Spill Yr Guts Horror Zine Issue 3 Fall 2018

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Spill Yr

GUTS horror zine Issue 3 Fall 2018



Spill Yr

GUTS horror zine Issue 3 Fall 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE Spill Yr Guts recently went through its own bit of hell: Months of attempting to put out a third issue seemed to be all for naught with only one or two submissions coming in with each attempt at a call. As fate would have it, however, we found ourselves so graciously added to the listings of Duotrope.com, and now submissions are coming in at a steady stream, and this project feels full of vigor once again. There’s nothing I love more than seeing submissions come in and settling in for an afternoon of reading through them. The creativity and absolutely disturbing nature of everything that comes in is refreshing, amusing, and one of the best parts of doing this job that I’ve created for myself. So turn down the lights, settle in, and get ready to dig into this new issue!

Sonya Cheney Editor/Creator



Where I Keep My Spoons By Ben Fitts “Mommy, Daddy! There’s a house in sky!” shouted Trudie as she burst into the kitchen through the back door. “Sorry sweetie, there’s a what?” asked her father gently as he lowered the kitchen knife he had been slicing tomatoes with. “A house! Come outside and look, it’s flying up in the sky!” “Oh, really?” he asked without looking up. He had learned enough over his six years of parenting to know that indulging his daughter tended to make her calm down faster. “Uh-huh. Come on out and look.” ` “Sweetie, I’m cooking dinner.” “Cccommmmeee oooonnnn! When have you ever seen something like this before!” Her father sighed and put down the knife, still bloody with tomato innards. “Ok, Trud. Let’s go look.” “Mommy has to come to.” “What, dear?” asked her mother, lowering the paperback she had been reading in the connected living room. “You have to go outside with me and Daddy to see to house in the sky!” Trudie explained. Her father gave her mother a warm but resigned smile. “You heard the girl, Hope.” Triumphantly, Trudie stamped out the back door and into the


yard, her parents trailing at her heels. “See, there it is. A house in the sky!” And there it was. A small one story tudor home, floating in the sky. The house sat on a patch of cement ground, also floating. A doormat and some flower pots decorated the entranceway, perched on outskirts of the cement. It was the kind of house that Trudie’s mother would call “cute” if they drove past it and if it wasn’t floating a good fifty feet in the sky. Trudie looked back at her parents proudly. They exchanged the amused, smiling look they always did around Trudie’s childish antics. When the two adults looked into the sky, they saw exactly what they had been expecting: an empty Massachusetts sky on an autumn afternoon. “It’s a lovely house, Trudie,” replied her mother politely. “Isn’t it cute, Mommy?” “Very cute, dear.” Satisfied, Trudie stomped back inside the house. “Isn’t she getting a little old for this, Stuart?” asked her mother, once was Trudie was back inside. Her father shrugged. “She’s only a couple months into the first grade, this is still normal. Anyway, I’m sure she’s just pretending,” he added, rubbing his wife’s shoulder. “She knows there isn’t really a house in the sky. It’s just a game she’s playing.” Trudie’s mother nodded. She wanted to believe her husband. She really did.


Trudie couldn’t fall asleep that night, and stayed awake under her covers long after her parents went to bed. She too excited about the house in the sky. She could see it from her bedroom window. She watched in fascination as it hung in place, perfectly still. She wondered how the house had gotten up there in the first place, and if it was going to come down at some point. She wondered if her friend Timmy who lived down the street could see house also. She would have to ask him about it on the bus school the next morning. He was two years older than her and in the third grade, so she wouldn’t see him during the day. Then something in the house moved. Its front door fell open, just slightly, and a long rope ladder dropped onto the ground. Trudie had the oddest feeling that the house was staring directly at her and that the rope ladder was meant for her and her alone. Somehow, she was certain of it. It was an invitation inside. It wasn’t every day that Trudie got invited into houses that floated high in the sky above her backyard, and sure was not going to turn the opportunity down. She wasn’t even sure that she could if she wanted to. She climbed out of bed and hurried down the stairs and into the backyard, still in her pajamas. Eagerly, she climbed up the rope ladder. It was high, higher than she had even been before other than that one time she had flown in an airplane to visit her cousins in California, but Trudie felt an odd flash of courage as she climbed the rope. As she climbed, she had never been so sure of anything than she was sure that she was meant to climb this rope ladder, and that she would make it to the top and still be alright.


