That is in my short story ‘The Wolf Moon’ and ‘Fox Spirit’ books in their anthology ‘Winter Tales’, which appeared early 2016. When I saw the submission call, I instantly knew which story to send. ‘The Wolf Moon’ is one of a body of work, thirteen short tales based on a theme, equally possible to read independently (I’ve published more than one with magazines), but would make an eerie collection. Fox Spirit was the perfect match for ‘The Wolf Moon’, one of the last written in a project that’s taken me a few years from conception to completion.
Shortlisted for the Best Indie Press twice by the British Fantasy Society, Fox Spirit’s mission statement summarises the belief that day-to-day life lacks several things, namely the fantastic, the magical, mischievous and a touch of the horrific. They aim to produce books ‘full of wonder and mischief delivered with a sharp bite’. My short story definitely applies.
NOTE: this was published under the name Sharon Kernow, though I no longer use that name.
Diana may or may not be a hunter, but Gabriel is no angel.
Minutes ticked by, the hush fragmented by whispers. The door creaked open, muzzling free expression. Diana became aware of a large presence, prodigious in stature, colossal in self-possession. The longing to look was almost too much for her, made more difficult by other people’s reactions. The tide parted, made way for the newcomer even if that meant they must move closer to her.
Carver suddenly had a dilemma. He stopped in mid-flow on his way to her, gaze darting from the man standing in front of him and down to the end where Diana stood controlling the urge to smirk. He compromised—shoved her goods into the hands of his helper, nodded to the new arrival, and hurried out back to get whatever he’d come for. Diana took her time placing the items in her basket, although there were only two, and only the small sack of flour was cumbersome. As she turned to leave she tried to make the act of lifting her head look natural, the direction of her gaze an accident or coincidence.
By wish or bewitchment, he did. Man and woman gazed at each other. She saw blue eyes so bright as to illuminate the darkness like moonlight, a head of shaggy peppered hair, dark stubble along a strong jaw, and muscle. Hunter and hunted. Diana suppressed a shudder.
Without pause, she completed the turn and headed to the door. Remarks followed.
‘Witch,’ one woman said, following up her pronouncement with spittle. Diana smirked at the thought of Carver having to wash the floor, ignored her, and enjoyed the woman’s confusion.
‘Those raised by wolves should stay in the wild,’ another said. Diana agreed and breathed in relief as the cold of the day held out its welcoming arms. She plunged into snow and freedom.
Frost pierces through everything. Your bones ache in the icy wind. Harsh winter storms rage and the sun is leaving, not to return for many months. The cheerful men arriving to the mountain bothy in the midst of the winter storm, why do they unnerve you so much? The hunter who follows after you on your way home from the store, what does he hunt? The old neighbour lady seems so innocent, but you know the truth: you saw her that night. Why will the police not listen to you?
Dark, grim, beautiful and grotesque. We are delighted to bring you a collection of speculative winter stories and poems from new and established writers. The collection is edited by Margret Helgadottir. Winter Tales released early 2016 from Fox Spirit Books.
Cover art is by S.L. Johnson