We have original fiction from Cassandra Khaw (“Don’t Turn on the Lights”) and Joanna Parypinski (“We Are Turning on a Spindle”), along with reprints by Brian Evenson (“Click”) and Robert Shearman (“Suffer Little Children”). 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 Josh Malerman.
Oct. 2017 (Issue 61)
Be sure to check out the Editorial for a run-down of this month’s dark content and to get all our exciting news and updates.
Stories are mongrels. It don’t matter whether they were lightning-cut into stone or whispered over the crackle of a dying flame; no story in the world has pedigree. They’ve all been told and retold so many times that not God himself could tell you which one came first. Yes, every story in creation. Including this one. Especially this one. You might have heard it before. There was a girl once. Her name was Sally. It could have been any other name, really. But let’s go with Sally. It’s solid. Round-hipped and stout, the kind of Midwestern name that can walk for hours and don’t mind it much when the sun burns its skin red.
He had been given a notebook to write in, and the lawyer had loaned him a brushed-steel mechanical pencil with golden accents that he claimed were real gold. “I am loaning you this,” his lawyer told him when he handed it over, “so you will know how important and serious the matter is, and so you will do your best to remember everything you possibly can and write it all down as it actually happened.” The lawyer leaned down close and looked at him without blinking, his eyes steady. He doesn’t blink as much as normal people do.
I am seven and my fingers are streaked with dark earth. With my right hand, I am using a spoon to cut an earthworm into smaller and smaller bits and wondering what it would feel like to be taken apart. I am in our tiny backyard, behind the tinier rental house that could get away with not being called a house at all, and I am digging a hole with a spoon from our silverware drawer. It is one of four spoons, and my mother has given it to me. There are no toy spades, no toy buckets. We are poor, and so I dig my hole with a spoon and pluck worms from their hiding places.
After years of searching, he found the castle on a remote forgotten world in an abandoned corner of the unknown universe. Castles littered the cosmos like dead stars, relics of the ancients. Each one of these monuments to Ozymandias divulged the secrets of its womb with labyrinthine corridors or arresting garrets, grown mausolean with the passing of ages. A bloated sun swelled over a third of the enflamed sky, casting vegetation and ruins alike in ominous red.
Everything she taught she’d learned from the books in her father’s study—and even then, only from the bottom shelves—she couldn’t have reached the top shelves without the ladder, and the ladder’s wooden rungs were lined with cracks that looked like spider webs. So, no geography, then (but her pupils would be English, so how much did they need to know about foreign lands?). Plenty of history—she liked the way the past could be packaged into neat little romances; they were like fairy tales but the difference was, these fairy tales were true.
In 2014, a horror novel by a young writer named Josh Malerman was released by HarperCollins’ Ecco Press imprint to starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Malerman had never been published before, because (talk about dream day jobs!) he’d been touring for years as frontman for the band the High Strung, who scored when their song “The Luck You Got” was chosen as the theme song for the Showtime series Shameless. Since Bird Box, Josh has published an impressive array of short stories, novellas, introductions, and—just released in May—his second novel, Black Mad Wheel.