Wednesday 29 December 2010


Buffalo Gal, Won’t You Come Out Tonight and Give Hell’s Bells a Shake

Santa’s grave was a bitch to dig. She’d never dug a grave before, and the cellar floor was frozen. She wished she’d taken care of this last summer, but Santa had asked her to trust him. Trust. He insisted trust was key to holiday cheer that would last all fucking year. Ho! Ho! Ho!

She jumped on the shovel. It chipped at the cold dirt. She jumped again, and it broke through. She tipped the blade and tossed the dirt aside.

The only thing she could trust in this world was a shovel made of steel and the creepy crawlies that would find Santa’s body and eat his eyeballs out.

“Ho! Ho! Take that fat man.” That’s what she called him when he was drunk. When he was sober, she said it inside her mind. Fat man. Fat bastard. Fat son of a bitch. Mother fucker.

She jumped on the shovel again. Sweat dripped down her neck, between her breasts. She wore nothing but his old wife beater, a pair of boxers with tiny reindeer and his combat boots.

The combat boots were his. From ‘Nam. They both knew Santa’d never been to ‘Nam. But the guy at the military surplus swore on his life that the boots had. And it gave Santa a real feel of importance. As if he gave a damn for those boys, although he had a thing for good little girls.

The shovel slipped easily through now that the surface had been broken. Santa had taught her that too. It’s always hard the first time, honey. Breakin’ through those barriers. Santa knows best. Ho! Ho! Ho!

She heard a creak from the floor above. Santa had awoken and was drinking his coffee and cookies she’d left him. She shoveled faster.

Naughty. This year she’d been naughty. And she didn’t ask for anything nice. She never wanted to be on his damn list anyway. Nice had gotten her nowhere but a popped sugar plum and a real good spanking when she tried to run away. Life at the North Pole isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

He had his booze. He had his reruns of It’s a Wonderful Life playin’ on the VCR. Bars on the windows. Alarms on the doors. Jingle bells on her calves.

They jingled as she moved. She stabbed the shovel into the dirt. She pretended it was his soft white belly. Over and over again, she’d played the scene in her mind. The problem was the blood. It was red. His skin was white. Red and white were Santa’s favorite colors. The hell she’d grant him death in his favorite colors. Ho! Ho! Ho! Fat bastard.

The hole grew wider, deeper. The earth smelled good. It was dark, moist. She preferred those colors. The natural ones.

A thump upstairs sounded as if reindeer had just landed with Santa’s sleigh. And perhaps they had. In that great big red bag would be just what she wanted.

When she was finished, she tossed the shovel aside and picked up a handful of dirt. A spider scrambled up from it and onto her arm. The bare bulb from above didn’t provide much light, but she noted the size, the fuzzy hair along the abdomen leading to where eight little eyes watched her.

It was smaller than her, innocent. At the wrong place, at the wrong time. She could squash it the way Santa had squashed her. She cherished the bond they shared. In many ways, they were the same, they both were doing as nature intended.

It clambered up her arm, but she caught it before it slipped into her tank top. It bit her. “Son of …” and she flicked it. She watched its small mass fly across the room and hit the sack of Lyme.

She sucked on her bitten finger, then spat it out. Lyme. Santa put it on the lawn regularly. Grass was green. The salts within the bag were not, but just the word Lyme, made her think of that fruit that grew in places warm and sunny. Places Santa would never go, but claimed he had. Like ‘Nam. The faker. He was a great big fake. And there was only one thing to do with fake fuckers.

Behind the bag of Lyme she had discovered rat poison. Just a sprinkle in Santa’s coffee and sugar cookies would give her what she wanted under the Christmas tree. Under the cellar. In the ground.

She wiped her hands on her boxers and made her way up the stairs. In the kitchen, his favorite Starbucks mug lay in shards on the red linoleum. Next to it, Santa sprawled face up on the floor. His pale, fat body glowed like a snow angel. Cookie crumbles scattered in his beard.

Santa’s gift peaked out of his boxers. She glanced at the scissors on the counter, and considered cutting it to ribbons, but that would mean more red. She hated red.

“Buffalo gals won’t you come out tonight! Come out tonight! Come out tonight!” The TV played on for Santa. An electronic elf. She’d pull its plug later.

She grabbed his ankles and dragged him to the cellar door. When her shirt caught on the handle, she hesitated. She didn’t want to drop his ankles to unhook her tank. What if he came back to life? Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa’s back in town. And he’s got more than a trumpet to blow up your ass. He’s gotta horn. A reindeer horn. And it’s sharp enough to open your heart to give. Give to the good folks who are in need.

She yanked on his feet, and the tank tore off. For the first time, it felt good to be exposed. To be the beast Santa made her pretend to be. Her bells jingled all the way down the stairs to the thump of Saint Nick’s jolly head. At the bottom, she rolled Santa into the grave.

She wrapped Santa in his unfavorite colors--the natural ones, the dark ones--and stomped the dirt down when she was through. “Merry Fucking Christmas, Santa.”

She ran upstairs. Killed the TV. Ejected the video, and ripped the tape out of it. She wrapped the dark film around her breasts, her ribs, stomach, then used duct tape to secure. She used wire clippers to snip off the bells. She threw them down the cellar stairs and slammed the door shut. She washed her arms and face in the kitchen sink.

And left the North Pole.

Henrietta had nowhere to go but south.

Jodi MacArthur would love to wrap herself in “It’s a Wonderful Life” film tape and give Santa’s reindeer a good crack of the whip. Henrietta fully approves. Together they pull a lovely sleigh of the slayed at

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Note: Temporary Holiday closure on submissions

Hi all,

as you have all probably noticed, Christmas and New Year is looming fast, therefore we ask that people hold off on submissions until the beginning of January 2011. Any subs in backlog will probably still be posted over the next couple of days, but, hey, we all have families that deserve a little of our time over the festive period.

Thanks for your understanding and for being such great supporters of the site in this our second year.

Please also note that we have been posting a few new and interesting talents here at TKnC and they are well worth a look back at, and please do make them welcome by leaving comments. Thanks folks.

So, all that's left to be said is: "Have a great Christmas and peaceful and prosperous New Year".

