Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clockwork of Love by Justin Singh

Amongst a growing silence which had slowly convinced me of my mind turning deaf, there stood a meal on a blood stained floor. A meal which was illuminated from the only window in the room, a faint sparkle gently warming the rotting cuisine. My hunger ached in soft melodies, restrained with haunting chills from the metal chains wrapped around my bare skin. These chains stood as the only factor parting the distance between myself and my expanding desire to feast on the delicacy. So I stared into the meal and thought. I thought about how much I needed the meal, how much I wanted the meal, and how the aroma of the meal floated upstream into my nostrils only to tease my hunger.
As time went on so did the silence. I needed to break it.

I love you.”

The silence shot back. No response.

I truly do.”

Mute air entered my ear then took its' leave. Not a sound.

I deserve you.”

This time there was an audible response. Not from the meal, but from the sound of a whip lashing against my back. I grunted and the attack continued in a fluctuating pattern. My once cold back was now blushing with gashes seeping shades of scarlet. Regardless of the suffering, I cringed in my attempt to keep a locked gaze at the meal. I required the meal to make it through the pain.

I promise not to leave behind crumbs.”

The lashing was harder now.

I can handle you. I swear!”

In that moment, the tune of creaking quenched my distress as the tight grips of metal around my arms and ankles were released. No longer did I feel pinned to a state of collective desires and dreams, but rather I felt that I had the heart of a lion. The whip lashes, too, had halted in rhythm. I took a deep breath and pursued the meal coated in sunlight.
I was limping towards it while my emotions were set ablaze. It was in that moment, those quick few moments, that I went from being a chained man with fantasies of arousing my hunger, to a man pouncing his goal. This was the time to feast. The moment where this meal, as if it was a gentle candle, was to be treated with aggression. I was going to set this candle ablaze, make it plunge the world into a shivering flame that could not be stopped.
I lunged onto the meal alas, looking into the eyes of a decaying carcass. The eyes under lids desaturated of color stared back at me stripped of emotion, almost as if it was looking right through me. This was my meal. It was my one and only. My love. My head dived into the carved opening in the chest, and I felt thick fluids paint my face a terrifying red. I then opened my mouth, wriggled my tongue to find the fleshiest piece of meat I could find, and munched on it. My teeth drilled into cushioned tenderness. It felt squishy when chewing, but I forced my body to withstand past the icky wonders of the human anatomy and simply swallow regardless of any gagging. I munched and munched until my teeth grew weary and my lungs exhausted. Snapping my head out of the body, I began to take inhales, sharp in nature because of the blood shooting up my nose with each gasp. My damp hair leaked droplets of blood into my eyes, blurring my vision. Rubbing my eyes while swaying the flow of my hair made for a steadying of sight. With this, I unwillingly gave attention to what stood against the wall in front of me. It was a shelf which held the most interesting of objects. The shelf boasted heads. Yes, human heads. Pale in skin yet deep in soul. The spirit came from their eyes which had a certain character in them, the type that had a story untold. A story that I wished to know yet had no way of hearing.
The chance of such a sight being in that very room triggered my urge to inspect more. I turned around and what I saw was a woman stripped of clothes, whip in one hand and knife in the other. She had silky long white hair, and strangely enough, I fell in love with her by just a second. It was not the type of love that I held for my meal once before. This love had been a tree grown where no tree had ever thrived before. It took the form of a fragment beyond my imagination, wanting to clash within the rest of me. So, I allowed it to.
She walked toward me, placed her frail hand onto my ear, and leaned forward to speak.

Do you wish to find out if your love is truly everlasting?”
I wish for that. Yes.”

Her soft words made me weep. I cried tears of anticipation, for I would know in time if my love was truly true. With that exchange of words, my head was decapitated. Her knife cut through me with a glorious sense of compassion. Pain had taught me love now. Though, I had become confused for a moment. Or, it is better said that a trace of confusion lingers within me even now. My eyesight maintains function, as does the eagerness within my ears to hear.

I was carried to the shelf of heads, still dripping blood. She placed me down and kissed me on the forehead. Before she returned to the other end of the room, the last words I had heard from her were spoken.

From this moment, until the end.”

