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Uxoricide by Bob McNeil

 

During a Thursday, around 3:43AM, a female and male sauntered towards the driveway of her Spanish Colonial-styled mansion. The woman, Neala Desdemona Johnson, was blonde, in her thirties. Her appearance was comparable to the models found in Playboy. Her male counterpart, Rod Silverman, who was younger than she, favored an actor, Johnny Depp. In an attempt to convey his libidinousness, the male stopped and put his arms around his girlfriend’s waist. This effort at warming the woman to the proposal of having sex worked. Under her red leather skirt, jacket and shoes, she felt a lot warmer. And Rod’s blue Italian suit felt tighter, much tighter.

Mansions were common to Rod Silverman. Being the son of an investment banker father and an art curator mother, he was used to wealth. Irrespective of his family’s moneyed existence, as a young, rising model, Rod was getting riches of his own. Among the profits of appearing in fashion magazines and going to trendy clubs was dating attractive, wealthy divorcees like Neala.

Over to the right of Neala and Rod, crouching behind some shrubbery, the forty-seven-year-old African-American former football star Orello Johnson was wearing a ninja outfit. Disguised by his black cotton Balaclava Ninja mask, anger monopolized his expression. Sans his gear, he had short dark coiled hair, straight features, oval eyes, somewhat narrow lips, broad shoulders, bronze skin and an Olympiad’s musculature. Certain women thought the man was handsome. His awareness of these females made his ego rival the Rungrado May Day Stadium for largest mass.

Unheard by anyone else, Orello whispered, “I should take the blood from her fake breasts, breasts that I bought for her. I am the man who inflated those trailer tires and parked them in my mansion.”

Upon amassing an armory of anger, Orello emerged and unsheathed his head.

“What, what, what drug made you come here, Orello?” Neala screamed. Cold, pale fear encased her from skeletal pillars to the flesh covering her. Letting her fingers unify into fists somehow made the woman resuscitate her composure. The girder for steadying her logic was in place as she continued speaking, “I thought the court explained your visitation rights to you. You can see our daughter and son on the weekends.”

Asleep and oblivious to the fight below, two olive-skinned children with sandy hair were in the right wing of the mansion. Their little bodies, which had the attributes from both parents, were content.

“Pray, puta, pray!” Orello’s reply had all the rancor of a Rottweiler before chewing on its prey.

“Hey, uh, uh, don’t call her that!” Rod tried to posture like a defensive lineman, but the boy knew that if a fight started, Orello would defeat him.

“Shut up, sex toy. Your trampish hole and I have some probing to do. Does this boy know that you drove him in my Charcoal Gray 1969 Ford Bronco? Does this boy know that you’re gonna screw him in the house that I pay mortgage on? Does this boy know that you spend my one hundred six thousand dollars every four weeks?”

“Yeah, I’m a trampish hole, but not your trampish hole anymore. You will never screw me anymore and that’s causing your rage. Well, you had this hole for a whole long time. Some days I was your pleasure and other days I was your opponent in a boxing ring. Did you feel like the Heavyweight Champion of the World after beating a woman, Orello? Other than bringing grief, what else are you going to give our relationship?”

Each word that she lunged turned into a shank stabbing Orello in the abdomen. Psychosomatic or real pain, either way, it hurt as if it were a weapon. Enraged by her, Orello wanted the discomfort of the scene to cease. Walking away was not enough, he wanted blood. Orello wanted to see the submission of defeated fighters. His psychopathic need, the desire to ingest violence, wanted a couple of servings.

Evil was never birthed out of nothingness. Orello’s family proved that aforementioned concept to be incontrovertible. All Johnson men were large. Ranging from the tall and muscular to the stout, they were huge. What they possessed in size, they lacked in compassion for women considerably smaller. Bullying diminutive females was yet another trait these men possessed. Johnson men were known for abusing women. The clan pounced on insecure women. A specific Johnson son named Orello saw his father abuse his mother. That fight left bruises upon his psyche. The bruises metastasized into a murderous adulthood.

With a quick motion, Orello stabbed Rod with his Bowie hunting knife. The blade rammed through the trachea of the Hollywood-model-handsome male. Gurgling sounds, instead of other pained utterances, came out of the victim. Akin to a cocaine high, Orello felt exhilarated.

Before she could run or scream, Orello grabbed Neala. Stifled by his left hand, her howl was hampered.

“As opposed to screaming, why don’t you say this? ‘For giving my boyfriend a means to meet God, thank you, Orello.’ You won’t repeat those words, will you? Even though you won’t praise the gift that my knife gave your man, I am going to give you the same prize. But, first, speak your last words, say them.”

“What will you do with our d–d-daughter and s-s-son? Don’t deny Sandy and Justice a relationship with their mother. Leave before the police arrive. I won’t tell them that you stabbed Rod. Orello, besides thinking about our babies, I am concerned about your other children from your first marriage. Consider Arnette and Jordan before you do another thing right now.”

“Arnette and Jordan are adults now. They hate you. Praise for killing you, not criticism, is what I will get from them. Frankly, as for our kids, being six and seven, they won’t remember you after a while.”

“Imagine our kids’ lives with you in prison then put the knife down.”

“You’re merely another wallet-sucking parasite.”

“Your cynicism will prevent you from hearing this, how-however, I did love you. I profited from your love, never the money. Baby, even after the abuse started, I thought my heart could love you so much that your evil would weaken and go away. No matter how much love I gave, you still found reasons to beat me. Honestly, if I didn’t divorce you, Orello, I would have killed you. Much as I desired your death, I didn’t try to kill you. Two things prevented me from murdering you: our children and my hope that our relationship would become something beautiful. Please, Big O, don’t kill any chance for our reconciliation.”

Believe it or not, Neala was expressing some truth, despite what Orello thought. For a corn-fed 19-year-old Indiana girl, armed with dreams of being a model, L.A. was like paradise. So, between waiting tables and auditioning, Neala thought success was a tip away. Some fifteen years ago, at The Datura Club, when she met Orello, her whole spirit knew they were going to be media town’s hottest twosome. And, yes, around the beginning of the relationship, she did love him.

Years later, she saw that love get tackled until it hurt.

A single portion of the plea was false as a faked orgasm and that was the part about any future reconciliation. Neala would have sooner French kissed Charles Manson than date or remarry Orello again.

A combination of cocaine, steroids, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and genetics prevented Orello from comprehending Neala’s statement. Exceeding all else, the weapon in his hand was able to communicate Orello’s response. Quicker than his mind’s ability to realize what he was doing, Orello’s arm swung as if it were a scythe mowing grass. Known for its sharpness, the metal went straight through the victim’s neck. There was no way of concealing the sanguinary act, Orello realized. Blood shot out and stretched to greet his clothes. The knife was the bartender and it was serving blood. Unsinewed as a dishrag, Neala fell and a plasma pool widened around her outstretched body.

Soon, though, once the satisfaction of killing his ex-wife dissipated, elation died. Not much later, it became dread and nausea. Fear’s cold hand grabbed the killer’s spinal column.

Leopard-legged and madness-motivated, Orello ran into the darkness. Among his goals, not getting caught for his monstrous act was paramount. Through side streets, the murderer made his way to his new home. About half a mile separated him from his desired sanctuary. Midway to his destination, Orello reminisced about being the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. Considering that he was now much older and his stamina had changed since the mark he set during the 1973 season, the former running back was pleased with the amount of strength his legs still possessed.

Orello entered his residence which looked like a place that Elvis would have enjoyed calling home. Although it was large enough to accommodate two jumbo jets, Orello preferred his former home. Expensive divorce proceedings made him lose the other house to Neala.

Disrobing in the dark and thinking about all that took place, the murderer scrutinized his actions. Garments and the weapon went into a plastic bag. The evidence was going to be put in a place as unattainable as Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa and D.B. Cooper. Sneaker prints on the carpet were vacuumed away. Inspired by a childhood spent watching Basil Rathbone on television, Orello mused that he could stump Sherlock Holmes.

Later, in his bedroom, numerous glasses of screwdrivers with a little juice could not remove Orlello’s conscience. Emotion-sedating pills, the kind that could make an elephant sleep, were also unable to remove the disturbing murder from his dreams.

***

“Yes, I killed my wife! Yes, I killed my wife!” Orello cried out. Remorse was a touchdown vulture that stole his demeanor.

“From the first news report, I knew you stabbed that woman. Unfortunately, by a jury of your so-called peers, you were deemed innocent of that charge. Double Jeopardy prevents the judicial system from putting you in a court for that case ever again. This time, however, the State of Nevada will make these unrelated kidnapping and robbery charges kick your prick into the penal system for a long, long bid.”

Orello did not know who spoke to him. He opened his eyes and found out he was not in his home at all, but he was in a 6 by 8 grey prison cell, wearing blue inmate garb. The voice belonged to a Corrections Officer in a green uniform. A middle-aged, tall, muscular white male with short auburn hair was standing outside of the prison door. He was in front of the bars looking at Orello. There, on his cot, Orello realized what transpired.

“Whoa, I was having a real serious nightmare, man. Check it out, um, what I was yelling wasn’t true. I had nothing, nothing to do with Neala’s, you know, you know, murder.”

“Bad dreams aren’t all you have to worry about today, football hero. Your court case is being called again. Make sure you wash yourself well because the jury is going to screw you.” The guard walked away from Orello’s cell. A blitz of laughter struck the walls and bars of the building. Inspired by the officer expressing his appreciation for his own humor, co-workers and other inmates stormed with their chuckles. From afar, Orello could still hear the guard speaking. “Try to understand this, sports star, pretend today’s New Year’s Eve and you’re the only available toilet in Times Square. Justice is going to piss on you. Court TV will let everyone see you get wet. Disappointingly for all the abused women out there, you’re not going to get a lethal injection, or what I call the ‘Juice.’”

Denied comfort, a need to satirize another inmate’s sorrow was on par with escaping. Humor was a tunnel to a freer place. Everyone in that section of the prison enjoyed lampooning the once venerated football player. By laughing at Orello, these criminals and officers felt better about their parts in the melodrama.

Disorientation was exiting with its fog in tow. Memories of situations that brought Orello back into the judicial double arm bar pin maneuver were appearing. The criminal remembered that after fifteen years of freedom, he made a life-defeating mistake. In a Las Vegas’ Auction House, with a gun in his hand, Orello confronted men who allegedly stole some of his valuable possessions. Since he stopped the auction in an illegal manner, Orello was arrested. That June, he was charged with a load of felonies.

Imprisoned by the realization that his somniloquy confessed to a form of unlawfulness while facing another form, Orello sat up on his cot. Right then, his desire for cocaine made him imagine the taste of the white powder on his tongue.

