Science Fiction Crime Horror



Oh, I could eat you up. Eat you whole. In one bite.

Valentine smiles to herself, in her close-lipped way, 'pensive' they call it in the publicity sumsen. She always smiles this way. Lips closed. She has beautiful, blinding-white, even teeth, lighting up her dark blue-black features and her espresso-brown eyes, but few have ever seen this wonderful smile. Jonathan is one of them. One of the few.

Standing there on the deck of the Queen Mary, the fog rolling in, Jonathan is framed against the LA night-time skyline, backlit by the city's cheloways, their flickering narrow rainbow-beams cutting through the night sky and the fog, like the old-fashioned glow-stick rave-lights Jonathan showed her once in an antique sumsen, one that only had vision and sound, flat, no sensation, but still gave her this feeling, hard to explain, her whole ahu bursting open with joy, everybody dancing to the thumping beat, sweating, grinning, laughing, a sea of flesh, lit by multi-colored streaks of light. 

A laser-show, Jonathan said. Glow-sticks, he said. A rave party


The word made her feel something in the pit of her afo, stretched her lips, flared her nostrils, made her obi beat faster.

Her obi is strangely quiet now. Numb.

Oh, Jonathan. Hu! Look this way, lah. Look my way.

No, she catches herself. She's not ready for him to see her. She wants him to wonder, look for her, not seeing. Will she come? Will she stand him up? 

Let him wonder, lah.



"Just hold this," Jonathan said. This was three months ago, right here, on the Queen Mary. Night time. The cheloways ablaze with Saturday night traffic.

He handed her a ring, the circumference of a large dinner plate, a faint glow pulsating from within. It was cold to her touch.

"What is it?" She looked up into his eyes, those bright blue eyes that seemed like ocean and sky right where they come together at the horizon.


"Like, what, a sumsen?"

"In a way." He nodded. "But different. It doesn't just capture sensations, not just the sight and sounds and touch and smell and taste. More. It picks up emotions, then amplifies."

"Amplifies my emotions?" She almost let go of it, then. But that would be even more telling. More revealing.

"That's right."

"Oh." The ring was pulsing pink-red-purple-pink-red-purple. "Scary."

"Sure. But it's the future. The future, now."

He clasped her slender aka in his, grabbed the ring, his long fingers closing around it, so they both held it, from either end. Colors shifted. Blue-red-white-pink-blue-purple. And she felt it. Felt him. Felt his emotions. And they were ...

She gasped.


He smiled at her then. "Can't fool this thing."

"I felt it. I felt ... you?"

"I know. I felt you too."

"Oh, I didn't know. You feel the same? I thought it was just me."

"I didn't mean for it to happen," he said. A serious expression now. "Your father will be furious with me, I'm afraid." Then he cracked his wide, lopsided grin, and both his eyes crinkled at the corners. "Furious," he said.

She smiled back up at him, and not the close-lipped kind. "I don't care, lah."

And then, they kissed.

The ring, the emotion-amplifier, clasped between them, pulsed deep red, then flashed blinding white.



The first time she had seen Jonathan was in the studio, three months before the kiss on the Queen Mary, six months before today.

Her nna, her father, Samuel Okoro, known and loved by millions as Yangi, the hitmaker, knew what he wanted. Someone to carry on his legacy: his daughter, Valentine.

"She has the most beautiful voice," he said, his aka on Valentine's shoulder, fingers squeezing, hot, heavy, pressure.

"And she is a poet." Pride in his voice.

Father held up a bi-jue, the gleaming metal shaped like an egg.

Not just any bi-jue. Her bi-jue, she realized. The words, her secret words, her personal, private sensations, bubbled up from the bi-jue's titanium frame, hung there in the air. For all to see. 

"Nna, mba!" She howled, a wounded animal, reaching for the bi-jue, fingers splayed, shaking.

Father pulled the device away, held it high over his head, and the words bubbled over, surrounded him like a multi-colored halo made up of sumsen babbles, the recordings of her private thoughts and sensations, on display.

"Biko!" She cried, pleading. "Please, father."

He laughed, his deep rumble-growl laugh, turned to the man, the producer, Jonathan, sitting at the studio control panels.

"See, this is the problem. She is shy. Beautiful, talented, but so shy."

Jonathan shrugged. "I'm no miracle worker."

"Well, see what you can do," father said, tossing the bi-jue carelessly to Jonathan, who caught it easily in one hand, sumsen-babbles spraying all around the room, revealing her innermost thoughts.

"Chi knows," her father said, "I can't get anywhere with her. She's impossible." 

Father left the studio control room, Valentine and Jonathan staring at each other, her eyes wide open and wild, his narrowed and twinkling with amusement.

"Turn it off!" Valentine barred her teeth, nostrils flaring. He smiled, gestured, and the bi-jue obediently went to sleep, the babbles bursting and fading in mid-air.

"He's right, you know," Jonathan said. "From what I heard just now, you've got something really good here." He patted the bi-jue.

She plopped down in the chair next to him, arms crossed, sullen. "They're my own thoughts and sensations," she said. "Private, lah."

"Sure," he said. "I understand. Not everyone's comfortable sharing. Your dad pushes pretty hard, doesn't he?"

She nodded. "Can I have it back?"

Without a word he handed her the bi-jue. Their fingers touched.

"Thanks." She pretended to fiddle with the device, peeked up at him, sideways, under long lashes, half-closed eyelids. Of course, he was awfully cute. Older, of course, but not old. Not like her father. Jonathan was, what, thirty? Not even that. Twenty-five, twenty-seven? Something like that. Less than two months ago, Valentine had celebrated her eighteenth birthday.

"You know, you don't have to do anything you don't want to."

"He'll just keep pushing. It's his thing. He's got it in his mind now."

Jonathan chuckled. "You're probably right about that. So. You're pretty much screwed, I guess." He grinned.

She smiled back, close-lipped. "What do I do? I'm not a performer."

"Too nervous?"

She nodded.

"Would you sing for me? Just for me?"

She shook her head.

"I'll lock the door, so no-one can walk in. I'll close my eyes, turn around, face the wall." He smiled again, blue eyes warm, like a summer sky.

Her obi beat very fast, like a small fearful thing, looking into the eyes of the flustering predator.

He got up, locked the door. Sat down again, both aka demonstratively covering his eyes, like a child playing hide-and-seek, swiveled his chair around, his back to her.

"Come on. Please, just one song. Pick your favorite."

She wanted to. She said, "No."


"I can't do it."

"I promise I'll be kind. But I'll tell the truth, too. If you're no good, I'll tell your dad, I swear. Then you're off the hook, lah."

But what if I am good, she thought.

Truth was, she thought she might be. She had recorded herself, listened, of course she had, over and over and over again, dreaming about ... something ..., but mostly just listening, seeing, sensing, and honestly she liked what she heard, saw, felt.

She woke the bi-jue, selected the simple tune she had recorded two months ago, the evening before her birthday, and tinkered with ever since, until she felt it was ... possibly, maybe ... good.

She gestured to let the sumsen-babbles begin to stream out, without the vocal sentrack, then began singing along, live, with the prerecorded babble-beat, softly at first, she heard the breathless quiver in her voice, but then, feeling her voice grow stronger, more confident, until she lost herself in the flow of the moment, and she became her own true voice.

Afterwards, he turned around to face her.


Her eyes wide. "Really?"

"Really." He leaned forward, grasped both her aka in his warm, firm, large aka, squeezed her fingers gently, her obi racing even faster. "Don't do it for your dad. Do it for me. For everyone, all of us. You have a gift. A real gift. Believe me. This is what you're meant to do."

Wordlessly, she nodded.

"And don't be afraid," he said, looking into her eyes. He looked so earnest. "You can do it."

She decided, then.

"I will."



