Welcome to the masquerade.
Two thousand twenty was a reality horror show. And like most obnoxious entertainment reality shows, this one had its own idiosyncratic rules and penalties. Call it The Big Lockdown. We were forced to go to ground, to hide in our holes. Some went underground and never came back. Uncertainty ruled because the rules kept changing. Were we following the science or the mad scientists? Was the light at the end of the tunnel the fiery mouth of hell? We couldn’t say for sure, so we ventured out for food, booze and sundries like scavengers in a slow-motion apocalypse, keeping our distance from fellow human beings because you never knew who might be carrying that heavy viral load.
And everywhere we went, we went behind the mask. So, it became obvious: The theme of our offering of extreme horror tales from 2020 had to be masquerade.
Our masquerading storytellers nevertheless did what they do best. They went deep into the belly of the beast and sent up fictions reflective of these “trying” times. Their stories peel away the masks (or in some cases, the skin) to reveal the inner workings of darkest hearts and minds and deeper fears.
Table of contents
Hey Valentine by Amanda Cecelia Lang
/thestrangethingwebecome by Eric La Rocca
The Pogonip Fog by Sean Patrick Hazlett
The Nipples in Dad’s Tool Box by Ronald Kelly
The Happiest Man in the World by Matthew Brockmeyer
Otto Hahn Speaks to the Dead by Octavia Cade
In Subspace, No One Can Hear You Scream by Hailey Piper
Her Wounded Eyes by Robert Guffey
Gunfire and Brimstone by Alicia Hilton
Going Green by Christine Morgan
The Drinking-Horn by Christine Morgan
Full Moon Shindig by Patrick C. Harrison III
All the Stars in Her Eyes by Deborah Sheldon
Synaesthete by Melanie Harding-Shaw
The Saint by Alessandro Manzetti
The Village by Matias F. Travieso-Diaz
The Smell of Night in the Basement by Wendy N. Wagner
Whiskey to the Wound by Rachel Nussbaum