13DWF Day Twelve: "In the Fontainhas" by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

The twelfth tale of The 13 Days of Weird Flash is Jayaprakash Satyamurthy's "In the Fontainhas" from our "Spring '23" release.

13DWF Day Twelve: "In the Fontainhas" by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, author of "In the Fontainhas"

Welcome to the penultimate story in our 13 Days of Weird Flash. My, the time has certainly flown!

While we’ve had some fun times over the past week-plus, I wanted to draw your attention to someone who needs some our help. Nora B. Peevy has been contributing stories to Weird Fiction Quarterly since the very first Winter 22 volume and stepped up to serve as an editor and illustrator (while also still writing) when Russell Smeaton handed the project off to the unruly crew still bringing it to you today.

Unfortunately, Nora has had the kind of year that no one should experience outside the pages of a good horror novel, and is raising funds to cover some emergency medical expenses. She’s gotten off to a good start, but still needs some help and assistance to cover a big bill she’ll be receiving in the not-too-distant future. To read more about what Nora’s going through, please visit her GoFundMe page, and chip in if you can help a writer out.

After yesterday, my Dad Jokes and Quip Pile are still being replenished (though I’m still grateful I didn't wake up as Stilt-Man this morning), so let’s skip ahead to today’s author and weird tale.

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy is a poet, musician and writer who lives in Bangalore, India. He has been writing fiction in a more organised way since around 2005. His influences include M.R. James, Italo Calvino, Daphne Du Maurier, and Naiyer Masud.

Today, Jayaprakash brings us "In the Fontainhas" from the Spring ’23 volume. As always, stick around for the Q&A and for some details about an upcoming online event where Jayaprakash will be performing next Saturday (Dec. 16th).

In the Fontainhas

By Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

Early summer, that dazed week after Carnaval. Giant mermaids and outsized clowns deteriorated in alleyways, disintegrating into paper, paint, glitter, and amnesia. I walked through the quietened streets, looking like I knew where I was going.

Because I did. Up behind Immaculate Conception, past the cafés and pensions and homes of Fontainhas, over the wall of a broken old mansion crumbling by the pavement, to the old well. On the way there I looked away from cul-de-sacs where people removed innards from gigantic victims. Certain it was just locals dismantling their Carnaval floats, unwilling to submit my certainty to the test of empirical observation.

Here I was, by the old well. In the Perreira property. The one tied up in red tape and apathy ever since Anthony Perreira had cranked the little bucket up from the cool dark waters for the last time, looked into the bucket, clutched a hand to his side, and fallen over, never to rise again. Some of the Perreiras lived in Mumbai now. Some in Portugal, some in Botswana, some in Australia. Some owned ships. Some worked on them. Some never came within a mile of the ocean their whole lives. Others never ever ventured onto dry land. None agreed on the disposition of the old mansion in Panjim, so it stood wracked by time and neglect, confiding its interminable deathbed monologue to squirrels and rats and lizards and the dead earth below.

There was a story about Anthony Perreira's father, Michael. In his 70th year, his wife long buried, his daughters married, sons and sons-in-law placed in charge of his ships, he had found himself a feminine companion and installed her in a lodge in the grounds. A pleasant person, beautifully tactful, with a soft, gurgling voice. The Perreira daughters held council. Two sons and a son-in-law were dispatched to lay down the law. Michael pleaded, said he had walked the straight and narrow his whole life. Could he not be allowed some pleasure in his twilight years? The younger men were unrelenting. Michael asked to break the news to the woman himself. This was granted. Crestfallen, he slouched to the little lodge.

He did not turn up for breakfast the next morning. Finally, a servant was sent to the lodge. The front door hung ajar; the rooms were bare. No sign of Michael or his mistress. For a while the only sound was the creaking of the pulley of the well as the bucket turned in a light breeze. Then the family burst in on the scene raising a hue and a cry.

That was a long time ago. Today, all was quiet again except for the creaking of the pulley. As I walked through the overgrown compound, I heard slithering and squelching all around. I removed my clothes one by one. I peered over the rim of the well. Clinging to the rope, someone waited for me, familiar but unknown, smiling up at me. I smiled back and climbed into the dark well.

Q&A with Jayaprakash Satyamurthy 

WFQ: Why do you write weird fiction and when did you start?

JS: Weird fiction helped me through some of the most anxious, empty times of my life. It gave me a dark, but rich real to escape to. I started trying my hand at it as early as 1999, but only with any focus in 2005.

WFQ: Who are the literary inspirations for your contributions?

JS: At this point, it's hard to say. In 500 words, my own voice becomes most important. I do think W.H. Pugmire and Graham Greene taught me to weigh each word, and Clive Barker to go as dark as needed.

WFQ: What do you like most about the 500-word format we use? What do you find most challenging with it?

JS: Collapsing a gamut of elements into a sliver of a tale. But it's very hard to create a complex narrative that is also complete in some way.

WFQ:  If you were made editor for an issue, which theme would you choose to guide a whole WFQ installment?

JS: Stones.

WFQ: Where else can we read more of your work? Where can we find out more about you?

JS: My linktree has most of the things. I also have a Patreon where I am creating short stories and poetry.

If you enjoyed this tale and are free next Saturday, Jayaprakash will be performing at Neo-Decadence Saturnalia as part of an online event from 1 to 3pm. Details are available on Facebook.

And if you’re looking for an in-person event around Georgia, Can Wiggins will be featured at the Appleton Auditorium as part of their Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories event at 7pm on Monday, December 11th. (And if that’s too long to wait, you can always pass the time revisiting Can’s story from Day Three, “Far Behind”.)

Finally, for you Southern California readers, don’t forget to see Denise Dumars read her new original story "Čert" at the Anaheim Central Library at 5pm on Thursday, December 7th.

There are quite a few fun events from WFQ writers, but if you’re not free Saturday or around California or Georgia, you can always pick up a copy of Weird Fiction Quarterly at your (not so) local online bookstore.

Stick around for tomorrow and the final day of The 13 Days of Weird Flash.

Subscribe to Weird Fiction Quarterly

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.