The Fears Issue
Volume 18, Issue 2, October 2018
VOLUME 18 ISSUE 2 OCTOBER 2018
Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” EDGAR ALLEN POE (1809-1849)
Suddenly out of the blue
Past the Peak
My Fear in Simplicity
Bordered at the Brink
28 30 37
KIMBERLY CHUNG CAMILLE DEHGHAN YELIBERT CRUZ ROO
ADINA TURKONJE THIRANDA W.
Place 14 Hiding DOMENIQUE BARBARO
The Demon Inside Likes to Play
The House at the Top of the Hill
I’m Not Sad. Just Lonely.
The Planted Mouths
JOHN GARFIELD MCMORRAN
PAIGE SILVER RAQUEL SA
Behind the Fear
HARRISON EDGAR SOPHIA GRANDE-LAWLOR COREY TURNER
CORA VANESSA HAVEN
The Christian Meredith and Christina
Have You Heard?
MAY F. TAYLOR
PREYE T. ADUWARI
at a Funeral 19 Alone ANDRE BOURGEOIS
KOURNEY REICH JAMES LAO
and Beasts 24 Monsters ANDRE BOURGEOIS
25 Perilized by Sleep AARON HAGEY
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Sophia Grande-Lawlor email@example.com
Production Manager Camille Dehghan firstname.lastname@example.org
Literary Editor Stephanie Silva email@example.com
Art/Photography Manager Nikolaus Atchana firstname.lastname@example.org
Promotions Manager Kimberly Chung email@example.com
Events Manager Emily Buccioni firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Editor Zar Kechichian email@example.com
Brantford Manager Fedana Toussaint firstname.lastname@example.org
Interns Adina Turkonje, Kourtney Reich, Paige Silver, Desiree Streef
Emily Buccioni, Yelibert Cruz Roo, Jonathan Collie, Camille Dehghan, Sophia Grande-Lawlor, Manreet Lachhar, Alicia Lavigne, Madeline McInnis, John Garfield McMorran, Kourtney Reich, Stephanie Silva, Paige Silver, Desiree Streef, Adina Turkonje
Jashwini A., Preye T. Aduwari, Isabella Andrade, Domenique Barbaro, Andre Bourgeois, Deborah, Thya Dragon, Harrison Edgar, Aaron Hagey, James Lao, Raquel Sa, Self, Swann, May F. Taylor, Corey Turner, Thiranda W.
The Fears Issue October is the month to reflect on what gets your heart racing. Fears seemed like a perfect theme for the 31 days dedicated to the eerie and horrifying. Going into this theme, we were worried people would be too afraid to submit. There was back and forth about whether we should stick with this theme. Would people be afraid to talk about their fears openly? Some people were. And I don’t blame them. Talking about fear isn’t really cool or accepted in our everyday lives: it’s vulnerable, it’s waiting to be judged when you put it out there. Sometimes it’s palm-sweat-inducing, jaw-clenching, nervous-laughing hard to admit you’re afraid. Other times, it’s hide-under-your-blanket close-the-closet-door never-tell-anyone difficult. We have some incredible fiction this issue, and we have some excellent non-fiction as well. I’m so proud of this issue, and of our contributors for delving into the dark and conceptualizing it in their work. So often we’re curating our best images, our happiest and most put-together selves for the world to see. It can be hard to stray from that to confront the less than pretty thoughts or feelings we all have. I think it’s vulnerable to put it out there, but more than that, I think it’s brave. Vulnerability is a form of bravery. I think I love this issue so much because admitting your fears, exploring them, and making them beautiful is a kind of power in itself. We wore our hearts on our sleeves, we put our fears in print. I hope you enjoy Fears as much as I did. Sophia Grande-Lawlor
ADMINISTRATION President, Publisher, & Chair Terrence J Mroz Executive Director Lakyn Barton HR Manager Paige Bush Finance Manager Randy Moore Advertising Manager Care Lucas Web Manager Vacant Treasurer Garrison Oosterhof Vice Chair Shyenne MacDonald Corporate Secretary/Director Maiya Mistry Director Aaron Hagey Community Director Rosalind Horne Community Director Hayley H.G. Watson
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Fears by ISABELLA ANDRADE This piece was inspired by the supernatural, the paranormal, magic, and the macabre. Magic is all around us: especially in nature and especially in the dark. Are you afraid of the dark? Not only of the dark, maybe, but what may be lurking in the unknown, inky depths of shadows. For me, I’m scared of ghosts, but I love ghost stories. I often remind myself of the (contested) words of Madame de Staël, “I do not believe in ghosts but I am afraid of them.”
