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Volume 1 Issue 4

Contents Flash Fiction

1 The War in Fall .......................................... Steve Chantos

12 A Place at the Table ................................. Wallace Boothill 18 Yeast Rolls ........................................ E. Lillith McDermot 32 The Light ................................................... C. M. Sanders

Short Stories

5 The Feast of the New World .................. Philip W. Kleaver

21 The Legend of the 80lb Coon .......... Quinn Cunningham

Poetry

16 The Tragic Face of Comedy ......................... Fer D. R. Son

Riding Shotgun

15 Cover Artist Spotlight ............................. Christian Milik


Editorial November 25th, 2016

T

hanksgiving is a strange holiday for the horror

Our Staff David M. Wilson Editor

fan, because there isn't much that is horrible

about it ... giving thanks and being thankful ...

Jesse Hart

eating food that tastes great ... spending time with

Proofreader

those that you love. What could be bad about that?

There have been, in the past, attempts at

creating Thanksgiving Scares, but these attempts don't escape the campy, goofy effect that is done so well in Thankskilling, or, for instance, when WKRP Radio celebrated the holiday by tossing turkys out of a helicopter overtop a shopping mall

Want to join the team? Contact Us: deadlightsmagazine@gmail.com

while on air, the turkeys still alive, of course. "As God as my witness, I thought Turkey's could fly ..." or "They're hitting the ground like bags of wet cement!" ... need I say more?

So, this holiday, for horror fans, can be a little goofy with what material we've been left to sift

through as we move toward happier holidays, I guess. Of course, that's just a generalization. After all, you could be thankful for those who are not thankful for you in return. You could be eating food that tastes great; it'd better, in order to cover up the arsenic laced within it. What if your loved ones are spending time with you in order to see just how long it takes for a turkey, stuffed with razor blades, to makes its way through your digestional tract. One. Last. Time.

See? Thanksgiving can be creepy! So, enjoy!

—Dave

Thanksgiving, 2016


November 25th, 2016


The War In Fall Steve Chantos Steve lives in E. Central Illinois with his wife and two kids. The scenery leaves a lot to be desired, but when the zombie apocalypse comes, he'll be able to see those suckers coming for miles!

T

he echo of the gunshot faded well before his surprise at being hit. He bolted, running for the cover of the trees. Although he was bleeding, he would try to make

it back to camp eventually and warn the others. He had strayed farther from the group than he would have liked. It was necessary, however, since it was his turn to do recon in case the enemy was moving in their direction.

He didn't dare return directly now, knowing the snipers would track him using the blood trail.

As long as he could remain conscious, he could stay ahead of them. He knew these woods as well as any of the natives here, and was determined to lead the enemy in as deep as he could.

“This way!”

He heard one of them shout, not knowing how many there were. He could judge by the volume

of the shout that he was still maybe seventy-five yards ahead. As long as he could keep up a steady pace he should be fine. The woods were dense, making a fast pace virtually impossible. This would work in his favor. As long as he didn't come to an impasse himself—a solid thicket or cliff's edge—he was confident of his chances.

He continued in the opposite direction of the camp, using all his instincts and the wisdom of

his elders and the tribe to keep himself alive. The terrain was growing less familiar and he knew that there were hostile tribes in the area that would try and take his life just as ruthlessly as his current pursuers. For now, he just kept his legs moving and his eyes and ears open.

He didn't know how far he had gone—it felt like a mile or more—but he knew now that he

was getting close to the river. He could smell it, and that smell lifted his spirits and gave him hope. But he felt himself becoming physically fatigued as well, and so gobbled down some berries that he found along the way. The sugar would hopefully be enough to keep his energy up long enough to 1 Steve Chantos


November 25th, 2016 elude them. But that might not matter now ...

He came to a clearing at the riverbank. Just as he had hoped, in the distance he saw the fierce

warrior tribe fishing in the river. He moved back into the cover of the woods to remain unnoticed, and made his way steadily toward the tribe. He got as close as possible, even close enough that he felt he risked being detected if one of the warriors passed nearby.

Now he must wait.

He could hear his pursuers crashing through the brush behind him and knew it was a matter of

only a minute or less until they were upon him. He would wait for just the right moment and then run onto the shore, making a commotion—one that would alert the warrior tribe and hopefully allow him to make his escape. He moved even slightly further into the woods, enough so that the approaching snipers wouldn't be able to see the nearby warriors. The great warriors, however, were certainly already aware of the raucous snipers as they moved closer.

“Over here!” one of the snipers yelled as they grew nearer, followed by gleeful hollering. “I think

I see him!”

It was now or never. He dashed out into the clearing and tried to attract as much attention as

possible.

It worked. Several warriors that were already investigating the noise saw him and came running

flat out in his direction. They were almost on him when the snipers emerged from the woods and slid down the muddy slope to the shoreline.

“Oh, shit!” one of them cried.

“Grizzlies!” screamed the other.

The two men raised their shotguns, but too late. Several of the warrior tribe—four large male

grizzlies—were already upon them. Two blasts sounded, but both loads of buckshot traveled errantly and harmlessly into the sky. The deafening blasts were quickly replaced by the ferocious roaring and growling of the massive bears, and the desperate screams of the two men.

He watched just long enough to see teeth ripping through clothing, and then tearing apart

flesh. The red life-fluid common to all the beasts of the woods quickly began to spray and flow. Even these human hunters, it seemed, shared this in common with them all.

The screaming stopped abruptly but the feasting continued.

Realizing that another of the warrior bears may come for him if he lingered, he flapped his

one good wing and scrambled back into the woods. Sure enough, a young grizzly pursued briefly but The War In Fall 2


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS seemed to quickly realize that a bird, even a large one like himself, could easily outmaneuver a bear in these dense woods.

As he made his way back in the general direction of camp, it occurred to him that, although the

flock lived in fear of the bear tribe (as did all the animal tribes in the woods), today he was grateful to them.

For reasons unknown to him and his flock, the deadly harassment of these human snipers—and

there would surely be more in the coming days—would last only until around the time of the next full moon, and then the hunting would stop until the spring.

He retraced his path back toward camp. After a while, an impulse welled up in his throat. He

stretched his neck and let out as loud a gobble-cry as he could manage and then stopped momentarily to listen. A few seconds later, he heard one of the flock return his call. It was faint and distant, but it was definitely one of the flock. They had sent out other toms to find him and bring him home. As he let out an even louder cry, amplified by sheer excitement and gratitude, he felt his shoulder loosen up and found he could flap his injured wing slightly. The bleeding had stopped. He was sure he would fly again by spring.

3 Steve Chantos


ODD MAN OUT, the newest novel from JAMES NEWMAN, for sale now on Amazon!


The Feast of the New World Philip W. Kleaver Philip W. Kleaver lives in Baltimore but spends the holidays in his some state of Massachusetts... you know, Lovecraft country. He drew on memories from a third-grade visit to Plimoth Plantation--and a little research--to write this tale. Philip's stories have appeared in previous issues of Shotgun Horror Clips and on his website, pwkleaver.wordpress. com. Follow him on Twitter @pwkleaver. His favorite Thanksgiving dish is his mother's cornbread stuffing. (Hi, ma!)

H

e feared the pale men. Their sallow faces and deep-set eyes made them look close to death, as if they had spent too long dwelling in the borderlands between the sleeping and waking worlds.

