Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Caravan By Brenton Booth

When I was sixteen I spent the summer

holidays with my father. We watched old

movies and drank Jim Beam outside his

caravan while Mozart drifted from the 

speakers inside. He never let me drink

much--I was always satisfied with one

or two anyway--, my guess is he saw 

himself in me, and the problems 

excessive drinking had created in his life.

Living out his final years in a caravan in

a suburb he hated, but had no choice 

because of past mistakes—mostly due

to the bottle. Though both of us smiling

and content. Me still a child, him 

happy with the undeserved company.

With every day feeling like victory. 

In a perfect summer, that unfortunately 

couldn't last. 





Brenton Booth lives in Sydney, Australia. Poetry of his has appeared in New York Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, Chiron Review, Main Street Rag, Naugatuck River Review, Heavy Feather Review and Nerve Cowboy. He has two full length collections available from Epic Rites Press. brentonbooth.weebly.com


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

You Can Run By Alec Solomita

The blues quotes Joe Louis

as I take a hit of weed.

The blues says to me,

“You can run but you can’t hide.”


Been running pretty well

until the arthritis began

to visit my left knee 

while the gout sojourns

in my big toe. Oh, I can

still run, but Jesse Owens

I am not. And, you say, hide?


And I say where?

I’m back in seventh grade

when I came in second-to-last

in the 50. I won’t say who

came in last, but his first

name was Mitchell.

’Course we had nowhere to hide

as the big boys clapped us 

over the finish line.


At first the hit of skunk

belies the blues’ remark

but the blues is always right.

You can run, or try,

to the sunny side of the street,

but from Brownie McGhee 

and Big Bill Broonzy, well,

there ain’t no escape, ain’t no harbor.

They slip through the dope

like the high notes of a blues harp.







Alec Solomita is a writer working in the Boston area. His fiction has appeared in

the Southwest Review, The Mississippi Review, Southword Journal, among other

publications. He was shortlisted by the Bridport Prize and Southword Journal. His poetry

has appeared in Poetica, MockingHeart Journal, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Amethyst Review, The Lake, The Galway Review, and elsewhere, including several anthologies. His poetry

chapbook “Do Not Forsake Me,” was published in 2017. His full-length poetry book,

“Hard To Be a Hero,” was released by Kelsay Books last spring.     



Sunday, May 28, 2023

SUBWAY By Wayne F. Burke


I told the guy making my sandwich
not to ask me any more questions
and he said "will that be all?"
I said "ring it up so I can get out
of here." He said "excuse me?"
I said "you heard me, I don't
stutter." He said "I am just asking
questions." I said "no you're not
you're harassing me." He said
"take your change and leave!"
I said "thanks asshole" and
I walked to the door. He said
"have a good day!" I said "fuck you!"
He waved.





Wayne F. Burke's poetry and prose has been widely published in print and online (including in THE RYE WHISKEY REVIEW). He was nominated for a Pushcart by THE DOPE FIEND DAILY in 2022. He lives in Vermont (USA).

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Lemonade Hair by Rory Hughes

lemonade hair dead and deflated thin like a bleached ghost; mascara rings fat as a star pitcher’s eyeblack; she cracked her broken finger back into place with a short scream behind the teeth, limped to the kitchen, put a handleless pot of water on the hob and collapsed onto the plastic flooring, her palms honeystuck with dead maggots and rice; she felt the phantom pains of her morning bones askew; the sun no more than an iced butter square of frosted glass heating her skull; her arms gave way to the greased insectarium of the floor and she writhed with them and shed her three-piece exoskeleton of piss, ash and chinese takeaway; swallowed a sharp ghost that clawed down her gullet and hocked a dry flubber of catarrh onto her chin; she’d watched that film six times the saturday her father had rented the vhs from blockbusters; she felt old, she wasn’t, but she felt it, everything made her feel it; innocence was wonder and not knowing, but now we know it all so the wonder’s all gone, there’s answers to every fucking thing and they mostly suck; this wasn’t age, no, this was karma, a necessary exchange; a string of bad decisions now manifest as an oblique fracture of the proximal phalanx of the index finger;



Rory Hughes is a South London-based writer and music journalist. His challenging short stories have appeared in publications such as BlazeVOX, Angel Rust, Fleas on the Dog, A Thin Slice of Anxiety and Squawk Back. He is the Feature Editor for music magazine, Astral Noize and has a novel, Theseus 34, to be published in 2023.


