Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Fiction

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.

Fiction

Waiting for the Light

It had taken three days before the supervisor—“call me Marty”—asked Finn for the favour. He knew by the looks on the faces of the other staff—the little upturning of their heads that meant they were listening, but weren’t going to show it—that it wasn’t going to be a good favour.

Fiction

Dhost

The disembodied little voice on the phone made Gail’s breath catch, so sweet it was, so complete and so vulnerable. “Guess what, Grandma?” “What, Corry?” Corazon. Heart. My heart. “Guess what I’m gonna be for Halloween?” “What, Corry?” “I’m gonna be a DHOST!”

Fiction

Hunger: A Confession

Me, I was never afraid of the dark. It was Jeremy who bothered me—Jeremy with his black rubber spiders in my lunchbox, Jeremy with his guttural demon whisper (I’m coming to get you, Simon) just as I was drifting off to sleep, Jeremy with his stupid Vincent Price laugh (Mwha-ha-ha-ha-ha), like some cheesy mad scientist, when he figured the joke had gone far enough. By the time I was walking, I was already shell-shocked, flinching every time I came around a corner.

Fiction

The Beasts of the Earth, the Madness of Men

The crew is drowned, the ship is flayed to ribbons and splinters, and her own arms are a-rotted down to yellowed bone and salt-cured jerky not even the gulls will touch. Cross-legged on her chunk of life-raft, staring at that familiar line of decaying blubber through the spyglass, all Captain Perth can think, over and over again, is: just a little further. Just a little further and things will right themselves, if only I am strong.

Fiction

The Score

The subject was first discovered dead in his holding cell the morning of March 18th in the “Tombs” Manhattan Detention Center. The subject was discovered with a rope in his hand, and so police at first surmised it had contributed in some manner to his death, but there are no consistent contusions on the neck or, indeed, anywhere else on the body.

Fiction

The Crowgirl

From the camp on the hill they could see everything, the river and the barn with its silos of molding grain, the hunting crows, and far to the west, in the square white farmhouse with its padlocked cellar door, the congregation of the Dead.