Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Fiction

Fiction

Cake Between the Teeth

I only know what you’ve told me. Around 11 p.m. while I’m checking yogurt expiration dates for tomorrow’s continental breakfast, you are pulling over to a man crumpled on the side of the highway. It’s a dangerous place to be, trapped between concrete and a road that’s iced over several times since the New Year. At any moment, a car could whip out of the tunnel, just as you did on your Yamaha, and smear him like butter along the dividing wall. I don’t know why you stop.

Fiction

Empty Houses

The new house had a lot of mirrors in it. Not, like, a freakish number—just more mirrors than I’d ever had before. They were in the usual places: bathrooms, closet doors, a nice-full length in the foyer so you could check your coat and shoes. But they were on the back of every door: bathroom doors, bedroom doors, even the odd little door that topped the staircase onto the second floor. There were additional mirrors in each bedroom—big ones!

Fiction

The Cabbit

“It’s a cabbit.” He wiggles his fingers through the grille of the hard plastic kennel. He is John or Tim, or maybe Jim: some name that means random white guy at a Midwestern college. It’s not that I don’t care. I just can’t quite remember. Through one of the air holes, I glimpse something that swirls, dark and shining, like a galaxy. It speaks of hidden places—but when Jim pulls the furry body into the light, all I can think is soft and long. Soft, long ears. A curling cat’s tail.

Fiction

Taking Control of Your Life in Five Easy Steps

“Taking Control of Your Life in Five Easy Steps” is inspired by and dedicated to all the people who have tried to sell me their quick and easy surefire fixes for my mental illness—PHL

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

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

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.