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Al Sarrantonio and Martin Greenberg (eds) – 100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories (1993)

01/16/2015

100 stories in 500 pages, so this is a collection of horror flash fiction. No editorial explanation of the choices are given, and indeed there’s no introductory material of any sort for the stories themselves. The authors are almost entirely American, with the odd Brit thrown in here and there, and while a lot of big names are included, very few of the stories are their acknowledged masterpieces. The uniform length and genre leads to a lot of repetition – a little setup, then a nasty surprise (the protagonists tend not to fare well in these stories). There’s a lot of filler, but some great stuff too – I need to get much better acquainted with Steve Rasnic Tem and Avram Davidson and Nancy Holder.

The Adventure of My Grandfather • (1824) • Washington Irving
The narrator’s grandfather stays at an inn in Bruges in a haunted room, with a ghostly musician and dancing furniture. Of the type of story in which there is no real resolution or conflict – he sees the haunt and that is that. 1/5
The Adventure of My Aunt • (1824) • Washington Irving
The narrator’s aunt, a widow, moves into a new mansion, in which a dastardly servant has hidden himself behind a portrait, intending to murder and rob her. Of the type of story plumbed so meticulously by Scooby Doo. Dialogue from the frame story is sometimes interspersed in the same tense and person as the story, which is quite jarring. 1/5
The Adventure of the German Student • (1824) • Washington Irving
A melancholic German student studying in Paris during the revolution makes the acquaintance of a beautiful guillotine victim. Although it’s an anti-Enlightenment tale at heart, it’s a more effective tale of creepiness than the prior two. As always, although it was also in Straub’s “American Fantastic Tales,” I liked it better here. 3/5
Ants • (1987) • Chet Williamson
A man mistreats ants, so the ants mistreat him. The antagonist (get it?) is compellingly sketched in a very short amount of time, although the ending is a bit goofy for my taste. 3/5
The Assembly of the Dead • (1990) • Chet Williamson
An American congressman visits an unnamed country to retrieve the body of one of his constituents. A shady character offers to return the body for a sum of money, but when the congressman sees it, he realizes only some of the body parts are from the man he is looking for. He goes through with the deal, but this causes him no small amount of existential dread. 4/5
At the Bureau • (1980) • Steve Rasnic Tem
An incredible Kafkaesque story of dead-end jobs and inhumane officescapes. Even if I don’t like any of the rest of the stories in this book, which seems unlikely, this one makes the whole thing worthwhile. 5/5

Babylon: 70 M. • (1963) • Donald A. Wollheim
Predicated on a coincidence too ridiculous to work – a scholar receives an ancient Babylonian urn to restore and research just as his neighbor is reading a Babylonian-related nursery rhyme to her child. Putting the two together, he stumbles into an ancient bit of magic. Very (M. R.) Jamesian, but not effectively so. 2/5
Berenice • (1835) • Edgar Allan Poe (variant of Berenice—A Tale)
Poe and I just don’t really get along – this pulls from his usual grab bag of tricks (being buried alive, a guilty conscience, mental illness and bizarre fixation on a beautiful woman), none of which do much for me, and his hysterical writing style continues to grate on me. 1/5
Beyond the Wall • (1907) • Ambrose Bierce
A man visits a childhood friend and finds him decrepit and living in the presence of a ghost who knocks on the outside of an upper story wall. The friend proceeds to fill the narrator in on the back story – the ghost is that of a woman who was once his neighbor, and they flirted by tapping on the wall separating their bedrooms. The narrator leaves and the friend dies. That’s it. 1/5
The Boarded Window • (1889) • Ambrose Bierce
The narrator recounts the folklore behind a local haunted cabin – seems that during Ohio’s frontier days, a man was preparing his wife’s body for burial when a panther put in an unexpected appearance. Actually uses a lot of the same themes as Poe, but without the irksome prose. 3/5
