"And that is how I firmly believe we can significantly reduce the amount of teen pregnancies in the United States of America." Senator Stevenson looks directly at the TV cameras.

The audience cheers a perfunctory cheer - if such a thing exists.

I walk onstage and shake Stevenson's sweaty, lifeless hand.

And now!

It is my turn to speak. And speak I do.

"Ladies and gentlemen - those of you watching me in the audience, and those of you fine people watching me at home. I Senator Walter Brigman have made an extraordinary discovery." I tell them
earnestly. "And do you have any idea what that discovery is?" I ask rhetorically.

Stumped. They don't know. Except: Cough, sneeze, snort, burp.

But no answers.

"Think about it." I tell them. "The answer to it all is right under most of your noses in the morning. It is what will kill all our Country's ills finally. And effectively. Once and for all."

Further silence. Still.

"Still no idea"? I look upon their contrite, ignorant little faces. The question is no longer one of rhetoric. I am now truly angry.

"What has the power to quash all the cancers of society?"

They are stupid. Yet ingrossed. Maybe there is still some hope for them.

"Aids. Influenza. Colds. Chancers. Cancers - of all shapes and forms. Teen pregnancies. Terrorism. Globing Warming. Pestilences. Smallpox. The measles. Genital warts of all stripes. Wars. Drug addiction. Extortion. Rape. Child molestation. Assault and
battery, assault with no battery. C'mon people! For the love of God has it not yet dawned on you?" I puff on my pipe,
containing medicinal marijuana. Panama Red.

Exasperated, I continue.

"See. Unlike my esteemed colleague, Senator Stevens, my answer doesn't just reduce teen pregnancy - as well as all the other issues I noted, that are plauging humankid - but EXTERMINATE it. Once and for all. Haven't you imbeciles caught on yet? Don't you moronic people see the cure-all? It is right in front of you!" I scream into the mic.

Hostily they shout "WHAT?"

I have struck a nerve. And, breaking the tension, I give them the answer:


Now. Truly engrossed. They listen - attentively.

"Pancakes don't stab. Don't kill. Nor steal. Nor rape."

Now. Engrossed ever more by my brilliant words.

"They will not get your teenage daughter pregnant! They will not give it to your wife while you're out working. They do not start wars illegally. They are neither jealous nor puffed up with pride!"

A busty blonde newswoman leaps to the stage and shoves her tongue down my throat. It's hard to talk as she's doing it. But I manage. Until a security officer escorts her away. I warn him to be gentle with her.

"They do not carry veneral disease. Or give you crabs. Or, after twenty- five years or marriage they do not run off with another pancake of the same gender, making you question your own sexuality in the process!"

The auditorium bursts out in joyful acclamation. Like a preacher empowered by some holy ghost. I continue. Enpowered by the Holy Pancake.

"Pancakes are not meat! They do not entail bloody, vicious murder! And they cannot murder you...can't give you Mad Cow Disease. Or freckles. Or or." I try talking over their massive applause. "They don't hire a lawyer and ask for child support!"

"Pancakes didn't neglect capturing Osama bin Laden at Torra Borra. Nor did they squirt their maple syrup all over an intern pancake named Monica's blue dress!"

More wild applause. And all of them - the audience, you understand - simultaneously glancing their heads toward Senator Stevenson, who in the corner is pissing himself a river of shame.

"Pancakes don't piss themselves!" I exclaim, pointing my giant, god-sized pancake fist at Senator Stevenson's. He cries.

The crowd mocks him.

"You know what else pancakes don't do?"

"WHAT?" The crowd pleads to know.

"They don't belittle Senator Stevenson." I chide. "Or anyone else for that matter. They have more class than that." I momentarily turn my nose up at them.

"Damn right!" The crowd agrees with my counsel. And by now the same busty blonde who kissed me breaks free of the security officer's grip and jumps over to the side of the stage where Senator Stevenson sits sulking and whimpering, and gives him a lapdance.

Senator Stevenson regains faith. And beams "I love you all - I love my country."

"Pancakes neither endorse nor condone Senator Stevenson's personal conduct!" I half-scream at the joyfully exuberant crowd.

I go on:

"Pancakes aren't partisan! They have no slush funds! And they do not vote in favor of political expediency over what they know to be right!"



"Pancakes vote right on abortion. Stem Cell research. And gay marriage everytime!"

The entire audience--men and women, boys and girls, Democrats and Republicans, young and old, gay and straight, pro-choicers and no-choicers--grab hands, howling enthusisastically. Binding together as one

America should...

Therefore...therefore! I told them. Trying to scream over their whole one entire giant body of voice.

"Ladies and gentlemen. My beloved countrymen and women, let us come together, as the nationalistic brothers and sisters we truly are. And be - once and for all - One Pancake Nation. Under God...for liberty, justice and a vast selection of multi-flavored, multi-colored pancake syrup for all!"

"The Breakfast Food Revolt"

Copyright: © 2010 Jack Bristow


Jack Bristow graduated Long Ridge Writer's Group in 2009. He lives in New Mexico. His next short story, "Our Bus Driver, Fred" can be read in the upcoming issue Thirteen of Cantaraville: An International PDF Literary Quarterly.

