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‘Are STEM Syllabi Gendered?’ A Feminist Professor Says Women Can’t Do Science – Hit & Run : Reason.com

Every now and then I find an article that is so horrifically stupid that I can’t resist blasting it on the Tome. Those familiar with the Tome know that sometimes I refer to this as Real Horror, and boy, does this little gem of stupidity earn the label.

Apparently, the reason why women do not enter STEM fields is because the scientific  method is sexist! A method in which to conduct science, which says nothing about gender, is sexist!? 

Even better, STEM classes are SO sexist that even their syllabi are gendered and insensitive. Well, maybe that one college in the deep south might have a clause about how women should let be in class, but I don’t see how “promoting the idea that knowledge can be ascertained through reason” is sexist unless you’re implying that women can’t reason, and ifor that’s the case then the real sexist is the one making that stupid claim.

I wish I was making this up. This is a direct quote from the article:

The syllabi for college-level STEM courses—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—are “gendered” because they promote the idea that knowledge can be ascertained through reason. This is a masculine concept that hurts women’s feelings and makes it difficult for them to succeed.
In addition, apparently the wording of this phrase in a syllabus is offensive to women:

critical thinker considers all available evidence with an open mind and uses appropriate techniques to analyze that evidence and reach a conclusion.

Now, before you go over to the site to channel your frustration, I should point out that this article is actually referring to a scientific study by the University of North Dekota. But that just makes the claim that STEM and scientific method are inherently sexist even more absurd.

http://reason.com/blog/2016/09/22/are-stem-syllabi-gendered-a-feminist-pro

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There – David J. Wing

 

Looking out from the rural track, a single tree sat in the near centre of the field, bathed in sun and stretching a small shadow down across the scorched grass. Daisies populated frequently throughout and a light breeze deceived the passer-by into thinking the day was less warm than a British Summer should be. The boys left their bikes by the stone wall partitioning the field from the one over the road. Dodging cow excrement, fresh and old, Harry and Liam walked towards the tree and the shade. Their shirts swam in sweat from a day’s cycling and their water bottles sat half empty in their hands.

As they got nearer their steps began to slow, their smiles fled and they stopped all together.

The smell hit their noses like a rotten bin at the back of a restaurant, then they saw it. One, then two, then more.

Fingers, swimming in blue bottles on a bed of green.

Ashen-faced, the boys knew what must sit beneath the tree. The shade, masking a shadow that would extend across the field in the later hours.

The pair looked at each other, as if daring, yet not. They had to see, didn’t they? When the kids at school asked, fingers wouldn’t be enough. They’d need guts and entrails, limbs and sinew.  

One step, then another. They encroached on the thing that had to live there, under the oak. The closer they got, the less they saw. The figure, its arms and legs splayed out revealed nothing.

The shadow of a being. As if cut from the flesh, along with the digits.

Liam turned to Harry and Harry to Liam alike. Their frantic, pumping legs led trainers to tread deep in cow faeces, yet they noticed not for a moment. Their water bottles fell and laid together. Leaping and scrambling over the wall and wrenching their bikes from their resting places the pair peddled as fast as seven-year-old legs could go. Down, down was easier. Down seemed better, nearer to somewhere and closer to safety.

The sun fled and the shade chased. Tarmac became darker behind them. The only sound to pierce their ears was the heavy breath that escaped each boy.

A house, there, not too far.

A few hundred more feet. A few hundred more breaths.

Neither boy so much as glanced at the other, nor did they look back. Had they…

Their tyres screeched and marked the driveway to the house, the bikes running free and the boys falling and fleeing fast. Their fists battered the oaken door, their sweat soaked the welcome mat.

Now they looked, now they saw.

Behind and in front, it fell upon them; a night and a shadow a shade and nothing.  

Stubbed hands, reached out. Gripping.

And then the slam.

Safe?

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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.

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Deadman’s Tome LIVE with Marc Shapiro

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Enhance your sex life

Friday October 7th at 10PM CST, Marc Shapiro meets with Mr. Deadman on the Deadman’s Tome podcast to discuss his dark, highly sexualized short about a dick that just won’t quit entitled DOSE. DOSE is one of those stories that thrives in the area between porn and erotica, and it delivers with a sense of humor that doesn’t beat around the bush.

Use this link to listen to the interview LIVE at 10PM CST (minus a few minutes):

http://www.spreaker.com/user/8056632

Marc Shapiro is the author of nearly 70 unauthorized celebrity biographies such as J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter and Creed: From Zero To Popularity . He is a published short story writer, published poet and published comic book writer. He actually makes a living doing this. Don’t tell the authorities.

Have questions for Marc Shapiro? send them through the comments below or tweet them to me @MrDeadmanDT

 

 

 

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The Statewide Thing – Joseph Rubas

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Enhance your coffee

The Statewide Thing – Joseph Rubas

“Come on, Harv; you’re killing me.”

Dave Birsk switched the phone to his left hand and switched on the lamp, filling the living room with soft, warm light. It was late, past nine, and he was tired.

On the other end, Harvey, his brother, sighed. “I wouldn’t ask you if it wasn’t an emergency.”

“Are you sure it can’t wait until tomorrow?”

“I’m sure.”

Dave shook his head. “Alright. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

Harvey sounded relieved. “Good.”

Dave hit the END button and put the phone into his pocket. He got up, sighed, and went over to the metal rack by the door. He grabbed his shoes, slipped them on, and hit the bathroom before leaving.

Outside, the night was crisp and cold, a frigid wind moving noisily through the trees along the highway. A half mile past them, the Potomac crashed against the shore, the sound of it near deafening.

Harvey owned a bail bonds business in Fredericksburg, twenty-five miles north of Colonial Beach, where Dave lived. With travel time alone, Dave wouldn’t be back until past midnight. Thank God he was off tomorrow.

Dave…you gotta help me, Harv had said. He sounded bad…like a man in deep shit.

What? What’s wrong?

I…I can’t tell you over the phone, but you gotta come. You gotta.

God only knew what Harvey had gotten himself into this time. Ever since Yolanda left him in 2013, he’d been a wreck, drinking too much, going to the bars, always stinking like booze. Dave loved his brother dearly, but dude was turning into a fucking alkie, just like dad, and Dave couldn’t stand alcoholics. The last time they talked, in March 2014, Dave told him he needed help.

I’m fine, Harv said.

No, you’re not, Dave countered.

They argued, and that was that. Harv didn’t call him and he didn’t call Harv. Now, out of the blue, Harv was on the horn, sounding all shaky and shit.

Dave didn’t like it.

The wind washed across his face like a brisk slap, bringing him out of his reprieve. He locked the door, descended the steps, paused, listened to the crashing of the river, and climbed into the Silverado.

As he drove through the empty streets of the Beach, Dave cycled through the radio stations, finally settling for 95.9 WGRQ, Hometown Oldies or whatever they called it. He was surprised to hear the opening strands of one of his favorite songs from childhood.

Whaaaaaat? That’s not oldies! That’s…

Dave sighed. He supposed it was oldies. The new oldies.

May, how time does fly. He would be fifty-one next year, though he neither felt nor looked it. Harv was only a couple years behind. Forty-eight? Forty-nine? He couldn’t remember, but he was coming up on the big 5-0 pretty fast. It was wild when you thought about it. When you’re young, you know intellectually that, say, ten years isn’t a long time, but you never truly know until you can look back at ten years past with the clear and level visibility of a thirty or forty year old. It wasn’t a long time, but, then again, it was. Just long enough to put some gray in your hair without being too obvious.

Outside the Colonial Beach town limits, darkness swallowed the Silverado. Houses were few and far between on the road to King George, and many of them were already dark. A car passed in the opposite lane, going back into town, but that was it. He didn’t see another vehicle until he crossed 301.

King George, the county seat of King George County, was clustered along the main drag (Highway 3…Kings Highway in town), a series of low, time worn buildings; auto shops, diners, the court house, the library. Dave checked the time on the dashboard clock. 9:40.

Things closed down early in the countryside. When he was a kid he hated it. The town he grew up in was a farming community south of Richmond. As soon as that sun set, everything closed like throwing a switch. Now, as an older man, he didn’t mind. He worked, he came home, and he slept. Not much time for anything else.

Dave’s phone buzzed in his pocket, scaring him.

“Hello?”

“Are you coming?” Harv asked. He sounded desperate.

“Yes, I’m on my way.”

“Good, I don’t think…”

Harv stopped, and Dave was sure he heard someone else in the background.

“Harv, what’s going on?” Dave demanded.

“I can’t tell you until you get here.”

Dave could fucking strangle Harv. “Alright. I’ll be there shortly.”

He hung up and tossed the phone onto the seat next to him.

Fifteen minutes later, he was pulling onto Lafayette Blvd, which ran along the southern border of Fredericksburg’s Old Towne district. To his right, a set of train tracks crossed over a slanted street, the bridge gray and ancient. Just ahead, the old train station. It was a restaurant now, though it still served commuters to D.C. and Northern Virginia.

On the radio, CCR sang about someone named Willie.

Harvey’s office was north of the old courthouse on Princess Anne Street, right smack-dab in the heart of Olde Towne. Dave turned onto the street, waiting for a black man in a puffy jacket to cross, and crept forward. Ahead, the grand spires of a gothic church rose high into the night.

He parked at the curb in front of Harv’s office (STATEWIDE BAIL BONDS…EVERYWHERE, EVERY TIME!), a squat, ugly building with a red roof wedged between the town museum and a vacant lot. The front was all glass. In the alley between the museum and Harv’s office, a light shone. It was probably the light by the side door.

Harv was waiting.

For a long minute, Dave stayed in the car, preparing himself for what he might find. A dead hooker, maybe, or Harv covered in blood, a failed suicide attempt. His heart ached and his stomach rolled. He wished for a brief second that he hadn’t come after all, but then pushed it away. Harv was his blood. If he needed him, he’d be here.

With a deep breath, Dave killed the engine and got out, a particularly strong gust of wind nearly ripping the door from his hands.

At the head of the alley, Dave stepped on something, slid, and nearly fell. When he caught his balance, he looked at it.

Blood.

Jesus Christ.

At the side door, Dave pounded like a cop with a warrant. “Harvey!” he cried.

Nothing.

“Harv!”

Dave pounded again. This time, the door opened, and Harvey stood in the doorway, a tall, thin man with glasses and a balding pate. His cheap brown suit was ruffled, and he looked sick, his face gray and his eyes bloodshot.

“What the hell’s going on?” Dave asked, pushing past Harvey. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Harvey said, “it’s not me.”

Dave stopped.

“What do you mean?”

Harvey looked guilty.

“What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“Then what trouble are you in?”

Harvey swallowed. “Let me show you.”

Harvey led Dave down the hall to the back room where supplies were stored. The first thing Dave noticed on entering was the table in the middle of the room.

The second was the child strapped to it.

“What the fuck?” he drew.

The child stirred, made a small noise, and then turned to look at them, its head flopping bonelessly against the table. In the meager light cast from an overhead lamp, Dave saw two things: One, it was a boy, maybe four or five, and two…it was dead. Its skin, he noticed, was mottled and gray/blue. Its head was cracked and oozing. It was naked save for a pair of underwear, providing Dave a pretty good look at the decomposition already starting on the stomach.

“Hey, Dave,” it said, its voice dark and vile, “come suck my dick.”

Dave grabbed Harvey by the lapels and dragged him out into the hall. “What the fuck is that?”

Harvey chafed. “I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you, just let me go.”

Dave shoved him back.

“Whip his ass, Dave!” the monster called.

“Shut up!” Harvey yelled. He looked back at Dave. “I don’t know what it is. I was coming home down 218 and it ran in front of me.”

218, which wound from Fredericksburg to King George, was one of the most dangerous roads in the area; surrounded by forest, it twisted, turned, rose, and fell so often it could legally be classified a theme park ride.

“It was starting to get dark, and I didn’t see it until the last moment. I hit the brakes, but…”

“You ran this thing over?”

“Look at its neck and head, Dave.”

In the room, the thing laughed. “My head flops like your wrist!”

Dave nodded. “Okay. So you hit it.”

Harvey nodded. “Yeah. I hit it, and stopped. I thought it was a…a…a deer or something. I mean, it was on all fours.”

“Like Yolanda in the projects!” the creature shouted, and Harvey stiffened.

“Hey, buddy, how about you shut the fuck up,” Dave said, taking a step into the room. “We’re having a conversation here.”

The monster flicked its tongue suggestively.

“Go on,” Dave said to Harvey.

Harvey took a deep breath. “I got out of the car and looked around. I didn’t see anything. My headlight was broken. That was it. Then as I’m getting in the car, I heard something underneath. I got down on my hands and knees…and there he was.”

Harvey shuddered as he remembered the creature in the darkness beneath the car.

“He flew out at me and tried to bite my neck.”

“Yummy neck!” the creature laughed.

Harv subdued the creature and tied it up with a pair of jumper cables he had in the trunk. “I panicked and brought him here. Then I called you.”

Dave took a long minute to process the story. It was crazy, impossible, yet there, tied to that table…

“Come on,” Dave said, slapping Harvey’s chest. “I want a closer look.”

Harv did a good job tying the monster down. One long strap went across its chest, while others held its hands and feet immobile. Dave did a circuit, walking slowly around, and studied the creature, despite its name calling: “Fag! Bitch! Punk!”

Upon closer inspection, its skin wasn’t just blueish gray, it was also shot through with yellow and brown. Its nails were long and jagged, its eyes deep and inky black. When it opened its mouth, its teeth were yellowed and pointed. He hazarded a quick touch of the thing’s forehead, and it was cold.

“This is fucking crazy,” Dave said finally. He stepped back from the table and put his hands on his hips. The monster asked for a handjob.

“You got a dirty mouth,” Dave said. “Where’d you learn to talk like that?”

“You’re mother.”

Dave chuckled nervously. He and Harv exchanged a glance.

“Who are you?” Dave asked, his tone serious. He came forward and knelt by the creature. “What are you?”

The creature flashed a reptilian smile. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Get away from it,” Harv pled.

“Are you a zombie?”

The thing laughed. “Brains! Brains! Give me brains!”

“Come on, Dave,” Harv said.

Dave got up and went to his brother. “What do we do?”

“I don’t know,” Harv whined. “Kill it?”

Dave considered it. “No. We should call someone. The government. The army.”

Harv started. “But they’ll probably kill us! We’ve seen too much!”

Sighing, Dave looked at the creature. “What are you?” he asked again.

“Nothing,” the monster said.

“Kill it,” Harv said. “That’s the only way!”

He was right. “Do you have a crowbar or something in here?”

Harv nodded. “I keep a baseball bat in my office.”

“Go get it.”

Harv nodded and scurried away. For the moment, Dave was alone with the creature.

“You can’t kill me,” it said. It flopped its head back and forth several times as if to corroborate. “Your faggot brother couldn’t with his car, and you can’t with that bat.”

“We’ll see about that.”

“Take your best shot.”

“Oh, I will.”

“You’re a bitch.”

The creature laughed and began to sing. “Dave is a bitch. Dave is a bitch. Punk ass, pussy ass bitch!”

Harv returned with the bat. It was heavy and wooden. Dave took it. “Alright,” he said. “Stand back.”

The creature smiled as Dave approached and raised the bat. “Make my day, asshole.”

The bat crashed down.

The creature’s head exploded. Skull and brain fragments sprayed Dave’s face. Dave opened his hitherto closed eyes. The monster’s head was a splattered mess.

It didn’t move.

“I think it’s dead,” he said.

Harv sounded relieved. “Thank G…”

In the mess, something moved.

“The fuck?”

“What?”

Bone and brain fell away, and, to Dave’s unending horror, a pink, slug like thing emerged. “Holy shit!” he screamed.

“What?”

The thing was roughly six inches long and smooth. On what Dave took to be its head, two antennae quivered and worked.

He had the unsettling feeling that the slug was looking at him.

“You gotta…”

The creature sprang forward, launching itself into the air. Screaming, Dave ducked, and watched in horror as it hit Harv square in the face. “Jesus Christ, Harvey!”

In a flash, the thing disappeared into Harvey’s nose. He screamed, danced back, pounding at his own face, and fell. Dave threw himself at his brother and collapsed at his side. “Harvey!”

Harvey screeched in agony as the thing bore into his brain. He jerked, writhed, and sputtered, his eyes turning red and his face losing its color. Dave was petrified. He tried to hold him down, but he was too strong. He looked helplessly around. There had to be something, something he could jam up his brother’s nose and get the slug.

Harvey fell still.

Dave looked down at him. His eyes were closed, his lips slightly parted. “Harv?” he asked, shaking his shoulder.

Nothing.

“You okay?” he asked, his heart pounding.

Finally, Harv’s eyes opened.

They were black.

“Shit!” Dave spat, falling back. Harv sat up, rolled his neck, and looked directly at Dave. “Told you….”

Dave screamed and struggled back to his feet. The bat was lying halfway under the table, where he dropped it. He snatched it up, and, without hesitating, slammed it into the Harvey-thing’s arm with a sickening crack. The thing toppled over, spasmed, and began getting back to its feet. Dave brought the bat down onto its back, once, twice, three times, hoping to break its spine. Maybe if Harv couldn’t walk, or use his arm, the thing would go in search of another host. Out in the open, he could kill it.

For a long moment, Harv didn’t move. Dave stood at the ready. The slug didn’t appear either.

Fuck this, he decided. His phone was in the Silverado. If he could get to it, he’d call the cops, or the army, or someone.

“I’ll be back,” he said…to his brother, not the thing.

The rest of the building was dark and quiet, and Dave imagined other things in the shadows.

Outside, the wind had picked up and become even colder. Dave fought his way to the street, but before he reached the truck, something stopped him.

He looked up.

Things moved in the sky, obscuring the stars. They were large, he saw, massive, in fact, black and trimmed with bright running lights. Planes, he thought, but no; they didn’t look like any planes he’d ever seen before. Boxlike in dimensions, long, wide, and square.

“The invasion’s begun,” the Harvey-thing said from behind him.

    END

Joseph Rubas is the author of over 200 short stories and several novels. His work has appeared in: Nameless Digest; The Horror Zine; All Due Respect; Thuglit, and many others. He currently resides in Florida.

   

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facebookJoin the Fan Club!

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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.

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Route 44- David John Wing

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Enhance your coffee

Route 44 – David John Wing

We’d heard a few stories along the way, you do. Travel the country as much as my wife and I and you hear all sorts of things, sometimes you see them too.

A few years ago the kids left home. College and work saw them off to different ends of the country and as we’d retired, we thought we’d give travel a go. We’d saved well – the kids, Jane and Mark were successful in their own rights and short of any disasters; our money was ours to do with as we pleased.

We cleared out the house (heirlooms and sentimental items went to storage) and put it on the rental market – then took the cars to the local dealership. We came out well and sporting a beige, 2008 Winnebago. It had everything you could imagine and then some. A short course in truck driving and we were off. No particular direction. Jean was about to turn sixty and I’d passed that mark a little ways back, so we put the motorhome in drive and took a left out the driveway and onto the highway.

The years went by, mostly without incident. We got the occasional flat – one nearly saw us flat too, but Jean always did have quick reactions and we survived to tell the tale. We picked up the occasional hitch-hiker, mostly nice folk – mostly. We saw the landscape change a hundred different ways and then a hundred more. The ‘Winnie’ just kept on ticking. Once in a while we changed the oil, every now and then a sparkplug. Mostly things went fine.  

The kids didn’t like the idea of their ‘olds’ hippying around the country, but we made sure to check in whenever we stopped and that calmed them some.

New England was where things changed.  

We’d been ‘on the road’ for a few years when I guess my eyes started to play up. I swear I saw them though – birds, giant black ones, must have been twelve/thirteen feet tip to tip, like pterodactyls screeching from the sky. I’d had to swerve to miss them and hit a tree. Jean got a cut on her head and a concussion. The kids begged us to stop travelling, but Jean was adamant. The doctors said it was a cataract in my right eye. It would cause problems from now on and Jean would have to drive at night, I could still see fine in the day.

We spent the next few nights stationary. Despite what she said, I knew Jean was a little nervous. My eyes and my story both disturbed her. She listened attentively, but shy of actually seeing black, flying monsters coming straight for you, it’s difficult to believe on faith, even if that faith is based on a fifty year marriage.

The map placed us not far south of Boston. We drove by the local Walmart and re-stocked the cabinets. The shower needed a new head, the camera a new battery and we were all out of hot-pockets. Jean found me a nice pair of slacks with elastic around the waist. She said it was the new style, but I caught the label that read ‘maternity’ and saw a wry smile on the face of the cashier when I paid. No matter, they were comfy and those hot-pockets needed to go somewhere.

I backed us out of the parking lot and we turned onto route 44 towards Rehoboth.

We’d been travelling for a few miles when the engine started to chug.

“What’s happening?” asked Jean.

I glanced at the display, the gas gauge read zero.

“Uh, technical issue” I replied.

“Gas?”

“Gas.”

I pulled us off the highway and into a service station nearby. The ‘Winnie’ jerked and threw us to a stop by the pumps. I stepped out to stretch my legs while Jean took advantage of the novelty of peeing in a stationary position, although her sea-legs were well and truly established some years back.     

The attendant started the pump and asked me where we were headed.

“Nowhere in particular, just going forward.”

He hummed in agreement. I thought I sensed a little jealously too.

“You know anything about this area?”

I shook my head.

“Na, we’re from California, but we’ve been all over.”

“Not here though.”

“No” I repeated. He was being a little ‘off’, I thought.

The pump hit forty bucks and just kept going.

“Look, you seem nice, so I’m gonna tell ya.”

I cocked my heard, waiting for the local knowledge to flow from his lips.

“Don’t pick anyone up around here.”

“OK?”

“No, I mean it! Just don’t and if something happens, stay in the vehicle. It’s best that way.”

I looked the boy square in the eyes, he was serious so I gave him the slow nod, to show I understood, even though I didn’t and wished the ‘Winnie’ would drink her fill and we could go.

Jean came back from the bathroom and we turned back onto the 44.

“You OK dear?” she asked me, rightly concerned, so I told her about the boy at the service station. She made the “oooo” noise and we laughed.

The weather began to turn. What had started a nice, clear day now threatened rain. The sky paled to grey and the windscreen wipers took over.

“Maybe I should drive?” Jean asked.

I turned and slightly nodded in agreement. It isn’t easy to get old and accept it.

I pulled in; we swapped positions and hit the road again. Taking advantage of the stop, I threw a ‘pocket’ in the microwave and set it to 3 minutes.

The traffic began to thin. Lights only seemed to be heading towards us. Then the Winnie jerked again. I fell against the sofa, luckily and grabbed onto the table top.

“Jean?”

“I’m OK, Mark, a flat I think.”

We pulled up off the highway, on a quiet side the high-beams showing with trees and embankments on either side.

The microwave dinged.

“You have a bite, Dear, I’ll do the manly stuff.”

Jean smiled but said nothing. I grabbed the jack and my windbreaker and stepped into the drizzly rain. It was coming east to west and whipped against my face something nasty. I pulled the hood over my head and grabbed the spare from the back. It was the rear right tyre that had shredded. Must have been a piece of glass or a stray nail somewhere back on the 44. I put the travel light on the road and angled it at the tyre.

The nuts came off slowly. This happened to be the only tire that hadn’t blown since we’d left California, so much so we had a nick name for it.

Jean called from the door, holding the ‘hot-pocket’, minus a few bites.

“How is it?”

I looked up and yelled back over an increasingly vicious wind.

“Its ‘old reliable’, he’s done for.”

Jean let out what I think was a sigh, but it seemed to come from somewhere beyond her and she closed the door. I carried on turning the nuts. The last one dropped and rolled under the wheel arch. I shook my head, put the wrench on the floor and reached under. I couldn’t see anything. I flashed the light around and saw it was all but dead centre, right under the Winnie and a full crawl away.

I huffed and began the shuffle forward.

I’d just about reached the nut when I felt something. Or, I heard it. I can’t be sure. I turned and flashed the light left and right, then all around -nothing.

Crawling back out, I switched out ‘old reliable’ and the spare and tightened the nuts in place. Just as I twisted the last one I saw something in my periphery. My hood fell back in a gust and there he stood, some way beyond the Winnie’s low-beams, just standing there.

He was tall, with a red flannel shirt and an almost red glow around his face. I called out; surprised Jean hadn’t seen him and let me know.

“HEY! You OK?”

No response.

“You need a lif…”

I stopped and remembered what the service attendant had said. I’m not usually suspicious or nervous, but something in the weather was having an effect on me.

He started moving towards me.

I rolled the flat towards the door, opened it and shoved the tyre inside, slamming the door shut and locking it.

Jean jumped.

“What’s going on? I heard you yelling something.”

I jumped into the passenger seat and flicked the low’s to high. The blacktop reflected in the rain, empty.

I thrust my head forward and stared, looking all around – nothing.

“Mark, really, what’s going on?”

I couldn’t help by just stare.

I shook my head.

“It’s nothi…”

There was a knock on the door and the pair of us jerked in our seats.

Jean laughed a little and then made to answer it.

“NO! Don’t!”

Jean looked at me, alarmed.

“Mark?”

“I mean it, Jean, Just drive!”

There was another knock at the door.

“DRIVE!”

Jean turned the starter, shoved the Winnie into first and took off.

We’d gotten around fifteen miles down the road when Jean slowed to a stop and turned off the engine.

“What was all that about?”

I just kept staring forward.

“Mark!”

I turned towards Jean. She could see the alarm in my eyes and softened her face. I didn’t want to say, but after the birds and the boy at the service station I felt I had no choice. She listened, she always does. I told her about the feeling I had, about the man in the flannel, about the red.

Jean put her hand on my arm. I really think she would never have taken it away if it weren’t for the laugh. It came from behind and then it came from in front and then it was all around. The motor-home began to shake and the lights in the cabin flickered off. Jeans light, reassuring hold on my arm became a desperate clench.

“Mark? What is that?”

I shook my head and stood up. We swapped seats and I turned the starter – nothing, not even a whine. I kept twisting the key until I dreaded the thought I might snap it and stopped. Then the laugh disappeared and fell into the distance. The cabin lights came back on and radio blared into life.

Jean and I damn near shot through the roof. I reached over to turn it off but just as I touched the switch the music stopped and the laughing started again.

It ran all around the cabin, through the speakers and under our skin. My hair shot from my arms and Jean screamed!

I’ve never heard something so natural and terrifying in equal measure.  

The high-beams shot forward and there he stood, staring.

His face shone red and his eyes seemed to match.

I frantically twisted and turned the key. Nothing happened, but the speakers grew louder. The laugh began to echo Jean’s scream and I fell back into the seat.

The laughter stopped.

I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He got closer and closer, but I couldn’t see him walking and then came the knock. Jean’s eyes pleaded with me. I turned the starter – nothing.

Don’t ask me why, I don’t know, but I just felt I had to. I stood up and moved towards the door. Jean held my arm for a second and then released it, accepting.

I unlocked it and took a step back. The door clicked and the door swung open slowly. In a moment, there he stood, his beard a vicious red, but almost transparent. I could see the dark world beyond him, and then the door slammed shut.

We awoke some time later. The Winnie sat idling at the side of the road, the motor running and the radio playing. We were alone and nearly one hundred miles further into New England.

I reached over and held Jean as tight as I could. The dawn was beginning to rise when we saw the birds in the distance. Jean wept and so did I.

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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.

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Get Book of Horrors II for FREE

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It’s the month of Halloween, and the second installment of the Book of Horror series has finally arrived. This anticipated horror anthology features ten terrifying tales of absolute horror. Blackmouth by Alessandro Martinez opens with a gruesome short of body deformation with H.P. Lovecraft undertones, while The Valley of Sex by Joseph Rubas delves even deeper into the lovecraftian influence. The Woman in Red by B Thomas explores the dark mystery of Jack the Ripper, while The Adler Street Boarding House by Kelly Evans offers a unique perspective on the infamous lady killer.

Book of Horrors II is available on Amazon and can be read on Amazon Kindle or any device that supports the Kindle Reader app. For those interested in a print copy, Book of Horrors II will be the first Deadman’s Tome anthology available in print later this year. The digital copy is cheaper and delivers a dose of horror at the click of a button.

Want a free copy? Well, tweet me (@MrDeadmanDT) with #BookofHorrors and you might win a free copy of the Book of Horrors II

Book of Horrors II Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LEDODIQ

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The Boy in the Trunk – Nicola Lombardi

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 The Boy in the Trunk – Nicola Lombardi

Paolo was sitting on the stool, slightly bent over, right opposite the trunk. A ray of milky-white light filtered through the skylight’s murky glass, exposing the swarms of dust, otherwise invisible, drifting thickly through the attic. Around Paolo’s heavy breathing everything was dead quiet, a quiet that resided there above and was now lingering in the dim shadows, waiting for the voice from inside the trunk to be heard again.

When it returned, the spider webs abandoned among the beams above vibrated as if trembling.

“Are you still out there?”

Paolo was startled, almost as if he hadn’t expected to hear his brother once more.

“Yeah, Marino,” he replied anxiously, “I’m still here. And you . . . do you really want to get out?”

The tiny voice of the boy imprisoned inside seemed to originate from another room, as if the trunk were bottomless, as if it had been sunk deep into the floor and been lost in a dimension that extended well beyond the old house.

“I can’t do it by myself, you know. You left me shut up inside here, and you have to get me out. If you really want to . . . .

Paolo drew his hand through his hair. “I . . . I want to let you let out, Marino, believe me. It’s just that . . . “

“It’s just that what?”

“I’m afraid of what you could do to me.”

Still more silence, for a moment or two. The leaden beating, in fits and starts, of Paolo’s heart made his head ache.

When Marino spoke again, Paolo could not hold back his tears any more.

“You knew I was hiding inside here, you knew it very well. But you didn’t tell anyone about it. You always cheated when we were playing hide-and-seek. You spied on me when I was climbing up into the attic, you knew I’d shut myself up inside here. . . . And you didn’t tell Mom and Dad. Why didn’t you?”

Paolo could not manage a reply. The tight knot clotting his throat prevented him from uttering a sound, while his mind was already casting backwards, fumbling through his memories, to the day when Marino’s disappearance from the great vacation house had imposed a drastic turn to their family’s well-being. He could still hear his mother’s wailing, and behind his eyes that image of his father persisted even then, with that gaze of his lost in emptiness and his finger intent on endlessly scouring an unshaven cheek. He saw himself, over and over again, as he closed and locked the attic door and carefully replaced that key in the spot where they had always kept it, in the small bottom drawer in the cupboard, in the hallway. They were playing hide-and-seek he had told his Mom, his Dad, and all the other persons who had questioned him. Marino had wandered off toward the brushwood, a hundred meters or so from the house, going back up along the beach, hiding who knows where. So he had said, and they had believed him. He knew that Marino would not have yelled or called out, suffering as he was from asthma. And after days of searching, days steeped in tears and grief, they finally got away from there, returned to the city, and from then on, they never set foot again into that quiet, solitary, mournful house, the home of their summer vacations. What he had always wanted, he had at last obtained. He was back to being the only son, he had recaptured all that love and attention his brother, four years younger than he, had taken from him. Mom and Dad were once again his.

“Come on, Paolo. Let me out of here.”

Marino’s voice was now just a whisper, the gray wing of a moth that snatched Paolo from a spider web of memories.

“Yeah, I’ll do it, Marino. . . . That’s what I’ve come back for.”

Having said that, Paolo grabbed the heavy metal hinge that, having fallen in place, had made it impossible to re-open the trunk from the inside. After a life spent consumed by remorse, he was now finally ready to take the step he had never ceased dreaming about.

The metal began to creak, for the first time since that accursed day sixty years before. When the lock was released, Paolo’s spine experienced an agonizing rasp as he straightened his back.

“There,” he whispered. “Now you’re free once again.”

Then he lowered his head, burying his face in his hands. He knew he would not have the courage to look.

Barely a handful of seconds elapsed, and then the groan of the trunk’s lid rising cut through the quiet like the chalky grinding of a dull razor, raising shadows among the frenzied thoughts thrashing about in Paolo’s head. The old man prayed for his heart to spare him, to stop right then and there. But that didn’t happen.

A terrible odor spewed forth into the attic, and whatever remained of Marino began slowly to emerge.

 

(END)

translated by J. Weintraub

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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.

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Homeless – John W. Twilley

 

I returned home from a hard day of begging for change.  A bottle of cheap whiskey cost $6.99 from the corner liquor store.  An old cigar off the sidewalk completed my needs for the day. The cheap piece of crap burned my throat, but kept my lungs full of warm smoke.

It rained shit, icy stuff that clings to your jacket and pants, and soaks in.  On the street for any length of time, you realize winter kills.  Walking-pneumonia is what I had.  This would be my last cold week. I had a cardboard box used to package a washing machine.  It still had the plastic foam supports, or it would have collapsed from the weight of snow.

I could not remember my name.  My past was crystal clean.

It was near December, I guess.  People went back and forth in the slush of parking lots.  They carried bigger packages than usual. Colored decorations hung from streetlights.  I expected to find my box in the old familiar alley.  It was there, but so was a problem.  Up ahead three tough young men had a young girl cornered.  They had removed her clothes.  When she tried to get away, a knife flashed.  A tiny wound appeared.

I might have been in good shape once but my body had since lost any semblance of muscle.  I just stood there helpless.

I watched as they toyed with her.  She had light green hair that glowed.  Her pubic hair was the same color.  Each young man took her how he wanted with a certain careful pleasure.  They wanted her to put out a maximum effort so they beat her.  It took a long time.  Loss of blood and sheer exhaustion caused her to collapse on pile of trash.  They used her up, and she died with a last breath of white vapor but the heaviest fellow pulled a knife out and stabbed her several times to make sure.

They came up the alley towards me after finishing the girl.

“Hey Ripper,” said one of the young men.

“What do you want, Bob,” said the other young man.

“This bum has seen everything,” said Ripper. “You think maybe he would give us trouble?”

“Give him the knife,” said a third young man.  “He looks like a murdering pervert.  We’ll give him the part.”

Ripper placed his knife in my hand.  I held it out like a moron so he could place it there, kind of like a handshake.  You are an experienced salesman, and you know to hold out your hand.  The customer holds his out from an instinctual reaction.  Now you are shaking hands.  Now I had a knife in my hand.

Ripper said, “My God, Jack, you’re a genius.”

After a moment of shock, I realized my fingerprints on the knife would incriminate me.  It dropped out of my hand.

The young men left the alley laughing and joking with each other.  It was quiet then.  Only the cold wind spoke to me whistling above the glowing snow.

I could not stay in the washer box now.  Just the same, I went up the alley to the girl.  She was covered in blood from the many knife stabs.

Her eyes were wet with tears.  Her nipples stood out hard frozen in the cold.  I took off my coat and threw it over her nakedness.  With walking pneumonia, you do not notice the cold even in the high wind.  I did not need it, though she did not need it either.

I had my whiskey.  I thumbed the plastic cap until the paper seal broke.  The cap fell to the snow.  It made a little gray hole.  I upended the bottle.  The warmth spread from my stomach.  Euphoria puffed out into my head.  My eyes got cold.  I sat near the body to rest a moment before I headed back down the alley to search for a new home.

It came to me, that the bottle was almost finished, and so was I.  The whiskey held me in place.  By morning, I would be dead.  I must have dozed off because the coat on the girl was now covered in snow, as though the whole thing had never happened, disappeared under a pile of white cotton.

“Get up, you old fart!”

I looked up, and there she stood.  She was still naked, but the wounds had dried.

“I got unfinished business, ass hole!!!”

“I’m dying,” I said.

“Yah, yah,” she said.  “You still got two legs and a wiener. So get on your feet!”

“The wiener died a long time ago,” I said, “and as for my legs,…”  They were frozen.

“I’ll haunt your ass till you,…”

I started to laugh.

“Stop it!”

I looked up at her, “How’s it feel to be dead?”

“You’ll know soon enough, old man,” she said. “Guess you don’t have much to live for.”

It was true.  I held up what was left of the whiskey.

She smirked.

“That’s right, you’re dead,” I said. “Guess I’ll have to finish it myself.” I did.

“Guess my last hope is a dying bum,” she said.  She sat down across from me in the alley.  “You like that stuff, don’t you?”

“I never got Jesus either,” I said.  I smiled at her.

“There’s another full bottle of whiskey over there near my body,” she said.  “You want it?”

My smile fell off.

She grinned.

“Don’t suppose you’d care to get it?” I said.

She winked at me. “I’m a ghost.  I can’t grab anything, but I can tell you where stuff is.  I can even tell you about other things too.”

“Like what?”

She said, “Why don’t you crawl over there and get your whiskey.  We can talk then.”

I took a great effort to reason, that for another drink, I was willing to bend over and drag my legs to the corpse for the bottle.  Time passed as I clawed at the snow, then I got a bright idea.  I pulled my right leg up and discovered it still worked, even though it was numb. Eventually, I was up on my knees.

“You can do it!” she said.

A moment later, I was back on my feet with legs like boards.  I shuffled along until I got near the coat.

“Don’t,” she said.  “In the last minute, I got my money put away.  There’s no booze, just a bunch of money.  I rolled it up tight and put it up my ass.  It’s enough for a month of whiskey.  You have to get to the liquor store and thaw out to enjoy it.”

“Shit!” I cried.  “I can’t bend over.  I’ll snap off like a dried branch.”

“Fall on the soft snow,” she said.

I did.  The snow was not soft.  I was thinking about the next drink now.  I reached under the stiff coat.  Her cold body was there taught like a piece of furniture.

“Go ahead,” she said.  “You can’t hurt me now.”

I pulled the coat away and exposed a stiff blued body. I was still able to turn her over.  I used my left hand and pushed my fingers between the cheeks of her behind. She was still warm up in there.  My hand went all the way in.

“The money is up in there,” she said.  “It’ll be pushed up deep since one of those fellas gave me a cum enema.”

The smell was bad in spite of the cold.  I did get my fingers around the money.  When I pulled it out there was nasty stuff.  I cleaned it off the best I could on the coat.  I used melted snow to wipe the rest on her clothes.  “Sorry about that.”

“I don’t need them now,” she said.  “Go get your new bottle of whiskey.  On the way, I’m gonna tell you what you can do for me.  You’ll need some clothes too.”

I thought more about the whiskey.  I just nodded.  I was pulled along by the taste of my next drink.

It was still bright at night.  The day had dragged into an evening.  The moon rose above the gray yellow sky with the grief wind freezing the heavens.  I walked on brittle legs with feet made of pillows.

The liquor store, as I remember it, was not far away. The girl got in front of me so I could not see it.  I tried to walk around her.  She kept in front of me.

“Get across the street.  The drugstore is on the corner.  You need medicine!”

“Crap!”

“You need medicine!” she said, “If you don’t get some, then you’ll have a heart attack before you get to the liquor store.”

She was right.  Once, back in my feeble memory, I could remember being a doctor.  I knew I needed to get the fever down.  I needed rest.  I needed a warm place.  But medicine?

A thousand years later, I crossed the street with the walk-light.  Vehicles honked at me.  Never mind that I was dying.  They had places to go, shopping to finish before Santa arrived, and no patience for a bum like me.

I was barely able to get my breath when I reached the other side.  I staggered into the drugstore.  As I made my way back toward the pharmacy, the proprietor intercepted me.  The ghost girl told me to tell him I was sick and needed lots aspirin.  He called the police instead.  A scared teenaged clerk kept me at bay until the police arrived.

The police dragged me out of the drug store.  One of them accidently kicked in my side while he dropped me several times on the way to the squad car.

More of the same treatment got me into the emergency room.  A doctor examined me and explained I was dying.  He could give me a shot to relieve the pain.

I lay down to rest.  I felt a hundred percent better.

“You’ll die, and I’ll never finish my business!”

“I didn’t get my whisky either,” I said, “and it’s a fucked up world, isn’t it?”

“We got business,” she said.  “Let’s get your drink.” “I’m tired,” I said.  “It’d be better if you gave up on me.  I’d like to die in peace.”

“Without a drink?”

I thought about that.

“Crap,” I said, “you’re right.”

She smiled.

My world warmed a little, but then, she was a dead person.

I rolled out of bed. “Where too?”

“Out the entrance.  You’ll need clothes.  Next door there’s an old man asleep.  He’s dying too.  Get his clothes.  Nobody will care.”

I pulled the curtain back.  Sure enough, there were some clothes folded over a chair.  I put them on.  The belt was a little tight.  The old guy did not seem to notice.

“Get on the move!  The doctor is coming!”

I slipped out into the corridor and headed for the lobby.  I could feel my feet again.  Some energy had returned to my step.  It felt like I had a few more drinks to go before the finish.

I went outside through the revolving doors.  The old man’s shoes were better than I was used too.  His jacket was insulated.  I felt half-presentable for the first time in my miserable life.

“Keep it going!”

There was a taxi nearby.  She told me to wave my hand. I did.

The Taxi rolled up.  A power window went down.  “Where to?”

She told me.

Fifth Street Apartments,” I said.

“Get in,” said the driver.

The taxi pulled away.  I had not been in an automobile for as long as I could remember.

I was obliged to give up some of the stinking money when we arrived at the apartments.  The taxi driver looked at me strangely.  He dangled the fifty as though it might be alive.

I ignored the expression on the driver’s face as I got out into the cold wind.  He held his nose.  “Damn!” he said.  “I don’t know if I can spend this money.”

“Head for the left hand apartments,” said the girl. “Jack lives there. He’ll have booze and aspirin, but first we’ve got to get in.”

“Is Jack a generous person,” I said.

“No,” she said, “that’s the reason you are going to make a little stop along the way.”

“A stop?” I said.

She said, “Just a little further.  Jack’s apartment is about three more doors.”

“He’s one of the guys who raped you?” I said.

“Yup,” said the ghost, ”you can stay here and freeze. Or, keep going and get your drink.”

“Okay,” I said, ”now what.”

“Look down.  You’ll see some aluminum retainers. Next to it is a piece of rebar used to hold it in place. It’s loose.  Just pull it out.”

I did.  There was about a foot of rebar with a nasty point on one end.

I did not like this, “I’m not a murderer!”

“You’re dead already, or you will be,” she said.  ”What difference does it make.  There’s a bottle on the other side of the door.  Just goose him with it.  He won’t die. You’ll get drunk.”

“Just goose him?” I said.

“Yah,” she said, ”he’ll have to run to the emergency room, the one you just came from, while you’re drinking his booze.”

“That’s kinda funny,” I said.

She thought so too.

I went to Jack’s apartment door and knocked.  A half minute later, he answered the door.  For an old alcoholic I was fast.  I rammed the rebar right up his pee hole before he could react to my own watery-eyed fright.  He was big.  I was scared.  He was as surprised as I was, and hesitated a fraction of a second.

He backed into the apartment and looked at the rebar that stuck out where his dick should be.  He made noises like he was about to cry.  Nothing came out for a moment, then he let out a bellow of pain.  The noise was deafening.

I looked for his booze in the kitchen.  There was no bar.  The girl had lied.  “Where is it?”

“Check the backroom,” she said.

There was white stuff on the dining table.  She wrote her name in the dust while Jack watched.  It spelled out, “NICKY” in rough capitals.  He yelled again.

After I checked the back room, I was truly frustrated.

“He must have run out,” she shrugged.  Her boobs shook.  “He’s not going to the hospital.  Instead, he’ll call the police.  You better stop him so he won’t use the phone.”

I covered that eventuality with a quick tug on his rebar.  He did some more yelling.

“I yanked out the line,” I said.  “Now he can’t phone anybody.”

Jack was up and moved like he could read Nicky’s mind. I kicked his rebar so it put a stop to his plans pretty fast.

More screams, then I dragged him into the bedroom. There were some tools.  He was strong and frightened into superhuman strength.  Somehow, I managed to get a pair of pliers past his teeth.  I had the tongue out quicker than you can say, “Get em!”  I slammed my knee cap up into his chin at the same time.

“Boom!” I said, “He’ll make no more calls on the phone.  Let’s get out of here.  I need a drink.”

“They’ll catch you, damn it!” she said, “knock him out or he’ll make a lot of noise!”

Jack was bleeding everywhere.  He would pass out, but I took a baseball trophy from his dresser and chased him around.  Then he flapped his hands at me to defend himself. I got him on the back when he turned to run.  Must have knocked something lose just above his butt crack because he let out another holler.

“I think I broke his back,” I said.

“My hero,” said Nicky.

“Do you have any idea what my name is, Nicky,” I said. “I just started to get what you said earlier about being able to tell me things.  I’ve been homeless for a long time.  It’d be nice to know before I die.”

“Fuck no!” she said, “Right now, I only know about useful stuff. Let’s get out of here.  He’s not going anywhere, so we’re done.”

Jack began to cry softly to himself.  I did not have any sympathy for him.  He must have hidden the booze somewhere clever.  I opened the front door.  Cold night air wafted in at me.

Outside I felt used.  “If I don’t get a drink, I’m not helping you to get anymore revenge.”

“A deal?” she said.

“I guess so,” I said.

She said, “We’ll head for the bar up the street.  You look good enough to be acceptable there.  You can get a drink.  My treat!”

“Okay,” I said, “point the way.”

“Just follow my naked hinny, you old pervert,” she said.

“I can’t touch a ghost.” I said.

“When you’re dead, I’ll suck you off,” she said.

“Why did they have to kill you,” I said. “You double-cross somebody?”

She thought about what I said.  She continued to walk while I looked at her dead ass.  Even to an old man without life in the old hot rod I was still aroused in my mind. She stopped and turned back to face me.

“They were my bosses, like pimps but I was a drug connection.  The drugs flowed until I decided to ask for a promotion.”

“So the stuff in the alley was meant to send a message to the other company,” I said.  “You planned to double cross your bosses?”

“They thought I might start some rough competition, and I would have,” she said.  “There would have been a war.”

“It’s a bad world,” I said. ”Can’t you just leave it behind?”

She smiled evilly. “I’ll go to hell when I’m ready. These guys are gonna go first so I won’t be bored when I get there.”

“Never thought of hell as boring,” I said.  “I’m not sure it even exists.”

“It does,” she said, “and you’ll be better off doing what I tell you.”

“I don’t see any bar up ahead,” I said, ”and this is another one of your lies, isn’t it.”

She turned and walked backwards in front of me, “Follow the street sign to fifty-one twenty.  It’s a house.  It’ll be another guy.  His name is Ripper.  He likes to think of himself as dangerous.  He’s asleep right now.  Get in the back door.  There’s a key under the mat. He snores real loud.  It’ll be easy!”

Sure enough, it was easy to get into the back door. I came through the kitchen.  There was a real sharp knife on the table.  Nicky pointed at the table illuminated by the moonlight.  A really big handgun rested there next to the knife.  I started to protest.  She looked at me oddly, then stepped aside further.

There, on the table, next to a gun, was a bottle of red brandy shouting at me to come get some.

Nicky stepped in front of it again, then she stepped aside and glared straight at me.

Okay, so the bitch wanted me to off the bad boy in the bedroom.  I went to the gun and then went around the corner to the bedroom.  He was not in bed.  I heard a tiny exhale behind me.

Next thing, I’m trapped in a dark bedroom with a gun barrel touching my nose.

“I got an Uzi,” said Ripper.  His voice sounded like Jehovah.  He probably had muscles on his tongue.  “You got my magnum.  It’s okay.  I got the cartridges.  You might have one bullet though.”

I did not speak.

“I’m gonna turn on the lights in a moment,” he said. “You can pull the trigger all you want.  I’ll do the same. Bunch of bullets will come at you.  They’ll cut your legs off.  Then we’ll have some fun.  Okay?”

I opened the feed on the magnum with the tip of my finger and felt an empty hole.  No bullet!

“I’ll count to three,” he said.  “Ready?”

I rolled the cylinder until there was a tiny click. I felt with the tip of my finger, and found an empty hole, then rolled again,…

“One,” he said.

I rolled again.

“Two,” he boomed.

Another empty.

“Three!” he cried.  And, the lights came on!

I thumbed the cylinder.  I pulled the trigger.  There was a click.

He was huge.  There was no Uzi, just a big cock sucking wrestler type boy looking down at me.  He had a pencil eraser on my nose.  I popped the next trigger pull and caused the cylinder to turn, and there was a bullet in the chamber.  The gun exploded fire.  He twirled around, “God damn!”

I started for the kitchen, but he caught me, and slammed me up against the wall.  “Who are you?”

There was steam on the mirror between the kitchen and the hallway.  It caused the moon light to cast upon the table where the red brandy sat.

In capital letters on the mirror, I could see a word printed there backwards.  On the table it spelled NICKY in red.

He laughed at the word printed there.  “Are you haunted?”  He was bleeding high on his left shoulder.  It was a flesh wound, something his terribly muscled body almost ignored like a mosquito bite.

I nodded.

