Category Archives: Dreams

Do You Believe in the Mysterious?

‘It’s night.

It has been night for a long time. Hours pass— yet it’s the same hour. I can’t sleep.

My mind is fractured like broken glass. Or a broken mirror, shards reflecting shards. I am incapable of thinking but only of receiving, like a fine-meshed net strung tight, mere glimmerings of thought. Teasing fragments of “memory”—or is it “invented memory”?—rise and turn and fall and sift and scatter and rearrange themselves into arabesques of patterns on the verge of becoming coherent, yet do not become coherent.’

Want to read more? This is from Joyce Carol Oates’ blog Celestial Timepiece.

https://celestialtimepiece.com/2017/04/09/the-collector-of-hearts-new-tales-of-the-grotesque/

 

This is her latest collection of short stories. Twenty-five Gothic horror tales.

 

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“We work in the dark—we do what we can—we give what we have.

Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”  

Henry James.  This quote hangs above Oates’ writing desk.

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Filed under dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, occult, psychological horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

Smoke Is Fatal to Evil Spirits

March 13, 2017

Ancient wisdom tells us that smoke is fatal to evil spirits. Have you ever burned sage to drive away negative energies? Ever burned the blooms of a Smoke Tree?  The flame flies in wild circles. The scent, sweet and spicy. Christians burn incense to purify churches and altars; they scatter the smoke in all directions, hence the expression ‘holy smoke.’ Capnomancy is form of divination, a reading of the shapes of smoke as a sign of what will happen soon. I love candlelight and bonfires, watching the smoke curl into haunting shapes, light-winged, like an Icarian bird or …

 

Or like a firehawk …

 

Let’s get dreamy for a moment. Henry David Thoreau said “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”

Come with me. Move into sleep, as through a veil. Let the dream do its dreaming.

Enter into a night journey where airy Smoke Trees grow.

Sit down beneath the fluffy grayish puff-blooms. Rest on their vanishing shadows.

Are you breathing a bit of smoke yet? Inhale the alluring scent and let it take you into the beyond.

In the distance is a cemetery garden. Do you see it?

Curling grass, ferns and flowers, flights of hawks are soaring.

 

 

The weight of the air is suddenly cool and white.  A strange woman is walking the paths. Will you follow her through the Smoke Trees?

 

 

Kip Livingston carried a jar of sea lavender through the cemetery paths high above the sea. Raymond Kera followed but kept several paces behind. Some of the headstones were scoured white from salt winds. Smoke trees interrupted the skyline with their frothy grey plumes and deep purple leaves—must have been twenty of them among the graves. Raymond remembered smoke trees from childhood when he was sent to stay with his aunt in upstate New York for a month. He had been permitted to pluck one bloom and spent the morning blowing away the seed heads one at a time. As they floated off, he saw them as little angel ghosts with glowing heads. He had chased the smokey ghosts all the way to the street, giving his aunt the scare of her life.

Just at that moment, he desired to yank down a plume and do the same. Ridiculous, but tempting.

He watched Kip approach a headstone and place the lavender on the grass right under the engraved name  of her grandfather Achab David Ze’leim. She stood there all soft and flowing in her summer dress with the dull sun at her back. Her lips moved slowly; she fingered her necklace, cast her eyes down to the earth, tucked her head as if listening. Then suddenly her hand swung down like a broken paw.

Giving her plenty of privacy, Raymond sat on a nearby bench. He let the puffs of the smoke trees soothe him. He might have closed his eyes, if only to escape all of what happened that morning. That claw. Did she dismember the demon? Or was it another illusion? Or another dream of her evil firehawk?  Are her dreams so powerful that when she opens her eyes, when she becomes awake, the images are realized?

Kip waved him over. “I was thinking of Aunt Agatha, just now.”

“Is she buried here too?”

“Her ashes are buried in the garden at Abasteron House. Aunt Agatha was the sweetest woman. She wanted to tell me the secret. But she said it would frighten me. So, she took it with her to her grave.”

“A family secret?”

“I don’t know. Admitting you even have a secret half reveals it, don’t you think?”

Kip slipped her hand into the crux of Ray’s arm and hung on to rest her face on his shoulder. “Grandfather died bravely, you know. He walked the beach every day at noon, even up to the last week he died. He especially loved the winter sun.”

