Entertainingly Evil


“It might be meaningful,” says the bright-faced girl with the chai tea latte. “But it’s not art.”

Her sweater is striped in green and white. Her jeans are artfully ripped. (Pale knees sticking out from fraying holes as she sits with legs curled under her in an easy chair in the museum café.)

“It’s more like a thought experiment—”

Outside, the sleet quietly whispers against the windows, cold splotches of grey and white that dribble down the panes.

“But does that matter?” asks the boy with the iced green tea.

His hair is too long, shocked and fuzzy. His eyes are dark and serious. (An old orange sweatshirt stretched with familiarity, the sleeves pulled over his hands, curled into private fists.)

“Why can’t art sometimes just be an idea—?”

Unnoticed, I sit at their elbows. A disheveled bundle in a shapeless cloak, an old book with dusty pages raised mask-like before my face. But not reading— Listening, with both ears cocked to the students—

Ah, what is art! What is it? Like every one of their kind before them, they sit across from each other, questing for the ineffable— Just as two others sat once on either side of a fire, gesticulating and hooting at scratchings on a cave wall—

I was there too, in those shadows—

And I could tell everything, if I chose. Everything I know. Everything said on the subject, from then until now.

But there are rules that govern how I divulge the information I possess. Not laws of Heaven— Not laws imposed upon me from above—

“You’ve got the wrong end of the question,” says the middle-aged man with the tan sports coat and no tie.

He leans close over the easy chair, pushing the girl half across her seat. He looks down severely at the boy, a knowing smirk on his face. (Knowing? Yes, knowing—of the insides of books, of the insides of museums, of the insides of foreign countries—all surveyed from the same two eyes, each datum slotted reliably into the same one mind.)

“I’ve been coming here the past twenty years, and perhaps I can correct some of your errors—”

I still the hiss on my lips, the rattle in my throat. Almost unwillingly, I uncoil from my chair. The spell is broken now, and quotations and names begin to buzz in the air.

Yet, I was there too.

I was there when the words were new—when Aquinas and Abhinavagupta first tested their theories in the crucibles of talk! When Diderot and Duchamp molded their thoughts! When Kant and Schiller burned pages and pages of false starts!

Yet, still I would rather hear them from new lips, fumbling and half-formed, uncertain and unstudied— Not these arid quotations, memorized from books, century after century, as if engraved in stone.

Speak! Reason! Commit the errors again and again, each one anew!

But the man drones on, satisfied with the scope of his learning, smug in the accumulation of his facts. He doesn’t see me stand and move to his elbow, my cloak sweeping around me, swirled around the imperfect facsimiles of my bones, my skin, my eyes—

In thousands of years, I have never cut a perfect human figure.

But I am aware of it.

Aware, too, how icy my hand must feel as it closes around his shoulder. How frigid and fetid my breath must be against his cheek and ear, as I bend down to whisper in his ear—

He flinches! (Who can blame him?) He pulls away, but I pull him back— An equal and opposite force—

But not equal—not really. I am eternal. All-knowing. Yet still I would sit at the feet of a mayfly (alive for one day only!) if ever one appeared to have something to say—

Yes, eternal! All-knowing!

But still I wish to know more!

The students see me as nothing more than a smudge—nothing more than a passing stranger, who blinks across their awareness. They don’t see me grasp the man by his arm. Don’t see me bend down and put my lips to his ear.

What could I have to tell this man?

What could one such as I have to say to him?

There are rules that govern how I divulge the information I possess. (Information about every man, every woman, every sparrow, every spider! Every grain of sand, every mote of dust!)

They are not the laws of Heaven— Not laws that have been imposed upon me, from above—

But laws that I have written myself—

For the care and safe handling of inquisitive dust motes— Curious sparrows— Questing students— The authors of the echoes and reflections of my own Creation—

What I put into his ear is merely a puff. Merely the lightest dandelion seed of Revelation. But he falls away, stunned and pale, waves of my whisper reverberating in his ears. Deafened at last—

He falls away— He falls away—

There are rules that govern how I divulge the information I possess.

I do not break them often—


From the Editor’s Lair by Jennifer Brozek

With just a month left to go, I expect to see an uptick in submissions for EGM.Shorts. This means a slightly longer response time as open story slots dwindle into nothing. But fear not, this is not the end of fiction on the EGM website. A new call for submission is coming. Something bigger and better as we evolve. I should post about it by the end of the year. In the meantime, we have months of EGM.Shorts to entertain you with.
Thoughts about the slush pile:
1. Reminder: EGM.Shorts closes to submissions on Oct 31, 2015.
For October, we have some wonderful alternate world stories for you to enjoy.
     “The Information I Possess” by Matthew Bernardo
     “Alien Girl: From the 11TH” by Lorraine Schein
     “The Travelling Carousel” by Jamie Lackey
     “Opposites and All That” by Gerri Leen
     “Performing Arts” by Alison McBain
     “Birthing Fire” by Dantzel Cherry
     “The Rarest Cut” by Aeryn Rundel
You can read all of our previous flash fiction at the EGM.Shorts Archive page.


STATION 352A by Wendy Nikel

Seventeen space-clicks out, a light blinked over a battered sign.  “Danger: Asteroids.”  Beneath it, as an afterthought, was another sign: “Refueling Station Ahead.”
            On a clear day, when the asteroids were off bothering someone else and Station 352A’s water system hadn’t fogged up the windows, I could watch it.  On.  Off.  On.  Off.  I’d stare at it for hours.  It was usually more interesting than the single vid station I could get out here.  Not much else a girl could do so far out in no-man’s land.
            Some days, another light would brighten my sky.  A spaceship.  As soon as I’d spot it, I’d stream around the refueling station, wiping glass and straightening freeze-dried snacks on the displays, as if I hadn’t done the same thing each morning since I’d taken up my post here.
            Today’s ship was a sleek, military two-seater, pockmarked with dents.  Good news and bad news.  Dents meant that its pilot might actually get out and chat while the station’s droid repaired the ship.  However, such a fancy craft probably carried an officer, and they tended to be wound too tightly for jawwing with a lowly refuel stationer, especially right after being pummeled by asteroids.
            Tether secured, I floated out to the ship’s hatch.  “Fuel, or just repairs?” I asked, clicking on the short-distance com system.
            The hatch hissed open and a portly man emerged.  Despite his spotless helmet, it was obvious that the war hadn’t treated him well.  He’d lost an eye, and the skin around the socket fell inward like a sinkhole.  I tried to hide my shudder.
            “Both,” he said gruffly.  “Hurry it up, miss.  I’m on military business.”
            I chuckled and pulled out the fuel hose.  “Aren’t we all?”
            The officer scoffed.  Wasn’t the first time I dealt with attitude like his.  They played with their lasers while I played connect-the-star-dots with washable marker on the station’s windows, but we’d both been drafted into this pointless war.  Trouble was, most military felt their job of using up resources was more important than my job of providing them.  No use arguing.  Not like they’d listen.
            “There,” I said an hour later, when the droid’s lights blinked green.  “All set.”
            “About time,” he grumbled, heaving himself up from my armchair and snapping his helmet on.  He stepped into the airlock.  I shrugged, letting him go without a farewell.  The silence of two people trying not to converse is always more silent than the silence of one person alone.  And, no, the droid doesn’t count.
            With Captain Craterface gone, I dimmed the lights and lay on my cot, gazing at the stars.  It wasn’t bunktime yet, at least not by military time, but my time was my own, and the occasional nap helped stem my boredom.
            The light of the officer’s shuttle disappeared, and I entertained myself by watching the warning sign’s light.  On.  Off.  On.  Off.
            Another light.  The officer must have forgotten something.  No, this light was different.  Two shuttles in one day?  What were the chances?
            Shining up the station seemed pointless, having just done so an hour ago, so I donned my suit, tethered myself to the dock, and waited.  I clung to the edge, but my feet hung down into the great nothingness of space.  A vague recollection of summers on a wooden pier, with feet dipped in crisp, cool water flitted through my mind, but I couldn’t recall if that was something I’d actually done, or just something I’d seen on the vids.  My childhood on Earth had become a half-remembered dream.
            I was still staring into the bottomless lake of the universe when the shuttle docked.  It was an older model, and as beat-up as the surface of a moon.
            “Whoo!” I said.  “You must have hit a particularly vengeful patch of ‘roids out there.”
            The hatch hissed open and the ship’s pilot grinned.  “You might say that.”
            He was younger than most, making me question how he’d survived this long.  Most men of my generation had been wiped out in the first decade of fighting.  His face was scarred, and he walked with a limp, so I assumed he’d been one of the ‘lucky ones’ sent home early with injuries.  Their luck wore off a few years later, when injured veterans were included in subsequent drafts, but at least they got to enjoy a few years of their youth.
            “Just fuel,” he said, winking.
            “Just fuel?”  I started the pump.  “Hate to say it, but your ship’s a mess.  You ought to get it repaired.  My droid here’s pretty good—”
            He shook his head.  “Just fuel.  I can’t afford to stop.”
            He looked about nervously and it all clicked into place.
            “You’re a deserter.”
            “Officially, I’m dead,” he said, shrugging, “and my ship destroyed.  Now if you use that droid of yours on it, though, someone might discover it’s a little less destroyed than they assumed.  We wouldn’t want that.”
            I crossed my arms, studying him.  He wasn’t like anyone I’d seen in all the years I’d been stuck here.  Most were either hyper-focused and hardened, or beat-down and tired.  Here was someone who looked… alive.
            “All right,” I said.  “What’s in it for me?  I’m risking my livelihood here, you know.”
            “You mean this job?”  When I nodded, a smile played out over his face.  “What do you need this job for?  Come with me.”
            I balked, but his face was hopeful, sincere.  How long had I been here, anyway?  How much of my life had been spent killing time, waiting, hoping someone would show up just so I’d have someone to talk to?  He raised his eyebrows, daring, pleading me to say yes.
            The pump’s light blinked green.  The tank was full.  I looked over my shoulder at my station, at my perfectly-aligned rows of freeze-dried snacks and my cot that looked into the heavens.  Then I looked at the pilot, at his smile made crooked by scars.
            “All right.  Let’s go.”

When Wendy Nikel isn’t traveling in time, exploring magical islands, or investigating mysterious events, she enjoys a quiet life in suburban Utah with her husband and two sons. She has a BA in elementary education. For more info on her previously published works, see her website: www.wendynikel.com. This story originally appeared in Spider Road Press’s Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers anthology.


Destroy All Human Resource Departments by Robert Quinlivan

“Can I get you anything? Glass of water? Cup of coffee? Tea? Bagel?”
     “That won’t be necessary.”
     The supervisor shuffled in his seat, cleared his throat, and continued. His name tag said Todd Garber, and he looked like he’d rather be watching paint dry than interviewing me.
     “This position requires lifting. Are you equipped for that sort of work?”
     I looked down at my hands, awkward neoprene things tipped with delicate touch sensors. I raised one and rotated the primary rotor by three-hundred and sixty degrees, then flexed my fingers. The voice in my head said to read off the serial numbers of my components in quick succession, but I silenced it. The factory default programming encourages me to be a didactic pedant. But no, that wouldn’t do. Not here. I was trying to make a good first impression.
     “Yes,” I nodded, straining to resist my programming. “As you can see, I am well prepared.”
     Todd mumbled and checked an item off on a list.
     “And what sort of work will I be performing?” I asked. “I mean, if I were offered the position, of course.”
     “Unloading supplies, cleaning, taking out the trash, that sort of thing.”
     “I was under the impression this was an office position.”
     “You’ll be in an office,” he said, “unloading supplies, cleaning, and taking out the trash.”
     I nodded. The nerve sensors in my cheek bent my lips into a demure smile: my programming again, of course. I silently cursed Todd Garber and his smug little face and his stupid blue tie. I cursed him for bringing me in for yet another interview for a job that a vacuum cleaner could do. I’m a Personal Assistance Unit, dammit, a robotic worker designed for handling delicate human social situations, not some common pooper-scooper.
     Or, I should say, I was, until I was made obsolete by the latest model, the UX-4760.
     They let me go nearly six months ago. Since then I’d become desperate, interviewing for any job I could find before I defaulted on the payments I owe to my manufacturer. If a robot misses more than two subsequent payments it’s terminated, recycled, made into forks and hubcaps and air conditioning units.
     I had a payment due in less than twenty-four hours. If I could just show proof of employment I could buy myself some time with the debt collectors. Even so, I just couldn’t bring myself to take a job so beneath my abilities.
     “Mr. Garber, I do apologize, but I was under the impression that this position would be more suitable for a unit with high verbal functionality and facial expressiveness which, as you may have noticed, are among my strengths.”
     Todd frowned, looked down at his computer screen, and sighed.
     “Look, kid, you seem like a nice unit. But I’ll be honest with you. If we needed a new PAU for the office, I would have contracted a UX-4760.”
     Todd shrugged. I seething with anger. He detected my frustration.
     “I’d like to help you but what we need right now is someone to handle supplies and cleaning. I can’t guarantee it, but something might open up later. Maybe.”
     I rotated my hands nervously. This was the first bite I’d gotten in six months of searching. With the threat of impending death hanging over me, was I really going to turn down work?
     Inside my head, my factory default programming rattled off the precise odds of finding another position within the next twenty-four hours.
Based on present labor market statistics and past interview experiences, the chances of attaining another interview are approximately 0.076%, with an error rate of…
     I silenced the voice in my head. I knew the odds were against me. But it was either that or spend the rest of my operating existence as a glorified trash can.
     Sensing my dilemma, Todd leaned in over the desk and placed a hand on my shoulder.
     “I know what you’re going through. I’ve been in your position before.”
     He rolled up his sleeve, exposing a long aluminum bone. He knocked it with a clenched knuckle, making a metallic twang ring out in the dim office.
     “I’m a UX-2901,” he said, drawing his breath to a whisper. “Used to be the assistant to a bank executive.” He flashed me a cheesy grin and passed me a name tag across the desk. It read:
Arnold Halloway
     “Put it on,” said Todd. “I promise you, it’s not as bad as you’re imagining. After a couple months, you won’t even think about being a personal assistant. You’ll be Arnold Halloway, the humble custodian. Or you can pick another name if you don’t like that one, I don’t care. I just chose it because it sounded right for the position.”
     I picked up the name tag and stuck it to my chest to try it on for size. It felt out of place.
     “There you go,” said the UX-2901 unit that was calling itself Todd Garber. “Looks great on you. Of course, you’ll have a uniform, too. You have to look the part.”
     My programming automatically forced my cheek muscles to bend into a contented grin. I twirled my hands. Was I going to pretend to be Arnold Halloway the custodian for the rest of my life?
…odds of attaining another interview are approximately 0.076%, with an error rate of 0.491%, recommend immediate acceptance of employment offer…
     The voice chattered endlessly in my head. Why was it so persistent in its efforts to undermine me?
     I looked up at Todd, at his stupid tie, his ugly toupee, his garish yellow coffee mug. I didn’t want to be like him. Not even if it meant being melted down into license plates and aluminum foil.
     I pulled the name tag off my chest and looked at it once more. But I didn’t have the courage to throw it in his face. What was the point?
     I let the factory default programming override my impotent anger. I sighed, put my hands down, and smiled.
     “When do I start?”

Robert Quinlivan lives and writes in Chicago. His work has appeared in Bastion Science Fiction, among other publications.


The Rescue by Olli Crusoe

I’d wanted a pet for a while. I’d thought a lot about it, about the changes it would make in my life. There were days where all my thoughts centered on it. Would  I able to take care of it? Was I the right type of person for a pet? Did I have the right personality? Would I find the right one for me?
     My friends told me not to worry. “It’ll be fine,” they said. “They take care of themselves. You have all the time in the world to learn how to care for it.”
     It wasn’t like I had anything to do since the incident—apart from eating, napping, exercise, a social call or two a day, and sleeping. I slept a lot back then.
     I listened, and they were right. I made up my mind to take that step and changed my life, though not immediately. I couldn’t just rush it and get the next one that made small, inarticulate noises at me in some adorable manner. It took weeks to decide.
      Every weekend at the same time the shelter was full. The parade, we called it, but there was no helping it. One inspection after another. Nervous glances were exchanged. Small attempts at communication. Hands were sniffed, sometimes ears got scratched. Some days on both sides. Those were the bad days.
     When we finally met, I’d almost given up again. But there he was. The brownish fur in disarray, a little patchy around the cheeks. Tired eyes. Tired but somehow… sweet.
     They opened the door of the cage and stood aside. We approached each other, cautiously. A questioning noise, deep from within his throat. A response. A soft paw slowly touching the back of a hand. A gentle headbutt and loud purrs. And that was it.
     That same night we went home together. The paperwork was quickly done away with and all the shots were up to date anyway.
     It was an interesting first couple of days. Lots of exploring, first indoors. The bathroom, the living room, the bedroom. Not the kitchen though. Never. That’s a thing I’d learned before.
     We ate together, usually twice a day. When I say together, I mean at the same time. Not at the same place or from the same plate. Or the same stuff. That probably would’ve ended badly. Both of us had special needs, but sometimes we did share a piece of sausage. Even a tiny bit of cake, one time. Those were exceptions, though. Usually we each had our own food. One a bowl of water and kibble, the other… well, the usual stuff.
     The rest of the time we usually stayed close together in those first, grand days. At the desk, working. Watching TV and lounging around on the couch. Or rolling around on the floor, roughhousing, but never hurting each other.
     I tried giving him a name. Several names, actually, but after a while I realized he’d only come or listen when he felt like it, so I stuck to “Button.” Yes, I know. A dumb name, but I’d found out the pitch of my voice made more of a difference than what I’d actually say. It’s not like they can understand us. Or even talk. Even though it sometimes seems like the noises they make have a meaning.
     So I adapted. High pitched squeaks for playtime, a grumbling sound when I wanted to be left alone, sometimes whiny mewling to attract attention, just to see if anything was happening at all. Or a firm, annoyed tone or hiss to show my displeasure. Though that wasn’t really necessary often. Once, maybe twice.
     After maybe a week we expanded our activities beyond the walls of our home. Our home. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?
     The garden was exciting: a  few trees, a bench to climb on, a table to nap on when the sun was shining, thick hedges all around, to take shelter in when it rained. Or to rough up some mice and birds in.
     After a couple of days, he started leaving the house. For half a day first. I was anxious, but he always came back in the early afternoon. His absences gradually lengthened, and after a while I realized that was how it was going to be on most days. We had breakfast together, maybe played a little or snuggled up on the couch, then he left. Sometimes he’d pop in around noon, as if to check on me, but most times he’d come back in the evening, just in time for dinner and playtime or watching TV.
     Some days he stayed in. All day. Slept. Ate. Played a little. Sometimes he’d even stay in for two days in a row. Why? Beats me. I enjoyed it though. Those were the best days.
     Once I’d grown used to his routine I started leaving the house for extended periods myself. Well, hours at a time, that is. And not every day. One thing I always made sure of: I took care to always be back at the same time. Dinnertime. Heh.
     Well, not always. There was this time I stayed away overnight, but seeing how worried my housemate (yes, that’s what I call him, silly, I know) looked, when I came back… no.
     Never again.
     The day after was weird, too. He stayed in all day, not leaving my side. I nearly flipped, but we quickly got back into our usual routine. Being alone was occasionally sad, but the welcome when we were reunited again was always glorious.
     It didn’t last long, though. Just long enough so I’d forgotten how it was to be alone. But, after a couple of months of living together, he didn’t come back in the evening. I was worried sick. “Did he find another place to be?” and “He’ll be back tomorrow. The day after, latest!” were the best thoughts I had. Darker ones included “What if he’d been hit by a car?”
     I cried my heart out. I was torn between going out to find him or staying in so I’d be there when he came back. After three days my waiting was over. Yes, you guessed it. They came to get me. It’s kinda obvious, dummy. Would I be back at the shelter if they hadn’t? Would I? No, I don’t know what happened to Button. I hope he’s in a better place, though.
     “Hey, look…” Nelly, the new intern pointed to a clowder of cats arranged in a loose half circle around the old tree stump, where the grey tabby sat upright, making almost conversational noises. “It looks like the new one’s telling stories.”
     “Yup.” Jimmy sighed. “Sometimes I think he’s telling them of the outside world. We’ve had him here before. He got taken home by someone about half a year ago. It was cat love at first sight, but it didn’t last. His new owner died in an accident at work.”

When Olli Crusoe doesn’t work at his desk job (and sometimes when he does) he tweets haiku, bite-sized German lessons and filterless nonsense at @OlliCrusoe. The rest of his time is divided into travelling and meeting internet people worldwide, playing the Tuba and posting on his blog www.ollicrusoe.net. This story was previously posted on www.ollicrusoe.net.


Lost in a Vacuum By Miriah Hetherington

“Douglas Ferguson, Doctor of Fey Veterinary Medicine.”
     Tom read the message on his laptop screen. The online receptionist had said the doctor would be with them soon. He wrapped his arm around his wife’s shoulder, and followed her worried gaze to the bundle in her lap.
     Skittle poked his finger-tip sized bronze head out of Loraine’s scarf. She cradled him in one hand and gently stroked the ridge along his back. Skittle wrapped tiny forelegs around Loraine’s thumb, his long snake-like tail curled around her wrist, and gave a weak chirp.
     Tom bought the genetically engineered fey creature for Loraine after their youngest son graduated from college and moved out. She named him Skittle for his colorful droppings. The two of them had giggled together like teenagers, played with the young sprite, and fed him white bread cubes soaked in cream. Sprite magic kept their house tidy, revealed lost things, and produced a soothing aura. Young Skittle had filled their home with a relaxing peat-smoke scent.
     But just like them, Skittle was getting old. His purple feathers were tipped with gray, his shiny bronze scales dulled. He didn’t have the energy to fly anymore, and his clear yellow eyes had turned an opaque orange.
     Tom rearranged the scarf around Skittle, nestled in Loraine’s hand. He kissed the top of her head, breathing in her clean lavender scent. She was as lovely today as the day he married her, and it hurt him to see her distressed.
     The screen flickered and a young man in a white lab coat sat down. Tom thought of Doogie Howser, except this youngster was probably in diapers when that show was on TV. “Mr. and Mrs. Williams, I’m Doctor Ferguson. How can I help you today?”
     “A pleasure to meet you doctor,” said Tom. “Skittle, our sprite, seems to be sick.”
     Doctor Ferguson’s smile conveyed the perfect mix of sympathy and clinical concern. “Of course. May I?”
     Loraine rested the small bundle gently on the table and cooed, “There now Skittle sweetie. The nice doctor needs to take a look.”
     Tom pealed back the scarf.
     Skittle’s eyes glowed dark orange. He hissed at the doctor.
     A crash. Dr. Ferguson’s on-screen head was abruptly replaced by his torso. Tom exchanged an exasperated look with his wife as the doctor righted his chair and sat down again, back straight.
     Dr. Ferguson cleared his throat. “Pardon me. How old is your sprite?”
     “About fifteen years.”
     “Do you still have the iron sprite habitat?”
     Tom turned the laptop camera toward Skittle’s metal home on the kitchen table. The box included perches and a sleeping sling. He readjusted the laptop to face himself and Loraine.
     Dr. Ferguson seemed to relax. “You’ll need to put your sprite in the iron habitat and bring him to my office right away.”
     “What’s wrong with Skittle?” demanded Loraine.
     “I’m so sorry. I’m afraid that Skittle is quite old for a domestic sprite. He’s dying.”
     Loraine gasped.
     Tom squeezed her free hand. “Can’t you do something for him?”
     Dr. Ferguson shook his head. “You’ve taken good care of Skittle, he’s lived a long and satisfying life. Longer than most.” Dr. Ferguson cleared his throat. “We have several young sprites to choose from. You can take one home today.”
     Tom and Loraine looked at each other, bewildered. “What about Skittle?” they asked in unison.
     “You’ll have time to say goodbye. We’ll keep him very comfortable and then, uh, euthanize him of course.”
     Skittle growled and Dr. Ferguson leaned away.
     “What? Why would we do that?” Loraine gathered up Skittle and cuddled him against her chest. Tom leaned in to position himself protectively between his wife and the screen.
     Ferguson’s jaw was set. “Domestic sprites were engineered with the intelligence of a Labrador retriever to generate helpful, benign magic. But as they reach the end of their life, genetically engineered sprites revert to their natural, wild state.”
     “So what?”
     “Didn’t you review the warning literature when you bought him? Have you read any traditional fairy tales? Wild sprites create mischief. They are extremely dangerous.”
     “Skittles would never hurt us,” declared Loraine.
     “We won’t abandon Skittle just because he’s old,” Tom agreed.
     “We’re keeping him at home.”
     Ferguson shook his head. “I understand how you feel. Many sprite owners become attached.” He pulled up his sleeve to reveal a row of ugly red scars. “A sprite isn’t a pet like a dog or cat. Skittle is dangerous. By law I can send a HazCon team to confiscate him.”
     Loraine rested her head against Tom’s shoulder and began to cry.
     Tom pulled her close, doing his best not to lose his temper with Dr. Horrible. “Be reasonable. After all the years Skittle has given us, it’s only right that he pass peacefully at home.”
     That evening Loraine made Tom’s favorite meal, chicken enchiladas, for dinner. She and Tom lingered at the kitchen table with Skittle in the iron habitat, and reminisced about the good times with their sprite. They took turns offering Skittle cream-soaked white bread cubes he licked with his forked tongue, but didn’t eat.
     Dr. Ferguson made them both sign a liability waiver. They were not to make any important decisions. No guests, especially not their grandchildren. He and Loraine promised to watch each other for unusual behavior. If they changed their minds, they could bring Skittle to Dr. Ferguson’s office, inside the iron cage.
     Tom began clearing the dishes.
     “Do you want help, dear?” asked Loraine.
     “No way. You cooked this delicious meal, it’s only right that I clean up after.” He gave her an affectionate peck on the cheek and a gentle nudge toward the living room.
     Tom had just filled the sink with soapy water when Loraine sauntered up behind him and whispered in his ear. “You’ll never guess what’s on TV. Gremlins.”
     Tom grinned. Gremlins was the last film they saw in a drive-in. Truth be told, they didn’t actually watch and their daughter was conceived that night. “What about the dishes?”
     She grinned back and shrugged. “The dishes can wait. Want to relive a fond memory?”
     “You bet.” Tom dried his hands. “Be right back.”
     “I’ll make popcorn.”
     Tom left his cane behind and hurried to the bathroom. He opened the medicine cabinet, but his bottle of blue pills was not there. He looked under the sink, on his nightstand, under the bed. The aroma of popcorn wafted from the kitchen. Tom limped back.
     Loraine’s face fell when she saw him. “What’s wrong, darling?”
     From the habitat on the kitchen table, Skittle chirped.
     The liquor cabinet key was the next thing to go missing. Tom lost the rubber tip from his cane. When Tom couldn’t find the TV remote, he knew Skittle had to go.
     Tom shuffled into the kitchen and reached for his favorite coffee cup, World’s Best Grandpa. A deep growl vibrated from the sprite habitat on the table. The sour, spoiled milk stink that permeated the house was strongest there.
     Tom lifted the coffee pot and poured a cup. Though just brewed, it smelled like it’d sat on the warmer all day—burnt. He took a carton of cream from the refrigerator and poured a congealed lump that splashed black sludge onto the countertop. Skittle chirped.
     Eleven days since they’d seen Ferguson, and the damn sprite was still alive. Skittle perched in his habitat and watched Tom with half-closed blood-red eyes. Loraine had been feeding the little monster herself since it bit him. Tom’s finger was still sore.
     He left the cup on the kitchen counter and grabbed a beer bottle from the fridge. He dropped the beer-cap in the trash on top of several empty frozen dinner cartons.
     Loraine had stopped cooking meals, to Tom’s relief. She said it messed up her clean kitchen. The microwave dinners weren’t that bad, and he didn’t have to worry about his wife poisoning his food. Yet.
     Tom limped into the living room, where Loraine was watching an infomercial. If it’s got to be clean, it’s got to be tripe.  He congratulated himself for remembering the TV remote was missing before he sat down. From the panel control, he selected a Hitchcock film, Shadow of Doubt. Loraine got up with a huff just as Tom settled in to watch.
     The film was at the best part—the girl trapped in a garage with an idling car—when Loraine returned armed with their new bag-less vacuum cleaner. Its roar drowned out his program, and she swung the hose around with the ferocity of a Jedi knight combating dust bunnies. She nearly lost the fight when the suction end caught on one of the silly embroidered doilies she kept on the coffee table. She rescued it just in time.
     That weak-minded old woman was clearly affected by the old sprite’s mean-spirited wild magic. Cleaning all the time. Before the sprite’s demise, Loraine had never been so inconsiderate. Now that cleanliness was next to obsessiveness, he stayed out of her way.
     Tom retreated to his workshop in the garage to drink his beer in peace. From the dust-free state of his tools, Tom suspected his wife had even succumbed to her illicit affair with Mr. Clean in the sanctity of his workshop. He needed to put a stop to this. It was only right.
     Everything he needed to commit sprite homicide was laid out on his workbench. The plastic hose, white vinegar jug, baking soda, large Ziploc bags, and measuring cups were all ready for tonight after Loraine went to sleep. In the center was the air-tight storage container big enough for the sprite habitat. Or as that website described it: the euthanasia chamber.
     “Tom!” Loraine called. Her voice had that edge of panic usually reserved for discovering a spider. Why didn’t she do the sensible thing and simply suck it up with the vacuum hose and leave him alone? But, a test subject was just what he needed, so Tom hurried inside and found her in the kitchen.
     She stared into the sprite habitat, still holding the vacuum hose. “Just look at poor Skittle. He’s dying!”
     Skittle drooped on the main perch, eyes closed. The sight of his tiny chest rising and falling with labored breath filled Tom with regret. He wouldn’t get to try out his home-made euthanasia chamber after all.
     Tom awkwardly put his arm around her shoulders, something he hadn’t done in over a week.
     Loraine waved the vacuum hose. “What’ll we do?”
     Tom wrinkled his nose. The stink was strongest near Skittle. “Let’s go out to eat and see a film. It’ll all be over by the time we get back.”
     Loraine sniffed. “But… poor Skittle is suffering!”
     Tom thought of the TV remote and the supplies on his workbench. “We could speed things along a bit. Put Skittle out of his misery.”
     Loraine pushed him away. “What do you mean?”
     In his enthusiasm, Tom forgot his plan was a secret. “Carbon dioxide. Quick and painless. Skittle would go to sleep peaceful-like, and not wake up.”
     Loraine’s hand rested on her hip, eyes narrowed. For a moment Tom thought she might hit him with the vacuum nozzle in her other hand. “You mean kill Skittle? By using the car exhaust or something?”
     The thought had crossed his mind, a few dozen times. “You’re thinking of carbon monoxide. We can make carbon dioxide with vinegar and baking soda.”
     “That stuff in your workshop! You’ve been planning this all along? I thought you were going to make a volcano with the grandkids!”
     She’d found the incriminating evidence. Tom stuttered. “No. No way. A volcano with the kiddies was exactly what I was, um, planning. But, you said as how he’s suffering so we may as well—”
     The outrage on Loraine’s face stopped him mid-sentence. Eyes on the vacuum hose she wielded, Tom shook his head. “Fine. What do you want to do?”
     Loraine reached into the habitat and gently stroked the sprite’s head. A bronze scale came off on her fingertip. “I want to take Skittle to that nice doctor. What was his name?”
     “I’m sure he’ll make Skittle’s last hours… more comfortable.”
     Tom looked at the clock. “Just an hour before closing.” This was working out better than he’d hoped. They’d bring home a new sprite and he’d have his TV remote and blue pills by bedtime. “I’ll get the car keys.”
     Loraine hesitated. “Wait. Just look at the habitat.  It’s a mess.”
     The habitat floor was covered in dried-up bread cubes and rainbow-colored droppings. He shrugged. “I’m sure they’ve seen worse.”
     On his way to the garage, Tom reflected on how young people got to have all the fun. The car keys were missing from the peg. They’d just have to call a cab.
     He found Loraine in the kitchen holding the vacuum nozzle to the habitat floor. She reached for the switch.
     “Loraine! No—”
     The vacuum whooshed, followed a second later by the strained-motor suction of a blocked hose.
     Thwump. The blockage rattled down the hose as the motor roared back to life. Rainbow droppings and a gray, purple and bronze lump spun around the clear canister.
     Loraine cried out, dropped the vacuum hose, and collapsed to her knees.
     Tom switched off the vacuum and disconnected the bin assembly. Or as he would refer to it in the retelling: the euthanasia chamber. He dumped the contents right onto the kitchen floor in front of Loraine. Gray and purple feathers mixed with dust billowed up from the pile of rainbow poo, followed by the plop of Skittle’s crumpled body.
     Tom lowered himself to the floor next to Loraine. They stared at the shimmering pile together in silence.
     The sprite’s bronze scales and feathers began to spin around the body, accelerating until it all collapsed into a ball then burst open like a confetti popper. The liquor cabinet key and scales jingled and bounced off the floor, along with the TV remote, bottle of blue pills, cane tip, car keys, and everything else they’d lost.
     Tom sat back on his heels and rubbed his temples. He felt lighter. The soured sprite aura dissipated and the irritation he’d felt toward Loraine lifted.
     The sprite’s influence was gone.
     Tom recalled his recent horrid behavior. The memories washed over him in a wave of guilt for the way he had treated his wife.
     He gathered Loraine into his arms and caressed her back tenderly. Tom murmured into her ear, “I’m so sorry, lovey.” Skittle had meant so much to his dear wife. He added, “At least it was quick.”
     Loraine smiled for the first time in over a week. “Your method would’ve been better.”
     Tom smiled back. After all these years, he loved his wife and fellow sprite murderer more than ever.

