April 2012



Mary had chosen this spot in the park because of its sweet evening scents. She had waited patiently, as was her wont, until both the moon was full and the sky was cloudless. She had arrived at about 10:00 in the evening so she could catch the moon as it cleared the tops of the elms and maples, giving her plenty of time to paint as it rose higher into the heavens.

Her easel was up and she had her paints and brushes in an orderly fashion on a carefully constructed table. She held her palette in her hand and observed the moon with such diligence that she didn't even notice the wolf, so unexpected in a city park, until it stepped out onto the green.

It was the eyes that caught her attention. They produced their own red light rather than just reflecting the ambient light.

The beast was huge and clearly looking at her. It began walking in an arc that kept it close to the trees but also took it to her. Its body exuded speed and power. Confidence. An expectation of a successful hunt.

Mary set her palette on her table and stepped away from her painting, moving toward the center of the green. The wolf's arc tightened, drawing it into a more direct approach. The two made and maintained eye contact. Red eyes to blue eyes, blue eyes to red.

The attack began without so much as a growl of warning. The wolf reached Mary in two supernaturally long bounds.

She caught it by the neck and left front paw, flipped it around and slammed it onto the ground with a force that made its whole body shudder. Her left hand grabbed the right paw, holding both paws with slender fingers that appeared to be made of steel.

You're new at this, aren't you? First night, maybe?" she asked pleasantly as the werewolf jerked and clawed the air to break free. "You really should listen for breathing. You also should have noticed an unusual odor about me. For heaven's sake, you should at least have realized my heart wasn't beating! You're not a human right now, so your eyes aren't your only sense, nor even your best one. Unfortunately for me, your blood tastes great but has no nutritional value when you're in this form. Only humans can feed me.

"Unfortunately for you," she began pushing its chin up and to one side, "I adore junk food."

H. Edgar Hix is a Minnesota poet who has been publishing poetry for around 40 years. His work has appeared in over 100 journals, including recent appearances in bear creek haiku, Waterways, Time of Singing, Priscilla Papers, Crack the Spine, Mutuality, FutureCycle, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal . He has published one poetry chapbook, The Saint Cloud Café and Motor Inn . Hix blogs as Hubert Edgar for The Scroll , the blog of Christians for Biblical Equality. His poem, “I Have Known Enough Saints,” published in Priscilla Papers , won second place in the poetry section of the Higher Goals awards given by the Evangelical Press Association in 2010. This is his second piece to appear in Z-composition.


the cornydog zombie

It was a most disgusting spectacle to behold.  Seated across the trough with the other State Fair contestants was my cousin Winston, bib under chin, about to bite into his eleventh cornydog!   A winner—or so it would appear.

The other contestants had mostly dropped out of the running, and I mean that literally: peaked skin, glazed eyes, pupils dilating to ping-pong ball size before  hitting the deck.  With just one notable exception.

This man looked like he was having a heart attack.  And as it turns out, he was. We later found out that he had actually expired before our very eyes on cornydog number nine.  In retrospect, this makes his sudden resurgence a minute later even more surprising.

With a jerk, the man sat up, quite undead, and began growling in guttural fashion.  I, ever on the alert for zombie outbreaks, was quickly put on the alarm.  But the creature’s initial reaction threw me: it returned to its place at the table and reflexively began to dig into the trough again; albeit with a confused, slightly cross-eyed expression on its face. 

Winston glanced over at his competition without any fear.  He had been in this spot many times before, as our defending state champion for three years running. With quick grace, he slid down cornydogs twelve and thirteen. 

His newborn zombie foe seemed slightly perplexed over the outside breading, before sensing the presence of barely-cooked meat of dubious origin inside and chomping down all the way to the wooden stick with supernatural force, shattering it.

Cornydogs ten, eleven, and twelve quickly met their fate.  Then our zombie contestant, evidently sensing fresher prey, backed away from the table and headed straight toward Winston! 

No doubt, my cousin’s pudgy forearms must have proved an attractive sight to a carnivore-run-amok. With another growl, the zombie grabbed Winston’s wrist and twisted it hard, bringing the tackily tattooed skin up to its dripping lips.

Fortunately, the twelfth cornydog had done the thing in.  The zombie’s already-glazed eyes glazed over still more, and it slumped to the ground, defeated.

Winston had won again!             


M.V. Montgomery is an Atlanta professor and the author of two poetry collections, Joshu Holds a Press Conference and Strange Conveyances. This is his second published work in Z-composition.


