And then the Spider Came Along, by P.L. Cobb. A supernatural horror short about a widower who comes face to face with his wife's killer.

And then the Spider Came Along

It was a long, dark night. The kind of long and dark where one is lonely. Loneliness was known to cause insanity … But it was also a beacon for other strange things.

He, recently widowed, sat hunched over his desk, carefully carving a squiggle into the wood with a knife. A soft whisper tickled the back of his neck; it was very slight, but still it prickled his skin. Immediately he turned around to find the source. The last thing he wanted to see greeted his wide-eyed stare.

A spectre. No–a ghoul, a mocking visage of his wife was in the room with him. It hurt him to see her decomposed body. It enraged him. Once dark skin was now maggot-white; her hair hung limp around her head like a veil. A death veil.

The ghoul was not truly looking at him, but its pale eyes were pointed in his direction.

In life those eyes had been hazel-green, he reminded himself.

The spectre, the ghoul–whatever it was–raised a hand to point at something behind him. There were, he noticed, puncture wounds running all the way up to the thing’s elbows.

Puncture wounds. His dead wife. Carefully he turned around. Above his head was the creature known as the Spider. It clung to the place where wall met ceiling, hidden in the shadows.

Slowly he stood up, and backed away from the desk. Within a clenched fist the knife felt reassuring. He had always known that the Spider would return, had counted upon it, but never suspected the time to be so soon. I buried her last week! Pure loathing, mixed with fear, set his pulse racing. They seldom have any decency.

There were things which lived beyond the scope of human understanding; the Spider was one amongst many. These beings flitted in and out of time and space. Sometimes they walked between worlds. None of what they did made any sense, save for one: they all had to feed. Hunger, even for a god-like creature, was an instinctual need. Emotions, particularly from organic life, intoxicated them; greed drove them to seek out the choicest individuals, and people died.

His wife was just one amongst many, and the Spider would not stop with just her. A vision flashed before the man’s eyes: of people running, panting, through gloom-laden woods. It had come for both of them on a camping trip. Who would have suspected that a long weekend could go to hell so quick?

It didn’t move from its perch, but it watched him with all eight of its eyes. And he watched it as it began to click its fangs.

He held up the knife, hoping against hope that his plan would not go to hell as his life had. With an unsteady hand he began to carve a sigil onto his free hand. Spider, spider on the wall. Spider, spider in the hall. When you hear the raven’s call, back to your hole you shall crawl. 

The rhyme was stupid, but it steadied his nerves. If an alien god was going to kill him, then he would invite another to kill it. When he finished carving the mark, he managed a weak smile. “I hope you don’t mind me inviting a friend!”

The Spider, the Golden Spider, held no love for the Red Raven, and vice versa. He did not want another juggernaut in his home … But what choice do I have?

The Red Raven was punctual; it answered his call immediately. Another spot of darkness filled the small office. Suddenly, the air became thin. Space became scarce as the two gods sized each other up. Before they clashed, the man ducked out of the room, shutting the door behind him.

Set Fire To Something, by Mitchell Stoycheff

Set Fire to Something

The acrid smell of gasoline was as strong as it was heady. It pervaded the air like a poisonous cloud assailing the senses. My nose burned from underneath it, and my eyes watered as I continued to pour the liquid my hands shaking.

Around me the night screamed in alarm: every bug was a siren; every bird was mortal. They peered out at me through the darkness of the night. Their accusing glares matched the beating of my heart. They were everywhere, and they pounded against my thoughts like hammer.

I focused on my task, the smell of gasoline. The smell of vengeance and the smell of justice. There was nothing left to my world; all obligations forfeit. Splashing the last few drops I tossed the container aside and fumbled in my pockets for my lighter.

This was it.

As I went to flicked it on I looked up to the face of the scarecrow, his split fibrous grin was dark and slick with liquid. Its eyes were unnaturally focused. Could this demon smell it? Did the scent of the gasoline lead it here. I stumbled back slipping in the slick grass, fear bubbling in the back of my throat. It’s head cocked to one side rolling awkwardly.

It shuffled toward me, almost unstably. Its was a game it played. I had seen it move and I had seen it kill. My eyes looked to the gleaming meat hook stuffed in its right arm, recalling how It strung up Sally from the rafters, how her screams were cut short.

My hand clenched the lighter, almost as tight as my chest heaved. There was no time left, no air left. I was going to die. Would it do the same to me as it did to all the others? Would it hurt. My vision blurred, I was the only one left after all, who would bury me?

The demon lunged at me and I screamed and tried to roll away. The pain was immediate. My fingers dug haphazardly in the earth as struggled to pull myself away from the fiend, knowing that I was within its clutches. It tugged, and my left leg screamed in agony. Terror and pain erupted from my lips in an anguished fearful cry. Tears blurred my vision, as I fought its supernatural strength. It pulled again my body sliding in the slick grass with ease.

Twisting I swung my leg at it in desperation. It took the blows with ease, its feral grin unflinching. Instead in leaned forward, tearing the hook from my leg with ease sending shock waves that splintered up my body. I screamed in pain, I screamed for God, even as the black spots formed in between my tears.

Despite it’s blurry form its soulless eyes were in clarity. It was the eyes of death. I struggled backward as it angled itself even closer, the bloody hook dripping with bits of ragged flesh. I whimpered pleas of sorrow as I continued to struggle backward against the pain. The rough skin of the tree ended my retreat, and I was forced to look up to the demon that loomed over me, like a carving of statue whose eyes glittered even in the night.

I had so many regrets, so many plans for the future. None included this haunting menace. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want any of this, but it was all I had left. The scent of vengeance and the scent of justice. Could they be the same, when the nightmares of the world came crawling out. My hand trembled as I flicked the lighter, bringing a spark to the darkness.

The demon pealed, the meat hook flashing brightly in the moonlight, but the flash of fire was faster as it consumed him and tree that tethered the demon to this world.

West Coast Adventure by R.J. Davies; photography by Mitchell Stoycheff

West Coast Adventure

Bea felt like she was on top of the world. She had just moved to Vancouver after mulling it over in her head for months. Her worldly belongings were packed. Then Bea did the unthinkable and moved across the country to a city she was a stranger in. Her daughter was off at college in Montreal and Bea needed a distraction, an adventure. Ever since the divorce several years ago Bea wanted to do something … She hadn’t known what but knew she needed to mix things up for a bit. Bea decided that the move would be temporary; she’d stay out on the coast for a year and then return to her home town.

What she hadn’t counted on was Jarrod.

Ten years younger than her, two feet taller, and the body of a god. Turning the coffee on she stopped and wondered again what he saw in her. She was pretty, but he looked like a model, the type of person who could have anyone they wanted. They had been dating for three weeks. When they were out in public women were swooning over him, slipping him their numbers–but she noticed he had eyes only for her. Bea felt special. It was something she hadn’t felt in decades. He made her feel young, vibrant and sexy. He was exactly what she needed. In the back of her mind she heard her mother’s nagging voice, he seemed too good to be true. Too perfect … Was he? Nah, she was just lucky to find this amazing guy.

“Coffee’s on,” she called out to him.

“Thanks babe!” he shouted back.

He was in the bathroom. She strolled down the hall to check up on him. It was something she did every so often. Checking her good luck out. Sneaking peeks of him when he wasn’t looking. Looking for some tell tale bad habit to prove the nagging voice in the back of her mind, something that would show that he wasn’t perfect, but he was a lovely in every way. She leaned against the wall and watched him brush his teeth. He didn’t see her watching. He rinsed his toothbrush. He picked up her hairbrush, slowly raised it to his face, and inhaled deeply. A grin creased her lips. God he was so sexy. Then he carefully pulled the hair from her brush, gently holding it in his hand he pulled out a plastic bag and stuffed it in. A knot in her stomach told her that was an odd behaviour. Kind of. Wasn’t it? Maybe he was saving it … To take with him … For what?

