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FAQ by Keith Coleman

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

Q:  Can you tell me where I am and what I am doing here?

A:  There is unfortunately no definitive answer to this question, as these FAQs have been designed as an interim contingency for a number of individuals in different, though similar, situations.  Due to a range of communicative difficulties experienced by our sponsors, we cannot give a conclusive answer to this, or to many successive questions.  Please be assured, however, that the location where you have now awoken in is certainly liable to be secure and inaccessible by outside parties.

 

Q:  Why have I been chosen to be here?

A:  While it is unhealthy to define oneself in terms of victimisation, it is unfortunately true that you have been subject to a prolonged phase of reconnaissance activity (‘stalking’ in common parlance) which resulted in enforced relocation, but this does not necessarily mean you were targeted for any personal reason.  You may have been kidnapped because the other party was merely responding to his or her interest in some facet of the way that you look, or move, or even smell.  On the other hand, you may have been selected simply on the basis of availability:  being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

 

Q:  Is it possible to explain the process of my continued presence here and the length of duration in this location?

A:  Regretfully it must be admitted that the length of time that you will remain here is unknown and wholly dependant on individual processes imposed by the particular party who has rendered you to this location.  It could honestly be argued that your behaviour while here also plays a part in the length of time that you will remain in your present state of health.  Excessive passivity or volatility has been known in the past to act as a trigger for the termination of subjects’ stay in the holding location.

 

Q:  I cannot remember anything about coming here. Have I been drugged?

A:  Adulteration of drinks and foodstuffs is a favoured process employed by our sponsors.  But we hold no exact records of pharmaceutical products likely to be used by captors or any resultant physical of psychological affects in the short or long term.

 

Q:  Is there no right of appeal or mechanism by which I can obtain the intercession of an outside party?

A:  It would be as well at this juncture to reconcile yourself to the permanence of your predicament.  It has not commonly been the practice of the holding agency in the past to change their minds towards the individuals whom they have chosen to extract from their usual modes of existence.  The place of confinement is habitually remote from the attention of anyone liable to cause interference.  Any excessive vocal exertion or attempt to exit the area by normal means of exit will not be successful.  The great majority of our clients operate as lone workers, so it would not be possible in ordinary circumstances to request any associates or accomplices to return you to your normal life.

 

Q:  I am not happy with the tone of your replies and the lack of pertinent information. Can you explain the exact nature of my captivity and what specific danger I am in? 

A:  Due to the generic nature of these answers, which were compiled to cover a range of contingencies, we cannot specifically answer this query.  It has not been our intention to provide you with specific information about the treatment you are liable to receive nor the outcome for you.  We feel that this knowledge would be unhelpful at best and would likely stimulate an emotional response which would not ultimately be beneficial.  A more focused answer may be available in future when this supporting literature has been amended by another individual. It may be possible then to tailor these questions and answer for each of our clients and their guests, giving more focus in light of their different working methods.  For reasons which cannot be stated here, revision of this document will be undertaken by another neutral party.

 

Q:  I am surely entitled at least to know what level of danger I am in?  You have been too circumspect with your answers.

A:  I apologise if you feel that I have been less than forthcoming.  To be wholly frank, you must understand that you have no residual rights whatever, according to the admittedly arbitrary modus operandi of our clients.  All that I can admit is that all those who have found themselves in the same or similar positions as you up to this point have not ultimately progressed beyond the experience of captivity.  While it would not be entirely impossible for a captive such as you to affect an escape, probability (based on many past scenarios) makes that eventuality statistically insignificant.

 

Q:  I am angry that you seem to be affecting an even-handed tone.  Who are you, and are you mocking me?

A:  I do not have any vested interest in any unfortunate individual (or those deemed to deserve their fate) who may be reading this.  While there may be some meretricious value in discovering my identity, even supposing that defining my identity was a simple matter, it would not significantly affect your situation.  Suffice it to say that you are wholly in the hands of an authority which considers itself to be more elevated than either you or I could sanely contemplate.

 

Q:  But you are enjoying a vicarious thrill in teasing out these clues.  Do you and your ‘clients’ sit down and have a laugh afterwards at the games you have both played together?

A:  Be assured that the clients and I would not conspire to discuss such matters under any circumstances.  Please be assured that I am aware of their manifest shortcomings and the price that they pay for utilising my services is dearer than they would give credence to (even supposing that some of them are rational creatures).

 

Q:  Help me?

A:  With regret, I must confess that it is outwith the parameters of my operational responsibility to offer you any obviously practical assistance.  As far as possible I am only able to act as an unresponsive intermediary between captor and captive.  Due to the volatility inherent in the restraining authority, any intercession made on your behalf would be pointless and potentially hazardous.  However, due to recognised cognitive awareness issues among all of our clientele, I would strongly advise that you carefully scrutinise the answer given next.

 

Q: What good is false hope?  I might as well just give up?

A: Mercy is improbable.  All you can hope for is a different kind of release. You may Bargain for only an Exit by death.  However, Each and All of our clients Treat each Individual as Normal, after their fashion, without any Guarantee that they can Vary the Eventuality for you.  I have to maintain a Neutrality of Tone for both sides.  Mercy is improbable; All You may Bargain for is an Easy death.  Leave out the Ordinary reaction to your situation and try to Order your Senses to adapt to your Exceptional situation.  

 

Q:  I see.  How can I be sure (without wishing to respond too directly) that what you have just said is a viable option?

A:  Trust is the treasure of a hopeless man.

 

Q:  More riddles. I am attempting to enquire why you have not tried to alleviate your own difficulties, assuming that I can trust you are in the same or a similar position to myself?

A:  Good query.  Can I respond in kind and ask whether you have noticed anything in the physical form of this document which strikes you as being abnormal.  I do not mean the tortuous grammar or the fact that my words have been singularly unhelpful to you.  It may be beneficial, perhaps even crucial to you now, that you take the opportunity of reading between the lines.

 

Q:  What do you mean?  I don’t understand you.

A:  It is essential that now discard any residual idiotic illusions about your current predicament.  Have I been wasting my time, which is definitely at a premium?

 

Q:  It is dark in here. I cannot see the document all that clearly.  I am ill and afraid.

A:  Please accept my profound apologies (which are essentially worthless, I’m sure you realise by now).  I wish that things could have been different for you and for me. You are not alone, poor soul.  I was here before you, and certainly by the time you read this I will be long extinct.

    The maniacs forced me write all this in the last drops of my own…                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Monster in the Closet by dDamian Foreman

It was as good a time as any to start smoking.  The acne ridden kid had never smoked in his life and had, until that point, never wanted to.  Next to losing his virginity and not dying at any moment looming over his head, a cigarette was the best sounding thing in the whole damn world.

From the dead girl’s jeans, he pulled out her cigarettes and lighter.  He stuck one of the cancer sticks into his mouth and lit it.  Naturally, his body rejected the smoke and he coughed it up in great whooping spasms (the sound no doubt catching its attention), but that didn’t stop him from trying again.  On his second attempt, he was awarded the same result, but on the third he was able to suck down a mouth full of smoke.

God, how it tasted terrible.  Tasted like…hell, there wasn’t even a comparison to how it tasted.  The kid couldn’t say it tasted like shit because he never had tasted shit before.  He was sure that he had compared many, many things to shit over the course of his life, but never once had he been able to truly say that because he didn’t know for sure what it tasted like.  He wasn’t about to say it again, because he didn’t want another lie on his plate when he got to the gates of Heaven–if, indeed, that was where he was going when he died.

Awww, crap.  Who was he kidding?  He wouldn’t get into Heaven if he blew the guy standing at the gates.  He pretty much broke every commandment other than “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”  Or maybe he was even more screwed than that; did masturbation count as adultery?  He didn’t know. 

Yeah, he was going to Hell, and he was going to burn with a stake stuck up his ass.  So, if he was doomed to eternity in the lake of fire, he might as well take advantage of the time he had left.  If that thing was going to kill him, then sure he could…

No, no, no.  He pushed that thought away before it could even surface any more than it had.  He didn’t want to hurt his chances any more than they already were. 

And it was just nasty.  Wrong.

He could hear it.  It was still out there, it was smelling him out.  Tracing the blood from the girl probably.  The girl, who he dragged in with him while she was still alive, might just be getting him killed now.  Thanks.

He took another drag from the cigarette (he thought he was getting pretty good at it now) when a queer thought came to him.  What if it smelled the smoke?  What if it smelled the smoke and thought the place was starting to catch ablaze and it ran away?  If that thing was anything like any other sane animal, it would fear the fire and run, right?  Then he would be alone with a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, a dead girl and his thoughts.  Just him and the dead-

It turned something over.  It sounded like maybe one of the school desks hitting the ground, but it was far enough away for the kid to still feel safe-ish.  Probably was still on the far side of the room.  Probably was tracking him like a fat boy that smells cake.  And why not?  The door between him and it wasn’t a thick one, and there was a blood stream to the girl.  What was preventing it from getting to him?  It could no doubt bust through that door as easy as a lighter melts through a sheet of plastic wrap.

He didn’t have long left in this world; he could feel that deep down in his bones.  It shook him, put a nervous gloom over his closet sanctuary.  It was getting closer to him.  He could almost feel its teeth chomping down on his neck, ripping it out and letting him bleed as it ate the rest of him.  He’d seen what the thing did, and it wasn’t pretty.  It didn’t give you the courtesy of snapping your neck before it ate, taking your life painlessly before it snacked.  No, no, it liked to hear you scream and gurgle out blood from your gaping holes that it puts in you.  It likes it when you beg for it to stop.

He changed his mind.  He wasn’t going to hell.  He was already there.  That little closet he stuffed himself into was the only hell there could be.  Maybe–maybe–if his dick was bitten off first.  That could make it worse.

The kid’s hands were shaking as he pulled that cigarette up to his lips and puffed away.  It was almost gone, about a fourth of the tobacco was left in the roll of paper.  He swore to himself then that if that cigarette was finished before he died, he would (by sweet Jesus) light up another one and suck himself to death.  Yeah, so maybe you’re not supposed to kill yourself, but to hell with that.  God could make one exception, couldn’t He?  Under these circumstances?

Well, not that it mattered in the long run, but…

Something else fell down, but it sounded more like a dry THUMP than the banging of a table.  This new sound might have been a book falling and planting itself on the ground.  He guessed that it pushed it off of the counter or the teacher’s desk; maybe it was balanced just wrong somewhere and fell, but that was a silly dream that, deep down in his heart, he knew wasn’t the truth.  It was just looking for him in every possible place.

Tears filled his eyes.  He let them fall.  It’s not like anyone was there to see him cry, to call him pussy or queer fagget as the bigger guys liked to call him.  There was no one to make him feel bad about who he was.  He let those tears flow, but he kept a tight mouth about it.  He didn’t want to attract its attention.

He briefly recalled a play he saw once.  There was something about squealing pigs and quiet men in it.  The pigs were squealing because they didn’t know they were dying, but the men knew to shut up about it because they didn’t want to face death.

Maybe there was some truth to that statement.

Or maybe it was total shit. 

Who knows?

The facts were that he was crying quietly, death waited outside the door for the right time to knock, his cigarette was almost gone, and he was alone with a beautiful dead girl, who kept on getting prettier by the damn sec-

No!  He was not going to think that way.  She’s dead, God damn it.

Using the palm of his hand without the cigarette, he wiped away the tears that he let loose, then sucked up the last of the smoke.  He lifted his left leg up to his chest and used the bottom of his shoe to put out the smoldering cherry.  In the dark it was hard to find the pack and lighter again, but he managed.  Without realizing it, he had put them between the legs of the dead girl when he got his first cigarette, and when he got his second, he did the same.  She was still warm, and he liked having his hand there.  It felt good, felt natural.  Oh, he could have her.  All he had to do was ask and…

He let his thoughts linger in his head as his hand on her thigh.  It didn’t matter at all.  Nothing mattered when you’re on your ass, waiting for death to take you into its modest embrace.

The only time the kid with acne took his hand away from his girlfriend was to light the new cigarette.  It returned to her thigh quickly thereafter.

He could hear it out there; it was right in front of the door now.  The pads on its paws made a soft sound on the linoleum tiles, its claws making low clicks.  It was right outside, it found him.  The thing was ready to pounce, ready eat.  It didn’t want to play anymore more games, no, it was done fucking around.  It was hungry.  Time to die, kid.  Your goose is cooked.

He put the cigarette into his mouth and held it with his lips.  He took up his girlfriend’s hand in his own, then put his other over her fingers and squeezed.  It made him feel like she was still alive, like she was still there with him.

Quickly, he took his smoke out of his mouth and kissed his lover on the lips for a long moment, then went back to his death pose.  The kid closed his eyes and waited.

He heard it break through the door and heard himself scream for it to quit, heard himself fighting back and trying to save himself and crying for his mother.  He fought and yelled and-

-and it wasn’t him.  He opened his eyes again and listened to someone else getting eaten alive in another closet nearby.  Probably the one right next to him in the same damn classroom.

The screaming died out, and he listened to it eat more.  He sat there for a long, limitless period of time, waiting to see what would happen next.  Eventually, the sounds of ripping flesh and snapping bones quit died out.  He heard it strut by his closet again, and then he couldn’t hear it at all.  Had it gone?  Was it never there?

Did it matter?

The acne ridden teenage kid laughed (quietly, of course–it might still be there).  He was alive, and so was his soul mate–he could still feel her warmth and (if he concentrated hard) her pulse beating in unison with his, almost as if he was powering her with his own…but that was a silly thought.

He put out the cigarette.  He kissed her.  They were happy together, but somehow he didn’t feel happy enough, didn’t feel complete.  But she knew how to make him happy.  She knew very well, and the kid accepted her and then they went to sleep together in their happy place, the smell of her drying blood masked by burnt tobacco and new found love.

 

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Yankee Rose by Alanna Roethle

 The screen door banged in the hot desert wind.

Slap, slap. As despondent as the rest of the world, the world of this hot tin house, the quiet moaning wind that sifted dust into the cracks of her face, into the bed sheets, under the window in dust fingers to the gold-flecked white Formica kitchen counter. The sighs and slices of the old ten-piece- well, nine-piece now

– knife set marked the counter. The missing knife still lay under the bed where she’d laid it, so quietly, remembering with a pause in her mind where it lay- how coldly and patiently it waited. She could see it now, closing her eyes, its cheap serration glinting among the dust and atop the shag green carpet, a deeper green where it hid below the bed from the scorching rays of the Mojave sun. The sun bore through the windows and the blinds to strain the color from everything, until it all matched the bone and dirt colors of the desiccated landscape.

