The Office by Emily Smith-Miller

April 30, 2012 Comments Off on The Office by Emily Smith-Miller

I’m seriously looking for a thong in my shoulder bag at work. I forgot to put on panties today, if that tells you where my head is at. Also the fact that I know I have a thong in my shoulder bag at work should tell you something. Maybe everything. Maybe I actually expect too much from you, whoever you are, or aren’t. My nails are really chipped and worn down, and my hands shake over a cup of coffee with the word “LOVE” on it. I don’t love the office sludge, but it is a necessary evil to keep my head out of my ass. I think a cubicle says a lot about a person. That’s why I have lots of pictures and drawings and calendars and mugs and pens and crocheted coasters, all over my desk. Yesterday they made me move again. I transported everything, just the way I did last month and the month before that. Today I’m going to throw everything away. I’ve said this before; do not be fooled. Today. Nope, next month, when I move again. Why do we try so hard to convince ourselves we mean something? I say let me be anonymous: here lies the girl with the stuff in her cube. Did she have a name? Pack rat. Even my epitaph can be a punch line. That would be better than pretending I’m something, and knowing deep down in my little Grinch heart, that I’m nothing. But I still don’t have my underwear in the right place.

© 2012 Emily Smith-Miller

Emily Smith-Miller is a writer from Austin, TX. She is the editor and founder of the horror website The Carnage Conservatory, www.carnageconservatory.wordpress.com. She has two hellion pets, a cat named Sadie and a puppy named Finnegan Ulysses Jameson. She attended NYU for English and journalism and can be found at random corners of the internet.  She writes strange poems and bloody horror stories that you can read at www.emilysm737.wordpress.com. She loves werewolves, Vincent Price, and ABBA. She is ready for the zombie apocalypse

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Breathing Fire by Ron Koppelberger

April 26, 2012 Comments Off on Breathing Fire by Ron Koppelberger

Enlivened by the promise of payment in flames of favor, welcomed by magic’s untold and dreams of ecstasy, he ruled the perch, the straw and the sordid grip upon the secret of fire. Boss Mean approached the eternal source of warfare, of battle and fighting bond with an easy awareness. Pepper and tickets permitted he thought, to hold the balance of forever in spiced embers of time, in enemy eyes and war, scarlet battles for the red flames of perdition.

The tiny flame guttered and ebbed, flowed and elongated in rhythm to the desire of its master. “ By the Gods I’ll have my turn at chance, by the fires of hell itself,” he exclaimed to the flittering shadows and the small blaze of candent existence. A small ember, a spark of fire lit the air above the flame and in its place a tiny ebony moth appeared, flittering, evanescent and erratically circling. Boss reached out and touched the space where the moth revolved. Opening his hand he grabbed the tiny shadow. It was a warm flame in his palm and it beat its wings furiously, tickling his hand. “ Sweet lords of soul shine, by the wayfarer winds of swords and precious battle lines, give me your victorious bond, your will unto the possessor of fire and victory,” he yelled to the ceiling. Smokey disarrays of mist collected near the ceiling as the room filled with smoke, the smoke of ceaseless wars and conquests unbidden. Boss whispered, “ By the Gods of reception and the revolution in tongues of rapture, by the flames of province, by the gods.” His breath disturbed the flame and the tiny brilliance of a hundred year war.

Boss counted the blessings of fire, of war, of remitted peace. Engraved in the lines between youth and ancient rest, lay the face of a consuming treaty, in want of fervid passion, in his countenance the fond flow of anger and desire, desire for the shade of conquest dealt by the fires of what owns majestic histories in won wrath and promised rule. He relished the flame, his lips parched and cracked as the sooty smoke drifted if wave of ambient gray. The tiding of conflict. “Moth, betray not my need for victory,” he chanted in singsong rhythm to the wavering flame, the small mirage of searing advance.

Later, he would sing to the silhouette of fire and war, in unswerving passions of commanded power; in the end, in all and all he would covet the seed and feed the raven with a single rose as the advent of war sought its possessor and charge.

© 2012 Ron Koppelberger

Ron is a poet, a short story writer and an artist. He has written 102 books of poetry over the past several years and 18 novels. He is always looking for an audience. He has published 642 poems, 624 short stories and 115 pieces of art in over 220 periodicals, books, anthologies and 9 radio Broadcasts. He has been published in England, Australia, Canada, Japan, India, Mauritius, Italy, France, Germany, China, Spain and Thailand. He has been Published in The Stray Branch, The Fringe, Write On!!! (Poetry Magazette) Static Movement, Necrology Shorts and Record Magazine. He is a member of The Poet’s society, The Fiction Guild as well as The Isles Poetry Association and The Dark Fiction Guild. Visit him at Ronnie.Weebly.com (Swamplit)

Playground by Voss Foster

April 23, 2012 Comments Off on Playground by Voss Foster

It looms over you, a monster to slay. Metal struts stretch on for miles above your head, worn down by the footsteps of your peers. The first rung bends under your weight, sending vibrations ricocheting through the metal skeleton, and your hands start to go numb as you climb up, gripping the rails until it hurts. Was it one hundred steps? One thousand? Ten thousand? Nervous giggles explode out of you. Closing your eyes, you make the final step up—the wind crushing against you; you fighting to stay up on the perch; the metal—cold—as your hands wrap, if possible, even more tightly around the handrails. The red, plastic maw—skid marks slinking down its gullet—roars voraciously up upwards with every stray gust of wind that dares pass by. Every blood vessel you have runs cold with liquid nitrogen until your bones feel like they’ll shatter from the nervous shaking. Somewhere down there, voices prod you to give in and slip into the darkness, but that’s a different world altogether. “Come on. Take your turn!” says some poor defenseless vagrant, a mindless drone serving the monarchy of the hungry beast, as he scales the creature’s back behind you, fire in his every word. “You’re hogging it!” Then a blast of force assaults your spine, and you topple headlong towards the wide-flung jaws, but your hands, in a death grip, save you from mortal peril. “Just go!” another voice screams, and you take what may well be your final steps, resigning yourself to the cold song of death as you lower your legs into the its hot, humid throat. The creature rumbles back at you, calling you down, and, while saying your final prayer to God, you let go.

© 2011 Voss Foster

Voss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington State desert. When he can be pried away from his computer, he enjoys photography, cooking, singing, playing trombone, and a good cup of coffee. More of him can be found at http://vossfoster.blogspot.com

Little Lady by Valery Petrovskiy

April 19, 2012 Comments Off on Little Lady by Valery Petrovskiy

You recall the sky of your childhood, fathomless azure, dangerous by its infinity and frightening to observe. Are you afraid to peer into the sky now, dear? I know you fear greatly.

Remember when you ran far into the field. Vast and wide, it still had boundaries, a clear-cut skyline, and the borders were close at hand.

Still, you were unaware of the sky, then, though it ever was there, even if you didn’t see it.

You were tearing through the field in bright new flip-flops, and you jumped and limped with bliss, whirling after your head that was spinning round.

You felt easy as you’ve never felt, whirling and twirling over the weeds and above the flowers, following the butterflies around. Still, you didn’t see the sky, little lady, and the sky fell down on you when you dropped off to the ground.

Why it is so that one has to fall hard to have a look into the sky? You pressed up against the soil, tumbling, and then you turned over on your back and were startled. For the first time, you peered up into the sky, and then you stopped laughing. There was nothing beyond you there, nothing at all, and missing was your familiar sky, where the steel and stone silhouettes rose up from gray pavement, and you were afraid, soundless, petrified, grasping handfuls of firm ground  to stop you from falling into the abyss yawning in front of you.

With your eyes closed, it was even worse, the spinning descent faster, and faster, but you couldn’t bear to look at the noiseless hollow above you, and so you began to weep, your tears coming to aid and overshadow that unbearable sky.

Yet you, not conscious of yourself, knew, in some way, that heaven was above you. You ran home, away from that intolerable sky to escape under the roof. You wept and wept, and someone, so kind — you don’t remember who — consoled you.

Nonetheless, you continued on, stuttering about the bottomless sky, and your fear was ever lasting. The fear is still with you, even now. It ever catches up with you whenever you lie down on your back. No man can understand it. They say, “You have nothing to be afraid of, my little lady.”

But the skies above you ever observe us all.

© 2012 Valery Petrovskiy

Valery Petrovskiy is a journalist and short story writer from Russia. Не studied English at Chuvash State University, Cheboksary and journalism at VKSch Higher School, Moscow. He has been writing prose since 2005. Some of his Prose has been published in The Scrambler, Rusty Typer, BRICKrethoric, NAP Magazine, Literary Burlesque, The Other Room, Curbside Quotidian, DANSE MACABRE, WidowMoon Press in the USA and one in Australian Skive Magazine as well. http://www.proza.ru/avtor/valerka

At The Urinal by Clyde Liffey

April 16, 2012 Comments Off on At The Urinal by Clyde Liffey

A head abutting porcelain — was it so long ago I used that absurd hyperbole as I watched him from the other end of the row?  His right hand was pressed flat against the lukewarm tile of the wall, his left thumb and index finger guided; he almost shuddered. He told me later he felt light-headed. He lied, but who could blame him in that windowless room with the faulty air-fresheners glued to the walls?  He’d had a busy morning on the telephone: arguing, cajoling, coaxing, pleading, anything to coordinate, to expedite the job at a remote site where he’d never been, hardly even seen pictures of.  He’d met with the usual resistance: a man out of town, a man on the mend, a boss on the prowl — I have no control over who they send me, I can’t take responsibility for that.  In the afternoon — more of the above.  He was glad when nature called, coffee getting cold, a chance to step away.  Immediately he thought of other things: family, community responsibilities, manufactured crises, financial worries, the long walk through the narrow dingy urine-soaked corridor to the aging halted train, holding the huddled glowering others, that will take him back home where invariably something else will cause him to postpone or forsake the little pleasures — a piece of candy, a can of beer, a mediocre football game, the failed drama of the sacked quarterback, his be all and end all — that he had reserved for himself.  He thought, “A whole life, a whole little life,” spent in such paroxysms, the graying balding head, the thin nattering lips, the moments of remission intermittent like dirty motes floating in the light filtering through a small overhead window.  He didn’t know I was there until I flushed.  He shook, zipped up. We washed our hands at separate sinks, splashed cold water on crevassed faces, dried ourselves, did not make eye contact, and – separately – left.

© 2012 Clyde Liffey

Clyde Liffey lives near the water.

Little Brown Corrugated Box by Cheryl Anne Gardner

April 12, 2012 Comments Off on Little Brown Corrugated Box by Cheryl Anne Gardner

It had arrived as anticipated, the little brown corrugated box.

It was early when the deliveryman came. He smiled as I scratched my name onto the electronic shipping gadget he carried at his side. When he left, I was alone, staring at the little box at the edge of my desk.

Eight hours I would have to sit here, staring at my box, restless with desire. I would type a little, send or reply to an email or two. Papers would swish and shuffle across my desk: scattered thoughts, random projects, figures and statistics dancing across the pages, dressed in business suits, doing the economic waltz whilst the calculator clicked, buzzed, authenticated, and confirmed answers to questions I really couldn’t care less about.

In the rare moments of silence, I would contemplate the box. I could hear it – movement — a little scratching here and there. It was as restless as I was, and every few moments I would look at it. My excitement bordered on obscene.

I imagined the smile that would overspread my face when I finally opened it. I thought about all the emotions that a smile could posses: hope and joy, at the very least. To think that a box could hold within it something as tenuous as human happiness was absurd, but it did. My box held the warmth of the sun and mortality’s bitter end.

As time slogged on, I knew this day was never going to end. Time was taunting me for no other reason than because it could. I chewed my pencil, paced around the office, struck up idiotic conversations with co-workers with the hopes that if I ignored it, if my lack of interest in it seemed sincere, that time would release me. However, I couldn’t pretend to ignore it. I could not pretend that time’s wayward habit didn’t annoy and irritate me. It did, and I wanted to scream out in frustration, slam things about my desk, and utter vulgarities under my breath, but I didn’t. I just sat there and stared at my box. I stared and stared with a longing that stretched beyond the borders of time and space, and maybe that’s what it takes. I imagined the little box resting on my legs. I imagined taking out a razor and cutting the tape on one side. It would be dark inside and have a musky odor to it, not offensive, just strange. There would be a white mesh bag inside the box. I would pull it out, toss the box aside; then I would open the bag. Hold it up. I imagined specks of crimson whirling in a vortex around me, pouring over my fingers, clinging to my hair. I imagined that smile again, as the dust from a thousand suns settled itself around me, and then I imagined I would feel bad for the unsuspecting aphids pillaging my rose garden, for even though I will have released light into my world, I will have unleashed terror into theirs.

© 2012 Cheryl Anne Gardner

Cheryl Anne Gardner prefers writing stories to writing bios because she always seems to forget what point of view she is in. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her flash fiction has been published at Dustbin, Dark Chaos, Carnage Conservatory, Pure Slush, Negative Suck, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others. You can find more of her work at Twisted Knickers Publications. She is also the administrative muscle behind this site. If you want to leave her a message, you will have to leave it with the nurse at the front desk. Visiting hours are over.

I Have a Box by Joe Kapitan

April 9, 2012 Comments Off on I Have a Box by Joe Kapitan

I have a box.

I have a box that smells like surrender. My box that smells like surrender tries to shield me from the worst mornings of the world. I have a box that goes limp with humidity and years, and its corners weep when we’re stuck with each other on rainy days.

I have many friends without boxes. Boxes to them are coffins, to be filled with lead ingots, filled with rusted years. They say the rain on their heads does not bother them. Their foreheads burn in summer. They live in transit between moments because it is all they know. They know nothing of saving. They have nothing to gather their moments in anyway. No box.

My box can hold memories because it holds nothing else, nothing small and precious, the only thing it ever wanted. Here is a memory: I woke one morning and saw a tiny egg in the corner of my box. I stared in wonder. I covered it with dry leaves that the winter wind left me. My box was happy. I tried to be. I considered the egg. Eggshells are walls for things that want no part of being walled. I thought about a thing that would not want to be contained, and what it would think of my box, and what it would want from me. Things from eggs are things that grow and things that want. I left my box, and let the rain strike me for a while. When I returned, the egg was gone, and my box’s corners wet.

Here is another memory: many people gathered, and a preacher is giving us our motto, the one we recite on silent Sundays, the one about times of better and worse, and it comforts me, reminds me that if the better ever comes, I have someone else to witness it, and the worse, when it happens, is of little concern because, for now, I am not alone. I have you. I tell you this, and I say I’m sorry about the egg, and I watch your corners weep.

© 2012 Joe Kapitan

Joe Kapitan wanders northern Ohio. He works often, writes sometimes, is published occasionally in places like elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, PANK, Emprise Review and Annalemma.

Dirty Aubade by Nikki Magennis

April 5, 2012 Comments Off on Dirty Aubade by Nikki Magennis

5 am, all still

Remember this, all this, all the years? The early mornings, the wood smoke and the red-eyes and creeping around trying not to wake him, even though my skin was roughed with excitement, and the day outside was breaking.

I might slip out the window. Careful not to snag.

We would stand outside, then, in the wet grass, while the pigeons cried. Our feet would go numb, remember? We would kiss under the elder tree, even though it was forbidden, even though we were drowned by the noise of the river and nothing we said was right. Your hand over my mouth.

5.30 am, day breaking

And the rose clouds bloom overhead, and the trees soften. So quiet I hear your breath, the pull and push, the warm bellows. Now it’s a blackbird, that inquisitive song, that rushing, flowing tumble of brittle voice.

I met you in the gap between night and day, in the opening of a shell, in the sliver between knowing and choosing.

Ugly word, choosing. Like something lewd. Something coy, a word that hides its obscenity behind frilly lace curtains, a word that lies about itself.

The birdsong we think is so pretty — it’s all fucking and fighting, after all.

6 am, the world turns

Nobody will remember this. Nobody will witness the redness of your mouth, or how it’s both tender and cruel.

Even as the gold starts pricking the sky, I’m forgetting. Even as you settle into that rhythm, that old back and forth, as the tree above us rocks and the fruit hangs and the legs split, mouths cleave, eyes close, the hearts beat out into the day the same old song, the same old song.

And afterwards everything is spilled, and we’re too old to play, and we’re losing everything in spite of ourselves, but oh, god, was it worth it.

