The World Beneath (Cover of Darkness)
It was a voice. The corpse’s mouth was wide open and it was screaming.
The corpse’s eyes flicked open, its face contorted in an expression of dread. Christine stepped back, nearly losing her balance. She reached behind her, felt the sink and gripped it with both hands. Its icy coldness was comforting. The noise was like fingernails scraping a blackboard. She had to make it stop. She reached out to cover the corpse’s mouth with her hand. It reacted to the movement and turned its head to stare her full in the face. In one slouching movement it sat up, as if weary despite its terror, got off the table and ran to the corner of the room where it collapsed onto the floor. The screaming stopped.
The sudden quiet was numbing. All Christine could hear was her own breath coming in short gasps. She didn’t dare take her eyes off the body. And as she stood there, she realised the corpse was not going to take its eyes off her.
Some spaces that would repulse many people are a haven for others, or should I say Others: I once visited a South London hardcore gay SM club called Fist, which had a predominately male clientele. The club, underneath some railway arches if I remember correctly, was steamy and felt as if it was deep underground. I was surrounded by men but knew I was completely safe.
The character Bou is real. More or less.
Perpetual Motion (Kimota #16)
“Well, Sarah? Are you pleased? You’re going to die very young. You’re still going to be a virgin when you die. You’ll never grow up, never get married, never have children. Never live.”
The man was grinning at her. There was something unnatural about him. He was wearing a top hat and tails like an undertaker and apart from what he was saying his voice, his whole manner, made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. When I’d been at primary school there had been several attempted abductions of children and we’d been shown a video to scare us into keeping away from strangers. This man reminded me of the bogeyman on the video. He was torturing the girl quite flippantly, casually putting horrible thoughts into her head, for the fun of it, it seemed
Most of us are terrified of our own mortality.
Best Wishes (Dummy)
We talked. This is what Chat told me: all over the world there are places, Quiet Places they’re called, where fairies exist, although a Quiet Place could also be a state of mind. All these places are linked and the fairies can just step from one to another, like going from room to room in a house, even on opposite sides of the world. The industrial estate where I played as a child was a Quiet Place. Among the broken down cars, pieces of machinery and litter was real magic. The fairies had heard me wishing and Chat had come to investigate. She had mischievously thrown things around and had tried to attract my attention but I just didn’t – or wouldn’t – see her. After I grew up and left, her and other fairies came back many times, to play, to look for me. They knew I’d be back some day.
Dummy was a wonderful, one-off magazine produced by a contingent of amazing women of diverse race and sexuality and I was lucky enough to be asked to participate. This story is a bit of a fairytale gone wrong and the struggle I had coming to terms with Crohn’s Disease, diagnosed after an urgent operation but, for reasons unknown, kept from me by the medical profession until I read my medical notes several years later.
God’s Favourite Creatures (Kimota #6)
The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide on Kate Brooks, but that’s not the way it was.
Slightly cheerier than this small extract suggests! I’ve owned a Fowler’s Phrenology Head for many years and wanted to base a story on someone using it as a method of controlling their more difficult emotions.
Moon Wood (Va Va Voom)
I looked ahead. For a moment it seemed as if the world was melting. The sight made me feel dizzy, but I took a deep breath, shook my head and looked again. Something was pulling itself away, forming from the essence of the wood. Its shape settled and a figure was soon recognisable; a woman, made from all the things that surrounded me. Her hair was long strands of reed and grass, her limbs were thick branches, her body was earth. On her large, sagging breasts fresh, open daisies took the place of nipples.
After Owl-Blasted (see below) appeared in print, publishers Diva invited me to contribute to an anthology of lesbian erotica. I gave it a go. It has a Pagan edge to it, which was my main concern.
When a person goes missing, there is always the hope that they are alive, somewhere, but not knowing keeps their loved ones in limbo, a terrible place to inhabit. It leaves family and friends unable to grieve, for there is nothing to grieve for, but unable to move on, forever waiting. A year passed and Alice had not seen or heard from Harry. She felt time drag by, more than once spending the whole day watching the hands of a clock make their way around the dial, but then would suddenly realise that months had passed. Many things can happen in a year; a relationship began and then ended, a friend went overseas to work and travel and a young uncle died. Things to talk to a best friend about. But Alice had no best friend to tell. Part of her, the optimistic part, imagined that Harry had met the man of his dreams that night and had been whisked off to a wonderful new life, but mostly she was realistic. And eventually she wished for the news that he was dead, just so that it would be over and she could begin to live again.
About being doomed and being damned. Another City of London story. The title and much of the terminology was inspired by my reference books on witchcraft.
Bedlam’s Way (Saccade #10)
Now it was clear – the house had moved, perhaps twenty or thirty feet.
Personal madness. Much inspired and influenced by J G Ballard’s work and vision.
The Fourth World (Psychotrope #3)
No extract available due to the age of this story – written on a word processor that I was unable to transfer material from.
A fantasy of how a person could experience a coma, although the truth is probably far more traumatic. Cliveden House in the Home Counties and the catacombs in Kensal Green cemetery (North West London) provided the backdrop.
The Guinea Worm (The Third Alternative #5/Last Rites and Resurrections)
Again, this story’s so old I have no version of it apart from the published magazine and anthology.
I based this on childhood nightmares and the bizarre headspace achieved after listening to Coil’s Horse Rotorvator and Lustmord’s The Monstrous Soul albums on endless repeat.
All images and text ©Julie Travis unless otherwise stated.