Such a nice girl she was, her favorite black dress with long straps, all that cleavage he liked, especially when she didn’t wear a bra. She told him she dressed just for him, her breasts all his, her sex his to own. And he did own it, just like she wanted him to, sometimes begging for it when he held out.

Sure, they met at a bar. She was a regular there and he had come on business. They hit it off soon and he found himself making arrangements more often, the jet fares adding up, but fuck if he cared. She was fiery and he liked it, how she’d tell him just how she felt about something, anything, and didn’t give a fuck what he thought, even if he disagreed or took offense. “Fuck you,” she’d say, and that would incite him; they’d attack each other with near rage and end up spooning.

She was perfect, he always thought.


He lost count of the stabs as he plunged the knife in her like a machine that chops up meat. He used her lace red panties to sop up her blood, the smell of it making him want to keep stabbing her, even though there really was nothing left to stab. She was now mangled beyond human recognition. He had stabbed her face, her eyes, her skull, her neck, her chest, her abdomen, her arms and hands and legs and feet – and then had turned her over and stabbed everywhere else that remained, so much virgin flesh ready for his blade. He saved her pussy for last and shoved the knife straight in, just like he imagined that cock she fucked it with so many times, thinking he never knew. Well, he knew. He caught her in the act itself. There was likely more than one cock. The lover was able to escape but he would get him later. She was the culprit, that lying mouth of hers, the same mouth that sucked so much cock behind his back. He slammed the knife in her now worthless cunt and twisted it around, fucking her, scraping inside her and spurting so much blood. Her panties were soaked soon enough. When he finished he filled them with parts of her cut-up flesh. She was now bloodied meat, and her panties, the same ones that fucking lover slid off of her, were just a flesh bag. Her face was horrid; it didn’t look like a face. He couldn’t find that mouth of hers now but just guessed where it had been, then stuffed the filled panties into her skull, part of which was cracked by his raging knife. He stood up and surveyed what he had done to her.

Such a nice girl she was.

By Jeff Callico

Ghosts in Winter

My mouth on yours, like an open wound.
My hands on your face,
My hair falling softly against your skin.
Your cock was hard against my hip as our legs tangled together with our whispered words. Words like want, and hungry, and desperate needful love.
“Just touch me … don’t fuck me,” I said to you. “Let me feel the sinew in your flesh,” and your hands slipped into the small of my back. You wanted to feel my lust, your own lust, like you always did, but “I don’t want to feel my lust right now … I just want to feel you.” My hands like the feel of you … the gentle arc of your abdomen and the tight little snarl of pubic hair you keep trimmed just for me. I touch your hipbone ever so slightly with the back of my hand and take your bottom lip into my mouth…
“Don’t look at me,” while I adore the you that is your flesh. “It makes me feel starving and weak.” You laugh at me, and I apologize for waxing poetic because it’s a different kind of hunger that consumes me today. A hunger I’d forgotten to appreciate along with the miles of distance in your flesh that I had always overlooked in my haste.
I want to know that distance.
I want to know the way you breathe, the way you die just a little when you sleep, and the way your hair falls against your forehead when you rise up in ecstasy above me. I want to know what your heart and your liver and your kidneys taste like fresh and warm while your heart is still pumping, and I want to know what the palms of your hands feel like against my cheek when they are slick with your blood and bile. I want you to put your fingers in my mouth. I want to taste you on them, knowing that you were thinking of me when you took the blade and caressed yourself into oblivion.
It’s not your cock I want today or your desperate needful love. The want is deeper today, darker, like the copper smell on your breath when you lie to me like you mean no harm when you say the word “fuck.”
You say I make you feel wicked. You ARE, wicked, when you worship the flesh of a whore. Your hands on my throat when you say it: “Whore,” and then you make me believe it long enough to deny it. You want me to deny it, to deny you, to pretend I could survive YOU long enough to drain you from my veins. But I can’t…
Deny you.
Deny what I am.
“Don’t fuck me,” I say again softly into your ear as I wrap my legs around your trembling waist. I just want to press myself into you, until there is nothing left, like the white bones of a ghost, lost and longing, lamenting the transparency of its own flesh.

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

A Bitch of an Itch

When I woke I was missing a finger.  Well, not technically: I knew where it was.  That’s what I get, dating a part-time med student.

Laura and I had been dating about a year.  Her folks knew, mine didn’t – they weren’t interested in hearing I was queer, same as they covered their ears when I mentioned our nudist beach resort, ‘Skin, Sin & Sand”.  She was my ‘friend’ when we paid a visit, and when I went by myself and stayed over, like all good girls she ‘came’ when I called.

But she was what some people term ‘bi-curious’.  Except, that seemed an awfully limiting term for Laura.  She wasn’t just curious about men, and before me she’d had a few, but about everything.  Anything that could go up there, did.  Cucumbers, candles, toothbrushes, sex toys, even a lizard called ‘Joe’.  But it wasn’t enough.

