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Issue 4 • Halloween Edition

Art Photography Short Stories Poetry Events Reviews  20469.02 Magazine v03.indd 1

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Note from the Editor . . . After many hours of hard work, I am proud to present to you, the first ever print edition of The Curiosity Cabinet, especially for Halloween. Inside you will find the best talent from around the world, displaying their spookiest, darkest work. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has submitted their wonderful work and the people who made this magazine possible. Ian Adamson for always being by my side and keeping me going through the long hours of only having de-caff coffee in the cupboard, Becky Shaw who created our beautiful front cover, James Seymour who made the poems look wonderful and Ash from Alpha Educational Print who made it possible for me to present this issue to you in print. Oh and a huge thanks to you, the reader, for buying this magazine.You’ve helped make it possible to continue creating The Curiosity Cabinet. Curious love, Michelle Keeley (image by Darren Cheshire)

contents . . . Becky Shaw..............................................................................1

James Seymour............................................................14 - 15

Caroline Leech................................................................ 2 - 3

Jonathan Paxton................................................................... 16

Shiverpool......................................................................... 4 - 5

Alexander Kennard............................................................. 17

Paulo Bodriguez......................................................................6

Christopher Parvin.....................................................18 - 21

Ionie Ince, Wallace Barker, Day Mattar..............................7

Trevor Gwin......................................................................... 22

Connor Caple.................................................................. 8 - 9

Laura Von Burns................................................................... 23

Curious Cooking with Lucy Zirins.........................10 - 11

Now You See It.................................................................... 24

Stuart Alexander Rees....................................................... 12

Credits and Contact Details............................................. 25

Scott Hefferman.................................................................. 13 Information of the contributors to this magazine can be found on the back, so go and check them out!

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Becky shaw Becky Shaw is an artist living in Burnley, Lancashire. Take one look at Becky Shaw’s artwork and we don’t have to tell you that her absolute favourite time of year is Halloween - She was right at home working on our Halloween Edition cover design! Her drawings and digital artwork reflect her love of slightly dark, creepy subject matter. Becky has always been ‘the girl who draws’, since Father Christmas brought her first box of crayons, and couldn’t be happier than devoting her days to any artistic pursuit she can get her hands on. She is a huge fan of such genius as Ralph Steadman and Tim Burton. Becky enjoys the traditional method of drawing in ink on paper, then bringing the image to life using Photoshop / Illustrator. She also produces paintings on canvas. Becky completed a HND in Graphic Design at university and is definitely a lady of diversity - The artwork we have featured here is in stark contrast to her creations as owner and designer at Eden Creative Emporium, where Becky enjoys creating a wide range of pretty personalised designs and adorable illustrations for children’s wall art.

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CAROLINE LEECH The following poems are from Caroline’s beautiful book, Tales of Innocence and Darkness, in which you may find light hearted yet dark poems based alongside the most wonderful Victorian photos of children. Caroline is from Kent, England and is a lifetime collector of Victorian photographs, especially of children, and these have been the inspiration for this book. She is also a visionary artist and antique dealer and has a great passion for 19th American and European social history and all things Gothic.

little goth girl Jemima was a different child She was not like other girls. Dainty dolls repulsed her The ones she’d had she’d duly drowned “I’d rather have a goblin” she said “with beady little eyes” Black was the only colour she would wear “In case someone I know dies” At her collar she wore a treasured brooch A moth with moving wings “It’s not a butterfly” she said “they are such silly joyful things. The moth is a creature of the night Night and death are beautiful and serene.” Jemima she saw many deaths. She lived to be ninety-two And when she died the moth flew away Into the darkest wood.

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say your prayers “Say your prayers,” his mother boomed “you wicked evil child. Let us hope that God will save your soul For I can do no more” And in terror every morn and night He would say them loud so that God would hear His mother drank, his father had gone And Thomas lived in fear His mother had taken to beating him At night when she came home drunk One night she came in and pulled his hair And dragged him by his arm “The devil must be shaken out But first I need more gin.” Then she left the house and fell down the stairs God had indeed answered Thomas’ prayers.

ode to poe Abigail loved the writings of Poe They filled the dark forests of her soul She’d shut herself into an old clothes chest And wondered how death would feel If she heard of the murder of a girl in the slums She would go and visit the spot She would read at night by candlelight And watch the pendulum swing on the clock

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Forget everything you thought you knew about ghost tours, Shiverpool (aptly named so because the tour takes place in Liverpool) is a ghost tour with a difference. Formed by a brother and sister ten years ago, it was the first ever ghost walk in Liverpool and was originally called ‘The Hope Street Shivers.’ Now, that one tour has expanded into a whole host of different events taking place over the city. Not only do they have the Hope St Shivers tour (which The Curiosity Cabinet attended) but there’s a range of Shiverpool things to do including a harrowing historical tour of Liverpool’s original streets called the ‘Auld City Shivers’. All of this and more are run by a core team of just six members and a host of loyal volunteers. So what’s the tour like? In short, spectacular. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much on a tour, especially not a ghost walk. Ricky Tomblinson and Mary Shockings, our macabre guides, owned the streets of Liverpool as they showed us around, telling stories and tales about the history of Liverpool, terrifying members of the public, (much to our amusement) and they managed to involve each member of the ‘audience.’ I say audience because it’s part street theatre, part history and part scary tales. Even the actors crossing us across the road safely was made into a piece of street theatre! “Raising the Green Demon.” After the tour we had the honour of a visit to a pub for an interview with Mr Tomblinson & Miss Shockings and we had only been chatting for about ten minutes when a member of the public approached Mary Shockings and said the tour was “boss...and all my mates fancied you.” (Just a quick note, ‘boss’ is Scouse for really good/amazing, so a huge compliment.) The spooky pair said they wanted to make history fun and they cater for groups from all sections of society including schools, churches and hen/stag nights and say the beauty of their job is they are able to adapt to all situations. When asked what the best aspect of their job is, both Mr. Tomblinson and Miss Shockings said “The freedom to express ourselves and the freedom to develop our characters.” It is so clear that they are passionate about their jobs and about ensuring attendees of their tours have a fun, unforgettable experience.

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Both guides had their favourite spooky tale, Mr Tomblinson’s was the macabre Hope Street Body Snatchers tale whilst Miss Shocking’s was the Black Widows of Liverpool (the latter of which can be heard on the Auld City Shivers Tour.) From hard line sceptic to devoted believer, from historian to people with a black sense of humour, Shiverpool offers something for everyone and they do it in a theatrical and fresh way. As Ricky Tomblinson told us, they aim to ‘bring life to the dead’, after all, one of their core values is to ‘think outside the coffin.’ Shiverpool goes from strength to strength and they are engaged in numerous upcoming events.

Upcoming Shiverpool Events: Scarewood Forest (Formby Pinewoods): Running 26th-31st October – Part of Shiverpool’s Halloween festival, you can take the Little Monster’s Tour in the day time or go for the more harrowing and terrifying tour with horrifying installations after dark (not suitable for children.) There is also a family discount available for that perfect spooky family day.You can also expect a delicious market place with hot and cold food provided by the city’s hottest new venue, Camp and Furnace who are creating a Woodland inspired menu. Liverpool’s master of the coffee bean at Bold street coffee will be roasting up his coffee concoctions, we have seasonal games, pixies, fairies and Wizard School and much more! Don’t forget to visit the marketplace too. Vamp & Furnace: The sexy side of Halloween. Live music, Djs, pole dancers, a ‘Spirit Bar’ full of Halloween cocktails, acrobats, horror film screenings and quite frankly, the ultimate Halloween party. Tickets are £20 with student discounts available. Taking place at Santa Chupitos at 10pm. Shiver on the River: Taking place Sunday 28th October on the Mersey Ferry! This is a family friendly event with an opportunity to discover the myths and legends of our proud Maritime history and learn about a mermaid who lures men to their deaths in the Mersey! Shiverschool: Bringing history to life for schools in a fun and accessible way, Shiverschool do workshops in schools and even inhabit St Georges Hall for performances and tutorials on theatre make-up. Contact lucy@shiverschool. com for more info. Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal tours around St Georges Hall which takes you to places usually unseen by the public! See and for more details By Michelle Keeley and Ian Adamson!

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paulo bodriguez hallowe’en haikus Look at my pumpkin I carved it all by myself Now missing fingers

Mummies in the crypt Stumbling forward towards me Tripped on the bandage

Zombies are coming Hand me my machete quick! Need to carve a path

Shiny silver bullet Lets stop this lupine nightmare Aww he likes the bone

Vampires now sparkle?! What the hell is that about? Nosferatu!! Kill!

Cute little faces Happy rotund murderers Cabbage patch dolls maim!

Can you hear the wind? Rattling at the window panes Think I’ll stay in bed

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the wind - ionie ince I hear it at night. Strangled, e l o n g a t e d notes of despair. Wails of lost loves, missed opportunities and untimely ends.

On the outside. No lifelines. Hammering coffin nails and terror into my ear canals. “It’s just the wind,” you say.

Misted palm prints on iced windows. But it’s not.

night drinker - wallace barker I saw glass on the floor nearly slipped carried on into the dining room down into the crypt

the frogs remember anyway it’s in their reptile brain you were the amphibian sleeping under the pond all day

lolly headed drooping reflected in the pool dust on the ceiling, webs in the corners persist down tunnels felt like a ghoul

then back to appointments during the day kept climbing in the morning up the mausoleum steps

the bell jar- Day mattar a decision As quiet and yet entirely present as the moon, the book echoed it’s existence. The walls seemed to rush from it.

I had warned myself from, for fear of dropping into it like a stone. Chambers of words and mirrors. Reach for the book, or turn it away?

Furniture pushed outward, leaving bald, enormous space. It seemed therre was only my hand and the hand that held the book.

I took the book and held it. Mine. I went to sleep. I dreamed of bright light

Small and naked as new-born, just as terrifying and gorgeous. Something

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Connor caple love is like oxygen Hello there.You don’t know me, yet, but you will.You will know me intimately. I will explain everything to you during our time together. It will give me great pleasure and I want you to anticipate it. It is important to me that you anticipate it. I apologise. I’m jumping ahead a little here. Let me fill you in on what is really happening. You see, this is not the story called “Love is like oxygen” that was submitted for this magazine. I have access to the publishing software here and was able to replace that story with my own, the one you are reading now, in this one copy of the magazine only. Only you are reading it. Everyone else who purchases this magazine will get the real story called “Love is like oxygen” which is, I am sure, a fine story.You, on the other hand, have been selected randomly to receive this message. I had to make it random to make it more interesting. After all, if I choose the victim myself then I can just make it too easy. I apologise once more. I am yet again getting ahead of myself. Please, allow me to explain. Some time ago I was engaged to be married to a girl whom I thought to be wonderful. She had beauty, she had intelligence, she had manners and she came from a good background. I thought we were very much in love and that our lives together would be idyllic. We would have children and grandchildren. We would grow old together. We would sit on a bench somewhere on the common and stare out across the landscape and watch the sunset. People would write poetry about how beautiful our love and life together was.You see, that’s what I thought, but it turned out that I was incorrect. Only a month before our wedding, when almost everything was planned and invitations had been sent on the cake had been ordered and address had been made and… Well, you get the idea don’t you? That was when she decided to call it all off. She said I was not the man she had thought me to be. She said some of my behaviour concerned her. She wondered why I was not compassionate towards others as I was towards her. She said her friends did not like me. She said they could not see me the way that she could see me. I assured her that I could change my behaviour should she so desire it, but she said that was not the issue. She said that she wanted them to see the real me, the way she could see me, and that I had built some kind of wall to keep them all out. She was distraught and she left me. My further protestations over the months were to no avail. She insisted that I could not hide my true self from her friends or from the world. I could not see any easy solution to this as anyone who knew me well at any point realised that my true self was the last thing anyone wanted to see. I had learned over the years to fake emotions and to fake concern for others and to pretend that societal mores mattered but it was all just an act. Showing my true self to others was what had caused the problems in the first place. Fortunately, I had learned to disguise my true self at an early age which had resulted in my release from the institution and the care of the psychiatrists. When one is intelligent enough psychiatrists are easy to fool. Simply studies in psychiatry and give them the answers they are looking for. They want to believe. They need

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to feel that they are clever and that they have analysed your issues and that their therapy is effective, so simply make it so. For people with doctorates they really are not that intelligent. Of course, that may be an unfair comparison for me to make. After all, as a young teenager my IQ was measured at over 180 points and has improved considerably since then. At a basic level this means that I make your average genius look like a retard. This has made me very lonely.You see, people do not take into consideration how extreme intelligence separates you from the rest of the human race. When the remainder of your species begin to look like cattle it is hard to have compassion for them, it is difficult to give a dam what they are doing or what others are doing to them when one feels that they have no intrinsic value whatsoever. So now, you must see my dilemma? How could I allow her to see the real me? I had chosen her carefully, with much forethought to ensure that she matched as many of the criteria as possible that would allow us to create progeny that would have a real chance of success in this world. She did not seem to understand this and, unfortunately, owing to her lower IQ she never would understand. So, I decided I would let her friends see the real me. The first was, as I recall, named Elizabeth. She was a close friend of my betrothed and they had known each other since infancy. I waited in her house and abducted her. I took her to a secluded location where I kept her alive for around a week whilst I carefully peeled her and removed her limbs while she still breathed. It was quite an interesting experiment to see how much pain one of these creatures could stand before passing out each time. I had hoped that the tolerance to pain would rise over the course of the week, but she just began to pass out sooner each time. I reasoned that this was owing to the anticipation. She knew what I was going to do to her next, because I told her in detail on the previous day. The fear of what was about to happen to her obviously raised the level of terror that she experienced and caused her brain to shut down that much earlier. This became interesting. I abducted more of her friends and continued my experimentation. Eventually the bodies started to be found and word got around that it seemed to be me. The police were searching for me in their usual bumbling manner telling everyone that I was a dangerous suspect; that I might be armed and not to approach me; that I had done unspeakable things to my victims. It was all quite amusing really, but it did spoil the experiment. People became more wary. The intense fear amongst the circle of her friends rose to such a level that, when I abducted the next one, she passed out as soon as she saw me. Now I say that this spoilt the experiment, but I suppose in actuality it simply confirmed my results – that the anticipation caused the terror to rise logarithmically. I eventually reasoned that the close-knit group of friends must now be engaged in some type of mass hysteria so any further results would have to be deemed unscientific. That was the point at which I hit upon my new idea. If I could select a totally random victim and let them know that I was coming for them and what I was likely to do to them, then that would eradicate this part of the equation because they were not part of that circle of hysteria. So here we are. Just you and me. In about a week, I shall come for you. I shall take you somewhere secluded, quiet and remote. I shall subject you to pain and experimentation and amputation. I shall pop your eyeballs out onto your cheeks. I shall insert hot and sharp implements into your bodily orifices and then I shall peel strips of your skin off as you watch. It will be a fine experiment. Remember, this is for science. Please set your affairs in order. I am looking forward to our time together‌

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curious cooking Curious Cooking with Lucy Zirins

To match the Halloween theme for this month’s issue of “The Curiosity Cabinet” I have decided to give you readers a spooky Autumnal cupcake recipe you can make at home to delight (or scare – depending how successful your bake is!) your friends and family! This month’s recipe is Devilish Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with a ghostly white chocolate frosting… enjoy! Lucy X

Devilish Chocolate Orange Cupcakes With Ghostly Frosting INGREDIENTS: For the cupcakes:

For the frosting:

• 50g/2oz of orange flavoured dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference dark orange bar) • 85g/3oz butter or baking margarine • 1 tbsp milk • 200g/8oz self-raising flour • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda • 85g/3oz light muscovado sugar • 50g/2oz golden caster sugar • 1 egg • 1 small carton of sour cream (about 150ml) • Zest of one orange

• • • • • •

85g/3oz white chocolate, broken into pieces 85g/3oz soft butter 140g/5oz icing sugar Few drops vanilla essence A little orange zest Decorations of your choice!

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METHOD: • Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 5/190c/fan170c and line a muffin tin with 10 muffin cases. • In one bowl melt your dark chocolate.You can do this over a pan of hot water or use my preferred method – 30 – 1 minute blasts in the microwave followed by a good stir each time until it melts. Just keep an eye it doesn’t burn! • In another bowl melt your butter – again 1 minute in the microwave should do it! • Combine the melted butter and chocolate together until glossy and set aside to cool down. • In another large mixing bowl mix together your sugars, flour and bicarbonate of soda using a wooden spoon and set aside. • Beat your egg in a small bowl or jug and then beat the tub of sour cream into the egg. Pour this into the flour, sugar and bicarbonate mixture and add the combined melted chocolate and butter. Grate in the zest of one orange and stir together until combined and you should have a deliciously devilish fudgy batter! • Spoon into your muffin cakes and bake for between 20 and 25 minutes.You know the cupcakes are ready if you lightly press the top of them and they spring back up. If they don’t they aren’t quite ready and leave them in for another 5 – 10 minutes. • Take out the cupcakes when ready and place on a cooling rack to cool. • While they are cooling you can make your frosting. • Melt your white chocolate and set aside. • Combine soft butter and icing sugar in a bowl (I do this using the back of a fork and a squishing motion against the side of the bowl until it all comes together enough to stir) and add the melted white chocolate , a little orange zest and a few drops of vanilla essence. Stir together, pop in a piping bag and when your cupcakes are cool you can ice them and decorate! ENJOY! ☺

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stuart alexander rees ode to the closing eye Big Brother,Voyeur, Jailer It feels like you have observed forever Your architecture of protection Has become a theme of correction Tendrils of bionic eyes strangle this land-locked nation.

But I too stare. I stare, and wait, as eyes fixate. Into the camera lens of deceit A trance of anticipation Your field of view is upon a sleeper nation The passage of time is the greatest ally A moment will come of the closing eye To blink, you must, to readjust And for a moment, we’ll be free by your opaque shutting

No question, reason, control These panoptocon streets you exercise total control Houses like cells in an organism of submission Fed impulses of mis-information, lies well known Our entertainment is false-realities, plotted competition

I watch you, observing me. Wondering when that time will be.

Your unquestionable dominance Your inactive omnipotence Pacified view All of our lives, our actions, our dreams Are fed onto you

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scott hefferman

Scott Hefferman is a photographer from Burnley. After starting off drawing realistic images when he was younger, he moved on to photography 6 years ago. “It was only a matter of time before I stopped reproducing other artists work and started making the images for myself.” And as it’s the Halloween edition, we asked Scott what his favourite thing about Halloween is; “It’s got to be the dressing up! Not by me, mind.” He is currently working on a body of work called ‘The Here and Now’ which is a series of long exposure images aiming to suggest that people generally need to slow down and live in the here and now. You can view more of his work at

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Andy looked deep into The mirror, But reflected back At him Was not a person He recognised!


Pac-Man’s career As a pop star In the 80s Had gotten Off to a Rather rocky start.

(Creepy, right?)

After one performance He was mobbed It wasn’t until a By a gaggle Spine-chilling Of maniacally jubilant 30 seconds had Teenage girls, Passed that Who chased him He then realised Through the ink-jet He had Black streets of Been looking into Manchester city centre. A high-street shop winUnfortunately, they were dow, and Garbed in multi-coloured Staring at an Bed sheets, merchandise Increasingly uncomfortable Of the most Female shop assistant. Garish variety (They had camped Andy was hung over. Outside the venue Andy was an idiot. For tickets the Night before) That made them Look really spooky And ghostly. The horrors of A previous life Came flooding back, And he wet himself Like a weeping sun.


“I will feast On your entrails. I will suck The juices of Your eyeballs As they are Held on the Ends of my fingers. I will eat Your intestines And spleen Like they were Linguini. I will imbibe Your bone marrow. I will bathe In your blood. It will be The perfect Aperitif As I tear The flesh from Your impotent carcass.” “… Would you like A soft drink With that meal, sir?” Replied the Pimply-faced Teen behind The fast-food counter To the ravenous Vampire.

James Seymour

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jonathan paxton unholy trinity In the early days of film, horror was extremely popular with movie goers. Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff made stars of themselves and the genre was a huge money spinner for studios in the 1930s. After the war though, horror had taken a knock. Science fiction was becoming better box office and Hollywood wasn’t keen on turning out controversial, dark material. It fell to the British, and one studio in particular, to keep horror movies alive. Hammer Studios are now infamous for making cheap, cheesy horror films but, in the 1950s, their output was pretty ground breaking. In picking up the baton from Universal Studios with adaptations of Frankenstein and Dracula they added virility, more than a splash of colour (mainly red) and an ensemble cast of regular actors headed by two men who would become icons for the studio and horror in general. Christopher Lee was a tall, imposing figure with dashing good looks giving him a tremendous screen presence. As the creature in the 1957 film “The Curse Of Frankenstein” he was partnered with Peter Cushing, a more distinguished actor with a sinister edge. The two would later famously star in “Dracula”, a rather dastardly version of “Hound Of The Baskervilles” and a host of other horror films, forming a strong professional relationship and lifelong friendship. The two became synonymous with Hammer and the genre but struggled to break away from horror roles. Lee went on to play a series of villains, notably “The Man With The Golden Gun”, and Cushing is perhaps responsible for the largest mass murder in movie history in ordering the destruction of the planet Alderaan as Gran Moff Tarkin in “Star Wars”. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, one man was standing out as the torch bearer for American horror.Vincent Price had a rasping voice and pronounced features that leant themselves to sinister characters and, with the 3D film “House Of Wax,” he starred in one of the most profitable horror movies of the time. Price would go on to star in a series of horror films and TV shows, many based the on tales of Edgar Allan Poe, and he relied on a slightly camp and humorous approach to the roles. In 1968 though he played things stern and serious in “Witchfinder General”, a film full of torture and sadism but one in which Price provides his finest performance. Although their paths crossed many times, the three were united on screen just once, in 1983. “House Of The Long Shadows” is a sweet homage to the horror films of the trio’s past (particularly Price’s 1959 film “House on Haunted Hill”) with a dark and ominous remote house, a crackling thunder storm and two young characters trapped in unfamiliar surroundings. The film is far from great but with a long creak of a door hinge and clap of thunder, one by one the three stars arrive, dominating the screen and our attention. Whilst the ‘lead’ actors struggle with the most basic of scripts, the Price/Cushing/Lee triumvirate manage to lift entire scenes with a simple raised eyebrow and make the most preposterous of dialogue sound enchanting. They each play their role rather comically, Cushing, in particular generating laughs, and when the horror eventually arrives, although scary, the tongues are still firmly placed in cheeks. Whilst Olivier, Guinness and Brando won respect and awards from their peers, history often overlooks those actors whose careers were built upon horror. This isn’t to say that their skills were any less refined or that their films didn’t bring joy to millions, rather that horror has always been seen as the lesser form of drama. Fortunately we have a a back catalogue of films that shock, scare and above all entertain, which after all is what movies are all about.

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alexander kennard corruption of the flesh It begins with horns towering cornucopias twisting ceaselessly upwards & scarring the peeling plaster

The pasty gum pulls at his eyelid he stretches the skin until it detaches and snaps against his eyeball with a wet delicious slap

Passing over sloping forehead a pair of watery black eyes glaring an inhuman challenge years of tradition breathing heavily through a shapely Roman nose

Like trousers the pelt slides over the wiry hair of his thighs reveals an alltoohuman cock

He is beautiful a gargantuan mass of Minoan skin stretched over superhuman muscles erupting in a wiry pelt finally halting in cloven hoof

He bends the horns one in each thin fist at each base surface creases appear horns pull at his forehead he breaks them in half looks at himself in the mirror and wipes the makeup from his eyes a pretty young thing waiting for the warning knock on the door

Did you stand before him cowering or erect He audibly sighs as he awkwardly sits a laughable animal imitation of a simple human process With a movement approximating grace he flicks one hoof from the end of a thickly calloused toe into the corner & then the other massages new life into the long-stifled tendons and laments the coming visit to the gym

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christopher parvin devil: an installation The gallery is a converted prison, concrete outer walls left grey and crumbling so the sheer white of the atrium blinds. New strip lighting hums cold and harsh overhead the whole building gutted and reboned with breezeblock columns like an industrial cathedral. As my wife pays I stand by the front windows watching rain sluice down the glass my reflection a dark twin against the royal blue night. It’s late. It’ll be closing soon, which is her fault again. A breath of Shalimar and the door is held open for a woman to exit. I catch a glimpse of her face mirrored next to mind, a flash of painful crimson in her eyes and a feral grin and she is gone into the dark. The rain is too heavy for me to see where she goes but it must be towards the car park. Just a reflection of brake lights I guess. That feral grin lingers in my mind twitching like Viagra. ‘Here. I can’t believe they are charging that much.’ I take the rather thick guide from Laura. ‘Why did you buy this? We don’t need a bloody guide.’ ‘I....’ she hesitates, as she always will and I’m forced to take the lead. ‘Just come on.’ I make my way around the stainless steel information desk and into the gallery’s main hall. The renovation has reached the cells so we come out in an immense cruciform space each of the former prison’s three wings branching off and spotted with dark doorways like oddly neat cave mouths. People mill around and talk quietly. The normality of damp wool and rain coats, a few shopping bags and the occasional dour looking child hanging from a parent’s tight grip is reassuring. It’s just a gallery; perhaps not inviting with its old prison skeleton and fresh hospital sterility but just a gallery. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve been to one. Laura follows me as I walk off down the east wing and peer in through empty door frames. Colour is

like a blow to the head. Every inch of the first cell has been splashed liberally with paint in vivid neon blues, reds and greens. Childlike stars in canary yellow punctuate great swirling purple clouds, sways of emerald and gold in a madcap expression of sky. The guide says it’s a representation of all the things the prisoner missed about the outside world, not created by the prisoner but an artist channelling his spirit. I feel a sudden lifting sensation, a bubble of laugher like cola in my windpipe. Portentous shit. The cell is amazing, chaotic yes, but amazing. Why saddle it with more intention than it needs. I move on and I start to enjoy myself. Each cell is different. I vaguely remember the competition mentioned on the news calling for new and established artists, I even recognise some of the names. Laura is soon called away by some artist friend she knows. I stand alone, glowering at her back but she doesn’t turn around. I only came here for her for God’s sake. Noticing a few looks aimed my way I school my scowl and start walking from one cell to another. The few foot of brilliant white wall in-between acts like a pallet cleanser turning my anger dull and black. I take my time. Not all the cells are painted. One cell contains only a bunk and a dark grey statue standing in its centre and seemingly fused to the floor. It’s nondescript, androgynous, its face chiselled into rough planes and yet somehow familiar. ‘An example of the indiscriminate nature of sin,’ I read under my breath conscious of the people around me. Because that’s the one theme; sin. Even the joyous explosion of paint in the first cell is a reminder the prisoner missed these things because he was incarcerated. It caused a stir in the media. What about miscarriages of justice, what about corrupt legal

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systems, people falling through the cracks and all that crap. Laura suggests it’s all just a publicity stunt but what does she know, six years and she’s not sold a single painting. ‘Enjoy it while it lasts’, she says, ‘the whole building is scheduled for demolition in the new-year anyway. It’s only been allowed for one purpose.’ I look for that purpose now despite the unease like a chill breeze in my ribcage but there are no signs for the special exhibition. I sigh and continue. The next cell still has its door and a piece of A4 refill pad taped to its surface tells me to slide back the viewing slot. The metal is cold to the touch, almost icy, and for a moment I hesitate. ‘Go on then,’ a tall cheerful woman with unruly dark hair encourages me the faintest hint of Shalimar drifting from her. Is there a sale on? They could be sisters. My eyes trace the line of her bra through her thin blouse and for a second I’d back in a hotel room with another woman, another time. She colours under my stare and I play with the idea of asking her to the bathroom but Laura’s laugh echoes through the room. I can’t see her but she’s always bloody there somewhere. I turn resolutely and slide the slot back with force feeling my neck flame. Embarrassment is lost as we both stare in shock. The cell has been turned into an aquarium complete with large darting carp in orange and white and soft aqua underwater lighting. ‘And to think I wasn’t going to come today, with the weather and all,’ the woman grins nervously, ‘what’s it got to do with sin though?’ I flick through the guide and show her. ‘It’s a Suicide Bowl. What’s that mean?’ We peer back through the slot and finally make out the shape of naked shop mannequins chained to chunks of rock. ‘Well,’ the woman pauses, ‘that kind of ruins it.’ I’m about to disagree when Laura appears at our shoulder. She spares a moment for the cell, face registering admiration, before she grabs my arm. I fight an urge to drag it from her grip. ‘You have to see this.’ ‘What?’ I already know. ‘The Devil, he’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. The newspapers don’t do him justice.’ I nod a polite farewell to the woman who is staring back into the cell with a sudden melancholy expression and let Laura lead me through the north wing to a black door. A security guard stands

beside it with a clipboard and stops Laura before she can pull on the handle. ‘Sorry, only ten at a time. If you’d like to sign these waivers it’ll just be a few minutes.’ The black door against so much white is an abscess. ‘What’s this for?’ I snap. ‘Just a general cover for the gallery, some people will find the installation distressing.’ I sign in silence Laura already having been through this once. Gradually a line forms behind us and I’m reminded of waiting for rides at Alton Towers. A slick feeling in my palm surprises me. I almost laugh, a great belly laugh that would shake this place up. It’s all just bloody superstition. I’m not even fucking religious. The doors open and for an idiot second my limbs snap rigid convinced it’ll be the Devil who walks out. It’s just the previous viewers some looking excited others a little sickened and pale. Was that a glitter of crimson? A heavy built middle aged man nods at me the small inclined of his head oddly predatory. I don’t see his eyes before he turns away. A tiny woman in a dark grey pantsuit stops before us and grins a 100 watt smile. ‘Next 10 please,’ she announces loudly and I read her name tag. Samantha. Not unattractive if you fancy dwarfs. ‘You are about to enter the old isolation area of the prison, it’s a bit of a warren and it’s not all been converted so please stay with me until we reach the final room. I know I’m small but I’ve got a big voice.’ A few titters of laugher sound like recordings. ‘Come on through. No photography please. That’s right single file.’ Laura squeezes my hand and for once I don’t pull away. We’re led into a squat grey corridor. Conversation stalls. Every so often we’ll pass a security guard standing like a monolith in a recess. ‘The guide,’ Laura waves her rolled up brochure, ‘estimates he’s worth close to ten million, but it’s got to be more. I mean I’m no expert but after all this publicity he could sell for at least twice that.’ A man behind us quickens his pace to join in. ‘Did you hear about the building being prepared in Istanbul? Ransacked,’ he continues without waiting for an answer. ‘They don’t want the exhibition moving there. Some people just don’t appreciate art.’

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She nods. I fight an urge to applaud the Turkish and stare the man down. ‘Here we are,’ Samantha thrills from a large doorway flooding the corridor with bright light. We pass two guards standing either side and into a largish room. I hold my breath. He is there slumped back on a simple wooden kitchen chair inside a cage I guess is more for security against theft than against him. Long limbs seem made of dripping tar left to set so its thick ridges and ripples are screaming organic, mushroom like against the pitch black. There is no flesh visible beneath the tar. It encases a thin chest and emaciated arms, bloating at a large belly, the horribly enlarged balls of his knees like evidence of illness. It glistens and obscures. Even his head is a spiked mass covering any feature or discernible expression. ‘Why....’ I almost choke on my words realising I’m the first to speak. Laura is too busy studying the display with her new friend. Why doesn’t she just fuck him? ‘Yes?’ Samantha looks over. ‘Why is he covered in tar?’ I say firmly. Her puzzlement dissolves into another grin, ‘oh I see. No that’s his skin and if you look closely you’ll see the souls currently passing through him into hell.’ On cue we all bend closer to the solid bars and peer into the black. Ghostly shapes cavort up from his clumpy brunt looking toes to the ridged peak of his forehead. Some are pearlescent, others the dark rainbow of water and petrol. ‘It’s said,’ Samantha continues in her too loud, sing song public speaking voice, ‘that the number of souls passing through him at any given moment is close to one hundred.’ I remember this conversation, lying sticky and naked on crisp hotel sheets Kelley talking in the quite voice that first drew me to her. ‘They say it’s the souls that keep him sedated, you know like a junky constantly getting his fix,’ she’d said before asking me to take her to see it. I can’t remember what excuse I came up with to back out. Laura is fascinated. Under halogen her skin is sallow, pours gape. I get the feeling she’ll be back a third time before the exhibition ends in a month. In fact I’m the only member of the crowd looking remotely ill at ease. I want to leave. Sweat pricks the small of my back. I can feel a solitary bead

rolling from my armpit and suddenly feel sick. Samantha is talking and it just sounds like noise. Hoping movement will calm me I walk around the cage. Bolted to the back of the Devil’s chair is a small steel plaque. I try to focus, let the simple act of reading fill my mind. ‘We are legion.’ My throat feels cemented. I can’t help thinking about Kelley, the way she rides me as Laura used to before we were married. More souls spiral up the Devil’s jagged shoulder blades. We are legion. What does that mean? ‘Right ladies and gentlemen if I can ask you to leave via the same door. All the information I have given you is available in the guides for sale at the front desk along with scale models of the installation and postcards....’ Samantha trails off as she disappears down the corridor and I all but run to the door. One last look. Vomit claws at my throat, the comfortable weight of my boots distant. He’s moved. I mean he’s still right where he was, not a finger out of place, but he’s also in the corner a shivering mess the tar like substance of his body no longer static but dripping in long sinuous trails to the spotless floor. I blink and it’s gone. A sense of dislocation, of ripping, snags my chest. I want to be sure but there’s nothing there. Hallucination I smile. All this paint must be fresh. Fumes can do strange things to someone’s mind. My stomach settles. Breath returns to aching lungs. I’m done with art galleries. The others are already in the corridor. I don’t see Laura. With no little thanks I leave the Devil to his sleep. A tannoy system plays a loud series of beeps as I re-enter the shockingly bright prison wings. People are making for the lobby and I realise they are closing. Searching for Laura I see her ahead arm linked with a man in a brown coat oddly similar to mine. A sullen anger makes my shoes clip on the parquet but as I draw closer doubt liquefies my stomach. The coat isn’t just similar it is mine, an exact replica of the one I’m wearing. My stare burrows into the man’s head as if by sheer will I can get him to turn and then he does and I stumble. It’s me, crimson eyed and grinning. They start to walk away.

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‘Hey!’ I shout, ‘HEY!’ Nobody reacts and my shout doesn’t echo. No one even looks my way. I grab at the nearest visitor, an old man more stick than flesh and though my fingers clutch at his coat sleeve the impressions I make in the fabric threatening to tear he don’t stop or flinch or blink. Fear and confusion drives me. I catch up with Lauran by the information desk and there I am again, me but not me, still holding her arm and smiling at the staff who are holding the doors for everyone to leave. I need to get out. It’s a psychotic break I reason, nothing else. As long as I stay with my Laura, stay with my body, I’ll wake in the morning and all will be well. I’m not making sense. Stay with my body but that’s not me, that smile is too wide, a pinching around the eyes and those crimson irises in my face. I’ve hesitated too long. They are through the exit. I make to follow and can’t cross the threshold. Sudden salt clots in my mouth. I’ve bitten through my tongue. ‘Laura!’ I splutter. Other visitors pass me by. Not through me but moving like water around a stone. I plant myself in their way and I’m roughly pushed aside by the man who’d stood behind us in the room landing flat on my face a smear of blood like raspberry jam on the floor. His face hadn’t changed, the benign look of someone remembering where they parked their car or thinking what to eat when they get home hadn’t even flickered. It’s no good. No one is looking at me. They can’t fucking see me! I rush back into the wings in search of stragglers but it’s empty. No, that’s not quite right. I pause holding my breath and strain to hear. Grunts crawl across the space. Hesitantly I peer into the first cell and painfully swallow a scream. A naked man coiled in thick muscle stands sweating in the room aggressively throwing paint at the walls his glistening skin a mirror image of the swirling patters surrounding him. My world inverts, the yellows I’d took pleasure in are now the colour of sliced fat, the sheer intricacy of the swirls and the carnal vividness of the shades like looking through a wound into the muscles and guts of a corpse. The man’s grunts are half agony half pleasure as if each fist of paint to hit the walls is akin to masturbation.

I run not looking where I’m going. Catching sight of an unruly head of dark hair I almost cry, but the woman I took to be so cheerful passes straight though the solid metal door and into the Suicide Bowl beyond. My legs go out from under me and I sit until the throbbing of my swollen lip becomes my heart beat. I just need to wait until morning. Psychotic break, it’s all in my head, even now I’m in the car on the way home telling Laura to change the channel from classical in case I fall asleep behind the wheel. Crimson eyes. I’ll wake in the morning and Laura will make breakfast. We are legion. But we’re out of bacon so she’ll have to make sausage. I just need to last until morning. On hands and knees I claw my way to the nearest cell, crawling around the statue filling the floor and curling up on the bunk behind its stone legs. Sleep and everything will be fine in the morning. I clutch the guide until my knuckles ache and the gallery lights switch off with a sharp crack. A dripping sound runs cold through my body. I breathe louder, forcing air in and out of my lungs in a harsh pant but it’s there as an undertone, something dripping in the dark.

The Devil on horseback with a woman

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trevor gwin

When I asked for submissions for this issue, I wanted people to interpret the theme of horror however they wanted. As much as I adore the light hearted side of Halloween, Trevor submitted something which he interpreted to be a true horror; dementia. Waving goodbye to forgotten friends is a beautifully haunting and dark series of paintings depicting the loss of someone’s memory.

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laura von burns Laura Von Burns is a quirky, comic book loving illustrator from Liverpool. She has a unique and interesting style of illustration that clashes pin up, comic book, traditional illustration and bright bold colours. She has been a fan of art and design since she laid hands on a pen, and has recently graduated from LJMU with a degree in illustration. Not only has illustration played a big part in her childhood, but she is now trying to pursue a career as a freelance graphic designer.

For her work she uses fine liners, brush pens and photoshop to create her bold,unique styles. She specialises in character design (especially sexy ladies) as well as mini comic books.

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the magic shop under the stairs

On the ground floor of Grand Central, Liverpool, deep within the maze of quirky, curious shops, lies the only Magic Shop in Liverpool. ‘Now You See It’ is home to two professional Magicians, Jonti Sparrow and Aaron Hayes, who set the shop up in February after the pair realised there was nowhere in Liverpool for aspiring magicians to learn or buy products. They don’t just sell tricks for beginners, (a popular product being design cards) but stock for the more accomplished in the world of wizardry and there are some really bizarre items for sale. Think lighters shooting 5ft flames and wallets that set fire to themselves when you open them. So what advice do they give for aspiring magicians? Aaron said “Don’t try and fast track. Start with the basics; a trick deck and a book. Do your research and always remember to credit other people’s tricks.” Being magicians themselves, I had to ask them a few of their favourite (and not-so-favourite) things about the magic world. They like Penn and Teller and they don’t like The Masked Magician. When I asked why, Aaron said that ‘He turns magic into a puzzle and it shouldn’t be.’ Aaron’s favourite magic trick is Metal Bending and Jonti’s is a trick called ‘Blast Off’. I couldn’t leave without asking to see a few magic tricks and after coughing up a card I’d signed and put back into the pack and then somehow making a whole side of a playing card disappear and then appear on another card (both of which me and my friend were holding) I was left sufficiently mind blown. These are two wonderfully entertaining and talented men, who are doing something rather special for this City. They are providing people with the opportunity to learn an art which can sometimes be very secretive and they having fun doing it. Did I mention their prices are reasonable too? In short these guys are awesome and I’m a little bit in love with their amazing little shop. Now You See It are now selling sweets and practical jokes for Halloween as well as gift vouchers and magic sets (a brilliant idea for Christmas gifts) Not only this but if you have a valid student I.D you get 10% discount in store! You can check out their website at or find them on Facebook/Twitter. (details in back of magazine) You can also see them perform under the stage name, ‘Wizards of Odd’ – not to mention that * is the magician for the MOBO Awards taking place at the Echo Arena, Liverpool. By Michelle Keeley

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curious people contact details Feel free to get in touch with the people who appear in this magazine and check their work out further! Everyone who has left their details appears on this page. Keep your eyes peeled for anyone else on the Facebook page!

Michelle Keeley: Ian Adamson: Ashleigh Coupland: Now You See It Magic shop: • 01515382043 Under the Stairs, Grand Central, 35 Renshaw Street, Liverpool, L1 2SF Shiverpool: Laura Von Burns: Lucy Zirins: Stuart Alexander Rees: Ionie Ince: Becky Shaw: James Seymour: Christopher Parvin: Jonathan Paxton: Caroline Leech: Thank you to Ian Adamson, James Seymour, Ashleigh Coupland from Alpha Educational Print, Becky Shaw & Ionie Ince from Party In Your Eyesocket Magazine.

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Submit your work to Tweet us at @CurioCabMag Facebook us at

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Curio Halloween  

Halloween special edition of the curiosity cabinet