It is Wednesday, March 9th, 2022. We are taking a month-long look at the CHROMOPHOBIA table of contents, introducing and showcasing a single story every day of the work week, and throughout the entire month. Today, we take a look at the eighth story in the upcoming horror anthology, and we are happy to see someone from NOT ALL MONSTERS joining us in this new book!
by G.G. Silverman
When the gray comes, people shutter their windows and doors, and call in their children and loved ones. The first warning is the mass of clouds that gathers at the horizon, streaking the sky with melancholy. Then the ocean grows dark as a broken mirror. Fishermen and women bring in their boats, families pull in their linens. Boys and girls tug kites down from the sky or scramble from forts in the trees. The animals are left out to pasture, because the gray never comes for the animals.
Thick rolling mist creeps in from the water’s edge, delving down the road, slowly enveloping everything. It rolls over the docks, down Main Street, swallowing white-painted shops and faded salt-box cottages. It blankets the schoolyard and the churchyard and the gravestones, sifting toward the woods, where it filters through the trees in ribbons. It only ever comes in summer, though no one can predict when. And that’s why in summer we’re never truly at peace. Even on the brightest of days, the winds might change at any time and bring the gray.
Many who’ve gotten lost in the gray never return, and those that do are altered and forever silent—like Pa, a shell of his former self, a shell that hides something or someone else. It’s been ten years since Pa got swallowed by the gray, only to reemerge ten days later; though for Pa, time had passed in ways we couldn’t fathom.
The day he returned, when the gray rolled back to the ocean, we found him naked and shivering at the edge of the woods. Ma ran over, throwing a blanket over his clammy skin. His eyes stared ahead, beholding everything and nothing. His face had been ravaged by an impossible passing of decades. He was stooped and bone-thin, his hair and beard long and white.
After all these years, no one ever leaves this town because everyone’s lost someone to the gray. They hope their loved one will come back, even though it’s known that if they do, they’ll be a shadow of themselves. Some folks reappear years later, looking no different than when they left, but everything inside is gone. Some come back as children, but with lost souls. No one ever speaks about the returned, except in the politest of ways, asking about them only to be told that they’re just fine, thank you for asking.
Though Pa hasn’t spoken a word since the day he was found, sometimes other sounds emerge from him, like the crackle of static, or an ominous low hum that comes from deep inside his body. Sometimes there’s a shriek like the gears of an unknown future machine. Other times Pa levitates and convulses. And my blood goes cold, so cold, I fall to my knees, weeping, begging, praying that the infernal sound will stop.
G.G. Silverman delivers a staggeringly good story in “The Gray” and the Weird tale absolutely oozes with atmosphere. Of all the pieces showcased, this story feels the most like it has been plucked from some obscure, classic text. Stripped of contemporary edifice, “The Gray” feels timeless, and dangerous. A fine, melancholy terror from a talented writer.
G.G. Silverman has kept busy in the indie horror scene, contributing short stories to multiple venues, like the aforementioned NOT ALL MONSTERS. She has also had several pieces of poetry published. Currently, she is working on a collection of fiction, as well as a collection of poetry. You can read more about Silverman and her work HERE.
Missed any previous CHROMOPHOBIA showcases? Catch up at the following links:
Pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.
Check out part one of editor Sara Tantlinger’s CHROMOPHOBIA roundtable HERE.
And thanks for reading and sharing and all of your support.