The Burning: (Ghosts & Scholars 3, 1981: it made Best of Ghosts & Scholars, too!)
Alan Hunter's illustration for The Burning in Ghosts & Scholars #3
Miseryside during the Thatcher years. A time of swingeing cuts, mass unemployment, growing social unrest. Blake has recently been made redundant and it feels as though he's been pronounced obsolete. On November 5th and, with nothing better to do he attends a public firework display in the park.
Perhaps Blake was just depressed yet it seemed to him that while Hallowe'en was supposed to be the feat of the macabre, tonight was altogether grimmer. How else could one describe a night when an executioner's victim was resurrected to be burned a thousandfold?
Earlier in the evening a group of youths pelted the fire brigade with bottles but now a second, far deadlier mob emerge from the trees. Blake is singled out, set upon, gagged with a cloth soaked in petrol and manhandled onto a bonfire ...
for me, one of the author's nastiest, full-on horror stories. It's inclusion in Inconsequential Tales suggests he doesn't consider The Burning among his successes. It worked for me.
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. - Christine Campbell Thomson