We've dreamed up some damn scary monsters over the millennia, we humans. We've dreamed up dragons, giants, trolls, aliens, zombies, eldritch things from beyond time and space. Nature itself provides some mighty freaky, horrifying critters - scorpions, wasps, goblin sharks, to name a few. We've produced more than our share of psychos, serial killers, maniacs.
But, really, when you get right down to it, is there anything in all the world or our imaginations that can top the creepy little kid? The still and solemn gaze of their wide eyes ... inexplicable silence from the nursery ... the innocent laughter of a child ... the lilting sing-song of a jump-rope chant ... doesn't that bring on the goosebumps?
Maybe they're inhuman or undead, Damien, Samara, those blondies from the Village of the Damned. Maybe they're just plain rotten, born or bent that way. Maybe circumstances show them at their worst, Lord of the Flies style. One way or another, they freak us the hell out.
Why? Is it because we know how close to the truth those fears really live? The truth that, basically, kids are evil? Most of them grow out of it, sure. Some never really dip into that potential. But it's there. You were one, once. Think back. It can't be just me, right?
At any rate: creepy little kids. 27 stories of them in one great book. Some are classics from the masters, "Children of the Corn" by Stephen King and Robert McCammon's "Yellowjacket Summer," for instance. Others are all-new (including one of mine, stunned though I am to be in such company!)
Among my personal favorites are "My Name is Leejun" by John Schoffstall, Hal Duncan's "The Disappearance of James H___," "If Damon Comes" by Charles L. Grant, and Gary Raisor's "Making Friends."
Whether school's in session or it's summer vacation ... trick-or-treaters at the door ... hellraisers and mommy's angel-darlings ... tea parties, invisible friends, rites of passage, fairy tales ... Bad Seeds has enough twisted tots and toddlers to pack even the most overcrowded amusement park.