“Meet the Staff” Slide Show on Contact Page

To add a little dark humor to the website, I added a slide show called “Meet the Staff” to the bottom of the contact page. Except for yours truly, of course, these purported members of The Chamber staff are all fictional. I used a random name generator to produce the names and a little background info. I added the job titles and languages they speak and a few odds and ends otherwise. All these photos are from royalty-free, copyright-free (public domain) photos from the websites Pexels and PIxabay, from which I get most of my graphics. These are graphics I often use in posts on on the website in general. A minor side benefit is that everyone can now associate a name with the photo, and no one needs to use some convoluted description to talk about a graphic/character. Here is the slideshow I will add characters to it occasionally.

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.

The Chamber Magazine is Now Listed at Duotrope.

As of today, March 29, The Chamber Magazine is now listed at Duotrope.

“Duotrope is an established, award-winning resource for writers and artists. We help you save time finding publishers or agents for your work, so you can focus on creating. Our market listings are up to date and full of information you won’t find elsewhere. We also offer submission trackers, custom searches, deadline calendars, statistical reports, and extensive interviews.”

duotrope.com

Duotrope enables writers to set up an inexpensive account ($5/month) where they can search the Duotrope database for magazines and book publishers of every genre to find every kind of market imaginable, paying and non-paying. Enter your submissions and their results into the Duotrope database and they will track your publishing record and even provide basic statistics (such as percentage of works published, etc). Currently, Duotrope lists 7,620 publishers of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art publishers and agents. As an example of their capabilities, here are the statistics for Duotrope from the seven days ending March 29, 2021 at 9:30 p.m. central standard time:

Listing with Duotrope will enable The Chamber to reach a much wider community of writers and poets and bring more first rate material to our readers.

On another note, The Chamber Magazine has also been listed at Ko-fi.com, where readers may contribute small amounts of as little as $1 to help The Chamber grow and develop to bring intelligent dark literature to every time zone on the planet.

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.

The Chamber Magazine is Now Listed at Duotrope.

As of today, March 29, The Chamber Magazine is now listed at Duotrope.

“Duotrope is an established, award-winning resource for writers and artists. We help you save time finding publishers or agents for your work, so you can focus on creating. Our market listings are up to date and full of information you won’t find elsewhere. We also offer submission trackers, custom searches, deadline calendars, statistical reports, and extensive interviews.”

duotrope.com

Duotrope enables writers to set up an inexpensive account ($5/month) where they can search the Duotrope database for magazines and book publishers of every genre to find every kind of market imaginable, paying and non-paying. Enter your submissions and their results into the Duotrope database and they will track your publishing record and even provide basic statistics (such as percentage of works published, etc). Currently, Duotrope lists 7,620 publishers of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art publishers and agents. As an example of their capabilities, here are the statistics for Duotrope from the seven days ending March 29, 2021 at 9:30 p.m. central standard time:

Listing with Duotrope will enable The Chamber to reach a much wider community of writers and poets and bring more first rate material to our readers.

On another note, The Chamber Magazine has also been listed at Ko-fi.com, where readers may contribute small amounts of as little as $1 to help The Chamber grow and develop to bring intelligent dark literature to every time zone on the planet.

Steph n Jay Interpret NIN’s “Closer”

Forgive me if I ramble, but I have had about four fifths of a bottle of Beaujolais-Villages at this point and I have to share this with someone. After all, what’s the fun of having a magazine if you can’t surprise your audience now and then?

I like to watch “reaction videos” on YouTube. If you are not familiar with them, they are where a person or couple show their reaction to songs they have never heard before. This may sound boring, but if you find the better reactors (maybe that’s the name for them), they can be a lot of fun, especially when someone in his/her twenties hears “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time, after growing up on Hip Hop, etc, and is awed by them just as my generation was when we heard it for the first time in the seventies. Some reactors, I suspect, are phony and have heard the song before and have practiced their reaction, but others are not and seem genuine in their response. Steph n Jay seem genuine to me.

One of my most deeply rooted beliefs about literature and storytelling in general is that when a person hears/reads or tells a story, they live that story vicariously to some degree. That is sort of related to why people enjoy these reaction videos (if not, it is why I enjoy them). They see someone reliving the experience of hearing a great song for the first time and they relive the moment when they first heard it. I watch another reaction video team called Alex and Andy a lot. They not only show their reactions to hearing something for the first time, but being musicians themselves, they analyze the song musically as well as emotionally. Being of college age and reviewing classic rock, they are reviewing songs from The Who and Led Zeppelin at the same age I was when I first heard them. So I am reliving the experience I had when I first heard them with friends of that age.

I remember when I first heard “Closer” in the late nineties. It was a shock initially, but now I enjoy the hell out of it every time I hear it. It touches a certain pleasure-soaked dark side somewhere perhaps not so deep in my psyche.

This is the first time I have happened upon Steph n Jay. They are a middle to late middle-age couple. In this video they listen to “Closer” for the first time. Judging by their reaction in the teaser, I thought it would be fun to watch them. It was.

It was fun, but not in the sense you might expect. They seemed shocked initially as if they had caught their ten-year-old (theoretical) son saying fuck for the first time, but then they seem to get into it. I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil the video for you. Watch not only their reaction but their interaction with each other as the song progresses. To me, they seem to be gradually more turned on by “Closer” and, I suspect, may have had something of a carnal interlude shortly after watching this. This may gross out the younger members of my audience, but I am verging on being an old man now and it seems cute and adorable to me. Their response may have been assisted by both of them having a drink while watching this (she has wine and he has beer).

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

“Big Game Hunter” Fiction by Travis Lee

It’s dusk and no one’s coming.

The damn beast wasn’t supposed to charge me. I paid $45,000 to come hunt it, an albino rhinoceros with a nice horn. They made me sign a waiver. This land is owned by a diamond mining conglomerate, and when Pavel looked at my signature he told me I was going in alone. Once I kill the rhino, contact him by satellite phone.

The phone. In the tall grass, maybe still working, or maybe in pieces along with the rest of me because when the rhino charged I was not prepared. Animals have never acted hostile before. You should see the lions. They tear apart wildebeests and buffalo calves, but when they see me they just lay there as I squeeze the trigger.

My arm is aching. I’m trying not to move but my arm. I shift a little. My gut explodes in pain. Blood attracts predators and there’s a difference between a healthy man aiming a gun and a bleeding man under a tree. One’s an anomaly.

The other’s prey.

I went on my first hunt was when I was twelve. My uncle took me to Yellowstone Park and before we set off he pulled me close and said, Congratulations. You’re now part of the food chain.

I haven’t thought of that in years.

Funny what your mind coughs up.

#

I have some pills but I dare not take any. Night has fallen and I’m alert. I have a .357 Magnum with six shots, well, five. Five for the hyenas.

One for myself.

They sound close. I raise the gun, ignoring the pain. It’s stupid, of course, as hyenas hunt in packs. The best I could do is scare them and if that doesn’t work?

One bullet will.

Hyenas can bite through anything. They’ll start at my legs, ripping me apart beneath the clear savannah sky.

At which point do you die? In the middle or does it happen last, after you’ve been mostly eaten?

#

Night passes. No hyenas.

I’m getting weaker. I sip the canteen. There’s enough water for a day, maybe two if I space it out but it’s hot. The sun breaks through the leaves and a fly crawls around my mouth.

#

The satellite phone is ringing.

Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep. The sound of salvation I spot it in the tall grass, green light flashing.

Beep-beep.

Beep-beep.

#

I’ve spent the day making arguments against going for the phone. My uncle’s words keep coming back, circling me like the flies. I’m already part of the food chain, and it didn’t happen when the rhino charged and I stood there like a doofus, too shocked to do anything. It happened the moment I stepped out of the jeep.

A caw. I look up.

A vulture cruises overhead.

I close my eyes. Vultures can smell the dying from miles away.

I open my eyes and reach for my gun. The vulture. I stare at it, my eyes burning in the unfiltered daylight. The vulture spreads its wings and perches on a high branch.

It’s staring down at me.

I tilt my gun skyward, , aligning the barrel with the bird. I do a silent Mississippi-count to five.

I fire.

The bird drops down beside me. Its wings spread open, covering my legs and I look down and scream, brushing it away and igniting a new series of pain.

I shove the dead bird as far as my arm will allow and close my eyes. The smell. A messy infection below and I can smell myself rotting and I can’t hold it in. I turn my head.

I puke.

#

Laughter cuts through the night. My eyes flip open and I grab the Magnum.

Congratulations. You’re now part of the food chain. I had slipped away to somewhere just beneath the pain. My uncle was leading me through the jungle to where the rhino stood waiting in a long field. I lined up to take my shot while the rhino charged and I took it down, one shot. Dead.

Their laughter makes me want to laugh too and I let go of the gun. I cover my mouth with both hands. I laugh, pressing my hands tighter as they approach.

The hyenas move with purpose through the tall grass. Their eyes shine like migratory starlight as they rush their prey. I know they can see me and smell me but do they understand and I know I should grab the gun because this is it, but I don’t.

I just laugh.

And I’m still laughing when the hyenas ignore me. An elephant herd is on the move. I’m laughing when the hyenas slip between the great beasts’ legs, separating a baby elephant from the herd. I’m laughing when they start with the trunk, one hyena tearing it in half and the rest ripping it off. The baby elephant is screaming as the pack swarms and I have my answer: you die at the very end. The hyenas eat the baby elephant to the bone.

I’m laughing so hard I have a coughing fit.

#

The pain is bad and the smell is worse.

The pills are part of the standard first aid kit they issue all hunters. They give you a vacuum-sealed pack of six. One a day.

Or six.

I tell myself it won’t come to that. I look up. The sun hasn’t crossed the midway point yet and the predators hunt at night. I look out across the savannah. The baby elephant’s bones. I feel a laughing fit coming on and I jab my tongue against my cheek. The laughter rises, falls back. I hold my tongue there until I no longer feel like laughing.

I peel one of the pills free.

It dissolves on my tongue in seconds. I lean back, close my eyes and listen for the phone.

#

Beep-beep.

I open my eyes.

Beep-beep.

I close them.

#

I’m awake. For a second I think there is a bear in the tall grass, guarding the satellite phone. I have to concentrate for several minutes, readjusting my mind to the time and the shapes around me.

It’s night. I slept all day.

I wasn’t supposed to sleep all day. God damn pills are only supposed to knock you out for five hours. But you’re also supposed to eat with them and I have no food. The three emergency MREs they give you are out in the tall grass somewhere, assuming the hyenas haven’t gotten to them.

Flies crawl on my forehead.

#

I turn my head to puke but only dryheave. I have nothing to throw up.

#

I’m awake all night, thinking of my rifle.

My uncle taught me how to shoot. We hit targets on his property. And in Yellowstone, he taught me the importance of stealth.

Since we’re part of the food chain we gotta act like it, he said, outfitting a silencer to his rifle.

We tracked the bear and her cubs for days. We weren’t dumb enough to carry our rifles out in the open and once we were in position for a good shot, my uncle handed me his rifle. He showed me how to steady the aim. The cold cylinder in my hands. The weight that decides death.

I can still see the bear. She looks right at me when I line up my sight. My uncle would have laughed so I never told him but I know what I know, and what I know is that bear saw me. She knew I was there to kill her.

Her cubs squealed afterwards. They crowded around their mother, sniffing her, trying to lick her back to life. My uncle told me not to feel sorry for them: turn the tables, and the bears would have me for lunch.

Let’s go, my uncle said.

We’re not taking it?

Where? To who? He gave me a light smack on the back of my head. Yellowstone’s got too much stick up their asses for that.

We left the bear to rot, her cubs to mourn and on the way back home we bought ice cream.

#

A fly lands on my cheek buzzing I brush it away more on my forehead

#

I drift off and wake up hearing the bear cubs sobbing for their mother. What ever happened to those cubs? Male bears will kill cubs that aren’t their own but the bear would eat me if the tables were turned and besides we’re now part of the food chain so we have to act like it.

I cough. Flies. I can’t wave them away. Something is stalking me through the tall grass. I can’t make it out. Hyena? Lion?

Bear?

Where the hell is Pavel? They should have come for me by now. The satellite phone is working, I heard it beep (yesterday? day before?) so they know I’m here.

Where are they?

I don’t have the strength to move but I do have the strength to think and see and combined I think I see what’s out there in the tall grass.

I grab the Magnum. The movement startles the flies but doesn’t scare them away.

Five shots left.

#

Laughter and it’s not coming from the hyenas.

It’s coming from the bear.

Mama bear is laying in front of the satellite phone. She keeps her paws to the side of the phone so I can hear it ring.

Beep-beep.

Laughter.

Beep-beep.

Laughter. Sounds like hyenas but it’s that fucking bear. Congratulations. You’re now part of the food chain.

#

Fucking bear. You haven’t moved all day. The sun sets and I need another pill for the pain and the flies the itching is driving me crazy the smell makes me gag. I dryheave.

The bear laughs.

And this is it. I won’t survive another day out here. Pavel isn’t coming. I need to get to the phone. That’s him calling. Their equipment is broken. They can’t find me unless I answer.

The bear laughs.

Your cubs are dead, I whisper. My voice sounds like it belongs to someone else.

My uncle is beside me. He swats me on the back of my head and hands me his rifle. The rapport might knock me down, but at least mama bear will die and this time she will stay dead.

Beep-beep.

I stand up. Something’s coming closer. A small stampede. The laughter grows. The bear doesn’t raise her head. I aim the rifle as something tears at my legs. The flies have scattered. I try to squeeze the trigger but my finger is too weak and I no longer feel it.

I feel teeth.

I hear laughter.

And somewhere, the satellite phone is ringing. Beep-beep.


Bio:

Travis Lee lived in China for two and a half years, where his short story ’The Seven Year Laowai’ went viral among the expat community. He currently lives in Japan, working as a weather forecaster. Find out more at https://www.travis-lee.org