#short stories


Last read:

  • Title:Demonia
  • Author:Bernardo Esquinca
  • Number of Pages: 167
  • Rating:★★★★☆
  • First published: 2011
  • Read: March 31, 2022 - April 10, 2022


  • This is the second Esquinca’s anthology that I read and it contains the short story (El contagio) that made me want to buy his books and read more from him.
  • My preferred stories were Adonde voy siempre es de nocheandEl contagio. I also really liked Manuscrito encontrado en un departamento vacíoandEl gran mal.
  • In this book, I noticed more obvious recurring themes, especially the protagonist browsing in bookstores of used books. That was very present. Also, the story El gran mal reminded me of Pabellón 27.
  • Overall, I enjoyed this one more than Los niños de paja. Moreover, I plan to read the next anthology: Mar negro. Although, I want to start the first novel of the Casasola Saga, since detective fiction is one of my favorite genres. 

Lily King follows up her 2020 novel Writers and Lovers with her first story collection, Five Tuesdays in Winter. Our critic Heller McAlpin says the book demonstrate’s King’s range, and “by range, we’re talking emotional range in addition to time and place. Five Tuesdays in Winter features stories that pull you in instantly and make you wonder what the author is going to spring on you next.” Read the full piece here!

– Petra

Afterparties, by Anthony Veasna So

Anthony Veasna So died unexpectedly in December 2020 – but in his debut collection Afterparties, he left us an indelible collection of characters that will live on. “His people are philosophical, queer, angry, bossy, romantic, unfaithful, filial, and defiant survivors,” says reviewerThúy Đinh – check out her full piece here.

Our own Andrew Limbong also profiled So – that story is here.

– Petra

over on patreon Space Bat asked for: ‘the weight of nothing behind you when walking up the sta

over on patreon Space Bat asked for: ‘the weight of nothing behind you when walking up the stairs’ and that got me thinking up some micro horror stories.

enjoy this itty bitty spooky anthology.

Halfway up the stairs you hear a crash in the kitchen. “Everything is fine!” your sister calls out as you rub your temple and sigh, “I managed to save the ice cream! I’ll be right behind you”. You have big doubts that everything is actually fine considering her track record with basic motor functions, but you figure you can both clean up the mess sometime before your parents get home. Despite your dramatics her clumsiness doesn’t really bother you. What does bother you is the fact that a step later you can hear her right behind you, just like she said she’d be, chatting away. Because between the fact that you never heard the creak of extra footsteps and the fact that there’s no way she made it to you that fast, her being there should be impossible.

You stop and grip the railing as every creepypasta you read in middle school flashes before your eyes.

“Are you sure everything is okay? Are you okay?” you ask.

“Um, of course I am?” she replies, “I caught those bowls like a ninja when I slipped! And…oh. Oh no. I slipped.”

The empty space behind you goes quiet, and when you finally get the courage to turn around you run to the kitchen with an instinctual urgency.

You find her body crumpled on the floor, a bowl of ice cream perfectly upright in each hand. The blood on the corner of the counter matches the growing pool underneath her head, and as you frantically call 911 you swear you hear the softest saddest laugh in the empty space behind you.

“I told you I caught them,” She whispers.

Halfway up the stairs you accept that no one is going to help you. Your family just watches God drag you into the attic like they watched your mother and you great aunt and your big sister. Ever since you were little you were told that they deserved it, that it was a punishment for great hidden sins that you just didn’t notice because you were too young and innocent. So there had to have been a mistake for them to pull you, pure and obedient you, out of bed to be marked, right?


Your father silently refuses to look you in the eye while you call for proof of your heresy and his cowardice makes you angrier than you’ve ever been in your entire life. So angry that you twist until you can get God’s wrist between your teeth and bite down until you can feel bone.

You choke on blue-black blood as your house fills with screams and every light in the neighborhood goes out.

Halfway up the stairs the lighthouse goes dark. The warm afternoon light streaming in through the windows is replaced by inky blackness as the water rushes in, thundering against the walls until it finally rises enough to settle one stair below you. There is no sloshing, no lapping of waves from the intruding sea as you turn to stare down into the grave-still void. There is only fear and tension and two tiny pin pricks of light that could be eyes far beneath the water’s surface. As you grip the railing for dear life a voice that sounds like ship hulls being ripped open burbles up from the depths and sprays a fine mist of ice cold salt water into the air.

“Last Chance.” The voice says.

It always says that. Every day for the past three days.

