CORRUPTED NETWORK by David Migman and LLOM

Corrupted Network

(o thy erudite beams
the security of rhythm
for each dissolute core)

by the ugly light of the dawn’s schism
your paralytic dithyrambs are caustic firebrands
heralding the new day, a prologue,
by means of introduction
the draw of the ovum and the truculent
stamen, yes, these corrupted networks
fizzing through our wires

I am lost in self loathing
the gibbet planes my shoulders
cracking each knuckle
serpent helix noosed round my neck
I am counting each flicker of failure

I am hundreds of years,
millions of souls, shredded
by each gestalt
leaves cast off the tree

motherless, fatherless, but un-free
plugged into a machine
part of a machine

un-fuckable, unlovable
my insanity; unquenchable
to exercise these schizoid wants
in pixelated realms,
emotion livid in the blood
impotent as a stagnant pool

4th

open up the skull, tease out
the pain, I always knew
it, this age was not
mine, these legs, these arms,
this cock, this mind
none belonged to me.

Corrupted Network’s music was composed  and performed by English musician LLOM, lyrics and performed by David Migman.

3c516e_edd29eb30e82452e9c16ce9d7ba3e792David Migman is a writer and artist whose art and writing has appeared in a number of online zines. His book The Wolf Stepped Out was published by Doghorn Publishing, but he has decided to put it out there himself, while the publisher is on hiatus.

He also maintains a busy Soundcloud page and has worked with many musicians around the globe to create atmospheric spoken word pieces. These take the form of both poems and stories.

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STRAY by Ken McGrath

Nigel cursed when he hit the pigeon. It had flown from the bushes in a manic flurry before smacking off the headlight with a wet bang.

“Crap,” he thought as he continued on out the driveway. “I’ll just deal with it when I get back.”

Nigel had a take-away ready for collection and the last thing he needed was it going cold while he worried about some stupid bird.

When he got back the pigeon was gone. He’d have forgotten about it too if it wasn’t for the slick trail of blood that led into the bushes which divided his house from the Quinn’s’ next door.

“Maybe it’s just wounded,” he said to himself, feeling a bit guilty.

He placed the bag of hot food on the ground beside him, being careful to make sure the silver containers were balance so as not to spill any, and he knelt down. Gently Nigel pushed back the leaves and leaned in. He didn’t want to spook the poor thing. And something rustled.

In slow motion he looked to his left and an eye stared back at him. Just one. It was big and yellow, unblinking with a dark centre, like a burned black penny lying in stale piss.

Nigel heard breathing and a tongue clicked menacingly, drawing his attention to teeth. Lots and lots of teeth. Sharp teeth, stained with blood and bits of feathers. Nigel screamed and stumbled backwards, pushing himself away from the… the thing, the monster. He ran.

And from the darkness a thin, green tentacle whipped out, wrapped itself around the aromatic bag and, with a whoosh, whisked it away.

Twice now the stray had been fed here. Twice was more than a kindness, twice was an invitation.

It had found a new home.

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Stray previously appeared in Wordlegs, Issue 16: Winter 2013

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Ken McGrath - Pic - 2015Originally from County Tipperary, 34 year-old Ken McGrath currently lives in Dublin, Ireland. His short fiction has appeared in various places across the web including Raft Magazine, Wordlegs and Antipodean SF. He won the Tipperary Reads ‘Premier Short Story Competition’ in 2010 and 2013. You can find him here: @fromthebigface

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NAUGHTY NELDA by Mark Antony Rossi

Nelda was an only child of divorced Satanists who used to operate the town’s occult book store. One day while messing with a volume of dark spells she stumbled on a formula to become invisible and torment the local kids at school. The entire notion enthralled her to no end.

She tore out the page, tucked it under her orange dress and hopped on her bicycle humming an ominous tune that terrified animals and birds in her path. She arrived at breakneck speed at her house and raced up the stairs to the next flight of stairs to the drop ladder that brought her to the attic.

Her father turned the attic into a quiet study room. Nelda lit three candles and pronounced the arcane Latin lyrics of a disappearing spell. Her insides began burning liked a dragon pissed draino in her mouth. Pulsing through her throbbing skull massive migraines made a demonic music devoid of melody but still rhythmic and reaching a crescendo.

She pressed her sweaty palms against the sides of her head and screamed but her vocal chords vanished like her body disappearing in the mirror on the ceiling. She was lying on cold wooden floor voiceless but invisible as she always wanted. No one ever heard or saw Nelda again but for the occasional playground encounter at the swing set. Just before dusk her shadow appears joyfully swinging in midair. You can feel a bitter breeze. Maybe she’s getting the last laugh.

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570Mark Antony Rossi’s poetry, criticism, fiction and photography have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Another Chicago Review Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Collages & Bricolages, Death Throes, Deep South Journal, Ethical Specacle, Deep South Journal, Flash Fiction, The Magill Review, Japanophile, On The Rusk,Purple Patch, Sentiment Literary Journal, The Sacrificial and Wild Quarterly. His most recent play Eye of the Needle was produced by Grin Theatre, Liverpool, England and its youtube recording is available at the link below. http://markantonyrossi.jigsy.com

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Eye of the Needle

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SLIME GREEN GROCER by Mark Antony Rossi

These red goldfish candy are too hard on my teeth. I know why: the corner green grocer is a vampire. A soul-sucking psychopath devouring spare change aggressively borrowed from rich school kids. That monster has a lot of nerve. Do you know how many books I must have thrown into speeding bus paths to get where I am today? I think: It’s all for nothing. Candy’s not even chewable.

But where else can I go? He owns the only store where penny candy’s still available. And he knows this. Looks down at me from behind a low-rent homemade counter and smiles. Unbrushed fangs dripping my earnings right into Clark Kent’s cash register. What a cheapskate! Won’t buy a real one like Rita’s Deli. At least she has some class for a fat bitchy, overpriced sandwich-making windbag.

This guy, no, he’s a crooked-eyed ghoul straight out of Marvel comics or something.
A freaking city-licensed villain forever tracking public school victims. Once I wanted to buy a notebook. No can do I. The damned thing cost as much as three pork chops with a little left for kidney beans. He knows our needs. Knows our contempt for his kind. Fanged smirk reading poor children’s thoughts. Knowing our yo-yo budgets overflow after parochial loans are disbursed. Privately, I really do like those corny striped uniforms. Hope their bloody noses ain’t taken too personally. Candy demands sacrifice, theirs usually. Its just business. Their daddy’s would certainly understand. Half do it themselves. Vampires. Them. Him. The whole godforsaken bunch of bone-breaking SOB’s.

Last weekend my friends voted to light O’ Fanged One’s store on fire. Of course, while El Thiefo was home counting up our hard-earned money. Passionately I disagreed. Profanity leaving my lips like pregnant clouds pissing rain. I’d vote first to give his son a good beating—but my homework might suffer. Fire’s far too extreme; stale substitute for stylish payback. His customers had to get the message. Had to puke their rotten guts out, after ingesting chemically treated vegetables, to understand our discontent. Our toilet bowl campaign of protest was a big success.

What’s a little vomit for the cause of justice? Vampires don’t belong in our world. There are enough monsters to go around. More than willing to trick underprivileged school kids with spoiled candy. Raise prices to torture non-English speaking newcomers. Smirking with glee every miserable moment their cruelty is left unchallenged. We stood up for what’s right in our world. Some of his cowardly customers won’t stand up for days. Suddenly aware vampires don’t belong. They don’t belong—get it! And if you don’t get it, I got some special vegetables for you to eat. You’ll be bending over more than a two-dollar hooker at a cop convention. I see, you get it. (Yeah, like I really need your approval.)

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570Mark Antony Rossi’s poetry, criticism, fiction and photography have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Another Chicago Review Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Collages & Bricolages, Death Throes, Deep South Journal, Ethical Specacle, Deep South Journal, Flash Fiction, The Magill Review, Japanophile, On The Rusk,Purple Patch, Sentiment Literary Journal, The Sacrificial and Wild Quarterly. His most recent play Eye of the Needle was produced by Grin Theatre, Liverpool, England and its youtube recording is available at the link below. http://markantonyrossi.jigsy.com

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Eye of the Needle

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SO NORMAL AND UNWRITTEN by Karen Bovenmyer

An empty house lived at the end of his street. Trees like claws stopped other kids, as if they grabbed ankles and wrists and hoods of sweatshirts. He found a way there by looking somewhere else, sidewalk-crack-sidewalk, then dead grass. Up. White oval shapes lingered behind black windows. In. A slamming back door echoed staple-guns putting up his HAVE YOU SEEN THIS CHILD posters. Three years later, after his classmates had grown into pimples and too-short jeans, he came out, hollow-eyed and grinning. He struck the trees, also, with a wet axe, his body now a man’s body, sweating hard. They took him to a hospital, depressingly white and clean and smelling like medicine, but he still saw the house by not looking. When the demolition cranes came, they were like hands that scooped shingles off the roof, the strange Victorian spires crumbled, broken plaster and creaking timbers screamed, undefined white shapes tumbled down in a cloud of dust. After, he went home with a face blank as a sheet of paper, something so normal and unwritten, and, in the night, his memories clutched at him, as if they grabbed ankles and wrists and hoods of sweatshirts.

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karen.bovenmyer_1380134227_75Karen Bovenmyer is a recent graduate from Stonecoast’s MFA in popular fiction. Her dark fantasy and scifi horror stories have appeared in Erin Underwood’s Pop Fic Review, Paul Genesse’s The Crimson Pact series, Bonnie Stufflebeam’s Art & Words Show, Red Rose Review, Devilfish Review, and Crossed Genres magazines.http://www.karenbovenmyer.com/

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Now You See Her … by Joseph J. Patchen

The foundation for horror entertainment, be it fiction or film has found inspiration in a variety of places. Be it historical events, or folktales and urban legends, or in the universe of paranormal research; horror entertainment at its root bears some level of truth or fact.

Usually the three blend and the dialect spoken from muse to artist creates wonder and terror. But there are times when the blend becomes a blur and the chicken and egg sleight of hand is best not studied; except for this curious tidbit.

The 1970s for those who are too young to remember or too drug addled to recall can be summed up as follows: everybody and everything sucked that decade with the exception of Led Zeppelin and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

New York City, where our focal point resides, was in complete free fall. The Big Apple was rotting, broke and a war zone. President Gerald Ford told it and everyone there to ‘DROP DEAD’.

Times Square was a haven for drugs, hookers and peep shows. Violent crime rose to the top of the to-do list. However, there was plenty more despair to spread around, especially the ‘spooky’ kind.

The story of the disappearance of Martha Wright or the ‘Time Tunnel’ is ingrained in internet lore, the source of which seems to be as missing as the aforementioned Ms. Wright.

The story appears verbatim, no matter what website you read. It is succinct and puzzling:

In 1975, a man named Jackson Wright was driving with his wife from New Jersey to New York City. This required them to travel through the Lincoln Tunnel. According to Wright, who was driving, once through the tunnel he pulled the car over to wipe the windshield of condensation. His wife Martha volunteered to clean off the back window so they could more readily resume their trip. When Wright turned around, his wife was gone. He neither heard nor saw anything unusual take place, and a subsequent investigation could find no evidence of foul play. Martha Wright had just disappeared.

The dream of many husbands while coming true seems to have ended here. Jackson Wright was only questioned, never arrested or charged and the matter faded into lore.

But is it true? Is there any basis in fact?

No missing persons report was ever filed with the New York City Police Department, The Port Authority Police, The New York State Police or The New Jersey State Police. The Charley Project, one of the largest missing persons databases has no record of Martha Wright. Understand their records reach back before 1975.

There is no known photograph of Martha Wright online and this oft repeated tale is lumped with other vague and some disproven tales of other disappearances.

As far as Jackson Wright is concerned there are two Jackson Wrights presently alive in the state of New Jersey whose ages would be appropriate. Neither has ever been associated with a Martha.

The line between fact and fiction is as thin as the line between love and hate and just as volatile. Urban legends abound so be mindful of what you read and what you believe.

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Joseph J. Patchen stories have appeared in print, on the web and in podcasts. He is the literary critic for www.lurid-lit.com and has own website his own josephjpatchen.weebly.com. He write horror and humor and sometimes doesn’t see the difference between the two.

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TEETH by Izabella Grace

Carl finds me in the attic, barefoot and crouched beside the crumpled, brown envelope. Moonlight streaks the uneven boards, glistening like water on the scattered, nude photographs of Mia. He steps towards them, reaching for my beautiful, missing, older sister, but I uncurl my trembling fingers. He stares at the silver thumb ring and mound of teeth nestled in my palm. Then he opens his deceiving mouth, but no words spill out, only a ragged sigh.

“You killed her,” I whisper.

“Don’t be stupid.”

He lunges, dark eyes wild pools, soft lips twisting. I snap shut my fist, tight as an oyster around a black pearl, and run, leaping down the ladder and stairs. He grabs my ponytail. I kick his shin. He slams my head against the wooden bannister. I groan and sink my teeth into his pale wrist.

He blocks the front door, so I dart into the living room, twist the key and throw open the French windows. He chases me across the cool, damp grass. He gains speed, slamming into my back and stealing my breath. He flips me, wrenching and cracking my fingers. I buck, try to bite again, but his elbow slams into my mouth. I cry out, blood and rage coppery on my tongue.

Mia’s teeth fall. Her serpent ring winks in moonshine, then bounces into shadow.

“I never touched her,” Carl hisses. “I wasn’t even here. Ask the police. I was at a dental conference, in London, the night she disappeared.”

His lies tumble onto the fragrant lawn, melting it, scorching it black, blacker than a moonless, starless night. The ground oozes and swirls into yawning vortexes, which vomit tall trees with ebony leaves that suck in all light. Carl ripples and fades into creeping fog.

I claw at the thick, gnarled trunks, but bark-covered fingers rip my skin and gouge out my eyes. Warm wetness slicks my cheeks, and terror swallows me. Then Mia calls my name, her voice drifting in snatches, echoing and fracturing into tinkling shards. I spin in circles, straining to place her, straining to catch the slightest sound. I stumble forwards, brambles scratching, nettles biting.

Following the slender trail of Mia’s whispers, I wander through perpetual night. My cotton pyjamas rot, and my flesh withers. My throat clogs with the miasma of decay, my bones grow brittle and my limbs knot like the swollen roots in the dank, fetid earth. Despair drinks from my veins. Hope dwindles to grey ashes.
Mia sings of blood and vengeance.

She weaves words into war-torn tapestries that flicker and dance before my sightless eyes. Her rage flows in the tainted waters of the brooks, seething and bubbling over flat, speckled stones. Her hatred gusts with the cruel wind. Her anguish spreads like a plague, burrowing deep within the earth, causing it to roar and shake.

I fall onto my knees, and my hands collide with something hard and oval. I explore it with my fingertips: the dented cranium, the empty eye sockets, the toothless, grinning mouth.

Mia.

I hug her skull. She sighs the cloying scent of lilies.

Fury feasts on my innards, and I spew curses. I yank out my teeth, one by one, then stick them in the cold ground, where they chatter and chew on the humus and roots. The trees hiss and creak, mutter and slap, but my teeth munch huge holes in their branches. My molars crunch on leafy twigs. My eyeteeth gnaw on rough bark and become sharp as knives.

As the gargantuan trees topple, and tiny diamonds of starlight rain onto soft earth, my bone white army marches into the house.

Carl’s screams wrinkle the velvety darkness.

I smile and dip my fingers into my warm, blood-soaked mouth. Then I draw eyes on my palms and the calloused soles of my feet.

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Read an alternate version of Teeth. 

photomagic_jpgIzabella Grace grew up in London and now lives in rural Ireland. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Online, Cease, Cows, Every Day Fiction, Youth Imagination, 365 Tomorrows, Black Denim Lit and elsewhere. You can find her in the local cafe, scribbling in a battered notebook, or on Twitter @iza8ella.

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INSTINCT by HC Hsu

He hit ‘send.’ They met. Afterward, he kissed the man and said, I was right about you. The man answered, I was right about you, too, and shot him in the head.

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HSUHC Hsu is the author of the short story collection Love Is Sweeter (Lethe, 2013). Finalist for the Wendell Mayo Award and the South Pacific Review and The Austin Chronicle short story prizes, Third Prize Winner of the Memoir essay competition, First Place Winner of A Midsummer Tale Contest, and The Best American Essays Nominee, he has written for Words Without Borders,Two Lines, PRISM International, Renditions, Far Enough East, Cha, Pif, Big Bridge, Iodine, nthposition, 100 Word Story, China Daily News, United Daily News, Liberty Times, Epoch Times, and many others. He has served as translator for the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and his essay collection Middle of the Night (Deerbrook) and translation of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo’s biography Steel Gate to Freedom (Rowman & Littlefield) are published in 2015.

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FIRST DATE by Raymond K. Rugg

The meal was going okay until I noticed the cockroach.

This dinner was my one chance to make a good impression. Tammy had finally agreed to go out with me and I had splurged on the best restaurant I could afford. Granted, it wasn’t a five-star eatery, but for God’s sake, the place was better than some greasy-spoon cafe, and I hadn’t expected to find vermin on the tabletop.

We were nearly finished with our entrées when I spotted him. Luckily for me, he had emerged from the shadows of the centerpiece on my side of the table, away from Tammy. As calmly as possible, I flipped my salad bowl upside down on the tabletop, trapping the unwelcome dinner guest beneath it.

Tammy paused in mid-sentence and raised her eyebrows. She gestured with a nod toward the bowl. “What’s that?”

I strategically dropped my napkin over it. “Nothing. I mean… what?”

Tammy reached over, moved the napkin, and tipped the bowl up to look under it. I couldn’t do anything to stop her. It was like watching the proverbial train wreck.

Tammy’s scream, that I was prepared for. “It’s a cockroach!”

Tammy’s big smile, now that, that I wasn’t prepared for. And before the bug could even scurry away, she grabbed it up and popped it in her mouth. I heard the ‘crunch’ as she chewed and swallowed, a look of delight on her face. Tell you what, that whole crazy scene, that I wasn’t prepared for.

What a sweet surprise! What a nice gesture!”

I didn’t know what to say. I mean, I was just speechless. When the waiter asked if we wanted to see the after-dinner menu, Tammy told him that I had already taken care of dessert. She flashed me a dazzling smile. I thought I could see a cockroach leg stuck in her teeth, but it might have just been my imagination.

Later, I walked her back to her apartment. I think she would have invited me in for coffee, but I said I needed to get home. “Early morning at work for me.” It was just about the only thing I had said since Tammy had her bonne bouche. But she didn’t seem to mind. Her dessert had put her in a really good mood.

On her doorstep, she lifted her face up toward mine for a goodnight kiss. Real or not, I couldn’t get rid of the image of that hairy little leg stuck in her teeth. I managed a quick peck and said goodbye.

But today, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I mean, I know there’s the eating a bug thing and all, but she is awfully pretty. And after that dinner, she seems to really like me. Anyway, I called her up. And we’ve got another date. At the same restaurant. So. Um. Do you know of anyplace that might sell cockroaches? Because, let’s face it, I can’t count on being that lucky twice in row, right?

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rkr MASH mugRaymond K. Rugg lives in Reno, Nevada, where he sells insurance by day and writes speculative fiction by night. Recent publishing credits include stories in the Reunions anthology and the Stories from the World of Tomorrow anthology. Rugg is also the author of a non-fiction book, Rugg’s Handbook of Sales and Science Fiction. Check in with him at his website, RaymondKRugg.weebly.com.

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RESTLESS STEED by Kyle Newton

Kind stranger, come this way, enter my home, for you must take heed. Continue this road tonight, and I fear you shall cross, the Restless Steed. Allow me to hang-up your coat—your hat as well, and a century’s old story is what I’ll tell. Please, come warm yourself by my fire, for this tale lingers in a blood-stained mire. I know you must wonder why I warn you of a lone stallion, I shall begin in a time of a blue and red rebellion. No, it holds no connections to a man with a pumpkin-head, or a young woman-thought witch-then left for dead. We begin with thoughts of a new nation forming with words such as freedom and liberty; but an ocean away, a king devises plans of killing it in infancy.

This king sends a general, one whose name time has long forgot. Yet his steed still gallops through these streets, displaying where it was shot. Like a banner on its left side, glimmering crimson stains this clyde. They say its rider was satisfied-nay-took pleasure when charging over those wearing blue and brown. It’s believed he counted his trampled victims—thirteen-before being killed in this very town.

From the look on your face, I see you think this as nothing more than myth, simply words of a liar. I do not blame you, many passers-by say it is a stray horse that escaped from its briar. But nine have been found, ribs broken and spines snapped, with evidence pointing to a horse. I’d hate to see a passing stranger have little warning and yet continue their course.

No, I understand, do not let me keep you a moment more. Yes, your hat and coat wait for you at the door. Please promise me you will at least remember my warning. And if you hear the gallop of a steed, don’t stop running. For should you make it past the coveted bridge that marks the end of our little town, you should be on a safe trail. But, then again, none have gotten past our haunted landmark to return and spin their own version of this very tale.

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b6c42b_888fa8ede93444f0933caae8b47cc2d1.png_srz_p_263_272_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srzGrowing up in New England, Kyle Newton has found a taste for writing about the fantastical, often merging it with key moments in history. However, recently he has gained a growing taste for horror and the macabre. His personal site is located here.

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