I can feel it bubbling when I walk. It tickles, the bubbles growing and bursting in lazy succession with each step. The soles of my feet shift and ripple like a briny sea, forcing me to move in a humiliating side shuffle. Not that I see many people anymore; my condition tends to be exacerbated by daylight. Lucky for me, my job takes place after midnight, when the temperature drops and all the 98.6° people fall to morbid dreams about mortgages and their kid’s bad skin. That’s when I emerge, skittering like a crab down the middle of the street, my simmering feet blackened by tar still warm from the New Mexico sun.

I am on my way to The Yellow Stain, a street side dive bar where I wipe down tables and drink all the cold beer I can hold, when I see her again. Vera glows like an angel under a streetlight, her short hair white and shimmering like cocaine or snow that hasn’t been pissed on yet. I imagine the spiky strands are cold to the touch, rendering my fingertips tingly and numb. Sometimes when I am alone I like to clutch a handful of ice to my burning heart and think of her. The melting water drips cold and sweet down my abdomen like I know her kisses would. The thought causes my blood to boil fervently and I lean against a building to steady my wobbling appendages.

“Allan! Allan!” She spots me and hurries to my side. My name is not Allan, but for a moment I forget my rising blood temperature (uncomfortable even at the best of times) and let myself be swept into her dark lipped smile.

“I heard you have something for me,” she purrs, her voice throaty and deep. Her accent is subtle, but distinctly Parisian. With a shy smile I shake my head and feel her silk gloved hand poised like a bird on my arm. I am sweating profusely and afraid she’ll notice the dampness through my clothes. The smell of burnt sulfur oozes vaporously from my pores and I duck out of her grasp. I shake my head violently when she reaches for me again.

Vera takes a small step back, her lovely forehead crinkling with disappointment. She doesn’t seem to notice the painful effect she’s having on me, not even when she leans forward, surveying me intently with eyes as dark as Guinness. Part of me knows this is my last chance, but her breath on my face is a cool winter breeze and I am doomed by it. The skin around my ears starts to pucker and peel from the steam pouring out of my scalp. I swallow and scald my throat on the liquid I’m able to dredge from the corners of my blistered lips. I can no longer feel the sweat dripping like a hot shower down my suddenly dry back.

“It’s the same with all you connards,” Vera says, spitting the words like venom from her beautifully formed mouth. “Just once I’d like to meet a man who can give without asking for anything in return.” As she speaks she leans forward, her lithe body successfully pinning me against the brick wall. I can smell her skin: peppermint and vodka, and something slightly metallic. The effect is alarming and I’m afraid I will pass out when a rush of hot blood drops from my bubbling brain into the pit of my stomach. Horrified, I imagine the look of disgust she will give me if I let myself fall, curled up like roadkill at her feet.

Vera whispers something in her native language. I’m not sure if it’s an endearment or a curse, nor do I care. The bubbles under my heels erupt through the thick, tar stained skin and I cry out, much to Vera’s satisfaction.

“Ma cheri taught me this,” she says, oblivious to my dilemma as her eager tongue curls moistly around my ear. I hear a hiss and Vera’s tinkling laughter before the eardrum bursts and dark, hot liquid spills into my collar, scalding the tender, unexposed flesh of my neck. I exhale a rasping groan and choke on a mouthful of steam when I try to protest. My organs are melting, liver and kidneys boiling and frothing inside of me like hot vegetable purée. I am shaking violently. Only Vera’s insistent young body keeps me upright.

With the strength of an addict, Vera grabs my chin with one gloved hand, excited by the heat pouring off of me. I want to tell her to stop, to run, but it’s too late. I surrender to the moment, drinking in the last sight of her before my final blink fuses my eyelids together like hot, sticky glue. Before I explode, lungs vaporizing, and heart splattering the wall, the street, and the lovely Vera with molten blood, I revel in my good fortune. Her lips are as cool as I’d imagined when they melt sweetly into mine.

Copyright: © 2010 Rachel Walker

Rachel Walker is a third generation San Diegan who dreams of snow. Her work has appeared in the Seahorse Rodeo Folk Review and is forthcoming in Right Hand Pointing and The Coffee Shop Chronicles. When she is not writing, she can be found painstakingly avoiding other, more lucrative professions.

Teddy had been tied to the telephone pole for two weeks. During this time, he had endured rain, wind, and scorching temperatures, sometimes all in the same day. His fur, once white and soft, had grown stiff and discolored.

After a few days, he had grown used to the harsh weather. He even learned to ignore the pain caused by the dirty shoestring that bound him tightly to the pole. But the one thing that bothered him, the one thing he could not shake, was the loneliness. Teddy wasn’t used to being by himself. Before the accident, he’d always had someone to talk to, to play with, to pass the time with. But this all changed when the drunk driver killed little Tina, right here at this very intersection. The next day, Teddy was snatched from Tina’s room and tied to the pole.

Teddy would rather be tied to a tree in the middle of the forest. At least then he wouldn’t be surrounded by constant reminders of why he was here. When Teddy looked down, he could still see some of the broken glass from the wreck, glinting in the sunlight. To his left, the row of one-story brick apartments where he had once lived stretched down the block. To the right was the liquor store, where the drunk man had pulled out of the parking lot much too fast. Despite the accident, Teddy still watched drunk people come and go every night.

He also saw children playing in front of the apartments. Every day he watched little girls just like Tina skipping rope on the sidewalk, playing with dolls, or chasing each other through the yards in a game of tag. The more he watched them, heard their laughter, saw their smiles, the more he craved a friend.

One night when Teddy was particularly lonely, he decided he couldn’t live any longer without companionship. He rubbed the back of his neck against the telephone pole, rubbed until the already-frayed shoestring snapped. He fell to the ground, rolled over, and then flung himself upright. He walked to the edge of the curb, looked both ways, and then hurried across the dimly-lit street.

Since all of the apartments were designed the same, it was easy for Teddy to locate a child’s window. But he was only two feet tall, and the window was too high. He looked around and found that the children had left their toys scattered around the yard. He located a toy truck, pushed it over to the window and climbed on top of it.

He peered through the window and saw a little girl sleeping in her bed. She looked a lot like Tina, so small and pretty in her pink pajamas. Her room looked like Tina’s too, cluttered with books, toys, and stuffed animals.

Teddy rapped on the window, but his paw was too soft to wake the sleeping girl. He tilted his head forward and used his hard black eye to tap on the window. The girl stirred. He tapped again. The girl sat up. She looked at Teddy and rubbed her eyes.

Teddy motioned for her to come outside.

The little girl got out of bed, walked across the room and lifted the window.

Teddy hopped down from the truck and retreated several feet, motioning for the girl to follow.

