Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hallowe'en Piñata Issue ☠

Welcome to our 21st issue:  the FREEZINE has come of age, after a fashion. So we decided to throw a party, on Halloween, to celebrate the fact.  We were initially just going to serialize Edgar Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838). 

Then word got out there may be a Halloween issue in the works—and veteran freezine author John Shirley sent me a short story tailored for the season—and the word grew from there. After I told my friend Adam Bolivar that we were looking to fill this issue, on its final two days, with last-minute surprise tricks and treats made out of words, he immediately contacted the rest of his Crimson Circle—the excellent cadre of weird poets D. L. Myers, Ashley Dioses, KA Opperman, and all four of them promptly sent me their submissions to line the papier-mâché stomach of this year's only edition of our webzine. No sooner than I'd begun receiving these dark and provocative poems, than word got out to Marge Simon and Bruce Boston—each of whom have earned their respective credentials in the writing and poetry community—and they, too, submitted material for our consideration. Marge sent along some of her wonderful watercolors, to boot. All of the pieces fell into place. Ten authors. Forty-six entries. One serialized novel. Twenty-seven chapters. Seventeen poems. One short story. Nine living writers. A Halloween to be memorialized for eternity.   

Without further ado, allow me to introduce our authors and their respective tales for this, one of the heftier editions of the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction: Poe. Shirley. Boston. Simon. Bolivar. Opperman. Dioses. Myers. Longshaw. Lawton.  As long-time subscribers and readers know, this digital fanzine hosted on Blogger was incepted into our daily datastream back in the summer of 2009. That is when a host of microscopic nanocomputers—sent back in time to that innocuous year from our own emissaries of the distant future—managed to possess my central nervous system and override my synapses in order to get me to put out this blog.  We've been led to believe this fleet of "nano-computers" were embedded within neutrinos, which must've traveled through a black hole (or possibly an entire series of them, threaded through quasars) and somehow managed to be directed back in time to the aforementioned date and place (eight years ago now), which happened to be here in the Salt Lake Wasatch valley, where I was living and working as a patient transporter in the radiology department of a local hospital. I still don't know if my being around radiology equipment had anything to do with narrowing down their target to me personally—but whatever the methodology implemented, I and a small assortment of devoted readers of the fantastic and macabre today remain forever grateful their calculated experiment gained fruition and has thus far corralled over sixty stories and approaching thirty writers, as well as a handful of artists, to submit their word-visions and eye-candy for the perusal of anyone surfing the worldwide web searching for something better. 

The nanohorde (as I've referred to them constantly over the years, also known as the BloodHost) appear to be most interested in our eschewing commercial advertising and also seem pretty keen on the idea of the zine being free.  I myself have had plenty of time and ample evidence to begin putting together all the clues as to why the human race in the far-flung future would take such care, not to mention the cost, to achieve this specific goal: the creation of an early 21st century online science fiction, fantasy, and horror fanzine whose lifeblood remains love and not money.  It doesn't take a genius to see where we're headed as a society these days—hellbent and out of control, skidding on the rails of a crazy train—as the mass collective lure of money and profiteering collude with our best and worst intentions until...well...you know.  Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to stop and smell the roses. In the case of this freezine—to stop and read a short story or two—to read some imaginative tales or poetry that might snap us, if only momentarily, out of our mass-transit trance as we glide like automatons towards our final dance.  Excuse me, I digress. 

