Call for Submissions from Around the World

The Chamber Magazine wants to publish short, dark fiction and poetry of any and all genres from around the world, regardless of country of origin. Length can be up to 7,500 words. Genres The Chamber is seeking include, but are not limited to, the following:

horror
dystopian
fantasy
grimdark
action-adventure
suspense/thriller
literary
science fiction
historical
mystery/crime
noir
romance
Western
experimental
cyberpunk
steampunk
weird fiction
gothic (literary genre)
goth (contemporary subculture)
general
creepypastas
humor
any mixture of the above

The primary criterion is that your work must be in English. It can be a translation from your native language, but a translation must accompany it in English for maximum exposure around the globe.

For more information on what I am accepting and on the submissions guidelines, please go to my submissions page.

Please note that there is no pay for this other than a publication credit and exposure to the American and English markets. However, all rights remain with the author.

New Back Issues Page

The Chamber now has a page for back issues. A link to it will be on the home page and will be the photo above. You will also be able to find it by simply going to the menu at the top of the page.

Within the last month, The Chamber has developed a new way of formatting issues by reverting to something more like the traditional magazine style. Click on the issue’s cover and you will go to a table of contents consisting of list to the latest stories and poems. Now all the past covers can be found on the back issues page so that anyone can search the issues and read the stories and poems as they were grouped when they came out, just like going to a library and picking up back issues of a magazine.

Because this is a recent development, only the three latest issues have this feature. The covers of previous issues will be shown but there will be no links to the associated stories and poems, though a few will take you to a quotation. Of course, as time goes by, this page will become increasingly useful.

The Chamber hopes you enjoy this new feature.

Submit Your Dark Fiction and Poetry to The Chamber

The Chamber Magazine is seeking articles, reviews, essays, poems, and short stories of approximately 7,500 words (note revised word limit) 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.

Welcome genres include:

  • horror
  • fantasy
  • action-adventure
  • suspense/thriller
  • literary
  • science fiction
  • historical
  • mystery/crime
  • noir
  • romance
  • Western
  • experimental
  • cyberpunk
  • steampunk
  • weird fiction
  • gothic
  • general
  • humor
  • any mixture of the above

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.

Call for Submissions from Around the World

The Chamber Magazine wants to publish short, dark fiction and poetry of any and all genres from around the world, regardless of country of origin. Length can be up to 7,500 words. Genres The Chamber is seeking include, but are not limited to, the following:

horror
dystopian
fantasy
grimdark
action-adventure
suspense/thriller
literary
science fiction
historical
mystery/crime
noir
romance
Western
experimental
cyberpunk
steampunk
weird fiction
gothic (literary genre)
goth (contemporary subculture)
general
creepypastas
humor
any mixture of the above

The primary criterion is that your work must be in English. It can be a translation from your native language, but a translation must accompany it in English for maximum exposure around the globe.

For more information on what I am accepting and on the submissions guidelines, please go to my submissions page.

Please note that there is no pay for this other than a publication credit and exposure to the American and English markets. However, all rights remain with the author.

The Latest Issue of The Chamber is Out!

New issues appear Fridays at 10:00 a.m. CDT/ 4:00 p.m. BST/ 8:30 p.m. IST/ 1:00 a.m. AEST (Saturdays).

“No Talking in the Library” Horror by T.L. Beeding

T.L. Beeding is a single mother from Kansas City, MO. She is co-editor of Crow’s Feet Magazine and Paramour Ink, and is a featured author for Black Ink Fiction. When she is not writing, T.L. works at a busy orthopedic hospital, mending broken bones. She can be found on Twitter at @tlbeeding. 

“Russell’s Story” Dark Comedy-Horror by Philip Laverty

Mr. Laverty notes: “I am forty-six and am currently working on a new horror story while editing various other pieces and trying to place them with publishers and agents. I live in Scotland with my two daughters. My main literary influences are M.R. James, Stephen King and Martin Amis.”

Five Dark Poems by Jack Harvey

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Chamber Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

“The Lesbian Dinosaurs Are Coming to Murder Your Asses” Dark Psychological Fiction by Sara Corris

Sara Corris resides in Brooklyn with a dog from London and a spouse from Buffalo. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming at Bending Genres, Defenestration, Horror Sleaze Trash, WryTimes, Funny-ish, Misery Tourism, and Fiction on the Web.

“Sifting Through the Ashes” Dark Supernatural Flash Fiction by Shelly Jones

Shelly Jones, PhD (she/they) is a Professor of English at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches classes in mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work has previously appeared in Podcastle, New Myths, The Future Fire, and elsewhere.

 

“So Long As I Don’t Look Up” Dark Flash Fiction by Jonathan Williams

Mr. Williams notes: “I’ve been writing for a long time. However, I recently realised that I write to process and understand myself and the world around me. I write for its freedom. And I write with the hope of finding my freedom outside the world of writing as well.”

Next Issue: February 4

Submit Your Dark Fiction and Poetry to The Chamber

The Chamber Magazine is seeking articles, reviews, essays, poems, and short stories of approximately 7,500 words (note revised word limit) 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.

Welcome genres include:

  • horror
  • fantasy
  • action-adventure
  • suspense/thriller
  • literary
  • science fiction
  • historical
  • mystery/crime
  • noir
  • romance
  • Western
  • experimental
  • cyberpunk
  • steampunk
  • weird fiction
  • gothic
  • general
  • humor
  • any mixture of the above

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.

Appearing in The Chamber February 4

New issues appear Fridays at 10:00 a.m. CDT/ 4:00 p.m. BST/ 8:30 p.m. IST/ 1:00 a.m. AEST (Saturdays).

“The Exhibition” Dark Fiction by Ervin Brown

Ervin Brown is a writer from Southern California. His other works can be found in Art Block Zine, The Dillydoun Review, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Grime Prophet Mag, Aurtistic Zine, and Drunk Monkeys. 

“Memories of You” Dark Poetry by Gavin Turner

Gavin Turner is a writer of dark fiction and poetry. Some of his work is published via his website gtpoems.wordpress.com

“Bath Time for Panda” Dark Fiction by Maxwell C. Porter

Maxwell C. Porter lives in New Orleans with his wife, a dear friend, and an almost perfect German Shepherd. You can call him “Maxy.”

Two Dark Poems by David Arroyo

Bio pending.

“Hunter’s Moon” Dark Fiction by James Hanna

James Hanna is a retired probation officer and a former fiction editor. Due to his background, the criminal element figures strongly in much of his writing. James’ stories have appeared in over thirty journals, including Sixfold, Crack the Spine, and The Literary Review. His books, four of which have won awards, are available on Amazon.

Next Issue: February 11

 

“So Long As I Don’t Look Up” Dark Flash Fiction by Jonathan Williams

I found myself once again shivering and huddling around those near and dear, a fire in the middle of our circle. Each of us clutching to our hot soup bowls as we tried to savor the heat with each sip.  Today seemed to have an extra layer of darkness. I looked up to the night sky. The moon’s light was being suffocated by grey night clouds, and stars, which usually looked so close together, were now much farther apart. In the second it took me to process my surroundings, I saw another night star dim, fade, and disappear. My heart jumped and I quickly looked away from the sky. It had been so long since I had looked up at the sky. How long has it been? Days? Months? Maybe even years? Every so often, I would bring my head up to look at the sky. I would suddenly get a headache. Like my entire body was warning me not to look up.  

But today, I was distracted by the infinite thoughts in my head. I had looked up so quickly, and before my mind realised what I was doing, it was too late. It didn’t have the time to warn me like every previous time.  And all that fear and frustration and the reason my mind had worked so hard to protect me came rushing back. In this world of an infinite night, with it never turning today, the stars were slowly going out in the night sky. One by one. I stared hard at the ground cursing myself. How could I do that?! I accepted another bowl of soup and tried to think of something else. Anything else.  But it was now in the forefront of my mind. The sky had lost so many stars from the last time I had looked up. Once all the stars went out, would the moon be next? Sometimes, you would hear from someone far away in another part of this world about their stars going out. It was always sad, but it never felt real. Life continued on here. Until it happened to you. Until your stars went out could you fully appreciate the terror and sadness of everyone else who had experienced that pain before you. 

My usual daily routine was very simple and boring. Find food for the rest of the day. Make sure there’s enough firewood, and if not, replenish it. Throw out the old and charred firewood from yesterday. Help cook meals. And when there is no work to be done, try and find something to do to entertain and distract yourself. But now, my daily routine has become a nightmare. Because I had looked at the night sky again. And each day now, I remembered it again. I threw myself into the daily chores of each day. When I had something to do, It was much easier not to remember. But it was during the times where there was nothing to do when the world would close around me. I would sing old songs or recite ancient stories that I remembered. I would desperately find everything and anything I could do. I had forgotten about everything once. How long would it take me to forget everything again?! I just wanted this awful feeling to go away. I tried to acknowledge it and point out everything I still had. 

It was always cold, the stars were going out, but I always had something to eat. I had an education, and there were those around me who loved me. There were lots of people who had it worse. And every day was fine, not especially good, but not especially bad, and everything about my day was fine, “Just so long as I don’t look up” was what I started to reassure myself.  And every day, the same routine, the same sinking feeling. The same feeling of hopelessness. The attempts to cheer myself up. That I had food and shelter. And everything about my world was fine, so long as I don’t look up. 

So, I stopped looking at the sky. I did everything I could to avoid it. But it wasn’t enough. I would notice through the corner of my eye when a section of sky would become darker. “That’s another star going out.” I thought. And I would then try to bury that thought. It was when I had to sleep that I hated the most. That time you are exhausted and powering down when those doubts and regret are the most powerful. Trying to sleep as my thoughts turned darker like the night sky and plagued by nightmares. There was no mental guard I could put up when I slept. And so, I continued this way, distracting myself with the usual mundane chores, the stories I had already told myself a hundred times prior, and spending the nights singing myself to sleep to avoid the doubts. And through that, things weren’t as dark, and everything is fine once again. So long as I don’t look up.


Jonathan notes: “I’ve been writing for a long time. However, I recently realised that I write to process and understand myself and the world around me. I write for its freedom. And I write with the hope of finding my freedom outside the world of writing as well.”


“Sifting Through the Ashes” Dark Supernatural Flash Fiction by Shelly Jones

The chimney spirit spent the night eating my words.

            I lay in the dark staring at the stippled ceiling, miniature stalactites hanging over me. I could hear the spirit choking, the letters desiccating its tongue. It wheezed, gasping, and for a moment I wondered if I should bring it a glass of water. But in its desperation, it must have swallowed the flames in the hearth to quench the dryness of its throat.

A cold wind rattled through the house as the fire extinguished.

            I buried myself deeper beneath the blanket and pinched my eyes, hoping sleep would take over. Arching my back, I turned and stretched so my feet extended off the edge of the bed.

            But soon, there was a wailing, like wind whipping down the chimney. Lying there, a cold sweat prickled on my neck as I realized the noise was not the wind, but the spirit: crying.

            I listened for, what seemed like, half an hour, waiting for the sobs to cease. It choked, gagging on ashy mucus until finally I cast the blanket off of me and stood up, the lamentation and chill unbearable no longer.

The bare wood was ice against my feet as I lumbered down the hall, my eyes bleary.  The fireplace was nearly black, a few coals nestled in the hot ash like jeweled eggs, as I entered the kitchen.  I bumped into a chair, the leg scraping across the floor with a groan.

            The spirit’s wails snuffled to a whimper at the noise and soot shifted down the chimney.

            “Why are you crying?” I asked softly. I waited; my arms folded over my chest. The chimney spirit and I had not conversed much over the years: the obligatory terms discussed as to when to light the first fire of the year; giving thanks in the form of cherry wood for all the bats and birds shooed away, saved from a suffocating death. I shivered, waiting for its answer.

More soot tumbled down onto the ashes below.

            “Would you mind building the fire again?” I asked finally, growing impatient. I wondered why I had bothered to check on the spirit in the first place, longing for the warmth of my bed. “It’s too cold tonight to go without a fire.”

I tried envisioning the spirit as a child in need of comforting, curled up, hugging its snot-encrusted knees, but as a chill seeped into my body, all I kept seeing was the selfish demon that ate my fire and robbed me of warmth each night.

            After a while, I sighed and began gathering the kindling from the bucket near the hearth. “I’m going to rebuild the fire,” I announced. “Please don’t consume this one until the morning.”

            “Will you be burning more of those letters?” its voice croaked bitterly, a dry cough punctuating the question. 

            “The letters? What do you know about that?” I asked, trying to remember what I had burned and when. Had it crept out of the chimney and into the bucket where I kept the kindling? “What have you been doing?” I demanded, straightening at the invasion of my privacy.

            “I ate them. All of them. Every word, every sour letter.” A shuddering gasp rattled against the brick.

            Sitting on my knees at the hearth, I hesitated, unsure if I should begin placing the split wood in the ashes, my chapped hands invading its home.

“Ate them? Why would you do that?”

            “How could you be so cruel?” the spirit shrieked, its shrill voice echoing up to the rooftop.

“Cruel? To whom?”

            “To me!” it screeched, like a wounded rabbit in the talons of a hawk. “Making me eat those wretched words of yours.”

            “What makes you think I wrote them?” I asked, annoyed by the spirit’s assumption. I sorted through the kindling, cracking a few twigs as I waited for a response. A stink bug crept along the bark, awakened from its winter stupor by the warmth of the house.

            “Those were written to you? But they were in your hand,” the spirit spat, a coal popping in the hearth.   

            “My father,” I explained. “We have similar writings, similar hands. But the similarities end there,” I muttered, crinkling newspaper in long strips to interlay between the kindling.

            “I see,” hissed the spirit.

            A silence grew in the darkness as the spirit digested my words. I waited, the box of matches heavy in my hand. After a few minutes, I yawned and resumed building the fire. I tossed the piece of wood into the hearth and watch the ashes plume around the disoriented stink bug. 

            “Promise,” the spirit demanded, snatching my wrist in its scaly claw.

            “Promise,” I lied, striking the match. The embers flared red with its breath. Once the wood caught, bark and sap crackling in the flames, the spirit withdrew to the inner recesses of the chimney and I, once more, to my bed.


Shelly Jones, PhD (she/they) is a Professor of English at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches classes in mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work has previously appeared in PodcastleNew MythsThe Future Fire, and elsewhere. 


“The Lesbian Dinosaurs Are Coming to Murder Your Asses” Dark Psychological Fiction by Sara Corris

I’ve got a tattoo quoting Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm: “Life, uh … finds a way.” I wish I didn’t. People think it’s optimistic. Optimism goes against everything I stand for.

If you actually watch the scene, it isn’t optimistic at all. “Life, uh … finds a way” does not mean, “everything happens for a reason.” It does not mean, “you are exactly where you’re supposed to be on life’s journey,” or “the universe only dishes out what you can handle,” or any other sunshiney drivel trending on social media.

“Life, uh … finds a way” means, arrogant scientists will be bested by nature Every. Damn. Time.

It means, the lesbian dinosaurs are gonna figure out a way to murder your smug human asses.

#

Week One

Today Viv and I are wearing our “Melinda & Laurie & Hope & Toni” t-shirts. The print is a personal fave of mine, although online sales have been disappointing. People prefer the obvious ones. Our bestseller is the “Sadie & Patricia & Leslie & Linda” print. I hate that shirt. The Manson girls weren’t even that impressive, IMO. Mere followers.

I guess it’s good Viv’s got more business sense than I do. Viv is my flat-slash-soul-mate, platonically speaking. We run our Etsy business from home, so this lockdown stuff doesn’t impact our lives much. I could do with a long break from the outside world.

We work side-by-side on the couch for six hours straight. Finally I get up to stretch.

“I’m gonna order pizza. You in?” I ask Viv.

“Yes. Definitely.”

#

Week Four

Viv and I are wearing our “Andrea & Susan & Brandi & Robin & Theresa & Dena & Martha & Banita & Waneta & Amy & Deanna & Christina & China & Clover & Diane & Rekha & Elaine & Allyson” t-shirts. I refer to this as our “Excellence In Motherhood” design. The names cover both the front and back. We could have kept going, but Viv doubted anyone would want a shirt with hundreds of names in teeny tiny print. She’s probably right.

We’ve got a routine more or less down by now. The first few hours are for Etsy business. Next, a TV break. (I narrow it to a few selections, but I always let Viv make the final call. Ditto on our food orders). Then, back to work–this time, on our writing.

I spitball story openers, and Viv gives me her honest opinions.

That patronizing bitch should be the first to go, the girls decided. Even now, she doesn’t take them seriously:

‘It’s normal to feel this way when you’re young,’ she says with a sympathetic smile. ‘I was the same, at your age. Everything felt like an existential crisis.’

‘Ugh. What boring last words,’ says Lil. Vivian nods as she swings the meat tenderizer through the air.

Viv’s bubbly laughter fills the room. I look up.

“It’s solid, right?”

“Without a doubt.”

I look at the clock. 5:37. We’re supposed to work until 6 before we order dinner, but I’m starving. “Viv, what do you say we quit early and–”

“Yes,” is all she has to say. (Yup; we’re those insufferable, finish-each-others-thoughts bitches).

“What if we give the Thai place another try? They said they were sorry the last time, the current estimated wait is only 20 minutes–”

Viv’s eyes cloud over. “Don’t count on it,” she mutters.

Ever the pessimist, is Viv.

#

Week Nine

“The two-year-old was the first to go. Crazy right? That’s a much smaller target.”

“It is,” Viv agrees. “Decidedly so.”

We’re wearing our “Brenda & Sylvia & Priscilla & Snochia & Amy & Laurie & Jennifer” shirts. Hence our conversation.

“People are forever underestimating women. Nothing’s changed. Admittedly, there are fewer female mass murderesses—”

“Decidedly so,” repeats Viv.

“Yet. There are fewer female scientists, and female politicians, and female artists. Etcetera.”

“Yes.”

“Most people understand this is the result of misogynistic societies not affording women the same opportunities as men.”

“It is certain.”

“Quite. And yet. We do not extend this insight to the murderer imbalance! We believe it reflects something inherent in the female sex’s gentle, maternal, nonviolent nature, or some horseshit.”

“Without a doubt.”

“Quite. Unreal! Obviously one must be able to move about freely in the world, particularly at night, to rack up a formidable body count. Women rarely have that privilege, to this very day.”

“Yes.”

And of course, men are more likely to possess financial means … cars and vans, gas, motel rooms, weapons, tools and cleaning supplies all cost money.”

“Yes.”

“They’re more likely to have a job outside the home, for longer hours, which provides an excuse to be away. And they’re less likely to bear primary responsibilities for any childcare arrangements.”

“You may rely on it.”

“Then too, boys are far more likely to receive instruction in guns and hunting … and projects necessitating tools … and martial arts, or other violent sports … and scientific pursuits like chemistry. All highly beneficial skillsets to killers. Girls learn fucking stupid skills, to prepare them for a liftetime stuck in the home. Cooking and cleaning and looking hot and putting out and changing diapers for babies and old people … which is why the vast majority of child and elder abuse cases are perpetrated by women. Women can only hurt those even less powerful than they are.”

“Most likely.”

“True power would be taking out high-value humans. Males in their prime. Obvs.”

“Yes,” murmurs Viv. She fixes those murky blue pools on me. “Definitely.”

We sit with that in silence for some time. Then:

“I yearn for a monstrous equality, Viv.”

#

Week Eleven

I get them though. The weak ones, the mere followers. The Manson girls, the Myra Hindleys, the Carol Bundys. Better than being alone. If you’ve known what it is to be truly alone, and then you found a way out, who would go back? I’d go along with anything and deal with being a monster, than be someone who’s good and all alone.

I rub at my eyes and crack my neck. Christ, the writing’s been slow going.

“Oi, Viv. You still up?”

“Signs point to yes,” she mumbles from her end of the couch. It’s dark in the apartment but I hear the snap-crackle-pop of her joints as she stretches her limbs.

“Shall I read it back to you before we call it a night?”

Viv yawns. “Outlook not so good.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be quick. I’m beat too.”

When they find him he isn’t even scared.

‘What are you going to do? Kill me?’ he sneers. ‘You’ve found me on my deathbed.’

Lil smiles back.

‘There are deaths and there are deaths. This is gonna be one of the latter, motherfucker.’

She turns to Viv. ‘Help me get him inverted. The longer blood’s flowing to the head, the longer he’s alive.’

Viv nods without a word.

Once they have him in place, Lil squats down beside him:

‘You know what this is? This is a meat tenderizer. And you see those clumps of hair stuck to it? That ain’t head hair.’

#

Week Fourteen

I’m getting weirder. I didn’t think it was possible. All this time away from others probably isn’t the best thing for me. I was never good at being around people but it feels harder than ever now, when I have to venture forth on dumb errands.

I tried getting Viv to come with me but she refused, the traitor.

“Hey. Viv. We’re out of almond milk. You feel like running to the bodega with me?”

She peeks out from beneath her pillow. “My reply is no.”

Not much of a morning person, is Viv. I throw on shoes and a mask and head out on my own.

I laugh and smile inappropriately sometimes. I don’t mean, finding things funny I shouldn’t. I mean when I don’t find something funny—far from it—but I laugh and I don’t know why and I can’t control it.

Or I murmur to myself, in public, or I’m making strange faces and movements to match my thoughts, until I catch how other people are looking at me.

And when I’m supposed to be in actual conversation with people? Even worse.

Sometimes, when I’ve left the surface conversation and I’m in my own thoughts and the person on the outside cuts in, trying to force me back to the surface and it’s too abrupt, I feel frustrated and overwhelmed. And then they’re annoyed with me, because I cry or I respond with enormous anger, with an emotion that is too big for what’s happening in the surface moment and they don’t understand. They’re repulsed and they leave me, or they’re hurt and disappointed.

#

Week Eighteen

“We’ve sold three more of our ‘With Friends Like These …’ print!” I call out to Viv. That’s what I call our “Karen & Laura & Sheila & Rachel & Sarah & Angela & Amber & Peggy & Justina & Christa & Bernadette” shirt.

#

Week Twenty

They stretch him out on a hammock a couple inches above the bed of bamboo.

‘I hear you’re a fan of houseplants,’ Lil explains.

‘You like a bit of indoor greenery? You find it soothing, or something? Well. We want to honor that. You should be feeling right at home in a day or two. Yup-yup. Gonna be one with nature reeeeaaal soon.’

Lil and Viv exchange smiles.

#

Week Twenty-Five

“Get a load of this, Viv. From the BBC. Some neuropsychologist cunt says brain imaging shows parts of the female brain develop more rapidly than the male. According to her, this is scientific proof that girls mature faster than boys. How’s that sitting with you, Viv?”

Viv grimaces. “Better not tell you now.”

“That’s pure science, Viv. Don’t tell me you’re doubting science? This learned lady says that the vague, sweeping claim girls mature faster than boys is indisputable fact. That claim is NOT a tired old excuse to sexualize young girls, and blame young girls for their actions as though they were adults, and shorten their childhoods, and foist responsibility on them early on.”

I look up. “I take it from your face, you’ve got a problem with that?”

“As I see it? Yes.”

“Thank Christ. Because so do I, Viv. The thing about brain imaging (even if you believe it’s legit, and not the phrenology of our time)? There’s neuroplasticity to account for. Example. The portion of the brain believed to control spatial configurations is significantly larger in London cab drivers, than it is in the brains of the general population. And yet. I have never heard it suggested, that this is because London cabbies are a self-selected born-that-way bunch. Rather, they altered their brains via their preparations for the infamous Knowledge exam. You see where I’m going, Viv?”

“Signs point to yes.”

“So. Why would we not interpret any alterations in the female brain as neuroplasticity in action? Seeing as how, beginning in utero, girls are hearing how they grow up so much faster than boys, and are far more responsible and serious and adult-ish and whatnot. And treated accordingly.”

Viv sighs and shakes her head. “Ask again later.”

“This brain-science bitch will be the next one we make to see, Viv.” I smile at her. “Outlook good?”

She smiles back. “Outlook good.”

#

Week Thirty

When he comes to, he’s in a standing X position, wrists and ankles cuffed to the metal railings of the roof deck.

‘Relax, relax. Please don’t struggle, you don’t want to to do that. Trust me,’ Lil says in the softest voice possible. ‘Now listen: the eye drops were strychnine. You know about strychnine? Not a nice way to go. Is it, Viv?’

Viv’s face is expressionless. ‘My sources say no.’

‘But this was a nonlethal dose, or ought to be. The key for you now is to avoid harsh stimuli, ok? No loud noises, no bright flashes. With dark and peace and quiet, you should pull through.’

Viv heads back into the building and down the stairs. Lil follows, but pauses in the doorway:

‘I’ve got to go now. Happy Fourth of July. The fireworks will be starting any minute; the view should be superb.’

#

Week Thirty-Five

The “German Girls of Autumn” print is doing well. I’m relieved. Viv was dead set against it for the longest time. It’s rare we can’t come to an agreement.

I gloat a little.

“Hey, Viv. What do you say we wear our ‘Gudrun & Ulrike & Brigitte & Petra & Susanne & Sieglinde & Ingrid & Astrid & Irmgard & Birgit & Angela & Eva & Margrit & Daniela & Ilse & Angelika & Adelheid & Christa & Hanna & Carmen & other Ingrid & Verena & Juliane & Inge & Monika & Gabriele & another Ingrid & Waltraud & Nada & Sabine & Sigrid & Silke’ shirts today? To celebrate sales?”

Her blue eyes blaze. “Ask again later,” she growls.

Sore loser, is Viv. Can never admit when she’s wrong. I love her anyway.

#

Week Forty-One

I’m on my way back from the bodega when I have an idea for the writing. I tap my foot in the elevator and repeat over and over so I don’t forget:

                        Colonic with boiling water colonic with boiling water colonicboilingwater–

I notice the toddler in the stroller smiling up at me. I scowl back and look away.

I get an uncomfortable feeling around small children. Something about their fragility is exciting; always has been. Their dumb trust, their helplessness … I start thinking how easy it would be to hurt them, to make them afraid. I used to babysit, when I was a kid myself. I enjoyed the babies who were just learning how to walk by holding onto things. I’d bend down and take their hands in mine, and step them out into the middle of the room, and then pull my hands away and back up. I liked watching their smiling drooling faces crumple and quiver, their legs shake and they whimper, until their legs buckle and they fall and start crying for real.

Stupid babies. Stupid parents, for thinking they could trust me with their kids because I was a girl.

#

Week Forty-Eight

Their captive looks up as they enter the room.

“I’ve got good news and bad news,” Lil tells him.

“Good news is, your dreams are about to come true. Bad news is, it’s the ones where you lose all your teeth.”

Viv shows him the pliers.

#

Week Fifty-One

One of the sad parts about being left-handed is, it’s harder to get away with murder. They can usually tell when it’s a lefty doing the stabbing and bludgeoning and whatnot. Science reasons.

And if you have to write anything down—letter to your local paper boasting about your crimes, ransom note to the fam, random shit scrawled on walls in the victims’ blood—that telltale lefty smudging will give you away Every. Damn. Time.

#

Week Fifty-Seven

Some dumb bitch in the bodega is staring at my “Juliet & Pauline & Mary & Norma,” aka my “child prodigies,” shirt. I don’t bother explaining these things to the likes of cow eyes.

I was going to make other stops, I need to pick up laundry, but I hurry home instead.

The schedule has really gone to shit. This has dragged on for too long, even for us. I don’t care about the Etsy business anymore; mostly we just write.

Well, I write. Viv is Viv.

‘Careful!’ Lil shouts.

His head snaps up at her voice. Mouth gagged, wrists bound behind his back, eyes saucer-wide.

‘It’s important you don’t step off that stool, ok? If you do, that noose around your neck’s gonna tighten and you will die.’

With a smile, Lil advances and lights the fire beneath the metal stool. It isn’t long before he’s dancing up a storm.

‘Whaddya think?’ Lil asks Viv. ‘Will he keep his feet on the stool?’

‘Very doubtful,’ replies Viv.

#

Week Sixty-Seven

“We must be the difference we want to see in the world, Viv.”

“Yes definitely.”

“So sayeth Starbucks mug Gandhi.”

“You may rely on it.”

“I love that mug.”

“Yes.”

“IRL Gandhi never said it, of course.”

“Very doubtful.”

 “It is a made-up quote from a movie about Gandhi, made by a white dude starring another white dude as Gandhi.”

“It is decidedly so.”

“God I love that mug. Such an inspirational mug.”

“Yes.”

“Viv? I know you’re not much of a talker and that’s ok. I love that we have the kind of relationship where we can sit in comfortable silence together. Yet. I’m starting to need a little more, I think, Viv. Even me. I’m going crazy without anyone to talk to, without hearing anything that isn’t from my own head. I’m sick of TV, and I can’t look at the news. The news is half the reason I’m crazy. Can’t you tell me a story, Viv? Please?”

She hesitates. “Better not tell you now.”

#

Week Seventy

I stare down at the stains on my “Genene & Beverley & Miyuki & Audrey & Velma” shirt. When was the last time I changed shirts?

I look over the day’s writing and groan. I can’t even get excited about writing anymore. Today’s work is a jumble of half-baked fragments.

Man tied to bitch post and repeatedly raped by specially trained female dogs with strap-ons.

Hammering nails through his penis into the floor.

Cut off a dudes dick, stuff in his friends mouth, sew mouth shut. Tell him when they find his body, it’ll be with a dick in his mouth; how gay is that? PS he’s a homophobe.

“I can’t,” I moan. “My brain is mush. Viv, you’re gonna have to start pulling your weight around here. When are you gonna have some ideas for me, Viv?”

“Cannot predict now,” she tells me.

“What the fuck, Viv? When?”

Those blue eyes cloud over. “Reply hazy, try again.”

“I’m not in the mood, Viv. Cut the shit. When?”

“Concentrate and ask again.”

“What are you saying, you’re not making any sense!” I grab her and shake her, hard.

“Talk to me, Viv, please why won’t you talk to me?” I sob, but she just keeps repeating “Reply hazy, try again.”

“Say something real! Talk to me! Please!” I shake her and shake her and shake her, until she can’t say anything at all.


Sara Corris resides in Brooklyn with a dog from London and a spouse from Buffalo. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming at Bending Genres, Defenestration, Horror Sleaze Trash, WryTimes, Funny-ish, Misery Tourism, and Fiction on the Web


Five Dark Poems by Jack Harvey

Moon, Shine On

It's one of those nights
when the moon slips free
of the clouds;
one of those nights
when the wind blows free,
unleashed from the upstarting
contours of the land,
sweeping, rushing across
the wastes of
the immortal boundless sea,
finally arriving 
aimless and energetic 
at some newfound destination.

Moonlight shines
across the long bays,
in which great brother waves
press on
under the moon's bright face,
bright as death's scythe,
press on roaring
until they come to rest,
flat and quiet,
on the moonlit shore.

Heroes young and old
held vigil
on nights like these;
memories of the god-feasts,
the dark woods, the sacred tree
dim and nearly gone now.

In those days witches
could doctor the dark,
pull down the moon
if they had to;
fearful Nicias,
famed Athenian
sent to war in Sicily
didn't need a moon
sunk to earth,
heeded instead
the omen of
a technicolor moon,
dimming to naught;
waited, waited, 
too long hesitating, then
at the wrong time retreating,
led his army to its doom.

But gracious fellow-travelers,
lovers of the glory that was,
these days 
it's the self-same moon,
stripped of portents,
floats over Cuba,
floating over Miami, too,
over a moon-startled girl
feeling her boy
bent over her,
passionate in her,
starting his 
rhapsody of movement.

Overhead, in the heavens,
embarrassed constellations
look off in all directions,
seeing all, and not wanting to see,
goosed, tormented, 
by an expanding universe
sending them on their way
and down below,
by the light of
the silent indifferent moon
a boy and a girl
coming together
in a paratactical now,
in a perfection of now
and no wild Nicias moon
turning red, blue and sallow
to spoil the moment
with foreboding,
to slow or speed
the whole shebang
from measured order 
to some desperate fatal mistake. 

A.U.C.

There is that in God
which is not gaud
                           feeding the chickens
Honorius muttered in Latin,
not brooking a report
that Rome
                    had
how you say?
                            had been
like a chicken
                            its neck wrung.

Jesus, the beautiful faces,
Vestals,
the villas where Sallust
the beautiful noble stones
the shithouses, aqueducts, roads
          ROME DEAD?
but she fed the world 
      a long time
                          fed
a line of law
and reason

Respect:
Lars Porsenna
and the bloody emperors
hairy Vandals
                      Alaric alert
Neal
All honor
her hills, her people,
her purple
covered the steppes,
commanded 
the western isles.

In the ruins of Rome,
in Illyria, in Britain,
bitter winter brings down
heaven’s wrath;
hailstones spatter 
like pennies,
clattering on bronze
and marble alike.

We will not see Hadrian
again rebuilding the walls.

Dulce Domum

You can’t hide your hideway
when beggars come calling;
every haven has its day,
every port and refuge;
the cold tomorrows
come out of the distance
like icebergs,
unstable as emperors, 
demanding as children

and food for thought 
feeds no one.
Your secret place, your kingly manse?
Don’t board up all the doors,
your earthly paradise 
has a few snakes inside

and minstrels and other rabble
wait outside
to knock down all.

You alone unhidden
unbidden stand
prominent as a sequoia,
Simon of the stele.
Revelation is God’s alone;
hidden in the deep,
his submarine love
discovers all secret places;
you are naked as 
a jaybird in his sight.

So cast it all away,
armed in your own flesh
go voyaging.
Surrender is a place
impregnable and portable
as heaven. 

Elba

Napoleon,
shake your iron off;
invincible, able
on Elba
you were mourning
ere you saw
the glory of the days
coming and the days
twisted up, by-
gone.

Dearth

Blonde she was
on the boulevard,
in moonlight,
in crescent of
moon-grin;
golden hairs
white as Lear’s
under moonlight;
the old power
coming easy as
Paris faring
through the
Dardanelles. 

The moon, flat
as a cookie,
sails higher;
wreaths of smoke
lie fallow in space.

But blonde on a
bicycle goes fast
and quiet;
the ripple of her
passing disturbs 
all of us,
wandering on
the foreshore
of no adventure.

Home, Palinurus;
turn the rudder
and home.
No blondes heave to
in the moonlight;
your bed, empty
and wide
as a car,
awaits you.


A.U.C  was published 14 years ago in Poetry Bay, Dulce Domum in 2017 in Pif Magazine, Elba several years ago in Zombie Logic Review, and Dearth in Duane’s Poetree. Moon has never been published.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Chamber Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.


“Russell’s Story” Dark Comedy-Horror by Philip Laverty

Hi, my name is Russell. Please don’t laugh…Well, OK, laugh if you want to. After all, I laugh at it every day.

     Here I go, heading off to work in the library. It opens at ten o’clock. I’ll get there at nine-twenty, going at this rate; but now I’m speeding up and…I’m running to catch the bus! Why? Because the library is an erotic place filled with young, bored women who want a quickie before opening time. Well, one bored woman in her forties. I’m in my forties too, but only just.

     The doors are locked. She should be here by now. Wait, here she comes. Look at her legs. She’s all right. I mean, for a librarian she’s OK. I get a kiss on the cheek. I’m lucky I’m getting that, to be honest. Discretion, you see, is a must, because Sarah (or Sadie) is married.

     ‘Sorry I’m late,’ she says.

     ‘That’s OK, honey.’

     ‘Don’t call me that.’ She’s laughing a little as she says this, so it’s OK. We’re not really fighting. ‘Not here.’

     ‘Not here? You think Danny -’ that’s her husband – ‘might see us?’

     ‘Shut up.’

     Inside: it’s a really nice library. Well, I mean, it’s all pretty basic, but I like it. Where’s Sadie?

     ‘Sadie? Sadie.’

     ‘Shut up. Come up.’

     There she is. How did she get up there? That’s my favourite thing about this library: the winding, black metal stairs in the middle of the floor. I used to run up and down them when I was a kid.

I’m running up them now, checking my watch. Forty-five minutes until the doors open. We can take an hour if we want, really. We won’t. Well, we might. You never know.

     I think I’ll take her into the newspapers and magazines room. No, wait – she wants to do it in the children’s section. That’s good too.

     ‘Wait, I’m not sure I like the idea of that.’

     ‘Don’t be an idiot, Russell.’

     ‘An idiot? I’m not an idiot.’

     ‘Get in here,’ she says, dragging me into the children’s section. She clears some Harry Potter books off a low table and we do it right there. ‘Oh, Russell,’ she moans. ‘Do it. Do it, Russell.

     When it’s over, we have a coffee. I have a coffee while she clears up the books. Or I clear up the books. I’m not all that keen on coffee. I don’t mind it, but I prefer tea.

     Listen, I’ve been meaning to ask you, do you think I look…odd? Not odd. Do you think I look strange?

     Sadie says I’m fit. I think her and Danny are going through a bad patch.

#

If this story hinges on one moment, then it’s the one coming up now. Here I am coming out of the children’s library, passing the reference library, coming down the stairs.  It hinges on the moment I turn the corner as I come off the final step. I see Sadie lying on the floor.

     She’s bleeding, and she has her hand on her stomach.

‘Sadie. Bloody hell.’

     Yes, that’s what I said. I can’t believe I said it, but I did. Nothing’s ever going to wipe that from my memory.

     ‘Bloody hell, Sadie…’

     Not once, but twice. That’s got to be…Well, I don’t suppose it’s a record or anything.

     I kneel down beside her. I want to take her head in my hand the way they do in films, but I’m frightened of getting blood on me.

     I say: ‘Sadie. Jesus.’ I stand up. ‘It’s OK. It’s OK, honey, I’ll phone an ambulance.’

     ‘No.’

     My god, she’s talking.

     ‘What is it, honey?’

     ‘No…Not…honey…Stupid bastard.’

     ‘It’s OK.’

     As I’m saying this, a thought occurs to me; and even as I fight to repress it, to argue internally against its insanity, I’m rushing forward to make it a reality.

     I wait until Sadie’s dead, and then I get some packaging tape and bin bags. I wrap her up like the Christmas present from Hell. I keep saying that to myself as I’m wrapping her up: you’re like the Christmas present from Hell, honey.

     So, it’s mop-up time. The blood is everywhere by now, really messy. I’m pretty good at things like this. Not covering up murders, but cleaning.

     Twenty minutes does it. I place Sadie in the storeroom with the buckets and the other cleaning equipment, and I start worrying about what I’m going to do with her as I open the doors. Old Pete, an eight-book-a-week octogenarian, shuffles in.

     ‘I took one of your recommendations.’ he says a few moments later, having quickly selected his books. He’s holding up a copy of Lucky Jim.

     ‘Yeah, that’s one of my favourites.’

     ‘This was inside.’

     He hands me a folded-up piece of paper. My name is written on it in red ink.

     I’m pretty excited at this point. This is all very weird. Well, it’s a bit weird anyway. It might not be anything, to tell you the truth.

     I unfold the piece of paper. It reads: ‘Russell, I am not there anymore. You may look for me, but you will not find me. Love, Sadie.’

     Upstairs, I find a length of orange cord lying on the floor. This mystery is put to the back of my mind as I head for the storeroom.

     The storeroom: The door is still locked. You see? I didn’t take any chances. I make sure the coast is clear, unlock it and there she is…No, wait, she’s gone. Shit. You see? Sometimes caution is no safeguard against disaster.

     I am minus one dead body. Was she dead? She looked dead. I don’t suppose that’s any guarantee, though. Maybe death, like a lot of other things, isn’t what it used to be.

     The calm of realising that you have lost the only dead body you’ve ever tried to hide.

     Of course, things are not always what they seem. For example, you may think I’m an ordinary-looking guy. You may not think I look ordinary at all. Come to think of it…Look, this all comes down to what I was talking about earlier on: do you think I look strange? You don’t have to answer right now, but this is a subject we’ll return to again and again. It concerns me…Let’s forget about it.

     I’m not ordinary. Surprised? Well, obviously not, there’s nothing to be particularly surprised about yet. But listen: I’m a killer. Maybe that’s not the right word. Murderer is more like it. I’d say I’m from the anorak-wearing school of grey pavement stalking, with the slow crawl past the school gate, garden gate, or…Gates are great. You can always depend on gates: the comings and the goings. I especially like mid-mornings: Dad’s gone and the kids are away, and here comes Mum, all alone, all preoccupied, and I make my move. Yes, I’d have to say that gates plus mid-mornings equal success.

     So, I stabbed Sadie. After we had sex, she went downstairs. I waited for about a minute, and then I followed her down.

     So (wow!), Sadie’s gone. I’m not fond of the storeroom either. I mean, mops.

     Who knows where she’s gone? She’s walked out before, but that was then, and this is now. Things have changed, for Sadie perhaps more than any of us.

#

She was definitely dead when I last saw her. I know dead. Dead is my thing.

     OK, so someone’s obviously taken her. The list of suspects is surprisingly small at this stage. Aliens, maybe. That would be good.  Aliens would be unlikely to go to the police.

     Now, let’s skip ahead a few hours. I’m in Danny’s haunt, a pub with zero charm.

     Danny thinks it’s nice. He’s sitting across from me now.

     ‘Want a drink?’ he asks. He’s a pretty decent guy.

     ‘No thanks.’

What am I supposed to do, just come right out and say it?

     ‘I know Sadie’s seeing someone,’ he says.

     ‘Do you?’

     ‘Yes…It’s not you, is it?’

     ‘What if it is?’ Why did I say that?

     ‘You mean would I break your neck? Probably.’

     ‘It’s not me, Danny. I came here to ask you something.’

     ‘What.’

     ‘Did you do it?’

     ‘Do what.’

     ‘Please, Danny, don’t mess me about.’

     ‘Are you insane?’

     ‘No, I’m not’

 I try to make it sound like a joke, but I suppose, in a way, he’s right.

     ‘Are you taking the piss? I knew it was a bad idea agreeing to see you. You’re a weirdo, and if I find out you’re who Sadie’s seeing, I willbreak your neck. Bet on it.’

Having watched him storm out, I decide to head to the toilet, and it’s in here that things take on a new colour.

Your senses become heightened when you’re doing a shit in a cubicle with a broken lock. I can hear noises on the old cobblestones outside. It’s either high heels or hooves.

     I sit there for about ten minutes, the shape of the toilet seat getting imprinted on my arse. I sit and I rationalise: I mean, even if there is someone out there, so what? I stand up, wipe my arse, step out of the cubicle and take a deep breath.

     I’m about to walk out when I hear it again, that movement outside: clip-clop. I can see something through the frosted glass.

     I put my ear to the window. Whoever it is has stopped moving.

     This is it now: the precise moment when things change. Even as it’s happening, this mad event, this cosmic moment, I’m wholeheartedly rejecting it.

#

  You would reject it too–I know you would. If I could ever bring myself to tell you what happened to me next, you would reject the whole thing. You would agree with me. You would think, Yeah, Russell’s right; that couldn’t have happened; that’s total bullshit.

    #

I am in total denial about what happened in that toilet, and I’m determinedly going about my business as normal.

     At least I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to put Sadie. That would have been a real problem for me. You see my old plot has gained a little heat. One of my old victims has been unearthed, and it’s been all over the local rag.

     Wherever Sadie’s gone, she obviously doesn’t want me following her. Relationships end, and that’s the truth of the matter. People drift apart. 

     Actually, I think I’m starting to look more normal by the day. What do you think?

     A pale-faced little Harry Potter fan chucked up his lunch, so I need a mop. I stand before the storeroom, stare at its closed door. Don’t be an idiot, Russell. Oh, Russell. Do it. Do it, Russell. Here goes; I’m going to do it. I reach out, turn the handle, and…Pow! I burst into the room.

     Oh, holy crap!  How the hell do I describe this?

It looks like a woman, but her hair is moving. The face is covered in sores or wounds, and these sores or wounds have maggots crawling out of them. She’s naked.

This is the same thing that attacked me in the gents. It crashed its head through the window as I stood listening. I dare say you can understand why I suppressed that shit.

     I’m moving at such a rate that I fall down the stairs. I’m pretty clumsy, actually, when it comes right down to it.

     I’ve been working out. I like the gym. I like watching T.V. on the exercise bike.

     Oh, Christ, get off me, you stinking bitch. I…That hurts…She’s just grabbed my balls. The bitch has me by the balls.

     ‘I really love you, Russell.’

     The voice rings a bell.

     ‘Kerry?’

She loosens her grip. My balls will hurt for a few days, no doubt about it. Complete bed rest for them, I think. I’ll pamper them.

‘Kerry, is that you?’

     ‘I saw it, Russell. I knew it would happen.’

     Now, Kerry is definitely dead. She was also, until very recently, buried in the woods behind the crematorium. No one knew where the body was. I was careful. I’m always careful. The circumstances of the discovery were bizarre in that the body was dug up and just left there. No one alerted the police. Some kids playing cowboys – presumably the only children on the planet who still do this – took credit for the grisly find. They didn’t dig the body up though: the authorities were confident of that.  So, who did, and why? And how did they know where to look?

     I’m lying at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at them as they spiral up into the infinity of my ebbing consciousness. To be floating in that infinity now, with Perseus, Zeus, Pegasus and Andromeda, as they take more definite form out of the constellations. I am here, though, with my ex straddling me.

     ‘I really love you, Russell.’

     ‘I know you do, honey.’

     ‘I saw it, Russell.’

     ‘What did you see?’

     ‘I saw what you’d do.’

     ‘Really?’ Really? She saw that?

     ‘I saw you killing me. I read it, Russell. I read your journal.’

     That’s right, I keep a journal.

     As she talks, her features soften. She is becoming the Kerry of long-cherished memory.

She’s talking about the day she stumbled across my journal. We’d been together about seven months at the time. I knew what I was going to do to her; I had it all mapped out in my head. She was a bit special, though, so I kept putting it off. She was into magic and things like that. She used to take me to these shops where they sold a lot of weird stuff.

     ‘Your journal is the most frightening thing I’ve ever read.’ I think that’s putting it a bit strong. She’s a bit irritating. If you were going to choose any of your murder victims to come back to life, Kerry would be at the bottom of your list.

     ‘It was all there: everyone you’ve murdered. And then I saw it, Russell: I foresaw my own death. I could smell the woods and the grass under my feet. You were behind me. You were talking about films; and then you put the knife in my back and held your hand over my mouth as you lowered me gently to the ground. I saw all of this as I sat at the desk, your journal lying open in front of me. You came into the room then and asked what I was doing. I closed the journal over as quickly as I could, but I think you knew that I had been reading it, and that was what made up your mind. The only thing I could think of to do was cast a Vengeance Spell.’

     She used to say crap like that all the time. She had a spell for everything, but they didn’t have anything going for them and seemed to revolve around incense and potpourri.

     ‘I would use seven knots to bind my spirit to earth.’ Knots! See what I mean? ‘I took a length of orange curtain cord and sat in a circle of altar candles. I tied the first of the seven knots in the middle of the cord. I recited the spell: ‘I’ve knotted one, the spell’s begun.’ Then I tied another knot at the extreme left end: ‘I’ve knotted two, it cometh true.’ Another at the extreme right: ‘I’ve knotted three, so will it be.’ Between the left and the centre: ‘I’ve knotted four, its strength is more.’ Between the right and the centre: ‘I’ve knotted five, it comes alive.’ Midway between the knots on the left-hand side: ‘I’ve knotted six, the spell to fix.’ And midway between the knots on the right-hand side: ‘I’ve knotted seven, the stars of heaven.’’

     To be honest, at the moment magic cords are the least of what I’m willing to accept.

     ‘The idea of the Vengeance Spell is that, seven days before her own death, the next victim will be drawn to the cord. She’ll untie the knots, which have bound your spirit to earth and, at the moment of her death, she will be possessed with this self-same spirit.’

What else jumped into Sadie’s body? Maybe there were a few demons kicking around in the spirit world with Kerry after Sadie released her from the cord.

     ‘So, you had the cord on you when I killed you? And then Sadie was drawn to it and dug you up to get it.’

     ‘Yes. Don’t worry, Russell, you’re not going to jail.’

     ‘Where am I going?’

     ‘I haven’t decided yet.’

     ‘What’s it a choice between?’

     ‘Staying here and going to Hell.’

     ‘So, if you leave me here and don’t take me to Hell, will that mean you’ve decided to let me off the hook?’

     ‘That all depends on whether you behave or not after I let you go.’

     ‘I promise, Kerry. Please.’

     She says she’ll watch me for a while and that will give me time to think about it, too, give me time to consider whether I even believe myself. Will I kill again? Good question.

     When she goes, it’s like losing a memory, and I hate that. 

     First, I lose the sense of what she looked like: was she solid or transparent like a ghost? Then I lose the memory of her return and of Sadie’s death.

Finally, I lose the thread of what I have been thinking for the last few days. I’ve been talking to you. But who are you?

     Where was I? Oh yeah, my name is Russell. Please don’t laugh…Well, laugh if you want to.      After all, I laugh at it every day.


I am forty-six and am currently working on a new horror story while editing various other pieces and trying to place them with publishers and agents. I live in Scotland with my two daughters. My main literary influences are M.R. James, Stephen King and Martin Amis.


“No Talking in the Library” Horror by T.L. Beeding

The ancient wooden sign nailed to the wall behind the librarian’s desk always struck Hailey as strange. It looked slapped together in haste, made with with rusted nails sticking out at all angles and rotting wood that stunk of decay. The sign was a permanent fixture in the old building, hung at a time the town of Elmwood had long since forgotten. No one could remember when it was placed there – or why. Yet no one could ever bring themselves to take it down. Even though it was hideous and required constant treatment for mold, it remained proudly displayed.

But the strangest thing about the sign wasn’t its vague history or Elmwood’s over-protectiveness of it. It was the peeling white paint, scrawled across the splintered surface by an obvious trembling hand.

DO NOT SPEAK ILL OF THE BOOKS. THEY CAN HEAR YOU.

It was clearly a wisecrack made by the establishment’s founder. A clever way to remind the patrons of the golden rule: no talking in the library. But it was so odd to be phrased in such a way. Like some type of warning – to keep lips sealed for more than just the sake of others trying to read.  

Guess they would figure it out one way or another tonight.

Hailey pressed herself flat to the scratchy carpet between bookshelves, peeling her eyes from the sign as heeled footsteps rapped up the aisle on the left. They echoed around the vaulted ceiling, passing the bookshelf she hid behind on their way to the desk by the front door. The librarian came into view between the heavy oak cases, sniffing heavily and pulling open a drawer. She retrieved an alcohol wipe from within, turning to the sign and standing on tip-toe. Manicured fingers gently pressed the wipe into the divots and cracks in the planks. It came away black; she instantly dropped it into the trash can beside her desk. 

“Disgusting,” the librarian mouthed silently, disdain pulling her features taut.

Rubbing the remaining filth from her hands, she plucked the parka from the back of her leather chair and slung it across her bony shoulders. Then she pulled the front doors open, to the wintry blizzard beginning to kick up outside. Without looking back she punched a code into the alarm pad, took a ring of keys from her pocket, then slammed the heavy wooden door closed. The lock clicked loudly into the silence that followed. 

After a full minute of waiting, there was movement three aisles over.

“Took her long enough to leave.”

Hailey tucked her knees beneath her, shimmying her way to stand sideways between the tightly spaced bookshelves. Several slow shuffle-steps later, she emerged into the darkened library’s main aisle. Coming up between the rows, Tina brushed flecks of dust and lint from her jeans.

“This place is disgusting,” she grumbled, coming to stand at Hailey’s side.

“It’s old,” Hailey remarked, gazing around. The dim streetlamp outside was the only source of light, and it wasn’t much. It cast a pale, sickly glow across the leather-bound tomes that lined sturdy shelves on both floors – and across the creepy old sign, too. Like a ghostly presence, waiting for the girls to make a false move. The hair on her arms prickled. “I don’t think we should be doing this…”

Tina’s brown eyes narrowed into a frown. “You’re going to chicken out now?”

Hailey shrugged. Unable to take her eyes from the sign.

“Well, it’s too late, now,” Tina snapped, stepping around her. She stomped toward the librarian’s desk, tugging on pants too tight for her bulky hips. “Mrs. Lackey set the alarm, so even if we wanted to leave we can’t. We’d get caught and have our asses creamed by our parents. You’ll just have to wait until morning.”

Hailey swallowed, watching Tina pull the office chair from the desk. She thrust it against the wall, steadying its wobbling frame before planting one foot on its cushion. Then she hoisted herself to both feet. Fat hands reached for the decrepit sign, grasping it firmly on both sides.

“Tina, stop,” Hailey mumbled weakly.

“No,” Tina grunted, tugging on the boards with all her might. They creaked, but didn’t budge. “This piece of garbage is coming down tonight.”

“We’re going to get in trouble…”

“We’ll be doing Elmwood a favor, Hailey. This thing stinks – just like all the books in this godforsaken place.” She struggled, tugging harder. “Ugh, why won’t this thing move!”

A heavy slam from the upper floor thundered around the library. Hailey’s heart plummeted to her feet; she clapped a hand to her mouth, peering up through the railing above. Trying desperately to see through the thick, swirling shadows.

“What was that?” she whispered.

Tina didn’t answer. Hailey turned to find her frozen to the spot, listening intently with wide eyes. Her fingers slowly slipped from the sign as she lowered herself from the chair, eyes fixed to the upper floor above Hailey’s head.

“It sounded like something fell,” she replied softly. She brushed mold and splinters from her hands onto her jeans, moving around the desk – heading for the stairs. “C’mon. It was probably just one of these shitty old books.”

“Are you crazy?”

Tina ignored her, disappearing up the stairs two at a time. After a long pause Hailey followed, clenching her fists nervously as the darkness thickened. Ahead at the landing, a bright spot of light told her Tina had turned the flashlight on her phone to see. Hailey walked faster as the light disappeared between bookshelves.

“Wait for me!”

The light stopped moving just inside the aisle. Hailey reached it in three strides, turning. Finding Tina standing at the entrance, her phone light focused on a book that had fallen from one of the shelves. Its yellowed pages were open, a fresh cloud of dust pluming between them. An inked illustration filled one of the pages. Hailey narrowed her eyes; once the dust settled, she was finally able to see what it was.

Hansel and Gretel, pushing the witch into the oven.

“How did it fall?” she asked quietly.

“I don’t know.” Tina took a step forward. Shining her light closer to the ancient pages. “It’s a big one…someone must have left it on the edge of the shelf or something.” Another step closer. “Probably some dumb kid, seeing as it’s a fairytale.” She shut the book with her tip of her toes, expelling another cloud of dust into the air. “Where does this thing belong?”

Hailey glanced at the shelves to either side. A variety of spines, old and tattered, stared back at her from the shadows. “I’m not sure…this doesn’t look like the children’s section at all.”

Tina pocketed her phone and leaned forward, picking the book up with both hands. She flipped it back open, yellowed pages falling from her fingertips. Returning to the page they had discovered it on. Her cheeks dimpled as she chewed them. “I’ve always hated fairytales. Have I told you that?”

“No. Why?”

Tina’s rubbery lips pursed. “My mom always read them to me at night when I was a kid, then would rag on me about whatever ‘lesson’ the story was teaching. Red Riding Hood earned me an hour lecture about how I never listened to her and went my own way, like Red did. Cinderella was that I never worked hard enough.” Her lips spread into a scowl, tapping the illustration angrily. “But Hansel and Gretel was the worst. Not only was she always on me about my weight, but she was convinced that my ‘bad attitude’ was because I was apparently studying witchcraft. She’d always tell me that I’d be burned at the stake one day for it.” The fingers curled into a fist. “Guess that’s what happens when you have a controlling, religious bitch for a mother.”     

Hailey frowned. “I…never knew that. I’m sorry.”

Tina shook her head, shifting the book in her hands. Testing its weight in her palms. “Whatever. I’m used to it. I’m just going to hear it again tomorrow. And the next day.” Fingers shifted up across the pages, grasping the book on either side of the spine. Her face darkened. “At least she doesn’t read me fairytales anymore.” Cracks spider-webbed across the ancient spine, snapping as Tina began to pull it apart.

“Tina, don’t!” Hailey shouted, throwing up a hand.

Tina didn’t respond, but she appeared to heed Hailey’s plight. The book slipped from her fingers, slamming to the floor in another cloud of dust. It took a moment for Hailey to realize her friend was trembling. Terrified.  Staring at the open pages. Confused, she leaned forward for a better look. The inked illustration of Hansel and Gretel on the page was moving. Black lines slithered across the time-worn parchment, like snakes through the grass. Rising across the page to form scratchy words; words similar to the ones scrawled across the old sign downstairs.

WITCHES GET BURNED.

 The obese witch being shoved into the flaming oven turned her head back, mouth open in a silent scream – but it wasn’t the witch at all. Her face was youthful, with a button nose, chubby cheeks and wide brown eyes.  

It was Tina.

“What the—”

The pages of the book burst into angry, sputtering flames. Thick, black smoke curled upward, filling the vaulted ceiling in a dark, brooding cloud of death. Flames licked outward in all directions, scalding Hailey’s arms and cheeks. She screamed, throwing herself backward – landing on her backside, just out of danger’s reach.

But Tina wasn’t so lucky. Charred arms, blackened to the gristle and bone, shot from the depths of the hellfire and grasped Tina’s ankle as she turned to flee. The girl fell flat on her face, a blast of air escaping her lungs in a scream. The bony hands began to pull her backward.

Help me!” she squealed, nails tearing jagged lines into the bristly carpet. A few of them were ripped clean from her fingertips.

Too frightened to move, Hailey could only watch as her friend was slowly devoured by the book. Flames lapped Tina’s body, singeing hair and cooking flesh. Her screams became sharp, wailing; and then, all at once, they were gone. She disappeared into the smoke and fire, extinguished along with the flames as the book snapped itself closed. The acrid cloud caught in the triangular eaves above dissolved, leaving nothing behind but silence and a bloody trail of scratches and broken fingernails on the floor. 

Hailey’s throat went dry, squeezing closed as she stared numbly at the cracked leather cover of the book. It lay still, waiting patiently to be returned to its place. Tears burned themselves from Hailey’s eyes, a terrified scream erupting from her lungs.

“What the fuck!

 To either side of the aisle, the ancient bookshelves began to rattle threateningly. She scrabbled to her feet, pounding back down the stairs as fast as her trembling legs would allow. She slammed against the front door, searching for the deadbolt to free herself from the nightmare. To her horror, she discovered the door could only be unlocked one way – from the outside.

Swallowing around the lump in her throat, Hailey pressed her back to the cold metal. Above the librarian’s desk, the rotting sign and its peeling paint glowed softly, framed by light from the windows. Hailey sank to the floor, clammy hands clamped across her mouth. Staring at the sign and its one golden rule: do not speak ill of the books. A warning sign indeed.


T.L. Beeding is a single mother from Kansas City, MO. She is co-editor of Crow’s Feet Magazine and Paramour Ink, and is a featured author for Black Ink Fiction. When she is not writing, T.L. works at a busy orthopedic hospital, mending broken bones. She can be found on Twitter at @tlbeeding. 


Contents

“No Talking in the Library” Horror by T.L. Beeding

“Russell’s Story” Dark Comedy-Horror by Philip Laverty

Five Dark Poems by Jack Harvey

“The Lesbian Dinosaurs Are Coming to Murder Your Asses” Dark Psychological Fiction by Sara Corris

“Sifting Through the Ashes” Dark Supernatural Flash Fiction by Shelly Jones

“So Long As I Don’t Look Up” Dark Flash Fiction by Jonathan Williams

Appearing in The Chamber January 28

New issues appear Fridays at 10:00 a.m. CDT/ 4:00 p.m. BST/ 8:30 p.m. IST/ 1:00 a.m. AEST (Saturdays).

“No Talking in the Library” Horror by T.L. Beeding

T.L. Beeding is a single mother from Kansas City, MO. She is co-editor of Crow’s Feet Magazine and Paramour Ink, and is a featured author for Black Ink Fiction. When she is not writing, T.L. works at a busy orthopedic hospital, mending broken bones. She can be found on Twitter at @tlbeeding. 

“Russell’s Story” Dark Comedy-Horror by Philip Laverty

Mr. Laverty notes: “I am forty-six and am currently working on a new horror story while editing various other pieces and trying to place them with publishers and agents. I live in Scotland with my two daughters. My main literary influences are M.R. James, Stephen King and Martin Amis.”

Five Dark Poems by Jack Harvey

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Chamber Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

“The Lesbian Dinosaurs Are Coming to Murder Your Asses” Dark Psychological Fiction by Sara Corris

Sara Corris resides in Brooklyn with a dog from London and a spouse from Buffalo. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming at Bending Genres, Defenestration, Horror Sleaze Trash, WryTimes, Funny-ish, Misery Tourism, and Fiction on the Web.

“Sifting Through the Ashes” Dark Supernatural Flash Fiction by Shelly Jones

Shelly Jones, PhD (she/they) is a Professor of English at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches classes in mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work has previously appeared in Podcastle, New Myths, The Future Fire, and elsewhere.

 

“So Long As I Don’t Look Up” Dark Flash Fiction by Jonathan Williams

Mr. Williams notes: “I’ve been writing for a long time. However, I recently realised that I write to process and understand myself and the world around me. I write for its freedom. And I write with the hope of finding my freedom outside the world of writing as well.”

Next Issue: February 4

Appearing in The Chamber January 28

New issues appear Fridays at 10:00 a.m. CDT/ 4:00 p.m. BST/ 8:30 p.m. IST/ 1:00 a.m. AEST (Saturdays).

“No Talking in the Library” Horror by T.L. Beeding

T.L. Beeding is a single mother from Kansas City, MO. She is co-editor of Crow’s Feet Magazine and Paramour Ink, and is a featured author for Black Ink Fiction. When she is not writing, T.L. works at a busy orthopedic hospital, mending broken bones. She can be found on Twitter at @tlbeeding. 

“Russell’s Story” Dark Comedy-Horror by Philip Laverty

Mr. Laverty notes: “I am forty-six and am currently working on a new horror story while editing various other pieces and trying to place them with publishers and agents. I live in Scotland with my two daughters. My main literary influences are M.R. James, Stephen King and Martin Amis.”

Five Dark Poems by Jack Harvey

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Chamber Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

“The Lesbian Dinosaurs Are Coming to Murder Your Asses” Dark Psychological Fiction by Sara Corris

Sara Corris resides in Brooklyn with a dog from London and a spouse from Buffalo. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming at Bending Genres, Defenestration, Horror Sleaze Trash, WryTimes, Funny-ish, Misery Tourism, and Fiction on the Web.

“Sifting Through the Ashes” Dark Supernatural Flash Fiction by Shelly Jones

Shelly Jones, PhD (she/they) is a Professor of English at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches classes in mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work has previously appeared in Podcastle, New Myths, The Future Fire, and elsewhere.

 

“So Long As I Don’t Look Up” Dark Flash Fiction by Jonathan Williams

Mr. Williams notes: “I’ve been writing for a long time. However, I recently realised that I write to process and understand myself and the world around me. I write for its freedom. And I write with the hope of finding my freedom outside the world of writing as well.”

Next Issue: February 4

Call for Submissions from Around the World

The Chamber Magazine wants to publish short, dark fiction and poetry of any and all genres from around the world, regardless of country of origin. Length can be up to 7,500 words. Genres The Chamber is seeking include, but are not limited to: horror, dystopian, fantasy, grimdark, action-adventure, suspense/ thriller, literary, science-fiction, historical, mystery/ crime, noir, romance, Western, experimental, cyberpunk, steampunk, weird fiction, gothic/ goth, general, creepypastas, humor or of any combination of the above.

The primary criterion is that your work must be in English. It can be a translation from your native language, but a translation must accompany it in English for maximum exposure around the globe.

For more information on what I am accepting and on the submissions guidelines, please go to my submissions page.

Please note that there is no pay for this other than a publication credit and exposure to the English-speaking markets. However, all rights remain with the author.

Call for Submissions from Around the World

The Chamber Magazine wants to publish short, dark fiction and poetry of any and all genres from around the world, regardless of country of origin. Length can be up to 7,500 words. Genres The Chamber is seeking include, but are not limited to, the following:

horror
dystopian
fantasy
grimdark
action-adventure
suspense/thriller
literary
science fiction
historical
mystery/crime
noir
romance
Western
experimental
cyberpunk
steampunk
weird fiction
gothic (literary genre)
goth (contemporary subculture)
general
creepypastas
humor
any mixture of the above

The primary criterion is that your work must be in English. It can be a translation from your native language, but a translation must accompany it in English for maximum exposure around the globe.

For more information on what I am accepting and on the submissions guidelines, please go to my submissions page.

Please note that there is no pay for this other than a publication credit and exposure to the American and English markets. However, all rights remain with the author.

Submit Your Dark Fiction and Poetry to The Chamber

The Chamber Magazine is seeking articles, reviews, essays, poems, and short stories of approximately 7,500 words (note revised word limit) 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.

Welcome genres include:

  • horror
  • fantasy
  • action-adventure
  • suspense/thriller
  • literary
  • science fiction
  • historical
  • mystery/crime
  • noir
  • romance
  • Western
  • experimental
  • cyberpunk
  • steampunk
  • weird fiction
  • gothic
  • general
  • humor
  • any mixture of the above

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.

Appearing in The Chamber January 28

New issues appear Fridays at 10:00 a.m. CDT/ 4:00 p.m. BST/ 8:30 p.m. IST/ 1:00 a.m. AEST (Saturdays).

“No Talking in the Library” Horror by T.L. Beeding

T.L. Beeding is a single mother from Kansas City, MO. She is co-editor of Crow’s Feet Magazine and Paramour Ink, and is a featured author for Black Ink Fiction. When she is not writing, T.L. works at a busy orthopedic hospital, mending broken bones. She can be found on Twitter at @tlbeeding. 

“Russell’s Story” Dark Comedy-Horror by Philip Laverty

Mr. Laverty notes: “I am forty-six and am currently working on a new horror story while editing various other pieces and trying to place them with publishers and agents. I live in Scotland with my two daughters. My main literary influences are M.R. James, Stephen King and Martin Amis.”

Five Dark Poems by Jack Harvey

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Chamber Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

“The Lesbian Dinosaurs Are Coming to Murder Your Asses” Dark Psychological Fiction by Sara Corris

Sara Corris resides in Brooklyn with a dog from London and a spouse from Buffalo. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming at Bending Genres, Defenestration, Horror Sleaze Trash, WryTimes, Funny-ish, Misery Tourism, and Fiction on the Web.

“Sifting Through the Ashes” Dark Supernatural Flash Fiction by Shelly Jones

Shelly Jones, PhD (she/they) is a Professor of English at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches classes in mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work has previously appeared in Podcastle, New Myths, The Future Fire, and elsewhere.

 

“So Long As I Don’t Look Up” Dark Flash Fiction by Jonathan Williams

Mr. Williams notes: “I’ve been writing for a long time. However, I recently realised that I write to process and understand myself and the world around me. I write for its freedom. And I write with the hope of finding my freedom outside the world of writing as well.”

Next Issue: February 4

Appearing in The Chamber January 28

New issues appear Fridays at 10:00 a.m. CDT/ 4:00 p.m. BST/ 8:30 p.m. IST/ 1:00 a.m. AEST (Saturdays).

“No Talking in the Library” Horror by T.L. Beeding

T.L. Beeding is a single mother from Kansas City, MO. She is co-editor of Crow’s Feet Magazine and Paramour Ink, and is a featured author for Black Ink Fiction. When she is not writing, T.L. works at a busy orthopedic hospital, mending broken bones. She can be found on Twitter at @tlbeeding. 

“Russell’s Story” Dark Comedy-Horror by Philip Laverty

Mr. Laverty notes: “I am forty-six and am currently working on a new horror story while editing various other pieces and trying to place them with publishers and agents. I live in Scotland with my two daughters. My main literary influences are M.R. James, Stephen King and Martin Amis.”

Five Dark Poems by Jack Harvey

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Chamber Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

“The Lesbian Dinosaurs Are Coming to Murder Your Asses” Dark Psychological Fiction by Sara Corris

Sara Corris resides in Brooklyn with a dog from London and a spouse from Buffalo. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming at Bending Genres, Defenestration, Horror Sleaze Trash, WryTimes, Funny-ish, Misery Tourism, and Fiction on the Web.

“Sifting Through the Ashes” Dark Supernatural Flash Fiction by Shelly Jones

Shelly Jones, PhD (she/they) is a Professor of English at SUNY Delhi, where she teaches classes in mythology, folklore, and writing. Her speculative work has previously appeared in Podcastle, New Myths, The Future Fire, and elsewhere.

 

“So Long As I Don’t Look Up” Dark Flash Fiction by Jonathan Williams

Mr. Williams notes: “I’ve been writing for a long time. However, I recently realised that I write to process and understand myself and the world around me. I write for its freedom. And I write with the hope of finding my freedom outside the world of writing as well.”

Next Issue: February 4

The Latest Issue of The Chamber is Out!

New issues appear Fridays at 10:00 a.m. CDT/ 4:00 p.m. BST/ 8:30 p.m. IST/ 1:00 a.m. AEST (Saturdays).

“The Midnight Mountain” (Part 2 of 2) Dark Social Realism by Chad Hindman

David Chad Hindman is an attorney and public defender in Nashville, TN. Besides writing and his family, he is committed to the struggle for equal justice, compassion, and dignity for all on a daily basis. His work has previously been published in Eclectica Magazine.  

Three Dark Poems by Toshihisa Nikaido

Toshihisa Nikaido has worked on popular video game series such as Resident Evil, Pokémon, and The Legend of Zelda. Toshihisa more recently joined Japan’s space exploration agency for a new challenge while using various forms of writing as a creative outlet and has since been published in several literary journals.

“Inevitable” Dark Flash Fiction by Daniel Mowery

Daniel Mowery lives in Greensboro, NC with his expecting wife and anxious dog.  With degrees in Literature and Creative Writing, he builds houses for a living, and spends his spare time writing to live.

Three Poems by Thomas White

Thomas White has a triple identity: speculative fiction writer, poet, and essayist. His poems, fiction, and essays have appeared in online and print literary journals and magazines in Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He is also a Wiley-Blackwell Journal author who has contributed essays to various nonliterary journals on topics ranging from atheism, the meaning of Evil, Elon Musk, Plato, The Matrix, and reality as a computer simulation. The Encyclopedia Britannica selected one of his previously published essays on Hannah Arendt, Adolph Eichmann, and the “Banality of Evil” for inclusion on its website, Britannica.com.

In addition, he has presented three of his essays to the West Chester University Poetry Conference (West Chester, Pennsylvania), as well as read his poetry on Australian radio. His poetry collection Ghostly Pornographers, published by Weasel Press/Sinister Stoat Press, is available on Kindle and through the publisher’s website.

 

“Liquid Asylum” Dark Flash Fiction by Margaret Sefton

Margaret Sefton has a graduate degree in storytelling but she has always been a professional liar. She may be found cooking up dark fiction and rich stews in a fortified bunker in central Florida. Some of her thoughts and tales may be found on her blog Within a Forest Dark

“The Sixth Cut” Dark, Surreal Fiction by KA Burks

KA Burks lives in Reno, Nevada. Her love of writing goes all the way back to childhood when she used to make her own picture books. After retiring from a career in education, she decided to take up writing full time.

“Rubies on a Mossy Idol” Dark Fiction by Hareendran Kallinkeel

Hareendran Kallinkeel writes from Kerala, India, after a stint of 15 years in a police organization and five years in the Special Forces. His fiction usually tends to be dark and fantastical with some magic realism elements, often portraying racist, fascist, and discriminatory tendencies that still prevail in his social setting in a deceptively subtler form. His recent publications include The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Bryant Literary Review of Bryant University, and El Portal of Eastern New Mexico University, among several others. His fiction is forthcoming shortly in 34 Orchard, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, and Lalitamba Journal. His fiction has been nominated for Pushcart Prize and he is also a finalist of the Best of the Net-2020. 

“Subway” Dark Fiction by Alan Catlin

Alan Catlin is primarily known for poetry but that doesn’t prevent him for mixing and matching prose and poetry as the subject allows.  He has published dozens of full length book and chapbooks, mostly poetry, over the years. Although he is not a genre writer he has somehow managed three Rhysling Prize nominations and a Bram Stoker Award nomination He didn’t win either award.

“Cycles” Dark, Futuristic Flash Fiction by Tony Bolger

Bio pending.

“Deepest Condolences” Dark Flash Fiction by Adrian David

Adrian David writes ads by day and short stories by night. He dabbles in genres including contemporary fiction, psychological thrillers, dark humor, and everything in between, from the mundane to the sublime.

Next Issue: January 28