toby.
Donavan walked between the others and lay on his belly peering under the curve of one of the trunks.
“God in Heaven, there must be a hundred thousand of them.”
“More,” Toby breathed.
The other two boys lowered to their hands and knees and crawled forward. They arrived on both sides of the petrified wood and stared over the lip of the canyon wall.
“It’s like daytime.”
“What do we do now?”
Toby sniffed. “If you have to ask, you probably just need to pull on yourself while you watch the men handle them.”
Donavan glanced around the trunk at Toby. “What do we do now?”
Toby shook his head. “I’m not sure. This isn’t like your sister behind the chapel.”
Donavan punched Toby’s shoulder. “My sister wouldn’t have you to save her soul from damnation, you donkey.”
Toby nodded. “That’s why this isn’t like that. We get to have them and damnation too, I think.”
Jake thought about all the years they had played in the dry canyon as children. Families did not allow their daughters to join the boys playing in the forest. Boys could not be trusted. The priests and elders said so at every opportunity. To Jake’s knowledge, all they ever did until now was run, fight, dig, and come back dirty.
The canyon was shallow enough to run down the sides without losing one’s feet and easy enough to climb without ropes. It lay close enough to hear bells from the village and most mothers’ calls.
The canyon now seemed unworldly and impossibly far with the village blacked out in fear behind them.
“We shouldn’t be out here.” Jake didn’t realize he had spoken until the words were far past his lips.
Toby turned his head. “Here it is. The coward speaks his heart at the very moment of victory.”
Donavan waved his hand. “Take it easy, Toby. The cowards never left their houses. Until we take the plunge ourselves, we’ve all come the same distance.”
“Are you comparing me to that gelding who won’t even look over the edge?”
Donavan stared. Jake saw the light pass over the bigger boy’s face and eyes. Jake counted at least four hues just off the skin. He imagined their wings and naked bodies as they migrated through the canyon.
He wanted to look, but his feet stayed planted.
“What is that dripping off of them?”
Donavan and Toby didn’t look away from one another.
Toby leaned in and blocked Donavan’s face from Jake’s view. “Are you going to pull and watch with the other geldings, Donavan?”
Donavan said, “I’ve come as far as you, Toby. I just don’t talk as much to fool people into believing I have courage as some feel they must.”
“It looks like honey.”
“Except that it glows. Do you think it’s sticky?”
Toby stood and braced his foot in the crux of the trees. “You can watch me fly with the slutterflies and we’ll talk courage once I’m spent.”
Donavan snorted. “I’m not scared, Toby. And you’re still talking.”
“I bet it’s sweet.”
“It looks hot like metal from the furnace.”
“I think one just looked up here. Toby, get down.”
Toby held the trees and stared into the light of the canyon. Donavan laughed. Toby stood on the tree and spread his hands.
“Come and get it, ladies.”
Donavan kept laughing as the other two boys cursed.
Donavan slid under the trunk and off the edge still laughing. Jake jolted as the big boy vanished and his laughter echoed out from the dirt channel unnaturally.
Toby cursed and looked back at Jake. Toby’s eyes stood wide and his jaw hung slack.
“I can’t believe he did it. They caught him in mid air.”
“They already have his clothes off.”
Jake shook his head and took a step back. “Don’t do it, Toby.”
Toby smiled and leapt through the fork in the tree still looking at Jake as he dropped off the side.
“Oh, that had to hurt.”
“He’s up. He’s up.”
“I’ll go, if you go.”
The other two snaked off the side and down into the canyon. The light twisted and flickered off the trees in rapid pulses. Jake backed into a trunk and held it with both hands behind him.
Someone cheered and Jake heard a grunt and moan from two different voices.
A hint of wings surfaced in Jake’s sight. They glowed yellow like the midday sun with swatches of red and purple like the setting or the dawn. He saw a curve of bare skin the color of honey in light. It did look hot.
Jake tried to swallow, but failed. His throat caught and he felt the urge to cough.
He saw more motion at the edge of the canyon.
Jake clapped his hand over his mouth and backed away from the edge deeper into the trees. His breath escaped through his fingers in muffled barks.
A song lifted up from the canyon in a chorus of feminine voices speaking different syllables and tones in a language that couldn’t be human. The song lacked beauty, but it filled Jake with desire.
He heard a scream and he did choke. Jake fell to his belly and hid from the light behind a living tree farther from the edge.
“Help me. Help me. God, please.”
He still had his mouth covered as he moved his head from behind the base of his tree.
He saw the skeletal fingers clutched the crux of the mangroves. Jake waited for the wings, but Donavan’s bloody scalp rose into view.
Jake drew back behind the tree and closed his eyes on the world. He wished himself away from the trees and darkness. He wished himself back to his bedroom where his mother told fairy stories about portly women in winged gowns granting wishes.
He saw light through his lids around the edges of his eyes and it gave him no comfort.
