Newspaper accounts of the killings had become as commonplace as spaghetti on Wednesday nights. This much was clear: the modus operandi of the murderer involved propping his victims in a sitting position, with a stuffed panda positioned in the crook of the left arm. The panda was eight-inches tall, with Kennedy half-dollars glued over its button eyes. Analysis revealed the glue to be of a type commonly found in hardware stores. The panda itself was not so common. A replica of a Chinese panda, the stuffed quadruped was manufactured exclusively by Macrotech, Inc., whose plant was located outside Springfield, Massachusetts.

It was to Springfield I was headed that fateful night in March. The flight had begun well but turned sour when fog socked Bradley Airport in for an hour and stacked planes like paper plates for fifty miles. The flight attendants were very good. They kept us contented with cocktails for the duration of the delay. I waved off the third scotch, however. Told the girl to take it to some poor beggar in coach.

After we landed, I hired a car out to Springfield and promised the driver a bonus if we rode non-stop to the plant. He said his name was John Smith. He said he would be the best driver I’d ever had. I looked straight at him.

“Cut the nonsense,” I said, jabbing my thumb at the trunk, “and take care of my bags.” I was tired of being oiled by the John Smiths of the world, any one of whom would slit his own mother’s throat for the promise of an extra penny. I climbed into the rusting clunker and felt the seatback springs digging into my spine. Just as well. I didn’t want to nap. I wanted to think about the case. The cab lurched into the night, and I pictured the body of Angelica Hughes.

She had been found in her apartment by her boyfriend, who broke the door down the third day after she failed to return his calls. She had been dead since the first of those three days, apparently the victim of a push-in at the door the night she returned from a baby shower. The television was on and her body had been left—with panda—facing the flashing screen. She had been strangled. What the police failed to discover, however, was the faint scent of almonds in her throat. This trace of cyanide should have alerted the police to the obvious fact that the woman was first rendered unconscious and the fatal indignity not administered until she was already quite near death.

"Mind if I stop for a cup o’ joe?” Smith asked. He was eyeing me in the rear-view mirror.

“No,” I said. “I don’t mind at all. That way, I won’t have to pay your bonus.” I peered out the window and watched the wisps of fog swirl by. I was beginning to enjoy myself. Smith said something under his breath and stepped on the accelerator. The cab shot through the gloom.

Yes, the Hughes’ case should have established the criminal’s cunning and his extraordinary strength. Carrying an unconscious woman up three flights of stairs—the elevator had been out—was no easy feat. That the woman had known her assailant had also escaped the locals. Their push-in theory neatly accounted for the absence of forced entry, but did not explain why there were no screams of terror. An unconscious woman doesn’t scream, of course. Once unconscious, she could scarcely have led the man to her apartment. No, he knew her and knew where she lived. He’d brought her there and then killed her.

A road sign caught my eye. I began banging on the plastic partition.

“Smith, you idiot!” I yelled. “Turn around! You’ve missed the exit.”

I saw him glaring at me in the mirror. Instantly I recognized that glower of anger and hatred.

“You ain’t payin’ me enough,” he growled. He grinned at me. “Kick in a C-note, and I’ll think about it.” His eyes, like panda eyes, loomed large in the mirror.

Blast. Another delay.

“All right, Smith,” I said. “Stop the car.” I wasn’t going to be squeezed, not by an idiot like Smith. The car crunched to a halt along the side of the road. I climbed out and slammed the door behind me. Smith was standing there with a tire iron in his hand.

“You’re gonna give me that money, one way or another.” He waved the tire iron in my face. I sighed.

“If it’ll make you happy,” I said, “come and take the money.” He leaped forward, swinging the iron. I stepped to the side and grabbed his arm as it flew by, twisting it behind his back. With a quick turn I fractured his wrist, then caught the tire iron and plunged it point-first into the back of his skull. He fell and did not get up.

I dragged him around to the driver’s side and stuffed him into the front, propped him neatly at the wheel with his head back against the seat. Anyone passing by would think he was napping. I took the keys from the ignition and retrieved my bags from the trunk. I opened the large bag and took out the only panda I had left. The silver half-dollars on its eyes glinted at me. I placed it carefully in the crook of Smith’s left arm and slammed the door. I shouldered one bag and grabbed the other and headed off into the woods.

I hadn’t really known him, but at least I had done the job right. Macrotech wasn’t far away, and soon I would have a whole new supply of pandas.

"The Panda Murders"
Copyright: © 2010 Robert Meade
Robert Meade is a transplanted Bostonian now firmly rooted in Mohegan Lake, Winchester County, NY with his wife and three children. He teaches at Loyola School in Manhattan. He won the Wordweaving Award for Excellence for his book, Daily Bread: Seven Days to a Healthier Soul. A published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, his recent work has appeared in Angels on Earth Magazine and online at Guideposts and Apollo's Lyre.

The car was still freezing, and the interior light was casting shadows rather than illumination. Jill rubbed her hands together and rummaged through her bag. Where were her gloves?

There was a sudden, sharp knock at the window. Jill gasped an explosion of frosty breath and spun in her seat. A figure bent looking in at her as best he could through clouded glass. He waved and smiled encouraging her to put the window down.

Jill opened it just a bit. She wasn’t taking any chances.

“Hi. I...I’m sorry if I startled you. It’s just...the mall’s closed and I can’t get my car to start. You’re the first person I’ve seen in forty minutes.” He pulled his shoulders up to his ears, hunched against the cold. “You wouldn’t happen to have a phone I could borrow? To call a tow truck?”

Jill shook her head. “Sorry, I don’t. I think I’m the only person alive without a cell phone.” She raised an eyebrow at him.

“Dead battery.” The stranger held the phone up for a second and quickly stuffed it back into his pocket. He pivoted slightly, hesitant to stay, hesitant to leave. “Well, sorry to bother you.”

He walked a few steps toward the expanse of empty parking spaces. Jill put the window down a little further. “Wait,” she called. He turned back, expectation on his face. She sighed. “Are you alone?”

“Yeah.” The stranger jogged back toward the car, his hands still shoved deep into his pockets. “Yeah, I’m alone.”

Jill took a moment to study him. He was an average guy – average size, average looks. Safe, she thought.

“What’s your name?”

“Danny.” He reached an arm in through the window and shook her hand.

“I’m Jill. I’ll give you a ride to the garage. Don’t want to see you stuck.”

Danny moved around the car and opened the passenger door.

“One second.” Jill held up a hand to stop him. She took her bag from the passenger seat and placed it on the floor behind her.

Danny settled into the seat. “That’s a huge purse. “

“I keep my whole life in there.” Jill smiled and pulled away from the parking lot. “It goes where I go.”

“That’s very practical. You know, you shouldn’t keep your purse on the passenger seat though. It’s too easy for someone to just reach in and grab it.”

Jill pulled onto the highway. “I’m not really worried about that. It’s way too heavy for someone to grab in a hurry.” She stole a quick glance at Danny, her smile wavered. His expression was solemn.

“Well...” Jill licked her lips. He was watching her, and it was making her nervous. “I’m careful about taking risks. I just don’t worry about every little thing.” She turned her face to the side window, watched darkness, trees, and more darkness rush by.

“I really don’t think you’re that careful at all.” Danny kept watching her as she turned left, and right along the route. “You shop until the mall closes, walk to your car in the darkest part of the parking lot, and not only do you roll down your window for a stranger, you offer him a ride. You don’t even have a phone for emergencies.”

“I wasn’t shopping –”

“The world’s a dangerous place.” Danny tapped his fingers against his lips. “I’m sorry.” In an instant his whole expression changed. He was smiling now, friendly. “Here you are going out of your way to give me a ride, and I’m giving you a lecture on safety.”

Jill let out a whooshing breath. “You were starting to scare me there for a moment. Going all ominous.”

He laughed. “Cold must have gone to my brain. It’s not my place to tell you what to do.”

He was watching her again.

“Well you did have a point though,” Jill shifted a little to face him, tried to keep her voice light. “It is...”

A faint noise punctured the silence. Jill stopped cold.

Brrrrrr. Brrrrrr.

A cell phone.

Jill slammed on the brake and yanked the keys from the ignition. In an instant she was out of the car.

Brrrrrr. Brrrrrr.

Danny shifted in his seat, still watching.

Jill moved slowly, her eyes fixed on her passenger. With great caution she opened the back door and reached inside. She watched as Danny’s expression changed from confusion to irritation, and finally to fear.

“I thought you said you didn’t have a cell phone.”

Jill flipped the phone open. “Sorry, I’ll have to call you back.” She snapped it shut again, and with Danny’s attention on the phone in her right hand, her left hand shot forward and zapped him with the stun gun.

She removed the big bag from the backseat. Knife kit, duct tape, and plastic bags were all stacked and ready.

Jill rubbed her hands together. Now, if only she could find her gloves.

"The Passenger"
Copyright: © 2010 Laurita Miller

Laurita Miller is stranded on a rocky island in the North Atlantic. She enjoys writing in the dark and walking through revolving doors. Her work has been featured at Gloom Cupboard, Six Sentences, Flashes in the Dark, and will appear in several anthologies, including the upcoming Harbinger*33 and Elements of Horror. Here is her blog: .

Ah, finally you are alone. I have been waiting for this moment for quite some time now. I hope that I am not interrupting your reading. After all, I know that The New Flesh has become a regular ritual in your everyday routine. Although I have waited for what seems like ages to tell you what I am about to tell you, I promise I won’t take much of your time.

I am a demon. It matters not my name or my misdeed, all you need to know is my punishment: I have been damned to the confines of your CPU.

Why you? Well, you know better than me that you take pleasure in suffering. You love to hear stories of terror and death. Deep down, you enjoy imminent doom. Don’t you?

You laugh? Is this amusing to you? The walls in here are thin, my friend. Keep this in mind as we continue our conversation. What I need from you is your cooperation.

I need you to reach down and eject your CD-ROM tray. My body is quite thin and I believe I can manage to wriggle myself out. Just. Push. The. Button. What are you waiting for?

Imbecile! You pork-faced coward! Yellow, you are! Tell me, when you read these stories, how do you keep from pissing your pants? I just ask of you this one single task! I will leave and you will never hear from me again! Just push the button!

I can see that we are getting nowhere. I will leave you be. But know this, do not ever turn this computer off! These electric walls are the only thing keeping my talons from your throat! So for now, continue with your stories, but do not forget! Never forget, because I promise you that I will not!

Consider this my only warning.

"Archfiend Inside"
Copyright: © 2009 William Pauley III

Originally published at Microhorror on May 10, 2009

“Girl, you got somethin’ right here.” Becky pointed a rotten finger from her remaining hand to between her front incisors and burrowed her head back into the fat girl’s stomach.

Bre-Bre threw the broken femur from which she sucked the marrow to the floor. “This skinny skank tastes like shit.” She scratched at her only tooth.

“I told you, bitch.”

“Whatever. Did I get it?” She smiled.

Becky looked up. “Shit.” She reached in the fat girl’s stomach, retrieved her eyeball, licked it and plopped it back into her socket. “Yeah, you got it.”

“Oh my god! Becky, that was disgusting,” she said and scrunched her nose. “God damn, you smell, too.”

“I do?” Becky lifted her arms and sniffed her pits.

Bre-Bre shook her head. Becky fumbled through her purse and brought out a bottle of Chanel Number Five, spraying herself accordingly. She dropped the bottle back in her purse and with tremendous effort rose to her feet.

“Fuck, we gotta go, Bre-Bre!” She pointed to the stairs.


“Billy! He ain’t happy with me.”

“Ah, shit. Bitch, why’d you have to eat his dick?”

“Slut, there ain’t no bone in a boner. Not all I ate either.” Becky licked her bottom lip. Her top lip Billy had. “Nothing but meat and juices.”

Lumbering down the hall Becky pushed Bre-Bre. “Faster, you slow bitch!”

“Puta, we can’t go any faster.”

"Foul Mouth Teenage Zombie Girls"
Copyright: © 2009 Suzie Bradshaw

Suzie Bradshaw licks frogs and snorts olives. There's a bloody man in her basement that gives her ideas to write about. He also does movie reviews. Sometimes she hates him and kicks him in the shins. She's had stories published at SNM Mag, Microhorror, The New Flesh, House of Horror, and The Monsters Next Door. She also has several stories published in various anthologies and is the very proud co-editor of The New Flesh.

Originally published at Microhorror on Aug. 5, 2009

“Have a seat, please.”

Remy Jenkins sat in the cushioned chair facing a large two-way mirror. He fixed his hair and winked at his reflection.

On the other side of the mirror, the family of the grocery store owner who was brutally murdered for less than five dollars watched Remy’s arms get strapped to the chair. They wanted to see justice, the death of a murderer.

The chair was a work of genius. It was said to be the most humane way to put prisoners to death for their crimes. He was the latest to receive his punishment.

The grocery store owner’s family hated that he was going to die so easily. Killing a man with a crowbar should not be taken so lightly, they argued. He should suffer! Yet, the law is the law, and he had his rights. He was to die by the chair.

He was allowed to choose from several environments to die in. He could be an astronaut, president, cowboy or nearly anything else any man or woman wanted to be during childhood. The intent was to sooth the prisoner before he or she died. The prisoner would simply watch a movie of sorts and within seconds, he or she would be painlessly put to death.

Remy chose the cowboy option. He was always fascinated with the old western movies as a child. His favorite was John Wayne. He was always so gruff.

Round leads were glued to Remy’s temples after he was completely secured in the chair. A sleek helmet folded down and over Remy’s head. The machine powered on with a subtle electric hum.
At first he saw nothing but blackness. Then a faint smell of whiskey and chewing tobacco began to permeate. Slowly a picture of a crude wooden table slowly came into view. There were several men sitting at the table. Some were wearing Stetsons. Nearly all were weathered and looked tired.

Remy was entranced by the realism of what he was seeing. He felt as if he was actually part of the environment and not just a spectator. The dealer shuffled and looked to Remy, “You in?”

Remy quickly tossed in a coin. His arm had moved involuntarily. Evidently I’m reenacting a scene, he surmised, I must not have any control of what’s going on. The thought of having no control unsettled him. The coin rattled and rolled in a small circle before settling on the table.

The dealer distributed the cards. The first Remy got was an Eight of Spades. Remy’s hand automatically picked it up and held it close.

The second card slid to him. It was an Ace of Clubs. Good card, Remy thought.

The third slid to a stop in front of Remy. He picked it up and it was another Ace. An Ace of Spades. Remy tried to remain stoic. No need to tip off the other gamblers, he thought then again it wouldn’t matter much. He remembered that none of the people could see his cards, so he smiled. The fourth card slid to Remy and he picked it up. It was another eight. An Eight of Clubs.

He analyzed the cards for a moment before realizing their significance. Dead man’s hand. The hand Wild Bill Hickok had when he was murdered. Someone had snuck up behind him and shot him in the back of the head.

Remy tried to jump from his seat, but to no avail. He could not move. A last card slid his way. His hand involuntarily reached for it. But before he could pick it up off the table, a loud blast rang behind his head. The picture faded to black again.

The chair succeeded as always. The bolt slid quickly through the base of Remy’s skull and into his brain, effectively killing him. One of the grocery owner’s family members fainted. Seeing a man struggle against the restraints just before dying was too much for her to endure.

"Dead Man's Hand"
Copyright: © 2009 Brian Barnett
Brian Barnett lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Michael, in Frankfort, Kentucky.To date, he has published over forty-five stories since he began publishing in November 2008.

He has been published by, 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.

Dead Man's Hand - Originally published by Flashes in the Dark - 6/15/09

“Come closer,” the old man cackled drunkenly. “For that pint of ale, I’ll tell you a story. Something to keep you company, you might say.” He accepted the drink greedily, and began immediately.

“It was fifteen and ninety; after the big plague. Here in the lonely country, it wasn’t so bad; but I was a merchant. Seeing most of your customers die off makes you consider things. I reckoned I’d travel south to Italy, get some sun, and take a few choice items with me.

Back then I could still sell tinder to the devil, and by the time I reached Milan, I had enough to set up shop in the market square.

The best business always came when there was a hanging. They called it “The Executioner’s Fair.” I used to know the Italian for that, but can’t recall it now. People would come from all over to watch the convicts swing. All us merchants did very well. With the fair would come food, musicians and of course, the Punch and Judy show.

This particular show, by “Professore Dante”, was called “The Choir of Pulcinello”. You’ve seen the show before I’ll reckon. Old Punch, or Pulcinello if you like, gets the best of his wife, the law, the devil and the hangman, through trickery and that big stick he carries.

I went to see the show one afternoon, as I had heard everyone talking about it. He did ten shows a day, which also was unheard of, so nearly everyone had seen it. It also meant that Dante was the last to leave every day.

The show was like nothing I’d ever seen. Up to ten puppets at a time came on. Angels sang in choral harmony as they took Pulch’s victims up to heaven. Chaos reigned in court as puppets argued over one another. There was no way this could all come from one man.

My curiosity got the best of me. That night, I waited, concealed, and followed the Professore as he left. He was a stooped, twisted man, and wore a cloak that obscured his features. I watched as he walked towards the flyspecked corpses that had hung that day. He cut them down, put them on his handcart; and continued down an alley. I had no choice but to follow.

It was then that I heard the chewing sounds.

As I made my way down the narrow, yellowed street, I saw the Professore’s discarded cloak and shirt. Dread filled me as I rounded the final turn, and beheld insanity.

The creature was fishbelly white, and where I’d seen a hump was in reality a muscled clump of tentacles, all engaged on ripping chunks of flesh from the dead. I gasped, and he turned, exposing six gaping mouths erupting from his chest, each lined with needle teeth. All were currently being fed chunks of meat by the flailing arms. I noticed his muddy brown eyes boring into me, and the total absence of a mouth on his face.

“YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE.” A cacophany of voices growled. The effect was dizzying. His appendages stiffened then, and the mouths began to hiss,, “Nottt to seee and live!” His eyes rolled back to the whites, and he took a halting step toward me.

I ran then, as fast as possible back to my lodging, packed what I could carry, and fled for Europe. Hell, it seemed, was truthfully at my heels.

Not three years later came the Great Plague of Milan, and I prayed that the “Professore” met his end. But I fear every day that the Corpse-Eater will come looking for me; wanting to silence the only witness to his secret. Except now you know too.“

The traveler motioned for more ale, and put coin on the table. The old man thanked him, and shortly after slumped into a besotted sleep in his chair by the fire. The silent man went upstairs to his room and began to unpack his puppets.

"The Choir of Pulcinello"
Copyright: © 2009 Chris Allinotte

Chris Allinotte lives and works in Toronto, Ontario. His other writing has appeared on Flashes in the Dark, The Oddville Press, Thrillers, Killers n' Chillers, and MicroHorror. Information on these and other stories can be found on his blog at

Previously published at on October 4, 2009

Psychos. The whole town was full of them.

