We have original short fiction from Orrin Grey (“Chanson D’Amour”) and Gillian Daniels (“Frost Bloom”). Our Horror Lab originals include a poem (“Ode to My Brother’s Sadness”) from Franklin Ard and a flash story (“Still Life With Vial of Blood”) from Nelly Geraldine Garcia Rosas. 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. We also have a very special excerpt from Cassandra Khaw’s new novel The All-Consuming World.
Sept. 2021 (Issue 108)
I spend a good chunk of time every day outside alone or with only my dog, and I like it a lot. When I’m in the garden or taking a run, I feel completely absorbed in the world, connected to the creatures I see and the plants I’m near. I never feel lonely when I’m out in nature. The same cannot be said for the time I spend with other people. There are times when a person can be surrounded by friends and still feel deeply, deeply lonely.
You wake with a start, your dream cutting off like a break in the film. If you could just remember it, you’d be getting somewhere, but it’s gone, the screen in front of you blinding white, the film spinning on its reel, the trailing end going flip flip flip as it turns. With a sigh, you shut off the machine, take that trailing bit of film, feed it back through, start rolling the whole thing again, from the bottom. The images on the screen move backward and too fast.
The first draft of this poem was written in a haze of grief not long after my brother took his life in 2010. The only thing I could do to keep functioning at the time was take refuge in writing, and so I scribbled these verses down without thought to form. For reasons I’ll never fully understand, the music of R.E.M. was, and still is, a balm for my soul—something soothing about the bright tones that also carry undercurrents of sadness and dissatisfaction.
Death is a business. Some of the highest grossing podcasts are dedicated to covering true crime, and those podcasts are downloaded millions of times each month, and often rank in best of year lists. There are even true crime specific podcast categories that make it easy to select from which hosts, topic, and murder you would like to listen to during your morning’s commute, or as you prepare dinner for your children.
I would call her beauty “otherworldly,” but that doesn’t really describe her cheekbones like scalpels, the ice that rimes the bird’s nest knots of her hair, or her ghost-cold touch when she visits me. “Beauty beyond description” or “the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen” just means the viewer, personally, finds her pleasing. What does a description like that tell you about the bored, dark dip of her eyes, the curve of her lip, and the forward thrust of her nose?
In 2006, I did an internship at the Museo Universitario Leopoldo Flores in Toluca, Mexico, my hometown. The museum itself was built on a hill, almost inserted in the rock that serves as canvas for some very interesting pieces of art. Our biggest mural—a behemoth of twenty-two thousand square meters—had to be seen from a window. It shaped my way of understanding art and artists.
This month Adam-Troy Castro reads on the border between thriller and horror, giving us a recommendation for Hairpin Bridge, by Taylor Adams. He has some shout-outs for other great new books, too!