Someone screamed and it echoed off the walls of the canyon. Jake opened his eyes and peeked around the tree.
Donavan scrambled naked and scarred over the trees on his knees on the ground.
Jake held his breath as a figure soared into the air behind Donavan. Jake opened his mouth, but no sound came. As the body spun in a corkscrew, Jake saw the eyes still open wide and the jaw hanging slack.
Toby’s body hurled through the air above Donavan and past Jake’s tree. He heard it strike the trunks deeper in the woods and fall to the ground.
Donavan held onto the tree staring past Jake and cried.
Jake stared for a few seconds before he realized the flesh of the bigger boy’s hands had split and peeled back from the bones of his fingers. When Donavan staggered to his feet, Jake gagged at the sight of the shreds of flesh between his legs.
Donavan ran forward. “Help me.”
Jake rested his chin against the ground hoping not to be seen. He dug his fingers into the soil under the mat of wet leaves and waited for Donavan to step on him. He waited for the bigger boy to drip sticky on him from his wounds.
Bile leaked up into Jake’s throat and burned.
Donavan pulled up short and arched his back. Light blazed in long beams between his legs, under his arms, and around his head. Jake’s mother called that effect a halo. Jake had heard the priests call it horns of glory.
Transparent wings unfurled behind Donavan as he stood with his head thrown back and his mouth open to the sky. Jake pictured the boy evolving into a new life form. He stared at Donavan’s bones through his broken hands and imagined the boy’s human skin folding away like a cocoon to reveal what he became from his passion with the fiery ones.
The bright fingers slid over Donavan’s shoulders from behind and laced around the boy’s throat. The glowing arms seemed too thin to carry any strength. Amber fluid oozed off the dainty forearms and ran down Donavan’s bare chest. The flesh sizzled as furrows formed through the charred skin.
The fingers closed and Donavan’s tongue protruded into the air pointing toward the sky.
Jake rolled up to sitting behind his tree with his back to the trunk and the deadly canyon. He closed his eyes, but was too afraid to lift his hands to cover his ears. He feared the monster would see his elbows around the sides of the tree, so he heard every terrible sound with his palms against the ground.
Something rolled to a stop beside him and Jake whined, but would not look.
More screams echoed in the canyon. A piercing screech replaced the chorus of alien singing. The light built in the sky above Jake, but he kept his eyes closed. He heard the leaves crackling above him and felt the hot bits of ash snow down onto his cheeks and into his hair.
He kept his eyes closed.
The object rested on his wrist and he felt warm liquid seep over the back of his hand. It rolled to one side and Jake felt the cold lips brush his arm and then the dry tongue.
He jerked his hand away and opened his eyes. Jake looked up so he would not see what he knew lay beside him. The branches of the trees above him swirled with flame.
“They can see me.”
Screeches answered his whisper.
Jake took to his feet and ran between the flickering trees as smoke swirled down from above him.
Something locked onto his ankle and brought Jake down to his knees. He expected his foot to sheer off like the bigger boy’s skull.
“Help me, Jake, please.”
Jake turned and saw Toby holding him twisted against the ground. Jake jerked his foot away from the naked boy’s grasp.
Jake grabbed Toby’s arm and expected him to scream as his bones ground against one another. The bloody boy surprised Jake by regaining his feet even after his terrible flight. Toby held one hand clamped over his crotch and Jake looked away as they ran through the burning trees.
Light raced across the canopy above them and ignited more trees. Toby stared upward as Jake guided him along in a staggering run.
Jake stared at the ground until he was grabbed from behind and pulled down under a felled log. Toby spun and dropped to the leaves a few steps farther along.
Jake opened his mouth to scream, but a powerful hand clamped over his lips and Jake waited for his head to twist off his neck.
“Be still, son. They follow if you run.”
Jake rolled his eyes and saw his father’s face under the log with him. Jake felt ashamed.
Toby scrambled to his feet and kept running.
Jake’s father called. “Boy, don’t lead them to the village.”
Jake started to rise, but his father pressed his shoulders back to the ground. He rested his chin in the leaves with the weight of his father’s hands on his back.
Streams of flame raced down through the trees at Toby’s path from different angles.
“Jake, don’t look. You don’t have to see it.”
He kept his chin to the ground and closed his eyes. He still saw the bright flashes through his eyelids and he imagined what there was to see as he heard Toby scream in the distance. Explosions sounded farther ahead and shook the ground.
“Did they find the village, father? What about mother?”
“There is nothing we can do about it now. Be still.”
“I’m sorry I disobeyed you. Will the fire reach us?”
“The ground is wet. We might be okay depending on the wind and the length of their attack.”
“Can I be forgiven for this?”
His father did not answer, but kept his hands on Jake’s back as they hid under the log. The fire burned behind them and the smoke dried Jake’s throat. They remained still through the night even after the explosions ceased. Jake eventually slept as his father watched.
