Ecstatic Birth – A Short Horror Story

A year ago today my short story Ecstatic Birth was published in audio by The NoSleep Podcast. The cast did an incredible job, with Jessica McEvoy giving a truly sinister performance in the lead role as Mandy.

Now, for the first time, I’m publishing this story in text format here on my blog, so you can read at your leisure. If you would like to listen along to the audio while you read, you’ll find Ecstatic Birth at around 00:19:55 in Episode 18, Season 17 of the NoSleep Podcast.

Content warnings: foul language, disturbing imagery, traumatic birth

Ecstatic Birth

There is a cold drip in my spine. I turn to you and smile the lopsided smirk of a stroke victim; my lazy muscles grant you just half the effort you are so adamant you deserve, despite having put so little effort into this endeavour yourself.

“D’you think it’s a boy?” I slur. The beeping heart monitor makes patterns in the air alongside my voice.

“Shut up,” you tell me.

I start to giggle. Can’t help it. Don’t want to help it.

“Mandy, seriously. Shut the fuck up.”

The midwife gives you a sharp look. Even funnier. She counts down to a contraction and I burst into hysterics.

I see your teeth grinding. “Can we make her stop laughing?”

“No. It’s a common side-effect. Survival reflex, we think.”

They both hold me down as my body nearly shakes itself off the bed in a fit of humour.

“Did you know,” I gasp, “that some women– some women!– say that giving birth is like– is like– having an orgasm!

It’s too hilarious. I sink deep into the pleasure of its absurdity. Ecstatic birth, they call it. The bliss of expelling a whole lifeform from your core. It must be the body’s joyous reaction – a celebration – to finally be relieved of the parasite sucking on its juices.  

My body is preparing for this celebration. My nerve endings are tingling. You look at me with disgust as I start to writhe, as moans escape my throat and mingle with the other sounds dancing about the ceiling lights.

“We need to get it the fuck out of her.”

“The doctor is on her way.”

“We need more than a fucking doctor.

There is panic in your voice and it is delicious. It lends a mottled hue to the other colours in the air. The monitor blinks in and out with a prickly pink noise. My pleasure-sounds are the rich undercurrent, and we are all swimming in its waters.

The midwife is arguing with you, she is fed up with your language. You are fed up with the entire awful situation. Fever dances in you. You’re so close to the edge. We’re both so close to the edge.

I just want my wife back!” you scream in a white-hot jet of pain.

That does it. The midwife hisses under her breath, a silky dissonance. “This is it.”

Shivers of ecstasy run through me with every contraction. I feel that my scream is red and bloody, and though my mind says bliss my body says agony.

I’m still laughing, wheezing, straining, as my flesh tears and I am split open in a throbbing symphony of joy and terror, and my swollen uterus finally ejects its horrid passenger.

Behind thick walls of glass, a crowd of figures in white coats bend their heads and scribble on clipboards. I see the quiet sound of their pens scritching; it claws at the glass like a nervous animal.

You have backed into a corner, face too pale, staring in stiff dread at the thing the midwife is wrapping in fabric.

“I don’t want to see it!” I shout, except my voice has ground down to a hoarse, pebbly whisper. It falls from my mouth like little stones. “Take it away. Take it away.”

“Is it over?” you say. You know it isn’t.

The midwife is expressing some information to the bodies in white coats. Her words patter in matter-of-fact data droplets onto the glass. She turns to you, still holding the parcel of infant lifeform. “We’ll need to run more tests.”

“You said we just had to get through this,” you say faintly. “We just had to get it out of her.”

Other bodies are spilling into the room. They have noticed me, that I am still spilling, too. I thought the flow of red might have been the sound of my own breathing, but it appears to be tangible to them and they begin mopping, and prying, and stitching. Someone presses the button on my drip and coldness floods into my back. “Is it a boy?” I ask, and fade from consciousness.

* * *

There is a whole ward dedicated to us. Practically the entire hospital. Only three women currently in its care.

