Fiction:Distinguished Mole: A Tale From Somewhere by Jeffrey Thomas
illustrated by Joachim Luetke
“Doctor,” Oo said, having cracked open his frosted glass door and poked her head into his office, “I think you need to see this.”
“What is ‘this’?” he asked the nurse, trying to strike the right balance between authoritative (because he was the new doctor at the clinic, and wanted to establish a sense of respect) and friendliness (because Oo was extremely attractive, in her tight white uniform, glossy hair streaming from under her little cap).
“Our patient, Mr Ep, who came in with pain in his left ear, and hearing loss.”
“What seems to be the trouble?”
“More than you can dig out?”
“I’m…afraid to, sir. Perhaps we need to soften the wax with solution and flush it with water.”
“And you can’t do that?”
“I’ve never seen such impacted wax before, doctor,” she said sheepishly.
Dr Bendo Tin sighed with just the right balance of irritation and indulgence, rising from behind his desk, and said, “Take me to him.”
Bandersnatch by Stephen Bacon
My sister has a very nice dog. He’s exuberant and fussy, constantly nosing his way towards me to be stroked. If I’m honest, I’m a little surprised; back when we were kids my sister was always frightened of dogs. But I suppose people change over time. I wonder what else is different about her in the decade since we’ve last seen one another.
The Suffering by Steven J. Dines
illustrated by Tara Bush
I first saw her eleven months after she died, during a London-Brighton cancer charity run. We were a few miles outside Crawley when I spotted her keeping pace on the side of the road, somewhere beyond the cordon tape and the meagre crowd that cheered us on. Like a zoetrope image glimpsed in the gaps between their passing bodies.
Christa, it’s really you.
She had on that long silk night gown, the blue one with the cloud and heart pattern and the frilly hem. Pale, freckled arms like two sticks bleached by the sun. Orange hair moving like sea kelp in a stop-motion tide.
You’ve come back. But is it only to lose you again?
Blood For Your Mother by Andrew Hook
The room smelt of decay. Sunlight bleached through thin, holed curtains, imbuing the room with a warmth which was absent from both of us present. My father’s hand lay on top of the bedcovers, stretched towards me with an expectation that I might hold it. But I couldn’t bring myself to touch the leathery skin with its bat wing texture; not only from physical disgust, but also because of everything that had so far passed between us.
When the Moon Man Knocks by Cate Gardner
illustrated by Richard Wagner
Hector Wynter stopped to tie his shoelace. He rested his shoe on a plant display outside the hospital and tied an intricate knot in the lace that he knew, despite his best efforts, would come undone. They always found a way to disable him. A white paper bird fluttered and dropped onto a nearby rose, waiting for him to read its innards. He ignored this one. Instead, he watched a woman clasp the hands of a disease-ravaged man. She wore a smile that swore you won’t break me as she looked up and prayed at glass and brick.
This place broke everyone in the end.
Comment:Coffinmaker's Blues by Stephen Volk
MIRRORS FOR EYES (PART ONE)
I’ve always said that so-called fantasy television will only truly have won the day when there’s a science fiction series for adults at 9 p.m. on a terrestrial channel. Well there is. And it’s become a runaway hit. Channel 4’s Humans – a future vision where domestic robots look just like us – attracted more than six million viewers (over double Paul Abbott’s new drama), a 23% overall share, for its opening episode, to become the broadcaster’s biggest drama success for twenty years. So what did I think of it?
Well, I didn’t see it – for purely personal reasons.
Notes From the Borderland by Lynda E. Rucker
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
In the 1986 Jim Jarmusch film Down by Law, Roberto Benigni encounters a drunk and maudlin Tom Waits and declares, “It’s a sad and beautiful world.” It’s always been one of my favourite lines in cinema, but on revisiting the film recently, it suddenly occurred to me that the line also describes one of my favourite approaches to horror. Not the only approach, or the only meaningful approach, but the one that perhaps speaks to me most profoundly: stories about the places where the unbearable abuts the extraordinary.
Reviews:Case Notes: Book Reviews by Peter Tennant
HELL AND BACK WITH SIMON KURT UNSWORTH
Strange Gateways, The Devil’s Detective, plus author interview
H.P. LOVECRAFT SLEEPS WITH THE FISHESShadows Over Innsmouth, Weird Shadows Over Innsmouth, Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth, all edited by Stephen Jones
SARAH PINBOROUGHMurder, The Death House
SPECTRAL NOVELLASThe Hammer of Dr Valentine by John Llewellyn Probert, Albion Fay by Mark Morris, The Bureau of Them by Cate Gardner, Leytonstone by Stephen Volk
Blood Spectrum: DVD/Blu-ray Reviews by Tony Lee
Housebound, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, White God, Jordskott, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, The Dead 2: India, Dead Rising: Watchtower, Dead Shadows, Fallen Soldiers, Zombie Fight Club, The Walking Dead Season 5, Return to Sender, Cub, The Burning, Cottage Country, La Grande Bouffe, Into the Grizzle Maze, Infernal, Unconscious, Demonic, The Falling, Body, Awaiting, Julia, plus late arrivals Eyes Without A Face, Unfriended, The Canal, Insidious Chapter 3
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Coming Soon:'Dirt Land', a novelette by Ralph Robert Moore (illustrated by Ben Baldwin), plus stories by Stephen Hargadon, Simon Bestwick, Thana Niveau, Tim Lees, Erinn L. Kemper, V.H. Leslie, Tyler Keevil, Gary Budden and others. Black Static 49 is out in November.