Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Fiction

Fiction

There and Back Again

My mother used to love the corpse reviver. She called it the perfect cocktail. “The thing that sends you away, brings you back,” she’d say as she laid out the ingredients on the dining room table before she went out for the evening. “There is only one door,” she clarified once, when I looked at her in confusion. “You can go out and you can come in, but you always have to pass through the same door to get there.”

Fiction

Flashlight Man

The legend of Flashlight Man began in the upper Midwestern United States, grounded in rural areas. A variation on mirror summoning, it went like this: you lie on your back in bed, your face turned toward the nearest wall, then shut your eyes and whisper, “Flashlight Man, Flashlight Man, comes with a click, see me if you can.” Repeat three times. Then you fall asleep. The tricky part in verifying who encounters Flashlight Man is that it happens during dream cycles, so you’re on your honor to accurately report how long you last.

Fiction

Kim

She looked like she wandered away from a Mennonite farm, like she belonged to those women who gave bags of hand-me-downs to my mom. Her gingham dress hung to her ankles. It was a sly blue color, like a robin’s egg in which a baby vulture slept. No prayer covering weighed down her hair, which swirled around her face in jagged wisps. Unlike those well-meaning Mennonite ladies, she held no bag filled with castoffs for needy black kids.

Fiction

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.

Fiction

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.

Fiction

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.

Fiction

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.

Fiction

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.

Fiction

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.

Fiction

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?