You have been staring at me for a long time. Your voice is so hollow. It has the same weight as an echo as it bounces in and out of the empty beds.

“You won’t give it up, then?” you ask again. You have been asking for days.

A nurse hovers on the edge of the ward. Military personnel swap shifts on the doors.

“We’re just fine,” I murmur, and I blow the sound towards my daughter like a kiss.

“Mandy, it’s not real. You understood what it was, before. Before it was– here.” You touch my arm. The sensation is flimsy, insubstantial. “Please tell me you understand. This is not your baby.”

“I gave birth, didn’t I?” I break from my humming to answer you. I am always humming now. It keeps her warm and calm. She loves the feel of my voice.

You, on the other hand, are a black hole for my sounds. They distort and twist as they near your event horizon, then briefly flare before being sucked irretrievably into your silence. I give them freely, as gifts. I don’t mind that you waste them, these miracles. You’ll have miracles of your own, soon.

Eventually, you speak. Little flashes of energy on the frayed edges of your tired soul. “Do you even remember how it arrived?”

“We were walking in the woods,” I trill.

“Then what?”

“There was music.” The memory may be vague, but the warm flush of anguish is unquestionable. It tinges my cheeks with longing. “It was beautiful.”

You bury your head in your hands. “This is a nightmare.”

“Isn’t it funny,” I say.


I hum a laugh, tickled by the old thought that has suddenly resurfaced. “Isn’t it funny,” I say again, “that pain is so necessary?”

The look you give me, it tips me fully into giggles, so I cannot finish the thought to completion. But you would know it, if only you could pause to taste the words. We’ve had the conversation before. Giving birth is the one acceptable trauma, we agreed. Necessary trauma: for the propagation of species; for the flighty thing we call family.

No matter how many chemicals we siphon into our bodies, we can’t escape the aftermath, the broken flesh. And perhaps worse, the result of our efforts remains to cling to us in its fragile newborn skin; a whole lifetime cradled in our palms, unaware of the horrors we shall have brought upon it purely by being in the world.

My daughter pleases me beyond all comprehension. They say you forget the pain, and it shall all be worth it in the end.

You pull me from reverie. “Mandy, look at yourself,” you say softly.

Your hand trembles as you touch my stomach. I know you are afraid to lift the dressings, to see how much of me is really left. The bandage sinks a little, falling into a deep depression under your fingers.

You jerk away, choking back a cry. The noise attracts the nurse, who arrives swiftly at your shoulder, indicates visiting time is drawing to an end. You become ghosts on the edge of my vision.

“Is she going to live?”

“We’re doing everything we can. I promise she’s comfortable. But she won’t be going home.”

“What are you going to do with her?”

“She’ll be looked after. Studied, but well looked after.”

“And the… thing?”

She glances nervously at the guards on the door. “I wouldn’t know about that.”

She escorts you into the corridor. You hold a near inaudible conversation, which gently floats back to me over the rest of the day.

“I thought you could help her. They said it was just an infection!”

“It’s not. Listen. You need to let her go. They’ll stop allowing you in here soon.”

“They can’t. She’s my wife.”


“What’s that supposed to–”

“You’ll disappear, do you understand? If you don’t let this go. She’ll be safe. They just want to study her. And keep other people… safe.”

“I can’t leave her like this.”

I pluck the speckled sound of your fear out of the air and plait it into my daughter’s pretty gurgling. It weaves into a dappled blanket that curls across the room and drapes around the heads of the soldiers. I send it to keep them warm.

Soon they are muttering. Their skin itches. A heavy base note thuds along their arteries. There is emptiness in them, a hollow well of silence aching to be filled. I send them gifts all throughout the night, until they can feel it dancing inside their swollen stomachs. They drop their weapons and clutch at their bodies, contorting, crying.

What miracles they are blessed with. All life is a miracle: as improbable as pleasure and the forming of stars; as implausible as music born from errant sounds. We shall all be miracle-bearers.

I continue to hum with my daughter, while their screams blend into our beautiful, blissful melody.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this story please consider supporting me for the cost of a coffee or recommending my work to a friend! 😊

For more sinister, supernatural stories themed around motherhood, check out my Dark Folklore series of books.

Among Strangling Roots: New Release!

A dark fairy tale in a modern German setting. After inheriting her mother’s dilapidated farm, Marion suffers nightmare visions and a monster from old nursery tales that stalks her daughter in the fields.

Among Strangling Roots is the fourth standalone novelette in the Dark Folklore series, inspired by tales of the Rye Aunt, or Roggenmuhme. The Rye Aunt is a type of Feldgeister, or ‘field spirit’ from German folklore. This is the darkest story yet, with a strong rural horror vibe and not-so-happy ending.

When Marion returns to the house she grew up in, she is haunted by her unpleasant childhood and her own inability to connect with her eight-year-old daughter, Lilli. As her mind unravels, Marion finds herself plagued by waking nightmares and visions of the Rye Aunt: a terrifying, tar-stained shadow that stalks the fields and steals away naughty children.

Among Strangling Roots is available from all popular eBook retailers, and a few more besides. Grab it from your favourite store today!

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Kobo UK:

Kobo US:

Google Play:


Barnes&Noble (Nook):


Can’t find your preferred store? Or want just One Link To Rule Them All to show your friends?

Try this Universal Retailer Link instead:

Across Screaming Seas: New Release!

A dark fairy tale in a modern Welsh setting. The lives of a diver and a reclusive mermaid collide. Will one be the death of the other?

Across Screaming Seas is a standalone novelette in the Dark Folklore series, inspired by tales of Welsh mermaids – or ‘morgens’. Set on the south coast of Wales, this story follows a snorkelling instructor named Erin who comes to the aid of a sea creature caught in fishing nets. Erin is shocked to discover she’s rescued an injured mermaid – which swiftly disappears back into the ocean. Determined to find the creature again, Erin sets out to lure the mermaid into another encounter. A twist of circumstance finds Erin trapped in the mermaid’s lair, wrestling against her own conscience and the instinct to survive…

Across Screaming Seas is available from all popular eBook retailers, and a few more besides. Grab it from your favourite store today!

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Kobo UK:

Kobo US:

Google Play:


Barnes&Noble (Nook):


Can’t find your preferred store? Or want just One Link To Rule Them All to show your friends?

Try this Universal Retailer Link instead:

Across Screaming Seas book cover with a mermaid swimming underneath a stormy sea

Within Trembling Caverns: New Release!

A dark fairy tale in a modern Polish setting. A grandmother cares for an ailing dragon… but her compassion puts her own grandchildren in danger.

Just released: the next installment in the Dark Folklore short story series. Within Trembling Caverns is a standalone short story (or novelette, if you’re feeling fancy) inspired by the Polish legend of the Wawel Dragon. Set on the outskirts of modern Krakow, an elderly woman named Truda feels a sense of duty to look after a cave-bound dragon near her home. But when misfortune strikes and she can no longer feed the beast, her own family are at risk of becoming meals for her starving, scaly ward…

Within Trembling Caverns is available from all the most popular eBook retailers, and a few more besides. Grab it from your favourite store below:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Kobo UK:

Kobo US:

Google Play:…/Georgina_Jeffery_Within_Trembling…


Barnes&Noble (Nook):…/1141363135


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Beyond Thundering Waters: Book Launch and Giveaway!

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Today marks the launch of a brand new fantasy story, and a new series along with it. Beyond Thundering Waters is a dark fairy tale set in the lush surroundings of the Utladalen Valley in Norway.

Our young heroine, Ida, gets into trouble when she catches the attention of Maja, a huldra who lives in the forest. Maja is drawn by Ida’s grief – she’s still grappling with the death of her Mamma… and it seems Maja is keen to fill the void that was left behind. Will Ida end up with a huldra for a mother? Can she save her Pappa before Maja takes him away forever?

The Giveaway

To celebrate, I’m giving away a whole bunch of free copies of this eBook! Today you can grab one of TEN freebies using this special coupon code at Smashwords:


Find the book in the Smashwords store here:

Simply enter the code at checkout to get the book for free. Remember, there are only ten copies available: the first ten people to enter the code, win! The code expires next week on 10th May.

This isn’t the only giveaway. You’ll find another code to use on Google Play via my Facebook page, and yet another code in my Reader Group. Current subscribers to my newsletter will get their own chance to win one of TWENTY free copies tomorrow!

And of course, if you want to purchase the story instead, you can find the ebook on all retailers via this universal link:

If you’d like to help out this little launch, please reblog this post, shout about the giveaways, and share the book link! Love to you all, and I hope you enjoy the story. 😊

Dark Folklore… Coming Soon

Dark Folklore: A Short Story Series

Dark Folklore is a new short story series inspired by myths and monsters from around the world.

I love discovering folklore in all its flavors… from elusive beasties that stalk the aging forests to twisting fates in fairytales told from the shadows of a campfire. The more obscure and sinister the tale, the better.

Dark Folklore is a series to indulge this love. Each installment is inspired by a folk legend from a different country, reimagined in a modern setting with new twists and themes. More than just a retelling: each short story is a new, original tale. Expect some spooky vibes and a few unhappy endings… but also the odd uplifting one as well.

The first installment of Dark Folklore releases on Tuesday 3rd May: a story called Beyond Thundering Waters. With a lush Norwegian setting surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, this story draws on a menacing interpretation of the huldra (one of my favourite folkloric creatures). Ida, a young girl still grieving the loss of her mother, must race against time to save her Pappa from the clutches of her own wild valley and the huldra who would keep them apart.

This story is already live for preorder on all the usual storefronts. Stay tuned for a special Launch Day Giveaway: I’ll be handing out TEN free copies of Beyond Thundering Waters via my blog, and even more copies via social media and my newsletter!

So remember to hit the Follow button on my website, and check out my socials on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Subscribe to my newsletter (and receive another free short story) by clicking here.

For even MORE folklore content and chances to win, you can also join my Reader Group here:

Are you excited for this series? Let me know if you’ve picked up Beyond Thundering Waters already, or are joining us on 3rd May for the Giveaway!

‘Ecstatic Birth’ – Free Audio Horror Story!

The NoSleep Podcast banner image

Do you like dark vibes, spooky tales and Twilight Zone-esque anthologies? Then I’ve got the podcast – and the story – for you!

The NoSleep Podcast releases weekly episodes with their curated selection of the best short horror stories, brilliantly adapted to audio for your listening pleasure. The first half of each episode is FREE to enjoy on their website. (And unlocking the rest is a paltry $2, or $25 for all 25 episodes in a season.)

I’m beyond proud to tell you that one of my stories, Ecstatic Birth, was featured in Episode 18 (Season 17) of The NoSleep Podcast earlier this month. Even better, my story appears in the free portion of the episode, so you can check it out whenever you feel like it! You can find the intro to the story at roughly 00:19:55 in the recording. [Content warning for underlying themes of traumatic birth and postnatal depression: this is darker than other stuff you may have read from me and I don’t wish you to be caught off-guard.] Click here to go listen to it on the NoSleep website.

Episode credits for S17E18 of The NoSleep Podcast
So excited to be in these credits!

The cast did a brilliant job, and I’m especially in awe of Jessica McEvoy’s performance as the lead. Her wonderfully deranged portrayal of Mandy took the story to new heights and conveyed such a sinister aura that it stayed with me for a long time after listening. The NoSleep crew are topnotch at what they do, and I highly recommend following and supporting their work.

