ALL SAINTS BY ALEN TEN-HOEVE A STORY IN 3 PARTS

Horror, Short Stories

PART 3

The laxative I’d eaten after school had just taken effect. I’d been down the street begging for candy from behind a hockey mask when my stomach made that first unmistakable gurgle. I almost didn’t make it home in time.

While my insides emptied into the bowl and the stink rose around me, I heard trick-or-treaters on the street outside, laughing and whooping as they went from house to house, filling their bags and pillow cases, and remembered something Father Mognahan had said that week during his sermon: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.”

When the next morning arrived, I was one of only a few students who didn’t dress up for All Saints’ Day. My school uniform stuck out in a sea of fake beards, robes, and head coverings. The air was filled with the giddy anticipation that comes with any change to the usual, drab schedule. At lunchtime, kids shared and traded their Halloween candy from the night before. Piled it on the table in front of them to see who had the biggest haul. I opened my brown bag, set one single chocolate bar on the table beside my sandwich, and waited.

Saint Francis of Assisi and his disciples emerged from the crowd of other saints. They eyeballed the mounds of brightly wrapped candy on the tables and took anything they wanted. I didn’t watch, but I could feel Todd getting closer. As if we were connected by something spiritual. When he snatched my foil wrapped bar he slapped me so hard on the back I could feel it in my chest.

“Nice!” he said. “I was getting tired of those brownies.”

The smell of styling mousse and bad breath lingered as I watched Todd finish his rounds then sit with his buddies in the corner where they divvied up their take. One of the other saints reached for my chocolate bar. Todd smacked his hand away. I watched him rip off the foil, pull down his fake beard, and eat the whole bar, all twelve cubes in three big bites.

I unwrapped my sandwich and tried not to smile.

Next period I was sitting with my class in the church five pews from the front. The first row was reserved for those giving speeches. Mrs. Bonner, the organist, played a slow, indistinct tune as the saints, cloaked in the smoke of burning incense and led by Father Mognahan, slowly made their way down the aisle.

My body buzzed with anticipation. But I had to be patient. Father Mognahan talked for a long time. He read from Revelations, John, and Matthew. He gave a homily. And there were a lot of psalms and prayers to get through, a lot of standing and kneeling. More than in a regular mass. My ass went numb. It felt like it wasn’t there. I had no ass. I wondered if anyone else felt like they had no ass. I imagined leaning toward Sister Mary Ellen, loudly whispering, “Do you have an ass?” and tried not to laugh.

Finally it was time for the speeches.

Many of the girls had chosen to dress up as Joan Of Arc. They approached the pulpit wearing cardboard armor, hair tied up or hidden under short, dark wigs. It was hard to tell the boys apart. Saints didn’t care about individual style. Lots of robes, halos, beards and mumbling. The stained glass was dull. No sun. I watched the old Italian women light candles and pray.

Todd, the star of the show, went last.

I had watched the back of Todd’s head through the whole mass. He seemed calm. I started to worry something had gone wrong, but when he got up to give his speech, I saw the strained look on his face and forgot all about my numb ass. Beads of sweat trailed down Todd’s forehead as he read through the same script as the last two years. It dripped into his eyes and beard. Rolled down the long fake hairs. He wiped it away and knocked his halo crooked. The stigmata rubbed off, leaving a bright red smear on his forehead. He tried to read his speech faster but lost his place, stumbled over words. By the time Todd came to the part about how Saint Francis could tame wolves and flocks of birds, he was leaning on the pulpit like it was the only thing holding him up. Father Mognahan and the altar boys frowned at each other but didn’t move. Giggles bubbled up from the pews, followed by shushing sounds from nuns.

Todd came to the end. He talked about how Saint Francis died singing Psalm 141 and, breathing hard into the microphone, recited the words through gritted teeth, pausing longer and longer between each line. When he finished, “Guard me from the trap they have set for me, from the snares of evildoers,”he stopped short and clutched his arms around his stomach as a long, wet fart ripped through the silent church. The place erupted in screams and laughter that drowned out any shushing. Todd moaned into the microphone, backed away from the pulpit, and crumpled to the floor, ripping more farts on the way down. He tried to crawl away. A dark spot spread on the back of his robe. Something ran down his legs, into his stupid sandals. Then the smell crashed over everyone like an invisible wave.

