He lay on the bed, still, cold and stiff. Skin pale blue, lips purple, eyes open and unseeing. His arms hang off either side of the bed, palms out, skin ashen, fingernails long and cracking, yellowed. Golden hair lay about his head like a dead bride’s vail. His lips are parted, exposing a glint of white teeth.
A stained sheet covers him from navel down, leaving his bare chest for all to see. Other than his golden mane, he has no hair on his body, only scars, both old and new, some oozing blood, others crusted over.
Flies buzz and zig and zag about the room. Sometimes they take perch on any and all things that they can. Then they’re off again, buzzing and flitting about.
Few furnishings sit in the room; save the bed and a small table there is none. The floor is sticky with dried fluids that hide under picked clean bones,they litter the room in piles making it difficult to walk around without kicking one or two or five of them. Webs, spun in silver silk, drape the corners of walls and the cluttered bones throughout the room.
A sound appears; soft at first, but grows. A hum vibrates through the room. Bones shake, dance across the floor. They rattle as they click and clack against each other.
His eyes blink, lids closing and opening in rapid succession. Clear, now, he sees. He moves, rising as joints and muscles pop, creak, stretch and yawn. He edges his feet from the bed, pads touching icy wood, looks about the room. He should be horrified, yet he feels nothing. Nothing... nothing...
From under the bed where no light shines and spider webs dangle, the hum begins again. Soft; almost a coo from a child. A tongue, long and purple, flickers, a whip from a wide mouth edged with shards of teeth. It slithers between lips that aren’t there and nips one bare foot of the man. Slime, wet and sticky adheres to the his foot.
He nods, accepting what he is to do.
“Not long,” he says in a haggard voice. “Not long and you shall eat.”
He stands and the sheet drops to the floor revealing a mangled and mutilated body. He drags his feet through bones and cobwebs that plaster them until the door is at hand. It is opened and he is out of it, fading from sight and into nothing.
Eyes, once glazed and unseeing flow of the misty wind; along the foggy banks. They seek, find and stalk on silent wings pushed by the cold puffs of stale air.
A breath; soft, startles the pray. She turns her aging gray eyes. Teeth with no face comes from the fog; long, sharp... and hungry. A scream escapes... is cut down... ceases.
Blood, hot and rich fills his throat and stomach. He shakes in ecstasy, and pulls himself from the dead woman. Licking, flicking his tongue, he laps more blood, savoring the taste of fear permeating through it.
The journey home is short but tiresome. He enters the room dragging the woman’s body, cutting a path through bones and webs.
The soft humming begins again, increases. Bones rattle and dance once more. The body falls by the bed, a thud of dead weight among the hundreds of web-covered bones.
Picking up the sheet he lies back on the bed, pulls it up to his navel. His arms drop to his sides. His mouth and face are crimson stained. He blinks, lids shuttering in rapid succession. Laying there he sees nothing, feels nothing.
An impossible tongue flickers from beneath the bed, licking blood. It coils around the woman’s open throat and pulls her under the bed with several bumps and thumps. Spinning, twirling, the body rolls over and over, layers of silver silk cover it. There is slurping and grunting and belching.
The man, unseeing, stares at a ceiling a million miles away. He hears the feeding of the crimson monster. It will not want food for a time, but soon enough… He will awaken again. The crimson monster will seek, hunt and send him out to retrieve. For now, he hears the crimson spider, the crimson monster and he wishes for death that will never come for him...
Copyright: © 2009 AJ Brown
The sun rose and moved in onto the fairway as Paul awoke very thirsty and dizzy. He made his way to the kitchen for a glass of water and some Naproxen that helped him deal with the pain and fatigue of rheumatoid arthritis. For more than a year Paul had spent every available moment on the golf course. The rest of his life was spent but asleep and forgetting about his nasty divorce. He was not a very well read man and there was absolutely no possibility of him doing or saying anything brilliant or poetic. As a child he had zero interest in sports and was never picked for any teams in gym class, but when he hit fifty with high blood pressure and a beer gut the size of Buddha, his doctor insisted he become more physically active. Paul decided to take up the sport that required the least amount of physical exertion, golf.
Paul bounded upstairs to the bathroom. He thought about shaving and stood in front of his mirror for quite some time listening to the sound of the electric razor. It reminded him of the baby monitor he had brought for his son. The memories were more than he could bear so he shut the thing off and went into the shower where he scrubbed up with the ill-smelling soap he hated from the dollar store. Feeling the cool air from an open window Paul quickly rinsed and dried off before darting down the hall. He looked into Tommy's room for no reason. Tommy wasn't there. He had not been there in his nursery for twenty years. Paul wanted to go to bed. He wanted to go to bed so he could live inside his head but instead he found himself back in his own room, putting on his Bermuda shorts and t-shirt. A physical exhaustion haunted his body and seemed to reach into his soul.
The tops of trees were quivering with the new life of spring and the smell of incoming rain was in the air. There were patches of blue popping up here and there through the clouds as Paul left the house with golf bag slung over one shoulder, dragging footprints that darkened the moist grass of his front lawn. His skin was fair and his face, calm even though his wrinkles spoke of repression and deep sadness. There was no one to live life for; so Paul decided to live life for himself. Once he reached the golf course he felt alive again. Three distinct 18-hole layouts, enhanced by the surrounding mountains, lakes and tree-lined fairways gave him a sense of adrenaline. He could feel his pulse beating faster and faster as the coursing blood warmed and relaxed his aging body. He mumbled under his breath: "free, free, free!"
The golf course was all but empty so he didn't have to join any of those annoying groups they usually paired him up with. Today he could golf alone. He felt so invigorated that he decided not to use the golf cart, opting to walk around all eighteen holes. By the time he reached the thirteenth hole it had started to rain and he felt a sharp pain in his chest from lugging around the golf clubs, but Paul looked up at the illumination of the sky and spread his arms out to welcome the downpour. "Free! Body and soul free!" he kept saying. As Paul turned he caught a glimpse of a young man walking over the hill behind him. Paul had a sickening feeling like he was going to cry, that he was just going to lose it, when his eyes met those of the young man. Beautiful purple flowers emerged from the grass blanketing the golf course.
"They're called Bláthanna Corcora," the young man said. "They are found mostly in Ireland."
"God puts spirit in all things," the young man went on to say before he fell silent.
"Are you an angel?" Paul asked.
"No, I'm not an angel," the young man replied. "I'm a simple man whose father once told him he loved him very much."
"Tommy? Son! You were just but an infant when I told you that. How did you? Are we?
"Language remembers, dad. Out of obscurity, words take their place in history and leave an imprint."
The body of Paul Milford was found at the Van Cortlandt golf course on Sunday June 29th at 9:00 am, an apparent victim of a heart attack.
Copyright: © 2009 Theresa C. Newbill
Theresa C. Newbill is a is a self described free spirit and former elementary school teacher turned writer. Her work has been widely published in various print and online magazines and she has received numerous awards for her writing.
Valerie learned how to deal with angry penguins the hard way. One day, she had gone to the store for a few groceries as her husband, Doug, stayed at home.
He told her that he would take a shower and that upon her return, he would fix supper. She loved the idea. She was in the mood for his famous chicken casserole.
She had happily unloaded the plastic grocery bags from the store. She had merrily unlocked and opened the front door. But when she entered the house – she froze in utter horror.
There had been a terrible struggle. She heard the shower as it was still going. Steam steadily trickled from the hallway.
Valerie dropped the grocery store bags and called for her husband of two years. “Doug! Doug, are you okay?”
There was no answer. Her stomach sank. She feared the worst. She opened the bi-fold closet door and took out the most formidable weapon that she could find – an umbrella.
She shrugged it off and assumed that it was a squeaky floorboard. There were more pressing matters ahead.
She edged to the bathroom. The door was partially open. A thin stream of steam bellowed from the room and spread across the hallway ceiling.
She took a deep breath and summoned her courage. Then, without a second thought, she kicked the door open. From the bedroom, multiple squawks answered to the sound of the banging door. The squawks almost sounded...startled?
The shower stall was empty. Valerie feared the worst. She noticed something strange about the shower curtain. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something about it had changed somehow.
She gripped the umbrella tighter and continued to the bedroom. Again, the door was partially ajar. Again, she took a deep breath and summoned every shred of her nerves.
Then, just as she was about to kick it off its hinges, it opened. It opened rather slowly, which only added to her shock and utter bewilderment of what she was witnessing.
Doug had been tied to the bedpost. He had a corner of a washrag hanging from his stuffed mouth. Half a dozen penguins stood in a semi-circle around him. They all awkwardly held make-shift weapons between their flippers.
One held a toothbrush. Another held a disposable razor. The absurdity of it all nearly caused her to laugh when she saw the one holding a hair dryer. Its cord was tangled around the penguin’s feet.
“What’s going on here?” she demanded. She still wielded her umbrella in case they decided to attack.
One particularly large penguin, an emperor penguin, waddled closer to her. He squawked and then shook his head. Then he spoke nearly perfect English. “Sorry about that.” His voice was deep and profound. He cleared his tiny throat, “We are revolting! Meaning that we are striking against you and your husband!”
“What?” She was simultaneously amazed that the creature could speak and horrified that they penguins had the ingenuity and the gall to attack them in such a way.
“We are tired of all the hot showers every single day. We are penguins! How would you expect us to feel?”
“But you’re just artwork on a shower curtain!” she suddenly remembered the shower curtain. It had looked strange because it was nothing more than a picture of icebergs. All of the penguins were gone from it.
The penguins squawked angrily at her comment.
“Silence!” demanded the emperor. The penguins suddenly silenced.
“We demand restitution and an agreement that you will take no more hot showers.”
“But, how will we get clean?”
One tiny penguin had already had his fill with small talk. He jabbed the end of a comb into Doug’s forearm. He screamed a muffled scream. “Mmmph!”
“Why you little...” Valerie charged the little penguin. He turned around and saw the umbrella coming for him. His tiny eyes widened and a stream of liquid feces sprayed the carpet as she struck him on the side of his tiny head.
He fell to the side and squawked in pain. If his eyes had been affixed to the front of his head instead of the sides, they would’ve been crossed...
“Was that really necessary?” sighed the emperor.
“He stabbed my husband!”
“Yes, but it’s only a tiny little wound. It barely broke the skin. You nearly broke his neck!”
“This is ridiculous! What is it that you want?”
“Okay. First off, we demand that all the boiling hot showers cease immediately. Second, we would like an occasional fish fry. You owe it to us.. Third, please spray our curtain from time to time. Seriously, I could build a fort with all the soap scum.”
Valerie’s face reddened slightly. She was embarrassed about the soap scum remark. She lowered the umbrella. “You know, Doug. That is really not too much to ask.”
Doug’s eyes widened and he struggled against his restraints. He tried desperately to talk, but the washrag that was jammed into his mouth prevented him from doing so.
Valerie shook the penguin’s flipper to seal the deal and dropped the umbrella. The smaller penguins dropped their weapons and waddled back into the bathroom. Two of them collected their unconscious friend and carried him awkwardly with their flippers.
As Valerie untied Doug from the bedpost, she couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be before the roosters on the dishtowels struck their own revolution. Perhaps the chicken casserole would have to wait for another time.
Copyright: © 2009 Brian Barnett
He has been published by MicroHorror.com, Flashes in the Dark, Static Movement, The New Flesh Blogzine, Midnight Screaming Magazine, The Monsters Next Door, Sonar4 Ezine, Blood Moon Rising, Flashshot, Black Lantern Blogzine, Dark Fire Fiction, Burst Fiction, The Daily Tourniquet, Yellow Mama, The Lesser Flamingo, and The Short Humour Site.
