Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Fiction

Fiction

Lady Madonna

It’s starting. It’s starting, and it doesn’t even hurt that much. It hurts much less than I thought it would. Not that I mind. I don’t care how much pain I endure for the sake of my baby. I can’t cry out. I can’t make a noise. If they hear, they’ll come. And they’ll destroy us. I haven’t forgotten what happened the first time. I will never forget. Here it comes. The contraction. Oh, oh, shit, it does hurt. How could I have forgotten what it’s like? What did Margaret say? It’s like crapping a watermelon.

Fiction

Bringing Out the Demons

I pull up in front of Stanley’s four-story Los Feliz apartment building at 2:57 ayem Angie and Jack are already out front: Angie pacing, a furious smoke in her hand. Jack smiles thinly, salutes as I block the grade school playground driveway next door (the only available parking left), leaving enough room for the back doors of Jack’s van to load in if need be. “Motherfucker,” I mutter, hitting my blinkers and climbing out.

Fiction

Where Angels Come In

One side of my body is full of toothache. Right in the middle of the bones. While the skin and muscles have a chilly pins-and-needles tingle that won’t ever turn back into the warmth of a healthy arm and leg. Which is why Nanna Alice is here; sitting on the chair at the foot of my bed, her crumpled face in shadow. But the milky light that comes through the net curtains finds a sparkle in her quick eyes and gleams on the yellowish grin that hasn’t changed since my Mother let her into the house.

Fiction

Princess

When the woman flips the visor down, a weak glow flickers on around the mirror. She reaches above her head for the dome light. “Turn it off,” the driver tells her. “I have to check my makeup.” “Off.” He squints at the road and the taillights smearing past like wet blood cells in the fog. “Can’t see where I’m going with that thing on.” “Walter, please . . .” The driver lifts one fist from the steering wheel and finds the switch in the headliner. Behind him, tiny electronic voices chirp in the dark.

Fiction

Inspirations

She counts the days by the cuts on her arms. Her captors tell her the year when she asks them—one of the few questions they ever answer for her—but the numbers mean nothing. She remembers the birth of the Industrial Age, remembers men flying like Icarus flew (and falling, falling, so many of them falling, so many melting waxen wings) . . . but oh, even then, the numbers meant nothing. Who measures years by thousands? No empire stands two thousand years; no man measures such a span. Not even scars endure that long.

Fiction

No Other Men in Mitchell

If I’m gonna tell this story, I’m gonna have to start with the men. In Queensland—right in the middle of it, bum-fuck-nowhere is the word—there’s a town called Mitchell. It has two pubs and a mechanic who services the road trains that pass through, and its only claim to fame is birthing Australia’s shortest-serving Prime Minister ever. I got to know Mitchell’s mechanic while I was driving road trains over the Warrego Highway between South Australia and Queensland.

Fiction

There’s a Hole in the City

On the evening of the day after the towers fell, I was waiting by the barricades on Houston Street and LaGuardia Place for my friend Mags to come up from SoHo and have dinner with me. On the skyline, not two miles to the south, the pillars of smoke wavered slightly. But the creepily beautiful weather of September 11 still held and the wind blew in from the northeast. In Greenwich Village the air was crisp and clean with just a touch of fall about it.

Fiction

Vulcanization

Another black. A mere illusion, Leopold knew, but he flinched out of the half-naked nigger’s path anyway. Of course Marie Henriette noticed when he did so. The quick little taps of the queen’s high-heeled slippers echoed faster off the polished floor as she hastened to draw even with him. “My dearest—Sire—” Leopold stopped, forcing his entire retinue to stop with him. “What do you wish, my wife?”

Fiction

Down Here in the Garden

Daren Powell sits in The Forlorn Hope outside Truckee, California and warms his bare hands on the backs of his gloves. Despite the glowing embers in the granite fireplace, despite the crackling logs and spicy smoke, the chill has penetrated even the deepest layers of his thermal t-shirts, sweater, heavy jacket, and he finds himself wrapped in the icy embrace of the Sierra Nevadas. His drinking partner waits at the bar for another bottle of Jim Beam.

Fiction

Angel, Monster, Man

Tom wasn’t fiction. He was not a lie. He was a higher truth, something we invented to encapsulate a reality too horrific to communicate to anyone outside our plague-devastated circle. Maybe myth, but definitely not fiction. Myth helps us make sense of facts too messy to comprehend, and that’s what Tom Minniq was supposed to be. A fable to ponder, and then forget. We birthed Tom at one of Derrick’s Sunday coffee kvetches.