But a Wrinkle in Time: The Latest Viral Image

By Roman Nokoff

The Internet has been abuzz about a curious new picture that surfaced late last week. Like The Dress and the Yanny or Laurel meltdowns before it, this photo is inspiring some heated water cooler debate. Within seconds of being posted, it went viral (duh!) and now the American people have weighed in on what it is.

In keeping with the divisive nature of our country’s current climate, nobody can seem to agree on it, one way or another.

40% say it’s a picture of a really old tree that’s been cruelly cut down by Eco-terrorists before a woodpecker pecked at its center.

10% believe it is a distorted image created for the cover of the next Nine Inch Nails album, Without Teeth.

Another 40% say it’s just a butthole.

But curiously, social justice warriors believe it is a picture of the wrinkle in time in which we are living and the small shaft of hope promised to us by the extraterrestrial elders of Earth II…a shaft of hope they say is fast closing due to our scarring of the planet.

Here is the image and the odd message which accompanied it on an unverified Instagram account:

The message reads, “Eat it and you’ll never go hungry. Love, The Raspberry Goatee.”

While many in the community are writing this off as just another passing obsession designed to distract from current world affairs, some say it is a death knell. An anonymous day trader told us that his stocks have plummeted in the wake of the image being posted online.

“All my shit ain’t worth shit,” he said. “It’s all going to shit.”


During a man on the street survey, I encountered a junkie outside a bodega who had soiled his trousers and was staring at them forlornly. I showed him the image and asked him what he made of it. All he would say was “It ain’t Yanny or Laurel, it’s Gary! And that’s clearly the dying shaft of light offered to us by the ever-impatient elders.”

I turned to my friends at a local marketing research firm for help and they said that they had collected the opinions of no less than 100,000 people. The results were inconclusive. Chances were largely in favor of it being a tree stump, but some people thought it could be a sign of an imminent extraterrestrial rapture.

Never one to dig my heels in, I decided a more thorough investigation was necessary. After flying 9,497 miles to the remote headquarters of the Wu Institute for Educational Ascension in the rainforest of Borneo, I met with the institute’s Chief Research Director, Mr. Seymour Haze.

The following is a full transcript of our talk.


Roman Nokoff: Pretty perplexing, isn’t it?

Seymour Haze: No, that’s definitely a butthole.

How can you be so sure?

Because I’ve seen one before? Der! [yells to assistant across the room] Is this guy for real?

Why are you so positive? Have you looked at a lot of pictures of buttholes?

[At this point in the interview, our recording equipment registered a noticeable spike in Mr. Haze’s tone of voice. The interview subject grew agitated and defensive]

Whoa! Hey now.

I’m just trying to understand, we’re all trying to understand. What qualifies you to say that this is, in fact, a butthole? Your role at the institute is to research the human anus?

Hey, who’s saying it’s a human? I’m certainly not.

Could you tell the difference if it wasn’t?

I would like to think I could, yeah.

Studied a lot of anuses?


Is that what they pay you for? To look at pictures of anuses all day?

Stop saying anus. Look–

It’s quite alright, Mr. Haze. Our readers would just like to know if you are the world’s leading expert on the opening of the alimentary canal.


What kind of pictures are you looking at, Mr. Haze? I see a lot of windows open on your computer.

Certainly not at work, that’s preposterous!

Well, they can’t all be tree stumps, can they now?

No! They’re not!


Stop it!


I said stop it!

Anus! Anus! Anus!

Okay!! I watch a lot of BangBros videos! I just watched one of pornstar Phoenix Marie, alright?! She was blowing a high heel using only her asshole! Okay?! Jesus! Give me a break! This is a high pressure job! Before you judge me, why don’t you ask the CEO about how he likes large women to choke him out and make fun of his penis! I’m not a bad guy.

Of course you’re not, Mr. Haze. But you are a butthole expert, aren’t you?

[Subject clears his throat and adjusts his lapel. He sits up straight, suddenly mustering a sense of confidence and decorum.]

