banner art above by Charles Carter

Monday, March 9, 2020


   While I was on a pirate website I saw an app called Name2Face. It was a facial recognition app. It was supposed to hook up to the cloud and match faces against a billion images. According to the docs it used the Russian VK database, but had backdoors into Facebook, Google, and Shutterfly. It claimed 99% accuracy. Normally €199.99 but they had a hacked version for free. I snatched it.

   You know, there is reason that you shouldn’t download apps for your android from anywhere except the Google Play Store. What that reason is, though, escapes me from time to time and I give it a try. If you are really adventurous you can try some of the Indian or Russian sites and get some cracked premium apps for free. Of course, this is like going on vacation and leaving your condoms at home.

   Name2Face was habit forming. There is a joke that if you walk down any street in New York and call everyone you meet an asshole, nine times out of ten you’ll be right. This is probably true, but now I knew all of the asshole’s names.

   Turn on the app and a splash screen comes on with the image of a shield with some Cyrillic text. Press the button on the left (I figure it is the Russian word for OK) and hold up the phone to a crowd of people. Little boxes appear around everyone’s head, and in a second their name appears. You can tap the name and go to their Facebook wall, or Twitter feed, VK, or their Instagram account or some sites in Russian and Chinese. You can send them an email or text. Pretty cool, don’t you think?

   To give an example, I was walking down Broad Street on my way to work, when this drop dead gorgeous woman crossed in front of me going across on Wall Street. She had to have been a model or actress or call girl. The app was on and it caught her face. One tap later I had her.

   Mindy Mossfirth it said. I followed after her. Age 28, Vice President of Angular Investments, Inc. There was a list of her social accounts, her email and a few phone numbers I clicked on the first one and sent a text: “Dinner Tonight?” I watched as she pulled out her phone and tapped it. She looked puzzled, tapped again and put the phone in her pocket.

   “How about lunch?” I texted.

   Again she discarded the message.

   I tried again, “Sex?”

   She didn’t even take the phone out of her pocket. Oh well, it was her loss.

   It was fun. I could walk down a street and say, “Hi Bill,” “Hey Frankie,” “What’s up Estelle?” and get these surprised faces. I would just keep moving, leaving behind some confused people. I got into the habit of doing it every morning while waiting for the train, and in a while I was getting people saying 
hello to me before I even got their names on the screen. Someone called me Carlos one morning while waiting for the 8:19, and then everyone was saying “Hi Carlos.” My name is Anthony. 

   Every few days I would see beautiful Mindy and she would get a dirty text from me. This went on for a couple of weeks until she turned around and slapped me in the face. I guess she figured it out. It was not a coincidence that I was always there when she got the texts.

   The other women I texted like that never did catch on.

   At lunchtime there was a guy who sat on a park bench near the corner of Broadway and Chambers. He always looked out of it. He would eat a sandwich and feed bits of bread to the pigeons. He was dressed well enough, but his clothes didn’t seem to fit right. He was overweight and had one of those mashed potato faces. His name was Roland Mitchell.

   One day I sent him a text: “Roland, Why don’t you just give up.”

   He reached in his pocket and tapped his phone. My phone buzzed when he answered, “OK.”

   I saw him the next day. “End it now. You’ve got nothing to live for.”

   No answer.

   The next day I sent him: “Just fall down in front of a bus.”

   The next day there was a pile of flowers on the park bench.

   What a loser.

   The app was not 100%. Several times I saw Tommy Rivera, who had died riding the top of a subway car through the Bronx when we were 15. The train passed under a low clearance ceiling and scraped him off. He was my best friend until then. I nearly fell down the first time the app said Tommy Rivera, because it was him. He hadn’t changed a bit since we were in high school. The person, who was not Tommy Rivera because Tommy was dead, must have worked near the World Trade Center because I kept seeing him down near Battery Place. Maybe he was Tommy’s cousin or something, but I never asked.

   I saw Roland Mitchell again and he wasn’t dead. He walked by me and stared me in the face. The app said it was him. Before I could text him, the guy, who couldn’t have been Roland Mitchell, gave me the finger as he passed me. When I turned to yell back at him he was gone.

   The app made a few weird mistakes. I saw Alfred Hitchcock, Woodrow Wilson and Kurt Cobain. The app was right except that they were all dead. I kept seeing them. Once I said “Hi Kurt,” and the guy said “hey,” and kept walking. I guess he was used to it.

   Jesus Christ was a frequent visitor to Wall Street. I guess he has some work there. He was an Arab looking guy with a short beard. He was dressed in a gray business suit. I think the app may have been confused because he wore sandals, although I doubt the real Jesus wore his sandals with white socks.

   Whenever I met Jesus, he would smile and nod to me. The app said he was Jesus Christ, or sometimes Jesus of Nazareth, but he was always seemed a hell of a nice guy.

   Now this is the bad part.

   One day I saw Death. That’s what the app said.

   The first time I literally felt cold chills up and down my spine. There was this guy two blocks in front of me, but he was tall and I could see him clearly. The app said “Death” with a capital “D.” He wore a black hoodie, black skinny jeans and black high tops, but you couldn’t see his face. All I could see when I passed by him was the glint of eyes in the shadows of the hood. He looked me in the eye; he just stared right at me like he was waiting for something.

   Every few hours I saw the guy. He was always standing still, and it was always a good distance away. He was always looking right at me. If I tapped the box around his head, there was nothing there except a website link, but if I tapped the link I would get this “Server not Found” error.

   I tried to make a little sense out of everything. The app was definitely wacky. It worked well on most people, but when it failed, it failed on the weird side. The main trouble is it kept on showing me dead people.

   For example, on one walk from the subway exit to my job, about six blocks, I saw Tommy Rivera twice, my Grandfather, my Father, Uncle Frankie, my second grade school teacher Mrs. Riesman, Albert Einstein, and five presidents. It was like there were more dead people than live ones on the street that day.

   One day I saw my cousin Shirley (Mom’s sister’s kid). I walked over to talk to her, but she was gone. My mother called me that night to tell me Shirley had died of breast cancer about the time I saw her.

   My Grandma Torino claimed to be psychic. She said she always knew when someone had died or someone was in trouble. She dreamed about my Grandfather dying the day before he had the heart attack. She liked to look at you and read your future. She always told me that I was headed for a bad end if I wasn’t careful. I’ve always proven her wrong, even if I’ve come close a couple of times. Maybe the app was bringing out the same talent in me. Maybe this was my talent. Maybe I could see Death.

   I stopped using the app, but now that I knew what to look for I kept seeing Jesus and Death, and, for some reason, an old time actor named Ronald Coleman.

   I decided that I needed a change so I took some vacation time and went to a resort hotel on Cancun.

   It didn’t help. Death was still death and Jesus Christ went swimming with one of those teeny weenie euro-trash swimming trunks. At least he didn’t go commando like some of the people there.

   I used the app to chat up a pretty woman in a bikini. She was a few years older than I and a little overweight, but I wouldn’t kick her out of bed, as they say, and I didn’t have to. She took my mind off of things. She was from Boston. I gave her a fake email and promised to call her. I doubt if I will.

   Life is too short to worry about this stuff. I came back with a new attitude. I didn’t have time to think about Death and the dead people. They were just annoying things that sprang up from an app that encouraged my imagination to work overtime. You could see animals in the clouds, faces in the grain of a piece of wood. You could see the shadows move; sometimes when there was nothing there.

   The app, like the human brain, is a liar. It likes to connect the dots when the dots are just random. Anyone could find patterns in randomness. Anyone could hear music flowing in the traffic noise. Anyone could see Death standing behind every door. The app was just a simple version of a human brain looking for patterns and finding them whether they were real or not.

   It was my own damn fault for letting it get to me, and I found it easy to cut it out. As soon as I stopped looking, I stopped seeing. I kept my phone in my pocket and never started the app. I looked straight ahead and stopped making eye contact with people on the street. I didn’t see Death. All I had to do was stop looking for him. If I didn’t see him, he wasn’t there. That’s the way I approached it.

   Of course Jesus Christ still smiled when I crossed his path, but that’s because I had been saying “hi” to him for so long. I kept seeing Roland Mitchell standing in the middle of the street while I waited for the light to change, but the buses went around him. Mindy Mossfirth still crossed Broad Street on the way to work, but she never showed signs of recognizing me. I owed her a nice juicy text, but why bother? She was out of my league.

