Lee stumbles down the street in a daze, arms pleading outward, revolver dangling from a limp finger. The blood on his shirt matches the blood on his face, the mess in his hair. Words form and escape from his passive lips with no one outside yet to hear them.

A neighbor catches sight from within his home. He sees the gun, sees the blood, and calls the police.

The officers arrive and gently remove the gun. They lead Lee to the back of the car. With humans in range, Lee’s words are heard, softly, slowly, with dignified purpose and careful confusion:

“I have killed god.”

Lee makes the headlines while he sits in a cell. The lawyer appointed has given up hope. Lee says, “I did good” and says nothing else.

The people outside, the people in the country, put Lee’s words onto t-shirts, emblazoned on lighters, collectable handguns with laser engraving. Lee gets mail from his newfound admirers.

The people out there, the people on TV, feign shock and point fingers in the other direction. The people read Lee’s notes:

“They said I could, so I thought I would.”

The outrage on TV is Lee’s best defense.

Lee doesn’t get it. Lee is bought for interviews. Lee opens his mouth, looks up, says, “I did right.”

The kids don’t get it. They wear Lee on their t-shirts. The hungry and scared quote Lee to feel strong.

Lee tried to feel strong, and Lee felt accepted. Lee saw the faces and Lee heard the words.

Lee was condoned and Lee pulled the trigger.

His head exploded, and Lee became real.

Lee gets the news that it’s time for a transfer. Lee is in handcuffs, head down, and led away. Guards open the van and Lee steps out between them. They make their way through the crowd to the door.

Jack steps forward, holds his gun to Lee’s belly. Jack pulls the trigger and speaks in Lee’s ear:

“I have killed god.”

Lee dies in acceptance and Jack goes to prison. Jack is a monster with delusions of grandeur. Lee is a martyr, a sign of the times.


Copyright: © 2011 Josh Myers


Josh Myers writes things like a good fishy and he eats and sleeps mostly. He's too fat and is going to die probably.

The last of the group made their way up the three steps and onto the bus. Thomas shut the door and studied the happy faces behind him from the rearview mirror. Like kids on a field trip. He hoped he could still summon that kind of excitement at their age. The youngest of the lot was 75.

The Sun and Fun Retirement Home had chartered this trip up the mountain for a day at the casino on the reservation. Thomas would earn time and a half as their driver. Maybe a few tips as well. He really needed the money but, after a restless night with little sleep, he didn’t feel well. In fact, the pleasant greetings from his passengers annoyed him. Nothing was fine about today, as one old woman had remarked. Nothing was fine about his life, when it came right down to it.

The gears ground as Thomas shoved the old bus into first, pulling away from the curb with a slight sway and shudder. As they made their way up the hill, he tuned out the excited chatter, turned his thoughts to Jenny instead.

The bitch didn’t deserve both house and alimony – she was the one who left. Normally, he didn’t spend time dwelling on the inequities, but for the last few days he couldn’t seem to think of anything else.

The dark mood started right after the accident in the store, when he got the stitches. Thomas brushed his fingertips against the bandage gingerly, although it didn’t hurt. He still had a headache; nothing seemed to touch it, not even the pills the doc prescribed for him. He hadn’t told his employer either, since the bottle said “do not drive.”

None of that had anything to do with his present state of mind. On any given day, Thomas could stuff his depression into a dark corner, ignore it and move on. Not so for the last four days, when an unfocused revenge dogged his every step.

As the bus wound around the last steep curve to reach the top, clarity breached Thomas’ thoughts. He knew what he had to do. The bitch wouldn’t get any more alimony out of him.

Laughter gave way to stunned silence in those first few moments. The bus jerked hard to the right. The tires left the pavement. Then the screaming started.

Thomas watched the view change from clouds to rocks as the bus nosedived on its way to a flip. His mad grin widened. He thought about the time he executed a belly flop in much the same way. It had been painful, too. Then his head hit the wheel. Thomas missed the rest of the action.

The bus didn’t make it all the way to the bottom. It landed on the road some 1500 feet below the top. No one lived to give thanks for that small mercy. The resultant explosion took care of that.

"Wild Ride"

Copyright: © 2011 Laura Eno


Laura Eno lives in Florida with a very tolerant husband, three skulking cats and an absurdly happy dog. She has a pet from the Underworld named Jezebel and a skull called Mr. Fluffy who help her write novels late at night. Please visit her strange imagination at http://lauraeno.blogspot.com

‘It’s a suicide note you can dance to, baby,’

I woke up this morning to fog drifting through my living room and a song stuck in my head. In a world where words hurt, these ones strangely soothed me and set my scars a tingle. My toes tapped air and I broke my own rule by getting up before noon.

‘It’s a suicide note you can dance to, baby,
that pain that gets us through.’

A smile found its way onto my face, it was weird, but I decided to just go with it. The forward momentum of motivation jerked me into my morning routine. The smile itched and I almost lost the song to a random thought about blood stains-how they taste and fade.

‘It’s a suicide note you can dance to, baby,
that pain that gets us through.
When you’re bleeding, you’re never alo-oo-ne.’

I stood in front of the mirror naked so I could berate myself out loud. I keep track of my failures by carving X’s on myself; I look like I’m wearing a fleshy plaid bodysuit. I traced the heart-shaped scar on my chest with a trembling finger and pondered the future.

‘It’s a suicide note you can dance to, baby,
that pain that gets us through.
When you’re bleeding, you’re never alo-oo-ne.
A pound of flesh will pay your dues,’

Next I felt hope, I think, because my normally steady fingers were jittery as I removed my razor blade from my necklace. I dug the blade into the scar and dragged it along the heart shaped outline as I had so many times before. Maybe this time would be different, maybe this time I could feel. The unscarred flesh inside the heart turned red as the disfigurement burst open in the razor's wake. The cut was perfect and I felt my blood-warm and sticky-flowing down my stomach. I felt nothing inside. I failed, yet again, but I have no more room for X’s. My smile did nothing but mock me. Good thing I can sing without lips.

‘It’s a suicide note you can dance to, baby
that pain that gets us through.
When you’re bleeding, you’re never alo-oo-ne.
A pound of flesh will pay your dues,
Oh, yeah, baby, it’s the self-mutilation blues.’

"The Self-Mutilation Blues"

Copyright: © 2011 Jonathan Moon


Jonathan Moon is the horrorcore author of Mr. Moon's Nightmares, the upcoming HEINOUS, and co-author of The Apocalypse and Satan's Glory Hole with Tim Long. You can keep one eye on him at all times by following his Monkey Faced Demon blog at http://www.mrmoonblogs.blogspot.com/.

Ruth Mason walked into the dentist office fifteen minutes early, even though she dreaded the appointment. She was early for everything. Her husband joked that she’d be early for her own funeral, but Ruth liked to think that she was punctual.
The bland beige office with its bland beige sofa did nothing to relax her tension. Neither did the two-month-old magazines she now flipped through without really seeing. Soft elevator music played in the background, but it annoyed rather than helped.
When the assistant finally called her back, 20 minutes late, Ruth jumped at the sound of her name. She wouldn’t be here at all except her tooth had really been bothering her for the last several days. There was no getting around it. She needed it fixed.
The assistant carried in a tray that the dentist would need, setting it on the small table beside her. The sunlight glinted off the metal array, making them look like dangerous weapons. Ruth’s hands began to sweat and she closed her eyes.
“The doctor will be with you shortly,” the assistant said and left the room.
Ruth was glad to be left alone. The girl was excessively cheerful, blending with the elevator music to create a nauseating experience.
Ms. Chirpy came back to take x-rays and left again. After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor arrived.
“It’s a good thing you came in before the tooth became infected.” Dr. Jessop examined the upper molar in Ruth’s mouth, comparing it to the x-ray. It needed a root canal without any further delay. He injected the lidocaine in several spots.
“The upper teeth are very close to the sinus cavity, which is a direct pathway to the brain. We wouldn’t want an infection to work its way in there, now would we?”
Ruth grunted her assent, wondering why dentists always chose to ask questions when their patients couldn’t answer. Maybe they taught that in dental school. Still, overall he was a kind man. She’d been coming to him for years.
Left alone in the chair while the anesthetic took effect, Ruth studied the same plaques on the wall that she’d seen a dozen times before. She never remembered to bring something to read in with her, although it’d be a blur since her nerves were always on edge here. A visit to the dentist wasn’t on her list of favorite outings.
Dr. Jessop came back in with another tray, covered in a white cloth. He set it down on a table behind Ruth’s head. After inserting a bite block into her mouth, he asked if she was ready.
Ruth gargled a response that made no sense and squeezed her eyes shut, just as she always did. That was why she missed the power drill with the 1/2” bit.
“I’ve often wondered just how close the sinus cavity really is to the upper teeth so I brought my own tools in this morning to experiment.”
The doctor hummed along to the song of the drill, adjusting angles to compensate for the lolled head of his patient.
“Thank you for being such a quiet patient, Ms. Mason. It makes the job so much more pleasant.”

"Bits and Pieces"

Copyright: © 2011 Laura Eno

Laura Eno lives in Florida with a very tolerant husband, three skulking cats and an absurdly happy dog. She has a pet from the Underworld named Jezebel and a skull called Mr. Fluffy who help her write novels late at night. Please visit her strange imagination at http://lauraeno.blogspot.com

Edgar was on a collision course with destiny. He just didn’t know it yet. Which is not unusual, if the scientific research on destiny is to be believed. In fact, according to an article by Caflisch et. al. that was recently published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results, a statistically significant majority of people who are on collision courses with destiny rarely, if ever, have any inkling of what is about to befall them. And so it was with Edgar.

When he woke up last Saturday morning, the world to Edgar seemed about as normal as it had seemed the Saturday before that, in addition to being as normal as the Saturday before that one and even more or less as normal as the Saturday before the Saturday that seemed as normal as the Saturday before the Saturday that found him waking up and finding the world pretty much as normal as ever, which puts us more or less right back to the Saturday that we started out talking about in case you got confused in there somehow. So Edgar got out of bed, fed the cat, lit a cigarette, turned on the television and started the coffee maker.

And that, my friends, is when destiny came knocking on his door. Now, in Edgar’s case, this particular destiny took the form of one Gertrude MacFarland, an attractive, blue-eyed, fair-haired young thing with the cutest little dimply cheeks who, it so happens, had just moved into apartment 2B across the hall. Not that destiny always takes the form of Gertrude MacFarland, mind you, nor does it necessarily come with blue eyes or fair hair or dimply cheeks, and in most cases neither does it live in apartments that are conveniently located right across the hall. It’s just that, in Edgar’s case, it did.

“Gee, I wonder who that could be,” mused Edgar upon hearing the knocking on his door. “Perhaps, if I’m lucky, it might be someone like the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol, complete with cameras and tv crew and a great big oversized check for millions and millions upon millions of dollars.” He took a step toward the door.

“Though I suppose it’s just as likely that it could be a squad of IRS agents come to arrest me for making some obscure, innocent mathematical miscalculation on last year’s tax return, and they’ll want to make an example out of me by throwing me in some cell block in a remote prison somewhere that nobody’s ever heard of, and I’ll find myself sharing a cell with some sort of unseemly criminal type who doesn’t bother to shower or bathe or brush his teeth, and the next thing you know, I’ll never be seen or heard from again.” Edgar took a step back.

Meanwhile, out in the hallway, Gertrude MacFarland was becoming impatient. She could hear the television playing. She could smell the coffee brewing. She could even hear someone muttering. Certain that somebody was home, but that perhaps they just didn’t hear her the first time she knocked, she rapped on the door a second time. For destiny, it seems, has a way of being persistent like that when it’s on a collision course with someone.

“Oh my,” said Edgar upon hearing the knocking for a second time upon his door. “Whatever it is, it’s not going away.” And so, he walked over and opened the door, because to continue putting off his encounter with destiny would be foolish in a story of this length, especially when you consider that the whole thing is supposed to be about Edgar being on a collision course with destiny, and if he never gets around to opening the door, then we’ll never get around to seeing how it all turns out in the end, and the story might as well end itself right here. Not that that would be a bad thing, necessarily. It’s just that, at this point in the story, Edgar has not yet collided with anything even remotely resembling destiny. So, while you may be starting to feel like there’s something else you’d rather be doing right now – you know, instead of sitting there reading this story – well, we’re not quite done yet, okay?

“Hi, I’m Gertrude,” said the vision of loveliness standing before him. “I just moved into apartment 2B across the hall, and I was wondering if I could borrow a cup of sugar.”

Edgar felt his heart skip a beat. A twinkle glistened in Gertrude’s eye. The two of them fell hopelessly, helplessly, impetuously, and immediately in love, and they were married the very next Saturday.

They did not, however, live happily ever after. In fact, their happiness only lasted but a few hours at best. For it was on their wedding night that Gertrude revealed to Edgar that she had had a sex change operation a couple years back, and that, while her name was now Gertrude, she had started out life as a boy named Gerald.

“Gerald?” said Edgar in disbelief. “No, that can’t be. Please, Gertrude, please say it isn’t so.”

“I’m sorry, Edgar, but it’s true. I used to be a guy – a guy just like you, in fact.”

“Oh, Gertrude, if you only knew. You see, I used to have this twin brother, but somehow we were accidentally separated at birth. All I ever knew about him was his name. And his name was … his name was … Gerald!”

Fortunately for Edgar, the following Tuesday a squad of agents from the IRS showed up at his door, placed him under arrest, mumbled something about making an example out of him, and whisked him away to an undisclosed prison located somewhere in New Mexico.

They say he was never happier.

"Who's That Knocking at My Door?"

Copyright: © 2011 Michael Pelc


Jessica took the cookies out of the oven and set them on the counter to cool. Five special Valentine’s Day cookies, each six inches across, one for her and each of her friends to eat together. It was a of hers to bake elaborate cookies and have all her friends over for Valentine’s Day. They looked forward to it every year. It kept them all together no matter what circumstances tried to nudge them apart.

A few hours later, the cookies were cool enough to decorate with icing and candy. Jessica picked up one of the five pans and turned to take it to where the toppings were. The pan slipped from her hand, flipped over in mid-air and landed facedown on the kitchen floor. The cookie shattered, chocolate chips flew everywhere, some rolled under the refrigerator never to be seen again.

Jessica bent over and carefully picked up the tray. The cookie was upside down in a hundred jagged pieces. She knelt on the floor, crossed her arms and pouted like a little girl. All that time she spent on those cookies, making them just special for all of her friends, even resisting eating them herself. Her friends would be here in less than an hour and now she was a cookie short and she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by leaving them out.

She had to kill one of her friends.

But which one? William? No, he had given her rides to work for a week when her car was broken. What about Alice? Jessica couldn’t remember anything Alice had done for her except watch movies and go to bars. She supposed that was enough to let her live. Then there was Andy. She liked him and wished for the love of God he’d make a move on her but he never had. Then again, he did like the same music as Jessica. That left Sally. Sally was the drama queen of the group, but that’s exactly why everyone liked her.

Jessica sighed and sank deeper to the floor, staring at the broken cookie. It was going to be a difficult choice. All her friends were redeeming in some way. How could she choose just one?

Then it occurred to Jessica: what about herself? There were still four cookies left. If she were dead, then no one would know what had happened and none of her friends would have to be left out! Perfect!

Jessica swept up the mess and took the trash out so there’d be no evidence for her friends to discover later. She set the remaining four cookies on plates, iced and decorated them beautifully, took a step back and admired her work. She turned around and chose a knife from the wooden block next to the microwave. She decided to use one with a smooth edge so it wouldn’t grind against any bones. Then Jessica stood in the middle of the kitchen and shoved the knife through her heart. She dropped to her knees. Then to her face... She felt better now... Now there were enough cookies to go around... No one...would be...left out... She smiled and closed her eyes for the last time.