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
by Edgar Poe

The above image hyperlinks to the preface of Poe's legendary 1838 novel, considered by Jorge Luis Borges to be his best. (A million thanks to Andrea Beré for the tasty cover image shown here—it's from the Spanish website Fabulantes). There's something very telling in that Borges would think so highly of the novelas Poe himself felt the book to be just "silly," after it was published. Perhaps that has something to do with his sense of general embarrassment for attempting to pull a "fast one" on the reading public of his day.  The novel was constructed in a calculated manner so as to fool the general layperson into thinking the events written about actually happened.  Maybe Borges himself was so smitten with the novelty of that idea, that he went a tad overboard in describing his enthusiasm for the novel—perhaps we'll never know.  All I know is that while I was reading it, I was struck at just how suspenseful and outright horrific the turn of events have proven to be. This is a harrowing tale, violent and bloody and at turns so murderous and brutal as to have given me pause, and wonderIf someone were to make this into a bonafide R-rated movie todayI can only suggest it would not be for the squeamish nor for the impressionable among us. Pym's account of what transpires upon his ocean voyage to the antarctic remains one of the most harrowing stories I've yet stumbled across, as a reader.  I hope you've enjoyed the safety of your own couch or wherever it happens to be you may have read these installments, because accompanying Pym on his travels to the bottom of our planet is certainly not something any of us would wish upon ourselves, nor practically to our own worst enemies.  I am grateful to the University of Virginia site and to Claudia Kay Silverman for designing and creating their manuscript of the novel for the public to access; it's a wonderful resource our freezine and readership have benefited from greatly.  I have since taken the time (and am still in the process of editing) to further correct any typographical errors I may yet find at the U of VA site's typescript—in some spots, I've already restored missing sentences—with the aid of a used Penguin paperback edition (1975).  All images I used are in the public domain, including the chapter plates culled from various original editions of the novel.  This novel went on to become hugely influential, spurring on H. P. Lovecraft to pen his fabulous At The Mountains of Madness, just to name one of the more prominent cases.

As followers and subscribers of this blog know, all entries, be they chapters, poems, or stand alone stories hyperlink together for ease of reading, especially for those who may happen to stumble upon our webzine after the fact, thumbing through the hyperlinks on their greasy touchscreens.  The blog archive in the right margin opens all twenty-one issues' branches, revealing a forest of tales embedded in the landscape of cyberspace. In the beginning, there was some controversy over whether a Fantasy and Science Fiction website should stoop so low as to disseminate itself from a mere blog—there seemed to be a predilection toward the FREEZINE being able to brag about its own proper "dot-com" site, according to a small consensus of critics. Although that may become a possibility, eventually, as this bloggersite evolves over the course of the following months and years (Google-powered), it seems to me that remaining a mere blog turns out to be rather incidental at best, and I guess vaguely bothersome to a certain mindset, at most.  In the end, it's someplace in the world we know about, and how to locate. Such it is with all magical kingdoms. After all is said and done, the stories remain for our reading pleasure, for as long as we have internet access, although yes—we took a hit when Photobucket decided to pull their third party hosting rights (and charge an exorbitant fare to relinquish them back) which resulted in the removal of hundreds of wonderful artistic imagesI've been dutifully restoring them, one at a time. There ain't no way I'm about to pay that fee. So bear with me as I continue to do so, using alternate means, copying pegs bounced off harddrives, and before long, all the colorful artistry which necessarily complements the stories here will be resurrected and shine forth their strange light upon the writings themselves, adding dimension. Since this particular fanzine exists on the world wide web, I've found that its marriage of images and words to be of the essence.  It's just not the same reading online without the visual accompaniment—maybe that's just me, after all—to while away the online hours with a modicum of comfort and pleasure for the eye.  In a sense, this issue represents a rebirth of the Freezine. Stay tuned during the coming months for another issue to pop up unexpectedly, or something. Probably not until March, 2018—but at least we made it through 2017 without falling off the rails completely. I have hopes though fewer expectations for what the following year will bring us.  Thanks to all artists and writers who contributed to this fantastic issue, and to all a good night. It's time to catch up on Stranger Things.  


Jhon Longshaw
Sacraments of Stellar Gnosis

D. L. Myers
The Demon Corn

D. L. Myers
The Acolytes of Samhain

D. L. Myers
The Death of Twilight

Ashley Dioses
Sweet Renegade

KA Opperman
Masque Macabre

KA Opperman
The Samhanach is Coming

KA Opperman
The Jack-o'-Lantern's Trail

KA Opperman
Halloween Awaits

Adam Bolivar
A Jack & Three Ladies

Shaun Lawton
Ode to Yuggoth

Marge Simon
All Hallow's Eve

Marge Simon
The Samhain Gift

Marge Simon
The Last Night in October

Bruce Boston
Halloween Hunchback

Bruce Boston
The Nightmare Collector

Bruce Boston & Marge Simon
Carnival of Ghosts

John Shirley


by John Shirley

art by Shasta Lawton

It was a hot afternoon and her fingers were slick with sweat as she worked the shears along the edges of the glaring face. Today and tomorrow, it was Chun’s job to cut the faces from the dangling sheet of rubber.

