We have original short fiction from James L. Sutter (“And All Their Silent Roars”) and Juan Martinez (“Esther (1855)”). Our Horror Lab originals include a flash story (“In the Water”) from Rowan Wren and a poem (“Field Notes From the Anthropocene”) from Priya Chand. We also have the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” plus author spotlights with our authors, and a feature interview with author and film producer Taylor Grant.
In This Issue: May 2022 (Issue 116)
Some stories are impossible to write when you’re too close to the events that inspire them. Your feelings can be so huge that they overpower fascinating situations or wonderful settings. There are places and events in my life I’ve tried to write about that simply refuse to be transformed into words. Despite my impatient nature, I’m learning to wait for time to rub the rough edges down so I can get a better grip on the material.
“But why?” Charlotte whined. In the front seat, our mother consulted the map. “I’m not going to keep answering that.” Anyone who’d come within shouting distance of our old house the week before could have done it for her, given how often it had been repeated. Mom’s office was moving her to Binghamton, and Dad had found a new firm there, so that was that.
As a fan of true crime, I’ve thought a lot about how death is consumed, the dead often reduced to props in their own story. I wrote “In the Water” to explore that same loss from the perspective of the victim, returning some autonomy while maintaining the truth of death’s passive nature.
Much like The Last Unicorn in her woods, I one day set off to find my own kind. And by “kind,” I mean a community of Romanian Horror writers; something I thought I’d surely find within minutes. After all, what other country could be a better petri dish for all sorts of dark fiction? It’s hard to imagine a place more represented in Horror than Romania, except maybe suburban Maine.
The Saints saw nothing but rock and scrub, the one lone Joshua tree dead, its arms defeated. They traveled by wagon, the four still alive, their clothes stiff with their own stink and with the smell of dirt. The dead they buried or thought they buried along the way. The animals gone, all but one, and that one fading. They tied casks to the wagon, dragged the wagon themselves, the wagon lighter now because mostly empty.
The imagery is from time spent in the woods, including in an area here with 14,000-year-old glacial soil deposits—how special is that, people clean up your garbage. Back then it would’ve been predominantly oak trees, but we now see a lot more maple, as well as other introduced species. The fireflies . . . the species here overwinter in the soil.
Taylor Grant has developed and written children’s series, including the animated Beetlejuice; he worked alongside the legendary Stan Lee at Stan Lee Media; he’s written short films (The Vanished and Sticks and Stones) that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival; and his work as a writer of short horror fiction has garnered him two Bram Stoker Award nominations.