Sunday, February 28, 2010

If You See a Fisherman, You Better Look Away

Deborah Walker

Alice pushed her mother around the park. It was a cold and blustery morning, a miserable day. A fine, dirty rain drenched them both. At one time, her mother would have called it ‘mucky weather’. They came to the park every morning, come rain or shine. Alice needed to get out of the house.

Alice pushed the wheelchair into the Memorial Garden, where thieves had stripped the Memorial and sold the names of the war-dead for the price of scrap metal.

Alice saw the fisherman, dressed in scales that caught the light even in the feeble November sun, a man-shape with the face of an ocean beast. He stood immobile in his impenetrable armour, an unseen force-field which repelled all earthly weapons.

Alice stared at him, transfixed, as he turned his head, so slowly, as if moving through water. He returned her gaze with white-filmed, unblinking eyes.

Alice was caught. She was drowning in the star seascape of his old-eyed imagination. She washed clean in the unconceivable sights of his understandings.

The fisherman broke the connection. He walked past Alice and out of the gate.

Alice stood gasping in the Memorial Garden. She looked around. She was alone. Alice had heard stories of groups of concerned citizens who were prepared to take action, the vigilantes prepared to root out any alien taint.

“Alice,” asked the thin voice of her mother. “Who was that? Was it the devil?” Mother was confused, sometimes.

“No, Mum. Remember, I told you about the fishermen. They live here now. We can’t get rid of them.”

Alice crouched down to face her trembling mother. “Did he look at you, Mum? Did he do anything strange to you?”

“I don’t know what you mean, Alice.”

Alice pushed her mother home. Pretend that everything is normal, pretend that you’re still normal and everything will be fine.


Alice sat in the living room, thinking about everything she had heard about the fisherman. Fishermen copy your mind and upload your emotions. Alice shivered. She had felt the touch of his strange mind. Then they sell you. There’s a thriving market for mind clones in the universe, apparently. Her life, her mind, which seemed so ordinary to Alice, would be considered an exotic, marketable commodity. Alice imagined herself copied into the body of some robot, insect, wave form, another species of life relishing her mind. There might be thousands of her mind clones, already.

The fisherman will copy and corrupt you. Her clone mind would be compelled to do new things. Who knows what strange desires might arise when merged in a new body?

What should she do? Should she join one of the self-help groups? Should she turn herself over to the government to assist their research? Alice shuddered.

No. Her first instinct was correct. She would carry on with her normal life, and wait. She wondered if anyone else felt like her.

“Alice,” the familiar sound of her mother echoed through the house.

Alice walked to her mother’s bedroom, “Mum, are you alright? You don’t feel strange do you?”

“Is that devil coming again? He wants to steal your soul, Alice.”

Alice thought how strange it was to imagine herself elsewhere, spinning through the universe in other bodies. She would sense a small part of her mind clones. They would send her psychic postcards though the immeasurable distances of space.

Everyone said it was a terrible thing to be copied and spun into a different body. It was the ultimate theft. The government was frantic. They could not rid the Earth of the fisherman.

We will become less than human.

“Don’t worry mum,” said Alice. She felt a twinge, and an image of an endless dark nebulae entered her mind.

Alice smiled.

A fisherman had copied Alice’s soul.

And she liked it.


After a twenty year period of procrastination Deborah Walker has started to write short stories, poetry and tweets. She lives in London with her partner Chris and her two lovely, yet distracting young children. Find her horror stories in Bards and Sages, Champagne Shivers, Innsmouth Free Press, Tweet the Meat, and the following anthologies: Creature Feature, Zombonauts, Scroll of Anubis, Zombology VI: Flash Fiction, Horror Through the Ages, Alienology, Night of the Giving Dead, The Morons’ Guide to the Inevitable Zombocalypse, and Through the Eyes of the Undead.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Delicately Beautiful Haunting

by Mercedes M. Yardley

She reached out for his hand. It was natural. It was what they had always done.
He wrapped his bony fingers around her soft ones.

“Are you certain that you want to do this?” he asked her. His voice was strained.

He wanted to blame it on his decaying larynx, but that wasn't entirely it. He cleared his throat, tried again. The same tight, rough voice. “You know that you don't have to.”

She didn't say anything for a long while, but stood perfectly still. Her pink toes were lined up neatly with the edge of the cliffs. Water rushed and roared beneath her bare feet.

“It's beautiful,” she said.

The wind tossed her hair around her face and pulled at her clothes. It made a strange morose whistling through the holes in his cheeks. For a brief moment, he was deeply ashamed of his appearance, of what he had become. As if she knew what he was thinking, she tightened her grip on his hand.

“I'm glad that you came back,” she said. “You don't know what it was like living without you.”

Simple words simply said, but they touched what was left of his heart. He would have cried if he had been able to.

She looked at the sky. “I thought that it would get better, that I would forget you eventually. Isn't that what they always say?”

He studied her profile. Her eyes were sad, but nothing else had changed. He spoke softly.

“I don't know if I want you to do this. I don't think you understand what you're giving up.”

She turned to him and smiled.

“I just want to be with you. It won't work with you being on my side, so I'll cross over to yours.” She looked at the water and laughed. “I think that I'm a little scared.”

