We have original fiction from G.V. Anderson (“We, the Folk”) and Ashley Deng (“Dégustation”), along with reprints by Laird Barron (“Girls Without Their Faces On”) and Robert Shearman (“That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love”). 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 2020 (Issue 93)
Be sure to check out the editorial for a run-down of this month’s content. Plus, you don’t want to miss any of our news or updates!
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The maypole dancers are restricted by what’s left of the ribbons. I watch them squeeze past each other with shining faces flushed pink from the heat. Too pink to be skin. More like meat. To my right, John’s wickerwork bath chair crunches as he shifts. “Raymond tells me you’re writing again,” he says. I swallow a scowl and nod. Raymond—Ray—John’s doctor. That man can’t smell gas without striking a match.
Delia’s father had watched her drowning when she was a little girl. The accident happened in a neighbor’s pool. Delia lay submerged near the bottom, her lungs filling with chlorinated water. She could see Dad’s distorted form bent forward, shirtsleeves rolled to the elbow, cigarette dangling from his lips, blandly inquisitive. Mom scooped Delia out and smacked her between the shoulder blades while she coughed and coughed. Delia didn’t think about it often. Not often.
I like to ask people about their childhood fears because I was a fearful child. At five, I avoided the TV room for a week after glimpsing something with a face like gobs of wet clay groping its way up a staircase. Only years and nightmares later did I learn this was Martin Landau’s entirely sympathetic mutant in the Outer Limits episode “The Man Who Was Never Born.” When I was nine, I was freaked out by faces more awful than Landau’s lumpy one.
You are a spore, barely more than a twinkle in your many parents’ breeding-breathing air. They are your family, among other things, living as a colony in the dim light beneath an abandoned office building. They fill the already-damp air with the encouraging words of hopes and aspirations for you and your siblings. And though you are nothing more than a speck in the air, the sentiment is warm, just as the earthy mulch you settle into that embraces you like a blanket.
Karen thought of them as her daughters, and tried to love them with all her heart. Because, really, wasn’t that the point? They came to her, all frilly dresses, and fine hair, and plastic limbs, and eyes so large and blue and innocent. And she would name them, and tell them she was their mother now; she took them to her bed, and would give them tea parties, and spank them when they were naughty; she promised she would never leave them, or, at least, not until the end.
This month Terence Taylor talks about bad women in horror in his reviews of Stephen Graham Jones’s new novel The Only Good Indians and a reprint of Ramsey Campbell’s classic The Wise Friend.