© 2012 by Nikki Magennis

Nikki Magennis is an author and artist. She lives in Scotland and writes when she can, as hard as she can. Visit her at http://nikkimagennis.com/

The Necromancer by Joshua Moses

April 2, 2012 Comments Off on The Necromancer by Joshua Moses

Sick of the world’s many ills, and bored by conventional means of fixing them, I resolved upon necromancy. Having acquired a number of dusty old tomes by various and sundry means (a garage sale in Porter, Indiana; an occult club of like-minded individuals; a cheerfully wrapped birthday present from Aunt Margaret; etc,) I began to call upon members of the esteemed demon community. The first I channeled from the netherworld was a beast named Uz.

Uz was only too eager to help, having taken out a half-page ad in a regional demonology magazine, and was full of ideas. Unfortunately, he took the form of a flicker of light in a glass of water, which was not very useful in resolving the issues of poverty or childhood illnesses. At my behest, he did lead to the suicide of my neighbor’s cat – a mean fat orange thing named Charlie – but felicide was not the primary focus of my research. Being that our goals and abilities seemed mutually incompatible, Uz left my service with no hard feelings, and I paid him with the carcass of one young castrated male goat.

Before returning to the Pit, Uz recommended that I call upon Quddus, a demon whom I gathered was both more capable and more corporeal. I slit the throat of a chicken on a moonless night (I took the precaution of using a whole pre-dead Chinatown chicken, head intact), and Quddus appeared in a puff of crimson smoke with two tickets for the following evening’s White Sox/Red Sox game. I was a Cubs fan, but I agreed to go, and Quddus proceeded to drink eleven beers and vomit on a family of four in town from Massachusetts, calling them “vermin.” Having been to Massachusetts I did not entirely disagree.

Post-game, at the only bar in Bridgeport, I requested of Quddus that he deliver this world from sin and make of it a paradise. Sadly, he demurred, claiming that his collective bargaining agreement would prohibit such an arrangement. This devolved into a back-and-forth whereby I suggested this, that, or the other thing, and he curtly declined, granting that he would be more than perfectly happy to do so were he free to act of his own accord, but that the union would simply not allow it. We argued and fought, me taking, to my own surprise, the position that organized labor had become bloated and corrupt, and him contradicting me by way of a river of blood.

We ultimately agreed that one child who would otherwise have starved would be fed. He gesticulated and rent the sky in exchange for six drops of my blood. Success! But brief it was, as said starving Hottentot now trots boldly through space and time to devour my liver fortnightly. This has done no favors for my pursuit of a better and more just world, but Quddus now seems to screen his calls and the courts in my jurisdiction are hopelessly backlogged…

© 2012 Joshusa Moses

Employed in all the world’s most hated professions, J is not that bad a person once you get to know him.

Prophetstown by Meagan McAlister

March 29, 2012 Comments Off on Prophetstown by Meagan McAlister

The elders of the town will tell you that as soon the prophet mill arrived everything went to Hell. Before the process was streamlined, prophets used to be grown organically in the community. They popped up only where the ground was tilled and a prayer was planted. They came only when they were Called. The mill came and squashed these small honest men. They were shoved right out of town and replaced with sharp smiles, slick hair, and smooth voices. These new men of God marched out of Prophetstown and spread across the nation spewing prepaid messages.

Prophetstown is now a Midwestern Mecca. The mill runs tours for school children. They take them to the assembly line. See how you can mix and match hair color with different skin tones and iris shades. Should we give him a passionate drawl or a no-nonsense attitude?

Someday soon the prophet market will crash. Demand will plummet, and layoffs will sweep Prophetstown. The mill will close. They will pile the scrap outside their warehouse, half-formed prophets who stagger away confusedly, their perfect teeth askew. They will scatter, pulling at people’s sleeves on subways and regurgitating scrambled sermons. Some will still form followings, lead their ragtag congregations to live in communes in Canada. There will be a Tilapia Grilling cult and a Sock Darning church.

But mostly the prophets will break down. jabbering on the side of the road, rocking in the alleys. A collection agency will form with its own army of prophet elimination trucks. And a prophet elimination plant will grow up on the site of the old mill.

The town will forget how prophets were originally grown, and later, manufactured. People will only know the screaming scraps, the trucks, and the incinerator.

2012 Meagan McAlister, first appeared at Fictionaut

Meagan McAlister is a senior in college this year and is finishing up her creative writing degree. She grew up in Wisconsin, is going to school in Illinois, and has studied abroad in Scotland and New Zealand. She’s still trying to figure out what she wants to do with her future. She knows she wants to write.

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