Best wishes one and all

The Editors

PARANOID By Julia Madeleine


        “I think Lou’s trying to kill me,’ Gary said in a hushed voice. His eyes were shinning orbs and his gaze darted around the restaurant as if he expected ninja assassins to jump out at any second.
        “What? Trying to kill you?” I suppressed the urge to smile. I might have even laughed had his face not been so serious, actual fear present in his eyes.
       “I barricaded myself in my room the entire weekend, just trying to stay alive.”
       “That’s crazy, Gary. Why the hell would Lou try to kill you? He’s your nephew for God’s sake. ”
Gary pushed splayed fingers through his thinning hair and adjusted his frameless glasses. His voice had gone soft and high-pitched as he said, “He wants my house. Then he won’t have to live in the basement anymore. It will be his to do whatever he wants.”
       “That couldn’t happen, not unless you will the house to him,” I said. “And besides, there’s a mortgage on your house. It’s not like Lou could afford the payments working at a gas station.”
       “He had all these kids over yesterday. They were high on meth, I swear, Carl. Down there all day long plotting my demise, sharpening their knives and salivating like I’m some fat Christmas goose.”
Now I did laugh. The idea was ludicrous, yet I found the look in Gary’s eyes disturbing. Gary wasn’t the type to joke.
       “I need to ask if I can borrow your gun to protect myself.”
       “More coffee?” Our pony-tailed waitress said, already filling our cups before we’d answered.
       Gary sat stiffly, watching his coffee cup being filled as if he was staring at a giant spider that crept up his clothes. I noticed his upper lip was sweating, even though it wasn’t hot inside the restaurant. In fact the air conditioning was cranked up a little too high I thought. It was still early June and not really hot enough outside for the air to be on yet.
       I studied Gary, and felt a tightness in the pit of my stomach. I’d never seen him so wound up, so paranoid. Usually he was pretty laid back and reserved. Gary was the guy you’d find hanging out on the perimeter of a party, blending with the wallpaper. He wasn’t the animated type. Neither was he nervous, just quiet. So to see him before me on a Sunday morning in Bubby’s, where he had asked me to meet him, sitting there like he’s on death row and his last stay of execution has been denied, I was more than a little concerned.
       “The last thing you need is a gun,” I said, as I stirred sugar into my cup and gazed out through the window at the view of the Brooklyn Bridge. “Why don’t you send Lou packing any way? You could get a lot more than the four hundred bucks a month he’s paying you for that basement apartment. Probably get twice as much and you wouldn’t have to buy the guy groceries either.”
        “I stopped eating at home. Lou’s poisoned everything.”
       “Poisoned? Don’t you think maybe you’re over reacting here?”
       “The last time I ate some pasta sauce I had in the fridge I was violently ill. Violently, Carl. I puked my guts out all night.”
       “Maybe it had gone bad. How long was it in the fridge for?”
       “I made it the day before,” Gary’s eyes were wet as he continued. “He’s been spying on me too. He’s got cameras and listening devices all over my house. Nowhere is safe. I don’t feel safe in my own home, even here. I bet he’s got spies in here too.”
       I checked the time on my cell phone. It was my weekend with the kids. I’d promised them a movie this afternoon before driving them back to their mother’s in time for dinner. I’d left them to fix their own breakfast this morning. The oldest one was eleven, and while I didn’t like leaving them on their own, I figured they’d be fine for an hour while I met with Gary after his frantic early morning phone call. In the past whenever he’d needed my help it was to move furniture, hook up something electrical, or for woman advise. But this was different. This was something beyond my comprehension and I was at a complete loss as to how to help him.
       “Gary, I don’t really know Lou all that well,” I said as I tried my best to offer him something. “But he doesn’t seem like the most sophisticated guy in the world. All that dope smoking and those video games he plays? I doubt he’d be able to hook up any spy cams in your house, let alone poison your food. In fact he seems like a bit of a dummy to me.”
      “He started that fire, Carl, I know he started it. He’s been trying to kill me ever since. Please, just let me borrow your gun, just for a little while. I need to protect myself from him.”
       I gave Gary a level stare across the table and took a moment to sip my coffee, considering what he had just said. I remembered how depressed Gary had been in the weeks after the fire broke out in his house and both him and Lou had been hospitalized with smoke inhalation, trying to put it out; an anti-climatic end to a New Year’s Eve party Lou had thrown. Fortunately, Gary’s house insurance paid for the repairs and he hadn’t lost anything of value. But for some reason it seemed to affect Gary deeply. A darkness had settled over him.
       Johnny Cash’s voice emanated from the speakers above as the waitress made her rounds with the coffee pot and a bounce in her step and I wondered if she was working her way through college. Or would she be here in another twenty years if I came back; thicker at the waistline, the sincerity worn off her smile like the painted rim of the coffee cups, shuffling in orthopedic shoes, dreams of an off-season Florida vacation filling her tired head.
        I knew all about tired, having worked the graveyard shift as a machinist for the past fifteen years. I had a mortgage on a house I no longer lived in, a ten year old mini-van that I couldn’t afford new tires for, two kids to support and an ex-wife who hated my guts and tried, whenever possible, to make my miserable existence even more miserable. Punishment for not being the husband she grew up dreaming of. But over the years I’d learned you could focus on what was lost, or be grateful for what you still had. I chose the later and it was enough. Enough at least, to keep me getting up in the mornings. Sometimes, in spite of this, I felt dispensable and I couldn’t help seeing Gary in the same light. Two insignificant cogs, our hollow transitions here on earth a waste of time. Maybe that’s what bonded us—our shared misery. I wondered in that moment, if Gary was suicidal. Is that really why he wanted my gun?
 “I thought the fire was an accident,” I said, “Isn’t that what the investigation concluded? A cigarette had rolled between the cushions--”
       “Look at my eyes, Carl, do they look different to you?”
       I studied his eyes. They didn’t really look any different, just intense. I gave a shrug.
       “The color, look at the color,” he said and removed his glasses.
       “Blue. Your eyes are blue. They’ve always been that color, Gary.”
       “Yes, but now they’re darker. Ever since the fire. I had them checked by the doctor and I went to see an optometrist and they both say there’s nothing wrong with them, but they’re darker now, Carl.”
       “Really. They don’t look any darker to me.”
       “They are, I know they are.”
       “Well that’s strange. How could that happen?”
       “I don’t know. It had something to do with the fire. But you’re right it is strange and I’ll tell you what else is strange.”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear anymore. I checked the clock again, gauging how long it would take me to drive home. Would we be able to make the one o’clock show in time? We might just miss the previews.
I regarded Gary across the table, and although I still considered him my friend, one of my longest friendships, I couldn’t help feeling better about my life in comparison. It had to be hard being single, never having a relationship that lasted more than a few weeks, working at that call center, dealing with all those ragging customers on the phone day in and day out. Then there was that asshole nephew he had living in his basement taking advantage of him. And at least I still had all my hair, I placated myself.
Maybe Gary was losing his grip. Why else would he be acting so paranoid?
       “Are you even listening to me, Carl?”
       “Of course.”
       Gary gave me a sidelong stare and then in a whisper he said, “You’re in on it, aren’t you?”
       “In on what?”
       “I thought I could trust you. Man, what a fool I am.”
       I shook my head, and tried to comprehend what he was talking about.
       “I’ve got to get out of here,” Gary said and scrambled to his feet. He upset the table and his coffee cup turned over, and spilled the last bit across table. “Stay away from me Carl. I’m warning you, stay the hell away from me.”
       He ran to the door and I called after him. Heads turned to watch me and then watch Gary as he hurled himself through the glass door and out onto the street.
       “Jesus Christ.” He was crazy. He’d absolutely lost his marbles. What the hell was I suppose to do now? Who could I call? He had a mother somewhere upstate and I knew he had a sister in Boston. Should I call Lou? The police? What was one suppose to do in this situation? It’s not like I had any experience with mental illness, although I knew enough to clearly see that Gary was having some kind break with reality.
My phone rang as I slapped down enough bills on the table to more than cover our breakfast and give our waitress a good tip.
       “Hey Dad, when you coming home?”
       “On my way now son. Be home in a few minutes, ok?”
       “Hurry up so we don’t miss the movie.”
       I smiled and hung up the phone, my heart feeling light. I tried calling Gary several times on my way home but to no avail. Maybe the stress of that fire had triggered some kind of mental break down. I didn’t know. I certainly wasn’t a doctor. But I was convinced a doctor was exactly what Gary needed. I decided I would stop by his house later tonight after I had dropped the kids home and see if I could persuade him to see some kind of therapist, even check himself into the emergency. Was it possible he was that far-gone?
       Gary’s house was located on East 55th Street in Brooklyn. It was a fixer-upper when he got it five years ago and it was still a fixer-upper. Last year I had helped him redo the tiles in the kitchen and he’d even conned me with a case of beer into painting the walls one weekend. It was a good substitute for a woman, I supposed, kept him busy.
       His rusted Honda Civic was in the driveway when I pulled up to his house, just as the sun was setting behind me. I stepped up the cracked walkway and noticed what looked like blood drops all over the front steps. There was no mistaking it was blood. What else could it possibly be? A cold feeling launched within me and I hesitated, looking around, examining the house. Was Gary in trouble? I considered calling the police on my cell and then decided there wasn’t time for that. Gary might need more immediate help. I stepped past the blood, opened the screen door and checked the doorknob. It was unlocked.
       “Gary? You home?”
       Immediately I noticed more blood as I stepped through the door. It was everywhere; splattered across the floor, shoe prints smeared in it as if someone had walked back and forth. There were streaks of it on the walls, and what looked like fingerprints.
       My heart flipped. I called out for Gary, unsure what I had walked into or if I should go in any further. But I needed to know if Gary was hurt.
       I tried to step around the blood as I walked deeper into the house. I peered into the shadows of the living room, and followed the blood trail into the kitchen. There was a huge amount of it splattered across the tiles. Then I saw Gary.
       He lay facedown on the floor, a circle of blood pooling out from his midsection. I knew he was dead.
       My stomach heaved as I ran out the door. I gulped in mouthfuls of air, afraid that I would pass out on the front lawn. When the police and an ambulance arrived I was sitting in my van with the door open, smoking a cigarette. I was questioned, put in the back of a cruiser, and my vehicle was searched.
       A short while later, Lou was brought out of the house in handcuffs, his long hair wet as if he’d just been in the shower. His face was pale, his expression stoic as he was led to a police car. I looked at the clear plastic bags the police were carrying. Evidence bags. There was a bloody knife in one of them.
       “What’s going on? Is Lou under arrest?” I asked the officer who released me from the back of the cruiser.
       “At this point he’s our number one suspect,” the officer said. “By the way, did your friend realize his house was bugged?”
       “What do you mean?”
       “We found cameras all through out the house, even in his bathroom. Listening devices too. Looks like the nephew was spying on him from what we discovered in the basement. Had a shit-load of rat poison down there too. Guess they had a rodent problem.”
       I gazed speechless at the blood spattered front steps of my friend’s home and felt a tear in the depths of my being as time and space were sucked away. I collapsed inwardly as I realized Gary had tried to reach out to me for help and I failed him so profoundly. How could I have been so deaf to all he had told me?
       It was dark when I drove home. I turned on the radio and Bruce Springstein’s voice filled my car, singing about Bobby who had a gun that he kept underneath his pillow.


Under the Boardwalk

I like drowned things. I like pale and wet and limp. Bloated. Things that cut easily with a razor. Things found on the beach, gray-green and distorted so that you can’t tell what they once were.
I brought Marti down to show her. She’s this chick from work. I think she likes me. She’s got purple-pink hair and a tattoo on her neck that goes under her collar. She just smiles whenever I ask her what it is. I think she wants me to find out. I think it’s a spiderweb.
She’s wearing these killer boots with spike heels, and she laughs when she sinks in the sand. And then we go under the boardwalk, and I show her, and she stops laughing.
“Happy Halloween,” I say, and cut her off a piece. She bends over and pukes. I start to cry, and she wants to leave, but those boots are stupid for walking on the beach and I stop her, pull her back under the boardwalk. Put the candy in her mouth. She spits it out and screams and I’ve got to stuff more in there, more, and more, until she stops.
I don’t know what it was once, but there’s a lot of it. I think it’s maybe Christie. That’s my secret wish. It’s got red hair like Christie had. She worked with me at my old job. She didn't have any tattoos. Just red hair, bunches of it, all curly. It smelled nice. Like coconut. I kept a little bit of it, but it doesn't smell like anything anymore.
It’s hard to cut things that are still warm. Her skin won’t slide off. In the end, I drag her down to the water and shove her in, and I go back to sit with Christie in the sand. We’ll wait. Marti’ll be back. She’ll be back, and more beautiful than before. I put the piece with the spiderweb – it was a spiderweb, after all – on Christie’s neck, and I wait.

R.S. lives and writes in a suburb outside of Detroit. You can find her at


Write an essay, in your own words, entitled
The essay can be any length you wish.

By Simon Edwards age 9.

On my holliday I went to my uncles farm in Chester. My uncle is called Arthur and my aunt is called Betty. They have two children Kevin who is the same age as me and Sarah who is twelv. I like Kevin but I dont like Sarah much as she is nasty to me. She puls my hare and trips me up when Im not looking. Once I puled her hair back and I got smacced by aunt Betty. They have a lot of cats on the farm I like cats they are soft and cudly. Also they have three dogs but I am not much keen on them they bark a lot and sometimes they bite people. My mum took me to Chester in her car the son was shining and I was verry exited. My mum works in the haredressers just down the road from wher I live and I like going there when shes working to watch. The girls in the haredressers are very nice sometimes they give me sweets or when mum is bysy they take me to the park to see the duks or take me to the Macdonalds for a buger. My dad used to work at the fowndry but he had not been to work sins it closed. Now he goes to the pub a lot and sometimes he comes home drunk and sometimes he shouts at me when he is drunk. I dont have no brothers and sisters but I wood like some. When we arived at the farm which is caled the Seven Trees farm me and my mum went indoors. Uncle Arthur was not at home he was out in the fields somewhere but aunty Betty was there. She smiled a lot and made us a nice tea there was plenty of bread and chees and after we had ice cream and jelley and I also had some lemonad. Kevin was out in the fields with uncle Arthur and we did not see him until they came in at six o clock. Mum left when it got dark and we staid up late until ten o clock waching the telly. I was sleeping with Kevin in the bedroom at the back of the howse there were two beds there and I had the one near the window. We did not sleep for a verry long time and Kevin told me storys about the farm. He said that the farm was verry old and in the old days there was a lot of servants working there and one day one of the mayds dyed. People in the vilage said that the farmer killed her becous she wood not marry him the farmer was not maried. Kevin sayd that her gost hounts the farm but he has not seen her. He sayd that an old man in the vilage who lifes in the old blaksmith who is ninty yeares old has seen the gost a long time ago and he was afraid. He sayd she was verry ugli and was unhappy. I dont know if I beleev in gosts but I was afraid after for the rest of the nite. In the morning Kevin and me went out to play in the fields it was nice and warm the son was out and we had a great time. At twelv o clock we et and it was nice then we went out again. We went to the old barn and Kevin found a spaider it was a big spaider and it was black. It had harey legs. Kevin laffed and held it in his hand and showd it to me. What are you going to do with it? I asked him lets take its legs off he said so we did. It was funy to wach the spaider trying to escap with only one leg and in the end I scwashed it with my foot. We told Sarah and she said how wood you like it if a big spaider came and scwashed you with its feet? Then she puled my hare and run away. After supper Kevin and me went upstares to the atic to play. We had a lot of fun and we got dirty. Befor we went downstairs I fownd a box with old books in it they were verry old and dusty and they had funy names. One of them had funy picturs in it they were old and looked like starrs and people that had got heds like animals. There was a lot of funy pomes in it and they didnt sownd verry good Kevin sayd that we had to reed them out alowd in the dark he sayd that it told you in the book. We didnt hav time to reed them that nite becous uncle Arthur red us some storys from a book he had it was caled the Arabian Nites. It was a good book and I liked them. We had tost and jam for brekfast the next morning and then we went out to play again. It was hot and we layed down under the trees for a long time. Kevin sayd that the mayd which got kiled was buryed under the trees and I was feeling a bit afraid after that. I told him and he laffed and said that I was a baby. I didnt cry but I told him that I wood fite him but he didnt want to fite. I think he was afraid. It was nice and cool under the trees and I didnt want to go out in the son after but Kevin sayd we had too and we went into the old barn. It was dark in the old barn and I didnt like it much but I didnt tell Kevin in case he laffed at me again. We fownd a lot of old tools in the barn but we didnt know what they was. We sayd we wood ask uncle Arthur what they was. We didnt do much for the rest of the day. When we went to bed that nite Kevin took a torch with him so that we cood reed the book in bed. We didnt want uncle Arthur and aunty Betty to see the light on so we put the torch on under the sheets. We didnt understand the book at all and the pomes were verry funy. They didnt make sens. Kevin sayd they were like the pomes in the Bible and people sayd them in Church. We laffed at the words and sayd them lowd then we put the torch out and went to sleep. I wok up in the middle of the nite and there was a storm going on outside it was verry lowd and the litning was verry scarry. I coodnt sleep so I got up and went to the window to look. Every time there was litning I cood see the trees and I cood even see the grass. I was verry afraid but I was alon as Kevin just carryed on sleeping and I neerly cryed. I cood see the book on the little table by the window in the litning and I cood reed the name. It was caled Anshent Rites and Seremonys and the name was in red. I wached for a little longer until I was feeling sleepy and I was just going to go to bed when I saw someone standing in the trees. He was standing under the biggest tree and I was sure it was a man. When the litning came again I cood see that he was dresed in funy old cloths like they hav in the films on the telly the ones about long ago and like the people in the old fotografs my mum has in our howse. The ones of her great grandad and grandma with her grandad a little boy. He waved at me and I waved back and I new he wanted me to go out to the trees to be with him. I opend the bedroom door and went downstares. There was no noise at all in the howse exept for the storm and the wind and the rain pored in to the kichen when I opend the back door. I got wet verry soon as the rain was hevy but I carryed on to the trees. I cood still see him standing there but he was verry silent and only looked at me. When I went closer I cood see that he looked just like my great grandad the one in the picture at home but he was difrent. He was a lot older and his face looked funy. He lifted up his hand and tuched my face. His hand felt funy all soft and scwelchy like he had been in the rain for a long time and was verry wet. I hoped grandma wood not row him when he got home like my mum rows me if I get wet. There was a funy smell on him like dirt and I cood see that his cloths was all dirty like he had fell to the grownd. His hand was cold when he tuched my face and I told him he shood go home and get warm by the fire or he wood cach a cold. Or even newmonia. He didnt anser me but I new he was listening as he was looking into my eyes. He had a funy look on his face like he didnt like me and I was a little bit afraid. I looked at his hand in the litning and I saw a big worm beetween his fingers like the worms we used when my dad took me fishing when I was little. His hand tuched my sholder and then he took hold of my hand. His skin was verry cold and slimy and I cood feel it tering a little as he scweesed my hand and I cood feel his blood on my skin. Only when I looked down I cood see that his blood was not red but yello and green like the stuf that comes out of cuts when they go bad. There was also a terible smell. I tryed to take my hand away from his but he was holding on too tite. I nearly cryed. I cood hear him breething  and it didnt sownd too good at all like he coodnt get his breth and was sufocating. His wastecoat was open and a buton had come off his shirt and I cood see big brown worms inside his stomac. It made me feel sick. My great grandad used to live with uncle Arthur and aunt Betty but he went away a long time ago I dont remembr seeng him but I hav seen a foto when he was an old man. I remembr my mum saying that he had gone to hospital and he was verry ill as he was so old. She sayd that he was ninty three. After a week everyone went to the farm and they was all dresed up and they were all crying. They sayd he was dead. I dont know what dead is but I dont think he has gone away as he was standing in the trees with me. I herd a noise behind me and I turned round to see Sarah standing there. She was wet and her eyes were verry big. She was looking at great grandad and she was beginning to cry. He let go of my hand and turned to Sarah and opened his arms wide. I cood see tears runing down Sarahs face as she looked at him. She new him as he had been living with them and she looked like she cood not beeleev he was there. I looked at him and I cood see tears runing down his face to and I new that he new who she was. He took a step forward and Sarah fell into his arms. He huged her and lifted her off the ground. She was crying out lowd and he was presing his face into hers. He then put her down and took hold of her hand and walked away throo the trees. I thout they wanted to talk about old times and went back to the howse and went to bed. The next morning I didnt get up until it was late and when I got downstares I saw a policman in the parlor. Aunt Betty was crying and uncle Arthur was standing behind the chair with his hand on her sholder. He looked like he had been crying to. I went to find Kevin and he was in the kichen he said that Sarah had gone out in the nite and had not come back. The policman was looking for her. I didnt tell him that Sarah had gone for a walk with great grandad in case I got a row for being out late at nite. Mum came later to take me back home in the car I asked her where Sarah had gone. She sayd that she maybee gone to sleep. I asked her where great grandad was and she sayd he had also gone to sleep. I asked her if he was dead and she sayd yes. I asked her what dead was and she told me it was like going to sleep but for ever and not coming back. I dont now where great grandad and Sarah went for a walk but I now that she is dead. I think he was lonly.


