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The year's best horror stories : series XI

by Karl Edward Wagner;

  Print book : Fiction

Sampled story details   (about 2 weeks ago)

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by billborre

"Double Whammy" by Robert Bloch (from I) - A carnival barker knocks up one of the performers and tells her to get an abortion. After she dies from an attempt to do it herself with a knitting needle he's warned by a freak that the fortune teller will likely place a gypsy curse upon him. He's afraid that she will make him into the carnival geek, but what she actually does is transform him into the chicken.

"David's Worm" by Brian Lumley (from II) - A boy takes his scientist father's slide with a planarian worm experiment down to the copse and puts it into the pool. It swims off the slide and in rapid succession devours minnows, pikes, a dog and finally the boy himself who unsuspectingly assumes that it would be grateful to him for saving its life. The mutated creature gains the knowledge from each thing it eats so it makes its way back to the house and attempts to sit at the boy's place at the breakfast table and calls the mother "Mummy" while she screams.

"The Man in the Underpass" by Ramsey Campbell (from III) - A little girl is sexually molested by an evil spirit below an underpass.

"The Glove" by Fritz Leiber (from IV) - After an old woman is raped in an apartment the rapist's glove is recovered from the crime scene and given to a neighbor during the night to hold until the police can collect it. The man imagines the glove moving under its own power and when the officer shows up asking for it he cannot locate it. Another neighbor, the undiscovered rapist, comes by and attempts to throw suspicion off himself but the glove falls from its place upon a high dresser and settles against his neck. This upsets the rapist so much that he produces the knife which he used to assure compliance from his victim and leads to his arrest. The neighbor of the victim, still unsure as to whether the glove ever moved under its own power, mentions the glove belonged to the rapist's father who was a judge.

"Winter White" by Tanith Lee (from VI) - Crovac the warrior locates a pipe which he blows and summons a demon woman that his fellow warriors cannot see. He has sex with her and impregnates her but she never speaks to him and remains at his side no matter how he tries to be rid of her. His raging at the invisible presence convinces his tribesmen that their leader has gone mad and they banish him. Crovac finally gets the idea to blow into the opposite end of the pipe and this banishes the demon woman. He visits a peasant child who had been the only other person who could see the creature to celebrate his victory but he's dismayed to learn the creature has given birth to a fey daughter which pursues Crovac into the woods.

"The Pitch" by Dennis Etchison (from VII) - A sadistic man removes the safety guards from various kitchen slicers and dicers before selling them to enthusiastic Mother's Day shoppers.

"The Night of the Tiger" by Stephen King (from VII) - Mr. Legere and his nemesis Mr. Indrasil the lion tamer have a showdown when a tornado approaches the circus. Mr. Legere releases Green Terror the tiger from his cage to attack Mr. Indrasil. Mr. Indrasil shape-shifts into a tiger and the two tigers tear each other's throats out.

"The Baby-Sitter" by Davis Grubb (from VIII) - A baby-sitter meets her death at the hands of two brothers who remove their father's M-16 from the closet.

"Footsteps" by Harlan Ellison (from IX) - An American werewolf in Paris meets up with a plant being interested in copulating with her.

"Broken Glass" by Harlan Ellison (from X) - A woman traveling on the bus is attacked by a male telepath who rapes women mentally.

"The Grab" by Richard Laymon (from XI) - A barkeep keeps the zombie head of a cannibal in a fish tank and places a 1000 dollar diamond ring in its mouth so that patrons can have the chance to extract it for ten bucks. The sting in the tail occurs when the protagonist realizes the head isn't dead and the bar's regulars, several with mutilated hands, force him to participate after a failed attempt from his predecessor saying "Maybe you'll have good luck. Alf's a lot more tame after a good meal." 

"Spring-Fingered Jack" by Susan Casper (from XII) - A man practices murder at night in order to become proficient enough to beat a computer simulation based upon the crimes of Jack the Ripper.

"One for the Horrors" by David J. Schow (from XII) - A haunted movie theater shows excellent prints of horror films with footage that was never present in the originals.

"Never Grow Up" by John Gordon (from XIII) - A boy sitting in a cemetery relates to a dead girl's grave about how his mother attempted to get his alcoholic father to overdose on pills. The boy steals the pills and his mother accuses him of the theft. The father hangs himself. The boy reveals to the dead girl that he's been taking the pills while he's been speaking with her.

"Red Christmas" by David S. Garnett (from XIV) - This story is about a group of murderous children who stab to death several people before Christmas and the detective who figures out too late to save himself and his wife that they gain entrance to the victim's homes by appearing outside the door as carolers. 

"The Yougoslaves" by Robert Bloch (from XV) - Dracula descends into a sewer to retrieve a tomb key that has been stolen from him by a child thief. Confronting the ringleader of the band he demands the key but is set upon by the remaining five children. Dracula summons a horde of rats to devour the kids and drains the blood of the leader.

"Neighbourhood Watch" by Greg Egan (from XVI) - A suburb neighborhood watch is extremely effective after twelve community leaders dream into existence a demon creature bound by a contract to kill only those who violate clauses stipulated in the contract. The demon uses a loophole to get out of the contract and attack its masters by letting it lapse. He promises a little boy to kill him first as the boy has spent weeks mocking it. The boy thinks that by killing him the demon will destroy itself. The demon thinks the boy has no power to harm it but as the creature draws the boy towards its jaws the boy asks "And no one else dreamed of your death did they?"

"Zombies for Jesus" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (from XVIII) - A reverend uses zombies to whip up religious fervor.

"The Picnickers" by Brian Lumley (from XX) - A family of four gypsy ghouls set up a picnic on the opposite side of the cemetery wall when a new casket is interred. They extrude an appendage which burrows through the earth and the side of the casket to get at the flesh inside. Their behavior is discovered when the wife of the most recent dead man commits suicide and requests to be buried next to her husband. The husband's grave is disinterred and the damage to the casket observed. One man knows what type of creature is responsible so he designs a casket with a blade in it that can be operated remotely when penetrated. At the widow's interment the ghoul's appendages are amputated and they attempt to stumble away from their side of the cemetery wall. The angry townsfolk hunt them down and slaughter them.

"Feeding the Masses" by Yvonne Navarro (from XXI) - After a nuclear exchange, the IRS still wants its money. And if you can't pay, it literally becomes blood money.

"Resurrection" by Adam Meyer (from XXII) - A man stabs his girlfriend in the back after having acquired a resurrection chant from a witch for two hundred dollars. The chant works, but the man is frustrated his victim remembers nothing at all about what it is like to be dead, so he stabs her again and restarts the process.




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