Sunday, July 26, 2009

Late in July it Meanders Through the City

by Kevin Shamel

The street was a sticky trap laid down between buildings—oil-smelling dinosaur tar speckled with pebbles to keep it from running off the edge of the city. It crept along flypapery and sinister, slow and hot.

The asphalt grabbed at him as he crossed, bubbling under his feet, burning his soles. Cars sang by in low tones, too fast for the street’s grip.

He stopped to light a smoke beyond the cool shadow of a building, straight in the sun’s conspicuous face. Two steps back and he’d have been safe, but he alit too far from the solidity of shade.

The street splashed up and took him in the time it took to strike a flame. A mean wave of asphalt snatched him around the waist and pulled—a huge black frog tongue—and he a fly.

It took seconds for the street to eat him. He told himself, I knew this was going to happen. He remembered scenes from several movies—or maybe parts of his life. He revisited his last seven loves. He recalled definitions of words like oblivion, xanthocroi, and quagmire, an address of someone long-lost among the streets of his life, and most of the lyrics to “Big Balls” by ACDC.

His hands were the last to disappear under the tacky surface. They flopped and twitched at the sticky hide of their captor. Soon they too were swallowed.

Bubbles on the surface of the street smoothed themselves back to blackness.


Waves of heat fumed from the street as she crossed. The asphalt sucked at her feet—curling around her shoes and slowing her to a confused trudge. Metallic colors of a dark rainbow swirled before her.

The street tugged at her ankles. It bit at her calves, her knees and higher—reaching for the silent scream driven from her lips.


Kevin Shamel lives in an old haunted house in the Pacific Northwest with his family. You can find links to more of his writing at Look for his first novel coming soon from the New Bizarro Author Series from Eraserhead Press.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Let Your Fingers Do the Walking

Rick McQuiston

Chad thumbed through the phone book until he reached C. Carpet cleaning was his destination due to the dog watering his front room.

Clean-n-Fresh, Suds-o-Us, Jerry’s Kill the Spill Inc., Distain the Stain Services... Chad’s eyes roamed over the prospective companies, noting how colorful the ads were. Each offered its name and phone number as well as a short sales pitch or catchy slogan.

Within a few minutes, Chad reached the end of the advertisements for carpet cleaners, and made several notes on the best looking ones. Page 142 had a few that were good, as did page 149.

As he began to think about which ones to call first something caught his eye.

Bee’s Carnivore Services. Bloody Meat Eaters Corp., Bone Crunching and Gristle Packaging. Chad quickly scrutinized two of the nastier ones.

The first, from a company called Blood under Bone, featured an oversize man running for his life from a psychotic looking-character wielding two enormous sabers. The would-be killer was covered in blood and was grinning from ear to ear.

The second ad displayed a man’s bloody torso, complete with dangling entrails, with knives and forks protruding from it. The slogan ‘Yum, yum. Eatum up!’ was written across the top.

Feeling his stomach starting to churn, Chad instinctively reached for a cigarette. He suppressed his guilt over lighting up as the cool, pungent smoke drifted upwards.

“Hey Liz? Would you come here for a minute?”

Elizabeth, his slightly neurotic wife of nine years, sauntered into the room. Her eyes reflected the boredom of her day.

“What’s the matter?”

“Look here,” Chad said. He pointed to the Yellow Pages.

Elizabeth sluggishly glanced down at page 140. Her eyes widened.

“Are those the only ads like that?” Elizabeth questioned with a hint of suspicion in her voice.

“I don’t know. I didn’t really check,” Chad replied while thumbing through the book. He flipped ahead to M.


There, on page 352, staring up at the astonished couple, were close to a dozen ads for monsters, listed in alphabetical order from apparitions to zombies.

Bloody Services, Sterling Creatures Inc., Fangs-n-Thangs.

Thinking of another heading Chad quickly flipped back to D.

Delivery services…demolition…demons!

Any size demon. Specializing in demon princes and lords. Long fanged, short fanged…

S. Sea monsters. All makes and models. Sale on kraken. Discount coupons available for man-eaters over twenty-five feet.

W. Witches. Bag a Hag, Curses Inc., Broomsticks and Candlewicks.

V. Vampires. Drain City Central. You’ve got the blood, we’ve got the teeth.

Elizabeth’s face lost all its color. “Is this some sort of joke?” she asked through a frown.

“Where did this book come from?” Chad blurted out.

Elizabeth shrugged. “I don’t know. It was just on the porch one day. Isn’t that how they deliver phone books?”

Feeling a knot forming in his stomach Chad remarked, “Is it just me or is it getting warm in here?”

Elizabeth didn’t reply, but her expression confirmed what Chad was thinking.

It was getting warmer…much warmer.

The heavy knock on the front door sliced into the silence. Chad looked over at his wife and both of them looked over to the door.

It was beginning to crack around the edges. Thin plumes of black smoke were leaking in around it and the carpet near it was starting to become singed. Chad finally worked up the nerve to walk over to the door, and just as he was about to reach for the knob, a putrid stench seeped into the house, one that was an overpowering aroma of burnt meat and decayed flesh.

The knocking increased dramatically. Chad had no choice but to use his shirt to grasp the doorknob and open the door. With one swift motion they were greeted with a nightmare right out of a horror movie.

The eight-foot-tall creature on the front porch loomed over them. It had a grotesque goat’s head and stood on huge cloven hooves. In one of its clawed hands it held a bloodstained pitchfork and in the other a smoldering book.

“Pardon me puny mortal,” it boomed in a voice that shook the house. “But I believe there has been a mistake.”
Rick McQuiston is a forty-one year old father of two who loves anything horror related. He has had nearly 200 publications so far and edits the ezine, Many Midnights. Rick has published four collections of short stories, Many Midnights, Chills by Candlelight, Beneath the Moonlight, and As Mean as the Night. They are available on Lulu and Amazon.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Black Egg



There had once been a tower on the far side of the bay. The tower was the reason that, on this side, there was now a city: a long time ago a furious storm had smashed the tower down, leaving only the rough ring of white stones that had once been its base. Men had come some time after and taken the loose, lightning-blackened rubble and built the city with them.

The water of the bay was as glossy as treacle. Marchioly rowed Ilisabeth towards the far side, keeping close to the eastern bank where a burst of swampy green growth tipped down to touch the water. Under the overhangs the air was hot and heavy. The afternoon sun on the clear water had been a bright glare.

It was shallow here under the eaves. Ilisabeth could see the bed of the bay below where gnarled shapes gathered bright jade-coloured detritus. Further out the ground fell away sharply and the water showed only rippling reflections of the sky on its flat green face.

Crossing the water was the only way to get to the ruined tower from the city. The crescent shore and much of the inland was complicatedly dense, thorny with trees and underbrush. All the paths and roads that once led from the city to the tower had been overrun.

“I see the stones!” Ilisabeth exclaimed.

Marchioly turned the boat out of the shade.

“There,” he said to her. “You can see them from here.”

The low stones were just to be seen on the treeless crest of a rise in the land. They looked like a row of broken teeth.

Marchioly eased the boat towards a tight shoreline of soft sand and the white stones disappeared from view.


Marchioly pulled the boat up onto the beach while Ilisabeth ran about gathering deadwood, her wet feet and calves getting sticky with sand. On this side of the bay the water made no waves. Marchioly pointed to the sand and Ilisabeth put the blanched branches down in a small pyre for later. Marchioly took the blanket from the boat and put it next to the pile of firewood and Ilisabeth lifted out the basket.

“It’s hard going,” Marchioly told her.

“I want to see,” she said. She leant against the boat and brushed the sand from her feet and legs, slipping her sandals back on.


The second time they stopped they had cleared the trees and could see the bay again. The sun was close to setting. The city was hazy. Marchioly looked across the water. Ilisabeth looked along their way ahead.

“Do you think the tower really is cursed?”

He shook his head.

“It must have been huge,” she said.


She stood up.

“Are you coming?” Ilisabeth took a few steps further along the grassy hillside, the basket swinging in the crook of her arm.

“I want to watch the sun go down behind the city,” he said.

“But then we won’t see very much!”

He shrugged. “You go on if you want,” he said.


When she came back down he had his head in his hands. He looked up, hearing her.

“Was it worth the look?”

Ilisabeth shrugged. “Just some old stones. That’s all. Old stones and blackbirds.”

He nodded. “It’s getting dark quickly. Let’s go back down.”


She laid out the blanket and the food as he lit the fire. They ate and then lay together. The night took away the city and the stones above. The firelight encircled a small world of sand. Marchioly walked up to the ruins as Iliabeth slept. He checked the small alcove on the north wall. The black egg was still there. Another of the golden eggs had gone. He walked back down the hill.

He stood with his bare feet in the still water for a little while and then, very quietly, pushed the boat back out onto the glassy, black bay, scuppering it some way out with a swift blow from one of the oars. It sank, joining other wrecked boats from other times.

When the water was at his knees he took to the air. Below and behind he heard her thin and outraged voice as the stolen egg began to hatch.

He flew ever higher, up into the dark and free sky of the cool night.


S.J.Hirons ( was born in Greenwich, England in 1973. Educated at Rugby and Cambridge, he currently resides in Leamington Spa where he works with young Asylum Seekers. He has studied creative writing at the National Academy of Writing and Birmingham City University. More of his short fiction can be found in Subtle Edens: An Anthology of Slipstream Fiction from Elastic Press , Farrago’s Wainscot, SFX magazine’s Pulp Idol 2006 and at Further pieces will appear this year in The Willows, A Fly in Amber , and in The Absent Willow Review .

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Clothes Make the Man

by Iseult Murphy

Tracy sat at the bar, surveying the crowd. She was looking for someone classy, but all she saw were the usual losers.

She sipped her drink. A man on the other side of the dance floor caught her eye. He was easily the best-dressed person in the club. There were no labels plastered over his clothes, but Tracy could tell they were expensive.

He oozed style as he prowled the edge of the dance floor, keeping to the shadows. Tracy couldn’t keep her eyes off him. He looked fit. Athletic. He must be rich too, to afford such clothes. She wondered what his face looked like. She bet he was handsome. He was too far away to tell.

She tried to attract his attention. He wasn’t looking in her direction so her come hither eyes were wasted.

She put her drink down and teetered to the dance floor. A few shimmies and she had every man in the room watching her. She looked around for her mark. He was leaning against the railing near the courtyard door. He pointed at her. She smiled and invited him to join her. He shook his head, but beckoned and then slipped outside.

She didn’t want to seem too eager. She danced with a couple of men, teasing them. When the time was right, she sneaked away.

He was waiting for her in the shadow of the entrance. He pushed her against the wall as soon as she stepped through the door. She giggled, aroused by the feel of his body pressed against her. He caressed her bare arms. She was surprised to feel gloves. She ran her hands up his chest and reached upwards. He had a scarf wrapped around his mouth.

“Let’s see what you look like under that hat,” Tracy said.

She pulled it off his head. There was nothing underneath. She ripped the scarf from around his neck. The suit was hollow. There was no one inside.

The gloves climbed to Tracy’s neck. They wrapped around it and squeezed.

Tracy gripped the armless sleeves and tried to break free, but whatever will was animating the clothes was too strong for her.

A mouth formed with the collar of the shirt.

“I like your dress,” it said.


Iseult Murphy writes horror, fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in Alienskin Magazine , Necrotic Tissue , The Drabbler and From The Mouth, a flash anthology .
She is an associate member of the Horror Writers Association . She is based in Ireland. Iseult is also a keen actor and qualified speech and drama teacher. She has appeared in numerous stage productions as well as featuring in television programmes, film and commercials. In her spare time she enjoys painting. To learn more about her writing journey, follow her blog at The Inkpot Files .