My story recommendation of the week is for A Game of Lost Boys by Aaron Polson, from the January 2011 inaugural issue of Linger Fiction.
The ten-year-old protagonist of "A Game of Lost Boys" is still coming to grips with the loss five years earlier of his father, missing in action in Vietnam. Now his orphaned best friend is moving away, transferred to a different foster home. On one of their last nights together they wander a dark forest, trying to spook each other with scary stories, but the tales begin to strike too close to home.
I've read plenty of tales of mysterious, frightening things in the woods, but this one works particularly well because Polson brings it to a personal level. He conveys the parallels between the characters' boyish fears and their personal losses very effectively.
Aaron Polson has been publishing fiction for only a couple years, but has already sold short stories to Blood Lite II, Apex, Shimmer, and many other publications. His horror novel Loathsome, Dark and Deep is recently out from small publisher Belfire Press.
Linger Fiction is a new webzine, which I have a self-serving reason for promoting: the next issue will contain a story of mine. But I gladly admit that Linger must have lowered its standards for me, since my story has nowhere near the emotional impact of "A Game of Lost Boys."