Naked Portrait in Rouge

 You needed to change the type of sandpaper you were using to a coarser grit. You’d got through the cartilage, but the kneecap was giving you a hard time of it. You hated to stop, mid artistic thought, but it really didn’t matter. The sissy-boy had passed out long before you had ever even hit the bone.

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

Dr. Mandible is Your Friend

My name is Dr. Mandible

I like to take the intangible

And make them into

Reality . . .

 I will break your heart in two,

With a carving blade,

Not a lover’s spade!

And split your gut with a butcher’s tool!

 I can put that foot right in your mouth,

Though, it might hurt just a touch.

And if you want to lose your head,

 I can help!

With a whack of my axe.

 Then place it somewhere you will never look.

 I will pull your leg right off,

Just to beat in your brains with it.

 Then I’ll roll your eyes into a country jam

 And feed them to you on some buttered toast,

 With a piece of your simple mind.

 Because my name is Dr. Mandible,

 And I like to take things literal,

 You are just the person to show some spine.

By Emily Smith-Miller


No one wanted to die, no one really does, even though they say they do they really don’t, but he killed them anyway, he killed them and poured gas over them and lit them up, watched them burn into crisp corpses, then left the scene and went about his business of living.

This was a Wednesday, the day he hated the most, he hated it since he was a kid, it was when he got beaten in mid-week altercations with his father, but that was then and now the Wednesdays have gotten worse, he killed all of them on a Wednesday, burned them, left the scene, that was it, it felt so fucking good, Wednesday.

Who were they but people he met at a party, they asked him to join them for drinks somewhere else, he joined them, listened to their chattering stupidity, how they tried to engage him, get him engaged in their wine-drenched bullshit talk, as if he were the best friend they ever fucking had. Fuck them, he thought then, and Fuck them, he thought now. Fuck them and their over-dressed lives, their armadillo faces, their pointy noses and beady eyes they used on him as they tossed their hands around, sometimes patting his shoulder, laughing their eyes against him, knowing (he fucking knew they knew) he wasn’t really one of them but succumbing to his presence anyway, a form of life they allowed at the table with all those Wednesday drinks and Wednesday words and Wednesday laughing mouths.

When the after-party was over they asked him to come with them, to come to someone’s house, a big house, a house with lots of rooms and more drinks and so much more bullshit to talk about, would he want to join them?, would that be okay?, want to?, yes?, okay good, they smiled and he joined them, he followed them in his car and they got there and opened the door and let him in and when everything got to be too much (it was too fucking much already) he asked to use the bathroom but went to the kitchen instead, it was just right over there, went to a drawer, then another one, then another, finally found a large knife, big enough to be menacing and shit, then went back and found them drunk on the sofa, kissing their lust all over each other. He stood before them, the Wednesday knife ready for killer, ready for blood.

By Jeff Callico

The Birthing

Her belly, it moved. It was swollen and she was tied to the chair. Newspaper was pasted to the windows in a tinged yellow sick. An inch of water soaked her feet making them pruned and cold, despite the sweat leaking from her pores. Her belly shuddered again, she felt bile in her throat, tasted something climbing the esophagus lining. She rocked in the chair, but her legs were tied too.

She was alone. The flower dress was brown from puke stains. Brown from other stains. Something was crawling, crawling inside her. It moved and she vomited on herself, choking out an unmentionable. It was the first but there would be more. She’d swallowed the egg sacks. She was perfect they said. It plopped in the water and began floundering around, then went straight for her over saturated feet burrowing its pincer in her souls and eating out the meat. She screamed but her air passage was blocked as another clawed its way up and gagged her. Ejecting it from her mouth, she screamed because she could feel the rest of them hatching, moving , eating her insides as they hungrily declared life in her belly.

Some kind of pregnant she was. Pregnant of putrid insects, maggot-esque children feasting on her digestive tract. She felt herself being eaten from the inside out, carved out by their sucking mouths. They were dissolving her.  And the other two had started at her feet. Blood seeped through the brown dress spreading as silent tears moved down her face, leaving tracks in the grime. The hatchlings began to spill forth from her ruined cavern and she mouthed the word ‘mother’ as their sectioned bodies and sharp legs started scratching off the flesh from her thighs. Bony stumps were her consumed feet and her calves had their mouth marks moving upwards. No one would know, eventually, what had been tied in the chair.

By Emily Smith-Miller

Fractured Radiant


In all the medical reports, we’d called it a state of partial darkness. How long had it been? Sixteen hours, twenty-four since exposure. I felt barely visible. I felt feverish, and I could recall a certain noxious odor flirting with the back of my throat.
“It lives in the meat, starved and sexless.” 
That was all the text message said this time. I figured it was someone I knew who’d sent it to me, someone with imagination and skill. A rebel, a fanatic, an accuser, not like the others, the ones who’d wigged out and fled the cubicles when the flies breached the room. It was chaos, all the screaming and gnawing and fat chunks slapping against flat surfaces, but I didn’t panic, of course. Not me. I’m less theatrical, more academic. I’ve always fed on putrification and agony. I was a product of apathy, all formaldehyde and grey slagging skin. I could feel it, just behind my eyes. THE SPIKE FEEDS THE PAIN … I knew this from the trials. We’d switched to solar, dosed the bottles too high. There were side effects: gruesome mathematics and irreversible equations.
“It LIVES in the MEAT.”
My mouth started to water. I wish they’d stop texting me. I didn’t create the problem, and I certainly can’t fix it. Nobody can.
The meat off your bones, I will eat.

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

Bloody Barbie

Yum. Red licked her lips and sucked at the piece of meat in front of her. It had been sawed off the pretty thing while she was screaming, and now she got to watch. “You’re lucky you’re skinny,” Red said between bites. “Not much left, now.”
Carnivore, cannibal, she liked to lick the girls, Red did. Caught her outside a rest stop. They never learned. Doe eyes, vomit glossed lips, she spoke to Red in sheep code. “Baaah.” Moving down to the recently cut thigh, Red dug her fingers into the muscle clawing through fat deposits, burrowing into tendons until she gripped something lean. Then she began tugging. Chained on the slab, shrieking blood from the lips she’d already bit through, she felt the teeth bury themselves in her slim thigh eating her live. She stopped gorging herself and pulled out a hot iron from the furnace to her left. There were female fibers stuck in her teeth when she smiled, her murderous face what gave her the name Red, she was stained, pallor was always a dull blood hue from her gluttonous feasts. Dogs had better manners than Red when ripping girls apart. She pressed the orange flat of the iron forcefully against pretty’s bleeding wound. Cauterizing it ever so slightly. Red laughed, she could keep the bitch alive for as long as she wanted, this way. “You’re too damn pretty.” Taking the still glowing iron and placing it over the nose and right eye of her little girl who wailed inhumanly as the metal heat melted her skin like Barbie too close to the stove top. When she pulled back the tool the girl’s nose was just a caved-in lump of flesh and her eyebrow fused with cheek leaving her blind and abstract. Red took her scalpel and starting from left corner of her mouth pulled it through, splitting the face further. “And they told me I’d never be an artist. You’re a fucking Picasso Barbie.”

By Emily Smith-Miller

Doll Heads

“That was a really fucked up thing to say,” she said while flicking her cigarette ash on my shirtsleeve. “I know it looks like syphilitic testicles in dick cheese sauce, but no one said you had to eat it.”

I was talking to Mollie, of course. Morbid Mollie I liked to call her when there wasn’t anything sharp nearby. It was Tuesday, black and still and pouring rain. We were at some depression era bar on the north side. Chinatown. She’d picked the place because she knew I hated the way it smelled when it rained — burnt pistachios, wasabi, and raw sewage. She was sitting at the bar, stabbing something nasty with a pair of chopsticks. Sleazy was her middle name. I hated the way she dressed in those Halloween Nun outfits; Nuns who’d obviously had enough fucking the cross in their spare time and were chewing the pews for a good old-fashioned cock in their mouths. You know the type: toxic with a capital infectious fucking “T.” I hated her. Hated her warm meat. “How many you got?” I asked about the suspicious burlap sack lying there, seeping a russet yellow liquid at her feet. I hated looking at her fucking feet too. Her toes looked like a deadly mutant outbreak of knuckles and flesh and hair, all jacked up and crammed into a pair of steel stilettos. I was starting to sweat. Good thing the bartender came by and asked me if I needed something stronger. I did, but even then, I could still taste the vomit and match light residue in the back of my throat. I was hungry. I needed to eat. Fresh or Frozen, I didn’t care. Mollie had what I needed … in the bag at her feet. My plan was to be direct. Cool. Calm. Direct.

“Whatcha got in the bag, Mollie?” I asked again, but she still didn’t answer, not yet. Her cigarette smoke danced around my words, and I just stared at the veins in her sagging breasts. I wouldn’t have enough money. I knew that, she knew that, but I was hungry. Snap off the head and suck out the juice. That warm delicious juice. They only taste that good when they’re young, fresh, but I’d settle. These were probably old and stale — rotted biohazard — from the free clinic down the block. I didn’t even have enough to pay for that even, but we always came to an arrangement. I’d pay for her dinner, and then I’d have to eat her out. She never said a word. She just smiled at me, stood up, grabbed the bloody bag, and headed for the alley.

By Cheryl Anne Gardner