From one hundred of the world’s finest storytellers of the macabre comes an epic anthology of short form terror fiction that will frighten, disturb and delight the reader.
This is the cover of the latest anthology from Forgotten Tomb Press. I really like it: the sharp colours and crisp fonts, the open door leading to some unseen horror… oh, and the names of the authors on the cover too. In fact, the one second from bottom is my favourite 😉 (click image to enlarge)
Originally longlisted in the Writing on the Wall: Flash in the Dark competition, I have a flash fiction in here called Sweet Dreams – and there are 99 others too… take a look, if horror is your thing.
As a Halloween treat, you can read my story below. Don’t have nightmares! 😉
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by SJI Holliday
It started with little things. A jacket left on the sofa ending up on the back of a door. An untidy screed of mail found neatly stacked and ordered. She wondered if she was tidying things in her sleep; her subconscious mind finally making her sort out her life.
It niggled her, of course. But it wasn’t enough to really worry about. She was sleeping much better, you see. She’d always been someone who’d struggled to get to sleep and stay asleep; spent the night blinking at shadows, imagining dark figures watching her. Staring at the gap between the wonky wardrobe doors in the darkness of the room, sleep-deprived mind inventing a bogeyman living in there.
Waiting for him to appear.
She’d tried all the usual stuff. Herbal remedies. Camomile tea. Even lettuce sandwiches – apparently there was a amino acid in lettuce that was supposed to trick your body into sleep. She’d started having a small glass of water and lemon before bed; although she rarely drank the whole lot. She’d prepare the drink, leave it by her bedside before popping through to clean her teeth and wash her face; then she’d settle under the covers, drink half then find herself drifting off.
Since she’d started the routine her sleep had been deep and she rarely woke before dawn. Could she finally be hitting that deep sleep state? Sleepwalking her way to a tidy house with no memory of it when she woke? The thing that worried her most was the grogginess. She woke with a fuzziness in her head; a dryness in her mouth. Vague memories of strange dreams that evaporated when she woke. A low feeling of unease bubbling under the surface.
A face in the darkness.
She’d once taken a sip from the lemon water from the night before and found it bitter; the water oxidised, the lemon taking on a strange fermented tang. From then on, she’d stumble out of bed and take gulps from the bathroom tap until her head started to clear.
Maybe there was something wrong with her. Maybe she had some sort of illness that was knocking her out, causing her to sleepwalk; causing her to wake up feeling like she’d been… drugged? She took to double-locking the doors and windows, hiding the keys. What if she rose one night and wandered outside the house?
She stopped adding the lemon. Tried again with the camomile tea. But still she slept deeply and still she woke with that incessant fuzz that seemed to be getting worse, not better. Should she go to the doctor? It was probably nothing. The dreams were probably… nothing. Just a symptom of her over-active imagination.
You’re being silly, she muttered to herself as she drifted off to sleep that night. She was only vaguely aware of the slight movement of a shadow. Didn’t see the pair of bright yellow eyes peering out at her as the gap in the wardrobe doors slowly became wider.