A Glass, Darkly

Words By Luis Silva

Art/Lettering/Colors by Joelle Blot

Hello, dear reader. My name is Luis Silva (@mr_lou_silver) and I hope you enjoyed this comic that me and my best friend Joelle Blot (@stardragonart) worked on just for you. While you’ve already read this story (it is a one-page comic, after all) this section will be akin to the creator commentary you’d see on the special feature section of a DVD you found in a haunted video store that not only survived the advent of streaming services, but which contains a great many goodies.

We’ll start with the title. A Glass, Darkly itself primarily a reference to the 1 Corinthian 13:12. From my understanding of this verse, it compares mankind’s inability to understand god to a person trying to look through a dark and distorted looking glass. However, this story title is not only a reference to that verse, but also the time of night in which I’d often look in the mirror. 

Yes, I know it’s cliche, but this is based on a true story. Specifically, it is based on a time in my childhood where I, as a superstitious Catholic (don’t worry, I’m completely lapsed now) would try to poke and prod at the supernatural that my father would always say lurked out there, waiting to get me. Anyway, I figured that looking at the giant mirror in my house in the dead of night would be a good place to start. 

I’d stare at my reflection, and stare often. The thoughts in the comic itself are ones that I genuinely thought when I was a kid doing this. However, the reason I stopped in real life was a bit different. I simply thought, what if, just what if… my reflection blinked when I didn’t?

That was too spooky for me.

Fast forward a good twenty years to when I presented this potential story to Joelle, and she drew it out pretty quickly! When I asked Joelle about the colors for the comic and why they seemed so familiar, she told me that, “The color scheme has elements of the ace and trans flags.” Joelle also told me that the nameless main character was inspired by an old Dungeons and Dragons character she made named Riot. 

We hope you enjoyed this story as much as we enjoyed making it, and if you want to see more queer horror, check me and Joelle and our friend Andres (@adbravoart) over at our up and coming publishing house, Creatively Queer Press! (Follow us at @cq_press on Twitter and Instagram, as well as our site creativelyqueerpress.com)

Slow Erosion

CW: Body horror.

The elevator in my building had been broken since I moved in.

It didn’t say out of service, not even some scrawled note on a piece of paper. It just sat in the basement, door open, single light bright like a lure. It’s not that it had been turned off, because when I walked by it to drag myself up the stairs I could hear it humming.

I’d never noticed how loud elevators can be, when there’s no music to hide behind.

Sometimes I’d be so tired that I’d get into it anyway. The light hit the bare walls in such a way that it looked larger from the outside, but once you’re in there, there was barely enough space for you and your own elbows.
Spaces that small shouldn’t echo so clearly, but when my cane hit the side of the door, I could hear the clang of metal on metal following me all the way down the hall.

(That’s just my paranoia, of course. The door was open, there was nothing for my cane to hit.)

I sent a lot of emails about it. My mother always called me a rather impolite child, but I like to think I’ve rather grown into it, like a kid grows into their ears and their weird childhood obsessions. Now, I’m ‘tenacious.’ Now, I ‘speak my mind.’ Now, I let my personality fall just to one side of unkind, and I don’t feel bad about it.

No one answered my emails, but I knew they were going somewhere. Yesterday, one was printed out and taped up in the elevator. The words seemed to crawl, and I would have had to lean inside to see which one of the dozen I’ve sent it was, but I recognized my signature at the bottom. Someone was hearing me. It was just a matter of time.

It’s strange how so many people don’t really notice elevators. They’re in between places, you know? Purely to get from one place to another. Convenience, for most people. Most people could walk right out of one and not be able to describe where they were just standing. It’s different, for me. Maybe because they decide whether it’s going to be a good day or a bad one, how heavy my bones will feel by the time I’m getting home from work and doing my best not to fall down the stairs to get to my little basement apartment. Some are faster, some jerk up or down in ways that make my stomach twist, some play the same one song on loop because they think no one is paying attention.

I’m not sure if this is a cane-user thing or just a me thing, noticing.

