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HORLA FICTION
Fine contemporary horror and stories of the supernatural from around the world

SQUASH BLOSSOM GIRL

by SALLY SPEDDING

‘There was something wrong with that huge, dying sun. When he squeezed his eyes shut, he felt as hot as if he were standing on Venus, and it wasn’t only because of Maman’s jumper, a size too small and the wool too thick. He pulled his arms free of its clinging sleeves and tore the wretched thing over his head, gasping for air as he did so. Just like last summer, when he’d gone underwater in the Lac des Cygnes and had felt close to death.’

EXCLUSIVE NEW FRANCE-SET FICTION BY AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR

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WILL IT  HURT?

by MATTHEW G. REES

‘Apocalyptic inscriptions swirled in the valleys of ears, zodiac signs showed themselves inside peeled-back cheeks and lips. Eyes inked on the tops of eyelids made it seem as if their owners must never sleep, and hands reached alarmingly from the crevasses of arses. Bizarre miniature busts of Lenin and Marx, meanwhile, adorned proud pink nipples: the owners’ chest hairs groomed into whiskers and beards. The  domes of St Basil’s hung on some guy’s balls. I love Russia his shaved groin proclaimed.

‘So, do you want a tattoo?’ the man asked.

A NEW MOSCOW STORY BY THE AUTHOR OF ‘THE TIP’

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THE WATCH

by JOHN ORD

‘Twenty years earlier he’d happened upon the premises of Mr P. Rimrose, ‘Purveyor…’ a small black tile announced by the front door ‘…of fine timepieces’. It was a tiny shop in a back street. Ronnie, already something of a collector, was drawn to its little window and immediately taken by the unusual, but serious chronometers displayed. Not many pieces, for sure, but particularly beautiful and of ‘feature combinations’ he’d not seen before. He knocked… There was light and then movement; a dark shape beckoned Ronnie in.’

CONTEMPORARY DARK TALE

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UNACCOMPANIED CELLO SUITE

by SIMON MARLOWE

‘… the passenger suddenly appeared and sat right next to me. Now this was odd. Every seat in front of me was available and I was sure there was no one left on the train. I used the reflection in the window to identify a young woman, but I was unable to distinguish her face because she dropped her head into her lap. She then put her hands over her head, as if she was trying to block out some intolerable noise.’

A NEW RAILWAY GHOST STORY

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DEAD WOOD

by MATTHEW G. REES

‘In my case, the foliage was real: green shoots that sprang from my skull, tendrils that twisted and turned in place of my tongue, stalks and stems that swept from my excavated eyes and ears, leaves that swarmed my torso and limbs, needles, like scalpels, that flailed from my fingers, a beard of lush moss that clung at my jaw.’ 

‘GREEN HORROR’ – FIRST PUBLICATION UK SITE

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THE DEMON L

by CARLY HOLMES

The Author

‘I was thirteen and a half the first time I killed a man. It was an accident and I was dreadfully sorry about it at the time. L, I was called. It was spelled with more letters than that, but L is what it sounded like. 

From her new story collection Figurehead 

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BLASTOBLET

by CLAUDIA WARDLE

‘I was struck by the absence of any artificial light, only the amber of wick-dancers to assist the eyes…  I ought to have noted the unusual circumstances: an open cathedral devoid even of a single widow shrouded in a black mantilla.Yet somehow I did not. I began to encroach upon the apse, my footsteps resounding in the expanse as I passed the chapels and pews.’

ITALY-INFLUENCED CONTEMPORARY HORROR

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POSSESSION

by WENDY HOLBOROW

‘Your passionate attachments and longings are for your acquisitions; to touch, to devour with your eyes. Not even your ‘woman that does’ is allowed out of the kitchen where she cooks your meals and sees to your laundry, apart from on Saturdays when you escort her to the bathroom, where she cleans your toilet. But your paintings, your books, your collections of glassware and ceramics, they are deserving of your touch – you clean them, loving the feel…’ 

 CONTEMPORARY DARK FABLE

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THE LESSON

by M. J. ALLEN

‘The smell from the hall made Blake think of an uncle’s house… to which his mother had taken him as a boy. He remembered flytraps of yellow-brown tape hanging from ceilings, like tongues.’  

CONTEMPORARY BRITISH HORROR

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THE RED SETTEE 

by SALLY SPEDDING

‘… inserting transfusion lines into a patient’s neck, she’d wonder if and when that beautiful, sexy piece of furniture would soon be hers.’

GERMANY-SET CONTEMPORARY DARK STORY

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FACE TO FACE

by ANGELA GRAHAM

‘They were the dead. The dead of this place. They let her know that they were ready to cross the sunlit space and join her. They had been waiting to make this move and she had come among them…’

IRELAND-SET MODERN SUPERNATURAL

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THE KEYS

by MATTHEW G. REES

‘One elegant key – its heart-shaped handle an oasis of rococo curls (I think its antecedents Venetian or French) – spun and danced… here, on this desk… not as a key, but as a ballerina… shoes, frills and flesh the colour of pale pewter.’

CLASSIC-INFLUENCED MODERN TALE

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GULLI’S STRANGE JOURNEY

by ALI AZAR

‘Gulli had many visitors who came to her to end their miseries, to seek remedies for their infirmities, to break their curses; Gulli’s memory was filled with these secrets and untold stories. As a Seyid, she wore a black turban with a dark purple dress…’ 

IRAN-SET SHORT STORY

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THE OPEN WINDOW

by WENDY HOLBOROW

‘… a deep rumbling seems to shake the earth. The sea has drawn back like a dog’s lips in a snarl. The ocean bed has become visible. There is a profound silence and in an instant I realise what is about to happen. Then a roar as the sea rushes forward to devour everything in its path, the wave rearing its head like a hound from hell, baying and ready to attack.’

GREECE-SET CONTEMPORARY HORROR

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IT DIDN’T END AT DINNER

by JON GOWER

‘By now Anna has had enough wine to make her tipsy and by dint of this, brave, or at least confident in a way she isn’t usually. So she takes off a shoe and slides her foot along Henry’s leg. His face doesn’t change but she does notice the waxy consistency of his skin.’

FIRST PUBLICATION IN ENGLISH

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THE DEVIL’S SPIT

 by JANE FRASER

‘The off-shore breezes continued all week and every day the temperature rose. It was said to be one of the hottest summers on record. It didn’t seem possible it could get any hotter. But it did.’

STRANGENESS ON THE COAST OF WALES

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MIDNIGHT RIDE

by SALLY SPEDDING

‘A frightened boar had lunged at him from behind the last row of unpicked vines as he’d dragged his latest load towards the truck. His heart ruptured by one determined horn. His raging screams were followed by a shocked silence once the black, snorting beast had fled.’ 

FRANCE-SET MODERN SUPERNATURAL

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THE GLASS

by MATTHEW G. REES 

‘No one met him at the railway halt: the locomotive resting there, in the immense whiteness, gasping like some breathless beast, before re-gathering itself and dragging its dark tail of carriages on. Under the icicled canopy of the shack that passed for the station house Grigoriev found a sled. He began to hale it over the plain of snow…’   

RUSSIA-SET SUPERNATURAL STORY 

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JUST IN CASE

by JANE FRASER

‘… a snatched glimpse through the open window of the car… its amber, wide-eyed stare holds mine just long enough to feel that it is making some deep connection.’

FOLKLORE-INFLUENCED FICTION

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THE SEA HOSPITAL

by ANGELA GRAHAM

‘Where those rocks slope up out to the sea, a huge hole opens at your feet. You’ll see the water swirling and turning way below. Aye. They’d tie the patient to a chair then lower it, down into the gap.’

STRANGENESS ON THE COAST OF IRELAND

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DEEP BLACK SEA

by BRIAN MANTON

‘Yvgeny sat in the belly of the boat with the blindfolded old man. He held the table with one slabstone hand, and braced himself against the galley wall to keep in sync with the motion of the room.’ 

CAUCASUS-SET MODERN HORROR

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FIREBIRD

by MATTHEW G. REES

‘This thing occupied a dank, brambled shed in a shadowed gully, which only the two of us knew. It roosted there by day (the sole sound being the occasional scratching of its hands at its feathers) and came to life at night, when small boys were in their beds.’

MOSCOW-SET MODERN HORROR

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THE OTHER SIDE

by TIM JEFFREYS

‘… frantically, she searched through the clutter on her desk until she found a pen and a piece of paper blank on one side.  Listening intently, she began to write down the sequence of taps and scratches…’

SILICON AGE HORROR

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FUERA DE CASA

by ALAN BILTON

‘I don’t think I even went to sleep.  Instead I just lay there, whimpering, but even then I could tell the bed wasn’t in the right place, the shadow of the wardrobe somehow different.’

CONTEMPORARY UNCANNY FICTION

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