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When the Chains Snap (Short Story)

When the Chains Snap

Amanda Leanne (2017)

Found in Shadows Through the Fog

The porcelain tile was ice under her feet. The plastic toilet seat was almost as cold as she felt it through the thin fabric of the threadbare nightgown. Fake silk, itchy lace, and straps a light yank away from completely ripping. She should have left the light off, but then he would have come to see what she was doing. With it on, he could assume she was using the bathroom. If it took a bit, maybe he would think she was going number two and he would be even more reluctant to walk in. She hoped. She wished. If she was religious, she would have prayed.

Her elbows rested in her palms, arms crossed over her chest. Goosebumps had broken out across her skin, giving it a grainy feel. Her hair hung in front of her face, blurry clumps of brown beyond her tear filled eyes. Her teeth bit into her lip, as she choked back the sobs. Another wave of shivers raced down her neck and the length of her spine. Her eyes would be red, puffy, bloodshot. He would know she had been crying. If he didn’t walk in and witness it himself, that is.

In the distance, beyond the closed door and down the hall, the muffled giggles of the toddler. The deep baritone of her husband’s voice seemed to vibrate through the walls. The giggles increased, changed and morphed into squeals of laughter. As comforting as the sound should have been, a new wave of despair crashed over her. She shoved her fist into her mouth, biting down on her knuckles as her body jerked with the near soundless sobs. The ground rumbled as her husband roared in laughter. A growl bubbled in her throat, thick and viscous as it maneuvered through the sobs and into her throat.

She began rocking, back and forth, the pain in her bones and muscles and blood sizzled through her body. The tiles melted under her feet, the walls began to crumble. Her eyes focused on the mirror, the reflection of the framed cheap flower painting taking center stage. The gaudy gold trim and contrasting jewel and pastel tones swirled into themselves, spinning into a puddle reminiscent of vomit. The puddle didn’t drip, it clung to the ugly peach paint. The mirror began to warp and buckle, distorting the image further. The sharp corners, dull and spotted from age, began to curl in under the invisible flames of the room. The paint on the walls began to bubble, darkness creeping in as the heat burned through.

Darkness. She squeezed her eyes shut, embracing the black behind her lids. The static roar of the fire died down, faded. Sucking in her breath, she slowly opened one eye, and saw the hideous painting was whole and still hanging above the toilet, behind her on the wall. The mirror was flat and still, and the walls were not burning. The tiles were no longer cold, but not hot either. Her body heat had warmed them under her unmoving feet.

As she pulled her fist away from her mouth, she saw trails of red where her teeth had broken the skin. Her body shook as she pulled in one ragged breath after another. The room felt small, the walls were too close. She barely had time to stand, spin around and open the lid of the toilet as she fell to her knees, heaving what little she had eaten into the clean, white bowl. Her chest ached and her stomach cramped as her body convulsed, emptying her stomach completely. She almost feared feeling her insides being shoved up and out as the dry heaves finally began to taper off.

Her sweaty head dropped onto the cool plastic of the seat. She took some comfort in knowing she had cleaned the toilet only a few hours earlier. The world faded into grays and back to jarring color as a sharp pain started behind her eyes. Her ears rang and buzzed. She braced herself on the flimsy seat, trying to keep from falling over onto the floor, although that had been cleaned as well. Cleanliness didn’t make the tile much softer for her head if she did fall, though.

Exhaustion poured through her. She wondered if she would be able to stand. Her legs felt like warm jelly. Muffled footsteps came from the distance, getting louder as they approached the bathroom. Her eyes darted to the crack under the door. The bedroom was dark, so she couldn’t see his shadow. He was standing there, she knew he was. He was listening, waiting to hear the sounds of splashes from the toilet or the spray of a shower head.

“Jennifer?” The knob wiggled as he attempted to open the door. “Jennifer, are you okay?”

Her throat was sore, dry and burning. She tried swallowing the acrid taste that enveloped her tongue.

“Jennifer!” The knob jiggled ferociously, the door vibrated as his fist banged into the hollow wood.

“I…” she coughed, wincing in pain, “I’ll be out in a minute.”

“Are you okay?” He was trying to sound concerned. He wanted her to open the door.

“Yeah, um,” coughing, she tried to clear the hoarseness from her voice, “I must have eaten something that didn’t sit well.”

“At dinner? Jack and I had the same thing you did. Are you sure?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s a bug or something. I’m fine, I’ll be out in a minute.” Her words were rushed, almost frantic.

“Okay. I’m gonna lay Jack down for the night. I’ll come check on you when I’m done. You want some water or something?” He was convinced. He was suspicious.

“No.” Her voice broke slightly. He was still standing there, waiting.

After a moment, the thumps of him heading away from the bathroom gave her a sigh of relief. Reaching up with her leaden arm, she pushed down on the chrome handle, ignoring the tiny flecks of icy water and vomit that misted from below her. She turned over, on her hands and knees, and crawled the short distance to the sink, grabbing the edge of the Formica counter to pull herself up. She stared at her reflection. Her eyes were wild, red rimmed and glassy. Turning on the faucet, she scooped cold water into her hand and splashed it into her mouth. Swishing and spitting she repeated a few times before leaning over, bending at a painful angle, and gulped the cool liquid down her burning throat.

The freshly laundered blue rag was soaked through and then rubbed vigorously on her face. Strength was easing back into her muscles, her legs still weak but no longer rubbery. She ringed out the rag and draped it over the front of the sink. Looking into her own eyes, she took deep breaths in, slowly releasing and then back in again. Pulling in the calm, is how she pictured it. She ignored the flames flickering at the bottom of the mirror. She refused to look at the painting as it began to blur. Deep breaths.


She jumped. She hadn’t heard him coming back. He could be like that, when he wanted too. Stealthy and sneaky. Her eyes darted to the dark green shower curtain. Something moved behind it. Her mouth tightened as she frowned, watching carefully for the next flicker. There it was, a ripple from the back. It wasn’t enough to rattle the hooks hanging on the rod above, subtle but she saw it.

“Jennifer? You’re kinda of worrying me. Unlock the door.”

Her eyes narrowed as she stared at the sheet of plastic, the shadowy dips between the waves as it fluttered again.

“Goddamnit Jennifer!” He wasn’t yelling, but he was angry. His voice low and deep, growling at her. “I will break the damn door down.”

“I’m fine. I’ll be out shortly.”

