We have original fiction from Nino Cipri (“Dead Air”) and G.V. Anderson (“Crook’s Landing, by Scaffold”), along with reprints by Terry Dowling (“Mariners’ Round”) and Gary McMahon (“Kill All Monsters”). In the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” Nadia Bulkin connects horror to anxiety. Plus, we have author spotlights with our authors, and a heavy metal-themed book review from Terence Taylor.
In This Issue: Aug. 2018 (Issue 71)
Be sure to check out the editorial for all our news, updates, and a rundown of this month’s offerings.
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?
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.
I get so stressed watching horror—especially in theaters, especially in the dark, where I have nowhere to hide—that I hold a bag of popcorn over my eyes, sweat pooling in my palms, while my friends teasingly jab me in the ribs. It’s not the idea of a ghost jumping off the top of a dresser that gets me. It’s the anticipation. It’s the tightrope between knowing and not-knowing: knowing that your safety will be breached, but not knowing when. “But don’t you write horror?” Yes; it’s called a coping mechanism.
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.
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.
This month, Terence Taylor has some new horror fiction you should know: rock’n’roll-themed scares from Lee Thomas (Distortion) and Grady Hendrix (We Sold Our Souls).