A Pretty Mouth
Lazy Fascist Press, 2012
Molly Tanzer’s A Pretty Mouth is the clenched jaw—teeth grind in sleep.
But you are not asleep, dear reader.
You are entrenched in a family history much stranger and more gruesome than your own: Calipash, octopus, blood-soul, Roman.
You need a drink.
And pearls of the Weird are deliciously stirred, threaded under skin-pendants and sex rituals to titillate and terrify in the same gasping breath.
Fathom, mouth, what lurks under the visage or how they keep her locked in the basement with all those novels.
Begin—Jeeves is here, delivered in such Wodehousian clarity that we stop, ask ourselves if this is not somehow a lost Wooster yarn, but Tanzer laughs, writes on, conjuring like mad, ever placing us somehow outside of the present, yet in a realm of her own creation. In a Tanzerian history, there will be shadows to bite lips.
She has been there, will show you secrets and how to change shape, keep bending and moan. She grins her own Calipash whisper from the chamber window.
But it’s night now.
Until the end.
It’s October and you stay with her, the spectator of a perverse stage show, poem-licked earlobe and he’s stroking your hand, cloaked drawing blood and don’t worry about the bandages or the cricket bats or the pistol smoke. Just don’t tell your parents.
And you’ve been cared for: Tanzer has already taken you to where she wanted to go without you knowing this is how it all ends: mystery, humor, dread, suspense, romance, and obelisk injections in gums so the threads run laps around your tongue, until you’re in the midst of a dagger or an octopus and something is pulsing, something gooey has shifted down there.
Shut the book and glow.
Step back out to the street and walk.
Nights like this are darker.
By Jaime Grefe
TODAY, LAURA KEPT BITCHING AT ME ABOUT THE DAMN SHED. EVEN though I fixed the damn thing yesterday, I told her there was no way it had to be done again. She says the walls are rattling and the roof’s in bad shape. I’ve been married to my beautiful Laura for ten wonderful years and although I love her to death she can push all the right buttons. She stepped in front of the television, her fat fine ass eclipsing the screen and blocked my view of the big game.
I can’t stand that fucking shed; I hear noises coming out of there day and night and no matter how hard I try I can’t ignore them. They’ve roused me out of a deep sleep a few times and its hard to go back to sleep. For all I know it’s the damn cats getting in the trash cans again. I’m not a chickenshit or a couch potato like Laura and her family like to peg me as but I know when I’ve done something and when I haven’t. Some people think that just because they have a bad day, they think they can ruin the rest of your good day.
“Move your ass.”
“Fix the shed or I’m not moving.”
I knew she wouldn’t budge. I sighed, threw my hands in the air, bolted off the couch into the garage and strapped on my brown leather tool pouch. Hammer, screwdriver, wrenches and ratchets; a box of shingles and roofing nails and I was out the door. When I got out there, she was right. Two slats in the middle of the right side wall were waving like a flag above City Hall and a few shingles came off, too.
As I was repairing the shingles, I heard a humming sound coming from inside the shed. I ignored it and went back to work, which took ten minutes. After I nailed the two metal slats back into place, I heard the humming sound again. When I opened the door, a musty coppery odor hit me instantly. I stepped over the long yellow extension cord we’d run from the house and hooked up to the baseboard heater sitting along the far left corner.
“Well, well.” My mother-in-law said, “About time your lazy ass came out here and did something.”
“Afternoon to you, too Evelyn.”
There are times when I can’t even look at her. Her long straight black hair fell across her massive pale shoulders like an opera curtain during intermission; her penetrating blue eyes froze me in place as they’d done before. She started to gain weight about last week after she ate the old couple next door so we put her in the shed for safekeeping; she’d gone from a hundred and ninety pound bag of bones to a thousand pound slab of pale fat stacked upon itself. The bodies of the three missing hikers hung upside down, pouring rivers of blood onto the hay-strewn floor. She plucked the left leg off the skinny redhead like she were snapping the drumstick off from a whole chicken and bit into the meat.
“Unless you’re gonna watch, you might as well shut the fuckin’ door.” She said, holding the thick hemorrhaging leg in her hand.
They’re right, you know. When you marry the daughter, you marry her mother, too.
