Artwork above by Jesse Stevens


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MAY ISSUE

~ PROUDLY PRESENTS ~




AS YOU WISH
by johnny strike
art by Richard Sala
© by johnny strike





THE PORCELAIN WOMAN
by Icy Sedgwick
© by icy sedgwick






THE THING AT THE
BOTTOM OF THE SHAFT

by Gil James Bavel
© by gil james bavel




The FREEZINE would like to take this time to thank Blogger for hosting us, and all four contributing authors who provided their fiction here online at zero cost to the reader, for taking a chance with us. If you like an author's story which appears on the Freezine, be sure to look them up on Amazon.com and order one of their books, or something. Also, be sure to tell a friend about the FREEZINE, just tell them to "Google the word FREEZINE" and that should lead them right to it. All stories and posts on the Freezine feature SHARE buttons beneath, so be sure to do your part and help spread the word. You may also click on FOLLOW (either via Blogger or Networked Blogs on Facebook) which shows your support for this online, literary endeavor.

The MAY 2011 ISSUE of the Freezine of Fantasy & Science Fiction features the third "Weird Jack Tale" by Adam Bolivar, THE DREAM KEY, serialized in daily intallments (like its predecessors THE FOX IN THE THORN and THE WHITE CUP) and now archived for the reading pleasure of all present and future visitors. These three stories now comprise the world's first Weird Jack Trilogy—brought to you for free—exlusively on this forum. Mr. Bolivar made his debut appearance on the Freezine in the NOVEMBER 2009 issue, with his anachronistic short story THE TIME-EATER. As of this current MAY 2011 issue, he leaps forth adroitly to the front ranks of our rogue crew of literary misfits, with five (count 'em) stories under his belt. Curiously enough, I've just returned from the Dreamlands myself, and the word is already out, that more Weird Jack Tales are being penned even as we sleep.



For our first stand-alone short story, the Freezine is proud to announce the return of Johnny Strike on Friday the 13th, with AS YOU WISH, a tale culled from his first collection, A Loud Humming Sound Came From Above (published by Rudos and Rubes). AS YOU WISH is a story in loud humming sound, and also happens to be the first chapter from johnny strike's forthcoming novel Curse of the Djinn. If you don't know who Johnny Strike is—he wrote songs, played guitar, and sang for the first-generation San Francisco punk band CRIME in the late seventies and early eighties. The group released three singles. (Strike’s song "Hot Wire My Heart" was later covered by the band Sonic Youth on their Sister album.)

Strike is the author of the cult novel Ports of Hell and the collection of short stories A Loud Humming Sound Came From Above. He has penned articles and conducted interviews for Headpress, and published short fiction in Ambit and the Freezine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Additionally, Strike has worked at various times as a counselor at a methadone clinic, a cab driver (Madonna was one of his fares), and a pet sitter. He lives in San Francisco’s Chinatown with his wife Jane and their family of stray cats. His interests include cigars, cannabis, Masonic and occult rites, reading a variety of novel genres, and traveling in Morocco and Mexico.



For this issue's second stand-alone story, the Freezine is excited to announce a new contributor, London's own Icy Sedgwick, and is proud to showcase the debut of her story THE PORCELAIN WOMAN. Icy Sedgwick hails from the frozen north of England, but currently lives and works in London. She balances her writing with a full time job in office management, although she is about to begin a PhD in Film Studies in October. Icy has two e-books to her name, The First Tale and Checkmate & Other Stories, as well as stories in other anthologies. She can't actually pinpoint when she started writing, as she's been scribbling stories for as long as she can remember. From the first tales scrawled with wax crayons to longer work bashed out on her mother's old typewriter, Icy has since made the leap to weekly flash fictions, web-based serials and even a novel. The Freezine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is thrilled to feature her work, and looks forward to following her 21st-century career, which is on the verge of blasting off to sectors heretofore unexplored in the universe. Watch for Icy's Author Bio just added in the dropdown menu on the Freezine's margin.



THE THING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SHAFT, by Gil James Bavel, appropriately wraps up the MAY 2011 issue. This is Gil's third story published in the Freezine, and qualifies him to be upgraded to "Freezine Warrior" status. If you look over to the side margin in the "Archive of Stories + Bios", you'll see that Gil has moved up the ranks to join the likes of Vincent Daemon, Sean Manseau, Adam Bolivar, Johnny Strike, and John Shirley—Freezine Veterans, all. For this installment in our growing legacy, we have another homage to the one and only H.P. Lovecraft, and as such, concludes this month's issue appropriately, in the eyes of the Bloodhost—the fleet of nanobots surreptitiously inserted into my bloodstream and possessing me to put the Freezine out. This also marks the second piece of artwork handed in to our webzine by Mr. Bavel, and it will soon find its way to his gallery showcased in the FREE ZINE ZONE, our sister-site dedicated to archiving seperately all the artwork used for the Freezine.



Stay tuned until the next, JULY ISSUE, of the Freezine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, available the world over, free of charge, hosted by the globally assimilating internet and brought to you by the mysterious benefactors known as the Bloodhost. More surprises are in store, so be sure to bookmark this site and tell all your friends about it. See hyperlinks below for guidelines for submitting your own stories, and read a clarifying message from the editors. Thanks again, and see you in JULY.



FREEZINE SEEKS STORIES!










:message from the editors:

Monday, May 30, 2011

THE THING AT THE
BOTTOM OF THE SHAFT

story & art by Gil James Bavel

~WITH APOLOGIES TO H.P. LOVECRAFT~




I had come up to the university library to borrow some books, pursuing my strange fixation of the occult and the bizarre. I took the old freight elevator down, down into the mysterious depths of the ancient building, wondering what horrors I would find. The old brickwork panned slowly upward as the car descended. Finally, the creaking elevator came to a jerky stop at the bottom of the shaft. As I pulled open the iron inner door and strode out into the archive of literature, I noticed an old fluorescent light flickering out, and I was suddenly plunged into complete darkness. I thought it a bit coincidental that it should burn out just as I exited the elevator. Fortunately I had previously obtained a book of matches from a local restaurant, which I now withdrew and made use of.

