Autumn 2023


  1. Distance Lost by Todd Sullivan
  2. My Lunar Cycle by John Grey
  3. Man/Beast by John Grey 
  4. Man Of Few Words by John Grey 
  5. Dead Clown by John Grey 
  6. The Graverobber by John Grey 
  7. Unmarked Grave by John Grey 
  8. The Purple Mountain Vampire by Kristina Bray
  9. Action Potential Now by Christopher Anthony
  10. Corpus Mysticum by Martina Rimbaldo
  11. Culture Of Today Destructs Culture Of The Past by Martina Rimbaldo
  12. Death carries the face of happiness by Martina Rimbaldo
  13. Reproducing The Experiment by Andrew Paul Grell
  14. Burning Up by Lynn White 
  15. No Place by Lynn White 
  16. Come On In by Lynn White 
  17. Come Together by Lynn White 

Distance Lost by Todd Sullivan

“Yes son?”
He looks at her,
stares at her.
“Could you close the closet door?”
he whispers.
She smiles.
He thinks her teeth,
too sharp,
too sharp in this pale light.
“Of course, son. Can’t have the Boogie,
Boogie Man come out of the closet,
and steal your soul.”
She goes to the closet door,
closes it to a crack,
hand still on the knob,
turns to her son with that same smile,
closes the door completely with a thud.
“Thank you,”
he whispers,
laying back as his mom goes to the door,
goes to the door on her way out,
turns off the light,
still smiling,
still her son looking at her,
staring at her.
He is now alone,
in the dark,

eyes open,
then close,
then close like the closet door.
Then open,
and so is that closet door,
he sees,
and he doesn’t want to look too hard at it,
doesn’t want to stare,
’cause how did that door open on its own,
why can’t he just be left alone,
no lectures, he’s tired of learning,
The fiend
stands in the closet doorway,
at the boy,
mocking in every way.
“So little boy, boy, what shall we learn tonite,”
the fiend asks,
its voice full,
but behind it, speaking,
always behind the speaker,
in the closet,
tucked away in another dimension.
“It’s just that,”
the boy says,
“it’s that,”
he continues,
voice low,
“the job’s so hard, very difficult. I don’t know, I just…”
“None of us ever knew,”
the fiend’s lips moving,
voice coming from behind him,
yet now barely heard.
“But it’s the way of the world, little boy, little boy. ‘Accept and be glad’, sayeth the Lord.”

The boy looks at the door his mother exited from,
wishing it was the door she had entered from,
at least she would be in the room with him now to say goodbye,
but she isn’t,
she’s thinking her thoughts far away,
far away,
not knowing she’s going to lose
and gain
a son
at the same time this night.
“All us Boogie Men were once children,
and all us Boogie Men will be children once again,”
the fiend says.
“I’m tired of souls,
little souls for breakfast,
fears for lunch,
dreams for dinner.
little boy,
I’ve taught you my ways,
take my place,
know my world.
I just want a voice for once,
one close at my side.”
The boy,
trades places,
and the first soul he has that day,
for breakfast,
instead of cereal,
is his mother’s

 Todd Sullivan currently lives in Seoul, South Korea, where he teaches English as a Second Language. He has had more than two dozen short stories, poems, essays, and novelettes published across five countries. He currently has two book series through indie publishers in America. He writes for a Taipei web and play series that focuses upon black and African narratives. He founded the online magazine, Samjoko, in 2021, and hosts a YouTube Channel that interviews writers across the publishing spectrum.

My Lunar Cycle by John Grey

It’s not the life I wanted
but it’s the one the full moon
sets me up for.
And my fur, my sharp teeth,
the talons that jut out from my hands,
are in on it.
I’m a predator
even before the killing begins.
When I take this shape,
there are vulnerable people out there
already well into
their last night on Earth.
What I go through
is a transmutation for me
but an obituary column
for the rest of mankind.
By the time I leap from the brushes,
onto the back of some stray
mushroom picker,
I feel as if this demon
is all I know of myself.
I need meat,
the splash of fresh blood
down my gullet.
But even when done
I’m not satisfied.
I hurry home before sunrise,
transform into my respectable self
but with the smell of death still on me,
My mind’s a blur
but I’ve things to do today, tomorrow,
through the entire lunar cycle.
Humanity must recharge me
for no other reason
than so that it remembers how
to do the same the next time.

Man/Beast by John Grey

I’ve never succumbed to that other lust.
In fact, I’ve never even known its effects.
A beautiful woman is as unattractive to me
as a burr or kudzu or a Porta-Potty.
But should a pretty miss cut her finger,
my senses are on the move like a fly swarm,
my veins grow impatient, my eyes
are transfixed by the merest trickle of blood.
Swiftly the wound may be bandaged
but the image can’t be so easily compressed.
A simple cut becomes a chest ripped open.
A few drops of crimson are a gushing fount.
And the knife that sliced, the pin that pricked,
are no longer accident but preordained.
I’ve never had sex, never felt coital passion.
But, in my time, I’ve torn many a body to pieces.
I am an animal in that regard.
But I cull. I never procreate.

Man Of Few Words by John Grey

Multi-syllables are out the window.
His voice is a running meter of
stab blood kill.
His vowels are hard rain,
consonants, knife thrusts.
It’s a thin script he works from.
You think well isn’t love
a sound just like that.
Must it all be threat.
He grins like the reaper does
when it’s awakened and shuttled
out into the hearts of people.
I love death, he whispers,
the first words he’s strung together
all night.

Dead Clown by John Grey

He’s a heap of pantaloons, pom-poms
and frizzy red hair
at the center of the big top.
A broken neck twists his head sideways.
Crimson blood trickles down white greasepaint.
Behind the painted frown is a real one.
A busted trick-cycle lies at his feet.
A little white dog,
in a flapping blue and green collar,
sniffs at his earlobe.
At last, I see laughter for what it is.

The Graverobber by John Grey

Once the rites are over, the burial is done,
he slips into the graveyard,
hauling the tools of his trade.
The routine is always the same.
An hour of digging then a half hour of rest…
butchered bloody hands, permanently stooped shoulders,
and a spine that picks at its accompanying nerves
as if they were banjo strings…
graverobbing is an arduous task.
And lifting a coffin out of its six foot hole
is three times as backbreaking as lowering it.
But doctors need coffins for research.
And the local funeral director likes nothing more
than to get one of his fancy boxes back.
The grizzled ex-soldier is a necessary cog
in the grinding wheel of the local economy.
He’s the only one whose workday starts
when the cemetery gates are shuttered for the day,
the only one with the tears of mourners
wedged under his fingernails.

Unmarked Grave by John Grey

It could be unmarked
because no one is buried here.
Or perhaps the reason for
its lack of a cross, a tablet,
is that the sinner six feet below
was thought unworthy
of such a Christian rite.
One or two us believe that
the one interred is not actually dead.
So why bother the stonemason
with chiseling names
and dates and epitaph.
The man in question
can tell you so himself.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.

The Purple Mountain Vampire by Kristina Bray

The creature appeared out of the black darkness around the fire where we sat wearily.
We were a sombre group, half lame and limping. Three years ago, we had set out to sea,
Following rumours of a dusky country where a strange people lived their heady days
Beneath a strange sun that hung, redly shining, and mined mountains where white gems glowed
I was the second youngest of the strange crew. Only the captain was older than me.
The rest had barely stepped into their twenties. Sometimes I felt I ran a nursery.
And yet they had borne a rough six-month voyage, felt thirst and hunger without loud complaint,
And even endured injury to get here with a patience that would have shamed a saint,
So when, two weary years ago, we set down with our possessions on the purple shore
We felt happiness and delight, the hope of gaining health, wealth, knowledge, language and more.
We also felt excitement at a new world where men from our country had never trod,
Where new souls stared up at strange constellations and sang strange hymns towards a waiting
You may not believe this, but we meant them no harm. We had items to trade, thought not to
We hoped to learn of new medicines and skills, the hurts and horrors of our lands to heal.
We had only a basic map of the land around the coast and the silver inlet
After that, we’d follow the lay of the land and ask directions from people we met.
We’d entered the woods with our heads held up high, but from that moment, all things had gone
We’d travelled down valleys and up steep mountains, across deserts and swamps we’d journeyed
For two long years, we’d dealt with hurt and hunger. Sadly, in that time, ten men had been slain.
We’d not found riches or medical wonders. Now, at last, we were headed home again.
In nine days, a ship with our country’s colours would weigh anchor on the same purple shore,
And the black sands where first we had disembarked. The next morning it would turn home once
If we reached it before it lifted anchor, then it would carry our poor few away
From this place that we had come so to detest. If we missed it, then we could only pray
For a quick death. No other ships would come here, for soon, our two countries would be at war.
We might as well sit in the shallows and wait for a sea snake to drag us from the shore.
We’d entered the mountains two dark days ago, but weather and landslides had slowed us down.
We’d had an awful shock just the night before. We’d stopped to stock up at a little town
That had been rich and full only weeks before. But when we arrived, no soft word was said.
The place had been empty, ravaged and shattered, its small buildings peopled by rotting dead.
What other horrors were there, I can’t describe, but every throat had been torn by a beast,
An animal, a monster or a demon that had gone on upon their flesh to feast.
There’d been too many bodies there to bury, so we’d said over them a simple prayer
Then took whatever we could from the storerooms and tried to forget we’d ever been there.
Since then, strangeness had abounded around us. Screams and strange laughter had filled up the
The animals we’d hunted for our meals had now vanished from the woods, and thin figures, white

Peered from between trees, leering with cold eyes. Their whispers and soft cries peopled the dark.
Sometimes we’d found strange figures carved into trees, as though monsters of old had made
their mark.
Shadows paced between the trees, shrieking laughter. We’d tended fires all night to keep them
And posted guards to hold off the grey direwolves that roamed the red slopes of the hills in packs.
We’d kept our weapons primed, ready to defend, and still been woken by screams in the night.
We’d prayed at morning light and in the evening and sometimes feared that we would faint from
Still, we managed to keep the creatures away. Each night we drew closer to the seashore.
We wished only to gain the ship and then leave, never to see this vicious country more.
So it was with hung heads and pounding headaches we sat around and stared into the fire.
Near midnight we heard strange footfalls approaching. For a moment, the nighttime noise grew
And then fell off and tumbled into silence. A shadow swept into the firelight.
Briefly, the figure seemed to be a maiden. We stared at her in confusion and fright.
Then her face changed, and we beheld a monster, a skeleton moving, twisted and frail.
You might have thought famine itself was walking, supported by a spine thin as a rail.
It smiled, its mouth a sharp sickle moon smiling. It nodded towards us, dipping his head.
We could not speak; we could not move or defend. We were as still and silent as the dead.
“Hello,” it said. “It took some time to hunt you. You truly did your best to outpace me,
“But here I am. I’ve joined you by your fireside, and that means you owe a blood gift to me.
“You see me as I am. I’m full of hunger. It has been long and long since I have fed
“Upon the hot, sweet blood of living beings. I’ve slept in crypts and the graves of the dead.
“If I was greedy, I would destroy you all and live the next nights with my heart singing,
“My head upraised towards the moon in the sky as I danced to the heavens’ rapturous ringing.
“But I have watched you brave this strange continent, working together by day and by night,
“And, though you are mortals, I now respect you, so murdering you all would not be right.
“Instead, I’ve appeared now, and I instruct you to decide which of your party you choose
“And render them to me as my lawful prey. If you do so, then just one life you’ll lose
“And I’ll move on to seek out other prey. But, if you refuse me, I will take you all,
“You never will reach the ship that you seek for, and none will ever know what made you fall.”‘
What could we say? Scared whispers flew between us. Our eyes were wide, our voices tight with
My mind raced, too. How could I save the young ones? I was the one supposed to lead them here
And bring them home again as happy heroes. I’d failed in the second part already.
The least I could do was bring them back alive. Maybe I should offer the creature me?
But I was not yet ready to lose my life if there was something else that I could do.
We’d guessed that strange creatures walked in the twilight, but not that they would speak as
mortals do
Or demand tribute. Sudden anger seized me. A violent tremor raced my body through.
I leapt up, snatching from the fire a massive branch of wood that had not burned halfway through.
I looked at the thing, and I barrelled forwards. With the fire held aloft, I did attack.
I didn’t think that my poor attempt would work. Surely the monster would just shove me back

