Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

Ghost Writer

by JeremyT

A late 20s Arts & Crafts bungalow sits on the corner in a disused neighborhood, its yard overrun with weeds. The shingled roof sags in the middle and the windows are boarded up with plywood. The porch stretches wide like a smile with missing teeth.

They already tell stories about this place. It is a perfect canvas on which to work your craft.

You break in through a basement window to do your work. The beams are exposed here, and your ink seeps deep into the grain of the wood. You write the ghost’s story from north to south, using each crosswise beam as your carriage return. You write:

Susan Beech was an old maid who went mad and strangled neighborhood children in her attic. She lured them into her home with the promise of cookies and sweets. The neighborhood caught on to Susan’s hobby and murdered her in the attic among the bones of her victims.

The backstory is set simply, and the plaster walls shiver with anticipation. Now, the postscript, so to speak.
The ghost is dowdy, cold, white, with long bony fingers that make frost on glass and chill the spines of the young with an invisible touch. Her doors open at midnight and the smell of fresh baked goods beckon to the late night passerby. The scent comes from everywhere and nowhere at once. When a passerby steps through the threshold, the doors close, and the ghost does her dark work. Hair whitens, hands tremble, evermore.

The ghost is a variation on a theme, the woman driven mad by a lack of love. All ghost writers have a theme, and this is yours. Write what you know, they say.

The pain fades with each haunting story until one day when the hurt is all but gone, you will write yourself into the hard oak frame of an ancient Colonial. You will lay down beneath the foundation in the sandy clay and write no more. Your bones will rest. Your words will wander the rooms above. The only afterlife is the one we write for ourselves.

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