THE DEPARTED by Clive Barker
On All Hallows’ Eve, a dead and disembodied mother yearns to touch her young son one last time. But will making contact destroy them both?
CREATURE FEATURE by Heather Graham
What could be better publicity for a horror convention than an honest-to-goodness curse? It’s only after lights out that the hype—and the Jack the Ripper mannequin—starts to feel a little too real.
THE NEW WAR by Lisa Morton
Mike Carson is a war hero and a decorated vet. He doesn’t deserve to be trapped in a hospital with some black thing sitting on his chest as patients die all around him. His only hope is to take out the nurse—before it’s his turn.
SAMMY COMES HOME by Ray Garton
It’s what every family prays for: a lost pet returning home. But when Sammy, the Hale family sheepdog, appears on their doorstep, he brings back something no parent would ever wish upon his or her child.
THE BRASHER GIRL by Ed Gorman
Cindy Marie Brasher is the prettiest girl in the Valley, and Spence just has to have her. Unfortunately, Cindy has a “friend” . . . a friend who tells her to do things . . . bad things.
Praise for Dark Screams: Volume Four
“Collectively, Volume Four constitutes the most cohesive, narratively enriching and entertaining Dark Screams entry to date. Be it the presence of genre icons Barker and Morton, stories from the lesser-known but equally talented Garton and Gorman, or the pure fun of Graham’s tale, fans of horror of every variety will find something to love in these pages.”—LitReactor
“The best of the bunch so far.”—Examiner.com
“Stacks up well with any of the other three books so far [with] a fairly good variety in the kinds of horror stories too . . . If you’re new to the series, this is a good jumping-on point.”—Wagging the Fox
“Dark Screams is one of the best values on the horror market. . . . Do yourself a favor, and pick it up.”—Adventures Fantastic
About the Author
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
It was not only painters who were connoisseurs of light, Hermione had come to learn in the three days since her death; so, too, were those obliged to shun it. She was a member of that fretful clan now—a phantom in the world of flesh—and if she hoped to linger here for long she would have to avoid the sun’s gift as scrupulously as a celibate avoided sin, and for much the same reason. It tainted, corrupted, and finally drove the soul into the embrace of extinction.
She wasn’t so unhappy to be dead; life had been no bowl of cherries. She had failed at love, failed at marriage, failed at friendship, failed at motherhood. That last stung the sharpest. If she could have plunged back into life to change one thing, she would have left the broken romances in pieces and gone to her six-year-old son, Finn, to say: Trust your dreams, and take the world lightly, for it means nothing, even in the losing. She had shared these ruminations with one person only. His name was Rice, an ethereal nomad like herself who had died wasted and crazed from the plague but was now in death returned to corpulence and wit. Together they had spent that third day behind the blinds of his shunned apartment, listening to the babble of the street and exchanging tidbits. Toward evening, conversation turned to the subject of light.
“I don’t see why the sun hurts us and the moon doesn’t,” Hermione reasoned. “The moon’s reflected sunlight, isn’t it?”
“Don’t be so logical,” Rice replied, “or so damn serious.”
“And the stars are little suns. Why doesn’t starlight hurt us?”
“I never liked looking at the stars,” Rice replied. “They always made me feel lonely. Especially toward the end. I’d look up and see all that empty immensity and . . .” He caught himself in mid-sentence. “Damn you, woman, listen to me! We’re going to have to get out of here and party.”
She drifted to the window.
“Down there?” she said.
“Will they see us?”
“Not if we go naked.”
She glanced around at him. He was starting to unbutton his shirt.
“I can see you perfectly well,” she told him.
“But you’re dead, darling. The living have a lot more trouble.” He tugged off his shirt and joined her at the window. “Shall we dare the dusk?” he asked her, and without waiting for a reply, raised the blind. There was just enough power in the light to give them both a pleasant buzz.
“I could get addicted to this,” Hermione said, taking off her dress and letting the remnants of the day graze her breasts and belly.
