Image credit: Nomad_Soul/

They show me these awful images, on repeat. They call it conditioning – a necessary step to the evolution of my mind beyond the lesser experience of empathy.

The heart, they say, is but a muscle, and we must strengthen it and take away its sentimentality, its compassion – all the weaknesses that leech away our strength. We must be wiped of all fellow feeling to truly feel our own essential freedom.

All this they say. But all I want to do is run, to scream, to throw up as each image scars my brain. There is something deeply wrong here. There must be. For the images are real, not make up, not special effects. Such suffering they show or promise. And for this, there must be victims, and I am to forget that? For freedom?

But what did my friend Laurence say? That those that do not manage the programming become the victims. The ultimate test of Darwin’s law – the survival of the fittest. To resist is to become one with the pictures in a far worse way. It is to become their subject rather than their audience.

He knew, he saw it all. He was always the clear one of our gang. But I haven’t heard from him in days, and something in me fears that he failed the test, as I may yet do if I cannot hold down the bile threatening to rise up my throat even now.

And oh my god, this picture now, this torso, torn and tortured – looks too familiar. Looks just like Laurence, but the face is mangled beyond recognition. Still I see the tattoo on the wrist, the single, flying dove, and I know. I know it’s him.

And that they’ve shown me this for a reason – they already suspect I may not pass the test. Who knows, maybe in those final moments evenLaurence gave me up and told them of my doubts. I’ll never know, and his death now is like the bell, tolling for me.

For if he failed, then surely so will I.  So will I.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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The Monks

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We’re not sure when the monks turned, or why. Rumors had swirled thought the Vatican for years.  People pointed to the snake like architecture of papal lodgings and meeting rooms. They whispered about secret meetings in the bowels of the buildings, and just when the religion turned from faith to denial.

Rumors are hyperbolic of course. It is their nature. I cannot say if the Church itself turned, only the monks in this one chapter I reviewed. Feeling like a Witchfinder General from the days of the inquisition or something, I studied them from within. I joined their ranks and I watched their ways and as the hints were dropped I took the bait.

They let me into their secrets, their rituals, and the god they now worshiped. The fallen one, the star of the morning, the Venusian luciferian one. And I could have almost believed them, their gnostic views, their arguments on theology and philosophy and history. They were clever and eloquent and they’d clearly convinced themselves at least. And they might have convinced me..except..except for the children.

It was the children. the death of the children. The sacrifice of their light. That’s what spurred me to reveal them and bring the down. That’s what made me turn against all their sweet words. In truth I’d entered the investigation in two minds – constrained by and doubting in my faith. But there’s nothing like seeing the real dark to remind you why you yearn for the light.

The real light, not the false flame of the falling star of the morning. And the real faith, not that of the fallen monks with more blood on their hands than in their broken, charcoal hearts.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020




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All In A Day’s Work


Image Credit: Nomad_Soul/


When they called it the Purge I thought, hey yeah, that sounds cool. I mean, it does, doesn’t it? I wasn’t thinking about that horror movie franchise of the time and all the political garbage that showed.  No, I was thinking when you purge something you get rid of something bad and you feel better, right? So I signed up.

After all, jobs were hard to come by back then and nowadays it’s even worse.  You’d think with all the culling of the herd it’d get better, but no such luck.  Automation, they said. AI, they said. Make your life easier they said. Well, never listen to what they say.

Just doing my bit, I told my ma. She wasn’t that impressed. Thought she’d wasted all that money on my education, but education these days doesn’t equip you for anything but debt. And I had debts to pay off, and besides, I cottoned on real quick.  Get with the program, help with the purge or be purged, right?

Free stuff they said. Universal health care they said. Don’t worry about the cost.  First we’ll have the Purge and get rid of anyone who can’t pull their weight. Pro-active death panels. Made sense, and I was fit and ready to jump right in. I’ve always been ahead of the curve.

Now the only curve I’m ahead of is the one in this blasted road. And my job is weighing me down, in more ways than one. Another death, another statistic for the record books, just all in a day’s work.

There’s no end to it, and bit by bit you lose it all – all your friends, your family. They took my ma and purged her a few weeks back and by then I didn’t feel a thing. I haven’t felt a thing for ages really except the aching of my back, the tiredness of my legs, my shoulder whinging all the time from the load I carry.

Still, I purge. It’s that or be purged. While the so-called saviours of our world with all their free stuff live high on the hog, grabbing all the world in their greedy hands as they thin out our herd.

I can’t complain though. I’ve got a job. These days it means something. And if that something is lugging dead bodies to exhumation plants, at least it’s an honest day’s work.


(c) Helen M Valentina 2020



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The Old School-House


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The old school house
They closed it down
When children went missing
All over town
When people gossiped
Said in its walls
The monsters crept
We heard their calls
Hysteria rising
Each passing day
The old school principal
Passed away
And stories of rituals
Did the rounds
The old school house
They closed it down

The old school house
Still stands today
Its gardens broken
It’s in decay
The children whisper
To never go
Within its doors
It scares them so
A haunted house
Would never be
As fearful a place
To you or me
And if it’s true
I dare not say
As the old school house
Still stands today

Helen M Valentina (c ) 2020

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Truly Gothic Literature


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Daniel Keats was a little known writer when he was alive. Like many aspiring authors he banged away endlessly at his keyboard each day, hoping to write that one novel that would make him famous. But as the rejection slips piled up even higher than the volume of books he wrote, he fell to a despair.

With his last dwindling funds he self published one book – one special book. He called it his gothic masterpiece, a rambling self indulgent manifesto about the power of creativity and the vacuity of the modern world. Every last drop of his disappointed soul bled into the pages. Once published by a local vanity press, he cajoled a friendly librarian to place a copy on their shelves, and there it would no doubt gather dust from a lack of readership.

He visited for a few weeks, hoping to see it taken out, borrowed by someone, but the book remained unopened. And with that his last hopes died, and he followed soon thereafter, at his own hand.

But much of Daniel had more than figuratively bled into those pages. A year to the day from his death someone did take the book out. The title of the book “Gothic Yearnings’ fit the broad requirements of an academic research piece into gothic literature, and the researcher who took out the work was hardly discerning or well-informed on who was established as a Gothic author, as opposed to anyone who might just have written something with the word ‘gothic’ in the title.

This was all it took, however, for Daniel’s ghost to escape. The first time the book opened the researcher saw something like smoke rising from its pages and decided he was overwrought and over-tired and put it down to his imagination. But those smoky needs surrounded him and he found he couldn’t stop reading the book. Once finished he couldn’t stop extolling its virtues. And then, each time someone read the book at his, or another’s instance, the same spectre rose and captured another soul, entrancing them.

That’s how Daniel Keats’ ‘Gothic Yearnings’ became a bestseller posthumously. It’s how it transfigured the whole genre of gothic literature, and not, I can tell you, for the better. But it is what it is, and gothic sensibilities are now indistinguishable from Daniels’ and all it really shows is the power of the written word.

Or the power of ghosts, depending on how you look at it. I’ll leave the final analysis to you.

Helen M Valentina (c ) 2020

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Image Credit: SAHACHATZ/

This time they chose the wrong one to traffic.

It’s funny how sometimes it’s the most usual of things that bring an operation undone, and this certainly was instant karma, rough justice really. They’d done their usual sweep of the city in its darkest shadowy corners, finding its most broken and lost and abandoned women and children. Sometimes even flagrantly grabbing less unfortunate off the streets when they looked well suited to a particularly wealthy client’s taste.

Just another run in a grand international operation, as organised and bureaucratised as a government department, and no doubt secretly sponsored by some behind the scenes.

But then, they grabbed her. A young girl, barely out of her teens, wandering the less darkened streets on the way home from school. She cried and screamed prettily, as they’d expect, and one or two of them took the opportunity to grope the merchandise as they drugged her and put her in her cage, her box, her transportation device.

But what they didn’t know was that she was just playing possum. She could have escaped and killed them right from the outset. She was impervious to their drugs too. But she wanted to get them all together and do it right because she understood what her capture meant.

And frankly she’d had enough of the darkness. Other darknesses had trained her, made her what she was. Now it was time to pay it all back. Or pay it forward, depending on your view of things.

They didn’t think much when they saw her hand grasping out of the cage. They just figured she’d woken from the drugs a bit more quickly. They dragged the cage out to the centre of the human marketplace precisely for that reason, because she could come out and show herself to the high rollers encircling them now.

And she came out alright, a fire in her eyes blazing and the power of her will shimmering and striking with the intensity and precision of a nuclear strike. Within seconds every foul creature in the room was dead and her only regret was that they didn’t last long enough to really see it coming, or to suffer.

Never mind. She knew about hell too. She’d been there and back, literally, in her training. Once she’d freed the other victims she’d take a trip down there, to the icy inner circle where she knew they’d be found.

Vengeance is a dish best served cold, after all.

Helen M Valentina (c ) 2019

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Art Show


Image credit: Oleh Voinilovych/

Davis: I swear to god I warned them. Priest’s art shows were always bizarre and frankly in poor taste if you ask me, but my bosses didn’t care. As long as it sold, and controversy sells, that’s what they say.

Detective Webb: Well, they got controversy this time, that’s for sure. But how did they pull it off, that’s the material question.

Davis: I have no idea! You’re asking the wrong person. I just put the exhibits up and do the promo materials. This time it gave me nightmares even before all…that.. happened. All those skulls screeching out of the plastic base canvas. And those things with broken dolls. I mean. Ugh. He was demented.

Detective Webb: That’s one way of putting it. But how did he and half his patrons on opening night end up in the exhibits, that’s what we need to understand. How did he end up spreadeagled and impaled on the ‘kitchen sword’ display, for instance? Or the entire assembly from the East Side Art Appreciation club end up mauled in the mouths of those skulls? I mean, there’s art appreciation – even audience participation – and then there’s just..I don’t even know what that was.

Davis: And how would I know? I was on the reception counter the whole time! I didn’t see anything. mean, I heard stuff, but that frightened me so much I didn’t go looking. I’m not like those idiots in horror movies…

Detective Webb: But you said yourself, you warned the gallery owners. So what did you think you were warning them about?

