The Happiest Tree

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They call it the Happiest Tree. They say on some nights, around twilight, before the sun has completely dipped below the horizon, it glows there, up on the hill, and seems to smile down at you.

I always thought that was just foolish imagination. Just the twists and turns of a totally natural process of growth for a tree which happened to make it look, from certain angles, like it was something else. How we see faces in clouds. The same type of thing I was sure.

There were legends about the tree that were less than bright, however. Some say the tree was happy because it could beguile, it could beckon to unwary souls on those nights, with its friendly, happy smile. And that the mouth of that smile could also eat.

The stories of a vivid childhood imagination I thought. A great halloween tale indeed, but nothing more.

Then one early evening I was walking home from work and I passed the hill and saw the tree smiling. It was very welcoming, I had to admit, when seen from just this angle, in such a beautiful sunset light. Before I knew it I’d forsaken my walk home and started to climb the hill.

I thought as I proceeded that eventually the angles would fail to work and the smiling tree would be revealed as nothing so special. But I was wrong. The closer I got, the more it smiled.

It grinned at me like a long lost friend, and what harm is there in smiling back, or coming up close, so close, to such a grinning, welcoming sight?

I didn’t even really feel it as I fell through, allowing it to swallow me. It was a strange sensation, mildly unpleasant, but nothing too bad. But now I’m somewhere else, somewhere dark and red and swirling, and I’m completely alone.

And I don’t know the way back. I don’t even know if there is a way back. But I can tell the tree is happy. It’s the Happiest Tree indeed.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

Posted in Horror Flash Fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

You

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I see you
Do you see me too?
What do you think
We’re going to do?

Don’t you run
Don’t you try to hide
All these secrets
I’m holding inside

Walked for days
Right to your door
What do you think
I was coming here for?

Just for you
To see your smile
To make you happy
For a little while

Why now cry
And run far away
Don’t you want
To come out to play?

I see you
Do you see me too?
What do you think
We’re going to do?

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Play

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Johnny liked to play. He was a baseball star in high school, and he had big, big dreams of playing for his State, or even the country.

Big, big dreams are risky. Better perhaps to have smaller aims and avoid disappointment. Johnny wasn’t familiar with being let down. He was used to winning. And he liked to play.

When the scouts came he knew he was ready. He played so well everyone agreed. They’d come running for him. It was guaranteed.

Guarantees don’t always deliver. No scouts came with offers, only polite rejection. Johnny was good, they said. He was passionate and disciplined and played well. But just not quite well enough. Competition is tough, they told him, the higher you climb the ladder. You have to be ready to accept your rung. Nothing personal of course.

Johnny wasn’t having any of that. He could teach them a thing or too about their preferences and biases. He knew he was great, and if they thought they could stand in his way they had another think coming.

So he took his baseball bat to them and schooled them. Schooled them hard, so hard they didn’t get up again, ever. They’ climbed as far as they would ever climb on their ladders, and they needed to know their place.

Nothing personal of course.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Never Come and Go

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Those who come
Within these woods
Hear the drum
That no-one could
Escape or run
To hide away
For those who come
Will always stay
Within the walls
This house alone
For all its sins
Cannot atone
Those who come
Will come alone
If you’d be free
Then never see
How dark the woods
Can come to be
It’s death itself
For those too slow
So never come
Never come and go

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Angel Of Light

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They say I come as an angel of light, that I am beautiful.

They Lie. I am ancient and my visage might once have been admired, but now it is feared. I am part angel, part animal, like you, but my form is older and my loves far deeper. You will not fall before me in love, but in fear.

All beauty is relative. When my kind were more plentiful I was admired. Just as fashions change in your world, the eternal also morphs and changes to its own impenetrable dictates.

I am alone. I call you to me with favours and gifts. I ask nothing but that you give your soul to me, that you pledge to stay. I eat you all in my way, swallowing you down. Because you never fall at my feet in love, only fear.

Who are you to judge, you little creatures, made of sinew, bone and blood? You live brief lives, as inconsequential as a butterfly, and less beautiful. You should have some idea of what it may be to be less lovely, for you age and wither. But you do not. You do not.

And so you never come to me with love, only with fear.

Then let it be fear. And let there be blood. I will feast on that if I cannot have your love.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

 

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Movie Mayhem

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He had a reputation for taking his films to the very edge. Love scenes verged on pornography, death scenes verged on snuff and psychological horror famously drove various studio unfortunates completely mad.

Darious King ensured, like his name, he was king of the set. Thousands of re-takes for perfection’s sake depleted his terrified cast. Editors came close to slicing their own necks from the constant slicing and dicing he required for the film. He knew that to make great art was to suffer, and from his perspective, I didn’t matter who suffered. So it may as well be them – his luckless cast and crew. There was no need for it to be him.

But there’s always the time you push too far.

King had his eye on a very particular crown – the coveted ‘Masters of Horror’ prize which would only ever be given from the film community to breakout, breakthrough horror cinema. He was determined to receive this award regardless of cost to anyone.

Some say sacrifices of a very literal kind were involved in his purchase of the Necro-romance novel series – the new horror literary sensation from wunderkind Alex Masters. It could well be true. Alex Masters was well-known in the LA underground and he never denied the rumours that he’d sold his soul for his literary inspiration.

