Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Flowers for Lily

Flowers for Lily
Tiana Bodine

I’ve brought you flowers, Lily, like I promised; just like yesterday, and the day before, just like every day since you came here. They’re in that purple vase on the shelf by your bed, do you see? I’ve changed the water. It will keep them alive just a little longer, keep them blooming; they’re so beautiful, all of your favorite colors, do you see? Can you smell them, Lily? Something to cover that awful antiseptic smell, something to bring some color to the cold white walls. It’s funny. They’re so bright, so colorful, so soft, you forget they’re already dead—you forget the water’s just keeping them barely alive, holding them here just a little longer so you can see them. You forget that somebody went out and killed them for us.

You look so pretty, Lily, delicate and pale, not a blemish; so strange that your bruises should heal, your cuts vanish, your belly steadily swell even as the rest of you grows so thin—and still they say you won’t get better. The doctors tell me that all of these machines you’re hooked up to are the only thing keeping you alive; they tell me that your brain stopped working the night you came here, and that you’re only breathing because of the tube in your throat. They told me that if they can keep your heart beating for just a few more weeks, then the baby can be born, can be pulled out of you like plucking the ripe fruit from a tree and leaving the withered remains of the blossom behind on the branch to drop to the earth and disintegrate. They say you won’t wake up, you know, that you’re already dead. I don’t understand. You look alive to me, Lily, alive and gently blooming, so white, so pure, like the roses at our wedding.

I’m bending to kiss your forehead. I feel like Pygmalion, leaning over his alabaster bride, stony-pale flesh so supple to the touch; not alive, but I can feel your warmth, can see your soft breath rising and falling under your breasts, straining against your stomach. The machine makes a soft whirring noise with every breath it gives you; the other machines are beeping, or clicking, or making other noises like a whole flock of invisible birds was living in your room, singing to each other in their own language. There are numbers and lines and dots on the screens of some of the machines, but I don’t know what they mean. I just know that you’re hooked up to them, the way the baby is hooked up to you; they’re keeping you alive with their own mechanized umbilical cords, here cozy in the fluorescent-lighted hospital’s womb. I touch your belly with my hand, feel the soft movements of the baby inside; she’s kicking, Lily, can you feel her?

I remember when you told me she wasn’t mine. I asked you whose it was, and that’s when the tears came; they flooded out of you, the same as your words, when you told me all in one gasping breath that you’d been sleeping with one of the men you worked with, the one who always had such nice company picnics in his backyard, who I’d talked to a dozen times without realizing the truth, who you’d been with for nearly a year, and you were scared, so scared that I’d be angry with you. But I wasn’t angry, Lily, do you remember? I held you close, and told you not to be so scared; I promised I would never, ever hurt you, and I wiped the tears from your beautiful cheeks and I told you I would love the baby like it was mine. You remember that, don’t you Lily?

You said you’d never see him again. You promised me that you’d never go back; I told you we could make it work, and you promised me that we’d try. And we were trying, weren’t we Lily? Even when you started working late into the night, when you wouldn’t come home for hours, when you didn’t tell me where you were all those times—we were still trying to make it work. I was never angry with you, Lily. When you came home smelling like alcohol and another man’s cologne I knew you’d been lying to me, but still I was never angry with you; I never blamed you, Lily, not even when I lay awake next to you in bed wondering why you were falling out of love with me, wondering if he was better than me, wondering why I didn’t satisfy you.

He hasn’t visited you here, you know. Every day, I’ve brought you flowers; I’ve sat here talking to you, Lily, holding your hand like I am now, and I’ve told you that everything would be all right. He hasn’t come to see you. He hasn’t come to feel his baby growing inside of you. He walked away from the accident with a few bruises, and left you to die here; he didn’t love you, Lily, not like I do. I love you, Lily—I love you even now, when you’re so quiet, so still, when everyone tells me that you’re dead, that you’re not even inside of yourself anymore. I love you the same as I loved you when we were in college, all bashful smiles and awkward glances, and the way I loved you at our wedding, when you were a white blossom of silk and lace. I love you enough to keep you alive, the way I love the baby inside of you who I’ve never seen and who isn’t mine. He tried to take you away from me, but he couldn’t do it. I love you too much to let you go.

He tried to take you away from me, Lily.

That night, the night the hospital called me, I knew where you had been; I knew because I called all of the friends you said you were going out with, and none of them had seen you, and I knew because you left your computer on, and I read the emails you sent him—I read all of them, Lily, even the dirty ones—and I knew you wanted to leave me. You wanted to leave one night and never come back, didn’t you Lily? And that’s what you did; you left me one night, and you never saw me again, even though I came to see you every day.

What were you doing when his car swerved into the wrong lane, Lily?

When they take the baby out of you, they’ll want to take away the machines. They don’t know that she isn’t mine, you know; nobody knows but me, and you, and him; nobody else ever has to know. But I’m scared, Lily. I’m scared that since he can’t have you anymore that he’ll take away your baby, the last part of you that’s left. It would be like losing you again, and I’ve lost you too many times.

I might not be here tomorrow, Lily. I might not bring you anymore flowers.

I know where he lives, now. I remember, from all those backyard barbecues. I know his phone number, from your cell phone bill, and I know when he’ll be home, because it’s all the same hours you were gone with him. Tomorrow, I’m going to go to his house. I’m going to cut the fresh red roses from the hedge in his yard, and I’m going to tie them together with a pretty black ribbon for you, to show you when I come back, so you’ll know I did it.

I don’t want to hurt anyone, Lily, but I can’t let him take you away from me again. If the doctors are right, and you’re never going to wake up, then this baby is the only part of you left, and I promised you I’d take care of her, didn’t I? I said I’d treat her just like my own daughter, didn’t I?

No one will have to know how he died. I’ll be careful, Lily, I promise.

It can be our little secret.

You won’t tell anyone, will you Lily?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Out of My Element

Out Of My Element
Brent Meske

We were both liquid. We were enveloped by the night and ourselves, and there wasn’t a goddamned other thing existing in the entire world. There was no Seoul, and no Korea, and there definitely wasn’t a dingy street lit by a couple of dim orange bulbs.

The entire place looked like Halloween, all streaked with wet black and sparkling with blues or whites from completely unknown light sources. It was hard to tell where the buildings began or ended. With the amount of alcohol in my system, it was hard to tell anything, since most of my concentration was on where to put my feet, and how to hold her body against mine in case of a sudden shift in gravity.

She was a bit of chilled perfection held against my skin. If she’d been sweating, she’d have been a chick-sicle in no time. Her black hair gleamed pumpkin in the hypnotic hum of the lights, and when her eyes finally came up to meet mine, the mischief just leaked into them like honey.

I was sweating, from the place and from the dancing. She clung onto my shirt, but it wasn’t because she wanted to get cool. She wasn’t having the most success in standing up either. We were both liquid, trying to figure out how to wobble upright like jell-o. We were both trying not to end up as ice cubes in a tray. We even managed a few steps.

The music was fucking loud. It wasn’t just loud, or deafening, it was stuff your ears for the next couple of days loud, the type of loud you couldn’t get away from, the type that made shouting distance shrink down to millimeters. I could still hear it jouncing and rumbling up from the basement club half a block away.

“We shouldn’t stay here,” I found myself saying. She nodded a little, giggled, and hiccupped. I had never heard a Korean hiccup before. Hell, I’d only seen a handful of them actually sweat, and none of them in the club we were just in. I found myself giggling like a lunatic right along with her.

“There’s that thing in the papers,” I said, which was just about as euphemistically as I could put it. She nodded at that too, her smile faltering a little.

She still hadn’t spoken, except to tell me her name, which was something like ‘Sunghee’ or maybe ‘Byunghee’. Had it been ‘Sungji”? I had felt reasonably sure of what I was doing, putting the few dance moves I possessed to this girl, while feeding her shot after shot of cheap well tequila. After the first three she seemed to forget the four other girls she was with, and the fact that my wingman Brad had already taken care of one of them for me. A couple of sixty-fifth mechanic unit fellas had been dancing up the other three when I last looked, which was good.

She extended one slim, diminutive arm and pointed down away from the main roads. Then she said something in Korean. Wonderful. This was either going to turn into me sleeping outside in a gutter in some forgotten Korean back alley after this chick ditched me, or I was going to be resting inside one of the sexiest girls I had ever happened to meet. If it were the latter, hopefully there wouldn’t be too much sleep involved.

I looked down that alley, squinted at the absolute lack of distinguishing features, and turned back to her. Korea has that look to it, that it was all built in the last thirty years, and Sesame Street was wrong: all of these things look just like the others. They’re all between four and six stories tall, with businesses all the way up. PC Rooms dominate everything, with tiny casinos, little restaurants, convenience stores, bakeries, and real estate agencies all playing second fiddle.

“Are you sure-“ was all I got out, before she skipped away. However, she still had a hold of my hand, and jerked me around until I was following her. A strong one, I thought. I was hoping the thigh muscles on this girl were anything like the ones in her arms. If this was the case, we were going to use her bed like a piece of gymnastic equipment. I could not get the term ‘uneven bars’ out of my head for some reason, and the thought made me laugh and laugh.

Now, a lot of Korean girls have this thing about wearing short skirts with exceptionally long jackets. Whatever this one’s name was, she had that same thing going on. Aside from the knee socks and three-inch pumps (complete with little lavender bows on the backs), it looked like she wasn’t wearing anything except the coat, which stopped just below her butt. Now, it may be fashionable back in the States to have a piece of former skirt trying like hell to cover your privates, but nothing beats this look that the Korean girls do. There’s something sweet and trashy about it at the same time, like three quarters of the girls here are tramps, even if they’re wearing cartoon t-shirts or playing their PSP’s on the subway, or both for that matter.

I decided her name was Sunji, because it sounded the prettiest. Sunji and I raced down this back alley, passing a few places with their lights still on. At this hour, some people were still up and cleaning out the last of the restaurant mess from the day. Shot glasses of Soju or pint glasses of beer were still being raised to honor whatever excuse they were using to get drunk and lose their late night ramen.

We turned here, and turned there. By now I was breathing heavy, which takes a bit of work considering I run three miles a day. The place was also listing quite a bit to port, then starboard and back.

“Fuck darlin’,” I said, “slow down a bit huh?”

She stopped and pressed me up against some sort of corrugated metal wall-fence. On her tip-toes now (like she wasn’t before), she reached up and jerked on my hair, plastering her face into mine. Her tongue slid into my mouth, and it tasted how I imagine a cockroach’s asshole would taste. The taste alone got my stomach churning, but then she breathed on me, a fetid stink roiling up into my nostrils. I almost lost it right there.

If this wasn’t bad enough, her tongue slithered into my mouth almost far enough to trigger my gag reflex. I felt bile creeping up into my throat, and choked it back while her fingers dug through my hair, looking to excavate under my scalp. Christ but this girl was forward. I’d never met a Korean chick so fucking blunt. Then again I’d never met one so trashed before.

She extracted her tongue from my lower esophagus a moment later, leaving me gasping. I fell to my knees, sputtering and coughing, trying to get that taste out of my mouth. What the fuck was with this girl? I went to put a hand on my knee to stand back up, but she caught it and, laughing, hauled me to my feet.

I mean I am in the fucking army. I signed up to see the world. I’ve done tours in Europe, over near the Middle East, and now this. This was completely fucked up. I’d never met a girl would could handle more than half a dozen Tequila shots like this chick. If she were over a buck twenty I’d give a testicle away for fucking transplanting or something.

We were off again without another second. I wasn’t just breathing hard now, I was gasping, just about hyperventilating, swallowing back the stuff that threatened to make its second appearance of the night. I am not a little Korean dude, I told myself, I do not eat a cup of instant noodles, drink two bottles of Soju and lose my shit all over the pavement at five in the morning. I clapped a hand to my chest and kept myself from doing that.

It worked until she pulled me around a corner. My foot splashed into something, I stumbled, and I went down hard on my knees. My breathing steadied for a few seconds while my eyes and my brain held a meeting on whether or not they’d like to agree. When the world finally slid back into its normal position, I found myself face to face with a heap of pig’s heads. Glassy eyes and cloudy eyes regarded me there in the dark, trying to judge my predicament. I jerked my eyes away before I started giving facial expressions to their death masks. My hand had fallen into something that might have been entrails, and I jerked my hand away while trying to form a word on the subject.

That’s all it took.

Sunji let me do my business out back of a butcher’s district. Thank whatever gods there are that it was still cold enough to keep the bugs wherever the hell bugs go for the winter. I let loose a torrent of the past four hours of partying, and pre-partying. At least now, I thought, I wouldn’t be able to taste whatever it was she had going on in that mouth of hers.

That rotten meat smell, which for some god-awful reason has a sweet tinge to it, wafted out to meet me by the time I wiped my mouth on my sleeve. I found myself already standing up, and thought it was a sort of miracle at first. I wish now that I’d had a chance to look at what spilled out of me. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that I realized my little Asian powerhouse had a handful of my shirt.

My brain, I think, was addled just enough to respect that strength instead of fearing what had already happened.

“Come on,” she hissed. “We can’t be late.” Only the way she said it, and the strange exhaling sound of her voice, made the word late sound like raped. Koreans have troubles with their l’s and r’s, I thought.

“I saw that shit on the news,” I said. It wasn’t true. I had seen that on the fliers that the MPs on base had passed out. They said: don’t stay out too late. We’ve had too many AWOL guys lately. It’s not regular for this part of the world. One guy had shown up in a garbage bin, torn just about in half. It was the only evidence that those AWOL guys weren’t going to be showing up anywhere, evading the military. He’d been raped before he was finally put out of that humiliating misery. There were rumors going around that some bizarre extremist faction of the Republic of Korea military was out hitting US army dudes trying to pick up, God forbid, Korean girls.

I staggered away from the contents of my stomach with her hand in mine. Maybe my hand in hers. It only took another few seconds for her to take me into a darkened corridor. It was one of those little arcades they use to access the rest of the building that’s not shops. Or if you need to find a bathroom. You duck down one of these.

The little elevator down button glowed red when she touched it. She turned to me and smiled, then melted into me just like how this whole weird ordeal had started. It was like the tongue down my throat thing hadn’t happened at all.

Elevator lights are completely blinding at four in the morning. They slid open like the gates of heaven, whiter than a backcountry redneck at a Detroit rap battle. I winced at the pain of it, and grimaced all the way inside.

Wait, were we heading down?

I didn’t get a chance to think about it. She gripped my head and plastered her face against mine for the second time. Her tongue shot in, massaging my tonsils. I thought I’d imagined it all before, like she tasted like vomit, but that taste was back. I also thought I’d imagined gagging on her tongue, or exaggerated it or something. My eyes bulged out of my skull when it happened again. It twisted and went deeper.

I tried to pull her away. Now it was twisting and cutting into those sensitive places that never let go of the memory of choking down a horse pill. She was cutting off my air supply. I grabbed fistfuls of her hair and yanked, but she’d slid her arms around my neck now.

I was going to vomit. Fuck vomiting, she was going to kill me.

Some sort of pathetic sound came out of me, mostly from my nose, but a little from my invaded throat. I pulled at her head, and put my thumbs over her eyes, ready to push and pop those little bastards like two lidded grapes. My head was suddenly pounding full of rushing blood.

It happened then. Now, the fucked up thing is, you’re thinking: why the hell didn’t you hightail it when she freaked you out the first time? One, I was drunk, and two, I was lost. Three, it was free sex. What happened after this let me know how much I would dearly love to be dead. Okay, your stomach only has a few extremely slow-acting nerves. The esophagus is a little different. I felt something hit my esophagus, and actually smack into the bottom of my gut.

I lost it. I pressed down. Her eyelids tore under the pressure of my thumbs. She began a squeal that would have been a scream, but for the tongue she was currently killing me with. Fuck, okay, I got into this situation on tequila and stupidity, how could I get out of it?

That tongue, or whatever it was, was pulled back and her hands lost their grip on me. Instead they fell right on my wrists. She was a strong one.

She peeled my hands off her like the lid off a Tupperware container, trailing the ruins of her eyeballs with them. Then she began, against my protests, to bend my arms back to snapping positions. I did the only thing I could think of, I mashed my forehead into her nose. I felt the crunch of cartilage under the weight of my blow, and a dark swell of satisfaction within me.

The little ding sounded just in time, and the elevator doors admitted me out into one of the sub-basements of an unknown building, in a part of Seoul I’d never even visited in nightmares. Where the fuck was the stairwell? What had she dropped into my stomach? I stumbled blindly through the dark, cursing and sputtering, trying to get away from her and get my stomach to pump itself again. A shrill scream of agony and rage echoed down throughout the basement after me. I had to find stairs.

I hadn’t noticed my surroundings until I started really searching around for that stairwell. When I looked up, I almost stopped moving altogether. It looked a bit like a science lab at first. All I saw were big square tanks filled with exceptionally blue water, almost ten in all. They were set up like big columns, spaced maybe forty feet apart.

In the center of each one was a GI staring at me.

They were flailing in their tanks, and I couldn’t help but stop and gawk for a second. They weren’t hooked up to any life support, first off. It struck me, in a stage magician sort of way. How were they doing it? Shouldn’t they be a lot dead?

The last detail of my surroundings snuck up and surprised me then. I heard, and felt some movement to my right. I turned to find the floor of the place just missing. It was excavated out or never finished or whatever. Instead, there was a gaping hole filled with alien blackness.

I can’t tell you what happened exactly, because the darkness moved, it writhed, pulsed, shifted or surged or something. We’re talking you’ve never seen darkness like this. I think it had been rearing up, and it hunched in on itself, because suddenly I could see all the way across the basement to one of those famous Korean stairwell signs. These are the green ones with the little stick man dashing toward the exit. That was me.

When the darkness moved though, something happened. Whatever the fuck was sitting in my stomach, trying to eat me alive, it pulsed right along with that massive patch of living black hole. I doubled over at the electric bolts jabbing me, from stomach clear down to my nuts. I realized, now that I was staring down at the floor, at old bloodstains, that I hadn’t even had time to be properly terrified yet. The night might just be getting warmed up.

Until I was slammed into from the side. I staggered, though most of my buzz was gone. It was just from the force of the blow, which knocked me into one of the tanks. The guy inside was beating on it, trying to tell me to get a move on, trying to get me to get him out. I don’t know. All I knew was that my head had hit the glass with a whock sound, and my vision doubled for a second. Fingers twined into my hair, that whock sounded again, and everything went a nice warm black.

I woke up just about a fucking eternity ago. It was time enough to review how I got here, and discover that there’s no way out. I’m floating in a tank with a lid on it. It hasn’t taken a genius to figure out that the lid isn’t coming off without any sort of tools. I’m over my head in water. I’m not dead. There’s something in my chest, it feels full. I’m breathing water somehow. I don’t understand how. I’m one hundred percent pain. I’m blacking out again.

I’m trying to make eye contact with another one of the GI’s here. He’s screaming. I can hear him, though I don’t know how that is. He’s screaming and screaming for his mother, and that he wants to die, but that he doesn’t want to die like this. His tears have dissolved into the water of the tank. We’re both liquid. We’re not real anymore.

Red water is flowing out of my mouth and nose. Korean girls slip out of the shadows around the other guy’s tank and take the lid off. The darkness flows through the place, fucking with my perception. I’m going to die. I’m going to die.

Fuck that! There’s a multi-tool attached to my key ring. Sweet salvation with a dozen attachments, complete with corkscrew!

The darkness cancels everything. I flip out the little screwdriver and start to go to work on the lid to this fucking tank. I manage to get one off, inch by inch, second by second, working furiously, cursing inside my head. One screw floats down to the bottom. Then another.

The darkness dissipates. The other GI isn’t in the tank anymore. Oh Christ. I want to throw up. I can’t. I watch that patch of raw blackness recede back to the hole in the floor. It leaves a small trail of blood behind, on the concrete floor of the basement. I can’t stop working, I know it, but I can’t stop watching.

It seems to stop somehow, to wretch and cough up something bone white. It’s small and frail, yet when it uncurls itself I see that its hair is exactly the same shade as the void from which it came.

It is a perfect replication of Sunji. Her eyes are back. She stands on shaky legs and peers up at me. She smiles.

I haven’t prayed enough lately.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to Make Love Like a Zombie

Magazine of the Dead’s own Nathan Tyree has a new novel out now. How to Make Love Like a Zombie is a fast paced adventure tale set against the back drop of a zombie plague. It follows several survivors as they travel through the country side in search of safety. Along the way they encounter mutations, dark conspiracies and zombie love.

The book is offered in serial form. It has been published as a series of Amazon Short E-Books available exclusively through

You can read the first section here:

How to Make Love Like a Zombie

Friday, September 14, 2007

Clarence and the Hot Dish of Doom

Clarence and the Hot Dish of Doom
By Karl Wolff

“Pass the butter.”

Clarence the gas station attendant did not object to cannibalism on ethical grounds as much as a matter of personal taste. He preferred parboiled armadillo with a cannabis-psilocybin demi-glace. Just like Grandma Rasputina used to make when he lived in the laager of double-wides and mobile howitzers.

He swallowed his pride. Then he swallowed a bite of the hot dish.

“Mrs. Smythe,” He said, a smile beaming across his blood spattered maw.

“This hot dish is wonderful. Where did you get the recipe?”

Mrs. Smythe beamed at Clarence and then to Medea, her golden-haired daughter.

“Well, Clarence, I got the recipe from Mrs. Diblowitz.”

“She tastes wonderful, Mamma.” Medea swooned.

As Clarence chewed on the tender morsels of human flesh, he hoped Mrs. Diblowitz had been murdered in the traditional manner, with the blood drained and the smiley faces tattooed according to the tenets of the Scriptures of Ronnie St. James.

After dinner Clarence experienced the vague pangs of nausea, creeping up his esophagus like a resurrected corpse.

Fine time for this to happen, Clarence thought. I’m trying to make a move.

Clarence and Medea pretended watching the latest extreme sport on the giant television in the living room. The sport involved equal parts sky diving, competitive eating, and public sex. The scoring system continued to confuse Clarence.

“You see, Clarence, if the man fellates a woman, it is three points. If a man fellates another man, it’s negative two points. But only during free fall. The points are reversed during the cabbage speed eating round.” Medea explained the minutiae, but it remained over Clarence’s head.

As Medea continued the explanation, Clarence became more and more sick.
“The hell with it.” He said, clutching his stomach as he ran outside.
He flew out the door and emptied the contents of his stomach on the sun baked landscape.

Then he saw the mutants.

On the horizon, vast hordes of mutants, riding jerry-rigged Winnebagos and Escalades. They headed straight towards the laager.
“Great Jupiter’s ghost! Where did I put my bazooka?” Before he could remember where he placed his weapon, the howitzers ripped the silence with a cataclysmic boom.

Mr. Smythe, a portly fellow with a prosthetic arm and a tail, bounded out the door like a Rottweiler on angel dust.

“Take this and start firing!” He shoved a grenade launcher into Clarence’s sweaty palms. “No mutant horde is going to destroy this community of God-fearing patriotic cannibals!”

The mutant horde was hardly the Smythe’s problem. Thirty thousand miles above them, a lone Wolverton-class space cruiser hovered above the post apocalyptic Branson. Sights were aligned and photon torpedoes were loaded.

The captain of the space cruiser, a cyborg bearing an uncanny resemblance to Jesus Christ, except with hip-mounted missiles and a serious jonesing for Certs, ordered his apostolic minions to fire.
“Time to suck a Certs.” Cyborg-Christ said, popping the tiny white ovoids into his mouth.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007



by Josh Hancock

“I had a heart attack, Hisa,” my sister Misato said as we sat down at the revolving bar of the sushi restaurant next to my office. Misato and I had always been close, but our busy schedules prevented us from seeing each other more than once every few months. The sudden news of her heart attack stunned me. I placed my hand upon hers and tried to meet her eyes, which appeared fragile and ashamed.

“Misato,” I said gently, “why didn’t you call me?”

“I did not want to trouble you. I know how busy your office is,” Misato said.

“Are you”—my throat suddenly dry, I struggled to find the right words—“going to be alright?”

My sister nodded. “It was a small one, the doctor said, brought on by what he called ‘vital exhaustion.’”

“Did he put you on medication?”

Misato nodded again, clearly troubled by the question.

A young sushi chef with a flattened nose and damp forehead handed us cardboard menus from behind the oval-shaped bar. With his dark eyes he looked longingly at Misato, but this did not surprise me. My sister is quite beautiful; her delicate brown eyes, smooth skin, and shiny black hair made even the most handsome men pine for her.

“I’m in shock, Misato,” I said, glancing at the menu. “Why didn’t Jou call me, at least?”

“I asked him not to.” Then, in a much softer voice, Misato said, “I don’t want to be married to Jou anymore, Hisa.”

“Why? What happened?”

Misato paused as the young sushi chef placed two small bowls of salad and miso soup on the counter in front of us. Still keeping his dark eyes on Misato, he walked to the opposite end of the bar to speak in hushed tones with one of the waiters.

Misato looked at me with tears in her eyes.

“Jou tried to kill me,” she whispered.

I gasped. “That’s not funny, Misato.”

“I’m not making a joke. My husband tried to kill me.”

I took a sip of hot tea to steady my nerves. “What did he do?”

“It all started three weeks ago when Jou did not come home at his usual time from work. He had never been late before, so I began to feel sick inside. I tried his phone, but there was no answer. It got so that I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. At around midnight I swallowed two pills just so I could fall asleep. He finally did come home, a little past two in the morning, more drunk than I have ever seen him in my life.”

“How did you know it was a little past two in the morning?” I asked.

“I think half of my body was asleep,” Misato explained, “while the other half lay awake, one eye staring at the bedside clock.”

“Did you talk to Jou that night?”

Before Misato could respond, the young chef approached and asked for our order. As the chef wrote our items on a pad of paper, plates of brightly-colored sushi circulated around the revolving bar.

“He keeps looking at us strangely,” Misato said of the chef.

“He has a crush on my baby sister,” I laughed, forgetting for a moment the seriousness that had brought us together that afternoon. “I’m sorry for laughing. Go on.”

“I pretended that I was asleep,” Misato said. “But Jou tried to…he tried to do it to me anyway. He climbed on top of me and opened my robe and that was when I smelled it for the first time.”

“Smelled what?”

“Perfume. Oakmoss and spice. I think it was Mitsouko, but I can’t be sure.”

I leaned in close to my sister, once again resting my hand on hers. “Did he…did he force himself on you?” I asked.

Misato nodded, her porcelain cheeks turning pink.

“Oh, Misato.” I put my arm around her, and she rested her head on my shoulder for a brief moment. Then the young chef delivered our food, setting our plates down with a mechanical deliberateness that unnerved me.

“Perhaps eating something will make you feel better,” I said to Misato once the young chef had left.

“Perhaps,” replied Misato, reaching for her chopsticks.

We ate quietly for several minutes, our movements nearly identical as we dined. As the lunch crowd began to pick up, more customers clamored for a seat at the revolving bar, and the restaurant grew noisy with office gossip.

“Jou’s awful behavior increased,” Misato continued. “Every night for a week, he would stumble home drunk and fling open my robe, each time more violent than the last. The smell of the perfume became a like a poison to me. After Jou would pass out, I would rush to the bathroom and wash myself at the sink. I would use an entire bar of soap in one night, but I could never rid myself entirely of the scent.”

“Was there any other evidence Jou was having an affair?” I asked.

Misato nodded. “At the start of the second week, he stopped coming home at all. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I heard creaking sounds from the other rooms, but no one was ever there. I almost called the police one night, believing there were burglars in the house. I was terrified to fall asleep. My chest began to hurt, and I was constantly breaking out in a cold sweat.”

“Did you see Jou at all during that second week?”

“No. But he left things for me to find in the house.”

“Misato, this is terrible. I am starting to feel sick.” I put down my chopsticks and tried to calm my stomach with deep breathing, but my curiosity overpowered my common sense. “What kinds of things?” I asked with some hesitation.

“Hotel receipts,” Misato said. “Dead flowers. An empty bottle of wine. And cherry stems. There were always cherry stems, scattered all over the floor.”

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“It was proof of his affair, I suppose. He was trying to hurt me. One morning I found a pair of women’s underpants waiting for me on the kitchen table.”

I shoved my plate away. “What could drive a man to do this?” I wondered aloud.

“You’re not married, Hisa,” Misato said quietly. “You don’t know what marriage can do to a man.”

“Don’t tell me you’re defending him!”

“No, of course not.”

Misato sipped her tea. I noticed that her fragile hands were trembling as she lifted the cup to her mouth. We were quiet for a long time then, eating lightly and watching the customers finish their meals and return to their offices.

“The nights were agony,” Misato said later. “The sickly smell of her perfume hung over me like a fog. I gathered all of the hotel receipts and dead flowers and set them on fire in a pot. I buried the cherry stems in the backyard, expecting…I don’t know what I was expecting. I hated Jou for torturing me, but I was raised to love and honor my husband. In bed I would often find myself opening my robe, waiting for Jou to come home and violate me. I…I fantasized about him forcing himself on me. I was no longer Misato Okuda. I was an animal, disgusted by my own desires.”

“I wish you had called,” I said, my eyes welling with tears. “You could have stayed with me.”

“I was too ashamed.”

“Too ashamed to tell me? Misato, I am your only sister. I would do anything for you.”

The young chef cleared our plates. His dark eyes fell upon Misato and admired her slender frame. He revolted me. Misato looked away.

“I couldn’t sleep anymore,” Misato said. “At the start of the third week I stopped going into work. I spent the day at home, pacing the house in my robe, listening for the sound of his car pulling up in the drive. I began to resemble a walking corpse. Food disgusted me. My hair turned brittle. I bathed with boiling hot water to wash her poisonous stink from my skin. My hands and arms erupted with horrible rashes and other irritations. I thought I was dying, Hisa. I could feel my heart waiting to explode.”

“Misato, I think we should talk about this somewhere else.” I motioned to the young chef, who promptly delivered our bill. The lunch crowd had thinned; most of the tables were empty and the bar was deserted.

“No. Let me finish. In the middle of the third week, I saw Jou again.”

I sighed. “What happened?”

“The only way I could sleep was to take as many pills as possible without becoming ill,” Misato said. “It was a Wednesday and I did not wake up until noon. I heard a muffled voice coming from the den, and I went to investigate. When I entered the den, I saw that the television was turned on.

“Jou was on the television screen. I thought it must have been a videotape playing in the recorder. There was a woman kneeling before him with her back to the camera. She was…performing on him and Jou was laughing, his head thrown back, his body drenched in sweat. Then he looked directly at the camera and said, ‘I hope you’re watching this, Misato.’ His opened his mouth and wagged his tongue like a lizard. There were long fingernail scratches on his chest. ‘You disgust me and you always have,’ he said.

“I stumbled out of the den and into the living room. I could feel my blood storming through my veins and my breath came in short gasps. There was an intense squeezing in my chest. Then I collapsed. I managed to crawl to the phone and call for help.”

“My god,” I said, reaching again for my sister’s hand.

“So, you see,” Misato said, “he tried to kill me.”

“Where have you been staying all this time?”

“At the Sofitel.” She opened her pocketbook and placed her credit card on top of the bill.

“No, Misato, let my office pay.”

She shook her head. “You’ve been so kind to listen to me. It’s the least I can do.”

The young chef collected the bill. As we waited for him to return, I watched the endless parade of sushi boats and bento boxes make their rounds. Misato was quiet, her hands folded in her lap and her eyes cast downward.

“Hisa,” Misato said after signing the bill and returning her credit card to her pocketbook, “I want you to know that I am honored to have you as my sister.”

“Misato, you don’t need to say anything—”

“I want to. My marriage to Jou prevented us from seeing each other, but that is over now. I have already contacted a lawyer about getting a divorce.” Misato paused, carefully brushing an eyelash from her cheek. “I want us to spend more time together from now on, Hisa.”

“I would like that.”

“Like when we were children, remember? Father always said how alike we were.”

I smiled as I recalled growing up with Misato and our parents in Okutama. As children, Misato and I shared much in common, from the way we dressed to the times of the year when we got sick.

“I love you, Misato,” I said, patting her hand.

Misato gave me a puzzled look as she stood up. She leaned into me and I felt the wisps of her silky hair brush against my cheek. I smelled her perfume for the first time that day, a modest blend of vanilla and sage.

“I know it was you,” she said.

Then she walked out of the empty restaurant.

It is impossible to describe how I felt at that moment, except to say that my mind went blank. My hands curled into fists. Misato, perfect Misato, perfect porcelain doll Misato; always besting me in one way or another. I looked up and saw the young sushi chef grinning at me, his flattened nose and oblong forehead gleaming with perspiration.

And then I saw Jou.

His head sat on one of the sushi plates circling the bar. As it rounded the corner toward me, I saw that the blood vessels in his eyes had exploded, the sockets darkened with red. The mouth was a gaping hole, the skin sallow and sunken like the face of a starved animal. It was Jou, my sister’s husband; Jou, the investment banker with perversions darker than my own; Jou, my revenge for years of jealousy and spite.

I screamed when his head floated past my chair.

The young chef threw his head back and laughed, and I knew right then that Misato had paid for more than our lunch. I felt a rush of breath escape me; my heart rose in my throat, and my entire body went slack.

The chair underneath me wobbled. I fell backward, crashing to the floor.

The young chef continued to laugh as I pawed at my chest.

Misato and I were sisters, after all, with much in common.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Last Full Show

Last Full Show
by Aurelio Rico Lopez III

On the sign,
Large crimson neon tubes
But the first letter T.
One E, and the R
Have burned out.

HATE is all that remains.

The posters and
The ticket vendor with
Yellow teeth and foul breath

Masked murderers,
Demon spawns, scream queens,
And mental asylum escapees…
Flooded in darkness,
Even the narrowest of minds
Can imagine the sticky floor
Coated in gore;
The anxious audience,
A devoted crowd
Of exquisite corpses.

The film rolls.
A Nobody’s Suicide.
Cheers and applause
For your acting debut
And the drama of your tale.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Winter War

A Winter War
By Matt Shaner

The therapist said I need this journal. She says it will help me to process the events of so many years ago. She says it will help me regain my memory and sanity. She has not seen my sights though. She does not understand the feeling of death. She has no concept of dedication and country. I write this for myself and my family. They need to know our story. They need to see why their grandfather is in this home and why he will never leave.
We were drafted late in the second Great War and arrived on the southern coast of Italy at the end of summer. The landing ships pulled into an ancient harbor and we disembarked to empty buildings. Intelligence reports indicated we would face minimal resistance until we were well into our northward march. The missions were simple, land at the heel of the boot and eliminate the Germans from the entire thing. After four years, set sail for home. I left behind a wife and two daughters.

The late afternoon sun cut some heat away as we organized for the march. It took time to ready the vehicles. I stood with four other guys next to an old fish market building. The waves lapped against our ships. The salt smell danced in the air and it felt good to start a war in paradise. As we were to leave, we heard a rustling in the building. Our Sergeant, Taylor Smithson, drew his service pistol and opened the door. He jumped when an elderly woman fell into his arms. He pulled her outside and laid her onto the sand. She looked into his eyes. We stood in a circle. Someone ran for a medic. She raised her hand and touched the Sergeant’s face. She spoke in an Italian variant. Before a translator arrived, her head fell limp. We placed her on the side of the building and moved on, no time or energy to dig a grave.

We marched through lowlands and hills. We examined villages, wreckage of houses and lives. We were welcomed in some and despised in others. We fought and I killed. The feeling of power intoxicated and invigorated. We were soldiers. We were legally able to eliminate life from the earth. We knew the enemy. They were no better then objects. I thought of my family and I did not care about theirs.

The first sign of luck, if you want to call it that, arrived in the second battle against resistance fighters. We were stopped at a field edge with two towns on either side. The leaders examined the options. They decided to use the towns for cover. Before we moved, our Sergeant spoke up. He stood in the meeting area with a vacant look in his eyes.

“Use the field,” he said. The responses came swift.

“You’re crazy.”

“We’ll be target practice.”

“It’s suicide.”

He spoke directly to the commanding officer. They had gone through basic training together.

“Trust me. We need to use the field.” The officer accented to his friend and we marched straight through.

The bombs fell to our left and right. Bullets whizzed over our heads, some finding ground and others finding the chests of men. The sky had grayed and a stiff wind pushed the gun smoke into the air. The towns on our sides were on fire and totally destroyed. Their people who decided to stay met their deaths in the attack. We watched from our positions and kept the advance.

After the enemy attacks faded, we moved in and cleared their stronghold. We stood on the battlefield, looking at the destruction. The field shone brighter then the towns. My hands burnt against the heat of my guns. We kept our northward march. I went instep with the Sergeant.

“How did you know?” I asked.

“The old woman,” he said.

The seasons changed with our progress. Snow started to fall and we passed roads flanked with frozen bodies. The snow itself was equal parts white and red. The land soaked up the blood regardless of which side we were on. The beauty of the country stood against the destruction. We met more resistance and our numbers succeeded in securing our advance. This is where I first noticed the strange happenings.

They extended further then good guesses in battle. Enemy bombs from above would fail to detonate. Bullets flew over our heads and around our positions. Our guns found no need to reload. Wounds, as the medics were treating them, closed and healed. We walked those months losing no one from our troop. We advanced into the northern sections of the country in December.

Snows fell for a week straight, hampering our efforts. We changed to camouflage whites that burned the eye in the morning sun. Soldiers, half frozen, lined the paths. One night, outside during a smoke break, a guy spoke up.

“Anyone know the date?” Most heads shook. Finally a person responded after consulting their journal.

“December 24th.”

“Wow. Well, merry Christmas early then,” he said. We laughed. That night we fought off a small attack and did not sleep.

The next day, Christmas, we marched onto the ruins of an old bombed out church. The snow had tapered to a few white dots in the sky. We walked in through the entrance. The roof of the chapel was open to the weather. Wooden pews splintered and some withstood the assault. Those open to the elements started to rot from the moisture. A grouping of birds fluttered away at our presence. The Sergeant walked up to the Alter.

“We camp here tonight. Let’s take a break from the weather.” The men cheered. We spread out over the area.

I used my grenade belt as a pillow. A few small fires were started and contained on the stone floor. A soldier took a piece of the splintered pew wood and lit candles on the Alter. Men found a bed where they could. Some slept in the confessional, others on the remaining pews. The stone floor felt like Heaven against the cold ground outside. Around midnight, the scout officer sounded an alarm. We jerked awake, grabbed our weapons, and ran outside.

The snow had stopped. A German contingent advanced up the road to our surprise. We were sure the holiday would prevent any action and we were wrong. The first volley of rifle fire took out the man to my left. He fell, a hole in his chest. He was talking to me and then he was gone. We took up defensive positions in the ruins. This is where things started to happen.

My position flanked the entrance. An organ, with destroyed pipes sounded a mournful note and we all turned. The crucifixion, large and gold, seemed to vibrate above us. The Christ, his head pierced, opened his eyes and two rivulets of blood ran down his cheeks. The rifle fire kept coming. We had no time to watch.

The contingent of soldiers was still advancing. We stopped them at the “driveway” of the church. A grenade took down the right side of the building. We swore this would be the end. I pictured my family and wondered if they enjoyed their dinner. They started to advance past the drive and to our forces. From his cover, our Sergeant stood. He pulled out his handgun and before he could fire, two large figures appeared next to him in white.
The figures extended wings that blocked the building and our troops. The bullets bounced off their wings. They pulled swords from their belts. The night lit up like a noon sky. The organ note pounded in my ears. The Christ’s blood tears now flowed in a small river to the floor. With two swipes of their weapons, they cut down the opposing soldiers. Their vehicles exploded. The bodies fell to the ground. We stopped and stood in silence. After the action, they withdrew their swords. The wings folded. They vanished and the sky went dark.

I slept in the ruins that night with a new peace.

I know what we saw. I know they investigated the area and found no wreckage of a church. I know something else though. We all survived and completed our mission. We returned here and continued our family lives. We have a reunion every year to catch up and the story is always told. I keep a piece of wood in my pocket, not larger then a postage stamp, from those pews and I twist it in my fingers now. That is my story whether they like it or not. I hear them in the hall, talking. They debate my will and my existence. They discuss funeral arrangements. They demand money for grandchildren who never come and visit. They do not know that, in these dark times, I am comforted by my memories. I return to the church. I kneel and touch the blood. I cross myself and fall prostrate to the floor, ready for the next battle, whenever it may come.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


by Aurelio Rico Lopez III

A voice beckons
Deep within the well,
Where ten years today,
Little Angela fell.

Amidst the tall grass,
Above a building breeze,
Remorse’s heavy load,
Drops me to my knees.

A little child’s voice
Unforgiving, yet hushed;
Do you remember, Papa?
This is where you pushed.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Announcement: KGB Bar

On July 22 from 7-9 pm there will be a reading in conjunction with the release of The Flash (Social Disease Press ISBN 978-0955282935 Edited by Peter Wild, a contributor to MotD). This reading will be held at The KGB Bar in New York City.

Info about those reading:

Andrew Lewis Conn is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, P (SoftSkull, 2003). Following a starred review in Kirkus, P was chosen as one of the summer's best books by The Austin Chronicle, Nerve, The Oregonian, Salon, and Time Out New York, and was named one of the best books of the year by The Village Voice and The Austin Chronicle. P was translated into Greek by Electra Publishing and into Portuguese for publication in Brazil by Editora W11.

Conn's other writing has appeared in The Village Voice, Film Comment, Time Out New York, and The Believer. He has been a resident at the Ledig House International Writers' Colony and Yaddo.

Nic Kelman is the author of the international bestselling novel, Girls, published by Little, Brown and Co. as well as Video Game Art, an art history of video games published by Assouline. His writing and photography have appeared, among other places, in Elle, Glamour, The Village Voice, and Black Book, as well as various anthologies. He holds a B.S. from MIT and an M.F.A. from Brown University.

Nathan Tyree is a writer from Kansas. His fiction and poetry has appeared in places like Edifice Wrecked; decomP; The Beat; Doorknobs and Body Paint; Flesh and Blood; Problem Child; Dogmatika; The Shallow End; Lightning Journal; Journal of Modern Post and too many others to list. In addition to The Flash his work has been anthologized in 3AM: London, New York, Paris (Social Disease Press); The Empty Page (Serpent’s Tail); Pleasant Dreams (Serpent’s Tail); What Goes on (Serpent’s Tail); Project Contagion (3Pitt Publications) and others. Nathan is the author of Mr. Overby is Falling. He has never mastered the oboe.

Jackie Corley was born in 1982. She developed Word Riot in March 2002 with the help of Paula Anderson. Word Riot Press, an independent publishing press, evolved out of the magazine in January 2003. Jackie's writing has appeared on-line at, 3AM Magazine and SerialText and in print in BOOM! For Real and Consumed: Women on Excess (So New Media).

Admission to this event is free. All are invited. If you are (or will be) in the NYC area, drop in.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Miss Shen

Miss Shen
RJ Astruc

“Hello ma’am,” the official says, “I’m here to inform you that your invincibility has expired.”

Miss Shen opens the door another fraction of an inch and peers fearfully up at him. “I beg your pardon?”

“Your invincibility, ma’am,” says the official. “Surely you remember? You were injected as a child as part of the AIU government trial. A very successful trial, too – a shame that the product will never reach the commercial markets. But I suppose you couldn’t really have everyone in the country being invincible, it wouldn’t be practical…”

Miss Shen can’t remember the invincibility. But she vaguely remembers the tests: the pinch of the needle, the smiling faces of the nurses, the starched white beds and the shiny silver machines that monitored her vital signs. The questions her parents refused to answer. Invincibility? She smiles nervously.

The official rustles paperwork. “Boy, I envy you,” he says, offering her a clipboard and a pen. “You must have been a real hellion in your youth! No worries, no cares, no fears. Can you initial here and here? And sign on the dotted line.”

Miss Shen takes the clipboard in trembling hands. She remembers only a youth of nervous inadequacy: of poor school marks, of sporting failures, of friendless nights sitting in front of the television listening to her parents fight. She remembers turning down offers of parties (there might be a fight) and travel (I’m scared of flying). She remembers a school boy with a knife behind the bleachers who told her to take off all her clothes and lie still, Nina, lie still so you don’t get hurt.

“Thanks, ma’am,” says the official cheerfully. “Hey, you must have some stories, right? I had a chance to speak to a few other AIU-trial subjects – and wow! One guy said he swum with sharks in Australia, and two of the girls climbed Mount Everest together. Stood above the clouds and saw the sun set at their feet, they said. What a life, I said – what a wonderful life!”

Miss Shen signs her name on the dotted line. She remembers faking a leg-cramp to avoid the embarrassment of school sport. She remembers telling her first – her only – boyfriend that she couldn’t do that, because she was scared of disease. She remembers refusing to wear high heels in case she fell. She remembers avoiding sugars and processed foods, she remembers reading the backs of labels. She remembers a man who followed her home and she had to keep walking, walking, walking, running, sobbing, tight-chested, clutching her purse…

She hands back the clipboard saying, “I don’t have any stories.”
He thinks she’s bluffing. “Surely you must. I mean you were invincible for thirty years… you must have done something!”

“No one told me,” she says.

The official stares. “You’re serious,” he says. “Wow, I’m sorry.” His face is red and flushed. “Invincible for thirty years and you never noticed. Well, I guess it’s not that bad. You never really missed anything.”

Invincibility, she thinks. A life lived. She smiles to alleviate his discomfort. “Thank you for coming,” she says, and closes the door.

Miss Shen stands by the window and watches the official walk down the pavement, shaking his head. On the coffee table behind her there are bills to be paid and a light bulb to be replaced; there is her mother to call and the tea to brew; she has laundry to wash and the newspaper crossword to complete...

Weeping, Miss Shen returns to her life.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Zombies II

Zombies II: Inhuman
by Eric S. Brown
Naked Snake Press

The shelves of bookstores (and the virtual shelves of Amazon) are these days filled with books that in some way or another brush up against the zombie genre. Horror in general has had a big resurgence in recent years; zombies have been a big part of that surge. For fans this is a mixed bag: it's been great to see so many zombies around; but most of those books have been disappointing. Zombies II: Inhuman by Eric S. Brown is an exception. This little book delivers.

Brown has become known in recent years for crafting zombie stories that terrify and surprise. His fans anticipate each new publication. Those fans will not be disappointed by Zombies II.

This small collection contains eight powerful, well written stories that each offer up something totally unique. Brown has given us well structured stories built on round, complete characters. His dialogue is always believable and never sinks to the level of overblown exposition that plagues so many writers in this genre. These are stories that, did they not happen to feature zombies, would be at home in the better literary publications. But, they do contain zombies- and that is kind of the point.

Beyond zombies, what is this book about? These stories are connected. They take place in a world over run by zombies (of course), but there is another thread that runs through them. This also happens to be a world in which some rare people have super powers. Brown gives us humans with super speed, and super strength, and various other comic book powers. He makes these mutants our heroes and lets us enjoy as they do battle with undead flesh eaters. We also get to see the reaction of normal people to these super-humans. You can guess that it probably isn’t a pleasant reaction.

All the way through Brown manages to entertain. Zombies II: Inhuman is a great little book. It’s a must read for any zombie fan.

The only real complaint I can Level against this book is: it’s too damn short. Brown hooks us, and leaves us wanting more.

you can pre-order the book at:

Nathan Tyree

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Distortion: A Short Story
By Will Clements

There he lay, in a large nook in the side of a rocky hill structure, in the middle of what was once a spectacularly beautiful forest. There was room enough for him to lay comfortably with two people on either side. Those two people were his world, his real world, outside the chaotic and hopeless one. These two were the loves of his life.

On his right was a beautiful young woman with long, red hair. Her smile alone, wrapped up in that gorgeous face of hers, was enough to lighten and brighten this world. She was perfect in every way, his dream woman. She lay with her head on his chest and her right hand resting on his stomach. Her warmth, her womanly scent, was enchanting, exotic, and aromatic.

On his left was a young man or a younger man rather for he was a young man himself at age twenty. The boy was about nine or ten; he hadn't asked. He had short, blond hair and cool, green eyes. Though small, he was a tough and strong lad with courage, chivalry, but most importantly, love to give. This man was his adopted father, and he was the man's adopted son. The boy lay with his head on the man's shoulder and his small body curled up against him.

The man loved the boy as his son, and the woman as his wife, even though there were no longer laws to regulate this nor a government to approve it. There they lay, sheltered from the ashen snow and the merciless chill of the wind, snuggled up against one, partially out of warmth but mostly out of the love of being close with one another.

You wouldn't let me give up, the woman said.

I still won't.

You told me that I was too beautiful to die.

You are. But there is more to it than that. We have to carry on because of hope, hope and love.

Is there any hope?


He felt the woman's body melt into his own and the warmth between, as if possible, increase twofold. The man tightened his grip around her, held her close. He did the same for the boy. Never finding it easy to fall asleep even when extremely exhausted, the man stared at the rocky roof of the nook and thought about nothing. He was finally content, in such a simple surrounding, and didn't worry about anything for once.

The boy spoke up. When you found me, you saved me.

I did.

You said you didn't do it because you felt sorry for me but because it was your fate.

And I stand by it.

Why did you save me?

To anyone else, you would have been a burden, another mouth to feed. But to me, you were hope. I was becoming so desperate, so lonely, that I was ready to give up. Then you came along and gave me hope. I finally had something to live for. Your hope spread from me to her and now we are all alive.

We're alive because you saved us.

Yes. But you saved me.

Content with that answer, the boy snuggled against the man's left side once again. When the boy's breathing became soft and steady, the man found himself drifting off to sleep. But before he did, he felt a weight disappear from either side of him and an emptiness flood into his mind. He clenched his eyes tightly then blinked away a few, cold tears. They streaked down his face, running away from him like the manifestations he had just interacted with.

The cold, isolation of this world weighed heavily upon him. Either side of him was empty, either arm wrapped around nothingness. He hugged his arms to his chest and wept profusely. It was cold and he was alone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Always Faithful

Always Faithful
By Steven L. Shrewsbury

“Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy.”
Timon of Athens

“You must believe me, sir that I am the lord of the dark realms of hideous vanity. I come from beyond the gates of rusted blood. My home is over the surging river Styx and my love is to torment those lost forever.”

The Marine counselor rubbed a rough hand over his sharp, tight cut hair and sighed. “Private Berry, I believe that you have a problem, but nothing my psyche couch can cure.”

The youthful Marine sat forward on the couch and exclaimed, “But you must believe me, Captain Marten. I am demon!”

Marten glowered at him and shot back, “You are demon? If you’re in possession of anything it’s lousy grammar. Why are you a demon? Because you feel scared sleeping in barracks that once housed the Waffen SS? Get a grip, Marine! You aren’t the only one to sleep there since the occupation began.”

Private Berry’s eyes stared at the forearm of the counselor, bearing the Corps logo and a few other tiny tattoos. “But after I visited the ruins of Ravensbruck…”

The Captain stood up and drilled his fists down, nearly toppling the tiny lamp on the desk. “Get your head out of your ass, marine! I didn’t come to Germany to nursemaid little boys who smoke too much Afghan hash.” The Marten then pointed at the emblem on his forearm and barked, “Do your duty, Marine!”

Berry stood up straight, but his bottom lip quivered. “How can I convince you that I am demon--Amazarak?”

Grinding his teeth, the Captain roared, “Being a non-conformist and wetting the bed is no proof of demon possession. Besides, you exhibit none of the silly things associated with OBSESSION behavior. No marks, no speaking in other languages…” Captain Marten pointed his finger in the private’s face quickly, “…and don’t start to try German on me!”

Private Berry turned about, touched the door and looked back. He glared at the Captain, pulled out a short, curved blade and then closed the door.


When the frantic secretary called the MP’s after she heard the screams, it was no time before the door was broken down to Captain Marten’s office. Crudely, they found Captain Marten laid out inside, his legs up on the couch, his arms spread out on the floor, his throat ripped out and his belly flailed open. A mound of intestines almost rivaling the torso of the dead counselor lay heaped on the tan carpet beside him.

The lead MP, gun drawn, felt his gut flip over as he beheld Private Berry trying to wrap a slippery piece of material over the tiny lampshade on the desk. The flaring eyes of the Private locked on him as he turned the crude lampshade addition toward the MP and said, “You see? Another language my ass!”

The MP swallowed as he gawked at the lamp and read the words, “SEMPER FI.”

Zombie Anthology Update

The submission call for the zombie anthology is now over. We're in the process of editing and compiling the stories now.

We're still working on the third regular issue of Magazine Of The Dead as well, as soon as we get a few more submissions for that, it will be ready for purchase.

We'll let you know more about these projects as time goes on.

Magazine Of The Dead Sells Out.

We at Magazine Of The Dead realize that putting our name out in the public is the best way to make this little project grow into more than just a few guys tossing words back and forth. Therefore, we are proud to announce that we now dwell among the teeny boppers and child molesters of America.

You can now view our Myspace page and become our "friend" here. Keep in mind, of course, that it is a work in progress.

Friday, June 1, 2007

NEWS: Prospero Leaves Island. Burns all his books.

Wake up time children. Art is destruction, destruction of complacency, destruction of the Normal, destruction of the rigid mind set. Destruction can be art, Violence shocks us from our safe places and forces to stare at terrible reality. We are 'safe' in this violence while we read it on black and white pages that are separated from us.

We, here at Magazine of the Dead, understand that. We know the power of Art and how 26 simple characters can create, or destroy, whole worlds for us. So, when Prospero's Bookstore decided that they would burn books to protest the continual decline of the state of American Literacy, we were both appalled, and appreciative of the message. But unlike Shakespear's Prospero, we are not yet done with our Art.

Go Forth. Get a book. Read it. Pass it On.

Magazine Of The Dead

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tears down Cold Faces

Tears down Cold Faces
By Christopher Allan Death

Everything is dark.

I can hear dirt falling over my head. It sounds like a million angry bees, fluttering back and forth in the pitch black void above me. They shudder and heave across the coffin lid, streaking the expensive mahogany finish and wedging into the engraved silver plaque. It says Ronald T. Thurston, 1956-2007.

That was my name once. Before I invited that damned woman into my life; before I opened up my arms and my bank account and my heart; before that damned woman took everything I had and shoved a meat cleaver through my chest.

That was before I met Katherine Von Saint.

Ever since I saw her that fateful autumn day, I knew she was trouble. Her gorgeous auburn eyes and supple Hungarian skin made my young American heart skip a beat. But I had no idea what she intended to do with it.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all Hungarian women are evil money laundering she devils; just the ones that wear glossy lipstick and bat their huge, sultry eyes.

However, that is not where my story begins. The events leading to my bloody fate started to unravel when I set foot into that damned country. The country where the sun rises into a blood red sky and the darkness embraces the landscape like a long lost lover; the country called Transylvania.

Now I must warn you. This story is not for the faint of heart. If you detest sad stories, please read no further. I’m afraid that my life contains very few happy moments after this point. But I digress.

The date was October 17, 1985 when I set sail from my native land. I was nineteen years old, with an unquenchable thirst for adventure. And like most audacious young men, I suspected that fate would lead me beyond the shores of North America.

Unfortunately I was correct.

With nothing but the clothes on my back and a thirst for salty sea air, I snuck aboard the USS Widget, a freighter bound for foreign soil. Little did I know the ship’s ultimate destination. Or the terror I would encounter once it had arrived.
The captain was a swarthy man named Jeremiah Cutter, whose bad temper was matched only by his mouthful of bad teeth. I will never forget the day when he found me below deck, feasting on his rations and fresh water supply. The lashings were endless.

Fortunately I managed to jump ship once we reached port. I was sick of eating moldy bread and drinking filthy water. That was my first taste of sea life and I never wanted to go back. The relentless sun and salty ocean waves had turned my skin into rawhide.

I spent the next two days wandering through the coastal towns, hitching rides from strangers and making acquaintances with the locals. I knew that I was somewhere around Bucharest, but that was the extent of my knowledge.

The foliage grew tall and thick as I ventured further inland. Trees thrust through the forest floor, threading their mossy arms heavenward like long-lost souls. Vines curled around hulking limbs. And the sounds of wildlife buzzed around me like a chorus of a thousand voices.

"What is this place?" I asked one of the village elders. He merely shook his head and affixed his gleaming yellow eyes into the distance.

"You stand in devil territory," he said. But when I tried questioning him further, he only uttered one word: "Transylvania."

Now there is one thing you must understand. Transylvania is not a mythical place where vampires roam the twilight and feed off wary villagers. It is a serene country with beautiful sights and ancient castles. A far cry from the bleak countryside portrayed in modern Hollywood monster movies.

Nevertheless, it took me several days to comprehend what the old villager meant. He was not talking about the country at all, but rather what I would discover inside it.

I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on Katherine. She was walking down a cobblestone street with a designer purse slung over her shoulder. She looked at me with those seductive auburn eyes and immediately I was in love.

Looking back on that day, I wish I had never seen her beautiful face. I wish I had never taken her hand and asked her name. But above all, I wish I had never placed my heart in her hands.

You see, not all women from Transylvania are vampires, but some are equally heartless and bloodthirsty. I learned that lesson the hard way.

She told me that she loved me. She wrapped her arms around me and made me feel like I was special. But she was merely a demon in disguise. And once she held my heart in her hands … she crushed it.

I can still feel the meat cleaver in my chest. The cold steel rends through my fragile flesh, severing muscle tissue and releasing a fountain of blood down my abdomen and thighs. It is sticky and warm and strangely exhilarating.

The next thing I know, I am eclipsed in darkness. I can hear the reverend speaking nearby, but his voice is muffled. The sound of people crying intermingles with his dry discourse.

The funeral service ends. I am enfolded within the sheltering arms of silence. Only the darkness can mend my broken heart. I am all alone.

Some people think that dead bodies cannot feel. They think that death is the final blow. But they are wrong. Even death cannot dull the throb of a broken heart. Some types of pain follow men into the grave itself.

Maybe you don’t believe me. Maybe you are sitting in your luxurious suburban home, watching the clouds float past and laughing at my misfortune. But it doesn’t matter. One day you will learn the truth. Until then, I will be quietly languishing in my grave. And shedding a tear for the love I lost.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Daddy Man, Silly Man, God Man and Me

Daddy Man, Silly Man, God Man and Me
by Terry Doss

That copper pot been in the kitchen, long as I
'member. It always bubblin' and hissin'. Sometime I
run a toy car on a makin' believe road in the kitchen.
Daddy Man told me stay away. That pot'll burn you, he
say. I keep away. It keep on bubblin' and hissin'.

Over in the corner sit the man Daddy Man brung home. He
play makin' believe with me too. Sometime he run the
car in what he call the "sittee." When I ask Daddy Man
what the "sittee" be, he told me it just silly makin'
believe. I think maybe that right. I seen that man
lookin' silly at me, like I look at bugs in the
kitchen, when I squish them.

Come up supper time, Daddy Man holler for me. Go fetch
wood he say. I go out back to the wood pile. I fetch
in one, and two, and three pieces sometime. Stack it
to the mark on the wall that Daddy Man made. Silly Man
got his supper then. My bowl at the table too. Daddy
like to eat out the front door. He like to look at
the moon. Silly Man don't even finish his bowl. I
finish what he don't eat. Daddy Man don' t like us to

I wash the supper bowls and go say my amens. Ask
God Man to bless Daddy Man and me. Ask him to bless that
Silly Man too. Ask him maybe someday let me see the
"sittee." I tell him I saw him in the sky today,
making a deep shwoosh. Amen.

I climb in my blanket and stay quiet. Daddy Man come
in the house, all heavy boots on the wood floor. He
go and check my cleanin' in the kitchen. He talk with
the Silly Man a bit. Heavy boots on the wood floor
again. Daddy Man sit in his chair and look at the special
book. I look at it sometime, but I'm not s'posed to.
It has one, and two, and three and four ladies in it,
not with any clothes. I wonder if one maybe Momma

That night I dream 'bout God Man in the sky, all
silver and poopin' clouds. He come down in a big
shoosh and I climb on his shiny back. He fly me off
to the "sittee" and Momma Lady be standin' not with
any clothes on. Silly Man be holdin' her hand. I
wave and smile all teeth on the back of God Man. God
Man tell me not to feel better than anyone, just 'cuz
I fly off on his back. That what they call pride. I
look back to Momma Lady and Silly Man got his hand on
her milk sacks. Like I do with the goat sometime, he
squeeze a bit and aim the milk in his mouth. God Man
throw me off and I hit the wood floor next to my bed.
I climb back into bed and sleep 'til the sun start up
in the sky.

Daddy Man makin' eggs an biscuits. He tell me Silly
Man don't want any today and I eat his. I eat 'til I
am full as a dog tick. Daddy Man don't like us to waste.

