Horror & Dark Fantasy

THECONDUCTORS

Advertisement

Fiction

Fiction

Negative Space

You’re sitting on a couch in a home that’s not yours. On the floor in front of you are three young children—two boys and a girl—playing with toys. In the corner of the room is a sparsely-decorated Christmas tree. On the wall to the left of the tree hangs a flatscreen television displaying images of the kids’ dead father. He looks at you, smiles, winks. No one else notices.

Fiction

Step on a Crack

As sometimes happen, this essay started with a snippet, a small memory of walking back to my second or third or fourth grade classroom singing that old song about stepping on cracks. How some of us avoided them, already instilled with superstition, and how some, to tempt the gods or fate, did not. I had also been thinking about our collective American nightmare of school shootings, how even with all the awfulness of growing up in the ’80s, we never dreamed what we would face as adults.

Fiction

Paradise Retouched

To mark the first day of vacation, Jeff Caldwell, extremely jet lagged after a day of travel and two nights of little sleep, took a surfing lesson and broke his big toe by jumping off the board straight onto shallow reef. Rather than spend hours in a waiting room, he returned to their rental house, found an emergency medical kit, taped his big toe to the one next to it, and crammed his foot into a shoe as if it were a cast. He had hoped to be done with shoes for the week, but flip-flops were now out of the question.

Fiction

When the Snowshoe Hare Turns White

I grew up at the southern edge of Ontario’s “near north,” and as winters got warmer and shorter, we’d hear stories of people going through the ice. As a kid, I worried about losing family members that way. This story is a response to the loss of northern ecosystems to climate change and how that loss is reshaping families who live in and love the cold.

Fiction

The Family in the Adit

My reasons were selfish, but I hoped the dinner guest would succeed. She had made an effort to be presentable, even though that only amounted to plaiting her hair into a few coarse braids and shaking some of the filth from her clothes before she stepped out of the lightless passageway and into our home. But small actions carry great weight in the Mine. Husband didn’t agree. “You won’t survive this,” he said. “I can tell.” The dinner guest’s determined expression didn’t waver.

Fiction

Modern Promethea

I was thinking about the power of Frankenstein not to raise the dead and become like god, but to redress the unjust nature of death (femicide in particular) to make god irrelevant. I was thinking about how not all women bear children, and some of us make people in other ways. How we all make each other. How we’re all riding the lightning, just staying alive. And then there was a poem.

Fiction

It Accumulates

It is a frequent yet mild aggravation to return to one’s car in a public parking structure and find stuck beneath the windshield wiper or in the door handle a postcard peddling Chinese delivery or Jesus, which is then folded angrily and left in the pocket of the driver’s side door until you remember to clean it out—but it is a sight more unsettling to find, instead, a black postcard advertising in bold red letters: “Exorcisms.” In the greenish fluorescent light of the cement structure, surrounded by empty spots, you might pause over the ad, might even chuckle.

Fiction

That Which Crawls from Dark Soil

On a barren hiking trail this past summer, I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a young person just off the path, half-hiding, peering quizzically at me. The sun was blinding. I blinked and the person was no longer there. I followed the trail, and circling back to the same spot I saw, or imagined I saw, a blur of a face peeking from behind a tree. There, then gone. Did I see someone? Who? What were they doing? And why? I chalked it up to the heat. But the questions remained.

Fiction

A Cast of Liches

“For how long must we keep doing this?” the first lich asked the second. His dreadlocks were dry and had faded near to white, a smell not of fragrant oils, but of something long past due permeating the air around him. His eyes were tired and sucked back into his skull. “As long as it takes,” the second answered. Bent forth on his crooked staff, he observed the cauldron’s brew. “Keep churning.” A third lich stood by silently, as if deep in meditation. After a time, he too leaned his wicked bones over the pot and spit. “That should do,” he said.

Fiction

And Lucy Fell

This is actually the second time I wrote this—I threw away the first, unsatisfactory version years ago. But this is one of those ideas that doesn’t give up easily, and the final lines haunted me until I wrote it again.