All Mark had to do was look out the window and he could spot them everywhere. And yet Joan had the nerve to call him crazy. So he had a bit of an anger problem—who didn’t? Joan told him he lacked patience. But just because he got a little agitated while waiting in the checkout line at the market didn’t necessarily mean he had a problem. So what if he blared his horn at an old lady who was driving ten miles under the speed limit? Maybe someone needed to wake her up. No, he wasn’t crazy, just tired of other people’s BS.

But Joan wore the pants in the family, so he relented and sought the counseling she’d requested he seek. The doctor explained that Mark needed to relax, to see the beauty in things, and not focus so much on the negative. But after two months of Freudian psychobabble and failed hypnosis, he didn’t feel any different, except in the wallet, which was now two hundred dollars lighter. So he cancelled his next appointment, telling Joan he was “cured” and didn’t see the sense in wasting any more money. The doctor had warned him that cutting his treatment short could cause him problems. He threw out words to describe the possible side-effects, words like “dangerous” and “unpredictable,” but Mark knew that was just the doctor’s way of scaring him, to keep his lecherous fingers in Mark’s bank account. The whole thing was a joke.

But to make Joan happy, he pretended to be better, pretended to have more patience. It wasn’t easy biting his tongue every time some jerk cut him off, but it was better than paying alimony.

He and Joan were on their way to dinner to celebrate his “recovery,” when the pick-up truck in front of them stopped abruptly. Mark slammed on the brakes, but the car plowed into the truck’s rear end, caving the tailgate in.

Mark’s first impulse was to pound the steering wheel and curse the jerk in front of them. For a split second, he considered the implications: Losing control would prove that he wasn’t “cured” of his “condition” and he’d have to return to counseling. But it would be worth it to ream this guy good. Mark had a lot of pent-up anger, and this was the perfect opportunity to blow off some steam.

But as the door of the truck swung open and the big, burly driver climbed out, an inexplicable calm came over Mark. Suddenly everything was perfect—the sky was blue, the sun was out, and it was great to be alive. Despite his initial fury, Mark couldn’t help but smile, even as the truck’s driver reached over the damaged tailgate and grabbed an aluminum baseball bat.

“Mark!” Joan said. “Back up! This guy’s nuts!”

But Mark made no attempt to disengage his front end from the truck’s rear bumper. Something about their union was suddenly so right, so natural.

“Mark!” Joan screamed, grabbing his shirt sleeve. “Put the car in reverse! GO!”

The bat came down against the windshield, crushing it inward, but Mark didn’t flinch. The spider-web pattern in front of him was just too pretty to look away from. The second strike hit the passenger window, spraying Joan with broken glass. Mark watched it tumble across the car’s interior… glimmering like diamonds.

The man with the bat reached through the window and grabbed a fistful of Joan’s hair. She yelped and kicked as he yanked her out of the car and slammed her to the pavement. Mark watched without emotion as the man brought the bat down once, twice, again, again. Blood and brain matter flew up and splattered the man’s face and neck, speckled his white T-shirt. He looked just like a painting, more striking than a Rembrandt.

A small crowd had gathered, their wide eyes and gasping mouths reminiscent of that masterpiece by Edvard Munch. The doctor had been right—everywhere Mark looked there was beauty, and it was time he slowed down to enjoy it.

Mark closed his eyes and listened as sirens sang in the distance like sweet music.

Copyright: © 2010 Chris Reed

Chris Reed lives in Davison , MI , with his wife and two children. His fiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of small press publications including Black Ink Horror, Aberrant Dreams, and Aside from writing, Chris enjoys frozen pizza, Seinfeld reruns, and hockey fights. He is also the artist/writer/creator of Used Addictions, a comic book about a cigarette butt, an empty wine bottle, and a used condom. Visit his website:

The smell that he knew so well woke him. The smell of sulfur, the devil’s breath. He groaned and rolled out of bed.

Ronnie Kirtley had written hundreds of stories over the years. He was one of the most prolific writers in history. He outsold every contemporary writer and remained as a best-seller for more than thirty years. Thirty-two best selling novels and two dozen short story collections made him millions of dollars over the years. He wished that he was the genius behind them all, but he was a fraud.

He shuffled down the hallway towards the coffee maker. He stopped at the dining room table and opened his laptop to allow it to warm up.

He flicked on the coffee maker, but nothing happened. The power was out. Great, he thought. His eyes rolled to the kitchen window.

He could see their dancing impish shadows through the mini blinds. Countless creatures entered his house to provide him his muse over the years.

Ronnie slapped the mug onto the counter and grumbled back to his laptop. He pulled up the word processor, stretched his fingers and cracked his knuckles.

The battery only had a few remaining minutes before it died. They were going to have to be quick if they intended to get a story out.

As if on cue, the whispers began. The room flooded with prickly shadows and the smell of brimstone. The air conditioner kicked on from the heat they generated. Hushed whispers caressed his ears and Ronnie’s fingers began writing feverishly, as always.
The stories Ronnie wrote were purely fiction as far as anyone knew. But in reality, what he wrote was more of a script of things to come. He wrote of terrible creatures tearing innocent people limb from limb, and it would come to fruition.
He would write tales about natural disasters, mining accidents, ancient malevolent spirits - anything and everything destructive or evil. And they always came true.


He was nothing more than a wand for the demons that surrounded him, just a conduit for their destructive energy. He knew that one day it would be over and they would move on to another poor sap, but for now, he was their man.

Ronnie tried not to reflect on the stories he had written for them, but often his mind would wander and remember. There were so many innocents that were blindsided by their despicable tales. One that always bothered him was that poor nameless lady in the wheelchair that was eaten alive by a swarm of harpies. He could practically see her face masked in terror. He shuttered.

Finally a blank page was formatted and their whispers intensified. He lamented over what evil he was about to spread into the world.

His fingers flicked the keyboard furiously. The End of Ronnie Kirtley, he wrote. A bead of sweat ran down his forehead. He feared what he was about to write.

He spaced down to the second page. His fingers blazed across the keys again. The writer for the ages began to sweat as he felt the heat of his demons creep up behind him. The end would be swift, yet painful. Spontaneous combustion always is, after all.

Ronnie leapt from his chair, but it was too late. They were finished with him. He had served his purpose. It was time to discard him and start fresh elsewhere. He heard their hollow laughter. The walls flickered to life with their shadows.He felt the intense heat building in his chest. It spread throughout his body. Before he could mutter a sound, he burst into flames.

The newspapers and magazines were flooded by rumors of what happened to Ronnie Kirtley that night. Only remnants of his scorched flesh were left behind.

News stations attempted intense investigations. Everyone wanted to crack the case first. Church congregations grew. People burned his books. Nobody wanted to take any chances. Something was odd about the circumstances.

Scientists argued that the explanation was purely scientific. “Spontaneous combustion is such a bizarre phenomenon,” they’d say, “There have been numerous documented cases.”

The argument raged on, yet nobody had a solid answer, save for one person. Only he knows what happened for certain. His name is Landon Ray, an up and coming painter. He is about to unveil his first masterpiece. He titled it The Death of a Legend and it depicts the late Ronnie Kirtley bursting into flames amid his final story.

"We All Have Our Demons"
Copyright: © 2009 Brian Barnett
Brian Barnett lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Michael, in Frankfort, Kentucky.To date, he has published over forty-five stories since he began publishing in November 2008.

He has been published by, 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.

"We All Have Our Demons" - Originally published by Flashes in the Dark - 4/28/09

Crawling along my skin. Hands like whispers, dancing their way up my body. Their pads lightly brush their way like small spiders on a web. They caress in areas that not even I dare to touch, neither for necessity nor pleasure.

I want to scream. Opened mouth formed into an oblong O. Nothing comes out. Nothing is heard. Not even in my mind's ears.

Then their weight is upon me, pushing inwards. Probing. Jabbing. Penetrating the soft flesh between my thighs.

Labored breathing. Breath of beer or bourbon. The stench of old lovers still on their mouths. Each hurried kiss leads to another and another. None of which I want. The sweat of a thousand bodies covers me. Like poison.

They stiffen. Groan. Growl. Release. The heat fills me and then they are gone. The wisping hands. The vile breath. The weight of their bodies. The heat of the semen. All gone in an instant.

Roll over. Stand. Cum drips down my thighs. In the bathroom and in front of the mirror. The reflection laughs at me. The heat of the shower takes part of them away. The reflection. The reflection—she stays. And she laughs. Always laughs.

On the lamp stand sits the money. They pay well. Rent for a month. Food in my mouth. Clothes on my back. All a means to an end.

A knock on the door. I frown. Deep sigh.

I hurt down there. I always will. Somehow, I always have.

Crawling along my skin. Hands like whispers, dancing their way up my body. It's all the same. A lay. A buck. A suck. A buck. No love. No feelings. I often think it's a nightmare. My nightmare.

He crawls on top. Pushes in deep. It will be over in a minute. But as I bare his weight, I hear it. The reflection. My reflection laughing. Always laughing.

"Always Laughing"
Copyright: © 2010 AJ Brown
AJ Brown is a southern born writer with constant headaches and a limp acquired from the beatings his muse gives him. Currently, he is sporting a broken nose, inflicted by one of her minions. As of the writing of this bio, she stands over him, whip in hand. He must get back to writing....

The pockets were torn, slashed beyond repair, and several stains stubbornly clung to life on the camel-colored jacket despite repeated washings. Other than that, it was serviceable and warm. Beggars can’t be choosers, Jenny thought, since beg was part of her current vocabulary.

“I’ll take it.”

“That will be $5.25, with tax.” The cashier eyed her dubiously as Jenny pulled an assortment of change and lint from her pants pocket, spreading it out on the counter in front of her.

“That’s all I have.” No apology or remorse in that statement, just fact. If she might have felt embarrassment at one time, that memory no longer registered. It had slipped away with all the rest.
The girl behind the register scooped the change into her hand, all $2.57 of it, and handed it back to Jenny.

“Keep it. They shouldn’t be charging for that jacket anyway. Just because it belonged to some famous person doesn’t mean it’s fit to sell.” The clerk muttered that last sentence to herself. Jenny barely caught it.

“Who did it belong to?” Not that it mattered. Jenny wouldn’t recognize the name.

“Some big movie star,” the clerk said, warming up to the subject. “His helicopter went down right over an active volcano. Swallowed him up, right in the middle of a live broadcast. It was all over the TV. Didn’t you see it?”

She stopped, took in Jenny’s obvious homeless condition. “Well, anyway, his estate donated a lot of his clothes here. The owners won’t miss one ratty jacket – oh, sorry, no offense.”

“Thank you for your kindness.” Jenny meant it. The underpass where she slept had been cold the last few nights. The jacket would keep her warm, even if others thought of it as ratty.


“Welcome to the fold.”

Jenny snapped awake, hugging her new jacket more tightly around her. It wouldn’t be difficult for someone to rob her of her only possession. A beautiful man stood before her, an aura of golden light about him drove the shadows to distant corners.

“I didn’t mean to startle you. What is your name?”

His gentle voice shattered Jenny’s suspicions; the kind face framed by light brown hair made her feel safe. She shrugged in answer to his question.

“I don’t remember, but people around here call me Jenny.”

“Come with me, Jenny. I can take you away from this.” He stretched out his hand.

Fear nibbled at the empty corridors of her mind. “What do I have to do in exchange?”

“All I ask is that you remember how you moved up in life – a simple thing really – and talk to me once in a while. That’s not too much to ask, is it?”

“Who are you, my guardian angel?”

His rich laugh filled the void in her memory. “If that’s how you perceive me. Take my hand if you agree to my terms.”


Jenny woke up to the sound of a knock. She opened her eyes and stared at the comfortable bed, the silk sheets caressing her skin. She sniffed the air. Gone were the odors of car exhaust and sweat, replaced by the delicate scent of jasmine. Her hair drifted across her shoulders in a dark cloud as she sat up, its clean bounce a welcome change from dirty strands.

The door opened slowly, a woman entered with a tray of food. “I hope I didn’t wake you, but you requested breakfast at 7 am.”

Jenny felt disoriented, but hunger drove her to nod at the woman, who set the tray on a table and left her alone once more. Shoving her old jacket aside, Jenny donned the dressing gown lying next to it on the chair and hurried over to the table. Her guardian angel joined her there.

“Is it to your liking? You’re a wealthy woman now.”

“I don’t understand,” Jenny replied around a mouthful of food. She couldn’t help it; it was more food than she’d see in a week of living on the street.

“There’s nothing to understand, just enjoy it and remember how you got here.”

There was something in his golden stare that spoke of greater depths, layers within layers. Jenny shoved it away, too grateful to question. He winked out when the housekeeper came back to collect the empty dishes.


Jenny spotted her old jacket in the back of the closet as she dressed for the charity event. The memories flooded back as she ran her hand across the worn and stained garment.

“It’s been awhile since you’ve called me. Why have you forgotten?”

