Ladies of Horror – November

Jack’s Regret
by Michelle Joy Gallagher

“Jack hadn’t slept since he drowned Elise. He hadn’t set out to hurt her. She’d just said so many things that wounded him in short order, leaving him no time to recover. The passion and fire in her that first drew his eye quickly left him burned. It left no working patience in him. They had been walking along the shore when she’d brought up Beatrice. Beatrice. Why had he ever given her the time of day?”

Read the rest here

The Big Freeze

A part of me is perpetually afraid that whatever was within me that allowed me to write will one day go and not come back. An aberration that will finally and coldly be corrected.

The theory of the big freeze posits that our universe will end when entropy increases to a point of maximum value. Our inexplicably vast universe will become so large, gasses will be too thinly spread out to allow for new stars to form and ignite. That’s what a block or dry spell feels like. The words are there, just too distant from each other to connect, gather mass, catch fire.

I’ve flinched when it comes to writing for a few weeks now. Stops and starts. Chilling reminders of times when years elapsed between efforts, all my energy sunken irretrievably into survival rather than creative expression. Everything feels forced. The healing and thrill I get from writing something worthwhile delayed.

Art has served as a decent tourniquet. I’m a novice, so I spend a lot of my time feeling out of my depth. More trial and error than anything. Fumbling blindly in unfamiliar territory. Everything I draw or paint, fraught with heavy handed symbolism. A sort of shorthand for the poetry and prose I have neglected.

The first few shaky lines in a new verse are so important, the opening of a door I’ve pried at until my fingers are bloodied.

Café Macabre II

I received my copies of Café Macabre II today and they’re gorgeous! This is an anthology of short horror stories and art by women, curated by author and editor Leah McNaughton Lederman. It includes my short story “The River” which is about the terror of death and the horror we face in life. Beautifully illustrated by Keyla Valerio.


If you’d like to purchase a copy, please visit the following links:

https://www.nihtgengapress.com/product/cafe-macabre-ii

https://leahmcnaughtonlederman.com

Drawing and painting have been an incredible healing salve.

Skull with narcissus and mistletoe
Magnolia

“But, Michelle, aren’t you supposed to be a writer?”

I still am! Working behind the scenes. News on that front really soon!

Ladies of Horror – August

Brenda woke in a cold sweat. The gap in her heavy bedroom drapes let a blade of sunshine through the window that fell across her body, bisecting her. She watched the motes of dust floating in the light for a long time, wanting to delay the inevitable reacquaintance with reality. She could hardly remember the past week. Grief sharpened her memories of her father and dulled almost everything else. She kept thinking of when she was a little girl, feeling invincible, running around the park under her father’s watchful eye, wishing she could go back again.

She’d had an incredibly vivid recurring dream the night before and mulled it over, sitting up and gathering the strength to pour herself out of bed. She could remember a darkness, then a whisper. One that questioned her softly but had an edge to it. A hint of barely contained impatience.

“What would you give?” it asked her. She didn’t know how to reply.

“What would you give, to turn back the clock?”

Read the rest at https://spreadingthewritersword.com/tag/michelle-joy-gallagher/

Ladies of Horror – July

“The wind whipping through the field formed a low howl that made Elena think of a wounded animal. She was something wounded too. The blood had been dry on her face and neck for a few hours now, but it felt tacky when the skin moved. She’d taken a break from digging, her hands throbbing with newly formed callous, and leaned the shovel against an old tractor. She took a deep breath and eyed the place she had buried the combine harvester blade she’d found by sheer luck in the old shed. It was rusted and covered in a thin sheen of blood she’d tried to wipe off on the underside of her skirt.
The hole was about 3 feet deep now and subtly oblong. Not deep enough.”

Read the rest at the link:
spreadingthewritersword.com

The iron from blood

Artist depiction of a Magnetar – ESO

Neutron star - “a celestial object of very small radius (typically 18 miles/30 km) and very high density, composed predominantly of closely packed neutrons. Neutron stars are thought to form by the gravitational collapse of the remnant of a massive star after a supernova explosion, provided that the star is insufficiently massive to produce a black hole.”
Magnetar - “A magnetar is a type of neutron star believed to have an extremely powerful magnetic field. The magnetic-field decay powers the emission of high-energy electromagnetic radiation, particularly X-rays and gamma rays. The theory regarding these objects was proposed in 1992 by Robert Duncan and Christopher Thompson”

I read once that a magnetar’s magnetic field is so strong it could pull the iron out of your blood from a thousand miles away. It frightened and thrilled me to consider that sort of power. The Cosmos is an unimaginably vast sea full of silent and efficient machines churning and devouring.

I’ve seen people address the universe as if it is some benevolent being with their best interests in mind. “I asked the universe…” they say.

If asked, the universe would answer by atomizing, then ionizing the matter that comprises you.

Existence is the exception, not the rule.

Though the universe may not be vengeful, it is apathetic. That is somehow more frightening as we hurl blindly through space.

We cannot command the universe, bend it to our will, or expect it to be considerate of our desires. What we can do is acknowledge the source of that iron in our blood, the way it was formed.

Over billions of years, as a star burns through its gaseous fuel, it fuses it into heavier elements until finally it produces iron. Iron is the death knell. Iron causes a collapse. This collapse causes a supernova.

The star killing elements are then ejected into space, carried over light years, and deposited in places it can be used to produce complex matter like the blood in your veins.

It is not the universe’s will that you get the job you’ve been hoping for, the love you’ve given reciprocated or that you even exist. But you are part of a stellar life cycle. A sentient artifact of the universe itself. The bloom in the ruin.

Oh.

So, I’m reading about the potential end to theoretical particle physics. One quote struck me about the discovery of the Higgs Boson:

“According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Higgs Field should either have a value of zero which would not give particles mass, or it should have an extremely great value which is likely to give particles too much mass.

But this is where physicists are confused.

Instead of viewing a value of either extremely high or non-existent, experts have noticed that the Higgs field is just slightly on”, which is not as low or high as it should be.

Mr Cliff said: “It’s not zero, but it’s ten-thousand-trillion times weaker than it’s fully on value — a bit like a light switch that got stuck just before the ‘off’ position.”

Oh.

The article went on to mention dark energy predictions and potentially proving the multiverse theory to account for such wide variations, other universes having either too much mass or none at all, never coalescing or collapsing under their own weight.

Oh.

How many times
Have you fucking felt
Like a light switch that
Got stuck just before the off position?

Just slightly on

Ten thousand trillion times weaker than your fully on value

And you still manage to hold it all together.