He feared their strange, guttural tongue, the way they whispered to each other when he was near. And he feared their magic, the mysterious totems that belched fire. But in spite of his trembling limbs and ragged breaths, Nanepashemet—“son of the new moon”—trod slowly towards their camp, dead leaves breaking underfoot.

Desperation drove him here, to accept their bargain. He had seen his people, the people of the

first light, grow weaker as kin perished—victims of raids from the north and west, or the queer sickness that caused the infected to turn the color of cinquefoils and cough up blood. The pale men offered aid, protection for his folk. In return, they asked for the secrets of growing the Three Sisters—maize, beans, and squash—in this ground, mother to Nanepashemet but a stranger to these men who had come from across the sea.

And so, the slender young hunter walked on, troubled. In the deerskin satchel that hung off his

shoulder, he carried seeds and two rabbit carcasses. The last orange light bled out of the sky; shadows deepened along the path. Normally, the forest felt like his home. It nurtured and provided its bounty to his people. But tonight, it was almost unfamiliar. The black silhouettes of the trees jutted up like skeletal fingers out of the earth. Something rustled in the fallen leaves nearby. He remembered the tales told by his grandmother of pukwudgie, goblins that crept in the night to spoil the food stores or steal away infants, or the Hobomok, a spirit of darkness and evil. He had once heard of a headman 5 Philip W. Kleaver


November 25th, 2016 of another tribe who feasted while his kin starved. Belly full, he slept soundly, ignoring the pleas of his villagers. The Hobomok had crept out of the shadows and cut off the headman’s eyelids so that he could never find rest again.

Nanepashemet thought he had outgrown such stories, now that he was a man, but in the

darkness between the trees he swore he saw pinched, leering faces and the unblinking eyes of the avaricious headman. The wind sounded like mournful cries. In his bones, Nanepashemet could feel evil around him and ahead of him, at the camp of the pale men.

He shivered, suddenly cold. He had sunk into terror like a man stepping into a river, surprised

at its depth and hidden swiftness. His thoughts turned to Tuspaquin, who had disappeared in this stretch of forest three days ago. He had gone out hunting but never returned. Nanepashemet did not believe his friend was dead, but was perhaps still out there, wandering lost because of some malicious trickster spirit. Yet another reason to speak with the pale men. Though they were largely ignorant of the forest, they may have seen Tuspaquin or stumbled upon his trail.

A din of voices and music leaked through the trees. He was getting closer now. The camp of

the pale men was made up of a cluster of small hovels, surrounded by tilled plots of earth. The hunter noted the structures were poorly-made, with cracks between the boards that would let in the cold in the coming winter. Despite their power, the pale men knew little of this land. A larger meetinghouse stood at one edge of the settlement. The village surrounded by a wall of stripped logs, ending in jagged points. Nanepashemet approached the lone gate in the wall. A figure stirred, emerging out of the shadows.

“Who goes there?” the figure spoke.

“A messenger, from the Indians,” Nanepashemet answered. The name the pale men had given

his people lingered on his tongue distastefully, like a bitter herb. His kin believed in the power of word and names. Long ago, the Creator had brought the spirits of Rock, Fire, Wind, and Water into existence by speaking their names into the endless void.

The guard leaned forward, his hand resting on the dagger in his belt.

“Ah, our man Samuel! Come for the feast, have ye? Goodman Marshall has been waiting for

you.”

The guard smiled, revealing a set of sharp teeth, and stepped aside, motioning towards

the entranceway. Inside, the camp was eerily still. Snatches of conversation drifted over from the meetinghouse. All of the village must have gathered there. Nanepashemet strode towards the imposing structure, passing between the pale men’s cabins. His footfalls sounded peculiar, as if they were coming The Feast of the New World

6


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS from somewhere else. His throat was dry. Two moons ago, he had found a cluster of roundhouses while hunting. In one of them was a mother and child who had succumbed to fever. He thought of them now, in the emptiness of the pale man’s settlement. Although voices still floated over from the meetinghouse, Nanepashemet felt like he was moving over dead man's ground.

Approaching the threshold of the meetinghouse, he raised a fist and knocked. The door swung

open, and he stepped inside.

Rough, calloused hands grabbed at Nanepashemet, holding him fast. The pale men on either

side of him smirked. He struggled, but the men were burly, with the build of soldiers. The air in the meetinghouse was thick, humid. It reeked of perspiration.

“Samuel! Wuneekeesuq, welcome! I’ll speak English, if you don’t mind. My men don’t have the

same ear for your savage tongue that I do. Release him, please.”

Goodman Marshall stood across the room from Nanepashemet. An imposing man, wide and

tall and baldheaded, he was clad in a long, crimson robe and stood behind a low altar.

“Did you bring gifts, my boy? Please, come here.”

Nanepashemet walked across the room, staring straight ahead to avoid meeting the gazes of the

pale men. In the low candlelight of the meeting hall, their eyes seemed like deep pits. The room seemed to grow warmer, and sweat beaded on his forehead and in his armpits. He took the rucksack from his shoulders and passed it over. Goodman Marshall reached into the bag and drew out its contents.

“So, it appears your people have agreed to our bargain, yes?”

“Yes.”

“A meager offering, but I shan’t overlook its symbolic value. Thank you, boy.”

Goodman Marshall placed the rabbits on the table, alongside a clutter of odd fetishes: a

glimmering, golden chalice, its stem in the shape of a bony arm; vials of multicolored powders and liquids; a dried plant, reddish in hue, the likes of which Nanepashemet had never seen in the forest; the skulls of voles, mice, and foxes; a small onyx statue, depicting a creature with claws, tentacles, and the wings of a bat; a long, warped dagger the shape of lightning in the sky; a rotting eel, its eyes dull and clouded. He upended the pouch of seeds into a mortar bowl, bone-white, and crushed them into a powder. Nanepashemet opened his mouth to speak.

“Do not fret, Samuel!” Goodman Marshall quickly spoke. “We have more seeds! These ones

here, the gift of your people, will be used well. I’ve heard tales of your shamans creating tinctures and potions that have certain effects. We’ve tried to learn what we can, from you and our other Indian emissaries. A fascinating study—ah, but how rude of me! You must be hungry, yes?” 7 Philip W. Kleaver


November 25th, 2016 “Yes.”

“Let us eat, then, for this is a time of thanksgiving! Your people and mine, together forging an

alliance to tame this new world! Well, not so new to you, I suppose.”

Goodman Marshall snapped his fingers and five of the pale men disappeared through a side

door into a darkened antechamber. They returned with plates, piled high with steaming cod, roast duck, root vegetables, peas, and fresh bread. The plates were distributed amongst the group, requiring several trips. At last, one was placed in Nanepashemet’s hands. Goodman Marshall motioned towards a bench on one side of the altar. Nanepashemet ate ravenously, hungry from the long journey through the forest. The pale men dug in; their leader hovered around the altar, measuring out various powders and liquids and combining them in the golden cup.

“Samuel,” he intoned, and the young hunter glanced up from his plate. “I gather that you fear

me and my men. Is that a fair assessment?” He did not wait for an answer. “And I understand, of course. After all, you savages are uneducated, unaware that there is a larger world beyond the confines of your forest and seacoasts.” He licked his lips, then abruptly brought his pestle down on one of the rodent skulls, crushing it to pieces. He swept the pieces into his palm, sprinkled them into the cup, then continued.

“We know what it is to fear, as well. You see, in our home country of England, we were persecuted.

That is to say, ah … hunted, chased down, if that makes more sense to you. The church and crown tried to deny us our righteous beliefs. So, we came forth to begin again, in a new land ...”

As he spoke, the same two men who had grabbed Nanepashemet came over and sat on either

side of him. He stole a look at them out of the corner of his eye, trying to keep his breathing steady. Goodman Marshall continued with his preparations on the altar.

“A new land, though it is occupied by your ilk. At first we considered killing you—”

Some of the priest’s words had been lost on the hunter, but he understood these. He tried to

bolt up, but was halted by the pale men sharing his bench. His plate clattered to the floor.

“Please, Samuel. I said we considered it. After all, your people and mine have had our skirmishes.

It would be simple to address the issue through force. For what moral harm is there in slaying a godless heathen, a savage, with no more knowledge of the divine than a mangy cur?”

Cold sweat gathered on the hunter’s chest, the small of his back, his groin. He swallowed

painfully.

“But would it not be better to convert, to baptize you into the glory of our faith? Let me pose

a question, Samuel.” The Feast of the New World 8


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS

“Yes?” Nanepashemet croaked.

“Why do good men suffer? You have seen it—your people grew ill and died in agony. What

brought this plague upon you? Was there any cause? I think not. The most upright man could be gored by an animal when gathering wildflowers for his goodwife. The elders in the English church would say it was because of God’s will, because of the way ordained for each new babe in the patterns of the very stars themselves.”

Goodman Marshall grew louder, his voice filling the room.

“Such men are fools! There is no heavenly path, there are no universal scales of justice! Our

lives, our world, the being that those in the church call ‘God,’ all things … are nothing!”

The leader’s eyes were wild, and he gnashed his teeth and spat as his words reached a fever pitch.

“You, Samuel, and I, and our men, are but figments in the dreaming mind of a blind idiot god,

adrift in the black waves of the infinite. All life, a demented vision seen behind closed eyes. There is no order, no rational design to this universe! All of our existence is as immaterial as the very air itself! I reach out, and grasp nothing—” (his hands clawed madly in front of him) “—just as we are nothing but the thoughts, the dreams of the Old One!”

The pale men began murmuring a chant, not in the English tongue that Nanepashemet had

come to learn, but in harsh, bestial noises. He heard a clamor coming from the antechamber, a shouting that sounded almost familiar.

“And so, we worship, we prepare sacrifices, to rouse the Old One from his slumber! When he

wakes, we will be brought into existence in a new world, a new reality. And with your savage people brought into the fold, with your voices, we shall succeed!”

A froth had gathered on Goodman Marshall’s lips, dribbling down and leaving wet marks on

the front of his robe. The antechamber door crashed open, and a cohort of pale men dragged out a struggling native. It was Tuspaquin, his body covered in welts and bruises, his breechcloth torn. Nanepashemet tried to rise again, but his guards gripped tighter to his arms, their fingernails digging into the flesh. Helpless, he watched with mouth agape as his friend was brought over to the altar and lashed to its front.

The alien drone of the pale men’s voices buzzed in his ears. Goodman Marshall held the golden

chalice in his left hand and the dagger in his right.

Nanepashemet was trembling now. He prayed, trying to drone out the evil chanting that echoed

in his skull. Tuspaquin looked from face to face. His eyes were full of tears. Goodman Marshall stood behind him and placed the cup below his chin. Then, with one smooth, rapid motion, he drew the 9 Philip W. Kleaver


November 25th, 2016 dagger across Tuspaquin’s throat. Blood flowed into the chalice and spattered on the dirt floor.

Nanepashemet retched and gagged. Goodman Marshall raised the cup to his lips and drank

deeply of the sanguine potion, staining his mouth with gore. He walked slowly towards Nanepashemet, holding the golden cup. The pale men stared at him, mouths moving in unison.

The young native recoiled. He saw the blood of his kinsman soak into the soil. He thought of

his grandmother, the spells and prayers she would whisper in the night to stave off malignant forces or to summon protection. He thought of the legends of his people, the Pukwudgie, the Hobomok, the Thunderbird, the horned serpents … and then the older stories, of creatures that stalked the land long before man existed. Desperation and fear had brought him here, and they were his way out.

With all his strength, Nanepashemet bellowed a twisting, dancing series of syllables, an ululation

that sounded like metal on stone, like the howl of dying animals, like the tearing of the fabric of the world: a name.

The bizarre tones emanating from the hunter caused the pale men to go silent. All was still for a

moment. The air dropped in pressure, as if a thunderstorm loomed. The men could feel a low rumble, deep in their intestines. Then, from outside, a scream. The room shook, causing the instruments of Goodman Marshall’s black magic to tumble to the earth and the men to lose their balance. Clouds of dust drifted down from the ceiling. The earth trembled again. One of the pale men hollered as a beam fell on his legs, which cracked with a sound like lightning hitting a treetrunk. The walls groaned. The congregation fled, pouring out of the meetinghouse into the night. Nanepashemet’s guards hoisted him up and walked him outside. Just outside the doorway, they froze. One of them gasped, the sound catching in his throat.

Above the treetops of the forest, it looked as if an enormous shadow were cast across the heavens

itself. A living mountain blocked out the light of the stars, a creature of incomprehensible size. The colossus had a bear’s bulk, supported on countless thin, segmented legs. Whipping rope-like appendages materialized out of its flesh, struck the air madly, and disappeared.

The lumbering mass approached the pale men’s camp. They drew their weapons and fired, but

the behemoth did not stop, nor register any reaction to the attack. It was just outside the perimeter wall. A long, black limb, dripping with slime, emerged from the bulk of the creature and stretched towards the gatekeeper. It plunged into him and burst out of the other side. He screamed in terror and confusion, like a lost child. The creature moved its claw from side to side and tore the man in two. His innards landed in the dirt. Pandemonium erupted, as the pale men tried to flee and the creature cut them down. The Feast of the New World 10


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS

Nanepashemet’s guards released their grip and ran back into the meetinghouse, slamming the

door behind them. Freed, the Son of the Moon turned towards the leader of the pale men. The priest’s face was ashen; he mumbled to himself incoherently.

“Wh-what can this be? A messenger … another vision?”

“You spoke of the Old One, white man. We know him, too, though we are wise enough not to

seek him. But there are elder things you have not conceived of. This land, and her people, are older than you think …”

The lunatic screams of Goodman Marshall filled the night air. Nanepashemet was gone before

they ended.

11 Philip W. Kleaver


A Place at the Table Wallace Boothill Wallace Boothill has a real name and an apartment in Baltimore, where he lives and works as a teacher ...

I

have all these memories, old ones. People talk about short term memory and long term memory, but you really only need your long-term memory when you’re trying to figure out where it all went

wrong. Trouble is, some of the memories I have, I’m not sure if they really happened or if they were just dreams. Dreams feel so much more real when you’re a kid. What I saw must have been a dream, because I know it isn’t possible, even though it feels as real as anything else I’ve seen. I know at least part of it is real, because it happened every Thanksgiving dinner before and since: Grandma set an extra place at the table.

“It’s for your Grandpa,” she told me. “You never met him because he passed away when your

mama was only a little older than you are now. Those are his ashes up there on the mantle, so we can remember that the people who love u s are never really gone. Your Grandpa loved Thanksgiving dinner and I know he’d want to be here with his family, so I’ll always set a place for him.”

I recall Grandma lighting candles in the center of the table. The dim, tender light made the

food appear all the more enticing . Everyone—Grandma, aunt, uncle, Cousin Lana, mom, dad, and my little sister—we all smiled down at the food bound for our growling stomachs. I can picture that particular meal to this very day, and how the muscles twitched in my jaw, ready to chew. This bodily command interrupted, as it always was, by the spontaneous joining of hands around the table, I looked to Grandpa’s empty space and saw my mother’s and Grandma’s hands resting on either side of the placemat. We bowed our heads and closed our eyes as Grandma began grace.

“For food in a world where many walk in hunger …”

I always wondered as a child, what would happen if you opened your eyes during grace? It seemed 12


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS an unspeakable blasphemy, in the primal way the soul understands blasphemy before the mind even has a word for it. For this reason, of course, I had to open my eyes. And that’s how I saw the thing sitting in Grandpa’s chair.

“… for faith in a world where many walk in fear … ”

It was roughly in the shape of a man, draped in a ragged, dark gray cloth that hung heavily over

its skull, as though soaked in water. The specter radiated a gray light from within, a sickly glow that dimmed the light of its surroundings. The security of hearth and home drained from the room as my eyes rested on this decrepit wraith.

“… for friends in a world where many walk alone …”

I saw the skin of its hands, like dead leaves wrapped around twisted bones , one gripping the

right hand of my Grandma, the other holding my mother’s left. Their eyes were clenched shut and their faces looked like pale wax. If I’d have kept my eyes shut, I never would have known a thing.

“… we give thanks, O Lord.”

The thing in Grandpa’s chair tilted its head a single degree in my direction. A hole in its rags

revealed to me a single eye with a tiny orange flame as a pupil. The flame flickered and vanished along with the light of the candles, extinguished by a sudden wind from nowhere. The stench of decaying food assaulted my nostrils. Looking away from the creature, I saw countless maggots writhing in the stuffing and cranberry sauce. The turkey had suddenly shriveled with rot. Outside the window, the trees had shed their remaining leaves, followed by their largest limbs which splintered in the barren dirt.

“Please, Lord, guard the souls of those gathered at this table …”

The hands I held in mine, my father to my right, my cousin Lana on my left, felt suddenly

cold and brittle. Where my family sat moments before, I saw limp skeletons with patched in flaking gray skin. In the corner of my eye, I heard my cousin’s jawbone crack off her skull and clatter onto her plate. My eyes clamped shut as the hands I held crumbled to dust. I said my own grace, screaming in my head for God to stop this.

“… and watch over the souls of our faithful departed in heaven. Amen.”

Again, I felt warm hands in mine. Even before I opened my eyes, I sensed light returning to the

room. Though the pleasant smells returned, my appetite did not. My father reached across the table to pile his plate with sweet potatoes; Cousin Lana nudged me and told me to pass the butter dish. Soon, the only sounds around the table were messily chewing, and the clinking of silverware.

Like I said, the further you go back in your memory, the more you confuse them with dreams.

13 Wallace Boothill


November 25th, 2016 Of the small, handful of things I know I saw that Thanksgiving, though, while everyone else was busy serving and stuffing themselves, I remember my mother and my Grandma holding hands over grandpa’s plate.

A Place at the Table 14


Cover Artist

SPOTLIGHT

Christian Milik Shotgun Horror Clips: What got you into art/what forms do you use and love the most? Christian Milik: I have been sketching and drawing my whole life. I used to work with pencils, inks, and Pantone markers, but more and more my art tends to be digital using Photoshop and a Wacom tablet.  I love the look of strong lines and fine detail.  The Pilgrim is one of my more gestural and abstract works.  I also enjoy graphic design and the creation of logos and visual identity work. SHC: What got you into horror art and/or what inspired your drawing(s)? CM: I think I was first drawn to horror art when I ran the Ravenloft campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons.  A world of medieval fantasy horror really stuck with me as unique and inspiring.  More recently I have been writing and drawing works inspired by the world of H.P. Lovecraft.  This drawing (The Pilgrim) was meant to evoke ideas of witch hunts, draconian justice, and the early spirit of Thanksgiving  where pilgrims were thankful to be alive in a harsh and unforgiving new world. SHC: What are your favorite horror authors/movies? CM: H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman and some of my favorite authors.  Alien, Jaws, The Duel, Silence of the Lambs, Christine, Tremors, and The Thing are some of my favorite horror films.

Get ahold of him! http://christian-lee.deviantart.com/ http://www.redbubble.com/people/christian-milik Shotgun Horror Clips would like to thank Mr. Milik for use of "The Pilgrim". 15


The Tragic Face of Comedy A Poem by Fer D. R. Son A crow cackled on the horizon, Violently tearing through the soft sounds of a midsummer night’s breeze. Chimes of an old barn clattered against each other, Inviting a placid, shadowy figure to suddenly appear from the deep gray scenery. A girl, dressed in nothing more but a robe, A robe torn from the bottom left of the girl’s torso, right down to her ankles. As the girl slowly approached the perishing barn, A tree emitted out of the heavy fog. She jostled her head towards the great tree, Cracking a slight, mischievous smile. The fragile girl’s equilibrium decayed the closer she became to the immense tree. Almost, as if each step she took stole more and more control over her body, Like something was possessing her. Once she reached the massive structure, The girl stood directly under the biggest visible branch, A pipe-shaped branch hanging down from the frenzy of leaves. The tiny figurine raised both her hands to form a circle outline, The tree’s silhouette took the shape of a masked clown against the bold shine of the moon. Her face gleamed of anxiousness, nostalgia, and a slight bit of worry. As she stood in the blank midst, alone, with her dreary robe and hair rustling in the air, Closely in a synchronized formation with the leaves of the masked clown. Behind her! A silent man appeared with a smile that covered his face from cheek to cheek. The man intimidatingly reached for the girl’s shoulder, 16


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS To hoist her into a hidden weapon tucked under his leather belt. Just an inch away from his target, The girl turned around strikingly, As she softly sang an old German nursery rhyme, Maikäfer Flieg. The man took a step back in recoil, with an abashed look, Immediately wiping the wide grin off his face. Once his shock had subsided, The man forced the expressionless and still singing girl to the feet of the tree.

17 Fer D. R. Son


Yeast Rolls E. Lillith McDermott E. Lillith McDermott writes dark fiction from the demonic heart of middle America where she collects spell books, apothecary bottles and the tears of her enemies. Her fiction can be found such places as www. dailysciencefiction.com and The Colored Lens. She periodically geeks out about topics such as the best horror movies for kids and what beer to pair with family drama on GeekMom.com. She, and her work, can be found at www.elillithmcdermott.com.

A

fter bouncing emails across town like an invasion of binary fleas, food club settled on a southern picnic for Labor Day. The next wave of emails brought the required bargaining for food choices

and assignments.

Ever since the unfortunate incident with the sugar-crusted pork and cooking sherry, I’d been

relegated to side dishes. My homework included a “southern salad”—understood to mean an item with no vegetables—and yeast rolls. While a marshmallow Ambrosia recipe gave my ink jet printer type II diabetes, I surveyed the bag of thaw-and-bake rolls in the freezer. I loved these rolls—served them at every holiday—but if food club had one understood rule, it was that members were to try to make, by hand, assigned items.

I headed into the living room. The printer noise quieted as I squatted in front of my swollen

bookcase. From the bottom shelf came a glint of red. I teased the book from between a Betty Crocker primer and a never opened Bobby Flay glossie. My grandmother’s metal recipe binder burned cold in my hands. I’d forgotten its heft.

It was the only thing I’d pocketed after the funeral—bailing on the clean-out sale. My father

had sided with the bitch, so it wasn’t like I’d have been welcome anyway. I smiled, remembering the thrill of stealing away from the finally silent brick house for the last time—her most valued possession in my purse.

I grabbed my vegetable-free salad recipe and headed into the kitchen. Yeast rolls weren’t hard

to make—just time consuming. Within minutes, my kitchen looked like someone had set off a bottle 18


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS rocket in a bag of all-purpose flour. Finally, I closed the oven on my dough. My grandmother might have been cut from solid ice, but she could cook. I flipped through the red metal cook book while the warm-fuzzy smell of baking bread filled my house.

Fried Okra. Chicken Fried Steak. Fried Green Tomatoes.

Her misspelled scratches listed the best Southern Oklahoma specialties. My mouth watered

even as my arteries seized. The timer buzzed. Grabbing hot-pads, I yanked open the oven. The rolls were perfectly toasted—golden and crusty. I teased one out of the bunch, ripped it apart and savored the sweetness of tart yeast. I didn’t have many good childhood memories, but her teaching me to bake rolls was one I coveted. The recollection of my grandfather risking death to announce that my rolls were better than the originals always made me giggle. I could almost hear the bite in her responding voice.

“You think I’d let you get away with that?”

I spun. No remembered voice was that real, that full of venom. I choked. Floating, cloudy and

grey, the specter of my grandmother hovered in my kitchen table.

“I knew you’d take the book!” Her glee was obvious, even if her face was mostly see-through.

I shook my head. “I should have known—of course you’d do something like this.”

She floated to the end of the table, stepping out of the wood and becoming more corporeal with

each inch. I pulled my mother’s medallion from under my shirt. “You can’t hurt me—I’m protected!”

Her cackle sent momentary chills up my spine. “Your mother was never half the witch I was—

and you aren’t any better! Do you think some dime-store trinket she blessed can help you now? I’ve been planning this since you walked out on us—your paltry spells won’t last.” She pointed a milkywhite, and still arthritic, finger at my chest. My necklace turned to ice. Literally. I dropped it against my shirt, instantly regretted it. The cold drilled into my soul, stole my breath. Gritting my teeth, I yanked at the chain, disintegrating it into a million icicle slivers.

I shuffled back to the counter, fingers numb, and grabbed up the metal book. Turning my

necklace into a ghost version of dry ice was a cute trick, but I wasn’t one to roll over and play dead. If I could count on anything, it was my grandmother’s ability to underestimate me. “Let me guess, you cursed every recipe, didn’t you?”

She floated closer, ecto-goo dripping off her hazy smile. “They don’t call it soul food for nothing!”

I sighed—my mouth watering at the memory of okra and greens. “Well, my mom might not have been a high enough caliber witch to satisfy you, but she did teach me a thing or two.” I clicked on the gas burner, turned it to high. 19 E. Lillith McDermott


November 25th, 2016

My grandmother’s ghost screamed and exploded toward me as I flipped open the book and

dropped the pages into the flame. The specter, and my dreams of chicken-fried goodness, disappeared into columns of smoke. I tossed my suddenly moldy home-made rolls into the trash and pulled out my bag of frozen dough. A cursed recipe—what a bitch. But, knowing my grandmother, I probably should have expected it.

Yeast Rolls 20


The Legend of the 80lb Coon Quinn Cunningham I'm Quinn Cunningham, a young author from Indiana, working his way into the world of publication. My first published short story, "The Monster in the Closet," was accepted by DeadLights Magazine, and I have written a number of articles for the Hartford City News-Times. My advice to other authors is to keep sending in stories and keep writing even when it seems impossible. Publication has happened to me, so it can happen to you. Taken from Hartford City News-Times: “WOLF MAN” STILL AT LARGE “I never believed that crap. But that was before I saw him,” says witness. DON’T GO IN THE WOODS! The size of a bear, hairy, and with lots of teeth MORE “WOLF MAN” ACCOUNTS, HUNTERS SHOW UP MISSING With lives at stake now, it no longer seems like a hoax LOCAL FARMER’S LIVESTOCK FALL VICTIM TO “WOLF MAN” “If you believe it’s a hoax come look at what’s left of my cows,” says farmer. Taken from Muncie Star Press: SUPPOSED “WEREWOLF” REPORTS AROUND BLACKFORD COUNTY Deer Population Decimated, Adds Some Truth To Accounts Taken from Fox News Headlines: HARTFORD CITY AND SURROUNDING AREAS 21


November 25th, 2016 CLAIM LIVES LOST DUE TO “WOLF MAN” ATTACKS Small Town Begging For Attention, Right? Taken from Hartford City Nibshit Patrol Facebook page: We’re on the news for the wolfman! Here’s the video. Somebody shoot the damn thing so we all feel safe again ...

H

is name was Sandy and I didn’t like him. He was a loud, boisterous son of a bitch who thought the F-word had to show up at least twice in every sentence.

“Yeah, head on out to Stouver’s. I hope fuckin what’s-his-name has got his fat ass and his loud-ass

buddies off my fuckin property.”

Yeah, I thought, his loud-ass buddies. “That’s up here at the next mile, ain’t it?” Bill asked. “Yeah, so you might slow it down a bit. I gotta call John and ask him if any of them dumbass Larsons are out there, huntin ground I been huntin before they was in fuckin diapers,” Sandy sneered. He pulled out his phone and dialed a number, waiting for an answer, as Bill slowed down to about thirty. “Yeah… Anyone out there tonight? Yeah, I got Bill, Steve, his little brother, and me, and we was fixin to go coon huntin… You’re fuckin kiddin me… Oh, fuck them Larsons… I been out there before they could fuckin walk! I’ll whip their asses… No… Well, tell you what, we’ll be out there less’n an hour and if they show up, we leave… Yeah… And if they got somethin to say, they can fuckin say it to my face… Yeah… Bye.” He hung up. “So?” my older brother Steve asked. “Oh, them sons of bitches are gonna be out in like an hour to stop us from coon huntin. We’re just gonna have to hurry, but it’s fine cause we got other places to go. I hate them goddam Larsons, you know?” “I heard Gary Smith was up by The Pond and he found a whole tree full of coons last week, if you wanna go there,” Bill said. “Yeah, we might,but I got a whole lot of other places I ain’t even ever took you.” “Bullshit, unless you’ve been everywhere in the state. We’ve hunted like all these woods.” “You got a few nooks and crannies or something?” Steve added with a chuckle. “Like where you supposedly shot that eighty pound coon?” Bill and Steve burst out laughing. I thought: There’s no way

he shot an eighty pound coon. But, I didn’t laugh. Sandy wasn’t a guy you wanted to piss off. The Legend of the 80lb Coon 22


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS “Oh fuck you guys!” he said, but good-naturedly. “I told you I didn’t even have to let the fuckin dogs out. I just pulled up, got out, looked up at the sky and there that son of a bitch was, in a tree just off the side of the road, starin' right at me! Pow! Shot that fucker right on the end of the nose and he fell right out of the tree!” Bill and Steve sounded like they were about to die laughing. “Hey, hey, I ain’t done yet! Anyways, it took about a half hour to skin that son of a bitch, and when I laid him across the tailgate, his head was fallin' off one end, and his ass off the other!”

Even I laughed at this last part, because I could clearly picture a nearly human sized coon laying

across a tailgate with its head comically cocked down and to the side, with its tongue hanging out. It was almost cartoonish. I’d give it to the guy; he could tell a story. Our laughter died down as Bill turned at the next mile onto the gravel lane where John Stouver lived. I hoped we wouldn’t meet him. I hate meeting new people because it’s hard to be yourself around them at first. Steve says I’m just shy and that I’ll grow out of it eventually.

And, I thought with growing dismay, I desperately hope we don’t meet those guys Sandy was talking about. “You excited?” Steve asked me with a genuine smile. “Yeah!” It was my first time coon hunting. Sandy: “He speaks!” “Who? Dan? Yeah, he does …” “It’s just cause there’s an unfamiliar face in the car. He don’t wanna embarrass himself,” Sandy said. “I understand.” “He’ll get out of it before long,” Bill said. I wouldn’t though. I was hunting for the first time, I was the youngest one there, and I was with a new person that was grating on my nerves. Bill and Steve were both twenty-five, Sandy was at least thirty, and I was only twelve. But whatever, I was gonna have fun, anyways. Shoot, this was my first coon hunt! Bill pulled the truck around the big log cabin-style house, and came to a stop. “Man, those damn dogs never stop barking, do they?” Bill asked. “No they don’t. I pulled over one time and fuckin whopped Bandit right in the jaw, but it didn’t change nothin',” Sandy said. I know Steve told me that if we get coon dogs I can’t go treating them like pets because they’re not pets, they’re tools, so I can’t baby them, but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the dog. I mean, I hadn’t even really noticed the continuous drone of barks until they’d said something about it; I didn’t think he needed to be hit just for barking. 23 Quinn Cunningham


November 25th, 2016 “Here,” Steve said, and handed me a flashlight as we got out of the truck. The material my glove was made of was kind of slick against it, and I didn’t want to lose the flashlight, so I stuffed both gloves in my pants pocket along with my wallet and pocket knife. Just being out in the night air made me realize I had overdressed. It was chilly, but not really that cold. My hands were fine without the gloves too, so I took my toboggan off. I might even get hot

in these coveralls and coat once we get moving, I thought. My coat was made of warm Mossy Oak camouflage, and later I would realize what a great job it did protecting from thorns. Bill got out the synthetic Marlin .22 which belonged to my brother. It was tube-fed, held fifteen rounds, and was bolt-action. I had one almost exactly like it, but mine was wood and semi-auto. We had the same scope, although mine was silver and his was black. I didn’t know why we were only bringing one rifle; I guess we were just gonna take turns shooting the coons or something. I hoped that I would get to take a shot. Sandy (who was a lot shorter than he looked from when I saw him sitting down) opened the silver cage that contained the coon dogs and they sprang out like a jack-in-the-box. They were brown, black, and white, and would have been hard to tell apart except that Bandit’s entire muzzle, and up just above his eyes, was all black, so he looked like a bandit (ironic, since people say coons looked like bandits, too). He stayed at Sandy’s heels, panting and wagging his tail with excitement. The other dog, Bandit’s little brother, was named Winchester after the gun company. He ran off into the woods. “Damn it, Winnie, you get your ass back here!” Sandy hollered through cupped hands. Winchester retreated back to the truck. “Don’t you go runnin off like that, you hear?” Sandy said in the same voice that a mother would use with a child who wandered off in the mall. Bill handed Steve his gun, locked the truck, and fiddled with Winchester and Bandit’s collars, which had pulsing green light on them. “We releasing them here or up a bit?” Bill asked. “Let’s get to the edge of the woods, I guess. Fuckin dogs run a mile before they see anything anyways.” We made our way up to the edge of the woods, where Sandy and Bill released the two coon dogs. They took off faster than criminals from the scene of the crime. They weren’t barking anymore, though. They were down to business. When we’d waited a minute, Bill sighed, “Shit. Steve-O, be a saint and get the ammo. It’s in a Glad bag in the cup holder.” He threw Steve the keys. “Lazy-ass,” Steve said, and started walking back to the truck. “Come with me Dan.” “Kay.” The Legend of the 80lb Coon 24


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS Steve unlocked the truck and opened the door. He whispered, “Hey bud, why you being so quiet?” “Nothing. I just don’t like meeting new people, that’s all.” “Bullshit. You’re only like that for five minutes and then you’re talking their asses off. You know that’s what you did when you first met Bill.” “So …” “So, I know you don’t like Sandy. I can tell. He’s loud, he’s arrogant, and he’s kind of a dick. I didn’t like him when I first met him, either. But give him a chance, okay? He’s a good guy, really. He’s just, like, passionate about shit and stuff. Alright?” “Yeah, I will.” “Good.” He grabbed the plastic bag of little gold .22 bullets and shut the door. Sandy: “Hurry up ya fuckin' slowpokes!” I couldn’t help laughing at that. The four of us stood there looking up at the incredibly clear sky slipping away from dark purple and into blackness. It was only nine, but it felt like midnight. When conversation reached a dead point, a single, sharp bark came from within the woods. Sandy pulled out a little GPS-looking thing. The screen lit up and read Garmin. He looked at it, nodded, and shut it off. Less than a minute later, several deeper, louder barks rang out through the woods. “Treed?” Steve asked. “Yup, let’s go.” Bill and Sandy entered the woods quickly. I was having trouble. Every time I went in, thorns were poking my hands and face. They were at least bearable on my arms and legs because of my coveralls and coat. “C’mon buddy,” Steve said. “You just gotta say ‘to hell with it’ and go in anyways.” I put my hood up, retracted my hands into my sleeves, covered my face with my arms, and broke through the thorny underbrush into the woods. There were many more thorns ahead, but when they poked me, I just brushed the prickly bastards off. Steve came in last, and we began walking towards the dogs’ barks. Sandy was first, Bill was second, Steve was third, and I was last. “Get in front of me and turn on that flashlight,” Steve said. I did as I was told. It was much easier seeing my own ground instead of trying to memorize where Sandy’s light on his hat (it looked like what you see miners wearing) had been a few seconds before. When we started getting closer to the dogs, I could see their pulsing green lights in the distance, 25 Quinn Cunningham


November 25th, 2016 very faintly. We had to cut around a fallen tree at one point, and we were now very close. We were in a little alcove where the thick blanket of trees ahead muffled the wind like the windshield of a car. In the alcove, the bark of the dogs was like thunder. Roop roop roop! I was thinking, I’d be scared

to be those coons. Those dogs are freaking loud. Menacing, that’s a good word. (It was a vocabulary word in language arts last week.) “Shine your flashlight up there in the tree,” Steve said. The dogs were at the base of the tree, trying to jump up to get the coons. They could jump pretty high, but they were nowhere near the top. I surveyed the tree, searching for the gray lump of a coon, or maybe the legendary shimmer of its eyes. I couldn’t find a thing. Neither could Sandy, by the look of it. He turned his headlamp red by sliding a red see-through disc in front of it. He went back to normal color when he found nothing. Steve and Bill took turns with the flashlight, then handed it back to me when they couldn’t find anything either. Eventually, Sandy said “Fuck it. They’re up there somewhere but we’re not gonna find'em.” He made his way over to the dogs, took hold of their collars, and kept yelling at them to shut up. Eventually they did. He pointed away from the tree, out into the woods. The dogs weaseled away with their tails between their legs. Bandit started to turn around and Sandy warned, “If you come back to this fuckin tree, Bandit, you’ll wish you didn’t.” Bandit understood his master’s tone and followed Winnie out into the night. I felt a pang of disappointment. What if we didn’t find anything all night? Steve always said he liked coon hunting because you almost always got something, but now I was starting to wonder. Five minutes later the dogs found something. They barked that single warning bark, then the barrage of warrior barks filled the air, meaning they’d treed the coon. We headed towards the dogs, crossing through the thorn-filled, thick woods. I tripped over a log, and Steve was worried I broke something because he thought I was crying, but actually I was laughing at myself for looking like a dumbass. We trekked through the density of the forest, and showed up at the tree that the dogs were freaking out about. They were leaping into the air and swiping their paws at the bark, really going nuts. “Holy shit, I see one,” Steve said. “Hand me the light, Danny.” I did. He shined it up to the very top, where a fat gray lump was perched. “Here bud, take the shot.” With a smile, he handed me the .22. A sudden wave of nervousness rolled over me like a cold mist. I knew I was a good shot, but what if I missed? I’d look like a complete dumbass. I didn’t want these guys to think that. Gulping, I looked through the scope. It was still on three-zoom. I started to adjust it to nine-zoom, but Bill said, “You don’t need it zoomed in.” I didn’t know why the hell I didn’t need it zoomed in; it The Legend of the 80lb Coon 26


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS would be hard to line up the shot from three-zoom. I lined the crosshairs up with the raccoon’s throat, and squeezed the trigger. Pop! I definitely hit the coon but it didn’t fall. It just flinched a little. I felt like I had just failed a final exam. I always thought that in hunting you only get one shot and then the animal flees, but then again, where the hell could he go? He was trapped in the tree! “Give him another one,” Sandy said. I lined up for the head this time. Pop! Headshot! He hit the ground with a thud and those dogs were on him like the defense on the quarterback. “Good shot, buddy!” Sandy exclaimed, honestly enthusiastic. My face lit up at that. Sandy made his way over to the dogs. “Drop it,” he commanded. Bandit did as he was told. Sandy swiped the coon up by its tail and started to carry it over to a tree, like a toddler carrying his blankie, to tie it up and skin it. He stopped in his tracks. “Oh yeah. Look up there. Looks like we got a little family reunion.” We all looked up into the tree. I counted seven pairs of glowing eyes. “Oh sweet,” Steve said. “Let me shoot first.” I handed him the rifle. It really took the weight off my shoulders when he completely missed his shot (and got a chuckle out of Bill). We weren’t being serious here. We were just some guys having fun, and I didn’t need to be so worried. Steve shot the first two coons, Sandy shot the third, Bill shot the next two, and I shot the last two. Sandy and Steve skinned them by tying them up by their ankles, slitting their Achilles (if raccoons even had an Achilles), and pulling them inside out. My dad told me skinning animals is really nasty, but this didn’t really bother me. The remains looked like a greasy white dog with a skull head, almost comical. Its black eyes were beady and glaring. You could feel the heat baking off of its fatty insides. Sandy hooked his finger through a few of the pelt’s eyeholes, and handed some more to Bill. Then we re-released the dogs. They rocketed back the way we came. They must have seriously been on the track of something. The four of us made small talk for a few minutes, then Sandy checked his dog tracking Garmin gadget. “Well, fuck,” he said with a frown. “What?” Bill asked. “Them fuckin dogs are ten miles away. Ten fuckin miles.” “Jesus Christ, are we gonna walk?” “Fuck it, let’s just get the truck. We can drive down to where they’re at. The truck’s on the way 27 Quinn Cunningham


November 25th, 2016 anyways.” We made our way through the woods, dodging thorns and avoiding fallen logs. When we got to the truck Sandy and Bill dumped the eight coon skins into the bed and we all got in. The drive wasn’t very far. We pulled off the road into a field. I could already hear the dogs howling. They sounded scared. It was a very eerie sound. “What the hell? That ain’t no treeing bark. What the fuck’s that?” Suddenly, as if on cue, the whining howls became several short, choppy barks that almost sounded like screams. They abruptly stopped. Like something had snuffed them. “I bet it’s the fuckin' Larsons!” Sandy shouted. “They get pissed off that I’m huntin' in what they say is their woods and so they go off and fuckin' do something to my dogs!” He broke off in a dead sprint and we all chased after him. Steve had the .22 in his right hand, holding it parallel to the ground as we ran. I almost tripped over chopped off cornstalks several times. We got to the edge of the woods and broke through the underbrush like linebackers. We didn’t have to search for the dogs much. Another fifty yards or so straight into the woods was where the carnage lay. Sandy dropped down beside what remained of Winnie. “Bastards!” he cried. “You sick fucks! How could you do this to my boysssss?!” Tears spilled down his cheeks and he made no attempt to wipe them away. Guts were spilled on the ground like confetti. Winnie had gaping claw marks torn down the front of his face like war paint. His rib cage was pried open like the metal rings in a binder. There was much less of Bandit to see. He was smashed. The entrails were steaming like cooked vegetables. A swirl of blood-streaked excrement lay where Bandit’s bottom should have been. It looked like someone had just literally pounded the shit out of him. I would’ve puked if I wasn’t so shocked. “Nasty, lowdown, no-good, goddam Larsons!” More tears streamed down Sandy’s face and dripped off his cheeks like fat raindrops. He began stroking Winnie’s head, petting him one last time. “How could they do this to my boys? How could they? How could they?!” Bill made an attempt to ease him. He tapped his shoulder, but Sandy shook him off. “Sandy, man, I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened, but that shit ain’t human. No way the Larsons could’ve done that. And you know Win and Bandit are tough, they’d’ve torn up the Larsons’ asses.” “Then what happened? Tell me that Bill!” “I don’t know, but it was something bad. We just need to get the hell out of here.” “Um guys …?” Steve said. “What the fuck is that?” Sandy shined his headlamp up to where Steve was pointing. “What the …?” The Legend of the 80lb Coon 28


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS

Pop-pop-pop! Three gunshots rang out. Steve was aimed at the tree with the .22. The giant black blob in the tree didn’t even flinch. Instead, it let out a furious roar, arching its bulbous head high. It hopped off the branch it was hanging on to and hit the ground with a tremendous thud. It was standing upright on two legs, eyeing us. Two glowing red coals locked us in as its next targets. Next prey. The creature was fast. Wickedly, nastily fast. In the blink of an eye, it crouched down on all fours like a prowling leopard. Its deep black fur was sleek and shiny as it dashed toward us. It was a little smaller than a human, but heavier and more muscular. It looked like a mix between a bear and a wild dog, almost like a Tasmanian devil. A long tail flapped out behind it like a cape as it charged. “Shoot it! Shoot it!” Steve frantically aimed and squeezed off several shots. The first one was a wild miss but the next two hit the beast square in the head. It shook its head, but kept charging. And everything next happened terribly fast. The creature hit Steve with what must have been earth-shattering force. He rocked backward and slid along the ground with the creature on top of him. He screamed in pure terror, and turned his head to keep the razor-sharp sheath of claw from ripping his eyes out. Instead, the scream cut off as his throat was shredded. The creature buried its feral, insane head into my brother and started tearing him apart. It started eating him. Blood flowed in thick rivulets as the— “Kid, get your ass movin!” Sandy thrust his hand into my chest. He spun me around and forced me to move. I snapped out of my shock-induced state, and forced my feet to carry me out of the forest. The thorns that I once complained about were probably slapping my face and slicing me, but I didn’t even notice. I heard a growl very close behind us and forced myself to move even faster. I almost tripped over a tree root that was poking up through the surface, but Sandy snatched the back of my coat and jerked me upright just in time. I could hear Bill’s heavy breathing not far behind us, heard all the wind escape him in a Whoosh! as he sprawled to the ground. The sound of ripping flesh was sickening. It sounded like pulling apart thick, wet seaweed. Bill didn’t even get a chance to scream. The creature got to him first. Sandy and I burst through the last of the trees and booked it across the field, not looking back. “You saved my life back there, man. Tha—” “Shut up and run.” So I did. The beating of my feet on the ground almost matched that of my heart. 29 Quinn Cunningham


November 25th, 2016 We made it to the truck. I yanked and yanked on the handle but the damn thing wouldn’t budge. “No no no!” I beat on the window but it was no use. Sandy was on the driver’s side of the truck. He took his heavy duty flashlight from his coveralls pocket and smashed it on the window. Three times was enough. It shattered into a million crystals of glass. He unlocked the door, opened it, and jumped inside. For one deadly, pessimistic, terribly sure second I thought Sandy was going to drive off without me. I was wrong. He saved my life once and was going to again. He reached over to unlock my door, but his face went white like a ghost. He jumped out of the truck, shouted, “Run Dan!” and pointed. I turned around. The ugly black creature was only about twenty feet away and charging. Suddenly I was frozen again. I stared at its snarling face in shock. I tried to pick my feet up but they were made of stone. The creature looked ready to pounce and I braced myself for impact. For death. Something bounced off the creature’s bulbous head. It abruptly stopped and snapped its head to the right. Its fiery scarlet eyes flared and it let out a deafening roar. I could see the white, sharp, fanglike teeth crammed into its wide-open mouth. “Hey ugly!” It was Sandy. He was standing in front of the truck, all eight coonskins dangling limply from his arm. He wiggled the coonskins in the beast’s direction. The wet black surface of its nose twitched as if it was getting a scent. Its eyes deepened hungrily. “Chase this, motherfucker.” Sandy flung the coonskins out into the road as far as he could. The beast took off after its new prey. “Get in the fuckin car!” I whipped around and yanked on the door. Locked. “Open it! Open it!” I screamed. Sandy worked fast. He jumped in, slammed the door, and unlocked mine. I flung it open, and hopped in. “Go, go—hurry!” “Open the glovebox, Bill’s got a spare key under all the shit in there!” I opened the glovebox and flung out all the papers, trying to find the key. After all the papers were gone, the only things left at the bottom were the key and a .38 special revolver. I handed Sandy the key and pulled out the .38. Sandy jammed the key in the ignition and turned it over. The engine roared into life. “We’re rollin' baby!” He yanked the stick shift into reverse, and backed up onto the road. Up ahead, the beast turned toward us, glaring with hate. We backed up pretty far, then stopped. The beast growled at us, let out a roar, and started to charge. Sandy said, “Sorry bud, but if this goes right, you might not get to use that.” He glanced down at the The Legend of the 80lb Coon 30


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS .38. He punched down on the gas. The wheels spun, squealed, then found traction. The truck barreled forward. So did the beast. We met in the middle, and the truck rocked, but kept moving. The beast’s face smashed into the glass and created a bloody spider-web crack. “Shoot it! Kill it!” I didn’t even really have to aim. It was right in front of us. I pulled the trigger all six times— BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG—and kept pulling it, trying to fire, but just hitting the empty shells. It was no need. That baby was dead before I even shot him. Sandy’s plan worked. We ran him down. “Nice shootin', kid.” “Nice driving, man! You killed it, not me!” The windshield was completely shattered. The dead beast slid off the hood, red eyes now pink and lifeless. We drove on in silence for a moment. The silence of the truck got me thinking. Sure, we all knew about the Wolf Man. Of course we did, who are you kidding? It was Hartford City, man. Who didn’t know about the Wolf Man? But we never spoke about it. We didn’t think anything would happen to us. Who does? People smoke because they don’t think they’ll get cancer, don’t wear seatbelts because they don’t think they’ll get in wrecks, and in small towns like this they don’t bother locking their doors because they don’t think they’ll get robbed. But they do. Shit happens. Shit happens to everyone. With these transparent thoughts floating around in the cab like smoke, I finally spoke up. “Look on the bright side, Sandy. At least you’ve got a better story to tell now than the one about that eighty pound coon.” He threw back his head and laughed hard. We both laughed, in spite of it all. “That’s a good one, kid.” “And this one’s true, I was a witness!” “Yeah,” Sandy said, “but that fucker wasn’t no eighty pounds. He was at least three hundred!”

31 Quinn Cunningham


The Light C. M. Sanders The dark fiction of C.M. Saunders has appeared in over 30 magazines, ezines and anthologies, including Raw Nerve, Fantastic Horror, Trigger Warning, Liquid imagination, and the Literary Hatchet. He is a hybrid author with nine long-from releases under his belt, the most recent being the novel Sker House and the charity novella No Man's Land: Horror in the Trenches, available via Deviant Dolls Publications. He is represented by Media Bitch literary agency.

S

o this was what dying felt like? If so, it wasn't too bad.

No pain, no panic, not even that nagging regret he always imagined he'd feel in this moment..

Must be all the fucking morphine. One of the benefits of expiring in a controlled environment

rather than on a battlefield or in some terrible accident.

His death wasn't coming as a surprise.

William had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer more than two years ago. Back then,

'they' gave him six to ten months to live. He should be happy he managed to bag the extra time. Not that it made his death any less of a tragedy.

There was just sadness. A deep sadness. The way you felt leaving a particularly nice resort when

your holiday was over. But also, a strange sense of relief. Freedom was in sight. An end to the pain, the torment. The fear. Being forewarned had given him ample opportunity to get his affairs in order,

but thirty-eight, he thought, is far too young to die.

Death, as they say, is the only certainty in life. That and taxes.

Josephine was still a fox. She'll be hooked up again before he was cold in his grave.

Shit, he was getting cremated. There would be no grave. Anyway, what was jealousy doing

rearing its ugly head at a time like this? Wouldn't he rather see Jo happy than alone and miserable the rest of her life? Oh, no ...

His heart suddenly lurched and stuttered in his chest. 32


SHOTGUN HORROR CLIPS

There really was a tunnel with a light at the end. He could see it now. Or at least, he thought

he could. Were his eyes open or closed?

Go to the light, William!

Who said that?

Anyone?

The light was getting brighter. Almost there.

He was suddenly very cold. Freezing. Shivering.

And wet.

Why are you wet?

He opened his mouth to ask, but no sound came out.

He was now being hoisted into the air.

The cold, cold air.

Confusion.

Like waking from a dream.

Had he been dreaming?

Was he still dreaming?

Suddenly, there was a loud SLAP! And then the pain came, radiating out from his ass in hot

waves. He wanted to shout, show his disapproval. Ask what the hell was going on. But all he could hear was his own wailing.

33 C. M. Sanders


November 25th, 2016

Damp Leaves and Wind 34


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