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Fall 2012 A Haunted Waters Press Publication.


Copyright © 2012 HAUNTED WATERS PRESS. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this periodical may be reproduced or used in any form; printed, electronic or mechanical, without the express permission of the publisher. The only exceptions are by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review, and to the contributing author to whom all rights to individual works revert back to the author ninety days following publication. From the Depths is a quarterly publication of Haunted Waters Press. Cover design by Susan Warren Utley © 2012. Works contained herein are works of fiction. Characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any actual places, events, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Printed and published in the United States of America. First Printing: September 2012 For more information please visit: http://www.hauntedwaterspress.com Or email us at: editor@hauntedwaterspress.com From the Depths is a quarterly literary journal released in the months of March, June, September, and December in digital format, and periodically in print form. All submissions should be sent through our online submission manager. Please visit the Haunted Waters Press website to review our submission guidelines. This publication is made possible through the hard work and determination of the contributing editorial staff who gave their time so generously. Funding and support for Haunted Waters Press provided by The Man. Thank you for encouraging us to follow our dreams.

Horror Dark & Dreadful


From the Depths FALL 2012

EDITORS ‘

FEATURES EDITOR ‘

ART & LAYOUT

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR PENNY FICTION EDITOR Support Staff


contents

Letter from the Editors! Author Interview! Penny Fiction! Contributor Pages! HWP Open Calls! Credits & Permissions!

6 19 42 60 63 64

13 Tales Dark & Dreadful Feeding Time by Lilith Michael 8 Come Again to the Bubble by Michael Sidman

12

A Knock of Chance by Toni Morrow Wyatt

20

Revenant by Rebekah Postupak

22

Feel by Craig Scott

22

Just Like Her Mother by Laura Huntley

13 Pennies

24

Of Loss & Zombies by Fletcher Young

26

Lula Moss by Rebecca Rose Moody

4

Angel Zapata Annemarie Allan Jason Matthews David R. Matteri Jenny Twist Jessica Hoard Joseph J. Patchen Margaret Elysia Garcia Merideth Grue Nate Worrell Richard Fuller Shauna Klein Tina Wayland

34

Poor Ellie by Penelope Everett

36

The Broad Cloak of Night by Chad W. Lutz

38

The Edge of Reason by Michael Ducak

44

Skin of the Duppy by Grier Jewell

51

Why You Should Not Summon a Demon in an Attempt to be Published in a Literary Magazine by Gwendolyn Edward

52


13 Poems GRIM & GHASTLY Six Stones by S.D. Wilson

10

There IS Something Under the Bed by S.D. Wilson

10

Coffin by S.D. Wilson

11

Serving Suggestion by Cathy Bryant

3`1

Nothing by James L. Jones

32

Spooked by Mary Bast

32

Power Outage on a Country Lane by Robert E. Petras 35 The Scarecrow by Kelly Michels

41

The Ballad of Ida Mae by Laura Huntley

49

Within Shadows of Cypress Trees by Hillary Lyon

50

Water by Robert E. Petras

50

Coven by Anne Britting Oleson

57

Look Bro, No Hands! by Brendan Verville

58

13 Pennies more Danielle LaPorta Jason Matthews B.G. Hilton James Ebersole Tucker Lee Janel Gradowski Kirby Light Lars R. Trodson Merideth Grue Michelle DePaepe Lucy Pireel Tara Hall Tucker Lee 5


s r o t i d E e h From t

s window e h t e r Secur he doo t k c o L bed r the e d n u e Check be sur o t t s Ju lanket b a b a Gr close ul Pull it dreadf e h t r in fo ss You’re and gro y r a c S s e page h t p i l F k ing bac n r u t No e care ck Do tak you la e g a r cou If it’s ber… Remem ed conjur e r e w ons ld No dem ere so w s l u s… No so storie y l n o e d They’r ’re tol e w o Or s g e wron r ’ e w se But if the ca e b d l cou handy e r Which a s bullet Silver d mace n a c i l gar So is re you he e v a e l We’ll doubt o n e v But ha lost… t e g u d yo Shoul ay out w o n s There’

a n n a v Sa

n a s u h&S

6


by

Janel Gradowsk i 7


Feeding Time by Lilith Michael

I

8

This kid never stops snoring... I wish I lived under someone else's bed. ! ! ! Tucker Lee


The new babysitter sat in the chair next to Jimmy's bed and smiled. "Ready for your bedtime story?� "Yes." Jimmy stared at her, holding the covers up to his nose. She turned toward the nightstand and frowned. "Where's the book?" "Under the bed," Jimmy whispered. "What's it doing there?" Annoyed, she got on her hands and knees, lifted the dust ruffle, and gasped. Jimmy closed his eyes, ignoring the scraping of claws and muffled screams from under the bed. When the noises stopped, he turned off the light and went to sleep. The beast would be content for another week.

9


poetry by

S.D. WI L SON

SIX STONES Their specters rise As daylight fades. They can’t abide a sunny day. ’Neath starry skies And moonlight rays They come to me to ease my way.

THERE IS SOMETHING UNDER THE BED

Six stones have I, They line the lawn. My parents, brothers, sisters gone. And though I cry And feel forlorn, They visit me from dusk till dawn.

Forget the things your parents said, There IS something under the bed.

I watch them drift About my rooms, Illuminating through the gloom. My spirits lift But all too soon, Alone again, my earthly tomb. I long to touch My mother’s face And feel my father’s warm embrace. They pain me much These ghosts I chase, Where hope had dwelled, now empty space.

Its teeth are knives, its eyes blood-red, Sharp claws that itch to tear and shred. It’s been so long since it’s been fed. It doesn’t want roast beef; instead, The gushy stuff inside your head Will make a lovely bagel spread. Forget the things your parents said. You think you’re safe? You’ve been misled. And some night soon, while filled with dread That something down there wants you dead, You’ll hunger for your parents’ bed,

Six stones have I, They line the lawn. My parents, brothers, sisters gone. I do not cry, I do not mourn. I’ll join them truly ’fore the morn.

10

Hot streaks on cheeks from tears you’ve shed. But by the time you wish you’d fled You’ll hear its sluggish, squelching tread. Your doom’s the only thing ahead. There IS something under the bed.


The jester capered merrily amidst the dying. Poison was sweet. Revenge was sweeter.

Tara Hall

COFFIN Fresh lumbered pine, buffed, varnished, And shined to the smooth, polished stillness Of an early-morning pond Hard, shiny, and everlasting as diamonds Sturdy silver hinges that never squeak from use A soft, plush bed, with pillows for the head Of the eternal dreamer Satin to soothe the skin that refuses to feel A time capsule to remain sealed and buried, To be nestled in graveyard silt for all time, Protecting the dreamer’s infinite slumber

11


ComE to the BuBBLE

Again

by Michael S idman

12


S

ome stories you choose to believe and some you laugh off. Like the first report out of China, the blackand-white surveillance video that captured the man sitting on a busy sidewalk nibbling away at his infant daughter’s legs as she screamed and cried. For two hours people just walked by pretending to see nothing, and only after he’d eaten both legs entirely to the bone did a police car show up. You remember how casually the two policemen sauntered up to the cannibal, like it was nothing. Most of the people you knew in New York laughed about it. It was so, well, China. Weren’t they eating their daughters on a regular basis back when Mao ran things? To you and your friends, you and your coworkers, it was a strange story but not all that unbelievable. There are just too many of them, your cubicle-mate said. They don’t have enough food or money so, you know, desperate times and desperate measures. But then again, you laughed about it because it was the only way to process something so horrific. The brain’s way of coping. You even laughed that time you went to Auschwitz. Don’t forget that. It wasn’t funny. Of course it wasn’t funny, but you laughed because what else could you have done? And you chuckled again watching this baby girl get her bottom half eaten, because everyone chuckled when they watched it, usually wide-eyed with one hand over their mouths. Then it happened again just a week later, this time in Austria. A teenage girl sitting in class got up and sucked out her history teacher’s eyes before eating his entire neck and throat, until his head just rolled away. Her classmates just watched and screamed. If anything, they ran away. The police said they shot the girl fifteen times and she didn’t die. No one believed that. You tried not to. Russia too. Or was it Ukraine? You can’t remember, not that it matters. The police responded to a domestic disturbance called in by a neighbor. Only it wasn’t a disturbance at all. The husband and wife were quite happily dining on the intestines of their dinner guests. They didn’t want to stop doing it either. One of the policemen killed himself a few days later. Was it really so traumatic to witness that he couldn’t go on living? That, you couldn’t believe. And you weren’t alone. No one could believe most of it. Some of the stories coming from the East just sounded silly. Like the Indian village that fled en masse after a ninety-year-old woman with her abdomen torn wide open started attacking people. They said it was a curse. You thought they were

superstitious fools. If they had door locks, proper medicine, and a police force, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. Even the rest of India didn’t believe them. Villagers told tall tales and always had. And since nothing was documented, you and the people you knew just couldn’t be bothered to care. Then there was the case of Gibraltar. Some African migrants had been acting violent, so Spain closed its borders. Thousands of Africans were stranded on Gibraltar. Videos showed them crying and pleading in a language no one bothered to translate. Violence was an epidemic, but nothing was described in detail. They were poor and they were African, so you didn’t think twice. You’d seen the plight of refugees. It was always a human tragedy. Just add this one to the list. When cannibalism was mentioned, it didn’t seem all that improbable to you.

Of course it wasn’t funny, but you laughed because what else could you have done? Stories kept coming, but more frequently. Cannibalism was the word du jour, and with websites like whowouldyoueat.com and doitastegood.com and the inevitable coffee table book, How to Serve Man, there was something new, exciting, and altogether entertaining about the phenomenon. You and your friends laughed about it because it was far away, and what else were you going to do? This happens all the time, your friend said. There have always been cannibals, cannibals worse than these. The only difference now was that people were interested. Your friend said the media knew what a sensation the China video had been, so they were capitalizing on the temporary fad. But if the media had reported every case of cannibalism around the world all these years, we’d probably hear about it every day, or maybe every week. That was your friend’s theory, and he was smug about it like he knew it for a fact. And with the economy as it was, he said, these things were bound to happen more often. Desperate times and all. The head of PR at your office, the one who was married to an epidemiologist, told you over coffee that she truly believes that the world – or God or Nature or whatever you feel like calling it – has a way of thinning out the human herd. Viruses, plagues, natural disasters, these things all happen for a very good reason. On a certain level you agreed. Viruses and plagues made sense. But people eating each other?

13


Come Again to the Bubble by Michael Sidman 14

Maybe it really was about economics and the politics of food, since most of the stories were coming out of India and China then. People were starving. You’d heard of the Donner Party. Anyway, it isn’t really News with a capital N now. Your parents haven’t even heard about most of these stories or seen any of the footage. It’s mostly on the blogosphere, you tell them. Hmm, they say. Weird. They’ll have to check it out. You know they won’t.

What explains away an unthinkably horrible world better than a horror story? The stories you really don’t believe are the ones coming out now. That across the Eastern Hemisphere officials are finding similarities among all the cannibals. They’re saying something is wrong with them, beyond mentally. That people are getting sick and dying, but then are revived somehow, wandering mindlessly with a hunger for other people. They say these people aren’t technically alive, just reanimated. Bullshit, you think. Israeli doctors are saying that something is passed between cannibal and victim, something that turns the victim into the cannibal, and so on. Bullshit, you think. You were a film student once. You know people thrive on horror stories in turbulent times. Horror films reached their apex in the upheaval of the 70s and had a resurgence during the violence of the post-9/11 years. Now it was happening again, plain and simple. What explains away an unthinkably horrible world better than a horror story? Your generation has a taste for the apocalypse anyway. It seems like everything you watch or read these days is about the end of the world. Art reflects subconscious desires, not life. And life more and more is becoming like performance art. It’s all these horrible things we watch on TV these days, your dad says. Why is everything vampires and zombies? What’s the point? Seems like you all have a collective death wish brewing. You like cooking shows. You’re watching an old British show from the 90s hosted by a big fat woman. She died of lung cancer. You can laugh about it now because maybe she was lucky. A man at a Manchester United game the other day had all the skin eaten off his body. Right in the stadium. He didn’t die. He was unlucky. The fat woman puts three whole little birds called grouses into a pot of boiling water. Let it come again to the bubble, she says. But the screen goes

black and you hear the electric siren of the Emergency Broadcast System. They say it’s not a test, but they always say that, and it’s always a test. You go to take a pee and when you come back there’s a man on the screen and he looks very serious. He’s talking about an epidemic that is sweeping all of the Eastern Hemisphere from New Zealand to Portugal. No one knows what it is, but it seems to be passed from one person to the next, bringing them to the point of death, wiping their minds, and reprogramming them as violent beasts. Cannibals is what they mean. It’s official now. It’s News. So begins your week of staring at the TV and computer screen incessantly. It reminds you of those days after 9/11 when people became addicted to the news, so obsessed with hearing the information and seeing the images over and over again that they forgot to eat or go to the bathroom. Now there are videos from all over the world. Bloody, beat-up looking folks just wandering the streets. Hospitals overflowing and roads full of panicked people trying to go somewhere else, but there is nowhere else. In China they’re saying that the baby girl whose legs were eaten attacked a doctor four hours after she was declared dead. No one knows where she or the doctor have gone. And as for the Africans on Gibraltar, well no one’s going to help them. They say that you can smell the stench from Ibiza. Still, you consider yourself lucky. You live in the Western Hemisphere, and so far the Americas haven’t been affected. You are grateful to be on your island hemisphere, and though there are some protests, as there always are, deep down everyone is pleased that all the governments from Canada all the way down to Chile have agreed to shut down and militarize their borders. No one in or out. This is not good news if you’re a Western tourist on vacation abroad. Citizenship doesn’t mean anything now. If you’re there, you’re potentially one of them. You’re going to stay there. Your friend vacationing in Paris is one of those. He’s not coming back. And you can’t bring yourself to call his family because it’s too hard and what would you say? You feel brave, but you’re more of a coward than ever. You know that as sad as it is, you agree that your friend can’t come back. Everyone is someone’s friend or family member. You stop thinking about your friend. It’s sad, but it is what it is. This is what they mean by necessary evils. Now the WHO is saying they believe this is all caused by some kind of fungus or spore, or maybe they’re one and the same, but you don’t really know,


