Reprints. Many magazine and anthologies avoid these like a five dollar hooker with a nasty cough. But what exactly is a reprint, and do publishers even check?
First off, a reprint is any story that has been previously printed elsewhere. In lay man’s terms that means it’s secondhand. In perverts terms that means it ain’t a virgin. Publishers want that virgin piece, that never before read, never before printed work because that’s how they make their money. They want something that others haven’t used before, something fresh.
Now, Deadman’s Tome has been rather cool about reprints. In the digital age, while the same story might be published there, it could also be published here and meet a new audience, or even bring in a bit of crossover. But, some publishers don’t share that approach.
Yet, some times a reprint is submitted as fresh, original content, like a donut shop selling day old glaze as made same day fresh. Criminal, right?
There are authors out there, some I know, some I don’t know very well, and some you know better than me that reuse the same old story over and over again without a care. It’s the con, fraud mentality. It’s the psychology that breaks down what exactly is a reprint and what if a new title is placed on it, what if names are changed, or what if the characters have a gender swap? Is that still a reprint? Is that a brand new story? Does that count? While I’ll entertain the semantic game for a while, it boils down to no. A hard fucking no.
How could it possibly yes? Imagine if Stephen King just changed the names in IT and sold it to a publisher as original? What If Anne Rice gave every one in Interview with the Vampire gender reassignment surgery and submitted it to a rival publisher? What if she did so under a different name? No. It would be bullshit and any publisher that looks for it would throw her out like a damn fraud.
Well, guess what? There are frauds among us. I normally don’t screen for reprints in a rigorous way, or in anyway at all for that matter, but for publishers that do, listen up. There are authors circulating around that are passing around sloppy seconds, thirds, and fourths as brand new never before used pieces. Be careful.
Some authors might read this and feel like I’m just pissing in their Lucky Charms. Well, I’m not. Unless you meet this criteria. Which, if you do, then you deserve it. It’s lying. It’s dishonest, and adds unnecessary clutter in an already very competitive market.
The road curved through the swamp. Headlights preceded the car as it careened over the asphalt, faster than the signs would allow it.
“Slow down, John, you’re going too fast!”
“We have to get to my parents’ house tonight, Sue. We can’t afford a hotel room.”
“We won’t make it if you slide off the road and into a ditch!”
His voice rose, “Jesus Christ, will you calm down? You’re just like your mom, you know.”
Sue fell silent, her desire for safe travel losing the battle with her desire to distance herself from her mother. In her mind, the face of the angry woman who demanded full obedience loomed the way that it did when she was five, terrifying her until she ran to the only safety available, her uncle, Pete.
John had proposed to her three weeks ago. Sue thought it was weird when he wanted to go to a baseball game. Suddenly, she found herself broadcast on the KissCam, with a ring in her face. Stunned, all she could say was “yes,” unenthusiastically.
Sue looked at him, smug satisfaction shining out of him. Not for the first time, Sue thought about throwing the ring in his face. The voice of her mother calling her out for being impetuous and ungrateful kept her from acting in anger, so she kept her opinions about his reckless driving habits to herself.
Thus, the car continued careening down a winding, foggy road, and neither of them saw the plank of wood with the protruding nails until the front tire had driven over it. The spikes penetrated the inner tube, and the sudden change in balance made John swerve violently.
“Shit!” he shouted as the car hydroplaned. Sue held her breath, eyes wide, as they spun around and the car fell into the ditch onto its side.
The world came back into focus slowly. John’s voice came through her delirium.
“Sue? Sue, are you okay?”
“Huh?” she said, shaken. “Y-yeah, I’m okay. Wh…are you okay?”
He touched his forehead. “I think so.” He took his hand away. Blood shone dark red on his hand. “Oh, hell. We have to get out of here.”
He tried his door, but it wouldn’t budge. The frame must have bent, keeping it from opening. Sue’s window had broken over the flooded ditch.
