banner art above by Charles Carter

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Year of the Replicant ★

  Tenth Anniversary Issue  

image (photomanipulation) by S A Lawton


by Sean Padlo 
[graffiti pic by S A Lawton]

by Shaun Lawton 
 [photo edit by S A Lawton]

art by Kristina Lenzi

 [photomanipulation] by S A Lawton

   Welcome to the 24th iSsuE of the FREEZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which streamed throughout the month of July, in the year 2019 [the Year of the Replicant] AD, marking our tenth anniversary publishing ad-free stories and novellas with fantastical artwork for the benefit of those looking for something interesting to see and read online without having to pay anything.  It all began ten summers ago, when a few of us were hanging out online at the former darkecho dot com John Shirley message board site ("The Board With A Nail In It").  

   I came up with the idea of putting out an online fanzine for the 21st century, and the name I first came up with, the "Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,"  stuck after John Shirley gave it his nod of approval.   My decision to host it on blogger may not have appeared to be optimal at the time, but over the years, it has turned out to be most beneficial.  As a blog, our online journal of all things science fictional, fantastical, and on occasion the downright horrific has proven to be more easily maintained and accessed, not to mention a rather straightforward method in keeping the chronology of its archives.  

   So it's with a certain degree of wonder and satisfaction that I am able to present to the world our tenth anniversary issue.  We rolled out ten summers ago with John Shirley's never-before-published novella Sky Pirates, serialized in sixteen daily installments which ran Mondays through Thursdays in July of 2009.  For three Fridays we ran stand-alone short stories (by Johnny Strike, David Agranoff, and Keith Graham, respectively) and thus iSsuE #1 of the FoFaSF was born.   

   During the past decade, we ran eight more original John Shirley stories (some serialized in daily installments, some stand-alone stories; some never-before published, and a few that were only published under rare or unusual circumstances) for a total of nine stories (count 'em) all told.  Until now, that is. Because here at the Freezine, we have received the author's permission to publish our tenth John Shirley story, now available for your reading pleasure in this special tenth-anniversary issue, which I've dubbed The Year of the Replicant after the setting of the movie Blade Runner.  

   Now that we've received the sad news of Rutger Hauer's passing only twelve days ago, I'd like to take a moment to dedicate this issue to both him and the late, great author Philip K. Dick—whose 1968 novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? was famously adapted into legendary cinematic form by director Ridley Scott in 1982—to commemorate not only a splendid Dutch actor with a lot of great, entertaining movies under his belt, but also to reiterate the stunning impact both auteurs had on generations of moviegoers. Phil Dick with his myriad novels questioning the nature of our reality and what it means to be human, and Rutger Hauer for his many nuanced performances in film, but especially for his iconic turn as Roy Batty, the leader of the rogue band of replicants who escape their off-world colony to seek shelter amid the perpetually rainy, neon-lit city of Los Angeles. 

   A hearty shout-out of appreciation and thanks go out to all the authors and artists who contributed their material to be featured in this extra-special, tenth anniversary issue of the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Although we began the month with a core foundation of four stories, two people did rise up to answer the call to submit more last-minute stories to the issue.  Tim Fezz sent in his story Burnt Weeny Sandwich on July 4, after bravely whipping out his dusty old typewriter and attacking it for eleven minutes by which to produce his masterpiece for our commemorative edition of our webzine. My friend Kristina Lenzi, a performance artist in Salt Lake City, had submitted to our zine an image of an original painting of hers, and after reading Tim's Zappa-tribute story, I just knew that image would work.  There's a minimalist style with something of the avante garde to both pieces that I feel complement each other.  What can I say.  What I can't do is  thank both Kristina and Tim enough for being the agents of chaos responsible for this pairing which has brought us our fifth story to this unfolding, commemorative issue. 

   At the eleventh hour, our own freezine veteran, Vincent Daemon, who's been veritably unreachable under a rock and a dark place somewhere back east, sent his submission just in the nick of time, and we are all the better for it, not just because I found it fun to read with a  somewhat disturbed take on what I know to be a host of people's experiences with not just sleep-paralysis per se, but any number of other inexplicable and macabre goings-on in our ancient rented tenements, but also because this story marks Vinnie's tenth in the Freezine.  Accompanying Vinnie's dizzying tale of night terrors is an illustration by an amazing and super talented artist, Jason Barnett. This portrait is his vampire drawing, and is actually available for sale on his site, and I'm extremely grateful to Jason for having allowed me to pick two of his paintings as the images associated with two of the stories in this issue.  This vampire drawing manages to capture many intrinsic aspects of Daemon's story and persona in uncanny ways, for example looking as if it's been woven of spider web, itself, and its thorough blackness among other things are all a really good fit for Vincent.  If you click on the image above his story it will hyperlink you to Jason Barnett's main art page. There's honestly just too much for any mere mortal to soak up even dare they venture over there, but you've been warned here so,  just remember, this is just one of many drawings and paintings he's created, with fantastic artistry and attention to detail, that manage to capture a stunning array of weird cosmic horror in such a bold and unique style that he manages to transform an arcane and nightmarish landscape of dream into surreal vistas he can truly call his own.  He's done some of the art for Cadabra Records on their LPs of Lovecraft and Ligotti. I met Jason when he and his bandmates stormed through Salt Lake a year ago with their band from Portland, Oregon, Petrification.  In the underground world of extreme music, they are quite busy carving out an immense sector of the hard rockin' hellscape with their heavy duty touring around the world, their die hard dedication to keeping an old school ethos, and Jason's indubitable commitment to his art, which bubbles under the lids of several cauldrons that he's got going in his compound here at this juncture of the multiverse.  You should all check out his website, as it reveals a ton of his macabre paintings covering a broad range of the dark fantastic...just be warned. It's all too real. Oh and I almost forgot—thanks Jason for letting me use that amazing painting for my own story, Desolation Awakens.  I really think they go together well, with lines at the start of the tale indicating scenes in your painting, well the eerie synchronicities I'm used to dealing with here go beyond the weird and into an electromagnetic slipstream I daren't invoke needlessly.

   A million thanks go out respectively to Konstantine Paradias and Edward Morris for having submitted their twisted collaborative effort How The Gods Kill.  Because I've long believed not to fix things when they aren't broken, I consulted with our archive of artists, and determined that I couldn't go wrong with Prince Satyrn's stellar artistry, and thus was hatched my feverish quest to piece together a coherent visual narrative analogous (somewhat) to the serial pulp action unfolding for the eight (count 'em) daily installments provided by our superheroic author duo.  I must say, I enjoyed putting this serial together almost as much as I did reading it after it was all said and done.  This far out novella hews as close to the bone of our mission statement as does our own flagship mascot serial, John Shirley's Sky Pirates, and its predecessors in Burroughs and Sabatini.  The two novellas owe their roots to a long ago buried golden age of science fantasy romance adventures.  Thrilling accounts of exploits that turn out, as it happens, to not remain buried for too long; until some strange wind comes around once more to blast the sand off their faces and reveal them again for a new generation of readers.  