He took both of her hands and pulled her to him.

“I'm with you. Just look at me. Think about something that will make you happy. Remember our first dance?”

Her eyes lit up. She remembered. She remembered and it was time.

He nodded his head slowly. “Keep thinking about that.”

He had planned to nudge her but she surprised him. She took a deep breath and let herself fall.

The sound of the wind and water blurred together. He wrapped his arms tighter around her, protectively, as if he could somehow shield her delicate bones from the rocks and thrashing surf.

He couldn't, of course. That was the whole point. But he didn't know if he could listen to her fragile body break against the stones, or failing that, watch her gasp for breath under the waves. Would she cling to him? Would she scream his name? Would she push him away? All of these thoughts came so quickly, but they had only been falling for two seconds, maybe three.

“That song that you used to sing. The moon song. How do the lyrics go again? After you died, I couldn't remember them.”

He was surprised but pleased. “The wolf comes from the forest and howls at—”

When it happened, it happened in silence. She made no sound, and his thoughts were swirling in the wolf-filled moon.


Mercedes M. Yardley writes about beauty and horror. They are more intertwined than you might think. Visit her blog at

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Second Sight

It ran like an unending torrent of hot molasses, like the seaweed green vomit extruding from little Regan's mouth in the Exorcist. Blood. So much of it. Too much of it, pouring from the old man's eyes.

"I can see… I can see…"

It was all the old man had been saying since he was brought in to the emergency room.

"Where was he found again?" said Doctor Marks, plastic face shield securely in place.

Nurse Penny pulled her eyes away from the twin rivers of blood long enough to comment. "In an alley behind St. Joseph's church. A nun heard him howling and called 911."

"Bet she thought it was stigmata." The doctor shined his penlight in the old man's eyes and flicked it to the side. "There doesn't seem to be any damage to the eyes themselves. The source of the bleeding appears to be anterior."

"But, Doctor, if his brain were hemorrhaging, wouldn't it be exiting his ears, nose or mouth. Why just the eyes?"

"Some hemorrhaging can be more localized. It's rare with the brain, however." The doctor continued to hover over the old man, shining his penlight. "Strange…"

As Doctor Marks moved in for a closer inspection, the old man's body convulsed. Veined hands with gnarled fingers reached up for the light. "I can see… I can see…" the old man cried, his voice hoarse, his neck strained. The old man then collapsed, his breathing and the flow of his blood slowing to a stop.

"Should we call it? Doctor?"

Doctor Marks had turned away to avoid the old man's death-throe spasm. He turned back to Nurse Penny and the now deceased patient. "I'm sorry, nurse. Yes…time of death --" Doctor Marks squinted at the clock on the wall. His vision momentarily blurred. "Four fourteen p.m."
He removed the face shield, snapped off his gloves and untied his gown, and tossed them into the trash. "Nurse, I'll be in the private lounge if anyone needs me."

For Doctor Marks, it felt like a headache was coming on. The hallway light hurt his eyes. The lounge was dark and empty. He went straight to the couch and stretched out.

Funny how, even though it was dark, he could see a strange illumination. The outline of the room glowed like a polarized picture. What was dark was light, and what was light--like the thin line underneath the room's entrance--was dark. Even with his eyes shut, he saw light, tiny streamers, as if he were looking into a microscope at the blood vessels in his eyelids. He got to his feet and walked to the bathroom, unsure of what was happening.

He flicked on the light and an explosion of stars filled his vision. The image in the mirror was hideous, nothing but veins and corpuscles and filarial wisps of moving fluid. In his eyes were twin upside-down crosses, death signs, burned into his retinas.

He wanted to scream but instead his mind replayed the incident with the emergency room patient--only from the old man's point of view. He saw himself hovering over him, the penlight shining like a beacon into his eyes. Then came the sudden convulsion, and a single drop of blood rose upward, arcing in slow motion in an unnatural trajectory, above the face shield, landing in his eye.

A sudden hunger gnawed at the doctor's gut and he doubled over in pain.

He shut off the light off and stumbled out of the lounge into the hallway. He needed to get back to the emergency room. Along the way he was assaulted by all manner of hideous replicas of human transformation: goblin, devil and demon faces; some asked if he was all right.
But nothing was all right, nothing would ever be right again, unless…

He burst into the emergency room, avoiding the stares of ghastly maintenance men and grotesque nurses, and lurched over to where the old man had died. A plastic basin sat on the floor, the old man's blood still in it. He picked up the basin. In the blood he saw creatures swirling, amoeba-like, the substance of life. Before anyone could stop him he tipped the basin to his lips and gulped the thick liquid. The room spun and he collapsed.


Some time later Doctor Marks awoke. Nurse Penny leaned over him. "Doctor, how are you feeling?"

He stared at her. She was the most beautiful creature on the planet. He took a deep breath. The air was sweet.

"I can see," he said. "I can see."


Kurt Newton lives as a recluse in the woods of northeast Connecticut. He has been spotted on his plot of land harvesting grubs from rotted logs, setting tripwires for small animals and drinking from fresh water streams. He uses wood pulp and dried viscera to make the paper on which he writes his stories. He drives a black Ford Focus.