The Child is Gone

Natasha Sinclair

The hand strikes
A forgettable second
Within a minute of infinities
A single beat
The heart stops
Unknowing, silence befell within
Maybe yesterday

A bustling room, waiting
A bed on a register
Ice-cold gel
Smiles convert to frowns
Twin mask
I already know
Before the backup arrives
The child is gone

Dead inside the fluid of life
Everything stops
The hand keeps ticking
More minutes
Other rooms
Happier stories

Floating deceased
In my belly remained
Bodies reluctant to depart
Tear apart

Keep her in
Maybe life will begin again
It was a pause
A monitor fault
A technical blip
Chest tightens
Throat clams shut
Tears won't cease
Beneath the duvet
Fort of solitude
Alone
Grief spreading from belly to bone

One last weekend
Of motherhood pretend
Viscous connection
Umbilical short circuit
My belly her deathbed

Many strikes later
The hours had fallen away
Empty cotton cave
Just us
No heartbeat still
No rush to move
I could've held her there forever

Chemical help swallowed
Washing away
The static infinity

Another day
Another dose
Grief and planning ahead
Terms aired before taking the bed
Alter of birth

In that other room
Hidden from coos
Expectant cries
Life to life
Mine was the room
Of quietus
For the mother of death
Me
As I always knew
As I had been before
In another place
Another time
Another father

Here I was now
Mother of death again
My terms they'd meet
Another pain for later
Pacification for the morning shift
My mourning moon

The contractions
Too soon
Too late
Pregnancy infraction
This labour of death
Babe's birth unto death
Ultimate labour of love
Combusting a broken star

Then she was there
Stillborn silent
The hand struck
A mallet to a gong
The child is gone

Another moment
Rooting time
Nothing and everything
I know where I was then
As is this day

With every score
She was no more
And evermore
My sweet tiny girl
Embossed in flesh
How I held her after
Within my clammy palms
Tattooing her existence
From one bleary orb to the other weary

Sinking into dark silence
The void sucking me in

One night of her
Held in mother's hands
Eyes burned
Taking her in
Her translucent skin
The curves of her mouth
Fine fingers ten
My jelly baby star

The child is gone.

Flash Sale

My collection Murmur: Collected Horror is price dropped to just 0.99! 

It can be picked up from Smashwords at that price between now and December 10th!

I enjoyed writing each of the stories in this book. Each piece is followed by a few words about how it came to be. If you pick it up, I hope it brings you some entertainment!

Thank! )o(

Masters of Horror UK

Just a quick share. I was invited to interview over on Masters of Horror U.K. by David Kempf. We chat about writing inspiration, the popularity of horror, publishing and current projects. You can check that out by clicking the link.
Apparently, I can be a bit of a blether! Much thanks to David Kempf, and those who take the time to check it out!

The Best of Indie Horror: Christmas Edition

With a fantastic tracklist of authors, we are gunning for Christmas #1 with KJK Publishing’s The Best of Indie Horror: Christmas Edition.

The final release from KJK in 2021 is out now and is available in eBook, paperback and hardback editions. It is the perfect read for fans of short horror fiction for the festive season, with a fantastic mix of holiday-themed indie horror from some of the best word weavers on the scene.

The book has been received well by readers and reviewers so far — a huge thanks to each and every one of you who have supported the new release from the indie horror community! If you haven’t picked it up yet — when you do, we hope you love the stories selected to inject a bit of horror into your holidays!

From the back of the book;

There’s no better way to celebrate the end of the year than with a seasonal mixtape with The Best of Indie Horror: Christmas Edition! Whether you love it or loathe it, Christmas brings out the best and worst in many people the world over — thus, lighting a fire in the bellies of storytellers who wish to strike warm fuzzies or tantalising terror in reader’s hearts. You won’t find the warm fuzzy feeling here; that’s not what we do!

This anthology will dance readers through an array of styles and horror sub-genres, including bizzaro through the looking glass of unique Christmas ornaments; such treats always come with a price. Discover the dark secrets between the Claus’ and Krampus that you’ll never forget. There’s a touch of sci-fi when a lone worker discovers a hidden department in a derelict store. There are family horror tales of obsessive tradition, reunion, and mayhem. This edition promises something festive to satisfy a cornucopia of horror pallets.

In this invite-only anthology, KJK Publishing presents 11 new tales of frightful festive horror shenanigans from: Matthew V. Brockmeyer, Eric Butler, Matthew A. Clarke, David Owain Hughes, Lex H Jones, Kevin J. Kennedy, Zoltán Komor, Patrick Reuman, RJ Roles, Veronica Smith and Steve Stred.

