All sorts of monsters live here, from Vampires and Werewolves to Selkie and the ever popular Zombies.
So you think the world's become prosaic and dull? There's no mystery any more, no magic? You want enchantment, adventure? You want... monsters?
You dream of feeling the downrush of a dragon's wings, of hearing a distant, metallic rhythm and slowly realizing that it's the sound of dwarves, marching, I know you do. "You'll never believe what happened on the way over here." Bea fairly threw her bag down on the table as she arrived, throwing Gary's coffee mug into a spin. Brown droplets sprayed over his work shirt and dabbed the tabletop. Bea didn't notice and placed both arms right in the mess.
"No, what did you see?" It never occurred to me to wonder why there are no more gods walking the earth. I've always known that there are.
In the old days, gods were born to gods, and even when one was born of human parents, the adult gods took it and raised it as one of them. But the adult gods have disappeared. Now when gods are born--a rare event, else we'd be overrun--it is always to humans. If the young god is lucky and smart, it learns to curb its power and live among us. If it does not, then we puny humans must deal with it ourselves. "It's not my rule," said the sorceress, crossly. "It's a rule of magic, child. If you want a thing, you must be prepared to offer something you value as much in exchange. If you take my advice, you'll forget about this nonsense and speak to the young man on your own." She leaned on her hoe and watched the girl over her garden fence.
"But, mistress," said the girl, and began to offer some excuse she passionately believed in. The old woman sighed; there was never a drop of sense in them when they were fifteen and in love, or thought they were. Of course, if she'd had any sense herself at that age she wouldn't be living in this little hut on the cliff's edge peddling simples, so she tried to be kind. This latest girl was very pretty, although perhaps she didn't know it, with her gray eyes and skin a good deal paler than most of the people along this coast. She had probably been sickly and sunburnt as a child, and showed no sign of knowing yet that she'd grown into herself and could likely catch the eye of whatever man she wished. "Where do you do it, young man?"
Peter glanced up from his book at the middle-aged woman--the only other occupant in the train compartment--and smiled. There were four men in the tintype studio, but only one was dead. The dead man sat propped in a wooden chair, strapped into place. A duvet across the room held the two "cousins" who had carried him in for his portrait. The older and smaller of them sat rigid as a poker. The younger, slouching beside him, said, "We ought to of put him in the ground straight away, Doctor Bern."
"Phillip, your incuriosity is a constant astonishment to me," said the older one. He wore a neat tweed with just a few smears of blood and grave dirt on the cuffs. "I'd say you were entirely unsuited to this business if not for your talent with a hammer and stake." "Never open the box," said Pappy, and since Pappy had been dead twenty years and no one ever came along to tell her otherwise, Dolly never did.
She stood on the porch in her grandmother's dress, scowling at the sky. The clouds to the west had parted to show a gash of sunset pink. She'd been a little girl the last time the sky was anything but grey. There isn't room for us any more.
I ran my tongue over my fangs, scanning the crowd, inhaling the scent of warm meat. The thumping of hearts around me drowned out the cheesy Dixie Chicks song.
Then I saw her in vintage Gothic attire, her hair in a 20's bob. Crimson, horned-rimmed glasses sat on her nose as she sipped her Bloody Mary. With an outfit like that in a country bar, she was asking to be my dinner. Mignonette yawned and slowly pushed open the lid to her coffin, unsure what she would find. It was not her custom. But then her real name was not Mignonette either, not from her old life where she had had a name filled with consonants, hard for those in the West to pronounce, as in Paris where she lived now. But what was a name? She was what she was, and if she should call herself "Mignonette," the ones she consorted with seemed not to mind.
"It fits you well, ma chérie," one had said to her only the past week. "Your delicate features. You say you had moved here from Eastern Europe. Does that make you a Communist?" "You must come," she says. "My son is sick." Her hands, worn and wrinkled, twist together in the dim light that filters into my room.
"I'm not a doctor," I say. Lucy bent over the shoebox, sifting through curling paper and cracked photographs. So many secrets. She'd been too young when her mother died. All she had now were these scraps of life: birth certificates, faded letters, notes from her grandmother in French. Receipts for harpsichord supplies, though the harpsichord was long dead.
Lucy's fingers stopped at the place she hated: her mother's death certificate. Karlen washed the flecks of blood from her face and patted it dry, and as she ran the towel under her chin, she realized she'd missed a spot again. The towel was already stained, covered in streaks and splotches from other evenings, and she knew the new red mark would darken to match soon enough. She never quite managed to get all the blood on the first try.
