Hello everyone! We’ve had a lot of questions about word counts and many people are feeling pushed by the deadline. Some folks might say that’s what deadlines are for but – HOT DANG – it’s been a weird old summer, hasn’t it? Time has been bendy at best. So, with that in mind, we’re going to extend the submission deadline to September 30th and increase our word count limit to 5,000 words. If you’ve already submitted a piece but think you have something else that’s longer and you like better, then send it along. We’re happy to accept multiple submissions.
We’d also like to take this opportunity to reiterate that, as a publisher, we focus on Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and all the Weird and Interstitial skeins that weave in and around those genres. This anthology is no exception.
Out now, new novella from Shona Kinsella with fantastic cover art by Sarah Anne Langton.
In Slyvo, one child in a hundred is born with an affinity: a magical link to an element, able to shape and use it as they choose. If they are lucky they will become a master craftsman, able to command high prices; if they are unlucky, the factories always demand new wielders, kept as slaves and worked to exhaustion.
Talis and Almoris are free wielders, dedicating their lives to helping wielders leave the country for better lives abroad. But not everyone believes in their mission, and not everyone can be trusted – when Almoris takes in a runaway, they find themselves pulled into a mission that puts their lives in danger and threatens both their loyalties and their love.
I’ve spent a little while trying to work out how to title this and honestly, I think ‘blunt instrument’ is the way to go.
I love the movies. I always have. Film was the medium that taught me there was life beyond where I grew up. Film taught me about stories and emotion. People taught me narrative and the amazing things that happen when you subvert it. Film is where I go to heal my hurt and I’ve never, not once, failed to feel better after seeing a movie than I was when it started.
I haven’t been to a movie theater since February. The last two movies I saw were Emmaand Underwater. Both pretty good and a deeply weird and lovely double bill. Check them out.
When lockdown took hold, I made my peace with the fact I wouldn’t be going to the movies again, odds are, this year. I have streaming services, we have a monthly rental budget, I watch plenty of movies. But I won’t be setting foot through the doors of a cinema again until there’s a vaccine. It isn’t safe.
This is not a memo several studios, and any government on either side of the Atlantic, seem to have received.
Let’s burn a couple of straw men before we go any further shall we? First off, if your first response to this piece is ANY variation of ‘It’s just the flu’ or ‘It’s a cover up’ or any of the bilious, clammy machismo drivel that’s been spouted by people who saw a scientist once on TV, then leave. Now. This is not for you. Go stand in the corner with the depressingly large bunch of professional MMA fighters so scared of admitting they’re scared they’re trying to out macho a virus.
‘But what about businesses? How will they stay open?’ This is a great point and it’s one there are two responses too. The first, which has zero empathy and isn’t one I back, is that capitalism’s greatest sin is that it isn’t dying fast enough and we should let it do just that. I see that point, I really do. But I’ve worked retail jobs. I’ve worked service jobs. I enjoy paying bills, eating food and not having to worry about either on top of a global pandemic. Jobs, if this is the societal framework we exist in, are good. People should have them and be paid fairly for their time.
But COVID-19 is an unprecedented global event. Every government has the responsibility to look after their people and their economy although God knows the last time they were mentioned in that order of priority. At times like this, governments need to crack open the piggy bank. Cinemas, theaters, the entire arts sector is in massive, relentless trouble in this country and it desperately needs help. Their help. Not our health.
A very brief diversion; this is the perfect opportunity to trial Universal Basic Income. Finland just finished a two year successful trial of this. It’s remarkably simple and terrifies the UK government because there’s no chance to hurt people who aren’t their voter base with it. Simply put, you get a flat, unconditional amount of money from the government every month. If it’s enough to cover your costs and everything else, you don’t have to work. It doesn’t go up if you’re fired. It doesn’t drop if you’re employed. It’s redirected instantly back into the economy whether through shopping, utilities, rent or whatever else. It’s a foundation for people to build on, not a cushion for the groups the UK has been conditioned to hate for decades to relax on. It’s a brilliant idea. We need it. Right now? It would mean retail staff wouldn’t have to risk their lives for minimum wage and the chance their company was still there in a year. But instead of that we get the richest chancellor in the country’s history handing out short term furlough grants, giving some freelancers two entire payments months apart of a percentage of projected earnings and basically saying ‘good luck’ to everyone else.
That’s a simplification sure, but not much of one. UBI is a good system, Finland just proved it worked. Everywhere else needs it, not to mention an unprecedentedly large amount of financial support to keep organizations afloat while they functionally shutter for a year. We don’t have that, which means we’re now at the point where cinemas aren’t just reopening, they’re using this to entice people in.
I love cinema. I love breathing more.
And here’s the thing, I hear the folks saying the cinemas have to reopen, I really do. I know this is a no-win situation for them. I also know their staff will be directly impacted, in every way, long before any board members and shareholders are. Know what else I’d like them and every retail organization to do, if they are re-opening? Pay a living wage. Hey, Waterstones, what’s up? Aside from profits?
But that’s the choice we’re being given by multiple studios and, honestly, it’s made me angrier than I was expecting. Tenet opens over here shortly, and the few critics able to see it have said it’s definitely a Christopher Nolan movie for better and worse. Wonder Woman ’84 just released its second trailer which finishes with the words ONLY IN CINEMAS. New Mutants too will be cinema only and honestly, that one plays like a genuine crotch punch. The thing’s had it’s release moved around as much as Cabin in the Woods did, is an overhanging artifact of the Fox X-Universe and would have soared on Disney +. Instead, the football is being taken away YET. AGAIN.
Oh that Wonder Woman’84 trailer? Released at an online event, because San Diego Comic Con was cancelled due to COVID-19.
If you see irony at the bar, take his keys, yeah? The dude’s had a shitty year.
There’s no hint of a VOD release for any of these just yet although Tenet has a notional bluray release in December. Hopefully the others will follow, but even if they do, the studios behind these movies are doing two awful things, one awful for us, one awful for them. The first is they’re creating a class system which is based on a potentially fatal dare. Do you want to be spoiled on Tenet? Or do you want to maybe get sick for months? Step right up, folks! Christopher Nolan has a show for you and this time he’s remembered to put women in it! That doesn’t just appeal to the sort of macho bullshit that only ever gets louder when people are bored. It preys on human weakness. It’s cruel. We’re all tired. We’re all scared. We all want to go out. The movies are right there.
The second, awful, thing it does? This is capitalism, a system designed to do nothing but perpetuate itself, leaving money on the table. Day-and-date VOD releases, Hell, VOD releases inside two months announced at the same time as the cinema date would clean up. Crucially, it would also send a message that every organization, for all their ‘we’re all in this together’ emails has utterly failed to communicate:
Everyone matters. Everyone gets to go to the movies, even if the movies have to come to them.
But there’s also the doors to the cinema, open when they shouldn’t be, staffed by people who don’t want to be there and aren’t being paid enough, presented as the only option and surely if this horrible trudge around the Sun has taught us anything it’s that there should always be other, safe options. But instead of answering the call to welcome their whole audience, studios are preying on boredom, on the desire to escape for a while. In doing so they’re not just adding a distinctly sour note to movies about heroism, they’re also proving something else. Capitalism doesn’t care about us. So we have to do it ourselves. Look after yourself. And, next year, I’ll see you at the movies.
Many years ago I read a couple of lines in a travel guide that have influenced and inspired much of my writing and photography; the author described how he’d spent two hours just watching a dung beetle doing its work. He wasn’t rushing around visiting attractions or checking out cafes or bars – he’d spotted an insect and become immersed in what it was doing. In doing so he’d pinpointed something I’d always believed, but not consciously acknowledged; that the details, the smallest things, are extraordinary.
We are not usually encouraged to stop – most of us are under pressure to live and work at a speed that doesn’t allow us to notice anything much (it’s notable that lockdown has benefited many who’ve been forced to slow down, to the point where some don’t want to return to ‘normal’). Many times when life has been tough I’ve stopped to watch a bee collecting nectar from, heard its buzz take on a different tone when it’s inside the flower and seen the incredible movement of its wings as it takes flight. How many times does this occur around the world over the course of a day? A mind-boggling amount, but each time it happens it’s remarkable and it gives me some perspective on my insignificant woes. There is magic everywhere – in the natural and the super natural world, but the key to unlocking this is, I think, in the power of imagination, the power of being open to what’s around us. Imagination is another thing that isn’t encouraged. People love the products of imagination – books and films, for instance, are a huge part of our lives – but there can be a contradictory dismissiveness of those who create these things for not doing a ‘proper’ job. The full potential of the world – and us humans – needs more than a scientific, rational eye – although it’s fair to say that the two approaches can overlap at various points.
Trees talk to each other. Plants are connected by underground threads of fungi (mycelium), and share nutrients, or toxins if an unwelcome plant is among them. Grass sends a distress message when cut (that lovely, fresh smell is not as joyful as it seems). Time is a physical thing. I find all of these things mind-blowing. Science has proved their existence but the other worlds around us are tangible to those who can tune into them (voluntarily or not) but are currently unprovable. The story of Hamish Miller is an interesting example: Miller was a businessman until he suffered a near death experience during an operation. It changed him profoundly. He became a dowser, a blacksmith and an author. He’d seen the ‘other side’ and it didn’t scare him; he just realised there was so much more around him than he’d previously believed. When he passed in 2010, he was reportedly happy and completely at peace with what was about to happen. Was his experience real or was it, as has been claimed by science, just an hallucination?
Can a person will something into being? People from every culture claim to have done so for thousands of years. I know people who have cast successful spells, or put a hex on those who’ve hurt them. I believe these things are possible as I’ve seen the results, just as I’ve had so many paranormal experiences that I can’t help but accept them. My fiction has been described as magical realism; that is, magic as part of everyday life. This was never a deliberate plan – my original aim was to write contemporary horror that reflected myself and the worlds I moved in, which I wasn’t seeing in the stories I read (apart from in Clive Barker’s work). But that was thirty years ago and of course other influences and experiences have changed my writing direction and purpose to some extent.
As you can see from this piece, the lines between the wonders of the natural world, actual magic and the paranormal are somewhat blurred for me. I cannot separate them in my worldview so I shaln’t try to do so here.
The new novella from Shona Kinsella is due out in days so we wanted to treat you to the full wrap cover.
Stunning work by Sarah Langton to cover a brilliant novella.
‘In Slyvo, one child in a hundred is born with an affinity: a magical link to an element, able to shape and use it as they choose. If they are lucky they will become a master craftsman, able to command high prices; if they are unlucky, the factories always demand new wielders, kept as slaves and worked to exhaustion.
Talis and Almoris are free wielders, dedicating their lives to helping wielders leave the country for better lives abroad. But not everyone believes in their mission, and not everyone can be trusted – when Almoris takes in a runaway, they find themselves pulled into a mission that puts their lives in danger and threatens both their loyalties and their love.’
ConZealand. the 2020 Hugos and the Past-Present Future. – By Russell A Smith
I got a very last minute membership to ConZealand via an application to the Inclusion Initiative someone kindly mentioned to me existed. That is to say, that as a BIPOC con-goer and fan and writer who would certainly have had a financial barrier to getting to the event otherwise. I was both grateful, and applied to this, because inclusion is often a great barrier prevention conventions etc from being all they might be genuinely being all it could be. Especially this year of Black Lives Matter etc.
Because I ended up joining very late in the day, I missed out on applying to be a part of programming for the most part, but booked a spot on the ConZealand Fringe, Your Fave Is Problematic panel. With the excellent Jeannette Ng , Noria Reads, Shaun Duke and Foz Meadows. While we had enough to get through that the panellists were still chatting a good hour after the item officially finished, we had no idea what was coming next.
A little context first. Last year, Jeannette herself spelled it out here:
And I should add that this was far from the first time the issue was mentioned. However, the award previously named for Campbell’s legacy was renamed the Astounding Award, in an effort to close the tainted chapter of SF history.
Now, it would have been reasonable to have assumed the change would perhaps herald a new era and one whereby the world of fandom might consider moving forwards. Instead, the conversation loudly came back, backwards, on to this business, starting with the 1945 Retro Hugos. It’s fair to say a few eyebrows were raised when H.P. Lovecraft, himself well-known for a damaged legend despite a practically ubiquitous mythos and then John W. Campbell Jr himself, won awards for Best Series and Best Editor, Short Form respectively. The conversation and spotlight were firmly back on an area it seemed fandom wanted to leave in the past.
That this first part grew quiet by the end of the convention was only because an even greater controversy drowned it out. You might wish to see full ceremony for yourselves, though I can’t recommend doing so. But for those of us who were ‘there’, we all saw what we saw. A certain irony has been regularly pointed out that in the home of the epic-length Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy, the awards were like an extended edition in themselves. Of the three and a half hours or so, half of this was the toastmaster, telling many tales about fandom of old. This may not sound too bad on the surface, but a name I’ve already mentioned two times too often in this piece was then lauded by the toastmaster, along with Lovecraft, and Robert Silverberg, himself a target of controversy in recent Worldcon years, got in on the act.
To invoke his name once would be reasonable, if only to remind us that the Award is now Astounding. To do so a couple of times is perhaps forgivable, if only to see the changes through. When it becomes the kind of drinking game whereby were players to take a drink at each mention, they would be paralytic within the first 45 minutes, that has to be considered deliberate. Intentional. If you know full well as the Toastmaster that an award got renamed last year for reasons that have been mentioned for years and then utter the previous name more times in three hours more often than Sean Bean’s Sharpe utters the word, ‘bastard!’ over the entire series run, again, you have to question intent.
And that’s the point which tips this over from a misstep, or a generational communication issue, to a targeted barrage. Intention matters.
Much like the way there are attempts to explain the numerous mispronunciations of names not only of people, but of publications took place. Again, it comes down to intent. It was less a matter of how badly but more the lack of effort. As I watched, and it’s not one of those things I know how to describe easily, I had that same feeling I saw while I was back in school classrooms when a teacher would do that to some of my classmates and somehow happen to be the only person laughing.
Even putting that aside, a host is not there to be the show any more than a DJ at a wedding reception is generally there to give an hour-long speech telling us about that time he did a politician’s birthday party. The disconnect between what was happening between the hosting and the winners was really not a good look.
Now, with all that said, the Hugo Award winners, each and every one of them, gave a range of outstanding speeches, and every single one of them deserves the attention I didn’t get around to giving them here because I’ve been too busy mentioning why we had such a hard time watching the centrepiece of what was otherwise a mostly excellent convention.
Let us leave on the high note of knowing not only were those speeches a triumph of the creators to come in a year of adversity, but also that the technological achievement in bringing this together when at one point it seemed possible we wouldn’t have a Worldcon at all was nothing short of wizardry. Mostly secure programme items had no problems with rooms being too full to enter, no lengthy walks between one item to the next, the ability to rewatch at a more friendly time to your side of the world, bar areas masterfully recreated in Zoom and Discord for a chance to hang out with friends old and new. . .this was quite simply put about as close to actually being there as was possible, right down to the fact that I genuinely need a couple of days to recover afterwards, which is where I shall leave you all.
We know you haven’t heard much from us during lock down. My dayjob has been demanding and everything else has been, well, odd and slow and time has failed to respectfully stop it. Overall though we are doing ok at kettutalo and we are gearing up this years fantastic releases as well as this brilliant call for next spring. We also owe a huge shout out to Jenny Barber who has done a great job with her spotlights on our twitter. – Aunty F
The Fox Spirit Book of… Love
Do you have something to say about love?
Love is patient, love is kind, love is blah blah blah. So many clichés, so little time. Everyone wants to tell you what love is, how we should love, who we should love, how long it lasts, but what does love mean to you? What would you do for love? Is it a moment or a lifetime? Does it make heroes or villains of us? What can it cost? What is done in its name?
Here at Fox Spirit we believe love comes in all shapes, shades, flavours, and sizes and we want to hear about it; This anthology initially called for romantic love, but we recognize this is not everyone’s experience and would also like to include aromantic love. Please note, we do not want stories of familial or parental love, how much we love our pets (we do, but not for this book) or similar. We are looking for stories that carry the spark of love, the feeling that can make life seem worthwhile, that can be as simple as a sprinkle of sugar or that gives us meaning and drives us on even when all hope seems lost.. The ending might be bleak (although we don’t mind a happy ending, not one bit!) but the motive is the key. As much as we enjoy them, we’re not looking for erotic trysts or hefty old clichés (unless you’re spinning them); we want to hear stories about love as a force of nature, whether it be a full-blown storm or a breath of fresh air… or maybe even a fetid stench!
No creepers, no peepers, no inappropriate sleazers, no bigots, and absolutely no bestiality. Consent is sexy AF.
We are a genre anthology – fantasy, horror, science fiction and everything inside and around those. We encourage experimentation, poetry, drabbles, flash, short stories. Whatever. We are setting a word limit of up to 3500 words. Get to the point and make it happen!
We absolutely and actively encourage stories outside heteronormative dogma. Love is love.
So, as the Bard once said, PLAY ON.
Update: We had some requests for clarifications
Reprints – we will consider them but will need to know where and where they were previously published and we are looking for original pieces mainly.
Sexy stuff – It’s not an erotica anthology and that’s not what we want, but sexy stuff that is integral to the telling can be included.
Multiple subs – you can send us more that one story but we will only include one by an author, with a possible exception around drabbles and other very short works.
I would also like to add the anthology editor will be blind reading so the stories come into me (Aunty Fox) and I will be putting clean versions (as in no name etc) into a file for consideration.
The business bit from Aunty Fox:
Accepted stories will get £15 and a print copy of the book (ebooks will also be made available). Exclusivity is 12 months from acceptance, this is so that if for any reason things are delayed you still get your rights back on time.
We won’t be making any decisions until after the closing date of 31st August. Our beloved Rev will then need some time for reading and deciding. Publication will be Spring 2021.
As always Fox Spirit would love to hear from writers of colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, disabled writers, and other under-represented groups.
Submissions to email@example.com as usual and please check our submission guidelines for standard format and file type information.
Well, it looks as though we may mostly be at home for a while. I would imagine even those who normally work from home are going to start to struggle at some point to maintain the same level of productivity. That’s ok, it’s a weird time. We though we would put together a few resources for free and reduced reads. I will continue to add to this post.
Obviously please do look in on what your local and national libraries are doing online.
We have of course Fearless Genre Warriors, our cross anth taster for free on our store.
With the voucher code ‘cabinfever’ you can get 50% off your basket, we are going to update that to run until 1st June.
We also have lots of free fiction to read, some audio stuff and video for you to enjoy any time, including our youtube channel.
Authors & Publishers
Tabatha Wood has made her book free
GM White has dropped his price to 99p/c
Joyce Chng is offering Xiao Xiao for MG and Teens free along with other work at really low prices
Adrian Tchaikovsky has put a collection on GDrive for anyone to enjoy
Kate Laity has a ton of stuff free on her site as always
Adding Jo M Thomas has lots of free stuff on her website
Loads of free web comics to enjoy from Things Without
Margret Helgadottir has a number of stories free on her site
Bad Dog Books have added titles to their sale section
Farenheit Press are offering a free book a day to get you through
Sinister Horror Company have free content on their site and are reducing all their ebooks to 99p/c.
Bookstores If you want books, we recommend supporting indies who will post them out to you.
I have a book in my comiXology wishlist. It’s the first She-Ra graphic novel. Looks great, I love the show and this fits an extra piece of canon in there. I have a comics budget and I couldn’t quite stretch to the 8.99 it costs. I put it on my wish list and figured I’d come back later.
On Wednesday the book was 8.99.
Today it’s 12.99.
With no warning or announcement, Comixology have rolled out a 66% price hike in the UK and Europe wide. The assumption is that this is to begin to recoup the amount they’ve lost subsidizing the industry over the last few years. The assumption is that this is yet another way that Brexit the eternal foot-to-own-bollocks of the UK has found another way to make this island smaller, more expensive and less joyful. The assumption is that this is just the way of late stage capitalism and we should all just shrug, accept it and move on.
That’ll probably happen. The fact the comics press have rolled out one whole article about it certainly seems to suggest it’s less important than the Black Cat’s new armour or the persistent rum ours that DC are about to retire every single one of their lead characters and replace them. Got to get the clicks, right?
That doesn’t just correct the subsidies talked about in the Bleeding Cool article. That’s a 1:1 parity. Here’s how BC breaks it down:
(A quick aside: Hate on them all you want but they are the only site that bothered to report on this.)
That, by itself, is bad. But the manner in which this has been rolled out is bluntly offensive. There’s been no warning, no statement, no explanation beyond a bland ‘We take lots of factors into account’. Just an eyeblink and suddenly the money that got me 4 comics last week gets me 2 this week.
I’m a comics reader. I’ve worked in marketing. I’ve done my time in customer care. This is genuinely one of the absolute worst ways to deal with customer relations I’ve ever seen. At best, it presents as cowardly. Hiding from the audience you know is furious and hoping none of them will notice. At worst? It’s arrogant. The same people who paid £4 last week can pay £6 this week.
So far, that second response seems to be the one they’re getting. As part of the Amazon mitochondrial network. Comixology is simultaneously super available and remarkably difficult to talk to. Tweets and DMs (polite ones, you know me) go unanswered. There’s no press release. No statement. But there is a message. Whether it’s one Comixology wants to send isn’t for me to say. But by not saying anything, they’re saying this loud and clear.
You’re not a big enough market to care about.
Because it’s not just this multi-currency price hike. Comixology run a service called Unlimited which is, in essence, a fire hose. You pay a flat fee a month and can access tens of thousands of books. It’s brilliant the sort of library you can lose yourself in for months.
It’s not available in the UK. And as of one day ago, the same account that won’t answer questions about this was responding to queries about that with bland ‘no plans at this time but thanks for your interest!’ tweets.
So, to be clear, the week is closing with digital comics now more expensive to lease than physical comics are to buy, with no explanation or warning in a country where Unlimited isn’t available and exactly one article has been written about it.
In the dictionary under slow clap, there’s a picture of this.
I want to say this may help retailers, and it might. But retailers are hurting worse than this particular arm of the Amazon Mechalith ever could. Multiple stores are cutting their shelf copies to the bone and because the reordering system in comics is a joke told by a shrieking god to a sleeping giant in a rainstorm, there’s no certainty anything you want will actually be in print. And now, if you want to lease it digitally, it costs more than the physical copy you may not be able to get.
I used to work in this industry. I don’t miss it. But God does it make me sad on days like this.
This is going to hurt everything and everyone. Customers have seen their budgets cut in half, smaller titles that could find homes online will now continually lose out to the big names, retailers will be under more pressure, companies will get risk averse. This will shrink the industry. Demonstrably hurt it. And the only outcome that suggests it might not? Is one where we all shrug, accept that we really do live inside a commerce system that’s dead but somehow still moving and start saving up for the next issue of our favorite title. But hey maybe it’s one our local retailer has risked a measurable percentage of their own profit margin to buy a shelf copy of. Living the DREAM.
So what do we take home from this? Two things:
-Pre order titles you want. Yes I know it means you basically have to be psychic. I’m sorry. This system is broken and shouldn’t have lasted this long yet here we are.
-Choose between what comforts you and what excites you. And get ready for it to be a very tough choice.
I first came across Cate’s work as a BFS judge reading The Theatre of Curious Acts. It was dark, visceral horror that still creeps into my head from time to time and gives me shudders. When the opportunity came up to work with Cate I was delighted and this collection is a pure joy.
A collection by Cate Gardner
Cover by Daniele Serra
A Punch and Judy escape from a hell of discarded body parts and captive puppets.
A girl escapes her birdcage through a mirror where a Perfume Thief lies waiting.
A boy with a lost heart, a girl with a stopped heart, and Ghoate, the man who collects hearts.
THIS FOOLISH & HARMFUL DELIGHT
A BLEEDING OF INK
WHEN THE MOON MAN KNOCKS
THE DEATH MOTH’S WEIGHTED WINGS
FOR THOSE WHO DANCE BY ROPE OR DREAM
IN THE BROKEN BIRDCAGE OF KATHLEEN FAIR
BARBED WIRE HEARTS
Stijn understood how a man could be alone when surrounded
by others. He sat on a swell of limbs, torsos and dentures, his
sausage-like fingers attempting to attach a knee to a thigh. A
long shadow stretched from the entranceway of the cavern,
lengthened by the orange flames that spat from the impossibly
high walls. Stijn buried his head in his work. If only one
of the disembodied heads would talk to him, would wink and
acknowledge he existed. He knew it was in his fingers to resurrect
them. If they were many, perhaps they could bust their
way out of Hell or at least tear apart his tormentors–Judy and
At the entrance to the cavern, Judy bent to scratch the
stubble that peppered her shins. The sound echoed, reverberating
around the damp walls and spiralling up to god knew
where. Stijn leaned back. Sometimes he thought he saw a
wink of blue sky or a sliver of moonlight. Sometimes he knew
he was going mad. There was no escape from here. No matter
how high the bodies piled-up, he’d never reach the top and
if he did the top would prove feet of thick rock, impenetrable.
Pneumatic drills never landed in Hell. Plus, there was no
electricity supply. Eventually, he would sink to the bottom of
the pile of limbs, torsos and heads. Be buried amongst the
stink and the rot.
Not content with scratching her shins, Judy set to work
on scratching her head. She shook her long, red curls releasing
fingers and toes and bits of ears that had become trapped
within her hair. The falling weight of digits caused a seismic
wave to ripple through the mass of bodies. It unsteadied
Stijn’s balance. He slipped towards the stream of blood that
drained through grate and sewer pipe to the River Styx.
Although Stijn hadn’t seen the Styx, he’d heard it wash
against the cavern walls and he’d heard the cries of those who
drowned within its current. Stijn clung to the nearest torso,
its breasts ravaged by rot. He should drop into the stream and
allow it to carry him to the Styx; at least he’d find company
amongst the tormented.