This has got to be Hell. White walls. White ceiling. TV on constantly. Ever since the wreck, lying here, alone. They've never even figured out who I am. They call me "unknown Karen", because I was the eleventh female trauma victim of the year. So I got the "K" name.

No visitors. Nobody knows me. I'd even settle for my rotten ex-husband at this point. But I was alone, and the car burned. I was thrown clear, but everything I owned was in the car. They surely can trace the car. It's a rental. Someone has to find out who I am.

I lie here and I cannot move. The doctors say my spinal column is okay and, in truth, I can feel everything they do, but I can only breathe, swallow and move my eyes. Nothing else. They feed me, bathe me, change my bedding and dump my pee out of the collection thing. I have a catheter. They seem very interested in my pee.

Days aren't so bad. The doctors come and they tell me eventually I will be all right. They say something neurological is messed up in my head, and I have "little or no motor responses." Well, no shit!

Nights are worse. I have been hearing things in the night. When the halls are dark and quiet and the visitors are all gone, and the staff are knitting or bullshitting or whatever they do, I hear noises.

First I heard breathing. I noticed I could hear someone else breathing in counterpoint to my own breath sounds. But I'm in a private room in the Medical Intensive Care Unit. There's no one here but me. I would stop breathing and listen, and he would stop, too. He wouldn't start until I did. Whoever he is, the fucker can hold his breath a long time.

After I didn't breathe for a long time, my monitors would start going apeshit, and the nurses would rush in, then I'd have to breathe again.

The shrink was in yesterday. Wanted to know why I was holding my breath. Thought I was attempting suicide, I guess. We did that stupid blink once for "yes", twice for "no" bullshit. Finally convinced him I was just listening. That I still had my will to live.

Anyway, it started with the breathing. Then it progressed. Now, at night, I hear all kinds of sounds and they all seem to be coming from under my bed. I cannot imagine how dark it must be under there, at night. I hear shuffling sounds, sounds of something moving around. Stealthy, though. It knows I'm listening. I think it knows I'm terrified.

Last night, it started giggling. Barely audible, but I heard it. And this morning there was a long, thin tear in my bottom sheet, down by the foot of the bed. Down on the underside, where it tucks in. A thin tear like a claw might make. The nurses were mystified as to how that tear got there, but I know. It's showing me that it's getting stronger.

Each night now, I lie wide awake and petrified, as it snuffles and shuffles around in the dark, crooning and giggling to itself, like some idiot child. I sweat cold ice pellets into my sheets, waiting for the hand, the clawed appendage that must soon come to grasp my ankle or arm. Then I will die. I know my heart will just seize up and stop. It would be different if I could scream. If I could push a call button. I can do neither, and it's getting darker by the moment.

I have survived another night. At about four in the morning, I fell asleep, believe it or not. I guess I was just exhausted. I listened to him half the night, doing his thing under there, but now there's a new twist. He knows my name. Not "Unknown Karen." My real name. He said it last night. He called me Marcie. Not just once, either. He lurched and rolled and giggled and called me Marcie. At times he was so active I could feel the bed shake. He's gathering strength for when he can come out.

Another night, and I am still here. Now he has a friend. I listened to them whispering and giggling all night. I didn't fall asleep this time. Not at all. I couldn't understand what they were whispering about, but they were having a good time. I think it won't be much longer now. I discovered this morning that I could move my thumb. Now, if I only could reach the call button. But, so far, I have been unable to make the nurses aware that my thumb will move. Ah, well. Almost time for Oprah.

"What time did the patient code, Nurse?"

"Three forty-five, Doctor."

"Anybody start CPR?"

"Yes, Doctor. And the Code Blue Team was here in less than two minutes with the crash cart."

"These things always bother me. Last night, on rounds, I saw her and she seemed to be improving. Did they defibrillate her?"

"Yes, Doctor. Four times."

"Okay, well, I'm gonna order an autopsy, just for my peace of mind. We'll make the time of death...four A.M."

"Doctor, what do you make of these scratches?"


"Here, on her ankle."

"Oh, well, I don't know. They appear to be superficial. Maybe she thrashed around or something."

"She wasn't able to move, Doctor."

"Well, I don't know then. They're certainly not lethal, though."

"No, I suppose not."

"I'll see ya later. I've got rounds..."

"Okay, thanks, Doctor."

"Yeah, have a nice day."

"The Patient in Room Five"

Copyright: © 2011 Kenneth James Crist


I stand in front of the mirror, admiring my new boxer-briefs. I'm particularly taken with how big they make my package look. Of course, it doesn't really matter; I'd still jerk off four times a day even if they had “Baby Dick” embroidered on the front.

“What the fuck are you doing in there?” my mother screams from the living room. Anytime I spend more than fifteen minutes in my room with the door shut, she starts screaming. Sometimes, when I'm jerking off, I listen to help finish, spiting her Jack-Daniels-and-Marlboro-voice with a fresh load of rumpus.

Don't ask why I call it that.

Not today, though. I turn sideways and watch as the semi-chub recedes. Stupid bitch. I look around the room for my pants, and spot them laying on the bed. I've been wearing them for at least a month, but they don't smell more than two weeks old, despite the stains, a few of which I can identify. I pull them on and walk out.

“Too good to wear a shirt? Were you born in a barn, or something?” my mother says, coughing. She's holding a Marlboro in one hand, and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the other, so the phlegm wad flies freely from her mouth, landing half in the ash-tray on her lap. The other half stains her lime green house dress, staining it like my pants.

“What the- that doesn't even make any sense,” I say, not even sure why I bothered. She never listens to me. As if to prove my own point, I say, “mind if I borrow Ford Fairlane?” That's what she calls her vibrator. She had a thing for Andrew Dice Clay in the eighties.

The sound of her coughing and choking drowns me out. She grinds out the cigarette and lights another. I watch her blow out a cloud of smoke, and walk over, pulling one from her pack. I don't even like to smoke, but I take them to piss her off.

“Are you going to put on a goddamn shirt or not?” She chokes again, loosing another blood-flecked hunk of slime. This one lands on the rim of her beer can. My cock swells a little as she raises it to her mouth, the snot-glob sliding onto her lips and chin.

Even I can't explain that one.

What I can explain is why she demands I wear a shirt. She will never admit it, but she's horribly offended by the swastika tattoo on my chest. No, I'm not a skinhead or a neo-Nazi. I'm not even remotely racist. When I was ten, my mother had an affair. When my father found out, they spent the rest of the evening screaming at each other. The last thing I heard my father say before he abandoned us was “You fucked that dirty-Jew-piece-of-shit.”

I never forgot that.

Five years later, I sat in my room with a safety pin and ink, stabbing my chest over and over. The swastika wasn't because I liked Hitler or hated Jewish people. I didn't even hate the Jewish man my mother fucked. I hated her for fucking him. Hell, I didn't even know for sure the guy was Jewish. What I do know is that it kills my mother to see it, and that's enough for me.

“Need another beer?” I say to my mother. I walk toward the kitchen, knowing the answer. I remove a can of Pabst from the fridge, open it quietly, and gulp half of it. Stifling a belch, I quietly slip my cock from my pants, and refill it. I set the can down, turn on the water, and finish pissing in the sink.

“You think water grows on fucking trees? Turn it off!” my mother shouts. Instead of shouting back about how stupid she is, I settle for serving her the piss-beer. My only explanation for her never noticing is that I do this at least three times a day.

“Sorry about the water. I was thirsty.” I hand her the beer. She stares at me, confused. “It's a beer, mom. Take it.” I see a spark of recognition in her eyes, like she knows I jerk off in my room while she screams at me, like she knows I'm counting the days until she dies, like she knows I drink half her beer and piss in the cans before giving them to her.

But when she takes a drink of the beer, grimaces slightly, and says, “It's warm,” I know she's totally fucking clueless.

Stupid bitch.

"The KKK Took My Daddy Away"

Copyright: © 2011 Chris Bowsman


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

Your feet are killing you. In those blood-red, spangly things, two sizes too small. Sheer magic, was how you’d got them on. Now she wants them off.

Greedy bitch. How she’d grabbed your whole life, your man, wasn’t enough. She wants them shoes. Bad.

Face to face, you are, in that tower room. Hers, green and pointy, with a too-red mouth, slit-eyes like Renee Z. That “little black dress” she’s too sexy for is tight as those shoes.

In your frumpy blue gingham, you feel big as a house. Underneath is a scarlet G-string. But only he would know that.

Around her, winged monkeys check you out, curiously. Hop around like retards. Dancing. That’s the rule. In her world, no matter what, keep dancing.

That’s how he fell. Into her world.

This picture window, you’re at, above her forest. Sneering trees, bug-eyed owls, you see them all. That Munchkin gimp, who’d just hung himself. Neck broke, mouth zipped shut, he’s still better off than him. . . .

‘Cos the gimp got away.

In the distance, Emerald City taunts you, like a postcard from a tropical paradise you’ve got no bucks to visit. With a Wizard that’s MIA. Bummer.

Your toes feel pinched. She smirks, ‘cos you can’t flex them. But there’s more to life than flexing toes. Or dancing around like a fool, you think.

And where’s Toto? you wonder.

She points behind you.

In the monkey’s hands Toto is clutched, teeth bared. Growling. Toto can take care of himself. You stop worrying.

But not about him . . .

Smirking, she points the other way.

No! you say, about that crystal ball. I won’t look in it! A giant snow globe, it looks like, but it’s a trick. You know it’s a trick.

So why didn’t he? you feel like screaming.

You don’t want to, but you can’t look away.

Her smirk widens, so she looks like the Grinch. Her chimp entourage moves in closer.

So do you.

Inside the globe, the snow stops. Everything goes black.

Next, swirly shapes, and colors. Ugly, mismatched colors. Mustard yellow, snot-green, an almost-red . . .

Then . . . You suck in your breath. Him!

On the edge of the bed, he’s huddled, trembling. Face hidden. Veins protrude from his hands, as he clutches his face, his curly black hair. Like he would tear his hair out.

Oh, Carlos, you whisper. She snickers.

Walls the color of dried blood. Yellow sheets all rumpled, like somebody was just fucked. No, raped.

This sense of grief, like a smell, hovers over him. Never have you seen anyone this sad. Never felt so sad, yourself. It’s like seeing him dead.

Carlos . . . You paw the globe. I’m here in Oz, in the Witch’s castle. But I’m not beat, yet. Tears burn your eyes, but you don’t wipe them. Carlos . . . Don’t you give up, either!

Monkey hoots over the Witch’s cackles.

Wearily, he releases his face, lays down. Eyes wild, he searches the ceiling for . . . something. His lips move, but you can’t hear him. “Dor-o-thy” comes out silent, and tortured.

On the wall behind him, “SURRENDER, DOROTHY!” appears in glossy white.