“Todd shit himself!” someone called out.

Saints scattered from the pews. Todd’s buddies trampled each other to get away. Father Mognahan ran off into the sacristy with his stole pressed to his nose. A couple of nuns waddled up to Todd, tried to lift him to his feet and drag him away, their heads turned from the smell, faces pinched in disgust. Todd farted every time they tugged. A bird fell off his shoulder.

I stood up. Savored the tingling sensation as feeling returned to my ass cheeks. Looked around the church. Everyone fleeing. Retching. Laughing. Everyone except the old Italian women, who went about their business. Like nothing different was happening.


Alan ten-Hoeve wrote Notes from a Wood-Paneled Basement (Gob Pile Press), Burn-KLR10
(Malarkey Books), Bob and Me-From Parts Unknown Anthology (Daily Drunk Magazine).
Tweets @alantenhoeve

Dr Ryan and the Presence on the Stairs by Lorraine Murphy

Flash Fiction, Horror

Evelyn Ryan made a cup of tea and put her cat out. Taking her newspaper and mobile phone, she climbed the creaky staircase to bed. Living in the small but comfortable flat above the clinic was handy, modest living a choice for the conservative family doctor. A doctor who prided herself on never providing family planning services of any description under any circumstance.

Behind her, a stair creaked and she wobbled, scalding her hand with the tea. She hurried into her warm bedroom and closed her door, blowing on the emerging redness then undressed, slipping a long cotton nightie over her head. There was no mirror in the room; vanity had no place in a devout life. Kneeling on the white carpet, she joined her hands in prayer, and closed her eyes.

“Hail Mary –”

Something crashed downstairs and she called Anne, her receptionist.

“Doctor, it’s late.”

“Anne, I believe there is someone in my flat. Will you stay on the line while I investigate?”

“Doctor, I’m hanging up. Ring 999.”

“No Anne, I’m probably over-reacting. Just stay on the line. Please.”

Evelyn turned the wooden knob on her bedroom door into complete blackness. She was almost sure she left the light on. She flicked the switch and the bulb lit brightly before exploding, plunging the landing back into darkness.

“Doctor? What the fuck was that noise?”

Evelyn peered into the darkness when something moved, making her gasp.

“Doctor, go back to your room and lock the door. Now!”

Something lunged at her face from the blackness. She screamed from the pit of her stomach, as it scratched her face. Salem.

“Oh Anne, it’s the cat. I thought I put him out; must be going senile.”

“Not a chance, you are the sharpest woman I know… Look, will I come over?”

How Evelyn wanted to say yes. “Not at all Anne, I will be fine.”

Returning to her knees, she composed herself and finished saying her prayers while Salem lay purring on the bed licking his black paws. She climbed in and snuggled his jet-black body. He’d nearly killed her with the fright, but right now he was warm, furry, and safe company.

As she drifted off to sleep, she thought of Wendy Williams. Wendy, who forty years ago, had turned up at the clinic, bloody, bruised and begging for help. Wendy, who, when turned away, promised to exact revenge on the day she died. Wendy, who died this morning.   

She pulled Salem closer and it was in that exact position Evelyn was found dead the following morning by her neighbour, calling to let the cat in.


 Lorraine Murphy is the author of a psychological thriller entitled Into the Woods and many published flash fiction stories. She loves to take everyday situations and twist them, then twist them again. As a teenager, she adored Stephen King and later found herself on the jury of Ireland’s longest Murder Trial. She lives in Westmeath, Ireland with her husband Brendan and three taller children.

The Haunted Pitch by Jim Ruland

Flash Fiction, Horror

How he died isn’t important. Well, actually, it is. Monaghan was up all night drinking and doing blow and his heart exploded twenty-seven minutes into the match. Don’t interrupt. You asked for a story and a story is what you’ll get. Now the important thing is that it exploded while he was doing what he loved best. Well, hurling, of course, but he did love his Coors Light. Imagine those excruciating twenty-seven minutes before his demise. Running, leaping, striking the ball with his heart going rabitty and strange, and every second wondering if it would be his last. Did he know? I think he did. Pity Monaghan didn’t last another three minutes or he’d still be here, keeping barmen in business. He did love the game. That cannot be denied. He loved it something fierce. I’m getting to the ghosty part, don’t you worry. Monaghan’s passion for the sport was so powerful that those who pass by the pitch late at night swear they can hear the pock pock pock of his stick striking the ball. One blustery evening, long after the season was over, a local fellow, yes it was the butcher, no it wasn’t McAllister’s, the one we don’t go to anymore since ma took ill. It’s not important. The butcher took a shortcut across the pitch and heard the sound of Monahan warming up—pock pock pock, pock pock pock—even though the field was empty and the sky was as dark as a dungeon. As our man was crossing the middle of the pitch he felt something come up against his foot. No, it didn’t hurt, it was just a nudge, and when he looked down he saw a ball at his feet so he did. He picked it up and gave it a gander but it wasn’t a ball at all but a mass of skin and hair and teeth that gave the poor fellow—yes, the butcher—a sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach. Well, of course, he was used to looking at bits of meat and bone and other oddments from his work at the butcher’s shop but when he looked down to see what it was he held in his hand he beheld an eye beholding him. Monaghan’s eye. Now I don’t need to tell you that… No, just the one eye. It doesn’t matter what color the eye was because… It was brown, yes, like your mother’s, the very same. Yes, of course, I miss her, sure I do, but she’s… With Monaghan? Ah, no, she’s… No, no, no, she’s not at the pitch with Monaghan. She’d have no reason to be there. My eyes? There’s nothing the matter with my eyes, son. They’re as dry as… What’s this? A tooth! In my eye! My toothy eye! Now quit your squealing and get yourself to sleep…  


Jim Ruland is the LA Times bestselling author of Corporate Rock Sucks: The Rise and Fall of SST Records. He also co-authored My Damage with Keith Morris, the founding vocalist of Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and OFF! and Do What You Want with Bad Religion. Ruland has won awards from Reader’s Digest and the National Endowment for the Arts and his work has appeared in many magazines. His new novel, Make It Stop, which will be published by Rare Bird Books in April 2023.

Jed by Justin Lee

Flash Fiction, Horror

I wake up every morning to Jed looking down on me. The lights are off. The bright screen from a monitor illuminates Jed’s grin. He sits down in the chair next to my bed. I think he sits so close so he can tell me things.

I don’t know how long I’ve been in this hospital room. Nor do I know why I can’t talk. How I wish I could. I think I would just scream. Scream until I can’t anymore.

Jed leans in close.

“I’m so lucky to have gotten you assigned to me. You are such a great listener.” Jed said as he turned the TV on.

“Let me tell you what I did to Sally. I’ve been putting up with so much from her. Do you know what henpecked means? I feel like she has pecked me to damn death and back.” Jed stops to a drink from the water my nurse brought me and sits the cup back down on my bedside table.

“So today was the day. I sold her.”

He laughs.

“I mean, straight-up put her on Backpage and sold her to some fella from Gainesville. I just told him to come get her while I was out. Thank God for that. Thank God for you too.”

Jed sits back in his chair. He is still smiling.

I haven’t felt anything from my neck down in a while, but I felt cold everywhere.

“When are they getting you out of here? Is it because of your tongue or your foot?”

He chuckled a bit as he rose out of the chair.

“I guess I should go to my next little lame duck. I don’t get to talk to them like I do you. Shame.”

 I only had one chance at this. I jerked both arms toward my cup and knocked the water down on the floor.

“Shit, I didn’t know you could do all that! I guess you’re gonna need some more of that, pal.” Jed picked up my cup and walked out of the room.

