Marasmus

An essay by Marasmus, as provided by Damien Krsteski
Art by Errow Collins


On the beach, squinting at the setting sun, was when the thought of murdering Rashid first crossed your mind. The waves rolled in while you did the math and realized that the time was ripe to take over the poor guy’s share of the company.

It’s not like you knew right then and there, your feet flapping in the surf, that you’d end up bashing his brains in on a Monday afternoon in his office, but you knew you had to start thinking about it.

You. Not me, as you had me believe for so long.

No, no, you sicko, I come into this much later.

~

My first inkling of the kind of person you are comes from a childhood memory of yours.

You were eleven. Your old man caught you jacking off into his girlfriend’s stockings. He gave you a prompt beating, then chased you out of the house, saying, “Don’t even think about coming back, you perv.”

You went out the door and sat on the front steps, red-faced and grumbling, and when your dad’s girlfriend showed up three hours later, kneeled and asked you, “What’s the matter, dear?” you pursed your lips, made your eyes well up with fake tears, and said your father had been very mean.

She wanted to know what had happened.

You pretended to hesitate. “I’m scared,” you said.

When she promised to protect you, you told her he’d strangled you, for no reason, no reason whatsoever. “Here, see,” you said, showing her the bruises. Fuming, she stood up and stormed into the house.

She yelled at your old man, fought with him, then left and never came back.

He beat you for a whole week, but every victory comes at a price, doesn’t it?

Marasmus

On the beach, squinting at the setting sun, was when the thought of murdering Rashid first crossed your mind. The waves rolled in while you did the math and realized that the time was ripe to take over the poor guy’s share of the company.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2016 collection.


Marasmus is software. Marasmus is hungry. Marasmus is growing, and feeling guilty, and angry.


Damien Krsteski writes SF and develops software. His stories have appeared in Plasma Frequency Magazine, Flapperhouse, The Colored Lens, Perihelion SF, Bastion, Kzine, Mad Scientist Journal, and others. He lives and works in Skopje, Macedonia. Online, he can be found at http://monochromewish.blogspot.com and @monochromewish.


Errow is a comic artist and illustrator focused on narrative work themed around worlds not quite like our own. She spends her time working with her partner on The Kinsey House webcomic and developing other comic projects when she’s not playing tag with her bear of a cat. More of her work can be found at errowcollins.wix.com/portfolio.


“Marasmus” is © 2016 Damien Krsteski
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Errow Collins

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Table o’ Contents for Fitting In!

Fitting In KickstarterOver the last few days we’ve sent out contracts for every story we’ve accepted for our upcoming anthology, Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures. Now that we have them all back, we feel comfortable sharing the TOC with you. The following list is in alphabetical order by last name. The final order in the anthology will be determined as we get closer to laying out the book.

  • “An Absolute Amount of Sadness” – Ali Abbas
  • “Getting Lost in Milan” – Marina Belli
  • “To Come and Go” – Jimmy Bernard
  • “The Hidden History of Seneca Lee” – Elisa A. Bonnin
  • “When the Tide Turns” – Maureen Bowden
  • “Playing the Good Girl” – Darin Bush
  • “Elizabeth Frank’s Decaying Orbit” – Garrett Croker
  • “Righteous Anger” – Cindy Gunnin
  • “Nobody Was Here” – Jordan Davies
  • “A Vampire in the Garden” – Laura Duerr
  • “The Children of Echidna” – Amelia Fisher
  • “Testing the Water” – Sean Frost
  • Animale, Piece by Piece” – Mathew Allan Garcia
  • “Lead and Follow” – Rhiannon Held
  • “The Outsider” – Valjeanne Jeffers
  • “Home by Halloween” – Michael Jones
  • “Someone’s Checking You Out Right Now!” – S. Qiouyi Lu
  • “Snake Dance” – John McColley
  • “Cataclysm Child” – Ville Meriläinen
  • “A Time for Quiet” – Timothy Nakayama
  • “Who’s a Girl Got to Drown to Get a Drink Around Here?” – Adam Petrash
  • “Old Country Wolf” – Jennifer R. Povey
  • “Hellspawn Seeking Female” – Darren Ridgley
  • “The Face on the Wall, and the Chainsaw” – Erin Sneath
  • “The Woman from Kisthene” – J. C. Stearns
  • “A Good Head on His Shoulders” – Stuart Webb
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That Man Behind the Curtain: February 2016 and March 2016

Laziest Attempted Murder Ever

A glimpse at our cats lazily attempting to murder one another.

We’re still playing catch-up after Europe and, now, reading through slush for our next big anthology. So we’re combining February and March.

The Money Aspect

Amounts in parentheses are losses/expenses.

February
Hosting: ($17.06)
Stories: ($230.00)
Art: ($197.83)
Advertising: ($45.91)
Processing Fees: ($21.24)
Conventions: ($30.00)
Donations: $32.71
Ad Revenue: $1.03
Physical Book Sales: $69.00
Online Book Sales: $104.80
Total: ($334.51)
QTD: ($854.20)
YTD: ($854.20)
All Time: ($14,998.23)

March
Hosting: ($17.06)
Stories: ($60.00)
Art: ($564.88)
Advertising: ($20.00)
Processing Fees: ($629.16)
Printing: ($281.76)
Donations: $40.71
Ad Revenue: $0.82
Kickstarter: $5,437.00
Physical Book Sales: $116.00
Online Book Sales: $40.71
Total: $4,087.81
QTD: $3,233.61
YTD: $3,233.61
All Time: ($10,910.42)

As per usual, I try to list costs for art and stories under the month that the stories run on the site rather than when I pay them. (This does not apply to special content which does not have a specific month associated with it.) Sales are for sales when they take place, not when it’s actually paid out to me. I also cover Paypal expenses when paying authors and artists as best I can. Paypal has made it more difficult, so I’m not as capable of covering international fees.

The amount for the Kickstarter represents both the money raised through the Kickstarter proper, as well as funds added on in Backerkit.

Submissions

We opened to submissions to Fitting In on February 20th, and closed on March 31st. In that time we received 105 submissions, of which we accepted 26 for the anthology. There were four that came close, and we offered to accept those for the regular quarterly instead of the anthology. This makes our acceptance rate for March either 24.8% or 28.6% depending on how you look at it. All time acceptance rate is now 45.16%.

Followers

February
Facebook: 1,314 (+67)
Twitter: 433 (+8)
Google+: 61 (+1)
Tumblr: 128 (+0)
Mailing List: 58 (+0)
Patreon: 12 (+0)

March
Facebook: 1,317 (+3)
Twitter: 452 (+19)
Google+: 60 (-1)
Tumblr: 134 (+6)
Mailing List: 61 (+3)
Patreon: 13 (+1)

Traffic

February had 1,924 visits, involving 1,292 users and 2,820 page views. So, more people coming to the site, but less pages being opened than January. The highest day of traffic in February was 144.

March saw a drop to 1,731 visits from 1,138 users with 2,621 page views. The highest day of traffic saw 107 visits.

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The Infernal Bones of Canaan, Mississippi

An account by Edgar E. Laredo, as provided by Elizabeth S. Berger
Art by Leigh Legler


If the yellow in my eyes is to be credited, I will die before Christmas. Then my bones will be interrogated–and I wouldn’t trust them to tell my tale honestly. Never trust bones as far as you can throw them.

It’s been thirty years, and I still wake to the scraping of wind and think it is the grinding of teeth. I have ground my own teeth until the dentin is exposed and my temples are gnawed with pain. But I must revisit the tale, and seek exoneration from the public.

First, you must put aside what you have heard about the incident. I was never engaged in prophesying. That is utter nonsense. I would not have jeopardized my career for the dubious power of necropological prophesies. To the contrary, I, like Professor Weissenschnauer, was dogmatically opposed to such selfish uses of the bones. Prophesying would have been tantamount to treason against my own profession–like an archaeologist pocketing the gold coins he was tasked with excavating.

Through the summer and into the fall of 1901, we were sequestered in Canaan, Mississippi, which is a miserable mud hole, blistering in summer and sodden as a swamp the rest of the year. We set up our laboratory in the spare wing of a local doctor’s house, and we kept to ourselves. The locals were suspicious of necropologists. They had more than their share of traveling hucksters who rode in on wagons and set up tent shows to talk to the bones in the churchyard, but they were frauds, and I think the people knew it.

The doctor’s house was an old one from before the War. The whitewashed wooden floorboards creaked when no one stepped on them but rustled like doves when someone did. The kettle perpetually whistled as the doctor’s wife, never seen, bustled in and out of the kitchen. The place smelled of baking biscuits. There were butter smears on all the door handles, and we always had to wipe our fingers on our trousers before working in the makeshift laboratory. The smell of the buttery biscuits was in earthy harmony with the smell of the bones, still caked in grave dirt and lined up on the plywood shelves as in a catacomb.

The Infernal Bones of Canaan, Mississippi

Only finishing his whiskey could induce McDowell to go on. “Nonsense, mostly,” he said. “We don’t know how to understand ’em. Talking about devils and … drowning virgins, nonsense like that. Horses with their legs cut off. And the foulest insults you ever heard.”


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2016 collection.


Mr. Laredo sent this account from his home in Baltimore, where he has lived since his release from prison five years ago.


Elizabeth Berger’s work has appeared in Stupefying Stories. She is pursuing a PhD in bioarchaeology, the study of ancient bones. In the usual course of her work, unlike in Mr. Laredo’s account, the bones do not talk back.


Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.


“The Infernal Bones of Canaan, Mississippi” is © 2016 Elizabeth S. Berger
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Leigh Legler

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Chlorophytum Comosum Vlog

A transcript by Evangeline Zoya, as provided by Kathy Steinemann
Art by Ariel Alian Wilson


Day 1: This is Dr. Bruce S. Iktomi, commencing my video journal for Experiment 148-K. This morning I fertilized a Chlorophytum comosum with the first application of my innovative nutrient solution. If my calculations are correct, and I’m sure they are, you can expect to see unprecedented growth and robust development.

My colleagues and former sponsors are skeptical, so I am appealing to you, the public, for your moral and monetary support. Whenever possible, I will endeavor to communicate with you in layman’s terms.

The four-liter glass beaker in which the plant is growing may seem large, but I want to allow for rapid growth. Note the beaker’s placement next to a control specimen in a conventional hydroponic solution.

I’ll livestream short segments of this journal daily at 1500 hours. Login to observe the progress with me as the Chlorophytum comosum grows.

Day 2: One of my followers, Evie Zoya, contacted me this morning to request more information about my nutrient preparation. Although the formula is secret, I will reveal that I spliced a common bacterium with genes from a Phoneutria nigriventer, commonly known as the Brazilian wandering spider, and a Bambusa bambos, a rapidly-growing bamboo genus. I cultured the resulting organism in a proprietary hydroponic base. The new bacteria grow rapidly and have already started infiltration of our subject plant via its root system.

Chlorophytum Comosum Vlog

Although the formula is secret, I will reveal that I spliced a common bacterium with genes from a Phoneutria nigriventer, commonly known as the Brazilian wandering spider, and a Bambusa bambos, a rapidly-growing bamboo genus.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2016 collection.


Evangeline Zoya, PhD, is CEO of the Global Horticultural Science Consortium. Adopted at birth, she spent her teen and early-adult years searching for her parents. The Interplanetary Copyright Organization transferred Dr. Bruce S. Iktomi’s intellectual property rights to Zoya after DNA testing proved she was his daughter. Dr. Iktomi became comatose following an unfortunate accident in his laboratory. He survived for thirty-eight months, but eventually succumbed to the venom injected by hybrids created in his final experiment. See “Galactic Scientific Journal, III-345-a” for details. Zoya improved and expanded Iktomi’s techniques. She has developed several new hybrids, including dandelion-devouring quackgrass.


Kathy Steinemann has loved writing for as long as she can remember. As a child, she scribbled poems and stories. During the progression of her love affair with words, she won multiple public-speaking and writing awards. Her career has taken varying directions, including positions as editor of a small-town paper, computer-network administrator, and webmaster. She’s a self-published author who tries to write something every day. You can read more of Kathy’s work at KathySteinemann.com.


Ariel Alian Wilson is a few things: artist, writer, gamer, and role-player. Having dabbled in a few different art mediums, Ariel has been drawing since she was small, having always held a passion for it. She’s always juggling numerous projects. Currently lives in Seattle with her two cats, Zippy and Persephone. You can find doodles, sketches, and more at her blog www.winndycakesart.tumblr.com.


“Chlorophytum Comosum Vlog” is © 2016 Kathy Steinemann
Art is © 2016 Ariel Alian Wilson

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Help Support Mad Scientists in an Anthology!

photo-original[1]MSJ editor Dawn Vogel and alum Kyle Yadlosky are both authors in an anthology funding this month on Kickstarter. Untethered: A Magic iPhone Anthology features a total of twenty authors and is billed as “a collection of short fiction exploring the intersection of magic and technology in our smartphones.” It’s also inspired by the award-winning novel, Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story. Click here to check out the Kickstarter and consider putting some money towards it!

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Mad Scientist Has a Collection of Shorts

Walden Planet and Other StoriesRichard Zwicker, who is a regular contributor to Mad Scientist Journal, has a collection of his short fiction available! We’re currently hip deep in reading slush for this year’s big anthology, so we haven’t been able to dive into this one. But we have consistently loved everything he has submitted to us, and he’s even featured on the cover for our latest quarterly. Click here to check out his book on Amazon!

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A Study of the THING from Cobb’s Barn

An essay by Doctor Ludwig van Johannes, as provided by Ira Krik
Art by Justine McGreevy


Oh, thrill! Oh, exaltation! I have taken it upon myself to record my most recent scientific discovery, but I’m having trouble finding the words for it. I will preface this by warning you of the scope of my experiences within the past few weeks. I have already wasted too much time trying to convey my excitement and have become confident in the conclusion that it is simply impossible to project the emotional state I’ve found myself in in this or any other language. For that matter, I’m sure I’ll find it difficult to even discuss the nature of my discovery. What is it? That is the question. Just what strange otherworldly affair had I fumbled into? What foreign phenomenon have I found, or rather, has found me?

Perhaps I would find it easier to discuss if I start at the beginning. The morning of farmer Cobb’s phone call. It was only hours before sunrise when he woke me. The poor man was frantic. It took me quite a long time to calm him so that he could tell me his story coherently. He told of a flash of yellow-blue light and a loud crash that awoke him and his wife. Stumbling out of bed and to a window, he found that something had torn right through the roof of his barn, leaving a chimney where smoke funneled into the sky. Hurriedly, he ran out to investigate, taking with him his trusty dog and trustier shotgun.

He recalled to me with urgency the immense dread that filled him as he approached the barn, which had at that point been leaking yellow and green light. It seems his dog refused to enter, opting to keep its distance and bark instead. The farmer continued on without him and had found the source of his dread, perhaps the source of all dread, inside. Where once was a barn floor with hay scattered about and stables on each side, there was now a crater, and inside the crater, a thing. According to him, the thing had features unlike any other thing he had ever seen. It was about the size of a newborn calf. It didn’t seem to carry any definitive shape, though it was certainly a solid. It buzzed and it hummed, and it hurt the farmer’s head to look at. So he didn’t look at it for long before walking back into his house and calling me.

Farmer Cobb’s story had me ecstatic. I had to see it for myself. I beckoned one of my employees to bring the car around, to which it responded by moaning and shaking its fists in the air angrily. We arrived post haste and the farmer showed us into the barn. I saw it then for the first time. Oh, Eureka! Oh, stars! It was magnificent. Cobb’s description over the telephone in no way did the spectacle justice. Looking at this thing, whatever it was, was like having a staring contest with the universe. I felt as though if I took my eye off of it, reality would cave in around us. It was imperative, absolutely crucial, that I unearth its secrets.

A Study of the THING from Cobb's Barn

It had limbs, I believe, though I’m not sure if I should call them arms or tendrils. It held itself up on two of them or six of them, depending on how you looked at it. In the mess of it all, however, two characteristics were very clear. It had claws, and it had eyes. Dark, black, pits of eyes. I looked into those eyes, and they looked back into me. In them, I saw the emptiness that surrounds us all. I saw what came before and what will come after, and I felt dread.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2016 collection.


Doctor Ludwig van Johannes grew up in a small village where he still resides in his tower on the hill. He has never received a formal education, instead educating himself through his own efforts and experiments. His title of Doctor is entirely self-endowed and carries no real merit, though he asks that you refer to him as such anyway.


Ira Krik lives on a creek in the muddy Michigan woods. He has no wife or children, and he prefers it that way. He lives a life of solitude except for the letters sent between him and his colleagues, like those of Doctor Johannes.


Justine McGreevy is a slowly recovering perfectionist, writer, and artist. She creates realities to make our own seem slightly less terrifying. Her work can be viewed at http://www.behance.net/Fickle_Muse and you can follow her on Twitter @Fickle_Muse.


