Josef Desade

Gressil, or A Baptism In Depravity

The soft padding of boots on the bottom of the stairs. The sun illuminated strips of old torn carpet as his feet sounded like approaching thunder as they took each step closer. Old wood creaking beneath the pressure as the light played tricks and the stairwell seemed to stretch before his eye. His hand ran along a railing that had been worn smooth with age, as the fabric on his jeans brushed up against a leather bag. Dust floated before his eyes as he entered a beam of warmth; the chill of the hallway momentarily relieved, as he reached a landing. The frame of the door was silhouetted in a shadowy corner that the sun retreated from forebodingly. As his eyes adjusted, he could make out the number two faintly painted on the wood above a peephole; the sound of eager breathing greeting him from the other side in the silent building. He heard a giggle from the chamber beyond and retreating footsteps as he put his gloved hand upon the handle.

The door swung open, and he saw a young girl kneeling on the floor in front of him. Her skin was moist with sweat, as his eyes took in her porcelain skin, mascara slightly smeared upon lustful eyes that guided his to her breasts; adorned with crimson lace. She ran her hand along her thigh teasingly as he pushed the door shut behind him with a smile. He towered over her in the scarcely lit room as she looked up at him, silently begging with pouty lips as he smiled, pleased she followed directions so well. The ad had said she was submissive, however, ads had a tendency to lie. He dropped his bag to the floor and slowly removed his black leather driving gloves, placing them in his pocket as he kept his eyes connected to hers, watching her lust build within. A soft click as his bag opened; rough leather against his skin as he pulled a long, thick strip of pliable hide out and gripped it tightly in his hand.

A crack and a slap as he quickly lashed her with it, a fluid movement in the blink of an eye as leather connected with skin, snapping her head to the side with a jerk. She ran her fingertip along her bruised flesh as a red welt began to appear, a facade of a devilish grin painted across her face, while tears welled up in her eyes. He grabbed a fist full of her hair and sharply yanked her head back, satisfaction, as her smile broke into a wince of pain, and he leaned in close. He could smell her skin, the sweet aroma of vanilla and honeysuckle mixing with sweat, as she exhaled, and he tightened his grip; his face inches from hers. He watched as her eyes turned from a dull sapphire to a feral green; her body shuddering as he felt her hands reaching for his pants.

Back and forth; repetitive motion, a sticky wetness. It spread down the front of his pants as she swung the blade into his genitals, shock overwhelming him as he gasped in pain. She pulled the blade back and licked it clean as he watched horrified, the copper taste sending electric shocks throughout her body. With a quick motion she swung the butterfly knife up and into his throat, twisting as blood spurted out of his mouth and onto her chest. She shoved him to the ground and rubbed the warm blood into her skin, playing with her nipples as she straddled his mutilated genitals and slid a hand into her panties. Tears streamed down her face, and she began to laugh as she felt her sanity slipping, fighting back the scream she held within. A wave of nausea almost overwhelmed her as she continued her task, her blood soaked fingers sliding in and out as she felt an unwanted pleasure welling up; a warmth spreading throughout her body as she climaxed, her body spasmed with the intensity of orgasm. She fell to the side, the corpse slowly growing cold beside her and vomited. Her body shuddered in pain as she was consumed with dry heaves, and she let out a cry of anguish as she pounded her bloody fists against the broken floorboards that shook beneath her violence.

A slow clapping emanated from the shadows, as she lifted her head to see the figure that shrouded itself in the shadows; a pile of used syringes surrounding him as if obscene offerings to a long buried god…but this wasn’t god. The old man looked ancient as he sat in a lotus position, hisskin hanging like flaps against a sunken skull adorned with black eyes that saw no light, glazed over bya film of disease. His bones shown through a brittlelayer of skin; a broken grin mocking her as a river of white silk ran down his back. He held frail arms out in front of his body, wrinkled palms held out to face her. He looked so fragile beneath the torn, stained cloth he wore, that at one point in time had held a semblance of clothing. She pulled herself to her knees as she heard the soft cooing of children to each side of him and dragged herself on hands and knees forward, until she could see more clearly in the gloom. Protruding from his palms were two umbilical cords that throbbed as they extended down to the floor on either side of him, feeding twin babes whose purple, bruised faces, contorted in pain as they cooed from within nests of barbed wire that left little cuts all across their skin, a lake of blood forming beneath him. Their eyes were sewn shut, without vision they gurgled in the innocence of childhood, their mouths spider webbed with a yellow mucus that stretched and burst like a bubble with every breath they took.

The demon let out a moan of pleasure as she reached for her children, her knees scraping against loose nails and splinters that stuck out of cracked floorboards, the smell of sweat and death choking her as the world spiraled for a moment. She coughed as she blinked her eyes, slowly refocusing from the bout of dizziness. Peeling wallpaper came into view, decades old nicotine stains creeping along the walls, broken only by a dirty couch in an outdated pattern that glinted with exposed metal from long rusted springs and a mattress stained in piss and semen that rested against a wall. For a moment her children left her head, and she collapsed onto the filthy mattress, knees to her chest, her sorrow consuming her as the world began to spin around her. With a slight nod of the demons head, a chain rattled, and she felt a cold steel collar clasp itself around her neck. She let out a scream, the infants beginning to wail. It was all too much…she couldn’t do this…the scent of soiled flesh…the shimmering reality around her…the noise….she needed to make it stop..

She realized that she had begun to laugh again, as she squeezed her eyes shut and began to pray in whispered murmurs. A small beam of golden light fell upon her from between tangled blinds, dust dancing slowly within its gaze and then the darkness returned, oppressive and heavy. She struggled for breath between frantic mantras, as the demon laughed and the children cried and it hit her suddenly…At that moment it was all clear, that god was no longer there.

Two years…it seemed like it had already been an eternity…that nine months had been the longest she stayed clean in years. Everything had seemed to be turning around, the world seemed clearer as she looked at it with a clean mind. She had been happy, truly happy, but then it all came crashing down around her like an avalanche. She lost her job at the local diner and decided to pick up a bottle of wine that night…if only she had just gone home and to sleep, but the crossroads weren’t brightly lit that evening for her. The babysitter had just left, and she slumped down to the floor, her legs stretching across the chipped linoleum underneath her, head back against worn wood and the tears had just flowed. A warm wave of so many emotions tangled up inside her soul as she opened the bottle and began to drink.

She had blacked out, awoken by the cries of the twins from their bedroom, her head groggy as she blinked her eyes and tried to block them out. She could hear her heart pounding in her ears as the room swung sharply to the left, and she fell, her face pressed against the floor. She could still feel her hands pressed over her ears as the noise all seemed to grow louder. She still could feel the cold sweat covering her skin as she nervously pressed the buttons on the phone. The dial tone as she waited, her breath held; a voice on the other end. Her chest had felt tight and then a jubilant rush of relief as she heard the click on the other end of the phone. She could remember constantly checking the peephole with every sound that emanated from the building and then finally her angel had arrived.

Her fingers tore at the little bundle of wax paper. She could hear the twins wailing in their bedroom as she prepared her savior, that brought her mercy; true relief. Between tears, she could hear her voice, cracking and shrill echoing into the dark rooms beyond the light of the kitchen. Mommy’s busy right now. Busy…so busy…mommy just needed a little solace. The plunger slid, and she was transported to a crystal silence on lonely shores, here she was safe…here she could just rest a bit. The rest was only a blur in her memory.

She remembered the babies cries, but they were in safe hands. She could check on them later. She turned on the radio and fell back into a love seat as she floated away on a fluffy cloud, her company the vibes of musical notes as she closed her eyes. The crying was still there, lingering in the distance though but oh well, what could she do? She leaned back as a wave of ecstasy flowed through her body, and she dropped the syringe. Everything was perfect, if only she could turn off the sound of the twins like a lamp. She sighed and let the music drown them out, but yet it still tickled her ears, whispering in and out.

Like a lamp…just turn them off…she remembered pulling herself out of the cloud and tiptoeing out of the light and into the twins room. The music was so damn good that night as she ripped an electrical cord from a lamp. She approached the crib, and she remembered how calm they were for a moment. She smiled at them sweetly, feeling such pride at her little creations, and then she slid the cord around ones throat. She awoke with a jolt, the twins screaming fromthe crib she had slumped against. Well the twin, of course, now she remembered. She needed to turn them off, everything else was perfect. The plunger whispered love songs to her as she felt the warm release and faded off into sleep, everything was perfect…everything was just right.

She remembered the birds the following morning, chirping as the sun shone brightly through the windows behind her. She had fallen asleep on the love seat and the night before had been a blur. She had blinked her eyes, the silence in the house striking her as unusual. Something wasn’t right. Her body had frozen in fear as she had tried to comprehend the silence, an empty bottle and the glint of light off of a syringe catching her eye from the floor. She stared at the door to the kids room that was slightly ajar, hardly breathing as she rose and gathered the courage to open it.

They looked like little cherubs, all snug in their boxes. Gazing down at their contorted, discolored bodies, she had felt everything inside her die that day. With each shovelful of dirt she felt another piece of her soul shatter like glass. It seemed as if an eternity had passed as she dug, her tears staining her face as she sobbed. She kept telling herself that everything would be okay, but inside she was empty. She was found stumbling down the center divide of an expressway, her barefoot feet balancing with every step on the cold concrete. She remembered flashing lights, concerned voices and then just pain.

A few days passed and the pain subsided a little. Each day became a little easier as the last petals of the poppy left her body but her thoughts had begun to grow harsher. A cruel taunting reality of what she had done that ate away at her psyche like a rat, taking each piece, crumb by crumb. It was unrelenting, a constant hunger that grew stronger every day. It was at that moment, she had begun to feel his presence near. In the dark corners of the hospital he had watched her, an unseen dread that hung in the air. Her thoughts had grown sporadic, the childrens pained, final death masks flitting through the hallways of her mind. She was growing more desperate within, the guilt and longing was too much to handle; when he had first spoken.

He had promised to make it all better. He said that he could put everything back the way that it should be, if she was willing to make an equal trade. She had thought that he was an angel, that perhaps god knew it was a mistake and was giving her a mulligan. She would have agreed to anything just to be able to do it all over, to feel the warmth back inside her little ones. Four didn’t seem too bad…two for each one of her angels…she could make this sacrifice for them.

She could hear him moaning slightly as he finished his business with the mans soul. She squeezed her eyes shut as she heard the rattle of used syringes beneath him as he shuddered with pleasure. The cold steel of the collar around her throat was making her claustrophobic, and she gasped for just a little more air as her naked body shivered in the sudden cold that had descended upon the room as the demon finished its meal.

“More.”

With just one word she felt a tremor of fear that struck deep into her soul. She leaned over the side of the mattress and vomited, the scent of dry blood and rotting flesh invading her nostrils as she momentarily relived her recent deeds. The children had begun to cry softly and it reverberated throughout her mind as she tried to find the strength to commit such an act again. This was wrong, nothing about this was right. How could she continue to take the lives of these strangers, commit such violent acts, with only such a small glimmer of selfish hope? She tried to slide into the shadows, to shrink into herself and drift off to a hidden place within, but the collar held her tight. The demon turned its empty gaze upon her and with a curled finger she was dragged closer to him by a chain that anchored somewhere out of sight. Her skin scraped across the ground, and she tumbled forward until she found herself below him, the vacancy emanating from him invading her entire being, an oppressive weight that trickled into her every thought.

She cowered before him, his dead eyes looking into her soul. The scent of frankincense and stale tobacco drifted from the rags that adorned his body. His out turned hands vibrated slightly as the cords in his palms kept her children in purgatory, their souls hanging in the balance of her decisions. She wanted to slip away…to drift off into insanity, but she knew that there was no escape from her fate. The creature smiled at her with a sly grin and lowered its eyes. She looked down as a single syringe rolled across the floor and stopped in front of her.

It was like a flood of relief greeting her with open arms, as she felt the rush of poison flow through her. Instant relief, temporary silence from everything around her. This was necessary…just a few more souls, and she could leave this behind just like she had before. But for now, it was necessary to rest in itsarms, tasting the seductive kiss of the opiate as it numbed her senses. She could think more clearly now, without the crippling fear of what she was doing taking hold of her. Footsteps were coming closer, she knew what had to be done as she felt the collar unclasp.

He didn’t see it coming as he passed her in the threshold of the door. The needle had slid into his oil stained flesh so smoothly and as he turned and admired her nude body she saw the heroin taking effect as she smashed the hammer into his skull. He stumbled back, his hands covering the broken skin as blood seeped from between his fingers. Grunts of pain escaped him as disoriented, he fumbled his way across the room. She followed after him and his fist connected lethargically with her face, knocking her to the ground. She pulled herself to her knees and ran her fingertips along the inside of his leg as he stared at her in a numbed confusion. She could smell the blood that was slowly trickling and could sense approval from the dark recesses of the room. The hammer connected with the mans kneecap with a loud pop and a howl broke his lips, an inhuman sound that caused her to hesitate and in that instant he kicked at her with his good leg, his boot connecting with her face. She watched from the floor as he crawled towards the door, reaching for the handleand escape. He froze as she saw two flames ignite off to the side and the man was faced with the grotesque sight of her master and children.

She pushed herself back to her feet, the weight of the hammer comforting in her hand as she brought it down again on his knee with the sound of splintering bone, tearing flesh. A stream of blood crossed her vision, and she felt a warmth spreading between her legs. He was screaming as she tried to remove his jeans, the splintered bones catching on the denim. Emotionless, she slowly kissed along his leg, eyes interlocked with the demon, as she traveled up. She ran her tongue along the exposed ivory, the man writhing in pain beneath her as she felt her body quiver. She slid up, the blood lubricating her body as she felt herself grow wet, life and death in a sea of sacred fluids as the demon smiled at her eagerly.

She found herself entranced as she slowly ran her tongue between the mans legs, tasted the sweat as her teeth sank deep into the soft tissue and felt her body spasm with rolling waves of ecstasy as she tore her head from side to side. A river of blood poured down her shoulders as it used her skin as a canvas that splashed along each curve of her body, draping her in a shade that made her snow-white skin glow in somber hues. She pushed herself up, letting the blood caress her breasts for a moment and then crept her way up until her hands were upon his chest, straddling a fountain of blood as she smiled with his severed member in her mouth.

He gasped one final time, no sound left within him before she forced the pen with which he had written his final check, into his mouth. He convulsed as it slid down his throat, and he struggled for air, his skin changing hues as his eyes slowly glazed over, and she fell forward upon him. She felt him turn to stone as she lifted her eyes to gaze upon her keeper. He stared at her indifferently as she felt his warm seed hit her face, wave after wave, a baptism in depravity.

She awoke from a dreamless sleep at the foot of the demon, flashes of the night before echoing through her mind. She glanced over and her little ones were asleep, off in dreamland beside him. She wanted to cry but there were no tears left inside her, just her soul in pain and the craving for his sweets. He sat motionless, silently meditating as she reached over and picked up a syringe from the ground before him. Her hands were still stained with blood, and she shuddered uncontrollably as she thought about the last man and the demons gift upon her.

Did he have a family? Was there someone out there who was wondering why he didn’t come home, perhaps a child who would forever wonder what they did to make daddy go away? She hung her head as she ran her fingers along the shaft of the syringe nervously. She couldn’t keep doing this, whenever she closed her eyes she saw flashes of agony, the silent expressions of the deceased. She felt like she was losing her mind, her leg tapping unconsciously at her side. She needed release…just for a little while…mommy’s angels needed her…

Time went by as if in a dream, the demons kiss flowing through her bloodstream. Within his embrace she could dull the sense of guilt; watch as it slowly dissolved like sugar being licked by unseen waves. She could taste heaven before her as she worshiped at his altar, no nightmares could touch her here. She looked upon her children with love, smiling as she saw the color returning to them slowly, their eyes staring back at her in wonder. Soon they would be safe…soon they would be home.

