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Christmas with Stanley-Fiction by Robert Kokan
Gravedigger Sunrise-Fiction by Zach Wilhide
Billy at One O'clock-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Christine's Tune-Fiction by Andrew J. Kolarik
Paid in Full-Fiction by Bill Baber
Is Today the Day?-Fiction by Thomas X. Cross
Dead Bodies Everywhere-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Murphy's Law-Fiction by Edward Ahern
The Ghost in the Factory-Fiction by Jeremiah Minihan
Communication Breakdown-Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
So Long, and Thanks for All the Texts-Fiction by Jay Adair
Time-Share-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
It's Xmas and Maureen Feels Like Death Warmed Over-Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Uncle Andrew-Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
In a Nearby Church-Flash Fiction by Bethany Cody
What Happened after His Head Oozed-Flash Fiction by Michael Dioguardi
Prospero's Last Party-Flash Fiction by Jacqueline Doyle
Slick-Poem by David Spicer
Word Cruncher-Poem by David Spicer
The Life that Lives on Man-Poem by John Short
Pet Shop Story-Poem by John Short
dear tom-Poem by Meg Baird
the canvas-Poem by Meg Baird
A Killing-Poem by Ian C. Smith
Green Grass-Poem by Ian C. Smith
No Joke-Poem by Ian C. Smith
a soft landing-Poem by JJ Campbell
going through the motions-Poem by JJ Campbell
the shotgun still rests in the corner-Poem by JJ Campbell
an earthy affair-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
death loves the deep-space pirate-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
robotic mistress-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
A November Morning-Poem by John D. Robinson
Hard & Heavy-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Storm-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Earth Keeps Sabbath-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Obituary-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Rock Whisperings-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Longing-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Michael D. Davis 2020

What Happened After His Head Oozed


by Michael Anthony Dioguardi


I wasn’t surprised when the liquefied garbage spewed out from the president’s ears in front of all the cameras for the world to see. I was disappointed though—disappointed that I didn’t break the news earlier. My suspicions were confirmed many decades ago, but nobody paid any attention. Whoever they were—the slime, the ooze-people, trash-beings—they had successfully infiltrated the brains of the world’s elite. And it happened right under our noses, or under our sinks—if you were fancy enough to hide your trash bin.

It all started in New York, 1968. Pops stopped in his tracks on Houston Street and pressed his face against the storefront glass. “Who’s that man, Pa’?” I asked, but Pops didn’t answer. He stared at the television screen and slipped his hat from his head. The man on the TV had a big smile on his face that he loved to show whenever the crowd cheered for him.

“And it’s time we bring the power back to the people!” The man shouted to the crowd, with his finger pointed at the camera. Pops turned away and walked down the Bowery, shuffling between the growing heaps of trash bags, without saying a word.

I remember digging through the old filing cabinets at headquarters and finding the case report just one week into the job. The sanitation workers’ union rep that pontificated about peoples’ rights all those years back? Turns out his body was also found in a pool of green ooze. He too had been used for their gain.

A trash strike—how convenient! The department handled the press well; nobody even had any idea what happened to him. The strike was the perfect opportunity for them to transition to land. I imagined they had flourished for at least a century in the East River—though rumor had it—they started in the Ganges, but underwhelmed by the Indian government, they needed to shift their focus to a superpower. The Chinese did their best to cover up their premier’s similar demise, but that’s exactly when suspicions in the general public started to grow even more.

And now we all saw it. The press had gathered in the White House to watch the president address the nation, though they did not know it was already too late.

The transition to the president made perfect sense. I remember explaining it to my partners as they laughed at my conclusion: the golf courses—how else? There were countless landfills that were turned into luscious viridescent hills. I had drawn out the pattern on the board in my office.

“The river to the trash piles (land) to the dumps (golf courses) to the politicians,” the deputy snorted. “Detective, this is lunacy. I’m putting you in for a section eight.”

The deputy was found dead shortly after, with the same story—the green puddle, etc.

I lost my job. Even if the upper echelons weren’t yet mind-controlled, they still had their wits and deemed it best that I find another profession.

My investigation didn’t stop, though. I became a journalist, and as such, I was given access to the press room briefings. By then I had figured out their progression: first they infiltrated your brain, then they controlled it. All of your essential faculties proceeded as intended. Only one thing was altered, or rather brought into question: your defense of the situation—that everything was fine. They would use folks for their power to deceive the public, and then promptly dispose of them in the most revolting way possible.

The reporters swarmed the president’s oozing body and shrieked in terror. Dark liquid poured out from his cabinet members’ ears, staining the walls of the press room.

I backed away while the room turned to chaos. The mystery had been solved, but the struggle had just begun.


Don’t forget to look behind you as you read this! And make sure your trash bin is closed! You’ll smell it first, before it slides in through your ears.

It’ll smell like a—

—it’ll smell nice and pleasant. There’s no need for alarm. . . .

And it’s definitely not dripping behind you, too, as you finish this sentence

. . . . 

Art by Michael D. Davis 2020

Mike Dioguardi teaches and writes in upstate New York. They seem to like his stuff at Close to the Bone, 365 Tomorrows, Tall Tale TV, Sirens Call eZine, Red Cape Publishing, Black Hare Press, and JayHenge Publishing.

If Charles Addams, Edgar Allan Poe, and Willy Wonka sired a bastard child it would be the fat asthmatic by the name of Michael D. Davis. He has been called warped by dear friends and a freak by passing strangers. Michael started drawing cartoons when he was ten, and his skill has improved with his humor, which isn’t saying much. He is for the most part self-taught, only ever crediting the help of one great high school art teacher. His art has been shown at his local library for multiple years only during October due to its macabre nature. If you want to see more of Michael’s strange, odd, weird, cartoons you can follow him on Instagram at mad_hatters_mania.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020