Open Call Fiction Anthology

With the successful completion of our first open call we’re ready to jump on the next project. Our second anthology will be released November 1st.

Last time we started with a broad theme – tolerance and intolerance, and set a few genre restrictions. This time we’re starting with a title:

The Twilight Madhouse

No, we are not looking for Twilight fan fiction. We are looking for short stories that deal with the grey area between night and day, between sanity and madness, good and evil, monster and hero … you get the point. Any genre will be considered.

Submission length: 1,000-15,000 words. This is a loose guideline. Don’t self reject if you are a little longer or shorter. If in doubt, send us a note with the word count and we’ll let you know if it’s something we’d consider.

We require at least 5 stories to publish. We’d like to reach 10. If by some miracle of the internet we get tons of high quality stories we’ll publish two volumes.

Please submit using the contact form on the blog – copy and paste your story into the comment/contact box. If your story is accepted we will request a .doc file.

As stated in our submission guidelines authors will be paid a royalty split which will be paid out 6 months after the release date and on the anniversary of the release date yearly. We pay via paypal. Authors will also be sent a copy of the book in the digital format of their choice with the understanding that it is for personal use only. We request first digital, or reprint, rights. All the details will be provided in a contract sent out in September.


Authors will be notified before September 10, 2017

Authors may submit more than one story though only one will be selected per volume. We accept simultaneous submissions and reprints (so long as the rights have reverted back to you).

Any questions? Just ask!


Submissions Received: 18

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16 Responses to Open Call Fiction Anthology

  1. Sheepy-Pie says:

    Shared on the fantasy forum 🙂
    Sounds like a great opportunity and my sort of thing 😀 definitely going to try and enter. Now to start planning!


  2. paws4puzzles says:

    Reblogged this on Paws4Thought and commented:
    Interesting call for submissions that I know some of my followers may appreciate.


  3. Thank you for this opportunity!


  4. Chris Keaton says:

    Will this be sold in paperback?


  5. Sarah Cannavo says:

    I recently submitted my short story for The Twilight Madhouse anthology on your contact page, and I was wondering if you had received it (I don’t know if you send confirmation emails or not, because if you do I didn’t receive one, that’s the only reason I ask).


  6. Please use the contact form to submit your story. I recommend editing your comment to remove the story text as right now anyone can view it.


  7. Sara says:

    “As stated in our submission guidelines authors will be paid a royalty split which will be paid out 6 months after the release date and on the anniversary of the release date yearly.”

    Can you give any information about how previous anthologies have sold, and what type of royalties authors have received?


  8. “The Galvanic” is a reprint (reprint rights in my possession) first published in LORE, Autumn 1997, set in the 19th century and on the gray area between death and life. I hope you’ll like it and will look forward to your report.

    James S. Dorr About 3600 words
    1404 East Atwater Ave.
    Bloomington, IN USA 47401
    (812) 332-6668
    Active Member SFWA, HWA