Nightfall arrived and she awoke in a pool of sweat. She reached for a needle as her redeemer watched hungrily. Her cravings were insatiable, but he had an endless supply that would keep the pain at bay. She smiled at him as she forced herself to her feet and looked for clothes in the closet. She held up a black corset with red fringe to the light and felt his approval. On shaky legs she walked over to a mirror that hung on the wall. How many days had passed? She could hardly remember as she looked herself up and down. She had lost weight and her eyes seemed sunken into her skull, bags below them creating a sultry vignette that mixed with her mascara and gave her a seductive look. She ran her hands along her stomach, flirting with her hips before they went around behind her to her lower back.

The warm water caressed her skin as she washed away the filth that had coated her body. She could feel it all falling away like the heroin took away her pain. Everything was going to be alright…just a couple more and then her babies would be safe within her arms. Soon everything would be back to how it was supposed to be. Soon she would be redeemed.

The door closed with a click, and she guided him by his hand to the bed that had been draped in fresh linens. He was intoxicated by the scent of her perfume and the sensual movements of her body as he blindly followed. He had told her it was his first time as she pinned him down, her legs straddling his midsection as she moved her body on top of his, her hands to either side of his head. She could feel her Masters eagerness for his innocence, as she felt him grow hard beneath her. His hands clumsily fumbled along her sides and up to her breasts as he tilted his head back in pleasure.

She slid her body down, leaning in so that he could feel her breath against his skin as she felt a wave of pleasure run through her body from the reaction she was getting from him. She could get used to this, she thought to herself as she unbuckled his belt and slid his pants down. Slowly kissing her way back up she straddled him again and felt herself grow wet as he slid into her. She worked her body against his, as he arched his back and exposed his neck, the muscular flesh appealing to her most feral instincts as she leaned in and sunk her teeth into him.

She felt his body spasm in shock as she dug her nails deep into his shoulders, raking the flesh as she was consumed with the taste of sweat and blood. She could feel eyes upon her, watching every motion. Every rip and tear as her teeth pulled the sweet meat like taffy, showers of scarlet rain staining her eggshell skin. It was euphoric…life and death intertwining within her grasp. She could feel his body heat slowly changing…see his pupils dilating and slowly retracting, the life draining out of them as she fucked his corpse. She could feel every nerve in her body as she rippled with surrender, overwhelmed with serenity, watching his soul leave his body in a vision of terror. She watched the demon devour it, his teeth ripping it to shreds as she ate at his table.

She flung her body at his feet, feeling sharp daggers in her legs as she knelt with her head back, awaiting his blessings. Her skin slick with blood she craved more, with an intensity that bordered on madness. She could feel him within, moving with her as she heard a knock on the door. She scrambled to her feet with a handful of death, a poisonous kiss that waited as a viper, eager to strike. Her voice cracked as she called to the man on the other side, her breath held as the doorknob turned. It closed behind him, and she lunged out of the shadows, bringing her fist down on his face, a deadly row of teeth in every blow that stung like razors as the needles punctured him, breaking against bone as he screamed.

She moaned in pleasure as the blood flowed, feeling it move like a slow stream as it snaked between her legs, the man slumped against the wall. She licked his wounds and felt a tremor of bliss as she tasted his dying soul. She could hear movement behind her as she turned her back to the dying man. The demon spoke in a perversion of Galatians, his voice thunderous inside her mind:

Now the nature of flesh is revealed; immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorrow, lust and things like these. I give you the truth, the sinners inherit the Kingdom of God.

Head raised in awe, she beheld ethereal beauty as she watched him rise to his feet. Syringes hanging from pockmarked legs fell to the ground, as snow-white feathers floated throughout the surrounding air. His wing lifted towards the sky as his empty eyes stared into her soul, and she felt a longing within, as he vanished before her eyes. She smiled as she saw her angels at her feet. They were perfect.

Two little bundles that were all hers, her reward, a gift from God. She yearned to be back in his arms, to taste heaven again. Now she knew what had to be done. She would fuck and torture with love in the face of “god”. Let the blood she spilled be venom in the face of the false prophets, who voyeuristic, watched from the shadows for a sense of satisfaction that they were superior to the humans they herded. But she knew better…she knew her God would sing her soul to sleep, as the plunger slid down, and she felt the warmth spread throughout her body.

She had felt true love…she was in the real Messiah’s hands and in tribute she would bring more souls. She picked up the electrical cord, it felt comfortable within her hands. An old friend. She took a step towards her children who looked back at her, awaiting a mothers love.

Leo X. Robertson

No, Hetero

You’re straight?

I didn’t mean to assume. I don’t have a problem with it, no way. Don’t start thinking I’m one of those.

I love straight people. I have loads of straight friends. I tell the guys, “Are you the Jackie Chan and your wife’s the Oprah? Do some kung fu, straighty! Give me some billions, girl!”

It’s all in good fun. They’re funny sometimes. Sometimes I pretend to flirt with you lady ones. It makes us all laugh. The idea of it is just silly. Because what’s the point in you, really? What are you for?

I’m a little inclined that way myself.

Whoah whoah! No more than anyone else though. Don’t start getting ideas. But who can’t see that Angelina Jolie is objectively pretty? That just means I’m evolved. I don’t wanna fuck her in the cunt. Not for a million I wouldn’t. The idea makes me, personally, want to vomit. Like just fucking spew everywhere forever.

God, how do you do it, honestly?

I’m just joking around! Jesus. So I hate the idea of doing it myself, it’s not like I want cunts to burn in hell or anything!

Tell me, are you one of the ones that eats ass? Does your husband fist you in the cunt? Do you peg him? How does it work? Can you lick a vag through a glory hole, or…?

You went silent there. I’m asking, what do you do in that scenario?

Well, what would you do?

What? Some of you do it. How am I supposed to know which kind I’m talking to?

You guys are no fun sometimes. Everyone’s thinking this shit. I’m just asking it. I’m just trying to educate myself. I don’t have to hang out with you. You should be thankful I even care.

It’s not like I’m a bad guy. I’m all about “Live and let live.” It’s no big deal! No one’s business. You wanna fuck a dog? I won’t judge you.

But I’m interested. Surely you’re attracted to someone of the same sex?

You have to be! Why wouldn’t you be?

Tell me who it is!

Tell me!

All right I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna tell you something, but only because I’ve had a few and I know it will interest you.

I got my SBF to suck my dick once.

What? I was curious. And really, really drunk. And she loved it—I mean, you all love it, right?—but she was in love with me for the longest time. (No, she never told me, but they always are. Put a gay guy and a straight woman in a room together, you’re asking for trouble!) So it was a great exchange.

The morning after, I felt like absolute dogshit. Like I seriously thought about killing myself. But look at me now! I’m telling you about it like it barely disgusts me.

I don’t envy your lifestyle, honey. Kids, periods. And so on. Whatever. I’m no expert. But we all know you didn’t choose it.

Because I mean honestly, who would?

R.J. Roberts

Dr. Oust

“Dr. Oust, Abortionist,” he introduces himself in his legally changed stage name and hands out his blue and pink business card with an illustration of a stork taking a smoke break. He’s practiced for when they look up from the card with mouth ajaw, he bobs his head as if to music, snaps two loud cracking chomps on the gum in his mouth, lifts his gold rimed sunglasses and gives a sleazy wink as he stretches his lips, accentuating his thinly drawn on Italian playboy moustache, into a sneer of a smile.

Then he leaves.

They’ll call.

In the evenings he cruises his bright red Porsche with the license plate, “Bye Kid,” and makes stops at ice cream stands, video game stores, and the dark corners of public parks where he passes outs cards and pee-wee sized booze bottles to the young boys and jokes with them of the machoism of, “Slamming One Home.”

Parents might be upset if they catch him, but when they approach and see his swaggering manner, his gold chains, his tan orange skin, his technicolor sport plaid suits, as he leans on his Porsche, they might open their mouths to accost when he’ll point his finger guns, bringing down the thumb hammers, flashing his fully square, impossibly white artificial teeth, and say, “I’ll be coming soon to a womb near you!”

They’ll hesitate, then close their mouths and walk away as they know despite his boorish style, he’s factually true.

