Submission Call for Guest Blog

This is a site FOR HorrorAddicts, BY HorrorAddicts.

Deadline: Ongoing

Guest Blog is your chance to share just a little bit of your work with the HorrorAddicts.net readers.

*200-1000 words flash
*Must be horror or fit in one of our **Approved Themes below.
*This is for free posting on our HorrorAddicts.net blog, exposure only, with link back to your work.
*At the end of the submission, please include your bio (100 word max), url, and attach a cover pic or author pic.
*Send all submissions to: horroraddicts@gmail.com, SUBJ: Guest Blog

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**APPROVED THEMES: Dark Fantasy, Monster, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Clockpunk, Alternative, Goth, Metal, Industrial, Avant-garde themes. Erotica only if it tastefully falls into horror / goth / fetish culture. If your submission is in the Science Fiction / Fantasy / Thriller / Suspense or any other genre, please email before submitting with a 2-3 line query. If it seems like it fits, we might make an exception.

For full submission requirements, go to: SUBMISSIONS

Free Fiction Friday: Burning from the Inside (Envy) by Alex Johnson

Burning from the Inside (Envy)

by Alex S. Johnson

Don’t stop–you’re almost there.

But the integument was sticky and hard to handle, and she was working from a medical textbook, the lines of type blurring, completely winging it, besides the over-reaching mental hammers from the blow.

Lines. She snuffled and the cocaine-flecked mucus dripped onto her tongue. A tingling, metallic sensation.

Chemical hammers smashed her brain when she needed more than anything precision, a hand that didn’t shake, eyes that didn’t flash with demons.

Just concentrate.

The “rock star” lay on the gleaming, sterile operating table, silent as Stephen in that Chris and Cosey song. But unlike Doctor John, Sondra wasn’t taking trophies simply to get off. There was much more to it than that. She was giving herself the face she deserved, had worked and sweated for. The well-padded industry audience expected a cynical indulgence, a vanity fair. Not Liquid Bambi, who reports in Billboard said was missing in action. When Bambi strutted down from the Vampire Room in glorious boudoir gear, they’d lose their shit.

Fat beads of blood on stainless steel, running into the grooves. Because her nose was acting up again.

More lines. Color within. Don’t stray from the path. You can do this thing.

Next week was the showcase at the Whiskey. Granted, she had paid–again, through the nose, as it bloody were–but that was the way the game worked these days.

If only she had the talent encased in the semi-conscious artist on the slab.

If you cut her, you will come.

Nice, Sondra, a good jest, but it won’t lift the face intact.

Screw this. She reaches and pulls. It’s a nice little moment, straight out of Les Yeux Sans Visage (which had just played at the Hollywood Forever cemetery).

Finally, the idol’s mask was free.

Dripping wet as sex, smeared with the red, red krovvy, but fully wearable once it had been cured. And a little juju, dark, rich, opiate bloodrush with the spirit of her great-grandmother howling inside, bent over backwards with the force of the loa as it pounded and pounded.

Sondra put it on. And gazed at her reflection in the metal. And sought a mirror to primp and preen before. And nearly vomited with the rush. It was everything, sex magic heliotropes blazing across the last stretch of land before the Pacific tide, salt, kelp, sacrifice. Where the sun went down melting the horizon.

She gyrated in her white lab coat and did a striptease, Doctor John’s Traveling Apocalyptic Nightmare, starring Sondra De La Guerre, late of New Orleans, West Hollywood’s finest.

Oh the stunning eroticism of her body, so lean and skinny her ribs ran like window slats beneath her breasts. She photographed so well.

She had thought and pondered and considered how to replace Bambi. It was easy in this town to find someone, or a few someones, brutal, degraded and greedy enough to kidnap the star from her Beverly Hills Hotel under some simple pretense and shuttle her out as an emergency–make way, make way–shove her into the waiting ambulance driven by an ex member of the Polish Mafia, gun the engine and burn rubber to the hole-in-the-wall porn store on La Brea where they carried Bambi’s limp body into a storeroom, tied her up and texted Sonda with the code.

