Deadline: March 1st, 2018
Payment: ½ cent per word for original works, $10 for reprints, and a contributor’s copy
Note: Reprints Allowed
Edited by Howard Rachen
Deadline: March 1st, 2018
The curse is as old as folklore itself. They are the malediction of gods and witches, protections of the pharoh’s tombs, the warnings for would-be thieves. Before the days of Hollywood, the werewolf was the victim of a curse. Today they linger with sports teams and in the theatre.
Armoured Fox Press is looking for all manner of horror stories related to curses. Bloodlines with a black mark, tainted objects, locations under a hex, and anything else cleverly twisted into a curse. Be creative, don’t just send us yet another unlucky penny, but something new that makes us hesitate to step on a crack or ignore that warning.
We will NOT accept:
Racism, sexism, or discrimination presented in a positive light.
Pedophilia or sex with characters under the age of 18.
Rape, torture, dubious consent, forced seduction.
If you are in doubt, ASK. Better to ask then to get a straight up rejection!
And remember, this is a non-erotic anthology, so please, no sex on screen. (this line can be changed)
Furry (as this is not a furry anthology)
Length: Max 7,500 words. .
Payment: ½ cent per word for original works, $10 for reprints. Authors will receive a contributor copy.
No simultaneous submissions please (Don’t also send your story elsewhere at the same time), and no more than one submission.
Original stories and reprints welcome. (see Payment)
We purchase exclusive publication rights in print and electronic formats for the period of one year from date of publication for the stories and non-exclusive rights in perpetuity thereafter. Submissions must not contain any copyrighted characters which the author does not hold the copyright on. Reprints will not be subject to this. Please state when you submit if the story is a reprint or not. Having the story posted online counts as ‘published’ and will be treated as a reprint.
Response time: Please expect responses within six weeks of the deadline, but please do not query until eight weeks have passed at the request of the editor.
Featuring reprinted stories by Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, and more, and edited by Oz Horror Con’s Steve Dillon, “Behind the Mask – Tales from the Id” is the third anthology in our ‘Things in the Well’ series. The first was published in May 2017, titled “Between the Tracks – Tales from the Ghost Train” and the second, published in October 2017 was “Below the Stairs – Tales from the Cellar.” Both anthologies featured reprints of stories by Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell along with other greats such as Charles Dickens, H.P. Lovecraft, M.R. James an more. Alongside these classic tales of terror, we aim to highlight new works from contemporary established and emerging authors.
We’re now peeling back the masks to disclose more best-of-breed, memorable tales. We’re after new (no reprints) short, supernatural tales, psychological thrillers, or creature features involving masks of some sort. Physical, metaphorical or spiritual, so long as the theme of masks is clearly central to your tale. Word count is expected to be in the region of 6,000 – 10,000 words. We’re paying a flat rate of $50 (AUD) for this anthology. You will retain rights. More details on request*.
Featuring Clive Barker’s ‘Sex, Death and Starshine.’
In each of the anthologies, we hope to bring you archetypal stories that best represent the theme. Clive Barker’s ‘The Midnight Meat Train’ and ‘Hell’s Event’ were featured in the first two anthologies.
Also featuring Ramsey Campbell’s ‘The Other Side.’
We’ve also featured tales by Ramsey Campbell in both anthologies. Ramsey Campbell is the undisputed grandmaster of paranoiac, creepy tales of insidious terror. He has won many major awards and received numerous accolades over five decades, and we are delighted to present another archetypal story by Ramsey Campbell, appropriate to the theme of masks, ‘The Other Side.’
*Email: [email protected] with questions or your submission, and please use standard formatting, single-spaced, no tabs, single-lined with “double quotes” for speech and *** for section separators. Apart from that, keep the formatting simple and we’ll take care of the rest if selected (Please use italics for emphasis, NOT underline.)
The Deadline is November 30th, 2017 with an expected publication date of January/February 2018. Please only send single submissions, and no reprints. For more details, go to www.ThingsInTheWell.webs.com
One thing I’ve noticed about those who submit to TWF is the accepting nature of our comments if we ask for some rework and their sheer determination to try and get it right for both themselves and us. Resilience is a remarkable thing and I’ve certainly noticed it in TWF writers to the extent that these same writers submit new pieces which then, quite often, need no revision at all. The instances of being able to read a piece, mark it as ‘accept’ before passing to Stuart without any need for further comment from myself, have become more and more frequent. This is a wonderful development and just shows how you have become masters of your craft.
Editor, Trembling With Fear
Well folks, it’s our first annual Halloween edition of Trembling With Fear! We’ve packed in a pile of bonus stories to celebrate everyone’s favorite holiday and hope you enjoy them! Please be sure to comment, spread the word, and submit your own holiday stories for the Christmas Edition before November comes to a close!
‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.
Editor, Horror Tree
Our One Night a Year
I couldn’t tell if Rhea was still mad at me for scaring away her crush. She hadn’t spoken until we got home. Then, as were about to start up the steps to the front door, she grabbed my arm and suggested we detour to the backyard to play one of our old games. So, high on Twix bars and Tootsie Rolls, Rhea and I did the ‘tornado’ ‘til we were warm again, twirling in our Halloween costumes under the arm of the giant maple in our yard. She was a yellow Crayola crayon and I was the same thing I’d been the previous three years: black jeans, black long-sleeved turtleneck, blue spray-in hair, and a featureless white mask. I called it a “freak,” and I was quite the treat. After 10 seconds of whirling like spin-tops, we threw our bodies to the grass. We closed our eyes and let the world swim around us. After a minute, Rhea stood up and attempted to walk. She stumbled here and there, a drunk crayon colouring the yard.
“Whoa, mama,” she said. She tossed her black hair out of her face, then tucked it into the little hole below the crayon’s tip where her pink face peeked out. “So dizzy. Going to hurl.”
“Gross,” I replied from the ground.
A cold wind stirred around us. The arms of the maple loosened their remaining leaves with a bone-rattle shake, sending dark shapes dancing into a bruised sky. I reached for the candy bag at the base of the tree trunk. It was a dirty old pillowcase, off white and pregnant. I sat up cross-legged, spilling a few bags of Ruffles as I dragged the sack into my lap.
“Looks like you lucked out this year.” I tossed a shiny chip bag at Rhea, hitting her mid-crayon.
“Hey!” She bent over to pick it up. “Ooo—Ruffles!” She crayon-waddled over and handed me the tiny bag so I could open it for her.
“Don’t know how you like these things,” I said, handing her back the chips. “They’re stale before they leave the store, ya know.”
“It changes the taste. They’re just … better.” Rhea sat beside me and turned her pillow case upside down, spilling its contents onto the darkening grass. Her hands spread the goods thin, fingers smoothing a giant heap of rocket rolls, fizz strips, gumballs. She sorted the candy into small piles: chocolates, gums, caramels, sugar candies; then into sub-piles: bite-sized bars, full-sized, Nestlé brand, Cadbury. Her hands moved with the sure speed of a veteran trick-or-treater, tossing aside the odd can of club soda as they went.
“Listen, Rhea. About Jordy.” My voice sounded muted, as if underwater, from behind my mask.
“I know. It’s not your fault…Well, it is, but it doesn’t matter.”
“I was only doing what any brother would have done.”
“I know. Really. It’s fine.”
I waited for her to burst into an angry assault, and when she didn’t, I raised my head. “Yeah? You mean it?”
Rhea looked up from her work. “Braxton, it’s O.K. Besides, I don’t even really like him anymore.”
Though she couldn’t see it, my face had lifted in surprise. I couldn’t believe Rhea would give up that quickly on a boy, not after having allocated a dime a week of her allowance for the past two years to the bottom of the town fountain, in a wishful toss to secure a boyfriend. For an 11-year-old, she was abnormally invested in romance.
“I saw him pick his nose at Mrs. Rady’s,” she confessed. “He’s ultra-gross now.”
“He did it when she made us sign her stupid guestbook before she gave us candy,” Rhea said. “While Sarah Taylor was signing, Jordy took off one of his claws and stuck his finger in the nose hole of his wolf mask. It was big-time disgusting.”
I chuckled. “What did he do with it?”
“What—the snot?” she said.
“No…the wolf claw.” I grinned under my mask.
Rhea rolled her eyes and flicked my forearm. “I dunno. Ate it?”
I laughed at that, and then she laughed, and then I was coughing, deep and watery. Rhea looked at me and fell quiet. She drew her knees up to her body and wrapped her arms around them. The breeze came at us again, colder this time. I shivered in my damp clothes.
“How come you scared Jordy by showing him your face, but you won’t show me?” she said.
“How come?” She tore her eyes from me and went back to fidgeting with her candy.
I listened under the wind, hoping I wouldn’t hear our parent’s Volkswagen pulling into the driveway around front. We never had enough time. “He was calling you names. That’s why. I don’t know if addressing you as ‘Crayon Crud’ means he likes you, but he was being a bully.” I reached over and touched her legging-covered knee. “So I bullied back.”
And did I ever.
I had Jordy by the fuzzy chest of his wool sweater. I’ll never forget the boy’s eyes. They doubled in size in his grease-painted face when I lifted the chin of my mask, exposing the water-logged flesh of my face. I hadn’t gotten it any higher than my mouth before he broke my hold and tore off down South Street. He howled like a wolf cub split from its pack, and his clip-on tail wagged below his butt as he ran.
Rhea looked at me. She sat in a line of warm light spilling over the hedges from the neighbour’s back porch. It carved half her face out from the darkness around us. She really was growing up.
“You’re leaking again,” she said.
I brought my hand up to my jawline.
“No, here.” Rhea raised the corner of her pillowcase and dabbed at the liquid escaping my mask at the chin. The fabric was soft, though I hardly felt it. She set the linen down and returned to sorting her candy. She got faster every year.
“Braxton?” she said, after a minute.
“How did it feel when you drowned?” Rhea turned her eyes on me. The darkening sky behind her had lost its purple hue. It was all black now. I buried my hands in the grass, wet around me.
I didn’t tell her about the panic, or my first desperate lungful of water. I didn’t tell her about the pressure—all that weight on my chest—or how the river grew darker as it took me under, and even darker as it carried me toward the dam. I didn’t even tell her about the warmth that somehow stole the cold from my body when I finally gave in.
I grabbed another bag of Ruffles.
“Maybe when you’ve outgrown trick-or-treating,” I said.
I smiled under my mask, and opened her a bag of chips.
I am an Ottawa, Canada-based writer and lover of all things horror and strange. My fiction has appeared in Deadman’s Tome and Polar Borealis magazines, and my first children’s book, The Vampire Who Had No Fangs, is available via Amazon.
The old ones broke open easiest. Their skin was but a thin membrane, nothing more. You needed only to dig your boot—or a sharp knife–into their puckered flesh and they would collapse upon themselves, disgorging their stewed guts onto the earth.
Their guts smelled most foul, suitable only for pig slop.
Zoraida was an expert in the preparation of pumpkins. She knew everything about them. She was famed for her stews. Her towering wedges of spiced pie delighted the children of Hampton. She painted empty pumpkins and sold them in the market. One could see her gaily-daubed gourds throughout the village all though the autumn.
Zoraida knew there were other things one could make from pumpkins, however. She was a most ingenious woman.
Zoraida tottered through the vine-choked pumpkin patch, her brittle limbs aching. She eventually came to an inflated pumpkin with a hide like a dried apricot. Tufted with white fur, she fancied it looked like a shrunken head. She would cook with it, she decided. It would delight her with its treacly over-sweetness. She would feast on stew for days.
But this was a big pumpkin. It could have many uses.
She kicked the pumpkin hard, smiled as it yielded to her piercing shoe. It buckled like a corpse. Its innards, liquefied by rot but still stringy as seaweed, oozed onto the ground.
She then took a rusted knife from her belt and plunged it into the pumpkin, hacking off misshapen hunks and collecting them in her hand.
Zoraida had not been to this pumpkin patch in many years, more than she could reckon. It was her favorite, for it marked the spot where imprudent old Goodman Bosworth had once tried to farm. He hadn’t heeded the warnings of the elders, the ones who knew that the Wessagusset had once interred their spirit-women here.
That had been his last mistake. He had been a most foolish sort of man.
Now, she had come to punish another man, equally unwise.
She chuckled to herself. Her laugh sounded like the shrill cry of a crow.
She returned her knife to her belt and began to form and knead the cold pumpkin slurry in her hand, idly giggling as she did so, exercising great care.
Eventually, she made for herself a globular, jolly-looking sculpture, a doll, mucoid as a newborn. She had limited gifts as a sculptor.
The keen-eyed observer would observe that this doll possessed a bulbous head, stumpy legs, and a big belly, full and swollen like a gravid crone’s. An inhabitant of Hampton might chortle and exclaim: “‘Tis Goodman Colby! Oh, Zoraida, you are most wicked to mock him so!” Perhaps this person would laugh and indulge Zoraida’s unkind wit.
Indeed, the poppet was an imperfect approximation of her neighbor, Goodman Colby, a reckless youth, given to sloth and—evidently—to stealing. Zoraida hoped very much that he had enjoyed feasting on her beloved he-goat, Buer, the beast of the fortunate conjunction, born when the darkling sigils burned brightest on the skin of the moon. She had doted upon him for many years, filling his barrel belly with rotten apples and sweet corn, stroking his long beard and caressing his spiraling horns. She had followed him as he revealed to her the secret paths in the deep woods.
Young Colby’s denials had been most unconvincing. Tears had spattered his cheeks like raindrops as he protested his innocence. Indeed, he was correct, animals often wandered into the woods and were never seen again. Indeed, the wolves had grown lean and hungry this year.
She had assured him he had nothing to fear. “I do not tarry in the wood any longer,” she had told him.
Zoraida was nearly as good a liar as she was a cook.
“You are a silly boy,” she tittered, her words scraping against each other like rusty nails. “You will pay a high price for the gristly meat of that poor beast.”
Zoraida’s smile fell away as she gingerly implanted a strand of Colby’s straw-colored hair into the poppet’s spheroid chest.
Silent now, her eyes hard and black, Zoraida dug deep in her apron for a pin. She found it among yellow knobs of ginger and sprigs of blackened wormwood and hag-tree fetishes. It was sharp yet. With a ferocious motion, she stabbed the knife into the unformed, notional man-shape in her outstretched hand. She sought the place where the man’s belly would be.
The poppet might have squirmed, thought that could have been nothing more than a trick of the gathering dusk. And it might have shrieked too, though that could have been nothing more than a distant crow.
One thing is certain, though: fluid, thick as old molasses but red when it should have been brown, dribbled from Zoraida’s hand and pooled at her feet.
And Zoraida, the hag of Hampton, laughed as she had not laughed in many years.
She then began to gather up chunks of pumpkin for her stew. Her work had made her hungry.
My fiction has appeared repeatedly in Separate Worlds, Bewildering Stories magazine, Quantum Fairy Tales, and Enchanted Conversation, an online fairy tale magazine. My first book, a collection of dark fantasy and Gothic horror novellas titled The Mark of the Shadow Grove, appeared in print in January of 2016. In addition, my fiction has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Body Parts Magazine, and WitchWorks Magazine. My short fiction has appeared in anthologies by Egaeus Press, Dragon’s Roost Press, and Hic Dragones.
span style=”font-weight: 400;”>THERE WERE THREE MORE HOUSES left before Frankie Kleetus felt ready to return to his home at the end of the block. So far, he had ventured down his main street, which was just north of his house and between homes that he was familiar with; those that were certain to give him a fair amount of candy and an even fairer amount of attention.
“Trick or treat.”
“Wow. Don’t you look…scary,” said the blonde-haired woman standing in the doorway.
She reached out and gave Frankie a handful of chocolate bars that she dropped into his opened bag. After five years of dressing in costumes and trying to be as scary as possible, Frankie wanted to do something different. Tonight, he decided to dress as a pig that had been slaughtered and to accomplish this, his mother bought him an old pig costume and some plastic knives that Frankie cut in half and pasted the handles onto his portly body. He painted red around the wounds and he did this until he believed he looked more grotesque and disgusting. Some people thought it was amusing while others saw it as ridiculous and weird. However, Frankie didn’t give much thought to the people who disliked his costume. He didn’t make it for them, he made it for himself, and so long as people shuddered or reacted to it in some way, then Frankie believed it was done well. He had lots of candy in his bag.
This year, he received more Halloween candy than he ever had before, and he believed it was a result of the houses he chose to visit. The one that Frankie wanted to visit next was the same one that he visited with his friends. An elderly woman resided there. She sat near the window and rarely came to the door, not even when Frankie and his friends threw eggs against the glass, and not even when they knocked on the door to irritate her. She was a quiet lady but she would shout and scream whenever Frankie and his friends trespassed onto her property. Some of Frankie’s friends would make jokes about how she was a witch or some other sinister hag that tried to cast spells on them. It was a sensible assumption. When she chased them, she would talk funny and make weird gestures with her hands. Yet, Frankie didn’t believe in witches, and neither did his friends, and if she did have candy, then Frankie would be sure to ask for it.
Frankie waited near the door but instead of being greeted by a person holding a bowl of candy, he was welcomed with a vacant, dark, and quiet hallway.
“Uhhh,” said Frankie,
There was no one nearby and not a single sign of candy anywhere and if he had to guess, he’d say that the door opening was nothing more than a simple accident.
He peeked his hand inside and tried to see into the home.
His voice echoed into the space before simmering and vanishing within.