Jonathan was right. Her father was furious.

"Who does he think he is, lah? My daughter? My teenage daughter!"

Pacing up and down the room, he paused from time to time to look to Kanu. The old priest caught her father's eyes, shook his head in sympathy, ancient wrinkled features set in a mask of concern.

"I forbid it." Father whirled on Valentine. "I forbid you to see him again. Ever! Do you hear?"

"Mba." She was calm, just the single word, the negation.

"What?" Father stopped in his tracks, eyes bulging, broad powerful shoulders hunched up, fists balled.

"You heard me, nna. Mba. I won't stop seeing him. I love Jonathan."

"You don't know him."

"I know I love him."

"Ahh." He waved her away. "You're a young nwa, nwata nwanyi. You don't know what's best for you. Tell her, Kanu."

"This Jonathan, he has a bad aura," Kanu said. The old man's voice always reminded her of a creaking door, in need of oiling. "Dangerous."

"You see!" Her father straightened up to his full height, six foot five, heavily muscled, still strong and imposing at forty-two. "Dangerous! The man is dangerous!"



On the deck of the Queen Mary, the cool November fog is rolling in, thicker, heavier, a wet film slowly seeping through the fabric of clothes, depositing tiny beads of moisture on his hair, Jonathan looks around.


He half-whispers the name.

She almost answers, but holds back.

Jonathan, as it turns out, is, in fact, dangerous. Her father was right.

Her father. These days, Valentine reflects, her father is just sad. He sits in his chair, those powerful shoulders hunched. His hands, those strong hands, now seem like gnarled roots, gripping the armrest. He hardly ever talks. He stares.

Kanu is always around, these days. Is he giving comfort? They never seem to talk. The old priest just sits next to Father, sometimes a hand on his forearm. That's all.

"Valentine?" Jonathan calls out. His voice echoes across the empty deck of the Queen Mary.

She doesn't answer.



The first time Valentine saw Jonathan's temper, she loved it.

So passionate!

The second time, she felt threatened, felt that, perhaps, he could even hurt her.

When it was good between them, it was, still, so very, very good.

But when it was bad ...



Then, on the night it happened, it's all ... a blur in her mind, screaming at each other, hurtful words, a sudden shift, and her world shrinks to a pinpoint, the blackest mood, abandonment, the incomprehensible, then no more. Exactly how it happened, what happened, is hazy, as if she can't let herself remember. It would hurt too much.

And, after, they were both so sad.

So sad.


After the sadness, confusion.

After the confusion, anger.

After the anger, longing.

She stayed on the periphery, in the shadows, watching him from afar.

He didn't see her.

But then, one time, he caught a glimpse of her, in a mirror. Their eyes met, his widened with surprise. She ducked away into the shadows. 

Amorous, but out of reach.

She let him catch another glimpse, then another, always slipping away into the shadows. 

She was the prey that wished and longed for the predator, for the thrill of the chase, for the release of captivity.

A fugitive too dull to flee.



Then, the invitation.

Dining alone, he sealed the note in a small envelope and left it on the table after he had paid for the meal.

When he was gone, she hurried from her hiding place, from the shadows by the bar, and snatched the small envelope before the waiter came back to clear the table.


The single letter in royal blue ink, his handwriting, in the exact, calibrated center of the small envelope.

Her fingers shook as she broke the seal, tearing a tiny, frayed triangular corner off the flap in her hurry to see what this was.

She pulled out the note, reading the finely formed words in his neat, precise handwriting:


I am so sorry for my part in what happened. 

Will you meet me?  

Our place, you know where.  

Our first kiss.  

I won't say where, in case someone else gets this note. 

Tomorrow evening.  


Please come.  

- J.



Jonathan leaves the Queen Mary, not looking back. Does he know she is following?

She sees his bright red chelo, parked in the dark and the fog.