Sondra could not wait for showtime.

Showtime

Backstage she ignored the ponderous critique that she might lay off the Bolivian until after the gig. Apparently glazed over with ennui, the label reps would regard her coldly, assessing her every move. If she stumbled on this one, her career, which had budded several times without flowering, was finished. Then she’d have to return in shame to her home in the Lower Ninth Ward and sell her skeleton to johns who liked their whores with a little less flesh on their bones.

Even behind the narcotics, she realized her secret plan was completely insane. Wearing the actual face of a real rock star to shock-start her own rocket to the top of the charts was madness maddened, and she would never get away with it. But. It had never been done before. Combining the cutting-edge aesthetics of an Ed Gein with Bowie body English, traces of the Runaways, a little Trent Reznor, a dash of Manson, Sondra’s performance would make headlines and focus the nation’s attention on her. Her, not that–admittedly talented–twat whose visage she’d snatched.

Industrial beat, rubber drums, the sh-sh-sh of digital cymbals. Floodlights. Flashbulbs. A strange, high buzz in her inner ear.

She grabbed the mic and tossed her long, raven-black hair, feeling spectacular now in a red vinyl jumpsuit that accentuated her curves and streamlined her gaunt torso. Right horrorshow. The Diva of her time.

The crowd was silent. Nobody said a word.

“How are you feeling tonight?”

More flashbulbs. Sonda blinked.

Something was wrong.

She felt the Bambi mask writhe and seethe against her skin. Hot filaments pierced her forehead, her cheeks, her eyes. She screamed.

She could barely hear the din of the audience. Sirens in the smoky distance. The crackle of police radios.

Bambi’s face began to devour her own. It burned like acid, like napalm. She smelled sizzling flesh and brought her hands up, screamed again with the pain as her fingers stuck to the mask and through to her skull and she pulled and it came away in flaming ribbons, tassels of fire…until the red bundles of her face muscles gleamed forth and she opened her mouth and a beautiful, sweet song poured out, but it wasn’t her own.

It would never be hers.

The limelight. The glamour. The accolades. All reserved for the real rock star, as the fingers of pain thrust down Sondra’s throat and opened her up, all the rotten green stuff within slopping out. The color of money, of jealousy, greed and envy.

Which was, in the end, her entire legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Fiction Friday: Gluttony by Jesse Orr

GLUTTONY

by Jesse Orr

It had made it through security, only by an amazing stroke of good luck. A razor blade is just the kind of thing which all TSA agents are supposed to be on the lookout. But, some stupid crackhead in the line ahead of me tried smuggling a few kilos of what looked like powdered sugar out of town. He should have tried harder. A lot of people in wherever were going to be very disappointed. Anyway, while they were busy screwing with him, I calmly walked through the metal detector, not flinching as it beeped in protest. I held my arms up and assumed the position, so to speak. The lady with the wand was distracted by the ensuing drama and probably more than a little pissed off that she was the one who had to scan people who set off the stupid alarm with their watches and necklaces. I said, “It’s the bracelet,” and pointed to my right arm where a chain link bracelet was welded on. She ran the wand over it, it beeped, and she waved me through, satisfied. Her attention was already back with the smuggler while I walked through security with a razor blade.

You may ask, why exactly did I risk bringing a razor blade on board a commercial jetliner? Mostly to see if I could. A little for the thrill. For the sheer joy of it. Who cares? Stop asking stupid questions.

I stopped at the bar for a few shots of Cognac to take the edge off the hopeless flock mentality that was beginning to set in, and made my way to the gate, sparsely populated an hour before boarding. Finding an out-of-the-way looking row of chairs, I sat down and began the new Zhane Brock novel. Better than most bestsellers out today, many of the inspirations for my work come from Mr Brock’s twisted mind.

I was jolted from a seedy bathroom in Queens by a man sitting down two seats from me, yakking on a cell phone and oblivious to all but what was right in front of him.

Surely, I reasoned, the terminal had filled up rapidly while I was reading Mr Brock’s words, and this was the best place to sit? But no. There were two people sitting in the terminal, their numbers dwarfed by the empty seats surrounding them.

