Joh MacDonald

Joh MacDonald (29 Sep 1996) is an aspiring comic book writer.

the raven (a reinterpretation)

I hear the word come from out of the darkness - ‘Nevermore’ - a deep, negro voice. And I stand dead still and I feel the blood between my toes. I shiver and the light extends only a couple of meters ahead of me. I hold my gun in both my hands but I shake so much I can’t hold it straight. And I hear my breath tremble and I hear the word again - ‘Nevermore’. And I shake and I look down and see and smell the men I fought beside, the men I would have died for but are now worth nothing to me. Now it’s just me. Nothing but me and the voice, and it says it again - ‘Nevermore’. Such a beautifully clean voice. Terrifying pure and bodies are dismembered beneath my feet. No deserted arm belongs to any man more than any other. And I hear the word again and I feel something cold and harsh and clean on the back of my neck. A giant claw, a talon. And I hear ‘Nevermore’ and my gun drops out of my hand. It sinks into the blood and bone beneath my feet and the talon pulls on my neck, twists it around and I slowly turn around and I begin to see it. But I see nothing. And I hear the word come from behind me and I turn around and something leaps from the light behind me into the darkness. A woman, a black woman, nude but black as night. Black and perfectly formed and slim but so black. And I only see the woman for a second before she disappears into the darkness again and I hear it again - ‘Nevermore’. And my breath trembles and my heart beats too hard, it too wants to just die and spare the horror. The horror penetrates me and holds me like a marionette.

I shout ‘I surrender!’, but nothing happens. Then - ‘Nevermore’. Behind me I turn and there she is, the woman, the black woman. Black and slim and divine and her eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming and her skin is so black, so nude but so black that she is part of the darkness. And she stands still and her hands, her hands are not hands, no, they still have five digits each but those digits are made not of skin but of bone. And the talon hands, so perfect and clean and reflect and refract light like a crystal and I tremble in the odd horror. And the raven-woman, she speaks, she says the word - ‘Nevermore’ - but her voice doesn’t come from the same place her voice, the deep, black voice comes from behind me and I turn and there she is and then she speaks again she says the word again and the voice is behind me and I turn again and there is nothing.

I turn slowly, trying to get a glimpse of the woman but she’s not there she’s somewhere in the darkness she’s going to kill me. And I see something - a bird, a black bird swoops in and I see it and it stares down at me and swoops down at me and its talons pierce my eyes and pull them out and I scream and fall to the ground and I open my eyes and I can see. There is no darkness but there is only darkness. I hear the word again - ‘Nevermore’. And I scream the word back into the darkness and my voice is the voice and I scream it again and tremble and the raven-woman walks out towards me and her wings surround us in a blanket of the deepest black and I shiver and we both say the word together - ‘Nevermore’ only darkness no darkness. Only ever horror and fear of the darkness only darkness only darkness and my eyes are holes in my head I can see out through the other side of them I see through the back of my head and the raven-woman is there as well she is everywhere I see and she walks towards me and her wings dome around us and the black bird flies in and tears out my eyes once more and I scream the word - ‘Nevermore!’.

And I reach down and pick up the gun out of the blood and gore and I fire it at the raven- woman but the woman is a mirror and the bullet hits me in the stomach but I fire the bullet again in all her directions but they keep coming back to me and penetrating me in a fantastic kaleidoscope of pain and terror. And my eyes go red I cry blood and I scream the word again - ‘Nevermore!’ and she screams it too we are the same voice and I am no longer afraid. And the raven-woman comes up to me and opens her talon hand and in her black palm is my eye but I don’t want my eye back I want the darkness and I grab her wings and snap them off her back and she screams the word and I scream the word - ‘Nevermore’ and I place the wings to my mouth and suck out the black, sticky marrow from the wings and the wings are now my wings I scream in the delight of the horror and my head no longer has a face, just the back of my head all the way around and the woman and I say the word once more the wings are mine now I am so black and terrifying and I am the word
‘NEVERMORE!’

I love this. Never thought of Gob as Doctor Strange.

I love this. Never thought of Gob as Doctor Strange.

Sal - Part 2

I launch myself out from the darkness at the zombie. I grab it’s hair and I put my knife to it’s neck and slice, and hack multiple times at it. The body falls limp like a rag doll  I leave the head by a windowsill. I grab the body and start cutting. This zombie was a well fed to say the least. When I’ve got all the meat I need in my backpack, I set off again. Now’s probably a good time to start a fire. I look around the house for something I could use to start it. I look through the cupboards filed with plates. Nothing there. I look through the cupboards filled with inappropriate magazines - I find a lighter next to a packet of cigarettes. On it is a picture of a man who’s foot has been amputated because of some now bizarre smoking incident. Now I need something to burn – the magazines. I grab them and I try not to look at them. They’re more inappropriate than I thought. I grab some wooden toys – a rocking horse, a Ping-Pong bat – and set off to make the fire.

 

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Andy - Part 2

I step outside of the door and nearly close it, but reach my hand through and pull the chain across to lock it. I should probably get a proper lock. Two men start walking up to me in patroller uniform. My first reaction is to make a run for it, but then I remember I’m wearing the same uniform as them.  I stumble around and pretend not to notice them. Oh shit they’re right in front of me. One’s trying to talk to me: ‘You Andy Dout?’

I pretend to be confused. Everything’s easier here if people think you’re stupid. ‘Uh… Yeah?’

‘The chief has requested your presence. He has an assignment for you.’ Damnit. I thought they would have forgotten I exist by now.

‘Um… Okay, let’s go!’, I start steaming off, hoping they don’t notice my odour or appearance. They do. One pulls me back by the shoulder.

‘You can’t see the chief like this. You smell like shit and you’ve got blood all over your suit.’ I didn’t see the blood. Must have been from when I punched the mirror earlier this morning.

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Sal - Part 1

I swing the bat and it collides with the head. The sound it makes me feel sick every time. The head explodes in a mess of blood, bone and brains. I drop the bat. That was the last one. I call out to David ‘You all done up there?’

‘Yeah I’m all done’ he calls back

I start coughing. The pain escalates with every cough. I place my hand in front of my mouth and I stop coughing. Blood on my hand. Is it from a zombie, or is it mine? Did I cough it up? Do I have lung cancer or something? I never smoked… Never went near drugs or alcohol or any of that sort of stuff. All the doctors are gone now, nobody will be able to help me if something really is wrong. I’m staring into the puddles of blood on the floor before I realise David is standing right in front of me. He stares down at my hand.

‘Who’s blood is that?’

‘I don’t know – ‘

‘What do you mean you don’t know? Were you cut?’

‘No’

‘Then it’d be the zombie’s blood’

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Andy - Part 1

Sounds like someone is trying to jackhammer through my door. I push myself out of bed. My clothes stink from last night. Head hurts from last night too.

I shout at whoever is at the door ‘Shut the fuck up, I’ll be there in a minute.’

I look over my room for some clothes I haven’t already worn this week. Can’t find any. I run over to the door and look through the eyehole. It’s a patroller, all dressed up in his stupid camouflage. He looks about my age, but he’s a fair bit bigger.  

I shout through the door ‘What are you doing here?’

the man shouts back ‘Are you Andy Dout?’.

‘Yep, that’d be me, now what the fuck are you doing here?’

‘I’m here to collect you. You’ve been drafted. I believe you’re joining the scavengers.’

Yeah, over my dead body. Knowing me, if I joined the scavengers I probably wouldn’t even get eaten. I’d probably just get isolated from the group, they’d leave me behind and I’d either have to carve out my own stomach or starve to death.

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See how far I’ve come?

Parts of this story have been appropriated from Rodney Hall’s poem “heaven, in a way”. Here is the original poem:

From my new world I’m waving.

See how far I’ve come?

Here it’s perfectly all right                                                                                                             

to turn however many somersaults you like

on all the roofs of town.

If anyone should care to live

in Gothic or in Romanesque cathedrals

that’s all right too: you spread

your palliasse upon the altar or in the nave

and wake to find the morning sun

shattered to a flower of jewelled glass-

to find the ghost of a multicoloured

saint or two in bed beside you.

From my new world I’m waving.

See how far I’ve come?

It’s no use being envious;

nothing but a life of heartbreak

can gain you entry to this place.

Here the fish are naturally disguised

with scales that read as Hebrew letters.

The smells of every intimate remembrance

play your mind on their hook and line, until you do

achieve a state of re-experience.

And the colours here lie warm against the eye:

film upon film of unforgotten pleasure.

I suppose it’s heaven, in a way.

And I am waving down at you.

Ha ha! I hope you hate it where you are.

I see you – a grubby speck beneath me,

and it’s all your own damned fault.

You don’t know what you’re missing.

Watch me exploit the magic of my somersaulting powers. Up here

we’re worshipers of experience;

with only another life of heartbreak still to go

before we accept ourselves, each as one of you.

From my new world I’m waving.

See how far I’ve come?

Here is the story:

5.

From my new world I’m waving. See how far I’ve come? I am walking through my house. Memories of fantastic moments flood through my head. I walk up to my daughter’s room. Pink everywhere. Beautiful, colourful pink! The pink leaves a stain on my eyes. It smells like lavender and lollies. My daughter screams so beautifully. A kaleidoscope of colours, smells, sounds, feelings. I walk to my daughter. She has huddled into a corner. If only she could feel how I am feeling now. My angelic, delicate daughter! She screams “Daddy, no!” It is okay, my daughter. I am here to claim you. Her pretty dress is stained with poignant blood. I smell her and I feel her alive and I see her fair flesh. Her beautiful pale skin. She screams again “Daddy, stop!” It is okay, my daughter. I suppose it’s heaven, in a way. And I am waving down at you. I grab her hair. Her fine, soft hair and I pull her closer to me. She is here with me now. She cries. It is okay, my daughter, everything will be fine and beautiful soon. And the colours here lie warm against your eye: film upon film of unforgotten pleasure. I pull her neck close to me and I bite. Her skins pulls apart and snaps back to her neck. She tastes more divine than anything else in the world. I feel a little bit of her within me. A small voice, telling me things so quietly I can’t hear them. I bite her again, on her shoulder. The voice gets louder. It’s her voice. She is happy inside me, I can feel it.

3.

I pull the trigger. She falls flat on the ground. I killed my wife. It had to be done. She was going to eat my daughter. I killed my wife. My daughter clings to my leg. She looks into my eyes. A tear runs down her face. I tell her I’m sorry. She understands. I kiss her on her forehead. I leave a blood lipstick kiss on her forehead. I wipe it off. We walk over to my wife. Her mother. I see you – a grubby speck beneath me, and it’s all your own damn fault. Flesh has been torn off her arm. That’s where the thing bit her. She has a gun tucked into her jeans. Didn’t save her. We lasted for two months. Now it’s just me and my daughter. I wonder how much longer we’ll last together.

6.

The more I eat, the more of her is within me. The more I eat, the more of her is me. I ask her how she feels being inside me. She tells me she loves it. I tell her I love her being within me. She tells me to go and find more people to claim. I know where to find them. We walk out into the street. My daughter thinks there are probably more people at the church. As we are walking, we see a man. From my new world I’m waving. See how far I’ve come? He doesn’t seem to notice us. We run over to him. He doesn’t hear us. I breathe in through my nose; I smell him. You don’t know what you’re missing. Delicate smells, bright and dainty inflame my mind. I leap and bite man on his arm. Piquant tastes flood my mouth. The man screams and the hairs on my neck stand up. It’s almost all too much. He scream and I feed on him: I eat his face. I suck out his eyes. I tare off his ears. I can feel him within me. He talks to me within me and he talks to my daughter and he is still screaming. I bite his neck and tare something out – he stops screaming.

2.

I wake. I hold my daughter and wife. Here we sleep, the church. A safe haven. Here you rest in relief and wake to find the ghost of a multi-coloured saint or two in bed beside you. There must be twenty, thirty people sleeping here alongside me. I stand up, and see a man kneeling by a cross. He’s whispering to himself. I think God left here a long time ago. But he thinks that God’s going to help him. I never believed in God, and this happening solidified it. Then again, I never believed the dead would walk the earth.

4.

I’m running back to the church. My daughter holds my hand. I see them running up behind us. One looks me in the eye. I feel sorry for it, but it takes none of my sympathy. One is faster than the others. It catches up to us. It grabs my foot. I fall. I tell my daughter to run home. She runs off. It bites my leg and I scream. I kick it off and smash it’s head in with the hammer. I stumble off into a corner and sit. When I look around the corner, I see all the zombies have gone off to the church. Good decision sending my daughter to our house. I feel the pain coming up my leg. I scream and I cry. I don’t want to die. Then it hits me. I feel perfectly fine. I feel as light as a feather. Here it’s perfectly all right to turn however many somersaults you like on all the roofs of town.

1.

This apocalypse is somewhat a miracle for me. I was a man buried in debt; my grandchildren wouldn’t have seen the end of it. But now, everything’s gone. Money, banks, jobs, cars, corporations, all gone. My family nearly went homeless. Here, you can take any car, eat any food and as long as someone else doesn’t want it, that’s all right. If anyone should care to live in Gothic or in Romanesque cathedrals that’s all right too: you spread your palliasse along the altar or in the nave. I love it here. Here, we’re worshipers of education by experience; with only one life of heartbreak still to go before we accept ourselves, each as one of you.

7.

Watch me exploit the magic of my somersaulting powers. Up here, it’s no use being envious; nothing but a life of heartbreak can gain you entry to this place. We stumble to the church. Here the fish are naturally disguised with scales that read as Hebrew letters. A small child runs off – we run after her. I want to eat her – she will taste like my daughter, my delectable daughter. I catch her: The smells of every intimate remembrance play your mind on their hook and line, until you do achieve a state of re-experience. Everyone that I eat sleep in happiness within me and wake to find the morning sun shattered to a flower of jewelled glass – my body is a better place than anywhere else. Ha ha! I hope you hate it where you are. From my new world I’m waving. See how far I’ve come?

A Dog and His Zombie

I sit at Master’s feet. He writhes around on the floor. He screams. I don’t know what to do. I hope he stops soon. He keeps rolling around in agony. I wish I could understand what’s happening. He stops writhing. I go up and sniff his face. He smells okay. He doesn’t move. He must be sleeping. I lie beside him.

Master wakes. I lick his hand. He doesn’t respond. Something’s not right. He smells dead. He sits upright. I nudge him with my nose. He doesn’t respond. He stands up and walks. He falls. Something’s not right. He gets up and walks, but this time he shambles. Something’s not right. We walk along the sidewalk of the street. I hear someone talking softly. Master also seems to hear it. He doesn’t normally respond to things so quiet. I think it came from the house. Master quickly shambles towards the house. I follow him. I hear ahead people whispering. They’re hiding. They’re waiting to ambush Master. I bark at Master. He doesn’t respond. Master keeps walking towards the trap. I stand back and bark at Master but he keeps walking. A man comes out from the shadows. Places a chain around Master’s neck. Master tries to bite the man. Master doesn’t normally try to bite people. The man whacks Master with a shovel. Master backs down. The man tugs Master along by the chain. Master follows.

The man leading Master doesn’t seem to notice me. Master is starting to smell funny.  I follow them to a supermarket. I see people chained to the outside of the supermarket. They smell the same as Master. The man walks up to a part of the wall of the supermarket where no one is chained, and chains up Master. The man walks away from Master, but Master tries to follow. He doesn’t remember he has the chain around his neck. He keeps trying to get to the man. Something’s not right.

I wait around until it gets dark. Master is sitting. He groans every few minutes. But he doesn’t talk to me. He always used to talk to me, whenever we had nothing to do. I couldn’t understand what he said, but I think he knew that. He talked to me because he knew I would appreciate it. But he’s not talking now. I’m still not sure what’s wrong… maybe he’s sick. Maybe he’s sick and he’ll get better soon. The door to the supermarket opens, and the man from before comes out, except now he has some meat. I should probably hide. I hide in a shadow, but I can see what’s happening: the man tears little bits off the meat and throws it to each of the chained up people. It’s not very much meat. When he comes around to Master, Master stands up and tries to bite the man, but when the man throws the meat at him Master goes for the meat instead. Master swallows the meat whole. Master needs more food than that. I should go and find some more food for him.

I’m walking along when I smell it. It smells like dead possum or fox or something I used to hunt for. I follow the scent until I find it; it’s a dead dog. She’s a fair bit bigger than me. She smells fairly fresh, but I’m pretty sure she’s dead. I’m sure Master would love to eat her. I try to drag her back to master, but she’s too heavy. I sit by her for a while before I decide what to do. I will bring Master to her. I run off to find Master. Eventually I get back to the supermarket, but everything’s changed. All the people who were chained up are walking around. They’re still chained around the neck, but now the chains aren’t connected to anything. I can’t find Master anywhere, there’s too many people. Eventually I find him trying to get to the man to from before. Now the man is lying on the floor. But now there’s a big hole in his head and people eating his insides. There are too many people eating the man. Master can’t get to him. Even if he does there won’t be any meat left. I pick up Master’s chain and try to pull him to the dead dog, but he seems obsessed with the man. I pull harder and harder until eventually he budges and follows me. He shambles along slowly, but the dog will still be fresh by the time we get there.

I can see that we’re getting closer, but I can’t smell the dog anymore. Master is still trying to walk back towards the supermarket. I wish Master would just follow me. We get to where the dog was; but there’s no dog. There’s a small puddle of blood where the dog used to be, but no meat. Master is pulling back towards the supermarket really hard now. I can hear people off in the distance. Master can hear them too. He runs towards where the noise is coming from. The chain gets torn out of my mouth. He runs off down the street. I see a flash and hear a loud crack, and Master falls backwards. I hear the people run off. I run to Master to see what’s wrong. Master is lying on the ground. There’s a large hole in his head, just like the man. Master’s probably just sleeping. I lie beside him and sleep.