Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Supernatural Visitant

Horror: A True Tale   by Anonymous (1861)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 25, 2014

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What if … you are sleeping alone in your bedroom, snug under your deep coverlets, and you wake suddenly feeling a wicked chill. A bit more heat in the room would do and you attempt to rise up and fetch your robe, which you had flung at the bottom of the bed upon retiring. Eyes half open, the dull darkness surrounds you as you spread your hands across the coverlet for the robe. You run your hand over the bed, searching, wondering where the heck it is. Open your eyes—the robe is suddenly handed to you by an unseen arm.

This is the kind of fear we love to read in stories. And this is exactly the kind of fear evoked in Horror: A True Tale. We all have these fears of someone, or some ghastly thing, invading the safety of our beds.

Meet the lovely Rose, a young woman of nineteen, living in the countryside with her sisters Lucy and Minnie and their father, a wealthy landlord.

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Their old Tudor mansion is full of turrets and gables and small chambers that the servants refuse to enter because of the dark deeds that history claims happened there.

Rose tells us of the festivities on a splendid Christmas Eve celebration at the mansion with guests regally dressed and chatting in the greatly decorated hall. The matriarch of the family attends, the rich Lady Speldhurst (think Downton Abbey).

“Lady Speldhurst … Her gray silk dress, her spotless lace, old-fashioned jewels, and prim neatness of array, were well suited to the intelligence of her face, with its thin lips, and eyes of a piercing black, undimmed by age. Those eyes made me uncomfortable … they followed my every movement with curious scrutiny.”

Lady Speldhurst is Rose’s godmother, and she plans on spending the night. Rose generously agrees to give up her most comfortable bedchamber for her godmother, and stay in a “disused chamber … which is called haunted … the green room … the sins it had witnessed, the blood spilled, the poison administered by unnatural hate within its walls.”

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Naturally Rose resists these ideas, and indeed resists the warnings of her godmother and sisters about staying in this closed up bedchamber. Until when, in the green room, after the hearth fires die down, Rose feels something malignant is near.

 

Author John Berwick Harwood wrote many ghost stories (many under Anonymous) and this short story is said to be his work. He also wrote The Underground Ghost, and The Painted Room at Blackston Manor.  Harwood’s elaborate descriptions  invite you into the scenery and action with a deep suspense. There is a bit of melodrama but it suits the elements without being obnoxious. Harwood wrote some twenty novels and several Christmas horror stories but I can’t find much of his work out there. What a pity because I’d love to read more. Do leave a comment of what you think of this little horror story.

 

Read Horror: A True Tale at ReadBookOnline.net

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, horror, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror

Old Murderess, Fledermausse

The Invisible Eye   by Erckmann-Chatrian (1850s)

Emile Erckmann and Louis-Alexandre Chatrian

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 18, 2014

Master Christian is a struggling and penniless artist who spends his days at his window creating paintings. His room overlooks the sprawling town of Nuremberg and an intimate view of the Boeuf-Gras Inn. One night Christian observes a man hanging from the crossbeams of the inn’s sign. Christian describes the victim …

“ … the hair disheveled, the arms stiff, the legs elongated to a point, and casting their gigantic shadows down to the street! The immobility of this figure under the moon’s rays was terrible. I felt my tongue freezing, my teeth clinched. I was about to cry out in terror when, by some incomprehensible mysterious attraction, my glance fell below, and I distinguished, confusedly, the old woman crouched at her window in the midst of dark shadows, and contemplating the dead man with an air of diabolic satisfaction.”

This old wretch is famous among the local folk for her hideous grimaces of pointed teeth, beady green eyes, puckered cheeks. She is known as Fledermausse, from whom all children flee and adults shun. Even societies of cats decline her company; not a single sparrow comes to rest under her roof.

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We soon learn that three victims have hung themselves on that the Inn’s crossbeam, and all three were occupants in the inn’s “Green Room.” Christian is convinced that Fledermousse is somehow responsible for their suicides. He suspects the old hag has  occult powers and is preparing another snare from her darkness.

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Christian follows Fledermausse for weeks. He must know what powers she possesses as she moves about town with a basket on her arm and then climbs up her stairway covered in old shells to her worm-eaten balcony. Then one night, Christian sees that the Green Room has a new occupant. He cannot sit idly by this time; he must act and act quickly if he is to save the innocent man who has entered the Green Room.

Will Christian succumb to Fledermausse’s evil powers?

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Read The Invisible Eye online at Gutenberg.org (Library of the World’s Best Mystery and Detective Stories).

Listen to the audio at Librivox 

300px-Erckmann-Chatrian_woodburytypeEmile Erckmann and Louis-Alexandre Chatrian

Hardly anyone reads these guys anymore. So, I figured it was time for a reminder. Known as “The Twins,” this famous French duo wrote many tales of the supernatural during the mid- to late-1800s. The Crab Spider, The Man-Wolf, The Wild Hunstman received much praise from M.R. James.  H.P. Lovecraft admired their work; Flaubert had nothing kind to say about them. Together they published 60 volumes of short stories, novels, and plays.

Some of their other titles you might like:  The Murderer’s Violin, The Owls’s Ear, The Three Souls, The Child Stealer.  I found The Owl’s Ear to be an especially creepy and suspenseful read. You can listen to The Owl’s Ear at Librivox.

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications   The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

 

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, horror, occult, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, witches

Dreaming Little Traps of Horror

Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel   by Thomas Ligotti  (2005)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 11, 2014

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Have you been watching Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective on HBO? thomas-ligotti Pizzolatto says in an interview with The Arkham Digest  that “the work and vision of Thomas Ligotti was very influential for imagining Cohle’s (Rustin Cohle) overall worldview.” Cohle is a nihilistic and hypnotic character in this compelling crime and horror series. If you became mesmerized watching True Detective as I have, you will likely enjoy the short stories of Thomas Ligotti. His prose is luscious and the philosophy of horror one of the darkest you’ll experience. And while Ligotti is not a classic dead author as I normally feature here, I felt stimulated this week at the conclusion of True Detective to read one of Ligotti’s shorts.

Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel is about angels and demons with a dash of Gnostic theology. Add nightmares and the power of evil (favorite elements of my reading and in my own writing) and you’ve got a story intense with horror.

A young boy suffering from nightmares is brought to the long-widowed and witchy Mrs. Rinaldi for her curative methods.

“Do you know what dreams are?” she asked quietly, and then immediately began to answer her own question. “They are parasites-maggots of the mind and soul, feeding on the mind and soul as ordinary maggots feed on the body. And their feeding on the mind and soul in turn gnaws away at the body, which in turn again affects the mind and the soul, and so on until death.”

Until death. Makes one wonder if you could literally die inside of a nightmare … and then what? Does the nightmare triumph in the end? This young boy’s bodiless nocturnal adventures are not to be missed as you go with him into the blackness of old time.

Read Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel at Ligotti.net

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In keeping with today’s dream themes and for my classic horror fans …

HOUSENightmares5642762The House of the Nightmare  by Edward Lucas White (1906)

Edward Lucas White wrote stories based on his own nightmares. This story is more than fantasy or a writer’s imagination. Our narrator is a traveler in the countryside when the image of a white stone catches his eye and he crashes his motorcar. He is knocked out and awakens to find a young boy with a hideous harelip, staring intensely at him. He spends the night inside the boy’s house and drops into a nightmare.

“It had a hot, slobbering, red mouth, full of big tusks, and its jaws worked hungrily. It shuffled and hunched itself forward, inch by inch, till its vast forelegs straddled the bed.

This story will remind you of being a little kid, alone in your darkened room, afraid of the monster under the bed. White’s most famous short story collections are Lukundoo and Song of the Sirens

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Read The House of the Nightmare at Gaslight.mtroyal.ca

Listen to the audio at Librivox Recordings

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TRUE DETECTIVE LINKS YOU  MIGHT LIKE

 WSJ blog:  http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2014/02/02/writer-nic-pizzolatto-on-thomas-ligotti-and-the-weird-secrets-of-true-detective/

Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/allenstjohn/2014/03/09/six-things-to-watch-for-in-the-true-detective-finale/

HBO: http://www.hbo.com/true-detective#/

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2356777/

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 HorrorSociety.com  

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications   The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

 

Art is by William Blake, Red Dragon

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Filed under demons, Dreams, fiction, horror, Night Sea Journey, Nightmares, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales, witches

Evil Eyes From India

The Realm of the Unreal  by Ambrose Bierce

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 4, 2014

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Our story begins with two men, Mr. Manrich and Dr. Dorrimore who is from India. The doctor is a Hindu juggler. Hindu jugglers are famous for swallowing fire and swords, charming snakes, and especially their disappearing acts. Chemistry, optics, psychology, and magnetism all play their roles. Dr. Dorrimore’s skills are quite exceptional and if you stumbled upon the good doctor on a dark night in a chill fog, you might feel unsettled sitting next to him.

Manrich begins his narrative with his traveling by horse and buggy to Newcastle  …

“The hills are wooded, the course of the ravine is sinuous. In a dark night careful driving is required in order not to go off into the water. The night that I have in memory was dark, the creek a torrent, swollen by a recent storm…. Suddenly I saw a man almost under the animal’s nose, and reined in with a jerk that came near setting the creature upon its haunches.”

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Manrich claims this is not a love story, and it is not. He is engaged to the lovely Miss Curray. But after he sees Dr. Dorrimore with Miss Corray, the juggler performs his most sinister performance in an abandoned cemetery.

Come meet thaumaturgist, Dr. Dorrimore.

The mysteriousness of this story has high suspense with disappearances and shocking presences to test any man’s sanity. I found  these themes to parallel the mysteriousness of the author’s death. Historical accounts are that Ambrose Bierce disappeared in 1914 without a trace after crossing the border into Mexico. Theories abound of his being killed in the war to committing suicide, or, as one theory fictionalized: Bierce is a wizard and still alive trapped in another world … or realm. You can read about these theories concerning his death at Biercephile.com

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As to me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination.
— The last line of the last letter from Ambrose Bierce,
December 26, 1913

Read The Realm of the Unreal at Online Literature.com.

Listen to the audio at Librivox Recording

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications

The Fussy Librarian

 For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

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Filed under fiction, horror, occult, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales