Film Review: The Shape of Water

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Anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m a sucker for fairy-tales (the Grimm variety or Oscar Wilde, not Disney) and impossible loves (think Edward Scissorhands and Kim), so of course I’d fall in love with Guillermo Del Toro’s lush fairy-tale of a love story, The Shape of Water.

The movie opens with the audience getting to meet Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman who lives in a tiny apartment alone above a theatre house, next door to the lonely artist Giles (Richard Jenkins). Due to working as a cleaning lady for a government laboratory in Baltimore, Elisa’s “day” begins at night, working the so-called “graveyard shift” with co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer).

Most of her days are the same, until one night a new test subject is brought into the lab, a revered River God from South America dubbed the “Amphibian Man” (Doug Jones) for being a cross between a man and sea creature. Elisa feels compassion for the Amphibian Man and is saddened that the creature’s handler Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) has no interest in getting to know the creature and instead, tortures it daily without mercy

Elisa feels drawn to the Amphibian Man because, like her, he is different. She also feels compelled to him because they’re both lonely, invisible beings to society, and decides to initiate a friendship with the creature through egg lunches and sharing of jazz music. But when learns that the government is only interested in killing the Amphibian Man rather than trying to learn more about him, she’s overcome with grief and hatches a plan to get him out of the heavily surveyed government lab with the help of Giles and Zelda.

The beauty of the film is that it brought together four characters that represented “invisible” and alienated people. Elisa is invisible for being mute, Zelda is invisible for being a woman of color in 1962, Giles is invisible for being a gay starving artist, and the Amphibian Man is invisible because he isn’t even deemed as human. All four characters suffer from loneliness and are aching for some kind of human contact that will make them feel alive again and complete. Before meeting the Amphibian Man, Elisa was merely existing, but once her feelings for him begin to blossom and are reciprocated, that’s when she begins to truly live.

Del Toro’s visually stunning movie ignited the bleak atmosphere of the Cold War and cruelty with the spark of love and how colourful everything begins to be when one is in love. He also masterfully reminded us that sometimes it’s the lesser important people who become the heroes of the story when they feel they have a purpose.

The Shape of Water is a touching love story of how two very radically different people (they’re not even the same species!) are brought together and how their love overcomes all the obstacles. This movie is truly a celebration of the Latin quote, Amor vincit omnia (Love conquers all). And in today’s complacent, superficial modern society where everything is disposable, even love, it’s refreshing to be reminded that some things are worth fighting for.

By: Azzurra Nox

Book Review: Running Wild Anthology of Stories Vol. 2 – Amelia Kibbie Q & A

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Amelia Kibbie’s latest short story “Idylls of the King,” is one of the twenty short stories featured in the new Running Wild Anthology by Running Wild Press. Her short story features two young boys who have to leave their London homes due to Nazi bombings during WWII with their school teachers and classmates for the safety of the countryside. Both boys, James and Arthur are ruthlessly bullied by their peers, the first for having effeminate mannerisms and fancying boys, whilst the second for his weight. But when the two boys meet an aging Baroness, their lives will never be the same again.

What inspired you to write this short story?

Actually, it was for a totally separate anthology called “Heart of Steel.” The anthology called for happy ending LGBT love stories that contained knights of some sort. I didn’t want to do the typical fantasy thing, so my story takes place in England in WWII. I wanted to show that no matter how old you are, or what time period you live in, you can have a heart of steel — the heart of a knight that values love, friendship, honor, and protects those in need.

Your short story explores the theme of bullying—how important is it to have a story where the bullied triumph over their bullies?
Like pretty much everyone else, I’ve been bullied. I think everyone dreams of some kind of a sweet moment where you can go back in time and stand up to your bully. But in the real world, this usually doesn’t happen. So part of writing this story was wish fulfillment for me. I wish that anyone bullied for their sexuality would be able to stand up and fight back or have someone to protect them.
I’m definitely not the first person to depict this, but maybe the first person to have a suit of medieval armor involved!
What actually happens in, Idylls of the King is that James and Arthur stop being the bystanders to each other’s bullying. James sticks up for Arthur and risks a beating, only to be saved by the air raid siren. When Arthur sees this, it empowers him to stick up for James in return. In real life, empowering the bystanders is the most effective way to combat bullying. All of those other kids in the class were just standing there and watching all those years, just thankful it wasn’t them being targeted. They should have been banding together to stand up to Morgan and his friends to improve life for everyone in the class. I work with young people, and the anti-bullying research finds that empowering the bystanders is the most effective way to improve a school climate.

Why did you choose WII England as your setting?
This is going to sound super cheesy, but I was actually inspired by the ultra-crappy sequel to The Woman in Black. I liked the first movie quite a bit, and the second one was on Netflix. I was homesick, so I decided to watch it. It wasn’t a great movie, but it had some really interesting ideas to it — like the manor house being cut off by the tide at certain parts of the day. That reminded me of one of my favorite travel destinations, Mont Saint Michel. The part that obviously made it into Idylls of the King was the story of the children evacuated for Operation Pied Piper and moving into a mansion together.
Do you have any other upcoming writing projects?
I’m currently crafting Idylls of the King into a novel that picks up ten years after James and Arthur find one another. They’re still together, living in London, and find themselves on a cross-country adventure to fulfill a man’s dying wish.

You write across genres, which one is your favourite?
I would have to say horror. I just re-read The Shining, and it brought back so many memories of being in high school and reading Stephen King. He and Anne Rice were my big inspirations back in the day, and horror will forever hold my heart. I love writing in other genres and just telling a good story with characters I care about, but when I write a horror piece, I really get into it.

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You can purchase this book HERE or check out Amelia’s short story in MY AMERICAN NIGHTMARE – WOMEN IN HORROR ANTHOLOGY HERE.

Follow Amelia either on Facebook or her website.

By: Azzurra Nox

Six Beauty Must-Haves For When You’re Running Out of Time!

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Hit the snooze button one too many times and now are cinched for time? Did a friend just call you out of the blue for an awesome event but you’ve been binge-watching shows on Netflix all afternoon in your jammies? Before you panic, here are 6 essential beauty items you will need to look polished in less than twenty minutes!

Concealer

I don’t know about you, but concealer is my holy grail since I’ve been cursed with hereditary undereye circles, so you’ll never see me without it. But if you’re blessed to be dark circles free, then you can still use concealer to hide any problem spots, acne, discoloration, or to brighten up your eyelid. (The concealer pictured above is CoverGirl Vitalist Healthy Concealer in Fair, $8.54 at Wal-Mart).

Eyebrow Marker

If you’re trying to be quick, but at the same time don’t want to deal with powders, pomades, or pencils, an eyebrow marker is your best bet! There’s no sharpening involved, and the small felt tip is so small that it makes for precise feather strokes for a natural finish! (The eyebrow marker pictured above is NYX Eyebrow Marker in Medium, $9.75 at https://www.nyxcosmetics.com).

Mascara

Since the rest of your eye is going to be bare, that means that your lash game has got to on point. So grab the most voluminizing mascara you own and apply three generous coats (after curling them with an eyelash curler of course!). This is really going to make your eyes POP. (Mascara pictured above is from Medusa’s Makeup Witch Lash in Black Noir, $12 at https://medusasmakeup.com).

Lipstick

When you’re in a hurry but still want to look like you didn’t just roll out of bed, then aim for the brightest or boldest lip colour you’ve got. I usually go with reds or raspberry tones, because since the rest of your face is pretty simple, a bold lip will lift your whole face and make you look perky, sophisticated, and instantly glamorous. Never underestimate the power of bold lips! (Liquid lipstick pictured above is from Medusa’s Makeup Lip Paint in Bang, $12 at https://medusasmakeup.com).

Blush

Few of us are blessed with rosy cheeks and if you’re on the pasty side like me, blush is your savior for that healthy glow. (Blush pictured above is from Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Paaarty, $29 at Ulta).

Setting Spray

Need to skip some steps? Then you can cut out powder and reach directly for your setting spray as this will lock the look you’ve got as well as keep any oiliness at bay and lock in moisture. (Setting Spray pictured above is Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray, $32 at https://www.urbandecay.com).

Since these items are only six, these are also easy enough to slip into a small makeup bag to bring with you always whenever you’re on the run!

Which items would you have added to your list?