“Sorry.” I said and did as she asked.
By Brian J. Smith
Monty has not been able to sleep tonight. For the last four hours he has been sitting on top of the covers, and the pillows too, all crunched up with his knees pressed tightly to his chin. Not bad for an over fifty fat guy who has had two hernias and four knee operations.
Monty has not been able to doze off. He has the lights on and is holding a copy of ‘Unabridged Something’ firmly in his right hand as if he is waiting for something to squash.
It isn’t bugs. It’s not a snake or a rat or even a little field mouse.
There is something under his bed. He knows it. He hears it. He has even touched it, or to be more correct, it has touched him. But each time Monty has attempted to get out of the bed, a hand reaches out to grab him at the ankle.
He is holding it like a camel, or least this is what he wants to believe. In reality, he has done something he hasn’t done since age six.
The touch from the hand was icy and slimy. So icy cold, it left a mark that throbs with pain. So slimy it left a thick and oily residue on his flesh. Monty can even see where a chunk of its skin, on his, was left behind. But even without this potential souvenir, in the last half hour, it has begun to groan low and breathe hard. He is afraid to reach for it, to see if it is what he thinks it is.
In the last ten minutes, Monty has begun to smell it; the putrid concentration of flesh rotting.
It won’t respond to Monty’s begging, and as long as the light stays on, Monty believes it won’t come to the surface and get him.
But as the night wears on and the standoff continues, Monty’s worry thickens. He hears a voice coming from the closet. It is a woman whispering his name, seeking a response. Thinking he knows the voice, he leans over to cock his ear. In his peripheral vision he again spies the hand, grasping out from under the bed, anticipating his feet hitting the floor.
The flaking, decomposing, greenish grey hand of grizzled flesh and bone begins clawing at the bed spread. It is now that Monty knows. It’s the ring, the cheap cubic zirconia ring. Monty knows who is under the bed. Monty now knows who is in the closet.
And it does not take too much imagination to deduce who is now knocking at his back door.
Monty always felt guilty picking them up. Monty always felt guilty after having his way with them, after strangling them and dismembering them. But Monty always felt confident and secure that if he scattered their remains all around the state, they would never find their way back.
By Joseph J. Patchen
He was tall, dark, handsome, perfect. Took me out for dinner, we had a good time. Then he put me into bed, entered me and then as I served his crotch he said: “You’ve got disgusting teeth” after which he bashed them off with his fists. Shamefully, I couldn’t do nothing but shake and convulse.
Lying there on the floor I spat my teeth out one after the other. Teeth on the floor, I stared up on him. He smiled, I smiled back -if you can call it that. He then forcefully entered my mouth, came. Swallowed, happy.
Then he tried to enter me, but being a piece of trash, my legs got in the way, so he cut them off without a tranquilizer. After the sacrifice I was worthy of entering. Yet he wasn’t satisfied.
“Yuz armz are dirty” he exclaimed, after which I bit them off.
Now fully naked, and shapeless I stood there. He played with me for a little while longer, then of course I bored him, as I tend to do. Being smart, he made a hole in my skin, put me on a hook, closed the closet and left.
I wish he would come back one day.
This Halloween the Carnage Conservatory is going to make your holiday extra bloody with the
CRIMSON SKULL SHORT STORY CONTEST
Carnage is asking for all horror writers to submit a piece of short horror fiction based around some element of any ghoul’s favorite holiday, HALLOWEEN
Must be 1,000-4,000 words
Submitted between October 1st to October 30th to Emily Smith-Miller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Involves some aspect of Halloween
The bloodier the better, Carnage guidelines apply
THE WINNER OF THE CRIMSON SKULL CONTEST WILL RECEIVE A $30 AMAZON GIFT CARD AND A GENEROUSLY DONATED $10 GIFT CERTIFICATE TO CARNAGE’S FAVORITE T-SHIRT SHOP
THE RUNNERS UP
WILL HAVE THEIR FICTION FEATURED ON THE CARNAGE CONSERVATORY WITH FULL PROMOTION OF YOUR BLOG OR PERSONAL WEBSITE
WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON OCTOBER 31st
HAPPY HAUNTING MY FLESH EATING FIENDS
TIME TO GET BLOODY!