Tag Archive | Thomas James Brown

The Abbey


It was a dark night, full of clouds and shadows. Whispers carried on the wind, racing through the forest and brushing the trees. The monotonous chanting of a hundred voices lingered on the air.

A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. . .

A figure hurried along the winding forest path. Overhead, the clouds shifted so that the moon emerged just as the figure did from the tree line. The forest was illuminated, a picture of viridian mist and boughs. Even the lake glittered under its glare.

A heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief. . .

The figure ran on, its hands slipping from beneath its sleeves and revealed for a moment in the moonlight. They were slick with wetness and black as the figure’s habit, which fluttered furiously as it ran.

A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. . .

A long shadow stretched across the lake. Offset by the moon, an abbey rose into the night, its bell-tower cutting into the sky.

“I must not tell lies,” muttered the figure. Reaching the lakeside, he started across a walkway.

“I must not tell lies.” The raps of the knocker, when he reached the doors, rang leaden into the night. It was several minutes before they opened a crack, the wind rushing instantly inside.


“Please, let me in.”

“We do not take to strangers in these parts.”

“Please, some charity.” The words seemed to have a strange effect on the doorman, the sliver of his face illuminated in a flash of lightning. “I am a man of God, like you.”

“There are no men of God. Not here, not anywhere.”

The door widened nevertheless and the tiny figure slipped inside.




The dining hall was empty. An air of reverence hung about the room, thick like incense or a guilty conscience. Dust coated the armaments and windows, visible as tiny motes in the flashes of lightning. Sin burst into unholy life with every jagged crack, their monstrous forms depicted in the stained glass of the windows

“I was caught unawares, travelling from Glastonbury. The weather fell foul, but we thought we could endure it. We took shelter, set up camp. . . We were wrong.”

“You were caught abroad?”

“By more than God’s rain. It was no ordinary storm but a Sin, come to claim us. Wrath, in all her vitriolic glory. We died. I ran. And now I am here.”

A startled gasp. “They chase your heels? You brought them here?”

“I lost them. I fled into the woods while they stayed to tear at the corpses. . .” The monk began to shake again, his hands rattling against the sturdy wooden table top. Cutlery clattered, the quiet sound reverberating within the heights of the dining hall. “My God, I still have their blood under my nails. . .”

“Your name?”

“Robin,” said the newcomer. “Brother Robin.”

“You will be safe here, Brother. I am Brother William and, for tonight, all that we have is yours.”

The room might have been magnificent, once. Figures decorated the ceiling with beautiful intricacy; depictions from The Book of Sin brought to life in vivid brush-stroke. Above the flickering candlelight, the painting seemed almost to move, a trick of light and Robin’s own heightened imagination, as if the Sins were in the very act of being banished from the world by God and His children. Except, of course, no such thing had ever happened, nor ever would, not so long as men were men.

Both men tucked into their food. Robin ate voraciously, as though afraid his plate might be taken unfinished from before him. The chanting continued; a hallowed, reverential hymn hanging like the dust in the air, and something else. The patter of claws, or tiny feet, skittering through the walls.

“Rats,” muttered William.

“You said earlier that there are no men of God? These do not sound like the words of a man in His service.” Robin peered across at the monk, who twitched but made no move to reply, raising instead a skewered sliver of meat to his mouth. It glistened, pink and bloody, reminding Robin of his own hands. He lowered them self-consciously beneath the table.

“Come,” said William suddenly. Spittle and ham flew from his lips.

“Where are we going?”

“You may be alone, but here we’re many. You must meet the others, before you retire. The Abbot is leading them in prayer.”




The two figures slipped noiselessly through the passages of the abbey. All about them, the hymn hung heavy on the air. They passed through great halls, their footsteps echoing on the cracked flagstone floors. Archways towered over them, engraved with signs of the cross, and every corridor was dimly lit with tiny candles. They wavered and danced, like the dying light in a man’s eyes, as the two monks ghosted past.

“I’ve never seen such architecture. I must admit, I’m somewhat in awe.” The two passed a statue, the edifice staring down at them righteously from its pedestal. An engraving beneath said St. George, who Robin remembered well as being the military saint responsible for casting back one of the Seven.

Outside, black clouds amassed in the night sky. Robin could see them as William and he strode through the cloisters towards the church, the monastic heart of the abbey. The church reared up before them. Windows watched them, more Sins staring monstrously at their approach. Then they were passing through the church’s doors and into the building proper.

Reverent song prickled at the back of Robin’s neck. It was holy, sanctimonious, resonating within his bones as if he’d been struck by one of the very bolts that danced through the night sky. Goosebumps ran the length of his robed arms.

“The hymn. . .”

From beside him, William nodded. “I know. I know.”

The church was humbler than the rest of the abbey but no less beautiful. Rows of benches led up to a dais at the front, atop which three small altars could be found. The place was old, as old as anything of the abbey Robin had already seen, but lacked the dust and decay that he had so far grown accustomed to. The church looked attended to. Cared for. Perfect, in every way.

At each row of benches stood a dozen monks, their backs turned, hoods covering their heads so that only their voices could be heard. More stood at the front on the raised platform, and at the pulpit a lonely figure: the Abbot himself, leading his congregation in solemn song.

“I recognise the hymn,” whispered Robin.

“They sing for God and to ward off evil. To ward off the Sins, in all their guises.”

“Such a thing is not possible, you realise.”

“We do our best, given the times.”

Robin’s eyes flashed with the lightning. ‘There are no men of God. Not here, not anywhere.”

William hung his head. He looked tired, suddenly. A hundred years old. “Perhaps I spoke rashly, before. Certainly I regret those sentiments. There are many on God’s earth who would. . . well, who would kill to be so close to Him, if you will excuse the expression.”

“You’d say they envy you?”

“I would.”

“And in doing so, they would sin.”

William glanced back at Robin, a stranger, at the heart of their abbey. His hair was still drenched, although it had been well over an hour since he’d been admitted past their walls. The blood of his comrades was no less slick about his hands. Surely it should have dried by now? Surely he should have wanted to wash?

“Forgive me, Brother, I forget; to which order did you say you belonged?”

“I did not, merely that I was travelling from Glastonbury.”

“Ah, I assumed. . .”

“Indeed. You know, it really is an abbey above all others that you have here. Beautiful. God would be proud.”

“Pride, Brother, is a sin like all others.”

“Envious of you, then, to live in such luxury.”

Something was happening to Robin. His waterlogged hair was lengthening before William’s eyes. A pallor overcame his flesh, such that he looked more like a statue or – God forbid – a corpse, than a living, breathing man. The blood began running like dirty water from his hands, two puddles growing around the monk’s habit .

“What’s happening? What trickery is this?”

“I have enjoyed your company, Brother, so much so in fact that I’ve decided I would quite like to be you.”

Time slowed, everything illuminated in a single flash of lightning. Robin span on his heel, habit fluttering like the wings of a bat as he descended on William. Hands closed around the monk’s neck, even as William plunged a knife into Robin’s shoulder. The iron blade slid smoothly and without resistance into skin and bone alike, and Robin shrieked obscenely. Bladeless, his weapon buried to the hilt, William dropped to the floor. Bloody handprints circled his bruised throat.

“Sin!” he screamed. “Brothers, Sin! See how the iron burns its flesh!”

The assembled monks did not rise to his aid. They did not fly in defence of their abbey. They did not move but continued to sing, their monotonous moans carrying far into the night.

“It is always dark, where I come from. There is no light. No warmth. We have no birdsong, save the screams of the crows. The screaming. They do not stop screaming.”

Scrabbling away, William backed against a statue. He felt alone. Trapped. But the statue brought him comfort. It was another of St. George; tall, defiant, clutching an ancient sword in its hands.

“You will always find screaming. This abbey is no different. Can you not hear the wind, Beast, as it races through the woods? It screams to feel, to touch. The dying, they scream as their lives are extinguished. The living scream when theirs are not. God’s earth is a chorus of cries.”

“Poetic,” hissed Robin, haggard, the knife still steaming in his shoulder. “I like you even more.”

William wrenched the sword from the statue. It came free with a lurch, sent him spinning, the blade careering towards Robin’s twisted face. He swung it with all his might, a prayer to the Lord on his lips.

A stony hand grabbed his chest from behind. It held him still even as another punched into his back. His vision failing, William had just enough time to look down, to see his bloody heart in its fingers, before he slumped to the church floor.

Giggling obscenely, St. George sprang into the air. Two glassy wings burst from its back as it took flight, twitching and euphoric into the rafters. Its skin rippled like liquid shadow.

Robin watched his child as it flew. “Silly monk,” he shrieked, casting off his own glamour. Slick hair cascaded from her head, clinging to the infantile body beneath. Pale flesh glinted wetly in the candlelight and two shards of broken emerald shone where there should have been eyes.

Envy plucked the steaming dagger from her shoulder. Black blood spat from the wound, not unlike that of the congregation’s, murdered earlier by her hands. Not that it had stopped them singing, of course. She did so enjoy their singing.

“Silly, silly monk.”

Movement, in the shadows. Shapes ghosted in and out of the darkness, flitting between this world and another. Faint shrieks and triumphant barks joined the unending hymn. Envy watched the unholy procession with a wicked grin; the flutter of crow wings, the clicking of bones, screams of malediction and joy alike filling the despoiled church. Scuttling down the aisle like a spidery spinster, she sprang atop the central altar.

“And now, Lesson One,” she crooned, her voice cracked, sing-song. “Lesson One. Lesson One. . . We must not tell lies.”

~ Thomas Brown

© Copyright 2016 Thomas Brown. All Rights Reserved.


Damned Words 15


Rusted Relics
Jon Olson

Are they gone? The Creepers I mean? Fuck that was close. Too close. Shit, they almost got me. Cold-blooded bastards. They’re most active in the sun, yet you ventured out in daylight. We can’t take any more chances; there are so few of us left now. At one time, we were many; powerful and dominant. Then the Creepers came. Their war with us was quick; brutal; unrelenting; genocidal. These old war machines, these rusted relics, once a source of pride in our dominance, now gravestones of a dying civilization. Grim reminders of what we were and of what we’ve become.

Zack Kullis

Delirium from the dehydration twisted his worst memory to the sweetest- the blood.  The fall into the abandoned coal pulverizer broke his back and legs, but the compound fracture in his left leg covered his face with blood.  Warm, wet blood.  What had once been nausea was now thirst and desperation.

Upside down, he raised the jagged piece of iron with his last bit of strength and plunged it into his gut, and salvation flowed with damnation.  He gulped savagely until something plugged the wound.  His fury turned to gluttony, for he had found something meaty to eat as well.

Magenta Nero

I hear footsteps approaching with a dull, heavy thud. Always the same footsteps. Big boots with steel capped heels. I squeeze further back into the black corner. I shun the light that streaks through the bars in a fan of gleaming dust. The footsteps stop. There’s a rustle of paper. He hurls it into my cell; a sandwich.  Always the same; a thin slice of processed meat between heavily buttered white bread. It lands in a puddle of dirty water. I never touch them but the rats do. They will come during the night, squeaking as they crawl through the bars.

Christopher A. Liccardi

The smelling salts brought him back to his situation and the clarity of the thing in front of him. His hands ached; pinned overhead with the dagger. His thick calf muscle screamed.  He was with the other woman, then…

“Rumor has it, you like to fuck. Me too.” His wife’s voice tittered as she stepped into the light. The thing’s steel finger bore down, tearing flesh from bone. Pain exploded in to him. He could see her in the gloom, licking her lips and laughing.

In the end, it wasn’t the agony, but her laughter escorting him to his death.

God-Given Seed
Thomas Brown

We tried everything but they kept coming. Nothing would drive them off except when Pa took to the fields. “Don’t play in the corn,” he’d say. We’d watch from the first-floor window, scythe bobbing, glinting in the light, scattering the birds like dark clouds into the sky.

When Pa died, there was no stopping them. We went hungry that year. The one afterwards we brought him back. Sticks and straw, all trussed up high, old scythe stitched to his paw. Now the birds are the least of our worries. “Don’t play in the corn,” he’d say. We keep well clear.

Of A New Age
Joseph A. Pinto

We are all as one, she said, and the great wheelwork spun behind her eyes.  It bore into me, that horrible flaking of rust, the anguished drumming of the mechanism she was, and still, I would have followed her anywhere.  Into the mouth of the machine, she said.  Yes, into the mouth of madness.  I cuffed my sleeves and exhaled, watching her shudder like an awakening beast as she gathered steam.  She was right.  We are all as one.  I closed my eyes and finally, surrendered.  Extending my hand, she took me, and shorn me as she had been shorn.

Nina D’Arcangela

It churned along, belching foul, oily smoke into the already smothered atmosphere. Where it roamed, nothing was left; not animal, nor tree, or blade of grass – it consumed all. Nothing could withstand the creature’s path. Many generations had passed since we’d lived without fear of this demon; it was a constant in our world. We’d heard rumor of its approach, rumors we’d heard before; this one proved itself true. Crouched in our burrow, we watched in terror as the gnashing iron teeth approached. Just a few feet more – the end so very near. Call me coward, but I welcomed it.

Blaze McRob

Metal scrapes against metal, hastening the demise of the already deteriorating structure. From inside the darkened crevices they wake, ready to finish their job. Rust calls to them, sounding a dinner gong. Already, the transformation is happening. Not much of the infrastructure built by humans remains; not many of them remain. Chomp, chomp, chomp. Those who have eaten more than their share are now becoming the eaten. There is no place left for them to hide.

An unlucky one walks beneath the girder at the wrong time. The rust eaters have done their job. The flesh eaters now do theirs.

The Pit
Craig McGray

They’d done it for decades, maybe even centuries. Each full moon, the elders gathered the chosen and brought them to the pit. Eager and naïve, the chosen were led into the forest with hopes of a promising future, dreams of becoming one of the guardians to protect the clan from evil intruders who would dare take them from their home and destroy their way of life. However, true evil comes from within and the elders were pure evil, through and through. Once inside the pit, true intentions were revealed and the elders feasted on the pure innocence of the weak.

Relics of the Old World
Tyr Kieran

Massive machines moored in ancient soil, now unearthed to behold—such barbaric contraptions of whirring gears, sharp slicing appendages, and explosive, rotating turrets. Their victims’ screams and spilled blood now nothing more than faded memories and miniscule footnotes in historical annuals. Moving metal warriors left to rust. Their purpose of aligning world views and beliefs through slaughter, has been long forgotten. But, such effective devices they were! Nothing unifies like fear and power. These sleeping giants, abandoned in their finest hours, have endured. They lie silent… simply waiting for new marching orders. Well, I say, “Rise, and unify us again!”

Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2015
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Damned Words 14


Empty Stone
Jon Olson

He is weak, the large gash in his stomach slowly killing him, yet he crawls onward. Gripping dirt, the dying man pulls himself closer. His eyes rest upon the stone carvings; upon the angel. There he hopes to feel his lord’s embrace; to feel salvation. Fingertips reach out, touching it, feeling nothing. A groan escapes his lips, morphing into a scream. Pain engulfs his body, growing cold, announcing the arrival of the beast. Any hope of salvation fades as the foul one laughs. It’s just empty stone. Another false idol. Grinning, the foul one tears out the dying man’s throat.

Of god and guise
Joseph A. Pinto

What fear say you?

To which I reply possess no fear, nor cowardice, for that matter. I am of an esoteric order, keeper of the indulger of dust and decay. To my god I owe nothing but respect. I, its dutiful tasker of divine immolation.

Ssh. Agonize not. To your knees. In newfound supplication, your chin now lift. See my god. Know my god. Relish its kiss as to stone I press your cheek.

Let my god eat through grit until grit turns to bone. To flesh. And through your flesh, baptized newly my god once more.

Welcome, my master…

Medusa’s Child
Magenta Nero

With a final shriek it was expelled, I tried to kicked it away. The nurse scooped it up, oblivious to my panic. Tears streamed as I squeezed my eyes shut but I heard it’s first gurgled cry and my resolve melted. Sobbing I turned to face the babe. It was held aloft in gloved hands; a strange, blue wrinkled thing. We both fell silent as our gaze met. Then it began and I watched helplessly as it spread. Fine hairline fractures became deep cracks, it’s wriggling limbs froze. The nurse screamed as my baby crumbled and shattered in her hands.

by Tyr Kieran

They teach rules with which to govern yourself—defining factors handed down from our creator looking to reward those that act accordingly. Then there’s societal laws, rules made by man and enforced by the same. They pound them into your head from birth. But, they neglect to tell you, it’s a flawed system! Following these rules only leaves you or your loved ones vulnerable to those living of their own accord. One such “rogue” killed my son. Now, I say fuck the system! I’m making my own rules from here on out. Revenge won’t be sweet enough, but it’s mandatory!

Hallowed Be Thy Name
Thomas Brown

The past haunts us like ragged ghosts, like the remembered scent of an old flame. I prayed to Him. For three years I knelt, palm to palm, seeking forgiveness.

“Father, can you hear me?”

It was the thirteenth when He answered. Three years, of tears, upset, not knowing where I fit in. I woke, crusty-eyed, cold. 3am. Moon fat in the sky.


For the longest time, silence. I was used to this. I began to drift off. Then bedsprings, sudden weight, a whisper in my ear. The Lord smelled a lot to me like wet dog.

“I hear you.”

Innocence Lost
Blaze McRob

The eyes stare out, seeing what they don’t see. He’s been here long enough to see the forest grow up around this place . . . a place meant to elicit oohs and aahs. Apparent youth beams a message of happiness and innocence. Yet not is all as it appears.

Strength lies within the arm of the child, the ruddy bas-relief almost giving it a hairy appearance. The arm of the beast. That’s what the legends say. Stay away at all costs.

Not everyone heeds the words of the wise ones. Self-sacrifice. Unwilling. Final.

The smile spreads wider. The child has been nourished.

Silent Wrath
Craig McGray

Stone statues and distant memories are all that remain of children. Gone are the days of playgrounds filled with joy and laughter, replaced instead by the tears and sorrow of those who cannot let go the thought of holding a child, their bodies unable to produce what they long for. We allowed the world around us to decay into a cesspool of man’s worst traits, ignorant to the consequences of our actions and even more damning was our inaction. Some waited for a violent apocalypse to descend from above. Instead, we received this silent wrath. Soon we’ll all be gone.

Every Other Weekend
Christopher A. Liccardi

“Why do the eyes follow us, Mommy?” The boy asked, rubbing snot from his nose with his sleeve.

“Because someone needs to watch over you. Mommy can’t always keep an eye out. “She knew their time together was short; no longer than a walk to the other end of the cemetery.

“Is this where Daddy lives now?” he asked.

“Yes, it is sweetheart.”

They reached the entrance to the lonely grey slab building. It smelled of new decay and dried flowers.

“Mommy?” he questioned in a nasely voice.

“In ya go, kiddo. Daddy’s waiting.”

She closed the door behind him.

The Forgotten
Zack Kullis

Rough, with hints of moisture from the morning dew – each sensation punctuated by the never-ending cold. Careful to touch only the surface where the memory was etched, and not the deeper rock that offers no sentiment, he outlines the gravestone with ghostly fingers.

The dead feel more than the living ever could. Cumbersome flesh is like a thick glove, hiding most sensory input. His spirit’s fine matter misses nothing. The sole visitor stopped only to admire the exquisite art, oblivious of the weeping apparition.

“If they will not visit me, then I will bring the bitterness of the afterlife to them.”

Rings of Death
Nina D’Arcangela

She comes always – even on the coldest of days. She comes and weeps fained devastation. My father watches silently; a man broken by his pain. The carriage stands vigil; the horses fuss, hair shimmering in the sunlight. The stable hands often complained of the muck after our adventures; but their silence already bought. The animals pristine by the time father broke from his study; our supposed jaunts to the park never fell suspect. Mother and I traveled to wooden houses, each bore a mark upon the door; a mark the same hue as the flowers now spilling from my pockets.


Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2015
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.


The Faceless Brides

Aislinn crawls under her covers, which feel cold against her skin, like her mother’s lips on wintry mornings when she kisses her goodbye for school. Goosebumps prickle her arms but she is not uncomfortable; she is in bed, the place of dreams and sleep and snug familiarity, and there is no discomfort in these things. Besides, the bed will grow warm quickly. It does so every night. At least, it has done every night beforehand.

Small fingers in the darkness find her bedcovers. Dragging the cotton sheets up her body to beneath her chin, she glances one last time across her room. This is her bedroom. Her private place, where she can host tea parties, entertain her dolls and read eagerly from glossy teen magazines, secreted beneath her mattress, without fear of being judged or, worse, disarmed.

The curtains flutter. Her rocking-horse creaks. From across the room, her Gameboy console flickers briefly into life. For one moment its blue light illuminates her shelf of smiling dolls – she sees Molly, Blossom, Lady Honeypaw, clutching tight the jar of her namesake – then it cuts out again. The room falls still.

She is half-asleep now. Her eyes are closing and she is drifting off. Her legs slip either side of her bedcovers, relishing the feel of them, the coolness against her skin, and in this half-sleep state she wishes for a bedtime story. Her thumb finds her mouth, as it always does when she is in bed and it is dark. Her thumb precludes dreams and sleep and a snug familiarity.

She wishes for a bedtime story. She wishes so very hard.

Her mother hasn’t read to her this evening. She can hear her some nights, through the floor, laughing with her father; the sounds of glasses clinking, of shrieks and the murmur of the television. Her mother reads less and less of late. Aislinn isn’t sure why. She sucks harder on her thumb, coats the digit in a glistening layer of saliva, and wishes her mother would read to her again, like she used to, like before.

The flutter of the curtains. The creak of the rocking horse. And another sound, like a crying dog, from somewhere nearby. She leans forward, peers over her crumpled covers, searching for its source. Her eyes scan her bedroom: the wardrobe, the night stand, the shelf where her dolls sit, glassy eyed, their lips stitched into beatific smiles. She knows those smiles. They are ‘supposed-to’ smiles. She wears them often enough.

And then she sees them. Three figures, no taller than Aislinn herself, standing quite still next to her mirror, beside the chest of drawers. She isn’t sure how long they have been standing there, hidden in plain sight by the dark. She doesn’t suppose it matters. Clutching her covers, her heart begins to race inside her chest.

