Monday, March 5, 2018

Ghostly soul-drinkers, debauched opium addicts, phantom Gypsies and Lily Childs.

Lily Childs challenges the tired belief that women can't scare you to death.

Lily's work is enchanting, haunting, and poetic. She easily flies from psychological, to quiet horror, and at times, shades of noir. She paints her tales with vibrant colors and violence, lacing her musings of dread with extreme and surrealistic images, pulling readers into the tawdry, bloody worlds she creates. At times the scenes are so vivid they dance close to unbearable.

"Genre-wise, I think it’s always been about the horror. I do write crime tales too; I think the genres blur quite easily." - Lily Childs

A machine of dark creativity, Lily constantly practices her art. Her non-fiction has been featured in the UK's WRITING MAGAZINE and WRITING NEWS. As publisher and editor she heads Ganglion Press; a boutique publishing house hosting the dark collection FEBRUARY FEMME FATALES, among others. She has over sixty-five published short-stories to her name. Nominated for the Spinetingler Award for 'Best Short Story on the Web' in 2011, Lily has several singles available. I highly recommend CABARET of DREAD, a collection of her best short stories. "Smiling Cyrus" will leave you breathless. She has two dark urban fantasy novellas, MAGENTA SHAMAN and MAGENTA SHAMAN STONES THE CROW and is constantly working on a novel or three.

"I did start my first novel ‘The Long Man’ in 1996. It’s set around the backdrop of The Long Man of Wilmington, an ancient chalk giant carved into the hills in Sussex, close to when I was born. Set in the modern day, the story is about childhood sweethearts Luke and Annie who go on to follow very different paths in life. Meeting up again as adults they find themselves under assault from the primal spirits of the land. Forced to act out a series of gruelling rituals, the pair come together to fight their own demons as well as battling the local Gods to save Sussex from itself." - Lily Childs on one of her first novels.

Lily has a sea of published gothic horrors, ghost stories and crime tales to her credit, most recently: The House of Three: a Short Story (Ganglion Press), The Twistweaver's Son in the Demonologia Biblica (Western Legends Publishing), The Ossillatrice Shift in Bones (James Ward Kirk Fiction), Strange Tastes in Fresh Fear (James Ward Kirk Fiction), Girl Don't Come in Thirteen (Soul Bay Press), Rapture in the Bestiarum Vocabulum (Western Legends Publishing) and Bad Exposure in Phobophobias 2 (Western Legends Publishing).

"I’m still in love with the demon from Dressing-Up Box, who likes to dress up in beautiful garments and shoes made of body parts. It’s only a tiny tale, but writing it was and still feels, darkly delicious. It’s still online on the New Flesh Magazine blog, surprisingly. However, I think Within Wet Walls might be the best taster as it covers many ideas I’m obsessed with – art, ghostly soul-drinkers, debauched opium addicts, Victoriana, phantom Gypsies and Sussex history." Lily Childs when asked which story she feels gives the truest taste of her terror.

Dressing-up Box

Awkward, I turn to pick at the flesh adorning my wardrobes, and sigh. The dance has left me ragged; exhausted from the relentless flamenco. Elegant feet I had chosen especially, bleed in stinging shreds. I have worn them to calluses. Yeast stinks between the slender toes.
A fine week’s work.
Ruining beautiful things is part of the pleasure.

Yesterday’s body was squat and dark, an aged gypsy. I slough off the old man’s skin, marvelling at the bruises incurred from seven solid days of stamping and click, click, clicking of heels. Yellowed stains litter the shins and I poke them hard, revelling in the pain before grasping the blackened feet that I pull off like old shoes; the toes broken and seeping with infection.

Today I am a ballerina, wanting the fairy tale. In a drawer there are pink-ribboned slippers, full of meat. I stole the pretty shoes from a libidinous girl I found larding on chocolate at the back of a theatre in a bulimic frenzy. Before she could plunge two fingers down her throat to vomit up the sugared treat, I declared myself. She thought me a film star, the pirate of her dreams. I let her fantasize whilst I ravaged her. My hand was already over her mouth when I revealed myself. Oh, the joy! I ate her face, tearing out sinew and muscle as I gorged. I left the playhouse staff to pick up the girl’s dregs but not before pocketing the eyeballs and stringing the shoes around my neck.

I finger my ragged stumps. The nerve-endings are raw. I twist and spasm with exquisite agony and begin the work of building myself a new pair of legs.

I want to be a woman. I want to leap across a stage with flat breasts, wearing a tutu of my own design. I force curves in at this female waist of mine and reach up, stretching tall, taller until I am long and lithe. I hear the bones creak as I bend to screw the fat girl’s feet to my ankles, flooding them with blood until they are sealed in place. You can’t see the join, however hard you search.

I am perfection.
I preen, twirling this way and that. It is a glorious creation and I am right to be proud. I run tapered fingers over pale epidermis, probing new holes. I must clothe this corpse. It will hurt. I can’t wait.
Pinches raise the first blemish. I punch and punch until colors burst to the surface. Flailing, I throw myself at walls, storm clouds surface on my torso with every beating. With painted fingernails I slice upward Vs into my chest, defining the outline of my corset tattoo.
Coiled intestines loop from a coat rack. I pull at a thin piece some ten feet long and turn to a sewing basket replete with tools of my unique trade, prising a pair of knitting needles from their resting place.

My shoulders click as they dislocate. My head turns, inch by slow inch until I am staring down at my spine. Despite the stricture I am able to force the needles in, piercing at regular intervals. I thread and weave the pale green strips of offal until the bodice is laced, and I can face the front again.

I am so beautiful.
I love the woman I have become.
Quickly I grab the swollen organs that decorate my dressing table. I claw them until they hang in shreds. With a handful of drawing pins I stud the pieces into my hips and groin. The tutu flutters, clinging to the soft pink of my thighs.

I sit before the looking-glass. This old demon’s face will not do. I dig under the scales to lift out each one, sequins of iridescence peel away leaving tiny, bleeding red roses upon the bare canvas.
Squeezing and straining I pound my skull. Thick hair bursts through my scalp. It pours down my head and frames my visage in ebony waves. I flip it into a Fonteyn knot, tied up with fine strings of gut.
Forming and stuffing it with gristle I kneed the facial tissue. I want to be sophisticated – aristocratic in countenance. I sculpt it into a near-point, massaging either side of the nose to raise the sharpest of cheekbones.
Here’s a dilemma. If I take my eye out and put it in a pickle jar whilst I mould a pair of sockets I’ll only be able to see what I’m doing at an angle. Deliberation rankles; I have no choice. I pop it out and drop it into the container, relishing the nausea it provokes as it rolls about the convex base. I have to shake the jar to truly see me at my best.
A glob of marrow plugs the gap. I force knuckles in deep making two pits that beg to be filled. My eyeball collection is in a goldfish bowl - I plunge my hand in, feeling the soft marbles slip and slide between my fingers. I want blue. It takes a moment to find a matching pair. I slot them in and adjust my vision.

So close now, so close.
I have the most carnal of mouths, ripe and red, forever tasting and kissing, sucking the life out of lovers. I make it smile, licking the rows of teeth with my black tongue. It needs no changes.
I am done.

Standing alone in the dressing room, the fabric of living costumes and masks hang around me. I drop to the ground and worship the God that made me. He grants my wish for the usual price of a dozen fresh souls – I can keep their flesh, he tells me.

The curtains rise. The audience applauds my beauty as I scour the enraptured faces for this week’s victims. Applause fades to silence, turning to screams as they realise what I am.

The doors are locked.
They can’t get out.
The dance begins.

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