A New Short Story: Invited and Minor Update on War In Flesh

So I wrote a little short horror story based upon some heavy fictionalization of time I spent in a fundamentalist church. It’s called Invited. Of course all of the characters are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is completely coincidental. I’m really enjoying the short story format. It is as follows:

Invited
By K. L. Zolnoski

Things had been going well, very well. The host had been growing ever more paranoid, fearful and best of all, hateful as Shpofuge slid his narrow, peg-like fingers deeper into her brain. Shpofuge was a demon of the shadows. No one in this world could see him. If they could they would see his ghostly form hunched over her like a miasma, his incorporeal arms curved around and his long, fingers sliding easily through her head into her brain.
Shpofuge fed on malignant emotions. Her fear was fine wine to him but her hate, which grew out of that fear, was ambrosia. Invariably self-righteousness, hypocrisy and pride followed and such were his hors d’oeuvres.
Lies were the best though and did Shelly ever lie. Her whole life was a lie. She was so afraid of getting hurt, thanks to a father who abandoned her and a mother who, as a result, had to work two jobs to provide for her that she had closed herself off from everyone.
Over the years, through Shpofuge’s careful manipulation, she had carried these hurts and held them close to her. She never forgave and never forgot. This gave Shpofuge a permanent pathway into her psyche. No matter how she tried to shake him off or escape his vile influence, he could always count on resentment and bitterness from these injustices to provide access back into the deepest parts of her soul.
Every Sunday Shelly went to church. She dressed modestly and behaved properly. Shpofuge loved the church. Shpofuge especially loved it when the preacher shouted about how all of their works of righteousness were as filthy rags to the most holy. This would throw Shelly into a feedback loop of self-flagellation and self-loathing that fed Shpofuge very well. He would run his long peg fingers over her brain, delicately sensing for the darkest knots of her self-hatred and grow fat.
Shpofuge often silently applauded the preacher, especially when he expounded the evils of questioning, of thinking, of seeking. Those things most reliably led to people escaping the clutches of their demons. That was the last thing Shpofuge wanted.
There was danger though, for Shelly’s husband had died just the day before. Family was gathering for the funeral. That meant the Mystic was coming. Shpofuge would have to be careful lest the Mystic discover him.
Shpofuge spent the night filling Shelly’s dreams with fear. Fear that the Mystic would talk about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Shelly’s husband. It was a dirty secret that Shelly had groomed the Mystic to keep when she was a young child. It was something Shelly felt guilty about and Shpofuge feasted on her guilt and the fear that her secret would be told.
Shpofuge also filled Shelly’s mind with dread that the Mystic, whom Shelly knew saw her for who she truly was, would tell everyone that her whole life was an empty lie. Appearances were everything to Shelly. Appearances always had been everything to Shelly. From the time her father had abandoned her, through her abusive marriage she had sacrificed everything to maintain the appearance of a normal life.
The emptiness of a life built entirely on appearances had consumed Shelly utterly. The emptiness gave Shpofuge plenty of room to hide.
The family came from all corners of the country to support Shelly. Normally the outpouring of love would make Shpofuge leave but this family was different. Many had demons of their own. Some were so filled with hate that Shpofuge could feed on it too, not that he needed to.

