the horror issue
CORVID-20 by Vanessa Govinden
sticky face by Émilie Kneifel
alone in a crosswalk n gazebruised i agree to give a stranger a hug. to bathe i buy ice cream n shoplift a shirt. from the side, glances blister. i ring. the free concert cackles like hell down the street. in a window: someone’s else safety in string lights.
he left / my family / towel to / mouth i toll to my marrow mar ow ow why touch why life why why am i so open wound sticky ripe why-why do my memories never have faces
New Hobbies by Thom C Avery
A poem about you should be cliche.
It should be the way my lungs feel
now that you’ve filled them with
flower seeds and
watched them grow.
But you don’t fill my fucking lungs with flowers,
You haven’t started
cultivating my organs.
You don’t look at me anymore.
Your eyes are filled with
perfect beak-shaped holes.
The birds don’t sing for either of us.
I watch you eat the rats
and the birds
and a loose dog
and some parts of yourself, too.
We give each other matching
I pull the fingernails from my right hand
and you do the same to your left.
We immolate in symmetry:
one familiar with suffering,
the other, this other thing
made from chipped bones
and the roots of our teeth.
We dissolve in cola.
I take a day longer than you,
and now we look the same.
I’ll forget about this poem
in a month,
and in two
I’ll be back to swallowing
seeds for your garden.
STUCK by Zhishan Chen
Giant bubbles in the water.
Fishes in the water.
Fishes ate giant bubbles.
Giant bubbles caused strong headaches to fishes. So fishes became aggressive and violent.
Fishes started to attack each other.
However they cannot touch each other.
Because bubbles were the unbreakable gaps between fishes. With unsatisfied aggressive mentality.
Fishes had to keep swimming.
Years and years.
Fishes all died by excessive swimming.
I was a little kitty lived in a garden.
My body was very tiny.
My body was about a third of the garden. The garden was very big.
The garden was about half of the earth. Plenty of fleas were around me.
I loved them.
They picked flowers and threw them to me. They also ate my hair.
I recently felt more and more chill.
Nerveless, I loved here.
In a dense and foggy forest.
The big and small, old and young are in circulation.
Every moving thing started to fight with each other.
Within the plants in the forest which were tall and big.
Huge leaves smelling like burning plastic wrap around all moving things. Everything in the forest started to feel pain.
So they stopped fighting, just wanting to escape.
But they just cannot move.
Neons were flashing.
Red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, red, and blue again...
They all became blind
A huge mouth in a jungle.
Huge mouth swelled up trees, flowers, grass...
Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Bear...
Gradually the jungle became a red desert.
Time goes by.
Some sharp horns grew on five unidentified dead bodies. “SHOO!”
Dead bodies started to moved. They were heroes! Heroes transformed to missiles.
Missiles directly fired at the big mouth.
Missiles pierced the huge moth. “Boooooooooooooooom...”
Nothing occurred after the explosion.
Huge mouth was swallowing everything.
A giant came to a bats' cave.
Giant was checking around, and began to eat bats.
After eating a huge number of bats.
Giant body began to emit different colours of light.
The light attracted many different creatures to live in the cave. However everyone hated the giant.
They unified together to attacked the giant everyday.
However the attack never worked.
A while later, in a cloudy day.
The air suddenly blew up the giant, the giant became to a giant giant. A black smoke. “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM” None can find the cave anymore.
An anonymous’s saliva raised a flame in an empty crematorium. The crematorium owner jumped into the fire to extinguish the fire. However, the fire was too big.
The owner was burned to death.
When the moment that fire was burning owner to the ash. The fire suddenly transformed into two shiny bugs.
Bugs were born to sing.
Bugs’ singing summoned many small darts.
Small darts began to collide with each other and produced a bigger blaze.
An anonymous’s saliva raised a flame in an empty crematorium. The crematorium owner jumped into the fire to extinguish the fire. However the fire was too big.
The owner was burned to death.
When the moment that fire was burning owner to the ash. The fire suddenly transformed to two shiny bugs.
Bugs were born to sing.
Bugs’ singing summoned many small darts.
Small darts began to collide with each other and produced a bigger blaze. Butterflies lived in the underground.
So moist soil made them sweat all the time. Sweating...sweating...sweating...Butterflies forgot how to sweat. Butterflies started to bleed.
Blood mixed with mud, and blood caused a fire.
With the burning fire, meteors came. “...”
Meteors squeezed into the ground.
Meteors raised up a bigger flame.
