Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Fiction

Fiction

The Gorgon

The small island, which lay off the larger island of Daphaeu, obviously contained a secret of some sort, and, day by day, and particularly night by night, began to exert an influence on me, so that I must find it out.

Fiction

The Totals

Clutch has killed somebody recently. This goes without saying. For as long as Clutch can remember, he has always killed somebody “recently.” If not within the last few hours, then certainly within the last few days. He may have gone as long as a couple of weeks without, from time to time, when circumstances conspired against him. But never as long as a month, no, not for living memory.

Fiction

Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard

He had six different names. It was Francisco Sponelli on his birth certificate, but even his parents never called him that. They called him Little Frankie most of his life. A kid’s name that, once hung on him, made sure he’d never quite grow up. His father wasn’t even Big Frankie. Dad was Vinnie. Big Frankie was an uncle back in Sicily but who wasn’t called Big Frankie in Sicily; just when people talked about him. Big Frankie never set a goddamn foot on American soil.

Fiction

Ghostreaper, or, Life After Revenge

I’d used duct tape to attach one end of a garden hose to the exhaust pipe, and the other end of the hose ran in through the crack at the top of the passenger-side window, pumping sweet poison into the interior. I took a last swig from the bottle between my knees, the liquor burning its familiar path down my throat. I closed my eyes and waited for a sleep that would be forever untroubled by bad dreams—for the final closing of the unbalanced account of my life—when something tapped against the glass beside my left ear.

Fiction

Walled

It was just after the twenty-second anniversary of her confinement in Dunlop House Hospital on Glasgow’s Carrick Glenn Road that Plush awoke one night and heard the sound of something mewling, trapped inside the wall. She thought at first it was a young child crying, and, for an instant, it felt as though her heart stuttered to a stop. She lay there, mesmerized by the sound, which wrenched at her guilt-filled heart with notes as keen and piercing as a shard of bone.

Fiction

The Mad Butcher of Plainfield’s Chariot of Death

Gibbons swigged from his hipflask, driving one-handed as he followed the caravan of carny vehicles barreling along the interstate toward tonight’s show. As the booze burned through him, he bared his teeth, glaring in the rearview at the tarp-shrouded shape of the car hooked to his truck.

Fiction

A Home in the Dark

We didn’t even notice the calamity and probably slept through it. If a luxury liner takes on a little water, that’s not news; if the ship keels over or sinks, that’s news. If a racecar driver whined to national media about a slight rear-end shimmy at 180mph, he’d be laughed out of the pit, whereas if he crashed and made a fireball, it would be noteworthy on the old daily feed. Most Southern California quakes are akin to one misstep while strolling.

Fiction

The Owl

Walk continuously around a tree with an owl in it: the owl will keep its eye on you until it has wrenched off its own head. He couldn’t remember where the words had come from, but he knew they were old and the last time he had heard them he could have been little more than five years of age.

Fiction

Distress Call

Caroline was not in the room. Amy could hear her crying somewhere down the hall. Her crying sounded louder, as though some other, all-pervading sound had suddenly ceased. “The engines have stopped,” Amy thought. “We are dead in the water. Something has happened,” she thought. “Something terrible.”

Fiction

57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides

1. Because it would take the patience of a saint or Dalai Lama to smilingly turn the other cheek to those six savage boys day after day, to emerge unembittered from each new round of psychological and physical assaults; whereas I, Jared Shumsky, aged sixteen, have many things, like pimples and the bottom bunk bed in a trailer, and clothes that smell like cherry car air fresheners, but no particular strength or patience.