About the Author:
Jay Wilburn is an author of horror, sci fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. He recently received a life-saving kidney transplant and is currently working on training to run ultra-marathon distances. He taught school for sixteen years before quitting in February of 2013 and has been a full-time writer ever since. You can find his work at http://www.jaywilburn.com/books/ or on Amazon. Check out the Dead Song Legend series, The Great Interruption, The Enemy Held Near, Yard Full of Bones and more.
"Flight of the Fiery Ones" is a bit of a horror take on the Fae. It plays with perspective as the characters deal with the unknown, the forbidden, and the bold ignorance of being young and male.
Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...
Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty - especially if they learn of her Sight - and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.
Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost — regardless of her plans or desires.
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.
Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twenty-first-century faery tale.
Mercedes Thompson, aka Mercy, is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy's next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she's fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy's connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water...
1) Tell us about your book (s) (or short story)
The story I have included is a prequel to my dark fantasy/horror Fae story Halfling. I hope to release it later in the year. The main story follows Riley Teague, the daughter of a Fae and a hunter. When she is almost killed, she discovers this supernatural world and her place in it.
2) Who is your main character? Tell us about them.
The main character is Riley. In my short here, Azaria is the main character and Riley's mother. Riley has never had anyone to rely on in life. She is a trouble maker and has a rival in Lauren, the girl who may or may not be her half sister.
3) What is your favorite Fae myth or story?
I like stories about the Banshee. It always scared me as a child.
4) The Fae. Helpful magical creatures? Or mischievous tricksters?
Probably leaning more towards tricksters or trouble makers. They are only interested in helping themselves.
5) What is your Fae elemental? Salamander (Fire) Undine (Water) Brownie (Earth) or Sylph (Air)
I haven't include elementals in my stories, but I like Sylph's personally.
Azaria knew she would never get the chance again. Taking a breath, she hurled herself through the rift, with no thought as to where it would take her. She tumbled forever, finally landing with a thump on the hard ground. Opening her eyes, she winced as the glare hit her. Everything was so bright.
It took several minutes for her eyes to adjust, but when they did, she was surprised to find herself in the middle of a field. She lay on a carpet of rich green grass and behind her was a huge oak, stretching to the skies. It was so beautiful.
Getting to her feet, she marvelled at the life around her, not like the dark, twisted world she left behind.
"I'm in the human world," she murmured. It had been such a long time since she had set foot here. She had followed her mother here once. Back when she had tried to escape her tyrannical father, before he closed off passage to the otherworlds.
She knew she could never return to the Fae realm. If she returned, her father would put her to death. This would be her home now.
Flipping her long hair back over her shoulder, she started walking. There had to be humans around here somewhere. Humans weren't that different from Fae, in appearance anyway. They were very closed off creatures though. Most of them didn’t even believe other worlds existed. How naïve
She arrived at a village, or what was it the humans called it? A town?
She could see people up ahead. Two male humans were loading a large object onto a big metal box with wheels.
Azaria slowed as she approached them. One whistled at her, making her smile. She was considered a beauty back home. Being the princess of the Fae world didn’t hurt her appeal to the opposite sex. At least not in the beginning. Before her father lost his mind and turned their world into a war zone. Azaria was expected to fall in line and join the fight, but she was a lover, not a fighter. She thought she would do quite well in the human world. Sure, they were violent too, but they weren’t destroying an entire world.
The whistling turned into lewd comments. Both men approached her, checking out her body. Glancing down, she realized she was dressed in a gossamer gown, a see through one. Humans were more modest, choosing to cover their bodies.
“Hey gorgeous, you lost?” the smaller of the men asked.
She didn’t understand the question.
“I seek sustenance,” she said. Travelling had made her weary and hungry.
The one who had spoken looked confused.
“She’s hungry,” his friend translated.
“I can buy you dinner, but I’ll expect a goodnight kiss,” the small one said.
Something caught Azaria’s eye. A man dressed in black leather had exited a building across the street. The sign above the door read, Sam’s Bar. There was something about him, he wasn’t human. He was something else.
Abandoning the two men, she crossed the street to him. A loud screech filled the air as one of the metal boxes stopped inches from her.
Azaria ran her hand over it, to soothe the beast. It was hot to the touch.
“Get out of the road, you crazy bitch!” A man yelled from inside the box.
Returning her attention to the man in leather, she approached him. He was watching her, sipping from a glass bottle. He was well built, with long black hair and a thick beard.
“What are you?” Azaria purred, putting a hand on his chest.
He grabbed her by the wrist and inhaled deeply. “What are you?”
“I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.”
He took her arm and led her into a nearby alley.
“Gage!” someone said.
They turned to find a fair-haired man approach, carrying a sword.
“Adrian,” the leather man spat.
“Luring young women into dark alleys?”
