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A Few Works More with The Terrifying and Creepy


 

 

Terrifying and creepy tales that incorporate cosmic and folk horrors and the weird, with mythos, the occult, within the wilderness, the woods, farms, in places of worship, amongst congregations and followers, in antiquity, with damnable books and entities, worms and leeches, dolls and clowns.

They are all must reads!

Forgive me for any errors in parts found for I am only human being and can err. I will in time soon maybe have a longer essay on these weird tales with writing to accompany this and may even have some authors to write an essay or two I will keep any update posted on my twitter feed on any developments. More stories maybe added over coming months.
Thank you kindly and I hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as I did of old and new tales.

The stories recommended below are:

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe 1839
The Repairer of Reputations by R. W. Chambers 1895
The White People by Arthur Machen 1904
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood 1907
The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood 1910
The Colour Out of Space by H.P. Lovecraft 1927
Black Stone by Robert E. Howard 1931
The Beast of Averoigne by Clark Ashton Smith 1933
Black God’s Kiss by C. L. Moore 1934
The Events at Poroth Farm by T.E.D Klein 1972
In the Pines by Karl Edward Wagner 1973
Sticks by Karl Edward Wagner 1974
Children of the Corn by Stephen King 1977
The Last Feast of Harlequin by Thomas Ligotti 1990
Nethescurial by Thomas Ligotti 1991
The Men from Porlock by Laird Barron 2011
Mysterium Tremendum by Laird Barron 2010
The King of Stones by Simon Strantzas 2021

 


 

 

The Fall of the House of Usher
by Edgar Allan Poe

First published in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in 1839 then included in the author’s collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in 1840.
Available now in a penguin classic edition The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings: Poems, Tales, Essays, and Reviews and American Supernatural Tales.

 

The gothic artistry and mastery with a poetic prose transfixing the reader amidst the disquieting atmosphere and insidiousness within the Usher house, the decay and trepidation, and all that is bedeviled and possessed within last of the Ushers, a madness unraveling and succumbing, pervading the heart of the reader within a phantasmagoria extraordinaire.
There will be a rapid progession of disintegration and disunion of family and home, fissures to a finality and extinction of the Usher home and clan.
A must read short story with sublime words and sentences that just have you want to reread and observe descriptive writing and prose, a terrible beauty poetically layered down word by word with great effect in this pioneering psychologicaly probing horror tale.

In Michael Cisco’s Weird Fiction A genre Study he writes in his case study of this work:

“The Fall of the House of Usher” builds carefully to the final reading scene, in which hackneyed Gothic tropes take on dire implications within the narrative. It is an ingenious double gambit by Poe. The story takes on a self-aware quality, so that it seems to know it is being read, and invites a parallelism between the reader in the story and the reader of the story, bringing both onto the same plane in a culminating erasure of clear distinctions that then erupts in apocalyptic imagery, making the fall of the house an image for the end of the world. The world is the master identity; all other identities combine in it.”

This analysis and case studies serve as something to ponder further on great works and allow the art to ruminate more amongst subjective views, wether you agree on the analysis or not, third eyes are always welcome on deciphering art.

 

Excerpts

 

“There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart—an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime. What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher?”

“He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain texture; the odors of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror.”

“Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a rapid ghastly river,
Through the pale door,
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh—but smile no more.”

“It was, indeed, a tempestuous yet sternly beautiful night, and one wildly singular in its terror and its beauty.”

 

 


 

 

The Repairer of Reputations
by R. W. Chambers

First published in 1895 by F.Tennyson Neely publications in the collection The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers.
Re-published in many editions, languages, and anthologies through the years and of recent in Shadows of Carcosa: Tales of Cosmic Horror 2015, The Harbor-Master: Best Weird Stories of Robert W. Chamber with Hippocampus Press, and The King of Yellow, by Poisoned Pen Press 2021.
Nowadays also available free online to read.

“Ne raillons pas les fous; leur folie dure plus longtemps que la nôtre…. Voila toute la différence.”

“Let’s not mock the mad; their madness lasts longer than ours…. That’s the difference.”

Poor Mr. Castaigne with a fall from horse 4 years prior, brain damage, sent to asylum for treatment, signed off as insane but eventually freed.
Was he insane?
What about the initiated and the yellow sign?

He does mention this about his mind:
“I am not mentally weak; my mind is as healthy as Mr. Wilde’s. I do not care to explain just yet what I have on hand, but it is an investment which will pay more than mere gold, silver and precious stones. It will secure the happiness and prosperity of a continent—yes, a hemisphere!”
The actions that occur do display caution in his being.
His reading of the king in yellow book irreversibly changed it all.
After all, “It is well known how the book spread like an infectious disease, from city to city, from continent to continent, barred out here, confiscated there, denounced by Press and pulpit, censured even by the most advanced of literary anarchists.”

Mr Wilde is rather different and disfigured he had also stayed in an asylum like that of Hildred Castaigne, but the episodes of insane behaviour are they something inspired, similar to a Hex, with the reading of the play The King in Yellow with the right intent and all part of the wait for the Yellow Sign, the calling and rising?
These matters do ruminant and transfix the reader long after reading.

Eerie fates envisioned in this tale.
Please no lethal chambers.
I declare all lethal chambers closed indefinitely!
There are reputations needing repaired. A lucrative job that I must endeavour to learn and master and reap blessings from afar, I await the yellow sign and the uprising en masse.
I may also “live in an ecstasy of expectation.”

This was an intriguingly creepy mysterious tale with one man’s minds unraveling in connection with the damnable King in Yellow Book/play and The King in Yellow.

 

Names and aspects contained:

April 1920
1st lethal chamber
Washington square
Madison Avenue
Bleecker street

Dr John Archer
Hildred Castaigne
Louis Castaigne
Mr. Wilde Repairer of Reputations
Cat
Hawberk, Armourer
Constance Hawberk
Oswald Vance

Carcosa
Hastur
Aldebaran
Hyades
Cassilda
Camilla
Demhe
Lake of Hali
Yhtill
Uoht
Naotalba
Phantom of Truth
Aldones
The Last King

 

Excerpts

 

“Everywhere good architecture was replacing bad, and even in New York, a sudden craving for decency had swept away a great portion of the existing horrors. Streets had been widened, properly paved and lighted, trees had been planted, squares laid out, elevated structures demolished and underground roads built to replace them.”

“The fall from my horse had fortunately left no evil results; on the contrary it had changed my whole character for the better. From a lazy young man about town, I had become active, energetic, temperate, and above all—oh, above all else—ambitious.”

“During my convalescence I had bought and read for the first time The King in Yellow. I remember after finishing the first act that it occurred to me that I had better stop.”

“This is the thing that troubles me, for I cannot forget Carcosa where black stars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men’s thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali; and my mind will bear for ever the memory of the Pallid Mask. I pray God will curse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with this beautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistible in its truth—a world which now trembles before the King in Yellow.”

“It could not be judged by any known standard, yet, although it was acknowledged that the supreme note of art had been struck in The King in Yellow, all felt that human nature could not bear the strain, nor thrive on words in which the essence of purest poison lurked.”

“The laws prohibiting suicide and providing punishment for any attempt at self-destruction have been repealed. The Government has seen fit to acknowledge the right of man to end an existence which may have become intolerable to him, through physical suffering or mental despair. It is believed that the community will be benefited by the removal of such people from their midst. Since the passage of this law, the number of suicides in the United States has not increased. Now the Government has determined to establish a Lethal Chamber in every city, town and village in the country, it remains to be seen whether or not that class of human creatures from whose desponding ranks new victims of self-destruction fall daily will accept the relief thus provided.”

“No, he is not vicious, nor is he in the least demented. His mind is a wonder chamber, from which he can extract treasures that you and I would give years of our life to acquire.”
Hawberk laughed. I continued a little impatiently:
“He knows history as no one else Hawberk laughed. I continued a little impatiently: “He knows history as no one else”

“The ambition of Caesar and of Napoleon pales before that which could not rest until it had seized the minds of men and controlled even their unborn thoughts,” said Mr. Wilde.
“You are speaking of the King in Yellow,” I groaned, with a shudder.

“I am not mentally weak; my mind is as healthy as Mr. Wilde’s. I do not care to explain just yet what I have on hand, but it is an investment which will pay more than mere gold, silver and precious stones. It will secure the happiness and prosperity of a continent—yes, a hemisphere!”
“Oh,” said Hawberk.
“And eventually,” I continued more quietly, “it will secure the happiness of the whole world.”

“I looked at the man on the floor. “Get up, Vance,” said Mr. Wilde in a gentle voice. Vance rose as if hypnotized. “He will do as we suggest now,” observed Mr. Wilde, and opening the manuscript, he read the entire history of the Imperial Dynasty of America. Then in a kind and soothing murmur he ran over the important points with Vance, who stood like one stunned. His eyes were so blank and vacant that I imagined he had become half-witted, and remarked it to Mr. Wilde who replied that it was of no consequence anyway. Very patiently we pointed out to Vance what his share in the affair would be, and he seemed to understand after a while. Mr. Wilde explained the manuscript, using several volumes on Heraldry, to substantiate the result of his researches. He mentioned the establishment of the Dynasty in Carcosa, the lakes which connected Hastur, Aldebaran and the mystery of the Hyades. He spoke of Cassilda and Camilla, and sounded the cloudy depths of Demhe, and the Lake of Hali. “The scolloped tatters of the King in Yellow must hide Yhtill for ever,” he muttered, but I do not believe Vance heard him. Then by degrees he led Vance along the ramifications of the Imperial family, to Uoht and Thale, from Naotalba and Phantom of Truth, to Aldones, and then tossing aside his manuscript and notes, he began the wonderful story of the Last King. Fascinated and thrilled I watched him. He threw up his head, his long arms were stretched out in a magnificent gesture of pride and power, and his eyes blazed deep in their sockets like two emeralds. Vance listened stupefied. As for me, when at last Mr. Wilde had finished, and pointing to me, cried, “The cousin of the King!” my head swam with excitement.”

“..every man whose name was there had received the Yellow Sign which no living human being dared disregard. The city, the state, the whole land, were ready to rise and tremble before the Pallid Mask.
The time had come, the people should know the son of Hastur, and the whole world bow to the black stars which hang in the sky over Carcosa.”

 

 

Creator:Tucker Sherry / AmazingMoondog, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 


 

 

 

The White People
by Arthur Machen

 

First published in 1904 in Horlick’s Magazine and then in Machen’s collection The House of Souls in 1906.
Available now in a penguin classic edition The White People and Other Weird Stories, Shadows of Carcosa: Tales of Cosmic Horror by Lovecraft, Chambers, Machen, Poe, and Other Masters of the Weird, The Big Book of Modern Fantasy edited by Vandermeer and Doorway to Dilemma: Bewildering Tales of Dark Fantasy.

 

The first part of this story contains paradoxes uttered by Ambrose with Cotgrave with a discourse on sin and evil and the nature of it.
Like this:

“The merely carnal, sensual man can no more be a great sinner than he can be a great saint. Most of us are just indifferent, mixed-up creatures; we muddle through the world without realizing the meaning and the inner sense of things, and, consequently, our wickedness and our goodness are alike second-rate, unimportant.”

“So you see that while the good and the evil are unnatural to man as he now is—to man the social, civilized being—evil is unnatural in a much deeper sense than good.”

The story then shifts in the second part named the Green Book to the reading of the Green Book by Cotgrave and we are reading a first person narration of it by a young girl.

“Ambrose undid a wrapping of paper, and produced a green book.
“You will take care of it?” he said. “Don’t leave it lying about. It is one of the choicer pieces in my collection, and I should be very sorry if it were lost.”
He fondled the faded binding.
“I knew the girl who wrote this,” he said. “When you read it, you will see how it illustrates the talk we have had to-night. There is a sequel, too, but I won’t talk of that.”

The third part named epilogue they dicuss the findings from this book Cotgrave and Ambrose with questions like:

“And you believe that there are such things?”
“Yes; but I want to know whether you seriously think that there is any foundation of fact beneath these fancies. Is it not all a department of poetry; a curious dream which man has indulged himself?”

Do you like secrets?
There are many in here according to the author of the Green Book, the unnamed young girl, who explicates and wonders on the nurses secret tales.
She tells of her dilemma:

“I was a long time before I could make up my mind to anything; there was such a strange fluttering at my heart that seemed to whisper to me all the time that I had not made it up out of my head, and yet it seemed quite impossible, and I knew my father and everybody would say it was dreadful rubbish. I never dreamed of telling him or anybody else a word about it, because I knew it would be of no use, and I should only get laughed at or scolded, so for a long time I was very quiet, and went about thinking and wondering; and at night I used to dream of amazing things, and sometimes I woke up in the early morning and held out my arms with a cry.”

“But I shall always remember those days if I live to be quite old, because all the time I felt so strange, wondering and doubting, and feeling quite sure at one time, and making up my mind, and then I would feel quite sure that such things couldn’t happen really, and it began all over again.”

Wicked songs, wicked stones, wicked hollow pit and clay doll, and wicked white people.
Those darn wicked white people!

Peculiarity and mystery in the green book where one girl narrates in first person of her haunting and enchanting adventure, her unraveling and understanding with the feeling of joy and terror juxtaposed with the secrets out in the woods amongst grey stone slabs mesmerising you to read on.

“And I went on, and at last I found a certain wood, which is too secret to be described, and nobody knows of the passage into it, which I found out in a very curious manner, by seeing some little animal run into the wood through it. So I went in after the animal by a very narrow dark way, under thorns and bushes, and it was almost dark when I came to a kind of open place in the middle. And there I saw the most wonderful sight I have ever seen, but it was only for a minute, as I ran away directly, and crept out of the wood by the passage I had come by, and ran and ran as fast as ever I could, because I was afraid, what I had seen was so wonderful and so strange and beautiful.”

Dare not wonder through a brook, bushes, then thorny thickets and dark woods.
Do not do gestures with you hands and make signs and use Xu language.
Tread carefully with all the wicked imagery, there are hidden aspects within the apparrent, ones of terror and savagery ensued by great expectations of society, men and beliefs.

Michale Cisco’s scholarly work  Weird Fiction a genre Study, delves deeply in analysis on this work and he refers to various past anaylsis and he has his own deeper understanding, a splendid insightful deciphering.

A quote from his anaylsis:

 

“The horror is that the innocent girl is being corrupted without her knowledge, singing wicked songs without seeing their wickedness, posing her body in alignment with the stones, even though these stones are men, hard men, who want her. Machen stages and restages the same menacing scene of innocence and corruption throughout the story in order to prepare us for an ending without explanations. If she is not carried off by desire, then she is carried off by a lack of any resistance to whatever it is that desires her, the sort of enforcement of her own boundaries that chastity requires. Identity then might be understood as a kind of chaste marriage to the self, fidelity to the self.
The feeling of alienage is masterfully developed over the succeeding paragraphs. The English landscape becomes another planet, the natural rocks form unnatural, esoteric patterns, a hidden order that can never be understood, because it is only a simulacrum of order. Machen uses protracted sentences to induce vertigo, the feeling of being carried away by impressions, alternating with shorter, more telegraphic sentences, to give us a combination of an intensely excited desire to describe and communicate with an inability to find language commensurate to what it describes.”

 

Excerpts:

“Sorcery and sanctity,” said Ambrose, “these are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from the common life.”
Cotgrave listened, interested. He had been brought by a friend to this mouldering house in a northern suburb, through an old garden to the room where Ambrose the recluse dozed and dreamed over his books.”

“The merely carnal, sensual man can no more be a great sinner than he can be a great saint. Most of us are just indifferent, mixed-up creatures; we muddle through the world without realizing the meaning and the inner sense of things, and, consequently, our wickedness and our goodness are alike second-rate, unimportant.”

“Evil in its essence is a lonely thing, a passion of the solitary, individual soul? Really, the average murderer, qua murderer, is not by any means a sinner in the true sense of the word. He is simply a wild beast that we have to get rid of to save our own necks from his knife. I should class him rather with tigers than with sinners.”

“All these are most secret secrets, and I am glad when I remember what they are, and how many wonderful languages I know, but there are some things that I call the secrets of the secrets of the secrets that I dare not think of unless I am quite alone, and then I shut my eyes, and put my hands over them and whisper the word, and the Alala comes.”

“They used to talk to me, and I learnt their language and talked to them in it about some great white place where they lived, where the trees and the grass were all white, and there were white hills as high up as the moon, and a cold wind.”

“So they left me there, and I sat quite still and watched, and out of the water and out of the wood came two wonderful white people, and they began to play and dance and sing. They were a kind of creamy white like the old ivory figure in the drawing-room; one was a beautiful lady with kind dark eyes, and a grave face, and long black hair, and she smiled such a strange sad smile at the other, who laughed and came to her. They played together, and danced round and round the pool, and they sang a song till I fell asleep.”

“I felt I had come such a long, long way, just as if I were a hundred miles from home, or in some other country, or in one of the strange places I had read about in the Tales of the Genie and the Arabian Nights, or as if I had gone across the sea, far away, for years and I had found another world that nobody had ever seen or heard of before, or as if I had somehow flown through the sky and fallen on one of the stars I had read about where everything is dead and cold and grey, and there is no air, and the wind doesn’t blow. I sat on the stone and looked all round and down and round about me. It was just as if I was sitting on a tower in the middle of a great empty town,

“I thought of “for ever and for ever, world without end, Amen”; and I thought I must have really found the end of the world, because it was like the end of everything, as if there could be nothing at all beyond, except the kingdom of Voor, where the light goes when it is put out, and the water goes when the sun takes it away. I began to think of all the long, long way I had journeyed, how I had found a brook and followed it, and followed it on, and gone through bushes and thorny thickets, and dark woods full of creeping thorns.”

“There was nothing but the grey, heavy sky and the sides of the hollow; everything else had gone away, and the hollow was the whole world, and I thought that at night it must be full of ghosts and moving shadows and pale things when the moon shone down to the bottom at the dead of the night, and the wind wailed up above. It was so strange and solemn and lonely, like a hollow temple of dead heathen gods. It reminded me of a tale my nurse had told me when I was quite little; it was the same nurse that took me into the wood where I saw the beautiful white people. And I remembered how nurse had told me the story one winter night, when the wind was beating the trees against the wall, and crying and moaning in the nursery chimney. She said there was, somewhere or other, a hollow pit, just like the one I was standing in, everybody was afraid to go into it or near it, it was such a bad place.”

“So I did the charm over again, and touched my eyes and my lips and my hair in a peculiar manner, and said the old words from the fairy language, so that I might be sure I had not been carried away.”

“I was a long time before I could make up my mind to anything; there was such a strange fluttering at my heart that seemed to whisper to me all the time that I had not made it up out of my head, and yet it seemed quite impossible, and I knew my father and everybody would say it was dreadful rubbish. I never dreamed of telling him or anybody else a word about it, because I knew it would be of no use, and I should only get laughed at or scolded, so for a long time I was very quiet, and went about thinking and wondering; and at night I used to dream of amazing things, and sometimes I woke up in the early morning and held out my arms with a cry.”

“And if it was something more than ever secret, we had to hide in brakes or woods; and I used to think it was such fun creeping along a hedge, and going very softly, and then we would get behind the bushes or run into the wood all of a sudden, when we were sure that none was watching us; so we knew that we had our secrets quite all to ourselves, and nobody else at all knew anything about them. Now and then, when we had hidden ourselves as I have described, she used to show me all sorts of odd things.

“But I shall always remember those days if I live to be quite old, because all the time I felt so strange, wondering and doubting, and feeling quite sure at one time, and making up my mind, and then I would feel quite sure that such things couldn’t happen really, and it began all over again.”

 

 


 

 

 

The Willows
by Algernon Blackwood

 

First published in the authors story collection The listener and Other Stories in 1907, appeared in story anthology Famous Modern Ghost Stories in 1921. Reprinted in various of the authors collections, appeared in pulp magazine Tales of the Uncanny in 1934. Boris Karloff edited and had written an introduction to an anthology named Tales of Terror 1943.
This available in recent collections The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, Roarings from Further Out and in Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories newest reprint of authors stories by The British Library and Penguin books.

A certain willows, a Dunabe lake, a Black Forest, in the month of June, a land and a realm of beauty and awe but thou who trespass a sojourn with disquieting malevolent malefic transmutation ineludible in a “beyond region” succumbing the mind and soul of man.

Various complexities and emotions visceraly brought alive amongst the wilderness, feelings of wonder and awe will turn, shifting souls to ones of disquietude and terror running through the two interlopers about to witness “multitudinous little patterings.” and “torrent of humming” perplexity and survival will arise and a “new order of experience, and in the true sense of the word unearthly.”

Alegron Blackwood in 1907 had crafted a masterful work, the uncanny with man against something else in the cosmos another entity, jutaxpostioning the reader in the remote with a closeness to the distant, a transcendence with minds and souls at battle and deciphering these new perplpexities along with the atomsphere all brought alive with the great prose style, words delving into the psychological realm sewn in with the magnificence of a poet.

I refer to a scholarly work written by Michael Cisco Weird Fiction a genre Study, containing a case study on this work along with other great short works, with great analysis from one educated on the weird he mentions this:

“Here my thesis is spelled out very plainly: the danger in weird fiction is a threat to identity. Blackwood posits a new order of experience, the unhuman and unearthly, the infinity of experience which is everywhere, hence the lability of the man in the boat, the otter, and the willows. In these circumstances, it is insignificance that protects us; what is significant, symbolic, is part of this uncanny world, and the insignificance of our ordinariness is safe, because it has no hidden dimension. The symbolic world acts through the willows by using them as symbols, so instead of materializing in the willows, the willows are being diaphanized and turned into something immaterial, symbols. For Blackwood, the divine realm is a domain of independent, autonomous, uncreated symbols, rather than, for example, Platonically perfect ideas. What the narrator discovers, through direct experience, then, is a transcendence where meaning precedes being.”

These anaylsis and case studies also serve as something to ponder further on great works and allow the art to ruminate more amongst subjective views,wether you agree on the analysis or not, third eyes are always welcome on deciphering art.

 

 

Excerpts

 

“The change came suddenly, as when a series of bioscope pictures snaps down on the streets of a town and shifts without warning into the scenery of lake and forest. We entered the land of desolation on wings, and in less than half an hour there was neither boat nor fishing-hut nor red roof, nor any single sign of human habitation and civilization within sight. The sense of remoteness from the world of humankind, the utter isolation, the fascination of this singular world of willows, winds, and waters, instantly laid its spell upon us both, so that we allowed laughingly to one another that we ought by rights to have held some special kind of passport to admit us, and that we had, somewhat audaciously, come without asking leave into a separate little kingdom of wonder and magic—a kingdom that was reserved for the use of others who had a right to it, with everywhere unwritten warnings to trespassers for those who had the imagination to discover them.”

