BLACK STATIC #28
The art is a crop from Warwick Fraser-Coombe's illustration for 'The Pest House'.
The Pest House by Carole Johnstone
illustrated by Warwick Fraser-Coombe
Mary sat so far forward of the couch that she was almost hovering above it – the same position that she often assumed in public conveniences, though with better grace – while Gregor stoked the already eager fire with yet more coal. When he looked back at her his smile faltered, his habitual cheer pulled south by shadows. “You look like you’re about to take a shit, for Christ’s sake.”
Cracks by Jon Ingold
illustrated by David Gentry
Let me tell you about my wedding. My wedding was a nightmare. / It should have been so simple: a few people, a little hotel in Southend, a few bottles of wine. But somehow in every part of the plan there were details, and every detail was a problem, because it was supposed to be perfect. / It wasn’t perfect; and then it was gone. / We stayed on for a week in the hotel. The roses in our room grew old and black until they were removed without a word by housekeeping. Sometimes in the evenings, when Millicent was asleep, I would slide my ring free and try to remember what it had been like when we’d been just a couple and not a pair. / Everything had been so carefree and so romantic, before. / Then the bugs came.
The Ballad of Boomtown by Priya Sharma
illustrated by Richard Wagner
There was a time when we put our faith in Euros, shares and the sanctity of brick. A time when we bought our books from stores as big as barns and ate strawberries from Andalusia, when only a generation before they’d been grown on farms up the road. / The wide avenues of Boomtown were named for trees when there was grand optimism for growth. Now nothing booms in Boomtown. It’s bust and broken. / I miss you. You were a lick of cream. I can still taste you.
Pale Limbs by Daniel Kaysen
illustrated by Mark Pexton
On the ward I used to fantasise about my homecoming. I dreamed of a big celebratory affair: banners, lots of people, a party even. / But now as we stand on my doorstep in the morning sun I’m thankful it’s just me and James, the neurologist who has brought me back from the hospital. / Because I’m nervous, suddenly. / “You’re sure I’m going to remember her?” I ask him. / “Yes, I’m sure,” James says. / He’s impatient because he thinks I’m going to be his ticket to stardom. He hopes to write a classic case study on me, something to rival Oliver Sacks. And at last he’s on the verge of gathering the key data. / Because I have forgotten something. / Something in my house. / Something big.
The Messenger by Joel Lane
You can’t really call where I come from a town. It was a village before the industrial revolution filled it with factories and cut it up with railway lines and canals. Now it’s an urban district, but nobody’s really sure which of three towns it belongs to. A decade ago, there was a lot of talk about regeneration: replacing the dead factories with new software and electronics workshops, and redesigning the landscape to match. But it didn’t take hold of our end. The scars of industry were too deep. There’s a new hypermarket, a new expressway, but inside people the old map is still there. And I’d moved away, except not.
Coffinmaker's Blues by Stephen Volk
I am always amazed when writers declare no interest in politics. I’ve even heard one storyteller whose work has appeared in these pages say he has no time to observe the outside world. To which the rejoinder might be: what are you observing, other than your own navel? What is your writing engaging with, if not power, history, social forces, injustice, culture, moral issues, personal fears and interpersonal values?
Interference by Christopher Fowler
You may recall we held a short story competition in these pages a while back, and found some great subjects that were intriguing a new generation of writers. / These included loss of identity, fear of failure, powerlessness, technology, disease, body dysmorphia, fear of difference, madness, fragmentation of personality, disconnection, apocalypse, stress and the surreal pattern of modern living. These are all powerful motors for plots, but they’re not being taken up by enough horror writers. Or maybe publishers just aren’t putting them out
Case Notes: Book Reviews by Peter Tennant
Bring on the Jubliee: Christopher Fowler's Red Gloves, Hell Train, Bryant & May Off the Rails, Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood (with author interview and fantastic prizes for some lucky readers); The Game's Afoot: Holmes and Horror; Magazine Spotlight: Morpheus Tales issue 16; The Children of the Night (vampire anthologies).
*NEW* Silver Bullets: TV Reviews by Mike O'Driscoll
At Play With the Dead: The Walking Dead and Being Human
Blood Spectrum: DVD/Blu-ray Reviews by Tony Lee
Coverage of current and forthcoming releases including Mad Detective, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Contagion, Immortals, A Horrible Way to Die, Kill Keith, The Thing, The Yellow Sea, Another Earth, Hugo, 666: The Prophecy, Crows Zero, Shadow of the Sword, Texas Killing Fields, The Divide, Bad Lieutenant, Dream House, Demons, Demons 2, The Wicker Tree, The Plague of the Zombies, The Reptile
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