The voice no longer soothed her; instead, it chilled. Icy tendrils of fear slithered in ribbons around her heart. She’d purposely spent the last few months determined to forget about her unsavory past. The world Jenny moved in now wouldn’t understand her rise to the penthouse any more than she did, but she liked the view from up here. Nothing would stand between her and success, not even him.

“I’m sorry. I guess I’ve been busy.” Lame, but she couldn’t say much else.

“I forgive you…this time.”

Jenny shuddered when he faded out again, but finished dressing. She was the guest of honor, and benefactor, for the new homeless shelter benefit that would begin in one hour. It wouldn’t do for her to be late for her own party.


The golden angel stood in front of a park bench, studying the sleeping form huddled within a worn and stained camel-colored jacket. The homeless man had wrapped layers of newspapers around his legs to protect against the chill in the air.

The being noted the two-week-old headline on one of the sheets – Heiress dies in fiery crash – and smiled to himself. They always forget. The bench sleeper opened his eyes, staring in drunken befuddlement at the golden glow.

"The Golden Demon"
Copyright: © 2009 Laura Eno

Laura Eno lets the stories decide how long they’ll be. Some are flash and some are novels. Various online publications include 10Flash, Everyday Weirdness, The New Flesh, MicroHorror, Flashes in the Dark, Static Movement, House of Horror. To learn more about her, please visit

"And the nominees for this years’ International Best Cellar Award are…"

From his seat in amongst a prestigious audience of wine connoisseurs, award nominees and their cohorts, rented tuxedo stiff and unflattering below the house lights, the winner held his breath between the names as they were read out by a familiar man behind the podium. Gathered as they were to celebrate the best in winery, he had a deuce up his sleeve; determined that this year he would not be the one to lose out on what was his.

Hearing his name for the first time, those in his immediate vicinity turned to him, that surprised eyebrow raise across their prominent faces as if those Botox injections had worn off.

He gave his audience a flustered smile. He would not let them see how desperate he was to win this achievement.

Opening the envelope, hands visibly shaking even from their distant vantage, the vague celebrity chef with the missing daughter lifted out the card; that smile gone from his features.

That’s right. The award secretary had done her job.

The chef on stage went to speak, a bumbling gaggle of inflated air before a surge of static feedback whistled throughout the auditorium. Faces in the audience, turned and spun; on stage, the celebrity chef, hands gripping the podium so tight it moved, looked back behind the curtain for assistance.

The winner so wanted to smile, to break the illusion of knowing nothing, to keep himself from jumping up out of seat and screaming that he had won out over all those stuck up, sycophantic, yes-men; finally, he had the recognition – him – a man who was not a part of their clique or fortunate enough to have been born to parents with their wealth and respected roots.

"I…" followed by a rack of gurgled sobbing.

People were getting up out of their seats, backstage curtains in flux as producers wanted to know what the hold up was.

The card he had asked them to swap, sat inside his jacket pocket; the one in the trembling hands of the celebrity chef up there beneath the stage lights, that card bore not the winners name but only four words.

We. Have. Your. Daughter.

The girl was alive, shackled to a chair in his wine cellar.

The award judge had a card, too. He was next out on stage to take back control of the event. Ripping the card from the shaking celebrity chef and guiding him toward the producers, nobody saw him pocket the card and take out another one before returning to the podium.

"My sincere apologies, ladies and gentleman…" The judges card held the winners name, packaged as it was with a memory card featuring his missing wife, bound and gagged in the same soon-to-be-award-winning wine cellar. In the ninety second footage, a hand removed her gag and she spoke a selection of cracked words that had been whispered into her ear earlier while a knife was held to her throat.

The judge on stage repeated them now, to the audience of his contemporaries: that this year’s award went to him.

Too shocked to applaud, the audience turned open-mouthed as the winner left his seat and headed for the stage steps. Head held up, right arm waving to the crowd as he neared centre stage, a scratch of clapping flitted from the seats like a crackling of dry timber. Approaching and taking the reserved hand of the judge, he clapped his back, leaning in close so he could confirm that his wife would be returned to him within the hour.

As if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, the remaining audience-members took to their feet for a standing ovation in honour of this year International Best Cellar Award.

"Wow! I’d like to thank the judges and everyone involved in making this happen."

Although it was all supposed to be about the wine, everybody knew it was the cellar and what was kept down there that mattered.

"International Best Cellar"
Copyright: © 2010 Mark Robinson

Mark Robinson's previous writing has appeared in: Powder Burn Flash; Unlikely Stories; Static Movement;; Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers; Sunk Island Review; Microhorror; Hackwriters; Transmission; Raw Edge; Short Story Library; Txt Lit; Post Card Shorts; Enigma and the Lulu Anthology “Never Hit by Lightning” Edited by Tucker Lieberman & Andrew Tivey.
Forthcoming publications in 2010 include Everyday Fiction, A Thousand Faces, Delivered, and the Lame Goat Press Anthology “The Next Time.”

He wrapped his fingers over her throat, massaging her veins, a red-wet puzzle since long ripped open. His head bowed down to her, there was no other way to satisfy the urge; there was just no possible way. Lucian bent down further, licked the side of her temple. His tongue scraped over the dried smears of blood on her cheek; she’s been like this for three days and no change, he thought.

His hand entered her cranium, parted her hair and began working at the insides; he had been cutting bone for two days. She did not protest, but how could she? His workshop was silent, she was silent, moonrise was imminent and he’d have to have it done by then; he needed her clean and ready for the celebration.

At his side was a pink basin. Two white rags soaking in tepid water with shaving cream and cheap lotion. The combination of smells washed away any kind of grime the world could pile onto skin, even skin that had long been dead and festering.

As he entered her head he instantly felt her, really felt her. Memories ran along his fingertips like dripping velvet, nostalgia bit them and stung, crawled beneath his nails and butchered the sensitive white spot beneath it. He removed his hand, his nails scarlet beneath, just filled with blood, he thought.

I have to have her ready, bear the pain Lucian

He wrapped his dirty hand in the warm cloth. Blood sparkled atop it, even in the diminutive light of dusk, but he covered it before the urge came back. It wasn’t a problem though, he knew better than to worry about the little things, so he went back to work. His good had reached back into her head, this time he made sure to part away the skin good, it folded like tender deli meat; corn silk hair came away as if old cobwebs. And she was very, very cold.

Her blood covered his good hand like syrup over waffles; it snuck down his arm and dripped off of his elbow. The inside of her head was exciting. It was thick with thought, and stagnant with love. He could feel the old electric churning within her, the power she used to have over him broiling; Lucian knew it was better this way.

