Tag Archives: E.F. Benson

Christmas Eve’s Phantom

Between the Lights  by E.F. Benson  (1912)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    December 15, 2015

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Christmas ghost stories are a worldwide tradition. This story by E.F. Benson takes place on December 24, Christmas Eve. A story within a story, if you will, and striking a dark tone.  Between the Lights is perfect for a read aloud, guests sitting round the hearth, glasses of nog in hands, fire spitting, candlelight throwing shadows against the dark windows.

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Outside, wind drives the snow and only the sounds of the scurry of snowflakes and the voice of our narrator prevail. He reports about another Christmas Eve’s event at this same house as he sat in his chair.

“It was nearly dark, but a little light came in from the door opposite to me, which seemed to lead into a passage that communicated with the exterior of the place …  there now burned a dim firelight, and my eyes were drawn there. Shapes were gathered round it; what they were I could not at first see.”

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But our narrator does see what materializes between the lights and it’s not just shadows or faded light. “It haunted me; for months, I think, it was never quite out of my mind, but lingered somewhere in the dusk of consciousness …”

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 What does he see between the lights that Christmas Eve night? What happens to the dusk of his consciousness in the clear light of day? Phantom of the mind … or real?

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Read Between the Lights at Gutenberg.net.au (Australia). Scroll to the Table of Contents and select the title (4th story).

Listen to the Podcast. No. 11 on the itunes list at Corvidae.co.UK. Narrated by Richard Crowest.

Edward Frederic Benson (known as Fred) was an English author of over 50 novels and various collections of short stories. He is famous for his scandalous novel Dodo in 1893 and Mapp and Lucia (Lucia series, 1920s), which explore Edwardian society (not quite Downton Abbey but certainly full of English snobbery, small town rivalry, and British high society). He has had a cult following for decades because of the Lucia series. Many of his readers remember him for his ghost stories. More info on this author  and his novels at the EF Benson Society.

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[Images from WikiCommons.]

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Filed under Christmas ghost stories, Christmas stories, fiction, ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural

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.

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