As the girl climbed out of the window, Teddy was filled with happiness. He would finally have a friend!

Teddy ran to the curb, but not too fast; he didn’t want the girl to lose sight of him. He looked back, saw her walking towards him through the yard, smiling.

Teddy ran across the street and stood on the opposite curb. As the girl stepped into the street, a car tore out of the liquor store parking lot, tires squealing, headlights sweeping through the darkness. Illuminating the girl’s shocked expression as the car ran her down.

* * *

As the sun went down, Teddy knew it was going to be another long night on the telephone pole. The liquor store parking lot buzzed with activity. Broken glass gleamed in the street from the wreck last night, and a dark red stain marked the spot where the little girl had bled to death. Next to Teddy, tied to a light pole, was the girl’s stuffed unicorn. And while he did provide companionship, he wasn’t the most talkative fellow. What Teddy needed was a friend more like himself.

The shoestring Tina’s mom had reattached Teddy with was just as old and frayed as the last one, and it would only take him a moment to work himself free again. As the streetlights flashed on, and darkness claimed the sky, he watched as parents ushered their children in for the night.

So many boys and girls. One of them had to have a teddy bear.

Copyright: © 2010 Chris Reed

Chris Reed is the author of more than 60 stories. He lives in Davison, MI, where he enjoys browsing thrift stores, eating pizza, and waiting for hockey fights to break out, sometimes simultaneously. Visit his official web site: www.ChrisReedFiction.com.

Matt Sturgis stole a quick glance; the sudden onslaught of giddiness combined with the glare of the late-afternoon sun almost sent him fluttering over the ledge. The peak-hour traffic beneath resembled a slow-moving column of ants.

It’s all in the mind. He wondered what would run through his head at the moment of impact. Life sucks and then you die.

He put one foot back through the apartment window. But not today.

Then he lost his balance and fell.

His screams were swept away by the air rushing up to meet him.

The last thing to go through Matt’s mind was the pavement.

"It's All In The Mind"
Copyright: © 2010 Eugene Gramelis

Eugene is a widely-published, award-winning author of suspense and dark fiction. He also practises law as a barrister in Sydney, Australia, where he resides with his beautiful wife and three gorgeous children, and he invites you to walk with him at http://gramelis.blogspot.com

*First published in Flashshots earlier this year

Jared woke from a euphoric ether-sleep, certain that some rough creature was still clutching him from beyond the veil of his nightmares, a force so malevolent and relentless that it refused to let go, even now. Dull flashes of memory bombarded him from distant epochs, "We have a winner!" There were blackjack tables, and beautiful server girls, and patrons dressed in tacky cowboy garb, and there were lights…wildly spinning lights.

But all that was over now. Jared found himself in a purgatory for the profanely indulgent, the place for all who refuse to go gently into the loser's bracket. These pleasure-seekers are unbound by restraint, and would risk something greater than life and limb for another spin of the wheel. Losing was only a set-back after all, a formality meant to weed out the weak at heart. But Jared was not weak. He had the fortitude, and the tenacity to take hold of the bull and shake that bastard down until it spilled all the glorious riches that life owed him.

The last card had rained down on him like a thunder god's hammer, and he had lost the biggest wad of money anyone like him had ever dared take on credit. He had taken a force majeure into the desert. Jared had no idea if anyone from the outfit had seen him, but it seemed crazy for them to suspect his recent play after being into them for so much. They would come for him soon enough, but there was no need to be sitting around when they did. He sped off into the night, watching Vegas disappear into the background like a mirage in a fever dream. "No one knows." he told himself. "I'm free and clear. I just need this little head start…" He drove into a black ocean of desert, unaware of the shark swimming so close behind.

Now there was only the halo of a small overhead light, and the gut-wrenching pain in his stomach. He was in a black leather chair, which was torn with age, the stuffing protruding from it like mange on an old hide. Jared let out a dry cough and then emptied the contents of his stomach onto the dirt floor.

"Oh, good you're awake." The person attached to the baritone voice emerged from the shadows of the wooden shack. He was an absolute beast of a man, and it was no big stretch to guess his profession. Presently he rolled up his sleeves, and the hair on his forearms suggested that of a wooly mammoth. The man's upper body bulged from his pinstriped shirt as if he had been poured into it, and over this was a gray vest pulled taut enough to blast the buttons into orbit, were he to inhale deep enough. His thinning blonde hair was combed back over the immensity of his forehead, and beads of sweat had begun to form there on his sun-reddened skin. His cold green eyes reflected an absence of empathy, and they glimmered turgidly with an evil proclivity that only the very cruel possess.

A whimper escaped Jared, and the man in the vest held up the flat of his hand in a warding gesture. "Now, now, let's have none of that. If I were you, I would save my strength."

The large man in the vest produced a wooden stand and placed it in front of Jared at arm's length. On this he set a heavy canvass roll, and whistled as he unraveled it. He removed its contents in a routine fashion, naming each of the implements as he held them up to the light. "Bone saw…falcatta…pliers…needle-nose…smelling salts…hammer…"

By this time, Jared had gone limp as a jelly fish, and began to utter the mindless de profundis of the truly desperate and unlucky. He rationalized. He side tracked. He floundered. All the while his executioner stood patiently with arms folded, nodding as if just the right combination of pleading had stirred some dormant shred of humanity from deep within the blonde colossus. In the end, the man in the vest leaned in close, placing his sweaty hands on the sides of Jared's neck. In a soothing, avuncular way he said, "At some point every man faces the inevitable. The trump of trumps knows no disparity. It simply is." With that he went to work.

The night was filled with screams so gibbous and so fantastic that even the coyotes scattered to be clear of the unholy noise. Blood ebbed into the floorboards, and soaked the ground below. Bloodied fingers fell in a neat pile next to squirming leather shoes, followed by an eyeball. The wind howled around the old shack for hours and carried the screams into the sand-blown night, and then for a long time everything went quiet.

A slumping figure emerged from the door of the shack, fumbling for his car keys. He rolled down his sleeves and spilled into the leather seat, exhausted. After exhaling a long bloodcurdling scream of his own, he drove off into the night.

The secret Jared had concealed, but never truly counted on, was the marginal talent he had possessed since childhood. Some people called it telepathy. Jared preferred to think of it as a small argumentative edge. He had entered the mind of the colossus and found a personality so full of self-loathing, so eager to be released from servitude that all it took was the slightest suggestion, an invitation to do what the beastly man had only ever desired.

"Become me, and I'll become you. Finish the job, and be free."

Jared had watched in horror as his would-be killer faced the inevitable, and chopped himself to pieces one extremity at a time. The trump of all trumps had been played, and Jared had bought another lifetime to contemplate the gift he had been given this night.