Or maybe it’s something else entirely, the same thing that made me pause in front of my broken elevator, itching to go in and try one more time. An interest in places that are neither here nor there, in spaces that don’t quite exist. How much of our time do we leave behind in places that we barely register? How much of us is left like fingerprints on metal, breath on glass, rubbed off on strangers as we go about our days?

When I was a kid, one of my weird obsessions was rocks. Not necessarily even cool-looking rocks. Just rocks. I’d pick up pebbles and want to know more about them. I’d look up gravel in my little encyclopedia like I was just going to happen to stumble on something special. For Christmas, my uncle got me one of those toy rock tumblers, one year. I must have been about nine? My mother was quietly furious with him, for giving her loudest child the loudest possible toy, but I loved it. I would throw my rocks in and spin and spin and spin. They’d come out so smooth, and I’d run my fingers over them and wonder if that’s what people were like too, all the loud kids thrown into a tumbler and spun, spun, spun, until they learned how to be quiet, and pleasant, and not ask so many questions.

When I step into elevators, on my way to and from work, I have taken to making sure I don’t touch the sides.
The reason I moved in the first place was because of my job. It was more corporate than anything I pictured myself doing when I was growing up, but I didn’t hate it, and the pay’s alright. Hard to make a living spinning rocks, and school and I didn’t always get along, so I got out of there as soon as I could. But being the new person in the office, you’re sometimes tagged to do the more menial stuff, so today I was sent down to the basement to go looking for a spare kettle, because the one in the break room had up and broke on us.

Going down was fine. It’s a nice building, and the elevator has railings and chipper music that always gets stuck in my head, no matter what I do. I found the spare kettle right where my coworker said it would be, and went to go back upstairs.

The first thing I heard was the humming. No chipper earworms here, just that low drone of belts and gears, waiting to take you from one place to the next. By the time I turned the corner, I already knew what was going to be waiting for me. Something inside me, in that space between your ribs and your logic, the thing that tells you when to leave the light on and when to not look that stranger too closely in the eye, it knew, even though my brain hadn’t quite caught on. And I turned the corner, and there it was, waiting for me. Door sitting open, pleasant glow of my posh work elevator replaced with that bare, too bright bulb.

The rest of the basement felt suddenly altogether too big, too unknown, and in front of me was something familiar. I was walking inside before I really made the conscious decision to.

There were too many buttons for it to be my apartment’s elevator. I pressed the one that should lead up to the floor I worked on, and waited. I could hear my own breathing, echoed back at me by the bare, cold walls. There was no framed stock photo of people smiling at their computers, here. No letter with my name at the bottom. Nothing but the slightest darkening of the metal, something that took me a moment to realize was my own warped reflection.

The door closed, and I knew I had made a terrible mistake.

The elevator groaned as it laboured upwards, jerked and slipped backwards like the only thing making it move was a set of very tired, almost-human arms, pulling it skyward. I stood in the middle, cane in one hand, kettle in the other, and tried not to notice how the breathing had doubled, since the door had closed. Probably just my own, speeding up, I told myself, but I’ve never been good at lying. Too blunt for my own good.

It didn’t matter, I decided. The minute those doors opened, I would leave the elevator. I’d walk up the six flights to my office floor. Didn’t matter how much that would make my knees scream. It would be worth it.

When the door finally opened, I surged towards it, but there was a crowd waiting, and in the shuffling of them entering, I didn’t manage to make it to the door. The faces were people I vaguely recognized, but no one I worked with, and my voice had gotten caught in my throat somewhere, buried by my own dread. I ended up pressed into a corner as the elevator filled to capacity, the kettle a barrier from the press of people, but nothing protecting me from the walls of the elevator. I swear, the humming was loud enough that I could feel them vibrating with it, even without me having to touch them.

No one spoke. The door closed. The elevator resumed its lurching journey upwards.

We should have hit the first floor, but no ding came. I stared at the numbers, begging them to move, but nothing changed. When I looked away, to see if anyone else was noticing, that’s when I really started to panic.

