We have original fiction from Giovanni De Feo (“Kiss of the Mouthless Girl”) and Charles Payseur (“The Sound Of”), along with reprints by Priya Sharma (“Pearls”) and Helen Marshall (“The Vault of Heaven”). We also have David Bowles discussing dark Latino folklore in the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word.” As usual, you can expect some great author spotlights with our authors. But the big news this month is the exciting premier of our new book review column by Terence Taylor, called “Read This!”
May 2017 (Issue 56)
Be sure to check out the Editorial for all our news and announcements, as well as a run-down of this month’s content.
If you see the mouthless girl rise from your bed sheets you must never look her in the eyes or she will kiss you. “Is that some sort of urban legend?” I ask. The bloke with the eye-patch grins. He’s been stalking me for some time before coming to the bar and offering me a pint. I had been peering at the busty brunette two stools down when I became aware of his eyes—or rather, of his one eye. I got the impression he was like a human hound, sniffing out some secret scent I didn’t know I had on me. When he walked up to my stool, he leaned over and in a deep voice said he had a story for me.
I sat in the park watching a couple who were, like all lovers, only intent on one another. The girl was a beauty ripe for harvest, her hair a golden sheaf. The boy’s desire was visible in the way he kissed her. I felt a pang. I, too, had been lovely once and loved. My hair made jealous noises in sympathy. A man walked by, and I could hear the furious beat that was piped straight into his ears. His curious gaze slid over my sunglasses and cap, then the sketches on my pad. I loved the park. It had appeared in my work many times.
Growing up Mexican-American and a fan of speculative fiction meant bouncing back and forth between two worlds, but I was used to that crisscrossing of borders, one of the defining and unifying elements of the Latino experience. In our South Texas home, scant miles from Mexico, I could listen to my grandmother Marie Garza recount the tale of the mano pachona—a disembodied demon claw that hunts children down—and then turn to my father’s yellowed copies of pulp magazines to read Lovecraft or to my own collection of Swamp Thing, Weird Mystery Tales, and other dark comics.
Diego packs more insulation into the walls. The work’s itchy as hell and the insulation isn’t enough to cut out the whine of the Sound, not entirely, but he likes to think it helps. Behind him, he can hear Liv move about the apartment, rummaging through the totes they’ve never fully unpacked. A year later and they still live like they might have to flee. “I thought we agreed that the comics would go next,” he says, the Sound like a drill boring into his temples, pushing his voice near to yelling. Not that he wants to remind her what to sell on eBay, but the old X-Men comics might be worth something.
It will be of little surprise to those who know me well that, as a boy, I was possessed by frequent night terrors. I do not like to speak of them now. It embarrasses me—even as it embarrassed my father once. I was a child: I saw as a child and I spoke as a child but my fears were not those of a child. There was a small window set into the north wall of my bedroom, and from this I would gaze out upon the constellations of lights that burst through the gloom: stories my father told me of heroes and monsters, there a dragon, there Hercules. To him these were figments, glimmering signs of a bygone age, but to me? I saw something more.
Terence Taylor brings Nightmare the first installment of his new review column: “Read This!” This month, he reviews Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula, an unusual Icelandic translation of Bram Stoker’s classic, and Paul La Farge’s The Night Ocean.