and it doesn’t matter anyway. The German doctor on TV is talking about some kind of insect that, when it ingests a specialized type of fungus, is slowly killed by it. After the bug is dead, the spores awaken and take control of the bug’s brain, causing it to wander back into its nest to infect all the other bugs. That’s the whole purpose of this fungus. To kill whole populations, nothing more. If it accomplishes this it can die happy. There are other examples in the insect world. A wasp that hosts spores but is unharmed by them. But when the wasp stings a spider, the spores infect its mind and the spider becomes something of a slave to the wasp, building a home for it and more. When the job is done, the spider simply begins to decompose. But these are insects, you think. There are no examples from the animal world. So you remain dubious. Like your friend says, it’s the media. The public demands answers, so the media provides them, even if they’re bullshit. Something’s changed in everyone. Your island hemisphere protects you, but you all feel trapped too. Everyone is talking about the end of the world. It becomes the theme of many a party – everyone wants theirs to be the last one. It’s a joke now, and everyone is laughing about it. Suicides become rampant, and you start to hear stories about people killing their families and then themselves. See, your friend says, it’s a cultural epidemic, not a biological one. The world’s gone a little crazy is all. It’s happened before. We’ve all just read too many novels and seen too many movies and forgotten what fiction is. Just about every conversation you have revolves around people’s plans, if it should come to a point where you need one. Everyone calls it a plan because it sounds organized and coordinated. And everyone uses the term wait it out. We’ll go to our cabin in the Catskills, your coworker says, to wait it out. You nod and say it’s a good idea, even though you think it’s a terrible one. As if the woods a few hours north of the city would be safe. And she pities you too, because you don’t have a cabin in the woods anywhere. I’m going to wait it out on an island, your friend says. From what he’s heard these cannibals can barely walk, let alone swim. He thinks it’s the only way, but it doesn’t sit right with you. How do you get to the island? And even if you manage to get there, if something should happen on the island you’d be trapped. And when do you stop letting people onto your island? There can’t be many resources. But it’s just to wait it out, he says. If you describe it like that it

sounds ideal. It implies that there is an end in sight, and that you will see that end. Even with a collective death wish your generation still believes it is invincible. You and your roommate discuss your plans too. She says she wants to go north. As far north as she can go. You agree. You’ll go together. Up north there’s nothing but empty space. Empty space and no people, that’s what you want. So you’ll go north, if it comes to that. They’re saying that they were wrong on some level. They thought the fungus or spore or whatever it is gets passed through bites from cannibals, kind of like AIDS, and this is still true, but now they know that the spores are everywhere. In the air, in food and water. So you can get sick just by breathing it in or ingesting it. And then you die. And then you come back as a cannibal. This is really bad news. You can’t stop eating, drinking, and breathing.

Now there is panic. Now you are panicking. It’s here and it’s happening. Your whole family lives in Boston. They want you to come home. You know you should, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. On one hand you want to be with them if this is the end of the world. Seems like you should go out as a family, if it comes to that. On the other hand, if it comes to that, you can’t handle the thought that you might have to watch your mother get eaten alive. You ask your mom what their plans are, and your heart breaks when you hear they don’t really have any. We have a car, she says. If need be we’ll just leave, she says. You tell her your plan is to go north. Your roommate has a car too. You’ll go all the way up to the Arctic if need be. They should come with you. She says sure and is jovial about it, but you know they won’t make that trip. Your phone calls with your parents linger on, because you each want the other to say they’ll come join and you’ll be together, but all you have are phone conversations, and phone conversations are the only way to express to each other that you haven’t abandoned anyone yet. Please don’t leave us, is what they’re saying to you. Let’s not talk about it now, your mother says. We’ll talk about it if it comes our way. It does.

15


Come Again to the Bubble by Michael Sidman 16

The first thing you hear is out of Bolivia. A priest was found along the side of a rural road gobbling up the insides of an American aid worker. Whoever found them said the aid worker’s face had been chewed clean off. Three days later a morgue attendant said he was attacked by a man without a face. The attendant’s bicep was consumed. A day later he was sick and dying too. Then a story from the bayou just outside New Orleans. A whole family found eaten and the mother gone missing. Then they said the eaten family was missing too. Now there is panic. Now you are panicking. It’s here and it’s happening. You stop going to work, and since everyone stops going to work you don’t get fired. You can’t get in touch with your friends. The line rings and rings, but no one answers. Cowardice has set in. No one can say goodbye. It’s too hard. You’d assumed that it would happen quickly. In the movies these things happen overnight. People wake up one morning and the world has gone to shit, so they start running. Well the world is going to shit, but it’s going slowly. Scores of people are flying from the city, and there’s the usual New York traffic, but it’s not the standstill gridlock you imagined. You and your roommate get to a gas station while there is still gas to be had and you fill up as many containers as possible – Tupperware, freezer bags, bottles, anything. There’s no one to charge you, so you take it for free. You drive to Costco and brave that madness, filling up carts with as much food and water as you can. She gets the stuff and you guard it, because people are fighting over supplies. There is no one at the registers, so you take it for free. As you’re packing up the car you see your first cannibal up close. You wouldn’t have paid her any mind at all, but she catches your attention because she moves so slowly. Her eyes are bloodshot and her mouth hangs open. Her white tank top is soaked in blood. You don’t want to know what it looks like underneath. She sees you and starts heading your way. You look for something to defend yourself, but all you have is a box of beef jerky. A family two buildings away comes out barking nervous orders at each other. The cannibal is distracted and changes her course toward them. You scream to them, pointing at her, but they don’t notice you. Maybe they don’t speak English, but most likely they want to be left alone, just like everyone else. No one wants any trouble. You have to get back inside, so you just hope these people see the cannibal eventually. It’s all you can do. Maybe not all, but you’re a coward now.

Your roommate drives, because she’s the only one that can drive stick. Where are we going, she asks. With all your planning and good ideas, you’d never gotten past the general direction of north. So that’s what you do. You just drive up through New York and hope no one stops you on your way into Canada, and then you’ll keep going. You remember talking about a place up there called Nunavut. Was it a province? Probably just a territory, but it’s way up there and stretches all the way to the North Pole. As far as you know, the only people who live there are some Inuits and a few hundred oil men and their families. But Nunavut is huge, probably as big as all of Mexico, you think. You call your parents. The family has gathered at their house. Your siblings and their spouses and children. Where are you going, you ask. New Hampshire or Vermont, your mother says. But we’re waiting for you. Are you on your way? She needs you to be on your way to her. How can you not be with your mother? You’re a coward now. You tell her no, those places aren’t safe. They have to keep going north. You’re going to Nunavut. They should go there too. Where, she asks. You tell her and she reacts like what you’re saying is impossible. Just go there, you yell at her. OK, she says. And then you’re both silent. She’s crying and you hate her for it, even though you want to save her. I love you, you say. I love you, she says. I’ll be in touch as we make our way, she says. And you hang up and cry so hard you have to roll down the window to puke. Just outside Plattsburg you drive by militia men standing casually around a pile of burning corpses. You don’t stop or slow down, you just keep driving, and their eyes follow you. Occasionally you pass by people stranded on the road who are trying to wave you down, but you drive right on by. You’re both cowards now.

No one had laughed recently, but what else can you do? You blow through the border because no one is there, and you start making your way through Ontario, taking special care to avoid Toronto. My parents went to their place in Lake George, your roommate says. You hadn’t asked. Everyone stopped talking to each other now. Too hard to be personal. She didn’t say a word when you called your parents. So now you just nod and know that she is sad too. Didn’t we plan a trip to Nunavut once, she asks. Indeed you had, but you’d


forgotten. You were going to get on one of those icebreaker ships and take photos of polar bears and the Northern Lights. I never thought it would be a road trip, you say, and you both laugh. No one had laughed recently, but what else can you do? The radio still works. Phones still work. The movies were all wrong. It is not chaos, or if it is, it’s controlled. There are still people doing their jobs, reporting for your benefit. Sounds like everyone is waiting for evacuation orders, but there’s nowhere to be evacuated to, so people are hunkering down in their homes. It’s a slow burn. Lots of people are dead, but no one knows how many. Lots of cannibals are wandering the streets, but no one’s figured them out either. One expert, if there is such a thing, says that without a food source, meaning people, the cannibals will die too. That’s hopeful, except that there are billions of people. Then the radio cuts out and so does your phone, just because you’ve gone so far north. It’s beautiful up here. A land of unspoiled forest. And as you go further up, you reach the end of the tree line and all that lies ahead is a desert of ice and snow. The true wilderness. I think this part is the tundra, you say. Where did you get that bit of information? Your roommate doesn’t respond. You shouldn’t call her your roommate anymore. She’s just your friend now. Your partner. You realize as the sun sets that you’ve seen the sun set many times during this drive. How many days have you been driving? Neither of you can remember. Are we in Nunavut now, you ask, but how the hell should she know? Apparently there are no markers this far up. The only indication you get is a sign on the side of the road written in some strange language that looks like Martian. This must be it, you say. They have their own Inuit language up here. The road ends at a little town, which can hardly be called a little town. More like an outpost if that. Homes and stores built around a landing strip. You’ve been driving in a little sedan, and it’ll be no good off road. You get out of the car and ten guys in cowboy hats hustle out of a building with shotguns pointed at you. Get back in your car and keep going, one of them says. We’re just looking for a place to stay, you say. There’s nothing wrong with us, we’re just trying to get away. They cock their guns. And we’re just trying to do right by each other, the guy says. So you need to keep on going or we will shoot you. Can you tell us a way to go, you ask. They can’t. Desperate times, he says. You stand there for a little while hoping someone will intervene on your behalf, but no one does. Women

and children stare at you from inside windows and watch as you get back in the car and start driving on frozen ground.

It seems wrong that in a time of monsters you should still have to fear regular people. The car takes you surprisingly far in the ice fields. You’re used to driving around people and things. But if you skid and slide here no one gets hurt. You drive through the night and see every star in the sky that ever existed. And there are the Northern Lights you so badly wanted to see. Like radiation over a sick planet. You stop at water. A river, you say. A bay, she says. A floe, you say, with an E. You’re having an argument, but you both stop at the same time and laugh. You agree that words probably don’t mean anything anymore. Whatever this body of water is called, there’s no one except you two to give a damn. The water goes on and on. This is where the car has to stop. This is our new home, you decide. We’ll have to fish and make a fire, you say. There isn’t any wood, she says. True. That’s going to make fishing hard too. You take a walk together. You don’t have to worry about getting lost because you just follow the shore. It’s a long walk. In the distance are white mountains. Maybe they’re glaciers. There’s something big sitting in the water up ahead. You get closer and see that it’s a ship. One of those icebreaker ships you’d dreamt of, but it’s not breaking ice anymore. It’s just sitting there. Just floating. You want to go aboard, but she’s afraid. You don’t know anything about the people in there. What if they’ve gone mad? What if they kill you and rape me, she says. You almost forgot she was a woman. But you decide to go inside anyway, because maybe there’s no one there, and maybe there are supplies you need. It seems wrong that in a time of monsters you should still have to fear regular people. There are no lights inside. The power is long gone. So is the air. There is just a smell, sickly sweet and sour. You follow the tunnels that are hallways. You are clutching each other. Such a cliché spooky place, you think. So be it. You come to what must be the dining hall – a bigger room filled with tables and chairs bolted to the floor and a cafeteria-style counter with a sneeze guard and all that. The smell is worst here. Maybe it’s rotten food, you hope, but it’s not. The sailors are all piled up in a corner. All the flesh and muscles are gone from their bodies and what you

17


Come Again to the Bubble by Michael Sidman 18

see are skeletons with human heads. Some of the eyes are closed, some of them are open. All of their mouths are hanging open. But there’s another guy a few feet away. He’s completely intact except that he’s put a bullet through his head and his brains are decomposing all over the wall. At least you have a gun now. Maybe there are more. And then you panic. Looks like these guys caught what the rest of the world has, and now you might be breathing in those spores too. What a waste to have come this far. But no, she says. That’s not what happened here. And she puts the story together for you: They resorted to cannibalism because they were desperate, not because they were sick. They couldn’t go home. One by one each sailor became food until there was only one left. And when there was no one else to eat, he shot himself. Irony. They were too scared to go back to the world where cannibals might eat you, but in the end they had to eat each other anyway. In another room you find a machine that looks like an old typewriter. It printed out messages from somewhere else on that old printer paper with holepunched edges that you haven’t seen since the early 90s. You read it since it’s in English. They’d been emergency dispatches. They said the policy of containment had failed. The very last message is written with a personal touch. No need for technical writing anymore. It says that if you are still alive you should go to a place far from civilization to wait it out. Wait it out. They were still using that phrase. The only good news was that they discovered the cannibals will starve to death. There might be billions of them with nothing left to eat and nowhere else to spread their pores. It will end as fast as it started. Good luck to you and God bless is how it ends. You don’t talk to each other about this. You don’t discuss that you’re among the last of your kind and that there is nothing left of the world you knew. Instead you collect things you need like guns, knives, bedding and anything flammable that might help with a fire. You get the car and bring it to the ship, because this is your new home. Your shelter from the storm. Though you hate to go near them, you toss the corpses into the water and watch as they float away into the void of the Arctic Circle. You learn to fish without a line, and even more you pick up the subtleties of seal hunting, which really only means you learn to be quiet and to aim for the head. Even their fatty, gamey flesh becomes enjoyable

since your body doesn’t have any fat of its own left. And food is food now. Cuisine was the first thing to go when the world died. You start liking this new life of yours. It’s simple. The two of you become accustomed to silence. When you’re not quiet you tell stories to each other. Any story you know. Any story you can make up. You become storytellers. How much time has passed? Who knows? Even more, who cares? It’s been a long time no matter how you cut it. You don’t gawk anymore when you see polar bears or pods of belugas. Everything up here is white and clean and respects the silence. So you become more like them. When is the time to go back, you wonder. Is there ever a time to go back? Even if the nightmare is over, would you want to? She doesn’t bring it up, so you don’t either. You just keep on doing what you’re doing.

Let it come again to the bubble, she says. One day you hear a noise. It’s loud and cuts through the world and it disturbs you. You’d forgotten what the old noises were like. In the distance are three black spots and they’re getting closer. The two of you just stand there and watch as they become visible. They’re three men on snowmobiles. So loud. And you have a nervous feeling in your gut like social anxiety. You became used to being alone. Now you don’t like other people. Now you see their cowboy hats – men from the outpost. Seems like they’ve come looking for you. Maybe they have news. Maybe they’ve come to invite you back after all this time. Maybe they weren’t looking for you at all and it’s just one of those coincidences. Maybe they’ll kill you both, or kill you and rape her. Whatever it is, they’re coming. The two of you just stand there and wait. What else can you do?

Redneck zombies pick listlessly at ligaments that twang, dreaming of banjos and lemonade. James Ebersole


A conversation with

Michael Sidman author of Come Again to the Bubble

What inspired you to write!Come Again to the Bubble? I have always been terrified by zombie stories, but for me the real terror doesn't come from the zombies themselves but rather from the fall of society. I had been considering how realistic this type of apocalypse would be, and in doing so asked myself if I thought the world would crumble quickly or if it would have a somewhat slower end. I wondered, "What if you had the chance to survive? What if you had time to get away?" The story came from these questions. Let's talk about the title of the piece. Tell us why you selected this one line from the story to represent the whole. I'm also an avid chef, and this line often comes up in cooking shows. One unexpected outcome of this story was a culinary theme. It came about subconsciously more than anything, but it was something I very much enjoyed. The title implies that water that has been boiling can be brought back to the brink. I saw the world in this story with a similar!resilience, a similar ability to bring itself to the end and then cool again. Where do you find your ideas and inspiration? I am a horror writer because I am obsessed with horror and being scared, not because I want to scare others. My ideas come from what scares me most. Often these are specific!scenarios!(i.e. zombie!apocalypse), but other times these are feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Are there any authors who have influenced your writing? Too many to list. But in terms of horror, I am very influenced by the horror that came out of the United States in the 60s and 70s. William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist and Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby!are among my favorites. I do make a point to read Katherine Dunn's Geek Love!at least once a year, and that book continues to inspire me. What are you reading right now? I always read a piece of fiction and nonfiction at the same time. For nonfiction I'm reading Patti Smith's beautiful memoir of Robert Mappelthorpe, Just Kids. It is one of the greatest books on New York and struggling as an artist that I've come across. I also just finished Josh Simmons' collection of illustrated horror stories, The Furry Trap. I am completely flabbergasted by the

dark places he explores. At times I felt I didn't want to go to the world where these stories were reality, but in the end these stories were burned into my mind. How long have you been writing? I wrote my first short story at the end of high school, back when I was focusing more on poetry. I have been writing avidly ever since. What is your writing day like? I also have a day job, so I make a point to have Sunday be my day of writing. A writer friend and I share the day together. We meet early for brunch, go to our favorite writing spot in New York, and stay there until the sun goes down. I wish I could do that more often, but the day has become productive and sacred. Where do you find yourself writing the most? I always write in a room at The New School in New York City. It is where I got my Masters of Fine Arts. There is a room on the ground floor with a wall of windows overlooking a courtyard and garden. This is my favorite place to write. What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto? I wish I did! At the moment I'm taking it one day at a time! Where can we find other works from Michael Sidman? My story "Kosher Meat" can be found online at Omnia Varitas Review, and my horror story "Massachusetts" was recently published by Trinity Gateways in its Shadows of the Mind!anthology, which is available on Amazon as an e-book or in hard copy from the publisher at www.trinitygateways.net. What’s next? Do you have any writing projects on the horizon? I am finishing a collection of horror stories, a project which should take a bit of time. After that is my first novel! If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be? Keep writing, and be bold! Don't be afraid to share your work with other people you admire. As long as you're writing exactly what you want to be writing, you'll put out great work. It took me a long time to admit I wanted to write horror, and as soon as I did it brought out my best writing.

19


A Knock of Chance I

by Toni Morrow Wyatt

never planned to hurt her. I’m not a bad person. She simply came knocking on our door at the wrong time. I can’t change that now. Mother wouldn’t let me. I live with my mother in this ancient house. It’s been in my family for generations. Situated far from the deserted road, we rarely got visitors. Mother was dying. Her breathing was ragged, and I knew the final minutes were upon us. That’s when I heard the knocking. I wasn’t going to answer it at first, but the echoing bangs ripped through the house rattling my already fragile nerves. Frustrated, I made my way to the door. Upon opening it, I saw a girl shivering in the ice cold rain as thunder roared through the heavens. “I’m sorry to disturb you,” she said. “My car broke down. May I use your phone?” An idea as swift as lightning bolted through my mind as I stepped aside, allowing her to enter. “Please, let me take your wet coat. The phone is right this way.” Picking up the receiver, I pretended not to get a dial tone. “The line must be dead. You’re welcome to wait. I’ll fix you a cup of hot tea.” “Thank you.” I made her comfortable in the parlor. In the kitchen, I put enough of mother’s crushed sleeping pills into her tea to knock her out for hours. The effect was swift. I carried her down into the family crypt, which I’d made into a makeshift laboratory. All the years of studying the brain were about to pay off. I looked around at the generations of my family’s vaults, and I could hear them cheering me on. Mother would not die. I pulled her from her deathbed. A new brain and a new life awaited her.

20


21


Revenant P R

by ebekah ostupak

I watched Jesse fade those slow months, skin melting off him like pork sausage that’s boiled too long. His curly black hair fell off too, in thick clumps that clogged the drain and changed the topography of his pillowcase. He trembled when I touched him, wept when I didn’t, and God help me, I counted along silently as the final minutes of his life tripped over each other trying to reach the finish line. Jesse didn’t say much comforting as he lay there dying, either. His dark eyes watched me, sometimes sad, sometimes scared, sometimes so mad I thought he might throw something if only he was strong enough to pick anything up. He died quiet, too, one minute staring at me, the next minute frozen. No fuss, nothing, not even a single romantic teardrop as a keepsake. We laid him in the family crypt, the nurses and me. They came out of duty, I know, but they knew all the right things to do, how to wrap Jesse up with the right chemicals, that sort of thing. They didn’t say a word except sorry. Just crept in, did their work, and crept out again, soft heels swishing in the dark. A full moon hung low at my back, making my shadow stretch long and skinny over Jesse. It was all up to me now, the part nobody else could play. I clutched fallen dark curls in one hand, a stained bandage in the other. Fat cloves of garlic circled my neck like pearls, and a wood stake from my tomato garden swung from my belt. I was as ready as I could ever be.Yes, it was going to take a while. A long while. But I’d watched him die. I was going to watch him live, too.

22

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23


Just Like Her Mother by Laura Huntley

I weep that she isn’t pretty like she used to be. I can’t see her as it’s dark and dank in the crypt, but I can feel her. She clutches me to her frilly pinafore, her pigtail tickles my forehead, but her arms are no longer the chubby soft flesh of a little girl, she’s just bones. I had tried to plead with her, I begged her to swap souls right at the end, but she just sobbed and placed her dainty hands over her ears. She thought that by hearing me speak to her, the madness had taken over her sad little life. Poor little mite, she was just like her mother, haunted, pained, multiple personalities all screaming at her inside her head. Her mother had committed suicide; the voices got too loud and urged her to do the most terrible things. Little Amber Rose started then; the whispering, taunting, laughing voices started scratching at her mind. She never believed that I could help her, of course, her porcelain doll with ringlets and a dead white face and eyes that clinked shut. She thought that I was another one of the voices here to destroy her. That made me sad. I only ever said nice things to her. I told her that she was a good little girl and that she should try and ignore the nasty words. But just like her mother, the volume increased, and they told her to kill the dog, that it was a naughty little dog, and she did. Her father wept, a small part of him grieved for the unfortunate, bloody mutt, but mostly he felt the loss of a sweet little daughter who was, as he had secretly suspected, just like her mother. He had to end this family curse. 44 24


Blackberries for sale, $1.00/quart. Plump and sweet, nourished by corpses. No refunds.

Tara Hall

25 45


Of

Loss & Zombies

by Fletcher Young

26


M

" arch twenty-fourth, two thousand and fifteen will always be a day that rings in my memory like a church bell would to an atheist on their deathbed. I had just turned seventeen in January. I remember seeing Mom tuck her gun into the holster on her hip just before she stepped out the front door to water the vegetable garden. She had planted it in case the virus reached our village and forced it to shut down, like it had in so many others. I was sitting in Dad’s favorite recliner in the living room, reading a book on how to survive in nature with limited supplies, and my twelve-year-old sister, Cheryl, was watching an Addams Family DVD for the hundredth time on the black leather sofa. Our dad, Phil, was in Guadalupe on business. At least, we hoped he was still conducting business. We hadn’t heard from him for at least two weeks.

27


Of Loss & Zombies by Fletcher Young

We had learned not to watch the news anymore. By this point, we knew all we needed to know about how to handle the infected if we came into contact with them. Destroy their brain and don’t let them bite you. That was the only way to insure that they were no longer a threat and that you didn’t become a threat yourself. The images of men, women, children, and even babies tearing the flesh off of humanity with their diseased incisors were disheartening and disturbing. We all carried guns on us, even Cheryl. I had gotten up to use the restroom when I heard the gunshot. I thought it must have been a misfire because I never heard any scuffling or yelling. I heard the kitchen door open as I was hastily zipping my pants back up so I could find out what had happened. I walked into the kitchen and saw Mom standing there with her gun in her hand. Her face was stark white and had a look on it like an angel had just come down from heaven and told her that Hitler was being reincarnated and she had to deliver him. “Max, it’s here,” she said. “I shot Judy. I killed her. She bit me something fierce.” Her eyes never met mine. She was looking into the distance at nothing in particular. I didn’t know what to do so I just stared at her. Her free hand was dangling at her side, as limp as the tail on a dead mouse in a cat’s mouth. She walked slowly past me into the dining room and sat at the table in front of the large glass sliding door leading to the porch that looked out at the neighboring farmer’s freshly harvested cornfield. As I stood in the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen, my mind flashed back to a family dinner that we had on the porch years earlier. Our family was very close, and we always ate together if we could. We were all smiling and talking about whatever was significant in our lives at that time. My mom was wearing a white knee length dress with yellow lilies printed on it. I remember her bringing out a tray of drinks that she had selected for each of us, a Miller Light for Dad, lemonade for me, a Dr. Pepper for my sister, and ice water for herself. Mom set her .40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun on the dark, cherry wood tabletop. I saw the spot on her right shoulder blade where Judy, our overweight, seventy-six year old neighbor, had sunk in her coffee and cigarette stained teeth. I walked over to the table and picked up my mom’s

28

gun, tucking it into the right pocket of my khaki cargo shorts as I moved behind her. I could feel the warmth of the gun resting on the outside of my thigh. I told her that she was dreaming and would wake up soon. I put my left hand on her good shoulder and squeezed gently. I remember seeing a tear leave my eye socket and disappear into her curly dark brown hair. My right hand went to my cargo pocket. I slowly pulled out the Smith and Wesson and held the barrel behind her head. I held it close enough to know I wouldn’t miss, and far enough to not disturb any stray hair that may have been frizzed by the humidity outside. My eyes were completely filled with tears now, but I wasn’t letting them fall. I kept my breathing steady, and looked past the blur in my vision at the back of her head. The head that housed the brain that had taught me almost everything I knew, the head that harbored a face that could instantly sculpt expressions for any situation to console me when I felt inconsolable. The head I knew I had to destroy.

“Max, it’s here,” she said. “I shot Judy.” I pulled the trigger and watched fragments of my mother’s skull, mixed with grey matter and thick blood that blended quickly in with the cherry wood tabletop, which the bullet cut clean through, splay haphazardly across the table and kitchen floor. After a few seconds my hearing came back. The only sounds that I recall are the twirling of a helicopter blade somewhere in the distance coupled with the sound of prerecorded laughter from the Addams Family DVD that Cheryl had been watching in the living room. I looked up and saw Cheryl standing in the doorway to the dining room. She had a look of forgiveness coupled with the instinct to survive displayed on her bloodsplattered face. I looked at her, ashamed that I had been so lost in the situation that I didn’t know she was witnessing me shoot our mother in the head. I knew I had to be strong for Cheryl. My body was trembling out of control, and the dam that was holding the tears in my eyes broke as salty streams rushed quickly down my cheeks.


“I had to, sis,” I said in a shaky voice. “It’s just you and me now. We need to start gathering supplies.” Cheryl walked over to me and grabbed my hand, squeezing it tightly. “I know Max,” she said. “I’m going to miss Mommy.” My mind was racing faster than it ever had. I told Cheryl that the first thing we had to do was go out to the garage and get the boards that Dad left for us in case the infection hit while he was away so that we could board up the windows. We walked outside and saw Judy’s corpse sprawled out next to a tomato plant that was full of ripe fruit. The exit wound on the back of her head was still leaking small amounts of dark viscous sludge, and flies were swarming to the wound. I wanted to shield Cheryl from seeing the body, but I decided against it. I knew that in the near future she would have to see bodies that were mangled far more than Judy’s, and that some of them would still be walking, their only desire to eat the living and spread their disease. It was surprisingly quiet outside, and I didn’t see anyone. A slight breeze cut through the humidity in the air, and birds chirped happily from the treetops. Cheryl and I walked into the garage with our pistols drawn. I went first and told Cheryl to keep an eye out behind me. Thankfully there was no one in the garage, and we were able to gather the wood planks quickly and get back into the house. Cheryl was too small to help me put the boards up, so I did all of the work. Cheryl stayed with me, keeping an eye and an ear out for anything suspicious, but nothing came. I pounded in the final nail on the last window in the small rural one story house and turned to Cheryl. “Alright kiddo,” I said, “let’s make a list.” I grabbed a pad of paper and a pen and we went into the living room and sat on the sofa. “Alright,” I said. “We will definitely need to have weapons on hand to protect ourselves when we run out of rounds for our pistols. There’s an axe and a sledgehammer in the garage that could be useful. I know you’re too small to swing them, so we’ll need to find some things that you can handle. I think my aluminum baseball bat from little league is still in the basement somewhere. You’re going to need to practice swinging it.” “What about music?” Cheryl chimed in. “I’ll need my iPod and my headphones to protect my ears from the icky sounds that I heard on the TV.”

