We have original short fiction from Robert Levy (“The Closet Game”) and Laura Blackwell (“What the Dead Birds Taught Me”). Our Horror Lab originals include a piece of creative nonfiction (“Bunnies”) from Dante Luiz and a poem (“Bitch Moon”) from Sarah Grey. 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.
In This Issue: Jul. 2022 (Issue 118)
Some days I look at the news and I think “Holy crap, why do I write and publish horror when the headlines are worse than anything we writers put on a page?” I could list today’s tragedies, but I’m sure you will think of newer, fresher ones. Depending on the shape or color of your body, depending on where you live, your vision of horror will look different from mine—but we will both think of nasty, horrible things that are happening all the time.
You know the game, don’t you? All you need is a closet, and a book of matches—and a willing participant. Not much to it, considering. Jesse first heard about it at twelve from his older sister, after she came home drunk from a party and was trying hard to scare him. Sleepover shenanigans when you lacked a Ouija board, bullshit kid stuff, he knew that much. A game of pretend. Still, she managed to strike a nerve. You can open a door to another dimension, she whispered across the kitchen table.
I spent years thinking of writing this down, but I postponed it because I didn’t want to add another “creepy kid” story to the world—sometimes, kids are just sad and lonely and making them feel creepy for the sake of horror feels cheap. But this happened when I was also the creepy child to someone else’s story, maybe even to this creepy child herself, so maybe it’s worth telling, after all.
Hair. Ornament. Source of power. Source of beauty. Whether decoration or burden, hair is at the forefront of many cultures and has been a part of the body consciousness of women since the dawn of time. Some cultures consider it a most prized possession, one that should be donated to the gods in thanks for favor. Others consider it a defining characteristic, one that speaks of a person’s background, upbringing, and worth.
The first time I saw him, I was crouched in a ditch by the highway, lancet poised, holding a crumbly-paged book open to the words to reanimate a dead owl. Anne leaned against our dad’s old car on the shoulder, just a few feet past the impromptu memorial some of Mom and Dad’s students had put up. The flowers were wilting and the photos were fading, just like our parents’ ghosts in the ditch where they’d died. I walked all up and down it, grasses itching at my legs despite my jeans.
I spent much of my early life in a tiny community on California’s distant North Coast. Isolation breeds secrets; the peaceful dark of an old-growth redwood forest provides easy cover for violence, and speaking out carries devastating social consequences—especially for women and girls. I wondered: what if their whispers grew teeth?
This month Terence Taylor dives into the realm of horror comedy, reviewing If This Book Exists, You’re in the Wrong Universe by Jason Pargin and Suburban Hell by Maureen Kilmer. Will these books make you laugh or scream? Read the review to find out!