By: Azzurra Nox

Review: Korres Wild Rose Sleeping Facial

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Born of a Greek homeopathic pharmacy more than 20 years ago, the brand’s philosophy is rooted in the use of natural ingredients of the highest quality, skin and environmentally friendly products with clinically tested efficacy, and the products that can inspire and make us and our customers happy.”*

I’m hugely obsessed with face masks, but I’m even a bigger fan of sleep masks. Why? Because there’s no wait time with sleep masks. You can simply slather on the sleep mask and hit the sack and wake up to gorgeous skin (who wouldn’t want that?). This particular mask is guaranteed to make your skin look extra glowy no matter how much of a night owl you are (like me).

What It Is: Sleep Mask

What It Does: Guaranteed to make your skin, softer, smoother, and more radiant.

Active Ingredients: Wild Rose oil, Vitamin C, and Hyaluronic Acid.

Verdict: This mask is amazingly weightless. It’s like having a scrumptious souffle at the tip of your fingers, as the cream instantly dissolves into your skin. This mask has intense hydration and the Vitamin C helps to brighten your skin. This is the best mask for anyone out there who’s on the lazy side (like me) because it does all the work for you while you sleep! Even after the first application, you wake up to visibly brighter, smoother, skin! It’s a true godsend for anyone who has problematic skin or just needs an extra boost. I highly recommend it.

Price: $48

Where To Buy It: https://www.korresusa.com/

*Italicized blurb from website.

By: Azzurra Nox

My Bad Romance: My First Kiss

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It was a typical morning in my seventh-grade life. I’ve never been a fan of math, especially since that year I had begun Pre-Algebra. But the only thing that made that class bearable was the fact that the boy I had a huge crush on since sixth grade sat right in front of me in class. Since we were friends, I’d often find any excuse to talk to him. I’d ask him about movies. How the Chicago Bulls were doing that season (he was a huge fan and always wore a Chicago Bulls cap, strictly backward as per the ‘90s cap etiquette for cool kids).

Our history was somewhat complicated. As in the year before I had given him a Valentine’s Day card that I had made and written a poem that went along these lines:


Nobody knows of my feelings for you,
I keep them hidden, clear out of view.
But the tracks in the snow may give a clue,
But nobody knows of my love for you.


Now my grand romantic gesture would’ve been all fine and dandy if my best friend at the time hadn’t started dating my crush that week of Valentine’s. Our classes had boxes for Valentine’s cards, and I had placed mine in the box on a Monday, my best friend had gotten with the said boy on a Wednesday. Valentine’s fell on a Friday, so now you can see my dilemma. Drama-ensued for a while because of that, until things cleared up (hey, it’s not MY fault they got together after I had posted the card!).


But back to that day in Pre-Al.


It was Halloween, my favorite holiday. All I could think about was how I was going to go Trick-Or-Treating that night (something that truly defied my social group of “pretty popular girls” cause that was seen as “childish” cause ya know when you’re twelve and in a popular group, you need to act like you’re fifteen). This probably explains why I ended up leaving said group, which meant also leaving behind my best friend (and also the most popular girl in seventh grade) which was social status suicide on my part, but I was a rebel!


But I digress.


I was there getting settled in my seat, trying to pretend I knew what was going on (cause ya know, I refused to wear my glasses at the time, which meant that I couldn’t see a thing written on the board and I’m actually surprised I managed to earn B’s in math without ever seeing how the teacher worked out the problems).


Crush Boy sat down and I was doodling on my notebook when he turned around and flashed me his usual charming smile saying, “Happy Halloween!” And then and there just kissed me.


This is where time kind of stopped for me.


My heart was hammering so hard against my chest I was certain that I was going to have a coronary right then and there. My breath caught in my throat, and my cheeks flushed in the most horrendous way (being pale sucks).
“Woo-hoo!” One guy cheered, which pulled me out of the moment and was reminded that I was still in class.


In a math class that also had my best friend (and Crush Boy’s ex-girlfriend) sitting only a few rows over.  I looked over in her direction, and if I weren’t so near-sighted, I’m certain I could see her glaring.


Despite that kiss being simple (we were twelve and in class!), the feelings of euphoria that I experienced from it were something I chased for years, attempting so desperately to feel that lightheaded and blissful. And because this is me, no, Crush Boy and I didn’t have a short-term happy ending. We never dated. Despite him always showing a strange fascination with me, but always dating other girls instead. Later that year I moved, and on my last day of school, he kissed me again (this time after our English). He came up behind me and just planted his lips on me and then said, “Good luck at your new school.” I could barely murmur a reply back before he was already gone, rushing to his final class.