"Jared's Gift"
Copyright: © 2010 Mark Anthony Crittenden
Mark Anthony Crittenden served as Editor of Howl: Dark Tales of The Feral and Infernal (Lame Goat Press), and will edit the upcoming Potter's Field 4 (Sam's Dot Publishing). Writing credits include work in Champagne Shivers, Morpheus Tales, Twisted Dreams, and various anthologies. Keep up with him at http://www.visionprimordial.blogspot.com/

*This story first appears in Champagne Shivers 2009 issue.

It looked like a small brown puppy. Its ears curled slightly at the sides and it panted irregularly.
They brought it home in a shoe box and laid it on the bed where they sat watching as they drank cool shots of vodka until dawn began bleeding.
"You look so nice in your orange suit", he said to her with that twinkle in his eye.
She was putting on her make-up and turned to face him and said "Johnny, we made this, ain’t it beautiful?"
"Sandra, anything that came out of you would be beautiful."
It moved a little on the bed and yawned showing stained yellow teeth and the curvature of a sharpened chiseled fang.
Soon they were lying next to their box of moving flesh panting.
Johnny moved with slow and ponderous lust across her swollen belly and she screamed until his ears were throbbing.
Afterwards he lay there smoking and she licked the top of the burning cigarette. There was the sound of sirens outside as she stood admiring her swollen tongue in the mirror.
Behind her Johnny tipped vodka on the head that jutted out of the shoe box.
"They like that", he said. "Tips them over towards humanity."
"You talk so clever Johnny, I can’t understand what you’re saying sometimes", Sandra said.
"Making them drink makes them human."
"Oh yeah?"
She walked over to him and stroked his head, running her long nails through his matted hair and resting his head against her breasts.
"Feeding time. I need to suckle it", she said.
"And when its mouth is full of your milk it will be human."
He lifted the small brown creature out of the box and Sandra took it and placed one of her nipples in its mouth. She rolled her eyes and seemed to inhabit some brief sphere of ecstasy before she began screaming.
She threw it down on the bed.
"Look what it’s done to my tit", she said. Blood was pouring from her nipple and she reached for the knife that lay on the dresser.

"I’ll hack its head off."

Johnny took the knife from her and held her until she started sobbing.
They did not hear the footsteps in the hallway.
On the bed the small brown creature bled.
Johnny had stuck it with the knife while he held Sandra in his tattoed arms.
The police cars outside formed an orderly line along the avenue.
Neighbours stood at their garden gates.
When Sandra saw that Johnny had stuck the thing they had brought there she poked and prodded the wound, listening intently to the shrill shriek like a child that has found an insect to torture.
"Do you think my tits will be all right?" she said.
"They’re always all right, you just keep em in that dress of yours when we go out."
"Oh Johnny."
"Well call me romantic."
"I’ll call you whatever you want."
"We do seem to make a lot of babies."
"An the doctors told me I was infertile."
"Just shows how wrong they can be."
"I’ve lost track of all the children I’ve had. How many a month is it?"
"Honey I don’t know, I never was much good at rithmetic."
She stood preening herself before the mirror.
"They’re never as good-looking as us", she said.
"We’s pretty neat, it’s a hard thing to do."
"How did we meet again Johnny?"
"I told you."
"Tell me again."
"We been living together for a year now."
"I know, but before that."
"You and I belong to a club."
"I ain’t no member of no club."
"Yes you are."
"Which club?"
"The Society For The Betterment Of Mankind."
"Oh yeah, I remember."
She put on her top and looked vaguely out of the window.
"Time to feed baby", Johnny said, and he passed it to her.
But the small brown thing wrestled free of his grip and shot across the floor and hid under a cupboard.
They got a wire coat hanger and opened it up until it was a sharp point and stuck it under the cupboard until the thing began shrieking again.
Just then the door burst open and two police officers entered.
They held guns pointed at them.
Johnny and Sandra lay on the floor while they cuffed them.
They led them out through the front door into the street where a swarm of neighbours stared and talked among themselves.
As the car sped away the only shapes visible to the prying eyes were the blurred outlines of their orange suits.
Two neighbours waited behind and talked.
"Escaped from a nuthouse", one said.
"What was that thing?"
"Sandra could never have kids and went crazy cause of it. She catches animals, thinking they’re her baby."
"What does the guy do?"
"He tortures animals."
"When she realises she ain’t holding a baby he kills it?"
"That’s about the sum of it."
"Fuckin sickos. Good thing they’re locking em up."
They went back inside their houses while Sandra and Johnny were being held down and injected with medication.
Sandra tried biting one of the nurses who hit her and stuck the needle deep into her buttock.
Soon she fell into a comatose sleep while Johnny lay tied to his bed and passed the night without stirring.
Outside the station the police officers were looking at the animal.
"Seems OK," one said.
"You’d think even a whacko like her would smell it ain’t a baby."
"That’s delusions for you, nuts like them believe their own fantasises and shape the world to suit them."
"Think he’ll survive?"
They let it out of the box and it fled into some undergrowth.
Apart from the wound which was closing up it looked unharmed.
The next morning Sandra shuffled along the sterile corridor in search of Johnny.
She found him watching a nature programme on TV.
"Johnny?" she said.
"I think I’m pregnant."
"That’s good honey, that’s real good."

"Feeding Time"
Copyright: © 2010 Richard Godwin

Richard Godwin is a produced playwright and his stories can be found at many magazines, among them A Twist Of Noir and Danse Macabre, as well as in the recent anthologies 'Back In Five Minutes' by Little Episodes Publishing and 'Howl' by Lame Goat Press.

If you want to check out his writing credentials further you can find them here at his blog, just click the portfolio link http://www.richardgodwin.net/


Mr. Sollis woke up wiping the grit from his eyes. He looked down at the expansive map of his hands and sighed, feeling his old age weigh down heavily upon his broad shoulders.

Nancy always told him he’d live forever. He was practically immortal, iron man in the flesh. But look at me now, he thought with frightening clarity, I’m nothing more than an hourglass that’s beginning to crack. Just look at all the sand spilling out of me...

Depressed and tired of self pity, Mr. Sollis turned on the TV just to let his mind drift in a pool of nothingness. He didn’t want to think about anything, let alone his own existence. He simply wanted to be and nothing more.


Black static.

A cascade of virtual insects crawling all over the screen.

An electric scream rattled the bones of the old man slumped in the chair.

He is oblivious to the sounds, the subtle cries emanating from the raging TV screen.


Mr. Sollis woke up startled by the incredibly loud static. The screen was a chaotic mix of black and white dots converging and splitting.

In the chaos, images began to take shape and form. With time, the shapes became clearer. The black and white coalesced in the form of a curvy woman. Almost a silhouette, yet more defined, more lively.

