I have deliberated, read and re-read, and have come to a decision on who the winner of the Fang Fiction Flash Fiction competition is. Are you ready? It is none other than…
Jamie Parry-Bruce with his story Winning Smile
Congratulations Jamie! A copy of Seven Dark Stars: Blackness Absolute is on its way to you!
I loved Jamie’s story. It takes a very different angle on the fangs – delving into the metaphorical and physical – whilst also drawing on classic sources such as Nosferatu. I won’t say anything more in case it ruins the delicious experience of watching this succinct nightmare unfold. So now, here, without further ado, is Winning Smile.
By Jamie Parry-Bruce
Ellaria Beldame covers her mouth when she eats. She doesn’t speak with her mouth full and swallows every bite before raising her fork to her lips and opening them just wide enough to allow the next tiny morsel of food entry. And, whenever she smiles on camera, her lips are firmly shut.
The first points make her seem well bred or, at least, the product of successful etiquette training. But the last you’d never notice unless someone told you about it.
I’d been a junior assistant to Ms. Beldame for four months when my friend pointed it out to me. She’d handed me a few magazines and, in an instant, I knew she was right: there was not one tooth on show.
After that, I saw it everywhere. In magazines, newspapers, promotional material, social media, the few personal pictures that hung in her office. No teeth. Not ever.
On camera, in the few interviews she’s given and during infrequent appearances on morning TV shows, she speaks carefully, barely opening her mouth to get the words out.
But when she speaks in person, she’s all teeth, all the time. And it’s intoxicating.
Looking back, I’m not surprised I took this job over another – a senior position worth an extra two thousand a year. All I remember of the interview is talking nonsense for ten minutes while she smiled at me.
And what a smile! I can’t recall what the smile itself was like, but I know how I felt. I felt untouchable, lifted, like great success was just around the corner. Anything I wanted, it said, could be mine.
So I took the job. It’s not too hard, I help Melissa – Ms. Beldame’s other PA – organise the schedule, I take and make calls, I book venues, arrange cars and travel with her around Europe. It won’t be long before she breaks America, too, I’m sure. And from there, the world.
Ms. Beldame is a highly successful, widely acclaimed and much sought-after motivational speaker. A few years ago, she got her big break and, since then, she’s been in demand. Last year, she went to France, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Finland. I went with her to Spain earlier this year for a five-event tour, culminating in Barcelona.
Melissa and I never get to see the talks. If Ms. Beldame is working, we’re working. But I caught the end of the Barcelona talk while I waited for her – iced water in hand – in the wings.
Speak to anyone who’s been to one of her events and they won’t be able to tell you what she said. They’ll just remember the feelings: empowerment, invincibility, a sense that you can do anything you set your mind to. It fades in time but, for a few weeks, you’ll work harder and better than you ever have in your entire life.
At the end of that show, people whooped and cheered, they stood up, stamped their feet and clapped until their hands were raw. I nearly clapped with them, until the jug and glass clanged together and I remembered myself.
For the past few months, Ms. Beldame had been looking a little thinner, pale and wan. She was frail and got out of breath quickly. But, right before a show, she seemed to dredge up strength from somewhere and, suddenly, she was bright and beautiful, strong and capable again.
A few weeks ago, right before a show in Cardiff, I heard her tell Melissa it was time. Melissa seemed anxious – scared. She was tugging at her scarf – I’d never seen her without it and, when she saw me looking, she straightened and tightened it. I asked what was wrong but she shook her head, told me to help backstage.
I was carrying in Ms. Beldame’s Fortnum and Mason hamper to the green room – she’d pick daintily at the food inside until she was ready to go on – when I heard harsh whispering on the other side of the door.
It was open, so I peered inside. Ms. Beldame was sitting down, Melissa bent over her. Their heads were close, like they were whispering or kissing. Melissa’s scarf dangled limply from her hand.
When Melissa stood up, I caught a fleeting glimpse of Ms. Beldame’s open mouth. Her lips were bloody and, behind them, were sharp, needle-like teeth, red and glistening wetly. Ms. Beldame sighed and, as I watched, the beauty returned to her face, the lustre to her skin and the strength to her body.
It took all my courage to act normally after that.
That night, I stood at the back of the auditorium, mobile phone in hand, and filmed her, secretly.
She didn’t speak. The crowd just watched her smile. They saw success and happiness, they saw wealth and power.
All I saw were fangs.
About the author
Jamie was born in Nottingham but now lives in North Wales with his wife, daughter and two cats. His tastes run a little to the eclectic but he can mostly be found cowering under the sheets with the likes of Lovecraft and King, braving new frontiers with the occasional Herbert and Card or curling up by the fire with old favourites like Rowling and Pratchett.
He is also a contributor on GameSpew.
Thank you all very much for tuning in, entering the competition and offering your support. There will be more opportunities to win stuff and more stories to read in the future, so keep coming back as the BeeGees once said.
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