Onto the ground. But no, it reeled from the fire. When flame struck flesh, the creature screamed
I heard it crashing back into the treeline. It disappeared into the dark of night.
We would have broken camp, but there was danger in descending slopes while the night was
So we sat awake – each holding a lit branch – our backs to the fire, braced for an attack.
As soon as dawn’s light touched the radiant skies, we packed our things and hurried on again.
We hoped to gain the bottom of the mountain before dark fell and blinded mortal men.
Sadly, by the time my watch struck half past ten, we were still miles from the friendly foothills.
The youngsters would have driven on regardless, but, in the end, I defied all their wills.
The risk was too great that we’d find a cliff edge hidden in a blanket of velvet night
And tumble into a gorge or a river, or jaguar’s cave, never to see the light.
Exposed beneath the cavern of the night sky, we set our camp in silence, all afraid,
All wondering if this was the night we’d die and never in our native soil be laid.
We were exhausted, but none of us could sleep. We watched the foliage and trunks of trees
Wondering when the demon-thing would appear. In the end, we began to tell stories
To distract from the awful sense of near doom. I spoke of my early days on the seas,
The strange islands, the people that I had met, the jewelled sea snakes with their glowing bodies,
The lands where lakes shone violet and not blue, where winter was hot, and the summer snowed.
I even told of the archipelago, where towns sat on water, and all men rowed.
I was describing the white-feathered goddess worshipped in parts of the far orient
When I saw bright eyes glowing in the darkness. “Keep speaking,” the thing said. “I will relent.
“And will not take a single life each night that your words can keep me transfixed until dawn.
“Who knows, you may even reach your ship alive and find no family has cause to mourn.
“But if your stories can’t hold my attention – if judge them foolish, slow, unwieldy,
“Then you must draw lots, and the weeping loser must surrender as a sacrifice to me.
“Do you assent to this?” Again, our words flew. A fatalistic conversation, sure,
For if we refused now, the thing would slay us, and nobody would hear tell of us more.
Yet, if we agreed, at least one would indeed be forced to join the creature in the night.
We all quailed before the horrible notion, our minds and bodies paralysed with fright.
At last, they appointed me to tell the news. “We’ll agree to your contract now,” I said.
“But with this caveat – when we at last lose, the duel stops. Just one of us ends dead.
“To the rest of us, you will give safe passage right to the ship. You’ll see us on the sea.
“Only then will you go back to hunting the poor souls of this, your natural country?
“Do we have an accord?” The creature stared at me a long time before it dipped its head.
“Rest for tonight,” it said, “and I will away. Tomorrow, the best stories you must thread
“And with bright dreams grace my imagination. Remember, you’ll be talking for your life.”
Then it was gone. We lay down on the hard ground and tried to sleep despite our trembling strife.
Next day we walked again, and as we hiked on, each of us worked to recall the stories
That we’d loved best in youth and early childhood, hoping that they our lifetimes would increase.
We’d gained the foothills when next we came to rest. We hacked the grass and set a fire down.
We wrapped ourselves in blankets, chilled by the wind, and stared at each other with worried
The thing appeared in human form that evening. Her face was dusky, her eyes honey bright.

Her skin was darker than ours, but it sparkled with an odd glisten even in the night.
Her body was slim but perfectly rounded. No man alive would not have called her fair
And yet something was unnerving about her. A feline predator glowed in her stare.
“Good evening, mortals,” she greeted us softly. “I have rested and am eager to see
“Which of you will be chosen to assail me with your best song, fairest rhyme or story.
“Who have you chosen?” “I’ll go first,” I offered. “Go ahead, then,” she said. “I wait to see
“Which of you has the talent of the old bards and who was born to be a feast for me.”
So I began. The story I told that night was of a maiden born beneath the sea.
She saved the life of a poor drowning sailor and came to love him so passionately
That she made a deal with a witch to gain legs. The wicked crone would have devoured her soul.
But the sailor took the mermaid to his priest. The man blessed her and made her woman whole,
Sained and beloved by God. So the witch could not extract the dreadful price that she so craved.
The maid and sailor married and, thereafter, many a struggling fisherman was saved
By the girl’s folks who never ceased to love her. In time peace was reached ‘tween those beneath
the waves
And those above. The story stretched through the night and ceased just on the point of breaking
We paused, breath held, to hear the monster’s judgement. She stood up tall and proudly dipped
her head.
“You have won the first battle tonight, mortal. You are not the one who I will see dead
“In my embrace. Tomorrow may be different. I’ll retire now and let you flee away
“Into the trees, but don’t think you can lose me. I’ll be with you again at close of day.”
So on it went. Each night the creature arrived, and each night one of us told our best tale.
Six days passed by without a person failing. On the eighth day, we saw afar the sail
Of that same ship that we had hoped and dreamed for. It would rest in the port one night alone.
We could not reach it by dark. Tomorrow, if we survived, it sure would bear us home.
The problem was – by then – we had no stories, none good enough to please our monstrous guest.
We tried and tried to form a new narrative. My head ached. My back hurt and I was stressed.
I could think of nought but my old, aching bones. As darkness fell, angry tears filled my sight.
I had the germ of an idea but no more. It certainly would not stretch through the night.
I tried to think of a new way to escape, but again, there was nothing I could do.
Still, I elected myself as the speaker. If nothing else, I’d see the youngsters through.
I was braced and ready for the disaster by the time the thing reached the fireside.
I began to speak, praying I could go on, but near midnight my voice stuttered and died.
The creature rose and floated through the moonlight. In mere seconds she stood right next to me.
Her honey eyes glinted with a dying light. Oddly, her expression showed sympathy.
“It was a brave try you made then, young human,” she said, “so now I keep my former vow.
“I could easily glut myself on all of you, but I will take a single victim now.
“Decide yourselves. I’ll go into the clearing over yonder. When you’ve made your decree
“Send the chosen one through the trees to meet me. Once I have fed, I’ll let you know you’re
She turned away, then looked over her shoulder. “Just so you know, if you should try to run
“My mercy will expire. I’ll rip you apart. Not one of you’ll escape once I’ve begun.”
“We understand,” I said. “One will attend you in less than fifteen minutes.” “We shall see,”

