Dark Screams: Volume One

Dark Screams: Volume One

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804176576
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/09/2014
Series: Dark Screams Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 98
Sales rank: 60,250
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Brian James Freeman is the general manager of Cemetery Dance Publications and the author of The Echo of Memory, The Suicide Diary, The Halloween Children (with Norman Prentiss), The Painted Darkness, and Blue November Storms. He has edited several anthologies including Detours, Reading Stephen King, and Halloween Carnival, and with Richard Chizmar he co-edited Killer Crimes and the Dark Screams series. He is also the founder of Books to Benefit, a specialty press that works with bestselling authors to publish collectible limited-edition books to raise funds and awareness for good causes.
Richard Chizmar is the founder, publisher, and editor of Cemetery Dance magazine and Cemetery Dance Publications. He has edited more than a dozen anthologies, including The Best of Cemetery Dance, The Earth Strikes Back, Night Visions 10, October Dreams (with Robert Morrish), and the Shivers series.

Read an Excerpt


Stephen King

Jordy Verrill’s place was out on Bluebird Creek, and he was alone when the meteor traced low fire across the sky and hit on the creek’s east bank. It was twilight, the sky still light in the west, purple overhead, and dark in the east where Venus glowed in the sky like a two-penny sparkler. It was the Fourth of July, and Jordy had been planning to go into town for the real fireworks show when he finished splitting and banding this last smidge of sugar maple.

But the meteor was even better than the two-pound whizzers they set off at the end of the town show. It slashed across the sky in a sullen red splutter, the head afire. When it hit the ground he felt the thump in his feet. Jordy started toward Bluebird Creek on a dead run, knowing what it was immediately, even before the flash of white light from over the hill. A by-God meteor, and some of those fellows from the college might pay a good piece of change for it.

He paused at the top of the rise, his small house with its two outbuildings behind him and the meandering, sunset-colored course of the Bluebird ahead of him. And close to its bank, where the punkies and cattails grew in the soft marshy ground, earth had been flung back from a crater-shaped depression four feet across. The grass on the slope was afire.

Jordy whirled and ran back to his shed. He got a big bucket and an old broom. A faucet jutted out from the side of the shed at the end of a rusty pipe; the ground underneath was the only place grass would grow in Jordy’s dooryard, which was otherwise bald and littered with old auto parts.

He filled the bucket and ran back toward the creek, thinking it was good the twilight was so still. Otherwise he might have had bad trouble. Might even have had to call the volunteer fire department. But good luck came in batches. The fire was gaining slowly with no wind to help it. It moved out from the crater in a semicircle, drawing a crescent of black on the summer-green bank.

Moving slowly, with no wasted motion—he had fought grass fires before—Jordy dipped his broom in the water and beat the flames with it. He worked one end of the fire-front and then the other, narrowing the burn zone to twenty feet, ten, nothing. Panting a little, soot on his thin cheeks like beardshadow, he turned around and saw four or five burning circles that had been lit by sparks. He went to each and slapped them out with his wet broom.
Now for that meteor. He walked down to the crater, leather boots sending up little puffs of ash, and hunkered down. It was in there all right, and it was the size of a volleyball. It was glowing red-white-molten, and Jordy thanked his lucky stars that it had landed here, where it was marshy, and not in the middle of his hayfield.

He poked it with his boot, a roundish hunk of rock melted jagged in places by its superhot ride from the reaches of the universe all the way into Jordy Verrill’s New Hampshire farmstead on the Fourth of July.

He picked up his bucket again and doused the meteor with the water that remained. There was a baleful hiss and a cloud of steam. When it cleared away and Jordy saw what had happened, he dropped the bucket and slapped his forehead.

“There, you done it now, Jordy, you lunkhead.”

The meteor had broken neatly in two. And there was something inside.

Jordy bent forward. White stuff had fallen out of a central hollow, white flaky stuff that looked like Quaker Oats.

“Well, beat my ass,” Jordy muttered. He got down on his knees and poked at the white stuff.


He snatched his fingers away and sucked them, his eyes watering. He was going to have a crop of blisters, just as sure as shit grows under a privy.

