8th Issue

This is the line up for the eighth issue.
52 pages containing 14 great stories and poems!

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

Cover image by Daevid Ford

Issue Eight will be available from
Friday 30th July

 

The Thirteenth Hole
by James McCormick

I was on my thirteenth hole and well ahead when I hit my ball into the wooded area in a desperate attempt to avoid the bunker just ahead of me. I cursed my bad luck; not only had I been forced into playing this game by Mr. Daniels, my bullying, overweening boss, he had also insisted that a very large round of drinks should be the wager for losing. Usually it was the winner who paid, but my corpulent employer, who always insisted on winning, had other ideas. It wasn’t enough that he paid me a pittance and drove round in a Rolls Royce, he wanted his drinks paid for too.
But the irritation soon disappeared. I’d spent about ten minutes looking for the lost ball when I realised I was lost.
But that description didn’t really do justice to my current predicament. It wasn’t that I’d simply wandered too far into the trees and lost my bearings. As crazy as it sounded I was in a totally new landscape, one of dense forest and ancient, giant trees that towered up into the heavens.

La Luna Del Cacciatore – The Hunter’s Moon
by Kirstyanne Ross


Let’s play a game,
guess my name and live.
Landscapes evolved
yet I remained.

Black
by MJ Wesolowski

Greg and I were born within a few seconds of each other. Greg was first and it was obvious, even then, that we weren’t identical. I looked like any other baby but Greg was different. His forehead already a blank slope, underneath which, two empty, watery eyes stared into nowhere. His mouth hung open, always, with a permanent trail of drool down his chin, staining whatever he was wearing. I have a photo of Greg in my wallet, taken from when we were both about three. It was on holiday, in Majorca, the sun beaming down on us between the leaves of a palm tree. We’re both in the same clothes, red adidas T-shirts and white, plastic baseball caps. I’m skinny, with a mop of blonde hair next to Greg, his belly spilling over the top of his shorts, mouth open and those eyes that stare out in wonder at the world. This is when everything was ok, when everything was normal.
Greg never really got past the age of three. His body grew, as did mine, but his brain slumped at that age and gave up, like an empty car engine, spluttering and hissing before grinding to a halt. That’s kind of how mum and dad explained it, that Greg was different to other boys, that he needed a bit more help. He’s still a person, still your brother, still our son, they said; I knew it, I loved my brother, I loved him a long time ago.

Pancakes
by Chris Castle

If she had woken during the night, as she had done every other night since her husband died, she would have heard it. What started as a whisper, a bang, that grew and grew until, finally, it was a commotion. But instead, Sandra woke and smiled, looked at the clock and slapped it down a minute before the alarm was set to explode and could only think of one thing: Pancakes.
She showered and dressed, and walked down the stairs, humming a song so bad that she made her way over to the CD player and switched it on; no sound. She tried the switches; no light. The TV was dead too. She made her way into the kitchen and started up the pancake mix and it was only when she idly pulled the phone out of the re-charger did she see the five messages and six missed calls.
“Penny? Is everything okay?” She readied the mix and boiled water off the camp stove.
“My God! Sandy, are you okay? I was so worried about you!” Her friend’s voice was off the radar; she wondered if the messages all sounded the same. This was bad. Penny was calm, steady.
“Pen, what’s the matter? Tell me what’s wrong.” Sandy gripped the phone a little tighter. Now John was gone, nothing could scare her, nothing could worry her, but all the same she was determined to look out for her friends. She waited as her friend seemed to gasp on the other end of the phone.
“What’s wrong? Damn it, Sandy, look out of your window!”

 

Autumn Falls
by Christine E. Schulze


As soon as she entered the Vale of the Mira, she felt it. Death clung to the air like a foreshadowing hand just waiting to take hold of its victims. Autumn knew that their time—that Andy's time—was short indeed.
Not even the slightest breeze stirred as Autumn made her way to the palace. Mira lay strewn all over the ground where they fell unconscious as the disease struck them.
Autumn carried Andy to his room in the palace, laying a cold cloth on his feverish forehead and situating the soft pillows and blankets around him. She carried as many others as she could into the room as well, trying to calm their fevers and tending to them the best she could, but all to no avail. This was no ordinary plague. This was black magic, the work of her sister. This was her sister's reply to her wedding invitation. Autumn sunk to her knees and sobbed. How helpless she felt, how it pained her to see them all lying there, miserable and suffering, on the brink of death, and there was nothing she could do for them.
No, wait. There was something she could do. She must go see her sister. The sister who despised Autumn’s betrothal to the Mira king, Andy; the sister who loathed Autumn’s own Mira lineage. The sister whose mother, also Autumn’s stepmother, was a Scintillate who taught her Scintillate daughter to view the Mira as inferior and to hate them. Though Autumn loathed the thought, there must be some way she could change her sister’s cruel heart; there must be some way she could spare the Mira’s lives...


Twisted Words
by Andrew Stockton

1

I first felt uneasy about the whole thing when I drove through the gates and along the drive toward the distant building. The gently undulating fields on either side of the driveway wore a white early morning mist that swirled and rose, reminiscent of many hackneyed post-war horror films. Images of Vincent Price or Peter Cushing appearing as a black silhouette in the distance flashed through my mind. Yet it was something more than this that provoked this feeling of foreboding. No, not foreboding. That would be too strong. Disquiet.
Of course, I put it down to the fact that I had been driving all night: over-tiredness and perhaps an over active imagination. I had driven up from London, after all, with only a couple of brief stops and while I was used to driving long distances, this was a long journey even for me. I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself have I? Anthony Kerslake, born in Surrey, travelled a bit, did a bit of book dealing as a hobby which slowly turned into a living after setting up a second hand bookshop in Oxford, single, forty odd, and here to - well, originally invited to meet an old acquaintance again and check out buying some old books, but now not really sure of whether I want to be here or not.
The old house disappeared as I drove down a small incline into a corridor of trees and through a carpeting layer of even thicker mist, which gave an eerie impression of unreal trees growing above a cloud of shimmering white. At the bottom of the incline thick branches intertwined overhead, gnarled hands grasping each other over the roadway, supporting each other as if holding up the insubstantial caricatures of decaying life. I was startled to find I had slowed right down, almost to a crawl as I stared ahead at some sort of grotesque death masque: the thicker branches of some of the trees had intertwined overhead and were reaching down in such a way as to produce the shape of a hanged corpse, arms reaching to the throat as if in some vain attempt at release, head lolling to one side and legs and body jerked together in a hideous danse macabre.


Awakened Enchantment
by Trisha Wolfe

I gripped the letter in my hands not wanting to let it go. All I had to do was place it under the rock and walk away. But the task was more daunting than just releasing the small envelope, it was releasing him.
Lucas, I thought. How had things become this complicated? After tonight it would all be over, and I could go back to my world, and he had to return to his.
I sensed him in the forest. Even over the cascading fall I heard his footsteps coming closer. I tucked the letter under the rock and spread my wings hurriedly gliding to the top of a tree where I hid.
He stopped only a few feet away from the rock and began looking around like he was some kind of secret agent on a mission. I held my hands over my mouth trying to keep a giggle from escaping. Everything he did brought a smile to my face.
Satisfied that there was no one around he lifted the rock and found my note. My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach as I watched his face light up and he tore into the envelope. For him he was getting the best news, I would meet him here tonight like he had requested. Of course I would, I met him every night. For me however, I knew this would be our last encounter together.


The Shadows Inside
by Peter Simon

George Carter was still tapping away, staring at his computer screen as the darkness grew around him. The rows of figures and names were blurring into fuzzy streaks before his tired eyes.
“Why bother with names and addresses?” he hissed to himself. “All you need is a national insurance number! Would make processing these people a heck of a lot easier.”
“Bye, George,” said Lesley, one of the late shift workers, as she disappeared through the door. George just grunted ungraciously.
Like so many people, Lesley found the sharp new office oppressive. She always seemed relieved to get out of there. George didn’t understand what panicked people about the place.
Mrs Baylis he read on the screen. Idiot! She’d given him a hard time on the phone earlier. Objected to being a mere number! OK, he would send her a curt tax reminder in the post.
Satisfied with that little act of retribution, George wiped his eyes with a grey pinstriped sleeve.