Gwil James Thomas

Dishing The Dirt

One thing Fernando and Carla González had shared over the years of marriage was their love of gossiping. From friends, to work colleagues, to shop assistants, to barflies, there were few that the couple wouldn’t pry, or spy on – eagerly waiting to meet the other so that they could dish the dirt. Yes dear reader – the boring fucks really didn’t have anything better to do with their time on earth! Though it was arguable that it had saved their marriage.

Over the years, the González’s had found themselves leaving their flat much less. Not that this had stopped their appetite for hearsay. Instead, they simply intensified their gossiping to the residents and visitors in their block of flats. But it was their neighbours – the Rodriguez’s that’d be the source of most conversations for the duo.

The Rodriguez’s had moved in over a decade ago. They’d been younger than the González’s and had almost seemed the perfect couple, still full of life and hope for the future. Fernando and Carla both hated bumping into them. There seemed very little to fault. Then there were the evenings that Carla and Fernando would sit at their kitchen table eating dinner, as the walls would shake and ladles fell from their hooks. Which was accompanied by the loud groans and banging of bedposts through the paper-thin walls from the sexual olympics that were going on in the Rodriguez’s adjacent bedroom. As Carla and Fernando continued to sit there in front of their meals with a rare silence.

However, over time those evenings of passion were soon replaced with sobs and the dominating shouts of Ignacio Rodriguez coming through the wall. Which Carla and Fernando quickly took notice of over their food, as if it was some sort of soap opera. Carla and Fernando would rarely see them together either and if they did they’d remark on how unhappy and worn down the other couple looked.

This went on for sometime, until one day there was a noticeable change. Suddenly the neighbouring flat went very quiet – despite the odd rustle, or knock. It was as if Fernando and Carla’s favourite TV show had just been cancelled with no explanation, or finale. It’d also felt like a long time since they’d seen Ignacio and even longer since they’d seen Martha. Fernando and Carla would sit in their kitchen waiting for the next instalment from their neighbours – yet there was nothing.

Underwhelmed, it’d soon got to the couple and eventually Carla had come up with an idea. Instead of standing there with a glass to the kitchen wall, she’d invite the Rodriguez’s over for coffee.

The following morning, Carla rang their bell and got no response. Yet, not one to quit easily, she soon gave them a call and after a while the someone finally picked up. It was Martha. She sounded almost elated on the phone with the prospect of socialising. However, Martha said that she was just cooking something and that they’d bring over some lunch later instead.

Come lunchtime Carla and Fernando eagerly opened the door to Martha – surprised to see her on her own – when Martha had then told Carla that Ignacio couldn’t make it sadly. But what had caught the González’s attention more than anything else was the mad and dreamlike fashion that Martha had about her and her smile, her incredible smileplastered from one side of her face to the other. The table was already set when Martha placed a large Tupperware on it and pulled off the lid as steam rose from the stew along with a rich aroma.

The three of them soon sat down as Fernando grabbed a ladle and served up the stew. Martha’s grin was now starting to get a little creepy and Carla tried initiating conversation, but Martha was far too interested in asking them about the stew. Which was surprisingly good, so good in fact that Fernando had reached for a second helping. Before he soon bit into something and discovered a fingernail attached to a chunk of finger. Fernando buried the rest of it, under some more stew and played ignorant.

As Carla tried again to quiz Martha on anything and everything between licking her lips, Fernando quietly went off to the toilet and vomited up the cannibal carne, wiped part of it off his shirt and reached for his phone. Aware that they’d all have a lot to talk about very soon. Too much to talk about. But before he did anything else he stared at his reflection in the mirror, released a deep sigh and for the first time in decades he took a good hard look at himself.

James Babbs

Some Bright Morning

The gun feels warm. I keep pulling it from the bottom drawer of the desk and holding it in my hand. Wrapped inside a plastic bag. I wrapped the gun in the bag because I didn’t want to see it just lying there exposed. I didn’t want it looking like a dead body every time I opened the drawer. The gun belonged to my father. He was a policeman before I was born. Somewhere I have a photograph of him standing out in the front yard wearing his uniform. I keep looking out the window. The sun’s brightly shining and there are countless birds scattered all over the lawn.

Last night I was at the Grand Palace eating egg rolls. I mixed sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard together. I didn’t go into the restaurant but just sat in the bar eating my egg rolls and drinking some beers. I kept watching this dark-haired waitress and I wanted to get her number. She seemed to smile at me whenever I looked at her. I asked the bartender what he knew about her and he kind of chuckled. He told me I should forget about her. When I asked him why he told me because she had a boyfriend and he was a very large man. I thanked the bartender for the heads-up and ordered another beer.

When I was ready to leave the dark-haired waitress came over to me and slipped me a piece of paper. I opened my hand and looked at the paper. It had a phone number written on it along with the name Iris. I glanced at the bartender but his back was turned and he was mixing someone a drink. I caught up to the waitress and waved the paper at her. I said, hey, I don’t think I want this. I saw the look on her face. I said, I heard you had a boyfriend. Who told you that, she asked me. I told her what the bartender had said. Oh god, she said, he thinks I’m going to go out with him. He keeps asking me but I keep turning him down. I see, I said, then I followed it up with an, okay. I told her thanks and she gave me another smile. This one I quickly snatched away from her and put into my pocket. I wanted to keep it there until I got home. Then, when everything was quiet, I’d pull it out and hold it in my hand and look at it, over and over, again.

***

The gun feels heavy. The light falling through the window hurting my eyes because I had too much to drink last night. The birds screaming in my ears. Last night I called Iris and she told me she had to work but, if I wanted to, I could meet her at the restaurant around eight. When I got there I took a seat at the bar. It was the same bartender and he smiled at me and asked me if I was here for more egg rolls. I told him I was meeting someone and I saw the look in his eyes.

I heard Iris behind me and when I turned to face her she made a point of giving me a big hug and laughing loud enough so that everybody could hear her. She turned to the bartender and gave him a smile. Mike, can I get a margarita, she said. The bartender looked at me. I couldn’t read his face completely but he didn’t seem happy. What about you, he said. I told him, a beer, I guess.

We moved over to one of the tables and Mike, the bartender, brought us our drinks. I said, so where do you want to go. Iris sipped her margarita and looked at me over the rim of her glass. She said, I thought we could just stay here, if that’s alright. I took a drink of my beer. What about Mike, I said. Iris put her hand on my arm and laughed. I glanced over at the bartender. He was behind the bar watching us but trying not to make it look so obvious. When Iris waved him over to order another drink she leaned closer to me and smiled. I didn’t like where this was going so I just decided I was going to get drunk. I ordered two shots and another beer and I told Mike to keep them coming.

Later on I grabbed Iris and pulled her to me giving her a rough kiss. Hey, she said, easy. When Mike brought us more drinks he slammed them down on the table. I threw back the shot and chased it with some beer. Then I jumped up and jerked Iris by the arm trying to make her stand but she broke loose with a pained squeal and slumped back in her chair. I said, Mike, and he turned around. I gave him a big grin. I said, hey, buddy, she’s all yours, and I turned without looking back at them and walked out the door.

I drove around for awhile trying to find something good on the radio. It was a clear night and the air was cool and inviting, especially, if you had some place to go. But if you were alone it was just like all those other nights, struggling against some inner restlessness you could never quite define until your mind and your body, finally, surrendered themselves to sleep. When I pulled into my driveway I turned off the car and just sat there in the darkness and the silence. Felt the waves of warmth rolling through my head and I began to laugh. I laughed as I got out of the car and I kept on laughing as I stumbled my way into the house.

***

The gun feels like a bird fluttering in my hand. Sometimes, when I’m away from home, I think about the gun. I imagine it sleeping in the darkness all alone. The bottom drawer of the desk silent as a tomb. I had cap guns when I was young and I remember the smell of the smoke. The taste of it in my mouth when I absently sucked on the end of the barrel. I remember when my friends and I played with guns. How we made up this rule you had to count to ten whenever you got shot before you could get back up again. It was funny how all day long we kept dying and returning from the dead, over and over, again.