“What the hell?” The knob jerked and jiggled, the door vibrating as he banged against it.

“Please, please just go away. I’m a mess. I’ll be out in a minute.”

“Jennifer, what is going on?” The sound of his fist hitting the door caused her to jump back.

“Please!” Her voice came out a hoarse yell, not quite a scream. “Go away!”

The walls bubbled as if they had liquefied. The mirror softly creaked as hairline cracks began racing across its surface. The tiles wobbled in loose grout.

Her sobs came out loud and thick as she hugged herself, sinking down to the floor. The ceiling bowed above her as if she was the source of gravity. The shower curtain shook and jerked on the plastic rings. Once again she shoved a raw fist into her mouth, biting down on the knuckles and sending a trickle of coppery flavor into her gasping mouth.

The door exploded inwards, the toddler cried from his room, and her husband stood above her, his breath heaving in and out as he stared at her. His eyes were unnaturally wide, seeming to get bigger the longer she watched. His teeth elongated, poking out of his parted lips as yellow stained spears. The hair on his body was thick, disgustingly so. His hands gnarled claws.

“Jeeennnnifeerrr!” His mouth opened to reveal the full rows of shark-like teeth as he roared her name.

She screamed into her fist, her body shaking uncontrollably, tears streamed down her face in torrents blurring the room around her as it continued to deteriorate. They would both die if it kept going.

His words garbled into unintelligible growls and snarls. She pulled herself backward, the knobs of the cabinet poking painfully into her spine. She dropped her hands to her side to push against the floor, wanting to push straight through the thin wooden doors, into the cabinet, through the wall, out into the world and away from the hell that was encapsulating her.

His hands came up, reaching for her as he came closer. The bloody cloven hooves cracking the tiles with each step. Jennifer continued to scream as the world pulsed in and out, the colors getting brighter and dimmer as it all swam together. And then finally, the black rolled in and coated her vision, muffled her ears, and pulled her away from the demon.

Before his hands could grab her shoulders, she seized up, her body jerking hard twice, and then collapsed onto her side. He screamed her name as he fell to her knees, pulling her into his lap as he tried to feel for her pulse. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his cell phone and called an ambulance.

He couldn’t find a pulse. He didn’t think she was breathing. He didn’t know what happened. She seemed really scared and was screaming, biting on her hand and crying and then the collapse.

The ambulance was on its way.

Her face was sodden, mouth matching her fist in a mix of saliva and blood, snot from her nose and tears from her eyes blended with the film sheen of sweat covering her skin. He was baffled, confused, and frightened. The operator was trying to tell him how to do CPR, but he couldn’t get the image of her staring at him like he was a stranger, like he was going to hurt her, out of his head.

The ambulance came. They used the emergency access code to enter the locked door. A large man in the police uniform pulled him back as two blue clad medics began working on his wife. He saw the brief glance they shared, the tightening of the mouths. She was dead.

“What happened?” He barely recognized his own voice.

“Sir, we would like you to tell us.” Officer Mark Gallows, or so his name tag stated, looked straight into his eyes. “Perhaps we could attend to your child while I get a statement from you?”

He led the officer out of the bedroom and across the hall. The toddler was standing in his crib, grabbing the rails in his tiny fists as he hiccuped through tears. Reaching down, he picked up his son and hugged him close. The world seemed so small and empty.

“How about we go into the kitchen?”

He nodded and followed the officer out and down to the white tiled room. He automatically went to work making a warm bottle for the baby as the officer took a seat at the bar.

“So what happened tonight?”

“I’m not really sure. She was in the bathroom for awhile and I went to check on her. She sounded off but said she was just feeling sick and maybe it was something she ate. We all ate the same thing though. After a bit longer, I was starting to get worried and tried to check on her again. She kept wanting me to go away and was crying and even screaming sometimes. The door was locked and she wouldn’t open it. I started to get really scared and as she got more frantic I panicked and kicked the door in. And….and she just stared at me in horror. She was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. Then she went all rigid and sort of fell over and I called 911.”

“Is there any history of domestic abuse?”

“What?! No. Never.” His look of shock seemed convincing to the officer, who nodded and moved on.

“What about psychological issues with Jennifer? She have depression or psychotic episodes?”

“No. Nothing like that. She’s been so happy since the baby came along. She’s writing a book and loves staying home with him. She’s always smiling and seemed to be glowing. If there was, she hid it so well.” He shook his head, staring at the little boy in his arms. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks.

Officer Gallows watched the man. He used his wife’s name in the present tense, suggesting he hadn’t processed her death and making it less likely he was responsible. He was concerned the man was going into shock. Turning to the side, he radioed for a second medical team. If anything, the man and baby should be checked to make sure it wasn’t something environmental.

“Is there anyone I can call for you, sir?” Officer Gallows glanced at the man who had stopped rocking his son back and forth and stood staring at the little boy.

“Sir? Are you okay?” The officer stood and walked around the bar, his hands poised to grab the baby out of the man’s arms if something suddenly happened.

Commotion from the hall caused the officer to turn and watch as the medics rolled the covered body toward the front door. When he turned back around, the kitchen was empty.

“Officer Gallows. Dispatch confirming need of a secondary medic vehicle. Is there information on the patients?”

“Um,” He turned a circle in the room and stepped back toward the hall, the acrid odor that had struck him when he came in was stronger. “The patients husband and child.”

“Repeat that please.”

“The husband and child of the original patient. Just for a check-up and to watch the husband for potential shock.”

“Sir, I believe you may be mistaken.”

Officer Gallows walked back down the hall. For the first time, he noticed the soot stains on the ceiling. The smell of burned garbage and wet charcoal grew stronger.

“The patient is in route to the hospital. It’s suggested you and whoever is remaining at the scene exit the building due to structural compromise from last weeks fire damage.”

His mouth dropped open as he stared into the baby’s room. The paint on the walls was bubbled and black, the floor and ceilings were black. The crib was but a skeleton of ebony. The smell of the burned debris was nearly unbearable.

Officer Gallows spun on his heels and went into the master bedroom. The room was a mess. Items of clothing were everywhere. Minor fire damage around the door frame was nothing compared to the water damage from the fire hoses. The bathroom was a mess. Everything charred, burnt, broken and destroyed.

Back in the hall, he walked down the blackened carpets, glancing into the shell of a kitchen. Absently he rubbed the butt of his pants, not surprised to see the smears of ash when he looked at his hand. The wall behind the stove, the wall that was shared with the nursery, was open, with the blackened studs the only barrier.