“Now you’re talking,” said Rice. “Shall we take the air?”
All Hallows’ Eve was a day away, a night away, and every shop along Main Street carried some sign of the season. A flight of paper witches here; a cardboard skeleton there.
“Contemptible,” Rice remarked, as they passed a nest of rubber bats. “We should protest.”
“It’s just a little fun,” Hermione said.
“It’s our holiday, darling. The Feast of the Dead. I feel like . . . like Jesus at a Sunday sermon. How dare they simplify me this way?” He slammed his phantom fists against the glass. It shook, and the remote din of his blow reached the ears of a passing family, all of whom looked toward the rattling window, saw nothing, and—trusting their eyes—moved on down the street.
Hermione gazed after them.
“I want to go and see Finn,” she said.
“Not wise,” Rice replied.
“Screw wise,” she said. “I want to see him.”
Rice already knew better than to attempt persuasion, so up the hill they went, toward her sister Elaine’s house, where she assumed the boy had lodged since her passing.
“There’s something you should know,” Rice said, as they climbed. “About being dead.”
“It’s difficult to explain. But it’s no accident we feel safe under the moon. We’re like the moon. Reflecting the light of something living, something that loves us. Does that make any sense?”
“Then it’s probably the truth.”
She stopped her ascent and turned to him. “Is this meant as a warning of some kind?” she asked.
“Would it matter if it were?”
He grinned. “I was the same. A warning was always an invitation.”
“End of discussion?”
“End of discussion.”
There were lamps burning in every room of Elaine’s house, as if to keep the night and all it concealed at bay.
How sad, Hermione thought, to live in fear of shadows. But then, didn’t the day now hold as many terrors for her as night did for Elaine? Finally, it seemed, after thirty-one years of troubled sisterhood, the mirrors they had always held up to each other—fogged until this moment—were clear. Regret touched her, that she had not better known this lonely woman whom she had so resented for her lack of empathy.
“Stay here,” she told Rice. “I want to see them on my own.”
Rice shook his head. “I’m not missing this,” he replied, and followed her up the path, then across the lawn toward the dining room window.
From inside came not two voices but three: a woman, a boy, and a man whose timbre was so recognizable it stopped Hermione in her invisible tracks.
“Thomas,” she said.
“Your ex?” Rice murmured.
She nodded. “I hadn’t expected . . .”
“You’d have preferred him not to come and mourn you?”
“That doesn’t sound like mourning to me,” she replied. Nor did it. The closer to the window they trod, the more merriment they heard. Thomas was cracking jokes, and Finn and Elaine were lapping up his performance.
“He’s such a clown!” Hermione said. “Just listen to him.”
They had reached the sill now, and peered in. It was worse than she’d expected. Thom had Finn on his knee, his arms wrapped around the child. He was whispering something in the boy’s ear, and as he did so a grin appeared on Finn’s face.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I just paid four dollars for 89 pages. NOT A HAPPY CAMPER HERE!
Dark Screams: Volume Four by Clive Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Adult Fiction>Horror
The book is the fourth in a series collection of five short stories.
The Departed ***
Clive Barker's story of a ghostly mother trying to reunite with her son to say goodby on All Hallows Eve is disappointing. I expected a more scary, horrific story from this famous author.
Creature Feature **
Heather Graham's contribution center's on a Jack the Ripper mannequin displayed at a wax museum convention that comes to life. This story was my least favorite of the collection. There are many references to the character's ghost hunter connection to a previous Krewe of Hunters series which I had not read.
The New War *****
Lisa Morton's thrilling tale of a W.W.II decorated war hero plagued by shadows hiding in corners. He is recuperating in a retirement home from hip surgery and is suffering from delirium and the onset of dementia. He believes that a black, shadowy creature is killing the residents of the nursing home one at a time. Mike Carson has a hard time separating fact from fantasy and begins to suspect a nurse is not what she seems. Mike experiences loss of time and experiences visions of army buddies who died in the war. The vet comes to realize that some battles will not be won as the black enemy waits for him, as it will for all of us.
Sammy Comes Home *****
Ray Garton's terrifying story is a combination of "Pet Semetary", "Alien" and "The Body Snatchers". Bryan Hale's sheepdog, Sammy, disappears for over a week. Other cats and dogs in town have also gone missing causing anguish to the pet owners. Sammy shows back up looking sickly, bloody and bloated. It is only the beginning of a good, old-fashioned gruesome, gory story.
The Brasher Girl ****
Ed Gorman's story is the longest of the collection. Seventeen year old Cindy Marie Brasher is pretty and popular. She introduces her new boyfriend, Spence, to a voice in the well that tells her to do bad things. The alien telepathic voice in the well soon begins to speak to Spence also.
I highly recommend this collection of scary stories. Enjoy.
ARC courtesy of the author and publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
View all my reviews
I liked all five of the stories in this collection. The main thing I liked was that each one was totally different in style, story type and writing. I've read all these authors before and this collection just reinforces how great they each are. I enjoyed reading this book. I received this arc book free from NetGalley for a honest review.
I received this book via NetGalley to give an honest review. This volume was a bit better than volume three for me. I am enjoying how I am reading new short stories by new authors out of this volume I only know of one author and that is Clive Barker. Now this review will be on all of the short stories so the rating that I give will be all of them combined together. Though I am torn on if I give this a three or a four we shall see as the words come through my fingers. :) The Departed by Clive Barker: This is story about a mother who seems to have failed at everything in her life and wasn't so unhappy to be dead (that last part comes from the book) it is kind of sad nothing too bad easy flow on reading I would say 3 rating. The New War by Lisa Morton: Now this one I enjoyed a whole lot this is about a War Veteran who is in a nursing home and pretty much sees death but he doesn't quite realize it is death. I have to give this one a solid 5 rating. Sammy Comes Home by Ray Garton: This one was kind of freaky animals around the neighbor are disappearing but when they come back they bring something with them. It is kind of like an alien type story being told for being a short story a lot of work was put into it. The only thing I was hoping for was more description of the aliens I couldn't really picture what they looked like in my head. Other than that I give this one a 4 rating. The Brasher Girl by Ed Gorman: Now this was a good story. Hearing a voice from the well telling you what to do and it isn't good things. That just sounds creepy. A young man falls for a female but there seems to be a friend that she has. When she tells Spence about it at first he doesn't believe it, that is until he starts hearing the voice and it becomes his friend. The way it was told it reminded me of a good ol' R.L. Stine story. Another solid 5 rating. Creature Feature by Heather Graham: Now this was totally freaky and I have to give a solid 4 rating as I was just thinking in my head this could almost be a movie. Young woman in a building with monsters that are going to be used in different things one of them comes to life and starts looking for its next victim. Yep sounds a like a good ol horror story/horror movie. I liked the idea of the so called monster coming to life but what I didn't get was the fact that people could see ghost or that they worked for a special unit called the Krewe of Hunters. What exactly is that and what is the point of it being in the story? Overall I am going to give this book a solid 4 a high solid 4. I can not wait to see what volume five brings out and what the authors of that volume come up with.
I received a free ARC from Net Galley Overall, I feel this is the best of the Dark Screams series so far. Three of these stories I thought were great, and the other two were still pretty good. I enjoyed reading all of them. The Departed - a sentimental ghost story. Interesting, but didn't seem like anything special to me. I was hoping for more scares from Clive Barker. Creature Feature - I thought this was an interesting premise. I really liked the setting, in a horror convention after closing time. I would worry about the creatures coming to life too. The shifting point of views was a little distracting though. The New War - this was a tense story. Is the black thing real or imagination? And will it get Mike? I enjoyed this one. Sammy Comes Home - My favorite story in the book. Although it didn't really explain why things were happening to the pets, it was still a pretty creepy story. The visuals at the end of the story of the other animals returning home was great. The Brasher Girl - This felt more like a novel than a short story. I think it could easily be fleshed out into something longer. Cindy's special "friend" was a surprise, and not what I expected. I was thinking about this one long after I finished it.