I remember buying rolls of caps. I think there were five rolls to a box and you could get five boxes in one package. Sometimes, instead of loading them in my guns I just rolled the caps out on the sidewalk and used a hammer to hit them. Sometimes, I’d take a whole roll of caps and hit them with the hammer. It made a loud blast that left a ringing in my ears. I remember taking ants crawling past me on the walk and putting them under the caps and blowing their tiny bodies apart. One time I caught this big black ant as it was trying to climb up my arm and when I put it under the caps the explosion blew off its head.

I never felt like I was a terrible person for doing this. I never thought I was doing anything wrong. I remember all the summer evenings, when it would start to get dark, and we would run around catching lightning bugs. I don’t know what we wanted them for. I guess we thought there was something magical about their blinking lights. Maybe we longed for something bright like that shining from inside our own bodies. I don’t know. Some people liked to kill them and smear the light across your arm. The pieces of light sticking to you, glowing on your skin, but only for a moment. Sometimes, we caught the lightning bugs and put them in glass jars. We always made sure we poked holes in the lids. We stuck pieces of grass in there and, sometimes, leaves, thinking that’s what they wanted. But the next morning we always found them dead, lying in the bottom of the jar, their lights no longer shining.

***

The gun feels sticky against my skin. I can sense the gun’s desperation and that’s why it keeps trying to cling to me. I keep moving it back and forth from one hand to the other but it doesn’t seem to help. Sometimes, the gun spends endless days inside the drawer waiting for me to return. The gun waiting for me to bring it out into the light, again. Sometimes, the gun catches the light just right and the metal of the gun seems to shine. I often wonder how the gun feels having to wait for so long. Does the gun ever get afraid and think I’m not coming back at all? I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything at all. I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for something good to happen.

Sometimes, I like to pretend I’m a lone gunman taking a group of people hostage. I find myself in the middle of some big city, suddenly, robbing a bank. I’m waving the gun in the air and telling everyone to get down on the floor. I keep screaming at them and telling them to move faster. It’s like something from out of a movie and when one guy tries to move I hit him in the face with the gun. The blood runs out of his nose and covers the floor. I can hear some of the women crying. I tell them, it’s going to be alright, as long as they do what I say, no one will get hurt. I listen to the sounds of their breathing and I know they’re afraid.

When you hold a gun in your hand you can make people do things they wouldn’t normally do. And I wonder how it feels having someone stick a gun in your face and not knowing whether you’re going to live or die. Sometimes, fear can make you collapse or it can spur you on to do something great. I’m trying to recall some moment in my life when I felt the most afraid but nothing comes to mind. Then, the birds start chirping, louder and louder, right outside my window. And I wonder if there’s any way for me to tell from the sounds they’re making whether or not they’re happy or sad.

Sometimes, when I go to bed at night I hold a pillow close to me like I’m holding the body of my lover. And I float there in the darkness thinking about other places and times. But when I move, again, my lover disappears and it’s only a pillow I’m holding. And I toss the pillow away and rollover, turning, my back on it, before trying to fall into sleep. And I hear the radio playing jazz, softly, in the dark, above my head.

There have often been times when I was convinced there must be something wrong with me because I had no other explanation for the way my life was going. Now, it doesn’t seem to matter so much anymore. I guess you just get older and things no longer seem as important as they once were. Or, maybe, something inside you, finally, decides to quit struggling after so many years of futility and it crawls softly in to some dark corner where it can curl up and die.

***

The gun feels nothing. I know it doesn’t care whether I live or I die. I lift up the gun and hold it loosely in my hand. I shiver and the sun comes through the window trying to make me warm. I see the bullets in the bottom of the drawer. I don’t remember when I put them there but, now, when I pull the drawer open they roll around bouncing against one another. Sometimes, I see colors and I don’t know whether they’re inside my head or just floating in the air in front of my eyes. Pieces of red and blue and, sometimes, yellow and green. I have no idea what any of them mean. Maybe they were some kind of warning arriving much too late.

Sometimes, I think about what would’ve happened if I had gotten everything I wanted. Would that have really been such a good thing? And I wonder, sometimes, how long it takes before something starts to make sense. Maybe for some people it never does. And I think about my father working hard his entire life and, in the end, what did he have to show for it? His heart wearing out and, finally, giving up. He died, one morning, in his sleep.

I gaze out the window on a Sunday morning and witness two blackbirds fighting. I watch them as they tumble through the air all tangled together before hitting the ground and separating. They rush toward each other then a noise frightens them and they disappear into the sky. I open the chamber of the gun and touch it with my fingers. I spin it around, slowly, a couple of times before picking the bullets up, one by one, and slipping them, silently, inside.

The phone starts ringing. The phone’s in the bedroom so I can’t look at the caller ID and see who’s calling me. But I don’t feel like talking to anyone, anyway. After the fourth ring it stops and, I know, the answering machine’s picking it up. The answering machine’s down in the basement too far away for me to hear whether or not the person calling leaves me a message. I look out the window again and, this time, I see a robin standing in the grass close to the house. There’s a worm hanging from its beak struggling to get free but it’s too late. As I watch the robin cocks its head as if it’s listening to something. It waits there for just a moment and I wonder what it is the robin, finally, hears before deciding to fly away.

THE END

Gary D. Morton

The Pig Man, Sleeps

Everyone called him The Pig Man, but no one really knew the truth. His misshapen face, distorted by hate with that unsettling smile curling downwards, disturbed even the jaded, embattled warhorses. His scarred skull, shaven and pock-marked by blurred memories of bar fights and all those shattered, drunken knuckles.

On D Block, we all assumed it was because he was missing some of the fingers on his right hand and it looked like a pig trotter, but I suppose it could be anything. In here, there are no definitive answers, just rumours, and half-truths: like the time they found his ex-wife ritualistically executed in the bathroom, wrapped in lace and fairy lights, crucified, with her cunt pulled inside out. No one knew how he lost his fingers, but most of us were convinced that the truth was far more devastating than anything we could fabricate or conjecture during scraping hours, encased in concrete.

Once, while protectively hunched over his lunch tray, cradling it like it was a newborn, a guy in B Block told me it was because of his depraved sexual obsessions, deriving sordid gratification from exploiting and coercing underage girls to perform lewd and libidinous acts on each other with domestic kitchenware.

He would wrap them round and round in black electrical tape, recording their screams and playing them endlessly to the little pink ones waiting in the room next door, with the sparkly white walls, faces all painted, nervously twisting at the ends of their hair, twiddling their little toes in the luxurious, red carpets.

There are so many whispered myths circulating the halls of this place, involving his increasingly graphic and pornographic acts involving screwdrivers and sensitive, fleshy orifices. There were those whispers that he abducted a teenager who cut him up at the lights. Rumour has it; he cut off his eyelids and tied him to a chair for eight straight nights, with a halogen bulb burning each eyeball. We can only speculate about what other seditious horrors the poor kid was subjected to, but we are told it involved battery acid and perpetual hours of sharpened objects.

Even the screws stay out of his way. It is now a matter of Rec yard folklore, when one misguided, shiny-shoed prisonguard made the grave mistake of disrespecting him in the mess hall. He was found the next morning, mysteriously impaled with a piece of sharpened wood ripped from the floor, dangling from the ceiling, with his intestines torn out and wrapped around his neck like a grotesque talismanic necklace. No one will maintain eye contact with him for any longer than is necessary, even the seasoned ones, who have to similarly maintain their fearful reputation within these walls.

You would smell him before you saw him, the curiously enchanting scent of ingrained sweat and cherry liquorice. He smelled intoxicating, lethal. Always chewing on the end of an elaborately inscribed fountain pen that he insisted on carrying around with him, some suspected to make him look intellectual, but the truth was that it constituted a proficient piece of weaponry for puncturing jugulars. Instead of exercising in the yard, he would sit and read tattered books of poetry, smuggled from the paltry stocks of the prison library. He would quote from them regularly and that was when you knew that someone was going to get cut. Recitation always preceded violence.

One morning, with the sun casting an incandescent halo around his radiating cranium, he cast a shadow across the book that I had clutched in my desperate fist and he softly whispered “There is no greater sorrow than to recall our times of joy in wretchedness”.

