The unfinished red-lined novel’s first draft lay scattered across Mel Banner’s coffee table, and the manuscript’s presence gave him away. The young woman the author had brought to his apartment thumbed through random pages of Banner’s Hacker with the air of a sophisticate that didn’t quite ring true.

“So you’re a writer? Have I heard of you?”

Having met the shapely blonde over dirty martinis less than two hours earlier, Banner couldn’t remember her name. Nancy, he thought, maybe Fran. Probably neither.

“Try rattling around the cheap bins in the rear of any Barnes & Nobel, you’ll find my work. But a writer writes, and I haven’t been able to do much of that lately. After my editor’s first read that particular draft looks like it needs a tourniquet, doesn’t it? My writing has been a case of more perspiration than inspiration lately.” Banner realized he was getting wordy, a bad trait for any writer, worse for a guy trying to score points with an attractive woman. “Can I get you something to drink?”

“A white wine will be fine.” The young woman perused another loose page, her attention falling short of riveted. “What sort of writing do you do? I notice you wrote ‘Fuck’ a lot on this page. Artistic license, or nothing else to say?”

Banner smiled at Nancy/Fran’s directness. Excessive obscenity was the signature of a lazy mind, someone once said, probably another frustrated fucked up author. But maybe the woman had a point.blood book

Hacker is an erotic piece. I’ve written mysteries and thrillers too. Whatever sells. At six cents a word I toss in a good many of the four letter variety to raise my net worth. The team of ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ paid for this penthouse, back when New York Times book reviewers remembered my name. One novel almost cracked the Best Sellers List. Five Before Midnight, your basic thriller. Serial killer baits down-on-his-luck gum shoe with his kills. Ever hear of it? It was on t.v.”

“Sorry. No.”

“Didn’t think so.” Banner forced another smile. NBC had optioned his novel for a made-for t.v. movie. Featuring a cast of no-names it played once during television’s summer doldrums, then dropped from sight forevermore. But there seemed no need to get into the shortcomings of his mass appeal.

He wrestled the cork from a respectfully aged bottle of a sparkling German Riesling white, a 1979 Rheingau purchased at over $200 a pop during more promising times. Pouring two glasses he held one out for the woman who, comfortably reposed on his couch, had already taken off her heels.

“Better drink up. I may have to shop for the cheap stuff soon.”

“So you’ve been having trouble with your novel? Writer’s block?”

“A creative impasse. Inspiration doesn’t come easy. Sometimes you have to coax it. Successful novelists often find themselves in the unenviable position of one-and-done. I’m hoping I’m not among them.”

Swiping a strand of silky hair from her eyes the woman grinned. “So sometimes you have to coax inspiration with wine, or maybe a woman or two? I’m guessing, of course.”

Banner sat alongside her, moved closer. “Wine, women, Beyoncé on CD, whatever works.” He kissed her cheek, a bold yet fleeting enough move that seemed an appropriate preliminary to the mating ritual. “A writer takes his inspiration where he finds it. A song lyric, a passing remark from a stranger, bathroom graffiti, whatever. If I’m writing a thriller, maybe I’ll try skydiving. An erotic novel, I’ll inundate myself with some good porn. Mystery, I may hide a body or two in my basement, whatever sparks my creative gene. A good muse is often capricious, requiring a jolt of my adrenaline to liquor her up.”

“Must be difficult lugging those corpses twenty floors down the freight elevator when you feel inclined to write your murder mystery.”

“That’s why God made Hefty Bags.”

Nancy/Fran took a long sip from her glass and followed that with a longer scrutinizing of her escort, her eyes sparkling with the wine. “So, you’re casting for a muse? Perhaps I can help with that inspiration thing.” Her legs curled upon the soft white leather of the couch, her butterscotch tresses cascading to bare shoulders. Smiling with complete self-awareness of her allure, she waited for the writer to make his move. She didn’t have to wait long. A few tentative maneuvers on Banner’s part and the dance began. Minutes later the woman’s spaghetti strapped gown became strapless, then became gone. She lay moaning her desire, nearly naked on his couch alongside her emptied glass of wine.

Twisted like some contortionist jockeying for the most comfortable position in a confining space, she whispered close to his ear, “Wouldn’t your bed be more comfortable? I mean, assuming you’re feeling creative, of course.” Unfastening the top buttons of his shirt, she seemed surprised when Banner stopped her advances cold.

“You go on in. It’s on the right. I’ll join you in a minute.”

All modesty departed, the woman didn’t bother covering her breasts. Banner appreciated his date’s lack of inhibition while he studied her cat-like movements. Wearing a silky pink wisp of panties most of which had disappeared up the crack of her ass, the blonde crossed the room stopping to peek over her shoulder. “Don’t be too long. Inspiration cools quickly, you know.” She left the bedroom door open.

Banner’s brain replayed the last minute. The woman’s words could have come from Lauren Bacall’s mouth. The idea occurred to him that instant. Snapping on his hand held recorder and making a quick stop in the kitchen he rummaged through a drawer. Rejoining his date in the darkened bedroom he dispensed with all small talk.

“Understand,” he explained to the siren beneath his sheets, “this is only for the purpose of research, okay? I have no intention of – – well, of doing any harm. Okay?” He placed the recorder on the night stand, climbed into bed, and pulled a long serrated bread knife from behind his back. “I’m sorry if this frightens you.” His apology seemed ridiculous.

The woman at first gasped, then giggled nervously, but her amusement became short lived when Banner pinched the thick blade flat against her throat. He wasn’t smiling. If anything, he seemed to seriously examine her reaction.

“What are you–?”

“Really, I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to hear you talk, listen to what you might say in this particular circumstance.” Straddling her, Banner tightened his grip on the knife. “Listen, we can fuck our eyeballs out in a few minutes. I really want to fuck you, you know. But right now, I want you to just express what you’re feeling.”

“I – I can’t – breathe. You’re pressing too hard against my throat. Please …”

“Oh, I’m sorry … really.” She was scared, maybe a little terrified. That was good. He loosened his grip. “See, Hacker, it’s an erotic horror story I’m writing. I just need to place myself – and you too – into the moment, feel what my characters feel. It’s my method to get my creative juices flowing. It’s like improvisational theater, just make-believe like a dramatic scene in a play. Psychodrama, the acting coaches call it. Inspire me, okay?”

“Christ , are you out of your …?”

“Anger? Good. That’s good. Talk. Just talk.”

“You’re not going to hurt me?”

“No. Hell, no.”


“Promise. Talk to me. Free associate. It’s easy.”

She attempted a smile, failed miserably. “I’m scared shitless, okay? I can’t tell if you mean to hurt me or not. I’m hoping you don’t, but even so, I’m thinking only some kind of psychopath would do this, so I’m not feeling real comfortable being near you right now. I guess I’m having trouble believing you. Listen, I think I want to stop this now, all right?”

“That’s good. That’s very good. Just a little longer. Go on. Please – – I wanted to address you, but I’m afraid I forgot your name. I’m sorry, really.”

“You’re joking , right? You’ve got a knife at my throat!”

“Please.” Banner’s civility made him come off like the Sir Walter Raleigh of lunatics.

“It’s Mandy. Listen, for real, I’m feeling a little –” She struggled against the blade pressed against her flesh.

“Mandy. Of course. So, Mandy, what’s happening inside right now? Are you feeling scared? A little ill? Are you afraid you may pass out? Tell me everything, will you do that for me, will you, Mandy?” Banner realized he sounded like some fool begging to cop a quick feel, but that was all right. He had to know everything, had to hear everything she wanted to say.

“Listen, I’m getting sick. I’m going to throw up if you don’t let me out of–”

“No, that’s all wrong, Mandy,” he told her. “Vomiting isn’t erotic. Try harder.”

“Cutting my throat isn’t erotic either, you sick fuck! Let me go!”

“More anger. Okay, I can work with that. That’s good. Give me some more …” With his free hand Banner reached to turn the recorder’s speaker closer towards the woman.

“You’re recording this?” She struggled beneath him. “Goddamn it, enough of this! Get off me!”

“That’s great, Mandy. I was expecting genuine fear, maybe some screaming too. But that’s not you, because you’re going for full throttle outrage, aren’t you? Great!”

Mandy’s eyes swam with tears.

“Please … I don’t want to do this. I’m not into this sort of – – Just let me leave, okay?”

Banner seemed confused. “Is this fright, then? The anger, that was just a ruse, a defiance
of some sort? You were trying to trick me, using phony indignation in the hope of unnerving me? I’m just trying to understand the moment, the fear, you see?” Banner tightened the blade beneath her chin drawing a small streak of blood. It trickled near one bared breast and the woman’s eyes widened.

“I don’t know. I don’t know! I can’t think straight! I just want to leave!”

“More! Tell me more!” Banner dug the knife in a little deeper, careful not to sever the tendons of her throat.

“Yes! I’m scared, all right? Is that what you want to hear? I’m angry and I’m scared, and if I could I would kill you right now for doing this to me, kill you with that same fucking knife you have at my throat, you crazy cock sucking maniac! You want to see me pee myself? Put that into your best seller, you bastard! Are you satisfied?”

“Yes,” Banner said. With nothing more to add, he withdrew the blade from the woman’s throat. His eyes never left hers.

Rubbing her neck Mandy saw her hand glistened red, stared at her own blood with no expression as if studying something alien and separate from herself. When she moved to get out of the bed Banner stopped her.

“Don’t go, not yet. I mentioned this was an erotic horror story I’m writing, didn’t I?”
Mandy found strength only to nod.

“Well, then,” he added. “We haven’t really gotten to the erotic part yet, have we?”

She looked at him as if the man were certifiable.

“You expect me to fuck you after all that?”

“It’s my method,” Banner said. “Whatever works, remember?”

“Yeah, well maybe you remember how I said inspiration quickly cools. And mine has.”

Climbing from the bed she pushed Banner from her, but he lay both hands against the woman’s shoulders shoving her back against the pillow. He straddled atop her, removing his pants in awkward stop/starts because she was struggling.

“My inspiration hasn’t cooled. In fact, I think it’s really kicking in. You’re doing fine, Mandy. Just fine. Let’s finish this scene, okay?”

“Get off me, goddammit!”

“If you want to scream, that’s okay. I won’t mind.”


But he did mind, so when she screamed he placed a hand over her mouth. “It’s just for effect. This is how a real killer does it, isn’t it? He shuts his victim up, fucks her, then kills her? Or maybe he kills her first, and then – – ? I’m only guessing, of course.”

“Mmmphhhh!!!” She tried to scream again but couldn’t, then tried biting his hand. This was good.

Banner forced his way inside her, felt the woman grow warm and moist. “Can’t help yourself, can you? This turns you on even while you’re scared half to death, isn’t that right?” He removed his hand from her mouth, looked long into her eyes. “Tell me everything you’re feeling.”

“I’m feeling like saying ‘Fuck you!’” She shrieked. Loud.

“Artistic license, or nothing else to say?”

She was moaning, and beneath him Mandy’s hips undulated as if detached from the woman’s ability to control their motion. Although Banner held his stare firm she turned her head, refusing to look at him. Her breaths came hard.

“Your pussy … it’s wet! Talk to me, dammit! Talk to me!”

“Stop! Stop now!”

