The Horror of the Heights by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1913 Strand Magazine)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror January 5, 2016
“There are jungles in the upper air, and there are worse things than tigers which inhabit them …”
A blood-soaked notebook, air jungles, and air serpents. Imagine if you will that you are living in the early 1900s. You are an aeronaut, passionate and adventurous, desiring to travel into the glorious sky as high as possible … above 30,000 feet where few pilots have soared. And you do it in a monoplane, inside an open cockpit.
There are reports of other pilots who have tried such feats. Pilot Baxter attempted it and mysteriously vanished. Pilot Harry Hay Connor was said to have achieved the 30,0000 feet but died of fright muttering his last word … “monsters.” And Aviator Myrtle literally lost his head in the heroic effort.
Imagine you are the pilot Mr. Joyce-Armstrong and take off on a cloudy day with clear intention of reaching 40,000 feet. During your flight you record all your observations, as they happen, in a notebook, which—should you meet your death or worse—will explain the mysteries that hover at 40,000 feet above a wide corner of England.
A.C. Doyle probably didn’t know he was writing what we today term “found fiction.” The film industry made this genre term popular as “found footage” and is defined as ‘a plot device in pseudo-documentaries in which all or part of a fictional film is presented as if it were discovered footage or recordings.”
Horror of the Heights is a short story told via Mr. Joyce-Armstrong’s blood-soaked notebook found in a field, one mile to the west of the village of Withyham, upon the Kent and Sussex border in England. On a warm September day, Joyce-Armstrong takes flight “under the hush and heaviness of impending rain.” His mission takes a shocking turn … or should I say leap?
[Illustrations by W.R.S. Stott in The Strand Magazine 1913.
Read the short story at ForgottenFutures.com.
Read text and listen along to the story at Etc.usf.edu/lit2go/19/tales-of-terror-and-mystery
Listen to the Librivox Audio at YouTube.com
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote more than just detective fiction (60 Sherlock Holmes stories), some 200 novels and short stories. (A.C. Doyle official website) If you are a Sherlock fan and watch PBS, you no doubt are addicted to the critically-acclaimed Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the currently PBS broadcast by Masterpiece, the Victorian “The Abominable Bride” starring same performers and what a show it is! I loved it. The show repeats on January 10 at 10 pm in the northeast USA but check your local PBS station for other times for that weekend.
The Abominable Bride on Masterpiece from PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/programs/features/live-stream/sherlock-abominable-bride/
Sherlock, the PBS Series:
[All images are posted for commentary and review purposes only.]
Here’s a bonus: Mark Gatiss’ Ghost Story: Sherlock‘s writer and actor Mark Gatiss (Mycroft), in which he describes his own real-life ghost story. Listen to the PODCAST HERE (3.40 minutes).
Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery and supernatural. Join me in reading one short story a week! Comments are welcome.
Other Reading Web Sites to Visit
For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed