Anna Reith Six follows Ren everywhere she goes, but something's following him. It stalks him through the darkness of time and space, and it's hard to tell whether it's his past catching up, or reality giving way to what's really there. A darkly comic, twisted short story about sins, myths, and nightmares."> Frith Books - The Weeping Blade by Anna Reith
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The Weeping Blade by Anna Reith

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The Weeping Blade by Anna Reith

Six follows Ren everywhere she goes, but something’s following him. It stalks him through the darkness of time and space, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s his past catching up, or reality giving way to what’s really there.

A darkly comic, twisted short story about sins, myths, and nightmares.

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Description

A darkly comic, twisted tale of myth, history, and the spaces between sanity. Six follows Ren everywhere; after all, she was the one who saved him. He can’t deny her, even if it means following her as far as her brother’s skeezy show.

But Six sees the world a little differently from many people, and behind it all is a sense of something strange… something with a darker, older hunger than even Six has ever known.


This title originally appeared in the anthology ‘Dark Harvest’, published by Dark Continents Publishing. Following the closure of DCP,  anthologies including ‘Dark Harvest’ were picked up by Crossroad Press. ‘The Weeping Blade’ appears here independently, in a revised form.

Additional information

Writer

Anna Reith

Format

ebook (.pdf or zipped .epub formats)

Kindle ASIN

B01FBYISYO

Length

35 .pdf pages

Read an excerpt


THE WEEPING BLADE

© Anna Reith. All rights reserved.


HE IS OLDER THAN the stories they tell of him, though some say it was the tellings that fashioned him into being. Stories can work that way. They pull the world around them like a worn cloak, tugging at its weft until loose threads yield to bare patches, and a new embroidery can begin.

He is the dark thing that slips through the shadows, silently waiting in the cracks between dreams, because there he scents the dull weight of conscience. He knows it, and knows its call, and he comes to it like a dog to meat, slavering and rolling his thick, wet tongue. Where the small truths are hidden—the deeply buried ones, turned sallow by their years away from the light—he waits, and he swallows them down until his wide, red throat is full, and his belly groans with their weight.

Eater of sins, he has been called, and yet he knew a time before sin. It is not judgment that motivates him, after all, but the quiet, deep pull of a different master. He is the creature of maybes, the lie that murmurs upon the breeze, and they feed him their dreams. Oh, yes…dreams. It is dreams he eats, and not sins. Sin is nothing but a word. Dreams are life itself. They feed him until he grows fat and sluggish, and his deep, deep belly grumbles in its satisfaction, like the arrogant purr of a cat.

Where you gonna run to, little sinnerman? Who’s gonna reap your woes?

Nobody eats up the sins like he does. Nobody can suck the dreams up inside them like him. He swallows them whole, in great gluttonous gulps, pulling them down into his withered heart and his wild, bloated gut. He savours them, and he remembers each and every one.

He is in the echo of footsteps, and the remorse of the hopeless.

He comes when the thoughts—when the dreams, and the sharp-edged voids between them—weigh on the chests of sleepers like demons, suffocating and cloying in their inescapable prism. When the dream is crouching there like a woman wreathed in white, with hair spilling down her narrow back in a great dark curtain, her lies and her promises chafing as ragged rope across the dreamer’s skin, he slides through the night, arriving with his mouth full of teeth and sufferance.

He is too old for names. Languages change like the seasons, and words flit by without meaning.

All that exists is his hunger.

* * * *

It’s a small room. Cheap hotels always have them, and they always smell of damp, musty linen and air freshener, as if someone has simply opened the door, spritzed a synthetic floral aerosol around a bit, and hoped that’ll do in lieu of any actual cleaning. This may, in fact, be what has happened here.

Six would, he decides, not be remotely surprised.

The bed is improbably low and sinks when he sits on it, in such a way as to suggest it is actually two metal-framed single camp beds pushed together, possibly with a thin mattress topper disguising the deceit, somewhere under the rather terrifying brown-and-orange paisley pillow shams, duvet, and valance set.

Frankly, at this point, Six is too scared to lift up the bed’s frilly skirt to peek, so he carries on as he is, sitting on the edge of the saggy maybe-mattress, and drinking tap water and vodka out of a room-temperature Stoli bottle, while he watches the weather forecast on the small television bracketed to the wall of the room. The wallpaper is also brown, but it is a sort of fleur-de-lys pattern on a pale yellow background, and Six can’t make up his mind whether there was a terrible mistake in the printing, or whether the pattern really is meant to have so many strange-looking curls and blotches. He finds it very distracting, and it’s hard to concentrate on the weather forecast, which has seeped over into a sponsorship message about allergy relief tablets anyway. He can’t remember what the woman said. Something about low pressure.

It’s already raining. It’s been raining since they got here. It was raining when they were on the train, and raining at the station, and he still can’t get the sound of rain on corrugated metal out of his head.

The single, small window in the room is heavily swathed in frilly white net and a pair of brown-and-cream curtains that, for some reason, have pictures of fruit on them, but Six can still hear the rain. It mixes a little with the sound of the shower, which has been pounding away for ages, and the sound of Ren’s singing. She is currently taking liberties with the Ramones’ greatest hits, snarling and growling her way through mangled versions of her own addenda while she uses up all the hot water.

Gonna get some steam heat…three, four…blitzkrieg cock!

Six swigs his warm vodka and watches the TV tick over into something that appears to be a soap opera. It seems like he’s come in halfway through, though the show has just started, and he wonders briefly whether this is a narrative device, or whether he just wasn’t concentrating. Either way, the screen is filled with people sitting around a cluttered kitchen table, talking and frowning, and he neither knows their faces nor understands their words, and this is just a little too close to home for Six. He frowns in confused sympathy, and slugs back more vodka. Ren has stopped desecrating Dee Dee’s memory, and is now doing violent things to Jet Boy.

The TV people are in a strange world, Six decides. It’s like, in that little box, their odd, exaggerated lives are normal, and they’re pinned to them like butterflies or bugs to a board. So many round, fat, shiny beetles, lined up to be stared at. They’re not real, but they’re real enough—or pretend enough, or maybe both—that all the people watching can find grains of reality there. They can identify with it, even if it’s just identifying the divergence of reality and exaggeration, and that makes a whole new kind of realness appear somewhere. Six is pretty sure of that.

It’s like a new, persistent reality: a shared dream they all go to, and give substance to by their dreaming. Stories can work that way sometimes. Believe in anything hard enough, and you give it life, even if it’s just in your own head. Six read that somewhere. Or maybe he thought it, and forgot to write it down. He isn’t entirely sure, but he stares blankly at the soap opera and continues to contemplate the nature of existence, anyway.

It’s at that point that Ren comes into the room, leaving the tiny en suite in a cloud of steam. Well, it isn’t really an en suite. The toilet, sink, and mildew-stained shower are separated from the rest of the room by a vinyl-covered sliding door that squeaks as she pushes it back, and resembles a farting, half-deflated concertina as it sags miserably on its runners. It is brownish beige in colour, because apparently almost everything here is.

Everything except Ren.


1 review for The Weeping Blade by Anna Reith

  1. 5 out of 5


    This story was seriously bizarre, but in a good way! I loved Janey, and the characters were weirdly easy to relate to despite being so…odd?

    I did like that the central mystery is left sort of unexplained even though I’d have loved to know more!

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