Stephen Hill: The Sword is Nothing

While the land of Old Cuthald’un had but one language, there were many dialects that betrayed minor differences. One could attain a basic understand of each culture by contrasting their different meanings of the phrase:
Al kchuck mena sens alek starabanna galim aggrio
In the western isles, it translated simply and practically as “The winter wind yields but few rewards for the desperate man.”
To the east, it was a widely feared war cry. It was a proclamation of brute strength, stating that “Only the mighty can withstand the northern furies.”
The peaceful Southern swamp farmers educated their children with the same phrase. It taught them that “Wise families save half their bread for darker days”.
Over the centuries, the northern meaning of the phrase has been lost. However, it is believed to have some deep spiritual meaning as it is traditionally spoken by holy men during the burial rites.

Huddled near a small campfire on the ridge of the Devil Back Mountains is a hunter of eastern descent. His hand rests on a violent looking bastard sword and he is surrounded by a blizzard of lazy snowflakes. The blade’s point is buried deep in the snow, icicles having already formed along the ridge. The cold steel has been nicked many times, but it is well kept and lovingly sharpened. The wind screams in the hunter’s one remaining ear as the night chill cuts through his clothes. The air stabs painfully in his lungs, but his breath is steady. Beneath his cloak, he fingers a small copper coin. It feels warm in his hand.

He was thinking to himself, wondering what sort of monster might have killed that goat…

The freezing temperatures on Devil Back had preserved the unfortunate creature. Only the eyes had decayed away, over who knows how many days or weeks. Both of its horns had been snapped off, but there were no teeth or claw marks on the torso. Instead, its legs were mangled, as though it had fallen from a great height. But, as the hunter looked about him, there was nothing here to drop from. No overhang or ledges. It was curious…

He found himself thinking of swamp Basilisks. Slower than typical lizards, they could belch a poisonous gas that caused paralysis in its victims. However, despite being bigger than most dogs, their bulging eyes were considerably larger than their small stomachs.
And of course, they weren’t strong enough to drag large animals far. A lot of farmers in the south woke to find their cattle dead, but mostly intact. However, their flesh would be intoxicated and unfit for eating. Basilisks couldn’t survive the cold northern winds however. Maybe…

A sudden gust of wind threatened to put out the hunter’s campfire. He huddled closer and tried to kindle it as best he could. His mind strayed momentarily to warm fires and tankards brimming with Redwater whiskey.

…Maybe it had been a flying Mantrap. The hunter was familiar with these, having slain quite a few in the eastern mountains. The walking, insect-like varieties were large, stealthy hunters. They liked to hide in foliage with only their agape mouths showing. When unsuspecting victims would walk by, they charged as fast as their many legs could carry them, pounced and devoured their prey. The speed at which could crunch through bones was nightmarish. The flying Mantraps were smaller but louder, and considerably more aggressive. They had an extra set of teeth, used for tearing instead of chewing. The hunter remembered, scratching the remnants of his ear, he remembered how sharp they could be. They attacked in pairs, screeching and grabbing at prey with their talons. Once lifted high enough, they would drop them like stones in an ocean. They were sadistic creatures, but also hunters like him. They did not leave food to waste.

Still scratching at his mangled ear, the hunter stared at the goat searchingly. He had attempted to cut some meat from it for the fire, but the flesh was frozen solid. And though he was sure a Basilisk hadn’t poisoned it, he wasn’t eager for goat-meat until he knew how it had been killed.  He searched his memory for beasts native to the North, his hand returning inside his cloak to finger the coin. When he had been asked to slay the “Hillyss Monsarium”, the ‘Beast of the Mountain’ or ‘Monster of the Mountain’, he’d expected a Garriswulf. Larger than the Greywulf, Garriswulves were taller than horses and faster still. He’d heard stories of Garriswulves being ridden into battle centuries ago. It didn’t seem likely to him. He’d encountered one or two on his hunts. Evil creatures…
They could be outsmarted with the proper tools and a well-placed trap. He briefly recollected listening to a Garriswulf’s alternating snarl and whine as he stood atop a pit that he himself had lined with sharpened stakes. He pulled his travelling cloak tighter, appreciating their thick pelts in hindsight.

There would be none of that here, he thought to himself, glancing up and down Devil Back mountain ridge. Here, it would just be him, his sword and his reflexes. He wished it would find him soon… Whatever this creature was, he would be able to see it coming. Up here, there was nothing at all to see except the flurries of snow against the dark blue sky and the mountain itself. Whatever “Hillys Monsarium” was, it would die by his sword.

He flitted the coin between his fingers one last time before putting it in his pouch and rising from the fire. He would let it burn in the hopes it might attract the beast’s attention. He had nearly cleared the Devil Back and could see the Shoulder of Heaven rising before him in the distance. It would be a difficult climb, especially now that the wind was picking up. He stared at the high rise with a cautious dread.

A large snowflake landed below his eye and, after a moment’s pause, he reached up to crush it with his fingertip.



Stephen Hill is a writer living in Dublin. He writes and edits articles online for web-site Bone-idle, contributes to underground zine The Runt and occasionally writes a barbed comment on the Twitter. He aims to get published someday, with his own line of Young Adult horror novellas (a la  Goosebumps)

Aisling Lynch: A Brief Summary of The Brian Monster Face

Over the years, the general description of the Brian Monster Face has become somewhat misleading through several layers of urban legend and heaps of exaggeration by certain public servants. Below is a direct quote from a private citizen with first hand experience of the creature.

“Don’t get me started on this Brian Monster Face chap, he’s rather a silly creature. He can go eat the most vile, vomit inducing worms out of the cold hard ground. He is a menace to society and must be stopped. No bakery within 10 miles of him is safe.”[1]

As far as the human race knows, there is only one of the species in existence. He has the complexion of a wild boar in spring time and often times, in the personal opinion of this reporter, the temperament of an angry beaver.

A strange, baffling creature with many flaws to note that impair the quality of life for those around him, the Brian Monster Face is known for his thieving and scalwaggery which he (quite disgustingly) practices openly against the general public. However, scientists have argued for years that the Brian Monster Face is one of the most docile creatures on planet earth. If you should ever find yourself face to face with a charging, semi-irate Brian Monster Face all that is required to subdue this raging hormonal beast is a well timed scratch behind the ears or a well aimed chocolate projectile.

Despite his coarse nature the Brian Monster Face has fascinated zoologists and scientists with his ability to adapt to most harsh environments. Like a snake in the Sahara, the Brian Monster Face will shed his skin for another more befitting of the climate, or to protect itself from vicious enemies (such as Steve Dragons or Film Critics). This reporter has personally seen him don scales, porcupine spikes, fur, and crystal skin.

However awesome this ability may be, this prevents the Brian Monster Face from enjoying most physical contact from humans and even animals. People have been left scarred by simple hugs, bunnies and kittens flee from the prospect of his touch. It is a lonely life for the Brian Monster Face.

Another amazing feature of the Brian Monster Face, as well as his ability to adapt, is his general rapidly changing physiology. The Brian Monster Face is prone to almost instant evolution whenever it feels up to it really. This has resulted in some fascinating features that have left wildlife photographers dumbfounded. For example; some say the Brian Monster Face once had a pair of magnificent deer horns on his head which subsequently rotted away to give ample balance for two large bat wings on either side of his face.

It has also been rumoured that his teeth are made of an unbreakable stone, apparently set by a tribe of mountain trolls after an altercation with a Minotaur caused him to lose the original ones (allegedly he lost them during after losing a vicious game of scrabble but at present there are no witness accounts of the ordeal to prove this to be true).

There has been photographic evidence of a tail, once the most famous trait of the Brian Monster Face. It was reported to be about 5 feet tall, the colour of moss and as bushy as something incredibly bushy. As magnificent as it may sound, the tail was actually a haven for termites, lice and the occasional garden snake. In fact, some rumours on the tail have suggested there was a thriving society of woodland creatures living within its furry tresses that eventually migrated to the beard region of the Brian Monster Face.

The tail also had a pungent tip which we believe was originally intended to paralyze enemies of the Brian Monster Face although this never really proved to be an effective weapon. Witness accounts have revealed that the spores on the tail’s tip only released a mild stimulant that smelled vaguely of marshmallows[2], all it really did was attract bears. Eventually the tail wore itself down and all that remains of it is a small tuft of mossy fur just above the fearsome buttocks of the Brian Monster Face.

Specialists at the Centre for Strange and Freaky Animals are still trying to pin down all of the physiological and emotional traits of the Brian Monster Face. However, studies have abruptly stopped due to his recent escape from an isolated prison off the coast of Alaska.

It is the hope of all of us hard working people at the CSFA that the Brian Monster Face will be caught, brought to justice for the 237 worldwide cookie thefts and studied further for hardcore science-y reasons[3]

So, what other mysteries will this strange beast reveal to us? What unearthly, bewildering act will he horrify the world with next?

Only time will tell.

[1] Stephen Hill, Interview with a Stephen, 2014

[2] The Brian Monster Face is said to live only on processed food and baked goods and uses the scents of them, we assume, for hunting purposes. We are unsure if he is aware that this comes across as very silly.

[3] Sir Elderdandy Stranglefoot the Third, Founding Member of the CSFA, 2014



Aisling Lynch is a licenced daydreamer and full time practitioner of nonsense. Sometimes she writes it down. Sometimes she doesn’t and eats a sandwich.

The Brian Monster Face has been known to write fiction of his own.

Brian Dunster: Black

On the darkest planet, deep inside its darkest cave, dwells a creature with the darkest soul. It is known throughout the cosmos as the single most darkest thing in existence. The creature itself has never been seen, though some claim it is at least two hundred feet long with serpent wings. The stories are often varied depending on who is telling them. But they are made only to frighten little children. The stories made to frighten adults are far more terrifying.

It is true that the creature has never been seen, it has no physical form we could possibly recognise. But its presence, as you near the planet, is unmistakable. A sudden frost sweeps over the heart and the mouth begins to taste of ash. The body turns to stone and the mind forgets the simplest things, such as breathing. You’ll feel utterly alone, yet convinced something is watching in the shadows. It’ll drain you of love, happiness, and ambition, leaving behind only fear, helplessness, anger, and an empty shell of flesh to rot in the void.

Many people have gone in search of the creature with the darkest soul. Some for fame and glory. Others hoping to make their fortune. A soul as black as the darkest corners of space would fetch quite a price. But all those who tried were never heard from again. Their curiosity consumed them. Their greed twisted them. They must have known they were doomed from the beginning. No being can withstand the creature. Its pull is too strong. Its hunger too great. Only fools venture into the stars to find it, and lend themselves to its legend when they don’t return.

But I have something that they did not have. A plan. A way to deflect the creature’s natural ability to consume a human soul. I spent years developing the proper shielding, perfecting its design, running thousands of tests, calculating every possible variable, programming every conceivable frequency. And unlike the others who came before me, seeking riches and infamy, my quest is pure. I merely wish to study the creature and to understand it. I want to learn all I can and return to publish my findings. I won’t end up in another fool’s campfire story. And once I regain control of my body, I’ll be able to do what no other human could, I’ll bring back that creature’s soul and laugh in the faces of those who laughed in mine. They’ll see. They’ll remember me. And they’ll regret everything.



Brian Dunster studied in the art of screenwriting, and when he’s not writing for the silver screen he likes to delve into the world of short fictional prose. To misquote Andy Dufresne, “You either get busy writing, or get busy dying.” You can find some of his short films at

Brian has also been documented in the wild.

Ben Ryan




Ben Ryan is an American but lives in Killarney, Co. Kerry. He is a visual artist, illustrator and printmaker. He studied with the American Academy of Art in Chicago in the early 90’s. He then went to work as a scenic artist producing backdrops and murals for the advertising and film industries. He is an independent artist looking to freelance.

Ben tends to pull ideas from various sources such as film, music, literature and history. He is currently working on a graphic novel and preparing for an exhibition in the autumn.

Graham Redmond




Graham Redmond is a Visual Arts Practice graduate of IADT, working in art therapy /social care setting. He is living and working in Enniscorthy, Co.Wexford. This piece is about addiction, and the ramifications it causes.

Ronan O’Reilly




Ronan O’Reilly, born in Kildare, is an artist working in Dublin. He graduated from Dublin Institute of Technology with a BA in Fine Art in 2015. His work consists of painting and drawing, and is concerned with the dialogue between the conscious and the unconscious mind.

For more information, visit

James M. Moran

Bloody Hook Billed Carrowreagh



James M. Moran is an organic farmer with a keen interest in all aspects of art. He is a self taught painter and sculptor. He’s especially interested in landscapes, skyscapes and mythology, and his art works tend to have an ecological slant. He has published a number of local history books, maps and sketchbooks on local themes, whilst he has also taken part in many art exhibitions, both personal and shared.

Leah Hewson

tasty 83x67cm



Leah Hewson achieved a First Class BA(Hons) in Fine Art from IADT in 2010. Hewson’s first solo show, What’s behind the Magic door? (2011) gave way for her work to be included in the Microsoft Collection as well as being published as part of Goblin Market: New Irish Contemporary Art. Amongst a steady flow of commissions for private collections, Hewson developed work for her second exhibition CUSP which was in 2013. Earlier this year she gained experience working in Sean Scully’s studio in New York which has seen her work move to a more abstract approach to image making.

Aileen Hamilton

02.Aileen Hamilton_submission,Marching Forest on paper,  297 x 420 mm



Aileen Hamilton is an Irish artist who graduated in Fine Art Painting from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 2001. She is currently based in between Spain and Ireland. Over the past 10 years, she has exhibited my work in Ireland, Spain, Japan, Sweden and Thailand. Her art has a firm basis in nature, with an emphasis on organic processes. She is fascinated with the notion of chaos versus order and the idea of being in­-between. Her paintings have been described as both atmospheric and whimsical.