Davis: Just him, just what they say about him. that he’s not just an artistic, that he’s..sorry he was.. a magus and that all his works were elaborate rituals. You hear stories, in the industry, of other galleries being under some kind of curse after showing him..though nothing like that..nothing like the art actually killing the artist and his patrons.that’s a whole other level of horrorshow..that is..So I said don’t show him, it isn’t worth it, but they never listen.

Detective Webb: And you didn’t see anything, nothing at all?

Davis: Only other patrons running screaming out of the exhibition area. I wasn’t going looking then, as I said. I’m not a fool. Why bother me? Why not watch the security camera footage if you want details?

Detective Webb: It went on the blink. Convenient, wouldn’t you say?

Davis: I guess.

Detective Webb: But maybe not for you, given part of your job description is also..let me just check, oh security? So why wouldn’t we think you had more than a general idea of what was going to happen?

Davis: What are you saying? I had nothing to do wth this! I tried to stop it!

Detective Webb: Then why did we find this?

(Detective holds up a photo of the scene to the camera. In blood, next to the cannibal skulls, is a short sentence written in blood “It’s all for you Davis, all for you”)

Davis: Shit.

Detective Webb: Yes, that’s about the size of it champ. So why don’t we start again? What happened?

Helen M Valentina (c ) 2019

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Follow Me


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She said follow me into the forest. I heard her, so clear. Even though she, herself, was indistinct and never came too near.

She wavered in the moonlight. I saw her shadowy form. And even though it frightened me, she looked so lost and so forlorn, I followed through the wispy night until the breaking dawn.

She said that she was quite alone, and had been all her life. And while I thought that she was dead, a spectral wavering ghost instead, she whispered of the coolest knife to cut us all from strife.

She promised we’d be free. She beckoned brightly yet to me. I followed her through brush and trees, my breath so smoky by degrees. Her promises were soft and sweet, and if I’d doubt she’d keep her vow, it did not stop me now.

She only comes one night a year, this much is told to all and clear. I thought any moment she’d disappear, so I followed her sweet call. As all around me night would fall, I didn’t care at all.

And now we two upon the road, where stars have died and moons have glowed, call others to the spectral world, a song of innocent lost girls. Only on that special night, our path is clear and very bright, offering secrets and delight, and all these blessings we’ve bestowed.

Helen M Valentina (c ) 2019

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Image Credit: Nomad_Soul/

These days we levitate
On words and thoughts of indiscriminate hate
From partisanship we’ll not deviate
No matter the chaos we create

These days the truth will fly
For but a moment whereas a lie
Traverses the globe in a blink of an eye
Without us questioning why

The devils all dance upon our belief
Traffic in points scored through death and grief
And never a moment of calm or relief
When power is but a thief

These days deluded we watch the news
Stoking our certainty on similar views
And so unaware that with each day we lose
The right to independently choose

These days we levitate
On words and thoughts of indiscriminate hate
From partisanship never deviate
No matter the chaos we create

Helen M Valentina (c ) 2019

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Special Room


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My uncle Wilson lived in a very old house that he’d inherited from his grandfather. Sometimes we’d visit around Christmas time because mother said he was lonely.

“He always was, even as a boy” she said with mix of fondness and sadness for her sibling. “And now I think his inheritance has swallowed him up into that part of his nature and he hides in it. It’s only right we try to draw him out, at least at Christmas. Even Wilson should have some time in the sun.”

So we visited the old, dark, quiet house. Wilson would greet us but then lurk, out of reach, day upon day, until my formidable mother dragged him to the Christmas dinner table and ordered he do the honours carving the turkey. Then we’d see him smile and sometimes he’d even joke a bit. Under everything he was as human as any of us.

“Not that you’d know it,” my father would growl when my mother couldn’t hear him.

The thing is, I think both my parents were right. Uncle Wilson could be very normal sometimes and even seemed to enjoy our company eventually, like it seeped into him over the days each time we stayed. But he was also so full of secrets. And the biggest one of all was his special room.

Down the hallway from all the bedrooms was one room with a perpetually locked orange door. Uncle Wilson never told us what was inside and said no-one but he could enter. My mother didn’t remember there being such a room when they visited their grandfather as children.

“It’s like it sprung up out of nowhere after grandpa died,” my mother would marvel. “I don’t remember a room being here at all.”

Uncle Wilson wouldn’t be drawn on the subject, no matter how I tried. I developed the theory that my great grandfather morphed into the room on his death, just so he could remain in the house. If so, Uncle Wilson was the only one welcome in his company.

But I noticed something else, after a few years of Christmas visits. Every time Uncle Wilson looked thinner, frailer, and less substantial. It was really like looking at someone turn into a ghost. And every year the orange of the door turned brighter, like it drank him in.

So I reckon one day we’ll visit and he won’t be there. Not as himself, anyway. He’ll be part of the house and merged with his Grandfather.

And I bet you anything on that day the orange door will be so bright it will almost be red. Just like the life-force itself, like blood.

Helen M Valentina (c) 2019

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