Boxes • (1982) • Al Sarrantonio
Two boys invade the home of a local hermit who collects boxes. One boy escapes, but the other doesn’t. Much is made of the contrast of the comforts of home and childhood with the creepy appeal of the collection of boxes. Vaguely reminiscent of both Bradbury and R. Campbell, but falls short of both, perhaps due largely to the fact that I fail to see the appeal (or menace) of a room full of boxes. 2/5
The Candidate • (1961) • Henry Slesar
A young executive engaged in a feud with an older colleague is contacted by a mysterious group that uses the collective willpower of its members to wish targets dead. His assumption that he’s a prospective client proves unfounded. 2/5
Cemetery Dance • (1992) • Richard T. Chizmar
Firmly in the Poe tradition – a young man believes himself to have received a note from a teenage girl he murdered years before, and kills himself on her grave thinking it will earn her forgiveness. Turns out he wrote the note himself. 1/5
The Certificate • (1959) • Avram Davidson
50 years after an alien invasion, a man navigates their bureaucracy in order to escape the only way he can. Wasn’t really expecting science fiction in this collection, but why not, I guess. I swear I’ve read this one before, although none of the places ISFDB has it appearing are familiar to me. 3/5
Cheapskate • (1987) • shortfiction by Gary L. Raisor
A boy, upset that his parents gave him a camera instead of roller skates for his birthday, uses said camera to take pictures of his dad fooling around with the babysitter, which he then uses to extort a pair of roller skates. The story closes with the rollerskating boy being pulled by the dad in the car, but he doesn’t think he can keep up for much longer… A modern conte cruel, this is not my thing at all. 1/5
The China Bowl • (1916) • E. F. Benson
What is the weird equivalent of a “cosy catastrophe” story? Whatever the phrase, this is is one – a man buys a house vacated by a widower, and the ghost of the wife helps bring her murderous husband to justice. The husband meets a gruesome end (accidentally…?) but otherwise this is all very staid and unremarkable. 2/5
The Cobweb • (1914) • Saki
The young wife of the new owner of a farm waits for the 90-something-year-old cook to die so that she can modernize the kitchen, only to find that death does not always come to the ones we expect. I certainly wouldn’t have described this as a horror story, although it’s certainly about the weight of the past and misplaced faith in the present. I think that all of the Saki stories that I’ve read have been a few pages long, did he write anything lengthier? 3/5
Come to the Party • (1983) • Frances Garfield
Four friends, lost while looking for a publisher’s party, end up at a creepy mansion that they assume to be the correct site, although no one they recognize is there and everything seems increasingly off-kilter. When one runs away, she stumbles onto the correct house, where she’s told the creepy mansion (home of some sort of human-sacrificing cultists) burned down years ago, and, indeed, there’s nothing there when she looks back. This one would not be out of place in a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark collection – aside from a little bit of characterization, there’s little to no effort to set up anything other than the “shocking” ending, although the suffocating feeling of being at an unwelcoming party is captured effectively. 2/5
A Curious Dream • (1882) • Mark Twain
A curious dream in which the narrator sees a stream of skeletons cadavers vacating a nearby cemetery, which their descendents have allowed to lapse into disrepair. Folksy, not too serious, very Mark Twain. Does the presence of a talking cadaver immediately place something in the horror genre? I would say not. 2/5
Dark Wings • (1982) • Phyllis Eisenstein
An aging spinster, liberated by the recent deaths of her overbearing parents, takes advantage of her newfound freedom to try to paint a mysterious giant bird she sees at night on the beach. The bird eventually feeds her to its young. A relatively well-written story. 3/5
Dead Call • (1976) • William F. Nolan
A man takes a call from a dead friend, who talks him into joining this passive, relaxing state. Probably the highest ratio of ellipses to words that I have ever encountered. 3/5
