I'm searching for a short story. It was in one of Ellen Datlow's yearly anthologies of Fantasy and Horror, and is definitely pre-1995. The story is about a man going out to a house he's thinking of buying and he ends up trapped in the room. I want to grab the anthology without having to buy all the ones pre-1995.

  • 1
    You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add. Specifically, any names or phrases you can recall from the story would be very useful.
    – Valorum
    Jun 21 at 22:35
  • If you're convinced that it's pre-1995, then that limits it to the first seven or eight The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror anthologies.
    – Valorum
    Jun 21 at 22:44
  • To follow up, if you look up The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror on ISFDb you can click through to each one and see the list of stories in it; you might be able to recognize the title (or another one you read at the same time).
    – DavidW
    Jun 21 at 22:47
  • Thanks, everyone. Scouring the story titles from the appropriate anthologies now!
    – kollos
    Jun 21 at 23:04
  • 1
    I have volumes 3 to 9 of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, if that's the series you are thinking of. I had a quick look through but didn't see a match, though they are huge books and I may simply have missed the story. Are there any other details you can remember that might help find the story? Names of characters or memorable incidents from the story? Jun 22 at 7:15

2 Answers 2


If you misremembered the anthology it could Blind Man's Buff by H. Russell Wakefield. This is an old story, written in 1929, but it has been anthologised dozens of times over the years. I read it in 65 Great Spine Chillers from 1982.

Lorn Manor was embedded half-way up a Chiltern spur and, as the agent had observed, ‘commanded extensive vistas’. The place looked its age, Mr Cort decided, or rather ages, for the double Georgian brick chimneys warred with the Queen Anne left front. He could just make out the date, 1703, at the base of the nearest chimney. All that wing must have been added later. ‘Big place, marvellous bargain at seven thousand; can’t understand it. How those windows with their little curved eyebrows seem to frown down on one!’ And then he turned and examined the ‘vistas’. The trees were tinted exquisitely to an uncertain glory as the great red sinking sun flashed its rays on their crystal mantle. The Vale of Aylesbury was drowsing beneath a slowly deepening shroud of mist. Above it the hills, their crests rounded and shaded by silver and rose coppices, seemed to have set in them great smoky eyes of flame where the last rays burned in them.

When Mr. Cort enters the house the door swings shut behind and he is left in total darkness. He tries to feel his way out but gets increasing panicked:

At last he stumbled against something, the chair—and something touched him as it slipped past. And then he ran screaming round the room; and suddenly his screams slashed back at him, for he was in a little narrow passage.

The story ends:

"Now, Mr Runt," said the coroner, "you say you heard screaming coming from the direction of the Manor. Why didn"t you go to find out what was the matter?"

"None of us chaps goes to Manor after sundown," said Mr Runt.

"Oh, I know there"s some absurd superstition about the house; but you haven"t answered the question. There were screams, obviously coming from someone who wanted help. Why didn"t you go to see what was the matter, instead of running away?"

"None of us chaps goes to Manor after sundown," said Mr Runt.

"Don"t fence with the question. Let me remind you that the doctor said Mr Cort must have had a seizure of some kind, but that had help been quickly forthcoming, his life might have been saved. Do you mean to tell me that, even if you had known this, you would still have acted in so cowardly a way?"

Mr Runt fixed his eyes on the ground and fingered his cap.

"None of us chaps goes to Manor after sundown," he repeated.

  • This might be it! Thank you so much. I could have sworn it was in a Datlow anthology, but it was a very long time ago. I'll pick up something it's in to find out.
    – kollos
    Jun 26 at 22:05
  • @kollos It's available in The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century Ghost Stories page 120, and also 65 Great Spine Chillers page 611. Jun 27 at 15:35
  • Thank you! I've ordered a used copy of the Oxford book.
    – kollos
    Jun 28 at 17:47
  • And thanks to you I've also found the anthology I originally read it in. Ghosts: A Treasury of Chilling Tales Old and New, edited by Marvin Kaye and Saralee Kaye. I remembered the cover had Edward Gorey art on it and found the right one. :)
    – kollos
    Jun 28 at 17:58

There's a Heinlein story "—And He Built a Crooked House" that matches, except that I can't find it ever having being collected in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, especially since it was first published in 1941, while that series started in the late '80s.

In the story, an architect has built a house that is a 3D projection of a tesseract (a 4D cube-equivalent). The night before the house is shown to the prospective owner, there's an earthquake, causing the house to collapse into a 4D object, projected in 3D as just a single cube.

Inside the house, they find that the stairway loops back on itself; if you go up far enough, you come back from the basement. While the outside looks like just a single cube, the inside still has different rooms. All windows show different vistas from what would be expected: a desert, an empty void, New York from the top of the Empire State Building.

Once inside, the door outside is missing. I think the door they came in through, just opens into another room.

Another earthquake happens and the party (the architect, and the couple that commissioned the house) jumps out of the window overlooking the desert, only to find themselves in Joshua National Park.

When they return to the house, they find it has collapsed into another dimension, leaving just the foundations.

  • 1
    Thank you, but definitely not it. This story was much simpler. Just one man in one room of a seemingly ordinary house. The Heinlein story sounds fascinating though.
    – kollos
    Jun 22 at 21:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.