“Hey babe I didn’t see you there,” he came out grinning at her.

“I was watching you brush your teeth.”

“Yes all the better to eat you with,” he laughed as he wrapped an arm around her waist scooping her into a warm embrace as he nuzzled her neck. She suddenly forgot what she was concerned about.

Picking her up he carried her back to the bedroom where they had just finished marathon sex. Going in for a replay was so exciting. He had an insatiable appetite that she found overwhelming and exhilarating. They spent the rest of the afternoon wrapped up in each other, corporeal, hungry, experimenting with Karma Sutra moves that left them drained and tired. He pulled her close and nibbled an earlobe.

“You are the most exciting woman I have ever met,” he whispered.

She moaned in agreement.

“You are the only one who gets inside my head and gets me. I have never felt this way with anyone.”

She grinned. “I feel the same way baby.” Bea felt content in his large muscular arms. Jarrod held her close to his sweaty hairy chest and it felt like heaven. She had never felt safer in her life. The little voice in the back of her mind whispered, We don’t know him that well, don’t be so trusting, you’re always so trusting Bea!

She was heading home from work and felt the little hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. The unsettling feeling of being watched haunted her all day long. Working for a bank at the customer service counter she was openly visible to everyone that came in. Bea loved her job and the customers that she dealt with on a regular basis. Today she felt edgy, apprehensive and nervous. She kept watching the clock and couldn’t wait for her shift to be over. At times she was even a little jumpy. She didn’t like that feeling. In all honesty she couldn’t wait to get back to her apartment and close all the curtains. It was the oddest feeling … She hadn’t noticed anyone giving her any extra attention … Nothing more than normal. It could have been that there was another missing woman reported on the news this morning. Same height, hair colour, complexion, and age as she was. People were getting a little anxious: it was the fourth one in the last three months according to the news.

Trying not to give it any thought she stopped at the little corner store. Outside there were bins of fruit and a basket. Picking up a basket she surveyed what was available. She grabbed a pineapple, some strawberries and bananas. Then went inside. The bakery section was all homemade fresh pastries and breads made by the storeowner’s wife. She picked through and found some tarts and a loaf of grained bread. Near the back of the store was the meat section. One of the greatest things about living in the big city there was a slaughterhouse just down the road and the meat in this store was sold cheap. Jarrod actually worked for the place, she could have went there and picked it up directly but this was more convenient. Picking out some beef and chicken she headed back to the check out.

“Hi Bea, how was work today?”

“The usual. How was business today for you?”

“Steady, so I’m not complaining.” He laughed.

She passed him some money and he handed back her change and bagged up her goods.

“There is going to be a street festival tonight maybe you can bring your guy down to that. They will be closing off the street, there will be music, drinking, and a lot of partying.”

“Well, count us in,” she laughed and gave him a wink.

Heading back outside she walked two doors down and entered the door that led up to her apartment. She hurried inside and locked the door. Sighing she looked around her apartment and heaved a sigh of relief … Safe, she was safe. Home safe. No eyes watching her here.

“Hey babes,” Jarrod came out of the bedroom. She screamed.

She nearly dropped her bags. Laughing, she looked at his startled face. “Sorry baby, I didn’t know you would be here.”

“Let me help you with those.” He came over and took the bags.

“There’s a festival going on downstairs tonight. Do you want to go check it out?”

“Sure.” He began putting things away for her.

“How was your day?”

“It was alright. Nothing eventful, how about you?”

“Same. I’m going to go grab a quick shower and change.”

“Sure I’ll make us something to eat.”

The hot water felt like heaven on her tired skin. Bea let the day wash down the drain. She was at home, safe in her apartment, Jarrod was there and making dinner. What more could a woman ask for?

The thought of someone watching her began to feel absurd. An over active imagination … Maybe it was watching too many of those CSI shows. The thought of watching Jarrod take her hair and put it in a baggie popped into her mind. Why would he do that? She laughed at the thought. Was he being romantic? Perhaps she should just come out and ask him. What if it embarrassed him? She knew from experience that some men didn’t like to be embarrassed. Should she just let it go?

Turning the water off she stepped out onto the bathroom mat and began drying off. Staring at herself in the mirror and decided not to let it bother her. Shake off those weird feelings; unless she had proof of something … Then there was nothing there but her imagination running wild. Taking the blow dryer out she plugged it in and dried her hair. There was going to be a party downstairs, maybe that’s exactly what she needed: to take her fella out on the town, have some drinks and go dancing. It was beginning to sound like a lot like something that she didn’t want to pass up. Running the brush through her hair she pulled it back and tied it up in a knot. Gathering up her cloths she dumped them in the laundry basket then headed to the bedroom. Slipping into lace underwear and her skinny jeans she leafed through her soft satin and laced blouses that hung in the closet. She picked out a soft blue that would bring out the colour in her eyes. Bea slipped it on and joined Jarrod out in the kitchen. He was just finishing up dinner so she set the table.

“Looks delicious,” she sat down beside him. Jarrod filled her plate and then his.

“Thanks,” he began to dig in.

“Did you hear, another woman went missing?”

He nodded and continued eating as if she was talking about the weather.

“Someone at work pointed out that these ladies look like me. What do you think?”

He paused, looked at her and finished chewing slowly. Shaking his head. “No baby they don’t look anything like you. You’re my angel.”

She half smiled, “Thanks baby.”

“Stick with me babes, you’ll be safe.” He changed the subject and talked about a couple new movies that were coming out that he wanted to see with her. She enjoyed the distraction and let the subject go.

They danced and drank with new friends until four in the morning. Dragging themselves upstairs they couldn’t stop laughing. As they stumbled into her apartment, he pulled her into his arms.

“You’re the best time I have ever had,” she grinned at him.

He looked at her like she had just slapped him then his features soften. “I have never been anyone’s best time.” Jarrod danced her to the bedroom and she fell asleep in his arms feeling content.

Rousing awake she felt chilled and disoriented. She tried to stretch but her hands, arms and legs were restricted. Bea’s eyes blinked as she looked around her. She was sitting on a cold floor … Where was she? It looked like an empty cellar. It was a 12 by 12 room, all cement. There was a dim light in the corner, the only light that was provided. She couldn’t see a window, only a large metal door. Bea began to scream but her mouth was gagged. What was going on?

The door creaked open and a large man stood in the doorway wearing a rubber clown mask. The light glinted of the cold metal of the large knife he held. What happen? The last thing she remembered was falling asleep in Jarrod’s arms. Jarrod! Oh god, this man killed him! Her mind was racing all over the map. Jarrod was dead somewhere and here she was about to die. All she wanted was a little adventure. The man came into the room and slowly walked over to her. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she sobbed, pleading with him to let her go. He couldn’t make out what she was saying, a small part of her brain understood this, but she couldn’t stop herself.

He came to a stop and knelt down beside her. The tip of the blade he caressed against her cheek, which sent her into another fit of wailing. He gently dragged his knife down her body to her shirt, cutting her favourite blouse. Blinded by fear and tears she felt the blade caress her breast as he ran it over and down to her lacy bra. With one quick movement he cut her bra. The cool air licked her skin.

He leaned in close to her and pulled the mask up part ways as he licked the tears off her cheek. That tongue felt familiar! Oh god Jarrod? Could it really be him? Blinking back the tears she tried to focus on his eyes.

The man chuckled, “I know you know.”

Jarrod! NO!

He pulled off his mask and her heart sank as she realized that this was her boyfriend. By the look in his eyes she wasn’t leaving this cellar alive. 

