The Other House

“Don’t look back!” Joanie shrieked, her petite face a picture of horror. “We can’t go back that way. They’ll get us!”the other house
Bill glanced nervously behind him. Only a pitch-black void greeted his eyes. He didn’t know whether to feel worried or relieved. He leaned toward worried.
“I don’t see them,” he said between gasps for breath. “Maybe were not being followed anymore.”
“Oh yeah right,” Joanie countered. “You know very well that those things are still after us. We have to keep climbing!”
“Will you two just shut up,” Carol snapped. She’d only known both of them for an hour or so, and was already tiring of their bickering. The things chasing them were probably attracted to their voices, and the last thing she needed was giving away their location because they didn’t know how to keep quiet.
“She’s right,” Bill said quietly. “Let’s just keep moving.”
The dark mass swooped in at that instant, neatly plucking most of Joanie’s right arm from her body. A thin stream of coagulated blood pulsed from the raw stump, slicking the rungs of the ladder with slippery gore.
Carol screamed, the cacophony of terror echoing into the blank space all around them. Bill groaned in disbelief, his widened eyes reflecting the shock of the moment. And Joanie fell, her mutilated body collapsing into itself before slipping away into the oblivion below them.
“She’s gone Bill. We have to keep moving.” Carol felt bad for Bill. She truly did. Seeing your girlfriend torn to pieces before your very eyes would be tough on anyone, but she also wanted to live, and she wasn’t going to jeopardize her chances at survival because of him.
The dull gloom surrounded them and like a dust storm swallowing a small town. There was nothing in the featureless abyss to indicate where they were or how far they’d come. They were merely two survivors clinging to a ladder in a vain attempt to stave off whatever cruel fate the creatures had in store for them.
The creatures.
Despite the dire situation she was in Carol found herself pondering what they could be. Were they some type of demons? Zombies perhaps? Or maybe simply some weird flying bird, obviously carnivorous, and intent on using them as their next meal.
“We have to get moving,” Bill said. His expression was uneven.
Carol nodded and reached for the next rung on the ladder. Her hands were shaking and glistened with grime and sweat. She had to steady herself just to keep from falling.
“I hope she’s all right,” Bill mumbled to nobody but himself. “I really miss her, but I know she’s okay. That’s why she got off the ladder, to escape.”
Carol tried her best to ignore him. He was slowly losing his mind, of that there was no doubt, and she felt if she talked to him she could make it worse. Better to simply keep moving.
“Do you see anything?” Bill asked, a flash of lucidness on his face. I mean, I thought I saw a light below us. Maybe it’s Joanie signaling to us that she’s all right.” He stopped moving and gradually began to lean toward the darkness.
“Bill! Stop it right now! Do you hear me? Joanie is gone. We have to make it to the other side.” Carol hardly believed her own words, but knew she had to be strong.
Bill was gazing downward in silence. His eyes were locked on something there, something which captivated him, dulling any common sense or instinct to survive he still possessed. “I…I can see her! There in the darkness. She’s down there! I can see her! It’s Joanie!”
Carol paused, and against her better judgment, glanced down. Shock literally paralyzed her when she saw a face… Joanie’s face, staring up at her, a macabre and impossible expression floating in an inky sea of black.
“It can’t be,” she sobbed through clenched teeth. “It just can’t be.”
And then the sudden shift in weight as Bill flung himself off the ladder jolted Carol back to the cold, dark tale her reality had become. She could only watch helplessly as her new found escape companion hurtled to his death, his flailing body growing smaller and smaller as it spiraled away from the relative safety of the ladder. She could have sworn she saw a flash of joy on his face before he disappeared completely.
And then he was gone.
Carol did her best to ignore the seething fear bubbling up inside her gut, but focused her attention back on the task at hand: reaching other side.
It’s all right Carol, just think of each rung on the ladder as a type of stepping stone, a platform which will help you reach your destination. Take one at a time, and soon you’ll see how easy it is.
Her mother’s words of the encouragement floated through Carol’s head like birds soaring in a clear, blue sky. Their clarity was matched only by their sincerity.
“I hear you Mom,” Carol sighed into her forearm. I hear you, but I don’t know if I can make it.”
Her words trailed off into oblivion, unanswered, unheeded. The memory that spawned the words slipped into her mind: her mother in her food-stained apron as always, encouraging Carol to ascend a small ladder into the tree house her father had built for her.
It had pink curtains and yellow flowerpots decorating its two oversized windows, and a narrow walkway which snaked around the small rectangular building.
Carol was nervous about the climb, she wished her father had been there; he was at work at the time. She tentatively took one step up the ladder, and then another. She remembered the sanctuary of the ground drifting farther and farther away from her with every rung she climbed. But eventually she had reached her destination: the tree house.
And now here she was trying to reach another destination, although this one wasn’t the pretty little tree house her dad had built for her. This was the most of profound destination one could ever hope to reach: survival.
