The man in the adjacent apartment used to listen to sitcoms all night long. The noise pollution of weak storylines and canned laughter bled through the prefabricated walls like noxious gas into a death chamber. I didn’t sleep for days. I have always suffered from severe insomnia. The tenant’s name was Pharat and he was from Istanbul. I knocked on his door once and asked him to turn the television down a few notches. He gave me a morose look and puffed on the cigarette dangling under his thick moustache.

“Yes, yes, I will turn it down,” he said in a heavy Turkish accent.

The noise continued for about a week. I became convinced he was trying to get rid of me. My days became miserable and groggy and I considered breaking into his apartment to seal his cable outlet with calk.

Once I finally put in a noise complaint, everything stopped. I didn’t hear anything for a few days. It was wonderful catching up on my sleep. On a Saturday afternoon, however, I saw the door to his apartment was open and Chester the maintenance man was vacuuming the bare carpet. Pharat’s things were gone.

“Is he gone for good?” I asked.

“Afraid so,” he said. Chester was smiling. “I didn’t much care for him. Strange man. Thought he owned everything.”

I caught up on my sleep and continued to live my life as usual until a young girl named Cynthia moved in. Cynthia was a college student and enjoyed having loud sex with her a revolving cast of equally loud young men. It wasn’t quite as annoying as Pharat having the sitcoms on at full blast, but overtime I started losing sleep again to the blare of her nightly escapades. She liked to knock on my door and borrow things as well. I never did see my broom again once she was finally gone.

I had a good rapport with my landlady: Mrs. Gonzalez. She sent me home with tinfoil trays of hot tamales or huevos rancheros sometimes when I stopped by to pay rent or just talk. She always said I was her favorite tenant. I think I reminded her of her son, if she ever had one. The Hispanic children in the neighborhood spread rumors that she was an Aztec witch. They’d dare each other to sneak into the apartment complex on Halloween. Chester normally kicked them out.

I knocked on her door with the check in hand.

“Steven,” she said. “You look awful.”

“That’s what my boss said.” I had bags under my bloodshot eyes and a permanent headache that congealed into a nasty scowl I couldn’t help. “Here’s the rent.”

“What’s going on, Steven?”

“Remember Pharat?”

“Of course, he violated his lease. I still can’t find the deadbeat.”

“Well, the college student next door isn’t much quieter,” I said. I felt like a crotchety old man having to complain about my neighbors, but I was getting tired of the 4 a.m. hallucinations and dosing off for brief intervals at work.

“I’ll tell her to be quieter.”

“I appreciate it.”

“I was looking at putting sound proof barriers into the walls but the cost of installation is ridiculous.”

“Honestly, I think the walls are too thin for a sound proof barrier.”

Cynthia became quieter and didn’t renew her lease after a few months. Once again the apartment was empty, and I lived in general peace. The family below me had a rambunctious Dalmatian, but, unfortunately, the dog drowned after getting tangled in the tarpaulin covering the pool. I was the one who found it and pulled it from the water. It was difficult watching the children cry as they realized that Lucky wasn’t coming back.

“I figure he was chasing after a possum. They scavenge in the dumpsters ’round here,” their father said. He was probably right. I often saw the raggedy little demons as they hung upside down from tree limbs by their naked, pink tails or scampered across the concrete like giant, mutant rats. The South was infested with them.

*   *   *

The day after Saint Patrick’s Day, three hard knocks hit my front door and rousted me from the depths of my hangover. It was Chester.

“What’s going on?”

“There’s a leak coming from your place.”

“No way,” I said. “Show me.”

He stepped into my apartment with his leather utility belt on. It looked heavy and uncomfortable. “There’s a dark sludge leaking out through the Belmonts’ bathroom ceiling. Smells like hell. I hope to God it’s not the plumbing.”

We checked the pipes underneath my sink and did a preliminary check around the toilet. There was nothing leaking through the floor.

“You know I’m not exactly above the Belmonts,” I said.


“They’re apartment is bigger than mine.”

“What are you suggesting?”
“Could the leak be coming from the next apartment over?”

Chester stroked his beard. “Let’s take a look.”

We stepped out onto the balcony and he searched his enormous ring of keys. The door opened with a long creak and we stepped into the barren foyer. There were stains of every color peppering the better part of the rug. Chester flipped the switch but the lights had been disabled, naturally. It was morning but the apartment was still fairly dark even with the front door open. He turned his flashlight on and we headed down the short hallway into the bathroom. There was something sinister about a room illuminated only by a flashlight. Sometimes total obscurity looks more inviting than the tunnel vision of a single fluorescent bulb. Chester set the bulb down on the ground and lay inside the cabinet to check the sink pipes.

“All in order here.”

I took the flashlight and looked around the toilet. “It doesn’t look like anything is leaking,” I said.

He checked the tub. It was dry as a bone.

I heard something in the living room. It was the voice of a man, a high and jovial cadence.

“What the hell is that?” said Chester.

“It’s a TV.”

The living room was empty but the sound of a television was coming through the walls. “My TV must be on,” I said. I walked back to my room and shut it off.