I never saw or heard from him after that day.


Maybe, some people are just meant to be memories.

By: Azzurra Nox

Review: Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Liquid Lip in Gwenyth

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By now, we all know about Gwenyth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog Goop. Well now, she also has a beauty brand called Juice Beauty to go along with the blog. I’m not particularly crazy about the blog Goop (because some of the stuff on there is either ridiculous or downright dangerous/not healthy at all). But being a makeup addict, I was thrilled to find this in my Allure Beauty Box for February, although I had no high expectation cause I’m very picky when it comes to liquid lipsticks. This liquid lipstick promises to look shiny like a gloss, but without the sticky effect. The shade is named after the creative director of the makeup (ahem Paltrow) and the colour is reminiscent of the ’90s berry hues that were on everyone’s lips think Courtney Love and Courtney Cox back in the day, (unless you were wearing the matte browns instead).

What It Is: Liquid Lipstick

What It Does: Provides shine and colour to lips.

Verdict: The moment I opened up the tube and noticed how sheer the formula was I knew that I wasn’t going to be a fan. And sure enough, after wearing it for six hours, this liquid lipstick did what most lipglosses do, it BLED and it somewhat faded. Now, I know many people prefer moisturizing lipsticks and don’t care if they have to reapply (which in that case, this may be the perfect lipstick for you), however, I expect a lipstick to NOT budge once I apply it (maybe I’ve gotten spoiled ever since using Jeffree Star’s liquid lipstick where it won’t budge, smudge, or bleed for ten+hours). Also, I’m not really a fan of berry colours either. Or at least, they’re pretty to look at, but for some reason never look so amazing on me (maybe cause berry tones are made for cool skintones and although I’m pale, I have a warm skintone). But if you’re looking for a high-shine glossy lipstick, then this may do the trick for you. The formula is luxurious and the colour is vibrant, so it’s got that going for it. It just isn’t the sort of liquid lipstick I prefer.

Price: $24

Where To Buy It: Juicebeauty.com

By: Azzurra Nox

*swatch of the shade Gwenyth below

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Review: Medusa’s Makeup Witch Lash Mascara

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It’s been several years now that I’ve been trying to primarily use Vegan cosmetics. At the moment I’m really digging Medusa’s Makeup, cause not only is it vegan, but it’s also cruelty-free, and crazily edgy. This makeup has attitude and wearing it gives you a boost akin to wearing rock star stiletto boots.

What It Is: A lengthening and volumizing mascara

What It Does: This mascara not only does it lengthen lashes, and gives you an incredible boost, but the flexible rubber brush enables you to separate lashes—say goodbye to clumpy lashes forever!

Verdict: To say that I’m in love with it would be quite the understatement, as I am PASSIONATELY in love with this mascara! So much so, that this is my go-to mascara on a daily basis for the past four months! And since this brand is all about giving an edge to everything they do, this mascara not only comes in Black, but also in Electric Blue and Twilight (a navy shade). Apart from lengthening, volumizing, and separating lashes, this mascara also lasts ALL DAY without every smudging or budging or anything at all! It stays immaculate and perfect all day! But the removal is also very easy, any eyemakeup remover will do and you don’t have to rub it off as it happens with so many mascaras, so that’s always a bonus! If you can’t tell, I simply love this product and will most repurchase (I initially received this product in one of my Medusa’s Makeup monthly subscription boxes).

Price: $12

Where To Buy It: https://medusasmakeup.com/collections/mascara

By: Azzurra Nox

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Skincare: These five fruits will give you radiant skin!

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*Foundation & powder-free skin.

Ever wonder why many vegetarians or vegans have amazing, glowing skin? Apart from the fact that they aren’t consuming meat, the major reason is that they’re eating lots of FRUITS!

But are all fruits created equal, and which ones are you better off eating? Well, different fruits target different skin issues as well as provide different sorts of vitamins, so your best bet is to eat a variety of fruits within a week. But to make things easier for you, here are the top five best fruits for healthy skin and what benefits you may reap from consuming them!

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Apple:

The malic acid found in apples promotes firm, youthful skin. There’s a reason why the famous saying states, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away!” In this case, eating apples will surely keep you away from having to visit a dermatologist. Not to mention that the fibers found in apples, helps promote bowel movements, which leads to clearer skin because you’re getting rid of toxins.

