This month, we have new fiction from Mimi Mondal (“Malotibala Printing Press)” and Nibedita Sen (“Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island”). We also have reprints by Micah Dean Hick (“The Deer Boy”) and Philip Fracassi (“Fail-Safe”). Writer, podcaster, and all-around geek Aaron Duran brings us the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word.” Of course we have author spotlights with our authors, and we also have a feature interview with Gabino Iglesias. Plus, our e-book readers will get a special e-book exclusive excerpt from Mary SanGiovanni’s new novel, Into the Asylum.
In This Issue: May 2019 (Issue 80)
Be sure to check out the editorial for a rundown of this month’s chilling content. You’ll also get all our news and updates.
I cannot understand why, but the young men of this generation have developed a new sport—to go and spend a night in a haunted house. Every three months or four, I receive a group of guests. It goes the same way each time. They arrive after sundown, bringing hurricane lamps, candles, sleeping mats, snacks and bottles of water lovingly packed from home. They come in groups of four or five, almost always the atheist, sceptical students of the Presidency College who remind me of my own youth. They sweep aside dirt and rabble from the floor, unfurl their mats, light a hurricane lamp at the centre of their circle, and settle down to tell ghost stories.
I never had a place. A girl, and the oldest of five. Two brothers and two sisters with howling mouths. Mother sleepwalking from home to work and back. Father was nothing but a flat hand and restless, punishing eyes. They were all noise and need, all shit-kick the dog and eat the last oily handful of lunchmeat from the fridge. All bony-knuckled punch through wood paneling and stinging slap on my cheek.
Nearly every culture has the lone woman in white. For some, she is a harbinger of death to come. For others, she is a bringer of death herself. And in other cultures, she is a warning to those who stray from societies’ morals. Cursed to exist forever with her shame. To the people of Mexico and the American Southwest, La Llorona—the Wailing Woman—is all these things. Yet she is often portrayed in modern media as a one-note boogeyman (or woman, in this case). Growing up in a Mexican household, I only knew La Llorona as a threat. A way to scare me home before dark: “Hurry home, mijo. You don’t want La Llorona to take you away.”
“There are few tales as tragic as that of the denizens of Ratnabar Island. When a British expedition made landfall on its shores in 1891, they did so armed to the teeth, braced for the same hostile reception other indigenous peoples of the Andamans had given them. What they found, instead, was a primitive hunter-gatherer community composed almost entirely of women and children. [ . . . ] The savage cultural clash that followed would transmute the natives’ offer of a welcoming meal into direst offense, triggering a massacre at the hands of the repulsed British . . .”
The door was thick. The room, well-made. I knew. I’d seen. Every step.I never heard Mother screaming in the night. I knew she was, it was obvious. I’d seen her with the cameras. Father had made me watch when I was young. Father had worried I didn’t fully understand. Fully believe. But I did. My favorite days were when it was over and Mother was allowed to return. Mine and hers both, I imagine. She was never happier than after. She would hold me and squeeze me tight, and I’d laugh and she’d pepper my cheek, neck, and forehead with kisses.
Gabino Iglesias is an Austin-based writer who seemed to pop up on a lot of readers’ radar over the last year. His “mosaic novel” Coyote Songs, which chronicles the lives of immigrants, families, and artists living and moving along the border, has earned him rave reviews, a Bram Stoker Award nomination for Fiction Collection, and a reputation as a breakout Latinx horror author. Coyote Songs is Iglesias’ fourth novel (following the bizarro book Gutmouth, the underwater horror novel Hungry Darkness, and the acclaimed Zero Saints, which is the first work to explore what he calls “barrio noir”).