The sea was now in retreat. The air smelt swept clean. Water collected in the ripples on the sand and reflected the blue sky overhead.
Donald, Magnus’s younger son, saw the dead seal first. Magnus squatted beside it. Its neck was badly bruised and one of its eyes had gone. A flipper was missing.
“What happened to it, Dad?”
Magnus rolled it over. His cursory post-mortem was inconclusive.
“I don’t know.”
They followed the curve of the beach, and there lay mackerel, herring and ugly monkfish, dull eyes wide in surprise at their fate. Some were whole, but most were torn up, the clumsy dissection revealing guts and flesh already starting to rot.
“Shame. What a waste.”
They picked their way through more seal carcasses. These had fared less well. Most were missing great chunks. Some looked bitten down to bone, the edges black and high.
“Rank.” Peter covered his nose.
“It’s nature.” Magnus loved his sons too much to coddle them. “We all end up like this.”
Magnus meant rotting, not chewed up. Donald screwed up his face.
They found pieces of oars too, beaten and worn. A rowing boat with a hole in its hull. A length of fearsome looking chain. The ocean bed had been dredged and deposited on the shore.
After a quarter of a mile, the soft ascent of beach onto land was replaced by vertical columns of rock. The container was in the cliff’s shadow.
“Maw” is a new story of mine that will appear in NEW FEARS 2, edited by Mark Morris. It’s not in my new collection from Undertow Publications.
Mark Morris has posted this on his Facebook feed with regards to NEW FEARS 3-
“Despite the amazing feedback, NEW FEARS hasn’t *yet* sold enough copies in the UK and the US for Titan to commit to any further volumes of the series, which means there almost certainly *won’t* be a NEW FEARS 3 next year. I’m pretty gutted about this, as I dearly wanted NEW FEARS to be an annual anthology in the tradition of the old Pan and Fontana paperbacks.
Every cloud has a silver lining, however, and Titan have not yet cancelled the series outright, but merely put it on hiatus while they assess the situation. What this basically means is that NEW FEARS needs to sell more copies if it’s to have any chance of continuing beyond a mere two volumes. So if you’ve been thinking of buying the book, but haven’t got around to it yet, could I please urge you to take the plunge and order a copy? Alternatively, if you’ve already got the book, then please tell others about it, or buy copies for friends and family as presents (whether they like horror fiction or not).
I’ve had *so much* feedback from people telling me that an annual, non-themed, mass-market horror anthology of original fiction is what the genre has been crying out for for years – but the bottom line is that in order for the series to continue each volume needs to earn out for the publisher.” Mark Morris
This mades me sad, not as a writer, but as a reader. Horror is being squeezed. So is the small press. Without them, I wouldn’t have venues to send my work to for consideration but more importantly I wouldn’t have places to go and read new stuff, the really challenging, beautiful and subversive stuff that’s hard to find in mainstream publishing. Even if you don’t like “Maw”, NEW FEARS is a buffet, so something else will be to your taste. Not sure about NEW FEARS? Try TTA Press, Undertow Press, Unsung Stories, Black Shuck Books or Fox Spirit.
Money is getting tighter for everyone except Kim Kardashian. If you can buy just one book, it will mean these hardworking people will be able to continue publishing wonderful fiction. Ask someone to order one for you as a birthday present instead of them buying you a pack of socks (unless you need a pack of socks). Socks get holes in them. Books are forever.
NEW FEARS 1 is still available and you can pre-order NEW FEARS 2 now (links below).