“The eeriness of this lonely island, set among a million willows, swept by a hurricane, and surrounded by hurrying deep waters, touched us both, I fancy. Untrodden by man, almost unknown to man, it lay there beneath the moon, remote from human influence, on the frontier of another world, an alien world, a world tenanted by willows only and the souls of willows. And we, in our rashness, had dared to invade it, even to make use of it! Something more than the power of its mystery stirred in me as I lay on the sand, feet to fire, and peered up through the leaves at the stars. For the last time I rose to get firewood.”

“..we were interlopers, trespassers; we were not welcomed. The sense of unfamiliarity grew upon me as I stood there watching. We touched the frontier of a region where our presence was resented. For a night’s lodging we might perhaps be tolerated; but for a prolonged and inquisitive stay—No! by all the gods of the trees and wilderness, no! We were the first human influences upon this island, and we were not wanted. The willows were against us.”

“”Death, according to one’s belief, means either annihilation or release from the limitations of the senses, but it involves no change of character. You don’t suddenly alter just because the body’s gone. But this means a radical alteration, a complete change, a horrible loss of oneself by substitution—far worse than death, and not even annihilation. We happen to have camped in a spot where their region touches ours, where the veil between has worn thin”—horrors!”

“The psychology of places, for some imaginations at least, is very vivid; for the wanderer, especially, camps have their “note” either of welcome or rejection.”

“All my life,” he said, “I have been strangely, vividly conscious of another region—not far removed from our own world in one sense, yet wholly different in kind—where great things go on unceasingly, where immense and terrible personalities hurry by, intent on vast purposes compared to which earthly affairs, the rise and fall of nations, the destinies of empires, the fate of armies and continents, are all as dust in the balance; vast purposes, I mean, that deal directly with the soul, and not indirectly with more expressions of the soul—“

“When common objects in this way be come charged with the suggestion of horror, they stimulate the imagination far more than things of unusual appearance; and these bushes, crowding huddled about us, assumed for me in the darkness a bizarre grotesquerie of appearance that lent to them somehow the aspect of purposeful and living creatures. Their very ordinariness, I felt, masked what was malignant and hostile to us.”

 


 

 

The Wendigo
by Algernon Blackwood

 

First published in author’s collection The Lost Valley and Other Stories in 1910, also appeared in Famous Fantastic Mysteries, a  American science fiction and fantasy pulp magazine in 1944.
In 1964 was part of an anthology The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories edited by Robert Aickman.
Now available in the author’s penguin publication Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories, and Roarings from Further Out with British Library and free online.

 

Five men in October on a journey, camping out in the wilderness, man in charge Dr Cathcart with his nephew a divinity student, Simpson. There is the hired guide Hank Davis accompanied by Joseph Défago and Punk the cook.
They venture out into the Fifty Island Water, a crescent-shaped lake.

These men will partake in usual things to distract and comfort, smoking, talking and keeping warm with a campfire burning whilst in the beyond in the darkness there is some kind of entity, a myth of folklore, one they are trying to comprehend, “Out there, in the heart of unreclaimed wilderness, they had surely witnessed something crudely and essentially primitive,” plagued with a feeling of imminent danger.
They traverse emotional and psychological battles, feelings of hysteria, aberrations of dismay and terror amidst the monstrous and unexplainable, a dilemma with man in the wilderness at odds with the damnable, the mystery of the Wendigo, a speck against vastness, man against monstrous.

“Yet, ever at the back of his thoughts, lay that other aspect of the wilderness: the indifference to human life, the merciless spirit of desolation which took no note of man.”

The reader vividly interjected into these aspects, the desolation, the haunting sense of place and disquietness, a masterful direction with words and sentences that explore the inner and outer realms in an eloquent terrible beauty and a joy to read.

 

Excerpts

“Out there, in the heart of unreclaimed wilderness, they had surely witnessed something crudely and essentially primitive.”

“On such occasions men lose the superficial, worldly distinctions; they become human beings working together for a common end. Simpson, the employer, and Défago the employed, among these primitive forces, were simply—two men, the “guider” and the “guided.” Superior knowledge, of course, assumed control, and the younger man fell without a second thought into the quasi-subordinate position.”

“For this “divinity student” was a young man of parts and character, though as yet, of course, untraveled; and on this trip—the first time he had seen any country but his own and little Switzerland—the huge scale of things somewhat bewildered him. It was one thing, he realized, to hear about primeval forests, but quite another to see them. While to dwell in them and seek acquaintance with their wild life was, again, an initiation that no intelligent man could undergo without a certain shifting of personal values hitherto held for permanent and sacred.”

“The bleak splendors of these remote and lonely forests rather overwhelmed him with the sense of his own littleness. That stern quality of the tangled backwoods which can only be described as merciless and terrible, rose out of these far blue woods swimming upon the horizon, and revealed itself. He understood the silent warning. He realized his own utter helplessness. Only Défago, as a symbol of a distant civilization where man was master, stood between him and a pitiless death by exhaustion and starvation.”

“The dusk rapidly deepened; the glades grew dark; the crackling of the fire and the wash of little waves along the rocky lake shore were the only sounds audible. The wind had dropped with the sun, and in all that vast world of branches nothing stirred. Any moment, it seemed, the woodland gods, who are to be worshipped in silence and loneliness, might stretch their mighty and terrific outlines among the trees.”

“Yet, ever at the back of his thoughts, lay that other aspect of the wilderness: the indifference to human life, the merciless spirit of desolation which took no note of man.”

“He remembered suddenly how his uncle had told him that men were sometimes stricken with a strange fever of the wilderness, when the seduction of the uninhabited wastes caught them so fiercely that they went forth, half fascinated, half deluded, to their death.”

“He did not realize that this laughter was a sign that terror still lurked in the recesses of his soul—that, in fact, it was merely one of the conventional signs by which a man, seriously alarmed, tries to persuade himself that he is not so.”

“It must’ve been just that song of mine that did it. It’s the song they sing in lumber camps and godforsaken places like that, when they’re skeered the Wendigo’s somewhere around, doin’ a bit of swift traveling.—”

And next—almost simultaneous with his waking, it seemed—the profound stillness of the dawn outside was shattered by a most uncommon sound. It came without warning, or audible approach; and it was unspeakably dreadful. It was a voice, Simpson declares, possibly a human voice; hoarse yet plaintive—a soft, roaring voice close outside the tent, overhead rather than upon the ground, of immense volume, while in some strange way most penetratingly and seductively sweet. It rang out, too, in three separate and distinct notes, or cries, that bore in some odd fashion a resemblance, farfetched yet recognizable, to the name of the guide: “Dé-fa-go!”

“For the Panic of the Wilderness had called to him in that far voice—the Power of untamed Distance—the Enticement of the Desolation that destroys.”

“They were talking against time. They were also talking against darkness, against the invasion of panic, against the admission reflection might bring that they were in an enemy’s country—against anything, in fact, rather than allow their inmost thoughts to assume control. He himself, already initiated by the awful vigil with terror, was beyond both of them in this respect. He had reached the stage where he was immune. But these two, the scoffing, analytical doctor, and the honest, dogged backwoodsman, each sat trembling in the depths of his being.
Thus the hours passed; and thus, with lowered voices and a kind of taut inner resistance of spirit, this little group of humanity sat in the jaws of the wilderness and talked foolishly of the terrible and haunting legend. It was an unequal contest, all things considered, for the wilderness had already the advantage of first attack—and of a hostage. The fate of their comrade hung over them with a steadily increasing weight of oppression that finally became insupportable.”

 

 


 

 

 

The Colour Out of Space
by H.P. Lovecraft

First published in the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories in the September 1927 then in Lovecraft’s story collection The Outsider and Others published by Arkham House in 1939.
Reprinted many times over and now available in Collected Fiction Volume 2 (1926-1930): A Variorum Edition published by Hippocampus Press, The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft edited by Leslie S. Klinger and Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H. P. Lovecraft.

 

A tale from 1927 published in Amazing stories of which he was paid $25 for and this was Lovecraft’s first work with an amalgamation of science fiction and horror, a cosmic horror.
The author seemed to like this the most of his works and maybe I can put it up there with a few of his as one of the better ones.

There was a good movie adaptation, with a slightly different angle, handled by A24 films with Nicholas Cage.
There is influence here from The Willows by Blackwood of which the author loved and i do too.

As the surveyor descends upon the blasted heath seeking out mysterious happenings which had visitors and professors from the Miskatonic University to investigate the alien object from beyond, he tries to piece together and decipher what had occurred at Nahum Gardner’s place.

This was a great little interlude as inquisitors entering a terrifying threshold and an atmospheric cosmic horror tale layered down with words that bring alive the terror and terrible decline days of a family in tragedy against that not from this world, an entity that possesses and insidiously transforms the land and all that consumes it.

People & Places:

The blasted heath
Nahum Gardner place

Mr Nahum
Mrs Nabby
Sons:
Thaddeus
Merwin
Zenas

Old Ammi Pierce
Mrs. Pierce

The professors

 

Excerpts

 

“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.”

“The place is not good for the imagination, and does not bring restful dreams at night.”

“The name “blasted heath” seemed to me very odd and theatrical, and I wondered how it had come into the folklore of a Puritan people.”

“Upon everything was a haze of restlessness and oppression; a touch of the unreal and the grotesque, as if some vital element of perspective or chiaroscuro were awry.”

“On an anvil it appeared highly malleable, and in the dark its luminosity was very marked. Stubbornly refusing to grow cool, it soon had the college in a state of real excitement; and when upon heating before the spectroscope11 it displayed shining bands unlike any known colours of the normal spectrum there was much breathless talk of new elements,12 bizarre optical properties, and other things which puzzled men of science are wont to say when faced by the unknown.”

“It was nothing of this earth, but a piece of the great outside; and as such dowered with outside properties and obedient to outside laws.”

“Stark terror seemed to cling round the Gardners and all they touched, and the very presence of one in the house was a breath from regions unnamed and unnamable.”

“For this strange beam of ghastly miasma was to him of no unfamiliar hue. He had seen that colour before, and feared to think what it might mean. He had seen it in the nasty brittle globule in that aërolite two summers ago, had seen it in the crazy vegetation of the springtime, and had thought he had seen it for an instant that very morning against the small barred window of that terrible attic room where nameless things had happened.”

“And yet amid that tense godless calm the high bare boughs of all the trees in the yard were moving. They were twitching morbidly and spasmodically, clawing in convulsive and epileptic madness at the moonlit clouds; scratching impotently in the noxious air as if jerked by some alien and bodiless line of linkage with subterrene horrors writhing and struggling below the black roots.”

“It was a scene from a vision of Fuseli, and over all the rest reigned that riot of luminous amorphousness, that alien and undimensioned rainbow of cryptic poison from the well—seething, feeling, lapping, reaching, scintillating, straining, and malignly bubbling in its cosmic and unrecognisable chromaticism.

“It was just a colour out of space—a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity beyond all Nature as we know it; from realms whose mere existence stuns the brain and numbs us with the black extra-cosmic gulfs it throws open before our frenzied eyes.”

 

 


 

 

 

Black Stone
by Robert E. Howard

 

First published in Weird Tales Magazine 1931, it appeared in the authors stroy collection Skull-Face and Other in 1946 and another collection of his Wolfshead in 1968 and reprinted many times over the years by editor August Derleth and many others. Available now in The Best of Robert E. Howard Volume 1:Crimson Shadows, and The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard.

The main protagonist tells of his seeking out the mysterious haunting monolith the Black stone and the research he undertakes with his readings of esoteric books he researches the origins and tries to piece together truths behind this Stone and through sinister manuscripts about seeking out mentions of nameless cults and the black stone though “The Black Book,” Dostmann’s “Remnants of Lost Empire 1809,” Dornly’s “Magyar Folklore” and Justin Geoffrey’s poem “The People of the Monolith.”

