Appearing in The Chamber April 1

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).

“Useless Things” Dark Fiction by James Mulhern

James Mulhern’s writing has appeared in literary journals over one hundred and seventy times and has been recognized with many awards. In 2015, Mr. Mulhern was granted a fully paid writing fellowship to Oxford University. That same year, a story was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His novel, Give Them Unquiet Dreams, is a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019. He was shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2021 for his poetry. Two of his novels were Finalists for the United Kingdom’s Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

“The Red Eye of Love” Dark Fiction by Len Messineo

Len notes: “Previously published in Shenandoah, Tampa Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, The New Novel Review, The Sun: Journal of Ideas and other magazines, I am a former recipient of the Hugh Luke Award and my stories have twice been nominated for inclusion in the Pushcart Prize anthology. I teach at Writers and Books of Rochester and head up the Artisan Jazz Trio which performs throughout Upstate New York.”

“All the Coney Islands of the Mind” 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.

“Greetings from Krampus” Dark Fiction by Tiffany Renee Harmon

Tiffany Renee Harmon is a writer and artist based out of Cincinnati, OH. She has an MFA from Lindenwood University, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Scarlet Leaf Review, Danse Macabre, and Z Publishing. Her first novel, Suburban Secrets, debuted in 2020. Learn more about her at http://www.tiffanyreneeharmon.com.

“Voice in the Casket” Dark Poem by Bernadette Harris

Bernadette’s work has appeared in a variety of literary magazines, including Ruminate, Braided Way, Introvert, Dear, and The Mindful Word. When she isn’t exploring her latest existential crises, she dabbles in writing children’s literature as well. She can be found at https://www.bernadetteharris.net/. 

“Ideal You Bars” Dark Fiction by Emma Burger

Emma Burger is a writer and young professional working in oncology research. She splits her time between Ann Arbor, Michigan and New York City. Her debut novel, Spaghetti for Starving Girls, was released in September 2021.

“Doctor Dread’s Creative Writing Revolution” Dark Fiction 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…

Three Dark Poems by John Tustin: “The Crush of the Moon”, “Dead Candles”, “Respite”

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

“The Black Curtain” Dark Surrealism by Leonard Henry Scott

Leonard Henry Scott was born and raised in the Bronx and is a graduate of American University, with an MLS degree from the University of Maryland.  He was a long-time staff member of the Library of Congress and he and his wife, Hattie presently reside in National Harbor, Maryland. Len’s fiction has appeared in; The MacGuffin, Mystery Tribune, Straylight Magazine, Crack the Spine and elsewhere.

“Resurrection” Dark Fiction by Kelly Piner

Kelly Piner is a Clinical Psychologist who in her free time, tends to feral cats and searches for Bigfoot in nearby forests. Ms. Piner’s short story “Blackout” was recently published in Scarlet Leaf Review’s anniversary issue. Her story, “Dead and Gone,” was just named Honorable Mention in Allegory’s upcoming issue. Her short story “The Old Man and the Cats” was published by Storgy Magazine. Weirdbook’s annual zombie issue featured Ms. Piner’s short Story “Lazy River.” Her stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. She also has short stories published in The Literary Hatchet, East of the Web and in be-a-better-writer.com. She just completed her first novel, FAT SANDS.

“Medusae” Science-Fiction/Horror by Elana Gomal

Elana Gomel is an academic with a long list of books and articles, specializing in science fiction, Victorian literature, and serial killers. She is also a fiction writer who has published more than a hundred short stories, several novellas, and four novels. She is a member of HWA and can be found at https://www.citiesoflightanddarkness.com/ and at

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/elana.gomel

Twitter   https://twitter.com/ElanaGomel

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/elanagomel/

Next Issue: May 6

 

Appearing in The Chamber April 1

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).

“Useless Things” Dark Fiction by James Mulhern

James Mulhern’s writing has appeared in literary journals over one hundred and seventy times and has been recognized with many awards. In 2015, Mr. Mulhern was granted a fully paid writing fellowship to Oxford University. That same year, a story was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His novel, Give Them Unquiet Dreams, is a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019. He was shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2021 for his poetry. Two of his novels were Finalists for the United Kingdom’s Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

“The Red Eye of Love” Dark Fiction by Len Messineo

Len notes: “Previously published in Shenandoah, Tampa Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, The New Novel Review, The Sun: Journal of Ideas and other magazines, I am a former recipient of the Hugh Luke Award and my stories have twice been nominated for inclusion in the Pushcart Prize anthology. I teach at Writers and Books of Rochester and head up the Artisan Jazz Trio which performs throughout Upstate New York.”

“All the Coney Islands of the Mind” 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.

“Greetings from Krampus” Dark Fiction by Tiffany Renee Harmon

Tiffany Renee Harmon is a writer and artist based out of Cincinnati, OH. She has an MFA from Lindenwood University, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Scarlet Leaf Review, Danse Macabre, and Z Publishing. Her first novel, Suburban Secrets, debuted in 2020. Learn more about her at http://www.tiffanyreneeharmon.com.

“Voice in the Casket” Dark Poem by Bernadette Harris

Bernadette’s work has appeared in a variety of literary magazines, including Ruminate, Braided Way, Introvert, Dear, and The Mindful Word. When she isn’t exploring her latest existential crises, she dabbles in writing children’s literature as well. She can be found at https://www.bernadetteharris.net/. 

“Ideal You Bars” Dark Fiction by Emma Burger

Emma Burger is a writer and young professional working in oncology research. She splits her time between Ann Arbor, Michigan and New York City. Her debut novel, Spaghetti for Starving Girls, was released in September 2021.

“Doctor Dread’s Creative Writing Revolution” Dark Fiction 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…

Three Dark Poems by John Tustin: “The Crush of the Moon”, “Dead Candles”, “Respite”

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

“The Black Curtain” Dark Surrealism by Leonard Henry Scott

Leonard Henry Scott was born and raised in the Bronx and is a graduate of American University, with an MLS degree from the University of Maryland.  He was a long-time staff member of the Library of Congress and he and his wife, Hattie presently reside in National Harbor, Maryland. Len’s fiction has appeared in; The MacGuffin, Mystery Tribune, Straylight Magazine, Crack the Spine and elsewhere.

“Resurrection” Dark Fiction by Kelly Piner

Kelly Piner is a Clinical Psychologist who in her free time, tends to feral cats and searches for Bigfoot in nearby forests. Ms. Piner’s short story “Blackout” was recently published in Scarlet Leaf Review’s anniversary issue. Her story, “Dead and Gone,” was just named Honorable Mention in Allegory’s upcoming issue. Her short story “The Old Man and the Cats” was published by Storgy Magazine. Weirdbook’s annual zombie issue featured Ms. Piner’s short Story “Lazy River.” Her stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. She also has short stories published in The Literary Hatchet, East of the Web and in be-a-better-writer.com. She just completed her first novel, FAT SANDS.

“Medusae” Science-Fiction/Horror by Elana Gomal

Elana Gomel is an academic with a long list of books and articles, specializing in science fiction, Victorian literature, and serial killers. She is also a fiction writer who has published more than a hundred short stories, several novellas, and four novels. She is a member of HWA and can be found at https://www.citiesoflightanddarkness.com/ and at

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/elana.gomel

Twitter   https://twitter.com/ElanaGomel

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/elanagomel/

Next Issue: May 6

 

Interview with Publisher Phil Slattery Now on Duotrope

At Arkansas Post National Memorial near Gillett, Arkansas, 2020

I was recently interviewed by Duotrope about my work on The Chamber Magazine. That interview is now up. Follow this link to read it.

