Horror & Dark Fantasy

THE ROBOTS OF GOTHAM

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Fiction

Fiction

Ways to Wake

I hear the sound before I open my eyes. Someone is eating, though I should be alone in my room, and it’s too loud, too close. When I look, I see the cat—the one we’re all supposed to adore, that’s meant to have us all therapeutically laughing, lowering our blood pressures by stroking its soft grey fur. I tried once, but it felt to me as soft as cobwebs, as dust, as decaying flesh. The cat is sitting on the shelf wheeled across the bottom of my bed. It’s eating my breakfast.

Fiction

The Anatomist’s Mnemonic

Samuel Wilson’s life wasn’t a search for love at every turn. There’d been girls he’d liked, with whom he’d managed fragile love affairs, but something was always lacking no matter how hard he tried. Something that failed to ignite. Sam knew what it was. He knew that love and objectification weren’t the same but he had a passion for hands. His arousal in every organ, the mind, the skin, the parts he’d once been told were made for sin, depended on the wrists, the palms, the fingertips.

Fiction

Red Rain

Have you ever found yourself on a midtown sidewalk on some warm July day when a plummeting body splattered on the pavement, directly in front of you? Close enough to feel the explosive shockwave of hot liquid air, pelting your trousers with meat pellets the size of quarters? Have you ever staggered backward, sodden with gore and spitting out substances you could not stand to identify, half-blinded because some of it got in your eyes, the screams of other pedestrians rising all around you, the smell of blood and shit hitting like a second assault almost as bad as the first?

Fiction

Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre

Last year, the people in charge of the picnic blew us up. Every year it gets worse. That is, more people die. The Frost Mountain Picnic has always been a matter of uncertainty in our town, and the massacre is the worst part. Even the people whose picnic blankets were not laid out directly upon the bomb line were knocked unconscious by the airborne limbs of their neighbors, or at least had the black earth at the foot of Frost Mountain driven under their eyelids and fingernails and up into their sinuses.

Fiction

Leviathan Sings to Me in the Deep

3 Harvest: Arcon Glass came to dinner in my cabin tonight. A rarity; he has declined all previous invitations on pretext of work. Over dessert, First Mate Law asked him if the Guild of Natural Philosophers’ purpose in sponsoring this voyage is to research a solution to the overfishing of the whale-routes. Law has been my First Mate for a decade now and I bear the man a great affection, but he has a dockhand’s lack of tact for all that he wears an officer’s badge. Glass did not seem offended by the directness of the question, and answered that it was exactly as we had surmised.

Fiction

Till the Morning Comes

It was supposed to stop after that summer. My mom told me it would, and when she told my dad about it—him just home from third shift, his whiskers all grown back in already, eyes hungry for something none of us ever had for him—he just licked his lips and told me to get on back in there. That he wished he had the luxury of being scared. Because my mom couldn’t help me then, because all she could do was sit on the couch, I’d do it; I’d walk down the hall to my room. Or, our room then, mine and Nicholas’s, my little brother.

Fiction

Ally

It’d been a warm, sunny spring afternoon. The grass in the cemetery was green, the roses and lavender in the wreaths fragrant. Iqbal’s funeral had been a quiet affair, all things considered. Our circle was getting too old for the type of soap opera drama that had marked our younger years. We’d lived for enough decades that my friends and I had settled into some kind of rhythm, had dared to allow some of our sharp edges to be burnished smooth. So by the time of Iqbal’s funeral, Grey had long since given up staging drunken screaming matches in parking lots with Jésus.

Fiction

The Hodag

I still remember that cold October afternoon in 1936 when Whitey McFarland’s old coonhound Maggie dragged herself out of the forest, whimpering and yowling. Her skin hung off her sides in red flaps and her eyes rolled wildly. She collapsed on the ground and howled. All us kids loved Maggie, but not one of us dared go near her, not while she was baring her teeth and snarling. Benny Carper dropped the bat and ran off; Ira Schmidt just stood there staring at the half-dead animal as it pawed the frozen dirt.

Fiction

Bride Before You

Such a beautiful boy, Cornelius Clay. Pity no woman’ll marry him. And to think it ain even his fault, sweet baby, born into money and beauty both, like the good Lord couldn’t part with his blessings fast enough. Lord, this boy. Skin so bright he looks anointed, hair straight as an Indian’s and black as molasses. There’s four generations of freedmen in that skin and hair, and he can name every single one of them. He got a body so fine, even the angels cryin out: silver screen silhouette in a tailored suit and two-toned wingtips, hat brim so crisp its shadow slices butter.

Fiction

Horror Story

It started so small: a mysteriously clogged drain; a crack in the bedroom window. We’d just moved into the place, but the drain had been working and the glass had been intact, and then one morning they weren’t. My wife tapped her fingernail lightly on the crack in the pane and it sounded like something was knocking, asking to be let in. Then the spices went missing. The sea salt, the marjoram, the rosemary, even our custom poultry blend. Finally, the saffron—forty dollars’ worth—and I asked my wife if she’d been reorganizing the kitchen. She said she hadn’t.