Posts Published by Yuliia Vereta

Writer from Ukraine of short stories, poetry and creative non-fiction, and world traveler. Works published in Litro Magazine (UK), Genre: urban arts (USA), Penultimate Peanut Magazine (USA), the Valley Voices (USA), and the McGuffin (USA). Horror stories and poetry published in the 'Dark Dossier' magazine (USA), 'Dissections' horror magazine - published by the University of Brighton (UK), 'Aphelion' magazine (USA), and Bewildering Stories (USA). Received the City of Rockingham Short Story Award (Australia) in 2018. 

Platzkarte 25

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Sudden brakes woke me up. By inertia, I hit my elbow on the metal side of the bed and sighed. My arm started aching, but still not as much as my head. I cursed and opened my eyes.

The dim light made me squint. Then I got up from the bunk and sat with my feet touching the cold floor. The clock showed half-past eight. Looking out the window, I saw that the picture outside had changed.

Earlier I saw abandoned dilapidated houses, neglected fields, and rare trees, crushed by a thick layer of black dust flashing outside the window. Now I was looking at the once majestic building of the Kazan railway station. This city had seen much better times. The bricks in the walls were missing in places; almost every window had the broken glass.

The most conspicuous place showed a huge red banner with two white hieroglyphs. I don’t know how to read those correctly, maybe Ka-Shang or Ka-Zhen. Despite all the simplifications made in Chinese after the Great Reunification of Peoples and my countless efforts, I still could not communicate. Reading and writing were even a bigger problem than speaking.

This part of the Russian Union passed under the wing of the Republic of China long ago. The thankful Republic wrote off Russian debts for anti-radiation shields and food greenhouses. Of course, this transition brought little improvement, but the situation looked more under control.

Transparent green balls aimed to absorb chemicals covered all the visible land. Tiny helpers glowed in the dark like garlands scattered across the night. Several freight cars were visible on the platform behind the station. White barrels stuck out of them like candles from a cake. Each of them bore an inscription: ‘Attention! Dangerous substances! Keep a distance of 3+ meters’. They wrote the warning in all five common languages: Chinese, English, Russian, Arabic, and German.

Suddenly, I heard two muffled voices coming from outside. Two workers, dressed in bright yellow uniforms, exclaimed on the platform. One of them knocked on the wheels with a wrench filling the surrounding reality with a dull sound. Having checked all the wheels, the workers moved on and their voices got lost somewhere beyond my vision.

The noise inside the train did not subside and was not subject to control. People were chatting all around me. I was lucky with the ticket. I came across the bottom seat in the niche, simply saying the best possible. Two pairs of legs, lying on the bunks above me, seemed to envy my position. Just like two passengers with aisle seats sitting in front.

I heard that nowadays they even started selling tickets for standing places. But that’s only for bullet trains and high-speed airships. Enjoying my place, I once again looked around at all my closest neighbors. I have been watching them for three days and at this point it seems to me there is nothing they could surprise me with. The woman on the bunk bed next to me is about the same age as I am.

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The Day She Became The Storm

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Skylar Lawrence was a very quiet little girl. When she was a baby she lost her parents in a car accident and was raised by her grandmother in the small town in Vermont. Those few things she knew about her parents were mainly the memories she built from the photos and some of their belongings. She never actually missed them; she did not feel she was ever familiar with the people she saw on the photos.

She spent her childhood and youth years in that same town she left after having entered the college. That time she left, she left it forever except that week she came to her grandma’s funeral in the middle of spring term. That day has changed her, made her feel totally alone in the big brave world, made her hate her solitude, which lasted until she met Hayden Foster – the love of her life, her future husband that cured her from her superstitions, prejudice, preconceptions, paranoia and what’s the most important – loneliness. She was looking for him for a very long time before she found the person she pictured in her head as a perfect idea, like the shining star that would light up her way.

