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Momento Mori
A Collection of Short Fiction
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-096-5
Genre: Supernatural/Horror
eBook Length: 389 Pages
Published: November 2003

From inside the flap

Momento Mori (Latin for Reminder of Death) contains 36 of Angeline Hawkes-Craig’s speculative fiction stories. Each of these tantalizing tales remind the reader just how much death is interwoven into life. From Richard III to the American Civil War, history and horror are blended together to give a fear-filled twist to old perspectives. In the much published, ?The Foundling?, a horrific realization unfolds in an 18th century Foundling Hospital within the dirty, urban squalor of London, England. Also featured is the horror tale, ?Premonitions? ? a short, but terrifying story that was awarded Horror-Web’s Best of Horror-Web 2002 Contest Fiction award. In ?The Heir?, a witch helps shape the course of history and gives new meaning to Queen Mary's nickname, Bloody Mary. After your trip through history, suit up for a few journeys into unexplored space for a visit with monsters of a new sort. Take a journey to Tudor England ? run through the wilds of Scotland ? hop aboard a space ship to Mars ? But, wherever you venture, make sure you say your prayers and check behind you for vampires, ghosts and witches?because they?re all out there lurking ? waiting to remind you of death.

Reviews and Awards

"It's not everyday that you find horror stories which are both eloquent and brutal, yet these are exactly the kind of tales that Angeline Hawkes-Craig writes. Reminiscent of old masters like Algernon Blackwood and M. R. James, these stories will both titillate and entertain. Whether you're looking for a few scares, a thought-provoking read, or just a little fun, Angeline Hawkes-Craig will not disappoint."

--Jason Brannon, author of "Puzzles of Flesh" and "Five Days on the Banks of the Acheron", editor The Haunted.

Momento Mori (Excerpt)

Table of Contents


The Baby
Blood Oath
The Conversationalist
The Devil’s Son
The Doll in the Attic (Originally entitled The Window)
The Envelope
Fall From Heaven
Flight From The Massacre of Glencoe: 1692
The Foundling
The Green Lady
Helping A Stranger
The Heir (Voted Best Horror Fiction Story Scifantastic Jan/03)
The Legend of Brushy Creek
The Link
Mind Over Matter
The Milk Woman’s Daughter
The Ones Before
Painted Faces
Premonitions (Originally entitled The Board, Voted Best of Horror-Web Fiction 2002)
The Photograph
The Plague
The Princess and the Maidens
The Red: The Tale of the Nameless Soldier
The Ritual
Sgian Dubh
The Soldiers
The Stairs (Originally entitled The Stairway)
Tira: The Lady Luck
The Throne Secure
The Tour Guide
The Trench
The Turret Stairs
The Yellow Paper

The Baby

40 years old. She had been through the rounds of Clomid, the artificial insemination, the Invitro fertilization with her own eggs, with a donor’s eggs. They had contemplated surrogacy and adoption. She had been through it all. Over and over again. For years. Agonizing, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking years. The nursery was still empty. Her arms were still empty. Her womb was empty. Life, itself, was all so empty.

The electrical hum and buzz of the white bright light overhead pulsed down on her in a steady blaze of artificial light, but she didn?t object. It was the only thing in the stark, sterile room providing the slightest hint of warmth to her shivering body clad only in a thin cotton hospital gown that used to be some sort of yellow ? now, faded and washed perhaps a thousand times, it was closer to the color of parchment and near thread-bare. She shuddered. Feet high in the cold metal stir-ups. She could feel the outline of a metal bolt through the thin fabric covers on the stir-ups where her cold, bare feet rested. The room was so cold her toenails were blue. The paper surgical cover resting over her lower half rustled as she shifted her bottom trying to find a comfortable position on the hard, unyielding table.

Buzz. The light buzzed annoyingly loud now. It’s comforting interruption to the silence no longer was welcome, no longer was comforting ? just another all too familiar reminder of all that was wrong with her body. Buzz. Artificial. Her body wouldn?t make a baby like it was intended to do. She had to go from doctor to doctor seeking medical intervention ? medical interference ? in a process that should have been comforting and natural.

Natural. Nothing to her and Jack’s decision had been natural. She had traveled thousands of miles to this "undisclosed" location so that she could have one more chance at producing her own child. Some said she was being selfish to spend so much money on dead-end treatments and procedures to have a biological child when there were thousands upon thousands of children in the world needing parents and loving homes. Damn it. It was her decision. Her body. Her life. She wanted a baby. Her baby. She had listened to all of the feminists and had been a good equal rights toting liberal. She had her successful career and now she wanted a baby. Was that too much to ask? Sixteen-year-old crack whores could have babies for Christ’s sake. It was ludicrous. She wanted a baby. The baby. The baby she put off having in the name of success. In the name of financial stability. Now, doctors had the nerve to tell her she might have waited too long, that it might be too late?

Not if she could help it.

Dr. Ramirez opened the heavy metal door with a loud click and shut it with an equally loud clack that seemed to shatter the solitude of the room with a shattering roar. It had only been a click and a clack.

"Ah! Calmer now, I see?" the doctor smiled and looked at her through thick, scholarly glasses.

She nodded.

"Everything is successful. Now we wait to see if the cloned embryos take," he smiled while jotting notes down on his clipboard.

Lydia smiled and nodded.

"You can sit up now," Dr. Ramirez pointed to her legs with his pen. She shuffled around the table trying to modestly cover herself with the scanty paper square and worn gown. It was pretty much hopeless. He had seen everything there was to be seen anyway. Why did she bother?

"You and Jack can return home and call me with any developments," Dr. Ramirez finished jotting with a flourish and looked up smiling again.

Lydia smiled too. "Thank you."

Dr. Ramirez smiled again and reached for the doorknob. "Thank Science, Lydia," he said and left with a nod.

Lydia and Jack didn?t say much on the flight back home. Mostly they just slept. The stress from the whole ordeal was much more exhausting than any of the physical demands at this point. Besides, there wasn?t much to talk about. Everything rested in fate’s hands now. If they were lucky, she?d be pregnant with at least one baby girl ? her own clone. If she weren?t so lucky they?d be right back at square one. Lydia did not want to think about square one now. Or ever again. She had been back at square one too many times before.

Naturally the details of the pregnancy, should there be one, would need to be kept quiet. Cloning was illegal in the United States and most other countries and they didn?t feel like coming under the scrutiny of any government agencies. What was the punishment for being pregnant with your own clone anyway? Did they send you to prison? Take away the baby at birth to watch and study like a rat in a maze? Or worse ? did they force you to abort the baby ? somehow ? by coercion or worse? Lydia didn?t care to find out, nor did she wish to invite a media frenzy into her life or make her little family the hottest freak show on the front page of the grocery store tabloids and late night talk shows.

So, they waited.

She was lucky. After six weeks, she was confident enough to run down to the pharmacy and buy a home pregnancy test. Back at home, she hesitated for a minute before peeing on the stick ? did the pregnancy test work the same way for a cloned baby? It was positive. She was so excited that she ran down the hall to the phone in the kitchen ? called Jack at work and then burst out crying and laughing at the same time. Jack just kept laughing with her, at her. "Better call Dr. Ramirez," he said.

Lydia agreed and placed the long distance phone call shortly after talking with Jack. Dr. Ramirez was ecstatic and then gave her the name and address of his affiliate who would be treating her here in the states and participating in their collective work and keeping the whole clone business under wraps. Lydia knew that her entire pregnancy would be touch and go. These clone pregnancies had a tendency to go really bad really fast.

Dr. Archibald was her new doctor. He was younger than she expected and more the scientist than the doctor. His bedside manner, quite frankly, sucked and he treated her like the rat in the maze she had envisioned others might treat her child like. Everything had to be monitored. Sometimes the cloned baby grew too quickly. Developed abnormally. Sometimes things happened that were so horrific the parents and doctor were left with no choice but to abort the pregnancy for the sake of decency.

She had seen the photographs and read the cases. Dr. Ramirez had made sure that she and Jack were aware of the successes and the failures in the program. There were fetuses with six arms, two heads, some that seemed perfectly normal on the outside but had no organs or inner body parts whatsoever ? they were like skin babies, hollow like a wet and drink plastic baby doll,

only these were real babies. She knew the risks. There had been plenty of live babies who were all functioning well throughout the world right now.

The program was relatively new so the oldest child was only ten. The doctors could only provide medical data to the age of the oldest living clone, after that it was a data gathering process year by year. They would be kept abreast of new developments, they were promised.

Their baby developed normally. Perfectly. Dr. Archibald was very pleased at each appointment. Their baby girl was, so far, one of their latest success stories that would help other childless couples go ahead and take the plunge and try for their own baby. Even the baby’s birth went well ? six hours ? not bad at all!

Dr. Ramirez flew into the country to examine the baby with Dr. Archibald. They let Lydia and Jack remain in the room for all of the tests and procedures. Lydia was very impressed that they didn?t hide anything from them. Everything seemed peachy.

Lydia marveled at how baby Anna looked just like she did at every stage of development. Jack had to constantly remind Lydia that all of that was because essentially Anna WAS Lydia. So, naturally, she would look just like her at this or that stage or age. Lydia tried to forget all of that. She wanted to revel in the beauty of her baby and to try to pretend she and her little family were just as normal and natural as all of the other families up and down their block.

Lydia found a fantastic daycare program that Anna seemed to thrive in. The teachers and caregivers seemed to genuinely care for the children. Anna liked her playmates and enjoyed the activities provided her. Lydia found her adjustment back into her job went smoothly knowing Anna was content and well cared for while she was at work. Life went on normally.

Until the phone call.

Lydia picked up the phone while rifling through her metal file cabinet for a file.

"Mrs. Render?" the woman on the other end of the phone asked without any form of greeting.

"Uh, yeah, Hello?" Lydia propped the phone between her chin and shoulder and continued flipping through the manila colored file folders at a furious pace.

"Uh. Hello. This is Mrs. Keller from Anna’s daycare," the voice said clearly.

"Oh, Hi!" Lydia shoved the drawer shut with the back of her elbow and sat down in her swivel chair.

"We have a problem with Anna. Uh. Uh, we think you should come down here to the daycare as soon as possible," Mrs. Keller’s voice sounded jittery, shaky.

Lydia’s swiveling came to an abrupt halt. "What sort of a problem?" she demanded suddenly.

"We, uh, we really think you should come down here. Now," Mrs. Keller said again.

"What’s the problem? Is Anna okay?" Lydia was standing up now, reaching for her purse and keys.

"We really think you should come down to the daycare. Now," Mrs. Keller said again, her voice seemed a bit shrill this time.

Lydia frowned. "On my way."

She grabbed the purse off of the desk, knocking a few papers to the floor, and ran out of her office. Half way to the elevator, she called over her shoulder to the secretary that she had an emergency with Anna, and then she jumped into the open elevator.

Lydia’s mind raced on the drive over to the daycare. Damn traffic. Move! She shouted over her steering wheel at the car in front of her. What sort of problem? Was Anna okay? Mrs. Keller hadn?t said what the problem had been, my god! Was Anna dead? Why wouldn?t she tell her what the problem was? Lydia practically jammed the gas pedal down to the floor. She ran two stop signs and prayed no cops were around to stop her and keep her from getting to her baby.

When she got to the daycare parking lot, she rammed the car into a parking spot, jerked it into park and ran from the car to the front doors. She flung open the glass door and practically pounced on the front desk clerk.

"I?m Mrs. Render," she said loudly.

Mrs. Keller seemed to have heard her from the other room and appeared with astonishing speed. "Mrs. Render, Lydia? Good. Come this way, please," she grabbed Lydia’s elbow.

Lydia looked into Mrs. Keller’s face for some sort of clue as to what was going on. Mrs. Keller led her to her office and quickly closed the door behind her.

"Thanks, Tammy. You can go now and remember, we keep all daycare happenings private," she said to the young woman sitting in the nearest chair who had been watching something behind Mrs. Keller’s desk.

The girl who was Tammy scurried out of the room, closing the door firmly behind her.

Mrs. Keller walked to her desk and looked behind it strangely.

"Where is Anna? What is wrong?" Lydia couldn?t stay quiet any longer.

"Lydia. I don?t know what is going on, all I know is I have about four workers terrified out of their wits?" Mrs. Keller was interrupted by Lydia.

"Woman! Will you tell me what the hell is wrong with my baby?" she said very agitated and very loudly.