Latest Posts

The Attic Tragedy by J. Ashley-Smith - Book Tour + Giveawy

By 5:00 AM , , , , ,

THE ATTIC TRAGEDY by J. Ashley-Smith
GENRE: Dark Fantasy / LGBT / Novelette

Sylvie never called them ghosts, but that’s what they were—not that George ever saw them herself. The new girl, Sylvie, is like a creature from another time, with her old-fashioned leather satchel, her white cotton gloves and her head in the clouds. George watches her drift around the edge of the school playing fields, guided by inaudible voices.
When George stands up for Sylvie, beating back Tommy Payne and his gang of thugs, it brings her close to the ethereal stranger; though not as close as George would have liked. In the attic of Sylvie’s father’s antique shop, George’s scars will sing and her longing will drive them both toward a tragedy as veiled and inevitable as Sylvie’s whispering ghosts.

BUY LINKS: Meerkat Press | Amazon Indiebound | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

One Saturday, toward the end of term, I met Sylvie at the edge of town and we took a path through the woods to the reservoir. At the eastern end, there was a car park and a playground with barbecues and picnic tables. At the other, a wood crisscrossed with paths where, by day, locals came to walk their dogs and, by night, lonely men roamed in search of one another. Cutting through those trees, you came out on the furthest corner of the lake, where a steep wooded slope met the water’s edge at a concrete storm drain.
We lay side by side on top of the outlet, watching clouds commingle, drifting together, congealing into a thick gray blanket in the sky above. We listened to the echoey drips from deep in the storm drain, the gentle lap of water against the bank. We heard, in the distance, the sound of children, playground sounds, shouts, tears. Someone paddled an inflatable dinghy at the other end of the reservoir.
“So what do they sound like?” I asked. “The voices. When you hear them.”
Sylvie lay beside me so close I could almost feel her, feel her proximity like an electric current. My hand burned to reach for her, my little finger edging, edging, longing to connect. She seemed so small beside me, so compact; there was not one bit more of her than she needed, and not even that much. My fingers stretched and recoiled, daring then afraid, expanding and contracting like some skittish undersea creature; the kind of thing that dwells in shadow on the ocean floor, its hideous misshapen body an insult to nature.
“It’s not a sound,” Sylvie said, “so much as an . . . everything. An everything all at once. And all of them different. No two the same. Some smell like cold water, all silver and smoke. Some taste like rust with a shape like tree roots or seaweed. Others are all colors, all the colors all at once, only invisible, soundless, the taste of color and the smell of silence.”
I laughed, not mean, just . . . bewildered. “That makes no sense,” I said. “I don’t even understand one word you just said.”
“It’s hard to explain,” she said. “It’s not like words or pictures. The room is just full of . . . of everything, that all-at-once everything that’s a taste and a smell and a sound and then I touch it and I just know. Then it’s inside me.”
Above us, the clouds were thickening, the air close and metallic. From beyond the lake, the first rumble of thunder, like someone dragging a heavy box. My searching finger made contact, found the soft warmth of the edge of Sylvie’s hand. I goose-pimpled, felt inside-out shivery. Sylvie snapped her head round to look at me, so quick it was like she’d been electrocuted.
“I’m sorry,” I croaked and turned away, my brows knitted so tight they ached. “I didn’t mean—”
Sylvie laid a hand on my chest. I glanced back and she had turned toward me, was looking right at me, unblinking. I pinched the skin of my wrist between two fingernails, pinched and pinched until the sharp pain pulled me up from the bottomless ache in my heart.
“Don’t be sorry,” she said. “Don’t ever be sorry. You’re beautiful, George. You’re tree roots and fresh mown grass and the smell of rocks and apples. What’s inside you is so real, so alive. It’s burning you up.”
At that moment the rumbling rolled right over us and the mountain shook with an explosion of thunder. Mist clung to the water and the first drops fell. I could see the rain across the lake like a dark curtain dragged toward us. In a moment, the air was filled with water and we were laughing and scrabbling down the side of the storm drain and into the wood, soaked through.
Sylvie ran ahead, a forest sprite flitting before me along the path. I panted behind, losing ground with each thump and slap of my feet on the sodden earth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  J. Ashley Smith is a British–Australian writer of dark fiction and other materials. His short stories have twice won national competitions and been shortlisted six times for Aurealis Awards, winning both Best Horror (Old Growth, 2017) and Best Fantasy (The Further Shore, 2018).
J. lives with his wife and two sons in the suburbs of North Canberra, gathering moth dust, tormented by the desolation of telegraph wires.

AUTHOR LINKS: Website Twitter

GIVEAWAY: $50 Book Shopping Spree!

You Might Also Like


Please try not to spam posts with the same comments over and over again. Authors like seeing thoughtful comments about their books, not the same old, "I like the cover" or "sounds good" comments. While that is nice, putting some real thought and effort in is appreciated. Thank you.