“Only in Legend” Short Fiction by Jennifer Patino

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Brandon and Jamie shone their lights up into the treetops. The night air was sweltering and David could swear he heard a sound coming from up there. His breathing was bordering on hyperventilation.

“Chicken, as usual,” Jamie sighed, letting her backpack fall to the ground. A dust cloud rose up around it. Brandon shuddered. He was thinking of the ghost story. The old legend that brought them here on this night.

“Well, whatever,” David crumpled into a heap, backpack and all. The dust around him doubled the amount the pack created. “This is the place.” He shone his light upward again as if he were trying to reach his beam to the moon.

Brandon chugged from his canteen and nodded in agreement. He swirled some of the refreshing water around in his mouth before swallowing. “Better start a fire then.”

Jamie was already collecting kindling.

Later on, after a dinner consisting of chips, neon yellow soda, a random baked potato, and king sized candy bars for dessert, the three sat silently by their small fire. David was close to dozing off when Brandon pulled out a book from his pack.

“You don’t need to read it again.” Jamie said.

“I just want to make sure we’re in the right spot.”

“Aww, man,” David groaned. “Like there’s even a right spot! Every part of these woods looks exactly the same.”

“Shut up, you tool,” Jamie reprimanded him. “I told you both that this is the spot. It’s the only place these types of trees grow.”

“Well, while we’re waiting for something to happen, I don’t see any harm in reading.” Brandon pointed his beam at the book in his lap and started flipping through the old sepia tome.

David rolled his eyes and settled back down, using his backpack to rest his head on. The trio sat in silence for nearly  fifteen minutes. Somewhere in the distance, a night bird of some sort squawked. The crickets crooned their nocturnal  lullaby.

Suddenly, the quiet broke with the sound of three gasps in unison. An odd addition to the forest’s symphony along with the ethereal tinkling of faint laughter. They were hearing it at just the right time the old ghost story they all knew by heart said they would.

“You guys are screwing with me,” whispered David.

“No-shh!” Brandon is on his feet and staring off into the direction of the light laughter, which can only be accurately described as ghostly. There was a part of Brandon that wanted to remain skeptical. Then there was another part of him that was deathly afraid. That was the part that wanted to run. He’d never hear the end of it from his friends if he did, so he swallowed his fear and focused on the part of his brain that was able to stay rooted in the logical.

Jamie jumped to her feet, fumbling with her flashlight. Her face appeared paler in the moonlight. Brandon’s hand steadied hers so her beam would stop making those extra shadows dance through the trees.

“Story says we follow it,” Jamie’s voice was monotone.

“Come on,” David whined. “That’s enough proof for me.”

“You said we were in this together!” cried Jamie.

“Will you two shut up!?” Brandon shushed them, still staring off into the depths of the woods, his heart pounding loudly in his head.

The laughter sounded as if it were drifting away from their mini campsite.

“If the other part is true about those were-witches, or whatever they are, hiding out in there, then you guys can forget it-“

“David, seriously, shut your trap.” Jamie flicked off her flashlight and pointed straight ahead with a trembling finger.

They all saw her then. She was standing right in front of them. A woman in white. She was laughing, but the sound of it still sounded so much further away. To their shock, she had drifted closer to them. Brandon’s brain struggled to find a reasonable explanation, but came up empty.

“Stop right there!” he yelled. Some kind of action movie courage invaded him and it seemed like the appropriate thing to do.

The woman in white stunned them by listening to him. She stopped moving. She stopped laughing. Her dark hair was covering her face just as the old legend described.

David panicked then and attempted to turn around and run, but he stumbled. Panting heavily, he spun his head around and saw that the woman had disappeared.

“Where did she go?” Brandon sounded more upset than scared. He hadn’t thought of snapping a picture of her for proof she existed until then. “Great. What do we do now?”

“Check it out,” Jamie turned her flashlight back on and started walking toward where the woman appeared at the edge of a shadowed copse just out of the moonlight’s direct path.

“I’m staying right here,” David insisted.

Jamie was shining her light into the forest. “Oh wow. Come here, you guys,” she called behind her and at that moment her flashlight began to dim. She banged it against her palm.”Hurry! I’m losing light!” She kept moving, much to their dismay.

“Chicks,” David shook his head and Brandon agreed with a sigh. Manning up seemed to be a better option than admitting to each other that they were on the verge of wetting themselves. Not to mention the fact that the “chick” in their group was showing more bravery than they were.

The two trembling boys made their way over to where Jamie was desperately trying to force her flashlight’s bulb back to life. Brandon’s flashlight started to lose power too the closer he got to her. He banged against it with his hand, taking Jamie’s cue, and turned to David to make sure his was working. David’s hands were in his pockets, no flashlight in sight.

“Oh, it’s back there-” he gestured back toward their gear with a tilt of his head.

“Forget it,” said Jamie as they approached. “We know where the fire is. If I can see it, you can too. Way to leave it unattended, you morons.”

“You called us over here!” Brandon protested. “What’d you want us to see?” He squinted to try to see what she was looking at so intently, as if she were in some kind of trance.

“I think you’re both just crazy and we should definitely get out of here.”

Those were the last words of young David.

The woman in white appeared again behind the three and broke David’s neck in one snap. Before Brandon could even try to make a run for it his neck was broken in the same way.

Jamie clicked her flashlight back on and shone the beam upon their horrified expressions. She heard the bristling of many white dresses behind her as the other women in flowing gowns made their way into the clearing. The first woman in white stood before her smiling, her blackened eyes shining in the lunar glow.

“Very well, Daughter. You did very well. Run along now. The rest of the ritual you will learn and experience as each new year passes until your Induction Ceremony. We can handle the rest from here.”

Jamie didn’t argue. “See you next year, Mother.”

The woman smiled and was joined by four other women all smiling at Jamie with the same sense of gratitude.

Jamie walked back and extinguished the fire. She picked up her backpack, readying to make her trek out of the forest.

She glanced back and the shimmering women were still staring at her, making sure she exited their home safely.

Halfway back to civilization, Jamie could still hear the sounds of hungry howling and tearing flesh sloshing in her ears.


Jennifer Patino is an Ojibwe poet living in Las Vegas. She has had work featured in both online and print, including A Cornered Gurl, Half Mystic Press, Font Magazine, and L’Éphémère Review. She shares poetry at www.thistlethoughts.com and on Twitter @thoughtthistles.

“Fishing Buddies” Fiction by Steve Wilcenski

“Harve?”

“What?”

“You seen Winston lately?”

“Yeah.”

“I ain’t seen him in a week.”

“Bastard.  Borrowed fifty bucks.  Said he’d settle when his check came in.”

“He’s been having tough times since Clara passed.”

“Mebee.  Don’t look to get that fifty back.”

“He might come up with it.”

“Not likely.”

“Well, anyway, I ain’t seen him.”

“Sommich had the balls to ask me to take him fishing.”

“You’re the only one has a boat.”

“Fifty bucks!”

“Oooh!  Got something big!  Get the boat closer…  Don’t wanna break this rod…  Wait…  It’s coming… Oh. My. God!  It’s Winston!”

“Yeah. I know.”


Originally published on the Prose website https://theprose.com/ May 22, 2020. Republished on spwilcenwrites November 13, 2020.


SP Wilcenski wrote system software for fifty-three years before retiring to start salvage operations on fifty-odd years’ creative pieces moldering in a file cabinet.  Today, he struggles against the enormity of that reclamation task.  He is unpublished except on theProse and in his blog spwilcenwrites.

“I AM THERAPIST” Poem by Levi Johnson

I am the second edge of a neurotic wedge
for which they feel so numb.
I am the squirm of all their memory worms
sprinting to outrun.
I am the squeaky sigh of unhinging minds
turned over and outdone.

I am a magic wand of a mystery beyond
free spirit that marquees.
I am the time traveller finding cracks in hell
for glorious escapees.
I am the hired hand made of shifting sand
messaging the bourgeoisie.

I am your flirtation looking for salvation
basking in the night.
I am the pulsing waves of your hollow caves
mossed with hindsight.
I am everyday and you are sponge of clay
absorbing new insights.


Levi Johnson is a psychotherapist originally influenced by his 1960s hippy experience in his hometown of San Francisco. These colorful street people sparked his career of operating inside the hearts and minds of others. His verse is a unique blend of psychology and poetry that is existential at it core. He recently published Alter Ego: Poetry for the Hidden Self for those who like to go beyond the surface.
ALTER EGO: Poetry for the Hidden Self

Interview with John DeLaughter, Author and Essayist

John DeLaughter photo

John A. DeLaughter M.Div., M.S., is a Data Security Analyst and Lovecraft essayist, horror, and fantasy author. He lives in rural Pennsylvania with his wife Heidi. His work has appeared in The Lovecraft eZineSamsara: The Magazine of SufferingTigershark eZineTurn To Ash, and The Eldritch Literary Review Journal. John is presently editing his original epic fantasy work, Dark Union Rising.


Bio:

John A. DeLaughter, MDiv, MS is a data security analyst, author, and Lovecraft essayist. Discover his HPL essays in publications such as The Lovecraft eZine, Aphotic Realm, Vastarien: A Literary Journal, Turn to Ash, and Círculo de Lovecraft (Spain). His horror shorts appear in HPL anthologies like “Ancestors and Descendants: Lovecraftian Prequels and Sequels”, “Protector of the Veil”, and “The Fellowship of the Old Ones”.John is also the author of fantasy novels in the Dark Union saga, “Night of the Kwatee and “Dawn of the Dark Union”.  John lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Heidi and two dogs.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

To me, the fun is in when you are asked to join a project out of nowhere. I am not sure that stands as “the greatest accomplishment”. But, it is very satisfying when you have developed a niche with what you have written, and based on whatever reputation that has garnered you, an invitation here and there appears. I think it validates what you have been doing as a writer.

Why do you write?

Once you come to the place where you do write—not just someone who says they want to write “someday” though many of us start out in that category—there is a compelling sense or need to write in order to feel fulfilled in life.

I cannot put it any simpler than that.

Just recognize that your passion to write is not something everyone else, either among your family, friends, or social contacts, is equally interested in or wants to hear you talk about it.

Learn not to be discouraged by that fact. Not everyone is interested to a sport like fishing or Tour-de-France bicycling either.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

Particularly in non-fiction writing, I bone-up on the subject quite a bit before I ever begin writing about it. I accumulate MS word files with notes from what I read. Then I begin to assemble my thoughts based on those notes, and the unconscious ideas that suddenly pop into my head that result from all the reading involved.  I work on the order of the ideas, on catchy titles, for the main title and subsections of the essays, etc. I continue to work a piece until it feels right.

Sometimes, I create a MS word file with two columns using the “insert table” feature, use the left column for the wording of the actual essay, while using the right column to gather facts from my notes and work on assembling the ideas into my words and my order of thought. Plus, always cite your sources with end notes. That shows the work that went into the piece and that you are not plagiarizing someone else’s ideas. Nothing kills your credibility more than not citing your sources.

For horror and fantasy fiction, I like to add true ideas and plausible thoughts that lend an air of authenticity and believability to a fictional narrative. For example, from Lovecraft’s writing, he included longitude and latitude readings in “The Call of Cthulhu” and “At the Mountains of Madness” to lean an air of “the fictional, unknown events portrayed occurred here in the known world…’

Or, if the fabled mountain ranges in the Antarctica that were higher than the Himalayas in Lovecraft’s narrative simply do not reflect our modern map of that continent, come up with a logical premise that is plausible and explains the apparent contradictions. Another such device that Lovecraft and others used was to place their fictional, forbidden magical grimoires along side real similar volumes to lend authenticity to their fictional works and the disasters that resulted from using them. For example, the dreaded but fictious “Necronomicon” exists in some of his stories alongside Cotton Mather’s  “Wonders of the Invisible World.” You can do the same with famous, known events from history and either place a fictious event beside the true event. Or give a fictious, horrific explanation of the known event.

One final thought. After you have gone through and made changes, run a standard spell/grammar check over what you’ve just edited. Sometimes, while you are in the process of correcting mistakes, you unintentionally create others.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

There are many people in your life, friends, and family, who promise to read and write a review on what you write. But when it comes down to the actual fulfillment of those promises, it doesn’t happen.

In a recent Time Travel project with three other writers – Byron Craft, Matthew Davenport, and David Hambling – we employed a professional editor/proofreader to tighten up the five stories in that volume and split the cost.

That work, “Time Loopers: Four Tales from a Time War” (2020) has Mythos-elements in each story to varying degrees.

If you do not have a beta-reader or reviewer, once you have made changes, put the work aside for a few days to a week. Then pick it up again. It will help you to have a fresher set of eyes looking for mistakes and logic issues.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

To me, the fun is in when you are asked to join a project out of nowhere. I am not sure that stands as “the greatest accomplishment”. But, it is very satisfying when you have developed a niche with what you have written, and based on whatever reputation that has garnered you, an invitation here and there appears. I think it validates what you have been doing as a writer.

Why do you write?

Once you come to the place where you do write—not just someone who says they want to write “someday” though many of us start out in that category—there is a compelling sense or need to write in order to feel fulfilled in life. I cannot put it any simpler than that.

Just recognize that your passion to write is not something everyone else, either among your family, friends, or social contacts, is equally interested in or wants to hear you talk about it.

Learn not to be discouraged by that fact. Not everyone is interested to a sport like fishing or Tour-de-France bicycling either.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

Particularly in non-fiction writing, I bone-up on the subject quite a bit before I ever begin writing about it. I accumulate MS word files with notes from what I read. Then I begin to assemble my thoughts based on those notes, and the unconscious ideas that suddenly pop into my head that result from all the reading involved.  I work on the order of the ideas, on catchy titles, for the main title and subsections of the essays, etc. I continue to work a piece until it feels right.

Sometimes, I create a MS word file with two columns using the “insert table” feature, use the left column for the wording of the actual essay, while using the right column to gather facts from my notes and work on assembling the ideas into my words and my order of thought. Plus, always cite your sources with end notes. That shows the work that went into the piece and that you are not plagiarizing someone else’s ideas. Nothing kills your credibility more than not citing your sources.

For horror and fantasy fiction, I like to add true ideas and plausible thoughts that lend an air of authenticity and believability to a fictional narrative. For example, from Lovecraft’s writing, he included longitude and latitude readings in “The Call of Cthulhu” and “At the Mountains of Madness” to lean an air of “the fictional, unknown events portrayed occurred here in the known world…’

Or, if the fabled mountain ranges in the Antarctica that were higher than the Himalayas in Lovecraft’s narrative simply do not reflect our modern map of that continent, come up with a logical premise that is plausible and explains the apparent contradictions.

Another such device that Lovecraft and others used was to place their fictional, forbidden magical grimoires along side real similar volumes to lend authenticity to their fictional works and the disasters that resulted from using them. For example, the dreaded but fictious “Necronomicon” exists in some of his stories alongside Cotton Mather’s “Wonders of the Invisible World.” You can do the same with famous, known events from history and either place a fictious event beside the true event. Or give a fictious, horrific explanation of the known event.

One final thought. After you have gone through and made changes, run a standard spell/grammar check over what you’ve just edited. Sometimes, while you are in the process of correcting mistakes, you unintentionally create others.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I am presently editing the final book in a fantasy trilogy series entitled, “Day of the Archmage.” The Dark Union Saga Trilogy has some Lovecraftian/Mythos themes to it. I hope to release that in early 2021.

I have the outlines, research, and an identified market for a H.P. Lovecraft essay, tentatively entitled, “Patrick McGoohan’s ‘The Prisoner’ and HP Lovecraft:

Did Rover Arise from a Bloom of Shoggoths?” I hope the title is self-evident as to the direction of the subject material.

Along with both projects, I will be developing promos and sales pitches to post on the various social media outlets where I maintain a presence.

For now, that is what appears on my literary “Drawing Board” for early 2021.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

Once it is completed, The Innsmouth Book Club wants to do an interview about “Patrick McGoohan’s ‘The Prisoner’ and HP Lovecraft: Did Rover Arise from a Bloom of Shoggoths?”

The Innsmouth Book Club is associated with two anthologies my horror work has appeared in, “Ancestors & Descendants: Lovecraftian Prequels & Sequels” (2019) and “Weird Tails: a Lovecraftian Cat Anthology” (2020).

And of course, there is this interview for Phil Slattery’s The Chamber an online horror zine.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

As a non-fiction writer, there are certain topics that continually come up in my mind that I need to address. Since I write about Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the horror writer, it could surround either an event in his life or letters. Or it might concern so aspect of his fiction, such as similarities between his horror stories and the fiction of others. For example, I wrote an essay that examined whether J.R.R. Tolkien’s work was influenced by H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction, entitled, “Lovecraft and Tolkien: Lovecraftian Horrors in Middle-Earth?” That one got translated into Spanish and appeared in a Horror-zine based in Spain.

My point is, I like to write about issues in horror non-fiction that others haven’t addressed Or I like to add an angle that hasn’t been fully explored.

In fiction, I have horror as well as fantasy aspirations. I try to give voice to both of those motivations, either through horror shorts at the moment, or through fantasy volumes, such as editing the final volume in a LOTR-style trilogy. That book is entitled, “Day of the Archmage.”  The Dark Union saga does feature some subplots that reviewers say lean a Lovecraftian vibe to the series.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Bad reviews are inevitable. They can be harmful if you struggle to get reviews. Many are over elements in you book that you have no control over it. Disgruntled writers who got rejected from a project write bad reviews about the finished project. People who don’t like the price point or the way the book is formatted, may write a bad review.

If you read a bad review, glance at it, gather quickly any value in it, then move on. Continue to promote the book, because when other reviews come, good reviews will balance out the bad ones.  You cannot let a bad review throw off your composure and your drive.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Write and get published somewhere. You may write for publishing credits for some time versus pay in order to get a name in the writing arena and some type of following.  That has been my path as a writer, but that may not be everyone’s experience.

Next, you must learn how to deal with rejections. They come as “cattle-call” rejections, rejections you can learn from – the rejecting editor give you some helpful advice on what you’ve submitted, rejections from someone who has previously published your work, etc.

One I have is a partial rejection that’s still up in the air. The editors enjoyed my initial submission, but had some issues they felt that needed to be addressed. They spelt out the issues, I revised the project to tailor it to address their issues, and resubmitted it. I have not heard back from them yet. There was no guarantee that if I revised the submission to their specifications that it would be accepted.

You must exercise patience with publishers. You also need to develop a “live-and-let-live” attitude towards a publisher, who may have published some of your submissions, while rejecting others. That’s part of becoming a professional in your outlook as a writer.

One last thing. You need to develop your marketing skills as a writer. If you get published by a traditional publisher or end up self-publishing that is not the end of the process. It begins the second half of the process—which is peddling your work to the masses. Some type of social media presence is a must. And recognize that not everyone who follows you on a social media platform equals a sale that self-same person.

Use what is immediately available to you. For example, if your book or a book you appear in sells through Amazon, develop a related Amazon’s author’s page.

But do not overdo your social media publishing efforts. For instance, there is a “law of diminishing return” i.e., there is a point where doing additional promotional activities does not equate to increased sales. People can get numb to your wonderful ad promos if you push them too much, too often. Related to that is, do not let your promotional time eat up the time and energy you need to write. You need to discover that balance for yourself.

For me, I have a full-time job and family concerns. So, writing and promoting that writing needs to fit into the other priorities in my life. For instance, I do social media promotions seven days a week. That usually occurs in the evenings. But, sometime I have other things to do at night, so you have to make allowances for the rest of your life.

And a final thing. I am foremostly on social media to promote my writing. As a rule, I do not use social media for the reasons other people use those mediums.

Don’t forget we all have literary influences. Mine include H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, C.S. Lewis, Clifford Simak, and J.R.R. Tolkien. If someone reads your work, and brings up “your writing sounds like So-in-So” that’s ok. A writer’s life is constantly developing their own style and voice. Take any such comparisons as a compliment and move on.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Your time, your energy, and your attitude. You need to do whatever you can to “keep your head in the game.” Read things other writers do to keep writing. Hear about their struggles so you don’t think the difficulties you face in writing are insurmountable.

To me, your stick-to-itiveness—meaning dogged perseverance—is your greatest asset as a writer. The odds of lightning striking you—i.e., you becoming a best seller—increase if you are walking around outside in a storm holding a lightning rod. The more you write, the farther afield your work gets published, the greater the chance of getting struck by lightning.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

I have an Amazon Author’s page: https://www.amazon.com/John-DeLaughter/e/B078ZKDR12

I have a Twitter Author’s Page: https://twitter.com/HPL_JDeLaughter

I have a Facebook Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/HPLJDeLaughter/

I have an Instagram Author’s Page: https://www.instagram.com/hpl_jdelaughter/?hl=en

Submit Your Dark Fiction and Poetry Now.

The Chamber Magazine is seeking articles, reviews, essays, poems, and short stories of approximately approximately 5,000 words or less including flash, micro fiction, smoke longs, drabbles or of any flavor of short fiction that demonstrates the art of writing dark fiction, whether it be prose, poetry, one-act plays, or any other form of literature.  We want to showcase the genre in all its subtlety, intelligence, art, horror, terror, suspense, thrill-seeking, and gruesome detail. We will accept dark humor provided it follows the guidelines below with regards to content and good taste.

To be good short fiction, the shorter a work is, the more power it must pack.

There is no pay for publication, but the author retains all rights. Reprints are acceptable. Multiple submissions of up to three works per submission are permitted. Simultaneous submissions are permitted, but you must tell us if the work has been accepted elsewhere. We usually respond within a week. Works generally appear a month after acceptance.

More details about submissions are available on the website.

Send submissions and queries to thechambermagazine@gmail.com.

Werewolf in Action (theoretically)

I came across this video while surfing Twitter today. Dare to say this is the closest you will ever come to seeing an actual werewolf in action. Now you can understand why the people of the 16th-17th centuries were terrified of the thought of werewolves.

Apologies to Jennifer Patino

In my haste to put out the announcements for the works appearing on Feb. 26, I failed to double check myself and mistakenly gave Jennifer Patino’s name as either “Jean Patino” or “Jenn Patino”. I have known people with all three of those first names and got them confused somehow.

In any case, be sure to check back on Friday, February 26, after 10:00 a.m. Central Standard Time to read Jennifer’s short story “Only in Legend” as well as the two other works appearing that day, Steve Wilcenski’s “Fishing Buddies” and The Chamber’s’ interview with author and Lovecraft scholar John DeLaughter.


Submit Your Dark Fiction and Poetry Now.

The Chamber Magazine is seeking articles, reviews, essays, poems, and short stories of approximately 5,000 words or less including flash, micro fiction, smoke longs, drabbles or of any flavor of short fiction that demonstrates the art of writing dark fiction, whether it be prose, poetry, one-act plays, or any other form of literature.  We want to showcase the genre in all its subtlety, intelligence, art, horror, terror, suspense, thrill-seeking, and gruesome detail. We will accept dark humor provided it follows the guidelines below with regards to content and good taste.

To be good short fiction, the shorter a work is, the more power it must pack.

There is no pay for publication, but the author retains all rights. Reprints are acceptable. Multiple submissions of up to three works per submission are permitted. Simultaneous submissions are permitted, but you must tell us if the work has been accepted elsewhere. We usually respond within a week. Works generally appear a month after acceptance.

More details about submissions are available on the website.

Send submissions and queries to thechambermagazine@gmail.com.

Playlist: Diegaro

Sometimes in my YouTube account, I create playlists of music to help inspire my writing of one work or another. Below is my playlist “Diegaro”. “Diegaro” is Esperanto for Gathering of the Great Gods (Esperanto is the artificial language I use as the alien language). I listen to this sometimes to inspire or accompany work on my sci-fi novel Shadows and Stars, sometimes just to start the morning.

In the novel, the two main characters, the astrophysicist Daryn Jacob and his bodyguard/guide, Baslo Sero, are traveling by foot on a long journey across the planet Zaigosh. On Zaigosh, religion is outlawed. Nonetheless, tens of thousands of worshippers of many gods meet in secret and away from the government’s eyes in a remote canyon. Daryn and Sero happen into this celebration and see many odd and wild things. This playlist is a soundtrack for what they experience in the Diegaro.

This playlist contains 17 videos. All are dark, mystical, and pagan in nature. All are either mystical or visceral. Some have a haunting beauty. Groups/performers include: Anilah, Trobar de Morte, Skald, Faun, The Hu, Danheim, Ozgur Baba, Eivor, and Sagason among many others (some of these videos are playlists of their own).

This video will play only in a set sequence. If you would like to skip around within it, go to my YouTube page: Diegaro.

–Phil Slattery, Publisher, The Chamber Magazine


Call for Submissions: Seeking Article on Contemporary Dark Romanian Literature

Photo of Woman by Michaela Vreja from Pexels

With our recent publication of several works of Bogdan Dragos along with his interview with The Chamber, the amount of The Chamber’s website visitors from Romania has rocketed.

Outside of Dracula, very few Americans would be able to name another literary work or a movie set in Romania. There are some horror movies set in Romania, but these rarely make it anywhere near the mainstream of American media and entertainment.

Now, I am curious about what the state of contemporary Romanian literature is like, particularly with regards to dark literature.

Therefore I am issuing a call for submissions from a Romanian writer for an essay on contemporary dark literature in Romania. The essay should be about 2,000 words or less in keeping with The Chamber’s format. Up to three photos may accompany the article. If I get submissions from more than one author, I may publish more than one essay, provided the writing is acceptable and the article is of good quality. Though I am not requesting citations or a bibliography, the essay should be well researched. The article must be in English, though I will publish its Romanian translation with it, if one is submitted. There is no deadline for the essay. Submissions of this essay must adhere to all of The Chamber’s guidelines as stated on our Submissions page.

Unfortunately, as always, I cannot pay for this essay, but the author will retain all rights. The author’s only compensation will be publication and exposure to the US market, such as it is for The Chamber.

Sincerely,

Phil Slattery

Publisher and Editor, The Chamber Magazine


Interview with Author Niles Reddick

Niles Reddick
Niles Reddick at Parnassus

Biography

I was born in Southern Georgia to a working-class poor family. I started working when I was 12, mowing grass. I was a custodian and then worked in hotels through high school and college. I worked for the Air Force as a civilian, worked as a counselor, and landed in higher education where I taught and then became an administrator. While I wrote in high school and college, it wasn’t until I was teaching that I had my first publication. Married with two teens, we live in Western Tennessee.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I would say that my greatest accomplishment was having a story published in The Saturday Evening Post, and then being named among the best new fiction by The Saturday Evening Post in 2019. However, the accolades from some of my published books have also been very nice.

Why do you write?

