We have original fiction from Adam-Troy Castro (“Today’s Question of the Day in Waverly, Ohio”) and ’Pemi Aguda (“Things Boys Do”), along with reprints by Eden Royce (“Sweetgrass Blood”) and Orrin Grey (“No Exit”). 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 Nicole Cushing.
In This Issue: Feb. 2020 (Issue 89)
Be sure to read the editorial for a run-down of this month’s spine-tingling content. Plus that’s where we share all our news and updates, which you wouldn’t want to miss!
For today’s question, we visited this small town of about 1700 people. As per our practice of the last six decades, they perceived us as a television news crew, and were compelled to speak truthfully, without artifice, self-consciousness, or concern for the regard of their friends and family. All the interviews took place at the same instant, and all were immediately wiped from memory an instant later, returning the participants to their daily routines.
I blotted the blood from my braids with a hotel towel, making sure to keep the plaits in their intricate swirling pattern. The blood was viscous and sticky and it clung to my strands like a gruesome pomade. I worked by candle light, making sure to clean my hands and nails of red before sitting down to weave. It would not do to get smudges on the baskets. The crisp sweetgrass softened and gave under the pressure of my hand, releasing the scent of the sea at midnight.
I’ve been jobless for two and a half months now, which has caused a spike in mostly-forgotten anxieties. I hate being broke, hate watching my savings dwindle, and hate knowing I’m one bad fall or car accident away from poverty. So like most anxious, broke people, I comfort myself by bingeing crap television. Luckily, Netflix’s algorithms got something right for once, and presented me with Haunted. Haunted is a 2018 Netflix original series, featuring non-actors telling true (or truth-y) stories about being haunted.
The first man stands at the bedside of his sweating wife. He is watching their baby emerge from inside her. What he does not know is that he is watching their son destroy her insides, shredding, making sure there will be no others to follow. This man’s wife is screaming and screaming and the sound gives the man a headache, an electric thing like lightning, striking the middle of his forehead. He reaches to hold her hand, to remind her of his presence.
The landscape of western Kansas lends itself well to conspiracy theories and apocalyptic visions. The plains, vast and windswept, bending imperceptibly to the horizon. The small towns, unmoored from the highway, like ships cast adrift on a fathomless sea of grain, with silos and brick church steeples their only masts. I saw a lot of it as my parents drove me back and forth after the divorce—my mom moved to Kansas City, my dad to a little town north of Boulder.
Nicole Cushing is the Bram Stoker Award® winning author of Mr. Suicide and a two-time nominee for the Shirley Jackson Award. Rue Morgue recently included her in its list of thirteen Wicked Women to Watch, praising her as “an intense and uncompromising literary voice.” She has also garnered praise from the late Jack Ketchum, Thomas Ligotti, and Poppy Z. Brite. Her second novel, A Sick Gray Laugh, was recently released by Word Horde.