Richard Matheson Best Short Stories 📚

Works of Richard Matheson, that were initially ignored, emerged late in his career. Three of his short stories were filmed together as ‘Trilogy of Terror’ in 1975.

Richard Matheson

American author and screenwriter (1926-2013)

Well-known for his interesting but unusual stories, Richard Matheson rightly earned his accolades in the world of literature. Often diving into the sci-fi or horror genres, Matheson ensured his books were relatable by making use of ordinary people and popular settings.

He began publishing his short stories in the1950s and carried on till around 2011. Added to this, he created over fifteen short story collections. Before he died at 87, he won several awards for his consistent literary contributions.

Born Of Man And Woman

Born Of Man And Woman’ is presented to readers as the internal journal of a deformed child chained to a wall in the basement by the parents. It is written in broken English because the child is poorly educated. The gender is also not indicated. The child often pulls its chain from the wall and observes the outside world through the basement window. One day, the child manages to sneak out with incredible difficulty.

While eavesdropping, the child is caught by the parents, returned to the basement, and fiercely beaten. On another occasion, it climbs to a small window and studies a little girl playing with other girls and boys. One of the little boys sees the child at the window, and again, it is beaten. As the story climaxes, Matheson reveals why the child’s parents treat it the way they do. The child is not human and possesses great strength. After another round of beating, the child revolts and plans to return to violence if it is abused again.

During an interview for Sci-Fi station, Richard Matheson stated that he could not remember what inspired him to write ‘Born Of Man And Woman.’ “I don’t recall what the circumstances were or how I got the idea for ‘Born of Man and Woman.’ I think I just wanted to write a story about what would happen to an average set of parents if they had a monstrosity for a child,” he said.

‘Born Of Man And Woman’ is a frightening story that is regarded as a classic. It appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction on July 1950.

Dress Of White Silk

‘Dress of White Silk’ was initially published on October 1951. It follows the narrative style that Richard Matheson first experimented with in ‘Born Of Man And Woman’ where the story is in broken English and from the perspective of a child. The unnamed child lives with her grandmother, who takes care of her after her mother dies. She has a friend named Mary Jane who lives across the street and comes over to play with her dolls and fire truck after lunch. The child loves her dead mother and would often creep into her room against her grandmother’s caution to sit on her bed and admire her thing and her picture that hung on the wall.

Things are not as they seem, though, as the family harbor a dark secret. During one of their play days, Mary Jane accuses the girl of lying about her mother, and she decides to take Mary Jane to her mother’s room while her grandmother naps. Mary Jane notices the sickly sweet smell from the box containing the girl’s mother’s white silk dress. The girl unlocks the box and brings out the dress Mary Jane insists is dirty with a red hole in it.

This comment angers the girl, and she pinches Mary Jane, then tells her to look at her mother’s picture and see how beautiful she used to be. Again, her friend insists her mother is not beautiful but has buck teeth and funny hands. The girl gets in a rage but remembers very little aside from the dress moving in her hands and voices coming from seemingly nowhere. After this episode, her grandmother locks her in her room, muttering “it has happened” repeatedly to herself. The girl says to herself that it doesn’t matter if her grandmother never lets her out of the room or feeds her because she’s filled up.

Button, Button

Arthur and Norma Lewis live in a substandard apartment and are becoming poorer daily. One evening, the husband and wife are offered a deal by a man named Mr. Steward. Shortly after they receive a box containing a button, Mr. Steward appears to tell them they would receive $50,000 if a button on the box they received was pushed, but someone they did not know would die.

Arthur and Norma wonder if Steward’s proposal is genuine and debate whether to press the button. Arthur finds the offer appalling, while Norma is intrigued and sees it as a quick way to make money. Eventually, she presses the button and receives a call that her husband is dead.

Norma Lewis calls Mr. Steward, panic-struck, accusing him of lying to her by saying no one she knew would die. The story ends with Mr. Steward asking if she knew her husband. If Norma knew her husband, she would have known that for him, even though they were in abject poverty, murdering someone else was never an option. 

‘Button, Button’ was originally published in 1970. In a documentary made during the adaptation of the book into a film, Matheson stated that the inspiration for the story came from his wife.

Blood Son

‘Blood Son’ is a short story initially published in 1951 and made into a movie in 2006. It focuses on a strange boy named Jules who wants nothing more than to become a vampire. One day, he watches the movie Dracula, and his obsession with being a vampire is born. When he finds the ‘Dracula’ book, he knows he cannot borrow it by himself, so he steals it. Eventually learning it by heart, he throws the book away and thinks about all he read.

For a school project, he writes and reads about his terrifying life ambition that frightens his teacher and classmates, who are already suspicious of his strange demeanor. He tells them he wants to become a vampire in the goriest fashion. Later, while wandering around yearning for something to do in life, he finds a vampire bat at a local zoo. He becomes excited and visits the zoo regularly. His obsession leads him to steal the vampire bat so he can turn into a vampire. Unfortunately, he gets second thoughts about his decision, but it is too late.

FAQs

Is there a movie created from ‘Button, Button’ novel?

Yes, there is. ‘The Box’ is an American science fiction created in 2009. The film was directed by Richard Kelly and starred actors like James Marsden and Cameron Diaz. They are the couple that receives a peculiar box from a stranger.

Why do the parents in ‘Born Of Man And Woman’ treat their child the way they do?

The parents in ‘Born Of Man And Woman’ are said to have about three children. They are religious and believe the child they lock up is given to them as a punishment from God. The deformed child is hidden because it is not entirely human.

What is ‘Blood Son’ about?

‘Blood Son’ is a short story authored by Richard Matheson. It is about a young boy who is obsessed with becoming a vampire. He steals Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ book and memorizes the entire story. His desire eventually leads him to capture a bat so he can turn himself into a vampire.

What narrative style does Richard Matheson employ in ‘Dress Of White Silk?’

‘Dress Of White Silk’ is narrated in the voice of a little girl. She is most likely uneducated as she uses wrong grammar, and there are no apostrophes in the contractions. This horror story is told, by Richard Matheson, in a compelling tone that keeps the reader captivated.

Fave Ehimwenma
About Fave Ehimwenma
Fave Ehimwenma is a proficient writer, researcher, and content creator whose love for art and books drives her passion for literature reviews.
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