   Thanks to Sean Padlo for believing in, before turning to, the Freezine to consider hosting his story. Because that's what we're doing here, keeping it simple. Sean told me he wanted this story to get some love, and he thought maybe the freezine would be a fit, and I encouraged him to send it, by all means, and I'd let him know if it were the sort of story that fits our glittering cyberzine. I really enjoyed reading Grandpa's Last Request, to the point I caught a right smart tear in my eye, and all I can say is, thank you my friend, nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine more times, thanks for taking a chance with our cuddly little unassuming webzine. Your participation in our gradual infiltration of the world wide sub-superstructural optical-override system has now been indoctrinated into our ongoing compression algorithm.  You will receive a set of instructions to be decoded later. The latest transmission I received from the nanohorde that began this whole nonprofit enterprise seems to indicate there may be an ensuing publication event worthy of our attention. More on that later. Welcome aboard. This marks Padlo's first entry in our morose and jubilant journal of letters. Drink the snake wine. Hisssssss.  

   And last but not least, thanks once again to John Shirley, for granting me permission to publish his collaborative story with Edgar Allan Poe, Blind Eye.  It originally appeared in the anthology Poe's Lighthouse, edited by Christopher Conlon and published by Cemetery Dance in 2006.  That book went out-of-print quite fast, and I don't know if or how many times it may have been reprinted, but I highly recommend all you "Poe enthusiasts" (wink, nudge, read: readers) try to hunt down a copy at your local library, or dl the ebook, if there is one available.  This remarkable anthology brings together 23 incredibly talented writers, each one of whom applied their talents to finish the legendary fragment of a story left behind by Poe upon his untimely demise in the year 1849. (Nevermind that's exactly one-hundred-and-seventy years ago, more on that later.) Suffice it to say, all of the regrown literary fragments are worthy of reading. I remain ever thankful to John for his continued enthusiasm and assistance in contributing toward our ongoing and growing electronic journal that dares to continue exploring its legacy beyond the Weird and into the waiting sunset of our design. 

   By now, our more astute readers have noticed that both John Shirley and Vincent Daemon stand tall at the head of our pack as the authors with the most stories in the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  I think it says one hell of a lot about them and their inimitable characters. I don't offer this explanation lightly, because I've had at least ten years to dwell on it, and I can say with more than just a bit of confidence, that these two fine gentlemen are exemplary in their characteristic of being genuinely free-spirited to such a degree they have distinguished themselves as standing far from not just the roaming packs of humans out there, but even far enough apart from those so-called "lone wolves" wandering over our landscape to be somewhat conspicuous.  I mean, these guys do what they want. They are not beholden  to the strictures and harnesses that have become so ordinarily accepted in most of the rest of us by now, that we hardly notice it.  Look, these guys are rock stars.  I mean, they front their own bands, and they're very good at what they do, they've been doing it for years.  Vinne's band Age of Desire goes back twenty years, and John Shirley's bands go back twice as long, the Screaming Geezers in their current incarnation back through the post-punk of Obsession, the new fusion blues of Panther Moderns, all the way to the hardcore bay area rock and roll of SadoNation. I mean, it's all rock'n'roll when you get right down to it, right? 

   That's what the freezine was intended to be from the get-go—pure rock'n'roll—because it takes a certain defiance, the kind that cuts right through itself, to bare the heart that you wear on your sleeve.  And that's what everyone who participates in the freezine does. By allowing your stories and artwork to be displayed on the world wide web for anybody to stumble upon or be led to with a hyperlink, you have helped provide a thread, gilded or otherwise stained in vivid colors, to be woven among others into a shimmering cloak of chromatophore dreams we can all wear out at night for a change, every so often. That's just an insane way of saying thanks for pouring your heart out into this vessel to have it drunk up one pixel at a time to shine out at the world. The long term goal is to make the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction a permanent installation on the world wide web, with a perpetual image hosting service provided on servers paid for by grants bestowed upon us from the future.  This way the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction will remain an Open Project overseen by AI protocols that will keep the torch passing from one set of editorial hands to another, long after I've passed through the wavering gates to the other side.  

   Who am I kidding, reading itself is going the way of the Dodo, dodos! But for the few, the far, the lost in between the cracks of this reality...spreading wider and deeper in between us than ever before. Are you ready to shout across the widening gaps? What—I can't hear you—nevermind. These sorts of things, stories like this we read for free, with no ads to pollute our view and distract our cataracts—will fade from popularity altogether by the time I finish writing this ongoing formal incantation of thoughts and ideas I refer to as the totality of my manuscription.  Thank you for being on the other end, receiving my output with your eyes, and absorbing the meanings they try to spell out, which is to say, incubate them in your own imagination. May all your wildest fantasies hatch open in your dreams, and that you may select the best of them to be born into this reality.  Tell your friends about this free webzine, and to subscribe by email to it so that the next time we begin streaming another issue here, you'll all start receiving each daily post where it belongs—in your inboxes. And please remember to share all your favorite posts and stories, they remain archived for easy allocation.  The sooner you do all of this, the better for the rest of us. We don't know when the next EMP might come along from our nearby lurking star, or how much power it might carry on its unwavering course across the gulf of outer space.  Until the next time we happen to cross each other's pathways here, face to face. Whatever it is you believe in, keep on believing in it, and it will eventually come to believe in you. 


This issue is dedicated to the memory of Philip K. Dick and Rutger Hauer

  In order to be considered
in a future issue of the Freezine
of Fantasy and Science Fiction:

All queries and submissions should be emailed to


by Edgar Allan Poe & John Shirley

    Jan. 1—1796. This day—my first on the light-house—I make this entry in my Diary, as agreed on with De Grät. As regularly as I can keep the journal, I will—but there is no telling what may happen to a man all alone as I am—I may get sick, or worse. . . . So far well! The cutter had a narrow escape—but why dwell on that, since I am here, all safe? My spirits are beginning to revive already, at the mere thought of being—for once in my life at least—thoroughly alone. . . . What most surprises me, is the difficulty De Grät had in getting me the appointment—and I a noble of the realm! It could not be that the Consistory had any doubt of my ability to manage the light. One man had attended it before now—and got on quite as well as the three that are usually put in. The duty is a mere nothing; and the printed instructions are as plain as possible. It never would have done to let Orndoff accompany me. I never should have made any way with my book as long as he was within reach of me, with his intolerable gossip—not to mention that everlasting mëerschaum. Besides, I wish to be alone. . . . It is strange that I never observed, until this moment, how dreary a sound that word has—“alone”! I could half fancy there was some peculiarity in the echo of these cylindrical walls—but oh, no!—this is all nonsense. I do believe I am going to get nervous about my insulation. That will never do. I have not forgotten De Grät’s prophecy. Now for a scramble to the lantern and a good look around to “see what I can see”. . . . To see what I can see indeed !—not very much. The swell is subsiding a little, I think—but the cutter will have a rough passage home, nevertheless. She will hardly get within sight of the Norland before noon to-morrow—and yet it can hardly be more than 190 or 200 miles.


    Jan. 2. I have passed this day in a species of ecstasy that I find impossible to describe. My passion for solitude could scarcely have been more thoroughly gratified. I do not say satisfied; for I believe I should never be satiated with such delight as I have experienced to-day. . . . The wind lulled about day-break, and by the afternoon the sea had gone down materially. . . . Nothing to be seen, with the telescope even, but ocean and sky, with an occasional gull.