We were committed, together, close as could be.  But the maw between her legs wanted more.  And Laura being Laura, it got it.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a prick?” she’d say on our lazy Sundays to Mondays in bed.  And I’d yawn, or moan, or mumble and agree.  I agreed to anything in bed.  She was that kind of girl.

Then it was our anniversary, and I had one too many drinks.  One or two too many.  But I don’t think she did.

If she had, there wouldn’t be those nice neat stitches on my hand.  A gap between my come-hither finger and commitment ring.  A bulge in my pants.

And as my hand helplessly twitched for its loss, and my crotch beckoned it lower, I wondered…  was a flirty finger worth giving up the beach and its skin-drenched stretches of sand?

Looking at me, licking her lips then mine, I touched her nose with it and figured ‘what the hell’.

Forget about the waxing, let my bush run wild.  A bit of a comb-over, and I could roam free.  On the bright side, for now, I had a finger in my pants and only we knew.  It would come in handy for the next few weeks.

Regrowth’s a bitch of an itch.

By Gill Hoffs

The Carnage Conservatory Crimson Skull Contest



This Halloween the Carnage Conservatory is going to make your holiday extra bloody with its first time CRIMSON SKULL SHORT STORY CONTEST

Carnage is asking for all horror writers to submit a piece of short horror fiction based around some element of any ghoul’s favorite holiday, HALLOWEEN


  1. Must be 1,000-4,000 words
  2. Submitted between September 15th to October 15th to either Emily Smith-Miller: or Jeff Callico:
  3. Involves some aspect of Halloween
  4. The bloodier the better, Carnage guidelines apply










A Werewolf for Salomé

she looked out the window
(as she polished a platter)
at the assassin asleep
on the concrete.

she smiled because he was
drugged with a violent pleasure.
an image created for her.
a glimmer of
and slithery pain
an electric switchblade pointed into her heart.

squirmy squishy sounds:
she took those feelings for her mind.
a pale television set
love out of focus
test pattern drool.

16 years before
vaguely remembered:
the morning they bathed
together in the
iron claw foot tub –
caressed atomic hair
with sighs so liquid.
afterwards he had to leave.

she looked in the water
for the remnants of a beast:
fur, saliva, blood, rabies all were dancing,
all were accounted for:
gentle and quiet he
lay on the pavement
enjoying the licks of the manhattan snow
a quiet shelter for a thought barrier.

her eyes yellow
with pupils black
spit cyanide
down below
his dreams were sliced
and reverberated in crimson.
he walked up the stairs
he knocked on the door
she let him in for
a liquid moon’s slam:
a slippery time zone for
a change for
a reverb.

she cringed at his touch
dropped her veils to the ground
regretting that she was repeating
a past long forgotten –
atomic hair

black latexm mucous.
torn split

and vinyl dreams.

dripping moisture
down her long legs
her heels and her hooves

and the leather doors
her fingernails scratching

a reflex
not touched for so long. never.

she welcomed him inside
boiling tears swirled out of time

the sounds and the fangs
fluorescent lights collapsed
then a breath separation
a calliope played
a scalpel for vivisection
gleefully a sacrifice

9 years later:
the shelf held the platter
(a small part of an extensive collection)
a former partner shrouded in gore
a head shocked with lust
eyes returned her gaze blankly

she parted his lips
her tongue traced his teeth
(a tune – twisted fractured)
her blood – acid taste
(that’s what remained).

they washed her dreams away

she paused and whispered
to a crack in the wall
as she sewed his lips tight

the seeds of his image
did a slow dance inside her
a womb out of balance
as she removed her skin – just a covering.

the bride cries often
pale and bleeding
hiding in the shadows
from her maker and her partner.



final words said
zero to go.


heat &
pain sleeping.

we’ll wave and
they’ll wave goodbye

we’ll watch and
they’ll disappear

mental blood-watch
time to go

often watching the eyes
to come back at a later time.

flat clouds crawl across the night.
slow. away. then run quickly.
shadows fast.

moon erases shadows

no one here
to say

a case of love
in the atom age

By Peter Marra

Butcher’s Choice


Sweat soaked the back of Andy’s T-shirt as he trudged up the garden path towards the barbeque under the blazing June sun. His friend Steve was moving the burgers around with a pair of prongs. Steve was wearing a bizarre plastic apron bearing a pink-naked woman, the meat’s sizzling mingling with the background music and conversation.

‘Ah, Andy,’ he boomed, ‘you’ve brought the good stuff.’ He nodded to the bulky package under Andy’s arm. ‘And I don’t just mean the booze.’

Andy dumped the cans of beer in the big blue water-barrel.

‘Let’s chuck them on, then’ said Steve.

Andy handed over the enormous package. Steve eagerly unwrapped the white greaseproof paper revealing a massive pile of sausages. He lifted up a string of fat red bangers, shining in their skins. He cut off a section and draped them around the burgers on the grille.

‘Perk of the job, isn’t it,’ said Steve. ‘Being a butcher, and all that.’

Andy grinned as he watched the sausages spit and steam. ‘I guess so.’

‘Where’s Dave then,’ asked Steve.

