Tag Archives: mysterious

The Ghost Within

Afterward by Edith Wharton (1910)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 5, 2013

-EdithWharton_in_hat_with_fur_muffEdith Wharton

Are you drawn to haunted house stories? Would you consider living in one for just the experience of meeting a ghost? Edith Wharton’s Afterward  is a haunted house story, but it’s got a different spin on the old cliche.

Come to the House at Lyng in the countryside of Dorsetshire, “known to be full of ghosts.” Mary and Edward (Ned) Boyne move to Lyng because it’s so remote and because it has a resident ghost—a predictably shy ghost. How delightful, right? But this story doesn’t start off as juicy as you’d expect: there are no ghoulish stories about this ghost at Lyng, no historical facts to feast upon, no frightening legends.

Darn! Wharton is such a tease. She is a writer that likes to turn the tables on what the reader expects in the traditional ghosts of evil doings and hot revenge.

Mary finds the House at Lyng quite enchanting with English gardens, grass terrace, fish pond, drawing room, and library. The couple have no financial worries due to Ned’s highly successful business dealings.

Wharton describes the house meticulously and with elegance …  the pear trees drawing complicated patterns on the walls, pigeons on the silvery slated roof, tea at breakfast from a charming Edwardian teapot. Isn’t life lovely!

But where is this ghost and why isn’t it haunting?

When Mary and Ned see a “figure of a man in loose grayish clothes” walking slowly up the lime entrance, they are certain it is their resident ghost. With great anticipation, Ned dashes out to the lime drive. Later Mary finds him in the library where he explains it wasn’t a ghost at all, just Peters, one of the servants (hmmm, really?)

Soon after, Mary finds that Ned doesn’t join her for luncheon …  or dinner.

This is a ghost story that hinges on old money, the old aristocratic values, and another driving desire—greed. You can be sure this ghost is a clever power. I began to wonder if the ghost was secretly watching, waiting for the just the right moment to strike. I was wrong, but far from disappointed.

You’ll find this psychological ghost story will keep you turning the pages as Afterward will haunt you with a last faint breath.

Read Afterward here:


P.S.  Click on the tab above, Short Stories, to experience my latest supernatural tale just published at Fiction 365,  Hildie at the Ghost Store.

Stop back next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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Spirits of the Dead, Poe’s Most Mysterious Poem

Greetings Poe Fans:

In honor of Poe’s anniversary birth date, January 19, I’ve selected  his poem, “Spirits of the Dead”  to mark  my Tales of Terror blog for this day. The full text of the poem is below.  This, in hopes that his spirit will rally forth as you read it, is my deepest desire—to truly feel the spirits of the dead authors we read.

This poem is moody and wonderfully atmospheric with dark thoughts on a windy night.

If you’d prefer a read aloud, click the link. This is a YouTube 2-minute dramatic reading, with phantasmic organ music that is sure to haunt.


Spirits Of The Dead

Thy soul shall find itself alone
‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness- for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.

The night, though clear, shall frown,
And the stars shall not look down
From their high thrones in the Heaven
With light like hope to mortals given,
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more, like dew-drop from the grass.

The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token.
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!

Edgar Allan Poe

Please stop in every Tuesday for more Tales of Terror,  free short stories by the classic horror masters of literature. I invite you to poke around my blog to read other tales by Hawthorne, Lovecraft, MR James and more.


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Captain Murderer by Dickens, Forgotten Tale of Old

Captain Murderer by Charles Dickens

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,   December 11, 2012 

Captain Murderer is a short story written by Charles Dickens (1000 words, flash fiction before flash was trendy–Dickens was so cool!) and was published in All the Year Round, A Weekly Journal in 1860.  During this Christmas season, we often talk about a Dickens’ Christmas and read or watch A Christmas Carol, delighting in the ghosts of the past. Captain Murderer is  not as popular a story as A Christmas Carol, but definitely fits into the realm of Tales of Terror. And this one is an especially forgotten tale of old.

This wretched character, the Captain, has immense wealth, is an offshoot of the Bluebeard family, and likes to show off his coach driven by a pack of glorious milk-white steeds. But Captain Murderer has a sinister preoccupation with matrimony. His horrific appetite for young brides opens this story when he gives his new wife a golden rolling pin and a silver pie board. He instructs her to bake him a pie. Seems harmless enough, right?

“Dear Captain Murderer, what pie is this to be?” his wife, of exactly one month after the wedding day, asks as she turns up her laced-silk sleeves.

“A meat pie,” the captain replies.

A meat pie? Captain Murderer, known for his ever-sharp teeth that he has professionally filed regularly, has a gruesome secret suggestion for the meat filling. His bride rolls out the crust, curls it into the baking pan and as she looks up into the looking glass, she sees the Captain cutting her head off.


Can you imagine the view in that mirror? I’ll let Dickens reveal in his own creepy style about the baking and eating, the subsequent brides who met similar destinies, and the rather juicy ending. But I will add one note: dessert is a sweet revenge.

You can read Dickens’ Captain Murderer at the link below. For myself, I don’t think I shall look at another meat pie quite the same ever again.

Don’t hesitate to comment! I would love to hear from you.


TUESDAY’S  TALE OF TERROR will appear weekly.


Filed under Charles Dickens, fiction, horror, mysteries, occult, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror

Psycho’s Author Robert Bloch


I just read The Hungry House by Robert Bloch.  Bloch is primarily a crime and horror writer (most know him from his novel Psycho, adapted by Hitchcock). The prose is a little dated (I don’t mind this usually), but the story is still very disturbing.

Hungry House is a soft horror short story about a married couple who buy a house.

… “Then it came. Perhaps it was there all the time; waiting for them in the house.”

One of the first owners of the house was Laura Bellman, an exceptional young beauty– mirrors in every room. Ahh, vanity! Then Laura grows old, ugly, and afraid.  But mirrors don’t lie … or do they?

. . . “She was all alone. Laura and her mirrors.”

I won’t tell you how Laura dies but after her death, the house spawns  mysterious disappearances and deaths. And the married couple who move in?

You can enjoy this little homespun mystery in The Weird, A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories  by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer on Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/The-Weird-Compendium-Strange-ebook/dp/B006TXZD3G.


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