Fiction
Incendiary
Grimley Bogue
Butter Pat Babies
Steve Rasnic Tem
Preamble
KJ Hannah Greenberg
Stockholm Syndrome
Lucy Mihajlich
Painting
Sayuri Yamada
Konfessin Mouser K.
AE Reiff

Excerpts
Hellbender
Jason Jack Miller
The Blood Poetry
Leland Pitts-Gonzalez
My Hands Were Clean
Tom Bradley
The Tumors
Matthew Revert

Butter Pat Babies
Steve Rasnic Tem


The panic evolved as quickly as an unexpected change in the weather. At the family reunion that year it seemed almost every couple in attendance had a new baby. Dozens of the wiggling little cherubs, all of them resembling one another, created a constant background of wet sighs and small, distracted cries. Seeking some small portion of adult conversation they’d asked for volunteers to keep the babies happy in another room. Cousin Irving and four women had tentatively raised their hands. Babies were bundled, stroked, soothed, and relocated. Adult activity slowly wore away the afternoon.

One of the aunts was the first to fire off a tentative suggestion of trouble. A disappointing discussion ensued, peppered as it was by doubt, reassurance, innuendo, and mild recrimination. Then one of the female volunteers was found in a corner gnawing a greasy chicken leg. Another female volunteer stepped out of the crowd by the dessert table, admitting she’d never even left the room. The two remaining women weren’t in evidence, presumed to be in fact busily babysitting, but the oldest uncle had a vague memory he might have seen them leave early, crossing the broad front lawn hand-in-hand.

The low rumble of discontent might have remained contained if not for old Abigail’s sudden explosion of tears. En masse the family gathering rose and headed for the door. Out in the hall they could not agree where the children were being kept. Cousin Amos was sure the music room had been the designated location, but Aunt May pointed out with considerable disdain that the damn house didn’t even have a damn music room. Billy John suggested the giant walk-in pantry, and it was to that space they all marched inside, and although it was obviously empty they remained a few moments intoxicated by the smell.

Eventually all the relations bunched together outside the door to the old family room, for decades now as unused as the family’s good sense. The two biggest cousins put shoulder to wood and the family tide poured over the threshold.

At the center of the room Cousin Irving slept curled up in a high-backed chair, his open mouth dripping butter like liquid gold. Piled on the floor around him lay all the family babies, some of them identically curled, some of them stretched out like lazy sunbathers, some of them twisted into the letter-shapes of an unknown yet exquisitely compelling alphabet.

All their mouths had fallen open dripping gold.

It required but a moment to register the identical outfits they all wore, Cousin Irving included: matching cinnamon-colored nightgowns and old-fashioned frilly nightcaps, and the pattern spreading like a firmament of stars across the material, a constellation of delicious yellow melting butter pats.


Steve Rasnic Tem's 200+ published works have garnered him a British Fantasy Award, a World Fantasy Award, and a nomination for the Bram Stoker Award. In 2013, Chomu Press will publish Onion Songs, which includes some of the best examples of his absurdist short fiction. He lives in Colorodo with his wife Melanie Tem, a horror and dark fantasy author, and their three kids.