Cabinet of Wonders: Organ Sellers, Demon Possession & Night Riders

Reviews of weird fiction on the web, by Lauren Colie

War, by Arnold Böcklin, 1896 painting, public domain, See the Elephant

War, by Arnold Böcklin, 1896

Halloween may be over, but the horror marches on. This week’s selection gathers together dark sides of woman and beast alike. Live on the edge; let your base desires revel in the badness. Read on to face the scary around us and the creepy within.

A Review of Natural Skin by Alyssa Wong at Lightspeed Magazine

“I don’t have a goddamn port,” I say, showing him the patch sewn onto my jacket. The government emblem for Natural Status—no bodily modifications, no drugs, the basic requirements for government jobs—is stitched there in silver thread. “You’re barking up the wrong tree, and you’ll be lucky if I don’t report you at the next police station for it.”

“Bullshit.” He won’t get out of my way, slushing through the muck ahead of me. “Anyone can buy a jacket. You wouldn’t be down here if you weren’t looking for a little something extra, and you’re about as Natural as a two-headed dog. Those eyelid folds are definitely fake. I can even see the scars.”

Plastic surgery going wrong is nothing unusual…but going this dark is something else entirely. When there’s pride to be had in an unmodified body, the pursuit of natural beauty has gone extreme – and deadly. You’ll never believe what can be bought for only a thousand dollars.

Surprisingly disturbing and filled with vengeance, Alyssa Wong’s creation unpacks the deepest end of sibling rivalry and jealousy. It’s a dark, gritty, quick read well-worth the time invested for the macabre thrill of black market body mods and some seriously bad sisterhood.

Read it HERE

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A Review of Migration by Tananarive Due at Nightmare Magazine

 

Nana gave her a touch-up ceremony when she was sixteen, at Mama’s insistence. The second time, the tea had made Jaz throw up, and Nana, barely able to stand by then, said it was the demon being expelled—but sometimes things are exactly what they appear to be, no need to reach for lofty meanings. Whatever was inside of her had said Fuck your tea, old woman; which, coincidentally, had mirrored Jaz’s thoughts at the time. No sixteen-year-old has time for constant interrogation about her behavior vis a vis possible possession—every bad mood, every cutting glance, every tsk of a sucked tooth—so yeah, she’d thought Fuck your tea, old lady while she spat up her stomach, and it only occurred to her later—years later, on the beach—that the voice in her head had not been her own.

There’s nowhere to run when your demons are on the inside. Across the country from small-town memories of bad behavior, Jaz is safely affianced to a prep school dream boat. Except she wants him dead. These passions she can’t control are horrifying, but all-too-familiar. And, Nana’s not around for an exorcism. What’s a possessed woman to do?

Tananarive Due doesn’t hesitate to blend southern superstition and commentary about race into a weirdly fantastic and spooky tale of possession. It’s vibrant, it’s dangerous – it’s a little sad – and it’s free to enjoy if you’re seeking a chill down to your bones.

 

Read it HERE

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A Review of The Night Cyclist by Stephen Graham Jones at Tor.com

I held them out across the muck, through the misting rain, and in response, this night cyclist, he snarled.

I’d never seen anybody actually do that before. Like a dog you were happy was on a chain.

“What?” I said, only loud enough for myself, really. He was already whipping his bike away, standing to granny gear it through the silt just under the water.

When he looked back, his dank black hair was plastered to his white face.

And his eyes—they were all pupil.

Like smoke, like a whisper, he faded once he made the dry concrete.

For maybe ten seconds, I considered what had just happened.

And then I saw it for what it was: An invitation. A challenge. A dare.

There’s a war going on…a war between cyclists and drivers over road rights. And mixed up in the middle is an other-worldly night rider and a cyclist-turned-chef out for a night sprint. The world slips by in flashes of rain, blood and the yearning to fly forever on an aluminum frame.

Stephen Graham Jones demands sympathy for this bloodthirsty athlete – those kids were trying to pull driftwood across a bike path, after all – and sheds new light on the many things that can go bump in the night. Settle in with The Night Cyclist to feel your heart lifted by yearning and the seduction of freedom while it twists in disgust over the grisly road to get there.

Read it HERE

 

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