body’s head into the light, so the bullet entry wound could be clearly seen. The
bullet had entered just above the left eyebrow. Using a ballpoint pen, Vincent gestures
at the wound and turns to young Frankie, who stands off to his left.
come closer. Get a look at this,” said Vincent, beckoning him closer. “Look how
neat the entry wound is. See the cordite burn? This tells us the gun was close
to the head when it was fired. Now give me a hand to turn him and I’ll show you
the exit wound.”
reluctantly steps forward and helps Vincent turn the body onto its side. He
winces when he sees the damage to the back
of the victim’s head.
look at the
state of that,” Vince continued excitedly. “The bullet’s blown the back of the
fucker’s head off. See the bits of bone
and brain stuck in his hair. The bullet’s trajectory was pretty much straight
in and out. One time I saw a bullet that had entered the side of the head, near
the temple, and made its exit out the lower back. Pass me the saw and we’ll
take a gander inside.”
the saw. He closed his eyes as its teeth bit into bone. The burger he had eaten
earlier did a double take. He prayed the
lecture would end soon, but he knew Vincent was just warming up.
a look inside.” Vincent took hold of the top of the skull and lifted it free, with
a wet, sucking sound. “Woah! Fuck! Here, Frankie, get a load of this. The brain
looks like Jell-O.”
burger begin its ascent. He turned and stepped out of the golden rays cast by
the Cadillac’s headlights, into the cool darkness of the cornfield. Cornstalks
scratched at his skin. He bent over and threw up, trying his best to avoid his Nikes.
Over his shoulder, Vincent was laughing like a demonic hyena.
driver door opened. From beyond the light, Frankie heard Joey shouting.
stop fucking with the kid? Just get the souvenir
to show the problem is solved, and let’s get back to Tony’s and get our money.”
the fuck down. I was just trying to educate the kid.”
straight. He could hear the saw biting into bone once more. He closed his eyes,
trying to shut out the
sound. The sawing stopped. Sweet silence.
him. “Here Frankie, get over here and give me a hand lifting the stiff.”
way back into the light. Taking a deep breath, he helped Vincent lift the body
and drop it into the shallow grave they had dug earlier.
for fucking with you. No hard feelings, eh?” Vincent held out his hand. Frankie
took it, surprised at how cold it felt.
the hand as Vincent turned and began walking back to the car, laughing.
by Jon Park
wasn’t unusual for Mark and his wife Sue to spend
Valentine’s night with their best friends Tony and Michelle. They had been friends
for well over ten years, spending most weekends in each other’s company. So, when
Mark had suggested rather than heading out to an overpriced restaurant in Newcastle, Tony
and Michelle could come round for a meal, they had readily accepted.
Tony and Michelle arrived
at seven. Mark greeted them at the door, took their coats, and guided them straight into
the dining room. He settled them down at the table which had been hastily set for four.
A solitary, burning candle was reflected in the silver cloche that covered a plate sat
in the centre of the table.
I get you some drinks?” Mark asked.
“JD and coke for
me, my good man,” Tony joked. “Let’s get this party started.”
“I’ll just have a
white wine, please,” replied Michelle. Mark disappeared into the kitchen to prepare
the drinks. He returned a few minutes later, placing the drinks down on the table. He sat down with his guests.
Sue still getting ready?” Michelle
“No, no, no, Michelle.” Michelle nervously glanced at her husband. “As
I’m sure Tony, can attest to, my wonderful, unfaithful wife, it would appear, is
always ready. Especially where old Tony is concerned.”
Tony moved uncomfortably in his chair. He glanced at
his wife. “Not following you, Mark.”
gave a grunt, “Well let me enlighten you, Tony.
I’ve seen the messages you’ve been exchanging. How could you? My best mate,
fucking my wife.”
pushed his chair back from the table. “What the
fuck are you insinuating, Mark? Listen, if the two of you have had a lovers’ tiff,
don’t try and drag me into it.”
held a mobile up so Michelle and Tony could see it.
“That’s Sue’s,” said
observant, Michelle. It’s just a pity we weren’t so observant of our cheating
pushed her hands through her hair. “Mark, please. This isn’t funny. You must
away at his wife’s mobile. He turned the screen so his guests could see it. “Then
why would Tony feel the need to send this photo to my wife? That is your bathroom, isn’t
gave a sharp gasp. The photo showed her naked husband, his erect cock in his hand. “Oh,
no. No!” Tears filled Michelle’s eyes as she felt her world beginning to collapse.
“Michelle, I can
explain,” Tony cried, reaching across the table for his wife’s hand.
“Oh, really, Tony.