Chester was able to patch the Belmonts’ ceiling after the leak abruptly stopped. A couple of weeks went by and a new tenant moved into the “problem apartment” as I had come to call it. He was a guy around my age who played guitar in the evenings. Inevitably, his practice sessions started taking all night long and once again I found myself losing sleep. I slammed my fist against his door at 3 in the morning and threatened to have him evicted. I had finally reached that point of no return. I was a cranky old man now, a cranky old man thirty years before my time.

“I’m a professional musician, man,” he yelled back. He unplugged the Fender that time but his tunes continued the next night possibly just to spite me. Once again, I made the journey to Mrs. Gonzalez. She didn’t appear surprised to see me.

“Is it the knew guy?”

“What else would it be?”

“I’ll talk to him,” she said.

The apartment was empty the following week. It could not have been a coincidence. As soon as I found out, I raced down to Mrs. Gonzalez’s apartment. The door was already open. I walked into the kitchen where she sat at the table in her flower-patterned apron, filling the corn husks with polenta.

“You startled me, Steven. What’s going on?”

“Every time I complain about a tenant, they’re gone a few days later.”

“I take the comfort of my reliable residents seriously, Steven. I tell deadbeats to shape up when they’re a problem. Normally they just leave. It’s how they refrain from paying. People hop from place to place you know.”

“It can’t be a coincidence,” I said.

“The real coincidence is why you keep getting noisy neighbors,” she said. “You should be thankful I’m looking out for you. You’re one of my favorite residents.”

I laughed a little. “I guess I shouldn’t be complaining.”

“Of course not. I’ll knock on your door sometime tonight with a fresh batch of tamales.”

“Thank you.”

I walked upstairs and thought about everything: Pharat’s television, the dog‘s drowning, Cynthia’s dates, the leak from the empty apartment, and the guitarists midnight practice sessions. I was probably over thinking things. Even so, was it so bad to have a guardian angel making sure I was comfortable where I lived? A lot of people my age were stuck with awful roommates. I was lucky and I needed to appreciate being lucky. I went back to my room and sat down on my couch thinking about the tamales I would eat for dinner. I didn’t need to know what kind of skeletons Mrs. Gonzalez had in her closet, under the floorboards of unused apartments or hidden inside her cooking. What I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me, and I certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

"Noise Complaints"

Copyright: © 2011 Connor de Bruler


Connor de Bruler has been published in Yellow Mama, Dark Anima Journal, Micro Horror, Glossolalia Magazine, PEEP, The Horror Zine, PJM's Southern Gothic Shorts Anthology, Death's Head Grin, and Lit Up Magazine. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. He is currently 20 years old.

God, it was just one date, and not a good one at that. A so-so dinner and a horrible movie...something with a train in it. At the end of the evening I gave her a kiss and said, "See you around."

That night it began. Phone call after phone call. "I love you...I can't stop thinking about you..." She was like one of those annoying pull-string dolls that say the same thing over and over.

She began showing up everywhere. Outside my apartment. In the parking lot where I work. At the bar where me and my buddies hang out. I told her to stop. Keep away or I'd call the police. But she didn't listen. The night I found her in my kitchen preparing our one-week anniversary dinner I just snapped.

I carried her out into the garage, grabbed an ax, and chopped off her legs so she'd stop following me. But she dragged herself back into the kitchen like a trained seal, blood trailing in a wide smear. "Don't worry, I'll clean that up," she said with an adoring smile. She blew me a kiss, balancing on one hand.

So I took a meat cleaver and hacked off her arms, but she merely wriggled about like one of those air-breathing fish that crosses dry land to get to the next pond. The smile remained. "Time for dinner!" she said.

At last, I lopped off her head and set it on the counter beside the tuna casserole she'd made. To my dismay she kept right on smiling and her vocal cords worked just fine. "I love you," she cooed, scrunching her nose.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Cut out her tongue, poke out her eyes. But I got to tell you, she was beginning to grow on me. I think this one's a keeper.

"The Keeper"

Copyright: © 2011 Kurt Newton


Roy thought of himself as a deep thinker. His thoughts trekked across the great expanse of the cosmos, through the intricate highways of parallel dimensions, around the big head of God, and back again. They were sometimes a bit confusing, and suffocating, because they came at him so quickly and randomly, but he loved the pure seismic energy of thought.

He didn't think of himself as the smartest being on earth, but he strove to achieve this lofty goal. And if he didn't achieve it, so what. Didn't a great man once say, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."? He wasn't sure if that was the true quote or something like it. He couldn't quite remember if he read it, heard it in a movie, or met the man who said it. All he really knew was that he liked thinking and the human nature of thought.

The things he thought about were about as random as a fluttering butterfly. He could be easily sidetracked with one thought by another, but he would eventually find his way again, with a moderate amount of concentration.

Today he thought 696,024 thoughts, and this is a fact because he always counted his thoughts. When he thought back on these thoughts, they were like old faded pictures. Obscured, cracked, and black and white. Almost useless, but thoughts none the less. There were two thoughts today that stayed vivid and alive. They were better than Technicolor. They were Lucas Film.

The first was a hitchhiker he picked up on highway 24 going into Topeka. He was a normal looking fellow that you would find hitchhiking the highways and byways of America. Shaggy beard, slightly torn and outdated cloths, with the fine familiar smell of road funk that's been simmering in unwashed pits and ass for days on end.

“Hello, need a ride?" Roy asked after pulling over and rolling down the window.

