A story within a story – a man inherits the papers of a painter of fantastical scenes, and finds a memoir of the painter’s visit with the widow of another painter of fantastical scenes.
I couldn’t help but imagine, though it is never made explicit, that the mysterious absent (adopted?) daughter would go on to become the painter’s wife, who appears wholly disinterested in the painter’s estate after his death. Weird and unsettling as only Aickman can deliver.
A widower visiting his vicar brother in the country encounters a strange young woman on the moors and moves into an abandoned house with her, where they are pursued by the girl’s father, who may be some sort of primordial god.
This is peak Aickman, creepy in every sense (the lurking lichens and the leering after a girl of uncertain age) with an ambiguous and unsettling conclusion.
A man’s guilty conscious and his wife’s refusal to forgive him create a monstrous creature and its evil children that torment his dreams.
A woman seeks to create a perfectly un-man-like man through black magic but is unable to exorcise its worst traits.
A man has a panic attack and is granted premonitions into a horrific apocalypse he is powerless to alter or avoid.
The narrator seeks anonymity in a tourist town, apparently pursued and shamed for some undisclosed misprision.
A man is chased from house to house and city to city by a malevolent force until he makes a terrible bargain with it.
A man who has always been kind to insects discovers to his horror that the kindness offered by Earth’s monstrous insect-like invaders is anything but.
A girl who has grown up locked in an attic escapes and must face whether it is she or her mother who imprisoned her who is the real monster.
A girl is haunted by her mother’s abusive boyfriend, who may be a putrefying corpse beneath the floorboards or a malicious ghost.