Ongoing Submissions: Pretty Cool Poetry Thing

Payment: $10 to $20 and a contributors copy

at this time, we only accept poetry. maybe in the future, we’ll do other things, but the nature of printing on index cards makes space a severe factor. so sorry.

WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU

send 3 to 5 poems to [email protected] with a max of 300 words per poem, along with a 2 to 3 sentence bio written in the third person with your pronouns. send as one .doc/.docx file.

cover letter preferred. give us a preamble. give us a joke. write it in swedish. have fun with it!

simultaneous submissions allowed, but please inform us if accepted elsewhere. previously published poems are not accepted at this time. it’s ok if it’s on your blog though!

please follow the length guidelines closely! we’re working with index cards, so space is tight and we’d hate to reject a masterpiece because we can’t fit it.

WHAT YOU GET FROM US

if we accept your poem, we get one-time print publishing rights, then the rights go back to you.

we pay. depending on sales / number of poets, the amount will fall between $10 to $20. it’s not much, but it’s not zero!

and of course, you get a contributor’s copy. i mean, of course.

Via: Pretty Cool Poetry Thing.

Taking Submissions: Catacombs: Martyrs on Earth and Elsewhere

Deadline: July 31st, 2019
Payment: $25 for original work, $12 for reprints
Note: Reprints welcome

Amara looked up to the sky; the moon showered her with pale light. The sign was clear. She lowered her gaze to the field before her, to the bodies laying there, contorted in death. With a heavy sigh, Amara walked forward to her fate . . .

What We Want

Catacombs: Martyrs on Earth and Elsewhere is an anthology of stories about fictional martyrs past, present, and future, on Earth or some fictional world. The title is tentative so keep in mind that the final product could have a different title.

 

This anthology has some specific rules. Please read carefully.

 

Stories must be historical or speculative fiction; a combination of the two would also be fantastic.

We are looking for stories about individuals who give up their lives for their faith or for some cause greater than themselves. Judeo-Christian history is replete with stories of individuals who died for their faith, who sacrificed their lives rather than renounce God. Many of these martyrs, such as Sts. Stephen, Sebastian, Agatha, and Lucy, for example, are well known, recognized by one Christian sect or another, and are listed as Saints. For this issue, please send us plausible stories of unknown martyrs from any historic period or some future period or alternate reality, so long as the martyrs are martyred for the faith as understood by traditional Judeo-Christianity.

 

Please be sure to invent your own martyr and not use an actual historical or legendary figure.

 

We are also open to stories of individuals who died for other causes dear to the heart of Western civilization. If your hero died for a freedom enshrined in the Bill of Rights for instance, go ahead and try it. 

 

For this anthology, we are not interested in stories centered on individuals who died for the values of other great world religions such as Buddhism or Islam, or for pagan or neo-pagan religions such as Hinduism or Wicca respectively. Nor are we interested in heroes of communism, fascism, or for any other form of socialism. We will only accept stories of martyrs in the main theme of Judeo-Christian/Western Civilization. Please do not send a story that redefines or deconstructs the Judeo-Christian Tradition or Western Civilization or makes a martyr out of someone doing that.

 

Here are a few hints that might be helpful.

“They” say that there are no new plots or stories anywhere. “They” may be right, but you are the only you there is, so send us a story as only you can tell it, one that’s atmospheric, engaging, meaningful, and highly entertaining, has fascinating characters, one that takes place in a unique location or time period.

We originally envisioned this anthology as another issue of the Potter’s Field series, but it has gone away from that. We’re still looking for works that end up in graveyards in some way. However, it does not have to be a conventional graveyard. Here’s one example: back during the days of the Black Death, bodies were crammed—literally crammed—into mass graves underneath churches. Even today, in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, you can take a walking tour deep under the church and see walls of skeletons and dirt. Such a place would also qualify as a graveyard. Your hero could end up in buried in a church, a conventional graveyard, a potter’s field, or elsewhere.

Dying can be horrible, and many historical martyrs and heroes died horrifically, but we do not want stories that center on the gore, blood, splatter, or slice-and-dice. Sure, it might be good fun to make balloon animals out of someone’s intestines, or find out how long the heart will continue to beat after it has been ripped from the body with a spatula, but that’s not what we want. Your hero has to die and other characters may die as well. That’s fine. Just put a lid on the icky stuff. Your martyr might be burned to death, skinned alive, or drawn and quartered, but don’t make that the point of the story.