‘Dunno,’ replied Andy. ‘He said he was going to buy some booze. That was at lunchtime, just before I locked up.’

‘How long have you been screwing her?’ Andy was furious, purple-faced, a caricature of a florid butcher in his red apron. ‘Fucking her and fucking me?’

‘It’s not like that,’ mumbled Dave, a tall young man with the remnants of acne on a handsome face.

‘Bullshit,’ roared Andy. ‘She packed her bags this morning. Said she had a key to your place.’

Dave looked at the ground. ‘It’s probably best if I go.’ He turned wearily around on the sawdust floor.

Andy swung the cleaver with a grunt, splitting Dave’s skull even as he turned. He fell like a leg of beef dropped from a hook and the cleaver clattered beside him. Blood spilled from the gaping rent in his skull, obscuring the glistening meat hiding inside. Andy froze in horror.What have I done?

He came to his senses, dashing through to the shop counter and the front door. He locked it and turned the sign to ‘Closed’ before pulling down the blind. It was nearly closing time anyway.

Andy acted quickly. He grabbed Dave under the arms and dragged him onto the block, tearing off his clothes. He used the boning knife and cleaver to slice and unpick the joints, dumping the arms and legs into a gore-stained plastic crate. He worked quickly. He was well practiced, after all.

One slice of the knife unzipped the stomach and revealed the steaming offal. This went into another plastic crate. Except the gleaming brown lobe of the liver, which he kept on the block. The tang of blood was thick in his mouth and nostrils, but he was used to it.

It took minutes to slice the steak-red muscles from the thighs and arms, and a few more minutes to take the chest meat from the torso. He tossed them into the mincer with some congealed fat from the cold store and switched on the machine, putting a metal tray underneath the outlet pipe.

Then he chopped up the liver into sections. It felt warm through his gloves, slippery in his hands. By this time, the mincer was churning emptily above a pile of pink mincemeat. Andy poured it into the bath-like sausage machine with the chopped liver, and opened a bag of seasoning. He poured the powder liberally over the meat and offal and tossed in a few scoops of rusks, before switching the sausage mixer on.

He used the bone saw to reduce the arms, legs, ribcage, skull and torso to small pieces, pausing occasionally to wipe the bone-chips from his goggles. This all went into the off-cuts bin, which he dragged into the cold store. The hunks of human were unrecognisable in amongst the other carcass chunks. He made sure the scalp, hands and feet were on the very bottom. It would all be incinerated anyway.

He dumped the organs in the tripe bucket, in the cold store. He would have to burn the organs after dark, as the cattle arrived gutted and quartered. But a pile of guts was harder to identify than an entire body.

Then, he made the sausages. He fixed a metal tube to the sausage machine outlet and fed the crushed, mixed and minced meat mixture through into the skin-casing, twisting it off a few times after every few inches. The glossy red meat shone through the pale skins as they coiled on the metal tray.

Finally, Andy scrubbed the butchery from top to bottom. He was running late and the cleaning was normally down to his assistant Dave. But Dave was clearly not available to help, and was in fact the main contributor to the mess on the gore-flecked table, blood-drenched crates and clotted sawdust floor. Andy switched on the radio and whistled along as he worked. He would be late for the barbeque, but no matter.

He didn’t have time for a shower, but washed himself from head to toe in the small changing room. It was difficult enough to get rid of the meat and fat stench anyway and his friends were used to it. The clothes went into a bin-liner for later disposal. He gathered up the sausages in greaseproof paper, and picked up the cans of beer from the cold store. Then he left to Steve’s barbeque, whistling the tune he had heard on the radio, as he locked up the shop.

The spitting of the sausages brought Andy back to reality.

‘How’s it going, anyway,’ asked Steve, handing him an opened beer-can.

‘Not so good,’ replied Andy, rubbing his hand over his balding head. He felt tired. ‘Most of the customers go to the supermarket now. It’s only the old folks who bother with a butcher’s shop anymore. Half of the youngsters nowadays think a burger just jumps off an animal or something.’ He sipped his can of beer.

‘I think these are nearly done,’ said Steve as he poked the sausages. ‘Fancy one?’ He grabbed a couple of buttered buns.

Andy’s breath froze in his lungs. His mouth dried up and fresh sweat trickled down his back.

I’ve no choice, he thought.

He took a swig of beer.

‘Go on then,’ he laughed. ‘I don’t like to mix business with pleasure. I see enough of this down the shop to get sick of it. Slap on plenty of sauce though.’

The first bite was the hardest. It stuck in his gullet before sliding down and his stomach churned in revolt. But he had another gulp of beer and took a second bite. And then another.

‘Where can Dave be,’ mumbled Steve through a mouthful of meat. ‘He’d better get here before these sausages are gone. They’re delicious!’

Andy grabbed a roll and lifted another sausage from the barbeque. ‘I’m sure he’s not far…’ he laughed, as he bit into the roll.

By Iain Paton

Eating Out

Her orgasm was exploding through her body when he wrenched her arm back at a 90 degree angle, causing her to shriek out in pain and ecstasy. The same hand that had guided her to the dark bedroom of this warehouse apartment, somewhere on the far side of the city, now splintered her humerus. It was like breaking a matchstick with your thumb. Tossed from the bed, she realized that while her body flew across the room, her arm had been left behind in the claw of her lover. She screamed.

She tasted cheap, he thought, her pussy wasn’t even washed, it smacked of sweat and feminine odor. He hadn’t had something tasty in so long, upper class, delightful, clean. He supposed that was just because of the money, they always wanted money, he never had enough. There were some habits that seemed to be using it all up, he glared down at the brown paper bag disgustedly, and made a sour face. The things one needs to stay alive. She was pretty though. Her ass was nicer than he’d had in a couple of weeks, very juicy, very tender. But he wanted something that didn’t taste like garbage. Fuck women, they needed to take better care of themselves if they were going to whore around like that.

“How long has she been dead?”

“You’re late, asshole.”

“I had to pick something up on my way over, took longer than I thought it would, you want to answer me?”

“Not really.”

“Fuck you, Fitz, and your fucking filthy Irish twat.”

“Oh I love it when you talk dirty, Rich! Some crack head found her or something, scared the bitch out of her fucking mind. I’d say she’s been dead a little over a day, the bugs have already started to get at her, or what’s left of her.”

They looked down at the half devoured body of sweet Jane Doe, right arm ripped off, leg looked gnawed off, her breast had been torn through like a package of hamburger and her face was about as relevant as steak tenderloin. The elephant in the room was clearly the gaping hole in her midsection that extended to her pelvis, just jagged teeth marks, deep wounds like claw marks and chewed organs. She was a goddamn entree.

“So, is it just me, or does it look like she’s been fuckin’ eaten, Fitz?”


“Any animals in the area do that?”


“Am I dealing with something seriously fucked?”

“Yep. This little treat was not just mutilated on a massive level, she was definitely eaten. Forensics found some stuff to indicate there was another person with her when this happened. I don’t know what to tell you, man. I mean it gives a whole new meaning to being eaten out, ha!”

“Shut up, Fitz.”

Rich went over the report a few times before he began feeling nauseous. The pictures were enough to make a normal man queasy, but reading the description over and over again, ‘torn out liver, partial uterus, severe facial lacerations, missing limbs, 8 feet of missing small intestine . . .” he ran to the toilet. Puking chunks of a Reuben sandwich from earlier and some unidentifiable stomach contents, Rich leaned back against his beige tiled bathroom wall that reflected sick in the fluorescent light. The bathroom had always reminded him of motels that charged by the hour, and have so much cum on the walls and floor, in the illumination of a black light one would instantly go blind. He wobbled to the scratchy olive sofa and pulled out the contents of the brown bag. Soon he felt better, he felt the color returning to his face, and his stomach settled. You do what you can to live, he thought, leaning back into the couch and letting sleep overtake him. Dreams are monsters, ripping through his skin, tearing pieces of flesh from his face, shredding through his torso and scooping out organs like a melon baller. The monster smiles with big canines oozing blood. They have teeth, big teeth, big bad teeth that smell awful, they smell like, they smell like . . . like a toasted Reuben sandwich? Rich jumped awake at the ringing phone by his head and damn near yanked the receiver out of the jack.

“What the fuck?”

“Well it’s good to hear your voice too, dick.”

“Fitz, what the hell time is it?”

“Almost four, doesn’t matter, I found something on that chick. Meet me at the office.”

Shaken by his dream and still not feeling well, Rich wasn’t in the mood for Fitz’s bullshit. He was surviving on little to no sleep and the brown paper bags were the only thing keeping him sane. He arrived at the office finding it hard to swallow. Fitz was in the lab looking pleased with himself; he was standing over a couple of slides and some computer printouts.

“You’ll never guess what the fuck we’re dealing with, because I sure as hell don’t know, but there is a human being involved in this mess. I don’t know if he’s a fucked up cannibal or what the hell, but it’s a man, and I know exactly how to find him.”

“Alright, let’s hear it.”

“Ok get this, our girl was a regular at the club she was reportedly seen leaving, and the bartender got a good look at the guy who picked her up that night, even talked to him a bit.”

“So what, you saw that body, she could’ve easily hooked up with some asshole and then gotten mauled by whatever after the fact.”

“Oh I know, which is where these babies come in.”

Fitz pointed to some blood slides and smiled knowingly.

“They were found at the crime scene, apparently our man heaved a little after chowing down. Most of the mess was the girl, but some of the blood and tissue didn’t match her. Turns out it’s fucking baboon’s heart! This guy is eating raw baboon’s heart! There’s only one butcher shop in the city that sells something that fucked up! And my guess is whatever description we get from the bartender will match that of the butc—”

Smash! The computer keyboard collided with Fitz’s face just as his theory was reaching its climax. He had been talking so adamantly he didn’t notice Rich unhook the hardware. Rich gathered the slides and samples, along with the printouts of the information Fitz had uncovered. It made Rich cringe slightly that Fitz had figured out the baboon hearts, his little brown bag secret. They staved off the urge to hunt and kill as his kind was supposed to. Well, Fitz will just have to be the main course tonight.