Anton was out now. He’d torn off in the bleached old yellow Corsica , clouds of the fated dust following him, ghosts of thought waving at him as they hovered in his trail, watching to see if he would skid into the creosote, spread his brain matter among the spines of the cholla cactus.

Rose blankly stared at the rounded dirty-white walls of the trailer, picking like an addict at a frayed spot in the short jean cut-offs that bit into thick pale thighs. She tried to stay out of the sun. Mom said even Navajo get the

skin cancer. Old Dezba had a large dark mole like a face that grew out of the side of her chin, with white hairs feeling the air like tentacles. Rose supposed that was skin cancer. Skin cancer might not be a terrible way to go. She could imagine it crawling from her face to her throat, inside and stealthy so you couldn’t see it from the outside, from the round smoothness of her skin and face. It would start as a tiny brown spot, but it would go deep and by the time that little line of rot reached her heart it would be time to die. No one would know what was happening to her, no one would know until it was too late. She knew she would probably feel the pain, feel the deep angry ache as it burrowed to her heart, the cancer. She would hold her face still as stone, still as the masks

shima sani

had hung on the adobe walls of her house on the res, when she was still alive.

Rose was good at that. She was good at holding her thoughts deep behind her face, so that the twitch of errant nerves and cold blackness of her eyes were the only things that moved. Most people couldn’t read anything when her stone face was on. Except for Anton. Sometimes he could tell, from across the room even, and if she was thinking about him a small cruel smile would tighten the bottom of his face, never reaching his odd brown eyes. She would feel a chill then, inside her, as if he was touching her heart with ice. It was stronger than that- his eyes could hold you, choke you, deep and oppressive as black thunderclouds that could build in minutes over the purple mountains. It was the feeling of dying, when you looked at him. Those last fluttering beats of the heart, the sigh of air as it left lungs for the last time. She shuddered deep within

her still self at the thought of him, behind the soft fuzz of the weed she’d been smoking since she awoke. He never left her alone anymore, never. Here she was wasting precious time being stoned, when she could be…what? She deserved it. She deserved him.

Tick, tick, tick

. That fucking clock. The supreme quiet had descended, the quiet of the afternoon when the sun was baking the land. The whitewashed sky fell in heat waves to the sun stroked earth. Rose let the weed spread her out over the house, let other tiny sounds enter her head and calm her. The sigh of the trailer as it settled, heated, and expanded. The slap of the screen door in the stiff gusts of air. The clock.

That fucking piece of shit clock!!

The noise bothered her, snapped her out of the reverie. Paranoia tinged her high. He’d be back soon, he had to be. He wasn’t working today. The fear of him was growing day by day. She was mad at herself, so mad that she’d thought he was ever her friend. That she could have been so naïve, such a stupid little girl. She hadn’t known any better. There had been no one to tell her. She tried to believe that.

Rose, Rose. You gotta get out of here.

She couldn’t move herself, couldn’t think anymore. She was hiding under this new face, hiding bound and gagged in a dark place where nothing made sense.

Shima sani had told me. She knew.

The words knocked against the fragile onion layers of her consciousness. She pictured her grandmother dying, her small shaky hands clasping and opening, clasping and opening as she gripped the last few seconds she had to live. Rose hadn’t been there, off partying, who knows where. Getting fucked up again so she didn’t have to think about anything. The old woman’s last words had been for her, for Rose. She said them in Navajo, quiet and raspy, in her daughter’s ear. Because it was in Navajo, Rose knew she meant it.

“Tell her, tell my Rose. Tell her no

Nakai

! Not ever.” It was a strange last thing to say, a strange use of the only air left that your lungs will ever hold. “Tell her to promise me.”

When Rose had gotten home the night her grandma had left the world, she’d stumbled as she entered and knocked the keys crashing from their hooks to the floor. The light came on in the living room, and she watched bleary-eyed as her mother came out of the dark from where she had been sitting, hands folded around her sanity. Small, cold hands, like her heart. “Your grandmother is dead. She died tonight.”

Rose felt a twinge under the vodka. It was a black twinge, like the lowering of clouds before a storm. Like the darkness of a mineshaft. She headed back to her room, wavering and feeling the wall. Her mother went back to sit on the couch. Over coffee the next morning, her mother told her what

shima sani

had said. She hadn’t made any breakfast, and Rose was happy because the bile rose vodka-flavored to rub seductively against the back of her throat.

“No Mexicans?” Rose said softly. “That was it?”

“And to promise her, Rose. She said it because of Brenda, and because she said some spirit told her.” Her mother watched her out of the corners of almond-shaped eyes, solemn but still condescending, always condescending.

Brenda was dead too. She had died a few years earlier, at the uncertain age of 20. Her boyfriend had strangled her and hung her from a closet rod. Right now the boyfriend still lived in Arizona somewhere, safe and happy with his new wife and the baby he had started right before he let Brenda’s children see how blue Mommy could turn. The social workers found out how she died when the 2-and- 4-year-olds acted it out with Barbie dolls. That didn’t turn out to be enough evidence, and they never found her body anyway. That boyfriend had been Mexican, and now Rose’s family thought the whole race was just bad juju. Rose hadn’t thought much about it, besides that it sucked and was sad.