That guard returned to the cell. For a while there Orello thought he was hallucinating, because it looked like Neala exited the Correctional Officer’s body the way steam would from soup. Previous to disappearing, the apparition, dressed in a miniskirt-short ivory-colored tunic, turned, smiled and laughed. It was the type of laughter that people would associate with villains. Hearing the manic cackle gave Orello the feeling icy stalactites were forming on his spine.

***

Entering that courtroom with an infamous murder case in his past did not make the accused criminal look nicer. There was a full meal of reasons to hate Orello Johnson. Each person in that room chewed on some reason or another. Nervous about the setting, the defendant fidgeted.

Compounded with all the legalities Orello had to battle, there was Neala’s ubiquitous being standing next to the jury box. Later, she was standing beside Judge Janis Copper. Other times Neala stood a foot away from the bailiff. No matter where the ghost stood, she laughed throughout the long trial.

“Can you hear and see her?” Orello whispered the query to Criminal Defense Attorney Harvard Moldova.

“Who?” The middle-aged white lawyer in the pinstriped suit replied. Indeed, Harvard did not know to whom Orello was referring. In addition, he wished for another client.

“Neala is standing over there and over there at the same time. Look over there to the right and left of the judge before Neala changes her position again,” Orello whispered.

“Are you trying to get an insanity plea?” Harvard asked. Nervously awaiting an answer, the brown-haired lawyer stared at a client who made him feel hatred.

“Insane, no, I am not insane. I was just saying that some of the women here look like Neala.” A plea bargain for Orello to stay in an asylum would separate him from his children and his assets. His plans would be tackled. Sure, seven hundred fifty milligrams of Depakote and about four hundred milligrams of Theophylline would make the prison bid bearable, but deadening his senses would prevent Orello from getting the ultimate touchdown–freedom.

“Members of the jury, have you reached a verdict?”

Nervous about the setting, Orello continued tapping his brown slippers and biting the cuticle of his thumb. He wanted supernatural strength so he could race to a time before meeting his wife. If time travel were possible, Orello thought, he would jettison back to a time when he was loved by the American media.

“Yes, your honor, we have.” Harder than an assassin’s demeanor was the expression on the young, pale woman as she spoke, “Guilty, your honor.” Neala exited the woman’s flesh triumphantly.

His countenance became melted chocolate. All the flesh on his face dangled in a mass of sadness. Muscles that once maintained his structure buckled. Orello collapsed. His body and existence met the floor.

“Now, you’re gonna rot,” Frank, the father of Rod Silverman, screamed.

Age and despondency tormented the Silvermans. Every day the two conditions stabbed another part of them. Frank’s green eyes appeared murkier and sadder since the murder trials. His square jaw, which once gave him an appearance of a strong leading man, now hung as if the floor beckoned it. Over the course of the trial, his dark and full collar-length hair became grey. In his case, it was not the natural aging process. The loss of his son siphoned all vivaciousness from his being. Frank, in his sixties, could have passed for a man ten to fifteen years older.

Another victim of this siphoning process was Rod’s mother, Cheryl. Called the Elizabeth Taylor of the Hamptons, Cheryl’s beauty was admired for many years. Losing her son and finding alcohol turned her cinematic sultriness into a network of decrepit wretchedness. Wrinkles, warts and a disposition that would befit Edward Albee’s Martha replaced the woman Frank married. Undeterred by their divorce after the murder of their son, they attended all of Orello’s trials together.

Right alongside the Silverman family was Neala’s older sister, Daphne Ensler. Both were stairstep children, a mere year separated them. There, at age forty-eight, the auburn-haired buxom woman would sell her eyes and arms to get her sister back. Loss was an exclusive concern for the senior sibling, especially now since the murder of a family member and the death of her parents, Lars and Janet. On the day Orello stabbed Neala, he ran the blade through that farm couple. A little less than two years passed and both the mother and father died of heart attacks. Daphne’s heart was dedicated to her son, twenty-year-old Christopher, her husband, Jack, the contractor, and her career as a writer. Daphne’s books on domestic violence were acclaimed.

United, the Silverman family and Daphne Ensler stood in clothes befitting a funeral—Orello’s funeral.

Turning towards Frank, Orello saw the ghost of Rod Silverman appear, wearing the same type of tunic that Neala had, but his covered both knees. The ghost wore the expression of an individual who wanted to slaughter his slayer. If Orello were beef, Rod would have served the slices to sewer rats.

Even scarier than Rod’s expression was the presence of a brown-haired angelic woman with white wings and a yellow robe. None of the other apparitions scared him as much as the presence of this ethereal female. Maybe she was the devil, Orello thought. Yet, unlike any other known description of the fallen angel, she was not what the ex-football player expected. Materializing when she wanted, the creature was instructing Neala. Towering above everyone in the courtroom, she glared at Orello. Perhaps she was awaiting her moment to kill, the ex-football player concluded.

***

Orello returned to inmates and corrections officers tormenting him with words that felt like a bump and run. Such discomfort that was created by critical quips was not quite as painful as the visions of Neala, though. Without a logical schedule, the slain woman often appeared in Orello’s cell and laughed. Sometimes she was accompanied by Rod and that winged figure. Under those aforesaid circumstances, Orello awaited his next court appearance in two months.

Had Orello known how strange it sounded to others outside of his cell, he would not have yelled at his ex-wife. Testimonials from convicts and corrections officers agreed on this observation: Orello argued with a woman who was unseen and unheard.

In particular, there was this outburst from Orello that an inmate remembered. An unnamed eavesdropper said Orello bellowed the following: “Neala, Neala, appearing just to disappear won’t help you win this game. Stay so I can explain things to you or hide like a scared girl. Either way, I am going to win. I am Orello Johnson. Don’t you understand that in 1966, when your little ass attended grade school, I rushed for 1,709 yards, got me 22 touchdowns and earned the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and the Walter Camp Award all during that same year? Hell, in the Rose Bowl, just three years later, I ran 171 yards. Plus, I got an 80-yard TD run. What’s a pale as bird poop phantom gonna do to this brother, huh?

“I played the pig on the gridiron. America cheered me. America revered me. The reverence was a treasure in my bank. My name became success. My persona became a multimillion dollar advertisement. Back when America transmitted racism through rabbit ears, I was on TV. In people’s homes, I was selling waste and they guzzled it like they liked it. Spread out on the big scene movie screen, I was a buffoon with the stadium-wide smile and audiences wanted more helpings of my trash.

“Soon I am going to play a role that’s better than being in a franchise. This role is going to give me the Oscar for bedding that Lady Justice Broad.”

“Next to ants, you’re a giant. Next to an ethical man, you’re dirt,” Neala stated before her figure materialized.

“What’s a ghost gonna do to this brick house, huh?”

“Yo, Orello, shut your hole or I’ll show ya who’s goin’ to knock your brick house down. Ya sound like you’re crazy talkin’ to yourself,” an unseen inmate yelled from another cell.

Not a soul but Orello could hear Neala speak. Realizing that his responses were what the inmates overheard, Orello imagined cement drying on his lips.

Left with nothing else to do after Neala disappeared, Orello tried to sleep, but even that provided torment. Since his incarceration for his wife’s murder, Orello had nightmares about castration, not just anybody’s castration—his castration. Nighttime hours, rather fittingly it seemed, were now reserved for new horrific scenarios to play in Orello’s mind. The drama that played throughout his nightmare showed Orello tied to a bed and all the women he abused cheered as Lorena Bobbitt and Neala cut off his genitalia with knives. Every night there was this sensation of metal slicing him.

Besides the vision of the mutilating duo, there was another sorority that prevented comfortable sleep. His need to nod was interrupted by seeing Velma Barfield putting a toxic chemical in his meals. A lot of dreams were spent being chased by ax-swinging Karla Faye Tucker. Sweat formed all over Orello after watching Betty Lou Beets and Aileen Wuornos shoot at him. Sleep was a murderess. Nauseated, nervous and pained, Orello rarely got more than three hours of sleep per day.

***

“The judge is getting ready for the game, Mr. Sports Hero.” Those words were the alarm clock and calendar that alerted Orello to the date and time of his court case. It was two months to the day since his last judicial ordeal.

Orello saw himself as the team captain standing in front of a blackboard, drawing diagrams and preparing to defeat the other team. Further contemplation on the subject of his pending court case made Orello come up with what he believed was a good game plan. He envisioned himself mesmerizing the judge. Based on all accounts, Orello was effective in getting field goals on females. Even going back to his youth, the opposite sex wanted the athletic male. Success increased the man’s appeal. Orello figured by letting his charm run with the ball, the female judge would personally lead him to the parking lot. During Orello’s shower and dressing ritual, the idea became erotic.

***

“Is there anything that your client would like to say before sentencing?” The forty-something-year-old judge asked. Her approach to the case was much like the ponytail holding her black hair—severe.

“Your honor, my client would like to make a statement.” Earlier Orello told his lawyer that he had some words to impart.

“You may proceed, Mr. Johnson.” Only Orello could hear Neala’s cackle.

“Ma’am, I’m a simple former athlete. There’s no law degree hanging on my wall at home. Ignorance is the reason why I decided to do an unlawful thing. Someone told me about an auction that was going to take place. Also, I heard that my stuff, stuff that was stolen from my home was going to be sold. Sure, now after learning about the law a little, I understand that I shouldn’t have gotten a gun to get my things. Nor should I have held the thieves against their will at the auction house. Emotions, such as anger and hate, inspired a reaction before I could think about the best action.” Midway to the end of his monologue, Orello thought he made the judge wet.

“Your honor, let me say this, I am sorry about my unlawful act. Certainly, you can understand that I was trying to regain my own possessions from some thieves. My approach, though a little too hardcore, was well-intentioned. Whether some would call me a criminal or a hero, all I wanted was my own stuff back.” Convinced that his monologue was working, Orello started to plan a release party, complete with strippers, hookers, celebrities, booze and drugs.

“This state was always my favorite. A lot of my football fans live right here in Nevada, and I have always been good to my fans. Nothing would ever make me do anything against this area.”

“Mr. Johnson, you have two minutes before sentencing.”

“O.K, try to get into my motivations and you’ll understand why I handled the situation the way I did. Thank you for allowing me to speak in this honorable courtroom.”

Talking got Orello out of myriad personal dilemmas in the past. As a result, he was convinced that his voice made eggs sizzle. Unless the judge was a blind and deaf lesbian, her body should be lava, Orello thought.

“Thank you again, your honor.”

“You are welcome. I hereby sentence you to thirty-four years.”

Nine years before the possibility of parole became a mantra in Orello’s head. Over again the sentence echoed. He had to serve all those years in state prison before being eligible for parole. The judge might as well have shot Orello. There was, of course, the possibility of an appeal. No matter the legal option, the process of fighting the judge’s decision would take something that Orello did not have—patience.

