Monday, October 29, 2012

Issue Nineteen, Volume Four

From the Desk of the Editor;
Hello and welcome to Larks Fiction Magazine! In today's issue we are traveling into the world of dreams to discover what thrives in the darkness of the human mind.
In news the bank is moving toward closing on our deal! This means soon we will be in our own space.
Thank you for reading and make sure to check out our online store on

Daniel J. Pool
LFM Editor

Trapped in a dream
By Charles Bernard

September 1999 was a dream come true month
A journey to freedom has been perfected
Excitement brewed on my chubby face as
The dusty wind of sahara blew against my plumpy cheeks
Behind me stood my father ‘the pride of my very being’
The heights of academic excellence i climbed
Far from home in the land of the unknown
A peaceful world i build around me ‘friends and foes’
11 years on each step i quietly climbed with ease
Through all i dreamt at the very peak of my dawn
A snore away from the cock crow
Faces of smiles turned to faces of worry
The sounds of playing kids suddenly extinct
Suspended breakfasts as anxiety cripped into homes
Hope hang in balance and faith lay in ruin
The rain washed the blood of loved ones down drainages
Around me scary scenes played , beautiful dream turned sour
I am trapped between living and believing
My dreams and my reality

Caveat Emptor
by D. Robert Grixti

He hadn't meant to, but Jack Livings had found himself browsing the dimly lit shop, poring over dusty junk that he didn't think he'd consider buying in a million years.
He really hadn't counted on stopping by the little store but he'd been driving all day and, confident that he would get to the interstate in time for the big conference, he'd pulled over beside it anyway, suddenly taken by the strange desire to see what was sold within.
The Sanguine Exchange, the faded sign above the shopfront had read. It was an odd name for a store of any kind, thought Jack, but somehow it seemed apt for the run down, almost deserted looking little shop that had seemingly sprung up out of nowhere on the side of the highway.
It had struck Jack as weird that such a place existed out in the middle of nowhere, and it didn't surprise him that his was the only car parked in the sunbaked car park. He had only intended to stop for a few minutes, to check out the merchandise on display, but he found the large, dusty window display completely empty, except for a termite-eaten mannequin, beckoning him with an outreaching hand. In spite of himself, he approached, and then he noticed a yellowing sheet of paper taped to its wooden chest:
Welcome, friend. Please feel free to enter.
And so, Jack had suddenly felt the bizarre, urgent desire to enter, and here he was now, browsing the meagre selection of ancient, dusty objects and antique furniture that was scattered about inside. The proprietor, a pale skinned man who looked like the walking dead, watched him eagerly as he went.
I know just what you're after,” the proprietor said, motioning towards a small wooden box stuffed haphazardly on a shelf in the back.
Uh, I'm not really looking to buy anything today,” Jack said, shaking his head. “I just wanted to browse.”
Please, Mr Livings, I'm sure you'll want to take a look at this,” the proprietor said, gripping Jack's arm in a bony hand that felt more like a talon and leading him across the room. “Nobody has ever left my store without finding something they absolutely have to own, and I won't take no for an answer.”
It occurred to Jack that the proprietor somehow knew his name even though he hadn't mentioned it up to this point, but there was something about the old man's face that was so entrancing that it didn't seem to matter. Jack couldn't help staring at his eyes, faded blue ones that had lost their vibrancy decades ago and before he knew it, the tiny box was sitting in the palm of his hand, and the proprietor was staring back at him, giving him a wide, welcoming smile.
Well, go ahead and open it, Mr Livings,” he prompted, tapping the lid with a skeletal finger. “I guarantee you'll like it.”
Well, the man certainly knows how to drive a sale, Jack thought, flicking the brass catch on the front of the box and opening the lid.
Inside the box was a shard of glass. It was jagged and cracked and it seemed to Jack to be a piece of a mirror, even though it was blanketed in a layer of dust so thick that it only reflected hazy outlines and shadows.
Do you like it, Mr Livings?” the proprietor asked kindly. “It's yours for forty dollars.”
Forty bucks, Jack thought, shaking his head. The man was obviously senile - the thing didn't even reflect anything anymore.
Uh, I don't really think I-“ Jack stammered, fumbling for the lid, still unable to look away from the old man's face. “I mean, the dust…”
The dust?” the proprietor said, taking the small box and raising it to his eye. “What dust? I don't see any dust. Maybe you should take another look.”
He handed the box back to Jack and smiled. Jack opened his mouth, to begin telling the man that the thing was in fact covered with dust, but then he caught sight of those old, ghostly eyes again, and he somehow felt like he had to check to make sure first.
He flipped the brass catch again and opened the lid once more. This time the shard was clean. The surface of the glass, that (he thought) had been cracked and covered in dust only seconds ago was now smooth and polished, and when he picked it up in his fingers and carefully brought it to eye level for closer inspection, he saw his face reflected in it perfectly.
Wow,” he said, astonished. “What did you do? It's- Ouch!”
He felt a piercing pain shoot through the bridge of his nose, and he dropped the shard back into the box. He rubbed the tip of his nose with his finger and felt something wet.
Are you okay, Mr Livings?” the proprietor asked, frowning in what appeared to be concern.
It's fine,” Jack said, pinching his nostrils together with his fingers. “It's just a nosebleed, but I don't know how it's-”
Ah, don't worry. Here, I have a handkerchief you can use,” the old man interrupted, pressing a handkerchief that looked as if it had not been unfolded in centuries into his hand, exchanging it for the box with the shard, which he promptly shut and returned to the shelf.
All better now?” he asked when he was facing Jack again.
Yes, it's stopped now. Thanks,” Jack replied, folding up the bloody handkerchief and handing it to the proprietor.
The old man smiled kindly and shook his head.
You keep it, Mr Livings. You might need it.”
Jack nodded in thanks and made to put the handkerchief into his pocket. As he turned, he caught a glimpse of the old man's strange eyes once again: this time, they were a deep, piercing blue, vibrant and youthful once more.
Obviously the shard isn't for you,” the old man said, taking Jack's arm in his talon-like hand once more and escorting him to the front of the store. “Never mind, though. That wasn't the only trinket I have tucked away in this old store of mine.”
What did you do back there?” Jack asked, scratching his nose again, where he felt the slight tingling sensation of another nosebleed coming on. “One minute it was all old and dusty, and the next-”
It was shiny and new again, wasn't it?” the old man said, chuckling as if at some sinister inside joke. “Yes, that's what it does. Everyone who stops in always finds it most fascinating, you know?”
But what is it?” Jack asked, his bleeding nose wrapped in the handkerchief again.
It's exactly what it seems to be,” the proprietor said. “It is a mirror. And as for what it does… It does just what mirrors are meant to do. It reflects. In fact, I think it reflects just a bit too well, which, alas, is why its creator took to smashing it.”
He paused dramatically to let the meaning of his words sink in, and, as he pondered over what he had just heard, Jack felt for the tiniest second the slightest hint of foreboding.
Jack saw the proprietor's eyes drift to the small doorway that led to the dusty storage room. He followed the old man's gaze and, in the shadows, he could make out the silhouette of a large floor mirror. The sun chose this convenient moment to emerge for from behind a cloud and a ray of light illuminated the glass frame just long enough for Jack to get the vaguest glimpse of what it reflected: Jack's own face, with dead eyes and the gray, leathery skin of a week old corpse.
What is it that seems to be the matter, Mr Livings?” the old man asked kindly, noticing Jack's stunned expression out of the corner of his eye.
It was- I- the mirror,” Jack spluttered, trying to regain control of his own mind. An intelligible voice seemed to chatter somewhere inside his head, urging him to leave the weird little store, reminding him forcefully that he had places he needed to be, but no sooner had he tuned into it before he found himself entranced by those commanding eyes again.
Of course, I told you nobody leaves my store empty handed, did I not?” the proprietor said, smiling mischievously. “In fact, I think I have the very thing for you. I'm assuming by the fact that fate has brought you past my little den today on the edge of an otherwise deserted highway, you're away from home on a road trip of some kind, aren't you Jack?”
He leaned in over the dirty counter as he said his words, inching his weathered face closer to Jack's, and suddenly, his tone went cold and sinister.
You're all alone and a very long way from home, my friend.”
His eyes gleamed hungrily, like sparkling blue flames. Their terrible gaze lingered on Jack's stony face, and Jack didn't seem to care that the old man was edging ever closer to him. He didn't notice that the proprietor's cracked lips were beginning to part to reveal bloody, bestial teeth behind, and then-
Ouch!” he said, another bout of pain tearing through his nose and forcing him to look away. When it passed and he looked back again, the proprietor had pulled away, and was smiling happily from behind the counter once more.
And now, Jack remembered suddenly, it really was time to leave. The incomprehensible voice inside his head was back, yelling at him as loud as it could.
Get out!
This place isn't right!
Look, I probably should get back on the road,” Jack said to the proprietor. He meant it too; the nosebleeds were starting to make him feel queasy. “I have to be in the city by tomorrow morning, and I told my daughter I'd be back home in time for her birthday, as well.”
Of course,” said the proprietor kindly. “I was merely going to suggest you take home a souvenir for your little girl. A birthday present from the interstate.”
He fumbled under the counter, still not letting Jack out of his sight, and then he reached out and pressed something cold and sharp into Jack's left hand. He wasn't going to let his customer leave without making a sale.
Jack sighed and looked down at the object sitting on his palm. It was an uncut ruby, obviously worth a bit, because it glowed a deep, vibrant red even in the shadow of the store's interior.
The local export,” the proprietor announced. “There used to be a gem mine around here years ago. Not very far from this shop, if you'll believe it. I used to make a roaring trade in those stones, at least until some of the miners died in an unfortunate accident decades ago and the operation was shut down for good.”
And this is one of the last gems they mined, right?” Jack asked, turning the stone around in his fingers absentmindedly.
The very last,” the proprietor replied. “In that way, it's a very special stone indeed. It's also very special because it's impure, cheap, which is why I was never able to sell it. But it'd make an excellent gift for a young girl's birthday, don't you think?”
If the ruby was low quality, it didn't look it to Jack. It was one of the biggest, realest looking gemstones he'd seen, and if the unnoticeable fact that it wasn't pure made it cheap…
His daughter certainly wouldn't care, that was for sure.
How much?”
A bargain. Twenty dollars, and the deal, as they say, is done,” the old man declared with a flourish.
Jack retrieved his wallet and placed a twenty dollar note down on the counter.
Thank you, mister Livings,” the proprietor said, opening the ancient cash register beside him to put the money away. “The little girl won't forget this birthday, I guarantee it. She'll be having quite the surprise indeed.”
He stared into Jack's face one last time, and laughed. He didn't look like the walking dead anymore. Now his skin was illuminated in the sunlight that billowed in through the window at the front of the store, and - healthy and filled with colour after all - it wasn't pale and ghostly any longer.
You're looking a bit pale, Jack,” he said, pointing towards a looking glass behind the counter, where Jack's gaunt face languished, suddenly pasty and dry. “Maybe you should see somebody about those nosebleeds? In either case, I think you should be on your way now. You have to be in the city by tomorrow, remember?”
That's right,” Jack said in a slur, before clasping the handkerchief to his nose.
You really do look like you're getting a bit ill,” the old man commented softly. “Get yourself out of the dust and into the fresh air before you faint, my good friend.”
He pointed forcefully to the door and waved goodbye with his right hand. The carved oak door that served as the entrance swung open of its own accord and, seemingly on their own, Jack Livings' legs carried him out of the store and back to his car, which was waiting where he left it outside.
Jack climbed into his car and wiped the last dregs of blood from his nose. He folded up the proprietor's handkerchief again (it was now nearly entirely soaked in crimson) and shoved it into the glove compartment, before reaching for his keys and inserting them into the ignition.
What a strange store, he thought, taking one last glance at The Sanguine Exchange as he pulled out of the car park onto the deserted highway. The store still looked as strange and out of place as it did when he first arrived. Except now, the sight of it stirred something inside him, and filled him with some unexplainable feeling that something was very wrong. The tattered mannequin still stared at him from the window as he drove away, except now its hand was no longer beckoning and the yellowing note, if he had still been close enough to read it, now said:
Thank you. DON'T come again.
Inside the store, deep within the silent storage room, the strange old man pondered the reflection of the dead man in the mirror before him, and smiled a wry smile.
* * *
Clement Cove Courier, December 2nd
The body of an elderly man was found this afternoon by a family of holiday makers, on the Western Freeway, 12km from Black River, a close by mining community.
The deceased, identified as Mr Jack Livings, was found slumped at the wheel of his car, which had pulled over at the side of the road. The state coroner reported that Mr Livings had apparently been dead for just over 48 hours. The cause of death appears to have been a brain haemorrhage. The deceased's face was covered in blood. Mr Livings was found clutching a blood soaked pebble. The significance of this remains unknown.
Police say that Mr Livings seems to have died of natural causes and have ruled out foul play. Mr Livings is survived by a wife and two children.