Never! you tell this bitch. I’ll win him back!

Ya think?

You can’t keep him. Your teeth are clenched. He’ll die first.

Ya think? Now she’s yawning.

Are you seeing things, or did that scene just change?

Same room, same guy, but something is different. That . . . look. He’s out of bed, grabbing for something, on the cluttered dresser.

Next to her photo, in the tacky frame, he finds it. A simple carpet knife. No fancy weapon. Couple of bucks at the hardware store.

Your heart races. Carlos . . .

Back on the bed, with her picture in his lap, he smiles, bitterly. Flicks the blade open. Eyes on her green pointy face, he drags the blade across his wrist. . . .

No! you scream, as their laughter surrounds you.

Blood drips on her photo. Bright red, and shimmery. Down that crystal ball, blood pours. His face is magnified: wild, mouth open in a silent scream, drenched with his own blood!

She laughs loudest. That witchy cackle has hoarsened, from laughing so hard. Slapping her knee, she backs up, closer and closer, to that window.

Those shoes are killing you. But without them, you’re fucked.

Her howling gets to you. In that green face, her teeth chomp your nerves raw.

Still laughing, she backs up, right to the sill. For a moment, she totters. Wild-eyed, she looks around for help, but the chimps won’t stop dancing.

It’s worth it, you realize. Now you’re the one laughing...

Loudly . . . maniacally . . .

As you kick off those shoes . . .

And lunge.

"Meanwhile, At the Witch's Castle"

Copyright: © 2011 Cindy Rosmus


Cindy Rosmus is a New York textbook editor by day, a hardboiled Jersey female by night. Her fiction has appeared in Black Petals, The Beat, The Cynic, Red Fez, Zygote in My Coffee, Hardboiled, NVF, MediaVirus, The Monsters Next Door, Out of the Gutter, Devil Blossoms, 13th Warrior Review, Mysterical-E, A Twist of Noir, and Beat to a Pulp. She has four collections of stories out: Angel of Manslaughter, Gutter Balls, Calpurnia’s Window, and No Place Like Home. She is the editor of the e-zine, Yellow Mama. She is also a thrill seeker, a Gemini, and a Christian.
This story has been collected in Of Shadow and Substance. Published by Word Weavers , Copyright 2008. Originally appeared in of Zygote in My Coffee, Issue # 104, March 2008.

The day that had been whispered about and feared for thousands of years had arrived. Today was the Day of No Wind.

Jayvin first noticed it when he was in the fields scything wheat that morning. The golden brown stalks, normally dancing recklessly in even a light breeze, stood stark still as though the life had been drained from their stems. The whole world seemed to stop in front of him.

“Jay!” someone was screaming off in the distance. “Jay! It’s happened!”

Jayvin put the scythe over his shoulder. He didn’t dare drop it. The sound of rushed footsteps and brushing wheat came closer, and Jayvin could see stalks waving as Weslyl moved toward him. His friend burst through the brushes in front of him, panting, panic in his eyes. He held a handful of grass.

“Jayvin,” he said, breathing hard, “look!” He held the handful of grass in front of his face and let it go. Every blade dropped to the ground like a handful of pebbles.

He had no idea why Weslyl was bothering to show him this – there were thousands of examples standing around him in the field – but he nodded and clasped a hand on his friends shoulder. Weslyl was always a bit prone to excitement.

“I know, Wes” said Jayvin, squeezing his friend’s shoulder. “Let’s go to the temple and consult the Brothers. Everyone will be there waiting for their orders.”

The hoard was coming, if the prophecy had any merit at all. Creatures of Maghlan would soon be pouring out of the sky, seeking living flesh to consume and build their empire. The wind kept them away, it was said, but now that the wind was gone, the Brotherhood was their only chance of survival. They started running, the scythe bouncing on Jayvin’s shoulder with every step.

The temple stood on the shores of Lake Galyrin, its three tall dark spires contrasting with the pure waters and white clouds set behind it. It looked like a three-talon claw coming out of the ground, eager to grasp at something. But Jayvin knew it wasn’t intended to be pretty – it was intended to be a fortress. Nobody was outside. Jayvin’s field was far from the edge of town, so it would make sense that he and Weslyl would be the last to arrive. Hopefully they hadn’t barred the door to prepare for battle.

They arrived panting at the doorway. Weslyl grasped both of his knees and bent over, his portly frame accustomed to administration rather than physical labor. Jayvin patted him on the back and chanced a look around him. The wind had indeed stopped – the entire world around him was completely motionless. Trees, grass, bushes. No birds flew in the sky. Not even the crows.

Jayvin put his hand on the door and pushed inwards. Weslyl filed in behind him. It was dark inside, lit only by a few torches on the walls. He closed the door behind him. It took a few moments before his eyes adjusted to the darkness, but when they did he wished he had been blinded instead.

Strewn about the massive entryway of the temple were the bodies of everyone in the village. He recognized a few faces that he could make out through the mess. Weslyl bent over beside him to empty his stomach, but he barely noticed. Thousands of tiny red circles glowed brightly throughout the room, shadowing faces inside cowls and robes that Jayvin knew he had seen many, many times before.

“Welcome,” said a voice from somewhere in that horrible sea of red eyes. “Welcome to the Brotherhood of the Maghlan.”

Jayvin dropped his scythe.
"The Day of No Wind"
Copyright: © 2011 Joseph Zieja


Joseph Zieja is the author of several fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories.  He lives and works in Germany as a member of the US Armed Forces, but he's originally from New Jersey - so despite what you say about him, he'll keep writing until you say "uncle". 