Banner stopped.

“Okay. Talk.”

She struggled to speak, seeming too unsettled to know what else to do.

“What I’m feeling … is … confused … so confused because … you … you didn’t have to do this … like this. I would have slept with … you … anyway … I wanted to sleep with you … You … didn’t have to … didn’t have to …”

“I had to do it like this! Can’t you see that? I had to!” He slapped her hard across the mouth, but not hard enough to draw blood. She looked at him with complete bewilderment and he slapped her again, harder. “I had to do that too!” This time she bled.

Now Mandy was crying full out, choking on her own tears until her body heaved in spasms. Banner climbed off her, watched the tears well in her eyes and slide darkened with eye shadow in slick tributaries down her cheek. He reached out hoping to hold her, hoping to make her feel better, but she waved her arm at him, pushed him away. He tried again, then again. Eventually he pulled her close, felt her quivering with fear against him. She stopped fighting, sinking her face into his chest.

“It’s all right, Mandy,” he told her. “Really, it’s all right. I never intended to hurt you. Never.” He rubbed a knuckle against her face, catching a wayward tear. Wiping the blood from her mouth he waited until the whimpering stopped. When her shaking subsided she turned her head to him.

“Are you going to let me go?” She seemed too weak to struggle any more.

“In a moment.”

The woman’s next reaction caught him off guard. “You were so interested in me telling you what I was feeling … what in Christ were you feeling?”

Banner had to think. It was a good question.

“I was feeling really strong. Powerful, you know? In control of not only you, but the whole fucking world. The more you resisted, the stronger I felt.”

Mandy hesitated, managed to collect herself. “You’re crazy. You know that, right?”

“Yes, I’m fully aware of that. Artists often sacrifice their own sanity for their craft. But you helped give me inspiration, you actually helped. For a moment there I think I found John.”

The woman’s breaths steadied. “What? – – Who’s John?”

“John Wiley. He’s my serial killer. Hacks up women, then eats them; he even eats their bones. He’s a hack writer too, hence … Hacker. Clever? The character is dark, mysteriously handsome. Your basic sociopathic jerk who gives not a shit for anything except his next rush, the kind of guy every woman seems to fall in love with at least once in her life.”

Mandy managed some composure. “I’ve had my share of jerks.” She rubbed her throat. “Tonight included. Tell your John Wiley I’m getting dressed now.” She climbed from beneath the sheets. Banner placed a hand on her shoulder, but this was not another attempt to restrain her.

“Please. See, I’m putting the knife down, here on the stand. Just stay a while. The night’s drama is over. Honest. Consider it a fool’s manner of doing research. Because that’s all it really was. We can talk for a while, can’t we?” Banner seemed seconds away from adding
‘Come on, will ya, huh? Will ya? Will ya?’ But he didn’t have to. Wrapping silken sheets around her, Mandy sat on the edge of the bed, saying nothing.

“Tell me about this John Wiley,” she finally said. “This guy every woman falls in love with? Why is that, do you think?”

Banner smiled. “You would know that better than I. You tell me.”

“No knife to my throat?” She tried smiling but gave it up.


Mandy’s eyes shut as if she were picturing the man. “Because he’s dangerous. A guy like that, he’s an adrenaline rush, like some wild roller coaster ride. He’s unpredictable and passionate about what he does, makes no excuses for his behavior. That shows power, self- assuredness. The man knows how to get his way, but he isn’t arrogant about his strengths and gives not a shit about his weaknesses. He knows who he is. Women cream their bikini briefs for a guy with that kind of confidence.”

“But he’s also a killer.”

“Hey, Scott Peterson gets love notes in prison. Probably a few interesting tits and ass photos as well. Ted Bundy and The Boston Strangler had no problem picking up young girls either, you know. Serial killers aren’t always wonks like Son of Sam or Jeffrey Dahmer.”

Banner’s excitement grew.

“You understand those types, do you? Men who know their way around women? Men who kill?”

“I’ve met my share of them, at least the former.” She eyed the knife still on the night stand. Banner pretended not to notice. “Maybe even some of the latter …” She leaned closer and whispered “Kiss me …”


“You wanted ‘erotic,’ you asked for inspiration, so let’s do it. Kiss me. Hard.”

“Your lip is still bleeding.”

“I don’t care.”

He kissed her, tasted the cherry wine sweetness of her lips, her tongue warm and moist in his mouth. He felt her pull him close. The woman seemed lost in some swirling maelstrom.

“John … John …”

“You – You called me John.”

“Don’t stop. Please …”

He filled his mouth with her breast, slid himself inside her.

“No … not yet … not yet …”

She clung to him, clawing his back like some enraged animal, but Banner didn’t pull away. He couldn’t even if he had wanted to. Mandy’s arms seemed everywhere.

“Now …” she whispered. “Now!”

Lost in the moment Banner felt the burning rush build inside him.

But there was something else … something important …

The knife on the night stand! He had almost forgotten, almost left himself wide ope–

Mandy sank the blade deep into his back. Banner felt the stabbing pain as the metal crunched into his shoulder bone. Grimacing with sudden agony he felt the bedroom swirl wildly like some maniac carousel careening out of control, but the sensation lasted for only a moment. The woman was laughing while an expanding pool of Banner’s blood soaked his sheets.

“You see? I can be creative too!” Mandy shouted into his face. She still held the knife twisted inside his flesh. Banner could only stare at her. Who would have thought the woman was that strong? She had bested him, and he had been a fool to allow her.
“So? Do you have your inspiration? Have you found John? I believe I have! Like most men, your story’s protagonist has over estimated himself! Hacker, my ass! He’s just another self-serving prick who can’t see past his own ego!” She laughed again. The sound echoed inside Banner’s head. Twisting the knife one last time she whispered into the author’s ear, “Goodbye, John.”

Her laughter was the last thing Mel Banner heard before the room faded to black.


Waking in a cold sweat Banner lay in his bed for a while. His shoulder ached a little with phantom pain, but that was all. His head, now that was another matter. It hurt like a bastard.

It wasn’t quite morning and outside remained dark. He managed to pull himself up and reached for the night light. For a moment he thought maybe he should search for the knife, but that would have been pointless. The woman had gone away, just as she always had. Fortunately the memory of her lingered. He rubbed his forehead. His brain still felt wine soaked.

“Damn …”

The recording device lay on his night stand. At least he had gotten something out of the events of the evening. He punched the ‘PLAY’ button.

“‘Understand,’” he heard himself say, “‘this is only for the purpose of research, okay? I have no intention of – – well, of doing any harm. Okay? I’m sorry if this frightens you …’”

Then the woman who called herself Mandy spoke.

“‘What are you …?’”

The voice that came from the recorder did not belong to a woman. It was his own voice, and this time Banner had made no attempt to disguise it as he had often done whenever his creative well had run dry.

His own voice.

His own muse.

[“‘Really, I’m not going to hurt you.’”]

The effect he heard from his recorder was that of a man talking to himself, but that was all right. No matter that the blonde had taken residence only inside his frontal lobe, Mel Banner had taken all the inspiration from the woman that he had required.

No knife. No blood. His brain had provided a little smoke and some mirrors, that was all. But maybe also another best seller? At least the germ of an idea for one?

Hacker was about to come to life, courtesy of that extraordinary muse who came around to visit every now and then. ‘Mandy’ she called herself this time. What had she called herself the last time? Nancy? Fran? Brunhilda?

Did it matter?

[“‘You’re crazy. You know that, right?’”

“‘Yes, I’m fully aware of that.’”]

That much probably was true, but within five minutes it wouldn’t make any difference. He turned on his computer, opened a new file. Mel Banner had a novel to write.

… well, maybe in a minute. All that drinking last night, and he had to pee. Bad.

His head throbbing, Banner made his way to the bathroom. He felt dizzy too, weak. The night’s imbibing had taken its toll. He hoped there were some aspirin left in the cabinet.
Inside the bathroom Banner stopped himself cold. His jaw dropped. Alongside the tub lay his electric carving knife and some Hefty Bags. A crimson smear stained the floor leaving a thick track along the porcelain side of the tub. Banner pulled the shower curtain open.

“Oh shit …”

