Top 5 Halloween Reads 2021

The nights a longer, wind is blowing, All Hallows Eve is approaching.

Read on for my recommendations, old and new, for reading material for the spookiest weekend of the year!

Ranked in order of both awesomeness and spookiness.

Read on…IF YOU DARE.

5. The Wicked and The Damned – Warhammer Horror – David Annandale, Josh Reynolds and Phil Kelly – Apr 2019

Starting the list with something a bit out of left-field. You may think you can only enjoy Warhammer fiction if you are a fan of the universe. But as I continue to explore the Black Library, as it’s known, I’m finding more and more gems in its vast collection, especially amongst the ‘Domestic 40K’ titles – character- rather than war-driven narratives that are easily as good as many commercial SciFi books of recent years.

My first foray into the subgenre of Warhammer Horror did not disappointment, either. These three novellas are creepy, visceral and packed with very human drama, action and terror. I feel The Woman In The Walls by Phil Kelly was the standout novella of the collection, but read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

A chilling mosaic novel by masters of their craft.

On a misty cemetery world, three strangers are drawn together through mysterious circumstances. Each of them has a tale to tell of a narrow escape from death. Amid the toll of funerary bells and the creep and click of mortuary-servitors, the truth is confessed. But whose story can be trusted? Whose recollection is warped, even unto themselves? For these are strange stories of the uncanny, the irrational and the spine-chillingly frightening, where horrors abound and the dark depths of the human psyche is unearthed.

4. The Coffin Path – Katherine Clements – Feb 2018

This was a recent discovery, but an instant hit. The Coffin Path has great characters, an atmospheric setting and gut-surging creepiness. Plenty of things going bump in the night, but the true horror, as so often happens in real life, comes from within. Cannot recommend enough. A must of the season.

The Coffin Path is an eerie and compelling seventeenth-century ghost story set on the dark wilds of the Yorkshire moors. For fans of Michelle Paver and Sarah Waters, this gothic tale will weave its way into your imagination and chill you to the bone.

Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.

Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.

When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet

3. Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come To You, My Lad – M. R. James – 1904

A classic and perhaps obvious choice, but this story from the Master of Horror himself, M. R. James, will always be included on my reading list at this time of year. It’s old-school, plagued with mystery, uncertainty and blood-chilling creepy happenings. It’s only short too and there are many excellent dramatizations and audio versions, a lot available for free. A staple spookfest for a cold evening in.

While exploring a Knights Templar graveyard on the East Anglian coast, a Cambridge academic finds a strange bone whistle that unleashes terrifying forces upon the user when blown

2. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – Grady Hendrix – Apr 2020

This was a pleasant discovery and welcome distraction in the summer of 2020. I won’t try to describe it because no matter what I say, it won’t be what you expect. A brilliant melding of the real and supernatural, with a good amount of emotion, horror and examination of the human condition stirred in for good measure.

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.

1. The Woman In Black – Susan Hill – Oct 1983

A well-deserved placing at number 1, the story which may very well be my favourite ghost story of all time. I really enjoyed the film, but the book has been one of my all-time favourites for years and, in my opinion, far outstrips the film for chill-factor. Low-key, eerie, knuckle-whiteningly atmospheric. A story I will never get bored of revisiting.

What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller–one that chills the body, but warms the soul with plot, perception, and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story written by Jane Austen?

Alas, we cannot give you Austen, but Susan Hill’s remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as our era can provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north from London to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the deserted nursery, the eerie sound of a pony and trap, a child’s scream in the fog, and most dreadfully–and for Kipps most tragically–The Woman In Black.

The Woman In Black is both a brilliant exercise in atmosphere and controlled horror and a delicious spine-tingler–proof positive that this neglected genre, the ghost story, isn’t dead after all

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‘Sanction and Sin’ Warhammer Crime Anthology – OUT NOW

Greetings everyone!

I am thrilled to announce that Sanction and Sin, Black Library Warhammer 40k crime anthology featuring ‘Blood Ballot’ a short story by yours truly, is OUT NOW.

You can order direct now from Games Workshop or pre-order from Amazon.

I’m so chuffed and honoured to be considered good enough to be included in this collection alongside so many wonderful new and veteran Black Library names.

I was even more honoured to be asked to participate in a joint interview along with some of the others by Michael over at Track of Words.

Click here to read this thought-provoking piece about Warhammer Crime and Women in BL.

I found it such a wonderful experience to work with the editors of Black Library and get to know this world and the great authors in it. Fingers crossed I get to try my hand at more in the future.

Watch this space!

