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News & Features » November 2017 » “Setting the Record Straight” by Susan Comford

“Setting the Record Straight” by Susan Comford

In October 2017 we published An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, a rare literary science fiction set in a future universe so gorgeously described and perfectly self-contained—and yet so harrowing and cruel—that its only parallel universe is our own. Solomon’s novel has inspired this speculative fiction series. We’ve been through the past, and we haven’t really learned from it. The present? We’re too busy attempting to survive it. So we’re asking you to provide us a glimpse of what comes next. Illustrate the essential choices we must make in the present that will lead us to your brilliant utopian future. Or, if you cannot anticipate utopia, provide us instead with your cautionary tale. Show us where we will fall if we—when we—fail to alter our course. Fri-SciFi stories are published on Fridays because we expect we’ll need the weekend to contemplate your vision.

This week, a Satanist sets the record straight.

Setting the Record Straight
by Susan Cornford
Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia

We get a lot of bad press, you know, and none of it is warranted. For years people have been writing about “The Satanists of Kings Park.” It seems that everybody knows we hold rituals every full moon at midnight and dance about around a fire. That part is true, except we’re too mindful of bushfires to have a real one, so there’s a symbolic one a member of the coven made for us.

But the bad part of the story, which has been absolutely not true in the over-100-years I’ve been a member, is that we are the ones killing the homeless people who sleep in the park. Now, there are homeless people and they do get killed sometimes, but we are not “sacrificing them to Satan”, as the journos would have it.

It’s serial killers. You wouldn’t believe how many serial killers there are, roaming around the park every night, just looking for homeless people to feed their predatory addiction, knowing that people will then put the blame onto us.

Tonight’s a case in point. Martha and Abby and I got there early to scout out the area. What we do do to the homeless people is to cast a little, light spell on them so they don’t wake up and see us and get scared. I mean, these people already have enough problems without adding to what they’d think was their store of hallucinations. What we also found were no less than three serial killers, all stalking around in the foliage, looking for victims. You can tell them by their smell, which you wouldn’t want me to describe. They sort of “didn’t see” us, which is another useful, little spell to have. Each of us took one of them and followed him home, after making them feel just unwell enough that leaving seemed like a good idea.

I followed my man back to a nice, little, suburban neighbourhood and his ordinary, brick-and-tile house on a quarter-acre block with lawn sprinklers. He probably has a wife and kids, but I didn’t want to know. Before he went inside, I cast my major spell, the one that keeps them from ever going back to King’s Park or anywhere else to kill another human being. In fact, some of them probably become vegans afterwards. But that’s their tough shit.

All three of us advance-guard made it back in time for the usual festivities and nobody a scrap the worse for it. So, you see, you can’t always believe what you read in the papers and online. In fact, I’m none too sure that some of those newly-converted vegans aren’t journos!



Susan Cornford is a retired public servant, living in Perth, Western Australia. She has pieces published or forthcoming in 50-Word Stories, Antipodean Science Fiction, Ghost Parachute, Medusa’s Laugh, Speculative 66, Subtle Fiction, Switchblade, The Fable Online, The Gambler and The Vignette Review. She now considers herself an emerging flash writer. A practical, organized person, she likes reading (most recently Louise Welsh and Patrick Rothfuss), crime TV, crosswords and discovering things like the fact that the word “tragedy” comes from the Greek for “singing goats.”


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Fri-SciFi series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines.

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a conceivable, not a fantastical, future. No dragons, please.
—With your byline, include the date or era OR galaxy or ship or planetary system in which your story takes place. Or both. But not neither.
—To be perfectly frank, we prefer dystopias. But feel free to surprise us.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words, and must be previously unpublished.
—Please include a short bio with your submission.
—Accepted submissions to Fri-SciFi are typically posted 1–3 months after the notification date, and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Nov 3, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Fri-SciFi, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,