Stepping through the darkness, they approach her silently. Perhaps they have come from the mirror, she thinks, or birthed from the shadows, or the fluffy insides of the dolls. The shadows cling to them like veils. Shrouded in blackness, they seem inscrutable, except for their whimpers, like Toby when he would trap his tail in the kitchen door. They smell like Toby too; wet fur, hot breath, rotten scents ill-fitting with their spirited movements.

They all three sweep towards her, limping across the bedroom floor, and she shrinks hurriedly into her covers, warmer now, infused with that sleepy smell. She takes a deep breath and, for one moment, the figures are forgotten for that smell.

Then they are around her bed.

They lean over the sheets, their chipped nails dragging delicately across the covers. Swathes of lace – or it might be lank hair – hang from their pencil-thin arms, and it is only when the first leans down, into Aislinn’s face, that she notices they wear veils, like those princesses from the animated films she loves to watch on Saturday mornings. Except they are like no princesses she has ever seen, and certainly no prince would ever march to save them, or slay a writhing serpent in their honour. She is a tight ball of trembling limbs beneath the covers.

Something thick and bulbous presses against the veil of the first; a tongue, long and swollen like a pale leech, and she wonders if these three are not the serpents themselves, in wicked disguise, come to claim her with their scaly claws. Her mouth opens, to shout, to cry, except no sound escapes her lips –

The curtains flutter, the rocking horse creaks and the three crones shudder to a stop. For a moment they seem to stare at each other through the murkiness of their veils. Then they spin slowly on their heels.

Something is happening to the rocking horse. It sways forwards and backwards, forwards and backwards, steadily at first but with increasing pace, just like it does when she mounts it. The dolls are twitching too, their legs swinging, button eyes blinking. Then, with deliberate slowness, the horse’s broad, white neck curves round. It whinnies, snorts a steamy breath, and its pearly black eyes fix themselves onto the Harridans.

They all three whine in unison. A long, twisting horn winds its way from out of the rocking-horse’s forehead, and then it is no longer a rocking-horse but a proud stallion, thickly-muscled and fierce. His solitary horn shines silvery and hard in the moonlight and even from across the room she can count the age-rings, smooth and marbled, on its surface.

He paws her bedroom carpet, strikes the fabric with his hooves, and snorts steamily again until he has the crones’ attention. He is her defender, she realises, wiping away the tears from her eyes. Even though she has not ridden him for a long time now, he remembers her hands on his neck. He remembers her weight on his back, her legs pressed tight to his sides, and he will fight for her.

The crones stagger with horrid purpose towards him. Shadows bleed from beneath their arms and the long strips of lace that hang there, and with every step closer to the horse their lamenting wails intensify.

Aislinn shrinks further beneath her covers as, with a dreadful lurch, the first crone reaches the stallion. He whinnies and rears up as she draws near, shining hooves pedalling beside the toy-box. The crone cowers on the floor before him and for a moment it looks as though the stallion might triumph, his eyes two glistening marbles in the dark.

Then the other two reach his sides. Their lamenting cries made all the more horrible for what they are about to do, they claw him, their fingers shearing long, thin rashers from his flanks. Cackling and weeping they bury their fingers deeper into his pale coat, drawing blackness from within, only this blackness is wet and drips from their hands to stain the carpet below. He throws back his head, his eyes rolling. Giddy sounds erupt from his throat.

One by one her dolls drop from the shelf. The room fills with soft sounds as they hit the carpet, then the patter of their boots as they rush across the floor. Reaching up they tug at the crones, grasping the strands of lace and hair, pulling them back from the horse with Lilliputian might. She sees Molly and Blossom, their stitched lips pursed tight, and feels hope again.

With a voiceless heave, they bring one crone to the ground. She screams as she topples into the sea of smiling faces, her grey dress floating around her. They grab the dress and pin her down, Lady Honeypaw climbing triumphant onto her chest. She upends her pot of honey over the veiled face.

The last crone scatters her assailants. She snatches them up, tears them in two and tosses them away. Stuffing spills from their broken bodies, buttons plink across the room, then she returns her hands to the steed.

He stumbles. Aislinn feels him fall and she trembles. Screams judder from his throat and he sinks down to his knees, the toy-box shattering beneath his bulk. Its contents scatter across the carpet. Sheared flesh covers the broken dolls, blood splashes their button eyes and then the stallion’s mane darkens, until it might have been one of the scouring pads her mother uses to scratch out dirt from the sink. The stallion lies still amid her toys.

The crones regroup and turn, together, to her bed. She trembles harder beneath her sheets. Her eyes brim with tears again, although she is otherwise motionless, frozen by a mixture of fear and something else, something strange, a feeling of familiarity. Downstairs, all is silent. Her mother and father must have gone to bed. She has no brothers or sisters. Toby is long gone now, ‘to be with the angels in the sky,’ though she knows he really occupies a shallow hole in the back garden, behind the roses. She remembers dank soil, his short fur and cold flesh.

As she drags her covers over her, so that only her eyes are visible, she realises she knows these crones. They are her long-dead dog, her slain steed, every bedtime without stories; fears made half-physical in the dark and the night. She sees something of herself in the crones’ withered forms; and her mother and her grandmother, and realises they are not just crones but brides, manifestations of age and motherhood, come to claim her at last, as they must claim all growing girls –

The three rise up once more around her bed. They lean in close, and even through her covers, their salty breaths catching in her throat. It seems like everything warm, everything nice, everything she knows is good and right, is swallowed up by the black void of their veils. Their fingers rise to their veils, clasping them even as their other hands brush Aislinn’s covers. For a moment their hands hover there. Then, with one quick motion, they tear the delicate net cloth from their faces.

A scream fills Aislinn’s mouth. It fills her bedroom too, piercing even the blackest shadows as she looks upon the faces of the brides. Then the brides are gone and she is sitting up in the darkness, her mother rushing to her side, concern and sleep in equal measures in her eyes.

Slowly Aislinn calms down. Her mother switches on lights and reads to her. After a while, her breathing steadies. Her eyes regain a languid glaze. Guided by her mother’s words, she sinks back into her bed; that place of dreams and sleep and snug familiarity, except not so familiar any more.

Unable to place what has changed, in a room that has not, she drifts uncertainly back to sleep and dreams of riding down the aisle atop a snorting stallion, delicate lace trailing after her, a thin net veil before her face.

~ Thomas Brown

© Copyright 2015 Thomas Brown. All Rights Reserved


Damned Words 13


Silently, Deliberately
Jon Olson

Every day, like a moth to a flame, I revisit this spot, eager to see it again. Leaning back against the tree, I gaze out onto the horizon. My eyes scan left to right, right to left. It was here, on this small protrusion of land, I saw it hovering silently, deliberately above the Atlantic water. Mechanical, organic, frightening and alluring all rolled into one. For hours I watched with morbid fascination until it finally disappeared into the sky. Since then, my dreams, every waking moment, have been obsessing over it. So here I sit, waiting, hoping, for its return.

Burn To Your Core
Joseph A. Pinto

And still I survive here; and I am charred; and I am lifeless without ever having died. You surround me with portrait skies my limbs can never touch; only the water to nourish me, delivered by beak of bird and sob of storm. Yes, you planted me in barren ground, but I chose to take root. Strove to blossom. More than ever, I realize I cannot. How deathly I must appear against the backdrop you manufactured, an obstruction to all you’d thought perfected. An eyesore so startling I am beauty in my own right; it must burn to your core.

