Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Haunted North Crag at the Sea

The Strange High House in the Mist  (1931)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  June 25, 2013

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In the morning mist comes up from the sea by the cliffs beyond Kingsport. White and feathery it comes from the deep to its brothers the clouds, full of dreams of dank pastures and caves of leviathan.

Where are we? Come in a little closer …

In still summer rains on the steep roofs of poets, the clouds scatter bits of those dreams, that men shall not live without rumour of old, strange secrets, and wonders that planets tell planets alone in the night.

If you didn’t recognize this deep and delicious opening, we are in H.P. Lovecraft’s world. Can you feel the mystical whiteness surround you? Something mythical is floating in.  Look up at the ancient grey low-eaved house high on a sinister north crag. A nameless hermit dwells there—as the story goes—an Elder “One” who talks with the morning mists. Tales of fierce lightning shooting from the house and terrible shapes that flapped out of the mists haunt the little town of Kingsport. No one dares to ascend the cliff to the house perched on the rim of the earth with no path above the sea. The sea-folk often speak of the house’s gray peaked roof and the dim yellow lights that sometimes emit from the small windows.

Maybe, like me, you’re tempted to visit this strange house in the mists? What kind of creature could possibly live there? Man? Beast? Mighty One?

One summer, Thomas Olney, a philosopher comes to Kingsport and becomes more than just curious about the strange high house and the sea-folks’ rumours of old. What secrets are there? For Thomas, the high cliffs call him from cryptic ethers with bells sounding and wild cries. He decides he must go to the mountaintop. His climb is slow and perilous through caves, pathless woods, and a great chasm until he finds the grey cottage standing bold in the seaward vapors.

The bricks of the house are crumbling; the shingles are worm-eaten. No door on the landward side—only lattice windows. Thomas stands on the narrow rim of the cliff among the clouds and chaos. The sea’s mist thickens at thousands of feet above the thrashing waves. Poor Thomas, alone in the frightful sky, clinging to the cottage wall, wind bracing his face, he peers into the leaded bull’s eye windowpane. A halting sound strikes him with terror.

To find out what happens to Thomas Olney (and it’s quite a fantastical ride that you won’t want to miss, as only Lovecraft would deliver), you can read it here at HPLovecraft.com (short read at 3800 words).

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/shh.aspx

Here’s a cool commentary by Chris Lackey and Chadd Fiffer at HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast; the posted comments are interesting interpretations. Stop by.

http://hppodcraft.com/2010/07/14/episode-49-the-strange-high-house-in-the-mist/

As to this amazing house on the crag, did the art catch your eye? It certainly captured mine. This art titled The High House in the Mist is compliments of award-winning artist Armand Cabrera. You can view his profile and web site below. Stop by his very popular blog site: ArtAndInfluence.blogspot.com

http://www.armandcabrera.com/profile.html

www.armandcabrera.com/illustration

Artwork by Armand Cabrera © 2013 All rights reserved.

 

If you have any thoughts about Lovecraft’s ending or the meaning of this story, I’d love to hear it. Please drop a line or comment.

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

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Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, ghost stories, horror, Lovecraft, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales

That Other Evil

The Return of Andrew Bentley  by August W. Derleth and Mark Schorer (1933)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   June 18, 2013

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May I invite you in … to listen. Can you hear the peet peet from the nighthawk? Can you recognize the gasping and gurgling cries from the river? What’s that movement in the shadowy distance of the trees? A caped, dark and hunched creature flattens itself against the vaulted doors of your uncle’s gravesite. Gleaming white fingers spread out.

You dash to your uncle’s vault. Who would dare tamper with the dead? Who!

Uncle Amos is a dabbler of the dark arts and a believer … of evil demons lured to earth by man’s ignorance, of souls isolated in space, and of an ever-present evil wrath. Uncle Amos lives in the rustic village of Sac Prairie, in an old homestead on the banks of the Wisconsin River, until his sudden death, at which time his nephew, Ellis, inherits house and properties—and must agree to the old man’s single demand.

Uncle Amos instructs Ellis, “Let no day go by during which you do not examine the vault behind the house. My body will lie there, and the vault will be sealed. If at any time you discover that someone has been tampering, you will find written instructions for your further procedure in my library desk.”

Written instructions. This is where it really gets good. The Return of Andrew Bentley is not just a ghost story as you might expect. This is quite a thrilling story with young Ellis struggling to protect his dead uncle’s body, maintain his own sanity and safety, and avoid dipping himself into the blackest of arts.

I wish I could provide you with a direct link to the actual short story, but I could not locate a single online read anywhere, which means the copyright is not in public domain.

I did locate a video from Boris Karloff’s Thriller Theater made in 1961, vintage black-and-white and with a bit of melodrama that is so charming of that time, complete with sinister organ music. The script is written by the talented and famous Richard Matheson. And you might enjoy some of the amazing outdoor photography with horse and carriage scenes.

If you want to read this short story (I found my copy in an old anthology from 1941), 25 Modern Stories of Mystery and Imagination, Editor Phil Stong, Garden City Publishing Co., Inc. The story is also in Famous Ghost Stories by Editor Christopher Cerf, published by Vintage NY.  Both books are on AbeBooks.com or try your local library.

