US Highway 1. A gray snake of concrete writhed past her. The Oceanrest exit let off onto an artery road, two lanes on either side of a double yellow line, a dying pulse bloodletting into the sea. Before the iron lung economy, there’d been a trailer park by the highway, and an ice cream shop, and a very large church. Their razed bodies curled in shallow graves, their bones hidden in underbrush. A monster licked the skulls empty, scavenged the flesh.Read More
We’re going to look at the three most common fantasy-setting systems of accessing magic; which are (a) Metric Magic, wherein anyone can learn or practice supernatural powers, (b) Genetic Magic, wherein magic or supernatural powers are genetic or inherited, and (c) Spooky Magic, wherein random people may end up discovering magic or being born with magic or other supernatural powers, akin to a lottery system. As it turns out, all three options are chock full of terror.Read More
Deirdre had been born a witch. Mysticism resonated in her blood.
Although that didn’t make magic easy, it made it easier. For someone born without the natural aptitude, a ritual like this might take days. For her, it only took nine hours. Nine long, sweat-soaked, repetitive hours, during either the Full or New moon, using simple cantrips and complicated spellcraft to ensure a strong harvest of her esoteric flora.Read More
In my adolescence, I suffered several episodes of night terrors and sleep paralysis. I created the character of the Deep Man, referenced in the video, and also saw other strange shadowy figures on nights when I would wake up frozen and scared. For some reason, these episodes stopped around the time I was 14 or 15, and I didn’t have another one until the night Hurricane Sandy struck New York and New Jersey. Since then (October, 2012), I’ve experienced usually 4-6 episodes per year. Usually these episodes occur far apart from each other, on the scale of weeks or months; but during a stressful and isolated period of late 2018 summertime, I experienced 5-6 episodes almost back-to-back, with very minimal recursive periods.Read More
Out there in the woods, a tree unfurls its roots; they are nooses, its branches, bone. It claws at the clouds until sunlight spills out. Its decades aren’t carried in the rings of its trunk, but in the bodies hanged up unrevenged. How many children have hanged there? How many boogeymen have added to its collection of endings?Read More
We can sort fantasy realms into two general systems: one in which our real-world understanding of physics usually applies and therefore magic breaks those understandings and/or the fundamental laws of physics themselves; or another in which the fundamental laws of physics and the universe differ from our own enough to justify the existence and use of fantasy-world magic. While the former usually tends to be the more grotesque and horrific of the two, the latter retains the same basic source of fear: constant paranoiac uncertainty.Read More
Virgil stepped back from the front door and drew a non-standard-issued sidearm—a large-mouthed weapon of history. A hand-me-down from an officer in one of those wars that were supposed to end all those other wars. For a few long seconds, Paul heard only rain.
Then came the breach.Read More
I don’t remember when it started. Some time after the program. A lot of people who never had a problem are leery of the program but it works. I’m almost one years sober. You resurrect from the inside out. It starts small and grows. You have to let the dream inside, you have to let the hope inside of you, like a seed. It grows into the future.Read More
He woke up itchy and hot on the floor of the flophouse, insects fleeing his body. He raked his fingers against his ribs to kill off the slower vermin; panted for air. The room’s other occupants shifted on lice-ridden burlap and ignored him. The nightmare burned the last of its hellfire fuse through him and left him cold and pointless. His cot, so much as it was his, was damp with his sweat.Read More
She shows me a card. The back is absence-white, color of nothing and everything at once. “I need you to focus on the card,” she says. “I’ll know if you don’t.”
She’s not lying. I’ve danced these steps a dozen times. I haven’t had a choice. Legally speaking, I signed up for this. Technically. There’s a contract somewhere, my name’s on it.
I focus on the card. Blank white. Nothing white.
“What do you think is on my side of the card?” she asks.Read More
The empty hallways fold in on each other like nesting dolls as I walk them, always empty, footsteps calling back to me in echoes, stretching on infinitely, longer and longer dialogues with the tiles. One hallway becomes the next hallway becomes the next hallway. Walking in circles. Walking an ouroboros. The hallways eat themselves while I'm still inside.Read More
He woke up, again, to the same alarm as always: static hiss of radio underscoring the accentless newsman as he said, “…he went to the gun locker, opened it, and took out the rifle.” He slapped the radio off before he heard the rest of the story and pushed himself up out of bed. Sarah shifted on the mattress next to him, an airy sigh slipping from her lips as she curled up in the covers. She never heard the newsman, no matter how many times he said the exact same thing. They’d had a fight about it, once. She always heard a rock song, from Oceanrest Rock & Blues Radio. The same song, every time…something by Nine Inch Nails, but he couldn’t remember the title. He only ever heard the news report, the same news report, over and over again.Read More