Eventually Trudie did make it to the top and she collapsed on the doormat outside, panting. Once she caught her breath, Trudie stood up on her feet and knocked on the door. Nothing happened. She waited for some time, then knocked again. After still no one came to the door, Trudie pushed it open and let herself in. After all, she had already been invited inside. She was sure of it. Trudie walked into a cozy, very blue living room. A fluffy blue carpet lay on the floor and the walls were adorned with a blue and white streaked wallpaper. Old wooden furniture was scattered throughout the living room. The room had an archaic feeling, like it was trapped in another time. That was far from the strangest thing about the room, however. The strangest thing about the room was the spoons. Spoons of all shapes and sizes cluttered the entire living room. They clung to the striped wallpaper, mounted in place. They littered the tops of the wooden tables and drawers, yet seemed carefully, even delicately arranged. Trudie took a couple tentative steps into the home. The spoons all seemed to stare at her, but she paid them no mind. She was still glowing in the surge of valor she felt climbing the rope ladder, and felt as if nothing could scare her now. “Hello?” called Trudie as she wandered into the home with a childish confidence that no grown adult would dare to possess. “Hello?” she called again as she turned the big brass knob on a blue painted wooden door and walked through. “Hello,” replied an old man from behind a workbench in the new room which, like the living room, was crowded with various spoons.


The old man applied the finishing touches to the chrome plating on a large soup spoon. Appearing satisfied with his work, the old man placed the spoon back down and rose on ancient legs to great Trudie. “Finished just in time,” he said to himself. The old man then directed his attention to Trudie. “What’s your name, child?” he asked, smiling kindly. He reminded Trudie of Mr. King, the friendly neighborhood piano teacher she saw on Tuesdays after school. “Trudie,” she answered. “What’s yours?” “You can call me Mr. Spoon,” he answered. Mr. Spoon was very hunched over, with a curved old man spine. He wore a loose fitting suit made of olive green tweed, out which dangled a golden pocket watch on a chain. The look was completed by a white handlebar mustache and a bright pink bowtie. Trudie liked the man instantly. “Do you live here?” she asked. “Of course I do,” he replied. “It’s where I keep my spoons.” “You sure do have a lot of spoons.” “I have one for every child that’s ever visited me here,” said Mr. Spoon, proudly. “That’s a whole lot of kids.” “It is. I am a very old man, older than I look if I may say so. Children have been coming to visit my home for a very long time


now.” Trudie frowned as a new thought crossed her mind. “Was I supposed to bring you a spoon?” she asked. “I could climb back down and get you one. We keep a whole bunch in the drawer next to the sink.” “My my, no” said Mr. Spoon, gesturing to his workbench. “We’re going to make the spoon together.” “Oh, that sounds fun!” “It sure is,” agreed Mr. Spoon. “Now hold out your arm.” Trudie did as told while Mr. Spoon rummaged through one of the drawers in workshop. “Why?” she asked, without lowering her arm. She was genuinely curious. “I have to make the spoon out of something,” said Mr. Spoon cheerifly emerging from the workbench holding a pair of viciously sharp, strange looking tools. Hope and Stuart never did see their daughter again, but in the morning Mr. Spoon had a shiny new chrome plated spoon on display. He mounted this one on a vacant spot he found on his bedroom wall. Soon after Mr. Spoon found the right spot for his newest spoon, Trudie’s friend Timmy from down the street nearly choked on a mouthful of waffles at the breakfast table. “Mom look!” he said, pointing out the window. “There’s a house just floating up there, in the sky.” Timmy’s mother leaned forward and peered out the window, following where her son pointed.


“Timmy, there’s nothing out there. You really getting too old to be playing these sorts of games with me,” she scolded. “But Mom, it’s right there! A house in the sky.”


Eighteen Miles Until the End By Ben Fitts “Did that sign say what I think it did?” asked Dennis from the passenger seat. He had to raise his voice to be heard over the crackling classic rock station they were tuned to. They never got good reception when driving through the hilly chunks of nowhere in upstate New York, and Meat Loaf’s voice cut in and out as he sang about a bat out of hell. “I think it did,” answered Marla, turning the steering wheel as her Chevy hugged a tight turn on the dark highway. “Eighteen miles until the end.” Other than its imprecise message, the sign had been nondescript and unassuming. A yellow hexagon with blocky black letters mounted on the concrete support beam of a small overpass, the pair could easily have missed it had the sign the sign’s luminous nature not reflected back their Chevy’s high beams so intensely. “The end of what? The road?” Marla shrugged. “Yeah, probably. It is a little cryptic though. There’s probably a turn or something to take to get off the road before then, so keep your eyes open.” Dennis slumped in the passenger seat. “We’re gonna get lost again,” he groaned. “Why do we always have to humor Margie with these dumb Thanksgiving trips to the middle of nowhere?” “Because she’s my sister and it matters to her,” Marla snapped. “I know you hate leaving the city, but it’s only two nights. You’ll be fine. Just be nice to family and read that Kurt Vonnegut book you 10


were so excited about finally starting.” He grunted, turned up the volume knob on the radio and rolled over to face away from his girlfriend. Marla’s eccentric younger sister Darla was flushed with unearned cash from a plagiarism lawsuit regarding a mediocre folk song she wrote. She had performed the piece often at a local coffee house and a commercial composer who frequented the establishment would end up stealing it for a jingle for a toy company. Instead of using her windfall of cash to buy untattered clothes or a decent apartment, Darla would rent out some remote cabin and insist her family trek out there for Thanksgiving. Dennis had been roped into attending the past couple of years and had hated every moment of it. He had missed the comfort and familiarity of his apartment in Queens and his pre-Marla ritual of celebrating the holiday with his roommate Paul and their friends. The lot of them would slurp cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Budweiser, chew overcooked turkey and watch the ThanksKilling movies which, in Dennis’ humble opinion, were among the best terrible horror movies ever made. But the Thanksgivings spent in cabins with Marla’s family just felt odd. Marla was a no-nonsense, professional type who wore lots of neat grey outfits and carefully considered her words before uttering them aloud. She had almost completed her masters of business from NYU Stern and had her life together at a young age to a degree that amazed Dennis when they first met, but her entire family was exactly the opposite. Despite their comfortable middle-class existence, her family garbed themselves in secondhand outfits that were carefully selected to appear whimsically bohemian and spoke often of astrology and chakras. Her father always referred to the family as a band of blonde gypsies even though Dennis had explained that such a phrase was now considered offensive and Darla was convinced that she was a 11


songwriter worthy of being the voice of her generation, seemingly unaware that everything she wrote was just a flimsy Gillian Welch imitation. Dennis loved Marla as much as he had ever loved anyone, but the thought of having to once again brave her family’s Thanksgiving was enough to fill him with dread as soon as the leaves began to darken each fall. “Are you going to be like that the rest of the trip?” Marla called over the booming radio. The disc jockey was playing The ShangriLas’ “Leader Of The Pack,” a real oldie for that station but a song that Dennis enjoyed more than he cared to admit to. He focused on Mary Weiss’ crystalline voice and pretended not to have heard Marla. Marla sighed and pushed the radio off. “We’re just about at the eighteen mile mark,” she said when she saw Dennis open his mouth in protest. “I haven’t seen a way off this road so far, so it should be coming up right around now, I need to you to look out for it.” Dennis ventured his gaze out the window, his eyes combing the dark and empty highway and the thick clusters of trees lining the road. “I don’t see anything,” he said. “Yeah, me neither,” agreed Marla, looking off to the side of the road as well. Dennis’s attention drifted back to the road before them and he jolted to attention. “Marla, look out!” he screamed. A massive brown buck had wandered onto the highway and stood stoically directly in the path of the car, unmoving. 12


Marla gasped and swerved the Chevy away from the deer. The tires skidded with the sudden change in direction and car soared off the highway, smashing into a sturdy oak by the side of the road. The tree’s thick branches crashed through the windshield, shattering the glass and impaling both the passengers. Dennis’s last thoughts were an absurd, semi-cohesive relief that now he wouldn’t have to sit through another Thanksgiving with Marla’s weird hippie family. *** “Stop being such a dick, dude! I’m trying to drive,” chided Danny from behind the wheel. “I’m just saying,” continued his current college roommate from the passenger seat, “You could have gotten some last night if wern’t so goddamn awkward at that party. Some of those girls seemed into you until noticed you had a shot. Then you got all weird and nervous and just stared at your shoes.” “Come on man, it’s late as hell and I’m doing you a solid by driving you home for break,” complained Danny. “Just shut up and let me drive.” His roommate snorted. “Fine, fine. Have you gone this way before?” he asked as they passed a shallow overpass on the highway. “No, that’s why I need to pay attention. Hey, what’s that sign say?” His roommate squinted to make out a small yellow hexagonal sign with black lettering hanging off a support beam. “It says twenty-six miles until the end.” “Until the end of what?” asked Danny. His roommate shrugged. “Hell if I know.” 13


Two Poems By Rachel Stewart SUGAR COAT If you touch the surface of me, I’m fine But it’s the marrow that’s rotted away to hollowness So heavy browed and double-chinned Body soft but useless But nobody sees my mind Sharp as the edge of a knife I’ve been trapped as long as I can remember and my thoughts built new paths complete with breadcrumbs this sweet house unwittingly fools the world into thinking I’ve given them my heart instead, it’s whatever they want built out of sugar, soft looks, white lies.

REGRET Your mouth tastes like cherry cordials Your heart is black cigarette ash the cold air cuts lines into the space between us the snow never lasts long enough a fine dusting to help us forget only to melt and meld into ice like a burning knife left on the fire.

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Treatment Options By Ed Ahern

“I don’t think you’re insane, Jaimie.” Jaimie Swafford lifted his eyes from his wrist and ankle cuffs. “Then why am I here at Three Turrets, Dr. Gillespie.” Gillespie adjusted his tie and tapped his fountain pen on his notebook page, leaving a scattering of ink dots. “Because you exhibited schizophrenic behavior. But you’ve done this before, Jaimie. You got caught; you claimed insanity; you got sent here for treatment. Then you demonstrated sane behavior patterns, we released you, and you again brutalized several persons. I believe you’re gaming our system.” He slightly adjusted the small recording device on his desk. “I’m reasonably convinced that you knew right from wrong when you beat and robbed that old woman. I’m recommending that if convicted you serve time in the general prisoner population at San Quinton.” Jaimie’s mouth and cheeks twitched. “That won’t do, Doctor.” Jaimie’s smile was winsome, but Dr. Gillespie remained stoic. The smile disappeared. Jaimie pulled his chair forward until he was up against the front of Gillespie’s desk. He whispered. “You know my file, doctor, whelped by a crack whore, detoxed as a newborn, raped by a foster parent— sometimes it’s just too much and I split open. It’s your obligation to treat me.” Gillespie picked his left hand up off his ample lap and waved it. “I’m quite familiar with your file. It reveals meticulously planned theft and brutality. Quite clear headed. First time, shame on you, second time would be shame on me. This time 17


you do the time.” Jaimie’s expression was unreadable. He glanced up at the camera recording their session- without audio of course to preserve confidentiality. “So that’s it then.” He uncrossed skinny legs and planted his shoes on the floor. “Before you stamp my file, let me tell you a quick little story. One you haven’t heard. It’ll clarify my mental state.” Gillespie’s sigh was wheezy. “Ten minutes, Jaimie.” “I’ll do it in five. You know a few of the facts, Doctor, but not the transformation. From the time I was conscious of myself, I knew I was different.” “Different how?” “No, No Doc, I’ve only got a few minutes, so no shrink babble, please. I didn’t love, didn’t hate, wasn’t greedy. What I enjoyed doing was chaotic maiming. “Shattering other people’s lives made me content. But they can’t see it coming, and I only want to destroy happily, structured lives. Humans with no hope are boring in their suffering. “As a child, I camouflaged that I’d caused the anguish. Like when I killed my foster parents’ daughter. Don’t look shocked. You sense what I am. We were vacationing at the Grand Canyon, hiking down a steep, narrow trail. I’d doped her with some of foster daddy’s pain killers. A gentle shove and she dropped several hundred feet, dead by the time they got down to her. Fake daddy blamed himself for not locking up his drugs, took up serious drinking. Delicious. “But there were limitations. Too many bad things happened when I was around, people got suspicious. So I started recruiting. Selfdestructive people make the best converts, and I joined AA and therapy groups, befriending and showing others that inflicting vicious harm was the better addiction. 18


“I have disciples roaming your neighborhoods, maiming and killing. That backyard pet butcher? He’s one of mine, although he doesn’t quite know it. “But my followers are self-destructive and get caught. I had to attend meetings non-stop to keep the legion up to muster. So I enrolled here. You’re the biggest lock-down mental institution in the country. Thousands of pre-qualified candidates.” Gillespie dropped his pen onto the notepad. “That’s-I almost said insane- absurd. Our patients suffer from a wide range of problems.” “Sure. But they’re all untethered from your reality and looking for another. That’s me. My treatment works better than yours, doc, with a success rate of almost forty percent. What’re you at, eight, ten percent tops? “So, I wanted to see how my operatives were performing on the outside, and I saned up for you and you let me out. Doc, they were doing fantastic. Two, three atrocities before they got caught or killed. Admit it, you’re told what they did. That’s why you’re not letting as many people out. “Anyway, I realized my place was inside, as the father of demons. I indulged myself on an elder abuse so they’d stick me back in here. But I can’t operate in a real prison. They’ve got different sorts of monsters inside them. And that leaves dealing with you.” Jaimie jumped up from his chair, grabbed Gillespie’s necktie, and yanked his cheek down onto the desk. Then he grabbed the fountain pen and thrust it into Gillespie’s right eye. As Gillespie screamed and thrashed, Jaimie slammed the palm of his hand into the gold pen cap, driving the pen into Gillespie’s brain. Jaimie watched as ink, blood and eye fluid dribbled down Gillespie’s cheek. “Sorry, Doc, I need to be back in here full time, and you were interfering. Your friends should be here soon.” 19


He shuffled around the desk, and pushed Gillespie out of his chair and onto the floor. Jaimie settled into Gillespie’s chair, reached forward, and picked up the recorder. He popped the memory chip out and snapped it in two. He waited five minutes and when the guards didn’t show up, pushed the panic button behind Gillespie’s desk. He looked down at the dead psychiatrist. “You know, Doc, you’re instrumental in getting me the treatment I need.”

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Five Haiku By Denny Marshall

distrust new doctor your suspicious confirmed when he starts chainsaw

operating room tied to table, next to you heart beats, new owner

ufo lands gathered crowds easy meal

as the rope tightened no one will know the hanging was accidental

pile of dead bodies hundred forty-four in all it was really gross

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Five Poems By John Grey CEMETERY SIGN the management is not responsible for your losses but appreciate their business nevertheless

THIS UNSETTLED WEATHER The full moon is not for lovers, it’s for mad men. I do not feel the least bit romantic but if anyone were to come near me now I swear I would strangle them. A cloud is for lovers. For the crazy, it’s a retreat from the urge to kill. You look up at the sky, afraid a sudden downpour, will spoil everything. It’s dark. You’re alone with me. And it just so happens that the rain is the news you’ve been waiting for. 24


A TORTURE MERCHANT IN RETIREMENT It’s the end of day in the upstairs room but the onset of ghosts. I light a candle in deference to their sensitivities. Bulbs are not to their liking. They prefer to float just out of reach of the glow. Whispers begin it, then rattles and rustles. The walls embrace shapes that are not quite shadows. Mist rises from floorboards, sculpts itself into near-faces. A chair moves slightly. Fireplace ashes flutter. The present takes on the past’s lost cause. Scattered sounds. sprinkled images, can build upon a singular event. Yes the visitations chill, unthread my nerves, weave them into the guiltiest patterns. But it’s a kind of castor oil for me. It must be taken nightly. For every man must live with what he’s done. And there’s always a place for those he’s done it to.

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E-DATING MATCHES YOU UP WITH THIS GUY NAMED CHARLES MANSON Manson’s dead. One more cult figure to be devoured by weevils and worms. No more followers. No more worshipers. No paeans of praise. No poems in his honor. No more offers of marriage through the mail. Okay, so maybe one or two out there with the dream of being this generation’s murderous cult leader. But none named Manson. So you’re safe with me.

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SPRINGTIME IN CEDARVILLE Love to see the trees bud, but not much those yellow eggs crack. Nothing like trees in their greenery but a tiny, squawking creature spitting out shards of shell is a throwback to the dinosaur age. The roses bloom dark red. So do the eyes of those things. And the hyacinth flowers purple. But so does the creatures’ skin. Bugs invade in their millions, so out comes the spray. But nothing can kill those beasts. Well maybe an axe to the throat if you catch one unawares. But mostly they’re too quick for me. Besides, who wants to be splattered in bright green blood. They’re dangerous. One killed a neighbor. A pack of them tore apart an old lady in a supermarket parking lot. But the law says they’re protected. I remember when the law said the very same thing about us.

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The Beast of Bridestowe By Dorian J. Sinnott It was when the snow had fallen fresh upon Bridestowe that Finch noted their return. Large, cat-like paw prints trailed away from the farm house, leading towards the forest just beyond the village border. Specks of crimson blood stained the snow, carnal remains of livestock littering the field. Finch heaved a breath and drew the door shut. “It’s back,” was all that was uttered from his lips that morning at breakfast. His wife Elizabeth sat in silenced shock. Dabbing her lips with her handkerchief, she finally cleared her throat. Finch ran his fingers through his hair. “I checked the barn… There isn’t a sheep left.” “Not any?” Elizabeth pursed her lips when her husband shook his head. “We’ll make do until the spring thaw. I can always go into town. The butcher is sure to have lamb. And don’t forget, we have the hens.” “That isn’t the point, Lizzie.” Finch stared bitterly into the small flame of the candle in the center of the table. The flickers reflected in his deep green eyes. Elizabeth was taken aback when he spoke again. “I’m going after it.” “Going after it?” “The beast.” “Beast? Oh, please, dear… Not with the stories again. Everyone knows the beast is simply a myth.” 28


“It’s no myth, Lizzie. I’ve seen it myself, with my own two eyes.” “Dear…” Finch shook his head. “There’s nothing left. And it’s not going to stop. When it comes back looking for more, what do you think it will hunt?” Elizabeth was silent. Feeling her husband’s hand gently brush against hers, she glanced at him. “I can’t risk it hurting you,” he said. “Or… Edward.” Upon hearing a creak, Finch turned his attention to the stairwell. Through the mid-morning shadows, he could make out the small stature of a young boy. He stood still, simply listening and watching the conversation at the dinner table. Finch stared at him for a moment longer, then looked back to Elizabeth. “I’ll bring its body back. We’ll mount it if we must! But I will. I’ll make it pay.” Elizabeth shook her head. “Please…” “Don’t worry. I’ll be alright. I promise.” He could see the worry on her face, but he gave her hand an assuring squeeze. “I’ll be back by nightfall.” Twigs snapped under Finch’s feet as he ventured through the thick groves of Whistman’s Woods. The trees snaked around him in thick mangles, making it difficult to see in the distance. A light fog hovered amongst the branches, cloaking the moss blanketed boulders that lined the paths. The snow had barely fallen beneath the shelter of the trees. Only a light dusting rest upon the fallen leaves. Finch took another step forward, listening for any signs of 29


movement around him. The forest was still. “Papa.” The young boy’s voice was the first to break the silence as Finch tugged him along. “Where are we going?” Finch didn’t stop, even when his son staggered over the roots jutting from the forest floor. He kept his lips tight for a few moments before finally responding gruffly. “To find the beast.” “Mama says the beast is just a story…” “It’s no story, Edward. Anyone in Bridestowe could tell you that. And anyone would agree with me that it needs to be destroyed.” “But… why?” “It killed our sheep. Now we’ve nothing left to get us through the winter.” The young boy looked up at his father slowly. “Maybe it was hungry.” “Edward…” Finch closed his eyes. “Hungry or not, it’s driving us to starvation. And if it returns, a fate far worse.” Edward lowered his head in thought. He shuffled his feet, feeling the grip on his wrist tighten. Finch gave him a sharp tug and led him towards a thicket of trees. The silence still stirred around them, becoming more deafening the further they headed. Snaking shadows crept along the earth, causing Edward to flinch. Once more he glanced up to his father. “How are you going to catch it?” Finch continued looking straight ahead, now gripping the rifle over his shoulder as he walked, his other hand still tightly 30


gripping his son. “We’ll need to bait it,” he replied. “The beast is a hunter. He won’t show himself for just anything.” “Why didn’t we bring a sheep?” Edward asked. The bitterness in Finch’s eyes returned yet again. “There are no more sheep…” Edward flinched as his father’s nails dug into his skin slightly. “Tthen how will we bait it?” Through the trees, Finch could make out a clearing. Straightening his posture with confidence, he responded. “We’ll think of something…” The sun began to sink in the sky, darkness setting upon the forest. Finch sat with his rifle loaded, resting on his lap, while Edward paced nervously. He looked to his father only once, biting his lower lip in thought. “Papa… Didn’t Mama want us back before sunset?” His father didn’t look at him. “She wanted me back before nightfall, as I promised. I hardly think she knows you came along.” “I… just wanted to help…” Finch glanced up from his rifle and over to where Edward stood. The young boy trembled both from the fear and the cold the evening was bringing upon him. A smile tugged at Finch’s lips as he nodded. 31


