Tales of Horror, Delusion, and the Unknown
Twenty-one stories from favorite authors evoke the horror genre through the dark lens of mystery, crime, science fiction, and fantasy, to thrill and to frighten – directly from the pages of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The tales compel readers to confront the darkness within ourselves, our neighbors, our family, the creatures just around a shadowy corner. . . and to question whether unimaginable abominations aren’t so unimaginable after all.
In “The Monitor” by Tara Laskowski, a mundane piece of technology is the conduit for an eerie visitation to a postpartum mother struggling with reality. Another mother contemplates “A Good Thing and a Right Thing” by Zandra Renwick, sending echoes across time to a willing vessel. “Day 29” by Chris Beckett wonders who we really are when even we aren’t watching. The “Nain Rouge” by Barbara Nadel has an unsettling answer to that very question. Our narrator’s delirious state is mirrored by “The Persistence of Memory” by Rachel Bowden, where once again all is not as it seems. Something sinister lurks in “The Outside Event” by Kit Reed, and in other artistic communities, murder really is art: “Monsieur Alice is Absent” by Stephen Ross uncovers a serial killer’s seductive trail hiding in plain view. Read between the lines before answering the classifieds in “Lonely Hearts of the Spinward Ring” by Paddy Kelly. Our protagonist in “The Widow Cleans House” by Jason Half is looking for perfect love but finds herself locked in a delusional loop. In “Over There” by Will McIntosh, reality itself splits into two terrible timelines. “The Empty Space” by Kurt Bachard conjures another dimensional rift. A lover’s disappearance in “Alive, Alive-Oh!” by O.A. Tynan brings similar creeping panic into a writer’s life. Louis Bayard’s narrator scribbles their “fictional” obsession with “Notes Toward a Novel of Love in the Dog Park,” while in lab reports scientists unravel the monstrous truth about where “Chrysalis” by David Brin fits in with human life phases. Seth Frost brings us more mutation – you don’t want to be the one “The Deer Girl Hitches a Ride” with in this bleak post-epidemic landscape. Metamorphosis prowls again when “Lady Appleton and the Creature of the Night” meet in a historical by Kathy Lynn Emerson, and in “Cryptids” by Alec Nevala-Lee an avian evolution has turned deadly on an island where scientists struggle for survival. “Still Life No. 41” by Teresa Solana and “Exposure” by A.J. Wright revisit what can be captured in a work of art, and “Pisan Zapra” by Josh Pachter depicts a woman who summons the courage (and maybe more) to set things right. Experience a disconcerting path about human perception and memory for our “Final Exam” by Megan Arkenberg.