His voice was deceptively high-pitched, an almost breathy lisp; with no intonation or timbre. Cold, and unforgiving; sharpness personified. That was the day before he was found in his cell at headcount with the remains of one of his sycophantic disciples, who had been repeatedly raped and disembowelled with the plastic edge of a strip light.

Recently, he has taken to walking around with both of his thumbs tucked under his chin, ostensibly to avoid the inevitable onslaught of makeshift blades from reaching the pungent, moist folds of his neck.

Everyone became a target when their lib date was coming up, but for him, there was always a frantic successor lurking with intent and ambition, waiting for the emperor to fall. He was never getting out of here, there was no chance he would ever leave this place, these walls would eventually be his coffin.

Frequently, he would be found, perambulating around the halls of his hallowed temple, in the dark hours, standing in doorways, watching the other inmates sleep, with his weapons concealed, gently caressing his pulsating, weeping erection. Silently, he hates their chests rising and falling, counting the breaths entering and leaving their lungs, quietly resenting the inconceivable audacity to continue their wretched existence, counting the breaths until their eventual liberation.

Then there was that night, years from the twisting agony of those monotonous walls, after one too many filthy, finger-marked glasses of venomous bourbon in a piss-soaked bar, and one too many squalid bathroom finger fucks, he catches a glimpse, of that self same poisonous smile, in the reflection on the surface of a fractured mirror.

The girl was so hopelessly inebriated, that she didn’t even know she was dying, even as she stumbled on precarious high heels, blood seeping from under her sluttish cerise vest. This snivelling creature didn’t realise that her throat was sliced, and as the cum runs down her legs, the icy, metallic dread begins to slip into her stomach. And, he smiles.

They call him The Pig Man, but no one really knows why. But he lives inside the mirror, staring back at you, with his fatal, infinite eyes, pleading with you to release him, to just let him out. He is a prisoner on the other side of your face, on the inside: and he is watching everything you do, and the protective meat mask that you have built, cannot last forever.

He is called The Pig Man, and he likes the way that you kill

and kill and kill.

Patrick Winters

Sympathy for the Demoness

Cedric Dingle sat lounging in his recliner, scarfing down a bag of Fritos and watching reruns of Two and a Half Men. As the kid on TV made yet another fart joke, Cedric started cracking up, holding his bulbous belly and spewing half-chewed chips from his mouth.

Ashra sneered in disgust at her master’s ever-piggish behavior. She scooted a little away from where she knelt beside the recliner, trying to avoid the flinging Fritos. The hardwood floor was starting to hurt her knees again, her master’s laughter was giving her a headache, and all the while she’d been thinking to herself: There’s Hell, and then there’s hell.And she so yearned to go back to the former.

Ashra still didn’t know what was more inconceivable: the fact that this tubby, greasy, robe-sporting oaf was actually a well-versed sorcerer, or that she had allowed herself to be enslaved by him.

In the pits of Hell, she had been renowned for two things, above all else: her dark, demonic beauty, and her knack for dragging souls down into the underworld for their everlasting punishment. She had clawed her way up to Earth thousands of times in as many years and never once failed to collect her quarry—until Cedric Dingle became the soul in question.

She’d been told by the head of her host that he was damned, but not that it was for his practice of the dark arts; instead, she found it out in the worst way imaginable. No sooner had she popped up in his New Jersey apartment than he bound her with his black magic, and all because he had managed to learn her name. In searching for ways to save his imperiled soul, the scummy little worm had found it mentioned in some ancient book of lore; and any mortal with knowledge of a demon’s true name could make that demon into their slave, with the proper spells. With that nugget in mind, he’d waited for her arrival. And so, by the laws of the universe laid down by Heaven and its accursed Creator, Dingle was given complete power over her the moment he said a little spell and proclaimed her name.

Since that time, he had used her to his every possible benefit. He’d sent her after those he considered his enemies, to kill and maim them in various fashions. She’d flambéed his ex-wife, decapitated an old boss of his, and ripped the heart out of a guy who always got Dingle’s order wrong at the local taco truck.

After that, he’d started demanding her to do menial tasks about his apartment, like his laundry, his cleaning, and the cooking. And, of course, there were his repeated lustful demands. He’d defiled her smooth scarlet skin with the sausages he called fingers, had made her kneel before him as he laid hands to her wonderfully long horns, forcing her to . . .

She wanted to wretch, remembering it all—and to sever his genitals with her nails and stick them where he kept stuffing those damned, disgusting Fritos.

Dingle crumpled up the emptied chip bag and tossed it to the floor. “I’m still hungry,” he said to her with a smug smile. “Make me a sandwich.”

Ashra bowed her head, picked up the trash, and stood, heading off into the kitchen and silently fuming.

“Oh,” he called back to her, “and after I’m done eating, whadaya say I plunge myself into the fires of your hell-holes for a while?”

He giggled as she ignored him. She opened the fridge and pulled out the rest of the ham she’d cooked for him the night before. She grabbed a kitchen knife and started slicing into the meat to make his sandwich, pretending it was his gut she was carving up, instead.

She was nearly done with her lowly task when she heard an explosion sound out in the living room, followed by Dingle’s high-pitched scream. She bolted back into the room to see what the matter was, knife still in hand.

Dingle’s TV had been demolished, its pieces scattered everywhere, and in its place—and to Ashra’s amazement—stood the Devil himself, wafting away the smoke stirred up from his hellish portal.

Dingle cowered at the sight of him, sinking into his recliner as the Dark One looked them over with a haughty stare. His seven foot, dark-suited frame towered over them. A thin tail flicked about behind him, weaving and twirling like a playful viper. His horns were extravagantly lengthy, sharp, and pitch black, their tips almost scratching the ceiling.

Dingle started making wordless, pathetic noises, holding his hands out to the red giant before him in either defense or reverence.

“Quiet, slug,” the Devil ordered with a smooth, bass voice. “I’m not here for you. But I think I’ll have your soul soon enough.” He flashed the man a knowing smile.

The King of the Pits turned to Ashra. “I’ve come for you. The failure.”

“My Lord . . .” Ashra spoke up, her voice fluttering with dread. “Forgive me for my failure! But it wasn’t my fault! The mortal –“

“Made you look like a fool,” the Devil cut in with a hiss. “And because of it, you’ve forced me to personally step in on the matter. Your ineptitude and enslavement to this meat-sack is a stain upon the name of the Hosts. My chasms echo with cackling, and it is you who they laugh at! You’ve shamed your unholy duty, and I will not let that go unpunished.”

“Please, my Lord!” Ashra implored. “I’ve served you well –“

“And you shall never again serve the glorious cause of Hell. From here on out, you’re an outcast to Perdition. If you ever see Hell again, you will be at the mercy of its many pains—not one of its heroes. Until that time, you’ll spend the remainder of your days here, on Earth. And if you’re going to live among the mortals, we can’t have you looking like that.”

The Devil snapped his fingers and a tremor went through Ashra’s body, making her double over. As her face started to tingle with the sensation, she turned and looked into a mirror upon the wall. She was mortified to see that her reflection was quickly changing. Her luscious red skin was turning waxy and white. Her glorious and cherished horns were sinking into her skull, becoming feeble nubs before disappearing entirely. And her straight-black hair was turning . . . blonde!

In seconds, every hint of her lovely and demonic self was gone, leaving her looking like a wannabe GAP model, instead. She screamed at the horrible thing she’d become.

“You’re human, now,” her former lord said, taking her in with a sadistic satisfaction. “And as such, you have no title, no power . . . and no name.” At this last part, the Devil had glanced to Dingle, a smirk on his red face. “Ashra is no more.”

He gave a chuckle and another snap of his fingers. A pyre rose up and enveloped the Devil one instant, and in the next, both it and the Dark One were gone.

The former demoness spun about, staring in wide-eyed despair at the spot where he’d stood, the floorboards now bearing a slight scorch mark. A veil of smoke hung in the air; she looked through it to where Dingle sat, sweating and dumbfounded.

It was then that she remembered the knife in her hand. Her grip on it tightened as she began to step towards Dingle, who gazed at her like a cornered mouse to a hungry cat.

“Hey! Hey now! I command you to stop and put that down!”

