Originally published by F. Tennyson Neely in 1895.
Also published online by The Project Gutenberg
Title: The King in Yellow Author: Robert W. Chambers

Banner Artwork above by Shasta Lawton.
Illustration for THE PROPHET'S PARADISE by Eric York,
taken from the collection Carcosa Tenement Blues by Edward Morris

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MARCH ISSUE


Proudly Presents

WAITING FOR THE END
by Vincent Daemon
© by vincent daemon
click pic to begin reading Chapter 1


THE WAY TO ALEXANDRIA
by John Shirley
© by john shirley




THE DEVIL AND SIR FRANCIS DRAKE
by Adam Bolivar
© by adam bolivar




THE COLLECTOR
by Daniel José Older
© by daniel josé older




SUDDEN SACRIFICE
by El Queso
© by el queso





The nanofleet have reported back that in their extensive and ongoing studies, they've found the letters of all races to have grown (and shed) many skins. We at the Freezine are dedicated to a clearly nebulous field of starstruck wonder, and beholden to a legacy of strange tales that range from noir to horror, guided by mystery, and pointed directly toward a future aimed at by science. One common element these speculative exercises share, is that they are all fantasy.

Branded under the term fiction, all the stories being archived in the Freezine represent a broad spectrum of styles, covering a wide variety of terrain in the post-genre landscape. Another common element these stories share, is they are the written products of different individual's uncensored expressions. The value lies in considering each author's unique perspective. The least we, the editors of the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction can do, is allow these authors their own voice.

The Freezine stands vigilant at the fringes of what is considered to be free speech, facing outward to protect its writers from forces that might otherwise render them silent. The comments section have been opened for all to utilize, either openly under their web-ID, or anonymously, as the case may be.

The editors encourage efforts at taking the initiative to communicate, being painfully aware that the garden of evil grown from the soil of the schisms forged long ago by communication breakdowns remains the paramount problem facing us today. How to best tackle this beast? Please leave a comment, to say the least.






The MARCH 2010 issue would not exist in our dimension without the brave contributions from its featured writers. A huge shout out must ring loud and true to Vincent Daemon for submitting his apocalyptic novella WAITING FOR THE END, a story that he sent me to read whilst soliciting it to other publishers. I understood already that it had been rejected by a few for "crossing the line" and "pushing the envelope" past its acceptable limits; there came a moment when I realized this was exactly what I needed to send the Freezine to its next phase of mutation. By showing the world that we are not afraid to court controversy, Vince has helped my publication's endeavor to level the playing field, so to speak; the Freezine's priorities include the bypassing of the status-quo, not to mention the allowing of its author's unique and uncensored voices. Vincent's pained voice is quite recognizable here, and I am proud to have helped him unleashed it to a new audience.

The Freezine should be likened to a punk venue: the "front" of the venue is for all ages, or inclusive of those under the age of consent. Most stories have been, and will probably continue to be, hosted there. Although now, a brand new section has been constructed, in the "back": the Extreme Zine Zone, located at http://extremezine.blogspot.com. This can be likened to the "alcohol" section of the venue, wherein you must present a valid ID showing your age of consent, to peruse the "goods" offered therein: stories of a quality that might offend the sensibilities of parents or minors will be hosted here, in the Extreme Zine Zone.

Thanks to the mysterious El Queso for having taken the liberty to write a quick, inspired description of one of my watercolors, a piece I called "Avia Inferna" that I posted on the John Shirley message board one day, earlier this year. Everyone liked Queso's impromptu flash fiction submission, so with his permission I went ahead and gave it the title "SUDDEN SACRIFICE", and published it on the Freezine's Flash Fiction Friday. I think it strikes an old-school chord of leaving readers with that feeling of having watched an enjoyable Twilight Zone episode, and I'm grateful to Queso for having taken the ten minutes it took to write it.

Much appreciation goes out to Daniel José Older for daring to return (along with the others) to this lonely blogzine in cyberspace. His story of urban spiritual warfare, THE COLLECTOR, resonates with the Freezine's themes and provides the reader with a tense and delightful excursion into the day of an EMT's harrowing encounter with a peculiar woman in her downtown, NYC apartment.

A nod of acknowledgment and a tip of the hat goes out to Adam Bolivar--another Freezine regular, who returns with his second contribution here, THE DEVIL AND SIR FRANCIS DRAKE. Mr. Bolivar brings a much-needed and thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere of antiquity to our Freezine, and for that we should remain eternally grateful to him. His prose also pushes the boundaries of our fanzine here, and expands them in yet another direction. Between his and our fellow writer's efforts, the Freezine's parameters become boundless. Anything and everything becomes possible.

Which leads me to the inimitable John Shirley, without whose contributions this litpunk endeavor in cyberspace would not have seen fruition. Thanks John for daring to return to this forum with your much appreciated short story THE WAY TO ALEXANDRIA, about Jesus when he was nine years old, travelling to Egypt with his family. Readers should take note that this story is but one chapter from a work in progress. It stands alone as a compelling historical fantasy that brings serious considerations to the age-old myth, achieving the notable feat of simultaneously stripping it of its pretensions and preserving its inherent mysticism. It is a well-researched tale, and in my eyes, qualifies as the best story the Freezine has published so far.

Thanks to my wife, Shasta, for contributing her amazing artwork. This enterprise would be dead in the dirt without you, my love.

This issue will remain posted throughout April for your reading and viewing pleasure. Please invite friends to follow this iconoclastic and free online publication. The Freezine intends to release a new issue every other month: so be prepared for a comeback, this May. The nanofleet has been sending me missives throughout the past few weeks, as they seem to have picked up on some new material they are currently processing "via the sub-branes", that is sure to astound and entertain our slowly growing legion of devotees. Help spread the word! This meme is starving and needs to feed. Only you can help it grow into a world-devouring entity.


freezinefantasysciencefiction@gmail.com

Submit your short story to be considered for a FRIDAY.
Submit longer works for daily serialization. Thank you.







*Click Pic Below To Enter the
FREE ZINE ZONE:*

THE ART OF THE FREEZINE





WAITING FOR THE END:19

by Vincent Daemon






CAUTION:
MUST BE 18 OR OVER
TO ENTER


Click To Read
Chapter 19
LIFE'S IN VEIN






Friday, March 26, 2010

THE WAY TO ALEXANDRIA

by John Shirley





Jesus, then called Yeshua, was nine years old when his father declared that the family must move to abide with relatives in a far off place: Alexandria, in Egypt



"O, these bumps," Joseph said. "We should have taken a Roman road…"

Joseph disliked travel and, judging from the way he shifted on the tanner's cart, from time to time, his bony backside was sore, this day in early summer, their fourth day of travel. A foul smell followed the poorly-tanned hides, just behind them in the cart, but Jesus had grown used to it. This was the only ride to the sea that Joseph could afford, or so he said.

"This way is shorter," the tanner said. Joseph, Mary, Jesus and his brother James rode on wooden containers, behind the tanner. He was a stocky, swarthy, perpetually grimy man who had sworn that the hides were not unclean.

While Joseph coughed in the endless dust raised by the creaking cart's two wheels-- wiping it from his eyes, combing it from his beard-- Jesus and his younger brother James were so enchanted with the notion of traveling to Egypt that they scarcely noticed the smell, the bumps, the heat, nor even the yellow dust, though it made them cough.

Jesus grinned slyly at his younger brother, and kicked at James with his bare feet. James playfully kicked back. James was slender, his face more delicate than his brother's—more like Joseph's. His hair was in dark chestnut ringlets, like their mother's. Jesus began to realize, looking at him, that it might be obvious to some who had seen Panthera, the Roman soldier, that Jesus was not Joseph's son. James looked little like Jesus, and Jesus had Panthera's eyes.

"All manner of foulness…" Joseph muttered, looking at the feces in the ditch beside the rutted road. "Perhaps this was foolish, Mary…This journey."

"Now we are underway, it is the will of the Elohim," she said softly.

"Father…when do we take ship?" Jesus asked, choosing his words without thinking.

"I have asked you not to call me father," Joseph said irritably, and Jesus felt a sinking within him.

This great journey to Egypt was dangerous, was indeed foolish, they all knew this—any long journey was a great risk to life. And yet all morning Jesus had felt as if he were soaring, instead of bumping slowly along. But that feeling was gone now—because Joseph had said what he had said: Don't call me father. It didn't matter that Jesus knew Joseph was not his father. He was the only father left to him. But Joseph had chosen to remind him that he was not even that.

The tanner glanced speculatively at Mary, his eyes lingering on the outline of her substantial bosom. Mary frowned down at her feet, clasping her hands in front of her robe to cover her womanliness. Perhaps Joseph's remark had made the tanner suspect she'd lain with someone other than her husband. All this—Joseph's bitter rebuke, the tanner's look, Mary's quiet shame—struck into Jesus like three arrows, one after another.

"Joseph," said Mary, almost whispering, "we discussed this, did we not? Whatever you think, he must be acknowledged…"

"I said I would not repudiate him in public, but I need not hear the falsehood echoing in my head," said Joseph.

Another arrow. Jesus tried to turn his attention away from his bickering parents. But Joseph's voice, becoming high pitched with bitterness, nattered on, as if in conversation with the cart's squeaking wheel.

"And do not speak to me of dreams or destinies or doddering travelers. Wise men? Magi? They were unclean foreigners, pointing at the sky and chattering in the mud-speak of Babylon, trying to foist their poisonous oils on us…"

Squeak…squeak-squeak went the wheel.

"…and do not speak again of the magi gold, and how it bought my tools, and the apprenticeships of my sons, it was my shame to accept it and little enough it was. Let him learn to be of use, for once, in Alexandria. There will be much to do when we arrive."

Squeak, squeak-squeak…squeak.

Then they rattled around a curve, and came to a low place in the road, just before a steep, rocky hill; lining the road was thorny scrub; there, perched between two thorns, was a desert lark, looking at Jesus as if it wanted to tell him something. He caught the flicker of a gecko in the shadows under the brush; slinking behind a dying, lone cedar tree in the sandy, knobby soil beyond the thorns, a jackal turned its green-gold eyes to look at them before vanishing behind an upthrust root. Jesus felt his heart contract within him, and he wanted to get quickly past this place. Surely some dark spirit lurked here.

"Oh the Unnamed, protect us," Mary said, even as a stench rising from the ditch rolled over Jesus and he saw what made his mother cry out: a man, emaciated and naked and scabbed with blood and feces, lay awkwardly in the ditch, one of his arms turned impossibly backward; a crow perched on his chest, pecking, in a leisurely way, at an open wound edged in green, at the base of his neck. Jesus thought the man dead—and he had seen many dead men—but the man moved, his torn lips rasping against one another, his blood-caked eyes searching for them as he heard the creak of their wheels. His voice could not be heard, not with the ears. Yet Jesus heard, distinctly: Mercy. Have mercy, travelers, have mercy on me.

James looked quickly away, squeezing his eyes shut and plugging his nose.

"He asks for mercy," Jesus said, looking desperately at his father, "Please—may we not help him?"

"Ha!" the driver of their cart cawed, though there was no real sound of laughter in it. "You'd have to walk to the sea, after touching that one! You would not get back into my cart!"

"He is right, Jesus," Joseph said. He scowled, but Jesus could see in Joseph's eyes that he too felt pity, and regret. "No. He is unclean. Diseased. And doubly unclean, a Gentile: I see he is not circumcised. No."

They rolled on past. The crow squawked and set about its business. Joseph glanced behind them once, then turned determinedly to look at the road ahead.

Jesus had to try again. "May I not go back and help him? I can catch up with you. I might take him water."

"No!" Mary said, sharply. She looked as if she wanted to weep. But she compressed her lips and reached out and squeezed Jesus's hand. Then she too turned to look at the road ahead. Joseph only snorted and shook his head.

"Why did you say he asked for mercy, Jesus?" James muttered. He was hunched into himself, on the hides, as if he were cold. Staring straight ahead. "He did not speak. He had given up, that one."

Jesus shrugged. He had not imagined it but he also knew that the man had not spoken aloud. He did not know how to explain.

Jesus let out a long, straggling breath, and began the inner process of abandoning the man in the ditch. He knew the process well—it was a turning away, a muting of inner feeling, a kind of numbing. He had learned it from Joseph and Mary and from other children and adults in Nazareth. It was something everyone learned.

He looked at the sky, and tried to think of the sea, and Egypt.

Another shaking, squeaking two hours passed; and the memory of the dying man in the ditch receded even as the features of the countryside behind them faded into distance. By degrees, Jesus was able to think about their journey again, and the prospect of Egypt. Only in the back of his mind, now and then, did he hear the cry: Mercy, travelers, have mercy

They rolled through a straggling village where a few near-toothless women slapped at dough in the sun behind their huts, and children threw ox-droppings at the cart so that the tanner shouted imprecations. They left the village behind, and crossed a rocky plain that slowly rose to a line of low hills; a thin stream snaked to meet them, the shallow creek edged by slender, droopy silver-leaved trees.

