Saturday, 29 January 2011

Writer's Circle Post - January 2011

No Florence

Lilith sucked lazily at the cigarette that hung from her lip, inhaling the chemicals deep into her lungs. She savoured the power of the smoke on her tongue, tasting it like a lover. Then, when the potency of the vapour was almost at its height, she expelled it out into the cold air. The smoke lingered in the stillness of the dark evening, curling like parchment towards a pale crescent moon.

She wondered listlessly about the evening ahead. Who would she take tonight? A question that had once filled her with passionate longing now fell flat, like a deflated balloon. Work had been such a drag these last few months.

Lilith took a moment to examine the lethargy that lay, crumpled in the place where otherwise a heart might have dwelt. Despite her current feelings, the job had seemed like the perfect way to feed her hunger. It allowed her to abuse her authority to the advantage of her desires. Men who might have run from her were now booking appointments and waiting in orderly queues for her services. It was convenient, there was no doubt about that. Lilith had never heard of McDonald's, but if she had, she might have laughed at the similarities between fast food and her current situation. But there was little challenge in stealing from the generous and the yielding of her victims only served to increase her longing for something more nutritious.

She missed the chase most of all. The giddy nausea that swan under her skin as she selected a victim and initiated the game. It was difficult enjoy the hunt if the fox presented himself to the hounds, rolled over to expose his fleshy underside and parted his fur to enable a clean bite. The game had been spoilt when Lilith broke the rules, and for that she was truly sorry. But it was too late to apologise now and in the end the only person who had been cheated was Lilith. The men would die regardless of how the game was played. Their part in the drama was small.

But her victims always went to their graves happy. How many other demons could boast such a service?

Lilith smiled and inhaled another lungful of smoke. She remembered the face her last victim, the bliss etched into every cell of his skin and they writhed together, performing his last rite. The chase may have been dampened, but the act itself was still exquisite.

Still, in this new shape, Lilith felt decidedly uncomfortable. The Hippocratic oath was anathema to her, and if her sisters could see the depths to which she had sunk...

Lilith plucked at the name badge on her lurid blue uniform. 'Lilith Stevens, Clinic Nurse.' She leant over and spat meditatively onto the ground. It wasn't an ideal situation, but it served her ultimate purpose. That purpose was to feed. She contented herself in the knowledge that she was the duplicitous arachnid, hollowing out the body of a larger insect and using its familiar colours to lure its prey.

And just like a predator, she would wait.

The wind had begun to bite now and frost had already begun to appear on the windscreens of the cars parked opposite the entrance to the clinic. Lilith finished the cigarette and immediately lit a second. There was no reason not to.

She considered returning to the chase. She could leave here and begin afresh. Prowling the nightclubs and seedy back-water drinking dens, where persuasion and charm would ensure that her exacting tastes were met. But it would be foolish to give up on such a good thing – especially given the steady influx of willing volunteers. Most were drifters and would not be missed. Suspicions would not be roused for some time.

As she began the third cigarette, a young man approached the entrance to the building. A dusting of snow clung to his hair and shoulders, and he brushed it off with a gloved hand as he moved through the automatic doors. Lilith watched with detached interest as the man stamped the snow from his boots and crossed the atrium in the manner of a child, fearful of being caught at mischief. Lilith smelt his scent and the taste of blood rose in her throat setting her eyes ablaze. It was time to steal. Time to feed.

She entered the building, moving silently through the open-plan space and alighting, like a glittering moth, at the reception desk. The young man glanced at her through long greasy hair.

“May I help you?” Lilith intoned.

“Yes,” Said the man, whose face was thin and pre-maturely lined, “I'm here to donate some sperm.” The man glanced down at his shoes once more as he uttered the last word.

“This way,” Lilith smiled, leading the stranger towards the donating room. He entered and she pulled the door closed behind him, her hand lingering on the handle. She sighed, it wasn't quite the as satisfying when the lambs came so willingly to the slaughter. She went into the room.


  1. 'She contented herself in the knowledge that she was the duplicitous arachnid, hollowing out the body of a larger insect and using its familiar colours to lure its prey.'-You.

    I also liked the fox metaphor and would have loved to see it stuck to and throughout the piece. That being said, you've obviously been writing for sometime as the poetic use of alliteration in the first few paragraphs attest. Again, why not continue with the alliteration throughout the whole piece? Or maybe it would lose its affect? Like too much icing on a cake?

    Maybe because her name is Lilith, the repetition of L is 'echoed' throughout?

    I like how we are made to see the victim as a child, weak and beneath. As if, no matter how big he is, there is no escape. The revelation as to the role she is assuming and the convenience she has in obtaining food (Lie MacDonalds) raises the questions as to why she hunts this way. Maybe getting caught by men in the 21st century is a hassle that's cost her sister-folk dearly?

    So many questions raised! And a short story should be about the questions.

    Here is another fav:

    Still, in this new shape, Lilith felt decidedly uncomfortable. The Hippocratic oath was anathema to her, and if her sisters could see the depths to which she had sunk...

    Now, when authors use an overused word like vampire, the piece had better be damn good because otherwise the reader won't be asked to 'work' or fall into the reality, the singular idiosyncratic universe that you're creating. But then, since you didn't even use the word once, you know this.

    I hope you have more stories with Lilith. Maybe seeing her interact with one of her sisters might be daring? Or maybe leaving it as a short is the bolder move, letting the reader create their own imaginings that occur after Lilith follows the lamb into the room.

    When did you write this story and have you done much fantasy horror stuff before? ;)

  2. Hi John, thanks so much for your comments!

    I think you are definitely right about continuing the fox metaphor throughout the piece, it might be more effective in establishing the huntress persona of her as a main character. I see what you mean about the alliteration, but it was unintentional. I think my poet's mind just naturally gravitates to alliteration. It's my favourite poetic device!

    It's interesting that you see Lilith as a vampire, as she was originally intended to be a succubus demon, hence her role at the sperm donor's clinic. Lilith is named after a succubus demon from Ancient Jewish mythology, but I don't think this is obvious enough for the reader though and I'm not sure how I could change it to make the reader aware of her race/species.

    I wrote this piece before Christmas last year, when I first heard about the writer's circle. I have never written any fantasy or horror before, and I thought I would need to try it order to fit in with the leanings of the group. I really enjoyed it. I guess it goes to show that you should always try and write outside of your comfort zone. Having said that, I wrote another fantasy short that was utter balls. You win some, you lose some.

    I'm not at all happy with the title. I was trying to compare Lilith negatively with a more famous nurse, Florence Nightingale, but I think it doesn't really come across. I'm going to have to have a long hard think about how to retitle it.

  3. Where did my comment from about a month ago, go???

    lol, nevamind. I got the succubus ref. Though lilith was Adams first wife did you know? Created as he was, as an individual, but she would not be subjugated to the will of God, and Adam. So she ran off with the kids. Where some stories say they were/became demons/faeries.

    Also some (who that some is, i cant quite remember) say hat vamipre legends were born of those from the succubus/incubus stories. A type of vampirism.

    I like your representation of the modern world, demystified, old horrors made redundant and it turn being swallowed by a consumerist market. Even demons, with all their religious prestige.

    By giving in, embracing the modern way, lillith becomes no better (or worse) than a common sociopath. And a slightly ignorant one.

    Oh and continuing the fox metaphor? Dont flog a dead horse. If you do it will only take up all the room in the path, block your cart, and if you carry on, bits of flesh and blood will get everywhere, so much so that evenually your story is lost beneath it.

    Alliteration rocks!

  4. Thanks for your comments Ms Fox, very much appreciated. I think I might take your advice (from your previous comments) and add more information on Lilith's previous kills. This might make the succubus angle more obvious too? I don't know, but I think there's definitely room for improvement in that regard, so the meaning is not lost. Still struggling for a decent title though...