Carol reached out for the next rung on the ladder. Below her she could still hear the guttural moans and convulsing movements of whatever was lurking in the darkness. Occasionally, although she tried valiantly to block them out, she heard people’s voices mixed in with the inhuman snorts and growls. Some she recognized.
Jim was urging her to join him in the dark, telling her that they were mistaken, that there really wasn’t anything to fear. And Joanie was singing joyfully, mumbling lyrics to a song Carol didn’t know.
“They say that a slow fall is easy enough…”
And there were other sounds as well, the sounds of flesh being torn apart; of teeth mechanically gnashing, of bones clacking together as they are discarded after being picked clean.
Carol clenched the rungs of the ladder tightly. She found that it made her situation a little easier.
Just a little.
“As long as you’re watching world up above.”
Joanie’s singing was growing deeper; the lyrics to her private song drawing out into a mocking threat.
Carol tried to estimate in her mind just how far it was to the other house. A ladder suspended fifteen feet up, precariously connecting two bedroom windows was hardly a foolproof escape plan, but she was just glad that Bill had managed to secure it before the things attacked. He had found it in a workroom, unfolded it, and thrust it through the window. With the girl’s help he was able to ram it through a small window in a neighboring house, thus creating a bridge to freedom.
A swirling breeze was picking up from the east, bringing with it an aroma of tangy pines mixed with car exhaust. Occasionally, the wind caught the stench of the things in the darkness, wafting their odor into Carol’s face. The smell made her dizzy.
Just a little bit further. The other house had to be close. It had to be.
With each movement she made Carol felt more isolated, more alone than ever before. Foggy memories of that day so long ago when she was suspended on that ladder, half way between the ground and her new tree house, drifted into her mind.
A sixth sense alerted Carol to the presence of something in front of her, something big.
The other house?
It’s there! I made it! I made it!
With shaking hands Carol slowly, delicately felt for the next rung on the ladder. Her body tensed when she failed to locate it, her hands grasping at the air, but relaxed when she felt the comforting feel of the cool aluminum in her fingers. Immediately she inched herself forward and began to feel for the next rung. Below, the mocking voices started again.
“They say that a slow fall…”
Carol focused on her destination. The other house couldn’t be more than five or six feet away, maybe less. All she had to do was concentrate and keep moving.
The tree house lit up in front of Carol like a Christmas tree. It had bright pink curtains and yellow flowerpots perched on the sills of the two oversized windows. A narrow walkway wound around a small building.
It was her tree house! The same one her father had built for her! The same one she had been so frightened to climb the ladder to reach!
Carol shook her head, trying to dispel the illusion. She knew perfectly well what she was seeing wasn’t real.
Just think of each rung as a stepping stone.
It can’t be real.
Cold shadows flew by, brushing Carol’s face with their hungry stench.
Take one at a time, and you’ll see how easy it is.
It couldn’t possibly be real.
A razor-sharp talon scraped the side of the ladder; tiny metallic shavings drifted down into the darkness.
That’s it Honey, take one at a time.
Carol inched closer and closer to her tree house. Her mother’s words pulled her forward, gently guiding her to the pink curtains and yellow flowerpots. The soaring black things around her began to slowly slip into obscurity. Their screeching growls and bloated moans diminished with every move she made.
They simply were vanishing. Or at least they were in her mind, which, in many ways, was good enough for her. She knew that they were still there, and her only hope would be to reach the tree house. She’d be safe there, just like she was when she was a little girl.
Take one at a time.
And when she looked at the tree house, really focused on it, she saw someone inside, someone in a food- stained apron who was waving to her, beckoning her to come closer. More shadows flew by. Many more. The things filled the blackness. The pulsating slit far below that allowed them to enter the world so long ago sealed itself back up, forever confining them to their new hunting grounds.
Carol was so close to the tree house she could hear her mother humming.
“They say that a slow fall is easy enough…”
“I’m coming Mom. I’m taking one step at a time now. I’m coming.”
A cold rush of something gritty and yet soft, threaded over Carol’s face. It felt like woven silk dotted with innumerable specks of dirt. Instinctively, she brushed away the threads, but only succeeded in getting entangled in the strange substance even more.
The vague form of her mother stopped with its sweeping. It flicked the broom away and turned to face Carol, it’s increasingly alien form squatting like a diseased cow, bloated and sick. It fastened numerous yellow eyes on its prey. Slowly, it lumbered forward.
And behind the thing’s nest, scarcely noticeable in the gloomy dark, stood the other house. The ladder led straight into its tentative safety, to an upper story bedroom, which until recently, had been occupied by a small girl. She too had ventured out onto the ladder in hopes of escaping the terrible things that had attacked and killed her family. She too had seen something that caused her to leave her bed and go into the night. She too had met her fate at the hands of the thing in its nest.

By Rick McQuiston

Three Poems by Paul Tristram

Sitting Under The Aching Tree Where I Almost Chewed My Little Finger Off In Adolescence

Here I am again,
the skull between my feet
a resting place for the small axe.
The mace in my right hand
fingersand cleaver in the left
are draped invadingly
upon the opposite sides
of where they should be.
I chew the gravel
selectively no more
and spit over the disgust
that stretches away in front of me.
You are sleeping now,
like stupid pigeons,
ignorant to the lightning
waiting above you.
Yet here I sit
chewing on the stump of memory,
my mind always there
two feet away from your face,
waiting for my conscience
to evaporate,
God Help You!

Slaughter Stones

Blackened by experience
I once more unsheathe
the sword of aggression,
standing back to back
with self preservation,
I hack and slice
into the oncoming hoards.
Masks of terror split,
bones and blood spill
from the walls of flesh
that once secured them,
I am the howling winds,
the midnight woods
alive and approaching.
The seed of Slaughter Stones
full grown and strong,
suckled upon the death
you brought to my crib
and now addicted
to this nightmare.
I shall give it back to you
a hundred fold.

The Bucket

She cringed,
crying silently “Why!”
Eyes fixed forward
into the greyness
there would be no looking down
that’s where hell waits.
Her fingers were claw like,
white knuckled and shaking.
1, 2, 3, 4
She counted her footsteps,
madness lay in thoughts
and memories
so once again
1, 2, 3, 4
She was now used to the clanging
in the metal bucket
she levelled at her waist
but the squishing noises
made her soul cave in
every time she heard them
for she knew it must be his nose,
his beautiful nose.
1, 2, 3, 4

By Paul Tristram

A Dead Man Tells No Tales

hauntingHave you ever heard the saying, “A dead man tells no tales”?  I have, numerous times.  Between my father and grandfather, I have been hearing this saying my entire life.  I thought I understood the meaning of it, but here lately I know I was misled on my interpretation.  The way we use this particular phrase in my family is simply an acronym for keeping a secret.

            Do I believe it’s true?  Well, let’s see.  On the one hand, it is impossible for a dead man to tell tales.  Right?  Yes.  However, on the other hand, I do believe in life after death to a certain extent.  You know, spirits, ghosts, hauntings, things like that.  So if life after death is indeed real, then I suppose it could be possible for a dead man to tell a tale.  Even now, after having time to examine both sides very closely, I guess my childhood nostalgia just takes over because I truly believe my father and grandfather had it right.
            I was born and raised in a small town known as Grayson, Louisiana.  I actually lived there until I was sixteen years old.  I suppose most people consider it to be rural area, but we always referred to it as the country; God’s country to be more precise.  My parents owned a farm, a very prosperous farm for where it was located.  We were never exactly rich, but my father always made sure that my mother and me had everything we ever needed.  Looking back, things were great then.  They got even better when my father’s habit of buying a weekly lottery ticket finally paid off, and he hit it big.  He won the jackpot.
            Dad sold the farm.  He said simply that he had worked hard his entire life, and it was about time that he was able to take a break.  He went on to say that it was time for a change, that other than farming, Grayson didn’t really have anything prosperous for us as a family.  He and my mother explained to me that it was time for a change of scenery.  They were planning on uprooting our lives and moving, in other words.  We moved out of the state of Louisiana, bypassed the rest of the southern states which I never, in a million years, would have thought my dad would do.  He was southern proud, and up until then, he had referred to any northerner as a damn yankee.  He never had anything even remotely nice to say about anyone from up north.  However, that did not stop him from moving us all the way up to New York.  Dad did not put much thought into the move before he decided to do it.  In fact, we barely had any heads-up whatsoever and because of that were unable to find a house.  So we had to settle for an apartment in what some considered being slums in Manhattan.  Yeah, Dad could have easily gotten us something better once we got there, but for some reason or another, he chose not to.  He kept saying that there was no point in upgrading to a better apartment or even shacking up in a hotel when it was only going to be a matter of time before he bought us a big beautiful house in the suburbs somewhere.  This was something else that I never would have imagined he would say.
            I had never been outside the state of Louisiana for more than a couple hours and only when we were taking a heifer to an auction or picking one up until that day we left for good.  So unfortunately, I had no idea of anything about a big city.  I had no friends outside of Caldwell Parish.  Mom and Dad were constantly gone:  running errands, searching for insignificant jobs for some type of disposable income, hunting for houses, and checking out some of the best high schools in the surrounding neighborhoods.  I missed the small town life very much.  I missed my friends.  I missed the rest of my family.  I missed everything about the state of Louisiana.
            Anyways, I awoke one day around noon.  Having no responsibilities for the first time in my life, I could stay up as late as I wanted and sleep for as long as I wanted. Those were two of the very few perks of selling the farm.  I wandered into the kitchen in search of my parents, licking my lips at the thought of what that afternoon’s meal would be.  I was disappointed, though.  I discovered only a note attached to the refrigerator:
            We found a house just a few miles away.  Surprise, its actually out in the country.  The realtor would not be free for another couple of days, so we had to go check it out now, and you were sleeping so peacefully that I didn’t want to wake you. There is some money on our dresser.  You can go get you something to eat and find something to keep you occupied for a little while.  Be back shortly.
                                                Mom & Dad
            I took a quick shower, grabbed the money, and left.  I was not really hungry at the time.  Well, not hungry for any of the things around the neighborhood.  Hot dog stands and cheesesteaks paled in comparison to the great food back home.  I just needed to get out of that cramped, little apartment.  I felt smothered when I was there.
            Our building was actually owned by an infamous slum lord.  The place was horrible, although it was said to be his best building.  Still to this day, I would hate to see some of the other ones that he owned.  On the stoop leading into the building, there always sat some of the neighborhood kids.  My parents thought they were gang members. They forbid me to even talk to them.  So I didn’t.  I was afraid to talk to them anyways because I, too, had conformed the same opinion of them that my parents had.  After all, every one of them dressed in nothing but blue everyday.  They were covered in tattoos, and some even carried guns.
            There were five of them on this particular day.  Once again, their clothes were all blue.  One was shirtless with navy blue cargo shorts, one wore a blue tank top, one had a blue bandana wrapped around his head, one had a blue baseball cap turned around backwards, and one had on a blue jersey of some sort.  They were very intimidating even when they were just sitting there joking around as they were on this day.  So, I took my parent’s advice and steered clear of them.  The only problem was that on this day they didn’t steer clear of me.  When I reached the bottom of the stoop, one of them spoke.  This was a first.  I had never seen them talk to anyone outside of their little group.
            “Where you goin’, white boy,” the guy in the bandana blurted out.  He was the biggest of all them and looked the meanest.  He also appeared to be their leader.  What confused me most of all was the fact that he was also white.  They all were.
            I tried my hardest to ignore them but could not.  The guy in the tank top hopped off the side of the stoop and stood up in front of me blocking my path.
            “The man asked you a question, white boy.  I suggest you answer him real quick,” he demanded.
            “Uhhh… I’m just going to get something to eat,” I managed to stammer out.  “Please, I don’t want any trouble.”
            “There’s no trouble to worry ‘bout here, man,” the guy in the bandana said calmly.  “I was just hopin’ that you could front me five dollars ‘til I get paid Friday.”
            “I would, but I don’t have any money on me,” I lied.  Why did I ever lie?
            “So how you gonna get food if you have no money?” the guy in the jersey blurted out.
            “I am going to meet my parents for lunch,” I lied again.
            “Okay, white boy,” the guy in the bandana says.  “You’re free to go.”
            The guy standing in front of me calmly took his place back on the stoop.
            I felt so relieved as I walked down the sidewalk.  The more space I put between myself and them, the better I felt.  I didn’t want to look back.  For some reason though, I just could not help myself.  I took a quick glance back.  They were all gone.  Well, two of them were now coming down the sidewalk behind me.  The other three had disappeared.  I wasn’t really sure if they were actually following me, but I assumed they probably knew I was lying to them and that I had gotten off very easily.  I was petrified.  I didn’t know exactly what to do.  So I jogged into the alley on the side of the building.  I was hoping to make it around the back and just go up the stairs back to our apartment and wait for my parents to return home.
            I sprinted through the alley and finally made it to the back.  The stairs leading up were at the other end of the building.  I had time.  Since I was running short of breath, I decided to slow down and walk the rest of the way hoping not to draw any extra attention to myself.  Surprisingly, the three guys that had disappeared were now waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs.  I turned to head back the other way, back towards the alley, but the other two guys were now behind me.
            I shut my eyes, hoping to wake up.  I couldn’t.  This was no dream.  It was a nightmare came true.
            “I think you lied to me a minute ago, white boy,” the guy in the bandana yelled.
            My stomach dropped.  I feared for my life.
            “Empty your pockets, white boy,” he spoke again as all five of them began rapidly approaching me.  His voice was full of anger; rage.
            I emptied both back pockets first, revealing only my empty wallet.  I emptied my front right pocket next revealing only my small pocket knife.  One of them, still to this day I’m not sure which, ripped it from my hand and shoved it into his own pocket.
            “Now the other,” Bandana demanded.
            I pulled out my cigarette lighter first.  I was now praying that I had kept running and maybe screaming to draw some attention, any kind of attention.  I was praying that someone was watching and would stop them.  But I knew better.  I could only hope that something would happen to prevent me from pulling out the money that my parents had left.
            Unfortunately, nothing out of the ordinary happened.  No one showed up.  The gangsters didn’t just up and decide to leave and leave me alone.  Yeah, my mind wandered to some pretty unrealistic probabilities, but I couldn’t help it.  I just wanted out of the situation.  Having no other choice, I dug deep down into the bottom of my pocket and wrapped my fingers around the twenty dollar bill.  I thought of just balling my fist up around it, concealing it, and hoping for the best.  Who was I kidding though? They still would have eventually found it, and that probably would have just made it worse when they did.  No, I just pulled it out and threw it to the ground at Bandana’s feet.
            “There.  Are ya’ll happy now?” I said.  I tried my hardest to sound angry, but fear continued to thrive in my voice.  “I swear that’s all I have.  Now, can I please just go?”  Did I really expect begging to get me out of this?  Yes.  I guess I did.
            “You know what, white boy?” Bandana asked.  No fear there whatsoever, just anger and rage.  I could see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice, see it in his body language.  I knew something bad was about to happen.  “I hate it when people lie to me.  Too bad for you, it seems that you just lied to me.”
            He reached inside his coat pocket.  Now, as I have said before, I knew nothing of the city life, but there was no doubt in my mind about what he was hiding in that pocket.  There was a gun.  It had to be.  I had seen one too many gangster movies not to know what was going to happen next.
            There was no more begging or pleading.  It was simply time that I took the consequences for my actions.  I shut my eyes once more.  This time I was not trying to wake up from a horrendous nightmare.  No, I knew this was real.  I was simply dwelling on the finer things in my life.  I envisioned that I was back on that beautiful farm in north Louisiana.  It was unbelievable.  Everything looked so vivid.  It felt so real.  It was almost like I was having some sort of out of body experience.  I hoped that when I reopened my eyes that the guys had just scooped up the twenty and left.  I was hoping that I would be alone.
            Of course, that did not happen.
            I didn’t open my eyes for quite some time after that.  In fact, when I finally did, it was seven hours later.  I was no longer in the alley behind my apartment.  I was lying in a hospital bed looking up at my sorrow-filled parents.  My mind was blank after I shut my eyes.
            My doctor would later fill me in on what happened.  It turned out that my knowledge of movies had been right.  Bandana did have a gun.  He did pull it out as well. He fired two shots at close range, and then they all left me for dead.  Both bullets hit me in the chest.  One punctured my right lung.  It collapsed shortly after taking the bullet in.  The other stopped just short of reaching my left lung.  The doctor said that there was no way on Earth that I would have survived if that second bullet would have reached my other lung.
            The doctor also advised me happily that they were able to remove both bullets without harming me any further.  He also said that I would be back to normal within in a month or two.  Despite the situation, I was happy.  My parents were not.  My dad decided right then and there that city life wasn’t for us.  He told me and my mother that as I soon as I got better we would be leaving.  We would go back to Louisiana.  This made me even happier.
            So, I ask again, is the expression, “A dead man tells no tales” true?  I guess it depends on the situation.  I was pronounced dead three different times en route to the hospital on that day.  A fourth time while lying on the hospital bed in the midst of surgery.  So in my case, I guess it would be false.  After all, I lived to tell my tale.
            Three days, later something went horribly wrong.  I’m still unsure as to what exactly happened, but I guess the doctor lied to me.  It turns out that a small fragment of the second bullet had broken off and failed to be extracted.  It worked its way into my left lung over the course of three days creating a small puncture.  I know it doesn’t seem like much, but keep in mind that it had only been three days since the accident.  My right lung was still not at 100 percent, but they had chosen to let me breathe on my own. They said it would make my recovery that much quicker.  When the fragment reached my left lung, my body was still so weak that it collapsed nearly instantaneously.  My right lung couldn’t maintain proper functioning under the added pressure.  I flat lined so suddenly that there was nothing the doctors or nursing staff could do.  This time, I would not be revived.  Surgery could no longer help me.
            So I ask you a final time.  Is the saying true?  My answer:  absolutely not.  In some since, I am still here, searching for what to do next.  I wander the streets aimlessly. I am so lost, yet I have never felt so alive.  I spent years doing absolutely nothing after I flat lined that final time.
            Finally, one day I got to thinking, and yes, I can still think.  My father used to tell me ghost stories.  They always ended with me asking were ghosts real.  He would always tell me the same exact thing.  “Yes.  They are real.  A ghost is simply an extension of a person.  If a person dies with unfinished business, whether it be revenge or just simply an important message, they cannot rest in peace until their duty has been carried out.”  I grew up believing this, believing that ghosts all had purposes.
            So I ask you this, could this be false as well?  I would like to think not.  After all, I am still here.  Now I don’t know what my purpose is.  I have no message to forward on, but I thought this to be an interesting story, an important story, therefore I have relayed it to you.  Revenge?  Maybe.  I have sought my revenge on three of my five attackers.  I have haunted them, broke them down, hurt them, and left them for dead.  Two more to go.  Just two more.
By Jeremy Simons