She moves quickly, quietly, out of sight, and gets to the vehicle ahead of him, then, as he clicks the remote key, as the cheloseals plink-clack to the unlocked, unzipped position, she slides open the rear door, slips into the back seat, lying low, head down, cheekbone-skin caressing the supple sleather.

As he gets in the driver's seat, the engine automatically spins up with a soft whine, and they lift off.

The cabin is quiet. He never plays sumusic or newstalk in his chelo. Babbleshow is his job, after all, so he relaxes his mind in silence.

In silence, then, they soar towards the bright-neon rave-lightshow of the cheloways, the firefly dots of light from the city skyscrapers receding far below them. The cheloways grab hold with their strong agrav fields, giving the chelo's smaller agrav engine a rest, a recharge, and they accelerate, that insistent push of G-forces, cocooned and softened by the chelo's interior agrav field, as they speed towards the destination. Wherever it may be.

The cabin is quiet. He is quiet. Does he know she is here, hiding in the back seat? 

As quickly as they entered, they exit the cheloways, and the vehicle begins the descent in slow, sweeping, swooping loops, circling towards its destination.

Landing, the engine purr-whines down three octaves, then the driver's door slides open, and Jonathan exits.

She waits until he is almost out of sight in the dark and the fog, then she quietly unzips the rear door from the inside, slips out of her back-seat hiding place, and follows.

When she catches up, he is standing still, eyes lowered, down towards the ground.

What is this place?

As she moves up quietly behind him, she realizes where she is.

And things begin to come back. Jumbled memories.


She doesn't want to see this small ... place ... this very small mansion, this chamber where she must have spent some time, although she can't remember. She doesn't want to look, but it's time. Time to remember.

The two stone angels flank the bronze plaque on the mausoleum:


MARCH 16, 2061 - OCTOBER 13, 2079

She is mesmerized by this, her own grave, not noticing that he has turned around to face her, until she hears him speak her name, a hushed whisper:



Valentine remembers.

She remembers ... the violence.

She remembers ... Jonathan killing her.

She remembers ... dying. Everything, the whole world, contracting to a single bright dot, then the complete black.

Alone. Abandoned.

A timeless time passed, or not ... a singular now.

And, then.

Coming back.

Her father standing over her, and Kanu, both of them chanting the incantation, completing the ceremony.

New life.

But not life, not exactly.


She puts her aka on her chest, palm flat against the breastbone. Her obi is still, not a beat. There is no blood pumping through her veins.


And now she understands why her father is so sad, why he just sits in his chair, staring.

She has returned from the grave. Back, in a form of life, but not really living, no longer human.

Then, realizing what this means, she looks up, looks at Jonathan with new eyes.

Hungry eyes.

"Valentine," Jonathan says again, his voice a bit firmer now. "Is it really you?"

Well, she thinks, giving him the close-lipped version of her smile. I'm not sure if you will like the answer to that question.

But she realizes, now, that she does. She likes being this new thing, this powerful new being.

For as long as she can remember, she has felt powerless. A shy, sensitive, young girl, in a man's world.

Now she has power.

I've made my peace. I'm dead. I'm done. 

I'm free.

Now she can be true to her nature. Her new nature.

Standing so close to Jonathan feels intoxicating. There is that old, heady feeling, just being close to him, his breathtaking beauty. Now it is mixed with something else, something even stronger. Her nostrils flair, taking in this new sensation.

She still wants Jonathan. She wants him in a pure way. A way of appetites.

In the most intimate way, Jonathan will be hers.

The tip of her pink tongue runs across her full lips. 

Oh, I will eat you up.

Eat you whole.

The fog clears, the full moon a pure white circle in the black velvet sky, a shadow over her tombstone, a black bird landing, folding in its black wings.

The raven turns its head, fixing her with its black eye, as she reaches for Jonathan.

May 06, 2023 02:57

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Mary Bendickson
13:50 May 06, 2023

🏆Masterful Geir at work, but ,oh, the dark side!


Geir Westrul
13:59 May 06, 2023

Thank you, Mary! Sometimes it's fun to go dark.