He felt an old, familiar stirring. However, this unwelcome feeling disturbed him greatly.

Mr. Sollis frantically searched for the greasy remote control. He picked it up and pressed the off button, but his hand slipped off at the last moment. With a sense of urgency, he poked the button again and again till the blasted static shut off shrouding the room in silence.

He stared at his reflection in the black screen. Drops of sweat rolled down his forehead. This was getting to be too much, he thought. So he headed in the kitchen and popped a few pills. Who knows what purpose they served? His eyesight was too poor to read the labels. All he knew was that they would take the pain away and that was all he needed.
Black static reigned over the house creeping in and out of every floorboard, caressing every surface, crackling into the master bedroom.
The old man on the bed, snored loudly in his slumber shifting his position every few minutes to get more comfortable.

She touched the gray tufts on his liver spotted head, remembering the old days. The days when she was more than this.

She sighed, leaking static all over the carpet. The room surged with energy and darkened with depression.

The man’s forehead wrinkled. She wondered what he felt right now, the things he saw. The pain he felt inside this world and others. It was so easy to relate.

She caressed his forehead, thinking good thoughts, hoping his dreams would improve and blossom into black petals in the night.

Then a thought occurred and she made that thought become reality as she gently embraced her old lover. The room darkened and faded to black leaving behind the faint scent of lilies.

"Black Static, How Lovely the Sound"
Copyright: © 2010 Grant Wamack
Grant Wamack writes weird fiction and has been published in Nemonymous 8, Polluto #2, and 365 Tomorrows.

The corners of my mouth curve downward as I pluck a single pubic hair from the bristles of my toothbrush. I stare at it for a moment before dropping it in the sink. I rinse off the brush and reach for the toothpaste. Somewhat surprisingly, the toothbrush does not taste like pubic hair or crotch sweat. Minty-fresh Crest is the only flavor present.

I spit a mouthful of foam into the sink, then turn on the water, rinsing it and the lone curly hair down the drain. There is a small black spec left in the basin, and it makes me think of crab lice. I don't think that is actually what it is, yet I can't help but wonder if my toothbrush could have become infested with them from the pubic hair. I know that crab lice are very small, so it stands to reason that a great many of them could occupy the surface area of a strand of hair. Especially a curly hair, which, though it may appear somewhat short, turns out to be much longer when straightened. My mouth begins to itch as I'm thinking about this. I'm not usually one for paranoia, but I reach for the mouthwash, just in case.

After swishing the purple liquid (I doubled the recommended time of thirty seconds), I spit, the itching replaced by a slightly numb, chemical-burned feeling. It reminds me of the time I had to siphon gas from my second-cousin's car, and wound up with a mouthful. Luckily, I know that the mouthwash burn will fade much quicker.

I put my toothbrush back in the hanger, and see my step-brother's brush. Green with a red stripe. I think about how my step-brother borrowed my car last week, and returned it with no gas, a broken headlight, and a flat tire. I think about how he folds the covers backwards on my books when he reads them, and how he never puts DVDs back in the right case, and all the other asshole things he does. I think about this as I stick his toothbrush down my pants, scrubbing between my balls and ass. The bristles tickle my ass crack as I think about my step-brother brushing his teeth with the brush, covered in sweat and hair...

And I can't help but get a bad feeling about how the hair may have gotten onto my own toothbrush.

Copyright: © 2010 Chris Bowsman
Chris Bowsman has had several of his short story and flash fiction pieces published, and spends a considerable amount of time wondering if going by "Christopher" would increase his authorly success.

Two weeks after buying the dilapidated Victorian, Levon moved in. His grandparents had built it at the turn of the century, but lost it during the great Depression. The state converted it into a home for unwed mothers, but shut it down after a series of questionable adoptions and the mysterious disappearance of several young mothers.

Since then, it had been repeatedly occupied and abandoned. When the state finally put it up for auction, Levon saw an opportunity to bring it back into the family and refurbish it to its original splendor. After submitting the winning bid, he decided to convert it into a bed and breakfast.

Now, here he was lugging box after box of belongings and furniture into the long-abandoned house. The musty odor of old, heavily waxed Oak floors and moldings lent a hypnotic ambiance he hoped his future guests would appreciate and remember.

That afternoon, while taking a break, Levon decided to look through an old desk covered by a sheet in the parlor. He inadvertently pulled a drawer out too far and found a key that apparently had fallen behind the drawer. He tried several doors, but the key didn’t fit.

Then, he tried the attic. While the old rusting key unlocked the door, the wood had swelled from years of moisture. Levon slam his shoulder against it until it flew open. A rush of chilling and sickly, foul-smelling air escaped.

He shined his flashlight into the room, and then made his way to the transom, which he opened to allow fresh air to circulate.

The bright white shaft of dusty sunlight sprayed the room. Large faded splotches that appeared to be furniture stain splattered the dirty floor and walls. Levon explored the attic, and found several broken chairs he thought could be refurnished as well as several old mattresses and bed frames.

As he shined the flashlight around the room Levon spotted a few dusty, cobwebbed boxes stacked in a dark corner. Inside one box, he found a couple of teddy bears, baby clothes and booties, and a wrinkled, faded photo of a young woman holding a tiny baby.

Although she smiled into the camera, her fear-filled eyes suggested anything but happiness. Then, in the bottom of the box, Levon spotted a newspaper article describing her strange disappearance, and an unsuccessful county-wide search that had culminated in the state shutting down the home.

The sunlight through the opening began to fade. Levon figured he ought to get a little more unpacking done and then call it a day. Once he got settled in, he would come back and draw up a rough plan on how to install a large window for light and turn the room into a honeymoon suite.

Shortly after midnight, the sound of someone rummaging through the kitchen cupboards awakened him. Levon slipped out of bed, and grabbed his four iron from the golf bag leaning against the wall.

He tiptoed to the landing, and peeked through the banister slats. A full moon shining through the Victorian’s window cast the living room in a silvery patina.

He caught a glimpse of a shadow moving in the light. Levon pressed his back against the wall and cautiously sidestepped down the oak stairs.

He reached the first floor and tip-toed across the room, slowly making his way through a virtual maze of haphazardly placed furniture and boxes. Levon edged up to the kitchen door and peeked around the corner.

A woman with long, stringy hair hanging limp over her shoulders, rummaged through the cupboards. The kitchen light shined through her ragged, soiled nightgown and the nearly diaphanous material outlined her bone-thin body.

“I’ll fix you all for stealing my baby you bastards,” she rasped, removing a bottle from the cleaning cupboard.

After removing the cap, she let out a hoarse cackle and gulped it down. Levon could smell the Drano burning her throat and see the smoke curling out of her mouth toward the ceiling.

