But You Mustn’t Look Back

you know what it means but you mustn't look back

you can hear it
the cracking, the slurping
(the screams cut short)
you know what it means
but you mustn’t look back

you can feel it
a whisper of fabric
light as thought
whooshing behind you
but you mustn’t look back

the fragrance follows you
cloying floral notes mixed with
the stench of iron
memories almost make you smile
but you mustn’t look back

you recognize the hummed lullaby
unheard for a decade
you don’t know how Mom
returned, how she found you
but you mustn’t look back

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Issue 1.4 Paperback

These 23 works of dark speculative fiction demand readers consider the following:

Who do we become when we only have ourselves for company? What remains when we've sacrificed too much? Where do the babies really come from?

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Featured in

Issue 1.4 Paperback

Read a story out loud, upgrade your legs, and glow. Break quarantine for a quick smoke with your friends, learn where the babies come from, start a gratitude journal during an apocalypse, and obtain more followers, no matter the cost.

Meet Mona Luna, rob a bank, get the best spot on the ledge, sew a suit fit for a king, laugh until you choke, and scream until your throat bleeds.

Whatever you do, don’t look back, and never tell the beautiful bartender to smile.
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More stories

More from 1.4

House—Unpainted

A house down the street catches my attention. It sits half painted, the other half peeling white, with a quarter of the driveway paved. The cracks are still visible. A shadow passes by one window in the upper level. It looks like my daughter. I know it can’t be. I left her shadow inside the new house.

Like an Itch You Scratch

The playground’s got this tunnel we figured we could hotbox. This was right at the start of everything, so it was shut down, caution taped, and Jen figured we might as well use it if no one else was gonna.

Falling Apart

You sell the little finger on your left hand first. This is not the prudent way to do things. You should sell the whole hand, but you are not trying to be prudent.

Just Us

Happy Holidays from The Dread Machine.

But You Mustn’t Look Back

you know what it means but you mustn't look back

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