She was dreaming about someone, who would come to her life not to visit, but to stay; someone, who would love the chocolate cake and hate the olives, just like she did; someone, who would see, understand and accept the monsters she was holding in her drawers and her wardrobe, and let her keep them; someone, who would see the beauty and the ugliness in every single human being; someone, who would be able to see the world not the way it was, but in the way she saw it, so gorgeous and so monstrous, so innocent and so filthy, full of the amazing things that are easy to create and easy to destroy. Eventually she met that person, he came out of her. She met him long time after she was meant to, in the most uncomfortable time, but she met him. Moreover, she made him.

Skylar Lawrence was special. Everybody said that – her grandma, her teachers, her neighbors, her friends. But it turned out to be a problem, when she became too special. Her grandmother was taking a very good care of her, at times even being too strict. Skylar had dark blond hair always braided or scraped into the ponytail. Her clothes were always ironed and neat. Her manners were just fine, her posture was perfect and she never sat with her knees apart. She was not very social, but had several school friends, who immediately stopped talking to her after everybody discovered what she was capable of.

One of those days when she was a child, she was playing outside with her ball and it rolled into the neighbor’s rosebush. When she finally got it from there, having scratched her forearms to blood she saw two patent-leather shoes standing on the grass. She raised her gaze and stood up. ‘Who wears leather shoes in summer?’ she thought.
‘I do’, answered the boy standing opposite her. ‘These are my favorite shoes, I wear them every day’.

Skylar gasped, her eyes widened. ‘That was so rude. I did not want to say that aloud. Did I say that aloud?’ the thoughts were rapidly rushing in her confused mind.

‘No, you didn’t. You did not say that. But I heard it’, the boy was slightly smiling, ‘You don’t have to say it for me to hear it’.

‘Liar!’ said Skylar impatiently. She knew it was rude to say that word as well and she was not allowed to use it, but lying was also bad and having measured those using the scale of bad things she just invented in her head, she came to conclusion that pronouncing the word ‘Liar’ was not as bad as actually being a liar.

‘I am not lying’, said the boy shaking his head.

‘Yes, you are. Nobody can hear what I think if I don’t say it out loud.’

‘I can’ said the boy shrugging his shoulders.

‘I guess’ Skylar started ‘you can prove it, if you really can read my mind’. Then she tightly shut her eyes and covered her mouth with both hands.

‘Pizza, pony, twelve’, said the boy rolling his eyes up. ‘Anything else?’ he seemed upset because of Skylar checking him.

She peered out at him and tried to understand how he was doing that, but did not find any reasonable explanation.

‘I want to try again’, she said and rapidly closed her eyes and covered the mouth.

‘Hopscotch, Christmas tree, Barbie’, the boy seemed to get bored.

‘How are you doing that? Is that some magic trick?’ Skylar did not know how it was actually possible for a person to read someone else’s mind. It was that time when she did not yet figure out how far from being the person was that boy standing in front of her.

‘Kind of. I can do many things’, answered the boy. He could clearly see that Skylar was curious and not scared a bit, unlike the rest of the kids he was trying to make friends with. He liked her. She was different.

‘Many things?’ Skylar widened her eyes. ‘Like what?’

‘Like this’ said the boy touching Skylar’s forearm that got scratched when she was trying to release the ball from the rosebush. When he moved his hand away there was nothing else but smooth perfect skin with no marks. Skylar stood motionless with her mouth opened.

‘The priest was telling us about people like you, who can do miracles’, she finally constrained herself to speak.

There are only a few people who can do such things. So I can’t tell others about it. Only to those who can do something special too. Can you promise that you will keep this in secret?’ he asked.

‘I will. I promise’, said Skylar nodding her head ‘But why did you tell me? I can’t do anything like it’.

‘I think you can. You just need to recall it. You are very special, Skylar. I hope you will soon have the power to do amazing things just like I do. And if so we could make great things together.’

Skylar’s face widened in a smile. ‘Wow! Can you teach me how to do it?’ She was excited.

‘Sure. We can begin right away. I can show you more and you will learn something of what I can do’

‘Do you want to go to the park and show me more there? It’s just around the corner.’

‘Sounds like a good plan to me’, the boy smiled.

‘You didn’t tell me your name by the way’, said Skylar.

‘Dylan’ he answered and together they went along the road, deeper and deeper to what had to be hidden from Skylar and all the other living beings, having left the Mrs. Lowell’s rosebush behind.

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