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Jenny (A Fairytale)
by Michael Byrne
In the past she had had many names, each one having evolved into legend and folklore, each a variation on a theme of children keeping away from the water’s edge. For the most part the stories’ graphic content seemed to work but there were always one or two younglings that would wander too far, out of bravado or curiosity, to the edge of their known world. Over the years she had noted how the bravery and stupidity of humans skated a fine line and that children seemed inherently prone to both attributes. Waltzing jovially into her watery embrace, unknowingly of course until the last moment. Never seeing her glide under the still waters without making a ripple. Black shark eyes absorbing every movement above the water until, in an explosion of sound she would berth, clasping her leathery reed-encumbered arms around her prey and pulling them effortlessly below. Families would search, siblings would scream, mothers would weep. So it was for centuries that the children of the upper world would become unwilling food for the preternatural. It was a gruesome system but a system none the less. Then the industrial revolution conquered the minds of man and development slowly began to leak its influence into the world. The pond became a functional device for a red keep of steam and smog, the inhabitants of the town growing in number and brood, encroaching ever closer to her domain. With five or six litters per homestead, it was expected that some could not return from their labour at the mill, their unwilling sacrifice keeping her belly full. These golden days were short lived however, a century of feasting slowing down to feeds twice or so a week. But her appetite was a patient one, being able to go weeks without food like a snake or a scorpion in torpor. Still they would come, alone or in cavorting pairs; the missing posters of yesterday littering the park with saturnine confetti that they failed to take heed of. So it was that times changed and thus she changed with them. The world adapted and she in turn adapted her hunt…
About the Author
MICHAEL BYRNE a London based Writer/ Film Maker originally from Rochdale in Lancashire. He writes for his own blog, Static Culture and is currently seeking representation. He says he never truly sets out to write dark or subversive stories but for whatever reason they usually end up that way. His previous work, ‘Gast’, received wonderful reviews from readers of Scribble Magazine, coming second in their quarterly competition. ‘Gast’ can also be found at Static Culture. His film work people can be viewed at Cracked Films.
About the Narrator
A stalwart of the British science fiction scene, Donna Scott is Chair of the British Science Fiction Association as well as a copy-editor and proofreader, enjoying the coolness of working with some of the greats and hot new stars of sf.
She is also co-editor of dark fantasy fanzine Visionary Tongue, which was established in 1995 by fantasy writer Storm Constantine to help bring new writing to the fore and features prose, poetry, interviews and insights into the weird and wonderful world of creativity.
Donna is a well-respected editor within genre, and has worked with Immanion, Angry Robot, Games Workshop and many independent presses. She has recently worked on Alan Moore’s Jerusalem and Best of British Science Fiction 2016 anthology for Newcon Press. Her current project is Best of British Science Fiction 2017.