Winner of March Madness: Detention by TM Simmler

She is scantily dressed in a torn nightie, barefooted, with dirty cuts lining her legs, sweaty and breathless, her short blond hair spiked with little perches, with a gasping cut on her left arm and on the fabric blood that might be her own, as every so often she presses her hand against the stain, her face twists in pain. But she doesn’t stop running, over stones cutting her feet, amidst branches whipping her bare arms. She almost lost her equilibrium twice, but managed to keep running and stumbling through the forest, searching for a road, for help. Again and again she twists her head backwards, although she knows better – she should watch the path, be alert not to step into a trap or strain her ankles or, heaven beware, break her foot in some coppice, but she cannot help it, with panic and fear rushing through her, adrenaline flooding the synapses, not much room is left for rational thought. So she keeps looking back while running and of course it is her undoing. When she turns her eyes back to the path, all she sees is the lumbering seven foot hulk in a scarecrow costume and she screams, but no one can hear her and besides, her cry is cut short by the Scarecrow Man, grapping her by the throat and lifting her up like a flesh doll without bones, until she looks him straight into the eyes, eyes so dark, rigid and blank they might be marbles, she sees his pockmarks and the harelip that parted even the soft bone wall between the nostrils. The Scarecrow Man bends her head backwards and she sees the sky; grey, without sun and birds, who shun this part of the woods. He pulls his carving knife from the holster and with a single smooth floating motion cuts the girl’s throat before releasing her from his grip. Her fall stops halfway and she defies gravity.

Andrew Harris put the remote control on the teacher’s desk, went over to the TV, switched it off and took “Scarecrow Man 2 – Gut Harvest” out of the DVD player, turned and faced the four students.

“Well,” he started, chuckling a bit, “methinks this is not going to make the BAFTAs. Anyway, we are not here to discuss the cinematic merit – or lack thereof – of this wee ditty, aren’t we?” Harris placed himself on the edge of his desk. “We will talk about responsibility, effects and cause. Let me start with a quote please. ‘Media violence has affected children’s mindsets negatively to certain extent and it is a problem. We all know that children are more vulnerable towards all kind of information from various sources. Additional to that, they like to imitate what they see, hear and so on. Therefore, I am of the opinion that media violence can desensitize them to violence.’ Interesting. But first I’d like to ask you, what was wrong in the scene we just watched … Gilbert?” The others shifted in their seats, anxious and afraid, quietly moaning through their gags, trying to wriggle themselves out of their tightly knotted bonds. Jolted, Tom Gilbert straightened himself, waited until Harris removed the ball-gag, his complexion paling and muttered: “I would say that … maybe …the perpetrator should be wearing a mask?” “A mask?” Harris asked perplexed. “Why, Gilbert, would he feel the need to hide his countenance? They are way out in the middle of nowhere, where the cells make no calls, and he is intent on slicing and dicing her into tiny lumps. Would you agree that Mister Scarecrow Man quite possibly gives a flying tinker’s toss about weather or not his victim comes to see his ugly hide?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Besides, we are not going to discuss some minor lapse of a probably drug-riddled screenwriter. We are looking at a glaring, devastating, and most moronic and insulting mistake. Mr. Gilbert, imagine Scarecrow Man donning a paper bag over his head. He’s masked now. He’s Tesco Man. Now what grave mistake is bag-boy culpable of?”

“I don’t know.” Gilbert started to whimper; tears fell from his eyes, ran over his chubby cheeks and dripped on his school tie. From the back of the classroom came a sound of snipping fingers.

“I know it, Mr. Harris” mumbled the voice. Harris turned round.

“Mr. Hunter, please – nobody likes a smart-ass. Give Mr. Gilbert the chance to answer. Gilbert?”

“He was scuffling twenty feet behind her and then, all of a sudden, he stood before her and…”
“Nonsense. This we call suspension of disbelief. A tried and true tradition only some fuddy-duddy nitpicker would dwell upon. I still do not care for minor script errors.” Andrew Harris shook his head, looking sad. His haggard face seemed even deeper lined, his prominent cheekbones now protruded so far, they could cut paper.

“Sorry. Really sorry. But I’m afraid you’ve just failed.”

“No, Mr. Harris, please. Just give me two minutes. I mean, I am sure…”

“Quiet down and listen to Mr. Hunter. If you’d be so kind to enlighten us?” Harris went to the back row and loosened Hunter’s gag.

Frank Hunter straightened up and proclaimed: “The murder scene was all wrong. A true psychopath would never indulge in such sloppy ways of killing. Dragging the knife once from left to right like slicing apple pie?”

“Very good, Mr. Hunter. You’re an opportunist and a wonk, but you are correct. If there is truth to the quote I read to you earlier, this scene teaches our youngsters that they can effectively slay another human by simply sashaying a blade from ear to ear. Now, here is an extra question for you to make amends for the one you’ve botched up. What kind of people do you think annoy me the most, Mr. Gilbert?”

Sobbing vehemently, Gilbert stuttered: “I don’t know, Mr. Harris. Maybe the stupid kind?”

Harris shook his head. “Wrong again. The breathing kind.”

He stepped behind Gilbert, gripped his front, bent back his head, produced a shiny Spider Bowie Knife from one of his boots and sawed through Gilbert’s throat, so forceful, the severed Adam’s apple was clearly visible through the frayed wound. Gilbert thrashed violently. Shifting stools screeched over linoleum, subdued cries of repulsion and fear rose. Only Hunter stared transfixed.

“You see, that is the only way to cut a throat. In the movies there it is always one fucking clean cut and the victim looks surprised and dies the next second, whereas Mr. Gilbert, who has been killed in a correct and precise manner, will go on gasping and gaping like a goldfish that had been kicked in the balls for about three minutes. Then he should be choked on his own blood. Questions?”

An excited torrent of undistinguishable consonants led Harris to a blond, athletic build young man. Harris looked at the piece of paper he had tucked to the boys chest and read.

“Mr Fletcher. You want to ask something?” Fletcher coughed so many words into the sock Harris had stuffed between his teeth, his face was all puffy. “Please, calm down.” He removed the sock.

“What the fuck are you doing? You’re the janitor, for fuck’s sake. Where’s Mr. Rattigan?”

“I am a teacher.” Harris cried, his upper lip twitching. He was starting to sweat. “I teach… Social Studies… I just… had to change… schools. Short tenures. Had to move. Often. Until all I could do to start at a school was donning a damned janitor uniform and mop floors and wipe your shit and puke and scratch your fucking gums…..” He closed his eyes, breathed slowly, and regained his composure.

“To get back to what you were saying, Fletcher,” Harris went to the small basin, took a piece of soap, forced Fletcher’s jaw open, shoved it in and sealed the mouth with the sock.

“Foul words make foul minds. And Mr. Rattigan is inhibited. That’s how I came to supervise your detention.”

Harris stepped over Gilbert’s corpse, opened the cupboard and Rattigan fell out. A mop had been rammed down his throat with such force, that only a tiny piece of the holder was visible and with the mop-head covering his features, Rattigan looked as if he had been attacked by the face-hugger.

“I will now remove the gag, Mr. Fletcher. If you scream, you can very well guess, how unlucky this would turn out for you.” Harris took out the sock and the soap and Fletcher puked over his uniform.

“Why are you doing this?” he sobbed.

“Like I said -I am a teacher, though you could say I’m a freelancer now. Still – education is my calling. And since some minor inconveniences like fuss about the use of corporal punishment and vanishing pupils keep me from passing my knowledge onto the youngsters, I teach them mores! Look at you, you lot here, having it all. All the wisdom of the world available, the greatest writings just one mouse-click away and you are able to download the words of the Bard and the Donne’s poems, but all you indulge in is filth, porn and sharing clips of funny laughing cats and happy slapping. Education is a gift and you spit on it. You are lazy, you have no morals, and you know no decency, because a pupil, who does know decency, will not end up in detention, for God’s sake!” Harris’ voice broke. He gulped.

“Now. Attention, class. A film.”

He put another DVD into the recorder. “It’s taken from a home-grown micro-budget film called ‘My Sisters Need Slicing’.”

The clip was short. All you could see was a hooded figure with black gloves sticking a butcher’s knife into the belly of a nude brunette. She squeaked, fell down, she died. Harris switched off, cleared his throat. “Would you please step forward, Mr. Fletcher?”

“I can’t.” he muttered.

“I’m not really asking. Step forward.”

“I can’t, you fucking arsehole psycho prick nailed me to my chair!”

Harris giggled. “I completely forgot about that. But you were a very unruly rascal, Fletcher. Look at Mr. Hunter. All I had to do with him was super-gluing his trousers to his place.”

“That’s because little Norman Bates over there probably enjoys the show. He’s just as sick a fuck as you.” Spittle flew from Fletcher’s mouth.

“Keep your seat, then.” Harris stood next to him, gripped the part of a twelve inch nail that protruded from Fletcher’s thigh and jerked hard, like he trying to put him into fourth gear.

“And watch your bleeding language!” He rummaged through his briefcase, produced a replica of the knife they’ve just seen in the clip and stabbed Fletcher in the stomach. Twice.

Fletcher’s eyes bulged, reddish foamy saliva bubbles formed at the corner of his mouth and he threw his torso back and forth. Harris looked at the other two pupils. The Taplow boy was crying uncontrollably, Hunter watched the murder of his classmate with almost clinical curiosity. He stabbed Fletcher three times more, pierced a kidney, punctured the spleen and scraped bone, which led to a scream of anguish, so deafening, he put the sock back in.

Fletcher breathed as if hyperventilating. Harris seemed to lose it and went into a stabbing frenzy. Blood squirted into his face, dripped from his hair, hit the walls.

Exhausted, Harris sat down. Fletcher was still alive. Barely so, his face waxen, with freckles of blood, eyes turned inward, but he was breathing.

“Mr. Fletcher has just been stabbed forty-one times with a solid knife from Germany’s finest manufacturer. And yet he is not gone. And yet … sod it. Well, he is dead now. But he lasted quite some time, huh?”

They sat in silence for a few minutes.

“Why? Why us, Mr. Harris?” Taplow muffled.

“Luck. It’s all about luck. ” Harris said. “Let me tell you something about luck. It’s because of luck you are born on this wonderful island and not into some third world pesthole, where you’d right now be sewing shoes for sixteen hours each day for a laugh. Do you acknowledge your luck, gentlemen? Do you wish, you’d acknowledged it more right now? Here’s a nice example of luck –  say, you’ve missed the tube to King’s Cross by two minutes and it’s exactly this tube a whacked out Muslim has chosen to blow himself to smithereens on the off-chance of banging a cartload of virgins. Phew. Lucky you. Or – you’ve missed the tube and now you are late for school again and sent to detention while everyone else is home and dry, and now you’re holed in with me. The secret of life is luck. Good luck and bad luck. There is no pattern, no secret meaning or purpose. Our brains make that up. Even in the worst muddle, in the most random conglomerations, our brain makes us see patterns. Little doggies in the clouds. It’s bogus. A fraud. And that’s the lesson for today, boys. I’m tired.”

Harris got up and went to Taplow. “Taplow, me lad. No questions for you, no film clips.” He wiped some tears from the boy’s face.

“Maybe, just briefly, a movie title? And then off you go? Having your lesson learned? Coming back tomorrow, all attentive and prepared and with a clean tie and a crease in your trousers like a good boy?”

Taplow nodded hesitantly, a sparkle of hope in his eyes. Harris fumbled through his briefcase.

“Here’s the title: ‘The Browning Version’.” 

He put the Browning on the bridge of Taplow’s nose and pulled the trigger. Gray lumps of brain streaked down the chalk-board.

“I don’t think you would.” He went over to Hunter.

“So, Mr. Hunter. Just the two of us, now.”

“Wait. Please wait.”
Harris sighed. “I’m dog-tired. I’ve got a nagging headache and pyrosis and my digestion isn’t humouring me, either. So what is it? Any last words you feel compelled to speak? Some whining, begging and jabbering?”

“No. That would hardly be of any use, would it? It’s just that I hid something. When you frisked us, I managed to stash this away.” He pulled a mobile out of his trouser pocket.

“Well, if you hid it between your buttocks, I sure missed it. I’m no perv. But neither can I hear the cavalry approaching nor some copper’s voice creaking through a megaphone. The parking lot looks like it should be on a Friday afternoon – deserted. So what are you trying to tell me?”

“I’ve filmed it. All of it. Even the stabbing of David and that took place in quite an impossible angle. See for yourself.” He handed Harris the phone. “You’ve got to press…”

“I know how an iPhone works.”

And there it all was, in glorious High Definition – Gilbert, getting his throat sliced, the vicious slashing of Fletcher, the snuffing of John Taplow. The only thing not to be seen was Andrew Harris’ face.

“We could sell it.” Hunter chimed in.

“Sell it?” Harris was somehow bemused. The kid had balls. He was bat-shit crazy, sure, but he had balls.

“Mr. Harris – Snuff movies are like the holy grail of urban legends. Fuck the spider in the palm or the man with the hook. Good for a laugh. But snuff? You’ll probably not remember, with you downloading the renaissance poets or offing kids and stuff , but some years ago there was one  big bleeding ruckus, because Charlie Sheen, the actor, you know – he watched that Japanese movie, like  “Guinea Pig”, right, and with all the drugs and booze and having his dick sucked, vroom, his brain shoots off into spheres where no brain has been before and he calls the FBI, like, and they get all excited and the press has a field day, The Sun puts the story straight over the page three titties and all of a sudden everybody and his retarded bro is screaming “Ban The Filthy Snuff Films!” and of course it’s not real, I mean – this movie comes with a commentary track and a Making Off and shit. But the thing is, dude, I mean, Mr. Harris – the next weeks and months that fucking movie sold like an eighteen year old nun on a hooker auction. With something like a third generation bootleg you could make a down payment for your flat and then party in there till Armageddon, mate. Now, what you think the real deal would make, huh?”

Harris said nothing.

“Let’s face it. This calling of yours, freelance educating, bringing down the wrath of Hermes – you can hardly combine it with a nine-to-five, can you?  Travelling expenses, a place to stay and you sure don’t want to be a janitor the rest of your life, huh? But with me filming your lectures and selling them, we’d out-fuck the Duke of Winchester money-wise. And, yeah, well, get your message across, whatever. So? What do you say? Deal, Mr. Harris, mate?”

“Money always is a bit tight, that’s for sure. But how do you think we should distribute this … special product, young man?”

“My uncle Francis. When he was twelve, he started with the Krays. Then he was known as The Manchurian Malady. He knows people God doesn’t know about.”

Harris cocked his head. This was one astonishing kid.

“You truly are an interesting young man. Though not the most popular pupil, I suppose. Now – if, and that’s written with two capitals, if this works out, I’d pay you twenty-five per cent in the first year.”

“Twenty-five? You’re shitting me?”

“You’re an apprentice. What do you expect? It’s that or The Browning Version.”

“Twenty-five is mighty fine, sir.”

“I’ll keep the phone. Let’s go.”

Hunter ripped himself free from the chair he’d been glued to.

“One thing, Mr. Harris.”

“What is it now, Hunter?”

“We’ve got to stop and buy me some new trousers first. Think I can get an advance?”

By TM Simmler


Runner Up for March Madness: Mister Bryson by Mike Joyce

Jerry had a hard time believing the images still in his mind. The bright morning light chased them away until they were just fragments, routed and running through his brain as he lay under the tightly tucked covers of his nursing home bed. The night. Last night, in the dark. His roommate Will’s wrinkled and droopy cheeks, reflecting the fluorescent light from the open-door, twitching in the darkness. The crumpled white socks on the bed. The needle-nose pliers, digging deep under the white flaky skin, tearing out the big toenail and tugging on the whole leg. The socks pulled back on in a blotting, staining trail of red, pointing to the crime like an arrow.

            What kind of outfit was this? The mold in the shower stalls and the microwaved food was bad enough, but psychotic nursing staff was a different level altogether. Propping himself on the steel pole attached to the oxygen stand, Jerry strapped the rubber mask on his face and scuffled his way past the still sleeping Will out into the hall, the squeaky wheels of the stand echoing down the hall with his footsteps. His father never would have put up with this.

            “Good morning, Mister Bryson.”

            “Oh is it, is it a good morning?” Jerry said, facetiously looking to his sides in surprise as if waiting for an imaginary audience to answer.

            The bored eyes of the bubble-gum chewing clerk looked up at him, then down at the bright flashing colors on her phone.

            He pulled down the mask for added emphasis, “…because in my world, Casey, in my world ‘good mornings’ don’t involve your friend’s toenails getting ripped out.”

            She stopped chewing and picked up the phone, still bored eyes now looking at Jerry’s own. She pressed a single button and began speaking to the voice on the other end in a lilting, disbelieving voice.

            Think Jerry, think! Who could have done this? He was just slightly younger than the majority of patients at Swaying Oaks; due almost as much to his poor memory as his frequent, recurring bouts of emphysema. A silhouette lurked in his mind. Insubstantial, puffy, like it was wearing a too big jacket. Maybe a dress. Jerry’s eyes tightened black as he thought harder. The face, could he see the face? No. Maybe. A smile? Yes, a lipstick smile on a white face. White on white and surrounded by black. The face was eyeless and noseless, shaped like an isosceles pointing towards the ceiling. No, no Jerry that’s not right. How can a face be shaped like a triangle?

            Two women in business clothes, one the manager of Swaying Oaks and the other the acting supervisor, made their way to Jerry.

            “Gerald, what is going on here?” God, how he hated that name. So did his father. His father had always wanted a girl to baby, he had trusted them more.

            A curt conversation followed the trio back down the hall amid Jerry’s squeaking and scuffling and the two women’s clacking feet and popping eyes. Will was still knocked out. It turned out that he had been given heavy doses of a sedative. Jerry’s description was unhelpful, but they assured him the culprit would be caught soon. Sure, Jerry thought. These broads had a vested interest in making sure nobody got caught, in making sure no one knew this ever happened. That’s OK. He was up to the challenge of giving them the proof they needed.


            The next morning Jerry was startled awake. Sato, the Japanese nurse, had been staring at him in the sunrise. She was unflinching, remote. Suddenly a glued on smile leapt to her face. She tidied up his bedstand and then was on her away. Neither spoke a word. Her lips were red. Things started to click into place. Sato’s hair was black and fell down on her forehead in such a way that it created a triangle. In fact, Jerry thought, the only other nurse with black hair was Guadalupe, and her skin certainly wasn’t white. Even in his panicked state, Jerry thought of how beautiful and long her hair was. How much he wished he’d had hair like that.

            He reached over to the freshly organized bedstand, and opened the drawer to pull out his notebook where he kept his ephemeral thoughts. There, on top of the notebook, was a pair of pliers and two big toenails. Small. Almost feminine. But then, Will always did have a woman’s feet. Even the toenails were smooth and translucent. This settled it. Sato staring at him while he slept, the red lipstick and matching hair, her fooling around with the bedstand right before he found the evidence. Was she trying to frame him? Maybe drug him like she did Will? He pocketed the pliers.

            Sato was following him, he was sure of it. Earlier in the day she had approached him in the lunchroom, after lurking along the wall. She asked to refill his pills, since his usual nurse was out sick. He told her to go ahead. Lure her into a false sense of security. He wasn’t going to be taking any medication until this thing was resolved anyway. Now, she conveniently was giving one of the patients a walk along the river, just as he himself was going for a walk. How transparent. These Japs could get crazy, Jerry thought; if there was one thing he learned from his pop’s experiences in the Pacific is was that. That’s OK; you’ve got to be crazy right back. He could do crazy. Pops had taught him crazy. With a smirk, he pulled out the pliers and knelt down by a boulder placed there by some landscaper. He started sharpening the needlenose’s dull point, making sure Sato could see. She did.

            An hour passed, his sharpening now was done more out of principle than anything, the pliers as sharp as they’d ever get. The inactivity said volumes. Surely, Sato would have reported his behavior to the cinnamon breath of Casey the clerk if she hadn’t planted them herself in his drawer. The sun beat down and he started to close his eyes. Suddenly it was night; there was that eyeless woman again, black hair and red lips and white skin—running, smiling like a lunatic. By the riverside, by the bronze statue of an oak tree, she reached down and dug a hole, placing a steel key into the dirt. Waking up, he made his way frantically towards the statue. The oxygen stand he carted rattled recklessly on the brick path as he hurried along. Dropping to his knees he dug, dug all over until his fingers gripped metal.


            Jerry wasn’t sure what it all meant. Why he’d had the vision. He’d never especially believed in a God until that moment. People were living longer only to die slower, and nursing homes like Swaying Oaks were the kind of places people went to do it. Maybe, near the end of his life, he had finally found some sort of salvation. He thought of his father, jumpy and fidgety until his early death. Scars on his legs and scars inside his head from being a POW. He hoped his father had found it, too.

            Carrying the tank in his arms to avoid the squeaky cart, never before in his seventy years of life had he felt more like his father. He was sure he knew which room the key opened. The old coal room, locked-off with caution tape. It was the only likely place Sato could hide anything, far away in the closed wing. His hands shook in the dark as he stuck the key in. It turned. He flicked the light on.

            There, on top of a large metal cabinet in the cramped room, was a wig. A black wig of shoulder-length hair. Stepping closer, Jerry examined it with big eyes. Was this—was this skin? Human skin?  He pulled open the door—it was silent, recently greased. A gust of formaldehyde blew past him like a liberated animal. Inside the cabinet were strings. Strings hanging down from the top of the cabinet, drilled into the top with screws, looking like dozens of sinews and tendons. Jerry paused for a moment; maybe they were sinews and tendons. Attached at the end of each and rattling like bamboo windchimes were pieces, pieces of humans. Toes, fingers, four ears, and a single nose.

            On the shelf underneath, there was a face. The face looked familiar. The hair looked familiar. Cathy. Cathy, with black hair. Cathy, who had disappeared and was last seen by the river. Cathy, whose death went down in the newspaper as a suicide, body unfound. Two wrinkled circles—a woman’s breasts—were fashioned to bra straps with clear plastic sewing line. The nipples looked like hunting arrowpoints. Beneath the face and arranged in a perfect line were toenails and fingernails. Forty of them, at least. It wasn’t just Cathy. Translucent, feminine, elegant. On the underside, little pieces of putty were stuck. Red lipstick and a pair of clip-on earrings rested next to them along with a billowy, folded dress. Jerry had seen enough. He unscrewed the lightbulb, pulled out the pliers, took off the oxygen mask; his father never needed one of those. He sat down and waited for Sato to come to the scene of the crime.


            Sato clutched a camera in her hand, inching down the hall to the coal room. The door was unlocked. She hit the light. Nothing happened. Tense, she used the back of the camera’s dull electric glow to navigate. She saw a cabinet, and hit the button on the camera. Programmed to shoot 10 photos in quick succession, the room lit up with the flashes. So did Jerry. Completely naked, except for a black wig, flesh mask, and a woman’s breasts strapped across his chest.

            “You dirty Jap! Thought I was your bitch!”

            Sato ran. He pounded after her.

            “You lost the war as soon as you started it!”

Grabbing her shoulder he plunged the pliers into her back—the dead fingernails that had been stuck to his own living ones with putty scattered across the floor.

            “Treat me like an animal, treat Jerry Beth Bryson like a dirty bitch dog, HUH?!”

            Sato’s screams rang through the halls, eclipsed only by Jerry’s laughs. The earrings kept snagging on the dried, leathery skin on his face. He stabbed again. He grabbed her hair and pulled, smashing her head against the tile. She had such beautiful, feminine hair.

By Mike Joyce

2nd Place for March Madness: Easy Cum, Easy Go By Gill Hoffs






Wankers.  This place is full of ‘em.  Big ones, little ones, fat ones, thin ones.  Losers, arseholes, then… the ones lucky enough to be a bit like me.

The tall, athletic, clever ones, who earn the big bucks.  ‘Big bucks for hand fucks’, as I think of it.

“A new life for your wife!” is one of the tag lines on the pamphlet pile by the door.  “Room in your womb?  Then let a new life bloom!” says a ridiculously hopeful poster on the wall.

New lives?  Fuck that.  This place, this planet, is too crowded already.

I’m here for my sample.  I’m here to ‘help’.  I’m here to redress the balance.


There’s a pile of crusty-paged porn and a tatty pot plant in the cubicle, along with a beige leatherette chair still damp from the detergent the receptionist wipes door handles and sticky surfaces with between donors, and a half empty bottle of ‘Hot Stiff!’ lube.  The place stinks of cinnamon, presumably from the previous wanker’s liberal usage of lube, and I know I won’t be having that sprinkled on my coffee at the café tonight unless I want to puke it back up immediately.  I take the test tube from my trouser pocket, still warm from the lab, and uncork it.  The old lady at the front desk gave me a clear plastic cup with a barcode sticker on it when I passed her my forms.  My crème-de-la-crème sludges in.  My beauties.  My babies.  My murdering jizz.

Over and done with in half a minute, or less. 

So now, I have time to kill.  And noises to make.  Just in case.

A hairy Mary squints at me from the cover of a jazz mag on the table, and despite my best intentions, I get a semi.  Unbuttoning the fly, I’m glad I did without my undies.  I hate it when the waistband cramps my balls.  Out flops my friend for some fun…

I do without the lube, grasping the beast with both hands and throttling it till it spits a surge of spunk all over the table.  Wiping the worst of the stringy white mess away with a tissue, I hide the shiny smear with the pile of porn, feeling the well-used paper crinkle and crunch under my skin, and resist the urge to suck my fingers.

Then I tuck myself back in, spent and softening, pick up the tub, and leave.

I hand it to the receptionist, wink at her, and murmur:

“I was thinking of you, honey…”

Her expression doesn’t change.  I doubt she heard me over her constant sucking of detachable teeth and what smells like mint humbugs.

Strolling out into the winter dusk, I grin at a passing bus.  I meant what I said when I deposited my seed at the sperm bank.  But I wasn’t just thinking of her, oh no.  I was thinking of the human race.


Dicks and twats, the lot of them.  I don’t mean what they have between their legs; I mean them.  How I hate them, how I love it when they crash and burn.  There’s nothing sweeter to me than funeral flowers, withered tributes of white supermarket roses at a cyclist’s crash site, or the fuel fire stink of a pile-up on the motorway.  A brick tossed casually from a bridge can have such happy results.

Except for the bloodied faecal stench of a fuck-up at work.  Now, that is a treat.  Blood clots, placenta, piss and shit, and if I’m lucky, the sounds of a family in mourning.  If I’m really lucky, no sound at all, except the biiiiiiiip of a flatline and the obstetrician’s sigh.  I’m glad of the masks we have to wear.  They’re great for hiding my smiles.

Take this one right here.  Small.  Blonde.  Plump.  Fertile.  Weeks past her due date, so she’s here for a ‘sweep’.  I’ve checked her notes – ‘such a conscientious midwife’, I’ve heard the doctors remark – and see she’s not one of mine.  The father’s medical history’s all there, and there’s nothing about IVF, or rape.  Infection it is, then.

I murmur reassurances as she lies on the bed, legs akimbo.  Her thighs are smooth without even a hint of stubble, waxed maybe the day before yesterday, and her pussy’s framed with a golden triangle of fuzz.  It’s like it’s pointing the way, signing ‘insert the nasty shit here’.  I pull on gloves taken from the box I wiped bacteria in yesterday, and pull the wrists up tight with a snap.  Smile, and dive in.

“This might be a bit uncomfortable, let me know if anything feels strange…”

When I tear my eyes away from her juicy wetness, her pussy tight around my fingers – man is she gonna tear when the little bastard pushes its way out! – I wink at her, and strive to keep my breathing normal.  She smells so damn good; I want to inhale her, all of her.

Crooking my finger, the neck of her cervix tight and hot through the glove, I swivel and ‘sweep’ as if checking a door frame for dust.  Her breath shudders and her vaginal walls feel like they might break my finger.  I withdraw and snap my gloves off and into the bin, leaving her to wash her hands as the nurse hands her a wad of paper towel and eases white maternity knickers up her legs.

She might get a fever tonight.  She might get it tomorrow.

She’ll develop something soon. 

I hope I’m on shift to ‘help’.


I check the obituaries with my phone, then the memorial pages online.  “Gone too soon…”  “Born asleep…”  No, you stupid cunts, dead DEAD DEAD!

Still, it’s a good start to the evening.  I recognise some of the surnames from hospital notes – amazing how people just assume that if a glove comes from a box it must be sterile – and some of the faces from hanging around the clinics.  Recipients of my ‘spermy special’, I hope.

All that time in the lab, all the missed dates and pizzas, and misshapen mice, seem worthwhile now.

I can picture and near enough taste the gore.  My imagination’s not the best, but I’ve been on shift when the odd one’s come in before now.

Getting comfy on the sofa, I slip my hand round my cock and remember…


She was part of my first batch, several cities ago.  Jennifer?  Inez?  Sofia?  Margaret?  Something, it doesn’t matter.  In she came, screaming, four months gone.  Well, everything gone.  She just didn’t know it yet. 

Writhing around in her own bloodied mess, clots sliding off the rubber gurney, splatting on the floor, squishing under our feet, making us slip, she clutched her abdomen as more, more, more gushed from between her legs.  Black and purple and stinking.  The deep dark red of a Bad Baby.

