“Passing Grade” is a PseudoPod original.
“The Killing Machine” has never been formally published before, but an edited version was presented at the 2nd Open Reading for Beijing Writers, which is a small quarterly event open to anyone in the Beijing area who writes creatively, in any form. “When we are guilty of evil, do we deserve empathy? When we are victims of evil, are we capable of feeling empathy for those who have harmed us? Just how much punishment is too much? Where exactly do we draw the line between justice and cruelty?”
“Awaiting Redemption” was bought by the Horror World web site. “People can claim a religious faith but use it strictly as a cover for their own cruelty (that has nothing to do with their religion).”
by Paul DesCombaz
This wasn’t cutesy time. You don’t get personal with the bad things coming for you. You don’t make sweet talk to nightmares. Just make it through to the other end. That’s your only job. Or something along those lines.
“The Killing Machine”
by Karen Runge
Wake. The day is clean, white and waiting. Don’t look back on the things that happened yesterday, don’t think about what will happen later. Think for a moment about the life you lived before. Say your prayer of repentance before you get out of bed. Allow yourself to feel your guilt, savour it inside of you. It is yours, now. It belongs to you.
by Maurice Broaddus
Serving was her religious duty, he told her, though she was too impure to read the Qur’an for herself. She knew his kind. For him religion was a tool he re-shaped into his own image to vent his cruelty and hate. He probably knew less of the Qu’ran than she did. His dagger sliced her Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl XLIII 2009 Champions shirt, still stiff with dried blood. Wearing only her Nike running shoes, one size too small, she lowered her head, not allowed to cover herself. He touched her in a familiar way, but she would not taste shame no matter how he tried to force feed it to her. She never hid her scars. They told the story of who she was, a map to her soul.
About the Authors
MAURICE BROADDUS’ dark fiction has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and web sites, and he’s the author of the urban fantasy series, THE KNIGHTS OF BRETON COURT. He has been a teaching artist for over five years, teaching creative writing to elementary, middle, and high school students as well as adults. You can visit his site at MauriceBroaddus.com. His anthology, DARK FAITH: INVOCATIONS, has just been released from Apex Books. His KNIGHTS OF BRETON COURT trilogy has been released as an omnibus from Angry Robot books.
KAREN RUNGE is a South African who has been living in China since 2008. She was first formally published in the South African Science Fiction and Horror magazine, ‘Something Wicked’ in 2007, twice in the South African ezine ‘iBhuku’ and she is a huge fan of the horror genre in all the forms it takes. Another short story of hers, ‘When Layla Wakes’, recently appeared in issue 17 (May-June) of Horrorbound. When she has trouble writing, she usually tries to paint.
PAUL DesCOMBAZ lives in Saint Paul, MN. “Passing Grade” is his second sale.
About the Narrators
Eve Upton is huddled in the darkness of the cupboard. She appears to be scratching words into the floor. Upon closer inspection, they say: nolite the bastardes carborundorum.
Kyle Akers is a voice actor from Kansas City, Missouri. He has contributed to podcasts like Pseudopod, Chilling Tales for Dark Nights, and NoSleepPodcast. He also produces and performs in his own improv podcast called “The Counselor.” Prior to voice acting, Kyle toured the country as a professional musician, singing and playing bass guitar for the electro-pop band Antennas Up, which enjoyed success through several national television show placements and commercials. Since then, Kyle has dabbled in long-form improv and audio production while performing weekend gigs with Kansas City cover band The Magnetics.
Laurice White is a recent theater graduate and long time theater student, and has read stories for Podcastle, Pseudopod, and most recently for John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey on The End is Nigh and The End is Now, the first two volumes of The Apocalypse Triptych.