Frankie was standing in the hall and surveying the space with his bag of candy and waiting for someone to answer his call. He checked the rooms to see if they were like those he had ventured to before, with a sofa or television, if there were tables and chairs, but the space he was walking into was too dark, and he could not see anything other than what was in front of him, a space illuminated by scarce amount of light.
Frankie proceeded into the house, passing by a table with a vase before he moved into the kitchen, one with a table and chairs. On the table was a tablecloth as red as the fake blood painted on Frankie’s costume, and in the center, was a bowl of candy that Frankie rushed towards the second he spotted it.
“Yesss,” he said. “More.”
He plunged the candy into his sack and packed it in for as long as he could but stopped when he heard the basement door creak open behind him. Frankie’s body became ridged and he could feel chills on his arms and shoulders. He didn’t bother to speak. He didn’t care if the old woman was home or not. She never did anything to him then, why would she do something to him now? He stood at the top of the stairs and looked down. His shoulders quivered and he could feel his heart beating. He listened closer, trying to hear where these noises were coming from and if they were really happening or just the result of his overly active imagination.
“Hee-hee-hee,” a voice chuckled from beyond the stairs.
Frankie heard it, but when he heard it the second time, he noticed a full-sized chocolate bar sitting on the stop of the stairs.
On Halloween, it was rare for houses to give full-sized chocolate bars, but if there ever was a house that did, kids would flock to it like vultures hovering over a rotting corpse. Frankie rushed to this candy and peeled off each wrapper and took in their scent. It was amazing. He had felt an impulse to gorge himself before but never like this. He felt as though the candy was calling to him, and as he shoved it into his mouth, he felt an instant craving for another as soon as he was done.
“Mmmm,” he said. “Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm.”
He swallowed the chocolate and licked his fingers.
“Heeee. Heeee. Heeee.”
The bickering persisted and Frankie crunched the wrapper and threw it down onto the floor. He stepped down the first stair and making his way into the basement. He flicked the light switch on the wall and waited for the lights to turn on, but none did. All he saw was a light flickering at the bottom of the stairs.
He moved towards it.
He didn’t think about the reasons why there was candy, or why the woman would place it at the base of the stairs. The light continued to flicker and yet Frankie couldn’t stop thinking about the candy. It was better than anything he had tasted before. Frankie swallowed what he was still chewing while, lurking in the shadows, he saw the elderly lady, sitting on a rocking chair, and grinning ghoulishly at Frankie as he approached her.
The old lady glared and Frankie backed away.
“Shhhh,” she said. “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid.”
Frankie was ready to run back up the steps and leave the house he knew he was trespassing upon.
“Don’t be afraid.”
The old lady raised her hand and smiled.
“I was down here when I heard you knock. I didn’t know that I left my door open. I just thought…maybe you would like to come in and take what you wanted yourself. After all…,” the lady lifted the blanket that was over her lap, “…I didn’t want to be the one to stop you.”
“Oh…,” said Frankie.
“Yes,” the old lady said with a sly grin, “do you want more?”
Frankie was nervous to answer. He thought the old woman would recognize him but then he remembered his costume. He wanted to get back home. He didn’t like it when he didn’t obey his parents. His mother would yell and send him to his room, but this was Halloween and there was candy, lots of candy, and he wanted all of it.
“Come on,” the elderly lady invited. “I know you want it. I know you want what I have.”
Frankie gulped and tried to stay away, but couldn’t help but feel entranced by this woman. And then, before Frankie moved to the door, he spotted another bowl of candy. It was filled with his favourites: Twix, Gummy Bears, and a bundle of black licorice. His hands were moist and his lips felt as though they hadn’t touched chocolate in hours and yet it had only been mere minutes since the last time he ate it.
The old lady grinned at him.
“Do you want some more?”
Frankie’s mouth was full as he waddled to the table and sat. He reached into the bowl and grabbed the candy.
“What’s your name?” the lady asked Frankie.
Frankie swallowed and started to unwrap more candy.
“Frankie,” he said, after he swallowed.
“Frankie,” she said, smiling. “I like that name. I’m Gretel.”
Frankie smiled back at her, but made sure to keep his distance.
“Good?” the woman asked.
“Mmm-hmmm,” Frankie mumbled. His mouth was exploding with chocolate and cookie crumbs. “Great.”
Gretel reached across the table and gently tapped the back of Frankie’s steady hands.
“I have more, if you want more?”
“No,” said Frankie, wiping his face. “I think I’m good.” He marched towards the door and grabbed his bag, which was resting on the floor.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. Thank you.”
“Wait,” said Gretel. She stood up from her chair. “You can stay and eat more. I have so much more candy, more than any house on the block. You can have all the candy you want if you stay. I’ll make sure of it.”
Frankie lowered the bag from his shoulder and stared. His stomach ached and he felt an upsurge of vomit crawling up his throat. His instincts were telling him that this was all he was capable of consuming. The longer he stared at the lady’s glistening green eyes, the emptier his stomach began to feel. He felt hungry and hypnotized by the woman’s candid, unrelenting insistence, and the moment she placed another bowl of candy onto the table, Frankie’s licked his lips and headed back to his chair.
“Okay,” he said. “Okay.” He ploughed his face full of chocolate and the lady watched him.
“Good?” she said.
Frankie was swallowing the last of his bar before he belched and wiped his face clean of the jelly that was accumulated around his lips. “Is this…jelly?” he asked.
“Yes. Why, does it not taste like it is?”
Frankie was looking down at the back of his wrist and saw three red streaks that he assumed were from the candy bar, but then which was which, he didn’t know. To his knowledge, there were no chocolate bars that contained jelly, let alone jelly so thick that it could stick to one’s face, and appear in chunky globs around the hands. “I don’t know of any candy bars that have jelly inside of them,” said Frankie.
“Well, does it taste bad?”
Frankie shook his head. “No.”
There were five wrappers on the table, all of them spaced apart and all made with the same silvery paper that appeared crinkled and covered by the shade of red that Frankie noticed from the beginning.
“More?” asked the woman.
Frankie looked down at the last two bars that he was holding in his hand. These were hard, so hard that they chipped a few of his teeth without realizing. They were like pebbles moving around his mouth and the reason why he could feel it was the same reason why he saw the red streaks at the back of his hand.
Frankie was quiet. The hard ingredients inside the candy were now under his tongue and against the muscles below. They were stiffer than he thought they would be. “What are these candies made of?”
“Same things that all candies are made,” the elderly lady said with a sly grin.
Frankie could hear her laughing but was focused on the plastic bag peeping from behind the door. He crept up to it and was immediately assaulted by the smells that were creeping through his nose and nestling in the back of his throat. The red stains on the plastic were familiar now, and as he spotted them, he drew his attention to his wrist. He could see the stains on his hands. It was the same as on the bag. It had a distinct and familiar smell.
“Hahahahaha!” He rubbed his hands and reached forward and touched the plastic. It was moist and there wasn’t anything that he could see inside, not until he yanked and dragged it from the room.
The old hag laughed.
Frankie pulled it again and, from within, several bloody bundles rolled along the floor and into the sides of his feet. They were red; soaked like sponges and yet each one appeared different than the other. Some thick, others were lighter, but all of them acquired the same pungent smell. Frankie removed his hand from his nose and kicked the bag. More pieces fell out but then there was one that was larger than the others, and when it rolled it made a tumbling sound that was like a boulder sliding along until it hit something. It hit his foot. Frankie thought it was a rubber ball because of how it rolled, but he knew later that it was no such thing, because when it stopped, it turned over and there were two eyes staring up at him.
The old hag’s cackle stopped and Frankie looked down at the severed head. It was then that it dawned on him; in his little premature, twelve-year-old mind, that in this bag was a body and those bloody stumps that hit him were all that was left of it.
He stopped and gawked.
“That candy was mighty tasty, wasn’t it?”
Frankie pressed his hand against his stomach and stumbled out of the room. He could feel something rumbling from within and the taste that he once equated with chocolate had now radically shifted and all he could taste now was blood.
The elderly lady stood and opened her hand. In it was a bag of dust that Frankie didn’t notice until now. She was carrying it with her as she crept forwards, her cackling carrying through the space, and her body shaking as she walked.
“Eat,” she said. “Makes everything better. My favourite spice,” she laughed. “My secret ingredient. Sprinkle it on and makes everything taste like chocolate. Hypnotizes the mind. Do you like it? Do you want to taste it some more?” She threw more at Frankie. “Here,” she said, “there’s plenty. Eat, fat boy! Eat!”
The dust spritzed Frankie’s face and he could feel it changing his senses. It was now making him nauseous and dizzy. His vision was blurry and his footsteps became unsteady. He could fall if he did not find a way to stay balanced. Whatever the old lady was tossing it was forcing Frankie to wobble as he attempted to escape. He clutched the walls and hunched over and as he tried to puke out whatever was inside him, the old lady continued to laugh until she came right up to where he was and touched him on the shoulder.
