The spooky season is done and gone, and all that remains are cobwebs.
Keep the vibes going by immersing yourselves in some creepy and haunting horror short fiction and poetry. I even found some late-release Halloween-themed publications, too. This month, Into the Night features stories from Uncharted Magazine, The Dread Machine, and more.
If you came across any great horror pieces in November that weren’t featured below, please drop them in the comments! I’d love to give them a read.
‘Grind‘ by A. P. Thayer (Uncharted Magazine)
Structured like interactive fiction with dead ends, A. P. Thayer’s ‘Grind’ in the recent issue of Uncharted Magazine kept me frustrated for most of the story, but I did like the turns of phrases and how the words came together on the page. My frustration rose out of the fact that I went into the story thinking it was interactive fiction because that’s how it was summarized, but there is no interactivity about it. The structure is merely a form the story is in without any connection to the mechanics of interactive fiction. It wasn’t until the 3rd or 4th reading of ‘Grind’ that I gave up on trying to make fetch work and just accepted that there wasn’t a satisfactory end to choices, which feels like the overall theme within the piece.
‘Crossroads‘ by Tiffany Morris (Nightmare Magazine)
I don’t usually do this, but sometimes hearing directly from the author helps connect parts of a poem to deeper meanings. Tiffany Morris wrote at the beginning of her horror poem in November’s issue of Nightmare Magazine: “This poem was inspired by folklore about devils and stories I’ve heard about The Devil visiting various communities. I used mistranslations of different cryptid lore and paired it with English and Mi’kmaw language—as Mi’kmaq is a verb-based language, it’s interesting to me to bring it into a genre where objects and subjects are alive and, sometimes, supernaturally alive.” Using this, Morris creates a new-to-me myth within the poem ‘Crossroads’ of the devil and how he operates among us and teases us with fear.
‘Bitter‘ by Kelli Lage (The Hallowzine)
Kelli Lage’s poem ‘Bitter’ appears in the second issue of The Hallowzine, released at the end of last month. While the whole issue is Halloween-themed and filled with spooky art, recordings, poems, and stories, Lage’s was the only one that stood up and grabbed me. From the first unexpected line to the last, Lage fully evoked Halloween and those spooky nighttime moments specific to the fall. Mixed in with the unexpected are stark and clear images of generic Halloween symbols turned fresh. And since I read this after reading Avra Margariti’s story below, the mention of teeth and mouths made my own teeth itch.
‘The Architect‘ by Avra Margariti (The Dread Machine)
Content warning: body horror
Teeth. So many teeth. Avra Margariti’s ‘The Architect’ was probably the most unique and surprising horror story I read all month for Into the Night. A huge part of me doesn’t even want to summarize the story because, well, you just have to read it. While the mid-point surprise threw me out of the story for a few beats, I wasn’t disappointed when I eventually came back into the story. All horrifying and sensual and touching, Margariti somehow makes body horror beautiful. I’m still on the fence about whether or not the twist worked for me, but I was refreshed by the fact that it happened, delighted at how the story ended, and still absolutely disgusted by the mere thought of teeth.
‘Drip‘ by Shreya Vikram (Uncharted Magazine)
Content warning: murder and abuse
Another short story from the recent issue of Uncharted Magazine is ‘Drip’ by Shreya Vikram. Out of all the horror stories and poems featured in this month’s Into the Night, ‘Drip’ is the one that haunts me the most, and it’s because of the stellar, terrifying character voice that Vikram uses here. Trapped in an abusive home with an ancient faucet, a young man goes mad listening to the steady drip that no one else seems to hear. At the beginning, I wasn’t too concerned with what was going on, but I needed to learn more about the character and see where he would go. And as I moved deeper into the voice and story, it felt like I, too, was trapped in the house with the faucet and bodies and dripping.
‘Bodies‘ by Chisom Umeh (Omenana Speculative Fiction)
Chisom Umeh’s ‘Bodies’ was actually published at the end of last month in the October Issue 19 edition of Omenana Speculative Fiction Magazine, but I only just read the issue in November and am so glad I did! The African speculative fiction magazine rarely disappoints. ‘Bodies’ follows a man who is split between two different bodies in two different places. Whenever he goes to sleep, he wakes up in the other body. Everything is as stressful and chaotic as you’d think for someone caught between, but things become dangerous when one of the families believes they can cure him. Even though the theme of body-sharing has been explored before in speculative fiction, Umeh employs a voice and tone that makes the story less about the mechanism of body-sharing and more about the person trapped between the two forms. And that made ‘Bodies’ an exciting and compelling read.
‘Tomatoes‘ by Eugenia Triantafyllou (khōréō)
khōréō’s 4th issue was the magazine’s first themed issue, and they went with food, a ripe field for horror. It’s also a great place to explore our cultural roots around family and history. And Eugenia Triantafyllou does that with her short story ‘Tomatoes’ about magic, tradition, and the sweet taste of slow revenge. A young woman watches as her family’s tomato farm dies from blight and disease, and her sister, with all the power, runs straight into the arms (and fields) of the enemy, a wealthy corn-farming family. But love isn’t always what it seems, as the sisters learn all too well. Triantafyllou balances the dark in the story with the emotional pulse of a family falling apart and dying, and in the process creates a wonderfully touching account of death and love.
As always, I hope you found a new magazine, writer, or story to satiate your horror hunger. Also, if you have a favorite publication that puts out excellent horror poetry or fiction, please tell me about it by leaving a comment on this article or dropping me a line.
The same goes for writers and editors of publications. I would love to connect and read the horror stories and poems you’re publishing! Just send me an email.