“Fuck,” he said, “I knew the bitch was trouble the first time I saw her.  Now she’s after my ass with a lame old fart who steals my own gun?”

I nodded.

“You want a drink, don’t you?” he said.

I nodded.

He rammed his fist deep into my belly up into my rib cage so my heart almost burst.  I fell to the floor.  While I was gasping, he went to the dining table and opened the bottle.  I watched with bloodshot eyes.

“Don’t give up,” said Nicky.  “He’s got bad habits. He’ll turn his back on you.”

I was out of wind.  I saw spots.  When I regained some of my lung power, I was more thinking of escape than coming at Ripper’s back.

After he drank half the brandy, wrestling boy made some phone calls.

I propped myself up against the wall into a sitting position.  It was the same situation from earlier today or last night maybe.  My memory is real bad.  I was dying. The way of it had changed though.

Ripper came back into the living room. “Jack will be over later this evening.  You remember him, the one you jammed with rebar and ripped out his tongue.  He’s looking forward to meeting you again.  He wants to give you back your rebar and let you have his baseball trophy.”

“Nicky made me do it,” I said.

“The other company made you do it,” Ripper said. “They put a hit on us.”

“Jack wrote a note in the emergency room.  They called Bob as a contact.  Jack said it was an old man bout like you,” said Ripper.  “A real professional.”

“I’m not from another company,” I said.  “I’ve been waiting for you.  I went over to Jack’s place.  I saw the steam on the mirror.  It’s the same trick in the blow on my kitchen table.  He had to write out his story for Bob to read at the hospital because you ripped his tongue out with pliers.”

“She’s real,” I said.  “She said she’s gonna send you all to hell so when she get’s there she won’t be bored.”

Ripper laughed.  “Does sound like Nicky.”

“She’s real,” I said.  “She told me how to get here.”

“Well,” he said.  “You won’t have to search for Bob. He’s on the way.  We’ll all have a big séance.  Meanwhile, you and I can get acquainted.”

Getting acquainted had to do with Ripper showing me how he got his name.  He stripped my left foot, and took my toes in each hand, then almost tore my foot in half with his bare hands.  If I had had my usual load of drinks, the process would be dulled.  While I cradled my agony, he talked about the evening festivities to come.

“We’ve decided not to kill you.  It’s a good bet we could make this fun last for at least a week.  I’ve even got a doctor who will make sure it lasts.”

“Wasted time,” I said through the pain.  “She’s got plans to get you all together.  I don’t know how I fit into this.  You should be asking me questions instead of torturing me.”

“Oh, well,” said Ripper, “we’ll do that too!”

“Idiot!” I said.  Hell!  I was almost sober.  “Don’t you see what she’s doing?”

He stomped on my mangled foot.  It popped and crackled as he ground upon it with his full weight.  I almost lost consciousness.  The pain was astronomical.  If I thought to scream it would be an eternal sound going on forever, my last one, but I did not have energy for it. I hissed air at him.

Hours later Bob arrived. He was like Ripper’s twin. They discussed the long-term outlines of my education of pain.  A little later, the doctor arrived.  He examined me and gave me another shot to relieve the pain in my foot.

“You’ll need to proceed with more caution and thoughtfulness, otherwise he may expire too soon,” said the doctor.

“Jack will be here in about an hour,” said Bob. “He’s a mess.”

“What about Nicky?” said the doctor. “You finished that bitch?”

“She’s history,” said Ripper. “The old man here is from the competition.  He’s some kind of company hitter.  We’ll need to make another example.  Want to fuck up an old man?”

The doctor made a face.  “I wish you had saved me a piece of Nicky.  I always miss out on the good stuff.”

“Old man says she’s a ghost,” said Ripper.  “She’s come back and forced him to avenge her.”

More time passed.  I could try to swallow my tongue or maybe make a fast crawl for a window?

“Crap!  It’s Jack.  He’s comin in on a fuckin wheel chair,” said Bob.  He headed for the front door.

They all visited until drinks got passed around.  A girl showed up to help with refreshments.  She looked a lot like Nicky.  She winked at me.

“Needles,” said the doctor.  “We could have a lot of fun with them.  I’ve got some neat instruments too, that you won’t believe.”

“I’ll heat up some silverware in the fireplace,” said Ripper.  “One of the last things we do will be to pop those eyes with a hot wire.  Ought to hurt like a mother.”

Bob said, “We’ll limber him up by busting all his joints to start with.  Every time he yells we’ll all cheer. Okay?”  Everyone agreed.  It was to be a fun evening.  More girls arrived.  One of them suggested they get to go to work on my private parts, but Jack wanted that for himself. The others would hold me down.

The doctor got started with his needles first.  He unpacked his stuff in front of me.

Bob and Ripper tied my wrists to either side of the couch arms.  My legs were spread out.  He had acids, poisons, and chemicals.  These would work by degrees to create a suite of nasty sensations.  He had various probes he would use to put pressure on my nerves.  The worst were the tiny thumbscrews and vices of various sizes.

Early in the evening, the doctor went to work.  My toes were crushed one by one as he pushed up my pain threshold, then he gave me a pain shot, then he went on to destroy the next toe.  My screams bored the boys after a while.  My feet bled like hamburger.  Something remarkable happened as Ripper was getting another bottle of brandy.

The doctor slipped and cut his hand, as he was ready to nip away the nail of my big toe.  The idea had been to nip each one off and dry me up to keep me from losing too much blood in the process, thus I lasted longer for my next tormentor.  My toe was not anesthetized, so it was quite painful, and there was no shot forthcoming.

“Impossible,” said the doctor.

“So you, a doctor, cut your own fucking finger,” said Bob. “I’ll get you a band aid.”

“You don’t understand,” said the doctor. “I cut myself with my own scalpel.”

Bob looked at him like he was insane.  “Well, duh!”

Then the doctor took his scalpel and whacked off the end of his little finger.

“Oh, man!” said Bob.  “You’re fucking mad at me, so you fuckin cut your own finger off?”

“I don’t understand,” said the doctor while holding his bleeding finger.  “I didn’t do that.”

“Suit yourself, if you got to whack your own fingers it’s okay,” said Ripper.  “Isn’t that right Jack?”

Jack vaguely smiled from his wheelchair.

“I’m going to have to leave,” said the doctor.

A moment later, the doctor came back in a panic.  His finger was forgotten, and he gestured toward the front door with his bloody hand.  “It’s locked.  Is that some kind of joke?  Did you lock the door?”

“Go open the door for him Bob,” said Ripper.

Bob stomped over to the door.  He turned the doorknob and tugged. “He’s right.  The fucking door is not opening.  It’s jammed.”

“Let him out the back then,” said Ripper.  He got up and went to get his hot scissors from the fireplace along with the silverware that had been heating up there.

A potholder kept his hand from being seared by the heat.  I think his idea was to brand my belly with the tips, kind of make a design, write his name or such.  Instead, they got loose and fell on his knee as he leaned over me. He sat back dumbfounded.  He yanked the scissors away, and sent them flying, just missing one of the girls who squealed in anger.  “What the hell!

A coal popped out of the fireplace.  The carpet started to catch on fire.  Ripper got up and grabbed it in his potholder.  The potholder burst into flames as he tossed it back in the fireplace.  He patted the flames out.

Bob and the frustrated doctor returned.  “My turn,” said Bob.

“Be my guest,” said Ripper.  A quiet descended upon the room, so he grabbed one of the girls and started to pull down her blouse far enough to pop the tits out of it. She squeaked, but did not resist.  He pinched her nipples. She yelped a little this time.  “What about the doctor? Is he staying?”

“We’re locked in,” said Bob, while ready to do his joint popping routine on me.  He had my leg doubled with a baseball bat in the crook under my knee, and was about to sit down his weight.  My leg would separate at the joint and tear away the knee itself.  It was already quite painful.

“Open a window,” said Ripper.  He pinched pussy lips between thumb and index finger as hard as he could.  The girl moaned with pain.  He pinched again, and she winced, and bit him on the arm.  He stared back at her surprised.

“This isn’t right,” said the doctor.

Another coal popped out of the fireplace.  The rug burst into flames again.  Bob crushed the coal under his boot and made a face as the heat burned his foot.

“Go get me another bottle,” said Ripper to the girl. As she got up, he spanked her bottom.  She yelped, and ran away.

“Let’s go bash a window out,” said Ripper. “We can throw the doctor out.”

