The Bridge

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No-one crossed the bridge. No-one.

This was well-known. You did not leave our town. Its small, perfect streets and gardens prescribed your life. And you were happy with that, content. Any wish to see more, to understand more, was schooled out of you early. For there was nothing behind the town but an impassable wall, and the only way out was the bridge.

And no-one crossed the bridge.

I was told that once, long ago, someone did try. They got about half way across and then they met her. The guardian of the bridge. She arose with glory, with smoke and fire and rage. They did not have the token or the magic word or whatever it would take to cross the bridge.

And so they did not cross, and nor did they return. And while no-one dared to follow close enough to see what had happened, the absence of them forevermore spoke eloquently and simply of the gravity of the admonition: do not cross the bridge.

I was a curious child. My mother said it would be the end of me. She would chuckle and ruffle my hair when I asked why, why why?

One day I asked how anyone knew there was a woman on the bridge if no-one saw the person trying to leave. She had not answer for me and simply said some things should not be asked, and others should not be done, and there’s an end to it.

But for me it wasn’t an end, it was a beginning. I burned to see if it was true or just some cautionary tale told to us to keep us chained to this little town. And most of all I burned to see her.

So one day, I got up very, very early and snuck out of our house and headed, resolute, to the bridge. I did not care about whether I could cross, I only wanted to see her.

But to do that I would have to try. So step, by step, I began the journey across the bridge.

I got about half way across when I saw the smoke. I was three-quarters across when a dark figure emerged from the haze. A woman. A beautiful woman, with ageless eyes and a smile both wide and frightening.

“Hello little one,” she said.

“Hello” I replied.

“Do you seek to cross?” she asked.

“I do, but only to see you.”

“And now that you have seen me will you still cross, or will you return?”

“I don’t mind,” I replied, then turned to return. “I guess I will go home.”

The woman laughed.

“Well chosen” she said, and I heard the air shuffle around me, like dry leaves in the autumn air.

When I turned back to look again the smoke cleared for just a second and a strange light glowed, showing me something at the end of the path. A skeleton of a man, limbs and ribcage cleaning in an unnatural sun. Then the image was gone.

So it was true, what they said. Even if they hadn’t really understood what they were saying. The bridge was death, and you couldn’t pass till you were ready for that. But he chose to cross, I thought, whereas I chose to stay.

“Good choice,” I congratulated myself quietly, for I was far too young to die yet. Then I headed for home.

(c. ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Bite

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They bite
It is said it feels like heaven
Pure delight
When they bite

They feed
And they never have enough
Pure greed
When they feed

You’ll yearn
To feel their touch again
And learn
How to burn

They bite
Fell so far from heaven
Out of sight
So they bite

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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They Only Come Out At Night

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Hush, let me tell you a story. Are you snuggled up in bed, with the covers up to your necks, so you are safe, safe from all the hidden terrors of the night? Good, good, for you need to be safe to hear my story. Because you know, they only come out at night.

There once was a man who was so full of himself he thought the world entire resided within his own shell. If anyone claimed to be good at something he would loudly declare himself to be better. If someone dared to speak of an ambition he would best it. If someone said they wanted to be boss, he would declare himself king.

For some reason, people let him do that. When he was a child his parents grew tired of trying to argue with him and were worn down into agreeing. He went through life pretty much the same way. No-one could withstand the onslaught for long. He was so sure, so sure of himself, so sure he was everything and a cherry on top as well!

And perhaps he was right, eventually. Not at first. At first he was just an arrogant little boy. But over time, they say, belief causes things to change. You can bend the world to your will, if it is strong enough. Writers write the future, as prophecy, without even knowing they are doing it. Painters paint worlds that come to be. Quantum physicists will tell you the experimenter always changes the experiment.

So perhaps, over time, he did start to have everything within him, everything and a cherry on top as well.

But what he didn’t count on, because creators rarely think through their creations, is what that might mean. And that, eventually, if everything was inside of him, a whole world, well, eventually that world would want to come out.

That’s where they come from, you see, all the horrors of the night? All the not quite right things that haunt our dreams? From the man who was everything, and everything had to come out. Right out of his own lips, where such boasting lured them out, out. Bursting forth, bursting him into nothing, because nothing can be everything, no matter what he thought. Out into this world from some other that he either imagined in his pride, or he tapped into in his delusion. Either way, they came.

And as you know, they only come out at night.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Waiting

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I used to see her at night, when I was a child. My bedroom window looked out onto our quiet, suburban street. And I suffered from insomnia often, even as a child. I think I had too much energy, and I felt something was always just about to happen, which I just couldn’t miss, but of course nothing ever did. So sleep was a mystery to me.

Just like her.

She wasn’t there every night, just sometimes. I would keep a diary of this strange girl and my sightings of her, standing so still, so silent, for hours, just under the street light. I decided she came on the cycles of the moon, and it birthed an early fascination with astronomy in me. I didn’t follow that up in life though – early fascinations often die. They aren’t meant to last.

