The Life

THE LIFE by Pen of the Damned’s Joseph Pinto

Pen of the Damned

I led the life once.

Once.

“Excuse me.  I was hoping we could talk a minute.  Something about what your daughter said to mine.”

It felt another lifetime ago.  For all intents and purposes, it was.

“You know how kids can be.  So I was hoping you could find out what was said?”

I was born into the life.  Into the family.  And when you’re born into the family, you’re expected to act a certain way.  There’s a creed that’s followed, one that’s not ever questioned.  Not ever.

“See, my little girl came home yesterday.  She told me your daughter told her that she can’t be on safety patrol.”

You lead two lives.  The person you are, and the person the family needs you to be.  You’re molded without ever feeling the hands.  It starts early, when you’re still too young to understand.  But you’re molded.  You’re taught there’s only one way…

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Scampi

SCAMPI by Pen of the Damned’s Thomas Brown

Pen of the Damned

“Is this love real?” she asks.

Sitting on a bench near the other end of the room, her words are unmistakable, magnified by the reverence and strange acoustics of the museum. He turns from the glass case filled with the desiccated husks of seahorses to look at her. Her hair is down, her glasses bright. She’s wearing the coat he bought her last winter. It’s not quite winter yet but the evenings are getting cooler. It is evening now. At least, it must be. They’ve been in here for a hundred years already, it seems.

“Obviously,” he replies. “Duh. I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.”

At the sound of his voice, she looks up. “Not you, silly.” She raises the paper cup to her mouth and sips. “Arabica. Instant pick-me-up.”

“I’m an instant pick-you-up.”

“You’re fast, I’ll give you that.”

“Hey.”

With a lingering glance at the contents of…

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Scattered Ramblings

SCATTERED RAMBLINGS by members of Pen of the Damned

Pen of the Damned

The Process

Plunging the blade deep into the abdominal cavity, I drive it upward until I hit the xiphoid process. Twisting slightly to my right, I skirt the sternum and slice through the costal cartilage attaching the ribs to the breastplate. Careful not to puncture the internal organs, I stop my upward motion at the manubrium. Drawing the sharpened metal along the topside of the upper-most rib, I listen to the harsh breathing. Returning to the original point of entry, I pause, then again thrust into and through the abdominal wall, swiftly separating the flesh and muscle from the body’s left side.

Laying the knife on the tray, I reach down and peel the cavity open with a great deal of force. A slight groan escapes amongst the pops and rending sounds as the connective tissue still in place rips away to reveal the fluttering heart. A marvelous thing the…

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Maxwell’s Cellar

MAXWELL’S CELLAR by Pen of the Damned’s Lee A. Forman

Pen of the Damned

“Brett, wake up.”

His voice echoed, came to my ears from great distance.

“Wake up, you worthless slag.”

Cracks of light burned my eyes. Slowly they grew until I saw the familiar boots of Sam Brooks. Those stupid fucking skull buckles… Peculiar how my first thought lent itself to something so unimportant.

He grabbed my collar and pulled me from the floor. “Come on, you shit, we’re going to see the boss.”

My attempts at a response led to no success. Throat dry, lips cracked, desperate for water—I couldn’t even croak. Not that I knew what the fuck I would say. I had no idea where I was and little memory of how I got there. Something about a bar and a yellow neon light; I’m pretty sure it was shaped in the name of some cheap beer.

Sam dragged me down the hall, jeans riding along the splintered…

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Into The Blue

INTO THE BLUE by Pen of the Damned’s Jon Olson

Pen of the Damned

“Hello there,” a man’s voice says.

I open my eyes and realize I’m standing on a pier. Snow lies in small, shoveled heaps along the edges and the sky is a cloudless grey. It’s cold yet I feel nothing.

“I bet you’re wondering why you’re naked?”

Looking down I see that the voice is right but feel no need to cover myself up. Turning to my right, I see him.

He’s an older man with thin, white hair combed to the side. Thick rimmed glasses rest upon his nose magnifying his green eyes.

“My name’s Horton,” he says extending his hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Herman Trotter.”

“How do you know who I am?”

“There’s no easy way to say it so I’ll just come out with it. You’re dead.”

I blink twice. “Dead?”

“Unfortunately. What’s the last thing you remember?”

Thinking back, I easily find the memory…

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Damned Echoes 3

DAMNED ECHOES 3 by Pen of the Damned

Pen of the Damned

de_cloud_03

Priorities

Joseph A. Pinto

An impressive room, had it not been for the blood splattering the wall.

Usually Callie spoke nothing but shit, but this time she told no lies—the casino had hooked her up with a suite straight from Roman times; marbled floors and columns kissing the vaulted ceiling.  Several baths bigger than her apartment at home.

Lee arrived in Vegas soon after her poker tourney had ended; just before the dead had claimed the strip. He found Callie sitting on the couch, cork opener dripping in her hand.

Fuck. He hadn’t even unpacked yet.

“Took a couple of tries,” she said, “till I drove it through his head.”

Lee looked over the remains of the bellman.

“At least I got the wine,” Callie exhaled. “2004 Ghost Horse Cabernet Fantome.”

“You’re doing well for yourself.”

Callie shrugged. “I get by. Drink now. Kill later.”

He could never argue with her logic.


Lyla
Lee…

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Boston’s Bad Day

BOSTON’S BAD DAY by Pen of the Damned’s Joseph Pinto

Pen of the Damned

They unfurled from the sky, glistening against the hatching sun, glistening with their own secretions; glistening with newly absorbed blood.

At first, Boston thought them to be a series of banners trailing behind prop planes high above the city’s stretching fingers, marketing genius promoting a new brand. Down, down, curling down in slow motion, cleaving with surgical precision the clouds. Boston sipped his bitter coffee, wincing as it singed his tongue, noting how odd the greenish-gray hue of those tentacles appeared towering over his head.

He spit caffeine from his mouth.

Tentacles.

Gathering beneath the common din of the city, the marching feet, the impatient idling of cars, Boston heard it at last. Suction, similar to that from a vacuum; felt it, the popping inside his ears.

A final tentacle unfurled.

The woman ahead of Boston seized his attention. Slowly, her long, ebony hair lifted until taut at the…

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