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NEXT ISSUE Creation/Destruction
Reincarnation ALICIA LAVIGNE
I do not remember much from before this moment. It is dark, but my eyes are adjusting quickly. I am cold and surrounded by water, yet I am comfortable. I remember falling into the ocean, a ship sinking under the sea, then nothing. Have I... died? I have heard of life after death but I never pictured it quite like this. It is quiet, and I am alone with my thoughts and the feeling of uneasiness. I feel something swishing below me. Looking down I see a long, graceful tail, like that of a fish. I gasp, breathing in water. Panicking, I frantically turn about. Out of the corner of my eye I see a shimmering light and I glide toward it, no longer able to walk. A long, reflective strip of metal rests in the sand. A strange figure stares back in the reflection. Its skin is translucent. Flaky scales glitter on its shoulders and face. The nose is almost non-existent, merely two slits for nostrils, and the creatureâ€™s eyes are glassy and black. But the most astounding features are the slits on the side of its neck. Fins also protrude out around the neck and where the ears should be, delicate as tissue paper. The thing raises its hands, I raise my hands, and feel their smooth texture. A thin flap of skin lies in between every finger. The being in the mirror is me. I have been created anew. I slowly wander the sea, forgetting who I once was.
Suddenly out of the blue SWANN
Suddenly out of the blue I get really scared I can still feel her hands Those ghastly hands And now I can hear her words too I don’t want THAT again It’s scary And there’s no one to fight the monsters anymore So I pick up my hobby again But this time it’s different I don’t see blood I see words
As I let the darkness engulf me With open arms I find comfort in the moon My comrade-in-arms I am no longer guilty Of enjoying the dark pleasure The pain and fear long forgotten By my body But forever engraved In my warm, bleeding heart
Words that flow out of my body Manifested as blood That scared me for life Scarred for life I mourn for a love that isn’t mine But made me and ruined time A love that deserved to free its prisoners of its wicked charms But instead punished its forbidden fruit of yielding anything in return
Suddenly I don’t want to leave But I am afraid Of what would happen If I don’t go And as I see my final sight I wonder what it is like To be missed for the right reasons
Overthinking KIMBERLY CHUNG
I’m being annoying while talking to everyone; I’ve been talking too much; my laugh is pretty loud; I’ll just stop talking; my hair doesn’t look good; just put it up in a bun; my assignment is due tomorrow but I don’t want to work on it; I don’t want to fail this class; I’m probably going to fail this class; I just don’t want to participate in the class; I need to go on a jog but this assignment needs to be done; I feel so fat; I can feel myself get bigger everyday; I don’t fit in my black jeans around the waist anymore; I wish I had my life together; I know it will all work out; I hope to God it works out; I’m being too quiet; I’ll say one thing just to let them know I’m okay; keep smiling; distract yourself; god, your laugh is so annoying; no wonder people aren’t engaging with you anymore; stop talking; just try to leave the conversation; go back home; I need to forget about today.
My Fear in Simplicity ADINA TURKONJE
I fear the ‘two door illusion’ The one that holds my dreams And the one that is the path I’m on. I fear the same routine, Day after day, To feel like my legs are buried deep in cement And I’m nothing but this world’s puppet. I fear the dread of a long day And a quiet city. I fear no cars, no traffic, No people. Just stuck in a swamp Sinking six feet under the stars And grabbing hold of nothing But tree branches, Falling to the very low of expectations. I fear never getting up From piles of unpaid bills And negative numbers on papers, Reminded I owe this And I owe that. Waking up terrified that the word War still exists today but is described With words like peace. Disguised that the trigger being pulled Is not our fault Simply because the gun isn’t in our hands. I fear cultures being forced To be something they aren’t But this world is nothing but a ball being dribbled, Getting tossed around Just to lose its way. MAYA DAVIDSON
I waited for hours. I waited outside your home. I quietly tapped my fingernails against your door. And I whispered through the crack separating your garage and the floor. I rubbed my legs against your trees and I ran my arms through your bushes. I mouthed words to your cat who peeked through the blinds of your bedroom window. I faded into the dusk when the lights flickered on to illuminate the night. I wrote you a letter and sealed it in my saliva. I rolled in the dirt covering the ground of your garden. And then I went home and I went to bed.