You can. Come on then, let’s hear it. Let’s hear why you have been sending
messages like this to my wife, and I quote. ‘You are the best fuck ever.’ Or
this one. ‘I love eating your pussy. Your tits taste of honey.’ Quite
the connoisseur, Tony.”
covered her ears. A trail of black mascara ran down her cheeks. Tony stood up. “Come
on, Michelle. Let’s go. This is all bullshit. We can talk about this at home. You
know the pressure I’ve been under at work.”
no, please don’t go, Tony.” Mark reached across the table and took hold of
the silver cloche covering the plate. “We haven’t eaten the meal I’d
prepared. I really want to see you enjoying the taste of my wife for the last time. Here
you go, Tony. Tuck in.”
the silver cloche clear of the plate.
began to scream.
A Christmas Collection
Brian pointed the house out. It
was set back from the main road. Hidden by two giant redwood trees that grew on either
side. Colin swung the white van, affectionally known as the “meat wagon,”
onto the narrow drive and killed the engine. The house was a single-storey, wooden structure.
Shrouded in darkness of the trees that towered above it. The garden was overgrown. He could
see parts of a pick-up truck scattered amongst the undergrowth.
Brian sat slumped in the
passenger seat. He tapped away at the screen of an iPad that sat in his lap. Even the collection
of the dead had moved with the times. Gone were the clipboard and forms. All the deceased’s
data was now held in a cloud somewhere. Which amused Colin to no end, as every time he
heard this, he had the image of the recently deceased sat on this cloud, strumming away
on a harp while surrounded by filing cabinets.
“Bet they didn’t tell you who
the stiff is we’re here to collect?” said Brian, his face illuminated by the screen
of the iPad.
guessing if he lives here, he ain’t no A-list celebrity.” Colin replied.
“Adam Croft is his name. Or was,
should I say. Quite the celeb round here when I was a kid. I used to live just down the
street from here, on Beech Lane. This fella was the main suspect in some pretty heavy shit
back in the noughties. Me and my buddies watched the police haul his sorry arse out of
this very house. He came out kicking and a hollering like a stuck pig.”
“Really?” Colin said, suddenly
interested. “What kind of shit we talking?”
was only the main suspect in the disappearance of seven local women. “
“How come he’s not lying dead
in a prison cell, then?”
the passenger door and jumped from the van. Colin took another look at the house and followed
him, wanting to hear the rest of the story. Brian was already hauling the gurney
from the back of the van, lowering it onto the driveway.
on then,” Colin urged.
the cops had him in custody. But then they picked up this homeless guy down at the church
shelter. He had one of the women’s purses on him. Reckoned he had found it down some
storm drain. And with no bodies, the cops released our stiff and the homeless dude went
down for life. The cops were under pressure to solve the case, I guess.”
“Fuck. Don’t you just love a
happy ending on Christmas Eve? You haul the gurney and I’ll get the door. If we get
sorted quick enough, we can join the rest of the crew at Reds for a festive beer or two.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Colin ripped the police tape off
the door and opened it. He stood back and allowed Brian to pass with the gurney. The darkness
swallowed his partner in one gulp. Even stood here on the porch, with the door open, Colin
could smell the decaying flesh.
the light switch and lit up the hallway. Colin let the door close behind him. The hallway ran the length of the house down
into the kitchen. It was empty except for a small table set back against the wall. A black
dial telephone rested on the table. A phone book lay open next to it.
Brian manoeuvred the gurney into
the living area that opened off to the left.Colin
followed. Brian found the light switch. They both stopped and looked up at the large Christmas
tree that seemed to fill the room. It was so tall; the tree’s crown was crushed against
that’s what I call a tree, “Brian said.
“How the fuck did he manage to
get that in here?” Colin asked.
why don’t you ask him” Brian said, pointing to the frail body that lay slumped
in a battered armchair.
Croft, I presume?” said Colin, laughing at his own joke. “Let’s get him
out of here and then we can get to Red’s for that beer.”
Brian pushed the gurney to the
left of the armchair and began to unfurl the body bag. Colin brushed past the tree. A large,
red bauble began to swing on its branch. He instinctively grabbed the bauble to steady
it. The bauble was the size of a small football. It looked handmade, the kind of thing
a child would bring home from school. The weight of it surprised him.
“Stop admiring the tree, Colin,
and get your arse over here.”
released the bauble and joined Brian at the gurney. They both pulled on masks and surgical
or head?” Brain asked.
down and took hold of the body’s thin legs. Brian took hold of the torso and together
they peeled the body away from the fabric of the armchair and laid it down gently into
the body bag. Brian gave the body a final adjustment, then sealed the bag.
got seepage,” Brian said, pointing to the dark stains on the cushions of the armchair.