With a sputter, the match lit up like a small flare, the sulfurous smoke singeing my nostrils. I took a tentative glance at my surroundings, and boldly made my way down the narrow corridor between the dusty stack wall and the long tier of bookshelves. A musty odor pervaded the long room, and I noticed the low ceiling had become lined with cobwebs over the years. It was somewhat difficult to ascertain the call numbers on the shelves by match-light, yet I did manage to locate the shelf, which contained the one tome I was seeking.

Some time beforehand, I had been searching for a few books on demonology, for a religion and theology class I was taking. I found most of them to be quite large, being mostly in German and a few of the much older ones in Latin. It was then that I stumbled across the manual which I now sought—the Necronomicon; that infamous book of evil lore containing spells and incantations which reputedly imbued the reader with the power to summon beings from other planes, and to manipulate his fellow man.

Although my interest was purely academic, I must admit I had become somewhat fanatic in my quest for the book, having seen it in the library once and not again thereafter. I plagued the librarian many times to locate it, and she finally granted me the information that it had been placed in the stacks accidentally, and was not for public borrowing due to its age and condition.

According to her, the book was securely locked away in an area of the building that had been closed off for well over a century.

It was to this place that I had now come, amongst the oldest and most secret books owned by the university, one of the oldest in the country. I rounded the corner, and began to progress down between the shelves when the match burnt down to my fingers, causing some slight pain. I cursed, pulling the matchbook out again, and lit another. I noticed to my surprise that there were quite a few fluorescent bars attached to the ceiling, but none were functioning. I assumed that the power had gone out, and realized that I might be trapped down in the old room, which held the legendary tome I so earnestly searched for. I hurried back to the elevator to find that my fear was justified—the lattice-style doors opened, however the internal floor lights were not illuminated and the elevator did not respond when I pushed the buttons.

I thought that naturally the entire building had suffered a power loss, or at least, a fair portion of it, and that electricity would soon be returned, as it tends to be in such circumstances. I made my way around the entirety of the large room, hoping to find a door leading to a stairway, or perhaps a window through which I could exit if power was not restored soon. This endeavor consumed five more matches to no avail. It was then that I realized my plight; I was beneath the ground floor in an old sub-basement, where no windows were to be found.

I did locate a strange, bricked-up portion of what I thought was the north wall, which presumably served as the entrance to a stairway long ago, but must have been covered over when the elevator was installed. I tested a few of the large, ruddy bricks and found that despite the age of the construction, the mortar was quite solid and none of the bricks were loose. Finally, returning to the task of locating the Necronomicon, I walked between some shelves, which I had previously overlooked, and stumbled quite fortuitously upon an old kerosene lamp in an alcove, between some books. I thanked whatever forces moved decades ago when some absent-minded book-tender neglected to return the lamp to the library proper.

I picked the lamp up carefully, and observed to my dismay that it contained no fluid. Hoping the bottom end might still retain some fumes or residue, I withdrew the wick from its holder, and turned it around, re-inserting it. I then lit my second-to-last-match, touching it to the wick, which sputtered but eventually grew into a fairly bright flame. I covered the lamp with its glass top, and hoped the kerosene resins would burn for a few minutes at least. Slowly walking back to the shelf that contained the Necronomicon, I noticed the shadows from the lantern playing off the old bookshelves, dancing as if to mimic the flame inside it. The large book stood out among the others, its black leather binding after all this time retaining some kind of glossy sheen, and really, all told, was in relatively good condition compared to the decaying books surrounding it.

The book’s title was not on the spine, but some sort of lettering was present; the runes of an ancient alphabet were embossed deeply into the cover’s fiber. Neither title nor name was necessary; according to legend, he who had the grimoire in his possession knew what it was, those who did not probably were better off not knowing its true nature.

I reached for the Necronomicon, and my hand closed around the spine and grasped it firmly. Pulling the over-sized book from the shelf, I found it to be much heavier than I had expected. I looked over it for a moment, and sat down on the floor to examine it at greater length. I lost myself in it for some time, reading the Arabic to which it had been translated. No one knows in what language it was originally written, though it has been speculated that it may have been Babylonian or Sumerian.

After some time, I noted that the flame from the lamp had grown dim, and I remembered my predicament. Taking both the lamp and the tome, I stood up and made my way back to the elevator to find that power had not yet returned. I opened the doors, entered, and closed them behind me. I looked up and noticed a hole in the ceiling, which I knew led into the shaft above that could be my only means of exit. I jumped up and pushed on the panel, which offered no resistance, and merely fell to one side of the opening.

Stashing the tome and lamp on top of the elevator, I prepared to venture into the shaft myself, when I heard an ominous scratching sound from beneath the car. I knew at once that something was amiss. At first, I thought perhaps some poor soul had been trapped underneath the elevator, but then my concern turned to fear and then stark terror as the scratching became louder and louder, until I could feel a powerful vibration under my feet. It was then I realized that something was not only alive under the car, but something primal, intelligent, and evil.

Something had been living at the bottom of the shaft, undisturbed, for God knows how long—and now, it was trying to get out.

My mind raced with horror at the implications. To climb up the long cable would most certainly be an arduous task, but the horrifying alternative, to remain in the library sub-basement alone with the thing at the bottom of the shaft was not a savory idea. I could barely conceive the notion of waiting for the power to return while that unbearable screeching of metal resonated throughout the archive. The unwholesome cacophony was growing progressively louder and more terrifying, and I knew that if I did not escape it, my hysteria would turn quickly to insanity.