My attention turned back to this man, taking in details. He fairly reeked of yuppie. His khaki shorts had been out of the packaging less than a day, the creases so sharp they could slice elephant steaks. I could smell them, the steaks, along with the new clothes smell emanating from his green polo shirt. His cell phone was the latest model, a tablet-smart phone hybrid. Probably did everything but talk for him, and as soon as they came out with a model that did, he’d be the first one in line to buy it.

Gary [it was stitched on his carryon] continued talking without a care in the world, oblivious to my scrutiny. He blathered on about golf, bars and bikini clubs, punctuating sentences with phrases reeking of irritating enthusiasm and shifting constantly in his chair, swaying the row of chairs. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. He was truly one of the most repulsive individuals I had ever laid eyes upon.

As soon as he was done talking and bouncing around, Gary brought a takeout box seemingly from nowhere. The second that box came into my eyesight, the stench of cheap curry hit me square in the nostrils, almost before my eyesight told me it was a box. My eyes beheld a green lumpy mess, which Gary proceeded to shovel into his mouth at a terrific rate, unhindered as he was by napkin or paper towel.

I knew once he finished his aromatic feast he’d be heading for the bathroom. Sure enough, once Gary the Yuppy finished licking green slime off his fingers, he crammed the box into a trash can and headed off down the terminal. I gave him a minute, stretched, and followed him. Luck stayed with me. Gary brought out a card, swiped it through a slot in the wall, and disappeared through a door saying MVP Platinum Members Only.” Hastening my footsteps, I stopped the door surreptitiously with my foot and made a show of fumbling in my jacket. Bringing out my wallet, I pulled out, swiped and replaced my imaginary card, then let myself in the door.

Again, luck was with me and nobody else was in that exclusive bathroom, save Gary and his fancy phone, which were both in a stall together. I knew luck wouldn’t keep the bathroom empty for long. Slipping off my shoe and sock, I slid the sock over my hand and grabbed the razor blade hidden inside the shoe.

Kicking Gary’s stall door in, I wasted no time. Before Gary could say a word, I lashed out with the razor blade, catching him across the throat, parting the layers of skin and tissue almost to the point of death. He would live, but would never again be able to speak above a gravelly whisper. For now, he sat partially on the toilet seat, pants around his ankles, grasping at his throat while making the first of many years worth of wheezing gasps. I put on my sock and my shoe, and dropped the razor in his lap. Maybe they would think it was a suicide attempt. I didn’t care. It was almost time to board.

 

There was a scream. Taking my boarding pass back from the attendant, I looked over my shoulder across the terminal. One of airport security was attempting to comfort a hysterical woman by the MVP Platinum Members Only door, another was coming out of it, his shoes red and his face green. I shook my head and padded down the jetway to my seat.

I was just about to open Mr Brock’s book again when I was distracted by a large someone clambering into the seat next to me. I blinked. There should be no one sitting there. I always bought two seats side by side, just so no one sat next to me. And yet, here was someone…sitting next to me. I bit my tongue. Maybe the rest of the plane was full and he was one of those lucky ones who gets an empty seat ten minutes before departure.

No…I watched and plenty of people were still getting on. There were plenty of open seats. This was getting to be routine. Meanwhile, the man to my right [I always get a window seat] was settling in, putting his laptop away, getting comfortable. He put his arms on the armrest, sat back and sighed.

My eye twitched. To avoid touching this man, I was sitting against the wall, practically on the wing of the plane, and had my elbows on the top of my hips. That’s when I noticed a lady’s pointed shoe under my window, considerably detracting from my arm space. The approximately three square feet the airline had allotted me was being invaded with extreme prejudice. The man to my left shifted, getting comfortabler, which I know is not a real word, and elbowed me in the side. The elbow stayed in my side. The shoe on my right nudged my arm.

That was enough. I opened Mr Brock’s book and began thumbing through it for inspiration, even committing my own faux pas and looking past the part  to which I had read, seeking key words. I was so absorbed in my study that we had been pushed back, taxied, took off, and were cruising at 36,000 feet, before my seatmate’s standing to go to the bathroom roused me.

The bathroom?

Well why not.

Once again, I gave him time to make his way back and inside the stall before sliding past the man in the aisle seat and heading to the lavatories. Miraculously, only one of them was occupied. This was almost too easy.

Quickly and quietly, I jimmied the bolt with the second razor blade which I had tucked into my wallet and slid in with him, locking the door and knocking him silly with a slap to the brains before he really comprehended that something out of the ordinary was happening. As he reeled back, dazed, I took his left arm and slit first his wrist, then his inner forearm, then his upper inner arm, and stuffed as much of his fist as would fit into his mouth. The blood flew from his slashed arm, spattering the walls as he fought to free both his arm and his fist. It wasn’t hard to hold his fist and arm in place until his twitching subsided and his eyes glazed over.

Once he was dead, I wadded up a bunch of toilet paper over the gashes and put the razor blade in his right hand, after taking the fist out of his mouth, and left him sitting there with his pants around his ankles holding a razor blade. The next day’s paper would record it as a man who wanted to make a statement by snuffing himself in an airplane bathroom but had second thoughts and used TP to dam the red river, unsuccessfully. But by then I was in Europe and could have cared less.

The man in the aisle seat had ordered a Bloody Mary in my absence, the smell of which was enough to make me gag, and I was entertaining the possibility that the lady with the shoe had epilepsy, but only in the foot that kept kicking me. However, the luck had shifted from me to them, because I had left my last razor blade in the bathroom.

**********

Jesse Orr was born and raised in Alaska and has no idea, nor do his parents, when or how he began reading and writing; as is the case with so many things, they just are. Moving to Seattle in 2007, he settled down to a life of recording and performing music as well as writing whatever caught his fancy. He has a dog named Mr Dog and lives in West Seattle.

https://www.facebook.com/murd3rweapon5

Free Fiction Wednesday: A Date with Monsieur Baudelaire by Alex S. Johnson

A Date with Monsieur Baudelaire
by Alex S. Johnson

“Well, this is awkward,” said Giselle Duras (in French, of course, as that was her native language). She had shown up promptly to the small artist’s cafe in Montparnasse and now anticipated trekking the Walk of Shame known to other artist’s models who had been stood up by the distinguished and infamous author of Les Fleurs Du Mal.

Mlle. Duras was just about to collect her parasol and beat a quick exit through the kitchen when a thunderous voice called from just behind her. She started, blushed and brought her lace-gloved fingers to her mouth.

“Monsieur!” she said. “You scared me!”

“Sit,” he said imperiously.

She did as he instructed.

“I hope you weren’t planning to beat a hasty escape through that squalid kitchen. At best, you would smear your dainty boots with offal; at worst…” he shuddered and a grave look settled on his oddly handsome, square-jawed face.

Charles Baudelaire sat his tall black velvet hat on a seat beside him and, like a conjurer, produced a large package from beneath his cloak.

“Your beauty merits more than the baubles a handful of francs can summon,” he said with a grandiloquent sweep of his arms.

Mlle. Duras pushed her veil aside, revealing her pale skin and dark blue eyes, her delicate features and thin nose.  She examined the box. It was covered in black crepe with an oxblood ribbon. She thought for a moment there must be some error. It looked more like a consolatory gift given a widow than a romantic gesture. But as Monsieur was well known for his eccentricities in art as well as life, she suppressed the desire to call the gendarmes strolling the dank alleyway behind the kitchen. She mustn’t let her nervous fears overwhelm her.

Mustn’t.

“You are like a fair and fragrant rose, ma cherie,” Baudelaire added. Now he was laying it on a bit thick. But he was, after all, the celebrated author of forbidden works, and she was more than a bit curious what mysteries the box held within it.

He tapped the package with a long, cadaverous finger. “You reject my present?”

“Pour moi?” she asked, her eyelashes fluttering. His lips pursed to a thin white line uncomfortably close to a scar.

“You reject my present, you reject me!” he announced to the cafe in general. Two painters who were guzzling their lunch turned around and, upon seeing the great poet in their midst, turned green and left the cafe on their knees, bowing and kissing the floor where his boots had left muddy tracks spackled with clumps of snow.

“No, no, please,” said Mlle. Duras. “I am flattered and honored you would think to bestow such kindness on a mere model, especially on a first date.” She hoped he wasn’t like the other great poets she had met under similar circumstances, who expected, nay, demanded favors she was ill-equipped to bestow. She was saving herself for a nobleman, although she thought perhaps once that grim ritual had been executed, she might keep a poet on the side for sport.

Duras had been raised in a convent until released at the age of 18 into a world she didn’t quite understand, and soon learned that her knowledge of the scriptures, prayer and fasting was inadequate to the challenge of life in Paris in the late 19th Century.

Her fingers trembling, she plucked the bow from the package and proceeded to carefully unwrap it.

“Close your eyes,” said Baudelaire once the box lay bare.

She complied, terrified now.

She heard rustling and fluttering as he pushed the wrapping paper down flat on the flowered tablecloth and popped the box open.

“Et voila!” he said. “You may look now.”


 

Shortly after her date with Monsieur Baudelaire, Giselle Duras returned to the convent a nervous wreck, her mind shattered beyond any hope of recovery. The other artist’s models didn’t miss her, were glad, in fact, that “the neurotic bitch went home to Jesus.”

To her dying day, she would never forget the cloud of flies that swarmed up from the rotting head, one eyeball still intact, shreds of flesh clinging to the bones, the sickly-sweetish odor, and, worst of all, Baudelaire’s smile, accompanied by tender words, at the revelation: “One day you will be like that, my love, my indolent, catlike goddess. Your skin will shrink on your frame, your sockets will inhale your vision, and you will exhale the vilest stink that to my nostrils glorifies the odor of the grave over any perfume. Worms will crawl along your clavicles and tree roots will impale your soft tissue. Then you will bloat like a pregnant cow…”

She had barely been carried out the cafe door when another model plumped herself down in Baudelaire’s lap and, caressing him slowly, kissed him on the neck. “I’d be delighted to get a gift like that from such a fine gentleman as yourself,” she said, her nostrils flaring like a pig. She shifted her heavy buttocks against him.

“You too will be like this,” he said, after the stormy look of disappointment had passed. “My love, my goddess, my angel of the gutters.”

“Aw, you poets and your fancy talk.”

Free Fiction Friday: Mould and Blood

 

Mould & Blood

By DJ Tyrer

 

Black & RedThe estate echoed to the sounds of anger. Locals had gathered to protest against the closure of the Sure Start Centre and, in no time at all, they’d been joined by black-hooded anarchists who’d taken the opportunity to stage a generalised riot. With an ironic twist, the shattering of the Centre’s windows would mean it would be closed a while regardless.

Malcolm turned away from the sight of a masked and hooded figure waving a black-and-red bicolour flag in the midst of the glass fragments, and headed away as quickly as possible, back to his flat.

He wondered what the country was coming to: overwhelming immigration, war, cutbacks, riots – it was worse than the ‘80s. The whole country was collapsing into anarchy! What it needed was an old-fashioned dictatorship to sort things out. He spat in disgust when he saw the large graffito that covered the wall beside the door to his block, a sinuous design in red and black: obviously the work of those anarchist yobs, marking their territory in their battle with the police. Bring back the birch, he said. Bring back hanging! Even hanging was too good for them!

Inside, the block was no better than the rest of the estate. The stairwell stank of stale urine and was scattered with rubbish. It was crumbling and vandalised. It was just typical of the system that he was stuck here, in this waking nightmare of poverty and broken dreams, whilst some foreigner was milking it and living in some mansion, pumping out dozens of kids! He kicked a half-empty can of bitter down the stairs in frustration.

Malcolm’s own single-bedroom flat was just as bad. Tiny and cramped with walls caked with mould. He’d been onto his landlord repeatedly about the blight, but nothing had been done. It was like smacking his head against a brick wall trying to get something done about it and he’d more or less given up on it, accepting the smell and constant chestiness that went with it. On the news, the Housing Association had even attempted to blame the tenants for the mould in their own homes, as if they were all to blame for leaks and condensation. That was typical!

A loud bang made him jump. Some idiot had detonated a firework in the undercroft of the building. Loud noises and bright flashes seemed to satisfy simple minds.

He’d just settled down to watch the telly – not that there was really anything worth watching despite all the extra digital channels – when there was a knock on his door. He ignored it, but the knock was repeated. Probably idiot kids. The knock was repeated for a third time.

With a sigh, Malcolm hauled himself up and out of the tired old beige sofa and made the short walk to the door.

Looking through the peephole, he could see a youth in a black hoodie. It looked like one of the yobs he’d seen earlier. He wondered what he wanted. He couldn’t see his face and that made him nervous. There seemed to be a badge, maybe a gang emblem, like the head of a court jester, on the chest of his hoodie.

Fitting the door chain, he opened the door a crack and asked what he wanted. The figure raised his head to look at him and Malcolm saw that it was Steve, a kid from down the passage. A bit of a berk, like all the kids these days, but not too bad, and, being from his floor, owed a certain measure of neighbourly respect.

“I need to come in, Malc,” Steve said.

“What?”

Steve looked kind of agitated and sounded sort of strange, like he was high on something; hardly an uncommon occurrence around here, although he’d never known Steve to go on a drug-fuelled rampage like some of his peers.

“I need to come in, Malc. I gotta come in, right now; gotta show you summit.”

“Show me what?”

With an inarticulate cry of frustration, Steve slammed into the door, the security chain ripping easily away from the damp-rotted wood of the doorframe. The door slammed into Malcolm, staggering him backwards into the flat.

Steve burst in, shouting something about laughing that made no sense to Malcolm but sounded exactly like the crazed ramblings of a druggie. Malcolm recoiled in fear; he could see a knife in Steve’s hand. He’d read about youths flipping out on drugs and going on a killing spree. Or, maybe this was a gang initiation. Maybe it was both.

Malcolm looked wildly around for a weapon with which to defend himself, but there was nothing. It was in that moment that Steve’s knife found him, plunging into his side, once, twice, then a slash across his throat. The last thing he saw before darkness engulfed his vision was a swirl of red upon black as blood sprayed across the mould-caked wall. The last words he heard were “The joke’s on you!” None of it made any sense.

Ends

 

DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines in the UK, USA and elsewhere, including State of Horror: Illinois (Charon Coin Press), Steampunk Cthulhu (Chaosium), Tales of the Dark Arts (Hazardous Press), Cosmic Horror (Dark Hall Press), and Sorcery & Sanctity: A Homage to Arthur Machen (Hieroglyphics Press), and in addition, has a novella available in paperback and on the Kindle, The Yellow House (Dunhams Manor). This story previously appeared in the collection Black & Red, available from Atlantean Publishing.

 

DJ Tyrer’s website is at http://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/

 

The Atlantean Publishing website is at http://atlanteanpublishing.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Free Fiction Friday: Dead Babies

Dead Babies

By Alex S. Johnson

 

A familiar absence, and the location of dread.

They were saying things that made no sense. The baby couldn’t be dead. Not her valiant Tommy. She’d seen the sonogram, the ultrasound, the brave little boy kicking through waves of rippled blue.

When they received the news of her pregnancy, Sarah Loveman and her husband James celebrated a miracle. The doctors had told them she couldn’t conceive, not at her age, but they’d been proven wrong.

Stillborn. What did that mean? Sarah batted at the iron rails of the hospital bed and glanced around: sterile whites, shining steel, the smells of antiseptic solution. The nurse hovered over her and put a damp cloth to her forehead.

“I’m so very sorry, Mrs. Loveman. We did everything we could. His heart just stopped beating.”

