Charles Birkin (ed.) - Tales Of Fear (Philip Allan, 1935)
Vera A. Gadd - The Road Patrick Clark - Bitten By A Spider Geoffrey Wyndham - Lewis - The Silent Inn W.A.C. Chadwick - Many Cats And One Tale A.D. Avison - The Horror In The Pond Oswell Blakeston - Adventure Without Asking Arthur Stafford Aylmer - The Thing From The Pit Tilly Scard - Lone Cottage Ada Helen - The Figure At The Window Henry L. Lawrence - A Journey By Train Vera A. Gadd - Hillmount Chrystabel Earle - The Snake
Vera A. Gadd - The Road: Hazel Peters moves into Farne House and is at once upsetting her staid, gloomy neighbours with her loud parties, so much so that Martha Yabsley, a severe, unpleasant looking spinster, asks her to move out. She explains that all the women in the road have led miserable lives and are jealous of the young and beautiful girl and her string of boyfriends. Outraged, Helen informs her that she intends to stay put and adds mischievously, "if you're all very good I'll invite you one evening to one of my orgies."
When Christmas arrives and Hazel, now engaged, is still at Farne House, it seems the blue-rinsers are softening to her. Miss Yabsley even invites her along to tea on Christmas Eve. Hazel attends and, for the first time, has serious doubts about remaining at Farne House when she realises just how wretched these women are, notably Miss Patterson from number six "whom she had never really seen before and who was the ghastliest, most deformed little cripple imaginable." Unfortunately for Hazel, her wine has been drugged. The women hand her over to the notorious Dr. Westover, a surgeon who disappeared some years ago when an experiment went horribly wrong. Miss Patterson no longer has to concern herself about being the most hideously deformed woman in the road ...
Patrick Clark - Bitten By A Spider : "To my inexperienced eyes the man seemed to be raving mad, two natives were holding him down, but he seemed to possess an abnormal strength, for every now and then he managed to elude their grasp and frantically tried to claw his face which was swelling visibly. Passing his hand over the affected part, the doctor drew back horror-struck, for his fingers had sunk into a pulpy mass of evil smelling matter which had once been the man's cheek ..."
An expedition through the jungles of Mandalay is hit by a series of ghastly deaths, the victims reduced to "a putrid mass of rotting flesh" within minutes of being bitten by a giant spider. "[he] had evidently died in the same awful manner as the native carrier-boy the previous evening, for his face and parts of his body had swollen to such a size that the skin had burst revealing the ghastly state of putrefaction within. Ants were already busily at work and hastily snatching up a blanket I threw it over him."
No sooner has he done so than the narrator, Walley, is set upon by a monstrous black arachnid. He destroys it, but not before being bitten. Fortunately there's a blazing plank of wood hanging around, so he applies that to his chest, and ...
Geoffrey Wyndham - Lewis - The Silent Inn: The dangers of dabbling too deeply into the mysteries of the occult. Author John Davidson's mind gives out as he toils over the final chapter of his History Of Witchcraft. Davidson spends the night at a remote country inn, falls under the spell of a beautiful female vampire and witnesses a Sabbat.
Arthur Stafford Aylmer - The Thing From The Pit: A policeman investigates a derelict mansion on New Years Eve and finds himself plunged into a life-or-death struggle with a winged man in the cellar. "Surely this could never have been originated in Heaven. It must have been some ghastly vision from the bottomless pit!"
The vampire (for that's what it is) sucks his blood before returning beneath the flagstones. The narrator's jet black hair takes a turn for the worse.
Henry L. Lawrence - A Journey By Train: Passenger shares a carriage with a man who insists he is dead. It transpires that this fellow slit the throat of the woman he loved when she married his friend. Then he drowned himself.
Vera A. Gadd - Hillmount: Roger Mainwaring, a journalist endeavors to spend three nights in a haunted manor house despite the fact that it has claimed the lives of fifteen men, all of whom died of terror. His predecessor, Sinclair, boasted that he was frightened of nothing bar leprosy, and it would be too much of a coincidence for the apparition to be the ghost of a leper. Mainwaring himself has a phobia about fire ...
Tilly Scard - Lone Cottage: Tressington. Lind and Myra, just married, come upon the cottage just outside Little Wiickton and the pretty young bride pleads with her husband to take a room there. At first the old crone who eventually opens the door shoos them away, but then relents, having considered the financial implications and gives them the upstairs bedroom. Unbeknown to the happy couple, the old girl's husband has just died and she's locked him in the cupboard to keep him out of harms way. Unfortunately, he falls out and into the arms of Myra - who, as a result, has now spent several years in a padded cell at the County asylum.
Crystabel Earle - The Snake: India. Murray is driven to suicide by Barham and his boy, Hassan, who convince him that his wife, Eve, has transmigrated after death into the body of a Cobra.
W. A. C. Chadwick - Many Cats And One Tale: Ethel Golthrop, reputed witch, is convinced that her deceased friend, John, has been reincarnated as a cat. She works at her potions and is at last successful in transforming herself into a big black puss. Dr. Mattby, besotted by her in human life, foils her feline fiancé and carries her home with him.
What part of 'horror story' didn't Chadwick understand?
Ada Helen - The Figure At The Window: Victor Shield falls for Mrs. Johnston next door, but soon realises he's being used and that her 'husband', Sam Doyle, is actually a skilled cat burglar. Unfortunately, the tale he spun Victor about their house being haunted by a ghost with a grudge against the well-off is true. When the idol which guards the property is taken away by the police, the vengeful spectre hurls Mrs. Johnstone through the upstairs window.
Oswell Blakeston - Adventure Without Asking: David Smith accidentally gets into a first class compartment when he boards a train at Waterloo. He finds himself alone with "a small, obese creature with a face so flabby that it looked like the disintegrated face of a medium in a spiritualist photograph after he has been deserted by one ghost and before he is possessed by another."
This man is a doctor, hypnotist and mind reader, and he's also extremely bitter and twisted about both his unfortunate appearance and his wife's infidelity. Having caused David to faint at the station, he has him removed to his quarters where he can torment him with a scene from his worst nightmares. Weird and extremely horrible.
A. V. Avison - The Horror In The Pond: "A ghastly face looked up at me from the depths; a face swollen and bloated and far gone in putrefaction, but alive, nevertheless, eyes starting from their sockets and glowing red with suffused fires; the very fires of Hell. The tongue hung black and swollen from the sagging mouth, white as chalk was the forehead, and stamped indelibly on the monstrous features the very quintessence of evil."
Maxwell village in the heart of the Essex countryside. The narrator, Phil, returns after having spent several years away to spend the winter with Aunt Millicent and Uncle Dick and learns that things have been far from idyllic in his absence. Several sheep have been attacked and drained of blood by a vampire - the phantom of a man who drowned himself in the pond when he was caught killing fowl and drinking their blood. Despite being nailed into his coffin, his body disappears before burial and he begins to terrorise the neighbourhood. Only the intervention of the farmhand, Erich - "he's a German, but he is a very nice man" - prevents Phil from becoming his victim.
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.