I Spy

A hand was placed over his mouth and he was slobbering and breathing heavily into it. The hand was his own. Tears streamed down his face, and he tried desperately not to hyperventilate while pressed against the molding wall with water damaged floral paper, crinkling away into wrinkled sheets. The floorboards would have been nice wood about 50 years ago, now they sagged  under his weight, obviously infested with some type of parasite. But he couldn’t allow them to creak, oh god no, he couldn’t allow them to creak.

“I spy with my little eye . . . ” she sang in the gloom gray must and moth filled hallway. “Something about to die.”

**

The bar had been sparse when he arrived there earlier that night. He wanted to fuck someone. His dick was on a mission to get laid, and the nearly deserted public house caused him to swear and kick at one of the heavy wooden stools. The storm outside was keeping the good tail indoors and the roads were too treacherous to drive out to the next town to find a decent establishment. Then he saw her.

She was sitting in the bulky blue vinyl booth all alone, nursing a beer. Her honey blond hair fell sweetly over her fair flawless skin. Her barely exposed breasts might as well have had target signs painted on them, the way they peeked out of her baby pink top. He walked over and slid in across from her.

“You are way too gorgeous to be sitting alone in a bar like this on a night like this,” he smoothly interrupted her thoughts. She looked up from staring into the deep pool of amber ale and her soft gray eyes met his sharp brown ones.

“I really don’t feel like being hit on right now,” she said simply.

“Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to hit on you,” he lied. “I just stopped here to wait the storm out and I saw you sitting all alone and well I’m all alone, I thought we could be alone together.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” she whispered, a small smile starting to spread across her peach pouty mouth. She reached across the table and ruffled his shaggy black hair. “Are you really lonely, tiger?” she asked, in the same voice you’d use when talking to a puppy.

“Yeah, I am lonely and my name’s Brad.”

“Well, Brad, would you like to go back to my place for some tequila?”

“What about the storm?”

“Oh I live real close, we can take my truck, wouldn’t be more than 10 minutes in the rain,” she answered slyly.

“Do you live with anyone?”

“Nope,” she grinned. “I’m all by myself too.”

“Well then let’s get out of here and keep each other company in this nasty weather.” Brad’s cock started to twitch with an on coming erection at the thought of getting her out of that damp pink top and onto her warm bed, burying himself balls deep in what he imagined must be the tightest pussy this side of West Virginia.

“Ok, stud,” she laughed.

Brad realized, as they splashed through mud puddles in her black 4×4, that he hadn’t even asked for her name. Oh well, he thought and then astutely commented: “This is quite a truck for such a little girl”

“I like BIG things,” she responded suggestively.

They pulled up to a looming, decrepit farmhouse, with doors that looked as if they were barely hanging on by their rusted hinges. The roof was missing patches of shingles, and the pillars holding up the overhang of the porch seemed to be crumbling before their eyes.

“You live here?” Brad questioned ominously.

“Yep this is home,” she said proudly, as if they’d pulled up to a nice southern mansion.

She parked the truck and they ran to the front door in the pounding torrential downpour. Once inside, Brad really got a chance to grasp the reality of his situation. It smelled like mildew and decay with a potpourri overture to waft in the nostrils, leaving whoever inhaled it feeling instantly sick. There was another odor Brad couldn’t quite place, it reminded him of the time he’d accidentally left a raw rib eye wrapped in butcher paper  in his Jeep for two days. The meat had spoiled and the stench was so bad he could hardly drive the car to get it cleaned.

“The smell?” she asked, guessing from his facial contortions what he was thinking.

“It isn’t exactly pleasant . . ”

“Oh I know, I’m sorry, this place is a fixer upper. I think something might have died in the walls,” she explained. “But, I haven’t been able to find anything so!”

“Maybe you should try harder,” Brad murmured.

“Once we get a couple shots in us you won’t even be able to smell,” she crooned at him.

He almost believed her as he watched her ass shake while she sauntered off  to pour them some tequila in the kitchen.        She explicitly told him to stay put. She said the house was falling apart in some places and it would be dangerous to wander. Brad never listened to warnings like that, the fact that she’d given him one might have been the reason he slipped into the adjoining room in the first place.

To say the farmhouse was creepy would be like saying Fred Krueger had a slight skin condition. It was practically morbid with disuse and degradation. Brad noticed that he’d found himself in what was probably the living room. It was drearier there and a single lantern from the entrance hall barely illuminated the floor. He became suddenly aware that the smell was heavier in this room, it was positively putrid.

“Hey . . uh,” he again remembered that he didn’t know her name. “Hey, I think your dead animal problem is coming from this room,” he shouted at her in the kitchen, just as he glimpsed a large pile of blankets off to one corner.

“What?” she questioned back as he approached the pile and thought he saw it move a little.

He poked the blankets with the toe of his boot. There must be a mouse or something nesting in the folds, he thought. He reached out and pulled at the blanket, it had a wet sticky feel, then a giant rat scurried out of the heap. Brad started and his eyes followed the rat as it ran across the wood floor, then they turned back to the pile of blankets. Another pair of eyes stared up at him, instead of rumpled sheets. In fact, several pairs of eyes started up at him and he understood he wasn’t the only man in this house.

They were mutilated, and dead. That was about all Brad could tell in the darkness. Their faces were frozen in the fear the felt as the killing blow had been delivered. There were three of them, all shirtless, all appearing to have been thoroughly  stabbed. While he was still surveying the maniacal mess of human flesh, rotting in the corner of the girls decrepit house, something suddenly cut into his shoulder bone . He spun and tumbled backwards, reaching out to block the next flurry of downward motions with an enormous butcher’s blade. He grabbed her wrist and took her to the floor with him in his fall. She was on top, furiously waving her weapon and Brad threw her off of him and towards a brick fireplace. Her body connected with it, but, like a determined animal, she seemed unfazed and bounced back, crawling at him with her knife. Brad rolled over and kicked her in the face. He scrambled up and headed towards the entrance.

Reaching the door, he was hit with realization that ‘pouring them shots’ was code for locking him the fuck in. There was a huge chain padlock holding the front closed. After precious seconds of pulling uselessly on the door, which was sturdier than he had originally given it credit for, Brad dashed into the kitchen looking for a window. The windows were dressed with bars and the side door in the kitchen was actually made of steel. He heard her moving around the living room, taking her time now that she had him locked in and thinking like a scared rabbit. Circling back around he found a set of ancient precarious stairs and took them two at a time to a second level. He ducked into a random bedroom and pressed himself against the wall to catch his breath. He was not alone in the room.

Across the floor from him lay another corpse, its face turned towards him. The mouth was gaping open, or what would have been a mouth, the lips were cut away and the slits at the corners laid it open like grotesque jack-o-lantern. There was nothing where they eyes had been, there was no nose to speak of. It was a pumpkin head of a man, carved like an autumn squash. His torso had been split and he oozed rotting organs onto the floor. How many guys has this bitch killed, he thought in panic. Then he heard the stairs and he began to cry.

She was in the hallway singing, and he was in this bedroom trying to be silent and think through the terror haze. The windows up here had bars on them as well. She went silent for a moment, she hadn’t reached his room yet. Her steps were pacing, a big cat in cage waiting to be fed. I could try to take her by force, he thought, but his body stayed put as he cowered.

“I spy with my little eye, something about to die,” she screamed in the hallway.

He shivered in his corner against the wall, then he heard it, in the closet across the room. The door creaking open and a whisper emerging from its depths.

“I spy with my little eye something about to die,” it groaned and pushed the door open further.

She emerged in a white nightgown with black tangled hair en mass around her face, a face that was covered by a porcelain mask. She was army crawling towards him with a knife in her hand, whispering the same phrase over and over. Brad’s fear of the creature on the ground surpassed that of the murderous banshee in the hallway and he jumped to his feet and bolted out the door of the room and right into a long butcher’s knife to the belly.

“I spy with my little eye, something that’s about to die,” she smiled at him. “All this for pussy?”

She dug the blade in deeper, like the dick he wanted to shove in her wet hole. She pulled up, cutting the middle of him open, letting the maroon life gush out while he died at the end of her phallic symbol. She pushed him back, peeling him off the knife with a sickening suction, and walked into the room to find her sister still sitting on the ground, sniffing around the other dead boy. The blond girl laughed and looked back at the body of her victim.

“I spy with my little eye, another predictable guy.”

By Emily Smith-Miller

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Finger Fun

He sliced her fingers off before he shaved her head. She screamed louder with each finger being severed, the tiny room they were in like a tomb but not. Her screams were so loud that when he got to her middle finger, the longest one, he thought he would go deaf from her piercing shrieks of pain, the dull knife he purposely used to cut through bone in a more difficult manner, thus causing the pain to be more than merely excruciating.

No, he didn’t know her. She was a stranger he saw at the subway station near Cranford and 10th. She looked nice, he thought, so he brought her home and got her into this tiny room – he couldn’t remember how exactly. Something he must have said, the way he said it? Anyway, here she was, here was her blood, all over the little table. Here were her pseudo-deafening screams in his ears as he finished with the middle appendage and continued on to the ringless ring finger. The thumb had been surprisingly easy. He would look that up later.

When she yelped at the next cut he smacked her mouth but that didn’t shut her up. She just screamed louder, pulling the other hand against the wire that restricted it to the chair, her bare, kicking feet useless against him.
The pinky, of course, was a cinch. Snip, it went. She had slender pinkies. He liked them.

He liked her, too.

Her left hand waited, tied behind her. He got up and smacked her mouth again, then tied her bleeding right hand with another wire, untied the left and slammed on the table, holding it until he sat again.

She stopped screaming but he knew it would start up again soon as he held the dull, bloody knife in front of her face and grinned. He was having fun at this. He always had fun with the fingers.

She spewed some of her spit in his face as he pinned her left hand down, the fingers bloodless for now. He noticed how the wire had cut her wrist already. So what. It was the fingers he wanted. Five down, five to go. Nothing to be left but two bloody stumps she could punch him with. He liked that too. All her blood on him.

She would finally be rendered useless when the blood ran out.

Until then he had work to do.

Blood can always wait.

By Jeff Callico

Girl with the Violet Eyes

(Medium Close-up)

 The straight razor had three nicks in its blade. Maxine was upset by this, because it was her favorite razor and it hadn’t found a true purpose. True, she bought the razor 10 years ago, but she kept it stored in the top bureau drawer in her bedroom until it was needed. The only use it received was when she would gently remove it from its silk bag and admire the virgin steel and tortoise shell handle. Sometimes she would taste it very gently with her tongue, and then delicately polish away the saliva residue with the chamois she also kept in the same bureau drawer. Other times she would gently scrape it across her tongue to remove the thin layer of white coating that we all possess. The scraping sound as it dragged across her tongue could be heard only in her ears and nowhere else. It caused great pleasure inside her.

 “Soon. Very soon. Is she really going out with him?”

 Maxine looked in the mirror as she posed with the razor. She used it to trim some of the mahogany hair that fell across her brow. The blade reflected her pale pale skin in a manner that she considered quite stylish. She held it at a certain angle so she could study her eyes – the bluish purple color sometimes troubled her. Behind her she could see the old Roman Catholic Church across the street through her open window. The church hadn’t seen a congregation in years. A tree branch was growing out of the bell tower. The smell of stale eucharists made her gag. She gently folded the blade while still obsessing about the nicks. Maybe there was a way to fix it. Licking her lips, she placed the blade back in the bag, put the bag in the bureau drawer and gently closed the drawer.

 Passing by the mirror again she stopped and looked at her hair once more. Her overgrown shag was looking messy even with the trim she had just given her bangs. She was getting tired of the white skunk streak towards the front of her hairdo that nature had given her. Taking the black rattail comb she always carried in her back pants pocket she attempted to rearrange her hairstyle, but was dissatisfied with the results. Sooner or later she would have to leave the room and get a cut and dye-job. She put the comb in her back pocket and felt nauseous thinking of facing the hair stylist. There was always scissors and Clairol.

It was bedtime. She jumped on her twin bed, lay on her back and crossed her arms. Maxine never used sheets or blankets – she didn’t like the way they felt on her narcotized skin. “Perhaps to be colorblind… I need to look at the pictures.” She walked across the room and took a seat in front of the small table which held her laptop. As the machine started up she picked at the skin on her left wrist and followed the trail of tiny punctures up her arm. She usually covered the marks with makeup, but today she had forgotten. As usual, the website images of  plastic surgery procedures thrilled her, but after a few minutes, she grew bored and went back to bed leaving the laptop still powered on.

 As she lay there she thought and as she thought she undulated to rhythms only her and the church could taste.

Vision Voice Sound.

Time was zero. Sleep.

She awoke at 2 am.

Itch. Itch.

(Overhead shot).

La La La. Distant music through reverb.

She arose and unsteadily walked to the bureau, opened the first drawer, and took out the red box that was always right next to her razor. The room was warm but she was cold. Seated at the table, Maxine opened the box and removed the hypo. It was a glass syringe – very difficult to get nowadays. She had it because her parents worked in a hospital many years ago and they would steal supplies now and again. The last time she visited them she had palmed it and never came back.   Ten years ago. Gone.

Maxine got up, went to the sink, opened the medicine cabinet directly above and removed a spoon and a bottle of powder. After making the solution she went back to the table, filled up the syringe, and tied her left arm off with a ratty leather lace she had used for years. The obligations of ritual made her secure. When the vein was properly distended, she rammed the needle in and pulled the plunger back. The red velvet blossomed into the water and she pushed the plunger in pulled the plunger back out for a total of seven times had been reached. Always seven times. A black bang woosh rushed to her forehead when she released the tie-off. Another day without guilt.

When the first wave had subsided and all materials were put away she walked to the window and stared at the church across the street. Next door to the church was a rectory that was condemned by New York City many years ago. Looking through the rectory’s second floor window was a nude woman inserting two fingers into her vagina and then bringing them up to her mouth for a quick taste. After awhile the woman placed something in her mouth that looked fleshy to Maxine, but it might have been the solution in her veins distorting her vision. A timeless vision that was latching onto them was confusing and tight like the leather windows inside her head.

“I have to investigate.” Maxine threw cold water on her face, didn’t bother to dry it and rushed out the door. “It’s the middle of the night, shouldn’t be many people around. Why am I so horny? Fuck me.” She was in the hall but had to run back inside the apartment to get the razor since she always traveled with it. She also fixed her hair up a bit with the rattail. “Never know who you will meet.”

(Tracking shot)

When outside, she crossed the street to the rectory and stood right beneath the window: the woman was still there. Maxine could see that she was quite plain looking, yet arousing in a way that couldn’t be defined. She was quite evidently an albino, her yellow eyes burned holes in the night and were brighter than the sodium glare from the streetlight cut into the sky.

The owl that was perched on the top of the church cross collapsed and fell several stories down, down ending with a splat on the pavement. The blood and brains went squiggly between the cracks in the sidewalk and bunched up among the aggregate. A flat scene turned sideways.

The woman looked down at her, and then pointed to the church next door, as if to say that Maxine should go inside. Taking the cue, Maxine walked up the crumbling stone steps. Surprised that the door was open, she walked inside. The church was mostly dark except for one bare light bulb that was hanging on a frayed cord from the ceiling  in the vestibule. Looking beyond the entrance she could see that the main room was pitch black, but to her right she could hear scratching noises. She walked toward the noises and as she walked, she saw a faint stream of light appear from underneath an oak door. A light had been switched on and the door swung open. The woman was there full length, naked, negating all color and holding a chalice. She turned the chalice upside down to indicate it was empty, then sadly shook her head. “No more. No More.”

Maxine removed the razor from her back pocket and slowly sliced her left wrist, but not deeply. When she was finished she took a moment to lick the blade clean. She walked over to the woman and bled into the chalice. The woman smiled and drank deeply from the cup. Maxine smiled back and started to gently comb the woman’s hair with her beloved rattail. Maxine was still bleeding, so the woman ripped off a piece of Maxine’s t-shirt and gently made a tourniquet above the cut on the wrist; Maxine then went back to re-arranging the hairdo. “I should have gone to beauty school.”

As the albino woman drank they both realized it was time for a change. Maxine took the razor, placed it under her own chin and started to cut the skin. It stung at first – electric frizz sting- then the salty pain stopped. She slowly dragged the blade around her face, pausing only once, until it had come full circle stopping under her chin again. She motioned to the woman to help. The albino understood, took the razor and gently flayed the skin, severing purple muscle and connective tissue. She tenderly lifted off Maxine’s face and placed it over her own. Finally sated, the woman found words of gratitude.

“I love you.” She said. “Your eyes are a lovely violet – just like Liz Taylor. They make me so wet.”

Maxine laughed because she was touched and because her face looked stunning on her new friend and she also loved the contrast of her olive skin in comparison to the rest of  her companion’s skin.

It was now 4 am. The albino motioned for her to come further into the room. The room was nicely furnished with an old couch, a couple of chairs, and a small table. On the table was a purple lava lamp. Bubbles slowly floated in thick goo. A film was being projected without sound on one wall. Maxine couldn’t make out the film because blood was running into her eyes. She sat down on the couch and cried, the tears burning her newly exposed skin. The woman sat down next to her and gently pushed her head down into her lap and petted Maxine’s forehead as they both wept.

“I need another shot.”

“No more shots. Sleep while I sing. You’re my baby-baby.”

(Slowly pull back. Monotone albino songs as Maxine fades). 

They both shuddered about the erotic theory of relativity.

La La La.

By Peter Marra

www.angelferox.com

By Demons Be Driven

“Okay, I’m ready for bass.” The sound guy’s voice rang out through the stage right monitor.

Jason tentatively rode the B-string of his B.C. Rich Vortex 5-string, occasional hammering  directly on a fret and producing a sour note. He felt Daniel’s subtle glare as he stumbled through the check. It was obvious Jason wasn’t the best bass player, and he was quite aware of the fact, thus it was only natural that he hated sound checking. Misanthropy was his way of connecting with the kind of music and themes that piqued his interest, not his way of gaining anyone’s attention.

“Alright… Center guitar?”

Daniel broke into the intro of Slayer’s “Raining Blood”, much to the approval of the 30 or so metal-heads who had assembled around the small stage of The Liar’s Club. The crowd was way more modest than what Daniel had hoped for. As he wrapped up his check, the thought of it being the final turnout almost made his blood boil.

With a less subtle glare than before, Daniel turned to Jason. “I thought you got rid of all those fliers? Where the hell is everybody?”

“I did get rid of them.” Jason shrugged. “At least there’s some people here.”

“Right…” Daniel sneered and spat on the stage floor. He checked his mic once more then sat his guitar aside.

After their lead guitarist Derek checked his ESP 7-string, the sound guy’s voice rang out once more. “Okay, that’s good… Whenever you’re ready.”

It was time.

The lights dimmed in front of the stage and a curious half-moaning, half-screeching sound interposed with a tribal rhythm began to creep out of the front-of-house speakers. Their intro track was just long enough for them to all assemble on stage and don their instruments, where Daniel then rang out a low B-chord from his old, beat-up Jackson King V.

“We are Misanthropy from Tampa, Florida!” Daniel growled in the lowest, most sinister tone he could summon. “This first song is called ‘Laid To Waste’”.

Their opener was fast-paced and got to the point immediately. While Misanthropy did their best to thrash around and whip the small crowd into a frenzy, their efforts went for the most part unrewarded. A few of their fellow school mates halfheartedly bumped into each other in an effort to share in their friends’ enthusiasm, though most simply stood back from the stage and periodically bobbed their heads. As the band’s thirty-minute set wore on, their enthusiasm waned and the crowd, in turn, sat like statues with folded arms.

After their sixth song, the sound guy’s voice came through the monitor wedges. “You got one more song.”

Daniel wiped the sweat-soaked hair from his face and grabbed the mic stand. “Alright this is our last song. This one is called ‘By Demons Be Driven’… Thank you Liar’s Club!”

After a four-bar guitar intro, the band unleashed a barrage of blast-beat, drop-tune fueled mayhem. Daniel whipped his long hair around in a circle, headbanging viciously, while Jason and Derek swayed about and stared intently at their fingers moving like frantic spider legs up and down the frets. As the opening transitioned to the verse, Daniel strode forward and hunched in front of the mic.

“Stoke the flames of demonation… The vilest beast in all creation… Wrought in sin and born of fire… Do the deeds which I desire…” He roared in a guttural onslaught, as the song dropped into a stomping, half-time pre-chorus.

The words of his mother suddenly echoed in Daniel’s head. Promise him you won’t speak any of this nonsense, he thought.

The burden weighed on him more than he expected it to; it disrupted his focus and caused him to hit a cringe-worthy note that was nowhere near the key of the song. Daniel spat in disgust as he recovered from the gaffe. He belted out the chorus, forsaking any second thoughts.

“You are the Crown Prince of Inequity… Master of Wickedness I evoke thee… Vos dico vestri nomen vocare… Dicam nomini tuo Beliiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaal!!!!! ”

As Derek launched into the guitar solo, Daniel retreated to his cabinet where he had a small fan plugged in. The lights on stage were practically baking the young foursome, and it was beginning to take its toll. He trudged through the instrumental section, taking the much needed opportunity away from the mic to cool off. When the second verse approached, Daniel turned around to head back to the mic. He wouldn’t make it in time, however; he stood, instead, frozen in a mixed state of shock and awe.

The crowd had erupted into a hurricane of utter chaos. Bodies flew across the floor with no regard for life and limb, slamming into whatever they could and stomping on whatever they knocked down. One unfortunate boy jumped onto another’s back in an attempt to crowd-surf, but when a human wrecking-ball crashed into his would-be launcher, the boy plummeted ear-first onto the concrete. Daniel looked on while the boy blanched in shock at the sight of blood dripping from the side of his head.

Daniel stood there nearly motionless – fumbling through his parts without even screaming the second verse. The band broke into one last half-time riff, turning the pit into a violent sea of fists and elbows, before ringing out the final note. Daniel had planned a parting line in his head but was too lost in the anarchy in front of him. A serious brawl had broken out, and the door man was rushing over to break it up.

The band tore their gear down without incident, looking disheveled and out of sorts. After the gear was unloaded and set to the side, Daniel approached the bar to get some water. It didn’t take long for Jason to find him there, nearly shaking from the experience.

“Dude, we killed!” Jason said.

“That was incredible.” The words flew out of Daniel, soft and hurried. “It was like, man, they just flipped shit all at once. They felt… something; they felt -”

“… your energy,” a voice said to their right.

The man at the end of the bar was older and slightly out of place amidst the heavy metal patrons. He got up from his stool and approached the two boys. “They felt your energy, and it moved them. Things got kinda…” the corner of his mouth twitched, “… crazy, but that’s how kids are nowadays, right?”

Jason glanced at his vocalist, unsure of what to say. “Yeah, I guess.”

“Forgive me,” the man said, pulling a business card from his pocket. “My name’s Bill Isle. I’m with Six-Eight Management. I’m sorry Eirik couldn’t make it out.”

The look Daniel shot Jason said one thing and one thing only to him: Oh my God. This is Rites of Evocation’s manager.

“Oh it’s okay, we understand.” Daniel took the card and stared at it in mild disbelief before pocketing it. He kept his hand in the pocket, fingering the sharp edge of the card.

“I’ll be frank with you – you’re band is a little… green, shall we say. But you have potential, and you can clearly stir a crowd.” Mr. Isle flashed a demure grin.

Jason tentatively nodded, letting his silence do the speaking. He felt a strong tugging inside that told him to speak his mind but kept it subdued. Daniel, however, was less inclined.

“Yeah, I mean, we’re kinda new on the scene right now. We play a lot of shows though and people always go nuts like that.” Daniel tossed his black hair back. “It’s all about aggression, dominance; if someone gets hurt, that’s their problem. You gotta kill or be killed.”

Jason eyed his vocalist while Mr. Isle chuckled, noting Daniel’s unusually aggressive behavior. He felt a sickly tingle wash over his body. “I’m going to load my bass rig,” he said.

“Hold on,” Mr. Isle said, reaching out for him. His touch was warm and clammy. “I’d like to discuss the future of Misanthropy; to discuss your goals and whether I can be of service.”

“Absolutely,” Daniel replied. “We’ll go get the other guys and -”

“Hey,” Jason interrupted. “Excuse us for a moment.” He pulled Daniel aside. “I don’t know about this guy. I think we should research his agency before we talk to him.”

“How can talking hurt? Besides he knows Eirik – he’s obviously legit. You go be a pussy and do your research, I’m gonna be getting us signed.”

Jason felt that sickly tingle hasten into a wave of nausea. The urge to get out, and quick, was overwhelming. Loading the bass rig would have to wait. His house wasn’t far, and if he was getting ill anywhere, it would be there.

He flew home where he then retched without mercy. There hadn’t been much food in his gut; the soupy bile that lined his stomach was foul and acidic coming up. Jason heaved till there was nothing left, tore off his shirt, and staggered down the hall to his room, wondering what could have made his innards erupt that unexpectedly. His only wish was to dive head-first into bed, but there were more pressing matters.

Jason booted his laptop and fired up Google. He typed in “68 Management” and hit enter. Nothing of interest appeared. Jason cleared the text box, typed “Bill Isle”, and hit enter. No dice.

“This guy’s nobody.” He spoke aloud to himself.

Something came over Jason and prodded him to keep digging. Maybe it was the tingling feeling that had surfaced before and was now slowly creeping up his extremities. He highlighted the name and stared at it intently. His head was throbbing from the dry-heaves, but somehow he figured that combining the two terms would maybe yield a result. Jason searched once more, typing in “Bill Isle 68”. He hit the enter key.

The first line under the text box – right above the results – seemed to snatch the breath right out of his lungs.

Did you mean: Belial 68th?

Jason didn’t need to read any of the articles. He knew that Belial, one of four crown princes of Hell, was the 68th demon of the Lesser Key of Soloman and a wicked deceiver of men. Jason also knew the story of…

Oh God, no… I don’t want to die.

… the mage of Goetia that was tempted by Belial…

“Nobody, you say?” Daniel said from the shadows of the hallway. “You are wrong, my friend. Very wrong.” He slid under the doorway, cradling a long kitchen knife against his inner arm.

…The mage was told he could be risen to the pinnacle of wizardry in exchange for both his allegiance to Belial and the blood of… of…

… of a sacrifice.

Daniel lunged forward, flashing the knife in a sweeping, reverse-grip arc. He was a mere three inches away from slicing Jason’s throat open and would have done just that if not for catching the side of a practice amp. His sheer momentum sent the two of them to the floor in a tangled mess, with Daniel’s forehead butting Jason’s left eye as they hit the ground. Jason’s vision suffered an explosion of tiny lights, buzzing and dancing around like fire-flies.

Almost immediately after, he felt the cool, sharp steel of Daniel’s blade slice through the flesh of his stomach. The knife slowly twisted, cutting upward into Jason’s entrails and causing his body to spasm wildly. The sting of the initial puncture was nothing in comparison to the sensation of razor-sharp steel exploring his intestines. He would’ve wailed and pleaded in agony had he any manner of voice to do so.

“Accipe sacrificium Princeps Inferni. Accipe sacrificium consummat et voluntatem meam.” The words poured from Daniel’s mouth with a seductive rhythm. They strangely eased Jason’s struggle, and  almost allowed him to fade away completely. Almost, until he saw the familiar card that had slipped out of Daniel’s pocket.

A passage from his very first occult text leaped into his mind: The influence of the evoked can be banished when the medium of that influence is breached by a soul who is immune to the sway of the evoked.

Daniel withdrew the knife, and blood oozed freely from Jason’s carved-up belly. The blade painted a dark red sweep across his body; his tormentor stopping the blade tip as it reached Jason’s heaving chest. Jason plucked the business card from the floor next to him. He ripped it in half as Daniel poised to plunge the knife downward.

All at once, the dark lifelessness in Daniel’s eyes began to brighten. His hand trembled and eventually dropped the knife, as consciousness crashed down upon him. Jason’s bleeding, and soon-to-be lifeless body laid before him.

“Ohhhh, oh God… oh God…”

“God? … God isn’t here, boy.” Belial’s voice whispered behind him.

Daniel felt the demon’s hot breath on his neck. He dared not turned around. He didn’t have to; his eye caught the creature’s reflection in Jason’s dresser mirror. The once groomed visage of Bill Isle now sat perched behind him –  a vile, grizzly abomination with bulging bug-eyes and scaly flesh.

Please let me die here – while I have the strength… Daniel prayed to himself.

Belial smirked at him in the mirror.

“It’s not your time,” the demon whispered. He drew Daniel in close with a coarsely scaled hand. “There are more lessons in misanthropy for you yet.”

By Nicholas Cooke

Bleeder

They slid the tray under the door with nothing upon it but lizards and gizzards — raw. They never came in. They were afraid to look at you. It was a comfortable distance to be separated — from them — from the hazy remembrance of what you once were. 

Pressed against the dark and the cold, you often pretended you were sitting in a theater, miles away from yourself. The plot of this danse macabre served no purpose other than to ridicule the random cruelty and suffering you had once called a life.  

