Horror & Dark Fantasy

PRIMITIVES

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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

Dr. Wasp and Hornet Holmes

Dr. Wasp and Hornet Holmes were gathering nectar one day when Holmes made a startling observation. “The Queen has been behaving rather oddly in recent days,” she said. Dr. Wasp pulled her proboscis from the flower and regarded Holmes with surprise. “However do you mean?” she said. “Do you ever feel that not all is as it seems?” Holmes said. “That what we see is illusory, that dark forces move unseen behind the bright façade of the world?”

Fiction

The Last of the Juggalos

My grandfather was a clown prophet. I mean he was a clown. A literal clown. He wore clown makeup. And he foretold the end. Accurately. John, the Puranas, Snorri Sturluson, Nostradamus, any of those apocalypse writers—they didn’t know shit. The guy who really knew the magic, the guy who really knew about how the end of the world would come, was my grandfather.

Fiction

Esther (1855)

The Saints saw nothing but rock and scrub, the one lone Joshua tree dead, its arms defeated. They traveled by wagon, the four still alive, their clothes stiff with their own stink and with the smell of dirt. The dead they buried or thought they buried along the way. The animals gone, all but one, and that one fading. They tied casks to the wagon, dragged the wagon themselves, the wagon lighter now because mostly empty.

Fiction

And All Their Silent Roars

“But why?” Charlotte whined. In the front seat, our mother consulted the map. “I’m not going to keep answering that.” Anyone who’d come within shouting distance of our old house the week before could have done it for her, given how often it had been repeated. Mom’s office was moving her to Binghamton, and Dad had found a new firm there, so that was that.

Fiction

Where the Heather Grows

Clara drinks from water bottles so she doesn’t have to hear the tap running. She puts all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and leaves the building until it’s done running, just so she doesn’t have to hear it. She does everything she can to avoid the sound. Showers, though—those are trickier. She can’t avoid washing herself forever. So she starts the tap, plugs the bathtub, and waits several rooms away until it’s full enough that she can shut off the tap.

Fiction

Synchronous Online

It could have been ketchup. Or sriracha sauce. V8 or cranberry juice or pinot noir. It could have been Karo syrup with food coloring as it had been in Carrie or Bosco Chocolate Syrup as in Psycho. It didn’t matter. My dissertation had been on suspension of disbelief in scripted violence, and I knew that as long as the audience agreed that the red scarf pulled from Juliet’s breast was her blood dripping from Romeo’s dagger, it didn’t matter that it was a scarf.

Fiction

The First Year

When you were inside me, I knew you were mine. Now, I’m not so sure. Cradled in my arms, you are an assemblage of parts I recognize: Noah’s cleft chin and narrow ears, my heart-shaped lips and upturned nose. But your eyes are something else. I angle you this way and that, your milk-drunk mouth smearing saliva across my hospital gown while I search your slumbering face for the pull of attachment, waiting for the surge of affection.

Fiction

The Golden Hour

Thomas woke alone, and opened his sticky eyes to the dusty golden light filling the bedroom. He expected to see Benjamin in the other bed, beside him, as if they were still children together. The bed was filled with familiar shadows, but Benjamin wasn’t there. Instead, among their discarded toys, he found another boy’s body, again. His memory stuttered, caught on faces and places and angles of light, aromas and flavors that had long since faded to dust.

Fiction

In the Walls and Beneath the Fridge

It was the unexpectedness of the scream that pulled him to his feet from a sofa slouch before the television, that sent him in a run the short way to the kitchen. Jess’s soft padding steps the same path a few seconds before, unconcerned, slippered, still sounded in his memory. Get me a packet of crisps whilst you’re in there, love, will you? The snap of the light switch. The clicking of the old school fluorescent tube coming to life.

Fiction

The Summer Castle

I have spent my life trying to understand what the thing called memory is. I know some of what it is not. It is not the opposite of forgetting. And it is not a record of what happened. How many summers did we spend at the castle? Five? Seven? We did not go there every summer, though now it seems impossible childhood summers could have existed without the castle.