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Avocado:

This fruit is rich in biotin, Vitamin E, and promotes cell regeneration and growth. Biotin helps nails and hair grow faster. You can reap benefits from this fruit either by eating it or used topically (in the form of face masks).

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Banana:

Rich in potassium and helps in keeping skin moisturized and hydrated. Bananas also contain skin-healthy nutrients, such as Vitamin A, B, and E. It also helps with keeping the elasticity of skin, prevents premature aging, and fades dark spots.

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Kiwi:

This fruit is packed with high doses of Vitamin C, and we all know that Vitamin C is a skin-friendly vitamin (in helping to keep skin radiant and acne-free!). Kiwis contain more Vitamin C than oranges, so you’re better off choosing this fruit as your source of Vitamin C than others.

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Strawberries:

Anti-oxidant and prevents wrinkle formation. Like kiwis, this fruit also contains a high dose of Vitamin C, but unlike kiwis, strawberries also contain salicylic acid (you may have heard this acid being used in acne treatments). What this means, is that it helps prevent pores from getting clogged and stops pimples from forming in the first place! Strawberries also contain an anti-oxidant called ellagic acid, which studies have proven that it helps prevent the destruction of collagen (meaning fewer wrinkles!) and it also acts as a shield against UV damage (but that doesn’t mean you should skip out on applying sunscreen, that is always a must!).

Try consuming at least one serving or two of each of these fruits once a week, and you’ll soon notice the difference in your skin! Not to mention that they’re a healthier snack option if like me you love sweets but are trying to avoid processed sugars. So give your skin a break, and eat your way to radiant, beautiful skin!

 

By: Azzurra Nox

Short Story: Animortis Part III

zombie2Charlie turned his head and spotted the shotgun, rattling unattended in the farthest corner of the carriage floor. He still had one more shot. Gathering his strength, he twisted his shoulders, released his right hand on the girl’s throat and reached for the gun. It wobbled inches from his extended fingertips. He stretched further. The rear of the carriage lurched downward, the broken axel moments from failing. Feeling his left hold falter, Charlie abandoned his efforts and pushed back on her throat again. Desperation mounting, his eyes cut to Baumgart. The Earl remained incapacitated.

The girl wrapped her cold, palms around the back of Charlie’s neck, pulling him closer to her salivating mouth. Glassy, green eyes roved in their sockets. She screeched like a wild animal and snapped her broken, jagged teeth inches from his face. There was nothing human left in this shell of a girl. With a strike of dread in his heart, Charlie realized they were an even match of strength.

“Charles?”

Charlie looked down to his feet as Baumgart blinked back to life.
“My lord!” he strained against the girl.
Distracted, the girl whipped her head back to the Earl.

Charlie bent a leg between him and the girl and kicked her away. She fell back onto her minced knees. With all his force, Charlie brought up his right leg and delivered a smart boot to her face. Blood squirted out in all directions from under the sole of his shoe, accompanied by a chilling crack. The girl’s head recoiled and she grunted from the impact, arms spinning into wild wind-mills as she teetered backward. She fell, her spine bowed backward over carriage side, hands scratching for a hold. Charlie scooped up the shotgun just as the girl’s fingers caught the door latch release. The door flung open behind Baumgart and he tilted, wild-eyed, out of the landau.

“Charles!” Baumgart shouted. His arms sprang wide to either side of the opening, saving himself from a fatal tumble out the doorway.
“Hold fast!” Charlie doubled over and snagged Baumgart’s wrist. Bracing a foot on the side of the carriage, Charlie hauled him up and onto his feet.
“Are you hurt?” he breathed, steadying the Earl’s footing.
“I…” Baumgart’s pallid lips quivered. “I am alive.”

Beside him the maiden regained her balance. She blinked a moment in confusion, dark black blood gushing from her broken nose. Charlie maneuvered in front of the Earl and took aim a final time. The rear of the carriage shifted downward again and the bullet missed and ricocheted with a loud ‘ping’ on the iron carriage frame.

“Damn! C’mon!” he shouted, grabbing Baumgart by his vest lapels and forcing him up toward the coachman’s bench. “We haven’t much time.”