"Yeah man, I sure do. Thanks."

They drove through Topeka heading east on highway 24 with a uncomforting silence that made them both think of thoughts of dread, survival and fear. Roy thought that he might have met his even change. This man was a thinker too. When he took his eyes off the road and onto this vagabond, the hitchhiker's eyes were upon him. He thought about this, and he surmised that he's seen these eyes before. As the road laid out before them, Roy thought about the man sitting beside him. He thought about his eyes. Killer eyes. Was this man a killer? He wasn't quite sure, but as they drove, and looked at each other with the knowing, the thought of familiarity, he was quite sure that this was no ordinary man.

"So, what's your name?" Roy asked to try and ease the tension.

"Roy." The hitchhiker answered.

Roy was stunned silent. How could this man have the same name as his? It could be a coincidence, but as he has learned through the years, coincidences are as rare as lightning bolts hitting your forehead. They happen, but not often.

"Dude I gotta piss. Can you pull over?" Roy asked Roy with a seriousness of a man who has to piss.

"Yeah... sure." Roy answered Roy with the uneasiness of a man who is scared enough to piss his pants.

Roy turned right on a gravel road, in the middle of nowhere. His occupant opened the door and said "Don't leave me out here man." got out and started to piss. Roy thought about everything that led up to him picking up this man. His thoughts were running wild because he couldn't think of why he would pick up a total stranger, because he was too busy thinking of things he couldn't remember. This really bothered him because now he was about to lose count of his thoughts that he thought of that day. He started to shake and sweat. He raised his hand to wipe the sweat off his face, when Roy got back in the car with a nine inch serrated Bowie knife. And then Roy really began to shake.

Roy shook so hard and violently that he lost his train of thought. All the thoughts he thought that day tore away along with his human form. He didn't like his true form because there was only rampage and chaos. No reasoning. No thought.

"Jesus Christ!!!!" Roy said as Roy's talon's reached for his knife and his throat. Roy firmly gripped Roy's throat with his right talon, and his knife with his left. He grabbed the knife by the blade, reared back, and jammed the handle into Roy's eye. And when Roy's blood projected itself onto Roy's demonic face, he started to get his thought back, along with his human form.

He changed back into Roy. Or was he always Roy? Was he Roy the killer, or Roy the demon? Every time he killed, he'd have the thoughts of the life he took, so it was hard to tell. He could have been a Roy that killed a lifetime ago, or he could have thought he was the killer because he picked up a killer named Roy. It was confusing, but Roy was a deep thinker. He thought about all of this on his drive, and he also thought about his second vivid memory.

When the victim Roy screamed "Jesus Christ", the demon Roy thought about him. He remembered a time of frustration and confusion. He remembered when Jesus asked him his name, and he answered "Legion". He wasn't thinking too much back then. It was impossible. He wasn't many in one, he is one who is many. It took time to figure that out, but he did. He just had to give it some thought.

"Fleeting Thoughts"
Copyright: © 2011 Joseph W. Patterson

The pregnant man screamed and flailed as they rushed him through the maternity ward into the O.R.

Bill Kressler looked up from his magazine. He glanced around the waiting room to see if anyone else had seen what he just saw. The expressions on the faces ranged from shock to confusion. All except one: a strange man sitting across from him. The man was dressed in a long, grey raincoat and matching hat. A shiny black box sat on his lap. His stare was wide-eyed and unblinking. A disarming smile occupied his lips. "Expectant father," he said quite unexpectedly.

Bill couldn't tell if it was a question or an observation. "Yes," Bill offered, still disturbed by the screaming man hurtling down the hallway.

The strange man nodded, his face as inanimate as a department store mannequin.

Across the waiting room, a heavy-set woman cried out, "My God." She pointed to the television set mounted in the corner by the ceiling. "Can somebody turn that up?" A teenage boy nearest the set reluctantly stood, reached up and increased the volume. On the television, a reporter stood outside a hospital Emergency Room entrance. The words News Bulletin scrolled in bold red letters along the bottom of the screen.

"Hospitals in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Boston are all reporting similar cases. There are now five confirmed births and two related deaths as a result of these male pregnancies. While the medical community remains baffled, the CDC has stepped in to investigate. We will stay with this story as it develops throughout the day..."

"Mr. Kressler?"

Bill turned. A nurse stood in the waiting room doorway.

"Congratulations. You have a baby girl. You can see your wife now."

Bill stood, his mind numb from all the events occurring around him. The strange man also stood; he partially blocked Bill's path to the door. He held the black box in his pale hands, the lid now open; inside it was a row of cigars. "Congratulations," the man said, eyeing Bill from beneath the brim of his hat.

"Uh…thanks," said Bill, grabbing one of the cigars. It felt soft and chalky in his grip. He stuffed it in his shirt pocket.

Bill brushed past the man and stepped out into the hallway to join the nurse...and was almost hit by another gurney speeding by. On the gurney a man lay beneath a bed sheet writhing in obvious pain, his belly distended. The orderly continued on, pushing the gurney through the double doors into the O.R.

Bill stood in the hallway dumbfounded. He turned to look at the strange man in the waiting room. The man stared back at him, rocking gently in his seat, his fingers tapping the surface of the black box on his lap. Bill was suddenly struck with a nightmarish realization. He reached into his shirt pocket for the cigar, only to find lint. A momentary tightness gripped his chest, followed by a sudden forgetfulness.