Friday, May 26, 2023

Inebriated By Skaja Evens

I dated a guy for a year or so

He introduced me to pot

I liked what it did to my awareness

Like removing the filter from my decisions


After we split, I stopped

I never wanted to need it


I can thank my genes for that addictive nature


It comes to mind tonight

As I drink my way through several tiny bottles

And my body reacts much the same

Inhibitions completely gone








Skaja Evens is a writer and artist living in Southeast Virginia. She runs It Takes All Kinds, a litzine published by Mōtus Audāx Press. She’s been published in various places, including Spillwords Press, Medusa’s Kitchen, Ink Pantry, Off the Coast, Synchronized Chaos, and Blue Pepper. She can often be found listening to music, considering the impossible, and enjoying her cats’ antics.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

HOW TO LIVE By Duane Vorhees

The true eloquence 

is in your eyes.


Don’t starve yourself

and spare your hoard.


If you badge yourself, beware

but prepare to brave

your firing squad

without blindfold or frown.


Downpours occur.

Don’t ignore life’s storms--

open your door

to the flood – and to love.


Experience becomes example

becomes expression becomes

experience


The wise carpenter

treasures the differences

between a drill

and a bolt.


Cherish your garden.

The white dandelion

of age and the red

newborn poppy

deserve equal cultivation.





Duane Vorhees is an American poet living in Thailand. Hog Press of Ames, Iowa, has published four of his poetry collections: HEAVEN, MEMORIES LINKED LIKE OASES, GIFT: GOD RUNS THROUGH ALL THESE ROOMS, and THE MANY LOVES OF DUANE VORHEES

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Meetings by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

Meetings
for the sake
of meetings.

It is
just not what
I prefer.

There are
things we could
take care of

with a
short email 
or a text.

We do not
need hours to
take up our

day.  No
meetings at
noon or at

nine in
the morning
or after

lunch when
all you want
to do is

let five
o’clock come
to go home.




Born in Mexico, Luis lives in California and works in the mental health field in Los Ángeles. His poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, Fearless, Mad Swirl, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Unlikely Stories.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Dungeon Music by Ezhno Martin

I've moved back into my mom's basement Samantha
it's a great place to drink beers
and piss in the empty cans

I'm sure I'm spilling on both ends
but there is a certain consistency to coming up short 
so I'd say there is a science to me burning up
cause I'm always left some portion of empty

there's this song I like to sing
it says “I don't deserve this”
and I got it on repeat
a 3 minute beer and still be ready for the refrain routine 
it'll probably take me years to figure out it's supposed to be sarcasm
right now I'm stuck on feeling sorry for myself
and doing everything in my power not to remember
all the chances I had to change

I got this new girlfriend I found on the internet
she's a sorry excuse for a human being 
and so am I
she carves “help”
into her chest right above her breast 
with the her dad's buck knife about once a week
the blossoming scar is an ugly unripe purple an inch deep
like a blister that won't pop
that's how I feel like you're living inside of me now
sometimes my mom catches me facefucking alcohol
and chases me out of the house screaming
I try not to listen but I think she's saying something about a future she'd hoped I'd want to have 
I'm trying to figure out where to go from here
       I'm still stuck in the same place I was when I ran away from you              in Chicago on a middle of the night greyhound
knowing I'd have to start a new life
and completely unprepared to contemplate how

The most sense I can make I've stolen from this new girlfriend
          she says that when she was 12 she used to invite pedophiles 
           to hang out outside her window
          hoping one would eventually lose their mind and break the glass
I go to the ghetto to walk around in the middle of the night
with the stink of suburbia on me like a bullseye
                    I show my pure white skin
                    more and more of it every time
     no one has taken the bait yet to rapture my blood
                   but I'm not ready for a better plan






Ezhno is a feral misshaped mass of broken dreams that doesn't believe in pronouns and would prefer to just be called “Ezhno.” This is equal parts ideology, loneliness, and the fact that it's been a while since anyone screamed “Ezhno” during sex. People just aren't as loud and adventurous as we think they used to be back when we were younger and better at everything. Ezhno is a freak who makes books for freaks via EMP Books, obsesses about a certain New York Basketball Team, and takes long urban hikes in the middle of the night. Ezhno has substituted god with a ghost who goes by Samantha, and the prayers for forgiveness have yet gone unanswered. Do not introduce your dog to Ezhno; they will be licking each-other's teeth, biting each-other's necks, pissing on your clothes, and stealing food off of your counter within five minutes.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Chaotic by Susan Isla Tepper

You rent us a room
red lamplight
splashing a ceiling mirror
making chaotic patterns
I’m forced to witness
while you
on top remain blind.

A little bit earlier
in a place
with a Linden Tree motif
elegantly we dined
surrounded by chirps
on China plates
the quail so thin
it felt obscene.

After the room
back in your crazy-huge
vintage Caddy
reeling from the wine
you apologized;
saying next time
would be different.






Susan Isla Tepper is a twenty years published writer in all genres. Her current project is an Off-Broadway Play on the subject of art and life.



Saturday, May 20, 2023

Rainy Day Woman By Jake St. John


I wash the floors
and wipe down surfaces

dishes dry
in sunlight

that falls splintered
through trees

empties into 
the kitchen

through morning's
open window

the backyard
features puddles

and small patches
of grass

where birds
hop and bathe

trees outline 
the perimeter

the laundry
rolls over on itself

children laugh
in the back room

no one 
comes to visit.



 



Jake St. John lives in the woods on the edge of the Salmon River. He is the author of several collections of poetry including Ring of Fog (Holy and Intoxicated Publications, 2022), Night Full of Diamonds (Whiskey City Press, 2021), and Lost City Highway (A Jabber Publication, 2019). He is the editor of Elephant and is considered an original member of the New London School of poetry. His poems have appeared in print and online journals around the world



Friday, May 19, 2023

Mimesis By Lauren Scharhag

my father used to say
to recreate the human form
is the pinnacle of art. 
i used to think 
he only said that 
because his father 
painted landscapes. 
that was before 
i knew of 
the human tendency 
to find faces in everything,
the scowl of tree bark, 
the silver-tongued rivers. 
the world holding us
in its mouth,
like Saturn 
about to bite down.





Lauren Scharhag is the author of fourteen books, including Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). Her work has appeared in over 100 literary venues around the world. Recent honors include the Seamus Burns Creative Writing Prize, two Best of the Net nominations, and acceptance into the 2021 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition. She lives in Kansas City, MO. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com


Thursday, May 18, 2023

Lightning Strikes By Keith Pearson

I am learning to drink left handed.

I like this bar. The game is on but the sound is off. The jukebox has plenty of stuff from the early 60s, Bobby Darin, Lou Christie. The stuff we grew up on. And the regulars know to leave me alone.

Except the guy next to me doesn’t know, and taps my cast with his beer bottle. Wha happen? You punch a wall or somethin?

I see the bartender flinch. Arthritis, I say. Had surgery last week.

He taps it again. You must be getting old! He’s got a big grin on his ugly face. Must be a bitch getting old!

Yeah, I say. Nothin’s easy.

The bartender interrupts, gets the guy’s attention with a story about a hooker and a priest.

I am learning to drink with my left hand. Im managing just fine.

Later after the guy has gone and the night is winding down the bartender brings me one last one and says, Sorry bout that guy. He didn’t mean nuthin.

He tapped my arm one more time…

I figured, said the bartender. Fuck, you’re as good with the left as the right. He’s lucky you didn’t rearrange his face.

Oh yeah, I can do everything but wipe my ass. Gettin along just fine with the left.

And the bartender takes the cue and grins and walks away.

The jukebox comes up. Hey! Lou Christie! Man, I love that stuff.

I can drink with my left hand just fine.




keith pearson was born and raised in new hampshire and works at a local high school in the math department.



Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Dear by Peter A. Witt

Took me two years of sad merlot nights
to launder the stain of our two glass marriage
from my file of grief, another two years
until a clear bottle of chablis didn't taste flat,
another two until I lost the craving for two inches
of sour whiskey when the sun washed faded clouds
with yellow dawn, one more until I dipped
my lusty tongue in the smooth of someone
else's sweet vermouth and cut into rags
my tee-shirt stained with long-ago merlot tears.