“I’ll grab a couple more bags off the van.”
Colin moved to the tree. Another
bauble had attracted his attention. This one was green. Similar in size to the red bauble.
Again handmade. But it was the shape of this one that attracted him. He reached into the
tree and removed it. It was heavy. He tapped it with his finger. Turned it in a couple
of times. Then dropped it to the floor.
The bauble hit the floor with a satisfying
thud and broke open. Colin reached down and lifted part of it from the floor. His stomach
dropped. He counted another six baubles of similar shape and size hanging from the tree.
from the van. He began to pack the stained cushions into a bag with “Surgical Waste”
written on its side. He then noticed Colin, staring back at him from across the room
okay, Colin? You look like you’ve seen a ghost?”
“I think I have,” he replied,
holding up the jawbone he had removed from the remnants of the green bauble. He turned
and reached into the tree again. Grasped the red bauble this time and threw it down onto
the floor, already knowing what he would find.
The Grimsby Reaper
by Jon Park
Steven Burnett was known as “Baby
Face” to his friends, on account of his youthful looks. The press called him “The
Grimsby Reaper,” on account of he killed his first two victims, students Mary Davis
and Claire Ward, in the apartment they shared in the North East coastal town of Grimsby.
Steven’s job as a
travelling salesman, selling animal feed to farms, meant he travelled extensively across
the North of England. His killing spree went on for four years, until he was eventually
caught in York one cold December morning.
had been staying at a hotel in the city and planned on heading home to Manchester for Christmas.
He had stopped at a newsagent to buy a packet
of cigarettes, when a young police officer, Patrick Keene, on foot patrol in the city,
spotted that the tax disc displayed in his car had expired.
young police officer was making a note of the car’s registration, when Steven came
out of the newsagent’s. Seeing the police checking out his car, Steven panicked and
tried to make a run for it. Unfortunately for him, Patrick was the Yorkshire force’s
reigning cross-country champion. He caught Steven without breaking a sweat.
When the car, registered to Steven, was
searched, police found a blood-stained towel in the trunk. Wrapped in the towel was a blood-stained
hammer and knife, the gruesome tools used to dispatch and mutilate his victims. Blood samples
lifted from the towel matched his last victim, Rosemary Stephenson, killed a week earlier
was eventually charged and convicted of the murder and mutilation of fourteen
women. He was sentenced to life in prison.
It was in Durham
prison, thirty-two years later, now aged sixty-two, Steven’s evil black heart exploded
in his chest. He died alone on the cold, hard floor of his cell. Guards found him the next
morning. He had been dead for several hours.
All Steven recalled
of his demise, was a sharp pain in his chest and then a blinding flash. When he opened
his eyes, he found himself stood naked in a field of golden wheat. The wheat stretched
as far as he could see, gently swaying under a painted blue sky. It was so quiet.A serenity Steven had never known.
The silence was broken by the sound of
a bell ringing. Steven could see a white painted church, floating on the sea of gold. He
began to walk towards it, brushing the wheat aside.
he approached the church, one of the twin central doors opened. A woman, tall with the
body of an Olympian, a goddess, stepped from the church. The long white dress she wore
hugged her athletic figure. Hair golden, the colour of the wheat, fell about her shoulders.
Gracefully, this goddess
descended the church steps and made her way to where he was stood. Steven tried to cover
his nakedness, feeling a stirring he hadn’t felt in a long time.
“Hello Steven,” she
“Is this heaven?”
“For some,” she
replied. Then turned and looked back at the church. “Ladies, if you please?”
watched as more women began to step from the church. Fourteen of them, if he had cared
to count. All as beautiful and radiant as the goddess. They made their way down
the steps, circling him. Steven smiled and licked his lips. He failed to notice each of
the women carried a hammer and a knife.
“Now, remember, ladies,”
shouted the goddess. “You have eternity. So, take your time and have fun.”
moved forward, arms raised. Steven began to scream.
Sibling Rivalry in a Zombie
sister Sandra and I were the personification of sibling
rivalry. Let me start by saying, I loved her. I really did. After all, as they say, blood
is thicker than water. Sandra was two years younger and from the moment she made her entrance
into this world, she became my rival.Suddenly,
she was getting all of our parent’s attention. I had always been at the centre of
their universe. I was the golden one. Adored and cherished. Now, I found myself competing
with this new interloper.
our twenties, we have never stopped competing for our parent’s attention. Sandra is my nemesis.We
competed at everything. Academia. Sport.