"Mr. Kressler…you're wife?"

The nurse stood before him, her smile strained.

Bill shook his head. He then remembered he was in the maternity ward of the hospital. His wife had just given birth to a baby girl. He followed the nurse as she led the way, mistaking the feeling in his stomach for joy.

"Have a Cigar"

Copyright: © 2011 Kurt Newton


Once upon a time, there was a man with an offensive face. What the man’s face looked like depended on who was doing the looking. Someone who was offended by black people, should they chance to pass this man on a crowded street, would see a black face. Folks offended by white people saw a face that was country-club white. Misogynists saw a woman’s face. Misandrists beheld a man’s. People offended by happiness might see a smile, pure and true as a baby’s. Those offended by sadness might behold a frowning visage stained with glassy tears.

And if you offended yourself, you saw you strolling down that crowded street.

If Santa Claus offended you—well, guess who.

This man had no family and, for obvious reasons, had difficulty making friends. So he wandered the earth, travelling from country to country, from city to village, searching for anyone who was not offended by his face.

One chilly evening near the close of winter, the man was hiking along a country road. Ahead of him he saw another traveler approaching, a middle-aged man with long yellow hair and a luxuriant beard. The two men simultaneously halted when they came within ten feet of one another.

“Evenin’,” the bearded traveler said. A bulky canvas sack was slung over his shoulder.

“Evenin’,” said the other. “If you don’t mind me asking, friend, are you offended by my face?”

“No. How could I be? You don’t really have one.”

“Come again?”

“All I see in the place where your face should be is, well . . . an oval of nothing.”

“Do you mean . . . an oval of blackness?”

“No, not blackness. It’s an oval of . . . nothing. Sorry, but it’s impossible for me to describe.”

“But are you not offended by this, this oval of nothing?”

“Not at all. I’m not offended by anything. I and my two friends squat at a campsite just down the road from here. My friends aren’t offended by anything either. That’s why we travel together. Hey, wait a minute. Are you . . . ? Are you The Man With The Offensive Face?”

“I am.”

Dropping his sack in the dust, the traveler came forward and clasped the man’s hand in his own, a broad smile punching through his beard. “We’ve heard of you, man! We’ve always wanted to meet you, in fact. You must come back to camp and meet my companions.”

The two men then continued down the road as the night grew darker and colder. A short time later, they abandoned the open road to follow a footpath that led off into the thick wood. The orange glow of a campfire flickered in the distance. Soon they reached a clearing where two forms sat around the campfire. One was an elderly man. The other was a young woman—mohawked with a face full of piercings.

The old fella stood up from his log. “Find some more of ’em?” he asked the bearded man.

“Yes, I did,” he said, dropping the heavy sack to the ground. “And that’s not all I found. I found The Man With The Offensive Face."

“You’re friggin’ kiddin’,” the wide-eyed woman blurted, perking up.

The celebrity guest shook both their hands. They too, when they looked at his face, saw only an oval of nothing.

“Any luck?” the bearded man then asked his friends.

“Nuttin,” croaked the old man. “Maybe we’ll git lucky wit’ cher new batch.”

The bearded man turned to their guest. “We’ve been burning piles of the book Fahrenheit 451 and roasting marshmallows over the resulting fire,” he explained. “It’s said that if you do this long enough, eventually the marshmallows become magical eggs from which tiny clones of Ray Bradbury are born. ’Been trying for three nights now, burning thousands of copies of the book, but all we’ve done is make a lot of ash and cook a lot of marshmallows. I myself have just returned from stealing and buying more copies of the book.” He pointed to the sack on the ground.

“My friends,” said the newcomer, “you’re slightly misinformed. To obtain what you seek you must not burn copies of this book. Instead, you must burn stories written about people burning copies of the book. I’ve seen it done myself."

“No shit,” marveled the punk woman just before she scurried over to her backpack to grab a spiral notebook and some pens.

The fabled guest sat down, warmed himself by the fire, waited quietly for his three hosts each to scribble a story on the sheets of paper passed out by the woman, stories about people incinerating piles of Fahrenheit 451.

When they finished, the three campers each speared a marshmallow on a stick, crumpled up their unedited, unsubmitted, unread stories, tossed them into the fire, and stuck their marshmallows out over the momentarily augmented flames. Not half a minute later, a tiny man tore out from each of the browning, softening marshmallows. And at that exact moment, the hearts of the campers exploded in their cages. Still clutching their sticks, all three fell dead into the fire, the flames rapidly enveloping their twitching bodies. The diminutive hatchlings jumped safely to the ground from their marshmallow-eggs, just barely escaping the blaze.

They were not miniature clones of Ray Bradbury. The man with the offensive face had lied.

He scooped up his three little offspring, licked them clean of sticky-sweet marshmallow goo, and cradled them to his bosom like a good mammalian father/mother. But the man found that his parental joy was tempered by grief for the three dead campers—those three souls who were offended by nothing. But nature was often cruel, and the man’s praying mantis-like act of reproduction was no exception.

He looked down into the tiny nothing-faces of his brood. His boys looked just like their old man. And the man loved each one of them unconditionally, even though he was slightly offended by their faces.

