Category Archives: free short stories online

A Ghost for Christmas

Thurlow’s Christmas Story   by John Kendrick Bangs (1894 Harper’s Weekly)

Wednesday’s Christmas Story  December 5, 2018

 

It’s nearly Christmas and a lovely time for ghost stories. Let’s imagine you are a writer. Or maybe, like me, you are a writer of fiction and a lover of ghost stories. Here is a story about a writer haunted by a ghostly vision. At the same time this ghost arrives, our writer is struggling to invent an adventure “the usual ghostly tale with a dash of the Christmas flavor” for his editor to publish for the Christmas  edition, The Idler. What John Kendrick Bangs does here in Thurlow’s Christmas Story is write a letter  based on a supernatural experience. He sends this letter to his editor Mr. George Currier at The Idler.

One night, after producing only blank pages at his desk … ‘On my way up to bed shortly after midnight, having been neither smoking nor drinking, I saw confronting me upon the stairs, with the moonlight streaming through the windows back of me, lighting up its face, a figure in which I recognized my very self in every form and feature.’

So, what happens when we meet a ghost in our own image? Some consider this a comic ghost story. You be the judge.

 

 

I can say that when writing—when inside that mysterious creative process of storytelling—some writers do experience supernatural activity, and I think author John Kendrick Bangs was one of them. Bangs is known as an American satirist, author of short stories, novels, poems, and serial fiction (Harper’s Weekly). He is a clever writer in supernatural fiction, and creator of modern Bangsian fantasy (fantasy set in the afterlife).

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Read the Christmas short story PDF https://loa-shared.s3.amazonaws.com/static/pdf/Bangs_Thurlow.pdf

Listen to the 30-minute audio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=805riJbo7UY

 

 

“May the Christmastide bear you to the highest level of your desires, and the ebbing year leave you stranded upon the Golden Shores of Peace, Prosperity and Happiness.”   J.K. Banks

 

Click to read other Christmas stories posted here at Reading Fiction Blog:

 

 Christmas River Ghost by Paula Cappa  2017

A Strange Christmas Game  by J.H. Riddell   2016 

A Boy Named Claus: The Adventure. Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum  2015

 

 

Please leave your comments! 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

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A Dark Power on Thanksgiving

John Inglefield’s Thanksgiving   by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1840)

Tuesday’s Tale      November 20, 2018

 

 

What is your most memorable Thanksgiving  Day? A happy time with family and delicious treats? Or a fight over the meal with an opponent? Or was it darker? Were you visited by a guilty soul at your Thanksgiving meal? In this 15-minute short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, on Thanksgiving evening, the blacksmith John Inglefield hosts a Thanksgiving dinner. His daughter Mary “a rose-bud almost blossomed” is present, an apprentice Robert Moore, and a vacant chair is reserved at the table for John’s wife who had passed away since the previous Thanksgiving.

To say this is a ghostly tale is up to interpretation, that is how deep you desire to understand metaphors of the mysterious. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne takes the family Thanksgiving tradition to another level. That level is clearly in the supernatural and as dark as it gets. I doubt that most readers can fix this story into a single interpretation. No black-and-white thinking here: prepare to awaken your imagination.

 

 

They are all seated round the dinner table with the warmth of the firelight “throwing it strongest light,” when John’s long lost daughter Prudence returns home for the festivities. She has a “bewitching pathos.” The theme here is beyond the grave. Fire is mentioned 14 times in this very short story—which is our dominant clue to this strange and thought-provoking tale about not only the soul but going home. The happy moments fly away as a creeping evil comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Our humanness is strange, indeed. I love how Hawthorne leaves all the doors open on this one to absolutely haunt the reader.

 

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If you are a Hawthorne fan, or even if you are not keen on his gloomy style and psychological twists, this story requires a slow read to really enjoy the complexities of the images and symbols Hawthorne uses to touch his reader. As with all his fiction, human nature is portrayed with unforgettable drama.

 

Read it here at Online Literature

http://www.online-literature.com/hawthorne/2830/ 

If you have a comment on this story, please speak up. What great mystery went on here?

 

THE OLD MANSE

This is the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s dining room and hearth at the Old Manse, where he lived in Concord, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

  

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, haunted mind, Hawthorne, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, occult, phantoms, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa

George Saunder’s Flash Fiction “Sticks”

Sticks by George Saunders  (2013, published in The Tenth of December)

Tuesday’s Flash Fiction   November 6, 2018

 

If you haven’t read George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo, Man Booker Prize Winner), an author who wanted to be Jack Kerouac II, you might like to explore Saunders talent in today’s flash fiction Sticks. At 400 words (4-minute reading time), you’ll barely have time to finish your cup of coffee. Flash fiction has created a new surge in short stories. And Sticks is among the best of them. This is about a dad gone off the rails, an amazing little story into the mind of grief.

Read it here at University of New Mexico:

http://www.unm.edu/~gmartin/535/Sticks.htm

 

 

The New Yorker readers know Saunders well. He’s published short stories, essays, novels, children’s books, won numerous literary awards, including a Bram Stoker finalist Award for his short story Home.

You can read Home here at the NewYorker.com

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/06/13/home-george-saunders

 

REMEMBER TO VOTE TODAY!!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

2 Comments

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The Willows, a Chilling Tale for Halloween

The Willows   by Algernon Blackwood (1907)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  October 16, 2018

 

What better story for the Halloween season than a haunted forest?  A haunted river, perhaps? In Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows there is a prevailing secret in nature. Even the landscape here is haunted. In this story, our narrator takes on a canoe trip down the Danube River. Two men come upon a location of fierce desolation and loneliness and yet everything is alive here. Even the Danube is personified—and full of tricks.  Once set up with tent and fire, the two friends settle in, until the first thing they see is something odd floating on the Danube.

“Good heavens, it’s a man’s body!” he cried excitedly. “Look!”

A black thing, turning over and over in the foaming waves, swept rapidly past. It kept disappearing and coming up to the surface again. It was about twenty feet from the shore, and just as it was opposite to where we stood it lurched round and looked straight at us. We saw its eyes reflecting the sunset, and gleaming an odd yellow as the body turned over.  Then it gave a swift, gulping plunge, and dived out of sight in a flash.

 

This mystery lends its own power about nature, humanity, and good old-fashion fear. I challenge the readers here not to feel a high amount of dread in the reading. This is so evocative, so sinister—an excellent mix of terror. Classic ‘quiet horror’ for Halloween reading time!

 

 

Algernon Blackwood had a persistent interest in the supernatural and spiritualism. He is famous for his occult tales and a master at chilling you to the bone. He firmly believed that humans possess latent psychic powers. His writing soars with an acute sense of place. All his fiction is charged with hidden powers. He published over 200 short stories and dozens of novels.

“All my life,” he said, “I have been strangely, vividly conscious of another region–not far removed from our own world in one sense, yet wholly different in kind–where great things go on unceasingly, where immense and terrible personalities hurry by, intent on vast purposes compared to which earthly affairs, the rise and fall of nations, the destinies of empires, the fate of armies and continents, are all as dust in the balance”  Blackwood. The Willows

 

 

Read the short story at Algernonblackwood.org

http://algernonblackwood.org/Z-files/Willows.pdf

 

 

Listen to the audio on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN_bbDrW7_M

 

 

 

More Blackwood short stories here at Reading Fiction Blog in the above INDEX.

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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The Pale Man, a Weird Tale

The Pale Man by Julius Long (1934)

Tuesday’s Weird Tale   October  2,  2018

 

This story first appeared in Weird Tales. Our narrator is on leave from his university job and stays at a dreary hotel. He sees a rather pale man in the hotel who is quite mysterious.  The pale man is staying in Room 212 but changes rooms, and, each time he gets a room closer to our narrator’s room. Eerie and queer, this is vintage Halloween style with a dash of Poe going on and a tidy suggestion to choose your lodgings carefully. A quick black-and-white read full of shadows for October story time.

 

Read it at American Literature: https://americanliterature.com/author/julius-long/short-story/the-pale-man

Listen to the 10-minute audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvsEZMeGDSc

 

Few people know about author Julius Long (1907-1955), a short story writer of detective and supernatural fiction: The Dead Man’s Story, Nightcap of Terror, Death’s Dancing Master, Merely Murder, Over Many Dead Bodies to name a few. All his stories are in the public domain for free reading. Long was a lawyer, lived in Ohio, and was a collector of guns.

 

 

Watch for lots of ghost stories for Halloween posts this month of October

here at Reading Fiction Blog!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

4 Comments

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2081, Vonnegut’s Timely Satirical, Dystopian Science Fiction

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut  (1961)

Tuesday’s Tale of Science Fiction    September 11, 2018

 

How does a democracy die? Do democracies die with a military force of boots on the streets? Or revolutions? Or do people end up being hoodwinked and surrendering with a whimper? This blog doesn’t do politics but this week’s short story by Kurt Vonnegut has opened the door to thoughts and questions about authoritarianism, fascism, human rights and equality, and connects us to today’s erosion of democratic norms in the political system. Vonnegut knew about mass gullibility and maybe we are seeing some of that today. Journalist Bill Moyers called our current era Trump and the Dark Age of Unreason. 

