Roddy Doyle, “Blood”

StoriesA man suddenly finds himself craving raw meat, the fresher the better.

(from Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio)

Nevertheless, he wanted to drink blood.


The badly was recent, and dreadful. The itch, the urge, the leaking tongue—it was absolutely dreadful.

He wasn’t sure when it had started. He was, though—he knew when he’d become aware.

-How d’you want your steak?


His wife had laughed. But he’d been telling her the truth. He wanted the slab of meat she was holding over the pan, raw and now—fuck the pan, it wasn’t needed. He could feel muscles holding him back, and other muscles fighting for him—neck muscles, jaw muscles.

Then he woke.

But he was awake already, still standing in the kitchen, looking at the steak, and looking forward to it.

The idea behind this pulpy collection is “pageturners” — compelling stories that get their hooks into you and push you to keep reading. It may surprise you how often “respectable” fiction eschews that element, taking for granted that a reader who starts will always stick it out to the end. So far so good: “Blood” is a compelling little horror yarn, an artful, cockeyed addition to the vampire (and werewolf, kind of) genre, though hardly a neat fit. Most importantly, it’s fun. I’d been wandering the Strand looking for something fun, a collection to help push me toward my 100-story goal [88 to go]. I think I found it. You can read this story — and most of Stories, I think — here. And you can listen to somebody reading the story aloud, here.

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