Here are two short stories that I’ve majorly dug recently. Both are, in their own way, quite horrifying, and both deal in horror that’s fundamentally about loss and powerlessness in loss – which is really the kind of horror that I find most powerful at this point in my life. The first one especially deals with the loss of loved ones, and not only their loss but the horror of watching them fall apart in front of you and not being able to do anything but be there with them.
Both stories also deal with injury and sickness, the destruction of the body – which is something else that resonates very strongly with me, given how much I’ve been writing about it lately.
Anyway, here we go:
Glen Hirshberg – “I Am Coming to Live in Your Mouth” (Nightmare Magazine, Feb 2014)
She was moving his hand against the inside of one of her wrists, now. Feeling the paper-thin membrane against her smoothness, right where the sleeve of her robe ended. Dazed, she moved his hand to her cheek. Held it there. Stroked once, so gently, down. Back up. Down again. Then she slid Joe’s hand to her neck. Down farther, into the V of her robe to brush one nipple. The other. How long had it been now? Two years? Three? They’d had such sweet touching in the eighteen months before what they’d always known was coming—or, coming back—arrived for good. Such patient touching, as though they’d had all the time in the world. Now his skin—what there was of it—just felt scratchy and hard, like a dried-out loofa.
I am coming to live in your mouth.
Damien Angelica Walters – “Green is for Silence, Blue is for Voice, Red is for Whole, Black is for Choice” (Daily Science Fiction)
Leda sleeps within a nightskin.
From the outside, it appears featureless, a chrysalis connected to the machinery below with tubes and wires. When the stitches dissolve, she knows it’s time to emerge. A week? A month? She doesn’t know. Time slips while inside the nightskin. Slips and falls away.
She wakes in stages. First, there is a subtle awareness, a shift in the light perhaps, as the stitches begin to give way and the skin loosens around her. The synthetic framework holding her muscles and tendons in place acknowledges the new space. Her limbs stretch out, pushing the gap open. The nightskin falls open; Leda within, like a peeled grape.