A Sale! "The Cultist's Son," To Apex Magazine

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

“This is the third story I’ve read from Ferrett Steinmetz,” someone once said in a forum post.  “Can someone check in on him?  Make sure he’s okay?”
Yeah, I tend to write dark stories.  I don’t mean to, it’s just a lot of them lead down that path.  So I’m used to dealing with characters in bad places.
Yet when I wrote “The Cultist’s Son,” a tale about the damaged son of a former Shub-Niggurath cultist, I wrote literally the darkest thing I’ve ever written.  It’s black.  Jet-black and howling.  It was so bad that when I wrote it I fell into a week-long depression, because god damn this was exploring some wretched places within me.  I don’t think I can write anything darker, or more X-rated….
…and yet somehow this became one of my best stories, for Reasons I Cannot Spoil.
I didn’t think I could sell it.  But I did, to a market I’ve longed to crack for some time: Apex, one of the best dark fiction markets.  It’s coming out in the April issue, along with a rather meaty interview with Yours Truly (and a host of other good authors with good stories).  So I’m quite happy.  And it should be out shortly.
The usual taste:

“I used to think the sky would peel open,” the girl with the green hair confesses, curling black-nailed fingers around a can of Pabst.  “I always had bloody knees, because I never looked down when I walked — I’d clasp my eyes to the sky, bracing myself for the sight of a gigantic hand pulling aside the clouds.  If I saw Him coming, maybe I could pray hard enough in time for God to forgive me.  Otherwise… Mom told me I’d burn like the whore I was.  In sixth grade.”
Her smile is shy, a crooked little secret that Derleth likes.  He finds his own head bobbing in agreement, his body resonating to the tune of her broken childhood.
The girl’s smile melts into a relieved grin; she’s discovered a fellow member of a secret society in a cold and hostile land.  She grasps his hand.
“You know, don’t you?” she whispers.  He can barely hear her over the death metal band onstage, pounding out a Cannibal Corpse cover tune.  “You know what it’s like to live in fear of the world ending?”
Derleth closes his eyes.  He can see the clouds parting across the mesa, black lightning slithering to the ground.  Except it’s not lightning — it’s tentacles tumbling from the sky, suckered and glistening and rooted to something big enough to have engulfed the Earth.  They flop down from cumulus clouds, slapping against the ground hard enough to cause tremors.  The rusting tin shed caves in, collapsing upon his six brothers before the corrugated walls are scooped away by a questing tendril.  A hundred other boneless limbs descend hungrily upon his squalling brothers.  They haul them, wailing, up into the sky, up with a billion other innocents plucked from collapsing skyscrapers, mud huts, once-sleepy suburbs.  Clouds, now tinged with crushed red.
All the while, Mother dances in crazed triumph, naked, breasts flopping.  Spattered in blood, she gargles the syllables that beckoned the Goddess here…
Derleth shakes off the — dream?  Idea?  It’s hard to say.  The girl with the green hair chews her pierced lip.  She’s so afraid he’ll laugh at her, so relieved she thinks she’s found someone who shares her terror of the Rapture, that already she’s confusing intensity for love.
Derleth thinks of himself as an empty cabinet.  He knows if he remains quietly agreeable, people will stack up his insides with their own needs and desires, imbuing him with all sorts of cheerful motivations.  And since he does not trust his own voice — Mother’s doing — he finds that preferable to telling people who he is.  Was.
Except now, he’s found someone who knows a part of him.
“You were raised by fundamentalists, too,” she begs, trying to make a light game of it.  “Weren’t you?”
He turns away from her to dive into the mosh pit, terrified of the unknowable, always terrified of the unknowable.

1 Comment

  1. Sara Harvey
    Mar 21, 2014

    I’m so glad that story found a home. And yes it was HORRIBLE and DARK and AWESOME and WONDERFULLY WRITTEN!
    And to APEX!! It’s a one-two punch!
    *tosses glittering confetti!!*

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