A IN AD E OJ RK TU
Monsters My little sister never sleeps at night. At exactly 12:02 AM she opens the door into my bedroom with a creak, her face coated in hesitance and a light sprinkling of anxiety. Her body is dressed in her Minnie Mouse pajamas that only reach down to her thighs. They once touched her knees. Sissy, She says, her voice quiet, as if testing the waters before taking a deep plunge. Can I sleep with you? My eyes open, having been brought back to life by the creak of the door and the light shining into my dark alcove. I can see the bags under her eyes from broken sleeps like broken windows, cracked in all the wrong places and waiting to collapse under the weight of the rain. Maybe there’s a monster under the bed. Or maybe the shadows in her closet remind her of the scary story that she heard at school when she was four years old. Maybe she stays up all night curled up under the blanket, staring at the crease where her two walls meet and waiting for them to split open into the depths of her worst fears. I sit up and watch her face as she stands still between my doorframe, her body a mere shadow in front of the light of the hallway. She is as frozen as ice, waiting and counting down the seconds until she hears my voice. Maybe the monsters aren’t under her bed. Maybe the shadows aren’t in her closet at all. Maybe her worst fears aren’t waiting to jump out at her the second she takes her gaze away from the wall. I watch her face as I pause. I think about everything I have to do the next day: read your books, finish your journal assignment, clean your room, take your car in for repair, send an email to your mentee, share the excel document for your committee, read the article for your theory class, find some time some how some where some place for your own self care, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. Go to sleep in your room, I whisper apologetically. My voice drowns in the weight of everything that isn’t nearly as important, yet takes up way too much more of my time. Maybe the monsters are inside of her thoughts. Maybe the shadows in her closet are actually shadows in every curve of her imagination, in every thought that she has swallowed and choked on. She leaves. Maybe she goes back to waiting. Maybe she curls up under her blanket. Maybe she holds her breath for as long as she can until her lungs force her to move again. Maybe she counts sheep. Maybe she cries. Maybe one day I’ll remember to let her stay.
3 AM THIRANGA W.
Give me some time Iâ€™m gasping for air reaching out for divine intervention as my fears grapple me to the ground weighed down looking for you I see you every morning at 3 am my subconscious dredging up the past The memory of your lips on mine the caress of your hands down my back that soft rough touch... an oxymoron in itself godlike in the way you bring me higher Like a serum down my veins you pull me out of myself the worries slipping off like the jacket I was wearing keep on holding me closer and Iâ€™ll keep saying your name infinitely eternally forevermore for you are time and oblivion all the same Give me some time to find you ...will you?
I need some air... this suffocating feeling is it love? is it pain? ANDREAS PATSIAOUROS
is it fear? I’m f a l l i n g
this world’s pittance on time is driving me wild I’m losing myself so baby come back I see you every morning at 3 am your lips on mine the caress of your hands down my back
Hiding Place DOMENIQUE BARBARO
Like a spider, you left webs In the corners of my eyes Collecting tears from broken promises And dust from shattered lies Your shadows lurk around me And suffocate my mind When Iâ€™m all alone in darkness I can feel you close behind Your presence always follows I cannot run or scream For the fear that lives inside me Crawls so deep it canâ€™t be seen When I shut my eyes, and take a breath To put my nerves to rest I can feel you pluck my heart strings As my heart beats through my chest
And when I rest my head at night To end it for a while You appear in all my nightmares With a sickened evil smile
Bordered at the Brink SELF
The brink stands before me, Relentless and foreboding, smacking of all the decisions I never made. Of all the choices I never reached of all the apathy I incurred. The brink stands before me, A jagged reminder of the lives that could have been: the destinies and of the destinations and of the desires and the discarded. The brink stands before me, All the faces and all the places and all the won races and all the traces of hope and value and accomplishment and triumph. The brink stands before me, A villainous blight on all my peers and acquaintances, of turned cheeks and of turned backs. To be shunned or worst yet acknowledged with pity. The brink looms before me, I made and bade this foul beast of shapeless forms and yet of unyielding recognition. Did I choose it or did it choose me the question asks. The brink towers over me, Fixation fascination frustration agitation aggression resignation retaliation broken. The brinks swallows me, What have I done? Why did I choose this? It did not choose me. I chose it. The brink stands behind me, It wavers and wails, claws and cries, stamps and stares. Beyond it lies the road that must be taken; a one-way trail with no return. The brink is no longer my interest, This road leads to uncertainty. Mastery or misery, joy or jaded, fame or fatality, success or salvation, entrance or end. I care not, so long as the brink is behind and the road beyond.
Midnight PAIGE SILVER
I have two souls. The light & the dark, But the fight is getting too intense. The light dimming, Shadows taking over, Until I am blinded. Midnight is coming. KOURTNEY REICH
Nightmare RAQUEL SA
Nothing above me a black empty sky swarmed with bugs in thick summer heat choking the echo of a chirping cricket clicking in my skull I feel a crack in the cement like a bent and broken spine in my back beneath me nothing. ANTONIO TONE
I’m Not Sad. Just Lonely. MAY F. TAYLOR
The House at the Top of the Hill THYA DRAGON
The flickering lights On this winding road Lead me to a place I’ve been before The shadows of the monsters That were concealed in plain sight The creaks of the floorboards Of my mind This house that once felt warm Is now a cold shell Full of sadness, and all alone I find myself again. Whispers that threaten to pull me back in With their words full of toxicity Hidden meanings, reading between the lines Let me run out and find a safe place to hide. Hide it all away, Hide it all away Find a safe place to stay Never let your mask slip
I’m not sad, just lonely. If only I let people know me completely. I smile and feign amusement, not knowing why, Most times I want to cry. Just another passerby. Am I a fraud? Because my life is a lie. Maybe lie’s too strong, how about fake? I’m not a bad person, I’m sensitive, and that’s all it’ll take, To feel that I’m not good enough, that I don’t matter. Let’s talk about friends for a starter. Friends? More like people I talk to only when classes start for school, But over the summer I become uncool. I mean, who would want to talk to me? I have nothing interesting to say… Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of people. Just people. I look around, and can’t help but feel feeble. How is it that people have all these amazing friendships? And the only real connection I have is with my family relationships? I know what you’ll say, stop pitying yourself, and go talk to people. Start with a joke. That’s easy for you to say, I can’t help but choke. I’m just a nervous person, overall, I don’t want people knowing, is all. I put up a front, and act like somebody’s clone. I’m afraid if I don’t, I’ll only end up being alone. That’s the joke you see, what I’m afraid of is already happening, So why am I allowing myself to remain in this limbo? It’s maddening. I look for approval, based on how someone responds to something I’ve said. Isn’t that crazy? It’s like I’m out of my head. Who cares what other people think about me, right? Well I do. I know somewhere deep inside, you can agree too. I’m ashamed to admit it, But I can’t seem to get over this bit. Sorry if this came off as depressing, Trust me, what I’m writing is a blessing. Not to you, but to me. I swear I’m not sad, I’m just a little less lonely. ADINA TURKONJE
Alone at a Funeral ANDRE BOURGEOIS
The absolute destination An absolute tragedy Absolute isolation How could this happen to…
How come I feel So absolutely alone As I sit here and kneel By this coffin back home No one showed up Not even the family What a way to end up How could this happen to... I wonder whose fate It was to end up Alone on this day That should be so filled with love As I peer in the coffin I’m terrified to see The lonely soul that’s inside Looks a lot like…
Entrapment KOURTNEY REICH
Light, blinds, jarring lines And walls that are caving in. Mirror shattered, glass scattered Distorted reflections within. All is daunting, voices calling, It becomes harder to breathe. Isolated, image fading, The darkness is me.
HEATHER SMITH ANTONIO TONE
KELLY XU MADELINE MCINNIS
KOURTNEY REICH MAYA DAVIDSON
Frightmare JAMES LAO
When I wake up in darkness. The frightmares get started. There are fearful fathoms of dark clouds and mist. Villains and horrors… too much to list. Sweat beads are cold as they run down my face. Never have I ever felt so out of place. A harsh panting breath is pushed from my chest. I am awake now, I was never at rest. Tears flow as I’m shaken by dream or reality. What is real and what was a fallacy? Hairs on my neck stand. My levels of anxiety will never land. When I force close my eyes Monster visions rush by. Drip, Drip, Drip, I can hear tears drop… Slip, Slip, Slip,…everything is lost.
I am caught by dreaded scenes, I am frozen in time, I am surrounded by strange colours … purple, orange, and lime. The more I run the faster monsters come for me. I am begging for peace from frightmare’s tragedies. All I desire is an end to my fears. I have lost all happiness, and all I have is tears.
Behind the Fear JASHWINI A.