"Offensive Face"

Copyright: © 2011 Douglas Hackle


Clyde Baker recently remarked, ‘I have seen the future of horror and his name is Douglas Hackle.’ Clyde Baker is the blind, homeless, illiterate crackhead who lives underneath Douglas’s dilapidated front porch--but hey, Clyde’s opinion counts too, damn it!  Douglas reads and writes out of Northeast Ohio, where he lives with his wife and little boy.  His short fiction has been published or accepted for publication in several online and print venues.  Visit him at:

Cold-blooded sidewalk-slugs are attracted/addicted to the heat that permeates the concrete. The streets are a vast snail orgy. The roads are rivers of slime. Cars constantly swerving and spinning out of control. Even with slug-chains on special slug-tires most roads too slick/slippery with slug-slime to safely drive on. Tennis-racket-like slug-shoes are required to walk on the sidewalks.

In all the penitentiaries and jails guards with gas-guns and trained rape dogs make the convicts jog on treadmills for twelve hours a day. The prisoners wear special orange rubber suits that harvest their sweat and separate/filter out the salt.

The water portion of the harvested convict sweat is sold to rich ladies in the form of perfumes and aphrodisiacs.

The sweat-salt is loaded into the back of big orange government dump trucks with slime-plows on their fronts. The orange government trucks plow the slug-slime down the slime-sewers and spread sweat-salt on the roads to kill the fornicating sidewalk-slugs.

Flocks of birds fill the streets feasting on dying slugs. Wild horses lick sweat-salt from the roads.

Sweat-salt rusts the slug-chains and the undercarriages of all the cars. Oxidizing metal attracts rust mites who hasten metal’s decay. Drivers fall out of their cars through the rusty holes the sweat-salt has eaten through the bottoms of their vehicles; the bones of the fallen crush/smash against the slimy concrete. Driverless cars scream down streets and sidewalks. The broken boned crawling on the roads are slimed and devoured by hungry sidewalk-slugs.

"Salt Trucks on the Highway"

Story & Image Copyright: © 2011 Joshua Dobson


Shooting ice is like swallowing stars. Not real stars, not burning suns, but the wintry diamond kind of stars, like you see in clear skies in January. Or like you imagine you'd see, anyway. There aren't many clear nights these days.

You freeze, but not like water freezes. You solidify. Everything in you decelerates. You feel minutes, hours, days (could be years, decades, centuries) whiz by like so many insects, but you hardly even notice them. You are clear and impassive. You are an iceberg, drifting for cold eons on arctic seas; you are crystal, unborn and undisturbed in the belly of the earth. You are slow life.

Naturally, after the first few times it‘s harder to get frozen. You keep getting pulled back to the present, to the pathetically organic body you inhabit -- flabby and frail and mewling with perpetual infant need, threatening to decay at any moment into its various putrid messes, blood and pus and piss and spunk and slime. You start to wonder why we bothered with evolution at all. You begin to disgust yourself.

The need to get frozen out consolidates in response, and almost before you've noticed, it's a settled part of you, like breathing and checking your inbox and one-and-a-half spoonfuls of sweetener in your coffee.

One morning, dressing, you notice a patch of hardened skin, on the inside of your elbow, maybe, or the back of your leg. It is smooth and glassy, not rough like the bottoms of your feet. It doesn't strike you as unpleasant. You get quite fond of it. The texture reminds you of an amber necklace your mother used to own, the fly trapped inside it lifting its limbs in a final and useless struggle.

Fly didn't know how lucky it was. Sometimes, you think that you would like to be preserved in amber. To opt out of life. You would like to be petrified, lifted for good out of the whole sorry cycle. Yes, you would like to be perfect.

*   *   *

She was the first one you saw, and you're still a little bit in love with her.

You weren’t supposed to see her -- you can kind of understand why -- and that’s why they kept her in that roped-off side room with the bored attendant by the door. But he had to go to the toilet sometime, and that was when you snuck in, a quick check that Ms. Feinberg wasn't looking and a dart round the corner.

She was like some old religious icon, mounted cruciform on the wall, eyes blank, face impassive, clear as glass. You could see the filigree of veins and the light that throbbed through her, regular and faintly blue, like an electric pulse. You'd never seen life that clear before, and you were mesmerised.

You didn't know what she was, at the time. You found out later. They sell for millions.

*   *   *

You set down the syringe and settle back, as best you can with these stiff limbs, onto the sofa. Ten minutes, maybe, before you need to make the call.

A last look around before you go. This room's depressing. Mangy carpet, threadbare furniture, nothing personal on the walls, a blur of light through the window and a clatter of noise outside. Not exactly where you expected to be at thirty. But it doesn't really bother you, not anymore. This, soon, will pass.

After a few moments or hours -- this being frozen time, you're not sure how many -- it occurs to you that you should probably dial. A little later, you decide you must have done so, because a tinny little echo of speech is somewhere in the room with you.

"Which service do you require? Ambulance, police or fire?"

"Can you hear me?"


You don't need to answer; they'll trace the call. They'll want to phone someone, probably, but you've sorted all that our too. There's a single number programmed into your obsolete mobile, a creditor's, entered as 'Dad.'