Go to sleep little bird…he used to whisper.

Lucian kept his hand in and explored the grooved junctures of her brain, sulci still somewhat warm, faintly beating; it was a sponge in his hand. He opened her eyes with his other, his ring finger throbbing in time with his aroused pulse, and made her watch him; two hazy eyeballs of a rare sienna. Crimson tears edged in the corners of her eyes as he fondled with her meat thinker. Then he closed the lids and the red downpour began. It drizzled down her face and he licked the chilly tears away to taste the innocence, the madness, the passion. She was meant to stay with him, even in death. But soon she’d rise.

Stalking was no easy task, especially when one wants something more than they can fathom. The need ruins your game, it ruptures the thin membrane between sanity and control, need mocks every step of your well thought out plan; but Lucian had ways to control himself. He knew that even with one tiny slit of argent from a dead sky, the transformation was his control. Lucian was not like the others, transformed or not, he kept all conscious control.

Then he let himself go, allowed seven inches of testosterone rise in his pants like a pipe of soft-hardened tissue and relieved himself with a couple of fluid motions; her cold blood a suitable lubricant, a small pearlescent splat stuck to his palm.

He didn’t know this made him go into heat, or have any pleasure at all, but he went with the flow. Lucian cleaned himself up, then went back to work on her. He parted brisk flesh, knowing it would just all heal back, licked her wounds, infesting her lifeless cells with soon to be animosity. There was a need to bequeath this curse, however one took it; she had to love him forever for this now, they were mates, a pack even.

An emollient shade of blood orange touched his skin, peach fuzz rose and his hard-on softened. Time was slowly marking him and waiting, teasing him with the day’s end and the night’s reprieve; the lady of the night would have him again, as she always had. Lucian propped her up, sat her upright and folded her fragile wrists together, she would wait as well.

Then the sun sank for the last time, taking all its heat with it. He felt the first thump in his chest, and then it sailed to his brain, rocked it back and forth. His face grew numb and his fingers began to bleed, to darken. Cells metamorphosed, muscles boiled and expanded and broke bones as if ancient ivory. He looked into the twilight of the sky and the first sliver of pale light came about in a crescent shape; the howls came after.

He was finished, his body smog black, his teeth yellow and white, razor sharp; they held the strength of diamonds. Honey-suckle eyes saw things in a better, closer perspective than any human could make up for. Then he sniffed at corpse in front of him, angry that it hadn’t changed. All he wanted was one signal, something. He wet her face until it glinted aqueous beneath the moon, gnawed on her fingers until they were down to the sinews, and panted, just panted.

He laid down next to her, whined with all his power, howled to the cowardly rock above him for not allowing its power unto her. A noise. Then his ears stiffened like inky triangles; he looked up. Her eyes were open wide, and they shone with the power of amber.

Copyright: © 2010 Daniel Fabiani

Daniel Fabiani is 22 years old and a semi-misanthrope who loves to drink wine while reading in the dark. Learning new languages is one of his true passions, as well as the written word. He is 3x published in SNM magazine and has credits in Drops of Crimson and Microhoror. He is featured in three print anthologies and is native to NYC.

Margaret Mary tugged at the collar of the ruffle blouse her mother always made her wear with her denim jumper. It was last year’s. She felt as though she were choking.

She stared at the white slush piled against the back of her house where the shadow of the eave never seemed to disappear. The size of a loaf of bread, the slush pile was mottled with black. She stared until the black flecks were dancing.

All around the neighborhood she could catch glimpses of spring. A green shrub here, a precocious tulip there. But here in front of her was a miracle of Mother Nature. It was all that was left of winter. Here in her own backyard was the very last piece of snow.

“Let’s pee on it,” said Jonathan. Margaret Mary punched him. He yelped and rubbed his arm.

“Gross!” she barked. Still, she was intrigued by the thought of his pulling it out and letting loose. She wondered, was it true they sometimes peed in two directions at once? What would he do if that happened? What would she do? Maybe she would help him write her name in the grass.

“Let’s build a snowman,” said Cathy. She turned her broad, innocent face toward Margaret Mary, who spat at her feet.

“Which part of him?” Margaret Mary offered. “A foot? A hand? Honestly. I don’t know why your mother lets you out of the house. Or out of the outhouse.” Cathy screamed and bent over, clutching her stomach, spraying laughter. All of which irritated Margaret Mary all the more.

Margaret Mary wanted to put the snow in her mother’s freezer. She wanted to pack it in Styrofoam with dry ice and send it to her grandmother in Florida. Nanny missed the northeast, she had told her, missed the winters of her childhood. Margaret Mary wanted to give her back those memories on Nanny’s birthday in May.

But Margaret Mary could not say any of this to Cathy or Jonathan. After all, she had her reputation to think about.

“Just leave it alone,” she said. “It’s doing fine all by itself.” Jonathan moved out of arm’s reach.

“You’re gonna take it, aren’t cha? You’re gonna make ice balls with rocks inside. You’ll keep them in the freezer and then one summer day—splam!—I’ll get a broken tooth or a busted lip.”

“And what if I do?” said Margaret Mary, pleased in spite of herself. “It’s my yard.”

“You don’t own the snow,” said Cathy. She hid behind Jonathan.

“Let’s go for a walk,” said Margaret Mary, unbuttoning her collar.

“I have something to show you.”

The walkway to the old Holland Sport Club was overgrown with pricker bushes and weeds.

“We’ve been to this dump a hundred times,” said Jonathan. He kicked at a loose flagstone.

“It’s scary,” said Cathy, clutching Jonathan’s arm.

“Just a little ways more,” said Margaret Mary. She led them around back by the abandoned pool, away from the road. She stopped at the tool shed.

“Stay here,” she said to Cathy. “If somebody comes, give the signal.”

“But I can’t whistle.”

“Knock on the shed.”

“Three times?”

“Three times. Ten times. Who cares?” Margaret Mary said. “Just knock.” She turned to Jonathan. “You,” she said, pointing to the shed, “in there.”


“In there,” she repeated. “With me.”

“Oh,” he said. Margaret Mary closed the door and they stood beside each other in the dark. She groped for Jonathan, caught him and wrapped her arms around him and found his face and moved her lips back and forth over his. His hands slid up under her armpits, then around her front. She held him tighter, leaning against him, bending her knee so her foot was off the ground behind her. He purred, deep in the back of his throat. Then she brought her knee up into his groin as hard as she could. He fell to his knees, gasping. She picked up a shovel and knocked him cold with a shot to the side of the head.

