Jack Vance, sorted by year written
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Comment: short horror story.
I’ve had all I can stand. I’ve got to get out, away from the walls, the glass, the white stone, the black asphalt. All of a sudden I see the city for the terrible place that it is. Lights burn my eyes, voices crawl on my skin like sticky insects, and I notice that the people look like insects too. Burly brown beetles, wispy mosquito-men in tight black trousers, sour sow-bug women, mantids and scorpions, fat little dung-beetles, wasp-girls gliding with poisonous nicety, children like loathsome little flies...This isn’t a pleasant thought; I must not think of people so; the picture could linger to bother me. I think I’m a hundred times more sensitive than anyone else in the world, and I’m given to very strange fancies. I could list some that would startle you, and it’s just as well that I don’t. But I do have this frantic urge to flee the city; it’s settled. I’m going.
Comment: It’s a bit unclear to what genre this story exactly belongs (unless one reads SF simply as Speculative Fiction).
The affair had occurred five years previously. The house was abandoned and perhaps inevitably there was talk of haunting. Jean explicitly corroborated these reports. The group had been jocular, skylarking, inviting ghosts to the feast: all ostensibly casual and careless, but all inwardly thrilling to the spooky look of the house, and the memory of the macabre killing. Jean had noticed a flickering of red light at the window of the living room. She had assumed it to be a reflection of the fire, then had looked again. There was no glass in the window. Others noticed; there were squeals and squeaks from the girls. All rose to their feet. Inside the living room, clearly visible, hung a body, twisting and writhing, clothed in flames. And from within came a series of agonized throat-wrenching sobs.
Republished in Sail 25 and Other Stories, Spatterlight, 2012.