For the last six months, I’ve been working (very slowly) to outline and draft a collection of short horror stories to publish on Kindle Vella. Think in the vein of Stephen King’s If It Bleeds, Joe Hill’s Full Throttle, and Netflix’s Love Death & Robots: haunting stories told with (relative) brevity.
Yesterday, the first four episodes finally dropped! You can read the first three for FREE, including all of Wildwood. I hope you’ll give them a try! If you read and love them, give them a thumbs up on Vella. If you really love them, consider sharing the link with a horror-loving friend or leaving me a review! Thanks, friends!
The child shuffles through fallen leaves, the rustling punctuated by hiccupping sobs. Her arms are bare, twin branches clutching a limp cloth rabbit. In the undergrowth, the real rabbits and other Trembling Ones hide, instinct running them to ground, though she poses no threat.
Her hair was a golden halo of curls when she first stepped into our shade, the sun dappling her head like a fawn. In just a few short hours the wild has claimed her: twigs and mud crown her now, and her once mushroom-pale skin is marred with grime and blood-stitched scratches where brambles have bitten her. We feel each one on our own bark, and the connection unsettles us. Many generations have passed since we broke fellowship with the Short Lived, severed the tie that joined us together. To sense the Bond again in this child, weak as it is, alarms us. This should not be possible.
She pauses by low brush laden with glossy scarlet berries, hunger writhing in her belly. Indecision and greed war on her small face. We do not warn her, though our branches grow still as she reaches, grasps a berry. She chews, a burst of juice dripping bright down her chin. Another berry, and another. Many more and she will stay with us forever, her flesh feeding beetle and bird. We stand silent.
A flash of black wings swoops low overhead; a rasping cry breaks our stillness: a warning for her, a reprimand for us. We are unmoved, but the child cowers, her feet sliding on a compost of leaves, carrying her away from sweet, red death. Her belly will hurt, her body burn, but she will not die–not yet.