after you the flood

January 13, 2014 at 10:17 pm (Stories online)

It took me a while to realize that yes, I do write horror. It’s just not what I used to think of as horror back when I was reading paperbacks with black and red covers. The story that’s up at Strange Horizons today (with an absolutely gorgeous illustration by Paula Arwen Friedlander) is my attempt to write something Lovecraftian (minus the ickier bits of Lovecraft, and no I don’t mean tentacles). In hindsight, though, I wonder how much it was influenced by a newer subgenre of horror: the urban-legend, creepypasta type of story that flourishes on the net.

I actually set out to write this story with nothing beyond “something creepy” in mind.  So what did I find creepy, this time around?  Well, floods.  And old abandoned schools, like the kind I’d sometimes see back home.  And viewing or reading something that suddenly looks back at you.

I think what I wanted to capture most was inexplicable horror, and just how much worse that can make it.  I think I did a good job.  Take a look for yourself or a listen, as it’s up in podcast form as well.  And then, maybe, see if it’s raining . . .

Only a few shreds of material evidence survived the events: a few incomplete and water-stained notes in the school’s daybook, a broken rowboat lodged in a tree, water damage to the first story of Wilbraham’s house.

The photograph of fifteen little girls in navy blue smocks and white pinafores, staring out at the camera as if facing a judge.


  1. Scott H said,

    A buddy on Facebook just linked to this. It’s fantastic! $0.50 says it shows up in a Year’s Best anthology.

  2. Mihai A. said,

    I think that the “horror” label chases away readers from some excellent pieces of fiction, be them in short or longer form. It is true that sometimes it describes exactly what the reader gets, but I’ve read over the recent years some wonderful stories that can end up ignored just because they’re labeled horror. So I’ll not say that “The Innocence of a Place” is horror, because it can be another example of a wonderful story lost within the swamp of classification.
    Thank you very much for the story! I hope it would reach as many readers as possible.

  3. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little said,

    What a gorgeous and creepy story. Thank you for putting it in the world.

    In addition to the Lovecraftian flavor, I also see something of Poe in it: the introspective narrator who is perhaps less stable than they claim to be, who demonstrates their instability by the details they reveal and obsess over while they tell you the story.

    My relationship to horror is something like yours, in that it took widening my idea of the genre to realize I both read and wrote it. Embrace the label! It’s a good one with a solid pedigree.

  4. cathydouglas said,

    I just read the story and loved it, especially the way the narrator is as creepy in her own little OCD world as the historical event she’s studying. I’ve never been into horror so much, but I’ve recently been reading some Robert Aickman and your story reminded me of his stories.

  5. Dave Gault said,

    I agree with the Poe comparison. This is a truly vivid tale that touches me deeply and loudly, whatever genre it is. Wonderfully written.

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