The man next to me worked on the same floor as me. Tall man, always smiling as if he’s conscious of the effort he needs to make to come off as less intimidating. He was smiling then too, but his face looked strange. Too smooth, like his features were being worn away. He was leaning against the elevator’s wall, and I could see that the skin touching it had started to go… off. No arm hair, just unblemished skin. I had the horrible thought that if he tried to pull away, the skin would tear away, and everything inside him would spill out onto the bare, unremarkable floor.

“Excuse me,” I said, although the doors were still closed, and we were not at a floor. “I need to get out.”

“Oh, excuse me,” said the man next to me, but he didn’t move. His smile was still in place, but his lips were gone.

“Excuse me,” said the woman next to me, her curls going flat. Her feet were sinking into the floor.

“Excuse me,” said the person whose back was blocking me in. His hand, wrapped around his briefcase, no longer had distinct fingers, just a hook of skin. As I watched, his fingernails fell off, one by one.

“I need to leave,” I said, louder. No one looked at me. My fingers, all five of them, readjusted themselves on the grip of my cane, just to make sure they were all still there.

“I have to get out.” I was almost yelling, at that point.

Somewhere, someone was humming along to the drone of the elevator.

My mother had always called me a rather impolite child.

“Move!” I shouted, and began to push. The man in front of me’s body gave way easier than it should, and I didn’t look down, half-afraid that if I did I would see bits of him clinging to me. His suit felt like wet cardboard, and the humming had turned to hissing. Everyone was looking, now. Everyone whose eyes were still in their sockets, not smoothed out into dots of colour on otherwise featureless faces.

If I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to start moving again. I knew this. So I pushed, and I opened my mouth, desperate to hear something other than the gears and the belts and the droning of many voices all making the same note.

“Let me out!”

They picked up my voice like a chorus. Let it out, they said. Let it out.

I don’t know how I got to the door. It was just me, pushing and pushing until I hit something hard. I hit the ‘door open’ button, the one that’s supposed to be for when you’re being nice and holding the elevator for someone. I held it, and I hoped it was enough.

The door opened. Of course it did. I’m here, aren’t I?

I’m going to quit my job. I think I might have already. The trip home is… fuzzy. Like I wasn’t all there.

Going to move out, too. I’ve got a friend I can stay with, for a bit. Ground floor. I asked.

I got home to an email, isn’t that funny? They finally answered me. Know what it said? Said my apartment building ‘never had an elevator.’

I’m too afraid to go and check.

I’ve never been good at lying to myself, and I think if I have to tell the truth, I’ll lose everything I just worked so hard to keep.

I can still hear it humming.

END

Ziggy Schutz (she/her/he/him) is a queer, disabled writer who is at all times looking for ways to make his favourite fairy tales and horror tropes reflect people who look a little more like her.

When he’s not writing, she’s spending his time exploring haunted houses and chatting up the ghosts who live there. This is not a bit.

You can find more about her writing (and the ghosts) here.

The Break-Up

The Bethany Arms. The kind of place where they keep a donkey inside a barb-wire enclosure. Chickens chased each other through the rising dust.

“Do you think that’s our supper?” said Jean, trying to make me laugh.

She’d spent the trip sulking. We were on our way to see my dying father and I could have used some support instead of Jean’s black moods. At first she had charmed me – her quick wit, even her temper – but now I knew that she wasn’t the right companion for this kind of thing. If she sulked in the car, God knows what she’d be like when we finally reached the hospice.

For now, the sight of the mundane – a desert motel, the dirty animals – had restored her good humor. To her, the livestock was a charming novelty. But I’d grown up in a town not far from here and my childhood had schooled me well in small cruelties. Unlike Jean, I could spot the whip-marks across the donkey’s back. If this place was a joke, it came at the expense of the voiceless.

The motel office stood locked and empty, ringed by cheap outdoor furniture. We sat in silence, drinking warm soda from our cool-box, suitcases at our feet like loyal dogs. The local fey, finger-length, fluttered around us, cursing in mouse-squeaks until I opened a third can for them.

“They set traps for them. I saw one outside the manager’s office,” offered Jean.

“They don’t like magic around here.” I fumbled across the table for her hand but she crossed her arms and stared into the distance.

“They don’t like magic here? So where does something like you come from?”

