Halloween Horror tag.
I am a huge short fiction fan, especially in the realm of speculative fiction. I even write stories myself, with a publication upcoming in 2014. Among those of us who read and write short spec fiction, Clarkesworld Magazine is held in very high regard.
Each month, Clarkesworld publishes free short fiction online, usually three new stories and two reprints. They range from haunting tales that will make you cry to raunchy, irreverent stories with sexual themes.
The "third" story this month (named because they are read week by week in podcast form, also free) is The Creature Recants, by Dale Bailey, and I can think of no more appropriate story to recommend here in the best Holiday season, Halloween.
In this story, the Creature from the Black Lagoon is real, and working in Hollywood, getting advice from Boris Karloff in a brilliant cameo, and dealing with how his life changed the day he was brought into the world of humans by Amazon poachers.
The life of the Creature is a tragic one, as portrayed by Bailey. He knows he will be forever typecast and no matter how refined, human society cannot--and will not--accept him. He tries to make it work, but ultimately, the reader and the protagonist know that it cannot. When the story reaches a climax that is restrained yet brutal, we know what the Creature must do.
Bailey has a long trail of short story sales, including stories published in Lightspeed and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, with a new story upcoming on Tor.com. It's easy to see how he's become so successful (including a few novels and a short story collection), as his prose flows off the page easily, each paragraph building upon the other to craft a full and complete story that leaves the reader satisfied.
Filled with nifty asides about being part of the Universal Horror machine towards the end of its life, the gimmicks of the movie industry, and the idea of identity, place, and perception The Creature Recants is not only a great Halloween-themed tale, it's an amazing short story that is one of the best I've read this year.
Check in out in prose form, but if you're of a podcast mind, Kate Baker really outdoes herself in the audio version. Either way, read this story today, and you'll soon see not only why I like it, but why Clarkesworld should be a part of your regular online reading rotation.