BLACK STATIC 47
The front and back cover art is by Richard Wagner
Fiction:On the Road with the American Dead by James Van Pelt
illustrated by Richard Wagner
Jeremy Lowe rested his arm on the open window, enjoying vibration and rushing air, solitude, and early evening Kansas cornfields. Engine and tire noise echoed from telephone poles and fence posts, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. He smiled, tapping the steering wheel in accompaniment.
He liked solitary drives from client to client, sticking to two-lane roads when he could, half his backseat and trunk filled with sales brochures and toner cartridges and copier parts. He liked his window down, even when it grew cold in the fall. He smelled little creeks that ran through shallow gulches, of miles and miles of wild sunflowers along the fields, and bar-b-cue from unseen backyards. He liked stockyards and political signs, which he’d sometimes stop to photograph. This morning he’d snapped a shot of a Second Amendment billboard that said turn in your arms: the government will take care of you printed over a picture of Indians in headdresses.
All the Day You'll Have Good Luck by Kate Jonez
The sun sinks down behind a bank of puffy lavender clouds that are much prettier than dusty old broke-down Frederick, Oklahoma deserves. The carnival lights come on all at once like a mad scientist flipped one of those old-timey switches. This is the part of day I like best. Not too early; not too late.
There’s something about the way the yellow, red and white lights stand out against the sky that makes the scene feel more special than it is. Like this is a moment captured for a postcard that’s going to be sold at the newsstand up at the rest stop by the highway.
Razorshins by John Connolly
illustrated by Wayne Haag
My grandfather’s name was Tendell Tucker, and he was a hard man. He ran liquor for King Solomon during Prohibition, taking care of the road runs from Canada through Maine, and down to Boston. Mostly he answered to Dan Carroll, who was Solomon’s partner, because my grandfather preferred dealing with the Irish to working with the Jews. He never said why. He was just that kind of fella.
A lot of people don’t know it, but Dan Carroll was a cautious man, which might explain why he lived so long. During Prohibition, most of his shipments came ashore from boats at night, and were met by trucks that brought his booze to warehouses for distribution, but he liked to cover his bets when he could. He wasn’t a gambler, not like Abe Rothstein, or even Solomon himself. Carroll would calculate his outlay, and the potential profit to be realized from each shipment, then split it accordingly. So if he’d invested $30,000 in Canadian liquor, and was looking at a return of $300,000, he would work out how many cases were needed to cover his initial costs, and then run them into Boston separately, usually in specially converted Cadillacs. That way, if the coast guard came sniffing, or the feds, and a shipment was seized, he wouldn’t be out of pocket.
The Devil's Hands by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
A monster lived in Cocoa’s bathroom. It emerged when the sun went down, and she couldn’t sleep for the deep, rattled heave of its breathing. In the night she heard the heavy clomp of its pacing, and if she watched closely she saw its curved claws wrap around the edge of the half-closed bathroom door. With her eyes clamped shut she saw in her mind those same claws creep toward her body. She could never help but look, even though she knew that looking meant not sleeping for another night. In the morning, once light brought with it the courage to peep behind the door, the creature was gone.
When the Devil's Driving by Ray Cluley
illustrated by Dave Senecal
What Lucy liked most about hanging out at the Devil’s Basin was the privacy. Nobody went there. A cluster of trees in a dip between hills hid an area of mud and swampy ground, a still pool of green-scummed water that swelled with the rain but did little else, and that was it. It wasn’t pretty. The trees were stunted crippled shapes that leaned as if to get away from the fetid water. The air had a strangely sweaty tang to its odour. Clouds of tiny biting things hovered over every rank pool and puddle spread between clumps of greasy flat grass. Nobody visited the Devil’s Basin but Lucy, and yet everyone at school had a story for how it came to be: it was the crater from a meteorite; it was the blast hole of a bomb dropped during the second world war; there was a mine that split open one day and flooded. The devil was in all of them, of course, riding the meteorite down from the heavens, calling the bomb, stamping his hooves to open rock. Whatever.
A Case Study in Natural Selection and How it Applies to Love by Eric J. Guignard
illustrated by Jim Burns
Yesterday I saw Jamie Goodwin burst into flame.
He was just sitting on one of those cheap aluminum-back chairs we all have, eyes closed in the shade of Hester’s old RV, trying to get some relief from the heat, same as everyone else. I was checking the stock of coolers, seeing if any held even a bit of water left to siphon out, when Jamie let out a tiny gasp like he woke from a bad dream. If it was a bad dream he had, he woke to something worse, ’cause little glints of light popped and fizzed off him like the sparklers we used to wave around on Fourth of July. Smoke or steam or something else rose up, then Jamie’s eyes went cartoon-big and he turned into a fireball.
Comment:Coffinmaker's Blues by Stephen Volk
ALFRED AND JACK: RIPPING YARNS
I re-watched Hitchcock’s Frenzy (1972) recently. Apart from rediscovering what a truly macabre delight it is, I was struck that, though based on a book (Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square by Arthur La Bern) this story of London in the grip of a serial killer, with its newspaper headlines, salacious gossip and heady mix of dread and titillation, reflects another more infamous killing spree perhaps closer to home, as far as the director was concerned. “Tourists expect London to be full of ripped whores” two city gents in a pub comment sardonically while waiting for their meat pies to arrive from the buxom barmaid, and “He’s a regular Jack the Ripper!” proclaims someone early in the movie, while Jon Finch’s character is known for beating his wife and becomes a suspect when she is murdered: exactly reminiscent of Joseph Barnett, common-law husband of Ripper victim Mary Kelly.
Notes From the Borderland by Lynda E. Rucker
IT KNOWS WHAT SCARES YOU
Lately, I’ve been thinking about fear.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” Or this one: “I recognise terror as the finest emotion…and so I will try to terrorise the reader. But if I find I cannot terrify him/her, I will try to horrify, and if I find I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out.” I’m willing to bet that few horror aficionados will fail to recognise the oft-repeated words of Mr Lovecraft and Mr King. But how is fear achieved in horror fiction, and what purpose does it serve?
Reviews:Case Notes: Book Reviews by Peter Tennant
A THREE COURSE FEAST: THE RECENT FICTION OF RAY CLULEY
Probably Monsters, The Curse of the Zombie, and Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow, plus a substantial interview with the author
GRAY FRIAR PRESS
Terror Tales of Wales, Terror Tales of Yorkshire, Horror Uncut
Blood 20: Tales of Vampire Horror, Death of the Day, Colder Greyer Stones
NOT SO SMALL BEGINNINGS
The Spectral Book of Horror Stories
Blood Spectrum: DVD/Blu-ray Reviews by Tony Lee
The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyll and Miss Osbourne, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, The Haunting of Radcliffe House, The Sleeping Room, Dream Home, Whiplash, Kajaki, Twisted Tales, Can't Come Out to Play, Out of the Dark, Stonehearst Asylum, It Follows, The Voices, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence, Tusk, Home Sweet Hell, Island of Death, The Cutting Room, Zombieworld, Girls Against Boys, The Loft, Digging up the Marrow, Girlhouse, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Unhallowed Ground
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