Sixteen – First Runner up in the Crimson Skull Contest

Kathleen clicked the TV off and sat in the gathering gloom of a quickly falling All Hallows Eve. She was depressed and the news on the tube – all murder, war and celebrity piffle – had deepened her dark mood; particularly the item concerning a series of bizarre decapitations occurring across the city, which the press had dubbed The Jack o’ Lantern Murders after the killer’s habit of leaving said item at the scene in place of the victim’s heads. Fifteen murders so far and the police had no clues. She sighed. Halloween had always been tough on her, bringing up as it did the memories that she fought all year to keep buried. It had been a late Halloween night sixteen years ago…

She was sixteen, perhaps a bit old for trick or treating but that’s what she’d been doing; walking a block or two ahead of her small group of friends when the man pulled her into the shadows between two dark houses and took her virginity with cold hands, violent thrusts, and a silence that was broken only by her soft whimpering. She never saw his face. Through it all, the grotesque mask he wore – like a Jack O’ Lantern with wild hair, glowing red eyes, and long, snaggleteeth – leered down at her. When the man came inside her (it was a man she told herself again and again, though he always appeared in her nightmares as a living shadow, a body of darkness with that horrible pumpkin face atop), it was like an icy wind blowing into the middle of her.

The child had been taken from her at birth. Just like the poor thing’s father, she never even saw the baby’s face. All she knew about the child was that it was a boy. And that there was something terribly wrong with him. She could still see the looks of horror and disgust creasing the faces of the doctor and nurses as they pulled him from her.

“What!?” she’d cried under the harsh lights of the delivery room, her legs splayed, soiled by blood and afterbirth and the product of her own bowels. “What is it!?”

But, with the exception of the child’s gender, they had refused to tell her anything. She shook her head in the darkness, realizing that he would be sixteen years old now. Surely he must wonder about her. She hoped not, for all of her associations with him were of pain and terror and sadness. She remembered the feeling of him growing inside of her, like a sickness…

Ding Dong!

She started when the doorbell rang, shaken by the chirpy chiming from her grim reverie. The evening had ripened into full darkness around her and she wondered who could be calling, as she was expecting nobody. Then she recalled again that it was Halloween. Of course! Still, she had no Jack O’ Lantern glowing on the porch, no seasonal decorations of any kind, in fact, and the house was dark inside and out. No trick or treaters would approach so dark a place, would they? She certainly wouldn’t.

The bell chimed again and she rose in the darkness, wondering what to do. She had no treats to offer and she definitely did not need any tricks. She was tempted to simply ignore the callers when she remembered some candy she had stashed in a cupboard to indulge her occasional sweet tooth. It wouldn’t go far but what the hell, she thought.

“Just a second!” she called out, moving through the dark to turn on a light and dig out her meager candy supply.

When she finally opened the door the porch was empty, only the dim glow of the sodium streetlights and a cool breeze there to greet her. “Impatient little bastards,” she mused aloud. Just as well, she thought, looking at the half eaten bag of “fun size” chocolate bars – these really wouldn’t last long. Closing the door, she turned back into the house and promptly dropped her candy and her jaw to the floor.

The man who had destroyed her innocence, and her life sixteen years ago stood before her. Impossible as it was, he stood there wearing the same frightful mask – a bulbous Jack O’ Lantern with crazy black hair, burning red eyes, and large snaggletooth mouth. It was as if he’d stepped from her nightmares, come from the darkness in her head to pay her a visit this Halloween, the sixteenth anniversary of his crime. She felt a scream rising in her throat when that horrible mouth opened and the truth hit her like a hammer over the head.

“Mother…” said the mask that she knew now was not a mask. “It’s my birthday…”

Her son, for that’s who this was her reeling mind and pounding heart told her – and my god didn’t he look just like his father!? – stepped aside and swept his long arm back, gesturing toward the sofa behind him, from whence she had risen only moments before. Placed side by side in a neat row upon the plush cushions were the heads of fifteen men and women. They stared up at her with blank eyes, blood oozing dark and sticky from the tattered stumps of their necks. Horribly, the snaggletooth mouth grinned – her son, The Jack O’ Lantern Killer! Crazily, she found herself thinking that the gore would never come out of the fabric, and that she simply could not afford new furniture right now.

“I’ve come for my present,” the impossible figure continued.  

“I…I…” she stammered, “wasn’t expecting you!”

“I’ve come for my present…” her boy repeated, stepping forward now and gripping her face in his long fingered hands. “I’m sixteen today…”

His breath on her face was like a graveyard wind, cold and vaguely rotten. “I know,” she whispered, feeling his fingers around her skull. “”I’ve thought of you often, my son… I love you…”

Before she could utter another lie he pulled her head from her body like a cork from a bottle, laughing as the arterial gush painted the room red. “Today I am a man,” he said, and kissed her on the lips.

By Richard Cody

Richard Cody, a native Californian, has been known to write poetry and fiction. His work has appeared more or less recently in Pulp Metal Magazine, Daily Love, Microstory a Week, The Carnage Conservatory, Askew Poetry, Red Fez, a handful of stones, and The Big Sur Round-Up. Richard writes what he sees – all the horror, all the beauty. Those interested in his darker scribblings are urged to check out his dark fiction/horror collection, Darker Corners, available as a paperback or eBook at Richard also maintains the haikuish blog,, perfect reading for those with little time and/or short attention spans.

A Child’s Introduction to Space – Second Runner up in the Crimson Skull Contest

Lesson 1:

She can’t see them anymore. Her autopsy kit is rusty. They told her all about it, but the flesh is cold. A refrigerator is hiding inside, slowly crawling to a stop. Freon leaking. Music is playing from a Bakelite radio caked with blood.

Children knocking at the door, trick or treating, but she won’t answer. The horror movie marathon is playing on the television, her only comfort in the past but not working at the moment. Outside it was Halloween and she remembered what she used to do as a child – but they had forgotten. Leaves were burning and the tree branches scratched and etched the window glass.

She ground her teeth in silence. The deep hole in her stomach got bigger.  It had started out as a small pinhole this morning but as the day unfolded it grew and grew eventually morphing into the huge cavern that she felt at the moment.

The twisted noise that had been growing in her belly catapulted out of her stomach through her esophagus over her tongue and out her open mouth, it was preceded by a wail that she had never expelled before, a scream that seemed to last forever, but no one heard it, not one of the shadows noticed. Then it happened again, she expelled a form from her mouth and it took shape in front of her. She looked around frantically. The creature, silvery and shadowy, translucent, looked at her with its huge round eyes and made a small noise. It seemed frightened. She couldn’t make out its features but it seemed to be a fusion of male/female sticky and beautiful, radiant in its own disguise. It froze for a moment then bolted out the open fire escape window into the night. She thought that she must be in shock, she was experiencing a feeling of euphoria, of a giddiness which she couldn’t explain. In a way she felt somewhat fulfilled as if at the end of a magnificent accomplishment  She should give that thing she birthed a name. That could be done later when all the clocks had stopped.

Another knock on the door. She ignored it, but it continued incessantly, torturing her, a grey worm entering one ear and eating its way slowly through her brain. Finally she relented and answered the door.  Her eyes were streaming tears and she was ready to spit bile at whoever was on the other side of the door.

Door opened:

A 13 year old translucent child in a harlequin costume was standing in the empty hallway.  He held a dead rabbit that dripped black fluid to the floor.

“Don’t you get tired of spitting out kids every week?” he asked.


“Don’t you remember? You coughed up another creature last week. It tore apart a nice old couple that lived around here. They were good people, never hurt anyone. The cops said that their bedroom was covered in blood and pieces of flesh. A stray kidney was thrown around the room also. Some body parts were never recovered”

His words were accusatory, but the tone of his voice was nonchalant, almost bored.

He looked at her blankly.   He looked once more then burst into flames. No screams, no noise, just a flicker like flash paper in a silent movie. After a few seconds, only the shadows were left. She walked over to the outline etched into the hallway vinyl and touched what looked like a shadow with the toe of her boot. She slammed the door shut. The boy’s words were very troubling.  She thought back to last week, trying to reconstruct the past, but she had no recollection of any even remotely similar events happening. But… it seemed to her that in the recesses of her memories, kicking around, trying to get out that something had happened.   

Lesson 2:

She had to get lost, had to leave. She left her apartment, made her way down the hallway while tiny palsied hands grabbed at her and wetness touched her repeatedly. It was Halloween, she should go out and watch the trick-or-treaters or the parade.

It was a wet night – not raining, just damp and it cleansed her face of the tear stains.

The street was painted red, black and orange. A whore was under a street light fingering herself because no one was buying. A head was between her legs gazing up – pickled eyes – no reaction. The black dog slowly limped away from her, a hand clutching a switchblade in its mouth.

People passed by, some adults in full costume on their way to a party, some children with bags of candy.

People passed by never watching.

She stared for awhile, not knowing what to do, half expecting them to start a conversation with her. There was a slight squeal. It was about a foot away from her. She could see that a rat was staring at her. It didn’t move as she grabbed it and sunk her teeth into it, cracking its neck. Slowly she inserted its head into her mouth and clamped down: bone, flesh and its squeals satisfied her for now. After spitting the head out, she used the bloody stump as a paintbrush and painted her eyelids and her mouth with the gore. 

“That was before this….”

The black dog is after me. She made it up the stairs. The squeaky creatures peered thru the banister at her as she made her way painfully up the stairs. Her head screamed, pulsed with pain. The  front door closed behind her, so slowly in fact that she worried that someone may have snuck in behind her. She turned around ignoring her audience at the banister and walked down the stairs to the front door. She pulled on it hard – it was locked. She turned and again made her way up the stairs. The squeaky creatures snickered at her. At the door of her apartment she stopped and retrieved her keys.

Once the door was open, she stuck her hand inside and felt for the wall switch. The light flickered on and she stepped into her apartment, into the kitchen. It was the same, nothing had changed. It was just like she left it. The walls were still flecked with blood. There was a pool of red/purple on the floor. The blood was getting old now, so it was well into coagulation. Amazingly, no flies were present. The pumpkin she had bought hoping to make an artistic jack-o-lantern like those depicted in the Life Style Magazine she had purchased, remained on the dining room table, uncut – unused. 

With a slightly sickening plop, the heart she had left on the dining room table fell to the floor. Fuck!   Moving quickly, she wiped up the slop since blood is a real bitch to remove once it’s dried; then again there is also that DNA forensic problem, so she would have to bleach it out and test the area with the ultraviolet sensor.  

Lesson 3:

A ball of fluid was situated above her pineal gland.

The noises from the Werewolf Biker Clubhouse across the street were gathering in a plastic way – the bikers clad in leather were parking their Harleys by the curb, drinking beer, fondling their old ladies, and talking about crime and engaging in other small talk. The men were drooling; their rancid eyes were glowing at the prizes the females had brought home: a m/f executive 30ish couple in full costume – snatched on their way to the parade. He was dressed as Raggedy Ann, she as Raggedy Andy. They were both freshly killed – so fresh that their bodies still twitched. The costumes were removed and burned – the smoke carried an odor of cloth and blood and drifted in tickling her nostrils and causing her to salivate. The heads had been removed and thrown into the street; the bodies hung upside down to enable the females to drain the blood for their keg party. Link Wray was on the boom box. A good time was being had by all. 

It got her hot and tingly just hearing it and smelling it; the taste carried itself down the back of her throat etching a path, raising her awareness, causing her to walk a little bit unsteadily.  

Lesson 4:

She had removed all her clothing and the morphing creatures told her where to go. In the center of the room, on a mahogany slab, the victims lay on their backs situated for easy access.

She was naked except for her patent leather stiletto heels circa 1958. Her buttocks swayed gently. The heels echoed and reverberated as she walked, since the walls and floor were constructed of iron plates. She carried the lit jack-o-lantern that she had finally finished. She hurled the jack-o-lantern at the wall and delighted in the sound of the splattering rind and skin as the flame sizzled out. The Theremin short circuited and the windows cried.

 Her mouth became a wet ferrous swamp upon seeing the moist throbbing erectile machines. She walked towards them slowly. Haunting murmurs of the vascular system cloaked in steam tickled her nostrils. It was an earthy-medical smell and it made her salivary glands switch into overdrive. The rods were organic pleasure attached to things that were once human on the slab.

She had been dead, now she was flesh. As she walked towards them, fluid dripped from her and each drop exploded – humanoid poppers, like the little red boxes of Pop Pop Snappers she used to buy in Chinatown for the New Year. Little red boxes covered with Chinese writing and happy children – “POP! POP! SNAPPERS! A Novel Trick Item! Trick Noise Makers! Bang drop it! Throw it! Step on it! Snap It! For outdoor fun. Come 50 individual pieces per box.”

She stood over them, lowered herself slowly and inserted each tube into each lower orifice. She was kneeling now. This action caused her to shake, but she didn’t scream, didn’t want them to know her pain. The victims stared blankly; occasionally tears would drip from their eyes. After 30 minutes (as she could see by the wall clock) she didn’t want them to know her pleasure. In front of her was an oozing mirror: full length, accusing, watching her face contort and it couldn’t understand. She was being stretched wider than ever before, pleasure becoming a counterpoint to her pain, pleasure in search of a collision.