Rest In Peace
Thomas Brown

Last night I ate with my family for the last time. My brothers and sisters drank, danced, laughing as they have laughed for centuries while gorging themselves to sate the endless void. Let them. I can’t remember ever feeling so full, so monstrously sick of it all. Dawn approaches. Over and over the sea heaves itself against the grey shingles. I was born here; it seems right that I should end here too. Standing on the shore, I watch the waves and the ash floating over them. Birds scream. The sea sighs. I am here, now, and it is beautiful.

Craig McGray

It’s been years since anything has blossomed. Sure, an overly ambitious weed may sprout from time to time, or a sporadic leaf may unfold from the tip of a naked branch, but the inky blackness from the soil strangles any attempt to splash color onto its infected landscape. Mankind and nature alike have been smothered by the rot that has stolen the color from the ground and seas. The sky remains the only hint of color in our decimated world and even that will soon be gone. Each day grows shorter, every night becomes longer. We did this to ourselves.

Duel at Dawn
Blaze McRob

A gentle breeze carries the stench of rot to this seemingly idyllic park. Voices, agitated, from both sides, toss curses at each other, bellowing out that the other will get what is coming to him. They back up to each other, take the ten obligatory paces, turn, and aim.

Lightning strikes the little piece of land jutting out into the river as it has for hundreds of years, ripping through the soil. Both men drop to the ground without a shot being fired.

There will be a duel at dawn once more. Until there is a victor, neither can rest . . .

Magenta Nero

Finally, a precious moment alone. Staring into the vast emptiness of sky her troubled thoughts churn. The afternoon sun glares in the distance. She frowns as she watches it, an uneasy feeling creeping over her. It is not the sun. It is moving, hurtling towards her quickly. It comes to a sudden halt above her, a huge and gleaming object. She clutches her ears as a deep grating hum fills her head. She thinks to run, to scream, but she can’t move. Her body begins to rise, sucked by a stream of blinding light into the belly of the craft.

Promises, Promises
Hunter Shea

She was hanging from the lone tree by the sea, the very place we first made love, our sweat crystallizing with salt, the ammonia scent of our urgency sticky between us. Her limp body presented a dark silhouette against the setting sun. I saw her clothes in a wrinkled pile beneath her feet, toes pointed to where we once lay, a jumble of limbs and satisfied orifices. The surf crashed, imperceptible flecks of foam plinking into the pores of my face.

Her body jerked.


One cut. She gasped.

Into the sea, my love. I promised you a beautiful death.

Watching Clouds
Tyr Kieran

That was the day our greatest fear came true. A slow build war neither cold nor vigorous. The talking heads had spewed their hype for months, only exacerbating the arrogant, heavy-handed mistakes of the politicians. Cultures clashed causing egos to surge up and trample all over rationale. It wasn’t surprising that international spite and jealously is what pushed the button in the end. When the alert hit the airwaves and our government admitted their diplomatic errors, it was far too late–death was on the way. No sense in running. I just sat down and watched the mushroom cloud form.

By Nina D’Arcangela

Raised are the seas that stood calm before me; quelled are those that traveled by wing to mock me; desiccated is all that once grew to surround me – I stand alone. Arms raised toward the heavens, I pulled upon God’s wrath to sear man’s attempt to staunch my avarice, my deserved ferocity. Tarred may be my flesh, but my spirit stands rooted in this land; untouchable. I thrive not for my glory, but for the one I have served eternally. Each leaf bloomed; yet another tear of poison shed. Each leaf fallen; yet another drop of the demon’s blood spread.

Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2015
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.


Damned Words 12

Trail Runner
Craig McGray

Mother Nature’s realm, the one place I feel at home and alive and deadly. I lie in wait. I’m anxious yet patient because I know one will come, and when she does, the waiting will make it all the more sweet. The anticipation builds until I feel like I may burst. Ah, here comes one now. Her shoes pressing into the moist soil and the pebbles crunching beneath her feet triggers my pulse to race out of control. Mmm. I slide the blade across my palm, the pain further heightening my senses. So beautiful, so alive. She has no idea.

Magenta Nero

Unmarked is the spot but I know the way, I walk there every night in my dreams. Twigs snap under foot, the lush canopy overhead casts dappled light on stones. Nobody knows your resting place and nobody misses you it seems. I return to unearth you, piece by piece, as on my mind the memories play. Carefully I take your hand in mine again. The knotted bones of our fingers slip together and lock. Your hand so thin, white and smooth, the flesh eaten away. My hand soft, pink and lined with the dirt of words I dare not say.

Wholesome Death
Zack Kullis

He huddled between the bush and his meal and snorted his frustration. Nocturnal eyes glared as the light spread across the ground and chased his protective darkness away. Grom dropped the glob of intestines and looked around for the hole to his clan’s subterranean home.

“Piss,” he gurgled.

Grom started to claw furiously at the elk’s belly, thinking he could hide inside the bloody carcass. He pulled out a pile of guts and dove inside just as the sun rose.

His large eyes peered out from the gore, hateful of the poisonous light that bathed the clearing in wholesome death.

Tyr Kieran

I spotted dragons on the water and rang the alarm—hammering the bell with all my strength—but, they were too fast. They hit the shore running, swatting away our arrows like pesky flies. Their strength and size was terrible to behold. We sent a barrage of prayers, efforts in futility as even God was outnumbered by their one-eyed Odin and his troop of Gods. Few survivors were taken, loot for the barter like gold and silver. I saw it all from the tower before fleeing into the forest where I lived out my days in fear of their return.

Street Walker
Thomas Brown

The woods sing to him, and their song is the howl of wild dogs. He wakes to it in his single apartment bed, nine floors above the city, and in the artificial pallor of the subway after long days at work.

There was a time when he wondered where the sounds came from, and why. Then he realised it was him. In this cold, grey place, he bore the forest in his flesh. He is the bear, the crow, the lone wolf with ravenous appetite.

In the relative dark of moonless nights, he hunts well by the glow of streetlamps.

Can You See Me?
Jon Olson

Can you see me? Nobody has yet. Look at that scenery. Rocks spread out like a carpet; foliage draped like tapestries; and sunshine illuminating a path. It looks peaceful, beautiful, undisturbed. Families walk through, children laughing with their parents unsuspecting. Who would feel the need to keep their guard up? This is their leisure, their getaway… and my hunting ground. They are my prey, carefree and oblivious to the danger; unaware of my presence. Slipping silently through the trees, I stalk, then strike. Their fear fills my nostrils; their blood my mouth; their screams my ears. Can you see me?

Joseph A. Pinto

I will not sing; listen if you wish to, but not today. Empty promises have turned me into a joke and I have finally bought into my own foreshadowing, granted the chance to call my parting shot. I struggle to realize this paradise surrounding me, struggle to be soothed under these vigilant boughs. But you had to know this day would come eventually, did you not? Don’t act surprised when you find me melded with the pores of the earth. Sit at the bole of this tree, write the lyrics I could never mouth, intone the good life I deserved.

Festering Evil
Blaze McRob

Twisted variants of nature rest, their moment of revenge at hand. Those responsible for the ruination of what they once were will pay the ultimate price.

Sunshine rocks the ravine, giving a false sense of bliss to anyone who might wander this way. Evil lurks, festering in the trees and rocks, licking its lips in anticipation of what is to come.

Foot plants sound, steady, unaware. The fool comes closer, not able to see the creatures blending so well into the rocks and trees. In a fraction of a second, the young man drops.

The polished stones drip with blood…

Hunter Shea

Under the loose stones I laid her down to sleep – my rock, my love. Down the path where we once walked, two souls at nature’s end. To the place we shared our wonder, our hopes, and on that final day, my secret.

