This story came about as a short assignment for a writing workshop I was taking at the time with the phenomenal novelist and editor Daniel Torday. I wanted to mix together elements of Southern Gothic, H. P. Lovecraft, and voodoo into a tasty stew of a tale with a twist. It owes a little to The Twilight Zone and Neil Gaiman, too. It was presented (and beautifully, I might add, by the mellifluously-voiced editor/host Johnny Compton) as part of the inaugural podcast of Parade of Phantoms which, sadly, is no longer with us (A copy of the original podcast is included at the end of this introduction).

An interesting note on this story: this piece was rejected by a prominent horror magazine (which will remain nameless) but the editor of said magazine was generous enough to offer detailed feedback to me via email while asking that I not resubmit the story to her publication, even with the edits she recommended. I took her advice and edited the story accordingly. Some time later in 2007 it was accepted for Parade and, to my great surprise and delight, was offered on that podcast–right beside a new story from the editor of a prominent horror magazine (who will remain nameless). I often wonder if she recognized my story and hope that she took some pride in the fact that she helped shape it into the work that appeared next to her own.

As a post script, the story’s original title was “Béba Daio and a Couple of Inches”. I never anticipated that the price Béba Daio would charge of “just a couple a inches” from our protagonist Clem Watkins would lead some readers to believe those inches might be taken from his . . . uh, how should I put this . . . nether regions. This makes the idea of his sacrifice infinitely more squirm-inducing than I’d originally intended. I guess it’s true that the imagination can create more vivid horrors than anything the writer can put on the page. It makes me think I should have left the original title untouched, a red herring akin to the one in Alfred Hitchcock’s “An Unlocked Window” episode. But I suppose it’s too late for that now so I’ll stop blathering on about it and let you enjoy “Béba Daio’s Prayers”.

UPDATE: As one of the new editors at Quantum Muse, I gave this story to them for their October “Horror” issue. Click on the link if you’d rather see it on that very well-run webzine. Below is the original audio podcast of Parade of Phantoms, where the story first appeared. Go ahead, pick your poison.

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