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