Bob laughed.  He liked the idea.

They went into the bedroom.  I watched them go to the window and throw a chair at it.  The girl who looked like Nicky came back without the brandy, and cut my bonds.  She smiled at me with sharp teeth, and in her eyes, I could see the reflection of fire from the fireplace.  She dragged me by my feet into the kitchen.

More coals popped onto the carpet while I heard Bob say, “The fucking chair bounced off the window.”

The girl dragged me outside onto the cold snow and closed the door behind her as she reentered the house.

Bright yellow light played over the ceiling of the kitchen, as I lay there helpless.  The cold helped my pain. I struggled to get away from the heat.  The house was burning.  I crawled far enough to where I could roll to one side and see the boys at the back window beat at the glass in desperation.  The glass itself started to cherry. Muffled screams made a vague dream like music.

 “Screams,” I thought to myself, “burned up in the flames.”

“You did good,” said Nicky.

“That you Nicky?”

“Yep,” she said, “I was worried, but you are not as worthless as you look.”

“Now what?” I said.  The screams inside the house went on and on.  The boys continued to batter at the window.

“I won’t be bored in hell,” she said.  “Neither will you.”

“You sound like you want to go?” I said.  I don’t know why I talked with her.  I needed to die.

“Oh, yes, well,… I was born there, old fella,” she said.  “Those guys started a business with me.  I told them my price.  They just didn’t take me serious.”

It was my turn to be dumbfounded.  My face probably reflected my sentiments.

She grinned at me with a little sympathy, “I’m a she-devil honey.  We’ve been bounced back and forth from this world to hell and back.  You can’t remember your name because it’s been a long long time since you had one.  We’re doing this again and again.  Those guys will be a lot of fun, and I owe it all to you, sweetie.  You think I forgot our deal?”

I could not remember, the evening happened so fast. I thought real hard about it,… then I had a recollection like a nightmare.

“Oh, yes, you remember now, old man,” she said.  “It was a century ago, and you had a knife.  You wanted me to suck your dick off, and I always do my end of the deal.  Course after I’m done, I get my end of the deal,… until next time which is when you and I have some more fun.  So come on honey.  Let’s get your pants down.  And, you remember now, your soul is mine.”

I screamed, then I screamed again.  Her teeth were sharp.  She did her end of the deal.  It came off, and she ate it, and I died again, and again, and again,… until maybe she would get bored,… at the end of eternity.

 

The End

 

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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes horror short stories and horror flash fiction. The online magazine publishes dark and gritty content from professional horror writers, Bram Stoker award nominated horror authors, along with talented newcomers of the horror writing craft. Deadman’s Tome features chilling, terrifying horror shorts ranging from ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, monster horror, and even horror erotica. Deadman’s Tome is one of the best online horror zines to publish horror short stories, horror flash fiction, and dark flash fiction. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the horror authors.

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Townsville Shooting: Good Thing Life Doesn’t Have Auto Aim

townville-elementary-school-shooting.jpg

First, it’s unfortunate that there was yet another school shooting on American soil. It’s troubling whenever a young teenager is enraged enough to want to murder kids in school as if it would mean something in the end. It’s even more troubling that school shootings have become so frequent that I can guarantee you that there will be another next month. Is it wrong for me to be able to make that claim so coldly, sure? But it serves as a reminder of how fucked America is. More worried and triggered by the reaction to a tragedy versus taking measures to explore the hows and whys that led to the tragedy.

This post will offend you, and it should.

When I heard the news about the shooting in Townville, SC and then heard the death count, I thought I missed something. I though I heard incorrectly. I thought that my ears were playing tricks on me. A school shooting and only ONE person died and it wasn’t a kid at school but the shooter’s father!? Well, I almost wanted to celebrate. Good thing the shooting took place on National Beer Day or whatever (people need a hashtag to drink beer now?). I did release a sigh of relief and thought about how fortunate the whole school was that the shooter was a 13 year old boy whose gun experience came from playing Call of Duty (not the real thing and I bet he didn’t account for recoil). The kids and teachers at Townville were fortunate that life does not have auto aim!

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This is Jesse Osborn, the shooter, holding a toy gun. I know it’s a toy gun because his weak arms wouldn’t be able to hold the real thing.

How horrible for me to say that when two kids and one teacher were injured, right? What kind of monster am I? The kind that growing up in America has made. I was in high school when Columbine happened. The Columbine kids were my age and had a similar pattern of favored activities: metal, gaming, and much like me were a social outcast. Though they had a few past time activities that should’ve been a red flag like (I don’t know) make bombs and target practice. The kids harbored so much hatred and needed help from their teachers, family, and most of all their parents. But no help was received and then everyone wants to blame media instead of the dumb as fuck parents. Seriously, how do you not know that your teenager is making bombs in YOUR basement? My point is that America did not learn from Columbine of how to prevent but instead implemented more security measures at schools. But added security doesn’t address the why behind these horrific tragedies. After Columbine came Red Lake, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and over a dozen others that i haven’t mentioned.

You can say that I’ve been desensitized, and if that makes me a monster, then so be it. But at least I’m not pretending.

School Shooting
Police arrived but it only took one volunteer fireman to take care of the situation.
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This is the hero and he deserves more than that lame medal. Honorary lifetime supply of beer to Jamie Brock.

In comparison to other school shootings, Townville, SC is sort of a dud, and it wasn’t just because the kid had like the worst aim ever. No, a huge contributor to the 0 school deaths was a volunteer firefighter that just so happened to be present when the shooting took place. Whereas officers might’ve shot the kid dead, the firefighter tackled the homicidal boy and deescalated the situation. That is awesome, and shows that perhaps we don’t need armed guards, but a few tough All-American 80’s style bad asses stationed at each and every school. Except it didn’t take an 80’s action hero, it took a dude with balls of steel and a willingness to risk his life to save others. Jamie Brock needs to be on a Wheaties box!

I mentioned before that we should concentrate on the whys. The boy used his dad’s handgun so stricter gun laws wouldn’t do a fucking thing, unless you want every gun safe in America to register and log activity to the local authorities. Do you have any idea how unlikely that would ever be? Just as insane as the idea of removing ALL guns. That’s just going to create Civil War part II. Addressing the whys means understanding why the child did what he did, and what could be done to prevent that in the future. A bullying ban is pipe dream. Kids bully. You’ll never stop bullying 100%, because kids love making fun of one another. Honestly, reflect on your childhood and tell me you and your friends didn’t bust each other’s balls once in a while, and sometimes it may get out of control and feelings get hurt. The boy needed open communication with his teachers, counselor, and parents. There had to have been signs that he was troubled. A boy doesn’t just go into a murder spree without giving away signs.

I’m no expert, but I know that if the boy had received help early on that this could’ve been prevented. Yeah, Captain hindsight, but it’s true. We (the system in general) need to foster more of an empathetic approach and help remove the stigma associated to boys seeking help or talking to others about our dreaded feelings.

 

 

 

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Weekly Dose of Unadulterated Horror

Horror zines are a dime a dozen, really. Why? Because it really doesn’t take much to start a blow, site, or a bare bones platform to feature and promote indie horror. But what makes Deadman’s Tome so different?

Deadman’s Tome is a site dedicated to horror fiction (short stories, flash fiction, and poems) with a stance that there is no subject that is too taboo for horror. Horror, whether film, literature, or art, is not a safe space. Horror, in order to be effective, has to challenge the reader, because good horror shatters one’s sense of safety and comfort. Deadman’s Tome  proudly features uncensored and unadulterated content.

The Other White Meat – R. K. Gemienhardt explores a a sexual form cannibalism also known as vore but without any pretentiousness about the subject. Feminists hate this story because the woman is ditsy enough to become the victim, but we all know at least one woman that falls for just about anything.

A Corpse Can’t Laugh by Salem Martin and G. B. Holly  exploits an all to American trend  to tell a demented and relentless tale of a girl that systematically murders her classmates in school.

Of Diamond Tongues and Seaside Tourism – Carson Winter tears into those cliche 50 rules for dating my teenage daughter shirts. The story starts innocent enough, but it will leave you disturbed for sure. Unless you frequent those odd daddy “role-play” vids.

Popcorn – Wayne Summers will gross you out to the point to where you’ll never trust popcorn again.

 

Deadman’s Tome offers new relentless horror Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!