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Spill Yr

GUTS horror zine Issue 5 Spring 2019



Pieces of Her By Melissa L. Webb She pulled her fingernails off one by one, the flesh tearing as she pried them loose. She flicked them into the empty ashtray as she went. They clicked against the glass hard, before settling into the bottom. The sound cut through the silence that hung thick in the empty motel room. She stared at the black painted pieces as they lay in the ashtray. They were no longer a part of her. It wasn’t fair; she had given up everything for him. But that hadn’t been enough; she still had to give up more. Teardrops fell from her eyes and she wiped at them, leaving bloody smears in their place. She was doing the right thing, she told herself as she ripped the last nail free. They couldn’t find his blood under her nails if she didn’t have any.


At the Wax Museum By John Grey Sure, you’ve been sculptured to the point of madness, with your crazed bulging eyes, mordant slug-like mouth. But, to be honest, you’re not the least bit frightening. Maybe it’s knowing that you’re nothing but wax and not the beast that roamed the dismal streets of fog-gripped late nineteenth century East London. Sure, art is long and life is brief so they say but it’s the briefness of that latter, sometimes curtailed by a scalpel-wielding demon that piques the nerve ends, puts the brain on nervous watch. I could reach out and touch this statue of you, Jack, scratch your cheeks, poke your chest, even run my fingers down that blood-stained blade. You’ve been tamed. You’re just another Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley - a neutered image, an insipid reminder of the real thing. A woman even has her picture taken with you a smile to match your scowl. No way to slash her, cut her open, send her liver in an envelope to the police. So what if, just like me, she wasted good money


on a lousy tourist trap. That’s hardly disemboweling, is it?


Beyond the Pines By Dorian J Sinnott A labyrinth of trees were all they came to know. But yet, the branches that covered the orphanage windows were nothing in comparison to the endless forest surrounding them. The last few leaves of the year let in the only light that trickled down from above, but the rest of the woodland was shrouded in shadow. And silence. The only sound that would rise up, deep in the night, was from beyond the pines. An ancient, long-forgotten spirit who promised blood for freedom. Enoch, the eldest, denied such a thought. Freedom from the forest would come from wit—instinct. But as the days grew longer and blended together, he soon began to realize that perhaps the spirit was right. Perhaps, the only way to free themselves from the long, lost paths was to give in. Give in to the shadows, give in to the forest, and give in to Death. Death was no stranger in the maze of trees. Though winter made him weak, the inhabitants of the forest knew better. He was hungrier than ever when the snow blanketed the earth, leaving no source of life for him to feast upon. Animals took to their dens to hibernate until spring, and he would only be able to leech from the few passersby. But the forest saw no visitors this season, and Death was beginning to starve. That is, of course, until Enoch and Acorn came along. Acorn scuffed his feet through the fallen leaves and thin layer of snow that coated the ground. His hands were shoved deep into his pockets to try and keep warm, but the dropping temperature made it harder. The orphanage only had a small supply of winter clothes to begin with, and his secondhand coat certainly didn’t do as suffice a job as it could. Noticing his brother had been falling behind, Enoch stopped. “Can’t you go any faster? It’s getting colder out here,” he jabbed. “I told you we shouldn’t have played out here. I told you we should have stayed put. It’s your fault we’re lost. And it’s not


