The Unsettled Dust
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Robert Aickman, the supreme master of the supernatural, brings together eight stories where strange things happen that the reader is unable to predict. His characters are often lonely and middle-aged but all have the same thing in common - they are all brought to the brink of an abyss that shows how terrifyingly fragile our piece of mind actually is. 'The Next Glade', 'Bind Your Hair' and 'The Stains' appeared together in The Wine-Dark Sea in 1988 while 'The Unsettled Dust', 'The House of the Russians', 'No Stronger Than a Flower', 'The Cicerones' and 'Ravissante' first appeared in Sub Rosa in 1968. The stories were published together as The Unsettled Dust in 1990. Aickman received the British Fantasy Award in 1981 for 'The Stains', which had first appeared in the anthology New Terrors (1980), before appearing in the last original posthumous collection of Aickman's short stories, Night Voices (1985). "We are all potential victims of the powers Aickman so skilfully conjures and commands". (Robert Bloch).
dropped the nature reserve idea, I thought that the island might be a private housing estate and that at the far end of the bridge might be a locked gate or at least a notice that I shouldn’t understand. But there was nothing of that kind. From the end of the bridge three rough tracks led away, one round the southern shore of the island which I had been looking at, one round the northern shore, and one up on to the usual low but steep ridge which was the island’s backbone. There was no one about
district, as I soon found), and patching up the broken-down locks. The view that I (and others) expressed was the obvious one that if there was any real demand for the river, then the proper public authorities could be depended upon to attend to it. The matter was simply nothing to do with the objectives of the Fund. But there was the usual group of hotheads, with not enough work to do in the world, as one could not but feel; and they had interested one of the local landowners in putting up a
sister, to ask if I could stay at Clamber Court while I was launching the scheme. The Fund expects people whose properties have been accepted to help in this way, as the need may arise; though sometimes Fund employees find themselves offered only an attic and very simple fare. This had by then happened to me several times, and I was quite prepared for it at Clamber Court. (Nowadays, of course, in my case it hardly ever happens, because I have learned to enter into the different foibles of the
artist in me. I do not really know. I feel that I should want only the kind of woman who could not conceivably want me. I cannot say that the whole problem does not trouble me, but, by the standard of what I have read and heard, I am surprised that it does not trouble me more. I find also that I have no difficulty in writing these things down. On the contrary, I find that I like it. I fancy that I could produce a quite long narrative about my own inner feelings, though this is obviously not the
considered that they should go their separate ways soon after eleven, in order, as he said, not to disturb Mr. and Mrs. Carstairs; and when the church clock, brooding over Mrs. Pagani’s romantic residence, struck one, Clarinda was still tense and tumultuous in the prickly dark. Without switching on the light she got out of bed and crossed to the window. She hoped that the sudden chill would numb her writhing nerves. When, an hour and a half before, she had drawn back the curtains, and opened the