banner art above by Charles Carter

Monday, November 3, 2014



5 Tales

by H.P. Lovecraft

© in the public domain;  art © by shaun lawton
+ Click Images Below To Begin Reading +

by Gil James Bavel
© 2014 by gil james bavel; photo © by gil bavel 

by John Claude Smith
© 2014 by john claude smith; art © by shasta lawton 

by Vincent Daemon
© 2014 by vincent daemon; art © shaun lawton

by John Shirley
© 2014 by john shirley; art © shasta lawton

Welcome to another issue of the FREEZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction. This one's been dubbed DEVIL'S WEEK on account of it having run during the final week of October, 2014:  the Freezine presented one story per each day of the week, beginning with the classic H.P. Lovecraft tale HYPNOS.  The art you see depicted above the story was done by me  using magic markers on glossy photo print paper.  It was a method I developed a few years ago when staying up late providing impromptu illustrations for past Freezine stories.  I found that the glossy photo paper really soaks up the colorful magic marker inks to provide a deep and vibrant hue that translates considerably well when lit up by a computer monitor online. This particular illustration was not intended to go with this story when I drew it, but later I found it parallels certain ideas inherent to the mysterious realm of sleep and dreams, so I went ahead and used it for lack of having anything more specific. With its deep obsession over the mysterious terror that awaits in our dreams, the story HYPNOS predates the movie A Nightmare On Elm Street by just over sixty years, and serves perfectly as a segue into our next story.  

Gil James Bavel's SAM'S HALLOWEEN NIGHTMARE went live on Tuesday to follow up the Lovecraft dream story, keeping an even keel on our theme of the exploration of the unconscious mind.  The artwork you see accompanying this story was provided by the author himself, but it was my idea to couple it with the paranoid tale. SAM'S HALLOWEEN NIGHTMARE is now the seventh offering from Gil archived on the Freezine, and I who worked on proofreading and editing all the manuscripts remain quite thankful for this generous contribution to our cycle of stories honoring the hallowed autumnal season.  

Third up comes a perfectly delightful tale for the Samhain Season from another Freezine veteran, John Claude Smith.  His short story THE PERFECT PUMPKIN fits right in as the sort of urban contemporary horror tale you'd expect to hear whispered over the crackling flames of a campfire.  If you missed out on reading any of these stories when they went up, fear not because they are all archived here on the official site for posterity and your reading pleasure.  Just follow any one of the various hyperlinks from the story's title or the image above depicting the titular pumpkin, illustrated by my wife Shasta on the day it went up. If you liked this story, be sure to check out John Claude Smith's new collection of horror tales Autumn In The Abyss, published by Omnium Gatherum earlier this year.  Thanks to my wife for drawing the perfect pumpkin and a great big Halloween Thank You to John for generously providing the ideal story for our 2014 Halloween issue.  

Our fourth short story ran on Devil's Night, October 30 and comes courtesy of another one of the Freezine's veteran authors, Vincent Daemon.   SEE YOU NEXT YEAR, MY LOVE reads like an irreproachable postcard from the spirit of Halloween itself, depicting the bittersweet horror of a man's interrupted long term relationship and the ghostly revenge set in motion from beyond the grave.  It's a fitting love-letter to the mayhem of the season and impeccably caps off the stories preceding Halloween.  Thanks to Vincent for allowing the Freezine to publish this story, I was very happy to receive it and run it during the witching hour on Devil's Night.  

Last and most surprising of all comes our fifth and final entry, a new horrific short story from a master of the macabre, John Shirley.  It is a perfectly penned and grueling tale whose underlying message may just be grasped even while a ton of fresh graveyard dirt threatens to bury it underneath.  The Freezine is proud to present the worldwide debut of THE SOFTEST PILLOW, a story which was too disturbing for another magazine to publish! Here at the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, our staff have always preferred to allow each individual author's style to come across as whole and original as humanly possible, preserving the writer's intentions so their voice may be heard loud and clear.  John's anti-suicide message in this particular story is unmistakable, and I remain extremely grateful for his generosity in contributing it to culminate our run of five stories for DEVIL'S WEEK.  

The artwork used for THE SOFTEST PILLOW comes courtesy of my wife Shasta.  It's actually a small detail in a larger original drawing she did for Vincent Daemon's splatterpunk serial WAITING FOR THE END, originally run by the Freezine in March of 2010.   

John Shirley has a new novel out right now you should definitely pick up and read, the historical western WYATT IN WICHITA, released by Skyhorse Publishing just this past August.  It's an excellent read whether or not you enjoy westerns.  Wyatt Earp enthusiasts in particular will get a real kick out of the 20 years worth of research that went into the telling of this tale, but anyone who likes a riveting read will surely enjoy it.  Be sure to check it out from your local library if you don't buy the eBook or print edition; I personally consider it to rank among John's best novels.  

And that's another wrap for the FREEZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Begun five years ago during the summer of 2009 and kicking off with John Shirley's never-before-published novella SKY PIRATES (originally serialized in sixteen daily installments),  this webzine remains an archival creative writing platform for anyone interested in reading or writing short stories on the fringes of fantasy, horror, or science fiction.  Rest assured this blog is absolutely devoid of having anything to do with paid advertising or finances of any sort.  It is a small communal endeavor run by one man (myself, editor in chief Shaun Lawton) bent on providing a brief if static respite from the travails of the regular publishing industry.  

The FREEZINE's mission is to continue accepting manuscripts from both established and upcoming writers who either want to showcase their story with appealing artwork to be easily shared by way of the various online modalities (such as email, twitter, facebook, Google plus, etc.) or just to have their stories archived amid the company of a growing motley crew of talented writers for the world wide web to inherit and continue showcasing for posterity.   

 Be sure to invite your friends to follow the FREEZINE today.  Share the stories, and tell as many readers as you can about this superlative webzine of absolutely free fringe fiction. To follow or subscribe, either use the RSS-feed, follow by email (upper right corner) or simply scroll down, down, down past all the bios and authorsuntil you see the Blogger Followers just below Icy Sedgwick, and the Networked Blogs app for Facebook below that. We have received over 100,000 hits and are about to reach 165 Blogger and Facebook Followers—and that doesn't include all the "hidden" Followers who choose to do so privately or on their covert RSS-feeds. Only the Bloodhost know how many followers we actually have across the galaxy.  So be sure to take the time to join up because the Freezine intends to remain archived on the internet for a long time to come.   

If you're a writer who wants to showcase a story of the realm fantastic and further promote yourself and your work, why not submit it to 

for consideration in a future issue? I will get back to you as soon as I can. The process of getting your story up and onto the FREEZINE may be relatively informal, but expect nothing but professionalism in your story's editing and presentation.  

Thanks for your support and participation, thank you for putting up with the occasional unpredictable monthly lapses, and rest assured that the FREEZINE will continue so long as I am able to log on here and figure out the upgraded hyper text mark up interface. The Bloodhost must expect nothing less from me in order to fulfill their secret meta-prophecy. 

Stay Tuned For 
 a Future Issue of
Fantasy and Science

Friday, October 31, 2014


by John Shirley

     Digging his own grave gave Brian a feeling that was cold and warm at once. It was a feeling he liked. But his arms were tired, his hands sore and the shovel, laden with black soil, was getting heavy. The place he was trying to get to, down in the original grave, was farther than he'd thought it would be. And he had to do his digging in a nice rectangular grave shape. He owed himself that much respect.

     He glanced around at the graveyard. Flat stones, flush with the grass. Wasn't that picturesque. But it was pleasingly lonely out here. Windy, too. Surprisingly chilly for the time of the year. And his hands were getting blistered on the shovel.

     He was going to have to chance the Ditch Witch, after all. Use the grave-digging machine. Risky, though, to use it this time of night. Cops might come.

     Keno needed to come. To do his part...

     Keno was probably too cautious a person to follow through, even without much chance of getting caught. But maybe he could be induced to do it. Pressured into it.

     Were they best friends, really? By default maybe. There were things he had told Keno he'd told no one else. Just last week.

~ ~ ~


     Brian Worliss squinted at Keno, eyes half closed against the California sunlight bouncing off the white-painted table. “You heard me. They were dead.  Are dead.”

     “You saying you’ve seen some real-life living dead, Brian?” Keno asked, blinking.  

     Brian rolled his eyes. “No, dumbass. No, you’re not listening. What I saw, is that living people are dead. It's a paradoxbut they are. In a couple of ways. But the most important way...has to do with time.”

     Keno sucked thoughtfully at the dregs of his double-caramel-mocha-with-a-triple-shot-of-espresso. His bony knee thumped a patchy drum roll against the bottom of the cafe's table. “Please explain.”

     “If you’ll stop thumping the stupid table.” Sighing, Brian put on his yellow tinted sunglasses. It cut the glare and made everything look sepia, like in those old Wisconsin Death Trip photos of dead children.

     He drank some more of his second Red Bull, and got out his pencil. He tapped its eraser on the table, as Keno started thumping his knee again. 

     Brian murmured, “See those kids getting out of the mommy van?”

     They both looked at the small Hispanic kids, three of them, two boys and a girl, each wearing miniature martial arts outfits, karategi togs with white belts. The children ran in their sandals up toward the Kiddy Karate Training Center, farther down the strip mall, their phlegmatic mother following, talking on her cell phone as she trailed behind them.

     “What about ‘em?” Keno asked.

     Brian lowered his voice even more, and leaned toward Keno. “They’re dead, or as good as—and the mom is already dead. She’ll get there first—halfway there already.”

     Keno looked after the little family. “Those kids look pretty damn lively dude. They’re racing each other. And their mom’s all happy-yappin’ on the cell phone.”

     “Sure. But I can see all four in their coffins—or being cremated. I can see one of those kids, when he’s about 50, dying of a heart attack and being shoved in the oven and burned up. The other two I see in their coffins. The girl I see dead on a table in a funeral home—and she’s a real old lady. Their mom will be killed by her husband when she tries to leave him and she’ll be in a closed coffin because he’ll...” His voice trailed off.

     “Ohhhh-kay, so now you’re a megalomaniac imagining you’re a psychic, dude?”

     Keno’s pale, pouchy face somehow disgusted Brian in that moment. Not that it was the first time he’d had the feeling. “I’m not trying to say I have psychic powers. I’m saying I see the inevitability of what will happen to them in my mind real, real, real clearly. It is my imagination, ‘cause I don’t know exactly for real how they’re going to die and what’ll be done with their bodies...but it’s pretty much right. Sure, they could all die together in a car accident, that’s not the point...”

     “So, we’re all mortal and shit? What are you, twelve, you just figured that out? Wait—is this about what happened with your dad dying?”

     Brian picked up his Red Bulland put it back down again. “When you drink coffee you get mean, Keno. ‘Mean on caffeine’. The point is that I can see it so crystal clear, in my mindthat I’ve lost the ability to not see it. And I mean everyone I see...I see them dead.”

     Keno nodded, smirking. “Yeah? I got a nice coffin?”

     “Sure. Because you’re going to law school like about two minutes after you graduate from State, and your dad has money, and you always worked during summer. You’re the only guy I know under forty who actually saves money. You'll have a hella sweet coffin.”

     Uh huh. This is about your old man. Keno picked up his big cup, shook it to confirm it was empty. “Dude, you are even more messed up than I thought.”

     Brian suddenly stood up, his chair falling back with a clatter—surprising himself at the suddenness of the decision to leave; at the quickness of his own motion. He was husky and didn’t usually move that quickly. Automatically, he gathered up his books. “I can’t look at you anymore, Keno. Not because I see you dead—I’ve seen you that way for a long time, with those big lips dried out and pasted on your big teeth. No, dude. I can’t look at you because you’re mean on caffeine. And I can see that’s the real you.”

     Brian walked away, feeling a rush of released anger, as he did. He liked the feeling. Cold and hot and vibrating.

     “Okay whatever!” Keno said, behind him. Calling out, more loudly, “Whatever, douchebag!”

~ ~ ~

     Now, Brian hugged himself against the cold, and rocked in place, making the little seat in the digger creak. His stomach growled. He had some snacks, under the tarp to give him energy to work.

     Don’t eat it now. Timing. This night is all about timing.

     This was, of course, the anniversary of the night with his dad. So—timing.

     Finishing the grave, at least the digging part, wasn’t going to take that long, because of the Ditch Witch brand “Bellhole Bucket” grave digger. But waiting till it was safe to use the digging machine was going to take a while.

     He glanced out the window of the digger, peering past the graveyard fence, toward the golf course. When the lights at the clubhouse bar went out, he’d still had another half hour to wait, to make sure. After that, he figured no one would be close enough to hear the machine start up.

