A lovely way to start the year is with a reprint in The Dark, issue 56! My story “No Good Deed” (a tale set in the world of the Sourdough and Bitterwood mosaic collections) is alongside wonderful work by Clara Madrigano, Ray Cluley and Steve Rasnic Tem.
Isobel hesitates outside the grand door to the chamber she’d thought to share with Adolphus. It’s a work of art, with carven figures of Adam and Lilith standing in front of a tree, a cat at the base, a piece of fruit in transit between First Man and First Woman so one cannot tell if she offers to he, or otherwise.
Her recent exertions have drained what little strength she had, and the food she’d found in the main kitchen (all servants asleep, the odour of stale mead rising from them like swamp gas) sits heavily in a stomach shrunk so very small by a denial not hers. The polished wooden floorboards of the gallery are cold beneath her thin feet—so thin! Never so slender all her life. A little starvation will do wonders, she thinks. As she moved through the house, she’d caught sight of herself in more than one filigreed mirror and seen all the changes etched upon her: silver traceries in the dishevelled dark hair, face terribly narrow—who’d have known those fine cheekbones had lain beneath all that fat?—mouth still a cupid’s-bow pout and nose pert, but the eyes are sunken deep and, she’d almost swear to it, their colour changed from light green to deepest black as if night resides in them. The dress balloons around her new form, so much wasted fabric one might make a ship’s sail from the excess.
How long before the plumpness returns? Before her cheeks have apples, the lines in her face are smoothed out? She can smell again, now, but all she can discern is the scent of her own body, unwashed for so long. A bath, she thinks longingly, then draws her attention back to where it needs to be: the door.
Or, rather, what lies behind it.