I wonder if the worms have hatched, wriggling from her flesh. Prying a stone from the wet earth, I breathe deep, lick its soiled bottom, feel the beetles skitter along my tongue.

Ah, it’s her taste I miss the most.

Was it wrong to tell her my fantasies? My desire to one day consume her fruited body?


Nina D’Arcangela

Strike, squeal, wrap – a struggle to breath; it mistakenly exhales. Tighten the coil; death comes swiftly. I feast. My stomach distends; I lie baking in warm bliss. The day’s shine scuttles away; my body cools in concert. I follow, sluggishly laden with my prize. Smooth rocks caress my underbelly; a shedding begins. I slowly work my way through the the maze: peeling, sloughing, morphing; revealing. A tremor travels through the stone bed; my senses heighten. No rustle, no sound, only deep vibration. It approaches. The trail of flesh betrays me; a single glance ends me – the Basilisk is upon me.

Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2015
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.


Damned Words 11


A Reason
Joseph A. Pinto

I found a reason to walk tween the folds of winter’s shawl, so hand in hand go we along Perdition’s Road. Shall we burn, we burn as one; shall we suffer, then know love cores the depths of our wounds. Lace your trembling fingers round my neck and your burdens I shall carry. I’ve no need to burn this lantern’s oils for our demons come well-known. Let them swirl in the dark, guttering til gone. Death is tenant of our path, yet tonight she’ll know no coin. My life I mortgage for yours; take flight now against my sky.

Nina D’Arcangela

Torn and bloodied, she huddles against the lantern’s pedestal fighting for a life already lost. Broken in spirit, broken in heart, she watches as they circle, awaiting night’s fall. Not taken on the last, she knows this eve she’ll not be so lucky. Day is already beginning to dim; the heavens darken. Having sought solace in the flicker of a dying flame, the whispers in her mind reassure no salvation will be granted. Darker than the deepening hue of the foreboding sky, they watch. The lantern struggles to glow, then gutters out. Her hope vanquished, they descend. The feast begins.

Thomas Brown

It had gone midnight when I crossed the park but he was quite visible by the street lamp. Stick limbs. Wild hair. The sickly-sweet scent of honey. He was filthy and beautiful.

Upturned, his pale face bathed in the orange glow. I saw his tight lips, his dusty skin. His eyes were like two orbs of polished stone. I saw myself in them a thousand times over, growing larger as I approached.

He smiled as I swarmed in his eyes, this Monarch-Man, my Emperor. I smiled back. Together we danced around the street lamp, and the night whispered with wing-beats.

Welcome to New Orleans
Zack Kullis

James glanced at the last gas lantern as they followed the old Haitian woman. Its light seemed to warn of coming darkness, fluttering and pointing away from the famed priestess. They had asked her for a taste of local voodoo, thinking it was bullshit until the old woman turned in the darkness of an alley and blew powder into their faces.

“Coupe poudre,” she whispered with a grin.

He pawed at his face until his legs buckled. Unable to move, James gazed with unblinking eyes as the voodoo priestess stooped close to his face.

“Welcome to New Orleans, my pet.”

Color Me Gray
Blaze McRob

It’s another gray winter evening, bereft of color, even the moonlight not distinct. And the light at the end of the old rock wall? Colorless. The sky blind to its presence.

The leaf-less trees pass his word through their twitching branches. He is pissed. Revenge is on his mind. Those who would destroy what he created must pay the price.

A giant pallet, held between his enormous hands, continues to draw all colors other than gray to it.

Armageddon will be much easier now. The lack of color already depresses them.

Great moans come from everywhere as the beasts attack.

High Society
Hunter Shea

“It’s the one right there”
“Where? I can barely see.”
“The one with the old gas lamp.”
The crowbar made quick work of the rusty mausoleum door. Bitter fall wind knifed through the opening.
“Help me with this.”
They chipped away at the cement covering, dumping the coffin on the floor.
“Shhh, you’ll wake the dead!”
They both tittered.
The coffin lid opened with an eerie squeal. The corpse looked like jerky, smelled rancid.
“You first.”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
He lowered his open maw on the corpse’s face.
Eaters of the Dead Society was not for the squeamish.

Jon Olson

This city stands tall, desolate, and lifeless like the trees against the sunless sky. More empty concrete; more of the same. Nothing. Perched atop the corner on a forgotten wall, a lamp. Encased and protected by a small cage. The glass bulb intact, untouched by history. I imagine it glowing; a beacon of hope in dark and despair. Wait! What was that? Did it just… my God, it did! The filament lit up! I swear it flickered. Do it again! The bulb had blinked once… teasing me. Flicker again! Please do it again! Damn it, I need this. God, please…

The Game
Craig McGray

Once a beacon of hope, the lanterns go unlit now. In a new world, where few things are guaranteed and only death is certain, he scours what remains of the charred earth for the precious few that have somehow survived the scorching heat, famine, and disease that has spread across the globe. They think they’re surviving, fools every one of them, but he’ll track them down; the ultimate hunter. When the demon and his ebony stallion finds them, they’ll wish they’d perished like the others. For the game has only one survivor and he rides atop a fleshless black beast.

Magenta Nero

I pace in the street light, my heels click a numbing tune. Many drive past, slowing down, hungry eyes gawking, but it’s just not their time.

The chosen one rolls up, engine humming. I get a blank stare when I smile and say “My service is free.”

His face drains of colour as it dawns. The irrevocable darkness is a rising tide within, a slow choking. I shriek excitedly as he passes over. My wings burst open, eager to deliver him. The judgement is always a feast of pain. Few are redeemed. Snatching his soul in my beak, I soar.

Ne’er To Be Seen Again
Tyr Kieran

Under this post, he lay slumped against the cold stone wall; bleeding, appropriately ripped open. I watch the pain swell in his eyes and it widens my smile. I had not reason to smile in weeks—not since the woman I loved had been murdered in a savage manner. Despite her being of ill repute, I planned to marry. But on a night like tonight, with ring waiting in my pocket, I happened upon her torn body in the street. He took her from me. And now, I’ve taken him away from Whitechapel, ne’er to be seen in London again.

Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent.
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.


Damned Words 10


Thomas Brown

Misery rolled with the dogs in the shadows of Tompkin’s shed.

On August 25th, 1968, Mike Callahan hung himself from a cross-beam in the ceiling. The wood was old and riddled with rot but it held his weight well enough.

On July 13th, 1985, Sarah Paulson was stabbed in the neck while tending to the potted bulbs on the windowsill. She died instantly. The bulbs never sprouted.

1989, fire. 1997, rape.

In 2001, the Tompkins moved in. The shed became a doghouse. Two-year old Muttley howled perpetually. Three coats of paint couldn’t hide the stains seeping through the skirting board.

Inner Sanctum
Jon Olson

Don’t open it! Leave it shut! You must not let them in. I know you’re tired. You spent years building this place; this hideout; this inner sanctum. Yes, although you can’t see them, your victims are in here too. They coax you to open it; to reveal yourself to the real world. It would be so easy, so relieving, to turn the knob and walk out. No more hiding or pretending. But then what? What will you be out there? Condemned. In here, you rule; you are god. That’s right, step back and let’s go find us a new victim.

Home, Never Sweet, Home
Tyr Kieran

Standing in this place again, after all these years, makes my scars tingle. I swear I can still taste the fear, the spilled blood, the unnatural appetites. Just by looking around, you can see that it was a house of torment; that the structure itself acquiesced to the display of wicked sins. And yet, despite the hatred I bear for my family and this past, I’ve always felt the need to return—a subconscious compulsion to revisit and relive. So, I’ve come back and brought with me this nice trembling family to whom I will gladly pass on the tradition.

