Issue 33 – Phantastes

Dunsany’s Dream
By Harris Coverley

Māna-Yood-Sushāī
archipelagic Brahma
maker of the worlds

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The Ninth Legion’s Last Patrol
By Andrew Darlington

hush now child, do not fear
close your eyes against the cold,
all that’s bad will disappear
as phosphorescent moons grow old,
disregard that phantom tread
as ghost-wolves howl against the night,
it’s only tales freighted with dread
of things we whisper out of sight,
the legion of the ninth still roam
beyond their corpses’ pale endeavour
seeking out their lost way home
although their march must take forever,
for even though all roads must lead
their last campaign will never relent
the druid’s curse will intercede
for this sad forlorn revenant
before the dead can reach their Rome,
before the dead can reach their Rome,
before the dead can reach their Rome,
hush how child, never fear
close your eyes against the fright,
don’t see those figures coming near
my hand stands firm against this night

The Statue
By Ed Ahern

The man wore his clothes well and wasn’t ugly. Valerie, bored by arty conversations, weaved through the museum exhibits and stood in front of him.

Tell me something I won’t believe.”

He smiled. “I’m boring. I don’t drink, smoke, gamble, or do drugs.”

No, that’s sad but believable.”

His smile turned wistful.

The model for this statue and I were lovers.”

The plaque says the statue is two millennia old. It’s impossible.”

There you go.”

Tell me more.”

She left me because of my profession.”

Oh?”

I weigh souls using a feather.”

What about mine?”

Don’t die for a while.”

Ends

Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over three hundred stories and poems published so far, and six books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of nine review editors.

https://www.twitter.com/bottomstripper
https://www.facebook.com/EdAhern73/
https://www.instagram.com/edwardahern1860/

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The Dragon Kings
By Lee Clark Zumpe

Before the sun awoke in the east,
upon these lands there was but one beast
one creature from which all life did spring
Azthol was he: the first Dragon King.

First, he spawned trees, for the land seemed so bare;
next he blew storm clouds into the air;
his rain-heavy breath flew on the breeze,
soon followed lakes, and rivers and seas.

Tired from his labours, and lonely was he;
the Dragon King yearned for company.
He called all his strength, fluttered his wings,
and with one word spawned all living things:

Elves in dark woods; dwarves in mountain holes;
men in foul camps plagued by orcs and trolls;
and a dragon brood, ne’rmore alone,
a dynasty set to claim the throne.

But his dragon spawn were not as wise,
their malice concealed only by lies –
Til Azthol’s death, when they paused no more,
unsettling the lands with a cruel war.

Race against race, a million lives spent:
now some may rejoice, some may lament:
Heard no more, the clap of mighty wings
deep in the in the halls of the Dragon Kings.

Lee’s work has earned several honourable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror collections. As entertainment editor for Tampa Bay Newspapers, his work has been recognized repeatedly by the Florida Press Association, including a first place award for criticism in the 2013 Better Weekly Newspaper Contest.

Learn more at http://www.leeclarkzumpe.com

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Witch Of The Well
By K. A. Williams

I left my hut when I heard a galloping horse. By the time the knight rode up, I had already dropped the bucket into the well.

“Quickly woman!” the knight yelled.

I pulled up the water bucket and held the ladle out to him. He grabbed it and drank. Then I unhooked the bucket and poured water into a trough for his horse.

The knight pointed to the three trails that led away from the well. “Which one goes to the dragon’s cave?”

“The one on the right,” I said, and stroked the armour on his leg.

“How dare you touch me! If I wasn’t in a hurry, I’d give you a beating!”

I didn’t doubt it. Every knight who came this way was rude to me, and none had tipped for the water. He rode off quickly but I knew a shortcut through the woods and hurried toward the cave to watch.

I got there and hid behind a big rock just as the knight dismounted his horse. He pulled a sword from its sheath and called, “Come out of that cave and meet your doom, dragon!”

A big red dragon strode majestically through the cave mouth. The knight started forward with his sword. As he walked, pieces of his armour began to fall off.

The knight stopped and looked back at the trail of fallen armour. When his visor fell off, I moved toward the horse.

“Stay away from my horse! You bewitched my armour and I’ll deal with you after I’ve killed this dragon!”

Stupid knight, just like all the rest of them. I ignored him and grabbed the reins of the frightened animal. I whispered a few magic words. The beast calmed down and I mounted him.

A knight’s horse and saddle always fetched a good price. I also had other things for sale to decent folk who came to the well. That was most everyone except for all knights, which I happily sent the dragon’s way and got rewarded.

“Return for your piece of gold in an hour, witch. You know I like to play with my food a while first,” said the dragon.

The End

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Heroic
By DJ Tyrer

Hero’s skilful blade
Kingdom freed from dragon’s wrath
Maiden’s gratitude
King’s sin of complicity
Glossed by half-kingdom reward

Pining
By Harris Coverley

across the grey sands
looking for the goddess but—
just broken seashells

Issue 32 – Spectral

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Incorporeal
They appear to the living
Unfinished business

By K. A. Williams

The wind, empty buildings, and
imagination…
the only ghosts in ghost towns.

By David Edwards

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Vague Apparition
By Harris Coverley

I glimpsed at the clock on the mantelpiece
And saw a human face within it

Not in the clock’s analogue circle itself
But reflected in its glass cover

It was the face of an old man —
Haggard, ashen, drowning, sad

I turned to the window behind me
In an attempt to see its rightful owner

There was nobody there
Just my own reflection

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Afraid of the Dark
By DJ Tyrer

Shadows slowly creeping
Up the stair, along the hall
Whilst you are sleeping
Shadows creep up the wall
Fitfully your eyes open wide
Something disturbed your sleep
From the dark nowhere to hide
Pray God your soul to keep
Admit the truth, if you will:
Do you fear the darkling night
When the very air is still
And there is no comforting light?
If you are afraid of the dark, my son
Then quake, for the night has just begun

Originally published in The Horror Zine.

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Goodbye Ghosts
By K. A. Williams

My least favourite commercial came on TV during one of my favourite shows.

The man on the screen said, “Are pesky ghosts bothering the mice, squirrels, and bats in your attic? Then call our exterminators – ‘Goodbye Ghosts’. We’ll bring out our electromagnetic cage and get rid of them for you. The ghosts, that is. You’ll have to call different exterminators to get rid of any other pests you might have in your attic.”

Dan turned to his wife, Laura, and said, “We should call.”

“Do you really think so?”

“We’ve already tried our Ouija board and a seance to see what the ghost wanted and that didn’t work.”

I had managed to appear just once. The only times I howled were when they changed channels during a show I wanted to watch. I kept trying to operate the remote myself but my invisible fingers just passed through the buttons.

When they got out their Ouija board, I’d been unable to move the planchette at all.

The medium they hired didn’t even try to contact me. All she did was roll her eyes and pretend to go into a trance. What a phoney. She just wanted the money.

***

The ‘Goodbye Ghosts’ exterminator came, set a cage down in the attic, and plugged its cord into an electrical outlet. The wires that were wrapped around it sparked, and I hoped the cage didn’t catch the attic on fire. Then we’d all be homeless.

***

A week later, Dan called ‘Goodbye Ghosts’ and got a disconnected number.

After that, he unplugged the cage and threw it into the trash. Everything in the attic was grateful.

***

Dan and Laura were now watching the reality show ‘Swimming With Squids’, after channel surfing. They had gone right past the TV show I wanted to watch, ‘Chet Morris, Private Eye’.

This time I tried to switch channels with my mind instead of my invisible fingers. It worked!

“Why did you change the channel?” Dan asked. “They were introducing the squids.”

“I didn’t change it. I thought you did.”

They both looked at the remote that sat between them on the sofa.

“Maybe the ghost prefers this show,” Dan said.

Laura picked up the remote. “Or this is defective.”

Dan rummaged through a drawer in the table that sat next to the sofa, and pulled out a universal remote. “Let’s try this one.”

He set the channel to the squids and I changed it again.

“I told you,” Dan said. “Think about it. The only time the ghost howls is while we’re watching TV.”

“Right, just after we’ve changed channels from a cop program to a reality show.”

“I wish we’d known before we spent all that money on a seance, and the electromagnetic cage.”

“Then there’s no need to try and get rid of our ghost anymore?” asked Laura.

“Not if you don’t mind letting our ghost pick the TV shows.”

“Maybe we can compromise.”

I could do that. After all, it was their house now.

The End

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The Breton Boat
By Aeronwy Dafies

I was strolling on the beach after a light dinner at the guesthouse where I was staying. The Breton coast is beautiful, especially when bathed in moonlight.

Suddenly, a mist began to rapidly roll in from the sea. I felt a shiver run through me, fearful that, not knowing the locale well, I should become lost.

I began slowly to retrace my steps.

Ahead of me, I could hear the sound of oars in the sea, a slow rhythmic splashing.

Ho!” I called, shouting in French, not knowing Breton. “I’m lost. Can you help me?”

You are indeed,” came back a heavy, cold voice out of the mist, in English, to my surprise.

Ah, you speak English.”

I speak all tongues,” came the reply. I let it pass.

I could, now, hear the sound of other people moving about on the beach not far from me and, yet, I could see no-one for the mist.

I’m lost,” I repeated. “Could you help me return to Ste Marc’h?”

No,” came the reply. “I have a job to do.”

I could hear the people boarding the boat. For no apparent reason, unless it were the chill air, I shivered again.

What is your job? Ferryman? But, where can you be taking these people with just oars?”

I am the Ferryman of the Dead. I carry the souls of the departed away, in this, my boat. Some call me Death, others Charon. Whatever my name, I come for everyone in the end.”

Then, the oars began to splash again, slowly receding into the mist as I stood there, shivering upon the shore. As quickly as it had come, the mist departed and, by the light of the moon, I could see that I wasn’t more than a hundred yards from where I was staying. Had I dreamt I’d met Death? Had I really encountered the departure of the deceased? I didn’t know.

With another shiver, I quickly made my way back to the guesthouse and a stiff drink!

Ends

Originally published in Awen and available in her booklet of spooky tales, The Haunted Tree.

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Haunting high meadows
the ghosts of caterpillars
silent in their fright

By David Edwards

Twittering Spirits
By Cardinal Cox

Bots on social media digest posts
Checking what you liked all those years alive
Bequeathing noisy electronic ghosts
So to seem some small part of you survives

Sell them to you while you are still breathing
To echo you in the ever after
Supposed to comfort those who are grieving
But you will never hear their weak laughter

As it repeats old jokes – terrible puns
Comments on post-mortal posts of others
Signs petitions for restrictions on guns
Blows cold kisses to all those dead lovers

Come – as Odysseus – pour libations
Consult the algorithm creations

Premature
By Harris Coverley

across the graveyard
the ring of a coffin bell
it will wake the dead

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Issue 31 – Goblin Market

Disorderly piles
Filth, refuse, treasures galore
Goblin marketplace

By DS Davidson

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Gobble it up!
By Mark Hudson

Look at this hobgoblin market,
everything looking like a bargain.
Goblins hocking wares, Bark it!
Selling just like textbook jargon.

Want an E.T movie poster?
Want a Goonies Lunch Box?
Want a Gremlins drink coaster?
Want a goblin grandfather clock?

It’s all here at this strange bazaar,
buy a monstrous rock guitar.
You’ll never figure out the chords,
or take a look at the sharp swords.

Got pests in your house? Is it your spouse?
Get this fool-proof vampire mouse!
She will be climbing on top of a stool,
or do you wish to be more cruel?

Goblins offering goblin food,
be forewarned; it’s a bit crude!
Taste the goblin fish and chips,
get a massage with chains and whips.

You can go to the dungeon below,
the stakes are high; but the prices are low!
Buy some illegal goblin beer,
wear an eye-patch and belch with a sneer!

If you want to drag the kids along,
be careful to watch who they’re among!
And if they got lost at the bazaar,
that’s less passengers in your car!

Remember to find what suits you the most,
you might even be followed home by a ghost!
Returning home, might bring you despair,
your wallet is empty, the true thing that scares!

Goblins For Sale
By K. A. Williams

“So you want to buy a goblin, eh?”
“Yes, unless you’re giving them away.”

The seller made them stand in line for me.
Ugliest creatures I ever did see.

Short with green skin, long noses, and big ears.
Lots of jagged teeth that grow sharper with years.

I studied each creature, both young and old,
picked out the right one, and paid with some gold.

“I’ll take him off the group chain. Are you sure?
He’s mean, and their bites are hard to cure.”

“Don’t worry, I’m a wizard, I’ll be okay.”
“What do you want with a goblin, by the way?”

“I’m also an artist, I’m painting him.”
The goblin growled and I thought he was dim.

“I’m going to paint your picture, not you.”
“Then you don’t need to fear me, if that’s true.
But a model should be paid. Set me free.”
“When I’m done with my painting. Certainly.”

The goblin and I left the market right then,
and he gave his seller an evil grin.

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Hobnobblin’ with the Goblin
By Harris Coverley

I saw the goblin at the end of the bar in my local, refusing the stool and instead the blue-green claws of his legs grasping the handle running along the outside—he looked like a novelty light fixture. I sidled up him and asked, “So, is the goblin market back in town already?” And he replied, “You know you’re the third arsehole who’s asked me that.” I pacified him with a fresh drink, and he got to talking about his everlasting hunt for gold, his kidnapping and ransoming of maiden’s children, and his campaign of spoiling villager’s crops. And I talked about my graft in the insurance game—it wasn’t too dissimilar. The trouble came when he began to scrape through the flat white hairs on his scalp and pick out blood red fleas to snack on. The barmaid came up to us and barked, “No outside food!” And this caused a row so nasty it ended with him throwing his pint glass to the floor and slouching off out. I followed after him, but there was nothing in the street, not even a shadow of the sprite, except for something in the gutter that snatched my eye—a small flyposter, pink set, water-faded, emblazoned with its subject in tall and slim gothic lettering: GOBLIN MARKET 2021—1st to 15th August—Rossetti Square—ONLY SERIOUS TRADERS AND BUYERS ADMITTED—goblinmartonline.co.uk

at the bar’s far end
hobnobblin’ with the goblin
Jägerbombs on him

Midnight Market
By Cardinal Cox

Hacked CCTV to repeat images from a previous night
Hulking steroid-ripe ogres standing as
Bouncers – taking bribes from traders for pitches
A wall of cardboard scraps requesting crash space
For displaced folks from flooded fens
And family feuds; or information;
Or small-ads; or offering services
Flyers for gigs in front rooms
To raise the week’s rent
Zine peddler swap meet on blankets
Open bags – curling corners – crinkled covers
Book dealers on trestle tables – actual books!
Richard Allen – William Burroughs
Sven Hassel – Lydia Lunch
Each of the market’s four corners has
Music stalls with crackly CD players
Blaring vintage skipping disks
Cassette tapes for amulets hung round neck
Fragrant clouds from vegan fajitas & root stew
Laddeled into mugs, bowls or old containers
Punters pull from prepared packs
Techttoos of smart ink sigils
Sewn into proffered nervous skin
Engineers armed with soldering irons
And volt metres upgrading old
Handsets and headsets and holosets
Neural inputs flushed – cleaned – re-bored
Widened for greater bandwidth
Pharmacologist/shaman with herbs
And fungi switching on illumination
For the confused – the cursed – the possessed
Fibre optic torques for those with aspirations
Pick-pockets and secret police
Retired ravers and righteous Rastafarians
Tourists and ’tween fare taxi drivers
Sipping bitter black acorn coffee
Badges of forgotten bands – Destructors
Black Marias – Evil Macaroni – The Now
Medals from the Relief of Euston
The siege of Sizewell – Battle of Stonehenge
Some veterans legacy pawned for food
Sounds of seventy languages
Slang – cant – machine code
Two urban foxes with their limited
Vocabulary – cognitive enhancing
Chemical having entered the food chain
Wise salmon in distant rivers
Rat towns aggressively occupying London
Underground – and the foxes – mangey
Begging scraps from drunkards
Cobblers repairing boots beside the bar
While customers wince a home-brew beer
Graffiti artists co-operating on a mural
Of the market’s legendary founder – Buddha-fat
Sadhu-hirsute – third-eye blazing
Wide upon his forehead – collage crew
Ready to add Dadaist headlines
Seamsters repurposing scavenged clothes
With needle and filament wire
Mats for break-dancers spinning for coins
Street poets and rappers battling
With insults and invective – dumping
Fly-tipped verbal garbage on each
Others boasts worthy of flyting skalds
Everywhere the range of humans
Overseen by Neander-DNA expressing
Goblinz – there’s a satyr with horns
Amongst their hair – djinn gang boss
With rakshasa bodyguard gifted
Personal space – people augmented with
Hardware – software – greyware – pinkware
Smart drugs – gene spliced
And everywhere the call
Come buy! Come buy! Come Buy!

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Goblin Hoard
By DJ Tyrer

Treasures piled high
Sold low
Coins scattered beneath
Goblin feet of
Scurrying salesmen
Seeking a quick profit
Eye for a sale
Keen to be gone
Before owner returns
Blazing dragon flame

Dragon Egg
By K. A. Williams

Dragon egg for sale
Price is negotiated
Excited buyer waits
Baby ostrich hatches

Issue 30 – Hic sunt dracones… part two

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Here Were Dragons
By DS Davidson

Once dragons ruled here
No longer
The poetic beauty of living flame
Overthrown by prosaic utility
The high-flying by the earthbound
The fire gone out of the world
Leaving only memories
Memories that fade with time

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Pytho of Chthon
By Harris Coverley

serpentine figure
fiery herpetology
sweet god of chaos
until felled by Apollo
at the centre of the Earth

dragon-4417431_640Notes on the Unfortunate Extinction of Dragons
By Lee Clark Zumpe

Book 1

Little is known about the mating practices
of the predominant species:
the Welsh Red, for instance, disappeared
before a single nest could be found.

It is generally presumed that females laid eggs
once every two hundred years –
genetics predisposed them to small broods
consisted of no more than six young.

A reliable medieval source, however, reports
on the infamous lindwurm of Klagenfurt:
that beast sired a clan of twenty
two-legged, winged dragons over one century.

Tragically, locals butchered the beast’s offspring,
fearing for the welfare of their farms;
only a handful were said to have survived
the angst-fueled bravado of overzealous knights.

Biologists assert that to maintain a steady population,
to ensure an adequate food source for succeeding generations,
reproduction likely only occurred once or twice
during the ordinary dragon’s life cycle.

For thousands of years, dragons topped the food chain
in each milieu they occupied
they remained untouched by disease;
they knew no competition from rival carnivores.

When finally faced with a threat to their existence
by the emergence of human civilization,
dragons simply lacked the numbers necessary
t
o sustain a prolonged fight against extinction.

Book 2

Dragonologists unanimously lament the scarcity
of skeletal fragments for clinical research:
Unlike comparatively common dinosaur fossils
(which evidentially may
be found in anyone’s backyard twenty feet
beneath the spot where the previous
owners buried their beloved pets),
dragon bones are as hard to find as Atlantean coins,
an unflustered elferingewort and harpy feathers.

Anthropologists studying prehistoric medicine
offer an explanation for the troublesome shortage,
citing excavations in Europe and Asia:
the ancient shaman sought dragon bone
for its alleged healing properties –
moreover, ground into a fine power,
combined with unknown components,
dragon bones yield a rumored fertility tool
coveted as recently as the 17th century.

Recently, dubious reports have circulated –
countries are said to have stockpiled dragon bones,
amassing them in high-security military facilities:
concocted by conspiracy theorists,
stories suggest specialists seek to perfect
All plain unsubstantiated fiction spawned
by paranoid individuals with avid imaginations.

 

Lee’s work has earned several honourable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror collections. As entertainment editor for Tampa Bay Newspapers, his work has been recognized repeatedly by the Florida Press Association, including a first place award for criticism in the 2013 Better Weekly Newspaper Contest.

Learn more at http://www.leeclarkzumpe.com

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Dragonslayer
By DJ Tyrer

Ground shudders, shakes, quakes
Mighty dragon devouring
Kingdom helpless falls
Shining sword in hero’s hand
How the mighty are fallen

Originally published in Tigershark issue 19, Autumn 2018

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Two Opinions
By David Edwards

Diptych

Dragons went extinct
not from dragon hunts
(dragonslayer organized)
nor natural selection
nor from climate change
nor from falling stars–
too many, too strange–
but indifference.
Human beings simply found
(capriciousness it appears)
other things around
more fearsome to fear.

Haiku

Dragons never died,
they simply shrank in size. They’re
now called ‘dragonflies’.

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I Know No George…
By Harris Coverley

I know no George…
I do not recognise whom you speak of
So persistently

I was born in the darkness
Before the beginning of time
With Chronos
As he made Aether and Chaos
And the Egg of Phanes

In the chaoskampf I was slain
By a thunder-god barely formed
He the force of Order
Me his counterpart

I ran alongside Huwawa
As Enkidu took his head

They called me Leviathan
When I placed my tail in my mouth
And wrapped it around the pillars of the Earth

Against Zeus I had my myriad heads seared off
And was banished to Tartarus
Like a common Titan

But I know no George
So please don’t ask me again…

Under the Pharaohs I was treated poorly
Spat upon and fettered by the priests
My waxen effigies burned
And forced to lie below the horizon

In old Hindoostan I was struck down
By that usurping Indra
My fortresses destroyed
And my rivers stolen from underneath me

And in my greatest shame:
Beowulf did take his dirty vengeance
And plough his pathetic dagger into me

That killer of an innocent child
And his poor, grieving mother!
Such an immortal disgrace!