    Jan. 3. A dead calm all day. Towards evening, the sea looked very much like glass. A few sea-weeds came in sight; but besides them absolutely nothing all day—not even the slightest speck of cloud . . . . Occupied myself in exploring the light-house. . . . It is a very lofty one—as I find to my cost when I have to ascend its interminable stairs—not quite 160 feet, I should say, from the low-water mark to the top of the lantern. From the bottom inside the shaft, however, the distance to the summit is 180 feet at least:—thus the floor is twenty feet below the surface of the sea, even at low-tide. . . . It seems to me that the hollow interior at the bottom should have been filled in with solid masonry. Undoubtedly the whole would have been thus rendered more safe:—but what am I thinking about? A structure such as this is safe enough under any circumstances. I should feel myself secure in it during the fiercest hurricane that ever raged—and yet I have heard seamen say occasionally, with a wind at South-West, the sea has been known to run higher here than anywhere with the single exception of the Western opening of the Straits of Magellan. No mere sea, though, could accomplish anything with this solid iron-riveted wall—which, at 50 feet from high-water mark, is four feet thick, if one inch. . . . The basis on which the structure rests seems to me to be chalk. . . .

    Jan 4. Today I was drawn to the lamp at the zenith of the light-house, with a sense of summoning so clearly defined that I half expected to find someone waiting for me beside the lamp. The lamp itself—a dozen brass lanterns, in fact, symmetrically arrayed in an iron framework before the mirror—were all that awaited me. But I lie! There was my own distorted reflection awaiting me, in that reflective silver concavity behind the lamps. A seagull, too, hung almost motionless, itself a lantern in the sky beyond the glass, balancing in the stream of air, poised and waiting for me to throw scraps, as perhaps the last keeper had done . . . On the night before my embarking to the island I sat late at the Watcher Inn with Orndoff, an acquaintance in the village closest to the light-house; he and I had gone to the same university.

Very different, were Orndoff and I. At university he had drifted through the instruction with a kind of amused indifference, scarcely attending. But my mania for history had kept eye and ear so fixed upon the professors that I seemed to make them nervous. This is hard to parcel out from the remainder of my intercourse with humanity, however: perhaps because I was an orphaned child, raised without siblings by an uncle who seemed aggrieved by the responsibility, I have never felt that other people warmed to me; have always felt a vague, undefined hostility from them. Oh there was Elena, of course—would I be here skulking alone upon a rock in the midst of the sea if not for Elena? She alone looked past my dark countenance; saw more than my scowl. And that one died when her ship caught fire. She died in the midst of the sea; I have chosen to live there. Where is this lighthouse but the midst of the sea?

As for Orndoff—who will palaver at anyone with the patience to listen—he told me his gossip of the former keeper. I knew nothing of the erstwhile light-house watchman, having come to this comparatively prosperous, snug little village near the light-house only a fortnight earlier, at De Grät’s suggestion. Hendershaw, an expatriate from England, had been a queer antiquarian, liked by people who knew him a little, feared by those who knew him well. “Oh!” said Orndoff importantly, puffing his pipe and sloshing his ale, “many leatherbound folios, and even a scroll or two, came to him on this very island by cutter, in protective chests from such places as Paris and Moscow and Rome and Mount Athos; one, indeed, hailed all the way from Bombay, and was said to be writ in Sanskrit; and how came he to read that?—One day,” so Orndoff went on, “Hendershaw was heard to shout at people in the village, as if from high above, and to implore them to ‘Stop it, stop it!’ . . . Or, he would shine the light! said he.”

“So,” said I to Orndoff, “Hendershaw was back in the village, shirking his duty and drinking and making fools of you, when he should have been at the light-house?”

“Why no,” said Orndoff. “He was at the light-house when he spoke! He must have been, for he had no boat out there of his own, and when someone went to the island the next day, they found him dead, at the foot of the light-house—he had fallen through a window close beside the lamp; stumbled, we supposed. Fallen all that long way down!”

“You know as well as I, Orndoff, that if he was heard in the village then someone was mocking his voice. This, or else he had come here. This village may be the closest to the light-house,”—for the cutter returns to distant Norland only because there is no good harbor hereabouts—“but the lighthouse is miles distant, out in the sea, and he could not have been heard. Unless perhaps some meteorological peculiarity reigned that night—that is not beyond the limits of possibility.”

“Not only was he heard,” Orndoff insisted, indignantly tapping the dottle from his pipe, “he was heard clear as like to yonder church bell! Clearer, for a bell is usually heard from a steeple, and to everyone who heard him it was as if he were standing right beside them!”

. . . I remember the conversation now with a dim smile. There is not a remote parish in this land—or any other!—which has not its share of ghosts, quite often said to be the shades of witches who’d cursed the place on their burning. What hamlet is without one, or two—or three? Just as every village has a wit like Orndoff who practices on the credulous. I am not to be taken in . . . But today, standing at the curved mirror, blinking in the reflected light from the sea, the near cloudless sky, and listening to the sough of the wind against the stone tower, I thought I saw a second likeness in the reflector mingled with my own . . . . De Grät was right! Isolation acts on the imagination . . . and I am glad of it! This journal is just a sort of morning walk for the mind, to get the blood moving in the limbs of imagination. My book calls to me . . . Perhaps I’ll change the subject matter and write of the rustics in the village. But I’ve never thought for a moment of writing anything else but my account of mad royalty! What turns of mind one takes in abject solitude—and I will now take a turn on the rocky beach.


    Jan. 9. Has it really been four days since I wrote the last entry in this journal? I have come to spend most of my days sleeping, since my duties are to be carried out at night. The inspection of the lamps is a lighthouse keeper’s sacred duty: the renewing of their oil, the rekindling of their flames should the wind push its nose through some errant crack—and the wind here does show a certain mischievousness. It’s true that every couple of days I polish the mirror during the day, but it is at night that I must check and re-check the light, to see that all of the lamps are lit. No diminution of the illumination is to be permitted. My own glow has diminished, somewhat—the shift to activity in all the hours of darkness has perplexed me somehow, and my body resents the change. The days have blurred together, so. And thus it is that I work late afternoon, wearing toward dusk, laboring feverishly on my book—squinting in the candle light, for the sun is on the other side of the tower, affording little light for this chilly cabin attached to the light-house. I scratch away with the wind’s buffeting threatening to overturn the stone tower onto my little lodging—but I am indifferent to nature’s vain threats. I write, uncaring: I write what seems to have welled up from my dreams. I find myself writing not on the madness of kings in history, as I had planned, but instead on the madness that accompanies quotidian life in an ordinary village—the very village I quitted to come here! The lines pour out of me with a species of self-determination—as determined as the Republicists in the American colonies. I find myself describing the lanky red-nosed village Mayor, who plays the sad widower by day, but at night, I watch, in my mind’s eye, as he drinks his laudanum and then beds the wife of the snoring tax collector. I discover I have written four and a half pages on the stout, ham-fisted Constable, a record of his robbery of the men in his jail; I find that I have scrivened two pages with glee on the sodomy of a choirboy by the grave and sallow Minister; I am astonished to see that I have written seven close pages on the Schoolmaster’s beating of his wife, and have related how that same Schoolmaster then repairs to the back room of the chandler’s shop, where he offers himself to be beaten by the drunken candlemaker himself . . . Sometimes I seem to see them in the glimmering reflections of the concave mirror behind the lanterns, after they are all lit. I seem to see the village, the little houses opened up and laid bare . . . Then the image fades but in some wise it has crept into my mind, like a lean wolf creeping into a den, only to emerge in my dreams. It was thus when I saw the stableman locking himself in his attic to pray for the courage to not—oh yes! the courage to not murder his hateful snaggle-toothed wife . . . I laughed aloud, at times as I scribbled these fantasies—and later felt ashamed of my facetiousness. How could I wheeze away like that over such tragic doings? How could I indeed, ever have written anything so perverse!

But this has to end! I must assume that this indulgence arises from fancies provoked by the last society I had enjoyed, if enjoyed is the word to describe my interview with De Grät—as if in recoiling from my solitude (which has gone from delight to burden) I people my world instead with figures from a kind of fever dream.

I can see De Grät’s supercilious smile even now. I can hear his oily voice. “I told you so! A gentleman whose head thus teems is not suited for such isolation! Did I not warn you? But you would insist on taking the post!” Perhaps he was right—But how am I to extricate myself without a loss of face that would preclude anyone offering me another post? I must remain . . . I must remain alone. Just me and the god of the sea whose great grey body surges in the swells without ceasing, shifting and murmuring, endlessly grumbling to himself . . . 

    Jan. 14? (Is this date correct?) What day of the week is this? Is it Sunday? I had intended to pray on Sunday; to read from the Old Testament aloud; to give myself a bit of a church service. There will be no one here for another week and I needed some rhythm in my life. So I told myself yesterday.

To think of praying now! After what I’ve seen! Somehow it seems a mockery of the idea of prayer . . . No—let me be honest—I have not ceased praying, since the Eye of the Light-house showed itself to me. A silent prayer without words—a prayer incessantly calling out help me . . . help me . . . help me . . . while in fact I’m saying nothing at all.

Shall I tell you? Someone must read this, surely. You!

. . . .Can you hear me, climbing the stairs, breathing like a horse at the end of a race? No—see me! See me as I carried a lantern up the spiral staircase, just at sunset. Here and there a bent square of dying sunlight bled scarlet through the occasional window, only to be blotted by my circle of light as I ascended. (You do see? That’s exactly what must be done—you must see! To see as I have!)

As always there was the sharp feeling of vulnerability when I reached the top—for here the wind invariably batters at the windows, threatening that this night, this time, it will at last shake the glass from its frames . . . I was well aware that one of these panes of glass was new, having been replaced after Hendershaw fell through it to his death. I knew which pane it was too—a cheaper glass than the others, blurred by poor glazing so it distorted the moon, making it into a bent countenance, a leering yellow face, like a figure of wax in the heat.

I set about lighting the lanterns before the reflector, and this time tried to keep myself from looking into the curved mirror—to prevent its practicing upon my imagination—
My task done, I stood . . . and heard a rattling from the back of the mirror.

I had only once looked behind the mirror—there was only dust there, cobwebs, the curved inner wall of the light-house. But beyond that formidable stone wall was the windy air above the rocky verge of the island, and beyond that verge the sea—and beyond that curving stretch of sea, the shore, a little distance beyond which stood the village. That dusty dim place—barely room for a man to pass—had seemed repugnant to me, and I had never questioned my intuition . . . The stability of the mirror was my job, my duty, and if it seemed to rattle, why, I must needs reinforce it. So with the tool box in one hand and the lantern in the other I sidled behind the mirror . . . I saw nothing amiss. The bolts holding the curved reflector to its frame seemed quite sound. Then the mirror trembled once more—it shook off some of its dust from exactly marked places, from a shape scratched on the dull, convex metal of its back. I lifted the lantern to more closely look. A diagram was scratched into the surface there . . . I shall not try to reproduce it here . . . I hope no one ever reproduces it again! . . . An intricate diagram of geometrical forms, but a geometry I did not recognize, none of them quite Euclidean, though some might have alchemical significance—I might have glimpsed something of the sort in the margins of some half-remembered illuminated manuscript perused while studying Greek. There were letters too, unintelligibly cryptic words in a script I had never seen . . . I had a terrible desire to wipe it away—indeed, to break the mirror itself, on seeing these marks. I felt distinctly as if someone was urging me to do just that . . . But I could not. I would be not only discharged from my sinecure, but arrested, perhaps sent to a madhouse.

I returned to the front of the mirror, with that diagram still fixed in my mind. I gazed into the mirror behind the lanterns, then, forgetting my earlier resolve, and the diagram seemed to float before my eyes, like the image haunting the vision when one has stared into the sun, and some incomprehensible completion took place then: I felt it like a key turning in a lock.

So it was that the mirror became a great eye. For me, staring into it, at just that instant, the light-house mirror did not reflect; it showed nothing of me, as it usually did, it gathered light but seemed to push it all to the sides so that I could see the window it had become . . . 

Was it indeed like a window? Nay, a telescope lens, looking out the back of the light-house, right through the stone wall, through the intervening sky, across the arm of sea, across the strand and into the village . . . I could see into the village, exactly as if I was staring into the eyepiece of a giant telescope, though nothing so powerful and precise in its magnification exists. I talk as if I’m trying to find some rational description of what I experienced—but I was looking not only through the solid mirror, but through a stone wall!—and oh! I could see every house in the village clearly and distinctly. If I looked at any one house, in particular, the house would swell to fill the mirror . . . My eyes burned, of course, with the light of the lanterns prodigiously reflected. At the same time, I couldn’t quite see that light. The pain I felt from gazing at it seemed distant, like the pricking of a benumbed limb. My eyes ran with tears, but I could not look away . . . But come here, reader, gaze over my shoulder as I write this, see it with me: when I looked at any one house, it opened itself up to me, as if a cabinet was flung open from within—First, the Mayor’s house, twice as big as the others. Two storeys, with balconies and its own courtyard and stables, it drew my eye—and as I looked at it, seeing every cornice, every crack, every shingle and gutter with an etched clarity, suddenly all this minute marking fell away, as if a page was turned in a picture book, and the interior of the house was revealed. It looked exactly like a doll’s house, seen from the open back, everything miniature, each furnishing exquisitely reproduced . . . but here the dolls moved about on their own, requiring no childish hands to put them through their paces. I watched as the Mayor sent his housekeeper away, turned the portrait of his departed wife to the wall, unlocked a leaded glass cabinet and drew out a bottle of laudanum. I recognized that manner of bottle, having had too much recourse to it myself—one of the reasons I came to this light-house—and saw him decant a thousand drops or so, drink them down, and then go to the back door, where the fat and tittering tax collector’s wife awaited . . . what they did then, not in the bedroom but in the kitchen, I did not propose to observe—past satisfying myself what they were about—and looked away, thinking that I had observed all this before in a dream, and written about it too, only in that instance they had trysted in the parlor...When I looked back at the mirror, the Mayor’s house shrank and another filled the lens, and here the Dressmaker’s Widow was whipping her small daughter with a horse-crop—I could bear to look only a moment. Still, a kind of heated hunger had me, a voyeur’s passion stoked by a sense of godlike power, as I looked at another house, and another: Behold the Fisherman at prayers—the only good and honest man in the village. Yet his son was creeping out a window to meet another young rogue, the two of them donning masks, carrying cudgels to the back door of the inn, where they skulked, awaiting the first moneyed drunk to step out into the night . . . Here was the Minister’s house, and here he caressed a new boy, who shrank from him. But leering, the minister forced the boy into a corner . . . . Here was the Usurer, keeping accounts late with a candle—and I saw no sin in him. But who was this creeping up behind him? The son of the pious fisherman, the corrupted youth too impatient to wait at the inn.

I watched as he struck the Usurer over the head from behind and scooped up his gold. The Fisherman’s son quarreled with his partner about the gold . . . and then he struck him dead!

I could watch no more . . . and the pain in my eyes no longer seemed distant. I turned away . . . And beheld only darkness! My eyes had gone blind, for a time, staring into the lanterns, the reflected light of the mirror. I had been staring, I told myself, into the glare of my own imagination.

But I know it was not imagination. Had I not met most of these people in the village? Had I not sensed this very venality, this viciousness, this familiar brutishness, behind their formal bows, their countrified manners? I’m in the habit of ignoring such disquieting perceptions—as I believe we all are—and blanketed them away immediately they were shewn. But now my recollection of that disquiet returned and insisted on remembering itself to me. Even as their dissimulating faces returned to me, so also sight seeped back into my burning eyes. I beheld the moon rising over the sea, daubing the streak of restless waves beneath it with silver light even as the rest of the sea dimmed. I fled down the stairs, my eyes throbbing . . . burning! My conscience burned far worse.

    Jan 17. I am almost sure it is January 17. I managed to see the calendar, though the numbers of the days rippled in the swimming shadows. I am near completely blind now, and though it is daylight I write these lines with three candles set about the page, to ease the permanent night that has settled over my vision. Only in bright sunlight can I see well enough to walk freely about, and I do not think I will have another day of bright sunlight.

For they are coming for me. I hear them coming. I have ignored their shouted demands. Now they are at the door—let them thunder upon it! I have bolted and barred the door. It will take them time to break it down, since the fools have come ill prepared. Someone, I gather, has been sent back to the cutter for tools. I hear the imprecations of those left waiting.

I should not have looked through the Eye again. How long was it? Three, perhaps, four days? Is this how long I managed, without looking again into the Eye of the Light-house? Every intervening dusk, when I lit the beacon, I was careful to look only at the lanterns themselves, never at the mirror. But still I caught movement in the concave surface, and it was not my own movement. Yet I did not turn to look. I heard voices from the village coming from the mirror—yes I could hear them as well as see! . . . I forced myself not to listen . . . 

Three, perhaps four days I did not look in the Eye. I drank the whiskey I had brought with me, jeering at my earlier resolve to limit myself to a single glass on retiring. I tried to work on my book. But the giddiness would seize me, and I would find myself writing of the Schoolmaster’s wife locking herself in a root cellar while he raged drunkenly outside, reciting Ovid between pulls on his jug . . . So I put the writing aside and attempted to read. But the words shifted on the page, and an account of Henry the Eighth transmuted itself in mid-sentence. Thus Henry took for himself a wife without choosing at all, his counselors having selected this wide eyed Hollander lady . . . This becoming, Thus the Mayor took for himself the milkmaid over the tax collector’s wife . . . I clapped the book shut at that!

I told myself that soon the cutter would come with supplies. I resolved to refuse the supplies and demand of the coxswain a return to the mainland . . . 

Once this resolution was made, it was suggested to me—perhaps something within me suggested it, perhaps not—that one last look would not run amiss, since after all I was leaving . . . so it was that I succumbed to temptation. When I’d finished lighting the—

—O how they howl out there! How much time remains to me? My eyesight fails—!

—so it was, I say, that I finished lighting the lamps, and turned to look into the mirror, envisioning that obscure diagram, and immediately the reflector became like the widening iris of an eye, a dilating that revealed again the village, every house in every detail. My eyes burned with the fogged pain, and still I gazed into the eye of the light-house, looking with utter and entire impossibility through the mirror itself and the stone wall behind it, through the intervening spaces, seeing—I cannot think how to convince you of this, but it is true!—seeing what was happening at exactly that moment in the village . . . .

I saw Orndoff’s house, then, for the first time—opening itself to me like a magician’s cabinet. He was at the back door, with a wooden crate, paying the groom of the Inn and from their whispered discourse I understood that the groom had stolen goods, rum and beer and vodka from the Inn, which Orndoff proposed to sell at a profit in the hamlet that lay further south along the coast.

“Thief!” I shouted, in a kind of giggling hysteria. “Cease your theft, Orndoff! And tell the Minister to cease his predation!”

And Orndoff heard me! I saw him whirl, looking for the source of the sound.

“Who?” he sputtered.

The horse-groom ran away—and I turned to look at another house. Here the Fisherman argued with his son, demanding to know where he came upon the gold that had fallen from his coat. Was it he who had robbed the usurer? The son refused to answer and made for the door—his father tried to stop him. The boy turned and struck at him with a length of wood from the pile by the fireplace. His father fell, stunned—

“Do not kill that old man, you fool, you’ll regret it the whole of your life!” I shouted.

The boy turned this way and that to see who was speaking and I laughed . . . though my eyes streamed with the blazing light of the mirror, I laughed . . . 

I looked at another house, and more—saw the Mayor at his peccadilloes, the Minister at his fondling, the Mistress of the Inn plotting to run away with a coachman—

Thereupon I was struck with a terrible revulsion. I could no longer bear to see these people scuttling and capering about in the shadows. I felt like a man who has awakened in a noisome inn and hears what may be the feet of rats on the floor beside him. Wishing to know if he’s to be invaded by vermin, he strikes a lantern alight, vowing that he will catch them in the light, and call the innkeeper and demand an explanation.

That’s what I felt must be done . . . I must bring the vermin out of the shadows and demand an explanation!

And so I seized a handle to one side of the beacon, used before-times only for the light’s repair. This I heaved on, against the rust, till at last the creaking mirror turned and shone against the back wall. The enchantment of the mirror did not fail me; it behaved as the whispering in my mind had suggested it would: it shone its light right through the wall, making a window where none had been—the light streamed in a concerted shaft through intervening miles, in a magnification no oculist could explain, and struck full upon the house of the Fisherman . . . And the house was laid bare! The opacity of its walls vanished, it became as of a house of glass, each room all lit up with the beam of the beacon—so that not only I, but everyone in the village could see the Fisherman’s son standing over the fallen form of his parent. The Fisherman’s son turned and shouted—seeing that his own walls had become as glass, and everyone was staring at him . . . Then I shifted the beacon again, so that it fell upon the Mayor’s house. And this too became a house of glass, and he was caught en flagrante with the daughter of the tanner. I shifted the light again so that it shone upon the Inn, where the Mistress of the Inn—her husband busy with the horses—was creeping out the back with the Coachman, her bag in hand. The Innkeeper turned and saw, through the new transparency of the walls, his wife’s departure—her horrified face to see him gawping at her! And how I laughed!

I shifted the light again and again, revealing each house’s secrets—so that they could be seen by everyone else in the village. “Now you see,” I shouted, “how the all-seeing eye of the light-house has revealed you all for the crawling vermin you are!”

Then the darkness closed over my eyes—darkness like shutters slammed by pain. The agony in my eyes was unspeakable as I turned the light back to the sea . . . but I could not see the sea, or the moon, or the steps I stumbled down. I nearly fell, having to feel my way along. The lantern in my hand seemed dim as a candle a hundred strides away in a heavy fog . . . Ravaged by emotions that passed so quickly I could scarce distinguish them—revulsion, shame, anger, a desire to return to the great Eye, terror—I felt my way down and down, spiraling down in darkness, till at last I felt the cold air of the night on my face . . . I returned to my cabin to drink the last of my whisky. I slept—and the voices of my tormentors woke me. I heard them coming, shouting for me, howling like animals in their rage. I barred the door . . . And now . . . .

Now I hear them worrying that door with some great tool. It sounds as if they might be angling away with a bar of iron. I hear it from time to time, squeaking at the door, like the teeth of rats on wood. They pause in their gnawing to accuse me of sorcery, of trying to destroy them all with lies—with magic, a magic lantern of some kind, creating a puppet theater with the innocent, Godfearing villagers as the Punch and Judys. Lies, they say—you tell lies about us! They say they’ll burn me out if they have to and more than one agrees that burning is peculiarly appropriate for me . . . The dregs of my sight evaporate as I write these lines, and I must secrete this away in some niche of the wall where it will be preserved. I know just the place . . . They’re breaking in! I must hurry! I will not live out this night. Oh God preserve me from the workings of their black, black hearts . . . 

Am perplexed as to what to do with this hasty and typically deranged piece by Poe, found in his papers—there is a shorter version, an unfinished fragment, that some have seen. They have not seen this longer one and my impulse is to suppress it for its references to depravity, a disgrace to include in the works of a man of letters. Poe was all too aware of such depravity, just as he knew the bottle and pipe, but never had he written of licentiousness so boldly, and he must have reckoned his own mistake and decided not to publish the piece—it was writ about a year before his death—but there is also the note in the margins to wit: “True story, if the Danish coxswain is to be believed—though some say the light-house keeper was killed because in his drunkenness he turned the beacon and allowed a ship to founder . . . but the coxswain had seen the manuscript and was insistent—material here would have to be cut and disguised . . . EAP” Not sure what I shall do with this. Hide it as I have hidden so much, perhaps—best to turn a blind eye.
Rufus Wilmot Griswold 1851

Thursday, July 25, 2019


by Vincent Daemon

                                                                                        drawing by Jason Barnett

There are dark and terrible things that lurk within the utmost deepest recesses of the human mind. Blackened, bleak things that all humans seem to hide away, block out, chemically roadblock or pretend aren’t there. Base urges of dark deceit. Sickly biological imperatives. The sleeping brag of God and whine of bad, neither really existing. Their only worries are their petty cold-creature comforts and their crotches. Money, material goods, and fucking. The wretched, selfish act of procreation, nothing more than further spreading this virus of humanity. But who’s “happy,” what is contentment of existence? Is it perhaps an ideal unobtainable, another allusive illusion conjured like some sickly ego-magick to ease the dark intrusive thoughts of stark terrors that come in the lonely din of witching hour silence? 

I sleep on a mat in the corner of a small and oddly angled room, ten paces from my roommate (an old friend putting me up in this time of worldly collapse. I get looked at like I'm crazy when I explain that dimensions are bleeding through). He sleeps often, when home, speaking his unnerving dreams aloud most every session of not-so-blissful slumber. I, an insomniac by nature, hear every utterance of his abstract horrors most every night. One evening he bolted up in the darkness, asking about “Carlos’ severed arm.” I don’t know a Carlos, but apparently something awful had happened in Jason’s somniferous deliriums.

Sometimes I’ll take a boatload of some good hard opiate just to relax and perhaps catch my own bit of somnium. If that’s not an option, I’ll either stay up as long as possible, or, on rare occasions, take some speed in a fuckall of frustration, just to be able to feel something other than the persistent dread of hopeless lonesomeness and unending futility. Either way, after a couple of days I crash hard for a good seven hours or so. Then come the dreams that transmute into hypnagogic reality...and that’s when the shadows come. They don’t feel like “ghosts,” yet they hover about the stairs at strange angles of not just my cramped room in this deranged and unheated squat, but within the fabric of the decrepit house itself. 

As for the house, no one knows who owns it. We, the six of us, pay a very minimal amount to a completely unseen and unknown being, by mail, once a month. There is no maintenance. The house itself is a decrepit deathtrap of dry rot, black mold, cloudy water and plumbing problems, and astonishingly sketchy electricity. The other dwellers are interesting enough folk, little as I have in common with them (beyond Jason). They cannot see what I see.

The sink bothers me. I moved into a cluttered environment with a sink that was always filled with toppling foodware covered in a thick gloss of wet mold and teeming with filthy insects of multiple varieties. Silverfish in hoards, centipedes in every rotten cup. And one big black spider that I’ve seen once but never again. Of spiders I am not fond. The dining area has an odor resembling that of a trash can filled with dead baby birds baking in the Pennsylvania midsummer swell. It is thick and repellent, not good for the mind. Sometimes, while working to get something uncontaminated to eat around the pungent filth, I swore I could see the fuzzed and moist molds begin to pulsate and throb, grow and kind of sluice around to other parts of the rotting sink as if by their own peculiar volition. 

But I digress. The shadows: things that move in darkness more obscure than even the void of pitch in which they watch and sneer, seemingly waiting for an action upon which they never act. That is, until tonight. In my narco-haze of hypnagogic insomniac misery they finally came forward, revealing themselves in full. 

Now, don’t be fooled, I’ve seen the one up close on one occasion, and that was the night I moved in. My roommate was at work and no one but the dog was here, a terrier-lab mix aptly named Roadblock, though he’s a good beast. Anyway, I was in my room and toiling on the computer. It was raining lightly outside and I had a good opiate buzz going. I was fairly productive and working on a new essay for my column. In fact, I write this now to be placed as my final piece, but more on that later. They have at least allowed me this. Anyhow, it was intensely quiet but for an Old Fezziwig disc playing faintly in the background. Having been writing and researching for hours and drinking mass quantities of Gatorade, I began to get the piss shivers. So I got up and stretched, and made my way from the moderate darkness of the room to the impenetrable obscurity of the hall. The bathroom’s right there, so I slipped in and did my thing. Finished, I opened the bathroom door, which is right in front of a steep set of stairs, and proceeded back to my room. 

My peripheral vision noticed something was off with the stairs. So I stepped back two feet, looked to my right, and there I saw it, plain as day, slightly silhouetted by the ambient street light gleaming in through the front window. It was easily eight feet tall and just stood there on the stairs, no face, no features. Just a shadow draped in something resembling a burlap shroud. It stood completely still, staring at me, as I stared back. No sound, no malevolent feelings. Quite the contrary, the feeling was bordering on total disregard. It was just a being like myself, lost and trapped, displaced and disconnected. I turned to go back to my room, truly believing this to be some drug-vision trick of the eye. But a moment later I decided to go back and look again. There it was, leering in the same spot at the center of the stairs, faceless yet looking at me. At that point I felt a discomforting moribund connection to something I’d never felt before. It was cold and sharp, direct. Between us there were shared pains of many different shades. 

This. This made me incredibly uncomfortable, and I retreated back to my squalid little room, trying as I might to put the experience into some kind of compartment in my head, an essentially futile task. When Jason got home I asked him about it. 

“Jason, is there something a little strange about this house?”

“Oh...hahaha...yeah...a few things. I guess I forgot to mention that.” 

I didn’t find it so funny. “Apparently.”

“You saw the big one...didn’t you? The eight footer? We’ve all seen it. Along with a coupla others...smaller. They don’t bother, really. Just occasionally are there...then not.” He paused. “They move things, out for that.” 

“Hmm.” My feelings were initially mixed before I almost began relishing the idea. 

“I thought you might dig it.” 

“Yeah, kinda. Let’s see how it goes.” 

Initially it was no bother. On some nights the smaller shadows, two of them from what I could tell, would hide in the shelter of the angled corners of the room, watching me write or play guitar or get high. Probably even while pleasuring myself as well, though I never really checked to see. I’m sure they saw it all. They’d occasionally hover over me while I was trying to sleep (usually another exercise in futility) so I was quite aware of their presence. It happened mostly on nights my roommate wasn’t home, and sometimes when he was. They seemed to have no particular interest in him, but loomed around me often and for long periods. Sometimes their presence would render as sounda distant and disconnected child’s laugh mixed with some kind of odd musica mix of carny-classical-jazz that doesn’t belong in this dimension—an awkward yet incessant and mildly intense, flittery sound. It was sometimes a bit daunting, never particularly uncomfortable, but more fascinating and fairly intriguing. These were sounds inimitable to how we as humans understand music. 