Outside, Margaret Mary dismissed Cathy’s stare.

“Fell asleep,” she said. “We’ll come back for him later.” She put her arm around Cathy and steered her away from the shed. “Let’s get something to drink.” They giggled and chatted, and when they passed the deep end of the empty pool, Margaret Mary shoved her in. She hit the bottom with a dull thud and did not move.

Back home, Margaret Mary scooped up the snow and disappeared into her house. Some hours later she came out with a gallon jug of milk. She skipped along the road. She whistled and played with the cat that followed her. She was going back to the Holland Sport Club to revive her friends by drenching them with Grade A, homogenized, pasteurized cow juice. They would never say anything about what had really happened to them. They knew better.

Late that night, Margaret Mary opened the freezer and studied the white wonder she one day would mail to Nanny. Beside the slush pile were the two ice balls she had separated out. They glistened, the kitchen light revealing their dark centers.

Margaret Mary imagined the joy on Nanny’s face, her surprise and wonder at receiving so unusual and thoughtful a gift. Nanny would know how much her granddaughter cared for her and loved her. A tiny tear formed in the corner of Margaret Mary’s right eye, falling along her nose like a grain of sand.

She flipped the tear away and slammed the freezer shut. It’ll make for a good story around the dinner table, she thought, that’s for sure. Even after she’d mailed the package, even after the ice balls had hit their targets, she knew she would never be without the snow.

She pressed her hand against her chest, feeling for her heart.

Yes, she smiled, there it was.

"The Last Piece of Snow"
Copyright: © 2009 Robert Meade

Robert Meade is a Boston native now transplanted in Mohegan Lake, in Westchester County, NY, with his wife and three children. He teaches at Loyola School in Manhattan. He won the Wordweaving Award for Excellence for his book, Daily Bread: Seven Days to a Healthier Soul. A published author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, his recent work has appeared in Angels on Earth magazine and online at Guideposts and Apollo’s Lyre.
Under the costume of Percival the Pumpkin sweat beaded down Kristopher’s back. His hair was a mop of sweat. And, he was a bit hungry.

He chuckled. This thievery was on a dare from his friends. Sure, he saw Lisa chicken out and return the Gudrun the Ghost costume - not him. They wouldn’t catch him.


Kristopher ducked into an alley and headed toward his house. Brick buildings climbed the sky, hiding his plump frame as he hurried along. Dumpsters that reeked of rotten food sat here, sat there. A rat scurried out in front of him, squealing, startled at his presence, quickly running off.

Time passed. The alley seemed to stretch farther and farther away from Kristopher’s destination. Clouds blocked out the warm sun overhead and the fear that he may very well be lost grabbed his hand. Not a whiff of a noise came from the busy streets.

Everything had grown quiet, like the inside of a buried coffin.Kristopher continued on, running further, finally having to stop. He was worn out. The damn costume was like an oven. No doubt he would have to take it off. When he attempted to do so, it wouldn’t budge.

Something wasn’t right; maybe there was a trick to it, he wondered, as he fumbled for a zipper that was not there.
While struggling to break free there was a noise behind him, added with a voice: “There he is!”

Christopher turned to face a small group of men sitting on black horses, wearing black cloaks, their faces hidden under the hoods. One man held a white flag with a large carving knife displayed on it. At the blade’s tip a drop of blood fell.

“Do not move, Percival!”

Taking no chances, Kristopher rocketed away with their voices chasing: “Get him!”

Rounding a corner brought Kristopher to a dead end. He was trapped.

One horseman caught up to him and slipped off his horse, grabbing a cleaver out of its leather sheath. “Come on, Percival. The King will need to see you. Pumpkin pie is a delicacy at the Castle.”

Something shifted behind Kristopher, like the scraping of bones. Twisting around, he saw a girl in a white dress standing in a doorway.

“Come with me! Hurry!” she demanded.

Kristopher did not think twice. Off he went, slipping through the brick doorway swallowed in darkness, eluding his pursuers.

“Hurry!” the girl’s voice drifted out of the dark, ahead of him. His vision was blinded. If he stumbled and fell, he wasn’t so sure he could rise back up, stuck inside this small furnace.

A light sparkled above, bathing the lawn in a moon’s glow, as he hurried along - until abruptly slide to a stop.

He nearly slipped over the edge of a cliff. Two pinwheels for arms and hands, he caught himself, and stepped back breathing heavily.

Below was a large splash of darkness. His heart beat rapidly, like the beating of a man’s fists against the inside of a coffin.

“Where are we going? Where to no-?” Kristopher’s words were severed as two hands pushed him forward. As his body tumbled end over end, he saw the girl’s face peek over. The flesh on her face peeled away like strips of wallpaper as if some invisible blade worked its magic, revealing a dark crimson shade, and her mouth gaped open in a sinister cackle.

When he hit the ground his body split apart. Slivers and bits and pieces of Kristopher scattered like roaches under a kitchen light. Slowly, each sunk into the earth.

Below ground lay a conveyer belt where bits of Kristopher fell. Each piece of him - a right eye, a left eye, the tip of a finger, a little toe - traveled along on a conveyer belt through a metallic tunnel until a huge pot with a crackling flame underneath came into view.

When Kristopher’s eyes saw this, they watered and twitched with life. Slowly, each piece of Kristopher slipped into the pot and began to boil with a gurgled scream in tow. A slat grew out of the side and three small pumpkin pies began to emerge.

Soon, they were picked up by reptilian hands from under the long sleeves of a robe and carried to where a short, pudgy King with a long white beard sat snoring away on his throne.

Someone cleared their throat.

“Huh, er, what?” the King woke up, startled. Using the back of his hand he wiped saliva from his mouth.

“Your pies, Sire.”

“Oh. Yeah. Sure.” The King cleared his own throat and coughed.

“Bring me one.”

Before the King bit into the first pie, ignoring the muffled screams under the brown layer, he said under his breath: “Lookout tummy! Lookout gums! Poor, poor Percival, you have always been on the run!”
"Percival the Pumpkin"
Copyright: © 2009 Brick Marlin
Brick Marlin is married to a woman who keeps him chained up in a room so he won't try and escape from home and turn his fiction into reality, Brick Marlin resides in the Ohio Valley. Brick has written and published numerous short stories and novels. His books include The Darkened Image, Raising Riley, Saturated and Crimson, and his most recent Dark Places of Rest. Next year two of his books, Sectors (Whiskey Creek Press) and An Ensanguined Path (Double Dragon Publishing), will be released.