If you are not familiar with Duotrope, they are a submission engine, i.e. they aid writers in finding magazines, book publishers, and agents to print their stories and poetry. The way they do this is by listing important data on magazines, which their subscribers can search. I have used them for several years and they are a very useful tool in finding publishers. They do charge a nominal fee of about $5/month. What you get out of the website is well worth that $5 many times over. If you are a writer, I recommend them highly. Even if don’t write and only read, they will still be very useful in finding the right magazines for you.

While you are there, check out The Chamber’s listing. It is a good example of how they run their website/database.


Update on The Chamber Bookshop

As you may have noticed, among the departments on The Chamber’s homepage is one for The Chamber Bookshop. This is a new feature added for the benefit of not only our readers, but also for our contributors. In the Bookshop you will find not only best-selling fiction, but also works by contributors to The Chamber and writing aids (such as dictionaries, thesauri, grammars, and style manuals) and histories of the English language. You will also find books for the true aficionado of literature such as works by Nobel laureates and winners of the Pulitzer along with a variety of other genres and subjects. Here is a list of our shelves as of March 22, 2022:

  • Authors and Poets Published in The Chamber
  • Best Selling Fiction
  • New Releases
  • Dark Literature
  • Special Section: Learn about Ukraine
  • Classics
  • Nonfiction
  • Philosophy
  • Writing Aids
  • History of the English Language
  • Nobel Laureates in Literature
  • Winners of the Pulitzer Prize

Check the Bookshop frequently. Currently, the selection is small, but growing as The Chamber tries to benefit our readers, but also its contributors and writers in general.

The Saturday Night Special: Circle – Dark Clubbing/ Bass House/ Cyberpunk Megamix

All music videos are collected under the Dark Music playlist on The Chamber’s YouTube channel.

I am going to take this Saturday Night Special thing a little farther and push it a little closer to the clubbing experience by now offering, along with the music, videos on making cocktails. After all, what’s a night on the town without cocktails? The channels/bartenders will vary, but this is clubbing, going from one club to the next, one bartender to the next, each weekend new clubs, new bartenders. The bartending shows are ones I watch frequently and that I find entertaining. If I were barhopping still, these would be the bartenders I would visit most regularly and chat with at the beginning of happy hour when people are starting to arrive or at the end of the night, when everyone is staggering out, the staff is cleaning and straightening the tables, and the bartender comes over the loudspeaker to say, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

As I progress with the Saturday Night Special, I will add new combinations of videos to try to bring it ever closer to virtual night of clubbing and barhopping without the nasty hangover on Sunday morning.

And while you are on your way back to your car at the end of the night, you stop for a while to look out over the city and contemplate where you go from here…for tonight and with your life.

You’re a writer, you can take the story from here.

Before you go, check out The Chamber’s Bookshop and check out these cyberpunk favorites.

Hasta luego. Drive safe.

Appearing in The Chamber April 1

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).

“Useless Things” Dark Fiction by James Mulhern

James Mulhern’s writing has appeared in literary journals over one hundred and seventy times and has been recognized with many awards. In 2015, Mr. Mulhern was granted a fully paid writing fellowship to Oxford University. That same year, a story was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His novel, Give Them Unquiet Dreams, is a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019. He was shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2021 for his poetry. Two of his novels were Finalists for the United Kingdom’s Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

“The Red Eye of Love” Dark Fiction by Len Messineo

Len notes: “Previously published in Shenandoah, Tampa Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, The New Novel Review, The Sun: Journal of Ideas and other magazines, I am a former recipient of the Hugh Luke Award and my stories have twice been nominated for inclusion in the Pushcart Prize anthology. I teach at Writers and Books of Rochester and head up the Artisan Jazz Trio which performs throughout Upstate New York.”

“All the Coney Islands of the Mind” 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.

“Greetings from Krampus” Dark Fiction by Tiffany Renee Harmon

Tiffany Renee Harmon is a writer and artist based out of Cincinnati, OH. She has an MFA from Lindenwood University, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Scarlet Leaf Review, Danse Macabre, and Z Publishing. Her first novel, Suburban Secrets, debuted in 2020. Learn more about her at http://www.tiffanyreneeharmon.com.

“Voice in the Casket” Dark Poem by Bernadette Harris

Bernadette’s work has appeared in a variety of literary magazines, including Ruminate, Braided Way, Introvert, Dear, and The Mindful Word. When she isn’t exploring her latest existential crises, she dabbles in writing children’s literature as well. She can be found at https://www.bernadetteharris.net/. 

“Ideal You Bars” Dark Fiction by Emma Burger

Emma Burger is a writer and young professional working in oncology research. She splits her time between Ann Arbor, Michigan and New York City. Her debut novel, Spaghetti for Starving Girls, was released in September 2021.

“Doctor Dread’s Creative Writing Revolution” Dark Fiction 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…

Three Dark Poems by John Tustin: “The Crush of the Moon”, “Dead Candles”, “Respite”

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

“The Black Curtain” Dark Surrealism by Leonard Henry Scott

Leonard Henry Scott was born and raised in the Bronx and is a graduate of American University, with an MLS degree from the University of Maryland.  He was a long-time staff member of the Library of Congress and he and his wife, Hattie presently reside in National Harbor, Maryland. Len’s fiction has appeared in; The MacGuffin, Mystery Tribune, Straylight Magazine, Crack the Spine and elsewhere.

“Resurrection” Dark Fiction by Kelly Piner

Kelly Piner is a Clinical Psychologist who in her free time, tends to feral cats and searches for Bigfoot in nearby forests. Ms. Piner’s short story “Blackout” was recently published in Scarlet Leaf Review’s anniversary issue. Her story, “Dead and Gone,” was just named Honorable Mention in Allegory’s upcoming issue. Her short story “The Old Man and the Cats” was published by Storgy Magazine. Weirdbook’s annual zombie issue featured Ms. Piner’s short Story “Lazy River.” Her stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. She also has short stories published in The Literary Hatchet, East of the Web and in be-a-better-writer.com. She just completed her first novel, FAT SANDS.

“Medusae” Science-Fiction/Horror by Elana Gomal

Elana Gomel is an academic with a long list of books and articles, specializing in science fiction, Victorian literature, and serial killers. She is also a fiction writer who has published more than a hundred short stories, several novellas, and four novels. She is a member of HWA and can be found at https://www.citiesoflightanddarkness.com/ and at

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/elana.gomel

Twitter   https://twitter.com/ElanaGomel

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/elanagomel/

Next Issue: May 6

 

Update on The Chamber Bookshop

As you may have noticed, among the departments on The Chamber’s homepage is one for The Chamber Bookshop. This is a new feature added for the benefit of not only our readers, but also for our contributors. In the Bookshop you will find not only best-selling fiction, but also works by contributors to The Chamber and writing aids (such as dictionaries, thesauri, grammars, and style manuals) and histories of the English language. You will also find books for the true aficionado of literature such as works by Nobel laureates and winners of the Pulitzer along with a variety of other genres and subjects. Here is a list of our shelves as of March 22, 2022:

  • Authors and Poets Published in The Chamber
  • Best Selling Fiction
  • New Releases
  • Dark Literature
  • Special Section: Learn about Ukraine
  • Classics
  • Nonfiction
  • Philosophy
  • Writing Aids
  • History of the English Language
  • Nobel Laureates in Literature
  • Winners of the Pulitzer Prize

Check the Bookshop frequently. Currently, the selection is small, but growing as The Chamber tries to benefit our readers, but also its contributors and writers in general.