I recall being very bothered by Cheryl’s suggestion, but I couldn’t let her know that. She had to know that I had confidence in her or risk her losing confidence in herself. “That’s good Cheryl, but we’ll get that last. We have to focus on the most important things first, like food and water in case the water supply gets cut off.”

We walked outside and saw Judy’s corpse sprawled out next to a tomato plant that was full of ripe fruit. “We can get the vegetables from Mom’s garden,” Cheryl suggested. “Lots of them are ready.” “That’s good Cheryl,” I said back to her. “Very good. We have to make sure that we always stay together, neither one of us goes into any room of this house, or outside, without the other. If one of us goes to the bathroom, the other stands outside the door.” Cheryl nodded to me and crossed her arms across her chest, rubbing her hands slowly across her forearms and said in a nervous squeaky voice: “Max, when will they be here, the zombies?” I put down my pen and wrapped my arm around her and pulled her close to me, rubbing her shoulder with my hand. “I don’t know, kiddo. I don’t know. But we have to expect that they are coming, and it could be at any time. We should sleep in shifts, and we need to pay attention to every little sound. Even the sounds that seem normal need to be investigated, but remember, never alone.” Cheryl nodded and started crying softly. “I’m scared Max. Those things from the news are gonna come and get us. I don’t want to get eaten. I don’t want to shoot anybody.” I put my hand on the back of her head. “I don’t want to get eaten either, Cheryl, but we will probably have to shoot them. They aren’t people anymore. I will do whatever it takes to make sure they don’t get you.” Cheryl started sobbing and looked up at me with her red teary eyes. “But you didn’t save Mommy.

29


by Fletcher Young

Of Loss & Zombies

She’s dead Max. She’s dead and you weren’t there to save her!” A chill ran through me and my arms went numb. I knew I had to stay strong for my sister, so I decided to be blunt with my reply. “You’re right Cheryl. Mom is dead. I wasn’t there to save her. That is why I can’t let you down little sister. I won’t let you down like I did Mom. You’re all I’ve got left right now, kid. You’ve got to believe in me. You’ve got to trust me.” My stomach dropped hard as I spoke those words to her. I knew that I might not be able to keep any of those promises, but Cheryl couldn’t handle that, so I said what I had to say for her. Cheryl nuzzled her head under my armpit and put her arm around my torso and squeezed tight. “It’s going to start getting dark soon,” I said to her. “We need to finish this list and start gathering the supplies.” Cheryl let go of me and sat upright on the couch, wiping the tears from her face. “Okay Max. What else do we need besides food and weapons?” “I think we should stock up on gasoline in case we need to get out of here and go somewhere safer. We’d better not try to go tonight since it will be dark. The chances of the city being heavily infected are high, so we might not even be able to get gas at all. The zombies move slowly, so maybe bikes would be a better option now that I think about it. We already have those in the garage, so forget the gas idea. It’s too risky to go into town without knowing what we’re getting into. We’ll take the bikes if need be. I think those are the essentials for now.”

kitchen to put the fruit in. Make sure your pistol is in a spot where you can draw it quickly, and turn off the safety. We may need to use them.” Cheryl and I walked to each window and peered out to see if anything seemed out of place. It seemed to all check out, so we cautiously went outside, past Judy’s corpse, and back into the garage. I carried the axe and the hammer in one hand and wheeled my bike out with the other. Cheryl wheeled her bike out with both hands. It was all she could handle. “Let’s put our bikes at the bottom of the stairs in front of the porch,” Cheryl said. “Then we can just jump on them and ride if we have to.” Cheryl’s confidence was really inspiring, and I started to think that she and I could handle any situation. We walked the bikes over to the porch and put down the kickstands. I turned toward the cornfield. The sun was setting. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. I smiled as I soaked it in. The sky looked like a fire that was burning just underneath the surface of the ocean. There was orange, red, purple, blue and beams of yellow streaking out from the clouds. My smile quickly faded along with my hope as I looked down to the horizon. A half a mile or so out, marching across the farmer’s cornfield was what seemed like thousands of bobbing heads, walking steadily toward me and Cheryl. Cheryl saw me staring and looked up. We stared together at the glob of bobbing heads for a moment. I looked at Cheryl and told her to get on her bike and ride like hell, and she did.

Cheryl stood up and faced me. “You know, maybe the iPod isn’t a good idea. I won’t be able hear them coming, and I won’t let anything happen to you either Max.” I couldn’t believe how incredible it was that Cheryl had such a rational thought. I’d never heard anything like that out of her before. Hope grew stronger in my heart in that moment. I smiled at her. “Now you’re thinking sis. We’ll make a hell of a team.” Cheryl looked at me with a very serious face. “Don’t swear Max.” “Sorry sis,” I said. “I’ll do my best not to from here on out,” though I knew that I’d slip up several more times. “Let’s go outside and get the hammer, the axe, and the bikes from the garage. We’ll need a couple of grocery bags from the drawer in the

30

The fire in her eyes was realI zigzagged to avoid the flames. Danielle LaPorta


Serving Suggestion Zombie Joe complains about the brains, says they aren't what they used to be, when he was fresh-turned.

Zombie Ella turns and tuts and agrees, says people aren't as healthy as they were. No flavor. Don't taste of anything. Zombie child Sita smiles, showing teeth (yellow, black or missing); says: "Add ketchup."

CATHY BRYANT 31


NOTHING James L. Jones

It’s two o’clock in the morning. Crisp, dark shadows hold their breath Under the bright light of a full moon As if they are waiting for something. Something. The power is out. The square eyes of the buildings are dark. No cars. No people. No wind. No movement. Nothing. There is nothing. The world has stopped. But there is something. Something is coming. You can feel it out there. The more it’s not there, the more it is. Waiting. Just waiting. Is it waiting for us, or are we waiting for it? It’s too quiet. Too dark. Too still. Too nothing. But nothing is something. It wants me. And you. It wants all of us. Like a big black hole, it wants to swallow us. To eat us. This nothing that’s something. It’s nowhere. Everywhere. Deafening silence. Somber leaves hiss in the night wind, It hears us. Sees us. Smells us. Feels us. dark mounds conspiring. It wants us. This nothing. This something. Gaping spaces in tooth-torn trees It’s hungry. It’s starving. become mouths in silent screams. Close your eyes. Can you see it? Distant light falters, obscured It’s coming. by clawed hands of weaving limbs.

SPOOKED Mary Bast

With fierce-nugget eyes cats slink by, brush my skin – It shudders the length of fear, hairs probing the air for omens. One foot marks the porch edge: inches to safety or the last walk. Terror lies taut – eyeless, inward. Beast knows where the knives keep.

32


My alter ego is sharpening a knife. Let her try. I am ready.

B.G. Hilton

Whispers in my ear. Cold drafts in the hall. He watches me still...

Michelle DePaepe 33


Lula Moss

by Rebecca Rose Moody

I

t is still dark when I hear you, rustling in the kitchen, brewing coffee. I slip out of the bed and put my housecoat on in the half light. Jacob, my brother, sleeps in the bed next to mine, the light from the kitchen filtering in through the cracked door. When I come into the kitchen, you are seated at the far end of the table, staring out the window at the dawn just starting in the valley. It is early fall. A rain came last night, and the yard is full of oak and hickory leaves, dark and thick with damp. A squirrel sits on the porch step, chewing a melon rind. Its black eyes blink hurriedly; its ears twitch and shift, listening. You take a sip of your coffee from a thick, earthen mug, and set it down softly on the table. “Good morning,” I whisper. You nod and turn to me, and I can see you eyeing my appearance harshly. You are already dressed; your starched dress clings to you and your greying hair is pulled tightly in a high bun. “It’s so early,” I start again. You nod. You purse your lips and look back out the window, to the company 34

houses down the way. One by one, their lights are starting to go on as the miners rise, dressing for their hours under the earth. “Mr. Thomas will die today.” You say it slowly, your voice coming out hushed and low. You look to the far house, on the left side of the road by the church, where no light is on, the windows black and drawn. In this moment I think of all they’ve said of you, Lula Moss. That you were born with a veil over your face, that the Lord granted you second sight. That you knew the deaths of your father and your uncle before they came to pass. That you saw the mine collapse before it happened. Grandmother, I fear you. In my dreams, I see you walking the town at night. You let your hair down long; it flows as wildly as the wind. In these visions, you are a shadow that preys on the town. Bringing your vengeance without sound, you leave no thumb prints on your dead, no tracks in the mud. You leave only this: my young heart, beating hard in my chest, and the words I keep unspoken, waiting on my tongue.


Power Outage on a Country Lane Robert E. Petras

Silence swells inside the house, except for the wind clawing and the cry of the witch’s cat. Outside, the talon moon rises red and crimson shadows slink across the cloven snow. Suddenly the candles sputter. Flames levitate, swirl and flicker divide. Your phone rings: “Let us in. Let us in,” a shriveled voice hisses. Pulled, you turn toward the door. The brass burns frost. The black cat purrs.

Midnight. Lover’s Lane. I’ll pin his heart to her breast like a corsage.

Jason Matthews 35


Poor

Ellie

by Penelope Everett

Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs … Morning comes, I can’t feel my feet! 

Lucy Pireel 52


I often felt guilty, saddened over his life of

confinement. But he’d proven early on that he couldn’t be trusted on his own. He played under our watchful eyes. Left the house only with us close by his side. At play dates, the other moms would smile with wonder. “He’s so smart,” they would say. “You have no idea,” I’d reply under my breath, nervously sipping my iced tea. I carefully monitored his every move. Still, we would do anything for him. I don’t recall when it started, exactly. We wanted to make up for the time he spent alone, I suppose. Wanted to stifle that nagging feeling of guilt we felt each time we left the house and turned to lock the doors. I guess somewhere along the line we began to overcompensate. The first friend we brought home for him was named Ellie. I don’t know where I had gotten the idea, I guess it just dawned on me when I saw her. I was picking up necessities: toilet paper, dish detergent, shampoo… when I turned the corner, there she was. Just sitting there at the other end of the aisle, all by herself. She was perfect. I don’t know what came over me, I just scooped her up and placed her in the front of my cart. And then we were gone. The excitement and joy he expressed over Ellie made it easy to justify the others. One by one, we brought them home and the more the group grew, the less guilty I felt every time I turned and left him at home. He had company now. We watched them play every night as we wound down from the more ordinary stresses of our daily life. And for a while we had ourselves

convinced that it was all innocent enough. He was happier than he’d ever been, and that was all that mattered. I won’t ever forget the morning it all started to go wrong. I thought he was still sleeping when I got out of bed and headed to the kitchen to make my morning coffee before work. But when I opened the bedroom door, there he was, sitting next to the disfigured, lifeless form of one of his friends. I tried to hold back tears as I cleaned up the mess, telling myself it was a fluke and surely it wouldn’t happen again. I’d overslept and he’d gotten bored. We knew not to ever let him get bored. It wouldn’t happen again. But the days that followed only brought more disappointment. One by one the friends began to fall. I tried to prolong it for some, apologizing profusely as my shaky hands worked with the needle and thread of an emergency sewing kit. But my amateur stitches only lasted so long and soon the injuries were beyond the repair of supplies meant for replacing buttons on blouses. Still, as I cleaned up the remains every evening, I denied there was a problem. I tried to ignore what – who – the bits and pieces used to be as I picked them up off the floor and placed them into the garbage bags. That would be the last one. Surely by now he had scratched the itch. We thought Ellie would last. And for a while she did. At the first sign of her marring, I swiftly took her and locked her up, hoping the closet under the stairs would provide her safe haven. I hated to see her once beautiful face gashed down the side as it was. But of course he was too smart. When he’d found out where she was, there was no quieting him. Ellie had always been his favorite friend, now she was his last. And he wanted to play. Only now the game had changed. Poor Ellie. This time as I cleaned, a tear did run down my face. It was sweet while it had lasted. But there wouldn’t be friends around here anymore. Not for a while, at least. 37


The Broad Cloak of Night by Chad W. Lutz


This house is darker and quieter than the others. I hope they're home.

I

t was early fall and everything was perfect. The wind, as it gently blew through the trees, carried the scent of burning pine and marshmallows into the yard and mixed with the subtle autumn musk that had been creeping on since late July. Owls just waking up for their nightly hunts hooted happily in the distance as the sun dug in for the final stretch of day before disappearing behind the broad cloak of night. It was early fall and everything was perfect. I sat next to my loving wife with a fond hint of drunk hanging in the eye. She was wearing my favorite outfit, the one I always commented on every time she wore it. Her wild, frizzy, curled mop of hair looked like a caged animal pulled back by the silver hair band that twinkled in the fire lit twilight. It was like the angelic ornament you put at the top of a Christmas tree, the one so beautiful it makes it hard to take down when the time comes. I watched, almost breathless, as she stood up to get us more drinks and dip from the kitchen. Her long flowered sundress swayed in rhythm with her perfect, slender body as she walked through the dimly lit graveyard of cars parked in the back of our rural suburban neighborhood home. Like monuments to some great automotive war, three dormant autos lie slain in the grass, waiting silently, possibly forever, hoping for the chance to get back out on the road. By the time she got to the door I realized I had been staring off into space the entire time, eyeing the night sky without place or purpose to my gaze. I looked down at my beer, as if to find the answer to my absent mind in the bottom of my drink. But all I ended up finding was an empty can with the words “8.3% by content” glaring unsympathetically up at me. Defeated, I set my empty can down next to the still-smoking pipe on the table, but refused to pick it up. I was spacey enough as it was. I dug my toes into the grass and took a deep breath. The cold brittle blades of green bent supplely beneath my severely run-damaged toes. Black and blue they looked like holes in my feet in the dim light of the evening and I laughed as I heard the back door close behind me.

Tucker Lee

I looked back to find Kathryn cleaning in the bay window, which sat right next to the back door. Soap floated around like bubbly little clouds as she swished and swashed through the dishes piled as high as Everest in the kitchen sink. She must have sensed me momentarily spying on her and shot a waving neon green rubber-gloved hand in the air with a gorgeous smile that caught me off guard. I suddenly realized I was playing with myself and could still feel our shared warmth from before dinner tugging at my groin. She was beautiful, and we were in love and nothing could spoil our perfect night. Satisfied with the noise of the door I turned back to the fire. The flames licked and lapped at the night air, begging to give it more. I picked up another log and set it down on the fire to appease its call, nearly dropping it due to my excess. I still couldn’t figure out why I was so out of it, but blamed it on the twenty-mile run and went back to staring listlessly at the stars without a care in the world. But I was again interrupted by a sound coming from the kitchen. I looked back to find the bay window empty and figured she must have gone into the living room, probably chasing the cats off the counter like unwelcome guests. A second later, I saw the arched back of a dark figure bent over moving slowly in front of the sink. It paused in the middle of the kitchen floor and then disappeared as quickly as it appeared. I laughed to myself, picturing Kathryn chasing the cats around with the little black spray bottle to teach them a lesson. It never worked, but she was persistent. At this point, the headache I had earlier was but a distant memory. My eyes darted over to the pill bottle Kathryn set down with the label facing away sitting next to the pipe and graveyard of empty beer cans poorly reflected in the tabletop’s etched glass surface. I tried to stare at my own reflection but was having trouble keeping my eyes open. I looked to the pills with gratitude and nodded a sort of, “thanks,” to the orange bottle, even though moving my head felt like an extreme chore. And that’s when I heard another bang coming from the kitchen. 39


by Chad W. Lutz

The Broad Cloak of Night 40

This one was louder, more sudden. Like the sound a big rock makes when you drop it into a vat of partially dried mud. A sort of suction that you never forget. I turned my head once more to find Kathryn waving in the window, eyes wide and a weird sort of grimace on her face. Her hand was moving frantically back and forth, causing her curls to move in metronome with the centripetal force of her palm pacing back and forth in front of her in the air. Then suddenly, the blade punched through her neck. Snaking and twisting its way through and around bone and vein, the tailor-made six-inch stainless steel blade poked out just below her chin, where her Adam’s apple would have been if she were a man. A small trickle of blood began to seep through the small slit between steel and flesh as an unknown figure, now standing directly behind her, began to retract the blade and started to sever the head with long, drawn-out sawing motions. She continued to wave as all of this was happening. I instantly lost the heat of the fire and felt something else rising inside of me. A second later my lap was covered in vomit, and when I tried to wipe it away, that’s when I realized I couldn’t move. I hadn’t made a single sound and the more I tried to fight, the more intense the feeling got. I had lost all of my senses. My thoughts turned to the pills as I tried frantically to remember what they were. But I hadn’t paid any attention. I had just taken two and popped both of them in without looking and that was that. My eyes felt like rolling stones as I attempted to look back at the window, only to watch as the last final thread of skin holding my wife’s head to her neck ripped through and her perfect, slender body fell to a lifeless heap on the floor. I was tingling with fear. The killer was sawing my wife into little pieces right in front of my eyes and there was nothing I could do to stop him. It was like watching a Stephen King novel come to life. Terrified and confused, my anger mixed with fear as I struggled to get to my feet but found I could do nothing more than move my jaw. Every part of my body

was as limp and lifeless as the blades of grass being crushed beneath my badly bruised feet. A couple tears welled up and streaked down my right eye, swan diving off my chin onto the grass sitting relatively hundreds of feet below.

My thoughts turned to the pills as I tried frantically to remember what they were. But I hadn’t paid any attention. I now watched as the killer, dressed in a black winter jacket with a black ski mask, stared right at me, as if taunting me, holding my wife’s head in his hand like Jason held Medusa’s and bobbed it up and down; every so often taking the knife to my wife’s once perfect complexion to release a thin line of viscous red in random patterns like an avantgarde painter working the easel. Over and over the knife touched flesh, each time adding to the pool of blood collecting on the counter and my own fears as to whether or not any of this was real, or the side effect to some wicked prescription cocktail. But my eyes were getting heavier, and although I couldn’t tear my mind away from the thought and sight of what was going on, my body was leaving me and I was at the mercy of reality to find out if any of it was true and happening. Now tacked to the back wall of the kitchen, like (and next to) the neon green post it note reminding of a special fire lit backyard dinner for two, Kathryn’s head faded in and out of sight as the world around me did the same. For a moment I lost sight of the killer, too enraged with disgusting agony, but a few moments later found him right in front of the window staring straight out across the graveyard of cars at me idling silently by the fire. He was probably wondering why I wasn’t moving, why I wasn’t racing to the scene of the crime with a hot stick of fire in one hand and my wife’s vengeance in the other. Slowly he washed the blade and took a paper towel from the rack next to the sink,


inching his way up the knife with precision, making sure to hit every nook and cranny of the twisted steel. Finally, when he looked satisfied with his job well done, he disappeared around the corner and opened the back door to enter the fall night where everything was perfect. He looked up to the sky and held his head towards the heavens as he let out a bloodcurdling cry, like the sound of some ancient banshee or the screech of a cat when you step on its tail. The cry startled me, but not enough to keep me awake. He was holding the knife in his hand like he was holding an unborn robin’s egg and with a turgid look in his eyes, as if he might pounce at any moment, but wasn’t going to just to toy with me. He lowered his head back down to eye level, my level, where I was sitting. A long, cool breath escaped his body. I tried to look back to the window, to see my wife one last time, to see those bouncy beautiful curls or not see the canyon freshly carved into her face. But I couldn’t. All I could do was sit there and look dead straight ahead, right at my wife’s murderer, and more than likely my own. With a great lunge he leapt forward, nimble and as silent as a cat in stealth. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? Up and down they opened and closed like a broken garage door, only heavier. I had no control at this point. I thought about the pills, of the night sky, of my wife’s head stuck like a vacation brochure to a tack board in the kitchen. I thought about the killer, I thought about the promise, I thought about it all. And as the killer gained speed, knife poised seductively at his right hip; a twinkle in his sinister eye, all I could do was patiently wait for the final stretch of day before disappearing behind the broad cloak of night.

Alone in the house. Killer on the news. Somewhere a door slams shut.

THE SCARECROW They return to the same place each night, twenty or thirty at a time. I can hear the congregation of caws emerge, invisible in the dark nothing, closing in like a cult of madness. They are the dancing murders and this is my calling." to feel the wings, the eyes pecking at my insides, my arms spread out, pinned up like a disfigured ankh. Dust of what was, I am forced to play dead until the wind blows. Just a deflection, a hallucination of a body, I am the shadow of words read in reverse order. A keeper of the fields whose single file prayers are lit only by the wasteland of the moon. It is drought season. And I cannot sleep. All I have is a silence that cannot be switched off but is rather a burning out like the wick of a candle curling inward. I have known its sacrifice by listening carefully, have watched the clichés of light play in the dark. I have heard the tales of the omitted asterisk, the innuendos of the earth, felt its tremors in my hands. I have lived the havoc of keeping still.

KELLY MICHELS

Kirby Light 41


penny

fiction

13 word stories

edited by Penny Dreadful After lovemaking, Suzie takes Paul’s hands, stores them in boxes with his feet.

Angel Zapata I'm not sure where I’ve been, but this blood feels fresh and warm.

Merideth Grue 'Daylight fades. The childcatcher opens her big black bag. It’s time to choose.'

Annemarie Allan “Read me a story, daddy.” “First, tell me where you put your sister.”

Shauna Klein We buried bodies in winter and returned, in springtime, to watch limbs bloom.!

Tina Wayland Claws grip my ankle, dragging me down, down, where the small things feed.

Richard Fuller Huddled children hope the beast will pass. ! Mary sneezes. Only the fastest survive.

Nate Worrell 42


Sally’s bargain with the Thing Beneath the Bed concluded, she called for Daddy.

Jason Matthews Dead now. Famished eyes staring. “Fetch a knife, Mother. Shame to waste him.”

Jenny Twist Dad mowed the lawn. The lawn fought back. We’re still collecting his bones.

David R. Matteri She found his face too lovely to resist. The rest, she disposed of.

Jessica Hoard The autopsy was inconclusive. The subject wouldn’t keep still thus tainting the results.

Joseph J. Patchen She supposed she deserved their haunting, but not all the corpses were hers.

Margaret Elysia Garcia 43


The

Edge

of Reason

by Michael Ducak


A

s of today it has been three years since…well, it has been three years.! I was sixteen then: a hell of a time to lose your best friend. Everyone is concerned that I haven’t yet returned to my normal self. It sickens me to think of it. My mum, for instance, says I should be mature enough now to accept what happened as an unfortunate part of life. But she doesn’t know, none of them know, what I’ve been carrying around all this time. They haven’t the slightest. We’d only been friends for a few years when Eric died,!maybe four years.! I attended a regular public junior high while Eric went to a Catholic school where most of the kids had rich parents and wore the latest designer fashion when they weren’t in school uniforms. Their parents drove them to school in shiny BMWs or Mercedes Benzes. I rode my bike every day, even in the pissing rain.! There’s no Catholic high school in Forest Hill, so after junior high the rich kids that didn’t get shuttled off to a fancy private school were funneled into the socio-economic melting pot called Forest Hill Secondary. Naturally, I despised Eric when I first met him. That year was the start of my nonconformist rebellion phase, and his careful observance of fashion trends, his artfully sculpted hair, and most of all, his arrogant posturing, grated on me in the worst way.!

45


by Michael Ducak

The Edge of Reason

Eric arrived at our school with a good degree of popularity and the reputation of being hot stuff among the girls.! He struck me as a conceited prick.! I reckon he thought of himself as being above me on the social ladder, but he soon came to realize that your reputation doesn’t mean shit when you’re a freshman.! In our junior year he was almost as much of a target as I was for the senior misfits prowling the halls.! One summer day I found myself invited to his house along with some other classmates to drink beer while his parents were away. The invitation surprised me and I almost declined but then thought, what the hell; I had nothing better to do.! Away from school I found him to be a pretty funny guy and not so hard to get along with once he dropped his arrogant richkid persona.! I try not to think about how much better off we both would have been had I never accepted his invitation, had we never become friends. Forest Hill sits up on the Niagara Escarpment.! Behind the town it’s all farmland, stretching out to infinity for all I can tell, but the edge of the escarpment is crowned by forest and riddled with dank caves, the rocky cliffs plunging into even thicker forest.! From atop those cliffs you can see downtown Toronto fifty miles away, the CN Tower shining like a beacon when the sun catches it at the right angle.! As a kid I liked to play in those woods, the promise of adventure luring me into dangerously tight crevasses where the sunlight failed and the rocks were slick with moss, but as a teenager the woods provided more concealment than amusement.! It was too far to carry a case of beer but close enough to bike over and shoot back some whisky or smoke a couple of joints. Sometimes Eric and I met with other friends by the cliff, but most often it was just the two of us. We had become inseparable in spite of our differences and in spite of his tendency to mock and provoke me.! Every once in a while I would blow up on him and storm off in

46

anger, or tell him where to go,!but these little spats never lasted.! I like to think that I was a good friend and always gave him another chance, but when I’m being really honest I think of how he always had money and I never did. Therefore it was usually his weed we smoked and his booze we drank. He never seemed to mind how I leeched from him, so my company must have been worth something. I remember our last day together, a bright, hazy day, downtown Toronto drowning in muddy smog on the horizon. It was exceptionally hot. Sweat poured from us even in the shade. I remember the bag of pot Eric had, how its skunky aroma wafted from his pocket. I remember our conversation on that last day partly because of how well it illustrated some of the fundamental differences between us. We had just finished a small joint and with the weed buzzing in my brain, the surrounding forest appeared as grainy, flickering, surreal, patches of sunlight penetrating the latticework of leaves.! “So when are you gonna grow the balls to ask out Brenna Davies?” Eric asked me then, to my dismay. I shrugged self-consciously. “What do we really have in common? She’s a cute girl but what the hell would we do together? What would we even talk about?” “See, that’s your problem. You always overthink it. There’s so much nice ass out there that you’re missing out on ‘cause you never try. I’m telling you, give her a shot. It’s not like you’re ugly, so you’ve got that going for you.” “Gee, thanks.” “Just try dating her for a bit, have some fun, and then move on.! You don’t have to marry her.” “That’s assuming she would even want to go out with me.” “So you’re just afraid of being shot down.” “Not really,” I said, feeling cornered.! “But who likes to get rejected?”


" “What’s the worst that could happen? She says no.! Would that kill you?” “The point is we wouldn’t be compatible.” “Don’t you ever want to get laid?” “How do you know I haven’t?” I shot back. He inclined his head, looking at me over his sunglasses.! “Come on. When's the last time you had a girlfriend?! Not since I've known you.! And that skinny bitch you dated for a week doesn’t count.” I didn’t answer, trying to think of how to change the subject. I hated talking about girls with him. It meant having to confess to my own inexperience. “You can always try improving your odds,” he went on. “Like how?” “For starters, you might think about cutting your hair some time.” “Now you're gonna start on me too?! Jesus." “And maybe look at getting some new clothes.! Girls love nice shoes and shit like that. Why not make things a little easier for yourself?” I didn’t reply, and had nothing to say as we made our way along the edge of the escarpment to the next lookout point.! The silence felt heavy as it does when you are stoned and thinking too much.! When we reached the clearing we stood as close to the edge as we dared.! Below us lay several miles of countryside divided into neat uniform squares like a quilt, little fields separated by rows of trees.! From somewhere below came the distant mooing of cows.! A turkey vulture swooped by close enough for us to see its red featherless head. “You ever hear about the kid that died here years ago?”! Eric said.! “He was walking somewhere along here with his girlfriend and one of these big slabs of rock fuckin’ gave way, just like that, and down he went.” Eric whistled the sound of a bomb dropping.! “Imagine: the rock had been there for probably thousands of years and at that moment it

decided to move. Some luck, eh?” " I leaned over, staring down the jagged face of the cliff to where it disappeared into the trees below. Eric lit the other joint then and we passed it back and forth in silence.! “Do you ever feel scared,” I asked him as I flicked the roach over the edge, “that you might just throw yourself off?” “What are you, suicidal?”

Everyone would wonder why you did it, when in fact there was no reason but the lack of reason.

“No.”! Stoned, I couldn’t find the words to describe that irrational feeling, that freedom of will, the subliminal knowledge that there is nothing stopping you, nothing holding you back, but your own reasoning.! Everyone would wonder why you did it, when in fact there was no reason but the lack of reason.! It was a captivating thought, one which I often toyed with: What if I was to just ignore my sense of reason and do this or that without regard of consequences? It often seemed to me that the line between thinking and acting was dangerously thin. I had a friend in junior high, a girl who I will not name. We used to hang out sometimes. She was not so pretty but not bad looking either, and though I liked her well enough there was never anything between us and I had never even thought about kissing her, let alone feeling her up. But then one day I was looking at her, at how her tee shirt was pulled so tight over her breasts, which were large for her age, and it wasn’t overwhelming desire that gripped me but just that familiar feeling, that there was nothing stopping me.! And so I did it.! Before I knew what I was doing, I just grabbed her boob and held it firmly, squeezed.! It was almost as if I was watching myself from a distance. We aren’t friends anymore, but at least she didn’t tell on me. 47


by Michael Ducak

The Edge of Reason 48

Half of our high school turned out at the funeral.! Eric was between girlfriends but you wouldn’t have known it by how all the pretty girls wept and hugged each other, mascara staining their faces in dark streaks, like black tears. ! I was virtually smothered beneath invisible waves of sympathy for having been there when he died.! I could feel it in their murmurs and sidelong glances. If not sympathy, then curiosity. But for the most part the other mourners gave me my space, since I was stone-faced and hollow-eyed and carried a dark cloud about me.! It was apparent that I had been traumatized, but I had already made it clear that I wasn’t interested in grief counseling.! What I needed was to forget the whole episode, to erase it from my mind, an impossible notion when faced with the thought of his broken body in the casket, and the presence of his devastated family. Even with the separation of years it seems impossible.! I still see him standing there at the edge of the cliff. He’s pissing over the drop, his back to me. I have no thoughts of doing him any harm, yet there it is: that freedom of choice. There is nothing stopping me. As I come up behind him I see him tense ever so slightly, just a subtle change in posture concordant with the sudden realization of the vulnerable position he’s in.! But he’s not worried yet, not until he feels my hands on his back, and I feel, through his shirt, his panic and disbelief. It’s conveyed from his muscles into my hands and I don’t know what I’m doing but I feel the sudden power. It’s electrifying and I want to savor it, but there’s no time.! At this point I should back off, let it be a mean prank, but instead I follow through, and I swear he and I realize simultaneously that I am going to do it, and neither of us know why but we are both equally sure.! As I realize this

I realize also that I don’t want to, but it’s too late, and as I shove him over my momentum nearly takes me with him, and I stop just short of the edge.! I don’t know if he cries out or not; probably he does but I’m too shocked at my own actions to notice.! The wave of sickness hits me immediately.! I stagger away from the cliff and slump against a tree, pouring sweat.! It doesn't make sense, what just happened.! I know I'm not crazy but how else to explain what I did?! I sit there for I don't know how long, trying to disconnect myself from this situation, as if my inaction will make it go away or perhaps I'll wake up any minute now, sweating and tangled in my bedsheets.! But the edge of the cliff remains and I still see his shoe prints there, and the sweeping marks in the dirt where he slid over.! Shoe prints.! Shit.!

It often seemed to me that the line between thinking and acting was dangerously thin. In my mind's eye I can see myself standing there with a long pine bough and a blank expression, all the feeling having been shocked from me.! It didn't seem like a crime until I found myself brushing away the evidence.! I went about the task quickly and methodically, trying to keep a clear head.! And the whole time I didn't venture near the cliff, didn't dare look down.! I couldn't even have been sure he was dead but I never went to check.! In fact, I didn't think much about Eric at all.! I was thinking about me, and the likelihood of my being found out.! I retrieved my bike from our hiding spot, a dark crevasse that Eric called “the garage”, and rode home as fast as I could. When I got there I cried, blubbering incoherently. My mum could make out just enough to warrant a panicked call to the police. And so it began. There wasn’t much suspicion surrounding me to begin with, since I had no discernible motive.! It was blind luck that there were no witnesses to the act or the clean-up, no one to


spot a disturbed-looking kid carrying a pine branch along the path before tossing it conspicuously into the bush. I was questioned, of course, as the police tried to determine whether I might have accidentally pushed him off while horsing around, but I stuck to my story: He was taking a leak, and he just…fell.! Once I admitted to having smoked some joints, the story became more plausible and took on a new dimension about the dangers of messing with dope.! It seems nearly miraculous that in my guilt and fear I didn’t betray myself under questioning.! I must be a better liar than I had given myself credit for. I could hardly believe it once I started to realize that I was going to get away with the most perfectly senseless and inexplicable crime, if only on account of its utter senselessness.! After three years I still can’t reconcile myself to the facts of what I did. Neither can I just accept that it happened, that I can’t change the past and move on. I have developed an acute fear of heights, but it is not really heights I fear.! My self-trust has been forever banished.! I made the decision to turn myself in almost subconsciously. I just got up and started walking, not even really thinking about it. I’d gone four blocks before it really started to hit me, how my life is about to change, and now that I’m almost at the station I’m very, very tempted to turn around.! But my life changed when Eric died; that was the start of my sentence.! Now I’m just making it official.! I’m frightened to the point that I want to faint, but on the other hand I know there’s nothing they can do to me that is worse than what I can do to myself.! I can see them now, the police and social workers, poring over my notebooks, searching my room, trying to find a way inside my head.! They will come to conclusions about my mental state,!find warning signs that my parents and teachers should have picked up on.! Or maybe they won’t do any of that.! Maybe they’ll just evaluate me and lock me away where they see fit.! After all, I’m not a kid anymore.! I can make my own decisions.

The Ballad of Ida Mae by Laura Huntley

The resplendent ringlet girl Will not be forgotten. Decades roll on by. So many bright faces Perch at the water’s edge, Throwing pebbles Skimming the serene river, Feet cooling in the summer, Pennies tossed for wishes. Ida Mae resides here After her corpse Had been weighted at the bottom. Her killer, now long dead, Took his secret with him. Charming Ida Mae, Seventeen and never been kissed, The pale face of a porcelain doll, A song bird, a sweetheart. Her toes once splashed here, Her laughter echoed, She picked the white flowers. Until her predator spied her innocence And knew he must take it away. Delicate little Ida Mae. It only took a moment. And she was never seen again. Sentenced to a watery grave, Her parents left in the dark. Beautiful Ida Mae. Once a year, On her fateful anniversary, She smiles at you, Stealing your reflection. The resplendent ringlet girl Will not be forgotten.

49


Within Shadows

B

of Cypress Trees

the ancient muttering road winding through the bayou descends into the underworld of submerged strangeness

finding a turtle in the mud -a serendipitous counterbalance of innocence to the fang-rimmed muck of experience there's a boy rowing a weathered boat his doubt a scowl an indignant intrusion into the lantern-lit shanty of the old wives' tales

She walks in white, gossamer and cold, looking for him on every road.

Merideth Grue

about the runaway flower girl lost in the garden maze her lacy lilac shift recovered in a hive of gelded bees about the wayward child at the Baptist picnic whose bright curiosity discovered the locked door beneath leaf-covered lake water

Hillary Lyon

Water

There in the water beside you— Feel it, that pocket that makes you shiver so. It is the soul of one who has drowned. Feel how the vagrant soul wafts in the water. How cold the soul is without its host. It drifts ceaselessly with the currents As shall yours. Come, child, let me baptize you.

Robert E. Petras 50


Skin of the Duppy

The boy, he is alone. Each night, he lies awake under a lean-to beside the mouth of a lifeless river that clings to its banks in fear, waiting for a sign. “Granny,” he whispers, “wa mek ‘im dweet fa? Wa mek ‘im a teif yah?” Why did he do it? Why did he take you? He listens to the soft rustle of palms in the silky wind that carries the rattled reply of his grandmother’s bones. The boy, he has a secret. He knows that the reason his grandmother lay down one night and did not return from sleep is the same reason the river is afraid to move. He knows only one power can send the fearful river churning into the sea, thick with mountain mud and spirits of the dead. A thieving force of evil. They have met before, the thief and this boy. The night before his grandmother fell ill, she had pointed to the edge of the river where a dark mist strained to take shape. “Duppy,” she whispered, her eyes clouding over. “ ’im a fear di tallowah buai.” He fears the strong boy. She tells him to stand tall and unafraid. The boy, he knows the duppy commands the wetland at the river’s mouth, drawing power from its swampy core. It is the duppy that sends the mountain down the river during storms, yanks gnarled teeth from reefs and tears away the living from their sleep. He wears a jagged tooth of black coral strung round his neck. Through a dream,

Grier Jewell

the spirit of his grandmother said it would protect him. Night after night, her spirit tells him he must free the land and the waters from evil. It is his duty. The boy, he is like the river, afraid to move. But the dreams grow more urgent and the boy cannot sleep until he drowns his dread and accepts his duty. He builds a fire and chants into night air so heavy it holds the world still. “Dis me yaad,” he softly chants. This is my yard, my home. “Dis me rivah.” This is my river. A gust of wind rushes through the fire, shooting flames into the night. “Dis me yaad,” he calls out, stronger and louder. “Dis me rivah!” A shadowy figure of sunken flesh surges through the veil of darkness that borders the river. Its teeth are black and razor sharp. “Dis me powah!” shouts the boy. This is my power! The fire, it licks the duppy’s raging face. The face, it shudders inside a swirl of smoke. The smoke, it saps the duppy’s strength. The boy stands tall. He is strong. He takes the coral from round his neck and pierces the duppy’s heart until it bleeds out darkness and death. He strips the duppy of its lifeless form and steps into the skin of his new power. No longer a boy. No longer alone. He commands the land and the waters and the spirits of the dead.

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Why You Should Not Summon A Demon in an Attempt to be Published in a Literary Magazine By Gwendolyn Edward


D

" o you have any idea how hard it is to find a good demon summoning spell these days? It’s not easy. You’d think with the internet you’d be able to find something reputable out there, but the spell I ended up with wasn’t good at all. Looking back on it, it would have made way more sense to go to one of those bookstores specializing in these things, but school was keeping me down and I didn’t have time to drive to Dallas. I did have time, in between reading The Canterbury Tales and washing the gunk out of my dog’s ears, to hop on my computer though, where I found a demon summoning spell on the seventeenth page of my Google search for “good demon summoning spell” that brought into my living room a certain Tyreezelbub, who I shortly found out, was a crack addicted demon from south Dallas. It was Friday night, and because I don’t go out much, aside from the occasional movie or Mexican dinner, or bookstore trip or cigarette run, I was in my living room preparing to summon my first demon. I was new to the whole conjuring evil from another realm thing, but I supposed that as long as I followed directions carefully there wouldn’t be a problem. Maybe it was the fact that my printer ran out of black and printed in blue instead, or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t vacuum the dog hair out of the carpet before putting down my salt circle, or maybe it was the fact that I had carpet and not hardwood floors, but something went wrong. I rolled the large metal bird cage from the kitchen into the library and shut the cockatoo in there with the dog. Then I got out the salt. The spell didn’t specify what type of salt to use, and it was between the Morton’s iodized salt and the thick, granular sea salt. I figured sea salt might be better because it was more pure, but the iodized salt was smaller and would make a more secure circle in which to trap the demon. Iodized salt then. I put the sea salt back in the pantry next to the bread flour

and spider web cupcake wrappers. Noting that Halloween was exactly a month away, I vowed that I’d make werewolf cupcakes the next week to take to my friend’s birthday party. Back in the living room, Ancient Aliens kept drawing my attention back to the television, so I put it on mute while I sprinkled the salt onto the carpet, in a circle three feet in circumference. Then I placed five black candles that I bought at CVS at the points of my imaginary pentagram and lit them because they were supposed to burn for at least five minutes before starting the incantation. The smell of licorice filled the room. I hoped it wouldn’t matter that my candles were scented. The spell didn’t say anything about that.

I was new to the whole conjuring evil from another realm thing, but I supposed that as long as I followed directions carefully there wouldn’t be a problem. Then there was the blood. I unwrapped the steak and dumped it into my dog’s bowl for him to find later. The paper towel-like plastic wrapper that sat at the bottom of the styrofoam carton was thick with old blood, and I wrung it out into the small bowl that I usually kept my vitamins in. Then I drew the appropriate glyphs on the back of my hands with the red water, blowing on them to help it dry faster. I could barely see them. Two minutes later I sat at the base of the circle and held my hands, palm side down, over the piece of paper with the summoning spell and started to read. And my dog barked. Then the bird started screaming. Aggravated, I got up and went to the library and yelled at them both to shut the hell up and then went back to my work. Again, 53


by Gwendolyn Edward

Why You Should Not Summon A Demon In An Attempt To Be Published In A Literary Magazine 54

I sat in the appropriate position and started reading. The whole thing took less than a minute and my breath was coming in shallow gasps when I finished, hoping that the stupid idea would really work. But nothing happened. Nothing happened. There was no gust of wind or foul odor or lightning. Across the circle, some guy with a handlebar mustache was pointing to an Egyptian relief, and the screen switched to show a spaceship with lights that shown down from the bottom, and then the relief was shown side by side and I guessed that the sun rays were spaceship lights. Fucking idiots. I waited until the end of the show, twentyone minutes before giving up and blowing the candles out and giving my dog his freedom to eat his eight-dollar and seventy-two cent steak dinner. The bird tried to bite me through the cage bars because he hates it when I move him out of the kitchen, and then I sat on the sofa with a microwavable bowl of Kraft macaroni and cheese, flinging pieces of it at my dog for him to catch mid-air. And then I went to sleep. I don’t know what time it was, but it was only a few hours later when my dog started barking and the bird started screaming, and I woke from a dream where Suzanne Sommers and I were going on a road trip to New Mexico, to hear someone in my house screaming “Take it off mute!” I rushed into the living room, still in my boxers and found my dog growling at the demon I had summoned earlier. He was leaning up against an invisible wall caused by the salt circle barrier and he stank like ammonia and something rotting. He wore stained brown dress slacks, tied at the waist with a silver scarf, and his shirt said “Kiss Me, I’m Irish.” His

head was like an upside down triangle and was too pointy at the chin and too broad across the forehead, and he was orange, like, University of Texas orange. I stood stunned for a minute in the doorway between my bedroom and the living room, and then I grabbed my dog by the collar and shoved him into my room, slamming the door so fast that I almost crunched his tail. The bird was still screaming and it only freaked me out more so I thrust a throw blanket over his cage and he shut up fast enough. All this went on while the demon swayed in his confinement, yelling at no one in particular to “take it off mute.” He was watching a re-run of Ice Road Truckers without any sound. Cautiously, I sidestepped my way to the sofa so I could keep him in my line of sight, but he didn’t seem to notice me at all. “Hey,” I said, “are you the demon I summoned?” “What?” He turned that fucked up, Neanderthal head towards me and puked. It splattered against the invisible wall and slid down to pool on my carpet. “Oh, sorry man,” he said, wiping the corners of his mouth with a clubbed and clawed hand. “I’ve been a little sick lately.” “Oh, no, that’s cool,” I assured him. “I’ll clean it up.” “Can you take that off mute?” he asked me, turning back to the T.V. “Can we talk first?” I asked him. “Whatever. Okay. What do you want?” He sat on the floor Indian style, legs crossed and knees bent high. “I was hoping you’d be able to help me get published in a literary magazine this year.” “Which one?” “Agni.” “Agni was a fucker. He’s still a fucker. Fucker gets his own magazine and I get an eternity of slaving to mankind.” “Well, okay, any prominent magazine would do then.”


“You any good?” he asked, studying his puke pile in front of him. “I think so.” “Huh.” “Well,” I asked, picking up the conversational slack, “can you help me? Like, can I give you my first born child, or my soul or something? Seriously, I’m willing to sell my soul to get into Agni.” “I’m not fucking Rumplestiltskin. I don’t want no baby. Get me some crack.” I didn’t think I heard him right. “Did you say crack?” “Yeah, crack man. Like rocks. Coke.” “Um…” “You wanna get published? You get me some crack. Now unmute this bitch so I can watch T.V.” His head swiveled away from me, back to the flat screen. “Can’t you get your own crack?” I ventured. I didn’t really want to risk buying drugs. Giving up kids or souls was easy. “If I could get my own crack don’t you think I’d do it? You could have summoned me in front of a 7-11. Sometimes I do this sweet ass crack dance and people give me money. Hey you wanna see my dance?” The demon got up and started doing this weird jerky dance while singing “help me out man, just help me out. Lost my job and lost my dog and all I want is a hot dog. I can wash your windows for a dollar….” “Thanks,” I said, hoping he’d stop, but he didn’t. “Pump your gas for a dollar.” He stopped and bumped up against the wall, “You got five dollars man? I ran out of gas and I only need like, five dollars to put in my tank and I’d really appreciate it.” “Um, no,” I said uncertainly. “That’s cool. God Bless.” " “What kind of demon are you anyway?” I

asked him, because I certainly wasn’t expecting something like him. “I’m Tyreezelbub,” he said. “I live in south Dallas near Harry Hines.” “You’re from Dallas? Aren’t you supposed to live in hell or something?” “Nah, only the cool guys get to live in hell. Most of the time I live under an apartment building where Arnof Gleiben banished me about a hundred years ago.” “Except for when you’re summoned out,” I said, more to myself than to him. “Yup. Hey man, can you unmute this? And go get my crack?” My dog was whining and scratching at the bedroom door.

Seriously, I’m willing to sell my soul to get into Agni. I had two options. I could get rid of the demon, and lose my opportunity to get published, or I could go buy some crack and probably get published. I scratched my knee, looking at the thing I had summoned into my living room. Was this some sort of sick joke? The spell said I would be summoning a wish-granting demon who would likely strike a bargain with me. But instead I had gotten Tyreezelbub from south Dallas who wanted me to get him crack. Of course a decent demon summoning spell wouldn’t come up on a google search. Someone probably put this one on there just to teach people like me a lesson. “Okay,” I told him. “I’ll get you some crack, but I don’t know where to get any.” “It’s cool man. Call Boo.” Tyreezelbub gave me the phone number to a guy named Boo who told me where to go, and I threw on a pair of old jeans and a sweatshirt and hopped in my car. I left my dog in my bedroom. I felt pretty positive that Tyreezelbub’s boundary would hold, but I didn’t want the neighbors to get suspicious 55


by Gwendolyn Edward

Why You Should Not Summon A Demon In An Attempt To Be Published In A Literary Magazine 56

when my dog wouldn’t shut up because how was I going to be able to explain why there was a demon sitting in his own puke stew in my living room. On the drive to Dallas I rolled down all my windows and listened to a Tom Jones CD. I keep it because it’s ridiculous and I was hoping it would displace some of my tension, but it didn’t. I pulled in the drive of my bank and took five twenty dollar bills out of the ATM. Forty minutes later I was in the parking lot of an all-night Whataburger and I was waiting in my car with a kid’s chicken strip meal so I wouldn’t look too suspicious as I was keeping an eye out for a maroon Cadillac. Boo pulled up beside me and waved at me to get into his car. I didn’t want to get in the drug dealer’s car. I didn’t want to smell his cigarillo smoke while he counted out my twenties and passed me a bag of crack cocaine. I wanted to throw my kid’s meal with its Sponge Bob Square Pants toy out the window, go home, banish the demon, call someone to clean up his puke, and forget that I ever tried to summon a demon in an attempt to be published in a literary magazine. If I got pulled over on the way home, or if God forbid cops were watching me now, I’d go to jail and then I’d have a record that I’d have to report to my university and I might get kicked out. But, if it worked, I’d get published, and would be one step closer to getting a literary agent, so I was going to have to risk it. I got into Boo’s car. He wore a red velour track suit and a visor. I hastily shoved my hundred dollars towards him and he handed me a small, hard piece of foil. I didn’t even say thanks and got back in my car and drove carefully and slowly out of the parking lot. On the way home to Denton I drove exactly four miles over the speed limit. Driving the speed limit might be suspicious. Speeding would definitely get me pulled over. I kept K

iss me, I ’m Irish!

checking the rearview mirror, and my hands were sweating and the chicken fingers and gravy were making me nauseous. At one point, there was a car behind me but it was dark and it was just far enough back so that I couldn’t tell if it was a cop and I wished just once that I was a chick so I’d have a better place to hide drugs. But it never sped up and I pulled off the highway and breathed a sigh of relief. In the driveway, I sat in my car looking at the silver foil package. I’d never seen crack in person before. I unwrapped it, and inside were nine yellowish pieces of crack. I crumpled it back up, shoved it into my pocket and went into my house where Tyreezelbub was still on the floor, now watching History’s Mysteries. An episode about Masonic Links to the Country’s Founding Fathers. “You got my crack man?” he asked, giddy when he saw me in the living room. “Here’s your fucking crack!” I yelled at him, throwing the foil package, but it only hit the barrier and fell on my side of the boundary. “You don’t have to be like that, man,” he said, sounding hurt. “Of course I have to fucking be like that,” I said, angry. “I drove to the fucking ghetto to buy crack for you and now I feel fucking dirty.” I sat on the sofa, my head in my hands. “You’re gonna get published. You know that, right?” “I better. How do I get you out of here?” “How do I get my crack?” “I don’t know I’ve never summoned a demon before, how do you get your crack?” “Well,” he drawled, “you made the circle, so you have to break it and hand it over.” I am not a demon expert. I think that was very clear by now. But something about breaking the circle that contained the demon rubbed me the wrong way. “Are you going to try and eat me?” I asked, figuring I wouldn’t get a straight answer anyway. “Nah, man. I just want my crack.”


I’d gone this far. I picked up the spell directions from the floor and re-read the part about banishing the demon, which at this point could have been another joke. I was supposed to say this Latin phrase and then he was supposed to go poof, back to where he came from. “Hey would it be cool if I just smoked that here?” he asked, pointing to the drugs. “No, it would not be cool.” I walked over to the circle and picked up the crack. Then, with the toe of my shoe I rubbed it across the circle and tossed the drugs to Tyreezelbub. He caught it mid-air and smiled at me.

I am not a demon expert. I think that was very clear by now. But something about breaking the circle that contained the demon rubbed me the wrong way. Then he rushed the barrier, dropping to the floor and sticking his twisted hands out of the hole I made and he started rubbing the salt circle away. Freaked out, I screamed the Latin banishment spell and he frowned at me, then disappeared. The room stank and I was standing, almost hyperventilating, near the pile of demon puke. I stood there for a while, berating myself for being so stupid, before I finally got a roll of paper towels and the carpet cleaner and got to work. I let the dog out of my room, and he proceeded to sniff all around the demon circle before peeing on the spot I just cleaned. I cleaned it again, and then went and puked in my toilet, before getting on the computer to submit my story to Agni.

Coven

by Anne Britting Oleson You might ask: what kind of incantation calls a coven of women of a certain age out into this January night, cold and sharp as glass?

You might wonder: why have they left their cauldron of eye of newt and toe of frog, cleverly disguised as a crockpot full of chicken and turnips, bubbling away in the kitchen, where they have been crafting potions, trading words and cackling in weird glee as they huddled over spellbooks? Look closely: now they huddle around the ditch-delivered sacrifice, which looks suspiciously like a dead Volkswagen. They curse it along the Higginsville Road, the beast refusing reanimation. No witchcraft brings it back: they abandon it, lifeless, in the next yard. But you ask: why do they walk back, when they might just mount broomsticks and fly? Ha. How do you know they don't? There are many ways of flying, and this bunch knows them all. 57


Look Bro, No Hands! Brendan Verville Lord knows, there is no doubt I hate that man For when I was eight, he took my left hand We were cutting wood for the fire that night I set up the block, he swung and lost sight I saw it happen—he missed and hit me He cut off my hand and leaned close to see I swore my revenge, for some day, some time To take his left hand just like he took mine I put off my plans as long as I could Knowing that soon, very soon, that I would And then he was sick and stiff in his bed He still had his hand, knock knock with the dead My brother is gone and I did not go To see him or his final dead man show But when the sun sets and mourners go home I’ll shake his damn hand, and cut it off the bone 58


"That jack-o-lantern looks like me!" he said, as she plunged in the knife. Lars R. Trodson

In the dark still, back afire, breath a cloud A small bone yard and me—no soul allowed The blade is so old, and the handle is cracked My tools of contempt, my shovel and axe Six feet of dirt, headstone polished and neat To dig with one hand is no easy feat Arcs of dirt o’er shoulder, dusting the moon I hear a dull rap and laugh in the gloom I pry off the lid and then lose my grip My brother shows me a twitch of his lip Cold unseen fingers reach out to touch mine The fingers cut deep, like thorns on a vine The coffin swallows my hand and my wrist I hear my bone break, skin tear and then twist The grave is so dark, I can’t really see Except for the place my hand used to be Here is a symmetry no one could crave Without my hands, I can’t climb out this grave. 59


From the Depths Contributors

13 Tales DARK & DREADFUL 13 POEMS GRIM & GHASTLY

22 contributors Bold & Brilliant IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE Lilith Michael Feeding Time Lilith Michael writes mostly to amuse herself, but enjoys amusing others with her stories. She is an active member of Scribophile, the online writing workshop community at www.scribophile.com. S.D. Wilson Six stones, There IS Something Under the Bed, & Coffin S. D. Wilson plucks out all the strange ideas swirling around in her brain and turns them into poems, sometimes good ones. She is inspired by the dark and dreary, the spooky and eerie. She lives in Illinois. Michael Sidman Come Again to the Bubble Michael Sidman grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, which led to a very early obsession with the occult. Since then he has become something of a horror aficionado, gobbling up horror stories in everything from popular culture to the monsters and hauntings of old Yiddish folklore. Having received his MFA in Writing from The New School, Michael hopes to one day be responsible for creating the monsters that will haunt the dreams of a new generation and remain in the collective unconscious for centuries to come.

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Craig Scott Feel Craig Scott is an unimaginative pseudonym. More work under this name appears in the collaborative collection Tales From a French Envelope (with Catfish McDaris), which is available through Lulu.com. Laura Huntley Just Like Her Mother & The Ballad of Ida Mae Laura Huntley is a published writer of flash fiction and short stories. Her work has been included in several anthologies. She loves a twist in the tale and quirky characters. Laura is currently working on her first novel. Fletcher Young Of Loss & Zombies Fletcher Young was born in Kalamazoo, MI. He moved to Houston to pursue a bachelor's degree in creative writing at the University of Houston in 2010. He coowns an arts marketing firm and enjoys promoting local artists in his spare time.

Toni Morrow Wyatt A Knock of Chance Toni Morrow Wyatt was once an independent bookseller, which cultivated a love of many different genres and is reflected in her writing. Her debut novel ‘Return to Rocky Gap’ will be available from Melange Books, LLC in January of 2013. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. She talks about her completed works and upcoming projects at ToniMorrowWyatt.com.

Cathy Bryant Serving Suggestion Cathy Bryant is the 2012 winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Prize for the worst opening line of a novel, and a former guest blogger for the Huffington Post. Her poems and stories have been published all over the world in such magazines as Night to Dawn and Midnight Times. Cathy co-edits the annual anthology 'Best of Manchester Poets', and her own collection, 'Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a Sexual Nature' was published recently. To contact her, email cathy@cathybryant.co.uk

Rebekah Postupak Revenant Rebekah Postupak lives in Virginia with her husband, children, and imaginary friends, all of whom exhibit an extraordinary and inexplicable patience with her on a daily basis. When not writing, she may be found working, teaching, and/or twirling, sometimes all at once. She is deeply grateful to HWP for publishing her story, despite its shocking lack of dragons.

James L. Jones Nothing James Jones is the proud father of two wonderful daughters and the 'Grandanna' of three terrific grandsons. He currently lives in Texas, but his real home (and always will be) is Weed, CA. He has had a passion for writing since the 5th grade, but only recently started submitting for publication.


Mary Bast Spooked Mary Bast is a life coach who writes poetry, memoir, and flash fiction. When her hands are not on computer keys they’re holding brush to canvas, inspired by North Central Florida’s woodlands, lakes, and prairies. Mary writes and paints barefoot and has no excuse for owning more than 30 pairs of shoes. Rebecca Rose Moody Lula Moss Rebecca Rose Moody, née Mooradian, is a wife, French teacher, and poet currently living in Nashville, TN. A graduate of Sewanee, she draws inspiration both from the landscapes of Tennessee and the family lore on which she was raised. Currently, she is working on finishing her first novel. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, writing music with her husband, and playing with her kitten, Minette. Robert E. Petras Water & Power Outage on a Country Lane Robert E. Petras is a resident of Toronto, Ohio and a graduate of West Liberty State University. His work has appeared in two previous issues of Haunted Waters Press and recently in Phantom Kangaroo and Defenestration.

Michael Ducak The Edge of Reason Michael is a new writer out of Southern Ontario. He works in commercial distribution while writing stories and collecting rejection letters in his spare time. He hopes to one day overcome his fear of writing novels. Hillary Lyon Within Shadows of Cypress Tress Hillary Lyon is editor for the small press poetry journals The Laughing Dog, and Veil: Journal of Darker Musings. She holds an MA in Literature from SMU. Her work appeared recently in Red River Review, Scifaikuest, and Shot Glass Journal. Grier Jewell Skin of the Duppy Bio: Grier Jewell earned her MFA in creative writing at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, where she fell in love with writing bite-sized tales of the macabre. Her work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Black Lantern Publishing’s Journal of the Macabre, Crow Magazine, Crow Toes Quarterly, Danse Macabre, Soundings Review and Underneath the Juniper Tree.

Penelope Everett Poor Ellie Penelope Everett is a lover of books, the older the better. She is often seen lurking in the shadows of used bookstores. Once, while lost in the dark catacombs of Edinburgh, she brushed up against a stranger who nudged her toward daylight. Upon turning around, no one was there. She writes when the spirit moves her.

Gwendolyn Edward Why You Should Not Summon A Demon In An Attempt To Be Published In A Literary Magazine Gwendolyn Edward is a Master’s candidate in creative writing at the University of North Texas where she works with American Literary Review. She writes nonfiction, genre fiction, and YA while also studying Anglo-Saxon literature. More information can be found at her website, www.gwendolynedward.com.

Chad W. Lutz The Broad Cloak of Night Chad W. Lutz was born in Akron, Ohio in 1986 and lives in the neighboring suburb of Stow. An avid athlete, activist, writer, and musician, Chad holds a BA in English with a Minor in Writing from Kent State University. His work has been featured in Diverse Voices Quarterly Journal and AltOhio.com. He currently works as head content writer for an online job applications website in North Canton.

Anne Britting Oleson Coven Anne Britting Oleson has been published widely in the US, UK and Canada. She earned her MFA at the Stonecoast program of USM. She has published two chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (2007) and The Beauty of It (2010). Another book, Counting the Days, is scheduled for release next year.

Kelly Michels The Scarecrow Kelly Michels received her MFA from North Carolina State University where she also received the Academy of American Poets Prize. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2012, Nimrod, Blue Fifth Review, Mad Poets Review, Ruminate, among others. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information on her work, please see her website. www.kellymichels.com

Brendan Verville Look Bro, No Hands! Brendan Verville is 22 years old and a student in Denver, Colorado. He enjoys a good scary story and believes highly in the unification of horror as literature. Good horror and science fiction stories were some of his first introductions to reading, and his love of the macabre has gotten so bad that he can't enjoy a dream unless it's a nightmare, just so he can experience the relief of waking up from it.

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penny

fiction

THE AUTHORS

edited by Penny Dreadful

Janel Gradowski was once hit in the face by a toad. A washing machine tried to eat David R. Matteri when he was nine years old. Jason Matthews' first band practiced at their guitarist’s family mortuary. (Only slept over once.) Annemarie Allan's greatgrannie was a witch. Or so people said. Tina Wayland writes to chase the ghosts away. Jenny Twist used to be an escapologist's assistant - the lovely Tanya. Shauna Klein is a former hypnotist who misses the money she once made. Jessica Hoard denies she is attempting to reanimate Boris Karloff for breeding purposes. Both as an archaeologist and a horror fan, Richard Fuller digs old, dead things. B.G. Hilton once lived in a haunted house. It was not very interesting. Angel Zapata once found $700 inside an encyclopedia he plucked from the trash. Tara Hall is a metal shop worker plagued by nightmares and blood-hungry deer-flies. Merideth Grue goes coo coo for paper cuts and can't figure out why the stationary aisle is always moving. Lucy Pireel thinks her fascination with undetectable garden poisons makes for good dinner conversation. Margaret Elysia Garcia would rather have an alien child than one more human child. James Ebersole has nightmares of being strangled by his own umbilical cord while being born. Michelle DePaepe is a zombie author and the ghoul with the dragon tattoo. Tucker Lee writes to remember‌except when he writes to forget. Danielle LaPorta used to practice writing with her left hand to become ambidextrous. Kirby Light has actually been dead for five decades now. Lars R. Trodson has been seen lurking about H.P. Lovecraft's grave. Joseph J. Patchen is deathly afraid of coolats. It only takes two drinks to make Nate Worrell look sexy. Bartender, pour us another round! Cheers! 62


Call for Submissions

Anniversary From the Depths Issue Winter 2012 Haunted Waters Press Open Calls for Submissions: From the Depths: Winter Issue 2012 Penny Fiction: A Flash Fiction Writing Competition Online Literary Content

From the Depths: Winter Issue 2012 Theme: A Life Less Ordinary, Exceptional Works of Poetry & Fiction Media: Electronic/Digital (Print issues forthcoming.) Publication Date: December 2012 Deadline: November 30, 2012 The anniversary issue of From the Depths will feature serious, character driven works focusing on the human experience. We are looking for elegantly written fiction and poetry that create an emotional connection with the reader. Think love and loss, triumph over adversity, defining moments in an otherwise mundane life, desperate measures in desperate times, ordinary people and extraordinary circumstances, the ends justify the means. Characters should be well developed, interesting, and complex, and may be morally or emotionally flawed. Good does not always have to prevail. While a fairy tale ending is fine, it must be believable and hard won.  Poetry should be clear, meaningful and accessible. With attention to detail, it should capture a moment and create a snapshot from a life less ordinary. Penny Fiction: A Flash Fiction Writing Competition Penny Dreadful is accepting works of flash fiction for the third installment of Penny Fiction in the Winter 2012 issue of From the Depths. Your challenge: Impress us in 50 words or less. Entries are not bound by themes, just seriously good writing. Email your entry to pennyfiction @ hauntedwaterspress.com. Include one interesting fact about yourself in 13 words or less. Make it good or Penny will get out her ever feared red pen and make you appear more interesting. Online Literary Content Ideal for writers who prefer not to be bound by theme based submissions, we continue to accept works of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry for our online literary content. Works submitted here will be always be considered for upcoming issues of From the Depths. For more details & submission links please visit Haunted Waters Press Submissions.

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From the Depths Fall 2012

Production Notes Cover design by Susan Warren Utley. “Dark & Dreadful” is a derivative work of photographer Driscoll’s Driscoll Red used with permission and courtesy of morgueFile.com. Cover fonts includes Ghoulish, Horrorfind, and Needleteeth all Sinister Fonts courtesy of Chad Savage and Sinister Visions, Inc as well as Mom’s Typewriter by Christoph Mueller. Fonts used throughout the issue include Ghoulish, Horrorfind, Needleteeth, October Crow, Ghastly Panic, Zombie Holocast, Unquiet Spirits, Exquisite Corpse (all from Sinister Visions, Inc.) and Times New Roman, Mom’s Typewriter, Cracked, Baskerville, Roman Antique, Royal, Perpetual, PaintyPaint, LaBrit, The King & Queen’s Font, Lucida Calligraphy, James Fajardo, and uncletypewriter. Layout completed in Pages from Apple. Artwork created in ArtRage Studio Pro from Ambient Design and Sketch Club for iPad. Artistic image manipulation on PostworkShop from Xycod, Paint It from Corel, and Color Splash Studio from MacPhun LLC. From the Depths is created on a Mac.

Credits & Permissions In addition to many of the copyrighted images and artwork listed below, some of the images in this issue are photographs or derivative works of photographs which exist within the public domain either by gift, copyright expiration, or they were created by a government employee during the course of work. We at Haunted Waters Press would like to acknowledge and thank the original creators, artists, and photographers, for without their contributions, this issue would be incomplete. Special acknowledgment and thanks goes out to morgueFile.com and morgueFile contributors for donating free high resolution digital photographs for use in both private and commercial projects. They are an incredibly talented and creative group of photographers and artists. We would like to acknowledge the following contributors and their works: Page C 2-3 4-5 7-8

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Credit Cover design by Susan Warren Utley. “Dark & Dreadful” is a derivative work of photographer Driscoll’s Driscoll Red. Derivative work of Mossy Tree (working title) by talia_phoenix. Artwork by Susan Warren Utley. The Birds is a derivative work of photographer Driscoll’s Driscoll Spookhouse. Dark & Dreadful Desktop by Susan Warren Utley, a derivative work of Old Bag by renguerra, Nails by Susan Warren Utley, Wood (working title) by bosela, Garlic (working title) by greenfinger, Knife Blade (working title) by alexfrance and Silver Bullet (working title) by mconnors, Scattered Pennies is a derivative work of Penny by earl53 also featured on pages 8-11, 19, 25, 33, 35, 36, 39, 41, 50, and 58. Feeding Time is a derivative work by Susan Warren Utley of Bed Four by seeman, Cat’s Eyes (working title) by blary54, and Claw Marks gifted to the public domain by TriipleThreat. Taking Flight is a derivative work of Fog by talia_phoenix.


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Bubbles is a derivative work of Imagen by imelenchon. Knock Knock is a derivative work by Susan Warren Utley of Blue Door, a photograph by Savannah Renée Warren © May 2012 from the collection Architecture of Charlotte; Horror by wintersixfour; Peephole (working title) by conejoaureo; Blood by chelle. Full Moon Lake is a derivative work by Susan Warren Utley of Orange Sunset Clouds Behind Winter Tree Branches, photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com and Full Moon (working title) by greyerbaby. Someone to Watch Over Me is a derivative work by Susan Warren Utley of The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1886 painting by John Singer Sargent and Spooky doll (working title) by anitapatterson. Night of the Living Dead, 1968, public domain. Derivative work of Misc. Bullets by xandert. Nails by Susan Warren Utley. Leaving Home is a derivative work by Susan Warren Utley based on Girl with Bike photo by Susan Warren Utley, Window (working title) photo by percypants, and Boards (working title) by ppdigital. Twilight Zone by wintersixfour Mining Town at Dawn is a derivative work of Closeup of an Old Coal Company Mining Town of Red Ash Virginia by photographer Jack Corn, EPA, April 1974, a public domain image and Driscoll’s Driscoll Red. Ellie Under the Stairs by Susan Warren Utley © September 2012. Cloak of Night by Susan Warren Utley is a derivative work of photographer Driscoll’s Driscoll Red, Mauve Wall Wind by robenmarie, and Shadow Man (working title) by gladtobeout. Derivative work of Pills (working title) by ppdigital. Scarecrow by Susan Warren Utley. Spooky House by hotblack. Derivative work of Savannah Renée’s photo The Edge. Derivative work of Boot Snow by penywise. Photograph by Toni Frissell at Weeki Wachee spring, Florida, USA, 1947. Gifted to the public domain by Tone Frissell. Pearl River backwater in Mississippi by Charlie Brenner from Jackson Mississippi, USA, 10 May 2009. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Derivative work of Old Bag by renguerra and Typewriter (working title) by mzacha. Inverted Pentagram by Ilmari Karonen via Wikimedia Commons. Salt (working title) by mconnors. By 百楽 based on File:Irish clover.jpg CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775. Public domain. Tombstones is a derivative work of Orange Sunset Clouds Behind Winter Tree Branches, photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com and Full Moon (working title) by greyerbaby and Tombstone graves by photostogo2. Derivative work of Savannah Renée’s photo Abandoned Tunnel. Derivative work of Savannah Renée’s photo Dilapidated.

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From the Depths is a publication of HAUNTED WATERS PRESS For more information please visit: http://www.hauntedwaterspress.com Or email us at: info@hauntedwaterspress.com


From the Depths, Fall 2012: A Literary Journal