Without further hesitation, I jumped for the opening overhead, and pulled myself into the shaft, which was growing ever darker by the dying flame of the lamp. I somehow overcame the instinctual urge to leave both book and lamp behind and climb the cable with the greatest possible expedition, and instead, against my better judgment, lowered the lamp warily into the elevator proper to observe what I could.

Up from below the car came the most horrid shrill growling I have ever heard, either before or since. Suddenly, with a terrible sound, the elevator floor was torn apart as if it were paper, and through it came that which my unbelieving eyes determined to be huge, metallic claws supported by stone-like arms of basic humanoid appearance, if not proportion.

I gasped, my eyes wide with terror, and stuffed the Necronomicon into my shirt, tucking it in so as not to allow the book to fall below where I surely would never recover it. Then, hooking the lantern handle around my arm, I began climbing up the elevator shaft toward the more modern levels of the building. To my horror, the thing, which had come through the floor of the elevator car, had made its way into the car, and jumped effortlessly onto its roof.

This event filled me with the utmost fear, and I redoubled my effort. I was able only to take sporadic glances below, but I saw well enough to know that the thing which had come from beneath the shaft was not natural, nor of this earth, but perhaps some dark cavernous catacomb, from which it found its way into the tunnels and sewers underneath the library, eventually breaking into the shaft. But this was no time for theory, for I could tell by the shrieking of the creature that it was no less than ten feet below me, and I was still well below the first floor; the light emanating from under the elevator doors above made this plain.

Suddenly the lamp unceremoniously flickered and died, plunging both the beast and myself into a nearly absolute shroud of darkness. Overcome with panic, I became somewhat irrational, but it was perhaps this fact and this fact alone that permitted me the insight that may have saved my life. I let the brass kerosene lamp fall from my arm into my hand, and wrapped a leg around the elevator cable. I could hear the heavy breathing of the beast directly underneath me, and hanging on to the cable for dear life, I blindly swung the unwieldy lantern with all my might.

The lamp connected with a loud bang, which reverberated throughout the shaft. A loud and horrible wail came from the monster out of the darkness, and I heard it fall from the cable down perhaps twenty feet of shaft onto the elevator roof below. I could tell that the thing had not been killed by the fall, but only hurt and angered, for its intense wailing did not cease, but in fact, increased substantially.

My load partially lightened, I continued my climb upward, and found it faster going without the encumbrance of the lantern. Upon reaching the first-floor doors, I set one foot on the ledge, and pressed the other against the cable for leverage. I slipped my free hand through the handle of the outer door, but it would not budge. The freight elevator doors had been designed to open in unison, to prevent the unwary from falling down the shaft.

The screaming thing below must have gotten to its feet, because the cable started vibrating as if it were being climbed. Electricity must then have returned to the building, for suddenly the cable jolted, and the car below began to quickly rise. I gasped as I made efforts to regain my balance, my foothold on the cable lost, and I almost fell to a grisly death below, either on the roof of the elevator, or at the fangs of the unnamed creature on it. I managed, however, to grab hold of the sides of the outer doors, and locate the catch that allows them to open. Flipping the catch, I opened the door and fell onto the first floor, breathing hard.

A small crowd had gathered around the doors, obviously attracted by the unearthly shrieking of the thing that was now on its way up the shaft. I wasted no time in scrambling to my feet, looking around for any object I could use as a weapon. Nearby, I spied a small staircase, accompanied by a railing, which attracted my attention.

Pushing my way through the quizzical group, I bolted to the stairs and grabbed a loose bar from the rail, looking it over. It was made of aluminum, but was sturdy and would serve as an effective bludgeon. I spun on my heel to see the elevator doors, which had slammed shut behind me re-opening. I ran at full tilt through the parting crowd at the now-widening gap between the doors.

The demonic thing lunged out of the elevator with an ear-splitting shriek, only to be directly impaled on the bar that I had intended to use on it as a club. The momentum of the creature toppled me to the ground, where I observed it stop and clutch its stomach, which spewed a greenish-red mixture of intestinal fluid and blood. The crowd collectively gasped at the sight, but nevertheless stood paralyzed in fear. Quickly regaining my wits, I swung my leg into the back of the demon’s feet, causing it to fall backward into the dark shaft and plummet to its death.

Later, supported by the eyewitness accounts of the crowd, the authorities and I filled out a report and collected the remains of the hell-spawned creature, which were to be examined and submitted to a postmortem by the county coroner. University officials were quite concerned about the matter, busying themselves so with the strange account that they perhaps forgot to question my presence in the old archive in the first place. I was ultimately released and allowed to go on about my business, which of course, included the perusal of the Necronomicon, which had been furtively hidden in my shirt. I found through my long course of study that a curse had been laid upon the manual by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, which must have been responsible for the fantastic experience I had undergone.

The Necronomicon stated that:

"Those who do not first recite Cthulhu’s own Ritual of Eternal Banishment upon opening the book, will cause Nhgh the forbidden to be summoned from his agony pools of perpetual waiting, granting merciless and unending torment to those who tamper with the Necronomicon."

I read on, and discovered a passage that filled my very being with the utmost dread:

"Lest he is killed, Nhgh will surely slay all who caused him to appear and return with their doomed souls to his dark corner of the abyss...."




~End~








CLICK FOR MAY ISSUE






Friday, May 20, 2011

THE PORCELAIN WOMAN

by Icy Sedgwick





Gregor sat back in his chair and smiled. He put down the brush to admire his handiwork. The porcelain woman sat on the bench before him, the paint still sticky on her face. He didn’t need to check the photograph to know she was the twin of his beloved Sylvie. They were identical in every way, right down to the fact that neither of them was alive.

Gregor ran a hand through the porcelain woman’s golden curls. They sprang back into place, glinting in the late afternoon sunlight.

“Ah, my beautiful porcelain woman. I shall name you Odile,” he said. He took one of her cold, smooth hands in his own and gazed into the painted blue eyes.

Gregor talked to the porcelain woman, telling Odile about Sylvie, and their dreams of running an art school in the town. He told her about the tuberculosis that stole his Sylvie away, leaving him lost and alone. He explained how he spent the intervening years locked away in his rooms at the top of the tower. Odile simply listened.

Some hours after sunset, Gregor yawned and shook his tired limbs. He scooped up Odile and carried her into his bedroom. He settled her into the rocking chair by the window.

“Sylvie used to sit here when she couldn’t sleep. She said she liked to knit by moonlight, and keep watch over me. You can hold her vigil now,” he said.

Gregor planted a kiss on Odile’s lifeless cheek. He climbed into bed and fell asleep under the watchful gaze of his porcelain angel.



Dawn’s tentative fingers crept over the red roofs and smoking chimneys. Gregor stirred, feeling the sun’s early caress on his cheek. He got out of bed and carried Odile up to the small roof terrace at the top of the tower. Gregor settled her on some pillows so she could gaze down over the town.

“Sylvie used to sit up here while I worked. She liked the fresh air and the morning sun. I’ll come and get you at lunchtime,” said Gregor.

He patted Odile’s head and left the terrace. His footsteps rang out on the narrow stairs. For the first time in fifteen years, he whistled a melody of summer and hope. The tune echoed around his tiny kitchen as he prepared his solitary breakfast, and continued while he pottered around in his workshop. At lunchtime, he fetched Odile, and she watched him work during the afternoon. She listened to his prattle about ceramics and glazing during supper, and she watched over him while he slept.

Days turned into weeks, and Gregor continued to talk to Odile. He fixed up her hair, and sewed her new clothes. Sometimes he touched up her paintwork. Gregor was always very careful with his porcelain woman. On Valentine’s Day, he laid out a special supper for them, and confessed he was scared he might trip on the stairs, and break her.

“I’d be ever so upset if anything ever happened to you, Odile. You have no idea how much I appreciate you. It’s been so long since I had anyone to talk to. The people down in the town...oh, they let you talk as long as they get to interrupt with their gossip and idle chatter. Not you, my dearest Odile, you know how to listen,” said Gregor. He patted her hand.



The weeks turned into months. Gregor showed Odile the pieces he was working on, although he was careful not to allow any buyers to visit him at home. He feared they might want to buy Odile. She was not for sale, and it didn’t seem right to make another.

One Thursday in late September, Odile sat outside. A makeshift shelter of wood and canvas stretched above her in case it rained. The clock in the town square struck noon. People scurried around in the streets below, hurrying to the market for their lunch of bread and cheese.

Later, the clock struck six in the evening. Odile remained on the terrace, surrounded by twilight. Candles burned at the windows in the houses below. Men patrolled the streets, lighting the gas lamps. Their glow cast warm circles of light across the cobbles. Gregor did not come for Odile.

Thursday turned into Friday and Odile still sat on the terrace. A light drizzle pattered on the canvas above her as the sun fought to break through the early morning mist. Lunchtime came and went, but Gregor did not. That evening, a strong wind pulled down the canvas over Odile, blocking her view of the town.

Some days later, a stranger ventured onto the terrace. He saw a pile of old canvas by the chimney stack, and made a note in his book. He muttered about the state in which the old man had left the place, and left. Another strong wind that night tore away the canvas. It fluttered across the terrace and over the side, snapping from one gust to the next into the darkness. Odile sat in the cold night air, watching the lights go out in the windows of the town.

Night and day chased each other across the sky. Heavy rains plastered Odile’s hair to her porcelain head, and strong winds tugged it dry. Birds gathered on the terrace. The sound of nails being driven into wood within the tower drove them away; only mice and rats would use the narrow stairs now.

The nights grew longer, and colder. Rodents sniffed at Odile’s dress, tearing strips from the skirt to line their holes. Her beautiful floral dress, so similar to Sylvie’s, hung in rags around her porcelain legs. Spiders crept across her hands, spinning webs between her fingers.

Snowflakes drifted onto the terrace on Christmas Day. The town spread beneath a steel grey sky. Odile’s painted eyes didn’t see the townsfolk singing carols around the tree in the square. Children ran around in the rooms below, their laughter drifting up the stairs toward the terrace.

A tear slid down Odile’s cheek.









Come Back Monday, May 23
For the Continued Serialization
of
Adam Bolivar's Weird Jack Tale

THE DREAM KEY
only on the FREEZINE
of
Fantasy & Science Fiction





Friday, May 13, 2011

AS YOU WISH

by Johnny Strike


illustration by Richard Sala




Taylor Reed sat in a café looking at a fountain across the street. Behind the fountain stood a dilapidated, derelict, and yet, at one time, elegant hotel. Matisse was reported to have had stayed and worked there during one of his sojourns. “One day,” Taylor thought, “I’ll give the watchman ten dirham for a look inside.”

Taylor ruminated over his last three years of living in Morocco. He spent the first year mostly drinking endless coffees and mint teas in the cafés. And smoking hashish and kif—a tobacco and marijuana mixture—in cafés of a different sort. He would drift back and forth between the expat crowd of writers, painters, musicians, and assorted eccentrics, and his Moroccan friends. Sometimes, the two crowds converged, but they usually remained separate. During the first year, he hadn’t been certain whether he had any real talent as a painter. His work proved exciting but was sporadic. Now he could look back on most of the pieces he had done then with more affection than disdain. He remembered being happy just looking out his window at the garden across from him, and over the rooftops at the cobalt blue strait of Gibraltar that filled him with ideas of mythology and adventure.

The second year, he traveled: Agadir, Marrakech, Essaouira, Fez, Meknes, and, closer to home, he spent time in Asilah, Ksar es-Seghir, and the little blue town in the Rif mountains, Chefchaouen. He had covered countless canvasses, and felt himself coming into his own. Color broke free for him. And the colors of Morocco were like no others: The reds were redder, the yellows were a yellow you could taste, and they all filled his palette. The light of Morocco seemed from another world entirely. He had painted the veiled women, the date palms at the edge of the Sahara, the valleys of wildflowers, the heady, medieval souks. The intricacies of the carpet designs and tapestries had spun his mind into a pleasant delirium as he worked away in kif-induced trances.

During the third year, he felt he had discovered the city of Tangier in a way that was not open to everyone—especially not to a foreigner. He also discovered magic, witnessed it, experienced it. He decided then that this was where he’d stay.

Lately, he was just enjoying the simple life, the easy pace. Even with Morocco moving gradually, steadfastly into the modern world, it remained ancient, and this pleased him and others of a like mind. Of course, the days of Paul Bowles—hell, even the days of Rolling Stone Brian Jones savoring Jajouka music—were long gone, but still, something of those times stubbornly remained. Something else too: something older and indefinable would always be there, no matter what. Staring at the mosaic floor in the café and the curlicues of design over the arched doorway, he experienced again that ecstatic feeling of being outside of time in this whitewashed city, on hills that overlooked a bay that could’ve been filled with blue ink.

Taylor realized that someone was observing him. The observer, a young Westerner, seemed put out when Taylor caught his eye, as though he had just been caught stealing, and, once spotted, dashed off. Taylor decided to pursue him. He followed him across the Grand Socco in the hot midday sun, knowing he’d lose him in the Medina. But Taylor knew he’d see him again, too. Tangier was like that. When he did, he’d strike up a conversation with him and see what his story was.

That very evening, he saw him again. The boy was at Club Zewa, sitting with some other young tourists and they all looked a little drunk. He spied Taylor and smiled with what Taylor considered an insolent expression. Taylor went to the bar and ordered a cold Heineken “from the back of the fridge.” A Moroccan he knew was sitting there eating peanuts and drinking a tall glass of whiskey. He, too, was inebriated but cheerfully greeted Taylor with good will and a toast that Taylor couldn’t comprehend. Taylor smiled and tipped his beer at him. Taylor looked at the reflection of the group in a large brass vase behind the bar and saw that the boy was gone. He turned around and scanned the room. The boy was nowhere in sight. Taylor moved off with his beer and went outside into the garden area. The boy was sitting alone at a table, with his own Heineken, grinning. He gestured for Taylor to join him and he did.

“My name is Kyle Davis and I wish to tell you a story,” he began. Taylor smiled and said okay.

“Last year, while on a short visit here, I was walking along Boulevard Pasteur early one evening. A beautiful sunset was just dying and I stopped for a minute to observe the palms and the bay below. Suddenly, I was accosted and knocked to the ground by a young Moroccan. The strap to my shoulder bag broke and he kicked me as I lay on the ground stunned. He took my bag, which contained my camera, keys, floppy disks, and other small items, then ran off quickly.

“I had never been mugged or robbed before. ‘Voleur! Voleur!’ I yelled at several passing petit taxi drivers and the men working at a building nearby. In less than a minute, a butagas cart came speeding past to chase the mugger. Two or three minutes later, the robber was caught, and the butagas cart driver came back to retrieve me. He took me to the Merkala police station where a line of Securitié Nationalé vans were parked in front. Inside, I saw the thief in a corner in handcuffs. A policeman asked me to identify him. I did, and then I got all my belongings back. I spent an hour at the station answering questions and the policeman in charge occasionally would step into another room to hit the thief with a stick. With my mobile phone, which was also in the bag, I called my friends and told them what had happened. Finally, I was driven back to the hotel but the next morning, I was so sore, I stayed in bed all day resting. Why am I telling you this story?”

Taylor shrugged.

“Since this same man now works for you, I’m worried about your safety. I know your work, Mister Reed. I also want to paint, and regardless of that unfortunate experience, I’ve decided to live here, too, at least part of the year. I have a small business in New York I must attend to a few months of the year.”

“He works for me?” Taylor asked. “Nobody except Fatima, my maid, works for me. I believe you’re mistaken.”

“But I saw him on various occasions delivering material to your house, and to a café a few times.”

“You’re talking about Drissi,” Taylor said wondering why this boy had him under surveillance. Conveniently, Drissi was away for the summer. But Taylor played it off and laughed. “Well, come to think of it, Drissi was once a thief, but that was when he was very young. In fact, he spent a time in jail. But he’s long reformed and has since become a poet. I think you’ve confused him with someone else.”

The boy didn’t look convinced.

“But Kyle,” Taylor asked, “why have you been watching me so closely?”

Kyle looked uncomfortable for only a second. Then he said quickly, “I’m one of your creations. I’ve escaped from one of your paintings.”

Taylor was laughing now and thinking the boy was an interesting character even for Tangier. Taylor studied his impish eyes and bread white complexion, the tight mouth that revealed little. Taylor lit a cigarette.

“Is that so? Which one, pray tell?”

Kyle allowed a slight smile. “Well, it’s untitled but was used for the cover of Jesse Higgin’s Danger USA.”

The piece that Kyle referred to was taken from a dream and had always made Taylor a little uneasy though he didn’t know why. It was based on a rough sketch he had made after waking from a dream. All he had been able to recall was two hands in a frame. That constituted the sketch and the minimal painting that followed. One hand was clenched in a fist and the other was emulating a gun. Jesse had wanted it right away for his short story collection and, although Taylor was reluctant, he went ahead and let him use it.

Taylor forced a laugh. “But that was only hands.”

“Yes, but they’re my hands,” Kyle imitated the piece there with his hands in the air, giving Taylor an eerie feeling.

“You dreamt them right?” Kyle asked.

“I did,” Taylor said.

Kyle continued, “I had a similar dream. In my dream, they were my hands and I made a rough sketch when I awoke. Then I saw the Higgins book and I began researching you. I made my first trip here, although it was cut short by the mugging and the illness of two people in the party I was traveling with. But now I’m back and on my own.”

“Well, I’ve got to say that’s interesting and original. You wouldn’t happen to have that sketch with you?”

“Of course, Mister Reed,” Kyle pulled a bound notebook out of his backpack. The book was filled with strange drawings, cutouts from magazines and newspapers, and notes or diary entries. Kyle located the drawing and handed it over. It could have been the same initial sketch Taylor had made over a year ago. No one had ever seen that sketch. A slight prickly feeling went up Taylor’s back and circled his head, and he felt dizzy for a moment. He thought maybe his drink had been spiked but then the feeling passed. He looked at this young man whose expression revealed nothing.

“So what can I do for you?” Taylor asked evenly.

The boy smiled ever so slightly. “I would like to pose for you, Mister Reed. I would like to commission you to paint my portrait. I’ll pay the price you ask.”

Taylor lit another cigarette. He hadn’t done any work lately and was even thinking of traveling again to get the juices going. But here was a unique opportunity: a strange proposition from a peculiar character. And why not? He could paint him in the garden and work only the days Fatima was there, since there was an oddly uncomfortable element to the whole deal. The young man may very well be mad, but that wasn’t exactly new territory for Taylor. He felt challenged and curious about painting the mysterious young man’s portrait. Taylor named a fair price and stated which days and hours he would work on it, and Kyle readily agreed. They closed the deal with another drink and talked a little shop. Taylor was impressed that Kyle knew his subject and sounded a lot like Taylor himself when he had first dreamed of becoming a painter. Kyle wrote out a Bank of America check with a New York address. Taylor would take it to the bank the next day, and wait to see if it indeed was good. He set their first date for a week later to make sure.

The day arrived for the first session. It was a pleasant day and the garden was arranged with umbrellas and a refreshment table with tea, Sidi Harazem water bottles in a bucket of ice, fruit, and croissants. Caesar, Taylor’s old tomcat, sat in the chair designated for the subject and surveyed his domain skeptically. Taylor had decided that he would not show Kyle the daily progress but rather cover it at the end of each session and show him only the final work. As he was double-checking his implements, he overheard voices and looked up to see a smirking Kyle Davis wearing a striped djellaba and a red fez with tassel cocked at the side of his head. Fatima, standing behind him, gave Taylor a troubled look, then disappeared back into the kitchen.

“Oh Mister Reed. I still can’t believe it. A dream come true,” Kyle said, extending his hand.

Taylor shook it and said, “Well, you look very ‘Maroc.’ Folkloric.”

“Yes, isn’t it splendid? It’s as close as I’ll get to Lawrence of Arabia.”

“All you need is a horse and a rusty rifle,” Taylor said and moved Caesar to another seat. The old cat begrudgingly accepted the unexpected transport.

“Kyle, I’d like you to call me Taylor.” He gestured to the refreshments and Kyle smiled, took his assigned seat, and produced a sebsi, or kif pipe, in two parts from his big pocket. He attached them and expertly nuzzled a small clay bowl onto the end. He filled the bowl from a pouch and offered it. Taylor, however, had already produced his own pipe and said, “Go ahead. Is that with or without spice?” He noticed Kyle’s pipe was identical to his own.

“No tobacco, but a touch of hashish,” Kyle acknowledged with a wink. Taylor accepted the leather pouch, which also was like his own. It was especially good kif. And he could smell the pungent hashish. Taylor wondered how the boy had gotten hooked up so quickly but decided not to pry. They sat and puffed on their sebsis; Fatima appeared through a cloud of smoke, delivering short glasses of piping hot mint tea, essential for the kif smoker’s throat.

After tea, the work began. The previous day, Taylor had spread linseed oil over the first layer of eggshell white. He began now with pencil and then switched to paint. The red ochre perfectly matched the wide stripe of the djellaba.

Over the next several weeks, the sessions passed and Kyle was a perfect subject, keeping the pose that Taylor preferred and speaking only when questioned. The only other sounds were occasional Arabic music from a neighbor’s radio, the chirping of birds, and the distant horn blast of a ferry arriving from Spain. When they heard the afternoon prayer call, it was their cue to stop for the day. Kyle had no problem with not seeing the work and didn’t peek or complain.

As for the portrait, it was coming along, but Taylor was having trouble with the eyes, which as the hours passed began to resemble those of a lizard or wild bird. Then, they would resume their odd, sedate yet impish, stare. Sometimes they would glow or reflect light in an odd way. Other times, the iris looked as though it was opening like some exotic flower right in front of him. Kyle seemed to sense Taylor’s difficulty and would look away, forcing Taylor to scold him. There were moments when the face in the painting would go black, and the faces of other people Taylor knew would flash before him.

Taylor wiped a bead of sweat off his brow. He tried to concentrate but the tone, the color, the light and dark would change course from minute to minute.

One day, Taylor asked if he could take a few photographs and, for the first time, Kyle was visibly upset.

“No photographs please. I have a real aversion to having my picture taken. I realize it would help you but I must insist.”

“As you wish,” Taylor said, repeating the common Moroccan expression.

He studied his work and was pleased except for the eyes. He had not captured them yet and he now tried to photograph them with his mind. Kyle seemed to sense this as he said his good-byes for the day.

Once alone, Taylor quickly did some sketches. One he particularly liked almost caught the odd juxtaposition of mischievous and calmness that the boy’s eye’s possessed. He went to his canvas and tacked up the drawing. He smoked a bowl of kif and looked until he was seeing both the drawing and the canvas at the same time. He fell into a trance and began to work.