A word about sex and extreme language: We don’t mind it, necessarily, but the sex and/or colorful language must have a purpose. Keep in mind too that someone prepared to die for Christ is probably going to be following his commandments. Someone dying for free speech might be less particular.

Please know your historical period. If you don’t know anything about the time or setting and write it anyway, you must be banking on my not knowing it either. The editor was a history major in college, so don’t bet on it. Know your stuff or don’t write it.

Please know about Judeo-Christian Tradition and Western Civilization. If you don’t, please study it at length before submitting a story. We’ll probably notice that you’re uneducated on the topic and reject the story quickly. Study up on it or don’t write it.

If you choose to write a speculative fiction story, science fiction or fantasy, etc.—and we hope to get some in this vein—please note that the setting must be internally consistent and the hero’s sacrifice must still be based in the Judeo-Christian Tradition and the values of Western Civilization. That is, the future world, alien culture, alternate universe, what have you, must share those integral values in some plausible way.

Please don’t preach. Sermons don’t make good stories. Your character may preach, of course, but the whole story shouldn’t be a homily or a sermon. It should be a plot with conflict and action enacted by believable characters. That action may be violent or intellectual or legal or so on, but it must be there. Stories go places.

​​

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Taking Submissions: The House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature

Deadline: July 15th, 2019.
Payment: 50 – 75 dollars per story (CND, based on word count)

We are seeking provocative works of speculative fiction and poetry for the inaugural edition of: The House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature.

The HOZ Journal of Speculative Literature is a new literary magazine featuring quality works of speculative fiction and poetry. We are calling for new work in short story and poetry. We have two deadlines per year and produce two editions of the HOZ journal annually. Our first Deadline: July 15, 2019.

Fiction

HOZ are looking for literature that explores possibilities for the future. We want challenging short stories that are character driven, that reimagine the world and our place in it. We are looking for radical authors, feminist authors, LGBTQ2S authors, authors who experiment. Themes that thrill us: transhumanism, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, new systems, resistance, activism, queer perspectives, feminist perspectives, nature.

We are not interested in stories that concern the reinvention of empire, rehashing of old narratives, or excessive violence. We entertain all genre based stories so long as they concern the future and especially if related to our favourite themes. That said, we are looking for the best speculative fiction stories, so if you think you have something we might want, please consider sending it.

We accept stories from 1,000 to 7,500 words with a preferred word count of between 3,500 – 5,000 words. We pay 50 – 75 dollars per story (CND, based on word count). Please send only one story at a time. Simultaneous submissions are fine with us, just let us know if you are accepted for publication elsewhere.

To submit: Please send your short story attached as a word or rtf document to: [email protected] with the subject line HOZ Journal – Fiction. If possible, please include a short bio in the body of the email.

Poetry

HOZ are looking for works of speculative poetry that imagine the future of the world, the future of nature, technology, and/or the human being. Any form of poetry is welcomed. Like our call for fiction we are very interested in radical, feminist, LGBTQ2S, and/or experimental poetry. You may submit poems on any future related subject or theme but here are some of our favourite areas: transhumanism, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, new systems, resistance, activism, queer perspectives, feminist perspectives, nature.

We pay $25 per poem (CND)

To submit: Please send 1 to 3 poems attached in a word or rtf document to: [email protected] with the subject line HOZ Journal – Poetry. If possible, please include a short bio in the body of the email. 

The HOZ journal is published as a print and ebook, and journals may be bound together into semi-annual collections.

We ask for non-exclusive, worldwide, serial rights to your work for both electronic and print.

We do consider previously published work, provided you have the rights, but we do not consider reprints that are currently available for free online.

Via: House Of Zolo.

Epeolatry Book Review: Alien: The Cold Forge

Disclosure:

Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: Alien: The Cold Forge
Author: Alex White
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 24 April 2018
Synopsis: With the failure of Hadley’s Hope, Weyland-Yutani has suffered a devastating setback—the loss of the Aliens they aggressively sought to exploit. Yet there’s a reason the Company has risen to the top of the food chain. True to form, they have a redundancy already in place… the facility known as The Cold Forge.

Remote station RB-232 has become their greatest asset in weaponizing the Xenomorphs. However, when Dorian Sudler is sent to RB-232 to assess their progress, he discovers that there’s a spy aboard—someone who doesn’t necessarily act in the company’s best interest. For Dorian, this is the most unforgivable of sins. When found, the perpetrator will be eliminated with extreme prejudice. If unmasked, though, this person may be forced to destroy the entire station… and everyone on board. That is, if the Xenomorphs don’t do the job first…

Dorian Sudler knows he shouldn’t smoke.

When I was given this book to review, I got excited. It was the kind of excited that only horror fans could recognize. This wasn’t any run-of-the-mill space horror book; this was an expanded universe novel in THE space horror franchise: Alien. This is the franchise that has left an incontrovertible mark on popular culture since the 1979 release of the first film, not to mention the veritable scar that H. R. Geiger’s grotesque and unnerving alien designs has left on our collective psyche.

Alien: The Cold Forge by Alex White is not only rooted in this lore, it has expertly incubated inside the franchise itself, bursting through its chest as a dramatic, horrific, and harrowing narrative experience.

Firstly, readers who know of at least the first movie will get the most out of this book, however it is not exclusively limited to fans. White clearly has a deep well of knowledge of the lore and draws upon it extensively for his novel. Fans of Alien will be able to see each of the environments and objects—from the retro futuristic computers to the dirty, industrial space station—using only a few but choice words. The Xenomorphs and associated creatures appear in all their gruesome and suggestively phallic glory. Even people picking up an expanded universe book for the first time should be able to imagine the stage upon which all of this is playing.

However, more important than the physical is how the book feels psychologically. What makes an Alien type of narrative is something beyond a few hissy, dribbly, penis-monsters; what makes it is the predatory type of environment. The ultra-capitalist company Weyland-Yutani is the top of the food chain that is the world and everything beyond, and everyone is trying to find their place within that power structure. Lives are lost or ruined, trust is betrayed, and any humanity is abandoned all in pursuit of a profit.

This destruction, as expected, has something to do with the iconic Xenomorphs. The book does not deviate from the seeming obsession that Weyland-Yutani has with these aliens. It is still baffling when company executives, the people that have risen to the top of a world where one’s job longevity is always in question, greenlight alien related projects that continually result in slaughter and property destruction on a tremendous scale, all in the name of making a few bucks off. How this is supposed to happen is still vague. But perhaps it’s more than that; perhaps those in control of the company see a kindred spirit in the aliens, as one of the main characters eventually does. When the faeces rockets toward the fan with speed and inevitability regarding the Xenomorphs (that is not a spoiler at all, it is expected to happen in an Alien story), it strips away the suit-and-tie façade that people have put on and reveals that the world is inescapably nothing more than those that can survive and those that cannot; brutality is not only encouraged, it is rewarded. It can be refreshing when one’s allowed to be one’s true self.

Though White’s expertise at the rendering of the Alien franchise is not where this book shines its brightest. What makes The Cold Forge a stand-out work is its characters, their interactions, as well as their reactions to the growing madness around them. The “good news, bad news” situations occur at a break-neck speed, and the characters’ increasingly desperate and atrocious actions simply makes the reader more intrigued to know that happens next. This is embodied in the two protagonists.

What makes these two protagonists—Blue Marsalis, the genus geneticist with a death sentence from an incurable disease, and Dorian Sudler, the cutthroat and predatory company auditor—such great characters are that they are completely unlikable yet compelling at the same time. They fit perfectly within, and are a product of, the world around them. Even though Blue Marsalis’ medical condition, which has given her a pronouncement of doom, should make the reader sympathetic with her, she reacts to her condition in such a way that turns her into more of a monster than the Xenomorphs. But, here’s the important part, the reader is still able to empathize with her. Even if we don’t agree with her actions, we can see why.

Dorian Sudler is the worst idea of an upwardly mobile company man, and an auditor at that. He has no sympathy towards those he audits and takes an almost sexual pleasure in destroying peoples’ lives. This is a person one would enjoy, and be justified in, punching in the mouth. And yet, he is interesting, and intelligent. His machinations are a main driving axle of the story, especially as his mental condition fails throughout the book and he becomes an increasingly unstable psychopath.             

When it comes down to it, each story in the Alien franchise is not about any chitinous monster, it’s about people. Alex White’s The Cold Forge shows in the most page-turning way that the cold void of space is not only incapable of supporting life, but a person’s humanity as well.

You can order ‘Alien: The Cold Forge’ on Amazon

Taking Submissions: Spooky Samhain 2019 Contest

Deadline: July 31st, 2019
Payment: Contributor’s copy with chances at a $25, $50, or $100 prize!

Do you have a scary story to share?  Fiction, fact, or otherwise, share your prose with us and you, too, can win up to $100* and get your story printed.  Enter your submission today!  Contest will be judged by a panel of impartial judges, all of whom have a vested interest in the unknown.  Scare us, terrify us, and thrill us!

