Gothic Fiction, Pagham-verse, Podcast, The Crows

Podcast S01E16 ~ Chapter 14 Up Now!

Chapter 14 of The Crows is online today!

CW for mutation and eldritch body horror.


Links on my podcast page.

Chapter 14: Victory is Mine

…in which Part One of Ricky’s prophecy is fulfilled…

The front door opened and shut.  

Her footsteps made him smile. She would be the first to see him Change. That felt fair, somehow.  

“Oh my God, Ricky!”  

Her hand reeked of processed sugars, but he tried not to show his distaste. 

“Good, you got here,” he managed, as the split reached his throat. “Not – not long.” 

“What’s happening?” 

(Oh, she was doing it again, stroking his head, the decadence, that delicious, edible feeling, flowing through him, corrupting like sepsis.) 

He rolled his eyes back, pressing his head into her hand. His guts ached, the Changes rolling and breaking in feverish waves.  

“It hurts,” he moaned, another knife-twist wrenching something free that shouldn’t be. “Fuck me, it bloody hurts…” He looked down: his stomach bulged, skin in two flaps like an unbuttoned shirt, draped uselessly over an amniotic sac of anaconda coils. Mucus coated his hands as he tried to hold himself together, hands he didn’t recognise as his.  

(His, or hers? Was there a difference? Can’t tell, can’t see, can’t feel anymore.) 

“Ricky, what do I do? What’s happening?” 

His eyelashes fluttered involuntarily as he forced himself to focus on her face, and it took him a moment to realise why she appeared to be strobing.  

(What’s that? Never seen that expression before. She worried, or what?) 

————————————————- (…they call it ‘concern.’) 

(You in here too? Bloody hell, head’s getting crowded, head’s bursting.) 

That was a conscious thought too far. The pressure-pain shot into his skull, breaking over his brain beneath the bone. Thought evaporated. Skin split. Nerves screamed, wrenched apart. Synapse flares dotted his blank-eyed vision, turned in on himself, inside-out, ripped open. Things crunched into place.  

He threw off his old name with his old skin, both too small for him now. They lay discarded on the kitchen floor as he stretched, setting his monstrous beauty free. At last, it tasted the air, opened its third eye, saw the glory of the wyrd as plainly as the dancing constellations of the sun-robbed sky.

~ C. M. Rosens, The Crows, pp. 298-99

So this is where Ricky’s full body change happens – from his POV so you’re not entirely sure what he looks like, since everyone knows that kind of horror is indescribable – but he has also intertwined himself with Fairwood and Carrie. I couldn’t make Fairwood’s thought be right aligned on its own in this format, and that’s why there’s a row of dashes to keep it over the other side of the page where it’s supposed to be!

Fairwood’s thoughts now look the same as his (…in brackets and not in italics, but they keep the ellipses at the start), and Carrie is also thinking in the same way that Ricky does (in brackets, not italicised). When her own thoughts reassert themselves, you’ll see them

in italics and centre aligned

to show that she’s now caught somewhere between Ricky (left) and the house (…right), and struggling to be who she is, rather than who they want her to be. It’s difficult to represent this by reading, so I’ve taken out the background whispers until Fairwood gets back to thinking more like itself. It was the best way of visually representing the total mess it becomes once everyone invades everyone else’s heads, and the way the three of them are so interconnected but want to have their own agency.

It’s easier when you’re just reading the book to see what’s going on! But I do explain this at the end of Chapter 16 on the podcast where all 3 thoughts end up in Carrie’s head at once. So if you haven’t bought it yet to read along… what are you waiting for?

If you’re waiting or the audiobook version – then yes, that is coming, and once the podcast S1 has finished I’ll collate the episodes and produce a ‘clean’ narration of the text with the sound effects and so on but no intro/outro, just the chapters running straight through. You’ll be able to buy it as an mp3 file from my Ko-Fi shop, and I’ll try to submit it to Audible if the file is good enough quality. Again – I’m not a professional! The audiobook will cost the same as the ebook.

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