Update on The Chamber Bookshop

As you may have noticed, among the departments on The Chamber’s homepage is one for The Chamber Bookshop. This is a new feature added for the benefit of not only our readers, but also for our contributors. In the Bookshop you will find not only best-selling fiction, but also works by contributors to The Chamber and writing aids (such as dictionaries, thesauri, grammars, and style manuals) and histories of the English language. You will also find books for the true aficionado of literature such as works by Nobel laureates and winners of the Pulitzer along with a variety of other genres and subjects. Here is a list of our shelves as of March 22, 2022:

  • Authors and Poets Published in The Chamber
  • Best Selling Fiction
  • New Releases
  • Dark Literature
  • Special Section: Learn about Ukraine
  • Classics
  • Nonfiction
  • Philosophy
  • Writing Aids
  • History of the English Language
  • Nobel Laureates in Literature
  • Winners of the Pulitzer Prize

Check the Bookshop frequently. Currently, the selection is small, but growing as The Chamber tries to benefit our readers, but also its contributors and writers in general.

Update on The Chamber Bookshop

As you may have noticed, among the departments on The Chamber’s homepage is one for The Chamber Bookshop. This is a new feature added for the benefit of not only our readers, but also for our contributors. In the Bookshop you will find not only best-selling fiction, but also works by contributors to The Chamber and writing aids (such as dictionaries, thesauri, grammars, and style manuals) and histories of the English language. You will also find books for the true aficionado of literature such as works by Nobel laureates and winners of the Pulitzer along with a variety of other genres and subjects. Here is a list of our shelves as of March 22, 2022:

  • Authors and Poets Published in The Chamber
  • Best Selling Fiction
  • New Releases
  • Dark Literature
  • Special Section: Learn about Ukraine
  • Classics
  • Nonfiction
  • Philosophy
  • Writing Aids
  • History of the English Language
  • Nobel Laureates in Literature
  • Winners of the Pulitzer Prize

Check the Bookshop frequently. Currently, the selection is small, but growing as The Chamber tries to benefit our readers, but also its contributors and writers in general.

The Chamber’s Bookshop Now Has 26 Books by Authors Published in The Chamber

Stop by The Chamber’s Bookshop and show your support for our writers by purchasing a book from one of the writers published in The Chamber. Authors currently represented include:

  • Elizabeth Gauffreau
  • DC Diamondopolous
  • Jacob Moon
  • Sandra Arnold
  • John Ryland
  • Jeff Bagato
  • Brian Klingborg
  • Damir Salkovic
  • Niles Reddick
  • James Hanna

Several have more than one title available. Peek into the Bookshop when you get the chance. Expect more to come in the future.

Don’t forget: The Chamber’s next issue pops up on April 1.

Dear loyal readers,

I have decided to put The Chamber on hiatus from March 11 until April 1 after which The Chamber will become a monthly magazine. There will be no March 11, March 18, or March 25 issues. This is something I have been contemplating for several months.

I will run this issue’s (March 4) cover for a week, after which it will be replaced with a notice about the hiatus. All stories, poetry, and other material will continue to be available. I will even update the blog occasionally.

The first reason I have for this is time management. Running a weekly magazine of 6-7 stories/poems every issue takes up considerable time, which I could use to finish a novel I have had in the works for a few years. This is also time I could use for personal matters such as visiting family. You may have not realized this, but this is a one-man operation. My time is limited as it is, as I have a 40-hour/week day job to keep a roof over my head and the barbeque occasionally rolling in.

The second reason I am doing this is a drop in the number of submissions over the last few weeks. When I started The Chamber, I was receiving a lot of submissions. Coming up with several stories per issue was easy. I could even have 3-4 issues prepared in advance allowing me time for personal matters. Submissions have slowed in the past few weeks making it tricky to maintain approximately the same length for each issue. Sometimes I find myself hoping that I will have enough material for the upcoming issue. By going to a monthly format, I will be able to take the same number of stories and poems coming in currently, and maybe double (more or less) the length of each issue, and have a few issues prepared in advance to automatically publish themselves when the first of each month rolls around. I am hoping that going to a monthly format will also help The Chamber improve in terms of quality. A monthly format will afford me more time to concentrate on the details of each story and poem and on the details of each issue.

For the time being, any stories and poems that were slated to appear in the March 11 issue will now appear in the April 1 issue.

Honestly, I wish I did not have to go this route. I love reading the high-quality, creative material submitted and doing the minimal editing sometimes required. Though I will still be doing these tasks, I will be doing them less.

I also love interacting frequently with the authors and poets, who are all terrific people. I have had no conflicts with anyone in the year and two months I have been publishing The Chamber (I wish I could say the same for my day job). Working with The Chamber’s contributors in a field that I love and enjoy is like going outside and playing with the neighborhood kids when in grade school. Unfortunately, I now have to go back in the house for a while and do my homework. I will be coming out to play now and then though.

Sincerely,

Phil Slattery

Founder, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Graphic Designer, Head Honcho, Gopher, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

Dear loyal readers,

I have decided to put The Chamber on hiatus from March 11 until April 1 after which The Chamber will become a monthly magazine. There will be no March 11, March 18, or March 25 issues. This is something I have been contemplating for several months.

I will run this issue’s (March 4) cover for a week, after which it will be replaced with a notice about the hiatus. All stories, poetry, and other material will continue to be available. I will even update the blog occasionally.

The first reason I have for this is time management. Running a weekly magazine of 6-7 stories/poems every issue takes up considerable time, which I could use to finish a novel I have had in the works for a few years. This is also time I could use for personal matters such as visiting family. You may have not realized this, but this is a one-man operation. My time is limited as it is, as I have a 40-hour/week day job to keep a roof over my head and the barbeque occasionally rolling in.

The second reason I am doing this is a drop in the number of submissions over the last few weeks. When I started The Chamber, I was receiving a lot of submissions. Coming up with several stories per issue was easy. I could even have 3-4 issues prepared in advance allowing me time for personal matters. Submissions have slowed in the past few weeks making it tricky to maintain approximately the same length for each issue. Sometimes I find myself hoping that I will have enough material for the upcoming issue. By going to a monthly format, I will be able to take the same number of stories and poems coming in currently, and maybe double (more or less) the length of each issue, and have a few issues prepared in advance to automatically publish themselves when the first of each month rolls around. I am hoping that going to a monthly format will also help The Chamber improve in terms of quality. A monthly format will afford me more time to concentrate on the details of each story and poem and on the details of each issue.

For the time being, any stories and poems that were slated to appear in the March 11 issue will now appear in the April 1 issue.

Honestly, I wish I did not have to go this route. I love reading the high-quality, creative material submitted and doing the minimal editing sometimes required. Though I will still be doing these tasks, I will be doing them less.

I also love interacting frequently with the authors and poets, who are all terrific people. I have had no conflicts with anyone in the year and two months I have been publishing The Chamber (I wish I could say the same for my day job). Working with The Chamber’s contributors in a field that I love and enjoy is like going outside and playing with the neighborhood kids when in grade school. Unfortunately, I now have to go back in the house for a while and do my homework. I will be coming out to play now and then though.

Sincerely,

Phil Slattery

Founder, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Graphic Designer, Head Honcho, Gopher, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

Dear loyal readers,

I have decided to put The Chamber on hiatus from March 11 until April 1 after which The Chamber will become a monthly magazine. There will be no March 11, March 18, or March 25 issues. This is something I have been contemplating for several months.

I will run this issue’s (March 4) cover for a week, after which it will be replaced with a notice about the hiatus. All stories, poetry, and other material will continue to be available. I will even update the blog occasionally.

