Samples

Read Samples

Read some samples from Helen’s collection of short stories.

The Slipway Grey

Available on The Dark Magazine
From Gifts for the One Who Comes After

I am an old man now, and this is a thing that happened to me when I was very young. This is not like the story of your uncle Mika, and how he tricked me in the Breede River and I almost drowned. It is also not like the story of my good friend Jurie Gouws whom you called Goose when he was alive, which was a good name for him. He used to hitchhike all across Rhodesia until he blew off his right thumb at that accident at the Selebi mine, which I will say something about. Afterward the trucks would stop anyway, even when he wasn’t trying to hitch a ride, because of the ghost thumb, he used to say, which still ached with arthritis when it rained.

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Ship House

Available on Tor.com
From Gifts for the One Who Comes After

Her mother had become an old woman by the time Eileen came back to Ship House; she and the house in the shadow of Table Mountain had both sunk in on themselves, both had their backs broken by the winter rains and the too-hot summers of the South African Cape, their foundations crumbling to dust and gravel. Eileen’s mother wore old pearls and a red-and-white shift dress underneath a thin, woolen sweater. Her face was like Eileen’s face, almost. Her eyes had the white-blue of milk. Her hair was so thin she looked nearly bald.

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Crossroads and Gateways

Available at Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Issue 151, July 10, 2014

Dajan faced east, as he did every morning, greeting the Sun with a toothy smile that split the creases of his face. His spear was planted in the sand beside him, gripped by a fist hard and calloused. The wind tugged at the bright red cloth that hung from it. The sand dunes seemed smooth as elephant bones in the morning, limned in a brilliant gold. Brown and gold—the colors of the desert. Dajan’s colors.

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Death and the Girl from Pi Delta Zeta

Available at Lackington’s
From Gifts for the One Who Comes After

Carissa first sees Death at the Panhellenic Graffiti mixer where he is circled by the guys from Sigma Rho. They can’t seem to help crowding him even though they clearly don’t want to be near him. She has gone with several of the Sig-Rho boys. All of them have. But she has never gone with anyone like Death before.

Death is wearing a black track jacket, with a black t-shirt on beneath and faded black jeans. Carissa, like all the other girls, is wearing a pink cashmere sweater with the letters Pi Delta Zeta embroidered in darker pink and a white cotton tank top.

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The Hanging Game

Available on Tor.com
From Hair Side, Flesh Side

Sometimes a game, even a sacred game, can have far-reaching consequences. In bear country young Skye learns just how far she is willing to go to play the game properly in order carry on the traditions that came before her and will most likely continue long after she is gone.

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The Mouth, Open

Available at Weird Fiction Review
From Hair Side, Flesh Side

Jonah had been doubtful about the trip, and about his reception with this new family he was supposed to be part of. He wasn’t terribly close to Deborah, had showed up to her wedding late, and missed most of the major festivities before and after. And, so when he arrived in Petar’s family home, back in the old country that Deborah had told him so much about, when they started piling food in front of him, despite the doctor’s warning, despite his avowal to drop thirty pounds, and despite Petar’s advice, he began to eat.

Travelling made him nervous; Petar’s family made him nervous; and when he was nervous he wanted to eat. After all, eating meant that you didn’t have to talk.

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Sandition

Available on The World SF Blog
From Hair Side, Flesh Side

They were in the elevator, Gavin’s voice surprisingly deep and gruff, but his smile was so charming, it lit up his entire face. He touched her lightly on the arm, and she was happy for the warmth of him, but wryly wary. He was married. She knew that. He pressed the button for his floor, and Hanna felt the ground dropping away beneath her, again when he slipped his arm around her waist, not too firmly, gently really, and it was the warmth of it she loved.

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