Best of 2013 – Whispers in the Flame

We’re pretty immune to horror stories at this point. Nothing really makes us jump anymore. And yet when Whispers in the Flame, by Steve Cotterill, crossed our submission pile, we were well and truly unsettled. This is the kind of story that takes you into the mind of madness, that seduces you instead of trying to frighten you, and in the end that becomes more startling than the traditional gore and scare tactics.

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Whispers in the Flame

By Steve Cotterill

Nathan lay on his bed in the dark, flicking his battered lighter, bringing the flame to life, and letting it die again. Outside in the lounge, the telly thundered as his family watched some worthless program, letting their brains die piece by rotten piece. It was Tuesday so Mum was getting her medical fix. The television’s volume was turned up so loud that conversation was impossible, while Dad tried to read the paper and Sam pretended to do homework, itching to get it all over and done with and play a game. Nathan didn’t care; his eyes were consumed entirely by the flame, and his ears by the seductive crackling voice that only he could hear.

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