A stranger arrives in the middle of the night with a terrifying story to tell.
A once nomadic family is enjoying their desert home, the fruit of many years of hard labor. As they sit down to their evening meal under a sky full of stars, they have no idea that their peaceful existence will soon be thrown into jeopardy.
Experience a sneak peek at Josh Malerman’s taste of blood in the Grey Matter Press collection I Can Taste the Blood.
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“I Can Taste the Blood” (Vision I) by Josh Malerman
We grew bored of the stars because we grew bored of the life we lived beneath them. They won’t look the same anymore. Not to us. To us they are new again.
She was right. And now, tonight, Madmannah looked up to the stars and marveled at how different they did look. How high they seemed.
Only three years ago they seemed to squash him.
“The stars,” Sammi said, taking her seat at the other end of the wooden table, noting her husband was looking up.
And again Madmannah thought, at last.
There were five of them at the small table. Madmannah at one head. Sammi at the other. Aart in her lap, though, at three now, he was certainly old enough to sit on his own. Also present were Sammi’s brother Faddey and their father Galahad. The two men had travelled very far on their own, having spent many years beneath those same desert stars, and Madmannah had arranged, privately, for them to move in, much to Sammi’s delight.
Torches lined the mud-brick walls of the courtyard, illuminating the square within. The clear sky promised no rain, and wooden buckets of drinkable water sat far enough from the fire so they wouldn’t get warm.
A small but cherished home.
The horrors of the desert—if such horrors truly existed—were behind them. As Galahad said upon entering his new place of dwelling, You’ve achieved a higher level of living.
Madmannah couldn’t disagree.
“Now take your own seat, Aart,” Sammi told her son.
Aart stared at the empty space of the bench Uncle Faddey half-occupied.
“Big boys sit all by themselves,” Faddey said, already spooning soup into his bearded mouth.
Aart hopped from his mother’s lap and squeezed in beside his uncle.
“Goat,” Galahad said, nodding. He slurped when he ate.
That was the word that occupied Madmannah’s thoughts.
He lifted his clay mug of water and raised it above his head.
“A toast?” Sammi asked, her spoon halfway to her mouth.
“To peace,” he said. “And quiet.”
Sammi, Faddey and Galahad lifted their mugs. Aart mimicked them, lifting his own with both hands.
They went to sip their water.
A knock came hard against the front door.
“Who’s that?” Sammi asked, wide eyed.
Madmannah shook his head and looked over his shoulder to the wooden door.
A second knocking came.
“Urgent,” Galahad said.
The knocking came a third time and Madmannah thought Galahad had chosen the exact right word.
Whoever stood outside, his feet in the cool sand of the infinite desert at night, with the same stars shining above him, this man’s knock betrayed…
“The door!” Aart cried.
And Madmannah rose to answer the door.
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More About I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD
I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD offers up five novellas from five unique authors whose work consistently expands the boundaries of conventional fiction. From Bram Stoker Award-nominated authors Josh Malerman, the newly minted master of modern horror, and John F.D. Taff, the “King of Pain;” to the mind-bending surrealism of Erik T. Johnson; the darkly poetic prose of J. Daniel Stone and the transgressive mania of Joe Schwartz, I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD is a stunning volume of terror sharing five visions, one common theme and one terrifying nightmare that can only be contained within the pages of a single book.