The Promise: a grimdark dystopian short story

The Promise

a Short Story by Jessa Forest

Download your free PDF version of this story here.

Disclaimer: this story contains the death of a child and detailed descriptions of sickness and gore. Please read responsibly.

When I woke it was not from sleep but a dreamless poison. The fog was thick when we stopped and it must have crept in and thickened when we were too weak to stand or notice, too weak to get away; smothering us like an insidious, sentient tide, all cold hunger and keen thirst.

Barrow, lying next to me, did not rise and never would again. Her younger brother, Potter, whimpered softly in the cold crook of her arm.

“Pyre,” Coffin’s choked, coughing voice floated above me like sunshine above a storm. “Can you walk, Pyre?”

Continue reading “The Promise: a grimdark dystopian short story”

The Librarian: a dark fantasy short story

The Librarian

a Short Story by Jessa Forest

Download your free PDF version here.

The big table makes you look smaller than you are. Like a little morsel, a macaroon, a petit four alone on a dinner plate. You twitch, fidget. You curl your spine protectively over your phone screen despite the towers of books that surround you. Ponderous tombs of science, philosophy, and madness.

The World Atlas Extraordinaire sits on a stand older than this building next to you, propped open to the Pacific Islands, resplendently corralled by the cartography of the currents, dancing whorls of sacred scarification.

Each time the door slides open your eyes dart around in your skill like scared rabbits. You’re looking toward the door now; the shining glass, the herald of the morning sun. You are waiting for someone.

Continue reading “The Librarian: a dark fantasy short story”

Namaste Apocalypse: a zombie/yoga short story

Namaste Apocalypse

a Short Story by Jessa Forest

If you’re interested, you can download a free PDF of this story right here.

And now…bring your attention back to the present moment and sit up whenever you are ready. Next time you feel inspired to practice this sequence, consider going out barefoot and dancing under the bounty of the full moon or the light the sun shines down to us through her divinebeauteousness,” the soft breathy, melodious monotone of Lucky’s husband’s voice made me want to puke in my mouth.

From Corpse Pose, with all my attention glued to the creaking of my ribcage as my bones and cartilage moved with my breath, I felt irritation looming up like a malevolent zombie hoard.

You try going out barefoot and doing yoga on the rocks and spilled blood you stupid rhododendron, I thought.

When I was little my mom told me to substitute every bad word with the name of a flower. When you get a tranquility lecture from someone who never had to leave the confines of his wife’s meticulously manicured yoga studio and spa attachment and had no realistic grasp of what the word apocalypse actually meant, you can’t help being slightly prickly.

Continue reading “Namaste Apocalypse: a zombie/yoga short story”

Research Road Trip: Queen Whilamena State Park

(I’ve edited and re-published this post from last year because I wanted to add more pictures and remember a fun road trip while I am sheltering in place. I hope all of you who read this are safe and healthy and I wish nothing but the best for you during these difficult times. I love you all!)

Last Summer (as I write this) I drove down to Mena, Arkansas with the intention of hiking in the morning at Queen Whilamena State Park and driving around in the afternoon exploring the teeny-tiny towns surrounding the state park.

The drive down was really pleasant. But then it started raining. Thankfully, by the time I got to the Queen Whilamena Lodge and Restaurant the rain had stopped BUT there was fog EVERYWHERE!

I had not checked the weather on my phone. I didn’t even think about the possibility of anything but clear skies and humid air (Summer in Arkansas, y’all). But that is not what I got.

There was a fleeting moment where my heart sank and I thought, “I drove all this way and now I have to go home…”

But then I took another look at the fog, which was literally getting thicker by the minute and I thought, “HOLY SHIT THIS IS PERFECT WEATHER FOR A HORROR NOVEL!”

I mean look at that! That’s amazing!

If I’d gone on a “normal” day I’d have hiked, got some nice pictures of trees and buildings, and gone home with nice things to think about but this–the fog, the rain–gave my setting character. Or my setting looked at me and said, “Acknowledge that I am a force of nature!” while slapping me in the face.

And there was this really nifty fungus on the trail that was all glistening and fleshy. I almost walked face first into a MASSIVE spider webs trying to photograph it.

A new beginning to Havoc’s Moon bloomed in my mind. I got to make rough stage blocking for an action scene and took pictures of this one specific outcropping from multiple angles for reference later. I was so inspired IT WASN’T EVEN FUNNY!

So the moral of this story here is think about what your setting is like in bad weather. You never know what will happen. But also, it’s important to visit, if you can, where your book is set because you’ll get to think about concrete details you may not have considered from your chair at your writing desk.

And I learned that my main character’s favorite food is not pizza like I thought it was, but fried green beans.

You never know what’s going to happen when you go out on location.

Good luck and happy writing!

Things I Read Dec.-Nov. 2018ish Through July 2019

This is documentation and record keeping.

This is a third attempt at archival work.

In no particular order.

Books. Novellas. Short Stories. Scholarly Articles.

The Beasts Who Fought for Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still: Catherynne M. Valente

Wounded: Laurell K. Hamilton

Guilty Pleasures: Laurell K. Hamilton

The Laughing Corpse: Laurell K. Hamilton

Circus of the Damned: Laurell K. Hamilton

Beauty: Laurell K. Hamilton

Shut Down: Laurell K. Hamilton

Goblin Slayer vols. 1-3: Kumo Kagyu

Daughter of the Blood: Anne Bishop

Battle Angel Alita vols. 5-9: Yukito Kishiro

Battle Angel Alita Mars Chronicle vols. 1-2: Yukito Kishiro

Too Wyrd, Runespells #1: Sarah Buhrman

Magpie: A Collection of Really Short Stories: Carrie Mumford

Pisces-Silver Blood Collection: D.N. Leo

Binti: Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: Home: Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: The Night Masquerade: Nnedi Okorafor

Claymore vols. 1-4: Norihiro Yagi

The Long Walk: Stephen King as Richard Bachman

The Name of the Wind: Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear: Patrick Rothfuss

Lists I Left for My Sister: Rosamund Hodge

A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson: H.P. Lovecraft

Polaris: H. P. Lovecraft

The Beast in the Cave: H.P. Lovecraft

The Alchemist: H.P. Lovecraft

The Tomb: H.P. Lovecraft

Dagon: H.P. Lovecraft

Ghost Sniper: David Healy

Hot Head: Damon Suede

Mission: Protect the Ex: Alina Popescu

Strength to Let Go: Tales of the Werewolf Tribes Book One: Alina Popescu

Penal Units in the Red Army: Alex Statiev: Europe-Asia Studies vol. 62 no. 5 (July 2010)

Love in the Time of Global Warming: Francesca Lia Block

The Collector: Titainborn Universe Book Zero: Rhett Bruno

Parable of the Sower: Octavia Butler

The Big Flash: Norman Spinrad

The Cruel Prince: Holly Black

The Lost Sisters: Holly Black

The Wicked King: Holly Black

Red Queen: Victoria Aveyard

Giovanni’s Room: James Baldwin

Relic of the Mad Poet: A Journey to the Tree Of Sorrows Story: E. H. Robinson

Berserk vols. 1-2: Kentaro Miura

Of Children, and Houses, and Hope: Aliette De Bodard

In Morningstar’s Shadow: Aliette De Bodard

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: George R. R. Martin

Every River Runs to Salt: Rachel K. Jones

The Second Wish: Brian Lumley

The Sun, the Sea, and the Silent Scream: Brian Lumley

Favorites

Favorite Book: Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

Favorite Novella: Every River Runs to Salt, Rachel K. Jones

Favorite Short Story: Lists I Left for My Sister, Rosamund Hodge

Miscellaneous Comments

I enjoyed A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and Love in the Time of Global Warming more than I thought I would. I was reminded a lot of Block’s Primavera and thought the writing was much more vivid than in Necklace Of Kisses and Elementals.

I was disappointed with Holly Black’s new Folk of the Air Series. The “bad boy” really isn’t that bad and the heroine falls a bit flat compared to the characters in Tithe, Valiant, and The Darkest Part of the Forest. I don’t know if I’ve just *gasp* grown up a little bit or she intentionally wrote those characters to be less complex (than those in her other series) and more obvious caricatures of tropes for wider accessibility/a specific type of audience. However, I will read all the books because I am invested in all her work and am immensely grateful for her efforts in reviving the Bordertown stories. And the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology she co-edited with Justine Larbalestier is amazing. Don’t judge me for not making it through the Spiderwick Chronicles yet. I’ll get there eventually.

My godfather gave me his copy of Every River Runs to Salt and I am so glad he did. It will probably have a permanent home in my Re-Read Pile.

I feel like I’ve stepped too far away from poetry this year, writing and reading it. I’ve neglected the work and writers that bouyed me up in grad school. This is bad because poetry is the life blood. I am a salt covered slug without it. I will make an attempt to spend the rest of the year injecting more poetry into my life.