There, as per usual, Frank Silverman was in the audience taunting Orello with condemnation. Orello’s acquittal for the murder of Neala Desdemona Johnson and Rod Silverman was a dagger in Frank’s heart. Granted, the Civil Court passed a judgment against the former athlete for two wrongful deaths, but it could not make the Silverman’s pain of losing a son stop. $66.6 million dollars that the parents were supposed to receive

did not alleviate the lamentation either. Consistent excuses as to why the complete amount could not be paid pushed the blade further into Frank’s psyche.

Ritualistically, beside Frank, Cheryl and Daphne stood.

It was the civil case that forced Orello into questionable business choices. He made a porno film, wrote a book about his wife’s murder and did personal appearances, etc. The celebrity could not let people sack his fortune. So, desperation became his defensive line.

“The Devil is going to bake your hide,” The Silverman patriarch cried out.

Consistently absent, Orello’s four children saw no reason to attend any of the court proceedings. As far as they were concerned, after Orello was arrested, he died.

Anna Simpson, dissimilar to her children, watched all of Orello’s courtroom problems on TV. Wearing a red floral Muumuu, red processed hair in rollers, surrounded by cherry soda cans, barbeque potato chips and a remote control, her pudgy physique was

orgasmic while watching the defeat of her abusive ex-husband.

A Hispanic bailiff, who was about the size of a kickboxer, took Orello out of the courtroom. The bewildered criminal turned to Rod’s father and stared. That uncommunicative state was caused by the presence of three afterlife figures. Overhead, unseen by all except Orello, Neala, alongside some befeathered female and Rod, cheered repeatedly.

***

Once the case concluded and the lawyer told Orello they could appeal the decision, the cell seemed even smaller. Handicapping this jurisprudential game, Orello knew that no appeal would overturn his predicament.

Later that evening, psychotropic drugs were administered to help alleviate the sensation of cleats and knives piercing Orello’s brain and lower extremities. The pills were prescribed because it was deemed that he was suicidal.

Somewhere around twelve thirty A.M., his ex-wife returned. The abusive spouse knew that the woman who bore his child would trek his way once more. Orello wanted Neala to haunt him.

“Now I guess my sentence will be spent being haunted by you.”

“Why would I share another portion of my immortal life providing a source of escape from your loneliness? No, you’re going to detox from your favorite stimulant—attention. Get ready for withdrawals from the warm love of women, football fans and your children.”

“Please allow your spirit to forgive. Please give me that.”

“You’re right. I should give you certain things. Here’s the first thing I will give: information. Recent reports have proven that a woman is beaten every nine seconds. That calculation inspired me to give you a gift. Right at the point some malevolent man hurts a woman, you will feel the blows upon your body. Punches and slaps some unknown woman endures will affect your flesh. Why should women suffer unaccompanied by your presence? Aside from being suicidal, you will experience discomfort a prison doctor will believe is psychosomatic.”

“Your gene pool was as worthless as pigeon crap on a porch. Until I came into your soon-to-be-on-food-stamps life, you were a liability. How could you have such powers?”

“Try to work past your stupidity and listen. That night you stabbed the life out of me, I saw a Goddess.”

“Did you get high before coming here?” A titter accompanied the question.

“She called herself Nemesis. This Goddess and her minions hunt men like you.”

“What kind of weirdo name is Nem-ee-sis?”

Annoyed with the process of answering Orello, Neala’s eyebrows illustrated her anger before she continued speaking. “My wounded form, which you created, angered her. She said, ‘Get up, Gaelic girl. Your parents dubbed you a champion and a champion you will be.’ For my promise to become a fighter on the side of her legion, I was given abilities.

“Far from this dimension, in a stratospheric area reminiscent of ancient Greece, fifteen of my postmortal years were spent training. Taught by Nemesis and other ancient mystics, I learned about bilocation, dematerialization, levitation, metempsychosis, mesmerism, psychokinesis, radiesthesia, telepathy and a lot more. Thankfully, this ghost of an abused woman was given powers by those omnipotent sources. I was using those powers to get you in this prison.”

Binocular-eyed and confused, Orello stood and listened. Neala’s words were unexplored constellations. Lost in her utterances, Orello could not believe how much his

former wife had transformed. Besides the powers the creature gave her, Neala’s IQ increased. His former simple country girl morphed into some kind of Mensa member.

“Above all, being vengeful was not a simple lesson. My folks taught their belief in forgiveness. Unlearning that concept was the hardest.

“Rod wanted justice to come down on you with the force of a mudslide.

Repeated pleas on my part gave me the right to administer your sentence. Albeit simple, my first attempt at attacking you was by storing a meaty suggestion in your mind. Over and over, I repeated these words: ‘Take your gun and get what someone got from you.’ Easier than waving flesh in front of a piranha, you enjoyed the bait.”

“I’m sorry!”

“Ah, Orello, your anguish is the best dish for me.”

Coinciding with the final vowel, she disappeared in a way that would perplex Houdini. In her place appeared Rod Silverman and the other outer worldly lady.

Frustrated with the amount of time Neala used for her revenge, Rod’s interest was his family. Rod was also exasperated by Nemesis and her associates. He was mystified by these beings, living in levitating jewel-encrusted Grecian buildings. From their ancient ceremonial clothing to their arcane rituals that were on par with witchcraft, Rod disliked their oddness.

Instead of yelling at Orello, Rod wanted to punch him and watch his frame become bloody pieces of dismembered flesh. Almost Herculean impulse inhibitors suppressed Rod’s vengefulness. Incapable of expressing his rage, he let Nemesis speak.

“Orello, certain people say I am a demon and others call me a saviour. Neither description matters,” Nemesis stated in a synthesized and genderless voice. “What concerns my existence is seeing parasites like you suffer. All of my ethereal resources are dedicated to a single goal—the destruction of brutish beings. View your torment as you would a tragic play. Moreover, know that Neala and I will enjoy your every upcoming scene.”

Before Orello could respond, the figures disappeared. Defeated, he tried to understand his fate.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Orello yelled while feeling invisible fists pummel him. Doubling over as a result of the attacks, he felt bruises form. Again, being consistent with Neala’s plan, the protuberances were imperceptible to everyone else. “I’m sorry,” Orello screamed once more.

“Yeah, you’re sorry for being such a sorry has-been.” Approximating the style of a stand-up comedian, the guard paused for an audience reaction. Bolstered by the sound of inmates laughing at his put-down, the correction officer continued his critical jokes about Orello. “Don’t be sad, Superstar. You’ll have your football memories to enjoy tonight. The guard quipped outside of Orello’s cell. Laughter that was coming from all sides of the isolation ward became louder than the 1812 Overture. The guffawing made the sobs Orello emitted inaudible in the Lacrimae Rerum Criminal Compound in Nevada.

A prison that was normally known for misery was pleased about accommodating its newest inmate.

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Tom’s Thumbs – K. M. Campbell

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Read The Ancient Ones

 

TOM’S THUMBS – K. M. Campbell

While the old couple slept Malakai the demon eyed them in the dark. They disgusted him and were perfect for his needs. 3000 years of servitude was over and he was free of this half-life. He was ready to return to the full world and no one was left to stop him. He had outlived all his hated masters.

His last token holder had died with no heirs to pass the trinket that held Malakai’s spirit and so the cragged metal returned to Malakai, granting his freedom.

He held the shiny nugget to his lips, licked it slowly then rubbed it against his cheek like a preening cat.

“Let us play and flay.” The demon whispered before tucking the nugget back into his soul, where he would never again be parted from it, no matter how much it hurt to hold onto, the blunted edges that pushed at his insides for release .

He had been watching the old couple for the past few moons. He hated them. They rarely spoke to one other and struggled to even look in the other’s direction. They abused each other with their silent hate and disappointment.

The old woman’s wrinkled hand moved as he scampered up her body, no bigger than a mouse. Even her movements repulsed him, shakes that screamed of old weakness.

They blamed each other for their own failures, their bitterness permeated every corner of their shack which smelled of piss and boiled cabbage. Malakai felt only inevitability at destroying them. After all, they had left the door open for him, all he would do was give them exactly what they wanted.

For the husband, freedom.

For the wife, the child she was promised.

Standing on the crone’s right shoulder, away from the husband, Malakai rearranged his features to resemble a child, the hag’s ultimate weakness.

“Mama, set me free. I’m so alone.” Malakai’s sharp little needle teeth emerged from his purple lips as he smiled brightly.

The old woman was infected with him now, she would never stop until she saved her little boy from the big bad monster that lay in the bed beside hers. And in return for his hard work Malakai would receive a body that would fit the size of his soul instead of this tiny carcass no bigger than a man’s thumb.

He trotted closer to the old man, licking his large callused thumb, wrapping his arms around it and biting down hard enough to draw a few drops of food.

Malakai was hungry and the old man’s blood was good. At least these country types ate well and tasted strong and when the old woman made the poppet this body would be Malakai’s to do with as he pleased.

***

Enid woke to the feel of tiny feet scampering up her body. Her hands jerked in reaction before she could stop them. It frustrated her, all this aching and shaking, it would only scare the child away. But what could she do, she was frail and old, no law against that, goddamn it all to hell.

She glanced toward Tom’s single bed on the other side of the room. The floral comforter was on the ground, tossed aside by his nightly struggles with sleep. She could see his striped summer pajama’s, old man’s clothes, and his plaid slippers lined up just so. Everything about him screamed old and stuck in his ways.

He wasn’t sleeping, she knew him well enough to know the difference in his breathing. He was lying still with his eyes shut, like he did every morning, waiting for Enid to get up and make his breakfast. Lazy old goat.

“Dead yet?” There was little of the humor that had made their marriage a success left.

“After you, my sweet.” He replied, gruff with lack of sleep.

Enid clacked her false teeth into place and left the room. The tiny child was waiting for her in the kitchen and she gasped in surprise, clutching a hand to her heart wondering if her body’s aged pump would stop dead.

“You’re really real?” She asked.

“Almost.” Malakai said on a wet, wobbly, pitiful sigh. “I need the doll. Have you finished it yet?”

Enid hobbled to the cupboard that held her knitting bag, rummaging inside she found the doll she had been working on for the past few days.

“Is it perfect?” Malakai snatched it away, sniffing each seam and licking each stitch. “Perfect.” He turned wide blue eyes to Enid. “It’s perfect. You have done perfect.”

Enid held the table to help her sit. Resting her chin on her hands to stare at the gorgeous little boy who so resembled a young Tom. “Thank you, child. I followed your directions exactly, and now you’re here. Will you be able to become a real child now?”

“Yes. Just one more thing…” He allowed one tear to trail down his perfect cheek.

“What is it? I’ll do anything. I promised.”  

“I need my father’s body to complete my transformation, to be with you forever.”