As they climbed the low hills, Jesus caught a new smell—rich with life and decay both, tangy with salt, and he knew instinctively it was the smell of the sea.

And then they topped a rise, and Jesus saw the sea, below them, blue and white and vast. It was a chaos that was somehow impossibly orderly: waves that surged and curled and fell apart, yet arranging themselves in lines like an army on the march; the whole sea heaving, yet its misty blue distances were caught up tidily in the horizon's curve. Jesus seemed to feel the vast fulsome heaving living bulk of the sea at once, as he gazed at it.

"If the sea is possible," Jesus said to James breathlessly, as he strove to take in the sea's immensity, "then anything is possible."

"If the sea is possible?" James said, frowning, not having seen the sea yet—he was fishing in a sheepskin bag for dried figs. "How can you speak so—we know the sea is possible, we have always heard of it." He was groping in the bag with as little motion as possible so that Mary would not see—they were to conserve food on this trip.

"That! The sea!" Jesus said, standing in the cart to point.

The cart lurched, and Jesus fell from it, and struck his head, his mind plunging into darkness….


"Have I fallen to this place?" Jesus asked sleepily, of the man standing by the stream. "Can I have fallen so far from the cart?"

He found that he was in a ravine that was also a kind of garden, for though the stone walls of the ravine were steep, they were terraced with narrow paths that ran in crooking strokes along their faces; and each path was lined with flowers, many that he'd never seen before—though he was to see them, again, one day.

The man at the stream wore a robe that was white if you looked right at it, but it changed colors when you saw it from the corners of your eyes. He hadn't answered Jesus, but only stood there, gazing into the stream. Jesus found that he was reluctant to look directly at this man.

Instead, Jesus looked up at the sky, between the top edges of the ravine, and saw that it was black, up there, midnight black, and crowded with stars that seemed ready to drip down onto him. Yet the ravine was not in darkness. There were no torches, no lamps of any kind, but it was somehow illuminated like a cool, slightly overcast spring morning.

Jesus began to suspect that he was dreaming—or dead. But surely the time of the resurrection of the righteous had not come, and he was, in any event, not of the righteous: he had been told so many times. So he was not likely dead…

He could feel, somehow, that he was in two places at once, that he was lying on the Earth somewhere, and he thought to feel hands lifting him up; and yet he was also walking toward this figure at the stream.

"Are you one of the prophets?" Jesus asked.

"I am just a son of man, like you," said the man. The slender, bearded figure did not turn toward him; he was gazing down into the stream. Jesus saw him only in profile, but the face was somehow familiar. Jesus could see that the leanness of the man was not his nature. He had not eaten much, for a time, Jesus guessed.

"If I could bring you back to my family, we could give you food," Jesus said.

"Oh, child," the man said, as Jesus approached to within a few cubits of the man. And Jesus saw there were tears on his cheeks. "Do not look into this water: it is the stream of your life."

But Jesus looked, he could not help it. He saw blood swirling in the water, from a thing of iron lying in the pebbles of the small, bright stream: a large nail, not quite a spike, like something Joseph sometimes used.

Jesus looked away from the blood, feeling a throbbing at the back of his head. He looked again at the sky. "Why is it night up there, but daytime here?"

"Between the worlds it is always darkness, and yet it is alive with light," said the man at the stream. Jesus saw, now, the marks on the man's hands…

At last the man turned to look at him. His face, which Jesus knew at once, was alight with tenderness. "All is well, child. Your course is…" He looked upward. He pointed. "That star there. That's your course. It moves to coincide with others, and in coinciding redoubles its light, like the marker over your birth."

The man looked over his shoulder, as if hearing something Jesus could not hear. "There, they come for me: my good servant brings them, as I bid him to do." Without looking at Jesus again, he said: "Wake up, child. You dream. Find the path and follow it and we'll meet again, here. Remember to be kind to Mary."

He walked away, down the path, and Jesus—his head throbbing as if a nail were driven into it—tried to follow, but found himself rooted into the ground…

He looked down and saw that his legs had sunken into the ground past the ankles, were sinking more and more deeply, the grasses twining up to wrap around him, and draw him down…as he sank he disintegrated, his flesh becoming one with the soil.

All flesh is grass, he thought.


"Up, Jesus, wake up!" came the voice of Jesus's brother, issuing from a lamp. A small flame was all there was to rectify the darkness, a taper on a squat Augustan lamp swinging in slender brass chains from a wooden rafter. It swung slowly back and forth though no one touched it. Then James materialized beside it…stepped into its light. "You must come and see…"

"What are you doing, James!" Mary said sharply, coming into the room. Jesus saw that he was in a small wooden room, lying on a narrow bed of some kind, and his mother was stooping to enter. "Don't disturb him!"

"I'm alright, Mother," Jesus said, sitting up—and immediately wincing with the pain in his head.

"Lay down!" Mary insisted, forcing him back.

"He will be well, but he must sleep today," said a deep voice, in poorly accented Hebrew. The face that went with the voice materialized beside the lamp, a fearful face that Jesus had never before seen. It was dark, perhaps a Nubian, tattooed with lines around his eyes, and two vertical stripes on each of his cheeks. Two dark eyes, feverish with life, looked unblinkingly at Jesus.

Jesus shrank back in his cot from the stranger, but his mother put a reassuring hand on his arm and said, "That is Asclepius, Jesus. He's a physician. It was he who put the bandages and ointments on your head…"

"Where am I?" Jesus asked. "I mean—I thank you, physician. But—"

"But where are you?" The man's grin showed white teeth, edged in gold. "You are in a ship, boy. Was that not your intention? To take yourself to a ship?" The smell of olive oil and naptha draped the room, but under it was the smell of the sea, and the rank odor of ship's bilge.

"Yes…" Jesus said. His feelings shifted, like the swinging of the lamp, between ebullience and simple nausea. "I want to go up above…to the…the roof of this room…"

"The deck!" James said. "Come to the deck!"

"You may not, not yet!" Mary said, pressing Jesus firmly back.

"But of course he can!" declared Asclepius. "After he chews this up for me…" He took something that looked like a dried fig from a pouch and pressed it into Jesus's mouth. It was a fig—but with something inserted into the middle, something bitter-tasting so that Jesus nearly spat it out. Asclepius chuckled and put his fingers over Jesus's mouth; his fingers smelled of eucalyptus. "No, boy, don't spit it out. Chew and swallow…good."

