Happy Birthday, Clandestine originally appeared in Alien Skin Magazine.
Happy Birthday, Clandestine
He led her down the rough, pine board stairs. A spicy mixture of herbs, incense, and old dirt perfumed the air.
“What have you gone and done this time?” She squeezed the arm of her shaman lover, anxious for the surprise he promised.
“I hope you will like it.” He stroked the length of her chestnut tresses and she shivered.
Her bare feet touched the cool, earthen floor, and she fiddled with the black silk blindfold, willing him to take it off with her eager thoughts. “I’m sure I will.”
A humming, thick and low, poured up through the terra firma and into her feet.
“Have you modified it?” She cocked her head and listened while he removed the scarf from her eyes.
“I bought a new one for your birthday.”
He kissed her forehead and the loose skin there moved beneath the motion of his lips. She pushed him away with a half-hearted hand. The decay of her flesh disturbed Clandestine.
“Oh,” her sadness dashed as her eyes focused, “you painted it.” She kissed him. “How thoughtful, darling.” Running her hand along the length of the freezer, she admired its fresh ebony surface. “It is beautiful.” He’d added golden moons with passive faces, and stars as well.
The shaman wrapped his arms around her waist, and a bit of inner meat pulled free from her ribs. “I’m glad you like it.”
Freeing herself of his touch (it only renewed the memory of her death and impatience), she turned and cupped his face. “I’ll sleep like a queen.”
His smile held melancholy as he took her hands in his. “Shall we open it then?”
She sighed, and a hollowness in her chest argued with her need for regeneration.
“Yes.” Bending her head, she kissed the tips of his fingers. “I think it’s time.”
He moved in front of her and peeled the lid back. A gust of wet, frozen air lifted and brushed against her face.
“I am … a year older.” Coming closer, she wrapped her fingers around the lip of her chamber and stared down at the bed of waiting ice.
He nodded, and she noticed the tears he would not shed.
“It means a year longer,” he closed his eyes and took a breath before he continued, “spent in slumber.”
She knew he was trying to hide the pain from her — such a bittersweet arrangement they had.
“I know.” Kissing the point of his hawkish nose, she left a bit of rosy-lip-turned-grey on the tip of his aristocratic profile. She tried to wipe it off, but he stopped her.
“Leave it, please?” His voice wavered enough to break her sluggish heart.
He helped her into the resurrection tank and she settled into a comfortable position. He zippered her into the body bag quilt, tucking the metal tab securely under her chin.
“It will seem like only a day.”
“Yes.” He laughed sadly, while he traced the hole in her cheek with a slow, lingering finger. “Only a day.” The lazy circles he made tickled her exposed jawbone.
“I’ll dream myself as a redhead this time.” She grinned and closed her eyes, unable to keep them open a moment longer. “Would you like that?”
“Very much.” The darkness behind her eyelids deepened as the lid descended. “Happy Birthday, Clandestine.”
Copyright 2004 – 2016 Louise Bohmer. All rights reserved.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ben Eads recently for his Cracked Sky blog tour, and I’ll be writing a review of Ben’s debut novel later this month. It’s a great read I highly recommend you check out. Interview and buy links below. Be sure to drop by Ben’s site and pay him a visit also: http://beneadsfiction.com/
Ben Eads Interview
LB: What did you find was your biggest challenge when you started editing?
BE: Finding the best way of expressing to the author their options to fix a character’s motivation, development or whatever may be lacking. Also, being capable of giving them good examples. Some issues could be surgical and some may be larger. I love helping out my comrades-in-arms with critiques, edits, etc… I love the community and everyone pays it forward. We’re all in this together.
LB: What particular books and authors inspired you when writing Cracked Sky?
BE: I avoided reading while writing Cracked Sky. I didn’t want anything spilling out or imitating a “voice” sub-consciously. Whether I like it or not—ha!—I can’t ignore the influence of Lovecraft, Machen, Borgis, Philip K. Dick, Barker, Gaiman, etc… I think Barker’s The Great and Secret Show was the book I kept reminding myself of and the emotions it evoked. I’ll never forget that one.
