Sheldon Woodbury turns in stellar work. We’re talking seriously, seriously impressive fiction. This new one is no different than the other work I’ve read from Woodbury, which has been nothing shy of genius. Is it worthy of the Horror Story of the Week nod? You bet your tail it is! Check out a sample below before heading over to the Short Story of the Week page to read the full story.
If you’re interested in seeing your work published in this section, get your submissions sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight, next Tuesday!
And now, here’s a sample of Dark as Hell!
DARK AS HELL
By Sheldon Woodbury
He was slouched next to her in the transport, his pale, dazed eyes staring straight ahead.
Her first thought had been surprise at how small he was, just barely over three feet, and so skinny his skin hung limply on his bones like crumbling cloth. He was also much quieter than she’d expected. She thought all children were loud and boisterous, but not this one. Even when he spoke, his mumbled words were barely above a whisper.
They’d met in the Reception Area, a tiny tomb-like room, just a short time before. A young woman in a somber black uniform had marched her down the hall. They’d stopped in front of a doorway, soft voices murmuring on the other side.
“His name is Klyle,” the young woman said. “But you can change it if you like.”
No, she wouldn’t change it, she’d decided right away, because she was smart enough to know that’s what they wanted.
It was an easy name to remember, that was good, so it’d be an easy name to forget, that was even better.
It was another government program, that’s what she hated most of all. In a world that was already drowning in complications, she hated intrusions of any kind, and that’s exactly what this program was.
Population Control it was called.
In the last fifty years, a strange and unexpected new social movement had suddenly sprouted. More and more women were making a choice, and that choice was not to have children. The population was flat, and would soon be shrinking at a faster and faster rate.
That was the problem.
In place of hard facts, there was the usual surplus of wild guesses and lunatic theories. Some believed it was simply the destiny of the species, there was a secret suicide note hidden somewhere deep in our DNA. Others believed the cause was environmental, the culprit some new unknown strain of microbe that had somehow affected the maternal instinct.
Whatever the reason, women were choosing not to do what they had always done, and the size of the group was growing like an out-of-control virus.
Her name was Consuelo Bonne.
She’d made her decision like so many others. Exactly why, she wasn’t even sure herself. After all, she’d grown up with a brother and a sister, and parents she’d loved.
It didn’t matter. The decision seemed natural and right, so she didn’t feel a need to investigate its origin. It came from somewhere deep inside, that’s all she knew.
Read the full story right here.