We have original fiction from Adam-Troy Castro (“The Ten Things She Said While Dying: An Annotation”) and Carrie Vaughn (“The Island of Beasts”), along with reprints by Gemma Files (“Nanny Grey”) and Stephen Graham Jones (“Universal Horror”). Over at “The H Word,” Nicole Sconiers takes a close look at common horror tropes about children. Plus, we have author spotlights with our authors, and a book review from Adam-Troy Castro.
Dec. 2018 (Issue 75)
Be sure to check out the editorial for a rundown of this month’s content—and to get all our exciting news and updates.
Her name was Robyn Howlett, and she was twenty-two years old. Robyn was an alien creature to me, product of conditions wholly at odds with those that produced my kind. She spoke in a language I had never heard. Nevertheless, I understood everything she said. It is the nature of my kind to understand everything that is spoken in our presence, a necessary adaptation given that we are often summoned by creatures as alien to us as we are to them, creatures who often cannot expand their minds enough to even perceive us.
Oh low estate, my love my love, the song’s hook went, or seemed to, through the wall of the Ladies’. Bill Koslaw felt it more than heard it, buzzing in his back teeth through the sweaty skin of his jaws as he pushed into this toff tart—Sessilie, he thought her name was, and the rest began with a K—from behind with her bent over the lav itself, hands wide-braced, each thrust all but mashing that great midnight knot of hair against the cubicle’s tiling. And he could see her lips moving, too, half-quirked in that smile he’d literally never seen her lose thus far.
This is a story about two types of children: a Creepy Child and a Fast Girl. One is a trope found in horror. The other, a trope rooted in black culture. I have embodied both. The Creepy Child knows she’s not like other kids. Her otherness both strengthens and guides her, like a dusty amulet in an attic. Awaiting her. I lived up to the Creepy Child label as best I could since I lacked two crucial criteria: whiteness and innocence. No one informed me of that as I sat down to write my first obituary at age nine.
She was a bundle on the bottom of the skiff, tossed in with her skirt and petticoat tangled around her legs, hands bound behind her with a thin chain that also wrapped around her neck. She didn’t struggle; the silver in the chain burned her skin. The more she moved the more she burned, so she lay still because the only way to stop this would be to make them kill her. They wanted to kill her. So why didn’t they? Why go through the trouble of rowing this wave-rocked skiff out to this hideous island just to throw her to her likely death?
The game was the same as every year. Rachel could have called it in July, if she’d wanted. For every age-inappropriate costume that knocked on the door of their no-kids party—six-year-old sexy nurses, second-grade saloon girls—Bill had to do a shot. For every comic book or television character, Nalene had to do a shot. Usually David got drunk off ethnic-insults-on-parade—kids in headdresses, kids-as-pimps—but three months ago his girlfriend “Carrie” had given birth to a bouncing baby boy, so he wasn’t even at the party this year.
This month, reviewer Adam-Troy Castro takes a good look at the way weirdness works in M.R. Carey’s new novel Someone Like Me.