“There was no before.” 


This Attraction Now Open Till Late
Kyla Lee Ward

“They were all taught to never ever put their hands into the machine, but she isn’t
inserting her hand. She inserts her stump.”

“There was no before.”

This seems almost too good to be true — such a story turning up on this monumental and momentous morning in the history of the UK where I live. It somehow seems to say everything how we cannot really celebrate, how we cannot work out the cause of the past few years of political plague and foulness. The stump’s trigger that crystallised the moment of things once going wrong, of monsters evolving, with the house fire flames out, yes, thank goodness, but the house is metaphorically gutted, as someone sensible said on the wireless this morning. The monster has not gone. That grim recent past we now share in UK and USA alike that made many good parts of us vanish perhaps forever.
All paralleled, I feel, by this preternaturally inadvertent fable as an engaging story of a house of historic ‘fun’, a masquerade of horror, a story about the characters who dress up as its tableau’s characters, involving phantom limbs and morphing monsters as their paying guests.

“There are wars happening that she didn’t even know about in countries she didn’t know existed.”

“‘Little monsters,’ he mumbles, and something that sounds like ‘some on four.’”

“…a grandfather clock whose hands are set at five minutes to midnight….”


Full context of this review: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/06/10/vastarien-vol-5-issue-1/

PS: Please see the cross-reference in the first comment below.

3 thoughts on ““There was no before.” 

  1. HOW SOON CAN I LEAVE? by Susan Hill

    “The clock had stopped just just before midnight,…”

    A somewhat matching synergy for my reading of a Kyla Lee Ward story this very morning, on this historic day, in which I have read the above Susan Hill story just now with the above title (!), and with the Ward story’s matching reference to “…a grandfather clock whose hands are set at five minutes to midnight….”!
    The Hill story is about two well-characterised women with a quaint form of assumed latent love, women who live together in a seaside town, living together at the suggestion of the older and more oppressive one to enable the younger and meeker, more indecisive one to conduct her handicraft business and also therefore to leave her sea-damp cottage for a better home. The older one later calls the other one ‘pussy-cat’ in front of a young couple and thus humiliates her… forcing the younger one to leave … until she returns … if just for a while? With more than just hints of having effectively killed the older one…?

    Full context of above review: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/05/09/penguin-modern-stories/

  2. Pingback: Synchronicity rampant… | The Gestalt Real-Time Reviews of Books

  3. The next day!…

    Itch in the Party House
    Ivy Grimes

    “The universe was working through Shelley’s hands.”

    This is not only an equally engaging story as a kindred themed (Partygate?) house to that in the previous story above, but also a story that continues the parallel with my own world as it seems to have transpired since yesterday when I reviewed the previous story! The monster insidiously remains; in fact the monster is Shelley’s boss who has explicitly sent out her and her co-workers to tell lies to the public and try to sell a horror. You couldn’t make it up!
    It is the story of Shelley – a woman with rituals and idea-masochistic fixations. “The only other option was to live with a permanent itch in the brain, a nag a nag a nag that never went away.” And she is trying the sell the Party house for her implicated Estate Agent boss, a house that Shelley sees as Jane Eyre-like typhus themed with indoor pool and irrigable corridors, and a resident replicable old woman monster called Agnes. Like the earlier morphed monsters in the previous story, she seems unable to be be killed.

    “Put one finger in the fire to see if it burns.”

    Full context of above review: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/06/10/vastarien-vol-5-issue-1/#comment-25003

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