Cleaning Up After

Dead_GirlThe smell lingers and so do the smoke and the haze. The smoldering continues but the broader fire is out.

Yes, the fire spread quickly. It was intense and just hot enough to burn off her flesh and muscle leaving her bones warm and almost clean. Any grease and soot left over simply wipes off with a damp rag leaving only a slight yellowish hue.

I can secure her now. I can place her light and petite frame in a small, easy to conceal box. Something compact; something, if I fancy, I can even carry with me.

Even in death, I will still have her hands to hold and her fingers to clutch; her features to stroke and a face, of sorts, to gaze upon.

But most importantly, she is safe now.

She is safe now. She is at peace and is no longer in danger; no longer a target from the local ruffians and predators that would seek to make her suffer just as the two who lie next to her with their heads, both big and small, completely blown off.

It’s my fault I didn’t protect her from them. I am never around. It’s my fault the hours I am forced to work. Completely and unequivocally my fault we lacked the money for an alarm system and the mark is died squarely on me for having taken our gun out of our residence for my amusement.

Oh I heard about the rumors about town. The salacious remarks about her and other men. Jealous snipes of illicit acts; all I know to be false.

The sirens surround as I finish wiping and stacking her bones in a basket we used for picnics when we were first married. I feel so bad we haven’t been on a picnic in years.

The sirens are insistent. One thing in my favor is our distance from town. Living here on the outskirts allows me the extra time to gather her, spirit her away from this sordid mess; buffering her presence from the scandal others will manufacture.

But my story, the true story, will be a simple one. Surely no one can find fault with the defense of one’s home and the vengeance of the honor of my young and beautiful wife who was brutalized and burned.

I am not concerned about the police or the courts. They will see. They will shift the blame to those I have designated and mutilated; they will clearly see me as a distraught husband whose love for his wife and his work ethic is above reproach.

Funny, and it is so cliché; I am not sure if they were more surprised to see me, my gun, or to find that the young and attractive woman they thought to be so alone and ripe for attack, was actually a corpse; a freshly dead one only drugged and strangled within the past two days; a woman clearly in her prime, now cold and soon to be rotting in our bed.

Yes, I wonder if these single minded rapists were able to speak, what would they tell me frightened them more; A man who kills his wife for threatening to leave him or the joy I demonstrated in first shooting their exposed cocks off before putting them down.

It was my plan to burn her anyway in order to get the worms and maggots out of our bed.

By Joseph J. Patchen

Forever Hurts Like This

Until death of the flesh, it will fuse to my skin
The golden gated community of my sin
It becomes tighter, oh so much tighter every year
My fault, I’m more gluttonous than I’ve ever beengasmask girl
So hard to tell, where the bone will end and the ring begin
Ah, but the removal is so very austere

Rending skin and muscle between the single bond;
It has created so many more, so many restrictions have spawned
Oh, tireless, nervous fingers pulling on the audacity
Fresh blood, so cold, spilling from the engorged veins beyond
Each drop is ashamed, a flurry of guilt for their abscond
Stride for stride, across the miles, the length, the end of my voracity

Cruor, the truth takes a form
Blessed, in suffering invested
Forever, for never
Cruor, this is the longest storm

Hollow, bones and hearts so empty
Bleeding, the devils are feeding
Gory, ah the old glory
Hollow, we share the pain- aplenty

By Tristan Standridge

Alex Needs to Eat

chained“But it’s just a story! You aren’t a real witch!” Alex shouted, kneeling in his iron cage and pulling at his beard.

Linda hissed at him, pulling the collar of her purple bathrobe over her mouth, chewing it with filed teeth. She shook, her halo of kinky white-blond hair quaking around her head like a living cloud.

“Alex,” Paige murmured. “Please shut up.” She slipped her thumbs under her steel collar, trying to give herself relief from the chafing. Maybe if she made Linda happy, Paige might ask for something more comfortable, maybe a cable lead instead of the heavy chain fastened to the eye-bolt in the floor. Maybe, she might ask for something to wear, now that it was fall and the room remained always cold. She had to be careful, she thought. The carpet showed heavy wear marks from the chain, and it looked like that before Linda ever locked the collar on Paige.

“No! No, I won’t shut up!” Alex yelled. Paige wished he would stop. Like her, he was naked. He looked ridiculous, screaming inside his cage like that, rolls of fat gathered about his waist, his body covered with scabs and cuts. He knelt because there wasn’t enough room to stand in the cage, which was about a yard high. “What the fuck? Hansel and Gretel? You are crazy, Linda! You’ve lost your fucking mind! It’s a fairy tale and you think it’s real. What, you’re really planning on eating me? They will execute your crazy ass, you psychotic bitch! And I have HIV! You’ll be infected!”

“Not big enough, yet,” Linda said, growling. “Not grown enough. You need to eat. Less crying. More eating.” She nudged the tray closer to his cage so Alex could reach. A row of jumbo pretzel dogs, interspersed with sausage links, sat next to layers of smoked bacon, next to a giant pecan cinnamon bun, next to a extra large peanut butter and chocolate shake from the nearest ice cream chain store. Paige knew it was peanut butter and chocolate because she could smell it, even across the room. She could smell everything. She could have identified each item blindfolded. She knew when Linda cooked a different brand of bacon. When Linda brought home fast-food burgers and fries, Paige could identify the store by scent even before the woman opened the door. Paige’s stomach growled, rumbling, whining.

“Ten steps away. You know the rules,” Linda said to her.

Paige took a step backwards. She knew exactly how far ten paces was from the food. She reached back and ran her fingers along the scabbed welts on her buttocks and back. She knew the rules. She saw a mist before her eyes. The bacon glistened, the smell pouring into her nose. She could imagined droplets of moisture wafting through the air from the meat, and tried to suck them into her mouth.

Alex reached out through the bars, gripped the tray and flipped it, scattering pretzel dogs, bacon, and sausages into a pool of spilled shake. The pecan cinnamon roll rolled once and fell face-down on the dirty carpet.

“Corner!” Linda shrieked at Paige. And Paige backed off, slowly, until she felt the walls behind herself. Her mouth filled with saliva. Linda screeched and grabbed a cut-off broomstick covered with little nails driven into it except for a portion that served as a handle. The heads of the nails were cut off, the shafts sharpened to needle points. A knitting needle stuck out straight from the tip.

“Now you get the pokey stick!” Linda shrieked. Alex squealed as Linda thrust her pokey stick between the bars. He looked like a pig, Paige thought, watching Alex scurry back and forth as Linda jammed the stick into him. If he tried to grab it, he would only tear up his hands. Paige remembered the day he tried that. The fatter Alex got, the more violent became the pokey stick sessions. On this day, Linda jabbed hard and fast. Alex used his forearms and shins to take the brunt of the attack as Linda jabbed towards his face sometimes, or at his exposed genitals. Alex narrowly avoided getting the knitting-needle tip in his groin, but only because the nails buried into his arm, and the tip sunk itself in his inner thigh. Alex shrieked and banged his head against the cage, making the heavy iron rattle as Linda gouged back and forth, tearing into his thigh. Blood ran down to the carpet, and would have reddened it, had the carpet been clean. Instead, the blood only served to fill in the gaps between the brown bloodstains long dried and caked into the weave.

Alex continued to shriek even after Linda pulled the stick out.

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Paige shouted at him. Anger filled her chest, anger at Alex’s screams and thrashings. He had brought this on himself, she thought, but now she had to watch it, had to listen to it.

