Halloween Extravaganza: David A. Riley: STORY: Their Cramped Dark World

Their Cramped Dark World

It was obvious that something was wrong the moment they entered the empty house.

For a start off, it felt far from empty.

There were sounds everywhere.

“If those’re rats, I’m out of here,” Lenny muttered, his enthusiasm dampened suddenly by the scutterings that seemed to cascade all around them as they walked across the bare floorboards in their trainers. Lenny, the younger of the two boys by barely a month, was tall and gangly, with a livid rash of acne across both cheeks. His dark eyes glanced suspiciously about the ballroom-sized entrance hall as they paused inside it, listening.

Pete grinned. It was a broad, unmistakably roguish grin that somehow made him look older than his fifteen years, as if he’d been born before and could still remember far too much of a disreputably colourful past life.

“Rats are the last things you should be worried about here, Lenny.” He made a long, haunting moan that echoed eerily through the house.

“Bollocks,” Lenny retorted, anger mixed with the stirrings of doubt he had begun to feel as soon as they approached the old, abandoned house. Making plans was one thing. Carrying them out was something else, especially after dusk had darkened the two acres of woodland around the house into a motion-filled blackness of half-seen, menacing shapes. “We should have set out earlier,” he grumbled as he switched on his torch. “Besides, I bet none of the others turn up.”

“They’d better,” Pete said. “This lot cost me a fortune. Especially since I had to pay that old wino, Karl Ott, to buy them for me.” He lugged the rucksack he’d been carrying off his shoulders and lowered it to the floorboards. There was a clink of glass: two half bottles of vodka and a bottle of rum, with a mixture of cokes, Sprite and orangeade. On top was a box of candles in case the electricity in the house wasn’t working.

Lenny tried the light switch and the two boys were surprised when the electric chandelier above their heads came on, though half its bulbs were dead or missing.

“The rest of the gang should be here in another half hour,” Pete said. “I told them half five.”

In late October, though, it was dark not long after four. Now, with heavy clouds covering what little there was of the moon, it was all but black outside.

“It would have been better if we’d all come together,” Lenny grumbled.

“What, and miss out on getting into the party mood beforehand?” Pete brought out one of the bottles of vodka and a couple of glasses. “Coke or Sprite?”

Lenny grinned. “Coke.”

He accepted the brimming glass and sipped the dark, fizzy liquid inside it. “I can’t taste anything but coke,” he complained. “Did you pour in some vodka?”

“You saw me, dummy. Fifty-fifty. My dad says you can’t taste vodka anyway. Only what you mix with it.”

“Then what’s the point?”

“You’ll see the point when you’ve drunk it. When was the last time you got a buzz off cola?”

Dubious, Lenny drank some more. “I think I see what you mean,” he said a moment later.

“Here’s to Halloween,” Pete announced, raising his glass.

“Shouldn’t we wait for the others?”

“What for? We can have another toast then. There’s no law to say you can only toast something once. Come on, hurry up. We’ve time for a few more drinks before they get here.”

Draining his glass, Lenny handed it back to Pete for a refill. Somehow the creaks and scratchings inside the walls and in the ceiling didn’t quite seem so menacing anymore. He felt a mild glow start to grow inside him.

“It’s not hard to believe what happened here, is it?” Lenny said a few minutes and a third glass of vodka and coke later. The warm glow had now spread throughout most of his diaphragm.

“Did you ever doubt it?”

“Naw. But sometimes you wonder whether your parents enjoy embroidering it all a bit just to get you frightened. It’s kind of sick, isn’t it? A whole family slaughtered, one by one.”

“It was worse than that, Lenny.” The two boys were sat on the floor in the hallway, the surrounding doors into the other rooms still closed, sealed with festoons of dark grey cobwebs. Most of Pete’s face was in shadow as he leaned forward over his glass of coke.

“What d’you mean, worse? What could be worse than that?”

“Worse, ‘cause they weren’t just slaughtered. They were sacrificed, Lenny, one by one. Whoever killed them, tied them up first so they couldn’t move, then taped their mouths so none of them could cry for help. Or hear their screams as he worked on them.”

“Worked on them?”

“They were tortured to death, Lenny. It took hours. All night long it went on. There was blood everywhere. That’s why there are no carpets. They were drenched in it. Ruined. Even the floors were awash. If you look hard enough they say you can still see some of the stains.”

Lenny squirmed uncomfortably on the wooden floor, as if he could feel the old dried blood beneath his buttocks on the dark floorboards.

“You’re joshing me, aren’t you?”

“Why should I do that? It’s all for real. You could check it yourself if you wanted to. It’s there in the papers. Every last word. Twenty-five years ago to this night. On Halloween. And no one has ever been arrested for it.”

Lenny reached for another drink from his glass.

“Whoever did it must be getting on now. If he was only in his twenties then, he’d fifty now. Sheesh!”

“Fifty’s not old,” Pete said.

“My grandparents are fifty – and they’re old.”

Pete laughed. “Bet they’d be pleased if you told them that.”

“But it’s true,” Lenny insisted. “It’s too old for a murderer. Isn’t it?”

“You’re a scream, Lenny. A real scream. Did you know that?”

Lenny grunted.

“Anyway, it’s a long time ago.”

“And this house is still empty.”

“Not always,” Lenny said. “I remember people living here.”

“Maybe, but none of them ever stayed for long. That’s what I mean. None of them,” Pete added with an air of significance.

“Are you telling me this place is haunted?”

“Don’t you think so? Isn’t that why we’re here?”

Lenny shivered; his hand reached out instinctively for the vodka and coke. “Where are the others? They should be here by now.”

“They’ll be here. There’s plenty of time yet.”

“But it’s nearly six.”

“And so?”

Lenny shrugged. “It’s nearly six. That’s all I said. I thought at least one of them would’ve been here by now.”

“Perhaps they’ve chickened out? Perhaps they know too much about what happened all those years ago and are frightened to come here tonight.”

Lenny stared at him. “You’re joking, aren’t you?”

“Maybe.” Pete grinned, that same roguish, all-knowing grin he always used.

Lenny drank some more vodka and coke. He felt a little light-headed now.

“What’ll we do if they don’t come?” he asked.

“We’ll have a party of our own.”

“That’d be fun,” Lenny said, sarcastically.

Pete merely grinned.

“You did tell them all, didn’t you?” Lenny asked a few minutes later. The noises within the walls were still rustling disconcertingly all about them and he was beginning to feel nervous again despite the effects of the vodka.

“Of course I did.”

Lenny peered at his Timex. “It’s ten past now. Why aren’t they here?”

“Perhaps they’ve chickened out, like I said. Perhaps there’s only you and me with the balls to come here.”

Lenny reached for his glass. He wished he felt as tough about being in this place as Pete. But the non-stop sounds of hidden movement made him think too vividly of nasty, vicious swarms of rats inside the walls, of scores, perhaps hundreds of the verminous creatures hidden behind the dark wallpaper and wafer-thin, damp-riddled plaster, only feet away from them. With sharp teeth and sharper claws.

“You feeling a bit jittery?” Pete asked.

“Naw…” Even to his own ears, though, Lenny’s reply sounded weak. Unsure.

Pete laughed, quietly.

His laughter was beginning to get on Lenny’s nerves. He wondered if Pete had really invited the rest of them here. But why would he have lied about this? It didn’t make sense.

Unless, Lenny wondered, Pete had some secret reason for wanting to be alone with him here tonight which Lenny would never have agreed to if he had known about it. Unless, Lenny thought, with a sudden shock of insight that left him feeling nauseated, Pete fancied him in some way.

Lenny looked at his friend. Was it possible that Pete was secretly queer?

He didn’t look that way. But could he be sure? He knew so little about that kind of thing, and what he did know was probably a load of nonsense. He was only too aware how talk about stuff like that got distorted, with all sorts of myths and rumours and misinformation. Perhaps Pete was gay. He’d a bloody strange grin, that was for sure. And he didn’t seem at all concerned that none of the others had turned up tonight– as if he had known all along there would only be the two of them here.

Lenny reached again for his vodka and coke, though he wasn’t sure if drinking any more of the stuff was a good idea.

“Are you worried?” Pete asked.

“About what?”

“About this place. About its history. About what went on here twenty-five years ago. What else did you think I meant?” Pete narrowed his eyes.

“Nothing,” Lenny said. “Just what you said. What happened here. The murders.”

“Bloody gruesome, eh?” Pete laughed. The sound echoed through the empty house and for the briefest of instants Lenny was sure the rustling ceased, as if whatever was making the sounds had heard him and paused – to listen.

“I think I’ve had enough of it here,” Lenny said suddenly. “If the rest aren’t coming, it’s going to be a bloody bore. We might as well go home and watch TV.”

“You chickening out too?”

