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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ten Little Terrors: Short Story Anthology Now Available on Amazon Kindle

Hi fearless readers!

My new collection of short horror fiction, "Ten Little Terrors" is now available through Kindle.

Check it out here:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

THE DAMNED THING by Ambrose G. Bierce


Ambrose G. Bierce



By the light of a tallow candle which had been placed on one end of a rough
table a man was reading something written in a book. It was an old account
book, greatly worn; and the writing was not, apparently, very legible, for
the man sometimes held the page close to the flame of the candle to get a
stronger light on it. The shadow of the book would then throw into obscurity
a half of the rooms, darkening a number of faces and figures; for besides
the reader, eight other men were present. Seven of them sat against the
rough log walls, silent, motionless, and the room being small, not very far
from the table. By extending an arm any one of them could have touched the
eighth man, who lay on the table, face upward, partly covered by a sheet,
his arms at his sides. He was dead.

The man with the book was not reading aloud, and no one spoke; all seemed to
be waiting for something to occur; the dead man only was without
expectation. From the bland darkness outside came in, through the aperture
that served for a window, all the ever unfamiliar noises of night in the
wilderness Ñ the long nameless note of a distant coyote; the drone of great
blundering beetles, and all that mysterious chorus of small sounds that seem
always to have been but half heard when they have suddenly ceased, as if
conscious of an indiscretion. But nothing of all this was noted in that
company; its members were not overmuch addicted to idle interest in matters
of no practical importance; that was obvious in every line of their rugged
faces Ñ obvious even in the dim light of the single candle. They were
evidently men of the vicinity, farmers and woodsmen.

The person reading was a trifle different; one would have said of him that
he was of the world, worldly, albeit there was that in his attire which
attested a certain fellowship with the organisms of his environment. His
coat would hardly have passed muster in San Francisco; his foot-gear was not
of urban origin, and the hat that lay by him on the floor (he was the only
one uncovered) was such that if one had considered it as an article of mere
personal adornment he would have missed its meaning. In countenance the man
was rather prepossessing, with just a hint of sternness; though that he may
have assumed or cultivated, as appropriate to one in authority. For he was a
coroner. It was by virtue of his office that he had possession of the book
in which he was reading; it had been found among the dead man's effects Ñ in
his cabin, where the inquest was now taking place.

When the coroner had finished reading he put the book into his breast
pocket. At that moment the door was pushed open and a young man entered. He,
clearly, was not of mountain birth and breeding: he was clad as those who
dwell in cities. His clothing was dusty, however, as from travel. He had, in
fact, been riding hard to attend the inquest.

The coroner nodded; no one else greeted him.

"We have waited for you," said the coroner. "It is necessary to have done
with this business to-night."

The young man smiled. "I am sorry to have kept you," he said. "I went away,
not to evade your summons, but to post to my newspaper an account of what I
suppose I am called back to relate."

The coroner smiled.

"The account that you posted to your newspaper," he said, "differs,
probably, from that which you will give here under oath."

"That," replied the other, rather hotly and with a visible flush, "is as you
please. I used manifold paper and have a copy of what I sent. It was not
written as news, for it is incredible, but as fiction. It may go as part of
my testimony under oath."

"But you say it is incredible."

"That is nothing to you, sir, if I also swear that it is true."

The coroner was silent for a time, his eyes upon the floor.

The men about the sides of the cabin talked in whispers, but seldom withdrew
their gaze from the face of the corpse. Presently the coroner lifted his
eyes and said: "We will resume the inquest."

The men removed their hats. The witness was sworn.

"What is your name?" the coroner asked.

"William Harker."



"You knew the deceased, Hugh Morgan?"


"You were with him when he died?"

"Near him."

"How did that happen; your presence, I mean?"

"I was visiting him at this place to shoot and fish. A part of my purpose,
however, was to study him and his odd, solitary way of life. He seemed a
good model for a character in fiction. I sometimes write stories."

"I sometimes read them."

"Thank you."

"Stories in general Ñ not yours."

Some of the jurors laughed. Against a sombre background humour shows high
lights. Soldiers in the intervals of battle laugh easily, and a jest in the
death chamber conquers by surprise.

"Relate the circumstances of this man's death," said the coroner. "You may
use any notes or memoranda that you please."

The witness understood. Pulling a manuscript from his breast pocket he held
it near the candle and turning the leaves until he found the passage that he
wanted began to read.

                                 CHAPTER II


"...The sun had hardly risen when we left the house. We were looking for
quail, each with a shotgun, but we had only one dog. Morgan said that our
best ground was beyond a certain ridge that he pointed out, and we crossed
it by a trail through the chaparral. On the other side was comparatively
level ground, thickly covered with wild oats. As we emerged from the
chaparral Morgan was but a few yards in advance. Suddenly we heard, at a
little distance to our right and partly in front, a noise as of some animal
thrashing about in the bushes, which we could see were violently agitated.

"'We've started a deer,' I said. 'I wish we had brought a rifle.'

"Morgan, who had stopped and was intently watching the agitated chaparral,
said nothing, but had cocked both barrels of his gun and was holding it in
readiness to aim. I thought him a trifle excited, which surprised me, for he
had a reputation for exceptional coolness, even in moments of sudden and
imminent peril.

"'Oh, come,' I said. 'You are not going to fill up a deer with quailshot,
are you?'

"Still he did not reply; but catching sight of his face as he turned it
slightly toward me I was struck by the intensity of his look. Then I
understood that we had serious business in hand, and my first conjecture was
that we had 'jumped' a grizzly. I advanced to Morgan's side, cocking my
piece as I moved.

"The bushes were now quiet and the sounds had ceased, but Morgan was as
attentive to the place as before.

"'What is it? What the devil is it?' I asked.

"'That Damned Thing!' he replied, without turning his head. His voice was
husky and unnatural. He trembled visibly.

"I was about to speak further, when I observed the wild oats near the place
of the disturbance moving in the most inexplicable way. I can hardly
describe it. It seemed as if stirred by a streak of wind, which not only
bent it, but pressed it down; crushed it so that it did not rise; and this
movement was slowly prolonging itself directly toward us.

"Nothing that I had ever seen had affected me so strangely as this
unfamiliar and unaccountable phenomenon, yet I am unable to recall any sense
of fear. I remember and tell it here because, singularly enough, I
recollected it then that once in looking carelessly out of an open window
I momentarily mistook a small tree close at hand for one of a group of
larger trees at a little distance away. It looked the same size as the
others, but being more distinctly and sharply defined in mass and detail
seemed out of harmony with them. It was a mere falsification of the law of
aerial perspective, but it startled, almost terrified me. We so rely upon
the orderly operation of familiar natural laws that any seeming suspension
of them is noted as a menace to our safety, as warning of unthinkable
calamity. So now the apparent causeless movement of the herbage and the
slow, undeviating approach of the line of disturbance were distinctly
disquieting. My companion appeared actually frightened, and I could hardly
credit my senses when I saw him suddenly throw his gun to his shoulder and
fire both barrels at the agitated grain! Before the smoke had cleared away I
heard a loud savage cry; a scream like that of a wild animal and flinging
his gun upon the ground Morgan sprang away and ran swiftly from the spot. At
the same instant I was thrown violently to the ground by the impact of
something unseen in the smoke; some soft, heavy substance that seemed
thrown against me with great force.

"Before I could get upon my feet and recover my gun, which seemed to have
been struck from my hands, I heard Morgan crying out as if in mortal agony,
and mingling with his cries were such hoarse, savage sounds as one hears
from fighting dogs. Inexpressibly terrified, I struggled to my feet and
looked in the direction of Morgan's retreat; and may Heaven in mercy spare
me from another sight like that! At a distance of less than thirty yards was
my friend, down upon one knee, his head thrown back at a frightful angle,
hatless, his long hair in disorder and his whole body in violent movement
from side to side, backward and forward. His right arm was lifted and seemed
to lack the hand Ñ at least, I could see none. The other arm was invisible.
At times, as my memory now reports this extraordinary scene, I could discern
but a part of his body; it was as if he had been partly blotted out Ñ I
cannot otherwise express it Ñ then a shifting of his position would bring it
all into view again.

"All this must have occurred within a few seconds, yet in that time Morgan
assumed all the postures of a determined wrestler vanquished by superior
weight and strength. I saw nothing but him and not always distinctly. During
the entire incident his shouts and curses were heard, as if through an
enveloping uproar of such sounds of rage and fury as I had never heard from
the throat of man or brute!

"For a moment only I stood irresolute, then throwing down my gun I ran
forward to my friend's assistance. I had a vague belief that he was
suffering from a fit, or some form of convulsion. Before I could reach his
side he was down and quiet. All sounds had ceased, but with a feeling of
such terror as even these awful events had not inspired I now saw again the
mysterious movement of the wild oats, prolonging itself from the trampled
area about the prostrate man toward the edge of a wood. It was only when it
had reached the wood that I was able to withdraw my eyes and look at my
companion. He was dead."

                                 CHAPTER III

                      A MAN THOUGH NAKED MAY BE IN RAGS

The coroner rose from his seat and stood beside the dead man. Lifting an
edge of the sheet he pulled it away, exposing the entire body, altogether
naked and showing in the candle- light a clay-like yellow. It had, however,
broad maculations of bluish black, obviously caused by extravasated blood
from contusions. The chest and sides looked as if they had been beaten with
a bludgeon. There were dreadful lacerations; the skin was torn in strips and

The coroner moved round to the end of the table and undid a silk
handkerchief which had been passed under the chin and knotted on the top of
the head. When the handkerchief was drawn away it exposed what had been the
throat. Some of the jurors who had risen to get a better view repented their
curiosity and turned away their faces. Witness Harker went to the open
window and leaned out across the sill, faint and sick. Dropping the
handkerchief upon the dead man's neck the coroner stepped to an angle of the
room and from a pile of clothing produced one garment after another, each of
which he held up a moment for inspection. All were torn, and stiff with
blood. The jurors did not make a closer inspection. They seemed rather
uninterested. They had, in truth, seen all this before; the only thing that
was new to them being Harker's testimony.

"Gentlemen," the coroner said, "we have no more evidence, I think. Your duty
has been already explained to you; if there is nothing you wish to ask you
may go outside and consider your verdict."

The foreman rose; a tall, bearded man of sixty, coarsely clad.

"I shall like to ask one question, Mr. Coroner," he said. "What asylum did
this yer last witness escape from?"

"Mr. Harker," said the coroner gravely and tranquilly, "from what asylum did
you last escape?"

Harker flushed crimson again, but said nothing, and the seven jurors rose
and solemnly filed out of the cabin.

"If you have done insulting me, sir," said Harker, as soon as he and the
officer were left alone with the dead man, "I suppose I am at liberty to


Harker started to leave, but paused, with his hand on the door latch. The
habit of his profession was strong in him; stronger than his sense of
personal dignity. He turned about and said:

"The book you have there; I recognize it as Morgan's diary. You seemed
greatly interested in it; you read in it while I was testifying. May I see
it? The public would like... "

"The book will cut no figure in this matter," replied the official, slipping
it into his coat pocket; "all the entries in it were made before the
writer's death."

As Harker passed out of the house the jury re-entered and stood about the
table, on which the now covered corpse showed under the sheet with sharp
definition. The foreman seated himself near the candle, produced from his
breast pocket a pencil and scrap of paper and wrote rather laboriously the
following verdict, which with various degrees of effort all signed:

"We, the jury, do find that the remains come to their death at the hands of
a mountain lion, but some of us thinks, all the same, they had fits."

