Katters expected the house to be different, somehow, by the time they got back. Sucked into a hell dimension, maybe. Inexplicably replaced with several acres of untended cemetery. De-glamoured and revealed as the burnt husk it truly was. There would be a groundskeeper nearby, or a gas-station attendant, or a transient hobo. “That house?” he would say. “That house has been gone for forty years.”
But no such luck. The house was exactly as they’d left it — warm, inviting, nice in a way that made her scales itch — and she had no legitimate reason to not go back inside.
The second issue of Underbelly — a splatterpunk/horror fiction zine — was released today! It’s available right now, for free, as a PDF, and other formats (including physical) will be available soon.
You can read it here, but mind the genre. Content warnings apply — I haven’t read it, yet, but you can safely assume all manner of blood, sex, murder, and more.
Why am I talking about this here? Because I was hired to make the cover! That’s my art! That’s my terrifying penis monster! It was I, who decided that combining cyan and fuchsia was a good idea!
I’ll close this post by putting the cover under a cut, but go read the issue if it sounds like your cup of tea. I have it on good authority that the content is quality, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Content warnings: Torture, blood, sadomasochism, graphic violence, sexual themes, dubcon.
BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER or: NARCISSUS BECOMES THE MARIGOLD or: PUPPY-LOVE AND DOG-EAT-DOG or: ZEBRA’S MANY MISTAKES, THEIR COSTS, AND THE PAYMENTS THEREOF or: HOW I STOPPED WORRYING AND LEARNED TO LOVE THE KNIFE
There was something about Hyde that kept him on Zebra’s mind well after the whole body-swap nightmare was cleared up. Something about the way Hyde looked at him when Zebra asked after his business, something that said Hyde was a man who would fight back.
Zebra did like it when they fought back.
For weeks, he found himself in idle thought, thinking about doing pleasantly unpleasant things to the questionably British man. He had never thought about anybody for weeks, before. He had always been far too fickle for that.
But a month passed, and then two, and he was still thinking about Hyde. There was something about him, yes. Something about the way he carried himself, about the way he dressed, about his pale skin and long hair and serious, yet quietly amused demeanour. About the suspicious package he’d come into and left the shop with.
They were kindred spirits, Zebra knew. They belonged together. Together, until one of them destroyed the other. Continue reading →
A familiar face ran into him as he left the bar: Harry Wilhelm, on his way in.
“Mr. Rollins!” he said, too happy to see Zebra. His grin cut across his narrow face like an open wound, and the fangs his enthusiasm put on display combined with his red eyes and pointed ears to betray vampiric heritage. His carrot-like hair, kept short and neat under his fedora, betrayed something else in his blood. No proper vampire was ever a ginger.
He’d gotten a head start at home, or another bar, by the smell of him.
“What are you doing all the way out here in the city?” he asked.
“Looking for someone.”
“Ms. Jones?” His expression shifted to one of concern. “Is she alright?”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
Zebra waved him off. “Don’t be. It’ll be fine.”
“Can I help at all?”
“Do you know where she is?”
“Well, no, but—”
“Then I don’t know how you could help,” Zebra said, fishing his phone out of his pocket. Continue reading →
He was sure she had been there, but there weren’t any other people on the street aside from him, and there weren’t any doors nearby she could have slipped into. A brick wall stretched away from him in both directions, spotted with dark windows and unmarred by either door or alley.
Was it some kind of decoy? Had Sor known she was being followed?
Well, whatever it was, that was his only lead gone. He considered giving up and going home, but if he called for a rideshare now, he might get Kendrick again, and he wasn’t in the mood for another encounter with him just yet. He might even give Kendrick a one-star rating, prevent him from accepting any of Zebra’s requests ever again. And, as a bonus, that would damage his current five-star rating, which would be a small portion of the punishment Kendrick deserved for annoying him.
It was something to think about, anyway. At the very least, Kendrick wasn’t getting a tip for this particular ride. Continue reading →
At least, that’s what it felt like. A hot, sick feeling sat just below his ribs and spread like fire up his spine and into his throat. He hunched around the feeling. Held himself, fingers digging into his upper arms. His sinuses and his eyes burned, and he found himself trying not to cry.
Only, none of that was really his. It was Sor’s guts that felt too heavy, Sor’s sinuses that felt too raw. Her tears, too, in all likelihood. Blurring his vision. Sticking her eyelashes together.
And her magic, curling around his heart and dragging spindly legs over his lungs.
This was worse than any injury he’d ever had to endure. He had to have been bleeding internally. Ruptured something important. Developed spontaneous, stage-four magic-cancer.
Sor’s shop was closed, and locked, and there wasn’t a bell. Zebra did knock, but that only made the glass door rattle in a way that he knew would not carry well through the rest of the building — though, even a wooden door would have trouble announcing visitors to the fifth floor, or the sub-basement Zebra knew was lurking beneath the building.
He stalked around the front, not sure what he was looking for. Katters, maybe, passed out on Sor’s lawn like a drunken idiot. It had been a while since she’d last gone on a bender, perhaps she was due.
If Katters had dragged him out here because she’d been drinking more than she could handle, again, he was going to kill her. Continue reading →
It took Zebra a week to notice Katters was missing.
Well, no. He noticed immediately, or near enough. It was odd, that she didn’t come home that first night, that her bed remained empty clear through to the following morning. Odd that she skipped work the next day, and the day after, and the day after. Odd that she didn’t take her turns in the basement.
But it didn’t sink in that she was gone gone, not until a week had passed.
Zebra’s voice carried, sing-song, through the house, and Katters considered jumping out a window.
Zebra had been bored, lately, and he acted that frustration out in ways that usually ended poorly for her. Whatever he had cooking this time, she wanted no part of it — but before she could even leave the bed, he was at the door.
“There you are.”
“I’m reading.” She held her book up before obstinately settling herself against the headboard.
He walked into the room with the confidence of a pick-up artist on a bus and sat himself on the end of the bed. He had a plastic bag with him, and he let that hang between his knees.
They found a restaurant just inside of town. A family diner with an unfamiliar name and a full parking lot. Zebra went inside to wait for a table, leaving Katters standing by the car and smoking her fourth cigarette since they’d left the house.
She’d finally calmed down. Settled into a moody silence. But there was no telling how she’d react when they went back. Continue reading →