“Okay Sue, listen to me,” John began. “You have to crawl out the window and into the water.”
“I-I can’t! There’s glass-”
“Shut up and listen! There is only one way out of here, and it’s out that window. You have to go first.”
She looked at the window where the safety glass had shattered. The swampy water sat, stagnant and dark like pitch. She hesitated. The abysmal water seemed endless and full of unknown terrors.
His shout brought her back, and she tugged at her seat belt. Her fingers fumbled the latch open with a click. Sue took a deep breath and crawled into the murky water that lay beneath her. John followed with a whimper, which he was relieved that she hadn’t heard.
They stood by the road, clothes dripping. Her arm bore a few scratches, but other than that, Sue wasn’t hurt. Aside from the cut on his forehead, John wasn’t bleeding. No serious damage could be seen, although Sue worried about the bump on John’s head.
“Let’s see if we can get the trunk open. The first aid kit should be in there.”
John moved to the trunk, and with some difficulty, managed to open it. The kit had stayed together, and they patched their woundss. John grabbed the tool kit and took out a flashlight, and a folding knife with a four-inch blade.
John took out his phone, but there was no signal. Sue’s phone wouldn’t come on. “Damn, that’s weird. The compass keeps spinning around.” He put the phone back into his pocket.
Sue shivered. “How cold is it supposed to get tonight?”
“Low thirties. Let’s change into something dry.”
They got their suitcases out of the trunk. Sue looked up and down the road before disrobing. John gave a snort of derision at her modesty. He stripped completely nude, toweled off, then dressed. He handed her the towel, smirking at how Sue danced in the cold to keep warm.
Teeth chattering, Sue toweled off quickly, and put on fresh clothes. She looked down the road.
“Any idea how far it is through the swamp?” she asked.
He shrugged. “Hard to say. I think we had another hour’s drive before anything resembling civilization.”
“How far back was the last house?”
“At least an hour.”
“So what do we do?” Panic crept into Sue’s voice.
“Someone’s bound to drive by sooner or later. Let’s go ahead and start walking up the road and we’ll stop the first car we see.”
“What if no one drives through?”
John fought the irritation rising in him. “Then we walk until we find a store or something. Stop whining.”
They set out down the road, the flashlight bobbing along the path. Sue wrapped her arms around herself. Even with dry clothes, the wind whipped through them. John tried to look unaffected by the cold, but he clenched his teeth to prevent them from chattering. His hand gripped the knife in his pocket. He stroked the spine of the blade with his thumb, the hard steel comforting him.
An hour later, they hadn’t seen a single car, nor had they seen a single building.
“Maybe we should go back to that turn-off and see if there is anything down there,” Sue suggested.
“It’s at least twenty minutes back, and I don’t want to leave the main road. Something will turn up soon.”
“But we don’t know that! You wanted to try the short-cut that you found on the GPS. Neither of us have ever been here before.”
“For Christ’s sake, Sue,” he rubbed his head. “I can’t take this. I have a headache, and your pissing and moaning isn’t helping!”
Sue resumed her silence, and they trudged on. John’s head got worse. The steps he took were more uneven as they went on.
“Sweetie, we should probably stop, you aren’t looking so good.”
“I’ll be fine without your constant nagging. I just need some food, maybe a beer. Look!”
He shouted and pointed the flashlight into the swamp. There, over the water, was a light, bouncing over the ground. It looked like lantern.
“Come on, let’s go!”
“John, you must be crazy!”
“Crazy about getting out of this stupid swamp and getting some help, yeah.”
“He could be a serial killer!”
“Relax, I can handle it,” he patted the pocket where the knife was. “Come on!”
Without waiting for her, he shined the flashlight on the ground and found a dry patch. Sue followed him as he slowly picked his way through the brush.
“John, we’re never going to get through this.”
“This is the first sign of life that we have seen. They must see us because they’re signaling to us. Come on.”
They pressed on as best they could. Sue’s jeans got snagged on brambles that tore through to her skin, like the forest was reaching out fingers to snare her. The further they went in, the more that she felt like they would never get out.
John grunted as his toe hit a root. “Jeez, he keeps moving back with that light. I guess he’s leading us to his house.”
“Who could possibly live out here? There’s no road!”
“There’s probably a back road that connects to a highway.”
Slow as they were moving, they still made progress, but the light stayed ahead. The brush continued to harass them, as though it was warning them back. Sue couldn’t tell how far they had gone, or for how long.
He increased his speed, and so did the lantern. Sue tried desperately to keep up. His breath came in heavier drags. Sue was falling behind him, but could still see his flashlight bouncing and the lantern bobbing.
“John, wait!” She couldn’t tell if he ignored her or couldn’t hear her, but didn’t even break his stride.
Suddenly, Sue crashed into John. He had stopped in a clearing and was looking around. He whipped around and yelped, as though he hadn’t known she was following him. His sudden jolt knocked her over, and he shined the flashlight into her face while she was on the ground.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?”
“You just stopped! What happened? Where are they?”
“I…don’t know. I must have lost him when you bumped into me. Why didn’t you look where you were going, stupid?”
“I can’t see anything! You have the flashlight and you nearly left me behind. I’m sorry,” she said in a hurt voice.
The light they had followed was gone. The stars and a full moon made the clearing visible. There was no sign that anyone had been there. John shined his light on the ground. No footprints. The clearing turned into a meadow with clusters of trees.
Sue shivered. “What do we do now?”
“We go back, what the hell else do we do?”
“John, we barely made it through there once, and we have no way to tell which way we came.”
He pointed back into the woods. “We walked straight the whole way, it was only about ten minutes. We walk back, get on the road and keep going. Come on, before it really gets cold.”
Sue followed him into the brush. She wondered why she accepted his proposal, then she remembered all the people cheering at the Kisscam. You can’t say no in front of thousands of people. She was positive that had been his plan all along.
Her ears perked at the sound of a soft voice nearby. She tried to listen to it over the cracking of debris under their feet. Sue couldn’t be sure, but it sounded like her mother.
The quiet is getting to me, she thought. It’s just the wind.
“Never listened to me either.”
She spun around, that time the voice was clear. Almost as if it was in her ear.
“Is someone there?” she said, her voice rasping out.
“He’s the best thing that ever happened to you.”
Her hands clamped over her ears. The voice sounded like it was still beside her.
“You’d just throw it away, because you can’t shape up for him. That’s how you’ve always been. Stubborn. Useless.”
“Stop it!” she cried.
“What the hell are you yelling about?”
She looked at John, who was standing with the flashlight pointed at her. He sounded exasperated.
“You didn’t hear that? That voice?”
“There’s no fucking voice, Sue, or I would ask it how to get out of this fucking swamp! I wish that there was a voice, but the only voice out here is your pathetic whimpering!”
She tried to cover up the sob that slipped out of her mouth.
John’s tone softened, barely. “Come on. We’ll make it back.” He walked off without offering her a hand.
John went ahead, grumbling to himself. “Oughta just leave her here. Stupid bitch is useless.”
“You were the idiot driving.”
He spun around and pointed the flashlight at Sue. “What the hell did you say?”
She looked at him wide-eyed. “What? Nothing.”
“That’s just cute. Get cheeky, since you can’t be any fucking help.”
“John, I didn’t say anything! What did you hear?”
She looked genuinely shocked at his reaction, which did nothing to make him feel better. “Nothing, just shut up and come on.”
They continued, and Sue found the idea of being on a man-made path comforting. Her heart lightened, and she moved faster, keeping up with John.
They were deposited into a clearing. John’s curse echoed off the trees as Sue looked around.
“This is the same clearing that we were in a moment ago!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, it can’t be.”
“It is, look!”
His eyes followed where she pointed. Already, in the mud, were their tracks from when they had arrived before.
“This isn’t happening. We went back!”
Sue could see his eyes in the moonlight, and his look frightened her. He was repeating, “we went back,” softly to himself. She was afraid to say anything, just watched him as he looked around. Suddenly, she realized that night air had gone eerily silent the moment they left the road.
“John, the crickets are gone.”
“Oh, big fucking deal!” he shouted, rounding on her. “We’re, lost in fucking nowhere, and you’re worried about fucking bugs! God damn, you are stupid, woman.”
That was the last straw. “Fuck you.”
His expression turned dark. “What did you just say?”
“You heard me, you bastard. You always want to cut me down! When we get home, you can choke on your ring. I’m not marrying some pathetic-”
Something broke in John, too. “Pathetic?” he said through gritted teeth. “Pathetic? I’ve been there for you when you were down more times than I can even count. You think I cut you down? I raised you up, you fucking cow!”
“You really are a pathetic, little man. You can have your ring right now!” she screamed at him as she stripped it off her finger and threw it at him.
The ring bounced off his chest and he caught it
“Fine, let’s see how well you do without me. Good luck not getting raped and murdered out here, you dumb bitch.” John pocketed the ring and strode off.
“You can’t just leave me out here! You have the only flashlight!”
“You should have thought of that before you went after my nuts.”
“Come on, we’ll walk back to the road.”
Lights popped into her vision when he backhanded her.
“Don’t follow me, you little whore. If I see you, I’ll kill you.”
Sue stood dumbfounded as the sting in her cheek subsided. He had never hit her before. It was like he was some other person, some monster, that she had never known until now. A monster with the only flashlight.
John felt a small amount of satisfaction from leaving Sue whining in the dark. Her biggest mistake was not appreciating him. Well, she’d appreciate him now.
She was as good as dead out here, and good riddance. He would get home, play the bereaved fiancé, then he would be free to find someone else, and give her the ring instead, someone who appreciated what a solid man he was.
Shit, if they found her dead and he had the ring, it would look like he killed her. He couldn’t leave her behind. He had to find her and make up long enough to get them out of the swamp. Grimacing and frustrated, he set off to find her before she did something stupid.
Sue wiped the tears from her eyes. She had never felt so alone before. Abandoned and afraid, she fought the despair that threatened to paralyze her.
“Oh, hell,” she sighed. “I’m scared.”
“You should be.”
She jumped and nearly fell down again. A woman stood in front of her.
“Mom!” she cried out. “Oh, thank god! How did you get here? Please, you have to help me get out of here. John’s gone crazy.” She ran to embrace her mother.
The second slap made her spin. “You ingrate! For years I’ve watched you screw up, and now you’re going to die, all because you didn’t listen to someone who knew better than you!”
Sue looked up, but her mother was gone. Her mind must be playing tricks on her. But her cheek still throbbed.
She had to find a way out. If only she could stop her knees from shaking and take that first step.
John hoped Sue was where he had left her. Dumb bitch would probably try to find her way out of the damn swamp by herself.
“Where are you going, John?”
He turned around at Sue’s voice. “What the hell are you doing there? I was just looking for you.”
“And I had to find you, because you can’t handle anything by yourself. Can you even wonder why I wouldn’t want to marry a little boy like you?”
He stopped, stunned by her words.
“We can talk about your attitude when we get to the road. Come on, let’s go.”
She laughed. “I’ll find my own way. I’m leaving you out here. You’re the one who’s lost. Like you’ve always been.”
He blinked. And she was gone.
How dare she talk to him that way?
“I’ll find you, you bitch.”
“I’m never going to find my way out of here,” she thought.
The woods had not looked so intimidating before. Maybe it was the company of another human being, even John, that had made it less frightening. Now, lost and alone, Sue felt despair creeping up in her. The brambles tore at her, but she didn’t even notice anymore. She was focused on finding the road, but she felt like she was just walking in circles through the trees.
“Don’t panic, Sue. Don’t panic. The worst that will happen is that you find the road in the morning, and then get picked up by some random driver…who hopefully isn’t a psychopath. Oh God, I’m going to die out here.”
Suddenly, she heard a laugh, a high-pitched, chattering laugh. Dismissing it as her imagination, she moved on, but she heard it again, closer this time.
“John? Is that you?” she called at the trees, but all that answered was the laughter.
“That’s not funny. Who’s there?”
She felt something brush at her skin, and she gasped and turned towards it. She felt it again at her back, and spun. It brushed her again, this time, it felt like a hand on her shoulder, and she cried out. It was as though the darkness was alive and mocking her.
“Stop it! Stop it!” she sank to the forest floor. The whispers became clearer.
“All alone,” the darkness said.
She put her hands over her ears, but that only made the laughter louder.
“You’re here forever.”
She sobbed as the words penetrated her thoughts.
“Here with us!”
“Shut up!” she cried.
She closed her eyes as tight as she could and screamed to drown out the voices. When her lungs were empty, she fell to the ground and cried into the leaves. She heard one last, tiny whisper.
“No escape!” It trailed off with a giggle.
“Shit,” John said as he turned towards the scream.
He hoped she was just overreacting, like she always did, but he tried harder to find her.
“Sue!” he shouted. “Sue, where are you?”
“Here!” he heard her from his right. He turned to run towards the voice.
He spun around as her voice came from his back now, a malicious giggle at the end.
“Here I am, lover!”
He turned around again, but he couldn’t see her. “Dammit, this isn’t funny! Where are you?”
His whole body tingled as he felt breath in his ear, “Right here, baby!”
John threw his arm around in a hook, but his fist connected with the air. His ear still tingled. He tried to get his breath to slow down, but it was impossible.
“Calm down, John. You’re in control. She’s fucking with you, is all. Just fucking with you, but you won’t let her.” Determination solidified on his face. “You’re in control, and you will show everyone. You’re the man, John. You’re the fucking man.”
As he started to move again, his thoughts were interrupted by her voice. “You going my way, cutie?” Sue stood right next to him, a mirthful smirk on her face.
He gave a start and looked at her. He remembered that he needed to leave here with her thinking that everything was forgiven, so he managed a smile. “Oh, baby, there you are! I heard you scream. Are you alright?”
“I’m better than ever!” she said, her voice sultry. She walked towards him, her hips swaying seductively.
“What, um, what makes you say that?” he said, puzzled.
“Oh sweetie,” she purred, one hand coming to his cheek. “I found someone out here.” He stared at her, all response completely lost to him.
“What the hell are you talking about?” he said.
“I let the dark in. It’s alive out here.”
“Sue, you’ve gone nuts.”
“No, baby,” her finger touched his lips and stroked them softly. He quivered with desire, which warred with confusion and rage. “You feel it, too. The dark led us out here. It’s lonely, baby, just like me.” Her finger trailed down his torso, to his belt and below. His eyes bulged and he gasped.
“What are you doing?” he said, warily. She was never the type to be flirtatious or seductive. Was she capable of this kind of trick?
All women are, he thought.
“I’m trying to help you, John. We don’t have to be lost out here. The dark can take care of us.”
The smile playing on her lips pissed him off more than the words. “You’re not making any sense. Stop trying to fuck with me and let’s get out of here.”
“We can’t, lover. It won’t let us.”
“You think you’re going to keep me here?”
“Not me, lover. The dark.”
“Stop saying that!” he shouted, rage grabbing him by the heart. He lashed out with the flashlight and struck her in the temple. Her head whipped back, and she toppled to the ground.
Lying in the brush, she still managed that infuriating smile. “Is that it, lover? I could barely feel it.” Her tongue flicked the trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth. “As usual.”
She began laughing. Laughing at him.
The rage boiled. His heart pounded in his chest like it wanted to get out. His teeth ground together hard enough to crush bone. “Shut the fuck up!”
