We have original fiction from Megan Arkenberg (“The Night Princes”) and Alanna J. Faelan (“The Taurids Branch”), along with reprints by Laird Barron (“In a Cavern, In a Canyon”) and Gary McMahon (“Strange Scenes from an Unfinished Film”). We also have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with our authors, and a book review from Terence Taylor.
In This Issue: June 2019 (Issue 81)
Be sure to check out the editorial for a run-down of this month’s content, and of course, all our news and updates.
“I’m going to tell you a story,” she says. “And when the story is finished, this will all be over.” There are four of them huddled on the floor of her living room: Francisco, like the saint; Michael, like the angel; Jerome, like the translator; and her, Batul, like the queen of heaven. The apartment—a second-story walkup above a music shop, low-ceilinged, smelling faintly of clove and lemon—looks very much like what it is, the home of a twenty-four-year-old woman who makes a fair wage at a pottery factory. A number of brightly glazed mugs, sunbursts and peonies and beetles and birds, dangle from a rod above her stove.
Husband number one fondly referred to me as the Good Samaritan. Anything from a kid lost in the neighborhood to a countywide search-and-rescue effort, I got involved. If we drove past a fender-bender, I had to stop and lend a hand or snap a few pictures, maybe do a walk-around of the scene. A major crash? Forget about it—I’d haunt the site until the cows came home or the cops shooed me away. Took the better part of a decade for the light bulb to flash over my hubby’s bald head. He realized I wasn’t a Samaritan so much as a fetishist.
It would be easy to blame Indiana Jones. I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in the movie theater five times upon its initial release, and I’ve viewed it dozens of times since then, introducing my children to the dangers and joys of action-archaeology. But to suggest that my interest in digging up the past—or more accurately, digging into the past and uncovering ancient terrors best left buried—didn’t start with Harrison Ford. The motif is broader than that, and goes back much earlier. Was it the dreadful 1956 film The Mole People, in which scientists find a lost, underground city of mutant creatures?
I wanted to tell you the truth, before the end. I’m sorry it took this long, and I’m sorry I’m too cowardly to tell you to your face, but I don’t think I could ever get it right, saying it all out loud. I hope you don’t hate me, but you might. I hope you can at least understand, even if you can’t feel the same about me after. It’s okay if you can’t. It had been three weeks and Ray still hadn’t come back. He was never an audacious man. His inflexibility, his aversion to risk or conflict of any sort, was the raw spot at the center of our relationship. But I liked him for that reason, too. He felt like a home. Solid.
The sticky label had peeled off the videocassette, leaving behind only thin ragged scraps of dirty white paper. I peered at the stains on the paper, trying to make out what had once been written there, but could make no sense of the faint striations which remained.The wind moved heavily across the walls, pressing against the outside of the house. The window creaked, the glass shifting fractionally in old frames. I glanced outside, across the jagged tops of the trees in the park opposite, and towards the brightly lit expanse of the city.
This month, Terence Taylor reviews the novel Triangulum, by Masande Ntshanga, and Wounds, a new short story collection from Nathan Ballingrud.