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The Dark Issue 60: The Dark, #60

The Dark Issue 60: The Dark, #60

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The Dark Issue 60: The Dark, #60

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Lançado em:
Apr 28, 2020


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


"Sleeping in Metal and Bone" by Kristi DeMeester
"The Whalers Song" by Ray Cluley (reprint)
"Driving with Ghosts" by Clara Madrigano
"Honor Thy Mother" by Angela Slatter (reprint)

Lançado em:
Apr 28, 2020

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The Dark Issue 60 - Kristi DeMeester


Issue 60 • May 2020

Sleeping in Metal and Bone by Kristi DeMeester

The Whalers Song by Ray Cluley

Driving with Ghosts by Clara Madrigano

Honor Thy Mother by Angela Slatter

Cover Art: Scary Clown (3D) by denissimonov

ISSN 2332-4392.

Edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Sean Wallace.

Cover design by Garry Nurrish.

Copyright © 2020 by Prime Books.


Sleeping in Metal and Bone

by Kristi DeMeester

It is summer the first time I dream of hooks at the end of my fingers. The cold metal buried in the soft tissue and then curving outward into a small, delicate point. How I creep through the shadowed damp of our backyard, the odor of soil rich and deep as I hunt through the underbrush you’ve promised for years to clear away, and snare tiny, wriggling creatures before stuffing them into my mouth and biting down.

In the morning, the sheets are tangled and sweaty, and the air is already stifling, the opened windows useless, and I tell Henry all the dreams I did not have. Dreams of traffic and lunches and my mother without her makeup and making eggs in the kitchen of my girlhood, and he drops a kiss on my forehead and goes to put on his socks.

What about your taxes? Did you dream about that, too? he says, and I bring a fingertip to my teeth. Bite down. Feel the gentle give of flesh.

A girl can hope. He laughs, and I laugh, and then there is coffee and attention focused on our phones—texts and emails and notifications to catch up on after so many hours away—and the daily ritual of rushing to an office and a classroom that carry an imprint of the people we think we are.

I drive and bite my fingernails down to the quick, nipping at the cuticles until blood appears. Nasty habit. My mother used to soak my fingers in hot sauce to keep me from doing it, and the burn of it became lovely. I don’t think she understood the sort of thing she was creating inside me. Do mothers ever understand how they stain their daughters? The monsters they create?

I spend the day teaching lessons I don’t remember planning and telling myself I’m not hungry and that my fingers don’t ache. There are no hooks in this wakeful world, and the loss of them feels somehow devastating. Like waking to a cold bed that once contained warmth. Like a handful of dirt in an endless, gaping hole.

On the way home, I stop at the store and order a pound of roast beef at the deli counter. Thick slices. I gobble it down in the car and lick the pink smears from the bag. I bury the bag in the trashcan, and when Henry comes home, I’ve brushed my teeth. Flossed.

Dinner thoughts? he says and sets his phone on the counter. It buzzes, and he turns it over.

Burgers. Or steak, I say, and hope Henry thinks I’m iron deficient. Maybe suggest a supplement. Tell me how good it would be for me. For the empty part of my body. For the thing he would like to place inside it and then name as his own.

Instead, he turns away, taking his phone with him. Fine. Make a reservation, yeah?

Henry vanishes upstairs while I dial the number of one of those chain steakhouses that likes to parade itself with the shiny varnish of upscale when in reality the steaks are delivered weekly. Frozen and individually vacuum-packed and then boiled before thrown on a grill top. Mashed potatoes in a vat. Décor pumped out of some industrial warehouse. Vases and framed pictures identical to all the rest. Tasteful with just enough faux chic to appeal to suburban mothers.

I don’t care as long as there is blood. And a knife. Yes, most certainly a knife.

I ask the server for a glass of cabernet, and Henry lifts an eyebrow, gives a slight shake of the head. Water is fine, I say instead and clench my teeth. Henry orders bourbon on the rocks, drains it, and then orders another.

Tough day? I ask and sip my water. It tastes of Sulphur. The brackish water of a marsh. But it’s the better choice for me. For my body. Henry’s platitudes about my health float unspoken between us. I should be pure. Cleared of anything that could pollute or damage or destroy. The typical patterns of my body cleansed so the blood, the loss, the doctor’s visits, the palpitations of my abdomen, and deep ache in the core of my body would be absolved. My body cleared of what’s blocked it from doing what God intended. Henry’s mother’s words. God’s natural intentions, she’d said with a nod of the head, and Henry had picked her phrases up with the solemnity of prayer.

Just busy. Already his second glass is empty, and I want to lean over it and inhale, but I hold myself still and watch the other servers carry trays stacked with meat and dense loaves of bread out of the kitchen. My mouth waters. I take another sip and pretend the ice is something that could dissolve me from the inside out.

Did you take your vitamin this morning? Henry taps his glass with the outer edge of his wedding ring.

Of course.

Good. When’s your next appointment?

Next Friday. 10:30.

I’ll take the morning off. Come with you.

You don’t have to, I say, and he brings the empty glass to his lips and then drops it back to the table, rattles the ice as if it could shake another droplet of alcohol loose. I wait for him to say that he wants to be sure I’m okay, to be there for support, but his phone buzzes, and he glances down. Turns the phone over.

You don’t think I made the appointment, I say, and his forehead creases for a small moment, but then smooths, his face placid. Controlled. A mask of calm.

Don’t start, Rilla, he says, and I am going to respond, going to tell him about the smell of blood when it drops out of you in heavy clots, but here’s the waiter with our food, and my hunger is stronger than my need to reveal the details only I know and understand to Henry.

I forget my fingers are no longer hooks as I stare down at my plate, the edges rich with grease and pink fluid, and reach for the meat, ready to bring it to my lips, but I remember myself and grip the knife, the fork and cut a piece too large for my mouth and then stuff it in anyway.

The room vanishes. Henry vanishes. The vitamins and morning temperature taking and tracking apps and doctor’s appointments and prodding with metal tools in raw, dripping parts of myself, all of it drops away, and there is only the action of my teeth

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