Vonnegut’s opening paragraph of Harrison Bergeron is a stunning one.

‘THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.’

 

For this kind of ‘equality’ to be reality, people cannot be their natural selves and must wear heavy devices on their bodies that handicap them. For example, ballet dancers cannot use their natural grace and beauty, so they are required to wear weights and masks to make all the ballerinas equally clumsy and hide their individual faces.

The story focuses on a U.S. government controlling the lives of individuals, even the potential of individuals. Free thought, free expression, truth, and the hunger for power and defiance are elements. It’s a timely story for 2018 in our hot political climate where free speech and a free press are being attacked (the demise of a free press is one of the first warning signs that democracy is dying). The New Yorker Magazine in March of this year featured Exposed, Trump with no clothes, as the American Emperor. Many saw this as a reference to Hans Christian Anderson’s tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, where fear of the emperor keeps people from speaking the truth.

Research today suggests that democracies around the world may be at serious risk of decline. Reading Harrison Bergeron is an irresistible dive into a world that will make you shudder.

 

‘Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die. “I am the Emperor!” cried Harrison. “Do you hear? I am the Emperor!’

How would a  government enforce such an absurd and extreme equality? Would the government look like Russia or other totalitarian nations that suppress human creativity, free speech, and personal expression? Why would a government even want to do this? Who has the courage to rebel? Vonnegut answers all these questions in his 1961 story of Harrison Bergeron.

What do you think? Do leave a comment!

 

Read the short story Harrison Bergeron in the year 2081 (20-minute read) here at Archive.org

https://archive.org/stream/HarrisonBergeron/Harrison%20Bergeron_djvu.txt

 

Listen to the audio on You Tube (13 minutes):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aAH_G5hcAg

 

Kurt Vonnegut is most famous for his Slaughterhouse-Five, published in 1969—the Vietnam war, racial unrest, and cultural and social upheaval.

 

 

 

“That Time in 1969 When Kurt Vonnegut Accurately Profiled Donald Trump”

by Seth Shellhouse.   At Medium.com:

https://medium.com/@ALRIGHTbrother/that-time-in-1969-when-kurt-vonnegut-accurately-profiled-donald-trump-c9f544aba736

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

2 Comments

Filed under fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, science fiction, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, suspense, tales of terror

Mad Dream of Happiness

The Dream   by Mary Shelley  (1832)

For the anniversary of Mary Shelley’s birth August 30, 1797

Tuesday’s Gothic Tale    August  28, 2018

 

I loved this story. Stories that involve dreams always intrigue me because the subconscious world is so mysterious and so boundless. The kingdom of the night! So fascinating is dream life and one of the reasons I wrote Night Sea Journey.  In literature, dreams have a strong presence with many famous titles and authors: Homer’s The Iliad,  Alice in Wonderland,  Shakespeare of course,  Pierre’s dream in War and Peace,  Samsa in Metamorphosis,  Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and the dreams in Anna Karenina. In art too. Who doesn’t know this painting The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli.

 

One of my favorites is The Artist’s Dream, George H. Comegys (1840). The artist is exhausted, having visions of  Rubens, Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael Michelangelo, and others. So compelling!

 

In Shelley’s  short story The Dream, we sink into the era of King Henry IV. We are in France and inside the life of Countess Constance de Villeneuve in her château overlooking the Loire River. She mourns the death of her father and brothers killed in the war. Solitude, weeping, and loneliness are her daily companions. But she also mourns her love for the dashing knight Gaspar, son of her father’s enemy (two feuding families). Torn between her loyalty to her family and her desire for Gaspar, she decides to sleep on the rock of St. Catherine, who is said to visit dreams. Alone on the narrow ledge hanging over the tumbling Loire River. Constance must follow her destiny …

“I will rest to-morrow night on St. Catherine’s bed: and if, as I have heard, the saint deigns to direct her votaries in dreams, I will be guided by her; and, believing that I act according to the dictates of Heaven, I shall feel resigned even to the worst.”

 

What is the worst? Death by drowning in the Loire River? This story is about uncertain human love, dream messages, and visions of ghosts.

 

We recognize the birth date of Mary Shelley on August 30. This author is famous for her ‘midnight pillow’ explorations, from which she became inspired to write Frankenstein. In that novel, nightmares and dreams are significant.

“My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed—

my dearest pleasure when free.”  Mary Shelley

Celebrate Mary Shelley today and read the short story here at American Literature. Please comment if you liked this post!

https://americanliterature.com/author/mary-shelley/short-story/the-dream 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

2 Comments

Filed under fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, horror blogs, mysteries, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural tales, suspense, Women In Horror