Welcome to Nightmare’s 114th issue! Thank you for joining us in our uneasy corner of the world. Pull up a chair and rest yourself. I’m sure you’re tired.
Aren’t we all tired these days? Maybe it’s the kind of tired that makes you lean against the wall in the afternoon, your legs like sacks of sand, heavy but formless, your spine pulled low by their weight. Maybe it’s the kind of tired that makes you wake in the night and find yourself breathless, the sheets too tight around your throat, your water glass pushed out of reach on the nightstand. Or maybe it’s the kind of tired that fills your head when you read the news, so that you have to lay your forehead down on your desk and wait for the exhaustion to pass before you can look at a screen again.
What have you lost, these past long years? Who has the world taken from you, what dreams has it crushed? As Woody Dismukes says in this very issue: “Recently, it’s been hard not to feel consumed by outside forces. There’s always someone coming to take something from you.” There is a system outside that is eating us all, taking our air, taking our voices, taking our futures. You can spend twenty minutes a day meditating, take up CrossFit, do yoga, visit the spa, hack your life, become more productive, vote, protest, agitate, or even cry, but nothing can change the fact that no matter who you are or where you live, this time of pandemic has removed the scales from your eyes and put them on your shoulders.
This issue is for your shoulders. It speaks of the weight of the world and of the beings who are so eager to pick your pocket or strip your humanity from your bones. From the bracing allegory of Pedro Iniguez’s flash story, “Skins,” to “The Golden Hour,” Erica Ruppert’s new short about a vampire analog (you’re going to love this creepy little bastard), this issue is about the forces that are coming to take things from you.
You never know where these things will show up or what will invite them into your home. In R.L. Meza’s story “The First Year,” it’s social media. In Woody Dismukes’ poem “Said the Carrion to the Corvus,” it’s a force without name that casts a shadow over life—a winged, black sorrow. It’s COVID-19, it’s a government eager to write your body out of legal protection, it’s your boss. It’s global capitalism. It’s your despair transformed into a poem, and I’m so glad Woody sent it to me so it could draw together all the pieces of this dark, heavy issue.
But of course, it’s not all heaviness. In “The H Word,” Ally Wilkes draws us across the polar ice to talk about the wonders of location-centered horror. Our staff reviewer, Adam-Troy Castro, recommends new media. And the author spotlight interview team talks to our fantastic authors, who are always beacons of light.
Sharing new horror with you is one of the things that takes the weight of life off my shoulders, dear readers. The world is hard, but it is also beautiful. There are wonders to imagine (like magical vampire-things!), and joys to share. There are jump scares to bring the heat back to your cold, tired hearts. There are words so lovely that you can taste them, smooth and sweet as Easter candy on your tongue.
And best of all, we have each other to carry each other when our sand legs can go on no longer. We can steer each other to a comfortable chair and curl up in Horror. When we come out of that rich bath, we are certain to feel strong enough to carry on for a little while longer.
Spread the word!