"We Are Sirens" by L.S. Johnson, from Sirens, edited by Rhonda Parrish
Big game’s tonight, over at the high school,” he says, scratching at the back of his calf.
“One More Song” by Eliza Chan, from Sirens, edited by Rhonda Parrish
Mira had vowed she was done with all that. It was dangerous work, and those who came pleading to her door rarely had the money to pay. Shell necklaces and a side of salmon didn’t keep the landlord from yelling obscenities about stinking fish wasting his time. Even a submerged studio apartment caked in coral cost more than she was bringing in these days.
“I’m sorry, I got out of that business years ago,” Mira started. She reached for the box of business cards on the side table. “I suggest you run. I know a kelpie with a small delivery business. He can get you a new ID card and hide you in the van, take you somewhere to hole up.”
“I can’t run. I ran before and he paid a seawitch to find me.”
“Homecoming” by Tabitha Lord, from Sirens, edited by Rhonda Parrish
When I am certain he is no longer in my house, I slam the salon door so hard that I rattle my own teeth, and then I lock it shut. My hands shake as I stare at the mess of yarn by my feet. I pace the room, clenching and unclenching my fists. I am furious, and now I am also desperate. My plan, carefully laid with Eurykleia’s help, has failed. Antinous will force my hand and make me choose a husband from this self-serving, insolent band.
I sink heavily into the chair at my loom. I kept our household together throughout the long war, and during the ensuing years of peace. I raised our son, and held those who threatened him at bay, but an end is coming—I can feel the future pressing in on me, constricting my chest as if a vice.
The air is too thick to breathe.
I’m running out of time.
I must bring my husband home.
“Villainess Ascending” by Steven Grimm, from He Sees You When He’s Creepin’: Tales of Krampus, edited by Kate Wolford
After two nights though, Cinderella had failed to secure her happy ending. It had to be tonight, the third and final night.
“John Knocking” by Kristina Wojtaszek, from Speculative Story Bites, edited by Sarena Ulibarri
He wiped at it with the rag, revealing a tiny oval window with an intricate lead design set high in a black door, about the size of a wallet. It looked as though it belonged to a dollhouse, but there was no knob or lock, no keyhole or bolt or any indication that the door could be opened, and yet it was well-formed and finely detailed, sitting in a frame of flesh. John tapped at it with a knuckle, testing its wooden ring, like the echo of a lost heartbeat.
“The Legacy of the Butterfly King” by Anya J. Davis, from Speculative Story Bites, edited by Sarena Ulibarri
Dust dances in the shaft of sunlight that slices the room full of dead things. A floorboard groans under well-worn loafers, snapping the sullen teenager out of his trance. Iris watches his top lip twitch, his father’s movement at the bookcase deemed unworthy of even a scowl. He focuses on his phone again, ignoring his mother, who peers at the cases above the mahogany desk. Iris inches over to her, twenty-five years of practice informing her approach.
“Fascinating, aren’t they? Sir Edward’s collection. His pride and joy.”
“Creepy.” The woman pulls her cardigan around her. “Insects on the wall.”
“Perhaps.” Iris’s reply is dip-dyed with amusement. “Although collecting them was a perfectly acceptable pursuit in the nineteenth century.”