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Darker Than Dark-Fiction by Mark Joseph Kevlock
What a Mess-Fiction by Miles Ryan Fisher
Flippimg the Frozen Finger Farewell-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
A Gift of Death-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Maggot-Fiction by Max Watt
Redemption for a Lowlife-Fiction by Angelo Gentile
A Night Out at Wrath's-Fiction by Jason Butkowski
The Pact-Fiction by Edward Francisco
Joey Brick-Fiction by Henry Simpson
Violators-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Trauma-Fiction by Robert Petyo
Fire-Fiction by Tom Barlow
The Bank Robbin' Deacon-Flash Fiction by Walter Giersbach
The Matrix of Love-Flash Fiction by J. Brooke
Huddled and Crying-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
The Mere Four-Flash Fiction by Henry G. Stanton
The Big Hunt-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Family Tree-Poem by Neil Ellman
A Line from Lynynrd Skynyrd-Poem by Mark Young
The End of the End-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Bones-Poem by Christopher Hivner
The Berserker Train-Poem by Christopher Hivner
Contemplating an Unknown-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Lifeless Space Rock-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Our Armored Oxygen Suits-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Like Broken Glass-Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Walk at Night-Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Terrible Animal-Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
I Am Borges-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
I Am Hesse-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
I Am Camus-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The House of Four Senses-Poem by John Grey
At the Complaint Department-Poem by John Grey
My Mighty Pen-Poem by John Grey
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Hillary Lyon © 2019


by Doug Hawley


 Tommy first saw the trucks unloading things at the old warehouse when he was riding to high school.  “The Old Warehouse” was what everybody called the building at 1100 SE Clay that had been used as a distribution center for furniture ten years ago.  Ever since distribution had moved to Seattle, the building had stood empty.  Now not only was something moving in, but broken windows were replaced and graffiti was painted over.

At school Tommy asked his friend Joseph (never Joe or Joey) what was happening.  Joseph said “I’ve asked everybody around, but nobody seems to know.  There are a lot of tech firms moving into the neighborhood, so maybe that’s what it is.  Maybe if there are some unskilled jobs, my lazy-ass dad can get some work.”  Tommy worked the angles in his head.  He was getting low on cash, and it was getting harder to steal anything that was lying around in his neighborhood.  It seemed that crime stoppers has wised up everybody for miles around before he and his friends had taken everything easy to grab.  There could be something of value in the new ‘Old Warehouse’.

Three days later, there was no more obvious activity at what people called “The Mystery Building”.  The next night Tommy went over to the building and knocked on windows and rattled doors without finding any signs of life – no security, no employees, and no alarms.  There was a sign that seemed inappropriate -  “Trespassers Will Be Violated”.  Tommy laughed out loud and said “With no security and no alarm, how is that going to happen?”  The place was clearly easy pickings.

A very confident Tommy showed up after dark the next night with a pry bar and a sturdy bag.  He was amazed to find the door unlocked.  Inside the building had very low intensity lights which seemed just about right for his pillaging.  Before he could look for valuables, he heard a very sultry voice say “How about a kiss and a hug, you beautiful boy.”  He looked in the direction of the voice and saw a woman built along the lines of Sofia Vergara.  “Hell yes” he either said or thought, he wasn’t sure which.  Maybe there could be more than kissing and hugging – based on what he saw and heard, he was game.  When he got close, her arms extended ten feet towards him, and her tongue fell out of her mouth to the floor.  Her appearance morphed into Roseanne Barr.  As he backed away, he felt something against his back.  He turned around to see what appeared to be cobras dangling from the rafters.  Vergara-Barr said, “You’re no fun, forget you.”  After she got his attention, he turned around again and the cobras were gone.  When he looked for Vergara-Barr, she was gone.  He must have imagined them, but he was still unsettled.

After looking around awhile for things to take, he noticed lights were coming up on a twenty-foot by twenty-foot enclosure in the middle of the building.  When the enclosure was fully illuminated, he saw something chained up at the back through the enclosure’s window that looked like a monster six-legged dog with a giant head filled with teeth like knives.  The ‘dog’ seemed to see him and started to strain at his chain.  To Tommy’s horror the beast broke his leash and jumped at the window.  The window bulged and cracked, but held.  The animal didn’t immediately try to attack again, but circled the enclosure while making strangled barking sounds.  From time to time it would look at the window again as if planning another assault.

Tommy started to sweat, but he remembered he came there to see what he could lift.  Mostly speaking to himself he said “You must have something really valuable here if you’re working that hard to scare me away.  I’ve got news for you – it won’t work.”

As soon as he said that, the beast hit the window again.  The window was so close to breaking through that the ‘dog’ was sticking his nose through.  Tommy’s stomach was tied in knots, his intestines turned to water and his mouth was hanging open.  Before his brain started working again, something with bright red eyes, a green body and big fangs flew past his face screaming as it went.  After that he heard an even more horrifying sound.  It took him a minute to realize that he was screaming.

Tommy no longer cared about stealing anything, he just wanted out.  As he started towards the door, he heard a chittering sound.  Worse, he felt something like small appendages probing his ankles and calves.  He could barely make out huge spider-like animals all over the floor and on the walls.  He forgot an orderly retreat and ran out the door as fast as he could, whining and swearing all the way.  He had nightmares about monsters of various sorts for the next month.  When he was able to think about what happened, he wondered if the “Mystery House” was some sort of advanced genetic laboratory, maybe run by some general.  He didn’t know much about biology beyond his raging hormones, but he half believed what he had seen in horror and science fiction movies and what he had seen looked a lot like those movies.  In fact, the non-human monsters in “The Mist” resembled what he had seen that night.  Vergara-Barr looked like the before and after women that needed to feast on youth to become young and beautiful that he had seen in old movies on the “Creature Show” on late-night TV.  Tommy’s mother was surprised that after his encounter, he always left the room when a science fiction or horror movie came on TV.  They used to be his favorites.

*    *    *

The next day, three people in business suits reviewed the footage.

“I think we’ve got a hit,” Jim said. “We can double admission over other venues.  Of course, if they will know it’s a Halloween House of Horrors, they’ll be better prepared than the guys we see on film. Jane, how do the financials look?”

“Well, our show will be a little more expensive than most, but since we’re franchising, we get a break from mass production and amortizing capital expenditures over a wider base,” Jane said. “We’ve got patents on many of the animatronics, so we can’t be copied without their paying us royalties. What about marketing, Henry?”

“We’re golden,” Henry said. “We’ve got all the outtakes from filming over the last few days. Legal says we don’t have any problems with our ‘testers’ because they don’t want to admit to trespassing, anyway. To be safe, we’ll blur their faces. The guy last night was great. You can see that the crotch of his pants is wet. He pissed himself. Anything else we need to cover, Jim?”

“Before we finish getting ready to open on October 1st, I’ve got one thing that might amuse you,” Jim said, smiling. “Both ‘Sofia’s’ & ‘Roseanne’s voices are from an eighty-year-old woman that weighs 250.”

Doug Hawley is a former mathematician turned actuary (mathemortician) who writes, snowshoes, volunteers and hikes. He was a volunteer wheelchair jockey (pusher, role model, unpaid escort) at a hospital, greeter at the Marine Mammal Center, “normal” in a balance study at OHSU, and docent at China Camp in California, and now is a volunteer bookseller in support of his local library, and a killer of invasive species at his local park. He lives with editor and musician Sharon. He currently resides in Lake Oswego, OR and has lived in Manhattan (KS that is), Atlanta, Louisville, Denver, LA, and marvy Marin CA.

Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/                                             

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2019