An anthology of original horror stories which purports to play down gore, ghosts, and ""the usual stable of monsters"" in favor of more Subtle and civilized chills. Though none of the 13 contributions is marred by the customary excesses of the genre, few pack more than a modest wallop. William Jon Watkins' ""Butcher's Thumb"" has a nice murderous idea about a hand getting itches of its own, but gets tangled up in an exceedingly tenuous sci-fi premise about the right and left brains. Stephen King's ""Nona,"" a cleverly designed sequence of bloodthirsty hauntings or hallucinations, is needlessly undercut by a ""framing"" ending which explains too much and nothing. More successful: Dennis Etchison's ""The Nighthawk"" (an unwilling were-bird, portrayed with elegant indirection); Michael Bishop's ""Mory"" (a latter-day Job confronts the Author of his misfortunes among the whirligig wonders of an amusement park); John Crowley's ""Where Spirits Gat Them Home"" (a momentarily opened escape-hatch to a lost Vermont Elysium). Among the lighter moments are Robert Bloch's new pact-with-the-devil wrinkle and one of R. A. Lafferty's wayward cakewalks involving an extremely audible ""psychic splinter."" Grant's introductions, written in a dismaying blurb-ese, are the only disfiguring note in an otherwise mild, likable collection.