Volume 19, Issue 2, October 2019
The Macabre Issue
CONTENTS VOLUME 19 ISSUE 2 OCTOBER 2019
Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk.
ROBERT BLOCH (1917- 1994)
6 Hide and Seek
4 Night Out
15 Go Down, Moses
8 September 27
9 May You Live and Die as You Chose
HARRISON EDGAR ZHIJUN XU
ANDRE BOURGEOIS PREYE ADUWARI
24 Dance of the Dead CAMILLE DEHGHAN
28 The Empath
30 Volunteer Work RACHEL PANICO
32-33 Rotten Friendship BRENA ALLARD
34-35 I Need Your Help, Go Outside AMICHAI ABRAHAM
37 The Artistry of Dead Bodies RACHEL PANICO
11 exsanguination MAX POND
12-13 Freak Show and collected poems EMMA DAVIS
14 Richard III TYRA FORDE
17 CRAB BISQUE HARRISON EDGAR
20 Un-becoming EMILY BUCCIONI
26 Caught in the Shadows KOURTNEY REICH
38 the unseen part of us. GRACE BILODEAU
ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY 14, 17, 22-23 WEI QI 15, 24 6-7, 12-13, 37 JAMES SILK 10, 16 21, 29 GABRIELLE ANDERSON
8, 34-35, 39 5, 19 27 32, 36
STEPHANIE SILVA SIDNEY MACDONALD DESIREE STREEF DANIELLA OKEZIE
25 33 11 30-31
Front Cover WEI QI
Inside Back ZHIJUN XU
BUKUNMI OYEWOLE ALMAS MUQEEM KOURTNEY REICH LAUREN ITKIN
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Silva firstname.lastname@example.org
Production Manager Camille Dehghan email@example.com
Literary Editor Rachel Panico firstname.lastname@example.org
Art/Photography Manager Kelly Xu email@example.com
Romotions Manager Desiree Streef firstname.lastname@example.org
Events Manager Diane Taylor
Web Editor Arman Aryanpour email@example.com
Interns Isabella Andrade, Alicia Lavigne, Kiara Yllescas, Grace Bilodeau, Emma McVicar
Camille Dehghan, Stephanie Silva, Isabella Andrade, Desiree Streef, Andre Bourgeois, Diane Taylor, Rachel Panico, Alicia Lavigne, Zhijung Xu, Tyra Ford, Emma McVicar, Domenique Barbaro, John McMorran, Harrison Edgar, Grace Bilodeau, Thya Dragon
Brena Allard, Preye Aduwari, Max Pond, Emma Davis, Emily Buccioni, Thya Dragon, Kourtney Reich, Amichai Abraham, Wei Qi, Gabrielle Anderson, Lauren Itkan, James Silk, Almas Muqeem, Daniella Okezie, Bukunmi Oyewole, James Silk
The Macabre Issue I have never felt more like a character in a scary movie than when I visited the Glasgow Necropolis at night. The moon was full in the purple-black sky and fog literally drifted between the oversized mausoleums. The two hundred year old Victorian era cemetery is perched atop of a cliff side and the city lights spread out far below looked like a second set of stars. The statue of an angel missing its head loomed over me as I weaved through the muddy paths. Her eyeless stare set my heart pounding. All of my senses were on high alert. It might be insensitive to say this but I felt extra alive in that land of the dead. Maybe this is why so many of us love watching scary movies or being chased through haunted houses. We experience the electrifying physical responses of fear and yet our brains inevitably remind us that there is nothing to be afraid of. In a world with so many terrifying and very real threats lurking around corners, a significant level of satisfaction comes from experiencing these “frightening” situations in which we are the ones in control. When I walked out of the necropolis - a place meant for never leaving - and re-joined the city lights below, I felt invincible. As you are reading this issue, I hope that the stories make your heart race and the images send shivers down your spine. But remember: if the frights become too much, you can always close the cover for a while and feel invincible. Stephanie Silva Editor-in-Chief
ADMINISTRATION President, Publisher, & Chair Aaron Hagey Executive Director Lakyn Barton HR Manager Maneesha Suresh Finance Manager Randy Moore Advertising Manager Kurtis Rideout Web Manager Sam Nabi Director Alyssa Di Sabatino Community Director Emily Crump, Rosalind Horne, Arshy Mann
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COLOPHON Blueprint is the official student magazine of the Wilfrid Laurier University community.
Witness by Wei Qi Wei Qi is an artist and designer based in Toronto. She recieved her BFA in Drawing and Painting from OCAD University. Wei’s oil paintings explore vulnerability, tension, and the concealment of identity. The focus of her figurative works is on narrative and mood, seeking to be familiar but foreign, eerie yet tender. Her cover image for Blueprint Magazine, titled “Witness”, explores the subtle gestures and movements seen during our interactions with one another.
