We have original fiction from Ray Nayler (“Beyond the High Altar”) and Merc Fenn Wolfmoor (“Sweet Dreams are Made From Youalong with reprints by Nina Allan (“The Tiger”) and Letitia Trent (“Wilderness”). Lisa Morton talks about extreme haunts in the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word.” Plus we have author spotlights with our authors, and a book review from Terence Taylor.
In This Issue: Sep. 2019 (Issue 84)
Be sure to check out the Editorial for a run-down of this month’s content. Plus, we’ll share all our news and updates!
A note to the reader: I purchased these letters at the bazaar outside the gates of the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2006. I was working that winter for a humanitarian organization in Kabul. The bazaar was a row of shipping containers and battered tarpaulins along the road to the base’s fortified gates. Military vehicles rumbled past, splattering sleet and mud. Inside the containers, merchants warmed their chapped hands before makeshift propane heaters and haggled over cold piles of misappropriated objects.
There is a bed, a wardrobe with a large oval mirror, a built-in cupboard to one side of the chimney breast. The boards are bare, stained black. There is a greyish cast to everything. Croft guesses the room has not been used in quite some time. “It’s not much, I’m afraid,” the woman says. Her name is Sandra. Symes has told him everyone including her husband calls her Sandy, but Croft has decided already that he will never do this, that it is ugly, that he likes Sandra better. “I’ve been meaning to paint it, but there hasn’t been time.”
Summertown, Tennessee, seems like a nice place to live. Located about an hour southwest of Nashville, it’s a town of less than 1,000 people. Rural two-lane blacktops wind past corn fields and wooded glens. New houses—each on its own acre of green land—can be had for under $250,000. The town has a Buddhist commune (Turtle Hill Sangha), and Wheelin in the Country, an off-road park. Summertown is, in other words, the kind of place that horror writers love to use in their works.
The girl has no name. As often as internet forums try to dub one for her, nothing ever sticks. One week there will be a consensus for a name befitting a drowned girl, an agglomeration of classic and cult horror tropes of long-haired, white-dressed dead women, and soon after there is no trace of what it was. No one remembered. Any posts or recordings mentioning the postulated name will have blank spaces where that name should have been.
The airport was small, squat like a compound, its walls interrupted in regular intervals by tall, shaded windows. When Krista looked out the windows, the sky seemed slate-gray and heavy, but when the front doors opened, she remembered that it was really blue and cloudless outside. She was early for her flight back to New Haven. She liked to arrive at the very earliest time the flight website recommended. She was prepared to wait, liked it even. It was calming to have nothing to do and nowhere she had to be.
Terence Taylor visits some lonely places when he reviews the novels Hellish Beasts, by Brian Carmody, and Tinfoil Butterfly, by Rachel Eve Moulton.