From the Editors

Welcome to our first issue of The Dread Machine. Although we’re a new publication, we were thrilled to receive so many impressive, entertaining, and thought-provoking submissions. This quarter’s issue features original fiction by Dennis Mombauer, Larina Warnock, Evan Marcroft, Kevin M. Folliard, and many more. We’ve also curated reprints from Ken Liu, Osahon Ize-Iyamu, Monique L. Desir, Michael Wehunt, Caleb Stephens, Lynette Mejia, and Kitty-Lydia Dye. One of our favorite poets, Avra Margariti, also has original work appearing in this issue.

On this page, you’ll find summaries and links to every Issue 1 story, along with information about some of our featured writers. If you’re a subscriber, you’ll be able to access everything here. If you’re not ready to commit to a subscription, consider purchasing the V 1.1 Access Pack, which also includes the issue’s cover art (created by the talented Katrina Bellikova, aka Ninja Jo) as downloadable desktop and phone backgrounds.

Thank you so much for your support! 


We’re increasing our word count.

We have decided to increase our word-count limits for original fiction from 3,500 to 5,000. To keep from overwhelming our subscribers with content, our publication schedule will change, and starting in June, we will publish one story per week instead of two (along with a few pieces of curated poetry and flash). Stories will be published each Friday (rather than on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Mixtape: 1986

The 1986 Anthology (tentatively titled Mix Tape: 1986) is ready! All authors have signed their publication agreements. Our first round of edits are underway. Our cover artist, Katerina, is putting together sketches. We’re thinking deep thoughts about what kind of preorder extras we can put together for early birds.

What else? Check out our updates.

Darkness Blooms

Identity, security, and community are inexorably entwined.

For our anthology, Darkness Blooms, we’re looking for stories touching on at least one of these themes. We want you to explore the boundaries of who we are, what makes us feel safe (and at what cost), with whom we choose to surround ourselves, and our darkest secrets.

Let’s explore how they influence us and our perception of reality.

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Subscribers gain a number of benefits, including access to secret areas of the site (and our Discord community), 10% off all purchases, and the ability to influence the direction of our anthology projects by participating in polls and project-related discussions. Subscribers are also welcome to participate in our writing group and our book club. Issues are delivered in two formats each quarter: ebook (ePub) and virtual (what you’re looking at here).

As esteemed supporters, subscribers alone receive missives from our editors, and are among the first to know about cool upcoming things.


The Corpsehulk

Chris Black

When the system’s outer colonists are subsumed by smartmetal gone rogue, Winnow finds herself aboard Earth’s makeshift defence fleet. But the Corpsehulk isn’t some simple flesh and chrome invader; it has a vision for humanity, perhaps one that Winnow shares.

Meet the Author

Chris is a long-time reader of cci-fi and fantasy, who often gets his horror kicks by running Call of Cthulhu games. During the day, he pretends to be a pharmacist rather than a fumbling wordsmith, for the sake of both his mortgage and his marriage.

The Guernsey Hunt

by Christina Fanciullo

When Mary Queen of Scots made England Catholic, her supporters were eager to burn heretics—especially wealthy ones. But in burning three women—one of them heavily pregnant—the perpetrators made a terrible mistake. Based on a true story.

Touching Distance

by Vaughan Stanger

A blind man has volunteered to work on a research project that is using tactile feedback supplied by a bodysuit to represent visual information. As he navigates a simulation of an outdoor environment, he encounters virtual ghosts from his past.

Iteration 571

by Dennis Mombauer

Tlachoatl was among the handful of warriors who survived more than five iterations. Half the trick was to anticipate the temple’s changes, to understand its patterns and be prepared. The other half, of course, was improvisation.

And Songs Don't End

by Osahon Ize-Iyamu

A family must deal with the loss of their abusive mother, a constant singer who sang away all the monsters from attacking their dreams.

Meet the Author

Osahon Ize-Iyamu is a Nigerian writer of speculative fiction. He is a graduate of the Alpha Writers Workshop and has been published in FiyahClarkesworld, and The Dark. You can find him online @osahon4545

Fringe Benefits

Larina Warnock

In a dystopian society where employees are covered by productivity insurance, benefits are earned by competing in deadly company picnic games. Unfortunately for Veronica, sleeping with the boss’s wife makes her a prime target.

Meet the Author

Larina’s first poem acceptance happened when she was 16 in a little independent magazine called Night Roses. She sold her first short story years later to Space & Time Magazine. She has also published creative nonfiction and nonfiction related to creative writing. Most recently, her short script “Speechless” was a quarterfinalist in Screencraft’s Short Script competition. Larina edited the online journal The Externalist: A Journal of Perspectives. Her memoir in poetry, Guitar without Strings, was published in 2011. She is currently working on two collections of poetry and her first novel is in the editing phase.

Under the Skin

by David Smith

When a rookie winds up missing, the media call it job pressure. The boys and I call it civic duty.

Star Struck

by Robert Stahl

When Devon looks up into those handsome eyes, he stares for what feels like forever.

The Perfect Match

by ken liu

Sai can’t imagine life without his beloved virtual assistant, Tilly, until his new neighbor Jenny causes him to question her motives, and those of Centillion, the corporation that made her.

Meet the Author

Ken Liu is a multiple Hugo Award-winning American author of science fiction and fantasy. His epic fantasy series The Dandelion Dynasty, the first work in the “silkpunk” genre, is published by Simon & Schuster. His short stories have appeared in F&SFAsimov’sAnalogLightspeedClarkesworld, and multiple “Year’s Best” anthologies. His collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, can be found on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

The Song of the Cicadas Underground

by Evan Marcroft

The daughter of an Irish immigrant returns to her mother’s homeland to search for the remains of her grandmother and to reconnect with her neglected roots. In the course of her mission, however, she learns that some roots are best left underground.

