Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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2014 Original Fiction

Fiction

Dear Owner of This 1972 Ford Crew Cab Pickup

It’s me again. Remember me? In the beginning I left a note stuck to your windshield. You are parked outside my bedroom window, it said. Please stop revving your truck at 3 a.m., or find somewhere else to park.

Fiction

Death and Death Again

That evening, she kills him again. This time, she works slowly, exquisitely slowly, taking frequent stops for food, for wine, for blood. Once or twice she even excuses herself to go to the bathroom, apologizing for leaving him alone.

Fiction

The Black Window

The house looked like a sand castle after the tide had come in. Except sand suggested a crumbling grayness, and the tall, narrow house was a fresh white. A front porch was large enough for a swinging bench if I could bear that level of domesticity.

Fiction

Dirtman

When I see the scorpion curled under a caliche rock I picked up, my first want is to smash it like Daddy would. Daddy’s always killing things—hairy tarantulas in the hall, fat diamondbacks in the field, and my hound pups when they get parvo. Our few patches of grass have the sick, but Daddy won’t treat it. He says it costs too much.

Fiction

Don’t Go

—Don’t go—she said. Leaning on the door frame as if she was about to fall down. I understood that she was worrying about me. She could’ve stopped me, but she didn’t. Only the words: “Don’t go.” A lump in her throat, no strength to say more than this.

Fiction

In the Temple of Celestial Pleasures

Jin left the last of his life’s concubines sobbing in shallow water. It was sad. He had loved the sweet girl as much as he was capable of loving any woman, which is to say that he had sometimes found himself giving thought to her wishes in the occasional circumstances where that did not conflict with his own.

Fiction

This is the Way I Die

I want to be broken, to be shattered, then reshaped into something new. Something with bulletproof skin, eyes that can see in the dark, lungs that can breathe in water as well as air, and an impenetrable heart. I want to be made monstrous, beautiful, frightening.

Fiction

It Was Never the Fire

He was the kid who looked at the sun too long. He hunted for lighters like sharks hunted for blood. Christ intrigued him for all the wrong reasons. He only ate smoke.

Fiction

Sleep Paralysis

I am subject to dreams, especially one of a curious type in which I wake on my back, unable to move, my arms pinned to my side, my legs straight. My paralysis is complete, and a thick darkness pervades my bedchamber, a darkness of an almost viscous weight, so that I can feel it pressing upon my face and bearing down against the bedclothes. And there is something else, as well: a sense of obscure doom falls upon me.

Fiction

Bones

There is nothing more absurdly incongruous—ironic perhaps—than the burning fear found in the hearts of all men: the fear of death. Ironic, I say, for it is only those who have known death’s euphoric touch who find their eyes opened to the truer horror of waking life.