Cover art for the anthology “Winter of Wonder”
If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.
My short story “That Which Burns” is now available in the Cloaked Press anthology Winter of Wonder: Superhuman: 2021 Edition.
The theme for this new anthology series this year is “superhuman.”
What does it mean to be ‘Superhuman’? Not just super powers or flashy costuming. What lies beneath the surface? What makes the psyche tick? Fourteen authors from the Cloaked Press Family explore this theme in our first Winter of Wonder anthology. Join them as they explore strange alien worlds, yet find some humanity within its monstrous inhabitants. Come along with an assassin long due for retirement, and a bounty hunter pushing his luck far beyond his competitors. Magical weapons and magical tapestries abound, while one incredible man serves a wife he didn’t choose. Meet those who chose not to blindly follow protocol and serve, be that from a teacher, a friend and former lover, or the Queen Goddess herself. Superheroes are sometimes not what they seem, and sometimes allies come from unexpected places.
My story has been around for a while but like many creations, it didn’t sell on the first try or on a few subsequent attempts.
Tyler Melody Ross is a very special young woman, but her being “special” isn’t always considered a good thing to her family, her friends, and her neighbors. We meet her as an inmate of an asylum in update New York in 1954. Normally, she’s kept heavily sedated, masked, and her hands covered in thick mittens. Then she gets a new doctor who says he wants to help her, but unbeknownst to him, that help may well bring disaster.
Here’s a small excerpt from “That Which Burns:”
Collage from Sunday Writing Prompt #240 “Collage Prompt 39” at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie
“She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.” -Terry Pratchett
Tyler Melody Ross sat masked in her padded cell in the sanatorium in upstate New York. In the common room, the first game of the 1954 World Series pitting the New York Giants against the Cleveland Indians was playing on the radio, but Tyler never was taken to the common room. She was kept continually sedated, not unconscious, but groggy enough so she could be handled. In that way, she could be fed, her toilet needs taken care of (and menstrual needs for five days every month), and walked around her cell for twenty minutes to get a bit of exercise. Other than that, she was alone and isolated, and the staff felt all the safer because of it.
The mask was heavily laced with asbestos as were the walls of her cell. There was no window, but a barred panel in her door where the glass could be slid open provided air. Her hands were encased in mittens, not that she really needed them, but if she were to have a lucid moment or two, she would be unable to remove the mask. At all costs the mask must remain on her face for the rest of her life.
No treatment had worked, not drug treatments, not electroshock, not repeated dunkings in ice water, they all failed to cure or even marginally improve Tyler’s condition. So she remained drugged, provided brief company only out of legal and medical necessity, and otherwise was left to ponder whatever dreams she entertained inside her difficult and diseased mind.