Horror & Dark Fantasy





The Hunt for the Leather Apron

On August 4th, 2014, a researcher at the British National Archives came across a sealed envelope entitled “The Leather Apron.” It had not been opened in over 125 years. The envelope contained many elements of a closed investigation into the famous Jack the Ripper case. Among the items was the written testimony of the twenty-one-year-old son of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, the woman considered by many to be the first official victim of Jack the Ripper.


Fossil Heart

Nan Walker doesn’t mean to fall asleep. She never does. But tonight the creak of the ceiling fan lulls her. Evie curls warm against her side, one long leg thrown over hers. Nan’s eyes sag, her fingers relax, and her worn paperback slides onto the bed. Sleep strokes gentle hands across her eyes. The nightmare waits, constant, unchanging: muddy water, stale wet air. The car shudders in the torrent as the flood rushes past outside.


Whose Drowned Face Sleeps

When she comes into the loft, she glares at me with the bright-eyed, serpentine resentment of the dead. In the dry attic, water drips from her hair and pools at her feet. Her lips pull back. I’d forgotten that I used to grimace like that—teeth bared like an animal’s. I’m not her and she isn’t me. When I say “I,” I might mean either one of us, but that’s not precise. I have no past, so I took her memories. I have no name, so I took her name. I had no body, but I have hers now.


Red House

This is the story you remember. The girl lost in the woods. How they find her after eight days, the mud smeared on her arms and legs, clumped in her hair and under her nails. Through the rain she sees the policeman running, lifting her up in his thick brown jacket, driving her back down the jagged lumber road towards the highway in his truck. She won’t answer his questions, won’t untangle her thin ten-year-old limbs. She runs her tongue along her broken tooth and the cop hits the sirens to run the stoplights, the world flying by in a haze of streets and rain.


The Finest, Fullest Flowering

A sour note shrieked from the limousine’s speakers, making Milston’s fingers curl in his lap. He took a moment to compose himself before rapping precisely, and with a now steady hand, on the glass separating him from the driver. The tone had droned into a hum that tunelessly dreamt of someday becoming hypnotic. “What is this we are listening to, and is there any way to turn it off?” “Down, sir, but not off, I’m afraid.”


Great Black Wave

Staff Sergeant Walker steps away from the Ridgeback, wipes sweat from his eyes with a dust-grimed bandana, and tries to make sense of the scene before him. The heat has grown punishing. For a moment it twists the air, so that grey walls and desiccated bushes and sun-scorched faces above dark shalwar kameez all shiver unsettlingly. Walker wipes his eyes again and gradually the shimmering steadies. Yet still, the prospect doesn’t quite add up.



Clarissa watched from the wings as the Great Bertoldi sawed a woman in half. Down went the saw through the coffin-like box, then up, then down again. A cigarette burned at the side of his mouth, on the edge of his smile. The saw broke through the box. He put it down and slid metal plates between the two halves, then rolled the sections apart. The woman’s head poked out from the end of one of the sections, feet from the other.


The Old Horror Writer

He’s harder to find than most. I have the basis for comparison because I’ve gotten to all of them sooner or later, from the big names to the obscurities. There are some who give up so thoroughly, and disappear so completely, that it’s as if they never existed at all. This guy’s far from the worst. He’s an old man now, twenty years removed from his last novel and ten from his last short story; he’s no longer a member of HWA or SFWA, and the agency that used to handle his interests now has him in their estate file.


The Girl Who Escaped From Hell

I thought when they handed over a kid there’d be some complex system of interlocking safeguards, like they use to transport a nuclear warhead across the country, but her mom just plopped the girl into my car. I asked if I needed to register her with someone, and my ex looked at me like I was crazy, so I hopped on I-80 and drove west, out into the desert. Abby was six years old, a mini-person, and she could talk in full sentences and everything.


Reaper’s Rose

Unpleasant? No, I wouldn’t say that. In fact, quite the opposite. You know the smell of pot? Well of course you do, you’re a policeman . . . No, I didn’t mean anything by that. It’s just that in your line of work you’re bound to have come across it, that’s all. What I’m trying to say is that this smells a bit like pot but without that horrible sweatiness; you know, it has a sort of oily, herbal smell, less acrid and a lot more floral and, well, nicer than pot. Sorry, I know I’m doing a terrible job of describing this.