Almost Home, by Brandy Stark

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My eyes snap open as the sounds on the windshield shift from the tapping of watery fingertips to the pounding of drowned fists.   I am alone in the car, but I still feel self-conscious at this grievous driver error. My thoughts have overwhelmed me and it takes a moment to focus again. I realize that the car has passed the outer cloudbank and is now captured in a curtain of gray falling from the sky in torrential strands.

I frown a bit; the Miata does not like heavy weather like this.  She never has. I have driven this car most of my adult life and, on the unlucky days that we are trapped in an afternoon monsoon, I find myself a jagged set of nerves driving her through Mother Nature’s weather tantrums. Trying to engage my empathy to her drenched plight, the Miata allows a droplet of water to slip through a pinhole tear in her vinyl top. It lands neatly on my glasses. I redouble my focus and put two hands on the wheel, hunching slightly forward toward the dash. I can feel the car pushing against the cascade of water that is flowing against us.

My thoughts ignore my will and wander again. There is much to do, so much and I am running behind. I hate being late, and I have to get home. I’m almost there. Is there enough time to get it all done?   My foot takes the opportunity to press slightly harder on the accelerator. The engine surges a bit as I start to take the turn at the light. Storefronts slide past me and fall into the hazy realm of peripheral vision; my eyes see only the entranceway to turn onto my street.   There is so much to do…

I tap the brakes to slow down, but something is wrong. In a split second I realize that I am no longer driving – the Miata has transformed from car to ship. I pull the wheel and feel her slide further still; my efforts have merely urged her on to an even wilder path. She knows I have lost control and my Miata is both excited and fearful; she lunges ahead, full of herself. I feel the wheels lift a bit as she madly dashes forward toward her newly won freedom. I am held into place by an invisible set of hands that first push me back into my seat, and then hauls me forward over the wheel. This is my second grievous driver error: I have not worn my seatbelt. It always seemed so inhibitive in the confined space of this car.

My eyes see things: stars, stretches of beautiful red, the white paint on crumpled metal, glorious colors….It is breathtaking; I have to close my eyes to keep from being overwhelmed by its excruciating beauty…

And then…

My eyes snap open as the sounds on the windshield shift from the tapping of watery fingertips to the pounding of drowned fists.   I am alone in the car, but I still feel self-conscious at this grievous driver error. This feels so familiar, and yet so strange. I look up and realize that the car has passed the outer cloudbank. We are now captured in a curtain of gray falling from the sky in torrential strands.

I frown a bit; the Miata does not like heavy weather like this.   She never has. I have driven this car most of my adult life and, on the unlucky days that we are trapped in an afternoon monsoon, I find myself a jagged set of nerves driving her through Mother Nature’s weather tantrums. Trying to engage my empathy to her drenched plight, the Miata allows a droplet of water to slip through a pinhole tear in her vinyl top. It lands neatly on my glasses. I redouble my focus and put two hands on the wheel, hunching slightly forward toward the dash. I can feel the car pushing against the cascade of water that is flowing against us.

My thoughts ignore my will and wander again. There is much to do, so much and I am running behind. I hate being late, and I have to get home. I’m almost there. Is there enough time to get it all done?   My foot takes the opportunity to press slightly harder on the accelerator. The engine surges a bit as I start to take the turn at the light. Storefronts slide past me and fall into the hazy realm of peripheral vision; my eyes see only the entranceway to turn onto my street.   There is so much to do…

I tap the brakes to slow down, but something is wrong. In a split second I realize that I am no longer driving – the Miata has transformed from car to ship. I pull the wheel and feel her slide further still; my efforts have merely urged her on to an even wilder path. She knows I have lost control and my Miata is both excited and fearful; she lunges ahead, full of herself. I feel the wheels lift a bit as she madly dashes forward toward her newly won freedom. I am held into place by an invisible set of hands that first push me back into my seat, and then hauls me forward over the wheel. This is my second grievous driver error: I have not worn my seatbelt. It always seemed so inhibitive in the confined space of this car.

My eyes see things: stars, stretches of beautiful red, the white paint on crumpled metal, glorious colors….It is breathtaking; I have to close my eyes to keep from being overwhelmed by its excruciating beauty…

And then…

My eyes snap open…I am alone in the car. The sounds on the windshield shift from the tapping of watery fingertips to the pounding of drowned fists, a noise that is etched into my memory. Yet, there is so much to do and so little time to do it….


brandy startBrandy Stark is an artist, educator and writer from the Tampa Bay area.  Before becoming full time faculty in the Humanities, she served as an arts correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times from 1998 to 2002.  She also wrote for other local publications, including Bayside News, Sterling Powell’s City Life, and several art based websites. Her award-winning creative writing has been published locally.  Recently, she self – published two booklets on the history and haunts of the Suntan Art Center (Spectral Musings) and Patty and Friends Antique Village (Ghostly Encounters:  Patty and Friends Antique Village).  Both may be purchased at Amazon.com in print or for Kindle.

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The Noose, by Lynn Mullican

teddy-bear-440498_640

(Based on actual events)

Joe stood before the historical house, dressed in his work clothes, and tools in hand.