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Preorder now available for ‘Sanction and Sin’ – Warhammer 40K Crime Anthology

Good morning all! Hope you’re managing to stay cool on this already-hot Saturday morning.

Just a very quick post to let you know that the Warhammer 40K anthology Sanction and Sin (Varungantua – Warhammer CRIME. Yeah, really!) featuring a short story from ME is now available for preorder from Amazon.

Many wonderful authors have contributed to this collection and I’m so honoured to be included, not least because I find this this sub-section of the 40k universe endlessly intriguing.

Click here for the link!

To find out more about this anthology and how excited I am about it, see my previous post.

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NEW Short Story Release with Warhammer Crime: ‘Sanction and Sin’ Anthology

Time to announce something I’ve had under my hat for a fair while…

I am honoured, privileged and beyond chuffed to say that my short story, Blood Ballot, will be featured in this upcoming Warhammer Crime Anthology Sanction and Sin, to be released later this year by Games Workshop’s Black Library.

You may possibly have already seen me spamming all over social media but afraid to say I’m not done by a long chalk!

There are no release dates just yet, but you can find out more about Sanction and Sin and all the other releases announced at Warhammerfest Online yesterday here. Follow me on social media for more news and live updates.

I’m relatively new to the Warhammer 40K universe, to say the least, but the scope, the potential for storytelling, the ‘grimdarkness’ have all been draws hovering on the edges of my awareness, like black holes, for some time. When I was given the opportunity to try my hand at fiction for the Black Library I jumped at the chance.

I have been hugely inspired by the works of my friend and established Black Library author Mike Brooks and, as I delved deeper into the underbelly of this myriad, strife-ridden universe, was delighted to find there is literally no end to the potential for delicious, dark tales of death, war, struggle, victory and everything in between.

Discovering there was such a thing as Warhammer Crime put the icing on the cake. I loved diving into the day-to-day machinations of the everyday people in this larger-than-life setting, all fighting their own wars, finding ways to thrive or just survive, mirroring the eternal cycle of victory and defeat playing out in the void all around them.

As an introduction to the world of Varangantua where Warhammer Crime stories are set, I first devoured Bloodlines by Chris Wraight (I highly recommend) and then the No Good Men anthology. These stories, along with the recommendations from Michael over at book review site Track Of Words, the tireless efforts of my Black Library editor and an awareness of a fan’s perspective shared by all my good Warhammer fan chums (you know who you are!), gave me a sturdy foundation from which to have a stab (pun intended) at my own.

Blood Ballot was the result.

I can’t describe how lucky I feel to have been given this chance. I am also well aware of how dear the Warhammer Games, books and universe are to its thousands and thousands of fans and my desire to do it justice has driven everything. It has also made the process somewhat daunting, despite all the fun I had with the actual writing. I sincerely hope my first attempt at Black Library fiction will bring pleasure and entertainment and will live up to the standard fans expect.

After all, it’s the fans that make it what it is.

If you have never heard of Games Workshop, Warhammer 40K or the Black Library, I am really not the one to introduce you. Check out the official websites and, for Black Library book reviews, there is not greater source than Mike over at Track of Words.

Thank you everyone who helped make this happen and to any and all who have already expressed interest and/or offered congratulations. Here’s hoping this may this be the beginning of something great.

Until then, may the God-Emperor watch over you.

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OUT NOW: ‘Harvey Duckman Presents – Vol 6’ Dystopian/SciFi anthology

Good morning all!

Christmas has come early! Today sees the launch of Volume 6 of Harvey Duckman Presents. This wonderful series of dark scifi/horror/dystopian short fiction features many wonderful authors and this is the second time I have been lucky enough to be featured alongside them.

My dystopian short story ‘Ash’ was published in Volume 2 and now my story ‘Foam’, a twisted fairy tale retelling, has made it into Volume 6, OUT TODAY ON AMAZON.

Treat yourself to an ebook or paperback copy today! Why not? It’s Christmas after all!

To find out more about the Harvey Duckman series, including information for hopeful writers wanting to submit for consideration in future issues, click here.

Thank you all to my fellow wonderful supportive authors and, of course, Gillie and everyone else at 6th Element publishing for making it a reality.

For information on all my other publications, short and long, see my ALL PUBLICATIONS PAGE

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Short Story ‘Foam’ to be featured in the next ‘Harvey Duckman Presents’

I’m thrilled to announce that my dystopian short story ‘Foam’ (a twisted fairytale retelling) has been honoured with a place in the next Harvey Duckman Presents – due out very soon. Watch this space for details!

These SciFi/Dystopian short story anthologies are put out by the wonderful 6th Element Publishing and you can find out more about them here. I have been lucky enough to be featured in one before – my short story ‘Ash’ made it into Vol 2. I’m beyond chuffed to be featured a second time.

