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Today is a bit special and you will have to forgive us if we brag, but this is such a small press, a small fish in a big pond, if you will, and opportunities to toot one’s horn should not be missed. CHROMOPHOBIA is dripping with talent. Not only is it being edited by a Stoker Award-winner, but today’s story comes from a Stoker Award-winner. And, if we’re being perfectly frank, there are writers represented by the CHROMOPHOBIA table of contents who will go on to be Stoker Award-winners and nominees. That is the real treat in running a small, independent press: giving writers a chance and helping them get out and in front of readers and peers.
Anyway, sometimes life is nice. We’ll get out of the way, now.
“Red Light/Green Light”
by EV Knight
The sky looked so close she could almost touch it. Clouds hanging so low, that for just a split second, Luna wondered if Grandma had a point; could she get hit with lightning? She had an idea.
“Green light!” She called up to the clouds. Thunder rumbled as if the sky heard her call, knew the game, and began to play. Shortly afterward, a bolt of light lit up the night. Only, this time, Luna didn’t see the trees or the house. She looked up and she saw them.
In the sky, scattered behind the clouds, the dark shadows of hundreds of spiders appeared. Or maybe jelly fish? There was no time to count their legs. Another burst of light confirmed what she’d seen and the lasting image of the creatures burned into her eyelids, only in negative, so the creatures glowed. The horror of knowing these things were there, possibly moving toward her in the darkness, until the flash of lightning stopped them—just like the game—was too much. She dared not stand outside watching for fear the next flash, or the one after that, might show the invaders ready to drop on her head. The cool summer rain became tangible tendrils that brushed against her, sending shivers and goosebumps up and down her body. She let out a yip and ran back to the porch.
In the safety of her grandmother’s arms, it was okay to break down. Grandma let her sob and shake without asking any questions. The old woman simply rocked and soothed. Only after Luna’s tears subsided and her shivers died away did her grandma dare ask what frightened her so.
“My goodness! That is a scary thing. Show me,” Grandma said.
“They hide in the daytime. You can only see them when the lightning sucks up all the color.”
Grandma nodded. “That’s very clever of them. Maybe we should go inside?”
Luna thought that was a good idea. Only, what if, while she was inside, not watching, they snuck closer? She wriggled out of her grandmother’s arms and ran back into the rain. She looked up at the sky, and held a hand out palm up.
“Red light! I mean it!” There. Now they were frozen. She could rest.
EV Knight has written something that feels like it would be right at home within the pages of, say, THE OCTOBER COUNTRY. Bradbury was very good at hitting something akin to “Nostalgia Macabre” and Knight has delivered something very much in that vein. An invasion story, in her hands, becomes the backdrop to a very sincere, very touching exploration of impending age and the onslaught of maturity.
EV Knight’s THE FOURTH WHORE grabbed a Stoker for “Superior Achievement in a First Novel” in 2020, and we are thrilled to have her as part of CHROMOPHOBIA. You can (and should!) check out her website HERE.
Want to read the previous CHROMOPHOBIA showcases? Click a title:
Pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.
Check out part one of editor Sara Tantlinger’s CHROMOPHOBIA roundtable HERE.