Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Fiction

Fiction

Bonfires

The shore was dark when we showed up, but it would soon be blazing, and that thought was all I needed to warm me while we built the bonfires. The waves slopped in and sucked out again like black tar, and I went along the waterline with the others, pulling broken boards and snags of swollen wood out of the bubbling froth and foam, hauling it across the sand and up to the gravel where the road edge ran.

Fiction

The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter

The door is a rich red wood, heavily carved with improving scenes from the trials of Job. An angel’s head, cast in brass, serves as the knocker and when I let it go to rest back in its groove, the eyes fly open, indignant, and watch me with suspicion. Behind me is the tangle of garden—cataracts of flowering vines, lovers’ nooks, secluded reading benches—that gives this house its affluent privacy.

Fiction

No Breather in the World But Thee

The cook didn’t like that the eyes of the dead fish shifted to stare at him as he cut their heads off. The cook’s assistant, who was also his lover, didn’t like that he woke to find just a sack of bloody bones on the bed beside him. “It’s starting again,” he gasped, just moments before a huge, black, birdlike creature carried him off, screaming.

Fiction

Jetsam

I’m writing this down because I’m starting to forget. I may need to remember some day. The chemical air is already kissing my mind, biting my memory away. Something terrible happened at work today. Beyond imagining . . .

Fiction

The Sign in the Moonlight

You will have heard, no doubt, of the Bergenssen expedition—if only from the manner of its loss. For a short while, that tragedy was deemed significant and remarkable enough to adorn the covers of every major newspaper in the civilised world.

Fiction

The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins

Concerning the life and death of St. John Fitzroy, Lord Calipash—the suffering of the Lady Calipash—the unsavory endeavors of Lord Calipash’s cousin Mr. Villein—as well as an account of the curious circumstances surrounding the birth of the future Lord Calipash and his twin sister.

Fiction

Blackbirds

On an August morning in the summer of 1960, a man dressed in black shattered the kitchen window at the Peterson home.

Fiction

Cry Room

The church looked normal from the outside. All steepled and angular in the way of good, rural Indiana churches of a certain age. Red brick and stained glass, St. Thomas Aquinas, surrounded on three sides by hot asphalt parking.

Fiction

The Goosle

The house looked just as it did in my memory: the crumbling, glittery yellow walls, the dreadful roof sealed with drippy white mud. My tongue rubbed the roof of my mouth just looking. It is crisp as wafer-biscuit on the outside, that mud. You bite through to a sweetish sand inside. You are frightened it will choke you, but you cannot stop eating.

Fiction

Sacred Cows

Clara Maloney peered down the long Brooklyn block. She and baby Sally had been waiting in the cold for twenty minutes, and still no sign of Pop. Figured. Even to pick out his wife’s casket, the old man was late.