"Now I may go up above?"

"You may as soon as you wake."

"But I am awake, I…" A heaviness was already drawing Jesus into itself, and the lamp seemed to dim with that heaviness. "In a moment, I…"

"Yes in a moment," the physician said, as the drug took hold.

Jesus slept…


…he slept the rest of the day, and all through the night, and into the next morning. He did not even quite wake when he was moved to a new place. Still he slept—till at last a beam of light, sudden as a stroke of lightning, struck through his eyelids, and he opened them, squinting, to see the outline of a man in a square cut into the ceiling; a man silhouetted by brilliance. The man spoke in a dialect Jesus did not know and gave out a high pitched titter, his bushy hair bouncing, spinning the light. Then he drew back and the dazzle of the sunlight and the living sea air washed full over Jesus…before the hatch-cover of the hold was again replaced. It was left open just a crack.

He was in sudden darkness and reek again, spots floating before his eyes. He sat up—and this time his head scarcely hurt at all. His eyes adjusted. A little light came through cracks, up above, and he saw he was sitting on woolen blankets in a hold filled with amphorae; some containing wine, some honey, judging by the marks in Greek on them. The sealed urns were cushioned by leather sacks smelling of grain. To his right he made out the dim shape of a steep, narrow stairway. He got to his feet and went teeteringly to the stairway—so steep it was almost a ladder--stepping between the amphorae as carefully as he could, in his initial dizziness. The heavy feeling was still on him, stupidness like a slow mudflow in his head, but he could smell the sea air from the top of the wooden stairway, and it drew him upward. The flight of steps seemed to shimmy like a snake, but he pressed his hands to the wood and steadied himself, climbed the steps one by one. It seemed like a long ways, though of course it couldn't be. He drew a lungful of air, and looked toward the light through the partly open door up above, and ascended, waking up a little more with each step. He reached the hatch cover, and pushed it aside, blinking in the light.

In a few moments he was on the tilting deck, swaying, and James was running to him, calling his name in delight. "Jesus!"

Jesus saw little of the ship itself at first, or the other people on it—his attention was so drawn to the horizon. He let James help him past the single mast, down the deck to the bow…

"I've been talking to Laetus, he was a slave in Rome and he ran away and now he works on the ship and he can speak some of our language," James chattered happily. "He steers the ship—he's the gubernator. You see that thing in his hand, it's a clavus, it connects to the steering oar—do you see how much I learned, while you slept? Ha! Do you see that big square sail? That's the velum, the triangular one above it is the siparum…They have eight sweeps but they don't need them now because we have a following wind…They can carry forty tons in this ship—it's thirtyfive cubits long! You were sleeping in the ship master's cabin but the physician moved you to the hold…are you listening?"

"Yes…" Jesus breathed. But he was scarcely attending.

He stood there, holding on to the ropes at the railing, feeling the deck shiver like a living thing under him, and gazing out at the silver-blue reach of the sea. Far, far away on his left was a shore, hazily azure with distance; to his right was a distant bank of cottony clouds. It was the sea ahead that fascinated him: an unspeakable endlessness of waves, and more waves, each seeming almost exactly the same as the others, yet getting smaller, like numbers counting down from high to low, and never quite coming to zero.

"That land there," James said breathlessly, waving at the shore, "that's Africa—we're coming to the delta of the Nile! Soon, Laetus says, we'll see the sea turn 'brown and bloody' from the mud of the Nile—Egypt itself! And ahead—the great sea—"

Jesus shook his head. Ahead sea and sky came together: there was no end to it. In Nazareth he had seen far horizons, a vastness to the world, but the sea and sky together--one made of two-- was the very definition of endlessness. Herodotus had told him--through Judah's books—that the North and South shores of the sea gradually pressed toward one another, narrowing to the Pillars of Hercules, and then the sea opened wide again, no one knew how wide. That endless openness seemed to mariners an opening to terror; thus, it was said, someone had carved Ne Plus Ultra on the pillars: No further beyond

Yet it was as if that impossible "further" was calling to Jesus. This ship was headed in that direction, though it would stop at Alexandria long before reaching the Pillars of Hercules. But in Jesus's mind the ship sailed on and on, past the pillars and into the greater sea. Into the infinite itself. He moved to the bow of the ship, staggering a bit as the ship rose on a wave and ducked its head down again. He clasped the railing, feeling the grain of the wood under his hands, breeze and spray on his face; tasting its salt on his lips. He peered downward, trying to see into the depths of the sea: first was a layer of crystalline water; deeper, it shaded into blue, then blue-green and green-black. Life flickered down there, wriggling momentary into view, then coasting down again, out of sight.

Suddenly frightened, Jesus looked up at the cresting waves on the surface. He seemed to see the whole body of the sea in a single rising wave, the sea's substance echoed in that wave before him, and in that echo he felt all the creatures swimming below the ship, fish and octopi, which he'd seen only in books, and—there! A gelid thing, like a billowing skirt of translucent skin, trailing streamers, drifting by, liquid itself: a living thing almost indistinguishable from the element in which it lived.

So was he, now: he felt the wind, the spray, the reverberating body of the ship connecting him to the sea, and, gazing into its signatory endlessness, his fear melted away when he felt that he was the sea, could feel himself lifting in waves and crashing on rocks, rumbling in his deeps. He knew the sea had been here before men had been in the world and would be here afterward. Was anything forever? Perhaps only God. But this sea was at least the signature of forever. It stood for eternity, in that moment, and contemplating it Jesus felt himself carried, as if on a wave, above all limitations; he was washed clean of the restriction of names and families and tribes and nations. He was not just the wave some called 'Jesus son of Joseph', he was the sea, a greater sea: part of a sea of mind. This other, fuller self, the sea of mind, went on forever and ever, beyond limits, just mind endlessly ramifying; constantly churning and yet deathless.

No death. The mind that lived in this place somehow transcended death, even as it changed like the river Heraclitus spoke of. He remembered a quotation from Moses: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.

This sea—the sea of water, the sea of mind--was a glimpse of the One—and the possibilities--

"Jesus!"

Someone was shaking his arm. He felt himself drawn, dizzily, sickeningly, back into the world of time. He felt heavy, disoriented by a whirlpool of physical sensation…

James was shaking his arm. "What's wrong with you? Mother is calling us!"

Jesus turned and saw his mother on the deck, her head under a shawl, clutching the pulley blocks beside the mainmast with one hand, afraid of being in the open on the boat but wanting to come to Jesus and James. She tilted to the left, compensating, her face tense with anxiety, as the deck shifted the other way under her feet. Then the vessel wallowed, as a crosswind tossed the waves, and a wave of nausea rolled through Jesus, followed by another, stronger yet, and he turned just in time to empty his belly messily over the prow…


"Who creeps up behind me?" Asclepius asked, from the stern, as the ship drifted, making leeway in a crosswind, the following morning.

"I am called Jesus, physician: my mother told you this." Jesus could no longer restrain his curiosity, and he drew up beside Asclepius and looked over the railing. The physician was trailing a net in the water, a rather long one with four lines on it attached to handles of leather gripped in his hands. It stretched out behind the boat a few feet before sinking—but not sinking too far. Someone, perhaps Asclepius, had sewn what looked like coconuts into it, in four places, so that it was somewhat buoyant, only sinking about five cubits. Jesus could just glimpse the net out in the water, though the sea here was darkening with the drift from the Nile's delta, still some distance to the southwest.

It was a bit maddening, being so close to Alexandria, but unable to go much farther. The wind had died, and though the ship had a set of oars, Joseph had discovered that most of them were cracked, would probably break against a hard current, and there weren't enough crew to man them anyway. The ship's master—a pot-bellied, wine-bibbing, scowling Gentile who claimed to be a Phoenician, improbable though that was, had lost three of his slaves to ship's fever, and hadn't hired enough crew to man the sweeps.

The boat was making just enough headway—and leeway—to trail the net a trifle; enough to tantalize Asclepius. "Oh, I shall have to take two of the floats out…" he muttered in Greek.

"Those are the great nuts from the tree?" Jesus asked in Greek, not knowing the word for coconuts.

Asclepius glanced at him in something between annoyance and surprised interest. "Yes. You speak Greek?"

"Some. What can you hope to capture, sir, in this net? I've never seen its like."

"I designed it myself!" said Asclepius, in his oddly accented Aramaic. "It can capture anything in the sea!"

"Anything?" Jesus, aware that he was giving in to an impulse to show off, could not resist a quotation. "Sir: 'Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook, or press down his tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook?'"

Now Asclepius stiffened, scowling, and Jesus thought he'd made him angry. He hooked his net around the base of the steering oar, and turned a searching glare on the boy. Jesus took a nervous step back—he had forgotten what a barbaric appearance Asclepius had—with his tattoos, the rings in his ears and hair.

"Jesus, I heard that," said James, walking up from behind. "You're showing off again! Father told you not to do that!"

Nettled, and a little ashamed at his own hubris, Jesus turned on James. "I did not show off! I wished to warn the physician that the Unnamed may take offense and send leviathan to test his net and then we'll all be pulled into the sea!"

James's eyes widened. He looked at the net, and the sea. "Do you think the Lord might do that?"

Asclepius was smiling now as he gave out a ripe chuckle. "The Great God has forgiven me many worse remarks, and many worse pretenses," he said, in Aramaic. "I don't think he will send leviathan today. Though I would be charmed to see such a thing…" He turned a long slow look at the sea, seeming to scan for a whale. Then he leaned casually against the rail, as if to disarm Jesus's fear of him, and cocked his head, taking the boy in. "I have not truly seen you before now, boy. You are an old soul."

"What does that mean, an old soul?" James asked.

Asclepius shook his head. "I should not have remarked it. Not all teachings are for children. But Jesus is learned for a child. This quotation of yours—I have heard it once, I think, but I cannot place it."

"It's from the Tanakh," said Jesus. "The story of Job."

"Oh yes, Job. The wager between the dark spirit and God. An instructive tale. I have heard something of it from a certain teacher to the East. One of your people, he was, in many respects."

"Where, in the East, did you go?" James asked.

Asclepius gestured vaguely. "I have just come from a place of learning in old Babylon, and there are still 'people of the other side' there." Meaning Hebrews—people who'd crossed to the other side of the Euphrates. He chuckled. "Even though they were on the wrong side of the Euphrates to be 'people of the other side.'"

James and Jesus looked at one another, and instinctively both took a step back—a step which brought them closer together. Asclepius seemed to be flirting with a mockery of the chosen people.

"Oh but I have only respect for your people." Asclepius said, seeing their reaction. "There are many great teachers among them. Who taught you this Tanakh so well?"

"Oh, Jesus can read books," James put in, rather grudgingly.

"He can read?" Asclepius continued his nearly unblinking appraisal of Jesus in silence.

Uncomfortable under that appraisal, Jesus cleared his throat, and answered, "My teacher was Rabbi Judah ben Ezra, of Nazareth."

"Judah ben Ezrah! I have heard him quoted! So!" His gaze shifted—he seemed to be looking at Jesus's bosom. As if he could see into it. "You are bound for Alexandria…and so am I. Interesting!"

"Yes. If we get there!" James said. "There is no wind!"

Asclepius grunted, looking at the sky. "It is the fault of our imbecile ship's master. He did not keep his slaves fed and cleansed, nor allow them the freedom of the deck. I warned him on the trip out that they were in danger of falling ill. Lo, they caught sick, and died. I suppose that if the wind does not come soon, we will all have to man the sweeps, though the current from the Nile will make going difficult unless we go out of our way to the north…"

Jesus looked at the sky too, remembering his vision of the oneness of things, represented by the sea; of the innate presence of living eternal mind. He had always had thoughts that soared to strange places, almost since he could formulate thoughts at all, and he had learned not to speak of them—even to Judah. He suspected, somehow, that he might speak of these thoughts to Asclepius; he might ask if the things of the hardened, dull lower world, where death reigned, could be touched and changed by the breath of eternity. If a man combined his mind with the sea of mind, and if that sea connected all the world, might a man not change the world? He wondered if a rain could be summoned, if a wind could be called up; perhaps it could, if one were to reach out with the essence of one's heart and call to the great Fatherly mind that he had sensed when he'd gazed on the sea; if one might make an echoing cry in that great mind, so that it was then echoed in the lower world, thought becoming reality…

Oh Lord, if this I call for in my hear, will you call for it too? If I call for a wind to drive this vessel, and if it is your will

He shuddered, and felt a little dizzy, contemplating the possibility. He realized that Asclepius was once again staring at him.

"Were you praying, boy?" Asclepius asked.

"Was I?" Jesus asked, not sure himself.

"Your lips were moving," James said. "This is not the time for the daily rituals…"

Jesus nodded, feeling dull and distant and weary. He turned away, to go in search of his mother, perhaps a place to rest…

And that's when the wind blew over him so strongly that he staggered on the deck. He caught his balance, and looked up to see the sails filling, the ship's workmen laughing and clapping their hands…

As the ship began to plow through the sea toward Alexandria...








We continue Monday, March 29 with
Chapter 17 SOME KIND OF HATE
as our serialized splatterpunk novella
WAITING FOR THE END
by Vincent Daemon
goes into its final week

only on the Freezine
of Fantasy and Science Fiction


Friday, March 12, 2010

THE COLLECTOR

by Daniel José Older






As the street fight raged on, Victor slipped his defibrillator and medic bag through an unlocked doorway, and then ducked in. He did a quick, side-to-side glance to make sure no one was around, brushed himself off, and walked a few cautious steps into the room. It looked like some busted Sultan’s brothel. Elaborate, weathered curtains hung morosely from the ceiling. The Oriental rug was decorated with cigarette burns and an archipelago of stains. The stench of corner-store incense, perfume, and Pall Mall cigarettes colored the air.

Not only was no one coming to force him back into the streets, no one seemed to be around at all. Most decent, life-loving people would be curled up in their bathtubs for protection this far into a shootout, anyway. Victor took a few more steps forward, his eyes darting back and forth. A very comfortable looking recliner beckoned from the center of the room. It was even in layback position, foot-rest out. The scratchy voice of another medic emerged from his radio, trying to give a damage report and call out for backup. Victor sighed, then turned his radio off and walked over to the recliner. He let his body collapse into it, and lit a cigarette.

It had been a terrible week. The past two months of escalating turf wars and passion slays in the South Ward were culminating in these last days of summer. For the first time in his nine-year career, Victor had lost track of how many bloody calls he’d done. It was all beginning to feel so useless. Somewhere in there, he must’ve gotten some sleep too, but only in short tormented bursts, always interrupted by the radio crackling out another assignment. Esteban and little Selina were with their abuelos this week, so Victor had picked up as many shifts as he could. The smoke curled thickly out of his mouth, obliterating the whole thought chain, leaving him giddy and relaxed at the same time. “Now if only I had a coffee,” Victor said out loud.

“A little late for coffee, no?” a voice croaked from behind some dangling tapestries. Victor let the smoke continue to swirl out. His eyes scanned the shrouds around him. A moment passed.

“Um...” Victor said, raising his eyebrows. “Can I help you?”

“You’re in my house,” said the voice. “Don’t you think I should be the one asking that question?”

“Fair enough.”

Victor smoked and waited. A slight rustling waved through the drapes, but nothing else moved. Outside, the street battle had dwindled down to a few scattered shots. That’d be the winners finishing off the wounded, Victor thought. Almost over now. “You have an ashtray?”

“Beside the mahogany bookshelf to your left.”

Victor eyed a frozen avalanche of dusty antique furniture and some exotic, metal statues. “Don’t...see...one.”

“It’s the Buddha.”

“You mean this kitchy, fake gold thing?” asked Victor, rising from the chair and approaching a four foot tall meditating Asian.

“Yes, and it happens to be real gold.”

“Well, that may or may not be true. But either way, are you sure you want my ashes in it?”

“That’s what it’s there for.”

He tapped out the cigarette and returned to his seat. The nonchalant routine was starting to feel strained, but he kept his mouth shut.

“Ready,” said the voice, and the draperies swung open to reveal an elegant four-post bed with a flowing canopy. A pale, shriveled woman hovered in the air just above the bed. She emanated a sickly, fluorescent glow. A flimsy white cloth swayed gently from her shoulders and she wore a yellow and red dashiki around her waist. Her breasts dripped down her emaciated chest like melted wax.

Victor took the whole scene in solemnly. This would definitely have to top off the list of strange shit you see out there (“crazy floating white lady,” right above “man running around without head” and “dude stuck in his cat”). Her unwavering stare scanned him like a searchlight for signs of fear or surprise.

He furrowed his brow. “Why you floating, Ma?”

“I’m dying.”

“Alright, but why you floating?”

“I’m called the Collector.” She began hovering out from the flowing bed canopy, towards Victor.

“Alright, lady, just ease up now,” Victor said, taking a few steps back. “How 'bout you put a shirt on, and come down from up there, huh?”

“What are you called, young man?” Her eyes continued to burrow into him.

“Bob,” said Victor.

“Ah, Bobby,” said the Collector as if she’d just tasted one of those shrimp-in-bacon whatchamacallits. “That’s lovely.”

“No...it’s Bob.”

“Tell me, Bobby, have you traveled much, in your life?”

“Been to Pennsylvania a few times.”

“I have traveled all over the world, Bobby, from Bolivia to Bangladesh, walked the Highway of the Gods, cavorted through the Tierra Del Fuego with a glass of wine in one hand and a bamboo walking stick in the other.” She carefully pronounced each name in some approximation of what Victor imagined to be a native accent, and it irritated him. Matter of fact, everything about this lady was starting to tick him off. He took another step back, and she continued to hover slowly towards him. Her face was fully made up, layers of powder and cream caked on top of each other. She threw her head back and let out a laugh that sounded like it was supposed to be carefree.

“Listen,” Victor said, “you didn’t notice there’s a small ground war going on outside your door? Why don’t you crawl under something like a normal person, and die of natural causes as planned?”

The Collector didn’t seem to hear him. She closed her eyes and spread her thin arms out to either side of her. Translucent folds of loose skin dangled from her bones.

Something on the other side of the room caught Victor’s eye. It was one of the antiques, an intricate metal statuette, floating up into the air. Outside, steady popcorn bursts of gunfire rattled out. Victor made a small mental calculation, and decided that he might be better off back in the gunfight. He took a few more steps towards the door.

The woman opened her eyes and smiled. “It’s locked,” she said.

Panic rose like a flock of startled birds inside Victor’s chest. He fought the urge to make a break for it. More objects began floating up around him.

“You don’t want to go out there anyway,” the Collector said, leveling her gaze at him. “As you say, they are deep in the throes of combat.” There was something to the way she said that--throes of combat--that sent a red flag up, for Victor. Perhaps it was that know-it-all smile creasing the corners of her mouth.

Victor reached two fingers into the front pocket of his uniform shirt, retrieved a cigarette and lit it. “Smoke?” he said, raising his eyebrows up at the floating lady.