Then the Mystic entered the room. To those assembled the Mystic appeared short and a little dumpy. The other demons pounced on the thoughts of, “fat,” and “lazy,” that flickered through their host’s minds. They amplified and fed on the sense of superiority that accompanied them.
To Shpofuge the Mystic shone like the morning sun, the force of her undampened personality causing him to flinch back. Reacting, Shpofuge had Shelly make the first move. A classic manipulative opening gambit, “You can’t play the victim card and expect people to think you are strong.”
This would shut down any potential revelations of the abuse the Mystic suffered. She looked over at Shelly, puzzled. As if she honestly didn’t know why Shelly would say such a thing.
Congratulating himself on catching her off guard, Shpofuge shifted his fingers in Shelly’s brain and pressed the attack. If he could get the Mystic to say something resentful, something accusing, anything that would threaten Shelly’s already destroyed sense of self, he would win.
Instead the Mystic said, “It’s ok. It will be alright.”
Shpofuge hissed. It was as if the Mystic had spoken to the deeper issue, completely ignoring Shelly’s words. Then Shpofuge froze.
The Mystic looked at Shelly, canting her head to one side as if confused. Then understanding telegraphed itself over her expressive face.
The Mystic stepped up to Shelly, barely as tall, and breathed right into her third eye, “Begone.”
Shpofuge shrieked, for one terrible moment his shadowy, disfigured form became visible to all. They would forget, but now they recoiled in horror.
How? How was it possible? Shpofuge had used Shelly’s lies to torment the Mystic for her whole life. The constant gas lighting had nearly driven her insane before she vanished for several years. How could she love Shelly so openly and fearlessly?
It was that love that had driven Shpofuge out. Helpless he watched as the Mystic held out her hand in welcome, offering unconditional love, offering no recriminations, only acceptance. Making herself vulnerable. This would be the end, Shpofuge’s ultimate failure.
Then it happened. Shelly looked full in the face of love and turned to reach out a hand to Shpofuge. He had been invited in of Shelly’s own free will. She was more afraid of being vulnerable to hurt, than his possession. No power would ever be able to banish him. Shpofuge pounced, nearly punching his incorporeal fingers through her in his indecent haste.

**The End**

Also I’ve gotten back to work on War In Flesh and I’m pleased with the direction it is going.

War In Flesh teaser #WarInFlesh #InTheFlesh

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

In The Flesh Cover Art

Work on the sequel to In The Flesh is moving along. Yes it is slow going. I’m not one of those authors who can just crank out hundreds of pages without a thought. In point of fact I’m realizing that my creative process takes a lot of thought and a lot of processing. I have to think the whole thing though before I can begin to write it. I have ideas and then need to play with them to see how they fit into the narrative. Sometimes they don’t and then I have to, in the words of Stephen King, “kill my darlings.” I also have my bs detector set to 11 apparently, so a lot of things I like don’t fit well into the story line and I have to set them aside. I will share the following teaser of a part of a chapter that I’ve written for War In Flesh for your enjoyment but I make no promises that it will survive the multiple editing passes in this books future.

Nevertheless, please enjoy:

War In Flesh

Copyrighted material, all rights reserved

Thousands of miles north of Antarctica, beyond the shining jewel of Ce Acatl, just inland from the coast of the long narrow island that is all that’s left of what was once the northern continent a battered, almost broken antenna picked up the weak signal. Ancient relays came reluctantly to life and deep below the surface lights began to flicker as emergency batteries sacrificed what little power they had left.

On the surface a mere handful out of dozens of hidden hatches opened through the debris that buried them. Up through the hatches solar collector arrays slowly surfaced. It took days for them to collect enough power to begin the power up sequence in deeply buried scientific research stations.
Subterranean bunkers long buried by the movement of earth and nearly flooded by raising water tables slowly revealed themselves to sporadic lighting. Sump pumps groaned and kicked on draining stagnant water where it stood in deep pools on the floors of the lowest levels. The scent of mold filled the dead air.

Slowly, one by one in the high tech labs computers came online, waking from their sleep state as the power came back up. They had been kept alive in a low power state since the cataclysm so long ago. Fans started to move and with them slow air currents began to swirl through the underground complex of labs and offices. Vats filled with nutrients far past their best by dates began to grow bodies, following centuries old routines.

Some of the cylindrical vats failed to come online. In a sub-basement some of the computers shorted out, falling to a combination of moisture and nibbling rodents that had encroached over the long years. Others powered up and began growing things even before the injectors inserted the organic material intended to be grown in them. Somehow their sterile interiors had been breached by microorganisms during their long dormancy.

The laboratories were climate stable by virtue of being so far beneath the surface. In such a protected place the denizens of caves made their home, just as they would any natural cave system. Bats found their way into the upper level. Mountains of guano became nourishment for cockroaches and other crawling things. Heavy, sealed bulkhead doors kept larger things out of the lower levels but were little barrier to microorganisms.

Weeks passed while the sump pumps and fans worked. Often they had to shut down to conserve what little power the solar collectors could provide. Every system in the buried complex was designed to protect the computers first, even the electrical system. With the emergency batteries dead and not enough power coming from the arrays to recharge them, if that were even still possible, the other systems regularly idled so that what power there was could be diverted to the computers.

Eventually the pumps got the floors dry and the fans refreshed the air, opening vents to the surface when what humidity and moisture sensors that remained permitted.

In the cloning vats things grew.

This is but a snippet, gentle reader, that I hope you enjoy. I have all of the ideas in place now and just need to see how they will hang together. Things always change as I write them and what I envision when I start out is rarely what the final tale is. Characters will do what they will and I am often just telling their story they way they would have me tell it. K.

From In The Flesh meet the Persi Brothers

The Persi Brothers are independent owners of their own ship.  They are sailors and explorers in a world just being rediscovered by the survivors of the cataclysm.  Christopher is the elder brother and primary captain of their ship the Lorelei.  Stephan is the younger brother and knows water and weather.  He knows the ocean currents and her temperament.  Together they run a tight ship and while they don’t much care for authority figures on land, they are too tempted by the offer made to them to explore a newly discovered continent to pass it up, even if it means working for the crown.

An excerpt from the chapter entitled Where Demons Dwell

This is a bit of my experience after I fully rejected God, thinking that the churches I had known somehow had it right about Him.  It was only after this that I began to understand how my impressions of God were so wrong, so warped by the cult churches my parents had gravitated to.

“I don’t know if it was paranoia or the fact that my mind was set free to create whatever it would, or if there were really demons or other spirits that waited just outside the bounds of vision. I only know that during that time I began to sense things in the dark hours before the dawn. Many nights I would lay awake, alone in

 my apartment and become convinced that there were things out there. Perhaps it was roaches or mice in the walls, I do not know and I would not be at all surprised if there were a mundane explanation for the sense of other presences I got. Whether I was truly sensing the presence of other things or simply suffering from an overactive imagination does not really matter. Yet there was a difference. I did not hear skittering in the walls or squeaking. I sensed something in the darkness and the texture, the essence of the darkness was not normal. I would like to believe it was roaches or mice but I’ve lived in houses with mice and I know what they sound like. What frightened me was no sound, it was the sense of other presences. Regardless, what matters is that I became frightened. Not for my physical self, although there was some of that, my fear ran far deeper than death.
Night after night my fear and certainty grew until I turned to the only one I knew who allegedly had greater power than the powers I was toying with. All uncertain and unwilling to accept everything I had been taught about Him, I prayed. I did not expect anything. A capricious and proud god would not have any reason to bother to listen to me simply because I was female. Turning to paganism and witchcraft was only pouring fuel on the fire of my apostasy. Yet when I cried out to Him in fear, He answered me. I felt His love like a soothing balm on the lacerated places in my soul and the things in the darkness fled before His light. I saw the darker shadows flee while the normal darkness remained.
I was stubborn, still am truth be told. I knew the dark things that hovered on the edges of the shadows would flee before the power of His name and so I used it but I did not accept Him. I would not follow Him. I used the power of His name to protect myself and He allowed it, knowing that I rejected Him. I refused to say that I loved Him because I did not and I would not perjure myself before Him or anyone by confessing to an emotion I did not feel. I did not trust Him and I would not willingly return for long to the places where He was worshiped.”

Copyright ©2012 Kelly Zolnoski

All rights reserved. No part of this  may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing by the author

Hello, allow me to introduce myself and my book

I am honored to have my first book published.  It’s a very personal book detailing my journey through cult like churches and how I first fled from God and found my way back.

Here is an excerpt from one of the chapters entitled Do Not Abuse the Name of my God:

It offends me deeply when someone name drops God or Jesus to manipulate others. It is a misuse of the name of God and a crime against God and His children. The name Jesus is not a magical incantation against evil. It is not a verbal hashtag to let people know how holy or pious one is. To use those names in such a way is demeaning and devalues the sacredness of the faith they come from. It smacks of superstition, especially when used by people who don’t live their faith, they just talk it.