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Deadman’s Tome Recap (5/26)

William C Marchese (WCM): On Friday’s show, we dug in deep with ghost hunter Gerard Simonelli. He taught us about different types of apparitions and gave an insight to his world. 
Jesse Dedman (JD): Gerard Simonelli is a paranormal investigator that doesn’t care for bullshit. I like that, and I think he made for a great guest. I learned so much about ghosts that I’ve begun to question the strange feelings I experience in my own home.
WCM: A surprising visit by a new character, Cat Man, caused Jessie to find a fetish he never knew he had…or did he? Let’s just say, Cat Man was purring by the end of the show. 
JD: What kind of world do we live in where a man dresses up like a Cat? The best of worlds. Oh, kitty allowed me to get close, really close.
WCM: We also touched on a new path being tested to get the show out further, Real Vision Radio, and how we’re feeling the crunch of creative oppression from the various rules and regulations. Lets just say, I enjoyed my four bottles of apple juice. 
JD: We’ve become so accustomed to drinking loads of alcohol that I’m surprised we weren’t going through withdrawals. I swear, Real Vision Radio, we weren’t sneaking shots. I swear it. Yeah, we’re playing on Spreaker and Real Vision Radio now, as well as uploading to iTunes and YouTube. Going on Real Vision is new and with new territory comes unforeseen challenges. They came up, but we learned from them.
WCM: Until next time, please comment or follow. More to come soon.

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Deadman’s Tome Podcast Recap 5/21/2017


William The Dynamite Marchese (WCM): The Deadman’s Tome show happened a day late, but we still had an action-packed episode.


Jesse Dedman (JD): This was the episode I’ve been wanting to do for some time now. We were able to take J Nathan Couch from his cryptid investigation to share with us some major truth bombs. I started the show very doubtful of a thing called Goat Man, but now, honestly, I’m wondering if there’s not some horny goat man stalking lover’s lane.

WCM: We drank, we cursed (though, not as much as usual,) and we learned about criptids and the paranormal.


JD: Drinking is mandatory. Did I really not cuss that much? Did not notice. Dude, we learned so much: Haunted assholes, paranormal lovemaking, and even Goatman sex. Nathan Couch said it himself that a woman reported that she was kidnapped by witches and was forced to have sex with the Goatman…

WCM: Next week we will have another awesome episode with a ghost hunter, who will talk about his adventures and what lies ahead for his career.


JD: I can’t wait. I want to go into the deep end of paranormal stuff. I want to get so heavy in it that I see shadows during the show!

If you like what you hear, please subscribe and go to the links below.

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Let’s Flirt with the Dead With R. A. Goli

This Friday at 10PM CST, R. A. Goli joins Mr. Deadman to discuss her dark erotic horror titled Flirting With The Dead. A story about the dangers of trying to engage in spectrophilia (ghost sex). Think the movie Ghost but with a manipulative and violent Patrick Swayze. In addition to exploring R. A. Goli’s work and inspiration, we’ll also explore the topic of spectrophilia.



Deadman’s Tome No Safe Word blends the perversions of dark erotica with the chill and brutality of horror. The collection makes for a provocative and thrilling read. No Safe Word is available for Kindle and print. Patrons of the Deadman’s Tome Patreon page can read it for free as a perk of a one dollar pledge.

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Homeless – John W. Twilley


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Get up, you old fart!”

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

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

“I’m dying,” I said.

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

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

“I’ll haunt your ass till you,…”

I started to laugh.

“Stop it!”

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

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

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

She smirked.

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

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

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

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

My smile fell off.

She grinned.

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

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

“Like what?”

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

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

“You can do it!” she said.

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

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

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

“Fall on the soft snow,” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Without a drink?”

I thought about that.

“Crap,” I said, “you’re right.”

She smiled.

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

I rolled out of bed. “Where too?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Keep it going!”

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

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

She told me.

Fifth Street Apartments,” I said.

“Get in,” said the driver.

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

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

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

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

“Is Jack a generous person,” I said.

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

“A stop?” I said.

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

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

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

“Okay,” I said, ”now what.”

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

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

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

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

“Just goose him?” I said.

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

“That’s kinda funny,” I said.

She thought so too.

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

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

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

“Check the backroom,” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think I broke his back,” I said.

“My hero,” said Nicky.

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

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

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

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

“A deal?” she said.

“I guess so,” I said.

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

“Okay,” I said, “point the way.”

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

“I can’t touch a ghost.” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I did not speak.

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

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

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

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

“One,” he said.

I rolled again.

“Two,” he boomed.

Another empty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded.

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

I nodded.

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

I nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nicky made me do it,” I said.

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

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

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

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

Ripper laughed.  “Does sound like Nicky.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Impossible,” said the doctor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack vaguely smiled from his wheelchair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This isn’t right,” said the doctor.

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

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

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

Bob laughed.  He liked the idea.

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

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

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

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

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

“You did good,” said Nicky.

“That you Nicky?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The End



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

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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.

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Lanna by Clive Carpenter


“Gerald! GERALD!”

Her voice was shrill, like a banshee, and it echoed through the house. I turned the water off and left the pot soaking in the sink as I left the kitchen and walked down the long hall to our bedroom.

In the forty years I had spent with Lanna, the last five had been the worse. But that’s not how I wanted to think of my wife – as some bossy, loud-mouthed, inconsiderate, devil of a bitch. So, like the loving husband I have always tried to be for her, I answered her call every time. After all, she couldn’t help it; it wasn’t her fault that she was in this condition, so, if she was going to hate the world for it, I would rather her take it out on me instead of anyone else.

I reached the bedroom and found her on the floor between the bed and her wheelchair. Once again, she had tried to get out of bed unassisted – a nasty habit that I knew she would never break.

“Didn’t you hear me on the floor? What the hell’s wrong with you?”

“Sorry, honey, I should have been listening better,” I helped her into the chair, with no assistance from her, of course. She had been getting heavier, it seemed. Or was I just getting older? Ever since her double amputation four years ago, she had become nothing more than dead weight. And with us both now into our seventies, there just wasn’t too much more I could do physically for her. But I couldn’t bring myself to let her down in any way. I loved her.

“You never listen, Gerald!” She reminded me, as usual, as I tucked her blanket under her thighs. She slapped my hands away. “Leave it, dammit. Change the bed sheets. You took so damned long, I pissed the bed again. Jeezus Christ!”

She wheeled herself into the bathroom as I gathered the sheets and prepared to swap them for clean ones.

In the next forty minutes, I had her bathed, out of the tub and ready for her weekly trip to town.

My back was killing me as I helped her into the car, put her wheelchair in the trunk and drove to her favorite café for lunch.

As I drove, I thought about how it seemed as though Lanna was beginning to lose her mind. Just over a year ago is when it started. At 2:30 in the morning, I sat straight up in the bed and found she was gone! I was scared to death that I had lost her. I actually had to take the car and search for her. When I finally found her, she had made it to the parking lot of our church –  in her wheelchair – almost two miles from the house. She yelled at me the entire ride home; gibberish about keeping her prisoner. It was beginning to become a pretty frequent occurrence. And every time I found her, she got more and more belligerent with me. I felt there were even times she didn’t remember who I was.

We pulled up to the café and, as I unloaded her wheel chair, helped her out of the car and wheeled her chair along the sidewalk to the café door, I was greeted with the uneasy stares and half-smiles of several people walking by.

I understood why, of course. After all, it was a small town and most of our neighbors knew how she had taken to treating me over the last year. To them, she was probably just a mean old lady to her husband. And ever since that first night I found her at 2:30 in the morning, the stares came more often; especially when we came to town.

On Sunday mornings, at church, nobody really acted any different towards us; they all minded their own business. But, of course, they all knew us better than the other townsfolk did.

We sat in the café and I had my usual: scrambled eggs, 2 slices of bacon, biscuits and gravy and black coffee. I ordered Lanna her favorite: the turkey club with the crust of the bread removed.

Jenny, our pastor’s twenty year old daughter, waited on us.

“Mr. Willis, when are you ever gonna order somethin’ new? Them taste buds of yours ain’t gettin’ any younger,” she giggled.

I laughed and chewed on a piece of bacon.

Lanna stared me down with a look that could have set my face on fire. “Eat your food, you dirty, old bastard. She’s only flirting with you for the damned tip.”

“She wasn’t flirting, dear. She… she was just making a little joke.”

“It wasn’t funny. You just keep your wandering eyes on your plate, Mr. Willis.” Her voice was stern and harsh and, once again, I was getting stares from a few tables.

“Yes, honey. Please don’t make a scene.”

“Then hurry and stuff your damned face so we can go.”

Lanna hadn’t touched her food, as usual. The sandwich just sat in front of her.

After a few minutes, Jenny returned with the bill.

“Could we get a to-go box for Lanna’s lunch, please?”

Jenny left and returned shortly with a small Styrofoam container. She smiled a little uneasily in Lanna’s direction before leaving the table. Lanna didn’t even acknowledge the young beauty.

After a short visit to Lee’s Hardware, we headed home.

I worked on the leaky kitchen faucet, along with a few other chores on my list, while Lanna watched her TV shows in bed.

After sundown, I cooked dinner and brought it to her.

Before I knew, it was bed time. I kissed her goodnight and went to my room; Lanna wouldn’t allow me to share the bed with her. She said I kept her up at night with my snoring. I sorely missed sleeping with her, though. Feeling her next to me. Snuggling with her. Hearing her breathe in the dark. Holding her hand when a bad dream caused her to toss and turn. Waking up to see her when the sun came up. When we were young – so young – she used to tell me I was the other half of her heart. She could call me every name in the book, yell at me all night and throw anything she wanted at me when she got upset… I didn’t care; I knew that wasn’t the real Lanna. She would definitely always be my love, no matter what anyone thought of her behavior, lately.

I fell asleep with sweet memories of her on my mind.

I was awakened, suddenly! That noise! A sound in the dark pulled me from my sleep, once again. It was loud. A pounding, maybe? I couldn’t place what it had been, but my heart sank when the first thing I thought of was Lanna on the floor again.

I got up and rushed to her room and flooded it with light as I flipped the switch.

She was gone! Dammit!!!

I quickly got dressed and grabbed my keys. I knew exactly where she was going and I had to get to her before something happened and I lost her. I couldn’t bare that.

I drove quickly, running several stop signs. There was nobody on the street at 2:30 in the morning, so, nobody was in danger. Nobody but my Lanna.

I reached the church, but, nowhere along the way did I pass her. I stopped the car in the parking lot and got out.

“Lanna!” I roamed the lot and the street in front of the church, searching for her. Hoping that I beat her to the church and she would come rolling up any minute in her chair.

“LANNA!” I could feel myself beginning to get nervous. Fear was setting in – fear that I had lost her.

The tears welled up in my eyes. “Lanna! Please come back!” My voice began to break, “I’m sorry! Whatever it is I’ve done, I’ll do better!”

I walked to the front door of the church and sat on the steps and whimpered, “Just come home.”

I tried to think about where she could have gone. But deep in my heart I knew. I knew and it hurt. I didn’t want to think about it.

I got up and walked around to the back of the church. I followed the sidewalk between the parsonage, where the pastor and his family lived, and the children’s church annex. Across the rear parking lot and through the gate of the fence beyond.

The grass here had been freshly mowed the afternoon before; I could smell it. I walked along, slowly and with a heavy heart, until I reached her wheelchair.

It was exactly where I knew it would be; where I was afraid it would be.

By the light of the moon, I stared down at her beautiful, marble grave marker: “Svetlanna Lynn Willis, Beloved Wife. My Best Friend. January 1944- June 2014”.

I sat, heartbroken, in her empty wheelchair at the foot of her grave and cried.

It had been a year since I lost her the first time. I missed her terribly and I understood that the source of her anger towards me was a result of my unwillingness to let her go. Now, it seems that she finally managed to leave me for a second time and, somehow, I knew she would be much happier without me.


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They Shall Rise by Rebecca Dempsey


Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again

Though lovers be lost love shall not

Dylan Thomas


When late stern Neptune points the shaft with death:

To the dark grave retiring as to rest,

Thy people blessing, by thy people bless’d!

The Odyssey


August 1833. I’d never considered writing. I surfed Bells. Wrote up lab work. However, this is something different, because I am someone different. Likewise, I was never a reader. That was Issy, the English teacher, but her stained copy of Ulysses, rescued from the wreckage, remains my touchstone, despite needing its precious pages for my letters.

Issy, through that book, taught me that one person’s story is worth telling. That and my circumstances compel me to attempt this because I, like Ulysses, long for home.

There are no gods to rely upon for my return, but I hope there’ll be a reader.

Having made it thus far through this vague introduction, you’re owed an explanation. Furthermore, should you be reading in the appropriate circumstances, you will find it commensurate to your own understanding. Should you find this, and deem this fanciful, then overlook its crudities and paradoxes as whimsy. Then, I beg you, come to it with older eyes. Or leave it to your heirs.

From where I am, this is as complicated to explain as I’m finding difficult to experience. There is time and distance between us. Nethertheless, my name will be Rod and my wife will be Issy. This will be, and yet it also has come to pass, when I was Rodrigo and she was Isabel.

I apologise for the tenses and language. Your understanding will be proportionate to the age in which you live. To wit, to you, I might have not been born yet, so, should remind you once more, I am not the writer of my family.

In another life, I was a scientist; then a Portuguese ship’s doctor, wrecked in time, with a tale taller than those told by the sailors in the tavern of a winter’s night. In 1833 I am an apothecary in this whaling outpost. Without my skills I would be a pariah, even amongst this coarse assortment. And here, my means are few: this unnamed settlement is famed only for the Antarctic winds that whip up the stench of carcasses from the bay, beyond which lies the treacherous ocean that extends to the Pole.