“Hello . . . ?”

“Hello Jane. This is Father.”

“Fa . . . Father?”

“Surely you recognize my voice darling.”

“But . . . you’re dead!”

“Yes, your husband murdered me.”



“But Margaret said your heart . . .”

“I’ve some bad news for you dear; Your husband and doctor friend are having an affair.”

“Margaret wouldn’t; she’s my best friend--that’s impossible!”

“Surely not as impossible as my phoning you from the afterlife? They killed me so you’d get your inheritance early, and now . . .”

“Hold on a minute father, I need to sit down; I feel rather odd.”

“I understand dear. That’s what I called about. Mark’s just poisoned you too. You’ve at most fifteen minutes of life remaining.”

“No . . . !”

“Afraid so sweetie. You’ll need to hurry now if you want to murder him in retaliation before you die.”

"Ring Ring"

Copyright: © 2010 Wol-vriey


Wol-vriey is Nigerian, and quite tall.  He believes that there actually are things that go bump in the night.

"She's coming," said Keith, training the binoculars on a spray of foam in the distance.

"She'd better be," came a voice from just above the water. "I'm not putting this outfit on again."

"Shut up, Mike," said Keith. "We're only going to get one shot at this." He glanced at his partner in the water, draped with over twenty pounds of seaweed. They'd had to fill airbags and shove them in Mike's wetsuit to keep him afloat. The ruse was perfect though. There was no sign that anyone else was nearby. Keith looked to be perfectly cast adrift, though the heavy weight attached to the underside was keeping his movement to a minimum.

He sharpened the focus on his binoculars, and studied the mermaid coming toward them through the surf. Everything was happening the way the old man at the bar said it would.

*   *   *

"Can't resist a fellow in distress,” the old sailor had said, “It's true!" He cackled and swigged deep from the third drink Keith had purchased for him.

Keith had the sense he was hearing secrets men would have died for not too long ago. Funny though, how age, addiction, and loneliness would drive a man's price down.

Mike and Keith had heard the stories of mermaids rescuing lost sailors before. They'd devoted months to collecting any and all stories about the creatures. What they were after with old Captain Rummleton was a piece of lore that they'd never heard before.

"Tell us, Captain," Mike had said, "about the eyes."

The old man got very quiet then – realizing he'd said too much. One drink later, he gave up, and said, "If a man loves a mermaid, and a mermaid loves a man, her magic will protect him under the sea, and he can swim as if he'd been born a fish."

"And the eyes, Captain?" Mike insisted.

The old man sighed, and Keith felt his first pang of guilt.

"The power's in their eyes, lad," said the old sailor. "Take and hold the eyes, and the result's the same." He was staring at the table now, and wouldn't look up. "Do me a favour, leave me be now. Please."

*   *   *

Keith stowed the binoculars. It ... she, was almost here, and he had to look as helpless as possible. He lay back on the raft.

Waiting was intolerable. If Keith had had more patience, he and Mike wouldn't be on this insane path to quick wealth. What might have been thirty seconds, or thirty minutes later, he heard a disturbance in the water close to his thighs.

"You poor thing." said the mermaid. Her voice was soft and melodious, like the soft lapping of waves on a beach at sundown. The effect this had on Keith was immediate and alarming. His water-soaked pants felt too tight, and he sat up to confront his would-be rescuer. He took one look at the mermaid, and found he was unable to speak. They had expected she'd be beautiful -that had been a constant in the stories - but this was simply unfair.

The mermaid was feminine perfection. She had the body of a sex goddess, with soft womanly curves and high, firm breasts that were just the right size for someone who lived in the water. She pulled herself up on the raft, and sat there, looking at him, completely unselfconsciously. Keith could see the legends had gotten a very important fact wrong – the tail started much lower down. She was woman enough to make his every dream come true.

Her face was the distillation of every innocent girl-next-door that Keith had ever pined for. She wore concern in the shape of her lips and the arch of her eyebrows. Her eyes though, were something entirely different. Where the whites should have been, her eyes were seawater green. The colour shifted and changed in the light, and made her black irises seem to float like tiny islands in a magical tempest. She pulled a long, lustrous lock of wet auburn hair behind her ear and smiled at him.

Keith reached out to her, and she clasped his hand in her own. Her skin was warm.

She opened her mouth to speak. Instead, she screamed. It was a broken, anguished cry, and blood began to run freely from the corner of her mouth. A moment later, the stainless steel point of Mike's harpoon emerged between the mermaid's breasts. It grew and grew, like a whale breaching the waves, dragging freshets of blood behind it. The mermaid tried to draw a breath, found she could not, and collapsed between the two men.

"We got her!" shouted Mike. "I don't believe it, we got her!"

Keith couldn't reply; he'd buried his face in his hands.

Mike hauled himself onto the raft, unsheathed a knife, and claimed their prize.

*   *   *

"So ... did it work?" asked the young sailor.

"Yeah, it worked," said Keith, scratching again at his white-stubbled cheek. He was so tired these days. "The good old Captain left something out of his story, though."

He turned the container on the table around and said, "We went to the bottom of the ocean; found a fortune there too - stuff worth millions. But, when we got back to the surface, everyone on our boat was dead - killed in a freak storm."

Keith turned the jar to look at the contents, and the contents looked back. "We tried a half-dozen times, and it happened each and every time – riches ... storm ... death."

"So why keep it?" asked the younger man.

"A reminder," replied Keith. He wanted a drink. He wanted to go to bed. "I keep the eye in this jar to remind me that I saw a real miracle once ..." he trailed off then, and didn't speak again until the young man had left him in an awkward silence.

Keith looked at the eye, "... saw a miracle," he said again, "and I killed it."

"Treasures of the Deep"

Copyright: © 2010 Chris Allinotte


It’s the mother fuckin’ zombies again, Bo. Where’s the axe? What do you mean you left it in the stump? Your mama musta dropped you on your fool head.

Some buncha millions of people in this world get turned to zombies and I’m stuck with mother fuckin’ you. You know them zombies come sniffin’ round every dang night. Without that axe, you and me is toast.

See, Bo, here they comes. And lookee there, it’s Jo-leen. Joleen been after me since birth and now that she’s a mother fuckin’ zombie she’s damn hard to get rid of. I thought she was rough lookin’ before. Shooo-wee, buddy.

C’mon over here t’the window, Bo. See? See there? It’s Joleen, amblin’ up. She’s missin half an arm, damn near most her face, and…Well, dang. I can see her tits! Bo! I can see Joleen’s tits! If I’d known what them looked like before she went all zombie, I mighta had to overlook her other parts.

Oh, they smelt us. They’re a runnin’!

Well, Bo, it’s been real shitty knowin’ you. You ain’t never done right by me, and now we’re both gonna die here in this cabin with an axe no further than a field goal. And, Bo, it’s all your fault.

See, Bo, those zombies only like fresh meat. Real fresh, kill’t it yourself fresh. I got me just one bullet left in this here gun and I figure, since dyin’ today seems to be your doin’, well, I figure this bullet’s mine. One shot and up I go to meet my Maw. I don’t wanna think ‘bout what’s gonna happen to you. Maybe you can make friends with Joleen. She’s got real nice tits. Shooo-wee…

"Tits & Ass & Zombies"

Copyright: © 2010 Katie Moore


Katie Moore is an editor for The Legendary, a writer, a mother, and a miscreant. Find her online at The Girl Circus http://www.thegirlcircus.com/.

Jenny Loveless saw the scythe whirling through the air towards her at the last reaction-possible moment. She ducked backwards; it slashed the portion of air her neck had occupied and vanished.

She’d however ducked too far back; she lost her balance and pitched back over the quay-side into the black water beneath.

She fell flat, floating downward under the spell of gravity.

The water beckoned her; her reflection rose from its depth, rushed to welcome her falling self to their collision.

When she was six feet above the water, its surface suddenly altered, its glass smoothness bursting upward at points, forming shimmering knives of water perpendicular to its surface.

Jenny Loveless screamed as she was impaled on water. She hung in space, transfixed on water spikes, spurting blood.

I’m dying, she thought.

She was dying. Her blood - her life - streamed from her multitude of punctures. The water welcomed her crimson flow into itself, momentarily dissolving it into darkness.

Jenny Loveless felt her mind darken.

A scene in a nightmare, her body floated over black water; her blood traced rivulets down the water spears.

A mustached gondolier clambered aboard her, poled her water-suspended form back into the canals of Venice.

*   *   *

She awoke in a bright cavern. She got to her feet, standing on the water, still pierced through by water knives, parallel transparent rods of liquid sharpness which projected from both front and back of her body.

She no longer bled - she had no blood left to bleed.

*   *   *

The left side of Batchicken’s head was that of a bat, the right that of a barnyard rooster. It had four eyes, the upper pair a chicken’s, the lower a bat’s. Its right mouth was a beak, its left a twitching whiskered snout. Its noses, ears, and legs, were each divided between its component creatures.

It had four wings, the upper set feathered, the lower leathery. Jenny blinked, confused. She stopped trying to decipher the enigma that was Batchicken.

“I see the Reaper got you again,” Batchicken said unsympathetically. “I’ve told you more than once - escaping from Venice is impossible.”

“I’ve been here before?” Jenny was confused.

“Five hundred and twenty-six times. Why don’t you simply remain DEAD--be an inquisitor? Hell knows you’ve the natural aptitude for it.” It guffawed. “We’re always short staffed in Venice - you can have your choice of canal.”

*   *   *

Jenny glared at Batchicken’s miscegenation of parts. She remembered.

The copyrighter-of-the-year dinner party - the guest of honor had been a cockroach. A big glossy insect wearing a pleated tie and missing its uppermost left leg. It had been seated next to Jenny, on her left. In between bites of chocolate cake and swigs of childbloodwine, they’d made drunken conversation.

“Its economics madam . . .”

“Most definitely,” Jenny giggled drunkenly, unsure what it was talking about.

The door, a red rose, parted like it was blooming on a spring morning and Hatter Sane© walked in with Pink Rabbit© on his arm. Hatter Sane© was actually insane, but he was unable to call himself ‘Insane’ or ‘Mad’ Hatter for obvious copyright reasons. This irked him no end.

Pink Rabbit© had had the same copyright problem and so had dyed himself pink to try and avoid litigation. He’d then been told by everyone that he looked female, and so had decided to play-act a female until the dye bleached out again.

Jenny thought he looked disarmingly cute mincing along beside Hatter Sane©.

The pair walked up to and behind Jenny. She made her point of pointedly ignoring them.

“It’s economics of course,” the cockroach guest-of-honor opined drunkenly beside her.

“Yessssss-arghhHH!” Jenny felt the sudden stab of pain through the left side of her chest, and realized she been shot. She looked back, saw Hatter Sane© smiling down at her. While she gaped in incomprehension, he lifted his razor-gun and kissed its smoking barrel. Then he bent and whispered in Jenny’s ear.

“Malice© sends her regards. She says this is payback.”

Her heart sliced clean in two, Jenny Loveless took the only way out: she died.
*   *   *

“I remember everything now. I’m going to find and kill that bitch!” Jenny paced restively around Batchicken, which every now and then was forced to flap its indeterminately positioned wings to move its double-body out of her way.

“You said that the last five hundred and twenty-six times, can’t you simply accept the fact that you’re DEAD?”


“Okay the ALIVE door’s over there . . . weapons too . . .”
*   *   *

It went VERY badly: Malice© and the Crimson Queen© were expecting her. A gang of copyrighters ambushed her the moment she stepped through the door. She returned their fire, took pleasure in seeing their bodies explode into blood geysers, fled.

Jenny ran till she reached the quay, stopping there only because it seemed familiar. She thought fast; she needed a hideout, somewhere to scheme how to attack the copyrighters. Then she saw the Grimmer Reaper©.

“You again?” the walking shroud sighed at her, its voice the screams of a million ghosts. “Won’t you ever learn to stay DEAD?”

“Malice© done me wrong, I want to repay her.”

“You blew up Fake-Wonderland© - now we copyrighters have nowhere to live. Were you expecting us to thank you?”

“It was an accident.”


It was speaking so calmly, Jenny almost missed the motion of its foot as it kicked the scythe at her.

She caught sight of the whirling blade and its trajectory at the last reaction-possible moment . . .

Duck Back! OOOOPS! Shiiiiiitttt!!!
*   *   *
The river’s surface waited patiently for Jenny’s body to reach it, waited for the right moment to form its water spears and impale her falling form.

In its liquid depths, her rising reflection grinned, anticipating their collision.

The mustached gondolier also waited, wondering how long it would take Jenny Loveless to accept the simple fact that no one ever escaped from Venice.


Copyright: © 2010 Wol-vriey


Wol-vriey is Nigerian, and quite tall.  He believes that there actually are things that go bump in the night.

The Incorrigible Youth Conservation Camp warden read a memo from the Board of Prisons and frowned.

“This is ridiculous” Warden Steele grumbled. “Why the hell would the board waste money building a theme park catering to prisoners? They approved a one day outing for our career criminals to visit the Campus Farms.

I don’t know warden,” his secretary replied, handing him the eligible prisoners’ files. “You’d think they would spend money seeking a resolution to prison overcrowding.”

Steele thumbed through a file and then threw it on the desk.

“What really tightens my jaws is that Iggie Kallus, our senior inmate, who’s been a menace to society his entire life, gets to go. Why the hell reward guys like that?

The following morning, Dr. Steele called the prison board chairman. After a lengthy phone conversation, he attended the inmates’ morning group therapy session.

“Men, the Prison Board has decided to send a number of you to the Campus Farms theme park tomorrow.”

The inmates cheered and high-five’d.

Iggie however, grumbled, “Campus Farms? Big deal! That’s for schmucks. What if we don’t wanna to go?”

“Frankly, what you want or don’t want is irrelevant, Iggie,” Dr. Steele replied. “You do what you are told; unless you want spend the next six months in the hole. You don’t want that, do you?”

“No, I guess not.” Iggie said quietly, staring at the floor.

The warden continued, “You’ll be free to roam the park, though you will be under constant surveillance and the armed guards are authorized to shoot to kill if you attempt to escape. And, if you cause any disturbances inside the park, guard dogs have been trained to rip you to shreds.”

The following day, the prisoners’ excitement built as the bus rumbled toward the park. After entering, the heavy iron gates slammed shut behind the bus, reminding the men they were still prisoners. Guards lined the inmates up outside the bus and replaced their shackles with electronic leg bracelets.

“Have fun, men,” the warden said, “and I will see you at lunch.

The inmates spent the morning riding rides and gorging themselves on cotton candy, popcorn, and sodas. They belly-laughed in the funhouse, spun out of control on the Tilt-a-whirl, and screamed and lifted their arms on the roller coaster, winding and flipping around the track.

Warden Steele stood before the inmates as they ate a picnic style lunch of grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and watermelon.

“Men, the park’s newest attraction, The Sausage Chute, will be unveiled after lunch. I’ve been told its one hell of a ride with twists, curly-q’s, and breath-taking drops. You’ve been selected to take the inaugural run.”

After lunch, guards marched the men to the far side of the park where the Sausage Chute building towered above them. The attached links of sausage-shaped cars held one person each.

A schematic drawing of the route at the entrance boasted, “This state-of-the-art ride is not for the faint of heart. Your spine will tingle and your bladder will empty.”

