Monday, 26 December 2011

Editor's Christmas Special... LICKING IT UP by Lily Childs

I'd like to echo Col's message and wish everyone a great holiday and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012. I'm looking forward to reading/posting more delicious horror from you in the New Year so don't be afraid to make me afraid.

Here's my Editor's Christmas Special Licking It Up. If you think you've been tricked into a light-hearted piece of gastro chick-lit, please do read on...

Licking It Up

We’d all been looking forward to the annual glam-fest with its usual tinsel and trolloping about, and had agreed to make an early start. Big mistake - I get bored too easily, then the craving starts; it’s inevitable.

Casa Molana in Broad Street served fusion food and confusing drinks. I decided to play it safe. A green Margarita, heavy on the tequila with plenty of crushed ice - no salt. As soon as Jodie’s old-fashioned Martini arrived I so wished I’d ordered one instead. Classic, classy – everything Jodie wasn’t. The cocktail should have been mine. Sucking through a squat black straw I grumped and grouched and examined the way-too-long menu.

We had a gossip and a bitch and I forgot about my annoyance - until the starters arrived. The waiter minced up to us and placed three plates in all the wrong places. Jodie tutted and swapped them around. I looked at my potted shrimp and knew, before I even tasted it that it would be disgusting. Wrapped in thick, transparent gelatine the prawns were huge. I picked all the jelly off and prodded one of the pink monsters before forking the thing. I gagged as it hit my tongue. Cold, tasteless – it hung in my mouth like a watery fibroid. I swallowed it quickly to stop the rising bile. That wasn’t potted shrimp. Potted shrimp has a delicious pâté quality to it; a buttery melt in your mouth-ness, all studded with gorgeous chunks of prawn. I shoved the foul offering away.

Beside me Adie – Adrianna – had ordered a poncey-sounding chicken liver parfait in a warm marsala coulis. I’d laughed as she read it out from the menu but when the dish actually appeared my heart fell. It looked bloody gorgeous. We all drooled at the sight and moved in closer. Adie let each of us have a dip with a smidgen of bread – it tasted like heaven.

I prayed my main course would make everything right, make me feel better - guinea fowl in a Normandy cream, cider and caramelised apple sauce. It arrived. The meat was brown and gamey, not white and peppery as it should be and the apples were burnt. I dug at the sautéed potatoes, only to find the golden crisp exterior hid a par-boiled lump of lead, and when I bit into the squeaky French green beans they spat butter all over my brand new midnight-blue top. Perfect.

Lisa, with her sweet lips pursed to an unnecessary level of cuteness actually squeaked when her main course arrived. I was quite surprised; I hadn’t heard her order blue steak and lobster tails. She giggled - a rapacious child - cutlery in her hands ready and waiting to attack. I watched her face, studying the pale, steely grey eyes that darkened to reflect the carnage as she ripped into the meat. Taking the first bite she looked up at all of us, her smile savage. The flesh on Lisa’s plate had been flash-griddled – a minute at most on either side. She poured a Roquefort sauce onto a dark-leafed salad and watched the blood streak curling patterns into the pale yellow cream. Spittle glistened at the corner of her lips as she anticipated the next mouthful. I don’t eat red meat, but by God I wanted it at that moment.

I left my own plate scattered with bones and slivers of fowl; a disappointment – as was the Chardonnay I’d ordered to go with it. Crisp, pale – and decidedly unoaked - the bloody thing was Italian. Cheap Italian at New World prices. I knew at the first unscented sip that it would give me heartburn like so many Pinot Grigios.

“Would you bring me the wine list please?” I asked a passing waiter who vaguely nodded in my direction. I handed the offending Chardonnay across the table to Sarah; she usually stuck to water, being so skint.

“Oh, really? Thanks babe.”

She grabbed the glass and downed half the wine in one gulp. At least someone appreciated it.