Even relationships. Tirelessly seeking our parent’s attention and affirmation. If
I came home from school with an “A” in a subject, you could bet your last dollar,
not long after Sandra would waltz in with an A+. If Sandra ran track in a personal best,
I would go out the next day and smash her time into oblivion. If either of us brought a
boy home and Mom and Dad didn’t immediately warm to them, then they were gone. History.
Kicked to the kerb.
Dad dealt with it all with patience and good humour. They always ensured we received equal
attention. Letting us know we were both loved. Though deep down, I always suspected they
loved Sandra more. And Sandra believed I was the golden one.
Mom died when we were in our
teens. So, Dad became the centre of our attention. It never phased him, he just dealt with
it in his own interminable way.
virus struck, I was working in finance and living in London. Sandra was studying at
Edinburgh uni. The government advised us to remain in doors and only leave home for essential
supplies. I called home to check in on Dad. Sandra answered and
explained she had moved back home to be with him. The devious bitch. That very day, I packed
a suitcase and caught one of the last trains out of Kings Cross and headed back home to
disrupt her little scheme. No way was I leaving her alone with Dad.
it was strange being back home. The three of us back under the same roof. In the past few years, we only got together
for Christmas, birthdays and Mom’s anniversary. We soon fell into a simple routine.Sandra and I would shop for food and cook, while
Dad kept a check on the unfolding disaster.
We still competed for Dad’s attention. That would never
end. Though now it was done with less malice and more humour. Our competitive nature took
the form of cooking. Sandra and I would take turns to prepare and cook the evening meal.
We always chose one of Dad’s favourite dishes.
Every evening at
six, we would gather ceremoniously around the dining room table, taking it in turns to
present our culinary delights. It was Sandra’s
turn this time. She presented her beef casserole to Dad and handed him an ice-cold beer.
it up and placed the plate down before him, as if she were making an offering to
her god. As Dad tucked into the meal, Sandra, a twinkle in her eye asked him, “How’s
the casserole, Dad?”
lovely, pet,” he replied, theatrically dabbing at the corner of his mouth with a
than my lasagne?” I asked, suppressing a giggle.
Dad looked to the
heavens. “Please, ladies. Not again. Can we just enjoy the meal?”
We fell silent for a beat. Then
Sandra started. Just like she always did.
Can I ask you something. It’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you for a
long time, but never had the courage.”
Dad turned to her, a concerned
expression on his face. “Course you can love. You can ask me anything.”
important, Dad”, Sandra continued, taking a deep breath. “Which of us is your
favourite. Me or it?”
knew this day would come, Dad,” I said. “Give it to her straight. Put her out
of her misery. We all know it’s me, your first born. I’m your favourite.”
Sandra squealed. “I’m his favourite. Tell her, Dad. End it now and we need
never speak of this again.”
to the heavens once more, seeking divine intervention. “Now, now girls. You know
We all laughed. Sandra and I in unison repeated
his mantra, “I love you both the same. Always have done and always will.”
Sure, we laughed,
and made light of it, but deep down, I knew neither of us believed him.
Then the plague played its final
card.And what an ace it was. The dead were
resurrected. Rose up like Lazarus and began to pour into the streets. We gathered round
the television and watched the news in horror as the army and police fought to control
the situation. Soon, the television screen went dark and began to broadcast an ominous
remain indoors. Do not leave the safety of your home. The authorities will get to you
as soon as we can. If any member of your family dies, you must immediately place them outside.
You must remain indoors.”
began to appear on our street. Initially it was just one or two. Dad said if we were
careful, our food should last a couple of weeks.We just needed to stay put
until help arrived. We lost power a week later. Thankfully we could still get water and
so we filled the bath up as a precaution.
Without the television, we spent
the days watching the street outside as it filled with the dead. We even recognised some
of our neighbours amongst them.
morning, we heard a commotion outside. Mrs Burnett, the old lady across the street was
stood at her door. She held a broom in her hand and we watched in horror as she stepped
out onto her porch and tried to move the dead that had gathered on her lawn as if she was
trying to brush up fallen leaves.
We all frantically waved, urging her to go back inside. The dead fell
upon her like a pack of wild dogs. We covered our ears to try and block out her screams
as they ripped her apart.
the curtains closed. But the horror remained. We could hear the dead as they clawed
and brushed against the outside of the house. The smell of rotting flesh was unbearable.
The slightest sound would animate the rotting mass.
decided we should retreat down into our basement. I
was reluctant at first. No way did I want to be trapped down there if those things broke
in. When Sandra bounced down the basement steps, I quickly followed.
And, so down there
we sat, an old camping lantern our only source of light. Above us, we could still hear
those creatures, scratching to get in. When our food ran out, we knew no one was coming
to rescue us; so, we agreed it was time to get out and find help.
At sunrise, we
crept up from the basement and looked out into the front street. A sea of dead swayed back
and forth. Submerged beneath this rotting mass of flesh was our car. No way would we be
escaping that way.Dad frantically rubbed
at his forehead. “Let’s check the back yard,” he said. We followed him
into the kitchen.
the yard, we counted twelve dead. They stood like sinister scarecrows, barely moving.
we’ll have to go out this way,” Dad said. “We just need to get past those
need a car,” Sandra replied. “There
is no way any of us can out run those things.”
“Let me take a look
from upstairs,” Dad replied. After a few
minutes he rejoined us in the kitchen.
Howie’s yard next door is clear. The Berlin wall has kept those things out. His pickup
is there as well and I have a spare set of keys for it.”
was our neighbour. When he first moved in next door,
he had torn down the battered fence between our properties and built the wall. He worked
offshore and had been away when the pandemic kicked off and we hadn’t heard from
him since. The wall was over six feet tall and ran the length of our yard down to the back
all we need to do is get over the wall and we’re on our way. So, girls if you want
to grab a few things and we’ll get this show on the road.”
Sandra and I
packed a few items of clothing in our back packs then rejoined Dad in the kitchen. He was
stood at the door that led into the yard, watching the dead.
“Okay, Sandra, you ready?When I open this door, you run for the wall like
the devils on your tail and get over into Howie’s yard.”
about them?” Sandra asked, pointing at the dead.
“Don’t you worry,
I’ll take care of them with this,” and he held up one of his golf clubs. “Rosie
will be right behind you. She’ll help you over the wall. Okay, you ready?”
“I don’t think I
can do it,” Sandra whispered.
okay, love. No problem. Rosie can go first.
You follow her okay.” Dad turned to me “Okay kid, you’re up.”
wait. I’ll do it,” Sandra cried. I could see the fear in her eyes. “I’ll
good girl. Now, get ready. When I open this door, you kick for that wall and don’t
look back. You hear me?”
nodded. She clutched the holdall to her chest. Dad’s hand hovered over the door handle.
She stepped forward. I watched as Dad brushed the hair from her face and gently
planted a kiss on her forehead. He then hugged her close. “I love you
baby girl.” Then he unlocked the door.
I reached out and touched Sandra’s
arm. “I’ll be right behind you.”.
Dad pulled the door open. Sandra leapt through it. I watched her go, legs
pumping as she made her way across the yard towards the wall. The zombies had already started
to move towards her. I took a deep breath and stepped forward, ready to follow. Dad blocked
me and pushed me back inside and closed the door.
“What the fuck, Dad,
what are you doing.” He was crying, tears streamed down his cheeks. He held the door
see Sandra had reached the wall. The dead were already closing on her. She looked back
at the house, searching for me. She turned and leapt at the wall, got a grip of
the top and began to pull herself up. I gasped as she slipped and fell, landing on her
I pleaded with
Dad to help her. He looked down at the floor and held the door firmly closed,
pushing me back. Sandra was back on her feet. The zombies almost upon her. She swung her
backpack in a wide arc, trying to keep them back. Our eyes met. Confusion and fear etched
upon her face. She pushed a zombie back, avoiding its snapping jaws. All the dead in the
yard had now converged on her and the realisation hit home.
Dad opened the door
and pushed me outside. I tried to run to Sandra, but he grabbed my arm and dragged me across
the yard to the wall. The zombies were preoccupied with my little sister.
Dad pushed me up onto the wall
then clambered up next to me.Just before
he dragged me down into the safety of Howie’s yard, I glanced back to see one of
the zombies had broken through Sandra’s defence and was dragging her down the wall
as she held its snapping jaws away from her face.
Dad shoved me into
Howie’s pickup and climbed in beside me. The pickups engine fired into life. I watched
as he wiped his arm across his face, punched the pickup into gear and we leapt forward,
crashed through the wooden gate and bounced out into the back lane.
As we drove down
the lane, we could hear Sandra’s screams. Dad looked straight
ahead, hands gripping the pickup’s steering wheel.
His cheeks were wet with tears and he kept
repeating, “I had no choice. I had no choice.”
And I smiled. He
did have a choice. It was me. I was his favourite.
Park lives in the North East of England and loves to
write. His story “Too Tough to Die,” appeared in Gabba Gabba Hey,
an anthology of fiction inspired by the music of the Ramones published by Fahrenheit Press
He loves loud music and
plays guitar badly. If you meet him, you will need to shout.