Fitz regained consciousness when the meat hook was placed between his shoulder blades, paralyzing him. He dangled there for several moments screaming before Rich came into view, moving between large sides of hanging beef ribs.

“Rich . .  . I . . aaaahh . . .FUCK!”

Fitz whimpered in pain, but the hook in his back made it too difficult to speak. Rich began sniffing the air, becoming excited at the scent of fear and blood. The image of his friend, a live slab of helpless slaughter, speeded the transformation. Standing naked beneath the speechless Fitz, Rich’s fingers lengthened first, extending into claws, followed by the morphing jaws that became fuller and protruded out while the skin stretched for transformation. His back legs adjusted and rapid hair began sprouting over his body until finally, Fitz stared down at a monstrous wolf-like creature. Rich sat back on his hind legs and then lunged viciously at Fitz, ripping the hook straight through his back. He ate hungrily, devouring his manhood and lower half in the first moments. By the time Rich was done, there was nothing remotely definable about his friend, he crunched the bones and made himself eat every piece of evidence that could identify Fitz as a human being.

Rich counted out the hundred dollar bills he’d taken from Fitz’s apartment and withdrawn from his bank account – he had always been so trusting with him. He licked his lips at the thought of consuming his friend’s kidneys. He could still taste Fitz’s distinct flavor of whiskey and Irish Spring bar soap lingering on the tip of his taste buds. He held a toothpick between his teeth, offhandedly picking bits of gristle from some of the more difficult molar areas. Rich needed something to wash Fitz down with and he knew just the thing.

Her name was May and she was a soft-skinned society girl who had been dancing provocatively at one of the high end clubs on the west side. Her breasts were round and only a little small, but everything was forgiven when Rich had slid off her panties and taken his first lick of delicate top shelf pussy. Wet and fragrant, May was a spring day of sensual eroticism. She was refined and her elegant flesh needed only minor pressure to break the surface. Once Rich smelled the spilled blue blood, his frenzied beast burst forth and he began eating her out for real. Her moans turned quickly to screams which he ceased with a sharp snap of his jaws around her slender neck. Fitz had been dinner;  now May was dessert, no more baboon hearts for Rich, not when the blood tasted so good. He let out a blissful howl and disappeared like his victim’s ingested corpses.

By Emily Smith-Miller

All Natural Ingredients

This was a woman who abhorred waste and adored waists.  Her crisp white working smock was cinched in under her ribs as if she were scared a morsel of salad would dare descend to her colon, the snakeskin belt acting as tourniquet on her digestive tract.  As a successful specialist in her field, she could have made a killing in the growth industry of obesity; but no, the wrinkles that furrowed her nose like a pitbull raising its hackles gave away her distaste all too clearly to the fuller figured people pausing at her clinic’s door.

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” was her personal motto [despite her training].  Nobody dared ask her if her bedfellows agreed, and I certainly wouldn’t, but looking at her ugly collar bone and antlers of pelvis I somehow doubted it.

All white – tiles, sinks, walls and wipe-clean chairs – the place had an aura of cleanliness and sterility that was at odds with her professional name.  And her teeth.  Her business card said ‘Janetta Vermilion: beauty therapist / eating disorder clinician’; her driving licence read ‘Ethel Hughes’.  The duality didn’t end there.

Front of clinic was the Treatments Area, for the rich old women who allowed the mirror to be their master, and the bored mistresses who often shared more than the services of Janetta Vermilion with the woman waiting for her moustache to pale or botox to take effect next to her.  ‘All natural ingredients – prepared on site!’ and ‘secret recipe – unique to Janetta’ were the proud boasts of the menu on the wall, as well as price lists to make your eyes water.  Whatever she used, and despite the faintly familiar smell troubling the odd nostril through the peppery odour of pink and white lilies beautifying the place, it worked.

At the back of the premises, in what used to be the kitchen and dining room of the two-up/two-down, was a large room of palest peach and a series of cubicles along the furthest wall.  Sofas and throw cushions made it almost comfortable, but the closest cubicles, with their clear glass doors, were off-putting to say the least.  What looked like fancy toilets sat there, waiting, all too visible to my curious eyes.

As an investigative journalist, I had to tread carefully or face being flung out the door.  Or worse – there’s a lot of folks not been told it’s wrong to hit girls, not told till I ‘educated’ them, anyway.  I might be small, but I’m shit hot at street fighting.  A whole bunch of dickheads have the scars to prove it.

“I advise my clients to change their habits one step at a time.”

Uh huh.

“Instead of binging at home or in the car or wherever you’ve designated your ‘safe place’, you come here.  Eat what you want; I’m not going to judge you.  Say what you want, you’re with people who care.  And if it’s coming back up, if you’re driven to purge…” she spread her arm to indicate the curious cubicles, and I noticed her hands were the smoothest of anyone I’d ever seen.  “…you do so here.”

