Category Archives: short stories

X5 x 10 x 10

To mark the release of X5, my latest collection of short fiction, earlier this year I posted a line from one of the stories from it on consecutive days across my social media channels. Just for a laugh.

As each of the X books contains 10 stories, that meant over the 10-day period I posted a total of 10 lines. I know that taken out of context they might not make much sense. The idea is just to give readers a deeper insight into each story than a standard synopsis would allow, and perhaps spark some morbid curiosity. Later, I decided to collect all the extracts together here. Because blogging.

Demon Tree:

“It looked like a giant moth/human hybrid, complete with a huge set of leathery wings folded behind it, and was covered in grey or black fur which had thinned in places to reveal skin so dry it resembled scales.”

Revenge of the Toothfish:

“Its yellowing eyes were way out of proportion and had realigned themselves so they were on opposite sides of the head. The nose had elongated and extended into a snout, and the mouth was ringed by a pair of bulging, dark grey lips.”

Surzhai:

“Their life force and vitality came from the blood of the vanquished, which they collected on the battlefield and doused themselves in or even drank, vampire-like.”

The sharpest Tool:

“Her head was full of abstract images offering a tantalizing glimpse of some other existence, a distant life full of meaning, colour and joy. But each day the images faded a little more and now she wasn’t even sure if what she saw were snatches of memory or some manufactured product of her fractured mind.”

Something Bad:

“If I stay long enough, shivering in the doorway, mouth hanging open and facial muscles twitching, I see the stringy black stuff on the bathroom floor begin to take shape.”

Down the Road:

“She couldn’t believe she was doing this. Picking up a hitcher? If dad found out he would kill her, if her passenger didn’t kill her first.”

Coming Around:

“He couldn’t see them, but he could hear them panting and snarling.”

Where a Town once stood:

“When Sam was a child, he remembered thinking someone had been drawing on his grandad with a pen and spent hours trying to rub off the ‘ink’. Only later did he find out that the network of deep blue scars carved into his granite flesh were the result of a life spent on the coalfaces.”

The Last Night Shift:

“Something dark was smeared around his mouth, and I noticed he was holding something in his hands. Gradually, horrifyingly, the full implications of what I was seeing dawned on me.”

Subject #270374:

“The guy in a white coat asked if I was getting sexually aroused. Just came out and said it. I mean, what the fuck? Who in this world could or would get turned on by pictures of mutilated bodies and severed limbs?”

X5 is out now


Drabbledark II

I’m pleased to announce that my story The Hungry is included in Drabbledark II: An Anthology of Dark Drabbles, out now on Shacklebound Books. The anthology, edited by Eric Fomley, promises, “A ton of amazing dark horror, science fiction and fantasy drabbles.”

The Hungry was inspired by Dan Simmons’s The Terror, itself a fictionalized account of Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition to the arctic. I’ve always thought they should’ve known better than to get on a ship called HMS Terror. They may as well have called it HMS You’re Fucked.

Check out the amazing cover art:

Go here for the full ToC.

Drabbledark II is out now on ebook and paperback.


Don’t Fall Asleep podcast

I’m bloody excited to have one of my stories, The Others, featured on the near-legendary Don’t Fall Asleep podcast put together by those amazingly gory folk at Bloodbound Books!

The Others is about a Tinder date going wrong. Very wrong. You can read more about the furry-themed story and where it came from HERE.

Listen in to Don’t Fall Asleep on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, for a chance to win a paperback Burnt Fur, the anthology the Others was originally published in. You can also find it on YouTube.

Don’t forget to check out the Bloodbound Books website for a ton of free content including my splattery short Siki’s Story.


All Tomorrow’s Parties

You might recognize All Tomorrow’s Parties as the name of a Velvet Underground song. I don’t know why I chose that. It’s not even my favourite VU track (that would be Heroine) but all the time I was writing this story I couldn’t get that song out of my head. It just seemed so apt. It’s not the first time I’ve nicked a song title for a story. I’ve done it with The Alarm, The Damned and Springsteen before. And I did it to Warrant (remember them?) and Metallica without even realizing. I think of it as a way of paying homage, but admittedly I’m secretly glad you can’t copyright song titles or I would probably be in some deep doodoo by now.

I’ve always been fascinated with time travel. I’d like to say ever since I read The Time Machine by HG Wells, but if I’m honest Back to the Future probably has more to do with it. Written in first person POV, All Tomorrow’s Parties is about a guy who finds a lost cellphone on the way home from the pub. But it’s no ordinary cellphone. It has an app which serves as a window to the future. You might think that’s a good thing. And it is. For a while. But then things go sideways, and the protagonist soon learns that knowing too much can be just as dangerous as not knowing enough. I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground with this story. But in true Saunders fashion I can put a twist in there that you probably won’t see coming.

You can read All Tomorrow’s Parties in issue 10 of SFS Stories, described as, “A throwback to the golden age of fantasy and science fiction.”


X5 is OUT NOW!

The fifth volume in my X series featuring ten (X, geddit?) slices of twisted horror and dark fiction plucked from the blood-soaked pages of ParABnormal magazine, Demonic Tome, Haunted MTL, Fantasia Divinity and industry-defining anthologies including 100 Word Horrors, The Corona Book of Ghost Stories, DOA 3 and Trigger Warning: Body Horror.

Meet the local reporter on an assignment which takes him far beyond the realms of reality, join the fishing trip that goes sideways when a fish unlike any other is hooked, and find out the real cost of human trafficking. Along the way meet the ghost which refuses to accept that death is the end, the office drone who’s life is inexorably changed after a drug trial, and many more.

Also features extensive notes, and original artwork by Stoker award-winning Greg Chapman.


Table of Contents:

Demon Tree

Revenge of the Toothfish

Surzhai

The Sharpest Tool

Something Bad

Down the Road

Coming Around

Where a Town Once Stood

The Last Night Shift

Subject #270374

Afterword

WARNING: Graphic Content

X5 IS OUT NOW!


X5 – Cover Reveal!

My new volume of short stories, imaginatively entitled X5, is up for pre-order now! Dropping in a matter of weeks, it is set to feature ten previously-published pulse-pounding slabs of hoffific fiction, extensive notes, and original artwork from the Stoker award-winning Greg Chapman which I can show you right now.

Let me know what you think!

X5 will be available exclusively on ebook, and is up for pre-order now.


The Colour out of Deathlehem: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors

Season’s greetings, come all ye faithful and all that jazz. Christmas is supposed to be about giving, a sentiment that often seems to get lost in these capitalist, consumer-driven times. It just feels good to do things for other people. Sometimes.

Anyway, back last year, I was about 700 words into this cool little Christmas horror story I was writing about a dude that finds an old Santa suit, puts it on, and then finds he can’t take it off. It starts to grow on him, fusing with his skin. Not only that, but his behaviour starts to change. He’s not the man he used to be. For starters (sorry) he’s hungry all the time. No matter how much he eats, he’s still hungry. He eats, and he eats, and he eats. The story was going well. Right up until the point where I realized I’d subconsciously nicked the plot straight from the Eli Roth film Clown (2014) and just replaced the clown suit with a Santa suit.

Bugger.

I posted in a horror writing group on Facebook complaining about my wasted efforts, prompting Michael McCarty to PM me suggesting what he called a ‘quick fix,’ which between us we adapted into a killer twist. The resulting collaboration, Finders Keepers, can be found in The Colour out of Deathlehem, the latest charity release from Grinning Skull Press. By my reckoning, this is the eighth volume of holiday horrors they have published to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The Colour out of Deathlehem is out now on paperback and ebook.


The Night Visitor and the Siren’s Call

My 16th short story of the year, the Night Visitor is published and free to read in the latest edition of Siren’s Call, those purveyors of edgy fiction. This is one of the first stories I remember writing, though it didn’t see the light of day until 2010 when it was included in a magazine called Fantastic Horror. I later included it in X2: Another Collection of Horror.

This is what I said about it in the afterword of that book:

“The idea for this story also came from a dream I had once when I was staying at my parent’s house in New Tredegar, South Wales. In the dream, I was the one sneaking into people’s homes at night. Not to steal anything or inflict harm or anything, but just to watch people sleep. How creepy is that? I knew there was a story in there somewhere. The challenge then lay in developing that flimsy concept into a something with a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

I was writing a lot of trippy, subtle fiction at the time, and this is a pretty good example. I’m delighted to see it find a whole new audience courtesy of Siren’s Call.


Painted Nails require No Anesthetic!

“We want Extreme horror stories,” the publisher said. “Think Wrath James White, Edward Lee, Shane McKenzie, or J.F. Gonzalez. If you can write a story that will churn our stomachs or make us fear what’s behind the shower curtain, send it in and we’ll read it and decide if it is Extreme enough for our anthology.”

And extreme they got. Check out the awesome cover art.

Sometimes when I finish writing a story I look back on it and think I might have overdone things a bit. It happened with Subject #270374 and it happened again with with Painted Nails, which is about a drug addict who wakes up to find a foreign object stuck in his dick. Don’t worry, it isn’t erect or anything, but it just get worse for the poor guy from there. Especially when he realizes that there’s something in his bathroom.

We’ve all woken up in the morning and not quite been 100% clear about what might have happened the night before. Painted Nails takes that to the next level. On reflection it explores some of the same themes as Grower, published last year in Brewtality, and I wrote both stories at around the same time. I have no idea what issues I was trying to iron out. Fun stories, though. Grower maybe traded on the humorous angle a bit more than Painted Nails which is flat-out brutal.

Painted Nails, wounded penis and all, is my 12th published short story of the year and is included in the anthology No Anesthetic (note the American spelling) out now on Splatter Ink publishing.


Sleepless over 101 Words

You might think that the longer the story, the harder it is to write. But that’s not always the case. When you have limited space, it can be quite a challenge fitting in a beginning, a middle, and an end, while simultaneously making sure the story says what you want it to say. Over the past couple of years, I’ve taken a liking to drabbles (100 word stories). Several have seen the light of day including Coming Around, Hitori Kakurenbo, Naughty Step and Louie’s Room. 101 Words puts a new spin on the drabble formula by, you guessed it, adding an extra word.

The idea for Sleepless came from this article I read a while back about an American teenager called Randy who stayed awake for over eleven days. Eleven days! That’s impressive enough, then I started thinking… what if Randy had a job? A very responsible job, where a lot of people’s safety and/or welfare depended on him? Things could get decidedly messy.

Check out Sleepless, and some other incredibly concise 101-word stories, HERE


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