Watch the video here at Karloff’s Thriller Theater:

http://archive.org/details/KarloffThriller

And I found this commentary by Peter Enfantino and John Scoleri that might be an interesting addition to your evening with The Return of Andrew Bentley.

http://athrilleraday.blogspot.com/2010/10/return-of-andrew-bentley-season-2.html

A quick word about the author August Derleth who collaborated with Mark Schorer to write this shortie. Derleth, a prolific and versatile writer (over 3000 works published in 350 magazines) co-founded  Arkham House, publisher of Lovecraft’s stories, Blackwood’s and others. Some of his literary influences were not only Lovecraft but also Thoreau, Emerson, A.C. Doyle, and Robert Frost. Derleth invented the term “Cthulhu Mythos” for Lovecraft’s fictional universe.

Art Credit: A Thriller A Day Blogspot.

NOTE:  Just in case you missed this announcement, my supernatural novel, The Dazzling Darkness won Joel Friedlander’s Ebook Cover Award for Fiction, cover designer Gina Casey. Many thanks to  Gina for an award-winning cover.

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2013/06/e-book-cover-design-awards-may-2013/

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

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Filed under demons, fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, graveyards, horror, occult, phantoms, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales

The Dazzling Darkness Wins Book Cover Award

Book designer GINA CASEY wins  Joel Friedlander’s Book Cover Design Competition for her design of  The Dazzling Darkness. Please take a look at Friedlander’s web site and join this celebration by leaving a comment for Gina Casey at bottom of site.

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2013/06/e-book-cover-design-awards-may-2013/

ECA-Fiction-May-2013-plaque

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Of Rats and Men

The Graveyard Rats  by Henry Kuttner (1936)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   June 11, 2013

We are in witch-haunted Salem, in a most dark and neglected cemetery. Our host is Old Masson the caretaker. Rats! Rats! Rats! And of extraordinary size, scabrous, ragged whiskers, fanged with dull orange teeth and claws that … well, need I say more?

While greed is a pretty ugly characteristic in most fictional characters, our dear Old Masson’s greed is nothing compared to what these rats are capable of doing to the dead lying in their coffins. And when Old Masson finds this shoe, a shoe that … I can’t say anymore.

Want shivers? Want chills? How are you with subterranean evil?

The Graveyard Rats was Henry Kuttner’s first publication in 1936 in Weird Tales. His fame soared with The Secret of Kralitz, The Eater of Souls, The Salem Horror. Today Kuttner is a forgotten author of horror/sci-fi. He wrote under various pen names with his wife C.L. Moore. If you’re fond of Lovecraftian horror, this one has all the elements. Kuttner corresponded with Lovecraft about his stories, so the inspiration is first hand.

And after reading this tale of terror, if you still want more, The Salem Horror will satisfy your hunger for horror.

Read The Graveyard Rats at WikiSource:

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Graveyard_Rats

Read The Salem Horror at  http://www.donaldcorrell.com/kuttner/shorror.html

Want audio? I love being read to. How about The Secret of Kralitz? (YouTube 18-minute narration) A haunted house, family curse, mad laughter,  and the chill gleam of evil.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AMV0K7QqBA

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Filed under fiction, graveyards, Henry Kuttner, horror, literature, mysteries, short stories, suspense, tales of terror, weird tales

Watching A Dead Body in White Linen

A Dead Body  by Anton Chekhov (1886)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  June 4, 2013

How many stories have you read where the dead body is the main character? This short-short (really a snapshot of a moment in fiction, a 15-minute read) by Chekhov is probably not one his most praised pieces of work. We know Chekhov for his brilliant plays, for his literary and spiritual intelligence, but he’s not well known for his tales of terror. Most would be surprised to hear that his first short story sold to Dragonfly in 1880; thus began his career as a crime and mystery writer.

I liked A Dead Body because the story does not really “develop” for the reader, but more “envelopes” the reader. It’s highly mysterious and a puzzle that still haunts me with its drama and symbolism. In fact, everything here is emblematic and makes for a fascinating attempt to draw connections. Dan Brown could learn something from Chekhov’s subtle and elusive prose.

The scene opens on an August night in the misty forest. A dead man is shrouded  in white linen on the ground. A wooden cross is upon his chest. Two peasant men are sitting by “watching.”  One man is smart. The other man, Syoma, is not so smart and doesn’t really understand; he is told to “Think!”

There is perfect stillness.

There is sleepiness.  A small camp fire is burning down. There is mention of an owl … a crane … three minutes … three days. A soul.

The “watch” is silent.

And then a stranger in a monk’s cassock, a pilgrim, comes by. There is talk of outer darkness, murder, and suicide. There is an offer of money, five kopecks. The monk makes a movement of five steps.

There is the fear of the dead.

Chekhov weaves us into a moment of pure suspension. Don’t miss it because the ending will cause you to say, What? What happened here? Typical of Chekhovian endings, which often just suddenly stop or hit you with the unexpected. In fact, the absolute last image still has me captured … as it will you.

Take fifteen minutes to read this story that is likely a forgotten and puzzling tale. And if you have any insight as to the meaning of the last line, do post your thoughts in the Comments. I’m starving for opinions on this one!

Read the full text at The Literature Network

http://www.online-literature.com/anton_chekhov/1134/

 http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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Filed under Anton Chekhov, fiction, literature, mysteries, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales