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Popcorn – Wayne Summers

 

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“How long’s it been there?” asked Shirley, her flabby arms akimbo.

Tina, seventeen, scrawny and wearing too much eye make-up, was jabbing at the dead creature with a broom handle. Her face was contorted in disgust. “Well how am I supposed to know?”

“You’re supposed to know because you’re supposed to clean that popcorn machine every night,” said Shirley, her brow heavy over eyes narrowed by fat, puffy cheeks.

“We do clean it every night but not back there,” snapped Tina, chewing a piece of gum that had long since lost its flavour. “It’s joined to the glass. Ewwww it must have got melted on.”

She gave the dead creature a few more jabs and succeeded in dislodging it.

“You’ve left a bit on the glass,” Shirley noticed, pointing to a small ring of flesh.

Tina sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes. She reached behind the popcorn machine with an old rag in her hand and scraped the last traces of the dead creature from the back of the popcorn machine.

“What was that?” Shirley asked, leaning in to get a better look.

Tina jumped back. “What?” she shrieked. “Is there another one?”

Shirley frowned. “No you twit. Something fell out of its…its butt and landed in the popcorn.”

Both women brought their faces up to the glass and examined the inside of the glass cabinet.

“It’s drilled a hole through the glass,” Tina observed.

“There it is,” said Shirley, ignoring Tina’s statement of the obvious. “What is it? It looks kinda like, like an egg.”

“Look there’s more of them,” said Tina. “Yuk Shirl! How long has that thing been laying eggs in the popcorn?”

Shirley’s face turned a pale shade of white – not because of any concern for the cinema going public but because she been rather fond of picking at the popcorn when no-one was watching. Tina wore a matching expression of horror. The problem was that there was no way of telling how many eggs each of them had ingested since the eggs themselves looked remarkably like pieces of popped corn.

Shirley tried not to think about what may be lurking in her intestines but the harder she tried to push the thought from her mind, the more vivid the images became. But as they do, one thought led to another and soon she was imagining what might have been growing inside the eggs, growing inside her at this very moment! A wave of nausea swept like a tsunami over her, giving only the shortest warning of what would happen next. With her mouth stretched wide she leant forward and a stream of popcorn vomit sprayed the glass cabinet and the floor beneath. Tina, who had a weak stomach at the best of times, caught only a whiff of it and started throwing up herself.

Even when she arrived home, the stench of vomit still strong in her nostrils, Shirley could not get the creature and its eggs out of her mind. She hurried into the bathroom, turned on the bath tap and while she waited for it to run she brushed her teeth.   

The warm water flowed around her bulk as she settled into the bath. She rested her head back against the end of the bath and closed her eyes. A long sigh slid from her lips.

As visions of the dead bug stole into her consciousness she pushed them away, replacing them with more mundane thoughts. What did she feel like for dinner? Remember to buy some sponges for work. They had used the last two cleaning up the vomit. Keep the receipt.   

While her mind was occupied on blocking out all memory of her nightmare discovery at work her fingers were kept busy scratching an itch on her leg and then another one on her belly.

Buy more milk. Did she need cat food? She’d have to check.

The itchiness persisted; her thigh this time, and just above her left breast. Another itch just above her hip demanded her attention. Only then did she realise how itchy her whole body had all of a sudden become. It also happened that at that precise moment the itchiness turned into pin pricks of burning white heat.

Panic radiated from her eyes. Splashes of water jumped the side of the bath and flooded the tiled floor as she struggled to alleviate the pain.

Then her wide eyes became wider still as a tiny head, all tiny, jagged teeth and throat, punctured the flesh of her stomach. She screamed and started slapping the worm-like intruder with the palm of her hand. It disappeared back below the skin while another of its kind appeared above her left breast and another on her thigh. Tears streamed from her eyes as more and more of the toothy worms ate their way through her vast stores of flesh. Rivulets of blood poured from each wound, staining the water a pale red.

She scrambled to her feet nearly slipping but saving herself from falling by landing against the wall, pressing her bulk against it as the worms bit back into her flesh, tunnelling through it, eating flesh, muscle and nerve, and growing at an alarmingly exorbitant rate. Her naked body was streaked red. Her vision started to blur. The worms were now tearing meat from her bones, attacking each other beneath her skin. By the time Shirley fell, splitting her head open on the side of the bath, the largest of the worms were making their way up the tiled walls to the cornices.

By first light the following morning the worms had cocooned themselves in the space where the wall met the ceiling, stuck there by a mesh of thick, grey silk. Shirley’s body was cold and purple, riddled with holes turned black by congealed blood; her eyes open, staring into forever.

Within two days Shirley’s body was swarming with blowflies. Already maggots wriggled and slithered inside her slowly rotting carcass. Yet the buzzing and wriggling wasn’t the only movement in the small room. The cocoons were pulsing with new life. Hour after hour the silken sheaths swelled and ebbed as the creatures within strengthened themselves, preparing for life beyond the bathroom.

By dusk the flies had deserted the body and the bathroom was filled with tearing sounds as tiny teeth bit through the silk casings; then clicking sounds of communication as the fledgling creatures stretched their gossamer wings and flexed their giant mandibles. The abdomens of the females throbbed, a pinkish hue behind pale skin which attracted the attention of the males.

Weak but driven by an unstoppable urge to breed the males climbed onto the females and fertilised them. By instinct or by some other sense the females thanked their mates by turning on them and devouring them. As new life grew already within them they feasted on the flesh of the males, much needed nutrients for the long flight ahead.