Eventually I couldn’t bear the mystery anymore. years had passed and nothing else interesting ever really happened in our quiet town. We never moved. My parents had the same jobs, the same little dreams, day after day. And school was just the same too. I got on with most of the other kids, did well enough in my classes, and so things just were. I was, as they say, a well-adjusted young girl.

But she – she was a mystery. So one night, when I was in my early teens, I went out to confront her. It was time, I considered, that she and I finally met. This strange girl of my insomnia, riding in on the street light and the cycles of the moon.

“Who are you” I asked the silent girl, hoping she would see me, for even standing so close she did not register my presence.

When she answered, it wasn’t really to me. I understood that. For I saw, closer up, that she was only partly there.  She seemed to flicker a bit, like a movie reel projected on the screen of the night, illuminated only by the street light.

“I am electricity. I am the fascination of the moment. I am the one that never sleeps.”

“Why are you here, just standing in the dark?”

“I am standing in the light, ” she said. “I travel on light, and thought, and communication. I travel on information, as we all do.”

“Who are you?” I asked again, and finally she looked at me. Or I think she did. The shadows of the night covered her face, but she turned it to me, and I felt her eyes on me in some indefinable but inarguable way.

“I am you” she said. “On the precipice of your life. Waiting. Just waiting for something to happen”.

And then, suddenly, she was gone, and I looked up to the street light, and saw myself in my mind’s eye, for the first time. Just a girl, standing under a light in our quiet suburban streets, in tune with the cycles of the moon. Just waiting. Always waiting.

And I understood that, and her, somehow. But what I never understood, what I still don’t understand, is what drew me here, to see her, to see myself, like moth to a flame, and what the precipice is, and what it all means.

I guess I’m still waiting.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

Posted in Horror Flash Fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mommy

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Mommy went away.

Little doll left all alone, in a household vacated by a family too much in a hurry to see what is left behind.

Mommy is gone.

Animated plastic thing, with something more within, reaching the window to look out, see them depart. Little breaking plastic heart.

Mommy come back!

A little girl looks up to the window as the car drives away. One child looking from a backseat car window up to her old bedroom window, seeing something she can’t quite make out. Little doll seeing herself being seen, but not seen, all at once.

Mommy see me!

This family never knew what it had in the doll. They never understood. Even the little girl hardly cared for the ancient history of the doll, its passage through their family generations. They were part of the modern world, where everything is fast and throw away.  Even little dolls. You can always buy another.

Mommy doesn’t love me!

Perhaps they should have taken more care. Perhaps they should have paid more attention to the past and its legends. Perhaps they should have understood the solemn way the maternal grandparents talked about the doll and how special it was, how it had a life of its own, and that it could bring great life to its owners.

Mommy has betrayed me!

Things that can bring great life can also bring the opposite. To every power, every love, is a shadow. One that can reach over miles, over distances too great to even imagine, reaching out to find its prey, its destination. The little doll had a mighty shadow, and it was growing, growing, in its anger and rejection, reaching out.

Mommy will pay!

From the window it couldn’t really have seen its handiwork, but I suspect it did on some other level. Little doll, up at the window, casting its shadow. The family weren’t important in society. The car crash didn’t even make the news. And they didn’t make it to their new home. If the doll wasn’t going to get there, neither were they.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Apres Le Deluge

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How history lies! How many times did they say “the war to end all wars”, only to have another war arise later, and worse, worse still?

But wars are funny things. They can leave some places largely inviolate, as though a special god watches over these sacred sites and no conflict can arise there. That’s what the nuns always believed of their home. Generation after generation told their stories of wars, but somehow they never breached the walls of the convent.

“God protests his brides’ the mother superiors would say, “and the blessed little children we protect.”

Still, every covenant runs its time and is no more. Perhaps this last war was the real war to end all, for it surely ended more than any of us would have imagined. I still hear the mutters of those conspiracy theorists still left alive that this was planned, the destruction of ninety per cent of the world’s population so the rich could take the spoils.

Well, that’s about right on the amount of death, though I think the rich fell too, from all I’ve heard. Hardly surprising, the Devil will have his due, and if anyone ever thinks the bargain falls in their favour they are kidding themselves. The Devil is the ultimate casino, and the house always wins.

And after the deluge, even the nuns have suffered. There is a story about the nunnery, about the death and destructions there, and one particular nun trying desperately to save a single baby from the hordes. She failed, of course. There aren’t many happy endings in wars.

But they say she lingers on, in the nunnery, even after the end.  Apres le deluge, she remains. I think I saw her once, on my travels, passing the once hallowed place. A flickering ghost woman holding a child, though as I drew closer the image was far more frightening than comforting.

Still I thought I heard her cooing to the baby, just before I ran away.

“God protects his brides, little one, hush now, and all the children we protect”.

Well, perhaps, even still. Even still.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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The Band

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As a child William just wanted to come out to play
He would dress up so carefully, ready for his day
But every time to his sad, dull dismay
His parents would just chide him and say
You aren’t going out looking like that
Not now, not tomorrow, not today

Years he would brood in his room all alone
Trying for friends but so little known
But year after year all such joys were postponed
And no-one would ring him on his new telephone
As a teen none would ever be ‘seen dead’ with him
And poor poor William was left on his own

But then something happened that none of them planned
A dark god awoke to play its strange hand
For William was musical, a prodigy and
He found an advertisement from a new local band
So he went to them colourfully, thinking at last
Someone would look at him and they’d understand

They liked his music but his garb left them cold
Dark clowns are passé was all he was told
And his fear turned to anger, like silver to gold
And just in that moment his spirit was sold
On such small transactions we are damned by our fear
By the lies, the rejections and all we are told

Their bodies were broken, their little lights out
A cacophony of pain left them all in no doubt
A dark clown was all that young William’s about
He finished them all then he started to shout
“I only just wanted to come out to play
But never, no one ever, ever ever, lets me out”

As a child William just wanted to come out to play
He would dress up so carefully, ready for his day
But every time to his sad, dull dismay
His parents would just chide him and say
You aren’t going out looking like that
Not now, not tomorrow, not today

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Mother

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So, as I understand it, this particular urban myth goes like this:

Johnny was a very studious little boy, fascinated by things historical in particular. He really loved Egyptology, from a very young age. Used to drive his poor mother mad, telling her all about what he’d learned each day. She didn’t really care, you see. Johnny’s mother was all about Johnny’s mother and no-one else, but the poor little tyke didn’t see it. Just thought, one day he’d tell her something so amazing she would want to hear it, not shake her head, put her hands to her ears as she would always do and say “Not now, not any more, I’m not listening Johnny! Go and play like normal kids, just for once, just for once!”

He loved her though. He worshipped her. Some say that neglect does that, more than a returned love. Who knows? Or maybe little Johnny-head-in-a-book never watched the actual world enough to know something was wrong with her, with his family. His father always away, until one day he just didn’t return at all. But little Johnny’s mother didn’t care. She said she got ‘pots of money’ from the ‘settlement’ and that was fine by her. But I think she sometimes also said “If only he’d taken the kid too’ but hopefully little Johnny never heard.

If he did it didn’t stop him loving her. Loving her too much.

Then she got sick all of a sudden, really sick. Cancer. Died real quick. But Johnny didn’t tell the authorities. He had other ideas. All that study could finally be put to good use. So he wrapped her up in bandages, Egypt style. He might have also done that other mummification stuff – taking out the vital organs – I don’t know. They say the bandages were bloody, so it may well be the case.  He was a thorough and well schooled kid, after all. Anyway, eventually he just laid her out on her bed in her room like an Egyptian princess waiting to travel to the other side.

And then he tried something else. Not so scientific, but equally ancient. A kind of spell.

And then she woke up.

So she was there, trapped with him. Little Johnny. and his ‘mummy’.  And he’d tell her stories and read to her from his books, to tell her all the wonderful things he’d learned.

And the mummy would stand there, as in life, shaking her head, and putting her hands to her ears, imploring him to stop.

But Johnny didn’t stop. He knew. He just knew. One day he’d find something so amazing she would want to hear.

It could only be a matter of time.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Them

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They are dancing again, in the night. It’s them.

I’ve got my iPhone with me so I can capture them on film at last, to prove my point. They are there. And all they do.

My parents say I am imagining things.

“It’s just kids letting off steam,” my father says. “They go to the wooded areas just outside town to have parties, get a bit drunk, dance, that’s all. All kids do that at their age. You will too, when you grow a bit older. It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing!” my mother says in response, every time. But she’s not on my side. She goes on to say “Those parties are terrible drunken affairs! Someone will get hurt sometime, you mark my words, because of them! The council should do something. Or the schools, or someone! Someone should do something!”

According to my mother someone should always do something about the frivolous antics of teenagers and according to my father they should be left well enough alone. But neither of them listen to me about what I’ve seen really happens there. They think I’ve just got “a very over active imagination for a child your age. One day you’ll write a bestseller! Wait and see!”

But you see, it isn’t teenagers up there, not even older ones. It’s adults. And sometimes young kids, ones that look like they come from the poorer side of town. Ones no-one would miss if they disappeared. And I think – no I know – they do disappear! After that, there’s nothing for it. I’ve seen it.

I’ve seen what they do.

So tonight, I’m filming it all. And if anything happens to me, there will be this, my testimony. And hopefully someone will find it.

But if I get this on film and get away safe, then I’m going to expose them. I’m going to show the whole world.

And then this town will never be the same again.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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My Friend

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Have you met my little friend
Mr Knife?
He’s the bestest, bestest friend
Of my life
Causes bothers
For some others
Causes strife
But he’s the bestest
Of the bestest
Mr Knife

Mr Knife has been with me
Since ten
And I wish we’d had such fun
Before then
Now I’m twenty
He’s seen plenty
But even then
I want longer
I want stronger
Bestest friend

If you met my Mr Knife
You’d know
It’s the last, the very last thing
I would show
And the messes
Cause distresses
How blood flows!
But he’s with me
Always with me
Never goes

Have you met my little friend
Mr Knife?
He’s the bestest, bestest friend
Of my life
Causes bothers
For some others
Causes strife
But he’s the bestest
Of the bestest
Mr Knife

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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