Gage scoffed. “In case you haven’t noticed, she’s doing the leading and it’s the middle of the afternoon.”
“I told you to stay out of town,” Adrian said.
Gage faced off against him. He was taller and stronger than Adrian.
Azaria watched the exchange. The threat of violence excited her. Perhaps she was more like her father than she realized.
A few more words were exchanged, and Gage stalked off. Azaria started to follow him, but Adrian blocked her way with his arm. “You don’t want to do that. He’s dangerous.”
“I like danger,” she replied.
“You go after him and you’ll likely end up dead.”
Azaria let her eyes travel over the man. For a human, he seemed very powerful. She caught him looking at her body and smiled.
“I should reward you for saving me,” she said, moving close to him.
“Whoa, darling. I’m married.” He waved his left hand at her, which was adorned with a gold band.
The Fae were not monogamous creatures, love was shared freely. Another reason why the humans were intriguing.
“I don’t mind,” she said.
“Well, I do,” he said, taking a step back. “Who are you, anyway?”
“Azaria, daughter of Oberone. Princess of…”
“Whoa, hang on. Princess? You’re not from around here, are you?” he said.
“I am Fae.”
His grip tightened on the sword, his stance became rigid. “I’ve dealt with Fae before. It ended bloody.”
For the first time Azaria felt something akin to fear. “I have no desire to fight you. I escaped my world and I cannot return.”
“Why here?” he asked.
“This is where I landed through the portal. I only want to live in peace,” she said.
Adrian sighed. “You’re not going to fit in dressed like that.” He took his jacket off and handed it to her.
“Come with me, I’ll get you some clothes.”
She followed him from the alley, curious as to why she needed more clothes, when she would like it very much if they both shed theirs. The leather man had disappeared, and she was disappointed. She would look for him later, following his scent should be easy.
The man called Adrian led her to a metal box. He helped her inside. She watched as he used a small key to make the beast purr. She giggled as he pulled away from the curb.
“Never been in a car before?” he asked, looking amused.
“No, it is a mighty beast,” she said.
He laughed, “That it is.”
She watched the scenery as it whizzed past. It made her feel dizzy and she loved it. Settling back in the seat, she closed her eyes, feeling weary all of a sudden.
“You’ll never escape me, Azaria.”
Her eyes snapped open as she heard her father’s last words before she fled. His face was so full of hatred towards her. He had never been a kind father, he was distant and strict, but she never believed that he hated her. He had become consumed with gaining power and all because the old woman had told him about her. The rise of the Morrigan. The Morrigan was feared among the Fae. All powerful, she could decimate all of Fae kind if she wanted to. For most, she was a horror story told to children, but the old woman said she would be reborn and she would rule once more. Oberone flew into a rage. He would never give up his throne, so he was determined to rule over everyone, then the Morrigan would have nothing.
Nothing, because he left nothing once he was done. Nothing but a wasteland.
It took a moment for Azaria to realize that they had stopped. A huge house stood before them.
“A castle,” Azaria said. “Are you a prince?”
Adrian laughed. “No, far from it. It’s a family home. Come on inside, no one is here.”
She followed him into the castle. It was beautiful. She kept stopping to look at things and Adrian had to move her along. He led her into a bedroom and opened a wardrobe. He removed several gowns and laid them out on the bed.
“You can pick something to wear. These belong to my wife, but I’m sure she won’t miss one.”
Azaria ran her hands over them. The material was coarser than she was used to, but the colors were amazing. She picked up a blue one and held it against her.
Dropping it back on the bed, she stripped off her own gown, letting it fall to the floor. Adrian’s face went red and he quickly turned away.
“If it pleases you to look, then look,” she said.
“I’m good,” he said.
She dressed in the gown and spun around for him. “How do I look?”
“Good. Nice. We should go.”
“I need to take you to the other hunters, so they can make a decision on what to do with you.”
“Hunters?” she said, backing away.
He held up his hands. “No, it’s okay. They won’t hurt you. Once they see that you are not a threat, they can decide what to do.”
Azaria didn’t know much about the human world, but she understood the word hunter. She would not be slain now, not after all she had been through. She backed away, as Adrian approached her.
She felt her wings unfurl, tearing the dress. They sprang out and Adrian let out a cry of alarm.
“Holy shit,” he said. “They look like…angel wings.”
“What is an angel?” she asked. She folded them behind her. They were a beautiful, vibrant white. White like her mother’s. Her father’s wings were black.
“It’s a…Never mind. I promise you, no one is going to hurt you. Please trust me.”
She stared at him. Trust wasn’t something she did easily, but there was something about him. He was kind to her.
“Okay,” she said.
“Um, you can’t go out like that,” he said, pointing to her wings.
She closed her eyes, concentrating on retracting the wings. When they were out of sight, she changed into another gown, this one was white.
