'A Matter of Perception' - a collection of perception challenging urban fantasy and magical realism short stories.
by Tahlia Newland
Ellen scanned the rocks and gasped. Ragged ethereal bodies floated towards her, staring with the sightless eyes of long dead sailors.
“Ghosts!” she rasped, grabbing Con’s arm. “Con, there’s ghosts. We have to get out of here.”
He looked around, unmoved. “Jesus, Ellen,” he said disdainfully when his gaze returned to her. “You’re imagining things.”
“Con, will you just listen to me for once. Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t here. We honestly have to get out of here!”
“You never said you had a girl,” a voice croaked from the shadows.
Ellen and Con spun around. An old woman stepped into the growing light. Her pale eyes glittered keenly and her skin had a strange greyish sheen.
Ellen shot a glance at Con. He frowned.
“It’s the woman that told me about this place,” he whispered. “I didn’t know it was a rendezvous.”
“Get ready, now.” The old woman stared at Con with chilling intensity, then turned towards the now glowing horizon. “The sun heralds the winter equinox.”
Con looked at Ellen and shrugged. “It’s what we came for.”
The woman chuckled quietly and Ellen had a strong urge to grab Con and run away, but the ghosts stopped moving and gold suddenly streaked the horizon. A giant fiery orb rose into the sky, splashing light across the land. It gilded the rocks, bringing their jagged forms into stark relief. It kissed their faces with the promise of warmth and illuminated something rising to the surface of the ocean. Ellen peered into the brine. Beautiful white-faced women stared back at her, their long hair flowing on the waves behind them.
An eerie, enchanting song danced on the rising breeze. Con took a step forward. Ellen grabbed his arm.
“No,” she hissed.