I dragged my hand across the bed towards the phone. It feels like it weighs a hundred pounds. I dial 911 and pray.

“911. What is your emergency?”

I tried to say something but it just sounded like a moan.

“Sir, could you please repeat that?”

I tried again but this time all I could do was moan louder.

The door opened and Jed was standing there. He eased the door shut and walked to my bed. He hung up the phone.

“Why would you do a stupid thing like that?”, Jed said. His eyes never leave mine.

“Now, what am I supposed to do with you?”

He is standing over me again. His grin is bigger now than I have ever seen. He grabbed a pillow from the foot of the bed and held it over my face. My body convulsed.

The last thing I heard was, “Your daughter is going to love that Gainesville boy.”


Justin Lee lives in East Tennessee with his wife and two sons. He is an ex-correctional officer
and is working towards becoming a Social Worker. His writing has appeared in Punk Noir
Magazine and Reckon Review.

Ghost In My Spleen by Serena Jayne

Flash Fiction, Horror

The exorcist hung up on me once I’d explained that I didn’t need to evict a ghost in a machine, but rather to expel the ghost in my spleen. Unfortunately, the possessed body part wasn’t a popular one. Not a heart nor a hand. Not a larynx nor a leg.

The signs were subtle—no rattling chains, or cold spots, or spontaneous combustion. I didn’t speak in tongues, or float, or dream of slaughtering my siblings. Instead, something inside me released a phantom gurgle, and my will to leave the bed fled.  No pill, perk, or prize could stop the sadness sinking me ever deeper into despair.

An internet rabbit hole brought me to the belief systems of long-dead doctors concerning humours—body fluids that affected health, personality, and mental disposition. Surely some sneaky specter converted my spleen into a merriment-murdering black bile factory.

With the exorcist a bust, I sought home remedies to reduce black bile and bring my body into balance. I guzzled green tea and cranberry juice. Avoided alcohol, processed foods, caffeine. I burned sage, filled my humidifier with holy water, and religiously followed the directions on the super-sized container of Spleen Salvation Cleanse.

The ghost clung tight. My insides liquified, and I seemed to spew corruption from every orifice.  I swore and begged and thrashed. I convulsed. I cried. And after sixteen hours of torment, I was certain I’d died. Maybe I hallucinated or went a bit mad. But I swear I spied the wraith—a flimsy wisp of white floating like dandelion fluff.

Sweaty and covered in crud, I dragged the bag of bones my skin suit held to the shower. Neither the water beating my body nor the citrus scent of soap made me feel better. In a fit of pique, I banished every tea leaf, every sage stick, every drop of blessed water, every granule of spleen cleanse.

The ghost was gone, along with all signs of our struggle, yet I remained a wreck. Despite my exhaustion, I googled the other cardinal humours and discovered more ghosts to blame for my shortcomings.

My out-of-control internet shopping and late-night snacking habits signified an imbalance of blood due to a liver spirit. Sloth-like sluggishness spoke to a phantom kicking up a plethora of phlegm in my lungs. The anger and aggression that sparked at the simplest slight meant a ghoul in my gallbladder doggy paddled in a pool of yellow bile.

Relieved, I slouched on the couch and chain smoked. In between puffs, I chowed on cheese, sucked down shots of booze, binge-bought QVC bling, and social media stalked every single ex. Soon, my menthol-scented smoke rings summoned a brand-new batch of specters.

I drunk dialed the exorcist.

“Got more ghosts,” I slurred. “Having a haunted house party, and you’re not invited.”

This time, I hung up on him.


Born under the sun sign of Leo, Serena Jayne is naturally a cat person. Her flash fiction has appeared in The Arcanist, Ghost Parachute, Gone Lawn, Lost Balloon, Shotgun Honey, and other publications. Her short story collection, Necessary Evils, was published by Unnerving Books. She tweets @SJ_Writer.