By Kenneth Goldman

On the 6th

Parking garage
The night began with drinks and dancing. A night of being lost in the throngs of a pulsing mass of people packed into the small confines of a dance floor, the lights little more than repeating, multi-colored bursts above their heads, the music a dull roar that shook their very organs, almost physically touched them.
Sara didn’t know anything about the man she exited the club with, leaving behind three friends with bemused smiles, Sara herself far less drunk than any of the others, including the man she got into a car with. When the police did a blood test on her at the hospital an hour and a half later they would see just how little she had had to drink, more lost in the art of club dancing than alcohol.
Whatever affects the little alcohol she did have might’ve had on her were certainly dispelled when the rough thud of a body striking the front of the vehicle forced it to swerve to the right, towards the side of a brick building, sending both of the car’s inhabitants into a jarring halt.
Sara managed to pull herself out of the vehicle first, her right arm and shoulders aching, but the rest of her otherwise okay. Her new acquaintance hadn’t faired as well, his hair stuck together in wet red, his greater height adding to his injuries. He didn’t stir when Sara laid him down on the sidewalk along the driver’s side door before calling the police, fully aware she shouldn’t have moved the man at all.
Only briefly before the police arrived did her gaze shift towards the man they had struck. Even at the distance she was, the stink of the bum’s clothing drifted towards her, but his face drew her the most, or what had once been a face.
Four years as a nurse in a busy ER in the middle of the worst part of the city had allowed her more interaction with the city’s homeless than she had ever wanted, and left her permanently and perhaps willingly jaded against them. None of her friends or coworkers had any knowledge of the hatred she had. Even now, when the police cars pulled up, she made sure the scowl was gone.
“He was driving, and the man just, he seemed to just be there,” Sara said to a police officer ten minutes later, her eyes falsely vacant, absently staring at the flashing of the police car while two men lifted her desired one-night-stand onto a stretcher.
“Why did you move him out of the car?” the officer asked. She recognized the man from the hospital, bringing in drunken or hostile bums more often than not. Anyone with any decent alcohol level was for some reason brought to the hospital, rather than the jail, as if to specifically force Sara to try to care for the belligerent and oftentimes violent men.
“I thought maybe the car might catch fire. I know I wasn’t supposed to move him, but after the wreck, I wasn’t really thinking straight. Is he going to be okay,” she asked, while knowing full well from the odd angle of his neck and the amount of blood on the back of his head he surely wouldn’t be.
The bum, it was clear, was already dead, but Sara wasn’t there to watch them take the corpse away. A quick call from the hospital got Melinda to bring over Sara’s car, and for the next hour the two of them waited, silent, absently watching a late night talk show on the only TV in the ER waiting room.
Near one in the morning Melinda left to go home while Sara remained, no serious injuries, they had already concluded, but still waiting to hear about the condition of her recent acquaintance, if only to keep up appearances. She wasn’t happy he had been injured, but she hadn’t known him well enough to create any deeper emotions. Her profession of choice was, after all, looking after strangers who had been injured, and watching many of them waste away into death.
“Things aren’t looking good,” a nurse Sara rarely worked with finally told her. “I’m sorry, but odds are good he won’t make it through the night.”
Sara passed down the hallway leading to the hospital’s parking garage. She stepped, alone, into the small elevator. Her current position was on the first floor with options to go up higher, along with a set of numbers for the parking garage, but before hitting the button for G2, her finger stopped, hovering over the options given to her.
She could choose between G1 through G3, but also, oddly, had the option for G6 as well; a floor she knew full well didn’t exist. Curiosity made her reach out her finger towards the G6, and gently press down.
The elevator didn’t move at all. The doors immediately opened, but what had been a hallway within the hospital, now opened up into a floor of the parking garage. She could see rows of empty spaces just outside the elevator door, devoid of cars.
During those first few minutes the previous five hours of her life were gone. She took a step forward in confusion, unaware she was passing through the elevator door until she heard the mechanical whir behind her of the door closing.
There was no button to call the elevator back. Her fingers ran across the cement along the side of the elevator for what inexplicably wasn’t there. She had no choice but to turn back towards the parking garage and step out from the small alcove the elevator was in.
To her left, just a few spaces down, Sara stared at the unmarred car of her now critically injured almost one-night-stand. It looked exactly as it had when Sara walked out to it, the roar of the club pulsing at her back, the hot breath of an inebriated man blowing across the side of her neck.
A full sweep of her surroundings confirmed there were no other cars, nor other people. Before she could turn back to face the only vehicle, she heard the engine rev to life. Behind the driver’s seat of the car she saw the figure of a man, but before she could see anything else the car pulled out, turned to let its headlights blind her, and lurched forward in an attempt to run her down.
She pulled back into the elevator alcove, her back against the closed doors when the left side of the vehicle skidded across the wall in a spray of light, her eyes catching sight of the face turning towards her behind the wheel of the car just a second before the vehicle shot by. It looked like sheer plastic had been pulled tightly around a person’s face, the features smashed and distorted, but the image was brief, and the car was zooming by, tires screeching as it swung back around for another pass, and Sara couldn’t make herself pull forward, hand still groping uselessly for a button that wasn’t there.
Her worldview had always been lucid, quick to change if circumstances changed, because adaptation was the best means of surviving in any environment, even those beyond her understanding. When the doors to the ER burst open and stretchers were rushed in filled with the dying, all thought needed to end in order to take care of the moment. Now she thought of only the car trying to run her down, and the best way to get away from it.
On the second pass the right side headlight shattered on the wall. Sara felt the sting of a plastic shard digging into her arm. As soon as the car passed she shoved out from the alcove and started running towards the opposite wall where a space existed, allowing one to slip onto the ramp leading to the next level down.
She caught sight of the vehicle turning around for another pass, the front end shifting towards her moving form, headlights quickly consuming her entire world as they began to engulf her. But by then it was too late, Sara already slipping through the opening in the cement, feeling the rough edge tear a top layer of skin off her exposed calf before she landed on the other side and heard the shriek of metal right behind her.
The smile born from her small triumph lasted only until she looked to the left and towards the lower levels. A large chain fence had been pulled down to stop anyone from going any further. Sara knelt before the fence and saw the padlock holding the fence to the floor.
Her world brightened. Behind her the car had stopped, its headlight eyes watching her closely, the whole vehicle slowly moving forward, perhaps smiling at her plight. She knew the level she had come from had no place else to run from her initial sweep of it when first entering, so the only question became whether or not she could get the car to crash before it ran her down.
The car sped forward, engine screaming at her, headlights trying to hold her in place, and Sara inched towards the far corner, waited as long as she could so the car would have no choice when she moved.
Before she could she saw the vehicle swing to the side, flying horizontally towards her now, the momentum enough to keep the car moving, and giving her a much wider object to try to get around.
The surprise of the action delayed her, until the car was about to strike and Sara was just beginning to move, leaping to the side, but not in enough time. Her left side exploded in pain before her body collided with the harsh cement, everything around her spinning over and over again, threatening to turn black.
The slam of a car door stopped it from happening. Everything snapped immediately into focus with that single sound. She stared up at the ceiling of the garage, aware of the footsteps, of the labored breathing.
Her head rose enough to see the man with the plastic over his face. His nose was mashed into nothing, as if the skin had been pushed back through his skull. A cut had formed in his cheek, and red began to crawl outward from that single point below the plastic, while more of it ran down the outside, dripping from his chin. His right arm, she could she as he knelt down closer, was also wrapped, and she saw in her mind the bum on the street with a jagged piece of bone sticking up through his right arm, his face completely gone.
As soon as he was within reach of her his arm swung out hard enough to snap her head to the side, created a bruise welling up on her cheeks, but she didn’t cry or sob in the face of this pain, and she didn’t struggle when he grabbed hold of her neck and began dragging her across the cement.
Her body could barely move as it was, her left arm completely numb, something she didn’t dare look at in fear of what she would see.
“Not the first,” she heard it say, the words slurred and muffled, but clear all the same as he dragged her around the corner and back to the sixth floor. The floor wasn’t empty anymore five of the parking spaces contained bodies. Each had plastic wrapped around them, but in different places than her attacker. One was almost completely covered, the body underneath wet, it looked to Sara, as if the person underneath was melting.
She could see a different bum some five months prior in the depths of winter begging Sara to let her stay. Her threat to call the police forced the woman out into the vicious cold of the night to die and be written about two days later in the paper for Sara to read.
They passed by another space, another corpse wrapped in plastic, and she could see a man screaming profanities while the nurses strapped him down to the table. No one saw the actual dose of sedatives Sara gave him. In the hectic ER, no one noticed or cared when the man never woke up.
The foul odor of decay made her gag, but she couldn’t bring herself to lift up a hand to stop the stench.
“I will be the last,” the man said, fingers tightening on her neck as they reached the now open door of the elevator. He lifted her up enough for her to see a face that had been reduced to little more than bloody tatters beneath the plastic, as if the small cut on his cheek had expanded outward to consume his entire face. In the darkness of the wet sockets behind the plastic she could feel the eyes watching her, understood the words they were saying, before he threw her into the elevator, and the doors closed to the image of the bum watching her closely with those empty eyes.
The doors opened to the hospital hallway. Sara stood up with considerably more ease than she had been expecting, and looked down at herself to see no injury. This wasn’t complete, however, she understood when she took her first step and felt the pain well up in her cheek where the bum had struck her.
She walked in a daze up to the nurse behind the check-in desk. The ER was unusually subdued, Sara was completely alone when her coworker’s eyes rose to see her and the dark bruise spread across her cheek.
“What happened?” the nurse exclaimed.
“I was driving,” Sara said, holding the other nurse’s eyes. “The accident wasn’t hitting the bum. I did that on purpose. I killed him on purpose.”
“My God, Sara, what’s going on? You actually wanted to kill that man?”
“He wasn’t the first. He was the first one I hit with a car, but he wasn’t the first. I’d like you to call the police.”
She turned away before the nurse could say anything else. She took up a seat in the waiting room and wondered for the first time if the past few hours of her life had happened at all. From behind the desk the whispers were already beginning, spreading like a plague through the hospital, but Sara paid no attention to them.
She sat instead behind the wheel of another man’s car with her already disappointing one-night-stand passed out in the seat next to her while just up ahead she could see the red light and the man walking across the street right before she slammed her foot on the gas.
Some part of her had always blamed the hatred on them for asking so much of her, for wanting her to help them even when her own life lay broken at her feet. No one would miss them or care about their passing. They were the perfect people to take her anger out on, or had been.
In front of her the doors to the ER opened and a man walked out pushing a stretcher. Beneath the sheet she could see the outline of a person.
“Who is that?” she asked.
Bobby, a man she frequently worked with, glanced over at her, and from the look in his eyes, she knew he hadn’t heard yet what she had done. “Just a bum that got hit by a car a few hours ago. We were surprised he lasted as long as he did. Medics at the scene thought he was dead at first, but he held on for quite a while. Doesn’t matter now, I guess.” He shrugged and continued on his way, unaware of Sara staring at the hump where the head was beneath the sheet.
She didn’t know exactly what it meant. In truth, she understood it didn’t matter what it meant, not anymore. Her path had already been decided, and nothing she did anymore was going to change it.

By Philip Roberts

An Evening of Pawned Pleasures

Soft thunder
face liftA trembling
Her words spoken in hushed tones
Velvety breath vows to cause danger
At the edge of the park, rain
Blossomed on her skin mixing softly with the
Menstrual blood
Diluted emotions running down her thighs
A tale of dark lives
Of unrequited things
Where sex stink becomes kisses
She’s enveloped by the cheap images
“do you like my pic. Want to hook up?
Who’ll be my next victim?”
Back and bottom of the stairway. Hands, biting the flesh
She started to talk in a computer generated voice
She fell under the curse of the watches
“aren’t you going to undress now?”
She notoriously slaughtered 8 though maybe she had over 650 victims
That was when hobos first appeared and shouted at her
A frame freezes
And stills are licked
Nothing but pleasurable.
A house before meeting
A pain of the mental kind as infliction is used and noticed
She was talking to a woman to tell her husband
That a holographic message appeared
Going to watch trapped victims between cars
She told killers ‘liberation’ through violence
She looked almost angry
How they made up an excuse a crisis in Vietnam
Trauma echoing just like America
She looked almost angry at the number of bodies removed
Uncomfortable it would be,
Her husband.
when we fucked startled
and when we shouted at gravestones in North America.
Modern naked taking it all down and
she crawled
and she was going to there
she glanced over quickly she told me how and
excused herself for moaning in ecstasy.

By Peter Marra

Poor Eliza

girl blood bath“This is your place?” I could sense a hint of sarcastic excitement in her voice as she chugged away at the fifth of vodka.

“Yes, this is it.”

I lead her inside, playing the role of the gentlemen and letting her go first. I just wanted a chance to admire the gothic beauty from behind. The tattoo on her back was showing above and under the tight corset she was wearing, it looked as if it covered her entire torso.

“Eh, I’ve seen worse,” her pixie cut black hair barely moved as she swung her head side to side in a drunken haze. She took another swig from the bottle.

I’m surprised such a pasty skinned angel would follow me so easily. All it took was a bottle of vodka, a handful of painkillers, condoms, and a little sweet talk. Usually the girls I approach in the bars are a bit more reluctant; especially the one’s as young as Eliza. Her name was Eliza, a name she unknowingly shares with grandmother. She is perfect.

Eliza sat down on the couch and stretched herself out. She lifted up her legs, exposing black lace panties underneath the short, tight skirt. It seemed that in her intoxication, she had lost all sense of shame. I notice a tattoo of an eel swimming down her inner thigh.

“So, when are we going to get to it?” She yawned.

“Get to what?” I ask, steadying my hands from shaking.

Eliza rolls her eyes, clearly annoyed.

“Look man, I’ve been in this business long enough to know fake modesty when I see it. You already have me here, what else are you waiting for?”

I stare at her, I’m honestly confused at this point. Wait, she couldn’t be?…

“I’m not cheap though, I can tell you that much,” she slurs her words, “it’s four hundred up front, and another four hundred after you cum. I time it too, it’s an hour tops. If you don’t get your rocks off by then, you better start jerkin’, because I’m out the door by that point, no compromises.”

That’s when it hits me like a brick wall. Of course! How could I have been so damn naïve!? In the throes of my anxiety, I asked her to follow me as calmly as possible.

“Finally,” she threw herself off the couch and followed me to the back of the house.

We stop at a door bearing two carvings, a distorted smiley face next to a crucifix.

“Oh god, you‘re not a damn Jesus freak, are you?”

I ignore her and push open the door. We both step inside, it takes about five seconds for her to let out a shriek of terror.

I act fast and grab the crowbar next to the door. I bring it down on the back of her head as hard as I can. Eliza falls to the ground; I bring the crowbar down six more times. When I’m finished, hear head is split in half, exposing chunks of splintered bone and pink brain matter which clings to her pretty hair. A pool of blood is quickly forming itself under her face.

Mother stares down at me from the tall stake I had fashioned myself. Her hair is white and stringy, there are maggots falling out of her eye sockets, and her skin has turned a wrinkly blackish-blue.

“Don’t look at me like that!” I scream in my defense.

Mother doesn’t respond, there’s only the noise of the flies buzzing around her and the pile of rotting organs I’ve placed at the foot of her stake from previous offerings. She doesn’t say anything but I know what she’s thinking.

“How was I supposed to know!? She had tattoos, just like you said you wanted! Her name was Eliza for Christ’s sake! HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW!?”

Poor Eliza, she wasn’t good enough for Mother. No, Mother demanded pure women, the kind that held respectable jobs and came from respectable families, just like she had. Sometimes her demands were specific, sometimes she wanted a woman with blonde hair, or thin lips, or full figured, or super skinny. This time she demanded tattoos, I thought I had delivered.

Now it was time to be punished.

“No, no, mom, please,” but I knew my begging is useless.

I swat away flies as I make my way over to the closet. I open the door to be greeted by Father, whose sitting slumped against the wall in his usual position. His body appears more bloated than usual in his white work shirt with his black tie. The sticks I’ve attached to the stumps where his limbs used to be seem to be holding up fine, and the burlap sack over his head sends me chills just like it did when he could still walk.

There are flies buzzing around him too. The dried blood stains on his cloths remind me of shit, which reminds me that I’m going to have to clean up after Eliza later. Shame, I really wanted to skin her tattoos off to feed to Mother.

I undo my pants and close the closet door behind me. Father was always the one to punish me; it’s been like this for as long as I can remember. Next time I’ll be sure to please mother, though I’m finding it increasingly difficult to do so.

I take out the small gold crucifix from my front pocket and hold it tight as I accept my punishment.

By Erick Ulrich

Twelve Feet Under

serial murder

So, you want to hear a story, huh? Let me tell you one you will never believe, then I want you to look me in the eye and tell me I lied to you. The thing about people is that you never know what kind of shit they have been through do you? That hooker you see coming home on the subway every so often, for instance. You just assume she is selling her beaten up hole for drug money, right? And that those black eyes were from her holding out on her pimp, or talking back. What if I told you that she ended up working the streets after she lost her license to practice law, and that tonight she fought off and killed a serial rapist in that random alley where she thought she was going to earn another forty bucks? Would you believe it?

What if I told you that the guy you pass in the hall of your building every day when you are leaving for work was keeping seven children captive in his apartment? That he uses those kids in ways that would horrify even the hooker on the subway? What about the old lady who lives a block down, in the old co-op building? Would you believe that she has poisoned all seven of her dead husbands, and two of her sons? You may or may not believe these things, only you can tell me that. I just bring it up so you will listen to what I have to say with an open mind. Sure, we are sitting here, drinking this whiskey, two men who have never met one another. And while you may not know who I am, you should know that I have no reason to lie. Not to you. New York is full of over twenty million stories, and all of them could be true.

I know what you see when you look at me, pal. A guy who has had a hard run of luck, a guy who may or may not be drinking up the last thirty dollars in his wallet. A guy who works shit day labor jobs just to have a bite to eat or a drink to wash away the aches and pains of a man going on middle age. But none of that matters, see? What you think of when you look at me means jack shit. I was not always the guy you see now, drinking whiskey that I probably couldn’t afford. As far as you know anyway. At one time, I had a good job. I had a wife and two kids. At one point, I had hope. And for the longest time, I believed that what is dead will stay that way. Buddy, let me tell you, I was fucking wrong.

My story is as long as anyone’s. I was born, I grew up, I met a girl, blah, blah, blah. You don’t want to hear about any of that shit, right? The part you will want to hear about begins back in Maryland, in a small town called Salsberg. You ever see any of those old postcards? The ones with a picture of some sleepy little town out in the middle of nowhere on the front? The kind of place where you imagine they only need three cops, the mayor serves for life, and everyone leaves their doors unlocked at night. That was Salsberg.

I moved there, planning to retire early. I had made a good chunk of change in the stock market, here in good old Fun City. The wife says that New York is no place to raise kids. I didn’t argue that point with her. We all know what a shit hole this city can be right? So after doing some research, I found Salsberg. A small quiet town, like I told you before. It seemed perfect. Low crime rate, decent schools, and from all accounts a friendly place. So fast forward a month and we are moving into this old house just off of Rose Drive. All these old manor houses and small mansions were unoccupied and going for a little bit of nothing. We got a great deal on this place, and Sandy and the kids are excited. I am sure you know how moving goes, the pains in the ass that spring up and the pains in your back from loading and unloading the truck. So I’ll skip that.

So we moved in. The kids start school. The wife and I open a small shop downtown, selling little pieces of the big city to the townies. We did alright, the investment seemed to be paying off and we were settling into the groove of small town life. That slow, mellow, and relaxed way that people have in rural areas. No one is ever in a hurry, everyone you pass on the street says hello and smiles, and you finish up most of your days sharing a beer or two with the neighbors on the porch. Well when the weather is nice enough, and over there the weather is damn fine in the spring, summer, and fall.

That is how everything went for a while. We were all as happy as pigs in shit. Then came the 25th of October, 2003. I had gotten home from the shop early, we had closed in expectation of snow. Sandy had dinner going, the kids were chasing each other around and shouting at the top of their lungs while they played. I hung my coat on the rack beside the door, and forgot to lock it. I kissed Sandy for what would turn out to be the last time, unless you count the one I placed on her dead lips during the private viewing at Lunsford’s Funeral Parlor. She was making pot roast, the smell of the beef, potatoes, and other vegetables coming out of the oven was making my stomach growl.

We sat down to eat as a family, like we always did. Sandy was adamant about that. She believed family dinners were the cornerstone of building a strong bond with the kids. She didn’t know that the kids hated pot roast, or that I had been with the town slut Sasha Grey the night before. Everything in our little world was perfect. All the lies were the cornerstone of my bond with the wife and kids. The secrets. Some were of course worse secrets than others. I am not saying I was the perfect husband and father, obviously. But I was mostly happy. And I did love my family.

If you are doubting that now, wait until you hear the rest of my secrets. I wish I could tell you that my affair was the worst of them, but that would be a lie. You see I had this…. let’s call it a hobby. Every so often, I just have to kill someone. I have been doing it for years. It started when I was thirteen or so. My parents had taken me on vacation to some lake or other upstate. Where doesn’t matter. I was trying to come on to this girl, and she slapped me. Before I knew what was going on, I was holding her down, her clothes were torn off, and I was raping her. I know, fucked up right? But hey, when we are kids, we all make mistakes. The realization of what I was doing excited me, and I finished all at once. She was crying and screaming at me, screaming for help. Like anyone would hear us this far out in the boonies.
So I kind of panicked. I pulled out the pocket knife my dad had given me for my birthday a month earlier. I clamped my free hand over her mouth, and slit her fucking throat. The blood gushed and squirted out all over the place. It covered my hands, face, and chest. I was still inside of her, and the sight of the blood got me all hot and bothered again. She was still warm, so I went for round two. When I was done, I cut her open and started stuffing rocks into her, then tied her shirt and pants around the body to hold them inside. Then I dragged her out into the lake, and gave her a push. She sank down into the water, and was swallowed by the cold, muddy muck at the bottom. They never found that one. She was my first, in more ways than one.

I didn’t do it again for years. Like I said, it’s just a hobby. I was grown before I killed the next one. Some wetback who was offering to shine my shoes for a dollar. The third was a few months later, a hot little thing of about fifteen. She was upset because some asshole had mugged her. She ran to me crying for help, because I was so well dressed I guess. They found her in pieces all over the Bronx. Yeah, that was me pal. The Five Boroughs Slasher. I always hated that name. So unoriginal. Like I was the only asshole to ever take a knife to people in this city. But like I said, my family never had a clue. I was good at what I did.

Unlike what you may think of as my brethren however, guys like Dhamer, Gacy, and Bundy, I had a heart. I feel love, sadness, anger, compassion, all those emotions denied to the typical psychopath. And I treasured my wife and kids. They were the living example of the better part of me, understand? What I never felt in my life though was guilt and remorse. I could rape, torture, and dismember a ten year old kid, then go home and kiss my children good night and crawl in bed with Sandy like nothing ever happened. It’s a sick dichotomy, I know, but these are the facts.

I am only telling you all of this, so you will understand what happened. The whole time I had been living in Salsberg, which by this point was about eight months, I had only killed two people. The first one was a woman. I always prefer women. We have tastes like anyone else, you know? It was a real nice evening for me, her husband was gone for the night and she had no kids. We had the house to ourselves, and I could take my time with her. It was great, very intimate and meaningful. I had my eye on her for a month or more. I had seen her on our second day in town. She was a slender blonde, tall, with an amazingly athletic figure. They said after her “disappearance” she had been Miss Salsberg a few years ago.

I will spare you the details, let’s just say that it was not pleasant or quick for her. I carried her out the back in pieces. These pieces I threw into the river east of town. I was looking forward to more of Sandy’s trips with the kids to see her mother up in Yonkers. It gave me the time to do it right. So fast forward again a few weeks. The husband, Perry Combs, is crazy with grief and all that. He knows that his wife is dead, even though I had left no trace in the house, that she would never run off and leave him. So he starts poking around after the cops refuse to treat it as a homicide. Who would want to kill Amy they ask? Everyone in town loved Amy. She taught Sunday School at the Methodist church, she was a volunteer at the adult literacy program at the high school, she was everyone’s favorite nurse at the hospital. No one knew that the new guy in town, the guy with the perfect family and that great new shop, was a serial killer.

What I didn’t know was how goddamned nosy people can be in a small town. There is someone on every street who spends their nights staring out of their windows spying on their neighbors, hoping to be the one to get the scoop on some juicy gossip. Gossip like how the new guy in town had dropped by to pay a visit to Amy while her husband was away. I never did find out which one of them told him, if I had my body count in Salsberg would have been much higher. But anyway, let me cut to the chase.

It’s about six weeks after I had my One night in Amy, and I am about to close up shop. We had just gotten in a new shipment of personal air conditioners. It was the kind of thing no one in New York would actually use, but at City Image, we sell it all like it’s just another thing for folks in the big apple these days. I expected them to sell like hotcakes, and I was right. They flew off of the shelves. I had set up the display, and put up the stock in the back room. I was tired as hell, it had been just one in a series of long days, so I closed up. Sandy was making some old fashioned New York style pizza for dinner. You will never know how much I missed the pizza here when I was living in Maryland.

I was thinking of how good that greasy, magnificent pizza was going to taste and about how Amy had struggled under me when I had started to cut her as I walked out the back door where I kept my Audi parked. I had set the alarm, like normal. I had also locked the door from the outside, just as I always did. But when I turned around, my routine was derailed like a passenger train slamming into a station wagon full of Mormons. I was looking at a man. He was staring daggers at me, tears welling up in his eyes. ‘Where is she, you bastard’ he said. His voice was breaking like he was trying to hold back sobs and screams both. I looked at him with my best puzzled expression.

‘Where is who Perry? What the hell are you on about?’ I asked him. He moved fast. He grabbed my shirt and slammed me against the door. I was not expecting it, the son of a bitch had caught me off guard. With his free hand, he pulled a cheap looking semi-automatic pistol from under his jacket. It looked like a .32 caliber, or thereabouts. I have seen guys selling those here in bar rooms for as little as fifty bucks. I looked down at the slide, and noticed the serial number had been filed off. I thought I was fucked for sure.

‘MY WIFE!’ he screamed at me. Luckily, I had been working later than most of the shops stayed open, and I knew the chances for anyone hearing this little exchange were about one in two hundred. ‘AMY! I know you were there the night she disappeared! What did you do to her? TELL ME WHERE SHE IS!’ he shouted again. I knew if I didn’t say something, I was as dead as his wife. Of course this guy had me dead to rights, so I figured I would have to throw him off.

I looked him in the eye as I said ‘Well, Perry, that’s hard to say. You see, any piece of her could be in any number of rivers or lakes by this point.’ He began to cry, his eyes now spilling their freight of welled tears. His body was trembling, but the gun didn’t. I had lowered my hands now, he didn’t seem to be paying attention to anything but my face. I slowly dipped my hand into my pocket, where I kept my knife clipped. He pulled me from the door and slammed me into it again. My head smacked the door hard, and I felt pain explode across my skull. He had pressed the gun against the side of my nose now. He didn’t notice I had the knife out and was slowly opening the blade.

‘Tell me…… tell me what you did to her you sick fuck! TELL ME!’ he bellowed. I knew this had to end soon, one way or another. If he kept shouting, someone was going to hear. Or if he pulled the fucking trigger. Then the headache I was going to have would be the least of my problems. I let out a sigh.

‘I got her to let me inside Perry. She was trusting, your wife. Then I blitzed her as she turned around. I knocked her down, ripped off her clothes, and raped her. Then I started to cut, and I cut her for over four hours. When she finally died, I chopped her up and dumped her in the river. Would you like me to tell you how many times she begged for mercy? How about how many times she called out for you, Perry? How she begged me not to kill her, because she had finally gotten pregnant? She said she was going to tell you when you got back. Would you like to hear that too?’ I asked him in a sympathetic voice. He began to make an inarticulate sound then, something between a scream, a moan, and a sob. It just rose from his throat as his finger tightened on the trigger………. and the gun only clicked. A misfire.

He looked stupidly at the gun and I made my move. I drove the knife into his leg, severing his femoral artery with my right hand. With my left I grabbed the gun. He made that clicking sound in his throat I have heard before when I cut people. I wrestled the gun away, and swung it in a wide arc that terminated at his temple. He went down to the ground, bleeding and twitching. I dropped the gun in front of his face as I straddled him. I wrenched his head back and stuck the knife to his throat. ‘Perry, old boy, you should have left well enough alone. But, on the plus side, you are probably about to see Amy again.’ I said as I buried the blade in the left side of his neck. I leaned down and looked into his eyes again as I pulled the sharp little blade through the meat, gristle, and veins and out the other side. I heard him gasping through the cut as he bled out, and I watched the light go out of Perry’s insanely angry and sad eyes.

I stood up and looked down at myself. I was a fucking mess, covered in blood. Perry was making quite the mess on the concrete. I dropped the knife and ran my fingers through my hair, clutching it as they reached the back of my head. I had to clean this mess up. ‘You really are an asshole, you know that Perry. I am going to miss pizza night because of you.’ I said to the already cooling corpse. I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out my phone. I called the house, and Sandy answered.

‘Hey handsome, you on your way?’ she asked. I sighed into the phone.

‘I am afraid not baby. I made a hell of a mess here at the shop, and I will probably be here most of the night cleaning it up.’ I lied.

‘Oh honey, can’t it wait? I do believe I have made the best pizza yet. You sure you aren’t going to come have a slice?’ she asked. I was looking down at Perry, and I kicked him hard in the ribs. I fucking loved Sandy’s pizza.

‘Believe me, I would rather be eating your pie than dealing with this, if you know what I mean’ I told her, in my best flirty tone. She laughed into the phone.

‘You are a bad boy, oh husband of mine. Tell you what, I will leave you a few slices in the microwave. Eat that when you get home, then come to bed for the pie…’ she said this last bit in a sultry tone. I smiled.

‘You have a date gorgeous. See you later.’ I said, then hung up. I turned around and unlocked the door. I stepped inside, and went into the little storage locker I kept in the shop. I kept a few emergency supplies in there. Some plastic drop cloths, a saw, a few knives and some duct tape. The usual basic stuff for a guy of my trade. I grabbed some of the plastic, and went back outside. I opened the trunk of the Audi and began to line it. When I had it all taped up, I drug Perry over and loaded him inside. I went back inside to wash the blood off of me and change my clothes. I always kept a spare set or two in my office there. I chose the basic work clothes I had worn when doing the demolition and remodeling of the shop.

I stuffed my bloody clothes into a bag, and grabbed the shovel on my way out. I threw all of this into the trunk and closed the lid. I went back one more time to get some cleaning supplies and the water hose. I sprayed the blood pools until they washed down the sewer grate near the door, then scrubbed everything that had any blood on it with bleach. Took me over a fucking hour. With that done, I locked up again, and headed for the edge of town. The whole time I had been cleaning, I had been thinking of how to dispose of the body. I usually had a plan in place. I never kill without preparation. Then as I was driving it hit me.

There was this old place just outside of town. Some old ass mansion. The place was fucking huge. I had asked around about it, and most of the locals just knew it as the old Brickman place. They said no one ever went there, kind of a town ghost story or some shit like that. The long and short of it is that it is isolated, decrepit, and that as far as I could tell, no one had tried to go in there since the 1970’s. I thought it sounded like a perfect place to dispose of a body. So I drove out there.

The whole place was surrounded by this high wall, but the gate had fallen down who knew how many years ago. No one lived close by. When I tell you that everyone in this town was afraid of this place, you can truly believe me. Every old storefront, every house, even an old school that was around this place was abandoned. As far at the good people of Salsberg were concerned, this part of town had ceased to exist. So I knew no one would see me pull my car onto the property.

I pulled up the drive to the house, past this old ass ruined fountain, and parked near the west side of the place. I left the engine running, so I could have light to work by. Digging a grave takes a while when you do it by yourself. So I spent three hours digging, and digging, and fucking digging. I had unloaded Perry from the trunk before I started, I didn’t want to be too tired to lift him after I had the hole ready. I constantly reminded Perry of what a dick he was, for making me spend my night at this creepy ass old shithole. The whole time, I felt watched. That should have been a sign to just load him back up and throw his ass in the river with Amy, but I have rules. I never dump a body in the same place twice. I also never dispose of a corpse the same way twice in a row. That really throws the pigs off, you know that? I imagine if anyone were ever to put my crimes together it would drive a profiler nuts.

I am not superstitious though, so I kept on digging. Every so often, I would turn around. I almost expected to see a face watching me from the windows. I ignored it, and planted Perry’s sorry ass in the ground. I threw in the plastic, my knife, my dirty clothes, even the brush I had scrubbed the blood up with. Anything that could connect me to his death went into the ground with him. I didn’t like it, leaving all the evidence with the body, but I didn’t have time to make anymore drops. So I filled the hole, and tapped the dirt down with the spade. ‘Good night, you meddling mother fucker. Sleep well and enjoy your stay in hell.’ I said and tipped the patch of turned earth a salute before spitting on it. I went around the house, and found an old tool shed. I ripped the door open, and tossed the shovel in with the old, worn tools and shut it. I used a stone to beat the nails back in and walked around to my car.

I left the old mansion, and never looked back. I drove home, and went in through the garage. I stripped down to my boxers, and threw all the clothes I had been wearing into the washer. Then I went inside and warmed up my pizza. She had been right, even reheated, it was amazing. After I ate, I walked up the stairs to our bedroom, and crossed quietly to the bathroom. I took a long, hot shower., letting the hot water ease the ache that was already starting in my back and arms. After, I slipped quietly into bed with Sandy, and was asleep in five minutes.

After that night, I tried not to think of Perry again. I just hoped that everyone would assume he left town after Amy disappeared. Hell, that might even take any heat off of me. As far as most people would think, he had done something to her then skipped town when the cops stopped looking. The night I buried Perry was October 23rd 2003. Two days before my girls were grabbed. We had put them to bed early for getting into a fight after dinner. Sandy and I had decided to go upstairs and fuck since it was so early. Needless to say, I was out like a light after that.


I woke up at around two AM. At first, I didn’t know if I had been dreaming when I heard the scream or not. I listened again, and heard one of the girls cry out followed by the sound of the front door slamming. I jumped up at once and ran down the stairs. I turned on the light in the hall and saw muddy footprints and blood on the floor in front of the front door. They were leading away from the girl’s rooms. I ran like hell down the hall and threw open the door to Kelly’s room.


Blood was on the floor, but nowhere else. I saw the prints had come in from Stacey’s room. My heart was beating loudly as I followed them and opened the door. Stacey, little nine year old Stacey, had been torn apart. Her organs were strewn across the bed and floor. Blood was running down the walls. Her limbs were broken and laying in separate corners. I screamed and ran back to the front door and threw it open. The street looked empty, and sounded quiet. I looked at the porch step and saw those bloody prints leading away from the house. I spun around and ran to my den. I typed in the code to my gun safe and pulled out my 9mm Beretta. I slipped on my shoes and grabbed my flashlight.


I ran out into the night, following that trail. I kept calling out Kelly’s name, but heard nothing.

I picked up speed, but noticed the bloody prints were thinning. I called out again. I heard nothing for a moment, then a high scream filled the air. I sprinted toward it, calling her name. All at once, the scream was cut off. I ran as fast as I ever have, I meant to catch this bastard and make him pay. My way.

I had been cutting through the overgrown yards of empty houses, moving west. All at once in that high, dieing unmown grass I came across Kelly. She had not been torn up like Stacey, but her throat had been slit to the bone. Her blood was everywhere, the wound was smoking in the frigid night air. I screamed again, then noticed that the footprints were leading back toward my house. They had faded away completely after the first fifteen or so steps as they headed east, but I knew that he was going back. He had gotten me to chase him just to get me away from the house.


By the time I had made it back home, my chest was on fire and I had stitches in both my sides. The front door was standing open, a muddy handprint was on the jamb. I ran for it as fast as I could. As I reached the door, I heard Sandy scream. I turned right when I came through the door, running for the stairs just off of the dining room. As I threw open the doors to the dining room though, I saw them. Sandy was being held from behind by the fucker, and he had a knife to her throat. She looked like she had taken a punch or two already, her eye was swelling and her upper lip was split open. The blood had ran down over her teeth, staining them red. I could see them while she screamed.