Follow me on WordPress, Facebook and/or Twitter for release dates and more! Hopefully this collection will be out within the week.

Merry Christmas!

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Hi. I’m back :)

A good friend has taken the plunge and self-published her first novel. ‘Life is a lie, an outcast’s on the run. A fate I was born to but refuse to accept. I am Anahlia, angel of death incarnate, and I’m pissed. The apocalypse best fear me!’ Incarnate – out now on Amazon

The Torn Page - A K Hinchey's Writing Blog

Hello everyone. Gosh I can’t believe it’s been over five years since I’ve done a post. Well, where to start. I had another child. His name is Ashton and he’s three, the most beautiful boy in the world, and a little poop head most of the time 🙂 We’ve moved several times, which is dull but I hate moving so I thought I’d mention it 🙂

I have also been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. I’ve had a single mastectomy and chemo so I think I’ve beaten it, but I am on five years of hormone therapy just to make sure 🙂 It’s been hard, I’m not going to lie, but I fight to remain the positive, cheerful person I’ve always tried to be.

Oh, and I’ve self published my novel Incarnate. I know, a lot of you may ask why I didn’t go down the traditional route…

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Short Story – ‘Mood Lighting’

Good morning, all. And happy weekend! Hope all is well with you and yours.

As promised, here is a brand new short story. Another bittersweet SciFi/Spec ficlet, just over 1000 words. A reflection one what the future might hold, both good and bad.

Thanks for reading!

Mood Lighting

red-670-front“We’ll get an appeal. We have to. Even if we don’t, if we could at least get the lawyer to release a statement, get the word out on the networks about what’s happened…”

“Why? What’s the point?”

Angelo stared at me. Those wide, black eyes, so dark that when we first met I could see the stars in them, now bored into me like jackhammers. 

“What?” I asked wearily, rubbing the skin around the implant where it was still raw and itching, doing nothing to improve my mood.

“If you’ve even asked that question, perhaps you’re right. Maybe there is no point. Maybe there never was.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Yes it was.”

The hurt I’d caused tightened his jaw.  He’d never been any good at masking his feelings. And if I’d been in a vindictive mood I’d’ve stated that was how we’d ended up in this mess in the first place. But I wasn’t. For once. I was just tired. Tired, sore and aching with the bashes and bruises but also with the effort of not-acknowledging the pain the look on his face generated in my chest. 

“I don’t know what you want me to say. There was always a chance this would happen. Are you telling me you never prepared yourself for this?”

“I thought we would win.”

I couldn’t fight a dry smile. “Of course you did.”

Angelo turned his back to me. He leaned his forehead against the bars on the cell door and closed his eyes. I wondered if he was getting one of his migraines. 

At least that’ll shut him up for a while.

The kick of guilt I felt in response to this thought was harder than constant needling pain of our near-constant fights ever since the arrest.

“I’m sorry,” I heard myself say. He didn’t move. “I know it means nothing now. But for the record, I am sorry.”

“I don’t want you to be sorry. I want you to be angry.”

I searched about inside myself for a reaction. I knew I was disappointing us both when I found none. I kept my mouth shut.

“You just don’t care any more, do you? About any of it.”

Again I searched. Again, I came up empty. I hung my head so I wouldn’t have to meet his look. 

Silence stretched on. I shifted on the itchy blanket of the bunk and stared at the grey wall. Angelo slid to the concrete floor, rested his head against the wall. 

“It was my fight,” he said softly after such a long time I wondered if he’d finally said his last words to me. “I see that now. I want to say I’m sorry for dragging you into it. But I can’t. I still think we were right.”

I managed a shrug. “I’m not saying we weren’t right. I’m just saying we lost. And were probably always going to.”

He rubbed his temples. His lips had paled. A migraine was definitely coming. I wondered if they’d be worse now we’d both been Implanted. I checked my instinct to go to him and rub his neck where I knew it helped. I didn’t examine the hesitation too closely to find out whether it was because I didn’t want to or because I didn’t think he would welcome it. Deep down I knew it was a bit of both.

“If no one speaks up, people like Richmond will be able to carry on doing whatever they want, no matter how it hurts people. Destroys lives. Divides families.”

“People like Richmond will always get away with it,” I murmured after a while. “They have the money. The lawyers. The clout.”

“We had a lawyer.” I wrinkled my nose and was gratified to see a grey smile brighten Angelo’s face a moment. “Ok, yeah. So he wasn’t great. But his heart was in the right place.”

“Heart gets you nowhere in this world.”

Angelo looked around us at the grey walls, the strip lighting, the single, blinking red eye of a camera in the corner. “It got us here.”

“I thought that was my point.”

“You have so many points these days, Cheri. It’s hard to keep track.”

I picked at a snagged fingernail. The bruises across my knuckles were starting to heal. The cuts didn’t sting so much. The the implant still pulsed angrily into my skull but the discomfort had already eased since the morning. Soon I wouldn’t even be aware it was there. Just like they wanted. “I thought my point was there was no point.”

Angelo sighed and closed his eyes again, a line forming between his brows. His shoulders had come up and his neck muscles were taught. I kept quiet, knowing any further attempt at talking was not only genuinely pointless but would ratchet up the severity of his headache. I glanced at the wall chorno and was relieved to see it would still be several hours before they crashed the door open to dump dinner trays on the plastic table. We still had the time and space to hurt.

I stretched out on the bunk and stared at the white ceiling. I didn’t close my eyes. Exhausted as I was I knew I wouldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to see the scenes from the day before playing out on the inside of my eyelids. Not again. Not so soon. Neither did I want to think what life would be like from now on, in here or out there, now my thoughts, feelings, physical stats and sensations were being logged on a server somewhere for behaviourists to analyse.

“Richmond got into power because he has money,” Angelo croaked a few minutes later. “He had the money to push his Implant technology onto the open market. Richmond isn’t rotting in this cell instead of us because he had the money for better advertising and a better lawyer. When did it all come down to money, Cheri?”

“Do you really want an answer to that?” He cracked open one of his dark eyes. I sighed. “It’s always been, my love. It probably always will be.”

“If you always thought that, why did you join me? If you really believed it was hopeless, why fight at all?”

“Because it was your fight. And it was important to you.”

Angelo raised his head. His face was tight with the internal thunder of the gathering headache but his look was clear, empty of the anger and hurt that had sharpened it over the last months. He looked like himself again.

He climbed up onto the bunk next to me, moving stiffly like someone whose limbs were strung with wire. The flashing light behind his ear from his cranial implant was a moody red, indicating that his physical state was unsettled even if his mental was calming. He put a hand, bruised and bloodied as my own, onto my arm. The weight of it sent a warm rush through my body and I felt a tingle behind my ear as my own implant flashed from amber to green. The camera in the corner whirred, the monitoring systems no doubt alerted to our change in mood by the Implant transmissions. But Angelo just sat there, eyes closed, one hand resting on my forearm whilst the other propped up his chin like his head was too heavy to hold itself up.

I covered his hand in my own. His light eased to amber and his shoulders loosened. We sat there in silence. We didn’t move even when they brought food. The lights went out as night came in but we still sat, hands entwined, until our pulses gradually adjusted to beat in time with our Implant lights now flashing green into the darkness. 

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Checking In

Good morning, everyone.

Just a quick one this morning. Know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my WordPress, but I wanted to assure you that this is not an indicator of nothing happening. I’m (as usual) tackling a number of varied projects at once and, what’s very exciting, making photo-1434030216411-0b793f4b4173some progress with getting them released. However, stages are still early and the publishing industry is a slow-moving beast and, naturally, things are taking longer at the moment.

Be assured, there are stories being written and steps being made to getting the published. As soon as I have concrete news on it all, you will be the first to know.

For those who follow the blog, thank you for sticking with me. Don’t forget I have a juicy backlog of Short and Flash Fiction available for free on here should you wish to indulge. If you prefer your updates more real-time and are a fan of all things SciFi, writing and (invariably) cats, feel free to follow me on Facebookand Twitter.

Also a huge thank you to everyone that commented, shared or ordered books as a result of my ‘Shameless Self Promotion Saturday’ post at the weekend. I was really touched and more pleased than I can say to find out how many of you out there enjoyed the Orbit Series.

(As a side note, these are all available on Amazon as paperback or Kindle, or you can order signed paperbacks direct from me. See the post for more details and/or message me on my Facebook page)

As a thank you I have a new, super-short piece of dystopian fiction ‘Mood Lighting’ that I’ll share this weekend to tide everyone over as well.

I hope everyone is bearing up in these continued unusual times. I hope you, like me, are able to be comforted by those familiar fictional worlds we have enjoyed in book, TV and film form all our lives, those that continue to stick with us, good times and bad. My ultimate joy is creating my own in the hopes they may provide similar joy to others in the future and the process of creating them continues, no matter what is happening in the real world.

Keep trucking, friends. Peace out.

