Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Fiction

Fiction

The Monkey Trap

Amber needed a book. It was The Estates of Sarah Holliday, a delicate comedy of manners following a young woman’s trials and tribulations in 1870s New England, and it was the most obscure novel by one Charlotte Winsborough, a fussy and now almost completely forgotten nineteenth-century author Amber had chosen for her dissertation. Winsborough had enjoyed three decades of critical and commercial success in her own time, and was by about 1900 lionized as a female Twain.

Fiction

Furtherest

As kids we’d dare each other to go further and further into the dunes each day. You couldn’t come back until you found something, some proof you were there: A cigarette butt, a page from a book, a shoe, a ribbon. We always found something. I cheated often, tucking things into my swimming costume so I would have to travel too far.

Fiction

Not Us

When he comes home that evening, he wants to talk. He tells her about his day, about an argument with his boss, about the new contract. He relates a funny story narrated by a colleague. He wants her to react. She has difficulty feigning the correct demeanour, or even recalling what it should be. What does sympathetic annoyance look like on her face? How do her features register amused interest?

Fiction

My Boy Builds Coffins

Susan found the first one when she was tidying his room. Chris was at school, and she’d been sprucing up the house before popping off to collect him after the afternoon session. The ground floor was done; the lounge was spick-and-span (as her mother had loved to say) and the kitchen was so clean it belonged in a show home. The downstairs bathroom was clean enough for a royal inspection.

Fiction

Tea with the Earl of Twilight

For the first week, she thought he belonged to the power plant; after that she knew better. She had read the obituaries. She saw him first as a silhouette, one more line of the industrial geometries overhanging the boardwalk of Broad Canal. It had been a wet, dispiriting winter full of gusts and mists, but with January the water had finally hardened into a thick pane of cormorant-black ice.

Fiction

The Night Has No Eyes

They came at night. And brought with them the trauma and fear of all the babies ripped from their mothers’ arms, beings made less than human in the face of violence and humiliation, brightness turned to darkness and hurt. They came as the embodiment of all that unspent pain, and refused to die, made invincible by the same willful instinct that makes a dying man kick his feet in a last death rattle.

Fiction

Outside of Omaha

You would have hated your funeral reception. Potato-nosed husbands clomping around our parlor in their cheap suits, stinking of naphtha and condolences. Wives with sweat-streaked powder caked in the creases of their necks, like flour-sacks brought to life by a pair of magic dentures. That’s what I kept staring at: dentures, bridges loose over gray gums, gold-mottled molars gleaming in the wells of mouths.

Fiction

Yours Is the Right to Begin

Tick, tick, tick at the end of the chain swings the watch, and back against your fireside bed of needles and furs you collapse and drift away, sweet sister Mina, your thoughts unmoored by the doctor’s trick twitch of his mesmerizing wrist, your mind free to wander the wild woods, gleaning the lingering scent of your captive beloved, reporting back to that fierce, relentless Helsing demon all the secrets hidden within our master’s untamed kingdom of night.

Fiction

Redder

I chew the leaf and spit out my red days. They splatter. You chew the leaf and spit out your hours of mad redder. They splatter. They chew the leaf and spit out the reddest moments they have ever seen. They splatter. This is a scene of crime, chalk me, morn me, eve me. My red life drying on my chin. Your red history a bitter powder crust. Their thin red lines, their spun red webs, their red praxis and deceit.

Fiction

The Hour In Between

Oscar crept up on his sleeping wife and shattered her skull with five blows from a claw hammer. The years might have robbed much of the strength from his legs and obliged him to do most of his walking these days with a cane, but his right arm was still almost as powerful as it had ever been. The first thundering impact struck Deanna with a crunch he could feel at the base of his spine.