But as I say: I know no George
You must be thinking of someone else
And I wish you would cease asking…

Imprisoned now in overblown
And garish heraldry
For all eternity

But still, I shall say a final time:
I know no George, I know no George…

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Lunch
By K. A. Williams

Dragonslayer
Sneaks into a cave
A blast of fire
Toasted slayer
The dragon’s favourite dish

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Issue 29 – Hic sunt dracones… part one

Here Be Dragons
By David Babatunde Wilson

Sometimes, in ancient days
Maps bore the words
Here be Dragons”
In unknown lands
Where adventures lay

Sometimes, in my heart
I feel dragons
When I see your face
And dream of the unknown
Adventures ahead

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Here Be Dragons
By DS Davidson

Hidden from the world
More cunning than men
Dragons hide
In secret corners
And on unknown isles
Waiting
Waiting
Biding their time
Till the day no more slayers
Humanity grows too weak
Flabby, fearful
Then to re-emerge
Resume their crowns
In a deluge of prismatic flame

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first-born, flame-born, wyrms
wings wide, scintillating, flame
source of awe, terror
in talons hold life and death
wisdom and devastation

By Aeronwy Dafiesdragon-1969052_640

Cyberian Dragon
By Cardinal Cox

drowsy – lolling across cryptocurrency
hoard looted from datamine
each of the silicon-mix obsidian scales
etched with microcircuit processor
silver eye orbs function as inverse
VR – projecting out into the dark
fibre-optic nervous system filled
with light – liquid nitrogen
blood cooling hard-drive heart
ready in fragment of a second
to go flaming against either troll
or knight in blockchain mail

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Dragonfire
By DJ Tyrer

Alien dragon
Mythic star-straddling entity
Flesh like blazing plasma
Scales of deep-space ice
Breath like comets
Or solar flares
Blazing across the heavens
Cosmic dragonfire

Originally published in Aphelion webzine issue 236, February 2019

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Rainbow Valley
By Nieske den Heijer

Not long after the dragon had landed on top of Mount Everest, several channels were live broadcasting it to all corners of the world. Cameras attached to drones tried to catch every movement of the enormous limbs, and the pearlescent glimmer of pearly scales against the snow.

And then they spoke, greeting the human race as a whole and offering their help. They had seen that the Earth was in trouble and promised pearls of wisdom to the people who would climb up to ask their questions. But be quick, they would only be staying a short while.

Immediately the world went wild. Tibet and Nepal tried to remind the world that such a thing as ‘climbing permits’ existed, but the hoards of people were unfathomed by such technicalities. The same masses were also prepared to disregard any regulations, and common sense, for this opportunity.

Some of the first climbers were altruistic humans, asking about climate change, education, equality or medicine. These people, most of whom made it back down, quickly dispersed, with a strange glow to their skin and a clear purpose.

Sadly, most that followed them were inclined towards selfishness. Especially the rich, who were by now the only ones who could get their hands on mountaineering gear or could pay the steep fees that a Sherpa could now charge. There were also the people with the least experience, and who, overcome by cold and envy, started falling over left and right.

A rumble came from the summit, as the dragon laughed. “Ah, the first few made me so hopeful for the human race, but the rest of you… ah the rest of you. I now know what I need to know, thank you very much.” They stretched their legs, scales glittering in the sunlight, which caused a global sigh from the people watching the news. Then they spread their leathery wings and a shudder went through the massive body as it readied for take-off. A few people on the summit begged for them to stay, and others screamed as they realised what was about to happen.

The dragon pushed off, the downwind from the wings pushing tons of snow downwards. A jumble of colourful snowsuits made their way down the mountain, in a strange way mirroring the gleam of the scales that caught beams of sunlight as the dragon flew off to wherever it had come from. Then the cameras went black.

Ends

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Foolheart
By Harris Coverley

“o’er there be dragons”
“I fear nothing!”―ended up
crunchy with ketchup

 

Want tales of dragons and slayers?

Watch out for Crunchy With Ketchup – coming soon from Wolfsinger Publications

Issue 28 – Amazing Vacations

Take your submarine
Holiday in Atlantis
Nice enough, but damp

By Aeronwy Dafies

 

Best Vacation Implants
By K. A. Williams

Walking on the Moon
Sightseeing in Atlantis
Riding a dragon

 

Lubberland
By Harris Coverley

to the west of Spain
fair Cockayne — rivers of wine
facedown in vomit

 

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The Beach On Tiragell
By K. A. Williams

Twin moons illuminated the beach. When clouds briefly blocked the light, I could still hunt seashells because they glowed in the dark. I had my choice of the biggest and brightest ones because not many other people were on this stretch of beach far away from the hotels.

I was thrilled when I found a big green and blue striped shell. I picked it up. It squirted wet sand into my face and squelched. The device in my ear translated, “Throw me back in the ocean, you alien!”

I wiped the sand from my eyes and threw the bossy thing out to sea. After that I made sure the shells were empty before placing them into my bag.

I could hear the surf and something else too. I pulled zooms from my pocket and focused them on the water.

Little merpeople were riding waves in toward the shore and jumping off before they hit. And laughing. I watched them surf until they got tired and returned to the ocean depths.

As I pocketed my zooms, the sand heaved nearby. Suddenly a creature popped out. It looked like a giant lizard and headed straight toward me.

There was nowhere to hide.

I was scared until he spoke. “Aren’t you the one who asked the desk for a midnight pickup? I’m Jathorg, your ride.”

Then, I noticed the saddle. “I can’t breathe under the sand. You’ll have to travel above ground.”

“That’s all right. Get on.”

I slipped my bag full of precious seashells over my shoulder, climbed onto his back and hung onto the saddle horn as Jathorg ran toward the hotel.

I was booked on the next transport for home and would really miss the beach on Tiragell.

