Tag Archives: The Dazzling Darkness

39 Skulls

The Messenger  by Robert W. Chambers  (1900)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  February 27, 2018

When the Black Priest rises from the dead,

St. Gildas folk shall shriek in bed;

When the Black Priest rises from his grave,

May the good God St. Gildas save!

Thirty-eight skulls and then there was one more. A scroll written in blood. A curse. Death’s Messenger.  We are in St. Gildas. The year is 1896. Village talk is about the Black Priest and a moth that, if it enters your house, brings evil. Moths are said to be spirit guides. Skulls are said to represent mortality, but they also remind us of the embodiment of consciousness.

The Messenger is a story woven with thick suspense and told vintage style by one of the greatest horror and fantasy novelists, Robert Chambers (1865-1933). Chambers is famous for his King in Yellow (1895), and remembered these days for his Gothic tales. Chambers will keep you guessing in this story told by Dick, who does not believe in the supernatural.

Readers of this blog know I am fascinated by all kinds of skulls, especially crystal skulls. When writing my supernatural mystery The Dazzling Darkness, which features a mysterious crystal skull, I learned about the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull, also known as the Skull of Doom. If you don’t know about the powers of quartz crystal skulls, stop in at the Mitchell-Hedges website for some fascinating information: http://www.crystalskulls.com/mitchell-hedges-crystal-skull.html

Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull



Read The Messenger short story here: https://americanliterature.com/author/robert-w-chambers/short-story/the-messenger

Listen to the audio at YouTube.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3arLiAjpmQ










Also, there’s Max the crystal skull if you really are a crystal skull lover! Visit http://cse.crystalskullexplorers.com/max-the-crystal-skull/





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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Filed under classic horror stories, crystal skull, fiction, ghost stories, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, occult, paranormal, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, skulls, soft horror, supernatural fiction, tales of terror, The Dazzling Darkness

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?”


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 UK 

Barnes & Noble.com


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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Filed under Book Reviews, dark fantasy, demons, Dreams, fiction, haunted mind, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, mysteries, Night Sea Journey, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

Weird Fiction by Stephen King

Premium Harmony  by Stephen King  (2009, The New Yorker Magazine)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 20, 2015



Halloween season requires at last one Stephen King story. Not too many are available online to read for free and this one about a cold death seems appropriate as we approach Halloween.


We are in King’s famous town of Castle Rock, Maine, with Mary and Ray, a married couple on route to Wal-Mart to buy grass seed. How mundane is that? They argue about petty things, which is actually amusing. Then something really shocking happens. This is not a traditional spooker—more like a dark comedy or weird fiction. You be the judge. Did you like this story? What did you think of the “smoky” ending?



Read the short story here at The New Yorker Magazine.com.

At Open Culture.com, you can find a few more free Stephen King stories.

And here’s a review of King’s

Bazaar of Bad Dreamshttp://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/books/article41913834.html





Are you looking for a real Halloween story? Try this spooky tale.

“The White Scarecrow” at Underworld Tales.com. This time of year yields some pretty weird happenings.



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     Sillyverse    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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Filed under fiction, Halloween, horror blogs, psychological horror, short stories, short story blogs, Stephen King, weird tales

Announcing Five Winners of The Dazzling Darkness ShelfAwareness Giveaway!


I’m happy to post the names of my five ShelfAwareness.com winners for a FREE copy of The Dazzling Darkness. Thanks to all who participated.  I chose the names at random.

Congratulations to the following readers:

Heidi Daum

Nancy Smith

Karl Stenger

Victoria Miner

Olga Romero

Signed copies will be mailed out Monday, May 5, 2014.

This free book drawing has been an exciting experience for me, communicating with so many readers who are not only interested in the supernatural and The Dazzling Darkness but also Ralph Waldo Emerson. So many of you made lovely comments about Emerson, Concord, and transcendentalism in your entries for the drawing.

At book signings and interviews I’ve been asked many times, Why is Ralph Waldo Emerson important in this story?  My answer: “Emerson is not a live character, nor is he a ghost, although his presence is “felt” by the characters. Emerson’s thoughts and transcendental teachings act as a creative energy for the characters Elias Hatch, Detective Mike Balducci and even Antonia Brooke. rwe_concord_ma_06

 “This novel actually developed from a line in one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays in his address called Nature. He wrote … “Even the corpse has its own beauty.

 “Shocking statement, right? The more I read about Emerson’s personal experiences with death, the more the story began to take shape. Emerson lost his young wife Ellen only a short time after they were married. He buried her in the family vault and a year later, still driven by intense grief, he opened her coffin. What a heart-breaking experience. And then twenty-five years later, after his young son dies at five-years-old, Emerson opened his coffin as well. These images all connected for me: images of a cemetery, images of a boy named Henry suddenly appeared, coffins opening. The story just unraveled in a very exciting way and Emerson was that foundation.”

What’s next for me? Besides Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural just released from Crispin Books, I have two short stories, Beyond Castle Frankenstein (historical fiction about Mary Shelley), and A Terrible Beauty (Lovecraftian horror). Watch for posts here as to where and when they will be published. And yes, I am working on another novel and several short stories.

To my readers, I am always grateful for your reviews on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, or Goodreads. Speaking of Goodreads, if you are a member, do stop by my Goodreads Book Page and become my friend.

Or hang out here at my blog, Reading Fiction, Tales of Terror for a FREE classic short story every Tuesday. Check out the Index of Authors’ Tales of Terror from the tabs above to select a short story by one of your favorite classic authors featured here in the past year. Explore my free short stories, or sample the opening chapters of Night Sea Journey.

Do you have a comment or question about a character or storyline in one of my novels or short stories? I’d love to hear from you! Every page on the tabs above has comment boxes, so please feel free to post your thoughts.

Again, my gratitude to all for participating in The Dazzling Darkness giveaway at ShelfAwareness.com.

Wishing you all the best in your reading endeavors,


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The Dazzling Darkness Wins Book Cover Award

Book designer GINA CASEY wins  Joel Friedlander’s Book Cover Design Competition for her design of  The Dazzling Darkness. Please take a look at Friedlander’s web site and join this celebration by leaving a comment for Gina Casey at bottom of site.





Filed under Book cover designs