Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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2016 Original Fiction

Fiction

Bringing Out the Demons

I pull up in front of Stanley’s four-story Los Feliz apartment building at 2:57 ayem Angie and Jack are already out front: Angie pacing, a furious smoke in her hand. Jack smiles thinly, salutes as I block the grade school playground driveway next door (the only available parking left), leaving enough room for the back doors of Jack’s van to load in if need be. “Motherfucker,” I mutter, hitting my blinkers and climbing out.

Fiction

Princess

When the woman flips the visor down, a weak glow flickers on around the mirror. She reaches above her head for the dome light. “Turn it off,” the driver tells her. “I have to check my makeup.” “Off.” He squints at the road and the taillights smearing past like wet blood cells in the fog. “Can’t see where I’m going with that thing on.” “Walter, please . . .” The driver lifts one fist from the steering wheel and finds the switch in the headliner. Behind him, tiny electronic voices chirp in the dark.

Fiction

No Other Men in Mitchell

If I’m gonna tell this story, I’m gonna have to start with the men. In Queensland—right in the middle of it, bum-fuck-nowhere is the word—there’s a town called Mitchell. It has two pubs and a mechanic who services the road trains that pass through, and its only claim to fame is birthing Australia’s shortest-serving Prime Minister ever. I got to know Mitchell’s mechanic while I was driving road trains over the Warrego Highway between South Australia and Queensland.

Fiction

Vulcanization

Another black. A mere illusion, Leopold knew, but he flinched out of the half-naked nigger’s path anyway. Of course Marie Henriette noticed when he did so. The quick little taps of the queen’s high-heeled slippers echoed faster off the polished floor as she hastened to draw even with him. “My dearest—Sire—” Leopold stopped, forcing his entire retinue to stop with him. “What do you wish, my wife?”

Fiction

Angel, Monster, Man

Tom wasn’t fiction. He was not a lie. He was a higher truth, something we invented to encapsulate a reality too horrific to communicate to anyone outside our plague-devastated circle. Maybe myth, but definitely not fiction. Myth helps us make sense of facts too messy to comprehend, and that’s what Tom Minniq was supposed to be. A fable to ponder, and then forget. We birthed Tom at one of Derrick’s Sunday coffee kvetches.