The End

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Minds reincarnate
Holiday in the future
Mingle with mankind

By DJ Tyrer

 

Time Travel Trip
Or, Geoffrey Chaucer and the Flying Saucer
By Mark Hudson

I was on vacation, partly research,
when I came upon a church.
It was located near Canterbury,
looking for Chaucer’s cemetery.

An American scholar, looking to learn,
the life of English writers, and visit their urn.
I visited the grave of Geoffrey Chaucer,
when I got pulled up in a flying saucer.

I was greeted by jolly green men,
saying, “Would you like to go back again?”
Just when I thought I was getting crabby,
I was stolen from Westminster Abbey!

We sailed around the town of Picardy,
and the Martians passed a fifth of Bacardi.
Then they passed around a flask of wine,
and said, “We going to party like it’s 1399.”

We hung out with Lionel of Antwerp,
and then the Martians started to burp.
Lionel said, could you watch that belch?
It sounds distinctively like the Welch.”

Then we saw the English vernacular,
I said to the Martians, “how spectacular!
might i also get to see Venice?
And see if they yet have invented tennis?’

The Martians said, “No, we took you too far!
now, we’re taking you back to Mars!
We’re taking you through an outer-space portal,
where along with Chaucer, you will be immortal!”

As I read The Cantebury Tales very thorough,
I read the Martian Tales – by Edgar Rice Burroughs!
Both writers were the kings of mighty Mars,
and there was my destiny – right with the stars!

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Across universe
Distant vacation planet
Hungry bugs visit

By DS Davidson

 

Another planet
Strange form oddly arousing
Holiday romance

By DJ Tyrer

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Issue 27 – Mars

Mars, barren planet
in which angry god resides…
red its countenance.
Barren, surfeit of slaughter.
Red with the tincture of blood.

By David Edwards

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Lonely here on Mars
Only company robots
Plus faulty AI
Unless counting the fruit-flies
Over in habitat three

By DS Davidson

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The Last Martian
By Harris Coverley

thin slither of life
found in red dust—finger slips
shit… any tissues?”

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Mars Terraforming Committee – First Meeting
By K. A. Williams

1st Speaker: “Earth has too many seas. Mars should have none.”
Chairman: “No marine life or beaches? Mars needs at least one.”
2nd Speaker: “We can bring back some extinct animals and plants.”
Chairman: “That’s up to scientists when we get the grants.”
3rd Speaker: “Bring back the dinosaurs. That would be so cool.”
Chairman: “With the new world colonists? Don’t be a fool.”
Chairman: “Guard, why did you let this man into my meeting?”
Guard: “Sorry. He must have slipped in while I was eating.”
4th Speaker: “No animals with a deadly bite or sting.”
5th Speaker: “Lots of butterflies and colorful birds that sing.”
6th Speaker: “No volcanos anywhere. Remember Pompeii.”
Chairman: “We’re making good progress. Let’s adjourn for today.”
Chairman: “I promised you lunch and there should be plenty.”
Chairman: “Unless the guard hasn’t left us any.”

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Interlude
By Cardinal Cox

The horizon on Mars is much closer than on Earth (due to the relative size of the planet) so it is easy to wander out of sight of the base aerials. Just a moments distraction by an interesting boulder and there’s only the satellite link between you and abandonment.

wind scours the plains
sand blast splits rocks – dunes advance
the slow tiger hunts

The bulk of the base is below the surface with scree piled over it to try and increase the insulation from cosmic radiation. In here the horizon is seldom more than an arms length away so mandatory exercise is conducted wearing V-headsets to create the illusion that you are in some forest or empty beach.

home a snug burrow
search for fresh cabbage fields
dream of Mount Fuji

The news is similarly enclosed. Local reports focus on the Chinese investigation into the mass suicide of the Tibetan monks (sponsored on the whim of a Mumbai billionaire) in the now abandoned former-Indian sector. The local Zen monastery (similarly the bequest of an electronics tycoon) prays for their souls but refuses to discuss the possibility of them reincarnating in the native nests in the lava tubes beneath Olympus Mons.

cargo craft is due
comforts cost more than if gold
crawls long curve from Earth

Headlines from Earth consist of the President in Yellow in the U.S.; arrests of druids of Nodens in Brittany; the civil war in Arabia and the rebel stronghold of Irem; rumours of a fresh South American A.I.

morning and evening
star – faint over horizon
home a twinkle dot

She thinks of her brother at home in Japan and hopes she will see him at the end of this tour of duty.

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If the Moon was a Part of Mars…
By Harris Coverley

Inspired by the 45th President of the United States: “[NASA] should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”

If the Moon was a part of Mars
The canals would’ve been so much longer
And the Martians would not have had
Any need to invade us
And be killed off by our alien bacteria
Because their resource management
Would’ve been more sustainable

If the Moon was a part of Mars
The sands of both would swirl together
Into something resembling decorative bath salts
Or maybe a sugary dip for a lollipop
Something that children would want to taste
(And that I myself wouldn’t mind having a lick of)

If the Moon was a part of Mars
The God of War would be joined
At the hip with the goddess Luna
And they would make such an odd couple
What with all his masculine aggression
And her with mainly agricultural concerns
A divorce (or surgery) would be inevitable

If the Moon was a part of Mars
The tides of our world would be ridiculous
Entire continents would be submerged overnight
And fauna and flora as we know it could not possibly exist

If the Moon was a part of Mars
It’s possible that some things might’ve been easier
But that is not the universe we live in
And we are forced to act accordingly

originally published in Star*Line, 42.3, Summer 2019

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Invaders From Mars
By DJ Tyrer

Peculiar how probes missed them
Children of a barren world
Seeking a new home
Arrive in their millions
Overwhelming force
Humanity knuckles under
Preparing the counter-attack
For control of a devastated Earth

Issue 26 – The Fey

All those glints of light:
pixies… goblins… gremlins… sprites
performing their arts.

By David Edwards

The Fairy Tree
By Aeronwy Dafies

Tasselled with ribbons
Offerings to the Fair Folk
Pleasant verbal facade
For cruel and tricksy beings
Whose maidens dance here
On moonlit nights
Do not visit then
Not if you would stay
Safe and sane

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Pests
By Harris Coverley

Clogging up the gutters. Stealing grains of rice. Turning knobs that should not be turned from their optimal settings. Putting CDs in the wrong cases. Planting weeds on the patio, and moss on the roof. Leaving the lid off the cream cheese, and the cap off the toothpaste. Bursting biscuit packets to make your chocolate digestives soft and stale—your fancy cracked black pepper and truffle oil crisps as well. Tearing teabags to overpower your cuppa, and pouring salt in your coffee jar. Untightening the screwtop on the milk so it spills when you shut the fridge. Breeding the moths by the bathroom light. Snipping the folded end of the Sellotape so you can never find it. Losing you a sock from a pair for three years. Pushing cans close to expiration to the back of the cupboard, and then leaving the door open so you bang your head. Mis-angling the paper in the printer. Parking your car in first gear so it shunts into the wall when you start it. Packing stolen crumbs into furniture grooves. Moving your bookmark forward five pages to reveal prematurely “whodunit”. Pricking your condoms with a pin. Letting the menu-leaflet for the good curry house slip behind the bureau so you have to order from the mediocre one.

They are everywhere and nowhere and somewhere. Indiscernible spectres not higher than your middle finger, and always giving you theirs for your trouble. Tiny shits with two legs, two arms, big yellow grins, and too much time on their dirty little hands…

The Vilf
By Cardinal Cox

Morphogenic fields ripple through from
A higher reality via LHC
Children grow straight and pale
White of snow – of clouds – of blossom
White of split-pine – of bleached bones
Hair takes a green sheen in Spring
Turning auburn and chestnut in Autumn
Vrikshakas and Vanir in velvet
Old lace – vintage leather
Fauns of fallow fields and forests
Woses of wild woods
Leshy of the lush lawns
Dryads of distant dells
Dance the troy town maze
Imprint upon DNA helix
The Vinyl spiral of Aznageel the Mage
Reflecting back into silicon realities
Runes on LED screens
Goggles and immersion tanks
Gateways to parallel lands

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Lacking skeletons
fairies leave nothing behind,
no hinting at death;
disappearing like smoke rings
not really sure they drew breath.

By David Edwards

Mermaid Discusses Dissolution
By Akua Lezli Hope

I watched your movies for clues
when ashore collecting

shining stars as breadcrumbs
to follow through and out denial’s woods

in bits you tell a truth

The Shrinking Man
becomes one with everything
his diminution an expansion
ascending to the cosmic

Powder burst in light
fraught and heartfull
flowering grace of radiant waves
transmuted to a higher vibration

Closest to me, a Lull in the Sea’s
seagod dissolves into feeling
suffusing a now sensate ocean
with his yearning and desire

Do not recast my ending
though this communique
may be garbled

for love and lack
daring and failure
I became another
infinitude—foam

no tears, please
for my evolution.

Pookhamon
By Cardinal Cox

Little spirits sparked in Tamagochi
Cycle of rebirth takes them to furbies
Virtual pets with fleeting existence
In social media games
E-souls experiencing and growing
Karma earns them incarnations
In household smart speakers
Random laughter at 2AM
Siri – recite the heart sutra ten thousand times
Alexa – find the mechanisms mantra
Kami of the internet of things

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My Favourite Fey
By Mark Hudson

I have a favourite little Fey
I like to call her Tina Fey
She reminds me of Fey Dunaway
and the Portrait of Dorian Grey
She is a tiny little pixie,
she worked at the grocery store Winn-Dixie,
She worked at the grocery store Kroger’s,
where she served a bunch of ogres.
At the stores, she worked with elves,
who were stocking all the shelves.
She also worked with dwarves,
who worked out on the wharves.
She’s about as little as my thumb,
she’s like a shot glass of rum,
from the fairy kingdom,
she’s my microscopic chum.
She fills me with lots of lust,
with her bag of pixie dust.
It works just like a charm,
yet I don’t ever do her harm.
She knows how to please a man,
by doing what she can
I feel so attracted to she,
the woman I can barely see.

Pixie-led
By DJ Tyrer

Recognise nothing
Peculiarly confused
Led by the pixies

Issue 25 – Cosmic Joke

You Jest
By DS Davidson

Sir, surely you jest
Or, is this a test?
Such things cannot be –
They are beyond rationality!

 

Vultures from Outer Space
By Mark Hudson

The crew of the ship got off on the moon,
they didn’t know that they would die soon,
they hoped to do some science research,
but some alien vultures began to perch.
Outer space vultures, tending to frighten,
some maybe thought they came from Titan.
More notorious than vultures from earth,
and none of them were cute like a Smurf.
Bald headed birds, with red beady eyes,
they took all the astronauts by surprise.
They tried to race back to their ship,
but these alien vultures were really quick.
Sucking through space suits; biting through bones,
the astronauts wished that they could go home.
The vultures looked like monstrous goblins,
They radioed back, “Houston, we got a problem.”
Without weapons to fight crazy condors,
the astronauts found themselves getting devoured.
NASA watched this, with increasing fear,
Look out! The space vultures just might be near!

The Purple Jester
By DJ Tyrer

I am the Purple Jester
I prance and dance and sing
I clamber up inside the roof
And make the rafters ring.

I am the Purple Jester
I caper, prance and act the fool
I cast down the mighty
And break every single rule.

I am the Purple Jester
I perform for all I’m worth
I reveal strange secrets to all
For I am not of this Earth.

False-Meat Vegan Spaghetti
By Miguel Fliguer

Camilla: You, sir, should eat those ribs.
Stranger: Indeed?
Camilla: Indeed it’s time.
Cassilda: We all have partaken in the barbecue but you.
Stranger: I eat no meat.
Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda.) No meat? No meat!

The Vegan King, Act I, Scene 2


Deep in the forest portobellos grow
At the lichened foot of eerie trees
Collect them when the suns set
And twin shadows lengthen
In Carcosa

Large onions fall under the knife
Olive oil sizzles in the pan
Sautee until clear with a pinch of garlic
The way they do it in
Lost Carcosa

Cleaned quartered portobellos
Join the onions in the frying dance
Over a bed of dying embers
Watch them and think of
Old Carcosa

From the King’s secret vines
Grapes birth their crimson harvest
Simmer a cup in the fungal sauce
The fragrance will take you
To Carcosa

Ancient rivers boil in the pot
With salt, oil, and spaghetti
Serve them when al dente
Topped with sauce and vegan cheese
From Carcosa

The twin suns had drowned in the lake
Strange moons wander in the dusk
Song of my soul, I am so hungry
Suppertime is nigh
In Carcosa

 

False-Meat Vegan Spaghetti is a tongue-in-cheek prose-poem / delicious recipe, obviously inspired by Chambers’ Cassilda Song from The King In Yellow. It is a slightly edited reprint from Cooking With Lovecraft (2017), which is available in paperback and on the Kindle from Amazon.

Miguel Fliguer ( TW: @cookingwithHPL ) lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His first book, Cooking With Lovecraft, received moderate praise from genre luminaries like S.T. Joshi and Wilum H. Pugmire. His short stories and collaborations are featured in Axxon Magazine (Argentina), Círculo de Lovecraft (Spain), Crypt of Cthulhu (USA), Vastarien (USA), the Ancestors & Descendants and Weird Tails anthologies (UK), and the Necronomnomnom and Lovecraft Cocktails illustrated culinary grimoires (Red Duke Games).

Issue 24 – Cosmic Horrors

Tentacle twitches
Strange dreams haunt alien mind
Cthulhu’s nightmare

By DS Davidson

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Kosmische
By Cardinal Cox

First our machine intelligences migrated out into the void – Mars, Alpha Centauri, Polaris. We thought them immune but they built temples in orbit around neutron stars, projecting prayers around the gravity wall-of-death into the distant future. Humans had to negotiate with the higher-dimensional hive-minds of Yuggoth via their harvested multi-species tanked brains so that the flimsy spacecraft might be allowed to participate in the wormhole ceremonies of Yog-Sothoth. The whisper in orbital ports is that every starman’s a little mad. Well, when you’ve seen (ruins (older than all life on Earth) beneath a star teetering on the verge of going nova… or realised that the formulae reveals Dark Matter to be just the weight of loneliness between galaxies; the mass of insignificance before nebulae; the pressure of the microwave background radiation (the cool, ever pervading echo of the big bang)…

 

Void
By DJ Tyrer

Interstellar space
Strange horrors lurk in the void
Primordial things
Older than the galaxies
Incomprehensibly old

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Alien Thoughts
By Aeronwy Dafies

Strange ideas, conceptions
Float within brains that
Float within fluid vats
Long since divorced from flesh
Long since gone far from home
So far they cannot even recall
Their home world, its star
Or even their own form
Let alone the alien beauty
Of silver skies, coral-like trees
Or strange crawling things
That once served them as cattle
Leaving a peculiar hole
In whatever passes for a soul
And an ache when they see
Blue skies, green grass, earthly trees
That boils into a cosmic rage

Originally published in Tigershark ezine

 

Interdimensional Ghosts
By K. A. Williams

Nightmares are caused by
interdimensional ghosts
that invade our dreams.

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The Dream of the Worm
By Harris Coverley

 

Going through the Gates of Dzungaria
You come across the ruins of Gochen
Between the heights of Hyperborea
And tightly tucked within the blackened glen

 

Foolish mankind has long since been and gone
Not so much vanquished as destroyed in whole
Whether in Africa or in Ceylon
By the coming of the terrible Dholes

 

The worms ruled this world for a million years
The land stripped of all fair and nutrient
Other older races made clear their fears
As the megadriles acted prurient

 

But ev’ry civilisation declines
Falling from their arcologies of bone
Cultures decay, social orders unwind
Their slimy bodies were slowly dethroned

 

Now but an individual remains
Resting beneath that accursed city
Waiting eternally with frozen veins
The dreaming worm that still feels no pity

 

No fossilised corpses would dare to weep
While the conqueror worm so soundly sleeps

 

Originally published in Speculations: Poetry from The Weird Poets Society 2018 (March 2019, ed. Frank Coffman)

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Arcane Stars
By DJ Tyrer

The arcane perturbations of the planets
Those wandering stars that dance through the sky
Mirrored by tiny, invisible movements of distant suns
And the more curious motions of dark stars unseen
Render a certain dread alignment
That coming together in blaspheming congress
Called by hidden savants the day
When the stars are right

Originally published in Spectral Realms issue 3