Nightmare Magazine



Short Stories


A Study in Shadows

One of Dr. Harrow’s survey groups included a church known as The Dawn Triumphant. The congregation believes we are living in a time of punishing darkness. Half of them were told to sit in a bright room for an hour and speak to their gods. The other half were told to sit in a dark room and do the same. After a month, every single member of the latter group reported hearing a voice. They called out to Him and received His word in return.


No Exit

The landscape of western Kansas lends itself well to conspiracy theories and apocalyptic visions. The plains, vast and windswept, bending imperceptibly to the horizon. The small towns, unmoored from the highway, like ships cast adrift on a fathomless sea of grain, with silos and brick church steeples their only masts. I saw a lot of it as my parents drove me back and forth after the divorce—my mom moved to Kansas City, my dad to a little town north of Boulder.


Things Boys Do

The first man stands at the bedside of his sweating wife. He is watching their baby emerge from inside her. What he does not know is that he is watching their son destroy her insides, shredding, making sure there will be no others to follow. This man’s wife is screaming and screaming and the sound gives the man a headache, an electric thing like lightning, striking the middle of his forehead. He reaches to hold her hand, to remind her of his presence.


Sweetgrass Blood

I blotted the blood from my braids with a hotel towel, making sure to keep the plaits in their intricate swirling pattern. The blood was viscous and sticky and it clung to my strands like a gruesome pomade. I worked by candle light, making sure to clean my hands and nails of red before sitting down to weave. It would not do to get smudges on the baskets. The crisp sweetgrass softened and gave under the pressure of my hand, releasing the scent of the sea at midnight.


Today’s Question of the Day in Waverly, Ohio

For today’s question, we visited this small town of about 1700 people. As per our practice of the last six decades, they perceived us as a television news crew, and were compelled to speak truthfully, without artifice, self-consciousness, or concern for the regard of their friends and family. All the interviews took place at the same instant, and all were immediately wiped from memory an instant later, returning the participants to their daily routines.


Alligator Point

When the Grand Prix stopped kicking up rooster tails of red dust at every junction Helen announced they had left Georgia behind and were officially on their first vacation. Following beat-up signs and billboards, the rest of the drive would take them further south to the Gulf Coast of Florida. In the back seat, Helen’s twin daughters Julie and Debbie had been arguing for the last forty miles. The girls were out of Planter’s Peanuts and Pepsi-Cola, bored with playing “I Spy,” and sick of variations on Barbie and Francie ensembles.


Elo Havel

It is good of you to write, and I thank you for it: I am glad at last to hear from another of my kind—and, above all, to have another of my kind acknowledge me. I have indeed, since my return, heard many voices, seen many faces, but the individuals to whom they belong neither hear nor see me in return. I shake them, shout in their ears, but they do not respond. It is as if, for them, I do not exist. But why then, I wonder, would I exist for you? What is different about you? To put it bluntly, what is wrong with you?


The Floor of the Basement Is the Roof of Hell

The contractor’s name was Terry. He hadn’t been on Candy and Jason’s initial shortlist, but she’d seen his company truck the next block over, at the Martindales’, and copied the number down. Now here they were at dinner, which Terry insisted on paying for since he could business-expense it. Before getting into the particulars of their situation, he introduced himself and his business via a story from his childhood, about dropped nails on his father’s construction projects.


Familiar Face

Your camera thinks it spotted a familiar face. “Cameras don’t think,” Annie said, looking down at her phone. “Who taught this thing to identify specific faces? Who thought that was a good idea?” “Ok, neuromantic,” Jonah scoffed at her, looking over. “Not everything is a part of the panopticon. Calm your tits.” “It’s just weird that it thinks,” Annie continued, loading more Diet Cokes into the communal fridge. “And why does that make me a new romantic?”


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.