I clean the breakfast dishes and Daddy Man, he go out
in the wood, checkin' the loop lines. Silly Man ask
me if I want to see the "sittee" with him. I ask him
how he gettin' to the "sittee" an he tell me he got a
car. He say he and me can go in it. I laugh at his
silly talk. I tell him I can get to the "sittee" on
the back of God Man, and if he can hold on tight,
maybe he can go on the back of God Man too. I tell
him we can go to see Momma Lady and he can squeeze
milk out of Momma Lady's milk sacks. Silly Man get
all quiet, and look at the floor. I think maybe he
miss his Momma Lady. I miss my Momma Lady too.

After cleanin' the kitchen, I go out to the field
past the creek and find a patch of clover. I rip up
big handfulls of it and make a basket out of my shirt
to hold it. I pull enough so it start to fall out the
side of the shirt, and start for the house. I hear
God Man swhooshin' in the clouds, but I don't see him.
I whoop and holler to him, but he don't slow down. I
carry the clover back to the house.

The bunnies hop to the back of the cage when I push
the clover in. They eat and I put their poop in a
bucket with the shovel. Daddy Man tell me to spread the
poop far out and not in one place. He tell me the
bunny poop be hot and can burn the plants. I let the
poop cool down before I throw it out in the woods.

The bunnies eat clover from my hand sometime.
Sometime, Daddy Man have me hold the bunny to keep it calm
before he hit it with a hammer. Excited bunnies taste
sour he tell me. It make me sad a little, but it
better than when Daddy Man grab them by the ears and whop
them. They scream when he grab them. They scream,
and scream, and then whack, they are quiet, and they
kick their bunny feet for the last time I s'pose.
Bunny meat taste good. Like chicken.

Afternoon time and Daddy Man come back from the wood.
He ain't got nothin' from the loop lines. He tell me
to go inside and play with Silly Man.

I go in the kitchen and there sit Silly Man. He
been sleeping all day. I shake him awake and ask him
to tell me about "sittee" again. He say that "sittee"
have light all the time, not just in the day. I ask
him if he 'member his Momma Lady, and he 'member her
for me. He 'member her rockin' him for sleep, and

Daddy Man come in from outside while I play with
Silly Man and whop! Silly Man kick his feet for the
last time I s'pose. I hear God man swooshin' outside,
and inside that copper pot keep bubblin' and hissin'.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ten Questions for Eric S. Brown

Magazine of the Dead's own Nathan Tyree has Interviewed Zombie Master Eric. S. Brown. MotD presents this interview for your erudition and pleasure.

Ten Questions for Eric S. Brown.

Eric S. Brown is a 32 year old author living in North Carolina with his wife and son. Some of his books include the zombie novel/novellas The Queen, Cobble, and The Wave. Some of his chapbooks include Zombies: The War Stories, As We All Breakdown, Still Dead, and Viruses and Vamps. His latest book, Zombies II: Inhuman will be out in June, 2007 from Naked Snake Books. For those interested in checking out his work, his books can be found on,,, and

NT:How did you come to focus on the zombie sub-genre?

Eric: I just have always loved zombies since the first time I saw Dawn of the Dead. When I started writing, my first story not only that I wrote but that I sold was a zombie tale. Since then they have just kind of stuck with me. I write more zombie stuff than anything else and zombies are what I am known for most in my career.

NT:Do you feel that the zombie genre offers greater opportunity for social satire, philosophical musing and political statement than other forms of horror?

Eric: YES! Take one look at George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and you can see all those things in it. I try to have a message in my tales sometimes too but honestly I write out of a love of the zombie genre than anything else.

NT: What work within the zombie genre (be it novel, short story, film, image, etc) has most influenced your work?

Eric: The Rising by Brian Keene. That book not only made zombies cool again but it opened the door to much less traditional takes on the living dead in fiction.

NT: Zombie fiction (as well as horror in general) is making a real comeback these days. Do you believe that there is a political aspect to this? That is, is it true that as a society we turn to the frightening and the terrible in times of political or economic insecurity? If so, why?

Eric: Though many would disagree, I think so. I think we want to escape into a fantasy world rather than deal with the problems in our own real world and zombie tales despite their end of the world storylines often are filled with hope and if nothing else at least try to remind the reader why it’s important to try to stay alive.

NT: Other than yourself, who is the best writer working in this field?

Eric: There are a ton of great writers out there today. Brian Keene is certainly the one that has caused the most change but I think I would say David Moody. He’s a writer who’s not scared to take chances and his work is so character driven you can’t help but be amazed at his talent after reading Autumn. Travis Adkins, I think, is certainly one of the younger, newer authors to watch. He has great potential.

NT: To be effective does a zombie tale have to contain a extreme gore? Can the same effect be gained through other means, and if it could would it be as good?

Eric: Readers do expect some gore or it wouldn’t be a zombie tale but certainly books like David Moody’s Autumn come across as powerful and moving without focusing on that aspect of the genre. Gore isn’t needed but it shouldn’t be completely left out either.

NT: What’s the most important thing you’ve ever put off or ignored to write?

Eric: I have always wanted to do a super-hero type comic book since comics are my other real passion in life aside from zombies, my wife, and my son. It’s something I have thought about my whole life but have yet to really try to do it.

NT: What’s your favorite book (zombie or non-zombie)?

Eric: The Legion of Super-heroes and The Fantastic Four are my favorite comics and I also have a love for the old Weird War Tales books that DC did in the 70s but as to a novel I would likely say Hyperion by Dan Simmons or The Rising by Brian Keene. However the all time greatest ever zombie book to me would certainly be The Book of the Dead anthology.

NT: What’s your advice for someone trying to break in to the zombie fiction market?

Eric: As a person who was writing and selling zombie tales before they were cool again I know how hard it can be. I think the most important things are just to write a lot, develop a body of work, and keep sending it out to publishers. If you really want to make it, you can.

NT: Are zombies real?

Eric: That depends on what you mean by that statement. I think Romero type zombies certainly could be someday with the way science continues to advance but if you’re talking Haitian type creatures then certainly just as seen in The Serpent and the Rainbow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Finding Peace

Finding Peace
By Jon Catron

Carl stood in the cooling midnight air of the woods by the lake. It was always so peaceful here, so serene, so free of the constant struggle back in the City. Somewhere in the distance, some nocturnal creature that Carl, city boy that he was, couldn’t identify called out to its mate or family or whatever. Honestly, Carl was ignorant about such things, but wasn’t about to let his ignorance of such small details spoil his brief getaway. He took a few lazy steps down the path toward the lake, letting the dense summer foliage brush against him. It was nothing like the forcible press of bodies that is ever-present in the city. Sometimes, Carl regretted his decision to stay in the city. He could have come out here into the “wilderness” but he was a city boy, and didn’t think he could go for very long apart from his beloved hustle and bustle.

If Carl were being completely honest with himself, there was a slight thrill to coming out to the lake. There were persistent stories and rumors about throwback quasi-religious cults performing monstrous and unspeakable acts on the occasional straggler out in the hills north of the lake. But even with his own small thrill at the potential for danger and wildness, Carl would be one of the first to discredit such silliness. The whole idea was preposterous. Those sorts of things didn’t happen anymore, too much had changed in the world. He would laugh at the very notion, if he could somehow find mirth after everything that had happened.

The Crisis, as everyone liked to call it, had changed so much in so many unexpected ways. But they had survived, and began to thrive, to truly live again. It changed Carl. He never smiled anymore. He never laughed. Not after what happened. But he still liked to come out to the lake and relax, and try to forget.

Memories from that time were still hazy, as if it had all been one horrible, arduous nightmare. Carl could remember very little after that horrid afternoon aside from the smoke and fire and the press of bodies, pain and relief as he realized he was alive and had, miraculously, survived. But from time to time, something, or someone, would remind Carl of that look on Bob’s face as they separated and a tear would roll from Carl’s remaining good eye.

Sometimes Carl had to wonder if any of the other survivors felt like he did. He had to wonder if any of them felt the loss as keenly as he did. Oh sure, some had lost much more, both in physical capabilities and emotional damage. But Carl had to wonder occasionally if they felt how deep the Change really went.

Occasionally, on a still night, he would sit in his dingy little apartment (It wasn’t really his apartment; the duplex he’d lived in had been burned down along with over half of the city.) and stare down at the bodies still decaying in the street. He would wonder why he wasn’t among them. What made him so special that he got to live? Why were any of them still around? Most of the time, Carl was just like the others; barely alive, barely mobile automatons, hardly at all distinct from the corpses still laying in the street, washing away little by little with each new downpour.

Carl slowly made his way from the cabin toward the lakeshore, lost in these inner reflections. He was not usually given to deep contemplations, but they came to him unbidden more and more lately. Perhaps that is how they got so close, so very close without him noticing.

The sound of a foot rustling through the underbrush finally gave them away. Carl’s eye snapped open wide and he turned his head as the wind change and gave him a whiff of their overpowering stench.

He turned and tried to run, but he couldn’t keep his footing in the brush choked slopes leading toward the lake. So instead he took several swings at his attackers, even as he stumbled, but his lack of footing sent his strikes wild. And then he saw Bob.

He wanted to deny it, he wanted to not believe it, but it was Bob’s face, Bob’s eyes hard and cold, staring back at him, intent on his destruction. That more than anything dropped Carl’s world out from under him. He turned again to try to run, but they were on him before he could take more than a single step. They jumped on him from behind, pinning him to the ground, tearing at his limbs, screaming at each other like wild animals. Despite having his head held down in a pile of wet and moldy leaves and fescue, Carl screamed as they tore first his legs, and then arms, loose from his body. Despite the pain, the shock, the soul crushing betrayal, Carl continued struggling, even as he saw Bob kneel next to him, machete in hand…


“Easy, easy there…” Bob said, trying to calm his team. “One mostly intact zombie head, just like the doctor ordered.”

Bob held Carl’s decaying head aloft just a bit, examining it with a concerned eye.

“You think he’ll really get us a cure, Bob?”

“Vaccine, Ted, not a cure…” Bob chided with irritation obvious in his voice.

“There ain’t no cure for this…” He said, motioning to Carl’s body simply. “but this.” He finished, raising the severed head level to Ted’s eyes.

“Now bag up the other parts and clean up this mess. Can’t take the chance that the wildlife gets inta this. An’ don’t get none in your mouths.”

Bob stood up and considered the decaying visage of his once best friend. “Goddamnit Carl…” He sighed and carefully placed his gruesome prize in a thick, ice filled polyethylene bag, and held it tenderly in his arms. “Well I guess ya might just save me after all… ya cocksure sombitch.” Bob sniffled slightly, but wisely resisted the temptation to wipe the tear from his eye.

