Bringing Life

F1.largeAt first, it was an accident. A simple happenstance, a clumsy foot, a harsh scrap through the skin deep

into the flesh. It was so dark down there in the basement and there were so many sharp edges. It

fascinated him, this wound on his calf. Leaving it open, watching it fester, poking at its edges to feel the

lovely sensations. It wasn’t until they came that he truly felt wonder. At first, just little dots in the

deepening red flesh, then slight movements, until finally life had sprung there against his own skin and

muscle and bone.

He had never brought life into the world before. Taken it? Oh yes, and that had its glorious appeal, but

this was something new. From there, things simply took what he could only imagine were the natural

course. A cut here, a slash there. After all, he had plenty of space on his body, plenty of flesh available

for his new tenants. Always waiting, always watching for new life to spring forth. The writhing maggots

fascinated him like nothing else. He’d made men and women move like that, their dying breath and

panic causing them to spasm and flip around. It was nice to watch, it was calming and satisfying.

It wasn’t the same as this. New babies brought into the world to eat away the rotting bits of him,

rejuvenating his soul. His mother hadn’t understood, even when he showed her. Cutting away at her,

shaking his babies into the wound and still she didn’t understand. In the end, she too had writhed and

spasmed just the same.

Since then, everyday, sometimes for hours at end, he would stare at her body. Through him, she had

become transcendent. Once she was merely a pointless sack of flesh with no purpose or direction. Now,

it was a garden, a bounty of new life. Finally, she had found a purpose. True, not of her own doing, but

he felt absolutely certain that, free of the burden of fear and loathing, she would appreciate what he

had done.

In truth, he was jealous of her. It was eating away at him too, that sense of emptiness, of no true

purpose. The outside had no place for him. It scorned and hurt him, so he had lashed back from the

depths of shadows, but any satisfaction he’d felt was fleeting. It was too quickly he was back to the

hollow shell of his existence, twitching and aimless with no idea of why he was there.

D’Aprile/Bringing Life/2

Each new cut brought him out of the dull and the dark now. Each new egg, new buzzing fly, new chubby

tiny baby gave him a sense of elation that felt more real than anything he’d know. The cuts covered his

body and soon, he knew, he’d have to either stop or take one final cut for his new family. The thought of

stopping was too much. He couldn’t. The compulsion… no, the complete need to give homes to his

brood was overwhelming.

Besides, he knew soon enough he’d be too weak to care for them, and then what good was he? What

kind of father trudged onward in mediocrity when with one single, elegant sacrifice, he could assure the

life of generations?

So, sitting there in the chair, in the vague darkness, he relaxed completely. His one working arm held the

knife steadily and confidently. He smiled widely, as he brought the stained blade to his neck. Slowly, he

arched it across the skin, so that the cut mirrored his expression of pure elation.

Yes, he thought, as the blood flowed. This feels right.

This feels like home.

By Jason D’Aprile

Jason D’Aprile has been writing stories as long as he can remember and writing professionally since the early 90’s. He apparently has a novel due out later this year and messes about with short fiction way too much.

Washing Blood with Blood

Jackson knew that Sam wasn’t going to last much longer. Sam had a few days at best. He

had tasked himself to keep an eye on his old friend. The others wanted to kill Sam outright.

Jackson wouldn’t allow it despite knowing things were not going to get better.860b30191e60ad6dbe81edf225758d03

They were a small group scavenging in the mountains. Jackson had started off alone;

running for the hills after the ancient and horrible Elder Gods came. A larger group had

splintered into small factions after learning the hard way that populations often carried cosmic

‘kick me’ signs on their backs. One of these smaller groups wandered near and Jackson had

become the defacto leader, but only because he let them stay on the bit of land he had staked as

his own.

The sky was turning to night, but it was merely academic. It was a living entity, that sky.

It roiled and surged with black clouds and a thick mist. Long tendrils would sometimes reach

down, other times the sky itself would. There was always a glow, day or night, leaving the world

in permanent twilight. When the sky dimmed slightly, indicating the night, they all huddled

inside. Things happened at night.

Night was what happened to Sam. It was a rare occurrence that the dim light in the sky

went out and true darkness fell. The living clouds would part and snatches of sparkling sky

would appear. Sam went out to look at the starry spectacle, hoping it was a sign the terrible gods

had lost interest in them and left. Instead the opposite happened. Sam looked at that vast

emptiness of space and Their madness and evil took interest in him.

“Space made him crazy,” Julian said in a small voice during the first onset of Sam’s

insanity. Jackson had to agree with the child. Their sphere was so enveloped in manifest evil

that merely looking into it sent a person over the brink. Julian was a sad but observant boy. He

and his sister Sophia had lost their mother to sacrifice. The previous group they had been with

did as all large groups did; in a swift movement they went from running from the evil to running

towards it. They offered the pretty young mother to an Elder God as sacrifice. The children ran

away before attention could be turned their way.

Sam wouldn’t sit still inside the cramped cabin so Jackson had to take him out. In the

glow of night, Sam wandered the trail that led past their small and hidden compound. It

consisted of two well-built cabins and two shoddy huts near a stream. The trail led up to a sharp

ledge that had a view of the entire valley.

“They came.” Sam said. Jackson refused to look directly at him. An indecipherable grin

was now a permanent fixture on the man’s face. His beard grew in strange wiry patches and his

skin had taken on a sheen. It was the eyes that disturbed his the most. The pupils were distorting

while the irises grew pale. He wore a scarf around his neck; it hid the strange moving


“I know,” Jackson responded automatically. “They came and now here we are; hiding

without hope.”

“They came to save us from ourselves. They came so we might relish in the release as

they destroy us so slowly. We are their fodder. We are so happy to let them do their beautiful

and horrible work on us.” Sam said, his voice beginning to take on a sing-song cadence.

“Jackson, you need to take him somewhere else. The kids can hear him,” said a voice

just behind him. Matt and Tamara came up to him, their eyes dark and haggard. They had taken

in Julian and Sophia and became their guardians. They were both strong, both survivors.

Jackson respected them because they helped keep the group together and on task.

Before the others came, he had been content living on his own until he either died or the

evil finally caught up with him. With the handful of people that now huddled together with him,

they eked out the best existence they could. .

“Please,” Tamara pleaded. “I understand he’s your friend but he can’t stay here.”

“I know,” was all Jackson could reply. He rubbed the grey stubble on his chin, a habit

when he had to make difficult decisions.

“If nothing else, get him to shut up. His ramblings are unnerving everyone. Jesse is

convinced that if we listen to him much more, the same thing could happen to us.” Matt said. He

gave a quick glance to the madman and shuddered.

In the time before They came, people worried about diseases spreading only through

physical organic means. But evil is an idea and evil is now tangible, it made sense that it could

spread through more than just contact. Who is to say that it couldn’t spread through words?

Jackson finally nodded his head in agreement. The couple hurried back to camp, leaving him

with his decision.

Heavily, he said. “Sam, c’mon. Let’s go on up to the peak.” Sam stopped gibbering for

a moment and gave him a toothy grin. Jackson wanted to scream at the sight of it, instead he

sighed and started up the dusty unused road. Sam followed behind walking in his own winding

way. The peak was just a wide spot in the road as it wound around and down the other side. The

view was normally spectacular but now all it showed were sick forests and the pitted outline of a

taken city. One side of the road was a small incline; the other was a deep and sudden ledge. The

ground was far, far below.

