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The Corruption in the Deep by S. Alessandro Martinez

I should never have gone there. I should never have prodded into the depths of unknowable things. That deep, dark realm of nightmares and horror, it was my doom. I will not condemn you if you decide to take my account as the result of a bizarre fantasy, for it is a difficult tale to accept. But I am writing this down in the hope that someone finds it amongst these ruins. My own consciousness constantly hopes that everything that has happened is just a dream and that I shall wake up soon.
At an early age I had come to the realization that there was something wrong. I always felt an intrusive, alien presence within my own self; part of me, but also distinct. I noticed abnormalities with how the flow of time was perceived, with how space and distance were judged, and how the world seemed incorrect to me. I lived with these thoughts every day, trying to push them from my mind so that I could go on with my life. However, these inclinations never truly disappeared. There would always be a tugging at my mind, forcing me to bring my realizations back into view. And with each passing year as I matured into young-adulthood, my noticing of these aberrations became more and more intense and debilitating. They would cause me great anxiety and paranoia. I would seldom leave my home, and would spend most days cooped up with my books.
As far back as I can recall I had a substantial interest in matters of the occult and of the mind. My family being not of great wealth, I could only study and learn from what paltry offerings my young and inexperienced self could get my hands on. Yet as I grew and circumstance changed, I was able to expand my knowledge, being able to afford to buy books, go to school, and procure other sources of information. I divided my time between studying psychology in school and occultism in private. But what I could not discover was the source of this…pulling at my mind. What was this accursed presence within me that was driving me slowly to madness? I obsessively studied my occult and psychological materials in search of an answer, but to no avail.
My mental condition grew worse with each passing year, although I managed to keep it hidden from my family and peers. My anxiety had become so overwhelming that I never stepped outside, with the exception of going to my classes.
But at the start of my third year of university, the dreams began.
In my dreams I would find myself in a dark city, not a city of metal and glass, but a city of ancient stone. A place with buildings constructed of massive obsidian blocks covered with hieroglyphs, obscured by countless years of overgrown moss and vines. There were immense pyramids crumbling to ruin, and colossal brooding obelisks scattered around, whose purpose had been lost to time. This was a city of great antiquity that sprawled out in all directions as far as I could see, and was bathed in the sinister moonlight emanating from a sky of eternal night. And although no living things were in sight, I had a creeping and inexplicable sense that this place contained a lurking horror which should not be disturbed. After initially taking in the surrounding view I decided to move deeper, but that is when I awakened in my bed.
From then on every night I dreamt and found myself in that lonely, decayed city of timeworn stone. And every night I would manage to explore more and more of the bizarre surroundings before waking. I walked among those dead and silent buildings for what seemed like hours every time I slept. My fear of rousing some hidden horror among these ruins was overcome by a sense of fascination and curiosity. The decrepit and alien city sparked such a grand wonder in me, perhaps due to my occult interests. But there was an utter loneliness and silence that disturbed me down to my core, for I had not encountered any living things. Surely I should have come across something by now. I would roam around the hulking buildings, gently caressing the cold stone with my fingers as I passed by. I wandered under uneven archways of oddly menacing angles and through large, empty city squares, admiring the unearthly architecture. Even though this place brought on a sense of terror and dread, it also inspired great awe.
I kept the knowledge of this world to myself, of course. What would be the point of telling any others? My educated classmates and my knowledgeable professors would most likely tell me these were just some fanciful dreams my subconscious mind had concocted. But were they? I had never had dreams of such vividness that at times I wondered whether my waking life was the dream, and if my dreams of the ancient city were my true waking reality. The crunch of gravel beneath my shoes, the gusts of wind through my hair, and even the smell of rotting vegetation that I experienced there had to be much more than simple constructs of the mind. Had my study of the occult, of the arcane, and of the forbidden, sparked something inside me? Had my fascination with dark things and my studies into the inner workings of the mind opened some sort of mental rift into a world unknown to man, only accessible through a higher state of consciousness attained in the dimension of dreams? I set out to discover the truth.
From the musty storerooms at the university, and through some shady dealings, I managed to acquire the ingredients for a drug that we had learned about in class that would send one into an extremely deep and long slumber. I hoped that consuming this would give me sufficient time in the dead city to find some sort of evidence that the dream was indeed an alternate world. Afterwards, I headed home to begin the second step of my preparations.
Years ago I had unofficially “borrowed” an ancient, leather-bound tome of supposed spells from the off-limits section of the university library for my own private studying of arcane knowledge. In it, I had discovered one incantation that seemed well-suited to my venture. Never having attempted to cast magic before, and not sure whether I actually believed in it and whether it was foolish to even try it, I studied the yellowed pages of the book for a good while before carefully performing the spell step by step. Swallowing the drug with a glass of water, I strapped my schoolbag around my shoulder, secured my pocketknife in my shirt pocket, gripped my flashlight, and made myself comfortable on my bed. The spell I had performed would supposedly allow objects of my choosing to travel with me into the alternate dimension. I felt the effects of the drug taking hold soon enough, and when my eyes became heavy with sleep I closed them without hesitation.
When I opened my eyes again I found myself staring at that familiar decayed city of eternal darkness and night. I looked down to see my flashlight in my hand and felt the pull of the bag on my shoulder and the weight of the knife in my pocket. Either the spell had proved successful, or my subconscious mind had projected the ideas of these objects into my dream. Not caring just exactly how my items were with me, I set about to explore the deepest levels of the desolate metropolis, smirking at my own cleverness. I had made much progress though the winding streets and structures since the dreams first began, but this night I would cover much more ground. I walked along the deserted streets, weaving my way through the enormous buildings, pyramids, and obelisks. I went through the city going farther than I ever had before. Even after so many trips to my dream world, I still found the eerie architecture dread-inducing yet beautiful.
It was after several hours of intensive exploration that I came upon what seemed to be a sort of cemetery. There were broken markers scattered about that resembled gravestones, mounds of odorous black dirt, and large oblong boxes made of smooth rock and covered in bizarre markings. With my interest in dark and occult things I was instantly fascinated. I crept among the alien-looking graves and sarcophagi and finally came upon what appeared to be a grand mausoleum of finely-cut black stone and rusted dark metal. I stood there taking in the sight as the baleful moonlight shone down across its front archway revealing indecipherable characters of an unknown language. And below that lay the open gateway of the tomb, like a gigantic yawning mouth leading straight to the darkest recesses of the Pit itself.
The opening in the mausoleum filled me with unease, for shining my light into that black abyss could not even penetrate its darkness. I studied that grim tomb until I noticed the rank, fetid smell of rot in the air which seemed to be emanating from the dread doorway. I let the flashlight fall from my grasp as I quickly moved my hands to cover my nose and mouth as the stench grew thicker. And along with it came the sound of something moving inside the crypt, the first living thing I had heard in all my time here. Such a wretched and nauseating odor mixed with a sound so disturbing was terrible, but my feet were transfixed to the spot as a man-shaped shadow drew itself from out of that mausoleum.
I rapidly drew out my pocketknife but the thing suddenly spoke to me. It did not direct its words to me through vocalized communication, but I perceived the words right inside my head. It told me, in a malicious manner, that it had dwelled in this hell for quite some time and that I was to help it escape. I was to finally be its freedom from this dead place. I was to be its key to unlocking the gate and that I was going to help it whether I wanted to or not.
Wanting to look upon this shadowy being I gathered up the nerve to quickly pick up my flashlight, and I shone the light at its face. Horror gripped my heart as I beheld my own face staring back at me; my own features and likeness, except with a certain malevolence and malignity in its eyes. What manner of delusion was this? This could not be real. This must be some terrible nightmare after all, a construct of my own mind.
The being began to lessen the distance between us as I stood there awe-struck. While my brain tried to rationalize the situation, my body made its own decision and I turned to flee. I ran in a frenzied panic through the streets of that decayed and massive city. But how would I escape? My means of leaving this place previously had been by waking up, but I had taken that accursed sleeping drug. My only hope was to hide from this doppelgänger until the medication wore off and I could awaken. But no matter how far or how fast I ran, I could hear him behind me, although the sound was not the sound of footsteps, but of something large pulling itself across the ground.
I shouldn’t have looked back; it was my downfall. As I ran I had begun to feel a rousing and stirring somewhere out of my current body which I interpreted as my real body waking from its slumber. How grateful I was to feel that sensation. I would soon be free of this nightmare. My morbidly curious mind, although terrified, wished for one last glance at my pursuer. As I turned my head to look behind me, my feet stumbled and I fell. I screamed in utter terror at the thing pursuing me, a creature so horrid and blasphemous, it was almost beyond the description which human minds can fathom. Its body had changed completely. The wretched things was so terrifying, my mind could not retain the image of its full form. All I can recall is a pale, bloated body, and a mass of eyes, mouths, and limbs that bent at grotesque angles. A truly hideous monstrosity from the darkest depths of insanity had been chasing me. I cowered there on the ground and feebly raised my pocketknife as the thing grabbed me and all went black.

#

I finally awoke, not in my own bed, but still in that ancient city of my nightmares. I do not know how long I’ve been here now; time has lost all meaning as the sunless days have all blurred together. Sometimes I can hear faint voices around me, voices that sound familiar but I cannot remember who they belong to. And sometimes I can hear my own voice and see flashes of scenes as if I were back in my own waking world. I do not know what has happened to the body that used to be mine in my own reality or what shall happen to me in this place. But that nameless horror that attacked me is gone and I am still here, with my mind half-broken, in this dead and decayed city of eternal darkness.

The End

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The Memory Chamber by S.J. Budd

“If you want to proceed, you’ll need to sign here.” Jennifer James took the pen and consent form in her shaking hands, “Has someone gone over the risks with you? I must remind you how dangerous this can be.”

“Yes, yes, that I could lose all my memories for good and become a vegetable, blah, blah, blah.”

Dr Fawcett pushed up his heavy spectacles, “Yes exactly, there are many risks. Memories define us, they build our identity and shape our behaviours…”

“And destroy us completely,” Jennifer sighed and handed back the signed form, “Look doctor, I’ve spent the last ten years drinking from every bottle and scavenging for any drug, my mind is half unravelled anyway. I’m the perfect guinea pig, so let’s get on with this.”

“If you’ve spent the last ten years trying to wipe your memories why are you so keen to re-find them now?”

Jennifer looked down at the recent scars across her wrists and quickly tried to cover them up, Dr Fawcett nodded and understood, “That method doesn’t seem to be working. My shrink said I should gain some closure and sent me to you.”

The room suddenly seemed quieter and smaller, more constricted, Jennifer hated doctors, she hated their questions. Thinking was something she didn’t like doing anymore. “The sweetest memories are also the most painful. Look doctor I know I aint got long left, but there’s a few I want to see one more time. Hopefully they’ll kill me for good this time.”

Dr Fawcett shrugged, “As you wish. We’ll begin straight away.”

A tired overworked nurse came in at the Doctor’s command and wordlessly ushered Jennifer out of his office and down the empty sterile corridor that smelt of cleanliness to the trial area. Plush carpets were replaced with linoleum floors and bright unflinching lights that burned into her retinas.

Jennifer couldn’t believe her luck that she had been selected for the trial. Even to her drug addled mind she could see how this would be revolutionary. A new drug that allowed you access to all your memories from birth onwards. Nothing in life would ever be a mystery again, all the answers could be found with this new drug. She was going to be one of the first to try it out.

She trembled slightly as she was tied down onto an uncomfortable hospital bed with brown leather straps, she was used to this procedure but it still gave her chills to be restricted like this. It reminded her of all those bad times, of how she had ended up in this psychiatric ward.

Jennifer waited, unable to move as they prepared her dose in silence. She felt that slight pricking in her arm as the injection was administered before being wheeled out and placed in a small isolation chamber and left there alone in the darkness.

She waited.

“Jimmy? Are you there?”

As the drug took effect there was a mighty shudder from deep inside her abdomen that threatened to split apart her hips, the blinding pain took control and she screamed out in pain and ecstasy. No one had come to check up on her. Surely they could hear? Jennifer cried out once more she hoped there wasn’t something wrong with her dosage.  Her vision turned to white and the pain quickly subsided as if it had never been there at all.

And there he was, all pink, blubbery and helpless, cradled in her arms. The most perfect child to have ever been born: her child. Her Jimmy.

Jennifer’s body shook with delight as she relived all her precious moments with him, his first smile, his first babble, the first time he ran onto her arms, the way he would hold her tight after hurting himself. The feel of him cuddled up to her on the sofa as they watched TV together and stroking her long hair. How could she have ever forgotten that special way in which he looked into her eyes last thing at night, like she was the only person in his world.

These were the good memories, but over time they had hurt the most. It had been so long since she had allowed herself to think of him but always he was there in her mind, just out sight, painfully out of reach. She vowed to remember these moments forever, this was her life now. She could not go back to the dreary pain and existence afforded to her outside this chamber. This was how she wanted to be.

The drug took control as she remembered all the moments she had spent with Jimmy, her only child. Her bliss transcended to an overwhelming feeling of completeness that no drug could ever give her. This was natural, this drug was a miracle cure, and she had found everything which she had lost.