Yes. Yes, I am. And I can tell you with absolute certainty that this image is one of a human butthole. Judging from the wrinkles, I would place the model’s age between 29 and 34. I also suspect that she recently had her period.

Absolute certainty.

Absolute certainty. This is definitely not a picture of a wrinkle in time or a shaft of hope dwindling before an extraterress–

[Loud, metallic scratching noises and a terrible clatter muffles the distant sound of screaming before the doors are ripped off their hinges.]


That was the last we ever heard from Mr. Haze and the last the world ever heard of the Butthole Intrigue. The image appears to have been scrubbed from the Internet.

No, it hasn’t. What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.

What were we talking about?

I feel calm, I am not at all distressed. Everything is right in the world.

Buy Alien Kum. It’s got 28 amino acids and it’s sick as fuck!


Bob Freville is the co-editor of Silent Motorist Media. A writer and filmmaker from Long Island, NY, he is the author of the urban crime novella “Battering the Stem” (Bizarre Pulp Press), the short story collection “The Network People” (Psychedelic Horror Press) and the political satire “Celebrity Terrorist Sex Bomb” (Bizarro Pulp Press). Freville’s horror-art film “Hemo” is available from Troma Team Releasing. Send him dirty pictures or death threats at: intrepidaspirationsllc@gmail.com

Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes Album Review

Band: A Forest of Stars
Album: Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes
Country of Origin: UK
Release Date: 28 September 2018
Genre: Melodic black metal/folk/experimental
Label: Prophecy Productions

Oh my! What’s happening? Is it possible? Can it really be… a metal cousin of Current 93? In a lot of ways, yes.

Needless to say, I’m jumping for joy here. There’s something about the rustic, apocalyptic folk and wailing, a-tonal vocals of Current 93 that simply makes it an excellent fit for the metal world. A Forest of Stars accomplishes this crossover with a highly individual and creative flair that I can’t praise enough.

2018’s Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes is a pure fucking gem. “Precipice Pirouette” thunders into existence with a cascade of riffing that wants to evoke black metal, but retains a core focus on a noisy, almost folk-like melodic drone that seems a bit too expressive for comparison to bands like Mayhem. Burzum would probably be closer, sans the electronics. Five minutes in (yes, the song is a ten minute behemoth, and that’s a good thing. If you lack the patience or enthusiasm to weather a sonic performance that takes less time than it does to mow the fucking lawn, steer clear of A Forest of Stars… or any other band I review here, for that matter) things slow down to a idyllic folk passage–one that really feels like european “folk,” i.e., simple, melodic, and haunting. The result is just… awesome.

Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes is a lushly layered, expertly crafted, and utterly relistenable work of wonder. Descriptions are totally worthless without comparison, so I’ll cite Menace Ruine here. The resemblance is apparent, but A Forest of Stars’ overall product is totally unique. A very distinct stylistic originality keeps the album from falling into the ever-growing dollar bin of “Great Instances of Unfortunately Rehashed Concepts.” A Forest of Stars is breaking new ground here, and any metal fanatic knows how fucking rare an event this is.

I’m listening to the melodramatic spoken-word interlude on “Tombward Bound” right now, just wondering how the hell I missed out on these guys before. I’ll be looking forward to purchasing a hard copy of this release in September, and you should too. If your a Current 93 or Sol Invictus fan who happens to love metal, you have no choice; you must pick this up. To those who like their metal with a heavy dose of weirdness but in a way that remains entirely listenable, make sure you don’t miss out either.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Why Mainstream Horror is Still Dead and Won’t Become a Zombie Anytime Soon

by Zakary McGaha

A ton of horror fiction fans are currently optimistic. They’re saying we’re due for another horror boom…you know, like the one in Paperbacks from Hell.

Well, I’ve said on multiple occasions in private, and I’ll say it again now: this isn’t going to happen. Nothing is going to bring back the mass-market flood. “But,” they say, “like, Halloween is coming out, and this one’s, like, more important. It’s really about PTSD! Horror has gotten smarter! Also, Stranger Things is really popular! That has to bleed into books!”

Yeah, this new Halloween is going to be about Michael Myers going after Laurie Strode again, and it’s probably going to be awesome, but it’s not going to be smart…at least not in the way you’d be led to believe by trendy people.

Millennials may answer, “Yes, I read,” on surveys, and they may all act like they enjoy smart things, but they don’t.

But I’m a college graduate,” they yell. It’s also easy to skate through college lit courses using internet summaries.

My point is, the demand for a diverse selection of fiction isn’t there these days, as evidenced by publishers and bookstores folding or getting lamer left and right, but the current young-person demographic will never admit that they don’t care while simultaneously claiming they read more than they look at social media.

Assuming my way of thinking is correct for the purpose of this article, does that mean there’s not a demand for a lot of cookie-cutter books that are either a) written by Stephen King, b) literary classics or c) on one of those best-seller lists old people care about?

Answer: no. Adult books falling into those categories still keep publishers and stores alive, but there’s no mid-list. There are no racks spilling over with the newest mass-market releases you can get for cheap. Go big or go home.

You may be wondering where I was going with my reference to Halloween and how it’s part of the new wave of SMART horror films…or isn’t. Well, “supposedly smart” (meaning either it presents itself as being more than it really is, or it’s overtly political in the left-leaning sense; in other words, it’s a gimmick) is trendy these days.

As mentioned above, it somehow compliments 80s horror nostalgia. These things, however, don’t equal NEW HORROR BOOM when added (doubly so for fiction). Sadly, they only equal an increase in revenue for Halloween, any movie that’s 80s-nostalgic or is a remake of a horror classic, Stephen King’s books and, maybe, the works of a couple fiction writers who unashamedly jump on the bandwagon…but they’re the exception.

Millennials aren’t going to be interested in this trend long enough to buy the products and pay the bills of writers they haven’t heard of. Sorry.

That being said…you probably think I hate 80s stuff, don’t you? Well, no. I don’t! I LOVE 80s stuff. I own close to (maybe over) a hundred Zebra novels. Yeah, if you read Paperbacks from Hell, you know what those are.

Back in the 80s, a publisher like Zebra could thrive. People actually read back then, and it was possible for publishers to lazily float along with authors no one knew of or cared about.

Some of my favorite Zebra titles are Celia by Ruby Jean Jensen, Toy Cemetery by William W. Johnstone, and Rockabye Baby by Stephen Gresham. None of these books were intellectually or stylistically heightened, but they all focused on a central component of the human spirit: story.

Celia was an intense tale of a mother and her children on the run from an abusive father/husband…who may or may not be a literal fucking monster. There’s also a ghost in there, but I don’t want to talk about that. Just go read it.

Rockabye Baby is about a guy who pretends to be crippled, then dresses up as a nurse, then walks around the woods to find kids to kill. It gets very cheesy when the supernatural element comes into play, but it’s fun nonetheless. Plus, the ending was surprisingly bitter.

Toy Cemetery differs from the previous two titles in that it’s, quite possibly, the most batshit crazy horror novel ever written that wasn’t trying to be bizarro. Describing it is sort of hard.

It’s got the stereotypical Vietnam veteran who turns out to be a complete bad ass, and it fits well in the cannon of “small town horror”…as each of these three titles do…but the craziness comes into play once you start figuring out which supernatural bogey, outside the Devil, is threatening the town.

It all sort of falls under the demonic category, given Johnstone’s usually religious bent, but damn! These demons must have loaded up on pulp horror before deciding to manifest! It’s an anything-goes type of book, so it’s a hoot throughout.

While, as noted, these novels weren’t deep or meaningful, they could very well function as such at the right time in someone’s life. The problem with modernity started when we rebelled from story, forgot its power, and started thinking we were above it because some stories—which happen to be the popular ones, but not always—are less meaningful and less heightened than others.

Whatever asshole who came along and said good literature is about more than “just the story” didn’t understand that everything meaningful, be it philosophical, theological, moral or conceptual, can, and does, exist within the story of our lives.

That being said, any story can accomplish anything, but we’ve been conditioned to think only the “heightened” stories count. We’ve become snobs who scoff at the low-brow, but, ironically, don’t go for the high-brow that much either… unless it’s in the form of the modern-day literary novel that always seems “meta” at all the wrong times.

We’ve forgotten that genre stuff can actually be good, although the fault of this lies with the mainstream, giant companies producing lowest-common-denominator stuff for quick bucks.

In my opinion, the smoke-and-mirror trick of artsy, meta lit always leads back to self-absorption and “writing about writing.” Trying to break away from the pureness of stories is like trying to reinvent the wheel, but, in this case, that wheel is crucial to our sanity and survival as an intelligent species.

Nonetheless, stories that are “just stories,”dead stories that don’t have meaning or offer any insight into the human condition, do exist and they’re ultimately to blame for our modern fiction crisis; they have ruined the name of stories everywhere, and have caused the masses to deem stories, as a whole, disposable and unimportant, although not necessarily less enjoyable.

In cinema’s case, we’ve become a race of “artsy” cynics who pretend to love what’s been labeled by conglomerates as “heightened” or “meaningful” (usually political), and turn pulp stories from every decade (especially the 80s!) into our disposable treats that exist to satisfy our totally-natural appetite for trash.

While we’re indulging in our trash, we may as well poke fun at it, too. And not read a lot of it. Why bother? It’s no different than, like, scrolling through Facebook or playing Mario.

With story dead, and all the career-oriented psycho storytellers out there selling their souls to Trendy Satan to stay afloat and, thus, leaving all the other writers in the dust, souls intact, but careers forgotten, it’s no wonder we’re not going to see a boom of any kind.

Writers of today are strangled by trends, political correctness and everything in between: the publishing world is keeping them from success, but it’s not all the modern publishers’ fault, as mentioned above.

In horror’s case, the mass-market boom, while awesome, helped to push the agenda that pulp fiction was entirely disposable, held no value, and was harmful to literature. It caused a rebellion, but, as I’ve said numerous times in roundabout ways…we rebelled too far!

But you said the new trend is for smarter things! How can that go out of style? Doesn’t that sound like a trend of quality over quantity, Zak?”

No. Nu-Smart, as I like to call it, is simply the modern aesthetic gimmick, and no one is allowed to challenge the status quo of modern, enlightened, progressive culture, so we’ve reached a mainstream version of intellectualism that makes me picture a Bic Mac wearing a smoking-jacket, a top-hat and a monocle, with a college diploma in place of the cheese.

Let me reiterate: the only horror-related stuff that will profit from this recent hipster-ish trend of “smart horror” mixed with “80s nostalgia” are the things contributing directly to it, such as coffee-table books and novels that try too hard to capture that 80s feel while simultaneously either missing the authenticity or poking too much fun.

As sad as all this sounds, it makes me genuinely curious what the next big, cultural trend will be…but I can bet you it won’t have anything to do with horror.

However, that doesn’t mean horror is doomed, nor does it mean that it’s completely dead now. Simply put, it’s doomed in the mainstream sense.

First off, let’s differentiate between books and movies, since much of this article has dealt with the mainstream line of horror, which, of course, exists in cinema. I flat out think mainstream horror movies are doomed, as stated above.

They’re only experiencing a tiny resurgence now because corporations have figured out how to make them trendy. The indie front is the only place good, new horror can possibly stay fresh…but indie films can fall victim to the same pitfalls, or they can just be stupid.

For every Sam Raimi or Phil Stevens (Flowers) you’re going to get twenty or thirty imitators who simply don’t have the magic touch. We need to hold indie horror to higher standards, but that also means we need to pay more…as in save up for the good stuff and pay for it instead of just watching whatever’s free on streaming. Support indie film companies like Unearthed Films. Buy DVDS. Review them. Keep the scene alive. WRITE ARTICLES. Everyone has to be active in this subculture.

Then, and only then, will the mainstream companies look at the little guys, scratch their chins, and say, “Well, these fellas are turning a profit. Let’s put some cash in this so they can make movies while not starving to death!” And trust me, I don’t think this will happen. It’s a possibility. But, where there’s a will there’s a way…so start paying for stuff and reviewing it.

Now, as for books, mass market is doomed. Period. There are multiple reasons for this, but the biggest reason is the lack of reading going on today. I know a ton of writers producing stellar work. I’ve criticized the indie book scene before…it’s not exempt from criticism, nor should it be…but, for the most part, I’m hopeful.

Although there’s a lack of money coming in, it can sustain itself on pure awesomeness. Most good writers aren’t in it for the money, nor are the publishers. Sure, some of the bigger small-presses keep profit in mind, and that’s all well and good, but, from what I can tell, the majority don’t.

Buy books from Permuted Press. Buy books from JournalStone (I don’t say that only because I signed with them). Buy books from Sinister Grin. Hell, buy the books from some of the bigger guys, too, because it’s not all bad. Some of it’s unimpressive and not genius-stricken like Trendy Satan would have you believe, but I’ve not read too many things that were inexcusably awful (but maybe I’m easier to please than some).

Buy books from authors who self-publish. These days, that’s the only option for most writers, and it’s increasingly proving itself to be the best option for everyone. Some people, including me, have criticized the small-press game as being likened to a pyramid scheme, in that very few people have “made it” financially, and everyone else is just leaching off their success.

Ironically, the people who have made it financially were either popular before the small-press boom or they became the editors and owners of multiple different imprints, but this is a small gripe. If good stuff is being written, support it.

I get it. Sometimes it’s easier to look up movies on YouTube and other places than it is to buy them new. Same thing for books (minus the YouTube part). Maybe you know people with lots of new books and read their copies instead. Fine. I’ve done it, but we need to keep in mind: support, review, and enjoy.

The more we succumb to the groupthink that limits the artistic expression of people, such as shaming those with different opinions or laughing when someone gets deplatformed (which apparently isn’t a word, but it should be these days), let’s fight against that. Let’s read and watch everyone’s stuff, and, if it sucks, say so, but if it’s good, give credit where credit’s due.

Most of the mainstream stuff has abandoned its audience in pursuit of lame-brains’ money. They’ve also tried converting their old audience members into cultish psychos who bash people going against the status quo. The only way to end that is to support everyone’s artistic expression by not throwing your money and time at the same tired places.

Zakary McGaha is a writer, dog lover, and horror hound living in the eastern, mountainous part of Tennessee. His novella Locker Arms is currently available from Kensington Gore Publishing. Another book of his, Soothing the Savage Swamp Beast, will be out sometime in 2018 from JournalStone/Bizarro Pulp Press. He is also currently a college student, studying both accounting and film.

The Beauty in the Breaking

The Beauty in the Breaking

“So tell me how to make you happier?”

Dr. Harakal starts each consultation the same: positive and hopeful without mention of imperfection or flaw.

Contemporary jazz gently fills the office from recessed speakers. A redolence of jasmine wafts from the hidden diffuser. It is a safe space. There are no judgements here.

But the consult remains silent. Her neutral look chills him, although he is careful not to allow his smile to falter. Maintaining his professional veneer, he hurries to fill the dead air rattling off accreditations, office capacities, and insurance options. It is the worst part of the job, but selling cosmetic dreams has its administrative vulgarities.

However, it gives him the chance to assess. She is decidedly plain, middle aged with minimal wrinkling or skin discoloration. She doesn’t blink. Her expression doesn’t change.

In his mind, he cuts into her. The flesh is pared, tucked, and reduced. But it is wrong. He starts again imagining features lifted, filled, and enhanced. It is done with an ultimate precision. Beauty is never in exaggeration or overstatement. For the real maestro—the cosmetic artist ascended above the dreck of plastic surgeons—beauty is in the subtleties of symmetry and balance, the face ideally a mirror image. There are no fixed dimensions defining beauty, rather the synchronized alignment of left to right and the precise ratios between features.

But his pretend scalpel again comes back clean. She is perfect, although that is absurd. Of course, a computer analysis would uncover those asymmetric contours and misalignments eluding the naked eye. However, his confidence is damaged. His gift of perception is so honed that no matter the canvas, his practiced eye has always yielded flaws. With a mental loupe, he scans her again desperately, diving down further into the details applying the most sophisticated formulae to her form.

Still there is nothing. Her balance is flawless. He should be delighted, wonderstruck, but instead, there is only dread.

Suddenly, she leans forward as if reading his thoughts. He recoils betraying his revulsion.

I hear you possess certain talents, Dr. Harakal. You are the best—are you not?

As an acclaimed cosmetic surgeon, compliments were common. Yet, he shudders at her icy flattery, put on the defensive. He nods ashamedly. It is true. Indeed, the desk he sits behind is an extension of his self, a baring of his nature—everything in its place. His capped pens stand ramrod straight in their rosewood holder. A pristine blotter is centered and squared to the desk’s edge. Paperclips are lined in military formation, fat ends pointing the same way.

His devotion to order and minutia is without peer.

Yes! This is what I want, Doctor Harakal…

She leans over the desk’s edge, the boundary between patient and doctor broken. Locking eyes, she fills his vision, the background retreating in his fish-eye view. The music has stopped, the only sound the blood thundering in his head. The air is stale, her breath acrid and sickly sweet like the discharge of a mephitic pit.

Her horrible face is his world, each laugh line perfectly matched in the sinister and dexter. Ears, eyes, and cheekbones align with a terrible god-like precision.

…to make me happy, I want you to change me…

Her foul mouth curls up at the corners, a complex ballet of symmetrical movement—a muscular reflection that shouldn’t be possible. His vision tunnels further. Behind those exquisitely balanced lips and teeth, he falls into the endless abyss of her dark palate.

Everything is black. Her voice is the lone stimuli.

…I want you to change me so when I look in the mirror, I don’t see the face of evil staring back.

He isn’t surprised. He knew it as soon as she entered the office, unconsciously planning the job ahead—the saw and the mallet, scars and shattered bones, detaching muscles and tendons. It is the true culmination of his work—the ultimate body aesthetic, a degenerate sculpture of malformed, palsied ecstasy.

S. E. Casey

S.E. Casey grew up near a lighthouse. He always dreamed of smashing the lighthouse and building something grotesque with the rubble. This is the writing method for his broken down and rebuilt stories published in many horror magazines and anthologies that can be found on his website. You can also follow him on Twitter.


You Can’t Make This Shit Up! Celebrities Gone Weird

WTF News

Welcome to You Can’t Make This Shit Up, our new weekly column in which we explore up-to-the-minute news that’s so fucking crackers we couldn’t possibly make it up. The past month has been positively bugfuck with companies like Lime scooters dumping electric rental scooters on the curbs and sidewalks of Venice Beach,  O.J. Simpson appearing on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Showtime series Who is America and high-fiving the show’s fictional host over the subject of uxoricide and Rudy Giuliani losing his mind in real time on live television.

But all of this pales in comparison to what we’ve learned today.

As TMZ reported this morning, Kim Kardashian-West and other Hollywood celebrities are getting the jump on transhumanists like Elon Musk by having an “alien necklace” implanted in her neck.

Yeah, you read that right. Stars like Kardashian-West are willingly permitting a company called A. Human to install live implants in their throats that light up to the rhythm of their heartbeats.

These neckpieces, which are said to be a part of a larger art project, contain bioreactive crystals which interact with the biological tissue of the person “wearing” them.

Here is an example of one of A. Human’s designs, known as “The Tudor.”

Classy? Sure, if you’re a Cenobite.