In Brian W. Keen's short story “Marital Bliss,” hen-pecked aging coal miner Clarence washes down the verbal assaults from his wife, Geraldine, with copious amounts of whisky. Eventually he plugs Geraldine with a revolver, then whispers, “I love you.” Unfortunately, this isn't the first time he's killed her, and probably won't be the last. You know how it is.
Kurt Newton contributed the poem “The Puppetmaster.” It isn't until a second or two after reading the last line that the strings supporting the perceptions Newton established in the preceding few stanzas drop their weight in your brain. Cleverly done.
According to his bio, Anthony Bartley's grandfather was a mortician. A middle school teacher himself, Bartley may well wish he had followed in the old fellow's footsteps. He penned the toe-curling yarn “Anatomy Lesson.” Not for the squeamish, but an unarguably well-crafted and powerful short piece.
Veteran horror writer and editor Cathy Buburuz supplies the poem/story “Cold Steel Night in the Bronx,” which slips a razor sharp surprise into the last few lines. Massachusetts resident John Grover authored the atmospheric “In the Walls,” a short story about grown siblings who must purge their mother's bad childhood memories from the creepy old house of their deceased grandmother. Grover clearly revels in increasing the suspense incrementally until “Walls” resolves itself into a weird life-and-death scenario for the brother and sister. From the accomplished Lee Clark Zumpe is “Nosferatu, 2279 AD”—by any measure, a nicely rendered short story. The effect of its execution in a mere 55 words is not unlike a detailed model ship in a bottle.
R.D. Robbins is a surgeon living in New York City who misses lakes and woods and stars and hopes to see them again someday. Having made Albuquerque my home for 20 years, I feel his pain. Don't let the funky title fool you. His poem, “A Woman With Six Fingers Came,” is a wonderful, heart-achy little piece with variations of the repeated refrain: “Until the end of things took them away.” Maybe some of us need to go camping once in awhile.
Mike Allen, who edits the magazine Mythic Delirium for DNA Publications, contributes the poem “The Interview.” Speaking of which, there is also an interview with “the British answer to Anne Rice,” Storm Constantine. I must mention that the first issue of Christina's Sng's Macabre included an interview with the novelist Robert Rankin (The Antipope, Armageddon, The Musical). His latest book at the time of the interview was The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, and Rankin is in outrageously funny form here. I don't want to go overboard and say that he's God or anything, but—hello!?—he's only, like, the zaniest person ever!