The Needlecraft Guide to Averting Doom

Malina Douglas

Wyld FLASH 26 – January 29th 2021

In the underside of her skirt, she stitches the Midgard Serpent; Fenrir the wolf. A draugar with three red stitches to show the blood dripping down his chin.

Saves the last stitches for later. To wake them.

#

When she is introduced to her suitor, she wants to stab him with needles, again and again. Instead she forces a smile like a tame curved moon. Curtsies.

Gerald extends his hand, clammy and limp. Flashes her a wolf-smile. Lasciviousness lurks in his eyes and gathers in the folds of him. His face is weasel-thin, manner arrogant, eyes roving.

“A pleasure,” she says, because she is supposed to.

Her father’s eyes forbid any disagreement.

#

It is time. She sews the final stitches. Her serpent slithers along the inside of her skirts; her wolf flexes his claws. They have awakened. She hasn’t got long.

To the rattle of approaching carriages, she hurries.

“Emmeline,” calls her father’s voice.

She pricks her finger in the rush to finish stitching. Blood blooms on blue fabric. The draugar licks his lips.

Skirts flutter like sails as she races down the stairs.

#

Gerald gives her hand a dog-wet kiss.

As they dance, he pulls her close to him, arms tight as a drowning sailor. She smells the sweat on his neck. The odour of onions.

“Emmeline, dear, will you join me for a stroll in the garden?”

Down shallow marble steps, a swath of dark loveliness.

She can feel his anticipation. An animal-sharp prickle.

“Yes.”

She slides one leg against her skirts. Feels for her beasties.

They wait within, bristling, coiled and fanged. Restless.

A marriage to this man would be her own personal Ragnarök.

He offers his arm and they descend.

She pulls him through shadows, where the other guests won’t hear his screams.

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Author bio: Malina Douglas weaves stories that blur the line between the uncanny and the real. She was nominated as the Gold Writer of the ArtAscent Bliss issue, and her publications include Flash Fiction Online, Consequence Magazine, Sobotka Lit Mag, Foilate Oak, and The Antipodean. Anthologies include Sea Glass Hearts, The Lockdown Rhythm, A Krampus Carol, and two Michael Terence anthologies from 2019 and 2020.

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