 

Contest Rules:

  • Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please only send us one story at a time and if your story is accepted elsewhere please email us and let us know ASAP.
  • We are seeking original fiction only.  In other words, NO REPRINTS.
  • Many will enter, few will win.
  • Entrants cannot be related, legally or otherwise, to OPQ staff
  • Entries must be submitted via our Green Submissions Manager (located here ) by July 31st, 2019 to qualify.
  • Entries must match one of the following themes: ‘True Tales of Terror,’  or ‘Fantastic Frights’
  • No entry fee necessary!
  • Note: entries will be judged based on quality, thematic appropriateness, and writing chops.
  • Though we want to be scared, there are some things that are off-limits.  As with our normal morality policy, OPQ will automatically reject stories that involve pedophilia, excessive gore, violence for violence’s sake, and non-consensual sex.  As always, we would prefer stories that use religion and/or spirituality as an uplifting theme or a bridge towards a larger, thematic discussion, rather than being derogatory towards one specific religion.  That being said, we enjoy looking forward to what your twisted imaginations come up with!

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Taking Submissions: Harbinger Press Flash Fiction

Deadline: July 1st, 2019
Payment: $25

Harbinger Press will be accepting submissions for fantasy, sci-fi and horror flash fiction between May 1st and July 1st of 2019. Please read the open call guidelines below, and submit your manuscript to:[email protected] with the subject line “Re: Fall 2019 Flash Fiction”. We will be selecting 20 stories to be released from August-November 2019 on Flash Fiction Fridays.

Flash Fiction guidelines:

  1. Submissions should be no more than 1,000 words maximum.
  2. All themes are welcome but we do not accept purely erotic content for this call (romance themes are accepted).
  3. Any variety or combination of fantasy sci-fi or horror is welcome.
  4. Fiction taking place in established series worlds is acceptable, and can serve as an excellent marketing tool for your series, but submissions should be complete stories.

Payment for accepted fiction is $25. If accepted, Harbinger Press will hold the exclusive rights to the story for one (1) year from acceptance, after which you may publish or submit your story elsewhere with the understanding that it will remain published on the Harbinger Press website and in Harbinger Press flash fiction anthologies published during the exclusivity period indefinitely. Harbinger Press will proofread all accepted manuscripts, but stories should be thoroughly developed prior to submission for the greatest chances of acceptance.
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Trembling With Fear 06/09/2019

I have developed a twitch just below my eye, it manifested over the past week or so, and I have worked out it is linked to my current submissions status which seems to be set at ‘permanently waiting for an answer’. I have a fair few works out, and a number of those should be feeding back about now but so far the silence is deafening. It’s always that last bit of waiting that seems to stretch out longer than all the months leading up to it and is the hardest bit, for me to cope with. Or perhaps the twitch is the sign of something more sinister …

Part of me figured stress might be the underlying cause, the combination of real life work and writing life becoming a bit much so I allowed myself a little time off and spent last Friday binge-watching Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. It is terrific and I can’t recommend it highly enough (and yes I’ve got the book). Then I rewatched the original The Omen on Sunday. I haven’t seen it for a good thirty odd years – and writing that I now feel old so I’ll shut up.

This week’s stories in Trembling with Fear start with Find the World’s Center with Feelers by Donna J. W. Munro. This is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have read for some time. Her use of language is fantastic, the imagery startlingly apt for the atmosphere generated. Elegant and descriptive, the story feels almost gentle on that quiet night as the main character takes what turns out to be his last walk. This tranquillity is in contrast to the horror of what is to come, the sheer acceptance of it. And then at the end, the reader, is directly addressed, is warned ‘As she flows toward you, here and not here, fascinating and terrible, as her lips press the eternity of love and hate she holds for us all into your little, finite mind, you’ll burn away.’ A powerful sentence which does ‘burn’ itself into your mind. In truth, I could I have picked out many examples of the quality of the writing but I’ll just say go and read it for yourself. Powerful, emotive, and with gorgeous imagery, this may be a horror story, but it is also a poem.

Don’t Open the Door by Les Talma brings back, literally, a serial killer’s past when the dead rise, this is his day of reckoning. The idea of the killer being surrounded by his victims knocking at walls, windows and doors to get in immediately conveys an overwhelming sense of being trapped, of no way out. Simple but effective.

Playground by Patrick Wynn is a perfect description of a normal afternoon. Children are playing, parents are nearby and all is right with the world … until the last sentence which completely flips the reader’s perception as to what is going in. The art of the twist is alive and well.

Rainy Afternoon by Scarlet Berry written with a child’s voice is a recognizable story of sibling arguments, the viciousness bubbling below the surface, the dare … Then it finishes with a sense of underlying evil, the hint of worse to come, an ending which I love. Children behaving like this is a horrible thought, they should be sweet and innocent, not murderous.

Stephanie Ellis

Editor, Trembling With Fear

Still slammed at the day job. That being said, Steph and I (MOSTLY STEPH!) were able to finish up the print copies of the next Trembling With Fear anthologies! I’ve got proof copies on order, and while everything looks good online I’m just waiting for them to come in at this point before we can unleash them upon the world! 

*Insert evil laugh here.*

With my time being extremely limited, getting these out into the wild will clear up some of it so I can hopefully keep everything on the site flowing better (I’ve been sitting on a book review for nearly two weeks just from a lack of time of being able to schedule it!) 

On a side note, I also join Steph above in recommending ‘Good Omens.’ I was fortunate to get an advanced copy (my first early review from Amazon Studios!) to review and as I’m on my fifth copy of the book can attest that it lives up to the high quality of the novel. 

As always, we’re looking for more Unholy Trinities, serials, and anything else you’ve been writing as of late. I hope you all have a great weekend! 

Stuart Conover

Editor, Horror Tree

Find the World’s Center With Feelers

            It was evening. Just before the sky turns that deep grey of the dying day where the yellow moon shines pale and the stars begin to peek through the gathering of night’s darkness. I walked at this time every day. Nerves. A sour stomach and shaking fingers overcame the peace of ending every day, so my feet found the street. As I walked through my neighborhood, my heart lurching and nerves firing, my eyes took in every light, every movement, every threat.  Others walked from pool of light reflecting on the wet pavement, cast from the sheer lamp above to pool of light, steps slacking and shuffling in the cottony night’s humidity. They smiled with a sweetness, a calm that belied a lack of alarm. A lack of knowing.

            They didn’t worry like me.

            They didn’t shake in the corner of their room after every contact with another person.

            They didn’t lay awake all night, eyes wide with terror thinking about the next day.

            Why?

            Why didn’t they see how the world peeled back at every edge? Every corner.

            And what was underneath, breathed poison through the cracks and sipped in our scents. Eating the blind fools stumbling from trap to trap. Things with rows of teeth. Things with too many eyes. Things that moved in insectile jitters, cretinous shells scraping. How could the others not hear it?

            My walking made the monsters within lay down, rest in the shade of forest. Watching but not stalking.

            I turned and went into the park, hoping the stew of green might soothe my pain. The velvet of the breeze settled on my face and for a moment, I felt relief wash into my belly. For a moment, I believed I could make another day.

            Every night I made this turn to feel human again.

            Because no others took that turn. I stood beneath the sky, line of dark trees encircling me in the field like the walls of Jericho. Someday they’d fall. Someday everything fails. But for now, the monsters hadn’t found the note to shatter our defenses. Still they marched, taloned feet scraping, claws skittering across the wall looking for holds and cracks. How did the others not know?

            I lay in the center of the field, staring up at the stars.

            The eyes of the beasts stared back. Searching.

            Behind me, shuffling steps, light as a flower’s kiss. My stomach’s calm turned as I did into a swirling, clenching fist.

            There, at the edge of the trees, a lovely woman smiled a Mona Lisa question. Brown hair tumbled with a shimmer of moon on moving water. She stood, though she was never still. Hair fluttering, body rocking side to side like a hooded serpent. Beautiful in a way that shattered my peace. And her eyes.

            They locked on me. Black orbs set in tan skin, shining with tears. Black as the vault of the sky between stars. Spider eyes.

            I moaned then, from some place in me so old and deep, I didn’t recognize it as myself until my chest rattled in time.

            The breeze stopped and shifted then, cool to hot as a summer storm, wet and full of promises. She took a step toward me.

            The movement halted in a way that made little sense. As if her two beautiful legs didn’t move at all, but some other legs I didn’t see shuffled her forward— a hunching gate, hard as a horse’s trot. Like there were six or eight legs carrying her along.

            My moan turned to a scream then. I didn’t want to. Didn’t want to attract her more than I had. Didn’t want my fear to spill out in the gasping, raving cry that filled the meadow and bounced off the trees.

            She stopped for a moment, tilting her head. Her beautiful face took on the mocking expression of care a mother might cast at a fallen child. Mocking because something like her couldn’t care. Something so not human.

            Her steps, now audible with clicks of joints made of something other than skin and bone, resumed and she drew nearer. Such a beautiful false face, smiling beatifically down at me, hands spread and arms out in a gesture of welcome. She looked so human. So perfectly lovely but for the eyes, how she moved, and now I could see, the horns that sprouted from her clavicles. Horn not like something on a deer or rhino, that might have comforted me. These were the horns you see on scarabs. Stylized hands feeling the world. Antennae reaching for information. For me.

            I couldn’t help but scream, all the fear pouring from my mouth, all the horror I’d ever known.

            She kept coming, because why would a scream stop her?

            She settled in the grass in front of me, a flowing movement that folded her legs neatly in a triangle under her, though she floated above the ground.

            Her arms came up around me and enfolded me in their softness, hands gentling me as they fluttered across my cheeks.

            “Quiet, little one,” she said, though her mouth didn’t move. The smile locked her lips into a pleasant fiction. The antennae moved and turned toward me.

            I felt like she could see through me, light falling on every cell, though the light’s warmth didn’t brighten my eyes. I felt it inside. And the minute the gaze of those horns perched on her chest shifted, my stomach calmed. The fear didn’t settle or dissipate. It ceased to be. In that moment, staring in the black of her predator eyes, I was lost.

            “My queen.” Words without thought. Words older than the ring of trees. Maybe older than the stars.

            They’d found a crack and sent in the mother of them all.

            In her black eyes, I knew we’d named her.

            Mother of Demons. Lilith.

            Only now, with her locked on my soul, hands gentling me and rewriting my knowing, I saw that she wasn’t Lilith at all. What she was couldn’t be known completely here. Only pieces of her glory might be seen in this limited light, this limited sight.

            I sighed with my cheek in her hands, ready for destruction.

            “I am yours,” I said to her, lost in the ancient gaze. Lost in the clutch of her beautiful claws.

            “Ah little one, you will be my favorite toy,” she said. Then her lips, frozen things on her masterpiece of a mask found me.

            What you see is only defined by the three dimensions of our eyes. But what you feel expands.

            In that touch, I knew her.

            I knew her and all my fears burned away.

            Burned away because knowing hell is accepting it.

            She ate my innocence, my shelter, in that kiss and opened me to the universe.

            And now, I am to do the same for you.

            Do you feel her approach in your guts? Soon you’ll hear the clicking of her dainty claws coming for you. The others hum from the void, a swan song for their queen. A song that sinks your feet into the earth as she presses through. Coming for you washed in beauty that cuts. In her black eyes shines the heaviness of history that brings you to your knees, screaming. Screams are her feast. As she flows toward you, here and not here, fascinating and terrible, as her lips press the eternity of love and hate she holds for us all into your little, finite mind, you’ll burn away. Those feelers will gather your pieces up and you’ll know.

            She’ll eat us all and rip open the sky.

            I’m not afraid. Soon you won’t be either.

Donna J. W. Munro

Donna J. W. Munro has spent the last nineteen years teaching high school social studies. Her students inspire her every day. An alumni of the Seton Hill Writing Popular Fiction program, she published pieces in Every Day Fiction, Syntax and Salt, Dark Matter Journal, the Haunted Traveler, Flash Fiction Magazine, Astounding Outpost, Door=Jar, Spectators and Spooks Magazine, Nothing’s Sacred Magazine IV and V, Hazard Yet Forward (2012), Enter the Apocalypse (2017), Killing It Softly 2 (2017), Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths II (2018), Terror Politico (2019), and several Thirteen O’Clock Press anthologies. Contact her at https://www.donnajwmunro.com

Don’t Open The Door

There was a knock at the door. 

It was a little girl.

Weird. How’d she get out there?

Wait, dirt on her dress, the deteriorated pallor of her face, the hollow stare…was she fresh from the grave? Or just lost in the woods?

No, he recognized her, he’d just buried her yesterday.

She sensed him behind the door, and started to claw, then pound it down like a maniac. 

He backed away. But now there were knocks at the windows, the walls and the basement door. He had been busy, and now they were all coming back to get him.

Les Talma

Les Talma lives in NY. He’s drawn to quiet places, works in a library, and once did some of his best writing in a Dunkin’ Donuts at 2 am in NJ. Now he looks for similar quiet and productive places.

He also likes: horror movies, amusingly strange TV shows, comic books, fairy tales that are dark and delicious.

He scribbles things in notebooks, sometimes they end up as finished works.

