The short stories here range from the plain gruesome to the psychologically sinister, black comedy to gritty drama, the playfully spooky to the downright disturbing. The winning stories were picked for their style, their technique, their originality, or their ability to invoke something ‘dark’ within the reader: fear, despair, doubt, regret, loneliness, pain. These aren’t just stories that will have you wondering what’s lurking under your bed or hiding in your closet; they’ll have you looking into your own life, peering into your past, glancing at your own personal ghosts. When you start delving into the darker times, it’s hard to get back to the light.
“No sooner do they reach the entrance to the church when a blast of wind, violent and from nowhere, blows out the candles. The procession stops suddenly, each of the hunch-framed bodies consumed by an ice-cold chill. One of them screams and points into the near distance. Ahead, through the swirling mist, they make out a dark shape. It is moving towards them. As it approaches, the apparition grows; and from its black mass stems a gnarled, grey hand, the outstretched fingers of which drum out an invisible beat. Worse still, deep within its shapeless body comes a cold whisper; a voice that calls each of their names in turn: Henry Edwards, Matthew Bradeley, John Thynne, Martha Thynne… the unseen tongue continuing until all twelve names have been spoken.”