But neither his words nor his will had an effect on her. His power over her was gone, and she kept coming towards him.

“You did this to me, you worm!” She extended the knife, letting it dance in Dingle’s view. He stared at it, trying to back away in his recliner.

She looked down to his crotch, remembering all her violent little fantasies under her servitude. She had a pretty good idea of where to start getting her revenge.

“I’m gonna feed you something after all, “master,”” she giggled maniacally. “It’s just a quick, tiny snack; we have so much else to do before the night is through, after all . . .”

She leapt at him and started cutting. Before the night was through, she learned something that made her new existence the littlest bit more bearable: just because she was no longer a demon, it didn’t mean that she couldn’t send someone screaming to Hell.

Kevin Tosca

Switzerland

Not two minutes after slipping out of my lover’s peerlessly hospitable vagina, my traitorous NON-SEX thoughts plunged me into a recurring, ultra-violent daydream.

So with her magnificently rounded body tucked against my body and her damp arms tangled in my damp arms on a balmy Saturday afternoon with fuck-all to do and the time to do it with, I played out this ultra violence (I had no choice), shivered, then tried my damnedest to remember where my penis had just been.

In order best to do this and not fall prey to the pitiless, mutually unexclusive ecstasies of copulating and killing, I needed a little more than the usual post-coital peace and quiet—needed it like a clown needs the horror—those delicious moments when two satisfied and naked beings don’t become one, but less than one, zero, thoughtless.

Thoughtlessness is the point.

My pregnant lover, however, had other points. While running a ripe finger up and down my equally ripe ribcage, she whispered:

“What are you thinking?”

That question!

That baleful, impossible to answer question!

Yet, in intrepid quest of THE gapingly open and brutally truthful relationship, I had tried to answer it.

Tried and failed. Miserably. Continuously.

Continuous miserable failure tarred and feathered with acute mental anguish, confidence-smashing embarrassment, and hope-crushing humiliation.

Because you can step into the same failure twice.

Having stepped enough, I promised myself I wouldn’t aspire to fail better, but differently, fundamentally so.

That is: I would never, ever, under any earthly or unearthly circumstances, answer honestly—or even try to answer honestly—that backstabbing question again.

Instead, I’d dodge it, defuse and deflect it with the utmost sincerity and conviction, comme il faut.

Lying.

That’s right: Survivalesque, sanity- and relationship-saving fibbery, the kind certified by the Greeks.

But I, unfortunately, must have experienced a serious cerebral malfunction—a potentially lethal (to my most present permanent relationship, mind you, no one’s exaggerating round here) lapse of good common horsesense—because there they were, the frank words spewing from my face.

“We’re in the metro, alone and savoring the rare two and only two of us when a man comes down the stairs and ruins it. A big man. A big and hostile man who, without one word of warning, attacks us. Screams. Horrible, blood-curdling screams. I’m not afraid, I’m angry. I’m enraged like a wild immaculate animal, like I always hoped I would be. The attacker’s shocked. You’re shocked. He tries to run but I catch him, beat him to death with my bare hands. You remember what Sailor Ripley did to Bob Ray Lemon in the beginning of Wild at Heart? Against those marble steps? Well, this is mushier, brainier, and I feel no remorse when the police arrive. I feel only a… a certain pleasure.”

My lover snuggled closer, spoke the following words in the softest, most intimate tones imaginable.

“I’ve lost my sense of purpose. I don’t know who I am or who you are or what this growing thing in my belly means. I wonder if this is the end of independence, adventure, possibility, me. I used to do things, want things. I used to see the world, confront it. I’m scared. I don’t want to become one of those mothers, those women, those wives. I will never marry you.”

“Actually,” I said, retreating as fast as I possibly could back to solid, trustworthy ground, “I was thinking about our trip to Switzerland.”

My lover’s eyes widened. “Me too!”

“To tell you the full, God’s honest truth,” I said (we had never set foot in Switzerland), “I was thinking about our baby and snowcapped mountains and universal peace.”

“I was too! I was!”

“It’s uncanny.”

“But no,” she said. “It’s not—not at all—not if you stop and think about it because we should always be thinking about peace, mountains, and babies.”

“You’re right! You’re absolutely right! But—”

“Yes?”

“—are you aware what must follow?”

My lover’s face was not only attentive, revolutionary, and doomed—in other words: Wajdaian—but achingly beautiful.

“For the good of the tribe?” I asked.

“Austerity?” she guessed.

“Bingo!” I said. “Full—Ferocious—Stop! We NEVER ask about thinking again!”

She wholeheartedly agreed, and the atmosphere, I noticed, had become jubilant and frenzied—a certain twenty-first century cultishness in the air—very warm, fuzzy, and comfortable in a self-righteousy zealoty kind of way, so I frowned, got my face nice and ominous, whipped it back to prehistory, gunned it for the primordial ooze.

“But that’s not enough.”

“Oh no?”

“Not even close.”

I bared teeth and snarled before becoming cheerfully pedantic. “They can’t just exist, my dear… They must achieve a transparent real-talk regularity any addlebrained five-year-old could grasp.”

“They?”

“Why, our sacred human values, of course. Which means from this moment forth, till death or drudgery do us part, we are to live as if we are from Switzerland.”

In Switzerland!” my lover enthusiastically corrected.

“WRONG!!!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. “We must BE-COME Switzerland: peace-loving, snowcapped, baby-friendly!”

My lover had nothing to add or subtract from that cockamamie declaration, but after a few silent and heavenly moments in each other’s arms—too little too late—she whispered: “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” I whispered back, just as tenderly despite my gut being carpet-bombed by the ever-present threat of thought.

“For asking about what you were thinking. It’ll never happen again, I promise. What a silly goose I was. Do you forgive me?”

“Nonsense,” I said, relieved. “I was lying anyway.”

“You were?”

“Of course I was. Forget it. Never happened.”

“I knew it! I knew you were lying!”

“And?” I asked, my voice unexpectedly—contradictorily—on the Hoboken side of needy.

“What?”

“Were you, you know, lying too?”

“Of course I was,” she said. “I’m always lying. Everything I say around here is a bald-faced lie.”

“Thank God for that.”

“Yes, God,” she said. “How do you feel? We can ask each other how we feel, can’t we?”

“Are we savages?”

“Well?”

“Like a believer,” I said.

My lover raised her eyebrows.

“Doubtless and serene,” I said, having been knick knack paddywhacked by the aforementioned atmosphere. “Unfuckingtouchable.”

“You’re wonderful,” she said.

“So can I ask you something then? Because, and I’m not the least bit ashamed to admit this, I was more than a little taken aback—I was, yes I was, damn near agoggled—by what you said on page three.”

“Anything. Except, you know…”

“Will you or won’t you?”

“Will I or won’t I what?”

“Be my wife.”

My lover smiled a smile midway between little slut and Mephistopheles. I was excited too, had been swirling my fingers around her benevolent nether regions for some time now. She said:

“I love you, don’t I?”

My eyes misted over.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, suddenly—genuinely—concerned. “What is it, mon chou?”

“There’s nothing more than that, is there?”

“Love?”

“Love, love, love,” I crooned, feeling closer than ever to the pure, neutral, mountainous ideal, but my fiancée appeared pensive again. She paused for (I counted with dread) thirty-seven seconds. Then:

“Well,” she said, “there izzzz Switzerland.”

Thus, and against all odds, she managed to read my deepest, darkest mind, so surprised I slipped my hungry happy dick back into the only language I truly believed in.

Megan Alyse

Luv

He was making that noise. The one he always tried not to make when he was close. Tonight, though, the wine had stuffed Kit’s head full of cotton. He couldn’t hear himself grunting and squeaking at the same time. Theresa was on top with her eyes closed. He didn’t know it, but every time she opened them, she would glance at the clock on the nightstand. He let out one final caribou call, and it was over.

Theresa hopped off Kit and headed for the walk-in closet, covering her small butt cheeks with her bony hands as she went. She grabbed her fluffy, mint robe off the back of the door and slid it on.

“Wow.” Kit said, “I mean, wow.”

Panting, he grabbed the sheet and wiped his brow, expectantly.

“I mean, wasn’t that… how was it for you?” He said as he slowly raised the pitch of his voice.

“What time will you be home from work tomorrow?” she said as she threw some clothes out of the closet, the slide of the hangers muffling her voice.

Kit looked down at his stiff penis, then his hairy chest, and answered, “Six.”

“Ok well I need you to take Zeek to practice after, and then on your way, I need you to grab some milk, and coffee, and diapers.”

Each item on the list accompanied by a white shirt or sock, flying out of the closet.

“And don’t forget to buy the Huggies, not Luvs, I know the Luvs are cheaper, but they always leak. Last time you forgot to buy the right kind, and then Bailey had a blow-out while I was at the Pinner’s conference. I had to throw away that cute dress my mom bought her for her birthday. I’m planning on meatloaf for dinner, but I need eggs for that, so you’ll need to buy them from the store. Get the brown ones, not the white ones, the brown one’s are better. I’ve gotta wash Zeek’s uniform. Make sure he wears the right socks. Ok?” As her words increased in speed, the clothes began to fly higher, tracing a rainbow over Kit’s lingering erection. He watched as the clothes continued to arch and land at the foot of the bed in a rhythmic beat which accompanied her stream of anxiety. Kit wondered if she had heard him, so he asked again, “Wasn’t that amazing? I was hoping you’d be a little more…relaxed.”

“The sex? Yeah, of course. Did you hear me?” She responded distantly from inside the closet. Yeah, the sex, he thought.

“What are you doing?” He said, raising his voice. He opened his mouth and tried to yawn to clear his ears.

“Are you even listening to me?” she said, popping her head out the closet for a brief moment and then popping back in. “You keep doing this, Kit. You keep not listening to me. I feel like I have to do everything.”

“I’m listening—” he said, “But what the hell are you doing?!” He stretched his jaw and wiggled it from side to side with a finger simultaneously shaking in his ear.

“Laundry. I’m separating the whites. What the hell did you think I’m doing?”

Kit reached underneath the covers and felt on his pubic bone. It was still hot.

“Nothing,” he said with a downward slope in his voice. “I just thought we could lay here a bit and just…”

“Kit,” Theresa snapped, “The diapers? Do you want me to write it down? I can’t lie down. I’ve gotta get this done by tomorrow. I have a Room Mother’s meeting at six, so I need you to remember all this.”

“No, I’ve got it,” he said, moving towards the pile of clothes. He picked up an undershirt from the pile and wiped her off his thighs. “Luvs.”

“You’re disgusting.” She commented, “At least I’m washing that. And no, Huggies, Kit, we need Huggies. Just think of it this way: You can always hug someone, you can’t always love them. Huggies, always.”

“Hugs without Luvs. Got it.” He said, searching for his pajama pants.

“I’ll write it down,” she condescended, coming out of the closet and scooping the whites in her thin arms.

She left the room and Kit stood pant-less, watching her drop socks on her way out. He went into the closet to find pants, but as fate would have it, his eyes caught the white dress she liked to wear on special occasions, the one with the lace back, the one she had worn on their anniversary. He took it off the hanger. He examined the label, Dry Clean Only, it said. He heard Theresa slam the dryer door open as it hit the wall. I’ve gotta move that over more, he thought.

His mind flooded with the stressful thoughts of tomorrow. The ever-growing list of things to get done, the diapers, and milk, and the something that he had to get from the store. He took the dress in both hands and twisted it like a towel waiting to be snapped. He held it taut. He held it with intention. He held it stiff and unappreciatively. And instinctively, Kit moved that pretty dress in a flossing motion between his legs, rubbing and wiping, letting it soak up all the evidence from five minutes before.

“Coffee.” He said aloud while he continued to floss.

“And something else…” He smiled.

His pantswere in the corner of the closet next to his shoe rack. Fuck it, he thought. And he slid the dress back on its hanger and slid his pants on. He made his way back to his side of the bed and waited there, watching the door, wondering why Theresa was taking so long. He turned off the light and rolled on his side, watching the clock, counting the seconds. He yawned and his ears popped, amplifying the sound of Theresa muttering “I do everything.” He listened to the washing machine rumble and Theresa’s footsteps up and down the stairs as she collected dropped socks from the floor.

Christy Aldridge

Lizzie Cleary Had A Bad Day

Elizabeth Cleary woke up in a bad mood. Her husband would have attributed it to PMS, as men so often blamed every foul thing on, but it wasn’t the reason. If anything, he was more responsible for her bad mood than her hormones.

“Do you need to take a shower first?” she asked him. He stared at the ceiling, not speaking to her. Elizabeth looked at him a while longer, waiting for him to answer, but he was clearly still mad at whatever her husband was always mad about, suffering from PMS more than she ever was.

When he still didn’t answer, she got up from the bed, closing her book and lying it on the nightstand. “You know, just because you’re mad doesn’t mean you can’t answer a simple question,” she told him.

He continued staring at the ceiling, refusing to answer her or even look in her direction.

Being a royal prick, as usual.

Elizabeth growled under her breath and left the room. She started to head downstairs when she passed the twin’s room. She noticed the light beneath the door first. Rolling her eyes, she turned the knob. “You both know it’s way past your bedtime!” she yelled.

Sammy was laying on the floor with a toy car in his hand. Elizabeth found herself smiling at her sleeping child. Fallen asleep while playing, it seemed.

“Played yourself out, huh, little man,” she whispered, lifting him up carefully and tucking him into bed. She looked under the blankets of Jack’s bed, but he wasn’t there.

“Jack?” she called, but in a soft voice. “Where are you?”

She looked under his bed, but Jack wasn’t there. Down on her knees, she sighed. Hiding in his closet again, she figured, getting up and heading to the door.

There was a hole that went straight through to the other side of his closet door. She held her temples for a moment, to keep from scolding her children. Once again, they had been poking holes into things they shouldn’t be.

I’ll see if the royal prick will talk to me long enough to get onto the boys tomorrow morning.

She opened the door and her anger melted at the sight of his sleeping form. Slumped against a basket of toys, clutching his blanket, Jack had fallen asleep while hiding. She lifted him as well, carrying him carefully to the bed and tucking him in.

She looked at both of her children. They looked so sweet and innocent now. In the morning, she knew she would wake up and they would be terrors again, but for now, they looked like sleeping angels. It was moments like that that reminded Elizabeth of why she loved her children.

She crept out of the room as quietly as possible, not closing the door all the way in case the boys woke up in the middle of the night. They would be scared of being locked in a dark room, wake up screaming, and she knew her husband wouldn’t get up to calm them down.

Elizabeth walked downstairs to get her clothes from the laundry. Tomorrow she would put them up, along with a load of towels she had in the dryer. Today had been a bad day and folding and hanging clothes had been the last thing on her mind.

All she wanted to do was take a shower. She climbed the stairs again, quiet as possible so she wouldn’t wake the boys, and back into the room. She didn’t look at her husband as she passed by. She ignored him completely.

He was cheating on her. She knew he was. Because she had married a bad guy, because he told her he had cheated on her, because he was still here, despite having told her so.

Maybe I should get a divorce.

Elizabeth stopped in front of the mirror and stared at her face. She once was so beautiful. Men had begged her for her number, and she had decided to marry the first jerk that knocked her up. She had given up all of her dreams to love a man who would cheat on her.

She stepped into the shower and began cleaning herself. She was surprised when she stared at the drain and saw blood mixed in her water. She even laughed a little.

Maybe that idiot was right. I started my period a week early.

She laughed as she finished taking a shower. She was even smiling a bit when she came back into the room and got into bed beside her husband. She looked at him, stared at him for a long time.

Something was missing, an image she knew she needed to see, but couldn’t. She just smiled it away, leaning over and kissing his cheek. “I still love you,” she told him. When he didn’t answer, she turned to her nightstand. “We’ll talk in the morning.”

She looked at the gun on the nightstand, a moment of recognition coming over her. Three bangs, one after another in her mind. She looked at her husband again, felt the truth creeping up her spine, and then shook her head, placing the gun back in the drawer.

“We’ll talk tomorrow,” she told him, turning off the lamp and slipping beneath the blankets.