Of Heaving Bone

skeleton embrace

Styles of provocation,
mourn the projection of hair and bone.

Throated disgust with dirty shadows,
perky and deathly upheavals
poke your insinuating grains,
farm your insides–
to manage the dogs,
sickly at your lap.

Buttocks of the opinionated,
burn the gravy–
an upset for the cannibals,
tongues lining chocolate rims.

Coital skeletons curtsy,
something of up skirted mercy–
as swampy eyes pasteurize breasted curdles,
lumps much more luscious for sleeping beasts.

Limp bodies point salted fingers,
hatred a snack for tribal circles
of abandoned flesh,
peeling and torn.

Of heaving bone,
moist, astral beings sleep alone–
of apnea chests,
opinions finally thrown.

By Brittany Warren



She always wondered how much damage could be done to a person’s skin with an ice skating blade. Was it sharp enough to cut? To draw blood? Could it sever digits or saw through bone? Alice sighed as she skated across the pond, hearing her brothers shout as they sledded down the hill next to it. They laughed and shrieked. The balls of soft snow they threw at her crashed and broke into smears of powder as she twisted her body over the ice.
“I’ll kill you!” she called out. Her voice was light and singsongy and she likened it to the air in the spring when it was just beginning to warm. It held the scent of flowers soon to bloom.
“Not if we kill you first!”
Her skates sliced deep into the ice. Her shoes were old and made of leather, but she sanded the blade on the skates every week to keep them sharp. She liked the designs it made on the ice—swirls and loops and curving arches.
The three boys finished sledding and wandered over to the pond.
“Ice looks thin,” Bobby said. “What if you accidentally fell through?”blood on ice
“It’s the dead of winter, fuck head. The pond’s frozen solid.”
Her brothers drew a tight ring around the small pond. They stayed along solid ground, their faces pinched up in fear. Her pond was a safe place. Little Johnny and Freddy were so scared of drowning they wouldn’t even swim in it during the summer, as if by some feat of strength she would pull them down to the bottom and hold them there.
Alice smiled. “Come join me, Bobby.”
“Why don’t you come out here?”
“What are you, scared?”
A reddish brown eyebrow rose. She hated the color of Bobby’s hair. It reminded her of rust or old blood stains.
“Come on out. Scaredy cat.”
“Shut up.”
“Make me.”
“Get off that damn ice and I will.”
She spun in a frenzied circle on her skates, neck craned so far back that she could see them hesitating on the pond’s edge. If she fell at this angle, her neck would surely break. She would be paralyzed from the neck down, unable to walk or skate or feed herself. But that was the beauty of skating. It was an art, really, the way a skater learned to turn and hold their body while they flew across the ice.
Alice closed her eyes and felt the wind pushing at the back of her neck.
“Fine. See how mouthy you are when I get out there.”
Her eyes opened and she turned to see Bobby making his way slowly out onto the ice. His nose was red, cheeks chapped, his hands out for balance. He tottered. He was a sloppy, messy boy and that is why she hated him.
Alice skated around him in a circle, smelling the old diesel on his jean jacket. Her nose crinkled. She swerved around him so close and so fast that she almost knocked him over.
“Hey, watch it!”
“Can’t stay on your feet?”
She did it again and he faltered, his body lurching forward, arms circling as he wobbled and then lost his balance completely. He fell forward on his face and cried out. Blood splattered across the ice.
“Oh, dear,” Alice laughed.
A vicious puddle of red spilled out from Bobby’s nose and lips as Johnny began to scream.
He tried to stand up but kept slipping. His gloved hands spread flush against the ice, trembling under his weight. Alice didn’t even think. She shot forward and her skate glided over the outstretched fingers of his left hand. The blade was sharp. She cut completely through three fingers and left one half severed. It hung crookedly from his hand.
Bobby howled.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!”
The words fell, cluttered and imprecisely formed, from his mouth. He inched slowly towards the frozen grass line and she let him go, weaving her blade through the thick splatters of blood until it was fully coated. That was when the smell of ammonia hit her. She turned.
The seat of Bobby’s pants was soaked. She watched him as he struggled back to land and hobbled inside with the others. Her laughter cascaded across the open hills.
“Told you,” she said. She cackled and slapped her knee. “I knew you were scared!”
When her father came roaring from the house, she was still spinning the blood circles, curls, and loops. The smears looked like shading and the red stretched out across the entire surface area of the pond.
After finishing one last curl, Alice stopped skating and looked down proudly at her masterpiece.

By C. Wait

Some Polaroid Porn Like Benzedrine

chained feet

the lightning scarred the charcoal skyit was a night tide it caused her eyes to burn

talons were opening the overhead flesh tent wide
whisper whisper silent silent silent
“please forgive me please forgive me please forgive”
contrition acts – relentless
“take my soul to bury please”

she was a media sensation,
wearing only black crepe
and stilettos

blood sigils were graffitied on the wall privately privately.
they were left to be filed away in the back of her mind privately
grafted to her inner thighs.

there was a conversation amongst
females concerning their cravings for magickal events,
while a figure knelt in the corner tonguing screams of
reveries of musky fluids and of french black tobacco
(dark sex sin rolled up in a cigarette)
words were washed down her throat
luminescent cocktails gag

they were all dead-on smashed
a sonic fuck/slash– a fleshed out fuck-up
a whip sting soliloquy about
the glass tingling before cracking
as the concrete crumbled
it was hard trash just like the other species

the violins burned crimson
as she held the musicians’ plucked eyes in her
lap and counted her blessings.
all gone. gone. gone.
plural recognition
their blessings were removed
the mistress of depravity looked down and
licked her teeth behind grim lips

at that time she flung the orbs to the floor
crushing them with her heels and
humiliating them with her actions
a soft squish of retinas
she wore the movements and
she wore the sounds


she scanned the dance floor for the eventual victim
she knew it by its thrashing of the apparatus
it told her about the crimes in town
nibble receiver squatting down beside her
and reached up pushed down closer against her

bending way over she exposed her ass
brazen not exaggerating

(the octopus mouth moaned)

she sweated while letting her
breasts hang low in the dark
a smile for the camera as the flashbulbs burned
she was a sensation wearing only black crepe
a species complex

3 females in a circle
3 women shapely dead white
raised their eyes and their arms,
stretched towards the convex
azure glass overhead
peopled with shiny red specks
skylights collapsed
cut the throat while the headlights crack
licking the street clean, she smelled broadway 1975

they chatted as they slurped the cum produced
from a vigorous fucking,
taken at the cardiac operation.

as her eyes grew accustomed to the strokes,
miscellaneous corpses shot embalming fluid
into the air –
a vigorous ejaculation of
formaldehyde and dye
shot out at an audience that drooled as their tongues
spasmed black

she loved the sweet sadness that came in waves
she counted her switchblades and wondered how the heart
should be excised…


the days that followed were full of dread
her pubic hair reeked of the odors of ancient moist sounds

(she whispered into the crack in the plaster
a question posed by the fireball rotating
in her cervix,
“is pornography always gratuitous?”
then into his left decaying ear, another question,
“will you fuck me, then taste me before you die?”)

3.1” x 3.1” she knew the size of the snapshot
and what would fit within range as she
photographed the shadows writhing in fluid.

white stains tinged with purple – the color of her eyes
flesh for sexpots lying in wait.