Copyright: © 2011 James Steele


James Steele is a writer in Ohio. He is often asked to sum up his life’s story in a single paragraph. James is very depressed by how easy this is. He has been published in the Magazine of Bizarro Fiction (issue 3), Anthrozine (issue 18), Different Worlds Different Skins v.2, and Planet Magazine. His bizarre action/comedy novel, “Felix and the Sacred Thor,” is published through Eraserhead Press.

His blog is http://daydreamingintext.blogspot.com/

When Aaron Taubman walked through the front door of his one-story stucco house, he‘d never been more excited in his whole life. He peered across the living room, at his wife Diane sitting at the dining room table, and felt an electric current raise the hairs on the nape of his neck. She’d had that same look on her face that all men fear; the look that all men try to avoid. He’d better choose his words wisely.

“How was your day, honey?” He asked, letting his briefcase slide out of his hand and fall onto the couch.

“I’d like to say it was good but then I’d be lying.”

The glaze over her sharp, dark eyes set a fire to his chest that he thought was indigestion. The lines around her temples and along the corners of her mouth were as noticeable under the chandelier as if they were moles.

“What happened?” He asked, walking around to her side of the table to lay a kiss on her forehead.

“Sit down and I’ll tell you.”

He did as she asked. She slid a white envelope from under the salt and pepper shakers sitting in the middle of the table, opened it and slid out a colorful 4x8 photo. She put it facedown on the table and slid it across to him. She watched him look at the photo, watched the mystery on his face bloom into a mask of anger and disappointment.

“What the...the...”

“Don’t worry she’s gotten enough slack from me today.”

“Well she hasn’t gotten it from me.” He said as he stood up from the table.

“Just relax.” She said, waving her hand at him. “She doesn’t need it. Not now, anyway.”

“I told you.”

“You told me what?”

“I told you to send her to boarding school but you said ‘she wouldn’t like it there’. That’s what boarding school is for.”

“Excuse the hell out of me if I see a problem with my daughter being ten-thousand miles away at some boarding school in Sweden. I do love her and I do want to see her on a daily basis.”

“That’s what the Internet is for.”

“Don’t tell me that Aaron.” She said. “Look what happened to Jeff.”

“What about Jeff?”

“He’s...” She stumbled, then regained herself. “he’s...It doesn’t matter. What would she have learned in boarding school that she can’t learn here?”

“They send kids to boarding school for a reason, honey.”

“Your parents never sent you to boarding school.”

“That’s not the point, Diane.” He said.

“It’s not like she killed someone.”

Diane stood up from her seat and opened the wooden door behind her. Aaron’s heart pounded against his chest; sweat beads broke out across his forehead as he walked toward his daughter’s bedroom. The short distance between the other end of the table and her doorway seemed to stretch on forever. When he stood in the doorway of her bedroom, his rapid heartbeat ceased to a regular rhythm. The room had white walls and beige carpet with a small lamp sitting on a miniature white table.

All of this was familiar to him. The same thing had happened to Jeff before the truth came out and that farmer in South Dakota shot him in the chest.

In the far left corner of the room, a young brunette girl was sitting on a small mound of hay and twigs. A small television sat before her, spreading a muted blue glow across the wall; on the screen Clive Owen jumped off the ledge of an apartment building, leaped into a red Convertible and drove down a wet gray street.

“Hey, gorgeous.” He said, walking into the room.

“Hi, Dad. I guess you and Mom are really mad at me, huh?”

“No, honey. It’s okay. These things happen all the time.” He spoke in a reassuring tone. “Your mother and I are going have to get through it but don’t you worry. You have our full support.”

“Oh, thank you Daddy and don’t worry. I’ll go to school and do my homework and take care of it. I swear.”

“It’s okay. We love you no matter what.”

“Daddy, I love you.”

When she hugged him, he looked at the picture Diane had given him and compared it to the mound of hay and twigs sitting under her. He could also compare it to the three-foot pearly-white egg sitting inside of the nest, waiting to meet its mother and bring a new member to The Taubman Family.

"Unexpected Pregnancy"

Copyright: © 2011 Brian J. Smith


Brian J. Smith has been featured in Drabblecast, Darkest Before The Dawn, The Forbidden Zone, New Voices In Fiction, Crooked, Postcard Shorts, The Horror Zine, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Thrillers, Killers and Chillers and Withersin Magazine. His story “For Rachel” was featured in “And The Nightmare Begins…The Horror Zine: Volume One. He currently lives in Chauncey, Ohio with his mother, brother and their six dogs.

I saw my neighbor outside trimming hedges and walked over our property line.

I asked, “May I try?”

He said, “Sure.”

So I took the hedge trimmers and started trimming his hedges.

“I like doing this.” I said.

“Yeah?” he said.

“Sure,” I said.

“You want to switch lives?” he said.

“Sure,” I said.

We switched lives. Now I’m wearing a hard hat, on a steel beam way up in the sky, connected by wires, constantly fearing death—with no other skills or motivation to obtain them. He’s sitting at a desk in a blue suit and white collar, trying to figure out what it means to hedge, in the financial world. His newly acquired analysis skills compel him to search the meaning of it all, though he’s always coming up short.

I sleep with his portly wife missing part of her nose in a boomerang incident, and he puts up with my hot wife’s perpetual bitching, smelly farts, and lack of pussy output. I hold contempt for his juvenile delinquent children who steal my beer and cigarettes. He’s left raising my developmentally disabled son, with his perpetual drool, who can’t wipe himself.

Next June, I’m out trimming the hedges.

My neighbor crosses our property line.

He says, “May I try?”

And I say, “Sure.”

He takes the hedge trimmers and snaps the blades around his throat. His head drops back like a PEZ Dispenser, dispensing a fountain of blood. I take the hedge trimmers and do the same thing he just did.

"Trimming Hedges"

Copyright: © 2011 Randall E. Cunningham


Why you’re here, you’ve got no clue.

“Someday,” Sari the landlady said, “You’ll be back. Begging for rooms. ‘Hey, Sar,’ you’ll say, ‘anything available? My old place, maybe?’”

You’d die first. Back then you had to get out fast.

Still, here you are, outside the old building. Waiting for . . . who? An hour ago, you were on a plane. A tiny, empty Bacardi bottle’s still in your pocket.

The old street’s changed. Punks in baggy jeans trudge by. Fancy new buses stop at the light, barking out route numbers for the blind.

You smell smoke, like leaves are burning. But it’s January. Before that plane took off, they de-iced the wings. Maybe a fire. But . . . where?

How sad the building looks. Like an old barfly, needing a drink.

And, speaking of which . . .

In the foyer stands Felice, half-cigarette in mouth, peering at you. In a stained pink robe and fuzzy-wuzzies.

Damn, she got old, you think, as she opens the door. Older. Chestnut hair more gray at the roots, skin like that leather jacket you stole at a garage sale. Even her hands, clutching her mail, look gnarled.

“Nicky?” she says, in disbelief.

“Sari around?” You can’t believe you’re saying this. “I want my old place back.”

She should look delighted. Back then, you were pals. Shared jugs of Carlo Rossi, cold cuts, and stale Wonder bread.

She flicks the cigarette onto the steps. “I think it’s for rent.”

Now you smell Tide, from the laundry room downstairs. Felice was always washing clothes. Once she got crabs from fucking all the guys at the bar. That was the last time you used the washer.

You smell Tide, with smoke underneath it.

“Gotta see the super,” she says.

“The super?” Back then, there was no super. Sari was too cheap. When it snowed, she paid some neighbor’s kid to shovel. If your toilet broke, or the heat ran out, you were fucked.

“Walt,” she says, “In 4-A.” She pulls her robe tighter around her. “He takes care of us.”

In the foyer, the smell is acrid. Like burned pizza. Back then, it meant one thing. “You pass out with the oven on?”

She smiles. “Ya think?”

In the hallway, you realize you forgot to check the mailboxes. See who still lives here, besides Felice. Maybe the Puerto Ricans who always fed you.

“Raoul and Nayda?” you say. “They still here?”

Felice doesn’t answer. If they were still here, you’d smell pernil. And not burned, either.

Was the hallway always this creepy? Like in those Japanese Grudge movies, where the dead fucking walk. The walls and stairs look waxy, runny. And the floor . . . If you dropped a quarter, you’d leave it.

“Yo!” yells a male voice from upstairs. “Ya comin’, or not?”

“Fuck off!” Felice says.

And these stairs. Were there always this many? Your legs ache from climbing them. First, sitting on that plane for hours. Now all these damn stairs.

On the third landing, somebody passes you, on his way down.

“Mist—” You have to look twice.

Same messy hair. Same plaid shirt, ripped at the elbow. Mister Bowman, the retired teacher, who always trudged by, like the world had fucked him over, twice. Who always got your mail for you, when you were away.

Mister Bowman, who was . . .

“Heard he was dead,” you whisper to Felice.

She smiles. “He’s real quiet.”

The way you drank, you mixed up lots of shit. You could’ve—you must’ve— been wrong about old Bowman.

“Finally!” You’re on the top floor.

Outside your old flat, 4-B, stands a guy . . . in white shorts! Sandy-haired, lean, and tanned, yet. Like he just left Miami. He checks you out good. “Sari said you’d be back,” he says, leering. Like he knows you.

“Maybe I’m not.”

They both smirk. It’s you who rushed back on a flight that should’ve been cancelled. With no luggage. Just that empty Bacardi shot.

But why? Your new place was palatial: high ceilings, hardwood floors. A fucking doorman. What brought you back?

“Maybe,” Walt the super said, “You’re homesick.”

With a sly smile, he unlocks your old door.

Suddenly, you’re terrified. As he holds it open for you, you back away, into the hallway.

At once, the other doors open. Silently, tenants walk out, past you: a bleary-eyed old guy, a husky young guy, a redhead with a mulatto toddler . . .

That smoke-stench is overwhelming, now. Your nose and throat feel raw.

In your old doorway, Walt beckons.

You expect the place to look like you left it: mismatched furniture, secondhand fridge, classic rock posters on dingy walls. But you’re wrong.

Everything is charred, shredded. From the couch and mattress, springs protrude like corpses’ guts. Rugs all soggy. Floors squishy. Some walls black from smoke, others just . . . gone. Only steel skeletons holding these rooms in place.

“Gotta cig?” Walt asks Felice, in the ruined kitchen.

You gasp. The right side of his body, face down to shin, is black, blistered. Wisps of sandy hair project, like a cowlick, from his skull.

Felice’s skin sizzles. “You should quit,” she says. As she shakes out a cig, her finger breaks off. “Things’ll kill you.”

They laugh, as you run out.

In the hallway, black smoke fills your lungs, keeps you from seeing the stairs. From all over the building comes insistent beeping: fire alarms that rang too late.

