Dizziness of Freedom

Brief Notes on Dread


This is a companion piece to Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas‘s post A Door into the Uncertain. It’s like a nesting doll of dark delights, and if you click on either of us the other one pops out too! In a non-scary way of course…

The Apparition Lit team has decided to extend Halloween season for all of us well into November! Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas and I are guest-editing the Dread issue, which opens for submissions November 15-30. Thank you for this dreadful/wonderful gift Apparition Team! Apparition Lit’s initiative to work with different guest editors in order to showcase different perspectives on storytelling and different authors/editors is one to look up to. With Nelly we go back to 2019 Clarion West class. I always admired her inventiveness when it came to story telling and the ease with which she can evoke dread in just a couple of sentences. So this is a dream coming true for all of us! 

Dread, unlike a jump scare is not a fleeting moment. It is a steady and increasing condition of unease. A house of wrongness built with uncertainty. For me, uncertainty plays a great part in the buildup of dread. It’s when you know something really bad is about to happen but you can’t explain how you know. And not being able to explain it keeps you always alert, always waiting. The tension never releases. And that’s when the story pulls the rug out from under your feet.

We walk around the world looking for signs of danger, of impending doom, personal or collective. It’s a survival thing. But sometimes these signs are not tangible or quantifiable. Sometimes the wrong thing can just be a familiar face smiling at you the wrong way. Or an object left somewhere it shouldn’t have been. A smell that takes you back to some dark place you had forgotten.

Dread is realizing every ghost story you ever been told is true, because the past is coming to haunt you. It’s already haunting you. It’s not personal. It is just history written with the blood of the innocent, just like in “Laal Andhi,” by Usman T. Malik.

Other times it is personal. Like in “Sharp Things, Killing Things,” by A.C. Wise. Sometimes what comes to haunt you is something that’s been coming for a long time. It’s because of something you did, or something you think you did but you are not sure. The dread comes from slowly realizing what you were capable of all this time. That you are both the victim and the monster of your own story.

Dread can be not recognizing your best friend. The person you’ve been to Hell and back with and now you are not sure if they are even human anymore or if they are something else. Something containing a piece of Hell within, just like in “The Blood Drip,” by Brian Evenson.

And sometimes like in Ian Muneshwar’s “Dick Pig,” dread can be a literal house of wrongness that you can’t stop from going deeper and deeper inside. And when you finally reach its guts, you know that’s where you’re meant to be all along. The dread stops being yours and belongs, perhaps, only to the reader.

I want to know your definition of dread. What keeps you on edge. What are the monsters that you check for every time you enter a dark room, and how do they torment you? Lure me into your own version of unreality and let me be both uneasy and glad to be there.



So stocked to announce that my first publication in Beneath Ceaseless Skies is out! “Of the Body” is a fantasy story set in a world where animals carry and give birth to human babies. Sali and Osarah are going to have a baby together, but first they have to hunt and kill the animal that is pregnant with it.

It’s a story about a family’s persistence, the symbiotic relationship of human and nature, community, and adaptation. It’s in the wonderful company of Adam R. Shannon‘s story “Five Aspects of River and Sky”, a story that also deals with themes of human vs nature, adaptation and moving forward. I couldn’t have asked for a better story-match.

I wrote this story at the beginning of 2021. I stumbled upon a prompt about a dead deer and a human baby on Codex Writers’ Forum and things just clicked in my mind. I wanted a world where things where so interconnected to each other that humans would be born of animals. And I wanted people to still be stubborn and still make mistakes when it came to their relationship with nature. Because humans don’t learn easy.

Many questions were born from this idea. What would happen to the humans then? Would they find their way to each other despite being born of a different species? And if they did, how would they then view their animal mothers? Who did the babies really belong to? A considerable amount of denial would have to exist for them to not recognize that in fact they were part of both worlds. And so this story with one of the wildest premises I’ve written was born.

We arrived to this world, fresh and ignorant, and stood separate from it. All living things shared one single breath. It was the Body revealing itself to our ancestors. We stood on top of the Body, walked around it, dove into its guts, yet we did not see it.

This story was a bit out of my comfort zone and I enjoyed stretching my writer’s muscles. If you want to listen to the story here is the Podcast version of it. I hope you like it! 



My story “Bonesoup” is out in the new issue of Strange Horizons! This is my second appearance in a magazine I really love and I am so excited! 

The amazing Dante Luiz picked my story and created a gorgeous and chilling illustration based on it. It’s the one you see as a featured image at the top. I just can’t stop staring at it and finding new details that fit my story’s themes so well. 

The story sprung from a strange thought I had one night (more like super early morning…) about the Witch from Hansel and Gretel having children of her own, and what if these children carried on the cannibalistic tradition. It was not meant to be set in the modern-day, rather than set in some unspecified place that had a Middle Ages/fairytale feel. What happened, of course, was that the minute I sat down to write the story it became a modern-day Greek story about a grandmother trying to feed her granddaughter “good food” with references to the Greek Famine, and the occupation syndrome, and all the baggage the past carries. 


For a moment—perhaps it was my sweet-tooth brain—she looked mostly made of custard, her eyes were two pastel blue candied almonds, her chin was a shortbread biscuit. But parts of her were still meat.


This is a dark story that invokes a lot of uneasiness, but underneath it all there is love that binds the family of the story together. Food is love after all. I hope this story resonates with you.