Silly Henry

by Andrew Openshaw

Momentary blackness, followed by a bright flash, then Henry became aware of himself again.

His damaged eyes meant he couldn’t focus, but he could make out a faint outline of his surroundings. That was enough; Henry knew exactly where he was. “Oh, God. Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.”

In his right hand, he was holding on to the stick. With his left hand shaking uncontrollably, Henry reached up to touch his face. He felt scabs. So, they had drawn blood, this is really happening. “Oh God.”

Then he was moving, not of his own accord, but because his body seemed compelled to move. Henry was weak and again the stick became a necessary aid for walking.

There was only one way he could go and that was along the street. As much as he tried, Henry couldn’t turn and go the other way. Nor could he cross the road on his left to the pavement on the other side.

To his right, with his impaired vision, he could make out walls and hedges with houses behind them. And in the distance, traffic was moving along the adjacent main road. Henry was sick to the stomach.

After a few difficult paces, the sun beating down hard on his frail and shuddering frame, Henry heard the first squawk, then a flutter of wings. “No!” he cried, as he started waving the stick around in the air, trying to bat away his two winged tormentors.

Soon the birds were circling him, squawking in unison now, one after the other.

Henry continued stumbling forward, dragged by an unknown force. “…and buy some fucking milk on your way home”, one of the birds screeched. That was the last thing Gillian had shouted to him before he left the house.

“Oh, Gillian”, Henry whispered, and he began to sob.

The birds’ wings were beating faster now; they were rushing at him and trying to get him to fall over. A searing pain entered Henry’s head. He dropped the walking stick and bent over, instinctively covering his face with his hands. In his mind’s eye was an image, crystal clear. It was Toby’s toy giraffe, smiling back up at him.

A bird squawked, “Aw, what’s Mr. Giraffe’s name, Toby?” But Henry knew that it was the girls speaking to him now.

Without the stick, there to give him balance, Henry soon found himself down on the pavement. The birds began swooping and pecking at his legs, arms and face. The pain was relentless and Henry couldn’t do anything to stop them. He wailed in agony.

When the birds finally eased off, Henry fumbled around and found the walking stick again. He leveraged himself back to his feet. He could hear the birds flapping up ahead, and knew that his journey had nearly come to an end.

Henry could hear the traffic on the main road now and could make out the blurred outlines of people over the other side, near the shop.

When he reached the corner of the street, his eyes finally cleared and he could see again. Henry couldn’t close his eyes, though, not even to blink. All he could do was watch.

Above him, the birds began twirling around each other in an upward spiral, like a hurricane. Faster and faster until the swirling shape they had created split apart and two forms unwound their way to the ground.

Two girls stepped forward and walked around the corner of the street.

Henry looked to the road in front of him and there he was, guiding Toby’s pushchair to the edge of the path and waiting for a gap in the traffic so he could cross.

The scene pulsed like a heartbeat and Henry was back in that moment.

#

He and Gillian had been arguing again, so Henry had decided to get out of the house on this hot day and take Toby, who had another dreadful cold, out for a walk. He had crossed the road and was heading towards the Dene when two girls approached.

The girls, from the local university, were wearing skimpy shorts and low cut vests. They were like the girls from his fantasies.

Life had been difficult at home since Toby’s birth. Henry and Gillian hadn’t planned to get pregnant and neither of them was emotionally prepared to be parents. Or ready for the impact a new baby would have on their lives.

As their relationship gradually deteriorated during Toby’s first six months, Henry had begun to imagine himself with other women. He’d also found that the older he got; the younger the girls that he found attractive had become.

When these nubile freshers started coming towards him, Henry couldn’t believe his luck. Something within him snapped.

The girls were gushing over cute little Toby in his pushchair of course, but Henry was sure he could avert their attention to him instead. He was still quite attractive at forty-two; he could easily use Toby as a way into their affections.

Henry was nervous and excited, desperate not to let this opportunity slip away.  He was absolutely going to go through with this, the wheels were set in motion, nothing could stop him.

As the girls played with Toby and his toy giraffe, Henry began telling them how pretty they looked. He asked if they had boyfriends and then acted shocked when they both giggled and said no. He enquired about where they were going; they said, “Home, to sunbathe in the garden.”

Henry couldn’t stop himself; he said: “I’d very much like to see that.”

The girls giggled again and then one of them eventually replied, “Well you’re welcome to come over if you like. There’s only us in.” They both said, “Come on”, at the same time and began walking down one of the side streets.

Henry noticed they were holding hands.

