They held him down and wired his hands behind him, the wire cutting tight into his meaty wrists, then stood him up and blindfolded him then marched him into their vehicle and drove him away. He was in some wooded lot but now they were taking him somewhere else, where he didn’t know, couldn’t know, had no chance of seeing where, all he knew was that they were driving and he was being driven with wired wrists and blinded eyes.

At least they didn’t gag his mouth.

“Where are you—”

The smack made him feel its sting, numbing his jaw. He couldn’t tell if it was really a smack or a punch but it hurt so bad he couldn’t speak. He wanted to know where they were taking him of course but now it didn’t matter because he knew that in less than an hour he would be dead anyway. At least that’s what they said before when they wired his hands.

In what seemed just a few minutes the vehicle stopped. He heard shuffling feet but no voices. Then a door opened and he felt angry hands grab at his arms and yank him up and move him. He stumbled on something then felt what he guessed was pavement. He sensed the presence of one of them close to him but wasn’t sure if it was the vehicle or something else.

Then he heard what struck terror all through him.


The sounds of passing vehicles emanated from somewhere. He felt himself being moved, walking forward. The sounds seemed to get closer. They seemed to be coming from below his range of hearing.

I’m on an overpass.

He heard a vehicle pass nearby, then another, but the continuous sounds confirmed it.

I’m standing on an overpass. They’re going to throw me off.

Suddenly he felt something being wrapped around him. Something that felt like a rope, or maybe a longer wire. He felt them putting it under his arms and tightening it around his chest. Someone was behind him pulling at it, getting it tighter, now too tight. It constricted him, but he could still breathe well enough. But it was too tight, it cut into his flesh, moreso than the wire on his wrists.

Someone pulled at his hair from behind and yanked his head back. The traffic seemed to get louder in his ears. Someone spoke from his left.

“You had many chances. We gave you so many chances to tell us but you refused. You signed your own death wish.”

The pain in his chest became more intense as he felt himself being moved again, but only a few steps until he felt something solid against his hips. Hands from both sides lifted him sideways, to his right, and he felt the solid thing on his shoulder and legs and hip. Hands pushed his feet forward and then he felt himself drop. Whatever it was they tied tightly around him cut deeper into the flesh of his chest and back, against his armpits. The pain was excruciating and his mind raced, realizing that he was being lowered into the sound of all that traffic, which was no doubt an expressway during rush hour.

The air was cool and he felt a breeze on his face, but it did nothing to diminish the pain. The sound of the traffic, the passing vehicles, got closer. He began to focus on his feet, knowing that soon he would feel something strike against them, and hard. It would be the top of a semi more than likely and maybe the impact would crack his feet right off. A semi going 70 miles an hour could do that, he thought. He instinctively bent his knees to raise his feet up but then he thought that would be even worse if his knees and legs got it so he straightened them out again and tried to think of something else, anything else, which was hard to do when you’re being lowered into oncoming traffic, all those vehicles rushing to get to work or wherever the fuck they were going, and then suddenly blowing their horns since they’re seeing you now, you, a body hanging off an overpass, your eyes blinded by some wrap, the cars and the trucks and campers and motorcycles not seeming to slow down but instead speeding up, why would they do that, shouldn’t they be stopping, but no, they can’t just stop, there are hundreds of them, they can’t stop, you’re not some ornament on a tree or some landmark they need to look at, you’re just a body hanging from an overpass and that fucking semi just took off your feet and you’re swinging around and being lowered even further, right in the path of a Winnebago and BAM it bashes against your chest and those wires cut into your ribs, you feel as if they’re gonna cut you in half but they don’t, you’re just bashed by another one and you see that your legs are deformed and lower you go so that you’re level with the oncoming traffic, a little break in it but that’s no relief since your ribs are cracked and there’s blood dripping out of your legs where your feet were and BAM right in the fucking head another one hit, it hit the wire that hangs you there too, and you’re catapulted around and back so that you’re struck by yet another one, and now it’s all black and you can’t feel much now, can’t see that your intestines are hanging out of your bloodied torso, those wires still slicing through you as if you’re a block of cheese, but soon it’ll be over, soon you’ll be splattered on the fucking freeway like a deer and you’ll be a carcass, bashed open like a human pinata, all those cars and trucks and whatever else swerving to miss hitting you, their drivers unaware at first of what’s in the road, maybe it is a deer but no it’s a fucking person, oh my fucking god, it’s a person and then you’re done, you’re history, everything’s over, there’s blood and guts and brain matter and limbs in the road, your torso and head are all that remain intact, they’re still lovers, they still love each other so much but they died together, your head cracked in half but still connected to the neck, the neck still connected to the shoulders, but what bloody mayhem of a mess you are now, you’re just a dead thing in pieces that had been hanging from an overpass. That’s really all you are.

