Bowlesian! – The Giant Head in the Sky

The Giant Head in the Sky

by Jeff Bowles

The giant head in the sky was known to have begun as a metaphor for something much greater than itself. Unfortunately, the day the giant head appeared above Tulsa happens to have also been the day “metaphor” supplanted the word “fact” in most common-usage dictionaries.

Dave was there and managed to witness the whole thing. According to some ancient law or custom by which the rest of Galactic Society operated, virtually anything and everything could become a reality if and only if—and this was the important part—the dominant species of a given world became the primary provider of bullshit throughout the universe.

That of course was a prime directive that only translated loosely into the languages of Earth. Dave spoke English, but he was used to being told he didn’t.

“Hey, have you ever seen the show Black-ish?” said one of his classmates, Kenny something, sitting beside him on the bench, smoking his cheap cigarette all the way to the butt.

“No, man, I’ve never seen Black-ish.

“No? I thought maybe you’d be into it.”

Dave rolled his eyes and got back to texting his girlfriend. Class at OSU was on break, so when the giant head blinked into existence perhaps 500 yards above the outdoor smokers’ area, Dave hit the deck and so did everyone else.

A sound like quivering JELL-O in the decibel range of a fighter jet exploded across the city. In the silence and eerie calm that followed, gentle pressure waves like the tide rippled over buildings and streets. This head, this immense melon unlike any other—with its long scraggly hair thick like power lines, and its lips the size of small single-family condominiums—bellowed at the world, “There, you see what you’ve done now? Too much bullshit, and now I’ve self-actualized. Where am I? Where is this now?”

His voice was a warbly baritone. He looked like a balding ex-hippie, bobbing around like a guillotined Thanksgiving Day parade balloon. Dave sensed the galactic symmetry involved in such astronomical phenomena, but he was not an astrophysicist, nor did he have any knowledge of the kinds of cosmic circumstances from which may have derived the spark of creation itself. In other words, he was shit out of luck for an explanation.

“Can anyone here speak for all of you, man?” the giant head said. “I’m kind of strung out and I’m not even sure existence is, like, a cool thing for me or not. See, I’m s’posed to tell you guys too much bullshit. Know what I mean, man? Like nonsense. Shenanigans. Hatred, aggression, bigotry, war. You dig?”

Dave could feel the walls closing in. Neither was he brave nor cowardly, but he definitely wasn’t going to die clutching a pack of cigarettes instead of his woman.

He told his classmate, “Sorry, man, I’m about to bounce,” and then he did just that.

Running flat-out the mile or so to his girlfriend Macy’s apartment building, Dave spun around every so often to observe the progress of the head. After a fashion, it seemed to be following him, if the course of its colossal path could be plotted in any reasonable way. All over the place, people ran here and there, clutching belongings and sacred bits of tic and tack. A store, a Walmart, they were looting it, which was amazing because Walmarts were basically impossible to loot. Everyone knew that. Real end of the world stuff. All those cheap HDTVs and cans of great value cola. Jesus. And the guns, all those glorious guns. A chill ran down his spine.

He’d been slurred before. He’d been slandered, brutalized, both in attitude and in action. But he never thought he’d live to see global upheaval, race riots, mass disobedience, until that day. Or that night. Or that weekend maybe, once the bad news had settled in. This was a Judgment Day thing, clearly too big for most minds to reconcile.

Dave arrived at Macy’s in fifteen minutes flat. He buzzed her and she let him up, opening her door to him and hugging him deeply the instant she saw him.

“Jesus, have you seen?” she said.

“I saw.”

“Are you okay, baby? Is everything all right out there?”

“My sense of rationality hurts,” Dave said.

Macy nodded, a tear running down her cheek. “Ramen?”


“It’s got to be a mass delusion or something. Maybe someone slipped drugs into our water supply. Some crazy old white dude’s head?”

“I know. It’s ridiculous.”

They turned on the news after a bit, sitting on the couch, two bowls of steaming noodles resting precipitously on the edge of the coffee table, and they held hands and watched with the rest of the world as the head floated from neighborhood to neighborhood, asking Tulsa who was responsible for all the vileness spewing forth from this little blue planet.

News people shouted questions at him, and he heard them and responded.

“Nah, man, I have no idea. No, well how do you think I feel? As far as I’m aware, I didn’t even exist until an hour ago.”

Dave could picture it so clearly. Maybe a group of supernatural beings—not precisely aliens, because really, what were aliens?—and certainly not spirits or star gods, because such things were strange and terrifying to think about—but a group of eternal, uniquely positioned beings fervently discussing the fates of all the mortals below.

Mighty kings who ruled vast extraterrestrial forests and grasslands, manufacturing strange tests and trials for lesser worlds, riding fine steeds of velvety blue. Neighing and bridling. Maybe they liked space oats. What was the over/under or the moral profit gain/loss? Who had the balls to decide for whom? Giant Gallagher head, giant David Crosby, like any minute he’d break into singing harmony on Love the One You’re With.

“Okay, okay, my mind is finally clearing up,” the head proclaimed on TV. “The spot I popped into existence, I think I was supposed to be looking for a guy called Dave Lewis. Er, yeah, let me … yeah, I’m sure that was the name.”

Dave’s blood ran cold. Especially when the head turned to address the cameras directly, to in essence look him dead in the eye.

“Mr. Lewis. Duder,” the giant head said. “Can you tell me what’s the deal with this planet? Like, you’ve got this internet. And that mostly sucks. Intense dosage of yuck there. Social media. And pornography. Okay, I see you all really like the porn…. But your 24-hour news sucks. And your attitudes suck. I mean, generally speaking. And new wars every month, mass shootings every week. What’s up, man? What’s the deal with you guys? Come on, Mr. Lewis. Rap with me.”


“Don’t worry about the distance, Dave,” said the head. “I’ll hear you in my mind wherever you are. Don’t be afraid. Just let her rip.”

“Why me?” Dave asked.

The head shook itself. Windows shattered in surrounding buildings, and the trees of a small park beneath him flattened against the pavement. The head apologized profusely. He seemed to recognize then he had to modulate the effects of his size, the volume of his voice, considerate as you’d want any neighbor to be.

“I mean, why you? Why me? Why any of us?” the head whispered. “We all have our roles to play. Unique threads in the great tapestry, know what I’m saying?”

Dave licked his lips, gazing deep into the television. He deliberately conjured a lifetime’s worth of disappointment and frustration, abuse, humiliation, dehumanization, rhetorical and experiential disparagement and disdain, etcetera, etcetera—both quiet and loud, explicit and implicit—and he vented it in earnest.

“I’m tired of being marginalized. I’m tired of the status quo. And I’m not alone, oh giant head. In fact, the only people who aren’t tired are the ones the system benefits. Emperor’s got no clothes anymore, man. Racism is shit. Hatred is shit. Cowardice is shit. And I’d like it all to end.”

The head thought about this. He narrowed his bloodshot eyes, and though only a negligible amount of processing capacity was evident in his expression, he managed to grasp the full breadth of the problem at once.

“Well hell, that means everyone is guilty. By action or by inaction, you’re all equal in complicity. Galactic Society is not gonna like that answer.”

Macy whimpered and clutched Dave tightly.

“Don’t worry, Mace,” Dave said, “I don’t think this guy is together enough to wipe us out.”

The head sighed and gave what amounted to a lopsided shrug.

“I guess I could do that,” he said. “I guess I could wipe you out. But look, I’m tired and confused and I’m jonesing like a bitch. Like a real raging bitch, duder. I want you all to love each other. Most sincerely, that’s all I’ve ever wanted, I think. Is that, uh, is that like, um, you know, at all possible, man?”

If only. If only.

Here, Dave and his miraculous connection to the giant head in the sky must be left aside. A momentary break, if you please, as we acknowledge in all humility the fact that though, to paraphrase the man, the angels of our better nature are bound to triumph someday, humanity is in an ugly state of affairs, and in fact, only a trivial work of fiction would contrive to fix all the world’s ills in the blink of an eye.

But perhaps time plus space plus fiction equals perspective. The arbiters of these things are as numerous as there are human beings on the face of the Earth. The giant head considered Dave’s answer, which held significant weight and consequence. And even Dave could feel it. Screwing up its face, the head grunted and rendered its judgement at last.

“Okay, guys. I think I known what to do. Some of you may not like it. In fact, it’s gonna be a downright bummer for most of you. But only at first. Thanks, Dave. Good on you, buddy. The times, they are a’changing.”

Unexpected and unwelcome, but the medicine found its mark. As it turned out, due to Dave’s answer, it was possible for all human beings to once and for all love and care for each other. More or less, after a few decades or so. Generations of bullshit, wiped clean within sixty years. Because the head never left. He watched for a very long time, ever vigilant, and though humankind stumbled often (in fact, every few seconds or so), the head neither challenged nor condemned nor humbled them. He just laughed and nodded knowingly, always watchful and alert.

“Yup,” he often said, “I ought to wipe you out for that one, man. I ought to wipe you out.”

Great alien kings on velvety steeds or not. Space oats. Galactic whatevers, magnanimous. Blah. Dave and Macy had babies, and those babies grew up and had babies of their own. And damnit, what a world. Nothing to hang your hat on? Just wait around half a century or so. Something is bound to shake loose.

At the age of eighty-one, Dave met with the head one last time. The place that belonged to them, the smoker section at OSU. His joints and back were rheumatic and sore, and his liver had begun to fail him. He knew his life was spent. And he was fine with that. No more global strife, or at least, a hell of a lot less of it. But he did have something he wanted to say to the giant head, something that had nagged at him for decades.

“It’s a hell of a thing, oh giant head,” he said. “Who can say where authority lies? Might makes right, or rather size does. Imagine feeling like you’re the king, the boss, the chief of chiefs, the ultimate judge of all. Do you know what that would give you?”

“No,” said the head, “what would it give you?”

Dave smiled sweetly at him. “Why, it’d give you a big head, of course.”

And a frown wide as a cul-de-sac spread across that lofty cranium. “Ah, shit. Shit, man. That’s, like … whoa. You finally did it, Dave. You finally did. Mind. Blown.”


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Love/Madness/Demon, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. His latest novel, Resurrection Mixtape, is available on Amazon now.

Bowlesian! – Detective Robot and the Murderous Spacetime Schism

Detective Robot and the Murderous Spacetime Schism

by Jeff Bowles

We found victim one face down in a giant vat of beer. Red beer, frothy, churning and roiling in blood. Not precisely the best brew of the batch, I knew, but I couldn’t help wonder what it might taste like on a mechanical tongue.