going to be your fault we catch our death.” “I’m sorry, Enoch…” Acorn kept his head and voice low, picking up his pace only slightly. Being exposed to the elements the past few days with no real means of warmth had been taking its toll on him— on both of them. He could feel the fever starting to rise and his occasional coughs had become more frequent. But it wasn’t just the coldness from the air he’d been feeling ill from. He’d seen so much change in his brother since they became known to the forest. His tone being the main thing. Enoch was always so soft spoken and caring—but lately, in the week or so they had been wandering aimlessly through the wood, he became bitter. He had been full of hope and promises to Acorn—playing the role as his father when he needed it—but now, there was nothing left in his words but anger and defeat. “D-do you think anyone is looking for us, Enoch?” Acorn asked once he was at his brother’s side. “Us? Highly unlikely. I doubt they’ve even noticed we’ve gone missing,” Enoch said. “Face it, kid. We don’t have anyone who misses us. We’re stray dogs are far as they’re concerned. One less… erm… two less mouths to feed.” Enoch looked up to the canopy of branches that hung above them. A few flakes of snow began to fall from the greying skies. He sighed. “No one is looking for us, James.” Acorn flinched. He hadn’t heard his name, James, spoken in so long. Enoch had always called him “Acorn”, for as long as he could remember. You’re like a little acorn, falling not too far from the tree. Although five years apart, the two were inseparable. Mainly, Acorn from Enoch, but even just the same. The younger wanted nothing more than to be just like his big brother. And so, the name stuck. Only their mother and father had used “James”—and even then, it was only to be formal. But since their passing, he rarely heard it. Not even from the caregivers at the orphanage. That was another thing, Acorn told himself, that was lost to the wood. “Now let’s keep moving. We can’t be too far from the


main road now. Or, at least a town or something.” Enoch started ahead once more, leaving Acorn standing on the path as the snow continued to fall. It took him a moment before he, too, sighed, and followed along behind his brother. The shadows of night fell deep upon the clearing where the brothers stayed the night. They huddled close together, using their bodies as warmth. The snow had died down, but it didn’t keep the cold from creeping in. The temperatures of night were far lower than day. And Death prowled the forest with craving. It was Enoch who heard the voice first—slipping in through his dreams. Why do you keep holding on to hope, dear boy? You’ve said it yourself—no one is looking for you. “I made a promise to my brother,” Enoch stated firmly. “I swore to him I’d get him home, and that’s what I’m going to do.” Home? Enoch could hear the grin in Death’s voice. But, you have no home. Only that bleak, empty orphanage to go back to. Is that what you want? “That’s one step closer to home than here.” Enoch searched around himself, seeking out the voice. But all he saw was trees. Endless, branching trees. And shadow. “Why don’t you show yourself? Are you afraid?” Fear is a feeling created by the one it haunts. It does not have a physical form. I am much like fear. I am very real—but only become more prominent as you allow it. “Then I ask you to leave. You’re only slowing us down.” Such a large favor from a small soul. Surely you know why I’m here. The cold wind picked up from the west, stinging Enoch’s cheek. He turned his face away from the gust, only to notice Acorn sound asleep. You’re both getting sick—exposure to the elements. Winter is eating away at you with your hunger. It won’t be long until you’re begging for me, not pushing me away. “No,” Enoch said. “We’re not giving in to you. We’re going home, and that’s that. I made a promise to James…” And you can fulfill that promise. Give your brother to me,


and I’ll set him free. I’ll send him home. Enoch was taken back. “What!?” Face it, child… home is a lifetime away. It’s a vision you two have built up and hoped for, but it will never come. How many years will you sit in that orphanage and wait? How many more days can your brother hold out without food? Warmth? Enoch heard a deep, wet cough from Acorn. I only offer freedom. And the price is so little. Let me take the burden off your hands and you’ll be free. You’ll both be free. “I-I can’t…” I promised you freedom, did I not? I can take you home. All it costs is your brother. And he, too, will be free. The dripping of snow melting from the trees is what awoke Enoch that morning. He sat up, head spinning from his dreams, and the sickness that had crept upon him. He coughed once, heavy, feeling the phlegm cling in his throat. And it hurt to breathe—how much it hurt to breathe. He glanced over at Acorn, still sound asleep in the snow. His cheeks were pale, lined only with the rosiness of the cold that nipped him. “J-James…?” There was no response. Enoch scooted closer to him, resting a hand against his brother’s forehead. He was expecting it to be warm, from the fever he knew had been breaking, but he was cold. So, very cold. Enoch tried to catch a whimpering breath, but it only got caught in his lungs and stung. The tears came naturally, though. “E-Enoch…?” Enoch looked back to his brother, the boy’s eyes just barely open. “I-It’s so cold. And I’m so tired… I want to go home.” The wind began to blow harder as Enoch felt the tears coming again. “How much farther…?” “Not much,” Enoch whispered. “Not much…” When evening fell, Enoch was barely walking. The cold took to


him as the snow around his feet grew deeper. In his arms, he carried Acorn. When he reached the thickest part of the forest, where the branches twisted themselves in hellish form, Enoch fell to his knees. Have you brought me what I asked for? Enoch looked for the voice beyond the trees, but there was nothing but darkness. With trembling arms, he moved Acorn from against his chest and into the snow. A thick stain of blood coated the front of his coat, and in a smooth line across the boy’s neck. It was the only thing that had kept him warm. “I did what you asked…,” Enoch spoke softly, voice caught in the lump in his throat. “Now take us home.” For the first time, there was no response from Death. The trees seemed to vibrate from a hollow chuckle, but soon, it was overtaken by just the wind. The snow began to fall heavy once again, covering Acorn’s body as Enoch cried out. “You promised! You promised you’d take us home!” Silence was all that met Enoch. He couldn’t stop the tears as he rested a hand upon his brother’s forehead once more. I promised you freedom. The voice softly drifted in. You’re free of the burden your brother put on you. Isn’t that what you wanted? A sharp twinge was sent through Enoch’s chest at the words. Surely he had thought here and there that life without Acorn would be simpler. That not worrying about looking after him, not worrying about finding a home they could go to together, would make life simpler. Easier. But no matter how much he often wished that fantasy true, he knew the reality of it. Acorn needed him. And he knew that deep down, he needed Acorn, too. “I wanted to go home… To bring Acorn home!” But silly boy… you were home. So long as you had each other. Enoch felt the cold breath of Death on the wind. But now? You are lost. Lost forever to the trees and the burden of loneliness. And now, that loneliness will be the only home you know. The wind died down, and the heavy feeling of Death


began to fade. Enoch pulled Acorn close, burying his face into his brother’s hair as he tried to hold back the tears. Around him, there was nothing but silence and the open, endless forest. As the snowflakes fell from the grey skies above, the last of the season’s dying leaves broke free of the safety of its branch. It floated down on the cold winter wind, landing not too far from the trunk of its tree. But soon, it was forgotten under the steadily rising snow.


Lemon Tart By Max Firehammer It had been raining for days when the priest came. Hot rain that made the air slow and heavy. The day he arrived, there were swampy pools of standing water in the deep brown muck of the back yard, and mosquitoes gathered around these to mate and lay eggs. He knocked twice, standing on the rickety porch in his black clothes with his big black umbrella and his small black suitcase. It was Mama who answered. For her, it was love at first sight. The priest’s sharp young face and thick hair made wild by the humidity left her in a state of shock. Papa was too taken with him to be jealous at all. “Of course” was all Papa seemed to be able to say. When the priest told him that he was new in town, that the storms had pushed a tree onto the little house he was meant to be moving in to, that he needed a place to stay while the carpenters worked, the only reply was “of course, of course, of course.” For Papa, having a priest in the house was like living with Christ himself. At first, that is. At first. I liked him too, at first. He was beautiful. When he walked across our scuffed floorboards, his cassock moved in ocean waves like a dancer’s dress. He ate dinner with us that evening and lifted his fork to his full lips with the delicate air of royalty. He rolled up his sleeves when he helped with the dishes later that night and we caught a glimpse of big sailor’s arms. I watched him close and wondered about underneath the cassock, wondered about the feel of the lips, the strength of the arms. The only one not enamored with the priest was our dog, Saffron. She was an old mutt, blind in her left eye, and when the priest sat with us at the dinner table she did not lie in wait for scraps as usual, but instead retreated to the corner of the room with her hackles raised and her seeing eye wide. We assured the Father that this didn’t mean anything. Saffron had always been wary of strangers. He shouldn’t take it personally. 10


She would warm up to him in due time. After dinner, Mama brought her lemon tart out of the icebox and gave us each a slice and a glass of milk. The priest sipped gently and tiny white beads hung from the hairs of his mustache. “Thank you, Mrs. O’Connor.” “You’re quite welcome, Father.” “The tart is wonderful.” “Isn’t it something?” Papa said, “I always tell Rosemary she ought to open up her own bakery.” “Well, thank you both.” Mama said, “The lemons are from the Parkers, down the road. Michael here went and cleared out their rain gutters the other day, and they gave him a couple pounds from their trees as a gift.” “Good to have the boy out and working at this age.” He looked at me as he spoke, and his eyes felt cold and warm at the same time. “You’re very right,” Papa said, “Idle hands and all that.” The priest nodded and chewed his tart. Just then, a fly made its way lazily down from the ceiling and landed on the rim of his glass. A bluebottle, shining like polished metal and rubbing its front legs together as if it were washing its hands. I reached over and shooed it away with a flick of my wrist. “Little winged beasts.” Mother said, “We need to get some paper for those.” “Oh, but I wish you wouldn’t.” “Why’s that?” “I like to think that the Lord loves all His creatures, great and small.” “So if a mosquito bites me,” I asked, “I shouldn’t swat it?” “Well that’s a bit of a different situation, Michael. If the mosquito has wronged you, then you are right to strike it down. House flies though, they don’t cause much harm.” “I thought they spread microbes.” “Michael,” Mama cautioned, “Don’t argue with the Father.” “I don’t mind, Mrs. O’Connor.” He said, “It’s important to ask questions. That’s the way we learn about the world.” 11


“I suppose so. Just don’t want him pestering you.” “No need to worry.” He looked back at me. “To answer you, yes they do. But so do people, don’t we? So can any animal. And no plague will spread unless it is God’s will.” I couldn’t say anything to that. I didn’t want to. He was right. Mama made up his bed in the back room while he helped me scrub the plates clean. Over the next couple days, I kept noticing the flies. More bluebottles that walked on the walls and buzzed down to leave lingering tiny whisper footsteps on the backs of our necks. I had to remind myself over and over in my head not to slap at them. On Wednesday, the rain started to let up a little and I sat in the rocking chair on the porch with Saffron at my feet, reading a book from the library about atomic power and drinking lemonade. I set the drink down beside me to turn the page, and one of the bluebottles came and sat on the inside of the lip of the cup. I tried to brush it away gently, but it fell in, kicking its legs and buzzing before it went still and floated on its back in the pale yellow. I looked at its body with a kind of fascination before going back to my book. By the time I finished the chapter, there were five more of them in there, floating. I poured the cup out on the lawn and went back inside. By the fourth day, the flies had gotten to be unbearable. They nestled into the corners of rooms in buzzing, writhing clumps. Papa said maybe a ‘possum or something had found its way under the floor or down the chimney and died, and we searched the house with our noses, trying to find the scent of rot. I would’ve thought if something was dead we would’ve smelled it right away, but Papa said maybe not. Let’s look and see. We searched. The first place we checked was the cellar. It had a dirt floor, no light bulbs. I brought the flashlight I’d gotten last Christmas. We hadn’t seen the priest around that morning. Figured maybe he had gone out to the store down the road. The cellar smelled like wet earth, air thick as mud. Something metal in it too, some kind of hot, stinking ozone. Papa and I came down the steps and peered into the dark, where something was moving. I brought the light closer. 12


There, in the back corner, was the priest. He was hunched over like a vulture. He had Saffron in his strong arms, whimpering, ribs showing under her short brown hair. From the priest’s mouth came flies. Hordes of them vomited out in a single squirming blue mass. Some wriggled their way out of his nose too, and in the glow of the flashlight I saw one crawl from the corner of his left eye, squeezing its way out from underneath the fleshy flower petal of his eyelid. The flies swarmed onto the dog, covering her like a fluid, wings thrumming. They worked their way into her mouth, nose, eyes, and ears. She yipped and snapped at them, thrashing in the priest’s arms. He held her still in an iron embrace. Her skin rippled as they moved inside, buzzing muffled through flesh. Her whines rose to a shrill alien wail, blood dripping from her mouth and staining the cassock as she convulsed hard enough to finally break her own neck. When the flies were finished eating, they poured back into the priest’s mouth, fat and happy. He let what was left of Saffron fall to the floor, just a sack of skin. I struggled to hold onto the flashlight, the beam shaking. The last few straggling insects crossed his lips as he looked at my father and I. His eyes glinted in the gloom. “I am going to stay here,” He said, “For as long as this house stands. I will live down here in the dark and I will eat. And one of these days, if the Lord wills it, I will be so hungry that I will come upstairs again. I will come upstairs on thin, veined wings and make you all into bones.”

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things that don’t seem to fit By Lee Clark Zumpe an occasional visitor proclaimed as relative arriving after dark, a shadow on the blinds, gone before daybreak an occasional tendency to stock up on bleach and various cleaning supplies, to spend afternoons scrubbing floors an occasional inexplicable denial of reality, historical blind spots, faulty variations spawning suspicions an occasional patch of freshly turned dirt and donations of spare clothes to the thrift stores, things that don’t seem to fit

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the blackberry patch By Lee Clark Zumpe now, down in the hollow, nothing but palpable dusk: shards of Erebus sprinkled amidst the hemlock and spruce and a two-story stone chimney abandoned to the wilderness, splotches of moss gradually scaling the shaded tower and a coal black cauldron deserted near the fire ring: tangle of residue, decomposing into anonymity now, down in the hollow, nothing but unmarked graves: piles of bones, clutching fingers in the blackberry patch

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The Antique Store By Lee Clark Zumpe along the black-topped corridor running north out of Ocala – its surface eternally awash with crimson gooey stains punctuated by hairy tufts and pinkish tails – we chanced upon this isolated antique store; or, should I say, some old lady’s house packed with antiques out in the backwoods of central Florida – somehow inherited (we hoped) by a young sickly couple and their scrawny blonde spawn. although my girlfriend vehemently protested, we poked around the poorly lit rooms brushing cobwebs off merchandise looking for price tags occasionally catching glimpses of mice or rats or something burrowing into the heaps of boxes and trunks and chests; ever mindful of the watchful gaze of the owner, his smoky eyes twitching, his lower jaw dangling as sweat glimmered on his brow. upstairs, in a room filled with books and cockroaches my fingers traced the damp and tattered face of Alhazred’s masterpiece – at least, one of the seventeenth century editions, lightly revised according to most experts – highly collectable and worth any price – any price. the owner, to my chagrin, either recognized my excitement over the find, or knew its true value; still, I walked away with book in hand… and alone. 16


Village of Dark Pointe Shores By Michael J.P. Whitmer Evelyn’s last letter sent Samuel in search of her--had him waking from a nightmare where her voice called from a stranger’s face. The morning sun strained through the closed curtains. Sam stared up at the moldy ceiling of the motel room, immune to his heart beating out of control. His head blanked except for the terror and fragments of the dream flashing in his mind. The nightmares were becoming more frequent and strange; dreams of their fondest memories together warped into moments where Evelyn is always out of reach of Samuel’s helping arms. He rolled to the edge of the bed and calmed his breathing, focusing on a stain in the carpet. Sam had arrived in Dark Pointe a day prior. The village was a stretch of what the locals called civilization, creased between the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the swamps of the Florida wetlands. The motel manager, eager to do business, told Sam to come to him in the morning with his questions. The man looked displeased to see Sam had lasted the night. “How did you sleep, Sir?” The manager forced hospitality, hobbling toward the lobby counter. “Not well, honestly. Not the room, though.” Sam humored the man, needing answers. The manager nodded. “So, you told me last night you’d help me with some questions.” “I’ll do my best.” “Like I was saying before, I’m looking for my girlfriend. She came in town on a travel bus about a week ago.” “You mean that party-bus? Yeah, I remember, filled with a bunch of townies, making a lot of noise down at the beach. They left a day after.” “Do you remember a brunette girl with curly hair,” he shuffled into his pocket, retrieving a picture. The coiled black and white photo-band were of Sam and Evelyn in a series of poses taken in a picture booth. 17


“No,” the manager said, squinting at the photo. “There were some girls with them, but can’t say I remember any one of ‘em. Got some of the locals in a fuss, though.” “How so?” “Ancient fishermen folklore--women are bad luck. I bought this motel a few years back, moved up from Key West, so I don’t know all there is to know about Dark Pointe Shores. But the area has a history of women going missing. There’s not a woman living within hours of these beaches, and any woman passing through is unwelcome by the locals.” “Women go missing? Like kidnapped?” “Look, I’m not the one to be asking. It’s local talk. You want haunted stories go ask around at Larry’s Fueling Depot. The local fishermen gather there...” # In a gravel parking lot, two trucks with boats hitched to their beds were parked. Samuel pushed past the double doors leading into the back of Larry’s. Down a dark corridor, a neon red sign reading PUB glowed above an entrance. Though the sun was uncontested in the mid day sky, the saloon was barely lit. Ceiling fans creaked out of tune above the vaulted ceilings, where open shutters let light in and seagull shit littered the weathered rafters. At the counter, three male patrons sat bent in front of their mugs atop stools. The barkeeper, a large burly man hairy but for his head, stood behind the bar polishing a dirty glass. “Hey, how goes it?” Sam took a stool closest to the bartender and between two of the natives who smelt more of fish than beer. They glanced at him with no interest and no reply. The bartender spoke up through a cigarette ashing from his lips. “What can I do for you, boy?” “A drink?” “We closed for business,” he croaked. Sam looked to the glasses the two men were sipping on. “Okay… How about helping me with some information, then?” The bartender was ready to turn him down again. Sam pulled the photo from his pocket and held it out to 18


the barkeeper anyway. “Have you seen this girl? She was here a week ago with a bus passing through.” The greasy man glimpsed at the picture and then shared a look with the others at the bar. From a corner of the room, consumed in shadow, a wildeyed man sprang from his chair and rushed at Sam. Though decrepit, he had a leather-tough appearance only gained from excessive labor under the sun. His calloused hands grabbed Sam by the collar, forcing him in reverse toward the exit. “Get outta here, grommet!” The old sailor yelled in slang, drawing the other patrons to laugh. “Get your hands off me!” Sam struggled, caught off guard. Outside in the gravel lot, the man unhanded him. “They don’t take to strangers askin’ questions,” he hissed in a whisper. “Who are you?” “Don’t matter now… We all deserve the truth. You want it, come find me south of the old pier. I have a bait shop out a hut off the beach… Be discreet, grommet. She’s watching us.” # The old sailor sat in a frayed lawn chair on a lopsided porch, facing the sun setting over the Gulf coast. The water shimmered with the fading day, as night fell on the shore Fishing poles, nets, and shells of all sizes and shapes littered about the shack. The elderly man spotted Sam trekking up the beach toward the abode and stood to stare him down with his wild look. “Hey!” Sam waved. “I figured you show, grommet!” The man said with his cracked voice. He held a half-empty bottle of whiskey. The rest reeked on his breath. “My name’s Samuel.” “They call me Captain Jones,” he swigged the bottle and stroked his gray beard. Sam stepped a little closer towards the patio, offering the photo band. “Sir, I’m only looking for my girlfriend. Her name’s Evelyn. Any information might help.” Captain Jones’ gaze softened. He made a noise 19


somewhere between a laugh and a grumble before snatching the picture. Turning away from Sam, he shuffled back to his chair, swigging his drink. “Another one,” he mumbled and flopped down in the seat. Looking at the photo, Captain Jones studied the pose between Sam and Evelyn kissing and covering each other’s eyes; the two young lovers were pressed cheek to cheek smiling. “Another what?” Sam asked, testing his luck by climbing the few steps onto the cluttered porch. “Fool in love…” he swigged and offered the picture and bottle to Sam. “No, thanks.” He took the photo. Captain Jones shrugged and took another swig. “You better off leaving while you can… only more heartbreak waiting for ya’, Samuel.” “What do you mean? You’ve seen her?” “Women missing--ain’t really missin’ in Dark Pointe. What the sea takes, she’ll return. But it’ll cost ya’.” Sam was quiet, not sure what to say. “We all gotta pay. Some more than others, but once you do, ain’t no goin’ back… She’ll have you…” “Who? Evelyn?” “It’s not her. None of ‘em are. They belong to the sea… Real lovers? We got no choice. Others know, but be damned to nothin’ else. The rest might, but take pleasure in the hell…” Captain Jones was up from his chair, swigging and staggering towards a footlocker propped against a pile of oddities. “I should be going, Captain Jones. It’s getting dark.” Sam started inching the way he came. “You havin’ dreams, too?” Captain Jones said, staring in the open locker. “We all get’em. All who lost her. Her way of callin’ to us, saying she’s ready. It’s the memories that make us; love that links us… allows her control when she’s ready.” The mentioning of the dreams triggered Sam’s own nightmares to surface, causing his heart to beat abnormally fast and his palms to sweat. He wanted to leave, but Captain Jones was blocking the exit in his stupor. Sam tried to squeeze by him. 20


The old man turned, nearing uncomfortably close, pressing his bony finger to his lined and tanned temple. “It’s there, every time you held hands, shared a smile-there for her to lure you back. All she need is say your name, and she’ll have you.” Samuel pushed past Captain Jones, glancing in the locker as he scurried down the steps. He saw a fair woman’s photograph with hair like the sunset in a grimy frame, smiling next to her was a younger Captain Jones. Samuel hurried back up the beach towards the motel, trying to block out the thought of Evelyn being forever lost. # “I feel trapped.” Waves broke around them, but his eyes were locked with hers. “With me?” “No… it’s not you… it this place--This nowhere town. It’s suffocating me.” “You said we’d be forever.” The tide rushed over their bare feet. “What we had… what we felt will always be.” She touched his exposed chest. Her hand felt colder than the mist and night air. He reached out, grabbing her, bringing her into him. As they hugged, their paired bodies’ shadow stretched across the shore under the peering glow of the full moon. “Please… stay. I love you.” He could feel her body begin to slip from his grasp. He pulled away to see her flesh beading into water pellets, streaming away. She broke like a wave in his hands, joining the tide as she was carried out to sea. He fought after her, chasing the retreating shoreline. Samuel shot upright, his breathing heavy like he was still battling the ocean’s current. Sammy… His eyes blinked open. Sam was lying on his back in bed and his heart calm. Sammy, Evelyn’s voice called to him. Enchanted, he left the motel, walking from the inland 21


back to the shore. His name on the wind carried him to the ruined jetty. The skeleton of the pier jutted up from the sands in splintered pillars. A wave crashed on the beach and Evelyn emerged from the ocean trailing the tide as it rolled in. Her body was nude and paler than the moonlight reflecting off the rippling waters. She glowed divine, dancing between the leaning columns. Sammy, her voice ringed in his mind, though, her lips didn’t move. “Evelyn?” She appeared to glide over to him. Her skin was translucent and iridescent, coated in a slimy gelatin. The sight of Evelyn flooded his mind with thoughts of their most cherished moments that gushed over and enamored the fear telling him to run. She pressed her frail cold lips to his, and though slick and fishy, he kissed her more deeply than he had ever before. The two fell to the sand, Sam immobilized by the mixture of horror and passion surging through him. Evelyn mounted him as the tide retreated. # “Evelyn, say something.” Sam trembled, as they lay along the shore. “Say something…” he was starting to feel sick. He shifted from under her to see protruding from her back, a fleshy tentacle arching up into the night air and then down into the waters. Sam reached for the appendage, wanting to remove it. Evelyn jerked from his touch and was hauled backward. Sam dove, clutching Evelyn’s waist to be dragged into the ocean with her. He held on as they were pulled past where the waves formed and taken under into the dark depths. Before him, just where the moon’s reach from the ocean’s surface began to fade to the shadowy deep, a sight overwhelmed Samuel more so than the revelation of his pending death--a great creature in the casting of a jellyfish, floated in the murky abyss. From beneath its giant, gelatinous, umbrella-shaped bell, thousands of tentacles stretched out with female corpses at their ends. Among the sea of dead, some of their stomachs were round and squirmed with unseen life. Sam saw the sunset hair, 22


belonging to the fair woman from the photo in Captain Jones’ locker. Her face was ageless and undead as she hung from the underwater gallows by a tentacle noose. Sam looked to Evelyn, she watched with a lost gaze as he sank. Sam’s last breath failed him and his lungs filled with water. As the shadows of the Gulf swallowed him, he heard a shade of Evelyn’s voice echo in his mind: I love you, Sammy.

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Nightmares By Genn Barrett They come upon the mind as the ivy grows Starting slow at first, little by little, inch by inch Sinking its roots and barbs against the foundation Breaking it down and reducing it to rubble Creeping ever onward Until its body has amassed its host like the parasite it’s become And once the creeping has stopped – the darkness takes hold Consuming every speck of light as the black holes swallow the stars When there is nothing to be seen, nor felt, All that deems remained is the emptiness The Nothingness The Void The loneliness and sorrow mingled and congregated as one Breaking down the shell as the ivy seeks to break the foundations of rock and stone By then all is lost; Lost in the horror they bring in their wake: The nightmares

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CONTRIBUTORS WORDS Genn Barrett is a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College’s Liberal Arts program currently living in Kingston, NY. She is a Disney-fanatic, costume maker, and avid reader. She spends her week nights watching Youtubers play horror games, and cosplays at comic cons on the weekends with her boyfriend. Max Firehammer is a creative writing major at Hamline University in Saint Paul. He’s a lifelong horror fan whose favorites include Flannery O’Connor and John Carpenter. Outside of writing he drums for Lugoshi, a local punk band. John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Harpur Palate and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly. Dorian J. Sinnott is a graduate of Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program, currently living with his bossy cat in Kingston, New York. He loves English horseback riding, playing violin, and cosplaying his favorite childhood characters at comic cons. Dorian’s work has appeared in Coffin Bell, The Hungry Chimera, Soft Cartel, and Crab Fat Literary Magazine. Melissa L. Webb is the author of the Maxie Duncan series. She enjoys all things paranormal. She currently lives between the ocean and the redwoods with her dog, Nessie. Michael J.P. Whitmer is a loving and devoted father, and husband, writing fiction in his sunny hometown of Jacksonville Beach, FL. His speculative, surreal, macabre has appeared electronically and in print. Follow his ramblings @MJPWhit on twitter or get exclusive content at michaeljpwhitmer.com. 26


Lee Clark Zumpe has been writing and publishing horror, dark fantasy and speculative fiction since the late 1990s. His short stories and poetry have appeared in a variety of publications such as Weird Tales, Space and Time and Dark Wisdom; and in anthologies such as Corpse Blossoms, Best New Zombie Tales Vol. 3, Steampunk Cthulhu and World War Cthulhu. His work has earned several honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror collections. An entertainment columnist with Tampa Bay Newspapers, Lee has penned hundreds of film, theater and book reviews and has interviewed novelists as well as music industry icons such as Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains and Alan Parsons. His work for TBN has been recognized repeatedly by the Florida Press Association, including a first place award for criticism in the 2013 Better Weekly Newspaper Contest. Lee lives on the west coast of Florida with his wife and daughter. Visit www. leeclarkzumpe.com.

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Spill Yr

GUTS horror zine Š May 2019

All rights revert back to the creators upon publication.


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