Different Kinds of Dead • (1990) • Ed Gorman
Another one that could have come straight out of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – a man picks up a mysterious, beautiful woman by the side of the road who turns out to be a ghost – but the barebones plot is used here to illustrate the similarities between death and a wasted, lonely life. Perfectly paired with the preceding story. 4/5
Displaced Person • (1948) • Eric Frank Russell
A man sits on a park bench, and an artistic-looking European immigrant joins him. They chat and we learn the displaced person is so because of his fomenting of a rebellion against a despot. Our narrator, a good American, agrees that tyrants bring it upon themselves. Turns out the foreigner is Lucifer. The devil as the first revolutionary is an old trope on the Left, but it is certainly a good one. 5/5
The Disintegration of Alan • (1985) • Melissa Mia Hall
An artist’s husband begins to mysteriously disintegrate one morning. The things we lose when a relationship ends refigured as weird. 3/5
Down by the Sea Near the Great Big Rock • (1984) • Joe R. Lansdale
A family vacations down by the sea near the great big rock – which turns out to be some sort of monster that incites and feeds on negative emotions. The family ends up slaughtering each other. A bit too focused on humans torturing and butchering each other for my taste. Lansdale is another icon of the field that just doesn’t speak to me. 2/5
Dragon Sunday • (1979) • Ruth Berman
You begin to see dragons infesting LA – are you crazy, or has no one else noticed because of the fog? More of a prose poem about the beauty of dragons than a story, but I do have a soft spot for writing in the 2nd person. 3/5
Duck Hunt • (1986) • Joe R. Lansdale
A rite of passage into manhood turns out to be much more brutal than expected. The male bonding ritual is skillfully skewered, although this one also basically boils down to human beings torturing each other. 3/5
The Dust • (1982) • Al Sarrantonio
Much like “Boxes,” this one hinges on childhood, but even less effectively so here: a developmentally-disabled (?) man, figuratively haunted by the time his childhood “friends” dumped dust all over him, is literally haunted by the dust in his home. I’m having a hard time putting my finger on exactly what didn’t work here, but work it did not. 1/5
The Evil Clergyman • (1939) • H. P. Lovecraft
Looked this one up after finishing it to see that it was an excerpt from a letter describing a dream, published posthumously as a story – and that’s how it reads. 1/5
Examination Day • (1958) • Henry Slesar
Exactly the sort of thing present in the Year’s Best anthologies that has killed my interest in science fiction. A boy, on his 12th birthday, goes to a government-mandated exam, but his level of intelligence has been outlawed, and he is killed. Somehow the boy (who reads more like a 5-year-old than a 12-year-old) has never heard of these tests before. 1/5
The Faceless Thing • (1963) • Edward D. Hoch
Mostly great – a very old man returns to his childhood home to confront the monster that killed his sister when they were young, only to find that old age is not an exclusively human malady. The fact that said “very old man” is actually only 60 kind of makes the message a little hard to swallow. 4/5
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar • (1845) • Edgar Allan Poe
I’ve read this one several times recently and, while it’s probably one of the Poes I’m most favorable toward, I didn’t feel the need to read it again at this point.
Feeding Time • (1955) • James E. Gunn
We are told right off the bat how beautiful our female protagonist is, which, in combination with the title, gave me a bad, bad feeling about where this was headed. That turned out to be ill-founded, though – instead, she just happens to have some sort of psychic connection with an alien in a zoo in the future that she tricks into eating psychiatrists. You heard me. 1/5
Feeding Time • (1953) • Robert Sheckley
A nerd finds a book on the care and feeding (virgins) of griffins. He assumes, of course, that that means female virgins, right up until the point that he is eaten by a griffin. Clever, Sheckley. In the broadest strokes, this story is identical to “Babylon: 70 M.” 3/5
The Final Quest • (1981) • poem by William F. Nolan
This sure is a poem.
