“You know about the uncanny valley?” he asks. It’s one of those questions where your answer doesn’t matter, he’s going to explain it to you anyway. He’s already mansplained a number of things to you tonight, including the end of Inception, which is the reddest of flags, as far as things men can mansplain go.…

(Originally published in Weird Tales #363.) 1 I’m going to start with the pregnant woman because she survived. 79 other Amtrak passengers weren’t so lucky. 243 people boarded the Lake Shore Limited at Penn Station; we left at 3:40 PM. I had an appointment in Syracuse; me and a couple of lawyers in a windowless…

(Originally published at the Ploughshares blog.) When the arms of the larkspur dial openit’s only natural to want to dissolve. In the glinting hazeyou have nothing to do but keep moving inward. Here’s your realm of green sepals, tallas knights. Your calyx sharpens over a dominion of seeds.When the arms of the larkspur dial open…

Estival

Until the day she died, George Forster’s wife wanted to live with him. Instead, she lived with her mother; George rented a room in a boarding house. Of their four children, one had died, one was a babe in arms, and two lived in a work house. You know the sort of place—Dickens would later…

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  • Date Night

    Jan Stinchcomb
    Nobody thinks of the mother, given the babysitter’s ordeal. The mother, still young, is counting on dinner and a movie with her husband. It is the best time of her life—the children aren’t babies anymore, but they still need her. They’re good at school. They have interesting things to say, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant.            …
  • Anne Gare’s Rare and Import Video Catalogue, October 2022

    Jonathan Raab
    (Originally published in Hymns of Abomination: Secret Songs of Leeds) “Elephant Subjected to the Predations of a Mentalist” – Dir. B.S. Stockton, 1921 A harrowing 47 seconds of early black and white motion photography, this film appears, at first, to be a derivation of the popular 1903 silent film short Electrocuting an Elephant, but is…
  • Eight Vases of Njideka

    Kasimma
    I am tucked in like an ovary, en route to Kentucky, in the belly of the bird; my mind is a vase of Njideka. Maka mberede nyiri dike. Njideka is my mother’s name, but its meaning is what I say like prayer: what I have is more. And what do I have with me? Nothing.…
  • Persistent

    AGA Wilmot
    You smile when you tell them your name. Wide but not too wide—show your teeth without being creepy, without them thinking that you’d like to eat their eyelids. Can you spell that please? The woman—you’re not sure if she’s a receptionist or a nurse, if the uniform is the same or different—has a kind voice.…
  • Maria

    Kiki Petrosino
    (Originally published in Witch Wife.) She’d appear in the break before sleep.Her face a glass zero. Her dark buzzing.I was twelve. I sweated & begged to live. Back then, I believed she couldspike me with faith, a silverweed stolon—she’d appear in the break before sleep pronouncing my name in her languageof radial burn. Name, name,…
  • To a Puppet, From a Dummy

    Jon Padgett
    (Originally published in Mannequin: Tales of Wood Made Flesh.) First I feared them. Then I pitied them. Then I envied them. Popular culture presents us with the “killer doll,” either as a supernatural hobgoblin or as a psychological delusion born from a ventriloquist’s psychotic split personality. As a child, fear of this demon—born of The…
  • The Shift

    Prelude See him, his face, his presence. But he is not the same.  He recognizes…you think. A fluttering of hope.  Allegro con espressione The universe shifted in the night along with your memories.  In your daughter’s room, a missing shoe peeks from under her violet bed near a heap of books. The cover of one…
  • The Rue Morgue Evolution and the Horror of Being Human

    (Originally published at Kendall Reviews.) I’ve recently been reading Clive Barker’s first three volumes of the Books of Blood on the recommendation of the great and only Gavin Kendall. This collection is somewhat legendary, and whilst I’m pleased to say that it did live up to the immense expectation placed upon it, I also have…
  • Naglfar

    A child was prattling on the upstairs balcony. Hella had never seen any children in the building and the noise unsettled her, made her wonder if there was a parent nearby or just that soft-skinned baby, crawling along the edge. Not that it concerned her. She went inside with her cup of tea, closed the…
  • In This Dress, Stitched In Anger, I Thee Wed

    (Originally published in Orpheus + Eurydice Unbound.) Eula says the word and steps into the club with her sisters, no better dancers in town. They slip and skitter in the crowd, all hot excitement. Every joint they hit they light up the party, and manager-men get nervous. Once the sisters get going they don’t stop.…
  • Think You Know Horror? Dead Right Might Tell You Otherwise

    Once upon a time, Burbank was a sleepy Los Angeles suburb known chiefly as the butt of a running Laugh-In joke (every week announcer Gary Owens told us the show was coming from “beautiful downtown Burbank”). It had a reputation as a conservative bastion in the midst of the blue Southern California landscape, with its…
  • Cire Perdue

    (Originally published in No Trouble At All.) It’s February when I realize my legs are made of wax. It’s not the month that comes as a surprise to me—nothing good ever happens in February—but it’s a shock somehow to discover the season has changed. The last I noticed, it was November, the season of things…
  • The Boy In the Barn, 1929

    His overalls are fire-ribbonedgas-fueled and then gone.  She swats out flames bare-handedand their skin marries in blisters. Threads of her palms settlein the gelled red craters of his body. She carries him to the doctor’s housethen returns to her room behind the school. The next day she wears church glovesto chalk perfect letters on the…
  • A Girl Walks Out of A Bar

    When I asked my professor for a letter,he said What you should do is open a bar.Jackson or Flint, maybe. Someplace rough. He saw me. Knew that I’d never stopbeing the kind of woman you can still call a broad,that I would always be one minutefrom starting shitI lacked the sense to regret.He knew my…
  • A Name In the Winter

    The coyotes have been bolder this winter than I’ve ever seen them before. As each night grows colder, and darker, and longer, they push in a little farther past the city limits. The Department of Wildlife blames an unchecked boom in their population, coupled with the fact that garbage cans and the occasional Pomeranian make…
  • The Skullhole Panic

    I first sought out J.R.'s services at the urging of my girlfriend Katie. To this day, my memory of those pivotal moments remains surprisingly lucid, more so considering the raggedy state of my life at the time. Weeks earlier, I'd lost my driver’s license and thus was forced to Uber to J.R.'s clinic, just off…

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