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Flash Fiction Friday: Snuff Theatre

by: S.T. Cartledge

Leonard is up all night rehearsing his one-man play. The script in hand is only one page and has only three words on it. The first is big and bold:


which is promptly followed by

ad lib.

This is his magnum opus. He had put out a press release the day before, calling it a tour-de-force, a truly avant garde theatrical experience.

“Establishing shot, actor’s apartment building, exterior, day. Birds on power lines, singing,” he says. “Cut to actor’s bedroom, filthy, interior, day. Curtains drawn, lights off. Can’t tell if it’s day or night. Close-up of actor’s face, actor is a handsome, straight white male, twenty-four years old. Single. He hasn’t shaved in a few days. His bank account is overdrawn. He is the every man. Downtrodden, underappreciated, frequently misunderstood. He represents the underclass. He really…understands people. And they understand him. He’s been kicked down too many times to count. Here he stands, no friends, no job, no family, at the end of his rope. He has a note prepared,” Leonard pulls an envelope from his coat pocket, “for the authorities to find upon discovering his body. The world will lament the day that Leonard slipped through their fingers.” He sighs heavily.

Audience laughter floods the apartment. “What a crack-up,” an audience member wheezes out through fits of laughter.

“What? No,” he says. “This is not a comedy. This is drama. Theatre. I’ve got my heart on my sleeve here.”

More laughter. He turns in circles, looking for the audience. Someone calls out, “you’re shit!”

“Be quiet, damn you! Have some respect!” He paces the apartment as the laughter rolls on. “I’m producing the world’s first theatrical snuff production. I’ve been planning this for months. Don’t ruin this!”

The laughter builds up to a crescendo and stops immediately with a bang. Leonard stands in the middle of his room with gun drawn, smoke whisping out of the barrel. “Silence!” he roars. He fires into the wall several times more.

“Oooooh,” the audience whispers.

Leonard paces the room in search of the audience. They make shh noises to try to hide their location from him. He points his gun and roams around.

“Warmer,” a single audience member calls out. “Warmer,” he repeats. “Brr…cold. Ice cold.”

Leonard stops and moves back to the warm area.

“Getting warmer.”

Leonard approaches a blank part of the wall to exclamations of “hot, hot!” He taps the wall with the barrel of the gun and hears scurrying within the wall. He fires into the wall.

“Missed us,” the audience chants in unison.

He fires into a different part of the wall, and another and another. Each time the audience calls out that he missed. He screams and throws the gun at the opposite wall, bouncing off it and landing on the bed. It fires the last bullet which passes through his left hand, leaving it somehow completely intact, ricochets off a lamp, bed post, and doorknob, before passing through the window, no shatter, no hole, vanishing into the cool night air without a trace, leaving Leonard wondering if the bullet even existed at all. He touches the spot on his hand where he felt the bullet pass through. He wipes sweat off his brow, and somewhere near the ground, an audience member coughs.

Leonard crouches down on hands and knees and sees the eyes of audience members peering out at him through the electrical socket. He reaches his hand out and the socket shocks him.

“Ow!” he pulls back his hand. “Why did you do that?!” he yells.

“You were shooting at us,” they reply in unison.

“You were ruining my performance,” he says. “I’m not continuing until you agree to behave.”

He stares through the holes in the electrical socket. The audience is silent. A humming sound starts building up from the electrical socket. Lightning cracks, striking from the socket to Leonard’s head.

“Ow, motherf—why did you shock me again?” He leaps up and throws his arms up in frustration. “I wasn’t going to shoot you again.”

Electricity arcs from the socket onto the carpet.

“You are the absolute worst audience I’ve ever had!” He jumps up onto the bed, watching the electricity dancing on the carpet.

The audience laughs. “Dance, monkey,” they say in unison.

“You know what? Fuck this. Show’s over.” He leaps from the bed through the window out into the open air, with twenty stories of nothing beneath him.

Except the twenty stories come up way too fast and feel more like a studio floor just outside the set. He lays on a bed of fake glass, sore from the ache of concrete slapping his body hard. The audience roars with raucous laughter.

“Cut!” the director yells. “Take fifteen while we reset the window and go again from the top. Audience, you were fantastic.” The director is a seven-foot-tall android wearing a black turtleneck and beret. No pants covering its chrome legs and genderless crotch. “Leonard, Leonard, Leonard,” the director walks over to the actor and lifts him effortlessly with one hand. “This is your big scene, the one that’s going to really take you places. Cut the actor-vs-audience schlock and embrace them. Remember the script, Leonard.” The director flicks his hand against a single piece of paper that matches Leonard’s. “This is all about the actor-vs-self. You can do it, I believe in you.”

Leonard brushes broken glass from his clothes then walks off to the prop room. When he comes back, the stage has been reset, the director waiting for him, as is the audience.

“And…action!” the director calls.

Instead of taking the door into the set, Leonard leaps through the newly mended stage window, axe in hand. He roars loud and mighty and the audience screams.

“Cut!” the director calls. “Leonard, what the fuck are you doing?”

Leonard ignores the director and swings his axe at the wall. The audience is freaking out. Electricity sparks wild and erratic from the socket. So much that the carpet catches fire.

“No, Leonard, stop!” the director yells, getting up from his chair to intervene.

Leonard hacks a massive hole in the wall and rips the plaster away with his bare hands. He reaches in. He can hear the audience scurrying through the wall to avoid him. He clutches on to something and rips it out.

A baby turtle.

“Put me down!” it screams.

He tosses it out the window and cuts a bigger hole in the wall, rips giant chunks of it away, exposing hundreds of baby turtles scurrying away from him.

“No!” they scream.

He grabs a handful of turtles and shovels them into his mouth, crunching down on their softened shells. His mouth fills with their blood and guts and screams.

He reaches in for more, but a cold steel arm wraps around his neck, blocking off oxygen to his brain, causing him to choke and spit masticated turtle out onto the set. He loses consciousness at the director’s hand, going limp and sliding to the floor, the room going up in flames around them.

The fire sprinklers come on, and in the smoke and fire and rain, Leonard’s body on the floor begins to move.

He comes to on a completely different set, the skylights burning into his eyes as he lays on his back, moving against his will, as the hundreds of remaining audience turtles carry him away. He turns his head from side to side and sees that this stage is huge. The biggest he’s ever seen. He is in a massive field, with trees that stretch hundreds of meters towards the ceiling, and the horizon is a distant wall he can hardly even see. He tries to get up but can’t. He is entirely at his audience’s mercy.

He can hear birds and crickets and the breeze rustling through trees and flowers and rushing water growing louder. The rustling sound of little turtle feet dragging through grass, and then little turtle feet sliding on stone. An incline. A bridge. They stop in the middle of the bridge, the sound of rushing water at its loudest. And a new sound to the scene.

*snap snap*

He feels sweat rolling down his forehead to his neck. The audience turtles drop him onto the hard stone ground and bustle away.

*snap snap*

He stands up and stares at a full-grown adult snapping audience turtle, as tall as he is and wide and round like a spaceship, surrounded by her darling audience turtle babies. She shuffles forward and snaps at his genitals. He falls over backwards, blood fountaining from his crotch, the hero of this tour-de-force bleeding out and spitting profanities at the mother turtle while the audience laughs the hardest they ever have. The mother chews her meal, blood dribbling down her chin to dry a maroon-brown, darkening the stains that were already there.

Leonard rolls into the river, landing on decomposed flesh, and the mother turtle ambles back across the bridge and starts walking downstream, where the water tastes the most delicious.


S.T. Cartledge is a weird fiction author, poet, and book blogger. His books include The Orphanarium, Girl in the Glass Planet, Kaiju Canyon, and Beautiful Madness, amongst others. You can follow him on his blog, facebook, twitter, Instagram, and patreon.


