The Porta-Caval Shunt

November 17, 2015


Fade in slowly from black. The ramshackle garden – patchy, dry grass, old bits of rusting farm machinery, a spare truck wheel – comes into focus, backed by woods. Absolute silence. Now pan across the area. The house looms into view – big, rambling, white paint peeling, sinister looking (use a wide-angle lens for this) – and out again. Quick snap shot of the town name and population sign. Back to black.

“Less than five hundred people in this town. We all know each other here. We all knew who she was, hell, went into her store every week. And we sure know who he is now.”

Inside the house, looking out of the window. A beat up pickup truck sits outside, parked at an angle to the house. Cut to a blurred shot of the living room floor. Move slowly to focus on the junk scattered around. The only sound is the buzzing of flies. A sheet of newspaper ripples slightly, as if moved by a breeze. Move across the junk on the floor to the door. Move slowly up the door. Freeze-frame (a very slight blur might be good here) at eye level, where what looks like a female wig has been nailed to the door.

“We’re all pretty upset about this business, don’t want to talk about it a whole lot. You people come snooping here to dig up dirt, and open up a lot of sores. We’re never going to forget what happened here, never. Now get off’a my property or I’ll set the dogs on you.”

Full frame photograph of a man, all-American looking; baseball cap, grey hair, stubble, red and black lumberjack shirt. A wiry sort of grin. It’s an old photo – the colours are faded.

“What do I want to do to him? What d’you think I want to do to him? He’s damn near destroyed this town. He’d better stay in that hospital or me and the other men’ll string him up and cut his balls off”

Shot, from the back, of the naked body of a woman hanging upside down in an outhouse. Cut quickly to shot from the front; the effect should be shocking and immediate; she has been gutted and decapitated. The body is clean, legs apart, ankles tied tight with rope and attached to an overhead beam. The wrists are also tied and are straight, against the woman’s sides. Pan (slow motion here, move camera a little as if dizzy) 360 degrees. Around the walls hang tools, odd planks of wood lean against each other, coils of rope hang on hooks, an axe lays on the dirt floor. A worktable is in the corner. Sunlight streams in from a far window.

“I’ll never forget what it was like walking around that house. I always thought the guy was a little odd, but not harmless, just lonely I guess….cops see strange things, but that house was the worst, a real chamber of horrors. There was so much garbage on the floor, we was wading through it. It made me sick just thinking of what I might be treading on. I don’t mind telling you I was near to tears when we found her, strung up like that. She was a decent woman. How could anyone do that ?A couple of the guys ‘cuffed him and took him away. I couldn’t bring myself to touch him.”

Shaky footage of a misshapen figure prancing naked outside the house in the moonlight. Move in closer. The figure is both male and female; male genitals, female breasts. And two faces – the old man’s face is mostly obscured behind a mask of a woman made from human flesh.
“I would like to fuck you in the outhouse where you left her. Do you have any killer friends? I would like to fuck them too.”

The camera follows the cops as they pick their way through the house for the first time. It is dusk, the light is not good; there is a definite atmosphere of apprehension and quiet fear. The cops speak in near whispers.

“….In the eighties he achieved some kind of ‘cult’ status among hordes of people who fancied themselves as hip, horror-loving outsiders….”

The camera fades in again, outside the house, very low to the ground. The bottom of the porch is just visible on the left. The field of vision rises to eye level, and the camera starts moving around at walking speed. A rasping, breathing sound can be heard. The camera moves up the porch steps, the screen door opens and the camera goes through. We hear feet shuffling through the junk as we move into the living room and towards the far corner. The camera moves down quickly – as if squatting down – a pair of hands appear and push a mound of magazines away. A shoebox is visible. The hands clear some space around it and pick it up. The lid is taken off to reveal several female vulvas. One is green, rotting. The right hand disappears for a few moments, then reappears and drops another vulva in. The lid is replaced, the box put back in place, the magazines piled up again.

“See the car that hauled the dead from their graves!”

Distant shot of a flicker of orange light in the darkness. Cut to black. Close-up of the house in the grip of a raging fire. A window bursts with the heat. Pull back to reveal people standing, watching. One man has a gasoline can in his hand. He spits on the ground and walks away.

“So the old house burned to the ground, did it? Well, I don’t know nothing about it or how it happened, but I can’t say I’m sorry, or surprised that no one hurried along there to put it out. Maybe we can get on with our lives now, maybe one day we’ll be able to forget what happened. God knows, we did nothing to deserve all this.”

Shot from the back of a cell, looking out toward the door. Pushing for space on the other side of the door are countless newspaper men, some with notepaper and pen, screaming foR quotes, most with big cameras. Flash-bulbs are going every couple of seconds. Slow fade to black, as if the man is closing his eyes.

“To the guy who got it all started….”

Julie Travis

(Julie Travis has been writing horror and dark fantasy fiction since the early 1990s, after a youth spent watching horror films, writing music fanzines and playing bass guitar in a punk band. Her short stories and novellas, which have been compared to Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, Catherynne M. Valente and the Stephen King/Peter Straub collaborations, have been published widely in the British and North American slipstream/horror small press. She now lives by the sea in West Cornwall and spends much of her time at stone circles and other sacred sites. You may find her website HERE)

Love Poem

November 17, 2015


I live in you, you live in me;
We are two gardens haunted by each other.
Sometimes I cannot find you there,
There is only the swing creaking, that you have just left,
Or your favourite book beside the sundial.

Douglas Dunn

(Douglas Dunn is a major Scottish poet, editor and critic, whose Elegies (1985), a moving account of his first wife’s death, became a critical and popular success. Author of over ten collections of poetry, he has also edited several anthologies, including The Faber Book of Twentieth-Century Scottish Poetry (2000). He was Professor in the School of English at the University of St Andrews from 1991, and was awarded an OBE in 2003.)

a tangible magical archive

November 17, 2015


Grimoires exist because of the desire to create a physical record of magical knowledge, reflecting concerns regarding the uncontrollable and corruptible nature of the oral transmission of valuable secret or sacred information. This urge to provide a tangible magical archive dates right back to the ancient civilization of Babylonia in the second millennium BCE. But Grimoires also exist because the very act of writing itself was imbued with occult hidden power. ‘A book of magic is also a magical book,’ as one historian of the subject has observed.

Owen Davies

The Plumbing

November 17, 2015


The towels are already
stained red with clues.
wash-stand, bidet, shower
walled with slimy tiles, all
the colour of bad teeth.
The sleep
to people the dark with sighs.
The meal is bread soup. The china
tea-stained, hot. The broken cup
serves clotted castor sugar.
All injuries
the dull air soothes
the sickliness repairs
Due to default, the blows,
my clothes were wet, unkempt
and I was shrunk in them, and so
I had to come here after.
“You should have known
I’d be here: I’m
as losable as water”.

Jennifer Maiden

(Jennifer Maiden was born in Penrith, New South Wales, and has had 21 books published: 19 poetry collections and 2 novels. Her latest collection, Drones and Phantoms, was published by Giramondo in 2014, and won the 2015 ALS Gold Medal.
Her Poetry Publications:
1974: Tactics. (UQP, 1974)
1975: The Problem of Evil. (Prism, 1975)
1975: The Occupying Forces. (Gargoyle, 1975)
1977: Mortal Details. (Rigmarole, 1977)
1978: Birthstones. (Angus & Robertson, 1978)
1979: The Border Loss. (Angus & Robertson, 1979)
1981: For The Left Hand. (South Head, 1981)
1988: The Trust. (Black Lightning, 1988)
1990: Bastille Day. (NLA, 1990)
1990: Selected Poems of Jennifer Maiden. (Penguin, 1990)
1990: The Winter Baby. (Angus & Robertson, 1990)
1993: Acoustic Shadow. (Penguin, 1993)
1999: Mines. (Paper Bark, 1999) ISBN 90-5704-046-8
2005: Friendly Fire (Giramondo, 2005)
2010: Pirate Rain (Giramondo, 2010)
2012: Intimate Geography: Selected Poems 1991-2010 (Bloodaxe Books, 2012)
2012: Liquid Nitrogen (Giramondo, 2012) 2013: The Violence of Waiting (Vagabond Press,2013)2014: Drones and Phantoms (Giramondo, 2014) )

At bottom

November 17, 2015


I’m starting to fart like you
robust, fruity,
good for a laugh

though I can’t boast
the smooth white arse
you once described

as “lard in a wine glass”

Patricia Pogson

Devils, sex and young girls

November 17, 2015


From about 1430, the Inquisition, while not yet making it a major feature of the witchcraft trials, prosecuted women for relations with the devil. Even young girls could have such intercourse.

Johannes Henricus Pott, at the end of the seventeenth century, told how a girl of nine or ten, under the influence of her stepmother, was seduced by a devil, but on account of her youth was merely scourged while forced to witness her stepmother’s being burned as a witch (Specimen Juridicum de Nefando Lamiarum cum Diabolo Coitu, Jena 1689).

Bodin, in his Demonomanie (1580), said girls of six, “which is the age of consent for women”, had intercourse. And at Wiirzburg, in January, 1628, three children – Anna Rausch, twelve, Sybille Lutz, eleven, and Mürchin, eight and a half, all confessed to sexual relations with incubi. Anna declared she had intercourse six times with “Jack Catch, the devil”; the court records noted “this copulation the child has formalissime [technically] described.” Sybille copulated with another one. Little Miirchin testified formaliter she had coitus cum demone [= intercourse with a devil]. Sybille and Anna were put to death; Mürchin and seven others, between eight and thirteen, after interrogation were remanded to their fathers for reformation. Diefenbach, Der Hexenwahn, 1886.

The limit of this fantasy was surely reached in a letter written by the Chancellor of Wiirzburg in August, 1629: “The witch affair has sprung up again in a manner beyond description. . . . There are some 300 children of three or four years who have had intercourse with devils.”

Such terrible madness grows from unfettered superstition and vacuous beliefs. Ignorance is mankind’s greatest enemy.

Main Source: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Rossell Hope Robbins.


November 17, 2015


That hot September night, we slept in a single bed,
naked, and on our frail bodies the sweat
cooled and renewed itself. I reached out my arms
and you, hands on my breasts, kissed me. Evening of amber.

Our nightgowns lay on the floor where you fell to your knees
and became ferocious, pressed your head to my stomach,
your mouth to the red gold, the pink shadows; except
I did not see it like this at the time, but arched

my back and squeezed water from the sultry air
with my fists. Also I remembered hearing, clearly
but distantly, a siren some streets away – de

da de da de da – which mingled with my own
absurd cries, so that I looked up, even then,
to see my fingers counting themselves, dancing.

Carol Ann Duffy


November 17, 2015


Forests have secrets, it’s practically what they’re for. To hide things. To separate one world from another.

Catherynne M. Valente