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
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