Before I go any further, let me tell you how I ended up here in this ramshackle suburban squat, sharing a room with a tormented friend, in a house with four other sketchy and distant people with their insane dog, surrounded by sentient mold and these blasted angles of shadow beings obsessed with me during the dead of night. Not to mention, whatever the hell it is that’s started to scratch from the inside of the unopenable gnome-door at the foot of my bed-mat—that’s a story in and of itself.

Elizabeth Lynn was the love of my cursed and nomadic life, my soulmate and the only person who ever accepted mefor the infinitely fucked up being I amas me, as is. I loved her deeply, soulfully. To a point, anyway, apparently. “You’re me!” she used to say in all her cuteness. She was a different sort of creature herself, of the rare para-perceptive mind, as I am. But one morning I watched her facial features change. I noticed her eyes go as flat as this newfound deadness took over her face. Just four hours earlier she was her...and then she wasn’t. The words she spoke were of ego and pain, some odd choice between myself and the hollow promise of material riches. She chose the promise of wealth, and the brightest light I had ever known, ever seen, had suddenly gone dark. Being who and what I am, I know I'm not always the easiest person to deal with, but her spur of the moment decision (during perhaps our first argument in two years) stuck fast like the freakish mold in the goddamned sink. Her egocentric pride and desire to belong overrode our bond of mind and soul. I can still feel her, still smell her in the early morning if I’ve slept, or in the thick of night when the shadows lurk and reach into my wrecked soul, while I'm longing for her warmth and the divinity of her taste. She broke something never again attainable, something important in the fabric of this realm of unending pain, this apocalypse of existential quirks with a unified loathing for this dying world. She turned our world into an ashtray. I told her the dimensions were bleeding through, that my worst fear was waking up to a her-not-heran alien. And I did. She once had the most beautiful smile and evil-drenched sarcastic laugh. She was a real beauty inside and out, in every way she could be; now unrecognizable after one night. She once loved me for just being me. Now she hates me for the same reason. 

So I left most of my meager possessions and moved a hundred miles back to my home town. Again. This place I’ve been trying to escape for a lifetime. A somber habitat whose tendrils apparently have some sort of hold on my life, perhaps my soul. That’s how I ended up rooming with Jason. As to the angelic princess turned demonic angel whom I still love despite the amount of intense pain and dire heartache that was caused, I can only wish the best for her while on her on own dark journey into this melting reality. She will not like it. When ready, she knows how to find me. Or perhaps I should say did know how to find me. Part of me wants to be lost. Now you know. 

This particular night the frequency is different in the biting cold of this unheated house, in the midst of a storm-driven power outage. I can see them clearly as I write this beneath the sloping thirty-three degree angle under which I work and sleep. I have one vanilla scented candle, heart-shaped and tacky, and I’ve no idea where the hell it came from. Three wicks. It is lit, projecting just the right illumination to bring on the full menagerie of angles seen and unseen. It's flickering light casts shadows within shadows dancing in angles within angles. The room has become a different place altogether, as though the bleeding dimension has finally overlapped with this one, with mine. Everything I’d said to Elizabeth Lynn has happened, as I dreamed and thought and felt it would, although the bleed-through is rendering this realm no longer malleable to my touch. I am confused, for now it really is as I had said. 

Horrible and sinister alternate places are crashing headlong into ours, altering mindsswitching out the souls of the blind, the unaware, the sleepingin the blink of an eye. Whatever this was, it tore away the best part of humanity, an invisible epidemic of stolen souls, leaving shifted personalities and darkened eyes in its wake. Of course, this theory could just be my own stressed and half-mad mind rationalizing things that “just happen.” But that is not what is happening. This is also physical, molecular. The particles from here are blending with the particles from there and reorganizing into something wretched. This is a mass mutation of hatred coming from elsewhere, from something bigger and perhaps blind to all that we think we are, these useless sacks of sentient goo, really no better than that quivering, giggling mold down in the sink. 

“Just happen...” Did the shifting multiple angles of my room “just happen?” What about the three shadow-beings glaring at me from the disorienting flicker of the now Escher-scape of this tiny room in which I am trapped? I lay back and watch this in a sort of dulled amazement. I’m not really sure how to react. 

Outside I hear strange and unidentifiable sounds of creaking, squealing metal accompanied by a low hum, and the sounds of unknown baying creatures and human terror filling the stormy night. The metallic sound is emanating from the sky, unlike anything I’ve ever heard before, and for all the disquiet it brings, all of it, there’s a nice accompaniment happening in hideous synchronicity to the dancing throb of the flickering walls. Same for the swelling flute-like netherworld music that only I can hear, hearkening back to the ugly days of minstrels and freak shows filtered through the tainted illusion of a silent film. It’s slightly louder than usual, and I still can’t figure out its source. It just exists. Or perhaps it’s the mold. This resonance always accompanies the two smaller shadow beings, who are now leering at me by the closet as I write this. 

The one thing that disturbs me most of all is the aforementioned gnome door. And that’s because it has started to rattle violentlyand it locks from the outside. The door is supposedly unopenable. 

It rattles and bangs in primal rhythmic bursts. There should be nothing in there. I don't like this one bit. It keeps me frozen in place here beneath the dagger-sharp outer corners and undulating walls that twist and reshape before my eyes, while the smaller shadow beings creep hazily toward itthat dreadful small door at the foot of my mat. 

With jittery flickering movements, the darkness waved a shadow over the latch, which I heard slowly lift and slide, ancient paint crackling away as it did so. My chest tightened and I could barely breathe as the door kicked open and the most indescribably nasty little creature burst out. At first it was still, breathing deeply and sniffing the air, staring about the shifting room and its charged atmosphere of unknown particles and worlds colliding. It was on all fours, but raised to a hunched two-legged stance, shaking with an unfettered fury. It resembled an anorexic possum with thick short wiry-sharp hair, like grey pins, almost quills. Its rodent-like head displayed a nightmare of jagged, razor-sharp teeth. Its inordinately large mouth drooled. The eyes were rounded and glowing red, beneath a brow furrowed with intense hate. It finally turned and caught my terrified gaze. This thing peered deeply into me from the foot of my small bed-mat, its chest heaving with barely controlled rage. 

I couldn't move, could not comprehend, could not even think. I was now fully immersed, trapped, in an unfamiliar world I understood less than the previous one I’d resided in. Reality, as I had always perceived it, had finally answered my lifelong questioning of its stability, and I was, admittedly, stricken with another stark terror: the paramount fear that I was right, had always been right. Fuck. Well, to a degree, anyway. I was being shown the complete transmutability of this reality into that reality; for certainly, another reality had crashed into and utterly subverted mine. 

The strange classical-carny-flute music continued to play its morbidly sweet and discordant tune of notes we do not have, that most of mankind is either too dim or simple to acknowledge. Some, however, are apparently not only sensitive but highly open to it, under the right circumstances. But I’ve no idea what they are. Consequently, it does not matter. 

Amidst the chaos, sound and shadow, and deathly movement of that horrid little thing breathing and glaring at me with its heaving swells of pure malice, along with my catatonic yet amazed being, I felt as if sudden communications from even more bizarre yet present, unseen beings were seeping into my skull. Could these be the perpetrators of those ghastly, high pitched squeals and scrapes and rumbles felt in the chest that seemed to emit from some place hidden in the clouds above? It wasn’t the three shadows, nor was it the perpetually staring, unblinking animal at the foot of the bed-mat. I could only remain still as that rat-thing might react in some violent, furious fashion to any movement, any direct eye contact. It was appalling, it didn’t belong here in my room, nor in that crawlspace, nor in this worldor was it that world? Goddamnit. 

The music tensed and jerked like a cramping muscle, once peaceful discordance becoming loathsome, morbid cacophonous din. These were ugly sounds, like pins to the ear or sonic ipecac poured down the throat. I wanted to vomit, but my empty stomach only left me convulsing with savage, dry heaves. The beast at my feet seemed to languish in my terror and misery, practically laughing at these acts of built-in human emotion played out as involuntary dismay of every sort. I swore its fanged rodent mouth was twisting back into a leering smile. 

The large shadow creature formed out of the angled penumbra on the other side of the shifting room. It came to me, a few feet from the bed. It seemed bigger, taller now. Claiming it as eight feet tall would be an understatement. The ceiling seemed not to exist, but was instead merely some kind of loose particle-aether imitating the ceiling. To my perception it had dissolved, transmuted into something else, that only some deep ancient intuition had even the slightest concept of, but no words for. 

In full disclosure, my life had always been a strange affair, and I've invariably been a magnet for phenomenological occurrences, but this was fucking incomprehensible. I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it, to cry at the dire knowledge being dispelled and projected in countless immutable ways. Awe and terror had become one. 

It then lunged, that monstrosity at the foot of my bedding, the horrid little thing scurrying up my legs, over my crotch then stomach until it sat upon my chest. It leaned in, placed its wretched face to mine, and growled some form of gibberish as though I was supposed to understand it. I did not. It then dropped to all fours, laying low, resting on my solar plexus and leering, judging, as if contemplating its next move.

The large shadow-being then loomed over me, looking down and saying nothing, but projecting a voice into my skull in a language I’d never heard but fully understood. It was more or less untranslatable, but I now knew what I had to do. This universe, this world, was no longer mine. There was another layer, another transmutative systematization coming from the wicked cosmos. Mankind is too dim to ever fully comprehend or properly understand. Man is primarily a closed beast, but for the seemingly chosen and not as nomadic few. 

This thing on my chest was from somewhere else, and somewhere else am I supposed to go. It was making these sharp, dreadful gosling sounds and ululating howls to the music of madness, the shadows projecting like stereophonic echoes of coughing horror. The flames from my candle were beginning to drip upwards to the ceiling, disappearing in blue sparks as they hit the undulating particle barrier. 

The rough beast continued to stare and gurgle as the smaller shadow beings came and beckoned me with odd gestures to rise to my knees. As I sat up, the creature climbed over my shoulder and down my back. 

The larger shadow being was by the gnome door, holding it wide open, its extraordinary words projecting into my skull, suggesting this was what I had to do. I had no control, none of this was my choice, but rather a random choice made by an infinite cosmos that does not care. Much like all the other entities that hide deep within, eternally there, always felt, but forever unseen. There is no “god” as most humans think and wish upon with silly prayers as though they were in some fairy tale. But there are a number of other things lurking that really just don’t care, and are generally not even aware that you are here or there. The things that do know recognize us for the primitive vermin that the human species really is. 

They beckoned me to all fours, like that desiccated otherworldly possum thing, like the beast that I am. As I crawled across the floor, I looked back and saw my body still there on the bed. And at that moment I saw the most dreadful thing, appalling to every sense and then some. That uncanny rodent demon was climbing down the throat of the other me, that me’s mouth distending, his jaw cracking. The throat rose with an immense lump as the rodent horror slithered itself in and down, the tail slipping into my other’s mouth and disappearing like a nightcrawler back into its mud-hole. 

Was that me? Or is this me? To dwell on this would make the somewhat functional me writing this diatribe a madman to the point of violently lashing out at a laughing, undefeatable cosmos. Or perhaps it would be suicide if the shock didn’t do me in first. I couldn’t look at it anymore. This is me. Down on the floor. Writing these words. Crawling to the door.

The shadows are guiding me through the gnome door. I’ve realized that the floor is also now a loose particle slop much like the ceiling. It does support me however, like a wavering, beige colored jello. They let me write this final document of my experience in the hope that others will read this and understand, will know what to do once the great collision occurs in each and everyone’s reality bubble. I’ve two marked envelopes to the couple of people who may understand, who might attempt to publish this madness to make others aware of what is coming, that nothing is truly what it seems yet nothing is everything; that mankind’s mutable place in anything is the pinnacle of futility. 

After I enter the door, I am to toss this manuscript out. The shadows will place it on Jason’s bed, upon which he’ll see it in the morning, make copies, and send it out. 

I am now facing the door, at the threshold of a world I once knew now alien and unknown to me, much like my former lover’s eyes, to which another me is already here, yet someone else entirely. Just beyond that doorstep I see only a stifling, terrifying black, a void of which I may fall or float into or implode within, but I’ve no choice. That new thingin this once somewhat familiar, now particle-seeping placeis not me. I am whatever becomes in the void, inside that door. A death-to-birth in one fell movement of a moment. 

I leave here with only disgust for our world of allusive illusions and blatant dishonesty, traits now ingrained in an infestation of self-righteous idiots and quasi-elitist bullshit sellers, bold faced liars of great lies about their lives of abundance while secret hells occur behind closed doors. I cross this threshold as I can take no more heartache, no more soul crushing deceits to explode like atom bombs in the midst of peace. My mass is not long for this world, and these shadow beings are pushing me into another realm, something insidiously happening in this realm for far too long. I am one with it.

I look forward with a fairly legitimate fear of this particle-driven unknown. Will I just become part of the Void? Will I enter the dimension overlapping ours? Is this the great cosmic shift? Am I just dreaming? High and not aware of it? It doesn’t matter now, for I am crossing the threshold. 

My body feels nothing at first, then a slight pins-and-needles reclamation of such. The scent is sweet, familiar, perhaps of a beast like me. What begins to fade into my vision is far beyond any proper description, but this is now a world and it is forming into something amazing, perhaps the place I always should’ve been. Colors I’ve never seen before fill my eyes with their brilliant display, and I know that scent. This manuscript is beginning to dissolve from my grip, particle disintegration taking it back before I can finish. 

I’m still in darkness but it’s beginning to form around me like raising neon sandcastles, coming into beautiful shape from the void of nothing. I hear a sound, something akin to a voice, distant and muffled. It hides within the consequence of the enveloping particle world around me, caught up in a sort of whoosh

To my absolute astonishment, my soul suddenly feels aflame with new life and I realize I am home, reforming, getting whole. 

That voice, my name, it hides within the colors of the scents, coming from all directions but nowhere, frequency vibrating particles stillthey do not want me writing thisthe manuscript, the pen, are rapidly fading from my faded hands as I find myself a new form in this new land. 

That voice, those colors, that scent

I need a vision 

Then I see

Now I see

With all the fire and light in my soul I see the voice slowly coming together as a solid form particle, much like myself. I don’t know what I am but I am

Now I see

I am

A vision

They are

A vision

A voice 

They are 

Colors and a scent

Disassociated familiarity

Oh, mother of gods, it’s so beautiful, you’re 

                                                          Click  Image Below
      to read
        BLIND EYE
        by Edgar Allan Poe & John Shirley
online only
      on the FREEZINE of
     Fantasy and Science

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.)