Stephen McQuiggan

Charlie’s Chunky Munching Meat

Murder…

Charlie rolled the word around his mouth like a hot chip but could not bring himself to utter it. He looked around the drab confines of his cell and tried to take it all in, but he would have a lifetime to do that and there really wasn’t that much to see. He prayed for his sister’s visit, checking his watch constantly, but time crawled by more slowly now he was aware of it. Charlie had lots of time; he had been sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and all because of a Spam sandwich.

When some men take alcohol they turn into wife-beaters. When some men take drugs they turn into thieves. When Charlie Walls took a Spam sandwich he turned into a pair of panties; one slice of the sickly pink meat was sufficient to transform him into the nearest female’s undergarments, and in that form he would stay until she deigned to remove them.

It hadn’t always been this way.

He could remember childhood picnics, fighting off ants and aunts from the sandwiches, wolfing down Spam with youthful gluttonous abandon and remaining the fat little boy he awoke as. Countless weddings of poor relations where Spam was compulsory fare and he had scoffed it all through the reception between rivers of cheap German beer, and nothing untoward had happened to make the bride blush further.

But one day as he sat working late in the office, swamped by the accounts of wealthier and happier men, he nibbled errantly at a Spam and lettuce on rye and found himself wrapped inexplicably around the hips of big Donna, the office slut.

Donna, like most fat people, was a stranger to the concept of personal hygiene, and it was over a week later before Charlie found himself stuffed inside her laundry basket. He climbed unseen from her bathroom window that night, putting his misadventure down to sleepwalking. For the next few days he suffered from vivid uncanny nightmares where he tottered perilously on the edge of a vast and hair-strewn canyon.

He explained away his absence from work by feigning illness, and his colleagues were quick to comment on how pale and drawn he still looked. By the time Donna arrived in late, hitching at her skirt and announcing that her panties were simply eating her, they wondered if perhaps they should call a doctor for him.

He took some time off instead, visiting his mother to placate her habitual animosity toward his bachelor status and to save his phone from melting from all the visceral pleas she poured upon it like boiling oil every other night.

She asked politely, as is a mother’s way, of his job (are) and his flat (you) and his plants (seeing) and his friends (anyone) and was he eating enough? He looked rather thin, and did you know primrose oil would clear up that spot malarkey on your nose in a trice? A million inane, inept questions that were the vanguard for the great assault (When are you going to get married and give me grandchildren you selfish little bastard?) that was always left unsaid.

Charlie didn’t mind the head games. All in all he was genuinely pleased to see the old girl; it was nice to be made a fuss of, and she was still the best damn cook a man could wish for. A few years away from home, living on a steady diet of microwave noodles and boil in the bag curries had left him with the physical attributes usually reserved for people on Oxfam posters.

A dream of roast potatoes had lured him here, of chicken and sprouts and mum’s homemade gravy, and perhaps a sherry trifle for afters, but with one wayward slip of the tongue he lost all hope of those culinary delights.

When asked what his immediate plans were he had replied without thinking, ‘Oh, the usual, pissing the weekend up the wall.’ He noticed his mother’s stern set of jaw too late to turn back; mother didn’t like smutty words, and ‘pissing’ was smutty bordering on filthy in her well-thumbed book.

She stormed off into the kitchen to whip up two rounds of spam and tomato (a double act in the same vein as Hitler and Himmler) and brought them to him with a look that said, ‘If I wasn’t worried about breaking one of my good plates I’d thump you up the snot-box with this’.

She went back into the kitchen to wash up some of the crockery she seemed to keep perpetually dirty in anticipation of family upheaval; he could hear her clanking the plates together, spelling out ‘piss indeed’ in Morse code, and sighing to herself in the confines of her lino martyrdom. Charlie ate the sandwiches as quickly as he could. The last thing he needed was the ‘people starving in Biafra’ lecture which would surely get an airing at the waste of so much as a crumb.

Charlie wasn’t sure where Biafra was, or if it even still existed, but to his mother it was synonymous with hunger; if a child from Calais appeared on the news looking a little on the thin side, then Biafra would be a stone’s throw from Dover.

But before he had time to chew his crusts he found himself wrapped around the loins of his origin. He felt his mother pluck him hastily from between her butt cheeks (smutty place!) and issue a little sigh.

It was a dreadful experience and one that left Charlie frantically trying to recall if his mother ever did have that bowel operation, the one she said would tighten her stool. Even if the smell was familiar and strangely comforting, he could not wait to be free; it was one thing to be close to your mother, but…

He finally came to in her muddy back garden, clothes pegs still attached to his shoulders. Finding him in such a state, nude in a mess of her washing, she could only assume he’d made good on his threat of getting pissed the night before. With how suddenly he’d vanished from her parlour, just like his no good drunk of a father, she hadn’t even had time to tell him about the lovely clean girl who’d just moved in next door, and how single she appeared to be.

He fled before she could vent the full force of her Christian spleen upon him. He had more than a few things to think about, but a life of tea totalitarianism was definitely not one of them. As obnoxious as spending an entire day girded around his mother’s festering love hole had been, he simply could not put it down to sleepwalking this time, like he’d done with his experience as Donna’s putrid panties.

No, this had been real. He looked for connections, and it didn’t take him long to put two and two together, coming up with Spam.

Over the next few days he began experimenting with a feverish intensity he had never felt before. As with all great endeavours though, his first efforts at reproducing the Kafkaesque transformation proved utter, abject failures.

First there was Tracey from the upstairs flat. One night as he watched her leave, rather than hiding behind the drapes and rubbing himself like usual, he decided to follow her out instead.

When she stopped off at a shop for a pack of fags, he produced a tin of Spam from inside his coat pocket, palming it nervously as he watched her from across the street. ‘I’m Popeye the Pervert man’, he hummed to himself for courage, devouring the poor man’s steak as he marched off after her.

When suddenly he found himself nuzzled up against his neighbour’s voluminous arse, it was pure heaven. For about half an hour.

Some greasy tool monkey from the local garage gave her a lift, and in no time at all Charlie had been discarded and stuffed into her handbag.

He exploded from the faux leather in a storm of sanitary towels and lipsticks, almost causing Tracey to miss her stroke in the backseat. Bolting from the car for a nearby thicket, he tried to convince himself that although he’d likely frightened them both into premature post-coital smokes, he had not been recognised.

Then came Sara, who worked in accounts and whose thighs were the talk of the toilets. He snuck up behind her in the stationery cupboard and, one bite of salty processed ham product later, finally got to see just how she kept those thighs of hers so firm.

He spent the rest of the morning being slowly suffocated by lycra as Sara indulged her passion for exercise bikes, rowing machines, and countless other forms of unnatural madness down at the local gym. Later, back at her flat, he waited breathlessly as she prised him from her sweat-sodden bangle, discarding him mercifully under her bed.

Charlie was off work for a fortnight after that whole experience; he simply couldn’t move his aching body. But, though his muscles had been torn and his back seemed all but broken, his pioneering spirit remained intact.

He discovered Malandra on the bus home one evening; she was the kind of perfection he had only ever seen before in adverts. He followed her for the remainder of the week, convinced that he had finally found his special one. She lived in a lovely little suburb ten miles from the city centre, catching the bus every day to the shop where she worked. Lingering Lingerie was an establishment that catered to every red-blooded male’s (or pink-blooded transvestite’s) taste in feminine undergarments, be it lace, satin, rubber or shaving foam.

Charlie hung around the shop watching her avidly, peeking out from behind the peek-a-boo bras, sweating frantically behind a rack of latex cat-suits. It was all too good to be true. Not only would he become the panties of a sex siren, he would also be the hottest pair of panties imaginable.

After a week of trailing her to make sure she had no bad habits (such as heavy exercise or mood swings brought on by PMS), Charlie made his move.

It would be nice to think he got his wish, that he spent the remainder of his days adorning Malandra’s creamy hips, caressing her peachy buttocks, and grazing her holiest of holies whilst wolfing down untold tins of Spam between changings. Yes, it would be nice to think he finally made it, living happily ever after in the golden-snatched cottage of his making. But, let’s just say that’s not exactly what happened.

Life’s kinda like that; deal with it.

Not two blissful days into his vulvar vacation, Charlie’s idyllic little world all came crashing down. As it turned out, Malandra’s Greek boyfriend had just returned from visiting relatives at a Soho strip joint, and he spent his entire first day back attempting to rewrite the Kama Sutra.

At first this didn’t overly bother Charlie; it was obvious that a girl like Malandra would have a plague of male admirers. In fact, during his surveillance, he had seen a long procession of vermin accompany her home, rattling her headboard long into the night. He really didn’t mind she was such a pied piper, and if truth be told it quite excited him; there was sure to be a surplus of bodily fluids bubbling all Jacuzzi-like around him whenever she slipped him back on. If he had wanted a virgin, he would have snuck into a convent with an entire hamper full of his precious pink meat.

But what Charlie hadn’t counted on was the peculiar kink harboured by Manos, Malandra’s Mediterranean lover.

On the night that was to change his life forever, Charlie lay draped invitingly over his beloved’s pudenda, bathing in her juices. Manos, his jeans jutting out alarmingly, leapt on top of her and tried to swallow her face as Charlie felt himself dampen, praying that the lusty Greek would probe his fingers through him before he was removed.

‘Oh Malandra!’ moaned Manos. ‘You so sexy, I’m gonna EAT THOSE PANTIES RIGHT OFFA YOU!!!’

The last thing Charlie remembered, before his rebirth in the stomach of the doomed, hungry horn-dog, was a scream, an explosion, and a muffled ‘Ohh, SHEEEET!!!’

Later, the police found him curled on the floor, wrapped in a tangle of innards.

‘Spam,’ Charlie told them.

‘Porridge,’ they replied.

***

Murder…

He still couldn’t bear to think about the word, but he’d have a nice, long time to practice. A lifetime, in fact.

Where the hell was his sister? She was late, and the guards were strict about visiting times. He needed to see her, needed someone to say they understood and loved him no matter what.

And then there she was, Eileen, sweet Eileen.

There she sat before him, her lips all aquiver; her glistening Bambi eyes… Raising her hand to the shatterproof glass (the way she’d seen them do in all the prison movies), she was just able to whimper, ‘Oh, Charles…’

‘Oh Eiuurrruurrhhg,’ Charlie gurgled in response, his mouth full of Spam he’d smuggled from the commissary.

What the hell, he thought; Eileen always had a cute ass.

John D Robinson

The View

Hunched down in my front porch,
smoking a joint, looking out at
the tree-tops of the public park
and beyond into blue skies,
birds are heard near and distant,
cats lounge and sleep on the
warm pavements, I can hear
traffic moving far off and the
moment feels perfect, it looks
perfect, the world before me
is perfect but I know from my
radio and t.v. reports that
people are killing and hurting
one another in the most hideous
of ways in our streets across
the globe; wars and conflicts
claiming countless lives
rampage endlessly across the
world and so it has done so
for thousands of years and
it’s not going to change,
world peace will never exist,
it’s not wanted, too few
people would lose too
much; those few that
govern the many:
but the view I have from my
front porch is a perfect
view of the world and
for that moment,
it was just perfect.

Kyle Kouri

God Shines Brightest on the Highest Man

In college I had a roommate named Jason. Lord knows I gave that poor kid hell. The year was full of heavy drug abuse. My girlfriend accused me of being a pill popper. She said, “Jack, you’re going to die!”

Jason told me, “Jack, I come home sometimes and think you’re possessed by the devil. I get nervous when you lock yourself in the bathroom to take a shower because you’re in there so long; I never know what drugs you might be on, and if you’re still alive.”

I laughed and laughed and laughed. What fools.

In fact I was the happiest I had ever been. There’s nothing like snorting a bunch of painkillers and sitting down to work on a story. You sit there staring at the words you’ve written and suddenly an idea strikes you. You realize how it’s going to end. You understand that you have pieced together the impossible. You have scrawled lines, swirls, and scribbles on a piece of paper that vaguely resemble a maze and with one fateful stroke you’ve created the thread that’ll lead the mouse to the cheese. Your nonsensical ramblings have become a masterpiece.

One day I stood up at the desk in my dorm and yelled, “Jason, my beloved friend and companion! God has graced me. I have created something brilliant.” I ran over to Jason, grabbed his shoulders, and shook him violently. “Don’t you understand? Don’t you ever feel like everything has been put into place more perfectly than you could have ever anticipated? God has picked you, man!”

Jason trembled uncomfortably. “That’s great, Jack. What’s your story about?”

“I can’t tell you now. It’s too soon. But the time will come. Now I must go. There’s much to drink on this campus.”

The next day I caught a train to visit my girlfriend in Connecticut. I arrived at her house and found her on the patio, smoking cigarettes with someone I didn’t know. I was about to talk to them but got distracted by how green the grass was and how purple the sky.

“A storm’s coming,” I mumbled to myself and wandered around the patio’s perimeter, staring at the clouds, patting the bushes, trying to gauge how much time we had.

“Jack, what the fuck are you doing?” my girlfriend said.

“Me? Jesus, nothing. Stay where you are.”

“What the fuck are you on?” she asked.

I looked at her and flashed a devilish smile. “Be patient, baby. Be patient.”

“You’re such an asshole. If you’re going to do this stuff, you should at least wait until you’re here. I’m sick of you showing up to my house high out of your mind.”

I sighed and made my way back to her. I sat down and kissed her arm. “I’m sorry, I love you.” I licked her neck, her face, and then I threw myself on her. She started laughing, but tried to stop.

“Stop it, you’re crazy. Stop.”

I turned towards her friend and said, “Hello, Suzan. Kate? Mary? Who the fuck are you, lady?”

“Don’t listen to him,” my girlfriend said.

“Yes, yes, don’t listen. I’m Jack, who are you? Sorry, for my behavior. It’s something in the air.”

I sniffed.

She said, “I’m Jen.”

“Jesus, I called it! Didn’t I? Somebody rewind the tape recorder! I fucking called it!”

Later my girlfriend and I went to her room and made out on her bed. I started taking off her pants but she said, “Wait. I want whatever you’re on.”

“God damn it, woman. Why do you do this to me?” I retrieved my pocketed painkillers and decided I’d crush up some Oxycontin for us to split.

We snorted a few lines and she said, “Oooo, this burns my nose.” She started skippering around a little bit, all excited that I let her do drugs. “Wait, I have to go pee before we have sex.”

She ran to the bathroom and I bolted the other way towards my bag and searched frantically for the other pill bottles. I found them and after serious debate decided that the best pill to swallow was the morphine. I could save the Percocets for after we had sex.

I took the pill down the hatch and then looked at myself in the mirror. It was at this moment I realized my true beauty. My hair was all messy and my eyes were so glazed, pupils nearly gone, but that smile still so sharp, I was the sexiest man to ever live. ‘I’m so ready to fuck,’ I thought.

“You crazy motherfucker,” she said.

“You hot little slut.”

“Oh, yeah, fuck your little slut. Do whatever you want to me.”

And I did.

Early evening in the evening, I tucked myself away in my girlfriend’s mom’s office. I sat at her computer and finished my story while rain poured and thunder boomed outside. “Truly the writings of a true writer,” I whispered. “Thank you, God, for this gift. I will not exploit my talent.”

I prepared to print out copies for everybody to read. The story was forty-six pages long and judging by the stack of printing paper stacked by the printer, I could manage sixteen copies. “Meager supplies, but this will have to do,” I said and got to work.

A half hour later, my girlfriend walked into the room.

“Jesus, Jack. What the hell are you doing?” I was crouched down on the floor over sixteen stacks of paper, organizing. I had dropped some copies, slipped on others. Since I had forgotten to add page numbers, the task was long and tedious.

“I have run into some problems with the printing process, but things will work themselves out.”

“No, I mean. That’s all my mom’s paper!”

“I don’t have time to argue with you. Tell your mother I will reimburse her through my love, loyalty, and good care of her beautiful daughter.”

“You’re fucking crazy. What’s your story about?”

“The human condition.”

“What’s that?”

“I couldn’t tell you, but I think it will prove very important to us one day.”

“I want more.”

“Sex?”

“No, painkillers idiot!”

“Well, when I’m around you, I have trouble doing one without the other.”

I got what I wanted.

Later my girlfriend and I lay naked on her bed. We were both pretty far gone. She looked at me and said,

“Hey, I think my pupils have disappeared.”

“I know, isn’t it beautiful.”

“And my heart’s not beating anymore.”

“…I know, isn’t it beautiful.”

The next day I left early so that I could make it to my class and hand out the story. My girlfriend was half asleep as I got up. She groped at me and pulled me back towards her. I was trying to put my boxers on and she was trying to pull them off. I was trying to put my dick in my pants and she was trying to jack it off. She said, “Don’t go, stay with me.”

“Listen, love of my life. I will be back soon enough.”

“Wait, I’m still so fucking high from last night. Is that bad?”

“I’ll tell you what, I’m extremely exhausted and I need to borrow some of your ADD medication. I will repay you by leaving some of what we did last night in the bottle. It’ll be a trade, okay? Baby? Have you dozed off again?”

“Don’t go,” she whispered and then was gone. I scrambled to get my clothes on and then ran over to her bathroom to swap medications.

The day started early for me. It was not yet an hour before noon, and I was soaring. I was so high. I had a backpack full of sixteen finely crafted short stories and a head full of opiates and Adderall.

I was taking a shit in a public bathroom at Grand Central before transferring onto the next train, which leads back to school. I was listening to ‘No Woman, No Cry’ by Bob Marley on my iPod.

I breathed in the stink of the loo. I stared at the piss stains in the creases of the marble floor. I studied the leg and feet fashion of people at the parallel urinals. Businessmen in slacks and loafers; truckers in blue jeans and Timberlands; young rockers in purple jeans. Men, unified in the shitter. It was truly beautiful.

It occurred to me that this was the answer and it had been revealed to me. I needed to deliver the message. I jumped out of the stall and yelled, “Friends of all shapes and sizes, occupations and races, monetary statuses, sexual orientations and political sway! God is love and YOU ARE LOVED! Goodbye and take well care of yourselves! We… Are… Chosen.”

I ran out of the bathroom and made my way to the train, smiling at the good work I had done. I turned my iPod up and whispered, “Rest in Peace, Bob Marley. Rest… in… peace.”

In class I passed out my story. The teacher began dealing with preliminaries and I watched some of my peers start scanning the first few pages. I stealthily studied their faces. One smiled, another frowned, another yawned and looked at her watch, clearly bored with life. What are you even doing here? I wondered. Another flipped to the last page and began reading that. You fucking idiot, have you no respect! I wanted to yell. I wanted to breathe fire and watch her flesh burn. It didn’t matter, I told myself. Just read it and weep, assholes.

Read it and weep.

Later that day, Jason and I had lunch. I asked him a question. “So Jason, you’re into urban renewal and essentially an anarchist, or wait, was it a Marxist? I forgot.”

“I’m undecided, politically. But I think we need to rework the whole structure of our cities if poverty is ever going to end.”

“But why would you want it to end?” I slammed my fist onto the table, our glasses of OJ waxing and splashing dramatically in the pale, sun-speckled cafeteria air. “It’s so fucking beautiful! There would never have been any great art if this world wasn’t such a dirty, stinking, shithole!”

“I don’t want to argue about this, Jack.”

“Fine, I’m going for a drive,” I said, and stormed off. I went back to my room and took some Xanax, but it ended up being Seroquel, so I passed out until past midnight. When I woke up I was in a truly terrible mood.

“Jason! What fucking time is it?” I yelled, but all that responded was silence. I jumped off my bed and ran to his. He was sleeping soundly. I pulled the covers off him and screamed again, “Jesus, Jason. I don’t have time for games. What time is it?”

“Wha? What are you doing? I’m sleeping, Jack.”
“Yes, fine. This is all well and good. But you need to wake up for a minute and tell me the time.”

“What? Are you kidding, just check…”

“Oh my God. Never mind. I’ll do it myself.” I went over to the lamp and flipped the on-switch. Then I sat at my desk and started searching for the morphine. I found some lying around my desk drawer next to a Playboy magazine which I had hid in Jason’s bed one day to piss him off because he’s a feminist.

I started crushing up the pills with an empty beer bottle and cutting up lines with my student ID. Behind me Jason was groaning and stumbling out of bed.

“Jack, what are you doing.”

“Nothing, man. Sorry for waking you up. Go back to bed,” I said, soothingly.

“But you turned on the light.”

“It’ll be off in a second, don’t worry bro.” I took out the tampon tube from my shirt’s breast pocket and started snorting up the lines.

“Jack… are you… doing… co-cocaine?”

“Does this look like cocaine to you, Jason?” I said, my voice rising in anger.

“I don’t know…”

“It’s fucking blue, man! Come on,” I exclaimed, finished the last line and then got up. I went to my closet and grabbed a coat. I put it on and headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” Jason asked.

“I’m going for a drive.”

When I was younger I used to have to take shits at inconvenient times. I’d be in the middle of traffic on the 405, stuck between Wilshire and Santa Monica exits, and it would hit me. A really messy crap out of nowhere filled up my ass. There’d be no options, and I wasn’t even getting off at Wilshire. I was going to the fucking valley, man! Or I’d be walking from point A to point F, and I’d only be at point C, and bam, the shit came. I’d have to waddle for miles in brutal discomfort. Once I started doing drugs, everything became easier. I barely ever have to shit, unless I want to. And then I do it on command.