“My father had Old Blood. Just a trickle. It didn’t breed true in him. But with me-” my voice trailed off at the sight of a man slouching towards us.

“The manager. You should carry your own luggage,” I mumbled. “We don’t want people to talk.”

Jean’s scrutiny made me clumsy; my suitcase banged my shins. Instead of anger in her gaze, there was something worse. There was judgment.

*********

The manager had wet brown teeth.

There was something anachronistic about his poor dentistry; rotten teeth are almost unknown in an era of cosmetic spells. But as I’d told Jean, they don’t care for magic this far South. His eyes darted from me to Jean, assessing. He took in our superficial resemblance and his brow furrowed in confusion.

“Sisters? Passing through?” he guessed.

Jean opened her mouth to correct him.

“Yes,” I interrupted smoothly, “Just passing through.”

*********

Our room was narrow and smelt, for some unknown reason, of apples. The air buzzed with raised voices. It took me a few seconds before I recognized one of them as my own. I experienced a strange sense of detachment, as if I was standing outside myself, studying the fight with clinical disdain.

“Why the hell did you want me here? If you’re ashamed of me?” hissed Jean. In anger, her face became smoother, her features less defined.

She glared up at me. Lonely as I was, I still wasn’t stupid enough to whistle up something taller than me. And of course, she was shrinking now. A safety measure of sorts. When I first created her, I’d sworn that this one wouldn’t go wrong but God knows, I’d made those sorts of promises before.

“Why am I here if you don’t need me?” she whined “What happens to me then?”

“I make another,” I said.

Her hand – barely larger than a child’s now – struck me. Without thinking, I hit her back as hard as I could. Something – not blood – flew out of its mouth. Then the homunculus collapsed at my feet.

Drained of magic, its corpse was smaller than a drowned kitten. It looked like a half-formed fetus, something born dead. The only sound in the room was my own breathing. I was alone again.

*********

That night I didn’t sleep. Instead, I thought about my mother’s illness. By the time she died, she didn’t even look like a person.

After the funeral, my father came into my room for the last time. He was a lean, gingery man; his Old Blood manifested in his unusual eyes, a foxy cast to his features. He spoke in a beery gasp, somewhere between a sob and a growl: “Did you do something to her?”

I studied him with pale eyes – his eyes – and offered him the lie, carefully rehearsed at her graveside.

“Yes. And if you touch me again, I’ll do something to you too.”

He ran from my room and I heard the sound of spasmodic vomiting. A week later, I left home. Now I was less than a day away from the man who had raised me, sometimes violently, less often with love. I couldn’t face him alone.

On the pillow beside me, Jean’s corpse was a hard leather lump. Briefly I cradled the spent thing to my chest, my lips parting in a reedy whistle. But it was no good. My magic needed living flesh to sculpt. My thoughts strayed to the motel donkey.

There was no one else awake when I approached its enclosure. The animal shifted uneasily but settled down when I reached through the wire and petted its nose. I started to whistle. In the middle of nowhere, a miracle unfolded beneath my touch.

I slipped away before dawn, my new homunculus at my side. Everything fascinated her – the rumbling car, the caress of Jean’s shirt on her skin, me. We touched constantly. In a few hours, she’d be capable of speech. In a few months, she’d be bored with the world and me. Soon she’d look at me with the same disappointed eyes as Jean.

Might as well enjoy my new relationship while it lasted.

The End

Lee Jacob Phillips is a former art lecturer who has had 4 solo exhibitions. His short fiction and articles have appeared in a number of collections and anthologies. He was selected multiple times as an Ambassador of Words by the César Egido Serrano Foundation and recently received a Shortbox grant for his comic work. His previous occupations include toy salesman, bartender and bodyguard. He currently lives in South Africa. To find out more about his art, writing and other projects, you can visit his Twitter https://twitter.com/smokefurandsto1

Our posts are 100% Patreon funded! If you want to see early posts, full resolution art, and WIPs, please consider supporting us on Patreon!

Twinning!

