Horror & Dark Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Fiction

Fiction

My Saints Are Down

It was just a place I had heard of, a seaside honey pot, a trap snaring tourists and locals alike in a joyless phantasmagoria of picture-postcard tableaux, narcotic stupors, terpsichorean excesses and paper-thin multiculturalism. Goa did not, at any point, seem like a place I wanted to visit; besides, I preferred the mountains, or even hills, to the seaside. What I’d never thought about was its hybrid heritage, the many strands that entwined to make up the fabric of this strange, sunny province.

Fiction

The Summer Mask

I met you in the summer when the butterflies began to dance. You were missing your nose, your right eye, and the top of your lips. Some of your teeth. It made conversation a sort of whistle. The war had taken half of your face. It had burned your skull into spotted pink and black, like the underbelly of some amphibious creature. Before the war you were classically beautiful, with classic emerald eyes and a classic strong jaw and classic full lips, but none of these descriptions do you justice. I want to say you were perfect, but it was the imperfections that made you so.

Fiction

Mysterium Tremendum

May first came, and it was still snowing. Marjorie Olenthiste was sick of it, of the storms that kept blanketing Arkham in identical, endless, silent white drifts; of needing to change her shoes after trudging through the resulting slush to the university library every morning; of woolen coats and hats and woolen scarves and gloves and woolen skirts and woolen underwear and wool in general. That afternoon, when the flowing white clouds again clotted into dreary leaden masses, and the first flurries began swirling down, she found herself musing on whether it was ever going to stop snowing.

Fiction

The Zodiac Walks on the Moon

This is the murderer of the two teenagers last Christmass on Lake Herman Road and the girl a few weeks ago in Vallejo. I phoned a lady dispatcher at the Vallejo Police Department, but she didn’t take me seriously. So as not to risk that now, I shall reveal the following details not available to the public:
1. The brand name of the ammunition for the Christmass killing was Super X. I fired ten shots, leaving the boy on his back with his feet to the car and the girl on her right side and her feet to the west.

Fiction

Suffer Little Children

Everything she taught she’d learned from the books in her father’s study—and even then, only from the bottom shelves—she couldn’t have reached the top shelves without the ladder, and the ladder’s wooden rungs were lined with cracks that looked like spider webs. So, no geography, then (but her pupils would be English, so how much did they need to know about foreign lands?). Plenty of history—she liked the way the past could be packaged into neat little romances; they were like fairy tales but the difference was, these fairy tales were true.

Fiction

We Are Turning on a Spindle

After years of searching, he found the castle on a remote forgotten world in an abandoned corner of the unknown universe. Castles littered the cosmos like dead stars, relics of the ancients. Each one of these monuments to Ozymandias divulged the secrets of its womb with labyrinthine corridors or arresting garrets, grown mausolean with the passing of ages. A bloated sun swelled over a third of the enflamed sky, casting vegetation and ruins alike in ominous red.

Fiction

Click

He had been given a notebook to write in, and the lawyer had loaned him a brushed-steel mechanical pencil with golden accents that he claimed were real gold. “I am loaning you this,” his lawyer told him when he handed it over, “so you will know how important and serious the matter is, and so you will do your best to remember everything you possibly can and write it all down as it actually happened.” The lawyer leaned down close and looked at him without blinking, his eyes steady. He doesn’t blink as much as normal people do.

Fiction

Don’t Turn On The Lights

Stories are mongrels. It don’t matter whether they were lightning-cut into stone or whispered over the crackle of a dying flame; no story in the world has pedigree. They’ve all been told and retold so many times that not God himself could tell you which one came first. Yes, every story in creation. Including this one. Especially this one. You might have heard it before. There was a girl once. Her name was Sally. It could have been any other name, really. But let’s go with Sally. It’s solid. Round-hipped and stout, the kind of Midwestern name that can walk for hours and don’t mind it much when the sun burns its skin red.

Fiction

Art Is the Devil

It was Charlie Sheen night at the Hyaena Art Gallery. One actor’s implosion was every other man’s meat. And Kristy had to admit she wished she’d been in on it, despite her automatic sell-out reservations. This was one hilarious, legitimately badass show. In retrospect, she was kicking herself for not having even tried. Art was supposed to be provocative and fun. Otherwise, what was the fucking point? Excite the eye, and you excite the soul. Everything else was pretense.

Fiction

No One Prays to the Goddess

He took a wrong turn on P.M. Road and found himself face to face with it. “Devi,” he said, touching his forehead in the Hindu genuflectory gesture similar to crossing oneself. And took a step back. Then another. It was a small temple. A shrine, really. Perhaps seven feet high and five feet broad. Built, like most temples in India, at the base of a tree. Two tiny marble arches framed the front portal. An elaborately carved bunting ran around the top of the roughly squareish structure.