The author Horror Delve has featured far more than any other is Ramsey Campbell. Be it novels, novellas, novelettes, or short stories, for me, he never disappoints. Today we’re going to look at thirteen more excellent short horror stories by him. These have appeared in a wide variety of collections and anthologies. You can find previous posts about Ramsey’s short fiction here: https://horrordelve.com/2013/09/25/my-top-ten-favorite-ramsey-campbell-short-stories/, here: https://horrordelve.com/2014/09/20/holes-for-faces-by-ramsey-campbell/ and here: https://horrordelve.com/2015/06/01/13-more-great-short-stories-by-ramsey-campbell/. To peruse all our entries for Ramsey here at Horror Delve, you can find the extensive list here: https://horrordelve.com/?s=Ramsey+Campbell .
- “Cold Print” (1969) – A stern teacher sets out in search of bookstores which might carry the obscure, shunned texts he’s obsessed with obtaining. Overhearing his desire, a seedy-looking man convinces him he knows a place that has them but seems afraid to take him there. After he ultimately does, the teacher finds the bookstore contains more than he expected. This classic tale contains references to many of Campbell’s own Lovecraft-inspired creations including Gla’aki, Eihort, Daoloth and Y’golonac.
- “Made in Goatswood” (1973) – A man buys some creepy-looking garden gnomes from the florid town of Goatswood to take to his girlfriend. While he loves her deeply, he resents her religious beliefs and those of her parents. Once the gnomes are placed in her garden, the girlfriend begins to feel followed and watched.
- “The Last Hand” (1975) – A struggling writer joins three strangers in a game of cards while traveling aboard a train. He begins to decipher odd messages in the cards he’s dealt as he gambles more than intended. Meanwhile, a horde of flies begin to cover the windows.
- “A New Life” (1976) – A man awakens, not knowing where he is or how he got there. The last thing he remembers is being sucked under water at sea and struggling to breath. His limbs resist his attempts to control them.
- “Out of Copyright” (1980) – An unscrupulous anthologist and book collector convinces a grieving widow to sell him her late husband’s valuable book collection for pennies on the dollar. He’s excited by one in particular titled Tales From Beyond by a mysterious old gothic writer named Damien Damon. Damon was reputed to have been a practioner of black magic. The anthologist begins to notice an odd pattern to the book as large amounts of dust infests his house.
- “Eye of Childhood” (1982) – A young girl resents her art teacher’s impatience with her and decides to use a big book with a witch on its cover to get her revenge.
- “The Hands” (1986) – A bookseller, stranded in a small town by a derailment, decides to seek out a pub to pass the time but everything seems closed. The nightmare begins when it starts to rain and he’s forced to seek shelter in an old church.
- “Missed Connection” (1986) – While riding on a train, a man keeps seeing another one running parallel on the tracks to his own. The bizarre, deformed faces he sees in its windows make him believe he’s hallucinating, but perhaps there is some deeper meaning.
- “The Same In Any Language” (1991) – A boy insists on visiting an old leper colony island while on vacation in Greece with his obnoxious father and his father’s new girlfriend. As the sun sets, things begin to shamble about the derelict place. Evocative descriptions of the island, realistic interactions between the primary characters, and the eerie half-glimpsed things which hint that something else is among them, all combine to make this another excellent tale by Ramsey.
- “Between the Floors”(1997)– A theater manager keeps encountering an antagonistic lift operator while attending a conference. There’s something very unnatural about him. The subtle horror of this story is masterfully done. This is one of my favorite Campbell stories.
- “The Entertainment” (1999) – While traveling, a man checks into a room to escape a heavy rain. The strange residents keep calling him by the wrong name and seem to think he’s there to perform some kind of show for them. There are lots of super-creepy scenes throughout this tale.
- “Just Behind You” (2005) – A father takes his son to a birthday party held at the school he works at for the headmaster’s son. He begins to regret the decision when he sees how the birthday boy treats his son and even more after the kids move their game of hide-and-seek into the school, which holds a dark past with the father. He then begins to catch glimpses of a shadowy figure stalking them.
- “Reading The Signs” (2013) – A man driving alone picks up another man walking down the street with a young boy perched on his shoulders. The hitchhiker says his car broke down and that they need a lift. He’s surly and seems to dislike the boy traveling with him. To pass the time, the three of them play a disturbing game where they make up sayings that start with the three letters seen on the license plates of the cars they spot along the way. The man who picked them up starts to worry he may have made a dreadful mistake the longer he’s with them. This is another masterfully eerie tale by Ramsey Campbell.
Article by Matt Cowan