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Halloween

In our build-up to Halloween 2021 – a time of the year that we at Edgeverse traditionally don’t give a shit about – we decided to publish a series of short stories that take traditional horror elements and give them a wobbly new spin.
We enjoyed writing these stories so much that we created a whole new collected work centred around them, titled, ‘The Bad Place.’
If slightly off-kilter horror is your cup of tea then why not take a dive into the absolutely free world of the weird and macabre world of our darkest writing?

The Circle of Life

By - Seth Godkinson

I always hated funerals too when I was your age. Not all that keen on them now, if I’m being perfectly honest.

I was 2 when my dad died—too young to even remember the funeral, just the feeling of profound emptiness when it was all over. How’s a 2 year old supposed to process that, to understand what any of it all means?

My mum was a different story. I was 5 or 6 when she left my gran and me to our own devices. My gran grew up in the late 1800s, and was a spiritualist of some kind, though she kept it mostly to herself. Mostly… I remember after the funeral she was putting me to bed and she told me that, if I wake up in the night and see my mum standing over me, that it’s nothing to be scared of.

Nothing to be scared of?! I don’t think I slept for over a month! The thought of it still terrifies me now. I couldn’t imagine a worse thing to tell a child of that age, especially the night of their own mum’s funeral!

But I guess things were different then. Death was just an everyday thing and we had to accept it. I had friends in those days who had 5 or 6 brothers and sisters, some with more on the way. I’d ask their parents, why do you have so many children?

“There used to be a lot more,” they’d answer.

I never really understood that at the time, but as a baby—an only child—my own parents probably worried about me too, about whether or not I’d survive.

I guess the joke was on them!

But it’s not like I got away completely unscathed. I lost a perfectly good eye to polio as a kid, and I got off lucky! Aunt Ellen at number 5 lost both. She got to grow up never really understanding what people meant when they talked about the sky.

She did alright for herself though: when Hannah and Gerald were kids, she used to tie bells to their clothes so she could hear where they were. We could hear them coming all the way down the road, so we’d all hide in somebody’s front garden and jump out at them when they came past. They never really seemed to find it that funny, which is probably why we kept doing it.

The people next door—I can’t remember their names now. They had two kids, both died in their 20s within 5 or 6 months of each other. One was a heart attack, the other… I’m not sure. She’d already moved out by then.

They moved away too soon after. Can’t say I blame them.

Death is just a part of life we have to accept.

 

Now look, I know the past few months have been tough—on you, especially. Your mum said a lot of very spiteful, hurtful things to you. I know that sometimes you went and hid in your room and cried your eyes out. Other times you’d get so angry you’d wish she’d just die already, and then hate yourself afterwards—really, don’t beat yourself up over it; don’t do that to yourself.

You need to understand that wasn’t really your mum. Her sickness had gotten into her head and kind of taken over. It was like an evil spirit was talking through her.

That’s all gone now though. Your real mum, the one that passed over to the other side… she’s the loving, caring mum you always knew from before. That’s the one you need to hold on to.

I still remember her as a child, around 5 or 6, she was the sweetest little girl you could imagine. I was very proud of the smart, resourceful and thoughtful woman she grew up to be too.

Until she met your father, that is.

I always had him pegged as a deadbeat—thought he’d lead her astray. Turns out she was stronger than I gave her credit, and she quickly knocked him into shape.

It wasn’t until you came along that things really started to change though.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man…

It wasn’t overnight, but little by little he started to turn things around, so he could become the dad you need him to be. He quit smoking, cut down on drinking… I don’t think he went out to meet any of his friends until after your 2nd birthday, and even then he was home by half past 9!

Looking back on how he was before, I don’t think you’d recognise him. I don’t think he would either…

 

You know, I think the two of you are going to be alright. Your mum has nothing to worry about there, but it doesn’t mean we won’t all miss her.

She’ll miss you too, more than anything!

When you were a baby, every time you learned a new skill, to do something you couldn’t do before, her joy was always tinted by sadness. She’d tell me she didn’t want to watch you grow up because day by day, little by little, the baby she brought into the world was disappearing right before her eyes.

I guess now the joke’s on her.

But you know she’ll never stop caring for you. Every night when you go to sleep, you know she’s going to be in there, standing over you, making sure you’re alright.

Who knows, maybe you’ll wake up in the night and see her.

 

Well, it’s getting late now. Goodnight little one, sweet dreams!

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