Lost Signals: Horror Transmissions (2016, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
Edited by Max Booth III and Lori Michelle
Certain things click with me as horror tropes more than others. Numbers stations, haunted baby monitors, signals coming from the deep dark woods. Something about radio waves can be genuinely creepy. No matter how secure your door is, they can get in. That’s why I was delighted to discover this anthology full of stories that touch on these very elements.
Some of the highlights of the collection are:
“If He Summons His Herd” by Matthew M. Bartlett
Finn Groomer is obsessed with the legends surrounding his small town community. One of these is a phantom FM station that comes and goes and seems connected to the disappearances of some kids. Finn is also troubled by the death of his mother and believes that through this station he can speak to the dead. There are some great classic devil worship type notes in this story but how it ends is unexpected and deeply disturbing.
“Transmission” by T.E. Grau
Max is zooming through the Nevada desert in the middle of the night when he stumbles upon what he thinks is fire and brimstone religious station. Something bolts across the road and forces the man off the road, but despite his predicament, something about this station keeps him from going for help. The more he listens, the more he realizes this isn’t about saving your soul but about being awakened to reality most can’t see.
“How the Light Gets In” by Michael Paul Gonzalez
A filmmaker and her partner are traveling through and documenting the people who live in the Salton Sea. They meet one strange, older woman who claims her husband discovered something in the area that was responsible for his death, a strange shimmer in the sky, a place where reality bends. Deciding to investigate for fun the couple ends up an abandoned hotel and experience a night of horrors as the sky splits open.
“Eternity Lies In Its Radius” by Christopher Slatsky
Molly is roommates with her fellow punk bandmates when one of them, Mark, discovers a strange pirate radio station he finds songwriting inspiration from. Now the music is evoking visions when she closes her eyes of railroad tracks leading off into a jagged cave in the side of a mountain. The images are so vivid she’s unnerved and discovers the place in her dreams is real and in their small town. All the while, Mark is spending more time locked in his room and getting lost in this strange radio station.
“All That You Leave Behind” by Paul Michael Anderson
A couple is living in the aftermath of a miscarriage. Told from the wife’s perspective, she is becoming increasingly distressed that her husband spends all day on a computer listening to the ultrasound heartbeat recording on a loop. She keeps trying to throw away objects that are connected to the late child, but her husband appears to be digging them back out of the trash. As their relationship deteriorates, she begins to have significant questions about her sense of reality. A horror story that ends with some poignancy.
More than just a one-note collection, Lost Signals gets a lot of mileage about of its concept. In our current era, there are a lot of signals crossing the globe and the opportunity to glean some horror from that is perfect.