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New Release: Polymer


“Purple Rain meets Castlevania. That’s the gothic-wrought-iron-elevator-to-the-next-level-of-the-haunted-castle pitch for Polymer, and while it’s dead-on it still only scratches the blood-patinaed surface of Caleb Wilson’s dazzling debut. It’s a postmodern examination of the turbulent confluence of celebrity and spectatorship and fandom. It’s a carnivalesque romp, teeming with bizarre monsters, stranger heroes, otherwordly action, and mutagenic music. It’s lovely, funny, and as unique as a rock opera collaboration between Calvino and the Purple One. This is what it sounds like when bats cry.” — Jesse Bullington, author of The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart

You’ve seen monster hunts before. You’ve watched as a guy with throwing axes and ninja stars ascends stairs to fight a big furry werewolf with tentacles or a floating head of indeterminate origin. You’ve seen hunters. But you’ve never seen Polymer. Polymer’s got style, Polymer’s got sex appeal, Polymer’s got panache. And you, lucky reader, get to join us right behind the glass in Sickleburg Castle where the battle of the century is about to commence. Who is the man behind the music, the monsters, the guts, the gore and the glory? Get ready for an event like no other.

Get it here

New Release: Giantess Globalist Sperm War


In a future maybe not so distant from today, a dirty bomb has been dropped and humanity is forever changed. The boys who didn’t die stayed the same but the women grew into giantesses—walking gods as tall as the mountains. To remake a new and better world, all post-pubescent men were eaten and killed, and the boys who were left were rounded up to live in The Pen and learn to become better men. One of those boys, Tyson, waits on Eve Night—the night before the giantess select who will be reborn through their womb. Men themselves are now the sperm and each giantess selects ten of their favorite men to enter the giant vagina and compete to be the winner and reborn as a baby. Tyson wants the childhood that was taken away from him during World War III, but he must learn to work, fight, and help the 9 others if he wants to be a baby again.

“De Sandra creates a world that plays with edible men, female anatomy, misandry, and what would happen if Beyoncé was as big as a skyscraper. This is giantess fetish at its most lurid and comical, while quietly illustrating the poignant isolation of divided gender.” –Devora Gray, Author of Human Furniture and the Quest for the Perfect Woman

Get it here

New Release: Monsters and Animals


MONSTERS – In one family’s home there is a section of the basement locked-up. After their mother doesn’t come home and their drunk dad refuses to contact the authorities, the kids take it upon themselves to uncover their family’s secrets. What they find is more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.

ANIMALS – In New York City, there is an underground S&M scene where any decadent and depraved pleasure can be had for a price. When a young man gets caught up in the scene and disappears, his friends go in search. But their path will lead them to the darkest pits of human desire.

MONSTERS AND ANIMALS is two novella prequels to the cult favorite hardcore horror masterpiece SURVIVOR. This edition also includes two more bonus stories, “Shooting Schedule” and “Mabel’s Recipies,” that further explore the world of SURVIVOR.

Get it here

Flash Fiction Friday: The Sea Slugs

by: Chris Meekings

The man
sailed up to the window.
He was in a coracle
made of a half coconut.
His lips thick with spittle.
His beard was grey and grizzled
long and matted.
Around his neck was hung a bloodied pigeon,
alternate white and red,
with the sign “Albatross” pinned to it.
He wore a bright yellow sou’ester and oil skin
slick with rain and fish guts.
It glinted like ruby suns in custard.
He hailed me
with one hand made of menial things
as I drank my coffee.
I opened the shutter,
The air rushed in
filled with the scent of rum,
rotten seaweed and snow.

“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
he cried.
I was taken aback.
I had not known this.
The icebergs outside,
sitting like meringues on deep blueberry curd,
and the sea
up to the lighthouse’s foot.
Disposable he said?
What to do with this information?
Was it relevant?
I consulted my washing up in the sink.
The spoons thought it was nonsense.
The plate abstained.
The forks thought all information was relevant.
The knives cut my finger.
Blood billowed into the soapy water.

The sailor cried again,
in a voice filled with thunder and love,
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
many years before the mast had he stood?
long had he held this piece of knowledge?
Long voyages to the Arctic north.
The tales the sailor could tell.
His words
struck a chord in me.
I looked down at my crossword.
That didn’t fit!
Two across was Tuscaloosa.
The man was obviously an oaf.