                                 CHAPTER IV

                        AN EXPLANATION FROM THE TOMB

In the diary of the late Hugh Morgan are certain interesting entries having,
possibly, a scientific value as suggestions. At the inquest upon his body
the book was not put in evidence; possibly the coroner thought it not worth
while to confuse the jury. The date of the first of the entries mentioned
cannot be ascertained; the upper part of the leaf is torn away; the part of
the entry remaining follows:

"...would run in a half-circle, keeping his head turned always toward the
centre, and again he would stand still, barking furiously. At last he ran
away into the brush as fast as he could go. I thought at first that he had
gone mad, but on returning to the house found no other alteration in his
manner than what was obviously due to fear of punishment.

"Can a dog see with his nose? Do odours impress some cerebral centre with
images of the thing that emitted them? ...

"Sept. 2. Looking at the stars last night as they rose above the crest of
the ridge east of the house, I observed them successively disappear Ñ from
left to right. Each was eclipsed but an instant, and only a few at a time,
but along the entire length of the ridge all that were within a degree or
two of the crest were blotted out. It was as if something had passed along
between me and them; but I could not see it, and the stars were not thick
enough to define its outline. Ugh! don't like this."

Several weeks' entries are missing, three leaves being torn from the book.

"Sept. 27. It has been about here again I find evidences of its presence
every day. I watched again all last night in the same cover, gun in hand,
double-charged with buckshot. In the morning the fresh footprints were
there, as before. Yet I would have sworn that I did not sleep Ñ indeed, I
hardly sleep at all. It is terrible, insupportable! If these amazing
experiences are real I shall go mad; if they are fanciful I am mad already.

"Oct. 3. I shall not go; it shall not drive me away. No, this is my
house, my land. God hates a coward....

"Oct. 5. I can stand it no longer; I have invited Harker to pass a few
weeks with me; he has a level head. I can judge from his manner if he
thinks me mad.

"Oct. 7. I have the solution of the mystery; it came to me last night,
suddenly, as by revelation. How simple, how terribly simple!

"There are sounds we cannot hear. At either end of the scale are notes that
stir no chord of that imperfect instrument, the human ear. They are too high
or too grave. I have observed a flock of blackbirds occupying an entire
tree-top; the tops of several trees and all in full song. Suddenly, in a
moment at absolutely the same instant, all spring into the air and fly
away. How? They could not all see one another; whole tree-tops intervened.
At no point could a leader have been visible to all. There must have been a
signal of warning or command, high and shrill above the din, but by me
unheard. I have observed, too, the same simultaneous flight when all were
silent, among not only blackbirds, but other birds; quail, for example,
widely separated by bushes, even on opposite sides of a hill.

"It is known to seamen that a school of whales basking or sporting on the
surface of the ocean, miles apart, with the convexity of the earth between,
will sometimes dive at the same instant; all gone out of sight in a moment.
The signal has been sounded; too grave for the ear of the sailor at the
masthead and his comrades on the deck; who nevertheless feel its vibrations
in the ship as the stones of a cathedral are stirred by the bass of the

"As with sounds, so with colours. At each end of the solar spectrum the
chemist can detect the presence of what are known as 'actinic' rays. They
represent colours; integral colours in the composition of light which we
are unable to discern. The human eye is an imperfect instrument; its range
is but a few octaves of the real 'chromatic scale.' I am not mad; there are
colours that we cannot see.

"And, God help me! the Damned Thing is of such a colour!"

Check out my new book, TEN LITTLE TERRORS, now on Amazon:

Monday, April 22, 2013

BLACK EYED KIDS Early Reports Pre-Date the 90's!

Writing about the paranormal for about a decade, I’ve seen certain topics grab the public’s attention and quickly fade (orbs, rods), but others, for good reason, stick around year, after year, after year (ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot, shadow people). A fairly recent entry into the paranormal landscape that has stalked its way into our deepest nightmares, the weirdest bogyman to show its greasy-haired head in a long time, is the Black-Eyed Kids. I’ve written quite a bit about BEKs, and frankly many of the cases are too similar. Someone alone is approached by children or teens that try to talk their way into a house/car/secluded spot. The children seem strange, then the person notices their all black eyes. The person slams the door and the story is over.
Creepy, but we’ve heard it before.
Every once in a while I find someone whose encounter with these entities is a bit different, and that gives me the willies. Here are two.
A Horror on the Farm
Tonya’s family moved from an apartment in town to a small ranch house in rural Indiana when she was five. “My Mom was pregnant with my sis,” Tonya said. “I remember having a swing set and Mom and Dad let me have a rabbit outside in a cage.”
One night while her mother and father were inside preparing supper, Tonya played on the swing set and discovered she wasn’t alone. “Another girl appeared behind me,” Tonya said. “I remember thinking I would have someone to play with now.”
The girl looked dirty, poor, her hair in tangles. “She didn’t speak to me but she scared me,” Tonya said. “I will never forget that. Her eyes were dark and her teeth were wrong; sharp, a lot of them, and dirty also.”
Although the girl with the mouthful of needle-like teeth stood still and made no move toward her, Tonya jumped off the swing and ran inside. “Mom gave me a bath after supper and put me to bed,” she said. “The next day … I was too afraid to get out of bed cause I thought she would get me.”
That day, Tonya’s parents found her pet rabbit dead. Something had opened the lock on the hutch and shredded the rabbit. “I tried to tell my mom about the girl, but she was upset over my rabbit. We both were,” Tonya said. “To this day I remember her face, eyes, and teeth. She killed my rabbit. I knew it then, and know it now.”
My Brother’s Terror
Shay’s brother Korey was young when he became afraid of the dark. “He was just seven years of age and now at the age of 23 he still sticks firmly to his story,” Shay said.
Shay and Korey’s family moved from Arkansas to Olive Branch, Mississippi, in April 1996, and quickly adjusted to the new town, new home, and new school, but after three weeks, some things in the house were still missing. “We had no blinds on our windows,” Shay said. And that brought on Korey’s fear.
One night while Shay helped his mother cook dinner, his father watching television in the living room, Korey sat in his room doing homework. “He had only been in his room around 20 minutes when he came barreling down the hallway with the most horrifying scream I had ever heard with tears rolling down his face,” Shay said. “He nearly climbed my mother like a tree trunk all while trying to bury his face as to hide from something.”
The something was horrifying. “He said as he sat doing his homework he felt an eerie feeling like he was being watched and like something was calling to him,” Shay said. “He then said he glanced up at his window and saw a white-faced boy that looked like a ghost peering into the bottom of his window.”
Korey said, “Momma, he looked my age and I thought it was me at first, but when I got close to the window he blinked and moved closer, and he had all black eyes there wasn’t no white there.” Korey knew what he saw wasn’t his reflection; it was something wicked.
“I’m sure now if my brother would have stuck around without running away in fear the child may have asked him to let him in,” Shay said. “For nearly three weeks after the incident my brother being scared to sleep in his own room made camp underneath my daybed with my cocker spaniel Danny.” After that, Shay and Korey swapped rooms, but by then blinds hung from the windows – and Shay never opened them.
Sixteen years later, Shay knows the memory still terrifies Korey. “As I was leaving work at night somewhat frightened and feeling horrified to walk to my car alone, I called my brother,” Shay said. “I asked, ‘Korey, do you still remember that little boy you saw looking in your window all those years ago?’”
Korey’s voice was shaky in response. “The one with the black eyes?” he asked. “Shay, why did you have to bring that up?” Shay had read an Internet story about Black-Eyed Kids. “I wish you wouldn’t have told me that,” Korey said. “I’ve tried forgetting and it still terrifies me, especially now that I know it wasn’t just my eyes playing tricks on me.”

From: "Mysterious Universe"

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Tree by H.P. Lovecraft

The Tree


H.P. Lovecraft

On a verdant slope of Mount Maenalus, in Arcadia, there stands an olive grove about the ruins of a villa. Close by is a tomb, once beautiful with the sublimest sculptures, but now fallen into as great decay as the house. At one end of that tomb, its curious roots displacing the time-stained blocks of Panhellic marble, grows an unnaturally large olive tree of oddly repellent shape; so like to some grotesque man, or death-distorted body of a man, that the country folk fear to pass it at night when the moon shines faintly through the crooked boughs. Mount Maenalus is a chosen haunt of dreaded Pan, whose queer companions are many, and simple swains believe that the tree must have some hideous kinship to these weird Panisci; but an old bee-keeper who lives in the neighboring cottage told me a different story.
Many years ago, when the hillside villa was new and resplendent, there dwelt within it the two sculptors Kalos and Musides. From Lydia to Neapolis the beauty of their work was praised, and none dared say that the one excelled the other in skill. The Hermes of Kalos stood in a marble shrine in Corinth, and the Pallas of Musides surmounted a pillar in Athens near the Parthenon. All men paid homage to Kalos and Musides, and marvelled that no shadow of artistic jealousy cooled the warmth of their brotherly friendship.
But though Kalos and Musides dwelt in unbroken harmony, their natures were not alike. Whilst Musides revelled by night amidst the urban gaieties of Tegea, Saios would remain at home; stealing away from the sight of his slaves into the cool recesses of the olive grove. There he would meditate upon the visions that filled his mind, and there devise the forms of beauty which later became immortal in breathing marble. Idle folk, indeed, said that Kalos conversed with the spirits of the grove, and that his statues were but images of the fauns and dryads he met there for he patterned his work after no living model.
So famous were Kalos and Musides, that none wondered when the Tyrant of Syracuse sent to them deputies to speak of the costly statue of Tyche which he had planned for his city. Of great size and cunning workmanship must the statue be, for it was to form a wonder of nations and a goal of travellers. Exalted beyond thought would be he whose work should gain acceptance, and for this honor Kalos and Musides were invited to compete. Their brotherly love was well known, and the crafty Tyrant surmised that each, instead of concealing his work from the other, would offer aid and advice; this charity producing two images of unheard of beauty, the lovelier of which would eclipse even the dreams of poets.
With joy the sculptors hailed the Tyrant's offer, so that in the days that followed their slaves heard the ceaseless blows of chisels. Not from each other did Kalos and Musides conceal their work, but the sight was for them alone. Saving theirs, no eyes beheld the two divine figures released by skillful blows from the rough blocks that had imprisoned them since the world began.
At night, as of yore, Musides sought the banquet halls of Tegea whilst Kalos wandered alone in the olive Grove. But as time passed, men observed a want of gaiety in the once sparkling Musides. It was strange, they said amongst themselves that depression should thus seize one with so great a chance to win art's loftiest reward. Many months passed yet in the sour face of Musides came nothing of the sharp expectancy which the situation should arouse.
Then one day Musides spoke of the illness of Kalos, after which none marvelled again at his sadness, since the sculptors' attachment was known to be deep and sacred. Subsequently many went to visit Kalos, and indeed noticed the pallor of his face; but there was about him a happy serenity which made his glance more magical than the glance of Musides who was clearly distracted with anxiety and who pushed aside all the slaves in his eagerness to feed and wait upon his friend with his own hands. Hidden behind heavy curtains stood the two unfinished figures of Tyche, little touched of late by the sick man and his faithful attendant.
As Kalos grew inexplicably weaker and weaker despite the ministrations of puzzled physicians and of his assiduous friend, he desired to be carried often to the grove which he so loved. There he would ask to be left alone, as if wishing to speak with unseen things. Musides ever granted his requests, though his eyes filled with visible tears at the thought that Kalos should care more for the fauns and the dryads than for him. At last the end drew near, and Kalos discoursed of things beyond this life. Musides, weeping, promised him a sepulchre more lovely than the tomb of Mausolus; but Kalos bade him speak no more of marble glories. Only one wish now haunted the mind of the dying man; that twigs from certain olive trees in the grove be buried by his resting place-close to his head. And one night, sitting alone in the darkness of the olive grove, Kalos died. Beautiful beyond words was the marble sepulchre which stricken Musides carved for his beloved friend. None but Kalos himself could have fashioned such basreliefs, wherein were displayed all the splendours of Elysium. Nor did Musides fail to bury close to Kalos' head the olive twigs from the grove.
As the first violence of Musides' grief gave place to resignation, he labored with diligence upon his figure of Tyche. All honour was now his, since the Tyrant of Syracuse would have the work of none save him or Kalos. His task proved a vent for his emotion and he toiled more steadily each day, shunning the gaieties he once had relished. Meanwhile his evenings were spent beside the tomb of his friend, where a young olive tree had sprung up near the sleeper's head. So swift was the growth of this tree, and so strange was its form, that all who beheld it exclaimed in surprise; and Musides seemed at once fascinated and repelled.
Three years after the death of Kalos, Musides despatched a messenger to the Tyrant, and it was whispered in the agora at Tegea that the mighty statue was finished. By this time the tree by the tomb had attained amazing proportions, exceeding all other trees of its kind, and sending out a singularly heavy branch above the apartment in which Musides labored. As many visitors came to view the prodigious tree, as to admire the art of the sculptor, so that Musides was seldom alone. But he did not mind his multitude of guests; indeed, he seemed to dread being alone now that his absorbing work was done. The bleak mountain wind, sighing through the olive grove and the tomb-tree, had an uncanny way of forming vaguely articulate sounds.
The sky was dark on the evening that the Tyrant's emissaries came to Tegea. It was definitely known that they had come to bear away the great image of Tyche and bring eternal honour to Musides, so their reception by the proxenoi was of great warmth. As the night wore on a violent storm of wind broke over the crest of Maenalus, and the men from far Syracuse were glad that they rested snugly in the town. They talked of their illustrious Tyrant, and of the splendour of his capital and exulted in the glory of the statue which Musides had wrought for him. And then the men of Tegea spoke of the goodness of Musides, and of his heavy grief for his friend and how not even the coming laurels of art could console him in the absence of Kalos, who might have worn those laurels instead. Of the tree which grew by the tomb, near the head of Kalos, they also spoke. The wind shrieked more horribly, and both the Syracusans and the Arcadians prayed to Aiolos.
In the sunshine of the morning the proxenoi led the Tyrant's messengers up the slope to the abode of the sculptor, but the night wind had done strange things. Slaves' cries ascended from a scene of desolation, and no more amidst the olive grove rose the gleaming colonnades of that vast hall wherein Musides had dreamed and toiled. Lone and shaken mourned the humble courts and the lower walls, for upon the sumptuous greater peri-style had fallen squarely the heavy overhanging bough of the strange new tree, reducing the stately poem in marble with odd completeness to a mound of unsightly ruins. Strangers and Tegeans stood aghast, looking from the wreckage to the great, sinister tree whose aspect was so weirdly human and whose roots reached so queerly into the sculptured sepulchre of Kalos. And their fear and dismay increased when they searched the fallen apartment, for of the gentle Musides, and of the marvellously fashioned image of Tyche, no trace could be discovered. Amidst such stupendous ruin only chaos dwelt, and the representatives of two cities left disappointed; Syracusans that they had no statue to bear home, Tegeans that they had no artist to crown. However, the Syracusans obtained after a while a very splendid statue in Athens, and the Tegeans consoled themselves by erecting in the agora a marble temple commemorating the gifts, virtues, and brotherly piety of Musides.
But the olive grove still stands, as does the tree growing out of the tomb of Kalos, and the old bee-keeper told me that sometimes the boughs whisper to one another in the night wind, saying over and over again. "Oida! Oida! -I know! I know!"

-The End-
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Haunted House for Sale!

Is house a scary good deal?

The sales listing for a Wilkes-Barre property touts it as an “authentic haunted house.”

City resident Betsy Summers, who lives across the street, designed the advertisement hoping to stir up interest in the 46 S. Welles St. property. The owner, Katherine Watkins, died last year, and Summers said she is trying to help the family sell it.

Summers said she’s not making up the haunted claim, which has been detailed in several published reports.

“It has a pretty nasty reputation,” she said.

The house was featured in several Times Leader news articles from 1979 through 1982, with one prior owner describing the place as the area’s “own version of the ‘Amityville Horror.’ ”

Walker Bennett told reporters he moved out of the property in 1978 because it was haunted.

He described the ghostly figures of a well-dressed man with a cane and a girl in a nightgown, inexplicable sounds coming from the attic and walls, and bloody spots on walls and pools in the living room.

Bennett said he witnessed his daughter trip at the top of a steep flight of stairs in January 1977 and float slow-motion through the air to land on her feet at the bottom, unharmed. His wife witnessed the same thing happen again a month later, he said.

He said he knocked down the wall in a back bedroom seeking the source of strange sounds coming from that area and discovered a tin box containing a red ribbon, human molar and chicken bones tied together in the form of a cross. He theorized the objects were part of a voodoo curse against industrialist Augustus C. Lanning, who built the house in the mid-1860s as part of his estate.

Bennett also found a photo of Lanning and said it was the same man who kept knocking on his door.

He blamed the haunting on family illnesses and stress and brought in a priest to bless the house.

The Bennett family fled the house, leaving expensive electronic equipment and many other belongings, in March 1978, when Walker said he awoke to a thunderous roar, even though the weather was clear. He described footsteps pounding in the attic, a rattling front door, dishes crashing in the kitchen and the cry of a child behind a wall.

News reports said prior inhabitants committed suicide in the home in 1950 and 1940.

Paranormal investigators Ed and Loraine Warren, famed for their investigation of the Amityville house in New York featured in the book and movie, toured the Welles Street property in March 1980. A photograph of Lorraine shows her holding her hand “as if in pain” as she emerged from the home.

“I sense a terrible despair. The effect on people who lived in this house was very, very negative,” she said.

Neighbors have expressed mixed opinions on whether it was haunted.

Watkins purchased the four-bedroom, mortgage-foreclosed property in August 1982 for $20,000, generating an article with the headline, “‘Haunted’ house sold in Heights.” Watkins told reporters she was not afraid of ghosts.

A representative of the mortgage holder said the property had been remodeled and occupied by tenants after the “ridiculous publicity” about the haunting. The tenants said the property was not haunted.

Summers said Watkins, who was her friend, told her her family experienced unexplained phenomena, such as a shaking bed, moving objects and a light or television turning off when the power was still on.

Paranormal investigators also have captured activity in photographs  and on audio recordings, said Summers, a veterinary sales worker who has run for several local elected offices.

The 2,092-square-foot home is assessed at $63,200 and listed for sale at $30,000, though Summers said the family will consider any fair offers. Potential buyers can contact her at 610-955-6361.

The advertisement, which was listed in the Wilkes-Barre Independent Gazette, led to two showings of the property, she said.

“They were interested because it is haunted,” she said.

Summers said the family may opt to use the house for a haunted bed-and-breakfast if it doesn’t sell.

She said she regularly pops into the house to make sure it’s secure.

“I take care of what I have to do and get out. I try to ignore any noises I hear,” she said. - Times Leader

Originally posted here, on the "Phantoms and Monsters" blog:

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

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TEN LITTLE TERRORS Short Story Anthology

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Monday, April 1, 2013

H.P. Lovecraft’s Advice to Young Writers

Found this while google surfing.


“Literary Composition” by H.P. Lovecraft
(First published in the January, 1920 issue of The United Amateur)
In a former article our readers have been shewn the fundamental sources of literary inspiration, and the leading prerequisites to expression. It remains to furnish hints concerning expression itself; its forms, customs, and technicalities, in order that the young writer may lose nothing of force or charm in presenting his ideas to the public.


A review of the elements of English grammar would be foreign to the purpose of this department. The subject is one taught in all common schools, and may be presumed to be understood by every aspirant to authorship. It is necessary, however, to caution the beginner to keep a reliable grammar and dictionary always beside him, that he may avoid in his compositions the frequent errors which imperceptibly corrupt even the purest ordinary speech. As a general rule, it is well to give close critical scrutiny to all colloquial phrases and expressions of doubtful parsing, as well as to all words and usages which have a strained or unfamiliar sound. The human memory is not to be trusted too far, and most minds harbour a considerable number of slight linguistic faults and inelegancies picked up from random discourse or from the pages of newspapers, magazines, and popular modern books.

Types of Mistakes

Most of the mistakes of young authors, aside from those gross violations of syntax which ordinary education corrects, may perhaps be enumerated as follows.

(1) Erroneous plurals of nouns, as vallies or echos.
(2) Barbarous compound nouns, as viewpoint or upkeep.
(3) Want of correspondence in number between noun and verb where the two are widely separated or the construction involved.
(4) Ambiguous use of pronouns.
(5) Erroneous case of pronouns, as whom for who, and vice versa, or phrases like “between you and I,” or “Let we who are loyal, act promptly.”
(6) Erroneous use of shall and will, and of other auxiliary verbs.
(7) Use of intransitive for transitive verbs, as “he was graduated from college,” or vice versa, as “he ingratiated with the tyrant.”
(8) Use of nouns for verbs, as “he motored to Boston,” or “he voiced a protest.”
(9) Errors in moods and tenses of verbs, as “If I was he, I should do otherwise,” or “He said the earth was round.”
(10) The split infinitive, as “to calmly glide.”
(11) The erroneous perfect infinitive, as “Last week I expected to have met you.”
(12) False verb-forms, as “I pled with him.”
(13) Use of like for as, as “I strive to write like Pope wrote.”
(14) Misuse of prepositions, as “The gift was bestowed to an unworthy object,” or “The gold was divided between the five men.”
(15) The superfluous conjunction, as “I wish for you to do this.”
(16) Use of words in wrong senses, as “The book greatly intrigued me,” “Leave me take this,” “He was obsessed with the idea,” or “He is a meticulous writer.”
(17) Erroneous use of non-Anglicised foreign forms, as “a strange phenomena,” or “two stratas of clouds.”
(18) Use of false or unauthorized words, as burglarize or supremest.
(19) Errors of taste, including vulgarisms, pompousness, repetition, vagueness, ambiguousness, colloquialism, bathos, bombast, pleonasm, tautology, harshness, mixed metaphor, and every sort of rhetorical awkwardness.
(20) Errors of spelling and punctuation, and confusion of forms such as that which leads many to place an apostrophe in the possessive pronoun its.
Of all blunders, there is hardly one which might not be avoided through diligent study of simple textbooks on grammar and rhetoric, intelligent perusal of the best authors, and care and forethought in composition. Almost no excuse exists for their persistent occurrence, since the sources of correction are so numerous and so available. Many of the popular manuals of good English are extremely useful, especially to persons whose reading is not as yet extensive; but such works sometimes err in being too pedantically precise and formal. For correct writing, the cultivation of patience and mental accuracy is essential. Throughout the young author’s period of apprenticeship, he must keep reliable dictionaries and textbooks at his elbow; eschewing as far as possible that hasty extemporaneous manner of writing which is the privilege of more advanced students. He must take no popular usage for granted, nor must he ever hesitate, in case of doubt, to fall back on the authority of his books.


No aspiring author should content himself with a mere acquisition of technical rules. As Mrs. Renshaw remarked in the preceding article, “Impression should ever precede and be stronger than expression.” All attempts at gaining literary polish must begin with judicious reading, and the learner must never cease to hold this phase uppermost. In many cases, the usage of good authors will be found a more effective guide than any amount of precept. A page of Addison or of Irving will teach more of style than a whole manual of rules, whilst a story of Poe’s will impress upon the mind a more vivid notion of powerful and correct description and narration than will ten dry chapters of a bulky textbook. Let every student read unceasingly the best writers, guided by the admirable Reading Table which has adorned the UNITED AMATEUR during the past two years.
It is also important that cheaper types of reading, if hitherto followed, be dropped. Popular magazines inculcate a careless and deplorable style which is hard to unlearn, and which impedes the acquisition of a purer style. If such things must be read, let them be skimmed over as lightly as possible. An excellent habit to cultivate is the analytical study of the King James Bible. For simple yet rich and forceful English, this masterly production is hard to equal; and even though its Saxon vocabulary and poetic rhythm be unsuited to general composition, it is an invaluable model for writers on quaint or imaginative themes. Lord Dunsany, perhaps the greatest living prose artist, derived nearly all of his stylistic tendencies from the Scriptures; and the contemporary critic Boyd points out very acutely the loss sustained by most Catholic Irish writers through their unfamiliarity with the historic volume and its traditions.


One superlatively important effect of wide reading is the enlargement of vocabulary which always accompanies it. The average student is gravely impeded by the narrow range of words from which he must choose, and he soon discovers that in long compositions he cannot avoid monotony. In reading, the novice should note the varied mode of expression practiced by good authors, and should keep in his mind for future use the many appropriate synonymes he encounters. Never should an unfamiliar word be passed over without elucidation; for with a little conscientious research we may each day add to our conquests in the realm of philology, and become more and more ready for graceful independent expression.

But in enlarging the vocabulary, we must beware lest we misuse our new possessions. We must remember that there are fine distinctions betwixt apparently similar words, and that language must ever be selected with intelligent care. As the learned Dr. Blair points out in his Lectures, “Hardly in any language are there two words that convey precisely the same idea; a person thoroughly conversant in the propriety of language will always be able to observe something that distinguishes them.”

Elemental Phases

Before considering the various formal classes of composition, it is well to note certain elements common to them all. Upon analysis, every piece of writing will be found to contain one or more of the following basic principles: Description, or an account of the appearance of things; Narration, or an account of the actions of things; Exposition, which defines and explains with precision and lucidity; Argument, which discovers truth and rejects error; and Persuasion, which urges to certain thoughts or acts. The first two are the bases of fiction; the third didactic, scientific, historical and editorial writings. The fourth and fifth are mostly employed in conjunction with the third, in scientific, philosophical, and partisan literature. All these principles, however, are usually mingled with one another. The work of fiction may have its scientific, historical, or argumentative side; whilst the textbook or treatise may be embellished with descriptions and anecdotes.


Description, in order to be effective, calls upon two mental qualities; observation and discrimination. Many descriptions depend for their vividness upon the accurate reproduction of details; others upon the judicious selection of salient, typical, or significant points.
One cannot be too careful in the selection of adjectives for descriptions. Words or compounds which describe precisely, and which convey exactly the right suggestions to the mind of the reader, are essential. As an example, let us consider the following list of epithets applicable to a fountain, taken from Richard Green Parker’s admirable work on composition.
Crystal, gushing, rustling, silver, gently-gliding, parting, pearly, weeping, bubbling, gurgling, chiding, clear, grass-fringed, moss-fringed, pebble-paved, verdant, sacred, grass-margined, moss-margined, trickling, soft, dew-sprinkled, fast-flowing, delicate, delicious, clean, straggling, dancing, vaulting, deep-embosomed, leaping, murmuring, muttering, whispering, prattling, twaddling, swelling, sweet-rolling, gently-flowing, rising, sparkling, flowing, frothy, dew-distilling, dew-born, exhaustless, inexhaustible, never-decreasing, never-failing, heaven-born, earth-born, deep-divulging, drought-dispelling, thirst-allaying, refreshing, soul-refreshing, earth-refreshing, laving, lavish, plant-nourishing.
For the purpose of securing epithets at once accurate and felicitous, the young author should familiarize himself thoroughly with the general aspect and phenomena of Nature, as well as with the ideas and associations which these things produce in the human mind.
Descriptions may be of objects, of places, of animals, and of persons. The complete description of an object may be said to consist of the following elements:

1. When, where, and how seen; when made or found; how affected by time.
2. History and traditional associations.
3. Substance and manner of origin.
4. Size, shape, and appearance.
5. Analogies with similar objects.
6. Sensations produced by contemplating it.
7. Its purpose or function.
8. Its effects—the results of its existence.
Descriptions of places must of course vary with the type of the place. Of natural scenery, the following elements are notable:

1. How beheld—at dawn, noon, evening, or night; by starlight or moonlight.
2. Natural features—flat or hilly; barren or thickly grown; kind of vegetation; trees, mountains, and rivers.
3. Works of man—cultivation, edifices, bridges; modifications of scenery produced by man.
4. Inhabitants and other forms of animal life.
5. Local customs and traditions.
6. Sounds—of water; forest; leaves; birds; barnyards; human beings; machinery.
7. View—prospect on every side, and the place itself as seen from afar.
8. Analogies to other scenes, especially famous scenes.
9. History and associations.
10. Sensations produced by contemplating it.
Descriptions of animals may be analyzed thus:

1. Species and size.
2. Covering.
3. Parts.
4. Abode.
5. Characteristics and habits.
6. Food.
7. Utility or harmfulness.
8. History and associations.
Descriptions of persons can be infinitely varied. Sometimes a single felicitous touch brings out the whole type and character, as when the modern author Leonard Merrick hints at shabby gentility by mentioning the combination of a frock coat with the trousers of a tweed suit. Suggestion is very powerful in this field, especially when mental qualities are to be delineated. Treatment should vary with the author’s object; whether to portray a mere personified idea, or to give a quasi photographic view, mental and physical, of some vividly living character. In a general description, the following elements may be found:

1. Appearance, stature, complexion, proportions, features.
2. Most conspicuous feature.
3. Expression.
4. Grace or ugliness.
5. Attire—nature, taste, quality.
6. Habits, attainments, graces, or awkwardnesses.
7. Character—moral and intellectual—place in the community.
8. Notable special qualities.
In considering the preceding synopses, the reader must remember that they are only suggestions, and not for literal use. The extent of any description is to be determined by its place in the composition; by taste and fitness. It should be added, that in fiction description must not be carried to excess. A plethora of it leads to dulness, so that it must ever be balanced by a brisk flow of Narration, which we are about to consider.


Narration is an account of action, or of successive events, either real or imagined; and is therefore the basis both of history and of fiction. To be felicitous and successful, it demands an intelligent exercise of taste and discrimination; salient points must be selected, and the order of time and of circumstances must be well maintained. It is deemed wisest in most cases to give narratives a climactic form; leading from lesser to greater events, and culminating in that chief incident upon which the story is primarily founded, or which makes the other parts important through its own importance. This principle, of course, cannot be literally followed in all historical and biographical narratives.

Fictional Narration

The essential point of fictional narration is plot, which may be defined as a sequence of incidents designed to awaken the reader’s interest and curiosity as to the result. Plots may be simple or complex; but suspense, and climactic progress from one incident to another, are essential. Every incident in a fictional work should have some bearing on the climax or denouement, and any denouement which is not the inevitable result of the preceding incidents is awkward and unliterary. No formal course in fiction-writing can equal a close and observant perusal of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe or Ambrose Bierce. In these masterpieces one may find that unbroken sequence and linkage of incident and result which mark the ideal tale. Observe how, in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” each separate event foreshadows and leads up to the tremendous catastrophe and its hideous suggestion. Poe was an absolute master of the mechanics of his craft. Observe also how Bierce can attain the most stirring denouements from a few simple happenings; denouements which develop purely from these preceding circumstances.

In fictional narration, verisimilitude is absolutely essential. A story must be consistent and must contain no event glaringly removed from the usual order of things, unless that event is the main incident, and is approached with the most careful preparation. In real life, odd and erratic things do occasionally happen; but they are out of place in an ordinary story, since fiction is a sort of idealization of the average. Development should be as lifelike as possible, and a weak, trickling conclusion should be assiduously avoided. The end of a story must be stronger rather than weaker than the beginning; since it is the end which contains the denouement or culmination, and which will leave the strongest impression upon the reader. It would not be amiss for the novice to write the last paragraph of his story first, once a synopsis of the plot has been carefully prepared—as it always should be. In this way he will be able to concentrate his freshest mental vigour upon the most important part of his narrative; and if any changes be later found needful, they can easily be made. In no part of a narrative should a grand or emphatic thought or passage be followed by one of tame or prosaic quality. This is anticlimax, and exposes a writer to much ridicule. Notice the absurd effect of the following couplet—which was, however, written by no less a person than Waller:
“Under the tropic is our language spoke,And part of Flanders hath receiv’d our yoke.”
Unity, Mass, Coherence

In developing a theme, whether descriptive or narrative, it is necessary that three structural qualities be present: Unity, Mass, and Coherence. Unity is that principle whereby every part of a composition must have some bearing on the central theme. It is the principle which excludes all extraneous matter, and demands that all threads converge toward the climax. Classical violations of Unity may be found in the episodes of Homer and other epic poets of antiquity, as well as in the digressions of Fielding and other celebrated novelists; but no beginner should venture to emulate such liberties. Unity is the quality we have lately noted and praised in Poe and Bierce.

Mass is that principle which requires the more important parts of a composition to occupy correspondingly important places in the whole composition, the paragraph, and the sentence. It is that law of taste which insists that emphasis be placed where emphasis is due, and is most strikingly embodied in the previously mentioned necessity for an emphatic ending. According to this law, the end of a composition is its most important part, with the beginning next in importance.
Coherence is that principle which groups related parts together and keeps unrelated parts removed from one another. It applies, like Mass, to the whole composition, the paragraph, or the sentence. It demands that kindred events be narrated without interruption, effect following cause in a steady flow.

Forms of Composition

Few writers succeed equally in all the various branches of literature. Each type of thought has its own particular form of expression, based on natural appropriateness; and the average author tends to settle into that form which best fits his particular personality. Many, however, follow more than one form; and some writers change from one form to another as advancing years produce alterations in their mental processes or points of view.

It is well, in the interests of breadth and discipline, for the beginner to exercise himself to some degree in every form of literary art. He may thus discover that which best fits his mind, and develop hitherto unsuspected potentialities.

We have so far surveyed only those simpler phases of writing which centre in prose fiction and descriptive essays. Hereafter we hope to touch upon didactic, argumentative, and persuasive writing; to investigate to some extent the sources of rhetorical strength and elegance; and to consider a few major aspects of versification.

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