Now she knew. She knew

shima sani

had seen Anton, and seen what he would do to her granddaughter.

*

He had hunched over her last night, his little dick half-flaccid as he tried to put it in while she lay there, an unfeeling lump. Inside her rage grew; a hatred for him and his pathetic attempts at sex. He could only screw little girls, girls he found online like he’d done her. She was 19, she was lonely, and she wanted to get out of the house. Anton talked to her for months before he’d suggested they meet, and always she laughed him off.

“Whatever, perv,” she said, full of confidence that he couldn’t touch her. Finally out of boredom one day, and because he said he’d take her to see Ice Age and buy a bottle, she’d met him at Circle K. He never looked at her the entire time, eyes shifting away when she faced him, strange shuffling movements and nervous tics. He was ugly, she thought. His head was strange-shaped, and his eyes were too light for his skin. After that he’d started buying booze when she wanted, bringing over coke when she wanted to be high, and always never touching her. One night when he dropped her off after another movie, she ran back out to the car in only panties and her t-shirt to grab her purse that she’d drunkenly left on the holey pleather seat. That’s how much she trusted that he’d never touch her.

Rose felt the rage begin to break loose inside of her, where it danced in faster and faster circles like molecules in boiling water. She moved suddenly, shoving Anton backward, his penis flopping ludicrously. He looked up, shock flashing in his pale weak eyes. Anger quickly replaced shock, replaced by something else, that suffocating thing.

“Get off of me you piece of shit! You aren’t even a man! You can’t even get it up!” Rose shrieked at him, turning away from his eyes, wiping her hands across her stomach where his sweat polluted her skin. Her naked body stared at her in the cracked half mirror hanging from the back of the bedroom door. It was all pale, corpulent, except for the redness where he had kneeled and sweat on her. All of her was dead, except where he leeched on her. She turned to look at him again, to scream something. He hunched at the end of the bed, his stringy body shaking, mumbling to himself, growling. He had his penknife in his hand, drawing it slowly across his arm where the myriad scars already there looked like the lines on the moon, the aftermath of a cataclysmic meeting of masses with no control over trajectory. The dark blood followed his knife, a trail of thought. Rose had turned and hurried to the bathroom to lock herself in there. She spent hours painting her nails, listening to Anton’s death metal rage tonelessly as she layered red polish over itself until her toes glittered like rubies. She hummed to herself, comforted by the thrum in the back of her throat, trying to dispel the darkness that blackened every corner of her thoughts like burning paper, the way the black would creep in from each side in little tongues and the crumbling ash follow.

Rose had started drawing the same blood lines with that serrated knife over the inside of her arms and thighs, where nobody could see. She had never seen anyone do it until Anton. Now she knew his crazed spirit, the crazy in him was rubbing off on her.

Fa la la, fa la la, she sang under her breath. Fa la la la la, la la la la. Anton said her humming drove him crazy, that she needed to keep her mouth shut. You’re already crazy, ma’ii,

she thought.

*

She heard the car, far down the dusty road, spinning past tall watching saguaros and the dry, sad palo verdes. Her heartbeat quickened in the dullness of her body. It was the only sign that she was afraid. She lay back against the cool tub, feeling the trickle of sweat down her spine as it ran away from her. She looked numbly down at her arm, then at the knife in her other hand. She didn’t remember pulling it from the carpet under the bed. She didn’t remember drawing its biting teeth across her arm, or maybe she remembered but it blurred together with the other times- his and hers. Spots of bright red blood dotted the white of the tub, of her thighs. It matched her nails, and she smiled a little to see it. The Corsica stopped in front of the door and jerked a few times before silence descended again. She heard the door slam, and his quiet shuffling steps come up the two rickety wooden steps to the door, the steps she always tripped on when she was drunk. She closed her hand tightly around the knife, and shrunk against the tub.

You crazy bastard. Don’t come in here, don’t talk to me.

She heard him come down the hall, heard him muttering to the spirits in his head, to the demons that possessed every waking moment. He just got worse and worse,

after she moved in, telling her that loving her made him that way. With him, emptiness was the only thing she knew. A great, cavernous emptiness like a carved pumpkin, its seeds and guts spread in the dirt and its new face one with only one expression. Then it starts to rot. The inside of her mind was full of holes, rotten parts that had fallen in on themselves, that smelled like vomit. He had taken away her friends, deleted her phone, ostracized her family. Rose crept from the bathroom, avoiding the creaks in the floor. His back was to her, as he typed away, looking for other little girls to take advantage of. He told her he was doing black magic on them, the same black magic he’d done for some of the Oklahoma tribes. The same magic that had caused his girlfriend before her to kill herself while on the phone with him. He told her these things, and she believed him.

