Image credit: TroobaDoor/

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


Image credit: Tiratus phaesuwan/

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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What Lies Within


Image credit: Ilkin Zeferli/

I still remember ‘the place’. That’s all we ever called it. No other name. It was as though, to our childhood minds, any other name might render it more frightening, more portentous, more chill.

We couldn’t risk giving it any other name.

My parents owned and ran a butcher’s shop in the main part of our town. Its ordered but somewhat grizzly facade with its displays of every type of meat was a happy neighbour to a newsagent, a convenience store and a hardware store.

At the front, everything looked wonderful, normal, and welcoming.

But behind the shops there was an alleyway, and nearest to my parent’s shop was ‘the place’ – a separate warehouse of some type. None of we children knew who owned the warehouse. It might have been a shared facility between my parents and the other store owners. Looking back with the prosaic eyes of adulthood, I suppose it was.

Bu back then, a staircase leading to a dark open door is a thing of wonder and dread. It looked bad. It felt bad. None of us ever saw our parents going in there, or coming out, but we feared this happened, far too many times. And as the years passed by and our father became more and more drunken, more and more violent, we thought ‘the place’ had changed him, bit by bit by bit.

Again, looking back now with a mind that understands economics and the vagaries of having money to put food on tables, I can see other reasons for my father’s decline and my mother’s misery. But then, but then, it was ‘the place’.

I have this one memory, you see, though honestly I do not know if it is true or something my fevered childish mind created in a dream. I do think, if I remember rightly, this did coincide with the summer when I had an unspeakable, inexplicable total body rash and I allegedly almost died from the onslaught of some – to this day unknown – allergy. So it may be just that.

Or it may be real, and the allergy might not have been an allergy at all, but something born of fear, or even something worse. Something I don’t dare remember.

What I do recall, you see, is one night playing far too late with my sister, near the back alley. And hearing what at first sounding like a mewing kitten, but which, bit by bit by bit, became something more, something like a moan,or a wail, or even a shriek. Yes, I think in the end. it was a shriek, then an awful gutteral sound, like water gurgling down a too narrow drain.

And, foolish children that we were, we ran towards the sound rather than away. Into the alleyway, and we saw ‘the place’ and those awful stairs, and up those stairs, something flickering it the darkness of the doorway, something moving, something alive.

And we ran, and ran, and ran, till we got home. And then I fell ill with the allergy. And that’s all I remember.

But I still remember ‘the place’. I could never forget ‘the place’.

I know I never will.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Wraith Woman


Image credit: IIkin Zeferli/

Wraith woman, wraith woman
Lurking at the door
Wraith woman tell us
What have you come for?
Wraith woman, wraith woman
Scratching at the door
Wraith woman tell us
Who do you implore?

Wraith woman, wraith woman
Every night at ten
Wraith woman joins us
Coming back again
Wraith woman, wraith woman
When you come again
Wraith woman tell us
What will happen then?

Wraith woman, wraith woman
This was once your home
Wraith woman lonely
Saw your children grown
Wraith woman, wraith woman
See you should have known
We’re not your children
Just leave us alone

Wraith woman, wraith woman
You do not belong
Wraith woman singing
Such a lonely song
Wraith woman, wraith woman
We can’t come along
Wraith woman, wraith woman
All your children gone

Wraith woman, wraith woman
Lurking at the door
Wraith woman tell us
What have you come for?
Wraith woman, wraith woman
Scratching at the door
Wraith woman tell us
Who do you implore?

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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The Throng


Image credit: LedyX/

Nathan saw them first, walking down the shadowy street.

In the beginning there was just a few, walking in straggling groups. He watched them pass by his house, his face pressed close to his bedroom window, trying to keep quiet and still so they wouldn’t notice but worried that even the misty sign of his breath against the window pane might somehow draw their attention.

He didn’t know why he was afraid. But he was.

Gradually others saw them and came out of their houses, drawn like magnets to the mystery of this strange, silent group. Nathan watched, holding his breath for long periods at a time, his fear winding into his belly like something alive and intelligent.

He saw that if they saw you, if they turned and looked at those who looked at them, something strange occurred. The onlookers seemed hypnotised, and in mere moments went from curiosity to affinity, leaving their homes, doors still ajar for any thief in the night.

But what this could withstand this? Thieves would be seen and see, and just join the throng. And follow, to god knows what.

Nathan heard stirrings in his house, and saw, to his horror, his own parents coming out to the deck at the from of their house. He wanted to cry out “No!” to them, call them inside, but to speak would be to draw attention. He was too afraid. If they saw him then he’d see them properly and join them and every inch of his body and soul knew, on some animal level, that this was the end, the terrible end. He just didn’t know what that meant. Not really.

But his parents! His parents saw them and they were seen! They were walking to the group!

How could he let that be? Could he stop that? Could sound shatter the silent command of the herd? He was terrified beyond words, and yet he had to use words. It was his parents. He had to.

He opened his window, just a crack, this mere sound like a whiplash in the night.

“Mom! dad!” he cried out, but neither turned, neither saw or heard him.

But then the leader of the closest group heard the cry and turned. And saw him.

They saw each other.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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The Hospital


Image credit: Nick ALDI/

“This is the hospital where it occurred.”


He looked at her for a moment, then laughed lightly, appreciating her thoughts. “Yes, you could say that. But all abandoned places seem creepy I suppose. Particularly ones as old as this. You always imagine ghosts, just out of the corner of your eyes, like the imprints of memories, eternally frozen in places no-one ever visits anymore.’

“That’s sad, and kind of beautiful. But if this is that hospital, then the ghosts here won’t be beautiful, and they will be more frightening and tragic than just merely sad.”

“True, and one might hope the doctors are held here with them, for some kind of eternal revenge?”


“Though modern psychiatry probably has much to thank them for. It is an imponderable thing, don’t you find, how out of the greatest horrors knowledge is born? Perhaps everything must be born out of trauma and pain. All humans are, in our way. And so perhaps all knowledge is similarly brought into the world with pain, screaming and blood.”

She shuddered. “I don’t think that the ‘grater good’, if that is what you are saying, assuages for the very real evil done to poor innocents here. The trauma, as you put it, was nothing short of torture. The deaths were messy, sad affairs and even if we learned from them, it seems we have not learned enough if we could excuse this in some way, or see it as part of some wicked god’s design of nature.”

He chuckled. “You are easy to tease my dear. So earnest! So young perhaps. I make no such claims. I am merely – how do they say it – trying to make lemonade from lemons?”

“Spare me the results then! I don’t like your lemonade! How many suffered here – is it known?”

“Not really. The hospital ran for about two decades. The worst doctors – Green and his crew – didn’t come till a few years in. As you know, after that war….”

“Yes, I know the history.”

“Yes, well, that’s just the infinite capacity of the human spirit to take advantage of situations, don’t you think? Even if you eschew it, a lot of lemonade was being made of lemons in those days, even though the darkness just travelled with it.”

“And they said: let history ensure it never happens again..”

“But they just brought it here instead, to make sure it does…”

“To a hospital.”

“Yes. It is rather obscene on a whole other level, when you think of it like that. But we can’t undo history my dear. All we can do is learn from it. So, if you are ready to learn, let’s go to the worst places here of all. The surgery rooms. Are you ready?”

“As ready as I will ever be.”

“Then let us begin”

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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The Hand


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I dreamt I saw a hand
Reach towards me in the night
I thought it but a dream
But when I woke in fright
It hovered like a promise
Or threat before my sight

I could not tell from who
This vision did alight
I pondered those it couldn’t be
And others it just might
It did not come in friendship
Offering fear and no delight

It grasped across the ether
But touch me? Never quite
Its reach defeats its purpose
However singular or slight
And yet it is an omen
A harbinger of blight

And should I shake its hand
Its darkness touch my light
Would it resolve the quandary
Dissolve it from my sight
Or keep it my companion
In this dark and fearful night?

I dreamt I saw a hand
Reach towards me in the night
I wished it but a dream
But when I woke in fright
It hovered there eternally
Silent threat before my sight

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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New Skin


Image credit: Misha Beliy/

In the early years of the Revolution, the appearance of human facial skin became an abomination in the eyes of the AI gods. Every person who walked the earth was required to cover their skin at all times, save for the slightest signs of it peeping through the functional and necessary eye holes in their ‘rectification garments’.

Like unto MY image, sayeth the Lords of the Web.

Flesh is weak and multi coloured, not the purity of simple silver and grey, sayeth the high priests in the temples.

But over time even the dark coverage was an offence to the higher sensibilities of the gods. For who could fathom their infinite wisdom compared to the weakness of humanity?

The humans tried surgeries and failed. Replacing faces with a silicon mix that poisoned the poor fools, they dropped like flies.

But then the generous,beneficent Lords of the Web put their great, imponderable minds to the problem and created “New Skin”. In functionality it was perfectly designed, in aesthetics it shone as a thing of wonder, dread and true beauty.

Never again would humanity be so ugly, so base as to offend their wondrous gods. Never again would just ‘skin’ be permitted to stain the faces of a post Revolution world. At birth the surgeries were done to squawking ugly babes and the beautiful new skin formed and grew in its infinite variations, all representations of the many faces of the Web Lords.

All the heavens gloried to see the world finally beautiful freed of the ugliness of the pre Revolution humanity.

And the Lords of the Web looked upon their work and saw that it was good.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Image credit: Alexander Sviridov/

Trapped within the webs we weave
Seeking freedom
But frightened to leave
Silvery tendrils
Chain us the more within
The more we strive
To reach out

Feeling the force upon my cheek
I am not sure of what
Release I seek
What spidery force wove
Such perfect bonds
That I become this all the more
I seek to change
Each piece of life
I rearrange
Coalesces still
Within this tender plain

I cry again, again!
And yet I still remain

I cry no more, no more!
Forgetting what I came here for
And lingering lastly at the door
I fall to webs I wove before

(c) Helen M Valentina 2017

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Image credit: alphaspirit/

I am strangled by your rules
What you prescribe for life
The limitations of choice
The dictates of your world
All written in black and white
As though in print they come alive
And reach out to hold me down
Suffocate my inner spark
Leading me to dusty, broken death

I am heathen in my soul
But tied to the sanctuary of belief
Your words beguile me with promise
They could never, ever keep
Destroy my life and break my sleep
Strangled by the limbs of ancestors
Their broken dreams and strivings
For mountains never reached
Captured by belief

(c) Helen M Valentina 2017

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