   That’s not to say that I never used the app again. It was useful. There was an old time guy named Big Jim Farley who owned a Library. He was supposed to have kept a book of everyone’s name and particulars so he could walk up to you, look you in the eye and make you feel like he really remembered you. The app was my “Farley File.” I sometimes had meetings with high level clients, and it was useful to walk up to a guy you may never have met, look him in the eye and say “Hi, Maxwell, how’s Irene and the kids?” Whenever I was in these meetings, though, Death stood in the back of the room and just watched. He never raised his hand when I asked the eventual, “Any questions?”

   The last time I used the app was at this big shindig for the some high mucky-mucks from the London Stock Exchange. It was held in one of the big meeting rooms at the Andaz Hotel. They had a tacky champagne fountain and pretty girls carrying plates of spicy fried squid and other stuff you’d never touch if it wasn’t free. I went for the open bar, but I stayed because it was a fun place to use the app.

   I harassed several tall thin women in spike heels that were either trophy wives or hired escorts. I said hello to heads of state and asked about the health of their grandchildren. I hit on the wives of Wall Street executives. I had entirely too much fun.

   I walked up to a delegate from the Russian embassy that looked lost and alone. “Hey, Serge,” I said with a wink, “How’s the back? I heard you sprained it. Too much rough sex?” I knew about his bad back because he had posted about it on VK, the Russian Facebook. I knew about his special interests because he had two accounts and the app knew both of them. One was definitely not meant to be public.

   I slapped him on the back and he grunted in pain. I think that is when I screwed up. I turned and held up my phone looking for something else fun to do, and I think he saw the screen and recognized it. Maybe, though, the app was monitored and I was getting a little too much use out of it on a connection that was not meant for the general public. It could be that the SVR RF (Russian CIA) was tracking me. I may have over utilized the app in the party at the Andaz.

   A couple of hours later I left the party, feeling no pain. I had been drinking $50 shots of single malts. It was lucky that I didn’t have to drive. I could take the water ferry up to 40th street and the cool river air would help me sober up.

   I was walking down to the dock at the foot of Wall when two guys in dark suits came up on either side of me and held my arms. One reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out my phone. They pushed me down and by the time I stood up they were gone.

   The next day I got a new phone. I restored all my data from the cloud, but the app, since it had not been purchased, had never been backed up. I looked for the website where I had downloaded it, but I couldn’t find it. That’s OK. I’d had my fun with the app. I didn’t need it.

   A week later there was a stock market “correction” and my firm needed to lay off a few hundred people so I was out of a job. I have money squirreled away, so I was not too concerned. A smart guy like me wouldn’t be on unemployment for long. I started my job search. I missed the app, especially for interviews. It would have helped.

   After a few months of fruitless job hunting, I would just go down to corner of Broadway and Chambers and sit with Roland on the bench and watch people.

   I don’t really need the app. I can tell you the name of almost everyone that passes by. Lots of them are dead people. Albert Einstein is cool. He always gives me a high five when he goes by. Tommy Rivera is definitely not cool and doesn’t even talk to me. Everyone knows me as Carlos, still, so I guess that I am Carlos now.

   My life now is watching all the people go by on Broadway on their way to meaningless jobs. I know their names and I know their stories. I think I am waiting for something to happen. I might get a job. Someone might like my resume. I’ve got time. I don’t spend much and I won’t need to work for years. I get the feeling that something is going to happen eventually. Maybe there is an app that will tell me.

   They say “there is an app for that,” but what if you need an app but don’t know why. Is there an app that will get me a job? Is there an app that will stop me from seeing dead people? Is there an app that will tell death to stop following me? Is there an app that will make sense of my life? Is there an app to tell what app I need? I guess I can Google Ukrainian pirate sites and browse the hacked apps to find what I need.

   Death sits right next to me now, although he doesn’t talk. His bony fingers point to someone from time to time and I know that their time is nearly up. His hoodie has the Nike logo on the back, and I try to peek into the hood to see his face, but I can only make out the shine of his eyes.

   Jesus stands still on the crowded sidewalk. He smiles at me a lot and seems to be waiting for me to say something. I wonder why I see him and not Moses or Mohammad. Why not the devil or some Norse God?

   I never talk to him. I don’t have anything to say. What do you say to Jesus, anyway?

   I’ll be damned if I know.

Please Return This Saturday

only on 
Fantasy and Science

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent story, with an easy flow. Thank you for sharing it, Keith!


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.)