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Issue 106 – December 2023
Of course a dybbuk is flat. Flat as a blini. All the easier for that damn ghost to slip under your collar.
Of course a dybbuk is colorless. That’s why, when you say you’ve got a dybbuk, most people say, no you don’t. Go see Dr. Weiner. Spend a few days in Florida.
And of course a dybbuk can stretch like a goddamn balloon animal. So it can stick. Sometimes to fridges. More often to living people, to their familiar messes and warm smells, but not always. Some folks insist that dybbuks full-on possess people, make them fly around, screeching, like giant fruit bats dressed in their funerary finest. Those people are yutzes.
Issue 105 – November 2023
After the machine is humming, the women look directly at me, and my stomach drops. All of them have scars around their eyes. One has deep pink lines through her crow’s feet into her temples; one has swirls like the silt in a riverbed along her cheekbones.
A voice breaks into my reverie. “— even if the séance works, Rory, your father might not want to save your house,” the medium in front says. “The dead are in a restful place, and some don’t want to leave.”
I’ve blanked out again. I debate asking her to repeat herself, but I know the pros and cons. Entity houses are part of my job.
Issue 104 – October 2023
Someone began sending hand-written spellcrafted postcards out of DC in July of 2024. Those postcards made the rounds for a good nine months, under the radar, scarcely observed. That was, until the rash of good health, the proliferation of wealth, and the sudden uptick in good living coupled with a grand downtick in big socioeconomic issues the mayor was quick to claim as her own—such as suicides and unemployment—brought the situation to the attention of the East US Coven.
Because we can’t have downticks in unemployment and upticks in good health, not if there’s witchery being waved under everyone’s noses. Especially if the handwriting has a particularly feminine flair. No siree.
Issue 103 – September 2023
I’m seeing me in hospice. My mother. That me.
No. She. I have to remember. She’s in hospice, and I’m her son. I’m a son going to see his dying mother. I can do this. It’s not so hard to pretend. There are others. They aren’t me. Every me is someone else.
Although pronouns always seem like figures of speech. Except I. I always fits, and me.
Issue 102 – August 2023
The airplane is gray and gleaming, rising off the ground into the fog of early morning like a magic trick, obscured and then revealed, impossible. The engines roar too loudly, like they will tear down the sky. They roar and roar, and then—
The transformation. The wind under the airplane’s wings buckles as the wings buckle, shake, separate into a beating of hundreds of wings. Out of the fog we come. This time, this first time, we are geese: black-brown wings and furious hearts. We fly awkwardly, at odds with the turbulence; we are newborn, but already the flock is forming as our instincts awaken in the air and we orient ourselves not against the ground or the stars but against each other.
Issue 101 – July 2023
It’s a Kool-Aid summer. We’ve gone through grape and cherry and fruit punch and blueberry. Even tried dying our hair with them. And for about three days we had pink and blue and purple strands. Didn’t turn out in Finley’s. Her hair is too dark, but she tried.
The afternoons are sprinklers in the backyard and ice-pops while our sisters and mothers watch flickering soap operas in cold, tomb-like rooms, cold from the AC cranked so low. The nights are sleeping out in the backyard in a tent or a sleeping bag unrolled on porches and decks or even in the grass and looking up at the stars. Listening to the AC click on and hum its silver song through the night.
And late late late sneaking into the pool and swimming with the dead.
Mortals slice us dryads open to count the layers of our lives; it is easier than listening to our stories. They slide their fingers over our rings, thinking that our texture, our shifts in coloration would bring them understanding of their own lives. In their minds, we exist to bring poetry to their sighs and serve as metaphors for longevity.
I ignored that wisdom, that tingling fear in my roots, for the first six years that the carpenter and his family lived beneath my boughs.
Issue 100 – June 2023
Even by the third hot, sticky day into our road trip, the humans in the back of the transportation trucks remain fascinating. Theoretically, we know where our blood comes from. But this is different.
“They didn’t used to be like that, you know,” our grandma shouts at us over the wind of the open windows for the third time in ten minutes, as another truck passes by. “They used to rule the world, back in the day. They were wonderful, I think.”
When I first began feeding, I wondered if I was a vetāla or a piśāca. But I felt no urge to sway from bael trees or dart into a hedge of thathapoo with its ray-toothed flowers. Besides, I did not have an appetite for birds or small rodents. I only hungered for certain kinds of men.
Maybe I was a mohini.
Issue 99 – May 2023
1. They think they know everything.
Like your twenty years of mining experience is useless compared to a high-acting neural processing drive. Like you’re nothing but a softer, weaker liability, and the only thing you’re good for is greasing their joints and blowing out their compressors.
Just one bot and one human to babysit them.
Issue 98 – April 2023
Just letting you know: I moved the artwork “Higher, Faster, Boulder” from the ground floor lobby up to the Second Floor Cafeteria as per Asset Movement Request #5340 from Asset Management, could you please let me know why it’s been moved back to the ground floor?
When Dad sent me into the kitchen for a container—any lidded vessel at all—to bottle Grandma’s voice, all I could find were lonely lids.
I spread lids over the white kitchen tile like a buffet of metal and ceramic, these orphans of failed dinners. Wondering what would work best to capture a sound.
Not knowing what would work best for, in truth, I’d never actually heard a bottled voice. I didn’t want to risk it. Not with hearing aids.
Issue 97 – March 2023
This month is our special telepathy-themed issue, guest edited by Ziv Wities!
Welcome to Diabolical Thoughts. You have one (1) transmission pending; to receive it, please hold still and visualize the following items.
You told your mother you were going to drive up to Lake Tahoe that Saturday. You didn’t like lying to your mother; but she always asked so many questions. It was easier to tell her something that wouldn’t make her worry. You’d be back before the week was up, anyway—that was how Kim had put it.
The suspect lifts its hands, every movement deliberate and fluid, blood slower than honey. Its left hand jerks to a stop on the end of the handcuff chain and more waxy skin flakes drift onto the table. “You saw somebody who looked like us, perhaps. You have a murder weapon that certainly doesn’t have our fingerprints on it.” When it speaks, a breath of hot air washes over you. You start to sweat. “Also, no one is dead.”
For the first thirteen years of her life, the planet was silent. No birdsong. No construction. Only the gentle sway of an ocean pushing and pulling against the aqueous humors of her left eye. Late at night, while her parents slept, she often lay awake and listened to the dense water solidify itself, the salts forming crystals, the crystals becoming pillars in a great, cavernous hall populated at first by no one, and then: music.
Issue 96 – February 2023
Being the real moon goddess requires a great deal of clothing and makeup. The real moon goddess must be elaborate, delicate, draped in folds of silk. The real moon goddess must be radiant. In other words, the real moon goddess must be utterly unlike the real moon, which is content in its quiet, rocky existence—cold and gray, gray and cold, just gray dirt and darker gray shadows in the shallow craters, all the way to the horizon where the gray edge meets the black sky.
The demon and I had been crocheting for hours, in what appeared to be a sliver of space it’d created between Here and There. Around a plush couch floated pale, winter fog that obscured anything more than a few feet past the limits of the cushions.
I’d only ever heard of devils challenging people to chess, or the fiddle, or riddles, maybe. I think this demon had only ever done those things, too, so when I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind, well, we were both kind of stuck, weren’t we?
Issue 95 – January 2023
So you want to determine whether dogs still exist.
First, our association of dogs with obedience. Is obedience dog-like? Or is it to do with horses now, or children, or hamsters. “Hamster-like obedience.” Dogs have retreated into the bodies of hamsters, maybe. They have a real knack for learning, we’re told, and for evolving themselves. There’s no reason they couldn’t take this extra step. Or maybe they don’t exist, dogs have never existed.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
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