banner art above by Charles Carter

Saturday, July 31, 2021

MicroMystery Issue ☇ 26

 



     Welcome to the twenty-sixth issue of the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Rolling out in the aftermath of the Year of Perfect Vision post-pandemic, we have all been directly affected by the widespread repercussions of the latest coronavirus epidemic proliferating through the human race. In times like these the turbulence of actual events remains enough, not to mention the exacerbation of viewing and processing it all through the multiple lenses behind the masks of identity on up through the massive thought-provoking hypnosis by the media feeding into the conglomerate of motifs and memes that self-identify in our view as the open market of soul possession and mass-conducted consumption of the celluloid shadow ghosts dancing on the screens of our mind's eye, the monsters of vision we love so much beckoning us to succumb to their predatory embrace in the middle of the night.  

     The Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction has been chronicled online since the summer of two-thousand-and-nine and archived for posterity ever since, for anyone to stumble upon while surfing along the breakers and eddies of the world wide web to encounter a story they've never read by an author they may or may not have ever heard about before, accompanied by some interesting artwork by an intriguing coterie of artists sharing a strange magnetic attraction to each other's inner vibrations. This issue began upon a blank canvas, like all the issues before it, only this time the canvas has been constructed of polarized energy particles shining in quantum magnetic suspension and supplying the necessary chain of interactions to illuminate your home screen. 


 

      Without the following friends and acquaintances on FB this august issue would not be possible, which streamed in realtime throughout the month of July in the year following the Covid-19 pandemic. I owe debts of gratitude to the following cohorts in bringing madness and delirium so perfectly into focus. Callum Leckie, we met back in the squalid depths of the interwoven kingdoms of the cybernetic world. You were among the first lost souls I discovered on my own wayward journey towards oblivion. That we are collaborating now with my short experimental fiction [Broken Head] in this issue where I've interpolated some of my favorite Eno lyrics into the narrative fills me with a distant sense of satisfaction. Here's to you across the turbulent waters of the sea, mate. I look forward to more fantastic configurations upon which we might yet collaborate.  

     To Jason Barnett, thanks for letting me raid your stash of stark and horrifying images by which I can pilfer certain bits and shrieking niblets to crop and post up front and center over any story with which it resonates on deeper levels than perhaps humankind's eyes were meant to gaze upon for free.  The vision resonating in my head that's been fed by the nanobots a-swarming in my brain have directed me by multiple strings conducting a symphony of pouring pain and beauty in the form of words and pictures arriving from the remotest depths of the human carnival of living souls we call the internet.  I sure hope your band Petrification returns to SLC for another night of sonic attack and devastation. I'm quite grateful for your participation here on the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  

     To Drew Roulette, your paintings are one of a kind as is your generous soul which I can feel radiating all the way out here even though we've only met about ten times at each and every show your band Dredg played to which I was lucky enough to attend, from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City you guys swept through plenty of times and those will always stay among the greatest shows I've been to in a lifetime of so many concerts it's a wonder they've not all been lost in a blur of memories reeling by over the years yet somehow I can remember each one pretty clear if I stop to think about it for a moment.  Back to the Future indeed, for that's where we're always aimed at and it seems like we'll never arrive but that's only because we haven't removed the blinders from our eyes which merged into a third one refracted from the rest into becoming a panopticon of panorama which puts our vision to the test.  As someone once upon a time sang, "Use your illusion," and I'm thankful you've let me use yours in this webzine. 

   


     A hearty shout out to my fellows in writing J.R. Torina and Keith Graham. The Freezine featured Mr. Torina eleven-and-a-half years ago when we serialized his old school Lovecraftian pulp novel The House in the Port (two years before it appeared in print from Sutekh Productions in March of 2012). We're all too happy up here on our lofty webzine a certain fraction of the way into our exosphere that J.R. took the time to write down Anthropophagus from having had a dream about it. I'm gratified that he jotted it down as best as he could in his notebook before its grisly details could fade altogether from his mind.  Good thing he sent it in because the Freezine considers itself an expert on dreams. I was able to match three snippets of Jason Barnett's illustrious virtual gallery of vivid phantasmagoria to accompany this fruiting nightmare of reversed putrefaction.  These two dark artists from the extreme underground resonate with each other in my view, and I remain indebted to them both for this collaboration the Freezine brings to you. 

     Where would we be without Keith Graham? It turns out that from a recent nanohost missive, there's a direct correlation plainly established between his body of work online and the vectors of distribution which the transmission from the nine stranded astronauts on Ceres in the year 2045 have managed to direct toward us in their concerted effort to reach out and positively affect a percentage of the human populace into executing a program of their passion for the love of doing it rather than for monetary gain. This sequence of missives fired back in time through the heart of Sagittarius A-Star sprayed the decades like so many flying bits of rock salt blasted from a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun. It was invariable that some of that would spray laterally through temporal cross sections of electromagnetic energy and end up hitting me, when I happened to walk by a C-arm flashing blue laser light in the radiology department of a hospital I used to work at.  Little did I know then that my impulse to put out the Freezine was being guided by a crew of dedicated astronauts trapped on Ceres. But I've gotten off track and almost forgot to thank Keith for sending in his story Two Annies right in the nick of time to feature it as the closer of our august, I mean July issue of this radiant zine. Thanks for being my right hand man and partner in crime, Keith.  That you dare assist me in this rash endeavor has helped keep this cyberliterary vessel afloat upon the photons behind the screens of our mind for quite some time. 

   
Thanks for reading 
the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. 
Here's the TOC for the 26th issue 
dubbed MicroMystery ☇ 26  





art from the public domain



photo by S. Lawton





     And that's a wrap for yet another issue of the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Thanks to all of our readers and followers and regular contributors and those eager souls along for the ride over the years while we gather together to keep the gears turning and new stories coming with flourishing artwork that keeps outcropping along the perimeters of this seemingly randomly generated cyberzine blossoming along the virtual contours of the ever morphing world wide web.   Stay tuned to this same digital bat channel for the next issue to be generated whenever I've received enough submissions that will fit the overall tone and expectations of fine quality pulp fiction providing a temporary escape from the otherwise alluring ravages of the circumstances of the world into which we are all embroiled. 



If you would like your story to be featured in a future 
issue of the Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
by all means reach out and email the editor at
FreezineFantasyScienceFiction@gmail.com 
and an agent of the MicroHorde will reach out to you




Issue  27 coming
SOON 
2 0 2 1





   

Friday, July 30, 2021

Two Annies

  by Keith P. Graham







Mayhew was not a strong guy. He struggled under the weight of Annie’s body that he carried over his shoulders. Too many years of bad living and too many cigarettes had taken its toll on his strength.  

“Stay with me, girl,” he said, more to himself than a plea to the unconscious woman he carried, “stay with me, Annie.”

He could still feel her breathing, he thought, as he trudged through the slushy February snow. He left droplets of the red in the snow behind him as Annie slowly bled out. He could see the brownstone apartment building up ahead. He only hoped that the Professor would answer the door at this late hour. He might still be up.

Mayhew tried to move the girls body up higher with a jerk and he heard her gasp. He hoped that sound was a good thing.

There were nine steps up to the landing and Mayhew’s calves hurt as he climbed up them. The door was broken and off its hinges. He squeezed through the opening, trying not to disturb the woman on his back. Prof. Rumbata lived on the third floor. Mayhew moved Annie up as high as he could on his shoulders and continued the climb up the steps, catching his breath at each landing.

Mayhew’s breath came in painful gasps by the time he reached the 3rd floor. There was a typed card thumb-tacked to the door that said Prof. and Dr. Rumbata. It seemed much colder inside the stairwell than it had been outside. He kicked on the door with his foot and yelled, “Professor, it’s me, Mayhew. Let me in.”

There was stirring from inside the apartment. He heard a bolt slide open and a chain move into place. A pale eye peered out from the doorway.

“I told you, Mayhew, that I didn’t need any more subjects. Go away.”

“This is not a subject. This is a friend of mine and she needs help.”

The professor looked at the girl and then back to Mayhew. “She needs a medical Doctor. I can’t do anything for her.”

“She’s dying,” Mayhew said, “I need you to save her. You said you could do it.”

“Out of the question. If I get caught doing this, it is jail time for me. I don’t do this anymore.”

“You have to, Professor!”

“Go away. There is a night hospital on 14th Street. Perhaps they can do something for you.”

Annie groaned.

Rumbata looked away and started to close the door. Mayhew rammed against it with all of his strength, breaking the chain and pushed into the room.

“Get out! Get out!” the Professor yelled.

“Look Prof, you are going to do this.” Mayhew pushed by him into the bedroom on the left. There was a hospital bed in the room surrounded by computer equipment. Mayhew gently laid Annie onto the bed.

“With what I know about you,” Mayhew told the Professor, “I can put you away for years.”

“You wouldn’t dare!” the Professor Rumbata protested, “If they seize my records, you would go away, too.”

“Right now I don’t care. Annie’s dying and you are the only one who can help me.”

A woman appeared in the doorway. Mayhew had never seen her, but she looked like he would’ve imagined a Mrs. Rumbata would look like.

“Do it and get rid of them, Inesh” she said.

“Go back inside, Ela,” the Professor said, “I can handle this.”

“Do it,” she said. She walked by the men, and looked at Annie. She went to a closet and came out with a packet of lactated ringers, found a vein and tied the bag to a pole on the bed.

“Don’t let her die here,” she said and left the room.

The Professor turned around and looked at the woman on the bed.

“OK, OK,” he said, “Let’s make this quick.”

“No,” answered Mayhew, “Let’s make it good.”

The Professor removed Annie’s clothes and placed adhesive sensors on her arms, legs, face and chest. He took off all of the hair on her head with an electric razor. He then carefully placed adhesive patches on her head so they covered her skull. The patches each had a small white lump in the center with LEDs that glowed red as he moved them in position.

Rumbata booted a laptop computer. He started a program. One by one the LEDs on Annie’s skull turned green. The Professor waited a little for the process to finish and then he pressed a key and all the LEDs turned yellow and then again turned green. Rumbata seemed satisfied.

The Professor pressed a button on the screen and a holographic joystick appeared above the keyboard. He moved it around slowly. As he did this, Annie’s left leg kicked and then her right leg. Her arms shuddered in turn. She breathed in deeply and let out a little moan. Annie began to repeat the words “testing 1,2,3” softly. Her eyes opened and looked around the room and then they closed again. The Professor repeated the words, “testing 1,2,3.”

When the Professor had finished, he pushed the joystick down to the keyboard and tapped a button on the screen. A holographic billboard jump up from the laptop and numbers flashed from it. As he watched, the numbers would hesitate for a moment and then start again at a lower number. Sometimes this would happen a few times and Rumbata would lean over and look at the woman’s face, open one eye and move a small flashlight around in front of it. The number could would then become unstuck and the count would proceed.

Mayhew found a chair in the corner and sat down. He watched the Professor work. The little man seemed careful and competent. Mayhew had worried that he would rush the job just to get him out of his apartment, but it seemed that this was not the case. Whatever the Professor’s sins were, he was scrupulous in his work, and this was the only place that Mayhew had ever heard of, outside of an expensive clinic, that could clone a person’s mind.

“I don’t know how this will come out, Doc,” he said, “but in any case, I appreciate your effort. I am sorry that I bullied you into it. I would never tell anyone about our involvement in your research. It’s just I was desperate and that Annie...”

“Shut up, idiot! I am working,” answered Rumbata, but Mayhew could see that he appreciated the comment.

Mayhew dozed in the chair as the Professor continued the procedure. Once Mrs. Rumbata came in and gave him a cup of coffee. They talked to each other in Hindi and he could tell that they were looking at him. He assumed that she did not have a positive opinion of him.

Mayhew woke up suddenly. Rumbata was tapping him on the shoulder. “Wake up, man, wake up,” he was saying. Mayhew looked around a little confused and then he saw Annie Number 1 in the hospital bed. All of the connections had been removed from her. And she had been dressed. The computer was off. Annie was breathing slowly. The lactated ringers bag was nearly empty.

“You must get her out of here. The emergency door at the hospital will take her. She may yet live, but I doubt it. I think that you waited too long.”

“What about the file?” Mayhew asked.

Rumbata pressed a small data key into his hand. “This is it.”

