Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Fiction

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.

Fiction

The Ease With Which We Freed the Beast

Me and Molly Bruin were lying on our stomachs atop a sea cliff overlooking Droughans Beach, fresh from a fuck and lolling there, our skins stuck with bits from the weeds and tall grasses that cloaked our sin, with the wind in our faces and our lives yet to be lived.

Fiction

Chew

Anton’s American soldier had whipped out the torn front page of the newspaper for him to translate the headline. His German was very bad and Anton’s English worse, but they worked it out anyhow, repeating it back and forth to each other until they were satisfied with the results. He admired the headline mainly because the American was his friend, then asked for chewing gum.

Fiction

Need

After ballet, Corey liked to walk home through the cemetery. The grounds were large and well tended and offered the visitor a wealth of picturesque monuments and sentimental gravestone inscriptions, some of them dating back before the Civil War. There were columns, slabs, and spheres in abundance of the pinkish marble that was quarried locally, and among the mausoleums built to look like temples, chapels and houses was one defiant pink pyramid.

Fiction

On Murder Island

The north wind’s been spraying Mainland Runoff in our faces for days, but that’s nothing new, nothing worth complaining about. Here on Murder Island, we have a little saying: “If ever you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and you’ll be murdered.” Or as the Weatherman likes to say: “Radar’s telling us to brace for more hot gusty winds, Mainland Runoff, and murder.” The forecast never changes.

Fiction

Foul Weather

Some things you can’t figure out. Not even with a whole heap of scratch paper and a ribbon of data from a chattering teletype machine. Not before time runs out. And time is like progress—she’s not stopping for anybody. The answer is out there, though, in the weather.

Fiction

Summer

During the baby’s nap-time, a housefly buzzed past the new screen somehow, and landed on Danielle’s wrist while she was reading Us Weekly on the back porch. With the Okeepechee swamp so close, mosquitoes and flies take over Graceville in summer. “Well, I’ll be damned,” she said.

Fiction

Chop Shop

If only she could find the right words to thank him. As he cuts into her thigh, she wants to say something, some small word of gratitude, but her tongue is gone and so she keeps quiet—utters not even a mumble as he continues his work. The scalpel shaves off small slivers of flesh and the sensation is electrifying, little jolts that flash through the drug-haze, and when it’s all over she stares down with dull curiosity at her legs, flayed to the bone. There is a detachment there in which she luxuriates.

Fiction

The Nowhere Man

“I’ve had enough. I’m getting out of here, I swear to God I am.” Amy had been sitting cross-legged on the end of Ben’s bed, wearing the same jeans, t-shirt, and trainers she would disappear in later that night, when she whispered the words to herself, or to him or to the pitch black outside. Ben wasn’t sure which or even if she’d meant to say the words aloud at all. He just sat silently in the dark and listened.