They returned to the car and he drove them back through the town. He stopped in a deserted spot, about a hundred yards from a house.
“I’ll go in first and talk to them.”
She felt the fear again. “Please don’t. I am not dangerous. I will go away, and you won’t see me again.” She clutched his arm, eyes filling with tears.
“Don’t cry. Please, I promise it will be okay,” he said.
She leaned in and kissed him, knowing what her Fae aura could do to a human. He kissed her back for a second, then pulled away. “I can’t do this.”
“Yes, you can.”
She straddled him, kissing him passionately. He stopped resisting.
About the Author:
Kat Gracey is from Northern Ireland and she writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Her latest book Brewing Storm is available now and she hopes to release Halflings later this month.
1) Tell us about your book (s) (or short story).
My series that includes the fae is The Coven Series, a YA dark fantasy tale following a teenage witch named Harley as she discovers her powers, heritage, and her place in the world. The fae in book one are called dryadali, which are fae who were kidnapped and infused with Dark magic, to create a new evil creature. The dryadali make you relive a repressed memory (usually a horrible one), and once you're in their trance, they eat you.
There are also helpful blue elves who are like messengers and who tend to the forests and help protect the Covens around the world.
In books two and three, faeries take a more central role. The Goddess created them on Midsummer, and they despise magicians (witches and wizards) because they believe only the fae should be allowed to use magic.
In book three, which releases March 23rd, 2019, we will see my heroine, Harley, join forces with the faeries to stop a new villain.
2) Who is your main character? Tell us about them.
My main character is not a faerie, but a witch. Her name is Harley, and when the series starts she's only fourteen years old and living with her adoptive parents. She believes herself to be an orphan, until the Coven King comes to take her away to his Coven, which is where she rightfully belongs. Once there, she learns that her father is actually alive, and possibly in league with a terrible villain who wants to kill apprentice magicians and take control of the Coven.
Shy, quiet, and incredibly brilliant, Harley is one of the rare few with both Dark and Light magic in their blood, and she struggles to learn how to control it, as her emotions tend to cause her magic to become volatile.
3) What is your favorite Fae myth or story?
I actually found out that the "black dog" myth is actually related to the Fae in some lore. I've always been fascinated by it ever since I was nine and read The Hound of the Baskervilles.
4) The Fae. Helpful magical creatures? Or mischievous tricksters?
Both. They can help if they want, but I figure they'd rather spend their time being mischievous. In my stories, the faeries are helpful, as are the elves, but faeries only like helping humans or other non-magic creatures. Many of them are employed around the world by the paranormal government. But when it comes to witches and wizards, they'd much rather see them suffer.
5) What is your Fae elemental? Salamander (Fire) Undine (Water) Brownie (Earth) or Sylph (Air)
My faeries are all of the above. In my version, the Goddess created them of all four elements, plus using her own Spirit energy.
1) Tell us about your book (s) (or short story)
My short story features Khloe, an accident prone young woman. She is best friends with Lilah. She learns a shocking secret and discovers a world of fairies.
2) Who is your main character? Tell us about them.
Khloe is nicknamed Klutz. She is always falling an hurting herself, but there is a reason behind it. She is a young woman, still finding her way and figuring out who she is.
3) What is your favorite Fae myth or story?
I like the stories of the Changeling, hence my short story.
4) The Fae. Helpful magical creatures? Or mischievous tricksters?
I think a little of both, but I don't think they would do anything for free!
5) What is your Fae elemental? Salamander (Fire) Undine (Water) Brownie (Earth) or Sylph (Air)
My Fae are Sylphs. They can vanish into thin air.
It takes a high level of skill to trip over nothing, but I was good at it. Tripping was what I was known for, that and dropping things, oh, and injuring myself. I was a one woman walking disaster. Which was why I had earned the nickname Klutz. My real name is Khloe, but since second grade I’ve been Klutz. It started with the kids at school, then my teachers, now even my parents called me Klutz. I’d gotten so used to it that I barely responded to my real name anymore. No one called me Khloe, except Lilah.
Lilah is my neighbour, has been since I was born. She’s the complete opposite of me. She’s beautiful, smart, graceful and not covered in bruises! I don’t know why we’re even friends, we’re so different, but we are.
I guess its because we live out in the middle of nowhere. Our houses are the only two for miles, so we always played together. We would both get the bus to school together too.
Now that we are seniors though, Lilah has her own car. I failed my test, shockingly. I think my parents were relieved. No one wants me in charge of heavy machinery. I’d probably crash before I even left the garage.
Lilah, on the other hand, I’ve seen her drive perfectly while applying lipstick and talking to me, like she was doing right now.
“Why don’t we have a sleepover this weekend?” I suggested, as we drove to school.
Lilah rolled her eyes. “Come on, Khlo. We’re too old for that crap. Besides, I think Ben is going to ask me out,” she said.