If you listened to my story or the rest of the episode, let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

The Hub: a supernatural sci-fi story

Photo by Phil Goulson on

When an app developer accidentally creates a maliciously benevolent social media network, only her girlfriend can save her from what she’s brought to life…

Happy days! I was incredibly pleased to release my short story The Hub as an ebook last week. This story was first published by the wonderful folks at Thunderbird Studios in their anthology The San Cicaro Experience – a weird and dark anthology exploring the titular urban fantasy location.

The Hub ended up straddling the line between sci-fi and urban fantasy with its technological menace, but ultimately it’s a story about love and compromise.

It’s now available for just $0.99 from all the main retailers: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Apple, etc. Universal shop link below. 😄

The Hub: a speculative short story

In sunny San Cicaro, a new app is dominating the city’s streets – and its people.

Max loves her city, and believes everyone deserves to enjoy its hidden treasures. So when she launches the SC Hub, a new social app to connect people and places, she couldn’t be happier with its blazing overnight success. But her reclusive girlfriend, Ellie, can’t help but worry about the magnetic pull the app is having on its creator, and the strange occurrences in town that seem linked to it.

Are people driving the app… or the other way round?

5 Places To Find Story Submission Opportunities

Where to find paying markets for your short stories

I talk a lot about writing submissions and lately have had questions from friends about where I find these paid writing gigs – and how they might find their own. So I thought I’d share the resources I use the most, for anyone who might also be wondering how to find a home for their short stories.

Below is a mix of blogs and lists, some of which are geared just toward speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc) and others that encompass all genres. Take a look, and hopefully you’ll find a market you want to submit to!

The Horror Tree

The Horror Tree writing submission calls

A regularly updated blog which keeps abreast of opportunities in the industry. As the name suggests, The Horror Tree focuses on posting submissions calls for horror-themed writing, but does include entries from other speculative fiction genres as well. This is where I first heard about The San Cicaro Experience, an urban fantasy anthology which I submitted to and was published in last year,

At The Horror Tree you’ll mainly find open calls from journals and anthologies, and then the occasional competition and novel/novella opportunity. You’ll find a fair number of lower-paying markets here (often less than 4 cents a word) and many publications that might only pay an honorarium (such as $10 or less for a short story). But pro markets do pop up as well: regular calls for Fantasy Magazine and Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores are good examples.

I do think you’re more likely to come across opportunities here that you might not find elsewhere, and the themes are so varied and interesting that you have a higher chance of stumbling across one that makes you go, “YES. I want to create something for THIS.” (Recently I’ve seen calls for ‘found footage’ horror stories, ’31st century monsters’, and ‘mad queens’.) This is what makes The Horror Tree my favourite site to scroll for submissions.

Writer’s HQ

Writers' HQ competition submissions

Writer’s HQ is both a source of free writing resources and an organiser of British writing retreats on the cheap. They maintain a continually updated list of competition opportunities each month, and have recently changed their policy to only include listings that make an effort to be financially accessible to writers. I’m a massive fan of this approach. My personal policy is to not submit to publications that require an entry fee (the aim here is to make money…) though I’m not averse to supporting journals which provide the option of a donation or have a tip jar feature.

The folks at Writer’s HQ seem to have accessibility built into their attitude, and they make this whole business of writing feel achievable with their pragmatism and sense of humour. They also host their own weekly Flash Face-off contest (like a community writing exercise) and will pay you for blog posts on the writing process (currently closed to submissions, but worth keeping an eye on if this is your thing).

Short Dark Fiction Markets – S.J.Budd

Dark fiction markets

This one is a single static list compiled by speculative fiction author S.J.Budd. Unlike the ones listed above, these are not submission calls with specific themes or deadlines and are not (to my knowledge) regularly updated. It’s simply a great list of journals which (usually) accept unsolicted submissions. Being a writer of speculative fiction myself, it’s refreshing to see a list which encompasses simply ‘dark’ fiction, as this can range far and wide across fantasy, sci-fi, horror and beyond. I find similar lists on a singular genre under the speculative umbrella can be a bit limited for my purposes.

