We have original fiction from Kurt Fawver (“The Bleeding Maze”) and Senaa Ahmad (“The Skin of a Teenage Boy is Not Alive”), along with reprints by Amanda Downum (“Spore”) and Richard Gavin (“The Word-Made Flesh”). We also have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with our authors, and an interview with author Nathan Ballingrud.
In This Issue: Aug. 2019 (Issue 83)
No editorial found.
I want to tell you about the bleeding maze at the center of our town. People who aren’t from around here don’t know anything about it. It’s not referenced on any website or in any travel book, and most of us like it that way. We don’t share the knowledge of its existence with just anyone because it’s a very personal thing, the maze. We all have longstanding relationships with it that began at a young age. See, when kids in our town turn eighteen, we force them to enter it, like our parents did to us and their parents did to them. Inside the maze we have unique experiences, formative experiences.
Be sure to check out the editorial for a discussion of this month’s content, plus news and updates.
“I got it from my girlfriend,” the boy says. “Ex-girlfriend.” Color rises in his light brown cheeks. “Wow, that makes it sound bad.” I shift in the unforgiving molded plastic chair, fighting a sigh and winning—just. My face feels awkward, as though my sympathetic-interviewer expression is about to tilt and slide off. I glance toward the window, but the glass gives nothing back. Outside the study room are tables littered with stray books, students with earbuds sprouting from their skulls, and the cramped rows of bound periodicals in the library basement. A fluorescent tube flickers in one corner.
In my final year of grad school, I rented a one-room apartment, and the cheeky geography of the sidewalks and hills funneled rain directly to my stoop. The first time my home flooded, it was two a.m. A puddle swelled from the crack under my front door and expanded across the entire wooden floor. The next big storm was thoughtful enough to happen in the daytime. I used my phone to record the inevitable flood for my landlady. This is how the video goes: I film my stoop. It’s bright outside, the clouds already scattering, but water threatens to spill across the threshold of my open door.
The Skin of a Teenage Boy Is Not Alive
Parveen isn’t there when Benny falls off the roof. But everyone knows the story. Benny and his dumb demon cult. It happens at one of their houses, a place built like a modern-day cathedral. The kind of hovel that has a saltwater pool with a vanishing edge and a wine cellar with someone’s entire life savings down there and red-glazed tiles cutting swoops into the Los Pueblos skyline. Six-day-old moon, a wide goblin grin from above. The hot strobe of synth-pop booming everywhere. The hazy, electrostatic currents of teenage bodies thrilling with vodka and happiness hormones.
The Word-Made Flesh
My friend Austin’s distress was apparent to me before I even reached our table. His twitchy mannerisms and his mask of worry troubled me a great deal, since I knew the tragedies he’d recently endured. He was stationed in the corner, where the only light source was the dwarfish lamp on the table. This meek, fever-yellow glow made every furrow in Austin’s brow seem gorge-deep and hazed his flesh in a ghoulish pallor. I extended my hand. “Happy Christmas,” I said, hoping that my somewhat saccharine tone might lift Austin’s spirits. He gave my hand a limp shake and bade me to sit.
Interview: Nathan Ballingrud
Nathan Ballingrud is the author of Wounds: Six Stories from the Border of Hell, and North American Lake Monsters. He is a two-time winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, and has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Bram Stoker awards. His novella “The Visible Filth” was adapted into the movie Wounds, written and directed by Babak Anvari; and North American Lake Monsters is in development as an anthology series at Hulu. He lives in Asheville, NC.