Brad hated women.

It wasn’t his fault, but his parents’.

His mother was a loud brassy woman with a chainsaw tongue; his father a weak, insecure man whom his wife’s never-ending insults had made seek solace in alcohol. Brad’s father’s drinking however had made him violent, and after a while, when his wife insulted him, he beat her up, often bloodily.

And yet the pair had remained married.

Brad had silently absorbed all this. While he disliked his father for being a weakling, he hated his mother, particularly since she’d tongue-lashed him into insecurity too.

He’d run away from home at sixteen; drifting and taking on a succession of jobs.

Finally he’d had his first girlfriend, the emotional programming of his early years making him select Tyla, a woman as loud and irritating as his mother had been, with the inevitable results - unable to stomach her tongue, he’d snapped under the influence of drink and beaten her to within six inches of death.

He’d done five years in the state pen for aggravated assault - a reduced sentence because the judge’s son was an old classmate of his.

Once he left jail, Brad had decided it was safer to hate women than to love them.

He’d found no reasons to change his mind since then, and had had no relationships. It had occurred to him to simply date men instead, but here he had major reservations. Men were great for companionship and conversation, but romance . . . ?

Then the alien came.

*   *   *

Trina hated men. Here there was no ambiguous sublimations as if Brad’s case. She hated men because they’d abused her. She hated her father for not loving her, and her four elder brothers for beating her up regularly. Her mother had died when she was four so she’d had no protection from them.

Most of all she hated the drunk male driver who’d left her permanently in a wheelchair with a broken spine, and she hated all the men who never looked at her, only at her glossy friends.

“Homosexuality stalks in dark recesses of my mind,” she was fond of telling Trish, her glossiest friend. “In daytime visions alternate sexuality calls sweetly unto me. I currently seek the last male straw which breaks my heterosexual camel’s back.”

No lesbians came into her daytime actuality however. So Trina contented herself with hating men with all the passion she would have used to love them.

Then the alien came.

*   *   *

The alien was actually a robot, a silvery manlike humandroid with telescoping eyes. It arrived late one afternoon in a battered spaceship it parked out in the Arizona Desert, and set up shop in a prefabricated kiosk: ‘Dr. Sigmund Droid, Psychiatric Cures - Phobia Specialist.’

First there was skepticism in the nearby towns about the new ‘Doctor’, then a few people went into the desert and were cured of their fears of snakes and rats, then there was a deluge of patients and Brad and Trina went too.

*   *   *

“I had a woman in here yesterday with a similar problem to yours,” Dr. Sigmund Droid told Brad after hearing him out. “Only in her case she hated men."

“Why would she do that?” Brad asked, “Men are so cool. Women are the problem.”

“I’m sure Ms. Trina will think the same when I tell her your views of her sex,” the robot psychiatrist replied. “That however, is neither here nor there - it helps neither of you. I however, have a solution in mind - one which might cure you both. Are you willing to try it?”

Brad nodded. A few hours later, Trina nodded too.

Brad and Trina met in Dr. Sigmund Droid’s office and hated each another appropriately for an appropriate amount of time. Then the doctor placed metal caps over their heads wired to a humming gizmo on its desk and flicked a few switches.

The gizmo hummed louder and louder, then stopped. Dr. Sigmund Droid removed the caps from both their heads and stepped back.

“There, both of you should be cured now.”

“I don’t feel any different,” Brad said.

“Me neither,” Trina said.

“Oh but you do,” Dr. Droid said, “Try hating each other now.”

They tried, they really did.

Brad found that rather than hate the pretty woman stuck in the wheelchair, he now hated his dad who’d neglected him as a child, his four brothers who’d beaten the crap out of him, and he hated worst of all the driver who’d put him permanently in a wheelchair . . . shocked, he stopped hating for a moment and examined himself to ensure he was still whole. No, he didn’t hate women any more.

He however HATED those DISGUSTING MEN with a passion.

Trina made the same discovery. She now HATED WOMEN. Most of all she hated her foul-mouthed mother who’d made an alcoholic out of her loving father, and made her beat up her first girlfriend (who wasn’t any better than her stupid mother - YES she HAD been a lesbian that ONE time, SO WHAT!?) into a bloody pulp, and go to jail for it . . . Men were OKAY. But women? Shit, they were worse than crap. She HATED them.

Dr. Sigmund Droid smiled at the pair.

“Like I said, you’re both fine now - perfectly ready to cope with romance.”

*   *   *

“This is some weird shit Trina,” Brad said, “But I think you look cute in that wheelchair. You wanna go get a drink?”

“Yeah let’s.”

“Okay but don’t get worried if I beat up a few guys; you know, I just can’t stand the sight of those disgusting pigs ogling my girl . . .”

“Me, it’s those waitresses I can’t stand, all slinky like snakes, trying to snare my boyfriend . . .”

“Boyfriend eh . . . ?”

Now properly maladjusted, they lived together happily ever after.

"Good Medicine"
Copyright: © 2011 Wol-vriey


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

The phone rang.

"You nervous, kid?" said the male-voice inside.

"Naw. I ain't nervous."

"It's okay if you are. I was nervous the first time I made my bones."

"Well, I'm not," Marty said.

"Good. Meet me outside."

Marty was nervous. Everybody is nervous their first time. Marty shrugged and put his brown leather jacket on. He left his gun on the table because he knew when you do a job they assign you with their own, de-serialized gun. He patted his cat and then opened the door and locked it with the key and then he was standing on the sidewalk, waiting.