Founded in 2002, Blueprint is an editorially independent magazine published by Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications, Waterloo, a corporation without share capital. WLUSP is governed by its board of directors. Content appearing in Blueprint bears the copyright expressly of their creator(s) and may not be used without written consent. Blueprint reserves the right to re-publish submissions in print or online. Opinions in Blueprint are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Blueprint’s management, Blueprint, WLUSP, or WLU. Blueprint is created using Macintosh computers running Adobe Creative Suite.
Night Out JOHN MCMORRAN Mr. Woods answered the knock at the door while fighting to adjust the length of his tie. “Oh, Anne it’s you. You’re early.” “Yeah, it’s a beautiful night for a walk,” she replied. “I got here faster than I expected.” Mr. Woods stepped aside and gestured for Anne to enter. The home was tastefully adorned. In the background were voices from the television, while upstairs was alive with the clicks of Mrs. Woods’ high-heeled shoes. Anne stopped to remove her own footwear, and Mr. Woods’ found himself unable to refrain; “Anne what happened to those? Did you trudge through a swamp?” Anne looked down at her shoes and shrugged. “I helped my Dad this weekend. With all the rain lately, the backyard was a mud pit.” She gestured to her runners as testament to this truth, then stepped from the foyer toward the living room. “Oh, Anne you won’t find Lucy down here. Mrs. Woods already put her to bed. The way she’s been sleeping lately, you can count on just watching tv and having an easy night.” “That sounds nice,” Anne said. She chose a place on the couch and settled down, out of view from where Mr. Woods still stood adjusting his tie, using the parlour mirror to do so. “Of course, call if there’s an emergency. Numbers are beside the phone in the dining room, Mrs. Woods wrote them out.” “Wrote what out?” Mrs. Woods asked as she descended the stairs. Mr. Woods took her hand in his and lifted it to his mouth to kiss it. “You look stunning.” “Thank you, darling.” “I was just informing Anne of where the numbers are and that Lucy is asleep.” “Yes, I put her down already and she’s out cold. It will probably make for an easy night.”
“I said that, too.” Mr. and Mrs. Woods laughed at this together, said their goodbyes to Anne, and then exited their home. ... Mr. and Mrs. Woods socialized amongst their friends with pre-dinner cocktails but upon beginning his second drink, Mr. Woods’ was interrupted by Daniel grasping his arm. “Young girl on the phone says her name is Anne and that she needs to talk to you. Urgently.” Mr. Woods set his martini on a coaster and left the gathering to use the phone in the kitchen. “Hello? Anne? This is Mr. Woods, hello?” “Mr. Woods, I’ve been trying to reach you!” “For what? Is Lucy alright? What’s the matter?” “I’ve been calling you for half an hour. My dad got in an accident driving me over to your house. I’m alright but he’s at the hospital. We’re at the hospital. I’m there with him now.” “Where’s Lucy?” “I don’t know, Mr. Woods. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I can’t make it tonight. I started calling your house half an hour ago to tell you but you never picked up. I tried the dinner party thinking maybe you headed there early.” “Anne, is this a joke?” “What?” “You were at my house. I saw you kick your filthy sneakers onto the boot rack, the black and yellow runners, the ones you ruined helping your father this weekend.” “Mr. Woods, I haven’t been to your house tonight - not since the last time I babysat Lucy, and I haven’t seen those sneakers in months. I threw them away a long time ago.” Mr. Woods felt cold. Very cold. He hung up the phone and turned to exit the room but Mrs. Woods was standing in the kitchen doorway. “Cameron,” she asked. “What’s the matter? Who was that on the phone?”
Hide and Seek DOMENIQUE BARBARO
What if I told you I live in your mind Wrapped tight in the nightmares You desperately hide
What if I told you I know all your lies The tricks that you play The plans you devise
What if I told you I know your whole act Your gestures and smiles Are a code I have cracked
What if I told you I creep in the dark Latch on to your secrets And rip them apart
What if I told you I watch what you do Am I right in plain sight? Or am I right behind you?
September 27th ANDRE BOURGEOIS By fire, sleet, and candlelight On that night in late September A pounding heart And steel on stones Is all I can remember The moon was gone On that night in late September Too scared to see what Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d become In that early autumn weather I slowly laid you down On that night in late September As the clock struck 12 I thought how nice it would be If shallow graves Would dig themselves
May You Live and Die as You Choose PREYE T. ADUWARI Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a certain kind of death that worries me the kind that happens when a person misses their dream simply because they didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t chase it Or when they lose an indelible love due to a funny thing like pride or when their marriage becomes astonishingly void of affection and common human decency Or when they sit on the floor of a lovely hotel room unable to shake the feeling that this loneliness will be their undoing the kind of death that probably happens to those who have the misfortune of marrying a man like their father Or those who damage their children and leave the cycle of abuse to repeat itself because they would rather choke to death than swallow pride Or when they realize that they have become their parent the one who didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do right by them; or when they settle into a cold life because of the very things they chose This kind of death never consumes all at once but it cuts, and it reminds every single day It hollows out the soul in a special kind of way And whilst we must all die eventually I hope this continued kind of death does not find you not unless you deserve it so, choose wisely in all things and may you live and die, exactly as you choose
exsanguination MAX POND twisted creatures slinking slithering through the gloom gnarled bodies groping, searching with foul fingers so
for the suppleness of flesh easily slashed torn sliced and peeled
for the sweet taste of sanguine pulsing so hot through arteries and veins gushing, spurting, dripping, as it dra in s into ravenous gullets, dribbling from fiendish chins, spilling d o w n soaking into mud coalescing in puddles congealing into clots leaving
once pink cheeks so pallid - blue and sunken
the glory of life extracted, devoured with such gusto, such fervour, such glee.
EMMA DAVIS Dawn and dusk made everyone a freak Sun stretched shadows hardly looked human Could have sworn their limbs were made of taffy Hung to dry sleeves like giraffe limbs too long For their bodies would taste like string cheese They run from their shadows but can never get away Running from themselves and the freak they are Looking out for things more gruesome and peculiar Than themselves Voyeurism was created to sooth their nerves Placebo effect of liquid cough syrup And the ringmaster made his debut freak show Showing off all his oddities like a card collection Each one was a special edition to be ogled at Come one, come all, witness the sideshow The people who made any insecure teen feel pretty Biological deformities belonged on misfit island With the rest of the broken toys Could perform in a big top circus tent Where every act is executed perfectly And people pay to witness the misery The contortionist with an elephant trunk Bends her body at such impossible angles Moving to the rhythm of the ivory piano Sounded like her husband’s voice humming Her body bent like rain in the wind Until she was only a lake
Peculiar women had been learning to juggle before ten Shakespeare’s theatre masks of comedy and tragedy The amphibian girls perfected their juggling act Of those places they lived but never called home So delicate, dropping their juggling pins would break them They would bleed red and bleed blue only to bathe in purple But sometimes they grew tired of juggling Could only toss up one pin and pray they’ll catch it Ignoring the audience calling them overdramatic One of the main attractions was the tightrope The only way freaks maintained their balance while on the wire Was to take it step by step, but some of them fell Women with wings who never got the chance to fly Women with beaks who only learned to cry Never learned how to center themselves, came crashing down You’d think birds and butterflies were freed by wings But even they are forced to land sometimes On the ground where no one is safe
And these women made perfectly experienced actresses Learning to bare their teeth and stretch their faces into a smile To make their depression disappear like a magic act Hiding stingers under skirts to avoid probing questions Could swear on their lives they were happy But they never cried drops of sunlight on sherbet cheeks Only tears made of tar, could only see in shades of grey But they put on a good show, made people laugh and took a bow Those jesters could fool even a King
The Woman with the Elephant Trunk The sun was a restless child Could never stay still Swung across the sky like a pendulum Each night the gongs of time cried The woman with the elephant trunk Sang along, voice raw as poached flesh Semibreve note falling from her mouth Body made of brass tubing Could feel the vibrations ten feet away The ground quaked in empathy Seemed only nature knew her sorrow Willow trees like widows folded over Body bent like a contortionist Her anguish a visual spectacle Picasso painting dripped red oil Blood leaked down her cheeks Carved out the red sea Her broken heart emptied of life Her body emptied of everything Lying in the elephant’s tomb
The Woman with a Salamander Tail The sun hung in the sky like a fishing bobber Gently skimming the horizon suspended As if holding its breath floating drifting The woman cut off her salamander tail Splashing the sunset onto the bathroom walls Crimson Scarlet Ruby Blush It was a pity really that the woman Had to cut off her tail for her Mental well being Crimson leaked into the cracks of the Flower wallpaper glued to her back Stretched taught her skin too tight for her bones Too tight for her heart it burst bled blue The bathroom walls were coated in impasto paint Could bathe in purple felt like a bruise Tasted like rotting fruit and she swallowed Letting the poison drip down the back of her throat Felt like the brown mush of a soft apple The memory foam of decay cradling her Broken body losing limbs for fear Of the predator in her own head
The Woman with the Dragon Snout the moment between the volcano and the moon when the sky was empty and dark blue the colour behind closed eyes and solitude when sleep falls gently as ash the woman with the dragon’s snout much confused for an alligator or crocodile in shape but hers grew hot as coal could cook her food while she chewed it grew restless as sleepless dreams poured out of her ears into adolescent blues an ocean of dried desert sand spinning in an ever-rotating hour glass time slipping between fingers made of bone topaz her body made of china the country her mother was born to who cooked apple pie the smell still made her cry even sleeping bodies weep her tears boiling sizzling popping against the heat of her snout each breath crackling hiccups made of sparks a lighter failing to start before flames grew wings a plover bird crawling from her mouth a car jack fire bird slipping between teeth the flames licked curtains like a dog to its master smoke embracing the woman with a dragon’s snout comforting her baked fruit body until she woke to the fire alarm on her night stand screaming and brushed away her sugar tears
Richard III TYRA FORDE
“bottled spider” hunched over no hand battle of Bosworth Queen Margaret’s prophecy
“hunchbacked toad” a king overthrown to hold desperate ruler Leicester parking lot legacy
Go Down, Moses HARRISON EDGAR
I was riding my horse, Jan, one fine June afternoon, the breeze coming down the lane toward me, helping keep the sweat away. Travel at this time of year could be so nice but sadly I was on my way to visit my sickened mother in Athens. It felt good to be a Georgian on that day. Go down, Moses Way down in Egypt land Tell all pharaoes to Let my people go! A song sung so sweetly came wafting over to my ears. Heavenly perhaps but at the very least harmonious and pleasant to the senses. Upon my left there was a plantation, one vivid with color and expansive in size. As I reckon, I had been riding alongside its simple wooden enclosure for a good five minutes. I took a pause, and thought it must be some Bible group up at the indistinct spot of wooden housing beyond the trees that lined a curving avenue. Being a man of fervor myself, I decided to investigate and I rode myself up along this wooded lane. When Israel was in Egypt land Let my people go! Oppress’d so hard they could not stand Let my people go! The track was wide, suitable for a carriage and perhaps even two, and soon around a bend I found it. An older-style plantation house, grand and painted white with dark green tints to the windows, doorways and roof. None sat upon the porch, none peered out from the white curtained windows, and in fact the song came from behind the house. I spurred on Jan and headed to the rear. So, the God said: go down, Moses Way down in Egypt land Tell all pharaoes to Let my people go!
Their tune rattled hollow now, like wind through broken chimes. They fell, one by one, their voices dying as I fled back the way I came. The flowered and full fields that surrounded that great house were now dead, charred things. The house itself was wilting as Jan galloped past, wrinkling as white paint crumbled at the edges, and window panes crumbled away like they had been submerged in the sea for a thousand years. I left it behind me as I spurred my steed forward, only to gasp in horror. The trees before me, once merely an obstacle to the eyes, were now one to a rider. While all their leaves were gone, their roots were growing wild and out into the wide lane. Jan followed my directions well, we avoided their grasping fingers but then, one tree decided to help its fellows. It fell with a thundering crash before us, bark dead and festering to nothing before my eyes, but it was still a mighty thing. I gave the command with a yank and a spur, and then we were up. Jan hadn’t jumped in a few years, yet she did so gracefully, neighing in power and certainty of our escape. She was right to be confident. We thudded back down and I wheeled up to the left, back the way we had come, passing now dead lands, with none of the noise vegetation makes in the late afternoon. I never looked back, but I knew...I knew their hollow eyes watched me leave them. And the wind, while dead and gone, blew to me just three more words... Let us go...
There they were, all bent over, dressed in fine whites as they worked with green, low-lying plants. I had never known colored people to sound so fine. Normally their voices cracked or rumbled in dissonance. They sounded like honey, the towering trees casting shadows and fading sunlight across them. I removed my hat and called out with a smile on my face, “What pleasant singing, and so in tune!” There was a hitch, a pause in beat, and I felt a chill go through me. My comment was genuine. I had never known their kind to sing so well, but I felt like it was unwelcome beyond all understanding. The sun turned to ice and the buffeting wind dropped off. They slowly stood up from their stoop and turned around to face me, and I saw how alike we were. No darkness of the skin, no sun-kissed flesh, just white. Emptiness and white. So, Moses went to Egypt land Let my people go!...
Crab Bisque HARRISON EDGAR The scent crackles my nerves, It sears my mind deeply. I can feel them, see them, hear them scuttle Up and into me.
They come in through my mouth, hundreds, thousands Like the grains of sand they call home. Claws clicking away as they all pour Deep into me. My eyelids scream as they are pried apart And my mouth is frozen round. They enter inside, their bodies brittle hard And it makes me gag. They’re in my mind, my throat, my chest. It’s all awash with the fruit of the sea. They’re the color of cream, of unsettling milk, Of beautiful and fresh flesh. It all goes in, sliding down in a gulf-stream Of unappetizing sensation. I cannot escape it. I cannot get away, I can only get used to it.
