1 Nov

So, each year, as part of our annual Episodes from the Zero Hour! Halloween entry, I write an original short story related to monsters, Halloween, etc… This year, I sort of down-played the tradition a bit.  Things in the personal life have been rough, and when you can’t spend as much time as you used to with your kids, particularly on your favorite day of the year, it kind of dulls the creative spark.  But traditions are traditions, and we have to keep up traditions.

This year, I’ve started playing around with my gritty, hard-boiled crime voice (which I will share on here with you, I promise!), and as a result, my Halloween story this year is a bit of a genre mash-up.  Hope you enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

The Fix

By: Jason Butkowski


The moment the needle pierced the soft skin on the inside of a junkie’s elbow was always the hardest part for Dmitry.

Keep it together. Stay cool, bro. Don’t let him know… Continue reading

Noir at the Bar: New Brunswick

24 May

Noir at the Bar poster, 5-24-15I’ll be reading tonight as part of the Noir at the Bar: New Brunswick event at Tumulty’s Pub in New Brunswick, NJ. If you’re a fan of twisted, hard-boiled crime fiction and live in and around the Hub City, this is an event not to be missed. Some great writers are on the bill, and I believe there will be some give-aways as well.

I’ll be reading one of my original short stories, once I decide which one I actually want to read (harder than it looks). Hope to see many friendly faces out there!



HALLOWEEN STORY 2 — The Emperess Cicada

3 Nov

And here’s my second story from Episodes from the Zero Hour!‘s Halloween 2014 short story collection.  And yes, I know that’s now how you spell “Empress.”  I was using an archaic spelling for effect.  So it’s not just a typo.  So quit harassin’ me…



The Emperess Cicada


My dear friend,

I know that it has been far too long since our last communication. My work, unfortunately, leaves little time for idle correspondence; as does your own. However, I have recently come across a matter of interest, and given our shared affection for stories of the strange and unusual, I thought you would enjoy hearing this one.

In many of the native traditions of the indigenous peoples of the American colonies, there exists a peculiar legend about the end of the world. As most aboriginal legends tend to be associated with the natural order of things, this one is no exception. Continue reading


3 Nov

So, 10 months since my last new story and post on here, and that whole “Write More in the New Year” resolution seems to be a bust.  But aren’t New Years Resolutions meant to be broken?

In any event, I’m a bit better at keeping Halloween traditions than I am with New Year’s Resolutions.  Below is a Halloween short story (1 of 2) that I posted for the annual Episodes from the Zero Hour! Halloween short story collection.  Enjoy!



Slow Burn

The world was going to shit.

I know every generation says the same thing. My parents, in their time, said it. My grandparents said it. But this time, it was actually happening. The human race had reached the end of its rope, the foot was on the accelerator, and the space between the car and the cliff was getting smaller and smaller by the moment.

It started innocuously enough. One or two fucked up stories in the news. Half-naked cannibals in Florida… the newscasters said it was because the assailant was on “bath salts.” First time I ever heard the term. Then some humans doing downright inhuman things in Jersey. Relatives, family friends, savagely attacking and killing children. Bad weed, according to police reports.

You see, people were shocked, and then they moved on. We all had our problems. As long as the drug-addled psychos didn’t bother us, we thought we didn’t have to pay any of it much attention.

But then things started getting bad for everybody. Continue reading

NEW STORY — The Calm of His Storm

25 Jan

AUTHOR’S NOTE — As part of my New Year’s Resolutions, I told myself that I wanted to write and create a lot more in 2014 than I did in 2013.  In order to help me out with that, my friend, PIC (partner-in-crime) and constant-thorn-in-my-side who forces me to live up to such frivolous things as New Year’s Resolutions, Anthony Schiavino, sent me a writing assignment — he shared the photo below, and I had to write whatever I wanted, prompted by that photo.  What follows is something I’m sure none of my regular readers would expect from me… a love story.

Special thanks to Anthony, for pushing me to write this, and Anthony and Kelly Anne Milo for serving as my editorial / sounding board.

The Calm of His Storm

by Jason Butkowski

“There’s something about mass transit that’s just so fucking arrogant.”

“What?” she asked, while absently fiddling with her iPod in the next seat.

“I don’t mean the act of it,” he said. “I suppose that can be downright humbling… herding a bunch of cattle into a tin can and firing it at breakneck speeds through a series of concrete tubes. I mean, that part probably has a way of putting us all on a level playing field, I guess. But just the concept of mass transit. It’s like, with roads, for the most part, they have to follow the basic contours of nature.” Continue reading

The Fault of the Flesh [short fiction]

31 Oct
Photograph and Design © Kelly Anne Milo, KanneMilo Photography

Photograph and Design © Kelly Anne Milo, KanneMilo Photography


Too soon. It was all happening too soon, too fast.

He forced himself forward, trying to push beyond the pain welling up inside his body, but it was simply no use. His legs buckled as the first shock wave hit him in the stomach before creeping through his extremities. He collapsed in a heap and rolled over onto his back, staring skyward, pleading for mercy. The light from the full moon broke through the canopy above, mocking him for his foolishness. As if he could have outrun the curse…

As the pain coursed through his body, he tried to remember what it was like before all this had started. It had been seven months since that night with the damn gypsy witch. They had both been so young and stupid. The next morning, he got up to leave, and that’s when she condemned him to his fate with her strange hex. He wrote it off as the ranting of a jilted, superstitious lunatic. Transformation by the light of the full moon? Utter nonsense. But then that first full moon came, and, well… he quickly became a convert.

The throbbing behind his eyes made it hard to focus. Have to stay in control. Have to keep my wits.

Continue reading

Spooky Stories ‘Round the Ol’ Camp Fire….

25 Oct

ImageEvery Halloween, we do something special over at the Episodes from the Zero Hour! site (visit us here).  Yesterday, we announced that the Trick ‘R Treats this year would come in the form of werewolf flash fiction short stories, and we put out the call for other writers to join Anthony and me on the theme.  If you’re interested in checking out the particulars, go here.

This Halloween tradition was established early on in the existence of the Zero Hour! site, and plays into our idea that technology should make it easier to tell stories.  Of course, as I continue meticulously working through the copy-edits of the latest Zero Hour! anthology, I know that sometimes that’s not the case.  But for the most part, and especially with a blog, ideas should be able to leap from your head to the screen and to your audience without much of an intermediary.

That’s why doing a Flash Fiction challenge appealed to us.  At the end of it all, Anthony and I publish our own books, and do our own thing through the Episodes from the Zero Hour! imprint, because we’re storytellers, first and foremost, and are more interested in our audience than in fat advance checks (although, if anyone’s offering, we’d gladly take you up on that, too). Continue reading