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Red Sky at Night

Greetings all. I hope we are managing to stay safe and sane in these continuing, confusing and sometimes-unsettling times. One of the many things I’ve been doing with the extra time is going back through old or unfinished short stories with a view to potentially curating and self-releasing a spec fiction anthology (working title Another Way To See – to include some old faves but also some shiny, new and/or previously unreleased shorts. Watch this space)

In the process of doing this I stumbled across this little contemplative piece that I, at first, had no recollection of writing. Turns out I wrote it years ago, 2013 I believe, based on the experience a friend of mine had visiting Lake Bodom in Finland. The way he spoke about it and how unsettling it had been really stuck with me and I must have felt compelled to set it down in words.

It is fictionalised and I have taken some artistic liberties with the description of the lighting (it is actually midsummer when Finland barely gets any night, not midwinter) but still an interesting exercise in contemplating whether the true nature of a place is defined by what you bring with you.

If you are unaware of the tragic and harrowing history of this particular location, you can read about it here. Not for the faint-hearted.

I won’t say ‘enjoy’ like I normally would, but I hope you find reading it interesting.

 

Red Sky at Night

584241-gettyimages-1138854537Looking back I could no longer see the road or the single lamp post that passed as the bus stop. There had been no other headlights or engine noise since the bus had coughed its way onwards without me. I paused, staring along the path with the breeze fingering the back of my neck, took a breath and carried on. 

Even with a breeze, nothing, not even the fingers of the pines, seemed to be moving. The skuds of snow gathered along the edge of the path were frozen solid, unlike in the city where the scraps loosed by ploughs whirled across your path like dancers in a waltz. I shivered, not just from the cold, and wondered again why I’d come.

‘When in Rome,’ I muttered to myself, partly just for the sake of making a noise. But the smallness of the sound just drew more attention to the silence. It was a quality of quiet I’d never known before, like the very air was empty.

I should have waited until morning. But the thought of the late train and night bus had been too intriguing to pass up. At least, at the time it had. Now it had gone eleven pm and the sun still hadn’t set and the dying light painted everything a rusty colour: a colour like drying blood. Dramatic, maybe, but I knew I wasn’t imagining it, despite everything else I seemed to be conjuring up to populate the laden shadows. 

I trudged on, boots crunching through the frozen grass, pulling my scarf up around my nose and watching my breath fog in the strained air. The trees ended just ahead. I’d come this far. I at least had to get down to the water. 

I watched my boots rather than look ahead as the path tumbled down the last few crunchy feet, only looking up when I stood at the edge of the black water. I pulled my phone out of my pocket but didn’t raise it to take a picture. I swallowed, trying to shake the feeling of being watched. It was just a lake. Sure, the light was odd and it was quiet. But that was it. It was just water.

And history. And silence.

I gazed across the dark water, feeling a chill I could almost see. I thought back to the Scottish lochs I’d biked around, the coasts of the islands in the North Sea I’d explored, walking the edges of Lutvaan in Oslo and tried to make myself see Bodom as I had seen them. But whether it was because of what I knew or whether it was because the place genuinely felt…loaded….I couldn’t. I fiddled with my phone but no longer wanted a picture.

The night bus wasn’t due to make its return journey to the train station for at least another hour, assuming I’d read the timetable right, so I wandered along the shoreline watching the light redden and the water not-ripple. I picked up a stone to throw, almost desperate for movement, but then ended up throwing it back into the trees. I paused at every clearing, looking around at the shadowy spaces and wondering whether I was there. 

I managed another half hour of silent trudging before stopping still, looking along the winding path that stretched into the rust-coloured light and decided I’d seen enough. I cut up through the woods rather than turning back down the path with its view across the water to a thousand other shadows clustered between the trees that might or might not be the place. But even with my back to the water I could still feel it, lying deep and silent and black behind me. 

It was a relief to escape to the shadows strung between the trees. I told myself the darkness would feel more natural, more like the nights I was used to. But the hope evaporated the further in I moved. It was close to midnight but it was still light enough to see, even if this light was old and grey. Weary, almost. 

I made out a break in the trees and went towards it, hoping I’d found a cut-through to the road but five paces later I stopped, heart thudding in my chest.

I turned but of course everything was empty and still. I swallowed. Not only was I creating feelings but now I was making myself hear sounds. I carried on and if I hurried a little faster up the hill, I told myself it was only because of the cold.

The tree break wasn’t the road, just a cleared space with along an overgrown track. I stepped out into the perpetual sunset and made myself take a picture. I told myself it was just a place, after all. The light wasn’t good. The picture was grainy. But as I looked at it on the screen, perfectly capturing the ruddy, stained colour of the air, I suppressed another shudder.

I followed the track uphill, hoping it lead back toward the road and hoping more that I had imagined everything.

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