So here I am now. A mere head on a shelf of fellow heads, bathing in the clockwork of love.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Malcom by Beau Johnson

Perhaps he was always meant to do this; destiny being the reason he ends up doing what he does. He is a cliché, yes, but the culmination is at least a truism he feels he can embrace. Now that he thinks about it, he’s pretty sure it is the only reason he has gotten as far as he has.
One by one they will die---their screams to become the clarity I divide.
That was Bellick, a soldier he’d served with overseas. Loud, Bellick had been the type of person who attracted attention, wanted or otherwise, and for it he didn’t last long. He felt he should be able to recall this man, his face and eyes and height, but found that he could not---the images brought forth a mess and abrupt blur. However, it wasn’t the man’s appearance that was important---this which haunts him still.
On his badge his name reads Malcolm, but not that you would look. His thighs and knees now one, he stops and takes a seat. He watches you as you walk; your children and wife as well. It is here he bears witness to what you truly are; that he and you are more alike that you would ever care to know---that the darkness found in you is the darkness found in him. He watches. He waits. And as he slowly counts backwards from ten he sees you eye-fuck everything you can. Cleavage is your vice, but rump, as your ego, is far from second best.
Never caught, you make him smile. Justification, he thinks, and rubs his gut that’s grown. He over-eats because he’s compulsive, the thoughts he creates as dark as planted seed. One chip, two chip, three chip, four.
“Malcolm. You about ready?” He says yes, put his glasses back on and follows Marty back and to their post. He’s in the kitchen now, there within the bottom floor of Cinderella Castle at the end of Main Street in the Magic Kingdom of this, the Evil Empire. He is a cook here, just as he was in Iraq. Two years of clean up duty on the grounds of Epcot and Hollywood Studios it took to achieve this, but by tomorrow morning-noon, it will well be worth the wait. Besides cooking, war has taught Malcolm a great many things.
Flipping burgers, he thinks of his father and the storm that was the man; envisions knuckles, bare, each as thick as sausage, each one covered in hair; breathes in phantom breath, the kind made sour by beer. There is not a day goes by that these are not the things which make up the black behind his eyes. The shrinks, they tell him that it’s normal, but he has come to disagree. No one listens when he protests this though, and soon they will find out why. He is the cliché, remember; the son, the hour, and day.
From the corner, softly, the spider descends and glides. Malcolm watches, enrapt, his father’s voice coming from inside as it tells him how to bend. He does this to his sister as well, and they are never given time; no slide into their bedroom; no keep your fool mouth shut. I will take you and I will be you and this is what’s to be. He believes him, he does, and only because of his age and fear. Outweighing flight, it holds him, pins him, but time is on his side; the rage that builds his bones more than proving key. It is then he takes his father; a knife through throat asleep. Weeping, screaming, his sister is who falls next---what this is to be. Student becoming teacher, Malcolm unleashes everything he’d learned; all that he’d been shown. He remembers thinking: if mother were alive, it is now she would be proud.
His record sealed, he is released the day he turns eighteen. After that it was the army, with cooking and shooting by day. It gave him structure, it did, and more than therapy or the drugs. He was a murderer though, there to cook for free. Like the spider, his web had just begun.
“Anytime, Malcolm.” He agrees and removes the burgers from the flame. It dances; it does, and licks and heats and claims.
Above, half-way up, the castle becomes hollow, but space is there to be made. He has made some room already, on the days he can sneak away. It is loaded with weapons that wait and armour he’s yet to plate. He will make it hard, he will, a fortress for them to storm. Before, however, he believes he will be given and come to take what’s owed; from you, from them---the forty-six thousand people that come to graze here every day. They are deluded, he thinks, and only prolonging what the One Percent decree: before is only prologue; it is after which feeds the need.
He believes this, he does, and only because the spider sits up and agrees. He spins, spins, his web a thing of waste. Always it falls apart, there where the middle should hold. Gossamer or not, the lines they have been drawn and he will not be left again.
For you, father, for me---I will do what you could not.
One bullet, two bullet, three bullet, four.

Neighborhood Dogs by Kevin Ridgeway

bark jazz infused ear poison symphonies
early each morning as cars and buses
and short buses wiz by
each and every corner
garbage trucks punctuating their
vicious cries with clashes of steel and plastic
wiggling ear mites among the sound waves

they want to bite out faces off
and chew them into foam gravy
to dress their dry kibble with
screaming at our headless
bodies as they run beneath
this humid wretched day
searching for solace
from that horrific noise of beasts

Boundless Sea by April Avalon

You just say you will always be there
When I need you right here with me;
I am trapped in the wave of despair,
Dreams escape to the boundless sea.

I indulge in the sense of December,
In the cinnamon scent I inhale;
This tranquility makes me remember
My old sweet Scandinavian tale.

It's the voice of Suomi that's calling
My still frozen heart to the North,
As the wheel of my fortune keeps rolling,
It is time to live on and move forth.

I'll keep moving in every direction
I can change by my own free will;
On my way to complete resurrection
I'm the one at the steering wheel.

If I dare to change your embraces
To Norwegian winter's caress,
Will the blizzard conceal all the traces?
I'll be loving you, nevertheless.

I will meet you nowhen and nowhere,
In the depth of the boundless sea;
In my dreams you will always be there,
And my memories - here with me.

If by April Avalon

My pen is bleeding on the paper,
As love is bleeding in my heart,
These words are bare truth,
So sing them to your music,
And play this music on my trembling soul strings,
In case you manage not to tear them, I'm yours.
And if you ever find the answers
To questions I have never asked,
Will you tell me lies
And always keep denying
You know where I have buried all my dreams,
When I'm not likely to remember it myself?

If I'm afraid to live tomorrow,
And only you can turn back time,
Just tell me, will you try
Until one day I ask you
To simply kill me with your own gentle hands,
But not the weapon of indifference you choose.
I only try to be sincere
When lose the sense of self-control,
But why not do the same,
Let's be alone together,
And, please, forgive me for this weakness of one day,
Once I have promised you I'll shield you all the time.

The Vintage City by Emily Calvin

I HATE MYSELF I HATE MYSELF I HATE MYSELF I HATE MYSELF!” my 5-year-old daughter screams in mock reminiscence of my own self-loathing childhood. She learns quickly, I note and return to the project at hand. My focus returns to said project: building an army of faeries to bring peace. About 30 years ago, the war of all wars erupted and melted all over my hometown, among many others. When the dust settled and the soldiers released us from our solitary cages, we awoke to discover our world had been morphed into an oversized, personal laboratory for a mysterious man called “The Dictator.” Not long after he rebuilt every country to look alike, he decreed the injection of mind-washing chemicals into every mother’s breast milk and every faucet’s tap water. The Genius chemical mixed with the Servant gene makes for extremely efficient, worry-free, subjects.
But Sophia and I escaped in search of refuge with dreams of gypsy communes. Fueled by nostalgia and the optimism induced when a mother gives birth to the future, I have brought Sophia back to my hometown—a tiny, piece of shit in the middle of a swamp once called Florida. Florida—now an archaic state—once thrived like a lush rainforest of ancient trees wet with morning dew. Enter nuclear sky and acid lakes and mindless soldiers with guns of poisonous vapor, and now my hometown reeks of anarchist pride and disparity.
My hometown—one of the myriad, so-called “Wastelands.” One stoplight directs 2-way traffic. The United Baptist Church of the World stands proudly atop a plastic dome painted green (as if one color aesthetically suffices as grass replacement). Across the street, a decrepit, rectangular edifice sits lifeless, covered in ancient concrete bricks. Aside from the shattered windows scattered across the concrete, the building boasts a fresh, wet, spray-painted declaration: PUNKS NOT DEAD. When did The Dictator outlaw apostrophes? I ponder…or maybe the punks have sworn off proper grammar.
“How cliché,” Sophia interrupts my setting survey.
Cliché? I wonder. Where’d she hear that word?
“I’m talking about you, mom,” she clarifies. “Not anymore, of course,” she backpedals, “but when you were my age…a 5-year-old filled with angst? Come on,” Sophia laughs…like a 40-year-old French man sipping espresso in one of those Parisian cafes I loathe more than pre-Revolution high school.
She’s always been too damn smart, I fear.
“Hey,” I defend my childish ways, “generational divide…I was brooding before you were born,” a cackle sounds from both our mouths.
Generation “Y” I muse of the peers with which I grew and fell and loved and lost. Generation Y…not? Generation Y…care? Or maybe just Generation wh“Y”?
“I just don’t get how you even knew how to hate yourself at that age,” Sophia presses, “you know…without our water.”
“At that age?” I stop fiddling with my tinctures and turn to face this bouncing ball of smarts and opinions, draped in moth-eaten, fuchsia, tutu dress made of recycled nuclear waste. “You mean at your age?” my finger points in Sophia’s direction.
Her hair sparkles red in the sun. Beneath her flowing cape of cobwebs, she hides a yellow, bumblebee costume, complete with black, aluminum sequins and antique, 100% post-post-post consumer wings. Bees are her favorite mythical insects from “my time”…before The Dictator. “I just love how they shamelessly slept with one flower after another!” she always beams. “So poetic.”

Ever since Sophia was born, she always understood more than most children. It must be all the genetically modified breast milk and chemically injected water. That’s why, by the way, we’re “on the lamb,” as some might say—I refused to comply with The Dictator’s orders and replaced Genius and Servant bullshit with gulp after gulp of my own, woman-made, pure, glorious breast milk. I couldn’t get the Genius chemicals out of the water before her life entered my belly, but because we escaped in time for Sophia to use her intelligence against the New World, mind-washed bullshit. “Thank Goddess,” I sigh.
“You’re welcome,” Sophia giggles…one of her favorite jokes. “What are we doing here anyway, mom?” she looks at my potion bottles, then the intersection in which we stand.
“Hush, Sophia,” I demand. “Respect the sanctity of where I was born. This is where we will start a new world.”
“Oh right,” she mumbles, “your legacy…the ‘gypsy community’…how could I forget,” she scoffs.
“Enough,” I snap. “Back to work.”
Sophia’s shoulders droop and her lips press into a pout as she turns on her heel and commences her wanderings throughout my workspace. Scatterings of ingredients lay before my feet as I sit cross-legged on the concrete of an abandoned parking lot behind the warfront. Five phoenix feathers, each dipped in an eagle’s blood, give the faeries flight, fire, and fury. Six dragon’s eyes, with a needle in the center of three, give the faeries unlimited sight at the cost of the inevitable pain that accompanies omniscience. Some mushroom luster here, some stone-ground insect powder, a pinch of ancient soil, and voila! “Arise, oh glorious faeries of my creation!” I bellow.
My inebriation de triomf quickly fades, however, as my fears of anticlimactic “Abracadabra’s” realize themselves before my eyes…and Sophia’s. “Oh no,” I mutter. “What’s wrong?”
“Um mom…” Sophia stutters, while rifling through the withering Wiccan Bible I gave her to learn the essential spells of survival.
“Oh put that book down,” I sigh. “It’s nonsense. This will never work.”
I pick up one of the beakers of “faery potion” and almost crash it on the sidewalk when Sophia screams, “No!”
She runs over and snatches the beaker from my stubborn grip. “Listen mom,” she sits down next to me, “you forgot one, essential ingredient.”
She’s nervous. Why’s she nervous? What have I done wrong? Oh how could I do this! I’ve failed her! “I’m so sorry I’ve failed you!” I blurt before my head falls into my palms and the tears flow like Niagara Falls before it dried up when The Dictator pumped it into his factory.
“No mom,” she grabs my hands, “I’m sorry. Look, I have to…you need…I um…just read this.”
She hands me the Wiccan Bible and points to the last ingredient in the faery potion. I read, “All the blood of the maker of said potion.” Holy shit. I…I…I have to do this. It’s my destiny. It’s Sophia’s destiny. These faeries must be! “These faeries must be!” I jump to my feet and reach for the knife.
Before Sophia reaches me, I make two deep slices down either side of my inner forearms and stand above the rows of faery beakers, raining blood…my blood…over every one of my beloved creations.
“This will give them life,” I argue to Sophia. “My job here is done. I cannot live in this world any longer. This is your world now, Sophia. Make…me…proud.”
My arms shrivel into bare twigs covered in raisins, and I falter and lay my body on the concrete next to the beakers. Sophia stands above me, glancing back and forth between the beakers and my body. “What have you done?” she remarks, rather too calmly.
“This was so unnecessary, mother,” she complains.
The sky turns purple and glitter shoots from invisible cannons as I shrink into nonexistence, seduced by the lullaby of harmonious faeries chanting, “Hail Sophia, our queen and master.”

Sophia’s 5-year-old mind jolts into overwhelming awareness.
* * * * *
Shit. My head hurts. “Mom??” I shriek, as the faeries circle around me, chanting my name and reaching for my hands—“Sophia! Sophia! You are our queen! We will follow your bidding!”
“Wait!” I hold my hands up as if to stave them off. “You’re mistaken! It was my mother who created you. My mother is your master! Not me!” I attempt to laugh.
“But your mother is dead. Is she not?” one faery asks.
“Yes! Yes I know she is!” another retorts.
“So you are next of kin and next in line and therefore…” yet another begins.
“Our queen!” all shout in unison.
I jump, and curse my mother for being so goddamn selfish. I never wanted her stupid world. Who cares about this wasteland? Who cares about this war? Why on earth could my mother ever believe sending faeries to kill everyone would some how bring about a land of peace and harmony and communal living? And now I’m in charge? Fuck me. I scan my servants and consider my options—continue my mother’s plan and live with guilt and blood on my soul for the rest of my pathetic existence; or somehow convince these bloodthirsty faeries to create peace here and now, without sacrificing another living soul. Okay, I sigh, here goes nothing. “Listen up!” I shout, and every single translucently iridescent faery freezes in silence.
“I’m your queen, and this is what I want you to do,” my shoulders raise and the faeries move closer. “As you probably know, somehow, through my mother’s crazy potion, you were created to fight a war,” the faeries nod and “mmhmm” in agreement. “Well,” I clear my throat, “there’s been a change of plans.” Silence. “No blood will be shed. No soul will be killed. And no fighting will occur. You will create peace among the people already living on this precious land, and the anarchists, the Baptists, the faeries, and I will dance in a community of freedom and acceptance.
First, the faeries stare into my eyes in silence, and finally one speaks: “Yes master,” and the rest follow, “yes master. Dance we shall!”
All the faeries fly off to separate corners of the sky and set to work on a project unbeknownst to me. I plop down next to my cold mother, touch her shrunken arm, lean down and kiss her forehead, and mutter “I’m sorry,” before I set fire to her body and watch the flames rise above the faeries, anarchists, and Baptist fundamentalists alike.
Bass reverberates in the distance, buildings boom, windows shatter, and anarchists and Baptists freeze mid-war. Bells and harps and electric guitar solos chime into the bass and suddenly trance music fills the entire wasteland with flourishing pathways of green leaves and flowers of all colors and shapes. Concrete bursts into trees, buildings melt into bamboo dance floors, and the traffic light turns into a disco ball larger than the sun. Faeries fall to the sky as anarchists and Baptists emerge into the streets in curious inspiration and happiness. I watch in amazement as faeries grab anarchists, Baptists grab faeries, anarchists grab Baptists, and an especially beautiful faery even grabs me. The music fills our souls with vibrating pleasure as we dance into the night in celebration of a revived, vintage city.
And we all lived happily ever after.

Circus of the Damned by Heinrich Willhelm von Metzgermeister

Dearly beloved, dearly departed, dearly damned, or never started:

You are to bear witness to entertainment so rich that your body will be carted: away.

Many of you will feed our larder, and thus, inevitably, to find a good crowd becomes harder and harder, but at least it's easy to get them to stay.

Today is the day, such a marvelous day!

To laugh

To sing

To die

and play!

Oh do what you will, do what you may,

But darling, will you take me, to the good Herr's circus today?

There will be fingers to munch on, and bodies to flay!

I hope that Erik Eier comes to say,

“What a fine little monster, so jovial, so gay!

Won't you spend eternity here, day after day?”

Oh can I? Can I?

Metzy's teeth click, “Oh yes, you may.”

Update: Circus of the Damned Volume I

Volume One of the "Circus" compilation is in progress. I am currently compiling works for it, including all submissions to which the author has given publishing consent. I am currently in need of cover art as well as additional submissions.

Whomever creates the cover art will receive a significant bonus to their percentage of the income from Volume One if they are already a contributor. If they are not already a contributor, they are still to receive a percentage vastly greater than your average Joe.

I need a cover, damn it. 

The Second Murder of the Day by Rick McQuiston

Ross took a step back from the still form splayed out at his feet. His head felt like someone had run a butcher knife through it, and his back was screaming something about paralysis at him. But still, he stood tall, nudging the pain aside as best he could. He had come too far to turn back now. He had crossed the threshold, passed the point of no return, took a giant step forward, whatever metaphor fit accordingly enough. A bad back and headache could not undo what he had done, nor could they help him deal with it.
The gleaming blade of the serrated kitchen knife Ross had used on the man at his feet was smeared with congealed blood. It trickled down the edge of the steel, eventually reaching the pointed tip, before falling to the floor and forming a tiny crimson puddle. It served as a stark reminder of his terrible accomplishments that day.
Ross looked down at the dead man. He felt a twinge of remorse for him; he hardly knew him. It was simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The man just happened to be home when Ross decided to visit his house. Nothing more. Nothing less.
And here Ross was, standing in a stranger's kitchen with a drying corpse at his feet, a bloody knife in his hand, and a bad headache. And possibly worst of all, he didn’t know what to do next.

Was he destined to kill innocent strangers? Cursed to never know those he would butcher? Although perhaps that was a blessing: not knowing them. It was far easier to kill someone one doesn’t know.
The pressure in Ross’s his head began to increase, threatening to split his skull wide open. He rubbed his forehead in a vain attempt to quell the inner storm churning within him, but it hardly helped.
And then it happened: a break in the wall of his mind. Ross could feel the opening, almost as if it were a physical thing instead of mental. He could sense the gap widening, relieving some of the pressure, but leaving the gates open for anything to enter at its leisure.
And sure enough, something did enter. Something slippery, and cunning...and evil.
The malevolent force slid into the dark void of Ross’s mind, filling every crevice, every recess with its essence and desires. It wanted him to kill. It told him to sacrifice any who came within range. It needed blood, and death, and pain.
And Ross was under its control.
But for now the force told Ross, in its own convoluted way, that he could rest. It instructed him to leave the body where it was, wash the knife, and clean himself up. His work for the day was complete. He had met his quota, and the force was sated.
For now.

Tomorrow was another day, and there would be new requirements for him to fulfill. The force had entered his mind the previous day, and had him dispatch one person (an elderly woman whom he came across in a darkened parking lot), thus meeting his obligation for day one.
Now it was day two, and Ross had finished off the anonymous gentleman cooling on the floor of the kitchen. His earlier victim (a teenage boy hanging out behind a local strip center) had put up a valiant fight, but Ross had won in the end, neatly separating the poor kid’s head from his flailing body.
That one had been the first of the day.
And Mr. Anonymous was his second murder of the day.
Ross casually walked over to the kitchen sink and inserted the knife under the faucet. Cool water efficiently cleaned the blade, leaving a sparkling sheen on the metal.
Next, he meandered into the master bathroom, shedding the soiled clothes from his violent activities as he went. A bloodied pile of garments were left in his wake.
Once he was in the shower and feeling the refreshing flow of water cleansing his weary body, Ross took a few moments to reflect on the past two days. He felt at peace with himself in a way. Not that he condoned what he had done, but because he had managed to appease whatever it was that was making him do the terrible deeds. He did not know much about the force (or whatever it was), but he did know it was happy with what he had accomplished so far.

So far.
That simple two word phrase that was so profound to him. Profound because one thing about the force that he did know was its penchant for mathematics. It had told him so when it first entered his mind. It did everything in neat, organized fashion. Its whole existence was carefully laid out in cold equations. It calculated mathematically which planet to invade next, systematically crunching the numbers in a bizarre cosmos-destroying way until it set its lethal sites on Earth. And of the six billion inhabitants on the planet, chose Ross to expedite its plans.
Ross turned the water off, and cupped his face in his hands. Remorse crept into his thoughts, but he shoved it aside. He couldn’t afford to feel sorry for himself, or the people he had killed. He had bigger problems.
Like the sudden realization that the force, the dark power he was enslaved to, wanted him to continue with his grisly work the next day. It had told him so. And since it was the second day of his enslavement, that meant, obviously, that the next day would be the third. And that meant that the force would want its quota of sacrifices increased thusly.
Ross dabbed his face with a towel, and sauntered toward the master bedroom. He needed sleep. At the very least, he would have to kill three people the next day, four the day after that, and so on and so on. And he shuddered to think what would happen to him if the force wanted the number of its victims squared.

My Little Murder by M.V. Montgomery

I was just out of prison. My victim was a man who mistreated
a girl I had fathered. The gun was where I’d stashed it long ago.
One clean shot—then it was cover-up time. I went on a walk
through a ruined industrial area where I’d latched on with a job.
Hiding places for the weapon were everywhere: in the open pits
or fast-hardening cement. Too obvious. I walked on till I reached
the other side of the complex, then broke through a cluster of trees.
Beyond, a dome-shaped mountain rose from a white seashore.
I took the gun and hurled it as far as I could out into the waves,
then stood there for awhile, hoping to feel a change. Coming back,
I came upon an artist’s encampment. He was using found materials
discarded by the factory. I was invited to sit down at table with him
and his twelve followers. Throughout, I pretended to be a person
who had regained his sight after years of blindness. Then the artist
gave me some clay and said I could shape it into anything I wanted.

Zombie Peace, Zombie Love by M.V. Montgomery

We were zombies together, stiff-legged marching over hills and fields: one people,
one purpose, one mind, driven by a powerful urge we could not understand. From
our graves we came, or risen from hospital beds, or stepping away from plane crashes
and war zones and gangbang back alleys. Newcomers were accepted without regard
for country or creed, just as they were: pale teen suicides, blueface drowning victims, the natural deaths. We did not walk too fast for the badly decomposed or maimed.
Thus our strange little band continued to increase. We progressed through cornfields
and small towns, through the shells of strip malls and deserted cities, ever yearning. Murmuring among ourselves, fixing glazed eyes on the boarded-up stores where we
had once shopped, the office centers where we once worked, the gated communities where we once lived separate lives. Now we were on the march, all in this together. We scrounged for new recruits everywhere, as fervently as if we were on a spiritual
quest of some kind. Perhaps we were. True, some may have overplayed their part, murmuring brains, brains, and frightening small children, but that was all quite passé
and unnecessary. We were indomitable: no illness or blow from a shovel could ever
break up our ragtag but powerful collective. We had no long-term worries: the world
would eventually run short of weapons, and till then each bullet expended only bred
more slapstick pacifists like ourselves. Peace, it is thought, must eventually prevail
in a hungry, post-zombie world. But who can separate the living from the living dead,
so stripped as we all are? And what else is that hunger inside us, if not love?

I Was Dead by M.V. Montgomery


stone cold, there in the mall, standing as stiff as a mannequin.
The lighting was pale, all the departments were closed, and
a young woman stood next to me, also dead. Kindly, she took
my hand and guided me to the entryway, where it was brighter.
The front door was calmly monitored by a former acquaintance
who recognized her, nodded slightly, and buzzed us through.
By degrees we were becoming less robotic in our movements,
though not yet alive. And we continued down a tapering aisle
through another glass door and another, my recently-deceased
companion waved through by former coworkers and friends.
And I benefited too, though truly I was just along for the ride.
By now we could tell that the next bright gate would be the last,
and beyond it, street traffic and sun. But we were blocked by
a large man in a control booth who shook his head, stubbornly
barring us. Then all hope of leaving the commercial crypt fled,
and everything faded to black. When we came to, we were back
in the store—unable to move, adorned in heavy winter coats.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

CITY OF BONES #3 by Russell Streur

Masked employees
Punch buttons
Then the screams begin

Outlook grim
New waste
No place left to go

Take my number,”
the man in the square said.
Tomorrow you will see my name on the list of the dead.”

Standard protocol
Blind chance
No sign of light


Female by Valentina Cano

He needs someone to chop
down those limbs of thoughts
that dangle like black antlers from his head.
A swift slicing,
or a cauterizing burn.
But all he finds
are those who’ll hang flowers,
wreaths of careful discipline,
from his limbs.
They polish the, stroke them.
He needs that one
who will wield the axe or the torch.
The one covered in ash.
The one covered in blood.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spinnwebe For Veronika by Charlotte De'Ath

otto von streicher

the world famous 
                                spider trainer
                presents performances of his miniature theatre
                         that will

       *  ASTOUND  *  BEWILDER  *   DAZZLE  *   and  *   AMAZE  *

come and witness his
            the tales of long forgotten princesses        in towers & mists
                        and heroes of legend
                                    & mystery & myth
        by his diminutive     all too realistic figures
            that trip the light fantastic with necromantic saltation
                    to the direction of ancient scripts
                            controlled by adroit dancing legs
                                of his trained spiders
        and conducted by his own fingers
otto von streicher              maestro supremo
of his phantasmic art

(let us take you back)

in his young days
            he had fallen in love
        with the fair maiden            veronika 
                                golden haired veronika
            she loved another    (as so often happens in tales of this nature)
                            a farmer’s son
                                to whom she pledged
                her smile
                    her kisses
        eventually             even                her heart
otto found it painful to stay in his village
        knew he could not                    
                watch them
                        day by day
hand in hand                                    in love

but day by day he crafted a tiny world         (at first to take his mind away from pain)
            constructed the body and being of his dolls
                out of woods from the blackest part
        of the black forest
                    and commissioned
                                beautiful faces
        to be made from the finest
                most delicate
                                (by now this micro world
                                had become an obsession)

creating an environment he could
taught his actors     his troupe       his company
        to dance
                    and to sing
                                    and perfected ways to                     bring that world to life
        patiently teaching spiders to give his puppets
                        the most realistic movement anyone
                                had ever seen
and instructed fireflies         how to light
            the invention of atmosphere            and so
                    a necromancer by trade


like a flash of lightening

little miss muffet
sat on her tuffet
eating her curds and whey
along came a spider
then another
then another
bound her in webs
so the puppet master
could have his wicked way

                at the torment of lovers torn apart
                            at the trials and tribulations of the heart
                the dramas of the night                   
                    (a recurring theme for otto)

the grand manipulator
            had now become
                        famous in the courts of kings & queens
                                the world over
with breathtaking performances      of plays that astound the imagination
    the spiders’ many limbs
                and limbs                       and limbs
                    and his digits working dexterous displays
to bring to life           the dark dreams of his mind
                and the darkest visions of which nightmares are made

(now we are back to where we started)

at the height of his
        otto brought his miniature world
                        back to his small village
            for a special performance
making certain
    veronika would have a front row seat

the play                    a romance  (of sorts)
                            would be given special significance
        a drum roll
                of pulse beats
as he narrated his play with the use of tubes            for projection of his deep voice
                    controlled by straws his wind of words
        an eerie sound
            and as the climax was reached
                                backstage behind the curtain
                opened his chest
                    and laid his beating
                                beating heart into a cradle
    the spiders had woven        with silken thread
                                    like a rotting lace cradle
                hanging over the stage
                    suspending belief
                    his heart bled
                                 into a tiny translucent goblet
        from which a vulnerable little wooden doll
            in a white dress of lace
                with golden hair
                    with breakable serene features
                        poured innocence from her pure crystal eyes
    into the focus of the hushed transfixed audience
                as she took the goblet to her lips

this was a cue for a trained black widow assassin to kiss hans with fangs
                veronika      SCREAMED
                            then fainted

        otto rushed from behind the stage           
                        to act as her aid
                her shining knight

                                his heart intact           
                                but pounding   

                took the small goblet from the set
                                to her pallid lips

she took a sip    -     -     -     - like a forbidden kiss
                            with otto’s spirit
                            now deep inside her
and by way of spiders’ threads
            of wedded silks
                and precious weaves
                        encased her arms around him
                    with a stickiness
                        that both captured
                            the purity tears
                                    like tiny gems
        and brought them together
                    so she could never leave

                    forever in his web of love

some may think this a happy ending that otto
after years of torment
had eventually found the love he so desperately sought
but what of veronika

otto & veronika wed
the band placed on her delicate finger
not gold nor platinum but an ethereal metal the work of alchemists which broke the spell that otto had cast upon her

on their wedding night
after consummation that otto would call love though for veronika it was violation
veronika repeatedly stabbed otto through the heart tore his body apart with her bare hands
and in the morning she was found
blood stained wide eyed gorging on his flesh for breakfast
otto’s troupe of spiders taking residence in her hair that now constantly moved and danced as if a medusa set to hypnotise and charm as she smiled
once so sweetly
now with blood dripping from her lips
and traces of skin and human meat hanging from her fang-like teeth
as she would beckon
come into my parlour
we’ll have a bite together