By Jeff Callico

The Game

It was the game. This is how we played.

 You wanna be a warrior bitch? Well we’re stuck in this together, we have to  hunt as a team, we have to fuck as a team, we have to go down like a team. It seemed like a whack job to me but no one was ranking too high on the sanity charts in this fucking warehouse. If you got bit you were taken back and whoever your team was had to deal with you, take responsibility for you.

 Sara got bit, she was heaving and sweating, putting on the battle gear, muttering ‘cunts’ under her breath. ‘Fuck you Sara,’ I said. I didn’t want to die on her bitch ass account, because she couldn’t figure out how to keep biters off of her. Yeah she could move fast but she got in tight spots all the time. She was weak, and we all knew it was only a matter of time before this was going to happen.

We were holed up in a warehouse . . . yeah, it was fucking stocked warehouse, food, water, tools, clothes, and lingerie. Cons, the self-proclaimed leader of our band of refugees, thought it only fair for the women to put on the skimpiest lingerie and the highest heels when battling a lost team member. In his mind we were gladiators, should be able to fight with the most unfair advantages, and with the most skin exposed for possible flesh wounds. Because, to Cons, we fucked up, our team fucked up and Sara was turning into a flesh ripper because of our fucking negligence, so death better be breathing down our goddamn necks.

Tory hit me with one of her heels between the shoulder blades, ‘You were on Sara watch, Ella, now we’re all in this shit.’ I snarled at her and recoiled. I knew it was my fault and as Sara started drooling blood and foaming at the mouth I knew I might be fucked. No one had my back. They were gonna fucking throw me at her. I slid on assless pink hot pants and a matching pink leather bra strap. My heels were well beyond 6 inches of clear plastic, picked out by my caring team members, you know the kind preferred by strippers and straight up hookers. Sara was wearing something equally garish with peach zombie nipples poking out from her now crooked electric blue bra top. The other girls dressed accordingly in thongs and babydoll nighties with stilettos strapped firmly on. They were back up. I was the team leader, I was going in, hand to hand. I had to snap her fucking neck.

‘Alright bitches’ Cons said from one of the warehouse platforms. ‘We lost my baby girl Sara today and you can bet one of you puntas is gonna put her down like a family dog, or get what you deserve and die trying.’ He paused with a glaring eye at me, but I just flicked my red hair. It really wasn’t my fault he was banging the cum slut who couldn’t go for a simple weapons run without getting her goddamn arm bit by a stray. Fuck. I’d survived in a convenient store alone with a dull hatchet longer than she’d stayed alive with us.

Now she was frothing and now she was ready to go. As if she knew I was the target, that little cunt charged right at me, my ‘team’ didn’t even have to guide her in my direction. She bowled me over with her snapping dead breath rotting right in my face. Pressing my forearm against her throat I kept her at bay, but she was getting stronger the longer she was dead, the less her muscles reacted to human feelings. I managed to wedge my enormous plastic heel in her pubic bone and kick her off, back into the cement warehouse wall. The girls whooped, Cons grimaced. He really wanted Sara to rip my scalp open. But I had her now, disorientated against the wall. I made my move and lunged ready to go for the final spinal snap. Right as I reached in and twisted Sara’s spindly neck that’s when I felt it, the incisors raking against my arm. Breaking skin. Biting, hard. Sara fell at my feet. No one said a word. It was still and quiet, then a click as Tory took the safety off her gun.

‘No,’ Cons said. ‘Let me.’

By Emily Smith-Miller

To Free Yourself

 I’m sitting in the kitchen sink.

 Some rags, twisted and corded like sundried snakes, sit beside me and I’d like it if one of them was long enough so I could string it to the light fixture on the ceiling, hang myself and get this charade over with, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t do that to the kids.  Not that I haven’t thought about it.  Not that Duane would miss me a whole lot.  He keeps telling me I’ve let myself go to hell.

 “Why don’t you take those damn wedding pictures down?  Aren’t you ashamed when people come over and wonder who that is?”

I don’t know how I got here.  They say no little girl imagines herself growing up being a prostitute.  No one dreams of being homeless.  I sure didn’t figure on ending up this way, as this version of me.  Yeah, I guess this is me: Darlene Rosemary Schadle Hockaday.

How did I even get in this sink?  Blackout?  My butt’s so big that I’m stuck now.  Kids are fishing with their daddy.  When Duane gets back he’ll probably keel over from laughing.  Bet he’ll say, “I’ma leave you there till you lose enough weight to free yourself.  How’s that for a homemade diet?”

Duane thinks he’s witty, a card, thinks I don’t know about Lila and the reasons why he started trimming his beard and nose hair.  The poem I found broke my heart, not because it was about her, but because it was beautiful.

Don’t think I can’t see you there, Mr. Butcher Block with your black-handled knives.  I do.  I know I could grab the longest and shove it through my chest and be on my way home to meet my maker or the other guy that runs the hot springs.

Come to think of it, I will have me one of those knives.  It’s a stretch—it’s always a stretch when you’re my size—but I reach over and get a big blade.  I don’t even think about it, just set to work right quick because I know if I hesitate I’ll plumb chicken out.

My housecoat rips apart easily, like toilet paper.  It’s the meat around my hips that gives me fits, that hurts like hell, but even still I’m committed.  The blood comes in rivers.  I don’t care.  I wince.  I slice and saw.  When I’m done there’s a real mess to clean, yet it feels good in a queer sort of way, having freed myself.

By Len Kuntz

Margaritas and Razor Blades: After Five Porno for Skeptics

Tonight I am meeting a man who calls himself Oblivion. It’s not really a date, and I am not exactly sure what I am going to say to him, if I need to say anything to him at all. I wasn’t afraid in so many unsaid words, but I was reticent, as one should be when one is finally going to get to look into the black hard gaze of the man who plans to leverage your soul. He was a collector: vomit, hair, toenail clippings, even menstrual blood. This time he said he wanted bone right down to the marrow. I wasn’t sure I was ready to go that far, but he’d called it in, and so I didn’t really have a choice. I put some lipstick on my cigarette while he just watched me cross and uncross my leather-clad legs. We sat like that for hours before anything was said, before the terms of our arrangement were acknowledged, which he did so by showing his mettle. The hard edge caught in my eye as the grubby bar light glinted off it when he pulled it out of the little black satchel at his feet along with a pair of florescent orange nitrile gloves. “For the cavity search,” he said with a platinum grin. Didn’t want to just spring it on me like that, but his internet connection had gone down last night before we’d had a chance to finish our little chat. The thread had just gone dead, and I thought that was how it was supposed to be. “No contact,” he’d typed as his last words. People are strange when it comes to what they think they own. I’d always thought what I possessed was mine, in a physical sense. I didn’t believe that anymore. The first time we met, he’d reshuffled my thoughts on all this with a butane torch and a nail gun. He was going to save me from myself so that I didn’t just end up a body inside a suitcase tossed in swamp one day. “Did you bring it?” he asked, and I handed him the plastic baggie of leftover motel soap. He wanted to know that I was clean, wanted to see my pubic hair stuck to the crusted-over lather. He would use it to wash the blood off his gloves later. The first couple of times, I felt a little disappointed that he wouldn’t touch me without the gloves, but he said he never took anything for granted. He didn’t want to taint me with his scent or his flesh. “I don’t want to love you or rape you,” he said. “I simply want to slit your fucking throat.”

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

But I Thought You Loved Me

I liked it when you said the thought of killing
someone got you hot that it gave you an instant
hard-on and it made me so wet and I couldn’t get
you inside me fast enough I had to have you
thrusting that knife into me and give me everything
you’ve got just the feel of your cock in my pussy and
your breath on my neck and your hands on my tits
fingers pinching my nipples so hard I could scream
and the thought of you taking a human life bringing me
thismuchclosertocumming and your hands were on my
neck around my neck and squeezing like a fucking boa
constrictor and then when they got tighter and tighter
I realized how serious you were about killing someone
only I had no idea at all that it
was me

By Cynthia Ruth Lewis

Two by Valentina Cano

Firebird in Captivity

These works of fire you dangle

above me are losing their ashy feathers.

The crinkling edges bend and wave

in the sighing light.

You shake your head like a towel,

giving me dryness and warmth

as I dance on cushions throughout

our empty rooms.


The table catches quick fire.

I think it’s the first that cradles the heat

as the chairs crackle around,

a gaggle of woodchips flapping away.

You wave your arm like trimmed wings

and feed the flames invisible seeds.

I swing my ax of hair

and laugh as it sizzles like meat.



With a tail whip

the fire created a trench between us

a quickening thread of angry particles.

I bent as the heat brushed

my face with its fins,

and you paced in front of me

as if the air was clawing inside you.

This is bad, I know.

Your ruffled hair,

 shadowed by smoke,

is no longer a wonder for me.

I cannot find myself shining

under your cellophane skin.

We have spread apart,

gaunt as fish hooks,

dripping blood from a toothed fight,

eyes like creatures from the deep.

By Valentina Cano


Dissection Karma

SCOTT DRAGGED THE BURLAP SACK ACROSS THE COLD, concrete  floor of the basement, slipped on a pair of powder-less medical gloves, untied it and slid her out. He picked her up, set her atop the long stainless-steel table, peeled off her tiger-printed skirt and strapped her down. He slipped on a clear plastic poncho, a clear plastic butcher’s apron and a matching clear-plastic mask. He walked over to the small wooden table on the opposite side of the room, unrolled the curl of black leather and admired the tools laid out before him. Meat cleaver, scalpel, corkscrew, suction hose, forceps, sewing needles and a roll of fishing line.

            Everything had been prepped and ready for this day as if it were the coronation of a new beginning. It’d been like this every night he brought a woman home; this raven-haired beauty laid out in front of him wasn’t the first. There had been others like her, others who’d taken their beauty for granted and used it for other purposes like one night stands and the free drinks that led on him like Darcy Cross the high school sweetheart who’d gotten his help on a history test and promised him a wild night but all she did was leave him high and dry. He would’ve given her his life and now that one little moment was the culmination of his actions both past and present. Since then, he vowed to eradicate everyone one of them until they got his message, understood his reason.

            Tonight’s victim had been flirting with the bartender of a cowboy-themed bar. He had to make sure he was working the floors tonight so that he could spike her Pina Colada and tell her he was taking her home. The fact that she had believed him, a stranger, made him think she would’ve went home with anybody if it hadn’t been him. She would’ve been out in no time. Dead before the guy had a chance to come.

            He scanned every part of her, ran his fingers through her shoulder length dark hair, across her forehead, followed the contour of her nose and then the rest of her face. Pale mounds of blue-veined bosom sat on her chest, topped off by dark-brown areolas; a neatly-shaven patch shaped like a shovelhead was located between nicely-shapen legs. No wonder all the boys wanted her. She could have any guy she wanted and he was honored to have been chosen.

            He patted her stomach with one gloved hand and picked up the meat cleaver and the scalpel with his other. He admired the scalpel in the downward glare of a bare light bulb, watching it wink like a chrome bumper in sunlight. He pressed the scalpel into the left side of her abdomen and guided the blade across, splitting the skin. A long river of blood seeped out but with one straight sweep of the suction hose and there was no problem.

            Smiling, Scott pinched the wounds on both sides and peeled back the folds of pale skin. This was what he wanted the most. The intestines, liver, kidneys were all just a masterpiece of perfection; the cogs of a time bomb ready to explode under the throes of wild passionate—and regrettable—sex. To him, it was the core of a nocturnal predator stalking the night in search of innocent and defenseless prey. He would make sure that no other man would feel his pain.      

            First, he removed the liver and dropped it into the little metal bucket at the foot of the table. He’d given that bucket its own name: The Gut Bucket. The bucket had been cleaned out this morning even though it wasn’t dirty but precaution led to perfection and cleanliness led to Godliness. He didn’t want to get sick while he was working, did he? Even the smallest infection, even a minor cold for that fact, would delay his work and take him days to recuperate from.

            To lighten the mood, he hit the PLAY button on his stereo system and waited for the CD to load. When it did, Level 42 came on with “Something About You”.

            He took out the intestines—all sixty feet of it and dropped it into The Gut Bucket like a long dead snake. Then, he removed the kidney and dropped that on top of the intestines. All of them would be burned, right along with the mischievous beauty these blood suckers harbored. It was the only way to cleanse their bodies and release them from their Botox prisons. He reached over and let his fingers glide down her face again.

            “I’m ready to carry you away to a brand new—.”

         He reached over for the meat cleaver and came up empty. He was sure he’d brought it over to the table with him but now he needed it. They wouldn’t know it was him unless he cut off her feet and burned the stubs closed so the wounds wouldn’t heal.              

         A blinking light caught his attention from the corner of his left eyes. When he turned around, his mouth fell open with awe. He took off the mask to make sure his mind hadn’t been playing with him and was sad to believe that it wasn’t. The coil of intestines that he’d dropped into The Gut Bucket had spilled out, stretched itself across the cold concrete floor and wrapped itself around the handle of the meat cleaver. The intestines coiled back like a rattlesnake, ready to strike; the blade glinted under the lamp, throwing ghosts of light across the fractured red brick walls. He tried to move but found it difficult; his muscles were paralyzed with horror.

            At least I tried, Scott thought as the intestines snapped toward him like a whip and buried the meat cleaver into the top of his clean-shaven skull.

By Brian J. Smith