It was my turn to roll my eyes. She was obsessed with Ben lately. I mean, yes, he was cute, but he was kind of a jerk. I was also hurt at her saying our sleepovers were crap. We had so much fun, sitting up all night talking, eating junk food, watching sappy movies. Next year we’d be off to college, I wanted to enjoy every moment we had left.
“Don’t sulk, Khlo,” Lilah said.
“I’m not. It’s just…You spend so much time hanging with the popular kids…I don’t know, I guess I miss you.”
“You can sit with us too, you know? There’s no law against it.”
“I’m pretty sure there is. Besides, knowing me I’d probably give someone a concussion, or knock out their teeth.”
Lilah laughed, throwing her long blonde hair back. “Don’t be silly.”
“I’m not. Both those things happened. I’m a menace.”
“You’re not a menace. You’re around me all the time and you’ve never hurt me.”
“Yeah, I think you are charmed or something.”
“Please join us today,” Lilah pleaded.
I sighed. “Fine, but any accidents are on you.”
Using some wet paper towels, I tried to clean the mashed potato off my blouse. I groaned when I discovered more of it stuck to my dark hair. Cleaning it off, I flipped my braid back out of the way. My hair was already threatening to escape from it, it was like it had a mind of its own.
I could still hear the laughter in my head, from the cafeteria. I didn’t even make it to Lilah’s table. Ten feet from it, I tripped, landing on my lunch. The popular kids got a good look at my epic fail.
“I’m such a klutz,” I muttered to my reflection.
“Khloe? Are you okay?”
I turned to find Lilah. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
At least she didn’t laugh at me. I was grateful for that.
“Hardly anyone saw,” she offered.
“Yeah, right,” I said.
“Let me help,” Lilah said, grabbing some more paper towels.
“It’s fine, Lilah. Really. Go and finish your lunch.”
I took the paper towels from her, turning my face away to hide the hot, angry tears that threatened to fall. I was dragging Lilah down with me. She should just ditch me now before I embarrassed her even more.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, trying to sound cheerful. “It’s cool.”
I hear the bathroom door open. “Hey, why don’t we have that sleepover?”
“I thought you said we’re too old for that?”
“Well, not really. We always have fun. What do you say?”
On Friday afternoon, I was busy setting up my room for the sleepover. I had some trashy romcoms cued up on Netflix, and plenty of snacks.
Mom came in to the room. “Oh, it looks like you’ve got plans for tonight. Um, do you really think it’s a good idea to have a guy in your room?”
“What? I’m not bringing a guy up here. It’s for my sleepover with Lilah.”
“Oh. Just the way you were acting, I thought you had a date.”
My cheeks flamed. God, even my mother thought I was loser for not having a date. It wasn’t my fault that all the guys at school were boring and not my type. Okay, I wasn’t even sure what my type was, but I’m sure he wouldn’t want to end a date in the ER.
“We’re going out tonight. You girls have fun,” Mom said.
“We will,” I said. I climbed up onto my bed to adjust the drapes so there was no glare on the television.
As I moved across the bed, my foot caught on the comforter and I fell over, landing on the floor with a thump.
“You okay, Klutz?” Mom called.
“Yes!” I yelled, picking myself up. My elbow throbbed from where I’d landed on it.
My foot bumped against something under the bed. I bent down and pulled out a box. Popping off the lid, I found old drawings and fun stuff from our early sleepovers.
One of the drawings showed a pretty blonde fairy in a pink gown. Lilah was obsessed as a child. I went along with it to please her, I never believed in fairies. Lilah though? She was convinced that she had seen them at the bottom of our adjoining gardens.
She described little elf like creatures, playing in the flowers. Dad tried to explain the concept of fireflies, but she was adamant they were real.
Carrying the picture downstairs, I showed it to my mother.
“Remember this? When Lilah was crazy about fairies?”
Mom took the picture and pulled a face. “Oh yeah. I’m so glad you grew out of that childish phase.”
“Hey! It was Lilah, I was only humoring her.”
Mom raised an eyebrow. “If you say so.”
I had forgotten my phone upstairs and went to get it.
When I returned to the kitchen, I could hear Mom talking to Dad.
“Have you seen this?” she said. She was holding up the drawing.
“Not those damn creatures again,” Dad said.
I paused in the doorway, just out of sight.
“It’s bad enough what they did. Taking the baby, I don’t want to be reminded.”
Baby? What baby? I thought.
Dad had his arm around Mom. “It’s okay, Susan. Try not to think about it.”
“How can I not? What we did? I can’t believe we were that petty. Encouraging them to take Lilah.”
I froze. What the hell was she saying? Someone tried to take Lilah? As a baby? And my parents encourage it? No, I was getting it wrong. I had to be.
“Every time I see her…” Mom said. “I thought the girls would grow apart.”
“Look, we did something stupid and we paid the price. Soon she’ll be off to college and we can work on forgetting.”
I couldn’t listen anymore. It sounded like they hated Lilah. How could that be? They were always nice to and Lilah was nothing but sweet to them.
Confused and upset, I went outside. Lilah was in town getting provisions, so I couldn’t talk to her. I didn’t even know if I would tell her. It’s not a nice thing to hear.
I went around the house to the back yard, down the garden and out of sight of my parents.
There was a small brook running behind the property. Mom forbade me from going near it when I was little, but Lilah and I would always sneak out anyway.
I hopped the fence, stunned when I landed on my feet and not on my face. The feeling didn’t last long as I took a step forward and my feet went out from under me. I slipped down the bank, landing with my feet in the brook.
“Ow.” Then I laughed at the absurdity of it all.
It didn’t matter what my parents thought of Lilah. We would be friends forever.
Lifting my feet out of the water, I lay back on the bank, enjoying the quiet. Closing my eyes, I started to drift off.
I jerked awake, wondering how long I’d been asleep. Something was buzzing around my head. I swiped a hand at it, but it dodged me and flew right into my face. I gasped in surprise. I only saw it for a second, but I could have sworn it was a little man with wings. Jumping up, I tried to find it again, but it had vanished.
Was that a…? I caught myself before I thought fairy! I’m losing it! Laughing to myself, I climbed back up the bank and headed back to the house.
It was late, well after midnight. We had worked our way through two bowls of popcorn and a batch of brownies I’d baked. I was stuffed.
“Lilah…” I started.
“What?” She was sprawled across the foot of the bed in her pjs.
I felt stupid asking, but I did it anyway. “Do you remember when we were kids and you saw the fairy?”
Lilah turned to face her. “What made you bring that up?”
“Um, I found an old picture that you drew.”
“God, that was so long ago.”
“I know. A lifetime ago. Did you really see something?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I thought I did, but I guess it was just my imagination.”
“What if it wasn’t?”
“Oh yeah, little fairies are living in our yard,” Lilah teased, tossing a bit of popcorn at me.
“I’m serious. What if they are real?”
Lilah laughed again. “Okay. Come on,” she said, getting off the bed.
“Where?” I asked.
“Come on,” she insisted, dragging me out the door.
I followed her downstairs and outside. “No, Lilah, don’t be silly,” I said.
“You want to know if they are real, so let’s find out.”
Laughing, we ran down the garden and climbed over the fence. This time, with Lilah’s help, I didn’t fall into the brook again.
She hopped over the water and stood in a small clearing. Spreading her arms wide, she announced, “If fairies are real, then please show yourselves!”
I started giggling. She always knew how to make a situation better. We both fell silent for a moment, but of course, nothing happened.
“Guess I was wrong,” Lilah said, shrugging.
She took a step back and I watched in horror as she appeared to fall straight down into a hole. Only it wasn’t a regular hole, it was a swirling vortex.
“Lilah!” I screamed, rushing forward. I started at the vortex, hoping she would appear, but nothing happened. I turned back to the house, but my parents were out and so were Lilah’s. Do I call the police? What do I do?
“Khloe!” I heard Lilah scream, but it sounded like she was really far away. She was alive at least. Without thinking, I leapt into the vortex, praying it wouldn’t kill me.
I hit the ground hard. Opening one eye, I found myself in the woods, but it was daylight. Did I trip and knock myself out? I wondered.
Sitting up, I rubbed the back of my head. “Lilah?” I called.
Something darted behind a nearby tree. I say something, because it had wings and they were glowing.
Scrambling to my feet, I backed away. All I could see were trees, this definitely wasn’t my back yard.
“Hello?” I called.
The creature with the wings peeked out from behind the tree. It looked like a child, but with elfin features. It moved forward tentatively.
“Hi,” I said, terrified that I had really injured myself and was hallucinating.
It flitted closer, peering at me with orange eyes. I reached out my hand to it, like you do with dogs to get them to trust you. It sniffed my hand, threw back its head and let out a high pitched keening noise.
I stumbled back, tripped over my own two feet and hit the ground again. Within seconds I was surrounded by dozens of similar creatures who each took a hold of my arms and legs and lifted me off the ground.
“No, stop! Let me go!” I cried.
They ignored me and carried me forward. What were they going to do to me? And where was Lilah? Maybe they ate her! I tried push that thought away, but I had no idea where I had landed, these creatures could be cannibals for all I knew.
After about ten minutes, they dumped me unceremoniously on the ground. I sat up, my eyes immediately finding Lilah. She was tied up nearby. I tried to get to her but was knocked back onto the ground.
“What do you want?” I cried.
One of them stepped forward. She was taller and looked more human like. She wore a mask across her eyes.
“You have been found guilty of revealing the Fae world to a human,” she said.
“Me? I don’t, didn’t, even believe you were real,” I said.