Peter A. Witt is a Texas Poet and a retired university professor. He also writes family history with a book about his aunt (Edith’s War) published by the Texas A&M Press. His poetry has been published on various sites including Verse-Virtual, Fleas on the Dog, Live Encounters, Inspired, The Rye Whiskey Review, Open Skies Quarterly, Active Muse, and New Verse News.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Suicide Scars By Brenton Booth


“Look at those marks on that girls

arms! I counted seven. She has tried 

to kill herself ‘seven times’ and she is

still just a teenager! There are people 

out there with bad health that would 

give anything to have her life. I have 

no respect for her. She is a complete

waste of life. A total loser!” he said. 

“Do you think I am a loser?” I said. 

“Of course not.” “Well, when I was 

her age the only difference between 

me and her was courage. I never could 

get the strength to break through my 

skin and veins, just sat for hours on 

more than seven occasions with a sharp 

knife pressed tight against my forearm. 

Knowing it was the only way,” I said. 

He went silent. What could he say? 

He was one of the lucky ones, that didn’t 

understand how bad things could actually 

get. 






Brenton Booth lives in Sydney, Australia. Poetry of his has appeared in New York Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, Chiron Review, Main Street Rag, Naugatuck River Review, Heavy Feather Review and Nerve Cowboy. He has two full length collections available from Epic Rites Press. brentonbooth.weebly.com





The Last Of His Kind by John Patrick Robbins

Saturday, June 3rd, the border of Mackay Island Wildlife Refuge.

Barbra Zelinski sat at the picnic table with her daughter, the blonde-haired toddler gleeful as ever, as she heard things crashing around inside the old trailer that sat tucked away beside the Mackay Island Wildlife Refuge.

Her daughter was lost in her own world as she sat upon the small blanket in the backyard.

"Goddammit, bitch! Can't you even keep a fucking six-pack in this stupid fridge!"

She heard Wayne yell out! 

Even the baby stared only in the direction of a full-grown man throwing a temper tantrum as Wayne Dixon often did. And as Barbra listened, she lit a cigarette, looked at her daughter, and smiled.

“You know honey; if only he were as passionate in bed as he was about his Nascar and his circle jerks and beer, maybe it would make it actually worth putting up with his spoiled man-child ass. Wayne, how about instead of rearranging my kitchen, you carry your entitled ass to the store and go grab some, then keep on truckin’ back home to your wife!”

Wayne opened the front door sticking his head out the door.

“Bitch, stop barking at me. How hard is it to have some damn basic comforts to keep me happy when I am here? Besides, I fix half the stuff in this rinky-dink candominium when I am here for free, so shut the fuck up!”

Barbra shot up, enraged, oblivious to her daughter and just about everything as the loudmouth occasional bed partner had hit a nerve.

"That's cause you break half the shit here, you fucking bastard! Besides, you would shit if I told my landlord and your father-in-law how half the crap got fixed being his son-in-law can't keep his motherfucking hands off other people's property or his first and only steady paying tenant, you son of bitch!"

And like that, it was on, as for some people, arguing seemed like an aphrodisiac. As equally, it was always the same scenario for these two part-time lovers and borderline full-time drunks.

As the fight inside the house was an overrated yelling match that would eventually turn into an excuse to take it to the bedroom for not-so-gentle hate fuck.

Barbra's daughter Toni awkwardly stood upon unstable legs as she viewed something in the tall grass that led into the quasi-vast nature reserve that was Mackay Island.

In the grass, the pack viewed the small child.

They knew crossing man’s borders was all but forbidden, but if the child stepped across that invisible threshold into theirs, wasn't it fair game?

The three coyotes fought the urge to pounce as the little child slowly edged toward them.

“We can't do this, Samuel, I know…”

“Mind your tongue before I rip it out along with your throat, Kane!”

The alpha coyote snapped, baring his fangs.

“Knock it off, you two!” Caleb snapped. “Look, that human child's almost within our grasp, and you're going to screw up our moment to feast over a pissing contest!”

Samuel turned his attention and knelt down as the small idiot child giggled as she babbled some gibberish.

“Hi, puppy.”

She said as at last she was so close they could smell that disgusting stench of soap humans so cherished that told of their arrival for what seemed like a mile ahead of their actual appearance.

“Puppy, puppy, puppy.”

The others busted out in laughter.

“She thinks you're a mongrel house pet, Samuel; aww, how cute. Maybe if you act nice, they will put a collar on you, give you a bowl with your name on it, and chain you to a wasp-infested dog house.”

