Tag Archives: Cameron Suey

“Last Halloween” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

Head of a Stag – Diego Velazquez, 1634

Parents struggle with the dire consequences of a high-stakes bargain in “Last Halloween,” Cameron Suey‘s feral & frightful fiction from our Fall 2018 issue.

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ON THE LAST MORNING I WILL HAVE WITH MY SON, I make him pancakes with fresh blueberries from the community garden mixed in the batter.  When the Patels from down the street heard the news, they brought us a flask of fresh maple syrup from the trees in the western woods, and I’ve chilled it overnight in the fridge. Butter from the community farm sizzles and spits on the griddle as Malcolm drags his feet down the stairs. Outside the kitchen window, perched on the skeletal frame of an old oak, the crow gazes at me. Its head crooks to one side and beetle-shell eyes flash in the October sun, fixed on mine. I look away.

“Morning,” I grunt, trying to keep the desperate quaver out of my voice. “Thought maybe you’d like to try some coffee with breakfast.”

He narrows sleepy eyes, skeptical of the offer, then shrugs. “Doesn’t it, uh, stunt my growth?” I wince, but he doesn’t notice.

“I think maybe one cup is okay.” I set the chipped, steaming mug down in front of him with the first batch of pancakes. “Just don’t tell mom.”

He tries to play it cool, like it’s no big deal, but I can see the excitement in the corners of his smile. He wraps his small hands around the mug, half covering the Notre Dame crest, and sniffs at the steam. I realize that I’m staring at him, so I look out the window again. The crow catches my eye and nods, then takes flight in a burst of sparkling black feathers.

After breakfast, Malcolm lays out his goblin costume, itemizing and accounting for each piece and prop. I watch from the hallway, passing by with the same load of laundry again and again. I don’t want to make this day any harder than it has to be.

From our bedroom, Annie’s tiny cries drift out alongside the sound of Rose singing gentle lullabies. Rose said her goodbyes to Malcolm as he slept last night. She doesn’t trust herself not to upset the boy, so she’s planned to stay with our infant daughter until he’s gone. I told her I would cover for her if Malcolm asked.

When I’ve run out of reasons to pass by his doorway, I go to the garage. In a box above the workbench, still packed from our move last January, I find what I’m looking for. A cracked plastic bucket, molded in orange like a child’s drawing of a jack-o-lantern. It was mine from childhood, in a place far away from here. I’d hoped both my children would have the chance to use it, but if I send it out with Malcolm, I know it won’t be coming back. Annie won’t be old enough to carry it for at least another year.

My throat is tight again, and I clear it to chase away the tears. What’s one more loss tonight, in the greater scheme of things? Malcolm should take it. He’s always loved it.

As I turn back towards the house, I hear scraping on the rafters above. The fox strides across the beam and sits on his haunches. I have an idiot impulse to fling the pumpkin at the animal, an impotent urge for violence in the muscles of my forearms. Instead, I sigh and nod. It looks at me from pools of liquid black, grey fur rising and falling with each patient breath.

There is no malice in those eyes, nor the others. We all know what has to happen tonight. Rose and I signed the pact when we came to this town. We accepted the risk, because it seemed worth it. Maybe it is, still. This is a safe town. Safer than anywhere else on earth. Annie will be exempt in future years.

The fox is gone when I look up.

Continue reading “Last Halloween” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

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“First Souls” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

Head of a Sick Man - Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1917
Head of a Sick Man – Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1917

From our Summer 2016 issue, “First Souls” is Cameron Suey‘s tantalizingly twisted tale of pandemics, gut flora, and folie à deux.
(And hear Cameron read the story & discuss it with Ilana Masad, check out episode 91 of The Other Stories podcast!)

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THE WAITRESS BRINGS US OUR COFFEE, dishwater pale murk in cracked porcelain cups. Behind the thin surgical mask, her face is unreadable, but her gaze flicks from me to my companion and back again before she leaves without a word. Mickey watches her go and then fixes his eyes on me. For a long moment, the silence continues, as our eyes confirm what our hearts seemed to know the instant we passed on the street.

“Okay, Dale,” he says, his voice hoarse and still raw, like my own. There is an accent I can’t place – perhaps a district on the other side of the city. “I’m going to ask you a couple of questions, but I think I already know the answers.”

I pick up the coffee, finding it smells as weak and thin as it looks, and contemplate taking an exploratory swig. Around us the few lunchtime patrons of the dingy coffee shop are listlessly eating, lifting up paper masks to shovel in crumbling and greasy burgers, backsides squeaking on red vinyl seats. Those that aren’t eating are staring at us, at our uncovered faces.

“Okay,” I say, “Shoot.”

“You had the sick. But you didn’t report it, or go to quarantine like you were supposed to. Didn’t tell anyone.”

