First paragraphs of the Fearie Tales stories from Masters Ramsey Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Robert Shearman, and Markus Heitz.
DOREEN WAS AWAKE at once and trying to hear why. A dog barked on the far side of the tennis courts, and another yapped from the direction of the golf club, and then she heard noises from Anna’s old room. Benjamin was shifting in his cot, a sound both blurred and amplified by the baby monitor. As Doreen prepared to stumble to the next room the sound rustled into silence, and she let her head sink back onto the pillow. Before she closed her eyes she glimpsed midnight on the bedside clock. At the very least she was dozing when she heard a low voice.
‘You’re mine now, Benjamin,’ it said.
THE THAMES IS a filthy beast: it winds through London like a snake, or a sea serpent. All the rivers flow into it, the Fleet and the Tyburn and the Neckinger, carrying all the filth and scum and waste, the bodies of cats and dogs and the bones of sheep and pigs down into the brown water of the Thames, which carries them east into the estuary and from there into the North Sea and oblivion.
THERE WAS NEVER any scandal in the Von Zieten family. The Von Zietens did not approve of scandal. Sieglinde knew that there had been a Von Zieten in the war once and that he had done something very bad – she didn’t know which war, and by now it was probably too late to tell – he had either been cowardly when he should have been heroic, or had been heroic when the tide of public opinion had turned against heroism, and discretion would have been the more sensible option. It had been most embarrassing. But Captain Von Zieten had made amends by taking his own life – he’d shot himself with his service revolver – and the family had grimly forgiven him.
Homburg, Saarland, Germany.
AND SO IT was that Asa came upon the beast up on its hind legs, a foot-and-a-half taller than she was herself. Its sharp fangs were each as long as her little finger and the eyes glowed red and evil. From the depths of its throat the werewolf growled as it stared hungrily down at the brown-haired girl, pointed claws opening and closing in greedy anticipation, saliva dripping from its jaws.