“What’s Inside” Goes Audio!

This is one of the most flattering things that has ever happened to me.

Last week I was approached by a voice actor interested in doing a reading of my short story, What’s Inside. I listened to one of his other recordings and signed on immediately.

It came out today and I am so excited to share it with you! Cody has his own voice, as does Mrs Chappel, and hearing the two of them together… I’m not gonna lie. I got goosebumps. (Or ‘goosey bumps’, as per one psychopathic little boy.)

So close your eyes. Settle in.

I think I hear someone screaming…

 

Check out Immunity Zero’s YouTube channel for this and other creepy stories, and watch for more collaborations between us in future!

Horror’s Not Dead

horror dead

 

…is it?

I like to read horror novels (shocker, I know). They’re my favourite night reads, nestled under the covers and with a hot cup of tea on the nightstand. And though I don’t read horror exclusively, it’s fair to say that as one honing my writing craft, I tend to focus on my own genre.

So I went to Chapters the other day, looking for a few fresh reads to see me through my week off from DayJob. I beelined to the horror section, which has recently been relegated to the far back corner.

There used to be a whole horror aisle: shelves on both sides piled high with scares.

Then horror was squeezed to one side of the aisle, with a shelf or two of overflow on the other.

But now it’s dwindled even more. The horror section is now being encroached upon by true crime, and sports some unsettling bare spots to boot.

What happened? In my personal life alone, I know a handful of horror fans. I know more online (and I’m lucky enough to interact with a number of them, here and through Facebook). I know we’ll never be as big a market as, say, romance, but come on. It was 75 percent Stephen King and the rest was mostly stuff I’ve already read, by a very few authors.

Is it the paper book itself that is suffering, accounting for that tiny sliver of (physical) shelf space? Is it the genre? There are new horror movies out all the time; it can’t be the scares themselves. So what gives?

You’re here, and that almost certainly means you’re on Team Spooky. So where the hell is everyone else?! Should I feel excited at the apparent lack of “competition”, or should I entertain this soul-crushing doubt that tells me the good ol’ days are over?

If you’re out there, speak up! Come say hi! Tell me you exist! Us weirdos need to stick together.

Dark Side: Seven Repulsive Stories

My first collection of scary tales is now available! Get my first seven short horror stories for a low package price. Contains the stories:

Dump Room
Boogeyman
Screee
Mr Buster’s Bodies
Better Fat Than Dead
Overtime

and my most disturbing story yet, What’s Inside

Yeah. That last one raises some eyebrows.

New Horror Story: You Only Live Once

When the body dies, the soul should be free to leave.

But what if the soul gets trapped? What if it’s left inside to listen…to think…to plot revenge…

What if it manages to bring the body back?

You Only Live Once, the brand-new horror short by yours truly, is available now from Amazon and Smashwords.

New Story in the Works

I’m editing my newest horror story tonight. It should be ready and up by this weekend sometime. This is my favourite part of writing: when it’s almost ready for you guys to read. It’s like watching someone open something you bought them; half the fun is had by the person who knows what’s in the box.

Things I need:
-an image of a coffin that isn’t stupid
-a few more hours of editing work
-a strong cup of coffee

Keep an eye out this weekend for the new piece. It…goes in a new direction from my other stories (WINK), and I’m pretty happy with it.

In the meantime, check out my previous stories:

Needles & Pins

Feed

What’s Inside

Overtime

Mr Buster’s Bodies

Dump Room

Better Fat Than Dead

Double Creature, which contains the shorts ‘Screee’ and ‘Boogeyman’

Dark Side: Seven Repulsive Stories

Free Horror Story: Dump Room

Welcome new followers, I’m glad you’re here.

I’m reposting my free horror story, Dump Room, for those of you who haven’t read it yet. Let me know what you think!

This one’s silly and gross, and I had a blast writing it. Enjoy! -Stefanie

 

Dump Room

Melissa pried back the white plastic lid and tipped the bucket unceremoniously over a large sieve.

A hand flopped out and lay there in the plastic mesh, palm up, fingers curled.

She leaned over to get a better angle through her thick plastic mask. Female, looks like. Huh.

Once the hand had drained, she lifted the sieve and flipped it over into a lined container marked BIOHAZARD. The hand fell wetly on top of the sundry pieces already laying there; a gallbladder, a kidney, a tumour with the eye and lid still attached.

The mask she wore was chafing again. She scrunched her cheeks, trying to unstick the rubber gasket that was gouging a raw red ring into her skin. It wouldn’t budge, stuck slick against the sweat beading on her face. She sighed, the sound amplified oddly behind the industrial mask.

Better get a couple more done before break, she thought.

Sighing inwardly, she reached for the next bucket. The shelves were full this time; it would take her the rest of the day, easily, and maybe some of the next.

It hadn’t been her first choice, this job. It wouldn’t be anyone’s. But it was necessary.

An overtired supervisor had shown her to the dim room. It was cramped, tucked in behind the Pathology labs, and even through the door Melissa could smell the chemicals inside.

“This is the dump room,” the woman, Cheryl, had said. “Anything comes offa you or outta you, we keep it here in case someone decides they want to sue us. After six months, everything in here’s gotta be thrown out.” She’d swung the door wide and swept Melissa inside.

“Masks, here.” She pointed as she spoke. “Gowns, gloves, shoe covers. Buckets. If you can’t get them open, I can get you a pry tool, but I don’t like to use them. More chance of a splash.”

Melissa had hoped her grimace wasn’t obvious.

“Now, you need to know that these containers might hold anything. Breasts, feet, products of conception.” She’d looked at Melissa, her eyes softening a little. “That’s babies. Miscarriages, abortions. If you can’t deal with that we can find someone else.”

