Category Archives: Hauntings

Diagnosis of Death: Ambrose Bierce’s Cryptic Adventure

The Diagnosis of Death  by Ambrose Bierce  (1909)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 10, 2017  READING FICTION BLOG

From a scientific perspective, ghosts are considered to be possible manifestations of electromagnetic energies of human consciousness. We all have consciousness; nobody doubts that. So any kind of ghost story attracts me because I’m always looking to verify that our consciousness exists after death and therefore ghosts are a reality. The supernatural is both real and fictional to me and probably why most of my own writings deal with the reality of ghosts and the mysterious world beyond. Life after death has endless possibilities to explore. When writing my novels or short stories,  I find the research to be the most thrilling part: for example I discovered there are ghosts in music when writing my novel Greylock.

Some physicists believe that consciousness exists in a quantum state after the body dies. The 6-minute video below, Consciousness Lives in Quantum State After Death: Physicists Claim is a fascinating presentation from prominent physics researchers at such institutions such as Cambridge University and Princeton University.

https://youtu.be/7AAcYDXYwdc ]

 

While proof of ghosts is debatable (most agree that science and physics cannot account for everything in our universe), in fiction we can cross the scientific line, dismiss all the debates, and slip into our human imagination and just believe.

 

 

 

The Diagnosis of Death

Our narrator, Hawver, tells us a story of his visit while renting Dr. Mannering’s  vacant summer house in Meridian.  Dr. Mannering was known to be skilled in precisely forecasting a person’s death. An odd skill and maybe a gifted one. Come with Hawver and spend the night in Dr. Mannering’s study, where a life-size portrait of Dr. Mannering does the haunting. You might not believe in ghosts like Hawver, then again, you might consider this story to be a treasure that adventures into the realm of the unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

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Read the short story online at TheLiteratureNetwork.

Listen to the 10-minute audio The Diagnosis of Death, narrated by Otis Jiry on  YOUTube.com .

 

 

 

 

 

Nicknamed Bitter Bierce, Ambrose Bierce authored over 90 short stories, fifty in supernatural.  He is remembered for making the human psyche the ultimate source of horror. One of his most famous works is The Devil’s Dictionary. Interestingly, most of his fiction gained popularity after his death. He disappeared in the Mexican wilderness in 1913. The fate of his body is unknown to historians. Visit the Ambrose Bierce Project for resources and more. Visit the Ambrose Bierce official website.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome.

 

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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, haunted houses, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, mysteries, paranormal, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural fiction

Peculiar Spirit of the Skies

The Shadow: A Parable   by Edgar Allan Poe (1835)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    September 12, 2017

 

In the city of Ptolemais, seven men meet at night in a closed chamber.  They are drinking purple wine. An unquiet glare of the seven lamps penetrates. Inside the chamber is a shrouded body.

Olinos is our narrator:  “YE who read are still among the living; but I who write shall have long since gone my way into the region of shadows.”

 

This is a 12-minute read with a thrilling edge. It has been called a “rhapsody of gloom” and is one of Poe’s early stories. Great prose!

 

 

Read the short story here at Xroads Virginia Eduction web site.

Listen to the audio (8 minutes) on You Tube.com.

More stories at  eapoe.org  

 

 

 

Poe is credited for defining the short story form.  He created the first recorded literary detective, Dupin,  in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Poe was known to be obsessed with cats,  and often wrote with a cat on his shoulder.  His cat Catterina died the same day as Poe. In 1848 the author attempted  suicide. Some time later he posed for this daguerreotype.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

 

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

EZindiepublishing

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Frequenter of Graveyards: Skulls

Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls by Loren Eiseley  (Original title People Leave Skulls With Me, 1951)

Tuesday’s Tale of Mystery  August 29, 2017

Are you fascinated by skulls? Some people believe skulls are Nature’s sculptures. Or maybe, speaking philosophically,  life’s true face is a bony skull. I am drawn to crystal skulls and have  a lovely pink one on my writing desk (an inspiration for writing my novel The Dazzling Darkness, which features a crystal skull).

