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Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal – Helen French

Metaphorosis January 2019Alone in a badly-lit corridor in the still of night, Leora wondered if she’d made a terrible mistake.

She’d stolen what she’d broken into Namose College to steal and yet it felt like everything was on the verge of going wrong.

Nothing good had ever happened to her in this vile magician’s den, that was true. But she was halfway out of the building. Victory, of a sort, was hers.

And yet… There was something wrong with the air. It didn’t smell right.

She carried on towards the way out. Now and then she stopped, sure she’d heard a noise, that someone would discover her trespassing at any moment.

Eventually, she came to a set of doors that were not her exit but instead an entrance to the stairwell, leading both up to the higher floors of the college, and down into the basement. Tendrils of smoke crept out from underneath the doors.

She pushed one open out of curiosity, only to find another person on the other side of it, slowly coming up the stairs.

They both paused.

The man opposite looked like a student, who ought to know in an instant that she was a fraud and sound the alarm for intruders…

Keep reading“Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal – Helen French”

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Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal – Helen French
Alone in a badly-lit corridor in the still of night, Leora wondered if she’d made a terrible mistake. She’d stolen what she’d broken into Namose College to steal and yet it felt like everything was on the verge of going wrong. Nothing good had ever happened to her in this vile magician’s den, that was true. But she was halfway out of the building. Victory, of a sort, was hers. And yet… There was something …
Read it "Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal – Helen French"
Five Star Review – Alyssa N. Vaughn
“We need to get serious about losing weight.” my mother says as she tosses the empty pizza boxes next to the recycling bin. “I beg your pardon?” I manage to sputter, following behind her to break the boxes down into smaller pieces that will actually fit inside the bin. My toddler, Johnny, is in bed already, but my mother insists that we have “girl time” at the end of each one of her unannounced visits. …
Read it "Five Star Review – Alyssa N. Vaughn"
The Book of Regrets – M.J. Gardner
Christmas Eve, 2014, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada When Craig came into the living room with two steaming mugs of hot mulled cider, Adam had already moved the small pile of Christmas gifts from under the tree to the ottoman that doubled as a coffee table. The room smelled of wood smoke and pine and now cinnamon and apples. A two-storey window showed the deep blue Lake silvered by the moon under a black sky. The moon, …
Read it "The Book of Regrets – M.J. Gardner"
Cinders and Snow – Kathryn Yelinek
The prince was old before his time. Candlelight from ballroom chandeliers softened the gray in his hair. He whirled yet another eligible young lady through a minuet, his movements practiced and sure, but he limped, round-shouldered. He was not yet twenty-five. “The hall looks so elegant,” the lady simpered between steps. “Like a winter wonderland.” “My mother’s idea.” Roderick smiled because he should. “She knew a ball would melt the midwinter cold.” The queen mother …
Read it "Cinders and Snow – Kathryn Yelinek"

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Five Star Review – Alyssa N. Vaughn

“We need to get serious about losing weight.” my mother says as she tosses the empty pizza boxes next to the recycling bin. “I beg your pardon?” I manage to sputter, following behind her to break the boxes down into smaller pieces that will actually fit inside the bin. My toddler, Johnny, is in bed already, but my mother insists that we have “girl time” at the end of each one of her unannounced visits. …

It came from C. Heidmann

C. Heidmann’s story “Time’s Arrow” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 6 July 2018. A typical what-if moment inspired this story. What if aliens came along and made actual resurrection from the dead possible? Aliens are, for me, the ultimate mystery and I strove to keep them mysterious in this story. If they are technologically advanced, they could be capable of anything—up to and including resurrecting our dead, and without necessarily explaining their motivations. —What …

A question for Helen French

Q: What’s easier for you – imagining a happier world, or a darker one?

A: It’s easier for me to imagine a darker world – but I’d much rather imagine a happier one. I like my stories, whether I’m writing or reading them, to have at least a glimmer of hope within them, though that can be tough in the very shortest of shorts.

I enjoy all sorts of fiction, and I don’t shy away from exploring dark worlds. But I think that even the darkest, grimmest landscape can contain moments of joy or happiness or kindness.

Isn’t that what we see all around us? Yes, there are lots of horrible things going on in the world, and it sometimes feels like nothing but doom and gloom, but when it comes both fiction and real life I like to hope there’s a chance that tomorrow will be a better day. Or that if it isn’t, I will find joy in a small part of it.

Writing a happier world can be tough – is such a world going to be solid and believable? Not everything can be fixed. But writing happy moments is usually achievable, though they may not suit every story.

Writing darkness is usually easier, I just don’t want to linger in it for too long.


Helen French’s story “Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 18 January 2019.
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About Setsu Uzumé

Setsu Uzume is the host and assistant editor at PodCastle, and they are a member of Codex and SFWA. Setsu writes and occasionally narrates dark fantasy. They are taking a break from sword work to study horseback archery. While they have dabbled in many arts, only writing and martial arts seem to have stuck.

katanapen.wordpress.com, @KatanaPen


Setsu Uzumé’s story “Snapped Dry, Scraped Clean”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 25 January 2019.
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The Book of Regrets – M.J. Gardner

Christmas Eve, 2014, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada When Craig came into the living room with two steaming mugs of hot mulled cider, Adam had already moved the small pile of Christmas gifts from under the tree to the ottoman that doubled as a coffee table. The room smelled of wood smoke and pine and now cinnamon and apples. A two-storey window showed the deep blue Lake silvered by the moon under a black sky. The moon, …