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THE YEAR’S BEST HORROR STORIES: XXI

Edited by Karl Edward Wagner

To C. Bruce Hunter

World’s foremost seeker of the perfect barbecue

WALK DOWN FEAR’S DARK ALLEY—WHERE EVERY GLIMPSE INTO SHADOW REVEALS TERROR’S GHASTLY FACE…

A “bad girl” is taught a lesson no one else in her life will ever forget…

A sketch artist takes from his model more than just her likeness…

A Vietnam vet survives only to return to a hell worse than any he has ever known…

A young woman escapes her abusive past by using some very unorthodox methods…

Welcome to the world where nightmares never end. The only passport you’ll need is…

THE YEAR’S BEST HORROR: XXI

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The Limits of Fantasy by Ramsey Campbell. Copyright © 1992 by Ramsey Campbell for Gauntlet 3. Reprinted by permission of the author.

China Rose by Ron Weighell. Copyright © 1992 by Ron Weighell for Vampire Stories. Reprinted by permission of the author.

The Outsider by Rick Kennett. Copyright © 1992 by Rosemary Pardoe for Ghosts & Scholars 14. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Briar Rose by Kim Antieau. Copyright © 1992 by Kim Antieau for Metahorror. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Mom School by Rand Soellner. Copyright © 1992 by Rand Soellner for Gathering Darkness, November 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

The Hyacinth Girl by Mary Ann Mitchell. Copyright © 1992 by Pine Grove Press for Just a Moment, Summer 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Mind Games by Adam Meyer. Copyright © 1992 by Doppelganger for Doppelganger, February 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Mama’s Boy by C.S. Fuqua. Copyright © 1992 by Richard T. Chizmar for Cemetery Dance Magazine, Spring 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

The Shabbie People by Jeffrey Osier. Copyright © 1992 by Jeffrey Osier for Souls in Pawn. Reprinted by permission of the author.

The Ugly File by Ed Gorman. Copyright © 1992 by Ed Gorman for Prisoners and Other Stories. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Eyes Like a Ghost’s by Simon Clark. Copyright © 1992 by Simon Clark for Darklands 2. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Fallen Idol by Lillian Csernica. Copyright © 1992 by William G. Raley for After Hours, Winter 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

And Some Are Missing by Joel Lane. Copyright © 1992 by Joel Lane for The Sun Rises Red. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Welsh Pepper by D.F. Lewis. Copyright © 1992 by D.F. Lewis for Vandeloecht’s Fiction Magazine, Spring 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Tracks by Nicholas Royle. Copyright © 1991 by Nicholas Royle for Interzone, January 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Largesse by Mark McLaughlin. Copyright © 1992 by Mark McLaughlin for The Bone Marrow Review #3. Reprinted by permission of the author.

City in the Torrid Waste by t. Winter-Damon. Copyright © 1992 by t. Winter- Damon for Bizarre Sex & Other Crimes of Passion. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Haunting Me Softly by H. Andrew Lynch. Copyright © 1992 by Hell’s Kitchen Productions, Inc. for Grue, Summer 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Spring Ahead, Fall Back by Michael A. Arnzen. Copyright © 1992 by Merrimack Books for Palace Corbie, Autumn 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Apotheosis by Carrie Richerson. Copyright © 1992 by Carrie Richerson for Souls in Pawn. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Defining the Commonplace Sliver by Wayne Allen Sallee. Copyright © 1992 by Wayne Allen Sallee for Expressions of Dread #2. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Feeding the Masses by Yvonne Navarro. Copyright © 1992 by Yith Press for Eldritch Tales No. 27. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Sanctuary by Jeffrey Osier. Copyright © 1991 by Buzz City Press for The Silver Web, Spring/Summer 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

The Devil’s Advocate by Andrew C. Ferguson. Copyright © 1991 by Dementia 13 for Dementia 13 #7. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Week Woman by Kim Newman. Copyright © 1992 by Kim Newman for Dark Voices 4. Reprinted by permission of the author.

A Father’s Gift by W.M. Shockley. Copyright © 1992 by Davis Publications, Inc. for Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1992. Reprinted by permission of the author.

INTRODUCTION: COMING OF AGE

Watch out! The Year’s Best Horror Stories has turned 21.

As they say, we have come of age. The series now embarks upon its third decade of collecting the very best of horrors, selected from the many hundreds of nasty creepy depraved terrifying unsettling grim horrifying strange gruesome weird mind-blowing tales published during the past year.

And, if this past year is any indication, we’re all in for a wild ride by the time The Year’s Best Horror Stories turns 30. The past two decades have witnessed powerful changes within the horror genre. If you’re lucky enough to have them, delve through a file of all twenty-one volumes, and you can follow the rise of such then relatively unknown writers as Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Lumley, Dennis Etchison, Charles L. Grant, David Drake, and many others. You can also follow the perseverance of an older generation of horror writers (sadly, some of them no longer with us): Manly Wade Wellman, Hugh B. Cave, R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Robert Bloch, to name a few. In recent volumes, you can watch the emergence of a new field of horror writers: Wayne Allen Sallee, Joel Lane, D.F. Lewis, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Kim Antieau, Joe R. Lansdale, and many more. You read and decide which of the new talents will become the Grand Masters of the next century.

Other aspects of change are readily apparent—stylistic as well as thematic. When The Year’s

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