Warning: May Cause Side Effects

An accountant type guy being followed by a zombie in a red work jumpsuit

It started last week. I was at work and the dead man was just there, standing, staring at me. He was clearly unaware he was quite dead. I was startled, to say the least. I turned and grabbed at my coworker in the next cubicle, frantically sputtering. 

“Frank! Frank!” but Frank was on the phone. He glared at me, annoyed, his hand cupped over the receiver to mute my yell. I stopped shouting, regaining some sense, and instead gesticulated wildly toward the corpse.

“Yeah…,” Frank businesslike as always, stayed calm, but after a moment of me pointing wide-eyed with fear he added, “Robert? Let me call you right back.” He hung up angrily.

“What the hell is your problem? I’m trying to work!” Frank scowled at me. I pointed towards the water cooler.

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Broken Bell part 3

The arched doorway of an old Californian mission chapel (with maybe some cracks and holes in the adobe on the exterior wall to reveal human skulls among the bricks) with a hooded monk (no face or perhaps just the brow and nose and cheekbones peeking out of the murk). He’s lurching partway out of the strong shadow like a vampire at noon, with one hand beckoning to us and the other making an occult gesture…

When next the bell rang, it was all he could do to keep his feet. He steeled himself for another meal. Fray Joachim led them into the dining hall and took his seat at the head of the long table. A platter of raw corn and a jug of water awaited them. The bell ringer brought the monks a plate of ears of corn. Fray Joachim took them one by one and ate them, cobs and all. Hull took a mouthful of corn and chewed it throughout the meal, drinking his water and silently battling Obregon for the rest of the jug. McKeever sat staring straight ahead as he fisted the corn into his mouth like a pig on market day. 

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No story today

Try as we might, we were unable to acquire 31 stories for this month. We will return soon!!

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Witch House

A female form, naked and surrounded by a nimbus of light hovering in an abyss.

Now

“Well this is new,” Cassey said, and the surrounding walls echoed her words. She felt she should be scared, but after what she had been through already? This was tame in comparison. The portal behind her crackled, spilling violet light into a large room filled with shadows, and sinister shapes. She gave off a little violet light herself, had done for a while now. Cassey felt this should scare her too. In the kingdom of the mad, however, the sane woman was queen.

A laugh, more of a cackle really, escaped her mouth. It echoed and bounced off the walls to impact against…

There were dozens of them, large, brutish-looking horrors the size of bears. They had more limbs than a bear though, more limbs than any creature had the right to possess.

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The Dinner Party

A chef knife carving a large piece of meat off a bone.

Chef Kaets put down the kitchen towel she had in her hand to answer the phone.

“Hello, Chef Marie Kaets speaking, how can I help you?”

The voice on the other side of the phone dredged up her past by asking for the one thing she would never cook again, no matter the fee they offered. Thinking back, she couldn’t believe she’d ever really done that, but it felt like a lifetime ago. In her defense, she was desperate for money at the time and ultimately felt the experience was worth the risk involved to further her budding career.

“I’m sorry, but you’ve made a mistake. I certainly don’t offer a service like that!”

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Ke’ken

A giant flying insect, the bones of a human wrapped around it. The head of the bug is inside the skull, its thorax inside the rib cage. The skeleton is missing its pelvic bones and legs. The segmented abdomen protrudes from the bottom of the rib cage. Fly-like, translucent wings emerge from the back of the rib cage.

Through the graveyard, frantic digging could be heard. The ground shifted. Dozens of headstones fell, many into the pits that opened where once lay burial plots. We saw the skulls, then shoulders bones and rib cages push their way out of the stinking mud. Something was wearing the bones of people. Long, segmented legs hung between rib cages. A curled abdomen curled where the pelvic bones and legs once were. From the back sprouted gossamer wings. The creature chittered and clicked to one another, then flew into the night. 

Alternative names: Corpse Flies

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Off Grouper Reef

A floating corpse in a crevice in a reef stares at you in the sunlit waters.

It was the first snorkeling charter since the big hurricane season, and the safety spiel had gone pretty well. Nobody had had too many margaritas on the way to the reef, just enough to be happy, and the warm, clear water sparkled. The anchor was dropped, customers were paired off as buddies, and in they went. It was a beautiful day. Jimmy Buffett said so on the boat’s stereo system.

Jeffrey hated rules, especially on vacation. It was only six feet of water, clear as air and warm as a bath. He was floating in a world of color and motion. Fuck snorkeling buddies. He waited for his chance and broke away to see something himself.

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The Best Laid Plans

an obese middle aged man who's had a few too many telling tails in an empty bar to a beleagured bartender

When you tend a bar, you soon learn that the later it gets, the weirder it gets, and I have had my share of weirdoes. There was that vampire romance writer a few years back – a writer of vampire romances, not a romance writer who was a vampire – and then the guy who claimed he was a special ops agent fighting monsters, and of course, the old lady who drank absinthe and crocheted quotes from Nietzsche onto throw pillows.  Then there was this guy, our latest creeper, just before we got shut down.  He sat at the dark end of the bar, by himself.  He was tall and thin, with exaggerated features, what people used to call gaunt – a real Ichabod Crane type, but with this weird pot belly.  He was a quiet sort, nursing his third scotch as we approached the last call.  He hadn’t said anything about himself, didn’t really have to, the faded, crude tattoo of digits on his arm spoke volumes.  I had been in the business, and in this town long enough to know when to talk to people and when to leave them alone.  They all come around to talking, eventually.  It’s like a church confessional, with booze, and without the guilt.

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Stowaway

The bilge of a streamer filled with Tcho-Tcho stowaways whose magic quarters and cleans their victims carcass before they begin to feast.

Just four days out of Rangoon, the SS Murnow‘s chief cook, a fastidious fellow nick-named “Dutch Pete,” to distinguish him from the Boatswain named “Spanish Pete,” was throwing an unholy fit about the stowaway who had ransacked his galley. Dutch Pete unlimbered a stream of profanity concerning the “heathen stink” he would have to scrub off the countertops and floors before the next meal could be prepared. And he wasn’t wrong. There was a stink all right, 3rd Engineer Bill Webb recognized it right off. It was the stink of the bilge. Down below the engines were all the condensation, engine oil, coal dust, and wastewater from the Murnow‘s coal-fired boiler settled in the bowels of the ship before it was pumped into the ocean. The accumulated filth left a greasy trail on the old ship’s wake. 

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BROKEN BELL part 2

The arched doorway of an old Californian mission chapel (with maybe some cracks and holes in the adobe on the exterior wall to reveal human skulls among the bricks) with a hooded monk (no face or perhaps just the brow and nose and cheekbones peeking out of the murk). He’s lurching partway out of the strong shadow like a vampire at noon, with one hand beckoning to us and the other making an occult gesture…

They left the dining hall by another door and followed Fray Joachim across a paved courtyard and into a chapel. If anything, it was darker within than without, though a single tapered candle guttered in the vestibule. Moving like clumsy puppets, the men shuffled past the friar into the musty darkness of the chapel. They fumbled through layers of heavy sailcloth curtains infested with dry rot and moths; and when they had won through to the lightless cavern, they fumbled blindly for the pews and settled into them. 

There was a rustling of heavy wool and a scuffling of leather sandals as the last leaden echoes of the bell dissolved in the air. Fray Joachim’s voice came from the altar, the guttural drone so low and slow that it seemed to take a score of minutes for each syllable to pass his lips. 

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