We have original short fiction from Ray Nayler (“The Summer Castle”) and Jonathan L. Howard (“In the Walls and Beneath the Fridge”). Our Horror Lab originals include a flash story (“Fenworth City Municipal Watersheds Field Survey”) from A.L. Goldfuss and a poem (“Nineveh”) from Belicia Rhea. 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. Our ebook readers get an excerpt from Sarah Blake’s new novel, Clean Air.
Feb. 2022 (Issue 113)
Welcome to Nightmare’s 113th issue! I can’t believe I’ve been writing these editorials for an entire year now. Looking back over the past twelve issues, I’m so proud of our staff and our amazing writers. What a terrific bunch! I can’t wait to see what we’ll put together for you in our next orbit around the sun.
I have spent my life trying to understand what the thing called memory is. I know some of what it is not. It is not the opposite of forgetting. And it is not a record of what happened. How many summers did we spend at the castle? Five? Seven? We did not go there every summer, though now it seems impossible childhood summers could have existed without the castle.
During the lonely summer of 2020, I went on a long bike ride and saw a pair of egrets in a marsh; at the time, it was a beautiful and comforting sight. That evening, I watched trail cam footage of California wildfires blazing through a forest. This story knitted itself together quickly.
In 1996 Wes Craven saved horror. That’s the abiding narrative anyway: that Scream revived a genre otherwise coding on the table. It’s hard to disagree, and I’m no depreciator of Craven’s vision. Scream was, indeed, an adrenaline shot for a horror corpus bloated by excess and exhausted by endless pacing in the same, diminishing circles.1
It was the unexpectedness of the scream that pulled him to his feet from a sofa slouch before the television, that sent him in a run the short way to the kitchen. Jess’s soft padding steps the same path a few seconds before, unconcerned, slippered, still sounded in his memory. Get me a packet of crisps whilst you’re in there, love, will you? The snap of the light switch. The clicking of the old school fluorescent tube coming to life.
I wrote this poem in response to a distant loss, but as with all complex loss, the aftershocks linger. I wanted to explore the imagery and symbols of memory, how reminders live inside fleeting moments, small objects, or arrive with a snarl as bigger beasts—and even after years, there are these reverberations, quiet hauntings, a sort of ebb and flow of recollection.
This month, Terence Taylor reviews The Night Lady by Debra Castaneda and The Fervor by Alma Katsu. As he says: “The two books I’m reviewing in this issue share the kind of fresh perspectives new voices are able to bring to the fiction of fear, along with a use of well- and lesser-known historic events to explore grim aspects of human nature, reflected in deadly supernatural forces.” Don’t miss it!