Taylor awoke on the bench, covered with Moroccan blankets, and on his cushions made by a tribe in the high Alas mountains. It was twilight and he felt invigorated as he sat up and looked over at the portrait. He walked toward it as moonlight spilled into his small garden. The portrait of Kyle Davis was finished and the eyes were something to behold. They persistently drew the viewer toward them and then into their sphere, triggering a feeling of recognition that could not be explained. Taylor got lost in them, standing there in the moonlight, and wondered what the real story was with the mysterious young man. He delicately printed his initials and the date in the lower right corner. He would give Kyle his portrait the following day.

But the time came for Kyle to arrive and he did not appear. After an hour, Taylor took the painting inside. He realized he didn’t even know where the young man was staying. And he didn’t know anyone else who knew him, which was strange for Tangier. He would just have to wait until he heard from him.

After a few days had passed, Taylor began to ask around but no one else seemed to have ever noticed the lad at all. Taylor began to wonder if the boy was a djinn—some genie or a ghost. Taylor had had profound life-changing experiences with djinns and the magic of Morocco the previous year, although others might consider it a psycopathology at best.

He decided to visit an old friend named Omar who had come back to Tangier from Fez for the summer. They sat in Omar’s sister’s front room, sipping tea and smoking kif, and Taylor told him the story. As Omar poured more tea from his old, darkened samovar, he said, “If he does not come back he is a djinn. If he returns, he was possessed.”

Three years ago, Taylor would’ve thought this a quaint idea, but now, after his own experiences in this realm, he believed Omar.

Weeks passed and Taylor moved on to other things. He worked on a series of pieces using drawings of Caesar’s eyes and some abstract experiments that, together, took on the appearance of alien, mythological landscapes. As he was putting the finishing touches to one of these, he heard his bell. Fatima was off, so he went down to see who it was. A small Moroccan beggar boy stood on his step, holding a large blue envelope. He handed it to Taylor who used some friendly Arabic to stop him from running off. The boy smiled but continued to stare at the ground. Taylor opened the envelope and extracted a neatly-typed missive that he noticed right away was signed by Kyle Davis.


Dear Taylor.

Please forgive my disappearance, but there was no other way. Come to the Rembrandt Hotel immediately and I’ll explain everything. I look forward to seeing you and finally having my portrait, which I know must be done.

Sincerely,

Kyle Davis



Taylor gave the boy a couple of dirham and watched him run off. He took a shower, dressed, and sat smoking a cigarette, examining the portrait before he would wrap it and deliver it. It was definitely finished and it was a smashing piece of work. He felt almost like he had not painted it at all; he wondered if perhaps a djinn had entered his mind and guided his hand during that entire period.

Taylor leaned closer to the portrait, getting a whiff of something alien and foul. Lightning seemed to flash in his head and he stared at the painting for a long while. A chill came over him, and a gloom seemed to drift all around him. Finally, Caesar came into the room, breaking the trance. Taylor looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was time to wrap the painting and leave.

On the walk to the hotel, Taylor fought off a nagging sense that he’d forgotten something. He felt a sourness in his stomach and wondered if he was going to be sick. He sat at an outdoor café and waved the waiter away. He wiped the sweat from his brow. The waiter delivered a glass of water anyhow and Taylor drank it. Slowly, he began to feel better. He left the café and continued on his way, the portrait now heavy in his hands.

At the Rembrandt Hotel, the front desk clerk told him which room Monsieur Davis was in. Taylor saw waves of colors pour through the foyer and a lightening flash in his head knocked him against the desk. The clerk and Taylor glanced at each other knowing something unexplainable, unknowable had just occurred. The clerk looked for his prayer beads and Taylor picked up his painting and headed up the stairway.

Kyle’s room was at the end of a hallway. As Taylor approached, he saw that the door was slightly ajar. The room looked to be swirling in lights like a damn discotheque and Taylor edged the door open with his toe.

Before him, Kyle was levitating as colors splattered the room and escaped in every direction. There was a high-pitched yowl and Taylor saw in a mirror behind Kyle a creature covered in clear slime. It looked like a hideous hybrid of human and eel, its eyes demon red. The djinn’s hands mimicked the original sketch that Kyle claimed to be his own. Taylor turned away, tore the wrapping off the portrait and positioned it toward the mirror. At first, the djinn only gloated, but when Kyle gasped and fell to the floor, it shrieked and then screamed.

Taylor turned and faced it with the portrait. He approached the djinn despite the shrieking and hissing. Finally, it leapt toward the open window, leaving behind the same foul smell Taylor had detected before he had wrapped the painting.

Kyle, mostly recovered, gazed at his portrait and said, “I—I can never thank you enough, Taylor. I knew only you could possibly get me out of this. After all, you drew my hands. But I couldn’t tell you anything about what was happening.”

Kyle took the cigarette that Taylor offered. They smoked silently and listened to the traffic noises from the busy Boulevard Pasteur below them.

“Welcome to Tangier,” Taylor finally said.





Click Here for Part I of
THE DREAM KEY
by Adam Bolivar


Serialized Daily
only on the FREEZINE
of Fantasy & Science Fiction




Sunday, May 8, 2011

:message from the editors:





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 Nanofleet encourages both aspiring and established writers
to submit their short stories (or longer works) to be considered
for publication (or daily serialization) in future issues of
the FREEZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction, to

freezinefantasysciencefiction@gmail.com

and an editor will get back to you in due order.
Thank you for your part in supporting genre fiction.






Click Here for
AS YOU WISH,
by Johnny Strike


appearing Friday the 13th
only on the FREEZINE
of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

FREEZINE SEEKS STORIES!



Head's up, wayward cybertravellers and lost virtual souls of the Interweb. The nanoswarm editors have initiated a request that genre writers submit a work of fiction for consideration in future issues.


