By Mitchell Stoycheff, Jake Zaccaria, and Penny C.
By Mitchell Stoycheff, Jake Zaccaria, and Penny C.
Whenever she closed her eyes she saw a mouth–filled to the brim with teeth–open wide. Sleep did not come easy.
Take me for a ride in your spaceship,
I’m all alone
And I’ve got nothing to do.
I wanna go for a funky space ride,
So tell me,
What are you going to do?
Chrystopher. I am now Chrystopher, he told himself once more.
It had been a long time since he had done this . . . Reflect upon himself. Chrystopher promised a new beginning.
That was his hope.
He still couldn’t trust himself not to fall back into old habits–to fall back into his darker self. When everything was young he had been different; he swore that he had never been so evil. He had simply grown into it.
He hated that, but it was the truth. “I hate myself,” he murmured. Chrystopher wasn’t trying to be hard on himself, just honest.
Again with that? a part of him said in derision. Just forget it; it’s futile and you know this. Don’t disappoint yourself!
Perhaps that part of him was right?
“It probably is,” he reminded himself. It was him, after all. At that thought he allowed himself a deep chuckle.
“I was such a bastard!”
You still are! the cynical voice replied. That part of him was his darker self. Chrystopher didn’t have to like it, but that part of him would always be with him; he was better off accepting that now. Memories of the past flooded him with regret. Sometimes he wondered what his life would have been like had he woken up to himself sooner?
Would the king out of darkness still have his wife?
Would his son still have aligned himself with the opposing faction, and would he still have disowned and exiled him?
Would he have absconded his duties as a father, and would he have allowed his mistress to terrorize his children?
Would his youngest daughter be alive today?
When Marianna left he had hated her for it; she was unhappy, and because of that had left him and their children. Da’Kiri–his old self–had fallen into madness. That had been so long ago, he wouldn’t be surprised if she had passed into oblivion.
“Forgive me. I am a bastard.”
The Owl and I
We danced upon the moon one night.
And to my delight,
One night became an eternity.
Forever dancing in the skies
Never a care of the old life I once had.
I just danced.
It was in Septembre of last year, on a dreary day . . . It was the first time I saw him. He was squatting, balanced atop a mouldering fence post. The red raven, standing on the edge of a knife; the red raven, whispering his words, his secrets, his life. That was the day I discovered his true nature. It was only a matter of minutes, but they were like an eternity to me. How it must have felt to the force before me. I could almost smell his ennui.
And then he was gone, like he had never existed to begin with. The only evidence I could find was the fence post, now a pile of smoking coals.
I had questioned my experience, and it was years before I saw another expression of his existence.
But it wasn’t the same
The lustre and the shine had vanished. What replaced it resembled a wet dog. I saw a troubled man instead of that proud god. Ragged,tired, wearied, exhausted . . . All of the same words to describe the same thing.
I am afraid.
I am afraid because I have never witnessed the slow death of a god.
It troubles me, not because it is a death caused by human hands, but because it is a death brought about by the gods themselves. Perhaps even him. The gods, these forces . . . Existence relies heavily on their movements; their wars, their chaos, their peacemaking–all a constant struggle, a simple game of tug-of-war.
Where is order if there is no chaos?
The spider has dealt its last blow.
I am afraid because the gods want us to die. Everything. Nothing spared.
And I am afraid because the raven has allowed this to occur. He has lost his will to fight.
The goblin lord towered over him, looking every inch the demon that he was. With two large, long-fingered hands he grabbed Gregory by the shoulders and lifted him up from the ground. Gregory could smell the goblin’s breath: it stank of sulphur.
A wave of heat enveloped him. Gregory feared that he was not going to make it out of the labyrinth this time; the King in the Shadows had him now. He would not be playing anymore games with Gregory.
“Where is she?” Da’Kiri whispered in his face. Sparks shot out of his mouth as he spoke.
Fire-breather, Gregory thought. Da’Kiri was liable to bite his face off . . . Or burn him to death. Burn him till there was nothing but ash and hot coals.
“I don’t know where she went!” Gregory grunted.
“You helped her escape! How do you not know!” The goblin shook the man in its fury.
“She was your wife, not your captive.” He almost felt pity for Da’Kiri. “If you wanted to be with her so badly, you should have treated her with more respect!”
The goblin lord released his hold on Gregory’s left shoulder. He held his hand up, palm facing the human’s face.
Without warning Da’Kiri jabbed his index finger into Gregory’s left eye.
Gregory howled in agony. It was like somebody was stabbing his skull with a cold knife. He began to see red. Everywhere.
Satisfied with his work the goblin lord let his enemy fall. As soon as Gregory hit the ground he was unconscious.
When he awoke he found himself alone in the dark. It always ends like this. Why?
How many times did he do this? Was it really just this once, or had it happened a million times before?
His left eye felt different. What happened to me? Gregory felt with his fingers. The left eye felt much different from the right; Gregory blinked them both at different times.
The goblin lord had given him a goblin eye, something which he could not hide in the light of day.
I’ve been cursed!
and the spaces in-between.
Radiating heavenly light from afar.
Raining death upon those who stray too close.
What truth is there to be had in such a place
What truth is there to be had
in the expansive void?
It extends as far as its arm can reach.
Millions upon millions of years pass it by.
And it extends that reach
what you and I have ever known.
Written and photographed by P.L. Cobb
He looked around and found himself in an inky void; for one terrifying second he thought he felt like he was disembodied. Nothing more than an ethereal speck outside of existence. For a time he forced his breathing to come out at a normal rate. His eyes were closed to block out the darkness, however he came to suspect that he was not dead at all . . . The need to know was stronger than his budding fear.
So he forced his eyes open.
The moonlight was soft, but it caused him to squint nonetheless. He was laying on his back in the middle of nowhere. Spruce and pine towered over him while he stared up at the sky.
Without any warning the stranger sat up and retched. The sounds of vomiting filled the air. Nothing came out though. His mouth and throat felt like sandpaper. That revelation did little for the churning inferno in his stomach.
Could it be snakes? a small voice at the back of his head asked, but he then quickly dismissed that thought, knowing full well how ridiculous it sounded . . . How superstitious it was . . .
That gave him cause to think. Or try. He felt that he had been very close to finding something, a prize maybe. Whatever it was. Again, he had the feeling that it had been of great value. Great value, and he had been so close to gaining it.
But now I’ve lost, and been sent back to the beginning of the labyrinth . . .
It was that voice again, superstitious and archaic facet to his personality that was as much a mystery to him as was his current situation.
Do you even know who you are? the voice said again, Do you?
I have no idea, he admitted at length. I am, and that is all.
The archaic voice hissed at him. Do not be so disrespectful! Do not use that name!
The man shook his head, trying to clear it. All that did was alert him to what would soon become the worst migraine he would experience so far in his long life.
Written and photographed by Penny C.
“Eat it up!” The waiter said in a Southern drawl. He walked away without another word.
They both looked at the steak suspiciously.
“That is a big steak,” Tamara said. Out of curiosity she poked it with a fork; poking became cutting.
“Looks a bit purple . . . Gross!” Jamie wrinkled her nose.
“It’s probably made of mutant space cow!” Jamie whispered.
“Eat it up!” Tamara mimicked the waiter. “Is he watching us?”
Jamie scanned the restaurant. There was a total of three people in the dining area, including them. “No, let’s get out of here!”
At the same time they both got up and made a beeline towards the doors.
Somehow, the waiter rose up before them, separating them from their escape.
“Eat it up.” He said in a menacing voice.
The Miracle Man
See his clockwork innards
Working twenty-four seven
For the rest of his life
No death for him
“Take pity on me,” he says
“All my friends are dead . . .
Swallowed up by the bitterness
Of the savage elements.
