20th Century Ghosts

Although the ending was more John Carpenter than John Updike, Carroll hadn't come across anything like it in any of the horror magazines, either, not lately. It was, for twenty-five pages, the almost completely naturalistic story of a woman being destroyed a little at a time by the steady wear of survivor's guilt. It concerned itself with tortured family relationships, shitty jobs, the struggle for money. Carroll had forgotten what it was like to come across the bread of everyday life in a short story. Most horror fiction didn't bother with anything except rare bleeding meat. ("Best New Horror")

At first my father didn't like Art, but after he got to know him better he really hated him.

Carroll was eleven years old when he saw The Haunting in The Oregon Theater. He had gone with his cousins, but when the lights went down, his companions were swallowed by the dark and Carroll found himself essentially alone, shut tight into his own suffocating cabinet of shadows. At times, it required all his will not to hide his eyes, yet his insides churned with a nervous-sick frisson of pleasure. When the lights finally came up, his nerve endings were ringing, as if he had for a moment grabbed a copper wire with live current in it. It was a sensation for which he had developed a compulsion.

Later, when he was a professional and it was his business, his feelings were more muted - not gone, but experienced distantly, more like the memory of an emotion than the thing itself. More recently, even the memory had fled, and in its place was a deadening amnesia, a numb disinterest when he looked at the piles of magazines on his coffee table. Or no - he was overcome with dread, but the wrong kind of dread.

("Best New Horror")

Eddie Carroll had just come in from outside, and read Noonan's letter standing in the mudroom. He flipped to the beginning of the story. He stood reading for almost five minutes before noticing he was uncomfortably warm. He tossed his jacket at a hook and wandered into the kitchen.

He sat for a while on the stairs to the second floor, turning through the pages. Then he was stretched on the couch in his office, head on a pile of books, reading in a slant of late October light, with no memory of how he had got there.

He rushed through to the ending, then sat up, in the grip of a strange, bounding exuberance. He thought it was possibly the rudest, most awful thing he had ever read, and in his case that was saying something. He had waded through the rude and awful for most of his professional life, and in those fly-blown and diseased literary swamps had discovered flowers of unspeakable beauty, of which he was sure this was one. It was cruel and perverse and he had to have it. He turned to the beginning and started reading again.

("Best New Horror")

every fictional world was a work of fantasy, and whenever writers introduce a threat or a conflict into their story, they create the possibility of horror. He had been drawn to horror fiction, he said, because it took the most basic elements of literature and pushed them to their extremes. All fiction was make-believe, which made fantasy more valid (and honest) than realism. He

He didn't finish most of the stories he started anymore, couldn't bear to. He felt weak at the thought of reading another story about vampires having sex with other vampires. He tried to struggle through Lovecraft pastiches, but at the first painfully serious reference to the Elder Gods, he felt some important part of him going numb inside, the way a foot or a hand will go to sleep when the circulation is cut off. He feared the part of him being numbed was his soul.

He got up and ran on, pitching himself down the hill, flying through the branches of the firs, leaping roots and rocks without seeing them. As he went, the hill got steeper and steeper, until it was really like falling. He was going too fast and he knew when he came to a stop, it would involve crashing into something, and shattering pain.

Only as he went on, picking up speed all the time, until with each leap he seemed to sail through yards of darkness, he felt a giddy surge of emotion, a sensation that might have been panic but felt strangely like exhilaration. He felt as if at any moment his feet might leave the ground and never come back down. He knew this forest, this darkness, this night. He knew his chances: not good. He knew what was after him. It had been after him all his life. He knew where he was - in a story about to unfold an ending. He knew better than anyone how these stories went, and if anyone could find their way out of these woods, it was him.

("Best New Horror")

he sees a place where he will passively fade away, like wallpaper that gets too much sunlight and slowly loses its color. This

... he thought how the young are pierced by love, innocent bodies torn and ruined for no reason, save that it suited someone who held them dear.

I didn't know the inner me was hungry," I said to Art.
"That's because it already starved to death.

I hope if there is another world, we will not be judged too harshly for the things we did wrong here—that we will at least be forgiven for the mistakes we made out of love.

I'm sorry to bother you," she whispered. "When I get excited about a movie I want to talk. I can't help it.

In a friendship, especially in a friendship between two young boys, you are allowed to inflict a certain amount of pain. This is even expected. But you must cause no serious injury; you must never, under any circumstances, leave wounds that will result in permanent scars.

It is my belief that, as a rule, creatures of Happy’s ilk—I am thinking here of canines and men both—more often run free than live caged, and it is in fact a world of mud and feces they desire, a world with no Art in it, or anyone like him, a place where there is no talk of books or God or the worlds beyond this world, a place where the only communication is the hysterical barking of starving and hate-filled dogs.

Max raised the mallet. He stared into her face and wished he could say he was sorry, that he didn't want to do it. When he slammed the mallet down, with an echoing bang, he heard a high, piercing scream and almost screamed himself, believing for an instant it was her, still somehow alive; then realized it was Rudy. Max was powerfully built, with his, deep water-buffalo chest and Dutch farmer's shoulders. With the first blow he had driven the stake over two-thirds of the way in. He only needed to bring the mallet down once more. The blood that squelched up around the wood was cold and had a sticky, viscous consistency.

Max swayed, his head light. His father took his arm.

'Goot,' Abraham whispered into his ear, his arms around him, squeezing him so tightly his ribs creaked. Max felt a little thrill of pleasure - an automatic reaction to the intense, unmistakable affection of his father's embrace - and was sickened by it. 'To do offense to the house of the human spirit, even after its tenant depart, is no easy thing, I know.'

("Abraham's Boys")

No. I don't think so. It isn't about whether I die. It's about figuring out where. And I've decided. I'm going to see how high I can go. I want to see if it's true. If the sky opens up at the top.

People just have to keep on going, because you never know when something wonderful is going to happen.

Sometimes it seemed to him he was allergic to expressing himself. Often, when he desperately wanted to say a thing, he could actually feel his windpipe closing up on him, cutting off his air.

Taking a thing apart is always faster than putting something together. This is true of everything except marriage.

That uncomfortable buzzing in your head is the hum of thought. I know the sensation must be quite unfamiliar.

The best time to see her is when the place is almost full.

The memory of that day in the dump made him a little sentimental for his father - they had had some good times together, and Buddy had made a decent meal in the end. Really, what else could you ask from a parent?

they had had some good times together, and Buddy had made a decent meal in the end. Really, what else could you ask from a parent? He

This is the way people dream of being kissed, a movie star kiss

When I get excited about a movie I need to talk.

Who knows what may lie around the next corner? There may be a window somewhere ahead. It may look out on a field of sunflowers.

You get an astronaut's life whether you want it or not. Leave it all behind for a world you know nothing about. That's just the deal.

You know someone for a while and then one day a hole opens underneath them, and they fall out of your world.