The Mask Boys

New short fiction, “The Mask Boys,” is published at the brilliantly, gorgeously spooky New Dead Families today. The entire time I wrote this story, it was entitled “18611,” but when I talked about it with my editor and my writing buddy, we’d all just refer to it as “the mask boys story” or something like “I think I figured out the ending for mask boys,” so eventually, it felt wrong to not have that be the title.

It’s not that anyone was afraid of them, the mask boys, skulking in the shadows with their faces obscured by matching shells of black plastic. No mouths, no nostrils, no decoration. Featureless. Only ovals, eyeholes, and strands of wide, white elastic running above and behind their ears, bunching up their hair.

This story was a labor of love. Inspired partially by such horror movies as It Follows and partially by the 2007 Witch Fire which burned most houses on a certain Rancho Bernardo street I used to live on.

Working with Zack Wentz was an absolute delight. His keen editorial eye and incredibly copious notes always allowed for my own voice and my own goals for the story to stay at the forefront. Thanks for believing in this strange and undeniably, triumphantly girlish story.

I’m starting to think of 2017 as the year of the sisters in my writing: whether they be actual sisters or female friends. And this story was written long before 2017 hit its stride but minor detail. While this story’s plot, and the unfolding of the writing process itself, was propelled by the terror and the mystery of this gaggle of boys with masks on them, I think the heart of the story lies in the bond of these sisters, existing in this strange in-between place.

My sister Mae, a year older, sixteen, leans against a porch column, one hand on a hip. I didn’t hear her come outside. I didn’t even know she was home. I can’t really remember the last time I saw her. This morning, or maybe it was yesterday, or maybe it’s been days. We stare at each other for a while. There’s nothing in her face, no signal of excitement or of fear or of: this is a bad idea. I just see boredom.

“I still get to drive,” I say.

Read the whole thing here:

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