He was co-editor the anthology “Toe Tags: 21 Spine-Tingling Tales from the Best New Authors of Horror” with William Pauley III.
If you take something that no-one else wants, something that has been thrown away, that would never be missed – that isn’t stealing.
You work as a Saturday girl in the children’s barbers. You sweep up the hair. You make coffee. Sometimes, you pick up a small ball of hair and put it into your pocket.
You like your job. You like to see the small boys, who are so excited and who feel so grown-up. You sympathise with the mothers and you trade silly jokes and secrets with the boys.
After work, you go to the old woman’s house, the woman with the dry skin, and the strange smell of musk and earth.
This old woman, who is obviously crazy, pays you for something dead and thrown away. Pays you £20 for a small ball of hair – there’s nothing wrong in that.
You notice that there are less and less children at the hairdressers each week.
If children are getting sick that’s a coincidence – right?
Anything else might tear you up. You feel confused, but there’s nothing really wrong with what you’d done.
You can’t sleep. Your friends are worried about you. You think, and think, and think – all the time.
You give the money you’ve saved to a children’s charity – it doesn’t help.
What can you do? Go to the police? Go to your parents and tell them what you’d been doing?
There is only one thing that you can do. On Saturday you bring that old woman the last ball of hair. Not taken from the floor of the hairdressers, but cut from your own head.
It’s only hair – right?
And then you wait.
Copyright: © 2009 Deborah Walker
She arranges her surroundings using her lithe body to create straight lines and perfect angles, it was the epitome of nature’s most perfect design. The sun disperses it’s golden rays along her silken threads and they were captured and returned as perfect luminescent jewels of nature. She fluidly traversed from corner to corner in eager preparation for the arrival of her next victim.
She detects quivers in the atmosphere, a signal that her victim is close. She sits motionless with bated breath, entangled in her own silken lair as he continues his oblivious approach. Hesitantly he places one foot into her domicile and her adrenaline surges with the anticipation of the tasty juices she will soon experience.
He collects his courage and creeps closer to her with a different motive in his male mind. He inches close enough for her to smell the slight musky odor being emitted from his masculine body and she begins to feel the wet sensation of her own dripping poisonous saliva.
She uses her thin appendages to expertly guide the obedient male to her and he does not protest, he is enraptured by the beauty of the glittering surroundings and her own graceful body. She uses her limbs to swiftly pull him down underneath her taut abdomen and she feels him tremble with sensual anticipation. As quick and precise as a viper, the shiny black mandibles emerge from her feminine opening and delivers a paralyzing bite to her meal.
He struggles a brief moment as the poison takes effect and his body heavily falls back into the patterned white silk. His body remains still but his eyes continue to roam back and forth in desperate terror of the unknown.
A long thin proboscis emerges from the black pearly mandibles and snakes its way around his body, probing for an easy point of entry. The salivating, hairy proboscis finds that entry through the victims gaping, frozen mouth. It expertly slides its way into his windpipe blocking the last of his vital breaths.
She drinks greedily from the victim using the proboscis as a giant straw and his once robust exterior quickly falls into itself in the absence of fluids. When her meal was complete the proboscis retracts back into her vagina and she closes her legs. She uses her white silk bed sheets to cocoon the remains of her John into his final adornment.
She reaches into his discarded trousers and pulls out his wallet, a decent amount of money and an adorable family portrait. It proudly displayed his beautiful wife and two children. These types of humans always deserved to die. She reaches over and called her pimp to dispose of the spent rubbish.
Copyright: © 2009 Stacy Bolli
Sumer’s aide appeared. He did not speak, but his presence was enough for Sumer to know it was time for Lanruid, the prayer ritual performed twice each moon cycle. He signalled to his aide to sound the horn. Sumer stepped down from his throne and retreated to the antechamber to prepare. He seated himself before a mirror, an object of use only to Sumer but revered by his people; they knew his visions came from within the looking glass after he had adorned himself with the sacred oils.
A quiet knock at a door on the far side of the chamber told Sumer it was time to begin. He checked his appearance in the mirror – a vanity he could not shake – and was startled to see not his wizened face but the face of Arual. She was not in the great hall hand-hewn by his flock over the past 300 moon cycles. She was in a smaller cave and looked fearful. Her beautiful face, with its pearlescent eyes, was contorted with effort, although Sumer could not see what she was doing – his vision showed only her face. Arual stopped suddenly; it was as though she could sense she was being watched. As soon as Sumer realised the girl had felt his gaze the vision disappeared, leaving the high mala stunned. He knew Arual was special, but telepathic? The knock at the door was repeated, this time more urgently. Sumer put his thoughts of Arual aside, opened the door and swept out into the hall.
‘Do not be afraid Aonegians, for you are good and true.’ He began his speech with the traditional opening, before deviating starkly. ‘Something has happened in the wilderness. Something has changed.’ An electric hum buzzed the room.
‘I must travel to the beyond and discover what thing is amiss. I will see no harm comes to you. Please, retire to your bedchambers and await my return.’
Sumer strode from the room, leaving the Aonegians flustered and afraid.
She felt the high mala’s presence before she saw him. The power of the blue pearl emboldened Arual as she turned to face Sumer.
‘My lord, it is pleasing to see you. Allow me to escort you back to my people. You have some explaining to do.’
Copyright: © 2009 Lily Mulholland
Corina’s skin is a circus tent. Her red-striped peppermint scars are a reminder of Christmas and family traditions. The obedient poodles of her childhood dreams jumped through hoops of fire until they became bald and grotesque. Poor dears, now, they no longer yap. They sometimes run across the sawdust floor of her silence and scratch to go out. Actually, all the animals and freaks want to go out, including the clowns, but even they are caged by costumes and makeup.