Control. Alternate rhythm. Fast to excruciatingly slow. Except for her mewing and moans and the sound of her pale flesh sweating there was no sound or noise in the room. She craved a melody, but couldn’t remember any, couldn’t recall memories. As long as she controlled them the silence would remain. “I know, you ache, but this is critical,” she sighed. As the words were uttered, fluid exploded from her vagina, drenching her toys in clear hot sauce.

She extricated herself, lurching forward, causing the mirror to fall forward. She had removed herself too quickly causing damage to the figures on the floor. They spurted blood; slow red streams painted the iron floor mixing with the silvery glass, turning into mercury. She felt cramps in her legs as she unsteadily walked towards the audience, her knees were raw. The morphing creatures commenced a silent clapping, a slow clapping. Afterwards the brains were weighed and the bodies were filed away.

Lesson 5:

The horror movie marathon continued.

The blood smelled tangy and full. She smiled to herself and walked into the dining room, being careful not to step into the puddle. Her life was so full of blood lately, she thought to herself.

this stuff – my clothes – my face are caked with it- the blood and smack of that junky who was always so nice to me i shouldn’t have done that, i shouldn’t have done this. why can’t it get better, why do i feel it why the white noise the crackle the masturbating idiot sound i always hear in here. the drummers will start again soon. the final clump clump darrump bumpo that throb that robot voice…tap-dancing…all sweaty smell death she…she went back to the kitchen and stuck her index finger gently into the puddle…a ripple in the pool also gentle…oh so gently it tastes like pain and salt..he suffered a long time i made him beg and then i finished him..they always pay..and i always make them beg..are you listening mommy and daddy..??

Lesson 6:

Goddess of narcotics. Exhausted, she made her way to the bed near the slightly open window. On the night table she adjusted her photograph of Raggedy Ann and Andy. It was a childhood memento – the only one that her parents hadn’t destroyed. The bed was cool and she stretched out languidly, placing a portion of the sheets between her legs, cooling her slowly. As she started to drift off – she noticed a smell of saliva and vaginal fluid. The window creaked as it was slowly opened from the outside. She had her back to the window but didn’t turn her head. She knew who or what it was – sticky wet hands and a sticky wet body – now grown full size, caressed her gently from behind as it whispered into her ear – “Mommy I’m back. My trick or treat bag is full.”  Finally, sleep.

By Peter Marra

Peter Marra is from Williamsburg Brooklyn. Born in Gravesend, Brooklyn, he lived in the East Village, New York from 1979-1987 at the height of the punk – no wave rebellion.  Peter has had a lifelong fascination with Surrealism, Dadaism, and Symbolism, some of his favorite writers being Paul Eluard, Arthur Rimbaud, Tristan Tzara, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry Miller. His favorite artists are Salvador Dali, Felicien Rops, Dante Rossetti and Amedeo Modigliani. He has had approximately 50 poems published in the past year.
His earliest recollection of the writing process is constructing a children’s book with illustrations in the 1st grade. The only memory he has of this project is a page that contained an illustration of an airplane, drawn in crayon, caught in a storm. The caption read: “The people are on a plane. It is going to crash. They are very scared.” 
His poems and stories explore alienation, love, addiction, the havoc that secrets can wreak and obsessions often recounted in an oneiric filmic haze. He wishes to find new methods of description and language manipulation wrapped in a frenzy.
He is currently constructing his first collection of poems. Peter’s published work may be viewed at:

Headless and The Groupie – Third Runner up in the Crimson Skull Contest

9:00 p.m.  And she giggles. 

The gutters moved from one end of its filth to the other and he raised his hand and cleansed her soul with a scouring pad laced in metal wool, masked by a fragrance of lavender and a hint of breathing blood prior to sticking his face between her monumental folds, his nostrils cavernously inhaling and exhaling as his tongue laced in soft thorns pricked her cleavage in long tender strokes just enough until the velvety of her flesh pricked and the wounds opened and debarred the scent of virgin jasmine mint blood. 

And the legs straddled high, parted in peace, riding the invisible stallion. Humping up, humping down, her ass bumping the soft rugged cushiony seat beneath as it grazed her maximus with rug burn. 

The stallion rode her deep, extending his bruised head longer, expanding her tiny womb greater before her orgasm, before his orgasm, the antiquity of his metallic sword then glistened against the moonlight, bright like a child’s smile, and curvaceous like a woman’s body, as it sensually grazed the smooth of her elongated neck until the shrill of her orgasmic cry forced the metal sheath to penetrate through her skin, erotically severing flesh from bone until there was nothing but her headless corpse convulsing in rhythm to her orgasm.

The Headless Horseman observed in absolute amusement as the body continued to writhe beneath him while her vulvanic muscles continued to contract around his mass up until the moment it seized into a dead end sex. Without warning her pussy turned abruptly cold.  Beautifully damaged she was in all her glorious naked glory, and in the back seat of his taxi, he observed, of all places. 

And the Headless Horseman sulked. The grisly scenario presenting more of a trajectory of dissatisfaction when the orgasmic flow of his hot juice reminded him that he was still alive and she was dead dead.  Now to dispose of her body remained the question as with the bodies before. He pulled his Victorian-esque trousers back over his hips and scratched the hallow of his head. Confused over his emotions he was as always before. He self-consciously stared over his shoulder, at the commuters commuting in costume for this dreadful Halloween night. He only picked her because she was standing there on a corner looking uninvitedly distressed and dressed like a period Maid in a sexy corset while her long lean legs pranced around in sheer black stockings. And the thin black line running up and down the backs of both her svelte thighs and vanishing within a pair of strappy black stilettos did not help his conquest in having her. 

The Headless Horseman originally wanted to fuck her, not fuck her then, while in the throes of his climax, sever her head.  It was fair to say, and to anyone reading this shit, that the Headless Horseman was in absolute distraught. Not because he killed, yet another beauty who dared flirt with him, but this was how he looked all the time: Headless with a dead head. A man, at some point in his life, riding a horse. And his MO: severing the heads of those summoned to beheadedness. But it had been years-centuries, it seemed-had he been summoned to carry out such grisly atrocities. . .that is. . . until he succumbed to becoming a taxi cab driver, solely to survive on the heads of others. But this beauty was different. There was something about her.  He felt a connection spiritually, as if she were a mate of some predestined past particularly when she glanced his way from having stood on a corner two blocks down had their eyes locked in factual unison. 

And now she was dead. . . or was she?  Because it wasn’t until the Headless Horseman began pondering on the convictions when her headless corpse unexpectedly sat up and began redressing itself in the same fashion as it first dressed itself late that afternoon. 

And it didn’t matter that there was blood red blood spilling from her flawless neck. Or that there were pieces of raw matter, like tissue and nerves and muscle pulsating with every move she made. It wasn’t until the strap to her second stiletto had been re-fastened had she turned her corpse toward the Headless Horseman and said: “May I have my head back, please?” 

The Headless Horseman who had been staring at the mutilated corpse in a state of shock and awe, and what seemed like for hours, through eyes paralyzed beyond belief, had to pick up his jaw from beneath his icy chin just to say, “Excuse. . .me?  Your. . . your what?”

The corpse quivered beyond a shake of a laughter heard fainted somewhere from within his taxi. 

“My head,” she said pointing directly at it.  It was on the floor, resting still, beneath his murky feet. 

The Headless Horseman swallowed a buffet of insects that had gathered at the very back of his throat; insects he had to drive to the pit of a soiree cumulating within the depths of his desecrated tomb.  Within a state of slovenness, the Headless Horseman reached beneath his seat and gently picked up the beauty’s head and carefully handed it back to her. 

“Oh, God,” the Headless Horseman balked within a sickened whisper, “This can’t be happening? I killed you. You’re supposed to be dead?”

The beauty’s head snapped back on, and the soiree of insects pinched at the Headless Horseman’s deceased nerves. He jerked.

“Death never becomes me,” the beauty stated as she reached into her purse and pulled a vanity mirror. Surveying her neck at first, then her lips still stained in rouge, she then looks at the Headless Horseman and smiles. “Yup!” She says slamming the mirror shut then gesturing with her hands here and there as if she had been speaking for the last five minutes. “In the undead world, I’m referred to as a Serial Groupie. . .you know, like those human girls who wait around after shows to bed the headlining stars. . . that’s me, only I wait around in dark places to have sex with the undead, such as yourself, whom can’t have sex with the living because they‘re always subject to death in some form or another.” The groupie, no longer a beauty, then smoothes the creases of her Maid’s costume skirt against her stocking thighs. She wants a cigarette. She bums a cigarette from the Headless Horseman who shakes his head. It too makes a snapping sound, and the groupie giggles. “You’re cute,” she says touching his chin. It’s warm to her touch. A sensation lingers between her legs. “You know, I’ll be available next Halloween. . .in case you get interested in chopping off my head again.”

“Halloween?” The Headless Horseman repeats amidst a sour note.

“Oh, I know,” the groupie sympathizes, touching the Headless Horseman’s face again, then his hands. They’re bone thin beneath the mask of human skin. The groupie doesn’t mind, as she squeezes, then leans forward and kisses the back of one of his hands tenderly.  She parts her lips. Her moist tongue swivels in circles, embedding a pattern the Headless Horseman can’t make out, but he’s genuinely turned on.  The groupie lets go of his hand and surrenders it back to him. She turns in her seat and reaches for the door handle.

“Wait!” The Headless Horseman calls out desperately. His hand on her frail shoulder.  “Where are you going?  Halloween isn’t quite over with yet. There’s still time. . . you know. . . to chop your head off again.”

“I’m sorry to fuck and run, Headless, but I do have other serial manly callers expecting me.”

“Are you shittin’ me?”

The groupie giggles again. “I’m sorry to disappoint your ego, Headless, but there are other undead killers out there.”


“You know. . . like Freddie, Jason, Michael-”


“You know, those other modern day killers, the one’s they make movies about.  You know, Freddie with his fingers of death. Jason with that devilishly hockey mask of his. Oh, and Michael with his loyalty toward our God, Samhain. They too need some form of pleasure. And believe me, just because they go around killing people, especially pretty young women doesn’t mean they don’t desire the comforts of a woman’s sex. . . they do, and as much as the next man does. . .only the movies tend to leave that part out. I guess the idea of women having sex with boogiemen on camera just isn’t proper enough, yet stabbing, chopping, slicing, dicing, and mutilating seems to be acceptable. In my opinion, murder and sex combined sells. Man, I just don’t get Hollywood. Do you?” The Headless Horseman shakes his hallow head.  His brain sways.  It sounds like slush. The groupie giggles and steals a kiss from his chilly lips. “Happy Halloween!” She then croons before slamming the taxi door behind her.  In the semi-dark, the Headless Horseman watches speechless backed by a hint of delusion as she storms off. A kick here, a swing of her hip there, until she disappears, literally, from sight. 

Before the Headless Horseman can ingest what has just happened, his radio beeps his next fare. He curses, and eventually hops into the front seat. He starts the engine and clears his fare box. After, he glances into the rearview mirror and slaps both sides of his mawkish face, chanting beneath his breath: “It was a dream. A dream. It was all a dream.” He then throws the gear into drive, yet the possibility of the dream lingers. . .

A mile down he picks up a young couple who squabble within the cab.  She’s pissed because he’s lost his edge for the bizarre and strange of what Halloween really represents.  He ignores her and stares out the window.  She sighs out and glances toward the front of the taxi’s cab and smirks at the driver through the rearview mirror.

“Holy shit!” The guy shouts.

“What?” Says the girl startled.

The guy picks up his hand. “There’s fucking blood on this seat!” 

The Headless Horseman turns a disbelief ear. . . Blood? He questions, blankly.  It can’t be?  He argues.  Then it wasn’t a dream!  She was real. The fucking groupie was real!

“Oh really?” Says the girl through a wicked grin, pulling the Headless Horseman from his party of arguable thoughts. “Hmm,” she then drones surveying the blood on her boyfriend’s hand.  She inhales the blood.  “It’s fresh,” she says in a sensual state of grotesque.  “Oh, Jimmy, I’m so turned on right now.”

“You’re sick, you know that!” Jimmy then yells, snatching his hand from his girlfriend’s face.  “Sir, are you aware that there’s blood on your seat?” Jimmy then drills the Headless Horseman.

The Headless Horseman ignores Jimmy but he doesn’t ignore the girl. He sees she has a beautiful neck. And a beautiful face. The stallion stirs within. 

“Sir!” Jimmy shouts. “S. . . ir” were the last words to then escape Jimmy’s mouth. He slumps forward. And the sound of metal retreating from flesh and the gurgle of blood seeping out from within a damaged cavity was enough to cause the woman to scream, only her screams now was of pure pleasure as the stallion rode her high, then deep, prior to beheading her once and for all.

For the next several minutes, the Headless Horseman waited in anticipation for the woman’s corpse to arise like the groupie’s, but it was to no avail-she was, without certainty, dead. And this, he realized, and without question, not a dream.

“Damn!” The Headless Horseman bitched after an hour. “Damn,” he then murmured holding the precious head of the dead girl within the palms of his pale thrashed hands. “Damn,” his words at long last echoed in regret.

And somewhere beyond that echo of regret, she giggles beneath Michael’s half naked brawny body. She then giggles louder, and the knife comes thrashing down hard over her bare breasts. Thump! Thump!  

By Devlin De La Chapa

DEVLIN DE LA CHAPA has been published here and there, and is scheduled to appear elsewhere.  She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and was recently awarded Editor’s Choice at The Camel Saloon. Devlin edits at BoySlut.

A Man’s World

Tina turned on the stage, displaying her lithe body, moving clumsily, but still displaying some of her previous grace that she kept in her 44-inch-long legs. Lucas sat back holding his dick in his hand, yelling obscenities at her. He would never touch her, no matter how horny he was. But he sure as hell would jack it to her pretty tits that were only recently turning gray. If he didn’t look at her face he could get off pretty quickly. If he didn’t think about the chain around her neck he could almost imagine she was going to suck his cock, instead of biting it off.
Deadly Divine was one of the many strip clubs on the far end of town that housed decaying beauties who had minimal bodily injury, and could be made to look almost alive. Some of them probably were strippers before the disease hit. Before, the plague took women from the men and left them with hungry shells who gnawed at their husband’s innards. The virus only affected women, and only reanimated girl corpses with buxom buttocks and perky nipples. Actually, it had no preference as long as you had a y chromosome; it would take even the unattractive ladies, the old biddies, the fat fatties, the unwanted and disgusting. Although now that there was no pussy, most men would have been happy with fucking anything that wasn’t dead, which really made you appreciate the little things, like a vagina. So Deadly Divine tried to bring a little of that feminine essence back to its customers with lovely dancers and moaners such as Tina. She was a real catch too, must have been something lovely when she didn’t have a rapidly expiring body. She was Lucas’s favorite, now that Claudia had almost turned black from rot. Deadly’s tried to preserve their merchandise as long as they could, freezing the fresh meat that they hunted down. The world of men was a bitter unkempt one. Yeah some men were glad their old ladies had up and died, even if they did come back to life for a bit of a snack. They didn’t have to put the lid down anymore, no need to clean the house or change underwear. The TV was theirs! They never had to watch a fucking weepy chick flick ever again! That didn’t last. Suddenly there wasn’t anyone around to remind them that the animals needed to be fed and the laundry done, the bathroom cleaned, the food bought. No one came home with dinner anymore. Then they fucking panicked and there was a mass wave of suicides. No sex? No sweet gestures? No one to confide in as a partner and lover. Testosterone levels being at their highest, the riots and fights broke out. Buildings burned. Guns blazed. Society crumbled. Scientist scratched their heads trying to locate the cause of female extinction. The few women who remained were carefully tucked away in laboratories for study. They were rare and could only be handled by exceptionally gay men, who would not break down with lust and rape them to death.
It was bleak. Lucas knew how bleak it was as he stroked his dick and tried to remember what a wet pussy felt like. Masturbation was everywhere, no longer taboo and now widely accepted and understood. Men on the streets would look at old Playboy magazines from a ransacked news stand and jerk off like they were reading a book on a park bench. If women weren’t roaming disease infested zombies, they would sure as hell want to be after seeing the amount of semen excreted in public. Not every man reverted to a caveman-like state with the women gone, but most of them were quickly killed by the ones who had. Establishments such as Deadly Divine popped up, chaining the freshly extinguished women to a wall and stripping them naked, making them prance on the stage by dragging a piece of human flesh back and forth. It brought some kind of order to men like Lucas who went home every night and put a shotgun barrel in his mouth just to taste death, and know that he had a choice. Lucas was hopeful that they would find a way to cure this illness, but he also heard rumors. Rumors that said there were no more women. People liked to talk, to speculate on the misery that surrounded them. He had to tell himself that they didn’t know shit, he had to or he would pull that trigger.
Lucas could feel himself getting close to climax. He could feel his orgasm ready to explode any second. He only had a moment to do what he needed to. Lucas leapt on the stage, pinning Tina down and stuck his dick deep inside her rotting cunt. He came inside a women again, finally. He didn’t even notice that Tina had started tearing chunks out of his neck, or the fact that he’d entered the dead would soon kill him. Maybe it was the fog of getting off and rapid blood loss, but Lucas was the happiest he’d ever been at that moment, with Tina eating him alive. By the time the managers of Deadly Divine reached the stage to pull Tina off, Lucas was dead, and smiling with the widest grin they’d ever seen. It was all they could do not to surrender then and there to Tina and her putrid mouth of tearing teeth.  

By Emily Smith-Miller

It Sure As Fuck ‘Aint No Happy Meal

If you wanted my heart,

you didn’t have to rip it out like that–

you could have cut it out


just gut me

slice me

take every part of me

run the blade softly over my skin

like your tongue used to do,

cold metal caressing my flesh

remembering all the secret spots

your mouth and hands knew best


then just dive right in—

carve me up like a Thanksgiving turkey

spread me wide like a fucking wishbone

devour my flesh

savor my blood

suck my bones like spare ribs

eat my organs like gizzards

my lungs

my liver


you wanted my heart

so take all of me;

give my death some semblance of meaning

eat me

squeeze every last drop of blood

from my heart as though it were still beating,

and when you’re full and satisfied afterwards,

picking the unwanted bits out of your teeth,

at least do it

with feeling

By Cynthia Ruth Lewis

Some Blood on the Moon

What kind of music do werewolves listen to? I think a lot of people would say death metal, Satan rock. I mean, I can see that, but that’s lame vampire shit. Go slit your wrists and bleed on someone, Dracula, give me a fucking break. I get down with a little Goth rock now and again, some Type O Negative and what not, but mostly I’m an alternative punk rock kind of girl, er, werewolf, she-wolf? But tonight I’ve got on Ozzy; yeah, Bark at the Moon, baby. Tonight I have an agenda. Now you may say that Bark at the Moon is some clichéd shit for a werewolf to listen to. Well, you know what? I also like Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves of London’ and loads of other transformation-inspired songs. I like to listen to them on nights like this, when I know I’m going to tear someone’s throat out, when I know I’m going to become the big bad wolf they talk about in horror stories. So it’s me and Ozzy at the wheel of my piece of shit car, covered in Misfit stickers, and the questioning song title ‘Mommy Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight?’ flashes in my head. I switch CDs to Walk Among Us — thank you, Glenn Danzig.