Some factories had machines that did all that, her cellmate Bao-Yu had said. “But here we are the machines.” Bao-Yu was across the room from her, touching up the masks with spray paint. Chun wished they could talk, while they worked, but she wasn’t allowed to leave her station for hours yet.

They were in a Shen Yang labor camp, after all, not a regular manufacturing site, though in truth conditions weren’t much better in those other places. People got paid a little more, in an ordinary factory, and they worked perhaps twelve hours a day instead of the fifteen Chun and the others worked. And they weren’t likely to be beaten.

There was a hand operated machine in the main workshed that pressed out forms for the Halloween Masks, before they came here to Chun and Bao-Yu and the other girls; here the masks were trimmed, and connected to the straps that held them on the wearer’s head. The masks, it was said, were for the American custom of Halloween, and sometimes they reminded Chun a little of the images displayed during the Festival of Hungry Ghosts, to placate the lost ghosts of ancestors. But the American Halloween seemed to Chun to be something else entirely. This mask, intended for export to America, didn’t have the plaintive, pitiful look of a hungry ghost. This monster’s face was angry, cruel, wild, and absurd all at once. It was a furred man, partly wolf, its mouth agape to show fangs, its pointed ears tufted, the deep lines of its face suggesting it was straining with all its will to leap into the real world and kill whatever stood in its way.

She would have to trim more than a thousand of these today. Yesterday it had been a green-faced demon with bright red lips; the day before she’d assembled the plastic bones of dancing, mockingly hateful skeletons with glowing red eyes.

Today she seemed to feel the three years she’d been imprisoned here, and the three years that awaited her, like crushing weights. Her arms ached; it was mid afternoon, a long time till the twenty minute dinner break. Her mouth was dry. The Halloween masks were not just made of rubber, there were other chemicals in them too, and working around them for five days made her eyes burn, her fingers swollen.

Sometimes when she was feeling tired and sick it seemed to her that the Halloween masks sensed her vulnerability; and then, from the corners of her eyes, she could catch them looking directly at her, waiting for her weakness to increase. As if they were waiting for the right moment when they would snap their jaws at her…

The wearier Chun grew, the sharper the smell of rubber and chemicals, till she thought she might throw up. But last time she’d vomited on the job the supervisor had shouted at her, slapped the back of her head and said to stop malingering. If she slowed down her work too much, or went to the bathroom more than once a shift, he would jab her in the belly with his baton.

Did the people across the sea know how these masks were made? Did they know about the labor camps, and the factories where more such decorations were made…where those strange horrible bearded “Christmas” figures were sewn together, with the blow-up man in the white and red suit and black boots: the “Santa” who lived inside a transparent plastic globe, seeming to delight in a perpetual blizzard. Or the eyeless reindeer made of blinking lights. Did the Americans know about the people who worked so long, worked until they sickened, for so little, making these bizarre trinkets destined for garage boxes or landfills?

Chun reached up with her clippers to trim another face free of the sheet, feeling her joints grinding with the motion. She snipped it out and laid the limp, bestial face on the work table, face down, so that its inverted inner face watched her. She started to attach the flexible straps…and then the scene darkened, shrank to a murky picture at the end of a tunnel. She felt herself swaying, close to falling. She heard the supervisor shouting at her, telling her to stop pretending or he would get the electric shocker and really wake her up and…

She tried to focus her eyes. She was rushing down the tunnel, toward the mask on the table; toward its wide-open black mouth.

She didn’t really believe in the old ancestral worship her grandfather had practiced. But she didn’t believe in the People’s Republic, either. She had no one but her grandfather to call upon for help. No one but grandfather, and the ancestors, the lonely ghosts who looked for a chance to help so they would be set free from this coarse world…

So she cried out to them.

Use your strength, grandmothers, grandfathers—your strength is great! Use your strength to defend me! 

Flying through whirling darkness, Chun called with all her soul, all the energy of her anger and all her frustration. She called to those who wait beyond the darkness…

The tunnel ended. She was back in the shed, still standing, staring at the face on the table.

Its mouth was moving. It was speaking to her…

You have been heard. For many years they have called to us, without knowing it. Now your call has lifted their voices, so that we hear them clearly; it has lifted their masks of summoning. Oh how they tantalized us! Their icons cried out to us, but we could not respond. It was never quite enough. Something more was needed. 

But now we answer. You have given us what was needed. And now we will respond. You have called us and we will come to you.”


The Ouija board was a big-ass fail. Just a tired old disappointment. Maura got annoyed when Julie tried to force the planchet to form messages from her ex-boyfriend who wasn’t even dead. Apart from that zoggy bullshit nothing happened with the Ouija board.

 “Ohhhh well, let’s do shots,” Gwen said, but that was pretty much her answer for any boredom challenge.

They were in the basement of Maura’s house, with the lights out and candles lit. All three of them in their lame costumes, sitting with big ol’ Gwen, the hefty Goth girl—not really fat, exactly, just big, with the bulk of a linebacker. And little Julie, a Filipino girl who was almost small enough to be a midget.

Cliff had said, “You could fit two Julies in a Gwen, you totally should, and have two friends in one, and save on ticket prices and shit.” Then he’d made that donkey sound he called laughing.

Mom had gone to a Halloween Party, one that Maura so totally did not want to go to, at the Stephenson’s house. It would be mostly middle-aged people playing old Alice Cooper songs and wearing costumes rented from shops. And anyway, Maura didn’t want to see her mom get drunk and whorey. Especially not at a party. Mom waited exactly one month after the divorce to start whoring around and sloppily draping herself on guys at parties. It was gross.

Then Mom would be hung over and insist on their going to Sunday mass so she could skulk into confession. Anybody within ten yards of the confessional could hear Mom crying in there. A real drama queen.

No, uh uh, not that party. But this wasn’t much better. Three teen girls wishing they were with three college boys instead of each other. Maura stuck in her Green Man costume, tights and a plastic mask with some fake plants stapled to it. The costume was left over from the school play, where they’d said, “You’re going to be the Green Man” and she’d said, “Can’t I be the Green Girl?” and they said no, that’s not the legend.

 “We have lame costumes,” Maura said, looking at Gwen’s. “Julie’s is kinda okay but…mostly just lame.” Everyone was sick of zombies by now…

Gwen had wedged herself into a ridiculous Catwoman outfit from Batman Rising, a costume she’d mostly made herself that was only going to make guys snigger behind her back. And Julie was in her Evil Fairy outfit—she looked like Tinkerbell gone all zombie. They were drinking Jagermeister shots, which always made Julie sick. “If you drink enough shots, Julie,” Maura said, “you could throw up on yourself and it’d make your costume better.”

They all laughed at that. But somehow today Maura couldn’t feel like she was part of anything even while she was laughing along with her friends. Gwen and Julie both looked so loser. Julie was so eager to try to be “edgy” with them but really she was just another Catholic girl, planning to go to Community college, have a job in a dentist’s office, and then get married and have kids.

Who’s the losiest loser here? Julie asked herself, thinking of the song by Princess Doggie.

Who’s the Losiest Loser here 

Who’s the one with facebook fake up 

Who’s the Losiest Loser here 

Who’s the one with fucked up makeup 

“Maybe me,” Maura said, taking a shot of tequila from the bottle sitting on the Ouija board.

 “Maybe you what?” Julie asked.

“Maybe I’ll get sick from mixing Jagermeister and tequila.” She did a shot. “Oh yuck, that didn’t go down good.” Her stomach felt like some hand was wrenching at it.

“What if your mom comes home early?”

Maura shrugged. “So what? She’ll be so drunk she won’t notice what we’re doing. Or she’ll pretend she doesn’t.”

“We could find a party, there’s some, um, somewhere,” Julie said.


“I don’t know. But there have to be. We can call around. There’s that Laura Ginsler party but she’s such a Miss Thang snobby-ass.”

“She is, too,” Maura said. “All T no shade.”

“I’ve still got half of that Hawaiian hesh ciggie,” Gwen said.

 “Ciggie? Who calls them ciggies?” Maura said, rolling her eyes.

 “You’re, all, like, in a bad mood,” Gwen said, rooting around in her pocket sized black taffeta trimmed purse.