These days we can read a lot about crystal skulls being a doorway to deeper understanding about ourselves and our planet. The  famous crystal skull named Sha Na Ra  (or known as Max) is one of the few crystal skulls in the world that has been scientifically examined and proven to be truly ancient. Skeptics abound, of course. But just taking the idea of skulls—human or crystal—we have an abundance of facts and fiction that continue to attract readers and stir our imagination as more than just art.

 Max

Today we have a story about a human skull, a subtle haunting, and a collector in Loren Eiseley’s Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls. Come meet Uncle Tobias and the brown skull.  Eiseley takes us on a personal visit.

“I could see Uncle Tobias’s long-hidden relic staring back vacantly at me through the glass door of the cabinet. It would never tell its secret, but it had one. It had a secret and so had Uncle Tobias.  And I? Perhaps I was a keeper of secrets.”

 

 

 

 

Author Loren Eiseley was an American anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer, who taught and published books during the 1950s to 1970s. His scientific and nature writings are contemplative with a poetic style.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls at Story of the Week, scroll down to PDF or GoogleDoc for full read:  http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2017/08/barbed-wire-and-brown-skulls.html 

Here’s a quick peek into the mind and philosophy of  Loren Eiseley: The Star Thrower.

The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

 

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

EZindiepublishing

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A Horrible Grey Loneliness: The Little Ghost

The Little Ghost by Hugh Walpole (1933)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    July 25, 2017

 

 

Death is an amazing adventure, yes? If you’ve ever lost a loved one, dear friend or relative, you know that “horrible grey loneliness” that can haunt you in the most subtle of ways. Our narrator has a ghost story to tell you. He is a journalist, happily married with two children and living in Wimbledon. When his greatest friend Charlie Bond, a  man with a charming personality, dies suddenly, the reality hits hard. Missing Charlie in his life becomes a pervasive ache for our narrator, and he escapes for a short holiday to the seaside. Sometimes when you fight a memory, the strangest things can happen. Like when you think you are alone in a room—but are not alone at all.

 

Read The Little Ghost at Gutenberg.net . Scroll down to click the title.

 

This short story was published in the collection  All Souls’ Night.  Sir Hugh Walpole was a best-selling British novelist. He published  36 novels and 6 volumes of short stories.  Virginia Woolf praised his writing: “It is no disparagement to a writer to say that his gift is for the small things rather than for the larger. If you are faithful with the details the large effects will grow inevitably out of those very details.”

Joseph Conrad said of him, “We see Mr. Walpole grappling with the truth of things spiritual and material with his characteristic earnestness, and we can discern the characteristics of this acute and sympathetic explorer of human nature.”

You might also like The Silver Mask or the vampire narrative Tarnhelm, included in All Souls’ Night. 

 

 

Hugh Walpole Portrait, by Stephen Bone, oil on canvas.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome.

  

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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under Book Reviews, classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Hauntings, horror blogs, literary horror, mysteries, paranormal, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, tales of terror

Ghost by Moonlight, Anniversary of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Death

“A ghost seen by moonlight; when the moon was out, it would shine and melt through the airy substance of the ghost, as through a cloud.”  

Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

 

Friday, May 19 is the anniversary of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s death in 1864. Hawthorne was 59 years old. On the evening of May 18 inside the Pemigewasset House hotel in Plymouth, New Hampshire, Hawthorne retired early after a dinner of toast and tea. During the night,  former U.S. President Franklin Pierce (who had traveled with Hawthorne to the White Mountains) awoke to check on his friend in the adjoining room. The former president placed his hand upon Hawthorne’s forehead. He found that Hawthorne was dead.

