Hi, friends! Today we have Danielle E. Shipley, author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas and the novel Inspired (see her other features on my blog here and here). Also contributing is Tirzah Duncan, writer of novels, short stories and poetry. They are here to share some truly awesome flash fiction to help us celebrate Fortnight of Fright this year. I have always been a fan of Danielle’s work and after reading this post I am sure that you will want to read more from her and Ms. Duncan for sure. Take a gander below and don’t forget to head over to Amy & Brittany’s blogs to see who they have featured today! Don’t forget, we are hosting wonderful bloggers & authors for two whole weeks with recipes, book recommendations and a lot more awesome!
Once upon an October years ago, there transpired what might only be described as a supernatural occurrence: A total stranger became my best friend.
Since then, fellow wordsmith Tirzah Duncan and I have gone on to engage in all sorts of uncanny behavior – from getting sucked into the spirit world of the characters in our joint custody, to writing the opening and closing acts of paranormal collection “Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Stories of Love and Loss”, to our most recent collaboration: “The Dark Siren” – a co-authored short story for the “Arcane Arts Anthology”, in which a world-weary skeleton teams up with a child’s soul to stop life from going all-too-literally to hell.
Just for 2017’s Fortnight of Fright, and illustrated with creepy findings from my related Pinterest board, here are two new pieces of flash fiction featuring the “Dark Siren”s protagonists and their shadowy pasts.
“Rest Your Weary Bones” by Tirzah Duncan
Rest your weary bones.
I have something of a wistful relationship with the phrase. Because it’s all I’ve been asking to do for so long, and because the people who say it are almost never welcoming of animate skeletons.
Bare and pale, a tattered cloak drawn around me in some hope of disguising my fleshless seeming, I huddle between the trees and watch the glow of the village lights, wishing I dared go nearer.
I can feel cold, and pain, but not acutely. A gift of being immortally undead. I don’t feel hunger or thirst, not truly, though I do still trick myself into longing for food and drink I don’t need and can’t eat. I don’t need sleep, even — all these twisted gifts bestowed on me by a necromancer’s bloody pride and a village’s fiery superstition — but even as I need no sleep, I find myself bone-weary.
The village lights twinkle steadily. I can easily imagine those points of fire in the night as torches, wielded by a mob screaming “Thrall! Demon!” and chasing me until their mortal muscles give out, and my tireless femurs carry me out-of-reach into the wilderness.
But I cannot stop wanting those lights. I cannot stop wanting to go into a tavern, for one more time in my life, more wary of men trying to pinch my bum than of them trying to tear me bone-from-bone. To sit beside a hearth fire, imagining that I smell its smoke, to listen to the village stories and join my voice to the tavern songs. I am so tired of being alone.
People fear the restless dead. I would not be so restless, I want to tell them, if you would let me rest.
“’Til Death Magic Do Us Part” by Danielle E. Shipley
“You can do it,” the child whispers into the night.
No ‘can’ about it: He has to. It’s either go through with the dark spell and the darker work to follow, or live the rest of his days as an unappreciated nobody. Nothing forever but “Kid, do this,” and “Kid, do that,” and “Now stay out of my way, Kid; I’m busy.”
Busy, hmm? Well, Mistress Barbara will have nothing but time to kill, now that the time has come to kill her.
Under his breath, beneath the patter of summer rain against the basement windows, the boy murmurs a tune of death magic. His mistress is prone to chant in a lifeless drone, but Kid finds his stolen spells work better when he gives them a melody.
Measure by measure, he feels a pull inside of him – stretching, squeezing, strangling. He can take in no more air, but what air remains, he makes into music until, on a wailing crescendo, the song ejects his soul.
The body collapses, gagging, to the floor, and the soul fears there’s no strength left to keep them both from oblivion. “Sing,” he begs, and the pain-wracked body whispers on, his life and his soul’s tethered to the world by his fraying thread of a voice.
Slowly, he sings the thread stronger. Finally, he returns to his feet. Uncannily, his black eyes are empty. The light of life has gone out with the soul, leaving the body vacant of all but necromantic power.
Kid and Kid regard each other in the gloom.
The soul chirps, “That’s the hard part done with, then. Ready to go up for the next bit?”
The body smiles. “Same song,” he croons, the basement’s shadows following him to the stairs. “Second verse.”
About “The Dark Siren”:
Necromancy killed her body, and necromancy saved her soul. Now all this living skeleton wants is for necromancy to leave her the hell alone. But with a disembodied child-spirit hanging around like a too-catchy tune, and a dread dark-artist preparing to sing the world into its final unrest, our heroine’s left with only one real option: Face the music.
About Tirzah Duncan:
Tirzah Duncan writes novels, short stories, and poetry. She loves martial combat, is employed at a firing range, and loves the pen and sword in nearly equal measure.
You’ll also catch her bounding around Europe and geeking out about its history, obsessing over her favorite fandoms, role-play storytelling, talking aloud to herself, and trying her hand at theology and philosophy.
She thinks she’d make an excellent companion to rebel time lords and consulting detectives, and is still largely convinced that Narnia is just a wardrobe away. She wants to be C.S. Lewis when she grows up.
About Danielle E. Shipley:
Danielle E. Shipley is the author of the Wilderhark Tales novellas, the novel Inspired, and several other expressions of wishful thinking. She has spent most of her life in the Chicago area and increasing amounts of time in Germany. She hopes to ultimately retire to a private immortal forest. But first, there are stories to make.