 “Yeah I am in a bad mood. You should like that, you being all Goth and stuff. Goths dress like bad moods.”

“No, that’s not what it is.” Gwen ran her stubby fingers through her red and black streaked hair. Then she went into one of her jolting changes of topic. “Oh! Let’s go on the roof!”

Julie blinked at her. “The roof?”

“Yeah! We can smoke up there and watch people on the street. We could throw water balloons at people. We might get some guys to come and check it out.”

“Oh god, listen to her,” Maura laughed. “You’re a worse whore than my mom.”

“Not worse than mine.”

“Your mom just sleeps with your dad.”

“Uh, hello, that’s what you think. Do you have a ladder?”


It was a little cold on the roof, but it wasn’t raining, and was, actually, pretty tight up there, Maura thought.

There was just one cloud in the blue-black night sky. “That cloud is shaped like a band aid,” Gwen said. And it was. The thin dirty-looking cloud was stretched over the blister-like moon but didn’t hide much. The cloud gave the moon a red halo, like blood on a bandage, and seemed to make the face of the man in the moon stand out more sharply, so you could see every bit of it, even the crinkle lines at the corners of his eyes…

Or maybe it was just the Hawaiian weed making it seemed that way. She saw the lips of the man in the moon move, then. Yeah, the hesh, probably.

She sighed and turned to look at Gwen and Julie. Gwen’s four water balloons were sacrifices made from the four condoms she kept in her purse. She’d carried them for months; hopelessly, really, so not much of a sacrifice. Gwen and Julie sat cross legged just above the front edge of the roof, their feet right by the rain gutter, looking down at the street. Across the street two groups of small children were walking along in costume, shepherded by parents and older siblings. The children tittered and waved their plastic candy bags. Some of them ran, and skidded to a stop when they were reined in by their parents. Orange glows studded rows of houses, irregularly, where people had put out Jack O’Lanterns. Across the street the Castlemans had a more elaborate display, with Styrofoam tombstones and one of those dancing skeletons with the glowing bones and red eyes.

“What if they dug down under those fake tombstones,” Maura said, “and found real bodies under each one?”

“Ha-a-a,” Gwen cackled. “That’d be awesome…”


“Who said that” Maura asked, looking down in the bushes. She half expected to see Cliff there, trolling them.

“Said what?” Julie asked, looking at her.

“I thought I heard a man’s voice say awesome after Gwen did.”

“She’s going crazy crazy cra-zyyyyy, ” Gwen chanted, making a scared face and pointing at Maura. 

They all three cracked up at that. When that calmed down, Maura said, “That hesh is good. Is there any left?”

“Just a whatsit, what my dad calls it…a roach.” Gwen held it up in her black gloved fingers and looked at it so close her eyes almost crossed. “Teensy.”

“That skeleton can dance, like on a motor,” Julie said. “I didn’t know they could do that.”

“Oh yeah they got all kinds that move around now,” Maura said, suddenly bored again. “Skeletons that come down on strings and shit. Wish I hadn’t mixed Jager and tequila. I’m like, about to spout orange goo.”

“You feel sick?” Julie asked. “You should drink a glass of water.” Her mom was a nurse and some of it had rubbed off.

“You could suck the water out of one of these condoms,” Gwen said, holding it up seductively in her palm.

Maura laughed and then said, “Don’t make me laugh, I might puke.”

But that made them laugh more.

Maura looked back at the dancing skeleton Halloween decoration, and saw it was now dancing to the edge of the Castleman’s yard. “Wow it can move forward and backwards too, look…”

They stared. Gwen said, “Whaaaaaat? It must be on a rail or something.”

“Wow, that’s a good illusion,” Julie said. “Really really good. Looks so real.”

“I think you said the same thing three times, Julie…Oh! Here comes Cliff, get the condoms ready…” 

“Eee-ewww, with Cliff?” Gwen asked, screwing up her face.

“I mean the balloons, retard.”

“I know you did. Here’s one balloon for you and one for you.”

Cliff was walking down the sidewalk toward Maura’s house. He was tall and awkward; he had narrow shoulders and wide hips and the sagging pants he wore, to be all hip-hop, just made his hips look worse. He had his hair teased up in a faux hawk and he was wearing his worn out Oakland Raiders jacket open over a Necro t-shirt. He had one hand in his coat, where he concealed a bottle in a paper sack, probably a forty of that horrible ale he liked. As he walked, Cliff kept staring at that dancing skeleton in the Castleman’s yard. The Halloween decoration looked like it was making little warning runs at him, as if it was preparing to rush him. He just looked at it and laughed. Even from here Maura knew he was stoned, the way he gaped and stared and laughed.

“He hasn’t seen us,” Julie said.

Gwen put a finger over her lips to signal for quiet, and then crept across the roof, hunched down, toward the porch, carrying the condom water balloon. She raised the balloon; it jiggled obscenely in her hand as Cliff walked across the lawn, just missing a patch of dog waste, toward the front door.

Then Julie giggled and Cliff looked up—he saw her. “Whoa, are you guys having a—”

Whatever stupid thing he was going to say was cut short by the impact of a water balloon, hitting him just above the crotch and bursting nicely. “My aim is truuuuuue!” Gwen shouted triumphantly.

Maura and Julie were throwing theirs; Julie missed, was probably not really trying to hit Cliff. Maura got him in the left leg as he backed away, hollering, “Oh that blows! You guys buh-low!”

“Trick or fucking treat, Cliff!” Maura yelled, laughing.

Then, backing up, he blundered right into the dog poo, and knew it immediately. German shepherd poo. Big. “Oh fuuuuuuuck! That so blows! Oh my fucking God! You bitches made me step in dog shit!”

The girls laughed, Julie with her hand clamped over her mouth, Gwen almost falling off the roof in her mirth.

“Use the hose to wash it off!” Julie shouted, tittering between words, pointing at the hose by the front door. “The hose!”

“No way! You guys are gonna nail me again!”

“We’re out of condoms, you’re safe, retard!” Maura yelled. “If we’re out of condoms we’re not safe,” Gwen said, as Cliff went to use the hose. “So sad. So sad.”

As if Gwen ever needs one, Maura thought.

She looked at Julie who was automatically covering her braces with her hand as she laughed at Cliff—he was hopping around on one foot trying to use the hose to spray the poop off a shoe.

A few minutes later, Cliff was on the roof, sitting with them, hugging his wet legs, his forty of cheap ale beside him. He’d gotten most of the poo off so he only smelled like it a little and the cloud of marijuana smoke he brought made it go away. He passed them his pipe; Maura and Gwen took a hit. Julie said, “Nuh uh, I had enough already. I would but I’m afraid I might fall off! I mean we’re on a roof…”

“’She paid the price of smoking dope’,” Cliff brayed. “’Girl falls off roof, news at eleven!’”

He and Gwen laughed and Julie smiled, covering her braces with her hand again but Maura was feeling depressed and cold, all of a sudden. She looked down at the Castleman’s yard. Something was missing. No skeleton. “Where’s that skeleton gone? Did they take it in?”

Gwen looked at the house where the skeleton had capered. “Must’ve. He’s gone! That sucks ass. He was the cutest guy around here.”

Julie laughed and said, “Don’t be mean to Cliff…”

She said something else too, and Cliff replied, but Maura didn’t really hear what any of them said, now. A feeling of pressure was spreading, pushing down on her from above, as if the atmospheric pressure was suddenly all mad heavy; sounds were hushed and distant, as if they couldn’t push through the thick, laden air.

A movement drew her to look, with difficulty, to the left—and she saw the skeleton from the Castleman’s yard climbing up onto the roof of the porch.

Hallucination. The dope. 

But she didn’t believe it was the dope. Especially when Gwen yelled, loud enough to penetrate the thick air. “How’d they make that thing climb up here!” Even that shout came out muted, like a voice heard when you’re swimming underwater.

As Maura watched, the skeleton pulled itself up like a gymnast from Cirque du Soleil: up and then a flip and it landed neatly on the roof—but it didn’t come at them, though Cliff and Julie were screaming and Gwen was laughing hysterically. It kept going upward. It jumped into the air, spinning around, a perfect ballet pirouette, its bony fingers waving like ribbons in a wind, singing to itself in some forgotten language. It sounded like some guttural old language from Europe, like you’d expect Vikings to talk.

Up the wicked skeleton went, dancing its way into the air, defying gravity. Was it a flying machine, a balloon?

She knew it wasn’t. Something was whispering to her…something was explaining…

She heard Cliff shout, “Awesome, fucking awesome!”

And the whispering male voice said, as it had before, “Awesome…”

But it meant something else. Maura felt awe when she saw those the skeleton summoned…

She stood up to watch as the air filled with dark forms, shapes in black and red and bone white, glittering eyes and clutching hands…

And a thumping came from somewhere and everywhere, regular as a dance beat. The summoned throng descended, and they capered in dance.

All around Maura’s house, the dark spirits danced. And Maura, standing now, simply watched, swaying to the beat from the drum that was a thrumming of the air itself.

“Oh,” she said. She couldn’t hear her own voice. But she was saying, “Oh. Oh.”

The skeleton’s dance was a summoning, every turn drawing ever more furies from the stunned and sickly air, the pregnant density of the atmosphere birthing cannibalistic witches and vicious, sparklefree vampires and icy-eyed slashers in ski masks and masks of human skin and hockey masks. Demons formed and slid down the sky, as if sliding on invisible stalactites; white winged angels turned black and cruel; friendly ghosts became hatefully unfriendly; wolf faced men gnashed and howled.

A great, swelling crowd of lunatic figures danced around Maurafigures that had once been ornaments on Halloween lawns, and had once been costumes, and had once been images in movies and in posters and in books, dancing now in mad Samhain glee; in Dionysian delight: obscenely, profanely, mockingly, satirically, but in deadly earnest, surrounding her house. Some detached from the crowd to chase a car down the street, leaping on it, covering it, tearing open the steel roof as if it were thin cardboard, laughing at the screams from within as it crashed, jigging in the flames rising from the burning car…

She looked over at Gwen who was standing, mouth open, shaking her head as she stared at the thronging masquerade of dark spirits, smiling and then frowning and then smiling and then frowning again. Clinging to Gwen, Julie was weeping, her shoulders shaking.

The thickness was still pressing in on Maura, and she felt it whisper urgently to her.

Give them to us, and thus sign your pledge. Give them to us, before we rise and take them. Give them to us and you may join us.”

Maura thought about her mother, and that party and the priest who’d put his hand up her dress when she was twelve, and her father not returning her calls, and her teachers who wanted the class to be over even more than the students did, and her friends whom she didn’t really like much…

“Okay,” she said. She could barely hear her own voice. “Sure.”

You know what to do.”

“Yes.” She moved toward Gwen and Julie, finding it hard to push through the thick air, but she came up behind them, Julie turning a questioning, startled face toward her—

She shoved them both. Julie had a good grip on Gwen, and they both went quite neatly off the roof, falling into the macabre throng.

His face squeezed into its own Halloween mask of terror, Cliff was just getting up, swinging a fist at her. It hit her glancingly. She hardly felt it.

She squatted, grabbed the forty by its neck, smashed it on the roof, swung the broken end up into Cliff’s belly. She felt it cut through his shirt, his skin, his muscles…

Not a killing blow, but it didn’t matter, he staggered back, mouth open, a red hole yowling…

And he fell into the throng.

Maura looked down, saw the crowd tearing at Julie and Gwen and Cliff, pulling their limbs off as cruel children pull wings off flies…

Then the air thickened even more, crushing in around her, squeezing…

And it squeezed her out of her body. She felt herself fired up, into the sky, like a pressed pip, flying upward, arcing down—and then rushing headlong into a flying cannibal witch, that was opening its mouth wide...wider, and wider…

She flew into that rubbery maw, and down, spun about inside.

Then she found she was in a new body, a form corporeal and incorporeal at once; a body that flew as she willed it to, upward, along with many other dark spirits, sweeping into the sky, heading to the East.


It was not quite dawn, but Chun was awake. Something had whispered to her.

“We are here,” it said in Mandarin.

“Who?” she asked hoarsely, getting out of bed, to stand in the weakening darkness.

Those whom you called! The ancestors heard, and brought your cry to us, and now we descend, because of your merit and trueness, and because the Earth and the planets turned within the lock of the sky to open the gate. But your cry was the key. And when you called us, we came to you. Now—come and see.”

Chun walked stiffly to the door. It should’ve been locked, but as she approached it, the door swung open, all on its own.

Muscles still aching from the previous day’s work, she walked through the door, though she wore only threadbare pajamas, and went barefoot out into the gray dawn.

She stopped, freezing in place with a mingling of horror and exaltation, when she saw the throng in the sky; it was like a gigantic flock of starlings, swirling and turning in the air, but the dark spirits had replaced the starlings, and she saw many faces amongst the spirits she knew; faces she’d clipped from their rubber backdrop. But now they were not empty masks. They had been given form.

The throng’s chorused shrieking woke the guards, who came clamoring from their posts and their barracks, guns in hand, some of them firing erratically and uselessly at the laughing nightmares who swooped down upon them…

Chun watched, gasping, as the dark spirits swarmed over the guards; as they ripped and bit and killed…

Then the spirits rose from the ravaged corpses, spreading wings of ectoplasm and shadow to sweep over the camp; they darted down, and broke locked doors with contemptuous flicks of their hands; they knocked down gates. Then they flew up, and into the nearby city, to lay waste to any who would keep Chun and the other prisoners from their freedom.

As the dark throng departed, Chun sat herself on the cold ground, to wait, and watch. Others came out, murmuring, to gaze about them in wonder…

Not quite a full hour later the throng reeled away from the city, and up over the half-shattered buildings. Chun saw the throng go, in the distance: a tornado of cruel laughter, into the sky.

She stood, and went stiffly to put on her clothes. Then, with Bao-Yu and the others, Chun walked into the burning town. Chun wished to find one of the few old shrines that the Republic still allowed, so that they could thank their ancestors.


Carnival of Ghosts

by Bruce Boston and Marge Simon

                             art by Shaun Lawton

Once each year,
just before sunset,
we gather at the club
to light candles
and sit on empty crates.

Our harsh laughter
spills into the alley
along with dusk.

Regret hangs like fog
above the raucous sounds:
a rush of sins
without redemption
from memory's grave.

Rupert was a patricide
who fueled a fortune
from his father's wealth.

He escaped the gallows
in life, but now
wears a hangman's knot
above his prison garb.

Gloriana was a full woman,
schooled to wed
a man of property,
chaste until a rich man
claimed and left
her in a single night.

Her failures
are waking dreams,
shards in a hall of mirrors,
sharp reflections
like the bright blade
she drew across her wrists.

No dignity in that.
Now she's one of us,
new to this profession
as we all were once.

In the dark fairground
the wheel turns,
filled with ghosts
from a hundred haunts
and centuries more.

The candles burn low.
We rise as one,
straighten our costumes,
disappear and reappear
in the yellow light
of Halloween night.

   Click below to Read
by John Shirley

The Nightmare Collector

by Bruce Boston

Each night he calls you
for the leading role
in his gallery
of ancestral tableaus
that trails back
through the Pleistocene
to the red primeval.

From the endless slashes
in his voluminous greatcoat
you can feel the heat
of captured bodies
invade your rumpled bed
with delirium and fever,
you can smell a brassy
sediment of tears.

From the hollow blackness
of his flapping sleeves
you can hear the pulse
and thump of unborn shadows,
a dense hysteric fugue
winding up and down
the bones of your sleep.

The nightmare collector
waits on the landing
in the unlit hall
where the instruments
of ablation are arranged
on cold leather pallets,
where the dreamer's
balustrade of terror
rushes across landscapes
of a darkening retina,
where snakes coil about
your arms and ankles
and draw you down
bodily into a forest
of bloodstained hair.

Click Below to read
by Bruce Boston and Marge Simon

Halloween Hunchback

by Bruce Boston

With eyes bright
as a Halloween pumpkin
and teeth crooked

as the same,
the hunchback shambles
into the holiday dusk,

down to the street faire,
where one night each year
he can be himself,

and those that stare
do so merely to admire
how very well he does it.

Click Below to read
by Bruce Boston

Archive of Stories
and Authors

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.

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.

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

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.

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff's

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

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

Daniel José Older's

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 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

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.

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.)