Nightmare Magazine




Produced by Skyboat Media, and under the direction of Grammy and Audie award-winning narrator and producer Stefan Rudnicki, our podcast features audiobook-style recordings of two of the four stories we publish each month in Nightmare, released more or less on a weekly basis. To subscribe (free!) to the podcast, you'll either need our podcast RSS feed and put that into your favorite podcast client, or you can just subscribe via iTunes.




Laura Lau Will Drain You Dry

The day after the picture of your boobs gets sent around the school, a mosquito lands on your tongue and bursts like a ripe cherry. You are crying in the disabled stall of the girls’ bathroom where you took the photo to begin with. You hate that you’re back here, but it’s where you were that day four months ago because it’s the only private mirror in the whole school. It’s exactly the same. Paint-stained, clogged-up sink, graffiti all over the door that you’ve contributed to, no toilet paper on the roll.


The Dizzy Room

Mom and Dad all but forced the games on me. It’s hard to believe now. All you hear about these days is how kids don’t want to play water balloons anymore, don’t want to do sack race, how every year there’s an increase in reported grass allergies, and how in just a couple generations we as a society are going to forget we ever knew how to climb trees. Everyone has those apps that track screen time. Everyone’s tried that thing where the whole family stacks their phones in the middle of the table for a weekly distraction-free dinner, or “DFD.”



One could, if necessary, hide between the studs in your wall. Shoulders, narrower than the gap. Back against the plywood of the exterior panel; chest, when fully inflated with breath, pressing against the lath and plaster. Room enough to disappear. This was mine before it was yours. Single story 1920s bungalow, three bedrooms, an unfinished basement and an attic crawlspace. Flower beds in the front. Garden space in the backyard. In the door frame of the second bedroom, lines scratched to mark the top of a growing boy’s head.


Who The Final Girl Becomes

Cinda begins the worst afternoon of her life by hiding in a closet. It’s spring break of her senior year of high school, and she’s rented a cabin with four friends using money she saved from her job at the bookstore, and it all feels terribly grown-up: the long drive into the mountains in the passenger seat of her boyfriend Travis’s car; the box of condoms Paulina not-so-secretly tucked in the glove box; the case of cheap beer and freezer bag of weed that Wally stowed in the trunk; the excursions and activities that Maeve carefully planned.


Until It Has Your Reflection

I hold the crayon to the mirror, ready to swipe it across my reflection’s neck just as my husband, Tomas, instructed. Make a quick horizontal line, then break the crayon against the glass. Snap it like you would your reflection’s neck. I’ve chosen the shade closest to my skin tone because it feels fitting for the occasion, the brown that I’d had to explain to our kindergartener was not “the skin color” crayon. Not everyone has skin as dark as ours, and some have darker. I imagine similar conversations in other households, about other crayons.


To Cheer as They Leave You Behind

She comes early, forcing you to reschedule meetings from the car as Alan drives, white-knuckled. You don’t mind—sending contract notes while in labor is the sort of story the partners will tell for years. Delivery is an athletic event, but you understand those. You ran cross-country in college, before law school took over. You understand pain, how to bear down and force your body into submission. And then it’s over. They put her in your arms, swaddled and squalling, and she is exactly as you imagined.



The day her mother brought Mr. Nelson home, Martha faded into the wallpaper. It seemed the safest thing to do. Martha had never met Mr. Nelson, but she had met the others, and she knew what they could do to her. Had done to her. And her mother. It was possible that this one was different, but Martha did not want to take that chance. “Martha?” called out her mother. She was clinging to Mr. Nelson’s arm, Martha saw, and swaying a little. Just as she had with the others. “Martha?”


Break the Skin If You Have To

The base of my skull buzzes as I pick up some bleach and a new scouring pad from the market. I’ve been away from my house for too long. When I get back, I must remember to clean the oven, clean the stovetop, clean the sink. In the checkout queue, I drop my basket onto the counter, and then I see her again. The new girl. So many have come and gone through the years that I barely remember them. Their polite gazes always slip off of me when I come through their checkouts.


Only When You Laugh

Twenty-four hours to go. The Ultus Theater was all lit up, the marquee emblazoned with his name, glowing in the haze of the heavy rain. Laffing Farm Final Show: Mitch Williams! He chuckled to himself. Mitch, Mitch, born in a ditch . . . The last time he was outside in a downpour was ten years ago, that night by the lake after his treatment. He had been jittery with withdrawal, teeth chattering in his head, as loud as the waves crashing against the shore. Look at him now. 2,800 seats, sold out.


Devil Take Me

The caveat is that I’m going to lie to you. That’s how confessions work, isn’t it? There are those things that even though we want to confess, we can’t confront, and so we talk around. Lying isn’t even second nature; it’s our primary condition. The best I can do is tell you the truth about when I’ve lied. Let’s start at the beginning. I come from a deep and worn-out notch on the Bible Belt, the only child of Peter and Trudy Cadigan. Well, no. You’d need only look at the graves to know that’s not entirely true.