She just looked at him and laughed. He could feel her laugh all around him, running into his ears and down to his soul, tearing it like razors until the holes in him were filled with something else.
With a roar, he threw the flashlight aside and leapt on her. His right fist came down on her face and he heard her jaw crack. Still she laughed. His left drilled into her eye socket, skin splitting, and slinging blood from her lips as her head whipped around. Still she laughed. He struck, again and again, her skin bruising and bleeding, her bones cracking. Her hair whipped back and forth as her head slung around with each blow that crushed her face into something between meat and human.
And still, she laughed.
His thoughts didn’t collect into words. The rage was its own language. He couldn’t feel his knuckles as they cracked against her skull. He felt her bones come apart. The opening in her head oozed blood and gore, and still he struck.
And still she laughed.
He heard the timid voice behind him, and whipped around.
Sue didn’t know what to think.
She heard the screams and grunts, and went to see if John was in trouble. She was not expecting to see him hunched over a rotten log, beating it with his fists.
He whipped around and looked at her with sheer madness in his eyes. Spit frothed around his mouth, his knuckles were wet and dark.
“A-are you okay? I heard you shouting and-”
He looked back at the log and looked back at her, confusion etched in his face. He got up awkwardly and stumbled over to her, his hands reaching out to her. She stepped back.
“Dead. Why not…dead? Kill you again…laugh at me, you bitch! In fucking control…”
She turned and ran. John had gone insane. An odd thought popped into her head, unbidden. Despite rejecting his proposal, she might spend the rest of her life with him anyway. The idea nearly made the insane laughter in her mind boil out of her mouth.
John caught himself on a tree and stood up. Why wouldn’t his head clear? Thoughts felt like they were moving through tar.
He’d killed her. Then she was standing there. She laughed at him. No one laughs at him.
With those two syllables, it became clear. He could kill her again. The dark could give him all the Sues he could kill, forever. This time, he could do it differently.
He pulled the knife from his pocket and opened it, the blade slipping in his blood-slick, trembling fingers. He tested the edge against his thumb, and felt it slip into his flesh. A dark bead pooled on his thumb. He stared into it. He could feel himself sliding, falling into the dark as it filled him with a freedom he had never before experienced. A freedom from hope, a freedom from consequence. A freedom from humanity.
Fits of laughter shook his body. The more that the darkness filled him, the more he laughed. And with his knife out, he ran to find his love, his victim, and begin his new found life in a Heaven of ripping her flesh forever.
Sue slowed to a stop. Fear and exertion had nearly drained her completely. Somehow, she had to get away from the thing that John had become.
The look in his eyes was totally animal, not a shred of human mercy at all. She couldn’t run away from him while finding the road. She was going to die here.
The realization did not horrify her as much as she thought it might. She had been driven to the brink. She had been brought all the way to zero. Hunted, lost and desperate, she had nowhere to go but forward.
She heard him shouting her name as though he were calling a pet.
“Sue! Here, baby!”
She moved away from his voice and took off her jacket, then threw it over a stump. She picked up a branch and doubled back to a clump of bushes. The anticipation of turning the hunt on the hunter thrilled her. She could hear her heart pumping with the adrenaline coursing through her body.
Before long, he came into view, whistling. Moonlight glinted off the blade of the knife he held.
“Come on, Sue. Here, kitty, kitty! Let’s get crazy and see where the night takes us! You and me, what do you say?”
She saw him through the bush, his face obscured. He movd towards the jacket, taking the bait. With a shout of fury, she launched at him and swung for his head. He turned, but not quickly enough. The branch caught the side of his temple and he went sprawling. The ground knocked the wind out of him, stars dancing in his eyes. Still shouting, Sue brought the club down on him again, and he raised an arm to block it. He cried out as it connected with his forearm, the crack announcing a fracture in the bone. Her next swing caught him on the cheek. He spat blood.
She came in for another swing, this time at his head, but he rolled away. She toppled forward as he slashed her leg.
Sue fell to the ground with an agonized scream. She crawled away from John, who was staggering to his feet, knife in hand. He made a move towards her, but lurched to the right.
The pain of her injury was hard to ignore, but Sue made herself stand. John had caught himself on a tree, and Sue launched at him and swung wildly, connecting with his shoulder. As he fell, the knife came up and slashed under her arm.
It wasn’t deep, but her artery was cut. She was losing blood fast.
John came at her again, but she side-stepped on her good leg, and struck again. He crumpled to the ground. With a wordless cry, she delivered a blow to his ribs. Her vision became fuzzy. She was bleeding out. Tearing off her shirt, she bundled it up under her arm. Clamping down helped staunch the flow, but she didn’t know how long it would take John to recover and attack again. Her vision cleared, and the club slipped out of her hand as she limped away.
Her steps became shorter as the pain increased. Each bounce made a little blood from her arm squirt out into the shirt. Finally, she couldn’t run any more, and sank to her knees.
Half-conscious, she felt her senses slipping. It was only a matter of time before she’d pass out. She only hoped that she died of blood loss before John regained his senses and found her.
“He’s going to find me,” her voice came in a croak. “He’s going to kill me.”
“No, Honey. He won’t,” a man’s voice said soothingly.
She looked up and saw the moon was brighter than it had been all night. His silhouette stood over her, and though she couldn’t see his face, she recognized the voice and the comfort of his presence. But that was impossible.
“Uncle Pete?” she felt his strong fingers grip hers. “You…you died.”
“Everyone dies, but not everyone stays strong. You held onto yourself. I’m proud of you. Come with us, Honey. Come to the dark. We have such wonderful things to show you.”
She couldn’t think anymore. The hand that held hers was so warm and strong, she felt that it would never let her go. It wasn’t the man who had comforted her as a child. It was something else, something that could comfort her forever. And she would be one with it. One with the dark.
Her last breath came in a whisper that sounded very much like “yes.”
Carly drove the car down the foggy highway, faster than she should. Beside her, John slept in his seat. It had been a rough two years for him.
He was found dehydrated and raving in the woods and brought to the hospital. When he recovered enough to tell what happened to himself and his fiance, he couldn’t remember anything. Where she had gone, or how he had received his injuries, why he had her ring. After they searched the area, they found no trace of her body. That was all that Carly knew, he wouldn’t talk about it.
He was haunted by nightmares that made him whimper. He was so terrified of the dark, he slept with a nightlight. Thankfully, his soul was finally on the way to recovery.
Carly had been a volunteer at the hospital through her church. They hit it off. When she stopped volunteering, she still came to visit him. One thing led to another, and they began dating.
Now she was on the way to meet her future in-laws.
John stirred as they rounded a curve and grumbled. He rubbed his eye and sat up in his seat. “Where are we?”
“The GPS found a shortcut, I thought I would take it. We should be there soon after we get through this swamp.”
“Shortcut?” the word was barely out of his mouth when his face went pale. “Oh God, no! No!”
He began screaming hysterically and grabbing for the wheel. Carly’s eyes went wide with fear as she fought to control the car. When she looked back up, she screamed as well.
A woman in tattered, stained clothes was standing in the middle of the road, her tangled and matted hair over her face. John’s fit became more intense as they came closer to hitting her. Carly yanked the wheel to the left, and the car spun off the road and hit a tree.
Carly’s head impacted the steering wheel, and she lay there. John’s vision swam, but he stayed awake. He shrieked as he fumbled to get free. Spilling out of the door, he scrambled to get up. He ran down the road crying and shouting, “Please! Oh God, please, someone help me!”
“Here, kitty, kitty!”
He turned towards the voice that he never expected to hear again, and fell back as he screamed. Crawling away on the road, he looked at the figure of Sue. Her hair was snarled in swamp debris and her skin was lacerated from brambles. Blood trickled down one arm, where he had stabbed her two years ago.