“Is this the cloud key?”

“No, it is the data. It could be traced through a cloud transaction. This is the compressed file of her brain scan. More terabytes than you can think of. More bytes than there are cells in your head.”

“I owe you, doc,” Mayhew said.

“You owe me to never even think of me again. This the end of our relationship.”

Mrs. Rumbata came in and fussed over Annie. “You must get her to the hospital, now,” she said.

Annie seemed lighter as he went down the stairs. At the end of street he turned right on Avenue A and then left on 14th street.

The hospital was really just a small clinic that could handle emergencies while waiting for an ambulance to arrive from a real hospital. Mayhew knocked on the glass. The guard saw Annie on his shoulders and buzzed him in. He laid her down on a gurney and said, “Be good to her. She deserves it.”

He turned away, and ignoring the guards questions went out on the street. He thought that he would never see her again. He turned west towards the subway station.

As Mayhew put his hands in his pockets for warmth he could feel the essence of Annie Number 1 in a key in his pocket.

The money Mayhew needed came three days later in the form a cash card. He had resorted to a cryptocurrency scam that had been perfected 20 years before. He figured that everything old was new again, and he received the card on the first try. He immediately converted the cash card into coin and cut up the card before throwing it out in a dumpster near his apartment. He may only have enough for a down payment, but that’s all he would need.

The next day he heard from a friend that Annie had died. The police were looking for him, but they did not know who he was. It was possible that they had found his DNA on her clothes or body. Mayhew sent a text to Dr. Rumbata, warning him, but the text bounced. It looked like the good Professor had moved on.

Mayhew ordered a body from a website in Queens. There was a ten day delay while the body was configured. He had to pay extra to have a port for Annie’s key, and they argued with him about it. The file is not safe unless it is on the cloud, they said, and the automatic backups won’t occur until you open a cloud account. Mayhew had to check boxes several times indicating that he understood the risks. He settled for starting a cloud account for her backups.

For two weeks Mayhew did what he did best. He made money from people too stupid to handle their own money safely. He found it incredibly easy to make money this way, and people rarely complained, or even knew what had happened.

The body came in a cardboard box. It was lighter and much smaller than he could have expected, but when he cut open the box, the body unfolded onto the floor, the flesh expanding as the limbs straightened out. It was like one of those queen sized mattresses that come in a small package delivered to your door. He lifted the naked body onto the bed, rolled her over and found the key port. There was a little door that you could open with your thumbnail. He opened the door and placed the key into the port and stood back. Nothing seemed to happen. Maybe he had to charge the battery or something. There was a pamphlet with instructions in twelve languages. He would read it when he got back. In the meantime he had to get Annie some clothes for when she woke up.

Mayhew had ordered a body that wore a size 2 dress and size 4 shoes. He thought that this might please her. The new body had no hair, so he’d have to get her a wig or two. Finding clothes this size in a city of fast-food restaurants was harder then he thought. People did not seem to come in size 2 with relatively small feet anymore.

When Mayhew returned to his apartment, Annie was sitting on the bed with her hands across her small breasts.

“What happened to me,” She asked, “What have you done to me? Where are my clothes? What happened to my hair?”

“Here,” answered Mayhew, tossing her the bags of clothes. “You died.”

Her mind seemed focused on opening the bag to see what Mayhew had bought her, when she stopped as though finally hearing what he said.

“What do you mean, I died?”

“The Brothers Band jumped you on your way home. They wanted money for the cocaine scam you pulled. They killed you.”

“Yeah, I sort of remember, now,” she shook her head, as though trying to clear it, “They killed me? How?”

“I got there at the end. I got your text and I was upstairs waiting for you. They are dead now, I made sure of that, but they got a knife into you, and you lost a lot of blood.”

“But if I am dead…”

“I got you fixed with the Professor I told you about. He made a copy before you went out.”

“A copy!”

“Hey, you’re alive, right?”

She thought about it a moment and said, “And this skinny white body is all you could get for me?”

“Look, I had to hurry and I thought you might like being a size 2 for a change. You can change it to something else later, when things settle down.”

“Size 2! Are you calling me fat? I am not…I was not fat!”

Mayhew smiled. There was no doubt that this was Annie.

She liked her new clothes. She liked the new wigs. She liked being size 2. She liked the sex and so did Mayhew. The new body worked very very well.

The Brothers Band did not know that Mayhew had killed two of their number, but they might guess. They would never recognize Annie. Besides, she was technically immortal as long as her cloud backups worked and there was someone to buy her a new body. In any case, Annie had a cousin in Philadelphia and the two of them might decide to move.

About a week later, there was a key in the door.

In walked Annie. It was the original Annie, not Annie Number 2. She had a boyish crew cut and her clothes were obviously from some good will bin, but it was Annie.

After one look she screamed “You bastard!” and then a streak of Spanish invective that would curl you hair even if you didn’t speak Spanish. She put up her hands like cat’s claws and came for Mayhew. He grabbed her arms and held her away in order to avoid a bloody encounter, and she spit at him.

“Here I am in the hospital at death’s door for a month. You don’t come to see me, and I come home to find you shacked up with this skinny whore.”

There was more invective that even Mayhew couldn’t follow. He just kept repeating “Baby, baby, baby. You don’t understand. They told me you were dead.”

She did not seem to listen. She just struggled in his grip, trying to draw blood.

She slowed down for a moment and said, “Dead? I was in a coma and nearly dead, but I pulled through. I wasn’t dead.”

“I brought you to the hospital after they stabbed you. You nearly bled to death. I saved your life. I killed the two brothers. I saved your life.”

“You could have come to see me instead of bringing this skinny white girl into my bed.”

Annie Number 2 was filling a plastic bag with her clothes and bits of things. “I think I should get going,” she said, “I don’t belong here.”

“You sure as hell don’t, bitch,” Annie Number 1 said.

“Wait, Annie, I can explain,” he said, and both of the women looked at him. Mayhew looked back and forth between them, thinking of what he could possibly say.

“You were dying. You were nearly gone. After I killed the Brothers Band goons, I brought you to the Professor dude who could clone people. You remember I told you about him. I figured that was the only way I could save your life.”

“Well, I wasn’t dead,” said Annie Number 1. “You would have known if you had just called the hospital.”

