BLACK STATIC 45
The front and back cover art is by Richard Wagner
The Second Floor by S.P. Miskowski
illustrated by Richard Wagner
From the back seat, Jane’s view of the house was divided but not entirely obscured, the left side glimpsed through a windshield cloudy with dirt, the right side framed by the window the cab driver insisted on keeping open. The bed and breakfast was a remodeled Carpenter Gothic with a scruffy front garden and a flagstone walkway. The moss-enveloped birdbath had flecks of ice floating on its surface. A calico cat slept inside the ground floor window against a backdrop of lace curtains.
The Grey Men by Laura Mauro
illustrated by Ben Baldwin
The grey men emerged from the fog on a November afternoon. Three days of thick, pale mist preceded their arrival; three days in which it appeared that the sky had collapsed beneath its own weight, choking the streets with cloud. The world itself was overcast. The fog held firm from Hertfordshire all the way into London, and for the two long, empty hours of his daily commute Adam would stare out of the train window, trying to pinpoint the exact margin where the dew-wet sidings disappeared irretrievably into the white.
The Visitors by Stephen Hargadon
illustrated by Richard Wagner
“These dead? Ta.”
Busy in the Brown Bear tonight. Ten to five and rammed already. It’s the Friday crowd, out for a few drinks before going home. Busy on the streets, too: already there’s women in clingy dresses clicking up Whitworth Street to the Village and grey commuters rushing the other way into Piccadilly Station. Traffic’s rotten at this junction. You could watch the idiots for hours. Pedestrians dashing out, drivers jumping the lights. All in a mad rush. A couple of years ago, a bus – the 192 from Stockport – crashed into this place. True. It was in the paper. There was a picture of Cliff, the landlord at the time, looking glum next to this big hole in his pub. Ken said it was a publicity stunt. “With a bus full of passengers?” I said. “And a great big hole in the wall? Don’t be stupid.” But Ken was having none of it. He reckoned the 192 wasn’t full of passengers at all. And how come no one was sitting over that side of the pub? Bit of a coincidence, according to Ken. And the driver was Polish, too, so it had to be a set-up. He’s like that, Ken, he sees the bad in everything. He should’ve been a cop. I still think it’s a miracle no one was killed.
The Fishing Hut by Steve Rasnic Tem
A bad accident on the highway snarled traffic headed into the river valley. Bishop had heard no account of it, but suspected it had something to do with the fog, the milky clouds having thickened the closer he’d driven to the water. Its whiteness was an unhealthy shade, like drowned flesh.
Hungry Ghosts by Emily B. Cataneo
illustrated by Richard Wagner
If you come to the house, I’ll give you mint tea, with a shot of whiskey on the side. I’ll loan you a sweater, one of those big lumpy ones you might find in your grandfather’s closet or at the Salvation Army on Main Street. I’ll teach you to crochet, if you’re interested: I have a trunk of yarn at home, all crimson and mustard and the colors of the forest. If you’d like, I’ll bring you to the basement and we can kiss. We’ll be cozy there, in the house, among the faded floral wallpaper and old-fashioned light switches and the grand built-in china cabinet. Maybe we’ll even be friends.
This is what I tell people, when I invite them to the house. Of course, none of it’s true.
The Frequency of Existence by Andrew Hook
When Valerie was into reiki she was hands on all the time. It was a fad. Something she only took seriously for so long as it took to bore her. Unlike my personal interests, which were permanent, embedded in me, Valerie only did things by halves.
The Drop of Light and the Rise of Dark by Cate Gardner
A moment prior to the drop of light, Mari rested against her pillows, looked at her toes and imagined she kicked a ball with the kids outside her window. She knew they were children by the high timbre of their voices, though not by the names they called to each other. The only child she knew, besides herself, on Tinland Street was Birdie, her best and only friend. Pain stabbed in Mari’s chest, as it often did, with the want to be on the street playing football or just observing the game. She didn’t need to join in. Sitting on the front step or the edge of the kerb watching leaves swim along the gutter or scratching her name onto the pavement would be enough.
The Cleansing by Danny Rhodes
The younger girl stepped out of the flats and into the afternoon light. She blinked. There was just one person in the playground, an older girl, thirteen or fourteen. She was sat on top of the climbing frame, picking at the flaking paint with her fingers. The younger girl hesitated. Not so long ago there had been a lot of young people on the estate but now there weren’t so many. She was getting used to her own company and wary of strangers.
Coffinmaker's Blues by Stephen Volk
ON THE SELLING OF SOULS, AND OTHER COMMODITIES
In the final episode of Mad Men Season 6, Don Draper has a meeting with Hershey and pitches a sentimental story of a father giving chocolate to his son. Suddenly he stops in his tracks and, fatally, tells the truth – that he is actually an orphan, he never had that kind of moment with his own father, and the ad he just sold them was a complete lie. The clients’ jaws drop. Subsequently Don gets suspended for his irrational behaviour. More than merely one of the best scenes in a series unsurpassable for character writing and thematic brilliance, to me it was the encapsulation of the entire show: portraying the difference between “selling them what they want” and telling an uncomfortable truth.
Notes From the Borderland by Lynda E. Rucker
OUR BODIES, OURSELVES
“It turns out that women are more responsive to transfiguration” — Mademoiselle, Martyrs
Horror, if we speak of it as a part of storytelling as old as stories themselves, has not always been enacted upon female bodies, but if your only exposure to the genre was horror movies of the past few decades, you might think otherwise. As tiresome, lazy and misogynistic as the rape-torture-murder-of-women trifecta in film after film can be, women’s bodies are also in many ways an ideal site upon which to enact horror because they are uniquely vulnerable in ways that male bodies are not.
Case Notes: Book Reviews by Peter Tennant
OBLIQUE MANOEUVRES: HELEN MARSHALL: Hair Side, Flesh Side; Gifts for the One Who Comes After; extensive author interview SHORT, SCARY TALES PUBLICATIONS: Fade to Black by Jeff Mariotte, illustrated by Daniele Serra; Containment by Eric Red, illustrated by Nick Stakal; I Tell You It's Love by Joe R. Lansdale, illustrated by Daniele Serra; Rockabye Worm, written and illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne SWAN RIVER PRESS: Dreams of Shadow and Smoke edited by Jim Rockhill & Brian J. Showers; Reminiscences of a Bachelor by J.S. Le Fanu; Here With the Shadows by Steve Rasnic Tem; The Silver Voices by John Howard; The Dark Return of Time by R.B. Russell; The Green Book 3 ELLEN DATLOW ANTHOLOGIES: The Cutting Room, Nightmare Carnival, Fearful Symmetries
Blood Spectrum: DVD/Blu-ray Reviews by Tony Lee
The Guest; Dark House; Grace: The Possession; Jessabelle; The Babadook; The Calling; Annabelle; The Other; Clown; [REC] Apocalypse; Wolves; Horns; Zombie Resurrection; Doc of the Dead; Ninjas vs Monsters; Phobia; Hunting the Legend; Exists; Scar Tissue; A Haunting at Silver Falls; Kissing Darkness; Like Water for Chocolate; American Ghost Story; ABCs of Death 2
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