Apex Magazine is a free online SF/horror magazine. You can read the April issue here.
This issue of Apex starts with “Dying with Her Cheer Pants On” by Seanan McGuire (also available in audio form in this issue). The tale should be whimsical, but it’s not, pitting a team of cheerleaders, narrow escapees from a vicious alien invasion, against the creatures that killed most of the people at the homecoming game. But this is no Buffy the Alien Slayer, instead it’s a tale of a fantasy and horror showdown against science fiction. Humorous as pitting an urban legend against alien invaders might be, McGuire pulls it off without a tongue-in-cheek or sarcastic style, instead making her cheerleaders the ultimate superheroes.
Another urban fantasy staple, Mark Henry, follows with “Seafoam”. Henry picks up the tongue-in-cheek where McGuire kept things serious, but there’s still a mismatch with “Seafoam”, which uses a humorous tone to tell a serious story of stalking, mermaids/aliens and a shoe fetish. Skewing another urban legend, this one being The Licker, who slips in through the dog door and licks the babysitter’s feet while she’s half asleep, Henry makes the villain less of a bad guy and more of a hapless, and by the end, helpless, guy with a kink that leads into all kinds of troubles. Light as the tone may be, the level of the obsession and actions taken concerning it are genuinely spooky.
“Snipe Hunting” by Jennifer Brozek rounds out this issue (the Close Encounters of the Urban Kind promo issue). This short, punchy tale capitalizes on the city folk vs country folk legends, specifically of “snipe hunting”, the practice of sending ignorant city folk out hunting mythical creatures in the woods. The scary bits involve what the city slicker actually finds in the shadows of the woods.
Overall it’s a fun issue, like a twisted fairy tales theme, only with urban legends instead. A little cheesy (like the legends themselves) but well done and definitely entertaining.