The first reason I have for this is time management. Running a weekly magazine of 6-7 stories/poems every issue takes up considerable time, which I could use to finish a novel I have had in the works for a few years. This is also time I could use for personal matters such as visiting family. You may have not realized this, but this is a one-man operation. My time is limited as it is, as I have a 40-hour/week day job to keep a roof over my head and the barbeque occasionally rolling in.

The second reason I am doing this is a drop in the number of submissions over the last few weeks. When I started The Chamber, I was receiving a lot of submissions. Coming up with several stories per issue was easy. I could even have 3-4 issues prepared in advance allowing me time for personal matters. Submissions have slowed in the past few weeks making it tricky to maintain approximately the same length for each issue. Sometimes I find myself hoping that I will have enough material for the upcoming issue. By going to a monthly format, I will be able to take the same number of stories and poems coming in currently, and maybe double (more or less) the length of each issue, and have a few issues prepared in advance to automatically publish themselves when the first of each month rolls around. I am hoping that going to a monthly format will also help The Chamber improve in terms of quality. A monthly format will afford me more time to concentrate on the details of each story and poem and on the details of each issue.

For the time being, any stories and poems that were slated to appear in the March 11 issue will now appear in the April 1 issue.

Honestly, I wish I did not have to go this route. I love reading the high-quality, creative material submitted and doing the minimal editing sometimes required. Though I will still be doing these tasks, I will be doing them less.

I also love interacting frequently with the authors and poets, who are all terrific people. I have had no conflicts with anyone in the year and two months I have been publishing The Chamber (I wish I could say the same for my day job). Working with The Chamber’s contributors in a field that I love and enjoy is like going outside and playing with the neighborhood kids when in grade school. Unfortunately, I now have to go back in the house for a while and do my homework. I will be coming out to play now and then though.

Sincerely,

Phil Slattery

Founder, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Graphic Designer, Head Honcho, Gopher, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

Dear loyal readers,

I have decided to put The Chamber on hiatus from March 11 until April 1 after which The Chamber will become a monthly magazine. There will be no March 11, March 18, or March 25 issues. This is something I have been contemplating for several months.

I will run this issue’s (March 4) cover for a week, after which it will be replaced with a notice about the hiatus. All stories, poetry, and other material will continue to be available. I will even update the blog occasionally.

The first reason I have for this is time management. Running a weekly magazine of 6-7 stories/poems every issue takes up considerable time, which I could use to finish a novel I have had in the works for a few years. This is also time I could use for personal matters such as visiting family. You may have not realized this, but this is a one-man operation. My time is limited as it is, as I have a 40-hour/week day job to keep a roof over my head and the barbeque occasionally rolling in.

The second reason I am doing this is a drop in the number of submissions over the last few weeks. When I started The Chamber, I was receiving a lot of submissions. Coming up with several stories per issue was easy. I could even have 3-4 issues prepared in advance allowing me time for personal matters. Submissions have slowed in the past few weeks making it tricky to maintain approximately the same length for each issue. Sometimes I find myself hoping that I will have enough material for the upcoming issue. By going to a monthly format, I will be able to take the same number of stories and poems coming in currently, and maybe double (more or less) the length of each issue, and have a few issues prepared in advance to automatically publish themselves when the first of each month rolls around. I am hoping that going to a monthly format will also help The Chamber improve in terms of quality. A monthly format will afford me more time to concentrate on the details of each story and poem and on the details of each issue.

For the time being, any stories and poems that were slated to appear in the March 11 issue will now appear in the April 1 issue.

Honestly, I wish I did not have to go this route. I love reading the high-quality, creative material submitted and doing the minimal editing sometimes required. Though I will still be doing these tasks, I will be doing them less.

I also love interacting frequently with the authors and poets, who are all terrific people. I have had no conflicts with anyone in the year and two months I have been publishing The Chamber (I wish I could say the same for my day job). Working with The Chamber’s contributors in a field that I love and enjoy is like going outside and playing with the neighborhood kids when in grade school. Unfortunately, I now have to go back in the house for a while and do my homework. I will be coming out to play now and then though.

Sincerely,

Phil Slattery

Founder, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Graphic Designer, Head Honcho, Gopher, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

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).

“A Proper Ballerina” Dark Fiction by Janet Goldberg

Janet Goldberg’s “A Proper Ballerina” comes from a collection titled Every Small Thing. Her novel The Proprietor’s Song will be published by Regal House in the summer of 2023: https://www.regalhousepublishing.com/janet-goldberg/ She also edits fiction for Deep Wild https://deepwildjournal.com/ and teaches writing at a community college in northern California.

“Piñata” Dark, Supernatural Flash Fiction by D.C. Marcus

D.C. Marcus grew up in New Jersey reading Twilight Zone Magazine and the classic Shadows anthologies edited by Charles L. Grant.

Three Dark Poems by Callum McGee: “Black Oracles of Anfield Cemetery”, “Black Taxi”, and “Four Years of Hell”

Callum McGee is a passionate BA creative writing student at Edge Hill University. His short horror story has been published on the official EHU magazine/newspaper The Quack’s blog. Callum is working on a debut fiction novel based on many Native American tribal cultures and beliefs. However, he also writes poetry tackling societal issues such as pollution, bullying, and inequality. Callum prefers writing from 1st personal point of view across his writing genres. However, he can write in 3rd or 2nd person points of view to expand his writing craft.

“The Shade” Dark, Supernatural Fiction by Wess Mongo Jolley

Wess Mongo Jolley is a Canadian novelist, editor, podcaster, and poet. His work has appeared in journals such as Off the Coast, PANK, The New Verse News, Danse Macabre, and others. His sprawling supernatural horror trilogy, The Last Handful of Clover, is currently being released serially on Patreon, Wattpad, QSaltLake, and as an audiobook podcast. Find him at http://wessmongojolley.com

Three Poems by Joseph Farina: “fever planes”, “simulacrum”, and “what we leave behind”

Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. An internationaly award winning poet. Several of his poems have been published in Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine,The Chambers Magazine, Ascent ,Subterranean Blue and in The Tower Poetry Magazine, Inscribed, The Windsor Review, Boxcar Poetry Revue , and appears in many anthologies including: Sweet Lemons: Writings with a Sicilian Accent, Canadian Italians at Table, Witness from Serengeti Press and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century . He has had poems published in the U.S. magazines Mobius, Pyramid Arts, Arabesques, Fiele-Festa, Philedelphia Poets and Memoir (and) . He has had two books of poetry published— The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street .

“A Game of Horrors” Dark Fiction by Philip Laverty

Philip Laverty is currently working on new horror fiction while editing various other pieces and trying to place them with publishers and agents. He lives in Scotland and have two daughters. His main horror influences are M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, William Peter Blatty and David Lynch.”

“The Orange Tree” Fiction by Molly Osborne

Molly Osborne is a Portland, Oregon based writer. She has fiction in STORGY, Bewildering Stories, and Button Eyes Review. When she isn’t writing, she works in stop motion animation production. She is currently writing a speculative fiction novel for adults.

Next Issue: March 11

 

Dear loyal readers,

I have decided to put The Chamber on hiatus from March 11 until April 1 after which The Chamber will become a monthly magazine. There will be no March 11, March 18, or March 25 issues. This is something I have been contemplating for several months.

I will run this issue’s (March 4) cover for a week, after which it will be replaced with a notice about the hiatus. All stories, poetry, and other material will continue to be available. I will even update the blog occasionally.

The first reason I have for this is time management. Running a weekly magazine of 6-7 stories/poems every issue takes up considerable time, which I could use to finish a novel I have had in the works for a few years. This is also time I could use for personal matters such as visiting family. You may have not realized this, but this is a one-man operation. My time is limited as it is, as I have a 40-hour/week day job to keep a roof over my head and the barbeque occasionally rolling in.

