J. N. Williamson (ed.) - Masques (Futura, 1988: originally Maclay & Associates, 1984)
Introduction and Acknowledgments - J. N. Williamson
Robert R. McCammon - Nightcrawlers Dennis Etchison - Somebody Like You Ardath Mayhar - Samhain: Full Moon Verse Ardath Mayhar - I Have Made My Bones Secure Verse Richard Christian Matheson - Third Wind Gene Wolfe - Redbeard David B. Silva - The Turn of Time F. Paul Wilson - Soft J. N. Williamson - House Mothers Mort Castle - Party Time Robert Bloch - Everybody Needs a Little Love Jessica Amanda Salmonson - Angel’s Exchange Joe R. Lansdale - Down By The Sea Near The Great Big Rock David Knoles - The First Day Of Spring Ray Russell - Czadek Charles L. Grant - The Old Men Know Gahan Wilson - The Substitute Dennis Hamilton - The Alteration William F. Nolan - Trust Not A Man Ray Bradbury - Long After Ecclesiastes Verse Charles Beaumont - My Grandmother’s Japonicas
Ray Russell - A Short, Incandescent Life Tribute to Charles Beaumont William F. Nolan - Charles Beaumont: The Magic Man Tribute to Charles Beaumont J. N. Williamson - Richard Matheson: Master Of Imagination Interview
Robert R. McCammon - Nightcrawlers: Good ol' boy Big Bob Clayton runs a Gas Station-cum-Diner in a remote spot twenty miles north of Mobile. Friendly little place provided you ain't a commie agitator and the good people have even come to accept the hippie waitress, Cheryl Lovesong, even if she does smoke funny fags, prattle on about Woodstock and came to work with glitter on her cheeks that time.
Not so much happens around the area as a rule but tonight is different. A wild storm is kicking up, Bob's seriously considering shutting early and there's even an item of morbid interest in the local newspaper for a change. Some nights previous, six people were slaughtered in a Daytona Beach motel and the police are still clueless as to who perpetrated the dreadful crime. "Probably some crazy hippie who'd been smokin' his own tennis shoe" opines Trooper Wells of the Alabama State Police, a brash young flag-saluter who likes telling stuff like it is.
The scrawny, half dead form of Price blows into the diner. When Wells realises he's a Viet-Vet, he blurts his considered verdict on the War and how he was so rooting for you boys, but Price cuts him down. He was the only survivor of the Nightcrawlers special detail, left all his friends dead in the rice fields and doesn't much feel like hearing about how great it all was from a fellow who wasn't there. The atmosphere between the pair grows ... strained. Price tries to apologise, explaining that he's been severely stressed. In 'Nam he'd been subjected to an evil chemical spray and recently the side-effects have been affecting him awful. He only has to think about something hard enough to bring it into being (he demonstrates by imagining a T-bone steak frying on the grill), and he thinks about his dead buddies all the time, so much so that he daren't go to sleep.
Like he did at that Daytona Inn ...
Wells, still sore at this dishevelled bum's lack of respect for the law and furious at having been so publicly shown up, tries to prevent him from driving in these conditions, 'specially as he's just watched him gobble down some pills, but Price just fixes him a look and the pistol turns to gunk in his hand. Not to be deterred, Wells lobs a ketchup bottle which scores a direct hit on the back of Price's skull and knocks him unconscious.
A helicopter hovers over the diner. Gunshots, getting nearer. The Nightcrawlers have come to claim their own ....
David Knoles - The First Day of Spring: Barry goes hunting with his Dad as some kind of coming of age treat. Unfortunately the water he laps from a pool is contaminated by the spawn of a reptilian creature which aborted in fright on seeing the armed men approach. The fetus grows undetected, eating away Barry's innards until, on his wedding night, it bursts loose in all its gory glory - just as the lovely Gail is performing a matrimonial striptease.
Robert Bloch - Everybody Needs a Little Love: One of his finest Psycho variations. The narrator meets Curtis in a bar. Both recently divorced, both taking overmuch advantage of the Happy Hour two-drinks-for-one offer, both cultivating a dependency. Talk gets around to the perfect woman and before the night's out Curtis has filched a mannequin from the department store. He names her Estelle after his wife. Over the coming weeks he acquires a wardrobe for her, even splashes out on a flash car. Because Curtis knows Estelle isn't really a shop dummy - he gets very angry if anybody insinuates that she is. Unfortunately, neither is she as "perfect" as he first thought. For one thing she's high maintenance and he's soon ripping off the firm to keep her sweet. Now, with the sheriff on his case, Curtis makes a break for it with Estelle in tow - or is it the other way around?
Mort Castle - Party Time : Mama has to keep him chained in the cellar because nobody wants a repeat of that last unfortunate episode. But every once in a while, when he's been good, she allows him a treat: the "happy food". Tonight is such an occasion.
As well as having the ultimate to die for name, Castle's a dab hand at nasty, snappy tales if this is anything to go by.
Joe R. Lansdale - Down by the Sea Near the Great Big Rock: Toni, Murray and the kids Roy and Robyn are camping at the beach when the meteor falls from the sky and lands in the sea. The previously happy family each develop murderous instincts.
Richard Christian Matheson - Third Wind: Jogging horror! Success-fixated attorney Michael's Nike's pound the tarmac on his daily twenty mile run. The idea, he knows, in life as in running is to never give up, never slow down - that's what sorts the winners from the losers. Besides, practice enough and its like your legs don't know how to stop.
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.