The LongPig

holding handsHe wasn’t trying to kill me. Didn’t have a taste for me, he said, grease dripping through bloody gristle down his fat and scrumptiously bare tits.

I could never rely on anyone to look out for me. Not now. Not when I was a kid. Couldn’t rely on anyone to stand up, to protect. It was a shame, just a damn shame. Crying alone. Feeling ugly, measured in slights and trifles, until I met him.
So what!
I contemplate. I Annex. Then I plunge. Headfirst? Maybe.
So what, so what, so what . . .
Hey there, Puppet!
Hey there to you too, not your real name either.
You’re funny, kid. How old are you?
Old enough!
Old enough, huh? Wanna play a game then?
What kind of game? Subterfuge Twister? Where’s Mr. Mephistopheles in gingham and rubber pants?
Yeah, whatever, kid. You bet.
I’m bored, obviously, so it had better be good.
You won’t be bored, kid.
You sure?
Yes. I like you, kid, and nobody I know dies of boredom.
Sounds refreshing.
It is, kid. It is. Trust me.
Don’t know you. Can’t really trust you.
I know. Exciting, isn’t it?
Yeah, kinda.
So what do you say, kid? Are you in?
Yes, what?
Yes. I’m in.
He asked if I liked to eat, said he liked to cook for people who liked to eat. Liked to prepare things to be eaten. He sent me pictures. Lean cuts. Nicely marbled. Slabs pink, seasoned, and tenderized. Fresh. Fed on sunshine and green grass. He said he worked in an abattoir. Cages. Tables. Scalpels. Freezers. Steel on Steel on Steel. Didn’t contaminate the meat, he said. I thought that was good – at first. At first is a funny thing. Never means what it is in the end. We ignore things at first.
We don’t mind.
Want a friend.
Feeling desperate.
Feeling lonely.
No, we don’t mind a lot – at first. Charity. Oversight. Whatever. Then we see things we don’t want to see.
Things we can’t unsee.
Then at first becomes something else. Something needful, dark, and horrible. Something so satisfying. So right.
He wasn’t trying to kill me, at first, but when he wasn’t, I was trying to kill him.
By Cheryl Anne Gardner

The Devourer Emerges

dark sex

Sitting peacefully on her bed, Lauren listens to the sounds coming from the baby’s room across the hall. She hears Tim whispering to their daughter, Celia, as he rocks her and waits for her post-feeding burp. They’ve recently switched from breast feeding to formula and Lauren’s body belongs to her again. This thought sends her mind in a new direction and she stands up suddenly, and walks quickly to the closet. She smiles as she opens the closet door and then in two quick motions she is naked, her sweatpants and ratty tee shirt discarded carelessly on the floor. Still smiling, she remembers something Tim said when they had first started dating. “Sweat pants are sexy…on the floor.” She laughs at the memory.

The eyes of The Devourer hover unseen, looking down from the corner of the ceiling in the baby’s room, watching Tim as he gingerly places Celia into her crib. The body of The Devourer is sitting patiently in a shadow downstairs, beside the front door of Tim and Lauren’s house. Though they are separate they move as one.

Tim’s gaze rests on his peacefully sleeping child. He is incredibly proud of his ability to put her to bed. With careful steps Tim walks silently over the carpet, out of the baby’s room and into the hallway. The hardwood floor is cool on his bare feet as he moves quickly towards the bedroom door and pushes it open. Unseen the eyes of The Devourer follow behind him.  There is pleasant surprise at the sight of Lauren lounging seductively on the bed.

Lauren’s eyes meet Tim’s and then she glances down at herself. Tim’s eyes follow, taking in the sheer nightgown. The garment is molded delicately against her body. The gauzy, light blue fabric obstructs Tim’s view of her budding nipples, but her desire for him in this moment is obvious. Tim approaches Lauren as she moves on her knees across the bed to him and his hands reach out, yearning for the feel of her body against his. She eagerly takes his tongue into her mouth, slides her hand inside his waist band and cradles him gently feeling him as he swells towards her. With her other hand she loosens the drawstring at his waist. Tim’s pants fall forgotten to the floor.

The eyes of The Devourer watch from above. His hunger grows as the couple’s hands caress each other. He watches intently as Tim’s hand moves beneath the light fabric and cups Lauren’s breast. His thumb works in circles around her nipple, causing her to moan as it grows harder. Outside the body of The Devourer snaps the handle on the front door off and drops it carelessly to the ground and he enters the house. Once inside he silently takes his shoes off and places them on the family’s shoe rack.

Tim pulls Lauren’s nightgown from her body while downstairs The Devourer removes his shirt. He will not allow his clothes to be sullied by what is to come. Tim lowers himself to his knees and drags Lauren’s body forward. She falls onto her back, laughing and the bedspring rattles in preview. She smiles eagerly as Tim pulls her toward him until her legs are around his head. His tongue traces her soft outer flesh before plunging inside her and her grip in his hair lightens as the speed of his tongue increases. The Devourer hears Lauren moan as he carefully folds all his clothes and puts them on a chair by the kitchen table. The feverish bodies upstairs gently rock the house and their vibrations resonate through The Devourer’s body. He knows the layout of the house and moves slowly, soundlessly toward the stairs. His fingers glide across the walls as he watches Tim’s hands move up Lauren’s arching body, grasping her breasts.

He sees Lauren’s hands move to Tim’s shoulders, pulling at his shirt. Her ankles remain on his shoulders as he rises from between her legs and pulls his shirt off. The Devourer sees a look of pure adoration on Lauren’s face as she smiles up at her naked husband. Tim grabs her thighs and pulls her closer to him, her soft legs pressing against him. He grows harder, pressing against her quivering opening. Tim feels her growing wetter. The Devourer watches the growing sheen between Lauren’s legs from above the couple as her hand moves slowly, delicately taking his shaft and guiding him inside her with a passionate shudder of pleasure.

Through the darkness The Devourer climbs the stairs, pausing when he reaches the top. He waits for Lauren to close her eyes in pleasure before entering the hallway and when she does, The Devourer moves fluidly past Celia’s room. He pushes his nude body against the wall outside the open bedroom door. He sees Tim’s hands move down Lauren’s quivering body, raising her hips to allow for deeper penetration. The couple is lost in their own rhythm, completely absorbed in each other as Tim’s thrusts become more rapid. The increasing volume of their bodies coming together further mask The Devourer’s intrusion.

His eyes are fixed on the couple but The Devourer then sees his own body enter the bedroom. He watches his powerful shoulders flex as he stands behind Tim and waits. Lauren opens her eyes to her husband but quickly notices the intruding form behind him, the form with the hollow, empty eye sockets. She looks deep into the shadow, unable to comprehend what she is seeing and then, looking past the massive figure behind Tim she sees the two eyes hovering above the door. Her sensual purr turns into a shrill scream. Tim stops instantly. “Lauren?”

It happens in a moment that feels like forever to Lauren. The Devourer grabs Tim’s arms and holds them tightly, pressing his bare body against Tim’s.  He feels the thin layer of sweat rub against him as he lowers in mouth to his neck and tears into it. Tim’s pumping blood splatters from his body, the dark liquid flows freely from the wound. Tim gasps feebly, trying to breathe as the blood gushes from his body with increasing speed. The Devourer sucks deeply. He savors the feel of himself, pressing against the weakening body. Lauren is trapped by the weight of both the intruder’s body and that of her dying husband. She feels Tim’s warm blood on her sensitive skin as it flows down her bare leg, pooling at her groin. She feels Tim still rocking inside her as The Devourer feeds. Her legs still rest upon Tim’s shoulder as they begin to slouch and when her feet touch the intruder’s cold, hard flesh her toes curl.

Tim looks to his wife as his life ends, an apology in his eyes before they close forever. A tear streaks down Lauren’s cheek and then her husband’s corpse is carelessly tossed aside, striking the wall with a horrendous thud. She scurries backward away from the intruder but she’s too slow, he is upon her. Tim’s warm blood covers her bare skin as the intruder’s body rubs against her naked body. She feels The Devourer’s strength but the new mother thinks only of Celia as he pierces her neck and begins to drain her.

The Devourer is in awe of himself as he watches his strong body rise from Lauren’s bloody corpse. He smiles, seeing the power in his chest that’s glistening with blood. He moves with purpose to Celia’s room, blood trailing down his flat stomach and dripping in his wake, absorbed by the soft carpet in the baby’s room. His eyes return to his sockets. He feels his skin stretch before snapping back into place and he looks down at the baby in anticipation. He reaches for her, savoring what is to come. His massive hand encompasses Celia’s entire, fragile body. Jarred from sleep, she cries for her dead parents and wails in fright as The Devourer brings her to his mouth. He tastes her tears first and this brings a smile to his parting lips before he indulges himself fully.


By M.R.  Gott

For more with The Devourer check out Where the Dead Fear to Tread

Three Poems By Christopher Hivner

Created Below
Unshrouded death
spinning like a fucker
through my raped brain
unabated to my memories
of you and the rail-thin
specter punches
a cold claw into my
gray matter dragging youshrouded
out in a rheumy clump on
the end of a curved talon
raking a course tongue
between your legs slipping inside
deep inside and tasting
how much you wanted him
every time you screamed out his name
when we fucked and you scratched my back bloody
to lure him and now that I’ve
crushed your skull
I’m trapped as a vessel
for the incubus to have you and all I can do
is sit in the dark
and stare at your corpse.


If You Pay Me
I will kill your husband
I will follow your wife
I will create an accident
I will “send a message”
I will dispose of the body
I will burn the motherfucker down
Call the number,
bring cash.
If you pay me
I will do anything for you
. . . or to you.


Miller Kother
I should be able to control myself
but when you’re around
I smell your blood,
my nostrils flare
with the scent of iron,
my muscles harden
and my bones ache
to strip your flesh
for consumption
by my children.

I must learn control
to survive,
if I slaughter you
I will have no fantasies left,
no dreams to follow,
no aspirations
to drive me forward.

If I am to lead
the tribe
I must satiate
my desires elsewhere.
If I am
to be remembered
among the hallowed warriors
I must kill my enemies
and leave you be.

Mother, you are safe
for now.

By Christopher Hivner


bloody handI masked taped my right hand with a roll of quarters inside the palm.

Each blow I delivered cracked a different bone in his shattered face which started looking like a freaking accident at a ketchup factory. But believe me this was all by design. It was by re-design. I began re-designing his facial features until he lost voice and vision and every ounce of dignity.

He stopped moaning and I felt it necessary to begin kicking his ribs until their splintered ends pierced his lungs. Ironically this is a sure fire method to determine if he is still breathing. Dark red fluid streamed from every opening in his pathetic excuse of a cranium. I was baptized in the blood of my hated enemy and but felt clean.

I sent so many blow and kicks to his face and ribcage I became sore and somewhat fatigued. It was a humid night and that often drains your energy reserves further when engaging in strenuous exercise. I think I lost in water what he lost in blood.

I could see urine on the ground and smelled his bowel movement in the air. He pissed and shitted himself like the weak willie I expected to find in this parking lot. These scum bags are always big and strong around women until a Man enters the picture.

I new his goddamn name, his schedule, his physical description and his car. But most of all I knew this piece of puke nearly raped my mother at the hospital where she had worked for thirty two years. I rewarded the janitor who saved her and he told me everything. Did he live or did he die? Who the fuck cares?

My mother would never approve of any of this. I doubt you’ll tell her either.

By Mark Rossi


There were many things about his lower class flatmates that annoyed Augustus Farnsworth IV, but none more so than the fact that the six of them had to share a single bloody toiletbathroom.

As someone who grew up on a property, so vast, he could attend to his functions in a different W.C. every day of the week, this was taking some getting used to. Alas, until such time as he decided to sire a child for his parents, in order to ensure that the Farnsworth bloodline would march on, he was, financially at least, on his own.

He turned the bathroom door handle to find it locked as per usual. When he enquired how long the current incumbent would be, the only response he received was the sound of a turd plopping in the toilet bowl. Not the wittiest retort he’d ever heard, but it spoke volumes as to how strained relationships had become between himself and the common clay around him.

And yet this impudence did not anger for he was pre-occupied with a nagging that had been with him for several days. Something was missing from the flat, something just was…



As he waited to use the facilities, he graced the kitchen to make himself a coffee.

Emptying crockery from an overflowing basin, he stopped dead at the sound of stagnant dishwater gurgling down the sink.

He rushed through and banged furiously on the doors of his flatmates, only Gaz did not appear.

“Have any of you heard our toilet flush in the past three days? “, he asked.

They all shook their heads.

“Have any of you used the toilet or did you just wait until you arrived at work?”

A tidal wave of epiphany drowned them all.

With one firm shoulder charge, Augustus barged through the cheeseball lock on the bathroom door.

The stench was inconsolable.

And there, sitting upon the throne, trousers around his ankles, eyes wide open in terror, was the three day old corpse of Gaz.

Augustus noticed there were flies everywhere, yet none of them flew, so bloated and sleepy  were they  from feasting on their human banquet.


He couldn’t help looking between his ex-flatmate’s legs.  Even from this distance he could see a pulpy tartare of flesh, by a pubic verge, where once his genitals had belonged.


Holding his breath, he crawled forward and peered into the splattered bowl , just in time to see a chunk of putrid intestine drip, from a raw mutilated anus, into the mouth of a rat, as big as a cat, that scurried up and leapt towards the throat of Augustus Farnsworth IV.

There would never be a V.

By Kevin Duncan