“I killed him,” she whispered into Frankie’s ear. “Your friends. I killed them. I chopped them into tiny pieces and wrapped them up. Did you hear me, boy? I chopped them up into tiny pieces and wrapped them all up!”
Frankie vomited and watched as the liquid formed into a puddle around him.
“I didn’t want to throw any of the pieces away,” said the woman. “I couldn’t, but I was willing to play tricks, and use some of my…” the old woman didn’t finish her thought, “maybe I could find someone to do it for me,” she said. “Maybe one of the many brats who steal from my garden, throws eggs at my house, and call me a witch, well maybe they could help. Maybe I could make them help me.”
The lady threw the dust down on his face and it trickled into Frankie’s nostrils as it did before. However, from this proximity, he could smell what he thought was a spice and it was similar to the smell of chocolate. It was what on the candy, which Frankie knew wasn’t candy now, and it was how this woman was able to disguise the pieces of one of Frankie’s friends. It was how she readied them for consumption.
It was how she made him eat it, how she made him eat him.
Frankie staggered up the stairs and into the door. He pushed it forward and raced down the path outside the porch, to the sidewalk. Although he was far, he could still hear the old woman laughing. He ran as quickly as he could while three more children walked up to the house. It took three rings before the door opened and once it did, the old lady answered; her face clean and carrying a fresh bowl of candy in her hands. “Trick or treat.”
My name is Jarrett Mazza and I am a graduate of Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. I have been published online in the GNU Journal, Bewildering Stories, Aphelion, and currently write for the website Sequart.
The Cold Uncertainty of Love or Real Love in a Cold Climate
I know they are talking about me again. Vicious whispers echoing along the tiled corridors. I ignore their gabble and instead carefully carry on rinsing and drying the dishes and jars. I bear the laughter as I wipe the surfaces dry, oblivious to the smirks and sly smiles. They prefer to ignore the customers at the tables to gossip about me.
I know what’s next of course. The false offer of friendship to go for a drink after work which they know I’ll decline. Now that the boss has sneaked off home early, it will be, ‘Oh Davy boy, just finish up will you, we need to get off. Yes, thanks bye. See you tomorrow’.
To be truthful I encourage it. I long for these quiet moments when I can clean up and set things right without the need to bear my co-workers.
I can freely chat with the customers before I finish my shift, delaying my dreary bus ride home to the flat where I am so alone.
I return to the main room and catch the eye of Sylvia. I overheard her name from Stan earlier when she arrived. She’d smiled at me as she came in and her eyes held me in their beautiful green gaze. She is absolutely stunning. I was surprised that she would even look at me but I sense an emotion in her, a connection. I smiled back but that fool Stan Dawson told me to get out as I was in his way. I was furious and embarrassed, but mollified when I saw that Sylvia understood and she gave me another wonderful smile of sympathy.
I carry on with my duties, trying hard to be professional. I’m above the sarcastic humour of those creatures who work with me. I respect our customers and try hard to maintain a high level of professional service. I care when nobody else does. Why can’t they see that?
My prediction comes true as all the others leave early to go for drinks leaving me alone to finish clearing up. The moment they leave I turn up the radio and change the channel to the classical station. I love the classics and I hear a buzz of agreement from the few customers still here.
I suddenly notice that Stan has spilt fluids all over a table occupied by a lovely elderly lady. She reminds me so much of my mother.
I dash over and wipe up the mess, apologizing profusely at the oversight of my colleague. She thanks me with genuine sincerity. This is what makes my life worth living. Those simple thank-yous.
I smile back and notice that the rather dignified middle-aged gentleman on table two is nodding his approval. I’m sure I hear him comment to Sylvia about my helpfulness. I can’t help sneaking another look at her again and see a sparkle of real interest in those eyes which shine from that white moon skin of her adorable face.
Totally out of the blue, she calls me over and thanks me for the care I take and for maintaining standards. We talk for an age, oblivious to the other customers and time itself. Decent people long to see the blossoming of love and I know their gracious hearts swell with pride at my achievement of having the courage to speak to this goddess.
An annoying thought reminds me I must clean the floor in the canteen and chapel. I make my excuses and dash to the store cupboard for my mop and bucket. It will take a full twenty minutes to wash the floors and put all the knives and instruments in the sterilizer. I quickly grab my sandwiches from the fridge as I’m famished. I work so hard that I sometimes forget to eat. After a few bites of sustenance I get on with my tasks, my hands on the mop but my mind and heart with Sylvia.
Finally, I’ve finished. I am free. As I re-enter the room of cold steel and white tile I hear the welcome from the customers. I apologize to them informing them that it is late and I must turn off the lights and lock up now. They fully understand and thank me as I place them on the trolleys and move them into the fridges, ensuring the temperature is healthy and comfortable four degrees centigrade.
I am shocked to notice that Stan has done a sloppy job of stitching up the elderly lady’s abdomen, and has even left the finger from a discarded rubber glove protruding through the stitching. Yet again am forced to apologize for the incompetence of my colleagues, who despite their doctorates and qualifications have the standards of the gutter. I unpick the stitching and gently tuck in the rubber finger, slightly uneasy about using her empty chest and abdominal cavity as a wastebasket for the detritus of the examination slab. I take great care in re-sealing her skin with precise stitches. Perfect. The lady giggles saying I tickled her, but thanks me all the same. I carefully zip up her bag and that of the distinguished gentleman as they indulge in a last bout of small talk. Then a final smile as I bid them goodnight and close the heavy fridge doors.
I now take Sylvia’s cold smooth hand and say adieu. She softly whispers sweet words to me and smiles. I almost cry I’m so happy at her request. I gently close her fridge door blowing a gentle kiss and turn off the mortuary lights.
No long sad journey home for me tonight. Not for me the loneliness of any empty flat. After I finish up, Sylvia has asked me round to her place this evening. Life is good.
Martin P. Fuller
Martin P. Fuller is just the west of 60 and trying to enjoy a semi-retirement from being a law enforcement officer for over thirty-four years. He works part time delivering cars for a rental company and endeavors to join as many writing classes as time and finances allow. He lives in a small terrace cottage in Menston, Yorkshire England.
It was because of these writing classes that he started gain the courage to submit his work for publishing. He prefers darker stories especially if he can affix a twist in story although he has dabbled in some comedy and poetry pieces.
So far, he has had work printed in self-produced anthologies from writing groups but hopes for a story to appear in October in an anthology published by comma press. He is hopeful that people will like the twists and turns of his dark mind. Either that or recommend serious therapists!
The Pumpkin Club
The kids ran around the street shouting, screaming, and singing. Harold Saggerbob smiled. He was in a good mood also. At Halloween, he always was. Another year, another chance to expand the pumpkin collection he had painstakingly built up over the years.
The doorbell rang. Harold put down the stained knife, and headed upstairs, whistling to himself. It was going to be a goodun this year, he thought. With a bit of luck, he might be able to fill the shelf above the workbench. That would make twenty; a nice round number, just like the pumpkins on the other shelves.
He answered the door to be confronted by Michael Myers, albeit a much smaller version, and accompanied by a very nasty looking witch.
“Trick or treat, trick or treat,” they sang in unison.
“Oh my!” he replied. “You two sure look scary young folks. I guess it’d better be a treat. Wait just a moment, I’ll be back,” he said and closed the door.
“Little shits. The hell they think they’re doing coming in pairs?” he grumbled, as he grabbed a handful of candy. Last year’s candy was for those that came in pairs or more, fresh-baked chocolate cake for those alone.
He toyed with the idea of throwing the door wide open and bawling at them, just as a joke for ruining his hopes of it being some young kid alone, then thought better of it. The night was still young, plenty of time for another hapless little shit to come knocking.
“Okay, here you go. Now don’t you come back and frighten me like that again,” he said, trying his hardest to force a smile, and disguise the look of hate in his eyes.
The two youngsters took the candy greedily, yet Harold noticed they looked at him rather suspiciously, their smiles fading rapidly and backing away as they filled their bags.
Harold closed the door and returned to the basement, his voluminous body-almost as many kilos overweight as his fifty-five years-bouncing up and down on each step. He looked at the latest addition to his collection, recently acquired that afternoon. He’d already removed the top, and was busy removing the insides-not a simple or particularly clean task. The juices were already running onto the floor, and he’d inadvertently covered his plastic apron in the thick goo that made up most of the contents.
“Never ceases to amaze me the amount of crap that fits into one of the things,” he mumbled, then chuckled as he turned it upside down to empty the last remnants, before working on the eyes. He wanted them to look particularly scary-it had after all cost him certain anguish obtaining this one; somebody had walked by just as he was claiming it for his own, and he had envisioned a heated discussion ensuing. Fortunately, the other person had ignored him, and left him with his new, grand prize.
Harold finally finished carving out new eyes, then looked at his creation. How to create the mouth? A nice, pretty smile, or a wicked, ghastly sneer? Or maybe a look of utter shock and horror? Would be fitting really, considering. He looked around the basement at the others. He’d painted many in almost war-like make-up, others he’d even put wigs on to heighten the effect, and the majority had small red or black candles sitting inside to give them a…cosier look as he liked to think. All good fun.
He decided on the shock effect. Taking the knife, and wiping it again (so much damn sticky shit), he began cutting out the mouth, when the doorbell rang again. Automatically, his heart began to thud a little harder and faster, while his intestines spun around inside. It was the anticipation which did it, of not knowing what to expect when he opened the door. Surprise and delight, or disappointment.
He took off his apron, put the knife in his back pocket, then headed back upstairs. Taking a deep breath, and wiping the sweat from his blotchy, round face, he opened the door.
“Trick or treat, trick or treat,” said a voice. A single voice.
Harold’s heart kicked into overdrive. The boy before him was alone. He quickly looked around to see if any friends might be hiding at the garden entrance, saw none, then faked his best smile.
“Oh my! What a scary little monster you are. You’re going to give me nightmares scaring me like that!” he chuckled, and patted his heart exaggerating a potential heart-attack. Which, he silently thought, may not be too far from becoming reality. The excitement was almost overwhelming.
The boy beamed behind his painted face, evidently delighted at the effect his mask was having. “Trick or treat,” he said again.
“Well, come on in! I’ve got just the thing for you. You deserve a special treat, young man. With that nasty-looking make-up you’re wearing, you’ve just saved me a lot of work!”
The boy hesitated a moment, then entered. The man looked harmless enough with his round, red face, and goofy grin. He followed him into the house.
“I keep all the best cakes in the basement, young man. Nice and fresh. Follow me.” He looked back at the boy. He appeared dubious, as though having some internal discussion with himself.
“I keep my pumpkin collection there as well. Unique in the world. I’ll show it to you also. You never know; I might even let you join the club!”
The boy seemed to think about it for a while, then shrugged his shoulders, and followed him down the stairs.
Harold waited until the boy had entered the basement, closed the door behind him, and locked it.
“So, do you like my little collection?”
The boy looked around the room, frowned, his jaw dropped, then he began to tremble.
“I don’t like this, sir. I want to go home,” he said in a very quiet voice.
“But what’s wrong? You don’t like my pumpkins? I think they’re very…cute. It’s taken me a long time to build the collection.”
“Please, sir. I don’t like it. Can I go now?” He turned to leave, but Harold was standing in front of the door; a great, towering obstacle that suddenly reminded him of some of the monsters he’d seen in movies, and comic books. Like the trolls from Lord of the Rings. His bottom lip began to quiver, and tears fell copiously from terrified eyes. Not wanting to, but for some reason unable to prevent it, as though he hadn’t believed his eyes the first time, he turned once more to look at the collection.
The walls were adorned with shelves, and upon them, sat row upon row of what Harold called his pumpkin collection. Children’s heads in multitude of expressions; some grinning, smiling; others with looks of horror, surprise, terror. Many with their faces painted, some wearing wigs to highlight the realism. The tops of their heads had been cut off, and the insides meticulously scooped out to be replace by candles, and their features delicately carved to create new eyes and mouths.
“You know, didn’t your mother ever tell you not to take candy from strangers? Even on Halloween?” he asked.
The boy didn’t answer. Instead, he tried to run past Harold, but Harold’s great bulk impeded him pass.
“Happy Halloween, young boy. I said I’d let you join the Pumpkin Club, and join it you will,” he said, as he produced the knife from his back pocket.
Justin Boote has lived for over twenty years in Barcelona, Spain, plying his trade as a stressed waiter in a busy restaurant. He has been writing horror stories for just over a year, and currently has 8 published in diverse magazines including for Lycan Valley Press, Deadlights Shotgun magazine, Zimbell House Publishing, Dark Dossier Magazine and The Horrorzine’s summer edition.
He is also a member of a private writer’s forum called The Write Practice where he has also acted as a judge on two ocassions for their contests.
You smile in anticipation. A knife’s hidden beneath your costume, you’re squeezing the handle ready to pounce when this year’s victim moves close enough.
There’s resistance as you first push against flesh, your razor-sharp blade slicing straight through their throat. They scream silently. You love the way blood splatters outwards releasing its tang — it’s what makes Halloween so special.
Licking away blood specks from your hand, you move round, gazing triumphantly into shocked eyes, before artfully carving shapes in skin, awaiting that final exhale as life slips away. They always seem taken aback to see the pumpkin wielding the knife
CR Smith is a student of Fine Art. She splits her time between art and writing and is aiming to combine the two at some stage. Her work has appeared both online and in print and she has a story in The Infernal Clock.
I write this across my cell walls in dirty, bloody graffiti. A diary entry. Mouth dry.
Junior high was rough, long ago. They teased, mistook a small body for weakness. Fools.
Remember the 80’s when kids trick-or-treated in their neighborhood? Without parents? A graveyard pack bound by sugary euphoria, the oldest no more than ten?
My first taste of blood.
I hid among the bushes behind a plastic mask, clutching my daddy’s straight razor. Laughing their way towards me, Miller and Lisowski. Sidewalk idiots. I hated them enough to smile.
Chad Vincent is a teacher in rural Missouri. He lives on a farm with his wife, 3 kids, 30 chickens, 6 guineas, 1 quail, 3 dogs, and 2 cats. His work can be found in Trembling With Fear and the anthology 9 Tales Told in the Dark #21.
Trick or Tarantula
Last Halloween, Dr. Mason distributed jarred tarantulas. Little children screamed and ran. But some older boys accepted the creatures with wide-eyed fascination.
“Feed them a mouse—once a week,” Mason instructed. “They’ll soon outgrow the jar.”
Spiders grew, in shoeboxes and terrariums, under heat lamps in closets. The most dedicated boys returned for further instruction:
“A pigeon—once a week—until he outgrows the tank.”
“A cat—once a week—until he outgrows the shed.”
Come spring, the doctor congratulated his new apprentice: “Excellent, Timmy. Release Fang in the woods. Once a week, he’ll treat himself to a scrumptious hiker.”
Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels such as Matt Palmer and the Komodo Uprising. His work has also been collected by Double Feature Magazine, Flame Tree Publishing, Parsec Ink, and more.
You can find more of his work at: <a href=”http://www.kevinfolliard.com/” target=”_blank”>http://www.kevinfolliard.com/</a>.
We are looking for works that are introducing a new world, whether it’s space exploration or being transported to an ethereal realm this theme of discovery underpins the ethos of the magazine.
We accept both short stories and poetry.
We are open to submissions of any length, works longer than short story length of approximately 7,500 words may be serialised across several issues.
There will be no submission or reading fee of any kind. Our mission is to find new and exciting voices in the genre, and we don’t want anyone to be put off submitting to us!
Note: We don’t accept reprints. New, original work only please!
We are open to simultaneous submissions, as this is expected in the current market. We do ask that you let us know if your work is published elsewhere after submitting to us, let’s not waste each others time!
We are open to submissions of artwork for use on the cover of the magazine.
Short Fiction – Payment is at a flat rate of £8 ($10 if payment in USD is required) per accepted work of Fiction or Poetry. Payment for serials will be made in line with the number of issues the work is produced in, with a payment of £8 for each.
Artwork – Artwork is paid at £5 for cover art.
Rights, the legal bit
We buy first worldwide rights for text and audio including electronic and print, and non-exclusive anthology rights for future anthologies or themed releases.
Additionally we require rights of exclusivity from the point to acceptance to six months after the published date of the magazine. Upon acceptance, you can request the planned publishing date for the issue, this date is not binding and the actual date of publishing will apply.
For Artwork, we retain worldwide and electronic complete, royalty-free non-exclusive rights for any use pertaining to Zealot Script and Emerging Worlds magazine, this includes promotional material.
Submission to the magazine indicates acceptance of the terms above.
Deadline: February 1, 2018
Payment: $25 for a digital run, with an option for print rights which would add another $25
Seeking erotic short stories with magical beasts and shapeshifter tropes. Although the title of the anthology is somewhat comedic–and levity is definitely welcome!–we’re not looking for parody or satire. Open to all mythical and magical creatures with sentience–centaurs, werewolves/human-animal shifters, intelligent dragons, merfolk, etc. Definitely open to unicorns, griffins, banshees, minotaurs, etc. so long as the spark of sentience is present. (There’s a fine line between bestiality and what we’re allowed to publish and sentience draws that line.)
As for what kinds of stories we’re looking for? We’re tired of the “same old” werewolf stories, but not tired of how magical beasts can represent sexuality and erotic need in fiction, especially marginalized sexuality and repressed needs. We’re tired of the “alpha meets fated mate” trope, but not tired of encounters with the magical being life-changing. We’re tired of the “(white) colonial explorer goes into wildest place and tames native beast” trope, too, but not tired of diverse characters and settings, especially when told by #ownvoices.
We’re always interested in characters and stories that include various marginalized sexual identities and practices including polyamory, kink, genderqueer and gender variant, BDSM, bisexuality/pansexuality, trans identities, as well as “regular ol’” gay or lesbian characters. (General note: We’re also all for asexual representation though we realize that may seem out of place to some for an erotica anthology. Please no stories where someone’s asexuality is “cured” — please yes to stories that include affirmations that asexuality is valid.)
Finally, although the anthology title is explicitly a riff on the universe of a certain famous boy wizard, stories do not have to be in any way related to or parodies of said universe. In fact it’s probably better not to tickle that sleeping dragon, unless you’re really really clever about it.
Length: Our preferred length is approximately 3,000 to 7,000 words, but we will consider the range from 2,000 to 8,000 words.
How to Submit: All submissions must be made via email to Cecilia Tan, editor, at the email address [email protected].
Submissions sent to other addresses/other editors at Circlet Press will not be considered.
Standard manuscript formatting rules apply even though sending as an attachment (MS Word .doc or .rtf preferred). Please note that this means your name, address, and email contact must appear on the manuscript itself and not simply in your email message. (If you’re not sure what standard short story submission format should look like, Google is your friend.)
No simultaneous submissions (that is, don’t also send your story elsewhere at the same time, and don’t send it to multiple Circlet editors, either), and no multiple submissions to the same book. One story per author per anthology.
All stories must include explicit sexuality and erotic focus. Romantic content is welcome, but in a short story remember to keep the details on the action and its effects on the main character’s internal point of view. We favor a strong, singular narrative voice (no “head hopping” or swapping between different character’s points of view within a scene). For more details on our editorial preferences, see the general submission guidelines on circlet.com. We highly recommend reading the guidelines, especially the “do not send” list, to increase your chances of sending us something we’ll love. Try to avoid cliches. Fresh and direct language is preferred to overly euphemistic. Sex-positive, please, no rape/nonconsensuality/necrophilia or other purposefully gross topics.
Originals only, no reprints. We purchase first rights for inclusion in the ebook anthology for $25, with the additional rights to a print edition later which would also be paid $25 if a print edition happens. Authors retain the rights to the individual stories; Circlet exercises rights to the anthology as a whole.
Deadline: November 30th, 2017
Payment: $250 for online selection, $1000 for print selection.
Note: make sure you read what they’re looking for, this isn’t going to be a place for overly extreme work
What We Publish
Short stories, novellas
Creative nonfiction; essays on literature, art, culture, and music; biography, memoir
No restrictions on style or form
Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry
Up to 4,000 words.
LitMag‘s Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction
First Prize: $3,500, publication, and agency review by Sobel Weber Associates (clients include: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Richard Russo, Laura Lee Smith). Enter now. Go to Submittable for full contest guidelines.
What We Look For
Work that moves and amazes us.
We are drawn to big minds, large hearts, sharp pens
Word Count Limits
Print: 15,000 words
Online: 4,000 words
What to Send
One story or essay at a time, up to five poems.
Please wait until you have heard back from us before submitting again.
We do not consider work that has previously been published either in print or online (including personal blogs etc.)
What We Pay
LitMag Print: Upon acceptance, we pay $1,000 for fiction or nonfiction; $250 for a poem (or the rare short short)
LitMag Online: Upon acceptance, we pay $250
What We Acquire
LitMag acquires First English-language print and electronic rights.
Copyright reverts to the author upon publication.
When to Submit
Fiction is open: 10/1/17 to 11/30/17; 2/1/18 to 7/31/18
Poetry is open: 9/1/17 to 11/30/17; 3/1/18 to 7/31/18
Nonfiction is open: 8/1/17 to 11/30/17; 1/1/18 to 5/31/18 LitMag Online is open: 9/1/17 to 11/30/17; 2/1/18 to 6/30/18
LitMag’s Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction. Deadline is 12/15/17
How to Submit Online. We use Submittable. (Saves trees, prevents paper cuts.) We do not consider emails with attachments or snail mail.
Please submit only once in each category and wait until you receive our response before submitting again.
Yes, of course. But please withdraw your submission immediately via Submittable if another publication beats us to your work.
We try to respond to submissions as quickly as possible and strive to send a decision within two months, but please understand that the volume of submissions may require us to take longer.
EconoClash Review(Quality Cheap Thrills) is a biannual print journal of Genre Fiction.
We accept only the best contemporary pulp submissions. Which includes quality Crime, Noir, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Weird, Humor and Other Words for Uplifting Gormandizers.
EconoClash Review believes in free speech and wants to provide our readers with a much needed escape into other worlds. We like stories about Weirdos, Criminals and Pregnant Prom Queens going to great lengths to destroy or keep the status quo. HOWEVER, we don’t want erotica, or pornography, or torture-porn-erotica between characters of any age, race, species both real or fictional. Nothing gratuitous. Avoid the tropes best you can. Just because we wantGENRE doesn’t mean we want STALE.
Above all else–EconoClash Review wants fictionfull of energy that feels real.
We encourage our writers to submit short fiction between 1,500 and 4,500 words.
That word limit is FIRM and STRICTLY ENFORCED. SUBMISSIONS ARE OPEN October 1st through December 1st, 2017. EconoClash Review claims the following publishing rights: First English Language Rights, English Language Periodical Rights, World Periodical Rights, and Electronic Distribution Rights. All Rights revert back to the writer six months after initial publication. Should EconoClash Review choose to create an anthology of previously published work, new rights will be negotiated. Bear in mind that most publications will not publish pieces that have been published in print, eBook, or on the web, so for all intents and purposes after your work is published by us it can only be marketed as a reprint, which severely limits the number of markets that will accept it, and drastically reduces the pay rate it can receive. It is up to you, the author, to decide if giving up your First Publishing Right for our token payment, is really what you want to do.
EconoClash Review will NOT CONSIDER simultaneous submissions nor will we look at multiple submissions. Send us only one quality pulp story at a time.
***Please wait six weeks after rejection notice before submitting more work***
EconoClash Review will not publish reprints unless requested by the editor. NO SERIALIZATIONS-NO POETRY-NO MICRO FLASH
In your email heading please include (Genre) submission_Title of Story_Your Last Name.
In the Body of the email please provide a brief cover letter and bio.
ARTWORK: we are accepting ORIGINAL submissions for interior artwork only. You must own all elements of your submitted image. Must be attached as a high resolution .jpg
We currently pay our contributors a TOKEN flat fee ten dollars per story/artwork* All Payments will be processed through PayPal.
*EconoClash Review is an Indie Genre Rag. Getting paid and paying more’s always gonna be the dream. If you’re a serious indie writer you’re most likely an indie reader. We’re not publishing Quality Cheap Thrills for something as common as money. No thank you. We want to publish something pure and high quality but also rattles your teeth. Think on this: H.P. Lovecraft made an average of five dollars a week being a ghost writer. Barely enough to cover his expenses and died in poverty. While Robert E. Howard was the highest paid person in his backwater Texas town. And they were getting published in the same magazines. Stephen King sold stories to nudie mags to pay his family’s bills. While Charles Bukowski sent out hundreds of stories and poems without carbons and without a return address. EconoClash Reviewpromises to fight the good fight as long as humanly possible…with times as hard as these we know the world could use some Quality Cheap Thrills.
EconoClash Review believes in Diversity. We do not judge our contributors work based on ANYTHING other than the work itself. If you’re quality junk is classy-trashy and sticks to the nitty-gritty then it will be recognized.
Deadline: December 31st, 2017
Payment: Contributor’s Copy
George A. Romero was an inspiration to many people, and the Godfather of the modern zombie sub-genre. As a tribute to him, and his work, we’re putting together a charity anthology, provisionally called WORDS OF THE DEAD, to honour the man who scared us witless when we were younger and inspired us when we got older. The guidelines are:
– We’re looking for zombie stories only.
– Stories must be either set within the films, or based on the canon he created. So, no runners, but remember that Romero used tool-wielding zombies in Night/Dawn/Day and Land, and the vampire/un-dead crossover in the comic series Empire of the Dead.
– One simple rule: as long as he used it, so can you. Show us something different from the films, or wow us with an original story set within one of the time frames or the modern day.
– Maximum word count of 6k; standard manuscript formatting.
– You’ll get a digital and physical contributor’s copy as a thank you.
– This will be published through EyeCue Productions, with Duncan P. Bradshaw, David Owain Hughes, and Jonathan Edward Ondrashek as editors.
– No reprints, please. We’re looking for new stories, keen for fresh bodies to feast on.
– ALL proceeds will be going to charity; we’re working towards getting that sorted at the moment.
– Rights are your own, but we respectfully ask for a six-month period of exclusivity to the anthology from the release date (to be determined).
‘Trembling With Fear’ Is Horror Tree’s weekly inclusion of shorts and drabbles submitted for your entertainment by our readers! As long as the submissions are coming in, we’ll be posting every Sunday for your enjoyment.
