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.

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.

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.

Undertow City

Strolling through the city of ghosts
Mine and others
Life lessening; remnants many
The only commodities exponentially growing
The less-ness and the dead
Faces curl by, mighty and mellow
Jesting jesters
Secret stalkers
Smooth and lined
Chiselling the face of ages
Charcoal sketches in a dusty book
My neck cranes from the tarmac
To sandstone stretching skyward
Behind blacked shades I hasten a look
Faces carved into stone statues
Corrosion of time changes their masks
And I see you there
Dancing among the gargoyles
Faces I’ve known
Faces I’ve kissed
Faces long dismissed
Echoes of ancient conversations
Undertows hidden behind music
Soothing ears and fears with every pluck and stroke
Muffling hyper consternation
Rapid beats in the throat
Lost words imprint the atmosphere
Bare toes curl into the black cracked pavement
They keep remaking it
Covering the splits
The old tracks; spectre paths
Undertows ripple underfoot
Soon only remnants shall remain
Ruptured
I’m one of them; a mere echo
In this Undertow City.

Another Lost Blog

‘I should be writing’

I haven’t written much lately and only have a few short story sub decisions outstanding.

Writing (with a specific purpose) has taken a backseat to everything else. Considering I’ve only been actively submitting work since the tail-end of 2019, this probably shouldn’t be as bothersome as it is (to me). This lull, this deeply uncomfortable, gut-churning, head-aching, creaky death-rattle vibe of a damned lull has created a fracturing within; what’s the harm in another one?

A couple of weeks ago, I could’ve screamed if I wasn’t so agonisingly audio sensitive — which hasn’t resolved yet. I’m sure the screaming would’ve shattered my pain riddled spine. I pictured the exploded shards; the bone shrapnel ripping through muscle and skin. My head hurts. I thought that maybe I needed a hit; a rejection, an acceptable, anything that might kick the cogs into motion — at least that’s where I was last week. Maybe something outward was needed to push a tangible, create type locomotion into motion. Even with that, time is a merciless taunter, and with too much else going on, there’s never enough of it. Though, writing is air. I am dependant on its ability to quench and quell things that nothing else can. I’m co-dependent on the pen even when words are just scrawled onto old paper and shut in a drawer. This digital tapping is a placebo. They say there’s a form of eternity in the code of numbers; to me, the figures are a mirage that melts away like ghosts.

I’ve not been writing (much) — it doesn’t mean I’ve been out of contact with the words. We’ve been serenading in other ways. Ways that should benefit the stories when they get their time again.

Figment

Pressing, softly through the cracks
Fragments of consciousness
Piston hissing speckled the dead-night

Moving electricity aside
She slips in like butter
Melting and reforming to what I once knew

She was melancholy like my heart
Sullen of soul
My scion mirror

The tunnel formed
Attuning the station
Between pre and post mortem
A hollow in this verse
A meeting place

We spoke about mortality
Not with words
It was all there, though
Moths fluttering in the air
It’s been a while…

Since we shared space
Since we shared time
She keeps reminding me, though
Those are figments...

Of faux comfort
Fool’s restraints
Flimsy, weak cortex
It’s not everything
Not even close

The cat’s body is in the next room
Upon the pink bedspread
His marbled fur of coppers and black
Still as the void
I can look if I want, she tells me
He won’t stir yet
But I can’t leave
Paralysed in the serenity
Permeating from her form

There’s so much more to that cat

The sun seeps in
Glimmers strain against the sides
Dagger sharp
Fragments tear the space asunder

I’m here again…
She’s gone.
© Natasha Sinclair

Clownhead

A Drabble

She was the most beautiful burlesque dancer to join their travelling freakshow; mesmerising. Clownhead couldn’t believe his luck when she reciprocated his sleazy advances.

As he drove his shaft in and out of her moistening pussy, his balls began that familiar thrum. Twin clown-heads hardened inside his sack, swelling and stretching skin; teeth chitter-chattered.

As his orgasm built in the pit of his rolling jelly-belly, with every enthusiastic thrust of his hips – electricity. The sharpening, lengthening teeth tore through his slop sodden sack. Clownhead’s weight pinned her as the twins erupted to enjoy their long-awaited meal in vivacious violent victory.

Murmur: Collected Horror

Earlier this year (and again this month), I shared that I aimed to release a short story collection this summer. Well, I’ve got major jitters — as always with publishing anything! Since I last posted about it, it’s progressed significantly — printed proofs have landed, and I’ve set up the eBook pre-order to force myself to suck it up and let it go!

The live date for Murmur is Summer Solstice – 21st June. The collection will be available in eBook, paperback and hardback. It consists of 8 short stories; 5 have appeared in print elsewhere, 1 has been published in an eZine, and 2 have never been published before. There is a Summer Solstice story in there to compliment the release date.

It’s been just over a year since I’ve published independently — Jumping back on that again has only heightened my gratitude to those who have accepted and published my work. Book building and formatting is a crazy business!