The operator's voice grows smaller and flatter, as though it is being pressed out of the world by a big fat silence, and then it cuts out, replaced by another voice that is smaller and flatter still -- a recorded message. It repeats in Spanish, in Chinese, in Esperanto, the same forced perkiness evident each time. You ought to find it depressing, or at least blackly amusing, but it does not seem to matter much. The room is blurring round the edges.

You are almost perfect now. Clean slate; new transparency; all debts paid off.

"The Jewel"

Copyright: © 2011 Jessica George


My neighbor stops screaming long enough to punch the Power Guy in the mouth. Watching from my living room window, even I am surprised by the sudden burst of violence. The Power Guy just sits there on the sidewalk, holding his clipboard to his chest, crying like a child.

My neighbor is still angry. He jumps up and down, screaming his head off. When the Power Guy doesn’t respond, he runs into his tool shed and emerges a few moments later with a pair of gardening shears. The Power Guy climbs awkwardly to his feet and tries to run away. My neighbor chases him around the house a few times, brandishing the shears like a sword. His bathrobe flies open, exposing his beer belly which droops a bit over the elastic of his dirty white underpants.

The Power Guy is screaming for help. I can see several of my other neighbors watching the chaotic scene from their living room windows. Most of them are smiling, except for Mrs. Bradley. There is a multi-colored parrot on her shoulder and she has a phone pressed up to her ear, talking excitedly to someone, probably the police.

Way to ruin it for the rest of us, Mrs. Bradley.


Copyright: © 2011 Dustin Reade


Dustin Reade likes old surrealist movies, Sangria Senorial Soda, writing stories and using his body for shock value. He is obsessed with The Manson Family, and his work can be found in numerous magazines and anthologies. All of his stories are weird.

I hate the way he breathes, the heavy nasal wheezing keeping me up through the night. And I hate the way he smells. But most of all, I hate the way he eats.

People tell me that over time I'll get used to it. "He's only been alive for three years. Give him time. Give yourself time," they say. But I know the truth. I know the little fucker's been waiting inside me my entire life. I could feel him just under the surface, waiting to scratch his way towards the light.

People don't ask me who the father is any more. They know what I'm going to tell them, what the doctors confirmed for me several times over. There is no father. And when people hear his muffled cries during the day, they look the other way.

I'd let him starve if I could, but every time it gets hungry it claws at my now sagging breasts. There's nothing there for it. I'm not lactating because this isn't a child. As I reach down to spoon another small heap of gruel into the gaping, toothless maw protruding from my waist that somehow uses a part of my stomach for its lungs, that somehow belches and screams in flatulent utterances, I realize what my body knows: that this malformed tumor growing out of my body is somehow me, has always been a part of me, and never had any intention of leaving. And if it dies, I die with it.

"Immaculate Conception"
Copyright: © 2011 Kirk Jones


Kirk Jones is the author of Uncle Sam's Carnival of Copulating Inanimals, published by the New Bizarro Author Series, an imprint of Eraserhead Press. He reviews classic works that could, in retrospect, be considered bizarro on Retro Bizarro at Forthcoming work will soon be published in Unicorn Knife Fight.

Greeting Eula as she entered the kitchen the morning after Thanksgiving, Jim’s mom said, “Links and scrambled eggs are on the stove, honey -- kettle’s on the counter.”

Measuring dried leaves into a teacup, Eula, anticipating grandma Laidlaw’s question, explained -- “willow bark and feverfew to clear the head.”

“You young 'uns oughta take them kids for a walk, fall air’ll cure your head sure as shootin’,” added grandma.

Turning to Jim, Eula continued, “Looking at old state maps on your dad’s desk last night --” She glanced apprehensively across to Mr. Laidlaw who just smiled. She continued, “Back in 1903 the S&E railroad ran across the ridge up here an’ then past a big cluster of buildings just before coming out, where the shopping-center is now -- but ain’t hide nor hair of track or town in 1920. Took a gander this morning, grade’s still there, nice an’ wide to walk once you get a hundred yards in.”

“The buildings -- Army depot -- closed down ’bout the time Roosevelt went galivantin’ off to Africa -- mighty queer goings-on from what I heard tell,” grandma interjected.

Eula and Jim navigated his in-laws and three nieces through the roadside brush to the open grade. Fascinated when Eula pointed out a cardinal feeding on highbush cranberries, by lunch time the girls had been introduced to woodpecker-bored trees and a pair of white-tailed deer browsing on corn stubble in a nearby field. When a crossroad offered the in-laws am opportunity to return home -- though Jim and Eula were encouraged to continue alone -- Sadie, Jim’s eight-year-old niece, begged her way into continuing with the pair.

“Auntie Eula, did you know I was blonde? an’ it turned brown after I had the measles! stupid measles!” said Sadie, tucking her hair under her hat.

“Well Sadie, when you get older, you can make your hair any color you like -- now let’s go.”

Entering a forested area, their progress was soon interrupted by a massive iron gate -- an illegible rust-consumed warning hanging crookedly from it -- supported by two crumbling concrete pillars, sitting with a Daliesque incongruousness halfway across a crumbling concrete bridge spanning the narrow creek gorge.

“Don’t worry, we can cross on that old tree, down there,” Eula reassured Sadie.