The indifferent waiter arrived with the wine list for me and dessert menus for all of us. I mumbled a request for a large Merlot and looked around to see what the others were up to. Despite complaints of full bellies and the inability to dance later I counted three Banoffi Pie orders, two Eton Messes and five Tiramisus. How could they? Jeez. I don’t have a sweet tooth – I just don’t get it. I declined to order, feeling suitably smug until I heard Ellie ask for the Spanish Cheese Platter with sliced pear and a walnut chutney. I nearly succumbed but with Ellie sitting opposite me I thought I’d just wait for hers to arrive and try a nibble, if she’d let me. 

She did. I leant over the table towards the slice she held out on the end of small wooden paddle and took the smallest suck of the ewe’s milk cheese. Oh heaven and bliss on a stick – even the tiniest morsel was exquisite. We looked up as the restaurant owner, smiling graciously, came over to demonstrate how to best eat the Manchega. He cut a thin wedge of pear, sandwiching it between the cheese and a chunk of chutney, then picked up a tiny pot I hadn’t noticed and dribbled what he explained was his family’s own Valencian thyme honey over the combination. Fantastic. It looked... fantastic. And Ellie had it. Not me.

It wasn’t my night. All my girl friends had everything I wanted; everything I needed. I had nothing. I slumped down in my chair and drank several glasses of Cointreau together with a thick double espresso and let the others argue over the bill and tip. Before we even got in the cab I was shaking with the caffeine and more drunk than I wanted to be.

They all pulled. Of course they did; they’re stunners, each and every one of them. Fed up, and writing another Christmas off as lonely and shagless I grabbed my coat to leave – alone - when I saw him. Drop dead gorgeous; angry but vulnerable and so damned pretty. He watched my friends and every other dancer on the floor with a moody glare. Before I could make my move Liz already had her claws out, ready to nail him. I decided to stay.

Somehow we all ended up going back to Liz’s flat – Club Boy too. And that’s when everything changed. I couldn’t let Liz have him – it was one tease too many, besides I’d recognised something familiar about her treat that night. I noticed how his skin shone translucent in a certain light, how he licked his teeth when he smiled. It had been so long since I’d had one of my own I just couldn’t resist it. I only had myself to blame for the bad choices I’d made earlier in the evening but this was just right. Although Liz had pissed me off with her usual man-eater act I did love her – as I love them all – so thought I’d better warn her.

“Sorry Sweets,” I said in the kitchen as Liz hung her head, a solitary tear ripping through the thick foundation trowelled onto her face. I wiped it away with a thumb and kissed her on the cheek. My lips lingered as I breathed in the throbbing pulse at her neck. Liz pushed me off, reaching for a bottle and a glass with an unsteady hand.

For a moment I felt bad, but I knew she’d thank me in the end. I put my arms around her waist and whispered in her ear.

“I know him. He’s mine. I’m afraid he’s always been mine.”

“You’re bastards, you gay blokes,” she spat, deliberately misunderstanding. Her nose ran and she wiped it on her wrist like a child. “Why are you always the most gorgeous ones?”

She walked away and I heard her mutter the old classic under her breath. “What a bloody waste, and poor bloody me.”


His name was Christos. It suited him. He would be my Yuletide present to myself and I was ready to unwrap. Christos stood with his back against the front door barely able to disguise his irritation.

“She was my feed,” he said finally, blaming me for his hunger.

“Not tonight, I replied. “Not any night.”

I left my girls to bitch about me and walked Christos a fumbling and sticky mile home with the promise of sex and a fridge full of blood afterwards. He got the sex, but I just didn’t feel like sharing any more after that.

His head came away from his body quite easily. I’d garrotted him – he thought it part of the game until his eyes shone livid with shock, his lips swelled – blue and pert.

I don’t suck the blood off the deceased any more; I don’t need to. But I extracted it with trusty, well-used equipment and in the morning drove down to the hospital with it and the remains to visit an old mate. One of us, he looks after the bodies - and any excess blood - gratefully received.

I hadn’t risked feeding on Christof’s blood myself; I didn’t know where he’d been or who he belonged to. The hospital supplies me with more than my fair share so I feel it is only right to make the occasional donation, get it cleansed before it’s sold on to the local tribes.

I picked up a box of fresh vials, stored at the right temperature. I like it chilled these days – more Mohito than cocoa. When I got back to the house I found Liz sitting on the doorstep. She smiled, sad.

“Was he worth it?” she asked, reaching for my hand. I pulled her to her feet.

“Not really. You wouldn’t have liked it.”

She nodded.

“I didn’t tell the others. Bit of a double-humiliation-whammy really.”

Interesting; unlike Liz my reputation remained intact.

“Yeah,” I said. “I understand. Sorry hun, but...”

She cut me off with a wave of a perfectly-manicured hand and we walked down the hallway to the kitchen where she watched me stash my chinking glass ampoules in the refrigerator.

“Where’d you do it?”

I laughed and nodded at the staircase. She reached my bedroom in seconds. I ran up behind her in time to catch her expression. My bed was made, everything gleamed clean, white... almost clinical. Liz’s disappointment was palpable.

“Dammit. I just wanted to see the scene, smell him.”

She threw herself onto my crisp sheets and kicked off her shoes. I knew what was coming – and it wasn’t me.

“Don’t you ever, you know... want one of us?”

I laughed.

“What, girls – or the living?”

Liz lay back on the bed, stretching out her legs.

“Both,” she said.

I didn’t reply.


We held the funeral in the New Year. Not that there was much left to cremate. The police were still looking for ‘Christos’, a strange, intense drifter. All of us had given the same account; how the guy stared at us all night, how only Liz hadn’t seemed to notice the haunted expression, the blank eyes. Seemed Christos was already an urban myth, moving between towns blatantly stalking his prey in full view of the night crowd before ripping their hearts out with his teeth in dark alleys or bedrooms. Cops up and down the country had been gathering descriptions of him and his methods for years, too many years – and were convinced they were chasing copy cat attackers.

My tears were genuine as the white coffin disappeared behind thick blue curtains. I felt shame. I had lost a friend to guilty lust for the first time in hundreds of years; it was why I stopped playing with girls in the first place. My answer to Liz’s final question – had I taken the time to reply instead of fucking and biting her to death – would have been “Yes. Girls – the living, I want you both.”

For the first time I shivered in the sunlight as we traipsed back to our cars, and I recognised the beginning of the end. The memory of Liz’s flesh in my hands was still fresh in my mind. I’d dribbled it with some of Christos’ blood I’d kept for posterity before half-burying lumps of Liz in a trail across the countryside – London-bound – where it could easily be discovered.

We kissed at the car-park – all of us.

“Jeez, babe – you’re so cold,” Sarah wrapped me against her bosom. I pulled away – the smell of her, the heat of her – the desire rising too fast in my mouth, in my groin.

“Gotta go,” I slurred and clambered into my Peugeot.


I’ll send them postcards next week, once I’ve put the house up for sale. They all know I’m a sucker for the Algarve in the winter – and I’ve got just enough time to get a flight before it’s no longer an option. I don’t think any of them will be surprised that I’ve given up on soulless England and taken my bones somewhere warm. They’ll forget me over time – they’ll have to. They know what I am, but they don’t know what I’ve done. And that’s how it must stay.

I take a final look in the mirror; I’m already half the man I used to be – transparent, gaunt.

Still beautiful.

Like Liz.

This time next Christmas I’ll be living in a box, living off tramps and counting my days.

It won’t take long.

I have to go now.

Forgive me.

I forgot.

____________ * _____________

Bio: TKnC Horror Editor Lily Childs likes her demons best when they're dancing. 

She has a pile of stories published online and in print anthologies including THEIR DARK MASTERS; TALES OF EXTREME VAMPIRE HORROR, DAILY BITES OF FLESH 2011 and CAUGHT BY DARKNESS. Lily is the author of the MAGENTA SHAMAN dark urban fantasy e-book series and is a Spinetingler Award nominee. 

Visit The Feardom where she blogs and runs a weekly microflash fiction challenge, 'Lily's Friday Prediction'. You can follow her on Twitter @LilyChilds and Facebook 


  1. Wow! I have so much going through my head right now, I don't even know where to begin...

    No offence to anyone of Italian extraction, but the country’s not- inconsiderable skill at winemaking seems to have been overlooked when it comes to chardonnays. I have been disappointed one too many times to take anyone’s word again, which is just as well. I am really more into reds… give me a rich, full-bodied merlot any day… that dark, red nectar like molten silk as it swirls over my tongue. Not unlike Erin’s favorite ‘beverage’, I tell myself when I am in one of my dark moods, which your writing does indeed inspire!

    What dark, delicious prose, Lily… a perfect treat for the season! New desires revealed with each new paragraph... what a heady feast for my oh-so-receptive imagination to consume. To say I am ‘sated’ after reading your little tale would be an understatement!

    Lily, this story is so well-crafted… a masterpiece of horror, if I might... you give away virtually nothing... building the suspense to a crescendo… until the ending… which completely took my breath away! Brava!

    For some reason (I wonder what that might be?) I had thought the narrator was a woman… not sure why though, as your telling didn’t ‘give it away’ until the very end. I fear I may have injected my own sexuality into the role of the narrator as I read this truly magnificent story. Even now… knowing… I went back and re-read it and in my head, my little brain cells still try to make your character as a female. Is that not odd?

    Could it be that my desires have caught up in your tale and I wish that it were me at the table? I wonder if I should not be quite satisfied… more than satisfied… to be a vampyre? Hmmm…

    After this story, I find myself a bit hungry. I think I shall go find Tina.

    Wonderful story, Lily… absolutely wonderful!


  2. Cheers Paul.

    Veronica - I'm so glad it tickled your taste buds - can you tell how much I enjoy my food and wine?

    The MC is male but over the centuries I think he's become whatever he wants to be - sexuality isn't a concern - until he remembers why he shouldn't play with girls anymore.

    I wrote this some time ago - but never gave him a name; I'm still wondering why.

  3. Gordon Ramsay on acid. :-)

    I also assumed the narrator was a female, until the surprise reveal midway through.

    I was eating a steak 'n' kidney pie as I read - not really recommended! :-)

    'Beautiful' horror writing, Lil.


  4. Wow! What a delicious chilling little story. Superbly written. Loved it :)

  5. That was an excellent story. Kept me entertained the whole time, and I like way it was written...very sassy..

  6. I loved it, Classic Lily childs. Just finished Magenta Shamen stones the crow BTW loved that too.

  7. Yes, I can tell... you gone and got got me craving some Spanish cheese... that platter with the pear and walnut chutney... sounds heavenly! Thinking of a good wine pairing... I really want a nice warm, full red... oooh, I'm starting to salivate! LOL!!

    That is curious that you never gave him a name... even something androgynous... to keep the mystery. Interesting that you say 'sexuality isn't a concern'... I do like the ambiguity though.

    Again... great story, Lily! Your writing always leaves me more than a little breathless. I really love how you blend the rich variety of the gastronomic with the dark, consuming vampyric...

    A feast indeed...

  8. Great details, a delectable read, and I am impressed with your knowledge of food and wine!

    Happy Holidays, Lily!

  9. Stunning write, Lily. You've played your readers brilliantly here - turning on all our senses, and then changing the scene to something we don't want to -- mustn't taste.
    Loved it.

  10. A feast of flavours so deliciously served and devilishly devoured. Gordon Ramsey Campbell maybe col;)

    I loved the new urban legend feel about this piece and thought the arc of self destruction was perfectly handled. Great story Lily, one that made me lick my lips and tingled my imagination.

  11. Late, but just as satisfyingly sated as the previous readers, such a glisteningly rich tale this one.