Caleb said as the pack cracked up together as Samuel's hair bristled.

The little girl was at last within reach as suddenly Barbra, half-clothed, opened the door.

“Toni, sweetie, come back.”

Barbra said as she saw something standing at the edge of the woods. Fear shot through her heart as she screamed out.

The others saw the woman as the small child awkwardly turned. Caleb and Kane bolted, knowing all hell was surely about to break loose.

They all bolted except Samuel. He viewed the woman jump off the porch and run for her daughter as a disheveled man soon appeared behind her. He ran towards his truck in what Samuel could only assume was to fetch man's true best friend, a shotgun.

Samuel knew what he should do, but he had a desire to cross that forbidden border, and within him was the desire for revenge and an urge to feast upon the tenderness of young human flesh.

The woman's screams were deafening; the child slowly began to walk away as Samuel pounced, grabbing the child's shirt and a bit of flesh as she screamed out as he bolted into the woods.

Samuel heard the women's cries and the thunder of a gunshot, but nothing could match the beating of his heart within his chest as he flew faster than he had ever run before.

It seemed like a mile before he even considered slowing down as, at last, he met up with the others; as they looked at him In utter disbelief.

He dropped the crying child to the ground.

“Have you lost your mind! You've broken the law between us and them, you fucking fool!”

Kane snapped as Celeb just stared, dismayed at his friend's pure, undiluted stupidity.

Samuel struggled to catch his breath as he made his way to the marsh to drink.

“We are all good as dead, you fool! The only hope we have is to swim, and we will most likely drown trying to get off of this island. We have to leave her now!”

Samuel laughed as water ran from his jowls.

“Today, we paid man back for its ignorance in putting us in this cursed place. Do you know what I smelt in the air of men? I smelt fear as I took its youth, and it tasted exquisite.”

“You've lost it, Samuel! We have to go now; they will hunt us until extinction, so cut the bullshit. We have to go!” Kane snapped.

Samuel laughed at the fear within his fellow brothers.

“Oh yes, we are going to leave alright because we are going to have a feast upon the north point, and I am going to cherish this child's cries as I rip her limb from limb as I devour that ever so tender flesh.”

The others went dead silent, for they knew their brother had gone mad as at the mere suggestion of doing what he implied equally thrilled them as it shot fear through their spines.

Celeb looked at Samuel as finally he broke his silence.

“But that's his territory; you know what happened the last time we tried crossing his borders. I mean, look what he did to Gabriel.”

“And remember what I did to him! He has weakened in that time. We have grown stronger. For all we know, he could be dead. Either way, we will feast in his territory, and the humans, like idiots, will blame him, not us.”

Kane went to speak but was cut off as Celeb looked at him.

“He's right, brother; it's been many a moon since we've even heard him howl into the night we hurt him last time. Hell, Samuel almost had him; this child means nothing to us besides we deserve this after all they have put our kind through.”

Kane's words were pointless. He knew, much like in the madness of men, there truly was no reaching his brothers.
As the child's cries drowned out everything, soon they were off to cross yet another invisible border into the territory of Einar, the last of his kind.

The air itself seemed to have a heaviness as the coyotes tried to avoid sight and crossing of any roads. At last, they crossed the gate into his home.

They were the bastard sons, so to speak, coming home to a property they had no claim to, as the men of this island had killed largely everything that didn't suit them for the amusement of shooting their guns and watching things die.

And as the sun was near setting at last worn from the run, they arrived near his den, where they watched him kill Gabriel.

They all were exhausted as the child still cried for her mother.

“I will so enjoy shutting that disgusting brat up as I rip out her throat,” Samuel said.

“We should leave now. We've already outstayed our welcome and brought down enough trouble without encountering him.”

Kane nervously said, looking around, he could sense his presence, but you could only call out his wrath for so long before he made an appearance.

The pack heard a snap of a twig as, in unison, their ears together shot up.

As a raccoon took one look at the pack and quickly made its way back up a tree.

As Samuel burst out in laughter.

“You see, there is nothing to fear. He is dead. We are the only thing anyone should fear; we now rule this sanctuary, so let us bask in our spoils!”

Kane watched in fear and mock disgust at what he knew he himself was about to view and had no control over.

The small child tried to stand, her face red from crying as Samuel quickly knocked her down, standing upon her chest.
As opened his jaws as he prepared to wrap them around the toddler's throat.

Kane looked away as Celeb laughed, lost within Samuel's shared madness.
As all parties ignored the sound of the brush clearing as Einar, the enormous black wolf stood before them, a huge scar upon his face, his eye gone from their past skirmish.

But no matter his harsh appearance, he was still very much alive.

The growl seemed to vibrate the earth itself.

“I see your brother's death was not a suitable message, you foolish mongrel. You've now crossed my borders, and there must be blood spilt for your intrusion!”

Samuel took his jaws from the now in-hysterics child's throat as Einar bolted, knocking the coyote off the girl.

Samuel, amazed even now at his strength as the realization it would take the entire pack's effort to bring him down sunk in.

“Leave now!”

“And let you have the spoils of our hunt? You old fool, have you not forgotten who gave you that scar one-eye?”

“And have you not forgotten the screams of your brother you abandoned as I took his life, the brother far superior to yourself, you mongrel trash! Yes, he was tough, and I paid a hell of a price, but here I stand as he was food for the buzzards as one day maybe now I shall leave you just the same!”

“We can take him, Samuel; look, he is blind in one eye; he is weak. If we attack now, he doesn't stand a chance!”

The pack stood together as the child was pinned underneath Einar, sobbing.

The old wolf knew this would be a fight to his death, but he would not take that journey alone.

The mongrels had been brought here as so had his descendants years ago, but they were brought here in sport for the entitled fools to hunt, but his kin had escaped their sight; they believed they were gone. Einar was but a ghost that only the most skilled of hunters had ever caught a glimpse of.

And now, in the actions of these mongrel fools, they had endangered his peace by bringing this human child into his domain.

The standoff was interrupted by the sound of the human vehicles.

“You idiots, you don't even know what you've really done, do you?”

The pack knew they had to flee in the open; they didn't stand a chance against men and their four-wheelers with their guns.

“You're lucky for now, old fool. We're returning for that child; she's our kill, not yours.”

Samuel said. 

The others bolted at the sound of the vehicles approaching on the gravel road.

“You return, you die, simple as that!”

“See you soon, one-eye.”

Samuel said, laughing as he ran off with his band of mongrel coyote trash.

Einar stood, making sure they left as he looked at the small child, he knew he should leave her, but in dealing with the bastard trash in coyotes, this was not a wise choice.

But nothing in this current situation bore a bright ending. No matter the road, he bore down as Einar gently as possible, grabbed at the back of the child's clothes, and carried her off into his den that overlooked the sound.

Einar sat there as the child sniffled and lay there staring; maybe she was sick in the skull, he did not know. But she did alarm him when she stood. Humans upon two legs were always a threat no matter their size, as she sucked upon her thumb as she walked towards him.

He growled slightly, but she paid Einar no mind as she spoke.

“Puppy.”

Puppy? Einar thought to himself this putrid-smelling human child was clearly almost as big of an idiot as Samuel and the other coyote trash.

Einar, although against his better judgment, knew the young humankind could still, at that age, hear the words of the old voices as he looked deep into the child's eyes and spoke into her thoughts.

“Do you understand me? You must listen, you little fool.”

The child reached out, touching Einar's scar as he slightly bared his fangs, yet nothing seemed to deter this foolish child's intrusion into the old wolf's personal space.

Einar tried to speak to the child again.

“If you do not get away from me, you little fool, I will kill you myself, and stop touching me. I'm not a fucking dog, let alone a godforsaken puppy!”

The little blonde girl lit up in laughter, oblivious to the threat Einar did impose.

“Look, you idiot…”

The girl paused and spoke at last.

“Bitch.”

“What did you just say? You vile little human!”

“Bitch, bitch bitch bitch!”

The little girl excitedly said, laughing the entire time.

“Stop it, you idiot.”

“Bitch!”

How humans did not eat their young was beyond Einar.
Now he questioned why he did not allow Samuel and his pack to tear this annoying little foul-mouthed child to pieces.

“Bitch, Bitch!”

“Wow, and they question why humanity itself is upon the verge of extinction with such great blossoming minds as yourself. Don't you know any other words, child?”

The little girl looked at Einar again.

"Ahh Fuck!"

