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“Through the Ghostlands” by Rose Blackthorn in DREAD: A HEAD FULL OF BAD DREAMS

Through the Ghostlands by Rose Blackthorn in Dread: A Head Full of Bad Dreams horror anthology from Grey Matter Press



The end of the world came in the blink of an eye.

Three survivors of a devastating global calamity are struggling to make their way through a dead world while desperately searching for what may remain of civilization. While nothing lives on land, in the ocean or in the sky, the three travelers soon learn they are far from alone. Pursued by a menacing supernatural force, the trio learns they must put their differences aside in order to ensure their mutual safety.

Survive the apocalypse in “Through the Ghostlands” by Rose Blackthorn, featured in DREAD: A Head Full of Bad Dreams.



Travel “Through the Ghostlands” by Rose Blackthorn



The Pacific stretched away before her as far as she could see. The water was the grey of brushed nickel, so close a match to the color of the sky that she couldn’t distinguish the line of the horizon. A fitful breeze teased at her hair, tangling it around her face, the salt-tang of seawater nearly lost beneath the stronger scent of chemicals and rotting meat.

She stared out at desolation, trying to match it to her memories. In her mind’s eye, the water was all shades of blue, and the sky was filled with jostling white clouds tinted cotton-candy pink from the lowering sun. The pictures she carried in her imagination included seagulls, double-arched white abstracts floating far out above the waves. Black oystercatchers and common murres gathered in rocky tide pools, searching for shellfish, while pelicans, with their distinctive loose pouch below the bill, flew in dignified formation along the beach.

A gust of wind, blowing loose sand that skittered and hissed along the empty strand, brought her out of her daydream. She coughed dryly, wishing she could clear the underlying stench from her sinuses. It was pervasive, niggling at her like a half-remembered nightmare.


The voice, nearly swept away by the strengthening breeze, made her turn. At the top of the high sand dune stood a slender figure. For a second, she had a dizzying memory of a traveling carnival she’d gone to years ago, looking into the warped funhouse mirror that made her reflection so tiny and far away. She blinked, raising her hand in response, then started the climb up the loose pile of sand to where her twin sister waited.

“Nothing?” London asked, gazing out across the endless expanse of dull, grey water, one hand raised to shade her eyes.

“No,” Brooklyn replied, panting a little for breath when she reached the apex of the dune. The dry, stubborn remains of seagrass still covered much of the dunes that stretched north and south as far as they could see. But it was all dead, no new growth or even the hint of green. When the grass finally began to disintegrate in the salt and chemical laden air, the dunes would be able to continue their march inland with no root system to hold them in place.

“Dare was right,” London said and turned her back on the desolate view.

“He usually is,” Brooklyn agreed, wanting to say I told you so, but holding it back. There was no point.

“Maybe if we go farther north,” London began, starting once more the litany of hope that had brought them hundreds of miles across a dying land to the dead ocean behind them. “Maybe there are still plants growing, farther away from the equator. If we get up into what was Canada, or even to Alaska, where there weren’t so many people living—”

“Lonny,” Brooklyn interrupted, wanting to rub her temples in irritation, “Just, please. Can you…can you just give it a rest? Just for a while.”

London pressed her lips together and clenched her teeth. She knew from Brooklyn’s tone that she really didn’t want to hear it right now. But she couldn’t let her sister give up, not even for a moment. If she gave up for just a second, even a second, in her heart… Well, that would be the beginning of the end for them.


Dread A Head Full of Bad Dreams horror anthology from Grey Matter Press



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More About DREAD

DREAD is a unique volume of dark fiction containing stories chosen solely by fans and featuring an array of award-winning authors and masters from the horror, science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction genres.

DREAD contains nightmares from some of the most accomplished authors writing in genre fiction today, including New York Times bestselling author and multiple Bram Stoker Award® winner Jonathan Maberry; Grand Master of Horror Award winner Ray Garton; Stoker award recipients John Everson and JG Faherty, and nominees Michael Laimo and John F.D. Taff; Shirley Jackson Award nominee Tim Waggoner; Pushcart and Rhysling awards nominee Edward Morris; Nightmare Award winner Trent Zelazny; and leading fiction authors Bracken MacLeod, William Meikle, John C. Foster, T. Fox Dunham, Rose Blackthorn, Chad McKee, Martin Rose, Jane Brooks, Peter Whitley, J. Daniel Stone and Jonathan Balog.