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Phantom Pain-Fiction by Phillip Thompson
I'm a Fat Policeman-Fiction by William Kitcher
The Mass-Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Circle Quirk-Fiction by John J. Dillon
Every Night I Tell Him-Fiction by Bobby Mathews
Closure-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
All That Glitters-Fiction by Bruce Harris
Klepto-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Big Nasty-Fiction by J. B. Stevens
Pendelton Products, Inc.-Fiction by Michael Dority
The Apprentice Thug-Fiction by A. Kanach
The Invitation-Fiction by Michael Steven
Your Time is My Time-Fiction by Walter Giersbach
Charity Begins at Home-Fiction by David Hagerty
Stay on the Path-Flash Fiction by Daniel G. Snethen
Killer's E-Mail-Flash Fiction by Andrew Ricchiuti
The Family Business-Flash Fiction by James Blakey
Weird Reasons to Be Grateful-Flash Fiction by Dini Armstrong
The Disappearance of Snethen-Poem by Daniel Snethen
Boom FM-Poem by Mark Young
Dwindling Knight-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Landlord-Poem by Michael Keshigian
A Day-Poem by Marc Carver
Idiotka-Poem by Marc Carver
Kent Railway Station-Poem by John Doyle
Jennifer-Poem by John Doyle
The Door in the Old House in Bizarro County-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Season of the Apocalypse-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
A Boy in a Graveyard-Poem by John Grey
Poem by the ManWho was Shot by His Wife-Poem by John Grey
The House on Wellington Court-Poem by John Grey
Close Your Eyes-Christopher Hivner
Say My Name-Poem by Christopher Hivner
When the Sun Turns to Sorcery-Poem by Christopher Hivner
Fading Twilight Sky-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Landlocked in Dry Dock-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Like a Child's Drawing-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
As a Dark Shadow-Poem by Ayaz Daryl 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 Keith Coates Walker 2021

The Mass

Rick McQuiston


          Peering down into the hole, Josh could see the small featureless blob at its center. It resembled a wet marble, but displayed an organic quality, as if it were somehow alive.

Was it an egg? Was something gestating inside of it? But if so, then what had laid it?

Being worrisome by nature, Josh resisted the urge to simply bend over and pluck the thing from its resting place. Without knowing what it was he couldn't risk touching it.

"If only I would've paid attention in Biology class," he lamented.

He got down on his hands and knees and stared at the thing. Anyone else would have seen dollar signs, trying to take advantage of such an unusual discovery, but not him. He had morals, for better or worse, and just the thought of exploiting whatever life might be lurking inside the thing did not appeal to him.

"I'll call Jimbo," he announced to no one. "He'll know what to do."

          Jimmy, or Jimbo as Josh called him, was his cousin, and was good at chemistry and biology. He'd be able to figure out what it was.

          Josh slipped his cell phone from his back pocket and fumbled with the buttons. Something was messing with his equilibrium, distorting his ability to think straight, but he managed to push the first four digits of his cousin's number.

The phone fell from his hand.

"What's happening to me?"

The screensaver of his mother stared up at him from the ground. Her rotund face reflected her compassion for anyone she encountered and her still-brown hair (a marvel at her age) stuck out in a frenzied display due to the brisk wind of the day the picture was taken.

As if in a dream Josh saw the ground rush up toward his face. He knew that he was the one falling but it seemed as if it was the other way around. His senses could hardly tell the difference.

Before he knew it, he was face-down in the dirt.

Only the dirt wasn't actually touching his face. It was still several inches away from the tip of his nose.

Holding his breath Josh realized where he was, and the thought sent a shudder throughout his body. He tried not to breathe or open his eyes but couldn't resist the urge.

He opened his eyes.

The first thing he saw was darkness as a dank odor assailed his nostrils. His stomach threatened to empty so he had to keep his mouth closed as tight as he could. The fact that he wasn't able to lift his head out of the hole was not lost on him. He was however able to arch his neck back slightly, allowing just a hint of daylight into the small chasm that he was situated in.

There, roughly ten inches below his face, was the mass. It quivered like a bowl of jelly in a moving car, occasionally coming to within inches of his nose. A tendril, no thicker than an ant's leg, snaked up from the central mass and wormed its way toward Josh's cheek, and then his eyes, and then down to his mouth, delicately brushing along the flesh as it went.

Josh recoiled from its touch and kept his mouth shut. He still couldn't move so he had no other choice. All he could do was hope the thing would lose interest in him and lie back down in the hole.

The tendril paused with its probing and settled in the crook between Josh's lips. It then began to swell, doubling its girth.

Then he heard a familiar voice.

"Josh? Is that you with your head down in that hole? What are you doing in there?"

Josh wanted nothing more than to jump up and embrace his cousin, but all he could do was lie there. He didn't dare open his mouth.

"Josh? Are you all right?"

The tendril tapped Josh's nose.

Jimmy bent down and reached for his cousin.

The tendril slid over Josh's cheek, toward his ear.

Jimmy shook Josh. He tried to roll him over but couldn't move him.

The tendril flicked Josh's earlobe.

Jimmy pulled his cell phone from his pocket. "Okay, Josh, don't move. I'll call for help."

Josh suddenly stood up. He oriented himself and ran his hands over his face, exhaling deeply as he did so. A sheen of dirt and sweat coated his calm expression.

"Are you all right?" Jimmy asked again. "I thought you were hurt."

Josh smiled. The glint in his eyes spoke volumes. He said nothing though, instead gazing past his cousin as if he wasn't there. His smile grew, nearly splitting his face. He saw a whole new world to explore, to be conquered, to be devoured. He saw an opportunity unequaled in the history of his race.

Jimmy reached out for Josh but was brushed away.

"I'm fine," Josh said with no emotion. "All I ask is to be left alone." And with those words he walked away. After all, he had work to do. He didn't have time for delays.

Rick McQuiston is a fifty-three-year-old father of two who loves anything horror-related. He's had over 400 publications so far, and written five novels, thirteen anthologies, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors. He's also a guest author each year at Memphis Junior High School. Currently, he's working on a new novel.

Keith C. Walker was born in Leeds in 1939. He studied Ceramics at Leeds College of Art and the Royal College of Art. In the late 1960s to early 1970s, he was Personal Assistant to Eduardo Paolozzi. Keith taught at Hull College of Art and Leicester Polytechnic, which is now De Montfort University. In 994 he retired from Academia.

Keith says, “Digital technology has made and continues to make big changes to all of our lives: the way we communicate, the way we are monitored, the way we entertain ourselves, and much, much more. 


We now leave a digital footprint wherever we go, and with whatever we do. 

Do we already have one foot in an Orwellian world?


 My collages are an investigation, with a small “I,” on the impact of digital technology and its possibilities.”

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021