“You will, Edward.” Through the thicket, the snapping of twigs rose up. Finch averted his gaze from his son, spotting a pair of golden eyes glinting through the darkness. His shoulders tensed as he hushed his son, motioning through the branches. “Be still.” Edward froze at his father’s words. His eyes remained fixed on the rifle Finch kept in his lap, watching as it was slowly raised. A low growl sounded from the brush as Finch took aim. His hands trembled, heart pounding violently against his chest. With a heavy breath, he grinned. “I’ve got you…” The lantern that hung from the porch burned dim when Finch arrived home. The sun had finally set upon Bridestowe, bringing with it the brutal winter chill. He staggered as he walked, and from a distance in the faint light, Elizabeth could make out the blood that soaked his clothing. In his grasp was a carcass. At first, she remained still on the porch, until her husband drew nearer. It was only then that she realized the body in his arms wasn’t that of an animal. Throwing a hand over her mouth to silence her gasped cry of shock, Elizabeth hurried towards her husband frantically. “Edward!” The boy had been mutilated: torn at every limb, chest cut open and heart removed. The blood clung to his once fair hair, his mother sobbing over him as she ran her fingers through the tangled strands. She couldn’t find words as he looked up at Finch. He stared off, silent. Vacant. 32


“What… what happened?” Elizabeth managed to choke out. Finch didn’t answer her. He only continued to stare into the distance, eyes flickering in the light of the lantern. Elizabeth trembled yet again as she looked him over, spotting the hunting knife strapped to his waist. The blood upon the blade glistened. She tensed as she held her breath, hearing a chuckle from Finch as he finally turned to her. Reaching down, he took hold of her chin, drawing her face up to look at him. She could feel the blood upon his hand spreading across her cheeks as the tears built in her eyes. A smile spread across his lips. In a hushed whisper, he chuckled. “I killed the beast…”

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Flat Line By Dorian J. Sinnott Bright lights surround me—endless walls of white, bleached of any trace of life. The metallic coldness stings beneath me, but I can feel the warm pricking at my skin from above. From those bright lights. My eyes waver opened and closed, and the voices around me are frantic. I can see the shadows—figures—but I can’t make out their faces. The light is too bright. Slowly, I slip back into sleep. There’s darkness pricking at the corners of my vision, endless black I’ve yet to awaken from. Yet, behind closed eyes I see the colors, vibrant memories playing out before me. The warmth returns to me as I wander through the desolate dreams, slideshows painting the walls of my mind. Birthday parties, summer holidays, cozy nights by the fireplace. I never realized how beautiful these moments were—how long I’d neglected to cherish them. There’s a shaft of light streaming in before me, and I can make out two figures standing within. I’m hesitant at first, unsure of those who wait ahead, but as the light begins to dim, I can make out their features: a man and a woman. Father and Mother. A smile stretches across my lips and I can’t help but run towards them. The ground beneath me is uneasy, but I keep pushing on. I call out their names, beckoning them near, but they don’t move. Still as statues they remain, looming in the distance as the light sets behind them, casting their shadows out upon me. The darkness is closing in again. Once more I call out to them, but my legs tremble with each step I take, a burning pain rushing up through them. From the waist down, my body stings—twinging in and out of being numb and in utter agony. I wince as I look back towards my parents, towards 34


the light, but there’s nothing left. They’re slipping farther and farther away. Into the blackness. No, into the light. I fall to my knees and weep at the pain, holding tight to my calves as the throbbing pulses through me. Make it stop… make it stop… It’s cold again, and the metallic chill rushes through me. Deep in my veins, I feel it creeping in. Dripping. One drop at a time. I hold myself, yearning for warmth, but it never comes. Just the frozen feeling of emptiness. Solitude. Isolation. And the pain… My lower extremities go numb. I can hear voices around me once more, fewer than before. I can hear them whispering my name. There are tears in the words spoken. Hidden behind the sounds of machinery—the rhythmic beeps that seem to echo the pulsation of my heart. I place a hand against my chest, feeling each beat, listening to the mechanic resonance—waiting for the flatline. But it doesn’t come. “I’m afraid we see no hope of the boy coming out of it.” One of the voices is clear now, and the harshness of his tone causes me to tremble. The cries grow louder now, and I make out that they are from a woman--Mother! I try to move, but the numbness in my legs keeps me planted where I kneel. I need to get to her. Need to hold her and let her know I’m alright. I can’t stand to hear her cry. “It’s your decision,” the voice states again, gruff and sincere. “His body is as good as dead as it is. While his mind may wander, if he never wakes up… Is that truly living? What I’m asking is, can the both of you handle it?” My blood goes cold as I listen to the words, throat aching as I try to speak out. I need them to hear me. They have to hear me! I open my mouth but I’m lost for sound. Nothing comes 35