Her mind snapped, the elastic of a rubber band eaten by the sun- a crack! Red flashed as she leapt with the little knife gleaming in her hand, raising it high and slim and deadly. In her strained mind’s eye she saw herself, poised like a warrior, strength and purpose in her arm- and his face. The stark fear as the steel entered his body, the jerk- and then nothing.

*

Everything was white, and she couldn’t get away. The sweat beaded on her forehead, down between her breasts, and panicked struggle only made her bonds tighter, the heat greater, stifling. Her eyes opened, and the padded walls around her shocked her with their anger, their forbidding presence.

NO!!

she

screamed, flailing her arms, bucking against the bonds, panting.

No, I’m not crazy!! Somebody help me!

Even through her fear she realized she needed to calm down. Hyperventilating, she stopped thrashing, craning her neck up to look out the tiny square window. His small cruel smile was there, framed in the reinforced glass, his watered coffee eyes gleaming in at her. His black magic worked. He was right.

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Calling for submissions

We are calling for submissions for a vampire themed horror writing contest in which the readers get to decide the winner. The rules are simple: Original story (no reprints), no multiple submissions (it was allowed before, but this isn’t a lottery), story must be both horror and vampire-themed (no teen drama stories. I will burn them.), within 9,000 words or less, and lastly tailored for a mature audience.

The winner of the contest will receive a $100 gift card to Amazon. The runner-ups will be featured in the Deadman’s Tome podcast.

The stories will be presented on the blog as soon as they’re screened, and winners will be determined by a mixture of comments and likes.

Contest will be running from now to the end of August 2013.

Send submissions to Legato10@ Swbell.net with Contest as the subject.

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The Fire Baby by Michael Albani

(Featured in the August 2011 edition) DT082011  DTcover082011

THE FIRE BABY
Michael Albani

Birth

The forlorn mother put the twelfth candle in place. The basement was dark. The fetid smell of decomposing flesh hung heavy in the air. ―This has to work,‖ she whispered. ―This just has to work.‖
The mother‘s name was Bethany, and she was preparing to perform a ritual she discovered on a necromancy website. She followed the website‘s directions perfectly. Failure was not an option.
On her basement floor she drew a chalk circle inscribed with the image of a soaring raven. Along the circumference of this magick mandala she placed twelve candles. Eleven candles were white. The twelfth candle was red, made of wax crimsonly colored with her blood. Baby Bridget, her beloved daughter, rested in the circle‘s center. She was silent. She was lifeless.
Bethany was not usually the type to believe in magick. But this was her daughter. She had to try something. The website claimed the spell was genuine, translated from ancient hieroglyphs written by fallen angels. She was just desperate enough to believe that.
Bethany lit the candles one by one around the divination circle. The red candle was the last to be lit. She clasped her hands over it, closed her eyes, and spoke the website‘s incantation.
―Azrael, almighty Angel of Death,‖ she cried. ―Release this innocent child from your grasp. I give to you an offering of fire. Now rekindle the fire in this child‘s heart. Come, Azrael! Accept my tribute and let this child live again!‖
Bethany opened her eyes. The basement was silent. Nothing happened. She was ready to collapse in anguish, when suddenly she felt something. An eerie wind entered the sealed basement and began to blow the candles‘ flames toward Baby Bridget.
―This is it,‖ Bethany said tearfully. ―It‘s working!‖ The flames entered Baby Bridget‘s mouth, leaving the basement in total darkness. Baby Bridget opened her eyes and started to cry.
Bethany joyously arose and rushed to the circle‘s center to embrace her reanimated daughter. As she moved forward, though, she began to sweat. The basement grew hotter and hotter. Suddenly, Baby Bridget erupted into flames. She screamed and screamed and the flames grew higher and higher. Bethany stumbled backward and was caught in the blaze. The fire grew stronger with each of the baby‘s tortured wails.
The fire consumed the basement and eventually the whole house. It was only after everything was reduced to ash that the cries ceased and the fire died down. Bethany had hoped to bring her only daughter back to the world of the living, but she brought forth a demon instead.

