Via the blog of Joseph Sale
We are on the homestretch of our Kickstarter Campaign, so, to thank all you AMAZING people out there who have backed us, we thought it was time to give you all a little taster of what’s coming. Here, below, we have two story extracts.
The first is from ‘Bethesda’, our Issue 1 story by Ross Jeffery. ‘Bethesda’ is a hopeful tale of religious experience, told with a unique and convincing narrative voice that becomes quietly, profoundly moving. ‘Bethesda’ is set in England.
The second, from ‘Under Soil’, by Tice Cin, is set in Cyprus. This dark fiction tale is woven from a Gothic style that slowly unveils a deeper meaning to it. Sensual and intense, this is as vivid as an acid trip, or else, a direct encounter with something beyond the shadow of our daily lives.
Be†hesda – Issue I – Ross Jeffery
I’ve been watching him now for a while: the pale man, as he trudges back and forth from what I assume must be his car, or mini-van, parked at the foot of the hill, stopped from entering the promenade by the safety barrier. It was put in place to stop cars driving onto the beach to unload their cargo. There was a girl who I went to school with a few years back. Jessica was her name. She said that she saw an elderly man crushed to death by one of those cars; he’d been buried up to his neck by someone who’d gone off swimming, leaving him with just his head sticking out, encased in the heavy, wet sand. He didn’t see it coming. The driver didn’t see him either. The huge petrol-guzzling Range Rover drove over his head popping it like a tomato. She said that the blood sprayed out from under the car. But it wasn’t just the head, the Range Rover crushed his limbs beneath the sand. Dead on impact, she said. There was so much blood, it formed a tributary down to the sea. Apparently, it took a good few days for the tide to wash away the blood. It kept on coming back like the blood on Lady Macbeth’s hands. Gone one moment, back the next. Immediately after, the local authority met and decided there would be no more ‘incidents of this nature’ and so installed a barrier which put a stop to drivers bringing their cars down onto the beach. There were obviously complaints about it all, uproar in local neighbourhood partnership meetings, but in all honesty who can complain about the inconvenience of carrying your beach equipment a hundred yards after an elderly man has been crushed until he popped like a geyser.
The man just stands there now, looking out to sea. He raises his hand, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun on the water. The light refracts off his large watch, sending a blinding beam across the beach in my direction. He lowers his hand and turns to his windbreaker. He reaches into the chest pocket of his jacket and pulls out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I can’t make out the brand but catch a flash of red from the pack: Marlborough Reds, strong stuff. He lifts the pack up to his mouth, his lips reaching out and claiming one of the sticks, he slowly pulls the pack away revealing this cigarette hanging from his mouth. In one fluid motion he moves the pack down and into his pocket and when bringing his hand up, opens the zippo lighter with a flickering flame. He inhales, deeply, two jets of smoke pour from his nostrils. With a flick of his wrist the zippo is closed and he places it in the breast pocket of his shirt. He stands there staring out into the surf. He only moves to lift the cigarette to and from his mouth; he doesn’t even move to pick up a child’s red Frisbee that lands a foot away from him. He stares out to sea. He doesn’t move when the children shout at him to pass it back, call him a weirdo, a paedo and a bunch of other derogatory remarks. Just stands there in his backdrop of Jamaican merchandise. I watch intently as one of the boys, the youngest, slightest one is pushed by his friends in the direction of their fallen Frisbee; I see the boy stiffen with terror as he moves, well pushed, towards the Frisbee. What does this say about the boy’s home life if he thinks that interacting with a stranger could cause him to suffer? A dog yaps near me as it jumps over the groyne I’m sitting on, distracting me from my observations. The owner of the dog says hello and good afternoon to me, I reply by moving my mouth but not speaking the words, and add a little head nod for good measure; I’ve always found that odd, total strangers saying hello. I used to shrink into my coat every time my father would say hello to total strangers when we were on family walks in the country. After the stranger is gone. I look back to the man. He’s gone too. The kids are laughing and punching the runt in the arms; he seems to have successfully acquired the red Frisbee. But where is the man?
Under Soil – Issue II – Tice Cin
Her body is dead earth. It has the soft mulch of being left outside for too long and being rained on. The rain never stops. Flesh quivering, the panting of her breath moves hair that has fallen across her collarbone. Small needle marks blemish her skin and raise blood to its surface. Shooting over her legs, threads of blood meet each other as they flow from head to toe. The interlacing of red is divinely timed. Her colour is renewed and replaced interchangeably by the rain, then the blood, and back again. This skin is lace that embroiders the ground. This was the call and now was the time to answer. Standing up, her feet sink in soot, cleaving it free from the gravel beneath. Divinely timed. Heading for the hills, her footprints suck in blackness, leaving traces of her body in their trail. Bound between sky and earth she is the first of her kind. Sent to shake life from her skin, she moves through the heat of the day. As the sun pinches her cheeks she walks with it roasting and drying her offerings, liquid intermingling to infuse gravel with metallic clay. She stops. Knees hitting the ground, she pulls at her ribcage. First she becomes aware of the pressure on her thumbs as they grip skin and bone. Then that pain is nothing. The sound of skin peeling sends white noise crackling into reverb around her and when it stops she holds two ribs in her hands. An un-stringed cello, she buries them in the ground. Piled over bone, the slow erosion of hot rock here blends with soot, marbling and intertwining body with earth. The first death will be here. Fire the reward of the wrongdoer. Volcanic ash and hot sand carried the stench of carrion as brother buried brother out of sight. This palpable toil. The men warred so quickly yet with so much fire that their bodies were swallowed in dirt before they ever had the chance to make surrendering moves. The walking prayer. When making something level again is no longer a crime, then she will come. Balance hums into being. Her fingers are like wings that drag along the floor as she walks and her hair gestures forwards sensing each step that she needs to take. Marking the area of this sin was all she has to do. She is here to give to an earth that is dead. Her lips part, lower lip hanging like a corpse’s dislocated jaw. Out from her mouth rolls a shard of flame that lingers at her feet before rippling with open arms over the dry hill, leaving nothing but green behind.
We hope you enjoyed those extracts and that it demonstrates what we intend to do with †3Dark. If you did enjoy them, please help us make this project come alive by offering a back or telling your friends about us:
We have TONS of incredible rewards to offer you, but more than that, you will get the satisfaction of knowing you are a true patron of the arts, have supported the work of aspiring authors, and are making a vision live.
Please note: Our incentive offer is still valid: if you can get a friend to back this campaign and then confirm it to our Facebook page, Twitter, or in the comments section of this KS, we will send you a FREE eBook from Dark Prophets Press!
Well, that’s enough from me. I hope you enjoyed reading this fine work. Onwards and upwards †3Dark.
Until next time!
Project Lead, †3Dark