LB: I’m a sucker for books that involve other dimensions. What drew you to this topic for Cracked Sky?
BE: Once the “movie-trailer” for Cracked Sky played in my head, I knew that death was not the end for this poor, four-year-old girl. Her parents have a heart-rending journey, and there is very little light at the end of that dark tunnel. Also, given the weight of the character’s emotions, it really wrote itself and went into that territory by necessity. I sincerely want to crank the reader’s imagination up as high as I can while connecting all the dots. It’s the kind of fiction I like to read and write. Sure, I’ve written some horror stories bereft the supernatural, but I’ll always try and push reader’s imaginations to new levels. Keyword being try. Ha!
LB: Your antagonist, Darrell, reminded me somewhat of Pennywise. What antagonists provided inspiration for creating Darrell?
BE: Pennywise is one of my all-time favorite creatures! King knocked that one out of the park. For Darrell, I really looked at the human condition itself, in extremis. The old phrase: One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, kept coming to mind. Hitler, Pot, Stalin or any real-life monster never viewed themselves as evil. Quite the opposite. These are people that found a way to justify their atrocities and believed in them whole-heartedly. Once someone loses their faith in humanity, especially due to a great loss, like that of a child, they may be capable of carrying out all manner of discord. Sadly, we see things similar to this on television all the time. Darrell is the best example of what could happen to anyone, should the proper stimulus exist.
LB: Describe the difference between wearing the editor’s hat and the writer’s hat?
BE: Night and day! When I wear the writer’s hat, it’s my world and my characters I’m creating. When I wear the editor’s hat, it’s all about making the story better. For me, it’s easier to beta-read and edit another’s work because I’m objective to it. It’s more difficult for me to see faults in my work because I’m subjective. We all need editors!
Grab Cracked Sky now at Amazon!
I meant to blog this days ago, but life has a way of happening. So thanks again to Milo James Fowler for interviewing me about Unsuper Translator, my story in Superpow. And if you head over and read it, you can enter to win this fine anthology! Link below:
I’m a little late blogging this, but Superpow is now available from e-junkie, Smashwords, and Amazon, and it’s coming soon to BN and Apple! Details taken from the Superpow site below. And you can read an excerpt from my story in this fine anthology, Unsuper Translator, here.
Cover Art by Astro
Cover Design by Amanda Pillar
Bang, crash, pow!–oh, but there’s so much more to the superpowered characters these Red Penny Papers alumni have created in Superpow. Our cover heroes come from two new pulptastic superhero novellas from Corinne Duyvis’s Pantheress, one of the rogue heroes of Sigma City, and William Vitka’s Ruben, trying to make a new life in a world where everyone has ‘funny’ powers… except for him. And these two are just the beginning of the villains, heroes, and observers waiting in the pages of Superpow. With a diverse cast of characters and a new spin on pulp fiction, his isn’t your mama’s superpowered storytime, either.
Table of Contents:
The Masks of Sigma City – Corinne Duyvis
Leather Boy v. The Zombie Horde – Fox Lee
Birthplace Revisited – Edward Morris
Lighting Time and the Time of Thunder – Alexandra Seidel
Autumn of the Greatest – Alan Baxter
Free, Proud, Imbued with Liberty – John Medaille
Starlight – Milo James Fowler
Ice Child – Alexandra Seidel
Unsuper Translator – Louise Bohmer
Portrait of a Better Man – Jocelyn Adams
Bruiser – William Vitka
Superpow is the first and only fiction The Red Penny Papers has ever charged for. So apart from just being a gorgeous collection of superhero pulp short fiction and poetry, it’s a great way to help us a little around the house. All e-versions are $5.99, and all the money goes to the mag.
Buy your copy from…
B&N • Apple
and in print!