“Detective Robot,” said Officer Allen, a short, stocky, often uncharitable young fellow who always seemed to smell of cooked sausage. “I can’t believe they called you out for this.”

I formed my golden jointed lips into a pleasant smile. “Why wouldn’t they have called? Rain or shine, we always get our man.”

My partner and fellow investigation consultant, Gorilla Todd, beat his big furry chest and pulled his lips back over his teeth.

“Step back, beat cop,” he said in his deep, gruff voice. “Let the man work.”

Gorilla Todd was five hundred pounds of hyper-intelligent simian. He was a post-nuclear, neuro-enhanced military lab experiment, lots of those wandering Grim Land. Bit of a bruiser, to be sure, but an honest and a loyal one.

“Thank you, Gorilla,” I said. “Officer Allen, must we really?”

Allen snorted. “Boy oh boy, you fellas need to learn your place. Are we still short-staffed on actual detectives? What’d you do to get the call on this? Grease a few palms? Robots run on grease, don’t they?”

Point of fact, we run on million-core supra-processors the size of toenail trimmings. But I wouldn’t expect a technologic druid like Allen to know the difference. We got the call because the Chief appreciated our work and professionalism. She requested us by name; the place was ours for the next few hours.

“Why a fusion brewery?” I said, taking in our surroundings.

“People don’t die in fusion breweries?” asked Allen.

“Usually not fashion models, no,” said Gorilla. “Not in the middle of the night.”

“And certainly not old women dressed up like them,” I said.

Allen blanched at this.

“Old women,” he said, scratching his head as he turned to face the vat. “Holy cow! She’s gone all pruney in the lager.”

“Ale,” I said. “Shall you fetch the net or shall I?”

* * * * *

Fusion brewing, popularized at the dawn of the last nuclear holocaust, involves the high-speed collision of plutonium-rich barley nuclei with the nuclei of hops machine grown in the atomic soils found in the ancient ruins of Hackensack, New Jersey. The resulting photonic explosion produces a bubbly, effervescent ale, light on the tongue, but with just enough zing to potentially threaten male fertility (as all nuclear beverages should).

Zippy Beer, or rather, Zippy Beer’s northeast production plant, did seem a rather strange place for homicide. Zippy was known throughout Grim Land as the safest, most environmentally conscious nuclear beer on the market. Fifty years without a tainted batch, their ocu-tisements often declared. Fusion belchers spat florid ale, sluicing through sloshers, roaring down pipeways, collecting and aging in anti-grav refrigeration closets.

I studied Allen carefully. He looked tired and overworked.

“I swear to God, she was young when I found her,” he said.

“Sure she was,” Gorilla Todd chuckled. “Makes all the sense in the world. Hey, mac, you been smokin’ them funny cigarettes?”

I tapped my chin with platinum fingers and examined the poor old dead dear. We’d pulled her from the vat and sprawled her out on the tiled factory floor. I searched and picked at her with the robo-pincers I used for toes.

“You’re having us on, aren’t you Officer Allen?” I said. “You see that high, high ceiling all those many meters up above? See how there’s no skywalk, no roof access?”

“Yeah?” said Allen.

“Now do you see this is the last vat in the line? Eleven vats down that way, but here, just the one. No ladder, either. Do you see?”

Gorilla Todd jumped to his feet and waved an arm over his head. “I know this one, robot! I know it!”

I nodded at him agreeably and opened up my chest slot with a bleep, bleep, bleep, CLACK. A high-protean banana cube flopped out and jiggled on the factory floor like jelly. All five-hundred pounds of Todd landed on it and gobbled.

“She materialized in the beer,” he said, smacking his lips. “And she aged on the spot. Some kind of schismatic time disruption, I think.”

“Very good, Gorilla,” I said. “You see, Officer Allen, once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the—”

A hole tore open in the air above us. It went Riiiip, and then it stretched itself wide in a kaleidoscopic clash of colors and voices. Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, fell through and landed on Officer Allen with a heavy thud.

Gorilla Todd shouted, “Holy cannoli! Who is that?”

“It’s Abraham Lincoln,” I said. “And he’s been shot!”

I checked my tertiary memory banks to be sure. The beard, the hat, it was Lincoln, all right. Bullet wound in the back of the head. He wasn’t dead yet. Eyes fluttering, gasping, but not dead yet. He’d arrived only moments after his famous assassination. Remarkable. His body aged on the spot, grew older by the second. Wrinkles, thinning skin, hair gone long, gray, brittle.

Allen wheezed like strangled bagpipes. He gave a final stifled groan, then he lay his head back, twitched, and went limp. I rushed over and checked him for a pulse.

“He’s dead, Gorilla,” I said. “The Great Emancipator snapped his neck.”

“Hmph. Don’t look too great to me.”

“Granted, though I’m certain he’s not at his best. Struck down by a cowardly actor. That’s democracy for you. What precisely are we dealing with, Gorilla?”

“Black magic?” said Todd.


“Sinister Martian technology?”

“Highly unlikely, though you earn top marks for making me chuckle. No, Todd, our suspect resembles nothing so much as thin air.”

“What do you mean?”

I walked over to another vat and kicked at the release valve until golden nuclear beer gushed out and sprayed my feet. Bending low under the faucet, I proceeding to fill my robot super stomach with hoppy ale.

My jointed fingers tapped a supple syncopated rhythm on my forehead. Performed a million mental processes. A million plus fifty. The span of a single human heartbeat.

“Eureka!” I exclaimed. “The cause of the murderous spacetime schism is—”

Rather out of the blue, a naked caveman came screaming at us from the shadows. He shouted, “Gooba! Blabba!” and then proceeded to club me over the head with a tree branch.

“Ouch!” I shouted. “Help me, Todd, you great galoot!”

Gorilla Todd ripped the branch away and roared a mighty challenge. The caveman roared back. His skin rippled with flash wrinkles, hair going brittle and gray, just like Lincoln’s. Hearty fellow, he attacked Todd, ripped out a chunk of gorilla hair and fish-hooked my simian companion.

“You rotten mook!” Gorilla shouted, caveman fingers sliding in and out of his mouth. He wrapped his meaty hands round the caveman’s throat and began to throttle the poor fellow.

“Gorilla, no!” I said.

Five new holes ripped open in the air above us. One long, continuous Riiiip, and that same kaleidoscopic clash. Out of the holes fell a cute orange kitten, a young renaissance painter, a popular ancient professional football quarterback, a potted cactus, and lastly, Richard Milhous Nixon.

Nixon crumpled to the ground, got one look at Lincoln and shrieked, “Jesus Christ! What happened to that poor bastard?”

All of them aged. The kitten grew, got fat, got skinny, and died. The renaissance painter, fingers covered in vibrant red and green oils, said something in Italian about unfinished masterworks, choked on his tongue, and summarily expired.

“We gotta do something, Robot!” said Todd, still choking the dwindling, gasping caveman.

“Do what?” I said. “And stop choking that caveman!”

Nixon died screaming, gurgling, clawing at the air.

“Todd,” I said, “we have to dump the beer!”

“The beer?” said Todd.

“It’s a bad batch! It must be. There’s no murderer here. Tainted Zippy Beer has caused a schism in space and time!”

Seven more air holes ripped open. From them dropped a sea bass, the Marquis de Sade, two members of a light contemporary jazz quartet, an earth worm, Eddie Murphy, and a two hundred twenty-five foot tall California redwood tree.

The redwood thudded to the factory floor, split the concrete, rose and sprawled, broke through the high white ceiling. The factory lights flickered. Ceiling chunks rained down on us.

“The beer, Todd! Dump it!”

Todd let go the shriveled caveman. He leapt for the redwood, scaled its trunk hand-over-hand. He braced himself against the vat, pushed at it with all his might.

“It won’t budge!” he said.

Three more air holes ripped open. A snail, a circus elephant, a street vendor holding tacos.

Think. Think.

I tapped a rhythm on my forehead.

“Eureka!” I exclaimed.

I leapt for the tree, climbed for a branch, squared my shoulders, and then I dove into the beer.

In haste, I began to drink it, slurp it all up. My robot super stomach swelled. Five hundred gallons. Seven hundred, a thousand. The roiling, bloody fashion model beer, it washed down my throat at a hundred-thousand PSI. Rushing, roaring through my alloy sternum. My body rocked and strained. I groaned like industrial machinery.

“It’s working, Robot!” said Todd. “The holes are slowing down!”

A riip here, small rip there. And then it stopped.

Bodies grew old and died; the redwood rotted, split. Half fell and crushed the factory wall. In rushed the night air, our arid post-nuclear wind. Our city out there—Grim City One—twinkled like starlight. Bricks and heavy steel beams and girders fell all around us. Clouds of dust lifted and lingered until well after relative stillness had filled the factory.

Gorilla Todd gasped from exertion. He stumbled down from the remnants of the redwood and sat against its trunk, eyeing the bodies, all the destruction.

“You did it, Robot,” he said. “You’re a friggin’ genius, you know that?”

Of course I knew. I also knew I was big as a house. Big like a beer vat and just as full. Body engorged, I looked like a head swimming in sea of scrap metal, jammed into the vat like some kind of sardine.

“Tainted spacetime-schismatic beer,” I wheezed. “I might have known! Perhaps a super-accelerated atomic contaminant—a mutation in the solitary photosynthetic apparatus, for instance—exceeded localized time dilation barriers and generated contiguous Einstein-Rosen pathways. And to think, Albert Einstein believed time was non-real!”

“Erm, Ein-who?” said Todd.

“Call in a containment unit, Gorilla. Call in the best they’ve got. And get the Chief down here, too. I fear, Todd, our troubles are just beginning.”

Gorilla Todd huffed. He pondered a moment, and then his thick brow lifted as realization dawned.

“Oh no,” he said. “You don’t mean….”

“Precisely,” I replied. “In approximately thirty-nine minutes, I will have to void my robo-bladder like a racehorse. The game, as they say, my dear Gorilla Todd, is afoot.”


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Love/Madness/Demon, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. His latest novel, Resurrection Mixtape, is available on Amazon now.

Announcing the winners of the “Resurrection Mixtape” giveaway

Last week we ran the WordCrafter “Resurrection Mixtape” Book Blog Tour with reviews, guest posts about how this unique book came to be, and even an awesome interview with author Jeff Bowles. Since this book was inspired by music and a simple mixtape plays such a vital role in the story, Jeff ran a generous giveaway, offering chances for signed copies of the book and a $25 Amazon gift card, and all you had to do to enter was tell us what the top three songs on your mixtape would be. Only three people entered, so, I am pleased to announce that the winners of the three signed copies of Resurrection Mixtape are TansGental (Geoff LePard), Teagan Riordan Geneviene, and Annette Rochelle Aben.

And for the $25 Amazon gift card, the winner is… (drumroll please) Annette Rochelle Aben!

Congratulations to each of you. I will be contacting you to arrange for shipment of your books, so watch for my email. And thanks to all who participated in this rockin’ tour.


Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!

Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Resurrection Mixtape” Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day 3 of the WordCrafter Resurrection Mixtape Book Blog Tour. Today we have an audio excerpt from Resurrection Mixtape, read by the author, Jeff Bowles, and my review of this wonderfully original novel. It’s a fun read when you feel like getting outrageous.

On Day 1, I had a fun interview with author Jeff Bowles, and Day 2 featured an interesting guest post from him. For the next two days we have more guest posts and another review, so visit each stop to learn more about Jeff and his awesome novel. If you missed the first two days of the tour, be sure to stop by through the following links:

Day 1 – Interview with author Jeff Bowles – Writing to be Read

Day 2 – December 6 – Guest Post – Robbie’s Inspiration



For this tour we’re giving away 3 signed print copies of Resurrection mixtape and a $25 Amazon gift card.

To enter, just tell us the top three songs on your mixtape in the comments.

Come on now. We really want to know.

Winners will be chosen in a random drawing.


Now let’s move forward with an audio excerpt from Chapter 1 of Resurrection Mixtape, read by author Jeff Bowles

Resurrection Mixtape Excerpt


Emily has been dead a year, but that doesn’t stop her from crashing in on her former best friend’s life in a whirlwind of mayhem, dark magic, and music. She’s been resurrected by a supernatural mixtape full of excellent but probably evil pop tunes. Amazing powers of transformation flow through her, piece-by-piece endowing her with abilities beyond anyone’s understanding. Within and without, a dark presence dwells, ready to express itself in all sorts of colorful and destructive ways. It’s all in the music, man. Press “PLAY” at your own risk.

Purchase Link:


What they’re saying on Amazon

Take the time to get a feel for the voice of this book. It’s worth it. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets its dark cousin with an irreverent twist. I look forward to more from this writer and if anyone makes a playlist for the mixtape I want a link. – Amanda Harris

My Review

How to describe Ressurection Mixtape, by Jeff Bowles? This book is unlike any I’ve read before. A mixture of horror and humor, supervillian fiction and pop culture guide this story into never before explored realms of storytelling. Bowles is a talented creative fiction author, and creative emphasises this, his latest novel. His unique style of storytelling makes this book an entertaining ride that readers won’t soon forget.

There is no doubt the existence and sanity of the entire world is at stake, but good guys are swept away under evil control and it’s hard to know who to root for. But one thing is certain. It’s not Emily, although even she could be seen as a victim, who didn’t ask for any of this, even if she does want to conquer the world now. It’s a wild ride fueled by a demonic mixtape, but it’s all a part of a much grander scheme which will be revealed, if not fully understood. What do these alien powers really want? What’s the true story?

Fun and entertaining, with twists and turns you won’t see coming. I give Resurrection Mixtape five quills.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!


That wraps up Day 3 of WordCrafter Resurrection Mixtape Book Blog Tour. Thanks helping us in sending off Resurrection Mixtape in grand style. We’ve got more guest posts from the author and another review in the week to come, so follow the tour to learn more about Jeff Bowles and his unique and entertaining story. And don’t forget to let us know what the top three songs on your mixtape would be to enter the giveaway for a chance at one of three signed print copies and a $25 Amazon gift card.


Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!

Welcome to the WordCrafter “Resurrection Mixtape” Book Blog Tour

Join us for the opening day of the WordCrafter Resurrection Mixtape Book Blog Tour. This week we’re celebrating the release of the amazing new novel by author Jeff Bowles. We have an interview with the author, and you’ll get to hear from him about this unique and wonderful book, along with a couple of interviews and a fatastic giveaway. So follow the tour to learn more about Resurrection Mixtape, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway. You’ll find the tour schedule with links below, but of course, the links won’t work until each post goes live.

Tour Schedule

Resurrection Mixtape – December 5 – 9

Day 1 – Interview with author Jeff Bowles – Writing to be Read

Day 2 – Guest Post from author Jeff Bowles – Robbie’s Inspiration

Day 3 – Audio Excerpt & Review – Writing to be Read

Day 4 – Guest Post from author Jeff Bowles – Roberta Writes

Day 5 – Guest Post from author Jeff Bowles & Review – Carla Loves to Read



For this tour we’re giving away 3 signed print copies of Resurrection mixtape and a $25 Amazon gift card. To enter, just tell 

us the top three songs on your mixtape in the comments. Come on now. We really want to know.

Winners will be chosen in a random drawing.


The Book

Emily has been dead a year, but that doesn’t stop her from crashing in on her former best friend’s life in a whirlwind of mayhem, dark magic, and music. She’s been resurrected by a supernatural mixtape full of excellent but probably evil pop tunes. Amazing powers of transformation flow through her, piece-by-piece endowing her with abilities beyond anyone’s understanding. Within and without, a dark presence dwells, ready to express itself in all sorts of colorful and destructive ways. It’s all in the music, man. Press “PLAY” at your own risk.

Purchase Link:

The Author

I met Jeff Bowles while earning my M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Western Colorado Sate University back in 2014. It was immediatey apparent that this guy had some immense talent when it came to writing, paired with an amzing imagination. He has been a member of my blog team since 2017, and has done several popular blog series on writing, as well as reviews of books, movies and games. His current blog series, “Bowlesian!”, which is featured the first Wednesday of every month and usually features his short fiction, is currently featuring a serialized version of his latest release, and featured book of this tour, one chapter at a time.

Resurrection Mixtape is his third novel, but he also writes short fiction, and has published three short fiction collections, in addition to stories featured online and in anthologies. In fact, he has short fiction featured in three different WordCrafter Press anthologies, and was a contributing author in Ask the Authors 2022. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife, Carrie, and despite life throwing him some pretty big curves, he is a talented writer and author, among his many other talents, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be able to feature his interview here today.

Interview with author Jeff Bowles

Let’s start with the very basics – Can you tell your readers, or potential readers, who is Jeff Bowles?

Hello there! I’m a Fantasy and Horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. I’ve had lots of short story publications, but as a novelist I’m an indie guy. I’ve published three novels so far, plus three short story collections, all of which you can find on Amazon. Resurrection Mixtape is my third book. I’m very proud of it, so please do check it out. I got my MFA in Creative Writing at Western Colorado University a few years back, and I live very happily with my wife and our animals in the foothill region of Southern Colorado. Nice to meet all of you!

Please tell us a bit about your latest novel, Resurrection Mixtape.

Well, this is my pandemic book, if I can call it that. I’ve been battling serious mental illness for a while now, and Resurrection Mixtape was my keep-sane project while COVID was at its worst. The book is about music and the afterlife, death and love; there’s plenty of humor, and quite a few surprises. Basically, a singular conglomeration of supernatural beings decides to resurrect this woman, Emily, using a special mixtape designed to endow her with incredible abilities. Her former best friend, a guy who’s been in love with her for years, finds her on his doorstep almost a year to the day since she burned to death in a house fire, and he’s pulled into a wild string of events that culminate in a pretty fun and exciting way.

What was your inspiration for the story of Resurrection Mixtape? Where did the idea for the book come from?

That would by my wife, Carrie. She had this idea that a mixtape could bring someone back to life, though I’m pretty sure she envisioned the concept as more of a romance than a superpowered rock and roll horror romp! I have a deep and abiding passion for music of all kinds. I’m a musician myself, and I’ve been playing guitar and writing songs since about the age of ten or eleven. So this book is really a love letter to the music that made me who I am. As a matter of record, I began writing Resurrection Mixtape without any notes or an outline. I had no idea where it was going, but fortuitously enough, it found its conclusion after months of hammering a fairly rough story into place.

Can you give an introduction for the main players in the story? Who are these characters?

Emily is the subject of this particular resurrection. She died almost a year ago, and in the bowels of the netherworld, she became convinced her husband, Guy, was the one who killed her. Jason, her former best friend, is there to try to convince her otherwise. That doesn’t go very well. The two of them have gone through plenty of ups and downs together. Emily used to be fair-minded, generous of spirit, a music lover (hence the hexed cassette). But now she’s something else entirely. An evil presence dwells within and without, and Jason is helpless to do anything but go along for the ride.

What part of the novel was the most fun to write? Why?

One of the characters (or should I say group of characters) has a really fun voice that was always enjoyable to write. This mass of spiritual entities calls themselves the ICM (Interspecies Conglomeration of Mack), and they’ve got a kind of stately, if kooky way of putting things. The ICM owns the narration through some of the book, and I look back on writing that stuff fondly. It’s still fun to read, even after picking through it dozens of times!

What part of the novel was the most difficult to write? Why?

I’d say the writing was the easy part. Editing and compiling and revising the blasted thing once the rough draft was done, this was some of the hardest writing work I’ve had to do to date. Like I said, I went in without any notes or an outline, and this inevitably made more work for me on the back end of the project. Which was fine, because this is a passion of mine. But gosh, next time we’re going back to the outlining. Another tricky thing was trying to get in my word count every day. For mental health reasons, I limit myself to four or five hundred words per day, which is much less than what I used to aim for. So the long-haul nature of the project began to wear on me towards the end. More technical issues than anything specific to any section or scene from the story itself.

If  Resurrection Mixtape was made into a film, who would you like to play Emily?

Oh man, awesome question! Emily would be fun to cast, because she’s got her background identity, the person she was before she died, but then she also becomes something much stranger and more egoic. This actor would have to wear prosthetics for later sequences in the film … hmm, I’m going to have to go with Amy Adams. She’s got a serious amount of range, from humor to drama to horror, all of which would be required for Resurrection Mixtape. That would be incredible. Could we make that happen someday?

I know that music is a big part of your life, listening as well as creating, and it is a key element in the story. Do you listen to music while you write?