“A Study of the THING from Cobb’s Barn” is © 2016 Ira Krik
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Justine McGreevy

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Now Available: Spring 2016

Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2016We’re excited to announce the availability of Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2016! Three months worth of stories before they appear on the site, with exclusive content by Judith Field, Dusty Wallace, Richard Zwicker, Horrorscopes, advice for mad scientists, and classifieds! So far it’s available at Amazon (Print/Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Print/NOOK), Kobo, iBookstore, and Smashwords!

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Linguapocalypse

An essay by Derek Wright, as provided by Michael Monaco
Art by Luke Spooner


Bell told me about it over pancakes.

“It’s like these robots, okay? They go in your head. And they make you psychic.”

I hacked at the pancakes. Our waitress was surly, and the pancakes reminded me of her. “The fuck you talking about now?”

Bell sighed. She could sigh like it was an art form. She was the Yo Yo Ma of sighing. “These robots, Derek. You get them put in your brain. And they like pick up on your electricity and other peoples’ electricity, and they make you psychic.”

“My ‘electricity?'”

“I’m not a neurosurgeon or whatever. But that’s what I heard about. They have them in alpha now, for like really rich California-brand yuppies.”

“It’s Google Glass all over again.”

She shrugged, clearly done with my shit. “I just thought you might be able to write a piece about it for that tech blog you keep talking about.”

“Yeah, maybe.” The waitress approached, and I redoubled my efforts on the pancakes.

~

An excerpt from the Neurobots website:

“For centuries, man has struggled to communicate using only language as a tool. Whether written or spoken, language is a MEANS to an END: transmitting ideas from one brain to another. Now, for the first time in human history, we have found a way to bypass language entirely.

“Enter NEUROBOTS. NEUROBOTS are able to pick up on the electronic impulses that go into creating an idea. Basically, they read your brain. Then, they can transmit that information as data to any other NEUROBOT network within thirty metres. This information is processed by the receiving NEUROBOT network, et voila–your thought has leapt from your mind to the mind of your friend, family member, or coworker.

“LANGUAGE is an obstacle to COMMUNICATION, and we have removed that final obstacle. Welcome to the future of interpersonal contact.”

~

I got in touch with Jen. Jen runs UberGeek, a division of the Roflcom website network. I like to pretend that I write for UberGeek sometimes. They pay decent, for a tech blog, but you can’t make a living on that shit. If it wasn’t for Bell, I’d be living in a dumpster somewhere trying to eke out a meager life on foodie blogging or something.

“Jen–hey. Hope all is well. Have you been following this ‘neurobot’ stuff? Do you have anyone doing a piece on it yet? Because I’d love to cover it. Let me know, Derek Wright Freelance Writer University of Minnesota Class of 2013 English”

Jen is tough. She is a champ. You’d have to be, to run a tech blog. UberGeek brings in a good five hundred thousand hits a month, which is not exactly chump change in the blogosphere. And Jen is behind it all. I’ve never met her in person, and sometimes Bell and I like to imagine what she looks like. I could probably find out on Facebook or something–Bell always suggests it, but I shoot her down like she’s flying a Zero and I had family at Pearl Harbor.

I picture Jen as in her early thirties (not unlike myself), with a modest dye job in her hair–a blue streak, maybe, or red highlights. She has piercings (very unlike myself), but acts like they’re no big deal. She wears graphic t-shirts under blazers (geek chic, very like myself) and generally presents herself as a no-nonsense-but-still-cool-geek-lady. This is how I imagine Jen.

Linguapocalypse

Consumers should be wary of putting *anything* in their brains, let alone robots! The long-term effects of these tiny robots in your brain has yet to be investigated, and could potentially lead to any number of diseases or neurological accidents. This discovery has arrived on the heels of several devastating reports about artificial reality goggles, and what those can do to your eyesight is probably *small potatoes* compared to what ROBOTS can do to your BRAIN!!


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2016 collection.


Derek Wright is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis with his infinitely-more-competent girlfriend Bell. Derek graduated in 2013 from the University of Minnesota with a degree in English Literature. Derek specializes in writing on science & technology news, and is currently working on the Next Great American Novel–working title is Sun Over a Southern Jungle.


Michael is a blogger, writer, and admin assistant extraordinaire from Washington, D.C. He graduated from William & Mary with a degree in Linguistics and Creative Writing. His greatest fears are crocodiles and failure, and he loves writing speculative fiction even more than he loves his neurotic Boston Terrier.


Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.

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