     He wondered if the golfers playing past the edge of the cemetery ever looked past the row of shrubs and thought about the graves over here.

     Probably not. People played golf, stuff like that, so they wouldn’t have to think about death. That was the point of golf, far as Brian could tell. They’d never look past those shrubs, not on purpose.

     But Brian didn’t have a choicehe thought about death because he saw everyone’s death. In his mind’s eye he saw humanity through time, millennia after millennia, as a great big sea of human heads, billions, stretching off in the horizon; they came up to the surface of the sea like babies “crowning”; their heads and shoulders raised up to the tops of waves, and wriggled about, blinking stupidly as they aged, growing old in seconds; then they sank back into the waves of people, vanished, as other  babies rose up, almost instantly becoming adults and dying elders: people popping into and out of existence, like bubbles in sea foam.

     He remembered the scrap book. Dad’s old Civil War Reenactment scrap book.

     About twenty pages into the scrap book were three snapshots of Dad and Brian together, smiling, at a reenactment camp, both in Confederate uniforms—Brian’s uniform was a little too big and Dad’s a little too small. They held dummies of long, early Civil War rifles in their hands. The earliest photo was with Brian as a ten year old, first reenactment his dad had taken him to, both of them offering the same toothy smile. They were both having a good time, in those pictures. First time Brian had been anything like camping with his dad.

     The man in that photo was somehow also the one who’d lain in bed, barely moving for days, staring at the bedroom wall. It started when he got laid off. And maybe he got laid off, mom said, because he gave up the antidepressant.

     Dad started freelance I.T. work, but didn’t get invited back twice, probably because he was so sullen—that’s just what mom said, talking to Brian after she’d had two stiff vodka gimlets. But she was probably right.

     The freelance I.T. work dried up and Dad took to bed. Except to visit the toilet, Dad would lay in for days; lying there in his ironic gym pants and sweatshirt, curled up, staring at the wall...

     Brian’s stomach clenched, thinking about it now. He wanted to start the Ditch Witch. Get this done.  But he waited. A night bird called. Beyond the golf course, a truck gave out a screech with its brakes.

     A flicker at the edge of Brian’s vision made him turn his head. The clubhouse lights were going out; one, two, threeout.

     Wait a little while more, then you can get started.

     He looked at his watch, and decided to see if Keno would take his call. He’d sent him a text message, earlier, but there’d been no reply. Maybe a direct call would work. Keno stayed up late on Fridays, drinking mochas and playing online video games on his computer, sometimes all night.

     Brian got his cell phone out and hit the speed dial for Keno.

     Two rings. “I can’t talk now, I’m all up in Call of Duty and I’m about to get...shit!

     “You got killed, right? So you might as well talk to me.”

     “I couldn’t believe you sent me that stuff by text. What if my folks saw that? They’ve been known to check my texts.”

     “Say it was a joke. Butit’s not. I need you out here in an hour. Come on. You owe me. I gave you a whole bunch of games and—”

     “I am not coming out to the cemetery in the middle of the night and watch you break the law because you gave me some videogames. Couple of years, I’m going to be applying for law school. If we get caught doing that shit at the cemetery, I’d be screwed.”

     “Seriouslyone hour.  It’s going to be really revealing—you don’t realize what my dad was buried with.” Brian hesitated and then said something he’d never said to Keno before: that he was sorry. “I’m sorry.  About the...about being a bitch at the coffee shop.”  Then he hesitated again, and said something he’d never said to anyone before. “You’re my best friend, dude.”

     Then he hung up the phone.

     That should work. He’ll come to talk me out of digging up the coffin. And out of curiosity. That’s so Keno—pretending to care, but it’s about curiosity. About watching and watching.

     Brian got up, opened the little door of the digger’s cab and got out into the chilly night air. Coldor maybe he could feel those bodies under the sod. They were exactly a coffin’s room temperature. It was cold down there.

     He looked across the cemetery, with its endless white and gray and red granite rectangles stretched in perfect spacing across the green lawns. The occasional small willow tree genuflected droopy branches to the dead.

     As he watched, he saw long narrow windows slide open in the grass; hundreds of non-existent windows, all at once opening, revealing the coffins, and then the dead awkwardly sprawled on their backs, exquisitely motionless.  Some withered, some fairly new but sunken-eyed; some in rags and some in nice clothing; some only clothed from the waist up.

     It’s given to me to see it...because of that afternoon alone with Dad...

     He turned away from the endless dead, and went to the shrubs, glancing around for the watchman’s light. But Brian had worked here himself, not quite three months, doing landscaping, sometimes using the digger, and he knew where Gary the night watchman was: Jeff’s Parklands Bar and Grill. Collecting an hourly rate and drinking it up and laughing about it.

     Brian switched on his cell phone’s “flashlight app”, and pointed the screen at the ground, used the feeble beam to pick his way through the bushes to his tarp. He squatted, reached into the tarp folds, found the snacks, tore a  bag open with his teeth, worked the pull tab on the honey nuts can, and gorged, pausing now and then to drink from a can of Red Bull.

     Then he set up his gear, and climbed into the Ditch Witch grave digger; he looked around once more, started the machine up with the key he’d copied in the summer. The digger rumbled, and vibrated; the almost robotic hydraulic arm straightened out, and its bucket swiveled.

     He moved the digger more precisely into position, and made sure the stabilizers were in place. The digger vibrated around him, like it was excited. He chuckled to himself, feeling a chill, like something you feel before you get the flu. The chill was a nudge from a companion. But after a while he turned on the heat in the cab of the digger.

     He gripped the controls and worked the mechanism. The mechanical arm reached stiffly out and dug in, clawing into the earth; he shifted the controls and the digger scooped, dragging the grassy soil back, making it wrinkle like green fabric.

     He kept expecting a cop to come around, and then it’d be all over, but they never showed. This spot was a long way from any house, from anyone who’d call.

     But maybe that was cops, after allthere were double lights sweeping into the parking lot.

     Brian turned off the gravedigger and gazed off across the cemetery, until he was sure: it was Keno’s worn-out old Honda Prelude, parking neatly in a slot of the empty parking lot.

     Brian smiled, chuckled, felt another laughing chill, and restarted the digger, moving it around to the last position. When he switched it off and climbed out, Keno was just trotting up, breathless, stumbling a little.

     “Dude you run like a badly trained extra in a zombie movie,” Brian said.

     Panting, his breath streaming in the light of his cell phone, Keno came to a stop by the newly dug grave. He stared. “I totally cannot believe you did this.”

     “I did. And you don’t have to do anythingexcept one last thing. A little thing.”

     Keno stared at the ground. “Is that really your dad’s coffin down there?”

     Brian looked into the grave. You could see part of the coffin in the silvery-yellow moonlight. Most of the metal box was covered in red-brown dirt. “Yeah, that’s it.”

     Keno blinked down at the partly exposed coffin.  “Oh my God, Brian.” He noticed the crude mechanism at the foot of the grave. “What’s that? You put that stuff there?”

     “Yeah. Everything’s ready. Now, I have to tell you something...” He went to the tarp, tugged out the body bag, unzipped it. “I got this online. Did you know you can order body bags online?”

     “That’s what you wanted to tell me?” Keno’s voice was hoarse.

     “No, dude. Listen. I’m about to tell you.” Brian went to the grave, and tossed the body bag in, so it fell roughly along the line of the coffin lid. “The last day my dad was alive, my mom was asleep downstairs. She was like all up in her valium. And I was in my room, looking at a youtube video. And I heard my dad go from his bedroom and down the hall and down the stairs. I thought, wow, maybe he’s finally coming out of it.

     “Sothen I heard him come back up, like walking real softly on the stairs, and he went back into his bedroom. I had to know if he was thinking of getting up, right?” Brian checked the ropes on the ramp. Looked good. “So then, I go in his room and on the table there’s this prescription bottle of valium, mom’s valium, and an empty fifth of vodka. He’s lying back on the bed, and he’s got my grandma’s silk pillow, like holding it on his chest.” Brian mimed how Dad had held the pillow. “The pillow’s usually in the closet to kinda save it from getting all worn because it’s really old. But it’s the softest pillow we have. And he smiles at me and says that he’s figured something out.” Brian used both hands to heap some more dirt onto the plywood ramp. The digger’s bucket had been sloppy. “That the universe is like a clock that runs down, and people are little clockworks inside it, and they all run down, first living things run down and then the whole thing. And it was better to just get it all done, because that’s peace. Because being alive isn’t peaceful.”

     “What, you think you’re going to bring him back to life?”

     “No, dammit, no. Listenhe said if you looked around you’d see everyone was already dead, even babies were in a waiting room for death. It's all a waiting room. So hellrush the waiting room door and get some peace’. That’s what he said! Said he had lost in life and failed and failed again and couldn’t stand failing anymore. Now the choice was, blow his brains out or hang himselfor use pills and stuff. And if he died, he said, Mom wouldn’t mind too much. ‘She’s fed up with me’. But if he died in a messy way, it’d be ugly and everyone would be way more upset. So, he tells me, he’s swallowed a whole bottle of her valium and washed it down with half a bottle of vodka. And that’s when I saw the pill bottle next to him was empty.”

     “So why didn’t you call an ambulance?”

     “He said if I did, he’d cut his own throat. And right then he pulled this big ol’ steak knife from under the pillow and waved it at me. He said, do me a solid, just one favor for your old Dad, and hold that pillow over my face, because it’ll make it all faster and easier and I won’t have to go through as much when the valium and stuff kill me. And afterwards, he said, you put the pillow under my head. It’s the softest pillow we have. ‘And dying is really the softest pillow, Brian, you remember that. You’ll know when it’s right for you.’ And...”

     “And...?” Keno gaped at him. “You did what?”

     Brian straightened thoughtfully up, brushing dirt from his hands. “I was feeling really numb and strange and I was worried about my mom and he put the knife to one side, and put the pillow over his face with one hand, sort of half-assed pressing it down on his mouth and nose and then he gestured to me with his other hand, like, Come here. And then he put that hand on the knife like to say, Or I cut my throat for your mom to find.  I just felt like I wasn’t even there, really. I sort of saw myself do what he wanted:  I went and pressed grandma’s pillow over his face. I held it down really hard. Put all my weight on it. He wiggled around some but he didn’t really fight it. I was crying and shit, I was sobbing, but I remembered the knife, and that dying from an overdose might be better if I helped him along, and...”

     “You’re telling smothered your dad to death.” Keno stepped back from the grave—back from Brian. “You said you wanted me to help you do some stuff at your dad’s grave gotta know I came here to stop you from whatever you were planning.”

     “Maybe you think that. I know you, though. You came here out of boredom and curiosity and so you wouldn’t have to think about your shit, Keno.”

     “You are so hostile sometimes.” Keno’s eyes widened as a thought struck him.  “Oh wait. If you think you’re gonna kill me for some warped reason and put me in there...”

     Brian turned toward him. He smiled.

     And then Brian reached into the tarp, took out grandma’s silk pillow, with the needlework that said “Family First” on it. He tossed it down onto the dirt of the grave, and then jumped down after it, landing hard atop his father’s coffin. It thumped under his feet, and the sound was not quite hollow.

     “You feel safer, Keno?” Brian moved the body bag out of the way, picked it up, and sat down on the coffin, his head toward the gravestone end. He unzipped the bag, and put his feet into it, worming in one leg at a time.

     “Brian! Get the hell out of there!”

     When he had wriggled far enough into the bag, Brian sat up, reached out, and got hold of the ropes he’d knotted together, and then lay back. Then he started to tug on them. “Yeah. I smothered my old Sarge in the Confederate Army.” Dirt started to slip down into the grave, onto the body bag. “I killed my Dad! Didn’t think I was doing that. I thought it was the valium that really killed him but my mom said, No, she said there was only two valium left and the vodka was almost gone. She hadn’t refilled the prescription yet.

     SoDad was lying. Mom didn’t tell the police that. She didn’t seem to care that much.” More dirt slipped into the grave. He tugged harder on the rope—the dirt was heavy but the angle of the ramp helped, and he had it fixed at bottom so it wouldn’t slip off, soon. Dirt slid heavily on the bagon his feet, his legs and thighs. “He didn’t take enough valium to kill him. He justwanted me to do it. He hesitated, and then decided it didn't matter, now, if Keno thought he was crazy. I’ve heard him talking in my ear, saying Look around, they're all dead.  And death is the softest pillow. 

      “You've heard your dad...

      “Yeah. So...I’m going. And I want to do it here, my grave with his, and I don’t want anybody to know what happened to me. Because if they do, they'll dig up my body. I want this done my way, Keno. It's likeI’m going to the reenactment camp with my old man. And you,  Keno are going to help me fill this in! You’re gonna smooth it over!” A lot more dirt came whispering in now.    

      This is getting real.  

      Brian could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He couldn’t back out of this, not in front of Keno; not in front of his dad. “My mom will think I ran off and became a homeless drunk or some shit and she won’t care about that much, either.”

     Keno swore under his breath and called down to Brian, “Okay, if you don’t get out in sixty seconds I’m calling the cops!”

     “No you won’t, Keno! Because if they get me out of here alive I’ll tell them you helped me with all this, and then you won’t get into a law school and I’ll lie my ass off about you forever. I’m not pranking you, man, that is a promise! I got it all written out, folded up in my wallet with my I.D., and if the paramedics and cops come I’ll hand it to them if I’m conscious and if I’m not they’ll find it! AndI’m going to say you helped me kill my dad, too.”

     “You shit-bird little creep!”

     “I swear right now that’s what I’ll do. I swear it! On my soul! On my dad’s soul!” Brian pulled harder at the ropes, trying to get it to tilt its big load of dirt on him. He ground his teeth with the effort, the skin on his hands starting to bleed, his back aching—but he tilted the plywood at last, dumping a big heap of dirt down on him. Now it was pretty deep at one end, almost covering him, leaving only his face. There was more space left in the grave than he’d counted on, though. But that was up to Keno.

     Keno let out a bark of sad laughter. “Brian you do realize you’ll smother to death, right? You think about how that’s going to feel?”

     Brian hesitated—for maybe two seconds. Yeah I know! Seems right to me.”

     Keno snorted. “No chance, no way I’m going to do it.”

     But it didn’t matter. Dirt was still slipping in, more and more, a lot of it was falling on his face, and the board had fallen over that—he’d be buried soon enough.

     Inhale! Take it in! Don’t wimp out! Inhale the dirt! Make it part of you!

     Was that his dad’s voice telling him to inhale? Sounded like it.

     The dirt was going into his mouth. The taste of it. The choking...

     That’s when Brian changed his mind.

     He could still get out of the grave. There was a good possibility...

     He heard Keno’s voice, faintly. Was he calling the cops? Was he yelling?

     His cell phone. He could call Keno...

     Brian scrabbled at his clothing...

     He couldn’t reach it. It was in his back pants pocket, weighted under his body, under grave dirt.


~ ~ ~

     Keno was yelling at the open grave. “You are stoned or stupid or both, Brian! I’m not playing this game anymore! I’ve got the cops on the line!”

     Anyway he had the 911 operator—but she’d put him on hold, almost instantly after she’d picked up. Sounded busy. He’d heard the city had laid off some people.

     Cell phone pressed to his ear, Keno started back toward his car. No reason he had to be here.  He was just going to tell 911 that Brian had threatened suicide here, said he was going to kill himself at his dad’s grave. So it wasn’t going to be his fault, no matter what.

     “911, can you repeat your emergency now sir?”

     “Uh, yes ma’am...A friend of mine says he’s committing suicide in the cemetery. At his dad’s grave.”

     They'd get there on time. Brian would be fine. The asshole.

~ ~ ~

     Walking kind of crookedly between the graves, Gary combed his fingers through his beard, something he did so much his beard hair was divided into three parts. Lights in the cemetery, go check on it, Gary. Should have turned off his cell phone. Ten minutes after his shift. Almost his turn to play pool, too. Wondered if the boss knew he’d been in the bar and not out here watching the grounds.

     He lit a Marlboro, breathed the smoke into his lungs, and coughed a little. He was 66, too old to give up smoking. That’s how he looked at it.

     Got to check that one spot over by the golf course. His supervisor, on the phone, had said something about those lots by the birds of paradise bushes.

     Gary blew smoke at the skyand tripped over a vase of silk flowers. But he  managed to not quite fall over. He got his footing and went on.

     Hell with this. Too damn drunk to be stumbling around out here.

     As it was, he almost fell in a grave. A raw, open grave.

     “What the je-beezus,” Gary muttered, combing his beard with one hand, flicking ash in the grave with another. This grave had been filled in. Somebody had been fooling with the Ditch Witch, it looked like. The machine was lined up by the grave. Vandals. Souvenir hunting Goths maybe. Little shits. 

     He couldn’t leave the grave like this. Supervisor would blame him for not being out here. Know he hadn’t been on the job.

     Gary sighed and climbed up into the Ditch Witch.

~ ~ ~

     Brian spat some more dirt from his mouth—and managed to get his arms up past the soil—he could get a little air now. He could live. Keno would send the police...

     Then he heard something that made him go rigid, like he’d been hit by a big electric current.

     Someone had started the grave digger. The rumble of the machine was in the ground, around him. Fresh dirt fell onto him. Was it Keno? Gary? 

     He opened his mouth to scream at them—and soil filled his mouth again.

     He spat dirt. Most of it came back down into his mouth, a plug, blocking off his shout. Keno! Gary! Someone!

     He couldn’t quite get it out. Wait!

     More dirt came down, from above. A lot of it. I’ve changed my mind! Don’t finish it! Turn off the machine! Call the police!

     Brian used all his strength, then, and pushed, forced his arms up through soil, working against the weight of the board, against the mass of dirt and debris. He got his hands clear—he could feel cool air on them.

     He waved, trying to signal, Wait! I want to live!

     He wanted to live now more than he ever remembered wanting it before—he wanted to live more than he had since he was a little kid waking up on Christmas morning. More than that.

     Hey Keno! I want to live! Hey Dad, I want to live! Everyone up there! Listen to me!

     Brian almost managed to sit up but the grave dirt was coming in heavier, and heavier, and whoever was operating the Ditch Witch couldn’t see him from where he was.

     The weight of the grave dirt was pressing Brian down—and he was suddenly aware of the metallic, rigid resistance of his own father’s coffin under his back, hard against his shoulder blades, pressing him up into the soil that, at the same time, was crushing down. He thought he felt something else. Yeah.

      Arms. Hands. Tugging from below. A clutch as soft as mist, but relentless. Pulling him down.


~ ~ ~

     Gary had just put the Ditch Witch away when he heard the sirens, saw the two cop cars, their lights whirling. Shit. Had the boss called the cops?

     Well it didn’t matter. All the cops knew who he was.

     “Hey guys,” Gary told the first two patrolmen, trudging toward him with flashlights in their hands. “It’s me!”

     “Gary?” It was that black cop, what’s his name. Officer Dewey. Young gaping punk of a rookie with him.

     “Hey Officer Dewey.”

     “You see a kid out here? A teenager?”

     “Naw! I saw a flashlight or something, went to check. Probably somebody at the golf course. Nothing going on out there.”

     “Got a call that some kid was committing suicide.”

     “I’d have seen ‘em. Prank call, man. You guys been pranked.”

     “Somebody’s going to get his ass in trouble, then. Nothing happening out that way, by the golf course?”

     “Nope. We had some repair work on a grave there. Did that shit earlier.” He started to toss his cigarette butt away, then remembered he was with cops, and kept it. “Got dirt tracked all over the place, is all.”

     Dewey nodded, flashing his light over the cemetery, and turned away. “Goddamn kids. Pain in the ass.” He shined his light on Gary’s face. “You been drinking, Gary?”

     “Me? Naw!”

     “I can smell it, Gary. You don’t drive, hear me? You walk home.”

     “Whatever, Officer. Hell I can walk. Nice night.”

     Smoke a bowl and walk home. Look at the stars, be glad you're alive, anyhow, unlike all these decomposing bodies out here, under the sod.


~ ~ ~

     It was taking a lot longer to choke to death than he’d thought. Maybe it only seemed like a long time. But he was still here. He still had time...

     Want. To. Live.

     He pushed up again, but the pressure holding him down was so heavy. So insistent. He couldn’t make any headway against it...

     He'd rejected the world. So it was rejecting him too. He could feel the weight of the whole world, pushing down.

     Dad’s coffin was hard, under Brian's back.

     But that old pillow...

     The pillow was soft.


            ~ end  ~                      

Click Moon Above for
The Compleat 2014
featuring All 5 Stories
bundled together
with the editor's
& artists
here on the
of Fantasy and
Science Fiction


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
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

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
appearance in the Freezine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Owen R. Powell's

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)

Gene Stewart's

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

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,
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

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

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

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

G. Alden Davis's

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

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

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

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

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.)