Despite understanding logic and hypothesis, I say treachery with cause. Science is indifferent, but since my entrapment in someone else’s experiment, there’s only suspicion and superstition. The sailors jeered as I wept over their whales. Either their beatings inured me to their ways, or I’m losing what formerly defined me. Writing by the light of whale oil, all are infected with death. Thus, I can describe what happened to me and trace the changes in me through the scars left.

It will begin in October 2011. Rightly, I should be in 2016, but for this curse, I’m writing this in Portuguese, English and in the benighted settler patois of 1833. This is the seventh letter in English, and I keep going, in small script, using as little paper as possible. I cast my precious jars from the wharf as the ships come in, trailing carcasses in bloody wakes. My letters bob up and down in the red water. When conditions are right, I bribe sailors to take the bottles beyond the breakers.

In 2011, Issy was tricked. Perhaps, like others before her. Soothsayer, Isabel was told, psychic. Fortune teller. No. Our medium wasn’t a card reader or palmist. She was a thief.

It was the last day of my life. I remember it clearly:   

I didn’t know what I expected of her shopfront or whatever such people call their workplaces. But this was like a small town general store after a big supermarket opened: a study in shabby anachronism. Dusty glass bottles lined shelves and I couldn’t tell if their contents had decayed. Towers of hard covers in foreign scripts formed walls, while a fringed curtain hid closed doors. I was examining the ornate cash register when Issy closed the door, the bell jingling behind her. She said we had to sit at the dining table. She smiled and beckoned me over; I pulled up a chair, crossed my arms and waited.

I remarked about how hard they’d worked to make it authentic. With a shake of her head Issy shushed me. She knew the ways of these places.                  

‘Fact is,’ whispered Issy ‘it’s not like movies; they don’t dress like Gypsies and call themselves Madame. Mediums don’t need to, they’re just people.’ Isabel was nodding, head tilted. I didn’t respond. Issy forgives the depth of my scorn, and yet encourages me to follow her – even here – when I’d rather be surfing. Gritting my teeth, I squeezed her hand.

Issy’s medium pads in, pulling her brown cardigan tight, nods at her assistant, and steps bow legged around a circle of salt. Incense is burning. Arranged around the circle is stereotypical gear: a dagger, a large flat stone, an undressed branch, lichen still green, and a candle, with its plumed glow reflected in metallic surfaces. The assistant closes the curtains. I cringe at the crassness of the affair but am careful Isabel doesn’t see my expression.

Isabel and the assistant are each caught up in the magic. Always a believer, Isabel’s fallen for angels and UFOs. Everything New Age is sacred to her. This was her idea to distract me after mum’s round of chemo. I struggle to understand how we work sometimes – we’re opposites – but we do. She readies her phone to record. I smile; I’d told Issy I was here in a professional capacity as a control sceptic.

Eventually, Isabel, the medium and the helper are ready. And nothing happens, Issy fiddles with her blouse button and winks at me. The lights dim. There’s sulphur as the matches spark to light yet another candle.

As she stares, it seems the mouselike qualities of the medium gradually become less evident, she takes several deep breaths and seems to pale or perhaps it is the candle flickering in a draft. Her long, black hair moves like a separate entity, crackling with static electricity. Her parlour tricks don’t fool me; her fingers tense and tap: nervous? Or, communicating to her assistant? But then she sinks and loosens up. Issy relaxes with her. In the gloom the woman’s skin is translucent, tinged blue around her lips and eyelids. Breathing exercises – a yogi trick. She can’t keep at it, and her breathing evens.

Without warning, the sinews in the medium’s neck and hands go taut, her mouth gapes and water gushes from her throat as if from a dam breach. We recoil, but remain stunned into silence. The flood stops like a tap is turned off, and the medium, rigid no longer, slumps to the floor in convulsions.

There’s screaming. In my periphery vision Isabel is shaking, camera in hand. The assistant lunges forward, while motioning us to keep back, like we’re disturbing her.

A briny odour fills the room and I retch. The assistant props the medium against a chair. Her eyes are closed, but her hands float fish-like through the air.

The medium’s voice, once quick, quiet and staccato is throaty and low: ‘Shafts of moonlight sheaved our bodies in silver as we sank, heavy with terror, down and down. I grasped through the silence while I watched the last globes of life rise from my mouth and break the surface above. I locked into his eyes as my lungs burst. I gulped down salty death, eyes seeing no more.’ The medium shudders and a soft gurgling sound comes from her throat. ‘Now I am summoned from the deep to answer your demands?’

Abruptly, the medium sits up, opens her eyes and stares at each of us without recognition. Were her eyes a different colour? They’re silver-grey I’d thought they were green. ‘You who want to fathom the secrets of my grave: treasures, minerals and rare beasts. I am dumb with saltwater and seaweed. The ship went down. No one heard my silent screams.’ Her eyes glitter as she speaks. ‘My spirit drifted the cold wastes.’