Actually no, I can’t write to music to save my life. I’ve always gotten that advice from other writers and have tried it on various occasions, but the truth is whenever I hear good music I can’t help but stop everything and listen. It’s like I’ve got special musical ESP or something. When I’m writing, I find it incredibly distracting. I’m just too sensitive to good tunes, but that also means I usually need to write in silence, which can be pretty boring for me and everyone else in the house.

What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Well I’ve had some pretty weird ones. Between concepts my wife and I have come up with, my stories have ranged pretty far and wide as far as weirdness goes. One of my favorite short stories was about a little guy or girl camped out on everyone’s heads, acting thereon as a physical voice for our id, our inner desires and fears. It’s called “Itsies,” pretty funny little story. The inspiration for that one came from imagining a little dude in a teddy bear costume living under my hat or something. Kind of a weird thought, but it turned into a published story, so there you have it. Actually, the dark zaniness of so much of my work comes from my own short attention span and inability to stay bored for longer than a minute or two. If I’m feeling bored, I figure my readers are too. In that case, I may just take a left instead of the right. Doesn’t matter where I end up. All just grist of the mill.

(“Itsies” was recently featured on Jeff’s blog series “Bowlesian!”. You can find it here.)

What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?

I’ve worn a few hats. I was a private editor for a while, I wrote for the local newspaper, went to school for creative writing (specifically for genre fiction), and I’ve even been a technical writer for Lockheed Martin, of all places. That was just a normal desk job, but it might’ve been the least likely place to find a writer like me plying his talents. Here I am now, writing about cursed mixtapes, but then I was at work detailing technical systems and reviewing incredibly dry schematics, editing user manuals for government computer systems twenty or thirty years old. Plus, I was still in my early twenties, way too young to understand most of what my superiors were trying to communicate. I did my best, and earned a few merits. Maybe I had no idea what I was doing, or maybe they didn’t. Either way, Lockheed Martin turned out not to be my thing. Much happier writing about spirit conglomerations and the awesome but probably evil pop songs that drive them.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!


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The Awesomeness of Ask the Authors 2022

Ask the Authors 2022

Purchase Link:

Ask the Authors 2022 in the ultimate writing reference anthology, with writing tips and advice from eleven talented writers at different stages in their writing careers. Each brings unique perspective to the table on all stages of the writing, publishing and book marketing processes.

To celebrate this awesome writer’s tool, seven of the contributing authors, including myself, are gathering on Mark Leslie Lefebvre’s Stark Reflections podcast to exchange writing wisdoms, much as we did for the anthology. Joining us was fantasy author L. Jagi Lamplighter, media tie-in writer and fiction author Bobby Nash, science fiction author Kevin Killiany, paranormal and horror author Roberta Eaton Cheadle, and speculative fiction author Mario Acevedo. Call it a meeting of literary minds… or maybe just seven authors hanging out on a podcast. No matter what you call it, you can catch the episode on Facebook: or on YouTube: Of course, you can wait for it to come out on the podcast, if you prefer to just listen, too.

Just in time for NaNoWriMo, you can get this wonderful author’s reference in Kevin J Anderson’s Writer’s Career Toolkit Bundle along with fourteen other great writing tools at a special bundle price. It’s a great deal. You can’t beat it. So grab your bundle today!

Writer’s Career Toolkit Bundle

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Welcome to the WordCrafter “Visions” Book Blog Tour

Visions Book Blog Tour

Welcome the the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour, where we are celebrating the release of the Visions anthology, which will be out tomorrow, October 18. But it is also available for pre-order now. It’s a fantastic science fiction, fantasy & horror anthology filled with nineteen unique stories and we have an amazing eight day tour planned to honor the occasion. With a guest post for each day; two seperate interviews: one with the author of the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, also known to many of us as Robbie, and contributing author Sara Wesley McBride will also interview me; three reviews; and a fantastic digital giveaway, this tour promises to be full of surprises. Join us and help send Visions off right.


(The links below won’t work until each post goes live)

Monday – October 17 – Guest Post – Billie Holladay Skelley & Winning Story Interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle – Writing to be Read

Tuesday – October 18 – Guest Post – Michaele Jordan & Review – Patty’s World

Wednesday – October 19 – Guest Post – D.L. Mullan – The Showers of Blessings

Thursday – October 20 – Guest Post – C.R. Johanssen & Review – Robbie’s Inspiration

Friday – October 21 – Guest Post – Patty L. Fletcher & Review – Zigler’s News

Saturday – October 22 – Guest Post – Jeff Bowles – Writing to be Read & Interview w/ Kaye Lynne Booth on SaraWesleyMcBride

Sunday – October 23 – Guest Post & Review – Stephanie Kraner – Roberta Writes

Monday – October 24 – Guest Post – Joseph Carabis – Writing to be Read & Review – Undawnted

Digital Giveaway

We’re doing a digital giveaway which offers copies of Visions to three lucky winners, and you can enter at each stop just by leaving a comment so I know you were there. So, follow the tour and comment at each stop for a chance to win or just to learn more about this exceptional anthology at the same time.


Today’s blog tour stop is a double treat, with a guest post by Billie Holladay Skelley about her story, “Secret Thoughts”, and then an interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle about her story, “The Bite”. So without further ado, I will turn this over to Billie. Please help me welcome Billie Holladay Skelley.

Guest Post

My inspiration for “Secret Thoughts” came from several places, but the first source was the actual history itself. The gunfight described in my story, between James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok and Davis Tutt, actually occurred on July 21, 1865. It took place in the town square of Springfield, Missouri, and the city of Springfield has preserved the details of the fight. The actual site has become a popular tourist attraction. At the time of the duel, Hickok was not widely known, and his “Wild Bill” persona had not been established, but the shootout served to accelerate his prominence and legend.

There are various accounts regarding the source of the disagreement between Hickok and Tutt, but many believe it started with gambling debts and escalated when Tutt took Hickok’s prize watch as collateral. Tutt wore the watch in public to humiliate Hickok, and that certainly elevated the dispute.

After the duel, Hickok initially was charged with murder, but the charge was reduced to manslaughter. His trial lasted three days, and the jury decided the killing was justified—and Hickok was acquitted. Apparently, in 1865, humiliating a man by wearing his watch in public justified the deadly use of firearms.

What attracted me to this story was the actual shootout, and the fact that it was one of the few one-on-one, face-to-face, quick-draw duels that ever occurred. This type of shootout was quite rare in the Wild West—even though Hollywood movies have taken every opportunity to invent and popularize them. 

The actual shot Hickok made also intrigued me because, by many accounts, it would have been a very difficult shot to make—considering the distance and the firearms used. Hickok truly must have been a remarkable marksman.

I also was inspired by Hickok’s colorful life (1837-1876) as a whole. While several events in his life have been sensationalized, Hickok did have many interesting occupations, and he did experience many violent encounters. He also died relatively young. Eleven years after the duel in my story, Hickok was shot in the back of the head while playing poker. When he died, he was holding two pair—aces and eights—which he reportedly grasped tightly in a death grip. Ever since, these cards have been known as the “Dead Man’s Hand.”

As I researched Hickok’s life, I became increasingly intrigued by what makes a man (or woman) stand out, be recorded, and be remembered in history. I kept thinking about what spark, trait, or events align that make one person be more notable than another. Obviously, James Butler Hickok had an extraordinary life, even if some of the events in his life were sensationalized—and I started thinking, in terms of the story, what if he did have a secret advantage—or a secret talent that contributed to his success and augmented his fame.

I didn’t want to make him a “superhero” with over-the-top powers. I just wanted him to have a slight advantage that was highly useful. When I consider the paranormal genre, I usually focus on things like telekinesis or clairvoyance—so it seemed logical to proceed along those lines.

I hope readers enjoy “Secret Thoughts,” but I also hope it makes them think about what characteristics, talents, and events make a legend. What do those people have that makes them stand out from others and that makes them be remembered? It’s interesting to consider what their “secret” talents might be.

About Billie Holladay Skelley

Billie Holladay Skelleyreceived her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.Now retired from working as a cardiovascular and thoracic surgery clinical nurse specialist and nursing educator, she enjoys focusing on her writing. Billie has written several health-related articles for both professional and lay journals, but her writing crosses several different genres and has appeared in various journals, magazines, and anthologies in print and online—ranging from the American Journal of Nursing  to Chicken Soup for the Soul. An award-winning author, she has written eleven books for children and teens. Her book, Ruth Law: The Queen of the Air, was recently selected to receive the 2021 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Children’s Literature Award. 



You can get your copy today from your favorite distributor at the link below.

Purchase link:

About the Book

An author’s visions are revealed through their stories. Many authors have strange and unusual stories, indeed. Within these pages, you will find the stories of eighteen different authors, each unique and thought provoking. These are the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and horror stories that will keep you awake long into the night.

What happens when:

An inexplicable monster plagues a town for generations, taking people… and souvenirs?

A post-apocalyptic band of travelers finds their salvation in an archaic machine?

The prey turns out to be the predator for a band of human traffickers?

Someone chooses to be happy in a world where emotions are regulated and controlled?

A village girl is chosen to be the spider queen?

Grab your copy today and find out. Let authors such as W.T. Paterson, Joseph Carabis, Kaye Lynne Booth, Michaele Jordan, Stephanie Kraner, and others, including the author of the winning story in the WordCrafter 2022 Short Fiction Contest, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, tantalize your thoughts and share their


From Kaye Lynne Booth, editor of Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Fairy Tales & Folklore, Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception and Gilded Glass: Twisted Myths & Shattered Fairy Tales.

Visions – Eighteen talented authors, nineteen unique stories

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s story, “The Bite” was chosen as the winner of the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, and is included in the Visions anthology. As a special treat, Roberta has agred to answer a few questions about her story, the anthology and winning the contest, as well as her own writing pratcies. Let’s see what she has to say.

Interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Where did you get the idea for “The Bite”?

“The Bite” was inspired by the Tarantella Dance which I learned about through fellow blogger, Rebecca Budd. We had a bit of a chat about this dance in the comments section on a post and I was sufficiently interested to look up the dance and what its origins were believed to be.

The Tarantella is an Italian Folk Dance that has a history and mythology that spans several centuries. One of the possible sources of origin for the dance relates to a cure for a bite from a Tarantula, Arania or Apulcian Spider. The dance was used as a cure for the poison from the bite. Town people would play non-stop music and the victim would dance to sweat out the poison and avoid succumbing to it.

I used a Wolf Spider for my story as I discovered accidently that the female Wolf Spiders eat the males, unless he is bigger.

How did you react when you learned that “The Bite” was the winning story in the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest?

I was honoured and proud. I felt very encouraged that my short story was selected among so many excellent stories as one the judge particularly enjoyed and appreciated.

What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Most readers don’t know that I worked as a spinning instructor in our local gym for five years before I fell pregnant with Gregory. I used to teach 10 classes a week. I also used to cycle and participated in the famous Argus Cycle Race in Cape Town a few times.

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

I like to read, especially family dramas, classics, war, paranormal and dystopia. I am a little selective with horror and its sub-genres. I don’t like unnecessary blood and guts, and the plot needs to be clever for me to appreciate it.

I enjoy fondant art which is effectively the same as sculpturing with clay. I like creating art works using my fondant figurines and cake or gingerbread structures. I use these to illustrate my children’s books and some of my adult poems. Some of my cake art is a personal response to issues like climate change and the Sixth Mass Extinction which is currently taking place.

I like to cook and am currently running a series on my art and poetry blog called “Recipes from Around the World”. I am sharing my amended and personalized recipes for popular dishes like Greek moussaka and Durban Chicken Curry. I can never follow a recipe without changing it for my personal preferences.

I enjoy writing poetry and am currently judging the haiku and poetry categories for a local writing competition.

I also participate in corporate social initiatives that provide funding and other aid to charities. I am particularly interested in initiatives involving children and the elderly.

Which author/poet, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Hmmm! To be honest, I would prefer not to meet up with any of my favourite authors. I have my own mental image of what they are like as people and I would rather retain it than have it replaced with the real facts. I understand from what I’ve read that two of my favourite children’s authors, Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, were not very nice people in real life.

You also write children’s books with your son, Michael. Do the two genres have anything in common?

I do not have one specific genre I write, although I do favour historical and paranormal with my adult writing. The Sir Chocolate Series, which I write with Michael, is fantasy and is set in Chocolate Land where you can eat everything. The lead characters, Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet, go about Chocolate Land helping their friends put wrong things right.

My adult writing is always based on a real fact set which I either retell from a historical paranormal point of view, or weave into a fantasy setting as I did with “The Bite”.

The two genres don’t have anything in common, although my children’s books for older children, Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town and While the Bombs Fell, are both fictionalized memoirs of a part of my own life and a part of my mother’s life, respectively.

If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

I don’t think my life would change much if I suddenly became better know as an author. I already do many of the things I want to do and like doing, for example visiting game farms and historical sites locally and travelling to the UK and Europe to tour and visit family.

I have decided to continue in my day job for the next few years at least as I am easily bored, and don’t think writing full time would suit me. I write better when I must squeeze it in around other commitments, strangely enough. It is how I am wired.

What are your secrets for juggling writing with family?

My sons are older now, so they don’t need [read that as want] as much attention from me. I write and blog early in the morning on weekdays. I also get up early on weekend mornings and write from 6am to about 8.30am. Sometimes, I read blog posts during my 30 minutes of lunch, and I also do social media activities while waiting in queues or for various appointments or meetings. I listen to audio books while I drive and do household chores. I don’t spend as much time writing as a lot of other authors I know because I just don’t have that time.

How do you decide the titles for your stories? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Usually, I have worked out most of the details of a story, short or long, in my head before I start writing. In particular, I usually have the ending. As a result, I often have the title before I start writing, but sometimes I change it. I changed the title of Through the Nethergate, which has a double meaning, and which was deliberate. Nethergate is the street in Bungay where my mother’s childhood home is located. This street features in the story. The Nether Gate in Norse mythology is also the gateway to the afterlife, Nether being the place of the dead.

My title “The Bite” was also a bit of a deliberate deception as I knew readers would initially think my villain was a vampire…

What do you think is the single most important element in a story?

The ending. There is nothing worse than reading a wonderful book and then the ending is a let down (IT by Stephen King always comes to mind – a giant spider; come on!)

What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

With regards to writing, starting a blog was good advice. My brother-in-law suggested it as a good way for me to meet other writers and readers, to develop relationships in the writing and publishing communities, and to learn more. He was right. My blog has been my single most worthwhile endeavor as a novice writer, and I have developed and learned through the generosity of the blogging community.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors/poets/screenwriters?

You must be thick skinned and tenacious. You will never please everyone. Take on board constructive criticism that helps you and ignore the rest. I am of the view that some people get satisfaction from judging another person’s efforts to achieve. Jealousy is the most destructive of all human emotions in my opinion. I always keep that in mind when I do anything, be it writing, working, baking, blogging, or cooking. I’ve had people make comments about my taste in literature, some admiring, some collaborative, and some condemning. Take it in your stride and keep moving forward.

“The Bite” is a horror story and you’ve had stories in other horror anthologies, as well as some paranormal ones. Do you enjoy reading horror? And what is the attraction of writing horror for you?

I am not a big reader of horror; I prefer the paranormal history, paranormal thriller, and dystopia sub-genres of horror. I do not like mindless butchering and bloodshed in books and I don’t read that sort of horror book.

I enjoy books that have clever plots and are unique and innovative. I don’t mind death in stories, I include a lot of death in my own writing, but it must add to the story and give colour to the setting and storyline.

My favourite books are The Shining and The Stand, both by Stephen King, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and anything by Edgar Allan Poe. I also love war books and am endlessly fascinated by the psychology of war.

Do you prefer writing short stories or novel length works? Why?

I prefer short stories. Novels take too long to write as I am a slow and methodic researcher and writer. I tend to lose interest if things drag on.

A Ghost and His Gold is long at 118,000 words. I wrote that during the pandemic and lockdowns which enables for me with regards to writing time. There was nothing much else to do, no travel, no dinners out, no entertaining. With life having returned to normal now, I am finding getting a novel finished difficult.

What is the biggest challenge for you when writing short fiction?

I can’t say I can think of a specific challenge to writing any kind of fiction, short or long, other than finding time to write and edit. The story ideas come, and I keep them in my head as a skeleton until I want them. Luckily, I don’t forget things. I have an unusually retentive memory. That is also why I don’t re-read books; I always remember the ending if it was good enough for me to consider re-reading it. I sometimes re-read books for the love of the language and the writing. Dracula falls into that category for me, that book has the most remarkable descriptions.  

What is the best thing about having a story featured in an anthology?

I enjoy anthologies for two reasons.

Firstly, it is a good way of keeping my name and reputation as a writer out there in the public eye. Writing a few short stories isn’t an insurmountable effort for me (it takes me about 3 weeks to finish a short story, depending on the length, and another week to polish it up), and it enables me to add a book collection to my name and to advertise it on my social media. I view the anthologies I have participated in as feathers in my writing cap and the more I participate in, the more the writing world sees my name attached to a book.

Secondly, I like meeting new authors and writing friends. In an anthology setting, many of the contributors step up to help market the book and that means your work and name is seen by new readers who might be sufficiently interested to seek out your other works.

I also just like socializing with people who have an interest in writing and reading. This world makes me feel comfortable and happy.

Do you write with music, or do you prefer quiet?

Absolutely no music when I write. I can tolerate high levels of background noise, but music distracts me.

What goals do you set for yourself in your writing?

I am working on becoming better known as a children’s writer in South Africa and elsewhere. I have joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators which is international and has a branch locally. My membership of SCBWI has helped me meet other South Africans involved in writing and illustrating children’s books and I have had opportunities to profile my work, in particular my illustrations, at various events which is pleasing and helpful.

I am planning another children’s book, Dinah in Wonderland, with my son, Michael, for publication next year.

On the adult writing side, I am working on a book of poetry called Lion Scream which is about the Sixth Mass Extinction and African animals. It will also include some of my wildlife photographs and videos.

I am also working on a collection of short stories set in South Africa and have completed three stories to date. I have ideas for several more in my head.

I have written the first four chapters of After the Bombs Fell, a sequel to While the Bombs Fell, which I plan to work on next year after my December research trip to the UK.

The Soldier and the Radium Girl and The Creeping Change are both also lurking. They are each around 50,000 words to date, but my interest has flagged so they are currently on hold until my enthusiasm returns.

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors, including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has two published novels:

* Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy; and

* A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has eleven children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa, where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and an Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.


That wraps up Day 1 of the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour. Join us tomorrow over at Patty’s World, with a guest post from contributing author, Michaele Jordan about her story, “Farewell, My Miko”. And don’t forget to leave a comment for an entry in the digital giveaway.

Bowlesian! – Zombie Crave Human Exceptionalism

Note: This is a just a fun little flash piece to get you in the mood for October. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Zombie Crave Human Exceptionalism

by Jeff Bowles

Dr. Everett J. Edmunds raised his zombies from nothing but spare parts and voodoo. He believed his living dead should crave the best, most exceptional brains. Therefore, in procuring their daily meals, he kidnapped only lawyers and doctors, novelists and scientists, Nobel lauriates, Olympians and the like. Late nights he’d strap these unfortunates to the chair in his subterranean laboratory and read them poetry whilst playing an old Bach vinyl.

“Why, Dr. Browning, you look pale,” he might say. “Perhaps some electrolytes before my darlings feast? Malaise in the system is no good at dinner time.”

And of course, upon devouring each subject, his zombies gained further appreciation for human exceptionalism, thereby endowing themselves with heightened intelligence, communication faculties, charm and wit. This was the theory, at least. Everett had found hard clinical proof difficult to come by.

One evening, as the sun set on his small, weed-infested home, his door buzzer rang, interrupting an attempt to teach his horde Calculus. Everett swore and hushed the zombies, climbing the steps into the house proper. All his life he’d been an achiever, which was why his bookcases and mantle were lined with trophies, awards, and certificates of excellence. The medical community valued his intellect, but people wouldn’t understand his true calling. Perhaps his walk-in freezer was full of arms and hearts and torsos, but he was no cold-blooded killer; rather Edmund was a brilliant scientist, the most exceptional brain of his generation.

He opened the door with a prolonged, rusty squeek. There stood the love of his life, the one who got away, a half-zombie named Camilla. If regret had a voice, it’d be soft and sweet as hers.

She cooed a loving, “Braaaaains!”

To which Everett replied, “My darling, you’ve come back to me!”


“Of course, my love. Come inside. Your horde misses you, as do I.”

She followed dutifully, through the house and back down into the laboratory. The rest of the horde would eat him as soon as look at him, but not his Camilla. She’d been so beautiful in life, his favorite nurse at the hospital. The car crash that claimed her life hadn’t been entirely accidental.