Lewis Morris, born and bred in North Wales, worked in retailing for 28 years before falling victim to the recession and being made redundant. Grabbing the opportunity to turn his interests into a career he now makes his living as a professional genealogist and historian. He is an avid reader of horror and crime fiction, and well-researched historical non-fiction. His fiction has previously appeared on Flashes in the Dark. His hobbies are music and digging large holes in the ground.

CHOP SHOP By Ash Scott-Lockyer

Chop Shop

When two goons grabbed me as I smoked a consolation cigarette by the Lamborghini, I knew this wasn’t going to be my day. The hustle had gone belly up from the start, even the hired Lambo hadn’t convinced the mark I was on the up and up. So I made my excuses and left ... I’m a con man, but not a stupid one.
Now a gorilla held me from behind while I looked into his mate’s big, gormless face.
‘Dis ain’t your motor, is it chum?’
‘No’ I said as patiently as I could manage, trying to explain I had legit hire documents in my briefcase. It cut no ice. They bundled me, hooded, into their waiting four by four.
The drive was uncomfortable, breathing was difficult through the heavy material and I was cramped, laid on the back seat of their Chelsea tractor. These fellahs weren’t mucking about, they were obviously not the Bill ... so who else had I pissed off? I decided the list was too long to go through.
When their motor eventually stopped, I was hauled out and the bag on my head removed. I stood in a large, grubby, but well equipped auto workshop.  Everywhere there were high priced supercars and luxury saloons, more than I could count; here a Bentley Flying Spur, there a Ferrari 360.  Most appeared to be in a state of disassembly, with half a dozen mechanics swarming around, removing parts and carefully labelling them.
‘Very nice,’ I breathed, one professional admiring the work of others.
 ‘It is, isn’t it?’ I turned to face the speaker, trying to ignore the ape still holding the back of my jacket. He was a tall, slightly stooped, balding man in his fifties. I noted his expensive suit, watch and neatly manicured hands.
‘So it was the Lambo,’ I said. ‘You put the grab on me for my poxy car ... why didn’t you just pop me one and take the motor ... eh?’ I mustered all the bravado I could – I wanted them to think they’d caught a live one and chuck me back in a hurry.
‘We’re not thugs,’ the tall bloke said smiling, ‘we run a peaceful, tidy operation ... besides you’re worth easily as much to me as your car.’
‘You what?’ I said confused. ‘You’ve got another think coming if you think any bleeder’s going to ransom me pal,’ I thought.
‘Bring him along,’ the tall geezer said turning on his heel and leading the way towards what looked like a back office.
My tame gorilla pushed me forward, still gripping the back of my jacket. I hoped the creases would come out. As we neared the plain, grimy painted door it opened, and a bloke in a helmet and motorcycle leathers emerged, carrying a box.  As I read the legend on the white fibreglass sides of the container and took in the scene through the half opened door, I nearly filled my pants. Caution live human organ in transit ... through the door was a green tiled room with a blood stained operating table at its centre. Fuck me ... they didn’t just nick cars, they nicked drivers too ... and sold them for scrap. Oh bollocks, I was really in the deep, brown and smelly now.
‘Now listen ‘ere,’ I said, ‘I’m going to be missed and a world of hurt’ll come your way. Let’s be reasonable, I can walk away – I ain’t seen nothing.’  My heels skidded on the oil – and, now I came to notice – blood contaminated concrete as I was pushed towards the doorway.
‘He’ll do fine, prep him,’ tall man said, addressing a gowned and masked figure in the room beyond.
Then I snapped. I mean, my liver’s filtered too many pints and whiskey chasers to be in top nick, but I’m attached to it, and I’m damned if I’ll let it be hawked off to the highest bidder.
I kicked back hard into the bloke behind’s shin. I always liked expensive shoes and looked after my investment with steel heel protectors. He released my jacket at once. I like to think I screamed my defiance like a banshee, but it probably sounded pretty girly.
Hurling myself to the right of the doorway I shouldered the glass front of the cabinet mounted on the wall. And by the time the muscle brothers, the tall bloke and two or three of the mechanics had rallied and started to converge on me, I had my hands on the fire axe it contained.
‘Right ... fuckers ... ’
Twenty minutes later I drove the Porsche out through the roller door of the garage. I was lucky, the keys were in it and there was even paperwork on the passenger seat I could use – with a bit of doctoring – to register it in my name.  Not a bad haul when I thought the whole day had gone tits up – course – it wasn’t such a good day for tall bloke. I never realised how hard it would be to get an axe blade out of a convulsing man’s noddle. I’d only just managed to wiggle it clear in time to hack the arm of my former jacket abuser – served him bleeding well right an’ all. After that they all seemed more intent on getting out of my way rather than having a go. Trouble for them was some prat had locked up the gaff tight as a fishes’ arsehole behind the bike courier.
It took a bit of time, made my arms ache like a bastard, soaked me best suit in claret ... But I did ‘em all ... even one who tried to crawl under a  car ... hacked the tires and dropped a ton of Lexus on him, dopey twat. Course, I left gown and mask geezer alone ... well, all those bodies about – stands to reason – he paid me what they were worth in parts out the till and I buggered off. Job done!