Until finally she woke up.

Except she was not awake, this was it. Dr Fawcett had told her that she would have had control over which memories she could access that she would not have to relive the ones she did not want to. He could never contemplate just how dark some of her memories were. She had feared this one would eventually surface and now she desperately fought against it.

“Jimmy!”

She tried to remember his funny little run he had, when he’d just learnt how to walk, the way in which he used to wave at her when she returned in the mornings. Her arms and legs shook in retaliation trying to wake herself before the inevitable took hold.

It was a Sunday morning, the worst day where the entire excesses of the week finally caught up with her, she had finally sobered up to face reality. She had not made it to bed but was on the sofa sleeping under her torn denim jacket, her head rattled from drink and the room began to spin as she tried to navigate her clumsy limbs off the sofa. Jennifer had no recollection of the night before, or whom she had spent it with, only that it now hurt and that the only way to stop the flooding feelings of utter shame and guilt was to carry on with the half empty bottle of whisky in front of her.

Jimmy bundled in the front room, all hurricane and torque, “Mummy, mummy, can I have some juice? Mummy, mummy I’m hungry. Play with me mummy. Take me to the park.”

“Jimmy can you just be quiet for ten minutes, Mummy’s got a headache! Go and play somewhere else. I’ll fix you up with breakfast when I’m less poorly.” Jimmy looked down and gently tugged at her elbow, she smacked his little hand away and turned over, back to sleep. He was always bothering her first thing. Could he not see she was tired?

“Oh Jimmy! I’m so sorry.” Jennifer struggled in vain against the drug as it took her closer.

Her next memory was of waking up late afternoon the same day, it was much later. She had not intended to sleep for so long. A day she unfortunately remembered all too well.

Straight away in the pit of her stomach, Jennifer was struck by how quiet it was in the house. There were no cartoons being played on the TV, there were no noises of a little unsupervised child running around loose in their small flat. There was nothing.

“Jimmy?” Jennifer got up by balancing herself against the sofa and shuffling out into the hall way which was spinning rapidly out of focus, “Jimmy? Answer me now?”

A car screeched to a sudden halt outside, it sounded so clear, so near. She turned as she felt a cold breeze shiver upon her back. It felt refreshing until she realised their front door was ajar and Jimmy’s coat and boots were gone.

“Jimmy! Jimmy No!”

She had no more memories of Jimmy after that last moment. Her body was shaking uncontrollably and her head felt like it was fit to burst. She felt a tremendous pain take over her, the pain of loss, it was too much to bear and then like before her vision went white and she woke up on the sofa, it was Sunday morning and her head hurt like hell…..

“No, no, no.” She begged for release but the drug was still rampant running free churning out all her memories like a burglar ransacking a home.

“Quick we’re losing her.” Doctor Galton ordered as Jennifer was rushed out of the isolation chamber and down the corridor to an emergency resuscitation room. Dr Fawcett hovered in the background scribbling on his clipboard of notes, “Why didn’t you raise the alarm earlier Dr Fawcett?”

“I doubt there’s much we can do with this one. Her liver was already on its way out.” Dr Fawcett replied calmly.

“Oh was this the junkie?” One of the nurses asked, “Still I think you’ve given her too much. This was her first dose.”

“She still deserves to live, c’mon we must keep trying,” ordered Doctor Galton trying to have Jennifer resuscitated.

“Does she? She had a son once, I looked in her notes. It’s why I chose her, she has a very colourful past, this one. She couldn’t look after him properly and he died aged three, got hit by a car. At least it was instant for him.”

“That’s awful.” The nurse said.

“Well, she’s stabilised for now, she’ll need a CT scan to assess for any brain damage, or activity. But in my opinion I think she’s brain dead. Something happened in there.” Dr Galton offered in explanation.

Dr Fawcett played with his bushy moustache, “I see, but I still have need of her, take her to my ward.”

The nurse looked stunned but offered up no resistance, “As you wish Dr Fawcett.”

Dr Fawcett returned to his office and pulled out the Dictaphone from inside his walnut desk and began to speak his mind.

“Memories are a funny thing. You can’t stop them once they’re unleashed running around in your mind and your body, the slightest smell, noise or  feeling of déjà vu will bring them back. They can never be truly forgotten. My research has shown that not only is this new drug a force for good where conditions like Alzheimer’s and Amnesia can be cured, it can also be a forceful weapon for those who should never forget what they have done.”

Dr Fawcett sighed, what was the use he asked himself. He knew already that straight away this new drug would be instantly banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, but he was still determined to go ahead anyway. To punish the sorts of people that were responsible for the death of his wife ten years ago. Robbed and killed by hungry junkies for the ten pounds she had in her wallet that day.

There was a knock on the door, Dr Galton came in looking dishevelled still in his blue scrubs. He came right up to Dr Fawcett sitting behind his desk.

“It’s not right keeping Jennifer alive, she’s brain dead. The kindest thing to do for her now is to turn off her machine. What do you still want with her?”

“Doctor Galton may I remind you that I have authority here, she is my patient and she signed the consent form. I could do anything I like to her.”

“You’re sick,” Dr Galton spat as he stormed off.

Dr Fawcett smiled and took out his Dictaphone once more.

“What’s really remarkable about this drug, it that not only are all the patient’s memories experienced from birth accessible but that it’s possible to select which ones they have access to. It is the most horrifying and painful memories that are most often supressed by the test subjects but these can be found by giving a higher dosage. Once they are released back into the conscious stream so to speak, it is possible for the patient to relive them over and over again as long as the high dosage is maintained.”

There was another knock of the door as a nurse entered.

“What have you got for me Elaine?”

“We have stabilised Ms Jennifer James, though she’s still in a coma, Doctor Galton says she’s brain dead but her pulse is still elevated and there’s some occasional flickering being observed in her eyelids and fingers.”

“Good,” He pressed the record button once more.

“It is my hypothesis that memories are so powerful that they can still be experienced when the patient has become brain dead. Effectively they will keep on reliving the same memories they spent their whole life trying to erase, over and over again. Such a marvellous thing.”

“Shall we turn her off? No one will come to claim her.” The nurse asked.

Dr Fawcett grinned, “No let’s leave her on, and up her dosage. All she has left are her memories.”