Raymond gave a nod to be polite. Achab David Ze’leim’s headstone was a massive hewn square rock with a lion claw as a mounting at each corner. Simple lettering. Name, dates, and the old man’s last words: Every word emanating from God creates an angel.

“You think that’s true, Kip?”

“What?”

He pointed to the epitaph.

“Why not? It’s from the Talmud. You believe in angels, don’t you, Ray?”

“I do.”

“And demons?”

“You mean your demon?”

“It’s not my demon, Ray.”

“Well, it’s your dream.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Then whose dream is it?”

She looked away. “The dream is dreaming itself.”

“Why would you think that?” Thunder rolled over the smoke trees. The puffs on the trees didn’t look so angelic just then—more like dried up cobwebs about to crack.

Kip answered after a moment. “Grandfather.”

 

 

Come into the Night Sea Journey with Kip and Raymond. Walk among the cemetery smoke trees. Angels. Demons. Be awake in the dream as it dreams itself into reality.

An Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner, 2015.

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U.S. REVIEW OF BOOKS  “Stunning and absorbing plot on par with, if not better than, a Dan Brown novel.”

SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW ★★★★★ “NIGHT SEA JOURNEY is like reading a Dan Brown book with a wicked twist: it has real demons. Readers will be taken on a continual thrill ride, impossible to put down, a fast-paced thriller.”

READERS’ FAVORITE REVIEWS ★★★★★ “Marvelous, atmospheric and, oh, so very, very good. Profound, vibrant, and intensely moving. Highly recommended. Brava!”

Published by Crispin Books

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Filed under Book Reviews, dark fantasy, demons, Dreams, fiction, haunted mind, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, mysteries, Night Sea Journey, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

Ashes and Cold Light

Wives of the Dead   by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1832)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 6, 2015

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On the verge of evening, in a rainy twilight, two sisters are united by the dead. They live in their homestead in Bay Province, Massachusetts. We are in the parlor of these two women who have just learned that their husbands have been killed on the same single day—one a seaman, the other a landsman.  Mary’s heartbreak is quite different from the feverish Margaret’s reaction. After the mourners leave them to retire for the night, and under the pall of sleep, these two widows discover another reality. There is a fierce knocking at the door, and Margaret is the first to arise and greet her middle-of-the-night caller.

 

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I found the repeated mention of “light” to be significant elements in the story: “placing a lighted lamp upon the hearth” … “the cold light of the lamp threw shadows” …. “the lighted sorrows” … “dim light of the chamber.” Darkness (“a deluge of darkness overwhelmed”) is directly mentioned only once, but suggested in other places. If you are an avid reader of Hawthorne, you know every single word is weighted with precise telling.

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Mysteries demand a solution. This mystery of atmosphere and grief goes beyond any ghosts or imaginations. Hawthorne was highly skilled at creating a “waking reality” in his stories (The Haunted Mind). In Wives of the Dead, he suspends us between reality and unreality. And he shrouds the reality, so we must think again. You may find this ending ambiguous. Some fictions reveal good ambiguity, others not so good. Was Hawthorne’s intent clear and the facts unclear creating a good ambiguity, or do you think it is the unreality that is the message in the tale?

Read the Wives of the Dead at EldritchPress.org.

Listen to the audio by Barrow Bookstore on YouTube.com. 

 

NHimagesAnother of Hawthorne’s lesser known short stories is Ethan Brand. This story takes place on Mount Greylock (my favorite mountain). Hawthorne visited there in 1838. The story themes are sin, redemption, damnation. Heart vs. intellect. Bartram is a lime-burner on Mt. Greylock. One night, while working at the kiln that burns limestone, Bartram’s young son, Little Joe, hears a haunting laughter “like wind shaking the boughs of the forest.” A mysterious man appears, Ethan Brand, who is on a quest to discover the “unpardonable sin.” What is this unpardonable sin and where does Ethan Brand find it? This is a devilish yarn, for sure.

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Hawthorne’s description here of the mountain is probably the best I’ve read about Mount Greylock.

“Old Greylock was glorified with a golden cloud upon his head. Scattered likewise over the breasts of the surrounding mountains, there were heaps of hoary mist, in fantastic shapes, some of them far down into the valley, others high up towards the summits and still others, of the same family of mist or cloud, hovering in the gold radiance of the upper atmosphere.”

Read Ethan Brand at the EldritchPress.org.