JOIN US ON OCTOBER 28TH AT 6PM
MACABRE LAUNCH PARTY LOCATION: WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY VERITAS CAFE 18
Un-becoming EMILY BUCCIONI every night I tear myself apart I pull the skin from the skin and the skin from the bone the bone from the brain that haunts the house where I live and the howls that I hear, groans of the past seeping in through the bricks of my walls weathered by storms. every night I peel my face off in a strip like makeup removed or paint off the walls polish off my nails and the creaks of my bones guide my way through the dark, floorboards of a body walked on and worn. when the ghosts get too loud for my screams to be heard I throw open the shutters, skeletal in the shadows and let the light of the moon and the light of my heart and the bright of my eyes, the windows of the soul, uncovered once more light the way. every night I tear myself apart and in the shreds left behind I find I am not hollow just haunted.
Time is limited. Declining numbers encircled her wrists and neck, counting down every moment of the life she had left. Time was the only thing that stood between her and withered skin and grey hair. She did not want time to turn her into ash, leaving nothing behind. “Lizzie!” Her mother entered her room abruptly. She was still in her thirties, graceful and young. “The guests are arriving. Why are you crying? It’s your tenth birthday! Aren’t you excited?” Lizie’s eyes widened like a hawk. She still had time...
Dance of the Dead CAMILLE DEHGHAN
It’s the dance of the dead. We sleep. We get up and we go back to bed. It’s the dance of the dead. We cry. Then we smile. We dig where we’ll lay down and die in our head. It’s the dance of the dead. We’re done and we’re tired. We can no longer be led. It’s the dance of the dead and we’re dying. Now, we’re dead.
Consumed Thya Dragon
This feeling of dread, I cannot shake As I set foot in this place I’ve never been Trying to hide from what lies in the shadows unseen My soul, body, and my mind they’ll try to take The strange sense of silence slices Through the very core of the field That once was lush and full of life Now barren and full of strife Nothing more shall it yield. The demons that live there follow me Toy with my thoughts and emotions Try to change my perceptions They’ll do their best to deceive The twists and turns That my mind takes In this labyrinth of broken dreams I fall apart at the seams I become what they desire Nothing more to aspire In the end I falter too They knew it all along Too tired to see it through
Caught in the Shadows KOURTNEY REICH
3:14 AM. The trees whisper my name. Whistling in the wind, the breeze feels cool against my skin. They know the secrets that I don’t even tell myself, Wrapping around me like a thick blanket of regret. I’m not proud. How did I end up here? Out of the corner of my eye, I see them move. The ghosts of my past await in the shadows. Waiting for me to slip up, wanting me to give up. My heart beats fast. I turn to run. “Mommy, I’m in trouble” “I don’t want to know” “But –” “Not now” She closes the door. I’m left all alone. The river runs loud. My steps disappear Before I have the chance to make them. Nobody can follow. Nobody will come. I stumble over the rocks. Blood rushes from my head Turning the water an auburn red. It smells of metal. It smells of bitterness. It washes away with the flow. My grief does not leave with it. “Mommy, I’m scared” “You should be” “I need your help” “I’m sorry” She closes the door. I’m left all alone. I wipe the dirt from my hands But I cannot clear the slate that I have made for myself. Darkness wraps around me like a fog coming in on the horizon.
I hear a snap in the distance. Two eyes pierce through the murkiness. They stare at me. They watch me. Its smile turns into a twisted grin. My feet betray me. I am stuck to the soil that it creeps towards me on. It grabs my arm. Their claws wrap around me. I am hypnotized by their teeth. Its grip holds power. I have none. The night sky hears no screams. No whining or whimpers. My lungs constrict as I realize I am bound to the creature before me. My conscience fades. I am losing myself. “Daddy, please hold my hand” “You have to be braver” “I don’t know how” “Then you won’t survive in this world” He pushes me out the door.
But maybe I’m not all alone.
The Empath ALICIA LAVIGNE I was never sure how I came to find that place, but the moment I pulled into the parking lot of that dilapidated building, a late night drive turned into a nightmare.
With my face almost touching the floor, I saw the bones that had been hiding in the shadows… ribs broken open. But the pain in my chest kept me frozen.
Exhausted and looking for an escape, I was intrigued by the old warehouse. Perhaps what was inside would distract me from the chaos within my own mind. Leaving the car, I felt as if I was pulled by an invisible string towards the door. It was already ajar, inviting me inside. A dark, expansive room lay before me and I was reminded of a slaughterhouse.
“You’re perfect,” she cooed. “So terribly sad. Don’t worry, I’m here for you.”
As the thought crossed my mind, I noticed stains of blood on the floor and pulleys and chains dangling from the ceiling. The room was lit by a single fluorescent bulb in the center and I followed the stream of light down to land my gaze upon a woman, hunched over on a stool. Her dirty gown swallowed her figure and seat, giving her the illusion that she was floating just above the floor. She turned to me slowly, as if lost in thought, and I met her dark, sallow gaze. “Ah, you’ve arrived,” she sighed in relief.
“Who are you?” The woman smiled gently, “A gift. I’ve always had this power over others… When I died I was given a special task, to provide release,” she said, gesturing to the floor. Bony hands lifted my face away from the sight to bloody red lips. “They tried to leave me, but they didn’t understand. They will always be with me now, never alone. I need you as you need me. I can save you.” The touch of her frigid hands shocked me to my senses. The feeling that death was so near shook me to my core and I wrenched my face from her talons. I knew I had to escape. I knew I didn’t want to die.
She blinked and in horror I realized her sockets were empty, As if reading my mind, the beast’s face fell, her tone now low only a void where eyes once were. All I could manage was a and harsh. “No, don’t leave me.” small whisper, “Why am I here?” Shaking my head, I turned and ran to the open door. “Because I’m lonely,” she whispered back. “I knew you “NO!” would come. You’re lonely, too.” As she spoke, I had slowly drifted closer, lured by her aura. She raised blood stained palms to reach for me, to hold me, and I so desperately wanted to give in. A weight in my chest had begun to grow and suddenly a wrenching feeling of grief and pity brought me to the floor as if iron chains, like the ones hanging above me, had been draped over my heart.
Her desperate lamentations and screams echoed through my being as I ran faster, finally reaching that once inviting door, the cold night air hitting my face like a wall. I was never sure how I came to find myself between life and death, but I hope I never find myself there again.
VOLUNTEER WORK RACHEL PANICO
I fingered a syringe with a long thin needle that shined in the fluorescent light of the dull room. I wasn’t sure where the pills were. It was only my first week here. A thick figure with tattoos and muted blue scrubs stepped in behind me. “Rookie, we need you in the children’s area,” she said. “Mrs. Violet wants to take her meds with her tea,” I said. “I’ll handle it.” She closed the door behind us and stalked down the hall. I went in the opposite direction. The kids’ boutique was a sad prison with a fake smile on its face. The dress up room was filled with dusty pink dresses and vomit green trousers. In the dull room, everything looked like it had a history. Babies cried and mothers shushed. A father walked by with his bald seven-year-old and put a Peter Pan cap on his head. The red feather flapped over his eyes. A little girl tried to run a pirate sword through her brother but ended up collapsed over in a coughing fit. Adults and children alike were wearing red clown noses, the same tired smiles, deep purple creases under their eyes. When I was leaving that day, I saw three boys in the parking garage. They could have been brothers. They were all dirty and dressed in dark grey sweatpants and torn white shirts. One looked about seventeen, the other about ten, and the eldest was holding a little boy about six. They were tired and frail. Something was wrong with the youngest. He wasn’t moving. The oldest kept shaking him but his little eyes stayed closed. They kept walking closer, then they would stop to check on him and rest for a bit. By the time I saw them, they were almost there. He died five feet from the hospital gates.
Rotten Friendship BRENA DOUGHTY I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know that Miss Crowley has hated me since the day she first saw me. As Miss Crowley rambles about gravity or something, I lean across my desk and elbow my friend, Billy. “Last night, I got a possum in my trap. Its brains were splattered everywhere! I pulled it from the trap and wrapped its tail around my arm and it hung there. I called Mom over to show her and she practically threw up.”
“Young man, you will not talk to me like that.” “Don’t give me a reason to.” “You, sir, are going straight to the office.” I stare at her blankly. She’s never done this before. Miss Crowley jabs her talon toward the door. “Let’s go.” I slowly stand up and look toward my friends. Tommy has his head buried in his arms and Billy is just staring.
“You’re so gross, Denny.”
“Alright, I’ll go.”
“You’ve killed animals before.”
I walk away from my desk and lay a hand on the doorknob. Before leaving, I look Miss Crowley right in the eye. “When you treat people like shit, you’ll end up getting treated like shit, Miss Crowley.”
“Yeah, but I don’t play with them like you do.” I grin at Billy. “It’s not like I put a dress on it and had tea. I just used it like a nice little ornament and hung it off my arm. Think I could get two small mice and make earrings out of them?”
I walk out of the classroom, not waiting for a response. Maybe now that old buzzard will stop pecking my back. A corner-turn away from the office, I stop walking. “Piss on her,” I say. I’ll hide out in the basement for a few hours then grab my bag at lunchtime and boogie on home, I think. Nodding, I head for the stairwell. Half way down the stairs, I run into the janitor.
“You’re messed up.” I shrug. “At least I’m not stuffing the thing and sleeping with it.” “I wouldn’t put it past you if you did.” “Guys, what’s going on?” Tommy asks. “Eh, pipe down would ya, Tommy?” I snap. “The ol’ crow will hear you and you’ll get us in shit.” “What are you boys doing back there?” Miss Crowley glares at us, whacking one end of a meter stick into her palm. “Why don’t you tell the rest of the class what you’ve got to say?”
Chicken shit. Billy sinks into his seat next to me and I do what all kids do at a moment like this: “I was asking if they could fill me in while I go to the bathroom, Miss Crowley.” I cross my fingers and toes, hoping she buys it. But Miss Crowley will never give me a break. She snatches at any chance of glory and right now she wants me in those longfingered talons of hers. “No, you may not go to the bathroom. You have no reason to be talking now, so pay attention.” “But I have to go, Miss Crowley.” “I said no, Denis.” “What am I supposed to do? Piss on the floor?” Miss Crowley looks at me in shock. I’m not going to back down from her shit today, no siree. I’ll gladly take a beating if it means publicly proving that I won’t abide by her cruelness anymore.
“Hey there little guy, where ya off to?” “Outside.” “But this is the basement.” “I want a basketball to play with at lunch. They keep the equipment down here.” “Oh, sorry, I’m new to the school, just transferred from the neighbouring district.” Watching the janitor continue up the steps, I notice something bulging in his back pocket. It looks like a filthy dusting tool. “What do you have in your pocket?” “Oh, that ain’t nothing but a dead squirrel.” “Aren’t you gonna throw it away?” The janitor smiles at me slowly. “It’s my good luck charm.” I slowly continue down the stairs. When I come to the basement door, it says, “Keep out.” I push it open. It’s real dark. I can’t find the light switch. I stumble down a dark hallway until I come to a door and push it open. On the other side is the janitor’s lunchroom. There’s a table ISABELLA ANDRADE
and a small kitchen.
“What on earth is going on?”
I sit down at the table and look at the old flyers piled on top. That’s when I hear it - the low humming sound of the radio playing.
I stop moving my hips and turn down the volume.
I get up and follow the hum to where it’s strongest, at the east end of the room. Pressing my ear on the wall, I can hear the music a little more clearly. It’s rock and roll. I can’t find a door. I look behind the only painting hanging on the wall, then shove aside a heavy, old filing cabinet. There’s a small door behind it. When I turn the handle, a gut-wrenching smell comes whooshing out. It smells like someone bottled up their farts in a jar for years and let them loose. Pulling my shirt over my nose, I pull the door the rest of the way open and step inside. My hand drops.
Turning around, I see none other than that miserable ol’ bird coming to ruin my fun. Again. This woman is an actual buzzard.
“What-- what is this?”
“Bunch of rotten friends you are, not warning me of trouble.” “Who are these—people? How did they get here?” She shrieks. Her eyes are wide. She hops from side to side, looking and pointing at the decayed bodies.
Sitting before me are four black, rotten, stinking corpses holding She stops. playing cards in their hands and looking down at piles of chips Quivering, she whimpers and falls to the ground. on the table in front of them. Behind her is the janitor with a hammer in his hand and a look “Holy shit…” of satisfaction on his face. “She can be the one who watches for cheating.” I take a step further into the room. It’s a mirror image of the janitor’s lunchroom, except for the dead people playing poker of course. The person at the head of the table has a green visor on and the one next to it has a cigar hanging from its mouth. The other two are sporting a red boa and a set of ugly old jewellery. I can’t help but think about the person who put in the time to dress these people up and stage this messed up poker game. “Well sir, I would say no smoking because it will give your friends cancer but don’t worry about it ‘cause they’re all dead!” I chuckle. I pull up a chair beside the person with the boa and lean over to look at their cards. They have a good hand; a full house. “I’m going to call you, Molly.” “Well Molly, it looks like you’re buying my dinner tonight.” I run over to the person with the all the jewellery. “Whatcha got here, Sport?” I lean over to look at their hand. They have a pair. “Not bad sir, but not good enough to beat my Molly.” I give her a wink then cringe. I shouldn’t be winking at dead people. I run over to the smoker. “How about you, Lungs? You hung or what?” Leaning over, I look at his cards and see a crap hand. “Well, that just ain’t gonna do, Lungs. You’ll have to fold and let Sport and Molly play it out. How about some more chips, eh?” I start to dance with the music, tossing chips here and there.
I dance over to the radio and turn up the volume. “Hey guys, wanna do me a favour and keep an eye out? We don’t wanna get busted do we –”
I Need Your Help, Go Outside AMICHAI ABRAHAM
Gunshot. Noel wakes, frightened. It was just a dream, Noel thinks to himself. Just a dream. His phone rings. “Hello?” “I need your help, go outside,” an intense voice says. “You guys sure start early these days,” says Noel, annoyed. “Noel, this is serious. I need you to listen…” “How do you know my name?” “Stop talking and hurry.” “Why don’t you just call the police if you have such a big problem?” “We tried reaching them. It won’t work.” “I’m hanging up.” “No! Noel,” says the voice. “I can prove it, I can prove it. I can prove that I know you and that helping me would be helping both of us.” Noel begins thinking to himself whether to let the obvious scammer continue or not. I’m not getting back to sleep anyway. Might as well let this clown entertain me. “Go for it champ!” he says, mocking the caller. The man begins talking very quickly. “You played baseball with your buddies last night and you got hit by the ball, you told everyone you were fine but really you went into the bathroom and cried, it reminded you of that time in third grade when you-” “What’s your name?” It’s probably one of the guys from his squad pulling a fast one on him. Weird he knows all the details though, Noel internally admits. “Call me… Leon, I guess.” The man hesitates. “If I told you my real name you’d just hang up the phone.” “Why-” “There is no time! We’re being hunted and only you can save both of us.” Noel begins thinking about how this must be a prank call, how dumb he’s going to look when his buddies come outside and laugh at him. I mean, this must be a joke, right? There’s something though, something telling him to listen to the voice. “I don’t believe you,” he says. “Screw what you believe. We’re running out of time. Just get out of bed and go downstairs!” Noel trusts his gut. If this is a joke there’s no real harm anyway. Noel takes the stairs, two at a time.
“Now pick up that metal bat up against the wall.” It’s there from the baseball game he played last night. He hit a double. “How did you know it was--” “Stop asking questions!” The voice sounds like a combination of angry and confused. Somehow, he’s now sure that this isn’t some scam or prank call. For some reason, the man on the line feels like someone he knows, someone he can trust. Noel remains silent. “Go outside.” The voice demands. “But Leon, it’s like two degrees out there, not even including the snow.” “I know this is confusing but it is essential that you go outside immediately.” Noel decides to brave the cold. He’s not wearing any mittens, boots or even socks. The snow is thick. He’s a frozen corpse. “Come over to the shed. Come very quickly.” Noel obeys. He thinks about Leon. There’s something weird about that name. Is it the way it sounds? No. Maybe the way it’s pronounced? Probably not. Just as Noel is about to consider the spelling, the man on the other end begins to freak out. “He’s here! Noel, he’s here! Come! Come quickly!” Noel looks at where the shed usually is but he can’t see it. It’s snowing too hard. “You’re in the shed?” There’s no response. Only a bang. Gunshot. Noel runs over quickly. He finds the door is already open. Stepping inside he sees the shot man on the ground. His clothes are familiar. So is his skin, his feet, his face. It’s Noel. Stunned, Noel drops his metal bat. It clanks as it hits about a dozen other metal bats that had been previously dropped in the same place. Noel, the one that isn’t shot, looks around the shed. There are as many lifeless bodies as there are metal bats. All of them are also versions of Noel. All of them are dead. None of them are wearing mittens, boots, or even socks. “Make the call before he comes back,” the dying Noel sputters. Noel is frozen. It’s not because of the cold. “Make the fucking call!” the dying Noel shouts as blood dribbles out of his mouth. The original Noel takes his phone to a corner of the shed and calls himself. As he’s examining the carnage, one of the dead versions of himself catches his eye. It’s decomposing, looks like it has been for several months. Next to it is another body. This one is just a pile of clothes and bones. Suddenly there’s an answer on the other end of the line. “Hello?” “I need your help, go outside.”
The Artistry of Dead Bodies
The apothecary walks into his office. Ah, the purple hue of a face that has been hung. How it matches perfectly with the grey pupils of those who had their eyes taken out. A luscious pink tongue sits so delicately upon the black obsidian of fallen frostbite fingers. Green veins hang like streamers from the ceiling, framing the burnt orange flesh of those maimed by fire. Yellow bile swims in jars upon the shelves of the sick. The bloated blue face of a drowned man contrasts with the brown soil that spills out of the mouth of the woman who was buried alive. They lie next to each other on a table, holding hands with a pale white child, frozen to death and stabbed a hundred times with a red-hot knife.
The apothecary loves his job.
The Escape Issue
Submissions due... January 6th 2020
the unseen part of us. GRACE BILODEAU
the masks of clay covering our faces, hiding our broken smiles, concealing our misery; slowly being chipped away crack by crack. the haunting of past ghosts, past lovers, debut in our dreams; creeping in from dark corners and surrounding us until we are no longer safe. at this celebration of a matrimony, we twirl and we dance in and out of love. the touch of a stranger, surging raw emotion through our bodies, with the construction of thoughts, tugging us further apart. our throats sting from the exploitation of our voices, as warm liquid trails down our cheeks. after a long night, our breath stinks with rum.
a bit of oil, fuses with a lit match a representation of every discussion, our relationship as an entirety. numbness, like a drug, slowly injected into our spines, travelling into our hearts; into our souls. a connection that should never have been, transitioning into a process; love, lust, infatuation, alienation. the glass on the rusty, silver frames dust-covered, an inescapable reality from an accumulation of broken promises and nights spent alone. walking on the creaking wood, in the hallway of a house up for sale after one too many missed payments, and a failing marriage, a conundrum was replaced by a clarity of sorts.