Sunday, May 31, 2009

Something in Common

by Joshua Scribner

“Did you ever go to Magic Springs Amusement Park?” asked Cho.

“Yes. I’ve been there a few times,” replied Walt.

“You know that ride, Dr. Dean’s Rocket Launcher?”

“That’s the one that lifts people straight up and then drops them.”

“That’s the one. You ever see the people at the start, when it suddenly jerks them up?”


Cho, who was a stranger to him a few hours ago, and now was the only person he had seen in a week, gulped and said, “That’s what the people looked like when the tentacles fell from the clouds and whipped them up.”

Walt got both pictures in his head. That was what the people looked like, except the horrors were different. On the ride, they had expected it.

Cho had said little after joining him, but now seemed to be warming up. She said, “I’ve had them right by me, a few different times. I’ve seen them bust through the roofs of cars to take people, but they don’t take me.”

They were zigzagging through overturned and wrecked cars on the road. The damage the tentacles could do was apparent.

“They took everyone else,” said Cho. “Why don’t they take us?”

There was a croak in her voice. Walt was long single. Communication wasn’t his forte, and now this woman was in crises and wanted to talk. All he could think to do was be empirical.

“What are the similarities between us?” he asked.


“How are you and I alike?”

She took nearly a minute to answer, but he was glad to hear she was no longer on the verge of crying. “You’re a middle aged white man. I’m a young Asian woman. You’re big, and I’m small. We’re not really alike at all.”

“True, and in the ways we are alike, being human, speaking English, we were also like all the people who got taken.”

They came to a steep slope in the road. Near the end of the slope, Cho said, “This reminds me of The Peak Trail. I’d just come off it when the tentacles came.”

Walt laughed, though it was hard with his lack of air. “I wish I would have hiked more; then I’d be in better shape for all this walking.”

Cho didn’t laugh. She seemed deep in thought. They were making their way around an overturned tour bus when she said, “What were you doing when they first came?”

“Mowing my lawn.”

She seemed deep in thought for a few seconds and then said, “You were mowing, and I was hiking, both outdoor activities”

Now Walt thought for a few seconds and then said, “But we couldn’t have been the only ones. There must have been hundreds doing both activities on a summer day.”

She sighed and then said, “Yeah. I guess.”

Just then, he felt a sting and slapped it. He withdrew his hand from the little mess of blood and insect parts.

Cho got into her backpack. She pulled out a little blue cylinder. “Here,” she said. “I got this repellant off the internet. It works wonders.”

Walt went to spray it on his exposed skin. It wouldn’t spray. “It’s out,” he said.

“Oh yeah. I don’t know why I didn’t toss it. I finished it last night.”

The tentacles were transparent and you could only see them briefly when the sunlight hit them just right. Right now, Walt could see the suction cups behind Cho.

The thought that came seemed to have arrived to mock him. He looked at the can he was holding. He laughed with exasperation and said, “I got this off the internet, too. Good stuff. I bet we were about the only ones to have this particular brand on that day.” He laughed again. “I ran out last night too.”

Cho stared at him with an inquisitive look for a few seconds. Then there was the stunned horror when she was lifted into the sky.

“Yours must have worn off too,” he said to the girl who was gone.

He wondered what his face would look like when he was going up. After all, he was expecting it.


Joshua Scribner is the author of the novels Mantis Nights, The Coma Lights and Nescata. He's published over 100 stories. Up to date information on his work can be found at Joshua currently lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I am the Light of the World

by Rich Sampson

The eclipse got stuck, and the world turned black.

Buildings stood forgotten, plants died and people scrabbled about in the dirt. They fed on beetles, cockroaches and grubs—anything that could survive. Life was bleak, and the light stayed away.

In amongst the rubble one man found he had the light. Whether by drugs or by accident was unknown to him, but he looked at his glowing fingers and knew he was special.

His family discovered his secret and made him hide. They knew the hunger of others.

But he would not listen. He had a gift. Where there was blindness he could give sight.

A year passed before he decided it was time. He stood atop a broken pile of machinery and called out into the endless night.

"I am the light of the world." He spread his arms wide, lighting the world.

The yellow light spread like wild fire across the tops of abandoned buildings and long forgotten houses. Alleyways and deserted streets burst into brightness. Every corner, every crack was touched by the glow.

People had begun to gather and now they saw their world in all its glory; half naked bodies huddled together, some covered in feces, most covered in dirt. The dead lined the streets, stinking and rotten where they had fallen. A group of men raped a young girl as she stared blankly at the concrete. Underfoot, still born babies and cockroaches were trampled together their innards blending with the dull grey of pavements.

