Hey Shitbag, What’s My Destiny?

You hit a nerve, made my hands shake when you grazed those painted nails across my arm. The way you shook your ass at me and that peek-a-boo on the sly when you bent over and let me get a good look at ya cunt from behind.

You made me make a sacrifice,

For you,

Not me.

I hated the thought of your smile and your fake pouty lips, but I loved the commune of your flesh, shared and tattered. You gave it a bad rap. Your life, you said. It was just porno and tap water, malted milk balls and restless cocks. You called yourself Destiny, and I wondered why someone like you would work in a chicken house like this. Maybe you was mad at your daddy. Hope I didn’t look like him, so I sat at the back of the bar, in the dark, contemplating your full lips and how they would look severed from your face and mounted on my throbbing cock. You said you could see the future in that little deck of cards you carried around in your purse, said it with a “Hey Mister,” when you asked me if I wanted to know mine. “Ten bucks,” you said, and I replied, “Divine.”

You thought I was talking about you, but I wasn’t. I asked what you did for a living while I flipped the tassel on your boob, and you said you liked to fuck. “With a crystal ball?” I asked, and you laughed at me. You didn’t want to know what I did, what my passion was. You said it was all in the cards, and that death with his rusted out scythe and his emerald green eyes was just a beginning. I nodded and fingered the razor in my pocket, cause I supposed it was true. Well, you believed it, along with the moon and the stars and the voodoo priestess who told you “you” had a gift. You didn’t want to know about all the naughty things little girls like you shouldn’t know about. You didn’t want to know about my fascination with skin.

I am a sculptor.

What’s inside you is weak,

And I can fix it —

With plaster.

I want to fuck you with a chisel. Scrape the ligaments from your bones. What I do is a labor of love. I bring things back to life, but you didn’t even really want to know me beyond the free drinks and the bits of coin I dropped in your tip jar. You thought you were a hipster, a girl gone wild, but you’re really just a fucking parsley smokin’ bigot, getting back at her rich drunk daddy. Your bust will look nice mounted next to the saw palmetto by the shed. I’ll use pencil erasers to keep your nipples hard, yet supple. That’s what I was thinking while you giggled and practiced your “witchcraft” as you liked to call it. You went on and on about sinkholes and bedbugs and why it’s so important to wash the fucking sheets. What if I default on my lottery payment? Will I get sued for all those vile accusations I made about the frigid bitch of a mayor? or Was I letting failure bloom when I spread my seed to the hookers on the next street corner? “Fuck no,” I replied. “This is a small town, honey, and there ain’t no jobs in a dust-storm famine funeral parlor. I got clients. Not a lot of huntin’ to do around here,you see, so I might be easy money, but this strip ain’t the only game in town.” You smiled again, said I was hokey and quaint. Wanted to know whether I wanted to smoke a joint and get a lap dance or not. Now, I don’t know nothin’ bout your big city ways with your tattoos and pierced clits and all that greasy black eye makeup. I just skin em and stuff em; well, you don’t really stuff em, not like a scarecrow with sawdust and hay.

I do like your sky blue innocent eyes, though.

I think I’ll keep them for myself.

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

Paper or Plastic?

Cycling down, compressing, Ronald watches as the arms and legs hanging outside the machine snap off like muted branches.  Thick and bleeding, they fall to the concrete floor, no longer a part of what once made them whole.  Occasionally—perhaps one in five—these appendages roll towards him, but most times they do not.  Inert, they remain still about his feet, pooling, each piece preceded only by the dull thud its weight creates against the floor.  It is Sunday, pre-church, and before the morning rush.

Does he care that they make fun of him?  Yes.  More than they could know.  Does Ronald show it?  Never—not once.  He is good at this; at holding things in.   He lets them stew, boil.   That is how he cooks; how the man inside him rolls.  In the mirror, naked, he repeats:  I am rage. 

At sixteen he is hit by a car.  It hurts, but he survives.   Scars come, many, and every day he limps because of it.   So what, he thinks.  It beats the hell out of being dead.  Dead can’t bring closure.  Dead could not extract revenge.  His right hand turns inward as well, up and towards his chest.  It resembles a claw, but one which has lost the will to live.  Chicks never look at it, not if it can be helped. 

At least I survived.

He says this whenever an associate asks.  And he says it with a smile on his face each and every time.  He believes it keeps them humble, the ones he secretly despised.  They think he never hears their whispers; that he could ever possibly know.  Each of them is wrong; all of them his rage.

Mr. Gray keeps him on at Mister Food even though Corporate doesn’t want him to.  Ronald gives the man credit for that.  He really, truly does.  Mr. Gray—tall, bald, bad breath—shouldn’t have done what he did though, and only because of what it would produce.  He should have given Ronald severance; just ensure he went away.  He did not however, and soon enough Ronald finds out that Mr. Gray is no better than the rest of the people behind his back.  He never yells at Ronald, nothing as vulgar as that.  But he whispers along with the rest of them, and at times Ronald would see him laugh.

The final straw involves the baler, and the day Mr. Gray takes him aside.  Mr. Gray says it is only meant to house cardboard and plastic—that only a bale of each could be made at a time.  Ronald says he understands; that it hadn’t been he who mixed the two.  It was then Mr. Gray chooses to call him a liar, and his voice, had it been raised?  Ronald can’t remember, only that his fellow employees have stopped in their tracks to stare.  One of them had been Cara, a girl Ronald wished he could call his own.  She would never fuck him though, and he was happy he held no delusions concerning that.

  “And Ronald, really, you need to be washing your uniform more than once a week.”  Ronald nods, takes what has been given, and then watches Mr. Gray walk away.  From the side he sees him roll his eyes as he passes Patrick, Bill and Mark.  They smile in return, the secret shared and understood.  The rage comes forward then, leaping, but Ronald smiles instead, his big grin containing what will no longer be contained.  Later, while masturbating, the staff meeting at the end of the month enters Ronald’s mind.  They are always held out back, where Mister Food keeps all its excess stock.  Mr. Gray purchases folding chairs and everyone gets a seat.  Beside these seats looms the baler, metal and brown, stickered and wide.  Plastic and cardboard Mr. Gray had said, saying it as though Ronald were new; that he hadn’t been an active member of the Mister Food Team for the past twelve years.   The baler produced rectangle kids after you fed its mouth and the plunger pushed down until it no longer could.  After that came the twine, six lengths of rope you tied off in order to hold the child you created in place.  Ronald was far from wondering about cardboard and plastic as he spasmed into his hand.  He was thinking about bodies; about stacking them high.  Could it be done, he thought, and realized he had been talking out loud.

“Mr. Gray?”

“What is it now Ronald?”

“At the staff meeting—could I be in charge of the refreshments?”  Pausing, Mr. Gray finally swivels in his chair.  “Of course you can,” he says.  Ronald notices that Mr. Gray is more than enthused that he has offered to do this.  Good for me, Ronald thinks—everyone needs a little happiness in their lives.

The dosage is enough, more than, and all but Florence had taken a glass.  It doesn’t take much to persuade her however, not once Ronald puts the full force of his limp on display.  She takes the glass, sips—comments on how peachy it tastes.  Thirty minutes later all thirty-seven employees lay prone before him.  Where to begin, he thinks, and suddenly he notices how hard his breath has become; how hard his heart is now knocking against his chest.  “I am Rage,”  he says and looks around, taking each of them in at a time.  I will be stacking you, he thinks, and then goes on towards Mr. Gray.  In time—stupid fucking hand—he gets the big man up, rolling him up and over the baler’s bottom lip.  Easier, he takes the cashiers next, each of them half the weight of Mr. Gray.  Eleven of them inside, Ronald closes the safety gate and then pushes the big green button on the side of the machine.  With a start and then a screech, the plunger descends, crushing breath and bone alike.  They never wake, not one of them.  They only bleed, forming a lake like syrup to which Ronald sees no end.

  The buggie boys come next, followed by the Stationary Department.  Of them all, Sheila the office girl proves the most difficult.  Over three hundred pounds, she is more than he can lift.  Using empty milk crates, Ronald creates the leverage he believes he will need.  In, she sinks half way down, her face coming to rest beside George from Frozen Food.  Amanda is beside them, her brain exposed and grey.  Done, he looks around at the empty chairs, at the skids full of overstock beyond.  He takes in the blood that continues to seep from the bottom of the baler and arms and legs that rest within.  Should I leave them, he thinks, but knows a job is not complete until you have cleaned up after yourself.

He makes a bale using twine that will never again be white.  It does not turn out as he had hoped, not as rectangular, nor as solidly built.

From skin that runs in flaps to muscle that hangs and drips, Ronald stands in front of the baler’s open door, squints into the chamber for all the faces he can still make out.  There is Stacy and Beth, both of them covered in Shawn.  Below them he sees Richard, the man finally inside Peggy-Sue.   And there at the bottom lay Mr. Gray, his bright eyes now dull, his nose below his mouth.  They would not be laughing anymore, nor would their whispers continue to come.

Washing up, Ronald changes into his extra uniform.  He then goes out and fills the milk.  He rotates the product as he’s been taught, finds that the person before him has not.  He sighs when he finds this; dejected to see that someone had not been doing their job as they were supposed to.  Finished, he takes his empty crates out back and piles them away.  He stacks the chairs as well, the ones Mr. Gray had rented for the day.  Making his way up front, he realizes he has lost track of time; that the customers have been waiting longer than they should, many of them now tapping their keys against the glass.  Opening the doors, they look at him weird, like they have never experienced rage before.  Have I missed some blood, he asks himself, and then he looks to his one good hand.  Seeing nothing, he welcomes them in; informs them that the cashiers will be up front shortly.  The customers smile in response to this, but Ronald feels that something is off.  He doesn’t know what, only that it is there.   The customers do not whisper however, nor do they laugh.

By Beau Johnson

The Lodge

Part one:

 A highway bends over the horizon.
 A walk through the entrance.

Judges sit at a long table
that vibrates from the music.

Fitful playthings touch you ever so gently
closing the windows

drawing the moldy curtains
they’re still accusing outdoors.

A rusty iron odor engages the viewers
Inside the cabin.

They performed surgery outside and
she enjoyed the feeling.

Given a new life
She breathes death into her followers


Next door the crave engine convulsed
with a female.

Part two:

A doll smiled.

A round room
semicircle window
silhouettes reflected


Part three:

slinky women scream
while dancing
wrapped in
shadows’ times
wood paneled fears / time to break out
rancid cats dancing
on her forehead

watch with delight
while the hangman’s card
quietly placed in
Persephone’s mouth is split
bodies here and there watch her sit
while she counts her fingers
a teaserama for the toy box
time to talk to the red women

outside is a red black sky

The final tornadoes touch down.

By Peter Marra


Cost and Effect

“How much for those?” she asked, ogling my breasts.

I leaned back in my chair and stretched, buttons straining to be free, adding to the allure of the package.

“What do you think they’re worth?”

Her hands restless in her lap, baby rats squirming for their mother’s teat, I knew what she wanted.

“They feel great, too.  Certainly not fake, but better than real.  With a pair of these, the industry’s yours for the taking.”

Or faking.

“How much?”

I tapped a fountain pen against my lower lip, as if lost in thought.  Assessing her.

“What would you give for such a tempting rack?”

Her shoulders hunched up and down.

“My eye teeth.”

A hand fumbled for her bag, delivered her wallet onto my desk.

“Done.  You can pay me after.”


 She was drowsy after the procedure, the herbs took them that way sometimes.  The right address, a lab coat white as a Hollywood smile, and they didn’t ask too many questions.  Not till after.

“Can I touch them yet?”

I smiled, reassuring her.  It made it … tasty.

“Touch what you like, with our procedures there are no scars, no infections, no healing times.  Just… satisfaction.”


Her hands squeezed 32Ds, plump and warm, and she sighed with happiness.

“Can I get you a drink?”

She nodded, tried to look around the room properly.

“My face feels weird.”

I nodded.

“It will for a while, but you’ll soon get used to it.”

Taking the glass of water in her hand, she tried to focus, and I trembled with glee.

“Shall I settle the bill now?  I love what you’ve done, I’m so happy.”

I couldn’t help a giggle leaking out like a spoonful of pee with a fright.

“You’ve already paid.”

She cocked her head to one side, frowned a little.

“But we never agreed a final figure.”

“Oh, we did.”

Her other hand found her face, tried to rub her eyes as she concentrated on what I’d said, then flitted from side to side as if in semaphore of terror.

Priceless.  The tapes were rolling.  My customers, my real customers would be very pleased.

“What’s this?  What’s on – my eye, what’s wrong with my eye?”

“I just did as you said.”


I leaned in close, so close she could smell the sulphur on my breath.

“When we agreed prices.  You said.”


Nearly a whisper, but the sound guys were good.  They’d have caught it.

“To give your eye teeth.”

And as she cried, as she wailed, I watched the tears creep past the thick white lashes of bone round her eye.

Now mascara; that might be a problem.

By Gill Hoffs

The Game

It was the game. This is how we played.

 You wanna be a warrior bitch? Well we’re stuck in this together, we have to  hunt as a team, we have to fuck as a team, we have to go down like a team. It seemed like a whack job to me but no one was ranking too high on the sanity charts in this fucking warehouse. If you got bit you were taken back and whoever your team was had to deal with you, take responsibility for you.

 Sara got bit, she was heaving and sweating, putting on the battle gear, muttering ‘cunts’ under her breath. ‘Fuck you Sara,’ I said. I didn’t want to die on her bitch ass account, because she couldn’t figure out how to keep biters off of her. Yeah she could move fast but she got in tight spots all the time. She was weak, and we all knew it was only a matter of time before this was going to happen.

We were holed up in a warehouse . . . yeah, it was fucking stocked warehouse, food, water, tools, clothes, and lingerie. Cons, the self-proclaimed leader of our band of refugees, thought it only fair for the women to put on the skimpiest lingerie and the highest heels when battling a lost team member. In his mind we were gladiators, should be able to fight with the most unfair advantages, and with the most skin exposed for possible flesh wounds. Because, to Cons, we fucked up, our team fucked up and Sara was turning into a flesh ripper because of our fucking negligence, so death better be breathing down our goddamn necks.

Tory hit me with one of her heels between the shoulder blades, ‘You were on Sara watch, Ella, now we’re all in this shit.’ I snarled at her and recoiled. I knew it was my fault and as Sara started drooling blood and foaming at the mouth I knew I might be fucked. No one had my back. They were gonna fucking throw me at her. I slid on assless pink hot pants and a matching pink leather bra strap. My heels were well beyond 6 inches of clear plastic, picked out by my caring team members, you know the kind preferred by strippers and straight up hookers. Sara was wearing something equally garish with peach zombie nipples poking out from her now crooked electric blue bra top. The other girls dressed accordingly in thongs and babydoll nighties with stilettos strapped firmly on. They were back up. I was the team leader, I was going in, hand to hand. I had to snap her fucking neck.

‘Alright bitches’ Cons said from one of the warehouse platforms. ‘We lost my baby girl Sara today and you can bet one of you puntas is gonna put her down like a family dog, or get what you deserve and die trying.’ He paused with a glaring eye at me, but I just flicked my red hair. It really wasn’t my fault he was banging the cum slut who couldn’t go for a simple weapons run without getting her goddamn arm bit by a stray. Fuck. I’d survived in a convenient store alone with a dull hatchet longer than she’d stayed alive with us.

Now she was frothing and now she was ready to go. As if she knew I was the target, that little cunt charged right at me, my ‘team’ didn’t even have to guide her in my direction. She bowled me over with her snapping dead breath rotting right in my face. Pressing my forearm against her throat I kept her at bay, but she was getting stronger the longer she was dead, the less her muscles reacted to human feelings. I managed to wedge my enormous plastic heel in her pubic bone and kick her off, back into the cement warehouse wall. The girls whooped, Cons grimaced. He really wanted Sara to rip my scalp open. But I had her now, disorientated against the wall. I made my move and lunged ready to go for the final spinal snap. Right as I reached in and twisted Sara’s spindly neck that’s when I felt it, the incisors raking against my arm. Breaking skin. Biting, hard. Sara fell at my feet. No one said a word. It was still and quiet, then a click as Tory took the safety off her gun.

‘No,’ Cons said. ‘Let me.’

By Emily Smith-Miller