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The Dark Issue 51: The Dark, #51

The Dark Issue 51: The Dark, #51

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The Dark Issue 51: The Dark, #51

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Lançado em:
Jul 30, 2019


Each month The Dark brings you the best in dark fantasy and horror! Selected by award-winning editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Michael Kelly, and Sean Wallace and published by Prime Books, this issue includes two all-new stories and two reprints:

"It Is Not So, It Was Not So" by Megan Arkenberg
"Tether" by A. Katherine Black (reprint)
"Tiger, Tiger Bright" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
"Pomegranate Pomegranate" by Jack Westlake (reprint)

Lançado em:
Jul 30, 2019

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The Dark Issue 51 - Megan Arkenberg


Issue 51 • August 2019

It Is Not So, It Was Not So by Megan Arkenberg

Tether by A. Katherine Black

Tiger, Tiger Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Pomegranate Pomegranate by Jack Westlake

Cover Art: Boy Walking on Magic Circles by grandfailure

ISSN 2332-4392.

Edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Michael Kelly, and Sean Wallace.

Cover design by Garry Nurrish.

Copyright © 2019 by Prime Books.


It Is Not So, It Was Not So

by Megan Arkenberg


When she was twenty-one, Mrs. Voss visited a tarot reader at one of the Arts and Culture festivals that a local ladies’ society used to hold on the shore of Lake Michigan some weekends in early summer. The day had been tremendously hot for the season. She can’t remember the future, but she remembers the heat: the sleeveless aubergine blouse she wore, the sweat plastering it to her spine, and the cards sticking to the tarot reader’s wide, brown, ring-heavy fingers. He made a cross on his velvet tray and announced the cards’ names in a tone of sterile surprise, as though they were friends encountered in an unexpected place—the funeral of a casual acquaintance, or a train station on Sunday morning

She thinks of it now, thirty years later, as she sits at her kitchen table in a quilted housecoat, sorting the contents of her new tenant’s wastebasket. The wet heat of that summer afternoon seems like something she dreamt; it’s January in Chicagoland, and her venerable three-story Victorian catches a bad wind from the north. The vinyl tablecloth, usually tacky as spilled cola, has gone brittle with the cold. She lays out her tenant’s detritus—the drug store receipts and trifold bus schedules, index cards, a carbon-paper Hold Mail form never filed with the post office—and struggles to keep it from sliding away.

But still she thinks of the tarot, because like any divination, her wastebasket excavation tells her only what she already knows.

The Post Office form: her tenant hails from Los Angeles. Bus schedules: I threw a dart at a map, she’d told Mrs. Voss, and caught a bus to the place where it landed. Index cards: the tenant had also admitted that she taught comparative literature. Mrs. Voss runs her finger over lists of fairytale motifs and classifications, animal husbands, wives with secrets.

Sighing, she turns to the ghosts.

What do you make of it? she asks, getting up to pour another cup of coffee.

The first ghost perches in his usual spot on top of an aluminum bookcase, empty but for three or four cookbooks that once belonged to Mrs. Voss’s mother. He wears his favorite pea coat, khaki wool, the sleeves dripping phantom puddles onto her marbled linoleum. His eyes glow red.

She’s a student, he says promptly. Look at her suitcase. She doesn’t travel much but she intended to when she bought it. She thought she was going to write a book, present at conferences, take a job somewhere glamorous and cosmopolitan. For some reason her plans have changed.

Mrs. Voss brings her coffee back to the table and sets it between two stacks of receipts, careful not to spill. As she settles into her chair, straightening the robe across her breasts, she glances at the second ghost, who hovers at the back door.

This is how they’ll catch you, the dead woman says, all bitter satisfaction. The light from a streetlamp cuts through her on its way through the door’s lace-covered window. She is skeletally thin, her pink nails like talons at the tips of her fingers. Her name was Victoria Lee, but she went by Tori. You’re going to unravel, Pearl Voss, once someone starts shifting through your garbage.

Tug, tug, says the first ghost, whose name was Saul. He taps an immaterial fist against the bookcase. I almost unraveled her.

Yes, and look where it got you, Mrs. Voss mutters. The viciousness of the dead, their smug self-assurance, always catches her off guard. It’s worst when the two of them are together.

Sometimes there’s a third ghost, another former tenant: Gunther Olson, a pharmacist at the drugstore down the street, who appears in his black work slacks and a gray sweater. He lived here longer than either of the others, moving in before Tori Lee and leaving shortly after Saul. But he rarely shows himself now. Mrs. Voss isn’t certain that he’s dead. Just moved back to Chicago proper, she supposes—trickled into the city like water down a storm drain. That’s the way of it. Snowmelt runs into the lake, people run into the city.

Especially the ones you’d prefer to keep close.

It all goes to show, Mrs. Voss thinks, you can’t be too careful about who’s sleeping under your roof.

She was reluctant to take another tenant—had put it off until the last possible moment, until the bills spilled out of the tidy paper wallet she’d bought to contain

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