We have original fiction from Joanna Parypinski (“The Inheritance”) and Halli Villegas (“A Mother’s Love Never Ends”), along with reprints by Micah Dean Hicks (“Ghost Jeep”) and John Langan (“The Underground Economy”). In the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” Karin Lowachee meditates on the psychological draws of watching horror movies. We also have our usual author spotlights with our authors, and a feature interview with author and editor Amber Fallon.
Oct. 2018 (Issue 73)
Be sure to check out the Editorial for a rundown of this month’s content and to get all our news and updates.
Madeline had a plain, dull face that only a mother could love, even though hers hadn’t. She’d been a clever child, clever enough to realize early on that fairness was a fairy tale, and clever enough to realize that it wasn’t her mother, really, who was to blame, even if she couldn’t help but blame her. Whenever Madeline’s stepfather had told her to get out of his sight, her mother had repeated the phrase in a ghostly echo. When Madeline emancipated herself at sixteen, she figured that was the end of that, and she looked ahead to a future of possibilities.
We have a ’90s model Jeep Cherokee, green and dirty and banged up so bad only the driver’s side doors open. We don’t have a windshield no more, but we never needed it. We have piles of scratched CDs of pirated albums. We have a system in the back, big speakers booming up and down these cracked country roads like a low flying bomber. We have been sixteen and riding around the same small town since the night we died twenty years ago. There are three of us. We have each other, but every year we lose a little more, until we can’t remember our names.
Although my parents might deny allowing their young daughter to see movies such as The Exorcist, The Omen, and many of Stephen King’s adapted books (Cujo, Carrie, Christine), images and scenes from those films have been indelibly burned into my memory like the starkest nightmares. And I did get nightmares immediately after watching these and other horror movies: the rabid dog nightmare, the demon child nightmare, the attacking birds nightmare, the girl with blood running down her face nightmare.
Mother would have never taken the bus. She had specific prejudices—the train yes, the bus no, taking The Lord’s name in vain, no, calling someone an asshole, yes. It was often hard to follow her dictates; the safest route was to just not say anything or do anything unless directed. Mother had no say in the matter now, and although Miriam wasn’t big on bus travel herself, it gave her an adventuresome frisson to be doing something in such bad taste.
That’s not what I want to talk about. If you’re interested in hearing about the day to day of a stripper, there are plenty of books you can read. Some of them are pretty good. Or you could watch Showgirls. No, it’s not accurate, but it’s the kind of movie most of the girls I danced with would have made about themselves. So there’s that. It’s a person—Nicole AuCoeur, the girl who told me I should try out at The Cusp, they were hiring and I could make some serious cash. I want to talk about her, about this thing that happened to her.
As an author, Amber Fallon has been publishing unabashed “guilty pleasure” horror for years. In addition to her novels The Terminal and The Warblers, her short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and her own collection, TV Dinners from Hell. This September, Fallon made her editorial debut with Fright into Flight (Word Horde, 2018)—a dark speculative anthology themed around flight and featuring only women contributors. This anthology was conceived of in direct response to the similarly titled Flight or Fright (Cemetery Dance, 2018) which, despite sharing the theme, only included stories by men.