‘Let her go!’ I said. I couldn’t see the guy’s face, he was hiding behind Sandy using her as a

human shield. The knife started to draw blood on her throat. ‘Why are you doing this?’ I asked. A deep, evil laugh came from the man. The knife bit deeper.

‘Did she ask you that, before you cut her throat?’ it said in a deep, almost demonic voice. I knew that voice. It sounded like one I had heard recently even. It was when the smell finally hit me that the dots connected. It was Perry’s voice. Yeah, Perry, but different. As I said it was deeper and….. unnatural. Thats the only word that fits. The smell was that of a body that had just started to rot. That early stench of putrefying flesh, of rot just settling in to the internal organs. Perry moved his head from behind Sandy’s. His face was sagging on the bones. His eyes looked like white cataracts, and their gaze was as cold as a hooker’s pussy. His tongue was swollen and black in his mouth. He dug the blade deeper into Sandy’s neck. Blood was starting to run down onto her shoulders. She begged me to stop him.


‘This can’t fucking be! I killed you!’ I said in a faint, unbelieving voice. He smiled. He reached up and grabbed her hair, wrenching her head back. ‘’Don’t you fucking do it Perry! I swear I’ll..’ I was shouting when he cut me off.


‘You’ll what!? Kill me again?’ he asked in a mocking, insane tone then laughed. The sound was disturbing. You can never put into words the sound made when a dead man laughs. ‘You tried that once, how is it working out?’ he had asked. The mockery in the tone was driving me crazy.


‘Fuck you!’ I screamed at him. My hand was shaking now. I wanted to squeeze the trigger badly. Not to try and save Sandy, not at that moment, but to shut him the fuck up.


‘Is this how you did it to Amy? Is this how you killed her?’ he asked. I said nothing. ‘Oh if you could have seen how I raped the girl I left in the bedroom! I hope it was worse than what you did to my wife!’ I screamed as I pulled the trigger. The bullet punched a hole in the middle of his forehead. His head snapped back, but the bastard didn’t fall. He just uttered that mad, skin crawling laughter as he raised his head. He fixed me in that dead stare of his and ripped the knife across Sandy’s throat. Her screams were cut off and replaced wet, choking noises. He still held her up by the hair when her legs gave out, the weight pulled the wound open wider.


I screamed again as I emptied the gun into him. He just stood there, taking every bullet, his

body jerking from the force of the impacting slugs, but otherwise still. He was laughing louder than ever. ‘Now it’s YOUR turn! Let’s have some fun, shall we!?’ he asked in a gleeful, sinister tone. He came running toward me. I dropped the gun and ran down the hall to the study. I just had time to slam the door closed and turn the lock when he slammed into it. I looked around, trying to remember if I had any weapons in here.

Blows began to hammer the surface of the door. It was shaking in it’s frame, and cracks were starting to splinter through the old oak. ‘Come on, let me in! I’ll make it painless, I promise…’ he was saying as he continued to beat the door down. The sounds of his knuckles slamming into the wood were disgusting. ‘Don’t you want to play with your old pal Perry again? You had sssoooo much fun with me and Amy, don’t you owe me one?’ he asked and laughed again.  I was looking around in a blind panic, then my eye caught sight of the old broadsword I had mounted over the mantle. I ran to it and jerked it off of the wall.


As I turned, the door finally gave way with a crashing sound, and splintered chunks of wood were flying across the room. I could see Perry’s rotting face peering in at me and smiling. ‘Ohhh my…. a sword huh? How fucking quaint!’ he said, in that same mocking tone. ‘I’M GOING TO FUCK YOU WITH IT!’ he shouted, now angry. He charged me with the knife, and I pulled back the sword. I took a swing at his ribs, and the blade dug deep. He stopped and looked down at the blade cleaved into his body, then looked up grinning.


‘That kind of tickles, let’s see how mine feels!’ he growled at me. He starts to move forward again, digging in the blade deeper, as he raises his arm. The knife came down and bit into my shoulder. The pain fucking ran down my arm just ahead of the blood. Something in me snapped. I pushed toward him, and knocked him off balance. I pulled the sword out, and just started chopping at him with everything I fucking had. His blood was flying everywhere, splattering the walls with black. He was still laughing, even when I cut off his fucking head.


‘Let’s see how this works out for me, you’re chopped into pieces.’ I told the head. It stopped laughing and fixed me in its stare again.


‘I’ll come back again! Sooner or later, I’ll pull myself together, so to speak, and come rape you to death with a rusty blade!’ Perry told me. I couldn’t stand the voice anymore, so I chopped at the head one last time, and severed its lower jaw. I dropped the sword, and stared at the pile of writhing body parts.


I went to the kitchen, and grabbed some trash bags. I had to disappear Perry’s still not dead ass from the house before I called the cops. I stuffed him into the bags, and dumped them into the trunk of the Audi. I drove back out to the old Brickman place, and put his ass right back into the same hole. I like things to stay where I put them. Well, everything but his fucking head. I threw that into the river. Kind of a funny thing isn’t it, having to bury a man twice?

So, after that I went back and called the cops. They came and I told em what happened, more or less. Perry’s prints were all over the place. I told em I had chased him out at the end, after he cut me and I got the knife away from him. Then I had passed out from blood loss and called them when I woke up. They seemed to buy it. It’s not like the cops there have fucking forensic teams. After that, I buried Sandy and the girls, then decided to run. I’ve been running ever since. I don’t know if he can come back again, but a guy like me can’t take chances, right?

So now you’re probably wondering how you have found yourself with me in your nice little apartment here, tied to a chair in a room wrapped in plastic. Hell, even a man on the run has to stop and smell the roses every so often right? And I am betting that one little double murder in Manhattan isn’t going to make too many waves. Oh yeah, that’s right. I said double, your daughter should be getting home about the time I finish with you. I’m probably going to make her look at you while I have my fun with her. Keep that in mind. Just do me a favor OK, don’t be a pain in my ass like Perry. Don’t make me put you twelve feet under.

By Lee Bishop

My Mother’s Revenge



“He was a terrible husband,” my mother said, “but he makes a wonderful zombie!” There must have been something of our uncertainty showing on our faces because she rushed to add, “Don’t worry children he is very much the same.” She turned her attention back toward the husk that had been my father. “Mindless, save for the pursuit of his own selfish needs.” That day my father became more like a family pet. My older brother was responsible for feeding him; the stench of raw meat was ever present in our house. Mother’s favorite admonishment became, “Behave! Or I’ll feed you to your father!” and we never doubted she would.
It was three years before I realized how crazy she was. I just turned eleven and stayed up late reading my new comic books when I heard a muffled scream. Concerned for my mother, and still devoted to her as only the youngest of five children can be, I carefully left my room and followed the odd noises to the basement. The door was ajar and after a moment of hesitation I tiptoed down the stairs. My attempts at stealth were inadequate, and as it turned out, unnecessary. She heard me coming and looked over her shoulder. Instead of being angry when she saw me she smiled and gestured for me to join her. As I approached I could clearly see inside my father’s cage.
I had seen him many times over the past three years and learned to ignore the sight and scent of decaying flesh but this time he wasn’t in the cage alone.
There was a woman, she screamed at me around the gag in her mouth. Her hands were bound behind her and my father pinned her against the wire mesh. Her white skin leaked its pattern. Her eyes stared at me and I thought I saw a question in them, a plea, before they opened wider as my father bit her shoulder and ripped off a chunk of her skin.
“Mother?” I asked, incapable of forming any specific question.
“He looked so lonely.” She said, barely containing her glee as she watched him take a bite from the woman’s thigh. “He enjoyed her company well enough in life, I thought he would enjoy it more so now.” She smiled and we watched until the woman was silent on the floor and my father began to shamble restlessly once more.

By Crystal Leflar


1: Beautification
As I’m standing here, naked in front of the mirror, the knife in my hand, tears streaking my ugly, lip-less face, and an idiotic erection pointing out boy in bloody mirrorat nothing, the events that led me here flash through my head.
It’s just like the story that therapist at Harbor View told us, about the Chinese farmer who’s horse runs away. Typical, banal Zen-bullshit parable about the transience of forms, but the point of it is that no event can be considered truly good or bad, as it is impossible to tell what the series of consequences it sets in motion will eventually lead to.
I guess that has some truth to it. For instance, how was I to know in a million years that meeting Camille would lead me to severing my own genitals with a kitchen knife?

The whole unfortunate series of events started with the mistake of cutting too deep. Self-mutilation is a passion that requires acute attention to detail. First of all, one cannot allow oneself to get too carried away. One must work only on the parts of the body that can be concealed by everyday clothing, or the many blood-soaked bandages that conceal the improvements might raise questions.
I’m not a fool; I know what people would say.

My name doesn’t matter. I work in a small public administration office downtown, but where it is, and exactly what I do there, is inconsequential to this story.
For all concerns, I could be anyone, anywhere.
I have a colleague there, at the office, a morbidly obese and appallingly servile man-boy who escapes from the tedium of his life into online computer games. He tells me about his ”adventures”, even though they are of no interest to me, but that’s how I know.
I don’t think he’s ever slept with a woman. I guess, maybe in that sense we are brothers in emasculation.

It is important for me to stress that I am not a sick or an evil man. I’m nothing like Sagawa or Meiwes, and I would never dream of hurting anyone. This is a purely personal project, an ongoing duel with this my most intimate enemy, my body.
The duels are fought in front of my bedroom mirror, standing on a few spreads of old newspapers, a razor in my hand. I twist, turn and tweeze, trying to decide what is most aesthetically pleasing, while my body taunts me with its angles, its jellyrolls, and the ugly little hairs like spider legs sticking out of its pale skin.
I snip off bits here and there and eat them.
It’s not like the taste appeals to me, nor that the idea of autosarcophagy turns me on or anything like that, but the little pieces of myself simply strike me as so appalling that I’m compelled to get rid of them, to remove them, utterly and completely, from my sight forever. That’s why I always eat the small lumps of flesh and fat raw, kneeling naked on the blood-soaked newspapers. The idea of preparing them seems not only appalling, but also horribly affected.
I had been working on my left thigh for some time, planning away more and more so that it’s overall shape was gradually changing, like a piece of wood, when I had the bad fortune of striking an, apparently, important artery.
I quickly realized I was losing too much blood, much too fast. I started feeling dizzy, and as consciousness began to fade, I called an ambulance. I collapsed on the floor in a pool of my own thick, dark blood, and as the darkness swallowed me, I could hear the sirens approaching.
That led me to be committed to Harbor View Mental Institution where I met Camille.

2: Ambition
Our eyes meet across the circle we form for process group. The therapist, a man my own age, with a little fat knob of a head, is talking about setting goals and achieving them. Meanwhile, I can feel Camille’s eyes ransacking my face, not in a judging manner, but with a voracious curiosity, her green eyes nibbling away at me, like tiny jungle fish tasting an animal that has lain in the water for a long time.
While the therapist talks about addressing our issues in an orderly fashion, I too explore Camille’s face, mapping her delicate features, her pale, pale skin, and the tiny freckles abounding across it.
“It can be hard to pinpoint specific issues because multiple issues probably exist,” the therapist drones.
I am not sick. I don’t belong here. I have to get out.
I have always been dissatisfied with my shape, feeling that God must indeed be a very poor sculptor. Even as a young boy I was uncomprehending as my peers laughed and jostled in the shower after phys ed, their small pre-pubescent penises flapping like naked slugs. Were they not as ashamed as I was?
On my 30th birthday, a time when my body struck as me particularly pale, soft and sagging, I became so obsessed with a certain curvature formed by excess fat on my left hip, that I was unable to sleep until I had removed it with a kitchen knife.
I say removed, making it sound sterile and efficient, but in reality it was a messy and arduous affair. Luckily I performed the operation in the bathroom, where it was easy to wash away all the blood afterwards.
The taste wasn’t bad as such, but the little piece of myself was hard to chew, slimy and fibrous, and I almost choked when I swallowed it.
That was how I set upon eating myself into shape.

My commitment to Harbor View has put a regrettable stop to my beautification project.
“Maybe you feel like you’re not in charge of your own lives,” the counselor says.
Yeah no shit, I think. I’m locked in here, forced to listen to you.
I need to get out. The constant presence of the staff and the lunatics, the endless talks with therapists and counselors, the medicine that dulls me more and more for every day, it all eats away at my patience, and my fingers ache to pick up the knife again.
When I awake in the mornings I see the whole day spread out before me, but not the day as lived, only as thought, and in its contemplated state, every day is a weary, endless series of repeated movements and actions, all equally unsatisfying. Before I make it to the bathroom it seems my thoughts have already been there and moved on, leaving me to chase after them, trying to catch up with them for the remainder of the day.
I feel a scream building inside me. At night, it escapes my throat in stifled yelps and moans.
If only the lines traced in my mind by my anger, my sadness and my frustration, could converge, could become a focus point and burn a hole in these damned, white walls.

Camille is bipolar and used to be a drug addict, she confides one night during group.
Again, the counselor talks about goals,”Even simple ones, like finishing a book you’re reading,” he says solemnly.
In my head I laugh at him. I have my goal already.

That evening, after process group, I’m sitting by myself on a couch in the common room, biting little chips of hardened skin off my fingertips, when Camille comes up to me.
“They say cannibalism is the ultimate taboo,” she says, and nestles up close to me.
Her breath caresses the inside of my ear as she leans in close and whispers: ”I think it’s sexy.”
I’m not used to intimacy, but it is not an all-together unpleasant sensation. I look up at her.
“I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t a little ashamed of themselves,” she says. Suddenly she wrinkles her nose like a little girl and pulls away.
“I don’t see how you can do it, though. It must be so disgusting… with the blood, and the- ” she looks down and shakes her head. Then she looks up at me, as if suddenly realizing something,
“You’re Ouroboros,” she says.
Who, I ask.
“I’ll show you a picture,” she replies. ”One day. When we get out of here.”
Then she leans forward and kisses me furtively on the cheek.

Three nights later Camille and I manage to have sex in secret, like a couple of teenagers, while everyone else is eating dinner in the common room.
I have always found the idea of sex disgusting, but when Camille pulls down my zipper, she says: “Man was originally a round creature with four arms, four legs, and one head with two faces. It was a punishment of the gods that we were split into male and female.”
Camille is a clever girl.
“The word sex comes from the Latin word ‘secare’, which means to divide. To cut off,” she says as she rubs my hard shaft.
“We long to be reunited, to be made whole, and thereby dissolve.”
Still, I’m so nervous my legs are trembling when she climbs on top of me, and my hardness penetrates her softness. Her skin is cold in the little white room, but inside she is so warm, and I allow myself to be made whole, and for a moment, dissolve.
Afterwards Camille cries. She can’t, or won’t tell me why.

We hatch a plan to escape together. Camille wants to support me in my project, and seems as eager as I am to get out of Harbor View. She hates the ECT treatments they subject her to, and I can’t blame her.
Our biggest obstacle is an old, red brick wall surrounding the institution on all sides. The gate is always locked and requires a little magnetized chip that only the staff is allowed.
One evening Camille rolls off me and tells me the janitor keeps a ladder in the depot. When she tells me he always has the key on him, and that he is a real pig, the proud, defiant feeling I have after the sex, turns sour immediately.
I try to come up with another way, but Camille shakes her head, and seeing how much it bothers me, rushes to plant a kiss on my lips and promise she’ll be thinking of me.
As a mental patient you don’t have any dignity, and we will do what we have to escape.

When the day comes, it is absolute torture for me. Camille has slipped downstairs during the commotion that arises around the time for night meds, when everyone scrambles to get in line for the little red, white and blue highlights of the day.
I am left to wait, choking down my anxiety so as not to make the warden suspect anything. I bite my lips, fumble with my hands. No matter where I put them they seem to be in the way. I absent mindedly wonder if maybe I’d be better off without them, or maybe, at least, with just one of them?
Suddenly Camille appears around the corner and struts urgently through the room towards me. The warden doesn’t notice that she gives my hand a stolen squeeze, and whispers in my ear that she’s got the key. Relief washes over me. Now we just have to hurry.
As we run across the yard, the dew soaking our soft shoes, I realize I’ve fallen in love with this pale-skinned, green-eyed woman.
We cross the wall and leave Harbor View, never to return.

The next couple of days seem even stranger than the time at Harbor View, and in contrast, tumultuous and chaotic.
Camille has friends that squat in abandoned buildings in the slum, and they let us hide among them until one of them, a skinny white boy with unclean skin and red eyes, who insists on constantly speaking in Ebonics, gets us set up in a small low-rise apartment, no questions asked, crumpled dollar bills from a savings account furtively changing hands.
We start a new life.
The apartment is unpalatable. There are children peddling drugs in the yard in broad daylight, and not a night without gunshots, but we have each other, and for the first time in my life I feel something that I guess must be happiness, or at least a new kind of placid contentment.
For a long time it doesn’t even occur to me that this hole is exactly where Camille wants to be. That it’s close to where she lived before she was committed to Harbor View. I’m too blinded by my love for her, and by the unbridled sense of liberation I feel coursing through me at the prospect of resuming my project.
On our first excursion downtown Camille buys a green dress that matches her eyes in a second-hand shop. I buy an electric knife in Home Depot.
Back in the apartment that evening my heart is racing as I undertake my most ambitious project yet. Since the night we escaped from Harbor View, I haven’t been able to shake the growing annoyance with my hands. The symmetry of them bothers me, and no matter how I arrange them, I can’t help but feel like they’re somehow in the way.
I tie a ligature around my left wrist, tight to cut off the blood circulation, and then watch as my hand turns purple and bloated, and all feeling recedes from it. When I lower the buzzing blade of the electrical knife towards it, I have already stopped seeing it as a part of myself – it is something alien and arthropod, a profoundly disgusting creature. The pain is a flower the color of bruises and fireworks that blooms in my head, as the blade saws through flesh and bone, irascibly spattering blood across the kitchen walls.
The shock to my body is too much. When the last tendon is severed and snaps like a rubber band, and the kitchen filled with the smell of flesh and bone scorched from friction, I feel the familiar tugging of the darkness at the corners of my eyes. The floor comes up to meet me, and from a million miles away I feel my skull bounce against the tiles, all numb and slow-motion like.

When I come to, I’m lying on the mattress that we use for a bed. It is dark outside, with the noises a sleepless city makes; sirens, gunshots, someone laughing menacingly somewhere. I feel cold, and can’t stop shaking, even though Camille has covered me with several blankets.
She is kneeling beside me on the floor, almost as if in prayer, but with an expectant expression on her face, obviously eager to show me something that’s resting in her lap.
There is a dull, pounding sensation in the stump of my arm, and a strange, not entirely unpleasant smell in the air. I raise the stump up to my eyes. Camille has wrapped it up neatly in roll bandages fixed with duct tape. It hurts, but the pain is distant, like a sunset.
Without speaking, and without the buoyant smile leaving her lips, Camille holds a plate up to my eyes.
It takes me a few moments to recognize the articulated, spider-like thing the color of marzipan, arranged neatly on a bed of frilled lettuce leaves and tomato wedges.
“I made this for you,” Camille says and smiles.
We eat in silence, but it is a good silence, sitting on the floor of our crummy apartment, with cheap candles and cheaper wine.
I have been too rigid in my principles, I think. There is nothing wrong with cooking the parts.

3: Dissolution
So how did I get from there, the picture of an idyllic relationship, to, here, alone in front of the mirror, a ruin of a man?
Of course it couldn’t last. Remember the tale of the Chinese farmer I mentioned in the beginning? Well, there you go.
I have severed my lips in frustration. I always felt they were too wet and meaty anyway. I snipped them off with a pair of big paper scissors, so where once Camille placed her kisses, is now a funeral in red, a grinning, crimson mess. I can feel my gums starting to sting as they dry out around my exposed tooth necks.

One day I came home from a trip to the drugstore to buy painkillers, and found Camille passed out in our bed, a needle in her arm.
I shook her awake and yelled at her:
“Was that it? Was that why you were so eager to get out of Harbor View? Was that the real reason?”
She cried, said no and shook her head furiously. She said she loved me. I never used you, she said
I asked her why.
“I need it,” Camille cried. ”I need it to escape. It’s the only thing that makes it quiet in here,” She started beating her fists against her temples.
“There’s so much noise in there, all the time.”
That was when it dawned on me. The sex was not enough to make Camille feel whole anymore, to make her dissolve. That was why the needle had become her lover instead of me.
But who would I have been to judge her? It occurred to me that you can never judge anyone in your own optic, and so I forgave her. I forgave her and forgave and forgave her till I didn’t know which way was up anymore.
I never got to see her wear the green dress she’d bought. It languished at the bottom of the closet, among dust bunnies and dried up puddles of rat piss.
Plato 0, heroin 1.
Sadness and frustration took turns ruling my days from then on, as Camille slipped further and further away from me.
I became jealous that she preferred to retreat to that mysterious world behind her eyelids, preferred it to being here, with me, and so when I came home and found her high again a few days later, we fought, and I shouted, and she cried, and I forgave her, and the whole hellish story soon repeated itself, like an endless, indissoluble knot.
And still I forgave her, even when we started running out of money and I knew she’d started sleeping with her dealer. I think I had severed myself from all emotion at that point. There was only a slow, dull fire that still burned inside me, as I watched her become a stranger, and slip away to whatever desensitized bliss the needle promised.
In the end it wasn’t the drugs that killed her. I will probably never know exactly what made her jump; maybe the answer lies buried somewhere in the past, because after all, what are we, but bundles of damages walking around? Perhaps the ups and downs got to be too much for her. Perhaps she couldn’t think of any other way to quiet the noise in her head. Perhaps the world the heroin offered became so sweet that she couldn’t bear having to go back to one more day in the real world.
All I know is that all things inevitably move towards their end.

