Monday, February 6, 2012
Desert Island Horror Stories
by Ramsey Campbell
Let's be honest here: I could have picked any one of Ramsey Campbell's short stories for this list. He's that good. He's the best. Pretenders may come and go, but Campbell remains, striding across the genre like some mighty Colossus.
I chose Again for the simple reason that after all these years, it still makes me shudder. There's a nervy, queasy atmosphere to the tale that you just can't wash off, no matter how hard you try. I'd read Campbell's work before I came to this particular story, but this was the one where I knew he was my author - the exact moment when he stamped his mark upon me and I became an acolyte.
A young hiker spends a day on the Wirral Way, and on his travels he finds a house in which an old woman seems to be trapped. He tries to get inside to help her, and once he does...well, let's just say that's when the really fucking weird stuff starts.
This is Campbell stripped back, his prose laid bare. There are very few of his usual stylistic flourishes on display, and what we get instead is a story with the most hideous, greasy, horrific atmosphere you could ever imagine. And the ending...oh, that ending. It haunts me still; I often find myself thinking about it, and a strange, clutching nausea settles in my gut. I never want to read this story again, but I always do. Again. And again. And again.
(See the whole list here: Desert Island Horror Stories)