“What happened to the husband and child?” Gallows spoke into his radio, his voice wavering.

“The died in a fire last week. It’s believed the patient may have had some involvement. She’s been missing since then.”

Walking blindly, Officer Gallows exited the house. He refused to look back as he walked to his car. Once inside, he pulled out his cell phone and looked up the address. A picture of the man and the toddler was shown with an article about the fire and their deaths. It was believed the woman had looped the gas lines from the stove back into the wall and ignited the fuel. She hadn’t let the fumes build up enough or the house would have been in much worse condition.

Looking into the police report, he discovered the man had still been alive, breathing in the black smoke as the fire burned him and the child. The window’s electronic fail safe had been turned off and the bedroom door locked. Marks on the other side of the door suggested the man had tried to kick it down. Jennifer Copen was consider a dangerous psychiatric patient who had left the hospital against doctor’s orders after her husband admitted her with postpartum depression. There was a warrant for her arrest in connection with the fire.

Officer Matthew Gallows stared at the phone in his hands a while before finally lifting his head to look at the house. A man holding a child waved at him from the door. They were barely recognizable. The skin was black in the places it still hung onto the bones. Their eyes seemed too big and bright. Teeth poked out of the shriveled mouths as they stretched into grotesque grins. The man held up his hand, bones poking out a vibrant white against the charred flesh as he gave a salute.

The officer slowly raised his hand in return. He pushed the button to begin the ignition sequence on the car. He entered the address for the nearest mental health check-up clinic and laid back as the car began its short journey. He wasn’t sure if he even dared to close his eyes.


White Neurosis (Horror Short)

This short story was written based on the writing prompt: A wintry scene and interpretation of the song “Reach” by Neurosis.

We didn’t watch. The explosion ripped through the night behind our backs and we kept walking. Not because we were badasses. No, definitely not that. In fact, we felt the opposite of that, the very black to that white. It wasn’t the first, nor the last, and the screams that still echoed over the raging flames was enough. We didn’t need to watch. I don’t think we could stomach to witness any more of the destruction our path had wrought.

Her hand felt so small, so fragile, in mine. The frozen blood and dirt that crusted our gloves was ground between our clasped palms. Death had, actually, not done us part, as the old saying went. Marriage between two souls sometimes went beyond petty normalcies, especially when the world was far from normal. Even more so when you see the world as it really is. When the veil falls, the gauzy screen is cleared away, and you see the truth of what is going on around you, around everyone. Humans didn’t rule the planet anymore. I don’t know if they had slipped to second place in the past month or year or what, but I knew we were quickly fading. She knew it too. She could see, as I did, that something else was perched, crouched, on the top of the food chain, annihilating its way down.

She was trembling. I couldn’t see her face in the night sky, not well. The half moon placed it in such heavy shadows under the hood of her sweatshirt, but I saw the sparkle and reflections of tears freezing on her cheeks and puffs of white as she tried to control her breathing. She wasn’t meant for this. Part of me felt guilty but a sliver was happy I could still protect her. She was all I had left to protect. If not for me, if not for us, one or both of us would have become one of them. Or we would be dead. Like our children. We didn’t do that. We couldn’t have. If they hadn’t had killed them, trying to kill us, we would have probably succumbed as the majority of the world had. The world failed them. We failed them. We should have never had children. But we hadn’t known. We couldn’t see them. Not then, not yet.

“There’s…” I coughed, partly to clear the smoke from my throat but I knew I was having my own emotional turmoils. Not crying. Not really. “There’s a, um, roadside inn not too far from here. Remember? The one we saw a few days ago?”

“Yes.” Barely a whisper.

“Maybe it’ll be okay. So far away from everyone else, you know?”

“Hopefully. But they might’ve seen the news, the lies they are telling about us.”

“Yeah, maybe. We’ll see.”

“Will we have to kill them too? If they aren’t one of them, but they recognize us?”

“I don’t know.”

And back to the sounds of tired feet scuffing across the snow, ragged backpacks thumping with each step, and labored breathing. A sniffle. A cough. No words. The air was getting so much harder to breathe in. I couldn’t quite make them out, but the massive silhouettes of the mountains were growing in the distance. Our destination was in those. We hoped. We didn’t know, not for sure, but that was what the message had said. There was no way to check anymore, see if it had been updated or some status like ffs, total clickbait, fake news, not safe at all posted in the comments. Nope. None of that.

Cell phones had been the secondary heart of the human race, but with the dwindling of the species, elimination of the devices was the quickest way to cut off all communication, rebellion, hope… anything. It was smart of them. I think it was how they got through to so many in the first place. But it was also how it alerted some of us. How we found out that something wasn’t right. The “conspiracy theorist crazies” had found something. It all started with a damn filter for social media. A quick way to stylishly alter an image. It was supposed to remove “unnatural lighting” from a picture, giving a very realistic image, like super HD or something. Instead, it removed the facade they wore. And then we saw them.

It sounds stupid. I almost want to laugh but I feel her hand, occasionally squeezing mine, and I know there is nothing to laugh about anymore. Nothing to find humor in. Not when the white, wormy looking things stared at you with their pus-colored eyes, reached for you with their tentacle-like arms. Their mouth was but a tube, a proboscis if school-age science memories are accurate. At least that is what I think they looked like. I can’t be sure, thinking back. They wear the people. Somehow. Or maybe they wear something that looks like the people but isn’t completely real. Maybe they aren’t real. Maybe we killed the kids. Did we kill the kids?

“What?” Her voice had moved up an octave. I spoke out loud. I had been doing that a lot lately. Shit.

“I’m tired.”

“Don’t….do not say that. Do not ever say that.” She stopped, stock still, yanking my arm to make me face her. “They did that. We saw them do that. We didn’t have the guns and explosives then. They made them….nothing. They took them and they were just gone! We did not do that!”

“I know, I know, I’m just…I can’t keep shit straight in my head, you know? Like, I don’t remember what they look like or how the kids….It’s getting dark and fuzzy and I can’t remember.”

“They look like snakes. Black and slimy and their eyes are red and evil. Their tongues lashing out of those damn, nasty ass teeth!”

I didn’t know how to respond to her. That wasn’t what I had seen. I didn’t think so.

“Are you sure?”

“What? Yes….maybe, I don’t know!”

She was definitely crying now. Hard.

“Okay, okay.” I pulled her close, sliding my hands around her jacket-layered waist and under the backpack. We had lost so much weight. When had we eaten? “Okay, let’s trying to get to the inn, get some sleep and maybe a shower. We need that.”

I felt her head bob against my chest. Reluctantly, I let her go and we continued on. No more words, again, and I tried to keep my head quite too. Didn’t need any more of that either. The sign for the hotel was dim under the snow but stood vigilant over the small building. Max of ten rooms and barely far enough away from the road for someone to park. Not that anyone would anymore. Unless it was them, though. A bunch of them could load up on a school bus or something and ride around sucking all the people out of themselves so they could plop another one inside what was left. That was a possibility.

“Something doesn’t seem right.” Her whispers sent a chill down my spine, it was as if she was hissing.

“Nothing’s right…” I turned my head slightly, trying to see into her hood from my peripheral.

I thought the light from the motel was reflecting off her skin, or scales, or something. Was I losing it or had I lost her? Either way, we were close to being screwed.

“What?” Her head flicked around, vertical slits shining as they watched me.

I shook my head, afraid to open my mouth. I shook off her hand and hurried up to the glass doors. Before my hand touched the handle, I saw them. Four of them standing around the front desk, staring at the television. A fat slug with beady black eyes was squeezed into a black suit. I didn’t see a mouth, but the captioning at the bottom did well to tell me what was going on a second before our images were on the screen. And then they started turning.

“Run, there here!” I grabbed her hand, glad the gloves prevented me from feeling any scales and pulled her behind me.

We circled around the motel and to the wide expanse of snow behind. But why was I seeing her as she saw them? That had to mean it was in my head, that she was safe. Maybe. I didn’t know how it worked. She saw them differently then I did. There was no manual for when the shit hit the fan. I mean, there was, but not like this. People are Slug-men Out to Kill You and How to Hunt with a Cellphone and Starbucks Straw……yeah. No.

We ran, stumbling in the snow, pulling each other up, pushing forward, our faces hurt, our muscles burned, and the icy mountain in the distance seemed no closer. If the world snapped back to how it had been, we would be able to join the Olympics. Free Runners, solid golds with a training regime of running for their lives all the goddamn time.

The sound from behind us was a massive tsunami of terror shoving us up the mountainside. High pitched screeching with the roar that shook the ground around us. The ground slowly sloped upward and the tremors began shaking the powdery snow.

“Oh shit!” My eyes had bounced up enough to see a side of the mountain sheer off and come blasting down the side.

Trees and rocks began to join the momentum. I pulled her to the right and tried running parallel to the mountaintop, knowing it was a useless endeavor. Within moments, we would be buried under the very sanctuary we were seeking. And they were still coming, unaware or unconcerned about the massive avalanche they were causing. Maybe that was the point. Bury us and be done.

I turned back to look at her, to make sure she was still attached to the hand I held. Our eyes met and she screamed, jerking away from me and falling backward. I slid to a stop, ignoring the chunks of snow and ice falling around my boots as I looked into her terrified face.

“Oh no, no no no no….” Her serpentine head swung wildly from side to side, “They got you. When did they get you?”

“What do you see?”

“You’re not like the others. You look like a night crawler, white and….oh god! How are you talking? Where’s your mouth?”

“Shhh, you look the way you told me they looked. Not like how I see them, but how you see them. I saw it before the motel. And now you see me the way I see them. I don’t think it’s real. I think it’s in our heads.”

“Then make it stop!” Her words echoed a moment and then were muffled as the sliding debris hit us.

We slid down, somehow afloat on the mass, but having to dodge each yank and pull from that which wished to take us under and devour us. I didn’t know where they were. I didn’t care. I tried to hold onto her, but both of us struggled to touch the other. What if we were changed? Maybe they looked different than we were seeing but some hive mind was contorting it all. We all saw what we wanted to see, as we had for ages.

The pain faded as the cold sucked everything from me. Exposed skin went from fiery burning to numb. A dull pain, like a severe headache, throbbed in my bones. I think she was gone. I couldn’t hear or feel her. My arms waved wildly as I tried to stay above the massive landslide. We had been so close to the edge of it, so close to being precariously safe.

And then it stopped. The motel a few yards in front of me. I realized the mountain had been closer than we thought, or we had traveled further, or nothing was as it seemed at all. She was close by. Her face as it was before but more pale and hollow. Her eyes blinked rapidly as her mouth gaped.

“Oh god, are you okay?”

I fell down on my knees and began digging and tugging, trying to get her out of the snow. I needed to make sure she was whole, she was okay. She was all I had left. I leaned over her and saw her neck was steaming, the red pool growing around the gash under her chin.

“No! No!” I didn’t know what to do.

Her eyes found mine, and they were still yellow with the black gash down the center. The eyes of a serpent. I leaned over and pressed my lips to her, the tears freezing on my eyelashes. She tried moving, but gave up, gasping and gurgling. And then I glanced behind and saw them, so close. Within moments, they would be on us. And I would be gone too.

“Not like this.”

There was no use in stopping the blood or comforting her. She was fading. But I wasn’t going to let her go alone. We made it this far together, we would continue on in the afterlife.

I ripped off my backpack, surprised it had stayed on with the straps frayed and tearing at every seam. Inside was more explosives and a few flares. I snatched up the flare, dumped the sticks of dynamite over her and leaned down for a final kiss. I saw their shadows falling over us as I ignited the flare, the phosphorescent light bursting a second before the world blinked white and then nothing.

The Dragon Riddler (A Dark Fantasy Short)

I have a treat for you guys! This is a short story I wrote back in the late 90’s when I was first taking a creative writing course. The style and flow is a bit dated, but it is a fond memory for me. This was when I first began to seriously contemplate writing stories and books for other people to read, to actually be an author. Over two decades later and my dreams are starting to come true!

Image from Pixaby user Chewie2012


“Tell me this, I do declare, what is dark as night and white as the moon so fair? For it to live, you must die, and yet if you die it could not live. Yet dead it is as it walks alive.”

Fiera grinned as the villager’s face contorted in thought. Creatures of mystic powers were her specialty in these riddles. For, though the villagers told many tales of the workings and evils of different beings, they tended to forget about their own stories in the face of a dragon as dark as those very same creatures.

“Um….,” a line of dark liquid slid down the inner pants leg of the thin little man. His hands wrung with anxiety and his dark eyes squinted in expectation, “a…..a…..flea?”