Editor, Horror Tree
The humid summer air weighs heavy with the sound of my name.
My kinfolk call for me as father’s coach winds through endless dark copses. Near, I swing behind draping curtains of moss. Oaks groan and bend o’re my body. Below, the brook gurgles.
The sweet voices draw near, but I cannot speak. Broken teeth splinter my lips and still my tongue.
A howl. A sorrowful call from one of the dogs unleashed into the woods echoes through the trees, but rain dampens the earth. The baying hounds can find no scent.
Swiftly, a man’s voice rises in melody, calling for me. My body stiffens. Thomas.
Thomas’s voice joins the wails of the hounds and cries of those who loved me, all of them drawing nearer and nearer.
Scalawag, I want to say. I want to tell them. I want to warn my sister, my pretty Dottie, who took a shine to my beau same as I when he came to town – a carpetbagger, true, but handsome and so charming that even father consented to his courtship of me. Dottie was hurt, but I was older, and father said there was time yet for her to meet a suitor… but now… now…
I want to scream. I cannot draw breath.
All I might do is sway…sway…
We all sway beneath the groaning bridge.
Dolls surround me. Once lavished with affection, their lips are frozen in an eternal yawn, parted and blue. Sparkling tokens adorn their fingers as their hands dangle limp by their sides. Cheeks sunken, bones pearly, skin weathered and worn, eyes fodder for the crows…
And I am now one of them. I am a part of the collection.
Tethered by ropes around our throats that silence our voices and still our limbs, we sway.
Wooden wheels clack. The voices are so near that I could extend a hand and touch one of the hounds as the creature bounds past, but I will never be found. The crows scatter, cawing and fleeing from beneath the bridge in a murder. Flesh clings to their beaks.
Dottie and Thomas call my name into the cavernous valley of foliage and dank mud below the bridge. The movement of my father’s carriage o’er the wooden planks rocks our bones.
Below, we marionettes dance on our strings.
Carolyn A. Drake
A Jersey Shore native, Carolyn A. Drake currently resides in Howell, New Jersey, where she works as a Promotional Review Editor for Bristol-Myers Squibb. In 2016, her first short work of fiction was published in the Three Rooms Press “Songs of my Selfie” anthology, and most recently, her work “The More Things Change” was accepted for publication in the “Utter Fabrication” anthology published by Mad Scientist Journal.
November eleventh was once Peppero Day: after the thin stick candies. There were a lot of days in celebration of candy or fast food or carbonated drinks, back when conglomerates dictated such arbitrary things. And didn’t the kids adore all those days filled with the sweetest of sweet things?
I should be grateful to them, given that it made the children easier to chase down, all jiggling bodies and softness.
I unshoulder my pack and unwrap a fleshy sliver like an ancient leather sole. It’s not great – lean meat makes the best jerky – but it keeps me going.
James Appleby is a struggling amateur author striving to become a struggling professional one. He writes horror and sci-fi, mainly, but will try his hand at anything. His work has appeared in anthologies by Dark Chapter Press, and Iron Press.
Far too late.
You can scrub all you like, drown it in bleach until the fumes get you, but it’s far too late.
That black, oozing patch, isn’t the mould growing.
Not for this species.
This is the decaying remains of its fruiting bodies; the spores long since expelled into the air.
You sent your kids away for the weekend to a friend’s house and moved you and hubby to sleep downstairs.
You called in a specialist to clear it out.
But it’s wasted effort.
You lean over it, with your face mask and Marigolds on, but you’re already coughing.
Sian Brighal currently lives and writes in Germany. Making use of her science degree and experiences as a trainee teacher she naturally went into flashfiction horror writing, where she has seen her stories feature in Paragraph Planet, Twisted Sister Lit Mag and Ellipsis Zine Lit Mag. Her interests include drawing, reading, baking and various other crafts.
I came to the darkest corner of the land looking for answers. The great well of knowledge, presided over by the shadowy beings, stands before me.
I ask for truth.
They respond in ephemeral voices that “Nothing in this life is free.” A translucent appendage reaches out and tears my eye from me. For a moment, I can see myself in the void as I writhe in agony. I am now allowed to imbibe the well’s secrets. I drink deeply, and hear their laughter at my irony. I have become the fool … some things are best left unknown by men.
B.B. Blazkowicz is a carbon-based human male from planet earth, just like all of you. He writes horror fiction for the entertainment of his fellow humans and has been previously published in Horror Tree, Horror Writers and Bloody Disgusting. He enjoys ingesting the native plants and animals through his mouth hole for nourishment. His hobbies include breathing and lying in the dark with his eyes closed for eight hours a day.
Ruschelle – James, nice to see you again. I’m not saying I was stalking you and taking photos of you while you were sleeping in those cute jammies or anything…I’m just…happy to chat with you.
James – Ah, those were the fuzzy looking ones with the claws? That’s actually the Goth cat Triana who likes to get on the bed at night. She really shouldn’t, but you know how it is.…
Ruschelle – Unfortunately, I do. I share my bed with 3 dogs….and a husband. I don’t know which is worse. But let’s get right into the thick of it. Speaking of stalking, not that I’ve ever done so…Have you ever stalked anyone to create a great story?
James – Not for fiction, but at one time I was city editor on a regional magazine, which involved interviewing local businessmen and politicians. This, sometimes, pretty much came to the same thing.
Ruschelle – So you have stalked for a story. Nice. You pen horror, science fiction and romance. Do you have any particular story that melds all those genres? If not, you should!
James – Yes, as a matter of fact. Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, just out this summer from Elder Signs Press, is a far future set novel-in-stories of (quoting from the back cover) “love and loss, death and resurrection… a beautifully written examination of the human condition of life, love, and death, through the prism of a dystopian apocalypse.” Beauty of writing, of course, will be in the eye of the reader–or at least the blurb writer–but love does play an important part throughout much of Tombs, as does horror as well, often paired hand in hand together.
Ruschelle – You are a very productive blogger. I’m envious! Other than promoting your own creations, which is something we all must do when we blog, what inspires your blog topics?
James – Usually just things that interest me. Promotion, to be sure, should be the biggest part, but if I see a film that I like I’ll often share that with an informal review, or if on the internet I run across an interesting article that might interest my readers as well, or maybe a list of books or films on a relevant topic, I’ll share that too with a link to the source. For instance, on the science fiction side I had several pieces on the demise of the Cassini space probe, by plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere, and even more recently, on October 4, two links to articles on the launch 60 years ago of the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik 1. Also (though this is promotion as well) I’ll occasionally post what I call “lagniappes,” free samples through a link or, if short, a direct quote of stories or poems I’ve written.
Ruschelle – Your book, The Tears of Isis, was nominated for a Stoker award for ‘Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.’ That is an awesome accolade for a horror writer. What was the inspiration for The Tears of Isis?
James – I was actually invited to submit a collection by Max Booth III for his then newly-established Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. We’d worked together before, on an anthology he’d edited for another publisher, so he knew something of me and my work and offered me an almost completely free hand as long as it came in over a minimum number of words–so in a sense that was the inspiration, simply that I could in effect be editor as well as the author. Most stories would be previously published and, listing possibilities out, I came up with a theme, loosely, of art and death. That is, that the very act of creating beauty through art (including, therefore, even writing a story) transforms its subject into an object, and so the book opens with a poem, “La Méduse,” and ends with the title story about a sculptress who, like Medusa, re-creates her models in metal or stone–thus conferring on them immortality of a sort, but, at least in the case of the myth, killing them in the act.
Ruschelle – You’re a poet…and you know it. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. You often do spoken poetry readings. On your blog, which I did NOT stalk, you mention a poem you wrote and delivered called Land of Milk and Honey. Please tell me it’s about someone getting eaten because they were doused in milk and honey.
James – Well, it does involve the release of bears (also cats).
Ruschelle – The world needs more poems of being eaten by bears and cats. IMO. You’re a semi-professional musician. What type of music and instruments do you play? Give us a taste. Please!
James – Unfortunately I don’t have the resources to create and attach a musical sample (you’ll note the first-ever post on my blog is titled “The Caveman of Computing”), but I play early music, much of it dance music from the Renaissance period or thereabouts, and lead and play tenor in a recorder consort.
Ruschelle – You are also a Science Fiction man. Your blog and your writing delves into the universe and beyond. You mentioned in your blog that you were lucky enough to take a bus to the path of totality for the solar eclipse. Will that experience show up somewhere in one of your stories?
James – That’s an interesting thought, but probably not–at least not directly. Seeing the eclipse was more of a thing I wanted to do because it was possible. However, that doesn’t rule out a possible future use, though more likely having to do with interactions between people who were there or other ancillary events (the reaction of animals, e.g.) than being about the eclipse itself. Still…who knows?
Ruschelle – Captain Kirk or Jean Luc Picard? I purposely did not choose Jonathan Archer because…well…Bakula.