The Lincoln's headlights in front of him blinked twice and Marty opened the passenger-side door and got inside.

"Hey," Marty told Dino. Dino nodded his head solemenly. Marty was going to ask who the target was but then he remembered you never ask who the target is: you let them tell you. Dino pulled the car into a black alleyway and then he turned the radio up high. Marty had seen him do this many times.

"OK," Dino said. "The kid's name is Daniel Karwaski. I know you know him. Last month the dumb fuck was caught selling junk to a narcotics agent. His dad paid the 50,000 dollar bail and so now he's out. The inside scoop from our source is he's gonna turn state's witness. We gotta make him disappear, or else, they might nail all our asses with RICO.

"Danny. A rat. You gotta be shitting me."

"It's true, kid. We got somebody on the payroll very high up. He says Danny's gonna turn state's witness. We need to rub him out."

"What's the plan?"

"We take him out for a last hurrah. Have a good time. Get him good and drunk, then we whack him in the car when his guard is down."

Dino drove to the front entrance of Danny's house and honked. Danny rushed out in a three-piece suit.

"The fuck took you so long?" he asked Dino. "Hey, Marty. I didn't see you back there."

"How you doing, Danny?"

"Good," Danny snorted.

Well, Dannyboy, this is it, Marty thought. You're gonna pop my contract-killing cherry. I wish to hell I could just pop you here, now, without having to get drunk with you first. Don't think about his wife or his newborn baby. That don't help. And it don't make no difference. If I don't do it, somebody else will, and then they'll probably ice me too. No, Dannyboy. Sorry. You knew the rules of the game when you first started playing it. And nobody forced you to sell that junk and to sell us all out.

Marty knew he had to kill Danny. There was no way around it. If Louise, Danny's wife, ever needed any help with money Marty would help her. This thought made killing Danny seem more palatable to Marty.

In the bar they ordered two pitchers of Budweiser. Marty and Dino sipped; Danny was sucking them down left and right. Danny told Marty and Dino all about the rackets he had going down. Small time. Gambling, loansharking, stolen credit cards.

"When I get to the top," Danny said, "you two are going up with me."

Dino could tell Danny was shitfaced and so he suggested they go to another bar.

"Why not?" Danny said, play-punching Marty in the shoulder. "Let's go."

Marty was in the backseat of the Lincoln. Dino driving. Danny in the passenger seat-- directly in front of Marty. Marty had grabbed the de-serialized thirty-eight from underneath the car seat and pressed the safety off. Marty could hear Danny bullshitting Dino about all the rackets he had planned on cutting Dino and Marty in on. Dino adjusted the rear-view mirror and then Marty aimed the gun at the back of Danny's head. Nothing personal, Dannyboy, Marty thought as he pulled the trigger.


Marty was shocked that the backseat of the car was bloodless. The same couldn't be said, however, about the front: blood, skull chunks and brain matter decorated most of the dashboard and frontseat windows.

Dino drove the car off the offramp and on to the deserted street. While Dino was wiping the blood off the window with a rag Marty grabbed Danny's body to throw on to the side of the road.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Dino said.

"Getting rid of Danny."

"Not here, you dumbfuck," Dino said. "Danny's dad's a lawyer. If they find his body he'll crucify us. Remember what I said. Dannyboy has to disappear.

"Get his feet," Dino said and together they threw what was left of Danny into the trunk.

They drove to Dino's house.

"Help me get him to the garage," Dino said.

"What's in there?" asked Marty.

"My power tools."

Marty had done a lot of hacking and sawing and cutting by himself in Dino's garage that night.

When Marty had finished and they had gotten the tiny pieces of Dannyboy into the oildrum and then off the pier and into the ocean Marty knew what it had felt like to be a man.


Copyright: © 2011 Jack Bristow


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

The army drones crawl from under my neighbor’s vine,
trailing a slippery streak of silver towards the garden of mine.
Camouflaged against the brick, the heedless foot gambles over the lot,
a miss will squish crunchy goop, like a delicate vase full of snot.
With bucket and glove, I pick, I pluck, and I plunk those
little bastards like dirty love,
but they have eager hearts and fight their way to the rim,
feelers erect and squirming to live.
“I brought at least forty,” I say, knowing they hide like dirty rats.
“Forty snails,” I say again. “That gets me at least the Wright’s cat.”
The hair on my arm bristles at the shake of nearby brush
and faces emerge from the thistle, sneering with malice and such.
Not like pastel fairies, aglow and shimmering,
but muddy, wrinkled, and green-eyed with jolly beards so deceiving.
The gnomes are mean as evil sprites, unless I bring them something nice:
snails, slugs, frogs, and moles or when I’m desperate, koi with tadpoles.
“Cat is 100,” one of them snarls.
“60,” I reply, receding from the yard.
“90,” the red hat one says with a hop, as a snail crests and drops into his greasy chops.
I lift the bucket over my head, as they encircle around me, heart beating dread.
“Doggy, doggy, doggy,” I advise. “What a great idea for Scotty’s Christmas surprise.”
“75,” one with a shovel says.
“45,” I return. Never back down, the gypsy woman said.
“Give us the bucket and we’ll scare the cat,” he tells me with putrid grin.
“50 or I’ll promise you two Doberman.”
The rowdy gang disappears into a thicket of mugwort. An hour later,
a knock at the door reveals something in the dirt.
It's the Wright’s cat, limp as a mink scarf,
poor little Mitsy shouldn’t shit by my car.
With bucket and glove, I scrape, scoop, and skip to the hill,
thorny limbs slashing at my bare heel.
“I brought a cat,” I say, waiting for the shadows to come.
Then, like eagles in the night sky, charcoaled wings flap and drum.
I drop the bucket and back up,
for one touch of those stony talons would bring bad luck.
“Male or female,” one gargoyle hisses at the pail.
“Female of course — not even missing her tail.”
“Which house?” Another asks, spinning a roll of toilet paper to string like rain.
“The bright blue one down the block, still smelling of fresh paint.”