Fiera roared in laughter before slamming her jaws around the helpless victim. One large gulp and he was gone. Humming to herself she smiled as her inner flames incinerated the dinner as it went to her belly.

“A vampire, you silly human. The very story you told to your children last night to keep them from causing mischief in the graveyards.” Shaking her magnificent head she slid back to the ground to nap for the remainder of the day.

Giant ebony plates, shining like wet glass, graced her long curved body. Her massive head, always held high, was topped by large white spikes sharp as swords. Eyes of emerald gems glared above her flaring nostrils. Her tail, also spiked, swished slowly knocking down brush and killing any small creatures that fell in its path.

Settling down on the forest floor, Fiera looked out at the small village of Fralthal, a town whose population was greatly affected by her large appetite. Fiera, though, was not a brainless killer. Her riddles gave the poor villagers a chance to keep their lives if only they answered them correctly. Only the bravest tried leaving through the only path to Sherdio, the very path that Fiera resided on. They could easily try the old thick forests surrounding their village, but then again, coyotes and bears did not give them chances to answer riddles before they killed, and many of them paced the perimeter of the town ready for their own chances at a good meal.

As evening came, Fiera was disturbed by an approaching life form. Slowly she sat up and looked around until she spotted the intruder. A cat, one of the largest she had ever seen, sat on the road blending in with surrounding night. His black coat was long and fluffy and well taken care of.

“Well, seems I will be having kitty for dessert?” Fiera crouched down and cleared her voice dramatically, “UMM UMM! Let’s see, ok, I will give you a simple one. Golden treasures I contain, guarded by hundreds and thousands. Stored in a labyrinth where no man walks, yet men come often to seize my gold. By smoke I am overcome and robbed, then left to build my treasure anew.”

“Well,” the black cat stretched lazily before staring back at the astounded dragon, “I believe you are referring to a beehive. Sorry to deprive you of your dessert.”

The cat turned its tail and continued down the path past the dragon. The dragon stared incredulously. Never had anyone answered her riddles so fast and not in many years had anyone been correct. Intrigued by this new found animal’s knowledge, Fiera thought up some of her hardest riddles for the next victim, who did suffice as a tasty dessert.

As dawn rose up and painted the morning sky, the fog that covered the forest floor slowly drifted away. Fiera’s eyes stayed alert for any who thought themselves cunning enough to sneak past her in this dense cover. She could see right through, and saw no one was willing to try her this morning. As her day continued on in the usual manner, she felt a surge of excitement as a long fluffy tail twitched back forth in the air. Slowly the cat from the previous evening appeared once more. Fiera could not help but shake in excitement, hoping the cat would once again answer her riddle.

“Good morning, giant reptilian guard of my village. You do seem a little more interested in me today,” The cat sat promptly in front of Fiera, its dark tail curling around its feet as it looked about lazily, “What have you to ask me this morning?”

“Ah, yes, hmmm,” Fiera tried to look deep thought as she rehearsed her riddle before speaking to the cat, “We are four brothers in this world and we’re born together. The first one runs and never wearies. The second eats and is never full. The third drinks and is ever thirsty. The fourth sings a song that is barely heard.”

The cat purred and lay down slowly. Stretching his claws before him he yawned and then returned to a curled ball of fluff at the dragon’s feet.

“My dear creature of the path, you are speaking of the sons of nature. There is water, fire, earth, and wind. I feel in need of a bit of a nap. Mind me not for a bit, just please do not step on my tail.”

Fiera stared at the cat in astonishment as it curled at her feet and fell asleep. Smiling a bit, if a dragon could smile physically that is, she nestled down near her new friend and thought to herself that for the first time in hundreds of years, she did not feel alone. For a dragon, this is a bit of an embarrassing thought, but as old as Fiera was it was one in which she often found herself saddened about.

Fiera drifted into her usual light sleep and soon felt the presence of the cat leave her. Though it did make her a bit sad, she felt sure that the cat was as intrigued with her as she was with him. A bond may have been formed and her happiness caused her to let one of the villagers go on a poor guess on an easy riddle. She was surprised at her first act of leniency in years. In fact, she believed she may have never been easy on anyone. Years ago, when children still listened to the stories of the wise men, they knew many of the riddles and answered plenty to allow them safe passage. Now no one cared for old stories, and oh how it did make them easy meals.

A few more days went by with the standard occasional not-so-brave man trying his luck. None succeeded, and Fiera was well fed. She began to get a little agitated and wondered if that cat had not been as fond of her as she had thought. This began to nag at her until an evening came when the notable fluffy standard was waving in the air over a small hill in the road. Fiera shivered and turned toward the approaching feline.

“Well, I was beginning to wonder if you were going to visit anymore.” Fiera sighed slightly as all women sometimes do to show they have been disappointed, “Are you ready for a riddle?”

“Why not? I have no plans for this evening so I suppose I could spare a bit of time for you. I must ask though, would you not like for me to ask one of you?” The cat sat in its usual position, and cocked its head to one side at the mighty dragon.

“Well, hmm, I have never been offered such a chance. I must warn you I have centuries of knowledge of riddles, so you may be in a bit of a spot trying to find one that I have not heard.”

“Ok then, how about a play on words and their meanings, a slight tale with an odd answer?”

“I will do my best to sound as if I did not have to think on it, but give me this tale,” Fiera felt the excitement build at the small conversation that had transgressed.

“John gave his brother, James, a box, about it were many locks. James woke and said it gave him a pain, so gave it back to John again. The box was not with lid supplied, yet caused the lids to open wide. And all these locks had never a key, What kind of box, then, could it be?” The cat licked his paw and slid it back on his glossy head then glanced at the dragon.

“Hmm, what a tale that is. I have never heard this one before. You astound me little friend! I am surprised! Tell me the answer, I do request!” The dragon crouched down waiting for the answer to such an odd riddle.

The cat purred a bit and looked back at the dragon.

“I will give you the answer under one condition, me and my own are never to enter the jaws you have. My master is old and frail, but a great man none the less. If you grant him safe passage then I will continue to visit and riddle with you as well as answer my own.”

The dragon sat up and felt a bit of anger seep up before he realized that it seemed only fair and maybe a good sign of her power to grant the cat’s request.

“Very well, I will do as you ask. What is your master’s name so that I may know him when he tries to pass?”