“It is against Fae law. You will be punished accordingly,” she said.
“Punished? I didn’t do anything wrong. Please let us go,” I begged.
The woman looked over at Lilah, then back at me. I saw the confusion, this was a huge mistake. She had to realize that.
One of the winged ones, flew up and whispered in her ear. She faced me.
“Your parents were the ones who tried to bargain with us. To steal the human child.”
I glanced over at Lilah. They tried to get fairies to take Lilah!
“Why?” I asked. “Why would they do that?”
“Jealousy, a common human trait. They did not hold up their end of the bargain though. So, they were punished.”
“How?” I asked.
“She doesn’t know,” one of the fairies whispered.
They started conferring with each other. I looked over at Lilah, she was terrified too. I needed to figure out a way for us to escape. Every time I moved, the winged ones would fly at me, to keep me in place.
Finally, the woman spoke again. “The human will stay; the Changeling must return.”
I looked to Lilah. Her eyes filled with tears. “What’s a Changeling?” I asked her.
“A fairy that was used to replace a human child,” she said.
I gasped. Was that what my parents were talking about? Lilah was a Changeling? No wonder she was so perfect, she was a fairy! An actual fairy. At least they were letting her go.
I was dragged to my feet and spun around, back towards the woods. “Go!” the woman commanded.
“You’re letting us both go?” I said, feeling relieved.
“Khloe, she’s letting you go,” Lilah said.
Now I was confused. If they were letting me go then that would make me…
“No! I’m human,” I said.
The woman stepped forward. “When your parents betrayed us, their child was taken instead. Forfeited. You are a Changeling.”
“No, that’s crazy. I’m a klutzy human girl, that’s it.”
The woman smiled, but not unkindly. “You are a klutz, as you call it, because you are trying to navigate in a human body. Our kind fly, you have been forced to walk.”
I shook my head. “No, it’s not true.”
“You must return. You are no longer welcome here.”
Tears started to fall, as I tried to take it all in. The winged ones started pushing me back towards the vortex.
“Wait, no! I won’t leave Lilah.”
I started fighting my way through the fairies, trying to get back to her. A group of them seemed to be spinning a golden web over her.
“What are you doing?” I cried.
The web covered her, and she seemed to be unconscious.
The woman grabbed me by the arm. “She’s not your concern anymore. Once a human enters our world, they cannot return.”
“But she didn’t do anything wrong. Please, we won’t tell anyone what happened, I swear.”
“No one would believe you if you did. I don’t know why you were not told what you are, but our laws must be upheld.”
“Then at least let me say goodbye,” I begged.
She nodded. I ran to Lilah.
“Lilah? Can you hear me?”
She opened her eyes, but she looked weak. “Khloe, I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I never should have said anything. I’ll find a way to get you out of here, I promise.”
She tried to smile. “Do you really think they’ll let you?”
“I don’t care. I will find a way. You’re my best friend. I love you.”
“I love you too,” she said.
Overcome with emotion, I leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. I didn’t plan to do it, but I didn’t regret it either. She looked shocked at first, then she smiled.
“You didn’t tell me she was yours,” the woman said.
“She is. She is mine.”
The woman sighed. “Release her.”
The webbing melted, and Lilah was able to move again. I hugged her tightly.
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“Fae law offers immunity to any human belonging to a Fae,” the woman said.
“She doesn’t belong to…” I started, but Lilah gripped my arm to shut me up.
“Go,” the woman said.
We didn’t wait around for her to change her mind, we ran. We stepped into the vortex and in an instant, we were transported back to our garden. We hurried back inside, eager to be as far from the vortex as possible.
“I can’t believe that just happened,” Lilah said.
“I know. Fairies are real. And I’m one of them.” I sank down onto the bed. “I can’t believe that my parents would be so heartless. Heck, they aren’t even my parents, not really.”
Lilah sat beside me and took my hand. “It doesn’t change who you are. You are still Khloe.”
I nodded, but everything had changed. I had no idea how I was supposed to act normal now. Normal is overrated.
“I know you are still reeling about everything, but I wanted to talk about the other thing that happened,” Lilah said.
“Huh?” I looked at her blankly.
“Oh!” My cheeks burned as I recalled the kiss.
“I didn’t know that you thought of me that way,” she said.
“It…I didn’t…I,” I stuttered.
“If it makes it easier?” She leaned in and kissed me. “Is that okay?”
I nodded. “Yes, more than okay.”
As crazy as the day had been, I was so relieved that I still had Lilah. Things would never be normal again, but she was still here so I could handle anything.
Welcome to Fae Folk, a month long celebration of the Fae. We will be talking with some great authors and learning more about the various kinds of Fae. From Banshees to Pixies, Undines to Sylphs and everything in between.
We will also be featuring some Fae based shorts stories from several authors. We hope you enjoy the event and thanks for joining us!
About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”