And how could she have been missing through the delivery? Sarah wanted to be fully awake and aware, to greet her newborn infant, to cradle Tommy to her breast. Anticipated the sweet smell of the clean little boy.

James came to her side. He looked worn. He passed his fingers through his thinning grey hair. “Honey…”

“Just hold me,” said Sarah. “Hold me close.”

“After this, I’m afraid…”

“I know.” The tears began to course slowly down her cheeks. “Could you get me a tissue, please? I don’t want you to see me like this.”

“You’ve experienced a trauma, Mrs. Loveman. It’s very natural to feel strong emotions after all you’ve been through,” said the nurse. Her voice was warm, but there was a calculated professionalism behind it. Sarah wondered how they kept their cool. Maybe they didn’t, maybe it was all a façade. Like the blue wallpaper, the mobiles, the baroque music she’d played for the developing fetus. She had nursed fantasies of Little League and soccer practice for him, teaching him the rudiments of math—the rest she would leave to her husband, who didn’t panic when equations became knotty and complex.

“Let’s go home, dear.”

She leaned on him, on his strength, on his patient assurances, as they made their way to the van. Behind the wheel, James was quiet, glancing over at his wife from time to time to check how she was taking it.

Rather than the freeway, he took side streets, which added about half an hour to the ride. He pulled into their driveway, cut the engine and placed the van in Park. Then he went to the passenger side and slid open the door.

“I can walk on my own, thanks darling,” said Sarah in muted tones.

***

The doctor’s orders were for bed rest with plenty of fluids and a liquid protein diet. In a few weeks, Sarah felt stronger, strangely stronger than she had after the miracle happened. She began to take walks in the park, phoned her friends and eventually summoned the will to begin work again. Her boss at the agency was sympathetic and told her she didn’t have to plunge back into the fray so soon, but she told him she wanted to, needed to consume herself in productive labor.

Then one night she heard a voice. It wasn’t audible outside, but seemed to emerge from within her belly and send sonic tendrils to her brain.

“Mommy? Why did you leave me here in this place? I’m scared.”

She shook herself awake. James stirred beside her and returned to his dreams.

Carefully, so as not to wake him, she made her way down the stairs on tiptoe and brewed a pot of Earl Grey. She sipped the hot tea slowly and watched the sugar cubes melt in the cup.

The voice began again. Sarah caught glimpses of a warehouse with a corrugated aluminum façade and high, rectangular casement windows on three sides. It was as though she were downloading a thought stream, a current directed to her drowsy brain. She recognized this place.

It lay across the railroad tracks that bisected the industrial section of Howard Heights, which predated even the old Latino neighborhood. The building was twenty minutes away.

Should she leave a note? Sure. Your wife is receiving telepathic messages from her dead son, and following up on them. Perfectly reasonable.

Then what would she write?

“Honey, I’m taking the van for a drive. I need to get my thoughts in order.”

That might work. Especially in the early days of their marriage, she’d gone off on little early morning expeditions. James had written this eccentric behavior off to her need for independence—unlike him, Sarah was introverted and had to recharge her psychic batteries on occasion, not so much isolate herself as focus her energy to meet the challenges of her life.

Moving down the hallway of their two bedroom house at the base of Mt. Jefferson, she slipped out of her nightgown and grabbed an old, comfortable grey sweatshirt from the closet, black denim jeans and ankle boots. She draped the nightgown across the back of the rattan chair in the dining room, along with the note.

And caught a glimpse of herself in the full-length mirror at the end of the hallway. A pale, auburn-haired, slightly frumpy woman in early middle age, hell-bent on some crazy plan to rescue Tommy, her son, who was dead at birth.

Maybe she was losing the plot altogether. She’d heard about women like her who began to mentally disintegrate around her age, never to fully recoup their marbles. She had visions of men in white coats with soft, soothing voices and sharp syringes.

Locking the door behind her, Sarah pressed the button on her key chain and the van let out a brief yelp. Then she was driving, down past the perennially dry river with its concrete abutments and ugly gang graffiti, past the colorful markets advertising dry goods and hot chiles and varieties of ice cream unknown to the gringo palate, across the tracks and into the heart of the industrial section where something—a phantasm, a neural hurricane, a hormonally induced nightmare—awaited her. But she had to know, one way or another.

She parked at the end of the alley across from the warehouse and looked up. Pale rays of sunlight touched the top windows. The air was cool but she knew it would be simmering in a few hours. The sky was a washed-out, milky blue haze.

“Please, hurry…”

Sarah went up the back steps to the door that for some reason she knew was unlocked, even though it refused to budge when she jiggled the doorknob. She tried it again and it burst open, nearly causing her to stumble.

The air inside the long, cramped corridor smelled like machinery and dry rot. Guiding herself by touch, she found a switch in the wall and thumbed it. A battery of fluorescent tubes shuddered to life and insects swarmed around them, ink blots with wings. She walked towards the service elevator and pushed the button, but though the UP triangle blinked, there was no movement. To the right were the stairs that led to the loft space that had formerly been a sweatshop, now abandoned, as far as she knew.

She took a deep breath, then began to climb the stairs. The whitewashed walls seemed to seep, dribbling liquid pictures that coalesced and vanished when she tried to examine them.

The voice in her head escalated to a scream.

Then, without any discernible transition from the darkness of the stairwell, Sarah suddenly found herself in a cavernous, high-ceiling room flooded with light so bright she had to squeeze her eyes shut for a moment, adjusting to the glare. When she opened her eyes, she saw steel girders supporting row upon row, stack upon stack of tiny cages, in which hung suspended forms covered in membranous sacks. At the foot of the cages ran a strip of metal with plates identifying the contents of the cages.

“Mommy!”

“I’m coming, Tommy, I’m coming!” Her heart battered against her chest. She then saw the cords and tubes emerging from the sacks, the tubes coursing with some kind of blue gel.

When she saw a ramp leading to the tiers of cages, she ascended it, boots clacking against the steel, and paused at the first level.

Her child was somewhere in here, somewhere among the cocoons.

And then she was standing in front of WXB-12, and the scream in her head disappeared into a black space.

The sack wriggled.

She tried to push a hand through the bars, but there wasn’t enough room. Applying pressure, she found that the bars were made of some soft metal she could easily bend. Inside the cage, she reached up and felt the side of the sac.

“Hold on, Tommy, Mommy’s here.”

Standing on tiptoe, she could just reach high enough to pull the sack down from the bottom. It pulsed in her hands—her son, alive.

Finally she had him in her arms. Gently, she began to peel away the membrane, which came off in her hands like pieces of caked-in soap.

The form inside was grey, with blue lips and closed eyes. A tube attached to its umbilicus appeared to be feeding it the gel.

“Tommy?”

Her son was still.

She pulled at the nozzle at his navel, and the tube came out with a wet plop. The blue gel began to squeeze out onto the floor of the cage like toothpaste.

Then Tommy opened his eyes.

He smiled, the toothless, sinister grin of the neverborn.

And the rottenness inside her miracle child poured forth.

************************************************************************************************

Alex S. Johnson is the author of two novels, Bad Sunset and Jason X IV: Death Moon, the collections Wicked Candy and Doctor Flesh: Director’s Cut,the co-author of Fucked Up Shit! with Berti Walker, as well as numerous Bizarro, horror, science fiction and experimental literary stories, including works published in Full-Metal Orgasm, Bizarro Central, Gone Lawn, Ugly Babies Volume 2, Master/slave, +Noirotica III, Cthulhu Sex, The Surreal Grotesque, Cease, Cows, and many other venues. He is the creator/editor of the Axes of Evil heavy metal horror anthology series He has also been a music journalist for such magazines as Metal Hammer, Metal Maniacs and Zero Tolerance and he is a college and university English professor. Johnson currently lives in Sacramento, California.

HorrorAddicts.net 117, Mike Robinson

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Horror Addicts Episode# 117

Horror Hostess: Emerian Rich

Intro Music by: Valentine Wolfe

mike robinson | pamela moore | penny dreadful

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97 days till halloween

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