It all started when Ms. Salinas told us about her third eye. It was home ec., and we were sitting in front of the sewing machines with table runners that we were going to make our moms or yayas do for us anyway. I was pretty anxious about that project.
Produced by 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. To subscribe (free!) to the podcast, you'll either need our podcast RSS feed (http://nightmare-magazine.com/itunes-rss) and put that into your favorite podcast client (a/k/a podcatcher), or you can just subscribe via iTunes.
So if there’s anyone listening at this god-awful hour, tonight’s topic is the same one as this morning, this afternoon, and earlier this evening . . . in fact, it’s the same topic the whole world’s had for the last thirteen days, if anyone’s been counting: Our Loved Ones; Why Have They Come Back from the Dead and What the Fuck Do They Want?
Clutch has killed somebody recently. This goes without saying. For as long as Clutch can remember, he has always killed somebody “recently.” If not within the last few hours, then certainly within the last few days. He may have gone as long as a couple of weeks without, from time to time, when circumstances conspired against him. But never as long as a month, no, not for living memory.
I’d used duct tape to attach one end of a garden hose to the exhaust pipe, and the other end of the hose ran in through the crack at the top of the passenger-side window, pumping sweet poison into the interior. I took a last swig from the bottle between my knees, the liquor burning its familiar path down my throat. I closed my eyes and waited for a sleep that would be forever untroubled by bad dreams—for the final closing of the unbalanced account of my life—when something tapped against the glass beside my left ear.
Gibbons swigged from his hipflask, driving one-handed as he followed the caravan of carny vehicles barreling along the interstate toward tonight’s show. As the booze burned through him, he bared his teeth, glaring in the rearview at the tarp-shrouded shape of the car hooked to his truck.
Walk continuously around a tree with an owl in it: the owl will keep its eye on you until it has wrenched off its own head. He couldn’t remember where the words had come from, but he knew they were old and the last time he had heard them he could have been little more than five years of age.
1. Because it would take the patience of a saint or Dalai Lama to smilingly turn the other cheek to those six savage boys day after day, to emerge unembittered from each new round of psychological and physical assaults; whereas I, Jared Shumsky, aged sixteen, have many things, like pimples and the bottom bunk bed in a trailer, and clothes that smell like cherry car air fresheners, but no particular strength or patience.
It had taken three days before the supervisor—“call me Marty”—asked Finn for the favour. He knew by the looks on the faces of the other staff—the little upturning of their heads that meant they were listening, but weren’t going to show it—that it wasn’t going to be a good favour.
The crew is drowned, the ship is flayed to ribbons and splinters, and her own arms are a-rotted down to yellowed bone and salt-cured jerky not even the gulls will touch. Cross-legged on her chunk of life-raft, staring at that familiar line of decaying blubber through the spyglass, all Captain Perth can think, over and over again, is: just a little further. Just a little further and things will right themselves, if only I am strong.
From the camp on the hill they could see everything, the river and the barn with its silos of molding grain, the hunting crows, and far to the west, in the square white farmhouse with its padlocked cellar door, the congregation of the Dead.