I woke up around 6am, finding myself sprawled in the backseat of my car, parked outside my girlfriend’s house. On my lap sat a moleskin journal, scrawled with fresh poems of depression, drug addiction, and the guilty ramblings of a young man who’s lost all his friends. I needed a proper place to sleep. I called my girlfriend’s father. Clearly I had woke him up.

“Hello, Bill? It’s Jack.”

“Jack? What? It’s 6am. What are you doing calling me?”

“Yes, I’m aware and I’m very sorry. But you see, it turns out I’m in the area. Do you think I could come over and take a nap in the guestroom?”

“No, Jesus, are you kidding? Absolutely not. Don’t call back.” He hung up the phone. I decided to drive to the high school where my girlfriend went and park there. I would wait for her to arrive and see how things turned out.

Two hours later I was crouching outside the school’s entrance. As my girlfriend trundled along to the blue boring door I pounced.

“Baby, it’s me. Can we talk?”

“Jesus, Jack! What are you doing here?”

“I came to see you.”

“At eight in the morning?”

“That doesn’t matter, how are you?”

“Ugh, come with me.” She dragged me inside and took me into the closest girl’s bathroom. “You know, asshole. You let me have so much of that shit the other day that I spent all yesterday throwing up my stomach lining. My friends say I shouldn’t even be with you. They say you’re just a drug addict now and don’t even care about me.”

“Listen, that’s what I wanted to talk about. I think we should break up,” I said.

She looked at me. Her face dropped. The shock didn’t last long and her eyes began swelling with dewy teardrops.

“…What? What are you talking about?”

“We’re in two different places with our lives. I need to be alone so I can focus on my writing. You need to enjoy high school, baby. That’s all.”

“You’re fucking kidding me? This doesn’t make any sense.”

“Listen, you’ve never understood me! You think you know me but you don’t, okay!”

“Jack, don’t do this. It’s the drugs talking. You don’t mean it.”

“The drugs don’t mean a thing! This is the realest me I’ve ever been. I’ve never felt so in touch with myself, baby. I love you, but I have to go.”

“I… I hate you. I fucking hate you!” She started hitting me with her purse, and the tears were really flowing now. I pushed her close to me, kissed her forehead amidst all the violence and then ran to the door.

“I’m, I’m sorry,” I said, quickly dispensing a fresh tampon from the wall machine before I left.
Back in my car I listened to music loud and tried to sing along to the songs. My ex-girlfriend had left her purse on the passenger’s seat so I took a few of her Adderall and then dropped the bag off in her family’s mailbox before leaving for school. The mixture of Adderall and morphine is a twisted combination indeed. Pure ecstatic oblivion. I was having trouble remembering the lyrics to any of my favorite songs, so I started singing gibberish to the tune of the melody.

“Do-da, skippy-town, flip, bla, blow. In the blitz, of a high town woah. Blam, diddy, damn day. Motherfucker, yeah, hey. Whaa”—

A few days later it was time for my story to be workshopped. I took some Xanax before the class and had trouble keeping my eyes open from minute one. It’s true I didn’t realize I had taken so much, but this also worked towards my advantage. Now people knew I didn’t care so much about this stupid class.

“Well, I really, you know, I liked this story. But I think…” Ha, I knew it. Going exactly according to plan. He liked it.

“This story was really, um, unique… but…” Unique. I’m one of a kind. The Xanax was really taking hold of me now. I had to excuse myself.

“Listen, people. I have to be right back.” I went to the bathroom and quickly cut up some lines of my ex-girlfriend’s Adderall and snorted them on the crusty lid of the toilet bowl.

Back in class, another kid cleared his throat and picked back up the discussion. “The narrator is an… interesting one.”

Enough. I understood it all very clearly. Pretty soon class would be over and I would prepare to submit to the publishers. It was all so easy. My body shivered. A smile was creeping on my face and I knew it wouldn’t go away for a long, long time.

Later on, I walked into my room and saw Jason at his computer. My face was grim. I sagged my shoulders and collapsed onto my bed like it was six feet under the ground.

“How’d the critique go, Jack?” my poor roommate asked.

“I don’t know anymore, Jason. I’m doing everything all wrong. I have to get my shit together. I broke up with my girlfriend, and everything just feels so off.”

“Really?” he said, his voice filled with honest concern.

I sighed and paused a beat.

Then I jumped off the bed, ran to Jason, grabbed his shoulders, and shook him, shook him violently. “NO! HA! Of course not,” I yelled. “They love me, man! They really, really love me! I’m going to be a star!”

J.J. Campbell

straight from cuba

seek out the lord
in the piano bar
down the street

maybe in the
curves of the
beautiful woman
playing the bass
guitar

maybe the lord
is lining up on
the table in the
corner

or unzipping her
shirt a little as she
tries to make an
impossible combo
shot

seek out the lord
in a plume of cigar
smoke straight from
cuba

the lord surely must
be in this glass of
whiskey

you have to be
a little drunk to
believe in a place
called heaven

Robert Ragan

It’s Only Art

Life gives us the rope
The world gives us the rope
These powers that be
Wait for us to hang ourselves

We deface your murals
Says the shady performance artist
who burns himself with lit cigarettes

He inflicts this pain physically
For all the pain he’s endured emotionally

Before his tormentor
This lost soul sticks the glowing cherry to his arm
This is for the time you fucked a total stranger
in your car

Lighting the cigarette again
He raises his head and sticks it to his throat

The woman starts to cry
She begs him to stop

He laughs and says
That was for the time I caught you in bed
with those two masked men
He calls her a promiscuous demon

The burning continues as well as the stories
behind the pain
He says we’ll black out your eyes
before the camera stops filming

Covered in oozing blisters afterward
He asks the woman he paid to do this
Would you like to go out and have a few drinks
She says No then walks out of the room

Alone, he lights another cigarette
Laughing, he puts it out on his forehead

A. Lynn Blumer

Crimson & Chrome

White light shot through Hank’s skull like buckshot. He didn’t remember drinking enough to split his very mind apart, but, then again, he didn’t remember much of anything from the night before. He draped an arm over his eyes, relished what he assumed to be the cold bathroom floor against his cheek, and tried to recall what had happened.

***

The bar seemed off, quiet. He walked across the narrow room and slid onto his regular stool. The bartender came over soon after.

“Hiya, Hank.”

“Hey, Trix. Just beer tonight.”

Triksey gave him a playfully suspicious look. “You sick or something?”

“Naw, just taking a break.”

She chuckled and pulled a brown bottle from a cooler under the bar. The cap clinked onto the floor by her feet and she set the opened bottle in front of him.

Hank closed his eyes, tried to smother the unnerved feeling in his gut, and let the pale ale prickle his throat.

Three beers in without another soul speaking to him, Hank began to wonder if it was him who had set the bar off tonight. The usual amount of patrons were about, but none of them were mingling like they usually do. He looked around at the faces he knew, trying to catch someone’s eye, but everyone seemed content with keeping to themselves.

As he turned his head back to the bar, Hank noticed a woman now standing beside him. She held a beer in each hand, and between those beers were a pair of supple breasts supported by a golden bra under a black tank-top. Her tits swelled ever so slightly from each cup, forming a cleavage you could bury your face in.

A cleavage you could lose your whole head down and die in.

He was pretty sure her hair was brown.