Meet the Author

Evan Marcroft is a speculative fiction writer from California currently residing in Chicago with his wife. Evan uses his expensive degree in literary criticism to do menial data entry, and dreams of writing for video games, but will settle for literature instead. His works of science fiction, fantasy, and spine-curdling horror can be found in a variety of venues across the internet and sometimes in paper.


by Kevin M. Folliard

A workaholic seeking to escape his failed personal relationships seeks solitude in the wilderness, and instead encounters a vicious Satyr, hellbent on sacrificing him.




Shooting the Messenger

by Kamen Pavloff

Paranoic Miles has a healthy fear of vampires, so he’s eager to get out of Italy ASAP, but when people around him start dropping dead, Miles begins to wonder if he’s the real monster.

The Old Fisherman’s Track

by Kris Ashton

When businessman Chris Rowe spots the name ‘Jimmy Hepler’ in a newspaper, it exhumes dark and uncanny events from his childhood in 1986.




Bondye Bon

by Monique L. Desir

Heloise’s mother has a secret locked away. When the strands holding that secret in place start to unravel, Heloise will do anything to stop her life from unraveling with it.

Meet the Author

Monique L. Desir was born and raised in Florida. She’s a full-time reading teacher who hasn’t quite figured out how to escape the Sunshine State and is surviving and thriving within its alligator-infested clutches with her husband and three sons. The daughter of West Indian parents (Haitian father, Jamaican mother), she loves learning about different cultures, languages and people. She binge-watches forensic television shows and Soca dances until she glows. Why? So she can have seconds on cake, of course! Her stories have been published in FIYAH Literary Magazine, Nightlight Podcast, Colorism Essays and Poems, Volume 2, and Rivière Blanche’s 2019 Dimension Uchronie short story anthology.

Stabat Mater

Michael Wehunt

When Nolan’s pregnant wife develops a bizarre fascination with wasps—insects he’s both terrified by and severely allergic to—he’s unsure of how to handle it.

Meet the Author

Michael Wehunt grew up in North Georgia, close enough to the Appalachians to feel them but not quite easily see them. There were woods, and woodsmoke, and warmth. He did not make it far when he left, falling sixty miles south to the lost city of Atlanta, where he lives today, with fewer woods but still many trees. He writes. He reads. Robert Aickman fidgets next to Flannery O’Connor on his favorite bookshelf.

His short fiction has appeared in venues such as Cemetery Dance, The Dark, Shadows & Tall Trees, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction. His debut collection, Greener Pastures, was nominated for both the Shirley Jackson Award and the Crawford Award. It is available now from Apex Book Company.

The Itch

by Mark Towse

Every have an itch so intense you wanted to tear your skin off?

Broken Mirror

by L.P. Melling

I cannot see you again. No matter how much you beg me.

From Underneath 

by Evan James Sheldon

The baby won’t come out from under the bed.

The Editor's Eyes

by Callie Voorhis

The Editor Alice struggles to save her niece in a cyberpunk world of words.

Meet the Author

Calie Voorhis is a life-long fanatic of the fantastic, and internationally published short story writer and poet, with work in the anthologies Anywhere But Earth, DOA – Tales of Extreme Terror (Volumes I and II), Specter Spectacular, and the Urban Green Man Anthology, among others. She holds a BS in Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill, an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and is an Odyssey workshop alumna.

The Wallpaper Man

caleb stephens

An old, salt-rusted Victorian with big dormer windows and a swooping front porch. A new house. A new town. A fresh start. A monster whispering through the wallpaper.

Shadow Puppets

caleb stephens

Kyle has a new neighbor at Valley Acres Trailer Park—a strange, pale girl named Winter, who has an abusive father…and a rare allergy to the sun.

Meet the Author

Caleb Stephens is a dark fiction author writing from somewhere deep in the Colorado mountains. His short stories have been published by The Wicked Library Podcast, Scare You To Sleep Podcast, and Suspense Magazine, among others. He is represented by Ann Collette of the Rees Literary Agency and is currently at work on his next novel.

Three Data Units

by Kitty Lydia Dye

An AI reviews the data units of three disabled mecha—a blackbird, a caregiver, and a gatekeeper—whose stories entwine, and profoundly change the AI’s understanding of humanity and the role technology plays in their lives.

Meet the Author

Kitty-Lydia Dye is a writer and artist from Norfolk, UK. Her works are mainly inspired by folktales and the haunting landscape of the Broads, often finding ways of weaving different genres together–the beauty of ivy against metal. She enjoys watching the waves at night and exploring church ruins with her dog Bramble.

A Gardener's GUide to the Apocalypse

by Lynette Mejia

A story about disaster and how we endure in its aftermath, “A Gardener’s Guide” follows a gardener and her partner through a year, post-apocalypse.

Meet the Author

Lynette Mejía writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror prose and poetry from the middle of a deep, dark forest in the wilds of southern Louisiana. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Rhysling Award and the Million Writers Award. Her stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction and Nature: Futures, and her poetry can be found at Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, Star*Line, and other venues. You can find her online at


by Gourab Hazra

A richer golden than the exotic tresses / A lusher meat than the cajoling lips.

Feast Your Eyes

by Avra Margariti

A poem about two sacrificial lambs.


By Thomas Gaffney

Your vision clears when you’ve been in the ground with nothing but time.

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