My body has indeed become my enemy, now more than ever. My brain haunts me with images of Camille, with sounds and smells that set the memories ablaze again and again. It is as if she has poisoned that big, gray lump of fat in my head against me. My penis as well, it fills with blood and rises involuntarily.
Everything betrays me. With Camille gone I find myself more disgusting and in the way than ever before.
My perception has become fragmented. I no longer remember when or what I eat. I can’t tell the days apart. Even the pain has lost its edge, its reality. But enough talk – I’m getting near the end, and it’s time to get to work. There is really only one thing left to do.
I can’t be sure that I’ll survive the next amputation, and I wonder why I never realized, that from the moment I laid down the very first incision, there was only really one way that this could end. Without realizing it, all along I was working towards cessation. I think I’m finally beginning to understand how everyone needs some way of becoming nothing. How it is our deepest, most secret longing. How it was all about that, about dancing right up close to the edge. To be united, to dissolve, to become nothing. And was there ever really any other way? After all, if I didn’t constantly work to improve myself, then where would I be?
I eat because I can’t allow myself not to. Not ‘I eat therefor I am’, but rather ‘I am, therefor I eat’. I think Camille would have liked that one.
The more I look at myself in the mirror, the more seems to be wrong with the image I see reflected back at me.
Soon I will make the next cut, and it will be my most ambitious one yet.
snake ouroboros
By Lars Kramhøft


bloody tv
Geez the cheese.
The cheese is rancid. A thick and bloated puddle of liquid, like clear puss, brownish and yellow, surrounds the slick brick of dairy like a moat.
The plate underneath is cold and sweaty to the touch. The stench from this decaying island and the hemisphere it comes from hits my nose like a stiff left jab.
It’s as though everything died in here.
All of the food in my refrigerator is rotted. The fruits are shriveled, the vegetables are slimy and brown while the meat is green and fuzzy white. The cartons of milk and juice are twisted,bloated and deformed, looking as if they are about to explode.
There are finger prints scattered all about along with three palm prints. All are distinct and vivid; all are on the walls and the racks yet none of the packages, jars or plates are so marked.
At first I thought it might be mud or grime. At first I thought it might be the product of my lazy hygiene. But on closer examination, the examination of rubbed eyes and leaning into the chilling crate itself, I can clearly see it is blood. To that there is no mistake. It is clearly blood; bright and crimson colored and well defined, without drips or runs.
It is blotted blood, stamped blood, and the blood is not mine.
I live alone with few friends, most of them online. While I may have only fallen asleep in front of the television for just a few minutes, the last time I was in my fridge was about twenty minutes ago to grab a beer. At that time everything was fresh and clean swathed only in the aroma of fresh box of baking soda.
Having lost my appetite I back away and begin to dart my gaze about the room. The paint on the walls, as well as the hue of my cabinets and chairs and table are spotless. The stench of rot does not follow me. The fragrance of decomposition is only in front of me, only when I lean into the refrigerator and the blood and decay.
I am more puzzled than scared.
Everything in the refrigerator is dead and I don’t know why.
Shuffling out of the room and back to my chair bathed in the light of television, I see onscreen the face and form of a delectable young and slender brunette who seems somewhat familiar. While she is so pleasing to my eyes, my mind still wanders and I cannot get over the amount of blood placed in my refrigerator seemingly as a sign or a warning.
And there it is. Do you hear it? Scratching and rustling sounds now surround the room. I always watch television muted because I can’t stand the human voice; it being so shrill and inane.
I can hear the scratches and rustling, clear and unmistakable.
Being a farm boy from way back I know it is too large for a rat or even a raccoon. The scratching and rustling seems to be everywhere and nowhere, but loud enough to be there and I theorize if it is all connected to the rot and blood.
The light switch clicks but the power won’t show. The switch is sticky to the touch and the residue transferred to my fingertips tastes sweet on the end of my tongue.
I know the taste.
The girl on the television is gone. She is replaced first by a phone number to call and then by a snowy picture whose light makes the blood on the switch and the walls glow.
Finger prints and hand prints much like those in the refrigerator cover all four walls in an erratic almost frenetic pattern.
“Everything is dead.” The whisper is harsh and curt.
I know that voice.
“Everything is dead including me.”
Yes I know that voice just as I do the girl on television.
“It took me some time to find my way out.” It is the voice of the girl on the television. It is the voice of the girl from my freezer.
I know it’s her voice once you strip away the volume of her screams and sobs.
“Everything is dead including me.”
I know she’s right, as I can feel her breath on the back of my neck.

By Joseph J. Patchen

The Lust Peddlers

her gasp of “ohhh fuuuck!”,
we screamed.
a finale. describe me.
because we were so caught up in going away.
we discussed almost hallucinations…did she kill flesh?,
bloody nurseshe allows the guests to appear in sexy illustrations
lives in luxury, days slowing fading
silent in her home

it hit her mind with the first thing she filmed
(virtually uninhabitable)
situations where the tests have proven.
a fragmentation woman rising
she is ready
pushes him away
the real psychosexual researcher was murdered
(over there behind the tree in the backyard)

it’s a haven for the beautiful,
the sexy, horny young couples
that never see us
great pain, to a memory
a hell to break loose
you might not appreciate the killer
and the sexually weird
like the torso of previous books unread

she spoke of documented temperatures
just a short walk into the kitchen
to prepare some poisonous bombs,
a point of reference
it was just a matter of being always on
in a room, she watched and tasted lips
and began to massage a smoking clit whilst the mouth spoke
as it burned the sound became louder and louder.

it was just a matter of being always on
your knees facing me, chemical energy.
detonation is a tongue that licks with fragmentation.
each looking to corrupt god’s children
as they lay splayed amidst the atoms
she was no longer a fan of the “thunder-crash bombs”
the one bomb which sucked in energy rapidly, a certain blasting cap
fragmentation is her mouth, just as this rule has been

jammed wondering what it would be like outside,
on the lunchtime-crowded streets
she worked it brilliantly
this would be doing exactly the same thing
licked atomic bombs
a release energy in the maid’s outfit that would be suitable
she licked appeared to contradict her moral righteousness
hydrogen stroke. she then continued

she slept she posed she modeled
she re-built the torture machine. loved watching.

a drummer lay down 4/4 time

ready to meet the other wives,
reached your fusion of the light
black fishnet, hold up stockings.
your eyes. your eyes which rely on the mollusk shells
for warmth and depth

a vehicle driven to massage
the inside turn placed her hands on a sound
being royally pounded by the blast source.
very limited ferocious accuracy and speed

a drummer lay down 4/4 time

moving harder and kissing you passionately, sipping atom splits
bikini beaches typically occur to play
with the naked cheeks in her hands

beaches typically occur based on the theory of
a surge of warm warm moisture over her confusion
lips scoured heels, her dress was raised up
to suck for pain and pleasure.
getting admired how your face just looked just a second ago
before stooping slightly
before your beck gently bent toward the moonlight
your eyes searching, but before she could make sensual liquids

she had rubbed them off, allowing horse-drawn detonations
the students went to church yesterday
and she found that today she was going to be naked,
watching who will be expected to serve
it burned to keep a standard explosive in the playroom
it was undeclared, undeveloped,
to be considered a grave that
employs a process to fuck her

she hated wholesome clean america
as she went about trying to be watched

she filmed his own wife, and screamed louder…

my fingers
she filmed his own wife, and screamed louder…

your hands
she filmed his own wife, and screamed louder…

we ran down everyone

By Peter Marra


Fifty years in the future…

…a rat comes out of a hole in the corner and runs across the cold concrete floor. It stops. Alan Peterson is glad to see it. He hasn’t seen the rat for a while. To him the rat means companionship. It means it’s still

It means that he’s still alive.

“Where ya been?” he asks the rat, but the rat doesn’t answer. Not this time. No, instead it stands up on its hind feet and studies the man with the gray, scraggly beard.

“What’s the matter?” Alan asks. “Cat got your tongue?”

At first he doesn’t realize the little joke he’s made, but when he does he can’t help not to laugh. At least he can still laugh. Laughter is good. Especially in this dungeon or whatever it is that he’s been locked in for…how many weeks has it been? Months? He isn’t sure. All he knows is that it’s been a long time, and with no windows to see the light of day or the dark of night, there’s no way to tell anymore.

Except for the small grate in the middle of the floor that serves as his toilet, there is nothing else in this cell. No sink, no cot, no blanket. Nothing at all. He doesn’t need a blanket, anyway. The room stays the same temperature all the time.

Alan thinks about why he is here, wherever ‘here’ is. He honestly doesn’t know. Every two or three days when one of those men bring him some scraps of food and a small bottle of water and push them through the small hole at the bottom of the door, Alan asks, “Why am I here? What have I done?” But there is never an answer. Just silence.

Silence was alright. For a while, anyway. It was peaceful at first. But after a while it was maddening. After the first week? month? he found himself talking to himself more and more, and sometimes the rat talks back. Sometimes the rat tells him that he belongs here. Maybe the rat is right.

Alan doesn’t know. He doesn’t know if he wants to know.

Lately he’s started making animals to pass the time. Usually they’re just rabbits, but every so often he makes a dog or a snake, and if the mood strikes him right he makes an elephant, some even with tusks. Elephants are cool. The elephants talk, but not the rabbits or dogs or snakes. Just the elephants.

And the rat.

Before he learned to make animals, Alan would walk around the small chamber, counting each step and calling it out loud. The most he ever counted in one day? night? was twenty-four thousand, six hundred and fourteen. Thirteen miles, he figured. Not bad for an old man.

Fourteen hundred and twelve gray bricks make up this small room, except for the one in the corner that’s broken. That one is the rat’s own little ‘home’.

And there were six hundred and seventy three hairs on his left arm.

Before he pulled them all out.

He did a lot of counting. Sometimes he counted backwards. Sometimes he counted odds and evens, and once he tried to count just prime numbers, but that didn’t last very long.

One day? night? about a week? ago, the little light bulb in the ten foot high ceiling went out. It never went out. It was on twenty four/seven. Two men immediately rushed into the room, one with a flashlight, the other carrying a stepladder. One of them changed the bulb while the other one told him to stand in the corner and not look at them. The man said he had a gun, and if he tried to look, he would shoot him in the the head. Alan didn’t look, and after a couple of minutes they left.

Sometimes Alan wishes he would have looked.

God, he wished he would have looked.

Last night? day? he had a dream. He was a hundred-no-a thousand feet up in the sky, looking down at this place, wherever it is, whatever it is, and he was soaring along on the currents of a light breeze, floating in and out of the clouds, free as a bird, free to go where he wanted, whenever he wanted.


Free as a bird.


“Hey, Randy.”


“Come check this out.”

Randy walks over to Paul’s station and looks at the monitor. “Is Peterson making his shadows again?”

“Yeah. I think he’s trying to make a bird this time. See how he’s using both of his hands? See there? See the wings and how he’s making it fly?”

Randy shakes his head. “The guy’s nuts. I wonder if he thinks he’s flying out of there,” he says with a chuckle.

“I wouldn’t doubt it,” Paul answers. “Hey. Wanna have some fun? Let’s turn the light out for a few days and see how he does.”

“You’re cruel, man. Cruel.” Randy reaches in his shirt pocket, fishes out a pack of cigarettes, and lights one up. “Yeah, go ahead,” he says. “Maybe it’s for the best.”

Paul pushes a button on his console and swivels around in his chair to face his partner. “You gotta give the guy credit, though,” he says. “He’s lasted longer than anyone else has.”

Two days later the screams stop.

By Angus