The IWSG Anthology blog will be featuring posts from each of the contributing authors in Dark Matter: Artificial over the next few weeks. We’ve asked them to share a little about how they came up with their stories and preview what’s to come!
Kim Mannix on her short story, “Rift.”
It’s difficult to remember exactly how the seeds of a story take hold, isn’t it? Or maybe that’s just the case for me. This one started about two years ago. I had the pleasure of being a part of a mentorship program where I worked with horror writer and filmmaker Susie Moloney in order to develop a collection of dark short fiction. Together, we picked at and sharpened some of my existing stories, but she also challenged me to create a few from scratch. So, I wrote a draft, and then another, but the story--"Rift"--mostly just sat there, lonely and incomplete. When the IWSG Dark Matter call came along, it served as good motivation to finish it.
My favourite kind of weird stories--whether they be literary, horror, dark fantasy or science-fiction--are those that are rooted in a believable sort of reality. I had a character in my mind of a woman who found herself alone and dealing with a certain amount of guilt about it, even though the circumstances were out of her control. Having had my own losses in life, I suppose part of it was drawn from personal experience, but what really made me want to write the story was the whole notion of, what if this isn’t the only world for us? What if there’s a place where another version of our life exists? I am by no means a scientist, but the idea of the multiverse is one of my favorite things to ponder. So I took my character, Lindy, and put her in a seemingly boring and normal setting, that still held the possibility for something extraordinary to develop. The wide open and isolated prairie, not unlike places I spent much of my childhood growing up in Saskatchewan, often find their way into my stories. I think all that expanse leaves a great deal of room for the imagination to run wild.
I was, and still am, surprised and pleased that Rift was selected to appear in the anthology. When I’m not writing for work, most of my creative writing time goes into poetry, but my heart--and writing aspirations--always come back to fun, creepy and weird short fiction. It’s so exciting to have my story in the company of such accomplished writers, and I can’t wait to hold this anthology in my hands!
One quiet morning, a grieving woman encounters a mystery that makes her question the path her life has taken, as well as everything she thought she knew about reality. How thin is the fabric between her world and the next?
Lindy reached down and picked up a handful of stones from the edge of the pond. She tossed them one at a time, asking herself the same agonizing question she had so many times before. If the baby had lived would Matt still be here?
After the fifth toss, Lindy realized the rocks weren’t making any ripples in the still pond. Only the smallest splash, and then they’d sink. She threw a few more and watched, in confusion, as they did the same thing.
“You seeing this, Janeway? What is up with this day?”
The horse neighed back and started twitching her ears. Lindy heard, or rather felt, an odd rumble that seemed to move across the air. Janeway shifted back and forth and whinnied louder. The vibration continued, and Lindy grabbed the reins and pressed her palm to the horse’s neck.
“Shhhh, shhhh, it’s ok girl.”
The rumble stopped as suddenly as it started. Lindy looked over the fields, then up to the sky, trying to find the source. Thunder? It didn’t seem like that exactly. It felt closer and sharper. Like someone scraping heavy furniture across a floor. She kneeled on the dirt, and put her ear toward the ground, listening and waiting. For what, she didn’t know.
Coming on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 . . .
Next up is Steph Wolmarans, who shares about her upcoming story, “The Utten Mission.”