Zombies don’t really have a place at children’s birthday parties. I trust a fuller explanation isn’t needed, but I happen to have a practical example which illustrates my point.
Whitney Cummings is 6. She turned 6 just two weeks ago today. Like most children her age, she flits through fads and phases as frequently as Facebook changes its privacy policies. Three months ago she could not get enough of “The Land Before Time”. It was a movie of paramount importance in her little world, its cinematic greatness unrivaled. In the weeks leading up to her birthday, however, “Beauty and the Beast” took a surprise leap forward on her list of favorite films.
As a result, Whitney’s mother, Caroline, scrambled to shift from one theme to another. Fortunately, her party planning skills are the stuff of legend. By the day of the party she had arranged for a cake in the shape of the happy, if unlikely, couple, no fewer than 6 age-appropriate party games such as “Pin the Hands on Cogsworth”, homemade decorations accurate enough to violate Disney’s copy write laws and, the crowning jewel, a Beauty and the Beast bounce house.
The party was going perfectly. Children and adults alike were mingling and enjoying themselves when the Wilson boy, Cody, began screaming. He emerged from the bounce house gripping his left forearm with his right hand. His left hand was gone.
Panic ensued as someone, perhaps Cody’s mother, scooped the boy up. Children cried out in those shrill tones that make nails on a chalkboard sound like Haydn.
The bounce house began to deflate. Another child careened from the opposite side of the food table clutching her leg. There were bite marks and an alarming amount of blood on her shin. Larger forms emerged from the bounce house, from behind the bushes, from the sides of the Cumming residence. Their skin was pale-gray and glossy. Their eyes blank. They moaned and shuffled forward toward the party goers with a slow but relentless cadence.
They were zombies.
Caroline Cummings, feeling both the fierce protective instincts of a mother and the basic sense of hospitality which demands that it’s improper for one to allow one’s guests to be consumed by the walking dead, ran to the tool shed at the far corner of the yard. Fumbling with her keys, she unlocked the door and retrieved a small gas-powered chainsaw from within. Pulling the ripcord, she fired the chainsaw up and charged forward, past frozen kindergartners and their parents, toward the clustering zombies.
There were a dozen, but the chainsaw made short work of them. Caroline swept it back and forth, to and fro in wide arches that sent blood and flesh showering the yard. In less than a minute they were gone. In their place was raw carnage commingled with the remains of a fairy tale. Beauty and quite a few beasts. Blood and frosting.
There were injuries, yes. For the children and adults who were bitten, a new nightmare was just beginning. And everyone, dead or alive, learned that zombies have no place at Whitney Cummings’s birthday party.
No place at all.

Dex Raven (via the inspiration of his muse, Violet) writes dark fiction somewhere between fantasy and horror. He is working on his first novel. Check out his blog at RavenSpeaks.


Mary fumbled her order book and pen into the pockets of her waist apron and skittered through the kitchen's swinging door. "Two scrambled with steak, hon," she hushed to Randy, squinting. "Medium well." Mary drew her tongue across the front of her teeth nervously. She leaned toward the kitchen's radio. She turned it up. The steak sizzled already on the griddle. Randy listened now too, just as anxious.
"...more destructive than is normal among surprise storms like these," the announcer continued. "The wall cloud gathered into a tornado about twenty miles due east of Houston where it immediately demolished a hospital, killed two cows and flattened a church full of Sunday school children. Following a eastward trajectory, the storm then moved along interstate 10 for about twenty-five minutes, damaging bridges and power lines, tossing cars off the highway, and severely injuring many in a van full of disabled American veterans. The tornado, seeming then to lose strength, followed a frontage road, turned south onto Gulfway Drive, ran five stop lights, entered the parking lot of an IHOP and illegally parked in a spot reserved for the handicapped.
"An employee at the IHOP, one Mary Delaney, told Eyewitness News that the tornado seemed impatient to be seated and ordered a short stack of pancakes with a glass of milk. She reports that the tornado preferred blueberries to maple syrup and that, quote, "He wasn't very sociable."
"The tornado then resumed its eastward course, destroying a retirement village, an orphanage, and ten small uninsured homes belonging to poor people. All told 250 people were killed in this phase of the storm; many, like one nun who was collecting donations for the infirm, by awkwardly-shaped flying debris. Similar carnage continued for some forty-five minutes before the tornado edged into cooler airs over the Gulf of Mexico and dissipated. The storm's wind speeds exceeded 110 mph at their height. Damages are estimated to be in the tens of millions. The governor has asked the president to declare the affected counties a disaster area, which would qualify the state for federal relief funds.
"For her part, Mary Delaney said, quote, "He was a hell of a tornado, yeah, but he didn't leave squat for a tip." Stay tuned to Eyewitness News for continuing updates on this and other breaking stories. We now return to..."
And Mary softened the radio's volume. Thoughtfully she tilted her head. She drew her tongue across the front of her teeth. Mary breathed a touched sigh. Then, in quiet awe, she muttered to the wide-eyed cook, "You hear that, Randy? I'm famous."

F. S. Muret lives and writes on the Gulf of Mexico. He has more than two dozen publications in venues as various as Slow Trains, Bent Pin, Unlikely Stories, Alienskin and Ducts .


She was running the bloody virgin store, right at the suburban surrealist corner by the wet streets of the ever-darkened gallery district of the high-class society standings. She was mostly known for making use of her own blood in her art; in particular, by mixing it with aquarelle watercolors, practically developing her novel technique, the bloodycolor painting, harmonizing the four walls in the store with paintings of winery texture all around, disrupted from fiery jets of showering sunbeams gleaming from the window trenches.
 “I made this one from my saphenous vein blood,” she walked towards the piece by spanning her hand amphitheatrically and charmingly all across the side wall like weather broadcast.
The man followed her movements inch by inch mesmerized, like a ventriloquist’s dummy. Every time she was leaning forward, he couldn’t help but taking short glimpses of her smooth and silky back; his eyes travelled from her Kali-tattooed, fully-exposed neck, down to her succulent ass and her finely carved legs paved on high heels with exposed caramel toes polished in a radiant red.
They both stood there for a moment, mutually admiring the puzzling, intertwining configurations on her recent piece, which resembled an aggregate of Kandisky-style geometries patched up with a Tanguy-style deposition of alien stationary constructions in westernized landscapes and dune deserts.
“Such a sophisticated interrogation of two competitive styles, almost bringing abstraction to a higher level of supremacy,” she portrayed by carefully selecting delicate language, to additionally enmesh him in her fine words, instead of simply in her body curves.
            “I would be interested to buy it!” he exclaimed and took one sip of wine from his finely-crafted glass; she filled it with some old burgundy wine earlier, as soon as he introduced himself as a potential client and stepped an inch of his foot in the store.
What he couldn’t accomplish though, was to actually focus his entire mind on the painting itself; he could only absorb the gist of it, since the bloody virgin was way too sexy for his standard taste for women. An impossible creature she was, for his very eyes! She eyed him in a cat-snapped moment and smiled to him, her whitish teeth revealed, she would gently bite his nipples until total arousal lest she would be asked to do so. She revealed her tiny scorpion golden earring instilled in her upper front tooth, while her incisors were vampirish giving a fourth dimension on her urge for using blood in her routine life as an artist.
 “The next one is one of my favorites actually; I used my menstrual blood to complete it.”
“Wow!” he said in extreme profanity. “Menstrual blood seems to be a quite unique and personal source of blood,” he said and gulped more than half of his glass in one shot. Somehow, the fact that he was talking about blood coming out of her genital tract intrigued him and started fooling around with his male hormones.
She smiled. “It is very personal, indeed!” She simply confirmed.
“I think the painting speaks by itself,” he almost cooed, and being unable to do otherwise, he touched it softly with his sweaty finger pads, just to feel its texture on the canvas. Apparently, he wouldn’t depict a difference from normal paint, unless stated otherwise. However, the power of the imagination allowed him to see far beyond the red dye on top of the cloudy smog that was portrayed and actually feel the touch of erythrocytes pressed and swollen on the rough surface, eventually bloated and melted like a filthy biomass.
He didn’t know whether he enjoyed it, because he was biased from the beauty of the bloody virgin, or maybe because he had unleashed a perverted individual that was relentlessly hidden all this time, and needed one single spark to uncover himself; or maybe “itself”, since speaking of a monster deep within him.
They slowly moved towards the next painting.
“I feel a little bit dizzy!” he said and tried to unleash the upper button of his shirt. With the other hand he made an attempt to loosen his tie. A sudden pressure inside his head gave him the impression his eyes would soon pop out of his skull and blood would spray all over, spilling jets onto the paintings.
“It’s the wine!” She said and forced him in the couch.
He couldn’t resist, his mind was blurry, his feet were trembling; he felt the heat, what heat? This place was hot all over… He sat down in the couch and touched his neck from the back, trying to reorient himself around. This abrupt vertigo made him lose contact with his surroundings.
“I know…” she said and started unbuttoning him. She touched his warm chest with her cold fingers; he felt those as chilly diamond knives.
Although his vision was no longer an ally, he managed to take a look of another painting from afar, hanging exactly next to the one, inked with her menstrual fluid. But this painting was totally white. Nothing was drawn on it, literally.
“This…” he tried to say.
“This is not finished yet! Actually, I haven’t even started it,” she explained and then she uncovered a syringe from her pocket. She, then, ceremonially uncorked a small needle and started screwing it on the syringe with pure satisfaction revealing the blood-thirsty monster inside.
“What?” he said in panic, but wasn’t able to move an inch, he was muscle frozen.
“Don’t worry; I put a shot of neuroparalytic in your wine… it’s not fatal by itself.”
            “Wh…” he was trying to say, saliva flowing all over his mouth, due to pharyngeal paralysis, almost making him choke in his own burbles.
            She started meticulously cleaning him around his chest with a napkin and ethanol. “This final painting is still white, but I am planning to draw it with pure heart blood,” she smiled. “It will be the finest piece so far!”
            “H… H… Heart-”
            “Oh, yes!”
            “Now relax! It will only take a minute.”

George Karagiannis was born in Thessaloniki, Greece at 1984. He finished the School of Veterinary Medicine and is currently a PhD student at the University of Toronto in Canada, studying the molecular mechanisms of cancer metastasis. He began writing in an amateur level at around mid-2011 and completed several flash and short story pieces; he is currently in the 'painful' process of publishing them. He is also an abstractionist/surreal artist and his blog can be found here: http://abstractsur.blogspot.com/



February 2012