Don’t forget the milk and cookies, and be good kids — someone is always watching. Those damn elves are not to be trusted!

Blood On Your Hands

Won’t keep your distance
Blood on your hands
Won’t wear a face covering
Blood on your hands
Won’t wash your hands again
Blood on your hands
Your exponential deviation from definition of essential
Blood on your hands
It’s just one hug, one kiss
Blood on your hands
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble
Just one day you say
Blood on your hands
It could’ve been anything
Him, her, that other thing
The finger pointed can’t be proven
Asymptomatic, screaming lies of hoax
Blame the media
Pandemic naysayer
Systemic stupidity at the helm
Throwing around blame like it’s some game 
Voiding yourself of responsibility
Insane
BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!
Even if you can’t see it
Know this is true
It’s not all about you
Except for, that’s right…
The blood on your hands
You think you're asserting your rights
Your right to kill
Dominating social discord
It’s just some cheap thrill 
Blood on your hands
Your right to your idea of freedom
Enslaved to conspiracy, half-truths – all lies
Ignorantly, defiant, belligerent, delusional
It’s staining 
That blood on your hands
These inconsiderate, selfish acts
Because it’s your right to protest
Catastrophic fires rage
The blood is still on your fucking hands.
Carry on, send your best wishes, your mother fucking prayers—
Until you take actions that count—
Your prayers are a joke
Hoaxer Hocus
You know what isn’t?
THE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!

Just Words

Their love
Demanded a price
Obedience
Blood
Sanity
Unspoken (at times)
Until she spoke up
Raising from a whisper
Unnoticed
Unheard
Unwelcome
Pitchforks
Faux assurances
Platitudes
Lies
All of which she despised
A continuous cycle
Only she could break
The black sheep
The unwanted
The failure
Witch bitch
Her death worth more than her life
The life begrudged
Cell division
Damning their youth
Sealing fates
She to blame
Because someone had to be
She tried
Talked
Filtered
Diluted herself
Until there was barely anything left
Shut up
Medicate
Put between some miles
Time
Distance not enough
Their disdain plain
As long as she exists
It’s all Futile
The failed investment
It’s all too late
Consummation sealed fate
Abortion option too late
You are your faults
Your decisions
She is not your scapegoat
Anymore.

World Prematurity Day

A personal post

November 17th is World Prematurity Awareness Day.

I now try to let such days pass by. There’s a day for everything, isn’t there? It’s impossible to acknowledge them all, thoughtfully, every year.

This year though, I’m dipping my toes in to share a little on the messy, sticky web.

For the lifetime of my first premature baby, I have struggled to acknowledge Prematurity Awareness without also acknowledging baby (and infant) loss.

I lost two before my two survivors.

Every birth affected me profoundly. Even the first, which I readily admit was a pregnancy I didn’t want. Yes. I admit that. I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I wasn’t in a supportive relationship. I was in an awful state of depression. Even with that, I still grieve for the life that formed inside my womb, those rapidly multiplying cells that suddenly stopped. I remember the pains ripping through my abdomen. I recall the loss as intimately as the babies I actively (desperately) tried to conceive years later.

The second pregnancy (baby) was very much wanted; every moment her heart beat, and every moment after — when it fell silent — is preciously held in my soul. My womb remembers her place there. Those horrendous words at the ultrasound, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat,” still haunt me. Days of her silence within my body, knowing she was dead and willing her heart to (miraculously) start beating again, wishing for a mistake, they missed her fluttering. There was no mistake — her labour and birth in that silent hospital room and everything after is etched in my bones. The love is agony.

I didn’t trust my body. I felt betrayed by the perceived failure to protect and nurture the life within it.

My third pregnancy was riddled with anxiety. Words are frivolous when even professionals can’t give the answers. There’s no reassurance anyone can offer, just a wish for their life. Their existence. Hope through the torment and desperation.

My third child was born alive just 25 weeks into the pregnancy. The Neonatal Intensive Care journey that followed was another world entirely as was finally bringing her home. Writing about those initial four months was cathartic and not something I really planned on doing — it just happened and became something that I hoped may help other families thrown into that world feel a little less alone. It can be a deeply isolating experience — having a very premature / sick child — and the ongoing battles, fighting their corner and protecting them, making arduous decisions. All this carries on after they’ve been discharged from the unit — at least those fortunate enough to survive.

My last pregnancy ended when my baby was born at 28 weeks gestation. That Neonatal Intensive Care Journey was another experience altogether. Medically it was smoother, and the surroundings, staff, routines and procedures were familiar, comforting (in ways). It was no less difficult — additionally so with another young child to care for — a toddler who was still at risk of things such as RSV, and this birth like the one before was also bang-smack in the middle of winter. My soul was ripped down the middle — and I mean utterly eviscerated. I was a walking, talking, gaping wound that appeared on autopilot. And I don’t think there’s a way for those cracks ever to be restored.

I’ve accepted it all, each of those journeys, the losses, the trauma and the toll it took on our family.

I have let go of the crippling guilt of events I had no control over — advice for life. Learn and let them go.

So, November 17th is World Prematurity Awareness Day. It means something a little different to those who are aware through their own experiences.

I published my first book on my first prematurity survivor’s NICU journey. Having my children gave me more than I can ever put into words. They are my reason to not wilt quietly in a corner, my reason to speak up. They are my inspiration, my pain. They taught me a love that I never knew and so much more. They are my reason to keep going and try to set a positive example of self-worth even when I feel entirely worthless. My children are worth so much more. (All our children are.) They continue to do this every single minute of each day because they exist — against the odds (which were very beak at points).

I’m not going to spiral into talking about the impacts of the pandemic on all of this. It’s hard to refrain because it has had an impact. And knowing how tough those journeys in NICU were for families prior to all of this, let alone now. For those (medical staff and preemie families) having to manage those additional risks and contend with vaccine refusers and conspiracy theorists….

Anyway, it matters. Our actions have consequences that we cannot imagine.

I’m babbling now and trying to stem the flow so, here I sign off my (public) acknowledgement of World Prematurity Day 17/11/2021.💜

Hand in hand, always.

Things I ‘Should’ Be Doing

The End of 2021 is Beckoning

Instead of ploughing into the to-do list, which has a terrible habit of expanding, I am writing this. It helps to organise the brain, maybe. I opened up my submission spreadsheet and there’s hardly any writing submissions outstanding! It’s almost dry! This gave me a bit of a ‘must write, must submit’ moment. No, I shouldn’t. I’ve enough to keep going and hope to tie it all up to start 2022 with key priorities from which I will resist deviation. I will resist. I must resist! My wandering eye needs reigned in!
Wrapping up 2021, so far, I’ve had stories published with Black Ink Fiction, Books of Horror, Crimson Pinnacle Press, Horror Sleaze Trash, Insignia Stories, Iron Faerie Publishing, KJK Publishing, The Evil Cookie Publishing, The Macabre Ladies, Sirens Call Publications and have published my collection, Murmur: Collected Horror. And I have a few pieces of work pinned — don’t we always?!
Writing aside, I’ve been studying, proofread several titles, completed developmental editing work, created promotional materials including written copy and graphics, written forewords, completed interviews, edited KJK Publishing’s 2021 releases (The Horror Collection: Extreme Edition, The Horror Collection: Ruby Edition, The Horror Collection: Yellow Edition and Halloween Land) — with another two scheduled for release by the end of the year, and it’s not over yet!
So, I’m back to trying to pull focus into what I MUST tie up, on top of editing before 2022, which includes finishing up a couple of writing projects. With less than three months left it’ll be over before we know it.
I am going in firmer in 2022 with what I take on. My novel (that I had hoped to finish this year) didn’t get much attention due to other projects swaying my eye and life doing its curveball of mayhem routine, so that will be at the forefront of my list. I am starting a degree course in January, which will require much attention. I will be collaborating on two projects, one with another (damn talented) woman in horror, Ruthann Jagge (who, if you haven’t, you MUST check out) — I cannot wait to see what we create together. And another exciting collaboration with the one and only Kevin J. Kennedy, another indie story weaver who should be on your reading list. There’s more pencilled in, but the priorities are in bloody ink!

2022 Collaboration Tease.
2022 Collaboration Tease.
Landing in 2021.

City of the Dead

Twisted Legends: Crimson Pinnacle Press

When propositioned to create a story based around an urban legend, I was keen to offer a Scottish framed piece for consideration to this popular anthology theme. With an abundance of folk tales around Scotland and its many isles to inspire, I decided to dip into what I’m more intimately aquatinted — Glasgow. The central belt is brimming with inspiration. Three urban legends immediately sprung to mind. However, when I began drafting a story, I hopped, unfocused between tales and my first attempt got pinned as I had a stronger pull towards another.

Children playing in Glasgow’s Southern Necropolis. Circa early 1950’s

Much can spiral from classroom whispers and the imagination and zest of children. The inspiring legend of The Gorbals Vampire (or Ir’n Jenni), which spawned hysteria, climaxing in September 1954, and Alexander Anderson’s poem, Jenny wi’ the Airn Teeth, led the way for my creation. The Gorbals Vampire incident brought much debate about censorship of literary material (from poetry in the classroom to imported American comics) to impressionable children, and the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955 was passed through the House of Commons. Censorship is an area that is still very much debated today through the arts, worldwide — and not just with children in mind — this deepened my draw to this particular event.