He stood on the patio, studying the house, when his co-worker, Steve walked up behind him.

“The work’s not going to get done with you staring at the place.”

“Yeah, I know,” Joe said. “I was just admiring the architecture. They don’t build houses like they used to.”

Steve peered up at it. The early morning sun glared down at him. He squinted, studying it.

“No, they don’t.”

Steve reached for the door when it swung open.

The men looked at one another. Then, they poked their heads in. The house was vacant.

Steve yelled. “Hello!”

No answer.

“Oh, screw this,” Joe said, turning around, ready to go home.

“What are you doing?”

Joe peered back at him, eyes wide. “Tell me how the hell that door opened.”

Steve looked at the door. It lay open, as if waiting for them to enter.

“I don’t know,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Maybe the house isn’t level. Maybe the door wasn’t shut all of the way. So, it swung open when I went to open it. Regardless we have a job to do. Now, let’s get it done.”

Steve walked inside. Behind him, Joe huffed before following him.

“You know, ghosts do exist,” Steve said with a grin.

Joe eyed him. “That’s not funny.”

He shut the door and then turned, stopping in the foyer, which overlooked the living room. Steve stood beside him.

“Sometimes they follow people, too.”

Joe stepped into the living room. “I’m going to ignore you, now.”

“I’m thinking about doing some ghost hunting. Would you like to join me?”

Joe stared at him. “Are you kidding me?”

“I take it, that’s a no.” Steve chuckled. “Sorry, man, I couldn’t help it. You should have seen the look on your face when the door opened by itself.”

Joe shook his head, set his tools down, and walked the floor. “You can have fun chasing ghosts around, but this fool isn’t interested. But, enough about that, it looks like we have some serious water damage here.”

As he took another step, the floor gave way, exposing the underlying beam.

“Son of a…!” Pain set into his ankle, as he grabbed it.

“Hey, you alright?” Steve asked.

Joe laughed, and then groaned.

Steve shook his head. “What the hell you laughing for?”

“That’s how I deal with pain. I laugh at it.” Joe sat up. “Well, looks like we found…” A glare from inside the hole caught his attention. He leaned in, his eyes narrowing in on the bottle and a…teddy bear?

Steve stood over him. “Do you need to go to the hospital? Or are you going to be okay to work?”

“I’ll be alright,” Joe muttered.

He reached into the hole and grabbed the items, but when he tried to pull them out, they snagged on something.

Steve glanced down. “What are you doing?”

“I found something in here, but I can’t get them out.”

Joe laid down on the floor to get a better look at the situation. His eyes fell on the child’s belt that was looped like a noose and screwed to the underside of the beam. His jaw dropped.

“What the…?”

He pulled on it but it remained intact. He examined the intricate western design on both the belt and the bottle. Chills ran down his spine.

“Son of a…”

He yanked his hand out of the hole.

Steve’s eyes narrowed in on the bottle and the teddy bear. “I don’t like the look of that.”

Joe studied the bottle. “I bet this is opium. This is what they used back in the eighteen hundreds…”

Steve interrupted, “For medicine and drug use.”

“You should take a look at the noose down there.”

Steve’s eyes widened. “Noose?” He poked his head inside.

“Oh, my God!” The hair on the back of his neck stood. He bolted upright. “Uh, yeah, it looks like a noose, for a child.”

Their eyes met.

“That’s what I thought, too.”

“Why don’t you let me have that bottle, and I’ll have the liquid examined. I know somebody who might be able to tell us what it is.”

Joe gave it to him. “I want to know what it is the minute you find out.”

“Oh, I’ll let you know. I’m going to put this in my truck, though.”

“Alright, well, let’s get this floor done and get the hell out of here.”

As Steve walked out and shut the door behind him, Joe set the bear aside and began to rip up the floor, throwing the debris into a pile. The scent of death filled the room. He wrinkled his nose and then pinched it shut.

Then, the front door swung open. As he glanced up, a child’s laughter filled the room, yet no one was there. Nausea filled his stomach. Joe sat motionless, staring at the doorway. Then, the pitter patter of a child’s feet ran across the floor toward him.

Joe scrambled to get away and backed into a wall. His heart raced as he turned to run down the hallway. His ankle gave way, throwing him forward into a bedroom.

Screaming, he panicked and turned. Steve appeared in the doorway. Startled, Joe punched him.

Steve grabbed his nose.

“Where is it?” Joe glanced behind Steve, his heart pounding.

“What?” He glanced around. “There’s nobody here, just me. What’s going on?”

Joe stared at him. “Did you see it?”

“See what! It’s just us, Joe!”

Joe pushed past Steve, and glanced out into the vacant living room.

The teddy bear moved. Then, a child’s voice asked, “Do you wanna play a game?”

Screaming, Joe bolted out of the house.

 

As Joe drove home and his anxiety had settled some, the radio turned on. Frowning, he glanced at it. He hadn’t touched it. Beside him, a child giggled, yet, nobody was there, only the teddy bear he swore he left at the house.


lynn mullican

LYNN MULLICAN was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where she currently resides with her husband, three children, and five grandkids. She has woven her fascination with the paranormal into written works including short stories, dramatic plays, poetry, and full-length novels. In Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon, she incorporates years of knowledge in self-defense and martial arts.

As of 2017, Lynn has three published short stories, Raven’s Hill, Sacrificial Blood, and The Awakening. She also has three published novels; Bad Elements series, Crystal Dragon, Blood for Blood, and The Hybrid Unleashed.

Author Links –

https://www.facebook.com/Author.LynnMullican/
http://twitter.com/#!/lynnmullican
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4842137.Lynn_Mullican
http://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Mullican
http://lynnmullican.blogspot.com/
https://www.wattpad.com/user/LynnMullican

 

Issue #20: The Mythos Planet

alien-679543_1920Lovecraft inspired.

Newly imagined and terrifying vistas populated with horrific monstrosities. No one is safe anywhere. We can go to the Old Ones or the New Ones. Or they come to us. Invading our atmosphere, and our work space. Prehistory Old Ones whose smaller kin still flit among us. Shoggoth and Cthulhu born, and reborn… The terrifying sound of an ear-piercing chant in deepest space, destroying even the silence of the vacuum: 

“Ia, Ia, Dagon…”


Issue #20: The Mythos Planet

Pseudopod, by Karen Bovenmyer****

The Mythos Planet, by Kevin Morley****

Hollow Deep, by Edward Taylor***

The Cubicle from Beyond Space and Time, by D.A. Madigan***

Litterbugs, by BanWynn Oakshadow

The Visit, by Brandy Stark

Meganuera monyi, by Richard Stevenson

Mirrors, by Mathias Jansson


Asterisks represent the editor’s favorite pieces. 

All images are royalty free via Pixabay, unless otherwise noted. 

Pseudopod, by Karen Bovemyer

First published in Abyss & Apex magazine, in June 2015. 

After Lovecraft’s Dunwich Horror

 

The skin was thickly covered with coarse black fur,

and from the abdomen a score of long

greenish-grey tentacles with red 

sucking mouths protruded limply

 

And from the abdomen a score of long

cries reverberated in the air, shivering with

sucking mouths protruding limply

kissing empty air with flinching passion

 

Cries reverberated in the air, shivering with

love, yearning for touch

kissing empty air with passion flinching

Reaching like me, unanswered

 

Love, yearning for touch

My hand lifted

Reaching, unanswered, like me

until we touched, stroking gently

 

My hand lifted

Tentacle coiling, uncoiling

and we answered, stroking gently

each skin thickly covered with coarse black fur

octopus-1394888_1280


Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as the Nonfiction Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writers Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her poems, short stories and novellas appear in more than 40 publications and her first novel, SWIFT FOR THE SUN, an LGBT romantic adventure in 1820s Caribbean, will be available from Dreamspinner Press on March 27, 2017. http://karenbovenmyer. com/

The Mythos Planet, by Kevin Morley

Shoggoth_by_Nottsuo

Image by Nottsuo – nottsuo.deviantart and at Wikipedia (Shoggoth)

We fought the Xanee for more than a generation. It seems our peoples don’t mix well, though we do each die with some degree of regularity. At the boundary, where our two cultures collide, where our war rages most intensely, our conflict birthed a ripple.

Not a normal ripple, like from a rock thrown into a pool. This ripple grows from the drama of divergent culture clash. Underneath time and space, it festers, tearing holes in the fabric of our lives. Our dreams, the Xanee and ours, cross the barrier of this nether world and now we fight our wars privately in the quietness of our bedrooms and dream pods while we sleep. We fight, not with each other, but with Them.

I first came across the aching darkness and foulness of the Old Ones in this dream setting after a panic-filled first space battle. I did not know terror like that and I barely made it back from that first fight, dropping in and out of consciousness. Whispers around half-empty mugs hinted at dire things hidden in the corners and darkened places of our minds. Things long forgotten. Things long dismissed to the realm of the mad and possessed.

People said that the Old Ones had fled Earth, chased by humans and abandoned by their Elders, that we banished them from our shores in an age long past. We did not know, we could not know, that in so doing we cast them upon our future enemy, the Xanee. Our fears and our sorrows traveled with the forlorn Old Ones when we rid ourselves of their vitriol.

The Xanee subjugated the Old Ones, chaining them and making them into smallish things. Such is the nature of the Xanee. To rule. To enslave. They forced the Old Ones into servitude like the Elders before had done. The Xanee didn’t understand the power of the Old Ones. The Xanee didn’t understand the will to survive, dominate, and desecrate that drove the Old Ones.

And so, foulness curdled in the hearts of the Old Ones, souring them to their current imprisonment of body and mind. They reached into the depths of the Abyss and created something more.

Something greater and abler.

Something to collide with the Xanee.

And then the Old Ones set this Shoggoth of the New Line free along the rift.

Along our rift and loose in our dreams. It seems they found a way to strike back.

The New One grew strong in its fetid way. It conquered not peoples or lands, but planets and vast swaths of space. It stretched forth its hands, tentacles, and maws taking from its parents the means and will to subjugate other life.

It flourished.

I found it there, too, as my starship faltered in my next battle with the Xanee. As I fled the conflict to make repairs and so rejoin my brethren, it called to me. On the edge of a ripple of darkness and malice, of worlds clashing in ways unseen, I saw it. I must have passed out from the strain of the fight and as the loss of oxygen, perhaps, infringed upon my conscious state. My dream-self awoke in the very lair of the new Shoggoth and sought a place to land.

The world I found, the world shown to me in that nether-like dreamscape, appeared night-shrouded and cold in the deep black. It beckoned me.

I should have remembered the tale of the Shoggoths. I should have noticed that the night didn’t fold over the land in a natural way, but rather writhed in oily thick blackness, that the world had no light side, only dark.

Alas, I did not.

As I descended through that thickened ooze, my starship suffered first. The oily blackness tore at it, peeling it like a tuber for the pot. I saw lightning flashing, quick as thought, and eyes, thousands and thousands of eyes, all around my canopy as the glass and ceramics surrendered next to the malevolent love of the New One’s caress.

The whole of the planet stormed at me and my silver-like dagger. My single, far-flung dagger. Too small, I hoped, to bare awareness of me in the minds of the Old One’s spawn. Too soft to cause pain in something so vast. The New One on the surface stood larger than any mountain and greater than any villain of old.

I think I screamed when the oozing, slick mass breached the canopy and touched my skin.

Yes, yes I did scream.

And when I did, the new-birthed Shoggoth took it from me to wear as a bauble in a chain of other baubles around its many necks.

Now I lie in the convalescent’s ward, unable to speak, unable to move, and with sightless eyes staring at a world that has moved on without me. Around me are the others, the others that have encountered the New One of the rift. Loved ones visit us, but we, the Army of the Damned, have nothing to say.


I am a 20 year veteran Algebra teacher trying to reconnect with his inner writer. I post with fair regularity in the short story and poem links over at Writers Digest under the pen name Bushkill. When I’m not penning prose of some type I try to enjoy a plethora of other interests, though a penchant for beer and food does seem to get the better of me most of the time.

Hollow Deep, by Edward Taylor

<<Beginning of starlog – James Orne, Mate Second Class, Investigator, ILWC>>

Seventy One Terran Standard days ago I left New St. John’s in the United Canadian Emirates aboard the Intergalactic Life and Welfare Commission ship, the Star Adventurer, to verify reports of ore harvesting in the Davros Strait and Baffin Quad as reported by a resident of Kangerlussuag. The mineral and ore rich asteroid fields of the straight are the only known home of the Khuthusian Pods; a rare species affectionately called “Star Whales” We had a good crew of people that had worked on more than a few Interstellar Geographic expeditions into the Inner and Outer regions of the known universe but this was my first assignment from the ILWC since I joined back in 2206. More than twenty years prior to my accepting the job, the ILWC had issued a moratorium on commercial mining in all of space near where the creatures lived. So far only a few stellar nations still have “whaling rights” on the books but a majority of them stay out of this area because of the heavy presence of commercial shipping lines, conservation activists, and people like me in the ILWC commission teams. I had only recently left the Blessed Caliph’s Navy before joining the ILWC, first as an observer, and now as an official investigator of crimes against the commission’s charter. 8 years of serving in the UCE’s MARLANT division as a Search and Rescue (CEFCOM) had prepared me for many things, so I expected to be terribly bored on this trip and in the end I wish I was right. I will keep this starlog to help with my reports of the mission.

<Update 1.01 of starlog – James Orne, Mate Second Class, Investigator, ILWC>

Five Terran Standard days ago we came across a commercial shipping vessel: the Sperry Krypton out of Innsmouth Star Docks, coming in from the opposite direction and the first we had seen since leaving home. She is a huge frigate and makes the clipper we are traveling in look like a spec on the view screens compared to her massive girth. The Captain of the Star Adventurer: an old space dog named Jace Marsh, had sent hail and greetings to the ship on all frequencies but there was no response and she appeared to be foundering. We called in the issue through the Interstellar Distress Channel to see if there was a reported issue that we can assist with but there was nothing on file with USAC and they were going to dispatch a few rescue cutters as we have no way of taking on survivors long-term. In giving the ship a quick once over, it appears she may have hit an obstruction or even another ship as there are some deep single and double hull gashes but again there have been no reports on the United Systems Aerospace Commission side and we see no signs of life on the scanners, so we moved along leaving a marker buoy behind. We were on the verge of the Davros strait and did not wish to waste any more time chasing ghosts.

<Update 2.01 of starlog – James Orne, Mate Second Class, Investigator, ILWC>

Four Terran Standard days ago we came across something we normally do not see at this end of the Davis Strait: a pod of Khuthusian’s moving through the area with great haste. Normally the great tusked creatures are further into the inner sphere and it is not totally out of their feeding lanes but it is odd to see so many of them at once. We take lots of readings, check transponder frequencies on the sub dermal implants conservationists to see if there are any issues and make logs of everything, which is the most excitement we have seen on this trip yet. I am happy to see them frolicking and interacting with the crew of the Star Adventurer as the majestic creatures are known for their aloof (for “intelligent” life) attitudes and avoidance of stellar travelers. Not saying I blame them as I would do the same if I was hunted into near extinction for reasons of greed and conquest. Even to the settlers of this region this area, who consider the horned behemoths to be a sacred part of both their mythology and cultural heritage, rarely see them, so this is indeed a treat for myself and the crew.

