We have original fiction from Benjamin Percy (“A Study in Shadows”) and Merc Fenn Wolfmoor (“Flashlight Man”), along with reprints by Nicole D. Sconiers (“Kim”) and Carmen Maria Machado (“There and Back Again”). 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: Mar. 2020 (Issue 90)
Be sure to check out the editorial for a run-down of this month’s chilling content, plus all our latest updates.
One of Dr. Harrow’s survey groups included a church known as The Dawn Triumphant. The congregation believes we are living in a time of punishing darkness. Half of them were told to sit in a bright room for an hour and speak to their gods. The other half were told to sit in a dark room and do the same. After a month, every single member of the latter group reported hearing a voice. They called out to Him and received His word in return.
She looked like she wandered away from a Mennonite farm, like she belonged to those women who gave bags of hand-me-downs to my mom. Her gingham dress hung to her ankles. It was a sly blue color, like a robin’s egg in which a baby vulture slept. No prayer covering weighed down her hair, which swirled around her face in jagged wisps. Unlike those well-meaning Mennonite ladies, she held no bag filled with castoffs for needy black kids.
For the longest time, I’d searched for a proper definition of horror. That whole, “defined by emotional response” never sat well for me, and felt lacking as a descriptor. Mostly because people think that emotion should be fear or fright, but at the same time the word horror doesn’t automatically mean fear, does it? Something can be horrible, and yet not scary. Add to the fact that some of the best horror digs in under the skin and does something else, something far more disturbing than simple fear.
The legend of Flashlight Man began in the upper Midwestern United States, grounded in rural areas. A variation on mirror summoning, it went like this: you lie on your back in bed, your face turned toward the nearest wall, then shut your eyes and whisper, “Flashlight Man, Flashlight Man, comes with a click, see me if you can.” Repeat three times. Then you fall asleep. The tricky part in verifying who encounters Flashlight Man is that it happens during dream cycles, so you’re on your honor to accurately report how long you last.
My mother used to love the corpse reviver. She called it the perfect cocktail. “The thing that sends you away, brings you back,” she’d say as she laid out the ingredients on the dining room table before she went out for the evening. “There is only one door,” she clarified once, when I looked at her in confusion. “You can go out and you can come in, but you always have to pass through the same door to get there.”
This month, Terence Taylor reviews two books that wrestle with the past: The Sun Down Motel, by Simone St. James, and Remembered, by Yvonne Battle-Felton.