"Bartering in the Hood"

Copyright: © 2011 Erin Cole


Erin Cole has work published both online and in print, but is most proud of her novel, Grave Echoes: A Kate Waters Mystery.  She balances her love of writing horror with good deeds, such as treating hitchhikers with respect, paying her taxes, and telling her children the truth about their coloring skills.  She blogs regularly at

They're dead, Mom and Pop, but you're not supposed to talk about it. Ask where they'd been. How they'd come back.

The name "BOSKO" is back on the mailbox, spelled right this time. The old way used to make you laugh, imagining chocolate syrup sweetening near-sour milk. When you peer inside the mailbox, you swear you see something. In a gold envelope. From the government, probably.

Walking down the old hallway, you feel weird. It got longer, somehow. Even wearing sneakers, your footsteps echo. As you pass, none of the neighbors' doors creak open. Nobody's nosy anymore.

The bent key is back on your key ring, along with that gag-plate reading, "Keys to the Rolls Royce." In those days you couldn't drive. Or light a match. Hey, there was a time you couldn't even wipe your own ass.

They said you never would. They said you couldn't do anything.

The lock seems to suck in the key. Before you can change your mind, the heavy door swings open. And you're there.

You expect the smell to be worse. Thinking of that day you found him in there, three days dead. Purple, and swollen more than twice his size. Dead from grief, as she'd gone first, only months before. Right in the casino, down in Atlantic City. A moment after she'd pulled the lever...

The smell's not so bad, really. Almost "normal." As normal as the stench of old people's flesh and swirling dust can be. There's an under-smell, though. You wish you were better at holding your breath. You wish they'd taught you to swim.

In the kitchen they're in their old spots, he in that sticky chair by the window, reading his newspapers. Being dead twelve years, he's got a lot to read. The yellowed Star Ledgers are piled all over the flat. Spilling off the table onto the floor. It hasn't been mopped since they died, and it looks it. It looked that way then, you think.

His face is still purple, but has lost some of its bloat. "You look good, Pop," you lie, but he doesn't answer. Just like the old days, he hates to be interrupted while he's reading.

She is walking back and forth, trying to rush, but she can't. It's been so long since she used her legs. The greasy stove is covered with pots and pans you remember throwing out. You guess she's cooking, but you're not sure what. It's a little dead girl playing house.

Like him, she doesn't look at you. "Hi, Mom," you say.

She's so busy doing what she's doing, she nearly bumps into you. That other smell hits you. She wears embalming fluid the way she used to wear Avon. She looks the way she did at the wake, not like herself at all. Fancy green dress, hair fixed just so. You know now why she's not looking at you, not saying a word: both her eyelids and lips are sewn shut.

"What's for supper?" you ask anyway.

You realize it's on the table, between two piles of unread Star Ledgers. Whatever it is, it's on an old chipped plate with tea roses on the border. It's underneath a paper towel. It smells bad. So bad, you feel dizzy. It stinks. It's...rotten.

And it's moving.

Paper still in his swollen hand, he starts to get up.

She's seated across from that rancid meal, feeling around for her True cigarettes. The "old heart-stoppers," you used to call them. And how "True" that was.

Frustrated, she starts pulling the threads out of her eyes. You scream.

And keep screaming. It's the one sound you hear, as you run out of the flat. Through the deserted hallway. Out the boarded front door.

Not till you're in your car, the red Jag you'd worked half your life for, taking bets and turning tricks, tearing up streets, smoking your own True Blues, do you calm down some. Think about pinching yourself. Instead, you switch on the radio.

"Cath," you hear, in her tinny, muffled voice. "Cathy, please say you've got a light."

"Duty Call"

Copyright: © 2011 Cindy Rosmus


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

“Duty Call.” Collected in Gutter Balls by Cindy Rosmus. Copyright © 2007 by Fossil Publications. Black Petals, No. 34, Winter 2006. Copyright © 2006 by Fossil Publications.
Dan Tanner lay awake in bed. He sleeps to the right of Beth. I love her. I love what she used to be, anyway, Dan thinks. Now she is nothing but a shell of her former self. Dead. Good as dead, anyway.

Beth Tanner was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer five years ago. Then the doctor had told Dan she had six months; a year, with radiation treatment. But now it has been five years--five years of misery, Dan Tanner thinks. Five years of being a goddamn caregiver; five years of being off work; five years of her just laying there, wasting away...

The dog, Mr. Bumps, a golden retriever, jumps on the bed, waking up Beth. "Who is this?" she asks. "It's just Mr. Bumps," Dan Tanner says.

"Who?" Beth asks, feebly. "Mr. Bumps," Dan shouts over the boisterous respirator noises.

Today is the tenth anniversary. Five good years, and five lousy ones, Dan thinks, bitterly, getting out of bed, slipping into his dog slippers. I have a good present for Beth today, and myself, for that matter, Dan thinks. The best present I could give anyone in our situation.

Dan walks to the coffeepot, and presses its red button, Mr. Bumps following him. "Mr. Bumps," he says sadly, sentimentally. "I've found you a new owner. Mr. Drebson. Great fellow, he is. He has a full eight acres of land for you to have fun on and a nice little bitch of your same breed for you to make babies with. In fact, that's the reason he wants you."

Mr. Bumps wags his tail, ignorantly.

Dan picks up the phone . Dials. "Hello.

Mr. Drebson? Oh, you'll be here in an hour? Fantastic, Mr. Drebson. I can't wait; yes, of course. He has all his tags and shots." A pause.

"Okay. See you then. Thanks." Dan hangs up then he calls his mother and father and tells them how much he loves them.

"How is Beth doing?" the mother asks.

"Bad, mom. But I have a feeling she'll start to do better..."

The bell rings from the master bedroom. That goddamn miserable, incessant bell. I've been hearing you whine five years now. Five years of you. I'm not gonna miss you. No, sir.

Dan walks to the master bedroom.

"Yes honey. You rang?"

"Could you make me some oatmeal?" her raspy voice asks.

"Absolutely, hun. Do you know what day today is?"

Silence, except for the respirator.

"Our anniversary."

Then: "Please just get me my oatmeal."

He comes back with a steamy bowl of oatmeal.

He takes off her respirator mask and feeds her with a spoon, like a baby. Her lips, once pouty and naturally bright red are now purple and whithered; her bald head looks so thin and feeble that Dan is afraid that if he kisses it too harshly it will crack and shatter like a cheap dollar store vase. After he feeds her her last spoonful Dan Tanner kisses gently her cold, clammy forehead.

"Happy anniversary, honey. I love you."

He walks into the spare bedroom. The bedroom is bare except for his war decorations and a mahogany desk. He gazes up at the decorations a second. As if they are some kind of reaffirmation to him that his life hasn't been a complete and utter failure. He then opens the uppermost desk drawer and gets out the thirty eight and inspects the chamber. Two bullets.

Dan grabs Mr. Bumpers by the collar and guides him into the living room and leashes him then knotting the leash around the dinner table. On top of the dinner table he leaves all the papers for Mr. Drebson.

Dan then walks back to the bedroom, gun in hand.

He slowly and coolly aims the pistol on the delicate form that breathes sporadically underneath the covers, then fires. He is sure she is dead but checks for a heartbeat anyway. There is none. He then puts the gun inside his mouth the way the Lieutenant had shown him to put it if the Vietcong had ever closed in on him; his hands now shaky.


*   *   *

Mr. Drebson arrives an hour later. The front door is open but he knocks anyway. He sees the dog tied to the dinnertable inside and goes in to pet him then calls the owner.

"Hello." Silence. He walks farther into the corridor and then that is where he begins to see the terrible mess. Crimson walls, bedsheets, and carpeting...

First he feels for a pulse on the mangled form on the bed. Nothing. Then he feels for the gentleman's on the floor. A slight, weak beat. Mr. Drebson runs to the telephone and dials 9-11.

The paramedics, with the assistance of Mr. Drebson, lift Mr. Tanner on to the gurney then rush him in the howling ambulance to the First Community Hospital.

There Mr. Tanner spent the last five years of his life in a vegatative state.

"Death Do We Part"

Copyright: © 2011 Jack Bristow

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

“No, no, you're going about it all wrong,” Vlad the Impaler said, chastising John Wayne Gacy. Gacy was rolling a body into a trench he had dug in his basement crawlspace.

“You're going to run out of room,” Vlad said. “You have to dislocate the major joints first, like this.”
Vlad pretended to dislocate his elbow. He pushed his dangling forearm back and forth like a pendulum. “See? See?” Vlad burst into a gale of laughter which didn't subside until tears were flowing from his eyes. Gacy wasn't amused. He shook his head began shoveling dirt onto the body in the trench.

Vlad seemed to sense the inappropriateness of his outburst and fell into a subdued silence.

“I'm terribly sorry,” Vlad said. “I know this is serious business, but sometimes I can't...hey John, or should I call you 'Pogo'?” Vlad poked John Wayne Gacy in the side. “Who's on first? Huh? Who's on first?”

An increasingly irritated Gacy pushed his shovel into the dirt and leaned on the handle. “What are you talking about?”

“No, What's on second!” Vlad blurted, howling laughter once again. Gacy slapped Vlad's face, and The Impaler fell silent.

“Now look,” Gacy said. “I know you're a legend in this field, but if you're not going to help you might as well leave.”

“A thousand apologies,” Vlad said, wiping his eyes. Gacy turned back to his work.

“I'm honored that you'd consult me on a case as large as this one,” Vlad said. “By the way, have you considered cremating some of your victims and burying their ashes in a Grecian urn?”

“What's a Grecian urn?” Gacy asked.

“About two thousand drachmas a day!” Vlad fell to the floor laughing, rolling and holding his stomach. Gacy took the shovel and used it to separate Vlad's head from his body. He dug another trench and buried Vlad's corpse.

Gacy brushed the dirt from his hands as he went back upstairs. “There's only room for one clown in this basement,” he muttered, turning off the basement light and closing the door behind him.

"Clowning Around"
Copyright: © 2011 Robert C. Eccles

Robert C. Eccles is a radio news reporter and anchor who enjoys writing short horror and sci-fi stories.