He deserves it. I know he does, because I’m one of his beautiful victims. Usually I wouldn’t waste my time with a fucker like this, but he has to be stopped. The girl he’s with is smiling stupidly and I know it’s because she doesn’t know any better, but also because she’s probably a dumb fuck. I don’t want to hurt her, and I won’t, but I’ll probably scare the shit out of her. My large paws flex and my hind legs shiver with anticipation, I suppress a growl. I don’t want to ruin the surprise. I had changed in the alley by Sushi Lounge, so I could stalk him from there and not be seen, what with all the unlit connecting back streets. If someone saw me they would call animal control for fucking sure. I was a large gray and black wolf. Bigger than an average wolf, with bright gold eyes. It would be best not to be seen right now; I didn’t want any more fatalities, just this one.

He was petting her suggestively, sending a wave of hatred down my spine. I’m glad he’s so predictable. I usually reserve my kills for really evil people; I wouldn’t have typically considered him an ideal candidate for my tearing treatment, but he’d proven himself time and again. I didn’t trust average justice for the ones I killed; they were repeat offenders who always got off. This guy was a different breed of murderer. He spread his disease to girls, like this one, whose skirt he’s lifting up right now, delicately fingering her scarce panties. He sold his drugs to kids, like the one who died last week. He was a parasitic virus, and now he was going to learn a lesson.

I crept behind parked cars, this spot of downtown was free of people and onlookers. It was dark and sickly, like the man who was moving in for his own brand of killing. It only took one forward leap to take him down. The stunned girl waited a pleasant moment before screaming her lungs out. I turned and showed her my finest smile and deepest, echoing growl. That put the fear of god in her and she fell back, like an idiot. Giant wolf beast, propped up on your boyfriend! RUN, BITCH! Finally she got it through her skull and sprinted down the street. I only had moments now; she would bring police, that is if they listened to her incoherent ramblings. But I didn’t want to hurry things; I wanted to relish this, because it had gotten personal. I force my hot breath and dripping saliva in his face. I run my teeth against his skin, my fangs caressing his cheek, and I make him look into my eyes, which change from gold to my own human green, and I know he recognizes them. I was waiting for that moment of recognition, because that’s when the real terror seeped in. Up until this point I was a mad dog, and he might be able to get away if he played dead, but now it was different. He knew I was vengeance, he knew I’d come for him and he knew I was going to fucking eat him alive. With a finite snarl and what I imagine would have been a smile in human form, I place my jaws, my steel trap jaws, around his neck. I feel his heart pounding like a kick drum: Do not have a heart attack before I get my kill, I think. I bite down and take his whole throat with me — esophagus, jugular, windpipe, everything. He is now an almost severed head. Blood soaking on my muzzle, I bound away into the night, satiated, in more than one way.

By Emily Smith-Miller

Red Riding

You smiled at me because I couldn’t fold a fitted sheet, and I laughed at you because your “whites” were grey. You read steampunk, and I read smut. We’d swap sentences under the flickering florescent lights. The change machine was broken, so you went out in the rain to get more quarters at the Gas-N-Sip. You’d always bring back a slushy for me. My lips would turn blue, and you’d steal my panties, put them on your head, and parade around the launderette. I lost you to the waxing moon, and now, sitting alone in the dark, I realize this … this the dishonest parting of my soul.

You accost me with chaos; eject your black death into me. You stink of the sewer, of the shadows and the rats. You’re a thrill seeker. A phantom. You say I am ugly when I cry. Then you make me cry. You were charming once … at the launderette. Now you’re just a beast. I dream you gnawing on my bones.

You say our love, it’s been more complicated than expected. Just short of an anagram, so I say, “Light the candles and make a list of what you need.”

You ask if it can be personal — of wood with a hint of silver.

I say yes.

I’ve called out to you from the cold, from snowdrifts and rotted trees, but you never answer. You just claw at my door and gut the neighbors’ cat.

We’ll meet again in the dark.

In the confusion of us.

I’ll bury you there. No one will know where.

It’s what’s expected.

I’d warned you before, but you’ll never see, the carnage that is you and the vengeance that is me.

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

It’s Party Time

She pulled the fishnets up her thighs. She strapped the tall high heels around her ankles. She shifted her lacey black panties and pushed up her cleavage. She put on her cat ears and hissed at herself in the mirror.

“Sara!! Get your ass down here!”

Sara looked at herself in the mirror one last time, checking for signs of the whore’s blood lipstick on her pearly whites and fluffing her blondie hair for the thousandth time. “You are going to get fucked tonight,” she winked at herself.

“You don’t look scary,” Trish said, wrinkling her nose at Sara.

“Yeah . . . and you look fucking terrifying. Why?”

“Because I woke up this morning and thought, shit, I need to pour a jug of fake blood on myself, because that fresh look just isn’t cutting it for me anymore!” She glared at Sara, who was still grasping for the joke a little slowly. “Because it’s fucking Halloween Sara! That’s why! You know costume contests, lots of scary bullshit? Mass murders? Satan? The night the spirits of the dead run wild?”

“Gotcha. Well good luck with that, I’m screwing Alan Dennings tonight.”

“Make sure you wear one of those stainless steel condoms then!”


“Hey don’t say I didn’t warn you if you end up with the Clap!'”

They giggled in raucous joy as they slipped out of Sara’s duplex and tromped towards Trish’s Altima. The knife Trish had protruding out of her stomach made slipping into the driver’s side a little difficult, but she managed to keep the prop mostly intact.

“So, where is this thing anyway?” Sara prompted.

“You know James, the guy from my welding class?”

“Oh shit, you mean the guy you were blowing when you almost burnt down the whole iron works garage?!”

“One and the same. Well there’s this bitching piece of property off the main highway, his parents are realtors, and they never go out there. Apparently the thing has been on the market for like 15 years, I don’t know. But! It’s supposed to be a pseudo mansion, all falling apart and shit with a couple acres of land attached. So voila! Haunted house central!”

“That is so fucking cliché and you fucking know it! We’re gonna get like hacked to pieces or some shit!” Sara squealed at her, clearly not deterred.

“That, my skanky friend, is the absolute point.” Trish gave a wolfish grin and unleashed a lead foot on her gas pedal.

They pulled into the field with what looked like about a hundred other cars of various makes and models.  Trish’s horror house wet dream loomed in the distance, lit up with sparkling orange lights and a raging bonfire blazing in the front.  Sara opened her mouth, giving the best blowjob face a girl can have, at the sight of the party.

“Fuck me. The whole student body is totally here,” Sara beamed. “I’m definitely fucking Alan Dennings tonight!”

“Easy, princess,” Trish said while grabbing a bottle from the back seat. “We need to take care of us first!”

“Whatd’ya bring Trishy?”

“Something tasty.”

“You know I don’t drink that flavored vodka anymore, after last spring break!”

“Sara, shut up,” Trish smiled as she poured each of them a flask.  She handed one to Sara and lifted hers in a cheers salute. “To mother fucking Halloween!”

“Wooo!” Sara screamed and drank deeply. “Time to party.”

“In the words of Return of the Living Dead, ‘IT’S PARTY TIME’!!!” The girls set off on their trek across the field to the holy grail of keggers and probably Date Rapes R Us, with an extra spring in their step.

The manor house was an old plantation model, with a big wrap around porch and Ionic columns, the paint was flaking away in sheets of withered white and brown, and the windows were either boarded up or so caked in dirt they were viably useless. Their classmates danced around the glowering fire in the tribal rhythm of a pagan ritual. They looked like possessed seizure victims or Trish didn’t know what, but it looked like fun abandon. Sara was bouncing at her side, hardly standing on her elevated stilts.

“Trishy, everyone is out of their fucking skull already! Do you think someone’s handing out cups with acid in them like that one place?”

“Sara, we’re not in 1969, I doubt anyone is gonna waste good acid by putting it in cups at this party.”

“Psh! You never know, Trish, remember it is Halloween and the nut jobs are on the loose.” Sara looked at her friend knowingly. “I’m asking anyway, so boo to you, bitch.” 

Trish watched Sara bound away on her mission. She couldn’t help but love her, and her determination. She was staring up at the house in awe and dim foreboding, when she felt it grip her wrist. Trish leapt in the air away from the drunk girl who was slithering on the lawn, wearing some kind of scaly costume, looking like a large python. She had reached up and clasped her claw onto Trish’s hand and was trying to pull her down to her level. Trying to pry the fingers off of her, Trish heard the girl start to choke. “Fuck, this bitch is sick, or maybe she’s on acid,” she thought. The girl’s eyes grew wide, looking at nothing but the fire, the flames reflecting in her pupils.

“Don’t do it!” she suddenly wailed, heaving forward at the bonfire, dragging Trish with her.

“Let go, bitch! I don’t know what the fuck you’re on but let my fucking arm go!” Trish pulled herself away from the girl just before she did a swan dive into the heart of the pyre. “Holy fuck,” she whispered to herself, and began looking around for other witnesses to react. She was completely alone on the front lawn, watching the python girl barbeque herself.

“Hello?” Sara said as she turned another corner in the large house. She had followed a group of people towards a back room, then they turned the corner and she had lost them. She’d been running in circles since then trying to locate anyone else. “Great fucking party, Trish,” she muttered, making her way to what she believed was the kitchen. There was a steel tub filled with ice and beer and she helped herself.

“Hello, Sara,” he whispered in her ear. Sara jumped and her beer went flying across the old, stale tile that was curling at the edges.

“Jesus Christ! Alan! You scared the shit out of me!” she said as she turned to look at him. “Well I guess you and Trish really get into the holiday spirit, huh?” she noted, looking at his bloody face, and the oozing slit in his throat.

“You know what I’ve always wanted, Sara?” He moved upon her with his hands reaching under her short black dress.

“Uh . . . um . . . a Hummer?” she stammered as she felt the sticky wetness of Alan’s wounds pressing against her, and the smell of something just not quite right.

“Hehe,” he sniggered. “Funny you should mention hummer, Sara, but no, I’ve always wanted your fucking juicy lips on my hard dick, how ‘bout right now?” Alan grabbed the back of Sara’s hair and started shoving her towards his cock, which he was in the process of pulling out from his hipster jeans.

“Oh, come the fuck on!” Sara shouted. “Get the fuck off of me, Alan!”

“Not until you blow me, bitch.”

“Oh fuck off Alan, your dick is tiny,” Trish said suddenly, bringing a wooden bat down on his already mutilated head.

“What the fuck, Trish!” Sara cried in excitement. They both looked down at the twitching mess that had been Sara’s choice screw for the evening. “What happened to him?” Sara asked, in bewilderment, not without a touch of sadness that she may not be getting laid tonight.

“I don’t know, but we need to get the fuck out of here dude, like on the realz.”

“Trish, zombie Alan just tried to get me to blow him, give me a second.” Sara frowned down at Alan in his blood-soaked yet still trendy clothes, with his nice body and his seriously fucked up face . . .

“Alright,” Trish blurted. “Moment’s up, let’s go, now!”

Trish and Sara made their way out of the kitchen and back towards the front door, the walls seeming to change shades of color before their eyes. No matter what entranceway they took they kept walking in intertwining circles around the bottom level of the house.

“Trish, how the fuck did you get in here? Where is the door?”

“You know, I’ve been thinking that very same question,” Trish snapped back at her.

“And where are all the people? I followed a group of them, but they disappeared,” Sara mused, opening a closet door, hoping it to lead somewhere. The foul odor that emerged was unbearable, like sour milk and rotten eggs, simmering in puke and shit. The stench caused both girls to gag and hit their knees.

“Close it, Sara!” Trish shouted.

“I can’t, it’s stuck . . . oh my god I’m going to vomit!”

James didn’t look quite the same as Trish remembered when he walked out of the closet door. He had always been tall and tan with flecked green eyes and dark brown hair. This James was a little more . . . demonic. His skin had bubbled around the neck and face, leaving burnt-looking skin patches, and his eyes had a lovely black sheen. The fingers on his hands looked like tools Jack the Ripper would save for a special occasion and his usually lovely smile was now a jaw filled with triangular shark-like teeth.

“Holy shit, James,” Sara exclaimed. “You really let yourself go.” James growled with menacing hatred.

“Oh go fuck yourself, James.” Trish stood up from the floor and stared at him. “You know it was a really dick move to pull this shit. I mean yeah, summon Belial and all those assholes but seriously? Did you have to fuck up Halloween? I mean look at how much time Sara spent looking like a skank.”

“Yeah!” Sara piped up. “And did you have to turn Alan Dennings into a zombie? You knew I wanted to hit that!” Sara kicked James in the abdomen, a blade emerging from her hooker heel and plunging into his belly. Trish pulled the knife from her own stomach, revealing the truth behind her costume, and hacked off one of his massive paws. James, taken aback by the sudden attack, was absolutely bewildered, hell beast and all.

“Flask?” Trish hollered at Sara, as she was lifting her own from the back of her jeans pocket.