“His name is Vladrenyl, but you may have some difficulty asking him for an answer. He no longer speaks the heard words of man. His voice is that of the mind alone.”

“So how should I know it is him?”

“Ask him of this riddle that I tell you now, he will answer you with actions that should express the proper response.”

Fiera sighed then glanced at the cat.

“Then tell me of this answer so that I can be expectant of his actions.” The dragon crouched back down to better catch every word of the large cat.

“A curly-haired James was sleeping in bed, His brother John gave him a blow in the head. James opened his eyelids, and spying his brother, doubled his fist and gave him another. This kind of box then is not so rare, the lids are the eyelids, and the locks are the hair.”

Fiera huffed a bit and smoked seeped from her nostrils.

“What an odd reply. So I can imagine he may try to point to his head to answer this riddle. I will look out for this deaf old man and allow him passage if her responds as you say.”

So they agreed, and the cat was satisfied. They began to spend their days riddling each other and Fiera was impressed with the knowledge of the cat. Their friendship grew and eventually the cat was known as “Dragon Shadow”, for he sat in the shadow of Fiera whilst she riddled her victims for their lives.

Dragon Shadow sometimes offered her new riddles to try, for as old as she was, she often repeated some that could easily be over heard from the village. Impressed with the help of her friend, Fiera began to use his riddles more and more. Not one deaf old man had yet to appear in her presence, at least not until one muggy evening when the fog was quite heavy.

Fiera sat alone licking her elongated razor sharp teeth as a tall man approached. His hair fell in long white locks down and around his dark cloak. He walked with the weariness of an old man. Fiera’s eyes narrowed as he came closer. She decided to try Dragon Shadow’s riddle on this one to see if perhaps this was the old deaf man who belonged to the cat.

“Well, hello there, sir.” Fiera nodded to the old man keep her yes locked on his. The man nodded back. “Are you ready for your riddle?”

The man motioned to the dragon to continue. Fiera was almost certain this was the correct man, for his calm demeanor was extremely reflective of the cat’s and must be of the same place.

“John gave his brother, James, a box, about it were many locks. James woke and said it gave him a pain, so gave it back to John again. The box was not with lid supplied, yet caused the lids to open wide. And all these locks had never a key, what kind of box, then, could it be?”

Fiera watched the man and waited for him to point at his head. Instead he crouched and began drawing runes in the sand at their feet. Fiera watched in confusion and stared at the strange symbols. Looking at the man she saw he sat back in contempt and seemed to be waiting for her. Fiera grunted in frustration and gobbled the man down before he could blink. She shook her head as she felt the last of him burn within her infernal stomach.

The lone dragon spent much of the day staring at the symbols wandering if perhaps he was trying to tell her something or if maybe she had misinterpreted his answer. Her uneasiness grew to a small discomfort within her belly as she saw the swishy black tail rise over the ridge.

“Dragon!” the cat stomped as hard as a feline really could, up to the great reptile, “Have you seen my man beast today?”

Fiera snarled in disgust and turned her head.

“How should I know? What did he look like?”

“Well, I do believe you have been told that he is an elderly man who cannot speak the words aloud in a voice that men can hear. I also told you he was wise, and wise men write runes like the ones drawn upon this ground.”

Fiera turned away as the black ears lay back on the cat’s head.

“A man did come and write those but he did not point to his head so I assumed he did not know the answer to the riddle.”

The cat let out a howl of rage and jumped at the dragon. Fiera opened her mouth and before she realized what she was doing she burned the kitty to a crisp. Fiera froze in horror at the sight of the burnt corpse of her only friend. She stepped over the runes and curled up around the ashes. Searing tears of acid dripped down her glassy cheeks. Through the blur she looked up at the runes and realized that from this side, the side the man had been standing on, the runes were perfectly legible and stated the answer to the riddle precisely as the cat had said. In her impatience Fiera had eaten the man she promised to let live and then murdered her friend.

Using her massive claws, Fiera scratched an indention in the ground and slid the cat’s remains into the hole. She smoothed the dirt over and the sprayed her flames upon the ground until the sand melted into liquid glass. While it was still hot, Fiera carved the rune for Dragon Shadow on the surface. After it completely cooled she turned and pounced into the sky. Her large leathery wings flapped for the first time in ages, and the small town of Fralthal was finally free of their very unwelcome guardian.

She Can Help (Horror Short)

She Can Help

Amanda Leanne October 31, 2017

Tara put the car into park and sat back in her seat. Staring at the ramshackle house, she lifted her phone and scrolled to the email. The address was correct, but the photos were quite different. On the advertisement, the house was gleaming white, with two large pecan trees butting up to either side. Stone pavers marched cleanly to the wooden steps that led to the wrap around porch. An old colonial, complete with handmade rocking chairs and functional wooden shutters. The reality was a bit different.

The sun was beginning to set and so it was still light out enough to see the weeds that choked the smooth river stones that once made a pristine path. The pecan trees were bare, drooping naked in the late fall. And although those changes could be attributed to the different seasons, the flaking paint and sun-bleached stairs, dangling shutters and boarded up windows, said a different story.

Even as her courage wavered, the memory of the yelling, the blows landing on her head and exposed back, the shattering of glass, echoed in her head. No insurance meant help wasn’t going to be cheap, or if it was, it wasn’t going to be traditional. The woman’s qualifications as a therapist had checked out. She had raving reviews on all the major online rating sites. None of them, though, had mentioned the creepy state of her “home office.”

She was here for therapy, recovery from severe abuse. Paranoia and caution had become her protective coat anytime she left her home. A few deep breaths and she turned off the car, pocketed the keys, and held her phone close as she exited the safety of her vehicle and made her way up the overgrown path. Her eyes darted to the dark windows, the tall grass, the lack of any sign of life. The chairs were gone save one, with a broken rocker and the wood cracked with age.

Several steadying breaths later, she knocked on the door, feeling the paint flakes crunch under her knuckles. Have the reviews been recent? If so, why had no one mentioned this woman’s home? Tara would have felt better if there had even been a simple “place looks scary, but the therapist, not so much!” She shook her head and knocked again. There was a rustling beyond the door and the gentle thumps of light-weight footfalls coming to the door. Tara composed her face, trying to look polite and not terrified, as the door squeaked open.

“You must be Tara, come in.”

Tara’s smile froze as she blinked in surprise.


The child lifted her hand, motioning Tara into the dark house. Faint light, either dim bulbs or actual candlelight, lit a vague path through the entry and to an open doorway on the right. Warmth seemed to come from the hidden room.

