|F. Marion Crawford|
-- F. Marion Crawford, "The Screaming Skull"
The second entry in the The Weird should be well-known to those familiar with the genre. Crawford's tale of a man desperately trying to cling to his own sanity in the face of the horrific is as unsettling on repeat readings as it is when first encountered.
The writing is perfectly balanced, veering between notions about whether the narrator is truly experiencing something supernatural, or whether his own ideas and beliefs are propelling him into thinking that he is being haunted by a preposterously adamant object that refuses to leave him alone.
Weird factor is a solid 4/5. The creep factor is unsettlingly tangible, enhanced by the stream of consciousness mode of writing Crawford employs as he addresses the reader directly, pulling us into the story, and thus into the narrator's out of control context.
Lesson learned? Don't put strange objects in boxes in cupboards.
Reviewed from The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, Eds. Anne and Jeff Vandermeer