Table of Contents
Dear Readers (introduction to the preview of Mine) • essay by Robert R. McCammon
Mine (excerpt) • short fiction by Robert R. McCammon
ix • Introduction (Blue World and Other Stories) • (1989) • essay by Robert R. McCammon
1 • Yellowjacket Summer • (1986) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
25 • Makeup • (1981) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
49 • Doom City • (1987) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
65 • Nightcrawlers • (1984) • novelette by Robert R. McCammon
101 • Yellachile’s Cage • (1987) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
121 • I Scream Man! • (1984) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
131 • He’ll Come Knocking at Your Door • (1986) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
151 • Chico • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
163 • Night Calls the Green Falcon • (1988) • novelette by Robert R. McCammon
191 • Pin • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
215 • The Red House • (1985) • novelette by Robert R. McCammon
239 • Something Passed By • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
259 • Blue World • (1989) • novella by Robert R. McCammon
Fast Cars, the sign said.
It was in front of a used-car lot in the neighborhood where I grew up. Fast Cars. My friends and I passed it every day on our way to school. Our bikes were the fast cars of our imagination, our Mustangs and Corvettes and Thunderbirds. We longed for four wheels, but we were confined to two and on them we hurtled into the future.
I’ve built my own fast cars. They’re in this book, and they’re eager for passengers.
They’re not made of metal, glass, nuts, and bolts, but rather of the fabric of wonder. All of them have a starting point, and all of them have a destination. You can sit behind the wheel, but I have to steer. Trust me. We will travel, you and I, across a tortured land where hope struggles to grow like seed in a drought. In this land, a place with no boundaries, we’ll run the freeways and back roads and we’ll listen to the song of the wheels and peer into windows at lives that might be our own, if we lived in that land. Sometimes we’ll have the wind at our backs, and sometimes in our faces. We’ll see storms in the distance, whirling closer, and we’ll smell the forest and the sea and the hot concrete of the city. Our road will lead us onward, deeper into the tortured land, and as the speedometer revs and the engine roars, we may find strange visions on that twisting highway.
A man who awakens one morning to find a skeleton in bed where his wife had been the night before.
A small-time thief who steals a makeup case, and learns a dead horror star’s secret.
A roadside diner, where a Vietnam veteran comes seeking shelter from the storm.
A young man in prison, who finds beauty and hope on the wings of a yellow bird. Halloween in a very special residential area, where trick-or-treating is deadly serious.
A red house on a street of gray houses, and a breath of sweet fire.
The adventures of a has-been serial hero, who dons his old costume and goes in search of a serial killer.
A priest obsessed by a porno star, and his realization that both of them are being stalked by a third shadow.
We will see worlds within worlds from the windows of our fast car. We might even see the end of the world, and we might sit on a front porch for a while and sip a glass of gasoline on a hot December day.
Some of these roads are tricky. Some of them have sudden curves that want to throw us off into space. Some of them bubble under the blinding sunlight, and some of them freeze beneath the cold white moon. But we have to take them all, if we want to get from here to there. And isn’t journeying what life is all about? The question of what lies beyond the dark hills, beyond the steaming forests, beyond the locked door?
The key to a fast car can take you there.
Novels are limousines, stately and smooth. Some of them can ride like tanks, slow and heavy, well-armored. The fast cars of short stories: those are the vehicles that let us zoom close to the ground, with the wind in our hair and the speedometer’s needle vibrating on the dangerous edge. Sometimes they’re hard to handle; they have minds of their own, and they call for close attention. They can crash and burn so easily, but their sleek power yearns for speed. In such a fast car, we can go anywhere. No locked door can keep us out, and if we want to see what lies around the next bend, or the next hill, all we have to do is steer toward it. We’ll be there, roaming through the tortured land, with the lights of other lives and different worlds passing on either side.
I’d like to thank a number of people who have encouraged me in my building of the fast cars in this book. Thank you to Frank Coffey, who published “Makeup,” my first short story; to Dave Silva of The Horror Show, and Paul and Erin Olson of Horrorstruck, for their friendship and encouragement; to Stephen King and Peter Straub for setting the pace, and leaving burning treadmarks on the pavement; to Charles L. Grant for his black-and-white visions; to Joe and Karen Lansdale for true grit; to Tappan King of Twilight Zone magazine; to J. N. Williamson and John Maclay for their first publication of “Nightcrawlers”; to Dean R. Koontz, and he knows why; to those good ol‘ boys Tom Monteleone and Al Sarrantonio; to Ray Bradbury, whose short story “The Lake” made me cry when I was a little boy; to Forrest J. Ackerman, my true father, who raised me on Famous Monsters of Filmland; to Tony Gardner; and to Sally, who always stands beside me.
The fast cars are waiting. Listen: their engines are starting up. We have a distance to travel, you and I. Buckle your seat belt. I’ll have to steer, because I know the roads. Trust me.
Ready? Then let’s go out, in our cocoon of speed, and see what finds us.