10th Issue

This is the line up for the tenth issue.
48 pages containing 12 great stories and poems plus some great artwork!

Contents shown in the approximate order they will appear in the finished zine.

Cover image by Daevid Ford

Issue Ten is out on
Monday 31st January

 

 

Thief
by Peter Simon

Shelly stumbled out of the nightclub into the bitter air. She staggered up the road a few paces, fiddling with the straps on her scarlet dress, and not really feeling the cold because of the alcohol in her bloodstream.
“Come on!” she bawled to the others.
The other girls followed her out: a little parade of rowdy ladettes.
There was usually a little gathering of beggars, hoping to exploit the drunken revellers. Tonight there was only one.
“Watch where you're going, Shell, you daft cow! You'll trip over that tramp!” said one of the girls.
Shelly looked down, trying to focus on the beggar out of her drunken haze. A pitiful creature, skinny arms outstretched greedily.
“Expecting me to give my hard-earned money away!” drawled Shelly.
“Get a job like the rest of us!”
“I do not want your money,” said a clear penetrating voice.

 

 

Write Or Die
by Matthew Munson

 

There once was a clown.
A clown called Hector
Stories about clowns often suggest a happy tone, don’t they?
This story isn’t happy.
This story is about Hector’s power. It’s a unique, unusual and frightening power.
Hector wasn’t a normal clown. He wasn’t funny, certainly, but then what clown is? Most clowns’ idea of “funny” is nothing more sophisticated than big shoes, water coming out from a fake flower and riding round on a very small bike with two other clowns on their shoulders.
Instead, Hector was an angry clown; angry at life and at humanity – especially at humanity, and its cruelty. He was angry at everyone. Except his fellow clowns; he could never hate the Brotherhood of Clowns, especially when they had given him a home. He also exempted children from his hatred; he valued their innocence, something he had never truly had.
Despite his loyalty to the Brotherhood, Hector thought the life of a clown to be very banal. It was fine for normal clowns – if there is such a thing – but Hector was different. He had power.

 

 

Write or Die
Illustration by Poppy Alexander

 

 

The Great Epic of Bob
by Reese Mills

 

“Look; I appreciate this, but I really don’t have the time. I’m supposed to be saving the princess.”
“Oh, really? What happened to her?”
“She’s being held prisoner by a giant, er…monster thing.”
“Monster thing?”
“Yeah. I’ve seen sketches of it, but I’ve no idea what it actually is.”
“I see. And it has the princess?”
“I’ve already stated it has the princess.”
“She’s been kidnapped again?”
“Yes.”
“Well, are you sure you don’t need this? It’s a very nice fishing rod. I mean, just look how shiny that lure is!”
“Alright. Fine. I’ll take the fishing rod.”
Bob, the designated hero of the kingdom, dropped his pack to the ground and proceeded to try cramming the fishing rod (so kindly offered by the random villager!) inside. It was no simple endeavor, for over the course of his journey to save the aforementioned princess, he’d accumulated a wide range of items. He had the essentials: food, water, blankets, a sword, and armor, but he also had a large amount of stuff—not junk—just…stuff.

 

 

Miss Elizabeth and Miss Beatrice
by Harry Downey

 

We’d had a wonderful evening. Good food, good conversation, good company. What more do you want? And, as a bonus, home was close enough to walk to at the end of it all. No need to worry about the legal limits on alcohol and driving. Just stroll for about a hundred yards and there we are – at our own front door. We were round at the McCauley’s house – Freda and Mike – who were new to our village but the more we saw of them the better we got on.
The evening was to mark their Wedding Anniversary – twenty-three years. Apparently there’s a special word that describes each different annual landmark - words like silk or muslin and things leading up to gold and diamond. To me it’s a bit of a closed book – about as clear as those birthday signs you see everywhere. Mike thought probably ‘sackcloth’’ or something would be the right one for them – until Freda got him to confess that the years together hadn’t all been bad.
The conversation drifted around casually, as it should with friends, and Joyce, the woman who has kept me on the straight and narrow for umpteen years remarked on how sorry she felt for anyone who had gone through life alone. “Some single people accept the way it is and settle for it happily enough while others can become increasingly bitter as the years pass.” She mentioned a man we had known, single and living alone who seemed happy enough with his model trains layout – that was until anyone used the phrase ‘Toys for men’ to him. That usually got him going.
It was time for me to tell a story. It’s a bit of a party-piece of mine and something I enjoy, so sensing that the little group was a receptive one I began. Sometimes I start with “I wanna tell you a story” like Max Bygraves used to do. Corny, but it’s fun. I always try to tell the stories differently each time and pretend they’re new. Normally that’s a cue for Joyce to stop me and tell everyone that she’s heard them all so often that if her snoring kept the others awake, then she would apologize before she dropped off. She always listens to the first lines then usually groans out loud.
I took a sip from my brandy and looked around for effect. Three faces looking at me – two with anticipation, one ready to jump in and try to spoil my flow. I began.

 

 

The Autumn Dance
by Becky Armstrong


The fairies frolic playfully,
their wings drenched with shimmery sun dust
glowing golden;
their toes stick in the honey
dripping delicious
amidst the water color of wet petals.

 

 

The Enchantment
by John Pilkington

 

 

The Fool’s Debt
A Patrick Donegal Fantasy
by Mike Phillips

 

Deep underground the pursuit began. While the world above went on undisturbed, a secret tunnel was being built. Fixed upon a single purpose, the workers toiled as if to preserve the very life of their Chief, but the true reason was perhaps of greater consequence. It was a matter of honor, a matter of revenge that caused them to labor in such a way. Money was owed. An example must be set. With the promise of reward, the workers kept digging as the day ended and the night grew late.
The soil was soft and loose in the way of well tilled fields, and so the job went quickly and with little trouble. There were times thick roots had to be dealt with, but these were not unexpected and so addressed in turn, hacked away with axes or cut with diamond toothed, two-handed saws taller than the men who used them.
No structure was built to keep the ceiling and walls from caving in. A thin wash was painted over every surface, an eggshell coating that was as strong as stone. The wash also provided the only source of light, a faint yellow glow that was only slightly better than the total dark of the deep places of the world.
After many long hours, the labors were coming to an end. The way began to turn upward. Before the night reached its epoch, they would break through the surface and the errand would be complete.

 


Curse of the Moon - Part Five
by Shelley

 

 

Under the Smile
by Anna Sykora


Under the smile
The flashing teeth,
Hungry maw,
Greedy heart;

 

 

The Haugbúi’s Guest
by Christian A. Larsen


Axel had always had rotten luck. If he bought a chicken, it stopped laying eggs. If he bought a cow, its milk went sour. He either had too much rain or not enough on his farm, so that when the famine reached his valley, he already knew what hunger was.
“Heaven’s cursed me and hell won’t have me,” he would always tell his wife. Fearing it would come true, she would always say an extra prayer for him at church every time he did—but he never went. “You ask God to help us,” he said. “I’ll stay and work.”
One day, when he was furrowing his fields, the blade of his plough broke in two. Axel sat down and wouldn’t move. Not for food, nor water, nor sleep, nor comfort of any kind. For three days he sat in his fields with the broken plow until he had an idea.
He brought the broken plow blade to the town blacksmith and told him to make it into a sword fit to cut down a troll. “I don’t have much money,” he said. “So it need not be pretty, but make it a strong blade, and I’ll remember you when I’m rich.”
Axel returned the next day at found his old plough beaten into the ugliest sword he had ever heard tell. When he protested, the blacksmith said: “It will serve you longer than if it were fairer. Besides, you could afford no better.” And he took the farmer’s last shillings.
“What do you plan to do with that sword?” asked Axel’s wife, but all he would answer was this:
“Heaven’s cursed me and hell won’t have me.” And taking a stout staff, he kissed her goodbye and marched into the forest.