There is an urge inside you to walk down to the lights. An urge to sink, if only out of exhaustion over this new grim routine. Instead, you turn your back on the water and start to climb again. The light returns a little bit before you reach the top of the stairs and it makes you bold enough to look down. Nice and dry, just like always. Nice and normal.

Yup, if it weren’t for the thousands of scratch marks in the stone walls half way down that make you think of a great furious beast sharpening its claws, you could convince yourself that there’d never been anything there at all.

Halfway up the stairs the dude from the club grabs at your ass for the 4th time in 5 minutes and your flirty giggle fills the nearly empty stairwell. You said that the elevator in your apartment building was broken and in his haste he didn’t bother to check. They never do. You hop over the step with the tooth embedded in the concrete but he is too drunk to notice. They never do. Seconds later there are screams behind you as the walls open their jaws and he fights to escape the grasp of the hungry thing made of brick and meat that ignores you as you continue up. There is nothing behind you when you reach the second floor and open the door to your hall. There never is.

Another year of rent paid.

Halfway up the stairs you realize that Daisy isn’t following you. You look down to see her sitting with one shaky paw on the bottom step, the grey around her muzzle catching the moonlight as she looks up at you and whines. Without a word you go back down and scoop your old friend into your arms. It is the first time you have to carry her up the stairs. You do not know it yet, but you only have a month and a half left together.

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Standard hardcover with bright red stained edges. Order here!

Waterstones edition — signed! — nighttime look, with a rainbow stained edge. Order here!

(These Waterstones editions tend to sell out quickly.)

SCATTERED SHOWERS is my upcoming short story collection — nine stories, five of them brand new, with a Christmas story about Simon Snow

Montague Summers, vampire enthusiast and enjoyer of a good buckled shoe, is patron saint of CloisterMontague Summers, vampire enthusiast and enjoyer of a good buckled shoe, is patron saint of Cloister

Montague Summers, vampire enthusiast and enjoyer of a good buckled shoe, is patron saint of CloisterFox zine. We’re selling enamel pins of his favourite phrase, “Tell me strange things”, to fund the project. Get yours!

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Damnable Tales: An Interview with Richard Wells & Book Review

Damnable Tales: An Interview with Richard Wells & Book Review

Damnable Tales: A veritable tome of classic Folk Horror stories from the pens of Shirley Jackson, MR James, Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood and numerous other luminary writers, selected and illustrated by master print-maker Richard Wells. Folk Horror Revival recently interviewed Richard and reviewed his illustrated opus … Read on or be Damned.

FHR: Hello Richard. Thank You for agreeing to talk…

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Green, Unpleasant, Isle by Richard Freeman: Book Review

Think of ‘British Horror’ and what comes to mind? In this circle perhaps your mind turns to witchcraft shenanigans of centuries past or ritual cult activity in sleepy places in more recent times. Perhaps in the wider society of horror the refined hauntings of the likes of The Innocents or MR James scholarly tales may spring to thought. Or perhaps the gothic kitsch of Hammer movies.


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You have come to see the divine procession.

Last thing you knew, you were standing in CVS to buy flowers and chocolates for your sweetheart, but then you stepped outside and saw the procession in all its glory, and remembered that thisis what you’re really supposed to be doing. So now you are running towards the parade, running as though you might miss it if you don’t get there fast enough. You take the head off one of the roses and strew its petals on the ground, singing.

You’ve been feeling listless lately, and the arrival of the Mad God is something to look forward to. It is a spectacle. He’s brought through the city streets on a ship that rolls along the ground like a carriage, and he is accompanied by a train of masked revelers: women with sticks and loose dresses, men with ugly masks and dragging leather phalloi between their legs. Leaves and flowers, bright torches, the clash of cymbals and wail of flutes. The screaming has already started.

You have not seen the god before. You do not know what he looks like, but you thought you saw a mask that was intended to be his face. You remember it had a crown of vines, and bovine horns, and a manic expression. You ask the person next to you, “Why is the god mad?” and they turn their head much too slowly. They wear a theatrical satyr mask, with curling horns, and a too-wide mouth that looks like a gaping hole that is laughing at you.

“Don’t you know?


Oh.Well, why do you think, then?”

You have not considered this question before. It has something to do with wine, you think, but that can’t be all there is to it. You decide that the god is mad because he wants to be; he’s a god, he can be whatever he wants. So if he didn’t want to be mad, he wouldn’t be.

The boat-carriage is drawn by magnificent leopards with golden pelts. You pet one as it passes, running your hand through its silken fur, and it licks your wrist.

The procession passes, and behind it, in the negative space where it just was, is a swamp.  The swamp is swollen with meltwater. There are half-buried jars of wine in the mud, left open. The whole world is open today, so the dead are here. The god brought them up with him, and they come in their own pale procession, silent. They are thirsty. They are attracted by the blood of the living. You don’t have any blood to give them, so they swarm like insects around the open wine jars half-buried in the swampy ground. They are here not as a menace, but as friends and guests, which is why they get the first of the wine.

You beckon a lost soul towards the jar nearest to you, and it comes like a shy cat to a bowl of milk. “Who did you used to be?” you ask it. It looks up at you with hollow eyes, and does not answer.

You return to the center of the city, and find that the revel is in full swing. You push through the red silk, the incense smoke, the mass of masked faces and writhing bodies. Your ears echo with the cacophony of obscene screams. The architecture of the city is strange, off somehow, though you can’t place it. These buildings look ancient, but not derelict — their ivy-twined columns are still standing, and their walls burnished white.

You don’t know where you’re going, but you arrive at a small perfumed tent draped in red, where someone is dancing in a dim spotlight. It is a young man, dressed like a harem girl in sheer purple scarves, with ribbons and flowers in his hair. His dark hair swirls around him like the smoke, and in a blur of arms he swaps out the masks in front of his face — a comic rictus, an evil grimace, a horned beast, a beautiful woman. Bells tinkle on his ankles as he dances to the eerie flute music. You sit down on a plush purple couch and watch him, mesmerized. Someone throws coins at his feet. He ignores them.

He playfully throws one of his scarves at you, and it lands on your head, draping over your face. Through its translucent fabric, he seems distorted, uncanny. He beckons you to dance with him. Some distant voice in your head tells you that you should not take it, that you will make a mockery of all decency if you dance like that. But the voice is not very powerful, not in comparison to the glint of his leaf-colored eyes. So you step up onto the raised platform. You try to match his slow, sensuous movements, but you can’t make your hips do that serpentine thing that he does. Laughing, he takes your hands in his, and lifts a ceramic cup to your lips. You don’t remember seeing him receive a drink, but now there is a cup pressing your lips apart. You take a sip of whatever’s in the cup — it’s a rich, sweet wine. It almost tastes like honey, and you greedily take a larger gulp of before he pulls the cup away.

Maybe it’s the smoke, or maybe it’s something in the wine, but you are starting to hallucinate. The man has horns. You are certain they aren’t connected to his mask; no, they are thick, curving bovine horns that stretch like branches from the wreath of leaves on his head. Was there an ivy wreath on his head before? You can’t remember.

Dizzy and intoxicated, you lie down on the nearest couch, sinking into red and purple silk. Your brain is starting to blink like fireflies. You grope up at the young man’s mask, like a cat batting at a ball of yarn, and pull it off. The horns do not come away with it. The man has a very pretty, androgynous face, framed by his dark curls that hang down like vines as he leans over you. His cheeks are flushed. “Hi,” he says cheerfully. “I hope you’re having fun.”

“Fun…” you mumble.

“You’ve been so stressed and anxious lately. Life getting to you? I thought you should take a load off. You deserve it.” He smiles a golden-honey grin. “Please don’t ask why. You alwaysask why.”

“Who are you?” you ask.

But you know. You know. Beneath his eyes is swirling, primordial blackness. It calls to you, tugs at you, entices you to dive headfirst into the abyss.

“I can’t stay long,” he whispers. “I’m getting married tonight.”

“Oh… congrats. To whom?”

“To the queen!” He giggles coquettishly. “She’s waiting for me. But I’ve still got time to play…”

You miss the rest of the sentence, but it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters right now, except for his presence, which is considerably bigger than his body. It’s like he’s glowing with a warm and seductive radiance that fills the whole tent, that both envelops and penetrates you.

His lips taste like ripe grapes.

You wonder, briefly, if this is what the queen will experience when he comes to her in her ritual chamber for their secret and sacred marriage. You wonder if maybe this isthe ritual chamber. You are dimly aware that the tent is now empty except for you and him, but you can still hear the screams and laughter and music tangling together just outside the tent.

“Life can be delicious you know.” He takes a swig from the same cup as before and smirks at you. “It doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be painful. It can be all bright colors and heady scents and fine tastes. Voluptuous.”

That’s crazy, you want to say. Of course life is hard. You’d have to be mad to believe otherwise. But you don’t say that. Instead, you start laughing, laughing until your sides split and your face splits. The laughter doesn’t really sound like your own. This can’t be your voice, can it? But still, you feel the rush of catharsis. Whoever told you that life was about suffering? All you’ve ever wanted was to laugh in their face.

This is the real Secret, you think. Not that ‘law of attraction’ bullshit. THIS. Milk and honey, wine and blood. Something older, older, older than human footsteps. This is whythere are gods. Gods are what you see when you pull back the curtain. Are the Mysteries all this obvious? Seized with sudden mania, you start dancing again, and your ecstatic screams rise to join the rest. You don’t remember your own name or who you were before you got here, or what your real face looks like. Maybe this isyour real face.

You are surrounded by people now, though you don’t remember leaving the tent. Their torches sting your eyes. Burning, burning, burning. They bare bright smiles, genuinely joyful, but with sharp and bloody teeth. They have snakes entwined in their hair and draped over their shoulders like scarves. Some have the faces of satyrs, bulls, goats, cats, foxes, bears, owls, moths, dragonflies, bees, kings… Some are alive and some are dead, but you can’t quite tell the ghosts from the living. They surround you in a great ring, joining hands, singing that strange and wild song that you’ve been half-hearing all night. Flowers spring up on the flagstones wherever you step. That bright, blooming energy that you felt before rises within your own chest. It’s in you now, the god is swelling inside you now. You no longer fit in your own skin. You flail, you thrash, you stamp your feet, you keep screaming: “EUOI! EUOI! IO DIONYSOS!”

Sweet is the pleasure the god brings us in the mountains.
when from the running revelers
he falls to the ground clad in his sacred fawnskin. Hunting
the blood of slaughtered goats for the joy of devouring raw flesh
Hail to the Roaring God, Bromios our leader! Euoi!
The ground flows with milk,
Flows with wine,
Flows with the nectar of bees.

You are sitting on a swing, your legs pumping you back and forth. You don’t remember why. Something about the god having cursed the city’s women to hang themselves as punishment for having killed his worshippers, unless they swung in atonement and remembrance. But you know that can’t be the real reason — swinging is no punishment, not like this. It’s fun. Your heart swells as the swing arcs towards the sky. You feel like you could lift right off of it and go soaring through the heavens, towards the rising sun, with no wax wings to bring you down. Something about the swing feels so freeing,even if you are locked in place, not moving anywhere. Back and forth, back and forth… it’s lulling, like a song that was sung to you once in your distant childhood, or a dream you once had. When you get off, unsteady on your feet, you feel a burden has been lifted. 

Now the time has come. Now the flowers are here.

My entry for Dionysia Ta Astika this year! 

bitch-media: Flannery O’Connor is getting her own postage stamp! Born in Georgia, O’Connor attended


Flannery O’Connor is getting her own postage stamp! 

Born in Georgia, O’Connor attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was always determined to be an author. She had lupus, so at age 25, she moved back to Georgia, where her mother helped take care of her. O'Connor used crutches to get around, raised peacocks, and wrote novels like Wise Blood that came to define Southern Gothic. Her work was twice nominated for the National Book Award before  she died in 1964 at just 39 years old.

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Podcast Feature: Short Holiday Stories

I’ll be featuring short stories submitted by new and seasoned authors to be featured on my Author Podcast Show. Keep reading for more information on how to submit your story! #writingcommunity #podcast #shortstories #submissions #holidayfun

With the holidays right around the corner, I want to hear your stories! For November and December, I’ll be featuring short stories submitted by new and seasoned authors to be featured on my Author Podcast Show. This is my way of showing support to indie authors and the work they put into their craft. Keep reading for more information on how to submit your story!

Submission Criteria:


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We’re happy to announce that we’re up to $5,000!!! Because we reached our first reward goal, we’re adding the Matador design by Carmen Pizarro to our Postcard Pack!!!


“I liked him right away because he sat at the kitchen table and read books for hours.”

— Judith Ortiz Cofer, American History

New from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and CheNew from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and CheNew from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and CheNew from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and CheNew from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and CheNew from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and CheNew from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and CheNew from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and CheNew from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and Che

New from Yale University Press, I Live In the Slums, by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping. In Can Xue’s world the superficial is peeled away to reveal layers of depth and meaning. Her stories observe no conventions of plot or characterization and limn a chaotic, poetic state ordered by the extreme logic of philosophy. 

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