Horror & Dark Fantasy

Missing Signal

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Fiction

Fiction

Don’t Pack Hope

The horde is attracted to bright colours, so when you put together your bug-out bag, you pack the drab outfits you’d sworn never to wear again once you’d finally, breathlessly, emerged as your true, radiant self. You pack a heavy hunting knife, because what you carry looks valuable. You’re glad that your arms are gym-strong and intimidating, because the idea of hurting someone, even in self-defense, makes you want to vomit. You leave behind your old name. You try not to wonder if you’re the only one left who remembers it. You don’t know how you’d feel if that were true.

Fiction

Fine in the Fire

I didn’t answer the phone when my brother, Toby, called. His name appeared on the screen of my cell like a bad biopsy result, and instead of answering, I threw back another slug of beer and returned my attention to the television set. The sitcom wasn’t particularly interesting, nor was the company of my wife, who’d already decided our marriage was unsalvageable, though it would be another month before she let me in on the fact. She sat on the sofa, frowning. I didn’t bother to ask what was wrong.

Fiction

Pitcher Plant

The mansion is a study in architecture at war with itself. It’s not just the windows that don’t match and the turrets that don’t overlook anything and the roof that sits flat here while looming at impossible angles there. Nor is it just the exterior walls that, seen from one angle, seem rotted and decrepit and about to collapse, and seen from another, gleam like jewels. Nor is it the gnarled skin of the columns that support the overhang at the front entrance, or the glistening scarlet door that seems poised to open until you see that it’s not a real door at all.

Fiction

Apports

They met at a café on the corner of Mulberry Street. It was a fairly nondescript place—greasy net curtains, laminated menus, chipped Formica tables. Probably bustling with overweight truckers first thing in the morning, but at this hour it was almost deserted. Casual patrons had possibly been deterred by the rain. Or maybe the poor hygiene. Cowan spotted Jimenez as soon as he stepped inside. He was sitting at a table in the corner, and he glanced up and waved at the sound of Cowan’s entrance.

Fiction

Crave

Taina crawls underneath the shack to unearth her wooden cigar box. She opens it and places the items in front of her: a piece of leftover mundillo lace from an unfinished handkerchief, an ivory ribbon she stole from Don Victor’s store, and the rosary beads given to her by Abuela. Everything is right where she left it. She carefully places the items back and covers the box with dirt. “Shhh,” Taina whispers, hugging the dog Choco. Choco licks the side of her cheek and nuzzles his cold wet nose on the crevice of her bony elbow.

Fiction

Was She Wicked? Was She Good?

She leaves the small creatures in tortured juxtapositions. Her mother and I find them on the porch steps, in the garden, drowning in small puddles, the green hose dripping water from the copper nozzle, guilty as blood. For a few weeks we are able to believe that these tragedies have nothing to do with our little girl whose smile breaks each morning like the sun. We scrape them up, gently, with the edge of leaves or blades of grass (once I cut one in half that way, a horrible accident and it bled while Sheilah laughed, I thought at some imaginary play) but we save none.

Fiction

Mr. Try Again

Six-year-old Violet Wellington was the only child to come out of the swamp. The boys were gone forever. She sat on the side of a muddied dirt road, digging her nails raw against the gravel; her jeans and pink t-shirt were damp but clean. She had a scrape over her left eyebrow and her hair smelled of mildew. Unharmed, otherwise. Dogs and professionals and volunteers spent days trying to find the other bodies. Violet couldn’t help. She wouldn’t draw pictures, she wouldn’t answer questions, she wouldn’t be cajoled with sugar.

Fiction

Sabbatical in the Ohio Methlands

Not really zombies. Not like in the movies, anyway. To begin with, they’re alive. And they don’t eat their victims. They’ll rape you, rob you, murder you, sure, but not eat you. The rest of it’s the same, though. They lurch around looking dead. They smell dead. Boils, abscesses, old infected injuries; they all do their part in approximating putrefaction. Sometimes a murmuring haze of flies will surround their eyes and mouths. They look like skeletons in leather sheets. Their knee joints have a bigger circumference than their thighs.

Fiction

Seven Steps to Beauty for a Girl Named Avarice

She’s born in a pine-wood cottage, birches tangled over its roof, snow burying the log pile. When she’s still young, her father disappears in a war of musket-shot and horses screaming into the gunpowder dark. Her mother scrapes a living by stealing flowers from the gardens of the fine half-timbered houses round the fountain and hocking them in the market. Mornings, the girl accompanies her mother, the armfuls of pilfered calla lilies leaving pollen-smears on her skin. Afternoons, the girl returns to the cottage to sweep the front step with a crooked willow-broom.

Fiction

Exposure

The timer clicked, a cicada in the dark. Lifting the tongs off their rest, he swirled the paper gently; watching, judging. Good to go by the rules, better to work by instinct. Finally judging it complete, he lifted the sheet out of its bath, placing it in another shallow tub and turning the water on, cold, over it. The music played, one CD after another, continuous shuffle so that he never knew what would come up next: Melissa Etheridge, Vivaldi, the exotic noises of a rain forest.