Crawl across the earth and dig in the dirt. Feel it. Tearing at your nails, gritty between your teeth, filling your nostrils. Consume it until it has consumed you. For there you will find the voices that have called from the shadows, the ones that promise to cherish you only to rip your body to shreds.
In Everything That’s Underneath, Kristi DeMeester explores the dark places most people avoid. A hole in an abandoned lot, an illness twisting your loved one into someone you don’t recognize, lust that pushes you farther and farther until no one can hear yours cry for help. In these 18 stories the characters cannot escape the evil that is haunting them. They must make a choice: accept it and become part of what terrifies them the most or allow it to consume them and live in fear forever.
“Kristi DeMeester’s wonderfully disturbing Everything That’s Underneath features a cast of characters who are as emotionally raw and authentic as they are haunted. DeMeester’s mothers and daughters, struggling at the edges of a society/economy as cold and uncaring as the universe, succumb in the face of horrors made even more terrifying by their nagging sense of familiarity. A dark, intelligent, relentless collection."
— Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock
“In Everything That’s Underneath, Kristi DeMeester lays out a series of evocative visions and bizarre terrors that deftly meld the gothic, religious, and darkly fantastic to tell tales of body horror and transformation. Her fiction explores the ways we are often betrayed by our flesh and led astray by our own desires. DeMeester is a rising star of weird horror, and this debut collection is evidence that her transformative visions are destined to leave their mark.”
— Simon Strantzas, author of Burnt Black Suns
“With these stories Kristi DeMeester conjures earthy magic out of seemingly ordinary circumstances. Her characters, through ritual and instinct, discover a rough connection to all living things, but that connection may not bring comfort. This is DeMeester’s particular brand of cosmic horror, coming from deep down in the bones, imbued with animal vitality and ingrained wisdom. She’s bringing themes of every day life, including love and domestic violence, to a much larger canvas and simultaneously taking nature at large to a deeply personal level. The effects are uncanny and unsettling. A young writer, Demeester is already established as a talent to watch in horror and weird fiction. I look forward to more of these dark, fierce, disturbing tales.”
— S.P. Miskowski, author of Stag in Flight
“When Kristi DeMeester weaves a tapestry of tales, there is no escaping. On every level these stories fascinate, hypnotize, threaten, and reveal. On the surface, your skin will flush; in your heart, lost desires will bubble to the surface; in your mind, these intricate mythologies will teach you what is possible; and in your soul, you are complicit—seeking dark magic to free you from what has been seen. One of my favorite authors writing today, this collection is a visceral, haunting, and stirring experience.”
— Richard Thomas, author of Tribulations and Breaker
“Kristi DeMeester is not afraid to peel back the skin of things. Like many of the characters in these stories learn, true horror is often inside us, threaded in the tissue and marrow so there is no escape from it. Perhaps even worse, we are horrors to one another. Carrying a Southern Gothic light into the shadows of horror and weird fiction, her prose sings in your ear as her plots reach around your throat. Everything That’s Underneath is an essential collection and shows a major new voice crawling out of the dark.”
— Michael Wehunt, author of Greener Pastures
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Everything That’s Underneath
The Wicked Shall Come Upon Him
To Sleep Long, To Sleep Deep
The Beautiful Nature of Venom
Like Feather, Like Bone Worship
Only What She Bleeds (short story original to collection)
The Tying of Tongues
The Long Road
The Lightning Bird (short story original to collection)
The Dream Eater
Daughters of Hecate
Birthright (novelette original to collection)
All That Is Refracted, Broken
To Sleep in the Dust of the Earth
Kristi DeMeester is the author of Beneath, a novel published by Word Horde. Her short fiction has been reprinted or appeared in Ellen Datlow's The Best Horror of the Year Volume 9, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volumes 1 and 3, in addition to publications such as Black Static, Apex, and several others. In her spare time, she alternates between telling people how to pronounce her last name and how to spell her first. This is her first short fiction collection.