“I went to Stregoicavar. A train of obsolete style carried me from Temesvar to within striking distance, at least, of my objective, and a three days’ ride in a jouncing coach brought me to the little village which lay in a fertile valley high up in the fir-clad mountains.”

He had traverses to the land where the monolith resides with a trip to Stregoicavar, with the knowledge of what he learnt from the tongues of man and the sinister manuscripts he comes face to face with the damnable.
There will be strange events with a nightmare unraveling one Midsummer Midnight in the hills above Stregoicavar.

The story aspects and writing is creatively gruesome with hellish descriptions and a effectively vivid crafting of scenes within a grotesque realm with effective prose where a “ghastly thing that the unhallowed ritual of cruelty and sadism and blood had evoked from the silence of the hills.”

There is mention in the beginning of this tale certain narrow racist views expressed by narrator in the history of the other people unlike himself and the explaining the origins of villagers, that does not fair well, the lesser the better.

 

Illustrations by Greg Staples

 

Excerpts

 

“But I did find subject for thought in Dornly’s Magyar Folklore. In his chapter on Dream Myths he mentions the Black Stone and tells of some curious superstitions regarding it–especially the belief that if any one sleeps in the vicinity of the monolith, that person will be haunted by monstrous nightmares for ever after; and he cited tales of the peasants regarding too-curious people who ventured to visit the Stone on Midsummer Night and who died raving mad because of something they saw there.”

“It was octagonal in shape, some sixteen feet in height and about a foot and a half thick. It had once evidently been highly polished, but now the surface was thickly dinted as if savage efforts had been made to demolish it; but the hammers had done little more than to flake off small bits of stone and mutilate the characters which once had evidently marched up in a spiraling line round and round the shaft to the top. Up to ten feet from the base these characters were almost completely blotted out, so that it was very difficult to trace their direction. Higher up they were plainer, and I managed to squirm part of the way up the shaft and scan them at close range. All were more or less defaced, but I was positive that they symbolized no language now remembered on the face of the earth. I am fairly familiar with all hieroglyphics known to researchers and philologists and I can say with certainty that those characters were like nothing of which I have ever read or heard.”

“It was as if the monolith had been reared by alien hands, in an age distant and apart from human ken.”

“He did not believe that the members of the cult erected the monolith but he did believe that they used it as a center of their activities, and repeating vague legends which had been handed down since before the Turkish invasion, he advanced the theory that the degenerate villagers had used it as a sort of altar on which they offered human sacrifices, using as victims the girls and babies stolen from his own ancestors in the lower valleys.
He discounted the myths of weird events on Midsummer Night, as well as a curious legend of a strange deity which the witch-people of Xuthltan were said to have invoked with chants and wild rituals of flagellation and slaughter.”

“Stregoicavar lay silent; the villagers retired early. I saw no one as I passed rapidly out of the village and up into the firs which masked the mountain slopes with whispering darkness. A broad silver moon hung above the valley, flooding the crags and slopes in a weird light and etching the shadows blackly. No wind blew through the firs, but a mysterious, intangible rustling and whispering was abroad. Surely on such nights in past centuries, my whimsical imagination told me, naked witches astride magic masked the mountain slopes with whispering darkness. A broad silver moon hung above the valley, flooding the crags and slopes in a weird light and etching the shadows blackly. No wind blew through the firs, but a mysterious, intangible rustling and whispering was abroad. Surely on such nights in past centuries, my whimsical imagination told me, naked witches astride magic broomsticks had flown across the valley, pursued by jeering demoniac familiars.
I came to the cliffs and was somewhat disquieted to note that the illusive moonlight lent them a subtle appearance I had not noticed before–in the weird light they appeared less like natural cliffs and more like the ruins of cyclopean and Titan-reared battlements jutting from the mountain-slope.”

“But it is the realization that such things once crouched beast-like above the souls of men which brings cold sweat to my brow; and I fear to peer again into the leaves of Von Junzt’s abomination.”

“May no man ever seek to uproot that ghastly spire men call the Black Stone!
A Key! Aye, it is a Key, symbol of a forgotten horror. That horror has faded into the limbo from which it crawled, loathsomely, in the black dawn of the earth.”

“Man was not always master of the earth–and is he now?
And the thought recurs to me–if such a monstrous entity as the Master of the Monolith somehow survived its own unspeakably distant epoch so long–what nameless shapes may even now lurk in the dark places of the world?”

 

 


 

 

The Beast of Averoigne
by Clark Ashton Smith

 

This story was first published in Weird Tales Magazine in 1933 and part of the author’s short story collection Lost worlds in 1944 with Arkham house.
Now available in The Red Brain: Great Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos edited by Joshi, The Averoigne Chronicles and The Maze of the Enchanter: The Collected Fantasies Vol. 4.

 

A devilish beast and an ineffable terror visits the Benedictine Abbey of Périgon and Brother Gerome delivers his deposition in first person account of the day he “met the nameless, night-born terror in the woods behind the abbey when I returned.”

There are parts to this tale, the first part is that of Brother Gerome’s deposition, the second is a narrative in form of a letter from monk Theophile to a sister Therese testifying to his accounts of this beast and the deaths associated to it. The third part is a first person telling from account of Luc le Chaudronnier telling of the fate of the beast and all around it.
This man has more dealings with this kind of beast and has another idea of the origins of the beast as he possess a “commerce with occult things and with the spirits of darkness” he mentions as reason for this understanding as a “student of darkness,” and ultimately he should be the one to bring a possibility of safety to the people and the land.

Clark Ashton Smith expounds on this terrifying visit from an ineffable entity, there be gruesome killings of animals and the brothers occurring, a beast of Averoigne one you will want to learn more of and be intriguing hooked in the revealing of its origins and fate, a “Beast was altogether alien and beyond the ken of sublunar devils,” with a melody of words a terrible beauty come alive.

 

 

Excerpts

 

“As for me, I must deem that the beast is a spawn of the seventh hell, a foulness born of the bubbling, flame-blent ooze; for it has no likeness to the beasts of earth, to the creatures of air and water. And the comet may well have been the fiery vehicle of its coming.”

“The day had vanished, fading unaware; and the long summer eve, without moon, had thickened to a still and eldritch darkness ere I approached the abbey postern.”

“Then, with ineffable terror, I beheld the thing to which the light clung like a hellish nimbus, moving as it moved, and revealing dimly the black abomination of head and limbs that were not those of any creature wrought by God. The horror stood erect, rising to the height of a tall man, and it moved with the swaying of a great serpent, and its members undulated as if they were boneless. The round black head, having no visible ears or hair, was thrust forward on a neck of snakish length. Two eyes, small and lidless, glowing hotly as coals from a wizard’s brazier, were set low and near together in the noseless face above the serrate gleaming of bat-like teeth.”

“The ravages of the Beast, however, are common knowledge, and have become a tale with which to frighten children. Men say that it slew fifty people, night by night, in the summer of 1369, devouring in each case the spinal marrow. It ranged mostly about the abbey of Périgon and to Ximes and Ste. Zénobie and La Frênaie. Its nativity and lairing-place were mysteries that none could unravel; and church and state were alike powerless to curb its maraudings, so that a dire terror fell upon the land and people went to and fro as in the shadow of death.”

“The skies are haunted by that which it were madness to know; and strange abominations pass evermore between earth and moon and athwart the galaxies. Unnamable things have come to us in alien horror and will come again. And the evil of the stars is not as the evil of earth.”

 


 

 

Black God’s Kiss
by 
C. L. Moore

 

Originally published in Weird Tales magazine in 1934 and part of Moores’s story collections Shambleau and Others in 1953 and Jirel of Joiry in 1969.
Available now in Jirel of Joiry Golden Age Masterworks reprint and the anthology Appendix N.: The Eldritch Roots of Dungeons & Dragons.

A journey, you and Jirel in a realm of hell must descend with morbid curiosity, layered with a lush prose style eloquently rolling forward viscerally captivating amongst a strange landscape and damnable entities.
A hellish abyss one is immersed in with a strong female force at the realm, a woman driven by rage and hate to a bargain with an entity that will forever torment her future days.
Jirel with her red hair and strong as a any man of battle she captivates you for a time with a pioneering character creation of its time as a female warrior.

May have inspired many authors and stories that followed over the years without clear credit where it’s due.
Lovecraft and Howard combined, uncanny realms and sorcery and savagery with swords.
Fans of these weird tales and authors mentioned will like this, others may not.
These may make you seek out the sequel with Black God’s Shadow and other writings by this author.

 

Excerpts

 

“He was still staring, as men stared when they first set eyes upon Jirel of Joiry. She was tall as most men, and as savage as the wildest of them, and the fall of Joiry was bitter enough to her heart as she stood snarling curses up at her conqueror.
The face above her mail might not have been fair in a woman’s head-dress, but in the steel setting of her armor it had a biting, sword-edge beauty as keen as the flash of blades. The red hair was short upon her high, defiant head, and the yellow blaze of her eyes held fury as a crucible holds fire.”

“Jirel crept up the dark stairs of the north turret, murder in her heart. Many little hatreds she had known in her life, but no such blaze as this.”

“But Jirel, I do not think you understand. This is a worse fate than the deepest depths of hell-fire. This is — this is beyond all the bounds of the hells we know. And I think Satan’s hottest flames were the breath of paradise, compared to what may befall there.”

“She went down into the dungeons again. She went down a long way through utter dark, over stones that were oozy and odorous with moisture, through blackness that had never known the light of day.”

“Now she took the sword back into her hand and knelt on the rim of the invisible blackness below. She had gone this path once before and once only, and never thought to find any necessity in life strong enough to drive her down again. The way was the strangest she had ever known. There was, she thought, no such passage in all the world save here. It had not been built for human feet to travel. It had not been built for feet at all. It was a narrow, polished shaft that cork-screwed round and round.”

“They led into the unknown and the dark, but it seemed to her obscurely that they led into deeper darkness and mystery than the merely physical, as if, though she could not put it clearly even into thoughts, the peculiar and exact lines of the tunnel had been carefully angled to lead through poly-dimensional space as well as through the underground — perhaps through time, too. She did not know she was thinking such things; but all about her was a blurred dizziness as she shot down and round, and she knew that the way she went took her on a stranger journey than any other way she had ever traveled.”

“Then ahead of her the darkness moved. It was just that — a vast, imponderable shifting of the solid dark. Jesu! This was new! She gripped the cross at her throat with one hand and her sword-hilt with the other. Then it was upon her, striking like a hurricane, whirling her against the walls and shrieking in her ears like a thousand wind-devils — a wild cyclone of the dark that buffeted her mercilessly and tore at her flying hair and raved in her ears with the myriad voices of all lost things crying in the night. The voices were piteous in their terror and loneliness. Tears came to her eyes even as she shivered with nameless dread, for the whirlwind was alive with a dreadful instinct, an inanimate thing sweeping through the dark of the underground; an unholy thing that made her flesh crawl even though it touched her to heart with its pitiful little lost voices wailing in the wind where no wind could possibly be.”

“She was very near under the mighty tower before she could see the details of the building clearly. They were strange to her — great pillars and arches around the base, and one stupendous portal, all molded out of the rushing, prisoned light.”

 

 


 

 

 

 

The Events at Poroth Farm
by T. E. D. Klein

 

First published in From Beyond the Dark Gateway magazine in 1972.
Appeared in the author’s 2006 collection Reassuring Tales published by Subterranean Press.
Available now in Reassuring Tales (Expanded Edition): The Weird Fiction Short Stories of T.E.D. Klein and American Supernatural Tales edited by S. T. Joshi

A scholar and a bookworm telling in his writing in first person unravelling to past events, a descent into something and mentions trouble ahead:

“But I believe we’re in for trouble.
I’m a long way from the wilderness now, of course. Though perhaps not far enough to save me… I’m writing this affidavit in room 2-K of the Union Hotel, overlooking Main Street in Flemington, New Jersey, twenty miles south of Gilead.”