The grade continued through a quiet mossy forest, the leaves carpeting the floor quickly melding their autumn colours into an even brown. As they progressed the banked grade rose above increasingly grassy, then marshy land. They went on, and soon drew up short: the grade fell away abruptly, the convulsed remains of a concrete culvert and a plume of clinkers testament to a long-ago structural failure. Sadie insisted they continue, but she was obviously tiring by the time they had climbed back up.

A growing earthy, spring smell and coltsfoot brightly flowering on the grade slopes were the first things that hit Eula as being odd. Farther, greening maples, whose canopies rose to the level of the grade and bathed them all in an unsettling pale green pallor unsettled Jim. Eula silenced him, whispering: “Don’t upset the child.” As they pressed on, picking up their pace, the grade descended into a grassy field, then a stand of tall mature forest. It was warmer, all was in full leaf. “Why’s it summer here, auntie Eula?” enquired Sadie. Eula bent over, picked up one of hundreds of chestnut husks which littered the forest floor. “Sadie, listen, remember how Dorothy got all mixed up and went to that funny place in Oz? I think we’ve gone somewhere like that, so you be brave, and we’ll all get home.”

Jim having glimpsed the highway and some buildings to the north, they decided to leave the grade and bushwhack to the road. The sun was rapidly setting behind them, and in the gathering gloom they soon questioned their choice -- they seemed to have been walking far too long. Scattered like a crazy icefield, fragmented concrete slabs made progress arduous. Still the hum of traffic and the appearance of bright lights encouraged them. They emerged on a large paved area, littered with rusted vehicles, and buckled by a number of saplings. The hum and light came from a number of large open rectangles in the brick facade of a turn-of-the-century industrial building.

Jim said “probably private property -- let me talk, people around here know me.” Reaching the large doorways, the whine of engines rose, but they remained unchallenged. Multiple train tracks entering and exiting the building along with the patina of its steel structure and brick facade testified to its age, yet all inside was immaculately clean.

Drawn to the hum, they advanced to find a battery of twelve locomotive-sized electrical turbines mounted on a ceramic base. Heavy gauge copper cable issued from each and entered, at points symmetrically scattered over its exposed hemisphere, a large riveted ball of iridescent metal, ensconced in an oversized ceramic eggcup. As the turbine’s whine rose, the ball appeared to peel off translucent sheets of visually perceptible but physically intangible blue netting. Sadie had climbed upon the ball, basking in the freshly emanating material, and was beaming as if in sudden comprehension. Jim hastened over, grabbed Sadie, and along with Eula -- as the whine of the turbines rose to a near inaudible pitch -- they ran, and ran, and ran, until they tumbled out of the woods into the bright sunlight, behind the Montgomery Ward.

“Why, how you’ve grown Sadie, they boys will be after you in no time,” said Mrs. Finch, a family friend who had met the haggard trio at the shopping centre, and was dropping them off at the Laidlaw’s house. Just then Sadie’s parents and the other inlaws came up the road. “How the he-- did you get here before us?” Sadie’s mother asked, but she stopped short when a tired Sadie pulled off her hat and, shaking out her blonde ringlets, said, “Mummy, look, I must have had the measles again.”

"Stupid Measles!"

Copyright: © 2011 Georges Dodds


Published in strong competitors to The New Flesh like International Agrophysics and Estudos de Literatura Oral, Georges Dodds has until recently kept his weird writing under mouldy cerements. His recent genre activities include textual resurrection for a publisher of Gothic novels, unearthing and presenting in an e-library some thematic precursors of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes, translating early French science-fiction to English, and preparing a collection of American dime-novelist William Murray Graydon's earliest adventure stories. Georges and his 3-species family (4 with the goldfish), lives in a former bus garage, on the now relocated site of an18th century cemetery -- so far tilling the garden hasn't revealed its past.

My name is Jim and I am the Antichrist.

You may be sitting there thinking, “Oh, this guy’s cool, he’s so hardcore and evil and shit” but that just isn’t the case. I’m not the type of guy you hear about when people mention the Antichrist. I’m not all pentagrams and inverted crossed. I don’t have a “666” birthmark, although I did have a mole removed that some folks used to say looked like Tchaikovsky. I don’t even wear black that often. Sure, I have a couple suits, and a big black overcoat I wear when it’s really cold out, but so do lots of people. So if you’re expecting I’m some Marilyn Manson-esque crazy-looking dude, I’m not. I try to look nice when I go out. I am 250 pounds with balding grey hair and a droopy face. I live in a little house and I go to work every day.

I live my life just like anybody else, and one day I suspect I’ll die just like anybody else. At least I hope so.

You might still be thinking it’s cool to be the Antichrist. Well, yeah, I guess it would be if it really meant anything. I don’t have any special powers fueled by the fires of hell or anything. I’m just the Antichrist and that’s that. I’ve known my whole life. So has my family, and my friends, and many, many therapists.

See, when I was very young I just felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. Something was always missing. I kept to myself, I would cry at very small things. When we realized that I was the Antichrist, it didn’t make my psychologist very long to figure out what was wrong.

The trouble is there’s no God. And as there’s no God, there’s no Christ. And as there’s no Christ…

But here I am. Nobody can figure it out. By all standards, I shouldn’t exist. I’m an opposite of a nonentity. That type of thing doesn’t really work in a world where physics and reason are major factors. But reason and physics took a short break for one moment in time, and I guess I’m what leaked through.

An Antichrist to a nonexistent Christ.

And that’s why I never felt like I fit in. It’s because I don’t. My place in existence is moot. There’s no point to me. I’m not being melodramatic. I’m not striving for attention. Far from it. There’s just no reason to me. You can’t possibly imagine what it’s like to wake up every morning knowing that you literally have no purpose in the world. It crushes you, every instant of every day.

I shouldn’t exist.

And yet, I do.

Oh, sure, I tried to kill myself. I tried it a number of times. But I could never really do it. I eventually gave up on suicide and decided to try and live my life as best as I can.

I got a job in a bookstore. I’ve worked there for twenty years. It’s not much, but it’s a living. I read a lot anyway, so it’s not a bad fit for me. Every once in a while somebody will come in who might recognize me from the occasional cable documentary. You know, the metal-heads or faux-Satanists who think it’s so “brutal” that I’m the Antichrist and want me to sign their demo-tape or drink their blood. Sometimes I’ll give them an autograph if they seem like sane enough people. They think it’s cool, and if it helps them get by, hey, why not? But never the blood stuff or anything. I very politely decline those offers. I don’t think those folks really understand that I’m a human. Yes, I’m the Antichrist, but I’m also human. I’m not a bad guy, I’ve got feelings, and I don’t particularly enjoy getting offers to host sacrifices or “drink a chalice of virgin blood”. In fact, a few times when the people proposing these things seemed a little too sincere about it, I’ve notified the authorities. I think it’s the least I can do, particularly if these folks claim to have been inspired by me.

That stuff really weighs on my conscience.

And while most of the people who approach me knowing who I am are Goths or metal-heads or whatnot, there are the very rare philosophers who think they know all the answers and want to know all about me because they think they can solve the mysteries of the universe through me. Honestly, sometimes they piss me off more than the blood-donors.

But once, just once, there was someone who actually seemed to genuinely care. I don’t know who he was. He didn’t stay around long enough for me to ask.

It was normal day, I was arranging books in the new arrivals display when I hear a man’s voice behind me ask, “Jim Smith?” and I turn around and there’s a tall man maybe a couple years younger than me with short, wild white hair and glasses, wearing a big black overcoat with a white dress-shirt and tie underneath.

I say, “Yes, can I help you?” and he steps forward and hugs me and he whispers, “I’m so sorry.” When he lets go and steps back he has a sad, concerned look on his face. He nods at me and walks out of the store.

Like I said, I don’t know who he was. But I felt like he understood. He could’ve been anybody, a crazy person, I don’t know. But it made me feel a little better for a little while.

And so, I keep going. I know there’s no purpose for me. And it’s still a terrible feeling, every day. But I push past it best I can and live my life for what it’s worth. It doesn’t feel like much, because it isn’t much, but I’ll live with it as long as I have to.

Hell, I’m too fat and going to die soon, probably.

"Poor Jim"

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.


Hey weirdos!

Since submissions opened for THE NEW FLESH: EPISODE ONE (print), my inbox has been flooded!  I already have more than enough stories on my shortlist to fill two books, so the next step for me is to close submissions.  Thank you so much to everyone who sent in a story!  If you didn't make it this time, don't worry, hopefully there will be an EPISODE TWO sometime in the future.  I guess we'll see how this one goes.

Also, just to give you all a heads up, subs to the online edition will most likely be closing soon, too, so send in your stories!

Alright... until next time...

Keep it weird,


Sitting on a park bench, he watched the faceless, two-dimensional people scramble past one another, moving thoughtlessly through the streets. His lunch break was almost over. It was time to join them.

He placed his hands on the bench to lift himself, when he realized his legs were gone. Reaching down to confirm what his eyes told him, he noticed the lower half of his body on the ground. He grazed his underbelly to make sure all his vitals were in tact, expecting to feel the moist warmth of blood. Instead there was only a cool, smooth surface, what he thought a cauterized wound might feel like. Then he was gone.

Miles away his eight year old son Billy carefully rendered a picture from black coloring pencil. He ran to his mother to show her his progress.

"Mommy! Mommy!" he said, handing her the picture. "Look!"

She held the picture at a distance, straightened her glasses. "What is it?" she asked, though she recognized the crude stick figure rendering of bifurcated and beheaded bodies.

"It's a picture of daddy. He's dead."

"Peter, why would you draw something like that?"

"I'm almost done with yours," he said, running back to the other room. "I just need to find the blue marker, for your dress."

She looked up from the picture and towards the window. Faceless, two-dimensional figures walked aimlessly on the unlined pavement. She rolled up her blue sleeves and started for the water in the sink, when she realized she no longer had arms. She called to her son as she tried to think of a way to stop the bleeding. But there was no blood.

Billy ran into the room with his new picture. "Mom?" he asked. "Have you seen my red crayon?" 

"Death by Limited Palette"

Copyright: © 2011 Kirk Jones


Kirk Jones is the author of Uncle Sam's Carnival of Copulating Inanimals, published by the New Bizarro Author Series, an imprint of Eraserhead Press. He reviews classic works that could, in retrospect, be considered bizarro on Retro Bizarro at Forthcoming work will soon be published in Unicorn Knife Fight.