I’m Being Stalked.

It happened again.

dark side stalker

I was meandering through the dictionary (I knew I spelled “whininess” correctly, even though my spell check claimed there was no such word. I’m editing a story and it may or may not make the final cut, but the point is I WAS RIGHT.)

And there it was: Dark Side staring at me from another ad.

I love this, make no mistake, but it’s feeling a little… aggressive. Wherever I go, it’s already there. Waiting.

 

 

And the next thing you know…

 

 

dark side door

Free Short Story: “If It’s An If”

This story originally appeared in Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2, published in March 2012 by Wicked East Press. Let me know what you think! -Stefanie

If It’s An If

“What if I can’t give you a baby?”

His hand stilled on the taut skin of her belly. “Of course you will, my love. Don’t trouble yourself about it.” It resumed its lazy path around her navel, seeking lower.

She pushed it away and pulled the blanket up.

“And if I can’t? What then? Did you know Sylvia down the street is expecting her third? Her third, John. She’s younger than me, too, by a year.”

She felt his chest rise against her cheek as he inhaled deeply, then lower again as he sighed. He said nothing.

“I worry sometimes, is all.”

He leaned his head against the top of hers. “Hmm? About what?”

“Oh, about any number of things. That we’ll never fall pregnant. Or that we will, but I’ll be too old by then and it’ll have something wrong with it. Even more, I worry…” She looked down at her fingers twisting the hem of the coverlet. She whispered, “I worry that you’ll leave me.”

He kissed the crown of her head. “Darling, don’t think of it. You know the doctor says worry won’t help. Remember?”

She nodded. “I just want to make you happy.”

“When it happens, you’ll make me the happiest man alive.”

“When, when, when. You never say ‘if’. What if it’s an if?”

“Well.” He thought for a moment. “If it’s an if, we’ll just take Sylvia’s.”

She was sure she’d misheard. She turned her face up to meet his. He returned her gaze with a placid one of his own.

“Take…?”

“Oh, yes. There’s still a few months left before she brings home the new baby. We’ll keep trying for our own in the meantime.”

Her brow furrowed. Surely he didn’t mean it. Couldn’t possibly.

“Listen, we’ll only do it if we haven’t managed on our own by then.”

She began to feel dizzy.

“We’ll use the spare key. It’s under the rock by their door; I’ve seen Henry use it once or twice. He’s gone all day, and she always putters around in the garden while the kids nap. So: she’ll go out the back door, and we’ll come in the front. Simple.”

His face had relaxed into the same wistful expression it wore when he talked about the lottery. But now there was a certain sharpness in his eyes that made her breath catch.

“We’ll take him — I so hope it’s a boy, don’t you? — and drive up to the lake house for a while. There shouldn’t be many people around this time of year. We’ll have to find someplace new to live, after, of course. And we’ll need new names. Mine will be…Richard, I think. You can pick his.” He sighed again, contentedly this time. “A whole new life. We’ll be so happy, the three of us.”

He reached over and snapped off the light.

“Now get some rest, dear. Good night.”

New Horror Fiction: “Stakeout”

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“Partners Garrick and Ortega are assigned the stakeout of a suspicious house, using a thermal imaging camera. But when the equipment picks up a strange presence nearby, their mission takes a dark turn.”

Here’s a teaser:

“Holy shit, Eric, lookit this! Eric!”
“What?”
“Seriously, check it out. Number 126.”
“We’re supposed to be watching 124.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Dude, just look.”
“Quit calling me ‘dude’.” Garrick snatched the thermal scanner out of Ortega’s hand. “What am I looking at, exactly?”
“Heh. You’ll know.” Ortega leaned his seat back so Garrick could aim the thermal past him. Its screen changed colours as he traced the house across the street.
“Which one’s which, again?”
A small wisp passed over the screen as Ortega exhaled loudly. “I told you. Red is hot, blue’s cold. It’s not hard. You shoulda been paying attention in training.”
“Right. Well, us big boys sometimes have other things on our minds.” He twisted the gold band on his finger and thought about belting the kid, just once. “You keep your eyes on 124 while I’m looking at…whatever you find so interesting.”
“Uh-huh. I’ll let you know if I notice a nice man carrying a bushel of marijuana over his shoulder… See it yet?”
Garrick had traced the front bushes and first floor of the house: nothing but faint glimmers from the electricity in the walls. Now he raised the machine, sweeping back and forth as they’d been trained. Paid attention to something, you little shit, he thought. The screen reddened slightly as he aimed the imager up the stairs and past a warm room — a bathroom, someone probably had a shower — then at once the screen blazed with colour. There was movement, repetitive and rhythmic. “What the hell?” It was something living, for sure, but it was much bigger than a person…

Grab a copy and see what’s going on at Number 126…
What could be going on right next door to you…

Available now at Amazon and Smashwords, and soon on iTunes and B&N!

Excerpt from “You Only Live Once”, a Horror Story

“What they don’t tell you is what it feels like not to die.

They don’t tell you that the casket isn’t actually padded; that there’s only a bit of cushion under your head and shoulders, and that’s for your family to feel better, not you. You’re supposed to be dead.

They don’t tell you that the backs of your clothes will be cut away, and that you’re not so much wearing them as being covered by them, like lying under a quilt whose pieces are unattached. No one worries about decency, or dignity for that matter, when it comes to dead guys.

There’s no such thing as comfort, when you’re supposed to be dead. Take me: my left leg is broken just under the knee, because by the time they found my body it had stiffened oddly to the side. It’s all in how you fall, see, and it’s hard to worry about the convenient alignment of your body when you’re trying not to die in the first place. They cracked the bone to make it lie neatly in the casket, in case an inquisitive relative (nosey, they said, because they didn’t know I was listening) should happen to peep under the closed end of the box. They want you to look like you’re just resting, like even if you were able to get out, you’d still be there because it’s just so damned comfy.

No one sleeps like this: body ramrod straight, arms on chest, hands twined together. When you go to bed tonight, try it, then tell me if it’s how you’d want to spend eternity.

God, I hope I wink out before eternity.

At least now they’ve stopped fussing at me. I wouldn’t have thought myself a prudish person in life, but somehow when you know that you’re being stripped out of your soiled clothes and laid out, naked, to be washed by strangers, you develop sudden surprising shynesses. You try to remember whether you showered the morning she killed you, and whether or not you wore clean socks. It becomes paramount that the rubber-gloved attendant now seeing to your final needs not be embarrassed or disgusted on your behalf.

That’s not how you’d be remembered, if you could have a say. If they could hear you.”

– from You Only Live Once, a short horror story by Stefanie N Snider.
Get your copy from Amazon or Smashwords now!

Murder Nails

I tore his flesh, gouging out the tenderest meat with my nails, fingers aching with the effort. It was a harder go than I expected; humans, it turns out, aren’t made for ripping each other apart. Not with bare hands. But needs must, and I was so hungry…

bloody fingernails

Or, y’know…I’m just exceptionally bad at applying nail polish with my left hand. Whatever.

Colour is Sally Hansen’s Flirt, gory text is a possible story opening. Yes? No? We shall see.

(And yes, I cleaned it up after. And, also? You know when you write the same word too many times, and it stops making sense as a word and starts to look like gibberish? I’ve looked at this picture for too long, and my hand is starting to look all fucked up. I hope that’s just me. I have normal hands, promise.)

The End.

I just finished watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? for the first time (I know, I know, shame on me). It was a great film, but what I liked best was the ending.

Spoiler alert for those of us who have been under rocks since 1962.

Okay, so the best part was the precise cut at the moment the cops run down the beach to check on Blanche. I loved it because the movie ended right before we find out whether Blanche is dead. We see a psychotic Jane spinning and dancing in the crowd, and the crowd moving away, and the cops almost reaching Blanche, then BOOM! It’s over.

Did Blanche die? If so, will Jane be going to prison? When Blanche told Jane that she’d caused her own accident, was Blanche only trying to befriend Jane so Jane would go get help?

I loved it so much because I love complex endings. I love not being told precisely what happened. I love it when the exact ending is left up to my imagination.

It’s something I try to do with my own fiction: take What’s Inside, for example. The story has an ending, in a way, but it’s up to the reader to decide what comes next. Some reviews wanted the story to have been longer, and I get that some readers enjoy complete resolution. But I like leaving an end or two untied.

The flirtation between “finished-enough” to be satisfying and left “unfinished-enough” to let the reader interact with the story is something that excites me as a writer. I want you left curious. I want to encourage you to participate in the story, to think about it long after you’ve put the story down.

It worked in the case of Baby Jane, and I hope it works in my stories, too.

Kuchisake Onna: The Slit-Mouth Woman

kuchisake onna

“Kuchisake Onna, also known as The Slit-Mouth Woman, is a scary Japanese urban legend about a disfigured Japanese woman who brandishes a large scissors and preys on children. She has an enormous slit mouth, which extends from ear to ear in a horrible, permanent smile.

The Slit Mouth Woman walks the streets of Japan, wearing a surgical mask and hunting for children. If you cross her path, she will stop you and ask you a question. If you give her the wrong answer, there will be horrible consequences.

Picture the scene. You are walking home from school and your path takes you down a deserted city street. Suddenly, you hear a faint noise coming from the shadows. You glance over and see a beautiful woman standing there. She has long black hair and is wearing a beige trenchcoat. A surgical mask covers the lower half of her face. In Japan, wearing a surgical mask is not uncommon during flu season, to prevent spreading germs.

She steps out of the shadows and blocks your path.

“Am I beautiful?” she asks.

Before you can answer, she tears off her mask, revealing a hideously deformed face. Her huge mouth is sliced from ear to ear and gapes open revealing rows of sharp teeth and a big red disgusting tongue twisting and twirling inside.

“Am I beautiful NOW?” she screams.

Terrified, you struggle to answer her. If you say “No”, she pulls out a huge pair of scissors and kills you immediately, chopping off your head. If you say “Yes”, she takes her scissors and slices your mouth from ear to ear, making you look just like her. If you try to run away, she will hunt you down and kill you, by slicing you in two.

The only way to escape from Kuchisake Onna is to give a non-committal answer. If you say “You look average” or you look normal, she will be confused, giving you just enough time to run away.

There are many rumors about how Kuchisake Onna got her horribly disfigured mouth. Some say that her slit mouth is the result of plastic surgery that went horribly wrong. Others say that she was injured in a terrible car crash. Some even believe she is an escaped mental patient who was so demented that she cut her own mouth apart.

According to one legend, years ago, in Japan, there lived a very beautiful woman who was extremely vain and self-absorbed. Her husband was a very jealous and brutal man and he became convinced that she was cheating on him. In a fit of rage, he took a sword and slit her mouth from ear to ear, screaming “Who will think you’re beautiful now?” She became a vengeful spirit, and began wandering the streets of Japan, wearing a surgical mask to hide her terrible scars.”

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(via the Anime Lovers forum; which I came across by accident when I was using Google image search. I swear.)