She answered as she drifted through the small group of trees that separated the wide sea
Of grass from our clearing. Then I sighed deeply. I told the others, “Sorry I failed you.
“You could have chosen a far better leader. Now, there is only one thing left to do.
“I will go to the monster and surrender. As soon as I leave, race down to the sea.
“There is a chapel right beside the inlet. Hide there until the sun rises fully.
“The ship will arrive – board it and then go home. Tell nobody what has become of me.
“If anyone asks, say I fell overboard. Share between you the wages owed to me.”
Bless them, the young ones tried hard to gainsay me. Two of the girls offered themselves as food.
But, in the end, between my loud argument and the love of life burning in their blood
I convinced them that I should be the scapegoat. They packed their bags and got ready to run.
I bid them farewell and shook the hands of the people I cherished, like daughters and sons.
Then, fear and sorrow dogging my every step, I walked through the trees. I was shocked to see
The creature – still as a woman – looking out, over a cliff edge and out to the sea.
We’d been much closer to freedom than I’d guessed. I could not help it. I uttered a curse.
The creature turned. She smiled. “I understand you. Knowing you nearly made it makes things
“Don’t pretend that you care,” I said. “You’ve got me. I’m standing here, the promised fattened
“I’ve told the others not to attempt rescue. Go ahead and kill me but do not laugh!”
“Go ahead and kill me,” the strange creature mocked. “Is there nothing that you would ask of me?
“No questions about why I thirst for your blood? Will you not even beg me for mercy?”
“Just be true to your word. Let the others go.” She turned. For the first time, I saw her face
Close up. God, she looked young, an innocent girl who’d unluckily wandered to this place
Could not have looked more gentle nor more pleading. She scarcely seemed a night drinker of
To my surprise, pity slithered through my veins, and thoughts assailed me like a tumbling flood.
The first of which was this – if I delayed her, as well as buying precious time for me,
I might distract attention from the others and thus give them a better chance to flee.
So I asked her, “You look so young, so human. I may be rude, but could you possibly
“Have once walked the world in a breathing body, even been a poor human just like me?”
“Yes, I was human once,” the creature told me. “I was a child innocent of the world
“Brought up so close and careful by my family that I was useless. But I felt the whirl
“Of true romance. I was but fifteen years old. By night a handsome man would come to me,
“And call to me, and sing beneath my window. Fool I was; I believed his love for me.
“He asked me many times if I’d go walking abroad with him beneath the bright moonlight.
“I refused many times. He called me coquette. Still, I said no. I thought it was not right
“To leave behind my own home after sundown. At last, though, he threatened that he’d leave me.
“If I would not do such a “small thing” for him, then how could he possibly marry me?
“And that’s where my heart stopped. He thought of marriage? He was so beautiful, you see, so
“He seemed a creature built from moon and starlight. I’d told myself that he would not long care
“For such as me. But he spoke of forever, and I thought we two might just make a whole.
“I wanted forever. To gain that glory, I risked everything. So I lost my soul.
“How it was, he found his way to my window, and why it was my blood that he wanted

