Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Fiction

Fiction

What It Sounds Like When You Fall

It’s Uncle Pete’s funeral today, so he puts on his good brown suit with the brass buttons, and we all set out for the cemetery before the sun is up, because we don’t want to get too hot in our good clothes on our way there. Uncle Pete and Pa walk in front, me and Ma follow. When we get there, Uncle Pete’s grave is waiting, shallow and open, and the plaque has already been engraved with his name. Under it, there’s his date of birth and today’s date, even though we don’t know how long it’ll take him to really die.

Fiction

Universal Horror

The game was the same as every year. Rachel could have called it in July, if she’d wanted. For every age-inappropriate costume that knocked on the door of their no-kids party—six-year-old sexy nurses, second-grade saloon girls—Bill had to do a shot. For every comic book or television character, Nalene had to do a shot. Usually David got drunk off ethnic-insults-on-parade—kids in headdresses, kids-as-pimps—but three months ago his girlfriend “Carrie” had given birth to a bouncing baby boy, so he wasn’t even at the party this year.

Fiction

The Island of Beasts

She was a bundle on the bottom of the skiff, tossed in with her skirt and petticoat tangled around her legs, hands bound behind her with a thin chain that also wrapped around her neck. She didn’t struggle; the silver in the chain burned her skin. The more she moved the more she burned, so she lay still because the only way to stop this would be to make them kill her. They wanted to kill her. So why didn’t they? Why go through the trouble of rowing this wave-rocked skiff out to this hideous island just to throw her to her likely death?

Fiction

Nanny Grey

Oh low estate, my love my love, the song’s hook went, or seemed to, through the wall of the Ladies’. Bill Koslaw felt it more than heard it, buzzing in his back teeth through the sweaty skin of his jaws as he pushed into this toff tart—Sessilie, he thought her name was, and the rest began with a K—from behind with her bent over the lav itself, hands wide-braced, each thrust all but mashing that great midnight knot of hair against the cubicle’s tiling. And he could see her lips moving, too, half-quirked in that smile he’d literally never seen her lose thus far.

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.