 

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Watch for the release of my supernatural mystery GREYLOCK on October 15, 2015.

Book Cover Reveal coming up this week!

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.

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Night Terror in a Bleak Autumn

The Dream-Woman by Wilkie Collins (From Queen of Hearts) (1855)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    April 29, 2014

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OldEngland-vol2-p223-InnAtCharmouth-262x200A bleak autumn arrives.

Isaac Scatchard, a man of thirty-eight years, has been walking all day through the countryside and comes upon a small inn. He takes a room. The landlord happily closes and fastens the windows and doors, bids him a good night’s sleep. The unsnuffed candle burns down to issue a dull light as Isaac drifts off.

A strange shivering comes upon him.

 

“Between the foot of his bed and the closed door there stood a woman with a knife in her hand, looking at him.

He was stricken speechless with terror …”

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We have three narrators who tell this story of Isaac Scatchard in The Dream-Woman. We begin with a physician who is traveling with a lame horse and in need of a hostler, so he stops at an inn. We meet the landlord of the inn who tells us about poor old Isaac Scatchard, a hollowed, wrinkled man with grizzled hair—a man who sleeps only by the light of day. The physician wonders if there is  something wrong with Isaac’s brain that prevents the man from normal night sleeping.  He decides he must investigate. But investigate Isaac or the power of dreams?

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imagesThe full story is told by Isaac’s mother, Mrs. Scatchard, in Chapter Three. She tells us that Isaac’s apparent nightmare of this dream-woman occurred at the precise time and date of Isaac’s birthday at 2 a.m. Superstitious dread or warning? What happens to Isaac? Does he dream of this woman again who tries to stab him?

Like Isaac, you might believe that dreams have power. And you might believe that the elements of dreams are not so frothy as to disappear upon waking. Is there a reality in dreams? Maybe  of prophecy? Or maybe the dream reality is more like destiny?

 

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I adore dream elements in fiction and Wilkie Collins’ The Dream-Woman is a haunting story. You know this author from The Woman in White, The Moonstone; Frozen Deep is his most famous play that he co-wrote with Charles Dickens in 1857.  Collins was known for creating female characters that often showed a masculine side. He is certainly revered for his narrative power in this story. If you’ve ever heard the literary term “sensation genre,” this is the man who started it all.

Collins is one of many writers who uses dreams in stories. There is some speculation that Collins may have had such a dream as Isaac had. Robert Louis Stevenson was said to have based Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on a dream; Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel, The Castle of Otranto came from a dream;  Stephen King found the story of Salem’s Lot in a dream. Everyone knows that Mary Shelley claimed the idea for Frankenstein happened during a dream. I did the same with my novel Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural: I dreamed of a woman alone by the sea and ruled by her nightmares of persistent demon. Was I haunted by a winged creature in my own bedroom? Many nights!

I do believe that dreams contain eerie presences and that they have the power to perform a function in our lives. For Isaac Scatchard, the dream operates on both sides of the shadow.

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(William)_Wilkie_Collins_by_Rudolph_LehmannThere are several versions of The Dream-Woman by Wilkie Collins. This version here is  Brother Morgan’s Story of the Dream-Woman  from Queen of Hearts by Wilkie Collins:  Read the text at Ebooks.Adelaide.edu

 

Another version is subtitled A Mystery in Four Narratives and begins with the narrative (a longer version) told by the character Percy Fairbanks at ReadBooksOnline.net 

 

Or, you can listen to this version in audio, which has four parts on YouTube

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

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     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

 

 

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Filed under Charles Dickens, classic horror stories, Dreams, fiction, horror, literary horror, Night Sea Journey, quiet horror, short stories

A Bloody Hand Upon Her Cheek

The Birthmark   by Nathaniel Hawthorne  (1846)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 1, 2014

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Georgiana,” said he, “has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?” … Her husband tenderly kissed her cheek—her right cheek—not that which bore the impress of the crimson hand.”

Aylmer, Georgianna’s husband, is a man of science with a powerful intelligence and imaginative spirit that guides his work. But his love for his splendid and beautiful young wife drives him to a deed we might all want him to succeed in—or do we?

Georgianna was born with a birthmark, a rather fierce-looking tiny bloody hand print on her left cheek. Folklore explains it might have been imprinted by a fairy as a token of magical endowments. Aylmer has other thoughts on this and sees it more as a symbol of sin or even decay and death.

