Edited by bestselling, award-winning anthologist John Joseph Adams, NIGHTMARE is a digital magazine of horror and dark fantasy. In its pages, you will find all kinds of horror and dark fantasy, from zombie stories and haunted house tales, to visceral psychological horror. Every month NIGHTMARE will bring you a mix of original fiction and reprints, and featuring a variety of authors: from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best new voices you haven’t heard of yet. When you read NIGHTMARE, it is our hope that you’ll see where horror comes from, where it is now, and where it’s going. The NIGHTMARE podcast, produced by Grammy Award-winning narrator and producer Stefan Rudnicki of Skyboat Media, is presented twice a month, featuring original audio fiction and classic reprints.
Here's the Latest Episode from Nightmare Magazine – Horror and Dark Fantasy Story Podcast (Audiobook | Short Stories) – John Joseph Adams (Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy):
Our bones are cold. It is the type of cold that comes only after death, and it will never leave us now. We mourn what must have come before: hands holding ours. Sunlight warming the tops of our heads. Cats on our laps and nightclubs where we danced out of our minds and Pop-Tarts straight from the toaster. Life, pulsing hot and fat beneath our fingers. Mother keeps us in a chest freezer. | Copyright 2020 by Claire Wrenwood. Narrated by Kate Orsini.
On Saturday afternoon we piled into Ben’s old Civic, the five of us and two dogs, and as we drove out to the edge of the state forest to hunt mushrooms, we all kept a hand on each other, in case someone vanished. Ben was driving as usual, and instead of me up front sat Hunter, his new girlfriend. They’d been together almost a year, but as a far as I was concerned, Hunter would always be Ben’s new girlfriend. It was me, Mara, and Andre in the backseat, holding each other’s hands. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
The house is haunted, of course. That’s why the rent is so cheap. It doesn’t matter that it’s only April, that ghosts dream quietly when the world is in full bloom. Nearly any haunting will be small: flickering lights, a mysterious lullaby, an intrusive thought chasing the living from room to room. Fatalities are incredibly rare, though most people, even the disbelievers, fail to find that reassuring. December is not most people, not when it comes to the dead, but she promised herself twenty years ago: when I’m grown up, when I can choose, I’ll never live with a ghost again. | Copyright 2020 by Carlie St. George. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
You are a spore, barely more than a twinkle in your many parents’ breeding-breathing air. They are your family, among other things, living as a colony in the dim light beneath an abandoned office building. They fill the already-damp air with the encouraging words of hopes and aspirations for you and your siblings. And though you are nothing more than a speck in the air, the sentiment is warm, just as the earthy mulch you settle into that embraces you like a blanket. | Copyright 2020 by Ashley Deng. Narrated by Janina Edwards.
The maypole dancers are restricted by what’s left of the ribbons. I watch them squeeze past each other with shining faces flushed pink from the heat. Too pink to be skin. More like meat. To my right, John’s wickerwork bath chair crunches as he shifts. “Raymond tells me you’re writing again,” he says. I swallow a scowl and nod. Raymond---Ray---John’s doctor. That man can’t smell gas without striking a match. | Copyright 2020 by G.V. Anderson. Narrated by Justine Eyre.
Hello. Thanks for coming. I know I was a bit mysterious on the phone. This is my house. I live here because a house should be an expression of the individual, and nothing in my life has defined me as an individual more than my hatred for Luke. Yes, the same Luke. You were married to Luke for a while, weren’t you? Yes, I know you endured a couple of years of that. I know how he sucked you in and made you his, and then, once he had you under his roof, revealed for the first time who he really was. | Copyright 2020 by Adam-Troy Castro. Narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir.
When Amada first sees the hotel, she feels her luck has changed at last. One moment she is trudging beneath the palm trees and café umbrellas of Miami’s Ocean Drive and the next it is upon her: an imposing three-story building in the old art deco style, its white façade gleaming in the late-afternoon sun. Amada stops in the middle of the busy sidewalk, shifting from one sore foot to the other, and stares up at the hotel. | Copyright 2020 by Yohanca Delgado and Claire Wrenwood. Narrated by Pandora Kew.
My eyes snap open at night. I float out of the tunnel under the concrete wall and settle on the roof of the abandoned hostel. The starry chaos of Yaowarat stretches before me like rows of crowded teeth. It’s tourist season, and my belly aches with hunger at the sight of all the farangs: slurping shark fin soup in restaurants, being measured for crocodile skin suits in tailor shops, ducking into tuk-tuks with their sunburnt arms around a local girl or two. | Copyright 2020 by Millie Ho. Narrated by Justine Eyre.
W--- went to the vampire club a couple of nights after E---’s death. It was on M--- Street, in an oddly-shaped bar. When W--- gazed at it from the outside, when he stared through the dirty windows and advertisements, the old stools and tables looked like the rotten teeth in a giant’s mouth. The bar was struggling. W--- hadn’t seen more than two or three people in it for months. In an attempt to bring people in, the owner had begun to organise events. | Copyright 2020 by Ben Peek. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.
The legend of Flashlight Man began in the upper Midwestern United States, grounded in rural areas. A variation on mirror summoning, it went like this: you lie on your back in bed, your face turned toward the nearest wall, then shut your eyes and whisper, “Flashlight Man, Flashlight Man, comes with a click, see me if you can.” Repeat three times. Then you fall asleep. The tricky part in verifying who encounters Flashlight Man is that it happens during dream cycles, so you’re on your honor to accurately report how long you last. | Copyright 2020 by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
One of Dr. Harrow’s survey groups included a church known as The Dawn Triumphant. The congregation believes we are living in a time of punishing darkness. Half of them were told to sit in a bright room for an hour and speak to their gods. The other half were told to sit in a dark room and do the same. After a month, every single member of the latter group reported hearing a voice. They called out to Him and received His word in return. | Copyright 2020 by Benjamin Percy. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
The first man stands at the bedside of his sweating wife. He is watching their baby emerge from inside her. What he does not know is that he is watching their son destroy her insides, shredding, making sure there will be no others to follow. This man’s wife is screaming and screaming and the sound gives the man a headache, an electric thing like lightning, striking the middle of his forehead. He reaches to hold her hand, to remind her of his presence. | Copyright 2020 by ’Pemi Aguda. Narrated by Judy Young.
For today’s question, we visited this small town of about 1700 people. As per our practice of the last six decades, they perceived us as a television news crew, and were compelled to speak truthfully, without artifice, self-consciousness, or concern for the regard of their friends and family. All the interviews took place at the same instant, and all were immediately wiped from memory an instant later, returning the participants to their daily routines. | Copyright 2020 by Adam-Troy Castro. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
It is good of you to write, and I thank you for it: I am glad at last to hear from another of my kind---and, above all, to have another of my kind acknowledge me. I have indeed, since my return, heard many voices, seen many faces, but the individuals to whom they belong neither hear nor see me in return. I shake them, shout in their ears, but they do not respond. It is as if, for them, I do not exist. But why then, I wonder, would I exist for you? What is different about you? To put it bluntly, what is wrong with you? | Copyright 2020 by Brian Evenson. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
Your camera thinks it spotted a familiar face. “Cameras don’t think,” Annie said, looking down at her phone. “Who taught this thing to identify specific faces? Who thought that was a good idea?” “Ok, neuromantic,” Jonah scoffed at her, looking over. “Not everything is a part of the panopticon. Calm your tits.” “It’s just weird that it thinks,” Annie continued, loading more Diet Cokes into the communal fridge. “And why does that make me a new romantic?” | Copyright 2020 by Meg Elison. Narrated by Justine Eyre.
When Milo got to the river’s edge, where the log fern gave way to a rough bank, Buck was already there. Shirt tied around his waist, his lean thirteen-year-old’s torso glossed with sweat, bent over with his hands on his knees. There was something in his face Milo didn’t like. “Drop something?” Buck startled and turned. “Nothing important. What took you so long?” Milo swatted away flies that had found a perch on his glasses. | Copyright 2019 by Joanna Parypinski. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
It wasn’t unusual for my brother to send me strange videos he found on the internet. If I’d had enough to drink, sometimes I’d even watch. They were all about pain, in one way or another, and often made me feel as though someone had poured concrete down my throat. There are afterimages burned into my memory that cannot be removed; grainy flashes of a woman swallowed up by an escalator, handing her child to a stranger before being pulled under; black and white street fight footage that ends with a neck snapped back. | Copyright 2019 by Dan Stintzi. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
The teeth in the neck gambit obviously starts all of this. Don’t think I’ll forget that. Don’t expect for one moment you’re going to get off too easily. You might not be the only one to blame, but you’re still mostly to blame. For how you come to me when I’m by myself, a lonely girl in a goblin market where some treasures are best left undiscovered. Tonight, my mother’s hosting another soirée, all in my honor, a way to find me the perfect husband. She doesn’t care what I have to say about it. | Copyright 2019 by Gwendolyn Kiste. Narrated by Kate Orsini.
