Best Speculative Fiction in American Icon 4 Contest
Can you call yourself human if supernatural forces control your every breath, every emotion, every desire?
Posing as a folklore tour guide, Valya Svetlova takes a group of American college students and their professor, Chris Waller, to her summer home in the Russian village of Vishenky for a few nights of supernatural phenomena. She plays the perfect hostess. For Valya doesn’t want anyone to discover she harbors selfish motives when it comes to one participant, the only person who can refute a tale declaring her a stillborn resurrected by a paranormal entity.
Within hours of their arrival, Valya learns that the students foster some dangerous agendas of their own. Her nascent feelings toward the handsome professor inhibit her ability to control the supernatural manifestations and her inquisitive guests. When her unforeseen affection turns Chris into a target, Valya faces an excruciating reality. It’s no longer in her human power to ensure her guests’ safety. Yet to keep them alive, Valya must brush off her humanity and become the thing she fights so desperately to prove she is not—a soulless monster.