Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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2013 Original Fiction

Fiction

They Called Him Monster

The sprite feels wood against her fingertips. Old wood. It’s the wild, gnarled trunk of an oak tree hewn, shaped and molded back together as a table. It’s a free thing bound into shape by a carpenter until it becomes simply, elegantly, something tamed. Just like her.

Fiction

And Yet, Her Eyes

Sasha came back from Kandahar in pieces, a sack of broken glass in the shape of a woman. She knew her edges stuck out at hard, invisible angles, waiting for an unwary hand to snag and recoil, so she kept her eyes closed through the flight to Chicago, immersed in civilian travel-murmur but not part of it.

Fiction

Fishwife

The men went out in boats to fish the cold waters of the bay because their fathers had, because men in this village always had. The women waited to gather in the catch, gut and clean and carry the fish to market because they always had, mothers and grandmothers and so on, back and back.

Fiction

The House on Cobb Street

The house itself was razed, its lot now surrounded by a high fence bearing a sign that announces the construction presumably in progress behind it as the future offices of Drs. Laura Gonzales and Didi Mueller, D.D.S. The principal witnesses in this case did not respond to repeated enquiries, and in one case, obtained a restraining order against this author. And the young woman in question is said by all to have disappeared, if indeed she ever existed in the first place.

Fiction

Doll Re Mi

Folscyvio saw the Thing in a small cramped shop off the Via Silvia. In fact, he almost passed it by. He had just come from the Laguna, climbed the forty mildewy, green-velveted steps to the Ponte Louro, and crossed over to the elevated arcades of the Nuova. Then he glanced down, and spotted Giavetti, who owed him money, creeping by below through the ancient alleys.

Fiction

Centipede Heartbeat

Each time Lisa rested her head against Joette’s breasts, she heard the centipedes. In between heartbeats there was the tiny sound of hundreds of chitinous footsteps against bone, of miniature mandibles tearing at organs. Joette refused to admit to it, or maybe she didn’t know.

Fiction

Gravitas

He stared bleary-eyed at the broken glass studding the land. This was his crop, seeded over the span of four weeks, irrigated from the residue of Napa Valley grapes, sun-kissed until it glistened like dew. It was the bounty of his desperation, and now was the time to harvest.

Fiction

Bonfires

The shore was dark when we showed up, but it would soon be blazing, and that thought was all I needed to warm me while we built the bonfires. The waves slopped in and sucked out again like black tar, and I went along the waterline with the others, pulling broken boards and snags of swollen wood out of the bubbling froth and foam, hauling it across the sand and up to the gravel where the road edge ran.

Fiction

No Breather in the World But Thee

The cook didn’t like that the eyes of the dead fish shifted to stare at him as he cut their heads off. The cook’s assistant, who was also his lover, didn’t like that he woke to find just a sack of bloody bones on the bed beside him. “It’s starting again,” he gasped, just moments before a huge, black, birdlike creature carried him off, screaming.

Fiction

The Sign in the Moonlight

You will have heard, no doubt, of the Bergenssen expedition—if only from the manner of its loss. For a short while, that tragedy was deemed significant and remarkable enough to adorn the covers of every major newspaper in the civilised world.