“I’m here, aren’t I? I wasn’t scared to come here. I’d have stayed here too if there was any point. But two of us doesn’t make a party, whatever you say. And now it’s getting cold and there’s nowhere to sit except on the floor. And I don’t care much for those rats.”

“What rats?”

“Those fucking rats scuttering inside the walls, for God’s sake. Can’t you hear them too?”

Pete shrugged. “To be honest, Lenny, I’d forgotten about them. Got used to the sounds, I suppose. Just background noise. White noise, don’t they call it? Anyway, they’re harmless. Have you ever heard of anyone you know being attacked by rats? They’re only aggressive if they’re cornered. Everyone knows that. Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone. It’s as simple as that.”

“So you’re an expert on rats now?”

Pete frowned; his grin gone. “Have I upset you, Lenny? Have I said something to annoy you? To piss you off?”

“No.”

“Sounds to me like I have. Sounds to me like that’s why you want to leave. We’ve not even been here an hour yet. There’s still plenty of time for the others to arrive.”

“Bollocks. None of them are coming. They’d have been here by now if they were. At least one of them would have turned up.”

“You trying to imply something?”

Lenny shrugged. “Maybe.”

“Like what?”

“Just leave it. I’m fed up with this place. And that vodka’s making me feel sick.”

“Like what, I said, Lenny?”

“Fuck it.” Lenny got to his feet. “I’m off.”

“Like fuck you are.” Pete stood up too, his aggression obvious to Lenny. What good humour he’d had before had gone. There was a dangerous tautness about his face, which disconcerted Lenny. He had never seen anything like this about his friend before. It was almost as if he had found himself alone with a stranger.

“What’s up with you, Pete?”

“Up with me?” The teenager smiled. It was a tense smile, as unlike anything he would have normally given as a grimace. There was no humour in the expression. There was no humour in it at all.

Feeling suddenly afraid, Lenny abruptly made for the outside door, but Pete moved even more quickly, cutting him off, as if he had half expected him to do what he did.

“Not so fucking quick,” Pete snarled. He swung a fist at Lenny’s face. It was so unexpected that Lenny could barely react before he felt Pete’s knuckles crack like a heavy mallet against his jaw. The next thing he knew he was falling, dizzy with shock, nausea and a sudden sense of unreality, as the floorboards loomed against the side of his face. Almost at once Pete was astride him. The weight of his body forced Lenny down onto the hard floorboards, winding him. Still dazed, Lenny felt his hands being pulled in front of him. Something thin was tugged tight around his wrists, forcing them together. He struggled to sit up when he saw that a narrow strip of plastic, like the kind his father used for tying up plants in their yard, was being pulled around his wrists, then locked into place. He tried to push it apart, but the plastic tie was far too strong and cut his skin.

“Pete! What are you doing?”

His friend reached into one of the pockets of his jacket and pulled out a roll of gaffer tape. He tore off a six-inch strip of it, held it for a second above Lenny’s face, as if gauging his target, then tugged it tight across his mouth. Lenny tried to scream, but his lips couldn’t move beneath the vile-smelling tape.

“That’s better,” Pete said, finally. He eased himself up, then stepped back, grabbed a hold of Lenny’s feet and forced them together. Before Lenny could do anything to resist him, another, heavier plastic tie had been secured around his ankles. It was so tight it hurt as it bit into him.

“Had enough?” Pete asked.

Lenny tried to say something, but his lips were squashed beneath the unyielding tape gummed across them. The skin around them felt as if it would tear if he tried to force them open.

“Resistance is futile,” Pete said, grinning once more, his voice familiar to both of them as a Borg from Star Trek. The sudden humour sounded misplaced and false to Lenny as he uselessly struggled against the plastic ties around his wrists and ankles and realised just how painful it was to try to snap them.

“Do you think our unknown, unscrupulous friend, all those years ago, used plastic ties and gaffer tape to immobilise his victims?” Pete asked. “He might have had gaffer tape, I suppose. It could have been around then. I don’t know. I don’t suppose plastic ties were, though. Do you?”

Pete turned, retraced his steps to the pack he’d brought their drinks in and squatted down to search inside it till he found what he wanted, then slowly rose to his feet once more, a look of triumph on his face. Lenny squirmed on the floor to watch him, his heart thumping so loud in his ears it almost blotted out the rat-like scratchings inside the walls. Deep grunts of panic came from inside his throat when he saw the knife Pete held in his hands. He fondled it almost like he would a pet as he stared at Lenny over it. It gleamed like very expensive steel. And its edge looked sharp.

“Bet he’d have given his high teeth for something like this,” Pete said. “Cost an arm and a leg. Paid for it with my dad’s credit card on the internet. But he buys so much expensive crud using it he’ll never notice one more item he never bought himself.”

Pete pointed the knife at Lenny’s face, clearly enjoying the sight as his friend’s eyes opened wide in abject terror, staring back at it, unable to look away.

“You know, Lenny, I often think I’ve been here before. Somehow I’ve always felt like that. My mother told me that when my gran first saw me as a newborn baby, she said, “He’s been here before, this one. He’s been here before.” D’you know that, Lenny? Even my gran recognised this wasn’t my first life. It’s not my second, either. I’ve been here lots of times before. Lots and lots of times.” He took a step nearer. “And every time I’ve been here, I’ve had this task, this very important task to do, to ensure I’ll be able to come back again. I’ve done it so often over the years it comes to me in my dreams, time and time again, as clear as I can see you now, to make sure I can’t ignore it.” He hunkered down beside Lenny’s head. “But I’d never ignore it. That’s why there’s only you and me, why no one else was told about us coming to this place tonight. No one knows we’re here, Lenny. It’s a secret. A secret between you and me. And you’ll never tell, will you, Lenny?” Pete snickered. “That’s a bit of a no brainer, if ever there was one, I know, but I couldn’t resist it.” His hand flicked out and the point of the hunting knife sliced a line across Lenny’s forehead. Lenny would have screamed at the sudden, intense pain, as a trickle of blood pulsed out of the cut and dripped into one eye, but the gaffer tape kept his straining lips gummed together.

“Shush, shush,” Pete whispered. “I’ve not begun yet. There’s someone here you’ve yet to meet before the real thing starts.” He cocked his head to one side. “You’ve heard it, though. That scuttering.” Pete stood up. Behind him, from the wall, Lenny saw something move where the old wallpaper seemed to hang open now like a dislodged curtain. From beyond it, something large and grey, like a huge, misshapen rat moved out into the light of the room. There were others, smaller, huddled behind it. Their dark eyes, gleaming like soiled rubies, stared at Lenny.

“They like the blood,” Pete said as he crouched beside him again. “Especially Him. He’s old. So old you couldn’t imagine it. He was brought to this place so long ago, too, when I was in a different body, with a different name. So long ago even I can’t remember what name I had, there’ve been so many in between. But it doesn’t matter. What does is His power. That’s old as well. As old as the world. Perhaps older. When others like Him were plentiful. When they ruled. As one day, if Mankind has its suicidal way and we destroy what we have of this world, He’ll rule again.”

Lenny struggled to scream as he watched the creature move across the floorboards, as large as a pig, its ugly, scaly rat-like face etched with countless sores and wrinkles. Most of the thick grey hair had fallen away from its corpulent body, baring the glistening skin beneath. If he had not been gagged, he would have shouted at Pete that he was mad, that this ugly creature wasn’t what he seemed to think it was, but some insane monster that had fooled him. It wasn’t godlike. It wasn’t godlike at all. Just some pathetic old demon. How he sensed or knew this, he wasn’t sure. Instinct, perhaps. Some old race memory from a time when things like this had flourished. He didn’t know. All he knew with certainty was that Pete had been taken in by it. That it needed him to provide it with the worship it craved – it and its hideous, ugly children.

Though rat-like in shape, as it moved out into the light, Lenny realised the thing had no mouth as such, just tubular, fleshy tendrils. Each, though, ended in what looked like a mouth – mouths that opened and closed as it slowly, furtively moved towards him.

Again, Pete sliced at Lenny with his knife, cutting deep into one of his hands. Blood pulsed from the wound. And the rat-like creature moved in, its tendrils dipping into the blood as it spread across the floorboards. Lenny’s body tensed with horror and disgust as he heard the hideous slurping sounds from the tendrils as they sucked at the pool of blood. And the other, smaller, rat-like creatures scuttled forwards, drawn by it.

In sheer desperation Lenny struggled to free his lips from the gaffer tape, chewing at what snippets he could draw between his teeth. He fought against the pain as Pete sliced away his jacket and t-shirt so he could make further gashes in his body.

“Part of it is your pain,” Pete told him, as if this expiated him. “He needs to feel that – that and your fear. He feeds off them both.”