I think writing evolves as does the reason one writes. When I began, I wrote about feelings, frustrations, etc. It was a limited and maybe egocentric form of writing, but eventually, I wrote about things that happened in life, injustices, humorous stories, and much more. I think one can’t stifle creativity. It’s a very natural way of being in the world.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I think I have a very “normal” process. I typically compose on my computer and I write early in the morning (I get up at 4am without a clock and always have). I typically go back two or three times to edit, but I usually read most things out loud to my wife. Generally, I catch more errors that way. She also likes to offer her comments. By the way, she doesn’t always like my stories and I’m okay with that.  I then rewrite a couple of other times before I send pieces off for consideration. Sometimes, I have had acceptances the same day, but while those are truly rewarding moments, they have been few and far between. I have had thousands of rejections, but I have also had stories published that were often rejected. I’ve come to know that “fit” is an important part of the writing process that most of us don’t understand even if we know the editor, the magazine, and the requirements. I can even read published pieces in a magazine and still not know “fit” and I’ve read pieces in magazines and couldn’t believe the editor selected or published it. There’s something about the process that is ambiguous and maybe always will be.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

No, early in my career when I was really trying to get published, I had friends who were faculty members review and offer feedback, and I have had other published writers read drafts and offer feedback (such as Lee Smith, Janice Daugharty, Inman Majors, and others), but other than my reading stories out loud to my wife (to mostly catch errors and get any opinion she might have), I don’t ask anyone and I find it a bit awkward when someone asks me to offer a blurb or review or even feedback on a draft. I’m becoming even more shy about that.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

Well, I have a flash fiction collection titled For the Cheesecake (title is from one of the stories published in Forth Magazine in L.A.), a novella-in-flash titled A Blessing and a Curse, and about thirty unpublished stories I’m constantly submitting for consideration. While I certainly don’t have expectations of anything happening, I do have an agent in CA who is pitching two films and a series for me.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I am teaching a flash fiction workshop through the Pat Conroy Literary Center in South Carolina and am excited about that, and I’m judging a flash fiction prompt for Vancouver Flash Fiction in British Columbia this month. The above submitted works will hopefully get picked up this year. I have several stories forthcoming in multiple journals and magazines like The Hong Kong Review.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

Some of my work has been meaningful with nominations and I think they speak to quality, but I don’t know if they will survive the test of time like other writers may have historically. Plus, I think what survives is changing rapidly. There are lots of writers out there, many publishers, and a lot of magazines that come and go. This has never been about money for me. I have a career. I often joke that I couldn’t pay one month’s house payment with what I have earned in royalties through the years, but to be recognized by peers has been meaningful to me. This year, The Citron Review took a story titled “Keeping Time” and then nominated it for a Best Microfiction award, The Boston Literary Magazine took a piece titled “Mean Boys” and nominated it for a Best Microfiction award, and other magazine in New York, Big City Lit nominated my story “Rotarian on Vacation” for a Pushcart Prize, my third Pushcart nomination. Ultimately, I should be satisfied with what I have done—a novel, two collections, and a novella (plus the ones coming)—and the recognition. I never expected any of it and if I dropped dead tomorrow, I would leave this world very appreciative.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Most of them that are bad typically say something good, so I’m not sure they are actually bad. I think they bring attention, and like the news on a nightly basis, I’m not sure it’s the good or bad that matters. It’s the attention, and actually, I’m not sure I think that’s how it should be, but it’s reality, and what’s even sadder to me is that I don’t think anyone really reads them and I don’t even think a lot of people read in general.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Don’t give up. Keep it up, keep going, trying. It’ll happen eventually, but you might want to ask yourself starting out, what do you want out of this? If it’s money, you might want to stick with your day job and do this as a hobby. I don’t mean that to be discouraging. On the contrary, I mean for it to be a wake-up call and to be realistic.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

I think social networking and social media are GREAT and have been important to me in my writing/publishing. I actually went to New York City to read with a group of writers I’d met via social media. I really didn’t know any of them and interestingly, some of them thought I was British because of my name—Niles Reddick. When I got on stage to read and this deep Southern accent came out, they were stunned. I thought it was hilarious.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

Website: http://nilesreddick.com/

Twitter: @niles_reddick

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/niles.reddick.9

Instagram: nilesreddick@memphisedu

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niles-reddick-0759b09b/


“Curious Tears” Micro Fiction by Marcelo Medone


Lisa was a girl full of vitality, enthusiastic and restless. Innocently, she went to see a fortune teller, who announced that she would inevitably die soon.

She returned home with a shattered soul.

Regretful, Lisa berated herself for her damn curiosity.

Heartbroken, she cried endlessly throughout the night.

In the morning, they found her dry corpse wrapped in tears.


“Bye Polar” Poem by Levi Johnson

Nightly insomnia, a lingering blues
A magazine of mania, for me to muse

Gripping thoughts, racing the horse
Better judgements, dash to divorce

It’s frantic speed, it’s your heartbeat
Your social boldness, exceeds discreet

Wild self-esteem, exceeds the moon
Your urgent dream, a sexual swoon

Verbal forays, a twisting vortex
Candor bounces, like a bad check

Your every behavior, a barreling train
Your every motion, a strain of cocaine

In biochemistry, the devil’s workshop
For soaring above, hysterical hilltops

To being oblivious, a conquer of strife
To being unhinged, the zest of life

My spin of utopia, to last only a week
My genetic rebels, return to meek

A spin of polarity, these frenzied fates
A parallel reality, my mind creates


Levi Johnson is a psychotherapist originally influenced by his 1960s hippy experience in his hometown of San Francisco. These colorful street people sparked his career of operating inside the hearts and minds of others. His verse is a unique blend of psychology and poetry that is existential at it core. He recently published Alter Ego: Poetry for the Hidden Self for those who like to go beyond the surface.
ALTER EGO: Poetry for the Hidden Self

“The Sewer Bloodsucker” Short Story by Olivia Arieti

            Raymond had no idea of  how he got into such a dark, wet and filthy place. It couldn’t be the dungeon as its only water seeped from the cracks of the castle’s centenary walls. For sure, it was that red head’s fault. He was dead thirsty when he entered the inn determined to satisfy his instinct as fast as possible. The girl never stopped gazing at him. The face was hard, but the glance had an enticing twinkle and the breasts were so generous that seemed inflated with milk, red milk… His seductive artistry didn’t let him down.

            “Not here,” she said giggling promiscuously after a third drink, “I know a very private spot, I’ll take you there.”

            He would have followed her to hell if necessary only for a sip of the liquid running through her veins, for everything about her inspired sensuality and bloody wantonness.  

            She hurried along the alley, pushed a metal door and the damned portal opened. They descended the steep staircase way down to the bottom of the tunnel where turbid currents were flowing. The stench was disgusting as well of the sight of enormous rats playing hide and seek, their eyes impish dots glittering in the greyness. Had he really reached hell?

            The slag seemed amused instead and started giggling again, the voluptuous mouth seductively open.

            “No one will notice us, love,” she assured.

            She, too, wanted a taste of him; the louder the giggles the more gripping the thirst. Raymond grabbed her scarf and pulled her towards him, then pushed back the russet curls and started sucking till her screams blast his ears.  

            “What the heck are you doing?”

            “My job,” he replied impassive.

            Another scream followed before the girl buttoned up her blouse and staggered away.

            The scarf was at his feet, a morbid sparkle of scarlet hue in such obscurity.