He snarled and spat,
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
Repeated, again and again,
over and over.
A death knell chorus.
It felt like an anchor,
something to hold onto as the world span around me.
Unexpected knowledge,
perplexing and coiling.
Perhaps it was a code?
I shouted back to him,
“Thank you!”
hoping that this was the answering cypher.
Perhaps the tomb would open
and wondrous treasure would be discovered?

His brow creased like a furrowed field.
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
he insisted, shaking a foot at me.
“You’re obsessed, man!”
I doubled down.
“It’s the intense cold. It’s got to you!
Rub yourself down with seal fat
and get up against something warm.
It’s what I’d do in your situation.”
He bobbed about
in his coconut coracle,
anger clouded his cheeks.
“I can recommend a good prostitute,”
I offered.
The wind bit and clawed at his face.
Aged, etched lines
of beautiful suffering.
much sea had he eaten in his time?
many whales had he made love to?
“Are you enjoying this?”
I asked, dipping my tie in the potted lemming.

“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
a howl, an ululation.
I stared down at the telegram
folded unceremoniously
on the kitchen counter,
like a dirty oyster,
filled with a poisonous pearl.
Dear Sir,
Owing to an outbreak
of political apathy,
we cordially invite you to
World War 3.
Signed The Ministry.
I considered its consequences.
Blood and bullets.
Ill-fitting uniforms.
Healthy exercise.
Medals and parades.
“I don’t want to join in,”
I said to the sailor,
“I’ll just keep score.”

“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
he replied.
There was no hope.
wouldn’t he let it go?
was it my responsibility?
The sun stayed where it was,
suspended on the horizon
in fat broken eggshells.
I licked my lips.
This was the very nub of the problem.
Time was obviously wrong.
The washing up had gone rotten.
Old blood, black and
coagulated on the dirty plates.
had it come from?
had bled this blue link to ancestry?

The sailors eyes,
runny and red,
tinged with herring,
cried gloomy tears.
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
A tremulous cry in
the freezing air,
wiped away by wandering wind,
lost to the elements.
He pushed off with an oar,
scratching brick sounds,
like breaking chopsticks.
The coracle slapped and
bluffed on the dark, icy waves.
I waved a solitary hand,
My friend left,
disappearing to ventures new,
to give his advice to others that might hear.
I plunged my hands back into
the icy water of the washing up.
A cooling balm to sooth my
fevered mind.
The sea slug slithered
up my leg,
leaving a sticky trail of mucus.
it slipped its penis
into the wound on my thigh.


Chris Meekings lives in the city of Gloucester in the UK. If you’d ever been to Gloucester you’d understand why he sits inside and makes things up. He’s the author of the bizarro novella Elephant Vice (Eraserhead Press) and the metaphysical fantasy novel Ravens and Writing Desks (Omnium Gatherum). He is still 58 weasels in a trench coat, just looking for love.


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New Release: Failure As a Way of Life


Ryan Noman is stuck in a house on a dead end street in a dying city, a loveless relationship, and a job where the owner challenges his employees to fights in the parking lot. He also has a mystery rash. When Ryan’s best friend, Gus, convinces him they need to contaminate the source of the artisanal bottled water facility where they work, Ryan goes along with it because, hey, what else is he going to do? This proves to be another bad choice in an increasingly lengthening list of bad choices in Ryan’s life. It changes everything, leaving both Ryan and Gus transformed. Thus begins Ryan’s oddly comic stumbling through his dark night of the soul in a book best described as “self-help for the helpless.”

Get it here

S.T. Cartledge Presents: YOU READ MY PODCAST

Bizarro author, poet, and Australian S.T. Carledge has created something in total defiance of all the sea of podcasts that saturates the internet. This new and groundbreaking interview format features all the candid conversation of a podcast… but you can read it. That’s right: real, emotional, boundary-breaking revelations and soul-searching dialogue, all in the familiar format of words.


You might say it’s a blog or an interview or whatever, but RESULTS MATTER. As someone who partook in this interview, I can say that it was a pleasure to chat with S.T. Cartledge, and he really steered the conversation into some interesting areas. He’s already put down some fantastic talks with other bizarro authors like Kirk Jones and Justin Grimbol. Head over to YOU READ MY PODCAST for these stories and more to come.