Night fell. Electric light from the street lamps outside filtered in through the frosted glass of Shirley’s bathroom window. Sensing it was time, one of the creatures flew into the glass, creating a cobweb of cracks. Another of the creatures flew into the glass and the cracks grew longer, larger. Then another and another flew at the window until the tinkling of glass falling out onto the concrete footpath below signalled departure time.

The creatures sped into the night sky, their senses honed to detect the slightest traces of hot butter and salt, for that’s where they would find the popcorn that would camouflage their eggs and the popcorn machines that would incubate them. As they flew their razor sharp teeth bit into any of their number that they encountered. A vicious breed, it was sure that only the strongest and most voracious would survive to breed.

At The Astor cinema Margaret who was both the owner and manager slammed the phone down.

“I can believe it of Tina but not of Shirley,” she ranted to her husband. “I always though Shirley was dependable. She always calls me if she can’t come in.” She shook her head mournfully, her silver-grey ponytail scraping across her back. “Well, pull your sleeves up, baby. We’re going to have to do this shift. You go and open the doors and I’ll add some more popcorn. It doesn’t look like I put enough in.”

Margaret counted the money in the cash register as her husband unlocked the double doors of the small cinema, dropping the keys in the process.

“Damn it!” he cursed, bending down to retrieve them and not noticing the two insect-like creatures flying into the cinema.

Margaret had her head in a cupboard as the two intruders found a narrow gap behind the popcorn machine and set to work drilling a small circle of glass out of the window. Fuelled with the meat of their mates, the creatures made light work of the glass; pushing their ovipositors through and then falling into a trance-like state. By the time Margaret had found the bag of popping kernels the creatures were already pumping eggs into the popcorn that was already there.

She had no time to refill the machine.

“Can I help you?” she asked, brushing her fringe away from a sweaty forehead.

“Two tickets to “Small Mercies”, please,” said the woman. “Oh, and a jumbo popcorn.”

 

The End

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

          

         

 

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[NSFW] Unbloom by Kristine Hall-Garcia

Deadman’s Tome is home to Book of Horrors, a horror anthology loaded with terrifying horror short stories that’ll chill you to the bone!

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DISCLAIMER: Deadman’s Tome is a dark and gritty horror zine that publishes content not suitable for children. The horror zine proudly supports the freedom of dark creative works and stands against censorship. Hardly any subject matter is too taboo for this horror zine. As a result, Deadman’s Tome may feature content your mother would not approve of. But she doesn’t control your life, right?

 

  I lie on the bed, in this room that never smells of sex, and rub one of the many surrounding rose petals between my fingers. These are sex organs too.  

    Looking down at my breasts, I feel the sex organs lying between them, and think of His. I close my eyes. Touch all of the places I think He will want first: lips, throat, breasts, thighs.

    Tick Tock.

    I strike a pose, many different ones. Which will He like the best? Which will cause Him to burn most with desire? This one. I think it’s this one.

    Tick Tock.

    He’s late. I trace the inside of my thigh, higher until I’m pushing into my garden. I ripped all the hair out today because I think that is what turns Him off. He doesn’t want a woman. He wants a girl; a child.

    Tick tock.

    My garden is dry, so I play. I want to be ready, and I have time to kill. If things don’t go according to plan, this may be the most fun I have.

    Tick tock.

    Still no noise. Only the stirring of something inside me. The breaking of the dam: honey.

    My body begs for fast—faster—but no. I am only to carry myself to the edge, not over. I build a perfect agony.

    Tick Tock.

    The front door slams. My body quivers with anticipation; I am ready.

    Footsteps pound the hardwood floor. I gasp, arch, and rest again, on this bed, in this sexless room. I slick my tongue across my lip.

    Tick Tock.

    The door opens. I moan. Husband enters, still in his work clothes. I wait, writhing and moaning, my desire still unquenched. He watches, expressionless. Why doesn’t He come to me? Is this not what every man wants? He tugs at the collar of His fatigues as if they are suddenly too tight. Three tours in Iraq, and He still loses composure at the sight of a naked woman. I smile.

    Unable to wait any longer, I crawl to the foot of the bed where He stands. I grab Him by the pants and pull Him to me. He is like a child too—scared and stiff in all the wrong places.

    I press against Him, and hope the gesture will give him confidence. Then I take His fingers and push them inside of me.  At first, I think He is going to try. He plays, half-heartedly. I moan, arch, and twist. Pretend He gives me pleasure when I was doing better myself. He needs encouragement.

    I look up at Him with smoldering eyes, hope His will do the same, but they are cold. He is elsewhere now, not with me. I bite His lip, hard, to bring Him back to me, and see something far worse than disinterest in His eyes: disdain. Why doesn’t He love me?

    He wriggles His hand free from my grasp and steps away. Fine. He doesn’t have to love me, but why won’t He fuck me? Is that not what men do?

    He walks to the bathroom and wipes my honey on a towel. Meticulous, like a surgeon, He washes His hands. To Him, I am a germ He can kill with soap and water. He leaves the room, me still hanging on the edge.

    Is it my breasts? I shove them into my back, but I can never make them disappear.

    How does one unbloom?

    I gaze at the photo of our niece at her eighth birthday party that He keeps beside the bed. Flat chested, gap-toothed, and freckled, she looks the kind of happy only a child can look, but not anymore.  

    Creak.

    The wooden staircase leading to the basement groans beneath His weight.

    Now, at ten, His niece is a frosted lily shivering in the darkness of our basement. Her endangered smile is Paper Mache.

    I smash the frame against the night table, and shatter glass like innocence.

    Girls dream of becoming women, of knowing our deeper shades of red, of riding our curves. They desire to be like us. It should not be the other way around.

    I look down at my woman’s body, and weep.

    Bastard.

