Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Fiction

Fiction

Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre

Last year, the people in charge of the picnic blew us up. Every year it gets worse. That is, more people die. The Frost Mountain Picnic has always been a matter of uncertainty in our town, and the massacre is the worst part. Even the people whose picnic blankets were not laid out directly upon the bomb line were knocked unconscious by the airborne limbs of their neighbors, or at least had the black earth at the foot of Frost Mountain driven under their eyelids and fingernails and up into their sinuses.

Fiction

Leviathan Sings to Me in the Deep

3 Harvest: Arcon Glass came to dinner in my cabin tonight. A rarity; he has declined all previous invitations on pretext of work. Over dessert, First Mate Law asked him if the Guild of Natural Philosophers’ purpose in sponsoring this voyage is to research a solution to the overfishing of the whale-routes. Law has been my First Mate for a decade now and I bear the man a great affection, but he has a dockhand’s lack of tact for all that he wears an officer’s badge. Glass did not seem offended by the directness of the question, and answered that it was exactly as we had surmised.

Fiction

Till the Morning Comes

It was supposed to stop after that summer. My mom told me it would, and when she told my dad about it—him just home from third shift, his whiskers all grown back in already, eyes hungry for something none of us ever had for him—he just licked his lips and told me to get on back in there. That he wished he had the luxury of being scared. Because my mom couldn’t help me then, because all she could do was sit on the couch, I’d do it; I’d walk down the hall to my room. Or, our room then, mine and Nicholas’s, my little brother.

Fiction

Ally

It’d been a warm, sunny spring afternoon. The grass in the cemetery was green, the roses and lavender in the wreaths fragrant. Iqbal’s funeral had been a quiet affair, all things considered. Our circle was getting too old for the type of soap opera drama that had marked our younger years. We’d lived for enough decades that my friends and I had settled into some kind of rhythm, had dared to allow some of our sharp edges to be burnished smooth. So by the time of Iqbal’s funeral, Grey had long since given up staging drunken screaming matches in parking lots with Jésus.

Fiction

The Hodag

I still remember that cold October afternoon in 1936 when Whitey McFarland’s old coonhound Maggie dragged herself out of the forest, whimpering and yowling. Her skin hung off her sides in red flaps and her eyes rolled wildly. She collapsed on the ground and howled. All us kids loved Maggie, but not one of us dared go near her, not while she was baring her teeth and snarling. Benny Carper dropped the bat and ran off; Ira Schmidt just stood there staring at the half-dead animal as it pawed the frozen dirt.

Fiction

Bride Before You

Such a beautiful boy, Cornelius Clay. Pity no woman’ll marry him. And to think it ain even his fault, sweet baby, born into money and beauty both, like the good Lord couldn’t part with his blessings fast enough. Lord, this boy. Skin so bright he looks anointed, hair straight as an Indian’s and black as molasses. There’s four generations of freedmen in that skin and hair, and he can name every single one of them. He got a body so fine, even the angels cryin out: silver screen silhouette in a tailored suit and two-toned wingtips, hat brim so crisp its shadow slices butter.

Fiction

Horror Story

It started so small: a mysteriously clogged drain; a crack in the bedroom window. We’d just moved into the place, but the drain had been working and the glass had been intact, and then one morning they weren’t. My wife tapped her fingernail lightly on the crack in the pane and it sounded like something was knocking, asking to be let in. Then the spices went missing. The sea salt, the marjoram, the rosemary, even our custom poultry blend. Finally, the saffron—forty dollars’ worth—and I asked my wife if she’d been reorganizing the kitchen. She said she hadn’t.

Fiction

Don’t Pack Hope

The horde is attracted to bright colours, so when you put together your bug-out bag, you pack the drab outfits you’d sworn never to wear again once you’d finally, breathlessly, emerged as your true, radiant self. You pack a heavy hunting knife, because what you carry looks valuable. You’re glad that your arms are gym-strong and intimidating, because the idea of hurting someone, even in self-defense, makes you want to vomit. You leave behind your old name. You try not to wonder if you’re the only one left who remembers it. You don’t know how you’d feel if that were true.

Fiction

Fine in the Fire

I didn’t answer the phone when my brother, Toby, called. His name appeared on the screen of my cell like a bad biopsy result, and instead of answering, I threw back another slug of beer and returned my attention to the television set. The sitcom wasn’t particularly interesting, nor was the company of my wife, who’d already decided our marriage was unsalvageable, though it would be another month before she let me in on the fact. She sat on the sofa, frowning. I didn’t bother to ask what was wrong.

Fiction

Pitcher Plant

The mansion is a study in architecture at war with itself. It’s not just the windows that don’t match and the turrets that don’t overlook anything and the roof that sits flat here while looming at impossible angles there. Nor is it just the exterior walls that, seen from one angle, seem rotted and decrepit and about to collapse, and seen from another, gleam like jewels. Nor is it the gnarled skin of the columns that support the overhang at the front entrance, or the glistening scarlet door that seems poised to open until you see that it’s not a real door at all.