Enid blinked, becoming more enraptured with each glance at the perfect child. “Alright. Just some skin, nails that sort of thing?”

“I need flesh to become flesh. I must be made from the meat of my father.”

“How much?”

“Not much. Just enough to fill the doll.”

Enid lifted the knitted doll. It was smaller than her hand, with tan skin, blonde hair and blue eyes, just like Tom when they met.

“Tom’s thumbs.” Enid said, “I’ll use Tom’s thumbs.”

Malakai clapped his little hands, “Perfect. Perfect. Thumbs and Plums. Soon?”

“Tonight. I promise.”

***

Later that day, Enid got her chance. “Don’t worry with lunch for me.” Tom said. “I’m not feeling so well.”

“Your stomach?”

“Yeah, looks like the doc was right. I don’t have much longer, Enid.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Nothing, nothing at all. I’m going to bed. I feel like I might actually sleep.”

“Why don’t you take one of the pills the doctor gave you to sleep?”

“No, I told you. I’ll be ending on a mountain of drugs, I want to go without them for as long as I can.”

“I’ll bring you through a warm drink then.”

“I don’t think…”

“Just do as I tell you and don’t be a stubborn old man.”

Tom chuckled, “Alright, Enid, don’t get your knickers in a twist.”

“Would be the only thing that’s happened to my knickers in years.” She grumbled as she stalked to the kettle.

The spiked drink put Tom into such a deep sleep he didn’t even move as she took his favorite boning knife to his thumbs. She reminded herself that this was his penance for having bought home the disease that had rendered her sterile. This was the least he could do for her.

Afterward she cleaned his wounds, dressed them carefully, like a mother, cooing gentle words of apology. She doubted he would notice, he didn’t seem to notice much anymore these days, and if he didn’t like it he could go tell someone. There was another problem. Their lack of children had pushed them away from those that had them until they were solitary with only each other for company.

She gently washed the detached thumbs, waiting for the blood to drain away, soaking them in the kitchen sink wondering how they had ever created anything. They looked so small and shriveled when she pulled them from the water that she worried they would not be good enough for her child.

Back at the kitchen table she dried them with complete devotion, careful not to miss a watery red drop, even going so far as to use the napkins she had kept for good. Except there had never been a good. So the tissues were old and perishing. With frustration she threw them all in the trash, snatching out the white linen sheets she had been given for a wedding gift. Another thing to keep for good. Useless.

They continued to drip and seep for so long Enid was in tears, certain they would never be good enough. For once in her life she wanted to accept only perfection, not the ongoing faults, blame and mistakes.

She left them in the sun, sitting beside them on a blanket for several hours to ensure the birds didn’t come and snatch her treasures away. The thumbs resembled tiny ham hocks. There was nothing about them that made her certain they would produce life.

That night she wrapped the thumbs in one of Tom’s unused handkerchief’s, one he had gotten from his mother and hidden away in the back of his underwear drawer. His private territory. She then slipped the small package into the doll. It slid in easily. More room left around the doll than she expected when seeing Tom’s thumbs still attached to his hands.

She washed her hands, wondering if she should sew the doll up or leave it to await instructions from the child. emptying the sink she mindlessly wiped at the discolored ring left behind from the bloodied water. She wondered what the child would be called? Would he look like her as well as Tom? Would he have Tom’s calm personality or her erratic temperament. She hoped he had more of Tom. Her several breakdowns over the years making her certain she was riddled with demons in her blood. Remnants from her deranged family.

Behind her a small voice cried, “It’s not enough!”

She spun with a sinking sense of dread. “I did what you asked.”

“It’s not enough, and where’s the blood?”

“I cleaned it, I refuse to allow blood to drip all over my floor.”

“I need the blood.”

His blue eyes flashed to red and Enid stepped back, once more automatically clutching her chest, worrying for her aged heart.

“You’re not real.”

“I won’t be if you don’t do things right. Thumbs and plums. I asked for thumbs and plums.”

“Plums?”

“His nuts, the seed. I need his seed.”

Enid sat down, disgusted even though it sounded logical. “I refuse. You can’t ask me to do that to him.”

“His dirty plums destroyed your life, they took your chance of children. They stole my life from you. All I’m trying to do is give that back to you. Please help me give you something. Help me. Set me free. I was supposed to be born and it never happened because he cheated on you and ruined your life. He took my life from me. Do this for me if not for you.”

That small pleading voice drilled at her brain. When she next looked up the child was a stunningly handsome young man.

“Who are you?” She gasped.

“It’s me, Mom. This is what I’ll look like when I’m older. If you give me that chance.”

“I can’t.” She wailed. “I’m not strong enough.”

“Cut them out. for both of us.”

Enid stared at him, in awe of his beauty, so like Tom as a young man.

“Will you stay with me?”

“Always. Always.”

“I’ll do it.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

***

Tom came awake. Something was wrong. He felt sick to his stomach. He relaxed back into the dirty old pillow. The cancer had taken hold. It was eating him from the inside out like a horror movie monster. On a frown he lifted his hands that felt hot and thick. They were wrapped up and something about the shape made his heart beat hard. His head was too fuzzy to put it altogether.

His bowels clenched in a familiar sickening way and Tom scrambled from his bed, frantically kicking aside bedding that should have been replaced years ago. Forgoing his slippers for speed Tom stumbled to the toilet, terrified at the amount of blood he found when he flushed.

Clutching his stomach with one bandaged hand he steadied himself with a shoulder to a floral wallpapered wall (he had always hated floral but Enid never gave him any choice in decorating all those years ago). He found his wife seated at the table with a doll clamped in her hands, rubbing it against her cheeks and whispering to it frantically.

“Enid,” He interrupted, “I don’t feel so good, in my stomach. I might need the hospital. And something’s wrong with my hands. Honey, are you listening?”

When she turned, Enid’s eyes had that flat, long stare that showed she was in the thrall of another one of her delusions. Tom wanted to punch her back to life. After all these years, of enduring her hostility and her mental instability, when he needed her for once she was off on another one of her fucking breakdowns.

“Not now, Enid. Snap out of it. I need you.” She bared her teeth at him and Tom’s heart sunk further. She had returned to that one indiscretion that had almost broken them. It was strange that she had forgiven him all those years ago, yet when her mind wandered this is where she inevitably returned too. His one stupid mistake. He would never be forgiven and he berated himself for ever having stayed in this painful loveless marriage.

Stumbling to the phone he lifted the receiver, thankful he had always controlled the money so bills were always paid on time.

“What are you doing, Tom?” Enid asked in that far-off voice that made Tom rage.

“I’m calling an ambulance. I’m sick, Enid, real sick.”

The call connected but Enid touched his shoulder and took the phone off him. Dropping it back into the cradle, she smiled, just like the Enid of old, the passionate, fiery woman he had fallen for all those years ago.

“I’ll sort it. A taxi will be faster. You go get dressed while I organize everything.”

Tom sagged a little with relief. “Thank you, Enid. I know you’re going through something right now but I need you. Just for a little while.”

“I need you too, Tom. More than ever before.”

His stomach clenched again and Tom had to fight black speckling unconsciousness that threatened to overwhelm him. Stumbling back to the room, Enid followed with water and pills.

“Painkillers.” She said, dropping them into his mouth.

The look in her eyes warned him but Tom was all out of fight. He swallowed the pills and lay back on the bed.

***

That night Enid gave Tom more pills, more than she thought wise but enough that he would feel nothing and not wake up. Whatever her decision.

He was hot to the touch and she noticed that above the bandage that covered his left hand a hot line of infection was creeping into the light. She wondered if she should have boiled the boning knife she used? It was too late now. She sat on his bed for a long time with a small pocket knife. One Tom had been given years ago by one of the many customers he had entertained in his shoe store. It seemed sharp enough to do the job.

The little voice came from her dressing table. “What are you waiting for?”

“I can’t do it.”

“We’ve been through this. You have to do it.”

“He’s sick, he needs a doctor.”

“He ruined our lives.”

“How do you know all this?”

“I’m not alive because of what he did.”

“I forgave him.”

“I didn’t.”

“I cheated too.” She gasped, never once having admitted this before. The secret that festered in the back of her head now tried to worm it’s way out of her mouth.

“It was too late by then. He infected you.”

“I can’t let him die!” She was crying now. Yelling with certainty.

“Then I will die.” The small boy turned away but Enid saw that flash in his eyes again in the mirror. That glint of something more hidden behind the façade she wanted to see. Could this all be her imagination? She had lost her mind several times before but those times she had never hallucinated. She reached out to touch the boy but he backed away.

“Not until I’m real. Please.” His pleading burrowed into Enid’s brain, twisting into her exhausted nervous system.

It was easier to just give in than to fight. “Okay.”

“Don’t forget the blood this time.” He said and scampered away.

“What’s your name?” Enid asked his back.

He turned back on a grin, “I’m Tom Junior.”

***

It had been a late night for Enid but the next morning she awoke with a feeling of dread and excitement.

“Today’s the day.” She told Tom who slept on, unaware of his new mutilations.

Noise in the kitchen had Enid sitting upright, hand to her chest. “He’s here, Tom. Our boy has finally come home.”

Tom surprised her into a small shriek then by saying, “He’s not ours, Enid. He’s trying to kill me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I need the hospital, Enid. Please…”

“For once, this isn’t all about you, Tom. It’s my time.”

She shuffled from the room to find Tom more drugs and to meet her son.

On the kitchen table the small doll had come to life. It moved and jerked with life. “Help me.” He cried.

Enid rushed to hold the small creature upright, it’s squirming sickening and unnatural. She had been expecting a real child, not an animated doll. Her disappointment sparked, that overwhelming feeling that had travelled the road of her life on her shoulder, reminding her of all the things she would never be, would never do.

“You’re still a doll.” She said.

The thing froze. “Not forever. I will change with your love and devotion. Like any other little boy.”

“But I don’t have much time left.”

“There is time.”

“Will you grow?”

“I will become more like you.”

“But will you grow?”

“Am I not good enough?”

“I want grandchildren like all those nosy women in the fancy units in town. I want to be rid of their pity and their dislike. I want to be one of them.

“You have what you wanted.” The knitted eyes sparked into life, not the blue of the child in Enid’s imagination but the fiery red she had glimpse. “I’m a fucking kid.”

“Don’t you profane at me!” She roared, insulted to her very core.

“Then be grateful I have worked so hard for you.”

“But I wanted a child, grandchildren. All you have given me is a midget and a sick husband. Two retards to attend to.”

“This is what you wanted.”

“I’ve changed my mind.”

“Too late.” The little creature snarled, small teeth breaking through the knitted wool. “You will attend me, crone, else your torment shall be ceaseless.”

“Torment? You think I don’t understand torment?”

With that she turned away and left the room. Malakai tried to move but the vessel his body was contained in was tight and slow. Until he became accustomed, until he learned to control a body once more, until this obscene shroud began to turn into a body proper, Malakai was trapped and at the hag’s mercy.

“Mother!” He called, “Please come back. I’m sorry I just…it’s been a shock finally being with you.”

Nothing.

It was sometime later that Malakai heard the sirens. He saw no one because Enid returned to the room only to stuff him into a drawer, unmoved by his pleading, her lips tight with anger, the wrinkles deep, her eyes heavy.

With little else to do Malakai waited, eventually falling asleep. Something he had not done for over 3000 years.

When he awoke it was bright and hot. He was under a spotlight of some kind and could hear a strange frantic clacking noise, could feel an incessant dull tugging at his legs. His head was held down with a cold iron, he couldn’t budge it.

He squinted past the bright light to see Enid frantically knitting, the wool coming from Malakai’s new body.

“What are you doing?”

“Getting rid of you before I go to jail to finish my days. You never warned me cutting Tom up like that would send me to jail.”

“How was I to…”

“He’s dead you know. Infections, cancer, blood loss, old age. Whatever it was I started it and I killed him. Least I can do is make sure you don’t do it to some other weak minded woman.”

“You can’t do this. I’m alive…”

“Not for long.”

“You don’t understand. I’m trapped in this material. I can’t be killed least it is completely consumed.”

Enid smiled. “Consumed, huh? How’s a fire for consuming?”

“My base is gold. You could never put me in a fire hot enough. Please, you must let me stay. Take me to this jail with you.”

“Like hell. I ain’t going to jail. I’m an old woman. I’m going to Hell to meet my maker and atone for all my sins. I’ll meet you there you evil little monster.”

“Fuck you, crone. Set me free. There is no way an old piece of shit like you can stop me now. I’ll find another way into the world. I’ve come this far, there’s no way back.”

Enid stopped knitting.

“I think I can slow you down at least.”

She picked the doll up, slipping out the back door of her horrible shack as the police turned into her road with screaming sirens. It was dark now but they would soon find her. That was not Enid’s focus. Her focus was getting this evil little puppet to the house three roads over.

She had to take the back way, down dark, dusty streets, past howling dogs and hissing cats. Eventually she came to the right place, clutching her chest as the huge dog threw itself at the fence then shoved his huge head through a hole it had dug.

Without further comment, hearing the police dogs on her trail Enid dropped the shrieking doll into the hole. The dog growled at it uncertainly for a moment then picked it up and swallowed it whole, the smell of blood permeating his mind.

“Enjoy that you evil little shit.” Enid said just as a police dog brayed at the other end of the road and a policewoman screamed at her to lie down on the ground.

***

Malakai waited inside his precious stone. All his earthly trappings were gone by the time he left the dog. He was picked up by a bird and dropped into a nest. The bird either died or didn’t find a mate as the nest was never used and it took long years for the twigs to rot enough for the stone to drop from the tree.

***

A young boy found the gold nugget, thinking it just a strange stone he put it in his pocket and took it home. His life would never be the same and the voice in his head pushed him to many things he would otherwise never dream of. He even swallowed it once, interested when it re-emerged unchanged.

Malakai was patient. He would wait for the right time. He had nothing but time.

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North by Due North – David M. Hoenig

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?

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Leviathan by Adam Sturch

 

I woke to shrill screeching, and my bed shaking like it was the end of the world.  Bright sunlight flooded in as the window shade flew up.  The digital clock read 2:37 AM.

The rumbling continued, and my heart slowed as I realized what it had to be.  I doubted I’d get any more sleep, so I got out of bed, dressed and geared up, and went above deck.  I found the Captain of the Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel Svalbard at the bow, looking over the railing to the water, and speaking on a handheld communicator.

“Aksel,” I said to him, interrupting.

He held up a hand, and continued speaking into the walkie, looking over the bow as he gestured vigorously.  The engines reversed and the ship backed, turned, and forced its way into the ice at a new angle.  It seemed to make better progress.

“Ja?” Captain Aksel Falk was in full uniform, and looked back over his shoulder at me as the ship shuddered as it cut into the frozen sea.

“Situation?”

“We are making progress north; we’ve hit pack ice, about five hundred kilometers north of Longyearbyen, a little over eight hundred from your destination.”

“Satellite data?”

“The North Pole is solid ice this time of the year.”  At my look, he shrugged.  “This year, anyway.  We will have to see how close we can get before you will take a helo from the ship to your goal.”

I closed my eyes and turned my face upwards.  I could feel the ‘midnight’ sun warm against my lids, turning them bright red, and the color triggered an awful memory which lay too near the surface.  In my mind’s eye, I saw Cerise’s torn body, her blood staining our bed the same color, and I shuddered.  My lover, my truest companion upon my mad quest to struggle on against the return of insane, alien horrors had been murdered despite all I could do.  Her last reading had brought me to this point, on my way to defeat the Windwalker before its cosmic conjunction arrived and gave it the power to manifest.

I opened my eyes to a sudden sense of dislocation.  Aksel was gone.  What…?

Cries from far behind me.  Calls.  Shouting.  And then I saw a streak of blood at the railing before me!  The ship lurched as it went into reverse, and as we pulled back from the ice I saw the Captain’s body lying on the pack ice, blood splashed around him.  I saw a greyish black rope around his chest, and my first thought was how out of place it seemed.  Then the thing squirmed and I realized it was a tentacle, come up through a crack in the ice and pulling my friend further away from the Svalbard.

I looked around as the ship lurched again, this time to a sudden stop.  A glance over the side showed more tentacles from the water on both sides of the bow, clutching at the Svalbard, weaving their way up to the decking.  They were far too long to belong to a shoggoth such as had attacked Cerise and me just over a month ago, but we were sailing roughly two and a half miles above the Amundsen Basin, the deepest point of the Arctic Ocean.

Home to polypoid deep ones and to their Master, the Great Old One, Othuum.

But it made no sense!  First, it would have to be aware of me, and I was only mortal, my successes to this point of minimal impact.  Pyrrhic, in fact, considering how I’d lost Cerise–my love, my Oracle only months before.

The ship shuddered again.  I heard a helicopter’s blades begin whirling from the flight deck.  An alien god’s minions versus a modern, top of the line war machine- I had no idea how it would turn out.  But the Captain might not be dead, and I still had to get to the North Pole to stop the Windwalker in order to prevent that catastrophe.

I backed up for a running start, and another disturbing thought crashed into my mind.  Had this Old One sent the shoggoth to slaughter my love?  Had it known of me?  Of us and our war against their kind, and my coming north?

There was no time to consider all this now, not if I was going to help the Captain.  I ran for the rail and vaulted it, leaving the deck of the Svalbard for the bloodstained pack ice where Aksel’s body lay.

My right foot plunged through the crumpled ice as I landed, and I sank in up to my thigh.  The knee-high arctic muck boots I wore didn’t stop the shock of the frigid water as it soaked through the pants and rushed in to freeze my foot.  I braced myself on the slippery surface to pull it back up, then felt something under the ice grab and wrench me back downwards.

I sank to my crotch as the ice crunched beneath me and couldn’t stop the involuntary shout at the pain and surprise.  The muscles in my upper leg began to spasm as I fought the pull, and then I heard a muffled *crump* behind me.  I turned in time to see a missile dart from one of the airborne helicopters into the water where it then exploded.  Blood and chunks of meat burst into the air, and the water boiled angrily around us.  Several tentacles, ravaging at the bow of the ship, suddenly recoiled into the water.  The pressure pulling me downwards also vanished, and I fell forward onto my stomach with the abrupt release.  I crawled along the pack ice and pulled my numbed leg out of the water.

I heard another helo take off, and then the deck guns of the Svalbard opened up into the water as well.  I began scrambling towards the Captain, and then a huge explosion slapped the air behind me, pushing me forward in a helpless slide.  A fireball rolled in my direction, hissing over the edge of the ice before dissipating far too close to me.  When it cleared, I saw one of the helicopters motionless, lying ninety degrees to the vertical and impaled on a scorched tentacle for just a moment before both dropped into the ocean and were gone.

I got to Aksel just as I saw him jerk suddenly upright.  Like the doomed helo, he, too, was transfixed on an oozy, grey tentacle.

Then his throat moved and a grotesque parody of his voice emerged:

Sorcerer

This was not so not good.  My gaze was frozen on the horror my friend and ally had become, even as the sounds of hyperwar went on behind me.

You have become emboldened by success and your dreams reek of your self-assurance I care not what victories you win over others but your fear and pain and despair taste far sweeter You will fall to chance or to error or to horror or to the elements or to time and your task will remain undone while I endure I offer this gift to feed your nightmares…

… and Aksel’s body fell to the ice before me as the tentacle whipped downward out of his body and into the sea.

I turned back to see the other ropy limps disengage from the Svalbard and also slide into the water.  The cutter had sustained significant damage to the upper superstructure and the railing, and fresh scoring along the steel hull was apparent.  One surviving helo flew tight circles around the ship, nose down like it was sniffing for signs of the disappeared enemy.  I waved to get the attention of its crew, and it lifted to level and flew my way.

The muscles of my leg still spasmed and cramped, but I forced myself upright, and then to Aksel to lift his corpse from the ice.  I turned back, unsteady on my feet, to see a harness lowered for us from the helicopter.  I strapped the Captain’s body tightly, and it was winched up as I waited my turn.  My teeth chattered and my leg ached, and I knew that neither of those things could be blamed completely on just the cold.

Back aboard the Svalbard, the medical clinic was rife with the sound of pain when I reached it.  As battered and chilled as I felt, I was in much better shape than several of the Norwegian crew seeking attention.  So instead of going in, I went past it to the bridge and walked in on a heated discussion which stopped when the officers saw me.

Since they looked both shaken and angry, I thought it best to speak first.  “What’s the current situation, gentlemen?”

The First Officer looked at the others before answering me in a sharp-toned, heavily-accented English.  “We have sustained casualties, lost a helicopter, and the ship is damaged.  What the hell was that thing which attacked us?”

I reached for calm before I spoke.  “Arctic sea life.”

“That is just so much shit.”  He looked at his fellow officers, then at me with disgust.  “We’ve never heard of anything like it, and we’re all career in the Coast Guard.”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, Commander Adamsen.  But Captain Falk did explain the purpose of this mission to you and your men?”

“Only in general terms, I am afraid.  That you have connections which made it possible to have our top-of-the-line Cutter available to take you, an American, to the North Pole, was clear enough.”

I didn’t like that past tense of ‘made’.  “Do I still have your support?”

“Sir!  We must turn back.  We have injured who need far more care than we can give them here, and we’ve lost a helo, expended ordnance…”

“No.  I’m afraid it’s an absolute priority that we proceed onward to the Pole.”