The medium shivers as this new voice continues: ‘I search for my Rodrigo, my lost Rodrigo.’ She pauses, eyes closed, and her hands clench into white fists. ‘You summon me, but I am here to raise him. Rodrigo, where are you?’ The medium sways. She points at me. ‘Rodrigo is you.’ I can’t move. She floats toward me; her damp hands seize my shirt. In one motion she pulls me up and forward out of my chair. She kisses me with her bitter blue lips. As a reflex I push her away, but the life has gone out of me. I trip over my chair, hitting my head. The medium swings around and I hear her arm knock Issy’s phone. The assistant pulls the medium back. Isabel looks from me to the medium: shaking her head. I sit up, winded. ‘Rodrigo?’ Isabel mouths.

The medium shrinks to the floor, whimpering, ‘Rodrigo,’ before she snatches the dagger from the circle and draws the blade over her the palm of her left hand. I wince at the droplets clinging to the knife’s edge. She clenches her fist and blood oozes between her fingers. It trails down her white arm, and mingles with the pool of salt water, which begins to bubble. A white mist rises. Amid the incense and smoke, I’m dazed.

Issy is shaking her head. The assistant flaps and whispers around the medium. But the mist grows thicker and the spirit is not leaving. She shrieks and raises the knife once more. She pushes her assistant back and crawls out of the mist towards me. She yanks my right hand and draws the dagger across my palm. The wound stings of salt water. She smiles with pale blue lips and presses her palm to mine. She chants: ‘I bring Rodrigo forth.’ My hand throbs, but her grip doesn’t lesson. I see grey waves in her eyes. My hand and heart ache in time to the rhythm of her words, as our blood runs together. All fades with her smile: Issy scuffling with the assistant, the incense, the room, everything but grey waves. The candle flickers, and a gust from somewhere blows it out.


That was my life. It was the last time I saw Issy. We are candle flames, we flicker and die out – sometimes the flame is passed on. The medium passed me on. It wasn’t my choice, but I made it. But nothing is linear.

Every night, I relive the arrival, a water birth into full awareness. I’m at the edge of somewhere familiar. Waves lap with kitten tongues at a shelf of black rock that runs in broken leaps to the ocean. Waves leave white salt traces of their kisses upon this rock, only to return to wipe them away. Further up, shallow depressions capture circlets of sky staring unblinkingly. Occasionally, there’s a splash, and then tears in runnels make their way down the face of the black rock. Each time the language is the same.

In my dream, despite the shrieking wind there’s no air. Clouds hunch brooding over the tide. The shelf’s sand hillocks are blasted apart by crashing waves. With seagulls fled inland, the shelf was alone, until successive waves heaved broken timbers of my foundered ship up onto the rock.  

Coins in shallow pools adding glint to the scene as dark materials dripped in shreds from splinters and nails. Broken barrels spilled over the stone, only to be washed clean. Canvas, iron and wood were thrown up to decay. Waves rolled a form in. Edges of her dress trailed with the tide. And then, from above I watched him – me – head bloodied, hair and beard matted, facing the sky, a shoe missing. I see me and I knew my wife drowned, as the medium said.

I’m in my body and a metallic tang taints the beach. I touch my head and my hand is bloody. My lips crack with each breath battling in my chest. I crawl to her, pushing back a veil of matted hair. Her face is blue and her pale eyes are open, vacant.

It’s too late.

Though lovers be lost.

This Isabel is dead. But she’ll wait; we’ll meet. Our lives and deaths are entwined, they ebb and flow and encircle our world like the ocean. Therefore, I hope, even at the limits of the world.

On quiet afternoons I go to the cemetery. There, by your stone, this sceptic prays. I pray to my one and future Issy: come find me, my wife yet to be born, so we can rise again. And I pray, thief of all my lives: uncurse me, enchantress of the changing eyes. Or, fatal Siren, whenever you are, curse this marooned madman further to forget the pain of a future foregone because though lovers be lost, love shall not.

Many mornings I wake choking, prayers unanswered to return to the vain toils of letter writing. Then I comprehend. Reader, perhaps it is not up to you, because of Isabel. I opened the book to the pages I needed. Luckily I had not used them.

It took weeks to beg, trade, buy and steal everything required, and month before I found the location. It was remote, where the sand dunes petered into black earth. The sailors shunned it, refusing to say why. I suspected blood was spilled. I waited for the full moon and using the book. I dug a trench, poured in milk, rank tavern wine, and spring water, just like the instruction. Then, I sprinkled flour I compelled the dour travelling priest to bless.

The difficult part was not overcoming my fear it wouldn’t work, or fear of the unnumbered dead I was about to invite, but the sacrifice. I’d stolen the old cutlass from the tavern, sharpened the blade and bought an old ewe from a squatter. It was huddled in a rough pen I’d built a few days earlier, doped on one of my preparations. I grimaced, imagining the drunken taunts of those ill-favoured whalers. Or would they string me up for witchcraft?

With a swig of rum, I take the sheep by its halter, and with the short sword, slit its throat over the trench. The sheep struggled and was still as the blood pooled, glinting in the moonlight. I dragged the poor creature back up, after some time, and heaved its body on branches I’d built into a pyre. The old me would not recognise this version of myself. I dare not consider if the dead will.

Sweating, and faint, I returned to the trench, where something disturbed the air. Even then, after everything, I trembled as I drew the bloodied cutlass. My voice nothing more than a croak, I held back spectres of the long dead, until the one I needed came forward.

As my eyes adjusted, the dead made themselves known. I saw my mother, Andrea. I wept, yet for all my grief, I suffered her not to draw near to the blood. Then I saw Issy and cried out. But she shook her head. My heart broke and she died another death in silence.

The witch appeared. I drew up my sword. Through her bloody smile she said: ‘thou art asking of thy returning, and through many troubles ye may come home, if thou take a ship to find Helios at night. Yet, I foreshow ruin for thy ship and its men. Though thou shalt thyself escape, late shalt thou return in evil plight, and thou shalt find sorrows. The sea again shall end thee. This is sooth.’

Before I could question her, she disappeared, and my mother took some blood. I tried to hold her but she shook her head. ‘You were lost. My heart couldn’t endure the cancer treatment.’ I fell to my knees.

I looked up as Isabel approached again. The light of the moon shone through her blue eyes, and there was the faintest odour of salt water. She smiled as I attempted to brush her cheek. She said we will be together. I dropped to my knees but believed her, whoever we were and will be.

Others came forward, but I had not the heart to hear them. Benumbed, I filled in the trench, lit the pyre, gagging at the odour of seared wool and eucalypt. Spirits disappeared into the smoke. Once the fire was spent, burying the remains took up the rest of the night.

With a hint of daylight making my steps easier, returning home was a dream. I startled at my own hollow laugh – home. Even here, I was changing: time’s flotsam, apothecary, raiser of the dead, and villager.

The fog burned off as I neared the bay. The whalers would head out. The scar on my hand throbbed as I made for the jetty.

I was going out with the dark-prowed ship as my witch instructed. The captain rubbed his brow, accepting my coins. With that I had the freedom of the deck, as long as I didn’t interfere.

The ship headed east, as my witch predicted. Despite low clouds on the horizon, we kept on, towards a pod the captain seemed sure about from the helm. The wind increased, and I grabbed some rope. The swell whipped up and the ship’s tempo changed. Harpoons were abandoned for rigging. The coast disappeared, and all our ways darkened, yet by my reckoning it was midday. I lashed myself to the mast as clouds and sea merged. Rain pelted into the canvas as the vessel pitched beyond control. Visibility was nothing as cresting waves ripped timbers apart. Thunder cracked and at a higher pitch, so did the mast.

I was again in the nightmare I fell into. I cackled at the storm in this genial hour. I would survive this shipwreck. I will rise.

With what’s left of her book against my heart, I see her, us together. Hand in hand, sun darkening the freckles sprinkled across her nose and haloing Issy’s yellow braids, as we head up from the surf.

I screamed her name.



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The Accident on Mitchell Street by Jacob M Lambert

Heels scuffing the hardwood of the foyer, the couple dashed through the open door and out into the frosty October wind, the pungent scent of their deodorized bodies lingering behind them—lilies, aftershave, and musk all rolled into a single funk.

And Ellie Masterson, who’d seen this happen at least twice a day, simply pressed the clipboard to her chest, sighed, and let her almond brown hair drape over her face. She then left the kitchen (which was the farthest she’d made it with potential clients) and approached the front door, waiting on the next group.

“You’ve got about ten minutes, and then I’m—”

Before she could finish the sentence, two men—one wearing a fuzzy green sweater and the other a long trench coat—strolled up the sidewalk, holding hands. Ellie forced her best smile, one she hoped made her look more welcoming and less like a sixty-year-old, impatient ghoul. But with the dark eyeliner and rouge lipstick on her pale face (in addition to the knee-length substitute teacher dress adorned in bright flowers), she doubted the most sanguine display would make much difference.

There was the house, too.
And as if it knew her thoughts, the floor trembled beneath her feet, drawers flew open upstairs, chandelier lights flickered above—everything that drove the previous potentials from the kitchen and back to Watertown, or wherever they had come.    

Again, Ellie sighed.

“Excuse me, are you Ms. Masterson?”

The man in the trench coat extended his hand. He was handsome, she thought, with his tanned, pop-marked face and auburn goatee. A white scar stretched from his right cheek to his chin—but that only made the flesh of Ellie’s neck flush even more: she thought scars were sexy.

“I’m sorry. Yes—I’m Ms. Masterson, but please, call me Ellie.”

Smiling, the man said, “We called about the house. I’m Blake and this is my—”
“Tim,” the man in the green sweater interrupted. He casted an awkward, wide-eyed glance at Blake, then let his gaze fall back on Ellie. “We were hoping the house hadn’t sold yet. It hasn’t—has it?”

Momentarily feeling out of place, as if she were swaying drunk in a room full of addicts, Ellie dipped her chin and tightened her lips. “Actually no: we haven’t sold it yet.”

“Great,” Blake said, his smile widening. “Can we have a look?”

Ellie nodded and, stepping to the right, ushered the two into the foyer. She then—as always—remained silent, letting them formulate their own opinion before she interrupted. It was something she’d learned the hard way: too jovial, too insistent, too micromanaging was for the mannequins on QVC, not underpaid realtors. And while she watched Blake climb the stairs, where he stopped, pointing at something near the top, a familiar sound reverberated in her ears: the staccato thumping of her own heart.

“What was that?” Tim said, stopping midway between the hardwood and the stairs.

Here we go again, she thought, and for the third time (at least since the couple arrived) sighed. “I didn’t hear anything?”
“I never said I heard something,” Tim replied. “Is there someone here?”
Ellie walked toward them. In her peripheral, a rounded ceramic plate with child’s feet stamped in red paint swayed on the imitation wood paneling. Finally, she stopped a few feet shy of the bannister. “There is an extra aspect of the house I didn’t mention in the online advertisement. But I usually wait until—”

“You’re not going to tell me what I think you are, right?” Blake descended the steps backward, while keeping his eyes on Ellie. The flush came again, and she could smell the sweat fuming from her chest—a sickly scent that stood out over the dust, cologne, and mixtures of various undefinable stenches creeping through the house.

Pursing her lips, Ellie nodded.

“Wonderful!” Tim shouted, the disgust in his voice striking Ellie like an invisible cannon ball to the stomach. “I knew there was something off about this place. The outside looks like a Victorian mansion—and the inside…it’s beautiful. But eighty-thousand: too unbelievable.”
“It’s hardly noticeable. I promise. Just—”  

“Are you serious right now, lady? C’mon, Blake,” he said, interrupting her. But as he reached for his husband’s hand, the opposite happened.

“Who is it?”

Ellie met Blake’s gaze, but she quickly looked away as she spoke. “A man—I don’t know his name.”

As he opened his mouth to reply, ahead, on the wall next to Ellie, the plaster (the only place without the unpleasant paneling) started cracking, large chunks crumbling to the floor. Tim’s eyes widened, but he remained stationary, right hand clutching the bannister. However, Blake, moving past him, approached the area between stairs and wall—where a narrow hallway led to the kitchen. Through all this, Ellie continued pursing her lips, chin tilted, as if waiting for a disciplining blow. Her heart paced rapidly in her chest, and had she not grown use to the sensation, she would have feared the worst: heart attack, stroke, etc. etc. etc.

But that didn’t happen. It never did.
“Are you sure it’s only a man?”

Bushy brows drawn into a single arch, Blake shook his head. “Because, I don’t think a grown man would write this.”
On the wall, carved in jagged, mismatched letters, was a single question: IS MY BIKE GOING TO BE OKAY.


As Tim’s legs thawed, so did his mouth. “I can’t believe you knew about this and still tried selling us this house. I swear you’ll lose you license over this, lady. I swear.” 

“Still think it’s a man?” Blake said. “Cause I don’t think so.”

“Are you listening to me?”

Hearing him absolutely fine, Blake reached out and traced the coarse texture of the scrawling, then lowered his head—his bottom lip trembling.

“When I was a kid, my grandfather died in a motorcycle accident, a few days before I turned eleven.”

“I’m…sorry,” Ellie said, raising her head, but only a little.

“It’s okay, really—that was a long time ago. But he loved his bike, you know?” Blake paused and wiped a single tear from his left cheek, before it could dampen his mustache. “For a long time, I wondered if he was still there. My parent’s said he was in heaven: their usual poor attempt at commiserations when someone passed. But I didn’t believe it, cause sometimes, when I was alone, I could smell the Talcum powder. He would always use too much, and the scent would follow him: a medicated, menthol odor. You know what I mean?”
Ellie understood perfectly, but for her it wasn’t a smell—it was a sound: laughing.

“I’m not smelling anything right now, though,” Blake said, “but the bike, the way this is written on the wall: a child wrote this.”