Marv, Jake and Luke put on their costumes. White robes with red cross-patches on them and peaked white hoods. The hoods covered their entire heads, with just a pair of eyeholes cut in them.

“Fuck man, this is creepy,” Luke said. “We look just like the KKK.”

“That is the whole idea. Stop being such a pussy.”

Luke glared at Marv. Marv ignored him, began loading himself with weapons.

Jake got out his slang dictionary, opened it to Racial Insults, thumbed to the ‘Negroes’ section.

“Nigger,” he said softly. The word sounded dirty ugly -like an alligator lurking in a Mississippi swamp. He said it again, inserting a southern drawl: “Neegra . . . dumb neegra . . .”

“Will you please stop saying that?” You’re freaking me out, Jake.”

“You’re such a sissy Luke. This has got to be realistic, okay? Just make sure you don’t lose your damn nerve when we pick the neegra up . . .”

“Stop saying it!”

“Dude,” Marv said softly. “You make one giveaway crack when we pick him up, and I’ll shoot you before I shoot him.”

*   *   *

They stopped the hovercar. Overhead the desert sun burned HOT. In the distance a lone tree watched the sands like the ghost of bad things impendent.

Jake, Marv and Luke pushed the black-hooded man out into the heat. They pushed him along toward the tree, then unhooded him.

Hanson Wayans, middle-aged black businessman, stared at the three Ku Klux Klan members in horror. “I’m telling you I haven’t done anything.”

“But you did neegra,” Jake said, laughing. “Mah sista Peggy said she done see you ogling her.”

Hanson Wayans eyes grew large. “You gentlemen are mistaken; I never . . .” His eyes hardened. “For heaven’s sake - this isn’t Mississippi in the sixties, what sort of shit is this?”

“Consider this time-travel boy,” Jake said, brandishing his knife. “We here don’t take kindly to neegras looking at white women.”

Hanson gaped at the three Klan members in disbelief. “This is America, this is 2032 . . . You know - I had a dream? What is going on!?”

“Ain’t gonna warn you to curb that sassy tongue again boy,” Marv growled.

Hanson Wayans’ bravado drained out of him like diesel from a punctured tank. He stared at his hands. “Why?”

“He just don told you dat nigger,” Marv said. “We’re your Interracial Time Machine. Now pull down your pants boy, he got some cuttin' to do.”

Luke was sweating bullets. He said nothing; he was ready to cut and run. He’d almost not turned up to execute the plan, but that would have shown him to be yellow.

Jake advanced on the black man, waving his knife menacingly. “I’m gonna cut your balls off coon, stick em in a cup, watch you bleed like a stuck pig . . . serve you right for eyeing our women.”

“Yeah boy,” Marv added, “Can’t have you black animals thinkin ah defiling white purity - thinkin ah makin high-yella baboon kids.”

“Then we’ll string ya up to that tree over there.”

“Yeah boy, we gonna have ourselves a sweet southern lynching up north here . . .”

“No you won’t,” Hanson Wayans said quietly. He’d stopped shaking.

“What you say boy?” Jake asked, his heart beating faster. “You tryin to sass us again? What you say, Neegra!?”


It happened almost too fast for the eye to follow. In a rippling split-second of madness, Hanson Wayans expanded into a monster.

A Haman. A seven-foot-tall three-eyed, three-armed, legless thing covered with porcupine quills.

Yawning a mouth full of teeth, tongue slobbering, it leapt at Jake.

Marv was however faster. He stepped between them, letting off a volley of explosive shells at the Haman.

The alien tottered unsteadily for ages, spouting green gore, then it crumbled into the desert sand and dissolved into slime.

Luke discovered he’d peed himself.

*   *   *

The atmosphere on the drive back was celebratory.

“The one thing Haman’s can’t cope with is racial abuse,” Jake explained for the umpteenth time. “Apparently on their home world, they were a maltreated minority, got racial abuse aplenty - it’s why they came to Earth.”

“It seems a stupid way to become accepted; eating people and taking their place,” Marv said.

“So they’re stupid. Fuck em, fuck their home world.”

“I feel sorry for Mrs. Wayans; I know her - she’s a nice lady.”

“When he doesn’t show, she’ll assume he’s run off with another woman,” Jake said. “Much better than being eaten in her bed one night by the Haman.”

Luke said nothing. He was drowning in embarrassment, though his friends had tactfully said nothing about his wet pants.

He knew Jake had the right idea. The government couldn’t very well hand guns to everyone and tell them to start insulting (and shooting) everyone they met; could they?

*   *   *

They got back into town.

“Hey Luke,” Jake said. “Tomorrow you rent Nazi uniforms - say they’re for a play we’re doing.”

“Shit Jake. That’s what I said the last time. Why’d I always get the bullshit jobs? They’re going to be looking at me like . . .”

“Stop bitching,” Marv said. “You knew the score when you joined Interracial Time Machine - Jake does the planning, I handle the weapons, and you’re the gofer - how’s our organization going to function smoothly if you don’t hold up your end - can’t even handle a simple rental? And who says you have to get the costumes from the same shop anyway?”

Jake nodded. “We need authentic WWII gear, swastikas, lugers, the full works. We’ll be skinheads too - we gotta overload on the sort of shit that freaks Jews out: the next Haman’s masquerading as a Rabbi down at the old synagogue. I’m just not sure which one he is.”

He pulled out his slang dictionary and began to memorize anti-Semitic insults.

"Retro Race Relations Rumble"

Copyright: © 2011 Wol-vriey


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