Einar was baffled at where the pack had found this cursing little buffoon. She continued to amuse herself by her spewing of vulgarities until she almost wore herself out as she laid against the old wolf, very much to his utter disdain.

The night quickly set in as Einar tried his best to mask the pain as the child's laying upon him caused him agony as the disease that grew within his stomach consumed him with every passing day.

As finally, she spoke within his thoughts as she looked within his eyes.

“What's your name?”

“Einar.”

“That's a silly name. Why did you save me?”

“I didn't; I hate humans as I hate you, child. I just don't want your kind destroying my home looking for you. Your cries disrupted my sleep. That's the only reason I came to your supposed recuse to shut you up.”

“My name’s Toni.”

“I'm enlightened by this revelation.” Einar replied as he could not bear the child's muttering stupidity anymore.

“Where are you going?”

“To find the mongrels to see if they still want you so I can have so, I can die peacefully without the torture that is your voice to annoy me.”

“Don't leave, please!”

The small child began to cry.

Einar ignored her as he began to walk away when the old wanderer did appear as he always did, seemingly out of nowhere.

“Hello, Einar, and who is your little friend?”

The old man said, walking past the wolf to pick up the little girl, who giggled happily.

“Hello, little baby!”

Einar was baffled at the old man's way with the child, but then again, the old fool was not like the men he viewed from a great distance; he could not track his comings and goings no matter how hard Einar tried.

As the old man tended to the child as well as any woman with ease as he kept her laughing as he made a bed for her from an old blanket he had in his pack as if with some odd magic, the small child was fast asleep.

As the old man motioned Einar to follow him down by the water as he sat silent for a great deal before speaking.

“You know, Einar, they have not left, and this is not your battle, my friend.”

“So what would you have had me do? Let the child of your kind be torn to pieces while I did nothing?”

“I did not say what they have done was right. You know there is no good end to this. They have brought upon themselves their own downfall as well as your own. They will erase you all, and you know it.”

Einar knew what the old man said was true, but it enraged him nonetheless, yet he kept it within.

“Where is her home?”

The old man said nothing.

“Where is her home? Don't make me ask again!”

“You know you cannot take her there between Samuel and his brothers to her people. You just cannot, Einar. I'm sorry, my old friend, but I cannot help you.”

“Goddamn, you old fool! I'm not asking the almighty to interfere; I am asking where I can return her, so tell me before!”

“Before what! You know the laws of nature, and you know there are borders your kind cannot cross. I do not rule humanity; I only watch it decay much like the cancer that eats you from within, so do not ask me about this insanity anymore.”

The old man snapped as he stood up.

Einar understood his old friend's concern, but he also knew there was no other option.

“Please, I know you get this more than anyone. I cannot fight whatever will be my friend. I can only help her. This is my choice; please respect it.”

The old man began to walk off but paused for a second.

“The old Carson home, that's where the child lives. Goodbye, Einar.”

And with that, the old man was gone.
As the winds blew gently through the trees as Einar felt the sting within his intestines as he howled into the night with a haunting sound that echoed across the reserve.

It was both a cry of pain and an odd war cry that the pack heard and fully understood.


What awaited them tomorrow was certain; the Gods of men would be satisfied in their bloodlust as Einar howled again. To let the earth know he did exist, if only in this moment.

That night he lay beside the little blonde child peacefully as she slept, unaware in the innocence that is the youth of all species alike.

As in the morning, he found Toni clinging to him.

“Wake up, you little pest; I'm taking you home.”

“Why?”

“Because the sound of your cries disturb my peace, and they will most likely kill off everything around, including myself, the longer I let you stay here, and your stench alone reveals a skunk, you turd.”


Toni busted up laughing.

“You're so silly; I love you, bitch.”

“Stop calling me that! Before I decide to go back on my word and leave you here to rot.”

“Okay, puppy.”

Einar knew it was pointless, so he simply gripped the child as best he could and began the journey. He knew once out in the open was the true danger, and much to his surprise, there was no sight of Samuel and his brothers.

The trip was agonizing in itself. As soon he was out of his territory and entering the pacts as he could smell their putrid stench everywhere. He took a small break as the route to the Carson estate took a path directly through their domain.

“Einar, why can't I walk?”

Toni asked.

“Because I'd like to get there before the first snowfall, and your inferior human legs will only slow us down.”

“I'm sorry, don't be mad at me, please.”