About the Author;
D. Robert Grixti is a writer and indie video game developer hailing from Melboure, Australia. His major influences include John Wyndham, Robert J Sawyer and Lovecraft.
His work has been published in Imagine Literary Journal (the literary journal of Deakin University in Australia), Crossfire Magazine, Danse Macabre, The WiFiles, Linguistic Erosion, Black Petals, Static Movement, Eunoia Review and more.
His first novel, Sun Bleached Winter, is to be released in December of this 2012 from Damnation Books, in digital and paperback formats, and he has a novelette entitled Fragments of Sunrise that is to be released as an e-short by Disposable Fiction.

Thank you for reading and make sure to come back next week for more great fiction. Also make sure to see our expansive collection of past issues.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Issue Eighteen, Volume Four

From an Desk of the Editor;
Hello and welcome literature fans to Larks Fiction Magazine! Tonight we bring you the very best in literature from the rising stars of the language arts world. Join us for an exploration of the human condition through art.
In news our back log of ebook publications should be begin to clear out this week. You should see two more editions to our Smashwords store soon.
Also we have brought on another editor to help read through our submissions. As of now we are current on all of our readings. Acceptance and rejection letters will still take a little while to filter out. We hope to be caught up by the end of October.
All the best,
Jessica Rowse
LFM Editor

New Eyes
By Deng Xiang

Since the inception of life, I looked through windows
Carved from my skull, a cavity lies deep
Like an abyss, which cannot be supplanted
By platinum and stainless steel,
Or priceless diamond and gems.

Nothing comes so natural,
So profound, and the heart learns to evince
Its emotions aloud through them.
Your voice unravels its meaning too

As it complements every nuance
Of your biological movements.
Show what you got. Let your eyes
Tell the tenor of your understanding;

Let your eyes augment the flaws you have,
As where you stand
Is how everything falls
Into homogeneous places.

About the Poet;
Deng Xiang speaks, writes articles, poems and stories while sharing his passion for all things erudite and salient. Mainly, his subsistence comprises of highbrow literature from chemistry to pure mathematics. His appetite for knowledge never ceases, even if he got an accomplishment worth showing off. 

Under a Marble Sky

Photo by Daniel J. Pool

First You'll Have to Learn not to Breathe
by Adam Hoss

“First, Ms. Burke, you'll have to learn not to breathe.”
Pedro Guerra sat cramped in the plastic discomfort of the waiting room. All thirty seats were taken.
An obese Asian man with nacho dust in his mustache bounced his knee in the opposite chair. Two rows over, a freckled girl stared at a magazine page she hadn't flipped in hours and a black-haired child drew crayon spaceships on the wall while his mother slept. Key rings and checkbooks rattled in shaky hands. The elderly receptionist forced a smile.
“Now, you'll try to breathe,” the doctor continued. He spoke to a woman in a wheelchair. “This is natural, Ms. Burke. Absent the physical activity of breathing, the brain thinks it's dying. Patients have gone as far as dislocating their jaws. Rest assured, the setbacks are temporary.”
The brochure recommended practicing how not to breathe with eyes closed in an empty, peaceful place. Pedro had the brochure memorized.
“Can you believe some folks get the operation reversed?” the Asian man asked.
Pedro stared at the white tiles between his feet until he realized the man had directed the question at him.
“Oh,” Pedro muttered. “Yeah. I don't get that either.”
The man grinned.
Pedro had mangled the brochure to shreds in his fist.
“Do not attempt to walk unassisted within the initial twenty-four hours,” the doctor continued.
The doctor's chiseled physique was evident even through his lab coat. His pale blue eyes, perfect symmetry and adolescent face could woo royalty and lead the celibate astray. Despite her mask of bandages, the wheelchair-bound woman also glistened, an ageless wax angel whose eyes alone could incite madness, cult followings or world war.
Pedro knew better.
“You'll frequently stumble in the first week,” the doctor said. “This is natural. The brain needs time to adjust to its new equipment.”
The brochure suggested two weeks of physical therapy on an outpatient basis. The brochure provided directions to local facilities. The brochure said that proper training can condition the brain to believe anything.
“The name's Wei,” the Asian man said.
Pedro knew his life would change before he read the e-mail. The subject line was subtle. Screams of “YOU'VE WON” are red flags for fraud. But when Pedro saw the clinic's name in the inbox, he knew.
Had the message arrived before the accident, Pedro's mother would be here instead. In cases such as Mrs. Guerra's, the lottery system passes rights to next of kin.
Pedro's father had also won the procedure. A day later, he promptly fled the country and had not been in touch.
“Don't have a name?” Wei asked. “Fine. I'll call you Zeppelin, then.”
“Christ, kid. You're a wreck,” he said. “Zeppelin. As in, the band. It's on your t-shirt.”
“Oh. Yeah.”
Panels of curved glass filtered sunlight against white walls. The words “PATIENTS AND STAFF ONLY” flanked double doors beside the reception desk. A sign to its right read “Reminder: The Patient Has Thirty Days Within Which To Reverse The Procedure. Changes Made Beyond This Point…”
Ms. Burke's wheelchair obscured the rest.
“Now,” the doctor told her, “you'll have the opportunity to select an approximation of your original voice. Most patients, however, opt for an enhancement. We want perfect. We're programmed that way. And here at Marinetti Labs, we deliver.”
Pedro didn't tell Jennifer about the procedure. Not yet.
“So, Zeppelin, you goin' under the knife on the company dime?”
“Your insurance.”
“It's right here,” Pedro mumbled, fumbling in his pockets.
“For Chris's sake. Do you understand the English language? Comprende Ingles? Entiende? Te gusta tacos, hombre? I am asking you if your insurance is covering the operation.”
“Oh,” Pedro says. “Uh, yeah. It is.”
“Lucky dog,” Wei said. “I had to empty my life savings. Worth it, though.”
“Hell yeah it's worth it,” snapped a black man sitting still as stone.
Microscopic disclaimers blanketed the brochure's backside. Statistical anomalies, the brochure called them. Still, Pedro had them memorized. Heat sinks can fail. Circuits can melt the silicone. The brain may reject the wiring, though the brochure made abundantly clear that, in such cases, Marinetti bears no responsibility. Rarer still are hospital-borne Trojans, worms, macros and remote hacks. The brochure is legally required to print these warnings, and the patient is legally required to accept the risks.
The disclaimers weren't what Pedro hid from Jennifer.
Ricardo Guerra worked a landing strip on the USS Kurzweil. Later, he worked a keyboard and mouse in a skyscraper downtown. When the random lottery selected him, he didn't tell his family either.
After the accident, Pedro knew why.
Instead, Ricardo wrote a letter. It began “I am sorry,” said something about trust, and ended “Love.”
“You know that they say the operation doesn't only prevent broken bones, but broken hearts?” the black man asked. “Yup. No more emotional bullshit. Zero. I say it's worth it.”
The doctor lectured Ms. Burke on muscle memory therapy. The brochure abbreviated it MMT. Pedro knew the words before the doctor spoke them. MMT was experimental due to unsettled theoretical differences that were currently impeding research. The patient can risk the therapy now, or opt for a return voucher when the technology is stable.
Ricardo left his return voucher behind.
The brightly-colored ticket sits alone on an oak table in a four-bedroom cape cod on Fletcher Street, where Pedro Guerra discovered Playboy, first learned what happened to Grandma, cried into a dial tone and laughed and loved and fucked and felt a great evil boiling inside him as he shoved his father against the wall during an argument over a tenth-grade report card.
A single shred of neon green: the only evidence Ricardo Guerra existed, that he once wrote a letter that ended “Love” and that he once learned not to breathe.
“Listen, Zeppelin,” Wei said. “I didn't mean anything by that 'taco' shit I said. I feel like a jackass. I'm sorry, man.”
Pedro watched the doctor stuff a neon slip into Ms. Burke's purse.
Did she also write a letter? Did it end with “Love?” And who is this hunched, gray man with a pink tie at her side? Are they afraid? Aroused? In love? Are they here only after an accident? Does a great evil boil inside them too?
The doctor talked as Pink Tie pushed Ms. Burke aside.
Yes, Pedro decided. They're killers. Pink Tie held the gun. Ms. Burke forged the note. They made it look like suicide. Upon approval of insurance, Marinetti Labs made the investigation disappear.
“Think she'll be back?” the black man asked.
The remainder of the sign Ms. Burke had been hiding read “Come At Unknown Risks.”
“It's insane, right?” the black man asked. “The people who get it reversed, I mean. It's like, what the hell? Think about it. Perfect vision. Six pack abs. Orgasms beefed up beyond belief. An inability to feel fear. Seriously. Look it up. No more sore throats, no heart attacks, none of that bullshit, man. I mean, this shit's been scientifically proven and peer reviewed in, like, thousands of labs, so you know it's true. Look it up.”
“They say it changes you,” Pedro said.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“I don't know,” Pedro answered. “But that's what the people that get it reversed say.”
Yes, the setbacks are temporary. The brochure said that. Pedro had the brochure memorized long before the accident.
But every year, for reasons unknown to Marinetti Labs and the black man and the Pink Tie, patients revert to their imperfect, fragile deformities, their bruised flesh and scars and hairline fractures, their sexual shortcomings, their petty longings for love and sleep, their addictions, their arthritis, their diagnoses and payment plans and lymph nodes and finite fuses burning bright in their hearts.
“Wei Lee?” called an orange-haired nurse.
Fluorescent lights on the black man's glasses looked like UFOs, Pedro thought.
“Alright, fellas,” Wei said. “I'll keep the table warm. Oh, and Zeppelin, sorry again about the whole taco thing. I wasn't thinkin' straight.”
Wei winked and followed the nurse. The black man crossed his legs, uninterested in further conversation. Tensely, Pedro shoved the brochure's remains into his jeans pocket, checked the time on his cell phone, felt for the reassuring texture of his insurance card, and closed his eyes.
“Last, Ms. Burke,” the doctor said, “you'll have to learn not to panic when you realize nothing's beating in your chest.”

The End

About the Author;
I teach Rhetoric and Composition at Terra State Community College in Fremont, Ohio, hold a Master's degree in linguistics, and, in addition to my love of letters, harbor a borderline obsession with obscure, indigenous languages. I currently live in Sandsuky, Ohio.

Famous Last Words
Chad Bolling

“After I’m finished with this last bounty, we can be together.” Maahes said as he stroked the purple hair of a very young girl.
“Famous last words.” The purple haired girl named Rachel said.
Maahes stood up. He was tall and scrawny, but his body was completely robotic from his elbows to his shoulders. Rachel stood up beside Maahes and pulled off his jacket reveling the robotic body-parts.
“I wish you could be more positive.” Maahes said as he picked up a gun
from the ground and attached it to his shoulder.
“I’m sorry Maahes. It’s just...” Rachel helped Maahes snap the gun into place. “I wish you could get the procedure done now so my father would let us get married.”
Maahes brushed his hand across Rachel’s face. “The procedure can’t be done without money, Rachel. Cloning and growing body-parts is expensive, not to mention the cost of surgery, and we have to eat once we are married too.”
Rachel stood up on her toes and kissed Maahes on the cheek. “Well just be careful, okay?”
Maahes nodded in compliance. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
A month later Rachel heard a knock at the door. Hoping that it was Maahes, she rushed over to open the door, and there he stood. Maahes looked unharmed from the recent bounty, but very tired. Rachel hugged him.
“Maahes! You’re back!” Rachel said as she embraced him.
“What are you doing here?” A raspy voice from a dark corner of the room said.
“I’m sorry sir. I just wanted to let your daughter know I’m safe,” Maahes replied.
A gray haired man walked out into the light. He wore a military jacket over his aging but muscular torso and was puffing away at the last part of a cigar. “I know you’re sorry cyborg. All of your kind are sorry for what they did to us humans.” The man turned to the side, reviling his missing right arm.
“Dad stop!” Rachel said.
“No Rachel it’s fine, I was just leaving anyway. I’m going back to Earth for the surgery, and when I come back I won’t be a cyborg anymore.” Maahes said, then turned his back to them and walked away.
“No one’s safe with you around cyborg!” Rachel's father shouted after him.
Rachel slammed the door. “Dad! That war of yours has been over a long time. Don’t you think it’s time to put the past behind you?”
Her father sat down and put his cigar out. “Dear, it’s not just the war, it’s him. He’s dangerous, even if he’s not a cyborg. For Pete’s sake Rachel, do you know what bounty hunters do? They kill people for money!”
Rachel sighed. “No dad he just delivers people for money. There’s a big difference.”
“I don’t care. The man is still dangerous and too old for you.” He said as Rachel stormed off. “If not for his cybernetic body-parts I would chase him off with more than words.” Rachel’s father mumbled.
A few months had gone by when Rachel answered another knock at the door. “Maahes!” Rachel hugged him, feeling his arms and shoulders.“It’s been done. Hasn’t it?”
Maahes took off his jacket, reveling the new flesh that replaced his machine parts. “I did it Rachel! Now we can be together!”
“Not so fast, son.” A raspy voice said. “Rachel. Step aside!” Rachel’s father said as he ran toward Maahes dressed in his full military uniform.
“Dad no!” Rachel screamed as her father punched Maahes in the face.
“Not so tough now are you cyborg?” Rachel’s father said as he pushed Maahes out of the doorway then punched him again, this time in the chest. Rachel’s father pushed his daughter inside as Maahes feel to the ground, holding his chest.
“Now stay away from her you miserable...cyborg!” Rachel’s father said and then slammed the door.

About the Author
Chad lives in Long Beach, California and loves to read and write fiction when he is not enjoying the cinema or a fine cheeseburger. He has also been published in Farther Stars Than These.