Sunday Mail article 26th September 1954

My story, City of the Dead, was created as a nod to the notorious child vampire hunt of 1954 in Glasgow’s Southern Necropolis and Alexander Anderson’s poem from 1870. I love a good cemetery setting (typical goth, I know), so taking on The Southern Necropolis — which is home to over 250,000 buried souls was a lot of fun. I enjoyed writing this one. It’s always satisfying to weave regional dialect through a piece — bringing authenticity to the characters and reverence to the urban legend’s roots.

I won’t share spoilers beyond the base inspiration for my own story, as City of the Dead was submitted and subsequently accepted by Crimson Pinnacle Press for their Twisted Legends anthology!

The book received a high volume of submissions of twisted takes on urban legends from around the globe. The editors chose the top 13 offerings, and I am thrilled to have made the cut, alongside; Thomas R Clark, Lance Dale, Lance Harkers, Stephen Johnson, Ruthann Jagge, Jae Mazer, Jason Myers, Pamela A. Parish, Chris Puzak, RJ Roles, Vic Kerry, and Robb T. White.

Graphic created by Lance Dale.

Having been published in Crimson Pinnacle Press’ (invite only) inaugural anthology, Fairy Tale Horrorshow, I am ecstatic to be accepted into their pages once again! The duo who run the press, RJ Roles and Jason Myers, certainly have the eye for unique, quality indie horror, I promise you that! You’ll have to pick that up to read my take on this urban legend from Scotland and the 12 other twisted legends, launching October 25th. The eBook pre-order is live.

Thanks for reading!

In addition, if you’d like to listen to me reading Anderson’s poem the video is below.

Yes, My Kids are Vegan

I’m not particularly vocal about some things I care deeply about, especially not online. My personality has reactions built on trauma.
Speaking up has opened me up to attack (from childhood) so, I clam up tight, retreat inward — standard trauma response.
The everyday injustices towards our fellow earthlings is one such horror that I often wish I had the nerve to speak up about more.
I stopped consuming the flesh of murdered animals when I was 7 years old. I still feel guilty for the dead on my fork to that point, even if I was just a child raised to be ignorant to their suffering.
As a child, the hypocrisy was (is) taught through family, friends, society, schooling, and religion plagued me — how can one preach and teach of love and respect while dining over the mass slaughtered, butchered bodies of other living beings?
It made me soul-sick. I despise how much we, as a society, deceive our children. I was deceived.
Dairy was the last to be eliminated when I was 30 years old. Much of that was, again, ignorance. I am ashamed; the guilt of the suffering I paid for runs deep.
I paid for so many deaths, countless brutalities; I am responsible — the coward who didn’t hold the knife.
No single life is worth so many of theirs, especially when one does not depend on their deaths to live.
The brutal, bloody, unjust, inhumane, unnecessary deaths of children — of innocent fellow earthlings cannot be justified. Industries built on the systemic enslavement, rape and murder have much to answer for, and it seems never will because the atrocities are too widely accepted. With a blind eye and habits ingrained in children.
I can’t take back my part in it; none of us can. All I (we) can do is do better.
I’m raising vegan children. I’ve seen parents, such as myself, challenged by general ignorance on the matter. And I’ve had the quizzical looks when this fact has come to light. Why would I raise them any other way? Knowledge is power, right? So then, why wouldn’t I instil in them the truth from the onset? I know it makes society uncomfortable; we’re expected to fall in line, not disrupt the hypocritical peace, not be an inconvenience. That’s it right there; the truth of animal agriculture and the moral imperatives that the word ‘vegan’ rouses in consumers of animal products is that those truths are inconvenient. I don’t care for that. I care for justice and a moral compass that aligns with actions — isn’t that what we should be teaching children and ourselves?
Forget the (many) positives of a healthy, vegan lifestyle (because it’s not just a dietary choice) and consider the absurdity of the animal agriculture industry. If I was farming puppies in my garden to kill, skin, gut, and chop up and feed my children, I’d be deemed as evil, cruel, heartless, an unfit parent.… The accepted state of animal agriculture is far worse than that. Consider the proven decline in human health due to the consumption of products from that sector, not to mention the desperate climate crisis — to which this type of production and consumerism holds much of the responsibility. Every action, even when small, everyday ones — every action against this industry matters. And the choice to remain ignorant to it is unforgivable, surely.
Yes, my kids are vegan — it is not a choice.