DEVIL'S WEEK

The FREEZINE is publishing five stories during this final week countdown to Halloween.
Don't dare to stray too far away as each story pops up any day this leaf-blown week!
On Friday, October 31, all five stories will be bundled together into the 2014 HALLOWEEN ISSUE.

Composition above by S.L.

Illustration for THE PERFECT PUMPKIN by Shasta Lawton


Friday, May 20, 2011

THE PORCELAIN WOMAN

by Icy Sedgwick





Gregor sat back in his chair and smiled. He put down the brush to admire his handiwork. The porcelain woman sat on the bench before him, the paint still sticky on her face. He didn’t need to check the photograph to know she was the twin of his beloved Sylvie. They were identical in every way, right down to the fact that neither of them was alive.

Gregor ran a hand through the porcelain woman’s golden curls. They sprang back into place, glinting in the late afternoon sunlight.

“Ah, my beautiful porcelain woman. I shall name you Odile,” he said. He took one of her cold, smooth hands in his own and gazed into the painted blue eyes.

Gregor talked to the porcelain woman, telling Odile about Sylvie, and their dreams of running an art school in the town. He told her about the tuberculosis that stole his Sylvie away, leaving him lost and alone. He explained how he spent the intervening years locked away in his rooms at the top of the tower. Odile simply listened.

Some hours after sunset, Gregor yawned and shook his tired limbs. He scooped up Odile and carried her into his bedroom. He settled her into the rocking chair by the window.

“Sylvie used to sit here when she couldn’t sleep. She said she liked to knit by moonlight, and keep watch over me. You can hold her vigil now,” he said.

Gregor planted a kiss on Odile’s lifeless cheek. He climbed into bed and fell asleep under the watchful gaze of his porcelain angel.



Dawn’s tentative fingers crept over the red roofs and smoking chimneys. Gregor stirred, feeling the sun’s early caress on his cheek. He got out of bed and carried Odile up to the small roof terrace at the top of the tower. Gregor settled her on some pillows so she could gaze down over the town.

“Sylvie used to sit up here while I worked. She liked the fresh air and the morning sun. I’ll come and get you at lunchtime,” said Gregor.

He patted Odile’s head and left the terrace. His footsteps rang out on the narrow stairs. For the first time in fifteen years, he whistled a melody of summer and hope. The tune echoed around his tiny kitchen as he prepared his solitary breakfast, and continued while he pottered around in his workshop. At lunchtime, he fetched Odile, and she watched him work during the afternoon. She listened to his prattle about ceramics and glazing during supper, and she watched over him while he slept.

Days turned into weeks, and Gregor continued to talk to Odile. He fixed up her hair, and sewed her new clothes. Sometimes he touched up her paintwork. Gregor was always very careful with his porcelain woman. On Valentine’s Day, he laid out a special supper for them, and confessed he was scared he might trip on the stairs, and break her.

“I’d be ever so upset if anything ever happened to you, Odile. You have no idea how much I appreciate you. It’s been so long since I had anyone to talk to. The people down in the town...oh, they let you talk as long as they get to interrupt with their gossip and idle chatter. Not you, my dearest Odile, you know how to listen,” said Gregor. He patted her hand.



The weeks turned into months. Gregor showed Odile the pieces he was working on, although he was careful not to allow any buyers to visit him at home. He feared they might want to buy Odile. She was not for sale, and it didn’t seem right to make another.

One Thursday in late September, Odile sat outside. A makeshift shelter of wood and canvas stretched above her in case it rained. The clock in the town square struck noon. People scurried around in the streets below, hurrying to the market for their lunch of bread and cheese.

Later, the clock struck six in the evening. Odile remained on the terrace, surrounded by twilight. Candles burned at the windows in the houses below. Men patrolled the streets, lighting the gas lamps. Their glow cast warm circles of light across the cobbles. Gregor did not come for Odile.

Thursday turned into Friday and Odile still sat on the terrace. A light drizzle pattered on the canvas above her as the sun fought to break through the early morning mist. Lunchtime came and went, but Gregor did not. That evening, a strong wind pulled down the canvas over Odile, blocking her view of the town.

Some days later, a stranger ventured onto the terrace. He saw a pile of old canvas by the chimney stack, and made a note in his book. He muttered about the state in which the old man had left the place, and left. Another strong wind that night tore away the canvas. It fluttered across the terrace and over the side, snapping from one gust to the next into the darkness. Odile sat in the cold night air, watching the lights go out in the windows of the town.

Night and day chased each other across the sky. Heavy rains plastered Odile’s hair to her porcelain head, and strong winds tugged it dry. Birds gathered on the terrace. The sound of nails being driven into wood within the tower drove them away; only mice and rats would use the narrow stairs now.

The nights grew longer, and colder. Rodents sniffed at Odile’s dress, tearing strips from the skirt to line their holes. Her beautiful floral dress, so similar to Sylvie’s, hung in rags around her porcelain legs. Spiders crept across her hands, spinning webs between her fingers.

Snowflakes drifted onto the terrace on Christmas Day. The town spread beneath a steel grey sky. Odile’s painted eyes didn’t see the townsfolk singing carols around the tree in the square. Children ran around in the rooms below, their laughter drifting up the stairs toward the terrace.

A tear slid down Odile’s cheek.









Come Back Monday, May 23
For the Continued Serialization
of
Adam Bolivar's Weird Jack Tale

THE DREAM KEY
only on the FREEZINE
of
Fantasy & Science Fiction





5 comments:

  1. That's why you have to be one of my favourites to read Icy, you always keep me guessing. I saw every picture you painted. Fantastic.