Like any static list, you will find that some publishers on this page have sadly gone out of business, or that submission windows are currently closed. But the high number of listings and the amount of info included next to each one makes this a really great resource to quickly scan and identify markets that might be the right fit for your work.


Submittable writing opportunities

Submittable is really a submissions manager – many of the journals in those lists above will require you to upload your work via Submittable. You’ll need to register an account for this (don’t worry, it’s free). It’s quite useful in that it saves (and automatically fills in) your personal details, and you can create a cover letter template to save you writing out nearly the same thing each time. It also tracks your submissions so you can see which stories are currently in progress/accepted/declined.

Under the Discover tab is where you can actively search for opportunities. I’m pleased that it lets me filter by deadline and ‘No Fees’, but I admit to finding the search function a bit lacking. I don’t come here to seek out new markets very often – mainly because there are just SO MANY submission calls that’s it’s difficult to narrow down exactly what you might be looking for.

This is because Submittable opportunities encompass a really wide range of subjects – from applying for research grants and job vacancies (I recently discovered and applied for a job at a small press here actually; sadly didn’t get through) to entering competitions, submitting short stories to journals, and even whole novels to presses. There are opportunities for writers, artists, animators, musicians, journalists, and more… Basically, if you know anyone looking for anything in the creative sphere, Submittable isn’t a bad place to start. Play around with the search tags and filters, and eventually you’ll find something that fits your niche.


Prizemagic writing competitions

This one feels a bit nostalgic for me because it’s the list I’ve used for the longest time, but have neglected of late. Prizemagic concerns itself solely with writing competitions. The website looks quite dated now, but the listings are still regularly refreshed. Each entry has a note to say when it was added or last edited, which is very useful when considering those evergreen contests which roll around every year.

It’s also made extra-fun by the occasional humorous remark from the website’s owner, Michael Shenton, and I enjoy reading the little success stories from people who have written in to share their competition triumphs. The listings themselves contain more info than you’d find elsewhere, as the author takes pains to provide some context for what each contest is looking for in your entry.

I should also mention that this list is much more UK-centric than the ones above – which is BRILLIANT for British writers like me, who too often are mentally converting dollar amounts in our heads when weighing up fees and prizes.

Let us know if you found somewhere to submit your story from this list! And if you want to recommend other places to look for new writing opportunities, please do mention them in the comments.

Good luck, and happy submitting! 😁

Did Somebody Say Free Stuff? New Story Available!

Would you trust this guy?

Lurking at the edge of a mundane fleamarket, a merchant of impossibilities stands next to a trunk full of bizarre and otherwordly goods.

Are Jack Hansard’s uncanny wares for real? Is the magic past its sell-by-date? And what exactly do you DO with a deus ex machina, anyhow?

Gosh, there’s been a lot going on lately. If you’re a regular visitor you may notice that I’ve got a shiny new website and I’ve just launched my newsletter. My latest job has been setting up the download for this exclusive Jack Hansard story, which is now available for free to new subscribers!

If you’re not already familiar with The Jack Hansard Series, you can find the free beta episodes here.

Deus Ex Machina is a standalone short story which features our favourite occult merchant, told from the viewpoint of one of his unwitting customers. I wrote the original version of this for a humour competition way back in 2012 (it came second, which was rather nice) and decided to revamp the whole thing into a longer, better story for you guys to enjoy.

Click the button above to go directly to the download page at StoryOrigin, or get it by signing up to my newsletter here. It’s available in ePUB, Mobi, and PDF formats for all your reading devices. Hope it makes you smile!

Once you’re a subscriber you’ll also receive updates from me along with other exclusive sneak-peeks – including another story snippet called Pandora’s Box which features Jack’s least favourite business rival: the treasure-hunting, god-wrestling, myth-defying and all-round flash bastard Edric Mercer. It’ll arrive a day or two after signing up. Keep an eye on your inbox to make sure you don’t miss it! 😉

Urban fantasy with a sense of humour

Thanks to @EJIkinArt for the awesome cover illustration.