Some think Hawthorne is the least remembered author from Concord, Massachusetts compared to Thoreau, Alcott, and Emerson. The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables of course are his most famous  novels. But if you ever read his Blithedale Romance, you’ll likely never forget the drowning scene. Or his short story The Haunted Mind, which will certainly haunt your mind even after you’ve finished. The Ghost of Dr. Harris is another fascinating read and not exactly fiction—the story is one of his “sketches.”

Because Hawthorne is an author I admire, I’m taking this week to remember this American novelist and  read one of his forgotten “sketches” that he wrote while living  in Concord: The Old Manse. Please join me in remembering a diamond in our literature.

The Old Manse (1846) From Mosses from an Old Manse  by Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

Between two tall gate-posts of rough-hewn stone (the gate itself
having fallen from its hinges at some unknown epoch) we beheld the
gray front of the old parsonage, terminating the vista of an avenue of
black-ash trees.

 

 

Read the full sketch at Literature.com/Hawthorne.

 

 

 

 

Visit the Old Manse website (now a national historic site open for tours) in Concord, Massachusetts, where Hawthorne lived for seven years with his wife Sophia. Sophia (a transcendentalist) often referred to the home as their “beloved old house.”  Click here at TheTrustees.org.  And yes, there are ghosts at the Old Manse. Tourists, tour guides, and others will tell you so. I’ve visited there several times for research for my own novels and stories.

More about Nathaniel Hawthorne at HawthorneinSalem.org. 

 

 

[The Old Manse, modern view from Concord River, MA]

[Sleepy Hollow, Concord, MA]

If you are looking for a ghost story with historical flavors about the Old Manse, try Between the Darkness and the Dawn, originally published by Whistling Shade Literary Journal.

This short story is now a Kindle Single, FREE for you this week on Amazon.com.

 

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Black Figure, White-Faced

In the Court of the Dragon  by Robert Chambers  (1895, The King In Yellow Short Stories)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    April 25, 2017

Imagine you are sitting in a 100-year old church. Organ music is resounding throughout the pews. Then suddenly the harmonies and melodies turn sinister. You begin to feel that in the labyrinth of sounds now issuing from that organ, there is something being hunted. Up and down the pedals chase …something, or someone. Poor devil, you think. Whoever the victim is will not get away. But who is the victim?

 

 

We are in the Rue St. Honoré. In this story, our young narrator lives in Court of the Dragon, a narrow passage that leads from the Rue de Rennes to the Rue du Dragon. This day our young man is at St. Barnabé Church and as he listens to the organ music, as the tones grow angry and bleak, he is overwhelmed by sudden fear. The organist— black figure, white-faced—focuses his intense hatred on our young man. And so, our young man flees in his terror. But escape is not so easy.

Do you believe in mysterious entities of power?

 

 

 

 

Read In the Court of the Dragon at  Ebooks.Adelaide.edu (30-minute read) 

Listen to the audio on  YouTube.com (24-minutes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Chambers, an American fiction writer, known for his horror and fantasy short stories in the collection The King in Yellow, published in 1895 during the rise of spiritualism. In H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural in Literature,  he wrote of Robert Chamber’s work: “Very genuine … brings fright, madness and spectral tragedy.”

Here is a taste of Chambers descriptive powers in his story The White ShadowThere it lay, a hasin of silver and blue. Sweetheart had started to her feet, speechless, one hand holding to my shoulder, the other clasped to her breast. And now, as the road wound through the hills and down to the coast, long stretches of white sand skirted the distant cliffs, and over the cliffs waved miles and miles of yellow gorse. A cluster of white and gray houses lay in the hollow to the left almost at the mouth of the river, and beyond, the waves were beating in the bar—beating the same rhythm which we were to hear so long there together, day and night. There was not a boat to be seen, not a creature, nor was there any sign of life save for the smoke curling from a cottage chimney below. The ocean lay sparkling beneath, and beyond its deeper blue melted into the haze on the horizon.

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of 200 short stories by over 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror.

Join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

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

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

 

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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.

Amazon.com

Amazon UK 

Barnes & Noble.com

Smashwords

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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