James – Jean Luc Picard, because he acts more like I think a real commander would. Also, I am myself a bit of a Francophile, as witnessed perhaps by one or two references to French having survived as a formal diplomatic language in Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, as well as a series of flash stories I’m currently working on about les filles à les caissettes–the “casket girls” who according to New Orleanian legend brought vampirism from France to the New World.
Ruschelle- Who knew vampires were from France? Just like the Coneheads! You recently had your stories published in (two) body part anthologies; Zippered Flesh 3 published by Smart Rhino and The Body Horror Anthology by Gehenna & Hinnom Books. Mutilation or bizarre transformations can be frightening and deliciously gory. What is it about the human body that can make us squirm?
James- It is an interesting coincidence that these two similar books have come out so close together (though I should add the one by me in Zippered Flesh 3 is actually more science fiction than horror). What makes me squirm though is imagining these things happening to my own body, a sort of sympathetic cringe factor.
Ruschelle- Is there a body part you find truly scary? Like, for instance the spleen? How about the toe smack up against the pinky toe? I hear that little bugger is nasty.
James- As a serious answer, the brain, externally as the progenitor of human evil, but also internally in the fear of losing one’s own mind. But also, what interesting things might happen if a body’s glands malfunction, the pituitary gland, for instance, that regulates growth, one failure of which can cause acromegaly?
Ruschelle – I agree. The brain can be a very scary organ. Look at serial killers. The way their brains operate is quite chilling. Your new book, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, released in June is a Novel-in-Stories. This is a phrase I’d not heard before. Could you explain it?
James – A novel-in-stories, sometimes called a “mosaic novel,” is one that is composed of a series of stories, often complete in themselves, but arranged in such a way that, combined, they add up to a tale of much greater importance. One example would Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, the parts of which–stories and linking vignettes–become a “history” of the colonization of a world, while others outside the sf/horror genres include Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club or John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy. In similar fashion, Tombs tells of individuals’ lives and loves but as experienced by the last generations of people on Earth, and so becoming a narrative of the nearing destruction of that planet.
Ruschelle – That sounds amazing. But I’ve also read that a few of your stories in Tombs are a bit…how do we say it…okay, there’s no way to sugar coat it, so here it goes…saucy. Oh behave! Do you find is easier to write about human sexuality or the blood and guts of horror?
READERS! Here’s a link to his book Tombs. If you want to skip to the juicy stuff, feast your lovelorn eyes on The Beautiful Corpse and The Lover of Dead Flesh. OOOOOH MAMA
James – Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth is certainly aimed at grownups, not children, and these two stories can stand as examples. Be warned, however, that some in Tombs may be a bit grotesque, on occasion involving, shall we say, the “living impaired.” I recommend reading some of the reviews on the Amazon site as well, possibly also giving a warning, but also that it’s not *all* about love. But to the question, when I was just starting out I’d say that love was probably the more embarrassing subject, until I purposely wrote some stories well outside my comfort level. One at least was published too so they weren’t that bad (though it took a while to find the right place), but the point is that then, having crossed a line, less frenetic expressions of love were no longer a problem. (I also may note that one Tombs tale, “Sargasso,” actually won an honorable mention in Circlet Press’s Best Fantastic Erotica in 2007–but it’s also about a pirate and a pleasure woman, so what can one say?)
Ruschelle – Honorable mention for Best Fantastic Erotica is definitely something to get all hot and bothered over. If you know what I mean, heh heh…. ah never mind. –You are a short story writer. Which is near and dear to my heart. There’s a real art to writing, short, solid, detailed works with a beginning, middle and end without all of the flowery language and “fluff,” for lack of better word, that novelist build their stories upon. What is your take on the novel vs. short story?
James – Let me start my answer with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe from his essay, “The Poetic Principle,” that “a poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul.” Hence a true poem must necessarily have a certain brevity. “That degree of excitement which would entitle a poem to be so called at all, cannot be sustained throughout a composition of any great length. After the lapse of half an hour, at the very utmost, it flags–fails–a revulsion ensues–and then the poem is, in effect, and in fact, no longer such.” There are such things as epics, of course, but to Poe, despite the need for unity for a work as a whole, such a work in practice becomes a series of shorter poems. I think I agree with what Poe is getting at–that at best the “good bits” will be interspersed with duller parts in a reader’s perception, and judging from Poe’s own works of fiction, I think he means for this to apply to prose as well. So as to my own work, yes, at least as a writer I prefer short stories to novels. Especially in terms of horror, which I see in part as a study of character under unnatural stress, and while I love diversions and atmosphere and descriptions and explanations to help as intellectual support, I think there is an emotional center which only can be sustained for so long.
Ruschelle – Do you feel pressure from your readers or anyone else in the writing industry to write a novel?
James – A little, perhaps, but in any event Tombs can be looked at in a way as my answer. But this also brings up the question, again, of what is–or more to the point, why write–a novel-in-stories? As noted above, the idea is there’s a larger story, in this case that of the world itself, but the approach to it is oblique, as if through, say, a series of snapshots in a photo album from which the reader might assemble a more complete picture in his or her own head. An assemblage, then, in the case of Tombs of corpse-trains that ply bridges crossing a great river, bearing a city’s dead, braving attacks from flesh-eating ghouls. Of rat catchers, gravediggers, grave guards, and artists. Of Mangol the Ghoul, of musician-lovers Flute and Harp who once played back a storm, of the Beautiful Corpse who we just met, above. A city consumed by a huge conflagration, a woman frozen for thousands of years. A flower that eats memories… And in the center of all, the great necropolis, the Tombs.
The thing is, this is one way around Poe’s dictum in my previous answer, of being able to sustain a core idea–intellectual, aesthetic, emotional–only for so long, yet to couch the totality of these ideas into a work more epic in scope.
Ruschelle – You have inspirational kitties. I love inspirational kitties. Tell us a little bit about each of them and how they fit into your writing and or writing process.
James – Triana, the “Goth Cat” (she “dresses” mostly in black) is the resident feline, rescued from the local animal shelter earlier this year when her predecessor, Wednesday, died of kidney failure. Triana in particular will often lie down next to the computer while I’m working, conveniently placed for occasional petting, but also careful to keep off the keyboard, and both she and Wednesday have been joys to play with when it’s time to wind down from writing. Both, incidentally, have their own web pages, reachable under “Pages” on my blog.
Ruschelle – You have an impressive catalog of books you’ve penned under your belt. Do you have a book that is your favorite? That just stands out from other work you’ve done?
James – I wonder if it will always be the next to last one I’ve written. I really don’t have all that many books, but I think each is better than the one before–except for the one I will have most recently written, because it’s still too close to me in my mind for me to be an objective judge. If that makes any sense. So at least at the moment it’s The Tears of Isis, my 2013 collection, but ready to be supplanted (as the mood may strike me) by my latest, but very different, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth.
Ruschelle – Is there something that you haven’t written about that your loins are aching to put pen to paper? And if your loins are dexterous enough to do so, I really hope you make a video of it for You Tube.
James – As a partial a contradiction of my last answer, I’ve been kicking around an idea for a (mostly) poetry book on vampire etiquette, aimed to the newly “turned” –thus not as important in any real sense as either The Tears of Isis or Tombs, but perhaps more fun. I say mostly poetry because I might add some prose as well, including some of the casket girl stories I mentioned briefly above, intended as practical examples of “appropriate” vampire behavior. This is sort of a back-burner thing right now though.
Ruschelle – So no video? Damn. Well, is there anything you want to let our esteemed readers know about you that we haven’t covered? Like your fetish for sleeping in silk pajamas with spaceships on them or the time you wrestled the evil Gorn Greco-Roman style in a vat of elderberry jelly?
James – Well, I’m more a wrestler of words than Gorn, but wrestling matches of any sort are successful only if they have audiences to attend them. So, I’m probably speaking for all writers here, but if you read a book that you enjoy, please spread the word. Tell your friends, tell it on Twitter and Facebook, etc., but also consider posting reviews, especially on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. These needn’t be long, just a line or two, though reasons for liking or disliking something are good to include. And they needn’t always be Five Star either–if you see any flaws be honest about it–but the thing is, every review published helps increase interest, and hopefully readership.
Ruschelle – Here’s my sketch of James in his jammies which I did not stalk to get…okay…maybe I did. His jammies are AWESOME.
If you would like to find out more about James, or where you can find his work, follow the below links.
James Dorr’s latest book is a novel-in-stories published in June 2017 by Elder Signs Press, Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth. Born in Florida, raised in the New York City area, in college in Boston, and currently living in the Midwest, Dorr is a short story writer and poet specializing in dark fantasy and horror, with forays into mystery and science fiction. The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® finalist for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, while other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and his all poetry Vamps (A Retrospective). He has also been a technical writer, an editor on a regional magazine, a full-time non-fiction freelancer, and a semi-professional musician, and currently harbors a cat named Trana.