If your story is published in The Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, it will remain archived here amid an illustrious company of authors, including (yet not limited to) John Shirley, Rain Graves, Johnny Strike, David Agranoff, Adam Bolivar, Sean Manseau, Vincent Daemon, Daniel José Older, Gil James Bavel, Keith Graham, Blag Dahlia, G. Alden Davis, John Claude Smith, Paul Stuart, Icy Sedgwick, and many more still to come. The FREEZINE is dedicated to publishing new genre stories in the Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror fields for the express purpose of further exposing both established and unknown authors to a wider audience of readers.

All rights revert to the authors and artists whose work appears in the FREEZINE. This is a labor of love, and is intended as an instrument by which genre writers may interact with one another and share their stories with readers in an atmosphere unfettered by the subtle and intricate distractions the publishing industry can impose.

It's an online forum designed to grant writers the FREEDOM to experiment and cultivate ideas for maximizing their art of story writing.

Submit flash fiction, short stories, or novellas for serialization to be considered for future issues, to

freezinefantasysciencefiction@gmail.com

and an editor will reply in due course.


The year 2014 is a great time to get onboard as a rogue partner of our motley FREEZINE crew, because pretty soon the slushpile will grow too large for the editors to handle in a timely fashion. NOW is a golden opportunity to get in while the gettin's good, before our webzine here sprouts sunward like a giant beanstalk out of control. Secure for yourself a place in history alongside these super cool writers while you can, because the FREEZINE has some great things in store for the future, and you won't want to miss out on your slice of the glory.



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Archive of Stories
and Authors

Edward Morris's
MERCY STREET


Gene Stewart's
CRYPTID'S LAIR


Adam Bolivar's
SERVITORS OF THE
OUTER DARKNESS


Adam Bolivar's
THE DEVIL & SIR
FRANCIS DRAKE



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.


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.


Johnny Strike's
AS YOU WISH


Johnny Strike's
NIGHT FLAMERS


Johnny Strike's
THE HOMELESS MUTANTS


Johnny Strike will beat you with his guitar
and leave you lying in the gutter wishing you
had never dared enter his under ground world
of fake passports, lucky amulets, rain soaked
hotels, and occult mystique. If you don't leave
nice comments under his story, he's sure to sic
his band CRIME on you. He also wrote the novel
Ports Of Hell (Headpress), recommended by
William S. Burroughs. You don't receive kudos
from William Lee himself unless you are the
epitome of cool. Besides, have you listened to
CRIME's album Exalted Masters? It was
released in 2007 on the Crime Music label,
on vinyl only, featuring a slew of their old
rare hits. Its real punk music from seasoned
veterans. Now go track yourself down a copy
before its out of print. The Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction is proud to host the story
that contains the line which titles his first
From Above (Rudos and Rubes).


Paul Stuart's
SEA?TV!


Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
biographical blurbs written in the third
person. His previously published fiction
appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and
His non-fiction financial pieces can be found
in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features
pictures of expensive homes, as well as images
of women in casual poses and their accessories.
Consider writing him at paul@twilightlane.com,
if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall
2010, look for Grade 12 Trigonometry and
Pre-Calculus -With Zombies.


Rain Grave's
MAU BAST


Rain Graves is an award winning
author of horror, science fiction and
poetry. She is best known for the 2002
Poetry Collection, The Gossamer Eye
(along with Mark McLaughlin and
David Niall Wilson). Her most
recent book, Barfodder: Poetry
Written in Dark Bars and Questionable
Cafes, has been hailed by Publisher's
Weekly as "Bukowski meets Lovecraft..."
in January of 2009. She lives and
writes in San Francisco, performing
spoken word at events around the
country. 877-DRK-POEM -



Icy Sedgwick's
THE PORCELAIN WOMAN


Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
trainee supervillain. She lives in the UK
but dreams of the Old West. Her current
works include a ghost story about a Cavalier
and a Western tale of retribution. Find her
ebooks, free weekly fiction and other
shenanigans at Icy’s Cabinet of Curiosities.


Blag Dahlia's
armed to the teeth
with LIPSTICK



BLAG DAHLIA is a Rock Legend.
Singer, Songwriter, producer &
founder of the notorious DWARVES.
He has written two novels, ‘NINA’ and
‘ARMED to the TEETH with LIPSTICK’.


G. Alden Davis's
THE FOLD


G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
in high school, and received a creative
writing scholarship for the effort. Soon
afterward he discovered that words were
not enough, and left for art school. He was
awarded the Emeritus Fellowship along
with his BFA from Memphis College of Art
in '94, and entered the videogame industry
as a team leader and 3D artist. He has over
25 published games to his credit. Mr. Davis
is a Burningman participant of 14 years,
and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.


Shae Sveniker's
A NEW METAPHYSICAL STUDY
REGARDING THE BEHAVIOR
OF PLANT LIFE


Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
resident of the Salt Pit, UT, currently living
in Simi Valley, CA. His short stories are on
Blogger and his poetry is hosted on Livejournal.



Nigel Strange's
PLASTIC CHILDREN


Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
daughter, cats, and tiny dog-like thing
in their home in California where he
occasionally experiments recreationally
with lucidity. PLASTIC CHILDREN
is his first publication.


J.R. Torina's
THE HOUSE IN THE PORT


J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
house ('90-'97), runs Sutekh Productions
(an industrial-ambient music label) and
Slaughterhouse Records (metal record
label), and was proprietor of The Abyss
(a metal-gothic-industrial c.d. shop in
SLC, now closed). He is the dark force
behind Scapegoat (an ambient-tribal-
noise-experimental unit). THE HOUSE
IN THE PORT is his first publication.


K.B. Updike, Jr's
THE GOLDEN THIRD EYE


K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin
Virginia writer. KB's life work,
published 100% for free: