The Moth Tapes

The Moth Tapes

So here we are, little one. Our new home sweet home.

Not that I’ve fixed up your bedroom yet, but there’s still time. And it’ll be lovely, Noodle, I promise. We’ll go down to the shop tomorrow and look at colours. I’ll paint you a mural, get one of those things that dangles over your bed. When you look out your window, you’ll see the garden and the trees and the mountain behind. When you’re big you can walk out the back gate and spend all day up there, among the shinglebacks and roos and galahs. I’ll blow a whistle when dinner’s ready and you’ll come running back.

I found something out there today, out near the back gate where the veggie patch will go. It was poking out of the dirt and at first I thought it was a loose cable or something. When I looked closer though it wasn’t anything like that.

It took a bit of wiggling to get out of the ground, but I’m glad I made the effort because it’s just so unusual. I’ll put it somewhere safe for when you’re older; you can keep it in a box with all your other treasures. A sort of hollow leather cigar, all plump and shiny and rippled, the end’s torn like something burst out from inside, and I guess that’s exactly what happened. Perhaps it’s some kind of cocoon. But of what, though?
I have no idea…

The Moth Tapes was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story in 2019.

Read more in Aurealis Magazine issue 117.

Or listen to the full story on the Tales To Terrify podcast, read by Josie Babin:

Our Last Meal

Our Last Meal

It used to be our favourite lookout. Our hangover lookout, Sallie called it.

We always got trashed the night we arrived and, the next day, would roll out of the cabin before dawn, woken by kookaburras and the first crystal shards of hangover. We’d slog our way through the rainforest, sweating poison, Sallie forever in the lead, boasting how she’d walked this track since she was a toddler and couldn’t I keep up. At the top, we’d stretch out on the coarse rock and share the same, unchanging picnic: crackers, cheese and cucumber sliced with a knock-off Swiss Army penknife, all rinsed back with the warm dregs of last night’s bottle of white. And there we would lose ourselves, gazing out across the canopy and the hazy blue exhalations that rose above it, into the deeper blue of the sky.

It could never be the same without her; I knew that. But something had drawn me back here, to spread out that same simple lunch and stare blankly at those same treetops…

Read more in the AHWA anthology, In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep.

Or listen to the full story on the Tales To Terrify podcast, read by Dan Rabarts:

The Further Shore

The Further Shore

Renault was out beyond the littoral when the fear bloomed.

Drifting with the currents, he bobbed above the reef. The sun warmed his back, cast a spangled net of iridescent white on the ocean floor. The only sound was the rasp of his breath in the snorkel, the faint pop pop of unseen creatures in the labyrinth of black coral below.

The black reef, with its oil-slick glimmer, stretched as far as he could see. Crooked spires. Towers that jutted and curled like obsidian fingers. Was it a trick of distance, or movements of the water that made the coral writhe and sway? It was profoundly hypnotic, drew him out over ever-deeper waters, farther from the shore.

Renault had noticed the pattern two days before. It was madness to think there should be order out here, among these chaotic accretions; yet there it was. The deep grooves of shadow that drew together, converging like vast, curved spokes around a distant axis. It had been too late to explore that first afternoon, and yesterday had been overcast, the light too diffuse to make out any detail in the reef. This morning he had woken early, determined to swim out to the point where those dark channels met.

His excitement mounted as each stroke brought him closer to the centre. The crevasse he was following narrowed, its arc tightening around smooth plates that resembled the petals of an obscene black flower. These segments overlapped uniformly, interlocking at the hub around something that glinted, that refracted light in soft, shimmering rainbows. It looked very much like a pearl. A pearl the size of a boulder.

Renault strained to make it out, unable to believe what he was seeing. But his mask had fogged and his sight was confined to a blurred rectangle. Just outside this frame of vision, he caught a movement.

He spun, scanning the water around, below.

There was nothing. He could see nothing. But his back tingled, his chest tightened.

Something was there. Something…

The Further Shore was shortlisted for Aurealis Awards in both the Best Horror and Best Fantasy Short Story categories in 2017 and won Best Fantasy.

Read the full story for free in Bourbon Penn 15 .

Or listen to the full story on the Tales To Terrify podcast, read by Pete Lutz: