We have original fiction from David Tallerman (“Not Us”) and Adam-Troy Castro (“The Monkey Trap”), along with reprints by Kaaron Warren (“Furtherest”) and A.C. Wise (“The Secret of Flight”). 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 Adam-Troy Castro.
In This Issue: Oct. 2020 (Issue 97)
Be sure to check out the editorial for a rundown of this month’s chilling content and for all our updates.
When he comes home that evening, he wants to talk. He tells her about his day, about an argument with his boss, about the new contract. He relates a funny story narrated by a colleague. He wants her to react. She has difficulty feigning the correct demeanour, or even recalling what it should be. What does sympathetic annoyance look like on her face? How do her features register amused interest?
As kids we’d dare each other to go further and further into the dunes each day. You couldn’t come back until you found something, some proof you were there: A cigarette butt, a page from a book, a shoe, a ribbon. We always found something. I cheated often, tucking things into my swimming costume so I would have to travel too far.
“I think I’m going to faint,” I whispered. My best friend nodded sympathetically, his face radiating concern. “Try not to knock over the popcorn,” he whispered back. We were in a movie theatre, back when one could visit such outlandish things, and the first Saw was playing. I was more terrified than my normal baseline of “extremely” and a loss of consciousness seemed not only likely, but imminent.
Amber needed a book. It was The Estates of Sarah Holliday, a delicate comedy of manners following a young woman’s trials and tribulations in 1870s New England, and it was the most obscure novel by one Charlotte Winsborough, a fussy and now almost completely forgotten nineteenth-century author Amber had chosen for her dissertation. Winsborough had enjoyed three decades of critical and commercial success in her own time, and was by about 1900 lionized as a female Twain.
SETTING: The stage is bare except for a backdrop screen showing the distant manor house. The lights should start at 1/8 and rising to 3/4 luminance as the scene progresses. AT RISE: The corpse of a man lies CENTER STAGE. POLICEMAN enters STAGE RIGHT, led by a YOUNG BOY carrying garden shears. The boy’s cheek is smeared with dirt. The boy points with shears and tugs the policeman’s hand. POLICEMAN crosses to CENTER STAGE and kneels beside the corpse.
This month Adam-Troy Castro dives into The Best of Michael Marshall Smith, a retrospective of the author’s short fiction. Should you read it? Find out!