It's perhaps debatable whether this should be in a book of horror stories. What we have here is another mission for those intrepid coves from the Diogenes Club, with - amongst others - Richard Jeperson, Genevieve Dieudonne, Sewell Head and Dr Shade's son investigating just why a remote pocket of Somerset is experiencing lethally-Arctic conditions in the middle of a record-breaking summer heatwave.
Sinister snowmen, mad scientists, and Newman's villain of villains Derek Leech all make for a memorable story - but it's still very much an action/thriller yarn with a few minor "horror" elements. However, it's enormous fun, with a memorable monster in the Cold - a sentient but ignorant living force of truly blood-freezing capability. And I've always been a sucker for Jeperson in these Department-S-Meets-Eldritch-Entities tales. Your mileage may vary.
Mark Samuels- A Gentleman From Mexico: " .... since Thursday 15 March 2003, I have been subject to a delusion whereby the identity of Lovecraft completely supplanted my own."
First read this in Stephen Jones' Summer Chills collection, and, if anything, enjoyed it more on the revisit. English horror anthologist Victor Armstrong is in Mexico City on a holiday exchange with industry friends. Juan Sanisidro, a dishevelled, alcoholic author acquaintance, is insistent that he's discovered the future of horror in bookshop-haunting mystery man, Felipe Lopez. Armstrong, of course, has heard it all before, but on reading his manuscript, can only agree that Lopez's work is altogether more accomplished than the usual crappy pastiches come his way, and he has pulled off a very credible impersonation of H. P. Lovecraft. This is hardly a surprise, because Lopez is Lovecraft - or so Sanisidro would have the editor believe.
It transpires that, prior to becoming the earthly receptacle of HPL, Lopez was Robert Hayward Barlow, serious black sorcerer and controversial self-appointed literary executor of his recently deceased pen-pal. Barlow, who remembers nothing of his life prior to the transformation, was prominent in The Soladity of the Black Sun, sad bozos who take their Cthulhu Mythos painfully seriously, and have seemingly succeeded in summoning an Elder God from the void. Armstrong is torn between anger that Sanisidro would make him the fall guy of so elaborate a hoax, and a nagging fear that the lunatic Lopez is exactly what Sanisidro claims him to be. A series of threatening messages and a terrible manifestation help convince him of a terrible truth.
Simon Kurt Unsworth - The Church On The Island: " We keep the light burning that holds the darkness at bay, and it is what you have come here to do."
Greek islands. Irritated beyond endurance at Roger, her clinging travelling companion and soon-to-be ex boyfriend, Charlotte swims across the water to explore the church. Brother Babbas, an evil-smelling ancient monk, gives her the guided tour, explaining as he does the purpose of the Order of St. John of Patmos. God has chosen Babbas for quite possibly the most important and least appealing job in the universe, but now, he confides, his tenure is at an end and another must take his place. Suddenly, the minor hassle of an overbearing partner seems too trivial to bear thinking about.
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.