Courtenay S. Gray
Guest Editor, Fall 2020
An Acrostic Poem to start things off...
The themes explored in this issue of Thorn are otherworldly and filled with horrifying creatures.
Help us uncover the mesmerising, electrifying discoveries our contributors have made.
One day, you will see that reading this issue was the best thing you did.
Run, run as fast as you can.
Nobody is safe once they’ve been pricked by the Thorn.
Niku ni Toge (A Thorn in the Flesh)
She knows I am here, waiting. Asuka returned to the country a year ago after having ran away from The Chest. My name is えど (Edo), which is the old name for Tokyo. I am on my way to get some breakfast. The nearby diner is managed by Asuka’s associate, Kuro. They make the best お茶漬け (ochazuke, steamed rice with savory toppings steeped in green tea).
The diner is like walking into a science fiction film, there are alien portraits on the wall, and they keep a lot of octopi in tanks throughout the establishment. They play zen music to relax you as you eat your meal.
“Edo, it’s good to see you,” Kuro says, bowing.
“Dōyō ni (likewise),” I reply, bowing in unison.
Kuro shows me to my usual seat by the window with its rainbow glow from all the neon lights outside. He places my breakfast in front of me and disappears into the back room. I hear shouting—something is going on back there, and I am not hungry anymore.
Suddenly, Kuro comes out from behind a curtain holding a phone.
“Edo, my love,” Asuka says through the speaker. “I’ve got a job for you,” she adds pointedly.
I see that Kuro is secretly holding a knife to which I nod toward.
“Now, now, Kuro, don’t be a bakayarou (idiot). You’ve got your sick daughter to think about, remember.”
He removes the knife from his belt and slams it down on the sushi belt.
“Kuro! Be nice to Edo,” Asuka shouts through the phone.
Upon hearing this, Kuro returns to the back room, passing me the phone with Asuka still on the line.
“The Chest are looking for me, Edo.”
The Chest are an organisation that see the sanctity of keeping precious jewels. They are trying to hunt down Asuka because she stole a ruby. She also stole a silver heart pendant that she has never taken off her neck ever since.
“I know, Asuka. You need to give that ruby back. Why did you steal it in the first place?”
“Edo, you know better than to disrespect your elders. It is none of your business; as to my reasons for taking the ruby, you will do well to never ask me that question again!” she yells.
Kuro returns, and he hands me a piece of parchment.
We will kill you.
I must admit that I did not take Kuro seriously before, but he is proving to me just how serious he intends to be. My late father gifted me his yakuyoke (talisman), in his will. If I have ever had a need to ward off evil, that time has arisen.
Kuro leaps over the counter, brandishing the knife he had earlier. I leap backwards, holding onto my yakuyoke. Running outside, I drop the phone into a puddle, leaving it to sizzle and die. Kuro is hot on my trail, so I run into a nearby shopping arcade. I weave in and out of the perplexed shoppers.
“Edo!” Kuro shouts.
With a swift glance backwards, I see that he is making progress. Kuro sprints past the shop where I have hidden myself and runs straight into a giant statue of a beautiful red rose. Screams echo throughout the arcade. When I come out from my hiding place, I see that Kuro is impaled on the thorn of the statue. The blood oozes in great waves.
“Bakayarou,” I say to myself.
Death by a thorn.
I would like to say a big thank you to all our contributors for this issue—I had an absolute blast reading your submissions! You are all unbelieveably talented!
I hope everyone enjoys the issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
The Editorial Committee would like to thank Courtenay S. Gray for her hard work in putting this issue together. We appreciate all her efforts and personal literary contributions which have greatly enriched this edition. We would also like to thank our readers—we hope you will all agree that the fall issue is ‘fang-tastic’!
Stewart Ansel | MANAGING EDITOR
Tilly Jameson | COPY EDITOR