“Help!” You choke on the word.

As you sink down, you recall screams, the world rushing past you, that wild, spinning feeling as your plane plunged to the ground . . .

No, you think. It can’t be. It’s got to be a dream!

Slow, hollow footsteps, as something putrid trudges up the stairs.

Mr. Bowman, who’s been dead the longest.

You scream.

Worms crawl through what’s left of his face. For the first time ever, he smiles.

And hands you your mailbox key.

Copyright: © 2011 Cindy Rosmus


Cindy Rosmus is a New York textbook editor by day, a hardboiled Jersey female by night. Her fiction has appeared in Black Petals, The Beat, The Cynic, Red Fez, Zygote in My Coffee, Hardboiled, NVF, MediaVirus, The Monsters Next Door, Out of the Gutter, Devil Blossoms, 13th Warrior Review, Mysterical-E, A Twist of Noir, and Beat to a Pulp. She has four collections of stories out: Angel of Manslaughter, Gutter Balls, Calpurnia’s Window, and No Place Like Home. She is the editor of the e-zine, Yellow Mama. She is also a thrill seeker, a Gemini, and a Christian.

Frank Peodius was pounding away at his keyboard, frantically searching for the best dating site. So far this year, he's registered at five costly ones--Yahoo Dating and Plentyoffish--searching for that special somebody.

He had just finished entering his credit card information into another site when the cell phone rang. He picked the cell phone up and held it to his ear with the aid of his right shoulder as he continued filling out the required information for membership.

"Hello," he said into the cell phone.

"Frank. It's me, Dennis."

Dennis was Frank's shrink and best friend. They'd known each other since childhood, both spending the majority of their childhoods in the same orphanage.

"Frank," Dennis scolded, sounding more like a psychiatrist than a friend, "You're not wasting all your money and time on another dating website, are you?"

A pause. Frank was pissed. Why was this bastard speaking so patronizingly when he wasn't even on his couch? Finally, after his anger and shock had finally subsided Frank said, "No."

Dennis knew his friend was lying.

"Frank, how many hours, how many sessions have I spent saying it isn't healthful for you to meet women online?"

Silence. Dennis had waited for a response, but nothing came. Then he continued.

"That's why tonight I've decided to set you up with one of my clients, Rosemary. Beautiful woman--she's a good fifteen years older than you; but I know for a fact that that shouldn't be a problem, considering how you've always liked your women a little older than you."

Which wasn't exactly true. Frank had liked them a lot older than him. He was an avid collector of mature pornography featuring women in their sixties, seventies and eighties getting plowed by men young enough to be their grandsons.

At first Frank had protested, but Dennis had finally talked him into it. "Do you really want to get better? Do you want to, if not entirely forget how fucked up your childhood was, start living a semi-normal life? If so, you're going to have to learn how to cultivate normal relationships like everybody else. You must learn how to not fear intimacy; to accept it as a way of life." A pause, then Dennis continued, "Not everybody will abandon you like your parents did, Frank."

Ouch. Frank had gotten the point.

He ripped a piece of paper from out of his printer and then he asked Dennis, "Okay, Mr. Know-it-all, where the hell am I supposed to meet her?

*   *   *

The place was a cozy little Italian eatery. Every table was draped in red-and-white checkered design tablecloth, and at the far end of the restaurant, near the restrooms and bar area, stood a middle-aged man in a blue pin-striped suite singing Sinatra via a cheesy little karaoke concoction.

"And now, the end is near, and so I face, the final curtain..."

He noticed an elderly woman, of about sixty, sitting alone and expectantly at a table in the middle of the restaurant.

He approached her.


"Sit down, hun." She smiled pleasantly. Her voice had seriously aroused him, having a gravelly-yet-sensual sound to it--like Lucille Ball, when she got really old.

They sat there for two hours--talking, drinking wine, and having an all-around good time.

It was ten o'clock, and three tall glasses of White Zinfiendel later, when she suggested they take a cab back to her place.

"Why not?" Frank beamed.

*   *   *

The second they got in the apartment she started kissing his neck, and then biting at it; he pushed her on the bed and then he jumped on top of her.

Giggling ensued. "Oh Rosemary; Rosemary!"

They went at it three separate times that night, then one time in the morning. After the fourth serving Rosemary lit a Virginia Slim cigarette, puffed at it and then she passed it over to Frank.

Frank, for the first time in his life, was content. I am truly blessed, he thought. The next time I see Dennis I'm going to give him a big hug. Bless that man and his sound advice; bless him to hell!

As he fumbled his left hand carelessly on the nightstand for his glasses he accidientially knocked something over. Crack.

It was the sound of grass breaking.

"Sorry, I'll get that," he said. Then he said again, "I'm so sorry!"

"Don't worry about it," she said, exhaling smoke.

It was a framed photo of a young boy--wait a minute! He looked oddly familiar.

"Rosemary--who is this?"

Rosemary sighed, looking a little sad. "That's my boy, Frank. I was forced to give him away for adoption when I was seventeen and--"

Frank, red-faced and crying, collapsed to the floor.

"What's wrong, lover?" Rosemary had said.

"Peodius Complex"

Copyright: © 2011 Jack Bristow


Jack Bristow, an all-out weirdo from New Mexico, has written for several online magazines and even one print one. Follow him: @Jackbristo

A monolithic structure juts abruptly from a vast and isolated wheat field. An entire population of miniscule creatures screams in unison, driven mad. Insects move in suicide cult lines to dive into and explode upon the structure. Guts and yellow stains soon turn the Monolith into a violent eruption of modern art. The contrast is shocking and sudden.

The Old Farmer can’t believe it.

The crops become safe, no longer the victims of thousands of gnawing maws. They grow fat and stooped with the heaviness of their bounty. The Old Farmer becomes a rich man. He dies with pennies lining his pockets years later.

Everyday more insects fly into the Monolith, adding splatters of expression to the hulking mass. The Children of the Old Farmer find themselves locked inside of cars on the interstate, driving home to shove their father into the Earth. They move in from all directions to cover him in dirt.

A grasshopper batters its head against the structure. Soon its body lies inert at the base, its brains adding stain to the stones. The Children’s feet crunch over gravel in long forgotten driveways. They trample over weeds and dirt, old steps, creaky wooden farmhouse floorboards, matted carpets. They breathe in heavy aromas of cigarette smoke and senescence. Windows rimmed with dust allow a dim view of the Monolith.

A daughter moves a finger through the dust, swirling designs into the panes. Swirling fingerprints. The Monolith grabs at her attention.

“What’s that?” she asks, pulling two brothers from their reveries.

They look.

In the space of ten seconds countless ants dive from the structure. Their bodies erupt in unseen bubbles as they return to the Earth, adding gore.

One brother breaks the silence that is not silence so much as it is mourning.

“The Monolith,” he says. “Dad told me about it a few times. He said it was just kind of there one morning.”

The daughter asks, “Did he paint it or something? It is incredibly colorful.”

“I don’t think so. If he did he didn’t mention it to me.”

A Praying mantis flies into a protrusion of hardened stinkbug intestines, impaling herself through the thorax and dying without unfolding her arms. She is forever fossilized in this moment of supplication.

The other brother says, “The color is bugs.”

“Bugs?” Swirls settle into the glass, crop circles on a window.

The other brother nods. “Yeah, that’s what dad said. He said the day that thing showed up in the field, all these bugs started killing themselves on it.”

A collective shaking of heads.

“I guess he went pretty crazy there, near the end.”

A millipede and a centipede spend the better part of an hour eating one another’s legs. They bleed yellow pus onto the structure. Caked wings, brittle as old Bible paper, flap languidly in a passing breeze, long since removed from living bodies.

The Children sell the farmhouse. Each child grows and withers, becoming bent old men and women. Soon enough they too are returned to the Earth and covered in dirt, a portion of their father’s pennies handed down to their own Children.

The Diaspora is no longer reserved for insects and arachnids. The long arm of carnage now reaches to include rabbits, rock chucks, weasels and raccoons.

Fur mats the base of the Monolith, pasted with blood and entrails. The farmhouse settles into itself, until finally it collapses. The wheat dies, untended, the blades heavy and rotten. A nearby town has faded to ruin and memories.

There is no life to be found for hundreds of miles.

The Monolith stands immobile in the desolate field.

A mindless pillar of death without purpose, without end.

Then, the people come...

"The Color is Bugs"

Copyright: © 2011 Dustin Reade


Dustin Reade's fiction has appeared in the magazines "Encounters", "Golden Visions", "Nerve Cowboy", and "Sideshow Fables", online at "The New Flesh", and roughly two dozen antholgies for Static Movement, Pill Hill Press, Living Dead Press, and Lame Goat Press. He is an Atheist and a staunch Bigfoot supporter.

The old man walked among the flock gathered in his makeshift church, taking stock of their nubile, barely legal bodies, comparing them to his own withered countenance… when he heard a sharp scratch and saw a dark shadow moving at the speed of illusion across the candyglass window depicting a well-hung Christ dangling his manhood before a flock of salivating children… before he could blink the shadow repeated it’s whip-like movement… there was no way in hell that was a flying squirrel (hell, the word repeated in his inner monologue… hell).

Days before, two men had come to the deepest part of the jungle, where the treetops were so thick that even the African sun, whose ego boiled the droplets of filthy water in distended bellies could not penetrate, where she, Sekhmet, once Hathor, cow now lion had lived in solitude, so much so that she did not even think to hide her bared breasts from the first men she'd lain eyes on in years. Sekhmet pulled her razor-edged Ida, emasculated them in every sense of the word, returned it to the sheath and sped off into the realms of legend, while as the men lay bleeding, her sister Bast masturbated in under a blanked of misanthropic shadows, far removed from the African sunscape.

 Sekhmet had refused the peace offering they'd brought on the old man's behalf, knowing the difference between a virtuous man and a hole in the world. Her sharpened teeth shinier than the shoes of selfmade archons, her conscience as clean as a gas station lavatory in Quito, the War-Goddess stalked across the Atlantic, moving in on the homeland of her chosen target... New York City.

And there she was, outside the old man's window, a shadow bouncing just out of sight, to let him know that all that he had built died tonight.

The old man could smell the blood-warm scent of his fate even before the candyglass shattered and She stood black furred and tall before him, smiled and pulled a small hunting knife from a tight leather sheath (this was not the wide sword blade of her Ida, but a smaller crescent tool, meant for pain of a more delicate nature), but the old man looked back to his naked flock now shivering in the rush of a Manhattan winter, brought on he the broken window, and stood his ground, saying only, in a betrayed warble, "Never trust a God who throws out his heart."