The second reason I am doing this is a drop in the number of submissions over the last few weeks. When I started The Chamber, I was receiving a lot of submissions. Coming up with several stories per issue was easy. I could even have 3-4 issues prepared in advance allowing me time for personal matters. Submissions have slowed in the past few weeks making it tricky to maintain approximately the same length for each issue. Sometimes I find myself hoping that I will have enough material for the upcoming issue. By going to a monthly format, I will be able to take the same number of stories and poems coming in currently, and maybe double (more or less) the length of each issue, and have a few issues prepared in advance to automatically publish themselves when the first of each month rolls around. I am hoping that going to a monthly format will also help The Chamber improve in terms of quality. A monthly format will afford me more time to concentrate on the details of each story and poem and on the details of each issue.

For the time being, any stories and poems that were slated to appear in the March 11 issue will now appear in the April 1 issue.

Honestly, I wish I did not have to go this route. I love reading the high-quality, creative material submitted and doing the minimal editing sometimes required. Though I will still be doing these tasks, I will be doing them less.

I also love interacting frequently with the authors and poets, who are all terrific people. I have had no conflicts with anyone in the year and two months I have been publishing The Chamber (I wish I could say the same for my day job). Working with The Chamber’s contributors in a field that I love and enjoy is like going outside and playing with the neighborhood kids when in grade school. Unfortunately, I now have to go back in the house for a while and do my homework. I will be coming out to play now and then though.

Sincerely,

Phil Slattery

Founder, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Graphic Designer, Head Honcho, Gopher, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

“The Orange Tree” Fiction by Molly Osborne

We told our friends we bought the house because of the neighborhood and the beautiful front porch, but really it was because of the orange tree in the backyard. I grew up where winter has a stranglehold on everything living for at least half the year. After moving to Southern California, I was struck by the lemons, limes, avocados, and oranges that peeked out on branches over fences seemingly all year round.

   We moved in while the tree was still blossoming. In a few months’ time we would have a bounty of fruit that would become juices, marmalades, tarts, or sliced up and eaten for breakfast.

   When the first green fruits emerged, I’d find they’d quickly disappear. Birds, I thought. I purchased an enormous net and with the help of my husband and a questionable ladder, draped it over the top of the tree. And yet, the fruit still disappeared, never able to grow larger than a ping pong ball.

   I took out my ladder, searching in the areas that were the hardest to access. A hard, pockmarked fruit managed to make it twice as large as any other I had found, but it was covered in tiny bites, that had eaten away thick chunks of its flesh. Rodents, for certain.

   I laid out traps of all kinds; ones that snapped, ones that were sticky, ones that shut a little door and trapped the bastards after they went inside. Nothing was working. My fruit would die as infants. I even lured the neighbor’s cat over with treats. We’ll brush your coat, give you tuna, even lay a warm bed out for you on the patio. If you happen to see a rat or two when you are here, well, it would be great if you could—

The cat made barely a dent in the rat population. My tree was practically bare and I was beginning to think I’d lose the whole season. Poison was still an option, but I had saved it for last on purpose. I knew that it was terrible for the environment in so many ways, but I justified it by only using half as much as the box suggested. It worked.

   My tree no longer looked mangy. I was winning the war, but after a week or so I started finding the bite marks again. Most of the fruit that was nearly ripe had disappeared entirely.

   I bought another box of the poison. It worked so well—how could I not?  I needed to knock out their army. No more warning shots. I poured out the entire box, using even more than I was instructed to. And this would be it. One heavy blow, and then no more poison. Maybe some traps for good measure, but no more poison.    One morning I found the cat. The sweet neighbor cat that was practically ours.  She had trusted us. She couldn’t have gotten into the poison. She was smarter than that. After the nets went up, she left the tree alone. But she hadn’t left the rats alone. Not far from her soft body was a limp, partially eaten rat. It’s innards more toxins than blood. I was able to get a decent crop of oranges, but all of the fruit was bitter. The next year, I let the rats have it.


Molly Osborne is a Portland, Oregon based writer. She has fiction in STORGY, Bewildering Stories, and Button Eyes Review. When she isn’t writing, she works in stop motion animation production. She is currently writing a speculative fiction novel for adults.


“A Game of Horrors” Dark Fiction by Philip Laverty

The Game has commenced, and Alan’s fear gives me such a thrill, such a shiver-inducing rush of adrenalin that my heart actually skips a beat.

It is played by two people who possess the Talent. Alan and I are playing it in a little coastal town, which is as good a place to play as any.

There are three, I feel, very significant years between us. Of those years I will say this: I developed quickly in cunning, cruelty, selfishness and greed, meaning Alan never stood a chance by the time our mother drew her last breath, her blood gushing forth onto the sheets that her labour had turned her as white as. I lost the only person I was capable of loving. Alan ripped her open to get here.

He was born with the Talent, as I had been, and I had already heard the first whispers of the Game from an uncle visiting my father, there, in that old Edwardian house that we grew up in. I heard these whispers as they drank whiskey, and my uncle smoked his repugnant pipe. Puff-puff he went, like a little train or a chimney.

 Puff-puff he went as he visited me in my room one hot Sunday afternoon when I was eleven. I had watched him playing with Alan in the garden earlier. I had looked down from my bedroom as he showed Alan one of his tricks. It was impressive, I must admit: he seemed to make a necklace disappear from his hand and then reappear hanging from the low bough of a tree at the bottom of the garden. I suppose that Alan considered himself close to this trickster, but I perceived the real truth of the relationship: a man and his obedient pup.

Puff-puff he went as he closed the door and raised his hand in a gesture which I daresay he meant to be calming. What odd notions these monsters have.

“Shh. Hush. There. See? ‘Tis only I. There now. I hear you are scared of rats.”

I was and am. How did he know? Of course, the answer was simple: Alan.

“It is good for someone with the Talent to confront their fears.”

I recall that he was wearing a V-neck pullover with diamond patterns of yellow and orange. He had ginger hair, combed in a neat side pattern. He wore a white shirt under the pullover.

A movement under the covers, and then the thing was beside me–long, hideous tail and cruel eyes.

“I can’t move,” I said, feeling like a prisoner in my own body.

“Do not panic,” he cautioned as the rat scuttled up first onto my lap, and then up my stomach, and eventually onto my face. It smelled of damp, dirty places.

“Please, make it stop,” I pleaded.

It seemed like I sat there for an eternity before he replied.

“Weak little bastard, aren’t you?”

The rat sank its front teeth into the flesh under my right eye. 

“Please.”

“There,” he said with the wave of the hand, the rat instantly vanishing.

“And now I too must take my leave.”

He walked out the door, and although I could now move, fear kept me sitting on the bed, fear that the rat would return.

My heart thudded as, outside, heat oppressed the world and made everyone capable of no more strenuous an outdoor activity than sipping cold drinks on loungers. In fact, my father, in an act of brotherly loyalty and paternal betrayal that I was never able to forgive him for, insisted that this was exactly what my uncle was at his side doing throughout the whole time that he was, in fact, in my room.

“It bit me, father!” I screamed at him as we had it out in the kitchen on the day that he showed his true colours.

“I see no bite marks.”

There were none. I could not account for this.

“He is my brother, and my truest friend,” he continued. “And it is impossible that he could have been with you at all.”

I returned to my room, and we never spoke of it again.

I formed my first horror that night. The Talent allows you to give form to your imaginings, and my mind had, for some time, been tormented by the image of a cat formed entirely from cat claws.

Take a moment to imagine. Imagine a claw first, just as I did. See it scratching a human hand and infecting it. Feel the invasive burn, like a nasty, filthy hypodermic needle. See the colour, not quite white or grey, and yet not quite yellow. Smell it too: a smell like decaying flesh. Now imagine a pile of such claws, and that piecing them together will form a cat –a hollow-eyed, clicking, scratching cat, always in disagreeable temper, always ready with a hiss. Imagine touching it, how its back would yield slightly. Not that you would ever get to touch it, mind you, unless you were fighting it off.

Creating this horror took me three hours of trial and error. However, once perfected, it was at my command, as every horror I would create henceforth would be. I christened it Horror No.1, fancying I would christen them all in this manner, and that they would one day number in their thousands. I lost count–or lost interest in keeping count–quite early on. Take the most recent horror, the one that Alan awoke to just this morning: she is called Yesterdaytodaytomorrow. I could name her nothing else, and will describe her soon. Suffice, for the moment, to say that she is quite dreadful.

That night, I set the cat upon Alan as he slept. He woke with Horror No.1 sitting on his chest, hissing viciously. He screamed, and I had the thing attack. As I lay on my bed, my attention focused completely on what I was making happen, it cut him as deeply as I had hoped it would, and he still has the four diagonal scars across this left cheek to this day.

He ran from his bed, his screams waking my father, who came to my room and demanded that I destroy the thing. I reluctantly did just that, and somewhere in the house, in the dark corner it had retreated to, Horror No.1 vanished back into my imagination.

A man not easily frightened, who in fact might have been immune to fear entirely, my father was simply appalled that his son could have created such a thing as Horror No.1.

“You want to play the Game, I suppose.”

“Yes,” I told him.

“You think you’re a player? Do you see a future in it?” he asked, removing his belt and striking my bare legs. “This is not what the Talent is intended for!” he yelled. “We do not unleash horrors upon the world.” Two more strikes followed, and I thought that a third might follow that, but instead he turned, without saying another word, and left the room.

Now it is February, and it is early morning. I have come to the park, from where I look up into the hills. A car creates a foggy searchlight as it makes its way down towards town. The patchy clouds in the dark morning sky are blast furnace orange, blast furnace black, as the sun begins its slow, furious ascent.

Now, let us say that you had the Talent and wished to play the Game. In general–with some deviations based on style, or upon the whims of the players–it takes the following shape:

 Day 1–dawn: A coin is tossed to determine who will go first. The player who loses the toss drops the mental defences that we are taught to develop from an early age

Day 2: The player going first is given this day to prepare their horror. If it is already prepared, then perhaps the player can refine it.

Day 3–dawn: The horror is given form by the player going first, and it is set upon the opponent, who then must hold their nerve for twenty-four hours. If they do, then, after three days of rest, it is their turn, and so on…

The Game is won when the opponent begs for the horror to be destroyed. He has to say that specific, ancient, most sacred phrase: “No more. Please destroy it. I beg you.”

At this point the victor may withdraw from the game, or agree to another, if their opponent wishes. Some players are content with the glory and retire from playing completely.

And now we come to Yesterdaytodaytomorrow. So-christened because this is what she repeats over and over again in a voice that is more like buzzing–ceaselessly monotone. She is the height and shape of a three-year-old child, but is covered in the feathery hair of a bee. I have given her a yellow dress to wear, and each of her fingers has a venom sack on the end with a stinger protruding from it. The venom is not fatal, but the sting will be far more painful than a cat scratch.

Alan woke one hour ago to find Yesterdaytodaytomorrow standing at the foot of his bed. Her droning recital of the only three words she knows was what stirred him from his sleep. I saw what she saw, saw him sitting up, and the terror on his face. You might wonder how he could have slept at all. However, players know they need their strength for the day to come, and those who have not trained themselves to sleep will often take a remedy.

He ran from the house in his pyjamas. I had Yesterdaytodaytomorrow don a black, oversized, rain poncho that I had purchased especially for her, and pair of red wellington boots. I had her put up the hood as, using my mind, I steered her from the house in pursuit of Alan. If she is challenged–if someone sees her–then I will improvise. These encounters can be amusing sometimes. And should the worst come to the worst and I am forced to destroy her, then I will, and it will be Alan’s turn.

All part of the Game.   

I can give the horror as much attention as is necessary. I am enjoying this early morning stroll, and want to concentrate on that for the most part. Yesterdaytodaytomorrow should catch up with Alan soon. After all, he cannot have got far in his pyjamas.

I check on her progress a little more closely. Imagine an idea or other thought bubbling away at the back of your mind, but enabling you to concentrate on other matters. You can bring it to the forefront whenever you please. That is what I am doing now.

She is buzzing along a street, but it is the wrong one, and she is moving in the wrong direction. In fact, it seems that she is coming towards the park. Gentle early morning tides lap against the beach, and the moon still hangs in the no-longer-night sky.

“Turn,” I command her, and am so perturbed I actually utter the word. “Turn round, Yesterdaytodaytomorrow. Come on.”

I can see her now for real, intently striding towards me, the hood of her poncho still up.

Losing control of a horror is unthinkable. The best ones –the only ones that are worth creating–have to terrify the creator too. It horrifies me to be inside her buzzing head, where all that can be heard is the echoing of those three maddening words.

She has reached the far edge of the park. As she does so, a man comes towards me from the other direction. I assume he has been hiding behind the ruin of a wall that separates the park from the beach. He is, I note, in his pyjamas, although he has acquired a coat and boots from somewhere.

“Alan,” I say by way of a greeting.

“Brother.”

My fair-haired brother, whose handsome face mysteriously no longer has the scars left by Horror No.1.

“What is going on?” I ask, glancing towards Yesterdaytodaytomorrow as she comes to a halt within stinging distance of me. “What have you done?”

“You have at least accepted that I have done something. I am heartened. It saves tiresome explanations, eh?”

I am truly at a loss as to what to say to him. Part of my mind is preoccupied with trying to reason out this conundrum, the other with attempting to regain control of Yesterdaytodaytomorrow.

“Nothing to say, brother?” he asks. “No? Well, I suggest that you begin by asking who won the toss. Who went first?”

“I did,” I reply, pouncing upon the one thing that I am sure of.

“No, I am afraid not.”

“I did.” I incline my head towards the horror. “And I created her.”

“Untrue. OK, well, let us try something else. What is this town called?” 

It is…on the tip of my tongue. Or is it? Is that merely a memory, or my brain coming up with some generic name for a generic seaside town?

“Come now, brother, you are usually so verbose! The fact is I never gave it a name. Perhaps I should have. It is a coastal town – that is all. To be precise, it is an amalgamation of a few I have visited. I have never had much of an imagination, which is the chief reason why I should never have become a player. You were keen to play me though; and I suspected you would have had the bad form to set horrors upon me anyway–ones even worse than that fucking cat from when we were children. I had to have some boundaries, and those of the Game were all that were afforded me.

“So, there I was, eighteen years of age and playing for the first time. How unprepared I was! The horror you conjured up almost drove me to insanity.

“Almost, but not quite. My sanity remained intact, and I was keen to exact revenge upon you, keen to best you at your precious game. However, your command of the Talent was frightening, and this presented a problem.

“Do you remember our uncle? He was very kind to me and assured me he could help. He had devised a move, based on a skill he had learned from a woman in Argentina. It was a move he had only utilised once, but to great effect. He told me his opponent had never recovered his senses, and that he himself had then retired from the Game. The skill had not gone to waste though, and he had continued to use it for his own ends, his own pleasure.

“It took me three arduous years to learn, and when I was ready, I asked if you would agree to a rematch. You did, and very eagerly, I might add.”

I recall none of this. In fact, I am starting to find that attempting to grasp at any facts in this regard is like grasping at smoke.  

“Now,” he continues, “I needed luck. I could think of no plausible way to fix the toss, and so I had to hope you would lose. If not, I would have to steel myself to endure your horror before I got my turn.

“You lost, you lowered your mental defences, and I made my move.”

“What did you do?”

I can tell by the twitch of a smile on his lip that he recognises how perilously close I am to begging.

“I used the skill our uncle taught me.”

“What is the skill?”

“To create one’s own reality in the mind of another. We are in that reality now, and I control every aspect of it.”

Attempting to refute what he has told me would be foolish, especially in light of how I am now feeling. My mind feels suddenly sleep-deprived, and so my thought processes are…sluggish. Meanwhile, Yesterdaytodaytomorrow shimmers and fades from view, reappears, shimmers and fades, over and over again. Her buzzing repetition has ceased, but a poster on a bus shelter has caught my eye in the dawn light. It depicts me as a child holding my uncle’s hand as we walk through a plastic replica of a seaside town inside what looks like a snow globe. The copy reads: Yesterdaytodaytomorrow.

“Now,” he says, “you will say the words, and I will win.”

“No.”

“Well, we will see if you feel differently as the day wears on.”

He vanishes before my eyes.

I wonder where I am really. I wonder where we are playing the Game. Wherever we are, I picture Alan sitting at my bedside, holding my hand as I endure the trance that he has put me into.

No, this is…ludicrous. I won the toss. I went first.

I won the

I should have argued that this is an illegal move. Would that I felt sharp enough to argue!

I feel a hand take mine. It is so strong, and I cannot resist it as it leads me towards the beach, which is covered, every inch of it, with rats. The air is filled with their maddening screech.

Puff-puff we go. Puff-puff goes the owner of the hand, and he whispers, “Shh. Hush. There. See? ‘Tis only I. There now.”

My father is sitting on a bench beside the slide behind the see-saw. He watches as we go.

“They will bite me, father,” I protest.

“They will not leave a mark,” I hear him reply.

I close my eyes and say the only thing I can think to say.

“No more. Please destroy it. I beg you.”


Mr. Laverty notes:

“I am currently working on new horror fiction while editing various other pieces and trying to place them with publishers and agents. I live in Scotland and have two daughters. My main horror influences are M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, William Peter Blatty and David Lynch.”


Three Poems by Joseph Farina: “fever planes”, “simulacrum”, and “what we leave behind”

fever planes
heat and sweat salted grit on my neck
the cocktail ridge of loose blown sand
black feathers glean high on black mare's head
eyes wide nostrils open in the hot dust
the single caw of a raven above
all somehow in this room in hours
unknown, between the fever and the heart
that fears a landscape seen only in photographs
but owned by time blood and tears
does it call me or am I the caller
voices in two tongues
the lamentation of my birth voice
and its evolvement to some shattered hybrid
warning of raven and  lizard whispers
a place of measurement and balance
do I answer or  have I been already charged
simulacrum
coyotes howl
at the full wolf moon rising
loose dogs prick their ears
the silence of the cold night air
descends on those who
are half in their beds
waiting for mercy
like a lullaby to blanket them

outside the moon rises higher
cold coyote eyes
follow it to its culmination
knowing there is no mercy in its light
to either men or pack
what we leave behind
I have known all the days
their low and high appointments
the mornings, evenings and afternoons
each sunrise's different colour
each sunset's imitations
measured my time by the sun's chronometer
the lengthening and shortening of shadows
the phases of the moon
from wolf to harvest to cold
the wind's voice in each season
the telling scent of autumn
the frigid kiss of winter
my greatest moments
like shooting stars
flash and disappear
leaving nothing
not even a scar
to say that this was me

Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. An internationaly award winning poet. Several of his poems have been published in  Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine,The Chambers Magazine, Ascent ,Subterranean  Blue  and in   The Tower Poetry Magazine, Inscribed, The Windsor Review, Boxcar Poetry Revue , and appears in many anthologies including:  Sweet Lemons: Writings with a Sicilian Accent,  Canadian Italians at Table,  Witness  from Serengeti Press and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century . He has had poems published in the U.S. magazines   Mobius, Pyramid Arts, Arabesques, Fiele-Festa, Philedelphia Poets and   Memoir (and) . He has had two books of poetry published— The Cancer Chronicles   and   The Ghosts of Water Street.


“The Shade” Dark, Supernatural Fiction by Wess Mongo Jolley

In the stacks, my soul is tossed like a tumbleweed.

For every book here that I have read, there are many thousands more—and each one is a ghost, knocking at my skull and demanding entrance. But since I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t answer their calls, and instead just walk slowly up and down the narrow aisles, arms outstretched, fingers gently whispering against the old cloth and leather bindings. I’m always amazed how some feel so warm to the touch, and others chill the fingers and send shivers to my shoulders.

College has been a pain in the ass, and there are days I wish it was over and I was home in Abilene, back on the farm, and feeling cowhide that still contained the cow. But on late nights, when the rest of the campus is buzzing with their frat parties or looking for love, I’m always drawn back to these dark, narrow library stacks.

My favorite time of year is just after mid-terms, when pretty much every student has found excuses for better places to be, with people whose lives are not measured in the decades since the birth of the printing press. On those days I find myself more often sharing the late-night stacks with old gentlemen, as dry as the leaves of these books, and with as much dust in their hair as these books have on their spines.

Most share a similar look, cut from the same old tweed and straw—retired professors, mostly, who haven’t published since the Nixon administration, but still think their next breakthrough insight is hidden somewhere inside this endless maze.

Mostly, they don’t speak. But they always smile, and they always step aside when they see me enter an aisle.

This past year, as my college career has waned, I’ve found joy in studying the straw men over the tops of these gilt edges, imagining I hear their bones creaking and crackling like old glue, volumes opened for the first time in decades.

It was on one of these late-night stack wanderings that I first saw him.

Older than some. Not as old as most; at least not from what I could see between his floppy hat and upturned collar. I could see the beard that overflowed his coat, which buttoned up to just below his knotted yellow tie. It was a beard of more salt than pepper, and it framed a shadowed face with heavy lids, capped by glasses that distorted his drooping eyes behind impossibly thick lenses.

I don’t quite know why I noticed him, in particular. Perhaps it was because the library seemed especially deserted that night, so there was little else to catch my eye. Or perhaps it was the way he navigated his way through the silence.

Books can take your breath away, to be sure, but they rarely still the rise and fall in your chest for very long. And as I watched the old man in the heavy coat, standing like a redwood among the French poetry, I could swear he wasn’t breathing at all.

One aisle over, I peered at the back of his motionless neck through the shelves, and the only sound I could hear was his thin, bony hand, turning the pages.

Each page was a whisper; a timid mouse poking its nose out of the baseboard and then disappearing again. The moments between those pages were sometimes short and sometimes long, but the stillness between them stirred a loneliness in me that settled like a cloak around my shoulders.

I can’t say I watched him for long. I can’t say I followed him through the library like a balloon on a string. But I can’t say that I didn’t either, because I remember so little of it. Later I only recalled standing at the cold winter window, looking out into the snowy night, and watching my old volume as he emerged from the front of the midnight library. He crossed the street in the yellow glow of the streetlamps and melted into the moonlit campus common. I watched him for as long as I could make out his shadowy form, gliding along as if his long coat met the ground with wheels rather than feet.

I watched him fade and merge with the darkness.

I watched the darkness long after he had faded.

I didn’t expect to recognize the volume of French poetry he had been reading. And yet, when I went looking for it on the shelf, I walked right to it—as if it was marked with invisible ink and radium. When I tried to pull it off the shelf, at first it refused to budge. When I opened it, pages cracked and came loose, and dust angels danced in the fluorescent light.

When I put it away, it rested askew, no matter how many times I tried to make it right.

#

In the days since I saw the Shade (as I’ve come to call him), I have wondered if perhaps he was the product of my late-night imagination, or a bit of undigested dinner, as Dickens might say. I’ve told no one about him, although I don’t know who I would even consider telling. After all, my best friends all wear Dewey Decimal numbers on their spines, and they are much better at speaking than listening.

But there was something about the way he floated through these aisles that left me thrilled and confused, the way you can sometimes feel if you stand up too quickly and fear you will faint. When I think of him, it feels like that moment when you are still conscious enough to plan how you will fall safely, and yet still feel everything slipping away like leaves on the surface of rushing water.

But these feelings have not stopped me from imagining all sorts of stories for him.

I imagine he was born in this very library a century ago, when someone accidentally pushed a copy of Dante off a shelf as they passed. When the book hit the floor, rather that a startling crack, it landed with a whisper and a bloom. I imagine the Shade unfolding silently into being in the swirling dust. I imagine him silent and confused, as startled by his sudden birth as the books that looked upon him in their mute astonishment.

Or I imagine him birthed more slowly, as a patchwork quilt of every discontented college student and tired professor who has ever wandered here. Made up of a sigh here, a laugh there, his is a life of fatigue and panic and joy, all brought together here in this laboratory of the mind. The library seems to ask that he return something to these volumes that have given so much and asked for so little in return.

In this fancy, the Shade isn’t reading the books he scans so silently; he’s recharging them. Giving them life. Keeping them alive for those decades when not a single warm hand turns their pages.

#

He came back a week later.

I had not expected him to, but that didn’t prevent me from spending more and more late nights in French Poetry, or the Classics, or Elizabethan Fiction. I found him with what may have been a copy of Herodotus in his bony fingers. The same dark coat turned up at the collar. The same floppy hat shading his face. The same stillness. The same whispering turn of the page.

This time I made bold enough to turn the corner into his aisle, trying desperately to look casual, as if we had both been drawn to obscure Greek and Roman history. Glancing along each shelf, pretending to read the spines, I worked my way closer to him, listening intently for the gentle stirring of the dusty air as he turned each page.

Standing next to him, I was startled to smell rain. Only a foot away from his hunched shoulders, I was transported to evenings at home in Abilene, alone on the porch, as the rain fell and made everything fresh and new and gray. The whisper of his fingers on the pages was like those gentle drops from the roof into the gardens below. He was only inches away now, and I remembered how I would listen to that gentle sound, safe and dry at the porch railing, while the rain dripped just inches from my nose. I remembered how I would slowly reach a out a hand from the safety of the porch and let those drops cascade across my open palm. I remembered tasting that rain, looking apprehensively over my shoulder for my mother, who would surely scold me and tell me that water off the roof was not clean. Every impulse I had was to dash from the porch into the downpour, to let it coat me and cover me and cleanse me and let me begin life anew.

I reached out and it wasn’t the rain that I felt, but the rough wool of his heavy coat. The journey from Abilene back to the Stacks was brief, but it was not violent or startling. And finding myself standing behind the Shade with my hand on his shoulder was less frightening than it should have been.

But the pages had stopped turning. The stillness was overwhelming. And despite the solidity under my palm, I knew I was now alone with Homer and Herodotus and Aeschylus.

#

The snow was falling as I walked slowly away from the library, for what I knew would be the last time. There were so many more libraries in the world; so many more stacks with dusty books that were craving my touch. This library would be closed for a time, I knew, after they discovered the body of the young man in the classics. I was sad for my family in Abilene, but I knew that my sadness would fade. By the time I found my new library, there would only be the books. There would no longer be any grief, and there would no longer be any loneliness.

Longing was for the young, and I was no longer young. It was time to put away the childish things, as they taught in Sunday School. Or perhaps that was just something I read.

There would be time, someday, for childish things once again. But not until I felt that new hand on my shoulder.

How many decades? How many thousands upon thousands of cracking spines and whispering pages? How many deep, dark, lonely stacks in how many libraries?

New York? Butte Montana? Harvard Square? Oxford?

I’d find my first by morning.


Wess Mongo Jolley is a Canadian novelist, editor, podcaster, and poet. His work has appeared in journals such as Off the Coast, PANK, The New Verse News, Danse Macabre, and others. His sprawling supernatural horror trilogy, The Last Handful of Clover, is currently being released serially on PatreonWattpadQSaltLake, and as an audiobook podcast. Find him at http://wessmongojolley.com


Three Dark Poems by Callum McGee: “Black Oracles of Anfield Cemetery”, “Black Taxi”, and “Four Years of Hell”

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
South Catacomb, Anfield Cemetery, 12 September 2018, photo by Rodhullandemu, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Black Oracles of Anfield Cemetery
Raven’s cry in broad daylight
twiggy corpses holding black oracles, bright sparks in a sea of melted wax

Sanctuaries of hope 
dance with death, candles ooze pale essence, moss feasts decaying stones

Singular sparks 
returning to black, crooked branches, shriveled skeletons, inky feathers stain my suit

His thunderous voice
silent forever, a fiery passion dead silent, the red stadium’s heart forever still

Wretched symbols 
of the inevitable, Valkyries watch through beady eyes, sharp scythes snuff out lights

Life demands sacrifice
for eternal youth, rigor mortis seals an obsidian prophecy, ashes to ashes, oracles await

Reaper’s devoted 
disciples, messengers of a terrifying truth, tax collectors for precious time you owe 

Black banshees cry
for the damned, winged shadows flocking in the night, final debt paid
Black Taxi
Lifetime ago.
black taxi makes its stop.
Passengers await.

A small patch of gold.
Maple ripples on sweet bread.
Food packet feasts mine.

Bright blue brings out green.
Light in merciless sea.
Toasty bungalows.

Bounties of wisdom. 
Candles melt away at night. 
The black taxi makes its rounds.

Traceless wheels screech. 
White homes fade, life source leaves now.
Lone bungalows weep. 

A new sun arrives.
Shadow tires gone; mark left.
Passengers aboard destination unknown. 
Four Years of Hell
I am charred black
soul bitter. Demons in all shapes fractured my mind
contaminating my soul. My pure heart shriveled sweet and sour.

Like the Messiah
kindness was rewarded with cruelty. A crown of thorns
piercing my brain. Judas’s disciples blend in menacing groups.

My ears bleed
from the lies of the foul tonged. Satan’s legacy flourishes here
lies, serpents, and rumours. Power hungry vultures linger around every corner.

The foul stench of evil
contaminates my nostrils. The sheep huddle together
to look powerful. Guardians turn a blind eye to the foulest creatures.

The light of a soul
fades like the sun in this cold, dark place. Surrounded by monsters
and demons, masking as human beings. They infect the weak with their childhood sickness.

The Prey perish
as the Predators pounce. Kindness is rewarded with cruelty here,
the defenceless punished and banished. Four years is a torture chamber here.

Hope of many
is forever trapped here. Long gone, long perished even after the four years ended.
I never believed in Hell, but a place as evil as this, only proves such a place exists.

Callum McGee is a passionate BA creative writing student at Edge Hill University. His short horror story has been published on the official EHU magazine/newspaper The Quack’s blog. Callum is working on a debut fiction novel based on many Native American tribal cultures and beliefs. However, he also writes poetry tackling societal issues such as pollution, bullying, and inequality. Callum prefers writing from 1st personal point of view across his writing genres. However, he can write in 3rd or 2nd person points of view to expand his writing craft.