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Scuttle Bug by Matthew Johnson

Amanda’s gut churned, ripping the delicate fabric of sleep. Her eyes flew open as waves of pain shuddered between her legs. She threw off the covers, thoughts veiled in thick fog of disbelief, a dream-like numbing skirting the edges of nightmare, and slowly, as another wave of pain struck, she comprehended what was happening and screamed.
Visible in the morning half-light, a black tail wagged through a ragged grapefruit-sized hole in her purple panties. Blood trickled down her thighs, staining her crotch dark red and soaking into the mattress cover. The cramping worsened as the creature burrowed inside.
“Get out!” she screeched, grabbing the black tail and yanking. Only it wasn’t a tail, but a segmented shell with pincers at the end that pinched the fleshy part between her thumb and palm. They pried at her hand as she tugged its backend. Amanda gasped, tears rolling down her cheeks. A strange mewling escaped her mouth as she struggled to birth the monstrosity clawing its way up inside her. Greased by blood, her hands slipped off the creature’s segmented rear, allowing it to dig further inside.
Amanda tried to sit up, but the pain cramping in her uterus dropped her back onto the bed. Her shoulder bumped against the nightstand, knocking off the copy of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, followed by the glass of water which shattered on the hardwood floor. Once more she wrapped her hands around the creature’s black, waggling abdomen. She carefully pulled, trying not to imagine the creature splitting in half, spilling its blood and innards inside her. 
A horrific certainty filled with panic: if it didn’t get out now, it never would. She would die with it inside. Then what? Lay its eggs in her ovaries to hatch a hundred baby creatures that would chew their way out of her bloated corpse? Her hands began to slip. She squeezed harder, bearing down not just with her fingers, but also her pelvic muscles. Her bladder released a warm flow of urine down the creature’s back and over her hands. The smell of blood and urine burned in her nose. 
She felt it slipping from inside her and falling half way out. It squirmed to get back inside. Two scuttling legs tangled in her pubic hair tried to gain traction. They twisted, tearing free from the fine hairs, only to slide out from the blood. More of the creature followed until an almost foot-long black body, six legs flailing, and finally a head the size of golf ball with antennae cleared the shredded folds of her panties.
“Get the fuck away from me,” she screeched, tossing the creature across the room. It thudded against the far wall, leaving behind a red smear where it struck. She trembled, bile crawling up her throat as its beady black eyes turned on her, and its head tilted as though weighing its options. Its mandibles, glossy red with a shred of flesh hanging from them, clicked together producing a chittering noise. Amanda threw a pillow and the creature scurried towards her. She screeched, listening to its feet pattering on the hardwood floor beneath the bed. She stared down at the mattress terrified that it could crawl back up to get her. No, there were springs and foam inside to stop it.
As if in reply, it thumped against the bottom of the mattress.
“What do you want?”
Another thump, followed by tearing of fabric. Vibrations shook the mattress directly beneath her. Amanda crawled to the opposite side of the bed, watching as the cover split open and black pincers poked through.
She jumped off the bed, crumpling onto the floor, doubled over by painful cramps. Tiny red droplets speckled the oak-wood. Antennae popped up between the split cover, touched the blood and bent them towards its mandibles. Its beady eyes tracked the room and discovered her. They stared at each other for a brief moment.
Then it crawled up through the mattress and scurried after her.
Amanda scooched backwards leaving a red trail. The pain hurt like a hot poker jammed inside so she couldn’t walk let alone run away. Her tattered panties slid down her thighs. She backed against the wall next to her open closet. The creature dropped to the floor, its antennae touching the blood Amanda left behind. It made a jittering sound of vibrating clicks as it approached her, testing the blood every couple steps. Amanda, without taking her eye off the creature, reached into the closet for anything she could grasp. One antennae touched her foot and she pulled it up under her.
With its mandibles open, the thing scuttled quickly towards her. Amanda’s hand frantically grabbed the first it could from the closet. She swung a high heeled shoe, the two inch tip smashing the creature, crushing its head, and pinning it to the floor. The creature twitched and several white, gelatinous balls rolled out from its backside. They pulsated on the hardwood floor. Amanda recognized them as eggs.
The thing intended to bury them inside her and turn her womb into an incubator for monstrous babies.
She plucked up the high heel and smashed the eggs repeatedly until they were nothing but white goo. Laughing cries hiccoughed from her throat, the room echoed with thromping of plastic sole on hardwood. The shoe flew from her red, sweaty hands clattering out of reach. Amanda sat back, wiping her dripping nose on her pink nightie. Rage sated, the pain returned. The bleeding hadn’t stopped and she didn’t think it would on its own. She needed help.
She removed the tattered remains of her panties and used them to cover the dead creature on the floor. Looking at it made her quiver in disgust. She managed to hide the smashed head, leaving its black segmented end sticking out, and crawled to the bed. After dragging herself up on the mattress, she reached across to the nightstand and picked up her cell phone, dialing 911.
“What is your emergency?” the operator asked, a woman which Amanda was grateful to hear. She might sympathize more than a man.
“I need an ambulance,” Amanda said. “I’m bleeding and it won’t stop.”
“Where are you bleeding?”
“Down there,” she said, hoping this lady operator would understand. “I was attacked.”
“Are you safe?”
“Yes.”
“I have dispatched an ambulance, ma’am. Stay on the phone.”
Less than twenty minutes passed and she heard sirens pull up in front of her home. Amanda dropped the cell phone on the pillow. There was a pounding at the front door. She remembered locking it last night, a night that seemed months ago, but couldn’t get up to unlock it. After some shouting, the wooden door splintered and two firefighters entered her room.
Amanda had pulled up a sheet to shield her dignity.
“Can you move?” one of the firefighters asked.
She shook her head and pointed at her lower belly.
“Holy shit,” the other firefighter said, staring at the dead creature on the floor by the closet. “What the hell is that thing?”
The other firefighter kicked off the panties.
“Looks like a giant earwig.”
No, it’s a vaginawig, Amanda thought, hysterical laughter choking her once more. The firemen looked at her, but didn’t say a word.
A pair of EMTs brought in a gurney and the four men used the mattress cover to transfer Amanda onto it. As they wheeled her outside, she noticed a white van parked in her neighbor’s driveway. Advertised on its side was a cartoon bug surrounded by gas and clutching its throat, eyes bulging. Peter’s Pest control. A man wearing a mask and carrying a tank on his back stopped to watch the commotion. The goggles protecting his eyes made them insectile– black and round. He held a metal rod connected to a hose in the tank. He just watched as they wheeled her past.
“I don’t know why they bother with poisoning?” One of the EMT’s commented. “The bugs find other places to hide and breed.”

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More Plastic Wrap by Florence Ann Marlowe

The gloom descended on him the moment his sneaker touched the broken walk leading to his mother’s house.  It was as if a cloud had taken up permanent residence over the green tiled house.  Michael looked up at the grimy windows and they stared back with baleful black eyes. “The beast” as Michael liked to call it, waited for his return, laughing at him.  It knew he was a prisoner, unable to escape.
The rusty mailbox, clinging to the side of the house by one screw, hung heavy with the day’s mail.  Michael shifted the plastic bags to one hand and dug out the fistful of envelopes.  Bills, advertisements and his mother’s social security check.  He gritted his teeth.  Another reminder that he was not his own man. 
Hoping not to wake her, Michael crept through the door – but the house betrayed him.  The door creaked, squealing on him.  Under his breath he cursed the miserable old beast. 
“Izzat you, Mikey?”
Her voice was like a buzz saw gnawing at the nerves in his ears.  Michael felt his lips curl back into a snarl.
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“Did you get me my smokes?”
He tossed the bags on the kitchen table.  They contained three packs of Marlboros, six sticks of Slim Jims and a thirty-two ounce bottle of blue Gatorade.
“Did you get my smokes, sweetie?”  Her scratchy, witchy voice clawed its way from her bedroom upstairs.  
Michael shouted back. “Yeah, I got everything.  Here’s your mail.”  Under his breath he muttered, “Ya crazy, old bitch.”
His mother gingerly climbed down the stairs in a dingy pink housedress and terry cloth scuffs.  She was a tiny woman peering out beneath heavy black framed eyeglasses.  A nearly spent cigarette hung from her lips as she approached her only son.
“Didja have enough money for everything?”
Michael grunted and nodded.
The old woman patted his arm and eased herself into a chair to look through the mail; Michael flinched at her touch.
Thirty-two and living at home with his elderly mother, Michael acknowledged his failure. He had moved in with her when he dropped out of community college and swore it would only be until “he got on his feet.”  The years rolled by and there was always a reason he was unable to move out.  His mother pretended he was there to take care of her, but Michael felt trapped – trapped by the monstrous old house and his clingy hag of a mother.
She rifled through the bags.
“What the hell is all this?  I didn’t tell you to get this.”  The tone of her voice turned sour.
Michael grabbed at the bottle of Gatorade.  “I bought them for myself.”
“Not with my money!”
“No!”  Michael lied.  “I’ve got my own money.” Michael had already cashed his measly check from the video store and the piddling remains sat in his wallet.
The old woman patted his arm and nodded.  “All right, honey.  You can have your candy.” 
Michael furiously ripped open a Slim Jim and tore off a piece with his teeth.  The salty dried meat tasted bitter in his mouth. 
“Sweetie,” his mother said.  “You wanna take my check to the bank and cash it now?”
“Not now, Ma.” Michael said.
“But Mikey, I just signed it.” 
Michael gritted his teeth and headed for his room.
“It’s got my name on it now.  What if I lose it or what if someone breaks in?”
“I’ll do it tomorrow.”  Michael growled. 
The old woman sighed.  ‘All right, honey.  I know you’re tired.  You rest up.”
Michael rolled his eyes and bit off another huge chunk of Slim Jim.
“I don’t feel so good.” She struggled to stand. “I’m gonna go lay down.”
He watched his mother’s tiny form shuffle back up the stairs, the saggy flesh of her upper arms waggling with each step. Her door clicked shut and he could hear her coughing. 
Alone later in his room Michael pulled a stack of dog-eared magazines from under his bed.  He rifled through the pile, knowing well the contents of each one by the cover.  The pubescent blue-eyed nymph sucking her forefinger while staring innocently at the camera promised many pages of girl on girl action beyond the cover.  Michael chose the cover with a dark haired vamp pulling bright red chewing gum from her lips in a long slippery trail.  He knew he’d find several pages of beaver shots glistening within. 
Michael slid his hand into his pajama pants and began to fondle his balls.  His vision blurred slightly as he got caught up in the images of young women on their backs, their legs open, forming a perfect V and the smooth, slick pinkness lying between their thighs.  He sighed and closed his eyes as he began to caress his erect cock when he heard his mother coughing in the next room.
Michael’s hand froze. He waited for the coughing fit to die out and then resumed playing with himself.
In his mind the nubile blonde from the magazine’s pages crawled onto his bed and laid her soft lips on his cock.  Her eyes were locked onto his as she dragged her tongue up the shaft and traced the tip of her tongue along the ridge of his big mushroom head.  He slid his hand up and down faster along his penis when his mother started a new bought of throat wrenching coughs.
Michael shouted to her.  “You all right, Ma?”  He couldn’t very well tell her to “shut the fuck up, I’m trying to concentrate here!”  
In between coughing fits she called back, “I’m all right!  I just need some water!”
He leaned back in bed and gripped his cock with one hand until it hurt.  She was still hacking.  Michael tossed the magazines onto the floor and stared at the dark ceiling.  Friggin’ crazy bitch was going to cough all night. 
It sounded like she was in the room with him.  He rolled onto his stomach, his cheated penis aching. Why wouldn’t she leave him in peace?  Her coughs echoed through the old house.  It was as if the walls were mimicking her, coughing back in sympathy.
The coughing fit continued.  He could hear her straining to bring up whatever was blocking her throat and he felt his stomach roil in protest.  Each jagged hack was like a blow to the back of his head. The last thing he thought before falling asleep was “disgusting old bitch.”
Just past four in the morning, Michael stirred in his sleep.  Foggy, he sat up and listened.  His mother was calling his name.
“Mikey, I need you!”  She was struggling to speak.  Michael could hear her gasping and wheezing.   Her voice was strangled.  “Mikey!”
Michael felt no urgency to get up.  A great lethargy seemed to wash over him as he listened to his mother’s rasping calls.  He lay staring into the dark, only glancing once at his alarm clock to check the time.
Michael was well aware what had happened, it had happened before.  She fell asleep on her back and the mix of phlegm and tobacco in her throat had formed a plug.  She was choking.  But all she had to do was go into the bathroom and get a drink of water.
She gagged as she tried to dislodge the obstruction.  The sound turned his stomach.  Her voice, normally high pitched and whining sounded like a frog as it struggled to escape her clotted throat.
“Mickey, help! Water!”
He could hear her gasps and moans drifting down the hallway.  Instead of feeling alarmed, Michael felt nothing but excitement. Her labored breathing created a rhythmic pattern.  It reminded Michael of something he’d read as a kid in the school library.  “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”   He began to chant the words under his blanket, along with the phlegmatic sound of his mother’s wheezing.
He stopped chanting and listened.  He could hear a weak, barely audible whistle from the next room; a rattling whistle like steam being expelled through a narrow pipe. 
It tittered several times before petering out into a wet rattle. 
“Mom?” he whispered and pulled the blanket down.  A cool breeze wafted against his cheek.  There was no answer.  For once, the house was silent.   He tried again in the softest voice possible.
“Mom?”
When he received no answer, he pulled his covers up and lay staring into the dark for nearly an hour before finally drifting off to sleep.
The next morning Michael waited until sunlight pierced the muddied windows in his room. The alarm clock near his bed said it was twenty past ten. The house was unnaturally still.
In nothing but his pajama pants, he crept down the hallway towards his mother’s room.  The door was still closed.  There was an unseasonal chill in the house.  The air felt frosty – like a wet, cool breeze snaked its way through the hallway.
Michael leaned an ear against the door to listen and the wood itself seemed to sear his flesh.  He pulled way.  A film of sweat lay on his upper lip as he caught the metal door knob in his hand. The knob felt icy cold as it turned.  He allowed the door to ease open just a few inches before peeking inside. 
She was lying on the bed in a tangle of bedclothes.  One skinny leg stuck out, a slipper dangling from her foot.  She was wearing the clunky eyeglasses; her head thrown back against the headboard.  Michael pulled the door shut with a jerk.
The texture of the wood, the bubbles in the yellowed paint seemed to grow before him.  A tattered spider web hung in the corner above the stair case and Michael watched it sway gently.
His heart thumped in his chest. He rapped at the door with his knuckle and it sounded brutal.  He pushed the door open and whispered, “Ma?”  The door swung open and the picture was still the same.  His mother was frozen in an absurd ballet pose, half in and half out of the bed.  Michael padded into the room. Standing at the foot of his mother’s bed the room seemed impossibly neat save for the box of tissues and three packs of Marlboros on her nightstand, one already open and missing several cigarettes.  The white and pink quilt, lumpy and misshapen from too many rolls in the dryer, still lay neatly folded across the foot of her bed.  A litter of used tissues was scattered all over the floor beneath her one slippered foot.  
In the time it took Michael to move from the door to his mother’s bedside, he took in the white flecks of dry spittle around her mouth, the yellow discharge on the front of her pink nightgown and the glaze of her open eyes beneath the thick lenses.   He leaned forward as if to touch her and then bolted from the room.  He dashed into the bathroom; pitching forward over the sink; dry heaving.  The ghostly taste of Slim Jims filled his mouth. 
His mother was dead.  His mother was dead and she was lying in her bed like a stumpy manikin.   Michael dropped his ass onto the toilet and gathered up the legs of his pajamas.  She was dead – which was all right, Michael thought.  It was gross, but it was all right.  She was old, she was sixty-eight.  That was pretty old, wasn’t it?  She died of old age. 
He glanced into the hallway and realized he’d left the bedroom door open.  He imagined his mother’s still poised as if she were climbing out of her bed, staring at the ceiling.  He’d have to close the door before they came.  Who the hell was coming?  He’d have to call the police or the paramedics.  Who do you call when someone is already dead?  He’d have to figure out who to call.  Then what?  What happens after they come?
Michael skidded past his mother’s door and sprinted down the stairs to the kitchen. He pulled the fridge open and grabbed the container of orange juice.  He gulped big mouthfuls directly from the spout.  Finally he slumped down at the table and stared at the Formica top. The sugar dispenser and the salt and pepper shakers were arranged in a neat little triangle in the center of the table.  His mother had used them as paperweights to keep her precious Social Security check in place.  Michael put one finger on the pale yellow piece of paper and dragged it over to his side of the table.
Michael picked up the check and turned it over.  His mother’s neat, almost artistic looking signature was scrawled at the edge of the back of the check.  Funerals were expensive.  He looked up at the horrid yellow wallpaper and the garish light fixture dangling above.  He could sell “the beast.”  There had to be a will somewhere – although his Mom had always had a superstitious fear of talking about her own death.  What if there was no will?  And even if there was the rickety monstrosity could take years to sell.
His mother’s check felt hot in his hands.  “The beast” was paid off.  Who had to know if the old woman was dead?  Who would tell?  If she never left the house, it would be his secret – his and “the beast’s.”
His mother had been a small woman. Barely five feet tall, she claimed to have “shrunk” over the years. Michael considered storing her body in a plastic garbage bag, but he needed something more permanent.  In the closet between their rooms, a green Rubbermaid container had been stashed to hold the few Christmas decorations his mother bothered with each year. 
He brought a fresh garbage bag into the bedroom and regarded his mother’s still form. Michael had wanted to use her pink quilt as a type of shroud and just wrap her body up and dump it into the container.  Her body wouldn’t bend the way he needed in order to fit her into the container.  The garbage bag proved useless too.  It slipped and slid as he tried to cover her up. Her arms kept popping out. 
Michael had to abandon the quilt and roll her body off the bed and into the container. He shuddered each time his fingers gripped his mother’s cold lifeless limbs. He forced the arms to lie flat next to his mother’s sides and pushed her head down until it touched her boney knees.  When he stepped back, sweat pouring down his cheeks into his collar, her grizzled little head popped up slightly.
Michael forced the lid onto the container, pushing his mother’s body down.  There was some resistance, but he pressed the corners of the lid until he heard that satisfying snap of the sides locking into place.  A wild thought fluttered into his head:  that should keep her nice and fresh.  Michael allowed a high pitched giggle to escape his lips before he dragged the box into the hall. The box traveled in a series of short shoves and grunts.  There was only one place to store the box:  the hallway closet where he got the container from to begin with.
His mother’s winter coats and heavy suits hung above her final resting place.  Michael slid the box in as far as it would go until it hit the back wall of the closet.  The house was mercifully silent but he could feel it judging him as he closed the door.
The bank had no problem cashing his mother’s pension check.  He’d done it many times over the past few years and had even signed it for her himself.  He took the cash home in his wallet, reminding himself to take a look at her checkbook when he got home.  He treated everyone to Chinese food for lunch at the Video store and bought himself a new video game.  For dinner later that night, he treated himself to a dozen White Castles and a case of beer.
At home he tiptoed passed the closed door of his mother’s bedroom.  Pushing his sneakers off without untying the laces, he dropped onto his bed, face down. Soon he was drifting through a foggy world where he was at Donegal’s pub, tossing back beers and laughing his ass off with the buxom brunette from his magazine. The dark haired beauty wrapped one leg around his and pushed her tongue into his mouth when his mother started coughing.  Michael snorted and shook himself awake
“You okay, Ma?” he mumbled, rubbing at his scruffy face.  The wet coughing continued for a few seconds before Michael was shocked awake and sober.  He sat up, swinging his legs to the side of the bed and listened.  There was silence.  He dropped his feet to the floor and stumbled into the hallway.  His mother’s bedroom door was ajar. 
He scuffed down the hall as if he were walking through gelatin.  His brain tingled like mad when he stopped in the doorway and scanned the empty room.  The bed was naked, stripped of its linens. He was sure he’d shut the door after storing the body laden container in the closet.  He glanced down the hall at the closet door.   
He closed the bedroom door and shuffled back down the hall to his room.  As he passed the closet he caught a whiff of an unpleasant, sour odor.  He snuffled, running a finger under his nose.  Yeah, he thought, she’s in there. 
The next morning, Michael stood in front of the bathroom sink, splashing cold water over his face.  He looked dreadful.  His face was pasty and bloated looking.  His eyes were rimmed with red.  His stomach was unhappy and there was a horrid sour smell in the air. 
Michael wiped his face with a dirty towel and looked in the mirror.  He could see the hallway closet lurking in the corner behind him. The sour odor drifted down the hall.. 
Michael’s mom always kept several rolls of clear plastic wrap in the kitchen.  He used his fingernails to claw at the end of the roll and pulled a long sheet of the transparent material.  His plan had been to wrap it around his mother’s body, but he couldn’t bear to open the container and face what was inside.  Instead he decided to wrap the entire container in as many sheets of plastic wrap as he could.
The tenacity of the wrap amazed him.  It refused to leave home base and fought off all attempts Michael made to rip a piece from the main body of wrap.  When he finally did get a strip free, it clung to his fingers and sucked at his bare arms.  He found himself flapping his arms around, trying to free himself of the parasitic clutches of the plastic.  He finally got one layer of wrap around the girth of the container.  He began to pull off a second sheet when the wrap came to a sudden end. No worries, he thought.  There’s always more plastic wrap.
He found the second roll of plastic wrap and wound several layers around the box before it gave out. He left the plastic attached to the roll and wrapped the container until all that was left was the very end of the roll.  He tried to rip it free with his fingers and then attacked the sheet with his teeth.  His face came close to the container and the odor seemed to bounce back at him, attacking his nostrils.  Finally the container was muffled under five layers of clear plastic wrap. 
Satisfied the smell was contained for good, Michael slid the box back into the closet.  The plastic wrap had built up beneath the box, keeping it from sliding freely over the linoleum floor.  Michael felt something jostle inside the box as he pushed it into the recesses of the closet.  He jumped and pulled away.  The box sat silently in its make shift tomb and Michael shut the door.
*******
Days later the smell was invasive forcing him to go out and buy more plastic wrap.  He could feel it curling around the edges of the front door as he turned the key.  When he pushed the door open, it rushed to meet his nose and rubbed against his face like an affectionate cat.  When he closed the door behind him it seemed to envelop him, making him gag.  He swore he could see green tendrils of the toxic fumes hanging in the air.
Michael opened the closet door and the smell pumped into the hallway.  His eyes teared.  With ginger hands, he pulled the mummified Rubbermaid container out.  Michael studied the neatly wrapped package.  The layers looked rippled in spots, as if someone had tried to tamper with it.  Michael shook his head.  It was just more of a mess than he had remembered. 
He opened the first box of wrap and wound it in one direction around the box until the roll of plastic was spent.  He opened a second box and wound it around in the opposite direction. He finally used another whole roll over the entire thing, winding it tightly until it resembled a transparent bee hive.  The dark green container could barely be seen beneath its cellophane cocoon.  He had a hard time shoving the box back into the closet; its lumpy overcoat skidded against the floor.  Before he closed the door, he thought he heard something bounce and settle within the container. 
The highboy dresser in his mother’s room was just narrow enough to fit in the hallway.  Michael pushed it into the hall and slid it in front of the closet door.  He wasn’t sure it would do anything about the smell, but he felt better not seeing the closet door.   On top of the dresser he began to place sticks of solid air freshener.  He’d grabbed the colorful columns of solid deodorants off of the supermarket shelf, not paying attention to what fragrances they held.  He opened each one and twisted the covers off, displaying the stick of fragrance.  The combined aroma was unpleasant, but tolerable and he thought he could sleep.
He woke with a start hours later.  His mother was coughing.  He lay frozen in bed, his eyes wide in the darkness.  He could clearly hear the staccato of her smoker’s hack.  It was muffled as if it came from behind a closed door; muffled as if it came from layers of plastic cling wrap. 
“Mikey?”
As if he’d been shocked by high voltage, Michael sat up in bed.  He stared at his bedroom door as if he could will it to lock out anything that might wander in from the hallway.  The coughing had stopped, but his ears strained for any sound.  And then it came.
He could hear a crisp, dry crinkling sound. 
It was a crinkly, crackling sound like layers and layers of plastic being peeled away.  His heart battered against his rib cage.  A tearing sound, a clean ripping and a thud.  And then a wet splat, something like the slap of raw meat on the floor. 
Michael swallowed and listened again.  There was silence.  His head seemed to clear and he ran his hand over the front of his underwear.  They were damp.  He shook his head as if to rattle his brain.   It had been a nightmare.  The house, in its gloomy brooding, was still. It was toying with his brain. He slipped under the covers and glanced at the alarm clock.  It was just past four.
The next morning the smell still lingered in the hall.  Michael had bought ten rolls of cellophane, but pulling the dresser from the closet and opening the door was out of the question.  If he opened the door and the plastic wrap he had labored to seal the Rubbermaid container was tattered, rendered from the strain of the lid being pried open from within he would lose his mind. What if the lid had been dislodged and his mother’s decaying, blackened hand was sticking out, the nails clawing through the plastic wrap?  What if he opened the closet door and his mother’s putrefied corpse was sitting on top of the box, shreds of cling wrap lying at her feet, her accusing eyes bulging from behind her clunky glasses?
Michael scrubbed at his face.  The dark corners of the musty old house were drawing him in.  He refused to go mad.  It was just a bad smell and these things could be dealt with.
He carried an armful of air fresheners into the hallway and began to open them and place them around the dresser on the floor.  Michael fought not to see the wisps of cigarette smoke that he was sure was escaping the seams around the  closet door.
He dreaded nightfall.  Everything was different once the sun went down.  The dreary house became ominous, like a cranky old man.  Shadows seemed to dart out just beyond Michael’s peripheral vision.  He could hear thumping sounds from the hallway.  At one point, right after sunset, Michael thought he heard his mother’s bedroom door open.  Too frightened to look, he muted the television and stared straight ahead, listening.  The back of his skull tingled when he thought he heard the shuffling of her slippered feet.  He whirled around, a thin scream clawing at his throat, but nothing was there. 
That night Michael locked himself in his room.  He kept telling himself it was all in his head, the noises, the shadows, even the smell.  There was definitely a smell, a terrible smell; but it was not a visible vapor that dogged him from room to room.
He dozed off into a cloud of unrest where he could hear the crackling of plastic and fleshy footsteps in the hallway.  He jerked awake a few times when he thought he smelled cigarettes burning, but exhaustion forced him back to slumber.  Sometime in the middle of the night he dreamed that his mother was in his room, hovering over his bed.  He opened sleepy eyes and saw her face, blackened like an overripe banana, floating behind her thick glasses.  She leaned close enough that he could feel her whistling, wheezing breath on his face and the heat of her own flesh decaying. 
Michael bounded from his bed, his hands outstretched, fully expecting his fingers perforate her pulpy flesh.  He was alone in his room.  Clutching his chest, he looked at himself in the mirror over his dresser.  His chin was scruffy with bristles.  He hadn’t shaven in days.  His eyes looked like wet holes in his head.  He needed escape.
When he opened his bedroom door the odor of the apartment scrabbled at his throat.  It was thick and powerful.  He sprinted past the dresser in the hallway.  The stench followed him like an eager puppy. Michael gagged and somewhere upstairs something echoed his cough.
At the Quik-mart, he bought an egg and sausage sandwich and an orange Gatorade.  As he left the store, he unwrapped the sandwich and took a huge bite.  It tasted greasy. Behind him an older man wearing a blue windbreaker and baseball cap stood drinking a cup of steaming coffee.  He nodded to Michael and took a long drag from his cigarette which started a coughing fit. 
The sandwich suddenly tasted of ashes.
The older gentleman shrugged and motioned to the lit cigarette with his coffee cup.
“These things are gonna kill me one day, but whattaya gonna do?”
Michael tossed his sandwich into the dumpster and took a swig from his Gatorade before heading home.
The odor greeted him as he stepped into the apartment.  It was happy he was home.  He pushed past it, covering his mouth with his hand.   It seemed to grapple down his throat, searching for his intestines.  He could feel it winding through his guts like a snake. 
The air in the old house was toxic.  Mingling with the flowery and fruity smells of the deodorizing sticks, the resulting aroma was nauseatingly sweet. The odor came from a box wrapped in miles of plastic wrap. He needed to keep the odor in the closet or his mother wouldn’t stay put.  What would keep them both in?  More plastic wrap.
Michael dropped the boxes of expensive, brand name wrap on the floor in front of the closet.  He pushed the dresser away and stared at the closed door.  No power in the world could compel him to open that door.  He pulled one container of cling wrap open and then another.  He carefully placed a sheet of wrap over the closed door, sealing off the edges of the door frame, blocking the escape route for the bad smell.  The cling wouldn’t stay clung.  When he applied a second layer of wrap it fell forward.  He watched it drift down in slow motion. 
Michael searched the drawers in the living room until he found the stapler.  He attached each layer of wrap to the wall with the stapler, flattening out little pillows of putrid air trapped beneath the plastic.
He pushed the dresser back in place and inhaled deeply.  The foul smell was still there, but faint.  He was confident he had weakened it.  Looking up at the cracked ceiling he chuckled.   This house won’t beat me. You won’t be my tomb!
A blanket of perspiration lay on his skin.  A job well done, he thought as he kicked aside the empty cling boxes.  He picked up the last remaining box and took it into his bedroom.  His bedroom was safe.  The smell couldn’t get to him there.
The sun was setting as Michael lay, fully clothed, on his bed.  He was listening to the creaking house.  A bird warbled outside and the wind tree branches against the window.  Michael could hear the heartbeat of “the beast.”  It seemed content.  Beneath it all he could hear the soft purring sound of brittle fingers cutting through layers and layers of cellophane. 
Across his chest, Michael held the last unopened box of plastic wrap.  He picked at the cardboard lid until he freed the roll within and pinched the end of the cellophane sheet.  He peeled a good sized piece of wrap from the box and sliced it across the metal edge.  He let the blurry gossamer sheet flutter in his hand like a translucent sail.
From the hallway he could hear the sound of plastic being shred.  He could hear a muffled thump and then another like the frustrated pounding of someone locked out – or in.  Michael let the cling wrap float down over his face.  He smiled as it folded itself over his cheeks.  He was a big boy, he thought.  He could handle anything.  All he needed was more plastic wrap.
As his bedroom door slowly swung open, he grabbed the edges of the plastic cling wrap and drew them down tightly over his face and took a deep breath.
END

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Open For Submissions!

Deadman’s Tome is open for submissions.

Writers of horror, send to the Tome stories of so terrifying, so horrific, that the very text haunts the reader!

Please send short story submissions of no more than 5000 words to

Jessecdedman@gmail.com

Deadman’s Tome will offer payment for certain submissions based on quality. Minimum of $5 with additional payout based on performance and reception calculated at a rate held at the discretion of the Editor-in-chief.

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Erotic Horror Writing Contest

Deadman’s Tome is now accepting submissions for a horror erotica writing contest open from June 28, 2014 to September 30, 2014. All submissions must follow these guidelines to even be considered.

  • Short Stories 
  • 5,000 word limit. 
  • Spel Cehcked
  • .doc, .docx, .pdf 
  • Sent to Jessecdedman@gmail (dot) com

How it works:

  • Submissions will be screened by the editor
  • Submissions that are accepted will be hosted on the blog
  • Reader’s choice is determined by the amount of likes, shares, and comments received
  • Editor Choice is determined by me

Rewards:

  • Editor Top Picks will receive $50 Amazon gift card.
  • Reader’s Choice will receive $25 Amazon gift card
  • Recognition of readers world-wide.
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Uncertainty

As the title reveals, I’m not too sure about the longevity of Deadman’s Tome. The truth is that submissions have not been coming in, and it might have something to do with the lack of site promotion. The drive I had for the site, the passion, has been derailed simply due to distraction and priorities.

To reveal even more, I work at a psychiatric facility as a mental health tech and deal with a mountain of absurd, unfathomable stuff on a daily basis. When I get off of work, I don’t feel like plugging the site or even plugging one of my own productions. I feel like having a beer, lifting weights, and perhaps attending to the grad work I’ve been meaning to complete.

While it is saddens me that Deadman’s Tome may not exist a few months from now, it served its purpose. The site gave exposure to writers of various skill and style. But in this day and age, anyone with wifi access can create their own means of exposure. A simple blog could achieve what Deadman’s Tome did for some. The difference is that I put money in advertising and struggled to get it “out there” but that’s the price.

My overall point is that I don’t have the drive I once did for Deadman’s Tome. I have other priorities now. To those that have assisted Deadman’s Tome throughout the years, thank you. I will stay in contact and will help promote your future titles anytime. I will create a more personalized blog in the future, one that allows me to focus on giving back to the authors that assisted me.