I nod, scared to say out loud that I’d broken the law, and willing him to lower his voice. He smiles a little, showing one blackened and rotting canine.

“Yeah. Me too, I mean, obviously. Look at us. We still look like shit. But, you got better. They say 1 in 10 do, and you took the chance. No family, no close friends, you weren’t worrying about passing the sick along. Or maybe too scared to let that stop you.”

I nod again, excitement and night terror churning in my gut. I knew all this when we first saw each other this morning, that he and I were the same.

I came out of my office building, fighting the paranoia and nausea that had plagued me since my recovery, pulling my necktie loose. I couldn’t be around my coworkers, couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Guilt from ignoring the quarantine, from lying, but something else. Something wrong in every pair of eyes. Ever since the fever broke, and I lay awake and sweating in my bed, the sheets clinging to me, I knew something had changed. That feeling is worse than the sick ever was.

Mickey was just outside my office building, crouched on the edge of a planter box. He was sucking a cigarette down to an ashen nub, and dressed in torn jeans and a stained green nylon jacket, worn thin by time. Our eyes met and I froze, held in place like two sparking nodes of an electric arc.

“We should talk,” was all he’d said, and he led me here, to this grim and filthy diner.

“So,” he continues, “We were sick, we hid it, we got better. But it’s not really better is it? There’s something wrong.”

“Yeah…” I croak, and take another mouthful of bitter coffee. “Something’s wrong. But… I don’t think… it’s not with us.”

“No,” he smiles in agreement, the black tooth sliding into view, “Not us.”

Two hours ago I was convinced I was going mad. Now, I am not alone. I could cry, the relief is so great.

Continue reading “First Souls” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

FLAPPERHOUSE : Year One

Coming soon in soft, pulpy paperback.
Stay tuned…FY1F&BCs

 

Year One: A Brief Note From the Editor

flappynewyearOn October 1, 2013, I sent a few emails to some writers I know, asking if they’d be interested in contributing to a lit zine I wanted to launch– one that would combine surrealism, irreverence, darkness, and sensuality. This zine didn’t have a website or even a name at the time. And yet, Jeff Laughlin, Todd Pate, Lauren Seligman, & Cameron Suey all agreed to jump on board and contribute their fine work to this nameless, shapeless thing that had been frolicking around my brain-cocoon and itching to break free.

Without them, FLAPPERHOUSE would not be a real, throbbing entity one whole year later. I still can’t believe it’s flown as far as it has, and I’m beyond grateful for that. Here’s to a very flappy year, and many many more to come. A million thank yous to Jeff, Todd, Lauren, Cameron, and everyone else who has supported this freaky little critter along the way.

Love + Hugs,
JO’B

Outside the Flapperhouse – 7.9.2014

Some places around the internet where our Flappers have been flapping as of late:

In episode 4 of Scared Yet?, Kris Straub praised the polish, restraint, and unreliable narrators in Cameron Suey‘s horror & dark fantasy stories. And in S4E03 of the NoSleep Podcast,  Jeff Clement and Derek Jensen performed a reading of Cameron’s “Dust.”

Our favorite hobo journalist Todd Pate recounted his drive from Hollywood to North Dakota in his latest post for El Jamberoo.

fwriction : review has been displaying “London, 1973,” an excerpt from J.E. Reich‘s novel-in-progress To Build A New World.

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam has two more stories out there: “The Foster Child” at Expanded Horizons and “The Hoof Situation” at Scigentasy.

J. Bradley combined poetry with Information Mapping in “Zeke” for Plain Wrap Press.

“Axis Mundi” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

The Ash Yggdrasil - Friedrich Wilhelm Heine
The Ash Yggdrasil – Friedrich Wilhelm Heine, 1886

Cameron Suey has been one of our favorite storytellers for several years now. His tales of horror and dark fantasy have filled our heads with some of the most deliciously terrifying images our minds’ eyes have ever seen, and we’re eternally grateful to him for that. We’re excited to present his story “Axis Mundi” below, as well as in our Spring 2014 Issue.

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CAPTAIN ELISHA DRIFTS BACK TO HER BODY. Sedative fog curls around her edges for a long, liquid minute before she remembers she has eyes to open. Lids slide across her sclera, a syrupy-sweet motion that tingles her spine like some small secret pleasure. Her forearms feel hot and then cold, as catheters spit the next layer of the wakeup cocktail into her blood. Already, the induced euphoria’s fading, shepherding the last of the delirium and confusion away to be replaced by a conscious, knowing glee. They’ve arrived.

Her new stateroom smells of wood and leather, warm aromas painted in crimson and deep oak hues. The armchair creaks as she moves, and smartbands retreat into its folds like startled snakes. The catheters slip from her flesh, spraying a thin mist of skinbond to cover their tracks, and constrict away into the arms of the chair.

Her vision drifts to a far wall, her eyes looping on a pleasing swirl in the burlwood, where Mithradates projects her feeds in layers of soft amber light. The most important detail rises to the surface in pulsing cobalt: No one has followed. Right up until their unscheduled departure, no alarms were even raised.

Now the slip is over, only a few hours passed, and the slick ebon needle of her new ship, the Mithra, drifts above the ecliptic of Gliese 667C. Mithradates maps the bewildering orbits of the neighboring stars and the six rocky planets around 667C, adjusting for any local eccentricities since the stellar event. The third star, a dull red coal, squats at the center of a tangle of scorched planets. Elisha waits for Mithradates to find any sign of their quarry, but so far she only sees the purples and oranges of worlds and moons.

The nausea arrives as she scans the display, inevitable postslip vomit rising up at the back of her throat. A small basin of burnished silver extends on a silent pseudopod, awaiting her purge. Everyone must sleep during the slip, and only Goetsch claims to have conquered the purge. Elisha could have asked Mithradates to confirm, to see if it’s just more bluster from the mission’s XO, but she’d rather let the man keep his boasts.

With a twinkling of glass bells, a white dot appears in the orbital map, then another. The Odin, and the Yggdrasil. The ghost ships, in the shadow of the third planet. Elation rises up in her, along with something else. Elisha leans into the gleaming mouth of the basin and gags before her throat unlocks to spray a hot foam of sweet pepper bisque, her last meal before their covert flight from Terrapin Yards.

As she blots her lips with a soft cloth, the remains of the first slipprobe from the Reclamation Society appears on Mithradates’ map. Closer in, trailing the orbit of the third planet, it’s just a few hundred thousand kilometers from the Odin and the Yggdrasil. It reads as a scattered cloud of pinprick fragments in the readout, the slip engine still bleeding weak exotic energy signals even a few weeks after the probe’s demise. The second probe, following hours after and launched at great risk of detection, had been more circumspect. From a high and silent orbit, it brought back word of Odin and the Yggdrasil, their distant silhouettes barely visible in the shadow of the dead world.

If there were still survivors aboard, separated by more than 900 years of cultural and technological drift, they would need to be approached with cautious grace. Her spine crawled with excitement at the thought, as if the universe had unfurled to give flesh to her dreams.

When they had told her about the probes, she’d thrown every ounce of social capital she had to get the Reclamation Society’s nomination, abandoning the last of her studies. She’d been the one to propose the theft of her mother’s ship, the Mithra, and she and Goetsch had arranged to patch the ship’s entity, Mithradates, in secret. In the end, they were the only possible crew. She bent and twisted the world to deliver them to this moment.

More sounds, ringing steel this time, as Mithradates tells her the rest of the crew are awake and ready to begin. With his new software, he vibrates with excitement, almost as eager as her to begin. A third tone, hollow wooden chimes, and Mithradates paints new information in the air above the Odin and the Yggdrasil. Her brow furrows. The numinous excitement that suffused her since her selection fades into the background. She leans closer to confirm what Mithradates is showing her.

Around the great sphere of the Yggdrasil drifts a cloud of objects, an accretion disc of ablative armor shrapnel from a thousand years of micrometeorites, drifting screws and abandoned tools, and corpses. Thousands of frozen corpses, lashed by ropes. Loops and whorls of the dead sketching glyphs and geometric shapes drift around the ghost ship, held close by the Yggdrasil’s gentle gravity.

Continue reading “Axis Mundi” – Fiction by Cameron Suey

FLAPPERHOUSE #1 Now On Sale

 UPDATE:

The PDF of FLAPPERHOUSE #1 is no longer for sale, because it is now available for free.
Click the cover to enjoy.

FLAPPERHOUSEwhitecover

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“No More Poems About Resolutions,” “A Highly Magnified History,” “When A Poet Wants To Date You,” and “Yelp Review – Total Wine”J. Bradley
CRYONICS”Mariev Finnegan
“The Puddle of Romeo’s Tears”Luis Galindo
“The Thrill of a Lifetime” – Phyllis Green
“Window Glass” – Mila Jaroniec
“Stage Manager” – Rebecca Ann Jordan
“What Really Drives You To Drink” – Jeff Laughlin
“Rebel, Rebel” – T. Mazzara
“The Root of Everything Arty” – Jenean McBrearty
“Stanley Kubrick’s Shit Happens – Joseph P. O’Brien
“The Better Cowboy” – Todd Pate
“Angels Howling in the Trees” – Misti Rainwater-Lites
“Dare” – Lauren Seligman
“Rules and Secrets” Judith Skillman
“Reach” – Tom Stephan
“Axis Mundi” Cameron Suey