Horror & Dark Fantasy

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Editorial

Editorial: May 2021

Welcome to issue 104 of Nightmare!

Sometimes you need to feel bad.

Really bad. Like, you just broke up with your significant other (who took your pets and the coffee maker), and now you have to put on The Cure’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and cry on your bedroom floor. Because sometimes the only way to feel better is to feel a whole lot worse.

If you’ve ever been there—and I imagine most of us have—then you know what I mean. You have probably at least once cried so hard the snot started going into your mouth and the only thing you could find to wipe your nose on was a dirty sock. I once spent three weeks like this, cleaning my face to go to my part-time secretarial job and then returning to bury my heart even deeper in minor chords. Then one day I walked to the movie theater by myself and watched The Faculty, where I screamed several times at jump scares. I jittered the entire way home in the dark. It might not have been the best of horror movies, but when I got home, I turned on Green Day instead of The Cure.

This issue is dedicated to anyone who has been there. It’s full of characters who have latched onto the wrong people and made the wrong choices. It’s ripe with the bitter taste of those who desperately need to be repaired. It’s a nasty, delicious walk on the unhappy side.

Our first short story comes to us from prolific author Tim Waggoner: “Negative Space.” It’s the story of a good husband in a bad situation with no likely way out. (And if you’ve ever seen those weird gun racks made out of deer hooves, you will appreciate their appearance in this deeply unsettling tale.) Next, Maria Dong brings us a deeply miserable collegiate narrator in her short story, “The Cabbit.” What is a cabbit? You’ll have to read the story to find out, but if you’ve ever wished for a fairy godmother to come along and fix your life, you will understand the appeal of one. Our second short story

In The Horror Lab, P H Lee offers us a flash piece called “Taking Control of Your Life in Five Easy Steps.” If you have ever read a magazine in the dentist’s waiting room, you’ve probably seen the kind of self-help program this story lampoons. Of course, this one is far, far more terrifying than anything a reputable dentist would allow in their office.

I’m so honored to share this month’s poem. “Julia, Forever” was submitted to us by the estate of Eugie Foster, with help from our wonderful friend Alex Hofelich (an editor at the fantastic horror podcast magazine PseudoPod). A multi-talented and award-winning writer of both fiction and poetry, Eugie Foster was taken from us at only age 42. A lot of people think rhyming poetry is fussy or sentimental, but this poem is a delicious piece of nastiness. I’m really glad we got the chance to share it with all of you!

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This month’s interview is with our intern, Ellie Murray. Ellie came on this winter to help with proofreading and just started doing author spotlights and reading slush. She’s a busy college student, but somehow, she manages to squeeze in time to help us be scary!

Ellie Murray in her creepiest workspace.How did you get started working with Nightmare?

It hasn’t been too long, but I love it! Late last November, my partner and I were searching for internships, and they had sent a few emails to you asking if they could volunteer. I think both of us found Nightmare while looking for Carmen Maria Machado interviews, and fell in love a little bit.

Anyway, since my partner had taken a few internships in the meantime, they offered to send my name along (probably because they could tell how jealous I was), and luckily you guys seemed to like me. From there, it’s just been helping out with this and that, and learning how it’s done. I’m very grateful for the chance to work on a magazine I’m such a fan of.

What’s your favorite part of your work here?

Oh gosh, I love doing proofreading. It’s a delight to get a sneak peek of the upcoming stories, interviews, and articles, and there’s something about picking out and recording errors that appeals to some “fix-it” part of my brain.

It’s also been a crazy experience doing a handful of author spotlights. Going down research rabbit-holes on writers is basically what I do in my free time, so doing that and trying to ask good questions concerning their work has been fulfilling so far.

Would you call yourself a horror fan? If so, what brings you to the genre?

I am definitely a horror fan, but there’s only so much I can take! I’ve always covered my eyes or hid under blankets watching horror movies, but I still love them. I especially love the sort of internet urban legends that really feel real sometimes, and the horror that fascinates and has an element of the beautiful to it, like Alien or Midsommar or The Lighthouse, to name some popular examples.

I mentioned Carmen Maria Machado earlier, and I think it was when I read “The Husband Stitch,” in Her Body and Other Parties when I really realized what horror lit could do. Since then, I’ve read a lot more Gothic novels from the 18th and 19th century, and from them I saw how horror has always been this sort of feminist and queer haven, which interests me a lot.

What’s your favorite horror villain or monster?

That’s a hard one! The alien in Alien is a mainstay, of course. That movie is endlessly rich, and I’m always fascinated by its idea that there are traumas that turn you into an abuser. On the other hand, there’s Francis Dolarhyde, “the tooth fairy” from Red Dragon. I’m seriously obsessed with that book; I think it’s magical. It’s more of a crime thriller, but I love the horror of Thomas Harris basically saying: “I dare you to tell me this guy isn’t a dragon.” And you know, that’s another work about traumas turning people into abusers.

Thanks so much, Ellie! We really appreciate all your hard work and your commitment to keeping things creepy!

Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner is the author of the forthcoming horror novel The Deer Kings (due out summer 2021) and the forthcoming gothic novella The Secret Skin (fall 2021). Previous work includes the SF thriller An Oath of Dogs and two novels for the Pathfinder Tales series. Her short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in more than fifty venues. She also serves as the managing/senior editor of Lightspeed magazine, and previously served as the guest editor of Nightmare‘s Queers Destroy Horror! She lives in Oregon with her very understanding family, two large cats, and a Muppet disguised as a dog.