Though the old man thought he would find peace, he found instead that his grey matter was shifting, writhing, transforming into something else, his mind filled with warm, decent thoughts, fathers having ice cream cones with their children, monks chanting words of gratitude to a world they knew was imperfect, orgasms not paid for with money or deceit, great acts of anonymous altruism, hope, goodness, life that was life, the raw juicy electric bittersweet burning truths of the human potential that he had never realized and lived to vanquish were there where once his rotten porcine brain had been.

SHE was making him feel these things, and as he began to cry she handed him the knife... he felt guilt for the very first time in life as he slit his own throat before his sheep, and perhaps, in the end, it might have served to him as come small comfort that his funeral was vigorously attended... that is if you counted the maggots.

"Of Mice, And Men, And Cats"

Copyright: © 2011 Garrett Cook & Ash Lomen

* The authors would like to mention that this story was created using Alan M. Clark's word tech, as shown in his new book BONEYARD BABIES.

“Shit man, why’s the money bleeding?

Gold stuttered, clearly embarrassed. “I, uhh... it’s the only shit I could snag.”

“You’re telling me that menstrual fucking money is the only shit you could get your filthy fucking hands on?” Frankincense threw down his cards. “Fuck this. I ain’t playing for no bleeding money.”

Gold got a hold of his stack of soggy, pungent bills. Myrrh sat there, cards still in his hand. His smooth, featureless face could show no sign of understanding the card game was over, but he must have heard the bickering. He still had ears. Frankincense popped the cooler across the dim room open and removed a forest green syringe. The smell of sulfur dominated that of menstrual blood as Frankincense pumped the Nitro into his veins. The rush dilated his pupils. Myrrh turned his face towards the commotion.

“Ohhhh shit, I need to get moving now!”

Frankincense kicked the door down, and ran outside. He tackled a car door, broke the window. Gold watched from his busted door, leaning against the non-jagged side of the frame. Myrrh continued sitting at the card table, but he put his hand; a straight flush stared at the ceiling.

Frankincense ran back onto Gold’s porch panting. “Shit, I got the craziest idea ever. Let’s shoot up a school. Let’s shoot up a fucking school.”

Gold looked over his shoulder to Myrrh, who gave no response, nor any sign of hearing the statement whatsoever. He turned back to Frankincense’s grinning face. Gold sighed, then smiled back.

It was decided. They would shoot up a fucking school.

*   *   *

Frankincense’s Nitro-fueled ass brought down the front door of Stanley Timpleton Memorial High School. His rifle swung in arcs as he belted out screaming laughter from behind his Spider Man mask. Gold, always more serious and somber, donned a killer clown mask and jumped into the turmoil as they both shot panicking teenagers. Even Myrrh wore a mask, a rendition of an anime school girl. Gold would never admit it, but he thought Myrrh looked kind of cute with it on.

The bullets tore through the crowd, and each student struck shattered into thousands of fragments. The shards created even more wounds among the students, these ones burping blood. The crowd quickly lessened, leaving behind a casserole of broken glass and liquid rubies.

Gold flew up the stairs, picking out stragglers. He was thankful that the rubbery mask deflected most of the debris from his victims.

Frankincense shot up with some more Nitro, then ripped through the cafeteria, where much of the student body thought they could find shelter under the tables and in the kitchens. Automatic fire made quick work of them. A cornered lunch lady screamed when his gaze fell on her.

“That’s right, squeal like a piggy!”

He squealed in ecstasy himself as he blew her fragile brains into the wall behind her. Growing tired of the glass rounds, Frankincense loaded his rifle with jelly shots. He raced towards the window, and unleashed squishy hell on the runners. Soon, the back lawn of Timpleton High was smothered with mounds of red jelly.

Ninety seconds into the assault, and Myrrh had not fired a single shot. Standing just inside the front door, he was the first to hear sirens.

Gold’s boots crunched over remains while he looked for survivors. Around a corner, he saw Frankincense; he was pumping in more Nitro. He caught sight of Gold.

“Ha! You think you’re really fucking funny, huh? Really fucking funny?! I’ll show you funny!” He brandished a large bolt in his hand. “I call this one the motherfucking Midas touch! Think you’re real funny, fucking clown, fucking funny... You’re not fucking funny!”

Gold was shot dead center in the back in his attempt to flee. His second to last thought was how the fuck Frankincense loaded the gun so fast. His last thought was of cats in Myrrh’s sexy mask licking bloody glass clean. Before he hit the ground, he froze solid. Gold returned to his namesake.

*   *   *

Evidence of a fire alongside the shooting was what called the fire engine to Timpleton. Myrrh sat in the driver seat of the truck, precisely steering it away from the massacre. Reports from the radio informed him that the first responders found one shooter dead, the other idly screaming obscenities and kicking doors down. His gun was discarded, useless after a large caliber shot wrecked the barrel. The next report stated that the second shooter was shot dead after he turned on an officer screaming, “You’re a fucking joke!” and attempting to grab him. No word yet on the number of casualties, but it was believed that there were no more shooters.

Myrrh drove silently away, the thought of the menstrual money he was about to pick up for seeing those two bottom feeders dead arousing him immensely.

"Frankincense, Gold & Myrrh"

Copyright: © 2011 Joseph M. Bouthiette, Jr.


Joseph M. Bouthiette, Jr. is a young writer of surreal and bizarre tales, previously published on Staring At the Walls ezine.