from within—not even a small gasp of air, straining to be heard. Nothing. Then, I hear my father. “We’ll do it…” I want the light to return. I’m praying and hoping I could see it again—just once. For my eyes to open and my mind to be set free. I want to see them once more, feel the warmth of unmedicated blood pulsing through my veins. I want to hold Mother and tell her I love her. Tell Father I’m sorry. Hold them close. I want to speak. Just let me speak! I use all the energy I have to attempt to stand. My knees tremble and I feel the muscles tearing as I cringe in agony. It’s unbearable, but I have to stand. I must. They have to see. They have to! The dripping in my veins seems to cease and the mechanical sounds around me die out. All that’s left is the steady beeping, the echo of my heart, beating violently against my chest. Listen! Please listen! I drag myself towards where the silhouettes of my parents once stood, yearning the faint shaft of light that mocks me. I hold out my hand, shaking, and part my lips once more. A weak, rusty sound awakens from deep within my throat and I manage to cry out. “Father! Mother! I’m not really dead!” There’s silence. “Please! I’m not dead…” My eyes fill with tears as my heart starts to slow. “I’m not…” I hear the flatline. 36


Five Poems By Robert Beveridge THE DEVIL (REVERSED) You hadn’t found mile marker 2 yet when the smoke arose from the grille, invited you to stop and take a load off. You wonder when the engine will show you the appropriate use case for a breakdown in the fog, but for now it’s enough to strike out in search of another car.

FOLLOW I always dress in black because that way I can’t be seen at night besides it turns women on at some of the more interesting bars but every time it seems I’m getting somewhere with someone he comes in and kills her I’m starting to get a little angry

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THE HEART SPECIALIST You wonder what the meat is in your omelet, don’t ask because the top story this morning is the disappearance of the zoo’s star panther and the high school’s halfback, notorious for his impulsive romances. Are the two of them on a beach in Mexico, hand in paw, floor plans for their dream house in the sand before them? Or was that a shard of class ring you just picked from your teeth, a shred of fur-black tail? When you reach for the toast, you try your best not to notice the faint WILSON tattoo beneath the buttery sheen.

VIOLENT PLANETS UNDERFOOT barefoot walk on stones violent planets crushed by foot scarred by shadow small white stones smooth cut sole walk light against hard small white barefoot small white rocks face me underfoot white rocks planets crushing underfoot cut stone cut sole drip shadow drip yellow orange red stain small white stones drown rocks drown earth drown violent planets underfoot leave scar leave violent scar scar scar

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WEASEL How your stomach feels at the moment you step off the side of the high rise and how your head feels when your feet stop

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CONTRIBUTORS VISUAL Kay Nyman (p. 1) is a full time freelance artist & illustrator living in New England. Drawing people is her lifelong passion, but she’s also a proud fangirl and will never outgrow the joy of making fanart. Her focus is in traditional art, usually creating with Copic markers and ink. Aside from making art, Kay spends her days trying to keep up with her spunky daughter, drinking tea, and constantly getting distracted by her two cats. Michael Elvidge (p. 22) resides in Durham, Ontario Canada and creates visual arts, writing and music. His work has appeared in BROKEN PENCIL, WENG’S CHOP, MONSTER!, DEVILMAN ZINE, SATURDAY MORNING COMICS. LATE LIST and his own self published comics WHERE EVER and THE ART OF MICHAEL ELVIDGE. Michael has shown in several galleries and creates the internet radio music show, THE COVERAGE RADIO SHOW. CONTACT : facebook.com/cmelvidge/ Denny Marshall (pp. 15, 16, 23, 40) has had art, poetry and fiction published. One recent credit is interior artwork and poetry in Night To Dawn 34 Oct. 2018. See more at www.dennymarshall. com.

WORDS Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over two hundred stories and poems published so far, and three books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors. Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Pink Litter, Triadæ, and Welter, among others. 41


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. Ben Fitts is a musician, writer and zinester from New York. He is the author of over half a dozen published short stories and the creator of the zine A Beginner’s Guide To Bizarro Fiction and The Rock N’ Roll Horror Zine. Denny E Marshall has had art, poetry and fiction published. One recent credit is interior artwork and poetry in Night To Dawn 34 Oct. 2018. See more at www.dennymarshall.com. 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 Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Coffin Bell, The Hungry Chimera, and Soft Cartel. Rachel Cathleen Stewart holds a B.A. in English: Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her poems have appeared in Sequoya Review, Mannequin Envy, Poems Niederngasse, Unlikely Stories, and Slow Trains Literary Journal. Her non-fiction prose has appeared on XOJane.

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Spill Yr

GUTS horror zine Š November 2018

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