Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Apr. 2022 (Issue 115)

We have original short fiction from Shannon Scott (“Synchronous Online”) and Shaoni C. White (“Where the Heather Grows”). Our Horror Lab originals include a creative nonfiction piece (“Homeless Ghosts”) from Victor T. Cypert and a flash piece (“√i”) from Martin Cahill.  We also have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with our authors, and a book review from Terence Taylor.

In This Issue: Apr. 2022 (Issue 115)

Editorial

Editorial: April 2022

A few days ago I was writing something about the 1980s, and a bit of mental math made me stop in my tracks. Somehow, despite all the birthdays I’ve celebrated over the years, I hadn’t put it together that the ’80s are now forty years ago. Yes, Fast Times at Ridemont High is officially middle aged, as is The Thing, Poltergeist, Beastmaster, and The Dark Crystal.

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.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Homeless Ghosts

Growing up in Alabama, our teachers presented a version of the state’s history that resembled Disney’s The Song of the South. It was easy enough to realize that we were being lied to, but without the facts of history we were left to fill in the gaps. We colored in the local haunted house with our own fables and the fables passed down from older siblings. In so doing, we reproduced in symbol if not in word the truths of hoped-for horrors, poisonous wealth, and unimaginable agony.

Nonfiction

The H Word: Pacing in Horror

Somewhere along the way we have lost our patience for the slow, unfurling depth of horror. And I think that’s a problem. I’m a member of several film groups on social media, and I constantly see complaints about the slow pace of The Green Knight, or the arthouse vibe and weirdness of Under the Skin, or frustration and boredom at the pie-eating scene in A Ghost Story. No, my friend, no. I disagree. We need to let these stories unfold, we need to sit in the space of that telling.

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.

Author Spotlight

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.

Nonfiction

Book Reviews: April 2022

This month Terence Taylor reads two works centered on identity: Ally Wilkes’ new polar horror novel, All the White Spaces, and Aaron Durán’s new comic book, Season of the Bruja.