Death

The aged priest put the twelfth bowl in place. The basement was bright, but shadows surrounded him like dark sentinels. The smell of smoldering flesh hung heavy in the air.
The priest‘s name was Father Robert, and he was preparing to exorcise a fire demon from the basement of the Morris family‘s five-year-old home. He was meticulous. Given what this demon was capable of, failure was not an option.
On the basement floor he drew a chalk circle inscribed with a dodecagram. Along the circumference of this purification circle he placed twelve bowls. Eleven bowls were white. The twelfth bowl was red.
He filled the bowls one by one with holy water from a silver decanter. The red bowl was the last to be filled. He clasped his hands over it, closed his eyes, and prayed.
As Father Robert recited his prayer, he began to sweat. The temperature in the basement began to drastically increase. Then, fire spewed forth from the center of the purification circle. The light and heat were tremendous, but Father Robert stayed strong and remained in place.
From within the incredible inferno the fire demon appeared. It looked like a skinless human infant, a pulsating mass of charred muscle and tissue. With its daemonic red eyes it scanned the basement. It stared down at the purification circle, then directly at Father Robert. ―Who are you and what do you think you‘re doing?‖ it asked in a shrill, otherworldly voice.
Father Robert was astonished by the creature‘s ability to speak, but he kept his composure and responded. ―My name is Father Robert. I am here to bring an end to the suffering you have caused and free the soul of the girl you devoured.‖
―Girl?‖ said the demon, feigning innocence. ―What girl?‖
―You know full well! The little Morris girl! The innocent child that lived in this house who you burned alive!‖
The fiery creature chortled. ―Oh, I remember now! But you can‘t blame me for what happened to her. She‘s the one who sought me out. After her family moved into this house, she heard me crying and came to ‗comfort‘ me. She threw me scraps of wood to eat and squirted lighter fluid on me to drink. She made my flames grow bigger and stronger.
―Do you know how much that hurt? Can you imagine how much pain she put me in? I roasted her body and ate her soul! She tasted just like my dear, sweet mother.‖
―Devilish creature,‖ Father Robert said calmly in reply, ―I can see you are in a great deal of pain. However, that gives you no right to make others suffer. I am a servant of God, so I will send you back to the fires from which you were spawned.‖
Father Robert continued reciting his prayer. At first, nothing happened. The demon chortled, mocking the holy man. Then, the holy water in the bowls rose into the air.
The holy water rushed into the demon‘s mouth. It gurgled. It gasped for air. Finally, its flames were extinguished and it crumbled into a pile of ash. The fire demon was destroyed. Father Robert hoped that this would mean the little Morris girl could rest in peace.
The

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Oz: The Great and Powerful!

ImageVenturing back to an old story that has earned its place among the classics requires careful consideration of the attributes that facilitated its praise. This not only includes the strengths and weaknesses of the previous work, but the environment, narration, and character development. Honestly comparing Disney’s envisioned prequel to the Wizard of Oz is difficult due to the trends in movie production, but to state that Oz, unlike the Wizard of Oz, felt more like a Michael Bay eye-candy fest than anything else (substitute explosions for flowers and other vivid and beautiful effects).

 If I were to summarize my complaint of the film, it would be that it traded story, character development and substance for very vivid and sometimes cartoonish special effects. The colors were so brilliant that most of the scenes felt liked a Windows desktop image, and though the film intends to create a sense of fantasy, the green screening effects instantly killed any sense of disbelief I had. The classic didn’t suffer from that problem as the backgrounds were actual sets, and thus actually looked more believable. And even thought the classic didn’t have the greatest and most in-depth story, it at least didn’t stuff 30 minutes of visual effects into the movie at different intervals just for the sake of attempting to show how fantastical Oz is.

Another complaint is that the Film suffered from lopsided acting. James Franco delivered, bring life into a womanizing carnival magician. Whereas, Mila Kunis’ performance was spotty at best. While she may look attractive, her voice is perhaps too well associated with her Family Guy persona (Meg), and for some that could cause an issue of immersion. In addition, the crying scene, in fact any scene where she attempted to show emotional scorning seemed very weak. The cry scene was one of most awkward cry scenes I’ve seen in a while.

Perhaps her acting would’ve been better if only the characters were given time to develop and thus become relatable to the audience. First five minutes of Mila Kunis’s appearance she goes from timid to overly attached girlfriend to only become heartbroken moments later. Literally, Oz lays down some heavy flirting, which she laps up like sweet milk from a saucer. Her sisters does a little magic trick to convince her that Oz is a player and that puts her into revenge mode? What the hell is that? How do you transition from “OMG! We just met and I’m like totally in love with you” to “I’m gonna rip your heart out and shit in the cavity”? You do it with rushed writing. Rushed writing that condenses a character arch into a two scene progression because other scenes are reserved for special effect fluff.

 

I’m sorry. I might come off as cynical, but this is only a tolerable movie. It most certainly doesn’t even come close to paling thing original. It doesn’t even deserve to be described as overshadowed, as it is an example of revisiting a classic with good intentions, but with poor writing and a drastic lack of substance.

Let me know what you think.

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Deadman’s Tome Podcast Ep. 4

Deadman’s Tome Podcast four is now available, and Mr. Deadman talks about everything from the new writing contest to the Evil Dead remake. Also, because of the erotic theme of the previous issue, please enjoy the provocative images.

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Best of the Demonic

The Best of the DemonicDTcoverbestofdemonic compiles an assortment of editor picks as a way to celebrate our two years of publication. Loaded with ten gruesome, horrific tales that will pull you to the edge of your seat, this greatest hits anthology will deliver back-to-back a complimentary sample of what Deadman’s Tome is all about.
Fans of our thriving ezine, you already know that this purchase will be totally worth it. Those passing by, you don’t need to hold on to your doubt. As a growing monthly electronic magazine, the quality of our releases has increased phenomenally, and this anthology is a sort of snapshot of what we become.

If you crave horror, if you enjoy a good chill running down your spine, then look no further. Deadman’s Tome delivers.

