Come closer. Take off your mask. No, wait… leave it on. I’d like to see who you’re pretending to be, or who you think you are. There’ll be time enough to find out who you really are later… much later. Like when you’ve seduced me to your bed, or lured me to my death, or… but wait! You’re not planning any of those things, are you? Why, you’re just frightened; hiding behind that rubber skin for fear of being mocked or hassled; or to blend in. Well now, let’s peek at who you really are, shall we? Oh… Oh, it’s you?! But I thought–
22 short stories with one common theme; masks.
From the editor Steve Dillon:
"So, why masks? I’ve always been a lover of masks and have collected them and worn them for as long as I can recall. One of my school paintings was a self-portrait which, having completed it and deemed it too ugly, I painted a clown-mask over the top of it. Whether or not that resonates with readers of this introduction, I think it’s safe to suggest we all use masks of one sort or another, both to protect us from ourselves, as well as to prevent our detection by others, or project a different image of who we are. We hide behind them, gain strength and courage from them, deflect judgement with their use so we can ‘fit in,’ and so on. "For this anthology, I hoped for memorable, dark, frightening stories. Tales of psychological or supernatural horror with a mask of some sort that was central to the story. I’d originally thought of theatrical masks, or clowns such as Jimmy Stewart’s character Buttons in ‘The Greatest Show on Earth.’ But, of course, masks can also be devised using cosmetic surgery, whether that’s to hide behind, or for transformation, beautification or gender-identification. Masks are also used extensively in role-play, acting, disguise, and as part of a concealment by religious or traditional costume. Without offering any spoilers here, this anthology contains great examples of each of the above types of masks, and some I hadn’t even considered… enjoy!"