The December issue of Dark Eclipse is out, and I am pleased to have my short story, “Letti’s Monsters” included. This story was previously published in my anthology collection, Of the Night, and received honorable mention at Allegory—
A fallen soldier faces his worst nightmare when he is captured by enemy civilians, but the jungle possesses another kind of horror, one that will unearth the monster within him. Here’s an excerpt:
A voice streamed into Jake’s dream, above the rest. He opened his eyes. His body felt lighter. He wondered if his fever had broken. The little girl, Letti, played in the other room. She came bumbling around the furniture, a doll clutched in one hand, flying as she approached his bed. She regarded him only from the corners of her eyes, as though she were forbidden from looking directly at him.
“Hello.” Her tone suggested no shyness, even without her family around. Jake knew that her father would be upset to find his little girl talking to the fallen enemy.
“Hello,” he managed to reply.
“We thought you were going to die.”
He gave a slight nod. “Me too. My name is Jake.”
“My name is Letti, and my doll’s name is Yuànjìng. That means vision of the future. She can predict when the ‘yá dàs’ are coming.”
“The ape monsters.” Her black eyes flitted to the shelf that held the human-like skull with large teeth.
Jake flinched at the word ‘monster;’ the word his sergeant wouldn’t let anyone say…
Letti’s eyes slid back to him, glazed with fear. “Grandmother says we can’t outrun them and that one day, we will have to face them.”
Run . . . face them . . .
The burning sensation coruscated down Jake’s legs again. “My legs . . . they feel like they’re on fire.”
Letti glanced down the length of him. She propped her doll on a chair, sat next to him, lifting his head with small, delicate hands.
He looked down at his feet. The blanket was flat, smooth against the contour of the makeshift bed.
“What…?” His thighs ended just above where his knees should have been.
“Oh my god. My legs . . . no! What hap—?”
A gruff voice pounded in his ears. Letti’s father had returned from the field, and he was shouting at Letti in Mandarin. It sounded like broken bells falling from a tower. Letti ran, sparing Jake an uneasy glance.
The father walked over to him. Hate seethed behind his tightened eyes. He shouted at Jake, pointing his finger at the skull on the wall, then back at him. Despite their language barrier, Jake understood Letti’s father very well: He was going to throw him to the yá dàs if he ever spoke to Letti again.
A super thanks to Lori and the crew at Dark Eclipse for helping me polish and publish my story with Dark Eclipse. For more information about their publications and upcoming anthologies, visit Dark Moon Books.