Ravages by time.
The centuries passed and even their
But there shall be no peace
For the Miracle Man.
She felt surprised and relieved to find that the front door was still locked. Lynda grunted in satisfaction.
She had been rudely awoken during the early hours of the morning to what seemed to be a wild party downstairs. Lynda shivered at the memory. “It was just a dream,” she told herself in a reassuring whisper.
When it happened again the next night she wasn’t so sure about it.
The next night rolled around, and she couldn’t sleep at all. As soon as the noises started up Lynda began to creep down the stairs. Halfway down she saw her living room swarming with creatures straight out of a nightmare. Her whole body froze at the sight. Lynda could feel the blood draining from her face too. What . . . ? Her mind went blank as her eyes scanned the room.
Was there anything she could do, she wondered, looking from nightmare to nightmare. Some were rather benign, while others resembled the demons pictured in Medieval texts. Others she had no word to describe them with . . .
Who is that? Lynda’s eyes stopped roaming and focused themselves on one of the creatures. He was one of the bigger ones, not the biggest, but still larger than her; he was one of the demonic ones too. What set him apart from the rest were the black robes he wore. None of the others had that. He is rather handsome, she realized, In an odd way.
His eyes met hers and the party came a halt. There were a few awkward minutes that followed, before Lynda worked up the courage to say anything.
“Get out of my house.”
It waits in your backyard: a thing. A single whole that is composed of many parts. One day you will find it. You will both look each other in the eye–a contest of wills.
Only one will survive.
“You see, the systematic cynic, well, he sat down at the picnic,” began the Cryptic Mystic. “He sat down beside the eldritch, myopic diptych of the flesh-eating witch!”
“Eldritch, myopic diptych?” I asked, the thought of which made little sense to me. “How could such a thing be worthy of my visit–forgive me– as I sit here cramped in your minuscule hutch?”
“Yes, I must admit that there’s not much to my tale. But believe me! That hag was . . . worse than an itch!”
“Ah,” I nodded my head as best I could without hitting it on a piece of wood. “Forgive me, but you did not answer the question posed: Diptych? As in a painting? Or something to write on? And if so, if one were to suppose that this is a very decent witch–or an itch, as you said previously–how would she be both a flesh-eating, myopic eldritch thing while also being a diptych? Should all of that not cancel each other out?”
The Cryptic Mystic covered his ears and said: “You don’t have to shout! Now what’s this all about? Are you telling me that you do not know the dangers of the eldritch, myopic diptych of the flesh-eating witch!”
I tried not to roll my eyes . . . “I now see what you mean by worse than an itch!”
“There now, see? That wasn’t so hard after all! Now, close your eyes . . . It’s time to feast!”
I stared at the Cryptic Mystic long and hard. “Do you mean to tell me,” I began, “That you are nothing more than a lowly beast? Thinking that I’d let you eat me? Why you–”
The Cryptic Mystic quickly cut me off. “For starters, I am not the real Cryptic Mystic. Before he left for the holidays we made a deal: that I would be able to have his most annoying visitors for my meals if I pretended to be him. I am in fact the heartless, gutless, two-headed ram-ewe.”
I screwed up my face in confusion. “The one who doesn’t chew its meals, and who likes to steal wheels?”
“The very same!”
This time I did roll my eyes.
The androgynous mist started to shrink, and the spaces between its particles shrank with it. It began to fade in and out, while changing its colours in a rhythmic succession like a gaseous cuttlefish. It soon became clear that the shrinking was in fact shifting. But shifting of what? Colour, smell, space?
It was the shape, however. That was the only thing that mattered to the mist.
Mist became man. Or hominid-shaped, at least. And then the androgynous mist became a masculine solid. Of course, it always choose this form. Why? Who knew what went through the mind of an androgynous mist . . .
The last act began as the mist materialized as a solid being. It grasped the shoulders of the young man, the object of its ‘affection’, and pierced his chest with a long draconian tongue. Without so much as a dying whisper the young man crumpled to the ground. He had lost his mind a long time ago. How fortunate for him, the being thought. Or, rather, it thought along those lines. Behind those milky white eyes there lied a treacherous, mysterious mind, with its own set of rules and its own inner workings.
It licked the blood off of its hand, slowly trailing that tongue down until it came to its elbow; that elbow ended in a sharp, bony spike. Why hadn’t it used that to kill the man? That would have been the more ‘humane’ method, but there would have been little in the way of personal pleasure offered to the creature.
After all, the creature was a demon.
“I’ve forgotten the words already,” a voice said in as low a voice as it could muster; that voice was so deep, so distinct. . . So hostile.
“Why do you hate me so much?” She asked.
There was a long pause between words. When she had made up her mind that this was all a dream the owner of the voice answered her question. Finally. “How can you tell?”
“I just know. Don’t ask me how.” There was still the possibility of this being a hallucination. She had read about high frequency sounds and electromagnetic waves affecting the brain. There was that, and much more she reasoned. Ruling out insanity as the cause of all this gave her a small measure of comfort. Small, she reminded herself.
“So, after all these years something remains.” Bitterness broke through that thin layer hostility. Beneath it all was pain. And pride.
“You tricked me, and I died.”
A sharp intake of breath broke the silence. “You didn’t die. You became like me–like a god–immortal.”
She shook her head, attempting to dispel the turmoil within her. It were as if she were drunk. Nothing made sense anymore; She couldn’t think. “Stop!” she snarled. “You never listened! You never cared about anything but yourself!” Her voice, she realized, was different. She could not tell what it was that made it so different. That drunk feeling swept over her once more, and she fainted.
Down into the abyss she fell. Or that’s how it felt.
She fell until there was nothing left of her being.
She had simply stopped.
Original, folded several times,
cut in half with uncanny precision–
little paper people
flutter on the wind like
aimless leaves falling
up into the hungry moon
on a cloudless night.
Original, but stolen?
Lonely little ragged,
sodden, ripped, and then
torn apart without
The original origami man
falls lightly to the ground
without a sound.
No . . . A whimper.
As he’s stepped on
the story ends . . .
This is it,
The cup overflows.
Now drink it up,
To drown again.
Nothing’s going to get you.
No one’s going to save you.
This is it,
Two-faced harpy sitting in a chair
Two-faced harpy with the dead white hair
Two-faced harpy screeching: life’s not fair!
In your nice comfy chair
Where the people don’t care
Two-faced harpy sitting in her lair
Sorry, little harpy, but you’ll just have to share
Devil-Woman’s coming, so you’re in for a scare
Go tell your little cronies about your greatest nightmare
‘Cause Devil-Woman’s coming, and you’re in for a scare
You two-faced harpy, I’m gonna show and tell
Gonna show you my storm cloud wings, gonna tell you all about hell
Two-faced harpy with the dead white hair, your dirty white wings, and your little wrinkled heart, I’m curious to know how you fell
So far, landed in between insanity and dreams, living in denial, but you just can’t tell
Two-faced harpy sitting in a chair
Sharing your space with your greatest nightmare
Succulent frowns skewing a face
And bloated hysteria teasing
A spider web draped over a body like lace
A corpse swallowed by the seasons
Lice-like, they seem to him
To her, like worms
In and out they go
Weaving around outstretched hands
Until they’ve disappeared into the stranger’s mouth
A smiling mouth, enigmatic and uninviting
“Feed me, I am hungry,“ the beast said. It regarded its reflection on spoon as it awaited the answer. Perhaps he should just crawl into a hole and die–permanently. No one wanted a demon around.
As expected, the woman said No in a flat tone, followed by a: “Leave me alone.”
If only he could make her feel something . . . Then he wouldn’t feel so dead inside. It would never happen again like it used to, though; she had put her foot down–permanently. She didn’t want a demon around.