His heart now racing, Henry instinctively followed, intently watching the shape of their tiny hips and the bulge in their shorts as they walked in front of him. He was thinking of bikinis, and ice cubes melting onto soft skin.

The sounds of the road behind him grew dimmer.

Suddenly the girls both turned to face Henry. Their pretty freckled faces had melted away into frightening demonic scowls. Their eyes were now swollen and red, their teeth elongated and discoloured and their once beautiful and tanned skin had become sallow.

They were both laughing and pointing over Henry’s shoulder. As Henry turned around to follow their gaze, everything seemed to start moving in slow motion.

Henry felt his mood drop; his excitement had turned to dread and his perverted smile reversed into an expression of fear and helplessness.

Across the road coming out of the shop, he noticed a woman had thrown her bags into the air, grocery items slowly spilling down around her. Her mouth was wide open, her eyes wild.

#

When the number 38 bus struck Toby’s pushchair, which had rolled into the road, Toby, ejected from his seat, began sailing up into the air. His toy giraffe following the same trajectory.

Henry remembered thinking how strange it was that Toby’s blanket had stayed wrapped around him, even though he was in flight. It made him look like a large grey bullet.

Things began speeding up again as Toby’s tiny body descended; he landed with a thud around ten meters away from the bus, which had come to an abrupt halt.

Sound flooded back into the scene. Henry could now hear the woman over the road screaming; horns were blaring, the frames and windows of cars caught in the resulting pileup were crunching and smashing.

There was, however, no sound of a wailing baby.

                   #

Henry tried to run towards Toby but found he couldn’t. An imperceptible force pulled him back into the street. He could hear the squawking of birds’ and then momentary blackness came followed by a bright flash.

And Henry, walking stick in his right hand, became fully aware of himself again.


Andrew Openshaw is a copywriter from Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK. An avid reader of fantasy and horror, he is now taking tentative steps into the world of speculative fiction. Married to Josephine, he is also proud parent to the world’s noisiest cats: Maxwell, Molko & Bodhi.

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Unseelie Songs

Unseelie Songs by Liúsaidh

For the past year we have published the dark, the horror, and the macabre. The stories that most other mags don’t want to touch or publish because they don’t fit with today’s politically correct themes.

Today we are taking a step further and present the first book published through Trigger Warnings, written by one of our awesome authors.

We’re proud to present these collected mythic works of dark storytelling in classical poetry forms and poetic prose. Passion, loss, and longing fill these pages in this startling, disturbing and darkly beautiful anthology perfect for Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, and the cusp of Winter.

BUY HERE

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Regina’s Reactions

By Andy Tu

 

Click again. Dig a little deeper.

You’re scared shitless, you’ll admit that much, but no one ever got anywhere listening to that voice inside their head, telling them to stop when things become difficult. And this is difficult, searching for the sickest things out there, but it becomes less so with each suicide, each murder, each picture that you view. They are studies of the human mind, who we truly are below the surface.

You are 32 years old, and you are an addict. But this is not an AA meeting, and you do not abuse a physical substance, although perhaps the acceleration of the heartbeat and the numbness of the face could be labeled as physical dependencies. But you know you could live without them. What you can’t live without is wondering what else is out there in the deep web, waiting for you to uncover.

This website is called Regina’s Reactions. Regina is 10 years old. There is a grainy picture of her with her arms clutching the metal bars of a cage. Continue reading

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My Baby isn’t Ready Yet

By Olivia J. Young

She had been lying like a bloated question mark for some time, how long I couldn’t say anymore. I counted days in the pooling sludge that had begun to halo around my wife, and our partially birthed child. Flies pecked at the windows, looking for the cracks that bled sunlight. Winged scavengers looking to make those cracks bleed flies.

Continue reading

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Night Heat

by Steve Carr

It was one of those nights. You know the kind of night I mean. The kind of night where you’re tortured by the heat. The kind of night when you’re alone in a cheap hotel and there’s no air conditioning. The fan above the bed just swirls the heat around and fills the air with the smell of ozone and kicks up the dust, stirring up odors from past desperate lodgers; rancid sweat, South American tobacco and poodle urine.

It’s amazing what can happen in a couple of hours, the time it takes for a guy who didn’t have much to begin with to lose the one thing that really mattered. Continue reading

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The Man That Wasn’t There

By Armarna Forbes

Three sharp knocks banged on Lionel’s bedroom door.  His mother’s muffled voice sounded agitated on the other side.  “Lionel!  You promised you were going to take care of that mess outside yesterday!”

Startled, he yelled out a quick, “Just a minute!” before minimizing the photographs on his computer while sucking in his gut to force his zipper shut.  He shoved himself away from his desk and crossed his legs as Rose pushed the door open.