Several times during the next few hours Lenny blacked out, either from nausea or pain or both. Each time Pete waited till he was conscious again, then started once more, cut after cut, till the floor surrounding them was thick with blood. The other creatures had moved in on the pool as it spread across the room and had begun to feed from it.

Almost too weak from blood loss to feel much pain anymore, it was only then that Lenny was able to force his mouth open. The gaffer tape was sodden with spit and weakened where he had gnawed at it.

But by then he could barely talk, let alone scream for help, and Pete merely glanced at him as he carved more cuts in his chest.

“Pete…” Lenny’s voice was a ragged croak, barely intelligible. “Pete…”

“Too late to plead for your life, Lenny. Far too late for that, I’m afraid. He must feed. And so must they. I’m held to do it. I always have been. And always will.”

“Twenty five years ago,” Lenny whispered. “You did it twenty-five years ago.”

Pete glanced down at him, smiled, then moved the knife speculatively across his friend’s abdomen.

“You’re fifteen now. How long did your old self live after what he did here?”

Pete shrugged. “How long is a piece of string, Lenny?”

Midnight had come and gone, and still Pete worked, his face lost in the intensity of it. Lenny died not long afterwards. And as he died, so the blood flowed slowly, then stopped.

Pete looked around at the creatures. His creatures. His Gods.

The large one stared up at him from the blood it had been drinking.

“I’ve served you well,” Pete said. “Again.” He smiled, roguishly.

Something heavy moved across his foot. He looked down and saw one of the smaller creatures climb across it. Others milled around his ankles. And for a moment he felt uneasy. But it was always like this. They were thanking him for what he had done for them.

The large one, his God, stared up at him, though, its dark red eyes unwavering as it moved towards him. There was more to be done. Just what, he was unsure. But there was more, he was certain. He felt himself being pushed by the others; their bodies as big as well fed cats. Then he remembered. This was his moment of rebirth – the moment he would enter the darkness of the void. The moment he would leave this shallow husk till the time was right to return. Ten years he had hung in the void before till he entered this body. His time to let go of this body was now.

Was now.

Pete screamed as his God lunged at him. It claws dug deep into his chest, as it dragged him back towards the gap within the wall. The others scrabbled about his feet, biting and nipping and scratching him.

“No!” Pete screamed as he remembered it all, all those times in the past. He had to go with them now, into their cramped dark world. But he didn’t want to go into that void again where they would feed off his flesh and blood, revived and hungry.

His final act of sacrifice.

“Till next time,” he heard himself scream in despair.

As his eyes stared in horror at the grim darkness between the walls where they were dragging him.

Where he would feed and sustain them and make them fat for years to come.

David A. Riley writes horror, fantasy and SF stories. In 1995, along with his wife, Linden, he edited and published a fantasy/SF magazine, Beyond. His first professionally published story was in The 11th Pan Book of Horror in 1970. This was reprinted in 2012 in The Century’s Best Horror Fiction edited by John Pelan for Cemetery Dance. He has had numerous stories published by Doubleday, DAW, Corgi, Sphere, Roc, Playboy Paperbacks, Robinsons, etc., and in magazines such as Aboriginal Science Fiction, Dark Discoveries, Fear, Fantasy Tales. His first collection of stories (4 long stories and a novelette) was published by Hazardous Press in 2012, His Own Mad Demons. A Lovecraftian novel, The Return, was published by Blood Bound Books in the States in 2013. A second collection of his stories, all of which were professionally published prior to 2000, The Lurkers in the Abyss & Other Tales of Terror, was launched at the World Fantasy Convention in 2013. His fantasy novel, Goblin Mire, was published by Parallel Universe Publications in 2015. Their Cramped Dark World is his third collection of short stories. With his wife, Linden, he runs a small press called Parallel Universe Publications, which has so far published ten books. His stories have been translated into Italian, German, Spanish and Russian.

The Return

It was never going to be easy to return for one last look at the streets where he spent his childhood years. Even knowing this, Gary still felt he had to make the effort, just this once, to see if they were really as bad as he remembered. In a few months demolition was due to start on Grudge End… When Gary Morgan travels north to lie low after a gangland shooting in London, a childhood friend is violently maimed within hours of his arrival. Decades after escaping the blight of his hometown, he finds himself ensnared in a place he hates more than any other.Feuding families, bloodthirsty syndicates, and hostile forces older than mankind all play a role in the escalating chaos surrounding Gary Morgan. Now he must unravel the mysteries of Grudge End and his own past or meet his doom in the grip of an ancient, unimaginable evil.

Moloch’s Children

Elm Tree House had a sinister history but few realised the true demonic power that lurked within its forbidding depths till it was taken over by a cult determined to make use of its horrendous secret.

Goblin Mire

Many years have passed since Elves defeated and killed the last Goblin king. Now the Goblins are growing stronger in their mire, and Mickle Gorestab, one of the few remaining veterans of that war, is determined they will fight once more, this time aided by a renegade Elf who has delved into forbidden sorcery and hates his kind even more than his Goblin allies. Murder, treachery and the darkest of all magics follow in a maelstrom of blood, violence and unexpected alliances. Facing up to the cold cruelty of the Elves, Mickle Gorestab stands out as the epitome of grim, barbaric heroism, determined to see the wrongs of his race avenged and a restoration of the Goblin King.

Into the Dark

There’s a serial killer at loose in London. Janice, who has a chronic fear of the dark, stumbles into a relationship with the man who may secretly be the murderer. Neither know that in the North of England, in a place previously owned by his dead mother, activities are taking place that may unleash a horror that could spell the end of civilisation in Britain – an ancient evil that would make the activities of any serial killer look like child’s play by comparison. Could a psychotic killer be the only man capable of ending this? Andrew Jennings is also known as David A. Riley.

The Lurkers in the Abyss & Other Tales of Terror

David A. Riley began writing horror stories while still at school and had his first professional sale to Pan Books in 1969, which was The Lurkers in the Abyss, published in The Eleventh Pan Book of Horror Stories. This story was chosen for inclusion in The Century’s Best Horror Fiction in 2012. Over the years he has had numerous stories published in Britain and the United States plus translations into German, Spanish, Italian and Russian. His fiction has appeared in World of Horror, Fear, Whispers, Fantasy Tales, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Dark Discoveries and Lovecraft e-Zine. His first collection, His Own Mad Demons was published by Hazardous Press in 2012. The Return, a Lovecraftian horror novel was published by Blood Bound Books in 2013. This second collection brings together under one cover seventeen of the author’s best blood-curdling stories.

Their Cramped Dark World & Other Tales

Their Cramped Dark World and Other Tales is David A. Riley’s third collection of short fiction, spanning 40 years of publication, from appearances in New Writings in Horror & the Supernatural #1 in 1971, to the Ninth Black Book of Horror in 2012.He has had numerous stories published by Doubleday, DAW, Corgi, Sphere, Roc, Playboy Paperbacks, Robinsons, etc., and in magazines such as Aboriginal Science Fiction, Dark Discoveries, Fear, and Fantasy Tales. His stories have been translated into Italian, German, Spanish and Russian. His Lovecraftian crime noir horror novel, The Return, was published by Blood Bound Books in 2013. His fantasy novel, Goblin Mire, was published by Parallel Universe Publications in 2015.Table of Contents Hoody (first published in When Graveyards Yawn, Crowswing Books, 2006) A Bottle of Spirits (first published in New Writings in Horror & the Supernatural 2, 1972) No Sense in Being Hungry, She Thought (first published in Peeping Tom #20, 1996) Now and Forever More (first published in The Second Black Book of Horror, 2008) Romero’s Children (first published in The Seventh Black Book of Horror, 2010) Swan Song (first published in the Ninth Black Book of Horror, 2012) The Farmhouse (first published in New Writings in Horror & the Supernatural 1, 1971) The Last Coach Trip (first published in The Eighth Black Book of Horror, 2011) The Satyr’s Head (first published in The Satyr’s Head & Other Tales of Terror, 1975) Their Cramped Dark World (first published in The Sixth Black Book of Horror, 2010).

His Own Mad Demons

David A. Riley’s first professionally published story was in the 11th Pan Book of Horror in 1970. Since then he has been published in numerous anthologies from ROC Books, DAW Books, Robinson Books, Corgi Books, Doubleday, Playboy Paperbacks, and Sphere. Two recent notable anthologies in which he has appeared are The Century’s Best Horror Fiction from Cemetery Dance, and Otto Pensler’s Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! from Vintage Books.In 1995, David and his wife Linden edited and published Beyond, a fantasy/SF magazine. His stories have been published in magazines such as Aboriginal Science Fiction, Dark Discoveries, Fear, Fantasy Tales and World of Horror.His Own Mad Demons contains his stories “Lock-In”, “The Worst of All Possible Places”, “The Fragile Mask on His Face”, “Their Own Mad Demons”, and “The True Spirit”.

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