Bone Train by Tom Leins


By Tom Leins

It has been a cold, rotten afternoon so far – and it’s shaping up to be an even uglier evening…

I’m leaning against a badly rusted rollercoaster called the ‘Titty Twister’, staring at a guy who looks like a fucking autopsy sketch. His complexion is tombstone grey and he’s wearing a fluorescent 1980s ski jacket with one of the ragged sleeves gaffer-taped back on. He looks like he’d be more at home selling crack to addicts in a graveyard than working at a funfair.

His name is Garry Granville and he’s manning the ‘Spook Loop’ ghost train. It’s his second year working the fair, after he served six years in Channings Wood for assisting with the disposal of a corpse. He fires up the diesel generator and the garish night-time lighting makes queasy promises that the daylight can’t cash.

Raucous psychobilly crackles out of the ancient Tannoy system and Granville does an awkward, spasmodic little jig. I’ve been watching him all week.He likes to smoke a little skunk and drink a can of scrumpy on the test ride before the Spook Loop opens to the general public. I edge closer. There are small clumps of people scattered across Paignton Green. Boys. Girls. Undecided. Young. Smiling. Blissfully unaware about the horrors that lurk in plain sight.

Granville removes a can from the Slazenger kit-bag next to the ticket-taker booth and retrieves the pre-rolled joint from behind his right ear. I take a deep breath and slip on my rubber Halloween mask, then I ease myself into the final carriage – lowering myself as far as I can go. I’m not exactly sure what creature the mask is supposed to depict – I found it at the bottom of the bargain bin in the fancy dress shop on Hyde Road – and it looks warped and faded.

Granville cracks open his can, hollers to himself and cranks the start lever. The ragged black curtains jerk apart and the ghost train jolts into the gloom.


One week earlier.

When I arrive at the Embassy Tavern, Harris has the worst seat in the house – first table, back to the front door. Not a fucking care in the world. Any feeble-minded local undesirable could jab a needle in his neck, or slip a blade in his armpit while he reached for his tumbler.

I tap his elbow to get his attention and step aside.

“Same again, mate?”

“Mr Rey! Glad you could make it. Stay where you are, son – it’s my round.”

I help him up and he shuffles across the threadbare carpet towards the bar. Downstairs, a pub singer called Alan Spunk: King of Funk growls his way through a disco song that is older than I am.

Despite the Autumn chill, Spunk is drenched in sweat and breathes like a wank-blistered crank-caller between songs.

Moments later, Harris hands me a glass.

“What the fuck’s that?”

“Spiced rum and ginger beer. It was my late wife’s favourite.”

I take a sip.

Not fucking bad.

Drinks in hand, we retire to the outdoor conservatory. The rainfall is louder than gunfire on the thick, plastic corrugated roof, but it will drown out our conversation.

Harris removes a newspaper cutting from his briefcase. It takes him a minute or so to find, so the case must be crammed with filth.

I glance warily at the photo.

“He’s an ex-con. So am I. So are you, mate! So fucking what?”

Harris bristles at the remark. Years ago, he briefly served time after a £300,000 worth of cocaine was found stashed in twelve rusted caravans on a patch of waste-ground under a motorway flyover outside Taunton. His name was on the deeds for the waste-ground, but his brief managed to get him out of HMP Dartmoor on time served.

“The rotten bastard exposed himself to my daughter last year, and the police didn’t do a fucking thing about it.”

“How old is your daughter?”

“It’s not important,” he grunts. “She’s 41. 42 next week.”

I take another sip of my drink. It’s already growing on me.

“What exactly do you want me to do about it?”

He removes a lump hammer from his briefcase, followed by an envelope full of cash.

“I want you to give the little shit a fright.”

He grins, displaying receding gums and yellowed, overlapping teeth.

I drop the hammer in my left pocket, the money in my right.

Murky alliances are my stock-in-trade – and Paignton always extracts its price.


The ancient tracks creak and I feel my neck snap as the battered carriage jolts around the third bend.


Granville sits up, suddenly alert and cranks the kill-switch. The ghost train grinds to a halt and the psychobilly tape cuts out.

He clambers out of the front carriage, stubs the joint out on the back of his hand and places it back behind his ear.

He wheezes, and his rotten breath hangs in the air.

“It got cold early this year, huh, boy?”

This bastard has the small-talk skills of a fucking crack-addict.