There is a man locked in the dollhouse. He is not a doll-sized man. He is a full-sized man. The structure is designed for miniatures, and he is trapped inside it, knees up against his chest, head scraping the ceiling. He only fits because the architects of the little house equipped it with a palatial foyer, the kind that, in real houses, is designed to make visitors gape at the sheer magnificence of the space. The effect is lost on the full-sized man. To him, it’s more like a cabinet. | Copyright 2019 by Adam-Troy Castro. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
After half a barrel of foaming sour pulque, Ignacio and Hector start the long stumble home. The night is cold but they’re still warm, still cocooned, and they talk in circles about the business, the vermiculture that will turn Oaxaca’s gardens into jungles and fill their pockets besides. Their families’ futures in a tub of worms. If the shadows on the street are deeper than usual, if the barking of the dogs is more desperate, if the waning moon is unnaturally sharp, a shard of bone from a desecrated grave, they do not notice. | Copyright 2019 by Rich Larson. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
Here’s the thing about surviving a slumber party massacre: no one really wants you around anymore. All your friends are dead, and your mom is dead, and you get shuffled off to live with your miserable Aunt Katherine, who blames you for getting her sister killed because she’s an awful human being like that. And you try to move on, but you don’t know how because your nightmares are constant and therapy is hard, especially when a new killer arrives and murders your therapist with his own pencil. | Copyright 2019 by Carlie St. George. Narrated by Judy Young.
The girl has no name. As often as internet forums try to dub one for her, nothing ever sticks. One week there will be a consensus for a name befitting a drowned girl, an agglomeration of classic and cult horror tropes of long-haired, white-dressed dead women, and soon after there is no trace of what it was. No one remembered. Any posts or recordings mentioning the postulated name will have blank spaces where that name should have been. | Copyright 2019 by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
A note to the reader: I purchased these letters at the bazaar outside the gates of the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2006. I was working that winter for a humanitarian organization in Kabul. The bazaar was a row of shipping containers and battered tarpaulins along the road to the base’s fortified gates. Military vehicles rumbled past, splattering sleet and mud. Inside the containers, merchants warmed their chapped hands before makeshift propane heaters and haggled over cold piles of misappropriated objects. | Copyright 2019 by Ray Nayler. Narrated by Kate Orsini & Stefan Rudnicki.
Parveen isn’t there when Benny falls off the roof. But everyone knows the story. Benny and his dumb demon cult. It happens at one of their houses, a place built like a modern-day cathedral. The kind of hovel that has a saltwater pool with a vanishing edge and a wine cellar with someone’s entire life savings down there and red-glazed tiles cutting swoops into the Los Pueblos skyline. Six-day-old moon, a wide goblin grin from above. The hot strobe of synth-pop booming everywhere. The hazy, electrostatic currents of teenage bodies thrilling with vodka and happiness hormones. | Copyright 2019 by Senaa Ahmad. Narrated by 40:50.
I want to tell you about the bleeding maze at the center of our town. People who aren’t from around here don’t know anything about it. It’s not referenced on any website or in any travel book, and most of us like it that way. We don’t share the knowledge of its existence with just anyone because it’s a very personal thing, the maze. We all have longstanding relationships with it that began at a young age. See, when kids in our town turn eighteen, we force them to enter it, like our parents did to us and their parents did to them. Inside the maze we have unique experiences, formative experiences. | Copyright 2019 by Kurt Fawver. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
Cities like her make men leave their hearts on their shores. “Seeing you,” the men say, “I want no other life.” Each night, as the diadem of the Bosporus drifts into slumber, violet shadows drape the narrow streets of Eminönü. I watch the window, thinking of you moving through the sleeping city, your footfall silent as the breathing of dreamers. I imagine you slipping velvet mist over your shoulders, sweeping past mosque and meyhane, sleeping beasts and sleeping houses. Full houses. Empty houses. I was born in this city, raised on a tongue of land embraced by swift straits and glittering seas. | Copyright 2019 by Isabel Cañas. Narrated by Roxanne Hernandez.
There are four of us left huddled in the cabin: me, Jerry, Carina, and Kyle. And we’re terrified the door won’t hold. Carina shivers so uncontrollably, her teeth sound like stones rattling down a metal chute. Kyle begs her to quiet down. But her teeth aren’t making enough noise to matter. Not compared to the howling storm. It comes in gusts that build in slow waves, rhythmically increasing in both volume and strength until a gale overtakes the cabin, pelting the windows with hard rain. A cold draught pushes past us while we tremble on the floor, wishing we were anyplace else. | Copyright 2019 by Simon Strantzas. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
I wanted to tell you the truth, before the end. I’m sorry it took this long, and I’m sorry I’m too cowardly to tell you to your face, but I don’t think I could ever get it right, saying it all out loud. I hope you don’t hate me, but you might. I hope you can at least understand, even if you can’t feel the same about me after. It’s okay if you can’t. It had been three weeks and Ray still hadn’t come back. He was never an audacious man. His inflexibility, his aversion to risk or conflict of any sort, was the raw spot at the center of our relationship. But I liked him for that reason, too. He felt like a home. Solid. | Copyright 2019 by Alanna J. Faelan. Narrated by Judy Young.
“I’m going to tell you a story,” she says. “And when the story is finished, this will all be over.” There are four of them huddled on the floor of her living room: Francisco, like the saint; Michael, like the angel; Jerome, like the translator; and her, Batul, like the queen of heaven. The apartment---a second-story walkup above a music shop, low-ceilinged, smelling faintly of clove and lemon---looks very much like what it is, the home of a twenty-four-year-old woman who makes a fair wage at a pottery factory. A number of brightly glazed mugs, sunbursts and peonies and beetles and birds, dangle from a rod above her stove. | Copyright 2019 by Megan Arkenberg. Narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir.
“There are few tales as tragic as that of the denizens of Ratnabar Island. When a British expedition made landfall on its shores in 1891, they did so armed to the teeth, braced for the same hostile reception other indigenous peoples of the Andamans had given them. What they found, instead, was a primitive hunter-gatherer community composed almost entirely of women and children. [ . . . ] The savage cultural clash that followed would transmute the natives’ offer of a welcoming meal into direst offense, triggering a massacre at the hands of the repulsed British . . .” | Copyright 2019 by Nibedita Sen. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
Uncle Reggie couldn’t afford to fly to Ireland to find a selkie wife, so instead he drove across the country to Carmel-by-the-Sea and came back with a selkie queer. I was fifteen then, and so ready to get out of Perrysville that California sounded like paradise. | Copyright 2015 by Caspian Gray. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
I first saw the demon the Sunday after you died. It was 11:53 p.m. Just seven minutes until I would have grabbed my knapsack and biked home to Mom and bed and a life of sound sleep. That night the flurries were drifting down like nuclear ash. | Copyright 2015 by Matthew Kressel. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.
Hand in hand, your family and some friends stand in a circle around your father. Ten seconds have passed since his last breath, and you’re counting, wondering if it was his last breath or his last breath. Your eyes lock on his face, and you try to remember when he last opened his eyes and looked around. Days, at least. The memory blooms in your head, something like a flower or a drop of ink expanding in water. | 2015 by Nate Southard. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
They took shelter outside of Boulder, in a cookie-cutter subdivision that had seen better days. Five or six floor plans, Dave Kerans figured, brick facades and tan siding, crumbling streets and blank cul-de-sacs, no place you’d want to live. By then, Felicia had passed out from the pain, and the snow beyond the windshield of Lanyan’s black Yukon had thickened into an impenetrable white blur. | Copyright 2015 by Dale Bailey. Narrated by John Nelson.
Since we were little, Oona’s collected Victorian photographs. A certain subset of people love them, but I got a library book of them once, just before I met her, and I’ve never not been appalled. I don’t know what a book like that was doing lost in our local library. It’s exactly the kind of thing that would normally have been removed by a logical parent. | Copyright 2014 Maria Dahvana Headley. Narrated by Judy Young.
Something in the lab smelled like nectarine jam. I looked up from the industrial autoclave, frowning as I sniffed the air. Unusual smells aren’t a good thing when you work in a high-security bio lab. No matter how pleasant the odor may seem, it indicates a deviance from the norm, and deviance is what gets people killed. | Copyright 2014 by Seanan McGuire. Originally published in THE END IS NIGH, edited by John Joseph Adams & Hugh Howey. Reprinted by permission of the author. Narrated by Kate Baker.
1. Because it would take the patience of a saint or Dalai Lama to smilingly turn the other cheek to those six savage boys day after day, to emerge unembittered from each new round of psychological and physical assaults; whereas I, Jared Shumsky, aged sixteen, have many things, like pimples and the bottom bunk bed in a trailer, and clothes that smell like cherry car air fresheners, but no particular strength or patience. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.
The boy isn’t very large. The way things are these days, he figures that’s a plus. He is less of a target at night, and for this reason he has come to trust the darkness. Strange to trust darkness in a world overrun with nightmares . . . but that’s the way it is. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
She was dressed like a private detective from a low-budget TV show—a pair of slacks, modest high heels, and the most ridiculous trench coat I’d ever seen, one of the shorter ones, that hung just above the knees. I couldn’t help but laugh, and it was obvious my reaction annoyed her, but she did her best to hide her feelings as she pressed a finger to my lips, quieting me, and gently nudged me back inside my apartment. Narrated by Alex Hyde-White.
The men went out in boats to fish the cold waters of the bay because their fathers had, because men in this village always had. The women waited to gather in the catch, gut and clean and carry the fish to market because they always had, mothers and grandmothers and so on, back and back. Narrated by Susan Hanfield.
Folscyvio saw the Thing in a small cramped shop off the Via Silvia. In fact, he almost passed it by. He had just come from the Laguna, climbed the forty mildewy, green-velveted steps to the Ponte Louro, and crossed over to the elevated arcades of the Nuova. Then he glanced down, and spotted Giavetti, who owed him money, creeping by below through the ancient alleys. Narrated by Gabrielle De Cuir.
He stared bleary-eyed at the broken glass studding the land. This was his crop, seeded over the span of four weeks, irrigated from the residue of Napa Valley grapes, sun-kissed until it glistened like dew. It was the bounty of his desperation, and now was the time to harvest. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.
The cook didn’t like that the eyes of the dead fish shifted to stare at him as he cut their heads off. The cook’s assistant, who was also his lover, didn’t like that he woke to find just a sack of bloody bones on the bed beside him. “It’s starting again,” he gasped, just moments before a huge, black, birdlike creature carried him off, screaming. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
Clara Maloney peered down the long Brooklyn block. She and baby Sally had been waiting in the cold for twenty minutes, and still no sign of Pop. Figured. Even to pick out his wife’s casket, the old man was late. Narrated by Gabrielle De Cuir.
Some things you can’t figure out. Not even with a whole heap of scratch paper and a ribbon of data from a chattering teletype machine. Not before time runs out. And time is like progress—she’s not stopping for anybody. The answer is out there, though, in the weather. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
Randolph hadn’t expected the map to misrepresent the route to the motorway quite so much. The roads were considerably straighter on the page. The high beams roused swarms of shadows in the hedges and glinted on elongated warnings of bends ahead, and then the light found a signpost. It pointed down a lane to somewhere called Lorn Hall. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
I have this persistent sleep disorder that makes life difficult for me, but still I want to keep it. Boy, do I want to keep it. It goes back twenty years, to Vietnam. To Graves. Narrated by Bruce Turk.
Night descended on Interstate-90 as I crossed over into the Badlands. Real raw weather for October. Snow dusted the asphalt and picnic tables of the deserted rest area. The scene was virginal as death. Narrated by Dave Robison.
The house was occupied, but no one lived there. That’s how Malcolm Crow thought about it. Houses like the Croft place were never really empty. Like most of the kids in Pine Deep, Crow knew that there were ghosts. Even the tourists knew about the ghosts. It was that kind of town. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.