Mind Palace
Zack Kullis

In prison I walked the only halls I could – those of my mind.  Once luxurious, they now sit in rot and degradation.  Twenty years ago this palace was filled with vivid splendor.  But memory without input is like a sail without wind – damned to stagnation.

I created this entire place, with the exception of a troublesome door in the darkest recess.  No longer able to resist, I open it.  A loathsome horde escapes and fills me with their cries of lunacy.  The open door shows my cell, its inhabitant raving.  My hoarse cackle echos that of the imprisoned maniac.

Magenta Nero

The force shredded the meat from her bones, flesh flaying like curls of thin paper. She felt herself as a trembling skeleton, the frame that once held her image, her story. Then that too disintegrated in the searing heat. You need to be on the brink to make a choice like that, to challenge the very fabric of the universe, to bend time to your will. The portal opens, a swirling whirlpool of unstable energy, threatening to fold in on itself and disappear. Time at her fingertips and no time to hesitate. She approached the blinding light, she stepped through.

Shadow World
Blaze McRob

One lousy layer of wood is all that separates me from what waits on the other side. Yet, I have fared better than the rest of the town. I am still alive.

I tried warning them, but they laughed at me the way they always did. When they came, it was too late. I should have just fucking gone and not worried about them. I did try. The fault is theirs.

I walk to the door, open it, and embrace the Dark. They are out there, shadows begetting shadows. No more waiting. I am ready.

I am one of them…

Leslie Moon

Dusty are those memories: HORSE, the gas scooter we built, the telegraph system…

What is it that two tom-boys saw in that old shack? We imagined a spark could give us a glimpse into history. You held the wire while I hosed the area. You vanished with the last of the sparks; I kept the ashes.

Every year, I go back to find me and see you. I get one question – you always evade the Edison one. This year something is different instead of you answering a question about another century you’re holding a sparking wire and that same dripping hose.

Nina D’Arcangela

Cowering in the corner, I muffle the ceaseless pounding upon my psyche with useless hands that cover my ears. The thunderous clamor from the other side continues night into day, day into night. I watch the walls quiver with each new assault upon my senses; the crack in the floor creeps closer and closer with each quake of the jam. Cold and alone, this huddling in dank misery seems endless. I crawl forward; the battering stills in pregnant pause. I reach for the key in the old lock; listen to its bare click as it disengages. The door swings open…

Craig McGray

The world is different now, so fucking different. At first, things seemed random; pockets of disease spreading slightly before being contained, angry mobs destroying their own communities, financial crises. We were too arrogant to see the bigger picture, a picture that didn’t include more than two-thirds of the planet’s population. And now, I’m the one-third of my family still alive. I know what atrocities wait beyond that door because I’ve survived the horrors on this side of that same door. I step over the severed heads and gnashing jaws of my wife and son as I reach for the handle.

Joseph A. Pinto

The chandelier hung here once; your eyes caught in its crystal, cast into a thousand shards, yet I could not see who you were. It is gone now. So are the tools that spurred us, tore all down. I have kept to my menial task of rebuilding; oh, the drudgery of my clumsy fingers through dust clotted hours of toil. Our palace razed, I recall the promise you once glimpsed through these slatted boards. I hold fast to that vision. Our walls crumbled; this foundation strong. You are part of it now. Each pass of my trowel layers your smile.

Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent.
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.


Damned Words 9


Jon Olson

How long has it been? No way to keep track. Not in here; not in this crypt. I’m sure the humans know. Once, they were prey; I was the hunter, too powerful for defeat. How long since they dug this pit and threw me in? Imprisoning and confining me to this tomb? These stone walls: built to contain; to prevent my escape. Impenetrable; unbeatable. That’s their belief; makes them feel safe; makes them forget. Time will be their undoing. Look there! See the plants? Slowly, they’ve found a weakness; slipping in through cracks. A way in, is a way out.

Stone Cold
Blaze McRob

The time is nigh. He feels it, smells it, tastes it. The rocks encased in the cement binding the wall together tingle with excitement. Leaves growing within the cracks between the rocks turn towards the sound of foot steps.

The fool approaches. Each step brings him ever closer to his destiny.

Anticipation hangs heavy in the air.

The young man is entranced by the wall. Stepping closer, the leaves reach out to him and force him flush against the structure. His spirit and the soul trapped within the wall exchange places.

He walks away, a devilish grin on his face.

Bipedal Meal
Zack Kullis

The grating whisper of movement over rock and stone pull me from my long slumber. Sweet bipedal things, wet and soft, are often driven by curiosity into these cavernous depths.

Warm hands grip the cold rocks as they descend with their blasphemous light. Their tasty meat, covered by cloth and rope, awakens my ravenous hunger. One draws near, its eyes focused on where it climbs, unaware it just took its last breath.

No scream escapes its crushed throat. Through his terrified mind I see my eyeless face and gaping maw until his death closes the vision and my meal begins.

Stone Deaf
Leslie Moon

Etch away the soil of my heart. Let the roots and tendrils cling.
Where once blood flowed upon a course, there pulses a stony thing.
Nothing do I feel but cold. But when I lay me down…
A hatchet set to “swoosh” and “ching”; a dark and eery sound.
Young and fair my head to rest . Choice sinews for carrion to shred.
They laughed so coarsely in the crowd; fools believed I was dead.
I will get my pound of flesh when next I am set free.
Beware those who have put me here. A rock cannot hear your pleas.

Cannibalistic Life
Tyr Kieran

Life, all life, is cannibalistic. The temperate way to say this is ‘cyclical’, but let’s be honest, the transition isn’t exactly a smooth one. Some take the phoenix perspective, where life rises in miraculous fashion from impossible means. And, I say, that is nothing but ignorance. Nature survives on destruction, it requires death. This malformed wall, for example, was built with more than stone—a mortar made of mud and human remains. The bodies of Jewish children stacked atop their brothers and mothers by “superior” humans; Aryans advancing by killing. And, from this concentrated death, green nature shamelessly grows anew.

The Cave
Craig McGray

The secrets of the cave were no secret to Ravena. She’d seen what happened to those who wandered too close, and it fascinated her: the screams as the inhabitants revealed themselves; the panic when victims realized that there was no escape; the blissful sound of ripping flesh, the tearing of sinew as the creatures devoured their meal. Even as a child, she found delight in the slaughter and dreamt of the day when she might partake in the massacre. She would wait no longer as today was her eighteenth birthday and two adventurous campers had just strayed from their group.

Thomas Brown

Your bodies slid over one another, lubricated by sweat and the warming oil from your bedside drawer. I watched for as long as I could, hypnotised by your sinuous limbs.

“I’m sorry,” you said afterwards. You said other things too; empty words as hollow as the hole in my heart. “LonelyfrustratedIdon’tlovehimyouareneverhere.”

When your speech was finished, I took the bedside lamp to your head. You died in a flash of light. I buried you in the dark, beneath the stone wall between our garden and the fields behind. Nettles grow there now. In the summer, butterflies dance over your grave.

Joseph A. Pinto

And now there is nothing, nor shall there ever be; from light I have walled myself. Immurement eternal; so shall I become one with stone. My fortress, my penitentiary – a fitting fate; obscurity wrapped as melded shawl round my shoulders. Yet still you find your way, flitting ‘tween cracks I believed mortared so long ago. Ivy seeks my companionship; so too do you seek to entwine my heart. But I have grown unjustly hardened, so wrongly decayed. Leave me, do you hear? I deserve as much. Let me solidify as I contemplate the ways I have erred, gone wrong.

Nina D’Arcangela

From impenetrable depths I hear a single word drifting on stone-cold breath: Come. The shadows beckon me; an icy existence beyond pain calls to one of its ilk – a destroyed soul, my soul. The nether recognizes its own; the summons continues. I stumble forward, grasping desperately at sanity. Home, it murmurs seductively. I scream my need for shrouded deliverance. Reaching a desperate hand forward, I place it upon the stone, follow the path into dappled darkness, but no matter the length of my stride, sanctuary eludes me; the promise is shattered. I’ll forever chase shadows that reveal nothing but light.

Magenta Nero

Smell the rot you will soon become as your eyes close for the final time. You have always been within my grasp; you have always been mine.

Rest against my ancient skin; hard as rock, cold as stone. Flay yourself against my edge: sharp, cruel, merciless. Feel the warmth drain away, blood turns to ice in your veins. The pain of your myth subsides. Breath escapes as mist, a long held speechless gasp. Before you infinite nothingness, mocking laughter.

I will swallow you whole and fold the illusion of time. Rest against my ancient skin; you have always been mine.

Hunter Shea

Skulls. I’m surrounded by skulls.

“Wait, wait, don’t leave me here!” Sweat pumped from Jarod’s pores. Was it the pain from the compound fracture? Or was it the skulls?

“You can’t leave me here with all these dead people!”

Steve turned his headlamp into the crevasse. It couldn’t penetrate the pitch. Somewhere down there, his friend was losing it.

“We’ll be back with help. Just hang tight, Jarod!” he shouted.

“They’re only stones, buddy,” Steve added. “It’s the shock. It’ll wear off.”

Jarod stared at the wall’s rock face.

Only stones.

“Heh, heh,” something cackled.

The first stone shifted.


Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent.
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.


Damned Words 8


Nothing Lives
Jon Olson

Reflections in windows tease and haunt, showing what was, and what is no longer. Do not look at the glass! Damn, too late. Reflected before me is a tree. Its trunk, branches, and leaves, all on display. I want it to be real. I roam these empty streets. Searching, hoping, and praying to find someone; something; anything. People, animals, and plants are all gone. Concrete, steel and glass remain. I call out and listen, but only my echo replies. This city is dead; nothing lives. The sky is grey; no sun or clouds. Life has abandoned this place; abandoned me.

In Everything
Zack Kullis

They watch and wait in everything. I can feel their hungry eyes and thrusting glares, pulling for the acknowledgement that would seal my fate. Stupid therapist called it Pareidolia.

Demons, creatures, faces and things of terror live in almost everything. Seeing them draws them into your head where they eat your soul. I avoided them until today, overcome by a single glance at a building, a window holding the tree and cloudy sky – all of them full. I heard them coming. Two ice picks saved me, one for each eye. With the windows to my soul ruined, I was free.

Magenta Nero

It reflects her suffering, an enticing apparition. “Ease the regret, press your fingertips to mine. I can take from you the memories, I can turn back time.” Its huge empty eyes drip in black streaks, it twists and sighs evocatively. She reaches for its ghostly hand but she pauses, her fingertips tremble, hovering just above the glass. The apparition buckles with rage, the glass rattles as it slams against the surface, begging for release.

“Not yet.” she says and turns away. She wraps on her coat and scarf and heads quickly out the door; she is late for work again.

The Hill
Craig McGray

Neighborhood kids told stories about The Hill, regurgitating false truths that their parents told them. Tall tales about what really went on behind the mirrored glass and towering brick walls, but I learned early on that most parents were full of shit, mine included.

My father told me they did ‘things’ to bad people on The Hill and I should stay away from there. My dad was an asshole, but he wasn’t full of shit.

He should have taken his own advice because they, I mean WE, really did some horrific things to him when he came to The Hill.

The Mill
Nina D’Arcangela

I look out upon all that is left. Sunlight scorches this land; with morning comes heat, an assault upon existence. With evening, a frigid wind; though still a brief respite. I squint as I glare down among those who wallow at my feet. My stone begins its grind, my furnace stokes; a rival to the blistering rays without, but only barely. Their faces turn up, beseeching. I watch as they enter my opening maw; again as they depart in concert with the tenors screech from my bowels. Stragglers dally, grubbing for scraps. Something needs fill the stone on the ‘morrow.

Looking Out
Leslie Moon

curtains brown, tattered and torn

reflections were once welcome

swatting away evening’s flies

light, life, color, have been exiled

I wonder to where they have fled


Dark shadows of night interpose

greedily they suck the last drop of day

beating away the memories of her, of us

“futile” I murmur

there is nothing left to hold dear


In response the fluttering starts to sneer

night’s sinister incessant chuckle

It loves to remind me

there may still be bloodied remnants

in swiss dotted fabric that the flies have missed

white now turned rusty

I tell myself “better not to remember”

Joseph A. Pinto

Nothing will stand between us; nothing will keep me away. The cruelty, locked in your silent world. All you hear is nothing, even as I shout your name. What see of you beyond the reflection of spirit-churned skies? What know of you within that haunted heart? I shall shatter your glass; recover your incarcerated soul. The cruelty, shackled in your listless words. All you think is nothing, even as I cry your name. What suffer of you behind bricked walls? You wait eternally; I say wait no more. Nothing will deny sky from its horizon. Angels of their fall. Nothing.

The Conductor
Thomas Brown

Fingers clutch at the crumbling windowsill. Outside, light spills across the apartment blocks and the gardens beneath.

He calls it a garden but it is little more than paving slabs on which she reclines and smokes and dies a little death each night. She loves cigars. Fat, Cuban things in her slim hands. The whole of her is slim. When she stretches out he imagines taking a stick to her ribs, beating them, making music with her bones. It is not enough, just to see. Beneath his practised hands, her bones could sing. A symphony of human sound, in harmony!

Glass Portrait
Blaze McRob

A picture forms in the panes of glass as it does every day before dusk becomes night. Clouds and trees tonight. Maybe an impending storm. Yes, that’s what I need. Evil must be displayed!

Even now the clouds twist and turn as they darken, and the trees are blown away from the glass portrait. The tranquil scene changes before me. An evil face forms in the glass, hideous in its deformity, mocking the world with its visual display of arrogant intent.

I walk inside and look in the vestibule mirror. “Dorian Gray, you look as young as ever,” I say.

Tainted View
Tyr Kieran

I used to love the view. I’d sit by the sill, mindlessly picking at the cracked paint and I’d watch life happening on the street below; the hasty flow of businessmen scattering off to hard-earned paychecks, health nuts jogging in tight clothes with their leashed, oversized dogs, even the filthy down-trodden vagabonds that stumble from meter to meter—all symptoms of life’s intricate dance; of life’s beauty. Oh, how wrong I was! Now, I see the gritty reality. Ever since my wife hung herself in that goddamn tree, I’ve realized that the window shows the truth. It only shows pain.

A Trip to the Old Country
Hunter Shea

“That’s it right there,” Donal said, pointing at a four-paned window on the second floor. It was one of the few that still had glass in the barren building. The clouds had begun to darken and the air smelled like spring rain.

Finoula pressed her hand against his cheek. “If it’s too hard, we can go back.”

“No, I’m fine.” He kissed her palm. “Professors aren’t supposed to diddle their students, but some do anyway.”

“Bastard,” Finoula said, her gaze locked on the cloud-swept window.

Donal grinned. “You’re standing on him right now.”

He gave the soft earth a stomp.

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