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Twisted Tails IV
Fantastic Flights of Fantasy
TWISTED TAILS IV: Fantastic Flights of Fantasy is overflowing with some of the strangest fantasies you’re likely to find on-or off this planet. So, watch yourself...there be dragons here. And vampires. And sorcerers bearing all sorts of mischief. Beasts, goblins and ghouls aplenty. And things that poke with sharpened sticks at the unprepared mind. They crouch in the recesses, ready to spring at the slightest provocation or opportunity. The sort of things that hide in deep shadows and lurk in the darkness of night...or cavort in the full light of day, trundle, creep, crawl and dance their way across the stage of your imagination. Some of the works presented here are fearsome, level five heart-stoppers and others are downright funny. All are twisted. Twisted in the manner that only our convoluted cogitators...our warped, wonderful word-workers can provide.
"So? It’s fantasy. Dark and light. Horrible and humorous. So, what else is new?" you ask.
Well-l-l, it’s not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, Granny Gerty’s fantasy...that’s what. No formula fantasy written to restrictions even older than I. It tinkers with ideas in the here and now, perhaps a bit into the past or a brief, short hop into the near future and is free to fly in whatever direction and manner the author is advised by his or her muse. You see, London and other places of the dark and dreary sort still have streets drenched by fog and heavy mist. There remain places in the German forests and the hills of Transylvania, or in narrow alleyways in the outskirts of Chicago where an ordinary citizen just will not go after dark...or during the day. These places, and others, continue to have soggy forest floors smothered in a tight cluttering of moss covered trees with dead-gray, pealing bark smelling of mildew and rot, or perpetually shadowed back streets and thin slices between dingy buildings where dread can rear its ugly head and where surprises, bright and dim, await the unwary. There are jungles of darkness filled with sounds you don’t want to hear. There are movements from the far corners of your vision you would rather not see. But hear them you will...and see them you must, if you value your life.
What we prove in this collection is that it is not necessary to venture off the main road to make-believe worlds where weird, unpronounceable names or places surreal and pointed-ear little folk with big, flat feet inhabit the pages to get a heavy dose of fantastic fantasy. Here we take it to the streets of the everyday world, or close facsimiles of places we all live in...to locations and times familiar to all.
No archaic and arcane language graces the pages here. No flowery narrative loaded with pollen and odd sounding word structures, either, except where they are fitting and necessary. Nope, here you’ll find just plain good fun on bloodstained back-roads, in alleys and little dark corners where gore snakes its way down dark brick walls to puddle on wet stones, and where a talking barnyard rooster lays platinum eggs...um, not that there is an egg-laying rooster that talks to be found in here. That rooster thing was nothing but an example of what could be found, you know? But, as always in the TWISTED TAILS series, be mindful of your step, lest you get tripped into an out-of-control tumble on the last rung of the ladder. That, you see, is the way things work around here. That last rung is...treacherous...by design.
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Table of Contents
1. Megan’s Baby by Kim McDougall
2. Anti-Diver by David L. Kuzminski
3. Osculating Bufonidae by J. Richard Jacobs
4. Repo Girl and the Fortune Faerie by Marilyn Peake
5. The Man Who was a few Pixels Out by Biff Mitchell
6. And Dance by the Light of the Moon by Joyce K. Jensen
7. The Guardian by Todd R. Snow
8. La Niña by Terence West
9. Crimson Dawn by Margaret Whitley
10. Atypical Traits by Ann Dulhanty
11. Roller Duck by John Klawitter
12. Brutus and the Pig by J. Richard Jacobs
13. Space Ace by John Klawitter
14. Last Flight by Clay Rhett
15. Sex and the Emerald City by K. L. Nappier
16. Evil Witch by Ann Dulhanty
Babies. Cuddly, smooth new skin, smelling of scented talcum powder and sweet body oils. They cry when they’re hungry, giggle and bear toothless grins when they’re happy. They coo, learn to laugh quickly when they’re pleased, and they are always on the move, learning what to do with those awkward appendages. They grab at fingers offered to them through openings between pastel crib bars and hold on as tight as they can. They are among the most precious of things, right? Let’s go have a look at Megan’s sweet offering, shall we? It’s tiny and frail, helpless and...hungry.
1. Megan’s Baby
Old Montreal was an inspiration for other gothic metropolises. At night, buildings lurked at odd angles. Cold, stinking wind blew off the water except in July when the heat could stop a heart.
On July second, Megan left her apartment and her harpy mother. Canada Day refuse still littered the streets. Pretty pollution of spent firecrackers, popcorn and candy wrappers was a sight better than the usual crap that clogged the cobblestones.
Megan didn’t know where she was going, only away, away, away from her mother’s wailing. Her legs shook with the need to move. As her pregnancy progressed, she could barely sit still for even a few minutes, and yet the effort to walk was painful. Her conflicted needs were echoed in the streets around her. A screech of tires gave way to silence. The smell of garbage mixed with rack of lamb from an old monastery turned trendy restaurant. Cold blasted from the open door of a convenience store and smacked into the hanging humidity.
Megan was alone on the street. An echo of her steps followed her like a wraith. She twisted through a pedestrian walk now empty of its usual artisanal fanfare, pushed aside a faux-hide curtain and entered a cubby-hole that passed for a night-club. A sleepy band played in one corner. Music escaped through the cracks in the old building until it was only the suggestion of a melody, a haunting flute that crept over Megan’s skin like a chill. The place was nearly empty. An old man smoked pot from a pipe like a farmer, while an androgynous couple slept on a pile of blankets, their naked legs and arms entwined. The heat kept most nightcrawlers out in the open, along the waterfront. During the winter months, tiny clubs likes this all over the city were packed with cold bodies looking for heat and diversion. Last November, Marcus had made love to her against the stone wall, while the band blared and the strobe lights hid their frantic thrusts. The bricks grated her back, but Megan hadn’t noticed. Only Marcus had mattered.
Now, she sat in an old beanbag, shifted the bulk of her stomach for comfort, but found none. Displaced acid pushed up into her throat. Her ankles were fat. She didn’t glow with burgeoning motherhood. Apathy suffocated any spark of soul from the new human inside her.
When Marcus walked in to their old haunt, Megan was stunned enough to forget to cover her bulging belly.
"Hey," he said, as if he hadn’t been gone for months. As if he hadn’t ripped out her heart and left it steaming on the sidewalk. He reached for her, pulled her bulk out of the beanbag and danced with her to music that only he could hear. His eyes were darker than she remembered, rimmed in shadows and she wondered what kind of drugs he had been into.
God, how she missed Marcus and his drugs. She couldn’t indulge in the latter until this baby was born, but that wasn’t far off now. In the meantime, didn’t sex bring on contractions? Maybe she could be rid of it sooner.
Marcus didn’t even seem to notice her belly. He smiled and kissed her. He smelled like wine, though she knew he preferred tequila.
"Come," he said.
Megan followed him, not daring to let go of his fingertips, as if breaking that connection would lose him again.
Air conditioning blasted in his studio. The main room was bare, but for a white backdrop and his camera set on a tripod. Two big windows on one wall were dark screens to the outside world. Megan leaned her forehead against the cool glass. In the street below, two young men argued. One pulled at the sleeve of the other. He, in turn pulled away. Megan didn’t need to know what they argued about. It could only have been one of a handful of themes: love, revenge, money, jealousy. She bet on jealousy.
Marcus pressed himself against her back, squeezing her stomach into the window. She enjoyed the brief pain, thinking her gut might actually pop, like the fevered head of a zit. Marcus lifted the loose dress over her head, and pulled down her panties. Megan watched the lovers argue while he whetted her with a finger. She had never thought to feel such desire again. She licked the steam from her breath off the window.
Marcus picked her up as if she didn’t weigh fifty pounds more than usual and laid her in front of the stark white backdrop. Under the unforgiving lights, Megan was a caricature of pregnancy. She tried to cover, not her nakedness, but her bloated belly with its drawn out navel, like a smear on her skin.
"You’re so beautiful," whispered Marcus. "So full of life."
He pulled her hands away, exposing her to the harsh lights. Her nipples puckered in the cold. Marcus brought the lens in close and snapped a shot of her tight areola. He leaned in and sucked it. His teeth nicked her, sending the flesh on her back into ripples of fear and delight. He pressed her against the white backdrop, kissed her neck and shoulders. Megan’s stomach pushed at him but her arms kept him close. He drove into her, straining against her bulge. He didn’t thrust, but just held it there, inside her, letting her muscles constrict around his bulk like a boa. When he sunk his teeth into the veins of her neck, she barely twitched.