Fish Night • (1982) • Joe R. Lansdale
Two salesman stranded in the desert encounter spectral, time-traveling fish from the world before humanity. The older one, longing to be a part of this simpler world, strips himself of everything modern to swim off through the air with them, but the younger one, with fillings in his teeth and a rod in his back, understands that this is his world. Shockingly, things don’t work out for the man floating off with the giant fish. I enjoyed this one thematically, and it was well-written (and wasn’t about people torturing one another!) but the image of a man swimming through the air is a bit too Disney for me. 3/5
The Four-Fingered Hand • (1911) • Barry Pain
The hereditary vision of a four-fingered hand that warns the men of the family when there’s danger afoot doesn’t take kindly to being ignored. 2/5
A Ghost Story • (1875) • Mark Twain
Starts off as a legitimately scary story, with a massive presence pulling the covers off of the narrator, blood dripping, chains being dragged about, and so on. Takes a turn when it’s revealed the the massive presence is the ghost of the Cardiff Giant and proceeds as a humorous Twain story. 3/5
Give Her Hell • (1969) • Donald A. Wollheim
Again, the story of humans torturing other humans – this time a man physically and emotionally abusing his wife and daughter. When they almost escape him, he makes a deal with the Devil, not realizing his wish for a second life would render him reincarnated as his own daughter – a hell of his own making. Not pleasant to read. 2/5
The Giveaway • (1981) • Steve Rasnic Tem
A childhood taunt (“if you’re bad, your dad’s going to give you away”) turns out to be true. After seeing her mother carried off (by some truly terrifying entities that strongly echo John Collier’s “Evening Primrose”), a daughter vows to herself never to upset her father again. A much better handling of the same thematic material as the preceding story. 4/5
The Glove • (1975) • Fritz Leiber
As good as a story about the sexual assault of a woman written by a man of his generation could be? This may sound like (or be) damning with faint praise. The supernatural elements are entirely different, but the emphasis on the community of an apartment building (and the exclusion of any other setting) is very reminiscent of Leiber’s later “Horrible Imaginings.” 3/5
The Grab • (1982) • Richard Laymon
A man takes an old college buddy (who is going through a cowboy phase) to a local redneck bar where the titular game is taking place – trying to grab a ring out of the mouth of a decapitated head kept in a jar. There’s a shocking surprise! 2/5
The Haunted Mill; or, The Ruined Home • (1891) • Jerome K. Jerome (variant of The Haunted Mill)
Starts with a bit of metafiction about ghost stories and Christmastime before moving on to the secondhand story of a man who buys a haunted mill and thinks the ghost therein must be trying to reveal some hidden treasure to him. This results in a ruined home. 3/5
He Kilt It with a Stick • (1968) • William F. Nolan
A man has a lifelong antagonistic relationship with cats. The cats get catastrophic revenge. 1/5
Heading Home • (1978) • Ramsey Campbell
A mad scientist awakens in his basement, having been assaulted and tossed down there by his wife’s lover. He crawls back upstairs to wreak his revenge. The twist ending is given away by the title. I expected better from Campbell. 2/5
The Hollow of the Three Hills • (1830) • Nathaniel Hawthorne
Starts off seeming like a story of a Weird Place, which has been sorely lacking in this collection, but ends up being instead about a witch showing a younger woman scenes with distant times and places until she dies. 1/5
The Hollow Man • (1991) • Norman Partridge
Some sort of parasitic reptilian monster replaces one human captive with another. A run-of-the-mill creature feature, but a well-written one, and I’d take that sort of thing over a contes cruel any day. 4/5
Holly, Don’t Tell • (1979) • Juleen Brantingham
A girl is stuck with her awful shrew of a mother after her father leaves without saying goodbye. Her favorite keepsake of his is the trunk in which he kept his magic tricks, and in a somewhat bizarre twist a boy comes over intending to assault her and she tricks him into falling into the trunk, which turns to be a bottomless pit (where her father is also hiding). 3/5
