You may or may not believe in the old gentleman known variously as Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, Satan, or simply the devil -- but it is impossible to deny the existence of evil in the world. And all those arguments about whether evil originates in the fires of Hades or in the smoldering heart of humankind don’t change the fact that evil has always been with us – and, most likely, always will be.
The stories you are about to read are about evil, in one form or another. Several of them give evil a supernatural origin, but others place it squarely in the lap of ordinary (or maybe not so ordinary) human beings. Some of the people you are about to meet will overcome the evil that confronts them, while others won’t be quite so fortunate. Either way, all of them are going to be changed by the encounter.
These stories are best read late at night, preferably while you’re alone in the house. I recommend leaving only a single light on. Try to use a reading lamp that illuminates the page while throwing the rest of the room into shadows – shadows where anything might be hiding.
Later, as you lie in the iron dark, waiting for sleep, perhaps you’ll start to wonder if there really is a Devil, and if this is the night he might choose to come – for you.
I wish you pleasant dreams.
Well, no – not really.
Justin Gustainis has been an Army officer, speechwriter and professional bodyguard. He is currently a college professor living in upstate New York. He is the author of The Hades Project, Black Magic Woman, Evil Ways, Hard Spell and Sympathy for the Devil. He has also published a number of short stories, two of which won the Graverson Award for Horror in consecutive years. He is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop.
In this second collection from Gemma Files—featuring the award-winning “The Emperor’s Old Bones” (winner of the 1999 International Horror Guild Award for Best Short Fiction), and five never-before-published stories—we tour the overlooked intersections between wilderness and civilization where secret dances of fear and pain are performed and hunters and hunted change roles.
Here, fury and hate grow so strong, they cannot be held within one man’s body, and manifest themselves to devastating effect. Cities contain second, unseen cities populated by the vengeful ghosts of those who died too soon. Countries fall to famine and war. But these are also the tales of love lasting beyond death, love existing beyond all hope, and friendships never forgotten. Within are the widely praised stories “Winter Requiem,” “The Siege,” and the controversial “Burden,” as well as two original novellas, including the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated “Displacement.”
Marano, acclaimed for his evocative voice, paints lush portraits both terrifying and tender, injecting even the darkest of fantasies with a punk rock sensibility and a touch of the humane. With Stories from the Plague Years, he presents snapshots of a time when our world collided with evil, sickness, and self-destruction, and left behind lasting scars on those who dared to survive.
Twenty-one short stories by Brett Alexander Savory, featuring three tales original to this collection.
Praise for No Further Messages
"Savory deserves to make a great impression on both our highly mutable genre and the reading public." —Peter Straub
"A stylish and intelligent writer. File under Original and Startling." —Ramsey Campbell
"If you gave me 10 words to describe Brett Savory's writing style, I'd only need 5: Like A House On Fire." —Craig Davidson
The payment can't be settled with money or favors. He only wants one thing. Me.
Every action gets a reward. A button. Once I fill his jar with three hundred and sixty-five buttons, he'll let me go. He'll let me walk away.
But I have to earn every single one. By submitting to the darkest, cruelest, and most beautiful man I've ever known.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** There are some dark and disturbing scenes of abuse and punishment.