“They told me you were dead, so I got you a new body. I got you a nice thin girl body.”

Both girls yelled at the same time, “I am not fat!”

This seemed to trigger a response in Annie Number 1. She looked at Annie Number 2, seeing her for the first time.

“You mean this little whore, is… is me?”

Annie Number 2 said, “And you are beautiful chiquita, you will look much better when you get some nice clothes and your hair grows back.”

Annie Number 1 said, “You know, I lost 15 pounds in the hospital.”

“And it looks good on you, girl, but you are going to need some new clothes,” Annie Number 2 said.

Just like that, both women relaxed.

“She can’t stay,” Annie Number 1 said at almost the exact same moment Annie Number 2 said, “I can’t stay.”

“But wait,” Mayhew said to Annie Number 2, “where will you go? How will you make out?”

Annie Number 1 took Mayhew’s face between her hands and kissed him gently.

“Don’t you worry about her, my man,” she said, “With my brains and that body, she can go anywhere, and do anything she wants.”

Annie Number 2 blew Mayhew a kiss, went out the door, and out of his life forever.

Annie Number 1 and Mayhew moved to Philadelphia near her cousin. She went to a gym and worked out every day. Then she left him for a rich guy she met there.

Mayhew did a few hustles for money now and then, but mostly spent his days at home watching YouTube videos. He thought about going out to the clubs and picking up a girl, but it seemed pointless.

Life would never be the same without his two Annies.

 

~ fin ~


         Thank you for reading
    the   Freezine   of
     Fantasy  and  Science
F I C T I O N 



Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Anthropophagus III: The Corpse Eater

 by J.R. Torina



                                                                                art by Jason Barnett



   Will woke up in a hospital bed. The autumn sun shone outside, gray clouds intermittently causing the sunlight to cascade brightly upon the orange, red and golden yellow leaves outside the window. He smiled, leaning back into the soft bed. The smile faded...

   Burton. Alice. That man, that crazy priest... And what about the Phage?

   He started, moving to get out of the bed.

   “Easy, easy,” a soothing, female voice came from seemingly nowhere. “You’ve been through a lottake it easy. You’re safe. It’s okay.”

   The nurse was a beautiful young lady, smiling at him as she stood over the bed, holding a clipboard. He found the smile curious, as it didn’t seem like it was very sincere for some reason. Of course, he was groggy and had been through quite a bit, so he passed it off as nothing.

   “What time is it? Where am I?”

   “It’s about dinner time, actually. It’s around five. I was going to hook you up to an IV, but now that you’re conscious, I’ll go get you some dinner.”

   “Wait... The police, I need to talk to the police!”

   “They’ve already come and gone.”

   “What? No, you don’t understand, I was up in the mountains, there was a guy, a lunatic... My friends, they’re dead! He killed them!”

   “Yes, yes, it’s all in hand. Please, try to relax. I understand, you’re distraught, upset. Please!” She gently pushed him back down into the bed. “Please, just relax. The police know everything about that area up there; they’ve taken the man into custody, and the proper authorities have been contacted, regarding the...the bodies.”

   “You’re sure? You’re positive?”

   “Yes, positive. Now, lay back, drink some of this water. I’m going to go and get you some dinner. Meatloaf sound good?”

   “Yeah, whatever, whatever...”

   “You can eat, and I’ll call the inspector back, now that you’re awake. He still wants to talk to you, hear your story, okay?”

   “Okay, good.”

   He lay there, thinking about the events of the last twenty four hours, and his friends. He remembered the maniacal preacher, and the blow from behind, and the nightmare that followed.

   “Here we are!” the nurse sang, as she came back into the room, a full tray of food in her hands. She set it down on the tray next to the bed.

   Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and juice. The warm, salty steam coming off of the food reminded Will just how hungry he was; it had to have been at least a day since he’d eaten anything at all.

   A man in a shirt and tie walked into the room.

   “This is Inspector Morgan, Will. He wants you to tell him everything you went through up there.”

   “Hi, Will. Can I call you that?”

   “Sure.”

   Morgan was a lean man, average height, wearing a trilby men’s hat and a long overcoat over his suit. A true police inspector, Will thought.

   Morgan showed his badge to Will, repeated his name, and sat down beside the bed.

   “Please, feel free to eat, don’t mind me. You can tell me what happened over a mouthful of your dinner, if you don’t mind.”

   “No problem”

   Cutting off a sizable chunk of meatloaf and bulldozing it through the mashed potatoes and gravy, he put the forkful of food in his mouth, savoring the taste.

   He suddenly remembered the inspector.

   “Sorry.

   “No problem, whenever you’re ready. And please, continue eating.”

   Another forkful of meat and gravy.

   Will faithfully recounted all that had transpired in the past twenty-four hours, up to the point where he had lost consciousness, from the blow to the head upon his attempted departure from the mad minister’s church of horrors.

   “After that, where were you?”

   “I’m not sure, to tell you the truth.”

   “Were you still up in the mountains?”

   “Yes, I was.”

   Another forkful of mashed potatoes, gravy and meat.

   “So you were probably still at this...church, then?”

   “Yes, I was.”

   “What do you recall when you gained consciousness?”

   “I woke up in a coffin.”

   Slightly surprised at the inspector’s lack of emotion or surprise at that, Will continued. “I was underground, beneath a cemetery, noticing the graves had been dug out from the bottom, and some of the coffins had been pulled down, after being dug at. Sheer brute force had yanked the coffins down, from below. They were everywhere. Some of them tumbled upside down or sideways, some of them opened and the...the contents spilled out, all over the place. Some of the bodies seemed to have huge bites taken out of them, and others had chisel marks, or what looked like chisel marks, but made from what I thought were teeth, as if some huge cat, like a cougar, had done this. But...”

   “Yes, go on?”

   “Well, it’s crazy...”

   “Really, after the last few days, and all you’ve been through yourself, I’ll believe anything. Tell me.”

   “It seemed as if the teeth marks in the bodies, they...well, they were by something way bigger than any mountain cat or bear. It was more like, by the looks of the bite marks, I don’t know, a giant rat, or something?”

   “Hmm, that’s strange.” Another dispassionate response to a somewhat outlandish claim. 