    By James Dorr

    “Ye may say that bankers have hearts of flint,” Dr. N______ proclaimed — I will not say what his name was here, though you would recognize it if you saw it — “or likewise men of the legal professions, but I will tell you that there are none so hard and unyielding as those of our own Edinburgh physicians.”
    We strained to hear him, my fellow neophytes and I, as we waited in the dimly lit chamber above Surgeons’ Hall for what was to be our first full-body anatomy session. The gas jets’ hiss vied with his words for our instructor was quite into his years, so old in fact that he himself had studied under the notorious Dr. Knox, and, prior to that, both Drs. Monro, secundus et tertius. His voice thus could rise to little more than a whisper, but he whose work on The Branchings of the Human Nerve System is still read today, continued to perform demonstrations as his health permitted. And even when not he remained with the College, as he did this night, if not to deliver the lecture from the platform behind the cadaver himself, then at least to wield the exemplary pointer.
    Oh, his hands were still steady, if his voice was not — more steady that night than those of some of our own young students, I would dare say myself. One of our fellows had already fainted, in anticipation, and more than one looked a bit green at the jowls. But the old man went on.
    “Let me tell you,” he said, “of the corpse you will be seeing cut open soon. But before even that, let me tell you a story. . . .”
    In days some time back (the aged surgeon said), before the Warburton Anatomy Act was finally passed in ’32 which thus allowed subjects for lectures as this night’s to be come by legally, there were men — often of dubious honesty — who had to be dealt with, known variously as “Resurrectionists” or “Sack-’em-up Men.” These were the ones who supplied the bodies for Schools such as this one, as well as the various private lectures most physicians offered.
    The money was good, you see, for their labors. Cadavers were needed — they had to be gotten — and therefore could command prices of thirty or forty pounds or more to those that dug them up. More than enough to provide a living for men with little of education and still less of morals, even when out of the take would come bribes for churchyard sextons, and guards and others, to find different places to cast their eye when the digging and sacking were going on.
    So it was too, though, that some cut corners — the Burkes and Hares of our fair city, the Bishops and Mays of London, and others — and some of the corpses received were, to put a delicate point to it, overly fresh. And others were stolen from fellow Sack-’em-ups, often from Ireland and shipped to our own shores. Gangs roamed the streets for that, robbers of robbers, and not averse to “Burking” their own fellows should the opportunity come for it, requiring only that first there be liquor sufficient to quiet the intended victim in order that the corpse be procured without marks of violence.
    Oh, those were shameful days, made all the worse by the rivalries among our own physicians — stealing students one from the other to increase their own fees as well as their learning. But as one’s number of students grew larger, so too did the need for more bodies in order to support yet more lectures. And so the cycle grew, feeding upon itself. Corpses were often mailed in from the countryside by rural constables, seeking to turn a profit from other people’s misfortunes. Bodies from hospitals sometimes were “mislaid” before they could be claimed by grieving relations. And we, the physicians, the doctors and students, did nothing to stop this. We needed cadavers. One cannot bring an ill person to health unless one has first learned the body’s workings, how flesh and muscle and bone and sinew are put together, how nerves and blood vessels bring spark and nutrition to all fleshly parts, that the whole might enjoy life. And thus we, life’s saviors or so we would hope to be, given enough learning and enough skill, contributed most in our own at-all-costs-avoid-questioning-too-deeply-whence-subjects-came way to what had become the mockery of death’s peace.
    And then, Burke and Hare. As I said before, though others preceded them, the need for bodies became so great that some did not even go to the churchyard, but rather selected the poor, the friendless, the widowed, the lonely, the all-but-forgotten shadows of humankind, lost in its corners — or so they thought! — and did them in on the very streets! And all for the rapaciousness of we, the doctors.
    Of course they were needed. The bodies, that is. Science could not advance without them, both for demonstrations for learning, and for other matters. And so too were the Sack-’em-ups needed in increasing numbers, the latter of course to supply of the former.
    But when the ghastly art turned to murder . . . ah, that’s when the outcry went up of “foul!” Bad enough to rob graves, and now the public had roused itself up against the ghouls. And against the ghouls’ employers as well.
    Knox, who in innocence had but received a fresh-murdered body, found his career ruined. His house nearly burned down. And yet, for us others, by now there was no stopping receiving corpses, whatever their provenance, lest their suppliers should peach on us and we be ruined too.
    Thus was the winter of 1830, a year after Burke’s hanging and, by the irony of the law at that time, anatomizing by Monro tertius in public session as warning to others who might perform murder. I had of course left Dr. Knox by then — to have done otherwise would have been unsafe — sojourning on the Continent some while with Prof. F______ and Dr. T______. And so, when I returned to Scotland intending to start my own surgical practice, I found conditions somewhat changed.
    Oh, the old rivalries among physicians still continued, if anything fiercer than when I had left, but the Resurrectionists’ ways had evolved as they, too, had been forced to take a lower profile. Needing cadavers, I found an Irishman who could provide them. But as that winter proceeded on to spring, all of a sudden, as these things would happen from time to time, the supply dwindled.
    I could not find other Sack-’em-up Men to augment this supply without incurring the wrath of the man I was already in with. Such was the power these men had over us — blackmailers, really, as they turned out to be — that it was almost as if we did their bidding than they did ours. And so my Irishman, when I accosted him about the necessity of getting new corpses, put this somewhat peculiar proposition to me:
    “Guv’nor,” he said, “I do have this one body, and it shall be yours as soon as it’s ready. And I can get others on similar terms. But ye must pay first. Ye get me drift on this?”
    I shook my head. “No.” I did not get his drift, yet.
    He explained himself further. “The body is mine. As ye see, I’m in ill health — I shan’t have much time left in any event so I may as well spend me last months in comfort.” He coughed as if to underscore his point, but I believed him. The work at night. The digging of corpses, some that had passed away of diseases. Not to mention the wrath of the mob that still persisted, making it dangerous for one to be seen on the city’s streets at night with just so much as a pick or a shovel. All these conspired to make Resurrection work, at the least, an unhealthy trade.
    “But,” I protested, “I need a cadaver now. Whether yours or not — and, yes, I see now your hand’s palsied shaking and have no doubt of its readiness soon — it must be in my chambers by tomorrow.”
    “Yes,” said my Irishman. “I understand that. But, as I grow frail in my labor, so too has my sister who, as luck would have it, passed on just this evening. She had no friends, Guv’nor. I’ve told no one of it. And so I suggest to ye that if ye buy my corse on promise, to use as it’s ready, I’ll sell ye hers also.”
    What choice had I then? To buy an option on this man’s own corpse struck me as foolish. Should he renege later, what recourse would there be? Surely not that of law! And, as I discovered the following winter when, as if by a miracle, his health had come back sufficiently for him to force me to buy a renewal on it, I was more than foolish. And yet, whether it be that of his sister, or of some poor streetwalker he’d had his eye on intending a Burking, I did need a body. And I needed it quickly.
    And so, God help me, I took up his offer.
    Dr. N______ paused then and signaled one of us to bring him down a pitcher of water. While we waited, I thought I could hear the creak of a door downstairs, and then a faint whirring. The opening, possibly, of a back entrance to the hall, as well, who knows?, as the buzz of flies maybe. The night was quite warm and even though, under the present law, paupers’ bodies could be got from hospitals provided no relatives stood in objection — and that they be given good Christian burial when they were done with — sometimes they would still not be quite of the freshest. And then the faint sound of a gasp — a shriek, maybe.
    But by then Dr. N______ had received his water and, confirming that the lecture would indeed be starting shortly, he placed the emptied glass back on its tray and continued his story.
    Was this Irishman a Burker? A murderer as well as a robber of churchyards? I have little doubt he was. You see, among doctors, though rivals we were, it was quite difficult for such things to be kept a secret. Our rivalry itself was the cause — we eagerly stole students from one another, passing them back and forth just as first one, then another of us would gain reputation for some new technique or experimentation. And so I had my share of others’ students, as they had of mine, and these students brought gossip. Including gossip about this man who supplied to others as well as to me.
    But that does not matter, concerning my story. What does is this: That my Irishman had become too greedy. I heard the gossip and soon ascertained that I was not the only surgeon who had paid him well, and continued to pay, for the promise of the use of his own body.
    And so I called truce among us surgeons, discussing this, my new found knowledge, first with Dr. B______ the Elder, then with the others, and confirmed that all, or nearly all, of the prominent surgeons of Edinburgh had paid this man for his corpse after death. Indeed, some had paid him for many years for it.
    Now when our meeting occurred was in late spring, and then, as now, the Schools closed down from May to October. Thus we determined a confrontation, having no fear of repercussion — at least in terms of his refusing to supply us further should we press him too far — in that we still should have plenty of time to find new sources for the next session. We queried our students and, sure enough, there were several who had an idea of where our man resided. And so one evening the first week of May we marched to the poorer section of town, a fair mob ourselves of torch-bearing doctors, to have it out with him.
    What we would have done with him I do not know, except he was forewarned and, seeing our approach from his windows, determined to flee. He lit out a back gate of his tenement and, with us nearly upon his heels, coursed down winding streets and cobble-stoned alleys, often in darkness or nearly in darkness. So the pursuit went, a mile or more, with all the time a fog starting to rise up out of the Firth, when, all of a sudden, he dodged out into the lights of a wide square and directly into the path of a carriage.
    The driver pulled his horses up as best he could, but already it was too late to avoid him. We, as doctors, of course took the body that even though most terribly trampled, still had some spark of life left within it. We took him to Surgeons’ Square and to this very building here and, such was our oath, we did the best we knew how to save him. To save his worthless life which before — who knows what we might have done in our anger? And yet. . . .
    Dr. N______ paused again to take more water. His voice had been failing, and yet we’d been listening with such rapt attention I doubt a one of us had missed a single word. In the silence we heard the gas jets and, underneath, in the hall below, the sounds of rustling. Of surgical instruments being made ready. A soft keening sound like the grunt of a workman, perhaps in his straining to move the table the subject of the night would be laid on.
    And then, the strength of his voice renewed somewhat, the old man continued.
    God help me, I say. We are all of us God-fearing men in this room, I think. Learning the wonder of God’s creation, the image of God laid out in Man’s body, despite what some of the Rationalists say can only serve to strengthen our Faith, not to cause it to falter. And yet, as we struggled to save this poor man’s life, despite the grievance we justly had of him, I saw the looks of my fellow doctors. I saw how they glanced as the spark of life faded, then finally snuffed out, as if it were pity his corpse had been trampled and so, unless the tedious work of repairing its damage be somehow accomplished before it go bad, was of no use to them.
    And, moreover, it was nearly summer. . . .
    At last first one, and then another, gave up the task. Dr. M______ signed the death certificate, then singly and in pairs they departed, some of them murmuring that, at the end, the Irishman had at least saved them the problem of which, of the many he had sold himself to, would be able to lay claim upon him.
    But I, I had studied in France as I say, and also Vienna. I had studied under T______ and F______ who, in their own turn, had been disciples of the celebrated Franz Anton Mesmer. I had a grounding, rare for a Scottish surgeon at that time, in the theories of Galvani, that animal life was the cause of electromagnetic force, and of their refutation by Volta. And I had, myself, formulated my own thoughts. Thus, alone with this newly-dead subject, unable to save him by other means, I now determined to try these out. I called for servants, had them bring me Voltaic cells, a large tub of water, and salts and powders and coils of copper wire. Into the tub I placed the Irishman, fixing the coils to his hands and feet, and started the current. I fully expected his feet to kick, as Galvani’s frogs’ legs did, a mere reaction as Volta had proved to the force that flowed into them from the charged cells. But I also expected, as Mesmer had, that there might be more to it, that Volta as well had not seen the whole picture. And so I proved that night.
    I never did publish the whole that I learned. And that for good reason. But Volta was wrong in not following up his work’s conclusions. That, yes, it was true that animal life was not the creator of electrical forces, but — and this he failed to see — quite the opposite thing was the case. That Galvani, after all, had been the farther along the correct track.
    That, properly applied to a subject, electrical force was the cause of life.
    “But why?” one of we students interrupted as our aged instructor once more briefly paused. “That is, you say you still did not publish. . . ?”
    And then we heard again the odd buzzing noise from the hall below us, but louder this time and surely not of flies. Rather of some kind of apparatus. And with it a loud scream!
    The old man nodded.
    I’m almost finished (he assured us) but there is your answer. It lies in the pain. I brought the Irishman back to life, but the first thing he did when I did so was howl in anguish. The current coursing through his body — it must have hurt dreadfully. And yet I kept it on, modulating it, turning it down to a tiny trickle — his cries to a low moan — but never having quite the courage to shut it entirely off. Rather I called back my fellow surgeons, having servants rouse them from their homes, from their very beds, to see this miracle I had accomplished. They, as I, agreed that unless I find some way to prevent the unimaginable suffering that this treatment necessarily brought with it, I should not publish a word of my findings. But also they agreed, even though the certificate be signed, that in that I had restored the corpse to life, it would be a violation of our solemn oath as physicians should any one of us endeavor to end it.
    And yet . . . and I ask you now to remember what I said of flint hearts when I began this. And bankers and those of the legal professions.
    For one of our number recalled the contracts. The contracts that each and every one of us had in possession, signed by this man’s hand, willing to each the use of his corpse upon death for anatomical demonstration.
    And, further, that Dr. M______ had signed the death writ.
    And yes — you hear him now! — that selfsame Irishman, that Galvanic, that resurrected-himself-Resurrectionist, his still living cadaver long since repaired of its trampling, laid on the table below in the Hall awaiting our presence. We will get him drunk first, before we cut him, to deaden not so much the agony of his dissection, but rather to quiet him lest his continuing shrieks otherwise interrupt the lecture. And then, once more, we shall repair him of any damage — and some of the brighter of you may help us — for he will be used again and again, as he has before, waiting the time between each year’s new lecture, each new group of students, within his tub in the building’s basement, the current turned down as much as we dare. But still with him always.
    And so you have now a lesson of surgeons, what you will become yourselves. And you know now of their minds that can match wits with barristers’ when it comes to enforcing contracts. And hearts of flint as stone-hard as bankers’ in calculating the compounds of interest and drawing out worth to its final penny.
    But there is another thing too you have learned now: A surgeon’s faith in God. And in the life God grants to each of us, through whatever means, and the alternative lest you should think that keeping this man in pain as we do for repeated cuttings might tinge of cruelness.
    He did, after all, sign a number of contracts, which to break would violate God’s law as well as Scotland’s; and, for all we know, he may also have at times committed murder. We do know he was a cheat, and a blackmailer. We know thus something of his soul’s condition, you see, and what would become of it should we release it.
    And that is the crux. We argued it, yes, throughout that whole summer, I often as not saying “No! Let him die now!” But I at last, also, was brought to consensus:
    That this is our oath, as God is my witness, to heal the sick — to bring the ill comfort in soul as in body. To pass on this teaching even as we are about to commence in the chamber below a few moments henceforth.
    And, thus, what we do is an act of mercy.

    – END –


    • Please do not post stories in the comments. Please use the contact form as requested in the submission guidelines. Your story is currently public on the site but is not being read or considered by the editor.


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