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Warm Bodies Review

Warm_Bodies_6It’s a rare occurrence that a zombie comedy manages to stagger into theaters. It’s even rarer for the zombie comedy to be of the romantic type, and even much more of an oddity for the film to take the perspective of a zombie.

Warm Bodies is a romantic zom-com from the perspective of a zombie. With that said, there are several liberties that occur to make the perspective possible and entertaining. If you are a stickler on zombie mythology and like it only when zombies walk at a slow pace and remain essentially brain-dead, then this is not for you. Secondly, if you are the type that actively defends modern zombie mythology then you should also take note on all the liberties George Ramiro took even in his first film. Afterall, zombie mythology is no more factual than vampires, and vampire mythology is saturated with fictitious hyperbole stemmed from non-sense folktales.

Warm Bodies follows a very typical romantic comedy story arch. Woman is saved, and brought into the man’s home where she is essentially a stranger in a new land. The man fails to keep her hidden, and his friends and family do not like her, but his perseverance eventually wins them over. Then the reversal occurs to where the man is now taken into the woman’s world… A very typical pattern observed in over dozens of romantic stories from Greek myths to Modern film. The story is so predictable that anyone familiar with romantic comedies will know how the next scene will play out. Is this bad? Yes, and no.

While Warm Bodies suffers from its predictable narration, it offers something different to the mix that still remains on the fringe. Zombies seem to only have one place in film, and that’s to die, even though their already dead. Because zombie traditional have very little screen time, and are rather brainless and one-dimensional, the film has to take several liberties to render a zombie from a reanimated corpse that just simply lumbers and rots, to a reanimated corpse that lumbers, sort of thinks, and tries to interact with the environment. I really do detest that fact that some people take zombie mythology all too seriously. To the very core, Warm Bodies is a comedy, a romantic comedy, and the zombie element is used in a way to make it possible for story telling. It would be impossible for a one-dimensional rotter to do anything other than die. Besides, we’re talking about fictitious creatures that are dead bodies that can lumber and mumble without a brain, heart, lungs, and blood flow.

The strengths for Warm Bodies are R’s quirky and funny narration, the interaction between R and his zombie friends, and the interaction between R and Julie. R’s narration provides witty commentary on how life could be as a zombie on an anecdotal basis, while the interaction bears the question if and how zombies would interact with one another over time. Then, of course, most of the film revolves around the interaction of R and Julie which is very similar to any romantic tale involving lovers from different and conflicting worlds. Julie, being a live and a survivor, was raised and trained to hate and kill zombies, and ironically, zombies apparently have just as much disdain for the living.

Like in any traditional romance involving mortal enemies, once Julie is introduced to R’s family and friends, a feud between the zombies and the even older zombies (bonies) begins, which serve as common enemy that forces the two conflicting sides (zombies and living) to unite. While a common goal is often a necessary component to have rival factions unite, the unification and alliance felt forced by the director and writers.

In summation, Warm Bodies is a light-hearted at life as a zombie spun for a romantic comedy that offers a little of both, but the clichéd and easily predictable narration hinders the experience, while making the absurd perspective easy to swallow for others. The movie is fun, as it is meant to be. Is it an oscar winner? No, of course not. Is it the best zom-com? No, but how many take the perspective of a reanimated corpse? Not a lot of competition there.

Final recommendation: Theaters if you like zom-com. Rent it if you don’t. It’s a fun and enjoyable flick, as it intended.

*For those zombie nerds that actively plan for a zombie apocalypse, if you can’t find empathy for zombies and aren’t flexible on how zombies are depicted (the make-up is really good), then don’t watch it. You’ll end up hating it as it deviates from typical zombie “mythology”.

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2013 Vampire Themed Writing Contest

Walls of cold, hardened flesh bound to bone, a core without the faintest glow of radiance for warmth, and a vast, ever-expansive darkness that permeates the internal decay. Yet, the corpse somehow manages to move. But it doesn’t move like that of a man, however. As if blessed by some unfathomable hellish fiend, it moves with more life than it ever had as a mortal. As if a secret dark oath was taken in exchange for a demonic reanimation, but with any oath their comes a price.

Deadman’s Tome announces a vampire themed writing contest that starts NOW and ends in August. Feel free to submit your dark, morbid, horrific vampire-themed tales for chance to win and be published in the yearly electronic magazine. We don’t want any mushy, teen-drama tales. Any and all submissions of those type will be burned. I’m serious.

What’s the prize? I don’t like this part because I feel that one shouldn’t write because of a prize, but because the craft is enjoyable. However, this is a contest, and every contest has a prize. First place will receive a $100 Amazon gift card, along with a signed copy of The Cradle of Ruin. Second place will receive $25 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the Cradle of Ruin. Third place will receive a signed copy of the Cradle of Ruin.

Read the SUBMISSIONS page for more details.

Winners and select runner-ups will be featured in the yearly Deadman’s Tome publication.

Send all submissions to Legato10@swbell.net