Editorial: The Horror Issue

Emma and I are horror junkies. We bonded years ago over our shared love of beautifully-told horror stories that linger in your psyche long after you finish reading. But FFO receives far fewer horror submissions than other genres (if you’re interested in our submission stats, we’ve recently added those over on Patreon). We’ve hoped to publish a horror issue for some time, but we’ve never had enough horror stories in the queue at the same time to make that happen. But recently, the horror gods aligned, and this issue’s original stories landed in the same winnowing batch. 

The only event rarer than a horror-filled winnowing would be for me to accept a cat story.

I have this thing about cat stories. Don’t get me wrong. I have cats. I like cats. They seem to like me as long as I acquiesce to their demands and continue to provide a steady stream of kibble. But I just don’t like cat stories. The stakes tend to be low. There’s quite often a reveal where the reader learns that the point of view character is a cat. And there’s usually something catty about the tone—which makes sense because, hello, it’s a cat—but as a reader, I don’t find it engaging or interesting. Instead, it feels more like my cat throwing up a hairball next to my bed at 3AM and then yowling until I roll over so she can sleep on the pillow I so thoughtfully warmed up for her. Clearly, this is not my idea of a good time.

My feelings on cat stories are well-known by the FFO staff. So when “Skin the Teeth” arrived in slush, one of our assistant editors commented, asking if this would be the cat story that I actually purchased.

And, since you’re reading this editorial, “Skin the Teeth” by Sarah Cline is the cat story that finally broke through. Equal parts paranormal, psychological, and body horror, “Skin the Teeth” is a disturbing dive into compulsive hoarding. Round up the Hazmat suits and Lysol wipes for a shudder-inducing experience you won’t soon forget. (Available 5/5/23)

We’re also delighted to publish “The Invisible” from FFO alumnus, Kurt Newton. It’s a chilling look at self-help taken to toxic extremes that taps into the universal fears we all share—fear of separation, loss of autonomy, extinction, and ego death. (Available 5/12/23)

There’s one universal fear remaining, and that’s mutilation. (You didn’t think we were going to leave mutilation out of a horror issue, did you?) In “Unexplained” by H. V. Patterson, a woman inexplicably loses a finger and deals with the consequences. This story addresses the problematic way the medical community often ignores or ignores women’s health concerns. We hope you enjoy this slow-burn of body horror as much as we did. (Available 5/19/23)

Our reprint this month walks the line between dark fantasy and horror. We’re delighted to bring you “The Fox Spirit’s Retelling” by Wen Wen Yang. Originally published in Remapping Wonderland: Classic Fairytales Retold by People of Color (January 2021). (Available 5/26/23)

And this month, we’re offering an extra reward over on Patreon—”Tips to Survive the Slush Pile” by FFO assistant editor, Jawziya F. Zaman. If you’re interested in selling a story to FFO (or anywhere else), it’s an amazing resource for how the process works. We hope you’ll check that out!

If you enjoy learning more about our authors and the story behind their stories, consider becoming a Patron. As part of our Patreon rewards, we offer bonus content including recommendations to read more of their work in other publications, insights into their writing and editing processes, and more.

Thanks again for being a reader and supporter of Flash Fiction Online!