BLACK STATIC 53
The cover art is 'Transition' by Tara Bush
Inheritance, or The Ruby Tear by Priya Sharma
illustrated by Tara Bush
Lord Mansell, barely fifty, still handsome and eligible, was broken. Grief had made silver of his hair and etched lines across his forehead. He had long quit his seat in the House of Lords and townhouse in Berkeley Square and returned to Asterfields, his family home in the north.
Breathing by Steve Rasnic Tem
illustrated by Richard Wagner
He wakes up to the sound of his own breathing. This is not unusual, although each morning it seems louder than it did the morning before, and the sound occupies more of his day. He lives far from any highways, and far enough from his nearest neighbor, that sometimes his own breath is practically the only sound he hears. When he was a child in bed he was sometimes terrified by the noise of his blood pulsing in one ear – as if his heartbeat were trapped somewhere inside his pillow – and this new obsession with breath feels much the same.
Dare by Harmony Neal
Alexia, Rebecca, and Francesca didn’t like each other very much, their differences outnumbering their similarities, but what they had in common outweighed everything that should have kept them apart. Perched on the matching white couch and love seat in Alexia’s family room, they drank Cherry Noir Grey Goose mixed with Sprite from red Solo cups. They could have used stemware, but the girls chose to follow certain high school norms. Alexia’s mom was either working late or on a date with one of a string of wealthy suitors. Francesca stroked the flowers in the Waterford Lismore vase on the table – the red roses, white lilies, miniature hot pink carnations, and white heather from some guy named Rod. Rebecca made lewd air gestures over her crotch, indicating what she thought Rod’s appeal to Alexia’s mother might be.
The Rim of the World by Kristi DeMeester
“My grandmother used to take me there when I was a kid. She always called it the Sand Pile, but I don’t think that’s what it was really called. Sand Hills or something like that.” Laurel pauses. The sun catches against the crescent shaped necklace she’s wearing, and I blink. I can’t remember how long we’ve been driving on this two-lane blacktop. Can’t remember the last time we saw another car. Overhead, the trees hang low and oppressive. Gray moss dips airy and light toward the earth, and it almost looks like a bridal veil. The air is thick in my lungs, and it settles somewhere deep inside of me with every breath. Nestles against wet meat like a spore.
Tohoku by Danny Rhodes
Akio woke early. He opened the blinds and peered down the valley towards the sea. He considered the flat water, the blue sky, the placid horizon. He smiled. Today would be a good day.
He stepped away from the window and retreated to the little room that contained the picture of Mizuki. He bowed, tapped the bell and lit the lighter. He touched the flame to the candle wick and watched as the flame took hold. He looked at Mizuki’s happy face and deep into her eyes. Perhaps this would be the day she came back to him.
Mittens by Stephen Hargadon
illustrated by Richard Wagner
The first time I met him he was sat on the edge of a bed, naked except for a pair of pink mittens. The Foxbridge Hotel in Buxton. We found the body of a woman in the cupboard. She had been strangled and her chest had been cut open. Knitting needles pierced her major organs. There was blood on Percy Scollop’s mittens. Under the bed we discovered a black sports holdall containing several skeins of yarn and a selection of knitted items such as dolls, gloves, half-finished scarves. Scollop denied everything. He said he wasn’t Scollop. And he said the woman in the cupboard was not dead.
In the Frame by Charles Wilkinson
Luke’s walking away from the old town and downhill towards the railway station. Tint of dusk-pink below grey cloud cleamed like stucco above the terraced shops; to the west, the sleeping blue mountains. Past a dingy hairdresser’s with the door open – one chair with a man having his hair clipped by a bald barber; a newsagent’s with last century lettering above the lintel; the yellow fascia of a takeaway – sour scent of grease; a curry house boarded up.
Coffinmaker's Blues by Stephen Volk
In the mid-1980s, faced with a horrendous deadline writing Horror Movie for Goldcrest, I literally cut and pasted parts of my old draft with newly-typed scenes to save time. Now cut and paste are a keyboard-click away. Now a director can show me graded footage on his phone, I can see a rough cut of a whole episode on i-cloud, an exec has her weekend reading on her tablet, and everything is sent by email. No licking of stamps, no posting of envelopes. Even photocopying is a thing of the past.
Notes From the Borderland by Lynda E. Rucker
IN THE DARK WOODS
The menacing Scandinavian woods, suffused with a pagan presence, of Adam Nevill’s The Ritual. Ramsey Campbell’s Liverpool and its urban horrors. The haunted East Anglia of M.R. James. Michael McDowell’s humid, deadly Perdido, Alabama. The sylvan locales of Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen, hiding a terrible transcendence. Daphne Du Maurier’s narrow, menacing Venice streets. The sweltering farm community of TED Klein’s The Ceremonies. Three very different New Englands: Stephen King’s small-town Maine, where the people can be as monstrous as the monsters; Shirley Jackson’s more suburban vision of narrow-minded repression; and for H.P. Lovecraft an antiquarian Eden lost to rural white-trash inbreeding and an urban invasion of terrifying foreign folks. I could go on and on, and I don’t doubt that you could too, naming iconic horror settings that are easily as fundamental to the story as the plot and character – stories in which the setting, in many ways, is another character, and a key driver of the plot.
Case Notes: Book Reviews by Peter Tennant
Reality Bites edited by Alex Davis, Dead Water edited by Len Maynard & Mick Sims, Jews Versus Zombies edited by Rebecca Levine & Lavie Tidhar, Darkest Minds edited by Ross Warren & Anthony Watson
EPISODES FROM ANOTHER WORLD
Storylandia #15 by Julie Travis, Lost Cartographies by Cyril Simsa
The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker, Midian Unmade edited by Joseph Nassise & Del Howison, Voices of the Damned by Barbie Wilde, Horrorology edited by Stephen Jones
Blood Spectrum: DVD/Blu-ray Reviews by Gary Couzens
The Witch, Penda's Fen, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Goosebumps, The Hound of the Baskervilles, That Cold Day in the Park, Journey to the Shore, Evolution, Night of Fear, Inn of the Damned, Me and My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse, The Club, Even Lambs Have Teeth, Cherry Tree, The Ones Below, Visions, Baskin, i-Lived, The Forest, Intruders
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Black Static 54 is out in September, with a very dark and very disturbing new novelette by Steven Dines called 'Perspective', plus exceptional new stories by Julie C. Day, Ralph Robert Moore and others. Subscribe now!
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