The same foul stench that had escaped the room, wafted across the room. Levon gagged, and the woman swung around, hissing and snarling.

Dark shadows surrounded her wild, milky eyes. Chunks of pasty flesh hung from her decaying, once youthful face. Blackened spots of rot pitted jagged teeth, and bugs crawled in and out of her nostrils, mouth, and ears.

“Wh-who are you and what do you want?” Levon asked, poising his golf club as though about to tee off.

Without a word, the waiflike woman leapt and knocked him to the floor. She seemed to have the strength of three men as she straddled Levon, and pinned his arms against his chest. Her tongue snaked from her mouth and lapped at his face and lips.

“All that matters is, you are a man,” she said, in a foul-breathed, gravelly voice. “Your kind done it to me and the others who lived here, but you took ‘em from us. Now you can do it to me, and let me keep it.”

“Do what?” Levon cried, twisting and turning like a madman, trying to free himself from her grip. “I don’t know what you are talking about!”

“Love me and give me my baby!” she demanded.

She feverishly kissed and licked his ears and throat, leaving a trail of putrid slobber. Then, she raked her pointed, dirty fingernails deep across his chest, and sucked the blood off them, one by one.

Her raspy voice cracked as she growled, “Love me, love me!”

Then, a drop of what felt like a sticky tear slid off her cheek, and she whispered, “they took it from me but never loved me.”

Levon fixed his terror-filled eyes on the ceiling and fought the urge to respond. She had her way with him however, and after several few minutes, emitted a shrill scream. Blood gushed in spurts as she sunk her teeth into his neck, and ripped away the flesh.

“This is MY house now,” she squealed, hovering over Levon’s jerking, twitching corpse, “where you will always love me and our baby shall live forever.”

Copyright: © 2010 Hal Kempka

Harold ‘Hal’ Kempka is a former Marine, and Vietnam Veteran. His poetry has appeared in Leatherneck Magazine, and short stories published in Many Midnights, Black Petals, Dark and Dreary, Microhorror, Long Story Short, The Shine Journal, and the Fiction Flyer, among others. He is a member of the FlashXer flash fiction workshop, and lives in Southern California with his wife, Celeste, and son Derek.

A few days ago, THE NEW FLESH sat down with bizarro writer Steve Lowe to discuss body switching, why vanilla is better than chocolate, and how he likes his bacon. This is what we found out...

- - - - - BEGIN TRANSMISSION - - - - -

TNF: Steve Lowe, who the hell do you think you are?

SL: Well, in the German language, the word “löwe” means lion. So, I am a predator of the Serengeti, as evidenced by my golden, flowing mane and the rotting meat stench of my breath. Of course, that’s not how others see me. They’ll probably just tell you I’m an asshole.

TNF: On your blog, you have something called THE 2-MINUTE DRILL. What is that and which has been the most memorable for you?

SL: The 2-Minute Drill is an erratic interview series where I refer to myself as “we” and ask authors and artists really, really stupid questions. It’s basically like a roast, where the interviewer and interviewee get to take shots at each other, all in the name of thinly-veiled self promotion. The most memorable Drill so far would have to be with artist Jack Rogers. No matter how nonsensical my questions were, he found a way to give answers that were even more nonsensical and incoherent. It’s like reading the personal journals of John Doe from the movie “Se7en”, only more uncomfortable.

TNF: Draw a picture of the coolest weapon not yet invented and explain its functions.

SL: It’s supposed to be a mind control device that turns my enemies into pigs, which I then butcher and cook into bacon. Unfortunately, my MS Paint frying bacon looks more like colorful, steaming turds, which I guess works as well, so I’m running with it. I should have a prototype ready to go by 2078.

TNF: You have a new book coming out from Eraserhead Press later this year called MUSCLE MEMORY. I love the summary you have of it up on your blog. Describe it for our readers in exactly 47 words.

SL: MUSCLE MEMORY is what I wished all those body switching movies from the 1980s would have been. A bunch of dopey people wake up one morning in each others’ bodies and they spend the day trying to figure out what happened and why, and there’s murder and

TNF: Write a convincing argument for why vanilla is a way better flavor for ice cream than chocolate, even if you disagree.

SL: Vanilla was the original. Chocolate is just vanilla trying to be different. Vanilla doesn’t need to throw on a snazzy overcoat and slick up its hair with product and throw on a bunch of flashy jewelry. Chocolate is all, “Look at me, I’m Vanilla with a tan, I’m such a badass, all the kids like me better!” And Vanilla is all, “Shut the fuck up, you’re embarrassing yourself. Act like you have a shred of self respect, you silly asshole.” Vanilla’s been through the wars, man. Vanilla was there from day one. Before Baskin Robbins had 31 Flavors, he had one flavor, and it was fuckin’ Vanilla, man. When Vanilla goes to the bathroom, you know what comes out? That’s right - Chocolate. And if you even mention Strawberry, Vanilla’s gonna take a flamethrower to this place! Case closed.

TNF: What is your advice for the class of 2078?

SL: I’ll be 103 years old by then, so I would have to tell them, “Get the hell off your lazy asses and get to work. Who do you think funds my Social Security check, anyway? And stay the hell off my lawn, or your ass is bacon!”

TNF: Where can we get more Steve Lowe?

SL: Since my books are not yet available to purchase, please patronize this fine establishment: http://www.baskinrobbins.com/icecream/

Or, you can kill some brain cells here: http://stevenelowe.wordpress.com/

And you can go read some of my fiction here: http://darkrecesses.net/?p=1601 and also here: http://bloodybridge.blogspot.com/2010/05/playcations-for-free-by-steve-lowe.html

- - - - - END OF TRANSMISSION - - - - -

No one knew when or how it started. We just woke up one morning only to realize that only weeds grew on earth and nothing else.

The hardy Bermuda grass had evolved and started to grow on concrete. Bristling and loathsome, they rapidly took up the highways and covered buildings and houses. Many people attempted to stop them from proliferating by burning them. The Bermuda grass returned in exactly 6.51 seconds. Proud and green as ever, one by one the tiny blades of grass emerged slowly out of the cemented surface. The following year the Bermuda grass learned to cling and grow on steel and other metal alloys. The industries where our lives depended on fell apart.

Herbicides and other chemical weed control means were outlawed two years ago because these brought the most harm. New and sturdier species of strange-looking weeds evolved practically overnight on the same patch of ground where the chemicals had been sprayed. There were those deep-green weeds that resembled moss which could withstand even significant splashes of concentrated hydrofluoric acid. This was the same species which poisoned all fresh-water fishes, grain crops, and livestock.