 


Burh Gast
by MJ Wesolowski


This time, Jenny nearly shrieked out loud; her right hand flashed out from under the blankets and flew before her in a fist. Her eyes wrenched themselves open and she bared her teeth in a snarl that was pure primeval terror. She genuflected in the bed, both legs kicking out and finding only the bitter cold of night air.
Silence; Jenny peered into the blackness, her own shallow breathing fluttering in her upper chest. She flicked on the bedside lamp that spread long shadows across the high, stone walls and tried not to shake.
There was really nothing there, yet it had felt so real; the sallow, soaking skin of the fingers that had held her face just seconds ago. With all her might, Jenny forced her brain to forget the image of soft, grey flesh and the smell of stagnant water that had accompanied the vile clench of some unearthly hand. Already it was leaving her, evaporating from her mind like soft kettle steam; all she had to do was regain her breath and tell herself that they would not win; they would not get to her; they would not get inside her head.
Jenny shook her head; anger curling her brow as she swung her legs out of bed and turned the tap of the small sink before the window, listening to the ancient pipes wail mournfully until an insipid spray of freezing water rattled from its spout. She wiped some of the greasy-feeling liquid across her forehead and reached into her pocket for the record switch on a minute Dictaphone before beginning to speak; her voice soft, almost secretive in the quiet loneliness of the farm.

 

 

Under Antarctica
by Tim Reed

Have you ever wondered what really happened to Oates on Scott’s fateful expedition to Antarctica? Well, we believe we may have found out, more than seventy years later…and completely by accident. My name isn’t important, my profession tedious, but a frozen piece of paper miraculously stored in a bottle - fatefully discovered in a drill sample - has shot me and Antarctica into the public eye.
I have seen penguins casually walk towards desolate mountains and their deaths, and icebergs the size of Sicily, but nothing has had more impact on me than this seemingly innocuous scrap of paper, the following words of which are eerie in their suggestiveness, frustrating in their briefness, but utterly beguiling and wrapped in a shroud of mystery. Read it, make your own mind up, and wonder what really lurks beneath the ice of our ‘forgotten’ continent.

 

 

And The Leaves Were Purple
by Paul William Davies

You know how sometimes you're sure you can see something moving in the shadows? When you're on your own at night and you're convinced there's something lurking in the corner of the room, waiting to pounce?
I know that feeling all too well.
One unbearably humid August night, as I lay sleepless in my bed, I saw something move. Or I thought I did.
But I dismissed it as a trick of the half-light, or a heat-induced hallucination. I longed for sleep.
And sleep came at last, for an hour or so at least, but then I was woken abruptly by a scratching noise in the corner of my bedroom.
I stared intensely into the pool of blackness, thinking I could see two bright red circles of light.
Drowsiness got the better of me again. I dreamt.

 

 

Toby’s Scarecrow
by Chris Castle

Toby managed to fish his homework out of the gutter and save most of it. He put his satchel over his bag and walked down the long road home, trying not to feel where the numb swelling was stretching out into the first ache of the bruise. The satchel had been his mothers and he loved it; he didn’t care what the three boys said or did because of it. In his mind, his mother was still with him; the strap of it her arm on his shoulder, the weight of it her embrace.
The sun lay high on the road and he chose to walk in the sun. No cars came down this road now; the mill had shut and no-one had any real cause to use it. Toby veered into the shadows and out again, playing a simple game to distract him from the pain that was spreading along his cheek now. He started to wonder why the boys had singled him out; because he was small and the only thing he had close to a friend was his teacher, Mr. Wright, which probably made it worse. Toby sighed; he was only eleven but sometimes he felt older.
He reached his house and called out for his pa. There was no response and Toby wondered if he was asleep or drunk. He walked through the house and then to the kitchen, putting ice to his cheek. He changed out of his clothes then and began to prepare food for the evening. When his chores were finished he looked out to the fields, vast and sprawling and useless now and gathered up his satchel, closing the door behind him.
Toby ran for a little while, playing games, but the throb in his cheek grew steadily worse and after a little while he simply walked through the long grasses. He had seen things out here, some beautiful, like the long mists that sometimes smeared over the fields, others sad and small and terrible; the dead cats, the dry land, once his father passed out by the oak tree. Toby walked deeper and deeper, wanting to lose him from everything he knew, everything that was around him. He wanted to walk off the sorrow he felt in his heart, he guessed. Deeper and deeper he went, until, all of a sudden, he met the man in the centre of the field and screamed.

 

Toby’s Scarecrow
Illustration by Poppy Alexander

 


 

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