I nearly drowned in a pool when I was six. And I fell down the stairs once causing my fear of heights. Confined spaces trigger claustrophobia in me. But I never knew what it felt to be truly scared, frightened and shaken to the core until the day when I, a little girl of just 13, was touched inappropriately in an electric train. The vile creature that did it didn’t seem to care. The other passengers never noticed. It changed something in me, but it never inspired FEAR in others. On the contrary, the replies I get when I tell this story even now are, “You should have worn a dupatta”, “You should have looked and acted your age”, and the list goes on. I was scared when it happened to me, but I came face to face with a much harsher reality when I spoke to people about it, seeking justice. This instilled a fear in me that I still possess to this day: The fear of the society we live in. The fear of reality. The fear of getting exploited or abused if I dare try to live my life my own way. I’ve grown used to the harassment by now but not the judgemental eyes of the apologists. If doing a crime is wrong then blaming the victim is equally wrong. The society we live in conditions us to always fear people above you. It makes us believe that fear is the natural reaction to harassment or bullying. Makes us believe that we should be scared about showing our true selves. Break this society. Break it not with blows but with love. Acceptance, tolerance and love are always better than instilling or living with fear. Never, and I stress never, be scared to express yourself. Irrespective of race, gender, caste and sexuality, everyone should speak up. Never let your fear stop your torch from burning blindingly bright. STEPHANIE SILVA
Monsters and Beasts
What if I told you About monsters and beasts And things in the night That you can’t really see Until they’re so close That you’re too scared to breathe You’d rather suffocate there Than end up in their teeth I bet you’d bring up The shadows in your head The things that you see But pretend not to instead From the corner of your eye Or under your bed Or creeping through the dark They fill you with dread No one would believe you If you shared this unknown But for you these creatures Sit a little closer to home I’d just like to remind you That you’re not on your own For the things that you see Will never leave you alone
Paralyzed by Sleep AARON HAGEY
I had a dream, which was not just a dream. Of that creature perching on the ceiling. Though, how I wanted — I just couldn’t scream. Through my whole body it sent a feeling One that I was sure was felt long before Each time it came, my plagued mind went reeling: Wondering, what dream next would bring it more. Wondering, where this being first came from, And why it tortured all these restless nights. Though I tried to fight, I would feel its thrum, That echoing murmur I heard inside, That battered my still heart just like a drum, I could not confront it, though I had tried. I once had fears that I would cease to be, When those same fears would feed the lurking beast, And did convince me I could not be free, I had to fight, resist its endless feast: Struggling limbs, aching to move and stir, Before the dream itself had ceased, Moving any muscle I’d know for sure That my salvation would be close at hand, But before I could, there was but a blur: Like being trapped beneath the crushing sand, My breathing, restricted, I could not shriek, But, as soon as it had come, it left and I woke — still feeling its breath on my cheek.
Past the Peak MADELINE MCINNIS
Heights? You’ll spend the rest of your life trying unsuccessfully to surpass the successes you’ve already had. Snakes? You’ll realize that you’ve given up the truest friend you’ll ever have. Spiders? You’ll be telling those same eight stories for the rest of your life to the boredom of everyone around you. Clowns? You’ll never be as happy or laugh as hard as you did then. Time? You’ll always be yearning for the past and wishing the future away. Drowning? You’ll be drowning under your mundane life, unable to catch a breath or a break, until you fade into blackness. Flying? You’ll get used to having your feet planted firmly on the ground. Ghosts? You’ll be haunted by memories of happier times and wish for the excitement something impossible would bring. Death? You’ll welcome it when you realize there’s nowhere else to go from here but down. So what is it that really scares you most?
Descent HARRISON EDGAR
I went down away from my father I slipped far out of reach of my brothers For the land was cursed And the sages said I must end of the evil The heart of darkness in the vile mountain hole I wore a silver halo on my head I dressed in aether robes Starlight was made to mark my face And the sages said I must go alone No knight could accompany me
As I approached the source The wind picked up, and my light fluttered But I did not let it go out And the sages say I prayed to Luma My hand before the flame was enough
I did not go blind however And I carried in my hands the torch of my mother Dual candles wrapped around each other And the sages said I would see And I had hope
Finally, that dark and putrid thing Came into my sight, my candlelight I hesitated not an instant And the sages say I committed the final blow To end the darkness
When I entered that dark cave Now dismounted from my horse The candles burned bright with light And the sages said to go ahead, to the very heart Stab it, end the vile song
From the wound I made first came a trickle Then a spray And finally a flood All the darkness of the world And the sages say I then ascended, my job done But I was not.
At my belt hung a dagger of purest horn Carved by queens of old The men had told me: stab the vile pulsing thing And the sages said its beat would lead me to it So I walked on By hourâ€™s end, I was now not on rock But cold dead air like midnight And I myself was the moon And the sages say I was not afraid As the noises echoed in the dark I soon heard it, the thrum The hum, the growing noise I walked on narrow paths to reach it And the sages say the darkness tried to swallow me But really it had never stopped since I had arrived
They say I live in the stars They say I am the moon They say I recline beside my lover The sages say I sacrificed myself for the world The sages are liars They do not speak of how I was plunged Steeped and drowned in the ink As it surged forth, out and up Up so far that when I next saw the light It was back before my family I tried to call out to them But they slew me The sages speak of what a vile beast crawled forth from the bile Sopping wet in void-seeped rags Grey horns protruding from a tangled hive of hair And how she tried to gargle out a curse Before a sunlight blade went through her skull
The Demon Inside Likes to Play DESIREE STREEF
I’m calling out, I’m aways calling out, except I can’t hear my own voice, no one can because my demon, he took it. He is always stealing stuff from me; my happiness is something he is very proud of. I can’t seem to get that one back. He thinks it’s a game, toying with my life and maybe he thinks it’s funny but I’m ready to end this game. Congrats demon you won, I’m done playing. I want people to hear me, not the thoughts that you always plant in my head. NO, I would never go through with them but you make it so hard sometimes to refuse. Sometimes I get close and I want to give in. You don’t let me win though, you never let me win. You are constantly there, always ready to strip away any chance that I have at this “winning”. You make sure you win, no fair demon you play dirty. You let me think I’m winning, then when you know I’m least expecting it you take it away. You hide it and I can never find it again. It’s getting harder to play your games, and you know what demon? I’m tired of your games, I want to rest. Can we stop this game for a while, it hurts now. If I give up will you leave me alone? I promise not to tell. I won’t, it will be our dirty little secret. You win. Trying hurts to much now because when you know the outcome of the situation where’s the fun anymore? Yes, I agree, I will wear the mask that you made and yes, you’re right, it will convince everyone. They won’t know the difference, it looks just like me…. Except it’s not. It’s a lie, it is what people want to see, a perfect happy smiling person and I’ll play the part well I promise. So, we agree…...? Good.
Terror does not take form in the shape of a beast or a tower or a spell. Echoes on the midnight stairs, breathing outside the door nothing pierces the heart quite like the whispers of the mind. Reflection staring back at me, hands shaking in the dark, daggers under satin pillows promise more than any outside evil ever did. And if I am the damsel of this saga know that the hero frightens me as much as the villain because I am one myself. So come to save me, at your own risk and find me lacking that softness gone long ago and never missed. Saviours travel through hell to find that perhaps redemption isnâ€™t here. Perhaps it isnâ€™t desired.
The Planted Mouths JOHN MCMORRAN
The path tenuously suggests humans. It is grown over by tree limbs, between which the snow falls and takes shape on the forest floor. Cedars exchange secrets when the breeze gives them voice, but the forest seems more intent upon the sounds of the man. It holds its breath while his boots sigh in the powder. His body’s form and substance are lost within his rags. Individually no article of clothing is complete. They are mismatched, torn, and have all known other owners. His breath comes in silver bursts. Ahead, a vertical column of woodsmoke rises from somewhere in the forest. The fire’s smoke is umbilical, a gray tether between the gray clouds above and the gray world beneath. The only exposed skin on the man is the raw red line that separates his upper and lower face. Through this windburned slit his eyes are hard and gray like the world around him. As he nears the source of the smoke, the forest recedes and the path widens, eventually transitioning to hard packed snow that has been turned over recently and often. The ugly brown knuckles of tree stumps jut up rudely in places, imperfection in a formerly virgin tableau. The howl emanates from somewhere in the forest, and the sound is devoid of all that can rightly be called human. Without pause, the man shrugs his ragged pack from
his shoulders—in a single movement discarding all that he has in favour of flight. He runs. The house grows closer, but the pace is agonizing. As he runs, the howl sounds again and experience reminds him that trees do not allow sound to travel far. The snow grows deeper as he approaches the house. He does not leave the path, though he now needs to raise his knees high to pull his feet free of the powder. The snow flows over his knees and the man looks back behind him. The trees are silent and sober and promise that nothing is amiss. The howl again, and he whimpers and stumbles when a horrible pain erupts in his foot. He tries to retrieve it, but the rest of him is sinking into the crystal white and the howl sounds from somewhere close by in the forest. He pulls and the pain is immense. He drives his gloved hands into the snow and swipes it aside furiously. It tumbles back into place, and the man thrashes and shouts as the pain intensifies. He locates his foot and sweeps aside the snow and then screams in horror. A woman’s eyes stare up at him, filmed over as though cataracted. Her mandibles are full of boot rubber, and they continue to chew. He cries out and pulls at his injured foot when pain erupts in the other one. He tears this second foot free of the snow quickly, causing him to stumble forward onto his belly. He begins to crawl. An attached head follows him up and out of the snow. Disembodied, it blindly clings, chewing his
foot as he ploughs a trail with his chest though the soft upper snow toward the house. Pain begins in his knees as they sink too low, and he moans and churns his arms like a drowning man in deep water. He forgets himself, and in his desperation he drives his hands downward, looking for something solid by which to drag himself forward. His hands sink into the snow and are met by the gnashing jaws of the undead.“Help me! Oh God help me!”His rags are being devoured below the surface of the snow, and every time he pulls a limb free the churned white drifts become freckled with blood.“Somebody help me!” he wails, and the howls from the forest answer with vicious proximity. He thrashes forward and screams again, and as the field of planted heads strips him down piece-by-piece with eager teeth, his only chance is to fight toward the house and hope that when he arrives, there is enough of him left to survive.The door of the house opens and a hooded head looks out from the crack, yellow firelight spilling out onto snow curdled gray in the dusk.“Help me! Please help me!” The man reaches toward his last hope with a desperate clawing motion. A head is attached to his wrist, blood dripping from its chin as its jaw muscles ripple. The figure ducks back inside and the crawling man howls and kicks two heads free, collecting more from the effort to shed them. The figure runs from the house with a rope over his shoulder and the crawling man wails, his chin dipping below the snow as the heads pull him under.
“Hurry! Grab the rope!” The rope lands too far. The figure hauls it back and throws again and it reaches the crawling man and he loops it around his arm and nearly tears his throat screaming, “Pull!” The man is tugged free of the hellish, biting field, and once in safety he collapses at the figure’s feet to thank him. The figure pats him on the back of his head, and in a gentle voice says, “It’s going to be alright, everything is going to be alright.” The figure pats the man affectionately until the moment he brings the ax down in a practiced, cleaving motion. There is no suffering. The head, not yet comprehending, begs to be taken inside, but the figure ignores it, collects his rope and ax, and flees back into the house as the sun brushes the treetops in the west. ... Dawn. The solitary head snaps its jaws of its own accord, and the figure rolls it face-down with his boot. He picks it up by the hair then walks to the edge of his field, digs a hole, and nestles the skull into the hole, jaws snapping up at the sky. “I’m sorry. I wish it could have been another way,” he says, covering the head with snow before rising to his feet and retreating back into his house.
Scare Tactics COREY TURNER
listen to me I am healthy I have found the secret food the fountain of youth the beauty routine to seem ageless don’t you want to be ageless? I am tired worn down and sick I love you I hate you you energize me you drain me we’re the same we’re nothing alike stop letting them get to you let me get to you I need to drain your life
Best intentions best intentions only good motives words to live by distributed to everyone in the inner circle I hate them but you are special hello love support hugs don’t let them talk to you you have to learn when to end the conversation no google it now read it out loud copy it down until you are ready to learn obey me speak softly and carry a big stick you never learn you have internalized your abuser’s words
Leviathan CORA VANESSA HAVEN
Neon colours, the sound of Screams engraved in my brain. Oh, please, won’t you rest And let me stay sane?
And weren’t they supposed to help, Tying me with chains? But I still see shadows of monsters As the moon wanes.
Do you feel the ghosts? It’s phantom, it’s real pain – It doesn’t really matter When it all feels the same.
All these hours later And the nausea remains. I guess this is what happens When others take the reins.
The aches still linger, Blood still screams against my veins. It seems there’s a lesson in all this About how beasts can’t be tamed.
The Christian Meredith and Christina PREYE T. ADUWARI
We sat down in that screeching train as I crafted a message that would leave me vulnerable for the first time. I was going to tell a boy that I liked him. One thing I thought I would never do. Tee was there. She sat with me, made jokes with me, encouraged me. I ended up with such a poetic text, It would’ve been wasteful not to send it. That night I understood these words: “I knew that together, the two of us could do anything” Because nothing is as scary when you do it together. I knew then that more than anything, that night was about me and her.
I think about the moment I left myself, escaping the abandoned body I called home, hovering above looking in. With each chilling utterance that left the tormentors lips, a memory of light and purity vanished from my neglected mind. Lost in the darkness with no vibrations of autonomy or power. Nothing but a ghost and bloody shards from the picturesque stained-glass portrait of what never was. I soared along beside the whispers of the ghouls denying my entrance to the harmony and tranquility of being, only to find that this very thing was found within my damaged soul. The trees shielded me from their cries as they wrapped me in their branches. â€œYou are alive my child. The banshees teach lessons, they are cruel, but they will never touch you. The universe values us all.â€? My spirit craved for the serenity and compassion of the living, but within my soul was always a necessary piece. Each phantom of the shadows providing energy that the world would lack, apparitions of malevolence and ones of light, filling the universe with a new and intricate cosmic truth. All with a purpose, nothing forgotten in the vibrations of time. So, I thank the forest for telling me: I am. Each molecule of my being is capable of bringing back the light the darkness hid. It was chosen that my time would be sorrowful, that my fading spirit would give the wisdom to find love hidden in my spectral essence.
Speak up, and you shall weep Speak nothing, yet you weep Tears have dried up, but you still weep Deep inside, A broken heart A hidden truth That shall strike fear in hearts When revealed. The Truth Which shall burn this world And jeopardize the mirage called Calm
Have You Heard? DEBORAH
I know what you’re thinking, I know what you heard. It’s in news reports, on TV, It’s on your phone, on the screen. Let’s take a closer look Let’s dive a little deeper, “Who killed themselves today?” Let’s hope this headline’s a keeper. “Who’s running for president?” Where’s the jury? Where’s the judge? “We must stop this nonsense!” We mustn’t get swept by the herd. Who died this time? Was it for a good cause? “Well, go find out” And make sure to applaud.
I know what you’re thinking I know what you might say: “The news has no meaning, They’re just prying into our lives!” But you don’t take into consideration, It’s the news that helps you thrive. When surrounded by commotion, We make your heart at peace. With terrorists going haywire, We’re comfort, at times like these.
Cover up the truth But don’t pretend to hide “We’ll report about that school shooting” Go report it with pride
America the beautiful, Oh Canada. Australia advance, Britain the great, Look at Africa’s state! At China’s despair The Mexicans’ mistakes And Middle East’s corruption “Too many refugees!” At Europe’s disruption While Russia is at ease. I know what you’re thinking, I know what you might be hearing. But the news station, isn’t at all your destination, If all the causes of the world’s problems are simply re-appearing.
Asylum STEPHANIE SILVA
Ghosts walk these halls. Dangerous ones. The kinds that were locked away for ‘wild fantasies’ and ‘unregulated impulses’ back when they were still alive. I hope I see one. When no one is looking I slip through a broken-in window at the back of the building. My flashlight beam illuminates the dusty floors that devour my footsteps, making it wonderfully, deliciously silent. If I’m not careful to avert my eyes, I can see the graffitied words scarred on the inner walls forever: ‘basket case’, ‘mental’, ‘clinically psychotic’.
My stomach churns with excitement and ladybugs when a shadow slips through a doorway across the corridor. I know that I should be afraid, but I am not. It’s only the little blond girl with the bright, brown eyes, and I know her. At night, she counts the faces in her bedroom wallpaper because they seem so much more real than sheep. When the little girl melts into the walls, I continue down the hall toward the grand, old stairwell. The steps have been chewed up and spit out, and I have to be careful to avoid getting splintery wooden kisses. Now I am in a hallway that looks like the one above, except for the padded walls. I catch a glimpse of the ‘paranoid’ ghost as they call her. She looks just like the little blond girl, but is seven years older and much, much wiser. She knows that everyone is out to get her and that her mind isn’t safe from the sneaky manipulations of that boy on the street or the women on the bus, and especially the alien that hides inside the Oval Office. Maybe they were right to supress that scared, scared girl until she was nothing but a ghost; she’s safer in here. I don’t want to return to the stairs and descend those final steps to the basement. I won’t do it. No. My feet unconsciously drag me down. They take me to the cracked old mirror like they always do when I’m not careful. I already know what apparition will appear on the glass before me. The young woman has plain blond hair, and dull brown eyes that match her crisply ironed dress-suit. She can’t be a ghost; she’s much too mundane. I quickly avert my eyes because that woman scares me more than the others. She’s the least real of them all. I try to run back up toward those cozy, padded rooms, but the stairs disintegrate beneath my feet. The sun must be rising. I know that I will have to leave now, but at least I can re-assure myself that these girls are hidden away somewhere safe where only I can see them. No one can scrub them away. No one. Oh how I love to close my eyes and wander these dusty halls when no one is looking! They seem so much more real to me than counting sheep.
Instagram Model KIMBERLY CHUNG
Sitting alone in her room She just posted her picture on Instagram She stares at a photo of herself Waiting to be fed with likes She refreshes the feed 10 likes in one minute A smile creeps on her face She needs more She refreshes the feed 25 likes She makes sure she likes her followers’ photos To make sure they notice her She refreshes the feed 50 likes She remains in the same position for 15 minutes She refreshes the feed 95 likes She feels so beautiful She refreshes the feed 105 likes She refreshes the feed 105 likes She looks at her photo again To make sure there wasn’t an error in filtering it She refreshes the feed 106 likes She puts her phone away and lies back on her bed She didn’t realize the sun had already set and nighttime rose She hears a notification from her phone and quickly picks it up It was a text message from her friend She tosses her phone aside and tries to sleep She is so hungry. 106 isn’t enough for her She feels ugly She wants to delete the photo She wants to delete her account
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