CAROLE JOHNSTONE

British Fantasy Award Winner 2014; 3x British Fantasy Award Nominee

Friday, 28 August 2009

Excerpts & Free Fiction


Excerpt from Blood Soup by
© Kelly A. Harmon:

Theodicar looked down at the mewling infant in his arms, and felt the anger rise up. Even in death his wife defied him, the nurse ensuring her success. Women did not rule. He would not allow it. They had created a male child, and that child would take the throne upon his death. “You can save the boy,” he said to Salvagia.
She slitted her eyes at him, her stare mutinous. Her words were loud and hard in the wake of Pia’s death. “I have the power to save one at the expense of the other, Sire. The girl is stronger. And eldest. She was born to rule.”
Theodicar watched the girl curl up in his arms, her birth fluids staining a brown patch on the dyed-yellow wool of his tunic. She burrowed into the crook of his elbow, trying to achieve the comfort of the womb.
“I will not hear those words again,” he said. “That absurd idea died with my wife. My son will rule.” He reached for the boy, thrusting the girl child back into the nurse’s hands. “There’s no need for a daughter. And no need for anyone to know of her.”
“So be it,” Salvagia said, wrapping the weary girl in a square of wool, covering her face. She reached for her basket.
“Kill her now,” said Theodicar.
Salvagia looked stricken.
“Sire, if we kill her now, she will be of no use to her brother. Once dead, the blood won’t flow, and we need her blood to strengthen his.
“Then drain her now,” he snapped. “I will not have her crying out when we call the witnesses back to cut the boy’s cord.”
She paled, but nodded, and grabbed the necessary implements from her basket. She did the job quickly, tears streaming down her face. To keep it warm, Salvagia set the flask of blood in the ashes at the edge of the hearth. Then she wrapped the tiny body in linen and shoved it deep into her basket.
“Your life is forfeit if you speak a word of this to anyone,” Theodicar said. “Do you understand?” She nodded, pushing the basket out of view.
He sat down in his chair. “Call the witnesses back. We’ll sever the cord in their presence to prove the succession. Wipe those tears,” he said.




Excerpt from
Frenzy:

It took too many attempts to grab hold of the sinking pack. And he looked too far down into what was beneath it. There were fish: hundreds of them. Thousands of them. And where the depths grew too dark, there was only the vertiginous threat of the unknown. He couldn’t see the bottom. What might have been worse was that he had expected to.

And then suddenly there was something else: some terrible tremble in his mind. A black plain that moved across it – through it. Beside him. A keening scream that wormed loose of its restraints, opening his throat to the viscous dark even as it propelled him upwards. Back toward the sun-dappled surface.

He broke through with a gargled cry that swiftly became a hacking cough. The safety pack dragging hard at his aching arm, he saw thrashing bodies and the black underbelly of the raft. While some pulled and pushed at it, most flailed in shouted panic. He saw one of them dive down and surface perhaps as much as a dozen times. Only when the raft righted itself with an almighty slap did he recognise the diver as Donnie, his shaven head swallowed by the raft’s belly before he was able to swim backwards out of its reach.

Pete struggled back to the raft in an ungainly crawl, hauling pack and lifejacket behind, trying to forget what his mind had seen. Trying to forget the sucking black that had tried to split it apart. He managed to clamber back into his pocket at the third attempt. By then, he had already forgotten. The worst of it at least, and that was all that mattered.


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