[For the previous countdown post, click here.]
12. “Blackbirds” (1998)
This story (inspired by an Alan M. Clark artwork) astounds with the sheer eeriness of its premise. A sinister man in black with a foul-feathered friend perched on his shoulder sneaks through neighborhood homes and seizes upon everyday items like a bath towel, measuring tape, and Slinky toy. But there’s more than mere kleptomania at hand, as seen when the figure begins manipulating these personal items. The man in black (who calls himself “an army”) is a people-reaper, and his skullduggery leads to nests of blackbird-laid eggs containing…well, I won’t spoil the shock here. Only a young boy named Billy is wise to the man’s attack on the town, and his defiance precipitates a climactic showdown at the mouth of a cave that connects to an extremely subterranean place. I’ve always been an avid fan of avian-based horror (a tradition tracing back to Poe’s vocal raven), and Partridge’s creepy tale definitely fits the bill.