“No!” he screamed. “No, it can’t be! You’re dead! You’re dead! You’re dead!”
Her cracked lips parted in a smile that held all the cruelty in the world. Her eyes menaced him.
“Everyone dies, John,” she said as she advanced, her hoarse voice clawing at his mind. He scrambled back, gibbering. “You only need to be afraid if you think you’ve done something bad. Have you, John?”
Her fingertips touched his cheek. He shrieked and curled into a ball. “Shh, it’s okay. It’s only Hell. Come with me, Honey,” she extended her hand. “I have such wonderful things to show you.”
Deadman’s Tome is a growing horror zine that publishes short stories and flash fiction whether it’s ghost stories, zombie invasions, bigfoot sightings, slasher sprees, bizarre fiction, classic horror literature or erotica. The darker the tale the better. If you enjoyed the story, or even if you didn’t, leave a comment below as it helps the authors.
Want to help support the authors that are featured?
Then check out The Best of the Demonic! The Best of the Demonic compiles an assortment of editor picks as a way to celebrate our two years of publication. Loaded with ten gruesome, horrific tales that will pull you to the edge of your seat, this greatest hits anthology will deliver back-to-back a complimentary sample of what Deadman’s Tome is all about. Fans of our thriving ezine, you already know that this purchase will be totally worth it. Those passing by, you don’t need to hold on to your doubt. As a growing monthly electronic magazine, the quality of our releases has increased phenomenally, and this anthology is a sort of snapshot of what we become.
Also check out Best of the Tome! Celebrating three years of publication is nice, but without friends and associates to share the moment with, the party would grow very boring, very fast. To that end, we reached out to everyone that has ever helped us in the past for their personal favorite picks and reasons why they enjoy this online magazine of the macabre.
Starting now, the money raised through sales of The Best of the Demonic will go towards the authors published on Deadman’s Tome!
My goal is to increase what Deadman’s Tome can offer authors that come this way, and you can help make that happen!
I appreciate the heart and soul that writers pour into their work, and believe that they deserve more than pocket change. If you believe this too, then please share this message.
As the title reveals, I’m not too sure about the longevity of Deadman’s Tome. The truth is that submissions have not been coming in, and it might have something to do with the lack of site promotion. The drive I had for the site, the passion, has been derailed simply due to distraction and priorities.
To reveal even more, I work at a psychiatric facility as a mental health tech and deal with a mountain of absurd, unfathomable stuff on a daily basis. When I get off of work, I don’t feel like plugging the site or even plugging one of my own productions. I feel like having a beer, lifting weights, and perhaps attending to the grad work I’ve been meaning to complete.
While it is saddens me that Deadman’s Tome may not exist a few months from now, it served its purpose. The site gave exposure to writers of various skill and style. But in this day and age, anyone with wifi access can create their own means of exposure. A simple blog could achieve what Deadman’s Tome did for some. The difference is that I put money in advertising and struggled to get it “out there” but that’s the price.
My overall point is that I don’t have the drive I once did for Deadman’s Tome. I have other priorities now. To those that have assisted Deadman’s Tome throughout the years, thank you. I will stay in contact and will help promote your future titles anytime. I will create a more personalized blog in the future, one that allows me to focus on giving back to the authors that assisted me.
I’ve been on a hiatus for a while. As something of a jack of all trades, I dabble in many things such as writing, filming and schooling while maintaining a steady job. On top of this, there will be a new addition to the Dedman family. The first of many miracles this family will surely be gifted with, and my wife and I embrace it with all the love and warmth parents could possibly give. At the moment, the little one is still basking in the warmth of the womb, but it will emerge a beautiful, healthy, and strong baby boy.
In short, I’ve been distracted and busy. However, I’m also not a quitter and don’t like allowing this site to collect virtual dust.
I will arrange bi-weekly updates, either new stories or just random, yet interesting posts.
To the writers that have submitted. Your submission have been received. I will get in touch with you shortly.