Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Fiction

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.

Fiction

All You Can Do is Breathe

Stuart lay trapped underground for five days before the tall man appeared and stared into his eyes. He thought he sensed movement. Flicked on his caplamp. “Barry? Did you make it through the wall?” but there was no one.

Fiction

10/31: Bloody Mary

The boy isn’t very large. The way things are these days, he figures that’s a plus. He is less of a target at night, and for this reason he has come to trust the darkness. Strange to trust darkness in a world overrun with nightmares . . . but that’s the way it is.

Fiction

A Short Guide to the City

The viaduct killer, named for the location where his victims’ bodies have been discovered, is still at large. There have been six victims to date, found by children, people exercising their dogs, lovers, or—in one instance—by policemen. The bodies lay sprawled, their throats slashed, partially sheltered by one or another of the massive concrete supports at the top of the slope beneath the great bridge.

Fiction

The Nest

“Come in, come in!” the man said, sitting like a god in the middle of the room, grinning at me through broken teeth. He levered himself out of his chair, breathing heavily, and then tottered over to the wall and pressed hard against it. Under his hand, ants scurried frantically through their tunnels. “It’s quite safe. Two solid sheets of Perspex, each over an inch thick, layered over the original house’s walls. They’ve got a gap of about four inches between them, for the dirt, but the whole thing is completely sealed. There’s no chance of them escaping.”