“Hunter by Night,” by Annie Reed, appears in Stolen by the Fae, the 6th volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries.
This particular pizzeria didn’t have wait staff. Probably one of the reasons the food was so reasonably priced. When your order was ready, the pizza chef called out your name and you went to the counter to pick up your slices.
The woman, whose name must have been Eliza—at least that’s the name the pizza chef called out for her order—left the little girl sitting at the table when she went to get their food. By this time the little girl’s hair was back in a bun and she didn’t look that much different from any other little kid waiting for her mom to bring back dinner.
Except for her somber expression.
Her mother had just picked up a large silver tray with two slices of pizza from the counter when a different woman, someone Colton had barely noticed, darted from her table so fast that her chair clattered to the floor behind her. She moved faster than she should have been able to, given her bent and overly solid middle-aged frame, and snatched the little girl from her chair.
The little girl screamed. Her mother screamed. But the woman who’d snatched the child just smiled, a horrible, self-satisfied smile that pulled her face into an expression no human could match.
A changeling, and Colton had never even noticed her.
Before the little girl’s mother—or Colton—could react, the changeling fled with the screaming child through the front door of the pizzeria and disappeared into the night.
—from “Hunter by Night,” by Annie Reed, in Stolen by the Fae
A prolific and versatile writer, Annie’s a frequent contributor to both Fiction River and Pulphouse Fiction Magazine. Her recent work includes the near-future science fiction short novel In Dreams, the gritty urban fantasy novel Iris & Ivy, and the superhero novel Faster. Annie’s stories appear regularly on Tangent Online’s recommended reading lists, and “The Color of Guilt,” originally published in Fiction River: Hidden in Crime, was selected as one of The Best Crime and Mystery Stories 2016. She’s even had a story selected for inclusion in study materials for Japanese college entrance exams.
Annie also writes sweet romance under the name Liz McKnight, and is a founding member and contributor to the innovative Uncollected Anthology series of themed urban and contemporary fantasy anthologies.