A little door that opens to a world of fairy tale wonders becomes the blood-drenched stomping ground for a gang of hunters in “Faun.” A grief-stricken librarian climbs behind the wheel of an antique Bookmobile to deliver fresh reads to the dead in “Late Returns.” In “By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain,” two young friends stumble on the corpse of a plesiosaur at the water’s edge, a discovery that forces them to confront the inescapable truth of their own mortality . . . and other horrors that lurk in the water’s shivery depths. And tension shimmers in the sweltering heat of the Nevada desert as a faceless trucker finds himself caught in a sinister dance with a tribe of motorcycle outlaws in “Throttle,”
Introduction: Who’s Your Daddy?
· Dark Carousel
· Wolverton Station
· By The Silver Water Of Lake Champlain
· Late Returns
· All I Care About Is You
· The Devil On The Staircase
· Twittering From The Circus Of The Dead
· In The Tall Grass
· You Are Released
The book/story is published with these cover(s):
(Click image to see full cover)
Information about edition(s):
Subterranean Press limited edition:
Information about edition(s):
Gollancz- Goldsboro S/L
Information about edition(s):
· Goldboro bookstore has #250 signed ‘limited stamp’ editions
The story starts as follows:
Introduction – Who’s your daddy?
We had a monster every night.
I had this book I loved, Bring On the Bad Guys, It was a big, chuncky paperback collection of comic-book stories, and as you might guess from the tiltle, it wasn’t much cencerned with heroes. It was instead an anthology of tales about the worst of the worst, vile psychopaths with names like The Abomination and faces to match.
My dad had to read that book to me every night. He didn’t have a choise. It was one of these Scheherazade-tye deals. If he didn’t read to me, I wouldn’t stay in bed. I’d slip out from onder my Empire Strikes Back quilt and roam the house in my Spider-Man Underoos, soggy thumb in my mouth and my filthy comfort blanket tossed over one schouder.
They rode west from the slaughter, through the painted desert, and did not stop until they were a hundred miles away. Finally, in the early afternoon, they turned in at a diner with a white stucco exterior and pumps on concrete islands out front. The overlapping thunder of their engines shook th eplate-glass windows as they rolled by. They drew up together among parked long-haul trucks, on the west side of the building, and there they put down their kickstands and turned off their bikes.
It used to be on postcards: The carousel at the end of the Cape Maggie Pier. It was called the Wild Wheel, and it ran fast—not as fast as a roller coaster but quite a bit faster than the usual carousel for kiddies. The Wheel looked like an immense cupcake, its cupola roof striped in black and green with royal gold trim. After dark it was a jewel box awash in an infernal red glow, like the lights inside an oven. Wurlitzer music floated up and down the beach, discordant strains that sounded like a Romanian waltz, something for a nineteenthcentury ball attented by Dracula and his icy white brides.
Saunders saw the first wolf as the train was pulling in to Wolverton Station.
He glanced up from his Financial Times and there it was, out on the platform, a wolf six feet tall with a scally cap tucked between his bristly, graying ears. The wolf stood on his hind legs, wore a trench coat, and held a briefcase in one paw. A bushy tail whipped impatiently back and forth, presumably poking out from a hole in the seat of his pants. The train was still moving, and in a moment the wolf blinked out of sight.
By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain
The robot shuffled clanck-clanck into the pitch dark of the bedroom, then stood staring down at the humans. The female human groaned and rolled away and folded a pillow over her head.
“Gail, honey,” said the male, licking dry lips. “mother has a headache. can you take that noise out of here?”
“I CAN PROVIDE A STIMULATING CUP OF COFFEE,” boomed the robot in an emotionless voice.
‘Tell her to get out, Raymond,” said the female. “My head is exploding.”
“Go on, Gail. You can hear mother isn’t herself,” said the male.
“YOU ARE INCORRECT. I HAVE SCANNED HER VITALS,” said the robot. “I HAVE IDENTIFIED HER AS SYLVIA LONDON. SHE IS HERSELF.”
The robot tilted her head to one side, inquistively, waiting for more data. The pot on her head fell off and hit the floor with a great steely crash.
PART ONE: OUR SIDE OF THE DOOR
Fallows Gets His Cat.
The first time Stockton spoke of the little door, Fallows was under a baobab tree, waiting on a lion.
“After this, if you’re still looking for something to get your pulse going, give Mr. Charn a call. Edwin Charn in Maine. He’ll show you the little door.” Stockton sipped whiskey and laughed softly. “Bring your checkbook.”
The baobab was old, nearly the size of a cottage, and had dry rot. The whole western face of the trunk was cored out. Hemingway Hunts had built the blind right into the ruin of the tree itself: a khaki tent, disguised by fans of tamarind. Inside were cots and a refrigerator with cold beer in it and a good wifi signal.
Stockton’s son, Peter, was asleep in one of the cots, his back to them. He’d celebrated his high school graduation by killing a black rhinoceros, only the day before. Peter had brought along his best friend from boarding school, Christian Swift, but Christian didn’t kill anything except time, sketching the animals.
Three slaughtered chickens hung upside down from the branch of a camel thorn, ten yards from the tent. A sticky puddle of blood pooled in the dust beneath. Fallows had an especially clear view of the birds on the night-vision monitors, where they looked like a mass of grotesque, bulging fruits.
When my parents went, they went together.
My father wrote a couple letters first. He wrote one for the Kingsward PD. His vision was very poor—he’d been legally blind for three years—and the letter was brief, composed in a hardly legible scrawl. It informed police that they would find two bodies in a blue Cadillac, parked in the garage, at his home on Keane Street. My mother had been able to look after my father until three months before, but she had received diagnosis of progressive dementia, and her condition was worsening fast.
All I Care About Is You
She grabs the brake and power-drifts the Monowheel to a stop for a red light, just before the overpass that spans the distance between bad and worse.
Iris doesn’t want to look up at the Spoke and can’t help herself. The habit of longing is hard to quit and there’s a particularly good view of it from this corner. Sje knows by now certain hings are out of reach, but her blood doesn’t seem to know it. When she allows herself to remember the promises her father made a year ago, her blood seems to throb inside her with excitement. Pitiful.
The first tumbprint came in the mail.
Mal was eight months back from Abu Ghraib, were she had done things she regretted. She had returned to Hammett, New York, just in time to bury her father. He died ten hours before her plane touched down in the States, which was maybe all for the best. After the things she had done, she wasn’t sure she could’ve looked him in the eye. Although a part of her had wanted to talk to him about it and to see in his face how he judged her. Without him there was no one to hear her story, no one whose judgment mattered.
The Devil on the Staircase
the child of a
of my birth
nested in the
ridges, high above
Positano, and in the
cold spring the clouds
crawled along the streets
like a procession of ghosts.
Twittering from the Circus of the Dead
What is Twitter? “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? . . . Answers must be under 140 characters in length and can be sent via mobile texting, instant message, or the Web.”
TYME2WASTE I’m only trying this because I’m so bored I wish I was dead. Hi Twitter. Want to know what I’m doing? Screaming inside.
8:17 p.m.—28 Feb from Tweetie
TYME2WASTE My, didn’t that sound melodramatic.
8:19 p.m.—28 Feb from Tweetie
TYME2WASTE Lets try this again. Hello Twitterverse. I am Blake and Blake is me. What am I doing? Counting seconds.
8:23 p.m.—28 Feb from Tweetie
TYME2WASTE Only about 50,000 more until we pack up and finish what is hopefully the last family trip of my life.
8:25 p.m.—28 Feb from Tweetie
TYME2WASTE It’s been all downhill since we got to Colorado. And I don’t mean on my snowboard.
8:27 p.m.—28 Feb from Tweetie
When Jack comes downstairs for breakfast, Bloom is on the landline, talking to someone in a confidential, urgent tone of voice. jack pays hos mother no mind and helps himself to a bowl of granila. Cereals containing refined sugars and preservatives are not allowed in the McCourt household—the preservativesin sugar cereals are known to cause both autism and homosexuality. He carries his breakfast into the sitting room to watch X-Men on TV. X-Men is liberal media brainwashing and also frowned upon, but Jack’s father id off to Witchita for a gun show, and his mother is less hung up about cartoons.
In the Tall Grass
He wanted quiet for a while instead of the radio, so you could say what happened was his fault. She wanted fresh air instead of the AC for a while, so you could say it was hers. But since they never would have heard the kid without both of those things, you’d really have to say it was a combination, wich made it perfect Cal-and-Becky, because they had run in tandem all their lives. Cal and Becky DeMuth, born nineteen months apart. Their parents called them the Irish Twins.
You Are Released
Gregg Holder in Business
Holder is on his third Scotch and playing it cool about the famous woman sitting next to him when all the TVs in the cabon go black and a message in white blocks text appears on the screens. AN ANNOUNCEMENT IS IN PROGRESS. Static hisses from the public address system. The pilot has a young voice, the voice of an uncertain teenager addressing a crowd at a funeral.
“Folks, this is Captain Waters. I’ve had a message from our team on the ground, and after thinking it over, it seems proper to share it with you. There’s been an incident at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and—”
The PA cut out. There is a long, suspenseful silence.
“—I am told,” Waters continues abruptly, “that U.S. Strategic Command is no longer in contact with our forces there or with the regional governor’s office. There are reports from off-shore that— that there was a flash. Some kind of flash.”
Story Notes and Acknowledgments
In the introduction I talked about some of the artists who most influenced me. One I left out was the npvelist Bernard Malamus, author of The Fixer and The Assistant, who onc suggested that a corpse in a coffin might be the perfect work of art, because “you got form, but also got content.”
The first good short story I ever wrote, “Pop Art,” was heavily influenced by Malamud’s “The Jewbird,” and my ideas about collections were shaped by his. A book of stories isn’t a novel and can’t have the simple narrative drive of a novel. I thinkt it should still try to have a feeling of progression, of connectedness. It’s like a road trip.
· Nominated Goodreads Choice Awards Best Horror (2019)