From the book of voodoo spells he’d purchased on Amazon, he’d selected a special hex he used just once: the half-zombie, or Death’s First Kiss. Though her skin had rotted and her jawbone flopped like the useless handle of a can opener, Camilla was still the most beautiful woman Dr. Edmunds had ever seen. He embraced her. She smelled wonderful … ish.

“Dearest, why don’t you climb back in the cage where you belong? Your brothers and sisters would love the chance to pick your–”


“What do you mean they won’t like you anymore? Have you really changed so much?”

Camilla indicated she had, and then proceeded to describe her adventures in the world of the living. Apparently, she’d tried to go back to school, and had even attended her nephew’s bar mitzvah, a ghastly affair which had seen her own family chase her into the night. The doctor opened the cage door cautiously, sensing a lull in his zombies’ aggression.

“Dear heart, please step inside,” he said. “When you ran away, I lost a piece of myself.”

“Brains!” she said, which translated loosely as, I’m wearing a wire, Everett.

“What do you mean you’re wearing a wire?” he asked.

“Brrrrrains!”—What do you mean, what do I mean? The police have already arrived, and you are going to jail for what you’ve done. It took me years to realize it, but you’re the monster, not me. Now don’t struggle.

The door to the laboratory burst open. Waves of gun-toting police filed in, barking for him to hit the floor and put his hands behind his back. Dr. Edmunds refused. Though he always suspected this day might come, he somehow thought he’d be the one to betray himself, not his dear Camilla.

Everett ran into the cage, slammed the door, pressed in tightly with his zombies, and bellowed, “Take me now, my beauties!”

But his zombies ignored him. In fact, they paid him no more attention than Camilla paid basic rules of variative syntax. This, of course, was the real tragedy. For if they didn’t want to eat his delicious, fertile, exceptional brain … well maybe he wasn’t so exceptional after all. The police urged Camilla to yank him from the cage. She did so and they placed him in handcuffs.

“That’s the way the cookie crumbles, doc,” said one of the officers, brutish man with coffee stains on his uniform.

“How dare you!” Everett spat. “If they ever ate an imbecile like you, I’d burn my diplomas!”

The cops led him from his home. After reading his miranda rights on the street, they gathered around their police cruisers and watched Night of the Living Dead on a smart phone. Camilla wept softly from afar. Movie looked so fake.



Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any “Bowlesian!” story segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it entertaining, please share.

Bowlesian! – Jack the Hammer’s Online Identity Crisis

Jack the Hammer’s Online Identity Crisis

by Jeff Bowles

*This story and others like it can be found in my collection, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, available on Amazon now.

Welcome back to, Jackson! Your personal online diary is open and ready for more secrets!

January 18
Mood: sad
Outlook: cloudy with a chance of misery
Jackson Palmer ain’t my name no more. I realized that today, diary. Pissed me off royally. They been calling me Jack the Hammer for nearly twenty years. Twenty goddamn years! Frustrating. Infuriating. I fix problems for people. Pretty good at it, too. Least I used to be. Mafia, Triad, I don’t judge. But what’s a hard case like me to do when I’m the one in need of fixing?
Here’s my secret for today, diary: I been doing this lousy work so long, I often forget there’s places out there where nobody gets shot, or extorted, or wrapped up in garbage bags and dumped in the Hudson River.
You should see what they been saying about me over on

Welcome to, the world’s premier consumer review site for mafia thugs, hit men, and muscle. You have selected to display the latest reviews for Hoboken, New Jersey’s Jackson “Jack the Hammer” Palmer.

Jack the Hammer is a total joke. I used to like the guy. I used to respect him like crazy. But he’s gone soft. There just ain’t no getting through to the guy. I specifically told him to keep an eye out.
“Jack,” I says to him. “You stay in the car and keep an eye out. Rosco and I will make the deal.”
So me and my boy Rosco went to make the deal, only the deal went south. They started shooting at us. We shot back. Rosco and I high-tailed it to the car.
“What the shit is this?” says Rosco.
Shit you not, Jack the Hammer was napping behind the wheel! You believe that? KEE-RIST!
One star for services NOT rendered!

gradulated comunity college with Jack. hlped me improv my english, He’s an ok dood I guess. but I hav to say, the guys lost his edge. Same dood worked muscle for Boss DiMaggio for 17 yers. Imagine that guy going soFt! Its like he dont care no more. Not a profeshinal. Real slippery eel. and have you sen his face LaTeley? Talk about an major SKIN CONDITION! 2 stars.

Welcome back to, Jackson!
I got two fists like Texas T-bones. Got a pendant for Saint George and a rosary around my neck. Got a stomach ulcer so big and bad it’s got its own mailing address.
Had to work over Ricky the Rat today. Poor old Rick was a broken, bloody wad of hamburger before I was through with him. I brought him down to the meat plant ‘cause the boss said to tenderize him.
He cried, “Don’t hit me no more, Jack!” and, “Not in the face! Mother of chicken lasagna, not in the goddamn face!”
But I couldn’t help myself. Used to have better control, you know?
“Look at you!” I said. “Bet you think you look better than me, Rick. So damn handsome. So debonair. I got a skin condition, understand?” I socked him in the eye. “I got a skin condition!” I slammed his head into a big suspended steer carcass.
“Awwwwooooow! You’re crazy, man! You’re fucking crazy! You look fine!”
Horse shit! Most people’re so flashy. Know what I’m saying? So damn flashy and sassy. And me. Look at me. Grade A, prime-cut loser. With a side of special loser sauce. And loser steak fries. So you can dip the fries into the . . .
Ah, what does it matter?
I worked old Ricky over pretty good. Too good, actually. The boss gets one good look at him and says, “I can’t use him like this. Poor bastard ought to be in traction.”
I could’a been a doctor, you know? Or even like a politician. Governor Palmer. Senator Palmer. The Hammer always got so much respect. But what if I don’t want to be the Hammer no more? Ah, hell, what if I don’t even know who the Hammer is?

Incoming message from instant messaging

—Jackson? Are you online?
—Payment didn’t come through, Jackson.
Jesus, doc, you know I’m good for it.
—I know you’ve been good for it in the past. I also know you’re having an existential meltdown at the moment.
So what if I am?
—Jackson, we’ve talked about this. Anger is always healthy. But what do we say about rage?
Come on, doc . . .
—Jackson, reinforcement is key. It really is. What do we say about rage?
You can’t spell discourage without rage.
You also can’t spell discourage without disco.
Disco is the prefix of both disconnect and discord.
Christ, doc, I gotta tell you, it gets fuzzy for me after that.
—Hmph. That figures. Where the fuck’s my money, Jackson?
Yeesh. I’ll get it to you.
I said I’ll get it to you. Next week. All right? Fair enough? Aren’t psychiatrists supposed to be, you know, more nurturing than this?
—Perhaps. Most psychiatrists don’t pay alimony to three different women, though. Good afternoon, Jackson. Onward towards mental stability!

I think the doc means business this time, diary. I wonder how my cash reserve situation is looking.

First Bank of Hoboken Online Branch: we are open and ready to serve you, Jackson.
Checking: $4.21
Savings: $0.02
We notice your funds are a bit low. Consider applying for a personal loan today!

Note to self: sigh

Welcome back to Previously viewed profile loaded.

Hang on, hang on, hang the frig on. You guys want to tell me you’ve got nothing good to say about old Jack? Nothing at all? Hell, man, I’ll go to the mat for him. Maybe’s the guy’s lost his edge—and I ain’t saying he ain’t—but whatever’s bothering him right now, he’ll get it sorted out. Trust me. I grew up with Jack. Some’a youse wise guys know that 😉
He was a good kid, man. Good to his mom, good to his friends and his baby sister. He was smart. Real smart. I mean, his dad was a loser—put the belt to the poor guy, oh, three, four times a week—but I really do think Jack’s done well to make the best of a bad situation. How many of you bellyachers has this man bent over backwards for? How many times, whether you invited him to or not, has he bailed your assess out and pulled your scorching nutsacks from the proverbial fire?
When the boss says push a button on a guy, good old Jackie pushes the button. When the boss says take out that armored car containing kilo after glorious kilo of White Bunk, hell, man, he’s the only guy on the job don’t powder his own nose. We go way back, Jackie and me. He’s never let me down. At least, he never used to.

earth to DarthToughGuy: Up yours, DINGUS LICKER! I don’t give a holy SHIZ whts “bothering” Jack. darth, plese. the guys a expert screw up! I wus with him the other day, Freakshow started crying in the middle of Dr. Hoo. I mean, we wer just sitting there, watching Dr. Hoo, and the looser starts bawlin like a little girl! I askd him what was wrong and all, Jack just wipes his eyes and says, “watch you’re fcking Dr. Hoo! Stop asking so many stoopid fcking questions!”
Fcker totoally ruined BBC nite with THE DOCTOR! Wht a jerk! My 2 star review has been downgraded to a very pissed off 1 STAR!

Welcome to! Reinvigorate your life with a new career from JobFisher today!
Search listings for: “thug” AND “hired gun” AND “gentle heart” AND “good with children”
Searching . . .
No jobs found.

Listen here, collegegradmike, you don’t know jack about Jack!

I know he shits all ovr Dr. Hoo! Thats what I know!

I just can’t understand where my life went off the rails, diary.
Yeah, I cry. Ain’t no shame in that. Show me a guy who don’t cry at all, and I’ll show you a real cold fish. My old man never cried. Not in front of me, anyhow. I am absolutely convinced he never shed a single tear in his life, neither.
I’m drinking too much. Maybe that’s the problem. What was that country song from back in the day? Beer full’a tears or some crap? Something like that?
Don’t know. Don’t care.
Hey, I got reasons to cry, all right? I got some shit wrong with my life. And I don’t just cry every once in a while. I cry a lot. More than a lot. I cry all the damn time. I’m a wreck. I’m a time bomb. I’m a—
Hold on. Pizza’s here.
. . . . . .
You see what I mean? You see how I just demolished that entire pizza by myself? Who the fuck does that? ‘Cept fer like chicks on the rag and super fat dudes and—
Aw, man, what the fuck is wrong with me!

Incoming message from instant messaging

—Jackson, it’s your psychiatrist again. 2nd wife late on Jaguar payment. Next week not soon enough. Going to need that money from you, guy. Pay up.