From behind, now standing on the bottom step, Tim rubbed his eyes and shook his head. “Will you come off it already, Blake? This whole thing’s a scam, don’t you see that? She probably read a few of your books and looked you up online. It’s not that difficult, with all of the sites out there offering pennies for background—”

“Tim, go outside. Smoke a cigarette or something. I’m sure you’re having a nic fit anyway, so just go.” Blake’s voice, especially on the emphasis of Tim’s name, made Ellie’s large frame shudder. She hadn’t expected the sudden severity in the man’s tone, but she was glad for it: Tim’s slender neck craned forward, and he released an exasperated breath. Then his previously smooth features wrinkled into a scowl as he descended the step, sauntered to the front door, and slammed it—rattling the blinds over the frosted window in its center.  

Closing his eyes and shaking his head, Blake frowned. “I’m sorry about that. Been married only a week and I’m already kicking myself. But he’s a good man, Ellie. Just doesn’t have an imagination, that’s all.”

“No, it’s alright,” she replied. “I should have mentioned this in the description.”

“Well, it’s not exactly something you broadcast. But the message on the wall: I think a child wrote this—not an adult. What do you think?”
Ellie shrugged.

“Look, give me a few days to talk to Tim, and I’ll give you a call with our decision, okay? I think that whoever wrote this,” he said, again pointing to the words, “might just need the same thing I did: someone to guide them forward.”
Blake smiled and nodded to Ellie before retracing his earlier steps to the front door. For a moment, she stood there—between the wall and stairs—then wiped the tears away from her own cheeks as she ventured into the foyer, where the round, ceramic plate rested against the imitation paneling. There she stopped, facing it, her eyes drawn to the four-inch-long red footprints adorning the front.

“I think I might have found a home for you—both of you,” she said, smiled, and started rounding the corner. But the sound of someone digging into plaster, like rats chewing their way through a cardboard box, halted her progress.
The thumping in her chest returned. But this time a wave of unreality seized her vision, making everything appear sharper, louder, and more urgent. Turning on slick joints, Ellie returned to the wall, where she then took a deep breath before lifting her eyes to the letters. IS MY BIKE GOING TO BE OKAY remained etched there in deep, crooked groves. But there was also something else, directly below it:

“I told you before, a dozen times: I’m not your mother.”

In that instant, the plaster started falling again, and letter after letter appeared, each digging deeper and deeper into the wall.

“Please, you have to stop,” she said, dropping the clipboard and placing her hands to her temples, where she then squeezed, as if the pressure alone would halt the irrational fear that her head might tumble to the floor.
More pieces of the wall crumbled as the response appeared. And if there was any equivocation to the message, the startling crash of the ceramic plate shattering on the hardwood floor extinguished it. Underneath the previous MOMMY was this:

“No, we’ve been through this,” she said, letting her eyes wander over to the ceramic shards—noticing the way each piece somehow broke into a perfect bladed shape. “I won’t. I am Not. Your. Mother.”

As Ellie backed away, now almost tripping over her feet, one final message formed on the wall, but this one went deeper: into the wooden support beams, scrawled almost irritably.


  Blake’s hands shot into the air, palms facing the gunmetal sky, as if holding an imaginary globe. “You don’t have to be such an ass, Tim.”

“Did you not see how she acted? Could barely look me in the eyes.”

“She was afraid you’d judge her—like you’re doing now.”

Silence fell between them. The October air numbing his semi-bearded cheeks (where the hair was already growing back from the morning shave), Blake leaned against the hood of their black 08’ Honda Civic. “Look, can we agree to disagree? I’m tired of arguing.”
“Yeah, I guess. It’s just—”

Across the road, both men heard the front door of the house swing open and slam against the inside wall. Moments after that—they saw Ellie, hands over her ears, dash down the front steps, through the yard, and continue toward the road.

“What’s she doing?”

He didn’t reply, just simply watched the woman keep running until she disappeared around the corner and out of sight.
Finally, Blake repeated the question, but again, Tim didn’t answer. “I thought we were okay now? Say something.”
“We’re fine. We’re fine. But look at that. Have you ever seen anything like that?”
Even from where he stood, Blake could see the distinct shape of a boy standing in the open doorway and the undulating effect his presence had on the house: it was like an invisible finger pressing the center of an object made of partially liquefied gelatin. Everything bounced and rippled outward. And when Tim squeezed his shoulder, Blake, before breaking his stare, caught the sight of a much taller man shadow the boy’s tinier frame.
Then it was gone.
“Did you see that?”
Tim nodded. “Let’s follow the lady’s example, Blake. Unless you’re still thinking about buying the house? And you’re not, right?”
He took a step away from the car, further into the street.
“C’mon, Blake? Blake?”