   He continued. “There were also broken shards and pieces of wood all over, and upon closer inspection, I figured they were from coffins, some of them so old it was as if this debris had been here for many long years indeed. There were body parts everywhere. And blood. Some of it dried, some of it fresh. Further down, there seemed to be a passageway, littered with more rotting wood, and what seemed to be limbs, bones and skulls scattered all throughout. There were also small piles of dirt or mud every so often, which I figured were droppings of some kind, but what sort of animal lives under a graveyard and eats dead bodies? I appeared to be inside what had to be some man-made cavern, as there were torches affixed here and there, but most of them were out. A flight of stairs went up an earthy passageway that led to the surface. Vines and roots hung all over the place. Of the torches, only two or three burned. I picked one off of the wall, and went up, the fire from the torch lighting my way. I ended up in the main necropolis of a cemetery, next to a fabulous sculpted skeleton in the center of a pool with a fountain in the middle of the grounds, trees and green grass surrounding everywhere. 

   The inspector regarded him with one raised eyebrow and urged, Do go on. 

   Then, I heard the screeching sound of something behind me, something that sounded angry and too terrible to contemplate. I turned, and there it wasthis thing, the creature that I suspected was there, was real; I dared not imagine it was really behind this. But, what human, even at their most disreputable, could perform such heinous acts? Its bellowing was something like a snufflingspraying mucus and saliva everywherecrossed with a scream or shrieking sound. It was hideous. The thing was standing directly across from me, slowly advancing, pausing with each couple of steps. Its posture was menacing, its arms spread, claws open, back curved and hunched over. Long, greasy white hair reached down to its shoulders, draped over unholy glowing eyes, strange eyes of a sickly yellow color. Its skin was pasty white, mottled with dark lesions, probably from its steady habit of eating human remains. Its lips were a sickening mauve color, wrapped around huge, almost tusk-like incisors, sort of like a walrus, but somewhat shorter, darkened with old blood and stained with filth from who knows what. It had a slender, wiry build, yet was strongly muscled. Its hands were filthy, stained with soil, blood, and offal; the thick fingers ended in talon-like claws. I could see that most of its digging was done by hand, if one could call those obscene protrusions hands, in a normal sense. Its shoulders were draped over by a greenish-brown mossor was it growing out of him? I couldn't tell from that distance. I had no intention of getting closer. 

   The inspector gestured for him to go on. 

   Its chest heaved as it breathed in and out heavily. Matted, greasy hair, sickly white, shone with a dull luster. The vile creature was caked with all manner of obscene filth. It almost seemed as if pestilence grew out of this monstrosity.  Moss and even the odd mushroom cap sprouted out here and there. This led me to think that this thing was somehow of the earth. Yet it also seemed that the beast may have once been humanif one could get past its monstrous outward appearance.  The long, once fair hair, the semblance of a beard, not to mention its general human build and posture. Was this perhaps some ancient warrior, left behind...and somehow still alive, all this time? A cursed warrior from eons past?

   The inspector looked at him, waiting for him to continue. 

   At any rate, the filthy creature began advancing toward me steadily now, with greater and more malignant purpose. Apparently, I had interrupted its feeding, trespassing on its sacred grounds of the dead or whatever, where it reveled in rotten flesh and dined on corpses at its own leisure. It lunged toward me, sweeping its muscular arm out, trying to claw my face. I jumped back, stumbled, and tripped over a small headstone. As I fell, my arm splashed into water. Behind me was a fountain with a small pond surrounding it, a short wall encircling it all the way around. Without giving it much more thought, I jumped up onto the small pond enclosure as the beast advanced upon me. Leaning against a carved statue of a skeleton, I kicked with all my body weight and both of my feet squarely into its chest, the sickening feeling was like sinking into wet mud, making a squelching sound that was just as revolting. It lurched backward, losing its balance. After lunging toward me again, I leaned over and picked up the still-burning torch from where I'd dropped it. The creature saw this, and to my surprise, put up its arm to shield itself, like a vampire shrieking at the sight of a crucifix!

   The inspector just regarded me with that unwavering stare of his. 

   Will was lost in his narrative, seeming almost possessed. Fire! It was afraid of fire! I took this opportunity to run, knowing full well this thing's very touch would mean disease or death, to say nothing of its muscular arms and claws that could tear me apart. I realized I was still in the church area, apparently in the adjoining cemetery. I ran back down the pathway, until I saw the house and church again. Glancing behind me I could see it running down the path after me, its eyes glowing with unholy anticipation. I jumped in the van and took off as fast as I could. It swatted at the vehicle and I heard a crash, like it had broken a window or a tail light. I saw its eyes in my rear view mirror glowing in the darkening gloom.  I tore out onto the road, heading back the way we had come the day before, and then sped onto the pavement. It followed me, but as I put distance between us its eyes faded in the rear view mirror. I’ll never forget those eyes. To be honest, I don’t remember much after that, apart from getting to the bottom of the mountain, and noticing the fog was gone from the city. I’m pretty sure I lost consciousness after that. Now you can tell me how I got here.”

   The inspector paused a moment then replied, “You were found at the wheel of the van, Will. You had passed out, most probably due to a combination of exposure, shock, malnutrition, and who knows what else. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve survived the Phage, someone who tried to kill you, seen numerous murdered humans, including your own friends, and apparently survived an attack by some wild animal in the woods.”

   “Wild animal? They identified it, then?”

   “Well, no; not quite. Based on what you’ve told me, I’ll start organizing a well-armed search team, to head up there tonight. We'd like to locate this church you’ve told us about. Do you remember telling us about any of this when you arrived here last night?”

   “No, no I don’t.”

   “That’s understandable. But you gave us more or less the same story, without all the detail. We have already apprehended this “Minister” character, but we’ve seen no evidence of any...well, monster, as of yet. At least not one as...inhuman as you've described, anyway.”

   “You didn’t see it...you didn’t see the underground charnel house?”

   The inspector’s radio went off, interrupting the discussion. He quickly answered, and while he talked, Will tried to finish his meal, not quite as interested in it now as he was before.

   How could they have missed the charnel house, the underground lair of that filthy beast? And for that matter, how could they have missed the dismal creature itself?

   It couldn’t have fled the scene, could it? And why would it? The Minister was feeding it with bodies galore. Wild animals don’t just leave a food source...

   He suddenly remembered how corpses he had discovered by the stream had missing limbs and bite marks on them as well. The priest was responsible for those deaths...

   Was this creature controlled, or some kind of pet, to this morbid minister up there in the mountains? Perhaps so...

   But again, his mind reeled. How could the police and a detective unit not have seen anything, any sign of the monster?  Unless...

   “Unless they were all in on it, too,” he thought to himself.

   “Clever, my son,” came a familiar and totally unwelcome voice from the doorway.

    Standing there, flanked just inside the doorway by the nurse and the inspector, was the morbid minister of death himself. The smile on his face was one of triumph. A blood-stained bandage was wrapped around his head, where Will had pummeled him less than a day ago. The look in the Minister's eye revealed he had his prey after all.

   Will felt a cold sweat burst out of his body, his heart sinking. Oily sweat oozed out of his palms and fingertips, as he balled them into fists.

   “You stumbled onto something,” the Minister said. “You were a good actor up there. But now, the time for performances is at an end. Would you like to confess your sins to me, my son?”

   “You...” he could only stammer.

   “Confess to me, my son.” A wicked smile broke out on the Minister’s face.

   “I confess that I should have killed you when I had the chance, you bastard! You and that dirty mutant freak of yours!”

   “Hush now, my son. You shouldn’t speak of the savior that way. It is through him that I have seen the light, and those of us here, as well. And so shall you.”

   At that, they advanced on him, the inspector holding him down, the nurse helping, an antique looking syringe in her hand.

   The nurse spoke to him calmly, “Please, don’t fight us, William! It’s already too late! Don’t you know? Morgan, tell him.”

   “Tell me what?”

   The inspector piped in. “Will, you are saved from the Phage. The Phage was created in part by toxins from auto emissions; carbon monoxide. But, there was a laboratory in town, that was working on a special project for the military, and it fell into terrorist hands. They made a sort of dirty bomb, but one that works slowly, using our own pollution.”

   “Yes, William, my son. And you see, the spores from certain fungi are the key to survival. Mushrooms indigenous to this area! The cure is from Himfrom the Savior!” The Minister pointed wildly to the curtain separating the room in half, as the nurse drew it back viciously.

   There, standing idly, was the filthy creature from the mountains; the carrion beast.

   “You’ve been breathing in spores from his mushrooms all this time, for the past half day. You’ve eaten them, in that wonderful meal we had prepared for you. There is no turning back now. You are one of us!”

   Indeed, the creature appeared somewhat different. Small mushroom caps sprouted up from the moss and mud covering its body. It seemed as if they did indeed grow right out of its leprous skin.

   He couldn’t believe it. To have survived all he had endured so far, and fought so hard...only to be tricked, duped like this...and to lose. He didn’t want to believe it, but he said nothing, because he knew it was true. He felt something, a wetness in the back of his throat, a settling of internal organs. A strange calm fell over him, despite that he knew this was wrong. It was like being intoxicated, yet helpless to act.

   His own consciousness was slipping, being replaced by something else. His body warmed up, as if he were becoming numb all over, but he felt somehow...alive.

   He stopped struggling. The monster advanced on him as he lay on the bed, the trio of humans still holding him down. The beast raised a filthy claw, blood dripping from the index finger, and proceeded to mark a small vertical line of blood upon Will’s forehead.

   “Worship me,” it whispered in a guttural voice, from a throat that sounded as if it came from Hell itself.  



~ the end ~





Please Return Tomorrow
to read the final story 
in the July Issue of

the FREEZINE of
Fantasy and Science
Fiction 

Two Annies
by Keith Graham

 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Anthropophagus II: The Minister

by J.R. Torina


                                              art by Jason Barnett



   The most likely place to stay safe from the foreboding haze hanging over the city was a higher vantage point. To that end, the three friends headed into the mountains, the entrance to which was just around the corner from the store.

   As they drove upwards on the winding mountain road, the trees loomed over them, seeming to close in ominously. The once cheerful bright autumn colors now stood out sharply like beacons of lifedying lifeagainst the grim gray of the autumn sky, that while depressing, were hardly somber compared to the hanging miasma which threatened to engulf the city below.

   “Look!” Alice yelled out, pointing ahead. A figure dressed all in black was walking into the middle of the road ahead, waving his arms at them to stop.

   For a split second Will thought they were being made to turn around by the police. Upon noticing the man wasn’t wearing a uniform, Will considered the man was just a local that didnt want a bunch of refugees from the city to start flocking in.

   “Police?” Burton questioned out loud.

   Burton slowed the car to a halt off to the side of the road, and rolled down the window.

   The man in black practically oozed up to the car window, leaning down to look inside. He was of a wiry build, with a dark mop of curly black hair. He appeared to be in his late forties. They noticed he wore a white priests collar, as he leaned down.

   “You guys heading up here to get away from the Phage?” he asked.

   “You got it” Burton answered.

   The man lifted a hand into the window, which Burton grasped in a friendly shake.

   “My name is Tom, Father Tom,” he introduced himself. “I bet you guys thought I was a cop or some crazed Phage victim.” 

   There was some nervous laughter from the friends in the car. “We were just at Lanzo’s down there, at the foot of the mountain. We had no idea about any disease or whatever, then suddenly the news came on, and everyone went crazy,” Burton responded.

   Will added to his woes, “That was all bad enough, but then a girl wandered in, she was freaking out, like she thought she was going to die...and she did... She just...rotted away...or dissolved...right there. I’ve never seen anything like it. We decided to get the hell outta Dodge. Er...sorry, Father,” Will added, laughing nervously.

   “It’s quite alright, don’t worry. I’m sure we could all use a little humor right about now. I’ve heard similar bad news myself. You were all right to get the “hell” out of Dodge, to be sure; and please, call me Tom, “Father” is so formal. You kids should pull down this path, I have a cabin up here, I use it for meditation and such. I also have a parish up here, you’ll be safe until we figure out what to do.”

   With a sweeping motion of his arm, he indicated a leaf-strewn path at the entrance of an ornate black iron gate.

   They clambered out of the car and followed the pathway indicated by the Ministers outstretched arm, kicking up a trail of dust behind them in the still dry and barely warm mountain air.


***


   It was dawn, the day after. Burton and Alice sat together, under a blanket, sipping hot coffee from the camping supplies they had initially brought with them. They stared out into the valley beyond, from high up on this vantage point. The cloud of fog was still nestled over the city, so thickly that only the spires and tops of certain tall buildings protruded through. It was like looking down onto a misty ocean.

   “It all looks so peaceful from up here, doesn’t it? So deceiving.” They jumped a bit, startled by the voice of the Minister from directly behind them.


***


   Will had suffered from a fitful, restless sleep.  Hed slipped out of the chalet where the Minister had let them sleep over. The dusty cots werent comfortable, and there was an oppressive silence that bothered him to the point he decided to slip outside and try to get some rest back in the car. 

   He couldn’t get the bubbling, viscous images of decomposing death out of his head. More to the point, it was the girl. He felt so helpless, so sorry for her. The sorrow and anguish in her voice; the fear...

   He lay there with the early morning light streaming in through the windows, in the comforting familiarity of the van. He decided it wasnt worth any further pondering on this matter, nor was there any point to remaining in this airless metal box.

   He got up and out of the van, straightened out his aching body, and went to find the others.

   After walking down the pathway towards the chalet he left his friends in, William heard a gurgling stream nearby and decided a little splash of cold mountain water would help to clear away the grime and the stress.  The stream was several paces away from the path. He knelt down at the edge of the gurgling creek and splashed cold, clear water on his face. He leaned back, his eyes shut, feeling the cold water over his face mixing with the warm autumn sunlight.

   Thinking of what their next move should be, he looked down, studying the smooth, round rocks in the stream. Perhaps they should leave the state? Or maybe just stay up here? Maybe everything would just blow over. What if it was just some military poison gas that had escaped, a test gone wrong, or something to do with nuclear waste?

   He noticed a red tincture mixed in with the water that was dripping off of his hands. Examining his arms, he found no evidence of scratches or cuts. He looked down again. The water had a rivulet of red going through it. What the hell?

   He looked upstream, wondering if maybe a deer or other type of mountain animal had died, its carcass polluting the stream. What he saw took him a moment to process. Carcasses, yes. Not deer, not bears or raccoons, but...people. Human beings. Men and women. Even some children.

   “What in the hell...” Human bodies. His heart was beating fast as he moved closer to inspect them.

   They were dead, all of them. At least seven that he could see. Dead and rotting. Some were partially hidden in the sand and mud along the stream’s banks. Others were simply thrown there, while some of them seemed to have been half-hidden, in some desperate attempt at burying them. Dismembered body parts were scattered about here and there, some partially hidden, halfway submerged in the sandy mud.

   From his vantage point, standing there, Will was surrounded by bodies decomposing into the mud. A pronounced trickle of red mixing with the stream water and muddy banks came from a what appeared to be a fresh body laying directly across the stream further up the bank. It looked to Will like he was standing in the aftermath of a battlefield. 

   The Minister startled him by saying "Its horrible isnt it?" in his soft, soothing voice.

   Will jerked around.

   “Yes...yes, this is horrible...” he said, absently. “What in the hell happened up here, Father? Did you know about this? What’s going on? Did these people all die from the Phage?”

   “No, my son, not the Phage. I saved them from the Phage.”

   Warning bells sounded in Will’s head. “Saved them...?”

   “Yes. They came up here, much as you and your friends have, seeking refuge yesterday morning. I couldn’t just let them go back down there. Instead I’ve sent their souls on their way to heaven. So much better than the grisly fate that awaited them down below, don’t you think, my son?”

   Deciding that he was ill placed in a remote location in the company and at the mercy of a madman, Will simply played along. “Oh, yes...they are spared...    that horrible death. I’ve seen what happens...”

   “Yes, yes,” the Minister added excitedly. “Come, let me show you my house of worship.”


***


   Will made sure to walk to the side and slightly behind the Minister, his heart racing, a cold sweat coating his body. It was slightly warmer out now, with just a hint of a chill as it was autumn. Will knew his sweat was from fear for his life and not from any fall weather. He had to think fast. 

   They headed toward a small abode constructed out of brick and wood. It appeared very old, as if it had been up here in the mountains since at least the 1950s, enduring the harsh mountain elements all that time.

   The thought was racing through Will’s mind that the Minister, or maybe some accomplice of his, would try to attack him at any moment, but something about that didn’t seem right either. It seemed more likely that he might try some other tactic, like poison, or maybe lead him into a trap of some sort.

   He was biding his time, until he could get to the others, and then, with their help, by sheer force of numbers, they could get the hell out of here. If they could subdue this maniac and call the authorities, even better. 

   He didn’t have any conclusive proof that the Minister killed those people back there, but who else could have done this? What else could it have been?

   They approached the front doors of the crumbling structure and walked inside. A musty, cloying smell pervaded the air, a certain something he couldn’t quite ascertain. It smelled like cloves, and something else...there was a faint hint of something malevolent, mostly covered by the sweet smell of cloves which hung in the air.

   Will was surprised to see a somewhat large chancel area before him, complete with a few rows of pews, supplemented by dingy, beat up metal folding chairs as well as some older wooden chairs, and an altar with a large cross at the end of the room, backlit with an orange glow. A few sickly looking plants finished off the décor.

   He suddenly realized the rows of pews were mostly full. Wondering how he had not noticed them at first, he stepped forward when the Minister caught his arm.

   “My congregation. I’ve saved them all. They’ve saved me, too. Your friends are here as well.  Burton, Alice?

   William went in to find them, having a sudden feeling of something malignant on top of his already close to panicked state from the bodies he remembered seeing back at the banks of that bloody stream.

   The only light inside was from whatever source backlit the cross, so it took his eyes a minute to adjust to the gloom. His sinuses reeled from the overpowering smell of cloves, and...was it fish? He noticed that at the front of the altar, two people, a man and a woman, were seated, facing the congregation. It was then that he also noticed the music of a church organ, but coming from a vinyl record spinning on an old turntable in the far corner of the room.

   He glanced over his shoulder, instantly mortified. The Minister was still silhouetted in the doorway, the autumn sunlight blazing around him with an unholy aura. Something about the record player producing church music instilled a heavy dread inside him. The feeling was not unlike that of a chosen prey suddenly realizing it is the target of a nearby predator.

   All at once his body bristled with static electricity, as if confirming that he was the game in this sinister place, and that something significant was imminent. Nothing could have reaffirmed that notion more than approaching the man and woman seated at the altar, to see that the man was indeed Burton, his throat slashed, with blood drained down all over his front, his long brown hair matted with deep red sticky gore, itself already drying; while to his left sat the slumped over form of Alice, her dark ringlets of hair also releasing one droplet of blood after another, her slack mouth showing numerous wide gashes and cuts visible from under the duct tape fixed over it. 

   Turning to look behind him, he saw the Minister approaching down the aisle. It was then that the true form of the congregation focused before him, a gallery of uniformly dead, brutally murdered human beings, row after row, stiff to attention in their advanced states of rigor mortis and decomposition. Glazed over eyes as well as sockets lacking eyes stared back at him, in rapt attention.

   The smell of cloves again returned to his nostrils, this time, the mystery of the other odor solvedrotting flesh. He also noticed now an increased number of flies in the house of worship.

   “They’re a beautiful peopleall of them” came the voice of the Minister, still semi-darkened in silhouette. “Aren’t they, my son?”

   He stood just a few feet away from Will now, arms spread somewhat out from his sides, indicating the congregation in a gesture of benevolence.

   Will was shocked, appalled, disgusted. He became quietly enraged as he saw his friends sitting limply, lifelessly.

 We’re having a wedding today,” the Minister proclaimed jubilantly. “Your friends, they told me of their plans for getting married soon; we’re going to have the ceremony here, tonight.”

   They would never see that dream realized, Will thought, thanks to this heinous bastard. However, if he was to survive a confrontation with a madman, he’d have to be smart, and hold back his emotions for now.

   Doing his best to choke back his fear, his hatred, his disgust and loathing, he steeled himself.

   “Father, yes... What you’ve done here, it’s a...miracle,” he muttered, doing his best to offer a sincere smile. “I... I can’t believe it. You’ve saved... You’ve saved all of these people, from that dreadful Phage...” He wondered if the stammering here and there in his last few words were from fear and adrenaline, or whether he was really this accomplished of an actor.

   The Minister beamed, almost visibly glowing at the sound of this. “My son. You’ve accepted me, I see. You must come with me, and together, we...”

   The Minister fell to the floor, in a spread-eagled heap, blood gushing from a mean gash in the side of his head, courtesy of the crucifix candelabra Will had stealthily picked up behind his back, while talking to the madman.

   “There’s your judgement from your god, bastard!” he said to the unconscious vicar.

   He raced towards the van, just to get the hell out of here, once and for all. He thought better of it as he sat in the driver’s seat, trying to catch his breath. He could call the police, surely, but would the Minister still be here? Would there be justice for his now dead friends, and all of those others?

   He got out of the van and hurried back to the cathedral, where the Minister still lay in a small pool of his own blood, sprawled in the aisle of his grisly cathedral.

   He noticed a large, ornate wooden chair on the altar. An idea...

   Running back to the van, he dug around in the back of the vehicle, until he found what he was looking forclimbing rope, at least ten feet of it.

   Heading back in to the church, he dragged the dead weight of the Minister up to the altar, where he also noticed a starlight window in the roof; a single, bright ray of autumn sun shone through, illuminating dust motes pulsating through the air. “The Judgement of God”?

   Dumping the unconscious man unceremoniously into the old chair, he proceeded to tie him up in such a manner that Houdini himself should have been impressed.

   His circulation would be cut off, but...who cares? That’s the least of the suffering this murderer deserved. At least this way, he’d stay here until he could notify the police.

   The police...

   Will wondered exactly what was going on down in the city.

   Taking one last look back at the madman tied to the chair on the altar, all the silenced worshippers around, and his two dead friends, he walked out and moved toward the van.

   He suddenly felt as if gravity had forced him down to the ground. Feeling a dull thud to the back of his skull, the last things he saw were the ground rushing up to meet him, right in front of the van, and his hand, stained red, when he pulled it away from the back of his head, after he felt a warm sticky liquid there…




Click below to read
  the conclusion of
with art by Jason Barnett


only on the
FREEZINE
of Fantasy and
Science Fiction

Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sean Padlo's
NINE TENTHS OF THE LAW

Sean Padlo's
GRANDPA'S LAST REQUEST

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
Morris's HOW THE GODS KILL


Konstantine Paradias's
SACRI-FEES

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
ONE NIGHT IN MANHATTAN


Edward Morris's
MERCY STREET

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
BURNT WEENY SANDWICH

Tim Fezz's
MANY SILVERED MOONS AGO

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
DEAD CLOWN AND MAGNET HEAD


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's
AGAIN AND AGAIN

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
SERVITORS OF THE
OUTER DARKNESS


Adam Bolivar's
THE DEVIL & SIR
FRANCIS DRAKE



Adam Bolivar's
THE TIME-EATER


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
REALMS and BLACK WINGS OF
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
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN


David Agranoff's
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S
MANDATE


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
INEVITABLE

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
THE RECIDIVIST



Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's
THE MEMORY SECTOR

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
NOETIC VACATIONS

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)
GROUND PORK


Gene Stewart's
CRYPTID'S LAIR

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
explore.

Daniel José Older's
GRAVEYARD WALTZ


Daniel José Older's
THE COLLECTOR


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
SEA?TV!


Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
biographical blurbs written in the third
person. His previously published fiction
appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and
His non-fiction financial pieces can be found
in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features
pictures of expensive homes, as well as images
of women in casual poses and their accessories.
Consider writing him at paul@twilightlane.com,
if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall
2010, look for Grade 12 Trigonometry and
Pre-Calculus -With Zombies.


Rain Grave's
MAU BAST


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
THE PORCELAIN WOMAN


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
with LIPSTICK



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


G. Alden Davis's
THE FOLD


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
A NEW METAPHYSICAL STUDY
REGARDING THE BEHAVIOR
OF PLANT LIFE


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
PLASTIC CHILDREN


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
THE HOUSE IN THE PORT


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
THE GOLDEN THIRD EYE


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.)