Hank was relatively attractive himself. It was how he got away with being such a drunk asshole, eight-out-of-ten times, and still got laid on the regular. It didn’t hurt that he wasn’t bad in bed either. As a result, he was used to decently hot women buying him drinks now and then, but this bitch was easily a bangin’ ten.

As she extended one of her beers in his direction, he watched the salacious smirk creep across her full, red lips, fuck me beaming from her eyes. No man willing and able could’ve possibly refused her offer, but shortly after he’d accepted it was when things had gotten hazy.

***

The bitch had drugged him.

Slowly sitting up, Hank grimaced as his eyes adjusted to the blinding light, taking in his surroundings. He wasn’t in a bathroom at all. Fluorescent lights overhead gleamed like knives upon the chrome bars of his cage. The concrete walls were windowless and the floor was covered in black linoleum, still wet from its last wash. A chrome grate, to match his cage, covered a drain in the center of the room.

“What the hell…” he grunted, rising to his feet with effort.

It was then that the room’s sole door swung open soundlessly.

The woman from the bar strutted in with a baleful expression on her face. Her bosom was now bulging out from a black leather corset, and her fishnets were held up by a golden garter belt. As she approached his cage, Hank could see her eight-inch stilettos were actually blades blunted at the end.

This woman was some kind of freak. He had no qualms with freaks and had dealt with his fair share, but this one—this whole situation was a bit unsettling to say the least.

“Look, lady…” Hank began, raising his hands tentatively. “Whatever you’re into, I’m not really feeling it. Please just let me out of here.”

“No,” she replied, cold and flat.

He blinked once, and then his brow furrowed. He took an aggressive step in her direction. “I’m sorry,” he continued, “I should rephrase that: Let me out of this fucking cage, right now!”

“Awww…” she replied, tilting her head as she gave him her best sad-but-sensual look. “But you haven’t even met my pet yet.”

“Your pet?”

Before anything else could be said, Hank heard something else move through doorway behind her. He could see nothing distinct but a slight distortion in the air. The water on the floor clearly dispersed as something big and unseen crawled into the room, heaving deep, bestial breaths.

“What the fuck is that!?”

Maybe his mind had split. If nothing else, it was halfway to Long Gone by now.

The woman said nothing in response, reaching into her cleavage and producing a key.

Hank felt the bottom of his guts drop away, and suddenly there was only one word bouncing back and forth inside his head:

Shit shit shit shit shit shit…

As soon as the cage had been opened, the invisible creature was in there with him.

He was only given one step back before something wrapped around his ankle and yanked him off his feet. Before his head could even bounce off the chrome-plated steel, it had him by the wrists, too. The impact nearly knocked him out, but he quickly recovered as the stench of ammonia and sulfur breeched his senses.

He felt his flesh beginning to melt under the creature’s grip. He screamed and flailed against its might, but the more he moved, the faster his limbs disintegrated. All he could do was lie still—as still as he possibly could, holding down his stomach as it turned over his fervid pain and the vile stench which enveloped him.

His captor’s stilettos clicked upon the floor of his cage as she walked over and came to stand directly over his head, brazenly displaying her bare pudendum. Albeit, his agony was so overwhelming that he didn’t pay her any attention whatsoever.

She didn’t like that one bit.

Lifting one foot, she promptly drove the blade of her heel straight down into his palm. He bellowed and convulsed as a whole new wave of agony threatened to pull him out with the tide, his skin salty wet on this beach of burning napalm.

Hank’s eyes fluttered to indicate he was still marginally present. “You fuc-king cunt…” he stuttered, “you… fuuc-king cunt…”

She squatted down then, so his head was between her thighs.

“Ohh my…” she said, her voice thick with a carnal urge, “I do like a man with a dirty mouth…”

And then, pulling a syringe from her garter belt, she bit off its cap and drove it straight into his neck.

Hank felt his mind detach. The pain fell away instantly. Then everything faded to black.

***

Hank came to in mid-thrust.

He was naked now and the woman was on top of him, corset gone and tits bouncing. They were on a platform surrounded by a silent audience, a mix of men and women, their gilded accessories glittering like stars in the darkness beyond the stage lights.

All Hank could do was fuck. His wrists and ankles were open vermillion sores, and his wounded palm bled freely upon her hip. Despite his deepest urge to throw the bloodless whore off of him right then and there, he was nothing but a rock-hard cock-puppet about to bust a nut.

And when he did seconds later, the woman grinned with immense glee, and the crowd gave an amiable applause.

She pulled back slowly, letting his limp dick slide out of her and slap against his stomach. And then, sprawling out between his inert legs, she leaned on one elbow, closed her eyes, and slipped a hand down between her legs.

As soon as she started playing with her clit, the crowd fell silent once again.

Lost in a druggy, postcoital haze, Hank could only watch as she brought herself to climax. Her back arched and her legs trembled as the audience grew audible once again, seats squeaking as everyone leaned in for a better view.

Then, something began to emerge from her sex-slicked vulva.

As the head of a large rattlesnake came forth, the woman released a guttural roar from between tightly clenched teeth. She fell onto her back, still panting and pushing vigorously, until finally she lay still and serene.

What the fuck… what the fuck!

Hank was still helpless atop the platform. Whatever was in that syringe kept him her inanimate captive, bound to her every wish.

The snake slid over her thigh and up her belly, leaving a slimy trail of cum across her skin. It slithered between her tits, still glistening with sweat, and eventually came to rest on her shoulder.

Smiling with maternal bliss, she placed a gentle hand upon it, stroking her newborn lovingly. And then, just as quickly as the reptile itself could’ve struck, she took it in her grip, grabbed its thrashing body with her other hand, and sank her teeth deep into its neck.

Dark blood spurted out over her lips, down her chin, and pooled in a lake above her collarbone. With a savage twist, she tore the snake’s head clean off its body, spitting it off to one side.

Hank could see the thing still snapping its fangs in a vain attempt to take something—anything down with it. Its body thrashed as well, but the woman had both hands on it, literally squeezing out its guts all over her naked, writhing form.

When a shiny, black sphere materialized where the snake’s head used to be, floating into mid-air, no one in the audience seemed surprised in any way.

Meanwhile, the woman had discarded the slippery, empty husk of her snake, casting it at Hank’s flaccid dick as she crawled to her feet. And then, without so much as a glance back at him, she promptly descended from the platform.

Horrified and confused, Hank watched as the floating sphere began to grow in size. It seemed to become more translucent as it expanded, yet reflected nothing on its obsidian surface.

Jesus fucking Christ, this can’t be good…

The moment its edge touched his skin, it began to suck him in, slowly shredding his body into a fine, red mist.

FUUUUCK FUUUUCK FUUUUUHHAAAHHHH

Through all of this, his senses remained fully intact. His body lay still and silent, but inside the agony subsumed all else, including his final incoherent thoughts.

The hellish thing consumed him entirely. The crowd was already on their feet. The sphere pulsed three times and then began to shift its shape.

Elongating and concaving upon itself, it morphed into three long spires which spiraled around each other but never touched. Waves rippled across its freshly wrought surface as it solidified into a crimson crystalline statue.

The audience roared with applause. The woman returned to the side of the platform and took a bow.

***

An auction was held later in the evening over cocktails and morsels. The statue sold for 6.9 billion dollars.

Andrew Hilbert

The Owner’s Room

We were drunk. It was stupid but we were drunk. It’s not an excuse. It just is what it is.

We were celebrating Sofia’s acceptance into grad school. We were anticipating having no free time between us once she started, so we decided to do the whole Airbnb thing and rent a vacation home in Arroyo Seco, the mountains in New Mexico.

On our way up, we stopped by a small bar. Thanks to the liquor laws in that state, we could do all our bulk shopping as we sat on barstools and drank cocktail after cocktail.

A bottle of Jack. Two twelve packs of Bud. Fuck it. Make that two bottles of Jack.

The house was beautiful. Heated floors, a gorgeous view of purple mountains, and a fireplace. We dropped our things at the front door.

The owner had wood all set up for us and everything. He’d even left a note:

Welcome to beautiful Arroyo Seco and congratulations to Sofia on grad school! Mi casa es su casa. The hot tub should be heated! Remember to rate us on the Airbnb website! – Gordon

“Gordon,” Sofia said, “that’s a name you don’t hear too often.”

I nodded.

“Let’s get naked,” I said. “The hot tub’s ready.”

We wasted no time at all getting down to our birthday suits. I uncapped the Jack, took a big chug and passed it to Sofia. She did the same and passed it back. I took one of the twelve packs with me as we went outside.

“This place is fucking beautiful,” Sofia said.

“Uh huh,” I said and took another swig.

Fifteen minutes later we were both drunk. We can drink, all right.

An hour was about all we could take in the tub. The water had been heated to 101 degrees. My poor, sagging nutsack couldn’t withstand much more despite all its alcohol-induced numbness.

And I had whiskey dick.

So much for being naked…

By contrast, it was something like twenty degrees outside. The snow was packed in. As soon as I stepped out of the tub, my nipples got hard as rocks, and my previously pendulous scrotum shrivelled up to the size of a coin purse.

“Hu-huh-holeeeeeeeeeeeeey FUUCK it’s cold!”

“Um hum, YEEAH it is!” Sofia giggled. Our words waxed longer with our waning sobriety.

We slop-hopped back into the house, naked and giggling all the way. The good thing about vacationing in the mountains is that there aren’t neighbors to disturb. We could be as drunk and naked as we damn-well pleased and there’d be no one to judge or try stopping us.

“Oh my god, oh my god,” Sofia said. “I j-just had the, ummm, fuck… I forgot…”

“Remember it when you tell me,” I said, my eyes crossing as I tried to roll them back into my mind to figure out exactly how drunk I was.

“Oh!” she said. Her feet were clumsy and her ankles wobbled as she shivered into some kind of clarity. “I got it! I had the, ummm, ca-raziest think – thought. I think, what if, wouldn’t it be fucking crazy if the Gordon, if that’s his REAL name, was like whacking off right now watching us on a webcam or something?”

“Pssssht…” my mouth was numb. “Fuck you. He’s propubly, probubbly, probably looking at my fucking dick thinking, Woah, that’m big’m.”

We both busted out laughing because we looked down at my dick at the same time. It was clearly still recovering from the intense cold. Nobody’d think that’m big’m about it right then, if ever.

Sofia wandered away from me and I stumbled around looking for the other bottle of Jack. It was, of course, right where we left it. Right next to the fucking front door, which we’d forgot to even close.

I uncapped the Jack and took a nice, big ol’ swig.

“What? What? What? Larry!” Sofia sounded confused – not confused like she had no capability of understanding what she was confused about, but confused like she was on the verge of understanding but never quite there. “What? What? What? Wow. Woah. Larry!”

“I’m c-coming, I’m c-comin’,” I said, belching loudly as I tried to locate her within the strange house.

“Larry, Luh-luh-lurry!” Sofia’s eyes were only half open by this point, the left one looking upward and the right one drifting rightward. She was absolutely fucking hammered. “Wha-wha-what’s erse ser?”

“Wh-whut?” I asked.

“Whaz erd sare?” She pointed to the placard on the door. It took me a second to quit seeing double, but squinting hard I was able to make it out.

“Oh no room,” I said, “Ohnor’s room, do not enter.”

“Owner’s rum,” she repeated, nodding with profound understanding. “Fuck him! We pained f-f-for therse, we go whern we wantgoer. I, I… I thought we lived in a freedom country??”

I raised my hand for a high five.

“Fuck yeah,” I said, “Fuck him. This is America!” Suddenly I felt the urge to hurl, catching myself just in time. “I almost threw up,” I said, and then I did.

Thick chunks of whiskey-infused vomit sprayed all over the door before us. Looking down, I could see that the large puddle I’d spewn had already begun to flow underneath the door and into the owner’s private room.

Fuuucck…

“He-heeere’s our chance,” I said. “We’s gotsa clean it up now, righ? We’s gotta go up in!” I pointed at the puke for emphasis and Sofia nodded her approval. I nodded back and then winked because I noticed we were both still naked. “Fuck yeah,” I said, pointing down at her freshly trimmed landing strip.

Sofia instinctually grabbed for the doorknob, but it was locked of course.

“Ki-kick it down, you fu-fuckin’ pussy,” she said, pointing at my dick.

“It’s c-c-cold, shu-shut up.”

Determined to prove something to her, I kicked and kicked but never really worked up the kind of drunk strength I expected myself to.

“We needuh SS-SL-AMM inna it…” I said. I made the motion with my shoulder into the door. “Thlee counts,” I said.

One, two, three…

The door came off its hinges and we landed inside.

“I think my buth’s gok sp-splinfers,” Sofia said, picking at her upraised ass. She had a good laugh, too.

But then the laughs wore off – they always do – and we were still splayed upon the floor atop a broken door. I’d landed on my belly while Sofia had landed on her back. I rolled over to look at her.

She looked scared.

“Sh-sh-sh-shit!” Sofia said.

“Whuh..?”

She didn’t say anything. Instead, she just pointed at the ceiling.

I followed her finger to what she was pointing at.

A very fat, pinkish man stared down at us from a hammock made of chicken wire suspended from the ceiling. He was completely naked and covered with hexagonal lacerations where the wires cut into his skin. Hanging before him were a rigged-up water bottle and kibble dispenser – the kind you’d see in hamster cages.

“Shit FUCK duuuuuuude!” I screamed. “We gotta g-guh-get you downer there!”

“No, no, NO-NO-NO!!!” the strange man said, his voice shaking with fear. “He’s watching us…”

Swinging himself toward the kibble dispenser, his tongue lolled out just far enough to collect his prize. As he swung back, a huge metal paddle flew down from the ceiling and spanked him hard on his ass.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the scene.

“What’s so funny??” the man squealed. “That fucking paddle has NAILS in it!!”

Sure enough, I could see the reddened points on the the paddle where it had returned to the ceiling.

“Every time, every time, EVER GODDAMN TIME I swing for a sip of water or a bit of kibble, every time that goddamn bloody paddle comes down and…”

He could hardly find the words between his welling tears.

“…I don’t even know how to enjoy it anymore!”

“Wha-what?” Sofia asked. “The kibble or the spanking?”

He didn’t answer. He just swung for water and got spanked for it.

“The bastard. The BASTARD!!!! Makes the kibble extra salty, so I can’t help but get thirsty… Two spanks! Two spanks, guaranteed! What kind of monster?!”

Sofia and I looked at each other. We knew we weren’t dreaming or hallucinating, but we couldn’t help thinking that something about our unholy level of intoxication was making this even more bizarre than it already was.