Hey, collegegradmike, go fuck yourself! How ’bout that, wise-ass? Go fuck yourself, you fucking SKIN FLUTE GUZZLER!

Hey, fck you, pal! Fck you and fck you’re fcking hole lcking stupid fck face!

Really? That’s nice. Umm, how old are you?

the Fck dose it matter how fcking old I am?! Old enogh to stick a fcking candelabra up your fcking ace and lite it on fire with a fcking WWII flame throwr!

It’s too much craziness, diary. It’s too much insanity. Is a little peace and calm too hard to come by these days? Is catching just one goddamn break every now and then?
When I was kid, man, oh, I had everything figured out. I knew what the world was. Better yet, I knew who I was. How come I was so much wiser then? How come I feel so stupid now?
I’m forty-nine years old. I have no children. I have no significant other. Hell, man, most of the time I don’t even have a proper pad to crash at. I had chances to be happy. I had shots at the golden mile. But I blew ’em. Each and every last one of them. I feel ugly. I feel old. I hate myself so much it’s hard to breathe sometimes.
I guess you don’t understand.
‘Cause you’re just a stupid online diary.
And I substitute you for actual human companionship.
And I’m acting like some lovesick-puppy sixteen-year-old girl
Well that’s it. That’s decided. No more fucking around. Here we go.

Welcome to! Search listings for “entry level” AND “on-job training” AND “good with children” AND

No, no, you know what, diary?

Welcome to, the hottest spot for relationship hunting on the WWW!
Search for: “40’s-something” AND “warm personality” AND “generous spirit” AND

No, that’s not it either, diary. A chick is the last thing I need right now. I know what I have to do. I know how to get my life back on track.

First Bank of Hoboken Online Branch: consider applying for a personal loan today!
You have selected Apply for a Personal Loan. Do you wish to continue?
. . . Processing . . .
. . . Processing . . .
Personal loan approved! Congratulations, Jackson!

Doc, are you still there?
—I am
—You got my money?
Yeah, doc. Payment’ll be on your way real soon.

Welcome to!
We make people disappear, capicé?™
Search for: “Hoboken” AND “psychiatrist hit” AND “money no object” AND “make it hurt”

You know something, diary? Maybe all I need is a little house cleaning. It’s not like anybody’ll be able to trace it back to me.
It all comes around. It all comes around, man. Where you been, Jackson? Where you been hiding?
Just like that, diary, I am feeling much, much better. 🙂


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Want to be sure not to miss any “Bowlesian!” story segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it entertaining, please share.

Bowlesian! – Itsies


by Jeff Bowles

*This story and others like it can be found in my collection Brave New Multiverse, available on Amazon now.

I introduced Pamela to my itsy on our first date. Oh I know, most people wait until their second or third, but I really liked Pamela. Straight away I could tell we were going to hit it off.

“I’m glad we decided to do this,” I told her.

She narrowed her eyes, “Why is your itsy dressed like a teddy bear?”

My itsy was dressed like a teddy bear. Head to toe, fluffy ears, fluffy tail, round little tummy. It was his favorite outfit. I wasn’t going to tell him he couldn’t wear it.

Itsies aren’t really people. They look and act like people, and they definitely do have minds of their own, but they’re more like little mini extensions of ourselves, you know what I mean? Like my itsy, I call him Tug. He looks exactly like me. That’s pretty common. Itsies live on the tops of people’s heads and sleep in their hair. They spend most of the day under their hats.

My hat was off just then, sitting there on our table. I supposed Pamela wasn’t quite ready to take her own hat off.

I smiled at her, beamed at her, actually. I said to Tug, “Don’t be rude, Tug. Say hello to Pamela.”

Tug said, “Fuck yourself!”

I sighed. “Now Tug, you know I don’t like that language.”

“Fuck it! You introduce me!” His voice was high, squeaky, a shrill, keening falsetto. “You promised me cookies! Give me my cookies or I’ll eat Pamela alive!”

I sighed again, reached into my pocket to retrieve a miniature box of animal crackers. I set the crackers atop my head. Tug started noshing and gobbling. I felt a sense of calm wash over me as he did.

“Are you sure you want to keep him out like that?” said Pamela.

I glanced around the restaurant. My favorite Vietnamese place. Really good phở and bánh mì sandwiches. Rich, mouthwatering smell of seared beef and pork. Portraits on the walls of Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City. The only other customers, an old white man and an old white woman, struggled with chop sticks and rice noodles in a corner booth.

“Do you think anybody minds?” I said.

Pamela shrugged. “I don’t. Only, you know, if he eats too much his stomach is liable to explode. That sort of thing can happen, you know. He might get the wrong idea, surrounded by all this food.”

“More cookies!” said Tug.

I gave him another box of animal crackers.

“So um, Tom,” said Pamela, “how do you like working for my father?”

I met Pamela at her father’s office. High-powered advertising, ads for humans and itsies alike. I was low man on the totem pole. I’d stared at Pamela’s picture on his desk for months before I actually saw her in person. Those deep brown eyes, those full, pouty lips.

I sat there studying her face and caught myself imagining waterfalls, thunderstorms, exploding geysers. Things wet. Things loud and gushing.

“Tom wants to fuck you,” said Tug.


“It’s true, Tom. You’re not fooling anyone. Hey lady, how many cookies you think I can fit in my mouth?”

“I … I don’t know,” said Pamela.

“A fistful. That’s how many. Watch.”

Then Tug made more noshing, gobbling sounds. I felt another wave of calm wash over me, even though I knew my face must’ve been five shades redder.

“Pamela, listen …”

“It’s okay, Tom,” she said. “If human beings were any good at saying what they really want, God never would have given us itsies to begin with.”

“I guess so.”

“And I’m flattered.”

“You are?”

Pamela sighed. “Well you know, my father being who he is. Most guys just pine for me and never bother to ask me out. Oh, I hope I didn’t sound full of myself just then. They pine. They just do, you know?”

“I do know,” I said.

She shook her head. “So either I don’t get dates at all, or I get to date the really crazy ones who think their tiny little men are God’s gift.”

“I don’t think my tiny little man is God’s gift. I’m nothing special. He isn’t anything special, either. My tiny little man’s only a few inches tall. He’s so tiny–“

“We are still talking about your itsy, right?” said Pamela.

“The point, Pam, is that even though I’ve got a few shortcomings, whatever the cost, whatever it takes, I made the decision to always be brave and to be the kind of man I am meant to be.”

“Hmm. I like that. When did you make that decision?”



“I decided it the moment I laid eyes on you.”

Pamela smiled. “That’s sweet.”

* * * * *

I didn’t know it at the time, but Pamela was a very unhappy woman. She hadn’t always been. She was sunny when she was younger, the most positive person in the room. Just lately, as the years had begun to mount up, and forty was suddenly closer than thirty, failed relationship after failed relationship had left her feeling damaged, marooned, poisonous and poisoned

She’d gotten into feeding her itsy late night snacks. Our little men and our little women don’t come with instruction manuals. God gave them to us. Or evolution or whatever. We come screaming from the womb. Our itsies come screaming after. If God did it, it was because he understood men and women are masters of self-deception. If it was evolution, then nature randomly selected humans to have a miniature rude version of themselves camped out on the tops of their heads.

Anyway, bad things happen when you feed itsies late night snacks. Pamela knew this. Even so, cold fried chicken, piece for her, piece for her itsy. Double pepperoni, double cheese pizza. Everything double. She was ordering for two, after all.

Thing about feeding an itsy is, it makes you feel better. Makes you calmer, tames the beast. They are the id. The inner child which dwells deep inside, that which is never at peace, always lusting, always wanting more and more and more.

* * * * *

We ate our meals. We talked and joked. At some point Tug said, “It’s half past a baboon’s bright red ass.” And we both knew it was time to go home.

On the sidewalk, we hugged.

“I had a nice time,” I said.

“Yeah, me too,” Pamela replied.

“You mean it?”

She laughed. “I do mean it.”

“Walk you to your car?”


Brown and yellow leaves crunched beneath our feet as we huddled together and crossed to the sidewalk. A harvest moon shone high above the tops of buildings. It was autumn in the city. A cold breeze blew and Pamela scrunched herself down into her Barbour jacket.

“I’m glad you asked me out, Tom,” she said.

“Yeah, me too. Would you like to do it again?”

“I would.”

“I know this great Greek place over on–Oh my god, that woman is crushing that car!”


“Over there! The parking lot! That woman is–“

“Oh, shit.”

“–crushing that car and she’s–“

“That’s no woman, Tom,” said Pamela

“It isn’t?!” I exclaimed.

Tug rustled around under my ball cap. “Let me see!”

“Petunia!” Pamela shrieked. “I told you to stay at home!”

Petunia? Dear Lord. She was eight feet tall and had more muscles than human beings are supposed to have. Only she wasn’t a human being. Thigh muscles, neck muscles, rippling biceps, triceps, sheening and glossy, bare breasts of muscle, even her head seemed like it was one big, veiny, throbbing muscle.

“Oh Tom, what you must think of me.” Pamela said.

“She’s crushing that car.”

“That’s my car.”

“And she is way too big for that pair of underwear.”

“That’s my underwear, too. Oh Tom, I am so embarrassed.”

Petunia looked like Pamela coated in liquid Schwarzenegger. She was lying on her side on top of the car, eating a chicken. Not a piece of chicken. Not a cooked chicken, either. Petunia was stuffing a whole live chicken into her face. It clucked and screamed and fought like a little chicken champ.

Petunia bellowed, “Down the hatch!” And then, the chicken disappeared.

Pamela ran to her.

“Bad girl, Petunia!” she said. “That’s a bad, bad girl!”

Petunia belched and grew a whole foot taller. Pamela’s car crunched and all four tires popped.

Pop! Pop, pop, pop!

Big Petunia made a queasy face. “Was that me? I think that was me.”

“No it wasn’t you!” said Pamela. “If it was you, the shockwave would’ve killed us all!”

My mouth hung open. My eyes were wide like Vietnamese noodle bowls.

I heard Tug say, “Damnit, man, let me see her!”

The ball cap popped off my head. Tug gasped.

“That’s a whole lotta woman!” His tiny hands and feet dug into my scalp.

I stooped, grabbed my hat, and made my way to Pamela and nudged her with an arm.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “Why are you wearing your hat if you left your itsy at home?”

