For those of you who like your fiction bleak, this week’s story is a real no-hoper.
It’s also available online at Fantasy Magazine.
I’d call this story “mythical,” both in the subject matter it treats and the rhythm in which it is told.
A woman wades through a river of corpses to escape her war-torn province. Safe on the farther shore, she buries her hardened heart at the crossroads, leaving behind the scenes she has lived through. The people of the new province suspect she is a sorceress, but she refuses to perform spells or make charms. She marries the town’s executioner and bears him two children. Life goes on.
Until. Until the execution of a young boy is botched and his body must be buried at the crossroads with a stake through the heart, to prevent him rising from the dead. Soon the town’s cattle are spooked and the hens are laying hollow eggs. At night, the woman hears the iron drumming of her heart, calling to her from underground. Her heart, iron-hard and throbbing, is leading the vampire right to her door. After all the woman has been through, it is not the vampire that worries her, but her own heart. This isn’t how it ends, of course, but it’s all I’m going to tell you.
I chose this story because Von is in a writing group with me, and I really look forward to the days when we do her stories, so I wanted to read a story by her in its final clothing. After I read it, I asked her a little about writing it, and she said that the ending had been changed; originally it was more depressing. I’m not sure how that’s possible.
I really enjoyed this story. I thought it was well-written, and quite haunting. The drum-heart is chilling, all of the minor details ring true. I love that the province is called ‘Nuncia’. That’s a perfect name. I want to name a country that. (But I don’t think I want to visit).