“A god is close! See?” Sam jabbed a crooked finger out toward the cityscape. In the

nauseating glow that radiated from the town, there was a hint of movement. Jackson’s stomach

lurched. He could just see over the buildings a horrible and unfathomable creature was indeed

roaming its streets. He tried not to think of the torment the remaining citizens were enduring.

Sam broke into a shuffling kind of dance. The scarf around his neck billowed and

Jackson caught a glimpse of the protrusions that moved underneath. As Sam danced up and

down, Jackson plopped down on a boulder. He knew what he had to do. At his hip was a large

Bowie knife but there was no way he could watch his friend die like that. He wasn’t even sure if

that would kill him at this point. Instead, he would push him over the ledge. If the height didn’t

kill him, surely one of the splintery pines below would.

Closing his eyes a flood of memories came to him. He and Sam working their first jobs

as young men. Drinking and carousing and fighting and living. As they grew old and married

they grew apart. They didn’t see each other for many years, not until after the end of the world.

Not until Jackson had settled into his mountain retreat after running from his young son. The son

he found feasting on his own mother, using stubby tentacles coming from his mouth. A tear

escaped the corner of his eye as he shook the memory away.

Sam was hale and hearty when he arrived with the group in tow. They had just buried

Sam’s sister who had gone a murderous spree and indiscriminately killed everyone she could

reach. His own wife was one of her victims.

When Sam appeared with the group, Jackson had been seriously considering suicide.

The only thing stopping him was the fact that those who committed suicide came back. Their

semi-tangible spirits returned, vicious and blood-thirsty.

Jackson rubbed his stubble again and opened his eyes. He blinked, momentarily

confused. The world was darker than before. To his horror, he realized that the dim nightlight in

the sky had gone out. It was true night again and patches of clouds were opening up. Through

force of will, he kept himself from looking at those dazzling stars. Off in the dark distance he

heard a wet ripping sound. It was soon replaced with a mad scrambling.

Taking knife in hand he called out, “Sam? You there?”

“Yes Jackson. I am. I feel so much better now.” Sam said from the dark, but his voice

was different, as if he was talking through a tin horn. He heard the same scrambling sound

coming towards him and readied himself. What sanity Jackson had been holding onto nearly

broke when Sam’s head came into view. Walking on a multitude of short pointed legs, the head

scuttled towards him. They eyes had a greenish glow as they fell upon Jackson. “I must go to

my God.”

Just behind the head, the rest of Sam’s body lumbered up. It stumbled stupidly, the gory

stump of a neck oozing something brackish. Jackson stood up and sheathed his knife. “You

want to go to your God?” he asked the thing.

“Oh yes, more than anything.” There was such pleasure in its voice. Jackson might as

well be offering it a decadent meal.

“Go meet it then.” In one swift motion he raised his leg and kicked the head as hard as he

could over the cliff. It disappeared noiselessly into the dark. The headless body still shambled

around, directionless. He gripped it by the shoulder and led it to the cliff. It grabbed him and he

readied for a fight. Instead it just held him for support. He detached the hand and pushed.

Keeping his head down, Jackson walked back to camp. He could only hope that if (or

when) the evil infected him, someone would be kinder than he. The others were right; Sam

should have died at the first signs of his madness.

Up ahead he heard a sound and stopped. A deer was crossing the trail. It looked up, six

red eyes blinked at him. Its expression showed disinterest instead of fear. After a beat, it

continued on its way. Cautiously he continued on. When he returned to camp, Matt was there to

meet him.

“We are leaving in the morning. A giant horror stalks the city and it’s already affecting

the area. We’ll follow the river west deeper into the mountains.” Jackson told him.

“And Sam?” Matt asked.

“Taken care of.” Jackson disappeared into his cabin.

The next morning he was woken by a scream. Jumping from his bed he wrenched the

door open. The camp stood together some yards off, pointing at his feet. He looked down. Sam’s

head looked up at him.

“I must go to my God,” the head said. Jackson heard the hammer of a gun cock.

“Everybody, get back inside,” he commanded. Quickly they rushed back, except for

Matt who had a rifle aimed at the creature. “I’ll take care of this. Get inside.” After a moment

Matt obeyed. Jackson shut the door on the head. The head patiently stood there and waited.

When the door opened again a burlap sack suddenly enveloped it. It only struggled a little before

becoming docile.

“I’ll take you to your goddamn maker.” Jackson growled. He tied the bag shut and went

back into his cabin and packed a few supplies. When he returned Matt and the children were

standing here.

“You can’t be serious,” Sophia said. “Please say you aren’t serious.”

“Get them all out of here. Remember, follow the river.” Jackson told them, picked up the

sack, and started down the trail.


The others were getting settled in camp while Julian finished gathering firewood. He

froze as something moved in the trees. At first he thought it might be a deer or rabbit. No one

hunted alone, in case the animals had…changed. Picking up his sticks he hurried back to their

camp. He chanced a look over his shoulder. Immediately the youth dropped his load and broke

into a dead run.

“Matt! Come quick!” he yelled breathlessly as he skidded to a stop. Matt and two of the

other men stepped out, guns at their side. “He’s back. He came back and found us.”

“Slow down. Who did?” Matt put a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“Jackson. I just saw him.”

“Okay, we’ll deal with it.” Matt exchanged a look with the other men. If Jackson did

give that thing back to its maker, then Jackson wasn’t whole anymore. “Tamara,” he called out,

“break down camp. Get everyone ready to move.”

“There is no need for that,” Jackson said. He was standing just inside the clearing the

circle of battered tents and lean-to’s sat. “We mean you no harm.” There was an echo in his

voice that sent shivers down everyone’s spine. From behind, Sam’s head skittered. The head

had shrunk to half its normal size. It climbed up Jackson and perched on a broad shoulder.

“We mean you no harm,” it repeated like an infernal parrot from Hell.

“Why did you do it?” Matt asked as a sudden flurry of work happened behind him. “You

had to know this was going to happen.”

“They aren’t so bad, not really. I was shown the Abyss. I stared right into it and I finally

understood everything. I understood the hunger of the universe.” Jackson told him.

“You know you aren’t leaving this spot, right?” Matt asked.

“You know you aren’t leaving this life, right?” Sam sneered from his perch. His voice

was a mix vehemence and loathing. “Don’t expect death to be a release either. Even your souls

can’t escape our beautiful torture.”

“Shut up,” Sophia cried. Tamara quickly grabbed her and set her back to tearing down

the camp. Matt and the two others stood there facing off with the damned duo, giving the others

time. Jackson said nothing more, he just smiled.

“To hell with this,” Matt said in a sudden fit of anger. He raised his rifle and blew a hole

in the middle of Jackson’s head. Sam immediately sprung off and sailed towards them, an angry

grimace on its face. One of the others caught it in mid-air with a well aimed bullet. Both dead

creatures billowed a noxious steam as they oozed on the ground

The group had broken camp in record time. They had barely made it fifty yards before

the ground shook and everything took on a green hue. Tamara screamed first. Above them,

massive tentacles reached down from the low clouds. Julian looked up at them, morbidly trying

to catch a glance of what they were connected to. Sophia broke the spell by forcibly shoving

him. The monstrosities reached for the humans, tearing swathes of trees and brush away in their

wake. Everywhere they touched the ground blackened.

The children shivered in the deep shade. Sophia lay with her head on her brother’s leg.

All the adults were gone. They didn’t survive the horror from the sky. Julian couldn’t make

their screams silence in his head. He didn’t want to know why they sounded so distorted before

they abruptly stopped. All he knew was that they were alone. There was no one to trust and

fewer places to hide. He didn’t want to believe that it was only a matter of time before the

madness caught them or they fell into the arms of something evil.

He tried to remember life before these ancient corrupted ones had wrecked havoc on the

Earth. The memories were fleeting though, quick images of cartoons and playing with friends.

Of school and lessons. All he could clearly remember now was a gray afternoon thier aunt had

been babysitting them. She came into the room with a strange expression and asked them if they

were ready to prostrate themselves to the Great Ones. What happened after that, he chose not to


Sophia stirred. “Hey, we should keep going,” he told her. She agreed and then stretched.

“What’s that whistling sound?” she asked. He listened and heard it too, realizing that it

had been going on for some time. It started so subtly he didn’t pay it any attention.

“It can’t be anything good,” he said. “Let’s go.”

Around them the trees open up. The bark parted in autopsy-like splits, showing bloody

and pulpy messes underneath. They pulsed with life. Fibrous strands shot from the masses and

connected the trees with each other. A dripping red web quickly surrounded the two of them.

Their new cage slowly contracted around them. In a desperate panic, Julian and Sophia

scrambled around to find a way out. The whistling grew louder. Whimpering, they clung to

each other and prayed that their end would be quick.

By Michael R Collins

Michael R. Collins was born at a very young age in the wilds of southern Idaho.  After a few decades he finally got his fill of all the sagebrush and rattlesnakes he could eat and journeyed forth to the creative bosom of Austin, Texas.  Writing has always been tantamount to breathing, and he’s done a lot of both.  Harboring massive commitment issues, he tends to write across all genres.  Sticking mainly with dark fiction (to placate the evil monkeys in his head) his first novel, Night Shall Overtake has been published by Black Bed Sheet Books.
When not writing he’s daydreaming about writing at work.  Or playing bass.  Or daydreaming about playing bass while writing.  Or broadcasting his live radio show online at

Roadkill Joe


Joseph Beckle belted along with Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” with every decibel his throat

allowed as he shifted the stiff, belching gears of his crumpled 1965 Chevy pick-up, though he

changed the words to, “You’re Dea, eh, eh, d!!! You stupid bi-i-itch!”

He twisted the AM radio knob through more fuzz and squalling forgotten country and

gospel, searching for some interesting political radio talk to argue with.

“Crap and crap, and more shit,” he said to no one, though Fubar, his black retriever-

something licked him once on his forearm. “The only thing that works in this crap hauler is a

useless AM radio.” He rubbed Fubar behind the ear and inhaled the last drag of his menthol

cigarette, flicked the butt out the gap he’d opened in his wing-window.

His speedometer needle bounced between twenty-five and thirty-five miles per hour as

he sniffed at the outside air wafting his face from the wing-window, waiting for the too

familiar, nauseating scent of putrefaction. A metal trashcan with a fresh liner tapped and

banged in its place fastened within the truck bed.

Joseph never understood how this could happen always on this two-lane, off-the-beaten-

path, hick town highway where he rarely saw anyone. He thought it must be intentional every


When the odor hit him, he gagged and winced. “Awww, man, Fubar. Smells like three or

four days! Why don’t people call sooner before it gets this bad? Ughhh, that’s got’ta be bigger

than a possum or cat.”

Fubar stood up in the seat wagging his tail, sniffing toward the wing-window over Joseph’s


“You’re one sick dog, Fubar! That’s why you get to stay in the truck.” Joseph scanned the

road ahead. “Not too smart either. You, if anyone, should know what happens when one

wanders out in the middle of the highway out here, especially a fool with is mind on his

stomach?” Joseph punched the dash and yelled, “Bam!!!”

Fubar jolted briefly, then licked Joseph’s cheek and continued his tail wagging and sniffing

the air.

Joseph chuckled, eyeing the numerous bald spots around Fubar’s head and back where

jagged scars no longer allowed hair to grow. “Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition, that’s you!”

Joseph saw it then, ahead, a contorted black skin-sack of hair containing crusted

coagulation and pulverized maggot food. He popped the truck out of gear and coasted with his

foot on the brake to stop just before it in the middle of the highway.

Joseph began the routine then. He shut off the engine and put the truck in gear, the

emergency brake had long since retired whatever cogs that had made it functional.

He got out and went for his flat bladed shit shovel in the truck-bed and untied the nylon

cord that held the trashcan in place. After that, he leaned the shovel against the truck bed to

light another menthol with his “fisherman” lighter, as he like to call it. It had a little metal bass

fish flailing up with a hook in its mouth on one side and on the other side someone had

engraved, “to my Dad who fishes with me, Sara,” though that didn’t matter much to him. He’d

had that lighter so long he forgotten exactly where he’d picked it up, but he found lots of

curious things on the side of the road with this job. You never knew what you could find on the

highway. People dropped things while they were taking a piss or changing their tire; they even

threw valuable things out the window. Once, he had scored a hundred dollar bill, which he told

no one about.

Fubar poked his nose out the crack Joseph had left in his driver’s side window, sniffing and


Joseph smiled. “Yes I ‘m smoking again. It makes that smell easier to ignore. Unlike you,

I’m absolutely revolted by it.” With menthol in mouth, Joseph grabbed the shovel and drug the

trash can clanging behind him toward the awful place on the highway.

“Ugghh!!! Shit!” Joseph gagged. “Worse than shit! Remind me about my paycheck and

the liquor I’ll consume with it!” He closed his eyes for a long time, and then looked at it.

Seeing it always made the odor stronger, though he had become quite adept at controlling that

pocket in his brain that connected his thoughts to his stomach; he did not become nauseated.

Don’t think about it, just do it, he always taught himself. That was the best way, if people only

knew how well that worked.

He sighed and shoved the blade of the shovel underneath the twisted carcass. It was

definitely a cat, though he couldn’t find any of its facial features, he knew that’s what it was.

How do they get out this far, he thought. He knew it had probably been dumped. You just

don’t see cats this far away from humans often. To think someone had driven out on this

highway, pitched their cat out on the side of the road so that it could be tenderized by hundreds

of tires made him angry. How long did it suffer? The people might as well have drowned it at

home. He dumped the remains into the trashcan and tied the top of the liner quickly to get rid

of the source of the smell. Ash fell from the menthol in his mouth. His eyes burned from the


A cold breeze came then, almost as if to blow away the rest of the smell for him, and he

heard paper rustling from behind. He turned around to find a rolled up newspaper lying at the

shoulder across the other side of the highway. He didn’t remember seeing it earlier, but of

course, he hadn’t been looking for it. When he walked over to inspect it, he noticed the paper

had yellowed. The heading said, “The Eastside Times, October 5, 1998.” He glanced over at

Fubar as he picked the paper up. “This thing’s two years old, Fubar. How do you suppose a

newspaper could last that long out here? Maybe it fell off the garbage truck or something out of

someone’s old garbage, but that sounds a little far-fetched.” He pulled off the old rubber band

and it crumbled as he did. “I think I’ve heard of the Eastside Times, but it’s not from around

here.” As he walked back toward the truck, he glanced through the headlines, finding that it

looked interesting. He put the newspaper in the glove-box of his truck and locked it. He would

have to read it later, in the privacy of his home. Fastening the trash can back in the bed and

throwing in his shovel, he started his growling vehicle and drove back to the tiny city of

Bloomer to see there were any jobs reported for him for the rest of the evening.

Later, as dusk crept over the world, Joseph drove home thinking to himself, the radio off,

Fubar napping beside him. He felt the grinding engine vibrate his hands on the steering wheel

while he contemplated that his life was completely boring and filthy. He had a closet full of

triple X magazines at home, along with a collection of absurd books on occult and black magic.

Only boredom brought a bachelor such frivolous entertainment. He knew he had a problem

with people. He could never keep friends, not long enough to get them to visit anyway. Every

time he opened his mouth, he said things to people, offering advice to help mostly, and he

always got these strange frowns and facial expressions in return. He had concluded that people

were a waste of time. They didn’t see the world the way he did anyway, so he felt he could be

happy without them, but he did get bored, and now, he wished something would happen to him,

anything at all exciting. He pondered staring at the appearing stretch of highway before him,

what it would be like if he drove up on something other than road kill. What if he drove up on

a gruesome disembodied head of someone? That would scare the shit out of him, but it would

be exciting. He imagined it happening and tried out the look of shock he would wear, feigning

slamming on the brakes and bracing himself on the wheel. Then he laughed at himself. He

could not escape the monotony. He thought sometimes that he had gone to hell early, and that

he deserved it.

Then he saw it. The mouth stood open. The eyes sagged within their lids. Its skin looked

waxed, but the human head was real, right in the middle of his path and facing him. Joseph did

not react the way he’d rehearsed. Still shocked, he slowed down just like he would before a

raccoon or a possum. When he stopped right in front of it, he just stared and waited. He

waited for it to go away, but it would not. It only gaped up at him in rigor-mortis from the

road. How long could it have been there? Surely, he was seeing his imagination in front of

him. His mind was running away from his rational consciousness and fucking with his eyes.

He rubbed at them and then lit up a menthol. Still there. He remembered it was not too long

before Halloween and thought maybe some kids were being funny and put a mask out in the

highway while they hid laughing in the trees alongside the road. But if not. He eased his hand

beneath the seat, the whole time peering into the trees on either side of the road, and pulled out

his handgun.

Fubar sneezed in his sleep and perked up when Joseph slid out of the truck and leaned back

against the door until he heard its latch click. He studied the trees flanking the road, finding it

harder to decipher the dark shapes if he stared too long. Then the engine of the truck died. The

pulsing shrieks of thousands of night insects surrounded him. Sometimes, in the trees, he

thought he could see movement, but he knew his eyes were tricking him. He’d been staring at

the outstretched beams of his headlights, and his eyes hadn’t had time to adjust. He shifted

toward the front of the truck then, and crept near the corner of the fender to peek around at the

thing in the road. He kept low, knowing that if he couldn’t see within the patches of black in

the trees, then they, or whoever, only saw the truck as a big block of darkness with two dingy

headlight beams spilling out on the asphalt ahead. But when he peeked around at the thing in

the road, he saw it had gone, not even a speck of blood remained where it had been. He knew it

would be that way. Of course it would be gone. It was ridiculous to think he would see such a

thing right after wishing it so. He felt like being brave. Get a grip, Joseph, he thought, this is

stupid! Look at you! Put that gun away and act normal, like normal people! Remember, like

normal people!

He stood up straight and strode on his way back to the truck’s driver’s seat, slamming the

door shut and returning the handgun to its place. Fubar licked his face twice, then went back to

continue his nap. Joseph started the truck. He drove on, seeing nothing more. Though, he did

stare into the trees a little as he headed off.

Joseph walked into the city building the next morning for work, and Tom Pence met him

as soon as he stepped in the front door. “Joe, we got a terrible mess out on Baton Road by the

bridge. Hell, I’ve gotten about six calls myself in just the last thirty minutes. Shit knows how

many Mary’s taken.”

Mary, the dispatch lady for the last fifteen years, leaned up from her chair within her

plastic windowed cubicle where she worked and gave Joseph a stare that would surely have

melted him if he were made of ice. Then she went on to her cop-talk on the microphone.

Joseph always thought she appeared to be in an argument with someone who did not exist. “Go

on, now, Joe.” Tom put his hand on Joseph’s shoulder. “It’s all right, you know. You’re not in

trouble or anything. We’ve all just had a rough morning here.” Tom was the sheriff, and in

Bloomer, that was nearly God. Tom knew it. Joseph liked him. Joseph knew that the man

tried hard to be a good sheriff. Tom treated Joseph with respect, when most people avoided any

exchange of words with him.

Joseph said nothing, but smiled at both of them, first at Mary, though she was too involved

with her argument to see him, then at Tom. Joseph turned around and went out the door then.

That’s how it usually went. Joseph didn’t say much and they knew that. They didn’t seem to

care, as long as the jobs were done at the end of the day. He didn’t want to mention what

happened to him last night anyway. They might suspect something of him. He was always

afraid of that. Maybe that was why he didn’t like to say much to anyone. Something bad could

happen, and he would be the first suspect, the scapegoat. After all, no one really knew him. He

didn’t have any family. He kept to himself.

Baton Road curved, humped, and threw you around in your seat if you drove an old truck

with stiff suspension. The sky offered nothing bright. Sick monstrous gray clouds held the

morning in darkness. As Joseph neared the old bridge that everyone in Bloomer referred to as

“the bridge” because it was the only bridge they had, he held the neck of a bottle of cheap,

smelly bourbon with his palm and pinky, his thumb and index fingers wrapped around the

steering wheel. He sipped between shifts.

For no reason apparent, Fubar stood up in the seat and started barking at the road ahead.

He glanced over at Joseph as if to say, “Can you believe this?” and then continued to bark with

more enthusiasm. “Come on, boy,” Joseph said. He patted Fubar. “What do you see?” He

craned his head to peer up through the windshield at the gray sky. “Looks dreary, but I don’t

think it’s going to storm.” He knew Fubar hated storms. The dog barked at thunder as if in a

contest of threats.

They were very close. Joseph noticed the lack of farmhouses. That’s all one found out this

far on Baton Road, Farmhouses and maybe a tiny church or two with crude hand-painted signs.

Near the bridge there was nothing but trees, and somewhere to one side or the other of the

bridge, Joseph remembered a barren muddy road that led to a place where people dumped their

junk and teenagers went to get high and fuck. Then he saw the huge mess in the road, just as

the bend revealed the high rusted skeleton of the bridge’s framework. It was an old railroad

bridge made into a one lane for modern vehicles, the steel gnarled and spray painted with

mundane, colorless graffiti.

He didn’t need to look at it, he decided. It was probably a deer, or a goat. He hoped not a

cow. Cows made the most awful messes. He drove up in front of it, now ignoring Fubar’s

constant quipping, turned off the engine, slid out and slammed the door before Fubar had a

chance to jump past him, and grabbed the shovel from the truck bed. He did put the bottle of

bourbon on the hood before he started off.

Half way there he stopped and stared at what he saw lying in a pile in the center of the

road. He looked back at Fubar, whom still barked at it relentlessly, just knowing that he did not

see what his mind had showed him, but when he looked back, nothing had changed. The

dismembered carcass of a woman had been stacked in the middle of the road. Her head and

arms, though bloody, appeared attached. Her damaged legs had been placed on top of her torso.

He could see her face. Someone had knifed her there multiple times. The expression she had

looked as if she were screaming up at the sky. The frozen state of her skin made her look like

pieces of a mannequin.

This could not be what Tom and Mary had sent him for; that animal probably waited on the

other side of the bridge or farther away, on a different road, anything. Joseph knew he alone

had discovered this one, but it did not look like road kill. He realized his situation. The drive

home last night came back to him. At once, he turned around to get the gun from under the seat

in his truck. Someone was fucking with him. Someone very sick.

Joseph jerked open the truck door and shoved Fubar back to the passenger side. The dog

continued to bark at the thing in the road. “Shut up, you stupid fucking dog!” Joseph yelled.

He grabbed the gun from under the seat and his menthols from the dash and slammed the door.

He lit a cigarette, stuck it in his mouth, and walked with the gun’s muzzle guiding him toward

the bridge. Down, near the creek, is where I’d be hiding, he thought. He studied the trees from

one side of the bridge to the other. He found that he did not feel that scared, but angry. Rage

surged in him. Everyone should know to leave him alone. Whoever it was that thought this

was a fun game to play with him, he would teach them. Even, Fubar’s barking grated at his

nerves so that he thought of using the gun on the dog first. As he stepped near the rotten

railroad ties of the bridge’s passage, he could hear the muddy creek-water burbling below. The

stench of the mess overwhelmed him then. It reeked like sour steak from the refrigerator, a

hundred and fifty pounds worth. He walked across each railroad tie, staring down between

them at the brown water and into the struggling trees sprouting from the soggy bank below. He

saw no one. When he looked back, the woman’s stacked body remained in the road.

Then he heard the rumbling of a large engine approaching from the other side of the bridge.

He put away his gun. Panic moved him in seconds to the cardboard box full of trash bags in his

truck bed. He couldn’t be found here with a body. They’d blame him for sure. He had no

family. He scooped out a handful of trash bags and ran over, unfolding them, to cover the

corpse from sight. He could hear the bridge thunder under the approaching vehicle’s weight as

he spread the bags over the carcass and tucked the loose ends beneath it to keep the wind from

blowing it away.

When he turned around, he saw an older International pick-up with a wooden flatbed full

of firewood stopped before him. Two men wearing ball caps and looking in their late twenties

sat inside.

“How you doin’ this mornin’?” the driver asked, grinning under his ragged beard. “Ain’t

you that guy that works for the city?” He craned his neck, trying to peek around Joseph at the

thing in the road. “What you got there? Looks pretty big. Is’ta cow or a deer?”

Joseph leaned into the man’s view. “God, you don’t want to see it!” he told the man. “I

wouldn’t call it a cow anymore. That’s why I covered it, so it didn’t give children passing by

nightmares. Damn, it might give me nightmares. It’s one of the worst I’ve seen.”

The driver extended his neck at another attempt, and then shrugged. “Shame. You’d think

people could see a whole damn cow in the road!”

“Yeah.” Joseph made himself shake his head, trying not to let his relief show. “You know

those drunk teenagers around here sometimes come at this bridge doing ninety miles an hour,

showing off.”

The breeze came then, and Joseph heard the trash bag rustling.

The man started to drive off, then slowed for one last glance back. Joseph did not have

time to stand in his way this time.

The driver shook his head again, and turned to his passenger and said something. They

both laughed, and the truck went away.

Joseph spun around and his mouth fell open at what he saw. The trash bag had been blown

away in the breeze. There was no way the men had not seen what Joseph was seeing. Maybe

they hadn’t, Joseph thought. Maybe he was having hallucinations. It seemed feasible. He had

been drinking more lately. Though, if he were simply just seeing things, why wouldn’t his

mind free him of this sight? The head in the road before had vanished soon enough, but no

matter how many times he blinked, nor if he looked away, rubbed his eyes, it didn’t matter, the

halves of the woman remained.

He paced alongside his truck, trying to decide what to do. Another vehicle would come by

soon. He had to do something. He grabbed a handful of trash bags from his truck and hurried

over to the body. He paused, closed his eyes and told himself, it’s only a cow, that’s all. Then

he began to pull one of the bags over its legs. He hoisted them in the bag and ran them to his

truck bed, plopping them in as if they were dirty laundry. When he sacked the torso, he noticed

that it hadn’t become too stiff, nor was it that cold, which made him even more nervous because

that meant that the person responsible hadn’t had a chance to get too far away. He looked up

and down the road both ways manically. When he heaved the bag of torso over the edge of the

tailgate, the bed of the truck sang out a thud like nothing less than a human skull tumbling

against sheet metal.

Fubar continued to bark. Joseph got into the truck and started the engine. “Shut up, dog!!”

he said, and then began to drive across the bridge. He lit a cigarette. He knew where to go. It

wouldn’t take long, and no one would ever know.

The bridge’s wooden planks nailed over the old railroad ties for vehicles to drive over

always made the truck tremble and bang. Joseph eyed the trash bags he’d deposited in the truck

bed through the rearview mirror. The bed slammed and the entire truck jolted as a back tire

slipped off the plank railing. He watched a leg bounce out from one of the bags and skitter

across the bed. “Shit,” he said between clenched teeth. He had been too nervous to take time to

tie the bags.

When he made it back to paved road, the truck calmed its racket. He couldn’t keep himself

from glancing back at the leg. The place where it had been severed had become nearly black,

but he could still see the white shaft of femur protruding from the muscle. The storm had

brought a light rain before he noticed it had begun. Droplets covered his windshield. He had

never fixed his windshield wipers, so he would have to deal with it. Though, given his

circumstances, he didn’t care much. The place he was headed was just up the road a bit, maybe

half a mile. He just hoped he wouldn’t have to dig in the pouring rain.

When he came to the muddied turnoff he was headed for, the place where people often

dumped old furniture illegally and teenagers hung out to party, he felt overwhelmed with relief

that he’d made it without encountering a single passing car. He tried now just to stay calm. He

told himself, it’s just a cow, another job. You’re doing your duty, that’s all. He couldn’t leave

that horrible mess for someone else to see. It was his job to deal with such filth. He owed it to

the people of Bloomer to take care of such things for them.

He pulled off onto the rutted path, the truck bucking in protested against the uneven earth.

No one would take it to dig around out here for anything, he thought. He knew he’d buried

plenty of other remains from the highway here before. He made his way to a small clearing that

nested a heap of debris containing: rusted pieces of dryer, a gaunt, sun-bleached couch with the

stuffing ripped out of every cushion, rotting trash bags, beer bottles, and molded carpet scraps.

Also, there were many splotches of black soil where people had dumped motor-oil.

He parked in his usual place near the trail he had taken before to digging ground. Fubar

had tired of his delirious barking, but still stood, delivering an occasional whip at the thing in

the truck-bed when he felt necessary. Joseph was getting very pissed at the dog at this point,

but he wanted to control himself. He needed to be good. He shut the door on the stupid thing,

and bit the inside of his bottom lip. Let it be, he said to himself.

He yanked out the shovel and leaned it against his left shoulder like a military rifle. He

stared at the mess in the truck-bed, contemplating the best way to go about lugging it to the

planting ground. He felt lucky that it was raining. There was less chance of kids showing up

here to hide their enjoyment of sin. He had his ears tuned to every infinite decimal of sound for

approaching vehicles or strolling teenagers. If he could just zone out the dog, his nerves might

keep his hands from shaking. A cow.

He studied the beast’s leg that had rolled out from the trash bag. Quite muscular for an old

Betsy, he noted. Without hesitating further, he surged into action and grabbed the leg and

stuffed it back into the bag. When he touched its cold skin, he swore he felt a tremor or a pulse

for a second. Flies spun around his head and hopped about his cheeks. He hoisted the bag of

its hind-legs and slung it over his right shoulder.

He started off on the overgrown trail that he had used in the past. The place wasn’t far

but it was secluded from view. He noticed the familiar smell of old dead things right away, but

that was a good thing. People expected there to be animals buried out here being the sort of

trash dump that it was. After all, he told himself, you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s your


When he reached the place, he noticed the small mounds he’d left in there before now had

sprouted thick tufts of bright green grass. It didn’t look as if anyone had been in the clearing

since he had last been here to bury a raccoon. It was kind of a road kill cemetery for him. He

didn’t like what Tom Pence wanted him to do with remains of poor animals smashed over on

the road. Tom Pence wanted them burned into nothing, leaving nothing. This left nothing but

ashes and dust as record for innocent creatures’ existence. That never felt right to Joseph. Even

if dead things did eventually rot until they were cold dirt after several years, Joseph thought

they should get more respect for being alive than just grinded into the pavement and then

shoveled into an oven with the limbs of a few other insignificant smears on the street. These

were living creatures for God’s sake. So Joseph had secret places for some of them here and

there. He’d forgotten this one, but he’d started it long ago when he’d first gotten the idea.

As he walked through the clearing he stepped past a larger hump of earth and remembered

that he’d buried a cow here. How appropriate, he thought. You won’t be all alone Betsy.

There’s a friend for you here.

He found a nice level spot to begin, and set the trash bag on the ground nearby. When he

pushed the blade of the shovel into the ground, the wet earth came apart like custard. Joseph

welcomed the rain on his back, and thanked it for softening the ground just when he needed it.

He dug for a long time, until he felt the hole looked good. He listened the whole time, but did

not hear a single car pass, nor did he hear Fubar’s barking, which unnerved him a little

somehow. He knew he had to hurry up and get back to the truck to retrieve the rest of the

remains. He dumped the contents of the bag into his hole, and headed back down the path,

carrying the empty bag with him. Then he heard something ahead and stopped. It was a small

sound. He stood still and listened until he could hear his own heartbeat. All they’ll see is a

dead cow, Joseph, he told himself.

He heard it again, a faint dull knocking like something thudding against metal.

It would stop and start over again, sometimes not as hard as before. Then another more

frightening sound came. A cry like a voice in agony murmured underneath the patter of rain on

the leaves of the trees. He knew cats often sounded exactly like that, and it was reasonable to

assume that a cat would find its way into his truck bed. They always did. At home, he had to

run them out of the trashcan he kept fastened back there nearly every day.

He took a step forward, then another, and told himself, “It’s a cat. That’s all, a cat”.

Then the sound changed. He heard his name.

Chills shot up and down his back and neck. He patted his right pocket, then realized in

horror that he’d left the gun in the truck. The voice came again, “Joseph! Come on! Come on,

Joseph!” He could tell now it was plainly a woman’s voice.

“Dear God,” he whispered to himself. A cow. It’s a fucking cow!! There must be a

woman out there looking for you.

“Joseph, come on. Please!”

He had to prove it to himself. There was no way he could feel normal unless he did. He

did not know what else to do. He couldn’t hide until it went away. He had to face it. He crept

forward again.

“Joseph! Hurry up and get back here!” the voice shouted that time, and Joseph jolted in


He thought better to go back and get the shovel, just for safety, but why should he need it

against a woman? He walked on out into the clearing where his truck waited and stood,

scanning everywhere for the owner of the voice. He found no one, nothing. He peered down

the rutted dirt road entrance for a vehicle of some sort, but found none. Then he glanced at the

bed of his truck. He could see nothing out of order from where he stood.

He called out, but kept the volume of his voice low, “Hello.”

In reply to his greeting, the wooded area around him stood still with no sound but the

patting of rain from the leaves. He didn’t see Fubar in the cab. Joseph reasoned that the dog

had probably curled up in the seat for a nap. Fubar couldn’t bark for very long. His damaged

body just couldn’t compete with his own vigorous determination. Then, as Joseph neared the

truck bed, before he could see anything within, a loud metal thud sent him back in fear.

Something in there had moved.

No, stay cool, he thought. It’s got to be just an animal or something. He stepped forward

again and peered over the edge of the truck bed until he could see the black plastic of a trash

bag, and he saw hair, blonde, dead woman’s hair, uneven tufts of it sticking out from the

opening of the bag. Then it twitched. The head began to bang against the side of the truck bed


Joseph walked around to the back of the truck to get a better view. This just could not be

what it seemed. He looked in and saw the face. It opened its death-bruised eyes and looked up

at him. “Joseph, get me out of here! You can’t leave me in here! It’s cold! Come on, Joseph,

get me out!”

Joseph took a deep breath. A cow.

He reached down and tied the opening of the bag over it. It still squirmed and banged its

head. He grabbed it up and jogged back down the path, trying with every scraping of his

composure to ignore its wriggling. He had to put it away. When he reached the waiting

ground, he threw it in. It splashed into the rain puddle growing around the legs at the bottom.

“Joseph! Why? Why are you doing this? It’s okay!” it screamed.

Joseph grabbed the shovel. “Shut up!” he yelled. He vigorously spooned the mud back

down on the thing. It still squirmed and murmured at him.

“Joseph, p-l-e-a-s-e don’t do this!”

“Moooo!” he said, filling the hole until he could hear it no more.

He propped the shovel up over his shoulder then, and went back to the truck. Fubar woke

when he opened the door and licked him on the cheek. Joseph did not go back to check in with

Tom Pence for the rest of the day. He just drove home. Maybe he would tell them tomorrow,

after he’d slept away the events of today, that he’d gotten sick. He laughed aloud at that idea.

* * *

When Joseph got home, the storm had died down into a steady rain. He remembered

the old newspaper he’d found and was excited about reading it later, so he was sure to take it

with him out of the truck. After tying Fubar up outside he went directly for the special

cupboard and got his special stash of Southern Comfort for just these times when he needed

comforting. He sat in his stain marked, crooked-springed recliner and watched TV, drinking

his Southern Comfort from the bottle and smoking many cigarettes. He heard Fubar howl at the

lightning in the rain as he did when Joseph wouldn’t let him inside. Joseph eventually passed

out there with a menthol burning itself into its filter and the Southern Comfort between his legs.

The newspaper he’d gotten too lit to care for, so he’d left it wedged between the cushion and

the arm of the recliner, by his leg.

Much later, he emerged in a haze of head swimming. He thought he could still hear

Fubar howling, but the sound seemed to carousel around his small home or maybe it was his

head that made the sound spin. It surged at him from an uncertain distance, and sometimes, he

wasn’t sure if it was Fubar.

The stench of the open bottle of Southern Comfort in his lap made his stomach feel like

lead. He noticed the old newspaper, now somehow in his lap. He unintentionally glanced at

the headlines: BRUTAL FAMILY MURDER.

He sat up and removed the dried rubber band from the paper and unfolded it. As he

read further into the headline article, he found that it told of a double murder of a wife and

daughter. A terrible, awful sort of man had killed his beautiful wife and innocent daughter by

cutting the wife in half and removing the daughter’s head. Authorities believed the husband

was prime suspect. It didn’t say they were positive, but the murder scene seemed to fit into

most police profile cases of the domestic sort. He did not read on. He did not look at the

family picture near the bottom of the page. He threw the paper into the floor at his feet. He

took a swig of Southern Comfort.

The howling sound grew louder. It sounded almost as if it were there in the room with

him. Lightning flashed outside the window, and he thought he could see Fubar out there in his

doghouse, sleeping. When he glanced back down at the floor, he jumped up from the chair in

horror. The paper was gone. With the Southern Comfort bottle in his hand, now possibly a

weapon, he searched all about the room, finding nothing. The old newspaper had disappeared.

He heard it distinctly then. The sound became a distant pleading voice. It said clearly,


It was coming from outside. Joseph put the bottle down on the TV set and looked for a

weapon. His gun was still in the truck. He hesitated, but grabbed the only weapon in the room.

He kept it hung on the wall as decoration, an authentic replica of a sixteenth century samurai

sword. The voice came again, louder, begging, “Daaa–deee!” Joseph opened the front door

and stood there, listening. He heard it again. It was coming from the back yard. He crept out

around the house into the rain, in the dark. He could hardly see except for the light falling out

from his windows.

The voice shouted, sounding near the point of sobbing, “Daddy, please!”

As he peered around the back corner of the house, he saw then, his eyes adjusting to the

darkness. Though it was small, he knew what it was, but this did not restrain the terror the sight

resounded in him. He dropped the sword and fell to his knees.

“Daddy?” it spoke to him this time. “Daddy, look at me!”

He obeyed. The severed head of a little girl lay in a thin stream of rainwater trailing

away from the house. It stared at him. Its skin had the look of porcelain; the neck had been

cut perfectly. He could see the shining bone of spine. Its hair was soaked from the rain.

Smudges of mud marked its face.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know me, Daddy. This is getting silly.”

Maggots dotted around her mouth looking as if she’d been eating rice. He spoke too

suddenly, “What are you doing here? “

“I don’t know, Daddy. You brought me here. The rest of me is still in the ground in

there.” It pointed with its eyes to the crawlspace opening to beneath the house. “You didn’t do

a very good job putting me underground. The rain washed my head out.”

“I don’t remember any of that,” he told it. “You’re not real. I’m dreaming.”

“I’m the same real as mommy you buried today. I didn’t know you brought her with

you too.” Tears welled up in its eyes. “Daddy, why did you do it to us? What did we do to

make you mad? What did mommy do?”

“I was saving you,” he heard himself say. “Mommy had been conned into a Satan cult.

They wanted mommy to make babies for them to kill. They were coming for you, too. I

couldn’t let them do those things to my little girl. There was nothing else I could do. So I freed

mommy from it, and so you wouldn’t suffer I made so you would never have to learn the truth.

I moved us far away then. Now, they can never get to you. ” He began to cry. “I’m sorry,


“Daddy. They can.” Its eyes glimmered up at him. An expression of fear possessed its

face. “They want you to answer for it. Someone wants to keep me from heaven, Daddy.”

“How? That’s not possible!”

“Oh, yes, Daddy. Who do you think rules the lost dead? They want you to make it

right. Then I can be free to go to heaven.”

Joseph wanted to die. What else could he have done? The evil had followed him here.

He had brought Sara with him to protect her, but it had been a weak hope. He had just wanted

her with him. “What does he want me to do?”

The head made a strange look, then. Joseph almost thought it would grin, but it didn’t.

“Go and redeem us, Daddy. You must be a servant for your remaining years to make up for

your crimes. You must kill. Find others and send them to the lost dead. If you do this for the

rest of your life, I will be free to go to heaven.”

Joseph stood up and took the sword. “Okay,” he said simply. He reached down and

grabbed the head. “But you’re coming along.”


The next morning he drove very far away down a desolate highway until he wasn’t sure

where he was. It was a sunny day. He’d left Fubar at home for the first time. Something else

in the seat next to him kept him company, though it did not speak. He felt lucky that he was

used to the smell. After an hour of driving he found what he’d set out for. A lone older make

car sat with its hood up and a pillar of smoke billowing from the engine. A woman with her

hand shading the sun from her eyes and watching Joseph’s truck approach stood near the edge

of the road.

When he had gotten close enough, he closed his eyes and smashed his gas pedal to the

floor. He felt it hit like the engine had given up on its alternator. He dragged her for a while to

be sure. It had to be making an awful mess, but so did the deer. He’d cleaned up enough of

those. He wanted to make sure she was very dead. He stopped then to clean up. He filled his

trash bags and got back in the truck to drive to work with something for the oven. Tom Pence

would at least be happy that he’d started early. No one would ask any questions as usual. He

took out the lighter to light a menthol and regarded the engraving from a new perspective: to

my dad who fishes with me, Sara. He smiled and patted the hair of the thing in the seat.

“Perhaps, we shall, baby, maybe this evening. There’s lots of work to be done today I’m sure. ”

He touched the gun, now in his pocket. He wasn’t sure if it would be tonight, but it

would be soon that he would need it.

By Michael E. Thom

Michael E. Thom is live in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and works as a graphic designer during the day and also does fantasy, science fiction & horror freelance illustration. When he is free from art commissions he writes horror & dark fantasy fiction. He is currently working on, “Disruption of the Planes,” the first book in an epic dark fantasy series he hopes to release sometime in 2016. He also plays guitar and is the vocalist for a heavy band band called Staring Into Fire.

Three Poems by Peter Marra


Poly-Styles of the Rabid Swans

1. a naked body contorts in various sensitive places, struggling to offend the masses.

looking for attention. showing the viewers a taste reminiscent of light rays.

eyeing the ripe camera. signing away your rights just for entertainment.

convulsing again. the split skin of the clouds vibrated so gently, almost

imperceptibly. she was clenching as she sang humorous phrases of passion and

shame. spurted right out of the mouth, stillborn as it traveled through the


2. blood was used for a disguise. despite her promises, she had committed murder

again. “so weary from working the system,” she had posted a few days ago. no hits

received. she bent over and snaked the sins over the top again and over again. a

very dark shade of pleasure climaxed without sound; not silence, just a vacuum of

noise made itself known. albino hands mauled flesh transposing it to goo. “the

heads in the trees will not forgive you,” she said.

3. a sadist counts her fingers over and over. that’s what they had taught her to do in

the hospital. the automobiles accused her, so they would never pick her up; that

was the reason they gave. she had disemboweled the dispatcher and hung his

entrails in the tree next to the heads. she had licked the smoke of the matches she

had used to set the remains on fire. such a funny memory. ” the cameraman got

some good angles didn’t he?” use obscene images to surround the mind, to

prevent recurrent thoughts.

4. the laboratory tests had begun. the second swab that was inserted deeper than

the first reached unknown areas and it hurt. but the patient didn’t cry. she just

clenched her teeth and whimpered slightly praying that this would soon be over.

another unanswered prayer. interrogation for enlightenment. she couldn’t

answer. she had memories that bothered her now. these activities had awakened

them and she twitched with regret, murmuring to herself, so she could stop the


5. slight whistling in the background as pages fall to the floor. faded tropism.

around her lips grey pain. around her eyes were symptoms. gears of love gazing,

sliding reflected in a black dildo. drugged figurines offered visitations from the

ceiling, rising out of the myriad cracks in the plaster. taught herself . ass spread

“pay now.”

6. After a time, it seemed to have gone numb and juicy. another shooting. shot up

blind. dance on the very tips. she felt tears prick her skin. the construction of the

treatment room had begun. leashes came out from dark places to control the

unruly and remove all justice. hand movement increased the pain. whispered

harshly while riding out time. she felt so intensely alive. they attached one day to

the other and proclaimed this was normal. cradle a head in hands. despite her

promises, she had committed murder again and again. parts of the human world



Crimson Insomnia

a deep black. a deep red. a profound silence she began touching. it was time to change.

a very tired brain draws connections between sex & lies. gnawed meat…the teeth grew

rotten. we stepped back to savor the systems of religion and to experience intense

pleasures and pains. it was as if she agreed. she was disgusted by her ability to market


immoral laws controlled the top floor, the moonlight and her tongue today.

she opened her eyes. so very wet. still blind; she must like the idea just slightly

to push. to transcend one’s normally perceived sacraments used

to regain sight just push. a female woke up with flaming panties

muscles excruciating. burdened by flashes of embarrassment about what we took

one after another from each other. membranes stretched taut in a lascivious

fashion over writhing latex bodies. in practice, it was a method allowed for now,

causing even more shock to all parts of her as she lay down on the table

and became one with the altar while holding the disembodied cock to her breasts,

the moistened flesh shimmered slightly. she wept because she could not dream.

she dreamt of her tears scalding the skin. the husbands couldn’t stand watching this

scenario on film. once – shy wives had no passion-driven apologies. ambrosia caused her

tongue to swell. she refused and so he went.

a nervous laugh. an inserted finger. a grimace

intense focus on the extended black box with trip wires attached as her mouth burned.

her pornography is guilty of extremes under moonlight. the rite is a prayer needed at the

13th strike of the clock

she was a fairly immobile lunatic who conjured spirits inside us

as her magical techniques birthed a compulsion that made her eat…teeth grew

she could feel the temptation to figure out how to please. this was all consensual,

it was quite easy, her hands disappeared perhaps because of the way our bodies react

she cut away her dress and found a common joy in all of this.

it was a fairly immobile lunatic who conjured spirits inside of pleasure

she had walked as the public imagined. she had a spasm torn belly.

she kissed reflections in any glass. she laughed when past images reappeared.

a video bleeding onto the sidewalk glass beads oozed from between her legs and plopped

to the ground and then rolled, then rolled then cracked the heavenly brides that she had

nailed down smirked and lied about new clothes and sexy outfits

alone in the garden she dreamt of the sea and how it would be red as blood she would lie

in the black sand as the tide licked her toes to the accompaniment of atonal sounds


Party Motifs in Decayed Lenses

she could always get madness. she tasted like the nectar of foreign invaders.

symbolic catalogs dismissive hands and she blinked her eyes.

she would be comfortable for the next 5 minutes until the panic

would set in once more.

esoteric decks foretold the next few minutes. that’s when her lips became moist with the

black tide. colorful steaming water. she steals while

peeking eyes are compelled to watch the spurting. she shoots as fingers point at her

relishing verbs of hatred. as the bodies fall pressing. the pad hard under carnage.

under the sidereal zodiac. don’t make the film appear under the slick tongues of the

audience. she rolls onto her back


listen to aching punishing rhythm everlasting spearing whomever she fancies.

bathed in preparation, then dressed but after cruel amusement

her back stiffened. she cuts and slices as tongues point at her.

licking adjectives of pleasure as the scorpion mounted.

a witch who revived the cloud. it came as an alleged messianic figure.

attacked with all the criteria necessary to kill. magically created by hands to pull teeth.

she appeared in summer as a mouth displaying an inspired biting

slicing the black leather motorcycle jacket to reveal a pair of glowing eyes and a decayed

mouth to kiss. a crowd gathered to celebrate a trail of teeth marks up and down the

dying sunday nights: that perpetually boring and frightening time.

wet stuff dribbled down each cheek as it remained watching.

as the crescents of light died midway eyes rolled under and over.

lips quivered as she took his life baptizing her cravings. thrown hypos at a sea of walls.

an attempt to cure childhood afflictions. over the phone: “please come home”

faintly whispered. hard cut dropping tasted like nectar off foreign invaders.

gates of paradise not less innocent faking dead for a little hunger.

she popped back out of her instructions to be submissive until her entire body was

covered. they both were photos. they both were 3-d. as the mystery sects turned a

sorrow into a pleasure integrated with the tender misuses that worsened the panic

under a climax she rolls onto her back.


self-medication habit

skin bump hives vein pump flash

By Peter Marra

A native New Yorker, Peter continues to reside in New York City. His earliest recollection of the writing process is, as a 1st grader, creating a children’s book with illustrations. The only memory he has of this project is a page that contained a crayon drawing of an airplane caught in a storm. The caption read: “The people are on a plane. It is going to crash. They are very scared.” A Dadaist and Surrealist, Peter Marra’s writings explore alienation, addiction, love, secrets, and obsessions. Peter’s latest published work is approximate lovers (downtown materialaktion) published by Bone Orchard Press: (

To All the Ghouls I’ve Loved


Dear Carnivores,

As of this moment I regret to inform our readers and writers that The Carnage Conservatory will be on a temporary hiatus. We are no longer accepting submissions at this time. Thank you to our long time readers and all the talent we have had the privilege to publish. You have been the most wonderful and inspiring group of people.

Addendum: I am hoping this will only be temporary and that we can begin again fresh by October. If anyone is interested in helping me manage The Carnage, if you want to help us to continue and aid in the relaunch, please email me at

Your loving horror hostess,

Emily Smith-Miller

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