“Thank you,” said the Collector, “I have my own.” She alighted gently into an elaborately carved, medieval wooden chair. One emaciated hand upset a collection of knick-knacks piled on a nearby nightstand, until it found her opened pack of Pall Malls and pulled one out. She lit it, then directed a sharp look at Victor.

“You are from Puerto Rico, Bobby?” Her pronunciation was gratingly precise.

“The DR actually,” Victor lied.

“I have been to Puerto Rico many times--it is there that I began learning about the secret magic of the world.”

“Oh, I see,” Victor said.

She studied him carefully. “What do you see?”

“I see that you’re one of those lemme-ask-you-a-question-but-really-it’s-so-I-can-tell-you-a-story-about-myself type of people.”

“Once I began to learn, I could not stop. It was like a drug, Bobby. The path led me from Puerto Rico to Africa, the cradle of civilization, like a reverse Middle Passage.”

“In so many ways,” Victor muttered.

“In Africa, I was ordained a priestess and consecrated in sacred river waters.”

“I mean no offense, the Collector, but from what I hear, you can get consecrated anywhere you want in Africa--if the price is right. It’s like the internet...”

“I made my way along the Silk Routes across the Indian subcontinent, throughout Asia.”

“That’s where you got all these knick-knacks?”

“These knick-knacks, Bobby, are the spiritual DNA of all humanity. Surrounding you is one of the most extensive collections of divine objets d'art on the planet.”

“Then why don’t you dust them off every once in a while? This place is a mess.”

The Collector took a deep drag on her lipstick stained cigarette. “I have become so frail, Bobby, so frail. My time is not far now.” She sounded excited.

“Yeah, well, you’re like what, eighty-something?”

That all-knowing smile crossed her face again. “Thirty-one, actually.” She let out a laugh, her most genuine one yet, but it quickly deteriorated into bronchial hacking.

Victor dropped his ass back into the easy chair and let his mouth hang open. “Jesus, lady, what the fuck?” The floating objects hummed and spun in long gyrations around the room. Outside, the gunfight was heating up again.

“The secrets of our planet grant one great powers, unimaginable powers, but it is not without a price.” Victor watched a small porcelain globe hover past his head. “The sacred materials don’t like to be tamed.” The Collector started rising like a rag carried by a slow updraft. A rustling came from the doorway, and then a succession of very loud shots burst out. “We have been engaged in a kind of cosmic...how would you say it? Warfare. For a few months now.”

“Looks like they’re winning,” Victor said, lighting another cigarette off the dying embers of his last one. A shiny wooden mask drifted by. Carved lines formed spiraling labyrinths on its forehead and cheeks. The shooter taking cover in the doorway kept firing until a loud, nearby blast, probably a shotgun, rang out. The whole room shuddered and a few glasses exploded from a bookshelf.

“There is great chaos in the spiritual realm, Bobby.” The Collector’s voice became alarmingly calm. “Static, spiritual static--like nuclear fallout--it penetrates every element, every realm in its path.” Victor realized that the objects had created a little solar system around the crazy floating white lady. Each spun in faster and faster orbits, circling their dying sun. It wouldn’t be long now. The cruel, fluorescent glow around her grew dimmer and dimmer every second. “The sacred materials,” she said again, “do not like to be tamed.” Another shotgun blast shook the house, followed by the ratta-tat-tat of a semi-automatic, a little further away.

“You mean to tell me,” Victor had to yell above the humming of the tiny spinning universe, “that you hoarded all these doodads and got ‘em to work for you, and now they rebelling?”

“This is more or less correct.”

“That’s why they spinning round you? They trying to kill you?”

The Collector chortled. “Oh, quite the contrary, my friend. They are trying to keep me alive because that’s the only way they can defeat me. I have appropriated their power and am using it to spin gloriously towards divinity. They know my death will be the final step towards infinite awareness. My powers will increase tenfold and manifest like burgeoning hurricanes across our city.”

“Great.”

“No longer confined by this physical prison--”

Something clicked in Victor’s head. “Wait. Go back to the part about 'burgundy hurricanes'.”

“My powers will increase tenfold, and manifest like--”

“No, sorry, earlier you said you’re causing spiritual static on every realm. This static, it affects the whole neighborhood?”

“About a ten block radius, yes.”

“You’re the one been causing all these shootouts? How many bodies have we had to pick up in the last two months--twenty? Thirty?”

“There are always unforeseen consequences to spiritual growth.”

“Lady, you’re a plague! It’s no wonder the universe is teaming up to make you miserable. And if you die, it’ll only get worse?”

“I disperse myself like so many seedlings scattered in the wind. I will be a martyred inspiration to the others like me.”

“Jesus, there’s more of you?”

“More than you can imagine.”

The humming grew louder, blurring out even the constant burst of gunfire, and soon the whole building trembled along with it. Victor looked up, expecting to see the Collector explode in some scattered star-orgasm. He shielded his face with his forearm in case any errant chunks of her projected in his direction, but the explosion never came. The fluorescent light emanating from her flickered on and off a few times, and then sputtered out. The objects continued to spin furiously. The Collector’s lifeless body collapsed in a heap onto the Oriental rug. Then all hell broke loose outside.

Victor had never done CPR out of spite before. He’d worked up cardiac arrests in dark hallways, stalled elevators, even once at a nightclub, pumping the chest to the throbbing techno while dancers kept grinding on each other around him. But trying to get someone back so that they wouldn’t become some magnanimous, hood-destroying demigod? Another new one for the list.

He worked quickly, throwing the defibrillator pads on her crooked little chest as soon as he finished two rounds of compressions. Her veins were bright blue and squiggly against her pale skin, but he managed to find a juicy one to put an IV in. As he worked, the sacred objects spun and hummed above his head. Outside, bullets ricocheted up and down the street. Young men screamed and cars screeched.

As he squeezed a few breaths of oxygen into her lungs from a small tank, it occurred to Victor that he had not stumbled into this strange little room by accident. He must be a pawn in a great divine plan to keep some kind of spiritual order in the South Ward, and if that meant thwarting this irritating white lady from world domination, that was alright with him.

He pumped a few more times on her chest and then took a look at the monitor. Perfect: ventricular fibrillation. Those ridiculous squiggly lines that could be shocked back into a normal rhythm. Victor charged the defibrillator to its highest setting, made sure he was well out of the way, and pressed SHOCK. The Collector’s body jolted up into the air and came back down. The lines on the monitor recomposed into a healthy blip-blip-blip.

One by one, the floating objects dropped to the ground. The Collector had already begun to change when Victor looked back down. Her skin smoothed out, and she regained about 100 pounds. She let out a low moan.

“No!” she sobbed. “No, no, no, no!” She raised her face, now with the proper, careening-towards-middle-age look to it. Her eyes were bloodshot and tearstained. She pounded the floor with her fists.

Victor stood up and gave her some room. “Things didn’t work out like you planned?”

“Get out!” moaned the woman, newly not-old, half-naked, and awkward on her bedroom floor.

“Whatsa matter?” Victor said, “you not the Collector anymore?”

“No, I’m not the damn Collector. I’m Emma. Emma Fastbinder. I’m from Vermont.” Emma Fastbinder needed a bath. She didn’t make the flowy shoulder-cloth look majestic like the Collector had, and her makeup was splotched messily across her face. She looked like she’d just woken up after the whackest bachelorette party ever. Her tits didn’t sag down to her navel anymore; but that’s only cause they were barely there at all.

Victor noticed suddenly that the shooting had stopped. He felt like he hadn’t known this kind of peace and quiet in years, like if he were to walk outside he’d hear the rustle of soil nurturing a young tree, the slow progress of a worm along the pavement, the beginning of a new morning.

“So much...work to be done,” Emma groaned. “Must start all over...from the very beginning. Must contact the others.” She looked up groggily. “Bobby, do you have a phone I could use?”

A flush of childlike joy came over Victor. He felt fresh, ready to go and see the world, even if it meant having to step over a few bodies on the way. He smiled down at Emma, clicked his radio back on, lit a cigarette, and then turned around and walked out the door.






We continue Monday, March 15, with Chapter 9:
CRIPPLED ANGEL / TALES OF INNOCENCE
,
as WAITING FOR THE END, by Vincent Daemon
continues its daily serialization only on
The Freezine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction.

Friday, March 5, 2010

SUDDEN SACRIFICE

by El Queso
painting by
shaun lawton





I awakened to the sensation of blinding light and burning heat.

"What the hell? Where am I?" I thought.

Struggling to open my eyes against harsh light, I became aware of a parched mouth, a brutal pain in my stomach, and a feeling like I was lying on a hot rock.

Trying to move, eyes still closed, head spinning....

"Am I on something...? Did someone dose me and ditch me somewhere?"

The pain in my stomach stabbed me.

"Have I got food poisoning, or something?"

Colors swirled in my vision. I tried to open my eyes, but they seemed slightly crusted with sleep dirt...no...maybe blood? What the fuck, am I tied up?

My heart started to pound. Struggling, my feet and hands responded weakly--but to no avail. I was bound.

My hearing faded in, so slowly...this couldn't be right. I heard...what the fuck? Tribal drumming at a football game? That couldn't be a TV...so loud...I squinted, and worked to get my eyelids free. My head listed left and right--a crowd seemed to cheer in response.

My pulse was pounding, my mouth so dry I couldn't swallow. A ball of red agony pulsed in my abdomen. I felt like screaming, but couldn't manage even a muted gargle.

My right eyelid finally pulled open...

I blinked again and again--the light blinding me. The drums pounding. The crowd cheering.

From white, my vision faded in. I was reminded of an old TV set, slowly powering on.

I was on my back. The sky...the sky seemed to swirl and pulse with bleeding hues of strange color. I was definitely on something. But I haven't taken acid for 20 years, I thought.

At that moment the drums swelled in volume and intensity. I could hear some kind of chanting in the crowd's roar. I turned my head to my right. Oh--what the fuck is going on?

I was bound, on some kind of stone platform--in the middle of a soccer stadium? Through the haze of drugs and adrenaline, I desperately tried to focus on the crowd: Shirtless, South American people by the thousands.

Were they chanting "Quetzalcoatl!"-? I couldn't be dreaming. I could feel the warm, rough stone on the right side of my face.

A huge shadow loomed over me. My head turned so slowly...

My sanity shattered into fragments that refused to acknowledge each other.

A massive, bloody beak lowered into my midsection as one baleful eye peered into my soul without mercy or understanding.

The crowd cheered again, but the pain was gone and things were getting quieter now.

Quieter and darker.

Slowly.







Return Monday, March 8
for Chapter 5 of
WAITING FOR THE END
by Vincent Daemon

Archive of Stories
and Authors

Adam Bolivar's
SERVITORS OF THE
OUTER DARKNESS

Adam Bolivar's
WYRM'S BLOOD


Adam Bolivar's
THE DEVIL CAME
TO BOSTON



Adam Bolivar's
THE DREAM KEY


Adam Bolivar's
THE WHITE CUP


Adam Bolivar's
THE FOX AND THE THORN


Adam Bolivar's
THE TIME-EATER


Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee.


Keith Graham's
MIZUKI


Keith Graham's
EVERYTHING BUT
THE OINK



Keith Graham's
FAREWELL TOUR


Keith Graham is a computer programmer,
blues harp player, fellow beekeeper, and
speculative fiction writer. He currently
maintains 45 active websites. He has
published more than 50 stories over
the last six years in venues such as
others. Underground rock music
played an integral part in the early
days of cyberpunk, and The Freezine
of Fantasy and Science Fiction is
excited to have Keith onboard, and
grateful to showcase the premiere
of his passionate story of rock'n'roll
redemption.


John Claude Smith's
BLOOD ECHO SYMPHONIES


John Claude Smith's
NOT BREATHING



John Claude Smith writes weird fiction,
something between Horror and Magic
Realism, most of it psychologically driven.
He's had over 40 tales and over 1100 music
reviews, interviews, and profiles published.
He is currently shopping two novels and
a collection to agents and publishers, all
while starting the third novel. Gotta keep
on keepin' on! Looking forward to Rome
in the not too distant future, but for now,
just looking for the next short story to
be written.


David Agranoff's
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN


David Agranoff's
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S MANDATE


David Agranoff is the author of the
short story collection Screams From
A Dying World, just published by
Afterbirth Books. David is a hardcore
vegan and tireless environmentalist.
His contributions to the punk horror
scene and the planet in general have
already established him as a bright
new writer and activist to watch out
for. The Freezine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance. David's latest
books include the Wuxia -Pan
(martial arts fantasy) horror
novel called Hunting The Moon Tribe,
already out from Afterbirth Books.;
The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies,
[Deadite Press, 2010]; and
[Deadite Press, 2014]

Daniel José Older's
GRAVEYARD WALTZ


Daniel José Older's
THE COLLECTOR


Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.

When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found HERE.