The Hound • [Cthulhu Mythos] • (1924) • H. P. Lovecraft
Very minor Lovecraft – two graverobbers bring a must unholy doom upon their own heads. 3/5
The Hour and the Man • (1894) • Robert Barr
A bandit is sentenced to death. Heavily prefigures some of Borges’ and Robbe-Grillet’s work. 4/5
The House at Evening • (1982) • Frances Garfield
A coven of vampiric ladies of the evening still inhabit a brothel in a neighborhood that has mostly died out. It’s still visited by the occasional college boy, though. 2/5
The Idea • (1971) • Barry N. Malzberg [as by K. M. O’Donnell ]
A TV man comes up with some sort of new idea for a pilot and ends up alienated from his family and on trial. I am confident enough in myself to admit that this one sailed right over my head, although I enjoyed reading it well enough. 3/5
Identity Crisis • (1982) • Thomas F. Monteleone
A man seeks revenge against his shady employer by killing the employer’s newborn infant. When he realizes none of the children in the maternity ward have nametags, an unpleasant solution presents itself. 1/5
In the Corn • (1982) • Robert Fox
A pseudonym for Al Sarrantonio – given away by the fact that it is, yet again, concerned with a traumatic childhood incident. A young man tells his doctor about the time his governess accidentally blinded him by dropping him on dried corn stalks when he was a child. Wrong, the doctor says, your brother did it on purpose and you have repressed the memory. Then it turns out the doctor is the brother and he’s back to finish the job. The gore is dwelled on incessantly. Totally nonsensical, this was perhaps my least favorite story in the book. 1/5
An Incident on Route 12 • (1962) • James H. Schmitz
With the lack of prefatory material, it’s kind of weird being thrown into each story with no idea when it was written, and I would have pegged this one as a decade or two prior to 1962. A bank robber waylays some passersby to steal their car, only to find they had already been waylaid by some aliens. 3/5
Interview • (1963) • Frank A. Javor
A takedown of predatory, sensationalistic journalism as science fiction where the subject’s (a grieving mother) emotional response is artificially enhanced. 2/5
The Jam • (1958) • Henry Slesar
A textbook example of the “turns out they’re in hell” kind of story – this time in the form of an endless traffic jam. 2/5
The Kirk Spook • (1912) • E. G. Swain
A parish clerk encounters a pathetic ghost in a church. Another one that begs the question “does the presence of a ghost render a story horrific automatically?” The answer is “no, it doesn’t.” 1/5
Making Friends • (1985) • shortfiction by Gary L. Raisor [as by Gary Raisor ]
A boy, maimed in the past by eating Halloween candy laced with razors, pays it forward. 1/5
The Marble Hands • (1915) • Bernard Capes
It’s pretty weird to read these stories with no concern for chronology and hence to vacillate wildly from staid ghost story to boy maimed by razors to staid ghost story – here, a woman who was, in life, fixated on her hands has spooky marble hands jutting from her grave site. Short even by the standards of this book. 2/5
Mariana • (1960) • Fritz Leiber
Science fiction: a woman surrounded by holograms turns them off, one by one. A very bleak, wonderful story. 5/5
Masque • (1990) • Ed Gorman
A serial killer takes revenge on women because of his mother’s abuse. The mother’s visit to the son in the hospital is interspersed with police reports about the victims. Could not be any less appealing to me. 1/5
The Middle Toe of the Right Foot • (1890) • Ambrose Bierce
A rather rote ghost story predicated on information being withheld from the reader for no real reason at all. 2/5
Moving Night • (1986) • Nancy Holder
One that, on the face of it, I shouldn’t care much for – a boy lies in bed, terrified by the shadows of movement around him, and traumatized by abusive parents, on whom we find out he has exacted revenge – but it was really and truly unsettling and terrifying. 5/5
Naples • (1978) • Avram Davidson