Ash Scott-Lockyer writes horror and dark fantasy with a particularly English flavor. He lives on the outskirts of London and rides horses in the Essex countryside. His short stories can be found on several webzines and he has a tale soon to be published in the April edition of Necrotic Tissue. His website is

CALLING OUT By Joshua Scribner

Calling Out


Brenda jolted awake, slipped on her robe and rushed through the house, up the stairs and into her daughter’s room.

The little girl lay motionless in the glow of her nightlight.  That was odd, Brenda thought and then walked across the hall to her other daughter’s room, where she found another little girl asleep in the glow of another nightlight. 

Brenda went back to bed.

“What was the matter?” Kyle asked.

“I don’t know.  They were both asleep.”

“Did she really yell for me?’”

“Yeah.  She really did.”

“That’s a first.  They always want you.”



It was the same routine, except she reversed the order of the rooms.  She got the same results.  Both of the girls were sound asleep. She was in the hall, when she heard her daughter again.

“No!  I want, Daddy.”

She went into the room the voice had come from and still found a sleeping little girl.  She shook a little shoulder.


Kaily opened her eyes and looked confused.  “What, Mommy?”

“Are you having a bad dream?”

Kaily thought for a few seconds and then said, “No.  I was dreaming about swimming under water.  I could breathe, like a fish.  I want to go back to sleep now.”

She kissed her daughter and left the room.



She sat up.  “You go this time.”

“She’ll just want you when I get there.”

“Then I’ll be waiting in the hall.”

Kyle rolled out of bed and led the way upstairs.  He looked into the first room, moved down the hall and looked into the second. “Both sleeping.”

“This is weird.”


“Just my daddy!”

Kyle moved to the room it had come from.  He looked in and looked out.  “It just got weirder.  She’s still asleep.”



“Just you this time,” Brenda said.

“All right, but this time, I’m waking them both up and seeing what they’re up to.”


Brenda watched his silhouette go.  She might have turned on the lamp, but she hadn’t wanted him to see how hurt she was.  She tried to tell herself they wanted protection, not comfort, which was why they were calling for him instead of her.

She heard his footsteps moving above.  Then she saw the shadowy figure.  It appeared in the open doorway.

Now she wanted to scream for him, but she couldn’t.  The thing in the doorway had some kind of power over her.  She got out of bed against her will.  She was led through the house and quietly out the back door.  She was led into the woods.  Kyle must have talked to the girls for a while, because by the time she heard him shouting for her, his voice sounded very distant.

“Your husband is such a light sleeper,” the thing said in a dignified male voice.  “I never would have gotten you past him.”

She wanted to ask what he was and what he planned for her.  He must have had access to these questions in her mind.

He said, “I am a creature of the night, an incubus of sorts, and my powers only work on the opposite sex.  The energy inside you, a loving mother, is very positive and very nourishing for me.”

He stopped her body from moving, then turned around and touched her.  She felt her energy begin to drain immediately.

“I can drain as much as I want.  I would have left you enough energy to call out, but it took you four times to get it right.  It takes a lot of energy for me to keep a little girl in a nice dream while I borrow her vocal chords.  Now you have to get lucky.  There are many wolves in these woods, and they’ll sense that you’re helpless.   Maybe your husband will get here first.  Maybe the wolves will.”

He did as he said he would.  He drained her to a point of paralysis.  He then left her alone.

She could hear just fine.  She heard Kyle’s voice again, but heard it fade off in the wrong direction.  Then she heard the branches move and the panting of another creature of the night.

Bio:  Joshua Scribner is the author of the novels Mantis Nights, The Coma Lights and Nescata.  His fiction won both second and fifth place in the 2008 Whispering Spirits Flash Fiction contest.  Up to date information on his work can be found at  Joshua currently lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.