To celebrate Forbidden February, we are doing so many giveaways it’s crazy! We’ve also discounted our short story subscription, A Gathering of Tales, by 25%! With this membership, you get exclusive access to our short stories delivered straight to your email. Membership starts at less than a buck a month, with first look at our work, exclusive giveaways and more. Throughout the month, we’ll be posting some of those stories here, to whet your appetite and give you a taste of what you’ll find. We’re also doing a giveaway. Comment below with your favorite story and you’ll be automatically entered for our weekly $5 Amazon GC giveaway!
We often do prompts to get the creative juices flowing, and it’s fun to see how different (or similar) our stories end up being. We want to see if YOU can tell which of us wrote which story. So, after picking your favorite, try to guess who wrote what. Dmytry or Kimberly? This first prompt was Mirrors & Monsters.
Let the games begin! (And don’t forget to share with your friends and sign up, if you haven’t yet!)
Mirrors & Monsters (Story A)
He told me one night with him would transform the world into something new. Something previously unseen by anyone but the immortal.
He told me I’d have the eyes of a goddess, able to know the truth in all and hold that truth in my mind long after others had succumbed to their illusions.
My time had approached, the time when Princesses were married off by their fathers. Only the Diamond Aisles of my birth had fallen long ago, my parents dead to events none could recall, my life and history a mystery none could solve.
And so the night came. A full moon with an ominous circle of crimson around it, as if it leaked blood into the night sky. They called it the red moon and said it offered tidings of change.
But changes toward good or evil none could say.
I wore diamond dotted white silk with my golden hair flowing down my back in waves. One hundred strokes of the brush, my attendant had insisted. One hundred strokes to make it shine.
My cheeks were pinched into apples and my lips puckered into strawberries. My attendant giggled like a schoolgirl, despite her years of thirty and five. “You’ll be like dessert to him. Ready to be eaten.”
The other woman attending me—though she was more a girl really, with breasts still budding and hips not yet widened to child-bearing—hid a shy smile at her comment. But the third woman—the oldest of the three with hair whiter than my gown and a face lined with the map of ages—she averted her eyes and looked to her feet. She refused to face me after that.
They walked me to his bedchamber, like guardians of a treasure. The cold stone floor chilled my bare feet and bumps covered my arms. I shivered, hugging myself as we approached.
They did not knock, or speak, but the door opened as if by magic and the man stepped out. He was dark to my light, with a black cloak and hair the color of midnight hanging to his shoulders. Where my eyes were the color of the sky on a clear day, his were darker than the earth after a rain.
He looked at me as if I was already naked and I shivered again, for entirely different reasons. Heat built low in my belly at his look, at how he devoured me with those eyes.
I walked to him willingly, taking the hand he offered. The coldness of his skin ate the warmth of my own, but I did not shy away. I had been born to this, and then chosen it of free will. I would see the truth. I would know the world as only he knew it. And I would be free of the lies piled around me like garbage since my birth.
“Do you accept this gift with open eyes?” he asked in his deep voice, after my three attendants left us.
“Do you accept this gift with an open heart?” he asked, a smile playing on his lips.
“Do you accept this gift with an open soul?” he asked.
“I do.” At that last declaration, something within bent to his will.
He pulled me toward him and the opulence of his bedchamber fell away. The four post canopy bed with crimson covering, the large fireplace with inlaid gold, the terrifyingly beautiful paintings of lovers engaged in acts of violent love, all of it fell away and I fell into his eyes, the dark abyss of surrender bittersweet.
His kiss undid me as his hands pulled the silk from my body, revealing my hard nipples and desperate flesh.
He dropped his cloak and laid me against the bed, pressing his hard, muscular body against mine, pressing his turgid member against my wet center.
“Do you accept me, fair maiden, no matter what you might learn upon sunrise?”
Through my breathlessness I answered him. “I do.”
And then he pushed himself into me even as his teeth extended and bit deeply into my neck. I screamed out in fear of pain, but felt only ecstasy spiral through me in waves of intense pleasure.
When we climaxed together, he kissed me, and I tasted my blood on his mouth and licked it from his teeth, then fell into a deep sleep where dreams do not exist.
I woke the next morning alone, but feeling lighter than air despite sore muscles and an ache in my neck.
Donning my nightgown, since I had no other clothes here, I use the privy and took a moment to explore his bedchamber.
As if drawn by another force, I moved aside a painting of a monster with horns and fangs subduing a reluctant girl. Behind the painting I found a mirror that shined like a pool of silver.
A face pushed out of the mirror and spoke to me. “You wish to know the truth? To see what cannot be unseen?”
The face faded into the pool of silver and my reflection replaced it, only as I stared, my porcelain skin turned red and scaly and my beautiful long hair shrunk into snakes. My blue eyes turned red and glowing and fangs grew from my mouth.
I gasped and jumped back, reaching for my hair and face in fear, but all felt as it should. Then arms encircled me, and when I looked up, it was my lover, but when I looked into the mirror, it was another monster like myself.
“What is this evil sorcery?” I asked.
“You wanted the truth. This is it. The truth of our souls. We are all, each one of us, descendants of demons. The fairytales and lies you’ve been fed are shed from your eyes. You can see any truth in this mirror. And last night, you became my queen.”
I fell to my knees, tears dripping down my face—my demon face. But this was it, this was my chance to learn the truth. “Show me, Mirror. Show me what happened to my family. Show me who I really am.”
And so I saw it all, and what is seen cannot be unseen. I was once the Princess of the Diamond Aisles, but I shall live forever more as the Queen of the Damned.
Mirrors & Monsters (Story B)
I found the mirrors in the attic. They were tall and long and arched in a semi-circle so you could see yourself from all angles. I stepped in between them and twirled, observing my new sunflower dress. My grandma always called me a sunflower, sweet as sweet can be and cute to boot.
My grandma knew nothing.
I didn’t want to be a sunflower, the kind boys found so friendly and cute, but only friendly and cute. I wanted to be a rose, the kind boys chased after even if it meant they’d get pricked. I wanted to be a rose for Mark Payne.
He’d always say hi to me in the hallways at school, and he helped me with homework once when we both sat in detention. But we never ate lunch together, we never met up before school or after. Mark Payne had Katie for that.
Stupid Katie. She always wore those short skirts grandma said made your soul rot inside, and those heels with their click clack against the floor. The Devil’s music, grandma called them, but I didn’t care.
What could be so bad about dressing beautiful? Why could I be sweet as sweet can be and cute to boot, but not hot and sexy like Katie? Boys liked to talk about how hot and sexy Katie was in the cafeteria. I wanted them to talk about me too, and I wanted Mark Payne to listen.
I twirled again in my sunflower dress, more orange than yellow in the dim light, but still bright, still a sunflower, amongst an attic of weaves, covered in webs, full of old discarded toys. I smiled into the mirrors, looking sweet and cute to boot.
And I tore my dress apart.
It didn’t rip as easy I imagined, and bits of it still clung to me, covering up my white undergarments. No more sunflower. No more sweet as sweet—
“Why ruin such a lovely dress?” the voice bounced around the attic, and I turned behind me, checking for grandma. The door way was empty, so I spun back to my reflection.
“Hi,” it said.
I said hi back. In the mirrors, my lips stood still. “What are you?” I asked.
“You. Me. Everyone. I am whatever you want me to be.”
“Why are you here?”
The reflection smiled. “I’ve always been here, but my visitors are few. What brought you up here, to this cold damp place? To this home of spiders and flies?”
“I hate my dress,” I said.
The reflection looked herself over, flicking a piece of yellow off her. “I could see that.”
“My grandma, she—”
“I know all about your grandma, child,” said the reflection. “I see many things amongst the glass.”
I stepped forward, peering in the mirrors but seeing nothing but dusty chests and old chandeliers scattered behind me. “Do you see grandma now?”
The reflection nodded, and the mirror to its side rippled like a pool, and when the ripples cleared, I could see grandma sitting on the couch, watching that soap opera she likes, the one where everyone dresses like a prom queen. How could she watch that and give me more yellow to wear?
“We have a mirror in the living room,” I said, realizing that if I were to peak through that mirror like a window, I would see grandma from the same angle. “Can you see through all mirrors?”
The reflection nodded.
“Can you touch people through them?”
The girl in the mirror tilted her head. “I can, but our worlds aren’t meant to cross. There’s a cost if they do.”
“What kind of cost?”
I put on my cute face out of habit, and then washed it away with a glare. “Could you do something for me?”
“What is it you want?”
“There’s a girl, Katie Lux…”
“I know of her.” The reflection lifted a hand, and the image of my grandmother changed to the image a bathroom. Katie was soaking in the tub, humming a song like some princess from a movie.
“Can you scare people?” I asked.
The reflection nodded.
“Can you scare Katie for me?”
“If you promise to stay with me.”
“Then we have a deal.” The reflection lifted her arm, and it pushed out through the mirror. We shook hands.
“Now watch,” said my reflection as it disappeared.
I peered into Katie’s bathroom and saw myself enter the frame. I looked pale now, white as snow in my undergarments, a white rose full of thorns. Katie kept humming, her eyes closed, swinging her arms in the air like a composer. My reflection walked forward, looming over Katie. It reached forward.
And grabbed Katie by the neck.
Her song turned into the croak of a frog, and I laughed at the tune. She sounds so stupid, I thought. Stupid Katie. Mark Payne is mine.
The croaking stopped. This would be enough, for now. But there would be a next time, and a time after…
My reflection still held Katie by the neck.
“Enough,” I said, giggling. “Enough.”
But still she held on. Until she didn’t.
My reflection disappeared, and I saw myself in the center mirror again.
Katie lay limp in the tub, pale, pale like me.
“I’ll see you again,” I said, turning around.
“Not so fast. We had a deal.”
“I’ll stay with you, but right now I have to go.” I wanted Katie scared, but not hurt, not…
“You wanted her dead,” said my reflection. “You cannot lie to yourself. You cannot lie to me.”
“Leave me alone.” I ran for the door, but something grabbed me, pulling me back toward the mirror. I looked down. Grey, withered hands clutched at my waist. I twisted away, freeing myself, and falling on the floor.
The mirrors loomed over me, dark as night. The reflection, the thing that killed Katie, had turned grey and hollow. It’s flesh fell off in bits, revealing white bone beneath. Claws grew from its hands, and they slipped back in the mirror. “It is done,” it said.
I pushed myself up, ready to go.
And then I saw my hand. Grey and hollow, missing bits of flesh. No. I turned back to the mirror and saw the monster.
“I am you,” it said laughing.
“No!” I screamed, falling to my knees.
“I told you there would a cost.”
“But not this. Not this.”
“This is what you are,” said the monster.
We hope you enjoyed these two short stories. Now it’s time to pick your favorite (and why!) and see if you guess which one of us wrote them! (Dmytry Karpov or Kimberly Kinrade) Leave a comment below with your vote and be automatically entered into our Amazon GC giveaway!
Don’t forget to share with your friends, and if you haven’t yet, sign up for A Gathering of Tales to get short stories delivered straight to your inbox,
You can sign up on the website, or right here.We hope you enjoyed this blog post. Want more from Karpov Kinrade? Check out our Amazon page here. New to our work? Get