art above by Jason Barnett

The Year of Perfect Vision

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Nine Tenths of the Law: II

   by Sean Padlo





   The existence of spirits and an afterlife was a matter of lively discussion for millennia. As the advent and proliferation of the sciences grew in size and scope, the evidence of such things was relegated to blurry photos and out-of-focus video. The existence debate was muddied even further by deliberate manipulation of those images and video clips, and of questionable audio captures, both by recorded conversations with “entities” and by the listening within the spaces of purposeful white noise. Jacob believed religion to be the cause of the division between the concretion of science and the assertion of belief. That divide spread wide caused everything from the split of families to never-ending war.

   Jacob sat on a bench outside the back entrance and looked directly into the video camera mounted above a metallic doorway that bled fresh rust. The main entrance was adorned with Angels and Gargoyles, alternating positions as one made their way inside. To each side of the main doors were the names of the “connected departed.” This place pulled out all the stops when it came to services and amenities. Other start-ups like this around the world fell short on safety as well as coming up even shorter on services. Charlatans could acquire an International Permit by doing nothing more than greasing the right palm. The whole system was in disarray, but it kept Jacob working regularly.

   His job was to extract spirits from the unwillingly possessed. Instead of going over his credentials with every possible employer, his business card simply read: Exorcism Services. Of course, his religious studies, academic degrees, and exorcism accomplishments were listed on his website, but no longer included at the bottom of every card. Jacob had been at this so long that his success had finally begun to precede him, making such self-promotion unnecessary.


   Feedback burst from a speaker hidden somewhere near the door. “Jacob Morningstar?” Jacob nodded toward the video camera. “I’m William Nash, facility and operations manager. I apologize for my lateness, but this whole thing has been a nightmare for us. A nightmare for us, for the board

   Jacob interrupted. “And for the boy.”

   “Yes. Oh, of course! And for the boy!” After a short, awkward pause, Nash continued, “I’ll be up to meet you shortly,” an abrupt feedback whistle followed, then nothing.

   Solid, irrefutable evidence of the existence of the disembodied came through a well-televised case. David Galen was accused of having murdered his wife, Ellen, with the defense making a wild claim: 
innocent by possession. That’s when the case made the news. Witnesses to the event claimed that Galen rose up from the stand and hovered there, tumbling and performing acrobatic feats without a net. Much like the performance of the child, minus the impressive wings. That must have cost extra, Jacob thought.

   Galen was found innocent during the ensuing chaos, and the judge ordered an exorcism. That was the watershed moment, Jacob reflected, when the shit hit the proverbial fan. Galen’s possessor objected, claimed he was summoned by Galen himself to perform the execution of the wife, due to the fact that Galen himself was “too much of a bitch to do it himself.”

   The judge repeated his decision, and Galen’s possessor objected. The spirit, still in possession of Galen, floated up once more, bowed to the people in the gallery, turned to the judge, winked, and folded Galen in half before freeing itself from the now very dead Galen
whose body dropped with unimaginable finality.

   The metal door screeched open, snatching Jacob from his thoughts. He stood as Nash squeezed himself sideways through the doorway, hesitating momentarily to catch his breath, straighten his clothes, and attempt to brush away wrinkles that were quite likely permanent. To Jacob, Nash looked all of five feet, tall and round. Nash wiped a chubby hand off on his red Ringmaster top coat and adjusted his top hat before extending the not-quite-unmoist hand to Jacob.

   Jacob took it, shook it, and let go. “Ah. Mr. Nash.”

   A realization about Jacob seemed to flash brightly in the stout man’s eyes and slipped beneath his jovial expression, as Nash took an unconscious step backward. Just as suddenly, it was gone and the mask was back up. He hooked his thumbs under his rainbow-colored suspenders and cleared his throat.

   “Are you all right, Mr. Nash?” Jacob reached out to steady the man, but Nash cringed from his reach.

   Nash cleared his throat again, tugging at his too-tight collar with a finger. “Yes! I mean, this is all part of the, uh, spectacle. But I feel I should apologize. This,” Nash gestured to his wardrobe, “doesn’t properly reflect the seriousness of the matter.”

   Jacob gestured them onward. “Let us make our way to the boy, then.”

   Nash led the way, squeezing back through the doorway. “As you may be aware, we have no elevators. In fact, most equipment here is manually controlled.” He waited for Jacob to enter, shutting and bolting the door behind them before continuing on. “Non-corporeals have a deleterious effect on electrical devices. I’m afraid we have a long stairwell down to the old barracks.”

   Jacob followed Nash, who stopped at the top of the stairs. Jacob leaned over the inside edge and looked down. “Long spiral stairwell.”

   Nash nodded and led the way. Jacob took note of the wards along the walls as the men descended, unconsciously identifying them aloud as they passed. “Enochian…Angelic…Latin. Sigils, symbols. Religious mostly.”

   “Oh my, yes! Religion and science! Church and state!” Nash noticed that the sigils and wards emitted a faint glow as Jacob passed them. “Mister…Morningstar, isn’t it? The wards appear to be reacting to your proximity. Not like they do when the ephemerals attempt to pass,” Nash stopped and examined Jacob’s face, “but they are reacting just the same.”

   Jacob shrugged. “I have carved protections into my flesh.” He rolled up his left sleeve, displaying symbols etched and burned into his forearm, then pulled his collar aside to show tattoos, on his neck and along his collarbone. “I have branded myself with wards,” he unbuttoned then tugged his shirt out of his jeans and raised his chest high, revealing complex, overlapping designs all along his torso, wrapping around to his back. Scars, tattoos, and what appeared to be a form of etchings that entirely covered his abdomen, disappearing beneath his waistline. The designs upon his skin glowed warmly as if backlit. He waited until Nash was satisfied before re-buttoning and re-tucking where necessary. “I have them all over my body. I require the strongest protections in this line of business, and it makes my job much easier by not requiring the extra time to assemble wards and sigils before doing my work.”

   “Oh yes, I can understand completely!” Nash was nodding like a short, pudgy little bobble-head, shifting his weight back and forth, from one foot to the other, then back again.

   Jacob snapped his fingers. “And the other question you’ve been holding against the tip of your tongue
?” 

   Nash glanced away, his cheeks suddenly flushed a deep red. The man began to stammer, “I…I’m not...not sure what you mean…”

   Jacob enjoyed this bit of theater. He spelled out “M-o-r-n-i-n-g-s-t-a-r,” and locked eyes with the fat man. “Morningstar...as in Lucifer...”






Return Next Saturday
for Part III of Nine Tenths of the Law
by Sean Padlo






Meanwhile return this Monday
 March 16 to read





only on 
the FREEZINE of 
Fantasy and Science 
~ Fiction ~
   

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Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sean Padlo's
NINE TENTHS OF THE LAW

Sean Padlo's
GRANDPA'S LAST REQUEST

Sean Padlo's exact whereabouts
are never able to be fully
pinned down, but what we
do know about him is laced
with the echoes of legend.
He's already been known
to haunt certain areas of
the landscape, a trick said
to only be possible by being
able to manipulate it from
the future. His presence
among the rest of us here
at the freezine sends shivers
of fear deep in our solar plexus.


Konstantine Paradias & Edward
Morris's HOW THE GODS KILL


Konstantine Paradias's
SACRI-FEES

Konstantine Paradias is a writer by
choice. At the moment, he's published
over 100 stories in English, Japanese,
Romanian, German, Dutch and
Portuguese and has worked in a free-
lancing capacity for videogames, screen-
plays and anthologies. People tell him
he's got a writing problem but he can,
like, quit whenever he wants, man.
His work has been nominated
for a Pushcart Prize.

Edward Morris's
ONE NIGHT IN MANHATTAN


Edward Morris's
MERCY STREET

Edward Morris is a 2011 nominee for
the Pushcart Prize in literature, has
also been nominated for the 2009
Rhysling Award and the 2005 British
Science Fiction Association Award.
His short stories have been published
over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
PerhihelionSF, the Red Penny Papers'
SUPERPOW! anthology, and The
Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. He lives
and works in Portland as a writer,
editor, spoken word MC and bouncer,
and is also a regular guest author at
the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.


Tim Fezz's
BURNT WEENY SANDWICH

Tim Fezz's
MANY SILVERED MOONS AGO

Tim Fezz hails out of the shattered
streets of Philly destroying the air-
waves and people's minds in the
underground with his band OLD
FEZZIWIG. He's been known to
dip his razor quill into his own
blood and pen a twisted tale
every now and again. We are
delighted to have him onboard
the FREEZINE and we hope
you are, too.

Daniel E. Lambert's
DEAD CLOWN AND MAGNET HEAD


Daniel E. Lambert teaches English
at California State University, Los
Angeles and East Los Angeles College.
He also teaches online Literature
courses for Colorado Technical
University. His writing appears
in Silver Apples, Easy Reader,
Other Worlds, Wrapped in Plastic
and The Daily Breeze. His work
also appears in the anthologies
When Words Collide, Flash It,
Daily Flash 2012, Daily Frights
2012, An Island of Egrets and
Timeless Voices. His collection
of poetry and prose, Love and
Other Diversions, is available
through Amazon. He lives in
Southern California with his
wife, poet and author Anhthao Bui.

Phoenix's
AGAIN AND AGAIN

Phoenix has enjoyed writing since he
was a little kid. He finds much import-
ance and truth in creative expression.
Phoenix has written over sixty books,
and has published everything from
novels, to poetry and philosophy.
He hopes to inspire people with his
writing and to ask difficult questions
about our world and the universe.
Phoenix lives in Salt Lake City, Utah,
where he spends much of his time
reading books on science, philosophy,
and literature. He spends a good deal
of his free time writing and working
on new books. The Freezine of Fant-
asy and Science Fiction welcomes him
and his unique, intense vision.
Discover Phoenix's books at his author
page on Amazon. Also check out his blog.

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. He has been
a Romantic poet for as long as any-
one can remember, specializing in
the composition of spectral balladry,
utilizing to great effect a traditional
poetic form that taps into the haunted
undercurrents of folklore seldom found
in other forms of writing.
His poetry has appeared on the pages
of such publications as SPECTRAL
REALMS and BLACK WINGS OF
CTHULHU, and a poem of his,
"The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner,"
won the Rhysling Award for long-form
poetry. His collection of weird balladry
and Jack tales, THE LAY OF OLD HEX,
was published by Hippocampus Press in 2017.


David Agranoff's
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN


David Agranoff's
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S
MANDATE


David Agranoff is the author of the
following books: Ring of Fire (Eraserhead
Press, 2018), Flesh Trade (co-written
w/Edward Morris; published by Create-
Space, 2017), Punk Rock Ghost Story
(Deadite Press, 2016), Amazing Punk
Stories (Eraserhead Press, 2016),
Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich (Eraserhead
Press, 2014), Hunting the Moon Tribe
(Eraserhead Press, 2011), The Vegan
Revolution...with Zombies (Eraserhead
Press, 2010), and Screams from a Dying
World (Afterbirth Books, 2009).
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.

Sanford Meschkow's
INEVITABLE

Sanford Meschkow is a retired former
NYer who married a Philly suburban
Main Line girl. Sanford has been pub-
lished in a 1970s issue of AMAZING.
We welcome him here on the FREE-
ZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's
THE RECIDIVIST



Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's
THE MEMORY SECTOR

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking currently
resides in the high desert of Phoenix,
Arizona where he enjoys campy horror
movies within the comfort of an Insane
Asylum. Search for his science fiction
stories at The Intestinal Fortitude in
the Flesheater's World section.
The Memory Sector is his first
appearance in the Freezine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Owen R. Powell's
NOETIC VACATIONS

Little is known of the mysterious
Owen R. Powell (oftentimes referred
to as Orp online). That is because he
usually keeps moving. The story
Noetic Vacations marks his first
appearance in the Freezine.

Gene Stewart
(writing as Art Wester)
GROUND PORK


Gene Stewart's
CRYPTID'S LAIR

Gene Stewart is a writer and artist.
He currently lives in the Midwest
American Wilderness where he is
researching tales of mystical realism,
writing ficta mystica, and exploring
the dark by casting a little light into
the shadows. Follow this link to his
website where there are many samples
of his writing and much else; come
explore.

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
Audio Anthology, The Tide Pool, and
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.


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.
He's also the best friend I ever had. He
was taken away from us last year on Jan
25 and I'll never be able to understand why.
Together we were a fantastic duo, the
legendary Grub Bros. Our secret base
exists on a cross-hatched nexus between
the Year of the Dragon and Dark City.
Somewhere along the tectonic fault
lines of our electromagnetic gathering,
shades of us peel off from the coruscating
pillars and are dropped back into the mix.
The phrase "rest in peace" just bugs me.
I'd rather think that Greg Grub's inimitable
spirit somehow continues evolving along
another manifestation of light itself, a
purple shift shall we say into another
phase of our expanding universe. I
ask myself, is it wishful thinking?
Will we really shed our human skin
like a discarded chrysalis and emerge
shimmering on another wavelength
altogether--or even manifest right
here among the rest without their
even beginning to suspect it? Well
people do believe in ghosts, but I
myself have long been suspicious
there can only be one single ghost
and that's all the stars in the universe
shrinking away into a withering heart
glittering and winking at us like
lost diamonds still echoing all their
sad and lonely songs fallen on deaf
eyes and ears blind to their colorful
emanations. My grub brother always
knew better than what the limits
of this old world taught him. We
explored past the outer peripheries
of our comfort zones to awaken
the terror in our minds and keep
us on our toes deep in the forest
in the middle of the night. The owls
led our way and the wilderness
transformed into a sanctuary.
The adventures we shared together
will always remain tattooed on
the pages of my skin. They tell a
story that we began together and
which continues being woven to
this very day. It's the same old
story about how we all were in
this together and how each and
every one of us is also going away
someday and though it will be the far-
thest we can manage to tell our own
tale we may rest assured it will be
continued like one of the old pulp
serials by all our friends which survive
us and manage to continue
the saga whispering in the wind.

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:
(We are not certain if K.B. Updike, Jr.
has lost his Virginian virginity yet.)