We have original short fiction from Endria Isa Richardson (“Every Atom Belonging to Me as Good Belongs to You”) and Adam-Troy Castro (“The Arm Ouroboros”). Our Horror Lab originals include a flash story (“Skitterdead”) from Mel Kassel and a poem (“Around the Corners”) from Jarod K. Anderson. We also have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with our authors, and a feature interview with author Cina Pelayo.
In This Issue: Aug. 2022 (Issue 119)
One of my favorite video games is Mad Max. While the action in the game is not based on the films, the universe is, and George Miller was consulted on some of the finer points of the worldbuilding. It’s a game about exploring and surviving in a post-apocalyptic desert dotted with the wreckage of shipyards and sunken ships. The dust plume trailing your muscle car was, in fact, once the silt at the bottom of the ocean. Like most entries in the Mad Max franchise, there’s some pointed social criticism going on.
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.
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.
I’ve always enjoyed watching classic horror movies with my mom. Along with Vincent Price flicks and creature features, she introduced me to Godzilla and other kaiju movies. Because of this shared interest, many years ago, we stumbled upon a 1963 Japanese horror movie directed by Ishirô Honda: Matango (known in the United States as Attack of the Mushroom People). In this truly weird film, a small group of wealthy vacationers seek shelter on a mysterious island after their yacht is damaged in a storm. The island offers little for the bickering group to eat, other than huge mushrooms.
I take the hammer in my right hand and raise it up over my head to bring down, screaming, against the left hand I have placed flat on the tabletop. My knuckles do not break. My skin does not tear. I do not scream in agony. Instead, my left hand flattens like soft rubber, the imprint of the hammer’s head clearly visible in what is supposed to be human flesh. The sight is worse than any pain could possibly be.
Struggling with lifelong mental health issues means I’ve heard a lot of suggestions from folks who seem to think I’ve overlooked any number of simple remedies. It often reminds me of the confidence on display when, while watching a horror movie, some viewers are just so certain that they would make smarter, quicker, braver decisions than the characters on screen. How calm and bold and logical they would be while surviving the deadly threats.
Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo is an International Latino Book Award winning and three-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated poet and author. She is the author of Loteria, Santa Muerte, The Missing, and Poems of My Night, all of which have been nominated for International Latino Book Awards. Poems of My Night was also nominated for an Elgin Award. Her recent collection of poetry, Into the Forest and All the Way Through explores true crime, that of the epidemic of missing and murdered women in the United States, and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and Elgin Award.