Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Fiction

Fiction

The Ten Things She Said While Dying: An Annotation

Her name was Robyn Howlett, and she was twenty-two years old. Robyn was an alien creature to me, product of conditions wholly at odds with those that produced my kind. She spoke in a language I had never heard. Nevertheless, I understood everything she said. It is the nature of my kind to understand everything that is spoken in our presence, a necessary adaptation given that we are often summoned by creatures as alien to us as we are to them, creatures who often cannot expand their minds enough to even perceive us.

Fiction

Nikishi

Seasick and shivering, Thomas Blacksburg peered out from beneath the orange life boat canopy, watching helplessly as the powerful Benguela current swept him north up the coast of Namibia. For hours, he’d been within sight of the Skeleton Coast, that savage, wave-battered portion of the West African shore stretching between Angola to the north and Swakopmund to the south. Through ghostly filaments of fog that drifted around the boat, Blacksburg could make out the distant shore.

Fiction

Better You Believe

It’s all downhill on a descent. The oldest climbing joke of the lot, but only because it’s true. If I like any bit of it at all, it could never be that slow, painful climb down from the highs of before and the bone-deep exhaustion of after. People make mistakes on a descent because everything’s against them: altitude, time, their bodies. And always their mind. No one gets excited about survival—not like they do about standing on the top of the world. And no one gets a good write-up in Nat Geo or Time.

Fiction

Dead Lovers on Each Blade, Hung [Part 2]

This is how Hakim Shafi gave away his life: First, he closed his shop. Next, he sold his house. “What in the name of God are you doing?” I said. Shafi grinned. That grin raised the hackles on my neck, sahib. “Burning bridges,” he said. I looked at him closely. In the four weeks since I’d told him about the qawwals, he had shaved his thick mustache and lost ten kilos. He was always thin, but now he looked like a needler at the end of his days. His temples were wasted, the flesh of his face pulled taut across the blades of his bones.

Fiction

Dead Lovers on Each Blade, Hung [Part 1]

Jee Inspector Sahib, he came looking for a missing girl in Lahore Park one evening in the summer of 2013, this man known as Hakim Shafi. It was a summer to blanch the marrow of all summers. Heat rose coiling like a snake from the ground. Gusts of evil loo winds swept across Lahore from the west, shrinking the hides of man and beast alike, and Hakim Shafi went from bench to bench, stepping over needles rusting in bleached June grass, and showed the heroinchies a picture.

Fiction

The Underground Economy

That’s not what I want to talk about. If you’re interested in hearing about the day to day of a stripper, there are plenty of books you can read. Some of them are pretty good. Or you could watch Showgirls. No, it’s not accurate, but it’s the kind of movie most of the girls I danced with would have made about themselves. So there’s that. It’s a person—Nicole AuCoeur, the girl who told me I should try out at The Cusp, they were hiring and I could make some serious cash. I want to talk about her, about this thing that happened to her.

Fiction

A Mother’s Love Never Ends

Mother would have never taken the bus. She had specific prejudices—the train yes, the bus no, taking The Lord’s name in vain, no, calling someone an asshole, yes. It was often hard to follow her dictates; the safest route was to just not say anything or do anything unless directed. Mother had no say in the matter now, and although Miriam wasn’t big on bus travel herself, it gave her an adventuresome frisson to be doing something in such bad taste.

Fiction

Ghost Jeep

We have a ’90s model Jeep Cherokee, green and dirty and banged up so bad only the driver’s side doors open. We don’t have a windshield no more, but we never needed it. We have piles of scratched CDs of pirated albums. We have a system in the back, big speakers booming up and down these cracked country roads like a low flying bomber. We have been sixteen and riding around the same small town since the night we died twenty years ago. There are three of us. We have each other, but every year we lose a little more, until we can’t remember our names.

Fiction

What’s Coming to You

Madeline had a plain, dull face that only a mother could love, even though hers hadn’t. She’d been a clever child, clever enough to realize early on that fairness was a fairy tale, and clever enough to realize that it wasn’t her mother, really, who was to blame, even if she couldn’t help but blame her. Whenever Madeline’s stepfather had told her to get out of his sight, her mother had repeated the phrase in a ghostly echo. When Madeline emancipated herself at sixteen, she figured that was the end of that, and she looked ahead to a future of possibilities.

Fiction

The Pike

Carpers further down the canal were using fishmeal and pellets to try to tempt the doubles, but Lostock wasn’t interested in them. Carp might fight for longer, but they weren’t as aggressive as pike. He didn’t like the look of them, those bloated and gormless mouth-breathers. They turned his stomach. He’d talked to bailiffs and other fishermen about the water. Some were happy to chat with him, others hunched over their gear like poker players protecting a good hand as he approached. They’d tell him what he already knew. They suggested he find another place to fish.