It didn’t want to be born.  It just wanted her pain.  It’s easy to engineer them to crave adrenalin and endorphins if you know how.

I made the right noises, soothed her appropriately, paged for a doctor, and thought of the tinkering in the lab, the engineering and messed up mouse models that went into this – this murder proceeding before our eyes.

The doctor came at a run, sorted drips and fluids and bloods, but she might as well have thrown the bags on the floor and stamped on them.  That’s where the O-neg ended up.

All too soon, the stupid woman was still.  I damn near came in my pants with pride.  Later, when I sucked the blood and shit and amniotic fluid from my uniform, I did.

Thinking of it now, I do again.

Right into a petri dish.

There you are, my beauties.

Back to the lab again…

By Gill Hoffs

3rd Place for March Madness: Melancholy Babies by Peter Marra


I am female.

So is she.

I don’t understand why.

I’m here that’s all.

I used to pass by the house where Henry Miller spent his childhood. That was a long time ago. I ache and I’m stiff.

My knives.

My knives. There’s a monkey on my back.

I count them daily. Once a day, sometimes several times a day count, count. When the moonlight spins crimson in the room or when the sunlight bends into shocked rainbows through the windows, I count.  

The light warms the contents of my 1 pt mason jars lined up on pine shelves.

I take inventory daily; sometimes several times a day.

The knives are kept under my couch in a teakwood case. The couch and the case were received from someone once dear to my heart. A sweet person once – but no more; no more; no longer.

 I’m encased in a metal room in a building where the women are always crying. I don’t know why I’m here and I don’t remember the time before now. I’m just here. I engage in traditional rituals so I can be comfortable.  

Tomorrow is not here yet. A Devil Doll waits for me in the corner. She waits for me to speak but I’m not answering her. She is thin with black hair. Her skin is clammy and tastes funny – tastes like pale white from excessive opium abuse. Her eyes are devoid of love. Her eyes are devoid of life. She occasionally roles her eyes upwards into their sockets so I can just see a white film. There is a constant low noise surrounding us. The law abiding citizens that walk by on the street below talk in sing-song rhythms. It hurts me inside, but the jars make me happy.

Knives help me. I do what I have to do. I must do what it wants me to do. Sometimes she and I go out together. I blame her but I shouldn’t.

The Devil Doll is sleeping at the moment. She nodded off in the corner, propped up – her back to the wall. She’s resigned to this style of living: a room of yellowing white, mouthing words silently under her breath, trying to communicate with me – a word, a gesture. She frequently doesn’t succeed in getting her point across and resigns to her fate in frustration.

The day is Monday. The time: 1 AM. The clock ticks every other second which offsets our understanding of each other. She occasionally lets her right hand drift to her crotch and slides it under her white ripped nightgown. I see her but she doesn’t know. When she realizes that I can see her, she stops.   She has been here a very long time. She wears no shoes. Her toenails are red.

I am dressed in black, sitting in a chair. My writing materials have been taken away. They gave me a portable radio that only gets static. I play with the knobs and make musical compositions of white noise- up down volume, flutter, and staccato. I gently wake the Doll – It’s time to go out for another walk.

Doll is busy counting the track marks on her arms. “You shoot too much of that shit,” I tell her.

She shrugs.

 “Where are we going this time?” she asks as she runs her skeletal figures through her ragged black hair, puling out a few strands in the process. Pinching the strands between thumb and forefinger of the left hand, she studies them intently for a few seconds, then places them in her mouth.

“I have to get dressed. You’re wearing black. I have to match,” she states with seriousness. She was shaking with fear and pleasure. I could tell – I had seen it many times before. Bad intentions brought out her best. Dee-Doll had so few pleasures. She went into the next room and closed the door. I could hear her rummaging around, things falling, a few curse words. She emerged wearing white jeans, a white t-shirt and a tight black leather jacket.

“I decided to wear white because the red looks so pretty on it.”

“Time for mumblety-peg,” she sighed. “When we get back can you play me that song again? You know the one I like. That’s it baby.” She came over and took my hand, placing it on her lips. “I want to be good,” she said.

I pulled my hand away quickly, feeling a single second of hatred behind my eyes, then I smiled.

“We should go, Dee.”

She said nothing and we exited the cage. Luckily no one was watching. We had things to do. We had music to make. It would be the kind of music that tears the sky wide open.

Back for a visit. Back for a visit.


Sometimes Devil-Doll gets inside me, under my skin. I feel her enter and inch slowly upward through my chest, through my heart, into the very core of my nervous system; slowly masturbating my brain until I explode in electrical impulses showering pleasure wide open. 

We were on the street now. Dee decided to ask me a question.

“What’s in those mason jars?”

We walked hand in hand down the alley. It was not yet spring, but winter was over. As we reached our destination, I could feel myself starting to get slightly excited. Excited in a good way, that is to say, aroused

Fragments. Fragments.

There was cool air and blackness as we entered the lobby of the converted loft building and entered the elevator. After pushing the 9th button, Dee decided to kiss me. I pushed her away and she pouted. Then she vomited red gore on the floor. It wasn’t a great quantity and it looked somewhat familiar – like a Miro painting.

We exited the elevator at the 9th floor and were presented with a door. I knocked several times, finally deciding to enter on my own volition. It was a large loft with huge gaping windows, providing views of the nighttime street – few streetlights, few sounds, it was late – or early. It was night or day. Dee-Doll followed close behind.

The loft was sparsely furnished – a table, some chairs, a futon – a small Persian rug with a black and red design. Seated in a chair was a male figure. Across from him was another male figure. They were just staring at each other with slight grins on their faces.

“We were waiting for you,” one of them said. I don’t remember which one said it. I don’t care. I walked slowly across the Persian rug and stood in front of one of them. It’s hazy now. I produced a 12” mother-of-pearl switchblade from inside my leather motorcycle jacket and flicked it open.

The click as it opened generated a tingle in my crotch and I could detect Dee having a mini orgasm. I just knew. She just knew.

He stood up, but I pushed him back in the chair. He looked slightly surprised and I felt slightly nauseous. Dee puked again, but quickly recovered.

He smiled as I slowly inserted the blade into his belly, feeling a slight pop as the blade coursed through outer skin then the stomach. Once the blade was three quarters in, I started to pull up, slowly, sensually – I came several times – then stopped at his rib cage. Fluid was everywhere. His blood and bile and brine smelled enticing, so delicious. I pulled the blade out. Dee, who was watching from several feet away, came close and inserted her hands inside the slit.

“It’s almost like a vagina,” she said, as she ran her hands over the insides, squishing and caressing, periodically taking her hands out to lick her fingers and paint designs on her face and white clothes. “It sorta feels like your vagina.” Always a class act. Her hips undulated as she massaged the interior and moved her hands in out in out. He just had a blank look on his face. There was a slight twinge on his face and Dee bent over to French kiss him. I felt slightly jealous.

“I want some samples for the jars,” I told her.

She smiled. “Now I get it.”

The other gentleman was still sitting in his chair, watching the proceedings. I actually think he was enjoying the show.

“Do you like what you see?” I asked.

“Let me do him. Please,” my partner begged.


“You can do her!” I screamed for the first time in my life. I pointed to the woman huddled in the corner. A woman with beautiful long golden hair – my opposite. I had noticed her when we came in, but Dee-Doll hadn’t. The woman was shaking. Dee walked across the room quickly and pounced on her, ripping her throat open with her mouth.

“I’m going to kill you myself – with my bare hands.” Dee let out a muffled scream of pleasure as her teeth sank in ripping flesh and blood vessels. “This is so excellent,” she mumbled as she ate and drank. Gore was everywhere – even on the dirty white ceiling. Dee tore off her trachea. “For your jars.” She handed it to me. The blood urine and female perfume intermingled and made me slightly retch as if I had inhaled mustard gas.

I placed all our souvenirs in a plastic bag that I had brought along and gave the bag to Dee. “Keep it safe,” I said. The night was screaming outside. The clouds were long gone and had entered my brain – my brain wrapped in blood and leather.


There was one guy left.

One fucking asshole.

My favorite one. He had not said a word during this entire incident and he had not attempted to intervene. 

A true pussy.

I walked over to him He was still seated in his chair, but not smiling anymore. I could detect a slight tremor. I shoved the blade into each eye and twisted in a scooping motion. The eyes popped out and landed on the carpet – no  sound. He raised his arms as if to stop me – they shook, and then came to rest on top of the armrests. Dee picked the eyes up and carefully placed them in the bag. I placed the tip of my blade under his chin, drawing it slowly around his face, etching a pattern, when I reached the beginning point, I placed the blade underneath the skin and gently pried his face off. His mouth was moving. “My melancholy baby,” he whispered.

I handed the face to Dee. “A new mask for you.”

She laughed, placed it over her own face, then removed it. She licked her lips. A real pistol, this girl is. She placed the face in the bag.

“A good collection,” Dee pronounced proudly, gently patting the bag.

I looked at Dee forthe first time with clear eyes. The lenses were cleansed. I gently kissed the bloodstain on her forehead. I grabbed her hands and felt desire.

“Let’s go home and fuck,” she said.


Back in the cube, we placed our trophies in the mason jars. I cleaned the switchblade and placed it back in its teakwood home. Dee crawled inside me and I orgasmed several times. She licked the blood off my face. She kissed my thoughts and our love splattered the walls. They didn’t know what was going on, but we knew they were watching.

“Can I ask you a question?” Dee-Doll whispered inside me.


“Who were those people?”

“I knew them a long time ago. Another history lesson.” 

I’m encased in a metal room in a building where the women are always crying. I don’t know why I’m here and I don’t remember the time before now. I’m just here. I engage in traditional rituals so I can be comfortable. 

We drifted into a coma. We fell into disrepair.

Until next time. There’s other versions out there. 

That’s all I have to say.

By Peter Marra