<Update 3.01 of starlog – James Orne, Mate Second Class, Investigator, ILWC>

Three Terran Standard days ago I was awoken by what sounded like a woman crying outside of my room but I know that to be impossible as there are no women aboard the Star Adventurer and the only thing that is outside is the cold depths of deep space. I settle back into my bunk and decide that it was just my imagination or perhaps a fragment of a waking dream. I decide not to say anything of it to the crew, who already had been complaining of nightmares and hallucinations and do not wish to cause any more panic. Captain Marsh attributes this to the constant darkness of the void affecting the men’s sleep patterns but I have been stationed at the Tannhauser Gates before without issue of this kind and will keep an eye on everyone for signs of stress related psychosis.

<Update 4.01 of starlog – James Orne, Mate Second Class, Investigator, ILWC>

Two Terran Standard days ago I witnessed a fight break out among 4 or 5 members of the crew over the sight we had beheld this morning. Many of the men were concerned about the large number of Khuthusian and Zadok (the “smaller” creatures that follow in their wake) carcasses we found floating in the periphery of the strait and wanted to turn back from our task. The first mate Mr. Olga did his best to break up the fight and many of the men were forced into solitary berths to keep them apart and to keep the morale from degrading further. I have taken several scans of the floating corpses, which we first thought were just the creatures logging as they like to do in this area, but the damage to their grey forms and the large chunks of floating “blubber” say otherwise. It troubled me so to see these sights which I would have attributed to rogue miners if not for the carnage, and the condition of the bodies leaves many other questions in my mind. I have seen P’their’an Stalkers take out a young Khuthusian before but this many in one area is not natural. The Captain and I discussed turning back now that we have seen proof of the killings reported but he believes that we are close to finding out what happened and the culprits could be close at hand, so we pressed on.

<Update 5.01 of starlog – James Orne, Mate Second Class, Investigator, ILWC>

Last evening we were all drawn to the decks by a sound of terrible chanting and screaming that seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere all at once. Mr. DeCamp, the communications officer, reported that there were no transmissions incoming and no matter what type of protections we tried to apply to block the sounds, they pushed through without much pause. The Captain reported seeing that three of his crew spaced themselves, blood streaming from their eyes and ears from the maddening sounds, hoping to drown them out in the frigid vacuum of space. After many moments of sonic assault, the sounds of the chanting (it sounded something along the lines of “Ia Ia Dagon” or some nonsensical language) died off as quick as they came and we were left adrift in the middle of the Baffin Quad commonly called “The Hollow Deep”. We had reached our destination as per the reports and seeing that we had compelling evidence of whaling (but with a devious twist), we decided to hold drift here and wait for the USAC to come and give us support and rescue. I am having trouble sleeping (as is most of the crew save the Captain, who can apparently sleep through anything or so he claims) and have taken a few tabs of Rozerem and washed it down with Capt. Marsh’s gift of Scotch to try and get some rest.

<Update 5.02 of starlog – James Orne, Mate Second Class, Investigator, ILWC>

Today I have seen things that I cannot even hope to neither explain nor allow people to try to comprehend. Despite my poorly thought out and ill advised decisions to self medicate and get some restful slumber, I was jarred awake, having been thrown from my bunk and onto the floor of my berth below decks. The ship appears to have hit some obstruction and was tossed about a bit before coming to a rest slightly askew to the port side of our normal rotation. I quickly came to my senses, dressed and headed carefully up to the main deck to see what was happening. When I arrived on the deck, I saw that it was awash with blood and viscera. No sign of the crew could be found, and after an extensive search I was able to locate the Captain in his room behind locked and barred door. He refused to come out of his isolation and kept shouting and raving to me through the bulkhead about fish men and dagons (I believe he meant fishermen & dragons) but again he also seems quite mad at this point and I have no way of getting into help him or find out more of what has happened. The ship itself is foundering and may go down soon due to extensive hull damage to the port fo’c’sle and I have signaled to the USAC on all known distress channels and am expecting one of the cutters to come and gather me shortly. I hope that it comes to pass soon as there is a dark shadow showing on the view screens and something is coming our way, so being away from this tomb that Captain Marsh has resigned himself to is desired. My only guess and what will be my report to the ILWC and the UCE investigators is that the captain had lost his mind and killed or incapacitated the crew in some fashion and he will have to stand trial for such crimes. I am hoping that with my testimony and the images I was able to capture, not only of the bodies of the creatures we came to observe and protect but of the scenes of massacre aboard the Star Adventurer will help for closure to be found.

<<End of starlog – James Orne, Mate Second Class, Investigator, ILWC>>

 

<<Begin Rescue / Salvage Report – Cmdr. Eliza Williamson, USAC Cutter “Cascade”>>

We set into the greater Baffin Range to respond to a distress call received from the ILWC Clipper Star Adventurer, but found no signs of life aboard the ship. Transmissions in and out of this area are sparse and we are picking up an odd sign on the scanners that appears to be a great mass moving from the Davros Strait on a course with our trajectory. Hopefully they can give us some information as to what happened here.