An angry conversation broke out in hurried Norwegian among the officers.  I waited.

The Commander silenced the others and turned back to me.  “Out of the question.  We have a duty to those who are wounded and to the families of those we’ve lost, and to report what has happened.”

I held up a hand.  “Who will assume command with Aksel dead?”

Everyone looked at the Commander expectantly.  He collected their gazes, exhaled deeply, then nodded in my direction.  “Me.”

“Then I need to speak with you alone,” I told him.

Adamsen spoke to his men, never breaking eye contact with me.  “Hold position here.  Try again to establish satellite communications with our base, and wait for me.”  He then led me off the bridge and into the Captain’s operational room.  Once inside, he closed the door behind us.  “Now, who the hell are you, and why are we here?  When Captain Falk was in charge, I followed his lead, but now I’m the one who needs to know.”

“My name isn’t important, only my mission.”

He folded his arms.  “And that is?”

“To stop bad things from happening.”

“You didn’t stop this ship being attacked!”

“On the scale of bad things to stop, this was nothing.”  I saw him about to retort angrily, and interrupted before he did, holding up a placating hand.  “I’m sorry, Commander; I didn’t mean that to sound as though I was trivializing your losses.  Please know that I’m deeply sorry about Captain Falk and your other casualties, but what we’re doing is necessary in the larger scheme of things.  Aksel understood that.”

He deflated a bit, mastering his anger, and it made me respect him more.  “Then make me understand, too.”

“Okay.  That thing we fought; it’s like nothing you ever saw before, right?”  He nodded.  “It’s too big, too powerful, and far too intelligent.  It’s one of a bunch of such…things, beings, what have you… that the governments of the world have either turned a blind eye towards because they’re a difficult truth to acknowledge, or which they ignore because they’ve already been subverted.”

Adamsen’s eyes bulged.  “Conspiracies?”

“Or deliberate ignorance.  Look, you saw that thing in action, saw what it did to the chopper you lost, and to this ship.  Did you think anything natural could have fought the Svalbard as it did?”

He sat suddenly, as though the strength had fled his legs.  “My God!  What was it?”

“Ancient.  Perhaps alien, or at least so I believe from the Book of Eibon.”

“What was this Eibon?”

“Not a what, but a who.  He fought against these beings twenty thousand or so years ago; figured out how to use their power against them, left a lot of instructions.  That’s what I do, Adamsen.”

“But, I don’t understand!  There was nothing twenty thousand…”

I stepped close and put my hand on his shoulder.  “I lost someone very dear to me recently.  She was slaughtered by a thing much like that-” the Commander blanched- “only smaller, sent to stop us from heading north on this mission.  We need to reach the pole on schedule, to prevent something even more powerful than what we fought today from manifesting fully.”

His face paled and his eyes were wide as he looked up at me.  “Worse than that?”

“Much.  And, Adamsen–the woman I lost… she was Aksel’s niece.  That’s why he knew, why he had agreed to help me.”  

His eyes took on an introspective, vulnerable look, and I guessed that he was thinking of his dead Captain at that moment.  But he was trained military, and his eyes soon focused back on me.  “Tell me everything,” he said in a more firm voice.

“I will, but we still need to go north, and we have to go now.”

I saw the decision in his face when he made it.  He stood, opened the door to the bridge and gave orders in Norwegian to the crew there.  I listened for arguments, but heard none.  Adamsen spoke again, more softly, and I heard the sound of the ship cutting into the pack ice began once again.  Finished, he turned back to me.  Unconsciously, he straightened his uniform before he spoke.  “I need to address the crew, see the wounded, explain why we cannot return to base.  I’ll have dinner brought here, and then you’ll explain everything–from the beginning, mind–so that I can understand what I have committed my men to as fully as Captain Falk did.”

I nodded.  He left.

Alone in the Captain’s operational room, I reflected on how I’d just recruited the next pawn in the war against the Ancients that I would never stop fighting.  Not if it cost the lives of everyone on this ship including mine, and especially not even after the shoggoth had murdered the broken girl who’d been my lover and Oracle.

The costs of my war against the Ancients had already been beyond my once-naive reckoning, and would only escalate from here.  But I also knew that the stakes were too high to give up striving against Them.  For if I failed to stop the Old Ones from achieving their return to full power during their cosmic conjunctions–as painstakingly laid out in Eibon’s text–all of humanity might end up paying a horrible price.

However painful, victory was necessary, so I’d go on regardless of the toll.

And for now that meant north.  

Due north.

END

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

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Inky Beast – M.J. Nicholls

The featured horror short story can also be read in the Best of the Tome

 

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Alan Barbrush, Chief Editor at Scalped Olives Publications, had always been accused of skulking around the office cynically. Yet today, his undying cynicism had reached such a huffy zenith, it was as though the weight of a lifetime’s misery had finally – after twenty years – crippled him.

For two decades his organisation had – cynically – waded through over 1,292,827 submissions, rejecting every single one and publishing material from its own editing staff. Having failed to break even the previous year – losing £10,000 on a self-help guide for brainless neurotics, Stop Whining & Just Do It – tensions were running high around the office.

The new secretary, Lorraine, fresh from her Creative Writing MA, was looking to screw her first novel, Elaine’s Chest, into print. Alan had hired her because her grades were outstanding and she had a bright, burgeoning clitoris. He knew that regardless of whether he hired her or not, she would ascend to a lucrative role in the industry, either horizontally or legitimately.

She tapped on his office door, a gentle but firm tip-tap, signifying she knew her place but would soon have people tip-tapping on her office. He swigged from his vial of absinthe and coughed up a pubic hairball – he had been snacking on the vulva of an underground poet-cum-hooker the previous night.

“Come in,” he said, muttering sotto voce, “my face.”

“Morning Alan. I trust your wrinkly old pecker found a home in the snatch of some rancid Chelsea tart over the weekend?” she asked. Alan found this remark rather forward for her third day – she must have been chatting with the co-editors.

“Yes, something like that. Do you have the final edit of Danny’s novel? What godawful putrescence masquerading as contemporary genius are we churning out now? More self-help to the terminally retarded?”

“You can’t say that word anymore, Alan. The correct term is mentally spastic,” Lorraine corrected.

Alan wanted to bash her face in with a tire iron and spit mercuric chloride over her breasts until her pretty pink skin singed into a bloody black painball. Yes, he was almost definitely in love.

“Lorraine, I want your honest opinion on this novel and Danny’s so-called talent. I mean, he’s simply another snotty sub-Burroughs arse-budgie churning out hackneyed schlock, isn’t he?” he asked. He reached for the pills on his desk and hurled two down his throat, not bothering to check the label.

“God, you’re an ancient fucker, aren’t you? Alan – the kids today lap this shit up like heroin pasties. Kids are always looking for the latest decadent poet-of-the-streets to come blow their tiny minds with his trashcan rhetoric,” she said, parting her fringe. For all its spirit-level straightness, it served merely to enhance her clone-like chic.

“I know, but this feels like a step too far. You can only serve the same roadhouse slop for so long before the clientele starts choking to death. Anyway, it’s too late now. Maybe we can slip it out in summer unnoticed. No one reads books in the summer.”

“Ready for the team brief? Your minions are awaiting your instruction,” she said, smirking – a smirk that masked a desire to drain the blood from his decrepit body and steal his chair.

As Alan left his office, he stopped to look at the painting on the wall. It had been commissioned by an acid-popping millionaire asshole who spent his days draining his spunk into a fish tank for his latest installation, Spermy Gills. He wanted to punch a hole in the wall.

“Are you all right, Alan?” Lorraine asked.

“Fine. Just fine,” Alan replied. He wasn’t fine. He was so far away from fine, fine might as well have been hidden in an underground catacomb somewhere halfway across the world.

As he looked around the office, every nuance of the place piqued him. The photocopier sat like a constipated rhino atop the hideous green carpet, snorting out endless pages of fuming hot poop – next month’s poorly received zeitgeist-throttling wank. The windows and their peek-a-boo blinds bugged the arse off him. His staff could surreptitiously gawp inside as he was downloading his X-rated entertainment for the evening.

His industrious worker-bees were buzzing around the office, sharing gossip, taking pops at new submissions, and trying to close the drawbridge between colleague, friend and lover. More vats of magma spurted inside him. He knew these people so well, so bloody well, he wanted to belt them around the brains with an iron dildo. His eyes turned to Mark.

Oh, Mark! Mark, writer of profound hodgepodge about single mothers and abused children. Reports from the frontline of life. So devilishly moving and clever. Alan knew Mark was trying to wheedle his way into the slacks of Rebecca, the copyeditor whose capacity for snide humour knew no bounds. She was a proponent of slick comedies about the endless push-and-pull of man-woman relationships, fuck-and-fight fests for self-loathing students.

As he looked around the office at the pitiful display of subhuman life, it struck Alan that he was descending into oblivion. This was the beginning of his much-anticipated end. His emotional scaffolding was about to collapse. When he shut his eyes, he imagined a dozen donkeys dumping their bowels around the office until the entire room was seven cubic feet of whiffy excreta. He yearned badly, so bloody badly, to rid himself of this nightmare, this endless burden of printing words, that he seriously started to think about a career in advertising.

“Right, listen up,” he began. “Danny’s novel is a petrochemical aberration. I want every copy printed to be pulped. Seriously, pulp the fucker.”

“Actually, I think you’ll find Tarantino’s already made Pulp Fiction,” Rebecca chipped in.

“Shut up, Rebecca,” he scolded, his left hand twitching. “Just shut up.”

This was it. The moment of his meltdown. It had come so suddenly. Ten minutes ago, he had been looking forward to searching the internet for uncopyrighted material he could plagiarise for his winter schedule. Now he was in the teeth of a full-blown nervous meltdown. His chin was wobbling. He wondered if everyone could see that – his freakish wobbling chin.

“Just… shut… up.”

A silence descended in which the entire staff turned to face Alan, staring through him in case he dared to show a crack in his veneer. A soft rattling noise emerged from the silence, ignored by all. Lorraine bit her knuckles beside the photocopier: she knew it was close. Her time on the throne. Alan could feel his jaw clamp shut, speechless at the thought of his own demise. He knew this day would come, but had prepared nothing to save himself.

The rattling sound intensified, followed by a susurrant hiss, like air being let out a tyre. The source of this interruption was the photocopier – a faithful old banger that had lived in numerous offices and had seen more arses than a Russian bordello. Lorraine was too captivated by Alan’s imminent blow-up to notice the noise: her time as chief cock-at-the-top was near. Soon she would be sipping chianti with Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie and killing the dreams of saps daily with the twitch of a finger.

Meanwhile, a small portal was opening up inside the paper-loading tray of the photocopier.