Baumgart scrambled up to the platform and swung over the guardrail. As Charlie pulled his torso up onto the railing, a final fierce shudder up the chassis signaled that the cracked axel had split completely. The back end lurched down with a heavy crash upon the road causing the rear wheels to tilt and spin free of the wood frame. Charlie’s footing slid off the railing and his body whiplashed against the front bench, cracking one of his ribs. He cried out at the sharp pain and hung from the guardrail by his underarms. Behind him, wood paneling scraped and splintered under the friction like a wooden sword put to a stone grinder.

“Take my hand, Charles!” Baumgart extended his arm. Charlie winced and clenched his teeth against the pain.

“Please,” he found a firm foothold, “Rein in the horses, if you can.”
Baumgart turned to the whip socket as Charlie struggled atop the coachman’s bench and planted his seat on the back of the guardrails.

“Oh no.” Baumgart’s mouth fell open and the last bit of color bled from his cheeks. His voice barely broke over the rumble of the pounding hooves. Charlie followed his line of sight up the road as the team cleared a bend in the forest path. His stomach dropped.

“Oh bloody hell.”

At the railway crossing in the distance ahead, a small horse-cart and its driver waited patiently behind the lowered level bar for an approaching train to pass. Charlie glanced to the whip socket. The leather straps were gone. Below, they lashed and slapped under the terrified horse hooves.

A horn blared off in the distance.

Baumgart shook his head and grabbed Charlie by the arm. “The team is lost, Charles,” he shouted over the roar. “We must jump carriage!”
The horses were inconsolable and the flesh-hungry girl was…Charlie felt a hand lock around his ankle. He looked down to see the maiden grinning back. With one hand on the guardrail and the other holding tight at his riding boot, she swayed like a drunk dancer in the disintegrating coach.

“Go, sir!” Charles unhanded himself from Baumgart.

“But—.”

Another loud crack split the air and the rear bench seat dislodged from the carriage, rolling away with a smash that left the maiden’s feet dangling above the speeding road. Charlie braced against the bench at the added weight of the girl. The horses would be dragging their tack in a few minutes more.
“Please, sir!” Charles begged. “Go now!”

His face tight with terror, Baumgart turned and steadied himself at the edge of the platform. He glanced back, “God bless you, Charles,” and threw himself out into the forest, disappearing behind the dark curtain of night before Charlie even saw him strike the ground. Charlie swiveled his head in search of another weapon but there was nothing left to defend himself. The whip was gone, the gun was lost. He had nothing.

Much louder now, the locomotive hailed its coming again. With the fire of pain searing his left rib, Charlie twisted and jerked his leg until he felt his muscles cramp but she would not let go. He never thought his life would end like this, killed on a mundane carriage ride to Coburg by a mad-girl cannibal. No one would believe the tale if he survived to tell it.

Beside him, hot oil from the swinging lanterns splashed onto the bench, setting the wood alight. Charlie’s eyes widened. His brain surged, jolting one last bit of hope into his heart.

Charlie fumbled for the oil lamp behind him.
“Burn in Hell, wretched devil!”

Charlie smashed the hot lamp down upon the girl. Glass shattered and burning oil splashed down over the maiden’s head, anointing her with bright orange fire. An unearthly shriek burst from her throat and her grip loosened. Charlie wormed free, swung his legs over the side of the platform and, with a quick prayer to the Almighty, jumped free of the carriage.

The ground hit him with a breath-stealing impact. Charlie rolled his shoulders with the bruising momentum until he slowed and flopped to a halt under a large tree, dizzy and gasping like a netted fish. He lay there a moment in disbelief until panic struck his gut. He jerked upright to see if he had truly escaped and watched, incredulous, as the disaster unfolded.

The train rounded a wide curve and barreled toward the crossing. Setting dry branches and brush alight as she passed, the maiden thrashed and screamed on the carriage, oblivious to her own fate. Hearing the commotion behind him, the old peddler scrambled down off his cart to rescue his pony. Realizing his goods could not be saved, he unhitched his mare and gave her a hearty slap on the hind quarter. The animal bolted to safety across the tracks and the poor man limped away as fast as he skinny legs would take him. The Greys were just meters from the intersection.

Up the tracks, a shout pierced through the cacophony. Sounds of metal on metal screeched through the forest as the train slammed down on its emergency brakes. The train blared the horn at its inevitable arrival.

Charlie’s beloved Greys, having seen the cart too late, squealed and skittered, their hooves gouging deep into the cold, soft earth as they struggled to veer left, away from the cart. Rigging clanged and wood creaked in protest but the impact was imminent. The wooden draft poles finally snapped under the strain, sending the carriage skidding sideways into the cart. The impact of the royal coach smashing into the back of the peddler’s cart sent it airborne, careening into a wild roll. Three of the horses broke free, galloping madly on toward Coburg. With a horrible crunching sound, the wheeler screamed and stumbled into the back of the cart creating a mass of broken slats. His neck whipped across a jagged board silencing him into instant death.

Forward momentum flung the blazing girl and landau side over side, directly into the path of the oncoming train. The locomotive engine wailed a final warning before crashing through the carriage, exploding it in mid-air with the speed and force of a giant bullet. Fiery splinters flew high into the tree canopies like a firework, the last oil lamp scattering flames up and over the sides of the railcars. The glissando of the train horn suddenly died. Metal squealed and scraped together under the protesting brakes accompanied by the solid, earthy rumble of heavy, iron wheels upon the tracks.

It was only when a small bit of wood struck Charlie’s leg that he remembered to breathe. He shook his head clear and clutched his chest, taking in large draws of air. Debris tumbled and bounced across the ground hundreds of meters in every direction. Bits of the carriage and carnage rained down all around him. Nearby, a delicate, dismembered hand flopped motionless onto the grass. Streams of dark blood oozed from the ends of the curled, claw-like fingers. From the depths of the forest, his name echoed down the road.

“Charles! Charles!”

The train continued to slow, chugging to a stop with labored effort. Surprised shouts from the crew could be heard in the distance. The peddler hobbled to meet him. Charlie tried to stand but his knees wavered like sheets in the wind. A throbbing pain swallowed his torso and seeped up his chest. Bewildered and numb, his mind faded into the cold, grey fog of shock. It was only when his knees gave out and Charlie plopped back down against the oak tree that he realized one of his legs was broken. He wheezed in disbelief at the fiery wreckage waiting for the flood of pain from his fractured femur to reach his brain. There was no movement near the horrific aftermath that lay scattered over the crossroad. Charlie was struck by the absurdity that the girl might have survived the crash. After all, she had survived everything else.

“Mein Gott, Charles!” Earl Baumgart reached his side, giving his cheek a few hearty slaps. “Keep awake now. We’ll have the doctors here, straightaway!” Charlie felt the familiar tide of nausea ebb up his stomach. It was an odd and uncomfortable reassurance that he was indeed still alive.

“God have mercy!” Earl Baumgart’s cry evaporated into the hollow shell of Charlie’s head. “God have mercy!”

THE END

READ PART I HERE

READ PART II HERE

By: Erica Ruhe

 

Review: L’Oreal Voluminous Superstar X Fiber Mascara

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It’s no secret that one of my longest standing go-to mascara favourites is L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara, so when I noticed that L’Oreal came out with a new and improved version of it, I couldn’t wait to check it out.

What It Is: Super-Volumized, Super-Extended, X-Treme Superstar Lashes

What It Does: The Black Primer portion of the mascara delivers extreme volume and depth, whilst the Fiber Infused Mascara portion create extreme length.

Distinguishing Factors: Primer and mascara. Primer creates a black lash base whilst the fiber mascara helps with extending the length of your lashes.

Verdict: What I love about this mascara is that you have both primer and mascara in one handy wand! The primer that comes with mascara is black, rather than white, which helps cut down on the waiting time (cause I usually wait for the white primers to dry up a little before adding the mascara). This black primer is created so that there is no wait time, and it helps prepare the lashes for the fiber mascara. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the fiber mascara formula. Fiber mascara means that there are little tiny fibers in the mascara that attach to the lashes and thus helps with creating a lengthening look to each individual lash. This mascara DOES deliver in helping with length if that’s your concern but it also helps with volume if that’s what you seek. I also love that this mascara was neither clumpy nor did it ever feel heavy. Bonus, there’s no flaking, smudging, or fall-out all day! Instead, what you do get is defined, extra-voluminous, and long lashes without the hassle of falsies or extensions! A definite win/win in my book.

Price: $10.99

Where To Buy It: https://www.lorealparisusa.com

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By: Azzurra Nox