BABY'S BREATH by Sydney Leigh
Diane is an obstetric nurse who fears losing her new husband after becoming pregnant. Her paranoid descent into madness creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, exacerbated by Ben’s increasing neglect of his vulnerable wife. As new life grows both inside and around her, Diane’s marriage deteriorates—but so does her health, along with that of her unborn child’s—and her resulting grief pushes her to carry out a shocking act of revenge.
PRAISE FOR BABY’S BREATH
“‘Baby’s Breath’ takes an incisive and unblinking look at how the most beautiful moment in life can turn into the most horrific. Sydney Leigh renders a character that at once frightens us and gains our allegiance. A brief and shocking banquet—you won’t be disappointed.”
—Carl R. Moore, Slash of Crimson and Other Stories
“Utterly chilling . . . Diane’s macabre narrative is a powerful shot of multifaceted strangeness.”
—Robin Spriggs, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom
“Terrifying start to finish. A fantastic piece of horror that burrows deep into the psyche as well as the skin.”
—Julya Oui, Here Be Nightmares
“Smart and subtle yet savagely unsettling, ‘Baby’s Breath’ really got under the skin of this jaded horror fan . . . and it’s still down there, gnawing away!”
—John Dixon, Phoenix Island
“In ‘Baby’s Breath,’ Sydney Leigh achieves something rare by balancing perfectly phrased prose, dangerously brilliant psychological insight, authentic dialogue, and water-tight plotting to transcend the known dimensions of horror. Leigh’s short story is a monstrous child created with the uncanny power of a new master. Using her keen understanding of human nature, she has given birth to a beautiful, terrifying, and viscerally horrifying ‘sixteen-tonne’ tale with a shocking concept that will not only cut you while you read, but leave a life-long memory scar.”
—P. Gardner Goldsmith, Bite
“‘Baby’s Breath’ is a fresh foray into insectile hell. Scarred for life? Yes . . . and I like it.”
—Aaron Gudmunson, Snow Globe
“The narrator’s slow unhinging is perfectly paced . . . Sydney Leigh pushes against the border of the grotesque just enough to make the story as viscerally disturbing as it is psychologically unsettling. A supremely skilled tale of the decomposition of a relationship and the horrifying consequences of failed parenthood.”
—Kurt Fawver, Forever, in Pieces
“Undoubtedly reflects my taste for the crazed, the realistic and the extreme, and manages to invent a new type of madness . . . What makes Sydney Leigh’s ‘Baby Breath’ all the more horrible is that it comes from a lost love and an inability by the main character, a pregnant woman named Diane, to face the truth. Warning: read at your own peril. Not for the faint of heart. Or pregnant women!”
—Simon Rumley, Red White & Blue, The ABCs of Death
“A heartbreaking story, all the more powerful for how deeply personal it evidently is. One of those important works of horror that captures something archetypal in the human condition, and manages to (fittingly) burrow into the brain and linger long after the page.”
—Aaron Sterns, Wolf Creek 2, Wolf Creek: Origin
“Sydney Leigh’s narrative squirms into the deepest, darkest, most primitive folds of your lizard brain, curls up and oozes dread.”
—Daniel Knauf, Carnivàle, The Blacklist
“Baby’s Breath” originally appeared in Bugs: Tales That Slither, Creep, and Crawl from Great Old Ones Publishing with a Foreword by Simon Rumley. It was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction and won the Best Horror Short Story Award in the 2014 Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll. It is due to be featured on the Tales to Terrify podcast later this year as part of their annual Stoker Awards celebration.
Cover and interior art by Mikio Murakami of Silent Q Design.
Signed and Numbered Limited Edition sold out; Full color Second Edition chapbook to be released Monday, July 6th.
Add “Baby’s Breath” to your Goodreads shelf and watch for our upcoming giveaway here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sydney Leigh is the evil literary double of a mostly sane writer, editor, and native of the North Shore. Her poetry, short fiction, and reviews have appeared in various magazines and anthologies.
Recent publications include her short supernatural/noir story “Night Soliloquy” in The Library of the Dead, “Estuary,” her poem in Shroud 16: The Quarterly Journal of Speculative Writing, and “Fear Takes Root,” her nightmare-fueled microfiction piece in 22 More Quick Shivers.
Look for her experimental poem “The Undertaker’s Melancholy” in Villipede’s first horror and dark speculative fiction anthology, Darkness Ad Infinitum, and her dark fairy tale “Rabenschwarz,” which shares pages with gothic horror legends in Firbolg Publishing’s Enter at Your Own Risk: The End is the Beginning.
Forthcoming work includes poetry in Chiral Mad 3, the HWA Poetry Showcase Volume III, Our World of Horror, and the third volume in the Quick Shivers series from the DailyNightmare.com.
When she’s not juggling more projects than Cthulhu could manage, she spends her days shapeshifting between various roles, slinging ropy words into the darkness until they stick, and being taught new tricks by her Border Collie, Holden.
You can find her on Facebook, follow her or Twitter at @thespiderbox, or drop into her website anytime at thespiderbox.shawnaleighbernard.com.