by: Martin Rutley
It was late, Saturday night, when they brought me in. Strapped to a stretcher, disinfectant smeared into the corners of my eyes, the smell of petroleum in their greasy sideburns. Dressed in the green and gray of the company uniform, each of the six had joyously taken his turn at the head of the pack. They fired off their questions, one after the other, their voices all baby talk and laughter—Who cut your gooky fucking hair? How’s your pancreas feel about the pre-cancerous cells in your liver? Is that Benzo Fury in your bloodstream? Are you aware those idiots at the CIA can’t work so much as a soda machine? Did you know Andromeda’s fucking Ryan from data capture? What kind of schmuck reads Asimov with a hairbrush in his ass? This wasn’t a dissection of what it was made me tick—they didn’t give a shit about the ins and outs of a rodent like me—this was an institution at play, a muscle, uneasy at rest, flexing itself.
I was beaten into the early hours of the morning. A solid workout for the boys on night shift. Each put in his fair share, no slacking or slipping out for a quick cigarette in the reading room—these boys were keen. Of the six, Hunter’s blows landed hardest. He continued long after the others had had their fill. He ended with a particularly brutal strike to the base of the spine—The Hunter Ray Heel Kick, he’d christened it—a signature maneuver none of the others had attempted. Several of them had marveled at his movement—the fluidity of force from deltoid to extensor, the anatomical precision inherent in a curving knee strike to the hepatic duct of a functioning liver. Finally, I was stripped to the waist and given a near-lethal dose of Seventh Heaven, a well-known ventromedial manipulator and driver of grunt warfare since 2037.
“Side effect city,” someone yelled. “Hold on to your DNA.”
“Hold on to your cahoonas,” yelled another.
As he’d spoken, the electrons in the heavy elements of my body abandoned their orbits and I collapsed into a pre-biological soup of ionized hydrogen. I reemerged a nanosecond or so later and pulled on the trigger of a .45 jammed against the roof of my mouth.
“Bang,” yelled Hunter, and the others erupted into what my ex-wife would have described as spasms of ‘screw you’ laughter.
He knelt with uncanny grace and pressed his face into mine. “Makes you cry for Mommy, don’t it?” he whispered.
Later, the others filed silently from the room—not separately, but as one—hairless mandibles held high in the air.
Hunter must have been a hundred feet tall. Had he wanted, he could have ground me into the earth and joined the others for baked lobster fideo or whatever it was these people ate. He assured me he was a killer of some reputation. He’d risen through the ranks of the corporation due to a willingness to do what others wouldn’t. I gave him everything with a candor I hadn’t known I possessed—a complete schematic of my habits and tendencies, end of the world codes, exit points, atom hacks, bombs strapped to the underside of elephants in crowded malls at Christmas—children tugging at their leathery ears, time holes, reset procedures, insert generators—I betrayed everyone and everything dear to me.
Hunter applauded and folded into a smile that pulled at the lids of his eyes. “These elephants, Mr. Lewis, do they exist?”
“If I shut off the TV once in a while, they would.”
“Inserts,” I said. “Harvested from interstellar space and nano-engineered to resist all known modes of interrogation—terrestrial or otherwise. Exquisite animals.”
“Including the Abdominal Slap?”
“Yes, sir—in more than a thousand documented simulations.”
He crouched, scooped me into his hand, and raised me level with his enormous face. Were he to swallow me whole, I’d sit in his small intestine and drift into in a telepathic union.
A single, giant tear descended his cheek. “I want a million of those things.”
I stood and extended my arms perpendicularly in search of at least minimal balance. “I’ll need a quantum entangler, a hundred billion dollars, identity reconstruction, and five hundred thousand square feet of prime off-planet real estate.”
He pursed his lips and blew, rotating his wrist as he did so. I fell into his palm and grabbed at the base of his pinky finger. His hand upturned, I hung helplessly and waited for him to speak.
“Little man, we’re going to save your life,” he said.
He’d spoken carefully, rigidly—as though repeating words previously reordered and rehearsed in his mind. Perhaps the Seventh Heaven was talking, but there was compassion in those dark, cavernous eyes and I couldn’t wait to begin.
Martin Rutley lives in Manchester, UK. His short fiction has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Pedestal Magazine, Locus Novus, The Fortean Bureau, Vestal Review, and Raven Chronicles. He also makes films—some disturbing, some batshit crazy. You can stream Amnesiac on Amazon.
Send your weird little stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sam Reeve
My rating: 6.5/10
Directed by the legendary Mario Bava, Black Sabbath is quite a noteworthy horror anthology film. The piece titled The Wurdulak stars the equally legendary Boris Karloff, and all the actresses from the movie are total babes. You can’t go wrong!
Fun fact: the famous band Black Sabbath apparently named themselves after this film.
In The Telephone we have a beautiful woman who’s terrorized by phone calls and a vengeful acquaintance. In The Wurdulak, Boris Karloff comes back as a vampire and attacks his family of peasants. Our final piece, The Drop of Water, is a ghostly tale about a nurse who steals a ring from a dead woman and gets haunted.
All three are fairly suspenseful and well acted, but the final one was probably the creepiest. The lady’s corpse had a pretty terrifying expression on her face:
By Sam Reeve
If you’re a regular follower here, you may recall last October was Japanese Horror Month, and each day I shared a different j-horror film to celebrate Halloween.
This year will be slightly different, but just as awesome. Starting Tuesday, Oct. 1st, I’ll feature a different country’s horror movie each day. That’s right – 31 different countries, six continents, and lots of blood, screams and laughter.
Like last year, I’ll post a link to where you can find the movies on Youtube for free!
Don’t miss it.
I wrote a children’s fantasy novel for my graduate school thesis. I’m not sure if I would have attempted the endeavor if I wasn’t a student. I wanted to challenge myself rather than remain within my comfort zone. And writing the book was a lot more difficult than I had expected.
I see a lot of similarities between children’s fantasy novels and many bizarro novels. Take away the sex and violence, the black humor, the disturbing subject matter—and it will often result in a book that is appropriate for children. A book they will enjoy. But with their adult subject matter, most bizarro books read as if they’re books for teenagers whose mothers would flip out if they knew what their children were reading. It reminds me of horror movies before the PG-13 trend. Before that, filmmakers made R rated movies that were obviously for a teenage audience even though the ratings board felt the movies may have contained material that was inappropriate for anyone under 17. Bizarro is similar, but can be far more extreme.
Children are more open to the weird than adults. They like to use their imaginations and appreciate it when writers use their imaginations as much as they do. The definition of the word “fantasy” is “imagination, especially when extravagant and unrestrained.” The majority of the fantasy books written for adults do not meet this definition. They are restrained by ideas that earlier writers conceived of and inspired by such things as J.R.R. Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons.
The subgenre known as The New Weird is a notable exception, but its prose shares similarities with literary (or “adult”) fiction. While bizarro resembles The New Weird, except for its profane content and prose styles that usually have more in common with literature for children and young adults than literary fiction.
While the majority of adult fantasy may involve elves and dragons and magicians, most children’s fantasy concern protagonists having experiences that are strange and entirely new to them (and the reader). Sometimes this involves a journey through a fantastical land of the author’s unrestrained imagination and sometimes it involves the impossible interacting with protagonist’s own world and life. Although there isn’t a lack of children’s fantasy novels that resemble their adult counterparts, but the prose style is less challenging. Perhaps the typical adult fantasy book exists for the sake of nostalgia and a desire for the readers to remain in familiar territory rather than surround themselves with an extravagant imagination. While readers and writers of bizarro allow themselves to embrace their imaginations. At times, bizarro can be a difficult genre to explain. The books can be extremely diverse. There is a bizarro book that can be categorized under almost every fiction genre in existence. But the simplest way to explain bizarro is to just say, “Bizarro books are weird. This is what makes them bizarro. This is what they have in common.” They may have other similarities such as black humor and unreal situations, but weirdness is their unifying factor.
Overall, bizarro books are just a lot of fun to read. Children’s fantasy also have this quality. It’s as if bizarro and children’s fantasy belong to the same family. The fantasy is like a ten-year-old boy who can turn a trip to the park with his friends into a wonderful adventure that he mostly has inside his head, while bizarro is the boy’s fun-loving crazy uncle that the boy’s parents try not to speak about in their son’s presence.
Bradley Sands is the author of Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, Sorry I Ruined Your Orgy, and My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes! He edits Bust Down the Door and Eat all the Chickens.