Horror & Dark Fantasy

THECONDUCTORS

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Short Stories

Fiction

The Myth of You

You like myths, don’t you? Sure you do. They’re stories. Special kinds of stories. And stories, even if they don’t consist of bare facts or figures or polynomial equations, are containers for your sustenance, your lifeblood: information. See, stories wrap up their informational nutrients in a fat slice of possibility, and possibility glistens with a complex palate of flavors. So many meanings simultaneously hitting your tongue—if you have a tongue, that is. So many morsels of data, all converging at once.

Fiction

Dead Worms, Dangling

When Milo got to the river’s edge, where the log fern gave way to a rough bank, Buck was already there. Shirt tied around his waist, his lean thirteen-year-old’s torso glossed with sweat, bent over with his hands on his knees. There was something in his face Milo didn’t like.  “Drop something?” Buck startled and turned. “Nothing important. What took you so long?” Milo swatted away flies that had found a perch on his glasses.

Fiction

Nesters

They killed the last calf that morning. Ma wanted to hold off, give the poor thing a chance, but Pa said it were cruel to let a body live like that. He cracked the hammer on its head—a sick, sad sound. Later he slit the calf open and showed Sally the animal’s stomach, choked with dust. “Suffocated from the inside,” he said. Sally cried, or would have cried, but her face was too caked with dirt. The Vaseline in her nostrils couldn’t keep it out.

Fiction

Methods of Ascension

It wasn’t unusual for my brother to send me strange videos he found on the internet. If I’d had enough to drink, sometimes I’d even watch. They were all about pain, in one way or another, and often made me feel as though someone had poured concrete down my throat. There are afterimages burned into my memory that cannot be removed; grainy flashes of a woman swallowed up by an escalator, handing her child to a stranger before being pulled under; black and white street fight footage that ends with a neck snapped back.

Fiction

The Secret Life of the Unclaimed

It starts with something as simple as a toothache. I’m home on vacation before final session at Ecclesia Boys, so Momsie is the one I run to. She’s seated in bed with her glasses on, her hair untamed, the gray streaks standing clear. She has her back on the headboard and her feet buried in documents. “My teeth, they’re painful,” I tell her. “I’m dreaming every night that people are chasing me.” She flicks her eyes at me then back to her documents, so I return to my room and curl up like a fetus to absorb the pain.

Fiction

The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)

The teeth in the neck gambit obviously starts all of this. Don’t think I’ll forget that. Don’t expect for one moment you’re going to get off too easily. You might not be the only one to blame, but you’re still mostly to blame. For how you come to me when I’m by myself, a lonely girl in a goblin market where some treasures are best left undiscovered. Tonight, my mother’s hosting another soirée, all in my honor, a way to find me the perfect husband. She doesn’t care what I have to say about it.

Fiction

With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfsbane Seeds

“It’s Halloween,” Mary told Cook, while Cook boiled caramel and dipped apples and laid them on the table to dry, buttery and glistening in their new candy shells. Cook smiled indulgently and gave Mary a ball of caramel to play between her fingers, and shooed her out of the kitchen. “It’s Halloween,” Mary told Mr. Evans the gardener, while he stuffed old clothes with hay and sticks and raised his new-formed scarecrows onto their stands, propping them around the grounds like watchful sentinels.

Fiction

Dollhouse

There is a man locked in the dollhouse. He is not a doll-sized man. He is a full-sized man. The structure is designed for miniatures, and he is trapped inside it, knees up against his chest, head scraping the ceiling. He only fits because the architects of the little house equipped it with a palatial foyer, the kind that, in real houses, is designed to make visitors gape at the sheer magnificence of the space. The effect is lost on the full-sized man. To him, it’s more like a cabinet.

Fiction

Growing and Growing

After half a barrel of foaming sour pulque, Ignacio and Hector start the long stumble home. The night is cold but they’re still warm, still cocooned, and they talk in circles about the business, the vermiculture that will turn Oaxaca’s gardens into jungles and fill their pockets besides. Their families’ futures in a tub of worms. If the shadows on the street are deeper than usual, if the barking of the dogs is more desperate, if the waning moon is unnaturally sharp, a shard of bone from a desecrated grave, they do not notice.

Fiction

Grave Goods

Put the pieces back together, fit them against each other chip by chip and line by line, and they start to sing. There’s a sort of tone a skeleton gives off; Aretha Howson can feel it more than hear it, like it’s tuned to some frequency she can’t quite register. It resonates through her in layers: skin, muscle, cartilage, bone. It whispers in her ear at night, secret, liquid. Like blood through a shell. The site they’re working on is probably Early Archaic—6,500 B.P. or so, going strictly by contents