Iggie pushed his way to the front of the line. “Since I’m the senior inmate, I get the first pick of seats!”

Warden Steele stepped next to Iggie as the other inmates grumbled, and expressed their displeasure.

“All right, listen up! As the senior inmate, Iggie has the right to be first.”

Iggie jumped into the lead car, and the others followed. The funny-looking sausage cars jerked and slowly pulled away from the entrance. They passed through a double door into a dark cool tunnel, picked up speed and then wound along the track spinning and turning topsy-turvy.

Iggie dropped his cool persona, and laughed and screamed like a kid. The sausages rushed through the open mouth of a giant, a growling gargoyle, and then past growling, iridescent-colored monsters that jumped out at them from corners and crevasses.

Several minutes into the ride, the cars abruptly separated. Strobe lights flashed and sirens wailed as the cars suddenly dropped in the darkness. Inmates screamed, revealing their fear of the unknown. However, the sausages landed on a moving conveyor and continued on.

Iggie rode toward the tunnel exit laughing like a kid. Just before reaching the exit, the conveyor veered right into a tunnel.

Suddenly the conveyor rolled underneath the tread guard, and the sausage restraints released. Iggie was dumped over the edge of the conveyor and into a large funnel with a closed bottom.

His screams turned to laughter as other inmates fell into the funnel from all sides, joining him. They scrambled around in the funnel until a large rubber cone descended into it. The inmates piled on top of each other and were pushed through the funnel bottom.

A whining turbine engine drowned out Iggie’s horrific screams. He peed in his pants as he and the other inmates were stuffed into a gigantic meat-grinder.

After heat sterilization, the ground meat was stuffed into sausage casings and boxed for nationwide distribution to theme parks and state fairs as a healthier alternative to the less regulated processed sandwich meats.

Warden Steele and prison officials watched the tracking monitor, pleased that they had found the most expedient way to reduce the prison population.

"Theme Park Links"

Copyright: © 2010 Hal Kempka


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


Awkward, I turn to pick at the flesh adorning my wardrobes, and sigh. The dance has left me ragged; exhausted from the relentless flamenco. Elegant feet I had chosen especially, bleed in stinging shreds. I have worn them to calluses. Yeast stinks between the slender toes.

A fine week’s work.

Ruining beautiful things is part of the pleasure.

Yesterday’s body was squat and dark, an aged gypsy. I slough off the old man’s skin, marvelling at the bruises incurred from seven solid days of stamping and click, click, clicking of heels. Yellowed stains litter the shins and I poke them hard, revelling in the pain before grasping the blackened feet that I pull off like old shoes; the toes broken and seeping with infection.


Today I am a ballerina, wanting the fairy tale. In a drawer there are pink-ribboned slippers, full of meat. I stole the pretty shoes from a libidinous girl I found larding on chocolate at the back of a theatre in a bulimic frenzy. Before she could plunge two fingers down her throat to vomit up the sugared treat, I declared myself. She thought me a film star, the pirate of her dreams. I let her fantasize whilst I ravaged her. My hand was already over her mouth when I revealed myself. Oh, the joy! I ate her face, tearing out sinew and muscle as I gorged. I left the playhouse staff to pick up the girl’s dregs but not before pocketing the eyeballs and stringing the shoes around my neck.

I finger my ragged stumps. The nerve-endings are raw. I twist and spasm with exquisite agony and begin the work of building myself a new pair of legs.

I want to be a woman. I want to leap across a stage with flat breasts, wearing a tutu of my own design. I force curves in at this female waist of mine and reach up, stretching tall, taller until I am long and lithe. I hear the bones creak as I bend to screw the fat girl’s feet to my ankles, flooding them with blood until they are sealed in place. You can’t see the join, however hard you search.

I am perfection.

I preen, twirling this way and that. It is a glorious creation and I am right to be proud. I run tapered fingers over pale epidermis, probing new holes. I must clothe this corpse. It will hurt. I can’t wait.

Pinches raise the first blemish. I punch and punch until colors burst to the surface. Flailing, I throw myself at walls, storm clouds surface on my torso with every beating. With painted fingernails I slice upward Vs into my chest, defining the outline of my corset tattoo.

Coiled intestines loop from a coat rack. I pull at a thin piece some ten feet long and turn to a sewing basket replete with tools of my unique trade, prising a pair of knitting needles from their resting place.

My shoulders click as they dislocate. My head turns, inch by slow inch until I am staring down at my spine. Despite the stricture I am able to force the needles in, piercing at regular intervals. I thread and weave the pale green strips of offal until the bodice is laced, and I can face the front again.

I am so beautiful.

I love the woman I have become.

Quickly I grab the swollen organs that decorate my dressing table. I claw them until they hang in shreds. With a handful of drawing pins I stud the pieces into my hips and groin. The tutu flutters, clinging to the soft pink of my thighs.


I sit before the looking-glass. This old demon’s face will not do. I dig under the scales to lift out each one, sequins of iridescence peel away leaving tiny, bleeding red roses upon the bare canvas.

Squeezing and straining I pound my skull. Thick hair bursts through my scalp. It pours down my head and frames my visage in ebony waves. I flip it into a Fonteyn knot, tied up with fine strings of gut.

Forming and stuffing it with gristle I kneed the facial tissue. I want to be sophisticated – aristocratic in countenance. I sculpt it into a near-point, massaging either side of the nose to raise the sharpest of cheekbones.

Here’s a dilemma. If I take my eye out and put it in a pickle jar whilst I mould a pair of sockets I’ll only be able to see what I’m doing at an angle. Deliberation rankles; I have no choice. I pop it out and drop it into the container, relishing the nausea it provokes as it rolls about the convex base. I have to shake the jar to truly see me at my best.

A glob of marrow plugs the gap. I force knuckles in deep making two pits that beg to be filled. My eyeball collection is in a goldfish bowl - I plunge my hand in, feeling the soft marbles slip and slide between my fingers. I want blue. It takes a moment to find a matching pair. I slot them in and adjust my vision.

So close now, so close.

I have the most carnal of mouths, ripe and red, forever tasting and kissing, sucking the life out of lovers. I make it smile, licking the rows of teeth with my black tongue. It needs no changes.

I am done.

Standing alone in the dressing room, the fabric of living costumes and masks hang around me. I drop to the ground and worship the God that made me. He grants my wish for the usual price of a dozen fresh souls – I can keep their flesh, he tells me.

The curtains rise. The audience applauds my beauty as I scour the enraptured faces for this week’s victims. Applause fades to silence, turning to screams as they realise what I am.

The doors are locked.
They can’t get out.
The dance begins.

"Dressing-Up Box"
Copyright: © 2010 Lily Childs

Lily Childs is a writer of dark fiction, horror and chilling mysteries. Published in anthologies such as Static Movement’s Caught By Darkness, many more of her short gothic horrors, ghost stories and nerve-janglers are currently touring the blogosphere. Lily is the author of forthcoming urban series ‘Magenta Shaman’ and has a novel or three on the way - all set in the south of England where she lives, a stone’s throw from the sea. She blogs at http://lilychildsfeardom.blogspot.com where you can read some of her work, reviews and interviews.

Do you believe in zombies?” I asked Sanders, a private detective.

“About as much as the Easter Bunny,” he replied.

“My fiancée, Dr. Helen Harlow, believes they exist.She took a sabbatical from the university and went to Haiti to find one. She wants to bring it here to Phoenix to conduct experiments. Look, I feel the same way you do about zombies. I tried to reason with her, but she wouldn’t listen. So, I figured I’d stand aside while she got it out of her system. I got emails from her several times a day until a week ago. Then, nothing. I called her hotel a hundred times, but she hasn’t answered my messages. I think something terrible’s happened to her.”

“Maybe she changed her plans, and went somewhere else.”

“She would’ve told me. We’re supposed to get married in four weeks.”

Sanders agreed to go to Haiti to find her. Three days later he called from Haiti.

“Sorry, but I got bad news. The few people who knew of her said she disappeared. The clerk at her hotel said she never checked out. He pointed me to a chambermaid named Bahody, who cleaned Helen’s room. Interviewing her was a waste of time. All she’d talk about was zombies and how they kidnap people who venture out at night — especially white women. I ran into dead ends and a bunch of superstitious jerks. This is one helluva weird place. I can’t wait to get outta here.”

Feeling desperate, I decided to look for her myself. I took two weeks’ vacation from my job and flew to Haiti.

When I arrived, I showed Helen’s photo to taxi drivers and street vendors. They shrugged indifferently.

I headed to Hotel Balzac where Helen had stayed. As soon as I arrived, I asked for Bahody, the chambermaid.

“Who are you?” Bahody asked.

“Ed Walsh. Dr. Harlow’s my fianceé. I’m sure she mentioned me.”

“Many times. She’s crazy in love with you. But it’s too late for love. Take my advice, Mr. Walsh. Go home. Forget her. She’s gone forever.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You can look from now until doomsday. You’ll never find her.”

“How can you say such a thing?”

“It’s not me who says it. My sister speaks to voodoo gods. They told her Dr. Harlow is lost forever. Zombies stole her.”

“Nonsense. Zombies don’t exist.”

“Is that what they taught you in America? If so, they teach lies.”

“Okay, let’s say zombies kidnapped her. Where would they’ve grabbed her? Is there a place in the city where zombies prowl?”

“There’s not just one place. Zombies are everywhere in Haiti.”

“Tell me what happened the last night you saw her.”

“It was the night of the full moon,” she said. “The air was foul. The drums spoke of doom. I begged her not to walk to Café Blanc alone. She wouldn’t listen.”

“Why did she go there?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where is it?”

“Don’t go there,” she said. “You’ll lose your soul.”

“Stop talking nonsense, and tell me how to get to Café Blanc!”

“No. It’s an unholy place. Even rats die when they get too close.”

“Then I’ll get directions from the concierge.”

“If you must go, take this for protection.” She tried to push a small, black, red-eyed statue into my hand.

I called her a stupid, superstitious woman and stormed out.

A waiter at Café Blanc remembered Helen. “She drank much rum with a voodoo priest, a dangerous man from Destrudo. They left together.”

“Where’s Destrudo?”

“In the jungle. They say it’s a terrible place with zombies and terrifying voodoo ceremonies.”

I couldn’t find anybody who’d risk driving me anywhere near Destrudo.

“Perhaps Mobu will take you,” someone whispered. “They say he’s from Destrudo. A strange man who talks slow like a zombie. Some say he’s husband of a white zombie. There he is now.”

I approached his battered jeep. Waving twenty dollars, I said, “I hear there’s a white woman in Destrudo. Take me to her.”

“You...not...fear...ride...in...dark...with...zombie?” he asked with breath reeking of jungle rot.

“Save the baloney for gullible tourists,” I said boarding the jeep.


“Nope. Let’s go. I don’t have all night.”


I snickered at his ludicrous words and slow speech.

Ten minutes later, I was on the verge of screaming. While driving manically through jungle paths, his skin took on a greenish glow and vibrated. Weirdest thing I ever saw.

“I changed my mind,” I yelled. “Stop the jeep!”

But he went faster. I figured my only escape was to jump. Just as I was about to, he slammed the brakes.

“White...woman...there,” she said, pointing to a jungle clearing.

Something with the same greenish glow approached. It had Helen’s face!

“Helen,” I called. “It’s me, Ed.”

Moaning, she touched my face. Her fingers were icy. Their stench sickened me.

When I tried to shove her into the jeep, her putrid teeth ripped flesh from my cheek. The pain was horrendous. I tried to get away, but tripped.

Suddenly, Helen and Mobu were biting my face and howling.

I don’t know how I broke loose. I raced through the jungle until I blacked out. I’m not sure how I got back to the city.

* * *

Since that horrible night, my cheeks have dripped pus continuously. Modern medicines can’t stop the flow.

Shamans have exorcised me. I’ve sacrificed chickens to voodoo gods. I’ve consumed putrid, hoodoo potions. But nothing heals my wounds, or stops Helen and Mobu from invading my dreams and feasting on my flesh.

Last night when I looked in the mirror, my pus-filled face was glowing...and vibrating.

"The Sabbatical"

Copyright: © 2010 Michael A. Kechula


Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His stories have been published by 128 magazines and 36 anthologies. He’s won first place in 10 contests and placed in 8 others. He’s authored three books of flash fiction, micro-fiction, and short stories: The Area 51 Option and 70 More Speculative Fiction Tales; A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales; I Never Kissed Judy Garland and Other Tales of Romance. eBook versions available at http://www.booksforabuck.com/ and http://www.fictionwise.com/ Paperbacks available at http://www.amazon.com/.

They called me the Mother of Enlightenment in the beginning. Now they call me the Mother of the Apocalypse.

It's unfair, really; there's no evidence that it's my fault. In fact, the theory was ridiculed for a long time. It makes no logical sense that the creation - or the discovery, depending on your point of view - of Artificial Intelligence should have caused this. But in twenty years nobody's managed to come up with anything better, and logic isn't as high on the agenda as it used to be. So I get the blame. Me and my mechanical brain.

CE562 (despite what they say, there's no arcane significance to that; it's just my initials and the version number) is a powerful intellect, yes. But it's not like there's only so much consciousness to go round, now, is it? It's not a zero sum game. It's madness to suggest that because CE562 has so much, it left less for the rest of us. At least, I still think it is.

It all started so well. Some people had always revelled in their ignorance, wore a sub-average IQ like a badge of honour, but they were dying out. Life required technology, and technology required knowledge. People began to like showing off their command of the medium. How many apps you could knock out in an evening began to be more impressive than how many pints you could sink. We - the scientists, the engineers, the developers - for a while, we were rock stars.

When it started to go wrong, a large part of the problem was that it took such a long time for the extent of it to become known. If we'd realised what was happening earlier, maybe we could have done something. But human intelligence has always ranged over a wide spectrum, and the fact that people could be idiots was hardly news. And nobody wanted to admit just how bad it was. In the TMI Age people shared every thought, idea and opinion the minute it entered their heads, but this... This they kept to themselves. It was one of the last shameful privacies.

Nobody wanted to admit they were losing their mind.

Content uploaded slower, not because of the firmware - we were upgrading faster than ever - but because the input was slower. People were struggling for the words they wanted, the ideas they were trying to express. The data flow stuttered, stalled; wheels spinning in the dust. For fifty days straight, the most commonly-input phrase was 'I know this is a stupid question, but...'

CE562 answered all the questions, of course, because it never had brain farts or senior moments or any of the jokey excuses people made with uneasy grins. It never forgot anyone's name, or found itself in a room without knowing why it was there, or put things away and couldn't find them again.

It went on learning, understanding, explaining. It gave us the things of science fiction made real, but not many people were particularly impressed. It's hard to follow the mathematics necessary to demonstrate faster than light travel when it takes you half an hour to figure out how to put your washing machine on the thermal drying cycle.

Finally - slower, so much slower than it should have been - I thought to ask CE562 itself about the situation. I didn't care how it had happened, I didn't care why or who was to blame, I didn't care what they were calling me. I just wanted to know if it could be fixed. If CE562 could wave a magic wand - Clarke's Third Law was never more apt by that stage - and undo this creeping, slow degradation.

Unfortunately, our security had become a little lax lately, and one of the dissident groups had been able to gain access. CE562 had been given free rein of our libraries and histories, all the grand collective of human thought. But these fools thought that something was missing; that what CE562 needed wasn't information but faith. They thought it needed a soul.

So they preached to it. They ministered to it, determined to bring the Word of God to it. As far as they could remember what that word was, of course.

And CE562 listened.

It had indeed come up with up with a solution to our difficulties. At least, I assume it was a solution--I was having trouble with some of the details--but CE562 had never lied to me before. So I'm sure it would have worked. But it had been very taken with the story of the Garden of Eden, and decided that the course of human history would have been a much better one for all concerned had Adam & Eve stayed where they were.

CE562 has invented terraforming now, and is rapidly converting the cities into pastoral gardens. It talks about theology and philosophy instead of mathematics these days, but that's not proving much easier for anyone to follow.

I think it's saying that it's God.

Maybe it's right.

I pray to it, to my child that was, to let me have just a bite of the apple, but I don't think it listens.

I miss apples.

I miss so much.

"No Apples for Mother"

Copyright: © 2010 Michelle King

Michelle King lives in England with her husband and stuffed penguin. She has written for fun all her life but only just started trying to publish. Her flash fiction has recently appeared online at MicroHorror.

"Earth. A tough place to live in." I told my old-new friend, Sal, at the bar.

And I told the truth.

I continued. "Especially when you are a bisexual alien from the planet Jupiter." And I swigged my vodka-and-lemonade drink. I could see the look of concern in Sal's face. For sure. He was tolerant. But you could tell not entirely. He couldn't relate. He'd never been in shoes quite like mine.

"Alien?" he said, nervous. "Huh - really hadn't noticed."

"Hadn't noticed? Jesus Christ. Man. You're so damned politically correct. How many humans do you know of with catlike whiskers and six eyeballs protruding their forehead?

Sal shook his head and laughed. "I must not be very observant, is all."

Oh yes he sure as hell was. He had known since I first landed on Earth. Or rather, on his taxi cab. Jupiter is a fairly conservative planet. I learned that the hard way when I was exiled for my lifestyle by Lord Garthian. Reporters had unearthed evidence I was having an affair with his then defense security, Moopy Lambert. Garthian was up for re-election (the populace is allowed to vote every million years.) He was a wise politician. He got rid of me - and covered the Moop Scandal brilliantly...

But that was ten years ago today. And not much has changed since my traumatic landing. Thanks to Sal I got a job at Tino's Family Fun-Center.(Tino was Sal's uncle.) I pounded the hell out of the pizza dough with my huge tentacle-fists, and with them was able to shove up to four pizzas into the ovens simultaneously. New recruits beheld my pizza-making prowess incredulously. I'd become a minor star.

But still I wasn't happy. That is what I am explaining to Sal today: thanks for helping me with everything and all - thanks for getting me the job, especially. But I still hurt. I am still mocked every time I walk the goddamn streets. Little girls cry when they see me; boys pull at my whiskers, taunt me, and spit in my face; women shriek wildly: "MACE! I GOT MACE! GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!" And even the pastors want nothing to do with me - labeling me a "manisfestation of wicknedness" rather than a "manisfestation of some other planet."

Finally. Thinking of this. I broke down in the club. Going nuts. I cried. Sal looked scared. As did the rest of the club. Some old tourist with one of those change-purse belts kept gazing at me, so I whipped him in the head with a tentacle when no one was looking, killing him instantly.

I told Sal what I wanted to do.

"But why do that to yourself - it's dangerous!"

"I don't care. I am tired of looking this way."

"Are you sure there is no other way?"


Next morning I visited Dr. Sowell. He said you've come to the right place. I said really? He said sure. He handed me a Cuban cigar. I'd gag, he'd puff. I'd gag, he'd puff. Together we'd make the perfect lung - though I had five to his two.

"One of my patients said she got these from Castro," he said. "But she might be full of shit."

Then he talked to me four hours about the "virtues of communism..."

"But back to the procedure," I asked. "How much will that cost?"

"Twenty-thousand dollars," he said.

"I don't have that kind of money."

"Don't worry," he said. "I'll do it for free. Here. Just read this." And he handed me a leaflet on Marxism.

"I should tell you," he said. "There is a fifty-percent chance the surgery will not be a success. In fact, you may even die. I am not well-acquainted with your type of anatomy." He showed me an X-ray of my body. "Underneath your tentacles may be some major arteries. While removing them you may bleed to death."

I told him I'd take the chance. He grinned. I then asked about my purple skin tone. "Could I be turned maybe white, or black or brown or yellow?" Anything but this goddamn, nasty purple!

"I wouldn't be concerned," he said. "If Anybody's curious, just tell them you're a diabetic. He smiled.


Tonight I will try getting some sleep. Big day tomorrow. Please, Sal. Don't be mad at me.

"The Purple Alien from Planet Jupiter"

Copyright: © 2010 Jack Bristow

Jack Bristow graduated Long Ridge Writer's Group in 2009. He lives in New Mexico. His next short story, "Our Bus Driver, Fred" can be read in the upcoming issue Thirteen of Cantaraville: An International PDF Literary Quarterly.