Monthly Archives: April 2013

“Run! Run! It is after me.”

The Haunters and the Haunted  by Edward Bulwer-Lytton  (1859)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 30, 2013

“The house is haunted; and the old woman who kept it was found dead in her bed with her eyes wide open. They say the devil strangled her.”

Well, this is a provocative beginning to the story, isn’t it? Being strangled in your bed by the devil? I’ve had nightmares like that so this line really lured me in.

Our author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton was well known in the horror genre from the 1850s, but he also had a political career and wrote historical novels. Mary Shelley called him “a magnificent writer,” but he is probably one of the most neglected authors of our time. Some called him the British “Poe,” while other literary contemporaries at the time proclaimed him a terrible writer (he penned the much ridiculed “It was a dark and stormy night.”). I chose him because The Haunters and the Haunted is one of the earliest haunted house stories, immensely readable, suspenseful, and probably one of the first “psychic phenomena” stories at that time. And, the story carries a certain diabolical reverence.

The House and the Brain is the alternate title and important to note because this story hinges on the scientific elements of the human brain meshed with the spiritual elements. The narrator reporting theses events believes that apparitions or ghosts are not supernatural but within the laws of nature (“our nature” that is), the laws of nature that we do not fully understand yet.

Okay, so here we go. Our narrator decides to spend the night in this haunted house where the woman was strangled by the devil.  Does he in fact see a ghost? He does: “livid face, long drowned … bloated, bleached, sea-weed tangled in its dripping hair … shadows, malignant serpent eyes.”

Our calm and objective narrator explains that he believes there is a power that extends over the dead, over certain thoughts and memories that reside in the brain of the dead.  And this brain “is of immense power, that it can set matter into movement …”

Exactly what power is this? Are you ready for this material force and what it is capable of doing to our narrator … or should I say, do to you as the reader?

Listen … can you hear the sinister laughing in the dark chink of your brain?

This story is a must read for those of us who adore the classic ghost story that goes beyond the supernatural.

Read it here on Read Book Online:

http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/9478/

One more quick note. My second novel, The Dazzling Darkness, was just released April 27th by KDP on Amazon (ebook). Can I tempt you into taking a look at my own supernatural mystery? Click on the link:

The Dazzling Darkness by Paula Cappa on Amazon

http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, Hauntings, horror, occult, paranormal, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror

The Ghastly Horror of Elvesham

The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham  by H.G. Wells

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    April 23, 2013

“This way lies insanity!” I cried in my piping voice.

And what a cry of desperation this is. Our story opens with Edward George Eden, a healthy young man of ambition, strong in mind and body, struggling to make his way in the world. Edward meets a little old man with a wrinkled yellow face, dull grey eyes, shriveled lips, false teeth, and in poor health. His name is Egbert Elvesham.

H.G Wells is a master fiction writer (you know him from The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man). But this odd little shortie has all the elements of a tale of absolute terror. This story will give you such a shudder but not from atmospherics or ghoulish entities. This kind of terror is the ultimate terror: have you ever found yourself undeniably and utterly trapped?

Mr. Elvesham is childless, lonely, wealthy, and a philosopher. Having no heir to his fortune, Mr. Elvesham, for all his wisdom, makes Edward an offer. Wealth, house, copyrights, investments are tempting values, are they not? Edward, being a lonesome type himself, lacking status, and having no family as well, sees no reason to decline Mr. Elvesham’s kind and generous proposition to become heir to the philosopher.

“You cannot expect everything without some return,” Mr. Elvesham tells Edward.

And so this tidy agreement for Edward to inherit these achievements upon Elvesham’s imminent death is confirmed … until …

The withered hand of the philosopher’s fate strikes.

I just loved this story because it is so deliciously wicked! Read it here:

http://www.online-literature.com/wellshg/2870/

Are you afraid of the dark? I mean truly afraid of lurking darkness and shadows that shiver? Would you be willing to test out your courage in a haunted room? Spend the night with  H.G. Wells inside The Red Room.  Read this obscure shortie of his at Gutenberg.org.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/23218/23218-h/23218-h.htm

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Ghostly Little Romance, and Deadly

Sir  Edmund Orme  by Henry James (1891)  [Birth date April 15]

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,   April 16, 2013

If one were to look for a precise opposite of Henry James’ style of writing, we can look no further than Hemingway’s sharp and snappy prose. James writes long sentences with long clauses that have a mesmerizing quality that you might find glorious to sink into. We know James to write fiction a bit like a psychologist—more suggestive than direct— and that’s why some of us love his work because there’s so much to discover between the lines.