I think I blinked.

“Most of my clients start with the more discreet ones at the far end.  But as you progress in your journey to recovery, you’ll find it easier to be open and accepting of who you are and what you’re doing to yourself.”

I think I nodded.

“When you feel ready, you’ll move to the cubicles nearer the group.  Then eventually, the closest ones.”

I figured I’d better practise gagging to order since there was clearly going to be no faking it here.  She smiled and her teeth were greyer than I expected, as if ghosts of their former use.

“I find most of my clients accept themselves and others more readily after a few days of treatment.”

Well, we’d see about that.

A few hours later I was biting my nails and wondering what I’d got myself and my poor teeth into.  I waited about outside till a scrawny girl with bad breath and dull hair wandered near.  Like me she was clutching a goody bag of bingeing treats, and I offered her a carefully nervous smile as we walked in.  The white chairs and front room were empty; beauty appointments were mornings only, the rest of the day devoted to ‘my girls’, as she called us.

We got ourselves comfy on the sofas as more clients joined us, and Janetta – or Ethel, as my boss called her in the newsroom – sauntered in.  We all smiled, and stopped rustling through our carrier bags of sweets, crisps, bread and biscuits.

“Hallo, my dears.  Every day, in every way, you grow more beautiful to me.  Every day, in every way, you are getting better.  Love yourselves for who and what you are.  Allow your bodies to serve you.  Be kind to yourselves.  And soon you, too, will be safe, happy, and healthy once again.”

I waited for more, but that seemed to be it.  Speech over, she smiled with those great grey teeth and lowered herself onto an enormous peach cushion on the floor.  And so it began.

All around me were wet sounds of gulping, gnawing, chomping need.  I have a very sweet tooth, twenty six of them, so I’d skipped my usual early breakfast of toast and honey knowing that here and now I’d need to feed.  Six chocolate bars.  A jar of Marshmallow Fluff.  And a packet of pink chewy sweets, to mark the beginning of food, and the end of purging.  I’d read a lot about bulimia to prepare me for this role, and I could see from glancing round the room that I’d chosen well.

A couple of the women were clearly used to this, this place, this ordeal.  They were first to leave us, first to purge in the clear glass cubicles that reminded me of Snow White’s location before her Prince’s kiss.  They barely made a sound, but I gathered bulimics, long term ones, rarely do.  One by one, the women joined them in bending penitently to retch their self-loathing to the porcelain toilets.  The place stank of sweet sick.  Janetta / Ethel had explained to me she only turned on the extractor fans when she was alone at the end; it was important for us to confront the realities of what we were doing to ourselves and those around us.  Or so she said.  When I looked at her now I could have sworn she was sniffing the air as appreciatively as I do when mooching past perfume counters in the department store in town.

I was last to go in.  The others sat about, weary, smelly, and hoarse of voice, murmuring encouragement to each other about ‘going for glass’ next time.  I chose the one at the end.  Closing the door, I breathed in the acidic fumes and thought of dogshit sandwiches, licking snails, sucking off my boss, and other revolting things.  I hate Marshmallow Fluff.  Doubling over at the waist, fingers down my throat, I felt the tide turn deep in my gut.  Up it came, all of it, I didn’t stop till there was a tell-tale layer of pink to show I was empty.

Relieved, I went to press the flush button – then realised there wasn’t one.  No handle, no button, no dangling chain.  Just a toilet which I now realised was actually somewhat different to any I’d seen before.  I could hear the others chatting huskily through the door, and very quickly stuck the tiny camera my boss had given me in a crack where the cubicle met the wall.  With the door open it would get a good view of the treatment room.  I’d just need to remember to use the next one along if I had to come back for ‘treatment’ again tomorrow.  No point sharing that with my colleagues, even with the danger money I was getting for this assignment.

The toilet had what appeared to be a seat, but when I tried to lift it, I realised it was fixed to the pedestal beneath.  Checking it, I found a small hole towards the back which I could only assume was for a key.  The kind of key cleaners use to unlock toilet tissue dispensers and things like that.  But why would a toilet be locked?  And unflushable?  I could only hope that the camera worked and I’d get the answers later in the office.  What it could have to do with the curious arrangements and practices of Janetta Vermilion I had no idea, but I was damn sure I was going to find out.

Curiosity killed the cat.

The dog dug it up and brought it back, whispered a voice in my head.

Lack of food didn’t agree with me.  I left the cubicle door wide open, and sprawled with the rest of the group till people started checking their watches and murmuring about school runs, then made for the office.

“See you tomorrow, dear,” I tried not to stare at her teeth, nodding.  I’d see her a hell of a lot sooner than that.

Back at work, I wandered into a newsroom that smelled like the salon I’d just left.  A couple of the guys were on the phone, but my boss was nowhere to be seen.  I could hear him, though, hunting for Hugh and Ralph in a bin behind some poor sod’s desk.

“What’s up, boss?”