           The vampire’s pleasure was so intense that it exhausted him. He huddled in a narrow recess within the massive wall; enfolded in his black cloak with the head reclined on the chest, he resembled an enormous bat in torpor.

            At about midnight of the following day, the infamous urge for his nightly nourishment was driving him mad again; he had to find a way out as fast as possible.  

           For sure he was living a nightmare, a stinking one. He looked around and repulsion showed on his face. After removing the slush from his boots and dusting the cloak, with the silk handkerchief on his nose, he began the search of the stairs that would bring him back to the upper world.

            The subterranean corridors were endless; sooty pipes netted the ceiling and eldritch sounds could be heard all around. At last, he discerned the stairs, went up and found an infinite number of garbage cans on the landing, the stench more rancid than ever, then a sequence of steps apparently endless. The fact that the structure seemed to develop in height rather than in width puzzled him. Were the steps leading to the tower?  He couldn’t recall such a high castle anywhere.

            Breathless, he paused before a door that opened on a corridor totally different from the one he came from. A pleasant fragrance replaced the stink and the pavement was covered with a soft brown carpet. There were lots of doors, all with numbers. Now and then, the fluttering of young and pretty maids rushing up and down made him relish the taste of their crimson fluid, but they quickly disappeared around a corner or into one of the rooms.  

            A semi-closed door caught his sight. He slightly pushed it open. The heavy smell of  cigar almost choked him. A stout fellow, totally absorbed by his game of solitaire, was sitting at a table. The aspect was crass, the attire sloppy.

            On getting up to refill his glass, he became aware of the newcomer.  

            “So you are our man tonight,” he sneered after scrutinising him thoroughly, “the Countess shall be most delighted to entertain such a dark Sire.”

            ‘At last, he was among his peers,’ thought Raymond even if suspicious. 

           “Where is she?” he cried impatient.

            He hinted at a door.

            “You have to give me the bucks, first.”

            What on earth was he talking about? For sure, the guy didn’t know who he was dealing with.

             “The Countess will be most pleased to see me,” he grinned and let visible his fangs.

            “Halloween is over, buddy, better give me your damned money or you’ll fly out of that window in the wink of an eye,” and added,  “consider this is the twentieth floor.”     

            The vampire’s wrath was at the utmost.  ‘How dare he?’ 

            His fist resolved the matter and the promise he would get back to him doomed the bloke to his nefarious fate.

            Brigid, the Countess as she was called, was standing by the bed.  A black veiled robe enwrapped the most sensual body he had ever seen, a medley of the sublime and the divine while the smile was more intriguing than evil itself. 

            “This is for you to unlace,” she whispered as she placed his hand on the satin ribbon that fastened it. 

            “My dear Countess, it will be a privilege for me to disclose such beauty,” he muttered.

            Pondering what to do, he stepped back.

            “What are you waiting for, darling?”

            Also her voice was charming; the tone inviting and slightly submissive. She wasn’t one of those ordinary wenches that pullulated the castle, indifferent if they would be left dying on a bed of hay as long as their master made them his.

            Somehow, the Countess had mesmerised him; inexplicably, his heart was throbbing like a mortal’s one. Instinct and will were struggling in his corpse with a human fierceness that made his frame of dust shudder.

            Dismayed, he looked around. The setting was most unfamiliar, the furniture looked awkward and the many mirrors an offence. What horrid castle had he entered? And what was the noble lady doing there? Certainly, the working of another nightly creature who had secluded her in that horrid place…

            Now she had laid her hand on his arm, her eyes fixed in his. “I’m sure you’re an expert of wickedness,” she whispered alluringly.

            Hesitation was unknown, but an unfamiliar sensation was pricking his inner self. Contempt and shame overwhelmed him, but he couldn’t do otherwise; with the driblet of saliva left, he swallowed, cleared his throat and disclosed his true nature.

            If Brigid consented, he would make her his bride and her beauty would be preserved forever, if not, he would come back again and again until she did. Her love and devotion were as precious as her blood.

            The girl gazed at him bewildered. A maniac or at the very least, a lunatic had managed to get into her room. Surely, that stupid guy’s fault, always drunk and letting in whoever knocked at the door.

            “Don’t you touch me,” she cried, glaring at the bleak stranger.

            “No worry, my dear, I’ll give you all the time you need,” he uttered, bowed and walked out.

            Then he fed on the man and left him agonizing on the floor before going back to the sewer.

            After all, it was a momentary abode. Sooner or later, the portal would open again and he would go back to his castle with Brigid… The thought that he would visit her every night made his fetid bed less miserable.

            Raymond didn’t know that the police on finding the guy’s body and after hearing the prostitute’s story of the bloodsucker had taken her to the city’s asylum where she was put on a massive treatment before further investigation.


Olivia Arieti lives in Torre del Lago Puccini, Italy with her family. Her stories have appeared in several magazines and anthologies like Enchanted Conversations, Enchanted Tales Literary Magazine, Fantasia Divinity Magazine, Cliterature, Horrified Press, Thirteen O’Clock Press, Infective Ink, Pandemonium Press, Sirens Call Publications, Blood Song Books, Black Hare Press, Breaking Rules Publishing, Dark Dossier Magazine.

Call for Submissions: Seeking Article on Contemporary Dark Romanian Literature

Photo of Woman by Michaela Vreja from Pexels

With our recent publication of several works of Bogdan Dragos along with his interview with The Chamber, the amount of The Chamber’s website visitors from Romania has rocketed.

Outside of Dracula, very few Americans would be able to name another literary work or a movie set in Romania. There are some horror movies set in Romania, but these rarely make it anywhere near the mainstream of American media and entertainment.

Now, I am curious about what the state of contemporary Romanian literature is like, particularly with regards to dark literature.

Therefore I am issuing a call for submissions from a Romanian writer for an essay on contemporary dark literature in Romania. The essay should be about 2,000 words or less in keeping with The Chamber’s format. Up to three photos may accompany the article. If I get submissions from more than one author, I may publish more than one essay, provided the writing is acceptable and the article is of good quality. Though I am not requesting citations or a bibliography, the essay should be well researched. The article must be in English, though I will publish its Romanian translation with it, if one is submitted. There is no deadline for the essay. Submissions of this essay must adhere to all of The Chamber’s guidelines as stated on our Submissions page.

Unfortunately, as always, I cannot pay for this essay, but the author will retain all rights. The author’s only compensation will be publication and exposure to the US market, such as it is for The Chamber.

Sincerely,

Phil Slattery

Publisher and Editor, The Chamber Magazine


Interview with Author and Poet Bogdan Dragos


Bogdan Dragos photo

Biography:

I was born in 1992 in Romania and had a happy childhood until I went to school. I never had an answer to the question “What would you like to become when you grow up?” and still don’t. But I was lucky enough, after college, to land a job as a dispatcher at a gambling company. There, I spend 12 hours alone in the office (day and night shifts) supervising casinos through CCTV cameras. I like to think I learned a lot about humanity from this. But I also learned a lot about myself. It’s also where I started writing.biog

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?
That’ll be the publication of my poetry chapbook, “Pour The Whiskey Over My Heart And Set It On Fire”. In August 2020 I found myself with quite a bunch of poems and no audience, so I started submitting a few of them to random magazines and publications. I went into this with no expectations whatsoever, so you can imagine how grand my surprise was when the editor-in-chief of one of them asked me to put together a few poems and have them compiled into a chapbook.

Why do you write?
Because my computer is not strong enough to play videogames. The gods might not have blessed me with mad writing skills, but they sure did bless me with immunity to boredom, and I’m very grateful for that. I can spend time with myself and not go crazy.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)
I try to stay away from rituals. It’s best to just sit down and do it. Writing is the one activity you can perform with the simplest of tools. A painter needs the right brushes and colors, and a sculptor needs the finest materials, a musician needs a studio and equipment, but a writer only needs solitude. I find that at work, in the office, and sure, maybe a drop or two of smuggled vodka helps some, but I try not to rely on it. Also, when it comes to poems, I never revise them. They’re the first and final draft. I’m not saying that’s a good idea, I’m just saying that I personally don’t like revisions, it feels too much like work and too little like play.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?
No. I can’t bother my few friends and relatives who understand English with that. Many of them don’t even know that I write. It’s not a secret, but neither do I like to boast it.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?
Well, the result of starting to write at home as well brought about a few works of prose. I’ve an epic fantasy project of about 700.000 words. Maybe it’s time to divide it in books and look for an agent or something.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?
Hmm… Nope, not really.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?
A. Since I went into this craft for fun, I never had great expectations, but maybe if I could publish my epic fantasy… well, yeah, that’ll be cool, I guess.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?
It’s simple. Bad reviews are infinity times better than no reviews. I’ll accept everything as long as it’s more than nothing.

What advice do you have for novice writers?
None. But I’ll be happy to hear theirs anytime. Thanks.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?
A troubled mind. Not necessarily theirs.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)
A. Well, there’s my website, https://bogdandragos.com/
and linked to my website is also my twitter: https: //twitter.com/1_dr_bogdan (not much here, only posts that appear on my blog).
Hello Poetry: https://hellopoetry.com/B_R_Dragos/
Poemist: https://www.poemist.com/bogdan-dragos

“The Intruder” Fiction by Joe Pawlowski


“The Intruder” is from The Vermilion Book of the Macabre, copyright © 2020 by Joe Pawlowski.


There are men who do not rest easily in tranquil homes. Who shoulder no load at any worksite nor bow to any god. They live in a world of their own making by their own rules. Brooding men with stony aspects who walk in slow, sinister strides, often to places most would avoid at any cost.

The pupils of these men are flat discs, dark and heavy. Behind their eyes lies a determination colder than the grave. Their breath is measured. Their hands never quake.

When you spot such a man, you wonder if he isn’t familiar with horrent shrieks and sobbing moans. If he hasn’t tasted another’s blood on his lips. If he hasn’t peered into reaches so stark that all traces of humanity have fled him.

Should this sort of man ever knock at your door, don’t let him in. Even if he’s persistent. Even if he pounds the wood till the jamb shakes and echoes with his blows. Do not open the door.

Don’t make the mistake that I did.

“Aye?” I said, standing in my work robe in the threshold of our rural abode, looking out on the hooded figure in the dripping, nocturnal rain.

Without pausing, he yanked the door open and shoved his way past me.

“See here,” I said, or something like it.

I remember a massive hand on my face, pushing me down. My neck snapped back, and I crashed shoulders-first to the packed soil. My wife screamed. My children cried out.

The assailant in his filthy cloak and tunic flew past me, as I struggled to my feet.

Now he had a chair by one leg and was bringing it down in a blur toward my youngest son. Toward the child’s soft skull. The chair seemed to pass through his tiny body before exploding into fragments. Before my eyes, my poor boy lay lifeless in a pool of blood.

My wife fell to her knees. My remaining son and daughter clung to her. The air became vibrant with their wailing.

I leapt at the attacker, trying to wrestle him back, but he was strong as an ox and flung me into a wall, jarring the teeth in my head. I fought to stay alert but consciousness flickered off and on.

His meaty hands grasped the table, lifted it high.

There were caterwauls and shouts, a thunderous roar of bursting wood, cries and whimpers. The haunting rustle of bubbling breaths. I took an awkward step toward him, but my leg curled under me, and my shin struck hard on the earthen floor.

I couldn’t have been unconscious for more than a few moments, yet all the while he had been busy, pounding and tearing and crushing.

I felt around, and amidst the debris, I grasped the handle of a carving knife. It must have fallen there when he’d lifted the table.

With a head full of rage, I bolted toward the hulking silhouette and, with both hands, plunged the blade into the muscles of his back. He whirled angrily as I jerked out the knife. Now I slammed it with all my strength—to the very hilt—into the hollow of one of his eyes. He yowled and pulled at the handle, dropping the knife with a clatter. He pawed at his face with splayed fingers.

The ground shook as he smashed to his back and lay writhing. Now his hands, bloody with eye gore, clutched at the air.

“I’ll get ye!” he shouted. “I’ll kill ye yet.”

I picked up the knife from where he dropped it.

“If I have to claw my way up from the black pit of the afterworld, I’ll get ye.”

And with that final invective, I drove the blade again and again into his chest. Into his face and shoulders and stomach. I watched him gasp his last breath and pass to the Netherworld. Yet I could not stop stabbing him even then, even as my arm went numb and hand went sore. Even when I was covered in his vile blood.

Then everything went black.

I COULD NEVER figure out what made him do it. We were dirt-poor farmhands, so it couldn’t have been for money. We kept to ourselves mostly, wishing harm to no one. I knew of nobody who held a grudge against us. And I’d never before even met this fellow. All I could think is it was some sort of bloodlust. An evil impulse beyond the understanding of a rational person.

An evil impulse that took from me everything.

That night, I stumbled in the rain to a neighbor’s house and told him what had happened. All he could do was comfort me. What else could anyone do? He stayed awake with me until the break of dawn, then offered to go back to the house with me, but I could see no point in it. I walked back alone, the rain now a mist.

I dug four soggy graves.

The intruder’s body I dragged down the road and threw in the creek.

The sadness of that time lay heavily upon me. More than once, I thought about adding my wretched existence to death’s tally. I informed the farmer whose apples we’d been picking at the time what happened. He just looked at me with sorrowful eyes and said how sorry he was.

After a few days, I went back to work.

But the sadness never left me, and the memories of life with my family were little solace. I found myself thinking more and more about the monster’s last words. “If I have to claw my way up from the black pit of the afterworld, I’ll get ye.”

Maybe it was because of such thoughts that I began to hear ominous things in the night: snapping branches, approaching footsteps, movement on the rooftop and at the window. I slept with the carving knife under my pillow.

One day I walked down to the creek, to where I’d left his body, but it wasn’t there. Dragged off by wolves, perhaps. But it was strange to find not even a trace of him anywhere, even when I ventured deep into the woods.

Some nights, when I hear the noises outside of my house, I hope it is him come back so I can kill him again.

Most nights, though, I lie awake heartsick, in terror that the intruder has indeed clawed his way back in hatred from the dark pit of the afterworld. In my mind’s eye, I see him coming after me, the blood of my children still under his nails. The hooded figure, moving with purpose in the darkened room. Come to claim his final victim.


Joe Pawlowski has written three dark novels (most recently, The Cannibal Gardener), as well as the short-story collection from which this tale is drawn. He is a retired journalist, a U.S. Army veteran, a secular Buddhist, a Beatles fan, a vegan, and a lifelong student of classic horror and supernatural literature.

“Traffic Light Revenge” Flash Fiction by Niles Reddick

When I left home at 5:00 a.m., I didn’t see a vehicle on the road as I meandered the neighborhood and the main road arteries to get to the bypass. A bypass, by definition, shouldn’t have traffic lights, especially ones that aren’t synchronized. To have them interrupts the flow of traffic. The glaring red light functions like a clot in the bloodstream. I did not mind stopping, being the obedient, law-abiding citizen I’ve been, but I’ll admit that I cursed several times and even flipped off the camera.

There were three other traffic lights between the first one and where I exited the bypass to get to my office, and at each one, I had to stop and wait on absolutely nothing. By the time I got to work, I got involved with finding keys to unlock the building, the office complex, and finally my own office, and forgot all about the traffic lights until the next morning when all three of the bypass lights were green and stayed green the entire trip to my office, but on Wednesday, the third work day, I encountered all red traffic lights again.

When I got to my office, I waited until the city offices were open, and I called the traffic control office and got voice mail. I decided to go to the office, share with them that one day the lights are synchronized and one day they aren’t. I figured they would appreciate my concerned citizen report, and I fantasized I might even get some sort of commendation from the Mayor. I found the office in the basement of City Hall, went in, and saw a fellow watching a control board with several monitors.

“May I help you? This office isn’t open to the public.”

“I’m sorry, but the door was open.”

“The custodian probably left it open. They don’t clean any better than they keep doors locked around here.”

“Well, I wanted to share a problem I’ve encountered with the traffic lights on the bypass.”

“You’ll have to email traffic@city.gov and report your issue there.”

“Who does that go to?”

“Well, technically, it comes to me, and if I don’t address it, I send it up to the mayor’s office and they pass to who it needs to go to.”

“I see. I’ll be glad to send an email but let me at least tell you the problem while I’m here. You see, some mornings on my way into the city via the bypass, the lights are synchronized, and I get all green ones, like Tuesday, but other days, they aren’t, and there’s no traffic. So, as you can see, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be all green.”

“What do you drive?”

“A 4-Runner?”

“White?”

“Yes, why?”

“Did you flip me off and mouth curse words on Monday to the camera?”

“Yes, I did. How do you know that? What does that matter?”

“It matters. I saw you as I was refilling my coffee.”

“Well, I realize I shouldn’t have probably done that, but I didn’t know anyone was watching.”

“I’m off on Tuesday, so I wasn’t watching yesterday.”

“They were all green yesterday!”

“Yes, I know they were. They’ve never filled the part time position in this office, so when I’m off, no one is monitoring the lights.”

“This is crazy.”

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to step in here.”

“I’m not stepping in there. I need to get back to work, but when I do, I’m going to report you to the Mayor and the police. I think you’re crazy.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll have to ask you to step in here, again.” He pulled a gun from his pants’ pocket, aimed it at the visitor’s head.

“Why? Put that gun down. You have no idea who you are dealing with.”

“I’m sorry it has come to this, but you have too much information. Honestly, you won’t feel a thing when you step into this closet. I’ll shoot you, and then, you’ll fall into a drain that will take you directly to the sewer. The rats will take care of all the evidence.”

“What about my car outside? They’ll know I was here.”

“No, they won’t. Your car will be towed, and they don’t keep records. You’ll also get a ticket in the mail for running the first light on the bypass, but your wife will come in to pay it, and I may ask her out once a little time has passed. I’ve seen her in the Infiniti convertible, putting on lipstick, flashing her teeth, and checking her eye make-up. She’s pretty.”

“Please, I’m begging you. Don’t point that gun at me. This is nuts.”

The gun went off, and the traffic controller said, “That’ll teach you.” After the splash in the sewer, the traffic controller went back to his cameras and said to the convertible Infiniti at the first light on the bypass. “Well, hello there. See you in a couple of weeks.”


Niles Reddick is author of a novel Drifting too far from the Shore, two collections Reading the Coffee Grounds and Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured in seventeen anthologies, twenty-one countries, and in over three hundred publications including The Saturday Evening Post, PIFNew Reader MagazineForth Magazine, Citron Review, and The Boston Literary Magazine.

Submit Your Dark Fiction and Poetry Now.

The Chamber Magazine is seeking articles, reviews, essays, poems, and short stories of approximately 2,000 words (more or less) including flash, micro fiction, smoke longs, drabbles or of any flavor of short fiction that demonstrates the art of writing dark fiction, whether it be prose, poetry, one-act plays, or any other form of literature.  We want to showcase the genre in all its subtlety, intelligence, art, horror, terror, suspense, thrill-seeking, and gruesome detail. We will accept dark humor provided it follows the guidelines below with regards to content and good taste.

To be good short fiction, the shorter a work is, the more power it must pack.

There is no pay for publication, but the author retains all rights. Reprints are acceptable. Multiple submissions of up to three works per submission are permitted. Simultaneous submissions are permitted, but you must tell us if the work has been accepted elsewhere. We usually respond within a week. Works generally appear a month after acceptance.

More details about submissions are available on the website.

Send submissions and queries to thechambermagazine@gmail.com.

Submit Your Dark Fiction and Poetry Now.

The Chamber Magazine is seeking articles, reviews, essays, poems, and short stories of approximately 2,000 words (more or less) including flash, micro fiction, smoke longs, drabbles or of any flavor of short fiction that demonstrates the art of writing dark fiction, whether it be prose, poetry, one-act plays, or any other form of literature.  We want to showcase the genre in all its subtlety, intelligence, art, horror, terror, suspense, thrill-seeking, and gruesome detail. We will accept dark humor provided it follows the guidelines below with regards to content and good taste.

To be good short fiction, the shorter a work is, the more power it must pack.

There is no pay for publication, but the author retains all rights. Reprints are acceptable. Multiple submissions of up to three works per submission are permitted. Simultaneous submissions are permitted, but you must tell us if the work has been accepted elsewhere. We usually respond within a week. Works generally appear a month after acceptance.

More details about submissions are available on the website.

Send submissions and queries to thechambermagazine@gmail.com.