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One night Aylmer has a dream … “He had fancied himself with his servant Aminadab, attempting an operation for the removal of the birthmark; but the deeper went the knife, the deeper sank the hand, until at length its tiny grasp appeared to have caught hold of Georgiana’s heart; whence, however, her husband was inexorably resolved to cut or wrench it away.”

If anyone can effectively use dreams in fiction, it’s Hawthorne.

“When the dream had shaped itself perfectly in his memory, Aylmer sat in his wife’s presence with a guilty feeling. Truth often finds its way to the mind close muffled in robes of sleep, and then speaks with uncompromising directness of matters in regard to which we practise an unconscious self-deception during our waking moments. Until now he had not been aware of the tyrannizing influence acquired by one idea over his mind, and of the lengths which he might find in his heart to go for the sake of giving himself peace.”

As the story flows, the horrors of tampering with Mother Nature prevail: “Dearest Georgiana, I have spent much thought upon the subject,” hastily interrupted Aylmer. “I am convinced of the perfect practicability of its [birthmark] removal.”

And so, Aylmer, attempts to remove the birthmark, using an elixir  he has developed in his laboratory. Watch out for Aminadab, the lab assistant, an ape-like man whose presence represents more than just a servant.

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Is there really any true perfection in our world? If there is perfection, where does it exist? This tale by Hawthorne is just as timely today as it was in the 1800s. Self-image, acceptance, fear vs. trust, and the mystery of Mother Nature are beautifully foreshadowed throughout the prose. I suggest listening to the audio as Hawthorne’s language in this story is truly a thrilling experience. Every paragraph vibrates with deep spirituality and a haunting last impression.

 

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Read the full text of The Birthmark at Classic Reader.com

 

Listen to the audio version at Storm-Nemesis Blogspot

 

Watch the 2010 film adaptation by Mikael Kreuzriegler and Ken   Rodgers at Vimeo.com. This is not exactly true to Hawthorne’s fine prose but still an intriguing 16-minute film.

 

 

You might also like Hawthorne’s short story  The Haunted Mind, a vivid and eerie dreamscape featured here in January 2013.

 

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

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Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

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 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, Dreams, fiction, Hawthorne, psychological horror, short stories

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

House of Dusk and Shadows

The Room in the Tower   by E.F. Benson  (1912)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror, January 21, 2014

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“Jack will show you your room. I have given you the room in the tower.”

Sound friendly enough? Not in this story. Picture this: you are sixteen years old and a habitual dreamer with mostly pleasant adventures. One night you dream of a house full of shadows with a dark gloomy staircase leading to a tower where “Jack” brings you to your room. The room-in-the-tower nightmare produces a paralyzing fear but of what exactly you cannot identify.  And then this nightmare has the power of recurring in your sleep for years as you grow into an adult. And the nightmares grow too, each one becoming more frightening than the first.

Oh but this is only a dream, you say. Just wake up and go on with your life. And so you do … until the elements of the nightmare begin to appear in your waking life. And you actually meet “Jack” who leads you upstairs to the room in the tower.

Out of the dark silence comes the voice …

 “Jack will show you your room. I have given you the room in the tower.”

Wow I love stories like this! (My own novel Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural is similar in that it deals with the power of nightmares and how the subconscious and the conscious mind can mix it up and become true horror; so this story really spoke to me.)   E.F Benson explores the subconscious mind in a most disturbing way in The Room in the Tower. There might be tea on the lawn to lull the dreamer in, but there is also a dreaded silence to say nothing of the odors of decay and inexplicable bloody hands. And most important, the mysterious reality of supernatural dreaming.

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79px-Benson,_27English novelist Edward Frederick Benson (Fred to his friends) was a prolific author of ghost    stories. He’s not as popular as some of the other authors here at Tales of Terror, but he was good enough to earn high praise from Lovecraft. Lovecraft so admired Benson’s talents, he mentioned several of  Benson’s titles in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature (IX).If you’ve never experienced the stories of Fred Benson, get upstairs into that Room in the Tower.

Read The Room in the Tower at Gaslight (30-minute read)

Listen to the Librivox Recording (A good one!) recorded by Drew Heinmiller.

You’ll find more stories by E.F. Benson at  Gutenberg.net.

REMINDER: FEBRUARY IS WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH!

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

GoodKindles.net      The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under Dreams, fiction, psychological horror, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror