A man is repeatedly abducted by the same aliens. A woman metamorphoses into a giant bird. A man and woman are surgically joined to each other. A man experiences the difficulties of remodeling a haunted house. A woman repeatedly drives her boyfriend to the brink of suicide. A man encounters a prehistoric beast in his backyard. A young couple kidnaps little children to supplement their income. A man searches for his evil twin.
These are the types of situations the characters in Essential Stories routinely find themselves in. A man reminisces about the time his town was invaded by zombies. A woman is frustrated with her discount-store clone. A man and woman rent an apartment to a vampire. A man is seduced by a beautiful witch. A woman reveals the strange secret of her everlasting youth. A hitch-hiker accepts a ride from an alien. An artist's statues come to life. A man relates the conditions of his imprisonment. A man and woman visit an alternate universe. The last man and woman on Earth are ambivalent about having children.
The stories are occasionally silly, often tongue-in-cheek, usually outlandish, and sometimes poignant. Told in a straightforward matter-of-fact style, they show how ordinary people react to extraordinary events.