Pamela shook her head. Her eyes glistened in the harsh orange neon light. “Oh Tom, I am just so ashamed. I fed her and fed her, and she just ate and ate, and she hasn’t stopped eating, not in weeks. I just wanted to feel good for a damn change.”

“Weeks?” I said. “You’ve been feeding her for weeks?”

Pamela wiped her eyes. “I know you think I’m this awesome person. I know everybody thinks that. I’m just not.”

“Pamela …” I said. I wrapped her in a hug.

Petunia rose onto her knees, car metal creaking and glass shattering to sparkling pellets. She grimaced at me, pointed one long veiny finger. “Hey you! Lover boy! Hands off the merchandise!”

“Me?” I said.

“Did I fucking stutter? You! You wormy little bedsheet stain! You and your miniscule, worthless, man-doll of an itsy!”

Tug shrieked. “She means me! She knows I exist! How do I look? Is my teddy bear costume on straight?”

“Petunia, stop,” said Pamela. “I’m sorry, Tom. She’s a bit roided-out at the moment.”

“Roided-out!” said Petunia. “You ain’t seen me roided-out. Not yet, sister.”

She hopped to her feet and stepped off Pamela’s car. Thud. She dwarfed us. My eyes were level with her enormous, erect, inch-long nipples. Big Petunia took her head in her hands. She cracked her neck left, cracked it right. She slammed her fist into her palm. Again. Again. It made a loud, solid thocking sound. Thock. Thock. Thock.

I stared at that fist. I was dumbstruck. Couldn’t think of a word to say. Pamela pulled away from me. Her eyes darted from me to Petunia. Nobody said a thing. Just that heavy thock, thock, thock.

“Gah!” said Tug. “I can’t take it anymore! Do it! I need to see you in action!”

“Tug,” I said, “you’re not helping.”

“Not trying to help, you human gutter ball! God, I need to see you in action. Oh, it’s killing me!”

“Killing you?” said Petunia. “Little man, down the hatch you go.”

She plucked Tug off my head, clutched his body between a massive finger and a mighty thumb.

“No, don’t!” screamed Pamela.

But it was too late. Petunia ate Tug. Swallowed him whole. Gulp and then, he was gone.

“Now it’s your turn, lover boy!” she said.

She took hold of my arm and lifted me up by it until we were mouth to mouth and eyelash to eyelash.

I’m not going to lie. Fear took hold and I thought I might cry or scream or piss my pants. But instead, I took a moment and told myself a few choice words. You decided to always be brave. The moment you laid eyes on Pamela, you decided to be the man you were meant to be.

I hocked a wad of phlegm and spat in Petunia’s eye. She wiped it away, glared at me, then grinned.

“Mistake number two, lover boy,” she said.

Pamela beat against her, slamming impotent fists at her itsy’s taut, flexing abdominal muscles. She kept screaming, “You monster! You monster!” But Petunia paid her no attention. Her eyes cooked me like sliced beef in scalding-hot Vietnamese broth. Breath stinking like rotten chicken corpses and little itsy men.

“You listen here,” she said. “No man is good enough for my Pam. No man, not nowhere, not no-how. You don’t think I know what you are, lover boy? You don’t think I know you’ll hurt her like all the rest?”

Pamela was shrieking now. “Stop! I said stop it!”

“She feeds me so she’ll be happy,” said Petunia, cheeks red and quivering with barely suppressed rage. “She feeds me so pukes like you can’t touch her no more. I am going to eat you now. And you are going to let me do it. I like my meat raw. I like it tenderized.”

“Stop making threats,” I said. “If you’re going to eat me, go on and–“

She wrapped her arm around my waist. She wound me up, and then she threw me clear across the parking lot.

I was airborne. A million thoughts occurred at once.

No more id.

No more inner child.

God, he was a rotten little itsy.

God, he was just awful, wasn’t he?

Yeah, but he was my rotten little–

I crashed through the plate glass window of the ticket booth at the end of the parking lot.

I went through up to my waist. My legs caught on the glass. I felt a knifing kind of pain. Lacerations. The feeling of being cut to pieces. I screamed.

Petunia stomped over to the booth. She stuck her head through the window. “Oh, you big baby! It’s just a scratch.”

But I could see blood, and I could feel that knifing, that gouging, those lacerations.

“Big baby! Big baby!” she said. “You want to cry? I’ll give you something to cry about.”

She reached through and clamped a hand down over my head. Bam! She slammed my head against the concrete floor. Blam! She did it again. Boom! One more time.

I saw stars and moons and clucking chickens taking flight, flying like real birds, all around my head. And I saw my itsy, poor little Tug. I saw chicken beaks biting into him. Saw chicken teeth chomping on his little brains.

I mumbled, “Chicken teeth.”

Petunia leaned further into the booth. “Huh?”

“Do … chickens … have teeth?”

“Don’t think so, champ.” And then Petunia broke my arm.


I howled and spat and spoke in tongues.

Pamela crept up behind Petunia. She jabbed at her with a tire iron.

“You leave my man alone!” she said.

She used the prying crowbar end like a mafia hitman might use an icepick, sliding it into Petunia’s ear. Seemed like Pamela was trying to scramble her itsy’s brains. Then again, it also seemed like the world was falling away from me and growing browner and browner and more and more like nap time yes into the sticky syrup, captain I soiled myself I apologize most sincerely must be dying, please sew my coffin from clean undies.

The brain scrambling thing didn’t work. Petunia wrenched the tire iron from her ear. It was coated in blood, but the big girl was still on her feet.

“Pamela!” she said. “Oh, so we’re calling him your man now?”

Petunia backhanded her. Pamela flew from view.

“I have had it with you, Pam,” Petunia bellowed. “I have absolutely had it! Shit! Fuck it! Let’s eat!”

She tore off my shoe, my sock, and then she stuck my whole foot in her mouth. She bit down. Took a few toes.

It didn’t hurt like I expected. In fact, I felt kind of good. Yes, suddenly, inexplicably, very comfortable and very calm. The face she made was indecipherable. Maybe it was all the glistening muscles. It was the kind of expression a person wears when they’re concentrating really hard. Or maybe the kind of expression a person wears when they drink too much soda and have surgery, bubbly-pain like diving ocean deep and emerging with the bends. She made that face, then she spat the rest of my foot out.

“Oh,” she said, and then again, “Oh.”

Blood dripped from the corner of her mouth.

She said, “Oh.”

And then her stomach exploded. Blood, guts, muscles, chickens, it all burst out like a cheap New Year’s popper loaded with Halloween gore.


And it splattered me like sopping red confetti.

A tiny voice said, “See? You see that? Ate too much. You gotta watch that, sister.”

Petunia slumped against the ticket booth. A little man, my little man, emerged from the carnage-crater that was her stomach.

“Tug?” I said.

Petunia’s dead, twitching eyes stared right at me.

“Yeah, boss?” Tug ate a chunk of something small and pink. He was covered in blood, a few inches taller than when Petunia had swallowed him. His teddy bear suit had ripped and popped its seams.

“Stop eating,” I mumbled.

“Yeesh, boss, you look rough.”

“Stop eating. For God’s sake, stop eating.”

“Huh? Why the hell should I stop? It’s delicious. That girl was well fed, man.”

Every time he took a bite, I felt it, that calmness and warmth. It was nice. Felt better than the pain. Even so, I mumbled, “Tug, you have got to stop eating.”

I was powerless to stop him. Couldn’t move. I was bleeding to death and I knew it.

“Well maybe I don’t want to stop,” said Tug. “Maybe I’m sick to death of taking orders from you. Yeah, you know what? I think we need a regime change. I think I ought to be the one calling the–“

Pamela snatched the chunk of Petunia from his hands and smacked him upside the head.

“Don’t be stupid,” she said.

“Hey, I was eating that!”

She smacked him again.

“And don’t talk back. I’ve had enough of disobedient itsies to last a lifetime.”

Tug shouted, “Who the hell do you think you–“

She smacked him.

“Goddamnit, quit smacking me!”

She raised her hand for another.

“All right! All right!” he said. “Nasty woman! Nasty!”

“Go get in my car. The crushed one. Bring me my cell phone. We need to call an ambulance. Treat you like I should’ve treated her.”

Tug grumbled and swore, but he obeyed nonetheless. Once he was gone, Pamela carefully picked her way over the broken glass, past the ruined, bloody form of her former itsy, and through the window until she was crouching beside me.

“Oh Tom,” she said. “I am so sorry.”

“S’okay,” I said.

“No, it’s not okay. I created a monster. Oh what a mess. Tom, I am so, so sorry.”

“Yer’kay?” I said.

“What? I didn’t hear you.”

“Asked r’you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

“Itser’s dead.”

Pamela sighed. “I know. I feel kind of empty now. No, that’s not right. I feel full. Way, way too full. Like I’ve got all this emotion now and I don’t know where to put it, how to choke it down. You know what I mean?”

“No,” I said.

“Tom? Stay with me, now. Keep your eyes open. Tom, you’ve earned your second date.”

Eyelids were heavy. I tried to smile at her, but it was so hard, so hard.

“S’cond date?”

“That’s right, Tom. Second date. Just survive for me, okay?”




I survived. Of course I did. How else would I be telling you this story? I underwent months of hospitalization and rehab and all that stuff. Learning to cope with fewer toes and all. All that horrible hospital food really made me slim down. Tug slimmed down, too. He got regular-sized again. We had a nice long talk about why it’s okay to eat animal crackers but not okay to, for instance, eat whole live chickens or people’s internal organs.

I had my second date with Pamela. And my third and fourth. She’s not the same since her itsy died. She’s tense, a bundle of nerves. She goes to this support group now for people whose itsies have died prematurely. Sometimes it seems like it helps. Sometimes not. There’s a whole population of people in this world who no longer have the means to quell and suppress the pain in their lives. You know what she said while we were snuggling on the couch the other night?

“I feel so horrible all the time now. How do I cope without her?”

“How any of us copes,” I said. “You’ve got me now. I’ll be your itsy if you need me to be.”

She smiled at me. “My Dad was right about you. He said that Tom guy, he’s a good one, Pam. You should hang on to that guy.”

“Smart man. Brilliant, actually.”

We leaned in for a deep kiss.

Tug hopped off my head and started kicking at Pamela’s scalp.

“No kissing! Last time you kissed him, you didn’t put out! I will eat you. Do you hear me? I will eat you alive!”

Pamela flicked him across the room. I didn’t do anything about it. Kissing Pam was so much better than feeding the id.


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

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