Earlier that night, she'd left Peter with a kiss and a promise to be careful. Then she'd walked down to the park at the end of the block and sat under the big maple to wait, as she had every full moon for the past eleven months. Every full moon she would sit under the tree, take the folded snapshot out of her pocket, and remember the day the photo had been taken right in that spot. The tree had been bright orange with its fall foliage, and Wes had laughed as leaves were thrown into the air by sudden gusts of wind only to float gently down around them. He had been so happy that day. He had been happy, and so she and Peter had been happy too, all of them wearing silly grins with their hats and scarves, staring out of the photo with no clue that five months later Wes would be a monster. It was no wonder that Wes had been drawn to this place for his night of remembrance, the one night that he would recall who he had been. Remember his former life, and despise the memory. She wakes up scared in the morning. She wakes up scared almost every morning. Still, it's a nice day. Summer. Blue sky.
She walks up the hill until she's downtown. It makes her feel better, having living people all around her. Laira stood in the damp cellar, stared at the narrow bed she had spent her days on for the last seven centuries. Seven hundred years, without once seeing the sun.
"You'll get used to it," they'd said. "You'll love being a vampire." I didn't know why it was only men who returned as zombies. Neither did anyone else. Scientists who studied the phenomenon (and weren't squeezed to death by zombies) were puzzled. Maybe DNA? said one.
Duh, said widows collectively. And it was widows who said it, because only husbands came back, never boyfriends, or friends with benefits, or one-night stands. The sheriff asked me to believe that a telephone call turned Georgina Agravaine into a werewolf. Evidently, the caller suggested that she might be one, and that's when the trouble started.
I sat in his office with my ankles crossed, sipping a triple tall latte. "What type of crime does a phone call like that fall under?" I asked. Aina watched the other humans crowd around the martyr's table. They pressed close to Evan as if they wanted to touch him, kept watching him even when they spoke to each other. Of course no one did actually touch him; the sacrifice had to be pure. The demon was going to eat him, after all, and its servants, their masters, would never give it sullied meat.
The masters stood quietly lining the walls, dark robes and tall spears. Even now, after seventeen months of captivity, they looked to her almost like a cliché from bad television, but without the comforting distance of black and white, which might have hidden the bloodstains on their clothes. Aina could see their eyes move, quick and deadly, saw one tense as little Martha who really knew better leaned slightly too close to the martyr when she passed him rice. Aina was more cautious, would keep her distance when she served the bowl of steaming broth that was her offering. Every year the Christmas Zombie came, bringing not just the seasonal scents of pine and cinnamon, but also the aroma of fresh meat.
Grrg had waited and waited; finally, fresh meat! Christmas morning was still hours away but already he imagined the warm flesh on his tongue, the juices flowing between his teeth. Last Christmas, his first in undeath, he'd had no hopes whatsoever--there was nothing in the world that he wanted except brains, and Santa Claus seemed unlikely to bring those. But the Christmas Zombie had come instead, and so he and his parents had feasted on a sweet (though leathery) little old lady. A cry echoed through the cemetery.
The ghoul stood in the graveyard, working mechanically, like the crankshafts on a steam train. His shovel cut through soil, digging holes and filling them. So many dead. So very many dead. Tabbitha was out of town. I turned off the light and stretched out over the entire bed. Was this a guilty pleasure? Was my loneliness supposed to quench my enjoyment of such luxurious space? I closed my eyes and dreamt of the barren vastness of Wyoming.
A yank of my pinkie toe awoke me. I sat up and scanned the dark room. There, at the foot of the bed--two bloodshot yellow eyes. The two men walked slowly through the graveyard, glancing at the five-or-ten word death-tweets carved on the stones. Roger Hartley seemed agitated as they passed more and more of the worn and overgrown headstones. They all seemed too old, few showing terminus dates later than 1900.
"It's buried here, with the humans?" When I was a young boy, we used to take Dad's rusty pickup out to find the perfect tree. Dad always brought ropes because the wretch pines usually put up one heck of a fight. One time, a flailing branch ripped my cheek open so badly Mom had to stitch it up. I still bear the scar. With pride, I should add.
As I grew older, Dad let me swing Fungbrom's Axe. I chopped down my first wretch pine. My arms were torn and bloody, but once the wretches are free of their roots you can wrestle them onto a truck pretty easily. Dad was so proud he gave me a sip of whiskey, and I managed to keep it down. Robbie killed monsters. He used a baseball bat, because they didn't give better weapons to ten-year-olds. It worked well enough. He'd cleaned out his room first, the slithering whispering things under the bed and the Chatterer in the closet. Then the attic, full of Flappers and Flutterers, and one that was more like a fog or a mist than anything solid. He'd poked holes in it with the bat, then swirled the bat around until the drifting fog-thing shrieked and funneled up through a crack in the ceiling like a tornado in reverse.
The last monster he killed was in the basement, where the strongest monsters always live, down near the earth and the dirt and the rot and the dark. The monster in Robbie's basement was a fetid, swollen worm of a creature, with a mouth of flat, grinding teeth. He'd hit it right between where the eyes would have been and kept hitting until it was a pulpy mass. It had taken him three days to finish breaking it into chunks and burying it in the backyard. Robbie's backyard was peppered with mounds of dirt, some overgrown now with grass, others still fresh. His neighbor Mrs. Cotterly thought Robbie was just a spectacularly bad goldfish-taker-care-of. Robbie patrolled the backyard nightly to make sure the monsters weren't coming back. One year at Midsummer there was--
Oh, I beg your pardon. There is word from my great-aunt Margit that this was not just once, but every year at Midsummer. My apologies. "I guess it's true then, Santos. All things come to he who waits."
I sniffed and wrapped a claw-like hand around my glass and took a healthy sip. It burned going down, and I inhaled in surprise. The cavern reeked of brimstone, blood and magic. Artor the Sorcerer, stained with ichor and blood mostly not his own, limped past the sinuous corpse of the treasure's jealous guardian to claim his prize. Gold coins up to his ankles were just an impediment to walking, piles of jewels merely glittering distractions, neither of them more than trinkets to a master of the arcane arts. But there, in the back of the cavern, there was the true treasure. As Artor approached, he sensed something wrong. Hesitating, he peered closer. Not magic, not threat, not traps, but... disarray.
There, Grimwold's Gruesome Grimoire, bereft of pages, nothing left but a spine and empty bindings. The Beastly Book of Brell, thought indestructible, was apparently only nigh-so. Terach's Terrible Tome was recognizable only by scattered page fragments that nipped at his heels, barely worth the thought it took to immolate them. Scores if not hundreds of lesser volumes, tattered. An empire's ransom of irreplaceable lore, gone. Ruined, all of them. Turning away my sister feels like stomping barefoot on a nail. When I was nineteen and the car she warned me about gave out near Denver, Alice drove out to get me and never said I told you. Alice was the one who hijacked me from my own bachelor party and made me promise not to marry the girl who later got arrested for throwing a brick at a two-year-old. Alice is the one who always looked out for me, but I can't return the favor. I can't. It's too much to ask.
Rose knew the signs of death better than most. The second she stepped in the hospice room, she knew it was not far off.
The man on the bed was pale and thin, his skin like tissue paper, his hair a few wispy strands that made him look like an ogre. There was a well-worn bible on the bedstand next to him. Friedrich drew his knife over the block of chocolate. A thin strip formed behind the blade, curling like a dark rosebud. Perfect.
He set the curl in the middle of the parfait glass, on top of the custard. It was beautiful but too studied, even with the ruby juice pooling around the edges. Friedrich opened a drawer and found the nutmeg grater. I finally pulled myself all the way through the apartment wall to find Dee had finished dressing in her Scarlett O'Hara dress. I always thought she was gorgeous even with her hair a mess and wearing that tatty robe Grandma Kinneson gave her, so seeing Dee dressed up like that would've taken my breath away, if I breathed anymore.
Unfortunately, she wasn't dressed like that for me: it was for Raymond. He was Rhett to her Scarlett. But look how that turned out. "Wait," Mother scolded. "We need to wind the bobbin first."
Erin sat back from the sewing machine and crossed her arms over the seeping hole in her stomach. "Can't you do it for me?" Susan don't like zombie. Susan don't like dead things. Susan likes sunlight and laughter and cream teas. She never asked for the job, she never wanted it. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it.
Zombies are stupid. Dumb as a box of rocks. Draw a line in the dirt and they'll go all glassy-eyed and follow it, shuffling along about two miles a day. "Gah, gah, gah."
Mom says, Don't Make Fun. Says, It's Not Nice. Says, It Could happen to Anyone. They came for me on a Monday morning when I was too exhausted to hear the backdoor caving in. Only when their hands were on me did I realize that all was lost, but the dead didn't consume me. They dragged me out of the house, shambled the three blocks to the school, holding me tight in their rotted hands, shuffling in that loose-limbed, broken way that they had, until they'd pulled me up the stairs, through the front doors with their glass knocked out, down the hall strewn with books and abandoned backpacks, until we came to my room.
Here, too, windows were broken, and the Venetian blinds hung askew. Morning sun slanted through the uneven slats. They pushed me toward my podium. I clung to the top, sick with fear. When would they kill me? Would I become like them? Doctor Victor Von Frankenstein entered his laboratory and froze. The lab was silent. The copper discharge spheres weren't sparking and the Jacob's Ladder was silent. The row of four glass tubes no longer bubbled. But what really caught his attention was the empty lab table. It still sat at its 45-degree angle, but the heavy duty leather straps were snapped and the monster gone. Was it terrorizing the villagers again? That's the last thing Victor needed. It had taken years to fix his reputation and get back his good name.
A dim light flickered from his office. Quietly he entered. The monster was hunched over the doctor's desk. War came to my village uninvited. Demons who thought they were gods dropped a monster in our midst. The monster was Ao, a giant sloth of a beast with skin the color of carrots and eyes like rusted metal. My village chose me to lead the fight, though I was a farmer, not a warrior. There was no other choice. All of us were farmers.
The road that wound among our homes was empty, and sunset painted the sky the color of mangoes and coral. Our fields, once green with tea and rice, were dead and dry, the entire countryside destroyed by Ao's wrath. In the window of my son's home, my granddaughter watched, her tiny three-fingered hands clinging to the sill. My son marched beside me. Born before the monster came, he held his axe with perfectly formed five-fingered hands. Time in our village was so clearly divided--there was life before Ao came, and life afterwards. Life, and death. We twenty who remained fought out of desperation.
All sorts of monsters live here, from Vampires and Werewolves to Selkie and the ever popular Zombies.
by Edoardo Albert
Published on Jun 27, 2012
Early Draft of Talking Points for the Sixth Emergency Broadcast with Editorial Suggestions by the Office's Unpaid Interns Bob and Isabelle
by Helena Bell
1. Hello, and thank you for tuning in to our 10-part series: Methods of Proving Neither You Nor your Loved Ones Are a Host of Demonly Creatures. If you have not done so already, please check to ensure that you are not attempting to write with a number 3 [Ed. -Bob] 2 pencil, as they have proven untrustworthy. For your convenience, a laminated printout of this update will be available for purchase at the following locations: a. Warehouse Liquor
Published on Nov 5, 2012
by Annie Bellet
To get: Bear mace (?) Dog food Garlic (40 cloves? check recipe) Lamb leg (enough to feed 5)
Published on Dec 28, 2011
by Jen Brubacher
Published on Feb 27, 2012
by Annie Bellet
***Editor's Note: This story includes mature and potentially disturbing themes. It is not for all readers***
Mai goes for her daily run, glad that spring has arrived and freed her from the treadmill. She usually makes a circuit down through the gardens but today she turns and runs uphill, toward the cherry orchard. At first, her calves feel like lumps of wood, but she warms up and finds her stride. When Love, who she has started to call Pembroke in her head as a tiny rebellion, told her to start running two years ago, she hated it. Now, this is her favorite time each day. This is also the only time she is allowed to wear pants.
Published on Aug 3, 2012
by M.E. Castle
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by Ann Chatham
Published on Oct 21, 2011
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Published on Dec 13, 2011
by Donald S. Crankshaw
Published on Jan 21, 2013
by Amanda C. Davis
Published on Sep 19, 2011
by Amanda C. Davis
Published on Apr 25, 2012
by Kristi DeMeester
***Editor's Warning: Adult, disturbing, haunting tale. Please be advised***
Published on Mar 19, 2013
by Brian Dolton
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by Sarina Dorie
Published on Sep 6, 2011
by James S. Dorr
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by Ari B Goelman
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by Michael J Greenhut
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by K.G. Jewell
Published on May 3, 2012
by Tom Jolly
Published on Feb 27, 2014
by Robert E. Keller
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by Catherine Krahe
***Editor's Warning: Disturbing, adult tale***
The beekeeper Alsah has battlemagic. When he fights, and he does so only rarely, he breaks necks.
Published on Jan 4, 2013
by Nathaniel Matthews Lee
Published on Oct 28, 2011
by Marissa Lingen & Alec Austin
University of Washington Supernatural Philosophy Dept., Therianthrope Research Team field notes. Principal Investigators: Dr. Yue and Dr. Bjornson. Interview #1 - Werewolf
Published on May 29, 2012
by Marissa Lingen
Published on May 14, 2013
by Brian K Lowe
Published on Jul 20, 2011
by Sandra McDonald
My mother was the most beautiful werewolf in Brighton Beach. Four legs, sleek silver fur, and rows of well-brushed teeth that could rip your throat out. My father was a Russian immigrant who started a janitorial company that at one time serviced every public school and city building on Coney Island. As their only kid, I inherited the worst of both worlds: my mother’s were-curse and my father’s ruthless passion for cleanliness. Every month I transform into a magical creature who slinks along the city streets carrying a bucket and a mop. Yes. I’m a were-maid.
Published on Oct 29, 2010
by Amy McLane
***Editor's Warning: Disturbing, Adult Tale***
Nobody can do what I do. That's why they come to me. And I do what I do because I got to eat like everyone else. But I hate seeing one like her walking in here.
Published on Feb 26, 2013
by Melissa Mead
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by Greg Porter
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by Cat Rambo
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by Lavie Tidhar
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by Lavie Tidhar
"Ol Man Amerika oli gat sam problem naoia," Verity said. Brett said, "What do you mean the Americans are having problems now?"
Published on Aug 24, 2011
by Garth Upshaw
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by Ed Wyrd
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