I’m kind of lost when it comes to pursuing publishing anymore. For the time being, I’m just going to write for myself with no further intentions to publish. I can’t seem to get anything to work, and I’ve lost hope for succeeding after trying just about everything. Maybe at a later date I’ll try again. For now, the pile of rejections will be a reminder I have to figure out what to do to improve.
With that said, I’m going to keep writing for myself like I used to. This is from a book that started as a short story, and it’s in the same universe as another of my books, Everything Is Wonderful Now. It’s called Vexis, and this is from the last part I wrote. The cover art was drawn by myself.
The toddler tossed and turned in her sleep. As far as she was concerned, she was stuck in a wintry landscape with a growing, howling wind eating away at her sanity. Nothing but dead trees lined the landscape, and she didn’t have anything to comfort her or keep her warm. Her silk blanket was nowhere to be found, and her little lamb that played music was missing. There was a note pinned to the tree before her, but she couldn’t read. She barely knew what was happening other than the fact that she was lost.
Vex slipped out from behind the tree and ripped the note from its trunk. Sinister red eyes formed in the hollow. “Hello, little one,” Vex soothed. “I hope you enjoy my memories, as horrific as they were.” They paused and looked down to see the child had sunk to her knees, shivering. She stared wide-eyed at Vex, who took pride in her fear. Interesting. It had been the one thing she retained from her time near death. Fear. And she would live with a fear of everything for the rest of her life, no doubt.
The child blurted a cry — a near scream. Vex glanced at the note and then moved to drop down beside the child in the snow. They placed an arm around her, feigning a moment of comfort and trust. “You can’t read yet, but this note was left for you. You’ll find it again when you’re older. It explains a lot you won’t understand for now, if you ever do.” Vex showed the note to the shivering child. “It’s out here, in the cold. You’re lost in the snow, and it’s where you will remain.”
Vex rubbed the child’s back and stood, setting the note in the cavity of the tree. It was time for her to wake up, although their meddling would have a negative effect on the process. Vex smiled. This was the start.
The wintry world flickered as the child regained consciousness, and Vex sunk back into the old library. Other rooms had begun to form inside the child’s mind, but nothing much was in them yet. One of them would be her prison — a place for the ghost Vex would slowly coax out of her until she became someone else. Someone Vex carefully molded.
Vex watched as the child sat up in her bed, mumbling and yelling with her eyes wide open while seeing nothing. Her mother and father rushed in to console her, but the night terror had already progressed. The dead trees scattered about her room, and red eyes emerged from all of them. Her bedroom — a place of safety — had become the nightmare itself through hallucination. Vex found it interesting in the way humans could experience dreams and nightmares in the waking world too, and it reminded them of the last life they lived while a void walker among dreams.
The child devolved into a panic attack that shook the dust in the library Vex resided in. Rushed thoughts of danger in the form of images instead of words flooded the headspace, and Vex watched them swirl with delight. “Yes, all of these things could happen to you. So many horrible things. It’s why you should leave this life to me. I know how to deal with such horrible things, and I can keep you safe.”
©2021 Shane Blackheart