Black Static Fourteen – December 2009/January 2010
Edited by Andy Cox
Cover Artist: David Gentry
Review by Sam Tomaino
TTA Press ISBN/ITEM#: 1753-0709
Date: 21 January 2010
Links: TTA Press - Black Static / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Black Static is here with #14 and its got some excellent stories!
The fiction in this issue begins with "We, Who Live in the World" by Paul Finch, a cautionary tale about a vacation in the country. David Kelman is a television producer for the BBC. He has taken his wife, Sonja, for a weeklong getaway to a bleak, cold Dartmoor in January, staying in a cottage in a place called Wistman's Wood. His wife has been silent for most of the journey, in a deep depression after her third miscarriage in two years. They get in late and do little but go to bed. The next morning, he awakes to find her not in bed, or even in the cottage. He eventually finds her outside in the wood, saying she heard children's voices calling for their mother. Finch unfolds a gathering unease that leads to climax that will chill your bones.
Over the past year, I've have become quite a fan of Christopher Fowler and his Bryant and May detective series, but I've also enjoyed some of his short story collections. I was very pleased to see his "The Eleventh Day" in this issue. Mia Terebenin works in the St. Petersburg International Archive where she has the mundane task of "cataloguing documents pertaining to the postwar Russian-American oil initiatives". The building in which she works is gradually being abandoned and the archive is being transferred to a new facility. Most of her co-workers are gone at 6:48 PM on the last Friday of September and Mia has packed up all her things to leave the building for the last time. She doesn't usually take the elevator down from her seventh floor office as it is unreliable, but she sees someone in it already and rushes in as the doors close. She and the other passenger, a man who turns out to be an electrician called Galia are fine until the elevator abruptly stops between the 5th and 4th floors. Thus starts a day by day account as no one comes to their aid. Fowler is a master of non-supernatural horror and this one is a good example. The end will really send a shiver through you as it did me.
In "Hootchie Cootchie Man", Maurice Broaddus gives us Nathaniel, a man who makes his living stealing cars for hire. If people leave $200 under the floor mat, he'd steal the car so they could collect the insurance. This time, he's asked to steal a specific car, but more important, something inside it, an ancient book, one that shows how to connect patterns. Nathaniel steals the car and book, but things take an odd turn. Broaddus gives us a subtle but effective little tale.
"Survivor’s Guilt" by Rosanne Rabinowitz takes place in an alternate England filled with refugees from fascism, but not entirely free itself. Our narrator is a woman who has been in Spain and Germany and is, once more, hiding out. She is a different kind of refugee and she has come to see an author speak. But the speaker turns out to be an old comrade. The author give us too brief a glimpse of an alternate world and gives us a well-written story set in it.
Last of all, there's "Teen Spirit" by Gary McMahon. Helen is frustrated by her son, Todd, who has started to run with the wrong crowd. He has grown sullen, belligerent, and secretive. She decides to follow him to see what he has gotten himself into. She does not find what she expects, but this is no comfort in this chilling urban horror.
There is no magazine on the market like Black Static that regularly publishes horror as good as this and I urge you all to subscribe!