When we were putting this issue together, I said to our poetry editor, “The poetry leans a bit sexy this time around, doesn’t it?” It’s a bit of a balance to the death that abounds in our fiction. We start with classic horror and end with a zombie apocalypse. All points between are covered, afterlife to offworld. But that’s this time of year, a little sexy, a little deadly. The nights are getting longer, and Persephone has gone back to Hades in the Underworld. So gather your blankets and your favorite reading device and curl up with our newest offerings. You may want to leave a light on.
Kid Dynamite in Creature Feature by Ryan Tippets – The reason I’m dangling fifty-feet above the floor in this dirty, old mineshaft is my daddy ain’t never seen a horror movie in his sorry life.
The Beast at the Edge of the Water by Alex Hardison – You shed your skin too slowly for me to detect, like a tree growing, like the tide going out. I could not say when the woman that I knew came to an end, nor when you grew in her place.
Grudgelands by Steve Billings – For a man with no eyes, Randall does a remarkably good job of piloting the boat.
To Fairer Weather by Barrington Smith-Seetachitt – When the bellhop opens the hotel room door, coolness rushes out to the dimly lit hall. Samina and Jerry quickly step inside the room, and the bellhop follows, pulling the door shut behind them.
Pest Hag by Edward Ahern – Ingvill Berntsen was the only person in Trinity Lutheran Church. She liked praying alone with her God, liked being able to hear the faint echoes of her whispered prayers. Eventually she braced her three-footed medical cane, stood, and shuffled toward the church doors.
The Fate We Share by Bridget A. Natale – Eya Borges was in trouble as soon as she started the ignition sequence, and it wasn’t just because she was a demolitions expert and didn’t actually know all that much about piloting.
Liquor and Blood by Kristen Archambeau – The water in Mingo Creek was the color of sweet tea if you dipped a cup in it, but it sure didn’t taste like it. It tasted like dirt and rot and left Trevor’s mouth feeling drier than if he’d had nothing to drink at all.
Connoisseur by Erik Rollwage – The apocalypse is winding down. Soon, that singular delicacy will have grown extinct, destroyed at its apex, like a brave butterfly who promised its brethren the stars and found instead only the cold winds of space. I speak, of course, of the human brain and its variegated, infinite texture and taste.
Golden Age by Lisa M. Bradley – “Abuela, ¿le duele?” I ask, hanging off the arm of her chair.
Grandfather and Granddaughter by Beth Cato – the reasons for his limp change with each visit: a Hun bullet from Ardennes
Fishboy Hits Teen Years by David Kopaska-Merkel – Most girls scream, a bit, when his gills flare
Strings In the Santa Ana Canyon by Roger Leatherwood – I watched you turn your suntan to the hot creek of summer And listened as sea monsters clicked in empty nests
The Scientist by Liana Kapelke-Dale – In another life, I would have been a scientist. I’d forego these wily words, deceptively sated with texture but filling the sky with vacancy.
From the Alien Sex Worker Handbook by David Barber – Pollinators, far from home without a flower, jirt were shocked to see the sexual parts of plants displayed in rooms.
Mechanics of Rebirth by Holly Jensen – Three decades before devising the Mechanics of Rebirth: she’s striding home on the prairie dog kingdom’s negative space
Jekyll’s Lover by James Penha – It’s not so much waking up to Hyde as it is wondering, after a day giggling about Henry’s failed soufflé, singing the old tunes around the piano