R. Chetwynd-Hayes (ed.) - The 17th Fontana Book Of Great Ghost Stories (1981)
Introduction - R. Chetwynd-Hayes
Stephen King - The Reaper's Image Dorothy K. Haynes - Help The Railway Mission Jeffery Farnol - The Cupboard Mary Elizabeth Counselman - The Shot-Tower Ghost Tony Richards - After Dark A. E. Ellis - Dead Man's Barn Richard Middleton - The Passing Of Edward Daphne Froome - The Last Innings Jerome K. Jerome - Christmas Eve In The Blue Chamber Heather Vineham - Catherine's Angel Agatha Christie - The Lamp Roger Malisson - Welcombe Manor Terry Tapp - The Bed E. Owens Blackburne - An Unsolved Mystery R. Chetwynd-Hayes - Which One? Emily Bronte - The Horrors Of Sleep (verse)
Roger Malisson - Welcombe Manor: With the ratings in decline, it's time for some tough decisions to be made by the producer of long running television soap Welcombe Manor which details the lives of a community of tower block dwellers. It's decided that popular character will be bumped off in a hit-and-run by joy-riders as he leaves The Welcombe Inn. The actor who plays him, old Joe Kendal, takes it badly: he goes on a three week bender and winds up critically in hospital. When the episode is aired, the switchboard is jammed with complaints from viewers upset by the macabre scream that accompanies Joey's death, although no such scream was ever recorded. From that day forth, Welcombe Manor is cursed. Joey's ghost walks abroad and, as the show runs over-budget and more actors and technicians are seriously injured on and around set, it's finally axed.
Stephen King - The Reaper's Image: An enchanted antique mirror that has claimed several lives , the victims simply vanishing once they've seen a black smudge on the glass which, on close inspection, is revealed to be the image of death. Spangler has to try it out for himself ...
Daphne Froome - The Last Innings: Kay, a reluctant spectator at her fiancee Bill's cricket match, is startled to witness several players slowly fade to nothing or, in one case, reduced to a skeleton as he leaves the pitch. When a fierce storm greets the final innings she realises she's had a premonition of a disaster that's about to unfold and must prevent Bill and his tedious uncle Tony from entering the pavilion.
Terry Tapp - The Bed: His wife Claire is dead, and now Paul lies in hospital unable to move a muscle beyond blinking in answer to Dr. Stewart's questions. How did he get into this terrible state? It all began when he reassembled the antique four-poster bed ... and released a Succubus. Maybe my favourite story by the unjustly neglected Tapp.
Agatha Christie - the Lamp: Mr. Winburn, his widowed daughter Mrs. Lancaster and her little boy Geoff move into an old house in Weyminster reputedly haunted by the ghost of an abandoned child who starved to death. Soon Mr. Winburn hears the patter of its tiny footsteps, but it's Geoff who actually sees and tries to befriend the dead infant who craves a playmate. Geoff falls gravely ill ...
Tony Richards - After Dark: Greenwich Village, New York. Jazz legend Jaybee Klane has been dead twenty years when his new, ground-breaking album After Dark is released to a mixture of rave reviews and outraged cries of "hoax!" Jaybee died of a bullet wound to the head. The verdict was suicide although his his old manager, Kenneth Zoth, knows this to be nonsense. Now the pair are reunited in the crumbling Bleeker Street slum where Klane made his home ...
Jerome K. Jerome - Christmas Eve In The Blue Chamber: ... is the revenant of an evil man who murdered a carol singer with a lump of coal (a direct hit straight down the throat), a coronet player, an Italian organ-grinder, poets and sundry musical nuisances. He is quite the serial killer. Jerome befriends him.
Richard Middleton - The Passing Of Edward: Short quiet piece in which a dead boy, through a supreme effort, manages to partially appear and bring comfort to his sister. She hears him, but can't see him.
Emily Bronte - The Horrors Of Sleep: Poetry, not usually my thing at all but this super-morbid groan of despair hits the spot. "Sleep brings no joy to me/ Remembrance never dies ....." Inspired move, including this in the same volume as The Bed!
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.