Bob stood on the path down to the lake by Carl’s old fishing cabin, soaking up the cool night air. Before, it had always been so peaceful here, so serene, so free of the struggle and grind back in the City. But now, it was a battleground. Now, it was the front line of humanity’s constant struggle for survival in a world gone mad.

But soon, soon, Bob consoled his conscience, it would be Carl’s final resting place.

“Soon you’ll have Peace, old buddy…”

The Curious Life of James Taylor

The Curious Life of James Taylor
by Christopher Allan Death

A dark figure splashed through knee-high water and stumbled over large jagged rocks, fleeing further and further into the perilous mountain terrain. He tripped several times, falling face first into the subzero mountain river. Each time he stood up cursing and shivering just to fall once more. But he pressed forward. Not even hell itself could stop his fanatical excursion into the untamed Colorado wilderness.

Two cold silver eyes glared through the darkness ahead, and the man stopped quickly. For a moment he was worried that he had unwittingly stumbled upon a hungry brown bear searching for food, but then he realized it was only a jackrabbit. The wild hare sensed his presence and quickly disappeared into the thorny undergrowth.

The man watched his furry little friend recede into the darkness and quietly reflected upon his own position. Like the jackrabbit, he too was running for his life. Except this time the predator was not a normal human being. No. The thing that pursued him was something else entirely: something born from the very depth of Hades.

Clambering out of the icy cold water, the man knelt behind a thick pine tree and let the silence descend. Almost immediately he could hear splashes echo across the river behind him. An unnatural odor intermingled with the scent of fresh pine trees and newborn sapling, slithering through the deep nightfall and violating his nostrils. He knew the odor before it ever reached his olfactory lobe.

It was the scent of charred flesh.

The man released a terrified breath and scurried further into the forest. He could feel serrated undergrowth and fallen branches bite into his bare legs as he tore through the darkness, thundering past ancient oak trees and colliding into fallen logs. Every breath he took felt like scissors cutting erratic patterns across his lungs, leaving him breathless and sore. But he knew that he couldn't turn around. If he stopped, that thing would catch up to him.

He couldn't let that happen.

Suddenly the bushes behind him crackled. The man stopped dead in his tracks and became still as a deer caught in the headlights. He could hear something approaching through the trees, moving deftly through the tall foliage. He knew that the creature was close because he could smell the sickening odor and hear the twigs snap underfoot.
He turned around and saw a huge oddly shaped figure loping through the twilight. It might have been a giant orangutan, if not for the abnormally large head and thick human-like legs.

The man released a silent scream and dove into the bushes. He had been running from that thing for almost his entire life. Only now the creature had become more ferocious and bloodthirsty than ever before. That was what finally drove him into the harsh Rocky Mountain wilderness.

Ever since he was a baby, his parents knew that James Taylor was a very special child. But it wasn't until his fifteenth birthday that they realized exactly how special.
Unlike most American children born every 0.5 seconds, James developed a rare mental disease called Psychotic Schizophrenia. Since there was no known cure for his condition, his parents raised him just like any other red-blooded American boy. They brought him to the park and enrolled him in various daycare centers to encourage social interaction.
Unfortunately James never really found his niche in high school. Due to his quiet nature and erratic schizophrenia attacks, he never made many friends. The friends he did make soon abandoned him after they discovered his psychological stigma.

When James left for Boston to pursue his interest in culinary arts, his parents stood behind him one hundred percent. They thought that his time away from home would open up new horizons for the young bachelor, but they had no idea what lay ahead.
At first James loved his culinary school. He made several friends who shared his affinity for cooking, and even found himself a steady girlfriend. Except that was before his first major psychological breakdown. And that was before the monster climbed into his mind.
The scent of burning and putrefied flesh was stronger now. James could almost taste the vile stench on his tongue and feel it slither down his throat. It made him sick. He felt warm stomach bile lurch into his mouth.

Streams of silvery moonlight filtered down from the dark canopy and fell across the hideous monster. He could see every disturbing feature clearly beneath the huge waxing moon. The creature was like a disease, infecting every cell and nerve ending inside James' body.

"Just leave me alone!" he shouted.

The creature seemed to crack an awful grin and lumbered forward once more. Its stiff, knotted toes crushed branches and insects alike beneath its monstrous weight.
James unleashed a breathless shriek and skittered into the thick foliage. He tried to tell himself that the creature was just a figment of his imagination, but something inside him refused to submit.

No matter what happens, just keep running.

Rocks and twigs snapped underfoot as he thundered through the labyrinth of trees. Every once in awhile he would slop to catch his breath and position himself among the rugged Colorado wilderness. He hoped that the creature would become lost among the countless oaks and dark ravines, but it always remained just a few steps behind him.
Suddenly James noticed a light up ahead. He scrambled toward the light with catlike dexterity and only stopped when he was too tired to go further. He could see a hunting lodge through the thick foliage, perched atop a small grassy knoll. Hunters had probably constructed the little cottage for shelter during the cold winter months.

James felt a thrill of excitement course through his veins. If there was electricity in the little lodge, that meant there might be people too. And people could help defend him from the creature!

James still remembered the first time he came face-to-face with his nightmare. The date was January 6, shortly after Christmas break. James came home from College to spend the holidays with his family when disaster struck. Someone snuck into the house during the night and killed his beloved parents. The emotional trauma that followed sent James into a complete psychological breakdown.

Shortly after he returned to college, the nightmares began. James woke up in a cold sweat almost every night with visions of some horrible monster burned into his brain. Even in his dreams he could smell the odor of decay and feel its putrefied presence. It was almost like his subconscious mind was caught in a horrible schizophrenic attack, replaying the nightmare over and over every night.

About three days later the beast emerged from his dreams. He saw it when he went for a walk around the lake. He saw it when he drove to the supermarket, and he saw it standing in the shadows when he went to sleep each night. He saw it everywhere. That was why he decided to run away.

The bushes behind James shuttered. Before he could react, a giant arm reached through the darkness and slammed into his chest. He grunted and felt himself vault into the air. When he landed, sharp barbs pricked into his delicate white flesh. But that was the least of his problems.

James leapt to his feet just as the creature lumbered into view. A deep, throaty cackle followed him into the darkness. But he kept running. He ran until his lungs burned like fire and then he ran further. He kept running until the little hunting lodge burst into view and he could feel the door beneath his slick, sweaty palms.

"Is anyone there?" he gasped, slamming his fists repeatedly on the door post. "Please let me in! Can anyone hear me?"

James turned around and peered into the murky foliage. The forest had become completely quiet. He could no longer hear the chirping of crickets or smell the putrid burning odor. So he knew something was wrong.

"Can anybody hear me?"

The silence remained undisturbed.

James swallowed hard and tried the doorknob. The door swung back easily, revealing a warm interior with several modern appliances. He mentally noted the simmering coffeepot and conventional oven, preheated to a balmy 500 degrees. That meant he was not alone in the rugged Colorado wilderness.

James heard the door open behind him. He turned around, hoping to find several robust hunters wearing camouflage slickers inside the door. Instead he found a massive dark figure blocking the exit. He screamed and stumbled against the far wall.
"What, what do you want from me?"

The creature grinned and maneuvered its enormous bulk through the small doorway. Bits of forest debris and dust scattered across the wooden floor, following the creature into the cabin.

"Please, stay away from me!" James choked, fighting back fear that bubbled up from the pit of his stomach. He could see the creature more clearly now, beneath the bright industrial neon lights. It had grown even more hideous than he remembered.

"Why are you following me? Why?"

The creature twisted its red frosting lips into a fractured smile. Its black chocolate eyes glimmered beneath a mop of greasy licorice hair.

"Revenge!" it muttered in broken English.

James felt his entire body twitch with fear. His face turned deathly white. Some sort of malicious intelligence reflected in its cold ebony eyes. Right away he knew that he wouldn't survive this encounter.

"Why did you kill your parents, James?"

"I didn't kill my parents! They were killed when a burglar broke into their house at night!"

"You did kill your parents, James. And you baked their bodies into gingerbread cookies so they wouldn't be found."

"That's a lie! I would never kill my parents."

The giant gingerbread monster took one menacing step forward. Crumbs flaked off its knotted toes and scattered across the floor. A flicker of anger crossed the creature's face.

"Don't deny your guilt, James Taylor. I was there that night when you snuck into their house and gutted them mercilessly. I was there when you ground their bones into dust and baked their remains into gingerbread cookies! Don't deny your guilt anymore."

James slumped helplessly to the floor. He was crying freely. Big salty tears spilled down his cheeks and landed softly on his trembling hands. He knew that the gingerbread man was telling the truth. He could remember what happened that night on Christmas Day when his parents lay asleep in their beds. Everything returned to him in a flood of guilt.

"Who are you?" he sniffled.

"I am your conscience, James. I was watching that night when they told you to withdraw from the culinary school because they were worried about your mental health. When you refused, they said they would stop paying your tuition. Then you killed them. You killed them in cold blood." The gingerbread man flexed his stubby fingers. "Now I'm going to kill you."

James fell to his knees and begged for mercy. He promised that he would return to the city and take responsibility for his crime. But it was too late. The gingerbread man closed his fingers around James' throat and hoisted him into the air.


A few days later the little cabin door opened once again. Except this time three burly hunters stepped into the cozy interior. They set their rifles by the door and started peeling off their camouflage slickers.

The first man stopped just inside the door, twitching his thick handlebar mustache.
"Dammit Mitch, you forgot to shut down the generator! Now thanks to your damn carelessness, we're low on power."

"Sorry John," the man called Mitch replied meekly. "With all the excitement I just forgot."

"What's that smell?" the third man ventured.

"Seems like something's cooking," Mitch replied.

John whiffed the air.

"Smells more like burning to me."

"That's odd."

John patted across the hardwood floor. The oven was turned up to BOIL, and he could see something large smashed inside. The other hunters stood back cautiously. He pulled back the oven door and a massive cloud of rancid black smoke billowed into the room.

"What in God's name?"

John choked back smoke and stumbled away from the oven. Inside lay a charred body, bony fingers stretched feebly toward the hunters. Every hair on his body had been scorched off, and the place where his eyes should have been were hollow black sockets. His skin was brown and leathery.

"And what's this all over the floor?" Mitch whined.

John turned around and saw the trail of crumbs leading to the oven. It looked like little pieces of gingerbread cookie.