Black Treacle Magazine is a free bimonthly Canadian horror journal edited by A.P. Matlock, dedicated to horror, dark fantasy and speculative fiction. It gives preference to Canadian writers, but accepts fiction from elsewhere as well. It publishes nonfiction criticism in addition to fiction, which gives it a nice variety for a short publication.
Issue 3 has three pieces. The first, “Getting Shot in the Face Still Stings” by Michelle Ann King, is a short story about Marc, a gangster who is plenty dangerous when he loses his temper, and his brother, Dom. As the story opens, Marc is in the process of beating a man to death with a nine iron for claiming he was robbed of the outfit’s profits through magical means. As it happens, though, the unfortunate man was telling the truth: Elena is a goddess of immortal death, able to endure any number of deaths. When she’s killed, time rewinds to a few moments before it happens, and everyone retains the memory of what occurred. Marc is not pleased. Neither is Elena, by the time Marc has killed her for the third time; as she says, “I might be technically immortal, but getting shot in the face still stings.” How long does it take for the bad guys to wise up? Longer than you’d think, but the ending to this story is satisfying.
The second piece is a scholarly work of film criticism entitled “Waking Up from the American Dream: The Horror of Memory in Brad Anderson’s Session 9” by David Annandale. It is largely about the role memory plays in horror narratives, and specifically in the film under discussion. I’ve not seen the film, but this piece of criticism makes me want to do so and then reread the piece. It’s entertainingly written, with a minimum of scholarly jargon. With a bit of internet sleuthing, I learned that Annandale is a fiction writer as well as a university professor, which perhaps accounts for the transparent style in which he writes criticism. It’s a nice trick, and makes for good reading.
The final piece in this issue is a short story entitled “The Autobiography of Jeffrey Kline,” by Laura-Marie Steele. It is a fine piece of weird fiction; you know you’re in for something strange when the first sentence in the story reads, “Della wiped the outcropping of books from her brow.” Della has apparently been infected with the title book, a trashy autobiography by a talk show host, one Della hasn’t read and has no interest in; she doesn’t even watch his show. She tries her supermarket shelves for possible remedies, but comes up empty. When sweating books turns into vomiting books, Della heads for the hospital, where things go from plenty bad to much worse in very short order. It’s unfortunate that the author feels it necessary to explain from whence this infection arose; the weird is so much weirder when it just happens. Still, it’s an entertaining story.
Matlock suggests in his introduction to this issue that he hasn’t been getting the volume of submissions that he had originally hoped for. Perhaps that means this is a market blossoming horror writers might wish to try. The magazine is plainly put together with care, and with considerable respect for the written word. It’s worth watching to see what it might become.