In every slasher movie, the first girl to die is a slut or a druggie or both. She is listed as Waitress or Girl in Bathtub or Hot Barista or Girl #2 in the credits. Over the years, a horde of these first girls—these nameless druggie sluts—crawl out of frame and dislodge axes and knives from their heads. They reassemble mangled flesh. They spraypaint burnt appendages to better resemble once-supple skin. They have sex with one another and shoot heroin and consider their options. They pick up pieces of fallen comrades from other subgenres—stitching together zombie corpses, pulling stakes from vampire hearts—and they shack up in an old warehouse. They light candles that never burn out to combat a darkness that never recedes. They distribute earplugs to drown out the howling werewolves and squealing pigs and shrieking final girls and unsilent lambs in the hills. These first girls use whiteboards to communicate, and they sketch strategies for the other horror subgenre constituents. They distribute weapons and learn how to use them. They jot Time to move on the whiteboards, and an army of dejected, half-formed things follows them into the fog. They tiptoe over skeletons and make their way to all the cabins in all the woods.
James R. Gapinski (they/them) is the author of the novella Edge of the Known Bus Line. James is also the author of three fiction chapbooks: The Last Dinosaurs of Portland, Fruit Rot, and Messiah Tortoise. Their short fiction has appeared in the Best Microfiction 2023 anthology, Heavy Feather Review, Juked, Maudlin House, Paper Darts, SmokeLong Quarterly, and other publications. Learn more at http://jamesrgapinski.com or follow them on Bluesky @jamesrgapinski.bsky.social.
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