The October Country
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Haunting, harrowing, and downright horrifying, this classic collection from the modern master of the fantastic features:
THE SMALL ASSASSIN: a fine, healthy baby boy was the new mother's dream come true -- or her nightmare . . .
THE EMISSARY: the faithful dog was the sick boy's only connectioin with the world outside -- and beyond . . .
THE WONDERFUL DEATH OF DUDLEY STONE: a most remarkable case of murder -- the deceased was delighted!
smiled back at him behind his fleshy grimace of hatred and despair. Fuming, he popped malt tablets into his mouth. This was one way of gaining weight when you couldn’t keep other foods down. Clarisse noticed the malt pellets. “But, darling, really, you don’t have to regain the weight for me,” she said. Oh, shut up! he felt like saying. She made him lie with his head in her lap. “Darling,” she said, “I’ve watched you lately. You’re so—badly off. You don’t say anything, but you look—hunted. You
dunno.” “Ever seen an accident—at night?” The cabbie nodded. “Sure. Don’t make no difference. There’s always a crowd.” The wreck came in view. A body lay on the pavement. You knew there was a body even if you couldn’t see it. Because of the crowd. The crowd with its back toward him as he sat in the rear of the cab. With its back toward him. He opened the window and almost started to yell. But he didn’t have the nerve. If he yelled they might turn around. And he was afraid to see their faces.
“Why are you late, Edwin?” “I don’t know.” “I’ll ask you again. Edwin why are you late?” “One—one of the forbidden doors was open. . . .” He heard the hiss of Teacher’s breath. He saw her slowly slide back and sink into the large hand-carved chair, swallowed by darkness, her glasses flashing light before they vanished. He felt her looking out at him from shadow and her voice was numbed and so like a voice he heard at night, his own voice crying just before he woke from some nightmare. “Which
mourning in the high trees, passing away; going back out to the sea, to the Celebes, to the Ivory Coast, to Sumatra and Cape Horn, to Cornwall and the Philippines. Fading, fading, fading. Thompson stood there, cold. He went in and closed the door and leaned against it, and didn’t move, eyes closed. “What’s wrong . . . ?” asked his wife. THE MAN UPSTAIRS He remembered how carefully and expertly Grandmother would fondle the cold cut guts of the chicken and withdraw the marvels therein;
over the neck vein. The candle flames swayed drunkenly. The wind climbed around on the roof outside. The relatives stared from all the doors. He popped toadstools into his mouth, swallowed, then beat his arms against his flanks and circled. “Look, Uncle Einar! I can fly, at last!” Beat went his hands. Up and down pumped his feet. The faces flashed past him. At the top of the stairs flapping, he heard his mother cry, “Stop, Timothy!” far below. “Hey!” shouted Timothy, and leaped off the top of