13 Claws: A Sample Bite of Stories – Part One!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be giving readers a sample bite from the stories by each of the authors featured in our new anthology, 13 Claws.

The stories range from cozy to true noir. Are our animal friends our protectors or predators? Angels or demons? Read these engaging tales to find out!


Cathy Astolfo

The Outlier by Catherine Astolfo

Catherine Astolfo’s is the author of many popular crime fiction novels and a winner of the Arthur Ellis Short Story award. In crafting “The Outlier”, Catherine was inspired by a visit to Newfoundland and the strange folk who take refuge there to become hermits. As you might expect, her tale takes an especially dark turn…


I was comin’ back from one of those voyages to the city when we were stopped on the highway by a rollover.

From out of the damaged back end of the truck, down the road trotted a whole bunch of pigs. They’d been hauling them off to the bacon factory.

Only Marvin made it as far as my car. The rest of the porcine escapees got recaptured, run over by traffic on the other side, or disappeared into the brush. I watched this big guy waddle along the side of the highway, head up, going who knew where. He was simply scramblin’ fast as he could in the opposite direction of that truck.

Thing is, I didn’t think about what I did. I certainly didn’t expect the result I got, either. I admired that pig’s determination to get away so I leaned over and opened my passenger door. And into the old car hopped Marvin.

As it turns out, pigs make great pets. They’re clean, smart, they’ll eat whatever’s on offer, and they like people.


Rosemary Aubert

Kitty Claws Saves the Day by Rosemary Aubert

Rosemary has won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel and Best Short Story. She is the author of the popular Ellis Portal crime fiction novels. In “Kitty Claws Saves the Day”, Rosemary explores the perils of a senior citizen living in a low-rent apartment building and the pro’s and con’s of a kitty companion…


I thought at first that it was the cry of a child. Great gasping screams only a few feet from my doorstep sounded through the door itself and echoed down the narrow outer hall, which, though thickly carpeted, seemed to absorb none of the sound.

So, of course, I went to the door and carefully opened it.

The second I did so, the wailing stopped and I found, staring up at me, the most beautiful pair of blue-green cat eyes I had ever seen. I also saw in those eyes a look I’d never seen in an animal before. Odd as it sounds, I’d have called that look sweet cunning .


Jane Burfield

There Be Dragons by Jane Burfield

Jane Burfield’s debut short story won the Bony Pete Award and she has never looked back. Most recently, her short fiction in the Edgar Allan Poe tribute anthology, Nevermore, was singled out for critical praise. In “There Be Dragons”, Jane turns her hand to young adult fiction in a light-hearted, mysterious tale that we hope will grow into a series.


“There be dragons,” Katie read aloud from the illustration. As she squinted at the map in the old book, the creatures that illustrated the manuscript swirled. A soft green glow lit the map from within. Startled, Katie let the book slip from her fingers onto the dusty desktop.

“We’re not supposed to touch that book,” Georgie mumbled. Ever since their mother had died, he’d spoken in soft whispers.

“I know, Georgie.” She sat in the chair behind the carved oak desk and turned over another page. “Where do you think the dragons lived? I’m not sure I believe in dragons. Maybe they lived a long time ago.”

“Of course, there are dragons,” Georgie murmured. “Mother told us about them. She showed me one once. I remember going out to the garden with her. We ran around the pond. There was a splashing sound, and a dark shadow came out of the water... I think it was a dragon.”








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