There’s nothing left for you now. Nothing left but decades of emptiness.

You can hear the wind, the morning chill still clinging to its breath as it beckons you to the pyre, on this, an uneasy dawn. You ate the salamanders, fiery red, and you can feel them now crawling through your veins as you watch the listless shadows on the avenue swell to an orchestral mass. The moon is still full and bright and hateful in the sky as you look out towards your destiny through iron bars and sweating stone. 

They are all there — the faces of the damned — staring back at you through the dimly lit eyes of the thousand lives you had long left behind. You wonder how many will weep for you in the hours you’ve left them. Not many, you imagine. You know them all too well. Their names are writ in blood on your heart and on your soul. They think they’ll be rid of you when you’re nothing but dust and ash. They think death can stop you, but it won’t. You’ll come for them eventually, all of them, before the breaking dawn.  Their little trinkets won’t save them. They know the truth, as close to the truth as they could ever get, clutching their superstitions tightly to their chests. You remember the last. The sheets, wrinkled, when she left her mark upon them, when she gasped into the cotton fibers for last time before her eyes went dead from the shame. The loss was always painful for you. You wanted her, for a time, and she wanted you, or rather, she wanted an idea she had of you. She said she wanted it. Said she wasn’t afraid. Said you were her dark angel and that she wanted to be devoured by the night. She was a child, her frailty concealed behind pouty red lips and fingernails painted black, but you weren’t bitter, even if her eagerness was disappointing. You told her it would end soon, that the shine would fade. Then you watched as the rain fell upon the moonlit blue-black of her skin, watched her feeble pride betray her, again, and then harder, and then again. She begged you to spare her body, but you wouldn’t. She was too needy. She’d never survive eternity. None of them could. Now the city of Athens burns in your dreams, a waking dream made heavy by the rusted iron clasped to your bruised ankles and wrists. 

You only ever bled them a little. What crime was there in that?

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

http://apocryphaandabstractions.wordpress.com
http://twistedknickerspublications.wordpress.com

Pussy- WINNER OF THE CRIMSON SKULL CONTEST

I told them I used a pig’s head but it wasn’t; it was Claudia’s.  Every year it was the same, ‘why don’t you do something for Hallowe’en, Todd?’, ‘go out, have some fucking fun for once’, ‘don’t be a fucking pussy’.  So I did.

She sat to the left of me in class, pulling grey over-chewed gum out in a stretch between tombstone teeth and nicotined nails, wrapping it round her fingertip like a miniature mummy, then sucking it off as she eyed our teacher lasciviously and hinted at her skills in giving head.

I couldn’t stand her.  She stank of sweat and cigarette butts, sometimes she just stank of butt, and I hated her so much I used to pray for someone to go crazy here so she would die.  I don’t know why it never occurred to me till now to just do it my goddamn self.

Better late than never, I guess.

Her neck was as grey as her gum with dirt and grit, but her face was a shocking streaky orange.  She was going for the Hollywood Harlot look now.  It didn’t suit her.  But then, neither did the last one she’d tried.

She’d wanted to be a vampire for a while, but the paleness showed up her spots like the red dots in police show murder maps.  The nearest she’d got to drinking the blood of the pure was licking her fingers after changing tampons, well, I was guessing there, but she looked the type.

Before home time, I stole into an empty science lab and stuffed what I needed into my bag.  Then I asked her if she fancied coming to mine for a bite to eat before the Super Spooky Disco.  Her eyes widened and I could see she hadn’t bothered wiping the sleep bogies from the corners this morning.  No matter, I’d get them later.

Yes, she would come, but not quietly.  Unfortunately she took it as a date and wittered on about her costume and shit like that as we walked along the tree lined avenue to my house, past the abandoned cars and soggy three piece suites that showed I had neighbours once upon a time.  Before mum up and left me.

I’d put home-made jack o’ lanterns up on their steps already, and the empty eyes crawling with ants seemed to watch us as we kicked our way through piles of wet brown leaves and storm blown twigs to the house at the end of the street.  It was a dead end, nothing but waste ground behind us, an old cemetery bordering the right, and a canal on the left.  I watched for bodies, bags and suspicious suitcases from my window but the one time they found a child in there I’d been at school.  Perhaps that was just as well…

She sat at the table in the kitchen, the warmest room in the house, and I got her a drink of lemonade from the fridge before checking the oven.  I’d left it on low as I went out for school, and the great rounded stones were glowing red and white.  Almost ready.

Claudia’s stomach rumbled and I gave her an apple, and a knife.  She nearly bit deep till I steadied her sweaty hand and told her what to do.  More eager for happy nonsense than food, she curved the knife round carefully, peeling its skin off in one long slender strip, then tossed it over her shoulder.  I couldn’t remember the rhyme, so she whispered ‘Abracadabra’ instead.  As if it mattered.

She squealed like an abattoir pig when she saw the peel had fallen into the approximate shape of a ‘T’, and grew bashful and coy.  Sickeningly so, twisting her gum and sucking her finger while she looked up at me with eyes cunning with desire.  I reckoned she must do the finger-suck thing a lot, given the feathering of peeling skin around the brown bitten nail.

Well, it gave me a place to start.  I fended off her attentions with a wink and a hint of ‘later…’, and poured her another drink.  Soon the lemonade took effect, and I laid her out on the floor.  Lighting some incense I’d found at Number 32 the other week, just to cover the smell, I undressed her, leaving her clothes on the floor to soak up what inevitably came next.  The skidmarks disgusted me but weren’t a surprise.  The vajazzle was an interesting twist.  I pitied the piercer.  She wasn’t the most hygienic of girls, reminding me of those canapés with cottage cheese mum had served up at a party once.

It took a while, but I’d gotten good with practise, and the wider the strip, the quicker it went.  Apples were for babies, for the real deal on info from the spirit world, skin was the way to go.  Looping it loosely off my arm like when I used to tidy the garden hose into the shed, her skin surprisingly heavy for a petite girl, I got to the nape of her neck and stopped.  Cut the strip loose.  This was my favourite part.  Hanging the slightly steaming strip off the back of a kitchen chair, I chose a knife, the one with a broad flat blade mum used to use for marrows, and made a start on her trachea.  I think that’s when she died; it’s when she shat soft orange and sweetcorn on the floor anyway.  Thank God for the incense, or I’d never have coped with the smell.

Following her natural parting, as mum’s hairdresser friends used to call it, with the tip of a paring knife, I was soon able to knot her greasy hair in my fist and peel the rest, wiping the drying crusts from the corners of her eyes with my sleeve before I did.  She needed my knee on her chest, which was sticky-ing up nicely, just to give me some leverage.  When I was done I gutted her like I did Mr Davidson’s cat, then grabbed the barbecue tongs from the drawer and lifted the hot stones out the oven.  They fitted just nicely, and the kitchen soon smelled like some kind of spicy smoky barbecue.  I was tempted to just stick an arm or something in the oven for later, but there wasn’t time to debone it properly, not with everything else I had to do.

Only an hour or so to go.  I half expected a knock at the door any minute.

No point cleaning up, it was Hallowe’en; blood and guts are damn near mandatory on a night like this.  I’d just call it my ‘costume’.  Time to sort the rest of the entertainment, and fiddle with needle and thread.

 

Claudia greeted my callers at the door.

“Man, is that thing real?”

“Shit, Todd, did you make that?”

Chris and Oki seemed quite grossed out by the bloodied limbs arranged in an arrow, pointing their way to my house from the pavement outside where Claudia dangled by her hair from a bracket that used to support my mum’s hanging baskets of pink petunias and pansies.  Claudia’s orange face hadn’t kept its artificial colour as well as I’d hoped it would, but with the vertical seams, and her eyelids, mouth, neck and nostrils sewn up she looked quite suitable for the pumpkin theme.  I really should have shaved her scalp before I shrunk her head; maybe I’d singe it off later.  Cook the whole sac of organs in the oven like a human haggis or tasty turducken.  I had some gravy granules and dried potatoes in the cupboard, yeah, I’d do that to celebrate a Happy Hallowe’en after my big moment later.

They looked about with twitching eyes, and I wondered if it was me or the house making them so nervous.  Shrugging their shoulders at each other, they came in.

“Fancy some ‘fuck me’ soup?” I said, walking them through to the lounge.

“What’s that?”

I winked, “You’ll soon find out…”

Using oven pads to protect my hands I manhandled the pot through to the coffee table beside the TV.  Lifted off the lid, and voila-

“Fuck me!”

“What the fuck is that?!”

I smiled, my cheeks tight with drying blood.  All part of the fun.  Claudia seemed to stare at me from the murky water, where she bobbed with the chopped carrots and onions, eyes bare of lids and lashes, even the irises boiled white.  Her teeth still and free of gum, the lips that blew a hundred blokes blowing in the breeze outside, she was unrecognisable as the girl they used to know.

“Pig head I got from the butchers’.”

Chris paled a little.  Oki just stared at the reddy brown thing bobbing in the broth.

“No, no thanks, we’ve just had our dinner, haven’t we Oki?”

Aye, so they had.

“Right, well, what’s next?”

What indeed.

 

At the cemetery we agreed to play hide and seek.  Oki and I ran off and hid as Chris counted by the gate, and I watched from the cracked open crypt of Mrs Millicent Hayweather, 1782-1853, as Oki dithered then crouched behind one of the larger gravestones sprouting from the overlong grass, and Chris got to twenty then wandered about.  They were best friends, always had been, and I couldn’t have invited one without the other.  Not if I wanted him to come.  I broke off one of Mrs Hayweather’s beef jerky hands, the nails long and satisfyingly scratchy, tendrils of tendon reminding me of the desiccated jellyfish I’d seen in an Asian supermarket, and stuck it in my back pocket then went after my companions, one at a time.

Sneaking through the abandoned graveyard, bushes and dripping wet trees helping me on my quest, I spied Chris by the ivy-clad mausoleum of the Marquedt family, one of the many who fell victim to TB in this area.  The four year old’s hair was still quite soft, but his mother had crumbled to pieces so the little tableau I’d worked on inside had eventually come to naught.  Still, it had been nice seeing just what the old bones could do.  And the local dogs deserved a treat.  Snail shells popped under my feet with a pleasing crunch, and seeing a thick pink worm slithering across the mossy path I picked it up for a quick snack, swallowing it whole so it would wiggle deliciously all the way down.

Ah, he’d spotted Claudia’s foot.  Maybe it was the flies that confused him, or maybe the crows pecking shreds from her toes gave him a fright.  Perhaps it was the toenails flipped up from the oozing nail-beds like tiny car hoods waiting for repair.  I didn’t know, and by the time he’d quit struggling and I’d managed to punch the paring knife into his throat, I’d stopped caring.  His leg juddered for a bit as he pissed himself and farted, but I liked his jeans and made a mental note to remove them and give them a wash before he went in the freezer.  It’s a bastard getting clothes off them once they’re in there.

Oki next, saving the best till last.  He was still behind the gravestone, and due a fright, so I snuck up behind him, slowly, slowly, till I could hear his breathing and smell his cheap deodorant.  Till I, or rather, Mrs Hayweather, could run a finger down the back of his neck.

Wow, he could scream!  Nothing wrong with that on Hallowe’en.  When he turned to face me, eyes wide with fright, I plunged the knife in the left one, hard, fast, wet.  Then palmed his nose so hard I could feel the bony bridge of his nose snap back into his brain.  He dropped hard, but I managed to save the face.

Working fast, I stripped him of first his clothes – mercifully he’d barely wet his pants – then his beautiful brown skin, slitting him up the back for access.  It was nearly dark, so I didn’t bother with the feet, legs or genitals, but the hands were necessary for the full effect so I took care to dig deeper under the nail-beds, making sure to keep the gloves of fingers intact.  Then I took my clothes off.

