New Fiction! “Last Lullaby” in Crescendo of Darkness

by Emerian Rich

Music has the power to soothe the soul, drive people to obsession, and soundtrack evil plots. Is music the instigator of madness, or the key that unhinges the psychosis within? From guitar lessons in a graveyard and a baby allergic to music, to an infectious homicidal demo and melancholy tunes in a haunted lighthouse, Crescendo of Darkness will quench your thirst for horrifying audio fiction. is proud to present fourteen tales of murderous music, demonic performers, and cursed audiophiles.

Please enjoy an excerpt below from Crescendo of Darkness.

“Last Lullaby” by Emerian Rich

An opera diva is haunted by a dangerous secret which threatens to end her career and her life.


Sleep, love, it is not yet the dawn,

Angels guard thee, sweet love, til morn!

~”Berceuse de Jocelyn” by Benjamin Godard, 1888

 1893, London, England


Opera Diva, Claire Gravois, the famed French soprano will be performing her farewell concert at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Saturday evening…

Claire studied the newspaper photograph taken of her only a year before. Her strawberry blonde hair had been styled beautifully that day with it swept up into a cascade of curls falling over her shoulder. Although the photo was black and white, she remembered the vibrant color of the dress. It had come from the opera closet and she only wore it once for the publicity shot. Vibrant crimson with intricate beading across her bosom, the dress had brought out her green eyes, making them look ethereal in the grayscale photo.

A tear fell from her eye. She was haunted by her once vibrant skin, the confident smile, and the bright eyes of her still photo. It had been taken the night she was given the lead. A night she’d never forget, for not only had she received a standing ovation, it was also the night she had first seen HIM.

“Miss Gravois,” the stage director called, knocking on her dressing room door. “The newspaper man is here. Are you ready for him?”

She stashed the newspaper clipping under her jewelry box and took a deep breath.

Oui, send him in.” Claire’s gaze fell to her wrinkled hands and she pulled the long lace of her dressing gown sleeves over them. She was barely twenty, but her skin looked like that of a fifty-year-old woman. If she turned to look into the mirror to her right, she’d find her face just as aged, but she dared not. Not before meeting with the press.

She closed her eyes and remembered the vision of the girl from the photos. The girl who looked her age. The girl who had the confidence to become the most adored soprano in all the world.

A moment later the stage director opened the door. The newspaper man was rather tall for the doorway and reminded her of a marionette being handled by a child as he ducked into the room, clumsy limbs and all.

“Miss Gravois?” He held out a hand to shake, but she did not take it.

Oui.” She sat up straighter at her dressing table, back to the mirror.

“Or should I call you Mademoiselle?” He tipped his hat and took a seat opposite her.

“Miss Gravois is fine.”

“Thank you for agreeing to see me. I know you must be busy with rehearsals.”

If he only knew she hadn’t sung in two weeks for fear of using her voice. She just smiled as he stared at her curves. Men mesmerized by her beauty was nothing new. Even before her stardom, men couldn’t keep their gaze from her cascading hair, her bombshell form, and her shapely legs. When she was a chorus girl, they felt they could conquer her. As a famed diva, they were a little less willing to risk the price of putting their hands on her. Even in her aged state, they still stared with a hunger that sometimes scared her.

“You are just as beautiful as the rumors say.”


“They tell me you are retiring. The concert on Saturday will be your last performance before you retire?”


“Why would you retire now, when your career is going so well? When you still pack houses and fetch quite a fee for entry? You aren’t ill are you?” His gaze was finally locked on her eyes instead of her other assets. Did he see the wrinkles there she tried to hide with makeup?

“No.” She swallowed back the lie. “I am simply…quitting while I’m ahead, you might say.”

“Good.” Relief swept his face. “What do you plan to do after?”

A good question. What would she do when her life-long passion was no longer available to her? She swallowed back tears, praying he didn’t notice.

“I shall return to my family home in France.”

“Will you still be in the music field? Teach perhaps?”

“No.” One thing she was certain about. She’d have to give up music completely. To be around it would be too tempting. “I’m not sure what I shall do to occupy my time. Right now, I am concentrating on my farewell concert, not after.”

“Well, you’ll have time to decide then. I hope you’ll keep our readers informed if your plans change.”



To read the rest of this story and thirteen

other horror music shorts, check out:

 Crescendo of Darkness

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Edited by Jeremiah Donaldson

Cover by Carmen Masloski Press

 Let music unlock your fear within.