<<End Report>>


Hailing from the small college town of Newark, Delaware, Edward Taylor splits his time between writing and raising his two shoggoths with his thankfully understanding and patient wife Kelley. At times he can be seen in the back of a roller rink announcing for some of the hardest folks on the hardwood with Diamond State Roller Derby. Follow him on FB – https://www.facebook.com/EATaylorAuthor/

​​

The Cubicle from Beyond Space and Time, by D.A. Madigan

It was Tuesday, and Kenneth Cooke, newly promoted from training status to the actual troubleshooting floor, was looking for an empty cubicle.  His shift started at 10 am, and while that was cool for many reasons. The one drawback to it was, by the time he arrived at work every day, people who had gotten there earlier took all the cubicles.  

Finally he spotted an empty cubicle and headed over to it.  Whoever normally sat here had heavily personalized the work space, with pictures of various family members, a couple of plants, and several cute little plaques containing humorous mottos, like “I’m a 5:01 person in a 9 to 5 world” and “Remind me again how lucky I am to work here, I keep forgetting”.  

Kenneth hesitated before pulling the chair out.  Technically, there were no assigned seats at the call center, but this particular person had so obviously and utterly colonized this space that it just seemed…wrong, somehow….to sit there.

Amanda Resoyce, who was a supervisor in Kenneth’s department, saw his hesitation.  “Yeah, it’s fine,” she told him. “Bill, the guy who sits there, is off on Tuesdays.  Go ahead and sit down and get logged in.”

“Great,” Kenneth said.  He still felt a little hesitant, but, reassured by Amanda’s instruction, he grabbed the back of the chair to pull it out—

Reality fractured into thick ice-like chunks above Kenneth’s head, and fell in jagged shards like daggers all about his feet.  A shrieking void filled with unimaginable colors that writhed like eight dimensional slugs through configurations no human mind could sanely comprehend gaped open before, above, behind, and around him.  Amanda Resoyce frantically grabbed at a support post, as she felt what seemed like a vast wind, smelling of blood and shit and cinnamon, grab her in a thousand invisible hands and try to tug her into the indescribable rip in the quantum fabric of time and space.

Kenneth screamed once and was sucked in to the howling void.

Sprawled on a pulsating field of somehow living (and hungry) grit, Kenneth looked up into the ululating awfulness of non-sky above him and, feeling his eyeballs starting to slide like melted wax out of their sockets, screamed his mind away in endless horror, even as the Undulaters began tendril-skating towards him, maws askew in interested hunger.  

Back in the call center, Amanda combed her fingers through her hair.  Another supervisor, Jameela Price, said, “Oh, you didn’t see the email?  We’re not letting anyone sit at Bill’s workstation today. Some kind of thing… I’m not sure what.”

Amanda stared. “Well,” she said, “I know Bill doesn’t like it when other people sit at his station, but…um…say, was that symbol always drawn in the carpeting under his chair?”

“No,” Jameela said, “he put that there yesterday towards the end of his shift.  He was chanting, too.  I don’t know… I guess I should have said something.  I didn’t notice the symbol until after he’d gone home, though.  I guess we can talk to him tomorrow about it.”

Amanda remembered the large black books Bill habitually carried around with him and read from between calls.  She also remembered the bizarre sight of Kenneth, tumbling into a hole in the air that had done its best to suck her in, as well.  She remembered Kenneth’s silhouette, tumbling over and over, growing smaller and smaller, as if falling into a deep, chaotically hued shaft leading eternally downward into nothingness.

“Uh,” Amanda said.  “Well…maybe we just shouldn’t mention it to him.   And, you know, make sure nobody else tries to sit there.”

Jameela shrugged.  “Yeah, maybe,” she agreed.

monsters-152476_640


My name is D.A. Madigan.  I’ve had stories bought by various professional markets, including April Moon’s FLESH LIKE SMOKE and the upcoming THE STARS AT MY DOOR, PS Publication’s THROUGH A MYTHOS DARKLY, the upcoming TRANSMISSIONS FROM PUNKTOWN, and several others I can’t talk about yet because the final TOCs haven’t been announced as yet, but I’ll be on them when they are.  

Jeffrey Thomas called my story for TRANSMISSIONS FROM PUNKTOWN ‘bizarre and brilliant’, so I take that as high praise, given that Jeffrey Thomas is pretty much the ruling god-emperor of ‘bizarre and brilliant’.  

In 2011 the Louisville Eccentric Observer voted me Louisville’s Best Local Author and just last summer I won an Imadjinn Award for my novella RED LETTER DAY.   

Litterbugs, by BanWynn Oakshadow

By this point the sails are so much confetti trailing micro-fiber lines. We look like a poorly tricked-out Bakian punk’s jumper. We figured that we might as well call this deploy “solar sails” since they managed to slow us down enough to find out that Sol is what the local call this little star before it turned us into a Rut Festival float. As always, my favorite ear jockey has maneuvered us perfectly. We are going to slip between Sol 2 and 3 to drop us into a nice, clean S-curve around Sol, then a single jerk of negative acceleration to the starboard engine and slingshot around this orifice evacuatied excuse for a system, saving fuel at 20% over optimum projections. I am going to have to fuck all three of his holes to say “Ghneezax” for this one. That means ten extra flips at full acceleration, and into the port 4.734 turns ahead of scheduled delivery. Narcotics are profitable and that means upgrades for my sweet baby…and some for the ship to.

“Tank, baby, grab your chin and cuddle them balls. You’re going to need them. We are now at Sol 3 planar orbit and nearing 180 degrees. 5 ren burn that’ll make your brain take a week sliding back down to your asses, and we are looping out of this…”

The whole ship jerked alright, but not because of the engine. We hit something…big. You absolutely, never hear dings against the hull, but I sure as fuck heard something.

I yelled, “Sweet Baby Roofus! What the fuck did you just do to my ship?”

“I didn’t see it. Honeybuns never detected it. Who could have expected it? It ain’t my fault!”

“What ain’t your fault, super pilot who ain’t getting laid tonight, after all?”

Fre giggled back, “Tank, I don’t know how to say this…but, at 180 degrees we…I had to have Baby rip data from Sol 3 to identify it…we hit a toaster. A big, fucking toaster. Tactile is on your pad now, if you wanna take a feel.”

Shit. Roofus was pretty stressed if Fre was venting NO2. Sometimes I hate Thrillians. “What kind of damage are we talking about, Slick-tail?”

Fre managed to sound ashamed while continuing to giggle, “Boss, we’re limping home. Thirty-seven turns late on delivery at best. Repairs are going to cost twice what we will get paid on delivery. I’m going to sling us back between Sol 4 and 5 then shoot it again at twelve degrees vertical of any planetary orbit.”

“Can you get decently close to Sol 3 on the way?”

“I can. It’ll cost a bit of fuel, but why?”

“We gonna drop some dead weight on the way home and make ourselves feel real good doing it. When you are close enough to the primitives who don’t understand “Don’t make us shoot. Don’t pollute.” drop three of Baby Bird’s eggs and glass that fucker.”

“I like the way you think. Looks like you’re the one getting lubed tonight…all eight of them.”

“Boss…got a weak transmission coming in. Their philosophers or priests or scientists or whatever are claiming that we just pulled a “hit and run” on God.”

“Fuck ’em. Count to three and say “Goorshik VorrroaW!”

I could hear Roofus’ smiles, “I never get over how much prettier those glassed planets look after we’re done with them.”

My ear began to erect and get cold, “You’re just a hopeless romantic. That’s number four of the three reasons I love you, so peel them open. Put the big girl on auto and let’s fuck.”

“Whatever you say, you’re the boss. You want me to bring some Tribbles?”


BanWynn Oakshadow has been a poet, writer, artist and photographer since 1978 He grew up in rural Ohio, lived much of his adult life in the desserts of Colorado and Arizona and lives on a 400 yo farm in Sweden.. He writes about Native American & Viking history, lots of speculative fiction, Child Abuse, Mental Illness and Spirituality. He loves donating works to animal charity anthologies and publications that don’t pay, but give people who live to write and write to live a place to share it. You can find him at uncleoakie.wordpress.com

 

The Visit, by Brandy Stark

Cthulhu_and_R'lyeh

Image by BenduKiwi.

“Hail, Old Ones! Hail, Great Ones!”   He called. Only the echo of His roar answered Him.

He narrowed His eyes to better view His surroundings. Jutting up from the ground were mounds of rocks, their peaks pushing past the ocean waves and reaching for the graying sky beyond.   It was quiet and still around Him. The schools of fish had long scattered at His approach. Even the lowly corals had receded deep into their shells, cowering. For a moment He spied a few intrepid sharp toothed sharks hovering at the edge of His vision. Sensing His gaze they, too, disappeared into the depths.

His eyes scanned the mounds before Him. He could feel them. Why didn’t they answer?

He tried again: “Hail, Old Ones! Hail, Great Ones!”

For a moment more He stood in quiet nothingness. Then, there was a subtle shifting. The sense of movement came from inside one of the stony pillars. An energy, an outreach, a probing, then a connection.  

The earth before Him strained as if willing itself to remain sealed. It screamed in protest and shuddered as it was wrenched open. For a moment, He saw the tips of curled appendages probe the maw of the fissure. Wilting, their work done, they receded from view and were replaced by an enormous eye. It lolled about, tugging at colorless flesh as it viewed its surroundings. Seeing him, the eye paused and the heavy weight of its scrutiny fell upon Him. He saw his own reflection peering back from the surface of the orb. He was enshrouded by the dying rays of the sunset that cast an eerie red-orange light onto the world around him. It was bright enough that he saw the iris as it expanded and contracted around the pupil. The colors within it were last seen at the birth of the universe. The dark center of the eye, however, contained a myriad of blacknesses, a series of darks carried forth from the death throes of the universe that existed before this one.

He waited, motionless, as the gaze moved across His body.

A rumble spread across the ocean floor before Him. The sound reached up and wrapped around him. “Cthulhu.”

He bowed in ascent.

“Seed of my seed, we bid you welcome.”

He waited.

“We are the beings of the Old Universe, the universe that was. We are the only ones left of that place and of that time. As you are now, we once were.”

The eye grew wide for a moment and its hold on Him lessoned. It grew unfocused, as if it could once again see the place of its birth. It looked to the Heavens and rolled back. A white membrane of flesh enveloped it. All grew quiet as it dwelled in memories.

The lids parted, unveiling the orb beneath. Again, the gaze focused on Him with new interest. Its intensity burned Him, reaching through his flesh, then blood, and touching his soul.

“We made our homes here and drew the earth about us. We watched and waited as life arose from the slime and mire. After a thousand generations had come and gone we grew comfortable. We slept. We waited. After a million generations, your father awakened us.   We destroyed Him for His impetuousness. He fed us his scrambled brains and beating heart. The stench of his corpse destroyed most of the creatures above, but it was not yet time for an end to all. A million million generations have passed since then and you, son of my son, awaken us.”

Cthulhu raised His head.

“The noise from above reaches us. Anarchy calls. Anger. Distrust. Disillusionment.”

He waited. The eye rolled again, but this time it didn’t fully close. Within its depths was a new emotion: ecstasy. This resounded in the Old One’s voice as well. The next works were tinged with a tone of excitement.

“The time has come,” it said.

Though Cthulhu could not see his face, He knew that the Old One was smiling. Then Grandfather added, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”

Cthulhu closed his eyes.

Grandfather called again: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

The third time Grandfather said these words there were new voices saying them, too. The voices rose from the landmasses beyond the one holding Grandfather. Each island had its own Old One and each Old One joined in the call.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

The water writhed around Him, trying to escape the reach of the chant. Fissures exploded from the protesting ground. Soft tendrils emerged from them, reaching for Him, caressing his skin. They gripped him, probed him, pulled him down.

Lighting rocked in the distant sky, indiscriminately striking the water and the land. He heard the screams from above. He felt the fear. He felt the panic.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

This universe must come to an end. The Old Ones’ call filled his ears and spilled into his being; he felt the darknesses of a thousand universal death knells well within.

Slowly the tendrils dropped from his body, releasing him. He opened his eyes. It was time.


Brandy Stark is a Tampa Bay, Florida artist, educator and writer.  Before becoming full time faculty in the Humanities, she served as an arts correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times from 1998 to 2002.  She also wrote for other local publications, including Bayside News, Sterling Powell’s City Life, and several art based websites. Her award-winning creative writing has been published local.  Recently, she self – published two booklets on the history and haunts of the Suntan Art Center (Spectral Musings) and Patty and Friends Antique Village (Ghostly Encounters:  Patty and Friends Antique Village).  Both may be purchased at Amazon.com in print or for Kindle.

Meganuera monyi, by Richard Stevenson

fairy-2370595_1920

Well, I ain’t no chopper, baby.

Didn’t come to mist your crops.

I just got the drop on this lamb.

Gonna drop ‘im on those rocks.

 

Yeah, I’m gonna drop in for dinner,

get right at his innards. Gonna daub

my masticating mouth bits with his

Soft little fleece suit. Little fleece suit.

 

Got here through a wormhole, babe.

Ain’t May 2004 where I’m from, hon!

Sorry to cause so much trouble.

Sorry to bust your time/space bubble.

 

I’m just an eight-foot dragonfly.

Relax. Yer too skinny to scarf.

Don’t do cotton burritos in bikinis,

even itsy bitsy teeny weeny polka-dotted ones.

 

Fifties caught up with you, babe.

Cold war fantasies of giant radioactive

ants had you freaked.   I just decided

to visit, spin a few platters from the past..

 

Cop some fast food, cruise the valley

with my top down, so to speak.

Grab a sheep. Go on the lam

before heading back to my Cretaceous crib.

 

G-g-g giant d-d-dragonfly!

Don’t go flub flub flub

When I’m in flyin’mode. Just hover, hon.

Suck back a few sanguine shakes.

 

Meganuera monyi, Cretacious cutie.

Gonna sock it to you, babe,

in psychedelic moire colours,

all four wings ablaze!

 

Leda only had a Don Juan

gone-by-dawn swan, sweetheart –

a smooth talker, great lover maybe –

but he knocked you up, didn’t he?

 

I may be more mechanical,

But I can dance on a dime,

hover, feint left or right

better than your best boxer.

 

Hey! I’ve got compound eyes.

I see you comin’ and goin’.

Know all three of my right feet

from my left. Am totally tubular!

 

Fast shuffle, fox tot, waltz –

I got ‘em covered. Flap flap.

Don’t need a gat, pork pie,

Zoot suit, or any flim flam scam.

 

Zzz Zzzz Zzz. C’mon, honey,

Shake your money maker!

I’m the dude who can take you

to another era. Fly with me!

dragonfly-62671_1280


Richard Stevenson recently retired from a thirty-year teaching gig at Lethbridge College .  His most recent books are Rock, Scissors, Paper: The Clifford Olson Murders, a long poem sequence (Dreaming Big Publications, USA, 2017), and A Gaggle of Geese, haikai poems and sequences, ( Alba Publications, UK,2017 )