A blinking black eye, dripping with ink toner, was expanding through the plastic panels of the machine. As the silence widened, so did the eye, absorbing the plastic and paper as it coughed up thick balls of inky sputum onto the carpet. Lorraine was halted – she didn’t know whether to take Alan outside, pop him in a cab, then steal his desk, or let him dribble down himself before taking him outside, popping him in a cab, and stealing his desk.

“I have had… it up… to HERE with you self-interested shitmunchers!” Alan cried out. Several titters escaped the pros, while the newbies looked on dumbly, anticipating a very funny joke.

Lorraine’s eyes goggled in expectation, her pupils expanding in tandem with the squelchy orb of the photocopier, which made an audible gargling sound at her side. The portal had expanded to cover the entire left half of the machine, coughing Malteasers of ink at Lorraine’s feet. A few hacks looked over to see what the problem was, but Alan’s meltdown was much more exciting than office equipment, so they returned to the show.

“You can take this company and… and… and shove it up your arses! All you want is to get your rotten books into print, so you can sip chianti with bloody Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie. I’ve… had… enough!”

The photocopier was buckling now, its insides churning with thick grogs of ink. It kicked and struggled like a horse gone mad; its engorged panels aspurt with hot liquid menace.

“Would someone shut that bloody photocopier up!” Alan shouted. Lorraine finally took her eyes off Alan to acknowledge at the puddle of ink at her feet. As she stepped onto dry carpet to protect her expensive shoes, the photocopier spasmed nearer, spraying a hot jet of toner across her legs. She leapt back in shock, but the inky beast powered up and lunged after her, backing her against the wall.

“What the fuck? Would someone stop this thing?”

The portal opened fully into a wide, bottomless void. A stream of ink blasted her legs, knocking her to the ground. She shrieked and slithered as the portal took hold of her body, sucking in her legs, reversing the flow of ink so it ran backwards then forwards. The flow was relentless, encasing her in a bubbling torrent of viscous ooze, slurping in her hips amid menacing mechanical gargles, then her torso, and – at last – her head.

After devouring Lorraine, the photocopier inched back into its regular spot, turning its ink shooters off. The office froze in hopeless stagnancy. What are you supposed to do when your colleague is devoured by the photocopier in the middle of your boss’s mental breakdown? Call out the technician? Upon shedding their bowels, no one had the slightest idea how to react.

A moment later, the machine rocked left and right, flashing its buttons in a victorious green swirl. The beeping stopped. Calm beckoned. From the silence came a cavernous munching sound. Then more silence. Then the machine shook, spitting out the inky black skeleton of Lorraine in a mighty belch, her ribcage shooting across the room towards the slush pile. The room erupted in horror. Distorted wails, horrified screams, and despairing murmurs came from the staff as the lights went out, the blinds streamed shut, and the doors self-closed.

Lockdown.

Alan stood still, oblivious to everything – a bystander in his hijacked nightmare. Copyeditors leapt around the room as the office equipment mobilised in a tyrannous revolt against their masters. 30cm rulers pinged from the desks in unison, pinning Dennis – the newbie working on a graphic novel retelling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff – against the toilet door.

A strategy of desks broke loose from the creative throng, churning monitors and keyboards around the room, cornering Simon beside the file cabinets. Simon had no time to wonder, as the drawers opened and shut against his head, pummelling him into submission, whether his poetry book 9 Dreams would make the 2011 winter catalogue. He certainly didn’t have to think about the 2012 catalogue as the desks nailed him to the wall, severing his legs from his torso. The desks clanged and clattered in a ritual triumph dance, soaking their scratched pinewood surfaces in his blood.

Temp #2, Vincent, with his four weeks experience editing novels from Rambunctious Slime Press, found himself at the mercy of the paper shredder, which chased him around the room until it sank its teeth into his blazer. Like the photocopier, it expanded its depths to accommodate human prey, showcasing an impressive set of gnashing razors and slicers. It nibbled on Vincent’s scrawny legs, widening its jaws, as he began to feel a deep regret at having left his old job so quickly.

Arising from the dim corner of the room was the leaning tower of rejected manuscripts. Swirling through the air, this enormous pile of unloved writing no one had bothered to read sped into a small interoffice twister. It set about the editor-in-chief Ronald Steegers. Ronald, caught in the grip of this 1000MPH vice, was swirl-sliced by a record number of papercuts. The blood drained from the forty million lesiures in his skin, sluicing out cartoon-like as his bones were dumped in a bundle by the dustbin.

Rebecca, agog at the mayhem, was oblivious to the guillotine making its way up to the ceiling. It positioned itself at a diagonal distance from her, swung down in a parabola, lobbed off her head, then flopped back into its old spot by the disused monitors. Nice and clean.

Hot coffee scooshed from the percolator, scolding unfortunate Frank. He didn’t even work in the office – he only came down to drop hints that his novel Custard in Outer Mongolia was looking for a publisher (wink wink). Still, as the scalding coffee melted his flesh into mulch, and an impressive silver-red froth foamed upon his bones, he had to admit to himself – it wasn’t very good anyway.

Danny hid beneath a desk, but a band of chattering staplers advanced upon him, staples shooting from their jaws and spiking his neck, making a perfect suture around his windpipe. Hole punches drained the blood from his skin, easing him into the big sleep.

It was almost over. Receptionists banging on the exit door were clobbered and strangled by flying keyboards. Others were taken out by CD trays ejecting at frightening speeds, overhead fans snapping from their cables, being spun to death on swivel chairs, fire extinguishers shooting people out the sixth floor window, and pens boring holes into hearts and squirting toxic acid in there for a laugh. The Venetian blinds wounded no one.

Mark – the last man alive – cowered as the photocopier cornered him three feet away from Alan.
“You did this, didn’t you? You sick bastard, you did this!” he said. The portal opened and the inky deluge came flooding out once more, sucking in the sub-Tarantino hack. Alan didn’t emote.

With the whole office massacred, the equipment returned to its previous positions. Alan bit his lips.

“Right, well. That’s that, then. Back to work,” he said.

And it was. Back to work, indeed.

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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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Mad Love – Blair Frison

 

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Enhance your coffee

 

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Plot Twist by Adam Sturch

 

He lay in wait like a spider.  Thick, clinging darkness enveloped him as he listened for the sound of her car pulling in the driveway.  He hadn’t moved from the couch in hours.  He was patient, impossibly patient.  He knew patience was key.  He couldn’t rush these things.  Everything had to be planned down to the smallest detail, or he’d end up in a cell for the rest of his life, a shame and an outcast to the few people he still loved.  Nothing but a bad memory.  A nasty scar.

He banished those thoughts and prepared for the task at hand. She was due home any minute. He caressed the hammer which lay beside him and this comforted him.  He thought of broken teeth and exposed brain matter.  Wild, animal eyes and anguished screams.  He could barely contain himself.

He heard a car coming down the street and he knew it was her.  The headlights momentarily flooded the room as the car pulled in the driveway. The sound of gravel being crunched under the tires made him tremble in anticipation.  A door slammed shut.  Then another.  He heard voices, drunken laughter.

She brought a man home.

His breathing became laboured and he felt dizzy.  He clutched the hammer tightly.  The key was fitted into the lock and the door opened.  They stumbled towards the bedroom without turning on the lights.  They didn’t see him as they hurried past, tearing at each other’s clothes.  He rose from the couch as they entered the bedroom, still gripping the hammer tightly.

Rage consumed him as he slowly neared.  He pictured them sweating and groping and fucking, her moans causing him to see red.

He finally entered the bedroom.  His eyes were already adjusted to the darkness and he saw the man was on top thrusting wildly, the woman screaming in pleasure.  Then she saw him.

The screams changed from pleasure to terror as she frantically tried to push the man off her.  The man turned around and, before he knew what was happening, the hammer came down in his face with a loud crack.  Blood spattered the walls and the ceiling and the screaming woman.

The man collapsed in a heap on the bed. The woman’s screams turned to crazed laughter.  She jumped up and rushed towards the man with the hammer, leaping into his arms and kissing him passionately, telling him how much she loved him, how much she enjoyed helping him kill.  

He dropped the hammer, then put her down gently.  He turned the light on so they could revel in the sight of their cunning crime.  They took in all the bloody details, then smiled at each other for several long seconds before he took a small box from his pocket and got down on one knee..

 

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

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[NSFW] Fly Blown – Kenneth Whitfield

 

She has an earthy smell about her. Musky. I chalk it up to her being on the dance floor so much. Hot and sweaty, honky tonking, showing off her ample assets in a tight half-shirt with even tighter Daisy Duke cutoffs. She’s pretty, long dark hair, heavily made up brown eyes, full pouty lips and a seductive smile. Infectious laugh. But coming off a bit desperate.

I wave away a fly buzzing at my head as I watch her.

Maybe she’s horny. Maybe she’s trying to make someone jealous. Or maybe she’s just drunk. Probably a combination of all three. I watch as she shakes it all alone on the dance floor, appreciative men cheering her on; their girlfriends giving her the stink eye.

The annoying fly lands on my table. He rubs his little hands together happily, and then starts lapping at the ring left from my mug. I smile and tip my beer to him as I go back to gazing at her.

It’s early, the bar not too crowded yet. Whenever a man approaches her she smiles and shakes her head side to side, no no, not missing a beat. She comes back to my table between dances, drinking my Jack and beer chaser, leaning in closer and closer, whisper/yelling in my ear over the jukebox. Her breath a bit rank, telling me how she just loves to dance and wishes I’d join her. Rubbing her bare underboobs against my arm.

Nice.

The fly drinking from the beer ring on the table has been joined by some friends. They scatter when she visits, but settle quickly when she hits the dance floor again, not willing to give up the free beer. I chuckle, ordering another.

I’m flattered by her attention, her sour breath and body odor accepted. But I’ve seen this scenario before. I believe she’s just looking to start something, to prove something. I don’t know why she has latched onto me, maybe because I’m quiet and not drooling all over her like the other guys. Maybe because I’m alone. Most likely because she’s seen the wad of cash I’ve been peeling bills off when the waitress brings me a drink. (Today was payday.) I really don’t know, but I do think I know where this is probably heading.

The flies are having their own little party on my table, about five of them now lapping at the spilled beer, lined up side by side jostling each other. Belly up to the bar boys.

As the night grows on and the bar gets more crowded, she gets rowdier. As do the cheering men. I guess it won’t be long before that belly revealing shirt is above her boobs, and her shorts will have crept up to become denim thongs.

I give it serious consideration, and then decide I’m just not up to playing any games tonight. I chuckle again, reminded of that Skynyrd song Gimme Three Steps. One lyric in particular from the live version: “Lord I ain’t going to fighting over this cunt.” I throw a twenty on the table to finish covering my, (well, mostly her), tab, scattering the flies. I smile and nod at her shaking on the dance floor as I head out the back door.