Corina wears feathers and pretends she can fly. She bites a dangling rope and spins like a ceiling fan. Alfredo, the tight-rope walker, is the only one who has ever gotten close to her, while she’s mid-air. Once, he touched her. He reached out his warm palm and caressed her leg. She slowed down and goose-bumps erupted on her surface, as if all the happy children inside of her released their balloons at once and applauded.
She smiled that day. A genuine, unrehearsed smile. And for a moment, she opened her eyes and gave him permission to see behind the scenes. He's been teetering on a thread ever since.
Copyright: © 2009 Paula Ray
Barry was listening to talk radio; some incessant rant about the end of the world, aliens and/or big foot sightings… hard to say, he was barely listening. It was the only thing on this early/this late on the lonely two-lane stretch of farm road; MO-23. The babble of the radio was only noise, so the poor clarity did not interfere with the irony of peace it brought him. Mile 13 was just ahead. Barry was doing his best not to let the anger boil him into action; a fight he waged nearly every night.
There is a swift curve at mile 13 that has the driving aroma of a sweet country cruise in the daylight, but at night it transforms into dead man’s curve, taking life and happiness from unsuspecting souls. Barry hasn’t seen the blissful daylight of this road in a long, long time. Every trip home, however, is a nightmare he cannot seem to avoid.
Barry is not a pessimist; not an angry man, but the sight of MO-23’s mile 13 makes him nearly scream. It’s the lingering death, the darkness that won’t leave him alone. “Why do idiots dress up this depressing site with flowers and memorial signs to the lost? Don’t they realize it’s worship to the tragedy? Greed from the grave? Can’t they see they’re inviting a deeply demented pool of bad karma?” Barry’s face begins to sweat with heat from his anger. The discomfort of his angst is about to take over; mile 19.
Barry Whitehead is a night watchman at Amtrak freight warehouses, Kansas City, Missouri. Having made this trip over the course of the last several years, he lost track after 20, Barry enjoys the peace of the ride up to this point. He wishes somehow the local authorities would see the danger of the road and take action to eliminate it. The stories of lost lives are extensive enough to warrant action, but due to inadequate funding or just lack of interest in the rural community the county has never even sought to bring change. MO-23 mile 13 induces the best campfire stories in the not too distant Ozark Mountain/Lake reserves. Stories of the horrible accidents and the ghosts that inhabit/haunt the nearby properties are abundant from the school age children to the adults. It’s a sick source of entertainment as far as Barry’s concerned. He has a mind to stop and have words with those that hold vigils along the roadside.
He’s not a violent man, but he swears he could just grab them by the neck and shake them ‘til they drop. “Don’t you know there’s no such thing as ghosts?” he wants to confront their superstitions. “You’re just making it worse! Reminding those, like me, who have to travel this route night after night after night with no escape from the torment!”
“There are no ghosts; there are no lost spirits or other worldly unrest,” Barry thinks inside his anger. Punching at the steering wheel he looks into his rearview mirror to see dim headlights slowly gaining on him from behind and is reminded of the local lore of a ghost that wanders, that drives this way in some sort of haunting mission. Legend says he died here, but rides in some oddly transfixed remorse. Barry is a firm non-believer, but whenever he is inside mile 20 and a car approaches him from behind, he cannot help but gasp a little inside his deepest fear. Tho’ reported by many, even in the local newspaper, he has never witnessed anything other than what appeared to be only another lonely motorist in a desolate place. Nothing even remotely suspicious or enchanting ever seems to develop.
Barry swerves into the fortunate, vacant oncoming lane to avoid a collision with the approaching vehicle. “Damn!” he shouts as the half-asleep driver cruises past him without even as much as a drift into reality. Barry is always on the alert for idiots… too many out these days. He’s praying this fool won’t become a mile 13 casualty right before his eyes tonight. Every time Barry gets a close call like this he promises openly and wholeheartedly that when he gets home he will write to his county/state representatives about this danger. Put currency on the issue and rid him of guilt he has at moments like this. If this driver ends up another casualty; if Barry has to endure another solemn roadside family vigil that already seem to fill his nights, he’ll simply go nuts.
Mile 13; on the approach… a family of mourners is staked out on the discordant property once again. The inattentive driver negotiates the curve with only a slight drift onto the daring slight shoulder. Still, Barry cannot take the behavior of mindless roadside watch and stops to let them know, once and for all. Recklessly pulling off the road, Barry jumps out in a swift anger.
“I cannot bear this any longer!” his shouting seems to have their immediate attention by the faces and eyes before him although nobody speaks. “I pass by here night after night and I cannot stand the darkness you bring to an otherwise uneventful ride home! I am angry! Angry that you are raising concerns for the dead in a manner that places you in danger of becoming yet another casualty and fireside story. If a car should careen your way on this already known trouble spot, what would you do? Do you have no sense? Do you?!” Barry looks into the blank, frightened stares of his audience.
Shaking his head in disbelief, he walks away from the small crowd. “You are adding to the tragedy of an already horrible situation. Please let me go; let me live in peace,” Barry said faintly, his voice distant; out of juice from his storm front entrance, waning in its ineffectiveness. “Please? I just wanna go home… I just wanna go home.”
Barry drove off towards home in complete silence, doubtful that he got through to them. Sure that his anger would return this dreadful feeling over and over again. Angry about it still; angry forever.
The morning paper printed “Ghost of Barry Whitehead Reported on MO-23; Mile 13, Again”.
Copyright: © 2009 Drake
Drake~ comes from the dark blood countryside of Carolina, the Southland. He grew up trying to love, but hate turned him bloody. It wasn't until December 2009 that he decided to sling his blood on you. He only writes to remind you that your fears are true and your horror is real. He has no other life.
She instinctively awoke in the cramped, moist darkness. The smell was intoxicating. Such a bountiful food source to go to waste, she lamented. Alas, it was her time to go.
She shed her cocoon and wriggled to a place with a softer potential exit. Her sisters followed close behind. Her host was finally aware of their presence. She could hear his muffled, panicked whimpers. He was on the move. Time was short.
She unfolded her mandibles and commenced burrowing. Her host’s cries grew more frantic. She could feel his fist pounding just outside the fleshy prison wall. He was trying to thwart her efforts. They all do, she was told by her instinct. Finally he stopped running, no doubt doubled over in pain.
She continued her efforts until finally, her mandibles met no resistance. Cool air rushed in and enveloped her and her sisters. Her host had grown silent. He lay lifelessly in a secluded alley. Perfect, she reveled. Seclusion was exactly what she needed.
She carefully removed all sets of her legs from the crude hole that she created. When she was out of him, her sisters followed suit. They spread their wings and took flight in separate directions. Freedom at last!
She scanned the cities’ streets. There were so many potential hosts bustling in the sidewalks. Then, finally, in the back lot of a restaurant! A perfect host was removing garbage from his business.
She swooped down and released her noxious gas, temporarily incapacitating him. She worried for her children’s children. They will have a tougher time finding hosts. There are fewer and fewer to go around with every hatching.
When she took flight, he woke, none the wiser. Just a dizzy spell, he assumed. He took a pill for his diabetes and brushed himself off. He does not realize that he is the host to her children. In mere weeks, the cycle will begin anew.
Copyright: © 2009 Brian Barnett
He has been published by MicroHorror.com, Flashes in the Dark, Static Movement, The New Flesh Blogzine, Midnight Screaming Magazine, The Monsters Next Door, Sonar4 Ezine, Blood Moon Rising, Flashshot, Black Lantern Blogzine, Dark Fire Fiction, Burst Fiction, The Daily Tourniquet, Yellow Mama, The Lesser Flamingo, and The Short Humour Site.
He was co-editor the anthology “Toe Tags: 21 Spine-Tingling Tales from the Best New Authors of Horror” with William Pauley III.
Fluttering Parasites - Originally published by MicroHorror - 6/19/09
He darted across the broken terrain, around purple trees flattened and aflame. He lurched gasping, dodging left and right, ducking the sonic pulses that delivered annihilation with a whistling caress. He ran until he collapsed in a hollow that shielded him from destruction.
A few minutes and they would be upon him. This is where it will happen, he thought. This is where he would make his last stand. There would be no escape.
The inhabitants of the planet Zornifera were scheduled for elimination five thousand years before the first Caldarian warships arrived. The lengthy preparations were offset by the swift termination of every living Zorn. Or so the Caldarian overlords thought. One defiant Zorn still scrabbled across the burnt planet, mocking the efficiency of Caldarian ruthlessness.
He was young. So young he had not yet reproduced. He crawled along the bottom of the hollow, digging into soft ground as yet unbaked by the fire of Caldarian weapons. The soil was dark and moist. Good, he thought. He could feel it happening already, the stirring within that would swell into a bursting profusion of life.
The peculiarities of Zorn reproduction horrified the Caldarians. They realized the danger of letting even one Zorn survive. One chaotic replicator could not be allowed to subvert their galactic imperative for beautifully sterile order.
He fell asleep, half buried in the nestling loam. It was normal. It was part of the process. He dreamed he was bipedal with bilateral symmetry. He stood before a room of other bipeds gathered around a table. He waved his two arms as he spoke, pacing back and forth on two spindly legs, gesturing at a large placard covered with graphics. He spoke of market penetration and volume sales and brand loyalty. But the others were skeptical and instead wanted to hear about market analysis and marginal costing. He skulked back to his cubicle and threw himself onto the couch. He grabbed a yellow pad and lay on his back, doodling and scribbling furiously.
And then it happened. From within the tumbleweed of pencil marks emerged something beautiful, something unseen and unplanned for, something that took his breath away in the grandeur of its simplicity. He could not help but admire his brain child. They could ask for all the analysis they wanted. Here was something breath-taking, something elegantly grand. Let them scoff at that. Exhausted, he fell asleep.
The dreamer on Zornifera awoke. He could hear the Caldarian soldiers rolling across the terrain, the contraction waves on the sole of each one’s single, muscular foot combining into a fuzzy whirring. They were coming for him, searching in a pattern designed to cover the most ground in the least possible time. The earth around him shook.
He thought the tremors in his limbs were sympathetic vibrations. But his shaking was out of synch with the machine-like whirring. He could feel the pressure inside him building.
It was time.
With his forelimb, he detached one of his arms and shredded the skin and shook the bones lose. He took each bone and planted it in the dirt, facing them away from him at a forty-five degree angle. He repeated this process until only his forelimb and vestigial clasper were left attached to the central hub that served as his body. The planted bones flared out around him in a beautiful radial pattern, like a huge flower with himself at the perfect center.
He folded his forelimb under the hub and began spinning, whirling in a wobbling gyration. He picked up speed, went faster until new arms began sprouting out of the sockets of the old. Around and around he spun, feeling disoriented and liking it. An electrostatic charge built up inside his hub, pulsing and throbbing, coursing through him like a drug. It overflowed onto the skin of the hub, surrounding it, engulfing it. He gave himself up to the spinning, to the sensation of rotating ecstasy.
A Caldarian soldier appeared at the lip of the hollow. He discharged his weapon, but the pulse glanced off the force field now protecting the hub. The Caldarian swiveled his antennae and signaled for help. Twenty more soldiers slid over and fired at the Zorn. This time, the pulse was absorbed by the hub. Twenty more soldiers came, adding to the firepower. The rotating hub took it all in, greedily, and spun faster. It rose off the ground, hovering, spinning, glowing with the collective energy of untold trillions of charged particles.
With a photonic burst, the hub screamed and unlocked its forelimb, which, rotating madly with the hub, threw out flashes of energy from its tip, disgorging the absorbed charge. Lightning flickered through the bone field, imbuing each planted fragment with nascent life. The charge surged out of the hollow, amplified a million-fold by the energy of the enemy weapons, vaporizing every Caldarian within reach, spreading out over the battlefield like a white wave.
On the mother ship parked above Zornifera, the Caldarian Commander watched what looked like a pimple of light spreading across the planet he had sought to subdue. It would take eight minutes, he calculated, for the wave to meet itself on the far side and in the process infect every bone fragment of every shattered Zorn body they had left rotting on the surface. When the edges did meet, he realized, the shock wave would move out into space, obliterating anything in its path.
The Commander gave the order. He wanted all the ships off the ground, as far away from Zornifera as they could get in eight minutes. There would be no escape, he knew. They could never outrun the particle field that would soon overtake them. He took cold comfort in knowing that the detonation of his armada would warn those on his home planet never to return.
He turned to his view screen and could not help but admire the tumbleweed of light that unfolded its fury across a reborn planet.
Copyright: © 2009 Robert Meade
“I’ve lost my shoe. Can you help me?” Dorothy asked the girl propped on a chair with a blood stained piece of white gauze wrapped around her eyes.
“I would but someone took my eyes.”
“Oh my! Why?”
“I don’t remember but I think I’d like them back.”
“Here,” Dorothy grasped the girl’s hand, “hold onto my arm.”
The girl wrapped a hand around Dorothy’s arm and got up. Dorothy looked down the hall. There was no end and no beginning. Doors lined the vastness on both sides as far as the eye could see.
“So, what’s your name?”
“Harmony,” the girl said.
“Oh, that’s beautiful. My name is Dorothy. Nice to meet you.”
The girl wore ballet slippers on her feet and made no sound as they started down the hall. Dorothy noticed how loud her one shoed foot was on the hardwood floor.
“This is quite uncomfortable,” Dorothy said leaning on the girl attempting to remove the red pump from her foot. “It won’t come off. I’m lopsided when I walk.”
“Maybe someone can take the foot off,” Harmony said.
Dorothy smiled. “Yes, of course. You’re a smart girl Harmony.”
Harmony’s hand was cold as Dorothy grasped it and intertwined their fingers like they were long forgotten friends. Click, click, click, went Dorothy’s one high heel on the floor as they followed a herd of five foot white rabbits.
“Do you hear babies crying?” Harmony said.
Dorothy listened intently looking left then right. “I do. It’s coming from that door.” She pointed and put her hand down, embarrassed, and led Harmony to the door.
“Oh goodness,” Dorothy said as she gazed upon a room of gigantic flowers with hairless baby heads, faces scrunched up and red, sticking up in the middle of each.
“They are flowers. Crying flowers.”
“Goodness, they’re loud. Can we pick one?”
“Is that what we are supposed to do?”
A white business card emerged from a baby’s mouth. Dorothy, with Harmony holding her arm, ventured closer. “It cried a business card.”
“Oh, what does it say?”
Dorothy reached out and took the card from the baby’s mouth.
“It says vote for me.”
Harmony bounced on her ballet-slippered feet and clapped her hands.
“Oooo, yay. I love to vote.”
“What are we voting for?” Dorothy said.
“The crying baby flower, I suppose.”
“Right, of course.”
“Where do we vote?” Harmony said.
Dorothy shrugged and sniffed the air. “Do you smell that?”
“Yes, it’s coming from that door.”
“Mmmm,” Dorothy said as she opened the door.
“I hear clinking and sizzling. I hear conversations and running water. Is it a restaurant?”
“I am hungry. Want to eat?”
“I guess…I don’t know if they let our kind in here,” Dorothy said.
The maitre de approached them. “Would you ladies like a table?”
Harmony turned her head and whispered in Dorothy’s ear. “He smells.”
Dorothy nodded and the tuxedoed werewolf showed them to a table by the window.
“So what can I get you two?” He took out his notepad and placed his reading glasses on the tip of his nose.
“I’ll have a diet coke and Kung Pao Chicken. Is it spicy?”
“If you want it to be.”
“Oh, I do. I do,” Dorothy said.
“Me too,” Harmony said.
Dorothy watched the Asian werewolf with the chef’s hat chop and toss meat and vegetables on a hot griddle.
“Do you think the bunnies know?” An abnormal smell slapped Dorothy in the face.
Harmony felt for the straw in her diet coke, found it and brought it to her lips.
“Yum, that’s good. What bunnies?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’m done,” Harmony said.
“Me too but we didn’t eat,” Dorothy said.
“That’s okay. Let’s go find your eyes.”
“I have my eyes,” Dorothy said.
The wolfey maitre de scowled at them and muttered something under his breath as they left the restaurant.
Band music assaulted their ears as they walked back into the hallway.
“It’s a parade,” Dorothy said.
“I hear wheels.”
“Yes, it’s little people riding tricycles and a band is following them. Oh and the bunnies are behind the band.”
Dorothy clapped and watched as they came closer. A three foot tall bald guy dressed all in red velvet walked in front of the ones on the trikes, holding a box in one hand and a baton in the other. He walked over to Dorothy and held the box out. “Ma’am your vote.”
“What are we voting for?” Dorothy asked.
“Whether we take your eyes, you won’t need them here.”
“Your eyes,” Harmony said.
Dorothy placed her voter card in the black box and the little man promptly whacked her on the side of her head with the baton.
“Owww,” Dorothy said and put her hand over the wounded area. Blood trickled down into her ear. She looked at her bloodied hand and said, “Why’d you do that?”
“Because you won, of course.”
Harmony bounced on her slippered feet. “Yay Dorothy won!”
Dorothy smiled. “What did I win?”
“What did she win?” Harmony said.
“Why, to have your eyes removed of course. Such an honor,” the little man smiled, his eyes gleamed with pride and excitement.
Two white rabbits flanked each side of Dorothy. “This way, this way,” they said as they escorted her to a door she hadn’t seen before.
“What about Harmony?” She looked back at Harmony. “I think I was looking for my other shoe.” Harmony smiled.
“No, you weren’t. You don’t need those eyes anyway, silly. You don’t really use them.” The little man said.
“I’ll be okay. You go. I’m so happy for you,” Harmony said pushing the gauze slipping down her face back over her hollow eye sockets.
“Me too,” Dorothy said and started to wave. Standing at the door jamb she quickly said, “Thanks for your help.” She was pulled inside and the door shut behind her.
Harmony sat in the chair she was in when she met Dorothy. “Now where did I leave my shoe?”
Copyright: © 2009 Suzie Bradshaw
Suzie Bradshaw loves speaking and writing about herself in the third person. She also doubts that light is really the fastest thing in the universe and in her next life she will prove Einstein wrong. But in this life all she wants to do is write. Is that a song? She's had stories published on Microhorror.com and SNMHorrormag.com. Suzie says thank you for reading!
Mark, the cleaning person, was going through his usual routine. He did a large library with a lot of bathrooms. First he would empty all the trash, and then take it out to a dumpster located inside a wooden enclosure in back of the building. One day, he was emptying several bags of trash. He opened the wooden door, and then lifted the plastic cover, preparing to throw the bags in. He heard a rustling inside. 'Oh well, must be a rat or something,' he thought, and tossed the bags in. Instead of a squeak, he heard a most peculiar growl. It made him pause, but he closed the wooden door, and re-entered the building to continue his work. A few hours later, he finished up. Setting the building alarm, he closed the back door, and headed for his car. He heard the growl again, only this time it ran up and down in volume and intensity. His hair stood on end. 'Whatever it is, I'm out of here,’ he thought to himself.
The following week, a news item appeared in the local paper, in the Metro section. It caught Mark's eye: "Dogs disappearing in the vicinity of City Library/City Hall drive." Reading into the article, Mark noticed that it was not only dogs, but cats and other small animals. Could it be? Naw.
Next Sunday rolled around: Mark's work shift cleaning the library. He waited until the clerks had all left for the day, and then entered the building. He glanced at the Dumpster, but it was silent. He shook his head, and entered the building. He clocked in, and then began his routine, doing the trash run. He finished that, and then approached the dumpster once again. He lifted the wooden bar, and opened the door. There sat the dumpster. He listened, and still did not hear anything. So he lifted the plastic cover, and threw in a bag of trash. Nothing. Another. Rustling. The last bag, here it goes! He threw it in, and heard the keening growl again. "Fuck you stupid animal!", Mark yelled. An even louder roaring noise, and the dumpster shook. "What in hell are you?" Mark was getting really concerned. More rustling and vibrations. He quickly closed the doors, and replaced the bar.
Later, Mark and his co-worker were taking a quick break. "I think there is something in the dumpster," said Mark, sipping his soda. Rick, his co-worker, stroked his chin. "Might be a Raccoon? Or squirrel? I don't know, maybe a rat.”
"No, this is bigger. This thing made a real loud growling or something. Say, since you are leaving soon anyway, go listen by the dumpster and see what you think it is."
"OK, whatever you say," Rick said in a voice that hinted, 'you scaredy-cat.'
Awhile later, Mark was finishing up his vacuuming. Rick had left, after doing his share of the downstairs. He remembered about Rick listening by the dumpster. As soon as he finished the vacuuming, he went to the back, opened the door. Rick's truck was still there. Odd - he wasn't in the building. So Mark looked over at the wooden cage containing the dumpster. The door was half-open. And he heard noises. Going cold, hardly believing what was happening, he crept over to the dumpster cage. Red liquid was pooling on the ground. He circled to face the doors. Rick's body was half-in the dumpster, still quivering, and spurting out blood. There was a thing, large, brown, biting and grinding his upper torso with several sets of teeth. For a moment, it ignored Mark, intent on its meal.
But only for a moment. Four, reddish-orange eyes flicked open, and focused on Mark, just as soon as he let out his involuntary scream. All Mark could do was whimper, "But why?"
Then the creature tossed Rick's body aside, and leapt out of the dumpster at Mark. It was about nine feet long, and burly. And very, very fast. Mark did not last long, but it was not due to any mercy, rather to the voracious appetite of something very ancient, and very irritable. Something freed by recent excavations in a building site at the edge of a fast-growing town. It had slept a thousand years before being aroused by the vibrations of earthmovers. Fearful at first, it had sought out a hiding place. Now it needed to eat - a lot, to make up for the long hibernation. The library began losing more patrons than books shortly thereafter.
Copyright: © 2009 Mike Wilson
"I highly recommend you put your body suit back on," the computer instructed Jorik.
"Don't antagonize me, Computer." Jorik shed the last piece of his vibro-kinetic energy suit, naked but for a pair of athletic shorts. He held his arms up and examined the glowing lines on them, spreading like the fibers on a circuit board across his entire body.
"Please, Jorik. Don't do this. You don't have to prove anything to me."
Jorik left his weapons behind and walked toward the elevator. The chamber filled with the light of his skin, and streamers of star-fire trailed behind him.
The computer's voice cracked. It seemed unable to hold back the emotion any longer. "Please, listen to me, Jorik. You are the last one. Don't go out there."
Jorik punched the keypad on the elevator console and waited for the pod to arrive.
"What's out there is evil," the computer pleaded, "not storybook-evil, but real evil."
Jorik sensed the computer's futility and knelt down beside the elevator door. Trying his best to console the computer, he recited:
The sun that purges all darkness,
And man saw this and knew that it was good,
And the light spread to him that he might become its defender."
The pod door opened and Jorik stepped inside, ignoring the computer's cries.
"Don't leave me here, Jorik. Don't leave me all alone."
The elevator door slammed shut, and the computer filled in the details of its final transmission.
"Last remaining survivor has succumbed to post-traumatic mania. Survivor has left the inner sanctum without a pressure suit, unarmed. All attempts to stop him have failed. Believes him self to be impervious to the zombie infestation. End transmission."
The lights flickered, and the computer went about its subroutine of shoring energy lines to save the ship's failing systems. It wished there was someone to talk to. It wished to be anywhere but here.
Copyright: © 2009 Mark Anthony Crittenden
“And steeples pierce the cloud on her shoulder And the streets that the fisherman combed When his long-legged flesh was a wind on fire And his loin was a hunting flame.” - Dylan Thomas
“I'm sorry, sir, we no longer carry those sorts of books. You should know better.” The officious young sales-clerk shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “In fact,” he continued sensing his advantage, “I could report you for even asking.” Beads of perspiration appeared on the forehead of the disheveled looking middle-aged man on the other side of the counter as the store employee continued. “They keep a national registry now of everyone whose, well, you know … whose tastes run in that direction.”
By now the other customers in the store had taken notice of the conversation. Camera phones were discretely recording the encounter. Embarrassed and more than a little concerned about how much attention he had attracted, Ashe, the man making the inquiry, buttoned his stained and tattered overcoat and left the bookshop.
Outside, a harsh November wind was blowing and it had just started to rain. Ashe turned and made his way three or four blocks north on Front Street. Before long, neon lights from the peep shows, strip joints and seedy bars that proliferated in the area reflected garishly off the wet pavement. More than once he had to rebuff the lurid offers made by the barkers and hustlers standing in dimly lit doorways trying to drum up trade.
Looking down at his hand he noticed that, somewhere along the way, he had acquired a flyer advertising one of the adult movie theaters he had passed. The paper was wet from the rain and crumpled from the pressure of his fist. As a result, its colors had begun to run and merge. The image it once bore of a large-breasted woman with moist, pouty lips had become hideously distorted. Ashe wasn’t sure how much more he could take. When the urge hit him like it had this evening, there was only one thing that brought him relief. Still, he had to be careful.
Head down and collar up against the chill, he turned off Front Street and found himself on McQuaid Avenue. The neighborhood was even more rundown. Both sides of the street were lined with disreputable looking hotels advertising hourly rates. Ashe remembered when many of those same places were luxury establishments catering to the rich and famous. Off to his left, old St. Mary’s Cathedral, once a magnificent structure, was now a hulking ruin. Ashe’s shoes, socks and pant legs were soaked; he had been splashed when a carload of teenagers drove purposely through a large puddle at the side of the road. “There you go, ‘Pops’. That’s the closest thing to a bath you've had in a month” they jeered as they went roaring by.
As he passed the mouth of Kleghorn Alley, Ashe felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see a wan looking young man of twenty-five or thirty-years-old with short, dark hair. Now, I’ve done it, he thought. It’s bad enough that I lost my composure at the bookshop but now I’m going to be mugged.
“Hey, mister,” the stranger said as he gripped Ashe’s elbow lightly, “I saw what happened back at the store. I can get you what you want.”
Ashe considered fleeing, but before he had a chance, the younger man made a series of arcane gestures with his right hand. Almost reflexively, Ashe followed suit. Without another word, the man with the black hair turned and started walking quickly down the Alley. In the throes of his compulsion, Ashe followed. Overhead he saw a network of rusted fire-escapes. The yellow light oozing from around curtained windows cast eerie shadows on soot-stained brick.
They walked in silence for five minutes or so. Just before they got to the end of Kleghorn where it debouched onto Wilson Boulevard, the man in the lead turned and descended a series of worn, concrete steps. He rapped three times on the frame of an ancient door inset with two large panes of leaded glass. The entire structure was covered by an iron grating. Ashe heard the sound of a bolt being withdrawn and a chain being unfastened. The door opened slightly and then closed again. Ashe heard the sound of another chain. The door reopened and the two men went quickly inside.
If Ashe had been surprised by meeting another individual in public who obviously shared his predilection, he was utterly shocked by what he now saw. In the first place, the man who admitted them was clearly the oldest person he had ever seen; he was stooped, with long grey hair and a grey beard stained yellow by nicotine. That someone like this had so long escaped the government roundups and subsequent “re-education” programs of the last ten years was nothing short of a miracle.
What really took Ashe’s breath away, however, were the books and magazines. There were shelves upon shelves of them piled high. Like a somnambulist, he lurched forward and began tracing the lettering on the cover of one and rubbing his hands lovingly over the spine of another.
“As you can see, sir,” his young guide said, “Mr. Rood has the finest selection of such volumes left in the city. Browse around as long as you like. Obviously, we have to insist on your complete discretion.”
Ashe had a thousand questions but he was too absorbed in the books to give voice to any of them. He picked up one particularly attractive volume and opened it at random. His breath caught in when he saw the illustration: a half-naked woman astride a strange beast with numerous heads and spiky, menacing horns. It was all there within the pages – adultery, incest, rape and perversion. Thumbing back to the front of the text, he came upon another image. This time he gazed at two nude figures – one male and one female – in a decidedly suggestive pose. The couple was surrounded by lush, exotic vegetation. Ashe’s palms were sweaty and his pulse was racing as he began to read: "In the beginning …"
Copyright: © 2009 James C. Clar
James C. Clar's work has been published in print as well as on the Internet. To date he has written over 200 stories in a variety of genres ... fantasy, science fiction, mainstream and noir. A few of those stories are even worth reading. Fewer still might even be worth remembering!