A Women in Horror Anthology
with stories selected by Azurra Nox
Genre: YA Horror
For fans of American Horror Story, Shirley Jackson, and Creepshow.
You know them. Those girls that aren’t quite like everyone else. Those girls who stand out in the crowd. Those girls that dare to be different. Those girls are dangerous.
In Strange Girls, twenty-one authors dare to tackle what makes the girls in this collection different. Vampires, selkies, murderous mermaids, succubus, and possessed dolls take center stage in these short stories that are sure to invoke feelings of quiet terror and uneasiness in the reader. Following the successful debut of Women in Horror anthology with My American Nightmare, Strange Girls is the sophomore effort to showcase these talented women in a genre that is often dominated by the male gaze.
Dare to take a walk on the dark side.
Stories in the Anthology:
24 Hour Diner by Charlotte Platt
Sideshow by Jude Reid
The Doll’s House by Alyson Faye
Blood by Red Claire
Self-Portrait with Pears by Rachel Bolton
Personal Demons by Angelique Fawns
Friends with Benefits by E.F. Schraeder
Night Terrors by Angela Sylvaine
The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding by Sam Lauren
Leda and the Fly by Marnie Azzarelli
Jenny’s Bobo by Hillary Lyon
Extinguishing Fireflies by Rebecca Rowland
The Eyes of the Dead by Danielle R. Bailey
My Mirror Wife by Ash Tudor
Pattern of Faerytales by Azzurra Nox
Campfire Tales: The Bloody Rings by Emma Johnson-Rivard
Cracked by Regan Moore
Angel of Death by Phoebe Jane Johnson
Her Garden Grows by Maxine Kollar
Revival by Madison Estes
A Song Only She Can Hear by Wondra Vanian
Tribal Influence by Erica Ruhe
From the short story: Sideshow
The snake-girl feigns surprise to perfection when she stops in front of Sylvia. Surely she must have noticed her before, but then, perhaps in the dimly lit room the presence of another girl has gone unnoticed by her up until this moment. Sylvia feels the blood rush to her face, unable to tear her gaze from the deep golden eyes that are suddenly inches from her own. The smell of incense is overwhelming, and her head spins so violently that she wonders if she is about to faint. The dancer reaches a hand towards her, brushing the back of her warm, dry fingers down Sylvia’s cheek, lingering on lips, chin, the hollow of her throat, the lapel of Ritchie’s jacket where it sits over the curve of her breast. Sylvia is aware of the noise of her own breath, blood rushing quick in her ears. The dancer is silent, holding her in amber eyes like a butterfly pinned to a board—
And then the snake-girl is laughing, her hands around Richie’s neck, pulling him to his feet, dancing the pair of them up onto the stage. Richie, all red cheeks and grinning white teeth, is looking back over his shoulder, not at Sylvia but at the rest of the noisy, envious crowd. He waves triumphantly to them, and they whoop and curse and cheer and applaud as he is led across the sandy stage – this lucky one, their appointed representative, through the curtain, and away.
The music fades, and the soft lighting of the tent is replaced with a harsh electric glare. The tent’s flap opens, and the boy starts ushering the audience outside, cheerfully wishing them better luck next time. The crowd dissipates into a cloud of lust and frustration, and Sylvia is left standing with her face to the sealed-up canvas door.
Five minutes pass, and then ten. She considers wandering away, but she has nowhere better to be, no one else to be with, and more than that, she wonders what Richie will have to say on his return. The possibility is there that this event might be all that is needed to end things between them, although she is still not entirely sure how exactly she would feign the requisite level of outrage and betrayal. She could tell her parents, but she doubts their reaction would be anything more than an indulgent acceptance of the fact that “boys will be boys”.
The carnival is taking on its nocturnal plumage, and there are no longer children around her; instead, there are clusters of young men and women, courting couples, the occasional older man. Most of the activity seems concentrated around the Ferris wheel, and she watches it lurch into life, music and light streaming down to the ground below. It’s so loud that it takes her a while to notice that the snake-charming music has started again, although the Medusa tent is still pitch black.
She picks her way through the guy ropes round to the back of the tent, noting the skip and scratch of the gramophone needle as she goes. Something is moving in the light behind the tent, shapes dancing on the canvas wall opposite, but the shadow play is formless, without meaning. She can hear quick, grunting breaths, a noise she recognizes as Richie’s. She creeps forward, fascinated, repulsed and suddenly eager to learn what exactly is occurring in the little space behind the tent.
Cast in the light of a single lantern, Richie on the ground. At first it seems he is wrapped in heavy rope and for one wild moment she wonders if she has stumbled upon a kidnapping—and then the rope moves, and she realizes that he is held in the coils of an enormous green-gold serpent, one easily twice the size of the snake the girl had carried in the show. The grunts she had heard are his shallow, desperate attempts to breathe.
The coils shift and tighten, and Richie lets out a breathless, panicky squeal. He jerks his head back, desperately trying to loosen the crushing grip that holds him, and the movement brings her into his line of sight. His face twists with recognition and a surge of obvious relief.
“Sylvia—” he manages. “Help—”
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About the Author
Born in Catania, Sicily, Azzurra Nox has led a nomadic life since birth. She has lived in various European cities and Cuba, and currently resides in the Los Angeles area. Always an avid reader and writer from a young age, she loved entertaining her friends with ghost stories. She loves horror movies, cats, and a good rock show. She dislikes Mondays and chick-flicks. CUT HERE, her debut paranormal urban fantasy was inspired by a nightmare the writer had a few years ago. Some of her favourite authors include Anne Rice, Oscar Wilde, Chuck Palahniuk, and Isabella Santacroce.