banner art above by Charles Carter

Friday, March 12, 2010


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’”

“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.”

“’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 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.”


“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 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:
as WAITING FOR THE END, by Vincent Daemon
continues its daily serialization only on
The Freezine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction.

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Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's

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

Konstantine Paradias's

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

Edward Morris's

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

Tim Fezz's

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

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 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

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

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
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

David Agranoff's

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
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at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance.

Sanford Meschkow's

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

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's

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
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Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Owen R. Powell's

Little is known of the mysterious
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to as Orp online). That is because he
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Gene Stewart
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Gene Stewart's

Gene Stewart is a writer and artist.
He currently lives in the Midwest
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researching tales of mystical realism,
writing ficta mystica, and exploring
the dark by casting a little light into
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Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's

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

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,
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Rain Grave's

Rain Graves is an award winning
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(along with Mark McLaughlin and
David Niall Wilson). Her most
recent book, Barfodder: Poetry
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Icy Sedgwick's

Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
trainee supervillain. She lives in the UK
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ebooks, free weekly fiction and other
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Blag Dahlia's
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G. Alden Davis's

G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
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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
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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

Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
resident of the Salt Pit, UT, currently living
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Blogger and his poetry is hosted on Livejournal.

Nigel Strange's

Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
daughter, cats, and tiny dog-like thing
in their home in California where he
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J.R. Torina's

J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
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(an industrial-ambient music label) and
Slaughterhouse Records (metal record
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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

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.)