Linda looked away, seemingly disinterested. She crouched down and began scooping the food back onto the tray, muttering to herself.

“He must eat. Tonight he’ll eat. Build something for his neck. Feeding tube. Buy a feeding tube,” she mumbled, barely audible between Alex’s weeping. “Force-feed. He must eat. Not grown enough.” When she had set every scrap of food on the tray, she glared at Paige before carrying the tray to the padlocked refrigerator. She took a key from the keyring hanging on a thin chain around her neck and unlocked the padlock, quickly shoving the tray into the refrigerator as she watched Paige suspiciously. Linda leered at Paige as she clipped the padlock shut again, laughing with a scraping sound in her throat. She dragged a wooden chair across the carpet and set it in front of Paige, who still stood in the corner. Paige felt her mind go blank as Linda untied the belt of her robe and sat on the edge of the chair.

Minutes later, Linda stood and tied her robe.

“My chair. Don’t you dare sit in it,” Linda growled. She walked out and down the hall.

Paige darted across the room as soon as she heard a door shut, staggering with dizziness before she threw herself down before the spilled peanut butter and chocolate shake. It was still wet and she pressed her tongue against the soiled carpet, sucking the flavor of the shake into her mouth. She pinched the carpet so it folded a little, taking it into her mouth and sucking at the shake-soaked material. Here and there, she tasted traces of bacon and sausage and cinnamon roll. The taste intoxicated her as she lapped and scoured the weave with her tongue, until no trace remained.

“Fucking disgusting,” Alex said.

“What?” Paige asked, the few calories she consumed making her head buzz pleasantly, though the growling of her stomach perhaps increased.

“That’s disgusting. The carpet’s filthy,” he said.

“What? You wouldn’t do that?” Paige asked.


“You get to choose,” Paige said, putting her face closer to the cage. “You get to choose, don’t you? You get to choose what you eat and what you don’t eat. I ate paint chips this morning, because I couldn’t help it. I’m eating shit that isn’t food, Alex, because I can’t help it. I ate paint chips while you ate waffles and butter and syrup and scrapple and orange juice this morning. Alex. Don’t you dare tell me what’s disgusting, while you sit there and stuff your face, you motherfucker.”

“Fuck you!” Alex whined. “I get to choose? This is choosing?” he asked, pointing to the wound in his leg. “I don’t eat, that crazy fucking bitch does this to me. That’s my choice? Fuck you, Paige. Why don’t you help us? You’re not in a cage. You could help get us out of here.”

“How?” Paige asked.

“I don’t know. Yeah, I do know,” Alex said, pushing his face up to the bars. “That chain hooked to your neck?” he whispered. “Choke her. Wrap it around her thick neck and choke the shit out of that monster. Choke her until she turns blue.”

It sounded impossible, what Alex was saying. Overpowering Linda seemed as unlikely as defying gravity. If she tried and failed, there was the pokey stick, or worse, to think about.

“She’s a witch,” Paige whispered. “She can do things to us.”

“Do things to us?” Alex asked, his eyes bulging. “Like worse than now? Like planning to eat us? Like starving you? Like making you do what you just did? Paige, she’s not a real witch. There’s no such shit. She didn’t capture us with magic spells. She drugged us. She’s just a psychotic fucking insane person who probably already ate other people. We’re dying here, Paige. Fucking done for if we stay. If we don’t get out, we’re dead. Look at you. You’re skin and bones. Don’t you want to eat again? No one’s coming to rescue us. Ever. No one knows we’re here. Or will ever know when we’re dead. We get out, and the first thing the police will do is get you something to eat.”

Paige’s stomach wailed in response. She didn’t understand how they could escape or how she could resist Linda. Paige tried to imagine doing anything besides eating food and failed.

“Choke her, Paige. Or, make me a weapon. Make me a knife from floorboards, from under the edge of the carpet, from a piece of wood. Or a piece of the chair. We have to try, Paige.”

Paige backed away and Alex crushed a squeal of anguish inside his throat. She went back to her corner, curled into a fetal position, and closed her eyes, thinking about the peanut butter and chocolate shake, thinking how she would have gladly drank that shake even if meant someone would kill and eat her that night.

Paige woke to the smell of a cheesesteak with onions. The smell in her brain almost overpowered the incoherent screaming match between Linda and Alex. She opened her eyes, trying to focus on the scene in the misty room. She saw Linda and her frizzy hair and purple bathrobe, hopping around next to the cage. In one hand, she held the pokey stick, jabbing at Alex. In the other, she clenched the cheesesteak, still in its white paper wrapper.

“Eat! Eat! Eat! Take it!” Linda yelled at him. She seemed to be holding the sandwich up to the cage for him to take it, while at the same time jabbing him with the pokey stick. Inside the cage, Alex screamed at an almost mechanical pace. Maybe Linda wouldn’t notice if she took the cheesesteak, Paige thought. Paige felt her own body rise up, as though out of her control. But Linda will notice, a voice said, inside Paige’s head. Use the chair to pin her in place, then eat the sandwich. Paige picked up the chair. Linda looked lost in her torment of Alex, spit flying from the woman’s lips. It all seemed nonsensical. How could anyone care about anything but eating that cheesesteak right then, she wondered? She felt herself moving forward and heard Alex laughing and yelping now. Paige crept within five steps, four steps, three steps, before Linda turned to see what Alex was staring at. She faced Paige, Linda’s face twisting into an unrecognizable shape, all teeth and eyes. Paige feared what Linda would do to her less than she feared not getting the cheesesteak. Launching herself forward, Paige pointed the legs of the chair towards Linda. As Paige flew forward, the legs of the chair straddled Linda’s flanks, and the bottom of the chair seat hit the woman with whatever strength Paige still owned. Linda fell to a sitting position, her back slamming into the cage

Paige saw Alex’s hands shoot out between the bars, grabbing the chair legs and pulling them through the bars, trapping Linda in place. She felt drool running down her chin as she smelled the sandwich, clutching at it as she felt the raking sting of the pokey stick’s nails slashing her thigh. Linda’s hand moved faster than Paige’s, and the woman shoved the sandwich in between the bars, dropping it out of Paige’s reach.

Paige screeched with rage, her clouded vision stained red. Linda’s teeth snapped at her neck but Paige saw the woman’s key-chain tighten around her neck, Alex guffawing as he yanked the chain through the bars. Linda’s face convulsed and her clawed fingers went to her throat, dropping the pokey stick as she struggled to loosen the strangulating necklace. Paige shook as she picked up the pokey stick, whipping it across Linda’s face, dense rows of thin red lines soon running crimson. Paige crouched on the chair-back, which now lay on top of Linda’s legs. Paige grabbed a fistful of the kinky blond hair and bent the woman’s head back. Linda’s face turned purple, and Paige jabbed at Alex’s hands. She didn’t want him to kill her. It was her time, her revenge. Linda had stolen Paige’s food, not Alex’s. Alex was fat and full. He didn’t need it. That was her fucking sandwich, her food, her survival, and Linda was going to pay for it.

Linda gasped for air as Alex released the chain, the man scampering backwards. Paige had the woman’s head bent back now, jabbing the needle point into Linda’s clenched teeth. Paige hooked her toes into the bars of the cage and, placing the butt of the stick against her hip, rammed the point through Linda’s bloody cheek. She pushed, frenzied now, knowing that if she failed, Linda would not be punished, Linda would win. The nails caught on teeth with clicking and clattering noises, but Paige worked the stick in all directions, snapping off teeth and hearing the jaw dislocate with a pop. She let go of the hair and grasped the stick handle with both hands, pushing with all her might until she held the stick vertically. Linda’s face now turned up to the ceiling, her body convulsing and almost throwing Paige off. The skin between Linda’s cheek and the corner of her mouth tore, giving the illusion of a great and bloody leer stretching up to the cheekbone.

Down, down Paige jammed the stick, feeling the resistance change as it entered Linda’s throat. The woman’s yellow eyes swiveled and glared up at her, turning bloodshot. Paige made a barking noise as she shoved the pokey stick down the woman’s gullet. She pulled up again like she was plunging a toilet, Linda’s pale neck spouting leaks of blood as the thin nails ripped open her throat from within. Paige felt the warm blood on her thighs as she rammed the stick up and down, grunting as Linda made strange gurgling noises and vomited blood out her neck-holes. The nails of the stick caught the links of Linda’s key-chain necklace, making the key-ring jingle and bounce up and down. Paige dimly registered the deep scratches tingling on her own thighs, realizing that Linda had been clawing her, though now the woman’s hands fluttered like meaty, broken butterflies in the air. Linda’s unblinking eyes never left Paige’s face. Paige watched as the blood welled up inside Linda’s shredded mouth and spilled over the torn Halloween mask of a face, then drained out through her neck and onto Paige’s thighs. The longer she worked, the easier the stick became to pump up and down, and so she went deeper with each thrust. Linda’s acidic gaze faded to a watery unfocused stare. Paige moved mechanically now, her rage spent, working the stick up and down through the ruined mash of Linda’s upper gastrointestinal tract, long after any movement remained.

She paused, catching her breath, until the key-chain necklace moved and she realized that Alex was trying to remove it. Paige grabbed the handle of the pokey stick and pulled Linda’s body away from the cage, kicking aside the chair and letting the body flop onto the floor. She sat on the floor and put her feet on Linda’s shoulders, tugging the pokey stick free with a sloshing noise.

“Hurry! The key! Unlock the cage! Quick! Let me out!” Alex said.

Paige tugged the bloody necklace from Linda’s neck.

“Give me the cheesesteak,” Paige said.

“What?” Alex asked. “C’mon, unlock this! Let me out!” he shook the cage door.

“Give it to me,” Paige said, picking up the pokey stick.

“Paige. Open the cage,” Alex whispered.

Paige crawled towards the cage, holding the stick. Putting the stick between the bars, she used the point to stab the sandwich and drag it closer to the side. She reached for it, grabbing the sandwich. She stabbed towards a blur of movement and Alex screeched, jumping backwards and holding his forearm. With the wrapped cheesesteak in one hand and the stick in the other, Paige walked on her knees over to Linda’s body, kneeling on the bloody carpet as she dropped the pokey stick and set the sandwich on Linda, using her back like it was a table. Paige barely removed paper and foil before cramming the sandwich into her mouth. It must have been a very special cheesesteak, she thought, because never had she tasted one like this. The roll crumpled softly in her mouth as she bit through thick mounds of perfectly cooked meat marbled with provolone melting onto her tongue, onions neither burnt nor undercooked, but sautéed to a caramelized softness. She regretted wasting the juice that ran down her chin, but she couldn’t slow down, couldn’t stop chewing and devouring the sandwich. She wanted it to last forever, but soon the last of the foot-long cheesesteak dropped into her belly. Her shrunken stomach now stretched out into a hard little potbelly, hurting a bit, but she still felt hungry.

She realized that Alex was making whining noises that may have been words, but she ignored them as she found the key that fit her collar-lock. When the collar opened and fell to the floor, along with her restraint chain, she felt light enough to float away. She rubbed her chafed neck, feeling drunk with the first full meal in months. The mist no longer clouded her vision. She laughed at how good she felt, though the cold air in the house still chilled her. But she could wear clothing now, she thought, looking down at Linda’s body. She flipped the corpse over enough to untie the belt of the bathrobe, let the body flop down again onto the saturated floor, and tugged the purple garment free. It felt warm and wet as she pulled it on. It was a little big, but warm and cozy all the same. Alex’s whining noises grew louder now, very loud. Paige raised the pokey stick and Alex scurried away to the corner of his cage, banging his head and yelping. He needed to eat, she thought.

Paige walked over to the kitchen and unlocked the padlock on the refrigerator. She took the padlock and aimed for the trashcan.

“Won’t need this anymore,” she said, but she stopped herself. “Well, never know. Maybe.” She set it on the counter. Looking in the fridge, she couldn’t stop herself from popping open a jar of pickled eggs, chewing and gulping three before she could stop herself. She looked at all of the prepackaged foods inside the fridge. It didn’t seem right. Unlocking the cabinets, she found more and more food, but almost all of it junk food. Donuts, corn chips, potato chips, cupcakes, and canned raviolis filled the shelves. “Junk. All junk,” she thought. She looked at Alex as he pressed his face against the bars, chewing the metal. “He needs fresh food, healthy food.”

Paige walked towards the hall, avoiding Alex’s hands as he reached out through the bars. In the bathroom, she unlocked the large industrial gray steel cabinet, finding it fully stocked with sharp, clean butchering tools, the only things that looked cared for in the house. She saw various chains, hardware, and pulleys, and assumed they were for the hooks and brackets mounted above the stained bathtub. She walked back out to the living room and grabbed Linda’s heels. Glancing at Alex, she saw that his thighs were almost as fleshy as Linda’s. Almost, she thought as she dragged Linda towards the hall.

“Almost, but not quite grown enough,” she said.

By Konrad Hartmann

The Semi-Allegory


Suicide is never a laughing matter.

Unless this suicide was by a literal clown

Who had a child porn operation.

Then it would be pretty funny to walk upon Bozo the cho-mo

Slit wrists and semi-erect.

Chances are this has happened in this world.

In fact it’s probably happened twice.

It’s still not as bad as Sara:

She liked to take old movies and then try to pass them off to her friends as being “cool”.

“Real cool stuff, ya dig”-was something like that I’m sure.

It wouldn’t have been that bad either.

I know a lot of douche bags who like older things hoping that it makes them look cool.

But Sara, she got off on it sexually.

Before Sara died, I heard that she looked up some old movie star

and she stuck a gun up their asshole and pulled the trigger.

Then I heard that she carried the old star home with her, sat him on the couch

and then watched all the old star’s movies with his corpse.

Kind of makes Bozo the cho-mo’s sins look mild, huh?

By Davide Nixon

Table Manners

WHEN Ash pushed his sister’s chair in, his thumb struck the table. He winced, cursing under his breath and stared up at the tight lipped expression on his parents’ face. The table had been set and the house was filled with an everlasting aroma of spices and herbs. Now, that happiness was replaced by a quiet eerie tension. His thumb wasn’t broke but it thumped like crazy.
“I think you know what to do, son.” His father said with a deep firm voice.corkscrew
Ash bowed to the table, padded out of the room and into the kitchen. He rolled his left shirt sleeve halfway down his arm, set his hand on the slick marble countertop and took the corkscrew from the block. He could still see the scar on the back of his hand from last week when he reached across his father’s plate for a bread roll-when he could’ve politely asked for one. He pressed the curled blade into the back of his hand and twisted; he cringed at the sound of torn flesh and bit down on his lower lip to curb the currents of pain coursing up his arm. He didn’t know how he would explain this to his teachers.
“You see, honey.” His father said from inside the dining room. “All you need are good table manners.”

By Brian J. Smith

The Pickle Shelves

this bomb shelter is packed with corpses, jars

of heads line the walls as if waiting
to be used as some sort of accompaniment
to mutant fresh vegetables picked from radioactive soil
in some post-apocalyptic orgy to celebrate
an anniversary of the end of it all.
pickledwhite eyes stare calmly

out through the glass, watching nothing, dreaming

of nothing, just waiting for the day when the metal lids
will be uncorked, the contents of the jars overturned onto
gigantic platters held by grubby hands
for the salted flesh to be poked at with tarnished fork tines
for inevitable consumption. until then

the heads will sit on these shelves, undisturbed
wrinkled skin filling out, growing smooth in the brine
swelling to fit the smooth confines of their jars
like old sponges left in the sink for too long.

By Holly Day


In all likelihood, I’m writing this to my captor alone.  If I am, then fuck you, psycho shit.  I hope you get AIDS from one of your victims and die a bloody_basementslow lingering death.  Oh, and yeah, I bet there’s some other sicko who beat you at your own game.

If, however, someone else is reading this, pay close attention.  This is my epitaph.  Too big for a tombstone, of course.  Not long enough for me.  It’s a small chance, I realize, that someone else reads this, but it’s all I have.  Literally, the only thing that I look forward to, now.  If my captor is still alive somehow, hunt him down and catch him if you can.  My bones and those of the others have to be around his house or yard somewhere.  He never went anywhere, for God’s sake.

So, anyway, I’m going to address this to the phantom outsiders, not my dipshit jailer.  Perhaps a slight slap in the face.  I’m sitting in a large cage, perhaps seven feet square.  Holding a bed, portable toilet, squat fridge, twenty-five inch TV, and a small table.  And now, since I’m finished, loads of empty cartons and boxes.  Microwave burritos.  Ho-hos.  Doritos, both cool ranch and regular nacho cheese flavor.  Ben & Jerry’s.  Peanut butter M&Ms.  Oh, and of course, as you can see, several envelopes and a few pens.  My kidnapper is very accommodating when it comes to food, only the best, but not so great at writing supplies.  Who doesn’t keep scrap paper on hand, I ask you?  But that’s the least of his peculiarities, I suppose.  So ignore the return addresses of the junk mail companies and the banks and read my words.  Forgive the mistakes when I hit a seam on the envelope and made a long line or smudge.

I’m writing this on my bed.  My only furniture, as I’ve already noted.  It doesn’t squeak like most beds, especially when I sit on them.  It has no frame.  Just two double bed mattresses atop each other.  It has to be that way, unless he wants to spring (pun not intended, haha) for a special reinforced box spring and bed frame.

I’m fat, you see.  Not plump, not chubby, but hugely fat.  Medically obese.  I’m 417 pounds.  On a five foot nine frame.  A real lardass.  The kind of guy you see on the street (if I’m out, which even before was infrequently) and think, what is he thinking?  It’s one thing to be a bit overweight.  But this big?  He has to work at it to be that big.  And I do.  No glands, no genetic history, really, it’s me.  I eat constantly.  Helpless before food.  I can’t stop, even though I know all the drawbacks.  That pisses me off too, while I’m at it.  People who think we don’t know we’re fat.  Duh.  We do.  We see ourselves twenty-four hours a day, right?  Have to buy special clothes, see ourselves in the mirror.  Like we don’t know?  Anyway, so it’s my fault I’m fat.  I don’t know if it started because my parents substituted food for love, or food was my first and most loyal friend, or what.  Let the shrinkers figure that.  I just know I’m huge, and why I’m huge.

I’ve tried all the diets, of course.  Jenny Craig.  NutriSystem.  The Grapefruit Diet.  Weight Watchers.  Fat camps.  The Cabbage Diet.  Even the nuttiest, the eat-all-meat-and-proteins-but-no-carbohydrates regimen.  None really worked, at least permanently.  I’d lose some, then gain it all back, plus more.  I’ve even been hypnotized.  Nothing works.  I remember the support groups, too.  I was usually the fattest of the lot, which said something.  I was so popular.  Everybody in a group like that loves the fattest person.  You think, well, I’m a lardass, but at least I’m smaller than him.  Conversely, I hated them.  Especially the thinnest ones, the ones only thirty or forty pounds overweight.  What were they doing there?  Hypochondriacs.  They just made me feel worse.  So I hated them all, the fattest ones least of all, on a sliding scale (another pun, ha).  I didn’t want to.  It’s not their fault.  My own problem.  But I’m not long for this world, so I’ll at least be honest.  I did hate them.

Some use those groups as dating circles.  Meet people who accept other fat people.  I couldn’t.  Couldn’t stand to associate with those who heard me tearfully admit my destructive cravings.  Saw me at my weakest.  And, unpleasant truth be told, I couldn’t respect them.  This whiner didn’t want to date another whiner.  Ah, that’s not even the entire truth.  Here it is; I’m shallow.  I’m not attracted to overweight women myself.  If anything, I like slim ones.  I’m a fucking hypocrite, I know.  I of all people should be more sympathetic.  But I’m not.  Sue me.  You can’t help what you’re attracted to, right?

This opinion limited my dates, obviously.  Most normal sized women don’t like guys like me.  So it’s mostly hookers, or the occasional curiosity or pity fucks for me.  A few chubby chasers, as they’re known.  The fat guys’ fantasy.  The hot ones who not only tolerate, but prefer fat guys.  You’ve seen them on the talk shows, probably.  They’re quite precious.  Women who you can leave the lights on for.  Shit, they ask you to, wanting to see you in all your considerable glory.  ‘Course even those don’t last long, at least for me.  The three I’ve met I didn’t even like, really.  One was dumb, the other two just damn boring.  Except for the sex, of course.  They probably didn’t like me so much, either.  So we just used each other for the orgasms.  Win-win situation, all around.

But I digress.  I haven’t even told you of my lovely host.  Why I’m here.  Ironically, after telling you of my dating prospects, he’s a guy who “loves” me just the way that I am.  Even encourages me to eat more.  A chubby chaser par excellence.  With a big catch, though.  He kidnapped me, imprisoned me.  And why?  He wants to rape me.  Why me, in particular?  This freak is obsessed with raping people as many times as he can.  He explained it to me once, in one of his rare speaking days.  He heard that Genghis Khan and his men complained that there weren’t enough holes in women for a whole bunch to rape one at once.  So they cut holes in them so more guys could get some of the action.  So my guy does the same.  He cuts as many holes as he can in people, rapes each one once, and keeps a count, a rape log.  Tries to better his total each time.  That’s why he wants me, of course.  I’m larger than most, so I have more flesh.  More area to slice homes for his dick.  The holes have to be separate too, and never used twice.  The freak is quite strict about that.

As I write, I’m staring out at the three other cages in the basement.  Filled with the bodies of his other “lovers.”  All dead.  All rotting.  All incredibly rank, too, obviously.  Ever smell a rotting corpse?  It’s indescribable, unforgettable.  There’s an undersmell, too.  He insists on coming in the wound if he can.  So there’s the reek of spunk, too.  The smell you smell when you come, yet overpowering, since it represents hundreds of these episodes.  It looks gross, too.  I’ve never been able to stomach (ha) the sight of blood and gore.  All of this makes me sick, makes me nauseous, makes me not want to eat sometimes.

And ah, there’s the rub!  That’s intolerable to my captor.  He needs me big, as big as possible.  Wants me to gain if possible.  Keeps telling me the instant I consistently lose weight (he weighs me every day), the sooner it’s my turn.  So I eat as much as I can, an ample amount, as you can guess, to keep his dick out of me.

That’s easier said than done.  Even though I’ve been a good boy, following instructions, my time is near.  Why?  Because, alas, my host is hypersexual.  Not once or twice a day, but nine or ten.  I know your balls can produce millions of sperm and all, but they still must be extra busy, keeping him supplied.  Pretty much every waking hour he’s down here, grimly pumping away.  That’s another thing, too.  He’s so damn serious about that.  No smiles or laughs.  ‘Course he never laughs ever, as far as I can tell.  And I can hear him upstairs frequently, too.  But anyway, I’m tired now.  I’m quitting to sleep.  And shit, I forgot to date my first entry, so I’ll put it here.  12/17/98.  Unlike most captives I don’t need to scratch lines on my wall to keep track.  Just turn on the tube.

12/18/98 It’s worse than I thought.  He finished up with two corpses today.  They were the first two, he said.  A skinny woman and a fifteen-year-old boy.  Too small, and they kept rotting too fast.  He won’t fuck just bone.  Mr. Picky!  That reminds me of something we guys used to talk about.  Whether or not a woman was “three input” or not; you know, let you have sex in her vagina, ass, and mouth.  The three natural holes for sex.  For most, or some, anyway. Not my boy.  In our code then, the woman was a ninety-eight input woman, the boy seventy-nine.  The other corpse will break 150, or so he explained.  Proudly, I might add, like I’m going to be impressed.  He’s been comparatively chatty today.  I can get him to talk about his raping; it’s his hobby, so he likes to, just like a guy talking about his stamp collection or something.  Of course, I don’t want to hear about his sick behavior, I just want to talk to another living human.  It’s a dilemma, all right.

Notice I said living human voice.  Voices from the TV I have out the yinyang.  I watch probably fifteen hours a day.  Sitcoms.  Daytime talk shows.  Cartoons.  Even infomercials.  Anything’s better than looking at the corpses, or thinking too much about my coming turns.  It’s a good cable system, I have to admit.  He let me have it, because he heard real obese people gain more weight when they eat in front of the TV.  So lucky me!  But I must eat more.  It might stave him off a bit more.

12/19/98  I’m in deep shit.  He’s running out of space already.  I estimate two or three days tops.  Then it starts.  He revealed he starts with my natural holes (mouth and ass) then starts cutting.  I said what if I die, even though I knew the  answer.  It doesn’t matter, he said, I plan to keep you alive as long as possible, it’s more fun when they’re warm, but room temperature’s O.K. too.  Besides, to really fuck you completely you’d have to die eventually, he pointed out.  I’m force to see his point.  When you’re dead I don’t have to do this, he said (here he pointed to my portable potty, which he was dumping out) or buy you food.  That was it as far as conversation. He responded to all other questions or comments with his usual silence.  The first few days I challenged him, even.  Called him a no good coward, sicko, fag.  Nothing made him mad.  Once I asked him in a casual tone if he was gay, or a pedophile.  Surprisingly he responded, said none of that mattered.  Holes were holes.  What a philosophy, huh?  Like the joke, “I’m not prejudiced.  I hate everybody.”  Enough of the Shakespeare, I have food to ingest and brain cells to numb.

12/20/98  I just saw Rambo on TNT and it reminded me of a point I didn’t address yet.  That is, am I a wuss?  Why don’t I try to kill my host, or at least break out?  Answer:  I can’t.  We’re isolated so I can’t scream for help, he told me.  Even if he’s lying, he  threatened to rape me ahead of time, so that’s out.  This cell is sturdy.  I’ve tried to break the bars, to no avail.  Besides, he’s around so many times during the day I can’t gradually wear away the bars or anything.  As for fighting, are you forgetting my weight?  And I’m not fat covered muscle, either, like football lineman I see on TV.  I’m flabby.  My host is fairly solid and rough.  Rough enough, anyway.  He’s not adverse to using force, obviously, and I don’t know how to fight.  So I’m screwed (haha not yet.  Soon).

12/21/98  Today was D-Day.  Like I predicted.  He ran out on the slightly overweight corpse this evening.  I got the final four times.  Ass.  Mouth (using a contraption so I couldn’t bite down.  I thought of that.  Give me some credit).  Two in my left foot after he bored a hole using an apple corer and a chisel (for the bones).  So my ass and especially my foot hurts.  I washed my foot holes out with drinking water and bound them using reams of toilet paper.  They bled a lot.  He’s not concerned with treating wounds, of course.  I’m not that worried, either.  I think one of his fuckholes will kill me long before blood poisoning or infection would.  So my cherry’s broken.  Me and Ned Beatty are brothers now.  Ah, Deliverance.  An important film, I thought.  In college I thought they should’ve shown that to the boys instead of the rape talk they gave.  That got the message across better.  Not that I thought rape was O.K. or anything before that, but there’s something to be said for seeing a man get raped.  Brought it home in a more significant way, somehow.  So now I can sympathize further.  It’s weird.  I dreaded it something awful, and hated it when it happened, but it was somehow anti-climatic (haha again).  Maybe because I knew it was coming (chortle, sorry, enough of the puns) and know so much more is due and it’ll be the death of me.  Or maybe I’m in denial. Another thing for the shrinks to argue about.  ‘Course I shouldn’t bitch too much.  He was a sport.  I asked him not to do my hands so I could write and he relented.  Why does he let me write, I wonder?  So he can groove on my pain later?  Jerk off in memory?  Must eat again.  Need my strength, need the pounds.  Besides, soon I’ll eat my last meal.  I hear the computer clacks again.  He must be a telecommuter.  It explains why he’s always here all day.

12/22/98  The eating fest is done.  It doesn’t matter now.  I’m nearly done, I’m afraid.  Thirteen times today.  The fucker must have eaten oysters or something.  He did my lower legs and two in my belly today.  The bleeding was bad, especially the belly ones.  I barely got them to stop.  He gave me some matches and wood so I could cauterize the wounds.  There’s congealed blood everywhere.  More lovely smells, too.  Charred flesh.  The stench of jizz, stronger now, since it’s in me.  Almost killed myself accidentally, as well.  I don’t get around so good now with the leg and foot wounds.  Add that to the slippery floor from my blood and I slipped.  Ripped open a wound or two.  I feel like a wuss when I remember all the minor headaches I took aspirin for.  I now know what pain is.  I’d better write a lot today.  I’m torn.  He actually gave me liquor.  I want to drink myself away from the pain.  Yet want to write my account too.  I was thinking of the Stockholm Syndrome today, where the hostages grow to identify with and like their captors.  Can’t say I do.  Maybe there’s limits to that.  Also wondered if he kidnaps another if he’d rape them for awhile, letting me be.  Sometimes I think that’d be worse, prolonging my pain, sometimes I want every minute, want to survive.  It makes me guilty to wish this fate on someone else.  Fuck it.  Walk a mile in my shoes dammit.  I think I’ve earned the right to be selfish.  I can’t take anymore.  Bottoms up.

12/23/98  This is the day.  My last.  It’s now midday.  Got it six times already (he’s a morning man).  Can’t stanch the blood.  Got it to slow to a trickle, though.  I’m a human pincushion.  He’s told me the next one’s gonna be my eye socket.  So I guess that’ll be it, that’ll hit my brain.  You might wonder about the change in writing.  It’s my left hand.  He fucked my right today.  Pardon my writing.  I’m not ambidextrous.  I tried to fight him today.  Pitiful.  He slammed me with a karate chop or some such shit.  I barely touched him.  Maybe I could have got in a good shot when healthy.  Although probably not.  Or is that sour grapes?  Too late.  No time to waste on self-doubt.  Have to think what’s important.  Tell my family I loved them, and my friends (not enough time to name names), mystery readers.  If my remains are found, please cremate them.  I don’t want even my bones around, for reasons I’m sure you can guess.  Ironically this whole episode is making me lose weight now, from blood loss.  It reminds me of weighing time at Weight Watchers when our perky therapist would make sure we pissed even, before getting on the scale. Soon I’ll lose all my weight, to the blade and rot, and hopefully, the flame. I’ll be svelte and sexy in my urn.

I hear him coming!  This is it.  Here, my captor, is my take on your philosophy.  Assholes are assholes.  And you are definitely one.  Bye.

By Paul Stansfield

On the Road to Nowhere

Shepard walked down the center of the old two lane road heading nowhere. It was hot and the sun seemed fixed behind him. The cumulus clouds that littered the sky did provide shade from time to time, but it was short lived. There was a slight breeze that blew in from the northwest, so he was thankful for that. Flat farmland surrounded Shepard on all sides. The fields had been abandoned long ago. A few corn stalks scattered about serve as an eerie reminder of how things used to be.
Alone, Shepard travelled with no destination in mind. The hiking backpack he wore carried supplies; mostly canned food, bottled water, and cowboysome helpful tools that he found along the way. There was a pry bar attached to the side of it, which came in handy in more ways than one.
The weight of the backpack was beginning to takes its toll. Soon Shepard knew he would have to give his shoulders a rest and take a break, but it wouldn’t be for long. His watch read 5:13pm and that meant it was time to start looking for shelter soon. It was not safe to be out at night. Most nights he would find and abandoned house to hold up in, but he walked most the day not really seeing any. His only lead was a thin stream of smoke rising into the air about two or three miles out.
The smoke was coming from a small grove of trees to Shepard’s left. He had been watching it for some time and wondered about its origins. It did not look like there was something burning out of control from what he could tell, and that made him all the more curious.
About an hour later Shepard arrived at a rock road that broke off to the left and entered the small grove. The smoke was still rising from the center of the cluster of trees that sat about a hundred and fifty yards back. Shepard unslung his backpack and set it on the ground. He opened the bag and begun to rummage though it until he found his binoculars.
Pulling them from the bag he stood up and began to scope out the area. It was hard to see through the dense trees, but he thought he could see the outlines of a house in there. Lowering the binoculars he stood contemplating his next move. If the smoke is coming from a house, then that could mean that it is occupied by actual people, which could be dangerous.
Shepard put his hand on the .38 revolver he had tucked in his waist band and pulled it out. There was no reason to check and see if it was loaded. He knew it was. The real question was how much ammo did he have? A quick search through the backpack revealed that he had plenty. Dropping the binoculars back into the bag he zipped it up and slung it over his shoulders. Shepard looked up at the sky for a second trying to find a reason not to check out the grove, but couldn’t find any. With the .38 in hand he set off down the rock road.
As Shepard entered the tree line he was able to see the house more clearly. It was an old two story farm house, but looked pretty well maintained. The house was white with a brick chimney running up the right side; the thin smoke he had spotted from the road was ascending from that. There was a matching one car garage that sat off to the left of the house; the door was closed so Shepard could not see into it. The closer he got to the house he could hear a banging noise coming from the backside; cautiously he began to head toward the noise.
Shepard rounded the corner of the house slowly with his pistol out in front of him. About twenty yards away from him stood an old man with white hair chopping wood. The man didn’t see Shepard standing there because his back was to him. Shepard marked the SKS assault rifle that was propped up against the wood pile about four steps away from the old man. Lowering his pistol he called out to the old man, “Hello”.
The old man whirled on his heels dropping the axe in the process. The look of terror showed in the man’s face as he started to take a couple clumsy steps toward the SKS. Shepard raised the pistol, not really pointing at the old man, but enough to get his attention.
“Don’t do that!” Shepard called out and added, “I’m not going to hurt you.”
The old man stopped and looked at Shepard not trusting him. Shepard held out his left hand showing it was empty and slowly began to put the pistol away. He wasn’t worried about the old man going for the SKS. Shepard was confident that he could draw and gun the old man down if he went for it.
“I don’t want any trouble. I just saw the smoke from the road and came to check it out.” Shepard said.
When the gun was away the old man relaxed a little and asked, “Are you alone?”
“Yes.” Shepard answered.
Hearing this made the old man’s state of fear do a one eighty. All his fears seemed to disappear in an instant. The old man began to smile and stepped away from the SKS.
“No harm no foul, you startled me is all.” The old man said.
“Sorry, that wasn’t my intention.” Shepard replied.
The old man stuck out his hand and said, “My name’s Tom, and you can’t be too carful these days, no sir.”
Shepard shook Toms hand and said, “Mine’s John Shepard, but I just go by Shepard.”
“Nice to meet ya.” Tom said.
“What about you, are you alone here?” Shepard asked.
“Yes, just me.” Tom answered quickly then added, “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone.”
“Same here.” Shepard said.
“Well, I don’t have much, but if you’d like to come in I could make us some dinner. I wouldn’t mind having a conversation with someone, to be honest with ya.” Tom said.
Shepard started to shake his head and said, “No, I don’t want to put you out.”
“Nonsense, you won’t be putting me out at all.” Tom replied.
Shepard thought it over. He wasn’t sure if he should trust the old man, but he seemed nice enough. The only thing that made Shepard keep second guessing himself was the man’s eyes. There was something wild about them, but he shrugged it off thinking it’s probably because the old man’s been alone for so long. The old man probably sees the same damn thing in my eyes, Shepard thought.
“I guess I could eat.” Shepard said.
“Good, good. Come on in.” Tom said as he turned and picked up the SKS by the barrel. Shepard’s hand dropped to the butt of his pistol, but he did not draw. Tom hadn’t noticed that the move he just made almost got him shot. He just turned and started walking toward the house. Shepard relaxed a little and began to follow him.
As the two approached the house, Shepard noticed something peculiar about the cellar doors. It was chained closed from the outside. Shepard found this to be strange. He understood chaining the doors closed to keep those things out, but why not chain it from the inside? He probably has it double chained, inside and out; he thought and followed Tom into the house.
The door they entered through lead them into the kitchen. It was dark inside the house. There wasn’t much light coming through the window thanks to the trees outside. Shepard expected it to be a mess inside, but it wasn’t. Sure, things were dusty but other than that, the place looked okay. After a few twist and turns, Tom led Shepard into the living room.
“Make yourself at home, I’ll start dinner.” Tom said as he leaned the SKS against the wall and turned back toward the kitchen.
Shepard stood for a moment and peered around the room. It had all the usual things a living room might have; a couch, end tables, a recliner, and a fireplace and mantle. The fireplace was roaring with flames, but the glass doors were closed trapping most of the heat inside of it. Shepard wondered why the old man kept a fire going with it being so hot outside, but as the thought was going through his mind something on the mantle caught his eye as he set his back pack on the floor.
The mantle was cover with little nic nacs, but there something that looked like a picture frame lying flat in the center. Shepard stepped over to the mantle and lifted the picture frame. The picture was of Tom and what seemed to be his family. Tom and his wife stood side by side smiling and a younger woman with two young children, both boys, sat in front of them smiling. The boys looked to be only seven or eight. Must be his daughter and grandkids, he thought. Shepard laid the picture back down and went to sit on the couch.
Sitting on the couch Shepard could hear Tom in the kitchen banging around on pots and pans. He also noticed though the window the sun was beginning to set. Another hour and it would be down and a half hour after that, total darkness would set in. The thought of night worried Shepard. If Tom decides not to let him stay for the night, things could get very bad for him. A few minutes later, as if Tom could read Shepard’s thoughts, Tom came into the living room.
“You gonna be okay to staying here tonight?” Tom asked.
“Sure, as long as it won’t be any trouble?” Shepard asked.
“No trouble at all. You don’t have a bigger group out there waiting for you to come back do you?” Tom asked.
“No, like I said, it just me.” Shepard answered.
Tom nodded his head and said, “Okay then. I’m gonna go outside and fire the generator up so I can start cooking. I’ll be closing the shutters on the windows while I’m out there too. I’ve got to barricade ourselves in for the night. The generators noisy, it’ll attract them throughout the night.”
“How bad does it get out here?”
“Not too bad, usually. Might have five or six to take care of in the morning.” Tom said as he grabbed his SKS and headed outside.
The sky was completely black by the time dinner was on the table. The two men ate what little food Tom made and made small talk. When they were finished eating Tom took the dishes from the table and returned with two glasses of wine. He set one of these in front of Shepard and kept the other for himself.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve had a drink.” Shepard said.
“It aint the best stuff, but we’ll make do.” Tom replied.
Shepard nodded, raised the glass toward Tom, and then took a sip. The wine was bitter, and Shepard wondered if this was homemade.
“So, how long have you lived here?” Shepard asked.
“Oh, about thirty five years or so. Just me and the wife. Well, until she passed a few years back.” Tom answered.
“Any kids?”
“No. Just me and her.” Tom’s eyes shifted downward as he answered.
He’s lying, Shepard thought, but why? The family picture on the mantle came to mind as he studied Tom.
Tom quickly changed the subject by asking, “How long have you been on the road?” Tom asked.
“Damn near since the start of it all.” Shepard answered.
“That’s a long time. How in the hell have you survived that long? It’s fucking dangerous out there!”
“Well, the U.S. government spent a lot of money on teaching me how to stay alive.”
Tom’s eyes widen at this remark and he asks, “Are you military?”
“Once upon a time.” Shepard answered as he sipped his wine.
“Before this….This epidemic or after, when the government was recruiting everyone?” Tom asked almost greedily.
“Before, long before.” Shepard answered thinking about how Tom used the word epidemic.
“So, you don’t know if they’ve come up with a cure yet?” Tom asked.
Shepard gave Tom a concerned look and asked, “A cure for what?”
“This…This…This sickness that’s infected everyone.”
Shepard thought for a second on how to respond to this. The man was obviously in some sort of denial about what was happening. He could see in the old man’s face that he was at war with himself. Not wanting to believe what was going on when it first started was understandable, but it’s been a better part of a year now.
Shepard felt that there was no other way but to come out with it and said, “There is no sickness. These people are dead, and the last time I checked there’s no cure for death.”
“Don’t be a fool! The dead don’t get up and try to fucking kill people. This is some kind of virus that’s making everyone crazy.” Tom said angrily.
“Look I’ve….” Shepard started to say but quit. Something wasn’t right, he felt different. The room began to spin out of control and before Shepard had time to react he passed out.
Slowly coming back to consciousness, Shepard realized he could not move his arms or legs. He felt like he was still sitting, but at the same time he felt like he was moving. He also noticed that he was having trouble breathing out of his mouth. Moving his tongue around Shepard discovered the reason for this. There was what felt like a dish rag stuffed into his mouth. He tried to spit it out unsuccessfully. Slowly opening his eyes, the horror began to set in.
Shepard was tied down by rope, around his wrist and ankles, to the chair he was sitting in. There was indeed a dish rag stuffed into his mouth and there was duct tape wrapped around his head holding it in place. He was also being dragged backward, to God knows where, and figured the movement is what woke him up.
The chair stopped outside a closed door just off of the kitchen. The door was locked by a deadbolt and Tom proceeded to unlock it. The lock made a clicking noise and then the door swung inward. Shepard’s turned his head and looked through the doorway.
There was a set of stairs leading into a basement, except only the top three steps remained. The rest of them were missing. There was a faint glow coming deep from within the basement and from what Shepard could see what looked like human bones scattered about. Tom spun Shepard around and looked him in the eyes.
“Sorry about this Mr. Shepard, but my daughter and grandkids are sick and need to eat. Since they won’t eat nothing but flesh now, that’s what I’m gonna give’em.” Tom said and then added, “Until they come up with a cure at least.”
It was in that moment Shepard realized the horrors of his mistakes. The smoke he’d seen from the road wasn’t by accident, it was a lure. The old man had been drawing people in and feeding them to his daughter and grandkids. That’s why the old man kept asking him if he was alone. He didn’t want a bigger group to come to look for him later, and let’s not forget about the cellar doors. The chains were on the outside to keep people in, not out.
Shepard tried to beg the old man to stop, but nothing would come out thanks to the rag stuffed into his mouth. Tom grabbed Shepard by his shirt and pushed him backwards. It took about two seconds for Shepard to hit the basement floor. The chair broke into pieces on impact and there was a loud thud when his body hit the floor. Tom assumed the thud was Shepard’s head bouncing off the concrete floor. The old man stood and starred down at Shepard for a moment to see if he would try and get up. He didn’t, Shepard lay motionless on the floor. Tom stepped down on to the stairs and began clapping loudly and whistling.
“Come on! Time to eat!” He yelled and then slammed the door and locked it.
Shepard’s eyes snapped open when he heard the deadbolt lock. He quickly looked around in a panic to see where the undead were. He saw nothing but junk scattered about.
There was only a single light bulb hanging in the middle of the basement and it made it hard for Shepard to see anything past it. He quickly started to free his hands from the ropes, when that task was done he tore the duct tape off and pulled the rag out of his mouth. As he started to untie his legs something moved from the back of the room. Shepard froze and fixed his eyes on the dark object moving in his direction. Stepping into the light from the back of the basement was Tom’s daughter.
She was in the middle stages of decomposition. Her once blonde hair was now dark and matted down with dried blood, her skin was a pale grey, and her eyes were white filled sacs of pus. The sun dress she wore was torn down the center and her left breast, which looked to be mostly eaten away by insects, was exposed. Behind her the two boys, now a few years older than in the picture, followed. They too looked to be in the middle stages of decomposition.
Shepard franticly tried to untie his legs as the dead woman closed in on him. It felt like the knots got tighter with every step she took toward him. His heart was beating so hard he thought it was going to burst. Was this how he was going to die, eaten alive in this crazy assholes basement? No, Shepard thinks and tears away the last of the ropes.
The dead woman tried to fall on top of Shepard but he rolled to his right avoiding any contact with her. Shepard quick sprang to his feet and kick the woman in the chest sending her sprawling across the floor. He quickly turned his attention to the two boys and did the same to them.
The woman and the boys hissed like vipers and tried to regain their footing. Meanwhile Shepard moved to the other side of the basement looking for something to use as a weapon. He knew the only way to really kill them was to destroy the brain. Anything else just did not work. As he turned to check on the dead woman and children Shepard foot kicked something. Shepard bent down and picked up something that looked like a long bone.
It was a human femur. Well bub, this is as good as you’re gonna get. You’d better make it count, he thought. Shepard laid the femur on the ground and then put his foot on the top part of the bone. He lifted as hard as he could which caused the top part of the femur to snap off making it sharp and pointy.
When Shepard stood back up the dead woman was on him. He grabbed what was left of her dress and shoved her backwards. The dead woman stumbled three steps back, gained her footing, started back at Shepard, but it was too late for her. Shepard lunged forward and rammed the pointy end of the femur into one of her eye sockets, killing her for good.
Shepard then pulled the bone out of her skull and turned to the children when an idea came to him. Instead of killing the boys, he darted around them and headed for the stairs. Luckily the boys were slow and this bought Shepard some time.
He began rummaging through the junk piled up by where the stairs used to be. There were all sorts of junk, anything from old records to magazines and paperwork. Sifting through the paperwork Shepard found a paper clip holding a stack of papers together. This’ll work; he thought and grabbed the paper clip.
Sticking the paper clip into his mouth Shepard backed up, ran at the wall, kicked off of it propelling himself upward, and grabbed the stairs with his right hand. Still holding on to the femur with his left hand, he set it up on the stair quietly and then pulled himself up. It’s a good thing that ol’bastard didn’t remove all the stairs, otherwise I’d been fucked, Shepard thought.
Shepard sat catching his breath as he looked down at the two boys. They both stood underneath of him arms raised, moaning and hissing at him.
“Easy boys, suppers on its way.” Shepard said and then pulled the paper clip from his mouth.
It didn’t take long for Shepard to pick the lock. Quietly he stepped back onto the main floor and shut the door. He turned the femur over, holding the rounded blunt end upward like a club. As Shepard neared the living room he could hear loud music playing. He must not like to hear his victims scream while they’re being eaten alive, Shepard thought. This was good. It would cover up any noise he might make.
Stepping into the living room he saw Tom sitting in his recliner with his back to him. Shepard clammily walked over to Tom and stepped out in front of him. Tom’s eyes were closed and he was humming to the music.
“Wakey wakey.” Shepard said.
Tom’s eyes snapped open in terror as he saw Shepard standing there. Shepard swung the femur as hard as he could hitting Tom on the left side of his jaw. The blow sent teeth flying out of Tom’s mouth and knocked him to the floor. Shepard went to hit him again but stopped when he noticed that Tom was unconscious.
As Tom came to, he quickly realized that he was now strapped to a chair. He sat facing the open door to the basement where his two grandkids stood reaching up for him. He began to cough on the blood pouring from his swollen mouth.
Shepard knelt down beside him and said, “Make your peace with God old man. This is the end for you.”
He stood back up and stepped behind Tom. Tom tried to speak but nothing but mush would come out. With one swift kick to his back, Tom fell face first into the basement.
As soon as he hit the ground the two boys were on him, biting and tarring at his flesh. One of the boys bit into Tom’s cheek and pealed it off like pulling the skin off a piece of fried chicken. Tom Screamed in agonizing pain. When Shepard had seen enough, he closed the door and locked it.
An hour or so passed by when Shepard went back to the basement door. This time he had the SKS in his hands, as well as his .38 back in his waist band. No way am I sleeping here with those damned things alive in the basement, Shepard thought. Unlocking the door he swung it open slowly.
The two boys still sat eating parts their grandfather that they had torn off. Tom himself had turned into one of the undead. His head turned back and forth looking around as if he had lost something. Shepard raised the SKS and fired three shots into the heads of the undead creatures. He then fired two more into Tom’s head just out of spite. Shutting the door behind him Shepard went back into the living room and laid down on the couch. It wasn’t long before sleep came over him.
The next morning Shepard raided the kitchen for any food or water. There wasn’t much to find, but a couple cans of vegetables and four bottles of water. Shepard packed the item into his back pack and headed for the front door.
As he stepped over the threshold Shepard noticed that Tom was right about the noise from the generator. There was six of the undead wondering around the yard. Shepard dispatched these creatures easily. He stood for a moment and looked around making sure there were no more. When enough time had passed and Shepard felt it was safe, he headed for the garage.
Opening the garage door Shepard began to grin. Inside sat an older Ford pickup truck. He stepped around to the driver’s door and saw the keys hanging from the ignition. Wow, it the fucking thing starts, I just might dance the jig, he thought.
Shepard threw his bag in the bed of the pickup and slid into the driver’s seat. Turning the key the truck rumbled to life.
“Yes!” Shepard yelled.
Shepard put the truck in gear and drove down the long driveway back to the main road. As he reached the road he stopped for a second and looked at the gas gauge. The needle was at the half way mark. Shepard turned left onto the main road and continued on his way to nowhere.

Stephen P. Smith

The Lovely Grey

Oh lovely! She has grown grey and cold, sprawling in the corner
Her roots have pulled up the planks, the desperate fingers on a coffin of a disgruntled mourner
Wait, wait for the wind to stop blowing
Hesitation marks, fresh on her arms. Oh if only he had warned her
Piecing her flesh together, it is late, too late. The disease comes, the visiting foreigner
Wait, wait for the blood to stop flowing

Oh lovely! Her skin crawls like homesick spiders, listless, lost
The pattern, like those marks, the threads so intricately crossed
Lonely. The heart beats slowly, discontent and rusty
Webs, they were not built for the weight of opportunity’s cost
Webs, look, look at her skin, the patterns embossed
Hesitation, hesitant, the violence is gusty girlgirl

Grey, they are icy pupils
Blessed, eight legged
Brief, arachnid relief
Grey, are their scruples

Dead, they are little pictures
Daunting, cobwebs so haunting
Restless, lungs so breathless
Dead, quoth the scripture

By Tristan Standridge

Letters I’ve Written . . .

Death Certificate Signed In BloodDo you not keep your love letters? Do you not read them in the dead of night, in the time when all life is stilled, when breathing is shallow and thoughts are deep, when light is dimmed and hopes go with it into the darkness? Do you not then reach for the lamp and illuminate your heart and your room, do you not reach for the letters in their secret box concealed under your bed, where you hope against all hope no one will think to look for them?
What if they do?
What will they discover? Your endless outpourings of love for those who are no longer in your life? The pain your heart went through, embedded in the warp and weft of the paper on which your words are immortalised? Do you think they will laugh at you if they read them? Or would they empathise to the point when sorrow takes over and they weep over the letters, knowing that their life is writ clear there too?
Ignore that. We are talking of you reaching for the letters in the darkest reaches of the night, the endless depressing unbearably lonely night, when you hold the letters and touch them and smell them and remember them, word for word.
Remember Harriet, the blonde with the nose which wrinkled when she laughed? The eyes which twinkled no matter what mood she seemed to be in? Harriet, who laughed at the wrong times and the right times, who was slender and graceful and delightful to be with?
For the moment, put her memory, affectionately, to one side and let us move on to Georgina, the elegant, leggy sultry dark haired girl with the penchant for foreign cigarettes, preferably Russian, for strange cocktails and equally strange men to go with them. She was good for a time, wasn’t she?
Melissa, oh how could you forget Melissa …
How many in all? Do you remember?
Count the letters and you will.
One by one, smell and touch and remember.
Each one is different, is it not?
Each one is written in the blood of the victim.
Before they died.

By Dorothy Davies