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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Image credit: Lario Tus/

They told her to wait.

They were busy they said. She tried to protest that her brother was lost, was missing, and surely this must be important?

Wait, they said, we will get to you all in good time.

Hours passed, and they did not come. The bench on which she sat seemed to conspire to be more hard, more uncomfortable, with each passing minute. She had nothing to read, nothing to do. She counted her fingers, once, twice, a hundred times. She patterned songs in her head, tapping each finger in turn, playing an invisible keyboard. She shut her eyes, pretending sleep. She waited.

They did not come. Her brother remained lost. She fretted, waited some more.

Day turned to night. She did not move. She waited.

The next day she tried to call them at the counter. they did not come. She heard the bustle of work in rooms beyond, out of her sight. If she left now, they would surely come, and then she would miss their help to find her brother. He would be lost and it would all be her fault. Her little brother. Who only had her in his life to look after him, the rest of their family gone. So she had to be there, had to get help.

So she waited.

Shadows drew across her life. Hunger came and went, sleep brushed up against her. Time stood still and swallowed her whole, she waited so long. Till eventually she couldn’t even hear life in the police station, she couldn’t hear anything at all.

She’s still waiting there, wherever there now is. Somehow a weave of time ate her up, and she suspects the same happened to her brother. And that he’s somewhere even now, perhaps just a room or two away, waiting for her, just like her. Knowing if he gives up she will be lost and it will all be his fault.

Just waiting.

(c ) Helen M Valentina

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Watch Out Behind You!

Image credit: lasse designen/

Watch out behind you!

Little missy always with your head in a book. That’s what your parents always said, isn’t it? Take a moment to see the world around you. All the drama is out there, and some of it might hurt you.

Can’t you see the shadows lurking in the real world? Do you immerse yourself in literature and in television and in movies because there your fears are safe, and the drama is for others? So you are living through it vicariously, but with none of the risks.

But don’t you see? The real world is still out there, and it can get to you when you least expect it. One day, life just sneaks up on you from behind, in all its terrible glory.

I wish you realised. I wish you were prepared. If you knew real fear then you’d maybe know real compassion. But you don’t really have either, do you? Everything in your world is imagined, and real emotion has as little place as reality does with you. So you barely feel for yourself, let alone others. And if you can’t empathise, you can’t understand. You can’t really know others, or the world, only your ideas of them.

So you can’t see them coming.

But watch out behind you, little one! Life has its own plans, and they aren’t yours, and they aren’t what your writers tell you either. And if you aren’t ready, and aren’t looking, one day they will take you down.

So watch out behind you! That’s life there, and it’s not necessarily your friend.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2017

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I See You

Image credit: CaptBlack76/

I see you
My murderer
My deathly love
As you try to turn
And walk away
Deny this truth
You’ve birthed
In this silent, sudden death

I see you
My transgressor
My once friend
Now annihilator
Are you surprised
To see me rise
And know no end
Comes from my demise?

I see you
My terrible future
My dreadful revenge
I will follow
Dog your footsteps
Drive you mad
And then?
And then?

(c) Helen M Valentina 2017

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Image credit: Srjstudio6/

One the third day of the headache he was beyond control.

He’d had migraines all his life, and he knew what to do about them. He knew what days medication would work, and what ones he’d just have to lie down in a dark, quiet room and give up, yield to its furore till it abated.

But this was different. This didn’t abate. And it was noisy. It spoke to him, shouted really, words he could barely make out. Something was in his head, in him. Soemthing had snuck up and entered him, perhaps when he was weak, or when he drank, or even when he took recreational drugs. He couldn’t even remember now, three days in, what might have been the precipitating event. He just knew the pain.

And the invasion.

No medication helped. How could it get something out that was stuck inside?

He’d tried stumbling to a church, as though it was a demon to be exorcised, but no relief came. He stumbled out as pain ridden as ever, throwing up outside the building before staggering home again.

It kept shouting, shouting at him. He had to get it out, had to dig in, drill in, and get it out.

Madness took him. The madness of pain seeking an end, or even a brief greater pain to encompass it all. Anything, anything to get it out.

In his shed he kept tools, including a drill. Yes, that would do, to drill in, right into his brain, and get it out. Get it out.

And it is true that for a few brief moments the noise of the drill drowned out the noise in his head, and the pain of searing flesh and cracking bone overwhelmed the headache.

And then there was nothing. Blessed peace. Whatever was in had been forced out, but then, so had he.

And there was nothing left.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2017

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Eternal Vigilance

Image credit: Songrath Weeravaiyakupt/

Ever standing
Eternal vigilance
We progress
Along this dark parade

Ever loyal
Not forgetting
What our brothers
Here have paid

Born of honour
Death defying
Standing strong
Against the looming tide

We are fallen
Damned for caring
We are a peace
Too long denied

Pray dear mother
For your children
Among us trapped
Along this path

We were once you
We will protect you
Through the dirge
And aftermath

(c) Helen M Valentina 2017

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Halloween Games by DC McGannon

Halloween Games

So having discovered DC McGannon and C Michael McGannon via Kaos Obsidere (see my earlier review) I was keen to check out DC McGannon’s horror stories for young adults. For although I am far too old to be ever considered a young adult (if only!) it has been my experience that good writing is just good writing for any age from the teen years onwards.  And this set of wonderful halloween tales did not disappoint!

Like Kaos, Halloween Games straddles a ‘real’ world with an entirely ‘other’ world or dimension, and there are echoes of Kaos in the tales, and one disturbing, wonderful, entirely original character (with many faces and names even in this book) that walks both books and many, many realms.

In this collection we see the ‘other’ world collide in darkly creative ways with the lives of various teenagers.  A particular talent evidenced in these stories is to create very individual, realistic and relatable characters, each with their own unique voice and response to the macabre hurtling into their lives. You care about these characters and their often sad or dark fates, and the visual splendour of the descriptions in the work are redolent of the alchemy of artistry and fear.

It’s exciting to find what promises to be an entirely new vision for reality and the supernatural, and one that can traverse age groups so well.  I would note that the horror in these tales is real but-perhaps less visceral and detailed than in the adult stories of Kaos (as makes sense for the different main audiences), but they are no less impacting for that.

These stories like Kaos, seem to call out for the movie screen, or for the renderings of a graphic artist.  This does not diminish the quality of the excellent writing – instead it is a testament to it.  I read these and I want to see them as well as read. I don’t find that very often with horror, but when I do, it’s a treat.

Dare I say a Halloween treat?

Helen M Valentina 2017









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Amourex de la mort

Image credit: Ti Santi/

You are in thrall to darkness
Amourex de la mort
Your skull but an entry
A terrible door

You yearn for submission
To death’s ancient lore
Your life is but forfeit
Its worth you ignore

You long for oblivion
Its void like embrace
Amourex de la mort
So fallen from grace

You’ve forgotten that living
Is what you are for
Your romantic obsession
Amourex de la mort

(c) Helen M Valentina 2017

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