Thank you for reading and please join us next week with more great independent literature here on Larks Fiction Magazine! For more great fiction also our old issues and check us out on

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Issue Seventeen, Volume Four

From the Desk of the Editor;
Hello and welcome to this issue of Larks Fiction Magazine! In this issue we investigate beauty, surrealism, and horror of the human experience.

I would like to apologize for last week's issue being late. We thought it was better to wait till we had a full issue. I hope you enjoy and make sure to check out our older issues.

Daniel J. Pool

The god of yellow sun
By Charles Bernard

The lion eyed god has lost a battle
He had fought a thousand before
With the monsters of the north
For freedom he lived his life

Blood flowed beyond shores
He could have turned a blind eye
He could have grown a pot belly
He refused he stood for equality

Darkness he chased with a yellow sun
In the east our sun rose to freedom
Hope was restored through our god
Our burden he bore our pain he endured

For years he fought demons
Victory was the only option
In marshes, dark forests, tricky waterfalls
He took war to protect our lands

Blazing was rays of our yellow sun
Treachery arouse to blunt its shine
He made a pact with his enemies
Under the shade we fought our way
Years have gone by
Youth energy had fled him
Dawn has come to bless him
In peace he slept when life light dimmed

Follow Charles @

By Caitlin Hoffman

    At the moment Taylor is smoking a pipe (a wooden one, of course), dancing about on the rings of Saturn and wondering where her cat went. She’s (probably) looking down at her watch, wondering when the aftershocks from the apocalypse-to-come will scald off the hair she hates so much. ("Bad dye-job. Long story." she might say.)

    She stares back and forth and bathes in the yellowish, orangey clouds. ("What colour is that? Tangerine? Peach? The shade of acid reflux?")

    Her eyes burn with an intellectuality that was often the onset of estrangement from her peers and seen as no more than unappealing pride to those she wished would respect her. But for Taylor, that’s all over now.

    Somewhere on the fifth ring of Saturn, Taylor is contemplating Life. With the gift of retrospect, she can see that existing as a homosapien wasn’t all bad. Limiting, perhaps, but not the first prize winner of the arsenic-laced hell-juice recipe. Perhaps it hadn’t been a punishment as she had first believed. Perhaps being condemned to a mortal shell was the only way she could fathom her role in the universe.

    (As well as her role in the end of it.)

    This flesh had been a gift to her.

    Taylor stalks about, puffing smoke and ash. In the gaseous swirls, the anti-life of the atmosphere, she sings out,

    "Heeere, kitty kitty... Ouch!"

    Her toe gets clipped on a passing moon rock. She eyes it in distaste but wastes no words on its passing; nerve endings are now no more than a commodity, one whose expiration is imminent.

    (Maybe) she’s starting to regret that little mishap back home. Not that there was much of a home to begin with. Taylor pretended to be beyond the need of external companionship, but like all other humans, she was (to an extent) cursed with the urge to be social and the desire to be loved.

    Which is why, all alone in the mist of rolling hydrogen, she hopes to find her cat.

    "There you are, Snuffles!" Gladly, she scoops up the white ball of cat called Snuffles, who mews impatiently as if to say: "Took you long enough!"

    Taylor rolls her pipe to one side of her mouth, lavishing her feline friend with awkward half-kisses all over his well-combed, long-haired pelt, ashamed and elated. She is ashamed that she needs companionship and elated that she has found it.

    Maybe then they will sit on the fifth or fourth or thirteenth planetary ring, pawing at passing puffs of helium, licking up colour and counting stars. They just might share some sort of meditative mind-meld, one in which they can express their gratitude for not being alone at the almost-end of the world.

    "I’m the worst supervillain ever." Taylor might say to Snuffles, who will look at her with plaintive, partially suspicious eyes, only to surrender to the warmth in her arms.

    (Maybe) they’ll cuddle. (Maybe) they’ll make plans to roast marshmallows on a hot, crisp moon.

    Taylor is at a safe distance, ready to watch the fireworks.

    She stares outward, a bundle of cat fur mewing unpredictably in her arms, and with one last look behind her leans out into space, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of all those atomic bombs playing leapfrog on a blue-green planet four spaces over, appearing to her as breathless and beautiful as butterflies.
 The End
About the Author;
Writer's Bio: Caitlin writes books nobody reads. You can find one of them here:

by D. Robert Grixti

The numbers on the digital clock blinked ominously: 3:21 am.

A scream cut through the night, waking Desmond with a start. His heart already beating at a manic pace, Desmond sat upright, throwing the heavy quilt covering him effortlessly to the floor.

He knew right away that Janine needed him. There were only two other people in the castle: Janine and the priest, Father Oakwood. The priest had been disturbed by their find on the upper floor after dinner and had decided to go back to town and fetch the police, and that had left only Desmond and Janine to stay behind and document what happened during the night.

He fumbled across the oak cabinet beside the bed for his glasses and when he found them and put them on, he was greeted with the eerie sight of the guest bedroom, dark grey in the quiet twilight of the early morning. He vaulted off the bed and started to run to the closed door, before he remembered the video camera in the sports bag he'd left on the dresser. For a split second, he pondered taking the few seconds required to dig the camera out and bring it with him - he'd come here to record a haunting, after all, but common sense reminded him that Janine was in danger, and that he had no time to waste.