Instant shapshots christened glistened

3 females in a circle
3 women

raised their eyes and their arms, fingers
stretched towards the convex
azure glass
shining red specks
black gauze gently wrapped around each head
shimmy shimmy

their dresses dropped,
stepped out stepped on
while the blank expression imbedded in each
cunt licked its lips and
shimmy shimmy
as their tongues touched
she heard a glass cracked pale hands
pantomiming modern humor

the polaroids were intended to accompany
him in his life after death
the architect in flames
criminals from her friend
reclining nude females catalogued
by their pain

her tears had dried and the sounds
of fingers smearing
her spit into her hair delighted her

she was almost oblivious to light as the day
became a shorter black dream again

By Peter Marra


Within the Eyes of Teeth

WithintheEyesofTeethGrady was a fat, sad, old man. His heart had been broken too many times. Severely depressed, Grady locked himself inside of his house. The house was musty and old much like Grady. The bottles of alcohol that Grady consumed daily were strewn around every room. Multiple times a day Grady would stumble into these bottles and they would fall. They would make a convincing bowling pin sound as they hit the floor. After a late night bender Grady’s eye had become irritated. It throbbed with pain. Like the cure to all his problems he drank the pain away. He blacked out in his old recliner until late afternoon the next day.

Grady awoke with the pain in his eye even worse than the night before. After a struggle with putting the leg rest down on his recliner, Grady sat up. He felt around the area for cuts or swelling, but nothing was there. He winced and blinked but the pain stayed. An obtuse pain, Grady couldn’t find the irritation’s epicenter. Grady stumbled out of his chair and down the hallway to his bathroom. He swayed into the dead soldiers, and they smashed all around him. An unspeakable horror arose when the bathroom light illuminated Grady’s eye.

One little tooth had appeared in his bottom eyelid. The tooth was not sharp but was rather adolescent in its nature. A tooth a little boy or girl would put under their pillow for a quarter or two. When Grady saw this he moved closer to the mirror. Grady’s breaths had appeared on the mirror in the form of condensation. Grady wiped the foggy mirror clear and went back to examining his eye. The one tooth had now sprouted full sets of teeth on the top and bottom of his eyelid. Scared, Grady threw himself backwards. He slammed his back against the tile wall. His breathing thrashed like a broken record. Grady got up and looked again at his disfigurement. The pain in Grady’s eye pulsated. And now that Grady knew where the pain was coming from, now that he knew what it looked like, he could get rid of it. The only way Grady knew how to get rid of pain was the bottle. He grabbed a long bottle that smelt of old whiskey and smashed it. The bottom of the bottle smashed into hundreds of pieces. The handle and jagged mid-section remained. Grady opened his teethed eye wide. An epiphany should have settled in now. Grady’s eyes were wide with clarity, but he never stood a chance. Grady furiously jammed the sharp bottle into his eye repeatedly, ten times, twenty, and fifty, than one hundred times. The blood painted the room red. Grady collapsed onto the floor. He ran his index finger through his red bodily fluid and scrawled a note.

The coroner had taken a black and white picture of the note for evidence. The note that Grady left had read,

The pain has ended.

The coroner found only one set of teeth in Grady that day, and right where they were supposed to be, in his mouth.

By Joshua Ryan


Little Deaths

You awaken the second the alarm clock goes off, and the following one you start wishing you hadn’t, for that’s when the hangovers set in, as if your body suddenly remembers it has good reason to punish you. It’s not the usual little deathskind of hangover you get from knocking back a dozen cans of Bud, but the truly torturous kind, the kind that means business, the vodka-wine-and-weed kind that makes your brain feel like it has been shook loose from the nerves and wiring in your head and now floats around freely in the cephalic fluids inside your skull. You reach out a hand to shut the alarm up, and who you are settles back into place amidst the first tumultuous thoughts of the day and the fragments of memories from the night before.
You are Tony Burrell, 43, divorced homicide detective living in a cramped apartment above a liquor store in downtown L.A. The location is convenient when you are an alcoholic, which, let’s face it, you are.
Apparently, in last night’s drunken stupor you didn’t quite make it into your bed, and so you slept fully dressed, among all the empty bottles and cans that surround you like onlookers at a traffic accident.
It’s Monday morning and you should have clocked in down at the MCU an hour ago.
At least you won’t need to waste time excavating clean clothes from the piles that are sprawled around the floor of the bedroom, you think as you straighten your tie. It’s been more than a year since there was anyone in your life that would complain about the blotches of dried sweat in the armpits of your shirt or the smell of a strange woman’s perfume on your collar. Nowadays, the name Veronica is but a faint memory, a name you vaguely recall once meant something to you.
Nowadays, a trucker-shower and some coffee is all you need to get set.
Except you decide you need a good wank to kick-start your system and speed up the recovery process. Besides, being hung over always puts you in the mood to watch some fine young thing getting destroyed by a big cock.

You stagger into the living room and let your 210 lb. corpus sink down into the office chair that’s parked in front of the cabinet of your house-altar; the NCR PC, with the clunky white and gray monitor that was state of the art in the early nineties, and who has been your only lover since Veronica abandoned your sinking ship.
You switch on the machine, and as the screen informs you it’s loading your settings, you expectantly unzip your pants and start fondling yourself.
For the last couple of months your consumption of internet pornography has undergone somewhat of a change. The normal gangbang scenarios and threesomes and lesbian scenes that you used to get off to, seem to have mysteriously lost some, if not all, of their allure. It’s just not enough anymore. For some reason, images from the murder scenes you have been investigating in the past have begun to pop into your head when you’re spending quality time with yourself, and though at first you shunned them and tried to shut them out, boredom and hornyness eventually got the better of you and you began indulging in them. Maybe that’s what you need now, you think as you click open Internet Explorer. Something more intense than the normal vanilla…
Every click you make with the mouse brings you, almost unconsciously, as if you were following a train of associations, further into the dark underbelly of the internet.
It doesn’t take long before you see links that advertise ”forced sex”, ”extreme rape scenarios” and even ”death fetishes.” And it’s working. It gets you turned on. Lust wells up inside you and pushes away any vestige of shame or guilt. The ”Necro-babes” really do the trick…
Just as you’re getting ready to climax, and you reach for the faithful box of Kleenex next to the computer, the screen suddenly chokes on pop-ups and adds that keeps opening and opening like flowers sprouting images of perversion.
A cacophony of screams, moans and crying pour out of your loudspeakers like recordings from hell itself.
Shit, you think. The computer must have gotten a virus of some kind. You reach for the mouse to close the program, and that’s when you notice the young woman who’s staring directly out at you from the red, green and blue quivering of the picture tube.
The site is called ”The Choke Chamber” and it brazenly promises ”One Death Per Video!”.
The preview video shows a young woman – no, not a woman, a girl you think and swallow – naked, surrounded by a gang of men in a tiled, dimly lit room that could be a prison shower or some other cesspool of humanity somewhere. One of the men, his face strategically obscured by shadows, is fucking the girl while his hands are clenched around the girls throat, shaking her and choking her like a ragdoll.
Tears stream from her frightened eyes and mix with the blood from her busted nose. She’s screaming, telling the man to stop, and it’s just too much for you.
You turn the whole computer off, but not before you catch a glimpse of the words that appeared on the screen in just that moment:
Then the screen goes black with a disappointed burp.
Your heart is hammering in your chest like a drum at a heavy metal concert, and suddenly the smell of perfume on your shirt is making you nauseous. It’s been a long time since you’ve had to throw up, but you are starting to consider it, when your phone rings in your shirt pocket.
”Hello,” you manage to gasp as you answer it, but your voice sounds hoarse and frightened.
”Christ, Burrell,” the testy voice at the other end growls, and you can almost imagine your partner Manoli with his shaved head and the moustache that straddles his upper lip like a big fat slug.
”Did I wake you ?” he asks.
You tell him that no, it’s fine, you were just on your way.
”Get your fat ass down to the corner of 51st and Ellis then. By the public toilets. We found a body,” he says and hangs up.

The sounds that greet you at the crime scene are those of cameras flashing and the hushed creaking of the forensics scientists’ rubber gloves. You know they are meticulously combing the scene for strands of hair and stray fibers, and will soon start dusting for fingerprints.
”Christ, Burrell,” Manoli says again and spits out his greeting along with an impressive gob of snot that lands on the floor, as if he was disgusted by the mere sight of you.
”I don’t care what you do with your time off, but at least have the common decency to shower once in a while. You reek,” he hisses and screws up his face as you duck past him under the yellow tape and enter the crime scene.
”Fuck you, Manoli,” you say, knowing well that even though the Italian is a dickhead who never gets tired of busting your balls, he has covered for you all those times you’ve come in late, and even when you’ve had to call in sick because you were too drunk to stand up. And he’s right – about the perfume. It seems to stick to you and follow you around. You should have changed before you came. You will never hear the end of the lewd jokes from the other officers.
As you approach the body that’s lying on the floor, you catch a glimpse of your reflection in one of the dirt streaked mirrors on the wall. You look like five miles of bad road, and the cold death-green junkie light doesn’t exactly improve it. The words of Charles Bukowski when he described himself as unfit for the beach because his ”skin was white and his teeth were brown,” spring to mind.
Fuck it, you think and turn your attention to the body. That’s when you recognize the girl from the pop-up add earlier, and your heart starts to pound in your ears again, and you feel perspiration form along your brow.
Her skin is the color of broken porcelain except for her throat which is a hideous hotchpotch of black and blue.
”There’s no traces of blood except for in the immediate vicinity of the body,” a forensics scientist chewing gum that smells of peppermint informs you as he crouches down to snap pictures of the girl’s exposed crotch.
”She was killed somewhere else and dumped here. No trace of her clothes either.”
”Do we know the cause of death?” you ask.
”We’re guessing asphyxiation. Beaten pretty badly too. Soon as we get her down to the lab we’ll know more of course,” chewing-gum tells you.
The feeling of guilt rises inside you like a bilious eructation that forces you to squint.
Manoli sidles up next to you, and with his usual delicacy says; ”Gathering some good masturbation material for later, huh?”
You fight down the urge to punch him. After all, it’s not him you’re mad at.
”Well, you’re lucky cause you’re gonna get to know her really well, partner. I’m up to my ears in the Weinstien case so you’re gonna have to pull the weight on this one.” He slaps your shoulder, mock-cordially.
”I’m sure you two’ll get along fine,” he nods in the direction of the dead girl. ”It’s too bad she’s all cold and stiff otherwise I wouldn’t mind throwing a good fuck into her myself!”
Manoli heaves up his pants and laughs at his own wit. The words get stuck in your teeth as they grind.

While you wait for forensics to come back with an ID on your Jane Doe, you go to the deli on the corner to get a club sandwich, but it makes your stomach flip and you abandon it in a trashcan on the way back to the station.
Jane Doe ceases to be Jane Doe when her name turns out to be Isis Westerman, which strikes you as an odd name. You don’t actually think you’ve ever met anyone with that name before. Yet somehow, there is something familiar about it, as if you must have heard it before.
A quick Google search reveals that Isis was the name of the Egyptian goddess of fate and fertility. The wife of Osiris and mother to horus, the domains associated with her was births, family life and general welfare.
After the death of her husband by the hands of her evil brother Seth, she became known as the mourning widow and mother goddess.
Isis Westerman.
Somehow these associations that dovetail with her name make the whole thing worse, and this unknown woman, this lifeless face who has become imbued with an unsettling portentousness now haunts you when you lean back in your chair and close your eyes.
The real Isis Westerman would never start a family or give birth to a child.
Isis Westerman.
She is dead and it is your job to find whoever did it.
Outside, the sky is the color of Isis Westerman’s throat, and sure enough, before you park outside the tenement house that was her last address, the clouds have started weeping disconsolately.
The landlady who lets you into the building is a frail old creature with wisps of hair like a thistle that has run to seed. She tells you her name is Mrs. Hanover. She is visibly saddened to hear the news of her former tenant.
”She was such a nice girl,” Mrs. Hanover sighs and makes a tsk-sound as she leans against her broom and stares at the raindrops trailing down the windowpane.
”Poor as a church mouse but always with a smile on her face all the same. I can show you her room if you’d like?” she offers and leads you up a creaking set of stairs to a door that carries Isis Westerman’s name on a disposable sticker by the doorbell. It will soon be torn off and be replaced with another’s name, you think to yourself.
The apartment is small and sparsely furnished. You notice the flowers in the windowsill that are dying now there is no one to water them. The mirror framed with photos of Liza Minnelli and Sophia Loren and a bunch of other movie stars you don’t know the names of. The eye-liner and the lipgloss and the cotton sticks on the dressing table in front of it. The blow-dryer and the small collection of paperbacks. Post-it notes with motivational catch-phrases like ”You don’t get what you deserve but what you expect!” and ”Smile at the world and it will smile back!” strategically placed on the inside of the door to be the last thing Isis would see every time she left the room.
Those are the only things left behind to prove there was ever a person named Isis Westerman who lived and took up a little space in the world.
You run through the usual questions, did she have a boyfriend, anyone come to visit her, what kind of company did she keep and so on, while you peruse the earthly belongings of Isis Westerman. Mrs. Hanover answers all your questions with despondent shakes of her head.
”She wanted to be an actress,” the landlady suddenly volunteers.
”That’s why she came here. She said she was gonna be a famous actress and star in real Hollywood movies. I don’t think she ever had much luck with it though.”
You said a mouthful there lady, you think, and for a moment you feel like laughing hysterically.
You drive home, and still the name Isis Westerman is ringing in your head.

As you climb the stairs to your apartment that night you hear the sounds spilling from your room before you can even see the front door.
Too loud, you think. Fucking hell, what will the neighbors be thinking.
You rush into your apartment and into the cold light of pixels dancing in depraved constellations on your computer screen. Screams and moans from a hundred vile pornographic websites greet you mockingly.
The pop-up from ”The Choke Chamber” returns as you walk towards the computer, and again you are forced to watch as the life is being choked from Isis Westerman’s body.
You realize you are crying and what a strange, bittersweet sensation that is.
You reach out for the mouse to force quit Internet Explorer, but nothing happens, the screen seems to be frozen and doesn’t react no matter what button you click.
You feel like the screams are reaching out to strangle you with invisible hands, tears stream from your eyes and you feel sick to your stomach. You just know you have to make it stop, so you drop to your knees and fumble for what seems an eternity in the darkness under the table before you find the main power chord which you yank from its socket with all the force of your self-hatred.
And still the sounds and images keep spilling into your apartment.
No, no, it’s impossible you think and shake your head in disbelief. This is a nightmare. You get back up on shaking legs and stagger away from the convulsing, writhing images of flesh and blood that fill the screen.
As you reach for your gun the pounding of your heart almost drowns out all the other sounds, like a fever beating your brain, ten times worse than the hangovers now, and then, as you train the gun at the screen you realize, impossibly, that it’s not your own heartbeat you are hearing.
The gunshot kills the noise and blows the backing off the monitor in a shower of glass and plastic.
For a moment all you hear is the ringing in your ears, but then, as the smoke clears from the ruin of the screen, the sound of the heartbeat returns, growing louder and louder now, till you feel like your head might explode, and behind the jagged teeth of broken glass and the wires that dangle like entrails inside the monitor, you see a beating, bleeding human heart, dilating and contracting obscenely to the sound of the beat.
That’s when, like one of the wretched souls in the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, you take to the streets, screaming and crying, still holding the smoking gun in your hand.

You find your way to the only place left to go. The warehouse down by the docks where the discreet sign on the mailbox gives away the location of ”Black & Blue Studios Ltd.”. You stagger past the wire fence like a wrecked, drunken crow, your trench coat fluttering around you like broken wings and the rain and your tears soaking you to the bone.
You tear the gate to the old warehouse building open and it makes a sound like a dying scream.
You step into the room, and even though it lies shrouded in darkness you know all too well what it looks like. Maybe once it was nothing but some storage room meant for the housing of containers and crates, but you know that someone has turned it into hell on earth. You know the floor is tiled and that there is a drain in the corner. You know there are projectors for when they shoot the movies standing around like blackened skeletons somewhere in the dark.
You are startled when someone hits a switch at the far end of the room and the fluorescent tubes above you come on with a series of hard, spastic flashes. The light bares the room in all its crude, stained whiteness, and reveals the man who is walking towards you from a door at the other end of the room.
His latex costume creaks and belches as he strides slowly to the center of the hall where he stops.
”I wondered when I was going to see you again,” the director says. Even coming from behind the zipper-grin of the latex masks, every word is as clear and sharp as if cut in ice. He pronounces every syllable carefully in the manner of an educated man, and you get the feeling he could be smiling, maybe slightly amused, behind the expressionless black mask.
You can see your own reflection thrown back at you like a bad joke from the one-way glass of the goggles that hide his eyes. Not a sliver of skin is visible anywhere on his body to reveal if there is human flesh beneath the shiny material.
The bizarre horns that protrude from his head make him look like an old fertility god, the evil twin of the horned god Pan.
You swallow hard, trying to choke down your fear but it sticks in your throat.
”I need to know. Did you…” you begin to say, but your voice fails you.
”Our clientele has very specific preferences,” the director says.
”You could say they like a certain… conclusiveness in their entertainment.”
”Besides,” he says and makes a casual flapping motion with one hand that makes his costume creak, ”what do you care? She was just merchandise.”
Again you get the feeling hen is mocking you, and almost without thinking, you raise your gun and aim it at him.
”You didn’t have to kill her!” you shout and are almost surprised at how righteous your anger sounds.
”Oh Tony,” the director says, ”You’d already killed her. You killed her the moment you laid your hands on her.”
And then he has the nerve to turn his back on you as if you posed no threat at all. He starts walking away from you while your gun is still aimed at him.
Your hands are shaking and tears are blurring your vision and you are trying to decide if you should pull the trigger or not when a whiff of perfume hits your nostrils. A familiar smell that has clung to you since last night.
You sense movement in the corner of your eye, and then she puts her spectral hands over yours. You turn your head, and Isis Westerman smiles at you with eyes that though long since bereft of life still display a strange sorrowful understanding.
And as she guides your hands with the gun up, remembrance speeds through the neural pathways of your brain with the speed of lightning.
The intoxicating feeling of closing your hands around her throat. The smell of her perfume and of sweat and blood and tears mixing while the cameras lapped up every filthy second of it like lustful dogs. And most of all, the feeling of flesh against flesh.
And wasn’t there a moment, in that hazy, lascivious nightmare, where your eyes met hers, and you both recognized something – how similar you were perhaps, both made of flesh and bone and hope – and wasn’t there, in that moment, a glimpse of something like empathy on both sides, maybe even a hope that you could be forgiven and that Isis Westerman could find peace?
And guided by her soothing hands you put the barrel of the gun between your teeth. You see her smile through the veil of your own tears and then you press the trigger and there is nothing.

By L. V. Kramhoeft


Bloody Party

Your metallic sweet taste
drips from my mouth,
down your neck,
between your breasts,
and over your hipspto pool around
naked feet.

My bite, an aphrodisiac,
as you moan in my embrace
while my teeth sink deep
into veins drawing
life into my own.

Your river of red flows, it travels
pulsates, it beats, a rhythm
keeping time to a force where
I now control its course.

Slower, fainter, weaker.

You gasp in ecstasy at your
perfect death.

I lay you aside,
and move on to the next,
after all this is my party
and I must attend to all
my guests.

By Philip Wardlow


3rd Place for The Crimson Skull Short Story Contest: Wrath of Age by Len Kuntz

halloween kid
Ricky wasn’t evil, just desperate like the rest of us. He said we’d do it on Halloween. Said there’d be lots of blood. Said we’d be swimming in it. And because we wanted to believe him, because we were entirely thrilled by the idea, we went along with his plan.

This was in another time, a dark and disturbing future where world order was a localized treachery overseen by groups of so-called Elders.

Years and years before, the adults had stopped aging and we had, too. You were either the older age you were when the virus hit or you were young and stayed that way. At first our gang felt regal, being ensured eternal youth, but then we realized there were things older people enjoyed that we did not, entitlements that came with being a fully-realized grownup. Then the Elders grew jealous and cast us out. Not only that, but their envy became saturated with hatred. Slave traders sometimes used us in make-shift dog fights. The Constable and his cronies often scoured the woods, shooting in the dark and howling whenever one of us got hit and screamed. Food was what we could scrounge in the forest. We were young, but because of our youth we lived like savage animals.

At some point, a rumor went around that adult blood could be a tonic to thwart our predicament, freeing us from our constipated maturation. In the beginning it was just like the hopeful folklore we’d revisit around a campfire. But then Eddie Jarvis said that, years back, his Dad had got a nosebleed beating while him and, when Eddie inadvertently smeared some blood on his own hand, a change occurred. He showed us his old man hands, skin sagging by the knuckles, green veins bulging like string beans. My mouth watered at the sight. We couldn’t help but be jealous.

Ricky said, “Do you remember Halloween?” We remembered Christmas and Thanksgiving and even Easter but no one recalled Halloween until Ricky started to recount the holiday and how it worked, kids Trick-or-Treating freely in the neighborhoods. It seemed like a fantasy at first, the shroud of a shared dream we might have had, but once the details were described we recalled how it had been our favorite night, the dress-up part of it, the scads and scads of candy.

“They must have fucked with our memories,” Ricky said.

“Wouldn’t even let us have that,” someone said.

“Not even that.”

“When was Halloween?”

“In May, I think.”

“No,” someone said, “August.”

“Had to have been fall,” Ricky said. “I remember it got dark early. I remember it was cold and there were leaves on the ground.”

“Then when was it?”

No one knew.

Ricky beat his fists on the stones surrounding the fire pit, making the flames dance even more jaggedly. Blood spit into the fire and the fire hissed back and someone squealed and someone else starting dancing a jig, and before long we were all dancing like the barbarians we were thought to be.

When we were too exhausted to go on, we fell to the ground and lay there until Ricky shot up and shouted, “October 31st! That’s when Halloween was.”

“What’s the date now?”

We all watched Ricky concentrate. He rubbed his bloody hand across his cheeks as he thought, creating long red bolts on his skin. The image sent a shiver through me.

“It’s October 30th.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do. And you know what else I know?”

It might not have been precisely Halloween. Time—days, months, years—was something we never tracked since we assumed age was irrelevant. But it felt like Halloween. It felt wonderfully wicked.

That night, our October 31st, we traveled as a vicious pack. We were make-believe killers intent on real and certain bloodshed. For costumes, we relied on the evil we knew best, replicating our favorite demons: Samara from “The Ring;” Michael Myers from “Halloween;” Jason Voorhees from “Friday The 13th;” and me, Freddy Krueger, my face made up like rotting bologna, my hands fitted with syringe fingertips. I poked myself in the knee and watched a wound open up like a bleeding eye. Perfect.

If this worked, word would get around and by next year there’d be no more ragtag orphans living in the woods. The thought pleased me as none had. I didn’t want to be anyone’s hero, but I was also fed up with just being ostracized because of my youth.

The neighborhoods were dimly lit and mostly deserted, what with there being no kids around other than us. It felt eerie and exhilarating to be roaming them after so long. Inside the homes, through the drapery, we could see Elders seated on their sofas watching television. I was already angry, but to become more enraged, I jagged a spike through my knee. Ricky was looking, and when I yelped, he said, “That a boy, Fred.”

The first house belonged to Slater, a Chemistry teacher who used to ogle girls and let his hand linger on a girl’s while collecting homework. Samara slit his throat with a meat saw blade and Slater’s head dangled like a grizzly melon, a few stubborn tendons not letting go.

Next was the Constable. He tried to make a run for it, but Eddie stuck a screwdriver through his forehead and it popped like champagne. Eddie drove another shot deep into the man’s chest and that time it sounded meaty. A glob of pulp stuck to the end of the screwdriver as it was withdrawn. When the Constable flopped over, we angled his gushing spigot so that the blood poured into the jug we’d brought along.

I took my stepfather’s corneas out with my switchblade fingers and watched the egg-shaped eyeballs wiggle around his crimson splattered boots, recalling the times he’d kick me for not fetching his Coors fast enough. Blood washed in my stepfather’s flapping mouth. He gurgled something that sounded as if he was speaking Ukrainian or baby gibberish. I dipped my head and let his blood rain down on my hair.

The store-owner who used to take our order but never give us change back got hacked in half. It took four swings of a machete but it was worth it. I almost expected his two halves to try scurrying away and was somewhat disappointed when they didn’t. Still his Persian rug was flooded with scarlet in seconds.

For hours and hours we slaughtered. Did we feel guilty? No. We thought of ourselves as young “Dexter” types, justified vigilantes, killers killing the worst of our depraved society.

When we were finally through, we had enough blood to fill the shallow end of the public swimming pool. Under a bloated moon, we stripped naked and skinny dipped. The blood was thick and lumpy in places. We held our breath and went under. We held hands like a group of sky-divers. When we came to the surface we were each choking with laughter, blinded momentarily.

It happened faster than any of us expected. My body started to twist and crumple, bones going brittle. I cleared away the coating of blood from my eyes and saw that Eddie had turned ancient with a long, blood-matted hillbilly beard that continued to grow. Ricky looked like a bloody Confucius, only scrawny. When he saw me and the rest of us, he screamed, “Make it stop!”

We leapt out of the pool, but it was too late. At this rate, we’d be dead in a minute’s time.

“What do we do?”

Our weapons lay in a heap. I grabbed the machete and started swinging. The others did the same. It was a blizzard of blood, wetter than any monsoon. And still we swung. We swung until it was over and we were nothing more than ovaries and semen.

By Len Kuntz


2nd Place for The Crimson Skull Short Story Contest: Witch Hunt by Philip Wardlow

The grave5:20 pm Oct 31st:

The old man slowly climbed down off the backhoe he was on. The ground was slightly sloped and with the grass still wet from a mid-day rain, he slipped. If not for the headstone sticking out of the ground nearby to catch him he would have surely went down flat on his fat ass for sure. Not that his fat ass was that far from the ground to begin with standing only five foot-three inches tall. He had lived with being short for almost eighty years but still, he had hated it his whole life.
Besides his height, Mitch hated a lot of things too long to list. He hated people who looked you in the eye and smiled when they secretly wanted to say “fuck you”. “Well fuck you too.” he would yell at them. This usually left them wondering what they had done wrong to incur such wrath as he walked away grumbling to himself.
What he hated most of all was being out here in this god forsaken cemetery on Halloween where it was cold, damp and windy as hell, digging a fucking hole in the ground. The sun had just set and the last of the warmth he had gotten from it had long left his bones. But what could he do, he thought. She had him by the balls and she wasn’t letting go. A year ago to the day he knew he would be here tonight digging her ass up. He remembered the feeling of the curse settling on him like a damn heavy itchy woolen blanket as soon as she was placed into the ground at the funeral. Fucking bitch.
Mitch reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his flashlight and showed it on the dirt encrusted wooden box he had just unearthed.
“Just after sunset and not a moment before”, that was one of the rules she had told him long ago, almost beating into him at the time. It hadn’t been easy but he had pulled the damn coffin out of the ground. Even with the back hoe it felt like pulling a damn tick out of your belly button.
He untied all the lifting straps on the coffin attached to the back-hoe and flung them off to the ground. He worked fast as he waddled his way around the coffin with crowbar in hand wrenching open all the clasps along the side of the coffin holding the lid shut tight. Mitch threw out multiple expletives at the last clasp on the lid that was being a bitch and not wanting to break. With a snap and a final almost shouted “fuck” to the nighttime air the clasp gave way. He stepped back and wiped the sweat from his forehead breathing heavily with a hand on the coffin to support himself.
“Scritch…Scritch.” The vibration of her nails raking the coffin from the inside ran up his arm that still rested on the lid. Mitch shivered at what was coming.
“Hold your fucking panties, I’m coming…you think this is easy.” You’re already dead what do you know about pain any fucking more, he thought to himself. Taking a deep breath in, Mitch fitted the crowbar in between the lid and the main bed of the coffin and pushed down on it to pry it up.
He pushed and pushed until he thought he would burst a vein in his neck. Slowly it gave way, inch by slow fucking inch the lid began to release its clammy hold. He was getting too old for this shit. The lid suddenly shot upwards as he received help from the occupant inside. He fell backwards and this time there was no headstone to stop his fat ass from falling. He rolled like a bulbous white onion with legs and arms on the cold wet ground as he tried to get back to his feet.
Mitch had managed to prop himself onto his hands and knees at the same time he saw a face suddenly appear from over the edge of the coffin to look at him with one milky grey eye hanging in a droopy redlined socket. The other eye was just a dead blank hollow hole starting at him. Her face was less of a face and more of grotesque piece of art. The closest description he could muster into his head would be if you were to tear someone’s face off and put it into a blender and turn it to whip and then take it out and try to stick it back onto the same skull. The skin hung in splotchy blood congealed threads of goopy flesh in various states of decay all over her face. This wasn’t her best day you might say.
Like a snail she oozed and crawled her way out of the coffin over to him, leaving a trail of human mucus that dripped and leaked from various parts of her body. Long black thin hairs sprouted and clung to a mostly bald head which was covered by a thin layer of mottled skin with her skull showing through in parts. Her one “good” eye in her head never stopped staring at him as she crawled towards him. How could she put herself through this every time? Apparently the benefits outweighed the one year of hell of being buried underground to fulfill the course of the spell. Mitch knew he had longer to go this night. The horror had just begun.
Soon she was face to face with him as he knelt there. She reached up and violently grabbed his head with her hands digging her nails deep into his scalp. Blood poured down the sides of his head.
“Fuck!” he yelled and closed his eyes.
She pulled herself in closer and he could feel the sandpaper touch of her dried dead tongue start to lick the blood from the wounds she had inflicted upon his bald head. She ran her mouth all over around his ears and down his neck. She didn’t miss a drop as her tongue darted in out of his ear to lap up the blood that had collected there. His skin prickled at every flick of her tongue.
“Be done all fucking ready!” He yelled at her as he continued to kneel on the ground.
“Sileeence” Her voice came out like tires skidding on a pebbled road. She was already coming back, he thought.
“More, mooore, need more.” He jerked out of her grasp hearing that, recalling the last time she had said that and how she had almost killed him.
Mitch rolled himself to his feet away her from. I’m still a spry motherfucker you won’t be getting me that easily you bitch of a witch.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s waiting for you in the car. Wake up that dead brain of yours and remember that you’ve got only a short window of time here tonight…we’ve got till midnight. It’s time to go trick-or-treating.” Mitch shined his flashlight on her face. Her face looked the same except her one good eye had lost its white milky color and was now a bright sky blue. She looked at him with it with all the intensity of a rabid dog.
“Follow me to the car.” Mitch didn’t look back as he walked away from her down the hill.
The girl was tied up in his back seat like a pig to market and naked as the day she was born. He passed the smell of ammonia under her nose and she started awake. She stared at him like a scared wide-eyed little doe with duct tape over her mouth. She was a pretty young thing, not more than twenty-three or so with long brown curly hair. She always liked them to be young women, never a man, she said it sped up her revival and the blood always tasted sweeter. All he knew was that she had a nice body. If his pecker still worked, he might have had a little fun with her before bringing her out here, but business was business, and a dead dick was a dead dick, forget that Viagra shit.
He left the car’s back door open and got into the front seat of the driver’s side. He shut and locked his own door tight and waited for the bitch to crawl her ass over to the car. Mitch had installed a cage and a Plexiglas window to separate the back seat from the front so he wasn’t worried. He had learned from previous times how the witch could be when she first woke from her long dead sleep. Basically she was hungry, very fucking hungry.

6:05 pm Oct 31st:

She didn’t take as long as he had expected. He saw her out his side mirror almost to his bumper crawling on all fours at a pretty quick clip towards the car. Mitch guessed his old blood had done the trick for her. In the rear view mirror he could see the young girl’s eyes get even bigger as she tried to yell through her duct tape and kick herself away from what she saw crawling towards her through the open door of the car. The girl was belted in tight, she wasn’t going anywhere. The car shook as the witch crawled in on top of the naked girl and went to town on her. What a waste of a perfectly good body. Oh well. Mitch quickly got out and slammed the back door shutting it on them both. He jumped back in the car as fast as his fat legs could carry him and started it up and roared through the cemetery and onto the neighborhood nearby he had picked out ahead of time.
Time to hunt, this wasn’t any old grab and go like a fat man at a buffet. The witch was very selective about who she killed for her parts. The lucky girl in the back was just a snack or better yet, an energy bar.
Mitch looked in the rearview mirror and saw the window separating him from the back seat was splattered with blood and other bits and pieces of the young girl’s body he didn’t want to think about. He could barely make out what was going on through the haze of red but the girl didn’t seem to be putting up a fight anymore, in fact she looked pretty much dead. His mistress continued to munch away. Her head was bent low into the backseat as it moved up and down as if gnawing on something. A leg bone perhaps? The long drawn out sound of slurping came from the back as if one were drinking a milkshake through a straw. The cracking of bones filled his ears while the sweet scent of marrow touched his nose as he continued to drive.
Mitch turned onto the street he had selected; a nice little suburb neighborhood packed tight with houses. Some were grand colonials with high peaked roofs; others were ranch styled units with attached garages or squat little gabled homes with actual little white picket fences decorating the front yards. The street was thick with kids running up and down it, and on occasion crossing in front of him to either side of the street with or without parents in tow to get to the next house. Massive oak trees also lined both sides of the street with their branches only half full of their fall brown foliage. The street was darker than it should have been, for the trees engulfed the meager lights upon their posts set high in the air. The porch lights on every house cast only a feeble glow into the night as they cast shadows everywhere. Perfect.

7:00 pm Oct 31st:

Knock… Knock. “Trick or treat!” Mitch’s knees hurt something awful and his back was starting to act up. This had been the twentieth house already and the witch still hadn’t sniffed anyone out yet. Once he had to stop the witch from grabbing a little toddler dressed as a pumpkin out of his mother’s stroller and eating her like tater tot. Not that he cared about the kid in the slightest but it was best to not attract that kind of attention just yet. The witch stood in front of him, hunched over, swaying back and forth at the closed door staring dully up at it waiting for it to open. He was betting she was getting impatient as well.
The door opened to the house and a woman of about thirty-something holding a big bowl of candy in her arms and wearing a broad smile showed herself at the door. She wore a red dress lined in white at the sleeves and neck, and had fake freckles dotting her face and bright red hair in tight curls on her head; he guessed she was supposed to be Annie from that musical. Mitch fucking hated Little Orphan Annie.
“My, my, what do we have here? Don’t you look scary little girl, that’s very good makeup. Is this your grandfather with you dear?” The woman looked to him expectedly for an answer. Mitch didn’t get a chance to answer for the witch launched herself at the woman. The witch’s momentum carried both her and the bad Annie look-a-like back into her own house to fall crashing to the floor inside.
Mitch quickly crossed the threshold to the inside stepping over the bowl and candy that littered the landing and the front steps of the house. He slammed the door shut on two kids dressed as pirates who had been approaching the house. He heard the children’s excited exclamations behind the door at seeing the candy covering the front stoop. He found the lights for the front porch and flicked them off. Candy’s all gone.
Mitch turned to look at the witch’s first prize on her list. For all the gruesomeness of the scene, he found himself curious at what the witch planned on plucking out of the woman to eat. She had already punched a fist into the woman’s abdomen and was digging her way up between her ribcage with her arm. She was in up to her elbow inside Little Orphan Annie trying to reach for something…gallbladder…lung …a heart? Blood was fast pooling around them both on the wood floor. Mitch’s eyes were drinking it all in as he stood transfixed.
Mitch saw the head of the woman roll back in forth limply on the floor with every jerk the witch gave her in her frenzy to get to the magical piece of flesh inside of her. Little Orphan Annie’s eyes were wide open and glazed over with death looking at nothing around the living room of her home and leaking tears from each corner which streaked down her face. Mitch never knew a dead person could cry.
Mitch heard a strange sound come from inside the woman. Like a well rooted tree being ripped from the earth. The witch stood up and did a dance slipping in the blood a little in her tattered, moldy & blood soaked black printed dress she had been buried in. He saw in her left hand held tight was the woman’s blood soaked heart trailing veins and artery which reached to the floor pulled from the woman’s body.
The bloodied witch tipped her head back and in one gulp consumed the entire heart along with the trails connected, slurping the last bit like strands of spaghetti noodles into her mouth. The witch fell to her knees and went into convulsions. Suddenly, her body went deathly still while the spell began to take hold. The process for healing was slow in the beginning; it took a bitch of a time for her body to take on the piece she had eaten. It was a powerful spell but still weak in many ways. The number of pieces and type were always different he remembered. Over the next couple of hours Mitch saw hair grow in full upon her head to a shiny raven black down her back. The muscles on her back and shoulders became more pronounced while her bones faded back into her body underneath new skin. Mitch could see her slowly breathing now, in and out as she kneeled upon the floor, head down with her black hair cascading over her face hiding it from him. She should be coming out of it soon. With each successive piece the process would be quicker he knew; same as it had been from the last two times.

9:13 pm Oct 31st:

“Two pieces left.” he heard the witch say to no one as she continued to kneel on the floor in the pool of blood with her head still bent.
Mitch walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder.
“Why do you touch me you fat old slob of a man? You don’t deserve to touch me anymore.” She stood up effortlessly, knocking his hand away at the same time. She slowly removed her dress in the middle of the dead woman’s living room and stood naked before him looking at him with an evil grin. She looked at him with one good eye while the other was still a dead socket hanging now on a very young pretty face.
“What must it feel like to know you will never have this body again?” She ran both her hands down over her naked body, fondling her own breasts, and running them down to caress her nice wide hips to finish by lightly dipping a single finger between her legs into which she then brought to her mouth to playfully wrap her blood tinged pouty lips around.
If not for her missing an eye and the bloody scene he found himself surrounded in, he thought he could almost feel something in his pants start to tingle. She always knew how to push his buttons.
“Fuck you bitch….this is the last time. I’m too old for this shit anymore. I don’t want your witch whore of a body or your money anymore…I’m tired. I got you this far, now go find the rest of the damn pieces for yourself.” He looked at her defiantly gripping his flashlight tight in hand.
“Well, well when did you grow a back bone when I wasn’t looking?” She walked towards him slowly and he took a step back. Mitch couldn’t help but watch her tits as they jiggled towards him.
She grabbed him by the neck with one of her hands and slammed him against the wall. She towered over him even though she only stood about a couple inches taller.
“You were pathetic at seventeen when I found you, and you’re still just as pathetic. You didn’t have a problem fucking me back then. You made all the promises in the world to me just to crawl between my legs. When you were forty-eight and I came back, your dick practically jumped out of your pants. Now here you at eighty-three and you don’t even know you have a dick.” The witch grabbed him by the balls with her free hand and made a tight fist.
“One thing is correct. I don’t need you anymore, there are others who can help me, there are always others. Besides you would just slow me down now and times a wastin…you stay here though. I’ve got a reward for all your years of service that you don’t want to miss, and stay you will for my compulsion still holds you until midnight.” She released her grip on his throat and his balls. She walked slowly over to what looked like a closet near the front door, pulled out a small jacket, put it on and left.

11:05 pm Oct 31st:

Mitch had fallen asleep against the wall where she had left him and would have been asleep still if not for the front door bursting inward and shattering the frame into a thousand splinters.
“Fucking piece of shit neighborhood, I only needed one more piece tonight.” The witch walked through the door dragging a little blonde girl of about eight years old by the scruff of the neck. She wasn’t wearing a costume but pink pajamas with feet.
“Had to grab this little shit out of bed. I’m glad I got a good nose now, else I never would’ve smelled her. Mitch meet Molly, Molly meet Mitch, she’s got something I want but I wanted you to partake in the festivities seeing as how this is your last hurrah with me.” She smiled at him and winked with the eye that still wasn’t there.
The little girl started bawling and the witch backhanded her in an offhanded way and she went flying across the room to land in a heap. She wasn’t crying anymore. The little girl’s neck seemed to be at an unnatural angle as she lay there.
“Shut up already!” the witch walked over and grabbed the little girl’s left leg and tore the pajamas apart at the seam to reveal her naked leg. She pulled the little girl’s foot out and bit into it, crunching down hard. The witch pulled back from the girl’s foot and Mitch saw it was minus a big toe now. The witch continued to chew it. To Mitch it sounded like she was eating an ice cube. She made a final gulping noise then convulsed a little like she had done before and then fell silent, standing up right with her head down once again. It shouldn’t be too long now since this was the last piece. So he waited like he knew he had to.

11: 55 pm Oct 31st:

“What time is it?” her head snapped up suddenly from resting on her chest.

“11:55…you were out longer than I expected.” Mitch looked at her closely.
“Your eye..it’s still missing.” Mitch said

“I need one final piece to complete the spell and you have the piece I need.” She moved toward him.

Mitch backed up a step from her. “I thought you only did women?”

“I’ve had your piece picked out for quite some time Mitch. You will complete the spell and I will live for another thirty-three years in this body, perfect and beautiful just as before. So let me have your eye, your lovely right eye calls to me to eat it. I will be whole again. I compel you to come to me. I do not need to chase you Mitch. Come to me. Now. ” she hissed at him through bared teeth.

11:57 pm Oct 31st:

Mitch felt her inside of him pushing him, tugging him towards her. His feet moved towards under some other power but his own.

“NO! I’m not giving you the satisfaction bitch!” Mitch punched his fingers into his right eye cavity and violently grabbed it with his fingers and yanked at his eye as hard as he could. A blinding explosion filled his brain and white hot pain stabbed the back of his head.

He fought to stay conscious as he pulled out his eye completely and stuffed into his mouth. Hit bit into it and chewed furiously. He tasted a sweet warm gelatinous liquid fill his mouth. He swallowed, feeling the bits and pieces slide down his throat. Through all the pain he looked triumphantly over to the witch with an evil smirk.

“What are you gonna do now bitch? Times up.”

11:59 pm Oct 31st:

“Oh, did I say the right eye I meant the left.” She smiled at him.

“Shit.” Mitch simply said.

She came at him and all went dark.

By Philip Wardlow


Runner Up for The Crimson Skull Short Story Contest: A New Rose, A Rabid Fugue State by Peter Marra

Trick r Treat

“Time. Sweat. I shiver.
Continuous fever at the Hell Hole.
Twisted angels climax and touch each other.
An overhead shot.
Black wet fur to touch and smell.
Tactile dreams.
The lights have blown. Come back to smell the earth.
Climax of blue pleasures as it’s piled on top of me.”

“I have the camera, I’ll use it to jolt my memory.”

The purple moon was nailed to the black sky – a sky accentuated by the night tide oozing dull red droplets – slight tears for those in action down below. The Halloween festival murmured in the alleys of Coney Island’s Lunar Park. Children and adults could be heard laughing and screaming on the Cyclone Rollercoaster and within the cages of the Wonder Wheel. The freak show was crowded while Dante’s Inferno funhouse rocked with laughter and childish screams.

Criselda let her legs dangle over the edge of the pier as she stared at the stains on her patched hands. She could still see the thread marks from the skin grafts of the past – it still hurt every so often to bend her fingers. She could still hear the whirr of the generators and the flash of the light. She could still sense the eyes that watched her every move as she shivered in the backroom amidst the drug smoke and laughing shadows, a grimace in the moonlight. The specters that took her morals and sliced them with shiny new scalpels – her dead memories.

Other types of pain would come and go; they were dull pain in twilight: red, black and orange. The codeine pills barely helped anymore, yet she continued to pop the white doves frequently since the withdrawal pain was growing worse and worse each night. Her dolls, her silence.

She could hear the Cyclone screams – the rollercoaster slammed the air; the Wonder Wheel creaked slowly as some of the Ferris wheel’s cars swayed back and forth. Criselda crossed her legs and bent over at the waist, forcing her black leather person into the space between crotch and stomach. Fever dreams beyond all limits underscored the desires within a fractured woman on a journey into and out of submission. A victim no longer.

She gazed down the length of the pier. It was moist air, chilly air for October, for Halloween. October 31st and what did she have? Some ripped from the womb recently idle evil thoughts and chatter. One more codeine pill. She popped one in her mouth and chewed it, enjoying the bitter taste crushing all the granules so the hit would be fast – bang bang to the cerebellum. She leaned back onto her palms, neck bent backwards, gazing at the sky, her ratty black hair moist with sweat, her torso getting warmer as the analgesic sucked on her vagina and ate it’s way up deep inside.

Her stomach was warm – a warm blood bath safe in the amniotic sac. She smiled even though the front of her mind was descending into a falling player piano discordant ride as the drug climbed up and backed out. Criselda could hear the ocean in the darkness: red /water /music /salt /mist tingled her lips.

“Sally go round the roses,” she murmured to herself as she reached under her ripped leather skirt and fingered herself; an attempt to frig herself into oblivion as her legs tingled, as her fingers grew codeine – numb.

She sang gently only for herself.

Lyrics recited without tone or beat.

Lyrics recited with lack of desire and fluctuation.

Just wet – no climax.

Transistors from the radio gleamed while short and calculated circuited digital notes flew behind her eyes. The sky met the ocean out there as she thought and thought and seethed. Her forehead was becoming moist as she wiped her brow and tongued her fingers. Salty and fluid digits tinged with red.
She licked her black fingernails. She reached behind her and tightened her black leather corset tight – tight enough so she became lightheaded and fortified the junk high.


Knives were touching her hands and between her eyes. Murmurs – sweat cold heat – cold light under her tongue.

They put it there.

They put it there.

Criselda’s head snapped back out of her masturbatory reveries.

“They did it. Hooked me up. Pushed it in.”

She licked each of her hands completely, tonguing the scars, pausing to fight back the slight chemical nausea; she gulped down saliva and acid and then she felt better.

“Oh to be a pinup.”

“Cold light.”

A black lean creature clothed in wetness, fresh from a red night sat down beside her and whispered into her left ear.

“Touch the hand of God. Hold my hand and come,” it whispered in a melodious low chant repeating and repeating until her brain buzzed.

She giggled from the warm fetid breath on her neck.


“My ticklish spot.” She reached around and held the being close. She kissed its lips delicately and produced the straight razor from her black leather purse. As she slowly dragged the straight razor across its throat, the warm fluid spurted and accentuated the sounds of her quickly lapping tongue and ignited the evening. It was 2 am.

“Mmmmm,” they both moaned. Then it collapsed.

The purple moon turned crimson, subsequently phasing out to ebony latex.


Criselda got up and walked down the length of the pier. She started off somewhat shakily then more confidently as her worn leather stiletto boots click-clack-clicked on the semi-rotting wood. Her lean legs shook every once in awhile. She was in a junk-sex overdrive; her nose tingled. Tiny small black creatures followed quickly behind her. The nighttime held them close as she made her way off the pier into the street. Past the Cyclone, past the Wonder Wheel, past Dante’s Inferno into slick silence they made their way down. She glanced over her shoulder and she was suddenly alone – sound had evaporated and the street was damp and void. As she walked down Surf Avenue she heard a sound that caused her stomach to slightly heave and she vomited black liquid into the gutter. The Calliope, the sounds from childhood – before the generators, before the incident, before the life force so erotic entered into her.


Criselda stopped in front of the carousel. The merry–go-round was spinning, slowly morphing as it spun. She grew dizzy and had to turn away and sit down on the curb. Gently, Criselda touched the puddle in the gutter and smelled her fingers. No odor whatsoever. Her reflection shimmered – a scarred scared image.

Feeling more steady she stood up and walked over to the carousel. There were no riders the only being present was the operator. Criselda gave him the once over – greasy black hair in a pony tail, the trail of scabs up and down his arms’ veins. A knife hung from his belt. He didn’t see her, he was dining on a meatball hero, enjoying it immensely. Some sauce was on his chin. Criselda turned off to the side and puked a little onto the sidewalk. He noticed her. He was paying attention.


“Hello babe. Feeling queasy?” he asked.

Criselda said nothing at first, but his voice awakened memories and desires. She could feel herself getting wet and there was a marked metallic taste in her mouth.

“Yeah. A little.”

She walked over slowly and stood right in front of him. She ran her fingers slowly up the knife scabbard and gently touched his lips. Criselda noticed a bulge in his black jeans and smiled slightly. At the sight of his arousal, her eyes glowed yellow and spun wildly.

She tried to remember lines from her past as he broadly grinned at her.

“Let me see what’s under your skirt,” he drooled.

Saliva dripped down his lip.

As a response, she stuck her hand down the front of his jeans gently caressing his genitals.

He smiled.

“So hot…”

His face contorted and he wailed as she twisted his cock and balls in a clockwise direction. She pulled him close. Gentle whispers. Talons dug in deeply into his scrotal sac. Flesh ripped.

Soft tearing sound. His love-muscle screamed.

“Do you like it? Do you like it? Will you be my boyfriend?” she delivered the line in a monotone voice.

Criselda felt his flesh give way as she pulled everything up and out over his belt and brought the mess up to her lips. Her fangs sunk into the hunk of meat and her tongue licked the remains of his balls. He was in shock as she tongued his cock and balls and enjoyed the crimson goo congealing on her lips.

He collapsed at her feet. She spit his flesh onto his body. Her lips twitched as she remembered. They brought her to life and they used her mercilessly. The carousel was always in the background. The queasy calliope music underlined her pain and splattered her memory with relentless abuse.

She stuck her right heel into his left eye enjoying the squishy sound.

“I won’t do both eyes. I want you to see me. Tell me you love me.”
He gazed up at her. She flashed her cunt at him.

“Why were you born?” she thought.

She pushed her heel deeper into the orb as the other eye stared at her. He was still breathing. The rainbows had collapsed around her. Her aura ate him up. He could smell vaginal fluid and semen in the air. The wooden horses glowed bright colors.

“Please be my friend.”

Words spoken to a shocked body.

Removing her heel, she slowly lowered herself onto his face and sat down hard. She thought. Her razor in hand, she slowly sliced off his shirt. He was starting to regain consciousness.

“Good. Now you will see.”

He could feel himself being dragged along the ground, up and unto the merry-go-round platform towards the calliope in the center.

He was bare-chested now, his crotch was splattered with dark brown crimson. Starting at his sternum, she slowly brought the silver blade down, down, down, leaving a bright red trail behind it. His eye twitched, he looked frightened and his tongue was wagging – a soundless marionette. His body was starting to get cold. Criselda got wetter as the blade came down to his waist. She repeated the procedure , this time going much deeper. She made some lateral cuts constructing flaps. Then again and again each time, cutting deeper through muscle and fiber until she reached the tasty innards. She reached in and relished the smell of warm blood bile and semen. All those delicious fluids. Criselda reached in and caressed each organ before removing it with a kiss and a slice. The air glowed and her mouth was going dry. Kidneys, liver, gall bladder, stomach, some intestine, some lungs – *plop* *plop* onto the floor in a pile. She carefully removed the heart and studied it closely. She reached into her boot and pulled out a small silver dagger. The dagger easily went into the heart and there it would stay forever.

“You’re mine now and you can’t escape.” This trophy was placed into her purse and was carefully, quickly zipped shut.

She removed his belt and fitted it snuggly around his neck and around the pole of a nearby white horse. She pulled it snuggly and climaxed 3 times. She had to pause until the afterglow had subsided. Time. Time.

Criselda left him tied to the pole, open, wide and wet. She remained on the carousel and pulled the stick to get it started. It slowly started rotating and she puked once more on her lover.

She remembered when she was a child how she used to make snow angels in her backyard. She liked the sound of the snow as it gently fell, the sound of the snow would block out her thoughts, it was a slow gentle sound that dusted her face as she lay down, looked up at the grey sky and moved her legs and arms. Then she would carefully get up and look at what she had created. She would do this many times during the day. If it was a snow day and she was home from school it was an even more special time. She smiled.

Then they came and dug her up. Then they came and sewed her together. Then they came and made her please them. Her scars were testimony to the hurt caused by him.

The first time she masturbated, she was shocked. She was looking at a calendar from Penthouse Magazine. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Vacation. One photo entranced her, a brunette in thigh high black stiletto boots; she started rubbing and the electric frisson overtook her.

Every Saturday morning many years ago she would watch Hercules Theatre which showed old Italian Hercules movies. Channel 9 . The movie showing one particular Saturday contained a memorably violent scene where a woman was being whipped, as the whip marks showed through the flimsy see-through dress, Criselda immediately soaked her panties.

Another scene: a gladiator was stabbed to death by a fellow soldier; although the sword wasn’t shown penetrating, the assassin watched the blood drip off the sword with obvious glee. She smiled.

Criselda jumped off the carousel. It continued to rotate. Children were laughing.
She took pictures. The flash from her camera hurt her eyes. She took several photos, all black and white, some portrait, some landscape. Several people in costume, male and female, drunk and high from masquerade parties passed by and complimented Criselda on her outfit. Swelling with pride, she stood in front of the ride and hung up a sign etched in a childish scrawl: Free Rides, Trick Or Treats.

People started lining up.

“Hi sweetie. Here’s a treat for you.” A kidney plopped into a young girl’s bag.
“Hello stud. You’ll like this.” A piece of lung for a cute hipster. She hugged each person after they received her gift.

“Trick or Treat.”

Stomach, gall bladder, another kidney. These were all dispensed into the patrons’ trick or treat bags. They stared at her; some were in shock, some were puking.

Bats were in the distance, mating in mid-air, the cinemas were burning.

The Shore Hotel across the street moaned and she could see people fucking in the windows.

It was 3:45 am. She walked slowly down Surf Avenue.

Crisleda headed to the beach, she sat down in the sand and slowly opened her purse. She removed the heart with the silver dagger in it. A juju for the holidays.

Criselda looked at the still beating heart longingly as the sun slowly rose. A slim naked woman was posed in the sand. The woman played a discordant violin concerto as the rays started to warm the autumn air. Her bright red hair blew behind her in the breeze. She turned to face the camera – eyes white and void of pupils.

It was now November 1st.

His heart. Crisleda carried it to the ocean, she flung it into the sea, then she rolled in the surf washing off the gore and pieces of flesh and the stink of the night.

Flesh for revenge soothed the desires within the fractured female.

The gulls would be flying towards the ocean soon as the sun rose.

“Please be my friend.”

She shed her clothing and lay spread-eagled in the sand as chilly saltwater caressed her thighs.

“One more pill please. I can make you beautiful.”

By Peter Marra