A tourist in Naples finds a local to take him to a seedy part of town to buy something particularly unsavory. A beautiful, dreamlike examination of greed and callousness. “Die? Why should you die when I must eat?” 5/5
Night Visions • (1979) • Jack Dann
A hack writer trapped in a loveless marriage decides to kill himself by crashing his car, but finds himself unable to do so. Very reminiscent of Anna Hunger’s “Come” inasmuch – a man trying to escape his former life finds his inability to change literalized as entrapment a speeding car. 4/5
Night Deposits • (1987) • Chet Williamson
A mill owner’s greed causes the disfigurement and then death of a teen working for him. He spends decades atoning and doing penance the only way he knows how. None of the townsfolk know what he’s doing, just that he is increasingly withdrawn and decrepit. 4/5
Nightshapes • (1979) • Barry N. Malzberg
A werewolf story re-envisioned as a kind of New Wave piece with feverish prose that verges on stream-of-consciousness at times. 4/5
No. 1 Branch Line: The Signalman • (1866) • Charles Dickens (variant of The Signalman)
An anthology standby (one of the few in this collection), where a man gets to know a railroad signalman who sees phantom trains and hears phantom signals that always signify an oncoming tragedy. 3/5
The Old Black Hat • (1986) • shortfiction by Gary L. Raisor [as by Gary Raisor ]
One of the unfortunate jokey ones – what if a kid put Frosty the Snowman’s magic hat on a corpse instead? 1/5
Out of the Storm • (1909) • William Hope Hodgson
A natural event (a storm and the sinking of a ship) rendered in supernatural, Weird language (by the rather unlikely means of telegraph messages sent from a doomed passenger). 4/5
Out of Africa • (1983) • David Drake
A man tells his grandson about the time he hunted a dinosaur in Africa. 2/5
The Oval Portrait • (1842) • Edgar Allan Poe
An ill man takes refuge in an Italian villa in the mountains and becomes fixated on the portrait of a girl. He discovers that she had been the wife of the artist, and that was so demure that she wasted away without a peep while sitting for the portrait. I would be fine with never again reading another Poe story about the death of a beautiful woman/girl. 1/5
Party Time • (1984) • Mort Castle
A pale echo of “Born of Man and Woman.” 1/5
The Passenger • (1917) • E. F. Benson
A man encounters a ghost on a double-decker bus (shades of Hartley’s “Visitor from Down Under”). The ghost then encounters the conductor. 3/5
Peekaboo • (1979) • Bill Pronzini
Some sort of tough criminal guy explores the supposedly-haunted house he’s renting. One of those stories that’s just a build-up to the final line. 3/5
The Pitch • (1978) • Dennis Etchison
Another male psychopath taking revenge on women in general because of the sins of his mother. 1/5
The Poor • (1982) • Steve Rasnic Tem
Surreal and dream-like, a doctor finds himself unable to avoid suffering poor people everywhere he goes. 5/5
The Rag Thing • (1951) • Donald A. Wollheim [as by David Grinnell ]
A creature feature about a sentient rag thing. 2/5
Rendezvous • (1985) • Ed Gorman [as by Edward Gorman ]
Alternating POVs between a burnout stoner dude driving his car and a runaway teenage girl trying to hitch-hike. A more interesting form than most anything else here, it closes before anything horrific happens, but the actual subject matter could not be any less interesting to me. 2/5
The Same Old Grind • (1978) • Bill Pronzini
Pronzini appears to be fond of these stories that exist simply to justify their titles. This one involves a bored businessman and a cannibal who runs a deli. You see where this is going. 1/5
The Skeleton • (1893) • Jerome K. Jerome
A story of revenge from beyond the grave. Not much to it. 2/5
Something There Is • (1981) • Charles L. Grant
A horror writer facing writer’s block looks for inspiration in all the wrong places. 4/5
Spring-Fingered Jack • (1983) • Susan Casper
A man plays a Jack the Ripper video game. We assume it’s training him to kill women, but it turns out he kills women to practice for the video game. No thank you. 1/5
Sredni Vashtar • (1911) • Saki
Just read this in the Cerf Wagner/Wise book and didn’t feel the need to reread it just yet.
The Statement of Randolph Carter • [Randolph Carter] • (1920) • H. P. Lovecraft
They picked some really bad Lovecraft stories for this collection, perhaps because he doesn’t lend himself well to short shorts – Randolph Carter recounts his experience waiting at the entry to a mausoleum while a friend inside encounters… something. The reducto ad absurdum of the “terror by implication” trope. 1/5
The Story of Muhammad Din • (1886) • Rudyard Kipling
An Englishman in India befriends the son of his servant, accidentally destroys the boy’s dirt creations, and then watches the child die of fever. What is this doing in this book? 1/5
The Thing in the Forest • (1915) • Bernard Capes
A creature feature about a werewolf priest. Not much to it. 2/5
Threshold • (1982) • Sharon Webb
I realize I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too by complaining both about the “merely generic” stories here and the ones that don’t fit the genre, but this is a story about a woman raising a gorilla, who learns about death. Ends with some gorilla-typed words that are unintentionally cringeworthy. 2/5
Today’s Special • (1972) • Dennis Etchison
Another story about a deli that hints at cannibalism, but in a very oblique and low-key fashion. I do enjoy horror stories told in a very oblique and low-key fashion. 4/5
Topsy • (1989) • F. Paul Wilson
Cannibalism, but not in a deli this time. An incredibly obese man, hospitalized after his brother tried to kill him by neglect, accidentally kills and starts eating his nurse. 1/5
Toy • (1985) • Bill Pronzini
A Cold War parable about a kid who finds a toy that ends up being some sort of alien device that grows and threatens the world. 2/5
Transfer • (1975) • Barry N. Malzberg
I find myself deeply conflicted about this one – it’s a very well-written story about a low-level white collar worker who finds himself transforming into/taken over by some sort of inhuman monster. The catch is that this beast seems, on some level, to be functioning as a metaphor for sexual assault. That might be me reading into things that aren’t there, but it’s still enough to leave me very uncomfortable.
Treats • (1990) • Norman Partridge
Weirdly synchronous with Raisor’s “Making Friends” – a boy has somehow taken over a horde of monsters (ants, perhaps?) and plans to smuggle them into other houses using candy as Trojan horses. 4/5
Under My Bed • (1981) • Al Sarrantonio
Surprisingly enough, here’s a Sarrantonio story about a traumatic childhood event – a boy, locked in his room by his abusive dad, befriends the monster under his bed. More effective than Sarrantonio’s other stories, although marred by a cutesy ending (“Hi Dad!”). 3/5
Up Under the Roof • (1938) • Manly Wade Wellman
Even moreso than the Lovecraft, terror-by-implication stretched beyond the breaking point. A boy is afraid of something he heard crawling in the space under the roof. When he looks, there’s nothing there and he never hears it again, but he knows he had to test himself by looking. 2/5
The Upturned Face • (1900) • Stephen Crane
A war scene wherein some soldiers bury a compatriot. Another one that I would not have placed in the genre. 2/5
We Have Always Lived in the Forest • (1987) • Nancy Holder
A truly Weird tale – a woman lives in the forest with her numerous children, upon whom she feeds. Another woman arrives with her child – like the narrator, fleeing the nearby village. It quickly comes to light that either our narrator is unreliable, or the new woman is. Wonderfully dreamlike. I haven’t managed to puzzle out the Shirley Jackson connection yet (aside from the very broad unreliable reclusive female narrator). 5/5
Where Did She Wander? • [John the Balladeer] • (1987) • Manly Wade Wellman
I like Wellman’s Appalachian approach to the Weird, but I am not so much a fan of the mystic detective subgenre with a recurring hero who saves the day. Here, John the Balladeer and his silver-stringed guitar deal with a hung woman who has been unnaturally prolonging her life. 3/5
Witness • (1986) • Avram Davidson
An ad is placed in a newspaper asking for witnesses to a recent hit and run, and the greedy man who answers asking for a reward gets what’s coming to him. Nothing compared to “Naples,” but better than most stories here. 3/5

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