“Go on in and take a seat in the blue chair. I’ll be along shortly. Tea?”

“Uh, no thank you.”

“Water, perhaps? I know these chats can leave one quite parched. It’s not a problem. The tea is sweet, though, so fair warning on that.”

“Water would be fine.”

The girl couldn’t be more than nine or ten years old. She wore a light colored gown, floor length, with a ruffled square collar. Her footsteps were completely inaudible as she fluttered down the hall, making Tara look around for the person she had heard earlier. Perhaps it had been the therapist, already waiting in the other room.

Hesitating only a moment longer, Tara forced her feet to round the corner. The room was empty with the exception of two high-backed chairs, a small table, and the massive fireplace. Or so it seemed. The corners and edges were dark. It looked as if there was more lighting than what the fire provided. The mantle on the fireplace was nearly as high as her shoulder and just as wide as it was tall. It was severely oversized for the small room. One chair was green, the other blue. She took the blue chair. Her heart nearly stopped as the cushion dropped her several inches further than she expected, making her claw at the frayed arms in panic.

“Sorry about that. They have definitely seen better days.”

The girl sat a beautiful crystal glass of water on the small table between the chairs. Tara half expected the child to take the other chair, as weird as it all was becoming. Instead, she walked around in front of Tara, smiled, and then stepped back into the fire. Tara sat frozen, her mouth locked open as the flames ate away the girl’s gown and hair, all while the child smiled, almost gently.

Just as Tara was finding her voice the fire died. There was nothing there. Blackened stone, charred chunks of wood, but no ash or even coals. The room still had a warm glow from the invisible candles. Tara choked off the groans, still unsure of what was happening. She wanted to bolt, or scream, or call…someone.

“She has a flair for the dramatic, that one.”

Tara screamed, falling back into her chair. The older woman was lighting a cigarette in one of those long holders she held clutched between her mauve painted lips. She wore a cream-colored blouse, button up with narrow pleats running down either side, over her breasts. Her skirt was a dark color, knee length, exposing the tan hose covered legs, crossed at the knee. Sensible heels, pale hair in a loose bun, and heavily lined eyes completed the picture.

“I’m Dr. Fairchild and you must be Tara.” The woman’s heavy southern accent fit her to a T.

Her heart was still pounding in her chest, her eyes wide, and Tara struggled to find words.

“The rate is low, dear, but it did start two minutes ago. You might want to start movin’ your jaw if you want your monies worth.”

There was an ashtray on the table now, but the woman flicked her ashes to the floor. There was also a snifter of dark liquor, which she nipped from. Tara was worried she was going crazy.

“I don’t understand what just happened…” her finger shook as it pointed toward the fireplace.

“Little girls being girls is all. We’re not here to gab about my house and family, though, we’re here for you.”

Tara picked up the glass of water and took a long drink. She wasn’t worried anymore. If it was drugged, so be it. She was losing her mind.

“Um, my ex-husband, he uh…”

“He was a bastard.” She shifted back into her seat, nodding with a knowing expression as she looked into the re-lit fireplace. Sans young child.

“Yes.” Tara ran through the checks she had done. The woman had legitimate degrees. Or at least the Dr. Fairchild she had made an appointment with. “He hurt me.”

She felt her head getting fuzzy. The room was warmer, brighter, cleaner, newer. Her muscles were relaxing. She wondered if she had been drugged but quickly felt any care of it slip from her fingers. Her breath eased, her heart slowed.

“Ah, see, there ya go darlin’. Now, tell me about this shit stain of a bag of flesh.” Dr. Fairchild sneered as she took another drag from the cigarette, tapping the end to ash on the floor.

“He…he liked to knock me around. He thought he was a man. Some burly man and he could just toss me around and I…I let him! I let him just hit me and throw things at me and he killed my cat.”


“He told me awful things, things he said he would do to me. He said no one would believe me, no one could love me.” Tara didn’t feel the tears running down her cheeks until Dr. Fairchild pressed the soft silk of a handkerchief to her skin. “I can’t tell anyone. I can’t do anything. My family, they all are wrapped around his finger.”

“Blood is supposed to be thicker than water.” Tara’s hands were suddenly being held by the woman’s cool fingers.

“Just close your eyes, dear, let go and let me feel around in your pretty little head for a moment.”

It was on the tip of her tongue to refuse, almost a repulsion, but she felt the decision slip from her. Tara’s eyes slid shut, her body went completely limp and then rigid, as if in pain. Flashes of moments with Joshua came blasting through her brain. Like slivers of memories, as sharp as glass, slicing through her heart and head. His words, his hands, everything flying outward and forward. Losing her job because of the number of sick days she took. Sneaking away and finding the women’s shelter. Her fear of living outside of that house, of having a job where he could find her. The entire downward spiral of her life beginning from the first moment he grabbed her throat and screamed in her face until the Women’s Center.

With a sigh, Dr. Fairchild sat back in her seat and Tara’s eyes fluttered open. The air clarified. The room was pristine. The floors polished wood, the white walls with ornate trim. Dainty ceramics and silver candle holders stood on side tables. A large black piano sat at an angle in one corner.

Although Tara was suddenly more aware, her eyes and mind clearing more by the minute, she no longer felt the fear. Her body was relaxed like after a full massage. In fact, something like confidence was building. She saw Dr. Fairchild quickly wipe away a tear in the corner of her eye and then Tara was talking. Clear and precise, her words poured out. All of the anger and fear and hatred, everything over the past five years that had made her life hell came pouring out.

When she was spent, she felt complete, as if all the parts of her that he had shattered had been rebuilt. Smiling, she looked at the doctor. The woman gave her a motherly smile of her own before standing up, straightening her skirt, and then she pulled out a gold cigarette case to place another in the long stem.

“Come. We’re almost done and then you can make your payment and be on your way, a whole new woman.” Her smile didn’t meet her eyes, Tara noticed. She didn’t think it ever had.

“Where are we going?”

“Into the basement, dear, for the final bit of your recovery.”

Tara followed Dr. Fairchild out of the room and down the hall. The entire house had woke up. It was beautiful, as if captured from a pristine moment back in the late 1800’s. Nothing was modern, there was no outlets or electronics anywhere, and yet Tara never felt more at home. The heavy window coverings in deep blues and greens, the wood was so warm and glowed. She was almost worried about brushing the walls, afraid she would somehow streak them with unseen dirt on her fingers.

