Tag: Weird fiction

Optic Nerves by Catherine Yeates

I used to think that the crawling sensation on my back was a symptom. It began as an occasional twinge and grew into an ache, passing from the base of my neck down to my lower back in waves. Perhaps it was some manifestation of anxiety or dread; it certainly occurred alongside those things. The unease in my gut. My clenched jaw. The tightness in my chest.

Those sensations hit me in turn as I suffered through my first Medical Neuroscience exam in graduate school. Dread overtook me when I reached the sixth question and realized I was woefully underprepared. I already had been subjected to multiple anatomy courses in undergrad, not to mention that my earlier courses as a graduate student had already covered much of basic neuroanatomy. Yet, I had not prepared for the specificity or style of questions on this exam and my skin crawled with anxiety. By the time I reached the section on brain development, my mind had gone blank. Sweat gathered on my brow as I contemplated the possibility that perhaps my own brain had failed to develop at all.

What an Answer’s Worth by Tyler Plofker

I found the note, transcribed below, stuck in a yellowing copy of Jacques the Fatalist, borrowed from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library a few months ago. I submitted it to the online magazine you’re now reading because it seems to be what the author would have wanted—to make sure the contents continue on.

The note wasn’t dated or signed, but it looked fairly old (semi-brown, stained in parts, and wrinkly, but not falling apart).

Placebo by Andreas Smith

We didn’t expect her to be much fun and we were right – she wasn’t. Not that any of us blamed her: she had been through a lot and was destined to go through a lot more over the following year. All this while she herself was getting … well, getting less and less. It was right, though, that our hosts, Ann and Bradley, invited her to our annual Christmas get-together, along with the usual crew: me, of course, then Dana and Emory, and Ann’s oldest friend, going all the way back to secondary school, George, the homeopath, therefore the only one among us who did anything ‘interesting’, that is, out of the ordinary run of professional occupations that people like us normally follow: an accountant, an advertising art director, a doctor, and a sports and talent agent, that sort of thing.

Full Stop at the End of the World by J.S. Watts

Mavis Tuddenham couldn’t remember when she first realised the world was shrinking – really realised that it was really, actually shrinking, to be precise. Mavis always liked to be accurate about things.

She couldn’t recall any indication whatsoever of a diminishment in its size during her childhood and early adulthood. The world just was, and the universe, well, that was even bigger, mind bogglingly bigger, so mind bogglingly bigger that your mind couldn’t grasp just how humungously big it actually was, however hard you tried.

Marrow by T.G. Hyndewood

It was an in-between sort of creature. If nothing else, they could agree on that. And as they waited for the others in the last light of the frozen hills, Flanagan was beginning to wish they hadn’t caught it. When he’d first glimpsed it writhing in the snare, he’d mistaken it for a child; it was only after Miller had seen it too that he’d accepted it as real and not a fiction of his senses. They’d been staring at the snow-sealed landscape for so long now that no one trusted their eyes. The sea of white was hypnotic, with a lurid, febrile quality that the hunger played with in unsettling ways.

Tugging on the rope, Flanagan heard a stumbling of hooves and the same whimper he’d first mistaken for an infant’s.

The Mystical Medium Hotline by Will Musgrove

My line blinks red, so I press the button on my headset to answer. A woman’s whisper I don’t recognize says my name, my real name. For liability purposes, we’re not supposed to use our real names. The operator probably goofed and let it slip when transferring the call. It happens. Leaning back in my chair, I contemplate hanging up. It’s Monday, and I get the same hourly pay if I pick up or not. Plus, it’s tough going into a reading cold. When I can’t get into character first, I have trouble taking everything seriously. The whole back-and-forth feels like an elaborate prank call.

“Eric?” the woman says again, my hand hovering over my ear.

“I think you might have dialed wrong, miss. This is the Mystical Medium Hotline. There’s no Eric here.”

The Unit by Joe Hakim

There’s no sudden realisation, no great epiphany. It’s just the slow creep of comprehension, like waking up from a long sleep, that brief moment when you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming.

It’s like an archaeologist placing a sheet of tracing paper on an engraving, and then rubbing it with charcoal. Slowly, with a bit of effort, a picture begins to emerge.

The Shop That Ate Hull by Joe Hakim

To say I’d become adrift in my thirties was an understatement. Imagine a small peddle-boat in the middle of a dirty pond in an abandoned theme park: that was me.

My friends and acquaintances had all acquired things like spouses, careers, and mortgages, while I remained in an arrested adolescence. I lived in a small, one-bedroom flat just around the corner from where I grew up and continued to work in the kind of minimum-wage retail jobs that I’d been working in since dropping out of university over a decade ago.