Horror & Dark Fantasy





Ghostreaper, or, Life After Revenge

I’d used duct tape to attach one end of a garden hose to the exhaust pipe, and the other end of the hose ran in through the crack at the top of the passenger-side window, pumping sweet poison into the interior. I took a last swig from the bottle between my knees, the liquor burning its familiar path down my throat. I closed my eyes and waited for a sleep that would be forever untroubled by bad dreams—for the final closing of the unbalanced account of my life—when something tapped against the glass beside my left ear.


The Mad Butcher of Plainfield’s Chariot of Death

Gibbons swigged from his hipflask, driving one-handed as he followed the caravan of carny vehicles barreling along the interstate toward tonight’s show. As the booze burned through him, he bared his teeth, glaring in the rearview at the tarp-shrouded shape of the car hooked to his truck.


The Owl

Walk continuously around a tree with an owl in it: the owl will keep its eye on you until it has wrenched off its own head. He couldn’t remember where the words had come from, but he knew they were old and the last time he had heard them he could have been little more than five years of age.


57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides

1. Because it would take the patience of a saint or Dalai Lama to smilingly turn the other cheek to those six savage boys day after day, to emerge unembittered from each new round of psychological and physical assaults; whereas I, Jared Shumsky, aged sixteen, have many things, like pimples and the bottom bunk bed in a trailer, and clothes that smell like cherry car air fresheners, but no particular strength or patience.


Waiting for the Light

It had taken three days before the supervisor—“call me Marty”—asked Finn for the favour. He knew by the looks on the faces of the other staff—the little upturning of their heads that meant they were listening, but weren’t going to show it—that it wasn’t going to be a good favour.


The Beasts of the Earth, the Madness of Men

The crew is drowned, the ship is flayed to ribbons and splinters, and her own arms are a-rotted down to yellowed bone and salt-cured jerky not even the gulls will touch. Cross-legged on her chunk of life-raft, staring at that familiar line of decaying blubber through the spyglass, all Captain Perth can think, over and over again, is: just a little further. Just a little further and things will right themselves, if only I am strong.


The Crowgirl

From the camp on the hill they could see everything, the river and the barn with its silos of molding grain, the hunting crows, and far to the west, in the square white farmhouse with its padlocked cellar door, the congregation of the Dead.


10/31: Bloody Mary

The boy isn’t very large. The way things are these days, he figures that’s a plus. He is less of a target at night, and for this reason he has come to trust the darkness. Strange to trust darkness in a world overrun with nightmares . . . but that’s the way it is.


A Short Guide to the City

The viaduct killer, named for the location where his victims’ bodies have been discovered, is still at large. There have been six victims to date, found by children, people exercising their dogs, lovers, or—in one instance—by policemen. The bodies lay sprawled, their throats slashed, partially sheltered by one or another of the massive concrete supports at the top of the slope beneath the great bridge.


Alone, Together

She was dressed like a private detective from a low-budget TV show—a pair of slacks, modest high heels, and the most ridiculous trench coat I’d ever seen, one of the shorter ones, that hung just above the knees. I couldn’t help but laugh, and it was obvious my reaction annoyed her, but she did her best to hide her feelings as she pressed a finger to my lips, quieting me, and gently nudged me back inside my apartment.