October 2018: Dark & Stormy

Inside This Edition

It’s our third-annual Halloween edition, and we are pleased to present this year’s crop of stories: from subtle spookiness to hair-raising creeps, this issue is like the written equivalent of a haunted house. Indeed, “haunted” is a big theme for us this year. The characters in all of the following tales are being haunted by something or someone, a disturbance that is external, internal, or both. Whether it’s ghouls or ghosts, madmen or murderers, you’re guaranteed to come away from this edition with your lust for fear sated—and maybe with some paranoia running through your bones.

Our issue kicks off with Soulmates by Alex Mullin, a gem of a story that follows two men—both of whom happen to be ghosts—as they hang around a bar and ponder their respective afterlives. The writing is zippy and entertaining, the characters endearing, and the ending is surprisingly heart-warming.

Next up: Funhouse by Andrew Feldman. This story is a brutally honest depiction of the strange, capricious dynamics of female friendships, and its horror comes not only from the titular haunted house but from the tatters of one such broken friendship. It’s darkly humorous and relatable, yet also offers up an abundance of nightmare fuel. No matter how terrifying it gets, you won’t be able to stop reading.

Grandmother by Prathiksha Srinivasa is also relatable, grounded in deeply human emotion and experiences, including loss, longing, and the desire to connect with a departed family member. This is a story that shies away from jump scares and horror, instead offering a clever slice-of-life tale with a unique perspective on its subject matter. It’s contemplative, charming, and with humor peppered throughout—everything you want in a work of flash fiction.

Speaking of flash fiction, next we have Don T’s Inferno (Cantos I & II) by Solange Xanadu. This ingenious piece seamlessly merges a Dante’s Inferno parody with a political satire about Donald Trump, finding Trump—still as narcissistic and prejudiced as ever—stranded in Dante’s hell. It’s wickedly funny and spot-on, a truly winning piece.

Following this, we have Erin Carini’s Bonds. This story—which is brimming with twists—begins with quick-witted, light-hearted banter before eventually darkening into something grim and spooky, unfolding before the reader’s eyes. Chilling and distinctive, with a non-sugarcoated portrayal of family, it pulls from multiple genres and merges them into a great, memorable finished product.

Unlucky by Margaret Patrick, meanwhile, is a fast read that will stick with you, its final paragraphs offering up some surprising revelations. It’s funny and perfectly odd, a quirky flash fiction piece that you’ll want to read again—and again.

Another non-horror option is Sapphire Huie’s A Dusk Blue Kinda Soul, a short and stirring flash fiction piece. With its enjoyably open-ended ending, A Dusk Blue Kinda Soul invites readers to draw their own conclusions about the mystery at its center: a seemingly omnipresent man who keeps popping up in his dusk blue Charger. Sophisticated and highly original, this is the sort of story that inspires discussion and thought.

Then there is Grounded by Sean Sanford, a beautifully-written story of an odd haunting. The protagonist’s quest to get to the bottom of who or what is after him leads him to a shocking, long-buried family secret. Dark and eerie, this story has an ending that is unexpected in terms of both plot and tone, packing a surprising number of laughs to enliven the proceedings.

Angela Woltman’s Do You See What I See? starts off as something of a character study: its protagonist is a woman in crisis, a writer who can’t get herself to write and a wife whose husband is constantly gone. But this piece doesn’t go in the direction you expect—instead, it blends the fantastical with the suspenseful, but grounds both of these elements in the realistic headspace of its central character. This is one rollercoaster of a story that you won’t want to miss.

Daddy Long Legs by Greg Roensch also deals with the fantastical, its main character envisioning a world of giant spiders who enact their revenge on the boys who torture them. Darkly funny and terrifically twisted, Daddy Long Legs has some terrifying imagery—yet it also manages to make you root for the man-eating spiders. An impressive feat.

Our penultimate piece is Keira C. Lewis’s Will of Instinct, an edge-of-your-seat suspense story about a kidnapped girl who dares to attempt an escape. It’s a tour de force that we promise you’ll enjoy—just so long as you remember to breathe while reading it.

Lastly, our edition concludes with the heart-pounding Lyle by Stewart Lindh, about a fifteen-year-old whose luck goes from bad to worse when he accepts a ride from a stranger with a dark past. This is a pulse-quickening, palm-moistening thrill-ride, one that will tempt you to speed to the end to see how it turns out for the main character. (Difficult though it may be, we urge you to resist this inclination.)

We are immensely gratified to be back with our third October edition, and we hope you have a spooky good time with these fun-sized reads. But most of all, we wish you a very happy (and very haunted) Halloween!