Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Trouble with Gnomes

by Jamie Eyberg

The lilac had come into bloom so we slept with the window open, enjoying the fragrance as it filled our bedroom. It was through the open window that we heard them. They were small but sharp, not unlike the sound of ice cubes exploding in a water glass from across a room.

I got up to see what was going on, thinking, perhaps, that a spring shower was moving in and the drops of rain were falling on the leaves.

I saw instead the moon, full and high in the sky. It illuminated the first buds of the roses and the petunias that had yet to establish themselves. Still the popping continued and I peered into the night to see what was the source.

That was when I saw the gnomes. The ones she had bought in bulk from the garden center. I watched as they all began to move, trembling really, the small concrete bodies crackled and popped as they did.

It was slight at first, then the rock facade crumbled and the gnomes moved more freely until they were running about, ransacking the garden and taking joy in pulling the petals from the flowers one by one. They stomped them into the dirt as they walked on small hoof-like prints that cut through the hard soil.

I said nothing but felt my wife come up beside me. We watched as they upended the fairy statue I had given her, the one with the bouquet of lilies in her arms, and buried it in the compost pile we had started the year before. The leftovers from the night before were still fresh on top and even in the dull light of the moon I could see rotting potatoes and eggshells.

We gasped as they took a brick that edged the walk path and threw it. It smashed into the fairy and shattered her into a thousand bits of ceramic and dust. They laughed a coarse laugh as we watched it disintegrate. I couldn't help but notice that some of them were eying the birdbath in a most conspicuous manner.

It was the gasp that got us. They must have heard it through the thin walls and the open window. They turned their attention from the broken fairy and the birdbath and looked at us.

Hundreds of little eyes looked at us with ill intent and fresh bricks, torn from the earth as they came our way.

The only thing in their way was the window.

We both eyed the door and I almost opened it when she grasped my arm and I realized it opened into the garden. The first brick hit the window and a crack spirals across the glass.


Jamie Eyberg is a full time father and a part time writer. He has a few stories out in publication land and you can see where in the right hand side of his blog at He doesn't like to garden.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Swept Away

by Brenton Tomlinson

His tongue flicked out and dragged across parched and cracked lips. He held a grease-stained hand above his eyes in an effort to decrease the never-ending glare of the crystal blue water. In the distance, a bank of black and grey clouds marked the tail of last night’s storm. Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

The yacht was a mess with tangled lines littering a battered deck. The mast had disappeared before midnight, the distress beacon flashing from the top as it sank beneath the black waters. If rescue came it wouldn’t be because they managed to track that cry for help which now sat at the bottom of the ocean god knows how many miles to the south.

Mary-Anne had disappeared overboard about an hour later, quietly slipping into the ocean’s embrace. In truth she looked peaceful and glad to go. Talk of separation had always been unpleasant to her, a reality she couldn’t face. News of a replacement and pending divorce papers had been too much.

The fight had been short, but every bit as violent as the storm. His own much vaunted mast of patience having broken long before the yacht’s central pillar relinquished to nature’s torment. The boat hook was too convenient an object not to use, and Mary-Anne should have learned by now when not to push. The look of surprise and fear, mixed with a touch of betrayal, on his ex-wife’s face lingered in his mind’s eye.

The storm had washed away his torment and ruined his boat, but it had scrubbed the deck clean of Mary-Anne’s blood as well. It had been easy, a moment of rage, a flexing of his superior strength, and the barbed steel penetrated her body more easily than he ever had. It had been difficult to pull it back out, but the thought was quickly forgotten when he drove it back in. The rush had been better than sex.

Rescue would see him start a new life with Trisha. If not, then maybe being claimed by the tainted waters would be a form of nature’s justice. He shrugged and returned to trying to fix the engine. He’d kill for something to drink.

A smile crept across his face as a warm feeling grew in his gut. Well, he’d kill again for something to quench his thirst. He gripped the brine encrusted wrench tightly as a bubbling laugh crept through him.

Somehow he’d survive, he had to. Trisha wouldn’t understand anymore than Mary-Anne had, but his new thirst had to be sated.