Suddenly, Butterflies realised how to sweat again. So the sweat turned the fire down.
But where were the butterflies?
Butterflies became cockroaches.
black eyes by Melodie Jones
peering from the sky
wanting to devour
wanting to sink their teeth
drink the sticky red nectar
looming over us
Starts with the Body by Tyler Dempsey
Monday. January. Sunset.
Detective Andrews kneels, low light angling pierces skeleton branches creeping shadows over field. Waist-high weeds. Field with trees. Motion, slowing.
Ringing ears. A-minor. Squints.
Pheasants detonate from holler like thunderclaps. Rise through orange and pink becoming smaller, smaller dots. He sees nothing. There was nothing.
Bodies. Fringes. Cold Bloomington winter. “Chase Bank, two miles away,” Andrews relays. Shupbert pens leather book.
The Body. Arm crossed under other. Pretzel. Flies crawl in and out of mouth.
“Stab wounds,” Andrews says. “40 . . . 2, on Victim 1.” Body warm, not to touch, but memory. Less 24 hours. Video texted Shaun, red, painted fingernails masturbating. Shaun off late, “Fuck, babe. What I’d do to you.”
Cell phone in a plastic bag Shupbert passes to forensics.
Radio muted. Sea of bodies. Forensics asking how large a perimeter, hold measuring tape. Breath mushroom-clouds, emergency blues reds beaming weeds, fog crystals sighing from earth. Swaying.
Andrews reaches for rail not there. “Sir . . . how large a perimeter?”
Shupbert from 5-feet, studies partner. Body considers life. Merges with something. Andrews first- and second-finger to temple, tries communicating, Quiet. Nothing comes out. A high-frequency. Field inhabitants inhale.
In, out. Lungs gasping.
“Are you okay?”
Fire engines near Bloomington. Radio aflame.
“63 stab wounds, Victim 2.”
Barn behind Smith house . . . D Street . . . available units. Bodies talk to one another. About choices.
Under head of second, a distant heat. “Goddamnit,” Andrews, to no one. “The bank. They have cameras?”
Does float fence line dissolving in orange light.
“It’s beautiful,” says Shupbert. The men and women stop an instant.
TWO POEMS by Kat Payne Ware
PORK BELLY SONG
I am squat in geometric regularity candy striped
the colours of red gingham read my layers like
the layers of the earth topsoil of pearly magnolia
its diameter whispering well fed or force fed runt
or prize then in gentle white and blush a marbling
effect most desirable on countertops fat running
arrhythmic desire lines through the hearty text
of me the tender pink of me before the final claret
third like the last beat of sashimi like crustaceans
shifting in saran wrap like the fractals of a grapefruit
bellyaching by the boiled egg o slippery uncut ruby
dark around organs in its high security home now
musselfoot suckered to the plastic tray now I am
a die and all my six terrible faces lucky lucky sixes
It’s all plug and play — print a picture if you want
and up to three lines of text on every primal cut.
Automatically process each carcass by the individual
length. Printing of a health mark is possible.
Performance of homogeneous processing: fixation
belts secure and support us all the way. Easy operation
uniform user-friendly operator panel and trouble-
-shooting. Pull us forward by drop fingers, double
sided, synchronised. This is a dynamic concept: even
and clear print result with flexible heads. Cleaning
easy and efficient. High capacity. High
quality carcasses with fixation. Designed
in accordance with the EU and USDA regulations
to meet the strictest demand on health. Fixation
and processing can be performed. All’s fair
in plug and play. 750-1,200 carcasses/hour.
Corona by Antonis Sideras
Not like the beer, but
the virus that’s reached
the British Isles
on “independence” day.
Like the crown
about to fall
days after the actor and the prince
took theirs off.
A fiery aura
circling our sorrows,
guiding us through to
the new middle ages.
sacrifice of the lamb
by Katherine Beaman
Mothers Bane by Emily Gledhill
The sink pleases me along with the scent of the blush blossom which seeps in forms of daybreak and April. If you’d asked me before, I would have told you that blood is only a concept, an idea hatched from dusk when reaching full potential causing the black salt between your knuckles to sting. A concept to which when asked Just last another year? you are compelled to turn to the landscape of labour. Mothers, with copper skin and pink moons lather the walls and ceilings only to create such beasts not even a god could love.
vagina dentata by Aishwarya Javalgekar
They meet. They fall
in love. They kiss.