He drifts towards me. A look of surprise flickers across his ugly face as he clocks my rubber mask. By the look of his glazed eyes he’s been sniffing shoe repairer’s glue as well as hitting the skunk.

“What the fuck did you come as?!”

I lunge forward and slam a head-butt into the bridge of his nose. The lumpen bone gives way with a satisfying crack.

He rights himself and pushes me backwards with a grunt. I clatter into a half-rotted Mummy and lose my footing. The soiled coverings it’s swathed in remind me of the old surgical support bandages I’m constantly finding in the corridor at the Black Regent.

It rained last night and the floor is waterlogged – the stagnant water threaded with green scum-trails. Nearby, exposed wiring fizzes and crackles.

Granville comes after me and I retreat into the midst of the mannequins. Monsters from a bygone era – they stink of rotting nostalgia.

Dracula’s flaking head has been screwed onto a female torso, and has improbable breasts like an ‘80s Page 3 girl.

The Wolfman is missing big clumps of fur and appears to be suffering from alopecia. The rotten figure reminds me of a dead dog I once saw in Paignton Harbour – its mangy body all swollen up with sea water.

“Is that a knife in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me, Granville?”

All carnies are blade artists and he removes the inevitable Stanley from his stonewashed jeans.

When he smiles, it looks positively obscene.

I heard he once sliced up a minor hoodlum called Titch Mitchum in a fun-pub. Put a broken match-stick between two taped-together razor-blades. Apparently, it makes it far more difficult for the surgeon to sew the face back together afterwards. I enjoy a knife fight as much as the next man, but I’ve never been a fan of that kind of delicate savagery. 

I pull out the lump hammer and he flinches.

Sometimes my life feels like a hellish version of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Knife. Hammer. Firearm.

“You need to get that leaky arsehole fixed, mate.”

He jabs at me, and tries to tug off my rubber mask at the same time. I sidestep him and bring the hammer down on his right arm – shattering his elbow.

“Trick or treat, motherfucker.”

He stoops down to retrieve the knife and I crunch the hammer into his spine. I’m already nauseated with myself, and taste hot sick in my throat, but Harris promised me a bonus if I break all four of Granville’s limbs.

I glance over my shoulder, at my ghoulish friends. Under the dead gaze of the assembled monsters, I go to work.


Five minutes later, I dump Granville in the front carriage, like a bag of bones, and yank the lever.

I’ve already slipped between the disfigured relics and exited the Spook Loop through a slashed hole in the tarpaulin when the fucking screaming starts.

The End


Tom Leins is a crime writer from Paignton, UK. His books include Boneyard Dogs, Ten Pints of Blood, Meat Bubbles & Other Stories (all Close to the Bone) and Repetition Kills You and The Good Book: Fairy Tales for Hard Men (both All Due Respect).

For more information, please visit:

A Bad Stephen King Book by Ian Lewis Copestick

A Bad Stephen King Book

Life has turned into
a Bad Stephen King
book. It may sound
crazy, but it’s true.
All of the elements
are in place;

The plague that
threatens humanity.

The scarily, crazed
crypto – fascist leader.

All we need now is
a plucky band of
outsiders. Preferably
one with a special
forces background.
A feisty female, to be
the love interest, and
at least one innocent
child, with strange, but
strangely relevant

If they are still casting,
I’d like to audition for
the part of the guy who
has a history of addiction.
Who seems like a coward,
until he becomes the
unlikely, but obvious
hero in the last quarter
of the book.

Let’s hope that in
real life, it’s the same
as in fiction.

Let’s all hope that
the bad guys don’t

The Fool by BRUCH out FRIDAY 30.10!

The new, 4th album by “Sir of the Vienna Underground” BRUCH, The Fool, is out this FRI, 30.10. on LP // CD // digital.

THE FOOL unveils the beauty of Vienna-based Philipp Hanich alias Bruch’s versatile persona that takes us deep down into personal battles and witnesses the soul of a true rock’n’roll maverick. Big range of emotions are blended in rough and minimal synthwave rock that gets under your skin and sets your nerves tingling. 

“This is the essence of archaic rock ’n’ roll reverb in synthetic cathedrals. Hypothermic, mannerist super album. // 14 hymns between destructive, dark rock’n’roll and world-hugging pop, nervously flickering new wave and repetitive post punk.” – Radio FM4.

Black 12″ vinyl LP (incl. insert /w lyrics ). 12 tracks. Includes digital pre-order of The Fool. You get 3 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.

CD version of THE FOOL +++ incl. 2 more tracks (!!!) +++ than the LP version. Comes in shiny gatefold card case + inlay /w lyrics. Includes digital pre-order of The Fool. You get 3 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.

Digital Album. Pre-order of The Fool. You get 3 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.

Herd of Angels by Mark McConville

Herd Of Angels …

There’s nowhere for me to rest my head, in this pit we all sit in, and drink in, feel feeble in. The light blinds me and my ambitions to stray from this temple of the unforgivable, the heartless, and the people who grind their lives to dust without even knowing it. Sincerity has no place here either. Compassion needs a lifeline, hearts inside these chests in this ungodly room, beat faster than a shooting star. They’re all under the illusion that drugs mean they’re invincible, and their decisions inconceivable but right in their own private worlds. 

I pick up a half-empty bottle of beer, drink it, and then throw it at the coffee table. It doesn’t smash, it only ricochets and drops like a coin into a deep well. Next to me sits a boy lonely in his own mind. He keeps on uttering the word ‘’Hopeless’’ at the thin walls, smoking a cigarette that hasn’t got much life left. And the futures of these people may have been mapped out, puzzled in, as all their eyes droop into a state, a tired state. 

The mixture, the cocktails filled with pills and alcohol have taken its toll on the livers and minds, and the silence becomes a loud noise in my brain. A monotonous sound which reverberates and echoes and my mind feels like it’s a coliseum of raucous thoughts and corrosion. 

I leave my thoughts in the living room and step out into the kitchen where sexual urgency once peaked, where it created some children who have grown into this framework, the walls built around them, where they may die if they don’t depart this dark place where ghosts roam and memories scratch at the skin which is draped over them.  

Water brings me back to life, thankfully. The thirst always comes after the 20 bottles of beer consumed in succession. Like a chain smoker, I consume alcohol rapidly, letting it flow down my widened throat. Then, as I drink more water, I detect freedom of speech gone wrong. 

The living room is bright red. Captivating unconventionally. There’s no paint here, but blood splashed up the walls. The young man, who was lost in his own mind, stands with a large knife in his hand. Brutality has been given a chance to shine here, and I’m the only innocent man alive here, staring at the knife and this kid who has been subjected to a psychotic episode. This isn’t real, it can’t be. I knew there was an oddness to his character, a monster waiting to burst from his thin torso, but on this night, I couldn’t have imagined it. 

He comes closer to me. His eyes like tyrant’s eyes. If they could turn red they’d burn a hole in the atmosphere. He isn’t a superhero, he’s now a murderer, putting it all on the line. Then there’s me, a man with a stomach full of alcohol and drugs, hopefully, caught up in a fever dream, a nightmare, a hallucination. But, no, this is real, this isn’t a figment, it’s an explosion of realism tapered to my imagination. 

As the dead lie on sofas and chairs, the man in front of me looks desperate. He wants me dead, so he can run. His inhibitions tuned out as the drugs moan for an upgrade. Earlier in the evening, he spoke about his heart being broken, shattered by a girl who stole every piece of soul from his battered body. When I listened on, I could hear the pain in his voice, the rasp, the despair. He only stopped when he knew more people were listening in. 

Another step, another broken heart purring for blood. My blood, he wants my blood. Another step, another unhopeful embrace. He isn’t a catalyst for good, he’s damaged, like the writers of this world, the ones who have had afflictions dumped upon them. Throughout the conversation earlier, he also told me about the nightmares he was having, the nightmares where ghosts swirled around and spooked the herd of angels. 

‘’Stay there’’ 

He has me in stuck to the blood embroiled carpet. With me, he shudders and doesn’t know how to handle the situation. Above him isn’t a glass ceiling he can smash and then ascend through. The only way out is through my heart and lungs.  

‘’Stay there I said’’ 

He’s breaking a sweat, I can see the shine on his skin. Truthfully, he’s losing his stance, his defence. 

‘’Give me the knife, we can sort through this’’ 

‘’How can we? They’re all dead because of me’’ 

‘’It was a moment of madness, we all have them’’ 

Under his breath, he utters a name. A name burned into his mind. 


‘’They’re all fucking dead, even’’ 

‘’Even who??’’ 

He puts his hand in his pocket and takes out a small bag containing a pair of eyes. 

‘’These, the only part of her I have left’’ 

I try not to wretch. The eyes still have a thin line of blue. 

He runs towards me in haste, stabbing me once, and then he escapes. 

I’m on the floor among dead people and the ghosts who endured much worse in a past that should be kept concealed. 

This house is alive, and the walls beat like hearts, and my blood only adds to a scene that will become a constant nightmare.

The Election Games by Kristin Garth

The Election Games 

For Halloween, let us all be Catniss 

Everdeen.  Trump can be Snow — doesn’t need 

to know.  Do it in our own respective districts 

in booths and mail-in ballots, masked like the 

avengers that we are.  Take aim with pens.

Remove misogynistic men, ourselves from 

a dystopian reality show lens,

to which, without consent, we did succumb.  

Be mockingjays, accidental species 

who found its way when displaced, off the grid 

castoffs of society mated with the free,

fringed of a society our voice reclaims. 

It is time to play the election games. 

Burgundy by John Patrick Robbins


They say drunks get sentimental with age.

The old dog’s , prefer to sleep more in the sun than to chase cars .

The fight just leaves us and we are left sad, empty and often alone.

I do not believe I have lost my edge but I do often question my purpose.

I pen lines and no longer care if people read them.

I no longer write to entertain, I am simply passing time.

A wasted line and another hour past.

A shared drink with my only true friend and the voices in my head.

They no longer concern themselves with the opinions of others as well.

I guess that’s why drinking alone feels so right.

The liquor’s warmth has replaced my passion and memories have replaced you.

Old dogs die hard as so will I.

Alone underneath the sun.

John Patrick Robbins,  is the editor in chief of the Rye Whiskey Review and Black Shamrock Magazine. His work has appeared here at Punk Noir Magazine, Fearless Poetry Zine,  1870 Magazine,  Piker Press, San Pedro River Review, Heroin Love Songs, The Dope Fiend Daily,  Sacred Chickens. 
His work is always unfiltered.

Just a Boy’s Game

Just a Boys’ Game is a 1979 Play for Today which aired 8 November 1979, written by Peter McDougall and directed by John Mackenzie.

It features Frankie MillerGregor FisherKen HutchisonHector Nicol, Jean Taylor Smith, Katherine Stark, Barry Malone, Michael Malone and band The Cuban Heels.

The plot revolves around the life of Jake McQuillan who lives in the shadow of his dying grandfather, who used to be Greenock‘s hardest man.

The play was filmed in and around Greenock and Port Glasgow.

Recommended Read: FTW: The Rise Of The Anarchy March by Russ Lippitt

In the not too distant future, the gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened to such a degree that the United States of America has turned into a dystopian nightmare for most people. But Jack, Doyle, Darla, and a raggle-taggle bunch of anarchist punks march to overthrow the government and save America.

Russ Lippitt’s FTW: The Rise Of The Anarchy March is like a lethal cocktail of The Road, Mad Max and anarcho-punk polemic.

Brutal, gripping and entirely plausible.

Find out more about Russ Lippitt here.

Hunter’s Moon by Sebnem E Sanders

Hunter’s Moon

A freelance journalist and photographer, Ali had been on the road for six hours. Although he had intended to reach his destination in Izmir that night, he almost dozed off as the head and taillights from the motorway traffic danced before his eyes. Sipping coffee from the thermos no longer kept him alert. He decided to stop for rest and took the next exit marked, Altınkum 50 Km, a seaside resort on the Aegean, famous for its golden sand beach.

The idea of driving another fifty kilometres sounded challenging. In hope of finding some kind of accommodation on the way, Ali followed the country lane that snaked between vast olive groves on either side. His thoughts drifted to the past, long before the motorway to Izmir had been built. The old road meandered through quaint villages and lively small towns, then. Coffee houses full of men sipping hot drinks and chain-smoking, children playing football in the narrow cobbled streets.

Ali opened the windows and inhaled the clean air, carrying the aroma of fresh herbs and wild flowers. The soothing sound of cicadas evoked memories. More than thirty years ago he’d been here for the first time with her, on the way to Çeşme for a seaside escape. Soon after, they had parted, never to meet again.

 Immersed in thoughts, Ali spotted the flickering lights of a hamlet ahead. He hated motorways, uniform, devoid of character, polluted with engine fumes and noise. Disappointment swept over his face as he cruised through the deserted streets of the village without seeing a single soul or an open coffee house. It was almost midnight, and everyone had gone to sleep. Hopes for a warm drink abandoned, he drove back onto the road and parked in a lay-by beside the fields. Lukewarm coffee in the thermos tasted appalling. He munched on biscuits to relieve the bitter tang in his mouth, and stepped out of the car to stretch his legs. The leaves of the olive trees shimmered under the silver rays of the Hunter’s Moon on a warm October night. 

Ali returned to the car and locked the doors. A window lowered for ventilation, he curled up on the back seat for a nap. Fatigue took him into deep sleep. He awoke to the sound of someone knocking on the glass.

Half asleep, his gaze met the stare of a young boy, his expression one of panic. A bob of curly blond hair shone like a halo over his head under the moonlight. Pale blue eyes beckoned him as his cupid’s lips mouthed, Help me.

Ali unlocked the door and stepped out. “What are you doing here at this time of the night, child?”

He looked to be five, maybe six years-old in his outfit of navy-blue shorts, a Batman t-shirt, and sports shoes over white socks. “I’m lost,” he said, with tears in his eyes. “Please help me find my Mum.”

“Where is she? Did you have an accident?”

He nodded and said, “I’ll show you.”

 Ali grabbed a torch and followed the boy into the olive grove, wondering how a car could have had an accident so far from the road. About 100 metres in the depths of the orchard, they came to a clearing bordered with a copse of tall oak trees. The child stopped next to one and pointed to the ground. “It’s here. Please tell Mummy.”

“Where is she? What’s your name?”

“Emre,” he said, and disappeared. 

Ali searched the woods, calling his name in vain. It was still dark when he found his way back to the car as though in a trance. He climbed back on the driver’s seat, switched on the engine and the headlights, before turning the vehicle towards the orchard. He scanned the area. Nothing. The boy had vanished. He waited, staring at the grove. After a while, he turned off the engine and fell asleep, his head resting on the steering wheel. 

Ali opened his eyes to the first rays of dawn. Discomfort from a stiff neck and a parched mouth made him question his freelance occupation. Then, he remembered the boy and wondered what happened to him. He returned to the village to find food and make enquiries. After devouring a full breakfast with eggs and pastries, he asked the owner if there had been any car accidents in the area recently.

“Not that I know of. The traffic here is slow, mainly families going to the seaside. They drive carefully, not like the lunatics on the motorway.”

“Any kidnappings?” 

“No, but you can ask the village chief. He’d know more.”

The Chief invited Ali to his table and answered his questions. Regarding kidnappings, he said, “They’re all over the country, not only here. They kidnap children for ransom, for the organ mafia or take them to the mountains to turn them into terrorists. Why do you ask?”

“I saw a child last night. He asked for help, then disappeared.”

“Maybe you had a dream?”

Ali wasn’t sure it was a dream. The internet newsfeed search didn’t provide him with any relevant information. He called his lawyer friend, Ahmet, in İzmir and told him the story. After noting down the details, Ahmet said, “I’ll ask my investigator to consult the police records. When will you be here?”

“By lunchtime.”

For the next couple of days, Ali worked on an in-depth interview with one of Ahmet’s clients, a rich heiress whose son was murdered by his lover. On the third day, the investigator came to him with information gleaned from police records.

“In 1999, two children of a prominent businessman were kidnapped for ransom. Before making contact, the abductor took them into his car and drove far away from the crime site in Ayvalık. He collected the ransom in İzmir, and dropped the daughter in the area. Later, he was arrested while trying to rent a car. The seven-year-old girl identified the kidnapper. She also said he took her younger brother, Emre, into a forest at night and returned without him. The abductor never confessed to murdering the boy, but insisted he ran away. The man’s still in jail.”

Tears blurred Ali’s vision, the boy’s innocent face vivid in his memory. “I-I must see his mother. I promised him.”

(1045 words)

This story first appeared in Ripples on the Pond.

Short Bio

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction and Flash Poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have appeared in the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama Webzine, Punk Noir Magazine, Flash Fiction Offensive,  and The Cabinet of Heed, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. She has a completed manuscript, The Child of Heaven and two works in progress, The Child of Passion and The Lost Child.  Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

Ripples on the Pond