We’re kicking off the new year with a new dark fantasy story from Natalia Theodoridou (“What it Sounds Like When You Fall”)—and trust me, you’ve never seen angels like these before. Vajra Chandrasekera brings us our second original, “On the Origin of Specie,” a story that will make you reconsider how you feel about the spare change in your wallet. Our reprints this month are by Paul Tremblay (“Headstone in Your Pocket”) and Laura Blackwell (“Bitter Perfume”). In the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” Cadwell Turnbull writes about the real monsters in our world. Plus, we have author spotlights with our authors, and a feature interview with cartoonist and writer Emil Ferris.
In This Issue: Jan. 2019 (Issue 76)
Be sure to check out the editorial for a run-down of this month’s content and to get all of our news and updates.
It’s Uncle Pete’s funeral today, so he puts on his good brown suit with the brass buttons, and we all set out for the cemetery before the sun is up, because we don’t want to get too hot in our good clothes on our way there. Uncle Pete and Pa walk in front, me and Ma follow. When we get there, Uncle Pete’s grave is waiting, shallow and open, and the plaque has already been engraved with his name. Under it, there’s his date of birth and today’s date, even though we don’t know how long it’ll take him to really die.
The sun is high but it feels low, its heat close and heavy enough to push heads down and slump shoulders. Border Patrol Agent Joe Marquez runs his hand along the tractor-trailer, and chips of white paint break off and crumble to dust under his fingertips, like dried leaves from a dead houseplant. There are rustling noises inside the truck, trapped spirits, humanity in a tin can. He wonders if they’ll emerge in any better shape than the trailer’s paint job.
I imagine the filing cabinets of Sunnydale’s police department filled with missing persons cases, printouts of missing people tacked to every bulletin board. I imagine Sunnydale’s police are skilled at fielding calls and unexpected visits by alarmed citizens with strange accounts of monsters eating or murdering their children. Young people die a lot in Sunnydale. Life goes on. These things happen.
In the tower where the tax collectors go, I am taken blindfolded up steps and through passages and through interminable pauses in open spaces, myself stumbling and held upright through a firm grip on my upper arm. In those pauses, and sometimes in passing while we move, the master of that grip speaks to others, their fellow bailiffs. The content of these exchanges is indistinct to me, a mumbling burr that I can only distinguish from other noises as the recognizably unnatural rhythm of human speech. My other senses have muffled themselves in solidarity with my vision.
I kissed my great-grandmother on the top of her dusty black wig and asked what she would like for her birthday. I had already sewn her a jewelry roll and mixed her a new skin-softening oil—the best I could afford to do since I had lost my job—but you don’t turn a hundred and twenty-five every day. Abuelita turned her milky eyes to me and lifted a trembling, withered hand from her rosary to beckon me closer. “Quiero morir,” she whispered in my ear. I want to die.
Emil Ferris is a Chicago-based artist in her fifties who began working on the book after barely surviving a bout of West Nile Virus in 2002. Doctors told her that she was likely to be paralyzed for life, but, after her daughter taped a pen into her hand and got her drawing again, she recovered. After completing the graphic novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Emil Ferris received forty-eight rejections until Fantagraphics picked it up, eventually deciding to split the massive tome into two parts (although Book Two was originally slated for release in late 2017, Ferris decided to continue work on it, and it’s now set for a 2019 publication).