The girl said as tears began to stream down her face.

Einar couldn't afford her to go into a crying spell.

“Look, I'm sorry, okay, we have to be quiet now. I have to get you home, and this is not an easy task.”

The little girl clung to Einar.

“I don't want you to leave me. I want to stay with you.”

Einar knew the girl was simply a child, but he had to admit she was far more mentally deranged than he first expected.

“Toni, you are not my kind, you must be with your own, but I want you to know whenever you hear my howl upon the winds, I am always with you, okay?”

The little girl looked at him, tears running down her face.

“I like your scar.”

“Thank you, and for a human, your stench is far less putrid than the rest. Now can we go before I regret not eating you myself?”

“Can I ride you like a horse?”

Einar did not bother entertaining her question as he had already lost all his dignity. There was no need to be cruel.

Einar sensed the pack around him as he neared the field but still could not figure out what they were up to as, at last, they did appear as they stood between the edge of the woods and the overgrown field.

Samuel spoke.

“Thank you for returning our meal one-eye. Just drop her, and I will let you go. We don't have to do this. The past is what it is, you old fool.”


Einar gently put Toni down.

As he stepped in front of her.

“You idiots don't get it. I always keep my word, so I hope you plan on dying for this stupid bastard, no matter the outcome. We are dead from his actions.”

The pack said nothing, and this told Einar where they truly stood as he could smell Toni's people upon the wind. He knew nothing would stand between him and his destination.


The pack and Einar collided as Samuel fell underneath Einar’s weight as he tore into him. The searing pain met him as Caleb tore into his leg as Kane bit into the side of his face.

Einar felt the muscle tear from his leg as he screamed out. Toni viewed the savagery crying out as the old wolf was clearly outmatched as the coyote pulled at Einar’s leg, as the now-free Samuel joined the onslaught upon the downed wolf.

The pain was like fire as blood flowed from his nearly destroyed leg.

Einar knew he could not win this fight; his only chance was to flee.

His nails scratched at Kane's face catching his eye allowing him just enough space to latch down on Caleb's neck, who in turn released his death grip upon his back leg.

As he shook off the already injured Samuel.

Einar, dragging his bad leg, sunk his fangs into Toni as it was the only way to get ahold of her quickly; as she screamed out as he bolted out of the woods into the field; the Carson place was already in sight, as was the hunting party.

Einar knew the pack was upon him. But he was oblivious to everything, even the girl's cries as the woman he assumed to be Toni's mother screamed out, running to meet the wolf as a shotgun blast echoed into the air.

The pack fled as Einar paused, seeing the men in their hunting gear some distance from the woman as he dropped Toni.

Einar’s lungs felt as though they would explode; his leg was all but useless; the little girl reached for him as he nipped at her.

“I have to go; there is no other choice.”

The woman was almost upon Einar as he turned to limp away, trying as best he could to summon the strength to escape.

He heard Toni's cries as the man nearly knocked Barbra and her child over to line up the shot.

“What are you doing? Wayne, he gave her back; leave it alone.”

“Yeah, and that's a fucking wolf; it would have killed your baby had we not scared it off.”

Einar’s heart pounded as he neared the treeline as the shot sounded, as the slug tore into his spine as he flipped end over end.

As Einar lay there, unable to move, every breath became a struggle as he heard the footfalls of his killer approach.

The glee in the man's voice was sickening as he slowly approached the wolf.
He stepped down upon Einar’s already damaged leg as it snapped like a twig.

Einar screamed, bearing his fangs as the second blast released him from his agony as the raven flew overhead. 

And the strained heart of the last of his kind beat no more.

As the little girl’s screams mourned the wolf.
As foretold by Einar, the men soon would erase the coyotes from this small island.

The young child would grow into a beautiful woman and leave this scar of the past behind as she would move far into the mountains of Carolina.
But even though erased from thought some nights as she sat upon the back porch, drink in hand, looking off into the darkness, she would almost be brought to tears with a strange sense of comfort in hearing a lone wolf's howl.





JPR, is a southern gothic writer who's work has been published in. Svartedauden Zine, The Dope Fiend Daily,  Disturb The Universe, Piker  Press, Cotard,  It Takes All Kinds Literary Zine and Fixator Press.

His latest book is Are We Dead Yet? from Black Circle Publishing. 

Available through Amazon. 

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