The Last Wish & Picture This

When Stefan Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg, and Marty Greenberg decided to put together Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, a horror anthology containing a short story for each day of the year, they spread the news widely throughout the field. After all, they had the unenviable task of gathering 365 tales in one volume. And in order to fit them all in a single book, these short stories had to be very short—their requirements were that no story could be longer than 750 words. Though swamped with magazine-editing work, I figured even I could find time for that.

It was hard to believe that stories could be told in that amount of space, true stories with beginnings, middles, and ends, but when I tried, it turned out to be possible. My two stories had different origins. One began as a story that had been previously unsold at 1,200 words—I carefully pared away all the fat, sentence by sentence, word by word. The other story was originally written as a treatment pitched to Tales from the Darkside. That treatment had never sold, but no idea is every wasted, and so a decade later it was reborn as a short, short story.

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories was published in 1998 by Barnes & Noble. “Picture This” was reprinted in my horror collection These Words Are Haunted.