For me, this piece is a bit more fun than it is scary; I love scary twins and axes and blood splatters, so it hits a lot of my favorite tropes. I had a lot of fun with their hair and outfits as well! Obviously The Shining twins are rightfully iconic and infamous, but the girl on the left is serving some Red Guard mid-Cultural Revolution vibes. I think what’s so compelling about scary things, from True Crime to horror, is that sense of lacking bodily autonomy, but sometimes it’s cool to lean into the aesthetic of it as well.

Our posts are 100% Patreon funded! If you want to see early posts, full resolution art, and WIPs, please consider supporting us on Patreon!

Nyx Fears: Horror, Cats, and Skeletons!

Started in 2013, May (also known as Nyx Fears), has covered many topics but mostly focused on horror movies. May has made several lists that could be classified as doing us all a favor and watching some of the most baffling, absurd, and grotesque the horror genre has to offer. With elaborate set-ups, a few drinks, and a few inside jokes, May has set-up her own section of horror YouTube that is a wonderful balance of review, opinion, and honesty.

GenderTerror was able to interview May about her YouTube channel, her very public transition, her cat, and a little bit about her creative process.

GenderTerror: What made you decide to start making YouTube videos, especially horror movie reviews?

May: I’ve always been interested in horror stuff so it was obviously what I was gonna do if I ever did YouTube. I think I got the motivation because it was snowing one day in Texas and I just decided to go for it. There’s this sorta wall people run into where it seems too hard and weird to coordinate so they give up without ever actually trying. So I basically felt bored enough to give it a try. I had a microphone from when I was in a failed high school band so I just plugged it into my computer and started recording without editing and putting it online. Thank God I learned to edit but ya gotta start somewhere. And being online very quickly changed my life and I figured out how to actually make quality videos. Haha.

GT: What does horror mean to you?

Continue reading “Nyx Fears: Horror, Cats, and Skeletons!”

Wet Wings

When I’m drawing, I’m thinking about the skeletons within the bodies i draw, the separation of them all and making sure everything is clear. This didn’t feel like the right way to go in a piece about blurriness AS physical mass, so instead of taking out my sketchbook i went to the kitchen and made play dough. I wanted to have to focus on the exterior, on the blurry lumpiness that could only come from drawing something from its exterior. This also freed me up to do some cool angle stuff and play with lighting. I made some models, mashed them together, and ran with it until the piece felt complete.

Our posts are 100% Patreon funded! If you want to see early posts, full resolution art, and WIPs, please consider supporting us on Patreon!

VIVA THE HUNTER: Werewolves, Undead, Swords, and More!

Do you like Evil Dead or Kill Bill? How about a a nunchuck-slinging werewolf? Or the main character being a training swordswoman tricked into killing her undead ex-boyfriend by a manipulative witch? Then follow Viva on her adventures for vengeance and blood-hungry madness in VIVA THE HUNTER!

GenderTerror was able to interview filmmaker and scriptwriter, Forrest DePoy, about his adventure in comics and with Viva and co.

GenderTerror: Kill Bill meets Evil Dead. Where did the inspiration for VIVA THE HUNTER come from? 

Forrest DePoy: It all started with a bathtub! Before VIVA THE HUNTER there was Some Place Safe, which is my 2018 student short film that served as my senior capstone project. That short film’s script was then adapted into the first issue of VIVA THE HUNTER, and from there the project expanded into a series! I first began writing the short film’s script in July of 2018 based off the idea of something I saw – the blood-filled tub in Joji’s “Will He” music video. A lot of what I create comes from visuals or cool phrases. I loved the blood bath look in the music video and just kind of ran with it, developing characters and a location based around it. I really wanted to work on a horror film at the time, and since I was planning to keep the main action in one location for budgetary reasons, I think the Evil Dead inspiration came naturally as most of that film took place in the infamous cabin. During the development of this short film, I used the script as an exercise for my character development skills at the time. As a student, one of my weakest skills were (and maybe still are) well-written protagonists. I wanted Viva, the lead character, to be entirely different from anything I have tried before. I wanted her to be a badass in the making, so I really took notes from Beatrix in Kill Bill, so much so that Viva even took up kung-fu and sword training. In the end she kind of ended up being a huge nerd, which was awesome! This made the film really become a horror-action flick with a big grindhouse aesthetic, especially so once Panos Cosmatos’ 2018 film Mandy came out later that year. That seriously had a huge impact on the final script for Some Place Safe. The character dialogue was compartmentalized and redesigned in a way that the actors could really define them as they saw fit, something of which I really admired in Mandy. Each of these serve as key elements in the way I approach the expanded comic series now!  Continue reading “VIVA THE HUNTER: Werewolves, Undead, Swords, and More!”

Grrr… Don’t Misgender Me!

 

This piece recalls horror that’s much cheesier by today’s standards, such as the old Universal mummy movies, but it also does touch on a very real horror of misgendering and a loss of control. Sometimes, it would be easier to have a monster spook someone into acceptance rather than correct them and talk about your preferred pronouns. But having this discussion can be an immensely empowering experience (as long as you’re in a safe environment to do so).

Enjoy my painting! I’m Will Jamison, a genderqueer cartoonist/illustrator, and you can find more of my artwork on Instagram and Twitter under @thewilljamison. Thank you so much for checking this out, and please let me know what you think!

Our posts are 100% Patreon funded! If you want to see early posts, full resolution art, and WIPs, please consider supporting us on Patreon!

Healing

I think for many of us, especially in the queer and trans communities, we’ve had to endure trauma that we simply cannot share with just anybody. Sometimes, only people who have gone through it know, and get it, and can listen. They may be the only ones able to help us open up and release the emotions trapped within. Those helping us heal may still be on their own journey of learning and growing from their trauma, but healing isn’t finite yet it’s worth pursuing.

Much of my art comes from emotional experiences and places of vulnerability. I find that all too often, men don’t get the chance to express vulnerable feelings in a healthy way. As someone who identifies as androgynous most of the time (I am comfortable with she/her/they pronouns), I use my empathetic nature to illustrate vulnerable figures of all kinds, and I frequently draw men in positions of vulnerability. I think people need to see more depictions like that, so they can feel comfortable seeing themselves reflected, and changing the conversation about vulnerability to make it universal.

I’m Natalia, and I go by @mystodraws on Instagram. My official website is https://www.mystopress.com/ where you can see the illustration and comics I do, as well as art prints and comics for sale.

Our posts are 100% Patreon funded! If you want to see early posts, full resolution art, and WIPs, please consider supporting us on Patreon!

Follicles

“Lydia,” Countess Eleanor whined, “why can’t you take better care of your hair?”

One, two, three. Her mother always brushed her hair in three succinct strokes before taking a breath. This meticulousness always unnerved Lydia: for one, because her mother never seemed to notice that she was doing it, and two, because she couldn’t stand to sit still for so long. On and on, one two three, pause, one two three. She stared straight ahead at her reflection in the ornate mirror, her soft brown eyes burning, willing her tangled raven hair to spontaneously combust.

“Lydia. I am serious,” Eleanor hissed, tugging roughly against a tight knot of hair. “I know that you do not use these brushes; there’s not even a strand of your hair left in here!”

“I brush it. I just clean off the brushes.”

“That’s a funny lie, girl. You best learn to take care of yourself, otherwise I will not allow you to go riding in the afternoons.”

“And what shall I do all day instead?”

“You can work on your embroidery skills, for one. Your governess gave you an assignment about a week ago, didn’t she?”

“I misplaced it.”

Continue reading “Follicles”

Evil Eye – Page 8

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Page 8 of a comic about a peculiar evil eye bracelet! I’m Jaime Mosquera, a Latinx nonbinary comic artist and illustrator who loves body horror and birds! You can find more of my work and tip me here:

Twitter | Kofi

Our posts are 100% Patreon funded! If you want to see early posts, full resolution art, and WIPs, please consider supporting us on Patreon!

Evil Eye – Page 7

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Page 7 of a comic about a peculiar evil eye bracelet! I’m Jaime Mosquera, a Latinx nonbinary comic artist and illustrator who loves body horror and birds! You can find more of my work and tip me here:

Twitter | Kofi

Our posts are 100% Patreon funded! If you want to see early posts, full resolution art, and WIPs, please consider supporting us on Patreon!