“I serve the muse,” he would say. “And so must anyone who wishes to adapt my work.”

King was happy enough to serve the muse. Happy to drive his cast and crew relentlessly through a horror motif that stretched their very minds and souls. Happy to see them suffer for the rapacious muse.

But muses are contrary creatures, and this one wasn’t satisfied with the fare provided. This one wanted something more substantive, something with more dark meat on its bones. Something, or someone, like King.

The work was never completed. After the carnage where the crew snapped and killed their cruel master, Alex Master reviewed the work and decried it as a complete mess, shutting down any other attempts for future cinematic portrayals.

Not that anyone was likely to come buying. The deaths on set were numerous and bizarre. And none more than the death of King, crowned and nailed to his own bloodied throne, serving forevermore as a cautionary tale for those that push the limits too far.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Midas Kiss

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They said she had the Midas Kiss. One touch, one caress, of her lips and all turned to gold in your world. Not literally, of course.

Well..not at first..

That’s the thing, isn’t it, with promises too sweet? With the gift that seems almost too good to be true? It usually is.

Still, men and women both clamoured for her attention. Nightclubs provided her own special booth, like the most glorious of traps for this glittering trapdoor spider. At art events the patrons would swarm round her, neglecting the art. At theatre opening nights the stars would be ignored, as she sashayed down the red carpet, owning it.

None begrudged her a moment. All wanted what she offered. Just one kiss..one kiss.

And those chosen found their lives transformed. News travelled fast of great wealth, great fame. All the gold in the world.

But what you never heard about was what happened after that. The news followed the next story, the next miracle and forgot the ones that came before. So the cautionary tales never made the headlines, and no-one ever learned in time.

About how it started, three to six months later. At first just a stiffness in the joints, like arthritis. A parched throat that no water seemed to satisfy. A coldness in veins which gradually became more prominent, raised and angry beneath skin more brittle, more dry.

And then the gold. The infestation of gold. Just like King Midas. Just like the fairy story, but this time in real life.

It took eight months in all. She would send her henchmen to collect at that date, the new gold statue for her endless collection. If she was pleased she would keep them, if not she would melt them down for expenditure in other ways. And she grew wealthy in her quiet, secret way.

The woman with the Midas Kiss.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Career Advice for the Afterlife

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So let’s look at your life resume. What did you excel at, what did you achieve, before you skipped off the mortal coil and found yourself here?

They say you were a ruthless salesperson, a money maker through cutting through the losses and stupidities of others. It says you didn’t care too much who you hurt, only that the profits were good and your managers were happy.

And it seems they were very, very happy indeed. Until that one time that maybe you sought to take more than you were promised? Ah yes, I see, that’s just before you came here.

Well, that’s a sort of severance I suppose. A termination if you will.

You must allow me my little jests. This is an often thankless task, being a recruiter in the underworld. I mean, it was what I was in life so I fit right in, but the options here, if you want to advance, seem bent towards your less favourable qualities. That can be…dis-spiriting..for me. Did you see what I did there? Dis-spiriting in the spirit world?

Never mind…

Ok, it seems pretty obvious what you will excel at anyway. What would fit a ruthless, precise girl like you? And with all the troubles in the world today we are in short supply of your very much in demand talents. A skills shortage in the afterlife, if you will.

They never really existed in real life you know – the skills shortages? We just said they did. The perception of lack was good for business.

But here, well here certain skills really are limited. So it’s very good you’ve died and joined us now. It’s a premium growth time for the career trajectory of someone just like you.

So just sign here. It’s a contract for your new role. A Reaper, they call it. You get to bring the others here. You get to bring in the dead.

Right up your alley, wouldn’t you say? Sign now and we can get your outfitted in a lovely black uniform and give you a brand new scythe.

I’m glad to see you are so excited at the prospect. I thought you might be. Well, that’s excellent then.

You’ll fit right in. And I’m sure you’ll be a high performer and upwardly mobile before you know it.

What? No, not upwardly mobile there. You can’t work your way there, and you weren’t good enough in life to just get there.

But don’t fret my dear. I think your new role is going to fit you just fine. Just fine.

© Helen M Valentina 2019

 

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Mr Movie Man

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Please Mr Movie man
Turn out the lights
Show me the new release
I will delight
As all the actors dance
Maybe they’ll sing
I will be satisfied
With anything
If please Mr Movie man
You just start the show
It’s still so dark in here
No-one will know

Please Mr Movie man
I’m just a ghost
And it’s my movie nights
I miss the most
All of my family
Lost down below
Give me some comfort now
On with the show
It’s still so dark in here
I’m so alone
Play me a movie now
Let this be home

© Helen M Valentina 2019

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The Nuns of Saint Claire

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Beware they said
The nuns of Saint Clare
Don’t go there they said
Never go there
For they’ll eat you alive
It’s how they survive
The terrible nuns of Saint Claire

None spared they said
The nuns of Saint Claire
Do not care they said
For your despair
Their souls are sold
For riches and gold
The terrible nuns of Saint Claire

They’ll stare they said
The nuns of Saint Claire
From the stair they said
Hovering there
Demon possessed
Blood rite obsessed
The terrible nuns of Saint Claire

© Helen M Valentina 2019

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