“Remain even now a mystery to me. I went with him. We walked beneath branches
“Of trees hand in hand. He told me that he loved me. We lay together, down on silvered grass.
“On that grass, he took my virginity, and once he’d done that, he murdered me at last.
“My last sight was my blood upon his white lips. When I woke up later I was alone.
“My lover was long gone, and I was freezing, as cold as a poor creature formed of stone.
“Something was wrong. I ached. My teeth were sharper. A dreadful hunger rippled all through me.
“Within two days, I’d made my first awful kill and knew the hunger never would leave me.
“That was years ago, long and even longer. I sleep alone and rise to walk the night.
“I walk solo. I have no friends or family. The few people who see me wail with fright.
“I am in pain each moment I do not drink. Each feeding makes a murderer of me.
“So now you see. Of us, you are the least cursed. A brief pain passed, your spirit shall be free.
“I promise, I won’t let you be a monster. Once you are dead, I’ll destroy your body.
“Your soul will ascend to its gods and old ones. I would not shackle you to earth with me.”
I looked at her – both maid and monster – trembling. I thought perhaps the sky fallen on me.
But, when I glanced up, no clouds hid the heavens. It was I who was weeping desperately.
“Don’t fear,” the creature said, “the pain is little. I swear that I’ll make it easy on you.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “For what?” She asked me. “For you, the life the vampire took from you.
“I’m sorry for your loneliness as you walk the world alone beneath the dark of night.
“How could the Lord above allow such cruelty? I wish I had a way to make things right.”
The creature pulled back. “Me? You’re weeping for me?!” “How could I not?” I whispered in her
“I have told you that I am going to kill you. Should you not be focused on rage and fear?”
“Perhaps so, but I know you are not guilty of what you are. Your false lover alone
“Left you with a pang of hunger you can’t fight, stalking, hunting and resting cold as stone.
“How could I know of all that and still not cry?” “You cry for ME!” The creature cried again.
“I cry for you, and I also forgive you. I may cry out in pain but promise when
“My soul has fled; I quit all right I once had to cry vengeance or seek justice from you.
“I give my blood as a gift to you freely, and I’ll pray God showers mercy on you.
“So go on, take what you need. I won’t fight. As a soldier, I’ll bear what hurt follows.
“Burn the pieces of my flesh. Let the wind bear the last of me to where clear water flows.”
The creature pushed me, hard, and so I stumbled. “Go away,” it said. “Run. Get clear of me!”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “I’m here and waiting.” “I said run, fool. Go on, I set you free!
“Join the others and race down to the water. Let not another sunset find you here.
“Or I may change my mind and tear all your throats. Go where the nights are chill and the air clear.
“I will not take the life of one so humble, so kind as to see the girl inside me.
“But beware, time is long. I may rethink this, so look, you don’t return to this country.”
“But I…” “Just LEAVE!” She roared. I skidded backwards, raised up my hands and then stumbled
Moments later, I was upright and racing back through the trees and down towards the bay.
Even as I ran, the thing roared behind me, “Go, go and be sure you never return
“To my land. Never again seek the jungle. Walk you only upon deserts that burn.
“For I may soon come to regret my kindness and repent that I showed you any grace.
“Pray all your gods and saints we don’t meet again, for death will come if you once see my face!”
I ran until I reached the church. Inside it, my fearful friends huddled, awaiting me.

They gasped, laughed, and uttered many hosannas when they realised it was truly me.
They demanded to know how I had got free. I told them only, “the thing looked away
“Distracted by an odd noise in the woodlands and, while it pondered it, I ran away.”
I think they knew I lied. Perhaps they had heard the words the creature had yelled after me.
But they were happy enough with the falsehood if it meant I was hale, human and free.
No more did I say, but I kept each once close and, as soon as the relief ship came near,
We vaulted onto it. We kept to our rooms until, from the channel, it had pulled clear.
Only when we were at last on the high seas did I become convinced we’d live the day.
The sailors said we’d a queer look about us, but they settled when we joined them to pray
To Christ the King. We heard the old chaplain preach many a day, but in the dark night I
Prayed for the girl who had become a monster, infected by love ‘neath a silver sky.
In three months, we were once again in England. I live in a village, warm and cosy.
But I bar my door each night because I still feel the monster waiting beyond the sea.

Kristina Bray is a writer of fiction, poetry and non-fiction.

At the age of fourteen, she published her first poem to an international readership. Since, then, Kristina has received awards for both poetry and short fiction. Her poetry has been published in ebook, hard cover, paperback and audiobook format, as well as included in blogs and web-radio broadcasts. Her short fiction has been published in books and magazines and also animated and exhibited on Youtube.

To date, Kristina has written six books of poetry, including the 2022 anthology “Christmas Blessing”.

Kristina’s fiction and poetry has featured in magazines like Rubies in the Darkness, Quantum Leap, Metverse Muse and Eternity, as well in multiple online publications.

Her short story, “Melinoe’s Halloween” appeared in the anthology “Beyond the Grave” by Monnath Books in October 2021. Her story “How to Be A Good Wife” was published on the Night Shift Radio Podcast website in October 2022. She has publications upcoming on and I Become The Beast (Australia).

Kristina’s favourite fiction genres are fantasy, dark fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal romance and horror – anything that allows for a fairly high spook quotient!

Kristina lives in Sussex, England, with her adorable husband, three very naughty cats, and an assortment of amusing ghosts!

Action Potential Now by Christopher Anthony

He spilt the salt. 
A completed circle.

She waited for him to finish.

“Now,” he announced.
“I bind you.”

“Not yet,” she said.
Her wings, copper, conducive,
and lighter than her laugh
Indulgent. Anticipatory.

He emptied a vial
of tears into the circle.
“I wept because of you,” he said.
“I bind you.”

“Not yet,” she said. Her eyes,
Piezoelectricity in a jar.
Not extractable
with clenched fist.

“I call upon Ia, he said. I call
Thantyr, Aepetus, Mnemalae, Cracous.
I call the Drasori of Mallose.
Those names bind you to me.”

“Those names are not mine,” she said.
“Not yet.”

Potential resting.

“What then?” he asked.

“Action,” she replied.
She reached past the circle.
Salt could not hold

She took his knife. He did not

He exhaled.
Ending the darkness of
a long,


Christopher Anthony has not published anything in a long, longtime. This is his first foray into poetry.

Corpus Mysticum by Martina Rimbaldo

Smell of coal spreads trough the silent atelier .
Features of Corpus Mysticum with every move comes to life.
Vivid projection of authors soul on a paper .
Bare skinned lady-like goddess ashamed to admit her nature is soaked in sin .
Blindfolds her eyes with long brown hair in order to preserve her spirit from your judgement ,
to deny to herself, what feels too hard , too hurtful to absorb .
Play of light and shadows contouring the flesh and bones of her neck .
Everything that skin hides wisely reminds oneself of mortality.
Death abides within us never outside of us,
what a scary thought isn’t it ? The truth …
The goddess stands numb
Her lips fixed …

Accused …
Sheds no tears …
Skin cuts open –the bloody cross once hidden beneath ,
it is at present moment displayed for everybody to see.
Is it a load ?
Is it a salvation ?
Is there a justice for Justice ?

Culture Of Today Destructs Culture Of The Past by Martina Rimbaldo

Army of half bare zombies
Marching through the alley of middle –aged cultuered town
Eclectic sounds coming from the background
Forces stone blocks to tremour and tumble down
Massive drinking to stop your reason thinking
The limit is expeled by grotesque burnish -towny colored smelling vomit
Saddened alley remains silent
We bear the rotten fruit of our tragic youth
No mannres turn man into animals

Death carries the face of happiness by Martina Rimbaldo

Death carries the face of happiness as the funeral procession starts the hearse. The wooden, carved
cover of your coffin hides the secret of your body. Pale, hardened, sculpture you are, what you once
were, you are no more. Death hides the face of happiness .Behold! The church bell is now ringing
louder. Towards the grave the wind carries withered leaves and flowers. The silky, purple fabric hides
the folds under the black robe, from the glow into the darkness they turn . Not even your lacquered
shoes have ever set foot on the ground, as if they were waiting for your last resting place. Death has
the face of happiness. When the death costume rots, when, death, skin and flesh from each corpse
peels off, then the bones will reveal their secret, which we have not seen in life, because it was
hidden, by frowning and expressions. The man’s bones at the site of the skull, always smiling. IN

Death carries the face of happiness!

while the funeral March runs the hearse.

Wooden, carved cover of your coffin, hiding the secret of your body.

Pale, hardened, sculpture, it is all you are , you’re not what you used to be.

Death hides the face of happiness!

Behold ! The church bell now rings more vigorously.

Towards the tomb, wind carries introduced leaves and flowers.

Silk, purple fabric ,wrinkles hide.

What under the black pan, from glory into darkness is poured over.

Not even your lightweight shoes, never set foot on earth,

it’s like your last resting place, they were waiting.

Death has a face of happiness!

When the mortal costume rots,

when, death, skin and flesh from every courpse peels away ,

then the bones will reveal the secret of their own, which we have never seen in our lives,

because it was hidden, with frowning and expressions.

Man’s bones at the scene of the skull, are always smiling.



In death, man, will never stop smiling !

