[for the previous countdown post, click here.]
11. “Carrion” (2006)
And speaking (in yesterday’s countdown post) of birds of ill omen…this retro-pulp masterpiece features a flock of unearthly buzzards with awful appetites (a story title like “Carrion” forebodes some grim pickings). But these grisly feeders don’t represent the extent of the horrors: there’s a strange, shuttered house looming incongruously alongside a lonesome highway in the Arizona desert. Its anthropomorphic façade is apropos, since the structure appears to be alive with evil: the thing is a “clapboard beast” from another, red-skied world. This hellish, buzzard-overrun house possesses its human visitors, stirring up–and feeding off of–black hatred and inner misery. In this consummately weird tale, some of Partridge’s most familiar story elements appear, from hardcase characters (such as a misnomer of a lawman with a sheriff’s badge pinned over his dark heart) to fantastic desert settings brimming with menace. The origins of the otherworldly house are never clarified here, but that only adds to the Bad Place’s macabre mystique. Additional construction is pending, as Partridge has voiced (in his afterword to the Lesser Demons collection) his intention to return to this unusual ruin in a future narrative.