“Already ahead of you!” Sara responded, having pulled the silver vial from between her breasts. Unscrewing the lids, the girls dowsed down James in the fiery liquid, which caused him to screech unholy sounds and smoke copiously . He was reduced to a puddle of molten sludge before their eyes.

“God, I hate Halloween,” Trish sighed.

“No you don’t, Trishy! You love Halloween, you just hate dickwads like this guy, who try to summon the minions of hell. It’s like duh! We have a handle on you already!”

“Yeah, still can’t believe I didn’t kill him the first time though. I just seriously fucked up the iron works garage.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

“Thanks, Sara.”

“No prob! Now can we go somewhere that I might be able to get laid, please?!”

“Sure enough, happy Halloween.”

By Emily Smith-Miller



I never meant to drop the bum bomb in the old lady’s café, but that’s how this all started.  It was an old fashioned café on the back streets of Edinburgh, somewhere near the castle and the park, and there were only a few other patrons at the stained and smeary tables on that cold January day.  I’d had a curry the night before – my mum always told me to eat something spicy when unwell, ‘burn the bastard germs out’ – and I felt the familiar warmth curdling in my arse as I stood at the counter with its crumpled napkins and badly printed flyers for shows no-one had heard of.  Stupidly, I decided to brazen it out.  I didn’t realise – my nostrils blocked with lime green mucus – how truly bad it would be.

The few other customers started to retch, and I heard a woman gasp something about old drains backing up before a bloke by the door (first to make his escape) squealed ‘stink bomb!’ as he gulped back sick and lurched out the door.  The old woman at the counter, her hair black and grey and greasy with chipfat, turned white with fury and I could see the full circles of her irises, that’s how wide open her eyes went as she bollocked me.

“Look what you’ve done, why didn’t you go to the toilet for that, you smelly bastard?!”

Before I could even think up a suitably apologetic or noncommittal reply, “them that smelt it, dealt it” slipped out.  Along with another fart.  A wet one that made me wonder about the state of my pants and how soon I could slip away from the old crone and check them.

She spat in my face, a wet spittle that freckled my face with phlegm.  I turned and walked out, wiping my face on my sleeve as I did.  I needed a toilet and fast, for the shit was about to hit the fanny and I’d rather it rolled into the deep wet of the toilet than down my trouser legs to my ankles and the shoes that weren’t that comfy but were too expensive to ditch if I shat in them.  I made it to the dumpster bins behind the café, and binned the underwear now sticking to my crack as soon as I got home.

The next day I went out to find a haggis.  Not on some daft hunt like we tell the tourists, but to the chilled counter at the supermarket near my flat.  My family was coming over for Burns’ Night and it was my turn to sort the cooking this year.  Vegetable soup from a tin followed by entrails and oatmeal, served with mashed potato and turnip, then cheese and oatcakes.  Delicious, especially when washed down with Irn Bru or whisky.  They’re not that easy to find, especially at this time of year, even in Edinburgh, and I ended up abandoning the hunt in the supermarkets and trying some of the tourist traps in the grey hilly streets by the castle.

One had only the vegetarian kind left – I imagined my granny keeling over with the horror of it – and the next to stock anything haggis-y only had it in tins.  Again, heresy.  Finally I tried a wee stall at the temporary market in the park.  There by the silver earrings and fudge, and fancy hats made with llama wool, was a tiny stall attended by an old woman readying herself for home.  She had only a couple left, and I grabbed them, sniffing back the thick green mucus that had kept me feeling full over the last few days, every sniff sending clots of the stuff ricocheting off my tonsils to my stomach.  Sometimes it stuck halfway and I had to swallow hard to get it moving again or cough it into my mouth and chew before trying again.  It saved me a few quid I’d have used for food, anyway.

She looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place her and didn’t care enough to really try.  Just gave her the money and headed for home.  When I got lost and retraced my steps past her stall there was no sign it had ever been there, just an overflowing bin in its place, sandwiched between stalls selling jam and chutneys and another one with little glass dogs.  Oh well, perhaps the cold meds were making me fuzzy.  I shook my head and carried on.

That night my family came round and I cooked up a storm.  The soup was pronounced homemade by my Granny, and nobody guessed it tasted like that because I’d mixed several brands together in a big pot and added pepper.  We filled our plates and stuffed our faces, and a few hours later fell into the comfy chairs beside the fake fire for a rest.  It was just as well it was fake, haggis is a spicy beast, and potent at that.  Dad wafted an old copy of FHM about, but if anything that made it worse.

At first I thought everyone was just nodding off after a good feed, but when my dad’s mobile went off and nobody moved, I realised there was more to it than that.  Shifting my sulphurous arse out of the chair – I half expected to see scorch marks on the seat cushion behind me – I gave him a shake.  Then mum, my granny, and my sister Sarah.  Nothing.  The phone had stopped ringing by the time I found it in his cardigan pocket, next to his wallet and a pot of mentholated salve that I remembered him dabbing below his nostrils when I was a child, at around this time of year.  He’d come prepared.

In shock, I stumbled into the kitchen, running the cold tap as I hunted for a mug or something to put it in.  Bugger the soft furnishings, I’d seen plenty of people doused in the movies and it might just work.  I was distracted by something I saw on the stack of rubbish waiting to be stuffed into the crammed-full bin.  The white newsprint the haggis’ had been wrapped in was now covered in writing I could have sworn wasn’t there before.  Spreading it out on the counter, I read:

“I curse you, stink-arse, I curse you and those around you as you did me and my business with your odious fumes.  Thrice back at you, thrice and thrice again.  There’s nought can waken those that breathe your vile arse’s breath.”

Standing in the doorway of the kitchen, I gazed at my family.  Annoying but amazing, I couldn’t believe they’d never badger me again.  Water didn’t wake them, nor pinching, slapping, or shouting in their ears.  Even when I told them I was going to vote Tory.  I called for help, used my dad’s phone to ring for paramedics, and slumped in the doorway, my stomach still roiling and bubbling away.

I believed the writing, believed the curse.  One by one my family turned blue, and I waited for an ambulance which never arrived.  The phones were all dead now.  I got some tissue from the bathroom and blew my nose, hard, snot filling square after square of soft paper, thick yellow gunge reminding me of slug entrails on the pavement after a rainy night, or the time I walked in on a flatmate on the toilet, who it turned out had an STD.  Eventually my nose was clear.

I breathed deep.  The room still smelled of second-hand haggis.  Farted again to be sure, a phut noise escaping pants that would have saved lives had I taken Sarah’s advice and lined them with charcoal for a filter.

The room spun around me and I was grateful for one thing as I closed my eyes.  You always like your own brand.

By Gill Hoffs