The Book of BloodEdit
This is the frame story for the entire Books of Blood series. A psychic researcher, Mary Florescu, has employed a quack medium named Simon McNeal to investigate a haunted house. Alone in an upstairs room, McNeal at first fakes visions, but then the ghosts really do come for him. They attack him and carve words in his flesh, and these words, claims the narrator, form the rest of the stories, stories written on a literal, living Book of Blood.
The Midnight Meat TrainEdit
A down-and-out man, Leon Kaufman, falls asleep on a New York subway train, only to wake up at a secret station beyond the end of the line. Kaufman encounters a man named Mahogany, who has killed and butchered several people and hung their bodies up on the train. Mahogany remarks that he will be forced to kill Kaufman to guard his secrets. Kaufman fights Mahogany and kills him in self-defense, but then the train doors open and strange malformed creatures board the train. The creatures eat the dead passengers, then force Kaufman to serve them as their new butcher, cutting out his tongue to ensure his silence. They tell Kaufman that Mahogany was getting old and could not do the job any longer, and that Kaufman now has a new career. It is also revealed that the creatures have also been the secret rulers of New York City for centuries. The police have always covered up for the creatures. Kaufman finds he now has lifetime employment.
A movie of the same name was released on August 1, 2008. The movie, for the most part, seems to follow the storyline of Barker's original design, minus the fact that the creatures themselves are described as having existed "Before the birth of any human, or longer" and it is the train conductor who tells him that he is now their new butcher.
The Yattering and JackEdit
Jack Polo is a gherkin importer who's haunted by a minor demon called the Yattering. This demon is commanded to haunt Jack by Beelzebub, the "Lord of the Flies", in retaliation for an ancestor of Jack's who did not fulfill his part of a deal he made with Hell. Despite its determined efforts to drive Jack mad, the Yattering is frustrated by his good cheer and apparent obliviousness. Unknown to the Yattering, Jack is well aware of the demon and what it is trying to accomplish. He purposely ignores the demon to frustrate it and to keep from going insane. Bound by the powers of Hell to stay in Jack's house until it succeeds, the Yattering subjects him to increasingly severe torments, killing his cats and terrorizing his family, but all fail. Eventually Jack tricks it into leaving the house and attacking him, and by violating the orders of its demonic masters, the Yattering becomes Jack's servant. Unusual for Barker's early work, this story is unabashedly comic. It was made into an episode of the horror anthology TV series Tales From The Darkside.
Pig Blood BluesEdit
A supernatural story set in a borstal. A former policeman named Redman, who starts working there, uncovers a deadly secret and a boy named Lacey is the centre of it. Lacey claims that a missing boy by the name of Henessey is actually there on the grounds of the facility, in the form of a ghost. As Redman unravels the mystery he finds that things are not what they seem and the giant pig in the sty located on the north end of the grounds is actually possessed by the soul of Henessey, who transferred his soul into the pig in order to live forever. "This is the state of the beast. ...to eat and be eaten."
Sex, Death and StarshineEdit
Terry Calloway is directing the William Shakespeare play Twelfth Night in a disused and failing theatre called The Elysium. The production is not going well, but Terry is in a distracted affair with his leading lady Viola, Diane Duvall. She was on a soap opera and is a wonderful blow, but, on the stage, is dreadful. A mysterious, rather theatrical man in a mask, Mr. Lichfield, tells him that his wife, Constantia, would have done better. However, aside from the problem of his wife being dead, Terry cannot replace Diane Duvall since her popularity would have such a positive effect on the show's publicity.
Days pass, and Terry worries about the play, but Mr. Lichfield reassures him.
Then, the day of the show Mr. Lichfield catches Terry and Diane in the middle of sex (and after an embarrassing moment for Terry in which he leaves) confronts her about her lack of "style" on the stage and states that his wife will play the role of Viola on the following day's opening night. Diane uncovers the face behind the mask and finds that Mr. Lichfield is actually the walking dead. Mr. Lichfield then kisses Diane and she slips into a coma. His wife is introduced as the new Viola while Diane is taken to intensive care. However, Diane returns later and finds Terry, stating that they need to "finish". After believing that Diane has recovered, Terry realises that she is in fact dead, while she is giving him fellatio. She finds out that he knows, and dispatches with him.
The play is performed to a packed house, however, once the performance is finished (and the blinding stage lights are extinguished), the actors realise that the audience were in fact ghosts and corpses in diverse states of decay. The former trustee, newly dead Tallulah, who had been stoking a fire during the production, burns the theatre down. Every living player in the production is killed.
The story ends with several of the actors and Terry joining Mr. Lichfield and Constantia on the road as ghost actors—as they've decided to devote their life, and death, to the art.
In the Hills, the CitiesEdit
Two gay men, Mick and Judd, go on a romantic but strained vacation in Yugoslavia. In an isolated rural area, there happens an astounding event: two entire cities, Popolac and Podujevo, create massive communal creatures by binding together the bodies of their citizens, with almost forty thousand people walking as the body of a single giant, as tall as a skyscraper. It's a ritual that occurs every ten years, but this time, things go wrong, and the Podujevo giant collapses, killing thirty-eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty five citizens horribly.
They come upon the smashed bodies of Podujevo and a ravine awash with blood, but at first do not see the City of Popolac walking behind nearby hills. Meanwhile, in shock, the entire population of Popolac goes mad, and in losing their individual minds actually become the giant they are strapped into. Popolac wanders the hills aimlessly. By nightfall many of the people who made up the giant die from exhaustion, but still it walks.
Mick and Judd are told the truth about the giants by a local man who tried to steal their car in order to catch up with Popolac and reason with it before it collapses and destroys the people who compose it. But they at first do not believe his story. They seek shelter at a remote farm, but Popolac blunders right into the farmhouse that night. Its giant foot kills Judd by accident. The elderly farm couple, who saw Popolac, go crazy with fear. Mick, seeing Popolac, goes insane too, but wants to join Popolac. He climbs up the tower of ropes and bodies, and is carried away as it walks into the hills to its fate.