He undresses her and before she can say no or stop or draw a breath he shoves his fingers
into her body. Meaty calloused hardened fingers long -nailed unclean fingers stabbing
desperately hopeless triumphantly
into empty space.
She takes a deep breath and sneezes swallowing her teeth that flow miraculously through her body
or maybe she always had them
born a freak or became one out of self defense.
She bites deep into the flesh latches on to the intrusion unasked
unwanted and cuts it clean off the host swallows it whole.
Her vagina purrs in satisfaction hungry no more blood quenching bloodlust manliest revenge
lust flowing through every pore.
why lock yourself in when you can weed them out
Everyday Horror by Richard LeDue
Tried to show how grey clouds needn't be sad
always, no one cared.
Desperate for a reaction, wrote how rain drops
the truest tears, no one cared.
Seems like everyone wants blue sky Wednesdays,
safely wasting away
beneath florescent lights,
air dry enough to cause nosebleeds,
solved by one ply toilet paper-
the weather just another topic
discussed over microwaved lunches,
still frozen in the middle.
[Pippa El-Kadhi Brown]
Cat Diary by Jeff Parent
The cat keeps staring at the corner.
Just sits there.
He’s been like that forever.
In that corner
in the bedroom.
He just stares.
There’s a word Staci likes:
I can’t touch him
or talk to him ‘cause
it freaks him out
and his tail fills the room.
His head’s cocked,
like he’s hearing something.
I put my ear to the wall
but can’t get anything
except my pulse in my head.
Sounds like footsteps,
I can’t sleep there.
Not when he’s like that.
Freaks me out.
The streetlight comes
through the window
and his eyes glow.
Casts shadows, too.
across the ceiling,
down the walls
so I sleep on the sofa.
I called her up.
Staci, I mean,
with an I,
like a stripper.
She’s in Tampa again
Some poetry thing.
A conference maybe?
I don’t believe in that shit.
You should see the cat, I tell her.
I’m in Tampa, she says.
He’s doing this thing, I say
What? Like a trick?
No. No. He just stares at the wall,
in the corner, near the bed.
Cats do that, she said.
I hear coughing.
Is someone with you?
He’s been like that
since you left.
He just stares at the wall.
I can hear her breath
Yeah, look, I have to go.
But the cat.
I don’t know. Try the vet.
There’s a workshop soon,
she almost whispered.
That must be some
fucking conference, I told her.
She hung up.
A buddy of mine, he said,
Could be a mouse in the wall.
Yeah, cats have amazing ears.
Hear stuff through walls,
They hear four times better than us,
he said. I thought,
That is a very specific number.
I hope it’s a mouse, he said.
Why? I said.
There are worse things than mice
to have in your walls.
I got up this morning
and the cat was dead.
I left it for awhile
then put it in a
threw it in the bin.
Heavier than you’d think.
I haven’t heard from Staci
so fuck her, I guess.
Some poet probably did.
I’m back sleeping
in the bedroom again.
The sofa hurt my back.
Put a plant in the corner.
I sleep better now
but it’s weird.
Just before I drift off
I swear I hear the doorbell
or someone knocking
but, like, from a long way off.
I never check.
That plant is starting to
freak me out.
[Pippa El-Kadhi Brown]
4 poems by Sophia Tempest Parsons
The poor man’s Medea
you caught me at night,
drowning our son in the river,
just to spite you
the next morning, we drank coffee together
and everything was fine.
reconstructing my carcass
pretend I’m whole again
did He tell you to do that?
when ur abusive ex gets his new girlfriend pregnant
My dream vacation? Well,
If I could go anywhere
in the whole entire world
I would nestle myself in an ulcer
on the back of your tongue
and hum for the rest of your existence
purgatory is the cracked skin on my knuckles from
washing them too much, if I hear someone’s voice
in the next three seconds I’ll
die within the week, it’s oh wait
I already did
Deductive Narrative by Aaron Bailey
John, who wasn’t a woman, a child, a dog or a spaceship, exited a vehicle which wasn’t a Russian Cold War T-72B3 main battle tank, a horse drawn carriage, a time-machine, or a food-blender. He looked at the not-a-life sized statue of Elvis Presley or a steel shackle around his wrist so that he could tell that he wasn’t in danger of dying of high-levels of radiation, he wasn’t underwater, and that he wasn’t recently an in-patient at the local hospital.
While he wasn’t sitting down, jumping, or doing a magic trick which involved a large guillotine and an unsuspecting member of the public, John saw Tina, an old friend. As Tina wasn’t a man, a large sperm whale, a violently contagious incurable disease, or a small music box inlaid with mother-of-pearl, John thought it only right that he didn’t teleport, dismember, or serenade Tina with poorly written 1970’s Spanish guitar ballads.
Tina appreciated that John had tried to be polite and in turn didn’t offer tickets to a punk rock concert, inappropriate hand gestures – which included but did not stop at the wanker sign - or 50 kilos of Columbia’s finest cocaine. John asked if she didn’t wish to visit the Pope in the Vatican, see the latest but less well known film directed by Roman Polanski, go to Borneo and commit to animal conservation with Orangutans, or go for a ten day skiing holiday in the Alps; to which she accepted.
They knew they needed to reach the other side of the not-a-crocodile infested swamp in the Bayou, an empty vacuum of time and space in which logic doesn’t function, a conveyor belt which leads into a large malicious robot that eats organic material, or a small slither of well-groomed grass which sits perpendicular to the gates of Windsor Palace. They both decided it best to not do the conga, a strange and ungainly rendition of West Side Story in which John played the role of Anita and Tina took the role of Tony, an intricate but very niche interpretive dance routine, or to recklessly throw themselves against landmines to get to the other side.
Upon reaching the destination which wasn’t a hard-core sex shop that sells DVD’s, a black-market intergalactic junkyard which trades alien artefacts from exoplanets, a medieval French apothecary, or a small clothes boutique that serves the bourgeois class of Hollywood, they entered. Once inside, John and Tina did not blow themselves up using 4lbs of American sourced C4 while shouting religious proclamations, clean the floor using a Ewbank manual carpet cleaner from the 1940’s, or extend the hand of friendship to intelligent-life forms from far-off galaxies.
After some discussion and looking at the menu, Tina didn’t offer to buy John a British-made destroyer battle class warship, a hand-made cigar from Cuba, an 18ct diamond encrusted ring that was once worn by a member of the Moldavian royal family, a superheated ball of plasma, or a small wooden back scratcher which was purchased from Weston-super-Mare while on a summer holiday during 1969.
When it came to paying, John was adamant they would share the cost. After not producing a copy of the American Constitution, several pieces of thin-sliced deli ham, a freshly shed snake skin, a small but not insignificant piece of the shroud of Turin, or an entirely fraudulent but extremely well painted copy of the Mona-Lisa, they settled their bill.
They did not levitate, do the hokey-cokey, bend the space time continuum, fly upon a threadbare Arabian carpet, or travel upon the back of an ancient tortoise to leave the shop that wasn’t a niche magical bizarre, an expensive but understocked shop that sells tartan kilts to the Russian mafia, or a badly kept greasy spoon café on the Edgware road that has been open since the 2nd April 1949.
Shortly after not offering to groom Tina like a large silverback Gorilla, die like a political dissident in 1970’s Cuba, grant a wish like a genie which had been imprisoned in a tarnished oil lamp, or teach Tina the subtle points of growing quinoa for superfood salads, John didn’t breakdance, swing like Tarzan, or hypnotise a bystander so that they would retrieve John’s vehicle which wasn’t a mauve space-hopper, an incredibly vigorous pneumatic drill, a red 1960’s Royal Mail letter box, or a gherkin.
Once inside the vehicle, John didn’t pray to an interventionist deity, phone the president of Lichtenstein to ask for political asylum, cook a 99p ready-meal using a futuristic microwave, or disappear into a black hole that had been created by the Hadron collider. After not dying from an acute overdose of chocolate tiffin cake, being mutated into a strange four-legged crustacean, forced to swim across the Pacific Ocean while a cattle prod wielding shark chases, or sitting listening to Radio 4 on repeat for until a large comet descends and destroys earth almost fifteen million years later, John went home.
in order of appearance
Thom C Avery
GODZILLA IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL BECAUSE HE IS BEAUTIFUL AND DANGEROUS AND CAN DESTROY ME WITH NO PROBLEM
he left them hogtied them in the living room
Starts with the Body
Kat Payne Ware
PORK BELLY SONG
twitter & instagram @antonissideras
the crab prince
the dance (after matisse)
sacrifice of the lamb
Pippa El-Kadhi Brown
And Everything Grew Eyes, Noses and Mouths
Sophia Tempest Parsons
The poor man's Medea
when ur abusive ex gets his girlfriend pregnant
(dis/re)membered 20 - the physics of death