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Out of smoke and fire they came.

At first just as strange and unthreatening as seeing a face in the clouds, the creatures born of smoke and fire came.

Friendly at first, their faces smiling, their words sweet, the terrible creatures of smoke and fire came.

One or two, here and there, at campfires or in crematoriums or at bonfires on the beach, the creatures of smoke and fire came.

But then, so much more. Fires spontaneously lit themselves in city streets, in the lush cornfields of the country towns, in the playgrounds of schools.

And as more came, and more were born of the wicked flame, their expressions were not so sweet, their words not so kind. The creatures started to show, with the strength of numbers, their true faces.

And then we knew, the Emergence had begun.

The ephemeral can kill. It can torture in slow, bittersweet ways. It can drive you mad.

It is not constrained by the normal rules of physics. It can seep and creep and crawl and travel vast distances in the blink of an eye.

And its eye is terrible. But more terrible still is its mouth. Their mouths. Their hungry mouths.

All we could do was run, all we could do was hide. One by one we fell, consumed, one by one into bitter death.

I’m hiding still, in the alleyways and byways of the grittier side of city life. Hoping they won’t come. Hoping they won’t find me. Fearful, ever alert, for the slightest flicker of flame, the smallest whiff of smoke.

I know it’s only a matter of time. The world is theirs now, and we are but the fuel for their flame.

But still, I hide.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Play With Me


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Come play with me the young girls say
The night is young, come play, come play!
We’ll travel oh so far away
Till night everlasting vanquishes day

Come dance with us upon the lawn
Don’t be so timid, so lost, forlorn
Leave your world, its fear, its scorn
You’ll never fear another morn

Come fly with us into the sky
We cannot tell you how or why
We are the things the world denies
But we can beat them, you and I

Come play with me the young girls say
The night is young, come play, come play!
We’ll travel oh so far away
Till night everlasting vanquishes day

(c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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Cold Castle


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He will invite you to his cold castle, so elegant, and so refined. You will be charmed by his words and his intense attention.

You will feel for a time like you are adored, so warm in his gaze you will not notice. You will not see how cold the walls are, so deep blue like a limitless sea. Nor how icy his eyes, like crystals from the oldest, highest mountains, always just out of reach. Or how your breath shimmers before you as you walk through the halls, following him ever deeper within.

It is his ritual and in this he is not better or worse than any other. We all consume to live, it is the one constant truth of this pitiless universe. He is no monster for this, or for the icy grasp and deadly breath on your cheek. And you are chosen, it is true, and he does need you, truer still.

Once in his cold castle you may never leave. Like Bluebeard he keeps secrets, and in time one may be you. On certain nights you will roam freely and find the others, the others like you. And each time you will see how they become more and more translucent, then eventually invisible as he and his castle absorbs them, piece by piece.

Eventually you will be invisible also, just a trapped ghost under the cold glass. And you will see him invite others, and you might try to call out to them to warn them, but it will be too late. You’ll only try once, because then you will know. You have no form and no voice, and they will not hear.

c) Helen M Valentina 2019

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They Come Back


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If they come back
They cannot be denied
You be the bridegroom
She’ll be the bride
You make your vows
They’ll never go
Tell you such things
You’d never know
If they come back
They take you in their arms
You can’t escape
Their cold deathly charms
If you hear them coming
Don’t run too slow
If they come back
They’ll never go

(c Helen M Valentina 2019

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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

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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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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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