This short story, Sir Edmund Orme is not as famous as The Turn of the Screw, but this ghostly little romance moves along with high suspense and at the same time you can sink into the hypnotic prose of the narrator.

When seeing a ghost (in literature, that is), we are often excited that whoever has died still exists in some form of consciousness and  returns to haunt. But the horror of actually seeing a ghost dramatizes death as well as making it so mysterious that we often want to explore more. Our narrator, a dashing young man, is curious about such ghosts.

“The place is haunted, haunted!” I exulted in the word as if it stood for all I had ever dreamt of.

We meet him flirting with the lovely Charlotte Marden on a soft Sunday in November in Brighten. He falls in love with Charlotte. But Charlotte’s mother, Mrs. Marden, has “intuitions” that trouble her; she confesses these troubles to our narrator. Almost immediately, our narrator begins to “see” a ghost.

Is this ghost truly a relic of the dead …  or an experience of Mrs. Marden’s that infects our narrator? Or maybe some monstrosity from beyond?

Read it at East of the Web:

http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/EdmuOrme.shtml

And if you really want to read James’ absolute best ghost story, here’s the link to The Turn of the Screw at Read Book Online:

http://www.readbookonline.net/title/63/

Stop by next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.  Next week, H.G. Wells.

Drop me a LIKE or a comment if you enjoyed my introduction and Sir Edmund Orme.

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French Zombies, Anyone?

Was It A Dream? by Guy De Maupassant (188-s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 9, 2013

The drama factor in Was It A Dream is at the high end. And the chill factor, yeah, this one will get you.

There is something about De Maupassant’s writings that make me feel like I’m living the events with the character—a right-in-the-moment quality. And this story was written over a hundred years ago but it still delivers. De Maupassant was a best-selling author in his day; he wrote over 300 short stories and received much acclaim and praise.

The theme of this shortie is love and death. Such a combination cannot fail to affect with the skills of this author.

The story opens with the exclamation, “I had loved her madly!”  I dare you to stop reading.

By the fourth paragraph, tragedy strikes and our narrator laments his lost love. There is quite a lot of exclamation here, clear prose, a heavy dose of reality, and vivid descriptions that our author is known for—quite sensuous, I might add (Flaubert was De Maupassant’s mentor so of course there’s quite a bit of flair).

The central action of the story takes place in a cemetery. I will tell you, I’m not a zombie fan but these zombies are my kind of zombies! After reading this story, you won’t likely forget it.

Try this exhilarating short read, less than 2000 words at The Literary Gothic:

http://www.litgothic.com/Texts/maupassant_dream.html

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Next week’s Tale of Terror will by Henry James in honor of his birth date.

http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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Dreaming Dark and Deadly

The Leather Funnel by Arthur Conan Doyle  (1902)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 1, 2013

ACDoyleincloudsCartoon art from PUNCH of AC Doyle chained to his fictional creation, Holmes.

The Leather Funnel

Picture yourself in Paris, a house guest at the home of Lionel Dacre. The house, walled with grey tiles stained with lichens and mildew, has a library filled with books on magic and psychic matters, and what else …  eccentric items of display, specifically a large leather funnel, brass rimmed, black and discolored with faded letters—likely from the Middle Ages.

In The Leather Funnel, Dacre insists that his house guest sleep with the leather funnel by his head. This is based on the idea that we can receive important information through dreaming. Dacre tells his guest, “You are yourself a psychic subject—with nerves which respond readily to any impression.” Dacre believes this old funnel might enlighten the dreamer of its origin, use, and history.

The science of dreams is new to this house guest; doubts prevail, but he agrees to the experiment. So, after the smoldering firelight goes out, the supernatural dream begins.

I must tell you this dream is so frightening, that I couldn’t read fast enough. The tension and descriptions were so compelling that I had to slow down if I wanted to truly savor the images, the haunting fear, and what is the most grisly revelation.

Do you think dreams create supernatural events?

Read it here at East of the Web:

http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/LeaFun.shtml

Or listen to a podcast of the story on YouTube.com:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVC4JcnNg0M

Lovecraft’s Dreams in the Witch House is another you’ll find absolutely chilling as nightmares blur into reality (link is on this site in November’s blog).

 Stop by next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

Comments, please!

http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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