The people saw themselves for what they really were and they could not handle it.

They tore him down. Extinguished the light.

And so began the end of everything.


Rich Sampson lives in Hampshire, England with his wife and new baby boy. He has previously been published in Space and Time Magazine and can be found on the net at

Sunday, May 17, 2009


by Jameson T. Caine

Looking my opponent directly in the eye, I slowly took another Barbados Nut seed from the bowl and, after the slightest pause for dramatic effect, placed it in my mouth. The crowd gathered in the old warehouse roared its approval. In my peripheral vision I saw wads of money exchanging hands.

“Wait!” roared Thorne. “He has to swallow!”

The referee—I have no idea what his name was—waved his hands, quieting the throng of onlookers, then looked at me and nodded.

I regarded Thorne from across the table and smirked as I bit down and began chewing. Seconds later I opened my mouth to prove that it was empty.

“Seven for DeSoto!” the referee announced. “They’re tied now, seven apiece.”

More money was exchanged in the stands. Thorne stared at me with smoldering eyes, his anger and hatred obvious. Few had ever dared go beyond five seeds before, and Thorne was accustomed to winning every match.

We both sat back to wait the five minutes until the next round. I could see Thorne fuming. I had matched him seed for seed at each round and now, just past the half hour mark, we were well into the time frame when their poison would begin to take effect. In fact, I already felt a sharp pain in my gut and fought the instinct to vomit.

I knew Thorne experienced the same. Soon enough the nausea would get worse. Then the flatulence, diarrhea, muscle cramps and dizziness would kick in. After that, a lingering death if neither of us chose to vomit. The longer one waited, the better the chance of dying. Hell, wait long enough and even puking your guts up was no guarantee of survival. That’s why a stomach pump was kept on standby.

Of course, the longer one waited, the more money there was to win. The rules stated that whoever threw up first was the loser. The other would get a cut of the House’s winnings, and with each seed eaten and the frenzied betting that ensued, that cut got bigger and bigger.

I needed this money, so there was no way I was going to call it quits. I’m sure Thorne was determined to hang in there out of pure spite.

Five minutes elapsed and the spectators hushed as the referee pointed at Thorne. A coin toss had determined that he’d go first in each round. Without hesitation, he grabbed a large seed from the bowl between us, then popped it in his mouth and dry swallowed it whole. The crowed went insane when he revealed his empty mouth.

“Eight for Thorne, Seven for DeSoto!” yelled the referee.

“Beat that, you bastard,” Thorne sneered at me. I could see from the pallor of his skin that the poison was working its mojo on him. I doubt I looked any better.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling like utter crap, but like I said, I needed this money. I took another seed and ate it, albeit a bit slower than the last one. Waves of nausea washed over me.

A foul smell suddenly cut through the air. I gazed at Thorne. He looked bad. His complexion was as pale as a ghost. He was grasping the table with both hands, no doubt feeling the affects of vertigo. The smell was originating from him, or more to the point, his pants. What had probably started out as just a fart had evidently become something much worse. The SOB had actually soiled himself.

“Need some tissue?” I mocked.

“Up yours,” he said. Well, he tried to say it. The last word elongated into a cough and then became a full blown retch when he proceeded to blast the contents of his stomach all over the table.

“DeSoto wins!” the referee exclaimed. The crowed erupted in a fanfare of shouting and swearing. Money moved between owners again.

I was too busy motioning to the guy holding the stomach pump to notice any of it. As he approached, I was dimly aware that I had won. I smiled. Yes, I needed this money.

Baby needs a new pair of shoes, after all.


Jameson T. Caine has at one time or another worked as a carpenter, meat cutter, shipping clerk, forklift operator, assembly line worker, long haul truck driver and ordained minister. Currently he drives a tanker truck by day and calls himself a writer by night, the latter fueled by a steady diet of soda and cheese puffs. He has stories appearing in the forthcoming Devil's Food anthology and issue number five of Sand. He lives in Northern California with his wife and two dogs. Visit him online at

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Love

by L.R. Bonehill

Ben couldn’t cope. That’s why he left, his stale breath smelling of whiskey and fear. He packed a bag on the night his four year old son came home to die and left. A single fucking bag. Shirt cuffs poked out of the zipper like hands rising from a grave.

He looked almost like a stranger to her, this man she had loved for more years than she cared to remember. An unwanted visitor standing in the hallway. “I’m sorry,” he said and stepped out into a flurry of snow. It quickly dusted his head and shoulders as if trying to obscure him and pull him out into the night.

Rachel watched him go and found that she couldn’t cry. Didn’t want to cry, she realised. A part of her didn’t blame him. A small, ugly part of her.

Mothers have no choice, she thought, we have to be strong, no matter how painful and cruel life could be.

Warm lights burned brightly in the other houses along the street. Inside, other lives and worlds turned peacefully.

The cold wind bit hard as she watched the snow smooth over Ben’s footprints before shutting the door. It was just the two of them now.

She had the first dream that night.

A dark, midnight corridor with a dirt floor, weeds creeping out of cracks in the dry earth. An acrid chemical smell hung thick and cloying in the air. Wraith-like children sat in bone-chairs, holding blood filled drips. They stared at her with empty eye sockets, flesh sunken and sallow, mouths glistening with viscous fluid. Hickman lines grew like infected parasites from their chests. Painfully thin arms reached out for her as she edged past, their joints popping and cracking. Clutching fingers grabbed at her.

Sleek rats crawled and writhed at their feet, gnawing at broken skin and exposed tissue. “Mrs Macmillan, the Doctor will see you now,” the children cried in unison. They pointed to the door at the end of the corridor as dust fell from their ragged hospital gowns. A battered and splintered door, uneven letters carved into the pitted surface. ‘Chemo-Man,’ they read.

Each night Rachel walked the same corridor and watched as one by one the children slowly turned to filth and mulch. Each night she got closer and closer to the door, until eventually she heard whispered promises from within.


She pulled on the restraints as tightly as she could and Jake cried out again, struggling weakly as the rope dug into his wrists and ankles. The skin there was raw and mottled.

“Hush now,” she said and stroked his forehead. Wisps of hair lay like smoke across his balding scalp. A few strands came away in her hand and she cried.

He didn’t look like a child, not anymore. The leukaemia had slowly leeched that away from him. He looked frail and alone and scared as he lay tied down on the narrow, sweat soaked bed.

It didn’t look much like a child’s room either, not a used one at least. Toys were packed neatly away in brightly coloured storage boxes, stacked one atop the other along the edges of the room. Action figures stood in calm, regimented order on high shelves. Cartoon characters grinned inanely down from posters on the walls. It was almost obscene, she thought, a mockery of childhood.

She sang a soft, lilting lullaby and tried to calm his fevered panic. She had seen fear in his eyes all too often and would ease it as best she could. He bucked and thrashed in feeble protest.

The room was cold and grew colder still as a shadow juddered in the swirling snow at the window. Bone fingers rapped an ancient tattoo against the glass. Eyes sparked with feral need.

“He’s here,” she said. Chemo-Man, with his promise of a blood cure that would last a dark eternity.

“Don’t worry, my love,” she whispered in Jake’s ear. “You’ll be all better soon. Mommy knows best.”


L R Bonehill never meant to hurt anyone all those years ago; he just wanted to play, that’s all. Drop by the boneyard at

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Nice Bunch

by Scott Wilson

Sally put out the sign advertising fresh flowers by the side of the road, then went back to her two daughters sitting under the beach umbrella. She liked Mother’s Day. Spending the time with her precious girls, selling fresh flowers, and making about a month’s worth of income in a single day.

A Range Rover pulled off the road not long after she sat back down in the cool shade. A woman in an expensive, beige Armani suit in her thirties hopped out and walked over to look at the buckets of flowers surrounding Sally and her girls.

“Perfect,” the woman said, picking up a bouquet of bright yellow carnations. “Mum always loved these.”

“That’s the only bunch I have too, you are lucky,” Sally said.

“Thanks, my three brothers had better hope they can find some on their way to visit mum then,” the woman said and drove down the road to the cemetery.

“Okay girls,” Sally said to her darling angels. “See if you can find me some more yellow carnations will you?”

The girls jumped on their bikes and sped off to the cemetery, eager to look around the gravestones for bunches of flowers to bring back to their mother to sell, again.


Scott Wilson began dabbling in writing after discovering the joys of sci-fi and fantasy at high school. In 2008, he joined the Australian Horror Writers Association as a full financial member. Currently, Scott is an active member of the University of Texas Flash Fiction Writer, Zoetrope Virtual Studio and FlashXER Writer Groups.

In 2009 Scott qualified to become a member of The Fictioneers writing group.

His writing blog is listed on the Australian Horror & Dark Fiction webring, of which he is a member.

Scott has had 58 sci-fi, fantasy, horror and crime short stories published in a variety of print magazines and electronic ezines.