“You’re fine dear. And thank you. It always has been a lovely place. It just has its moments, ya know?” She tossed a wink over her shoulder as she passed by an elegant staircase and continued to the door beyond.

A tug of hesitation pulled behind Tara’s belly button. Something in her gut twisted, tried pulling away.

“Now, now, don’t you back out on me. You’re payin’ for the full treatment here at Dr. Fairchild’s and I aim to cure!” She opened the door and headed down into the dark.

Tara pushed down the odd feeling. She already felt alive, more alive than she had in years. Whatever was down there would either be something she would run up and out, far away from, or another massive stepping stone. As she thought over the past few minutes, she realized it was as if those memories, those dark torrents of events, had been pulled from her experiences. She remembered them, but only as one would remember an old movie. They had less feeling, less strength, and she felt disconnected from who she was then.

The stairway had enough light to see by. The woman reached the end and waited for Tara to catch up. It was only when she had stepped onto the white tile floor that her eyes suddenly focused on the room around them. The floor was ceramic tile, but the walls were black. Or they weren’t there at all. The tiles seemed to fade into a darkness that surrounded the room. Feminine giggle and laughs came from the darkness, echoing and yet fading deep into the world beyond. The patter of feet on the cold ceramic. And yet, that wasn’t what pulled all of her attention.

In the center of the room sat two old dentist chairs. Pale green and plastic. The footstools pulled out. There were straps on the arms, the legs, the headrest, and the chest area. One chair had all the straps pulled aside, beckoning her forth. The other was occupied. Her heart froze. All of the relief from before flew back in, deeply rooting itself in her chest as she met his slitted black eyes. The blond hair stuck to his sweaty forehead. He was wearing his military work out gear. Black shorts and the gray shirt with “ARMY” printed across the chest. He wore white socks, but no shoes. His mouth was screwed into a sneer, but a chin strap prevented him from trying to speak more than angry mumbles.

“I…” Tara turned, running into Dr. Fairchild.

Her wrists were suddenly locked in the steel grip of the older woman. The sudden strength baffled Tara. The fear was back, her breathing was labored, and her heart near bursting.

“This is for you. You’ll thank me afterward, I promise. In fact, I bet you’ll leave me a shinin’ review of my unique and amazin’ skills.” Dr. Fairchild smiled, her perfect white teeth peeking out of the mauve lips as she pushed Tara back.

She fell back into the chair. Pushing off and against the cold plastic, the woman shoved her back again and suddenly there were women on either side, strapping her in. They were all smiling. Gentle touches to her face, her arms, words of encouragement.

“It’s okay. This is your salvation.”

“Shh, we were scared too. We’ll never fear another man.”

Tara felt herself hyperventilating as they finished strapping her in. An odd metal helmet was brought forward and placed over her head. She saw a similar one being taken to her ex-husband. She felt the icy metal prongs touching the skin under her hair, not piercing her scalp, but nearly. The world swam as her gasps became shorter and faster. The women kept whispering comforting words and caressing her skin. And then the room exploded into a white blaze. Everything faded, everything dropped away. A high note shot through her skull. She thought she was screaming, she had no way of knowing if she was or wasn’t.

When she thought her heart would burst, her lungs would collapse, and her mind would cave, the light and sound blinked out. Darkness enveloped her. The world was calm. She was calm. Something was gone. Something had changed. She blinked, slowly and carefully. She was in the blue chair, back in the living room. The walls were hidden in shadow again, the fire had died down. Only her half-empty glass of water sat on the side table.

Her mind was fuzzy. Maybe she fell asleep? But when? Before the girl stepped into the flames? Before the doctor or the weird memory flashes? Before the basement? She shook her head and stood. She squinted at the walls. Perhaps they were white at one time. She could almost see where the piano had been. And then she stopped. She thought back to her ex-husband and felt nothing. No fear, no anger, nothing. There was no pain. She felt her face lift. She was smiling. When had she last smiled?

“This is your payment.”

The little girl walked into the room. Following her was her ex-husband, blubbering like a fool. His eyes widened in…fright. Was he scared of her? He was scared? She had never seen him scared before.

“He will be taking the car.” The little girl walked the man out the door.

Tara winced and looked down at her hands. They were white, pale. There was a line on the inside of her arms, from her wrist halfway up to her elbow. Her phone was gone. So were the keys. And then she froze, staring at the swirling fabric of the white cotton skirt.

“You’ll stay with us now.”

Tara nodded, smiling, as the house faded into white and wood, sunshine and fresh air. She laughed as she followed the girl to the kitchen. The women from the basement wore similar dresses, drinking and laughing as they stood around the counter picking at a platter of cookies and chocolate.

Joshua sat at the wheel of the car. His eyes looked through the windshield at the front of the Women’s Center. Tara’s body was in the back seat. Her arms and neck crusted in blood. He completed the review, five stars, on Dr. Fairchild’s site on Tara’s phone and then tossed it in the back seat with her body. He didn’t know where the pistol came from, he thought it was his. Nothing mattered, though, not after the pain of what he felt. He felt her screams, her fists, the glass shattering on the wall behind him. Or her. His hands were on her neck. Her fists were pushing him away and yet his neck constricted. He felt the stings in his hair as his fist tightened in hers. He felt every ounce of pain he had ever given her. And the sobs exploded from his mouth as the bullet exited the barrel. The gun clunked into the console, six inches from the bloody knife covered in his fingerprints.

Shadows Through the Fog

Shadows are often benign, nothing to truly fear, and yet our minds create from them. We see them twist and form into something sinister, something eerie, something that makes our skin crawl or our heart race. As the fog manipulates the landscape, so does it change the shadows. With our minds, we further pull from the blurry images and a tale is formed. From vengeful women to those that welcome death to haunting moments, these stories are a mixed bag of random dark tales from the mind of Amanda Leanne. Written over the past decade, this is a small compilation of stories pulled from the shadows in the fog.

GOODEREADS Reviews and Info

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This collection of dark and eerie stories contains eleven tales to wet your appetite. The Other side of the Mirror and Something’s Changed were certainly my favourites. I could easily see these being developed into fuller stories. I’m sure each reader will find something to appreciate and their own favourites. I especially liked that each story brought a new voice and direction with it. I would recommend this to all readers who enjoy dipping into dark tales, like me! -Sarah Northwood

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