“Ghosts with Teeth” by Peter Crowther
From A Book of Horrors edited by Stephen Jones
Cemetery Dance/PS Publishing, 2012
Peter Crowther uses a technique I happen to love in penning his contribution to A Book of Horrors – he starts out at a low point for the story’s characters, and then backtracks to tell us how they got there. In this instance, we join a man named Hugh as he wakes up lying in a destroyed room of the house he shares with his wife, Angie. There’s blood on the floor, the sound of sirens is in the air, and someone is banging on the front door.
Hugh and Angie’s house is one of only 17 in the small town of Tuboise, Maine. Hugh and Angie have just returned there from a trip, and they’ve found things to be immediately off-kilter. People that were standing right there just a second ago are gone in the blink of an eye; neighbors are spotted in windows, and they appear to be screaming; and they receive a number of cryptic warnings as they make their way home, most of them boiling down to “They’re here.” Before long, Angie has disappeared and Hugh has come to realize that there’s really no one around that he can fully trust.
“Ghosts with Teeth” is filled with what I call “nightmare logic” – things shift and change with little rhyme or reason, and Hugh is the man trying to wake up and make sense of it all. The story is creepy and surreal, and Crowther layers in the tension with each passing page, leading to a startling conclusion that brings us full circle to the story’s opening pages. It’s another strong entry in a roster that is so far batting a thousand.