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22:22 May 18, 2023

After I read all the comments I 'got' your story so much better. The link didn't work and I didn't want to have to put it in letter by letter. I was amazed at how much time and effort you must have put into your story. A suggestion. I went over it a couple of times to get the timeline straight. Maybe put the years after the months so we understand the passage of time. The first time through I wasn't so conscious of some parts being like flashbacks as it wasn't obvious. Loved the Sci Fi touch. Seriously creepy. Definitely Crime and Horror. We...


Geir Westrul
12:59 May 20, 2023

Kaitlyn, thank you, that was very important to hear about the flashback confusion. Instead of repeating the year, I added "X MONTHS BEFORE TONIGHT" under each of the months. It is so much clearer, and adds to the looping-back feeling. The added benefit is that in the final sections it seems like a countdown "THREE MONTHS BEFORE TONIGHT", "TWO MONTHS BEFORE TONIGHT", etc, ... which adds a subtle tension, I think. Unfortunately I can't edit an accepted story on Reedsy, so the updated version is on my blog, here: https://www.storybuzz.com/b...


02:30 May 21, 2023

Only too happy to help. Yes it is a pain not being able to edit stories once accepted. Thanks for the suggestion about the link.


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Philip Ebuluofor
13:35 May 11, 2023

Do they understand? Fine work.


Geir Westrul
15:54 May 11, 2023

Thank you, Philip!


Philip Ebuluofor
11:43 May 13, 2023

Your name and most of the language that appeared in this work Is in the class of their own in pari passu.


Geir Westrul
23:51 May 13, 2023

It was fun to use language that was partially invented for this future cyberpunk world, ("chelo", "bi-jue", "sumsen" etc) and partially in the Igbo language. Hopefully the meaning of the words were understandable from the context.


Geir Westrul
23:52 May 13, 2023

... for a full list of both the invented words and the Igbo language I used in the story, see this blog article about the writing process for this story: https://www.storybuzz.com/blog/writing-process-valentine


Philip Ebuluofor
06:48 May 15, 2023

I can understand now.


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Mike Panasitti
19:21 May 06, 2023

You've created a viable hybrid of science fiction and horror with an intriguing plot. I was left with questions: does the undead (and famished) Valentine return to music? If she does, will her new personality lead her to become a famous singer? Who else will become a victim to her newly acquired appetites for flesh and fame? This story is easily the start of a page-turning novel.


Geir Westrul
02:29 May 07, 2023

Ah, very interesting, an undead influencer pop-star. I can get with that vibe, somehow.


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Annie Persson
20:53 Oct 21, 2023

I really like the sci-fi-type world you have going on here! I'm not sure I like the ending though... unfortunately, I've read too many of these recently, and I really don't like the death thing. I think it's much nicer to have an alive character finishing the story peacefully than a dead character ending the story somewhat tumultuously.


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Michał Przywara
23:04 Jun 04, 2023

Goodness! Here I was about to say that you crafted a really cool look at the future, with immersive and yet still understandable words and tech, and a familiar set of struggles - child vs parent, forbidden love, the pressures of stardom - and then you crank it right to eleven :) What an awesome and unexpected twist! Dystopian popstar zombi, from the POV of the deceased. It's a really cool premise, and I like how she spends the whole story adjusting to her new life - transforming from prey to predator. All inside a well fleshed out setting. ...


Geir Westrul
11:37 Jun 08, 2023

Thank you, Michał, that was a perfect summary of what I was going for! So glad you enjoyed the story.


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Geir Westrul
16:56 May 07, 2023

If you're a Fiona Apple fan, you may recognize that both the title of this story as well as lines sprinkled throughout are from (or riffs on) the title and lyrics of her song "Valentine" from "The Idler Wheel..." album. If you want to know more about how I developed this story, here is a link to a blog post that describes the writing process. https://www.storybuzz.com/blog/writing-process-valentine


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