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Fiction

Fiction

True Crime

He cut off her arms and threw them on the side of the road. They wanted a boy. Her uncle taught her how to play the game. The last time anyone saw her she was dancing. She was drunk. She was flirting with everyone. She was wearing a short skirt. She had a lot of eyeliner on. She got into the car, which anyone knows is a stupid thing to do. She was stupid. Actually, she was very intelligent, but had no common sense. It wasn’t her fault. But what was she thinking?

Fiction

The Brink of Eternity

The knife is long and lethal yet light, both in weight and appearance; a thing precise and definite, which he admires for those reasons. It has not been designed for the task at hand, but it will suffice. The sound of a heart beating fills his ears, and he wonders if it is his heart or the other’s. He will soon know. The knife is raised, and then brought down in a swift movement. A moment of resistance, and then the flesh yields, and vivid spatters spread, staining the carpet of white, bright and beautiful. He brings the knife down again, and again.

Fiction

House of Small Spiders

Some houses never have a soul. It’s not their fault. It’s just the way it is. For a soul to be born to a house, almost too many things have to happen. Three or more families have to have lived there. Someone has to die in the house. Blood has to be spilled. And something, even if it’s just an idea, has to be born in the house. You can always tell when a house has a soul because of the small spiders. They’re everywhere, non-obtrusive, and ever watchful. The small spiders are the eyes of the house, watching those who live in it much like a great beast would observe its own fleas.

Fiction

Kill All Monsters

Two or three miles south of Sheffield, they pulled off the M1 motorway and into the badly lit car park of a grubby little HumChef roadside restaurant. Squat buildings huddled in the darkness, separated by narrow patches of overgrown wasteland. The road was narrow; the aged asphalt surface was cracked and blistered. The woman glanced at the clock on the dashboard; it was two-thirty a.m. The child was asleep in the back, snoring softly. The woman reached across and clasped the man’s hand on the steering wheel.

Fiction

Crook’s Landing, by Scaffold

My brother was hanged on a Monday and two days later I followed him. When the trapdoor opened for the short drop, the sharp stop never came: instead, my soul slithered loose from my body and I fell through darkness, landing with a crash atop a mountain of junk. Odd battered shoes, gimmicked dice and prosthetic notes—the cheat’s cast-offs, the swindler’s knick-knacks. It all reeked of piss. I pulled the sackcloth off my head. A square moon in a black sky shed some light, but not much. 

Fiction

Mariners’ Round

It started small, as these things do, with a cheap glass jewel pried from the rump of a genuine Charles Carmel merry-go-round horse at Sydney’s Luna Park one cool autumn evening in 1977. A blue glass jewel set into a gold-painted wooden harness, many faceted, the size of a king’s thumbnail, a queen’s ransom, big enough to be easily visible and look so precious to kids watching the carousel turn. Easy to pry off, too, in a small enough act of vandalism by one of three fourteen-year-old schoolboys on a cool, just past summer evening.

Fiction

Dead Air

Nita: So you thought I made you sign a release as, what, foreplay? [Laughter.] Voice: I was, like, four tequilas deep by the time you walked in and probably at five when you waved that paper in my face. I would’ve signed my soul away to . . . uh, I didn’t actually sign my soul over, did I?

Dead Air

Fiction

A Haunted House of Her Own

Tanya couldn’t understand why realtors failed to recognize the commercial potential of haunted houses. This one, it seemed, was no different. “Now, these railings need work,” the woman said as she led Tanya and Nathan out onto one of the balconies. “But the floor is structurally sound, and that’s the main thing. I’m sure these would be an attractive selling point to your bed-and-breakfast guests.” Not as attractive as ghosts. “You’re sure the house doesn’t have a history?” Tanya prodded again. “I thought I heard something in town. . . .”

Fiction

Kylie Land

Do not make friends was not actually an explicit Rule, but it was implied by some of the others: do not do anything to draw attention to yourself and do not bring anyone to the house and do not stop anywhere between home and school. As a little kid, Kyle had thought his dad was a psychic. It was middle school before he realized that basically half the teachers in the school were just spying on him. It was high school before he realized they were doing it with the best of intentions, rather than entering into a vast conspiracy.

Fiction

Bones of Crow

Maggie tapped her cigarette twice on the pack before putting the filter to her mouth, an affectation she’d picked up years ago when she first started smoking. She’d seen it in a movie; it packed the tobacco tighter or something. Whatever the reason, it was as much a part of her habit now as sneaking up to the roof to enjoy it. Her lighter was a cheap throwaway, but it did the job. She cupped the flame, brought it to her cigarette, and sucked in the day’s first glorious breath of nicotine. Pocketing the lighter, she took the cigarette from her lips and exhaled the smoke with a sigh.