Horror & Dark Fantasy

THECONDUCTORS

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Podcasts

Produced by Skyboat Media, and under the direction of Grammy and Audie award-winning narrator and producer Stefan Rudnicki, our podcast features audiobook-style recordings of two of the four stories we publish each month in Nightmare, released more or less on a weekly basis. To subscribe (free!) to the podcast, you'll either need our podcast RSS feed and put that into your favorite podcast client, or you can just subscribe via iTunes.

 

 

Fiction

Paradise Retouched

To mark the first day of vacation, Jeff Caldwell, extremely jet lagged after a day of travel and two nights of little sleep, took a surfing lesson and broke his big toe by jumping off the board straight onto shallow reef. Rather than spend hours in a waiting room, he returned to their rental house, found an emergency medical kit, taped his big toe to the one next to it, and crammed his foot into a shoe as if it were a cast. He had hoped to be done with shoes for the week, but flip-flops were now out of the question.

Fiction

The Family in the Adit

My reasons were selfish, but I hoped the dinner guest would succeed. She had made an effort to be presentable, even though that only amounted to plaiting her hair into a few coarse braids and shaking some of the filth from her clothes before she stepped out of the lightless passageway and into our home. But small actions carry great weight in the Mine. Husband didn’t agree. “You won’t survive this,” he said. “I can tell.” The dinner guest’s determined expression didn’t waver.

Fiction

It Accumulates

It is a frequent yet mild aggravation to return to one’s car in a public parking structure and find stuck beneath the windshield wiper or in the door handle a postcard peddling Chinese delivery or Jesus, which is then folded angrily and left in the pocket of the driver’s side door until you remember to clean it out—but it is a sight more unsettling to find, instead, a black postcard advertising in bold red letters: “Exorcisms.” In the greenish fluorescent light of the cement structure, surrounded by empty spots, you might pause over the ad, might even chuckle.

Fiction

A Cast of Liches

“For how long must we keep doing this?” the first lich asked the second. His dreadlocks were dry and had faded near to white, a smell not of fragrant oils, but of something long past due permeating the air around him. His eyes were tired and sucked back into his skull. “As long as it takes,” the second answered. Bent forth on his crooked staff, he observed the cauldron’s brew. “Keep churning.” A third lich stood by silently, as if deep in meditation. After a time, he too leaned his wicked bones over the pot and spit. “That should do,” he said.

Fiction

Hairy Legs and All

Like the time you put the shoes on you hadn’t worn for maybe two years but you just saw there in the corner of the closet and you wondered why you’d stopped wearing them since you kind of liked who you were that summer or at least you remember that summer favorably, and these shoes were definitely part of it, so, trying to maybe live a little bit of that time again, you hauled them out, stepped both feet into them, right first then left, like always, only what you didn’t realize but should have considered was that maybe a dark forgotten shoe-cave like that in the way back of the closet might be the perfect cool musty place for a tarantula to sleep one off for a month or two…

Fiction

We, the Girls Who Did Not Make It

We are not where we are buried. We are where they kept us. We float now, and see the low building in the woods from above, the long plates of rusted metal, the desiccated grass bundling against the sides like a pyre, the orb spider poised over a corroded edge. But when we were alive, we only knew the inside of the basement, where we had all the usual things girls have when they are being held and killed. There are thirteen of us girls. You might be thinking, oh, but can you really call yourselves girls?

Fiction

I Let You Out

I watch the closet door. I watch around them as they pray above me, their eyes closed and their hands clasped in ecstasy. Their voices drown out all other sounds—like, for instance, the creak of a slowly opening door. So I can’t close my eyes, though my head is aching. I have to watch the door. Their prayers rise and fall and bleed into one other, a nonsense incantation of sacred gibberish. They’re crying and sweating. There is no air conditioning in the old farmhouse, and the humid bedroom is fragrant with their body odors.

Fiction

How to Break into a Hotel Room

Javi is short for Javier. Javier is short for Has the Perfect Scam. He hasn’t told anybody about it yet. Especially not the hotels. It’s not the kind of thing you get rich with—one fancy watch or a pair of earrings doesn’t exactly pay the rent—but it is the kind of thing that’s good enough for a smile at three in the morning.

Fiction

The Wrong Girl

“The problem is,” she says as she spears a piece of crispy bacon skilfully enough that it doesn’t shatter, “you’ve got a revolving door for a heart.” He doesn’t like hearing things like this, mostly because she’s generally right. Ilsa’s clear-eyed about him. and that makes their friendship remarkably unfraught (apart from these moments). Unlike his other relationships. She sees him for who he is, but doesn’t stop talking to him, doesn’t judge him, not really, or if she does, she’s still friends with him. His father used to say he was his own worst enemy.

Fiction

The Book of Drowned Sisters

They lived on the last street that had been constructed before investor money ran out, and behind their row of seven houses was a long unfenced field marked KEEP OUT, within it a little hill and little retaining pond, and a row of three streetlights along an unpaved road that stopped abruptly at the foot of the hill. Trees rimmed the field, and the streetlights still lit up, so there was a touch of Narnia in every evening. Even in the brilliant summer sun, the trees were thick enough to give the woods an inviting fairy tale darkness. | Copyright 2020 by Caspian Gray.