Black Static 56 - Jan/Feb 2017
Edited by Andy Cox
Cover Artist: From Hell by Joachim Luetke
Review by Sam Tomaino
TTA Press Magazine ISBN/ITEM#: 1753-0709
Date: 29 January 2017
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Black Static #56 is here and it's got their usual good stories!
The fiction begins with the "The Green Eye" by Scott Nicolay. -+- This starts out with a story about an incident in the narrator's childhood involving the finding of what seems to be a Revolutionary War cannonball by his cousin and him and the strange event afterwards. Then we get what is a "story note" by the author on what we just read. He says that it's set in "Middlebrook, a fictionalized version of my New Jersey hometown, Middleton Township in Middleton County." There is no such county in New Jersey and a USPS search found no such township anywhere. He does mention Englishtown which is a place in Monmouth Couny, though. I assume this is all still just fictional. He tells a story of a less fantastic but slightly scary incident if his youth. The story is rich in nostalgia and reminds one of Jean Shepherd (who he mentions). He talks a lot about old Mad Magazines, too. All this makes for a very enjoyable read.
"Smoke, Ash, and Whatever Comes After" by Eric Schaller -+- While his wife is out shopping, Peter's daughter insists that he destroy her clothes bureau which she says "bit" her. They remove clothes, including some stitched together like a doll that Tracy says she made as a "little sister". Then, she insists that they burn it. Things get stranger for Peter after that. One of those stories that gets more and more creepy as you go along.
"Border Country" by Danny Rhodes -+- Rob is a divorced father seeking to spend time with his son, Max, at a camping site that has seen better days. They visit a nearby cave that was said to have housed a witch. The story goes that she gave the townspeople sacks to bury their children in and that the next day they died. They burned her at the stake. Rob thinks there is something lurking in the dark. Effectively told but Rob is not a very likable character.
"What We Are Moulded After" by Eugenia M. Triantafyllou -+- Eleni's husband died in a war and she has created something out of clay to replace him. This works for a while, but one incident causes a problem. More follow. All this is from the viewpoint of the created creature, making for a very good tale.
"The Solitary Truth" by Charles Wilkinson -+- Our narrator and his wife are in their 80s and don't leave the house very often. Agnes asks our narrator about Jaguar, their cat, all the time but the narrator tells us that the cat is dead. We think that has Agnes is delusional. But her reaction to her husband wondering if their daughter, Marcella, will visit them makes us think otherwise. An incident at the end confirms our suspicions. Good character study.
"The Maneaters" by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam -+- Scarlett's grandmother is always telling her that there is something different about her. Her grandmother's relationship with her grandfather has some horrifying stories associated with it. Scarlett, herself, was involved in an incident when she was a child that seems to indicate that she takes after her grandmother. Grandmother reads tarot cards that predict disaster for Scarlett's boyfriend, Alex. Is she a monster or isn't she? This one has a nice chill.
The fiction concludes with "Stanislav in Foxtown" by Ian Steadman. -+- Stan works as a fryer at The Fried Chicken Coop for an oppressive boss named Mr. Sharples. He sends the money he can spare to his family in the old country. Starting slow at first, he winds up feeding the leftover chicken bones to the foxes on the ruined estate on which he lives. He forges an unusual alliance with them. Another unsettling story with a good build-up.