Tag Archives: Ambrose Bierce

Death on a Bridge

 An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce  (1890)

Tuesday’s Tale of Mystery  August 7, 2018

 

 

‘A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck.’

 

 

What greater opening of a story is more compelling than an execution? Not much, and this mystery will hold you all the way through to the last lines. The time is Civil War era. Our character, a young man named Peyton Farquhar is about to be hanged. What goes through a condemned man’s mind in the moments before he knows his life will end? Is it possible Peyton could escape and return to his wife and child?

Author Ambrose Bierce is at his finest writing as this story is rich with symbolism and foreshadowing and not without its twists. The imagery is high quality in a tale well told.

 

What is your take on the ending? Were you shocked? Please feel free to comment!

Read the short story at AmericanLiterature.com:

https://americanliterature.com/author/ambrose-bierce/short-story/an-occurrence-at-owl-creek-bridge

Listen to the audio by Librivox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lgCO_l-pgQ

Watch the YOUTUBE film (23 minutes):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHqnSX4SJ_A

 

 

Ambrose Bierce was an American journalist, satirist, and short story writer, many stories about death. He is famous for his The Devil’s Dictionary.  He disappeared in Mexico in 1914 and his final fate is recorded as “unknown.”

 

You can find more of his short stories here at Reading Ficiton Blog  in the INDEX under Ambrose Bierce.

 

 

 

 

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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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

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Digging Up the Dead

One Summer Night by Ambrose Bierce  (1892)

Tuesday’s Tale of  Terror   July 21, 2105gravediggerimgres

Bitter Bierce, as author Ambrose Bierce was known because of his satirical wit in his vivid fiction. Bierce’s An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and A Horsemen in the Sky are considered his most popular and finest literary achievements. This short story, One Summer Night, is a little twisty and perfect for a July summertime  mystery read.

“It was a dark summer night, shot through with infrequent shimmers of lightning silently firing a cloud lying low in the west and portending a storm.”

Here we meet Henry Armstrong. “The fact that Henry Armstrong was buried did not seem to him to prove that he was dead: he had always been a hard man to convince. That he really was buried, the testimony of his senses compelled him to admit.”

 

Being buried alive was not uncommon in the 1800s. In John Snart’s Thesaurus of Horror, he recounts the true story of the premature burial of Mr. Cornish, the mayor of Bath. In fiction, we all know Poe’s famous The Premature Burial (1844).

ambrose_bierceAmbrose Bierce is admired for his well-plotted, dark and imaginary tales. He defines the imagination as ‘a warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership.’ The Devil’s Dictionary (Bierce’s witty book of social commentary disguised as definitions).

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Read One Summer Night at EastoftheWeb.com

Listen to the audio version on YouTube.com

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

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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

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 For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

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Remains of the Dead

The Damned Thing  by Ambrose Bierce (1893)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   May 7, 2013

[May is National Short Story Month. We are reading a short story every day to celebrate (Well, honestly, I do that anyway. I love reading shorties; I love writing shorties.). Please join the movement and read, review, comment, blog, post on Facebook, and tweet about short stories.]

By the light of a tallow candle … 

A corpse, a book, a coroner, insects whizzing in the trees, strange cries of night birds, and an assembly of local mountain men, The Damned Thing presents one question. What or who killed this man?

The dead man is Hugh Morgan, a hunter. We know very little of the circumstances of his death except that it happened in a field of wild oats, and something tore him to shreds.

Ambrose Bierce is a clever writer and likes to use his wit and sarcasm to bite the reader. There is something of the familiar old campfire tale here where the woodsy noises made you jump and the flickering firelight shoot out shadows with horns and claws. Lovecraft was said to have liked The Damned Thing so much that it inspired him to write The Colour Out of Space.

Bierce’s story is a short one (3000 words), but executed in four segments, has a curious scientific aspect and plays with the old adage, “seeing is believing.” Or in this case, not seeing is believing.

A man though naked may be in rags.

Meet William Harker, a young fiction writer, and the last man to see Hugh Morgan alive.

Read it at Readbookonline:

http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/1323/

I found a narration of The Damned Thing on YouTube.  Turn down the lights, open the windows to let in the sounds and dark colors of the night and listen …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE9VTcNvw6k

And since it’s National Short Story Month, I’ll include a second short story for you: Lovecraft’s The Color Out of Space—science fiction, moody, and atmospheric. Lovecraft considered this story to be his finest.

The opening line is certainly one of the best ever written …

West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges; but these are all vacant now, the wide chimneys crumbling and the shingled sides bulging perilously beneath low gambrel roofs.

Read it here at the H.P. Lovecraft site:

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/cs.aspx

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