That moment of drunken wonderment between us was cut short by a splash of warm liquid from above.

I looked back up. The fat guy was now pissing on us.

“Woaah, oaah, woaah,” he moaned in agony. “That bastard! The fucking son of a bitch! He’s watching! And he’s loving every minute of it! I KNOW he puts something in the water to make it burn when I pee… He loves this! He LOVE torturing me!”

“Luh-luh-lissen, dude,” Sofia said, stumbling to her feet. “Listen, you know? Like, riight?”

She then promptly slipped in the puddle of piss and fell back down on the floor.

“Ow, man,” she moaned. “That shit’s f-FUH-fucked up!”

“We g-gotta get you DOWN frrem der, man!” I said.

“No! No!” he shouted, wriggling in his rusty metal net. “He’ll find me. He’ll FIND me… He’ll find me and he’ll KILL me! And THEN he’ll kill everyone I’ve ever loved… He promised!”

Ignoring his blubbering, I hopped up and commenced grabbing onto anything I could hold onto in hopes of tugging his ass down. I was too drunk.

I lost interest when I noticed Sofia snoring. I was jealous. I hated when she fell asleep without me.

“You..” I said pointing to the man, “You. What’s your name?”

“Ugh, what’s the point?”

“Fine, dude. Whatever,” I said as I began to lay down next to Sofia. “I’m j-just gonna close my eyes fer a… fur a sec…”

And with that, I passed out almost instantly.

When I finally came to, it felt like someone was swinging a mallet around the inside my head. As my vision gradually came into focus, I saw that Sofia looked to be in even worser shape, dry heaving on her hands and knees beside me.

Like Adam and Eve after eating the forbidden fruit, we were suddenly aware of our nakedness and ashamed before stranger dangling above us. He swung himself in the direction of the kibble dispenser and snagged himself a piece.

As before, his ass was greeted with a savage swat of the paddle.

“OWW!!!”

Sofia looked over at me.

“I’m scared…” she said, wiping the puke from her mouth. “The door is off its hinges. Once Gordon discovers that, we’ll never get our deposit back!”

“Yeah,” I said, rubbing my groggy head. “Unless he knows we know something we shouldn’t…”

I pointed up and winked at Sofia. She smiled back, giving me a look like I was the smartest guy in the world and I was the one going to grad school.

Jeff O’Brien

Welcome to the Unknown

Delivering pizza on Halloween Night. Well, that wasn’t really the way Roddy would have wanted to spend the cherished holiday. His spirits remained high, however, for he was making a killing on tips and just made a pit stop at the corner store to stock up with three fresh packs of butts.

It was extra dark out with some wind and a slight rainfall to at least set the mood as he drove through the city streets liberally indulging in his surplus of cigarettes. A few late trick-or-treaters had braved the elements with their parents, scurrying about with sacks and pumpkin-shaped pails full of childhood delights. Costumed adults were out too, enduring the precipitation and drunkenly stumbling about to the bars and the local festivities. And wouldn’t you know, as usual, plenty of females displayed plenty of cleavage and ass cheeks despite the wet chill. Roddy would have preferred to be among them, but Halloween was always a busy night in the pizza industry, and tips were his livelihood. Tonight, he’d make the best of things. Maybe something good would happen. Time to light another smoke and turn up the music.

The sounds of death metal blasted from his car stereo. Barely decipherable lyrics filled his mind with pleasant thoughts of decapitation, disembowelment, and cannibalism. During a particular verse that Roddy loved, a verse about devouring a virgin’s entrails, the music lowered as his GPS spoke through his dashboard to inform him his destination was twenty feet ahead to the right.

Before hopping out of his car Roddy gave himself a quick inspection in the rearview mirror. He wasn’t one for conventional fashion; his wardrobe consisted of black t-shirts bearing the logos of metal bands and horror movies. He shaved maybe twice a week, and his hair hung over his eyes in a chin-length flop. But ever the hopeless romantic, he hoped that waiting behind every door he knocked on would be the love of his life – a girl with matching taste in music, movies, and clothing.

Roddy determined that he looked as good as he could hope for and stepped out of his car with the insulated pizza case in hand. He stopped and marveled as he took in the sight of the house; he’d never noticed this one before. Not quite a mansion, but the place was a gothic beauty with wrought iron fencing around the expertly decorated front lawn. Plastic skeletons and ghouls stared him down, welcoming him as he opened the gate and proceeded up the stone stairs to the porch. He was slightly miffed that the owner of the house hadn’t turned any lights on for him, inside or out, but appreciated the genuine eerie affect this delivery had on him.

Almost a minute after he had rung the bell, right when he was about to either ring again or give up, a light came on in the hallway and the door creaked open.

There’s much to be said for a woman who answers the door while smoking a cigarette, thought Roddy.

However, he retracted the sentiment within moments of thinking it. He realized that while working as a pizza delivery guy he’d been greeted at the front doors of many women who were smoking cigarettes. Most left much to be desired. This one in particular just stood out for some reason, and it wasn’t just the cigarette. Maybe it was the way she was smoking it. There was something in her attitude that made the butt hang naturally from her cherry-red lips as if it were a part of her. And it was goddamn sexy.

Still standing at the doorway, looking her up and down, Roddy felt a bond to this beautiful female – certainly a first when delivering pizza. Perhaps there was some clairvoyant skill that had lain dormant in him all his life that suddenly unlocked itself to let him know that there was something special about her. Something deep and mystical. Or was it just that she looked eerily familiar.

Much of her burning cigarette remained to be smoked. Had she lit the cigarette after he rang the bell over a minute ago? Did she actually prep and use the smoke as a prop to greet him with hints of seduction? And goddammit, she reminded him of someone. He’d seen her before.

Elvira!

Of course she was not really Elvira. But her heaving, milky breasts that tested the durability of the black bodice of her gothy dress gown could have been Elvira’s. The same could be said for her hair and makeup: a voluminous, silky-smooth ebony mane contrasting a pale but radiant visage. None of this, however, had the air of a Halloween costume. The image was definitely the person.

The woman was well on in years, possibly in her mid-fifties, or even sixty. But, aside from the minute lines etched on her face, she’d aged gracefully and maintained a high percentage of what Roddy assumed had always been an abundance of sex appeal – more than most women half her age. Below the massive breasts her small waist curved out into plump hips; there was no sag. Her skin was tight and densely filled.

“Come in, young man,” she said, her voice raspy like a phone sex operator, probably from years of smoking. “You can leave the pizza on the coffee table and have a seat on the couch, my dear. I’ll be back in a minute.”

My dear?

“Sure thing. All right if I smoke too?”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, handsome. Now go get comfy.”

Roddy lit another butt and did as he was instructed and found himself on a couch he’d hoped wouldn’t be as comfortable as it was. The cushions formed to his body, welcoming him warmly much like his unexpected host. He had more deliveries to make, but it seemed that whatever was about to happen would be worth losing his job over. There were plenty of pizza delivery places in town.

Looking around the room Roddy took great interest in its decorations. He’d walked right into a palace of horror. Framed movie posters of old, obscure fright flicks showed the age and wear to boast authenticity. This lady had some really impeccable taste in cinema. The Gore Gore Girls, Two Thousand Maniacs!,and Color Me Blood Redwere just a few of the wondrous film posters that hung from the walls. Everything else around him was macabre as well: lamp shades posted on top of skulls, a black leather easy chair in the corner with skull-faces on each armrest, and most peculiar – a door, likely to a closet, in the shape of a coffin lid complete with an upside down cross carved into it.

After a minute or two of enjoying the sights, particularly the coffin-shaped door which he felt oddly drawn to, the oddly familiar — and all around odd — woman returned in a change of clothing. Her long black, tight-fitting gown was now a black, tight-fitting dress cut high, just below the crotch, and fishnet stockings that stretched across her shapely thighs and calves. She sat on the easy chair and crossed her legs, showing that her lower parts were just as fine as what she had up above.

“Certainly not a fun night to be out delivering pizza,” she said while giving him a visual examination that was anything but discrete.

“Halloween isn’t a good night to do anything other than have a good time. But money is money.”

“As I look you over I imagine you’re the type who just might share a lot of common interests with me. A Dying Fetus t-shirt. Long black hair. Sexy leather jacket. If I didn’t know any better, I’d peg you for a lover horror movies and death metal.”

“You’re absolutely correct. But nobody’s pegging me. Even you.”

“Oh, young man. Witty with the sass to match. You certainly know how to make this kitten purr.”

“I’m a gentleman beyond my years. Anyways, you like Dying Fetus? You like death metal?”

“I may be getting up there in age, young man, but keep in mind, heavy metal has been a thing longer than you’ve probably been alive.”

“Oh, no.” Roddy gulped, swallowing his awkward misspeak. “I wasn’t implying that you’re-”

“Old?” The woman stopped and bellowed a dramatic laugh. “I know I’m old, toots. I’d prefer to think of myself as classic. But I think I’ve held up well.”

“I’ll say.” Why am I so comfortable with this lady? I’m never this confident with a chick.

“Thank you, my dear. If I can still get the praises of a young stud like yourself, I think I can toot my own horn a little bit. Or yours.”

Did she really just drop that awful of a sexual innuendo on me? I should be turned off but damn, this old broad has really got a spell on me.

The more she spoke, the more Roddy found familiarity. It wasn’t just the Elvira likeness. He swore he’d both seen and heard this woman before. Not recently, however. She was elusive, hidden somewhere deep in the recesses of his memory.

“Speaking of which, you’ve probably figured out that I didn’t really invite you in here just for the pizza.”

“Is that so?” Am I like, really-really being seduced by this insanely hot cougar? I guess my next deliveries can be late, or not happen at all. This is a fantasy I’ve only dreamed of. Banging the queen of all goth chicks! And on Halloween Night, no less! But seriously, where the fuck do I recognize her from? “What for then?”

“Don’t be coy with me, Roddy.”

“You know my name.” It was a statement, not a question. He knew she knew it. But how?

“I know a lot of things, dear.”

“I can’t help but think I know you from somewhere, miss.”

“It’s quite possible you do, Roddy. Welcome to the unknown.”

“Welcome to the unknown,” repeated Roddy. “That’s…” Welcome to the Unknown was a popular phrase spoken by a TV horror movie host Roddy had watched a few times on public access as a child. “The Dark Hour with Mistress Osirah!”

It was her. It had to be. Only much older, but certainly no worse for the wear.

“That’s right, honey,” laughed the woman. “Glad to know someone still remembers me.”

“I watched you when I was a kid!” What could he think of to say next? If he was about to fuck this finely aged chick, the last thing he wanted to do was start fanboying all over her. “I never knew you lived in the same town as me. Meeting you is a true honor.”

Fuck. I fanboyed.

“Thank you, sweetie. But I hope you want to do more than just meet me.”

“Umm…”

“Quit the coy act, boy.” Mistress Osirah lit another cigarette and breathed out her essence with the exhale. “Are you going to fuck me or not?”

“Well, wow… uhh, sure. But, seriously, how do you know my name?”

“How about you don’t ask any more questions, and just do as I say?”

“Fine.” It felt as if his answer was spoken for him, not that it would have been any different had he said it of his own will. “I can do that.”

“Come over here and taste me.” The Mistress uncrossed her legs and parted them wide, displaying the assets of a much younger. “That’d be a good start.”

Through the wide openings of the fishnets Roddy could see she was cleanly shaven with a candy-pink slit and smooth, pale white skin that glowed in the dimly lit room.

Roddy was up off the couch and on his knees in front of the splayed mistress in seconds. With a couple of deep breaths, he took in her sweet woman scent, and put his tongue on her warm opening, gently lapping away through the netting of her stockings as she grew wetter and wetter.

“Rise,” the mistress commanded.

Roddy obeyed and bolted upward. Osirah pulled the front of her dress down, her tits popping out with slingshot force.

“Don’t just look, Roddy. You can play.”

And play Roddy did, caressing and gently kneading her breasts.

The mistress gently undid Roddy’s belt and yanked his stiffening manhood out. “I think you know where to put that, sweetie,” she hissed.

Upon entry into this woman who now had control of Roddy’s every muscle and movement, the air around his head grew slippery, euphoric.

“You okay, young man?” panted Osirah while Roddy thrust rhythmically.

“Fine,” Roddy mumbled. “Just a little woozy.”

“Don’t worry about that,” laughed the mistress.

Roddy did his best to compose himself without breaking from the act, but was distracted by the coffin-shaped closet door that slowly came open.

“I thought we were alone.” Roddy kept pumping his hips, but grew weaker.

“We are, dear. Don’t worry about a thing. Just keep going.”

Though his mind and body had become weak, the feeling in his crotch had not. At that moment Roddy was good for nothing else beyond fucking, and he was okay with it.

“I’m getting close,” he groaned.

“Good. Fill me.”

Her voice remained the same, but her face… purely demonic in design. Skeletal, dark, ashy. Eyes of sick yellow.

Roddy, however, showed no fear and completed the act.

Once he had fully emptied himself into his new master, he slumped to the floor like a sack of meat.

The mistress remained in her leather easy chair before him, splayed out wide, dripping Roddy’s load. Her human face had returned, and was smiling with sheer delight.

Still fully conscious, but feeling pretty much high as fuck, Roddy looked around from his spot on the floor to find himself no longer in a macabrely decorated living room. The walls were naked and the darkest of black. Yet somehow, Roddy and the Mistress were no longer indoors. The night sky hung above them, devoid of stars. Massive, shadowy trees encircled the walls. And the hardwood floor was now bright marble, a checkering of crimson and ebony.

“Come now,” said the mistress, and rose to her feet.

From out of the open coffin-shaped door came a group of frail but comely women, all completely naked except for black, faceless masks. There could have been four or five; Roddy was just too plain fucked up to count. He felt himself rise with the aid of their hands, though he felt nothing pull him up.

Through the deathly doorway came a dark light, pure black. His mistress’s minions escorted him beyond.

Benjamin Blake

Corollary Ambulation

Winter arrived
And the sun came out
Traipsed over suspension bridges
With hound at heel
And cigarette in hand

Mind’s a whirl
Of far off places and pretty girls
Of waking in strange rooms
Armed with books of poetry
And bad intentions

Soon enough
I’ll stroll up that gentle slope
And sit and share a drink
With that dead drunk
As the western sky
Burns a dull orange
And I sink into that sacred soil
Never to leave again