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

 

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The Appointment by Karl Lykken

 

“I wasn’t expecting you back so soon,” Dr. Dunkelheit says, showing a brief look of genuine concern before his usual stoicism reclaims him. “It’s only been six weeks, yes?”

“That’s right,” I confirm. “I’m not here about my stomach pains this time, though. I’m here about this.” I lift up my shirt and show him the purplish growth on the side of my gut. Not that the shirt did a great job of concealing it anyway. “Frankly I wish it was just more stomach pains.”

“When did you notice this growth?” Dunkelheit says, bending down to examine it.

“Yesterday. I got bit by a spider. At first I thought the bite was just swelling up a bit, but then it got so hard and just kept growing. I mean, you could fit a tennis ball in there! That can’t just be a normal spider bite, right?”    

“No, but I’ve seen this before,” Dunkelheit says, pulling on a pair of gloves. “It’s nothing you need to worry about, but I need to move quickly. We don’t have time to schedule an operation, so I’ll just remove it myself.”

“Wait, what?” Panic sweeps through me. “Why is it so urgent? Shouldn’t I get a scan or something first?”

“Try to relax,” Dunkelheit says, motioning for me to lie back on the bed. “You’re just having a reaction to the bite. This is a simple procedure, but it’s important that I start draining the fluid right away. Otherwise it may burst.”

“Burst?”

“Don’t worry; I won’t let that happen. And on the bright side, since I’m performing the operation you won’t have to pay for a surgeon.” He gives me a smile that I know is meant to be comforting.

“It’s not my wallet that I’m worried about right now, Doc.”

“You don’t need to be worried about anything. I’ve done this many times before.” His voice is calm, but his eyes are not. God, what kind of bite is this?

He moves toward the counter and readies a pair of hypodermic needles. “I’m going to give you an amnesiac,” he says, bringing over one of the syringes and rubbing an alcohol swab over my arm.

“Jesus, Doc, this has got to be nasty if you don’t want me to remember it. What is this thing?”

“It’s nothing. The amnesiac is just because I prefer to operate in the nude, and I don’t want to give you nightmares,” he says with a smirk. I would chuckle if I wasn’t so terrified. He gives me the injection and then picks up the other syringe. “Now I’m going to give you a local anesthetic.”

I feel a small prick as he sticks in the second needle, then soon nothing at all around my stomach. “That amnesiac should already be kicking in,” he continues. “So we can go ahead and get started.”

I angle my head so that I can see the growth. The doctor brings over a small surgical tray and picks up a scalpel. He makes a small incision along the top of the bite, and a foul odor issues out from it. I wonder if he’s cutting into my bowels. I see him set down the scalpel on the tray and then reach into the growth. He pulls out–what is that? What the hell is that? He sets the thing down on the tray, its wings and pincers limp and lifeless.

“Damn. Spider bites can induce early birth, but six weeks was far too premature for him to survive,” Dunkelheit says. “I’m afraid we’ll have to try again.” His mouth opens wide, his cheeks forced apart by two long pincers, and a stinger snakes its way out from his throat. I want to recoil, but I’m paralyzed from either the drugs or my fright. He bends down and lets the stinger plunge deep into the middle of the deflated growth. I try to scream but nothing comes out.

Dunkelheit stands up straight, the pincers and stinger sliding back into  his throat. He rotates his head, cracking his neck joints. “Now then, hopefully it will be a good eight weeks before you need to come for your next appointment.”     

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Deadman’s Tome Book of Horrors Anthology
https://deadmanstome.net/2016/05/21/deadmans-tome-book-of-horrors-pre-order/

Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre fiction, classic horror literature, lovecraftian literature, or erotica. The darker the tale the better. take The Appointment for example, a story of body horror, spiders, and wicked doctors. If you’re thinking where to submit horror short stories then consider Deadman’s Tome. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the authors.

 

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Cycles by Jareb Collins

 

The young woman woke with a gasp.

She sat bolt upright, the world cloaked in darkness, and thought maybe she was blind. Fear bit deeply into her chest, clawing its way towards her heart. She fought the urge to panic, and stifled a scream swelling inside of her as she discovered the blindfold around her head. Drawing a ragged breath, she clawed at the linen bound around her temples, unravelling the cloth as fast as her stiffened fingers could move.

The last strip fell, and she paused for several moments as her eyes adjusted. She could hear nothing but the sound of her own labored breathing and the pounding of her heart. A solitary lamp flickered above, casting her surroundings in a sickly, intermittent light. Her eyes ripped through the small space, confusion melting into horror. She was in a trailer, a single-wide space that was empty except for the bed she now lay in. She tried to pull her legs from under the thin sheet covering her, discovering they were strapped to steel rails on either side. She was in a hospital gurney.

Ohmygod

Fumbling in the dim light, she loosened the straps and freed her legs. A stab of cold revealed concrete beneath her bare feet. The chill of the cement crept into her legs, and a draft blew up the short hospital robe she was wearing. Shock was rapidly setting in, and her mind began to shut down. The space pressed in around her, and she stumbled sideways. She crashed into the rough, unfinished wall, her hands breaking the fall. She pushed herself upright, crying out as a splinter bit deeply into her palm.

Her voice came out as a croak, swallowed in the empty space.

Shuffling to the end of the rectangular room, she found a door set in to the far wall.
Locked.

Ohmygodohmygod

She beat her fists against the unyielding surface. She felt hot tears spill down her cheeks. She froze when she saw the smear of blood on the small, polished square. The blood was hers. The square was a mirror. She shuddered in the fringes the feeble fluorescent lighting as she searched the reflection before her.

Her lips moved wordlessly as she stared blankly. She didn’t recognize the face.

My face?

And then she heard the voices.

Moments ago: silence, broken only by the shallow breath of fear. Now, a fierce wind howled outside, shaking the walls around her. She strained her ears for the low moan swaddled in the folds of the gale, the words almost imperceptible. She closed her eyes tightly, focusing on the roaring gusts, concentrating. Slowly, she began to pick the language out.

“…..terror…”

“………is lost…..never see…”

“…..the cycles. She cannot…….it’s over…”

As she listened, her skull began to pulse. It was not painful, at first, but the volley of words increased and the pulses became sharper.
“…straining straining straining…finding a way inside…fear……devastation….

it’s the shock…too much strain….”

The pain in her head became a blinding maelstrom of anguish. The words continued to pour into her mind, becoming garbled as the jagged white lighting threatened split her skull and spill the nonsensical diatribe on the freezing floor. She dropped to her knees, clutching her head in agony.

“…stifled……….losing

her………dwfs….dfg….muummmffff…..dying….”

She toppled to the ground, feeling nothing but the excruciating fury in her head. She spasmed, hearing nothing beyond the thrumming of death pounding at her skull.

Slowly, the pain began to recede. The gush of words deteriorated to the low hum of angry bees in flight. She tried opening her eyes, but the flickering bulb above punished her efforts. She retched. The bile burned her throat; too tired to cry, she curled into a ball. She lay her head on the floor and sighed at the coolness against her fevered face. She was exhausted, but sleep would not come. Eventually, she pushed herself to her hands and knees. She grimaced as she inched her way in the direction of the bed, carefully peeking through lidded eyes. Reaching the metal frame, she grasped the railing above her and, with herculean effort, pulled herself to her knees.

The voices began to speak again.

Fear ripped a hole in her chest. She gave in to the uncontrollable sobs. She screamed, her voice escaping in raw, clipped shrieks. Grabbing one of the gurney’s dangling leg straps, she wrapped it twice around her neck. She lurched to her feet, then threw herself to the floor. She heard her own neck bones snap like fragile branches surrendering to the unyielding mental tempest.

The light winked out.

She awoke in the hospital bed with a gasp. The world was cloaked in darkness, and she feared she was blind.

The low droning of voices buzzed in her mind.

“…..begin again….”

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Brutal Doom Realism Fails

Brutal Doom Realism Fails

What does Deadman’s Tome and a video game like Brutal Doom have in common? Uh, sheer brutality and a death buffet? Sounds about right to me.

New to the site? Deadman’s Tome is an online horror magazine that publishes horror and dark short stories and flash fiction, the darker the better. If you’re a writer and have the most controversial story ever told, then you know for damn sure I would love to publish it! There is hardly a topic too dark and too gritty to be taboo for me.

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Deadman’s Tome Book of Horrors Anthology
https://deadmanstome.net/2016/05/21/deadmans-tome-book-of-horrors-pre-order/

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Stats Update and Money Stuff

Who doesn’t like money? Hipsters that already have money and don’t have to pay bills. This post is meant for the authors. A simple break down of the stories posted in 2016 and the views, likes, and comments. If your work for whatever reason does not earn more than $5, I’ll send you $5 anyway. Honestly, there are stories with stats that are less than desired, especially considering the quality of the work.

When do you get paid? I generally wait a few months after the work was published to send payment. You should know when your story was published. If you don’t, you can find the date on your work’s post.

If you write horror or if you’re an author of dark and demented fiction, then feel free to submit your work. Deadman’s Tome is growing, and its because of the constant release of material, the networking on social media, and the focus on community engagement.

Title Views Comments Likes Money Prior Payment Amount
Home page / Archives 2167
Blackmouth by S. Alessandro Martinez 325 14 5 34.4
The Way Out by Gary Buller 300 8 7 31.5
Melissa’s Hobby by Sean Glasheen 277 5 28.2 2/1/2016 $27
The Weapon Collector by Dave Hann 275 1 4 28
Beached by Corey Niles 223 4 3 23
Escape by Gary Buller 184 9 6 19.9
Mad World by M. R. Tapia 172 4 5 18.1
The Night We Aired the House by Chris Campeau 160 5 2 16.7
My 1963 Ford Galaxy and the Maniacs of Dearborn County by Gary L. Robbe 125 6 5 13.6
The Chasm Bridged by Carson Winter 118 2 3 12.3
The Corruption in the Deep by S. Alessandro Martinez 95 2 1 9.8 5/5/2015 $10
Fisheye View by Grimm Webster 83 2 1 8.6
Candied by Sarah Doebereiner 78 5 10 9.3
A Small Problem by Diane Arrelle 72 4 5 8.1
They Shall Rise by Rebecca Dempsey 70 2 1 7.3
The Adler Street Boarding House by Kelly Evans 61 1 5 6.7
Killer Instinct by Gabrielle Esposito 48 1 4 5.3
The Old Girls by Trev Hill 45 8 5.3
Confession by Clive Carpenter 43 4 1 4.8
The Prince by Anddre Valdivia 40 1 2 4.3
When the Last Candle Dies by Trev Hill 38 3 4.1
Schrodinger’s Dilemma by Dan Lee 35 5 4 4.4
Scuttle Bug by Matthew Johnson 34 1 3.5 4/6/2015 $5
The Gates by Lisa De Young 32 2 5 3.9
Lord Weatherby by J.D. Mraz 31 1 1 3.3
Happy Anniversary by R. L. Schumacher 31 1 2 3.4
The Woman in Red by B Thomas 28 1 9 3.8
An Identity For Sam Piles by Spinster Eskie 25 2 2.7
Black Beauty: A Tale of Morbid Love by Mark Armstrong 25 1 5 3.1
Leonard and the Carousel by Mario E. Martinez 23 3 2.6
Blithe Town by Cain Miller 23 1 1 2.5
When The Engineer Knocks by Mike Mitchell 22 2 2.4
Lockdown by Shawn M. Riddle 20 4 2.4
Patty Cake, Patty Cake… by Ken Goldman 18 1 2 2.1
A Hero’s Welcome by Peter Indianna 18 3 3 2.4
ANT FARM by Roger Dale Trexler 18 5 2.3
The Valley of Sex by Joseph Rubas 18 7 2.5
Kingdom of the Living Dead by Joseph Rubas 18 2 2 5/10/2015 $5
Dinner Time by Peter Indianna 14 2 4 2
The Boxes by Rick McQuiston 13 1 3 1.7
The Babel Frequency by David Wright 13 1 1.4
DOSE by Marc Shapiro 11 1 1.2
Life Cycle by Adam Phillips 10 1 1.1
Rock-a-Bye Bigfoot by Shawn M. Riddle 10 2 2 1.4
Paint by Kathleen Wolak 9 1 5 1.5
A Sinister Nature by Helen Mihajlovic 6 4 1
The Four of July by Shawn M Riddle 5 2 0.7
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Horror Movies, Writing Styles, and Vampires

Mr. Deadman speaks with Clive Carpenter and Cain Miller about their stories, horror movies, inspiration, writing styles, and the cold feeling of rejection.

Clive Carpenter is the author of Confession, a dark and demented tale of a world’s cruelest mother ever.

Cain Miller is the author of Blithe Town, a horror short that serves as a reminder as to why you shouldn’t even dare drive through certain towns.

The live stream had many technical issues, but we were able to power through. I live in Houston and the heavens have unleashed gallons upon gallons of rain on us, which may explain how my already bad connection got worse.

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Deadman’s Tome LIVE Show 10PM (CST)

 

Technical Issues Hell: The show was pushed back due to technical issues. Ironic that when contacting with the authors they all seemed amazed that someone even uses Google Hangouts. Ironic that I was toying around with the idea of using OBS to live stream while screen  grabbing different Skype calls, but I didn’t. Good news is I know why it got fucked up and what to do in the future. So strange that it took the fourth live show for this sort of issue to come up. Damn it, Google. When I send an invite for a handout and they click it, it should work! In fairness, though, I had two different google logins going at the same time, but I’ve done that in the previous streams, but whatever. Thank you for those that watched and apology for no Rebecca Dempsey.

Meet horror authors Rebecca Dempsey, Clive Carpenter, and Cain Miller as they talk about their stories, reveal their inspiration, and share their other projects.

Rebecca Dempsey is the author of They Shall Rise, a spiritual odyssey of lost love and that blends the realm of the living with the dead…
https://deadmanstome.net/2016/06/02/they-shall-rise-by-rebecca-dempsey/

Clive Carpenter is the author of Confession, a dark and twisted story about the world’s evilest mother. A mother with a nasty passion of killing her children in various way, and the confrontation that is bound to ensue.
https://deadmanstome.net/2016/06/02/they-shall-rise-by-rebecca-dempsey/

Cain Miller is the author of Blithe Town, a dark reminder that there are some places, some towns, that no one should dare drive through.
https://deadmanstome.net/2016/06/01/blithe-town-by-cain-miller/

Become a patron today and support the online magazine!
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Deadman’s Tome Book of Horrors Anthology
https://deadmanstome.net/2016/05/21/deadmans-tome-book-of-horrors-pre-order/

Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the authors.
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Deadman’s Tome LIVE – Schrodinger’s Cat, Zombies, Exploitation Films, and Murderous Grannies

Authors Dan Lee, Gary L. Robbe, and Sarah Doebereiner meet with Mr. Deadman to discuss their stories, related topics, and may or may not veer off into tangents about ethical dilemma of Schrodinger’s Cat, how to hide bodies, zombies, and sad reason why old people are scary.

Dan Lee is the author of Schrodinger’s Dilemma, a dark tale that proves that some secrets just cannot stay buried.

Gary L. Robbe is the author of My 1963 Ford Galaxy and the Maniacs of Dearborn County, a fun horror short that’ll leave you wondering who is truly crazy.

Sarah Doebereiner is the author of Candied, a sad tale of an elderly woman burdened with loneliness that she invites a family for some treats…

If you enjoy reading horror fiction, dark fiction, or something similar, then these shows offer a bit of personality to the respected stories. During these shows, you’ll learn more about the horror behind the horror, which provides greater depth to the content.

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Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the authors.

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-Mr. Deadman

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In the Garden by Jill Hand

Kayleigh always came back.  I told that to the two cops, the big, friendly one with the gap-toothed smile, his blonde hair cropped to a stubble, and the older, black one with acne scars on his cheeks who constantly chewed spearmint gum and didn’t say much.  Sure, we sometimes fought like cats and dogs and she’d storm off, proclaiming that she was done with my lazy ass for good this time, but she always came back.

“I know how that is, son.  Women love drama even more than they love shopping,” the friendly one said, smiling his gap-toothed smile.  He pushed the can of soda that I’d asked for toward me across the metal table in the little room.  It was good and cold, the sides of the can beaded with drops of condensation.  I popped the top and took a long drink. 

The room had a mirror on one wall that I knew from watching crime shows wasn’t a mirror at all, but a piece of one-way glass behind which someone (or more than one someone) was probably observing me.  The big cop asked me to go over it again for him and Sargent Woodhouse, if I didn’t mind.  When was the last time I saw her?”
So I went over it again.

The fight we had that Friday night was over something utterly ridiculous.  Our fights were frequently over trivial things, like who neglected to refill the water in the Keurig or who left the banana peel on the kitchen sink. This one erupted over the burning issue of which way the toilet paper should go in the wall holder in the bathroom of our cramped little apartment: facing out, toward the toilet and the person seated thereupon, or inward, toward the wall. I insisted that it should go facing out.  Kayleigh took the opposing position in the great toilet paper debate of 2015.

The argument rapidly became heated and accusations flew.  She called me a lazy piece of shit who needed to get a real job.  I called her a controlling bitch who wouldn’t be happy until I was chained to a desk, like her dad.  I believe I may also have informed her that it was at times like these that she reminded me forcefully of her mother, a dreadful harridan who chain-smoked Kools and had an uncanny resemblance to Hermann Göring, both in appearance and in temperament.

The fight culminated in Kayleigh hurling the roll of toilet paper at the bathroom wall, where it rebounded and splashed into the toilet.  Grabbing her backpack, she exited the premises.  That was eight days ago.  I haven’t seen her since.  This was the third time the cops had asked me to come down to the station and go over her disappearance.  I was getting tired of telling the same story over and over. 

“Where do you think she went?” asked the black cop, Woodhouse, exhaling spearmint fumes in my direction.  I said I didn’t know.  When she hadn’t come home by Sunday night, I called around to all her friends, asking if they’d seen her.  They hadn’t.  Next I called the restaurant where she worked part-time and asked if anyone there had seen her.  No one had.  Reluctantly, I called her parents’ house.  Her mother answered the phone and said Kayleigh hadn’t been there.  She seemed pleased when I told her we’d had an argument.

“I’ll certainly tell her to call you if she turns up here,” she said sweetly, leaving no doubt in my mind that she intended to do nothing of the sort.

“She didn’t take her car.  It’s still parked in front of your building,” the friendly cop observed.  His name was Van Horn, I now remembered, the same as my eight-grade home room teacher.  He asked if I thought she might have gotten a ride from someone.
Kayleigh wasn’t in the habit of accepting rides from strangers, but she may have gone off with someone she knew, possibly someone from school.  She was in her senior year of college, studying to become a special education teacher.  It was where we’d met.  I’d dropped out when I became bored by my political science classes and disenchanted with the idea of furthering my education with another boring, grueling and expensive four years of law school.

While trying to decide what to do next, I helped my Uncle Pete, who went around to estate sales, looking for valuable antiques that were being offered for sale at bargain basement prices by the unwitting relatives of the deceased.

He’d poke through a cluster of odds and ends laid out on a picnic table in somebody’s garage and come up with a dusty china figurine of a grinning monkey wearing a sailor hat.  He’d say, “My sister’s little girl would like this.  How much do you want for it?”  The person running the sale would hesitatingly ask for ten dollars, which Pete would bargain down to five, all the while knowing full well that the funny-looking monkey was eighteenth-century Meissen porcelain that would sell for about three thousand dollars in one of the fancy antiques stores in the city.

Uncle Pete was what was called a “picker” — a middleman who sold what he bought at a fat profit to antique dealers, who subsequently sold what they bought from him at an even fatter profit.

I was learning a lot from Uncle Pete.  I thought that maybe someday I’d start an antiques business of my own.  Kayleigh thought that was a terrible idea.  She hated my uncle, whom she disdainfully called “Picker Pete,” and begrudged the time I spent with him.  My lack of what she called a “real job” was a major source of friction between us.

“What happed after she left?” Van Horn asked.  I’d already told them that I watched TV and went to bed, but I told them again that I watched an episode of a reality show called Carnies, about a feuding, dissolute family of carnival workers.  In that Friday’s episode, Jayde tries to make funnel cakes for the first time and breaks the funnel cake fryer.

Then she and her brother, the one they call Full Moon because he’s always dropping his pants and mooning people, go out to a bar where a guy hits on Jayde and he and Full Moon get into a fight.

“I watch that show,” Van Horn said.  “I like the one they call Uncle Daddy.  He’s a real piece of work.”  He turned to Woodhouse.  “Do you ever watch Carnies, Al?”
Woodhouse shook his head.

Van Horn asked what happened the next morning.  I said I got up early, at 6 A.M., and went to meet Uncle Pete.  We took his van and went to a diner for breakfast, then started hitting yard sales, getting there early, just as people were setting up.  We went to six or seven yard sales, and three estate sales that were advertised in the local paper.  We unloaded the stuff Pete bought into one of his storage lockers (he rented several) and then returned to his house at around five.  It might have been closer to six, I wasn’t sure.  Pete counted off two hundred dollars from the thick roll of bills wrapped in a rubber band that he carries in his hip pocket, paid me, and I took off for home.
Uncle Pete lives out in the country.  As I drove home, my car started acting up.  It did that sometimes.  The thermostat would gradually creep into the red and the car would start bucking and sputtering.  When that happened, I’d pull over and wait until the engine cooled down before continuing on my way.  I meant to get it looked at, but I hadn’t gotten around to it.

The place where I pulled over was on a narrow county lane overhung with large old trees so that it was almost like driving through a leafy green tunnel. A disused canal ran along one side, the water brown and stagnant.  There was no other traffic and it started to rain lightly.  The sound of rain pattering on the car roof made me sleepy.  I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, having awakened several times thinking I’d heard Kayleigh come in.  I pushed the seat back, closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

I awoke to the sound of someone tapping on my window. It was a woman who looked to be a few years older than me, her red hair tied up in a bright blue bandana, like the woman flexing her arm on the World War II poster that says “We Can Do It!”  Rosie the Riveter, I think she’s called.

I have a thing for redheads.  Kayleigh’s hair is sort of a brownish-auburn but this woman’s hair was fiery red.  She had big blue eyes and a cute smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose.  Her denim overalls were caked with mud.  Her hands and arms were muddy, too.  She smiled brightly at me as I blinked drowsily at her, still half asleep.  I rolled down the window.

“I saw you parked out here.  Do you need help?” she asked.

I told her my car was acting up.

“Do you want to come in and use my phone to call a tow truck or something?  I live right over there,” she said, pointing.

The roof of a house was visible behind a high privet hedge to our right.  It was getting dark.  There were no streetlights and no sign of any other houses.  I told her it wouldn’t be necessary; the engine just needed to cool down.

“It’s not very comfortable sitting out here.  Why don’t you come in and I’ll make us some ice tea or something.  I was working in the garden and I’m pretty thirsty.  I could use some company.”

The way she said it made me think there might be more than a glass of ice tea on offer.  She was pretty, and I was single (at least temporarily) so why not take her up on her invitation and see what developed?  I said I’d love a cold drink.

“Great!  I’ve got some brandy and there’s ginger ale in the fridge.  If you want, I can make horse’s necks.”

I said that sounded fine.  I got out of the car and followed her through an opening in the hedge, up a flagstone walk that cut through a well-tended lawn with flower beds planted with rose bushes, to the front door of a cottage that had wooden fish-scale shingles painted a buttery yellow. She opened the door and ushered me into the living room.

“I’d shake hands, but I’m all muddy,” she said smiling, “I’m Milly, short for Mildred, by the way. And would you believe it?  My last name is Pierce, isn’t that a riot?”

I must have looked confused because she added, “Like in the movie?  With Joan Crawford?”

Aha!  The wire-hanger lady.  I told her my name was Sam Hurley.  She said to have a seat on the divan while she freshened up; she’d only be a minute.  I looked around while I waited.  She had some nice antiques, including a Biedermeier bookcase and matching desk that Uncle Pete would love to get his hands on.

She returned about ten minutes later bearing two tall glasses containing an amber liquid in which ice cubes clinked.  Spirals of lemon peel were draped over the rims.  Truth be told, I’d been hoping she’d be naked, or at the very least wearing only a robe, but she had on a blue and white striped cotton sundress that set off her tan nicely.  It had a wide skirt that came down to her calves, which could best be described as shapely.  Her hair was down over her shoulders in loose waves and she wore dark red lipstick.  She looked absolutely gorgeous, and I told her so.

“Why, thank you, kind sir,” she said, handing me a glass and raising hers in a toast.  “Here’s to new friends.”

“To new friends,” I echoed, and took a drink.  It tasted good.  I asked her, “What’s this called?”

“I told you, it’s a horse’s neck.  Haven’t you ever had one before?”

I said I hadn’t and drained my glass.  I was thirstier than I’d realized.

“Let me get you another,” she said, and went out of the room, presumably to the kitchen.  In the approximately ten hours that I spent in her house I saw only two rooms: the living room and the bedroom.  She returned with another drink and then another.  After that, I lost count.

“You slept with her,” Woodhouse said.  He wasn’t being judgmental; he was just stating a fact.  Just the facts, ma’am, I though, suppressing a grin.  Now that I thought of it, the stony-faced Woodhouse reminded me of Joe Friday in Dragnet, as portrayed by the late, great Jack Webb.  He even looked a little like a darker version of Jack Webb.  I wondered if anyone had ever told him that.

I admitted that I’d slept with Milly Pierce.  Kayleigh and I weren’t engaged, although we were officially in a relationship, according to our Facebook status, which I suppose is the twenty-first-century version of the medieval custom of handfasting.

What can I say about my night with Milly?  It was magical and wonderful.  Unlike a lot of redheads, her only freckles were the ones scattered across the bridge of her nose and a few cinnamon-colored ones on her tanned shoulders.  She was long and lean and lovely and we took our time, savoring each another. 

At one point, she lightly stroked my chest and asked where I’d gotten the scratches.  I hadn’t noticed them before.  I suppose they came from helping Uncle Pete load an unwieldy neoclassical Second Empire sideboard into his van.  (A sideboard that he assured the lady who was selling her dead grandmother’s possessions came from Sears.)

“I’ll kiss them and make them all better,” said Milly, bending down from where she sat astride me and doing exactly that.

I awoke the next morning in the front seat of my car.  The sun was coming up and I had a rotten headache.  I dimly remembered Milly walking me to the car and giving me a lingering kiss.

“Goodbye, lover.  Drive safely,” she said.  Did I feel guilty?  A little, but Kayleigh didn’t need to know about this.  And she had been pretty mean to me.  It served her right that I’d spent the night in another woman’s bed.

Van Horn spoke up.  “What do you say we drive you out there so we can talk to her in order to verify your whereabouts that night?  Would that be okay with you, Sam?”

I said it would be okay, although I’d rather Kayleigh didn’t find out about it when she came back from wherever she’d taken herself off to.

Van Horn nodded his head and gave me a wink.  “Gotcha.  We won’t tell her.  We just need to cover all the bases, you know?”

I agreed, although I didn’t see how talking to Milly would help find Kayleigh.  (Who was probably off sulking somewhere, hoping to throw a scare into me.)  I was looking forward to seeing Milly again, even if it was in the company of the police.  Who knows, if Kayleigh decided to call it quits, maybe Milly and I could become a steady thing.

Feeling hopeful, I accompanied Woodhouse and Van Horn to a patrol car and we set out toward her place.
Van Horn drove and Woodhouse sat in the passenger seat.  I was in the back, behind a screen of wire mesh. “How do you like riding back there, Sam?” Van Horn asked, studying me in the rearview mirror when we were stopped at a traffic light.  “Do you feel like a bad guy?”

“I ain’t talking, copper,” I sneered, doing my best James Cagney imitation.  Van Horne and Woodhouse laughed. “Look out, we got a badass on our hands,” Woodhouse remarked.

We found the street where Milly lived without too much trouble.  It looked different in the bright daylight. The trees still formed a tunnel overhead and the canal ran along on the left but now there were joggers and bicyclists on the towpath.  The last time I was here there hadn’t been a soul around.  There were more houses than I’d noticed before.  I watched for the privet hedge in front of Milly’s house and almost missed it.  It was a lot thicker and higher than I remembered.

“Over here is where I parked,” I told the two cops.  Van Horne pulled the patrol car over to the shoulder.

“This is it, huh?  Let’s go talk to the lady.” Woodhouse opened the door and let me out.  He stretched, looking around.  He observed, “Looks like it’s for sale.”

There was a for sale sign next to the road.  I was fairly certain it hadn’t been there before.  We walked through a gap in the hedge and what I saw made me stop dead in my tracks.  It was Milly’s house all right, but the yellow fish scale shingles were gone, replaced by grey vinyl siding. The windows were bare, the lawn was neglected and the house had a deserted look.

There was something else that Woodhouse spotted at once: a pile of dirt covering what was unmistakably a freshly dug hole about six feet long.  It’s a grave, I thought wonderingly.
“Get him in the car,” Woodhouse barked. 

“Come with me, Mister Hurley,” Van Note said, taking me firmly by the arm.
I was no longer Sam; I was Mister Hurley.  That didn’t bode well.  I didn’t understand what was happening.  Was that really a grave?  Had somebody killed Milly and buried her in her garden?  Did the cops think I did it?  They surely couldn’t think that, could they?

It turned out that’s not what they thought.

  It was a grave, but Milly wasn’t in it: Kayleigh was.  Her backpack was in there too, containing her cell phone on which there were a number of increasingly frenzied voice mails from me, asking where she was and when she was coming home.  The police found a shovel caked with dirt in the trunk of my car.  The dirt matched the dirt in the grave.  Don’t ask me how they could tell.  I guess they have ways of determining things like that.

They also found bits of my skin under Kayleigh’s fingernails.  They said she’d clawed at my chest when I strangled her.  I told them it wasn’t true.  I’d never hurt Kayleigh, but they didn’t believe me.

Uncle Pete got me a lawyer, a buddy of a friend of his.  I took two polygraph tests, both of which indicated that I had no memory of killing Kayleigh.  The polygraphs weren’t admissible in court, but that didn’t matter because I didn’t have a trial.  My lawyer worked it so a judge found me incompetent to stand trial on the grounds of insanity.

That’s about it.  I’m now in a prison for the mentally ill.  My lawyer said my stay here is “indeterminate,” which I take to mean that I’ll probably be here for the rest of my life.

I have a private cell, since my fellow inmates don’t take kindly to guys who refuse to acknowledge that they murdered their girlfriends.  (It appears it’s perfectly acceptable to kill one’s girlfriend, the reasoning being that she probably brought it on herself, but it’s not okay to deny any knowledge of it.)  I don’t mind.  I’m not lonely.  Kayleigh comes to visit whenever the C.O.s aren’t around.  I told her she shouldn’t be missing her college classes, but she says it’s okay; she wants to be with me.

“I forgive you for squeezing my neck so hard,” she told me the first time she came.  She seated herself next to me on the thin mattress of my bunk and gave me a hug.  “I forgive you for sleeping with that woman, too.”

I said I was sorry we’d fought.  I didn’t remember squeezing her neck.

“You did,” she said, looking up at me with serious brown eyes. “It was really scary but it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

I said I was glad.  I asked, “You want to hear something weird, about Milly?”
Kayleigh frowned and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.  She didn’t like me talking about Milly but I went on.  “She killed her husband, back in 1949 and buried him in the garden, probably right around where they found you.”
My lawyer told me all about it.  He even brought me copies of the old newspaper articles that described Milly’s late husband as a decorated war hero who had returned home blind and minus his right arm as a result of being blown up by a Japanese landmine on some island in the South Pacific.

According to the testimony at her trial, Milly got tired of taking care of him and hit him over the head with a heavy vase, cracking his skull.  She then dragged him out to the garden and buried him.

Unfortunately for the late second lieutenant Roy Pierce, he was still alive when his wife tumbled him into his hastily dug grave.  He managed to claw himself out partway with his remaining hand before finally succumbing to his head injury.  The milkman discovered him the next morning.

The news stories featured pictures of Milly in the courtroom, looking downcast and dressed sedately in a black dress with a white lace collar.  Even in the old black and white photos you could tell she was something to look at.

Her lawyer painted a picture of her husband as a mean-tempered alcoholic who’d attacked her, causing her to whack him over the head in self-defense, but the jury didn’t buy it.  She was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to forty years in the Scarborough Women’s Reformatory.  She died there in 1976, of pancreatic cancer.

“Humpf.  She doesn’t sound very nice,” Kayleigh said.  “If she died in 1976, how come you saw her?”

I said I had no idea.  I didn’t believe in ghosts.  Maybe I’d somehow stepped back into 1949 when I was parked there on the side of the road outside her house.  She was awfully muddy, and she said she’d been working in the garden.  Maybe she’d just finished burying her husband.

“I don’t believe in ghosts either,” Kayleigh said firmly.  She rose and kissed me.  “I’ve got to go.  Somebody’s coming.”

I could hear jingling keys.  It must be a C.O., coming to check on me.  I turned to tell Kayleigh goodbye, but she was gone.  That was okay, though; Kayleigh always came back.

      The End