Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Fiction

Fiction

Spider Season, Fire Season

The house is haunted, of course. That’s why the rent is so cheap. It doesn’t matter that it’s only April, that ghosts dream quietly when the world is in full bloom. Nearly any haunting will be small: flickering lights, a mysterious lullaby, an intrusive thought chasing the living from room to room. Fatalities are incredibly rare, though most people, even the disbelievers, fail to find that reassuring. December is not most people, not when it comes to the dead, but she promised herself twenty years ago: when I’m grown up, when I can choose, I’ll never live with a ghost again.

Fiction

That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love

Karen thought of them as her daughters, and tried to love them with all her heart. Because, really, wasn’t that the point? They came to her, all frilly dresses, and fine hair, and plastic limbs, and eyes so large and blue and innocent. And she would name them, and tell them she was their mother now; she took them to her bed, and would give them tea parties, and spank them when they were naughty; she promised she would never leave them, or, at least, not until the end.

Fiction

Dégustation

You are a spore, barely more than a twinkle in your many parents’ breeding-breathing air. They are your family, among other things, living as a colony in the dim light beneath an abandoned office building. They fill the already-damp air with the encouraging words of hopes and aspirations for you and your siblings. And though you are nothing more than a speck in the air, the sentiment is warm, just as the earthy mulch you settle into that embraces you like a blanket.

Fiction

Girls Without Their Faces On

Delia’s father had watched her drowning when she was a little girl. The accident happened in a neighbor’s pool. Delia lay submerged near the bottom, her lungs filling with chlorinated water. She could see Dad’s distorted form bent forward, shirtsleeves rolled to the elbow, cigarette dangling from his lips, blandly inquisitive. Mom scooped Delia out and smacked her between the shoulder blades while she coughed and coughed. Delia didn’t think about it often. Not often.

Fiction

We, the Folk

The maypole dancers are restricted by what’s left of the ribbons. I watch them squeeze past each other with shining faces flushed pink from the heat. Too pink to be skin. More like meat. To my right, John’s wickerwork bath chair crunches as he shifts. “Raymond tells me you’re writing again,” he says. I swallow a scowl and nod. Raymond—Ray—John’s doctor. That man can’t smell gas without striking a match.

Fiction

Call Out

Opening the field gate, Malcolm sensed something born wrong sheltered in the old cattle shed. The sickly sweet smell of decay spread across the hillside. ’Round his feet, half-blind, featherless jackdaws cawed. Malcolm hesitated, not wanting to cross the grass, to make those final steps on this late-night call out. Bill Hoden had already started over the field. He lifted up his left hand and beckoned Malcolm on, holding a damp cigarette between two remaining fingers.

Fiction

Decorating with Luke

Hello. Thanks for coming. I know I was a bit mysterious on the phone. This is my house. I live here because a house should be an expression of the individual, and nothing in my life has defined me as an individual more than my hatred for Luke. Yes, the same Luke. You were married to Luke for a while, weren’t you? Yes, I know you endured a couple of years of that. I know how he sucked you in and made you his, and then, once he had you under his roof, revealed for the first time who he really was.

Fiction

The Skinned

July 18th—City Animal Control workers are yet again on the lookout for a pack of feral dogs blamed for the mauling death of fourteen-year-old Tawan Charles of Graves St., Roxbury. The incident occurred at 11:30 p.m. on the quiet, dead end street. There were no witnesses to the attack. Residents say they heard nothing unusual last night. Even though a thirty-eight recovered from the body and spent casings found in the area raise questions for investigators that the attack might be gang-related.

Fiction

The Blue Room

When Amada first sees the hotel, she feels her luck has changed at last. One moment she is trudging beneath the palm trees and café umbrellas of Miami’s Ocean Drive and the next it is upon her: an imposing three-story building in the old art deco style, its white façade gleaming in the late-afternoon sun. Amada stops in the middle of the busy sidewalk, shifting from one sore foot to the other, and stares up at the hotel.

Fiction

And the Carnival Leaves Town

The first piece of evidence appears on Walter Eckert’s desk in a locked office to which he has the only key. It is wrapped in brown paper, neatly labeled with his name, no return address. He unwraps it with wary hands. Cheap plywood, as if from a construction site wall, pasted with a handbill-sized poster. It could be advertising any event around town—a rock band no one has ever heard of, an avant garde art exhibition no one will ever see—but it appears to advertise nothing at all.