Lain in the Ground
by Anna Sykora


Beneath this cross,
Beneath its mound
Lies what has long
Lain in the ground:


The Feathered Winds
by Maria Mitchell

I don't think much about apples, but when I do, I always think of unicorns. I think of how wonderful it would be to rest with such a gentle, white creature under the apple tree out in my yard. I gaze out the window and I can see myself sitting under the tree laced with burgeoning blooms. There are no apples yet. The unicorn at my side neighs weakly. While still healthy and muscular at the moment, he won't be for long because he's getting hungry. His hibernation through a long and arduous winter has left him lean and weak. I cannot help him. I can't speed up the fragile blossoms over our heads to ripen into juicy, nurturing fruit. He must continue to go hungry for at least another month. It's been a sluggish spring and it promises to be a bitterly short summer. It is not hopeful. It's sad that even in a fantasy; all must be rife with hungry uncertainty gnawing at bony ribs.


Mozart’s Vampire
by Clarise Samuels


As the well-dressed gentleman strolled down the city streets of Manhattan among blaring horns and yellow cabbies, he did not look a day over thirty-five, and a rather youthful thirty-five at that. Like most vampires, he was exceedingly handsome, with a lush head of thick, dark hair, and the most soulful brown eyes any woman had ever seen. The texture of his skin had an eternal youthfulness, and his condition caused his skin to faintly glow with an ethereal quality and a pallor resulting from his advanced years. Indeed, he was 250 years old.
His name was Frederick, and modern Manhattan was now his home. Being physically beautiful was, like being a vampire, both a blessing and a curse. Frederick could have any woman he desired, and they all flocked to him like disciples with offerings to place on the alter of his love. Frederick ignored them, avoided them, sniffed imperviously, and treated them with contempt. Had they known the truth, they would have been grateful for his disdain.
He had started out as an ordinary human in Vienna, Austria, having been born in the year 1756, the same year as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart was his best friend starting from boyhood. Frederick’s chosen profession was originally that of composer and violinist, and Mozart, the renowned child prodigy of Frederick’s day, had taken Frederick on as his very first student.


The Vampire And The Witch
by Sally Startup

Deep in the winter, vampires had gathered in the old hall. Damp soot and ancient candle grease blackened the walls. In the long fireplace, a great fire spat blue and orange sparks.
Sluggish elder vampires sat replete and silent. Plump-bosomed female vampires frolicked on animal-skin rugs, caressing each other with playful licks. They were watched by lean, poetic male vampires in blousy shirts, who lounged on couches with wine-red cushions. Thin-lipped mistresses in tight-waisted satin gowns glowered hungrily from behind the crumbling gilt chairs of their vampire masters. The newly-formed were lusty, and bounded about, like puppies.
“Be still!” cried out one silver-haired vampire, who wore an elegant suit of deepest midnight blue. “Shall I calm you with a story, before we retire to earth?”
“Yes, tell us a story!” the lusty ones cried.
“Tell us a human story.”


The Angel in a Box
by Emma Kathryn


There, in the corner of that horrible little square room, she sat, slowly banging her blonde head against the solitary sheet of heavy-duty Perspex that they had been watching her through. She was curled up tightly; arms wrapped around her knees, pulling them in even closer against her chest. A pair of great wings remained folded against her back. She thumped her head against the hard plastic, like a pulse. Thud, thud, thud.


The Butterfly on a Wheel – Part Three
by Andrew M. Boylan

The fifth Canto: Envy


“You okay, sweet heart?”
The voice belonged to her father. Christ, he must know something has happened, I thought, the aroma of sex was overpowering, even in the closet. But no, he wouldn’t be able to smell it, his human senses pitifully weak.
“I’m fine.” Josephine’s voice sounded drowsy, as though she had just woken up.
“It’s just that you left the lights on downstairs…”
“Sorry…”
“No problem, you sleep tight.”
I heard him enter the room, the sound of his lips lightly brushing her forehead, the door closing as he left.
I opened the closet.
“We must keep quiet,” Josephine’s voice was barely a whisper, “Come into bed and hold me.”

 

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