Dawning of the Knuckle Duster by Andrew Davie

Flash Fiction, Horror

“WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT NOISE??” Someone yelled from behind me. The singer had thrown the microphone to the ground; it sounded like gunfire. “The Van Damned,” had just finished a blistering song, which had revved up the crowd and sent them at each other like particles in a collider. Now it was over, and everyone looked around confused their orgy of sound and fury cut short. 

            “Fuckin great set, huh?” 

            Some kid with an “I’ve got VD” T-shirt said and wiped blood from his nose. He had a medically induced thousand-yard stare and a crooked smile. 

            “Oh yeah, you’ve got to love the Sturm and Drang,” I said. 

The kid gave me the once over, and I felt the heat radiate from his body. He wiped his nose again. His eye twitched slightly.

            “You sure you’re s’posed to be here?”

            Before I could answer the next band, High Yield Bombs, had already begun to play the first riff from “Punching Through a Mountain with our Bare Fists.” The kid bolted forth into the maelstrom of bodies at the center of the ballroom. I remained on the outskirts of the circle but could see just enough through the zoetrope of flailing limbs.

            The kid with the bloody nose and “I’ve Got VD” shirt was spit out of the circle, saw me, and ambled over with a few new bruises. He still had the medically induced thousand-yard stare.

            “Fuckin great set, huh?” he said and spat blood on the ground. 

The next and final song was their foray into sludge metal. Much like how Black Flag had been influenced by bands like Saint Vitas, High Yield Bombs were testing the waters. The kids in the crowd who wanted a faster tempo funneled outside of the circle.

            Before the kid with the bloody nose and I could continue our Abbott and Costello routine, he had re-entered the melee. The music swelled to a fever pitch, and the circle converged onto itself like a dwarf star imploding. For the first time that evening, I saw true fear register. The kid stopped moving and looked for an exit, but the circle had closed behind him. He tried to climb out over the wave of bodies and yelled something profane. Hands reached out from beneath him, gripped his shoulders, and pulled him down. It had been reminiscent of any of the “Living Dead” movies in which an overconfident anti-hero meets their end. The crescendo hit with a furious double kick drum, and the song finished. 

            “Thank you,” The lead singer said, “that was ‘Dawning of the Knuckle Duster.’ Have a good night.” The musicians unplugged their instruments and there was a brief piercing wail of feedback. I quickly scanned for the kid with the bloody nose, but he was gone. He’d been completely swallowed up and possibly transported to another dimension like the villains from Krypton who’d been sentenced to the Phantom Zone.


Andrew Davie has worked in theater, finance, and education. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant and has survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. He is currently pursuing a clinical mental health counseling degree. He has published short stories at various places, a memoir, an essay collection, and crime fiction books with All Due Respect, Close to the Bone, Alien Buddha Press, and Next Chapter. His work can be found in links on his website https://andrew-davie.com/

MARCH HORROR THEME SUBMISSIONS

Flash Fiction, Horror, Short Stories

From 1-31 March, we are open to horror subs only, read by our guest editor Kirstyn Petras.

Guidelines

Looking for short/flash fiction and poetry with horror themes. Any horror themes accepted – psychological, paranormal, supernatural, or good old human evil. Ideal word counts 4,500 and under for short stories. Please keep poetry to standard formatting (no House of Leaves.) Submission should include an author bio & photo, and if you are open to edits or if you expect your submission to be published as-is.

Please submit your work at Punknoirhorror@gmail.com. We are aiming to answer within 1-2 two weeks.


About Kirstyn

Kirstyn Petras is a New York-based fiction writer but primarily identifies as caffeine in a human suit held together by hair spray and sheer force of will. She has been published in Punk Noir, Hoosier Noir, and City Lights Theatre Company. Her debut novel, the Next Witness, will be released May 2022 with Cinnabar Moth Publishing. When not writing, she trains contortion and aerial hoop. She is also the co-host of Dark Waters, a literary podcast exploring all that is dark, dreary, and wonderfully twisted.

Out NOW Wrong Way by Scarlet

Frank Duffy, Horror, Indie, Music

Scarlet – Wrong Way [Official Music Video] Video Made by Osomly in Letnica / Zielona Gora – Poland Director / Script / Screen Writer – Frank Duffy Production manager / Costumes / Makeup – Aga Ejsmont Photography and editing – Michał Koźba Starring – Aga Ejsmont / Oliwia Chilińska Storyboarding – Krystian Seredyński Marionette made by – Artur Endler

Supernatural Noir: Cast a Deadly Spell (1991) by K A Laity

Films, Horror, K A Laity, Pulp, Supernatural Noir

Supernatural Noir: Cast a Deadly Spell (1991)

Having recently seen (and wrote about) Witch Hunt (1994) I was looking forward to seeing this mash up of supernatural and noir, largely because I figured Fred Ward would play the part of PI Harry Philip Lovecraft a lot better than a rather wooden Dennis Hopper did in the later film. That guess was correct.

Ward immediately gets what the film is meant to be a plays the noir elements with an edge of satire and humour. He channels the classic Bogey Spade but with a sense of irony, knowing this is a crazy mash-up of elements and an exercise in nostalgia. Ward is an underrated actor who always bring a everyman sensibility and a weight of intelligent emotion to every part he plays. He brings life to the part and a reality despite the clichés, over-the-top dramatics and clunky dialogue.

Because the rest of Cast a Deadly Spell is not up to his abilities. That includes a young Julianne Moore who is given next to nothing to do apart from lip syncing to someone else’ song and carrying out every cliché in the femme fatale playbook. You can almost see her composing a strongly worded letter to her agent. Yet at moments she makes us believe in her Connie (heart of) Stone, which is more than can be said for the rest of the cast.

David Warner phones it in. Lee Tergesen is quite good with very little help, despite being literally gay-bashed. I thought the role of Lovecraft’s witch partner, Hypolyta Kropotkin, was too small in Witch Hunt, but it’s miniscule in this film. Arnetia Walker gets very little to do except save Lovecraft’s ass.

The Lovecraft storyline intertwines with a Big Sleep-style detective narrative; nonsense with a virginal debutante (Alexandra Powers) that attempts to evoke both the Sternwood sisters at once. Needless to say the Lovecraft garbage is vile. It’s also incredibly boring and clichéd. Virgin sacrifice? Really? Oh hey, Necronomicon. Admittedly less of a cliché in 1991, but secret book of secrets has been a staple of horror films for a very long time.

Worse are the Gremlins. And they are really called that in the credits. Someone recently shared a meme about how cretins believe the moon landing was faked with an image of what SPFX looked like in 1969. The ‘old ones’ in this film really look like cheap knock offs of the Gremlins films (the first in 1984, which gives you an idea of the quality). Rubber monsters age poorly, but they would have looked out of date in 1991. I know, low budgets and all (this is an HBO made for tv movie) but Witch Hunt shows how much more effective you could be with more subtle effects. That movie is looking better now.

A shame because the concept of supernatural noir is such a great one and has been done really well (*cough* by people associated with this site). Fred Ward was so good. If you’re more forgiving of bad FX and hokey plots, you might find it ‘A great way to spend an evening!’ as Entertainment Weekly did. Potato, po-tah-toe.

Order of Feather and Smoke by Kristin Garth

Horror, Kristin Garth, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

image0 (6)

Order of Feather and Smoke 

 

Two hush the horses with rubs of their hands.

Side saddle riders seek to understand hitch

of carriage, belts into hooks, driving demands,

brake levers from library books of which

they are shown by the Siren of Smoke. Stoke

requisite flame, port de bras coax the spot,

equestrianism, on shelves where they stroke

parchment until their pluck is provoked.  Brought

by Crow Carriage so they shall leave, maidens

who drive, sisters who believe what is taught

to them by feathers, smoke.  The cadence

of crow wings above their carriage resounds

in subconscious minds returned to hometowns.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of seventeen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House  (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket forthcoming from Roaring Junior Press.  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com