An affidavit away from something that occurred, he mentions his fear to leave the hotel room for a few days and a boy across the street with red spectacles smoking.
Writing on villages and rural New Jersey he is leading you down to what he wants to really tell with his sincere haunting experiences time when he spent three months in the wilderness outside Gilead where an uncanny event befall him, a tragedy at Poroth farm.
He had intended on some summer solitude, reading and writing in the outbuildings of the farmhouse but aswell as reading his books he also was decending bit. hy bit into a nightmarish experince. He reels you in telling of Mr and Mrs Poroth and they character there beliefs and what had occurred with his arrival and stay.
The affidavit shifts to him in first person but telling from his journal the events as he mentions:

“Perhaps the best way to tell it is by setting down portions of the journal I kept this summer. Not every entry, of course. Mere excerpts. Just enough to make this affidavit comprehensible to anyone unfamiliar with the incidents at Poroth Farm.”

The telling of those days at the farm are told though his journal entry in June 4th until August 20th, then after that back to the narrative of his affidavit in New Jersey hotel room explaining his innocence in the event that day that turned into a tragedy.

The main protagonist Jeremy being a teacher, with his intention on preparing a course to teach on the Gothic tradition from Shakespeare to Faulkner, the author had added that extra interesting captivating aspect to the tale and need to read on more for lovers of writing and reading.
You get the sense he really doesn’t like the farm life and the creepy crawlies.
Stranger things start to occur with a cat and noises from the woods amidst reading his books of which are many titles, i have listed them below.

A succumbing to something a shift in the axis of life and his intended solitude and reading turn to despair and unease an irreversible change in self amdist the presence of malevolence
Klein crafted this story with precision in telling leaving apsects out and necessary aspects in, a vivid visceral intimate journey resulting in a compelling uncanny read of something that occured out in the wilderness, in the farm, near the woods, an unhinging of Jeremy.

One parts with fitting words from Jeremy laid down by the author “So many obscure authors, so many books I’ve never come across…”
The Ceremonies a novel where the author expanded on this short story is worth reading and something I will endeavour sooner than later.

Jeremy read at Poroth Farm:

Maturin – Melmoth the Wanderer
Machen – The White People
Blackwood – Ancient Sorceries
Otranto
The Monk
Stoker – Dracula
LeFanu – Green Tea
The Uninhabited House
Monsieur Maurice
The Amber Witch
Walden
Barbara Byfield – Glass Harmonica
Northanger Abbey
Shirley Jackson stories
Aleister Crowley
Ruthven Todd – Lost Traveller
essay – Lafcadio Hearn
Chmabers – The King in Yellow
M. R. James – Ghost Stories of an Antiquary
Hawthorne
Lovecraft’s essay on “Supernatural Horror in Literature.”
John Christopher – The Possessors

 

Excerpts

“Though my name is Jeremy, derived from Jeremiah, I’d hate to be a prophet in the wilderness. I’d much rather be a harmless crank.
But I believe we’re in for trouble.
I’m a long way from the wilderness now, of course. Though perhaps not far enough to save me… I’m writing this affidavit in room 2-K of the Union Hotel, overlooking Main Street in Flemington, New Jersey, twenty miles south of Gilead.”

“It seems incredible that villages so isolated can exist today on the very doorstep of the world’s largest metropolis-villages with nothing to offer the outsider, and hence never visited, except by the occasional hunter who stumbles on them unwittingly. Yet as you speed down one of the state highways, consider how few of the cars slow down for the local roads. It is easy to pass the little towns without even a glance at the signs; and if there are no signs…?”

“..where the wanderer may still find grotesque relics of pagan worship and, some say, may still hear the chants that echo from the cliffs on certain nights; and towns with names like Zion and Zaraphath and Gilead, forgotten communities of bearded men and black-robed women, walled hamlets too small or obscure for most maps of the state. This was the wilderness into which I traveled, weary of Manhattan’s interminable din; and it was outside Gilead where, until the tragedies, I chose to make my home for three months.”

“Perhaps the best way to tell it is by setting down portions of the journal I kept this summer. Not every entry, of course. Mere excerpts. Just enough to make this affidavit comprehensible to anyone unfamiliar with the incidents at Poroth Farm.”

“Deborah joked about cats being her surrogate children. All seven of them hanging around my legs, rubbing against ankles. My nose began running and my eyes itched. Goddamned allergy.”

“My nose is only now beginning to clear up. Those goddamned cats. Must remember to buy some Contac.”

“But there’s a lot of duplicity in those Poroths-and I don’t mean just religious hypocrisy, either.”

“Oh, yeah, that game-the What If game. I probably play it too often. (Vain attempt to enlarge realm of the possible? Heighten my own sensitivity? Or merely work myself into an icy sweat?) I pose unpleasant questions for myself and consider the consequences, e.g., what if this glorified chicken coop is sinking into quicksand? (Wouldn’t be at all surprised.) What if the Poroths are tired of me? What if I woke up inside my own coffin?
What if I never see New York again?
What if some horror stories aren’t really fiction? If Machen sometimes told the truth? If there are White People, malevolent little faces peering out of the moonlight? Whispers in the grass?
Poisonous things in the woods? Perfect hate and evil in the world?
Enough of this foolishness. Time for bed.”

“By late afternoon I was playing word games while I lay on the grass near my room. The shrill twitter of the birds, I would say, the birds singing in the sun… And inexorably I’d continue with the sun dying in the moonlight, the moonlight falling on the floor, the floor sagging to the cellar, the cellar filling with water, the water seeping into the ground, the ground twisting into smoke, the smoke staining the sky, the sky burning in the sun, the sun dying in the moonlight, the moonlight falling on the floor…-“

 

 


 

 

In the Pines
by Karl Edward Wagner

 

Originally published in 1973 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
1983 in the author’s story collection In A Lonely Place.

2012 appeared in a collection published by Centipede Press Where the Summer Ends. Out of print for few years now and it will be available again soon in a new reprint by publishers Valancourt Books with its original collection name In A Lonely Place.

Have you heard the “whispered litany of the merciless pines,” and you may learn of the history of the cabin “The Crow’s Nest” if you happen to stay there, it used to be “the old Reagan place.”
First you will have to travel to Maryville and stay at a partcular cabin and wonder into the pines but be careful of certain aspects.
Our main protagonist Gerard Randall will stay there for at time with his wife minus one lost son to a tragic incident, this dread of the past hinders his future in particular because this is his story, told from his perspective in first person the unraveling and decline of one family man.
Chilling and eerie tales something Karl Wagner does masterfully that i have learned of far too late in my reading journey.
Despite this being largely out of print I have learned of this story by recommendation from author Laird Baroon mentioning of it as a favorite and i found that he had written an introudction to a re-publishing of Wagner’s works mentioned in a post of his back in 2011, which mentions:

“Evil lurks out there in the shadows, and evil festers in the dark hearts of wicked men. Pick your poison, but poison it will be–a darksome miracle, a sinister revelation, a sudden end. He speaks to the truth of the matter for so many, and all we can do is avert our eyes or shudder as our animal brain recognizes the presence of the immutable reality of the universe as rendered by Wagner’s imagery.”

Read more @ https://lairdbarron.wordpress.com

Few names and things contained:

Gerard Randall
Janet Randall
David Reagan
Renee Reagan
Sam Luttle
Enser Pittman
Rev. Banner

From Columbus to Maryville
The Crow’s Nest
Old Reagan place
A woman’s portrait
Diary. Enser Pittman. June-December, 1951.

 

Excerpts

“There is an atmosphere of inutterable loneliness that haunts any ruin—a feeling particularly evident in those places once given over to the lighter emotions. Wander over the littered grounds of an abandoned amusement park and feel the overwhelming presence of desolation. Flimsy booths with awnings tattered in the wind, rotting heaps of sun-bleached papier mâché. Crumbling timbers of a roller coaster thrust upward through the jungle of weeds and debris—like ribs of some titanic unburied skeleton. The wind blows colder there; the sun seems dimmer. Ghosts of laughter, lost strains of raucous music can almost be heard. Speak, and your voice sounds strangely loud—and yet curiously smothered.”

“Such places are lairs of inconsolable gloom. After the brighter spirits have departed, shadows of despair and oppression assume their place. The area has been drained of its ability to support any further light emotion, and now, like weeds on eroded soil, only the darker sentiments can take root and flourish. These places are best left to the loneliness of their grief…”

“He had pulled out a tool chest, in case he felt up to making repairs. There was a stack of crumbling pulp magazines —Argosy, Black Mask, Doc Savage, Weird Tales, and others—that would provide a few laughs.”

“Gerry flipped on a lopsided floor lamp and settled down to read some of the pulps he had resurrected. God, how ingenuous the stuff was! Were people ever so naive? He wondered how James Bond would appear to readers back then.”

“It was a lonely picture. She stood against a background of dark pines, cold and lonely about her. There was a delicacy about her and, illogically, an impression of strength. The face was difficult, its mood seeming altered at each glance. Indefinable. Sensuous mouth—did it smile, or was there sorrow? Perhaps half open in anticipation of a kiss—or a cry? The eyes—soft blue, or did they glow? Did they express longing, pain? Or were they hungry eyes, eyes alight with triumph? Lonely eyes. Lonely face. A lonely picture. A song, long forgotten, came to his mind.

In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun never shines.
And I shiver when the wind blows cold…”

“Half in dream he brooded over the turn his life had taken. God, it had all seemed so secure, settled. His wife, their son. A rising position with the firm. Good car, good house, good neighborhood. Country club, the right friends. Bright young man already halfway up the ladder to the top.
Then a woman’s inattention, a flaming crash. Only a split second to destroy everything. The funeral, weeks of visits to the hospital. The lawsuit and its cruel joke of an insurance executive whose own policy was inadequate.
All of it destroyed. A comfortable, well-ordered existence torn to twisted wreckage. He could never return to the old life. Despite the sincere best wishes of embarrassed friends, the concerned expressions of doctors who warned him about the emotional shock he had suffered.
Maybe it would have been best if he had been in the car, if he had died in the wreckage of his life.”

“It was eerie here in the pines. So unlike a hardwood forest, alive with crackling leaves and a wild variety of trees and underbrush. The pines were so awesome, so ancient, so desolate. The incredible loneliness of this twilight wilderness assailed Gerry—and strangely soothed the turmoil of his emotions.
The restless wind moved the branches above him in ceaseless song. Sighing, whispering pines. Here was the very sound of loneliness. Again Gerry recalled the old mountain folk tune:
The longest train I ever saw,
Was a hundred coaches long,
And the only girl I ever loved,
Was on that train and gone.
In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun never shines,
And I shiver when the wind blows cold.
What was happening to him? A year ago he would have laughed at the absurd idea of ghosts or haunted houses. Had he changed so much since then—since the accident?”

“It was a lonely picture. She stood against a background of dark pines, cold and lonely about her. There was a delicacy about her and, illogically, an impression of strength. The face was difficult, its mood seeming altered at each glance. Indefinable. Sensuous mouth—did it smile, or was there sorrow? Perhaps half open in anticipation of a kiss—or a cry? The eyes—soft blue, or did they glow? Did they express longing, pain? Or were they hungry eyes, eyes alight with triumph? Lonely eyes. Lonely face. A lonely picture. A song, long forgotten, came to his mind. In the pines, in the pines, Where the sun never shines. And I shiver when the wind blows cold…”

“The pines whose incessant whisper told of black knowledge and secret loneliness. Through the desolate pines they walked into the night. Past endless columns of dark sentinel trunks. Swaying, whispering an ancient rhythm with the night wind.”

“Where the darkness was deeper. Where the whisper was louder and resonant with doom. Where the pines drew back about a circle of earth in which nothing grew.”

 


 

 

Sticks
by Karl Edward Wagner

 

Originally published in Whispers magazine in March 1974 and was part of his first story collection published in 1983 In a Lonely Place. The story was included in various short story anthologies, ones like Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos and more recently in 2021 The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror.

Wagner said about this story: “The story is really Lee Brown Coye’s and is about Lee Brown Coye . . . . Coye had described the events upon which ‘Sticks’ is based to me, and when Stuart David Schiff decided to bring out a special Lee Brown Coye issue of Whispers, I stole time from my final few months of medical school to write a story inspired by Coye’s experiences. ‘Sticks’ is shot through with in-jokes and references which the serious fantasy/ horror fan will recognize. “I wrote the story as a favor and tribute to Lee, and I never expected it to be read by anyone beyond the thousand or so fans who read Whispers. To my surprise, ‘Sticks’ became one of my best-known and best-liked stories.”
“In 1938 Coye did come across a stick-ridden farmhouse in the desolate Mann Brook region.”

Colin Leverett artist and main protagonist of this tale, one who possess a penchant for macabre in his art, in the spring of 1942 whilst on a fishing expedition along Mann Brook near an old railroad embankment, encounters a sinister discovery of “insane conglomeration of sticks and wire,” and “came upon the ruins of a house. It was an unlovely colonial farmhouse,” this art of creepy and haunting stick lattices maybe intriguing but also an unwanted muse.
To war he goes and returns, a more somber and melancholy man remains.
He tries to make a living by creating artwork that pulp magazines reject due to being too gruesome and moved  to create bizarre abstract sculptures that critics liked and attracted attention of others.
An author H. Kenneth Allard wanted illustrations done for his book a deluxe 3 volume collection and he tries to inject and fathom a sinister evil that the author requests in his artwork and thus he returns to that notebook and “reawakened the sense of foreboding evil, the charnel horror of that day.

Aspects of its sinister history and purpose remain a fundamental captivating element of this tale that the author masterfully lays down and with precise elements needed to no turn away from all the menacing and truly chilling aspects and unholy damnable things.
What soul and mind constructed such bizarre uncanny structures?

 

Names and aspects contained:

Colin Leverett
H. Kenneth Allard author
Prescott Brandon editor-publisher Gothic House
Dr Alexandra Stefroi scholar of regional history
Dana Allard nephew of author K Allard

Spring 1942
Out fishing for trout
Mann Brook
Old railroad embankment
Unlovely colonial farmhouse
Bizarre stick lattices
insane conglomeration of sticks and wire.
Drawing on notebook
Cellar
Large table of stone
Returns from war
Alteration of temperament
Commissioned illustrations for Voices from the Shadow
New publication deluxe edition
Dwellers in the Earth

Megalithic history
Sacrificial elements

 

Excerpts

 

“The lashed-together framework of sticks jutted from a small cairn alongside the stream. Colin Leverett studied it in perplexment—half a dozen odd lengths of branch, wired together at cross-angles for no fathomable purpose. It reminded him unpleasantly of some bizarre crucifix, and he wondered what might lie beneath the cairn. It was the spring of 1942—the kind of day to make the War seem distant and unreal, although the draft notice waited on his desk. In a few days Leverett would lock his rural studio, wonder if he would see it again—be able to use its pens and brushes and carving tools when he did return. It was goodbye to the woods and streams of upstate New York, too. No fly rods, no tramps through the countryside in Hitler’s Europe. No point in putting off fishing that trout stream he had driven past once, exploring back roads of the Otselic Valley.”

“Now he scratched at the day’s stubble on his long jaw. This didn’t make sense. A prank? But on whom? A child’s game? No, the arrangement was far too sophisticated. As an artist, Leverett appreciated the craftsmanship of the work—the calculated angles and lengths, the designed intricacy of the maddeningly inexplicable devices. There was something distinctly uncomfortable about their effect.”

“Here was a small open space with more of the stick lattices and an arrangement of flat stones laid out on the ground. The stones—likely taken from one of the many drywall culverts—made a pattern maybe twenty by fifteen feet, that at first glance resembled a ground plan for a house. Intrigued, Leverett quickly saw that this was not so. If the ground plan for anything, it would have to be for a small maze.
The bizarre lattice structures were all around. Sticks from trees and bits of board nailed together in fantastic array. They defied description; no two seemed alike. Some were only one or two sticks lashed together in parallel or at angles. Others were worked into complicated lattices of dozens of sticks and boards.”

“It should have been ridiculous. It wasn’t. Instead it seemed somehow sinister—these utterly inexplicable, meticulously constructed stick lattices spread through a wilderness where only a tree-grown embankment or a forgotten stone wall gave evidence that man had ever passed through.”

“When Colin Leverett returned from the War, his friends marked him a changed man. He had aged. There were streaks of gray in his hair; his springy step had slowed. The athletic leanness of his body had withered to an unhealthy gauntness. There were indelible lines to his face, and his eyes were haunted. More disturbing was an alteration of temperament. A mordant cynicism had eroded his earlier air of whimsical asceticism. His fascination with the macabre had assumed a darker mood, a morbid obsession that his old acquaintances found disquieting. But it had been that kind of a war, especially for those who had fought through the Apennines.”

 


 

 

Children of the Corn
by Stephen King

 

First published in Penthouse magazine in March 1977, then in the authors story collection Night Shift in 1977. Available now as a vintage short to read on kindle for $0.99.

 

Fifteen hundred miles on a journey via motorway from Boston into Gatlin Nebraska to end up in road with corn on all sides then an incident and finding a corncob crucifix made of dried corn, in your proximity there is a town almost abandoned except young folk, and that sign on the white Church that read “THE POWER AND GRACE OF HE WHO WALKS BEHIND THE ROWS,” inside there is sight of a portrait of Jesus “grinning vulpine,” these are signs to get into your car and turn back away from here you are not welcome.

Sinners and sacrifices, holy and unholy aspects, cult and uninvited cross paths, young and old in battle.
Burt and Vicky in their T-Bird driving into a terrible fate amongst these horrific aspects of this small town with children with redrum in mind all for the corn and He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
King masterfully conjures this with all the necessary storytelling aspects and details needed, and its one of his good ones, placing you in all the atmosphere and trepidation one needs to make this one helluva terrifying folk horror story.

 

Excerpts

“He turned the ignition off and got out. The wind rustled softly through the growing man-high corn, making a weird sound like respiration.”

“He had a strong sensation of being watched. It was a feeling he had read about in books, mostly cheap fiction, and he had always doubted its reality. Now he didn’t. It was as if there were people in the corn, maybe a lot of them, coldly estimating whether the woman could get the gun out of the case and use it before they could grab him, drag him into the shady rows, cut his throat—“

“It was a crucifix that had been made from twists of corn husk, once green, now dry. Attached to this by woven cornsilk was a dwarf corncob. Most of the kernels had been carefully removed, probably dug out one at a time with a pocketknife. Those kernels remaining formed a crude cruciform figure in yellowish bas-relief. Corn-kernel eyes, each slit longways to suggest pupils. Outstretched kernel arms, the legs together, terminating in a rough indication of bare feet. Above, four letters also raised from the bone-white cob: I N R I.”

“YOU ARE NOW ENTERING GATLIN, NICEST LITTLE TOWN IN NEBRASKA—OR ANYWHERE ELSE! POP. 5431.”

“But they must do something different out here, he thought. The smell was close but not the same. There was a sickish-sweet undertone. Almost a death smell. As a medical orderly in Vietnam, he had become well versed in that smell.”

“The Christ was grinning, vulpine. His eyes were wide and staring, reminding Burt uneasily of Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera. In each of the wide black pupils someone (a sinner, presumably) was drowning in a lake of fire. But the oddest thing was that this Christ had green hair . . . hair which on closer examination revealed itself to be a twining mass of early-summer corn. The picture was crudely done but effective. It looked like a comic-strip mural done by a gifted child—an Old Testament Christ, or a pagan Christ that might slaughter his sheep for sacrifice instead of leading them.”

“He climbed the four carpeted steps to the pulpit and looked out over the deserted pews, glimmering in the half-shadows. He seemed to feel the weight of those eldritch and decidedly unchristian eyes boring into his back.
There was a large Bible on the lectern, opened to the thirty-eighth chapter of Job. Burt glanced down at it and read: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? . . . Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.” The lord. He Who Walks Behind the Rows. Declare if thou hast understanding. And please pass the corn.”

“There seemed to be one train of thought around here, and Burt didn’t care much for the track it seemed to ride on.”

“The girls were dressed in long brown wool and faded sunbonnets. The boys, like Quaker parsons, were all in black and wore round-crowned flat-brimmed hats. They streamed across the town square toward the car, across lawns, a few came across the front yard of what had been the Grace Baptist Church until 1964. One or two of them almost close enough to touch.”

“Out there, in the night, something walked, and it saw everything . . . even the secrets kept in human hearts.
Dusk deepened into night. Around Gatlin the corn rustled and whispered secretly. It was well pleased.”

 

 


 

 

 

The Last Feast of Harlequin
by Thomas Ligotti

 

Publishing History:
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1990
The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Fourth Annual Collection 1991 Edited by Ellen Datlow
Best New Horror 2 1991 & 2016 Editors: Ramsey Campbell, Stephen Jones
Grimscribe: His Lives and Works 1991 by Thoma Ligotti
Millemondiestate 1992: Italian anthology
The Best from Fantasy & Science Fiction: A 45th Anniversary Anthology 1994
Monolit 9: Almanah fantastike 1995 Serbian anthology
Cthulhu 2000: A Lovecraftian Anthology 1995 & 1999
The Nightmare Factory 1996 by Thomas Ligotti
American Gothic Tales edited by Joyce Carol Oates 1996
American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940s to Now edited by Peter Straub 2009
Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti 2015
A Mountain Walked edited by S. T. Joshi 2018

 

“Please Come to the Fun, it said in large letters. Parades, it went on, Street Masquerade, Bands, The Winter Raffle, and The Coronation of the Winter Queen.”

“What buries itself before it is dead?”

An annual festival in the town of Mirocaw an anthropologist and scholar will be amidst on a project researching the significance of clowns in diverse cultural contexts.
Our unammed protagonist is one that has an affliction of seasonal despair and with varying complexities, a dark malady and melancholiness, he will traverse mysteriousness in the new terrain and discoveries.

There was once a professor Thoss who was a teacher of the anthropologist, he had a certain greater deeper knowledge that he did not seek to impart in his teachings, of which one anthropologist knew he possessed and hoped in time will reveal but had not published anything for twenty years since his leaving of the academic circle. He was the one that set him on this inquisition.

There were signs of this being a town to not enter, the empty hotel in Townshend where he took residency of and welcomed by a woman that resembles one dead twenty years, there was the “frail stores” and “starved-looking houses” as he entered the town the “gaunt faces of pedestrians,” despite even knowing of the seasonal holiday suicides and pagan ritual aspects of the festival that Dr. Thoss mentioned in his article on the festival.

A town where ghetto clowns and oval-mouthed pallid clowns roam, a sense something more archaic afoot, he must find some answers, he finds small feelings of mania and purpose in all his complexities and thus forth acts on taking up of a gruesome clown disguise for further enquiries and investigations in the festival within the festival, what follows he may run or be satiated on a solstice night an “apex of darkness.”

An insidious uncanny tale with a malevolent metamorphosis unraveling in this scientific perilous sojourn in a town with a festival with morbid souls and oval-mouthed pallid clowns.
First person narration with visceral and vivid prose psychological imbuing, hypnotic reading onwards to its finality and afterwards with ruminations on truths behind the masks.
Herein lays forth a cheerless jester in all the formations of disorder of the world.

 

Names and aspects contained:

Unnamed anthropologist
Dr Raymond Thoss
Elizabeth Beadle
Samuel Beadle hotel owner in Mirocaw

Cambridge Massachusetts
Anthropology
Clowns
Town Mirocaw
Festival
A greater deeper knowledge
Harlequin article
Suspect Holiday suicides
Gaunt pedestrians
Frail stores
Starved-looking houses
Adopted Yuletide customs
Pagan aspect to festival
Townshed hotel
Tramp-like figures
The Winter Queen
Ghetto clowns
Oval-mouthed Pallid clowns
Pure ones

 

 

Excerpts

 

“Aside from my teaching, I had for some years been engaged in various anthropological projects with the primary ambition of articulating the significance of the clown figure in diverse cultural contexts. Every year for the past twenty years I have attended the pre-Lenten festivals that are held in various places throughout the southern United States. Every year I learned something more concerning the esoterics of celebration. In these studies I was an eager participant—along with playing my part as an anthropologist, I also took a place behind the clownish mask myself. And I cherished this role as I did nothing else in my life. To me the title of Clown has always carried connotations of a noble sort. I was an adroit jester, strangely enough, and had always taken pride in the skills I worked so diligently to develop.”

“Consequently, a look of flatness, as in a photograph, predominated in this area. Indeed, Mirocaw could be compared to an album of old snapshots, particularly ones in which the camera had been upset in the process of photography, causing the pictures to develop on an angle: a cone-roofed turret, like a pointed hat jauntily askew, peeked over the houses on a neighboring street; a billboard displaying a group of grinning vegetables tipped its contents slightly westward; cars parked along steep curbs seemed to be flying skyward in the glare-distorted windows of a five-and-ten; people leaned lethargically as they trod up and down sidewalks; and on that sunny day a clock tower, which at first I mistook for a church steeple, cast a long shadow that seemed to extend an impossible distance and wander into unlikely places in its progress across the town.”

“As lurid as this district had appeared to me under the summer sun, in the thin light of that winter afternoon it degenerated into a pale phantom of itself. The frail stores and starved-looking houses suggested a borderline region between the material and nonmaterial worlds, with one sardonically wearing the mask of the other. I saw a few gaunt pedestrians who turned as I passed by, though seemingly not because I passed by, making my way up to the main street of Mirocaw.”

“Beadle’s comment that the clowns of Mirocaw were “picked out” left me wondering exactly what purpose these street masqueraders served in the festival. The clown figure has had so many meanings in different times and cultures. The jolly, well-loved joker familiar to most people is actually but one aspect of this protean creature. Madmen, hunchbacks, amputees, and other abnormals were once considered natural clowns; they were elected to fulfill a comic role which could allow others to see them as ludicrous rather than as terrible reminders of the forces of disorder in the world. But sometimes a cheerless jester was required to draw attention to this same disorder, as in the case of King Lear’s morbid and honest fool, who of course was eventually hanged, and so much for his clownish wisdom. Clowns have often had ambiguous and sometimes contradictory roles to play. Thus, I knew enough not to brashly jump into costume and cry out, “Here I am again!”

“An eerie emerald haze permeated the town, and faces looked slightly reptilian.”

“Mirocaw has another coldness within its cold,” I wrote in my journal that night. “Another set of buildings and streets that exists behind the visible town’s façade like aworld of disgraceful back alleys.” I went on like this for about a page, across which I finally engraved a big “X.” Then I went to bed.”

“I was mingling with the crowd on the street, warmly enjoying the confusion around me, when I saw a strangely designed creature lingering on the corner up ahead. It was one of the Mirocaw clowns. Its clothes were shabby and nondescript, almost in the style of a tramp-type clown, but not humorously exaggerated enough. The face, though, made up for the lackluster costume. I had never seen such a strange conception for a clown’s countenance. The figure stood beneath a dim streetlight, and when it turned its head my way I felt a sense of recognition. The thin, smooth, and pale head; the wide eyes; the oval-shaped features resembling nothing so much as the skull-faced, screaming creature in that famous painting (memory fails me). This clownish imitation rivaled the original in summoning an effect of stricken horror and despair. It had an inhuman likeness more proper to something under the earth than upon it.”

 


 

 

 

Nethescurial
by Thomas Ligotti

 

This story was first published in Weird Tales magazine in the Winter 1991/1992 edition and then later in the year in Thomas Ligotti’s second story collection Grimscribe: His Lives and Works in 1991 by Carroll and Graf.
In 1996 it was included in the Ligotti story collection The Nightmare Factory.
In 2005 it was included with The Shadow at the Bottom of the World a Ligotti story collection. It appeared in The Book of Cthulhu an anthology in 2011.
2011 Subterranean Press published a limited signed edition of Grimscribe: His Lives and Works.
It is now available in a penguin classic edition along with his first collection Songs of a Dead Dreamer.
You can read the story online for free @ Ligotti.net.

 

Enchanting creepy histories being told amongst sinister enchantments and the narrator as he writes the letter trying to ascertain at the same time the realness factualness or the nightmare dream illusion of it all amidst altars and gods with a following and cult of worship, a ceremony of sacrifice and puppets also included within an omnipresent evil.

The reader of the letter in first person mentions:

despite my penchant for such wild yarns as I have just attempted to describe, I am not oblivious to their shortcomings,” he then professes, “But we do want to get close enough to feel the foul breath of these beasts, or to see them as prehistoric leviathans circling about the tiny island on which we have taken refuge. Even if we are incapable of a sincere belief in ancient cults and their unheard of idols, even if these pseudonymous adventurers and archaeologists appear to be mere shadows on a wall, and even if strange houses on remote islands are of shaky construction, there may still be a power in these things that threatens us like a bad dream.

He talks of the letter and writing his own letter confesses: “it seems this letter has mutated into a chronicle of my adventures Nethescurialian.” Onwards reading his narration and letter on what may be in that island and then his sleep and dreams with some deciphering occurring in the night of maps and clues lay wait for day of waking and new realms to be encountered “to heighten the horror of my oneiric visions.

Interloping philosophical and cosmic dread with lush prose Ligotti has you in an intimate grasp of otherness and nightmarish terror in “the lonely island of Nethescurial, where the real and the unreal swirl freely and madly about in the same fog,” and in its essence at the same time question the terror and truths of the world behind the masks.

Aspects and names contained:

Uncovered wonderful manuscript
Bizarre nature
untitled statement of sorts
Omnipresence on an obscure island
Barren remote and otherwise uninhabited
Nethescurial
Bartholomew Gray
Dr N
Ancient artifact
Wickedly repulsive in its design
pandemoniac entity
Idol
Altar
Demonist faction
Sect
Sacrifice
Ceremony of the chosen
Dreams
White-faced shadows
Keys and maps
puppets

 

Excerpts

“I have uncovered a rather wonderful manuscript, the letter began. It was an entirely fortuitous find, made during my day’s dreary labors among some of the older and more decomposed remains entombed in the library archives.”

“Amid the rooms of our houses and beyond their walls—beneath dark waters and across moonlit skies—below earth mound and above mountain peak—in northern leaf and southern flower—inside each star and the voids between them—within blood and bone—throughout all souls and spirits—upon the watchful winds of this and the several worlds—behind the faces of the living and the dead . . .”

“some shaping force of demonic temperament, a genius loci which has sculpted its nightmares out of the atoms of the local earth.”

“Imagine all of creation as a mere mask for the foulest evil, an absolute evil whose reality is mitigated only by our blindness to it, an evil at the heart of things, existing “inside each star and the voids between them—within blood and bone—through all souls and spirits,” and so forth.”

“Imagine the universe as the dream, the feverish nightmare of a demonic demiurge. O Supreme Nethescurial!”

 

 


 

 

 

 

The Men from Porlock
by Laird Barron  

 

This story was first published in The Book of Cthulhu by Night Shade books in 2011.
In the authors first short story collection The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All’ it found its final resting place in 2013.
There was two translations of the story, in spanish with Ominosus and polish with Fantastyka – Wydanie specjalne 1 (42) in 2014.

“September 1923
Darkness lay stone heavy as men roused, drawn from inner night by the tidal pull of blood, the weight of bones sagging outward through their flesh. Floorboards groaned beneath the men who shuffled and stamped like dray horses in the gloom of the bunkhouse.”

From first two sentences great descriptive word usage inviting reader to pay attention.
Slowly there be character building and the author describing a motley crew of men, veterans, bruised and ageing from toil and battle with a mission and job to have all trees in Slango fallen by Valentines day.
Cutting of trees and men in discourse on past:

“The initial sullen mutters of exhausted men coalesced and solidified around him and evolved into crude, jocular banter fueled by food and coffee and the fierce comradery of doomed souls”

Outwards a group of men on an impromptu expedition out of camp and new territory descend upon for meat to eat.

“They hiked up out of camp, slogging through the wastes and ruins of a vast swath of clear-cut land. The near slopes were littered with shorn stumps and orange sheaves of bark. The sundered loam oozed sap and water like a great open wound. Bombs might’ve caused such devastation, or perhaps Proteus himself rose from the depths to rip loose the skin of the ancient mountain, peeled it away to bare the granite bones.”

A make shift camp would be made men will eat, chatter, and music by firelight in the mountain darkness, talk of an old damned guide book and Rumpelstiltskin, dreams will be traversed and a new day to come offering something else, myths and legends things, a peculiar sun shining and a haunted mystery mountain darkness awaiting.

There is a greater threat, a following and serving, a sacrifice and ceremony, a primordial darkness unfolding and succumbing.
Atmosphere and scene immersed within along with psychology historic insertion.
Scene within scenes bewitching the moment with the Laird Barron keen inner eye and word metamorphosis, a transmutation of words archaic and contemporary fused, terrifying elements with realms colliding and a beauty of words. Where words fall the flock follow.

 

 

A few aspects and names contained:

Bullhead & Co.
Foothills of Mystery Mountain
Forested region
Slango Camp
A Bunkhouse

The men of Slango Camp:
Miller
Straw Boss McGrath
Superintendent Barret
Horn
Calhoun
Ma
Ruark
Bane
Stevens
Olsen
Sven
Manfred
Manny
Kasper
Rex
Hagen
Gordy

Expedition of men:
Miller Horn
Calhoun
Ma
Ruark
Bane
Stevens

Equipped with:
Rifles
Pistols
Axes
Skinning knives
Tomahawks
Arkansa Toothpick

Mention of:
A guide
Black book with broken circle cover
Demons
Forces of darkness

History of:
Burial mounds
Cave crypts
Disappeared explorers

Encounter of:
Treacherous trails
Deep gulf of shadows
Game trails
A weird glyph
Rustic village
The great dark
(not all mentioned want not spoil)

 

Excerpts

“At least he was young—most of the old timers were missing fingers, or had been busted up in a hundred brutal ways—from accidents to fistfights to year after year of the slow, deadly attrition from each swing of mattock or axe.”

“He seldom made sense of those days—the mortar roars, the fumaroles from incendiary starbursts boiling across the divide, eating the world; the frantic bleats of terrorized animals, and boys in their muddy uniforms, their blackened helmets like butcher’s pots upended to keep the brains in until the red, shearing moment came to let them out.”

“Behind Miller’s left eye the world cracked and vomited blood—red sky limning a benighted prairie of scrub and slick pebbles like the scales on the spine of the Ouroboros. In the seam of the horizon a jackrabbit flew from rock to rock.”

“Darkness blotted out the landscape. Embers streamed through notches in the canopy and swirled among the stars. Stoic, brooding Ma unpacked his fiddle and sawed a lively jig for the boys, who clogged in time while tending the mules and cooking supper. The Welshman’s expression remained remote and dull as ever. His hands moved like mechanisms that operated independently of his brutish mind, or as though plucked and maneuvered by the strings of a muse. Idiocy and genius were too often part and parcel of a man. Miller grinned and tapped his toe to the rhythm, however, the ever watchful segment of his brain that took no joy in anything wondered how far the light and music penetrated into the black forest, how far their shouts and hoots echoed along gullies and draws. And his smile faded.”

“Mountain darkness was a physical weight pressing down and it seemed to listen.”

“The moon occulted the sun and the world became a shadowy realm where every surface glowed and bloomed with a queer bluish-white light. Every living thing in the forest held its breath.”

“The sons an’ daughters of Ol’ Leech. An’ I kin tell ya what the people of Ol’ Leech do with ’em.”

“The colossus writhed and uncoiled with satanic majesty, aroused by the whine of flea wings. It whispered to him.”

 


 

 

Mysterium Tremendum
by Laird Barron

This story can be found in his second published story collection Occultation and Other Stories.

There be a road trip a coming along, Willem and Glenn with two friends, a couple, Dane and Victor who “flew in from Denver for the long-planned and plotted sojourn through the hills and dales of our fair state.”
In preparation Willem and Glenn have a time out shopping at a general goods store where Glenn found a book between guide books, this one was different.

“The book shone in the dusty gloom of that aisle, and it radiated an aura of antiquity and otherworldliness, like a blackened bone unearthed from the Burgess Shale. The book was pocket-sized and bound in dark leather. An embossment of a broken red ring was the only cover art.”

In this story there is this uncanny purchase of an obscure book of maps an other undeciphered dark aspects, I mean it’s called The Black Guide!
This first person narration features his partner Glenn, Dane and Victor, the four of them manoeuvre various landscapes and scenes, the black guide book present and lurking holding you with great expectation and anticipation driven with morbid curiosity and the unravelling of its purpose and use and ultimately the fates of four men.

Laird Barron can have you crack a smile in unsettling situations of a story.

“Boys, what now? I feel like calling CNN, the secretary of the interior. Somebody.”
“If you want to flee, dears, say the word.” Victor laid the sarcasm on too thick to fool anybody. “Let’s march back to the land of beer, pizza, and long, hot showers.”

I would like to have this black guide back in my hands again, worth much more than the $5 Glenn paid, a priceless artefact and vessel to something one must not talk of.
This Willem with his morbid curiosity driving him along deciphering the black guide.
Careful now!
“There are frightful things.”
“There are terrible things”
All roads to Mystery Mountain and the frightening effectiveness of its unravelling.

“This is forces of darkness shit. Hardcore Iron Maiden Album cover material.”

Yes indeed, vehicles of darkness and the ineffable, mutations of things primeval in the Laird Barron way with this Moderor de Caliginis tale the black guide you don’t want to follow.
Yet the flock seem to follow these works.
These conjurings of antiquity once again crafting with his lyrical third eye potent tellings, transmutation of words, archaic and contemporary fused juxtapositioning the reader in realms colliding surreal and real, transfiguring the scene potent protean telling morphing and mesmerising the reader with its uncanny horrors, Laird Barron one to have round the campfire telling tales.

That film with The Ninth Gate, I loved it, adapted from Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s novel “El Club Dumas” and then there is Angel Heart adapted from a William Hjortsberg’s novel “Falling Angel” put this tale up there with them with an adaption sometime in the future I am sure it will be made. I would call it The gates of the Ineffable or The Gates of Mystery Mountain.

Read this one after The Men from Porlock from his The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All collection, as aspects of it mentioned in this story and connected.
Writing these sentiments whilst listening to The Empty Man soundtrack and then what by some unholy coincidence they have a track named Mysterium Tremendum.

 

 

Names and aspects contained within:

Willem and Glenn
Dane and Victor
Once there was Tommy
Rose
Guidebook
Moderor de Caliginis
The Black Guide
$5 book
Kalamov Dolmen
Mystery Mountain
Occultation
Ineffable
Outer dark
The initiated

 

Excerpts

Possible spoilers in latter part of these excerpts.

“The book shone in the dusty gloom of that aisle, and it radiated an aura of antiquity and otherworldliness, like a blackened bone unearthed from the Burgess Shale. The book was pocket-sized and bound in dark leather. An embossment of a broken red ring was the only cover art. Its interior pages were of thin, brown paper crammed with articles and essays and route directions typed in a small, blurry font that gave you a migraine if you stared at it too long. The table of contents divided Washington State into regions and documented, in exhaustive detail, areas of interest to the prospective tourist. A series of appendices provided illustrations and reproductions of hand-drawn maps. The original copyright was 1909, and this seventh edition had been printed in 1986. On the title page: attributed to Divers Hands and no publisher; entitled Moderor de Caliginis.”

“A guy in Germany claimed there were numerous versions of the Black Guide—he’d acquired editions for regions in France, Spain, Portugal, and South Africa.”

“This thing is a kick in the pants. Says there’s a hotel in Centralia where they hold séances once a month. And a…dolmen up a trail on Mystery Mountain.”

“He was right. I’d copied a diagram of a solar eclipse and its related alchemical symbols into my moleskin journal with the heavy enamel pen my younger brother bought me back when we were still talking. I’d also made dozens of curlicue doodles of the broken circle on the cover. There was something ominously compelling about that ring—it struck a chord on what I could only describe as an atavistic level. It spoke to my inner hominid and the hominid screeched and capered its distress.”

“There are no accidents around here. Time is a ring. Everything and everyone gets squished under the wheel.”

“Ah, all I can say is some farmers here and there cleave to ancient customs. More country folk look to the sun, the moon, and the stars for succor than you might think. The nature spirits and the old gods. They don’t advertise, what with Western culture and Christianity’s persecution of such traditions.”

“Later, tucked as near the edge of the bed as possible, I studied the cover of the Black Guide, entranced by the broken ring. What was the significance? Its thickness, the suggestion of whorls, brought to mind images of the Ouroboros, the serpent eating its tail. This wasn’t the Ouroboros. This was more wormlike, leechlike, and it disturbed me that it wasn’t eating its tail. The jaws, the proboscis, the shearing appendage, were free to devour other, weaker delicacies.”

“To distract myself from the excruciating pain in my foot, arm, and skull, I dredged up my research from the pages of the Black Guide and explained how according to local legends, diabolical spirits lurked in fissures and caverns of the mountains and the rivers and lakes and assumed the guise of loved ones, or beautiful strangers, and lured hunters and fishermen to their doom. There was even a tale of the Slango logging camp that vanished during the 1920s. The spirits seized unwary men and dragged them into the depths and feasted upon them, or worse.”

“The road forked: the paved section veered to the right and into the campground. The leftward path was unpaved and led into the boonies. If the Black Guide was accurate, this was the southern terminus of a logging road network that crisscrossed the mountains. The Kalamov Dolmen lay at the end of a footpath a few miles ahead.”

“Left at ravine and Keep north of Devil Tower. ’Ware crevasse. Leech.”

“The glyphs crawled and the primeval visages yawned and leered.”

“…A horrible idea took root—that these men masked in blood, eyes gleaming with febrile intensity, had conned me, maneuvered me to this remote and profane location. They were magicians, descendants of the Salamanca Seven, necromancers of the secret grotto, Satan’s disciples, who planned to slice my throat and conduct a black magic ritual to commune with their dear dead Tom, perhaps to raise him like Lazarus.”

“The trough was a divining pool and the water a lens magnifying the slothful splay of the farthest cosmos where its gases and storms of dust lay like a veil upon the Outer Dark. A thumbnail-sized alabaster planetoid blazed beneath the ruptured skein of leaves and algae, a membranous cloud rising.
The cloud seethed and darkened, became black as a thunderhead. It keened—chains dragging against iron, a theremin dialed to eleven, a hypersonic shriek that somehow originated and emanated from inside my brain rather than an external source. Whispers drifted from the abyss, unsynchronized, unintelligible, yet conveying malevolent and obscene lust that radiated across the vast wastes of deep space. The cloud peeled, bloomed, and a hundred-thousand-miles-long tendril uncoiled, a proboscis telescoping from the central mass, and the whispers amplified in a burst of static.”

“I beheld again the cloud, a dank cosmic mold seeping from galaxy to galaxy, a system of hollow planets and a brown dwarf star nested within its coils and cockles. Sunless seas of warm ichor sloshed with the gravitational spin of those hollow, lightless worlds, spoiled yolks within eggshells. Hosts of darksome inhabitants squirmed and joined in terrible communion. I felt unclean, violated in bearing witness to their coupling.”

“I saw the wound in Victor’s leg, his mouth chanting soundlessly, saw the stars thicken into a stream that poured into that black hole. The black hole, the black cloud, was limned in red and it made me think of the broken circle on the cover of Moderor de Caliginis. These images were not exact, not perfectly symmetrical, and the hot water cascading over my back no longer thawed me. My teeth chattered.”

 

 


 

 

The King of Stones
by Simon Strantzas

 

First appeared in The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror and is to be released in Ellen Datlow’s yearly Anthology The Best Horror of the Year Volume Fourteen.

In the notes that accompany this story he mentions:
“I confess that the horror I find most frightening is folk and occult horror.”
“Perhaps it stems from my childhood, living through the first waves of panic about Satanism and cults, and films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. Whatever the cause, my psyche has been affected by these darksome tales, so when the urge struck me to write something truly and unambiguously scary, the first place I turned was to the sort of stories that scared me most.”

Judith and Rose set out on a break, a car trip, but Judith regrets the agreeing to it and with the road jammed with cars outwards on the journey puts her in a series of acts of frustration and navigating the car off a highway down an exit that they know not of, which place, and where one is and where everyone is, this detour ventures into a desolate and abandoned landscape.
The aimless driving leads to more frustration and a journey on foot and the sighting of a peach tree leads to acts irreversible.
The tale navigates to a village and torches burning then well things turn very bad.

A well crafted crisp creepy and frightening folk horror with something wicked in the woods and village will have a visit from two meandering women out in a reluctant car trip break, villagers will congregate and a ceremony will be imminent, pain, rage and terror will reign.

As mentioned in the short story notes, you do see the a24 horror films, Arthur Machen, and folk tradition influences.
Simon Strantzas crafted one of the most molevent tales i have read of his and readers may put it up there as thee creepy and best horror tale.

 

Names and aspects contained:

Judith & Rose
A couple
Two middle aged women
Villagers

Car trip
Detour through desolate empty landscape
An orchard
Peach trees
A pot
Small village
Ritual
Group of torches burning
Stones

 

 

Excerpts

“The way they bent and twisted created the illusion of a man seated with eyes closed, his beard twisted into tendrils.”

“That’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen,” Rose said. Even Judith had to agree. “Take the photo so I can show everybody when we get home. No one’s going to believe it!”

“And when she was finally pushed through the penumbrae and into the light, the crowd of villagers was revealed. Some were dressed in gowns similar to hers, both women and men, shoeless, hands together in supplication. Others were dressed as they’d been in the village, in old worn clothes, unwashed and unrepaired.”

“Some opened their mouths and made a horrible wet clucking.”

“The King needs his Queen”