    Rebecca D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really enjoyed that, Icy. Beautifully written piece of writing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. So sweet and sad. Brilliant writing as usual, Icy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Poor Odile! Of only Gregor knew...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wonderfully strong imagery, Icy. Beautiful writing.
    Adam B @revhappiness

    ReplyDelete

Archive of Stories
and Authors

Edward Morris's
MERCY STREET


Gene Stewart's
CRYPTID'S LAIR


Adam Bolivar's
SERVITORS OF THE
OUTER DARKNESS


Adam Bolivar's
THE DEVIL & SIR
FRANCIS DRAKE



Adam Bolivar's
THE TIME-EATER


Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee.


John Claude Smith's
BLOOD ECHO SYMPHONIES


John Claude Smith's
NOT BREATHING



John Claude Smith writes weird fiction,
something between Horror and Magic
Realism, most of it psychologically driven.
He's had over 40 tales and over 1100 music
reviews, interviews, and profiles published.
He is currently shopping two novels and
a collection to agents and publishers, all
while starting the third novel. Gotta keep
on keepin' on! Looking forward to Rome
in the not too distant future, but for now,
just looking for the next short story to
be written.


David Agranoff's
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN


David Agranoff's
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S MANDATE


David Agranoff is the author of the
short story collection Screams From
A Dying World, just published by
Afterbirth Books. David is a hardcore
vegan and tireless environmentalist.
His contributions to the punk horror
scene and the planet in general have
already established him as a bright
new writer and activist to watch out
for. The Freezine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance. David's latest
books include the Wuxia -Pan
(martial arts fantasy) horror
novel called Hunting The Moon Tribe,
already out from Afterbirth Books.;
The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies,
[Deadite Press, 2010]; and
[Deadite Press, 2014]

Daniel José Older's
GRAVEYARD WALTZ


Daniel José Older's
THE COLLECTOR


Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.

When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found HERE.


Johnny Strike's
AS YOU WISH


Johnny Strike's
NIGHT FLAMERS


Johnny Strike's
THE HOMELESS MUTANTS


Johnny Strike will beat you with his guitar
and leave you lying in the gutter wishing you
had never dared enter his under ground world
of fake passports, lucky amulets, rain soaked
hotels, and occult mystique. If you don't leave
nice comments under his story, he's sure to sic
his band CRIME on you. He also wrote the novel
Ports Of Hell (Headpress), recommended by
William S. Burroughs. You don't receive kudos
from William Lee himself unless you are the
epitome of cool. Besides, have you listened to
CRIME's album Exalted Masters? It was
released in 2007 on the Crime Music label,
on vinyl only, featuring a slew of their old
rare hits. Its real punk music from seasoned
veterans. Now go track yourself down a copy
before its out of print. The Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction is proud to host the story
that contains the line which titles his first
From Above (Rudos and Rubes).


Paul Stuart's
SEA?TV!


Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
biographical blurbs written in the third
person. His previously published fiction
appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and
His non-fiction financial pieces can be found
in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features
pictures of expensive homes, as well as images
of women in casual poses and their accessories.
Consider writing him at paul@twilightlane.com,
if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall
2010, look for Grade 12 Trigonometry and
Pre-Calculus -With Zombies.


Rain Grave's
MAU BAST


Rain Graves is an award winning
author of horror, science fiction and
poetry. She is best known for the 2002
Poetry Collection, The Gossamer Eye
(along with Mark McLaughlin and
David Niall Wilson). Her most
recent book, Barfodder: Poetry
Written in Dark Bars and Questionable
Cafes, has been hailed by Publisher's
Weekly as "Bukowski meets Lovecraft..."
in January of 2009. She lives and
writes in San Francisco, performing
spoken word at events around the
country. 877-DRK-POEM -



Icy Sedgwick's
THE PORCELAIN WOMAN


Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
trainee supervillain. She lives in the UK
but dreams of the Old West. Her current
works include a ghost story about a Cavalier
and a Western tale of retribution. Find her
ebooks, free weekly fiction and other
shenanigans at Icy’s Cabinet of Curiosities.


Blag Dahlia's
armed to the teeth
with LIPSTICK



BLAG DAHLIA is a Rock Legend.
Singer, Songwriter, producer &
founder of the notorious DWARVES.
He has written two novels, ‘NINA’ and
‘ARMED to the TEETH with LIPSTICK’.


G. Alden Davis's
THE FOLD


G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
in high school, and received a creative
writing scholarship for the effort. Soon
afterward he discovered that words were
not enough, and left for art school. He was
awarded the Emeritus Fellowship along
with his BFA from Memphis College of Art
in '94, and entered the videogame industry
as a team leader and 3D artist. He has over
25 published games to his credit. Mr. Davis
is a Burningman participant of 14 years,
and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.


Shae Sveniker's
A NEW METAPHYSICAL STUDY
REGARDING THE BEHAVIOR
OF PLANT LIFE


Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
resident of the Salt Pit, UT, currently living
in Simi Valley, CA. His short stories are on
Blogger and his poetry is hosted on Livejournal.



Nigel Strange's
PLASTIC CHILDREN


Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
daughter, cats, and tiny dog-like thing
in their home in California where he
occasionally experiments recreationally
with lucidity. PLASTIC CHILDREN
is his first publication.


J.R. Torina's
THE HOUSE IN THE PORT


J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
house ('90-'97), runs Sutekh Productions
(an industrial-ambient music label) and
Slaughterhouse Records (metal record
label), and was proprietor of The Abyss
(a metal-gothic-industrial c.d. shop in
SLC, now closed). He is the dark force
behind Scapegoat (an ambient-tribal-
noise-experimental unit). THE HOUSE
IN THE PORT is his first publication.


K.B. Updike, Jr's
THE GOLDEN THIRD EYE


K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin
Virginia writer. KB's life work,
published 100% for free: