Horror & Dark Fantasy

Advertisement

Fiction

Fiction

Skitterdead

My short stories often grow from a fixation on a certain animal. I loved the idea of a “ghost” being a hyper-specific emotional state, something petty and small enough to possess a bug. At the same time, I wanted the centipede to show the tantruming ghost something beautiful, an experience that a human body or mind couldn’t offer on its own.

Fiction

Every Atom Belonging to Me as Good Belongs to You

We came down to Independence in the afternoon. The sky as we descended was white, gray, pink smeared on a dirty canvas. I had the sense—because that morning we had been very high, above 13,000 feet, and everything had been very still as we balanced on hard, flat, brown rocks—that we were walking through the sky, and that we might come down from the sky painted white, and gray, and pink, ourselves.

Fiction

What the Dead Birds Taught Me

The first time I saw him, I was crouched in a ditch by the highway, lancet poised, holding a crumbly-paged book open to the words to reanimate a dead owl. Anne leaned against our dad’s old car on the shoulder, just a few feet past the impromptu memorial some of Mom and Dad’s students had put up. The flowers were wilting and the photos were fading, just like our parents’ ghosts in the ditch where they’d died. I walked all up and down it, grasses itching at my legs despite my jeans.

Fiction

The Closet Game

You know the game, don’t you? All you need is a closet, and a book of matches—and a willing participant. Not much to it, considering. Jesse first heard about it at twelve from his older sister, after she came home drunk from a party and was trying hard to scare him. Sleepover shenanigans when you lacked a Ouija board, bullshit kid stuff, he knew that much. A game of pretend. Still, she managed to strike a nerve. You can open a door to another dimension, she whispered across the kitchen table.

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.