A series of thunderclaps went off behind him and Jordy leaped to his feet, looking wildly at the sky. Then he relaxed. It was just the one-pound crackers they always started the fireworks show with. He hunkered down again, never minding the green starbursts spreading in the sky behind him. He had his own fireworks to worry about.

Jordy wasn’t bright; he had a potato face and large, blocky hands that were as apt to hoe up the carrots as the weeds that grew between them, and he got along as best he could. He fixed cars and sold wood and in the winter he drove Christmas trees down to Boston. Thinking was hard work for him. Thinking hurt, because there was a dead short somewhere inside, and keeping at it for long made him want to take a nap or beat his meat and forget the whole thing.

For Jordy there were three types of thinking: plain thinking, like what you were going to have for supper or the best way to pull a motor with his old and balky chain fall; work thinking; and Big Thinking. Big Thinking was like when all the cows died and he was trying to figure if Mr. Warren down at the bank would give him an extension on his loan. Like when you had to decide which bills to pay at the end of the month. Like what he was going to do about this meteor.

He decided the best way to start would be to have some pictures. He went back to the house, got his Kodak, went back to the creek, and took two flash photos of the thing, lying there cracked open like an egg with Quaker Oats coming out of it instead of yolk. It was still too hot to touch.

That was all right. He would just leave her lie. If he took it up to the college in a towsack, maybe they would say Jordy Verrill, look what you done, you f***in’ lunkhead. You picked her up and bust her all to hell. Yes, leave her lie, that was the ticket. It was on his land. If any of those college professors tried to take his meteor, he’d sic the county sheriff on them. If they wanted to cart it off and take pictures of it and measure it and feed little pieces of it to their guinea pigs, they’d have to pay him for the privilege.

“Twenty-five bucks or no meteor!” Jordy said. He stood to his full height. He listened. He shoved his chest up against the air. “You heard me! Twenty-five bucks! Cash on the nail!”

Huge, shattering thunderclaps in the sky.

He turned around. Lights glared in the sky over town, each one followed by a cannon report that echoed and vaulted off the hills. These were followed by sprays of iridescent color in fractured starburst patterns. It was the grand finale of the fireworks show, and the first time he’d missed seeing it on the town common, with a hot dog in one hand and a cone of spun sugar in the other, in more than fifteen years.

“It don’t matter!” Jordy shouted at the sky. “I got the biggest damn firework Cleaves Mills ever seen! And it’s on my land!”

Jordy went back to the house and was preparing to go into town when he remembered the drugstore would be closed because of the holiday. There was no way he could start getting his film developed until tomorrow. It seemed like there was nothing to do tonight but go to bed. That thought made him feel discontented and somehow sure that his luck hadn’t changed after all; the gods of chance had been amused to haul him up by the scruff of the neck and show him twenty-five dollars and had then jammed him right back down in the dirt. After all, Verrill luck was Verrill luck, and you spelled that B-A-D. It had always been that way, why should it change? Jordy decided to go back out and look at his meteor, half convinced that it had probably disappeared by now.

The meteor was still there, but the heat seemed to have turned the Quaker Oats stuff to a runny liquid that looked like flour paste with too much water added in. It was seeping into the ground, and it must have been some kind of hot, too, because steam was rising out of the burned crescent of ground beside the creek in little banners.

He decided to take the meteor halves back to the house after all, then changed his mind back again. He told himself he was afraid he’d break it into still more pieces, being as clumsy as he was, and he told himself that it might stay hot for a long time; it might melt right through whatever he put it in and put the house afire while he was sleeping. But that wasn’t it. The truth was that he just didn’t like it. Nasty goddamn thing, no telling where it had been or what that white stuff had been, that meteorshit inside it.

As Jordy pulled off his boots and got ready to go to bed, he winced at the pain in his fingers. They hurt like hell, and they had blistered up pretty much the way he had expected. Well, he wasn’t going to let this get away, that was all.

He’d take those pictures in to get developed tomorrow and then he’d think about who might know someone at the college. Mr. Warren the banker probably did, except he still owed Mr. Warren seven hundred dollars and he’d probably take anything Jordy made as payment on his bill. Well, somebody else, then. He’d think it over in the morning.

He unbuttoned his shirt, doing it with his left hand because his right was such a misery, and hung it up. He took off his pants and his thermal underwear, which he wore year-round, and then went into the bathroom and took the Corn Huskers Lotion out of the medicine cabinet. He spread some of the pearly-colored fluid on the blisters that had raised up on his right fingers and then turned out the lights and went to bed. He tossed and turned for a long time and when sleep finally did come, it was thin and uneasy.

He woke at dawn, feeling sick and feverish, his throat as dry as an old chip, his head throbbing. His eyes kept wanting to see two of everything.

“God almighty damn,” he muttered, and swung his feet over onto the floor. It felt like he had the grippe. Good thing he had plenty of Bacardi rum and Vicks ointment. He would smear his chest up with Vicks and put a rag around his throat and stay in. Watch TV and drink Bacardi and just sweat her out.

“That’s the ticket,” Jordy said. “That’s—”

He saw his fingers.

The next few minutes were hysteria, and he didn’t come back to his wits until he was downstairs with the phone in his hand, listening to that answering service tell him Doc Condon wouldn’t be back until tomorrow afternoon. He hung up numbly. He looked down at his fingers again.

Green stuff was growing out of them.

They didn’t hurt anymore; they itched. The blisters had broken in the night, leaving raw-looking depressions in the pads of his fingers, and there was this green stuff growing in there like moss. Fuzzy short tendrils, not pale green like grass when it first comes up, but a darker, more vigorous green.

It came from touching that meteor, he thought. “I wisht I never saw it,” he said. “I wish it come down on somebody else’s property.”

But wish in one hand, spit in the other, as his daddy would have said. Things were what they were, and he was just going to have to sit down and do some Big Thinking about it. He would—

God, he had been rubbing his eyes!

That was the first thing he did every morning when he woke up, rubbed the sleepy seeds out of his eyes. It was the first thing anybody did, as far as he knew. You wiped your left eye with your left hand and your right eye with . . . with . . .

Customer Reviews

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Dark Screams: Volume One 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Karsun More than 1 year ago
I received an advance reader copy (arc) of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. First of all, I was so excited to get to read this because I love horror short stories and they did not disappoint. I'm familiar with Simon Clark, Ramsey Campbell, and of course, Stephen King so I already knew I'd most likely enjoy everything. However, one of my favorite stories was by an author unfamiliar to me, Kelley Armstrong. That story was among my favorites, if not the favorite, of the entire book. However, I did love each and every story and that's an honest opinion. This was a short anthology so the only caveat to my review would be that I wanted more. Thankfully, there are more volumes on the way, which I cannot wait to read.
klzinga More than 1 year ago
For those who enjoy classic horror this book is a must read. Having Stephen Kings 1976 tale "Weeds" in the anthology should be enough to warrant purchasing this book. But the other stories were just as enthralling, with plenty of twists - the way horror should be. These stories will keep you thinking about them long after you finished reading. I can't wait to see what Vol. 2 holds.
mikestrider More than 1 year ago
Dark Screams - Volume One This is a great collection of scary short stories. I was familiar with the Stephen King story 'Weeds' but the others were all new to me. The book finished up with two of the scariest stories in the collection and the last one is sure to be on my mind as I go to sleep tonight. This is the first book I have read with the intention of writing a review so please forgive if I ramble a little. The stories contained in Dark Screams are short and easy to read. Each one comes at you from a different direction and all are great reads. My past experience with collections has been a couple great stories surrounded by a bunch of mediocre stories. Dark Screams does not follow that mold. The most famous writer in this collection arguably has the weakest story. I'm really glad to have gotten the opportunity to read and review this book. I will be buying this when it goes to print and also the follow-up volumes. I truly love horror stories that are not a rehash of the same tale that's currently popular and I really like it when the good guy DIES !!! If you like spooky, you must read this book.
Anonymous 11 months ago
The writing was wonderful.easy to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a quick read and several of the stories were a bit interesting at the start. But overall, left something to be desired and all but one lacked any sort of climax. Kind of frustrating...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent short stories, some with endings that left this reader wondering, "What just happened?'
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
Dark Screams: Volume One is the first volume in a series of short-story collections. The short-stories featured in this particular collection are listed in order below along with their authors and my review. I gave the collection a rating of 4.10 stars, as averaged from my individual ratings below. Weeds – Stephen King ★★★★★ Loved this sci-fi themed horror story that very much feels like an old-school twilight zone episode. And it’s Stephen King! Enough said. The Price You Pay – Kelley Armstrong ★★★★ Very involved for a short-story. Dark, mysterious, engaging, thrilling... and with a surprising twist at the end. I liked it! Magic Eyes – Bill Pronzini ★★★★★ Loved this take on the mind of someone placed in an insane asylum. I felt like I was going a little bit crazy right along with him! Murder In Chains – Simon Clark ★★★½ For some reason, I experienced a bit of trouble consistently following this short story, but the ending definitely yelled “horror” loud and clear. Pretty freaky! The Watched – Ramsey Campbell ★★★ A haunting type of horror story that unfortunately I didn't feel very engaged in. I definitely felt the horror aspect of it here and there though!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must have! Stephen King adds his own mischief to the shadows already lurking in the deepest parts of your mind! Ready to grab you and send the fear shooting through your body until you scream! Watch out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just so-so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jdshields More than 1 year ago
I like these type of books due to my short attention span for much longer stories :) Plus I have been wanting to try some new authors. Loved the Stephen King story and others. Going to read Ramsey Campbell next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the Stephen King story but was disappointed with the others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Splashesintobooks1 More than 1 year ago
A great collection to have you screaming, even if only figuratively!  This is, fairly obviously, the first volume in the Dark Screams series. It contains five diverse, dark, short stories by Stephen King, Kelley Armstrong, Bill Pronzini, Simon Clark, and Ramsey Campbell. They range from pure horror to psychological thriller to just plain creepy! As with most collections of stories by different authors the appeal of the stories varies but overall I believe the collection worthy of the 4 stars I’ve given it. Whilst I’ve read other works by some of these authors, this collection introduced me to others who I’ll look out for in future. No two stories in the collection are alike making this an anthology in which you’re not quite sure what you’ll be reading next! I’ll be watching out for future volumes in this series. Thanks to the author, publishers and NetGalley, too, for letting me read a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Stevieb58 More than 1 year ago
Very good read
Marcus_Hammond More than 1 year ago
Dark Screams: Volume One is a highly enjoyable, intense collection of horror stories that emphasizes the individual talents of the assorted authors.  Stephen King's "Weeds" starts the collection out with some wicked sci-fi horror revolving around a plant-like creature taking over a bumbling laborer with painful consequences.   While King's story may draw a lot of readers to the collection everyone must make sure to read every single story in this collection. Each one is as good as the previous, yet unique.  Kelley Armstrong (an author I've never had any desire to read) changes the tone of the collection with a twisted, psychological tale of revenge that is both surprisingly intense and thought-provoking.   Another highlight is Simon Clark's entry.  Again taking a significantly different tone than the rest of the stories, Clark investigates the dark nature of being chained (literally and metaphorically) to our own dark, twisted monsters. Bill Pronzini and Ramsey Campbell provide stories as well that are just as dark, twisted, and thought-provoking as the rest. If you're looking for some great reading late at night, definitely check out this anthology that's masterfully put together by horror-masters Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This short collection of stories from Stephen King and four authors you probably don't know provides readers with diminishing returns. King's "Weeds" is, by far, the best of the bunch here and vividly depicts how curiosity and greed can consume our lives. "The Price You Pay" by Kelley Armstrong is a complex and twisted but nearly satisfying revenge tale, but the remaining three stories fail to conjure the same kind of excitement as the first two. Bill Pronzini's "Magic Eyes," set in a loony bin, could have been more effective had it been longer, and Simon Clark's "Murder in Chains" would fit better in an anthology of monster stories. This brings us to the final story, a nonsensical piece about a boy, a vengeful cop and bad neighbors. This initial volume of "Dark Screams" -- more are planned -- would have benefitted more without inclusion of "The Watched." Editors Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar, both from Cemetary Dance (the genre's finest magazine) are off to a noble start, and their desire to give new authors a high-profile platform deserves respect. Here's hoping the "Dark Screams" anthology continues to include at least one anchor author and a handful of deserving new voices. The short eBook format is ideal for readers who want a quick dose of suspense or horror, and the editors are among the best in the business.