“No, I’ll be fine,” Melissa said, her voice cheerful, wanting so badly to make a good impression. Anything to get a job here. Anything.

Cheryl had nodded curtly and slipped out, leaving Melissa alone with pieces of strangers.

That first time the job had been half done already; Cheryl said the intern before her had moved on suddenly. Melissa had made short work of the dumping, and had been given the dubious honour of “Disposal Attendant”. The job paid next to nothing, but her internship was unpaid altogether and she was nearing the end of her loan.

Now she peeled back the opaque plastic lid.

Weird, she thought, there’s nothing in this one.

She swirled the murky preservative around; still nothing surfaced. She shrugged and poured the liquid out in the dump sink beside the sieve.

An ear, badly burnt, plopped into the shiny steel sink. It lay there, shrivelled and raw.

“Gross,” she said to the empty room. She flexed one gloved hand and reached down to pick it up. Her fingers stopped just shy of the lobe; for a second she thought of what it might feel like and almost didn’t touch it at all.

She’d imagined hard brittleness, but what she felt when she plucked it from the sink was warm soft flesh.

Reflex made her fling it away; it stuck to the back wall of the sink and began, before her horrified eyes, to slide back down.

She gagged a little.

Finally it flipped end over end and came to rest again by the drain.

Melissa looked around for tongs, pliers, anything so she wouldn’t have to feel it’s warmth against her glove. She found a pencil lying along the back of the counter, but couldn’t bring herself to pierce the tissue.

Reluctantly, she extended her hand again. She exhaled, steeled herself, and scooped the offending organ up. She tossed it into the waste box, where it vanished down the side.

Melissa shuddered. Screw this. I’m taking my break.

She shucked her gown off and turned to hang it on the hook.

A sound, a very, very quiet sound, came from behind her.

She stopped, held her breath, waited.

It was muffled, but it was there. The crackle of shifting plastic.

She knew right away, but she turned to be sure: it was coming from the box on the floor. The big yellow one with all the…parts.

She moved closer, shoved the box with the toe of her sneaker.

Waited.

Nothing. Stop being a dumbass.

She peeled the thick rubber gloves down and flung them onto the counter. The booties could wait—they were a pain in the ass anyway.

She nudged the lid into place with one denim-clad knee and turned to leave.

Wait.

The lid had been on, firmly, before she took her gown off. Cheryl had stressed the importance of covering the…waste…as a personal safety precaution. Melissa had clamped the lid down, she was sure of it.

But then it had been open, just a little, tilted back on an angle.

You’re losing it. Get out of the fumes.

She turned

then

a long, slick piece of intestine coiled its way up her leg. Melissa shrieked and kicked, trying to dislodge the thing. It only snugged tighter, climbing higher until it reached her thigh. One end swung itself across her and wrapped around her other leg, rendering her immobile. The other end was still pinched in the lid of the hazard container.

She screamed then, the shrill sound dead against the insulating rows of plastic.

Her hands shook; her body shuddered. This isn’t happening.

She forced a quivering hand down and pulled at the ropey gore, but it was steadfast. And the lid was sliding back again…

Melissa tried to scissor her legs apart; to force enough slack to run.

A fingertip appeared. Two. The hand gripped the lip of the waste box and tensed, trying to pull itself over. Suddenly it fell, pushed by a blob of amorphous meat that splatted down beside it.

The intestine was squeezing harder, made stronger by the chemicals that preserved it. It was up to her stomach now. She gaped down in horror. Dark blue veins pulsed with hideous life. A wet trail of chemical fixative marked its ascent. The pockets in the intestine contracted and expanded, propelling it as it slithered up toward her chest.

Bits of gore rained down from the yellow bucket on the floor and began inching closer. The errant ear from earlier rode perched atop the gnarled hand, whose cracked and blackened nails clicked on the tile as it approached.

The hand reached her in seconds, it seemed, and began tugging on her pant leg. Its fingertips clenched the fabric, urging her back towards the spreading pool of excised tissue. The grisly stump at the wrist thumped against the floor as it pulled.

The intestines were almost at her neck now, cuddled into the hot pulse at her throat. The severed end reached up and lovingly stroked her face—

The door behind her swung open.

Instantly the undead tissue fell to the floor, harmless again.

Cheryl stood in the doorway, mouth open in shock as she surveyed the scene. Bits and pieces lay scattered around the floor. Melissa stood stiff at the centre of the carnage.

“What the hell are you doing in here?” Cheryl demanded.

“It…they…attacked me!”

“They who?”

Melissa struggled to speak. The open end of intestine lying across her shoe burped, releasing a mouthful of fixative.

She ran, screaming, from the room. Cheryl watched her go with open disgust.

“They think they’ll handle it, but they never do.” She sighed, grabbed some gloves from her pocket, and set about cleaning the glistening mess.

Upcoming Stephen King: Doctor Sleep

From StephenKing.com:

“Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.”

I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, The Shining is one of my favourite King novels. I think it might be interesting to revisit Danny and see him grown up; how does he cope with his psychic powers as an adult? What kind of psychological damage may have been caused by his father’s breakdown and death? I’m excited to find out what happened to one of my favourite King characters.

On the other hand, it feels a little gimmicky. Now, I adore Stephen-King-the-person AND Stephen-King-the-writer. He’s a big part of why I love horror. It just makes me a little preemptively disappointed to revisit the same topic (psychic children) in a next-generation format. I’m worried it will turn out to be just another reboot; I’m not sure this story will be new enough to be as good as The Shining.

I’ll be buying it on release day (January 15, 2013), like I do all his others. And I’ll be putting in long nights reading. I’m just hoping against hope that this one lives up to my expectations.