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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Black Static #67, January/February 2019

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Black Static #67, January/February 2019

Do Not Pet” by Ralph Robert Moore

Shore Leave” by Mike O’Driscoll
The Silence of Prayer” by Kristi DeMeester
In the Fog, There’s Nothing but Grey” by Michelle Ann King
All We Inherit” by Eric Schaller

Reviewed by Tara Grímravn

This 67th issue of Black Static brings three novelettes and two short stories to the table. No matter what type of horror one might prefer, fans of the genre will find something that appeals to them in this issue.

Do Not Pet” by Ralph Robert Moore

Karl’s son recently passed away, a victim of suicide. In an attempt to gain some form of comfort and reassure himself that there is indeed life after death, even for suicides, Karl goes on a very special—and very expensive—safari to see real ghosts. Once there, both his true nature and his true intentions are revealed. The first novelette in the bunch, Moore’s story was a little bit of a slow burn in places, although it did help somewhat in building tension as the tale moved towards the action scenes. The ending was a little predictable and certainly one that the reader was led to hope for, as little by little, more of the real Karl is revealed. Still, it was a satisfying conclusion to a decent story built around the unique premise of a ghost safari.

Shore Leave” by Mike O’Driscoll

Nick, a sailor, is tormented by the events of his past, seeing the faces of his ex-wife and family everywhere he goes. All he wants is to forget. While on shore leave, he meets a man who promises to make him do just that, for a price. But bargains with monsters don’t always go as planned. The second novelette in this issue, Driscoll’s take on the djinn mythos was interesting, and I’d even venture to say there may be a hint of Lovecraftian influence in his concept of what a djinn may be. While overall the story was good, there were places where it got somewhat confusing, mainly during the climactic scene. And, too, the strange vision of the man with backwards legs was an odd detail. This particular omen sort of comes full circle at the end but everything preceding it seems to hint that it should have been given more weight in the story than it actually was.

The Silence of Prayer” by Kristi DeMeester

A woman dwells in the woods with a man she believes to be an underworld god. She hangs on his every word and, because on some level she yearns for connection, is tormented during those moments when he rejects her. When he brings an eight-year-old girl he’s clearly kidnapped, she begins to see the truth of her situation. DeMeester’s story is one of blind devotion and religious zealotry. Highly character-driven and rooted deeply in the narrator’s psyche, it’s slow, tense, and eerie.

In the Fog, There’s Nothing but Grey” by Michelle Ann King

Honey runs a bar a little ways off the beaten path. As the usual regulars sit around with their drinks, a strange woman comes in, putting everyone on edge. She tells them she can’t remember who she is, having lost her memory “to the fog,” which apparently is also a very real threat outside. It’s very short, being just three pages in total, and moves fast even though there’s no real action that takes place—just a strange woman whose appearance and mannerisms are unsettling to the bar’s regulars. It quickly becomes obvious that something major has happened outside and that the fog is not just a reference to the woman’s amnesia; it’s something far more dangerous. This was another very character-driven tale, depending largely on the interplay between characters and the narrator’s own internal struggles and musings on a person’s true nature, a hint to which can be found in the title.

All We Inherit” by Eric Schaller

David and his young son Brad have gone to Vermont to deal with a break-in at his late father’s house. While there, Brad sees a large buck every night that speaks to him, trying to convince the child to follow it into the woods. David thinks it’s just his son’s imagination. After being warned by a close friend that the deer is supernatural and they need to leave for their safety, he refuses to believe her, determined to finish the business with the cops. “All We Inherit” is the third and final novelette in this issue of Black Static. Schaller’s story moved very quickly, the tension rising higher and higher as the events became increasingly ominous and more information is revealed about David’s father. The climactic ending is foreshadowed quite well throughout the piece.