Horror & Dark Fantasy

PRIMITIVES

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Fiction

Fiction

Dr. Wasp and Hornet Holmes

Dr. Wasp and Hornet Holmes were gathering nectar one day when Holmes made a startling observation. “The Queen has been behaving rather oddly in recent days,” she said. Dr. Wasp pulled her proboscis from the flower and regarded Holmes with surprise. “However do you mean?” she said. “Do you ever feel that not all is as it seems?” Holmes said. “That what we see is illusory, that dark forces move unseen behind the bright façade of the world?”

Fiction

There Are No Monsters on Rancho Buenavista

In Folktales of Mexico, compiled by Américo Paredes (one of the founding fathers of Chicano studies in the U.S.), I read a story about a man who discovered that his wife was a monster. Any night the man was away, the wife stripped away her skin and flew through the air as a skeleton, terrorizing the people of the town and stealing infants to eat.

Fiction

The Last of the Juggalos

My grandfather was a clown prophet. I mean he was a clown. A literal clown. He wore clown makeup. And he foretold the end. Accurately. John, the Puranas, Snorri Sturluson, Nostradamus, any of those apocalypse writers—they didn’t know shit. The guy who really knew the magic, the guy who really knew about how the end of the world would come, was my grandfather.

Fiction

Esther (1855)

The Saints saw nothing but rock and scrub, the one lone Joshua tree dead, its arms defeated. They traveled by wagon, the four still alive, their clothes stiff with their own stink and with the smell of dirt. The dead they buried or thought they buried along the way. The animals gone, all but one, and that one fading. They tied casks to the wagon, dragged the wagon themselves, the wagon lighter now because mostly empty.

Fiction

In the Water

As a fan of true crime, I’ve thought a lot about how death is consumed, the dead often reduced to props in their own story. I wrote “In the Water” to explore that same loss from the perspective of the victim, returning some autonomy while maintaining the truth of death’s passive nature.

Fiction

And All Their Silent Roars

“But why?” Charlotte whined. In the front seat, our mother consulted the map. “I’m not going to keep answering that.” Anyone who’d come within shouting distance of our old house the week before could have done it for her, given how often it had been repeated. Mom’s office was moving her to Binghamton, and Dad had found a new firm there, so that was that.

Fiction

√i

My inspiration for this story combined two separate things: the idea of how terrifying it would be to experience a tornado warning without knowing what you were running from (shout-out to writer Sarah Hollowell!), and a keen interest in the staccato and visceral prose of writer Brian Evenson. These combined to create the story at hand. Written in a single evening, I wanted to see if I could wield language like a hammer.

Fiction

Where the Heather Grows

Clara drinks from water bottles so she doesn’t have to hear the tap running. She puts all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and leaves the building until it’s done running, just so she doesn’t have to hear it. She does everything she can to avoid the sound. Showers, though—those are trickier. She can’t avoid washing herself forever. So she starts the tap, plugs the bathtub, and waits several rooms away until it’s full enough that she can shut off the tap.

Fiction

Synchronous Online

It could have been ketchup. Or sriracha sauce. V8 or cranberry juice or pinot noir. It could have been Karo syrup with food coloring as it had been in Carrie or Bosco Chocolate Syrup as in Psycho. It didn’t matter. My dissertation had been on suspension of disbelief in scripted violence, and I knew that as long as the audience agreed that the red scarf pulled from Juliet’s breast was her blood dripping from Romeo’s dagger, it didn’t matter that it was a scarf.

Fiction

The First Year

When you were inside me, I knew you were mine. Now, I’m not so sure. Cradled in my arms, you are an assemblage of parts I recognize: Noah’s cleft chin and narrow ears, my heart-shaped lips and upturned nose. But your eyes are something else. I angle you this way and that, your milk-drunk mouth smearing saliva across my hospital gown while I search your slumbering face for the pull of attachment, waiting for the surge of affection.