I read this short story in a Crave anthology in a used bookstore. I'm almost certain the title was "Snatch Me Another", and the story revolved around a black-market machine common in every household despite its illegality, a Snatcher.

Placing a small portion of something into the Snatcher would result in you being able to pull out a whole version of it, with the catch that you were pulling it from another universe. The first example is the title character putting in a torn, clean corner of a used plastic plate to get several more for a birthday party for her son, Tommy.

In this world, there are maybe a thousand Starry Nights, and the protagonist mentions to her wife, "Doesn't it bother you that a thousand universes are missing their Starry Night?" Her wife is completely unbothered. The stock price of great art is plummeting. There is a drug call Bliss, which you inhale, which the protagonist is addicted to.

The protagonist seems like a bad mother, not very comforting to her son, but it is revealed that once their own Tommy died of a brain tumor, her wife (partially mad from grief) put some of his hair into the Snatcher and pulled someone else's Tommy into their world. This Tommy, one night, complains to the protagonist that he has a headache. She realizes with horror that Tommy has a brain tumor in every universe and that she can't escape grieving him all over again (she believes that they should never have taken Tommy 2 from his elsewhere family, and that their Tommy deserves to be grieved and remembered, not replaced). In despair, she briefly holds a pillow over his head, then runs outside. Her wife see all of this. Eventually the protagonist decides to come to terms and accept her partially replicated world. She will accept Tommy as if he is real Tommy. As she approaches the house, she sees Starry Night on the wall. It fills her with relief, but as she turns the corner and more of the living room is revealed, she sees another version of herself inside, and realizes she's already been replaced. She goes back out, inhales more Bliss, and imagines her wife in another universe, reaching for her, to pull to her a place she belongs.

1 Answer 1


There is a story title "Snatch Me Another" (2008) by Mercurio D. Rivera, which seems to fit your description. You can read it online at the Abyss & Apex site.

Using a corner of a plate to get more:

"We need some more plates. Could you snatch me some?" Kristina grabbed a dirty paper dish with a curlicued "Happy Birthday" emblazoned on it, tore off a clean edge, and handed her the slip of cardboard.

Snatching plates:

Lindy lifted the heavy metal lid and leaned in, placing the piece of the paper plate—the honing sample—at the bottom of the Snatcher. She placed the cover back on and rotated a red dial on the device’s side. Then she heard the familiar rumbling and whooshing deep inside of it, like distant thunder and violent wind gusts, the sounds of dimensional walls crumbling. Lindy lifted the cover. The Snatcher’s maw released a thick, blue mist. She rolled up her sleeve and bent down, sticking her arm in up to her shoulder, groping blindly until she felt the paper plate. She pulled out a whole white plate with the same orange–lettered "Happy Birthday" on it. Placing and removing the lid over and over, she continued reaching in and snatching out one after another.

There are a thousand copies of "Starry Night" already:

After a few minutes, Kristina spoke again. "Did you read today's 'Dear Annabehl' column? Apparently someone stole a tiny fragment of Van Gogh's Starry Night." She placed the open newspaper on her lap. "There are now over a thousand originals, and the prices are plummeting with each new one that’s retrieved."


"Should I call Senecal and order a Starry Night? We can have it delivered first thing in the morning."

"I suppose it's irrelevant that Senecal is an illegal dealer or that the Snatcher is illegal or that every damned thing we pull out of the Snatcher is illegal."


"Doesn't it bother you that in a thousand alternate universes, Van Gogh's original Starry Night is now missing?"

The protagonist, Lindy, is searching for a universe where Tommy doesn't die from a brain tumor:

And all at once a tremendous wave of relief washed over her, as if yesterday had been nothing more than a drug-induced nightmare, and today she’d been slapped awake to a brand–new, shiny reality. Maybe Kristina felt the same way. Maybe they could both find a way to get past this. This time, she thought, the doctors would catch the tumor early. This time he’d be okay. She’d be a good mother to him. Lindy knew now she’d somehow find a way to adjust, to accept the new Tommy as her own. Dear Annabehl was right; they lived in a different world now.

Lindy is inhaling "In-Bliss" to deal with the pain of Tommy's illness:

Lindy sat in her compact pickup truck, took a deep whiff of In-Bliss, and tossed aside the spent plastic inhaler. She rested her forehead against the cold steering wheel.

That said, even though this is a match for what you're seeking, I don't know what "Crave anthology" you might have read it in. (I don't even know what a "Crave anthology" is, and ISFDb doesn't seem to list anything like it.

"Snatch Me Another" has been (physically) published in a collection of Rivera's work Across the Event Horizon (2013), and in several anthologies including Unplugged: The Web's Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 2008 Download and a couple "Best of Abyss & Apex" anthologies.

  • "Although highly illegal, many people in our Lindy’s world own one, and it is now reckoned that her world has over a thousand originals of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Hers was the first world to develop the Snatcher, so they had a head-start stealing things,"
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 24 at 17:54
  • DavidW, ur a champion. This is the one! cheers! Commented Jun 25 at 17:02

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