The Enigmatic Monster Project

Monday, or “This is Not Going to Work Out!”

“I can’t believe you did that to me,” he said in a hurt voice, softly. He hated being this afraid of her. Something had to change if she wanted him to stay.

She turned around, every inch of her slug-like body glistening. Today she manifested herself as a bloody gob of phlegm.

He wondered if he had gone too far this time as her body engulfed him. She was livid. “Why do you always start this before I go to work?” he cried. She knew he had to work! And he also knew that it was useless to ask–she would never tell him the real reason for lashing out like this. He gurgled: “Please stop! Can’t you just tell me why, just this once?”

Depression was a likely candidate. Seasonal depression was common during the winter. Did she have a tough weekend? Or was it about having a baby … She had wanted one for a while, but he was still hesitant.

Whenever he was off from work she disappeared, so there was no excuse for this behaviour. At least not in his mind. If he had to guess she was cheating on him, while he remained the loyal husband. She was an enigma, and a killer, but he had always loved her, which made the what if more painful.

“You’re too possessive,” he told her, sadness painting his features. “I don’t think I can go on with this for much longer. I don’t think this is gonna work out. I–” his voice cracked. “I want a divorce!” The words came out in a rush.

Her massive body began to quiver.”Oh, so you’ve finally found your backbone?” She was mocking him.

Mocking him? Admittedly he had trouble understanding her. Today was no different. “Let me go,” he whispered.

“Hmm, no lover. Not today!” Her body began to envelope him as she pulled him inside herself. “You haven’t given me a child yet!”

His voice was drowned out as she trapped him. No! he said to himself, panicked.

His wife’s habits in the bed were voracious, to put it lightly.

These Words, story and art by P.L. Cobb

Blood Between the Sheets

A couple moved in time with one another, their passionate groans calling out in eager whimpering pleas. As they twisted in the sheets, a subtle yet assertive knock sounded at the door.

“Who’s that?” The man stopped and pulled himself back. She could see the nervous tension racing through him. He was young even by her standards, but she was still in accordance with mortal law. 18 human years was adult enough. Far older than a few hundred years ago.

She shushed him, and drew him close. “Pay it no mind baby,” the woman crooned as she traced a line down his muscular chest. She always enjoyed a fair amount of muscle. He relaxed and bent in with a sloppy kiss, his hips shifting forward.

The knock came again, this time it was no longer subtle. It was demanding.

He moved up and off of her, alert with nervous tension and the undercurrent of anger. Poor things get frustrated oh so easy! The woman sighed and turned so that she faced the door propping her head on her hand. She didn’t bother covering herself with the sheet. Naked, her young lover answered the door in an angry huff. Obviously proud of himself. A man stood on the other side, tall and muscular. She felt flush, seeing him, as her eyes traced downward. Her lover’s chest puffed out. “What’s the problem man!” He barked, leaning forward. Despite being tall himself the man on the other side was still a head taller. Looking down at the boy before him the man smiled, before looking to woman in the bed. She gave a flirty wave.

“You were suppose to be ready to leave a half hour ago.”

She shrugged caressing her waist. “I was craving something–” she paused, glancing at her lover who was looking a bit angry at the sudden twist “–big.” She finished with a smile.

The man smiled, and caught the eyes of her lover, before looking downward. The young lover stepped back under the sudden hungry gaze. “Finish up here, Luce” he told her, smiling again at her lover. “She always finds the pretty ones” he murmured before shutting the door behind him.

Sitting up Luce positioned herself seductively. Invitingly. As her lover turned back to her. She could tell they had lost the mood. She pouted to herself. Well, that wouldn’t do. “I think I better go.” He mentioned grabbing his underwear from the floor. “I don’t want to intrude in whatever that was.”

Luce gave a little laugh. “Vee? Pay him no mind. He’s the perpetual jealous type. But hardly a good tumble between the sheets.” He stared at her. She could tell he was sitting on the precipice. She could feel it. Part of him wished to leave at once, while deep inside his burning lust ignited as he traced her body with his mind. She just need a final push. Standing up she walked over to him and pressed her breasts against him. “Don’t go.” She whimpered, kissing below his jaw. He shivered and she could feel his resistance fade as a hardness shifted below. Luce smiled and pulled him downward to kiss him. He complied, the heat returning to his body. She grinned, as he pulled her closer, the hungry carnal heat retaking him. It would do her no good to be on edge. Oh no, she liked to savor the heat of the moment.

She gave a slight moan as she felt his arms lift her, making a quick transition to the bed. As he shifted below her, ready to continue their previous romp, she stopped him with a suggestive grin. “Let me be on top.” He gave a wolfish grin and pulled her onto him. She let out a soft moan of pleasure. Tracing his muscular chest, feeling the strong beat beneath, she gave in to his proddings. She smiled at him through heavy eyes as he moved his own hands up her trembling body. Eager to explore, his hunger burning deep inside him.

Oh he was ready, she could feel it. Nothing was better than the heat of desire burning out conscious reason. With her right hand still on his chest, she reached up with her left, playfully covering his mouth. “Don’t scream too loud.” She purred at him.

He looked at her confused, but Luce smiled wickedly. He grinned himself, his own thoughts bringing delicious fruit.

Oh, but not his kind of fruit!

In one swift motion her left hand clamped over his mouth while her right tore into his flesh, boring into his ribs with a deafening snap. She groped a moment in his chest cavity until she felt the warm thick pulse of his heart. Her lover screamed in agony beneath the supernatural strength of her hands, but she would not allow him to move. Oh no, she was looking forward to this. His cry soon ended.

She carefully pulled an enlarged heart from his chest and gazed at it lovingly. Oh yes, she was definitely hungry for something big. Luce looked at the man beneath her, a ragged hole in his chest. He had no idea. Cardiomyopathy was genetic after all. She leaned forward and brushed her lips against his before pulling herself off of him. “Thanks for the lovely Valentine.” She smiled and then bit into the heart like an apple.


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Ichor Falls: A Visitor’s Guide

Ichor Falls: A Visitor’s Guide

A simple, quick recommendation by Jonathan Kruschack. Certainly not by the eldritch thing that has embedded an unseeable, ethereal tentacle into his skull on New Years Eve as he drunkenly left his friend’s home smelling of Glenlivet 12 and Lucky Buddha and is periodically taking control of his corporeal form just for kicks.

No, that thing isn’t real and nobody should try and help him. I mean me, the human. Jon. Anyways, here’s the recommendation.

(Note To Self: Have puny human smack self in face for trying to sneakily ask for help DAMN YOU HUMAN STOP TYPING Y’RTHGRPHARLGH COMMANDS IT!)

Ichor Falls: A Visitor’s Guide, available on Gumroad.com.

A free PDF, full of short stories by Kris Straub, previously mentioned by the human  by me in the PIP article reviewing his comic Broodhollow and Scared Yet? recommendation article. This time Straub has released 17 stories, such as Promises, The Fulcrum, Opossum Society, The Stillwood King and Indistinguishable, all of which are set in the haunting, fictional town of Ichor Falls, West Virginia.

With a few graphics thrown in, this well laid out collection looks great and is an easy read for frail humans fans of horror literature. Each story is gripping in its own way.
Some sad, some disturbing, some even have a dark sense of humour.  Do yourself a favour and download this PDF. The above mentioned stories stand out but over all nothing in the PDF is lacking in the horror department. If this site did numerical reviews it’d be a 10/10. Download and enjoy Ichor Falls: A Visitors Guide today.

My Soul Is Being Devoured Please Help me*,

– J. Kruschack

*ha ha that is a joke all humans enjoy jokes don’t mind that Y’RTHGRPHARLGH WILL CRUSH YOUR BONES AND FEAST UPON THE DUST HUMAN STOP TYPING!

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