He’s working on finishing a lot of things right now.

https://lestalma.wordpress.com/

Playground

Sitting on the bench Lowell watched as the kids ran, screamed and laughed their way around the playground. Seeing the kids run and jump chasing each other brought back memories of his youth and it always brought a smile to his face. The boys pushed and shoved taking turns fighting for who would be first down the slide. Girls gathered around the swings giggling and laughing as they took polite turns on who was pushing and who was swinging. Lowell loved the playground and with the moms’ attention on their phones, it was the perfect place to pick out dinner.

Patrick Wynn

Patrick J Wynn is an author of short stories that contain shades of horror, humor and are just a touch weird. You can follow him on his Facebook page and look for his short story collections on Amazon.

Rainy Afternoon

            It was a rainy afternoon.  I was bored.  I sat on the couch, watching my sister sew.

 

            “That blouse is uglier than you,” I said.

 

            “If you don’t stop teasing me, I’ll stick this pin in your forehead!” yelled my sister.

 

            “Go ahead and try!” I taunted.  “You’d probably miss!”

 

            She lunged at me with the pin, aiming for my forehead and stuck it in.

 

            At first, we were astonished that she did it.  Then she started laughing.  “Go look in the mirror!  You look so funny!”

 

            I did and I laughed too.  “Now let’s try it with the scissors!”

Scarlet Berry

Scarlet Berry is a Yooper. She’s been married forty years to the same man and they raised four children together. She is a mystery wrapped up in a conundrum, and loves to laugh; both evilly and happily.

Taking Submissions: Once Upon A Hallowed Eve: An Anthology of Romantic Ghost Stories

Deadline: January 1st, 2020
Payment: $75 paid upon publication + 2 paperback copies + 25 electronic copies for distribution to readers/giveaways

Word count: 7K-15K
Submission Window: June 1, 2019 – January 1, 2020
Payment: $75 paid upon publication + 2 paperback copies + 25 electronic copies for distribution to readers/giveaways
Anthology Release Date: 10.27.2020. 
Prompt and Theme: The end of October marks the final shift into darkness, also known as the liminal time of Samhain. During this period of time, the veil between our physical world and the spiritual world comes down, allowing more communication with the citizens of the Otherworld than at any other time of the year.

Originally, Samhain marked the beginning of Winter in Gaelic Ireland. It was believed that the Lord of the Underworld walked the earth during Samhain, along with all his cohorts: ghosts, spirits, fairies, and many other creatures. How can you use this pagan holiday in your character’s lives? How can you bring a phantom into your story? Will the phantom be the lover come back from the dead? A new lover? Will your hero and heroine battle wraiths in the night? Will your characters face a seance? There’s a wide berth here. Have fun. Again, setting and tone are highly important. Samhain or one of its variants must be involved.

For more information on Samhain and its respective variations, check out this article.

Things to note:

    • We love diversity in all its forms. 
    • We love strong women with agency.
    • We enjoy historical, contemporary, and even futuristic tales. 
    • We appreciate lyrical prose and elevated storytelling, along with high-concept themes.
    • We most definitely want a good romance, which means a Happily Ever After or a Happy for Now ending.
      • We are NOT looking for erotica or horror. 
    • Editors may request revisions.
  • If you’re wondering what kinds of stories we’re looking for, we advise you to take a look at 2018’s anthology, Once Upon the Longest Night, which released on the winter solstice, 12.21.18. 

Guidelines:

    • The work submitted must not have appeared in print or online anywhere before. We do not accept reprints, multiple submissions, or simultaneous submissions.
    • We do not accept fanfic.
    • All submissions must be in English.
    • Follow industry standard format, minus identifying information. We prefer Times New Roman, 12-pt font, double spaced. Use italics for emphasis, smart/curly quotes, and em dashes, not double hyphens.
  • Your story should be in DOC or DOCX format.
  • Your work will be instantly rejected if it does not meet our word-count length, does not contain a thread of romance, or does not meet the above guidelines.
Response: Final decisions for our longlist will be made by February 1, 2020.
Remove any identifying information from your submission/header, please, but do include a cover letter.
Thanks and Good Luck!
Once Upon Anthologies Admin

Title: CLOSED TO SUBMISSIONS. Once Upon An Enchanted Forest: An Anthology of Romantic Witchcraft Stories

Word count: 7K-15K
Submission Window: February 5 – May 15
Payment: $75 paid upon publication + 2 paperback copies + 25 electronic copies for distribution to readers/giveaways
Anthology Release Date: 9.24.2019. 
**You can also submit to us at [email protected] until midnight CST, 5/15/19.
Prompt and Theme: The autumnal equinox marks the shift into darkness which completes on Samhain. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead. This is a time of Thanksgiving and kinship. However, in our stories, we also want to consider the theme of The Enchanted Forest. How can you place romance, sorcery, witchcraft, an enchanted wood, cottage, village, or castle into this theme? How can you play up the impending knowledge that everything is changing from light to dark? How can you take your characters from a time of celebration into a world of romance, magical intrigue, and sorcery?

What would lurk in your enchanted forest?

The autumnal equinox, magical/witchcraft elements, and romance must be included in some manner, but remember that you have a ton of material to pull from. From the Celtic Connection: Druids call this time of year Mabon, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest. Various other names for this Wiccan Sabbat are The Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega, Italian), Alben Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia. The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans from the Sabbat to Oct. 15th, or Winter’s Night, known as the Norse New Year. (“Information Categories.” What Is Wicca?, wicca.com/celtic/akasha/mabon.htm.)

For modern stories, the autumnal equinox is still celebrated across the world. Every culture recognizes or has recognized this turning of the season, so do a little research. So many ideas await! 
Things to note: 
    • We love diversity in all its forms. 
    • We love strong women with agency.
    • We enjoy historical, contemporary, and even futuristic tales. 
    • We most definitely want a good romance, which means a Happily Ever After or a Happy for Now ending.
      • We are not looking for erotica or horror. 
    • Editors may request revisions.
  • If you’re wondering what kinds of stories we’re looking for, we advise you to take a look at 2018’s anthology, Once Upon the Longest Night, which released on the winter solstice, 12.21.18. 
Formatting and Other Guidelines:
    • The work submitted must not have appeared in print or online anywhere before. We do not accept reprints, multiple submissions, or simultaneous submissions.
    • We do not accept fanfic.
    • All submissions must be in English.
    • Follow industry standard format, minus identifying information. We prefer Times New Roman, 12-pt font, double spaced. Use italics for emphasis, smart/curly quotes, and em dashes, not double hyphens.
  • Your story should be in DOC or DOCX format.
Response: Final decisions for our longlist will be made by June 1st. Final author list by June 19, 2019.
Remove any identifying information from your submission/header, please.
Thanks and Good Luck!

Via: Once Upon Anthologies.

Unholy Trinity: Call The Exterminator

Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.

One Fearless Night

The camping-trip honeymoon had been Agnes’ idea, to help Kyle confront his unmanly phobia of insects. First, her smiling, nude form had helped ease his terror of chirping crickets. Second, the brief shock of a tick-sighting had proved to be a harmless skin mole. Third, after making love to the pitter-patter of raindrops on their tent, he had drifted blissfully to sleep beneath loving caresses employing insect repellent lotion.

When Kyle awoke the next morning, he rolled over to kiss Agnes, only to discover her eyes and tongue bulging and blood-swollen ticks blanketing every inch of her clammy, white skin.

Dreams of Revenge

Months after his wife’s grisly death in the woods, Kyle still suffered from horrific nightmares.  The theme was always the same: ubiquitous, invasive ticks. Every time he pulled off his socks or lifted his chin to shave: ticks.  Every time he brushed his teeth or sat on the toilet: more ticks.  He typically awoke to the pounding of his heart and an echoing whisper: “Revenge! Revenge!”

Hypnotherapy and anti-anxiety medications helped only slightly. Ultimately, it was the haunting whisper, which finally began to give him peace. “Revenge!” he agreed, squashing a bug. “Revenge,” he agreed, setting fire to the forest.

A Job with No Boss

Employing ex-cons was risky, but subsidized.

The exterminator twisted open the jar on his desk, extracted a wiggling cockroach, and held it near the job applicant’s face. “Do insects bother you?” he tested.

Kyle squished the pest in his fist and then wiped the jelly on his pants. “Ticks killed my wife,” he growled. “I hate insects.”

Marty smiled uncomfortably. Seeking to recover high status, he pointed out that ticks, like spiders, are “arachnids”, not insects.

Picking up the glass jar, Kyle smashed it into Marty’s face and then ground the shards into the exterminator’s arteries.

“Die, insect,” he said.    

Shawn Klimek

Shawn M. Klimek’s microfiction can be found in anthologies and online by the score, including Black Hare Press’ “Dark Drabbles” anthologies (blackharepress.com/publications/ ), Blood Song Books’ “Tiny Tales” anthologies: (bloodsongbooks.com/publications/), CafeLit, (CafeLit), and more. Find him on Amazon, Facebook @shawnklimekauthor or a complete index of his published works at jotinthedark.blogspot.com.

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