Season after season, English plantain and pokeweeds ruled lawns and crop fields across the entire North American region. No other plant grew except weeds. Rainforests were covered by a thick mat of kudzu. A year after that, a pale-green variety of kudzu thrived and took up the all the world’s deserts. Ragweeds began to spread on the surface of seas and glaciers. Inch by inch, they blanketed the oceans and lodged like parasites inside the bellies of the undersea organisms that ate them.

The Russians once nuked a weed-infested area in the Bering Strait. Eleven hours later, radiation-resistant weeds surfaced out of the poisoned waters.

Everywhere we look, we saw nothing but endless swathes of green. They leveled the earth while searching for nutrients underneath. We heard green grow. The weeds rustled and bred and did nothing but grew greener and healthier day after day as we watched helplessly.

To prevent starvation, the government made it a mandate for every law-abiding citizen to drink a culture of cellulose-digesting bacteria so that everyone could digest grass and alleviate hunger. Antidotes were formulated for poison ivy so they could be eaten without developing rashes and nasty side effects. The drugs were rationed by the military. The people who were allergic to pollens were the first to die out, bloated and riddled with pustules.

No one knew when or how it started. But we all knew how it would be in the end.

We finally gave up the day the weeds tried another growth medium. A single plant of certain species of weeds that started to grow on human skin bore half a million seeds or more, enough to crowd several farms. Their seeds were hardy and could still remain viable even after eighty years.

Inevitably, the weeds shall inherit the earth.

We should have known better.

"Where the Weeds Are Greener"
Copyright: © 2010 Kristine Ong Muslim
Kristine Ong Muslim's work has appeared or is forthcoming in more than four hundred publications worldwide, including Aberrant Dreams, Abyss & Apex, Alternative Coordinates, Space & Time, and Tales of the Talisman. She has received several Honorable Mentions in Year's Best Fantasy and Horror as well as five nominations for the Pushcart Prize and four for the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Rhysling Award.

*'Where the Weeds Are Greener' first appeared in Dark Recesses Press #4, July 2006

“I’ve never eaten a transsexual before,” Spider told Jenny Loveless. While speaking, it scrutinized her minutely.

“I assure you we taste just the same as everyone else does,” Jenny replied, frantically trying to figure a way out of this latest mess her greed had gotten her into.

She was currently suspended ten feet in the air, wrapped in stinging coils of toilet-fetid web. Her gun lay twenty feet away.

Spider stopped studying Jenny. It walked over to Millicent’s broken corpse. It ripped off her left leg and began eating it. Jenny shut her eyes, wished she could plug her ears to the sound of breaking bone, shredding flesh . . .


Jenny Loveless was still unsure what had gone wrong. She and Millicent Ball had broken into Apartment 29, only it hadn’t been there, just a ruined space full of broken furniture and . . . Spider.

“Look out!” she’d yelled, turning to flee. She’d heard the dull thuds of Spider’s fangs piercing Millie’s body, then felt burning web lasso her own.


“You look delicious,” Spider told her, “Packed with juice. I can’t wait to suck you dry.”

An idea occurred to Jenny; one so absurd it seemed worth a try. “Let me tell you a story,” she said.

“Uh?” Spider stroked her face with a hairy foreleg. Jenny felt as if several cockroaches were walking on her. “What?”

“Entertainment while you’re eating Millicent--so you don’t get bored. Storytelling’s my profession. I promise you this one’ll be good.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Spider said. “It seems creepy to get on too familiar terms with your meals.”

With nerves of steel, Jenny concealed her desperation. “Look, humor me. Okay, so you’re going to eat me afterwards. Still, it’s considered sporting to grant a condemned man’s last request.”

“You’re not a man . . .”

“Woman then . . .”

“You’re not that either.” Spider was genuinely bemused by her androgyny.

Her fear gave way to exasperation. “WHAT HAS MY GENDER GOT TO DO WITH ANYTHING? JUST LET ME TELL YOU A FUCKING STORY!” Her voice calmed a little. “Back off, sit down, eat Millie’s right leg and listen. Entertainment is good for digestion.”

“Oh alright,” Spider said, taken aback by her vehemence, confused by her insistence on this oddness. The leg it’d already eaten had also put it in a more amenable mood than it had been in when the pair had broken into its lair.

After following Jenny’s suggestion and ripping off Millicent’s right leg, it sat and listened.

“Once upon a time there was a beautiful, beautiful woman named Scheherazade Clinton,” Jenny began. “This happened a long time ago, when time was still reckoned in A.D. and B.C. and not A.G. like we do now, loooooooong before Gutuz the barrier locked everyone down here.

“Now, beautiful Scheherazade was in love with a young hunchback named Aladdin, only he didn’t like her in return, being more interested in a female genius . . .”


Spider was surprised at how much it liked the story. True, it was very long, but it was great to hear how Scheherazade Clinton, seeing that Aladdin disliked her, gave some magic beans to Jack and told him to climb the beanstalk and get the Three Blind Mice Musketeers, and then . . .”

Listening in keen multi-eyed interest, Spider ate the rest of Millicent’s limbs and her head also. They tasted gooooooood--entertainment really did help digestion.

Jenny Loveless coldly watched Millicent’s corpse disappear. She spun the story on endlessly, talking for hours, knowing she was talking to keep herself alive.

She spoke and spoke and spoke until the sky lightened.


“Oops, its morning,” Spider said. “I never eat after 6 AM--gives me really bad gas through the day. Tell you what--I’ll eat you tonight, after you finish the tale of Scheherazade and the magic lamp with the genius of course.”

“Of course,” Jenny said smiling sweetly. “You don’t mind, do you?”

“No, not at all.” To Jenny’s horror, it was currently in the process of transforming itself into a twenty-something-year-old man. As it altered, so did their surroundings, till finally they were in a normal bedsitter, with Jenny tied to the bed. Where Millicent’s corpse had been, now stood a large freezer. Jenny had no doubts what it contained.

Transformation complete, Spider went into the bathroom to brush his teeth. He came out again fully dressed in a suit complete with tie.

Spider, now the quintessential human, picked up his briefcase and walked over to Jenny. His name tag read: ‘Spyder Mann--Communications Supervisor’. He smiled. “Time I was getting to work,” he said, “I’ll see you tonight.”

“Oh, I’ve just remembered another interesting old tale,” Jenny said, gazing coldly into Spider’s ice-blue eyes. “You’ll love this one. It’s the tale of the War between the Undead Statues of Liberty and the Lost Kings of Hollywood. The hero’s a potter named Harrison who rides a Trojan horse.”

With relief she read the interest in Spider’s eyes.

“Is it a loooooong tale?” Spider asked. “I really must eat you soon.”

She smiled sweetly. “I shouldn’t take too long, but just in case, buy some burgers for both of us--that way we won’t starve before you’re ready to eat me.”

“No need to buy food,” Spider said nicely, “I’ve still got your friend’s torso in the freezer; I don’t mind sharing that with you.”

The door shut behind him. Bound neck, wrist and ankle to the bed, Jenny Loveless resumed her frantic search for a means of escape, before she ran out of stories to tell Spider.

"Entertaining Spider"
Copyright: © 2010 Wol-vriey
Wol-vriey is Nigerian, and quite tall. He believes that there actually are things that go bump in the night.

I shouldn’t have tasted the raindrops. I shouldn’t have fallen onto the earth, mouth open, giggling like a girl. But I did. And the rain had tasted sweet as daydreams.

My mother had said it constantly when I was a child:

“Candice, don’t you open that mouth when the rain comes.”

But it rained so rarely that a long time passed since the fear melted into curiosity. And it had been even longer since my mother spoke. I was a grown woman, and women had nothing to say to one another.

When the sky turned purple and heavy, and the mothers pulled their kids into shelters, I stayed outside, alone amid the waterfall cascading from the ruptured sky.

Then the symptoms began. I thought it was my imagination, but the voices were persistent. Resonant sounds, like statues speaking into your ear. At first they only mused:

“That man, he licks his lips in thirst.”

“See there? An infant drinking from her mother’s breast.”

I nodded, afraid to do more or less. Then came the commands.

“See that fountain, Candice? Step into it and drink.”

Staring down at my shoes, hiding my flushed cheeks beneath a curtain of dark hair, I obeyed.

“She tasted rain water, children,” the mothers whispered.
“What shame she must feel.”

The cool water rose to my thighs. I gripped the stone structure and lifted my chin. As the water rushed into my mouth, I noticed that I did not feel shame.

At dawn, the voices sent me to suck the dewdrops off flower petals.

They willed me to climb trees and fill my mouth with juicy, purple berries. They had me kiss strangers till I could taste what they’d been drinking. Children pointed, and mothers tried to shield their little eyes.

The voices rumbled like thunder. I couldn’t make out the words now, but I knew what I needed. I couldn’t wait here.

I crossed my field and stopped by a wooden cabin that had once been my childhood. My mother sat on the porch, rocking in a creaky chair.

“Come with me,” I said. Her gray eyes widened. She hadn’t heard my voice since I was young. I thought she started rising, but she just fell back into the chair and swayed in place.

“Yes, I drank the rainwater. I disobeyed, but I don’t regret it.”

My mother shook her head slowly, as though it too would creak, and said nothing.

“What?” I demanded, “Tell me what you’re thinking.”

She was silent a long time, searching for her voice in some forgotten room.

“You’ll be thirsty forever, Candice.” Her voice had aged.
It had lost all of its melody.

“Yes,” I said, “I’m going to search for storms.”

“They will only make you thirstier,” she said.

“So I will keep drinking.”

She turned from me as though I were an unpleasant memory. I kissed her frail hand and looked out. The breeze carried the taste of salt. The horizon was endless.

"Searching For Storms"
Copyright: © 2010 Tania Luna

“Give it back Andy!”

Lucy lunged for the clown doll that was held in the boy’s outstretched arm. Andy held the doll above his head with his left hand as he blocked her with his right.

“You want it back? Why do you want an old thing like this for anyway? Look – its falling apart!”

Andy reached up and plucked one of the old dolls eyes from its head and threw it at Lucy. She shrieked and clawed at his arms.

“It was my Granmama’s! It’s REALLY OLD!”

“Well, you can have it back – a bit at a time” said Andy, laughing as he tore off the clowns other eye and threw it at her.

“Please Andy!” Lucy sobbed. “Let me have him back. PLEASE?”

Andy grinned at her.

"You have to say that you're a dirty little gypsy thief.”

Lucy hitched in a breath, and wiped her tears away, stammering, "I'm a dirty little gypsy thief."

"And do you know where thieves go?"


"They go straight to hell."

Andy ripped the head off the doll and scattered the pieces over her. Fluffs of cotton drifted onto the floor, clinging to her hair like snowflakes. Andy walked away, laughing.

Lucy’s face darkened as she glared after the boy.

“We’ll see who ends up in hell Andy, we’ll just see!"
* * *
Andy felt pleased with himself as he headed towards the arcade. He hated clowns – ever since his father had gotten one to perform for his eighth birthday. BoBo the clown had stunk of whisky and urine, and had fallen into Andy’s cake while trying to do a cartwheel, before vomiting on Andy’s presents. It had been the worst day of his life.

He reached the arcade, and was about to go inside when he noticed another clown across the street. This one could have been a full size replica of Lucy’s doll – right down to the red frizzy hair and the fluffy buttons along the front of its white satin suit. The clown raised a hand, and slowly waved at Andy. He gave the clown the finger.

The clown looked at him for a moment and pushed the corners of its mouth down into a frown, before reaching up and plucking its eyes from its sockets. Black ooze dripped from the ragged holes in the clown’s face and it waved at him once more.

A knot of terror tightened in Andy’s stomach and the boy ran into the arcade to phone his mother.

Andy’s mother arrived ten minutes later, and he got into the car without a word. They had gone three blocks and the car had stopped at traffic lights when Andy saw the clown again, standing in the entrance to a shopping mall. It still held its eyeballs in it hand and waggled them in the boy’s direction before striding towards the stationary car.

“Mum! It’s the clown! It’s coming to get me!” he yelled at his mother.

“What clown? What’s the matter with you Andy?”

The lights turned green, and the driver behind her honked his horn. She put the car into gear and drove off just as the clown reached the edge of the sidewalk, it’s long yellow fingernails reaching for him. Andy watched it through the rear window as the car moved away. The clown was waving at him again. Andy shuddered and said nothing for the rest of the journey home.

Andy sat silently through his evening meal, and then went straight to his room.

“Andy!” his mother called from downstairs, “I hope you aren’t sitting up there in the dark!”

Andy got up and went to draw the curtains to his bedroom window.

Outside, in the back garden, stood the clown.

The clown turned its head up to Andy and slowly waved to him. It then started walking towards the back door of the house.

Andy’s stomach lurched as he heard two single raps from downstairs.

“Mum! Don’t answer the door!”

From the kitchen came the sound of breaking glass and the start of a scream that was abruptly cut off, followed by an agonizing silence.

“Mum?” Andy called, his voice wavering.

The sound of something heavy and hard hitting the floor came from downstairs. After a moment there was another sound. A rhythmic “Thwack, Thwack, Thwack. An image of long clown shoes leaving bloody footprints on the kitchen floor flashed into Andy’s mind. Getting louder…closer.

Andy fled to the bathroom and locked the door, tears streaming down his face.

The footsteps became muffled by the carpet in the hallway. A board creaked on the stairs.

Andy curled himself up into a ball behind the ceramic bath and tried to stifle his sobs, holding the scream that wanted to break free inside him. What had happened to his mother? He imagined her eyeless head lying on the kitchen floor next to her still twitching body.

Mum! A wave of grief flooded through him, tears flowing freely across the boy’s face.

The light from the hall dimmed as something obscured the frosted glass window. He knew what was out there, but was unable to resist the overpowering urge to look. Two firm raps resounded from the door. Maybe it was his Mum after all? Maybe she was OK?

He craned his head around the side of the bath.

The clowns face filled the window, the glass blurring the features, causing them to melt together into a nightmare mask of white and red. Its wide smile twisted into a grimace.

It lifted its hand and slowly waved at him, then placed a long yellow fingernail against the glass and began to trace a single word in wide red streaks.

His name. Andy. Written in his mother’s blood.

As the handle began to turn, Andy screamed.

Across the street, Lucy sat back on her bed. A smile played across her face as she cradled her clown doll in her arms.
"Fears of a Clown"
Copyright: © 2010 Graeme Reynolds
Graeme Reynolds has been called many things over the years, most of which are unprintable. By day, he breaks computer programs for a living, but when the sun goes down he hunches over a laptop and thinks of new and interesting ways to offend people with delicate sensibilities.

He lives somewhere in England with two cats, three delinquent chickens and a girlfriend that is beginning to suspect that there is something deeply wrong with him. Visit him at http://www.graemereynolds.com
*"Fears of a Clown" first published at Flashes in the Dark



Serial killers have been around for centuries. It is only over the last twenty-five years that it has been an accepted, if underground, means of artistic expression.

Often diminished through entertainment (TV shows, movies, etc.) such artist serial killers are deeper and more considered than popular media would lead us to believe.

Most artist serial killers operate in isolation and their achievements viewed by only small, often unsympathetic audiences. Their exhibitions are frequently cordoned and inaccessible, then quickly broken down by belligerent authorities.

This series of brochures seeks to inform the wider public of the aesthetics of these elusive artists and, we hope, to bring a broader understanding of their efforts.


Fitch Micklin


Born in 1971 in Gainsfield, Nebraska, Fitch Darnell Micklin and his three siblings were raised by an alcoholic prostitute mother. While many believe that such an upbringing is a precursor to artistic endeavours, none of Fitch's siblings pursued careers in the arts: one is a lawyer, another a foreman and of the third there is no trace.

Fitch was known for his art from an early age - elementary teachers frequently displayed his works on classroom walls. Fitch excelled at high school, of particular note was his bone folio - coarse paintings of skeletons, using ground and dyed bone paste as the paint base.

Following high school, Fitch was expelled from the Kent Art School in Gainsfield in 1990. The faculty disapproved of his installation piece "Badger dismembering a pure-breed show cat". In the documentation it was noted that the taxidermied family cat in the piece belonged to one of the faculty members.


First independent foray


During 1992 Nebraska police discovered three of Micklin's pieces in Omaha and Lincoln. Similar to his Kent piece, two of these involved modelled attack scenes: the pieces entitled "Mugger with 90-year-old" and "Woman eviscerates rapist". The third, "Male nurse self-injects morphine" was a separate commentary and caused a stir through the Nebraska medical community. The pieces were removed and buried. Photographic records remain sealed in the Nebraska police files.

Later co-ordination with Iowa officials suggested that a fourth piece found in Walnut soon after was possibly also Micklin's. Titled "Transitory man stabs woman", the piece was less aesthetic in its arrangement. Photographs of this are easily found through internet search - and it is clearly not Micklin's work. Micklin himself vehemently denied having been out of Nebraska (at the time) and was understandably furious at the damage to his reputation caused by such sub-standard copy-cat work.


Second phase work


In 1998 Micklin began to actively pursue the exhibition of his works. Rather than leaving installations to be found he had the new works delivered to galleries. His approach changed radically and this sets him apart from the usual serial killer artist.

From 1998 until 2002, Micklin removed a single bone from each of thirty people and created unique and individual works on these tibias, ulnas, tarsals, mandibles and so on. The remains of each body was left in situ - be that in a park, a car or their own bed.

Micklin intricately decorated these bones with a mix of scrimshaw, carving, painting and inlaying. These astonishing works are amongst the finest examples of Micklin's creativity.

The works usually arrived by delivery service at a gallery some months after the bone's removal. Most gallery owners did not display the works, but contacted authorities who immediately confiscated the artwork. A few fortunate people at the Cottonwood Shade Gallery in Pine Forks were able to view the piece "Bird Flight over Glacier National Park". The gallery owner was expecting a ceramic piece with a similar title from one of her regular artists and so Micklin's piece was displayed, if mislabelled. When the expected piece arrived, Micklin's work was unfortunately switched out (though to all accounts the other work was inferior and did not ultimately sell).

Perhaps the best known work from this period is his "Green River, River" - the femur from a woman in Green River, Wyoming, decorated from right to left with a flowing river which traces its way from the watershed through to the sea, including very detailed and technically correct pictures of many fish and invertebrates which populate the rivers of the western states. The bone was mounted horizontally on a stainless steel plinth and encased in a sealed cylindrical jar. The bone, at the request of the woman's family, was unfortunately destroyed.

Third phase - "The Silver Strangler"


From 2002 until 2008 Micklin was on hiatus. Many have suggested that his creativity was exhausted. Others say that investigations forced him to keep a low profile.

From June 2008 new pieces began arriving regularly at New York galleries. These bones were inlaid with silver leaf. The bone donors for these most recent pieces had been strangled and so, as is the penchant for the most popular serial killers, Micklin was given the somewhat auspicious name "The Silver Strangler".

His most notable artwork from this period was "Telluride mining riot", a piece which tells the story of the 1899 mine disputes progressively through a continuous silver image, which can be followed along the bone from top to bottom, rotating as a helix.

Despite some cleverly timed deliveries, none of the pieces were ever actually shown. There are photographs in New York Police Department records, and some of the bones are in the vaults. Families did not wish them returned.


The Future


Micklin's future activities remain uncertain. The last of the Silver Strangler pieces was delivered in May 2010, three weeks after his incarceration (his delivery routing was complicated, in part to avoid authorities, which explains the delay).

Micklin was awaiting trial for close to one hundred murders, but escaped and is currently described as being "at large". We can only hope for some more brilliance from this gifted artist before he is recaptured.

"Guide Number 3"
Copyright: © 2010 Sean Monaghan

Sean Monaghan's guides to serial killers have been published on numerous websites. As well as writing guides and brochures Sean tutors in creative writing and reviews books. More information at his website www.venusvulture.com