Hope she doesn't mind, he said silently to himself as he nudged the door open and edged over the threshold into the hallway, where the stale air chilled his spine and made him immediately regret going to bed the night before in nothing but an old T-shirt and his underwear.

He had to take a moment to orient himself in the darkness but when he finally knew where he was, he leaned forward and sprinted down the hall to the last door at the very end which was Janine's bedroom. Biting down the urge to let out an audible shiver from the almost unnatural coldness, he wrapped his fingers around the brass doorknob and pushed. With a whimpering creak, the heavy door swung open, and he lunged into the bedroom, ready to fight off whatever awaited within.

He felt a brief, almost unannounced prickle of fear as he looked around to spot the foe, but the room was completely empty, save for the dust covered dresser in the corner and the double bed that was neatly made, never slept in. Janine's notebook lay open on the pillow, the same place she'd thrown it down after being interrupted by Oakwood's call from the upper floor.

'Where the hell did she go?' Desmond asked out loud, bewildered at the sight of the unoccupied room. It was obvious that she'd never returned after dinner, even though he'd walked back with her after the priest decided to head back to town. He'd decided to retire to bed shortly after, and he'd bid Janine goodnight and made her promise not to leave her bedroom. Oakwood hadn't wanted them to stay behind in the castle, but they had a job to do and wanted to see it through to the end. The priest had sensed the danger. He'd had told them both that it was dangerous to leave their rooms in the middle of the night because of the phenomena, and after finding the decomposing body upstairs they'd been unsettled enough to not think twice about heeding the advice, but-

What was that?

A flicker of movement registered in Desmond's periphery vision, interrupting his frantic thoughts. Acting on impulse, he turned to face it, and caught a faint, almost completely invisible sliver of a shadow, darting across the floor and burying itself in the darkness of the hallway outside the open door.

His heart started to beat faster.

Relax, relax, it's just a shadow, he assured himself. Probably just something from outside.

He turned to the tiny window beside Janine's bed, expecting to see the shadow again, or a dancing tree branch that had cast it, but there was no such thing to be seen; all he saw was the cloudy sky outside, where the pale full moon shined brightly.

Then what the Hell did I just see?

Desmond shuddered, and a wave of foreboding seemed to overcome the room. At once, he had the unmistakable feeling of being watched by unseen eyes. He spun around on the spot, scanning the dark corners of the room for the source of the disturbance, but he saw nothing but emptiness and the disjointed silhouette of fixtures reduced to abstract shapes. Silently telling himself to get a grip, he shook his head and put the niggling feeling of dread aside. There was still Janine: he had to find her, and get her out of here.

The wooden creak of a door slowly opening echoed through the hallway outside from somewhere in the thick blackness, making Desmond jump.

He turned on the spot to face the shadowy hallway again and at the very end of it, only just visible in the dark, he saw a heavy, ornate door, ajar only a little at the moment but swaying open wider of its own accord as he watched.

From his explorations earlier in the day, he knew that this specific door was the library, but it had been locked tightly when he'd tried it earlier. Now, however, it was open, and even though he didn't recall hearing any footsteps as he crossed from his bedroom to Janine's, someone was in there, and it looked like they'd entered in quite a hurry.

'Janine?' Desmond called out as he slowly walked out of the bedroom, edging closer to the beckoning door. 'Are you hiding in there? I'm coming to find you!'

He half expected to hear Janine call back, just so he knew she was in there, but he received no answer, save for the chilling scrape of the door opening wider, as if being manipulated by an invisible hand.

At last he came to the threshold of the door, where he could just make out the vast library in the darkness. The elaborate, carved edges of the many bookshelves within loomed in the shadow, only just discernible from the blackness that filled the room. By squinting, he could make out narrow alleyways between the massive shelves that twisted and converged into a sprawling maze of paper and wood.

Good place to hide, he noted.

'Janine?' he called out again, as the hairs on his neck bristled at the notion of losing himself amongst the shelves. He couldn't explain why, but he was trying to avoid having to enter the room, if it was possible. Deep down in his gut, the horrifying awareness that if he crossed the threshold, he'd be lost forever lurked ominously, unexplainably. 'Janine, are you in there?'

There was no reply. Total silence hung in the air, the door having finally come to rest against the dirty stone wall. Could she hear him calling? If she was in there, could she have gone so far in that it was impossible for his voice to carry through the darkness? Or was there another reason that she might be remaining silent? Was there something in this place so frightening, so evil, that she wouldn't answer for fear of alerting it, even to him?

Don't be stupid, Desmond, he admonished himself. Get in there and find her!

He glimpsed a flicker of movement amongst the bookshelves, as if something was receding into the obscuring darkness, trying to remain hidden.

'Janine, I'm coming in, stay there!' he called out, stepping through the doorway.

A gust of freezing air whooshed in from the corridor behind him, almost knocking him off his feet, and the next thing he heard was the creak of the door moving once again, before it slammed shut with a crash behind him, leaving him in total darkness.

'Damn!' he swore, his heart skipping a beat as his ears rung from the cacophony. 'What the Hell's going on?'

Did the wind blow it shut?

Not even bothering to try and stifle the raw terror that had overcome him, and completely forgetting all notions of looking for Janine, he spun around and lunged for the door, determined to escape from the castle. He fumbled in the darkness until he felt the cold metal of the doorknob and twisted it clockwise, ready to make a run for it. With a congested grunt, he slammed his shoulder into the door to push it open. It collided painfully with the thick wood, creating a loud thump. The door shook, but didn't budge.

'Damn it, what is this?' Desmond snarled in anger, rubbing his aching shoulder and trying the door again. It remained steadfastly closed.

Locked maybe? he wondered, feeling around for a catch. I didn't hear anything lock when it closed. What could have-

Oh, shit. No, no. It can't be.

'I can't get out!'

Unbidden, his mind ran through a memory from earlier in the evening, when he had tried the door before dinner. It wouldn't open then, even though he had they key but it had opened of its own accord just before. Suddenly, he realised what was happening, and he felt his muscles tighten with fear. The door wasn't locked, after all - someone, something was holding it shut from the other side, something that wanted to trap him in here.

Damn it! What do I do now?

He swore loudly and kicked at the door with his bare foot. Why did he have to come rushing in here like a damn fool? He turned once more, to face the darkness of the library, wondering if there was another way out, if only he could hope to possibly see it in the blackness.

It was his only option.

Maybe Oakwood would return to the castle and save him. He doubted it: it was a five hour drive from the castle back to Preston. It was a very small chance, if any, that the priest would be back in time.

He began to make his way over cautiously through the first row of shelves, watching carefully for anything he could use as a weapon, poking out between the thick volumes, when once again he was struck with the unshakable feeling that he was being watched by something malevolent.

Something moved, barely pronounced, ahead of him.

'Janine, where are you?' he called out.

The feeling of being watched grew more intense.

Oh God, he whispered, following it into the shelves. Please let it be her.

Please let it be her.

He saw something undefinable edge around a corner into another row of shelves. He broke into a run and chased after it.

If it was Janine, she could help him escape. There had to be a way out of here. He wasn't trapped. He refused to believe it.

He picked up his speed.

Somewhere in the distance, a pinprick of light flickered.

Come on! Keep going!

He emerged into a reading area at the rear of the library. Along the back wall, a heavy wooden desk was pushed up in front of a blockaded window. A dying oil lantern sat on top of it over an open book, its tiny flame feebly wavering from side to side as it consumed the last drops of fuel. As he approached it, it died with a slight whisper, leaving him alone in the darkness.

He turned around, to try and see if he could spot a way out of the room. All he could see were the shelves he had just passed through.

There was nowhere else to go.

Overcome by hopelessness, Desmond sunk to his knees, screaming as loudly as he could for someone, anyone, to come and help him. As he shouted in desperation, he saw, for the very last time, movement in the shadows in front of him. His screams degenerated quickly into a frantic sobbing, and he shook uncontrollably as he watched the short, slender figure in the darkness coming gradually closer. Soon, the sobs slowed down and he was silent, transfixed upon the shadowy body moving through the bookshelves towards him. Its face was hidden in the darkness and its body, too, was obscured, but it was definitely a human silhouette, and even though it made no sounds, no footsteps as it glided towards him, he thought that it was possible, after all, that all may not be lost. Perhaps it could be-?

'Janine?' he whispered, as the figure moved out of the shadows, coming into clear view.

It wasn't Janine.


'Did you find anything?' asked the priest, his voice congested with fatigue from a sleepless night. He had tried to call Desmond and Janine when he got back to Preston just after half past three. They hadn't answered. He'd tried again after the police left to investigate, an hour later. There was still no response. It wasn't like them. They were used to late night phone calls. He was worried.

The police sergeant sat down at the table in front of him and solemnly sipped his coffee. He sighed forlornly, and shook his head.

'Three bodies. One upstairs in the art gallery - we identified him as Colin Croshaw, a cat burglar who's been missing for two weeks; he obviously intended to get hold of some of the old paintings - and two in the library, trapped in a corner up the back. Your friends, I'm afraid.'

He swallowed another mouthful of coffee.

'Students from the university, weren't they?'

Oakwood nodded.

'Journalism students, they told me. They wrote for their campus paper, did a column about urban legends and ghost stories. I'd worked with them before a few times, helping them cover the theological aspects of a few bits of local folklore. I went to the castle with them because otherwise they'd have gone alone, but…'

The sergeant leaned forward.

'Forensics are up there now, but, personally, I doubt they'll find anything. The coroner's already looked at the bodies. No apparent cause of death. Says it's like their hearts just stopped. I don't know what to think…'

 'I don't know what to think either,' said Oakwood standing up and crossing the room to the wine cask opposite. 'All I know is that something about that place just felt wrong, and now I know why people stay away.'

He poured himself a glass, and took a sip. Behind him, the police officer stretched and climbed to his feet.

'Well, I'd better be off then. Have to let the evening papers know about the investigation. We'll be expected to try and find something, even if we have to conclude that these people were killed by ghosts.'

Oakwood walked him to the door and saw him out. He watched the dirty police car recede down the road in front of the church, until it vanished behind a thicket of trees.

He sighed softly and sunk into an armchair in front of a fireplace.

What a waste, he thought, sipping his wine. Two kids dead, and nobody to blame.

Now he was alone.

'Should be glad that at least I had the foresight to get out of there while I still could,' he said to nobody in particular, closing his eyes.

As he started to drift off to sleep, a strange sense of foreboding prickled in the depths of his mind.

Somebody was watching him.


About the Author;
D. Robert Grixti is a speculative and horror fiction author and indie video game developer hailing from Melbourne, Australia. He writes because he likes telling stories. His first novel, Sun Bleached Winter is to be released in December, 2012. Follow him at!/DRobertGrixti or at