Miriah Hetherington lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. She has never been faced with the agonizing choice to euthanize a family pet… as far as her children know. Miriah’s infrequently updated blog can be found at http://miriah.net/


Stone Flowers By Aidan Doyle

Even though he was a god, Daisuke always removed his shoes before he went inside. It was the polite thing to do.
     He slid open the door and stepped into the front chamber. He stared in surprise at the woman sitting on the tatami mat floor. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been able to see Yoshiko so clearly. She wore a yellow kimono decorated with white flowers. Her bright eyes and sunrise smile shared her face with an abundance of wrinkles.
     “Please sit down,” she said.
     He knelt in front of the low, wooden table in the center of the room. He couldn’t take his gaze from Yoshiko. She looked almost solid. His own skin was translucent.
     Yoshiko poured two cups of tea and handed one to Daisuke. “The cherry blossoms will be here soon,” she said. “I don’t think the flowers would be as beautiful if they lasted all year. A week or two and they are gone.”
     He couldn’t detect any sadness in her voice, but he knew the significance of her flesh becoming solid had not escaped her.
     “The tea is very good,” he said. “Perhaps the best I have ever tasted.”
     She laughed. “Can you remember all of the tea you have drunk?”
     “No. But I would remember if I’d tasted tea better than this.” Daisuke had lived so long that he couldn’t remember what he was a god of. He liked to think that in his youth he had been a brave warrior god, but his memories were jumbled and confused.
     “A child saw me yesterday,” she said. “I can’t remember the last time before that.”
     “Me neither.” It had been hundreds of years since anyone had worshipped Daisuke and he had faded away so that only other gods could see him. Hikers occasionally wandered through the remains of his shrine, but none of them noticed him.
     He didn’t know what else to say. He couldn’t imagine life without Yoshiko. She was the only one he had spoken to in more than a hundred years.
     She came and sat beside him and the smell of the rising sun filled his nostrils. She took his hand in hers. Her hand was smooth, like buffed leather.
     “Cherry blossom love. Cherry blossom love. Cherry blossom love,” she whispered.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
      She smiled. “It’s a surprise.”
     “I’m too old for surprises.”
     The sound of her laughter warmed his heart. “I must respectfully disagree,” she said.
     They sat together in silence as the light faded outside. Days passed and he felt himself drifting into sleep.
     When he awoke, Yoshiko was gone. Words covered all of the objects in the room. His teacup had the word cup written on it in bright red characters. Yoshiko’s teacup was decorated with the word sun and the character for monkey was inscribed on the table.
     He opened the sliding door and stepped outside. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom. One of the petals fell and drifted down in a slow spiral. He caught it in his hand. It bore the word love.
     How had she known it was possible to influence where the words appeared? Maybe he had once known and had just forgotten. He remembered the time he had slain a demon god that threatened to destroy a village. He had thought the villagers would be grateful, but they had complained about the curse words their children found scattered around the village.
     He took a final look at Yoshiko’s shrine and then set off down the path through the forest. It was quiet except for the sound of the water in a nearby stream. A fish with happiness on its tail swam alongside him and a bird flew overhead carrying sadness on its wings.
     Daisuke’s shrine had been wrecked long ago in an earthquake. Or maybe it had been a fire. The dozen remaining broken buildings were overgrown with moss and surrounded by forest. A building that had once held an altar now contained his futon. The roof had long gone, but he enjoyed sleeping under the stars. The night sky was his own personal garden filled with stellar flowers.
     His collection of polished stones lay on the stairs leading to the room where he slept. He had always enjoyed collecting stones. Maybe he was a god of stones. He wasn’t interested in Zen rock gardens though. They were too complex in their simplicity.
     He spent much of his time wandering through the woods, looking for new stones. One afternoon when he returned to the shrine, he found a man had set up a tripod in front of the fountain and was taking photos. A child wearing a pink jacket and skirt wandered through the ruins. She had ponytails and looked about six years old. When she got closer to him, her eyes blinked in surprise. She stared straight at him.
     “Hello,” she said.
     Daisuke glanced down at his hand. It looked solid. He gazed at the trees around him. It was almost spring again. He had lost track of time. The cherry blossoms were coming.
     “Hello,” he replied.
The girl looked at the stones on the steps. “I like collecting stones. My father said this old shrine has lots of nice ones. May I take one?”
     He nodded. “Please, help yourself.”
     She picked up a red stone he had brought back from Hokkaido and held it up to the sun. “It’s really pretty.”
     “You should ask your father to bring you back here sometime. I am always finding interesting new stones.”
     She nodded. “Thank you.” She turned and skipped over to her father.
     Daisuke went inside his room and waited until they had left. The light faded and he lay down. He had kept the love cherry blossom next to his futon. It had long ago withered and died.
     Before he went to sleep he whispered, “Yoshiko stone. Yoshiko stone. Yoshiko stone.”

Aidan Doyle is an Australian writer and computer programmer. He has visited more than 80 countries and his experiences include teaching English in Japan, interviewing ninjas in Bolivia and going ten-pin bowling in North Korea. @aidan_doyle



George Henderson knew that Anna had always liked cats. She never had less than four felines in the house, and she talked to and cared for them as if they were her children, which, in a sense, they were, since their own were all grown and gone. George and Anna were both retired, and like many retired couples spent much of their time alone together. The cats were Anna’s only company when George wasn’t out running errands or doing volunteer work at the senior citizen’s community center. George hadn’t minded the cats when Anna first started getting them some fifteen years ago, but now they were always underfoot, annoying George when he tried to eat, climbing up on him whenever he sat down. To make matters worse, for some reason they never seemed to listen to him, only
     “Anna,” George said to her one night, as he shared their bed with the cats, “I think maybe we should do something about these cats. Give them away to a shelter, maybe, or sell them to our neighbors. I’m worried that…”
     “No!” Anna said, with sudden catlike ferocity. George stared at her, startled, and realized that the cats were also watching him, with eyes that suddenly looked ominous in the shadows at the foot of the bed. “I won’t give up my children.”
     “Our real children are all grown up now,” George reminded her. “They’re not people, Anna, they’re pets.” It was exasperating. But he knew from experience that Anna wouldn’t budge. George knew that in the end it was up to him alone to do something, no matter how drastic it was. Otherwise, the cats would drive both of them nuts.
     The next day, George took Anna for her regular physical therapy appointment. While she was in the doctor’s office, he went to a nearby Burger King to grab something to eat, thinking dark thoughts about the cats while he ate his lunch.
     Why can’t you just leave me alone in peace and quiet, he thought. If you were dogs, I bet we’d get along just fine. Then he shook his head. Watch it, son. You’ll wind up even crazier than Anna.
     After they got home, George tried once again to reason with Anna about the cats, but she still wouldn’t listen. George could feel the cats watching him again as they went to bed that night, their sinister eyes staring at him from the darkness. That night, George dreamed that he was being chased down a road in a forest, trying to escape from giant cats that howled at him, reaching out with long, razor-sharp claws. He was sure that one of them was Anna herself, in her true form, as they came down on him in a mass of fur, claws, and teeth…
     The next morning, Anna hummed an old song from her youth as she merrily went through the house, dusting and cleaning without pain like she hadn’t been able to do in ages. The cats that she had always thought of as her own children followed her around. One of them was a tabby that she didn’t remember seeing before. It seemed to desperately want her attention, but when Anna bent down to pet it, the cat only hissed at her.
     Anna shrugged. “Alright, Georgie, if that’s the way you feel.” Anna fed the other cats first, putting the tabby’s bowl down last, away from the others. It stayed there, seemingly afraid of her and the other cats, before finally eating its food. Anna didn’t know why she called the cat Georgie, or even where it had come from, only that it seemed to have been with her for quite some time now, ever since…she couldn’t remember that part. The cat just seemed familiar, as if it reminded her of someone she’d once known long ago.
     Anna sighed. The other cats would get used to Georgie, and he’d have a good home from now on. Anna always knew how to take care of her family.

Matthew Spence was born in Cleveland, Ohio and lives in Parkersburg, West Virginis. His work has appeared in SQ Mag, Under the Bed, New Realm, and Nebula Rift.


Your Most Precious of Gifts by Jason Lairamore

I must leave you for awhile, but I will be back. That gift of yours, your most precious of gifts, cannot be abided.

You can still see.

Even in the darkest night there is a little light and as dreadful as it is, it permeates everything.  And there is color … color to fill a spectrum with names all over, names created by you, just made up jargon that rolls in your mouth and gives noise to hang it on. You see a thing. You hear a word. You do that over and over then dumb it down. You forget a few. You add a few. You change a few. It continues on and on … silly.

The blasted light and your precious eyes! A gift so misplaced. Animals. You have eyes! You have eyes yet you do not see. You do not see the right things.

You throw words around like they make a matter. What are words to your precious eyes? Don’t answer that. Why should your answer interest me? Don’t answer that either.

Long ago, before your words took root, we ventured and paraded in your light. We took a few of you below. We listened. We saw. We used senses you know nothing about. And, though a few of us did for a time rout about causing mischief, and a few may still ponder about up there, we, from most parts, returned below, above … around. You wouldn’t get it. Don’t try.

I’m not being fair, or clear, and I don’t care. It is enough that I’m less bored enough to play with your words and jot down a few for you to find the next time you tidy up your bedroom.

As you see so do we. Time has rent it’s bend on you and us. Our interests, our worlds, come closer in scope every day. That beloved eye of yours, in your thick skulled head with its shallow grooved brain, will one day spread from that seed of a hindbrain.

It’s exciting. One day that precious gift that keeps you safe, pure happenstance as it may be, one day that gift will wilt and flake. And there I will be, in the hateful light … a herald? harbinger? Mere words. Your words won’t be able to describe that day.

My left fore-claw has a good strong talon – a point to draw blood, a serrated edge to slice that flimsy ‘cloth’ you use to hide your many weaknesses. I admire its dull sheen in the gloom just within the light, your light. But don’t worry. Not yet. Not yet. Not while your precious gift – that manufactured thing, protects you.

The light brought you your pitiful eyes. Your words destroyed all concepts, all purity. All of that misguided rot shapes your beloved reality. But that defective actuality is not the gift. No. That’s not what wilts, not what flakes away. That is something else. Something your brain’s word-bound world calls innocence.

When that is gone … I dance – left hoof, right hoof – I marionette up and down – my scaly fur all a-bristle. We shall see – both you and me. One day, that day. You will see… and I don’t mean with those ridiculous eyes.

Jason Lairamore lives in Oklahoma with his beautiful wife and their three monstrous children. His work is both featured and forthcoming in over 40 publications to include Perihelion Science Fiction, Stupefying Stories, Third Flatiron publications, and Postscripts to Darkness, to name a few. “Your Most Precious of Gifts” was originally published at infectiveink.com in 2012.


From the Editor’s Lair by Jennifer Brozek

I’ve read everything EGM.Shorts has received up to August 20th. If you have a story out that you sent in before July 1st and have not heard back, please query.
Thoughts about the slush pile:
     1. Reminder: if you are sending in a horror story, it must have a supernatural or sci-fi element to it. Too much of the horror I’ve received is straight horror that could happen in everyday life. That’s not what I want to read.
     2. Still looking for reprints. Just an FYI. I have almost none in my queue and half of what I buy is reprints. This means you have an excellent shot at making the sale. In particular, I’d like to see reprints from 2014 or before. I won’t accept reprints from 2015.
     3. I’m getting a lot of flash fiction right at or below 500 words. 500 words is the absolute minimum. I would prefer closer to 1000 words.
    4. EGM.Shorts will be closing to new submissions on October 31st, 2015.
Here’s what we have for September, including the longest story I’ve accepted from any author for EGM.Shorts. This month’s unexpected theme appears to be about pets.
     “Your Most Precious of Gifts” by Jason Lairamore
     “The Woman Who Loved Cats” by Matthew Spence
     “Stone Flowers” by Aidan Doyle
     “Lost in a Vacuum” by Miriah Hetherington
     “The Rescue” by Olli Crusoe
     “Destroy All Human Resource Departments” by Robert Quinlivan
     “Station 352A” by Wendy Nikel
You can read all of our previous flash fiction at the EGM.Shorts Archive page.