While living in a sun drenched country is nice, he finds his mind continually delves into places that are not so warm and comforting. Strangely he seems to enjoy this. Writing credits include:52 Stitches 2009, Fear and Trembling, and Yellow Mama. New work will be published in: The Blackness Within anthology from Apex and Night to Dawn magazine. He is the editor for Blade Red Press Dark Pages Volume 1 anthology. And for something different, he is currently working on a YA novel. For more information you can read his blog at Musings of an Aussie Writer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


by Daniel LeMoal

Something is wrong at Crane’s Beach. I know because I've been living here and fishing The Lake all my life. If you walk a half-mile beyond the service road, you'll see a small trailer and a series of sheds. It looks like nothing, but it is my home.

It has been over two years since I started to notice the broken bones along the shoreline, cracked and as dry as driftwood. I've called Parks and Wildlife, Fisheries and even the police. They all tell me the same thing.

"This is floodland, J.P. Cows and all sorts of animals get washed away and end up in the lakes."

Since I was a boy, I have seen many things wash ashore here. I know the difference between an animal and a person.

"Thanks for the call. Next time we're out that way, we'll take a look for you. Okay?"

They never come. They figure that Crane's Beach is all rocks, no sand and no people. They are wrong. The odd family will come, looking to get away from the crowds at the sanded beaches. They put on old running shoes and brave the stones to go swimming. Sometimes they barbecue on the beach well into the evening. I have no family of my own, so when I hear them laughing and singing, it makes my heart glad. These people are my only family; even though they don't come often, they are always welcome. I try to keep the beach clean, collecting the broken bottles, rusted hooks and stray netting. But surely they see the bones. I can't keep up anymore. Crane's Beach never gets many repeat visitors these days.

One Saturday, as I'm fixing one of my motors on the dock, I see a new couple walking on the beach. They make a camp for their lawn chairs and walk towards The Lake. The man and woman both scream, as they all do when they make those first steps into the frigid water. It's a big lake that never warms up.

My dog, Mahkwa, suns himself and watches as I put the motor back together. When I'm finished, I look at him and smile. That's when I see his ears perk up; over the wind, I hear more yelling from the beach. I can hear panic in their voices.

Mahkwa is already running down the shoreline. In the water, I see the couple swimming towards a flailing set of arms. A child? Maybe. Whoever it is, they are drowning.

I jump into my fastest outboard boat. Mahkwa barks at me as I speed away from land, the boat skipping on the waves. Past the break, the couple is floating together now; as I kill the motor and drift towards them, I see that the water has turned a cloudy red.

The man is already dead. The woman still holds onto him, keeping them both afloat. Even though a piece of her neck is missing, she tries to speak.

"The girl," she says, as her eyes start to roll into the back of her head. I look further out and see a small child floating in the water, face down. It's hard to leave the woman behind, but I rev the motor and steer towards the girl. I use my net to pull her towards me; she weighs next to nothing. When I pull her into the boat, she is already cold. Her skin is scaly to the touch. I roll the girl over and her eyes open; her mouth is filled with needle-like teeth that should belong to a walleye.

I recoil but she's already bitten into my leg, tearing away a large chunk of muscle. I kick with my other leg and fall overboard. She stands in the boat, watching as I try to swim away. I don't get very far; I've lost too much blood already. From behind, I can hear her as she jumps into the water.

Not like this, not like this, I whisper to myself. But then I grow faint and realize that it won't be long before my bones are driftwood, just like all the others: being worn down by the tide until there is nothing but dust. Then, at last, Crane's Beach shall have its sand.


Daniel LeMoal lives and writes in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His work has previously appeared in On Spec, Apex Science Fiction & Horror Digest and Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year anthology.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Worm Eaters

by John Boden

Lawrence watched the rains from his station underneath the carport. The clouds had literally rumbled in from nowhere, great black bison lumbering across the rainbow plain of sky. They snorted thunder and spat lightning. The sky opened and let loose a rain of maggots and worms that covered the ground in a fine, wriggling blanket. Children and emaciated adults scrambled from beneath their shelters to clamor and grab as many handfuls as they could, stuffing plastic bags and shoe boxes with living stringy things.

Some shoved great, gray handfuls into their slobbering, lipless mouths as they gathered. They moaned in disturbing ecstasy as they ate and cavorted in the slithering mud. In the shadows of his hiding place, Lawrence sat and watched and picked at the black sores that decorated his skinny legs. He popped the scabs into his eager mouth like candy, and, with disgust, grimaced at the worm eaters.


John Boden resides in the shadow of Three Mile Island with his wonderful wife and children. He is an editor for Shock Totem magazine.