The Dissectionist – Lena Ng
The Congress of Familiars –David Turnbull
Night Creeps – Chris Rodriguez
Halloween Dream - Dorothy Davies
Mortaki – Dan Allen
Darkness Follows – Carie Juettner
Collecting Treats – Daniel L Naden
Masklore –Michael H Hanson
Night of the Goblins - Kevin Jones
Once In A Blue Moon – Diane Arrelle
A Graveyard Haunting – Stuart Holland
Legride and the Matter of the
Ripper Murders - Scott Harper
Vengeful Spirits – Olivia Arietti
All Hallow’s Eve – Rie Sheridan Rose
Halloween Again – Wondra Vanian
Whispering Wood – Wendy Lynn Newton
50% Halloween – Dorothy Davies
When Your Skin Is On The Pumpkin – Dona Fox
room was cool, the fire burning low in the hearth, with a bare concrete floor
and bare plaster walls. The acrid smell of formaldehyde. The rolling trolley.
His tools shiny, sharpened, laid out on the workman’s bench: a handsaw,
scalpels of various sizes, forceps, scissors. The dissectionist,
burley and broad, wearing his leather apron, stood at the width of the body
table. The skritch of the knives.
loose arm hung over the table’s edge, anticipating, only slightly mottled, the
red of the veins chilled into blue, like delicate branches on a dead tree. The
skin was cold, icing into rigidity, grey; the eyes earth brown, muddy and
corpse monger stood at the door frame, waiting for his coin. “Fresh from the
garden,” he said. “Poor one, planted only yesterday. Unnamed, in an unmarked
grave. No one will miss him.”
what you said last time.” The dissectionist’s
graveyard voice could make any man’s skin crawl.
corpse monger shrugged. “Should have guessed he had a long-lost cousin. They
come out of the woodwork at the smell of money.” He shifted his weight from leg
to leg. The night waned and there would be more bodies to be gained if he were
on his way.
dissectionist scrutinized the body with an expert
eye. It was a nice specimen. No visible injuries, despite the pool of blood
settling on the back. No outward deformities, although they would make good
teaching examples for the medical students. The linen shroud had kept the
insects at bay.
reached into a pocket and counted some coins. “A discount from last time. And
next time, I want a woman. I’ll pay a premium for one.” The money exchanged
corpse monger accepted the payment with a curdled expression, but made no
argument. The last body had put both their livelihoods at risk. The dissectionist was also a dependable customer with whom he’d
done much business over the years. He
grumbled under his breath and disappeared back into the night.
dissectionist began with a broad cut down the length
of the body, beginning at the neck, and ending down the full length of the
torso. He slowly cut away the five major organs—the lungs, liver, kidneys,
brain (after a short time sawing into the skull), and heart—from the connective
tissue, preserving segments of the highways of veins and arteries routing into
the structure, before placing each into a jar of preserving fluid. He worked
down from the major organs to the smaller ones—such as the pancreas and
gallbladder—until all seventy-eight organs rested in glass. Hours passed and
the darkness of night gave way to the grey of early morning. The labelling and
routing of the jars would be the next night’s work, along with the preparation
of the skeleton. The dissectionist removed his
leather apron, put out the fire, washed his hands, and locked up.
dissectionist trudged home through the empty streets,
then through the dew-dampened fields to his lonely cottage. The interior was
gloomy. No wood burning in the fireplace. No warm woman with a smile of
welcome. Usually, he enjoyed the quiet solitude, but today for some reason, it
felt empty. Some corner of his heart ached. He made himself a humble meal of
cheese and stale bread, washed down with a mug of watery ale. Afterwards, he
curled onto a cot and fell into sleep.
one was a beauty. Thick waves of mahogany hair. Unmarked skin like parchment.
Thin from the ravages of consumption. Dead eyes, of course, but the colour of a
corpse monger’s liver-coloured lips stretched out in glee. “A nice one, no?
Saved it especially for you. What do you think?”
dissectionist stood as though stunned into silence.
Her beauty, so fleeting, must be preserved. As promised, he paid the corpse
monger double as premium. With his morbid smile lingering, the corpse monger
went on his way.
organs were small and slight, the lungs black from disease. The dissectionist removed all but the heart, which he left
nestled in the body, and the eyes which he injected with formaldehyde. The
empty cavity of her torso, he filled with sawdust and wood shavings.
opened a trapdoor in the corner of the workhouse, gathered the body and carried
her down the creaking stairs. He wrapped her in linen and placed her in a
sand-filled coffin, covering her remains. He had tinkered with the ventilation
of the room and hoped this time the drying process would take and her body
waited four weeks before checking back on the body. The results were beyond
what he thought could be believed. She looked almost the same as the day he had
received her, though there was some gauntness to the cheeks, some thinning of
the lips. The linen shroud and internal sand had absorbed the body fluids which
would have led to decay. It was now time to take her home.
was so small, she could be folded into a duffle bag. He carried her body back
to his home. The clothes he chose for her were too large; his first wife was
big-boned and full-fleshed and had sewed their clothing with care and he had a
full wardrobe for his new bride’s needs. He propped her in a chair as he ate
his meal. Afterward it felt strange, since it had been three years, to have
another body in the bed. He smelled her hair as he wrapped his arms around her
and his breath deepened into dreams.
his dream, his new bride was dressed in her white wedding gown. He bowed and
she curtsied. In the otherwise empty ballroom, they began a wedding waltz. The
room spun around and around. Their feet left the floor and they danced like
marionettes in mid-air, as though in an invisible music box. He ignored the
shadows in the corners.
evening came, before he left for work, he picked flowers from the garden, large
rose blooms he placed on his new wife’s lap. His first wife’s body had
well-fertilized the land. It was an accident, he assured himself. He didn’t
mean to. He would ensure he would treat this new wife with more care. This wife
at least would be silent, which would lead to no arguments. His dormant heart
awoke into joy.