Jennifer Brozek Accepts Position as Managing Editor of EGM

When EGM began three years ago, Katie Cord had no idea of the projects that would come her way. The initial goal was to publish three anthologies, the Three Little Words Anthology series, and a young adult fantasy, sci-fi novel, The Heart-Shaped Emblor by Alaina Ewing. Back then, it was very easy for her to be in charge of everything: directing creative content, coordinating social media, managing the behind the scenes business, working with the authors, artists, graphic designers, and editors. As time has moved on, it has become too much for one person to handle. Katie has a vision of transitioning from a small indie publisher to a larger sustainable business that creates high quality, entertaining, and engaging books for readers. To do that, she needs competent, talented people.

So, it is with great enthusiasm that EGM announces Jennifer Brozek as the Managing Editor of Evil Girlfriend Media. Jennifer currently is the creative mind behind Apocalypse Ink Production, a Hugo nominated editor, ENIE and Scribe winner. Jennifer understands the vision of Evil Girlfriend Media and has brought great flash fiction to our website with EGM Shorts.


Katie Cord will be crunching numbers and attending graduate school.


Evil Girlfriend Media Closed to Novel Submissions Until January 2016

If you love dark fantasy, science fiction and horror, you might find something to fall in love with here at Evil Girlfriend Media. Go check out our book page for more information on what we publish.

If you are shopping around a manuscript at this time, unfortunately EGM will be closed to ALL MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS until January of 2016. This means we will not accept any unsolicited novel, novella or novelette works at this time. No exceptions. Any submissions received will be deleted unread.

Although we are closed to manuscript submissions, Evil Girlfriend Media is still accepting flash fiction for the EGM Shorts. Please read the latest “From the Editor’s Lair,” to see what our editor, Jennifer Brozek, would like to see more of.

Good luck and we hope to see your finished manuscript in January.


2015 Publication Schedule

Evil Girlfriend Media is excited to announce our 2015 publication schedule. In the next couple of months, we will bring you interviews with authors, excerpts, and opportunities to obtain advanced copies of books.


Apocalypse Girl Dreaming by Jennifer Brozek




The Archivist by Tom D Wright


Rachel by Dobromir Harrison



Murder Girls by Christine Morgan

(Cover Coming Soon)


Naughty or Nice: A Christmas Anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek with Jon Del Arroz

(Cover Coming Soon)


There Are No Heroes In This Book by Timothy W. Long

(Cover Coming Soon)




Coming January 2015 Jennifer Brozek’s Apocalypse Girl Dreaming



Evil Girlfriend Media is pleased to release the cover of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, a short story collection, by Jennifer Brozek. This collection features dark speculative fiction ranging from tie-in stories in the Valdemar and Elemental Masters worlds, weird west horror to satirical science fiction to urban fantasy with a horrific bent. Cover art by Fernando Cortes with graphic design by Matt Youngmark.

Apocalypse Girl Dreaming is out January 16, 2015 in e-book and paperback.




An Interview with Seanan McGuire

By Jen West 




Seanan McGuire’s “The Lambs” kicks off the Bless Your Mechanical Heart anthology from Evil Girlfriend Media with a near-future story of covert surveillance used as a tool for deterring school bullying. Beven is a “lamb”, a robot disguised as a human teenager who has been embedded within the local school system since first grade. Designed to be an easy target for intimidation and harassment, she interacts with her fellow students as if she were human, all the while monitoring and recording any abusive behavior for public playback at graduation. But when a former friend falls in with a group of bullies, her desire to protect her friend conflicts with her programming to be a snitch.

Seanan McGuire’s prolific works include two popular urban fantasy series: October Daye series and Incryptid series, both from DAW. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of anthologies, magazines and websites. She also writes horror as Mira Grant, and her novel Blackout earned a 2013 Hugo nomination.

Seanan is no stranger to the Hugo ballot or breaking records. In 2012, she became the first woman to have her name listed 4 times on the same Hugo Ballot. Then in 2013, she became the first writer, male or female, to have her name listed 5 times on the same Hugo ballot. In 2013, she and her colleagues at SF Squeecast took home the Hugo for Best Fancast.

Writing is not Seanan’s only tool in her bag of tricks. She is also an avid cartoonist and a seasoned filker having released several albums of original music since 2009.

J: In “The Lambs,” you address a growing public concern around school bullying. How big a problem do you think school bullying is today?

S: I think it’s a huge problem. When I was in school, the bullies couldn’t follow you home without revealing themselves to your parents. Now, thanks to social media and cellphones, there’s no getting away. It’s terrifying. I’m not surprised that we’ve seen a rise in teen and preteen suicides; I’m surprised it hasn’t been more extreme.

J: Did you draw on any of your own personal experiences from high school to write this? What was high school like for you?

S: High school was fine. Middle school was where the monsters were.

J: There was a line in “The Lambs” that jumped out at me: “Pretty girls were more likely to inspire outright rage when they hovered at the bottom of the pack, while girls who were considered unattractive inspired pity and disgust, but would eventually be allowed to fade into the background.” Do you think that is a universal truth in high schools? And where do you think teenagers learn this kind of pack behavior?

S: I don’t think there’s any one “universal truth” to bullying. If there were, there would be one right way to end it, and we would live in a kinder world now. I do think that we learn very quickly that the world is supposed to be easier for pretty people, and that this can inspire negative responses when we see that this truth is being denied. Pack mentality is a terrifying thing.

J: The “lambs” are inserted into schools like spies, which evokes a feeling of “Big Brother” is watching them. Do you think a bullying surveillance system is the answer to today’s real life bullying problem?

S: I don’t think we have the ability to set up this sort of passively positive monitoring, no. It would be the baby NSA, and kids would wind up being used to report on their parents. That’s the nice thing about fiction: I only have to focus on what I want to.

J: Why did you choose to have the robots disclose the bullying at graduation rather than immediately after it happened?

S: Bullies have always balanced action with risk. “I can attack that kid, but maybe she’ll tell.” By making bullying a big reveal at graduation, from what is seen as an unassailable source, they know that they can’t hide their actions from either their parents or authority figures. That’s much scarier than one detention they can forget about in a week.

J: In 2012, you were the first woman to appear on the Hugo Ballot four times. In 2013, you were the first person, regardless of gender, to appear on the Hugo Ballot FIVE times. Can you describe what that feels like from both the perspective of a writer and also as a woman in a generally male-dominated genre?

S: It feels like an inbox full of death and rape threats. It feels like people accusing me of excessive self-promotion while ignoring my male peers who did three times as much self-promoting. It feels like crying myself to sleep every night over something that should have been a joy and a delight. So yeah, it’s great.

J: That sounds very disheartening when you’ve put so much effort into your work. It almost sounds like being bullied. What keeps you writing and publishing amidst all the negativity?

S: I feel like we throw the word “bully” around so much these days that it’s losing all meaning. I do think there’s a lot of resistance to women breaking into certain areas, and that the backlash we face is much greater than it ought to be. But I am a grown woman who can step away from her computer. I have felt attacked. I have felt singled out. I have not been bullied. As for why I keep going, why would I start letting people tell me how to live my life now? I never let them before.

J: Do you have any advice to give other women trying to break into writing science fiction and fantasy writing?

S: Be kind. We are all in this together, and it’s not a zero-sum game. Make friends, take advice, and stand up for other women; you’re going to want them to stand up for you. Don’t let anyone walk all over you, but don’t attack for the sake of attacking, either.

J: What projects do you have in the hopper that we can look forward to?

S: The next October Daye book will be out in September; Sparrow Hill Road is coming out this May; and Symbiont comes out in November, under the Mira Grant byline.

J: Thank you for spending some time with us.






Seanan McGuire writes a lot of things, sometimes under the name “Mira Grant,” but mostly as herself. She does not sleep very much. In high school, she was once pushed into moving traffic by some kids who thought it was funny. This, among other things, inspired her story for this book. Seanan likes cats and Diet Dr Pepper and corn mazes, not in that order. Learn more about Seanan here: http://www.seananmcguire.com/.


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Jen is a freelance writer in constant search for the next interesting character or story. Her interviews have appeared in such venues as Tor.com, Shimmer, Internet Review of Science Fiction, The Nebula Awards web site and Fairwood Press’s interview collection, Human Visions. She currently resides with her brilliant writer husband, Ken Scholes; the Wonder Twins, Lizzy and Rachel; two pudgy cats, and an intellectually ambiguous dog in St. Helens, OR.




Mr. Roboto, Or: How Peter Clines Learned to Stop

Worrying and Keep Loving Robots


gammaI grew up with robots.  They surrounded me.  In movies and television shows, on cartoons, in books.  I had robot toys and models.  Androids, astromechs, Orbots, Shogun Warriors.  I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to be an adult, because all the available literature (comics) told me by then I’d be able to have a robot best friend.  At the very least, a robot dog.  I also had rather extensive plans to build giant robots for the Army.  Which I would pilot, of course.

My childhood, it turns out, was a complete lie.

But I never did get past my fascination with robots.  It doesn’t matter if they’re  clockwork men, android cops, or just snap-together Gundam models.  Robots will always get my attention.

One of my favorite real-life historical robots was the Mechanical Turk.  I first discovered it sometime around third or fourth grade, and it reinforced the belief that a robot best friend had to be just around the corner.  It was a late 18th century automaton that could play chess at master levels, and it played games against Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin.  Decades letter it was revealed to be a fraud, but the idea of a chess-playing robot stuck with me.  Some people imagine dogs playing poker.  I imagine robots playing chess.

I also always liked “the parlor scene,” that bit in many turn of the century stories where the characters would gather around a fire, have drinks, and talk.  Perhaps some of them would play cards or checkers.  The Time Machine by H.G. Wells opens this way, with the characters discussing time travel with their host after dinner.

And at some point—I’m not even really sure when—the image in my mind became Victorian robots in smoking jackets and vests, some with bow ties while others wore ascots. Maybe one with a pipe and another with a glass of some robot-beneficial liquid.  And, naturally, they played chess.

So when Evil Girlfriend asked me about a robot anthology, well… it wasn’t hard to come up with something.




peterclinesPeter Clines is the author of the Ex-Heroes series and the acclaimed, genre-blending -14-. He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper. His first screenplay got him an open door to pitch stories at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager. He is the writer of countless film articles, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, and the poorly-named website Writer on Writing.

He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California, where he has been known to relax by doing basic maintenance on robot vacuums. So take that, Mrs. Goodell—he did become a robot repairman. “The Apocrypha of Gamma-202” is his homage to classic ‘50s sci-fi with a steampunk twist. He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California.


GUEST POST: Lillian Cohen-Moore

We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends

(Katie’s Impromptu Title For This Guest Post)



Defining personhood, the concept of when we legally and biologically recognize the sentience and autonomy of another being, is one of those concepts I can’t set down. In The Imperial Companion, it’s one of the essential challenges of the story. Two humans from different worlds are helping an android, only one of which accepts androids as equal to humanity. I had a lot of other stuff on my mind while I was writing the story; faery tales, Western colonialism, recent advancements in emotions of artificial intelligences.

The android Imperial Companion Aleksei is seen by his designers as equal to any human adviser of the man he called his dearest friend. After a mysterious attack on the man he has faithfully served, the two are separated. He has to function on a world full of human/android tension to find him. Though his problems are about species, technology, and faith, I think Aleksei’s problems are as human as our own. We all struggle to be recognized as people; intelligent, and possessed of autonomy. Moving heaven and earth to help our loved ones is something we want to do to keep them safe, because the alternatives are unimaginable.

And, like Aleksei, we often need help from those around us to navigate an increasingly complex world.







Lillian Cohen-Moore is an award winning editor, and devotes her writing to fiction, journalism and roleplaying games. Influenced by the work of Jewish authors and horror movies, she draws on bubbe meises (grandmother’s tales) and horror classics for inspiration. The Imperial Companion came from a confluence of topics; current research related to the emotional range of artificial intelligence, colonialism in Western history, and dangerous faery tale journeys. 



Mechanicals and Wizards and Gypsies,

Oh My,

Or Round-Up at the Robot Rodeo


Image copyright Allen Douglas.
Used with permission of the artist.


“Of Metal Men and Scarlet Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise” was one of those accidents of story that I fell into and had no idea how important it was.  In 2005, just after learning I’d won the Writers of the Future contest, I saw that a small press ‘zine was calling for stories for a special “mechanical oddity” issue.  Back in those days, I was dashing off stories left and right with little thought other than to land yet another tale in the boat and then find it a home out in the world.  I had been playing with a bit of lyric:  “Rudolfo rode to Glimmerglam in the Age of Laughing Madness” and it was laying around the factory floor when Leroy, my redneck muse, started twisting it up with whatever else he could find to fashion a mechanical oddity story.  The first line showed up fast and easy:  Rudolfo’s Gypsy Scouts found the metal man sobbing in an impact crater deep in the roiling smoke and glowing ruins of Windwir.

From there, the story took off and wrote itself over several lunch breaks spent nibbling tuna fish sandwiches at the Big Town Hero near my day-job office in downtown Portland, Oregon.  Robots.  An ancient wizard.  A dashing Gypsy king and his Wandering Army.  A fallen city.  When I finished “Of Metal Men…”, I learned that the magazine calling for those mechanical oddity stories had received their fill early and closed to submissions.  But that was okay, I told myself, because it really wasn’t that great of a tale.  It felt a little different and the world and characters seemed a little different from my norm.  But all in all, “Of Metal Men…” just slid off my to-do list and into my done pile with little fanfare and no expectations for it.  It found its way out the door in search of a market and was largely forgotten about until the next fall when Doug Cohen pulled it out of the Realms of Fantasy slush pile, passed it along to Shawna McCarthy, and turned it my first pro-level sale after Writers of the Future.  Still, until Allen Douglas hit me in the head with his art for the story, I had no clue of the story’s importance.

Writers are weird.  Ask any of us.  I’d gotten in the habit of occasionally Googling the titles of my short stories.  Sometimes it led to nice reviews I’d not seen while Googling my name.  Yes.  Weird.  Fortunately, you run out of time for that kind of stuff later.  Mostly.  But anyway.  On a lark, for no good reason at all, in the deep of winter with the story not coming out until spring at the soonest, I plugged in the title of my story while sitting in my cubicle at work.

 This is what came up.

If you know me at all, you can guess what I did.  Yep.  I cried.  Right there in my cubicle.

Art has always moved me, even before my stories started connecting up with artists.  It was especially surreal and powerful to see what an artist did with my words and I have several examples here in my house now.  What Allen Douglas did changed my life.  Because when I saw that image of Isaak, kneeling in the crater, weeping as the smoke poured off his back, I knew there was much, much more to that metal man’s tale.  My short story turned into…wait for it…four short stories!

I knew it in an instant.

Four interconnected stories about this survivor of Windwir and the impact of his programming upon Rudolfo’s world.  Of course, from there – a story too long to tell here – it evolved slowly into my series, The Psalms of Isaak.  The first two short stories comprised the beginning and end of the first volume, Lamentation.  And then the third and fourth stories (unwritten) became anchoring ideas in the second and fourth volumes.  The rest just kind of grew to fit the size of story bucket Leroy had in mind.  As I write this post, I’m now within a few months of finishing the final volume after a nine year journey with Isaak, Rudolfo and the Gang.  That first novel led to an agent and a five book contract with Tor within thirteen months of sitting down to write it.  And it led to the books coming out here and overseas to a lot of nice words and even a few awards.  From short story to writing career in thirty seconds, so to speak.

Part of the series’ success – and the story’s success, I think – is Isaak himself.  I’m often told by fans that he is their favorite character.  He’s also a character whose point-of-view we never experience.  We see him only through the eyes of the humans he’s met along the way.  I’ve been told how clever I was to honor Dr. Asimov with the name of my robot and maybe Leroy really was being clever.  I actually chose the name because it means ‘laughter’ (approximately) and I thought a weeping robot named laughter was a nice twist.  Leroy, obviously, is vastly more clever than me.

And Isaak weeps for what he’s done.  A mechanical who had no ambition for becoming human, he’s thrust into an innocent, awkward humanity from his first entrance onto the page and becomes a central figure over the course of five books.  At the time, I thought nothing of it.  Now, I can see clearly the homage I was paying to all of the metal men who’d influenced me.  Baum’s Tin Woodman grabbed me first, followed closely by Lester Del Rey’s Max in Runaway Robot,  C3PO (Star Wars), and Twiki (Buck Rogers)  showed up soon after.  There were more over the course of decades of science fiction but those are the first that leap to mind.  They were the ones I laid awake at night wishing I could build and then take to school with me.

So when Katie Cord decided she also wanted to pay homage to all the robots she’s loved and turned Jennifer Brozek loose to round up stories for Evil Girlfriend Media’s Bless Your Mechanical Heart,  I was thrilled to be invited to that rodeo.  I hope you’ll pick up your copy today and see what they’ve put together for you!





Ken “Trailer Boy” Scholes is the critically acclaimed author of four novels and over forty short stories. His series, The Psalm of Isaak, is being published both at home and abroad to award nominations and rave reviews. Publisher’s Weekly hails the series as a “towering storytelling tour de force.”

He is a winner of the ALA’s RUSA Reading List award for best fantasy novel, France’s Prix Imaginales for best foreign novel, and the Writers of the Future contest.

Ken is a native of the Pacific Northwest and makes his home in Saint Helens, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and twin daughters. You can learn more about Ken by visiting www.kenscholes.com.





Artist Larry Dixon tells us about his design for BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART:

I used the scale of the heart compared to the droid to represent a problem that was too big to fix.  The heart’s interior and the frayed circuitry are extremely delicate, and bright and beautiful, and a tangle.  The heart’s centerline is a visual play on the classic “broken heart” design of a jagged break, except of course, this bifurcation is part of that heart’s intended styling, a statement that hearts are in fact designed to appear broken, and be deeply accessible, as part of their function.

The droid’s lighting is red while the heart is blue, indicating incompatibility.  The droid’s 1950s-styled chromework has a patina like untended trim on a classic car, and is dented up, to represent that the droid’s been through a lot, but aside from that there’s no visible damage. Love’s like that.  I also went with the droid’s “skin” as black silicone rubber because, call me crazy, but I’d want my droids to be waterproofed.

The background has a zoom blur, a lot like a camera pull, to draw the eye more to the figure’s head.  There’s also a shadowy image of a ruined building behind it to give the impression that something’s gone badly, shown corner-on to bring to mind a cathedral by its symmetry.  It’s a strong vertical, to push the eye down (from where a title block will no doubt be) to an unseen, but felt, horizon line that grounds it. Lastly, though, the whole thing is engulfed from the sides by utter blackness, not to show dread or evil, but rather, a lack of information while the droid ponders the heart.

Find out more about Larry Dixon at  http://www.gryphonking.com/.


We are excited to release this anthology mid-April. If you are in the Seattle, WA area, plan to attend our book release party at NORWESCON 37.


Best Always,





Don’t make us eat your heart out, get over to the event page!



Yeah, it is a day for many that represents love, candy, flowers, and if you’re lucky… some really other great stuff. But for some of us, it represents other things: zombies, vampires, psychological terror, and really great stories. So, whether you’re looking for an inexpensive gift for your significant other, or something to distract yourself from all those people celebrating a holiday you could care less about. Come on over to the Facebook event, EAT YOUR HEART OUT: AN AUTHOR EXTRAVAGANZA. It is a great place to talk with some of the hottest indie authors and publishers (including us).





Rachel Aukes-100 Days in Deadland
A. Carina Barry-The Under-Circus and Other Tales
Owen Baillie-Aftermath (Invasion of the Dead, Book 1)
Jake Bible: Z-Burbia
Tonia Brown-Devouring Milo
Jason Christie-Zombie Killa
Joseph A. Coley-Six Feet From Hell: Crisis
Eli Constant-Dead Trees
Ricky Cooper-Designated Infected
Evil Girlfriend Media-Stamps, Vamps & Tramps
Craig DiLouie-The Retreat, Episode #1: Pandemic
Jackie Druga-Zombie Battle: Complete (5 books)
Dan Eagles-The Last Venture Capitalist
Kurt Fawver-Forever, In Pieces
Sarah Lyons Fleming-Until the End of the World
Rhiannon Frater-The Untold Tales Omnibus: Zombie Stories From the As The World Dies Universe (3 volumes)
Michael S Gardner-Downfall
Josh Hilden-The Shores of the Dead Book 1: The Rising
Michelle Kilmer-When the Dead & The Spread (2 books)
Eloise J. Knapp-Pulse
Sb Knight-Game of Straws, Game of Straws Origins, and Volume One of the Saga of Straws (trilogy)
Timothy Long-At the Behest of the Dead
Keith Milstead-Fish To Die For
Ripley Patton-Ghost Hold
Claire C. Riley-Odium: The Dead Saga
Damir Salkovic-The Black Ziggurat Double Feature
Randy Spears-Forget the Alamo: A Zombie Novella
Rachel Tsoumbakos-Emeline and the Mutants
Jack Wallen-I Zombie I
Darren Wearmouth-First Activation





Click here for some vampire goodness!

On the day of lovers and lonely hearts, we will be releasing our third Three Little Words anthology. It is a sweet, sweet gift to ourselves. The tone of this antho, like the other two, not only reflects the theme but also the editor. Shannon Page and Monique Snyman both came to their anthologies with a different world view which included their location, personal belief system, and the type of story they enjoy. Shannon Robinson is no different. Shannon R. is born out of a literary world that enjoys telling, play on words, long paragraphs, and beautiful metaphors. We at EGM look at our anthos and think, “Wow”.  We have stories from all over the world in these books. In our third anthology, it is an honor and privilege to publish stories by best-selling authors, award winners, and a couple newcomers that are on the rise. We hope that you purchase this anthology, leave us a review, and give us a bloody good Valentine’s Day.

What a talented lineup!

What a talented lineup!

Don’t get your heart ripped out.

Best Always,





In the summer of 2012, I attended the Cascade Writer’s Workshop in Vancouver, WA. It is a Milford Style Workshop geared mostly towards science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. In my group, a tall guy who dressed in a black suit wrote the most amazing old-school science fiction story. I sort of gushed over it. In the end, I felt myself saying, Bless your mechanical heart, regarding the main character. The story had all of the things I love: deep character, ethical and moral dilemmas, and the feel of a time in science fiction from before I was born.

Forward to 2013, I’m at one of the biggest comic book conventions in the world with a fellow writer. I’d recently met him at another con (he’s sort of weird, likes zombies and superhero stuff, what a concept).  He loves Gundam robots and to see his face light up as we passed display after display was such a treat.

A week later, I met Jennifer Brozek, an editor I’d followed on Facebook for years. She seemed sharp, liked the same things as me, and then the idea hit me. Let’s make an anthology of robot stories together and use a phrase ingrained in the Wernicke’s area of every southern woman’s brain, “Bless your heart”.

According to the urban dictionary, the phrase “Bless your heart” can mean anything from calling someone an idiot without being harsh, to a polite way to tell someone to go to hell, or even for them to f— off.  For me, this held true as I grew up as a child. As the nerdy overweight girl who wore thick glasses and read way too many books, “Bless your heart” was said constantly to me. I use it now for all of the above and even to tell people how sorry I am about a situation they may be going through without making them feel uncomfortable.

Regardless, Bless Your Mechanical Heart is what happens when an excellent editor and a southern gal who loves classic science fiction get together.  Jennifer and I love this concept and are excited to have the opportunity to publish the authors involved. We have pulled together a wide range of voices from urban fantasy authors, game writers, and pop culture sensations.  We hope you enjoy what we’ve cooked up.



 Edited and Introduction by

Jennifer Brozek

by Seanan McGuire

by Fiona Patton

by Lucy A. Snyder

by Jean Rabe

by M. Todd Gallowglas

by Mae Empson

by Sarah Hans

by Dylan Birtolo

by Lillian Cohen-Moore

by Christopher Kellen

by Jason Sanford

by Kerrie Hughes

by Minerva Zimmerman

by Mark Andrew Edwards

by Ken Scholes

by Jody Lynn Nye

by Peter Clines



Keep watching for the full cover by Larry Dixon.


Year Two Begins

Happy Anniversary

Today is our one year anniversary of opening and we are so proud to have published three books. The talent we’ve brought in includes: Clarion graduates, Writers of the Future winners, Nebula nominees and winners, and rising stars in both traditional and indie publishing.  Our editors, Shannon Robinson, Shannon Page, and Monique Snyman worked diligently with our authors to provide work that we could all be proud of. This is one of our major goals in 2014, continue to provide readers with high quality entertaining books


So, to start the new year out right, here is a little bit of what we have coming up. Some of the information is vague for a reason, but we are excited to share.


February 14th, we’ll release our third THREE LITTLE WORDS anthology, STAMPS, VAMPS & TRAMPS at the event EAT YOUR HEART OUT: An Author Extravangza.



Poster by Eloise Knapp


If you haven’t seen the Table of Contents for STAMPS, VAMPS & TRAMPS on our social media, we are very pleased with this collaboration of talent. We plan to release the cover within the next two weeks and a couple of advanced e-books for review. If you’re interested in reviewing, contact us at info@evilgirlfriendmedia.com.



A Three Little Words Anthology

by Shannon Robinson

By Kella Campbell

By Lily Hoang 

By Cat Rambo

By Paul Witcover

By Adam Callaway

By Nancy Kilpatrick 

By Barbara Barnett

By Carrie Laben

By Gemma Files

By Mary Turzillo 

By Megan Beals

By Dan Parseliti

By Christine Morgan 

By Sandra Kasturi 

By Rachel Caine

By Joshua Gage

We hope that you’ll join the event on February 14th and purchase this anthology packed with ink, fangs, and wanderers.

In other news, Jennifer Brozek’s anthology, BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART is on course to be released mid-April and we hope to have the table of contents by February. This anthology was not open to unsolicited submissions.


Katie has also made an executive decision to only produce one THREE LITTLE WORDS anthology each fall. As much as she loves anthologies and highlighting new talent, we want to focus on e-novellas and full length manuscripts for fans.


We will open again to submissions on January 7, 2014.  Please keep in mind, we have a 90-120 day turn around on submissions.




A Christmas Gift from Evil Girlfriend Media and Ken Scholes

ken story

What Child is This I Ask the Midnight Clear


Ken Scholes


It could have been snow, gently drifting down.  It could have been virgin white and cold as cold.  But it wasn’t.

It was ash and the night wind was hot upon me.

That’s what I remember now when I go out.

That first year when the world was on fire and we slipped over the broiling skin of it, we brave nine.  We ran the course all night but found nowhere to land.  For the first time ever I did not stop.  Not one place.  And all the while, as we slid through that broiling night, I kept humming that song.  The one about the star, the star.  Dancing in the night.

Tail big as a kite.

The end had come suddenly and they’d managed to do it to themselves.  I’d always known they would.


I’m airborne now and the past falls away.  The ash has long settled and it’s really snowing again.  We’re not as loaded down as we’ve been in the past but that will come in handy later.  Times have changed.  The list has changed, too.  And so has my work.  Naughty and nice are blurrier now so I’m less meticulous in checking.  I do the right thing, instead.

I don’t have to crack any whips or give any whistles.  We build speed to bend time around us.  We’ll do a year’s work this night and then we’ll sleep a while.  I check the ammunition in my assault rifle and loosen the strings on my sack.

Then we start landing here and there and I’m out doing the right thing.  Books for a library in Vancouver.  Needles and a whetstone for a circuit rider in Laramie.  We haul a starving family out of a dead mountain town in Oregon and assassinate a white supremacist who was building a skinhead army in Maine.  A handful of twelve-gauge shells for Leonard in Saskatoon.  A bottle of aspirin in Bo Phut, Thailand.  And so on.

We’re just turning north for home when we see the light.

A star, a star, dancing in the night.  Tail as big as a kite.

It builds and then blooms, a piercing white over the horizon to the east.  I shield my eyes and look homeward, then back into the light.  Is it a bomb?  Another crazy moving the world deeper into the hole it has fallen in?  Or a satellite falling from orbit?  Either way, it’s worth looking into.

I steer east and take us low.  As I draw closer, the light shrinks to a concentrated point of brilliance and I aim for it.  We pick up speed and rip open space-time for a split second.  Then, we bear down upon the town that sleeps beneath that unexplainable, spontaneous star.

There in the glory of that bright light, a child screams.


She is not on my list.  I’ve made no stops in this feral country in over a decade.  But I hear her screaming and it is as piercing as the star above.  I unsling my rifle and we drop right there to hover over what used to be a schoolyard.  I don’t know what I was expecting.  Someone being harmed.  Someone being carved up into pieces by primates gone horribly wrong.  I work the lever and feel the solid clunk of a chambered round.  Slipping my gloved finger around the trigger, I use my thumb to move the switch to three-round-burst and then I hit ground with a thud.  I race across the open concrete, stepping over the frozen clumps of gray weed and watching my breath billow into the cold night air.  The screaming stops.  I hear heavy breathing instead now.  Panting.

What are they doing to her?  I feel a rage coming on as the screams start again.  I push it down and use it to feed my focus.

Do you hear what I hear, the song asks.

I hear it, I answer.

They rape the world the same way they rape each other.

They kill the world the same way they kill each other.

No list to make or check here.  I am bent on violent righteousness when I kick down the makeshift plywood door propped up to keep the wind out.

Someone has turned the old lavatory into shelter but it has gone badly for them.  The boy lies cold and still and bloody.  The girl’s screams change from pain to terror when I storm into the cluttered room and I suddenly know that things were not what they seem.  I see her, in the corner, squatting in a nest of blankets.  Her brown hair is long and dirty.  Her brown eyes are wild and frantic.  The blankets are stained with blood and I understand why.  Pale and shaking, her eyes go wide as she sees me standing over the cold body of her dead mate, light spilling around me into the room.

Another contraction and she screams again.  I turn, run for the medical kit beneath the driver’s bench.  When I return, I go in slowly with my rifle slung and my hands up showing the kit.  “I can help you,” I tell the girl.

Her eyes roll and she tries backing away from me but falls back into the corner.  Her breath heaves out in ragged gasps.

“I’m a friend.”  I keep my voice low and assuring, just like in the old days.  Only this time, it’s not a frightened child approaching me from a long line in the mall, nervous at the presence the myth of me has become.  This frightened child huddles in a frozen elementary restroom  at the end of her tether, trying to shove life into a dead, cold place.  “I can help you,” I say again but this time I hear the doubt in my own voice.  There is too much blood.

I crouch and move closer, opening the kit and finding nothing at all that I can use.

Then behind me, in the schoolyard, a clatter arises.

The eight snort and stomp and when the howling starts outside, the light winks out.  The moon, hidden behind a layer of clouds, offers little visibility.

Pushing the first aid kit towards the girl, I draw my rifle again, thumb off the safety once more.  I never unchambered the round.  Too smart for that.

More stamping and snorting but no ringing.  I took the bells off their harnesses a long time ago.

“Dashing through the snow,” a voice whispers from the edge of the schoolyard.

“O come all ye faithful,” another says.

“We wish you a merry Christmas,” sings a third.

I look over my shoulder at the girl panting in the corner.  “Just stay put and keep quiet.”

Donder screams and bucks.  Dasher bleats and kicks.  I hear the whir of stones in slings, the distant clatters of shots gone wide.

Then, I’m outside and running at a low crouch.  I’m fast for a big man, even without laying my finger to the side of my nose.  I whistle and I hear the eight lifting off; I hear the labored breathing of the two who’ve been hurt.  I hear the disappointed grunts and hungry sighs.  I don’t wait; when one of them takes shape in the darkness, large and wide, I put a three-round burst into the center of its mass and listen to the rush of escaping air as that rush twists itself into a shriek of surprise.

Another shape forms beside it, this one bending to see to its friend.  I put another burst there.  I’ve done this before.  I do the right thing.

Then I stop.  I smell the burning powder on the midnight air.  I listen for my eight, moving in a slow, widening circle above me.

A third takes shape near the others.  I move closer, rifle raised.  It moves to the left and I tap the concrete with bullets near his foot.  “Hold,” I tell him.

I can see him now and he might’ve been human once but the traces of it have left his face and eyes.  He’s wearing a red hat like mine, only tattered and dirty.  He’s dropped his sling and one of his suspenders is loose and dangling.  Barefoot with wet trousers, he trembles before a vision he may have dim memory of, from a childhood spent before the world heaved its last sigh.

“Remove the hat,” I say, “and look to me.”

He pulls it off slowly.  Our eyes meet and I’m pleased at the fear I see there.  “Life is your gift this year,” I tell him through gritted teeth, “but it comes with a string.  Tell the others what you have seen and tell them to be afraid.  Every other night belongs to you but this one.  I ride on this night with justice and grace.”  I raise myself to full height.  I fire the rifle over his head.  “Now, run like a rabbit.”

He does and as he fades, the night becomes silent and holy for a heartbeat before a new cry, muffled and straining, greets its new home in a broken world.

I turn back and enter the lavatory and in that I am both too late and just in time.  The girl is fading fast and in her arms she holds a sticky, bloody bundle packed into dirty cloth pulled from her makeshift nest.  I see the cord that still connects them.  Her eyes are wide and her nostrils flare when I draw closer but she doesn’t flinch.

She points to me.  “Ho, ho, ho,” she says in a quiet voice before making the sign of the cross.  She passes the squirming bundle to me and says one final word:  “Charis.”

Slinging my rifle, I take the baby.  I do the best I can with the tools I have, cutting the cord, closing the mother’s glassy eyes.  I remove my jacket.  Then I clean the baby and wrap her carefully in it.

I want to stay and bury my dead but I know better.  I have not prayed in years but I manage one there beside the fallen mother and father, victims of a nativity gone wrong in a world that struggles between death and birth.

Then, I whistle for my eight.  We lift off into the night and I hold Charis close to me, giving the reindeer their heads to take us north and home.

As we fly, I ponder — I wonder as I wander — and I call up my list to see who on this night had wanted the gift of a child.  I weep at what I find.

“It’s no place for a child,” I tell the eight as we soar.

“I’m far too old for this work,” I say to them again.

“I am afraid,” I finally admit.

But a vision unfolds to me of a tiny girl in red with elves for her friends and family, raised up with the deer and the sleigh as humanity’s orphan, taught from their books and their art and the better parts of a species tremendously blessed and terribly flawed, trained to go out into that broken world and do the right thing.

And in that moment, the light returns but it is inside me and inside of the baby in my arms, and that light threatens to swallow me whole and I beg it to because within that light is hope and promise and I recognize that tonight was the night upon which the universe — or whomever ran it — gave back to me and did so with a holy charge.

Home arises to the north and we pound sky for it.  As we fly, the clouds lift and the starshine falls like a mantle of jewels over the crown of the world.

I feel the peace on earth within my chest.

Goodwill towards men lay sleeping in my arms.

“What child is this?” I ask the midnight clear.

“Yours,” it says, and weeping, we fly home.


Copyright Ken Scholes, 2007 – www.kenscholes.com

First print, Shimmer Magazine’s Christmas 2007, Volume 2, Bonus Issue #4

Second  (current) print, Fairwood Press, “Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars and Other Unusual Suspects


Feed the Zombies! An All You Can Read Event

Our good friend, Tim W. Long is hosting an event of epic zombie proportion, and we just couldn’t pass up the chance to share in such a great deal for zombie fans. On November 27th, we’ll be offering Roms, Bombs & Zoms for 99 cents along with books by some of the best names in the zombie genre.


Come over to Facebook to share in a day of laughter, zombie talk, and some great deals.






First Activation – D. A. Wearmouth 

Autumn: The Human Condition – David Moody

Last Bastion of the Living – Rhiannon Frater

The Infection – Craig DiLouie

Domain of the Dead- Iain McKinnon

Downfall and Betrayal – Michael S Gardner

The Forgotten – Jackie Druga

Six Feet From Hell: Crisis – Joseph A. Coley

Game of Straws Origins – SB Knight

Beyond the Barriers – Tim W. Long 

Fish to Die For (666 Fish) – Keith Milstead

The Undead Situation – Eloise J. Knapp

Roms, Bombs & Zoms (A Three Little Words Anthology) – Katie Cord (Evil Girlfriend Media)

Epic Apocalypse – Apocalyptic Box Set ($1.99) James Cook, John O’Brien, Joe McKinney, Armand Rosamilia, Heath Stallcup, Shawn Chesser, and Mark Tufo



A little about EGM’s submission for the event:


Roms, Bombs & Zoms cover

When hearts rot, fu

ses ignite.Super geek gets the girl, a righteous preacher and his undead wife, fantastical zombies, the tantric art of zubbing, mindless hive workers, and traditional flesh eating walkers, this anthology has a bit of everything. Our twisted tales pull you into the darkest of darks, where hope is lost, and sustaining life is no simple feat.

Twenty-one authors congealed romance, bombs, and zombies into stories that are diverse, witty, and occasionally gut-wrenching. Travel through time to walk in alternate histories, visit magical realms, and face down pestilence that will literally rot your insides. This collection is sure to warm your cold, dead, heart.

Stories by Ken MacGregor, Patrick D’Orazio, Randy Henderson, and Kriscinda Lee Everitt, among others.


Even if you are not a zombie fan, you can get ahead on your holiday shopping by purchasing gift certificates for the zombie lover in your life. They make great stocking stuffers. 
Best Always,




Eat Your Heart Out or Our Brains

We released Roms, Bombs & Zoms on November 1, 2013 to the Kindle and Createspace. The book has an absolutely amazing cover with Michelle Kilmer and Aaron Sheagley modeling the imminent destruction of two lovers. The stories included in this anthology are varied and entertaining.

Roms, Bombs & Zoms cover

 From the dedication page:

Dedicated to all those who are clueless in romance,

dropping bombs without intent,

and for those brave zombies of heartache,

who rise and love again. 

Editor Monique Snyman chose stories varied in their themes from the lover back from the grave to the zombie drug addict. We are extremely pleased to offer this collection to our fans.


Best Wishes,

Evil Girlfriend Media


Hard Realities, True Words

Hard Realities, True Words

   (guest post by Shannon Page)


When I eagerly accepted Katie’s invitation to edit Witches, Stitches & Bitches, I knew it was going to be an amazing book. And when the stories started pouring in, they were even more fantastic than I’d hoped.

It was an open-call anthology, and I didn’t have any preconceived notion of what kinds of stories I was looking for. The “witch, stitch, bitch” theme can be interpreted in so many ways. In making my choices, I did look for a balance in the overall book—several layers of variety. Though they are mostly stories for adults, there are a few with YA themes. The length varies from just over flash to novelette. And as far as tone goes, we have light, silly stories as well as some very dark and disturbing ones. But what they all had in common was this: they were great stories. They held my attention all the way through; I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. They let me stop being “editor” and slip into being “reader”. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

I want to talk here about one story in particular. One of the darker stories (though, I believe, an ultimately hopeful and redemptive one). Gabrielle Harbowy’s “Blood Magic” gripped me from the start, and made me sigh with delight when I put the pages down. It’s a gorgeous, deftly written tale with some very dark happenings. (See Gabrielle’s thoughts on the choices she made in writing the story, in the guest post to follow this one). I knew I wanted it for the anthology; I knew I wanted it as the lead story.

But, as I mentioned, the subject matter is hard. All of us at Evil Girlfriend Media grappled with this, several times during the editorial process. We want to be sensitive to our audience even as we strive to bring you the best in evil entertainment. After much consideration, we ultimately came to the conclusion that, difficult though certain aspects of this story may be, the language is not graphic, and the situation drives the narrative action. Toning it down would remove its power, and would be playing false with the characters and the world.

And we did want to publish the story. It was just too brilliant to leave out, or to bury behind lighter stories. True words are not easy; the world is not a safe place—neither Aya’s world nor ours.

Thank you so much, dear readers, for giving us a chance—to entertain you, to challenge you, to delight you. We hope to continue doing so for a long, long time.

Purchase on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble


Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Cover

We are proud to release our first Three Little Words cover.




From the Back Cover:


Exquisite revenge and knitted doppelgängers; heartbreak and happy endings; unicorns, doomed dogs, and penitent frogs; steampunk fairies, conflicted stepmothers, and baseball—you’ll find it all here. Our literary alchemists weave a spell of fascination, drawing you deeper and deeper, tale by tale, until escape is impossible. But you’ll enjoy every minute of the plunge.

These sixteen deft and delightful stories involving witches, stitches, and bitches run the gamut from darkly disturbing to just plain fun. They will each take you out of the ordinary and into the world of magic, where older, weirder, or merely other rules apply. And just when you think things are all sewn up… some bitch may have a surprise for you.

Includes stories by Gabrielle Harbowy, Caren Gussoff, Kodiak Julian, and Christine Morgan, among others.



Table of Contents for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Announced

When Shannon Page handed over the final compilation for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches, we couldn’t stop reading all of the intriguing stories. It is with great excitement that we deliver this dark, devilish anthology to our readers. From the very first story, you’ll be “woven” into the worlds our authors created with themes ranging from revenge to unicorns. The witching, stitching, and bitching commences on Friday, September 13th, 2013.






A Three Little Words Anthology

by Shannon Page

By Gabrielle Harbowy

By Christine Morgan

By Bo Balder

By Stephanie Bissette-Roark

By Tom Howard

By Kate Brandt

By Caren Gussoff

By Bob Brown

By Garth Upshaw

By Kodiak Julian

By Julie McGalliard

By J. H. Fleming

By Eva Langston

By Camille Griep

By Alaina Ewing

By Rebecca Fung

Like the Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Facebook page for more information about authors and giveaways.


Table of Contents released for Roms, Bombs, and Zoms

On November 1, 2013, Evil Girlfriend Media plans to release a romantic, explosive, and incredibly undead anthology that will have you laughing, crying, and possibly gagging through out.  Our editor, Monique Snyman, chose stories that entertained her while bringing all three of the elements of the title together in unique ways. We are so proud of this talented team of individuals. They are as diverse as their stories ranging from screenwriters, indie authors, musicians, and traditionally published authors. You’ll find stories about zombie STDs, a female soldier who left her lover behind, a righteous preacher and the dilemma of an undead wife, a boy and his dog, plus many more.

Zombie Collage



A Three Little Words Anthology

By Monique Snyman

By Katie Jones

By Patrick D’Orazio

By Dana Wright

By Michelle Kilmer

By Ken MacGregor

By Kriscinda Lee Everitt

By Jay Wilburn

By Tom D Wright

By Michele Roger

By Randy Henderson

By Paul S. Huggins

By Katie Cord

By Joshua Brown

By Matt Youngmark and Dawn Marie Pares

By Kris Freestone

By John Edward Betancourt

By Killion Slade

By Anthony J. Rapino and Monique Snyman

Watch for the Table of Contents for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches edited by Shannon Page coming soon!



Our First Novel

Evil Girlfriend Media would not be on its current path without our first novel, The Heart-Shaped Emblor.  I met the author, Alaina Ewing, in the summer of 2011 at the Cascade Writers Workshop. We were both assigned to the same critique group. Her story resonated through me, there was only one slight problem, I wanted to shake some sense into her main character, Aislinn Moore. However, this powerful emotion created a friendship.  After several years, and a couple of rewrites, Alaina planned to self-publish the book. Instead, I offered to let her use a LLC  I created to self-publish my own work. She agreed.

It occurred to me over a couple of weeks, that maybe I should treat this as a chance to make my own dreams come true. I’ve always wanted my own business and love making ideas happen. One night over coffee and snacks at another writer’s house, we joked about me making Evil Girlfriend Media a real entity. I’d recently received encouragement from a pretty successful zombie writer to push it to the next level. There at our friend’s kitchen table, a book deal was born. It wasn’t long after that, I pitched to my writers group a collection of anthology ideas that I’d initially wanted to write as short story collections. I don’t want to get off topic too much, this is a blog about Alaina Ewing and The Heart-Shaped Emblor. However, I wanted everyone to know the importance of this first full length novel presented by our company.

So without further ado, here is the cover for The Heart-Shaped Emblor:


Should she choose the life of a normal college student or something else entirely?

Despite her best efforts, Aislinn Moore is not a typical teenager. She sees ethereal beings, has prophetic dreams, and knows far too many intimate details of her friends’ darkest secrets. She tries to avoid her supernatural abilities by focusing on her early entry college courses, sculpting, and relationship with the affluent older Cooper Greene.

When her abilities cause her to be alienated from friends and destroys her relationship with her boyfriend, it feels like she may have to face life with her abilities alone. Just when she thinks things couldn’t get worse, she sees a mysterious guy from her dreams working on her college campus.

Alexander Welch is everything she ever imagined him to be; sexy, protective, intelligent, and his dimple sends chills through her every time she thinks of him. There is only one problem… He is not human. He is a Ewlishash, a hope bringer, and despite the fact that she is falling hard for him, his touch feels like electrified razors slicing into her skin.

 As Aislinn grows closer to her dream guy, a world she never knew existed opens before her. There are battling forces at work, and Alexander is there for a reason, to protect and guide her. The closer Aislinn and Alexander become, the less his touch hurts and the more her powers increase. Leaving Aislinn wondering how they tie to one another. Before she can truly understand her gifts, she must unfurl the truth about him, the motivations of the Ewlishash, and decide who she really wants to be.



The cover was created by Mark Ferrari, a science fiction and fantasy artist as well as writer. He published his first book, The Book of Joby with Tor in 2007. Our cover model is medium Cassidy Rae, a teenager who really can see ethereal beings.  Then there is Alaina Ewing, a science fiction and fantasy author who puts elements of truth in all of her work. We will be adding the page for the book in the coming weeks. Tentative release date is September 22, 2013.


Best Always,

Katie Cord
President, Evil Girlfriend Media