Martina Rimbaldo is a woman who lives and works in Croatia. Loves to paint abstract paintings ,
read religious books, watch horror as well as old movies with Audrey Hepburn, Sharon Tate, Brigitte
Bardot who happens to share her birth date and (over)thinks specially about death, what some
people find morbid but not her, it is a part of life too. Her goal is to be a good person .

Reproducing The Experiment by Andrew Paul Grell

Would you like to play a game?

I am game to play a game with you,
How do you do?

I do very well,
And I thank you.

What do you do so very well,
And will it cause a thing to swell?

Matters pudendal to you I’ll tell
And say you if it rings your bell.
Up full inches five my secret lies
Waiting and waiting for one who tries
To bridge a vas deferens acting wise
Such a one, only, deserves my prize
Does my game find favor in your eyes?

Your game intrigues but does it fool?
Will you trip me up on some twisted rule?
To learn your play, where should I school?
From Belmont to Laurel I’ve snagged the pool,
But I fear your game may be most cruel.
Still, I am game, I seek to win and enjoy your jewel.

The rules are uncertain, I know truly, I do.
Of those with slits, most have one, I have two.
For your education try Yoichiro Nambu
Though since he is now ash any physicist will do.
You must venture your symmetry to with me play
Be sure half of your pride and half of your joy is a price you can pay.
Two fraction hints I give you, re and diff, no more I can say.
To pass through both slits on one go, you must find a way.
One sufficiently schooled can come in safe and get out okay.

Your hints, Game Maiden, I take and know now how to move.
Of my method of moving I hope you approve.
A quantum hypothesis you set me to behoove
myself your theory to prove.

So of kale and goji and wheatgrass and thyme I did set out to find,
also blueberries, acai, and tamarind rind.
All superfoods remembered or come to mind.
So I munched and I chewed and I snarfed myself blind
all in an attempt my motor to wind.

I took my mark on Game Maiden, my engine most hot,
and waited for her to fire off a shot.
To choose sin or dex I had to decide. Did it matter or not?

The good fruits of Terra earned me terahertz rate,
and at least half of C from the food that I ate.
Young’s Modulus 20, temp 44 C, viscosity stunning at Ps-a 10^8
In these straits Planck Time could measure my duration to sate.

Player, you’ve won and you’ve won me as well
You’ve entered one slit but two did expel
the soup of my coming from my now empty shell.
When next you’ll be ready, to me you must tell!

 Andrew Paul Grell, at 63, an “emerging writer,” is author of the traditionally published Biblical sci-fi novel “SCAPEGOATS: THE GOAT PROTOCOLS.” Grell has been published and prize-won on four continents .  He lives in a park in Manhattan with his Maltipoo puppy, Cyrus King of Persia.  By day he ferrets out fraud, and he gets everywhere by bicycle.

Burning Up by Lynn White

The sun has risen
and it’s burning,
burning up
And I’m raising my arms
to worship
or plead.
Not sure which.
Praise or prayer,
perhaps they’re the same.
That’s my thought
for the day.
Quite profound,
I think,
for the day when I’m sure
I’ll be going home.
What do think?
Are we of the same mind?
Great minds thinking alike again.
Come, it’s time
to go.
Hold my hand.

No Place by Lynn White

The buildings line the street.
Such bright colours
lining the street
of the holiday resort,
a place near the beach,
a living place.
But if I should transform the cars,
into their metal box shapes.
If I should paint out their windows
and doors,
and the windows and doors
of the buildings in the street,
it would leave me
with coloured squares
and rectangles
dividing blue from green or white
with no life left there.
No place,
no place
for life
at all.

Come On In by Lynn White

“Come on in the water’s lovely”
they called out to me
with their arms outstretched
and the sweetest of smiles.
And I was tempted for sure,
even on this cold winter night
their smiles were as entrancing as sirens.
But the arms waving a welcome
reminded me of spiders
with their stretched out legs
waiting to pounce
in this watery web.
Come on in the water’s lovely
The word echoes through my head
enticing me
for sure,
entrapping me
I’ll soon find out.

Come Together by Lynn White

Here I am
above you.
I’m the god of all I see
and I’ll take you under my wing
so all of you can play your part.
And you’ll learn your lines
to my script.
My wings may give you shelter
but I also have talons
to pick you up
and drop you down
and a sharp beak
to gauge your flesh
if you stray
from the lines
as they are written.
The die is cast.
You are all in it together.

 Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and a Rhysling Award. Find Lynn at: and