She catches up with me just as I am opening my truck door. Tugs on my arm gently and asks if I can take her home. I turn and look. She cocks her head and smiles broadly. I look over her shoulder and don’t see anybody coming out the door after her. Looks like she’s slipped away and is serious about spending time with me. No games. I stand aside and wave her in, her aroma wafting over me as she climbs in.

She slides over just enough to let me behind the steering wheel. Her left thigh is pressed up against my right. She laughs and jokes and uses her right hand to gesture all about as she talks. Her left hand she keeps on my leg, rubbing gently. Her smell is stronger in the confines of the truck. It’s a warm evening, so I discreetly roll down my window.

She likes to lean in close as she talks. Her breath is cigarettes and beer and something a little riper. A rotten sweetness, like fruit going bad.

She points to a button I have pinned to the passenger sun visor. It has a picture of a grinning possum hanging by its tail from a branch and says “Eat More Possum”. She laughs, saying at first glance she thought it said “Eat More Pussy”. I smile. That’s the joke, I say.

She rubs my leg and squirms her hips a bit, smiling back at me.

She lives in a trailer park about a mile from the bar. Tells me she walks back and forth all the time. (I bet she gets rides back more often than not.) The park is pretty big and looks like it’s been around a while. Lots of old trailers lined up almost on top of each other, most with their paint fading and peeling. I see many cars in tiny yards in various stages of decomposition – hoods up, engines out, tires missing. Trash cans overflow in driveways. Indoor furniture – easy chairs, tables and sofas – is outdoors on porches and in yards.

Her trailer is gray with pink trim. I guess it was black with red trim at one time. There’s a sagging little wooden five foot square porch at the front door with rusted steel stairs leading up to it. A bare, fly specked 100 watt bulb is screwed into a grimy porcelain light socket base attached to the porch ceiling. A couple of sticky brown fly strips are hanging down, twisting in the warm breeze, each covered with dozens of tiny black bodies.

She heads up on the porch, digging the key out from the back pocket of her painted on shorts. I hang back, telling her I need to pay the water bill. She smiles playfully as she opens the door, telling me to let her know if I need any help. I smile back, saying yeah, the doctor told me not to be lifting anything heavy. I hear her laughing as I turn and take a couple of steps back through her over-flowing trash cans.

I have just gotten a good stream going when the breeze shifts and a smell makes me gag and almost piss on myself. A smell of rotted meat and decay. I finish quick, tucking myself back in. Morbid curiosity makes me look. I poke around the split open black trash bags with the toe of my boot. I flip one shredded bag over, and lying under it is a possum. Its dull gray eyes look up at me, lips pulled back in a grin showing sharp little teeth. It’s deflated; gray fur all stiff and matted. There’s a clouted hole in its side and a mass of flies are swarming over it. I wave my boot over them and they buzz away, revealing a writhing mass of maggots feeding inside the possum. The flies settle quickly back down, refusing to abandon their offspring and free lunch. I hold my breath and back away, heading up to the porch. She’s holding the door open, and I dodge the fly strips as I go inside.

After the smell outside, the smell inside is very faint.

She points at my crotch saying I left the barn door open, and then goes to make us a couple drinks. I pull my zipper up, watching her root around in the piles of dirty dishes, disturbing a few flies, finally finding two red Solo cups. She gets a bottle of Jack from on top of the refrigerator and pours us both good stiff ones, adding a splash of hot flat coke from an almost empty liter bottle to each. No ice.

She hands me mine, and we both take deep drinks, looking at each other. I feel the warm flush coming over me as the liquor goes down. She rises to her tiptoes and kisses me, hard. Smashing our lips, pushing her tongue past my teeth, licking and then sucking. She pulls back, grins, motions with her head for me to follow. She heads down the little hallway to what I am sure is her bedroom.

I follow, watching her butt shaking, barely noticing the smell, taking another drink to wash away her aftertaste.

In her bedroom, the single window is open, the warm breeze bellowing threadbare curtains. The screen in the window is full of holes, and I see several flies crawling through. More are flitting about. Her bedroom is about as clean as her kitchen, and we add our clothes and underwear to the piles we step over getting to her unmade bed.

Lying next to her, she giggles throatily, taking me in her hand. I watch the curve of her breasts as I reach between her legs, gently stroking. My fingers touch large fleshy lips, swollen with excitement. As I reach between them, the incredible moistness sucks them in, four fingers disappearing up to the second knuckle. She moans, arching her back.

This sure ain’t her first rodeo.

When I pull my fingers out, I am struck by the smell. It’s cliché, but there is a heavy fish odor. She bucks, pulling me on top of her. The hand I had between her thighs is now by her head and I smell the funk on my fingers even stronger. She sucks feverishly on my neck, distracting me. And before I can think any more about the odor she grabs my butt with both hands and I am sliding inside of her. I think of Daisy Duke wearing cutoffs with black stockings and as I empty into her, I feel a burning sensation. I’ve experienced similar when ladies used spermicide. It’d get backed up and in some kind of backwash burn like hell. I didn’t see her slide any spermicide in, but I know ladies can be discreet about that. (Though she didn’t strike me as the discreet type.) I grit my teeth and roll off her, the sensation slowly fading.

She smokes a cigarette as I finish my Jack Daniels. After that, we don’t exactly snuggle, she just lays close alongside of me. Presently she falls asleep, and not long afterward I do too.

I awake needing to pee again and swatting at a couple of flies buzzing around my head. The room is ripe with the smell of sour sex. Her back is toward me now, her breathing slow and steady. Her firm buttocks outlined with bikini tan lies. I ease out of the bed, tip toe around dirty clothes disturbing more flies, and ease the bathroom door closed behind me.

Flipping on the light switch, there’s a hum and then one dirty fluorescent tube above the mirror flickers and provides dim light. The dingy full moon and yellowish area light showing through the little open window provide a bit more illumination. I look at myself in the mirror, raising my chin, shaking my head at the giant red hickey on my neck. Waving away more flies I step over to the toilet and relieve myself. The burning sensation is still present, though not as bad. And there is a prickling sensation, an itch all throughout my crotch. Both inside and out. Everything looks red and irritated and I wonder if she gave me a dose of the crabs. Never had them before so not sure what the symptoms are or how long they take to show. I make a mental note to see a doctor. After finishing, I open cabinets looking for a bath cloth to wash off with. Can’t find any and I don’t want to touch the used ones mixed in with dirty underwear in the overflowing hamper. Everything in there is damp and stained. I twist the hot faucet meaning to rinse using my hands, but the foul smelling brown water trickling out changes my mind. I’ll take a hot shower and scrub good when I get home.

Back in the bedroom, I ease about finding my clothes. I dress silently, watching her sleep. She is very pretty. Lying naked on her side in the ruffled bed, no covers, hair mussed, breathing so heavy it’s almost a snore. I smile, the itching in my groin and the sour smell now seem fair trade for having shared that body. I walk over to wake her and tell her good bye. We both knew what this was so there’s no reason to sneak away in the night. I’m not that much of a dick.

As I lean over the bed and reach for her shoulder, she rolls over. I back up as she moans. She raises both her arms over her head and smacks her lips sensually. I smile broader, looking at her sleeping, happy face. Her big breasts, flat nipples quivering with each breath. Her taut stomach with a belly button piercing, a diamond, (probably cubic zirconium), rising and falling slowly. Her slick pubic hair quivering.

She pulls one leg up at an angle, exposing herself. It looks like a butterflied, abused veal cutlet. A trickle of thin, white fluid leaks out from between those enlarged bruised lips. A couple of flies land in her curly hairs and walk about in the stickiness. Another couple land and work their way toward the pooling white wetness. The smell of fish and foul meat is strong. More flies land in her stiff and matted fur.

I look closer and see a small white worm emerge from inside her and fall into the milky fluid. Then another. And another. They coagulate; form a small knot, squirming over each other. More flies land and begin to cover her pubes as the maggots continue to cascade from within her. Goose bumps pop up on her pelvic region, spread up towards her stomach, appearing and disappearing as the flesh undulates with the roiling masses beneath. More and more flies land on her, appearing as a single black mass. She moans and shifts position slightly. The flies rise, but settle back down quickly, unwilling to abandon their meal and offspring. The smell of offal rises in the thick heavy air, causing me to retch silently.

I back away from her, swallowing my gag reflex. Ease my way out of the bedroom, shooing flies with one hand, pulling and tugging and scratching at my groin with the other. I stumble through the living room, snatching the front door open. Staggering across the porch, I become entangled in the fly strips, fighting their stickiness, yanking them from my face and head along with skin and scalp. I fall down the steps and hit the driveway hard, ripping my jeans, skinning both knees and the palms of my hands on the sharp gravel. Getting to my feet I run to my truck almost yanking the door off its hinges.

The truck starts and I back out of her little driveway, tires spinning as I put it in drive while still rolling backwards. Leaving the trailer park entrance with dust and gravel spraying behind me. Tires squealing I hit the pavement of the main road, rear end fish tailing as I floor it. By the time I pass the bar I am doing better than ninety.

All the while scratching and tugging at my burning groin with one hand while flies buzz around.

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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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HORRGASM PRE-ORDERS

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Featuring six titillating tales, this anthology delivers a chilling blend of provocative horror. THE WOMAN IN RED opens with a lusting and blood thirsty couple hell bent to outshine Jack the Ripper. Take a bizarre road trip delivering talking heads with a hot blonde with a twisted past in HEAD TRIP. DOSE goes through hookers and drugs faster than Charlie Sheen, explores the S&M scene, while delivering a haunting climax. SEX TOY plays with an odd, foreign and blasphemous sex curio that takes a couple’s love life to a whole new level. TOUCH ME, I’M SICK warns of a grave consequence no lustful adulterer would ever want to pay. Lastly, THE VAMPIRE NYMPH wraps up the anthology with sizzling vampire sex served with a cold dish of irony.

HORRGASM is due to release August 15th, 2016. PRE-ORDER your copy today.

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The HORRGASM is Coming…

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Come mid-August, you better have a change of pants ready, because Deadman’s Tome: HORRGASM fucking delivers!

Meantime, check out Deadman’s Tome Book of Horrors!

Ten solid, chilling tales of horrid and morbid things that will haunt you during daylight, and torment you during the darkest hours of the night!

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Book of Horrors Vol I

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Deadman’s Tome: Book of Horrors features ten solid, terrifying horror shorts designed to instill absolute terror. The anthology opens with a dark, brooding story of occult practices and an odd disappearance, then leads into a gritty reminder that a closet isn’t a good place to store dead bodies. Haunted houses cursed with ghost children, demonic visits, mutated bed bugs with a fascination for pink flesh, and exploration into the unknown make for a chilling read.

Buy the anthology and support the Tome and support the authors!

Buy on Amazon