Part of me was pleased about the situation, hoping if he knew what I was going through he’d maybe add a zero to the expenses sheet at the end of the investigation.  All right, it was all of me.  He’d fondled my arse several times too often, and the dickhead could barely even remember my name.

A hand wafted at me from behind the desk.  I took this as a sign to approach.  The monitor was on, and I could see it was receiving the feed from the cubicle at Janetta’s.  The cubicle door was still open, and so was the one between the front and back rooms.  My stomach lurched and I was kind of glad there was nothing in it. 

Now we knew what the secret ingredient was, anyway.

Janetta / Ethel / whatever her name was, was sitting on the floor of the peach room where I’d sat and fed my face not long before.  All the scatter cushions were piled on the sofas, and around her sat white bucket-shaped containers with weirdly flattened rims.  As she picked them up, one at a time, to empty them into a large metal soup pot – the kind my grandma uses for her Christmas soup – I realised they were the toilets we’d vomited into before, now free of their pedestals.  One of them was particularly heavy, apparently, and required both hands to lift, tilt and pour.  What?  What was that?  For some reason, she had a large sieve over the soup pot, I realised this when she lifted it and gave it a small shake, as I do when I’m straining spaghetti.  Someone hadn’t chewed their food a hundred times, that was for sure.  As the flow of fluid slowed to a dribble, she turned at her wasp-like waist and emptied its contents into another large metal pot at her side.  Tap tap, all out.

Then she did something I hope a stroke or Alzheimer’s will help me forget.  I’m not kidding.  Now I knew why my boss was meeting his lunch again so soon.

She dipped her hand into the white porcelain puke potty, the one she’d just emptied, and wiped her hand round like she was oiling a cake tin or something.  Then she drew it out and as I marvelled again at how youthful her hands looked, even glistening with sick, she sucked and licked the vomit off her fingers as if it were the finest champagne then worked her way round the rest of her hand.  I’ve seen cats clean themselves in such a way, I’ve even watched them lick their dirty arses, but the way she took such sensuous pleasure, such delight, in enjoying a stranger’s stomach contents really weirded me out.  Part of me wondered if it would still be warm, and that just made it worse.

I might have been okay, I might not have retched bile on the newsroom carpet and my boss’s expensive shoes, if I hadn’t watched the rest.  If I hadn’t seen her decant the stomach juices into her beauty bottles for acid peels the following day.  If I hadn’t witnessed her plunge her hands into the mush of masticated crisps and Mars bars, squishing and squashing, mashing handfuls of it against her face, preparing it for the still empty tubs of Face Masque ready at her feet.  Licking her lips as a gobbet dripped off her nose, catching it with her tongue, and chewing with those great grey teeth.

One of the guys, now off the phone, came round to see what the fuss was about.  Peering at the screen, glasses smudged as per usual, he said:

“Isn’t that the bird your Sandra goes to for her facials?”

It made me feel a bit bad, barfing on the poor guy’s feet.

By Gill Hoffs

My Roommate

Her mouth splits and demon teeth excrete,
She was so pretty,
That’s why no one believes me,
No one believes me . . .
But there she is at my door again,
Laughing to be let in,
Laughing because she can.
Will I make it through the night?
Devil in my hallway,
Her smile cracks and she is so Beautiful.
But she is evil.
Trying to swallow my soul.
Rip me to pieces tonight.
That’s what her eyes are saying,
That’s what she’s implying,
With every flick of hair,
And they’re all in love
Falling over themselves to smell her sin,
Her manically perfumed skin.
Did I ever think I’d have a demon in the next room?
A fallen angel working for Satan?
Slamming doors with her mind,
She’s shaking pictures off my wall,
Breaking glasses on the floor.
My mirrors are all shattered,
And the lights are starting to dim.
Upright, fist tight, holding kitchen knife for dear life.
Never thought I’d wish so hard for some holy water,
Or a fucking crucifix.
Her forked tongue fixes over cracked lips.
Time to break the window,
Demon bitch from hell,
You’ll never take me alive.

By Emily Smith-Miller

From Child to Man

“Come on, boy, out with you!” The old man clapped his hands and stomped his feet with growing impatience. “We taint got all night, ya know!”

“But I was just starting to have fun, Grandpa!” complained young Bobby as he withdrew his sopping blonde head from the Desmond family commode.

“Well, I reckon there’s plenty a’ time fer that later,” the old man replied, throwing the boy a towel.  “After we poison that little cutie from your bible studies class!” The old man laughed and winked a mischievous eye at his grandson. “One a’ my better ideas, I reckon, signin’ you up at that dimwitted school.”

The boy rubbed the towel over his face and head, his mind wandering back to the previous night. Blue memories stirred his senses and his loins. Memories of his mother and the family dog engaged in some moist and noisome activity. He had stumbled upon them quite innocently, drawn to his mother’s bedroom by sounds of breathy grunting and slurping which were just audible above the frenzied squeaking of well worn bed springs. 

That unexpected coupling – viewed discreetly through a faintly cracked door – had been quite a sight, the sharp images of which incited a growing desire within the young voyeur.

“Stop daydreamin’!” scolded the old man. “We gotta’ prepare supper now, and I gotta’ make sure we got plenty a’ Rat-Away for the roast!”

“Yes, Grandpa.”

The boy was obedient but distracted as they abandoned the bathroom for the kitchen, his head filled with thoughts of his mother.


“. . . So,” said the little girl, sailing ever further down a swirling stream of words which she had begun navigating some minutes earlier, “I was really excited when Bobby invited me to dinner.”

She swallowed a piece of roast, succulent and toxic, and grandpa chuckled behind his hand.

“Yes,” offered Bobby, dipping a disinterested toe into the shallow waters of conversation, “I thought you would be.” He had no interest whatsoever in this girl. It was grandpa who liked them young; Grandpa who was always scheming and plotting, using Bobby’s blonde haired and perky good looks to lure unsuspecting waifs to the dinner table.

In the past, Bobby had sustained a marginal interest in his grandfather’s devious plans and the resulting goings on. But that interest had been completely eradicated by the incestuous lust so recently kindled within him. He would, he decided, have his mother tonight.

“Yahoo!” exclaimed Grandpa.

 Bobby blinked and looked up from his dinner plate (conspicuously free of roast beef) to see their little guest’s pretty face turning a curious shade of blue, her tongue protruding from her mouth as the Rat-Away claimed her. She stared at the two of them for a few frantic moments and then fell forward into her plate, splattering bloody juice and lumps of brown gravy across the table.

“That was a good one, weren’t it boy!?” Grandpa could barely contain his excitement.

“Yes.” Bobby agreed, rising from his seat and making quickly for his room. “I’ll see you later, Grandpa.”

The old man’s only response was an inaudible mumble as he leaned over the table and sank his dentures into the tender throat of their late guest.


Bobby peered up at the clock from the darkness beneath his bed – the luminous digital display indicated that it was now 8:30. He realized with some surprise that he had been lying there amid the dusty shadows beneath his box spring for nearly two hours! My goodness, he thought, how time flies when you’re having fun! But enough was enough. Mother was probably getting herself ready for a night on the town at this very moment, no doubt sharpening her knives while he dawdled.

Spurred to action by the thought of his mother’s imminent departure, Bobby rolled out from beneath his bed. He stretched young muscles and whistled a happy tune, anticipating the conquest to come. Things might go easier, he thought, if he disrobed in advance. So, with anxious hands he dropped shirt, pants and underwear to the floor until he was naught but naked flesh and goose bumps in the cool air of his room. He touched himself lightly and hoped that mother would not offer too much resistance.

Another look at the clock told him that he’d better hurry, for it was nearly 9:00 and his mother would be getting dressed soon. He strolled across the brisk space of his room and opened the door. Alice, the family’s husky German Shepherd, stood drooling in the hall. Bobby patted the dog’s head and whispered conspiratorially.

 “You had your turn,” he said. “Now it’s time for mine.”

The big dog flopped over and rolled about on the floor, craving attention. Bobby, however, was far too excited to indulge in any of their usual games. Mother’s room was just down the corridor. . .


Bobby entered his mother’s room with a certain swaggering bravado, yanking the door open and strutting in with all the melodramatic flare of a gunfighter blowing into some notorious saloon. His mother, standing partially clothed before a full length mirror, jumped at his unexpected arrival and smeared the lipstick she had been applying across her cheek. In her black panties and bra, pink garters on her thighs, she had the appearance of a sleazy but not unattractive whore; and Bobby, who had experienced a nervous loss of determination after his impressive entrance, felt his courage and excitement grow at the sight of her.

“M. . . M. . . Mother. . .” he stammered, “I saw what you were doing with Alice last night. . .” His eyes crawled over her as he spoke, her length of shining blonde hair and the garters on her thighs inflaming him. “I’ve been thinking about you all day and I’ve come to get what I deserve.”

She gazed at him wistfully and dropped her lipstick to the floor.

“After all,” continued Bobby, “I am your only son.”

“My only living son,” she corrected. She rolled a glistening tongue over moist and partially painted lips. Bobby thought that the lipstick smeared crimson across her face looked like war paint. “But since you are so cute, I won’t hold that against you. In fact, since you are so cute. . .” Her voice faded into a breathy sigh as she slid the lacy black of her panties down to her ankles. “I think I can give you something better than the dog got.” She stepped out of her panties, now a black shadow on the floor. “Would you like that, Bobby?”

Bobby nodded his head in vigorous confirmation, his swollen adolescent flesh a testament to his desire. “Yes mother,” he said.

She un-strapped her bra and tossed it toward him, naked now except for the pink garters around her thighs. “Please, Bobby,” she whispered, “call me Rita. No need to be so formal.”  She sauntered over to the unmade bed, all long legs and swaying hips. “Now come over here and make me forget all about that drooling canine.”

Feeling as if he might explode at any moment, Bobby hurried across the room. He clambered on to the bed, smiling at the familiar sound of bed springs squeaking beneath his weight; and there between the gartered thighs of the woman who bore him, he became a man.

By Richard Cody