“Mom!  You can’t just… barge in like that!”

“Oh, I most certainly can!  Since you’ve not bothered to pay the rent you promised me when you got your job, I am well within my rights to enter any part of myhouse I damned well please.”

Continue reading

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The Last Rebirth

By Sandor Kovacs

The molecules of its brain get assembled first. The primitive piece of flesh floats inside a skull filled with boiling liquid. Bones lay in perfect order. It cannot feel the heat, though, as the receptors are not yet active. But then, the cells began to form an infinite network, a net that is more complicated than anything living in this world, and the first thought gets created.

Am I alive?

It doesn’t know what eyes, nose, ears are. How could one comprehend the surroundings without senses? Like branches, the empty tubes called veins spread, but not upwards like on a tree. They fill out space, criss-crossing everywhere, shaping organs inside a cover of bloody tissue. When it tries to inhale driven by the first instinct, the boiling liquid burns through its not yet ready intestines. Continue reading

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Ammunition

A Dark Tale by Aaron Hull

He was at his desk with his headphones on, watching something loud and hard, so he didn’t hear her come up the stairs. Didn’t hear the click of the safety disengage. Didn’t hear the wrap of knuckles on wood, or turn to see the shadow under the door. So when the blast filled the room and the door behind him shattered, he believed—for an instant—that there’d been an explosion outside, out on the street, and he looked up from the screen, down through the window, expecting to see smoke.

Instead he smelled it. Gunpowder. Continue reading

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Arachnid Gift

A Morbid Tale by Jessica Marie Baumgartner

Old age plagues my body. I am stiff, sensitive, and rotting.

I stomp through my own shit to reach my feeding trough. The wood beams creak under the weight of my body and I lean forward to poke around molded piles of leftover food. My clouded vision makes everything run together. I close my eyes ignoring the pain in my stomach. It increases with each slurp and I think back over my long life. Continue reading

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Just Enough Brains

A Macabre Tale by Steve Sibra

Every animal has just enough brains to preserve its own hide – dead or alive.

 It took Adrian a year to learn how to properly skin a human being.  He studied on the process and then he practiced.  There were quite a few setbacks.  But eventually he got it down.

 Now tanning the hide, that was even more difficult.  First it had to be carefully dried; then he used a mixture composed of dog shit, cow shit and his own urine in order to soak it and massage it and soften it.  Over time this would remove the hair follicles as well . . . but he had to let it all sit and soak.  Sometimes for months.  He had to be able to scrape the hide without damaging it.  It took lots of practice.  Lots and lots of practice.  But his mother had always been so happy with how good he was with his hands.  So this accomplishment gave him great pride and satisfaction.

 One of the final steps was to add the brains to the mixture.  Cedar oil was a good tanning agent when he could get it.  The mixture of feces, urine, brains and other ingredients would sit with the skins soaking in it for many, many weeks.  It did not smell pleasant.  Adrian could never get the smell off himself.  Another reason to just stay away from people who were still alive.

 Or if he encountered them — another reason to not let them live for long.  They would always complain.

 Doing the skin from the head, the scalp and face – – this was the most difficult to maneuver through the tanning process.  But for Adrian, it was the most rewarding and the only part he truly loved.  If he did his job right, when he was done he could stretch the skin of the person’s head over his own.  He could position the eyes and nose holes, and the mouth, to match his own facial features. 

 Adrian would prance around the shack, naked except for the face of his victim.  He would imitate the voice of the person whose face he was wearing.  Late at night the sounds of high pitched squeals emanated from the rickety building.  The birds and raccoons would never approach the place.

 “Oh my God!  Oh my sweet God!” Adrian would mimic the pathetic creatures.  “Please don’t kill me!  Oh God oh no, please!  Please!  I will do anything!  What do you want?  What do you want from me?”

 Adrian danced in the moonlight that came through the window.  His erection jutted out in front of his lean body casting a shadow across the wall. 

 Adrian had everything that he wanted from them.  All of them.  When he wanted to be another person he just took off one hood and hung it on a nail.  Then he would choose another.  A new one, and pull that person onto himself.

 Adrian was content.  He had it all.  He thought of it as using others to bring out the best in himself.  God had placed many beings inside of him.  Now he was able to dress himself for each of them.


STEVE SIBRA grew up on a farm in eastern Montana where the earth was dry and there were snakes and bugs everywhere you looked.  After college he embraced the world of monsters through his childhood fascination with comic books, which he turned into a career.  His writings have appeared in numerous literary journals and he regularly reads his work at various venues in the greater Seattle area.

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