Naked myself but for the sticky red of Claudia and Chris, and a little Oki too, I struggled into my classmate’s skin.  Damn, it was itchy!  The wetness helped it stick, and I made sure to smooth out the air bubbles, with the inevitable farty noises even funnier in the graveyard.  I didn’t want to show up looking warty, for fuck’s sake.  Not after all this.  I clambered carefully into his clothes, not bothering with the undershorts or socks.  The birds and flies joined me as I finished up, flicking the collar of his shirt up at the back, going 80s for the night.  It helped hide the seeping join of flesh.

Walking in the rain back along the street, I saw nobody.  And nobody, as ever, saw me.

 

The teacher at the door waved me inside, Oki was a good student, not one of the troublemakers she’d be frisking for booze before letting in.  The dim lights and her cataracts worked in my favour.  This was going to work, dammit!

And there she was, by the snack table.  Joanna DeBon, the most beautiful girl in our year, if not the school.  I only had eyes for her, and she only had eyes for me, or rather, Oki.  Blonde like the palest of honeys, eyes green as a lime slice.  I was sure her bush looked like spun sugar, and tasted just as nice.  Shy smile I rarely saw, except when I caught her looking at him.  I could be good, with her.

The gym hall was dark, except for the swirling flash of disco lights and the green glow of the emergency exit signs by the doors.  I tried to mimic Oki’s confident gait, but forgot all about it when she turned to face me.  Silently, I picked up a bowl of crisps, offering her first pick.

When she went to say something I held a finger to her lips, then moved in for the kiss.  His lips, my tongue.  A moment of warmth-

Then it all went black, and I couldn’t see.

Someone screamed, and I heard others laughing, enjoying Hallowe’en and the thrill of a good fright had by all.  But it was Joanna, it was a real scream, and rough hands were thrusting me somewhere, out through a door.

“What’s going on?” I asked, and I could feel we were outside, the air cool in my nose, but since I hadn’t heard a teacher I could only think we’d gone out an emergency exit to the sports field behind the school.  That wasn’t good.

“Teach you a lesson, boy.”

Uh oh.

“She’s one of ours, you thieving prick.”

Oh shit.

My hands, his hands, were thrust behind my back and something like a cable tie pinched them together, tight.

“I’m not-“ but the words stuck in my throat as they looped a rough necklace of rope round my neck, pulling that tight too.

And it only got tighter as they hoisted me till my feet lost touch with the ground, and all I could hear was Joanna weeping in the background and my classmates jeering, and I thought of the empty heads waiting on front steps all along my empty street, waiting for me to return, and the soup still bubbling away on the stove.  The rooms waiting to be ransacked, the bodies in the freezers, and the fresh meat in the cemetery, now for the wildlife alone.  The colossal fuck-up that was me.

My chest was too tight, my tongue pushing past my lips, and I could see the moon rising white in the sky.  I twisted and writhed, and my pockets emptied, maybe my bladder did too.  Mrs Hayweather’s hand fell to the ground, like I gave a shit at this point.  Somebody vomited and it wasn’t me.  I couldn’t see the moon any more.

Then I hit the ground, and rough hands pulled me free.

Now there were sirens, and handcuffs, and a blanket and lights.  Shit, the lights!  But I was too wobbly to run, too weak to flee, so I cowered under the blanket, using it like a shawl.  As the paramedics came with their careful hands and gentle phrases, picking their way over the football pitch to the rugby post that had served as gallows tonight, I turned to Joanna and said:

“I’m not really feeling myself tonight…”

She’d stopped vomiting and sat crosslegged on the grass several metres away from me.  She looked over at me, forehead furrowing, eyes red and wet and running with tears.  I wanted to lick them away and make her love me.

One of the paramedics stopped abruptly, picked something up from the grass.  Shouted something to the police.

I feasted my eyes on Joanna as they descended upon me.

“This is not a Hallowe’en prop.  The police officer saw something fall from your pocket when you were… assaulted.”  I guessed it wouldn’t be called a lynching unless somebody leaked it as such to the papers.  I guessed that somebody wouldn’t be me.  “What do you have to say, son?”

Joanna’s face quivered with disgust, and as she looked at the shrivelled old hand, the nails black and grey, I knew the spell was broken and I was back to being me.

“Well?”

Reaching for the back of my tender neck, I hooked Oki’s fingers under his skin.  They looked at me, some sympathetic, some stern, some unsure what to be.

“For starters, it tastes kinda like chicken…”

Some of their mouths hung open.  Most of their eyes widened.  Joanna vomited again somewhere to the side.  Shame, my voice sounded quite husky, sexy, even.

“But I guess what I really want to say is-“ and I ripped Oki right off my face, clutching the floppy red shell of his scalp under my sticky red chin.

“Boo!  Happy Hallowe’en!”

I laughed even as they cuffed me, my second time that night, as I thought of these pricks finding my ‘fuck me’ soup and the food in the freezers.  Perhaps some of the more adventurous officers would try some?  I hoped they would, maybe they’d get lucky and find the vajazzle.  Maybe he or she would crack a crown on it, or find themselves coughing on a hair.  If one shows up at the station talking funny, then I’ll know for sure…

It’s not just weirdos like me who eat pussy.

By Gill Hoffs

Gill Hoffs lives in the north west of England with her husband and son, and giant spiders that only come out when she’s cleaning the shower late at night.  She is extremely squeamish and shy in real life, though also prone to putting her foot in it and giggling at funerals.  After studying Psychology, Biology and English Literature at University she worked with children with a variety of needs throughout Britain before having her son four years ago.  Since she began writing in earnest just over a year ago she has won several competitions, had work included in six anthologies, and had over forty pieces accepted for publication.  She used to get in trouble for her more Carnage-style writing at school, but since her other stories made the teachers cry, she really couldn’t win!  Find her on facebook, email her for a chat at scottishredridinghood@hotmail.com, or see her site for more details about her work http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com/.