Review: The Vanishing Point #6


“Welcome to the Vanishing Point, that place on the horizon where the lines of reality and imagination intersect. In that place is a promise of excitement, dread, intrigue, and suspense. The Vanishing Point is a triannual literary magazine for works that bend reality. Horror, Sci-fi, Dark Fantasy, and all things speculative are welcome here.”

I wasn’t familiar with this magazine, picked up the latest issue, and was happy to discover that it lived up to this promising blurb. The 6 short stories are varied and good quality, and it was the perfect way to start a grey and rain-drenched morning.

“A Strange Night in Sabbatville” by Joseph Hirsch kicks things off. This supernatural account concerns a man whose car breaks down in the semi-rural town of the title and finds his way to an old-fashioned B&B. Beautifully told, it has an engaging 1st person voice and a spooky and palpable sense of place.

“Tomorrow’s Agony” by Spencer Nitkey is narrated by a man who is captured by thugs and must pay an inherited debt that belonged to his late father. I enjoyed this very dark short, which succeeds through its original chilling concept and downbeat conclusion.

In “Bugs” by Paul O’Neill we meet Nick, a man on the verge of losing everything to his drug addiction, who is infested with some strange bugs under a bridge and discovers that they might help him out of his rut. An unpredictable sf/horror that hooked me from the off, it has the feel of an escalating nightmare with a satisfying and sharp sting in the tail.

“The Chitters” by Keith LaFountaine begins with tragedy, as family man Frank watches his young son suddenly die during a baseball game, and through childhood flashbacks realises that the reason for the death comes from his past. Immediately investable through attention to detail, this is a good old-school chiller.

“The Double” by Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece is told by a woman trapped in a besieged city who sees a doppelganger of herself whilst attempting to board an evacuation train. An intriguing tale in which all is not as it seems, it ensures you don’t stop until the haunting and elegiac finale.

Finally, “Hurts to Breathe” by Scott J. Moses is the story of a healthcare worker revisiting her abandoned home during some kind of gas-induced zombie apocalypse. It’s a melancholy horror piece, nicely balancing violence with emotion, and concludes the issue on an appropriate high.

All the stories here are well written with muscular ideas and satisfying payoffs. There’s a pleasing range of dark speculative fiction, some mysterious and offbeat, some horrific and suspenseful, and the mix of authorial tones and directions make for an interesting read. I’ll definitely be revisiting The Vanishing Point again for more.

Available in print and electronic versions, visit the website here.