  5. Didn't know about Adam having a first wife? And such a promising story in regards to her not being subjugated to their will. VERY interesting.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the succubus bit not coming through, not if you intend to write her again. Do you? I don't mind thinking one thing and then being shown that actually, it could be something else. I've read less succubus stories than vampires so I'd like you to lead the way (oo-er!).

    Maybe women are just totally distrusted by men, so all these stories about witches and vampire hussies and succubus' are revelations of that? Equally, you could say men don't trust themselves (vampires and succubi and werewolves, and, hey, the same list) either but I get the impression women get the raw deal here? Care to enlighten me Miss Fox? I've a feeling you could shed some light on the matter as fantasy and horror are quite your patch.

    And regarding that Leanne, write whatever you want. I've a kids story called Why is Wigloo that I'm hoping will work for you guys. It's a Babushka Doll story that'll be up later in the year.

    Maybe reading it to Rowan might yield some insights eh Ash?

    I think a little more of the fox metaphor couldn't hurt, but hey, obviously you don't wanna over do it. You'll know when you do cos we'll tell you!

    I think that the title doesn't quite help but the idea is good.

    I want more Lilith. Bring her to me!

  6. originally adam had three wives, but let me get to my comment.
    i thought it was incredibly well written, but there are a few words missing in some of the sentences. the best thing to do is read it out loud and you'll be able to figure out what's missing, or what could make the sentence 'flow' better.
    Lilith is very downtrodded, which is a new way of portraying her and adds a sense of realism. i would have liked a little more humor, she's a powerful demon who works in a sperm centre a lot of scope for comedy there.

  7. Oooo! Tell me about the other one then. Seems there is tons I don't know about Adam.
    I like the serious element in this and humour might ruin the vibe. Still, if you wanted to take it that way...

    Which sentences don't flow?

  8. Thanks Ella, I can see a few of those word omissions now. Proof-reading was never my strong suit! I considered adding more humour, I will be fleshing out the story a bit too I think, so that's definitely something I will look at for the re-write.

    Thanks everyone, this has really been incredibly helpful. I can't wait for next month's post!

  9. Humour is something you do well, dont feel like you have to limit what you write to 'fit' in the circle (ha), it should be the exact oposite :)

    And the other wife was more of a proto tye really, Adam got grossed out watching God play with all the bloody, boney, mucusy bits that makes a person (im sure could sympathise Leanne) and wouldnt shag her. So she was destroyed...puts an interesting spin on Christain morals regarding cloning, no?

    I'd look forward to you playing with this story some more. I like it for what it is, but putting it through some trickys plot turns would be fun.

  10. A few missed words but nothing too bad. Very interesting story. Wasn't sure which way you were going but I knew it wasn't in any way I was going to think. Interesting place for a demon to operate. The story is a little short, but a good starter project, and could be developed into something further if desired. Very clean without a lot of fluff, good solid wording and syntax. You keep the reader moving along to want to find out the surprise

  11. Thanks for your comment Stephen. I do have a tendency to start well but loose interest, hence the shortness of the story. I plan on expanding this a little bit, so hopefully I can expand on the story without ruining the style.

  12. Why not 'No Nightingale'? It'd continue the whole animal metaphor theme but it wouldn't be too much I don't think. Plus extra alliteration is always good!

    Oo and there's a really good book by Alex Bell that talks about Lilith - it's called the Ninth Gate - I think you'd like it.

    (And just to let you know I got the succubus reference)

    Fabulous as always


  13. Hey Hannah, thanks for your comment. It's clear from your comments that if everyone who read this story had known me for thirteen years, they would all get the references!

    I'm really unhappy with the title, I'm thinking of changing it to 'Fast Food' but that doesn't quite work either, so I will have to further ponder it. I've added a few more paragraphs to make the succubus angle a bit less subtle too - I will put up the new version when it's finished.

    Thanks very much for taking the time to read my stuff and comment, I really appreciate it :)