The Departed (Clive Barker) My favourite in the collection, The Departed is heartwarming, sad but also very sweet. It is a silent story about motherly love, but also about the absolute love of a child for its mother. Have some Kleenex ready when reading this eye-waterer. 5 stars. The New War (Lisa Morton) Subtle and dark, this is a depressing story about the oppressing presence of death for an old man. The author did a great job building up tension. 4.5 stars Sammy Comes Home (Ray Garton) Creature alert! A little disgusting but highly entertaining, although I felt sad for the pets. Would be nice to have this one stretched into a novella. 4 stars. The Brasher Girl (Ed Gorman) Although I liked the plot, I felt indifferent towards the characters and the outcome of the story. It was ok I guess. 3.5 stars Creature Feature (Heather Graham) The title tells it all, although I expected a larger mess and more real creatures. Though not really bad, this was my least favourite of the bunch. 3 stars After some middle-rate second and third volumes, the fourth part of Dark Screams raises the level again and collects some very fine stories. However, I suggest reading in reverse order to save the best for last. A town with a dark history...when a new resident moves into the old dilapidated Upshaw Mansion, history comes alive again in Mesa Rapids. Affecting its inhabitants, the town and especially the rooms and surroundings of the Upshaw Mansion turn into a nightmare vision resembling a Hieronymus Bosch painting (who is mentioned, quite fittingly, in the book). Only a handful of people are able to see the truth and discover that something truly evil is about to be released. Will they be able to stop it before it's too late? The story is told in very short chapters, each named after the character who is the main focus of that chapter. This made reading a very fast-paced process and allowed to see events from several perspectives, which helped put the pieces together. There also was a part documenting the town's history, which gave a lot of explanations to the questions raised by the creepy events taking place. Together with the interspersed diary entries of Colin, who is hired to paint at the Upshaw Mansion and thus, unknowingly, wake something terrible from the past, we get a good idea what is going on. The well-drawn main characters, especially Colin, were not all easily likable, which perfectly worked to make them real and believable. The book had a constant dream-like quality, and I felt like stepping into a nightmare where unimaginable things happened. However, the townsfolk participating in this sick dream were unable to see what was really going on and even enjoyed their cruel acts, like at a never-ending party in hell. While the story had some predictable moments, it was unputdownable until the end, which still held a surprise. However, I still wonder why the author chose to name the buyer of the mansion Klimt - with the constant references to art and the main subject of painting, I would have expected some connection to the painter... (I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)
I received an advance reader copy (arc) of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. I continue to enjoy this anthology series and this one merely whets one's appetite for the next installments. As such, I was looking forward to this fourth installment. The author line-up for this volume is quite impressive. I found each of the stories to be entertaining for different reasons. I don't believe that I had any disappointments with any of them … not quote as positive a feeling as some of the earlier volumes. This anthology includes these stories: —The Departed, by Clive Barker. A very emotionally charged and touching story. Certainly not horrific and not what I expected from The Clive Barker, yet thoroughly enjoyable. 3.5 stars —The New War, by Lisa Morton, A tale that is frightening in that we will all be in Mike's place eventually ... with the black waiting patiently. 3.5 stars —Sammy Comes Home, by Ray Garton, Man's best friend? A quick-moving gruesome tale. 3.0 stars —The Brasher Girl, by Ed Gorman, Murder, mayhem and mischief ... Oh my! This story has everything: love, broken hearts, intrigue, mystery, murder and aliens! And, no ... It's not hokey at all. It's a very quickly paced thrill ride ... come on in and try it! 4.5 stars —Creature Feature, by Heather Graham, A real-life Universal monsters-type horror movie. Quite action-packed and exciting for a short story. Quite entertaining. 4.0 stars