Horror & Dark Fantasy



Short Stories


At the Riding School

“Come quick,” she said, in a voice so leaden, each word took a year off my life. “Bring the black bag . . . There’s been an accident.” The call woke me up, and I knocked over a water bottle getting out of bed. For an instant, the glimmer of my ex-husband’s terrified countenance flashed through my murky thoughts. Shaking his horrible visage off, I realized that the cabin was freezing, then I began to worry about what really mattered: getting to Madame fast enough . . .


No Other Life

Cities like her make men leave their hearts on their shores. “Seeing you,” the men say, “I want no other life.” Each night, as the diadem of the Bosporus drifts into slumber, violet shadows drape the narrow streets of Eminönü. I watch the window, thinking of you moving through the sleeping city, your footfall silent as the breathing of dreamers. I imagine you slipping velvet mist over your shoulders, sweeping past mosque and meyhane, sleeping beasts and sleeping houses. Full houses. Empty houses. I was born in this city, raised on a tongue of land embraced by swift straits and glittering seas.



There are four of us left huddled in the cabin: me, Jerry, Carina, and Kyle. And we’re terrified the door won’t hold. Carina shivers so uncontrollably, her teeth sound like stones rattling down a metal chute. Kyle begs her to quiet down. But her teeth aren’t making enough noise to matter. Not compared to the howling storm. It comes in gusts that build in slow waves, rhythmically increasing in both volume and strength until a gale overtakes the cabin, pelting the windows with hard rain. A cold draught pushes past us while we tremble on the floor, wishing we were anyplace else.


Threnody for Little Girl, with Tuna, at the End of the World

The doorbell rang, and I knew that Matthew was dead. It wasn’t a remarkable sort of knowing, although maybe it should have been. It was too quiet for that, too sad, creeping out of nowhere and filling me from toe to tip with the knowledge that the world was different now than it had been a few moments ago. If I turned on the news, someone would be talking about it. That should have been a comfort, knowing that I wasn’t going to mourn alone. All it did was make me tired. I stood, leaving my computer to compile its code, ticking down the seconds of my working day.


Strange Scenes from an Unfinished Film

The sticky label had peeled off the videocassette, leaving behind only thin ragged scraps of dirty white paper. I peered at the stains on the paper, trying to make out what had once been written there, but could make no sense of the faint striations which remained.The wind moved heavily across the walls, pressing against the outside of the house. The window creaked, the glass shifting fractionally in old frames. I glanced outside, across the jagged tops of the trees in the park opposite, and towards the brightly lit expanse of the city.


The Taurids Branch

I wanted to tell you the truth, before the end. I’m sorry it took this long, and I’m sorry I’m too cowardly to tell you to your face, but I don’t think I could ever get it right, saying it all out loud. I hope you don’t hate me, but you might. I hope you can at least understand, even if you can’t feel the same about me after. It’s okay if you can’t. It had been three weeks and Ray still hadn’t come back. He was never an audacious man. His inflexibility, his aversion to risk or conflict of any sort, was the raw spot at the center of our relationship. But I liked him for that reason, too. He felt like a home. Solid.


In a Cavern, in a Canyon

Husband number one fondly referred to me as the Good Samaritan. Anything from a kid lost in the neighborhood to a countywide search-and-rescue effort, I got involved. If we drove past a fender-bender, I had to stop and lend a hand or snap a few pictures, maybe do a walk-around of the scene. A major crash? Forget about it—I’d haunt the site until the cows came home or the cops shooed me away. Took the better part of a decade for the light bulb to flash over my hubby’s bald head. He realized I wasn’t a Samaritan so much as a fetishist.


The Night Princes

“I’m going to tell you a story,” she says. “And when the story is finished, this will all be over.” There are four of them huddled on the floor of her living room: Francisco, like the saint; Michael, like the angel; Jerome, like the translator; and her, Batul, like the queen of heaven. The apartment—a second-story walkup above a music shop, low-ceilinged, smelling faintly of clove and lemon—looks very much like what it is, the home of a twenty-four-year-old woman who makes a fair wage at a pottery factory. A number of brightly glazed mugs, sunbursts and peonies and beetles and birds, dangle from a rod above her stove.



The door was thick. The room, well-made. I knew. I’d seen. Every step.I never heard Mother screaming in the night. I knew she was, it was obvious. I’d seen her with the cameras. Father had made me watch when I was young. Father had worried I didn’t fully understand. Fully believe. But I did. My favorite days were when it was over and Mother was allowed to return. Mine and hers both, I imagine. She was never happier than after. She would hold me and squeeze me tight, and I’d laugh and she’d pepper my cheek, neck, and forehead with kisses.


Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island

“There are few tales as tragic as that of the denizens of Ratnabar Island. When a British expedition made landfall on its shores in 1891, they did so armed to the teeth, braced for the same hostile reception other indigenous peoples of the Andamans had given them. What they found, instead, was a primitive hunter-gatherer community composed almost entirely of women and children. [ . . . ] The savage cultural clash that followed would transmute the natives’ offer of a welcoming meal into direst offense, triggering a massacre at the hands of the repulsed British . . .”