“In Dark New England Days” a Creepy Tale by Sarah Orne Jewett, 1890

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Photo by Gato-Azul.

In Dark New England Days

Sarah Orne Jewett, 1890

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(This story first appeared in Century 40, 1890 issue; opening above.)

The last of the neighbors was going home; officious Mrs. Peter Downs had lingered late and sought for additional housework with which to prolong her stay. She had talked incessantly, and buzzed like a busy bee as she helped to put away the best crockery after the funeral supper, while the sisters Betsey and Hannah Knowles grew every moment more forbidding and unwilling to speak. They lighted a solitary small oil lamp at last, as if for Sunday evening idleness, and put it on the side table in the kitchen.

“We ain’t intending to make a late evening of it,” announced Betsey, the elder, standing before Mrs. Downs in an expectant, final way, making an irresistible opportunity for saying good-night. “I’m sure we’re more than obleeged to ye, — ain’t we, Hannah? — but I don’t feel ‘s if we ought to keep ye longer. We ain’t going to do no more to-night, but set down a spell and kind of collect ourselves, and then make for bed.”

Martha [Susan] Downs offered one more plea. “I’d stop all night with ye an’ welcome; ’tis gettin’ late — an’ dark,” she added plaintively; but the sisters shook their heads quickly, while Hannah said that they might as well get used to staying alone, since they would have to do it first or last. In spite of herself Mrs. Downs was obliged to put on her funeral best bonnet and shawl and start on her homeward way.

“Close-mouthed old maids!” she grumbled as the door shut behind her all too soon and denied her the light of the lamp along the footpath. Suddenly there was a bright ray from the window, as if some one had pushed back the curtain and stood with the lamp close to the sash. “That’s Hannah,” said the retreating guest. “She’d told me somethin’ about things, I know, if it hadn’t ‘a’ been for Betsey. Catch me workin’ myself to pieces again for ’em.” But, however grudgingly this was said, Mrs. Downs’s conscience told her that the industry of the past two days had been somewhat selfish on her part; she had hoped that in the excitement of this unexpected funeral season she might for once be taken into the sisters’ confidence. More than this, she knew that they were certain of her motive, and had deliberately refused the expected satisfaction. “‘Tain’t as if I was one o’ them curious busy-bodies anyway,” she said to herself pityingly; “they might ‘a’ neighbored with somebody for once, I do believe.” Everybody would have a question ready for her the next day, for it was known that she had been slaving herself devotedly since the news had come of old Captain Knowles’s sudden death in his bed from a stroke, the last of three which had in the course of a year or two changed him from a strong old man to a feeble, chair-bound cripple.

Mrs. Downs stepped bravely along the dark country road; she could see a light in her own kitchen window half a mile away, and did not stop to notice either the penetrating dampness or the shadowy woods at her right. It was a cloudy night, but there was a dim light over the open fields. She had a disposition of mind towards the exciting circumstances of death and burial, and was in request at such times among her neighbors; in this she was like a city person who prefers tragedy to comedy, but not having the semblance within her reach, she made the most of looking on at real griefs and departures.

Some one was walking towards her in the road; suddenly she heard footsteps. The figure stopped, then came forward again.

“Oh, ’tis you, ain’t it?” with a tone of disappointment. “I cal’lated you’d stop all night, ‘t had got to be so late, an’ I was just going over to the Knowles gals’; well, to kind o’ ask how they be, an'” — Mr. Peter Downs was evidently counting on his visit.

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A Little Night Reading, Orbit, ed., Dave Allen, 1975, TOC

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Table of Contents

Introduction ~ Dave Allen
The Monkey’s Paw ~ W. W. Jacobs
Oh, Whistle and I’ll come to you, My Lad ~ M. R. James
The Signalman ~ Charles Dickens
The Open Window ~ ‘Saki’
Clarimonde ~ Theophile Gautier
The Black Cat ~ Edgar Allan Poe
The Canterville Ghost ~ Oscar Wilde
Nobody’s House ~ A. M. Burrage
Was it a Dream? ~ Guy de Maupassant
The Birds ~ Daphne du Maurier
The Furnished Room ~ O. Henry
The Withered Arm ~ Thomas Hardy
The Man with a Malady ~ J. F. Sullivan
Tcheriapin ~ Sax Rohmer
The Brown Hand ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Lottery ~ Shirley Jackson
The Inn of the Two Witches ~ Joseph Conrad
The Rose Garden ~ M. R. James
The Inexperienced Ghost ~ H. G. Wells
The Squaw ~ Bram Stoker

Supernatural Sleuths (Stories of Occult Detection), ed. Peter Haining, TOC

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9 • Introduction (Supernatural Sleuths: Stories of Occult Investigators) • (1986) • essay by Peter Haining
11 • The Ghost Detective • (1866) • short story by Mark Lemon
24 • Selecting a Ghost • (1883) • novelette by Arthur Conan Doyle (variant of The Secret of Goresthorpe Grange)
42 • The Story of the Moor Road • [Flaxman Low] • (1916) • short story by Kate Prichard and Hesketh Prichard [as by E. Heron and H. Heron]
56 • A Victim of Higher Space • [John Silence] • (1914) • novelette by Algernon Blackwood
77 • Case of the Haunting of Grange • [Moris Klaw] • (1913) • novelette by Sax Rohmer (variant of The Haunting of Grange)
98 • The Telepather • (1930) • short story by Henry A. Hering
113 • The Poltergeist • [Jules de Grandin] • (1927) • novelette by Seabury Quinn
138 • The Sinister Shape • [Dr. Muncing] • (1932) • novelette by Gordon MacCreagh (variant of The Case of the Sinister Shape)
162 • Panic in Wild Harbor • (1929) • short story by Gordon Malherbe Hillman [as by Gordon Hillman]
172 • The Case of the Bronze Door • [Miles Pennoyer] • (1945) • novelette by Margery Lawrence
204 • The Case of the Red-Headed Women • [Neils Orsen] • (1943) • short story by Dennis Wheatley
216 • Apparition in the Sun • [Lucius Leffing] • (1963) • short story by Joseph Payne Brennan

The Mummy in Literature, A Bibliography of Fiction & Nonfiction Sources (Work in Progress)

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Two-Penny Press Edition (2017) of Jane C. Webb Loudon’s Novel, The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century. London (then Webb) published the novel anonymously in three volumes when she was just seventeen years of age. It is now considered one of the earliest science-fiction novels written by a woman author. After reading something she had written, George Loudon sought Jane Webb out, helped her get published, and married her as well. (Amazon.com)


Sources: International Science Fiction Database (ISFDB); Wikipedia; Brian J. Frost’s The Essential Guide to Mummy Literature (Scarecrow Press, 2007); Bill Pronzini’s Tales Of The Dead; and the anthologies and collections listed in parentheses below.

If you are aware of a story or novel or nonfiction work not on this list, in which a mummy/mummies figure(s) as a character/villain or subject, please let me know at thesanguinewoods@gmail.com and I will add it to the bibliography.

This bibliography is current up through the most recent publications of The Book of the Dead, mummy stories ed. Jared Shulin, Jurassic London, 2014; and The Mammoth Book of the Mummy, ed. Paula Guran, Prime Books, 2017.


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Mummy Short Stories

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“The North London Book of the Dead” a Story by Will Self, 1991

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The North London Book of the Dead

by Will Self, from The Quantity Theory of Insanity

Bloomsbury, London, 1991


I suppose that the form my bereavement took after my mother died was fairly conventional. Initially I was shocked. Her final illness was mercifully quick, but harrowing. Cancer tore through her body as if it were late for an important meeting with a lot of other successful diseases.

I had always expected my mother to outlive me. I saw myself becoming a neutered bachelor, who would be wearing a cardigan and still living at home at the age of forty, but it wasn’t to be. Mother’s death was a kind of relief, but it was also bizarre and hallucinatory. The week she lay dying in the hospital I was plagued by strange sensations; gusts of air would seem personalised and, driving in my car, I had the sensation not that I was moving forward but that the road was being reeled back beneath the wheels, as if I were mounted on some giant piece of scenery.

The night she died my brother and I were at the hospital. We took it in turns to snatch sleep in a vestibule at the end of the ward and then to sit with her. She breathed stertorously. Her flesh yellowed and yellowed. I was quite conscious that she had no mind any more. The cancer — or so the consultant told me — had made its way up through the meningitic fluid in the spine and into her brain. I sensed the cancer in her skull like a cloud of inky pus. Her self-consciousness, sentience, identity, what you will, was cornered, forced back by the cloud into a confined space, where it pulsed on and then off, with all the apparent humanity of a digital watch.

One minute she was alive, the next she was dead. A dumpy nurse rushed to find my brother and me. We had both fallen asleep in the vestibule, cocooned within its plastic walls. “I think she’s gone,” said the nurse. And I pictured Mother striding down Gower Street, naked, wattled.

By the time we reached the room they were laying her out. I had never understood what this meant before; now I could see that the truth was that the body, the corpse, really laid itself out. It was smoothed as if a great wind had rolled over the tired flesh. And it, Mother, was changing colour as I watched, from an old ivory to a luminous yellow. The nurse, for some strange reason, had brushed Mother’s hair back off her forehead. It lay around her in a fan on the pillow and two lightning streaks of grey ran up into it from either temple. The nurses had long since removed her dentures, and the whole ensemble – Mother with drawn-in cheeks and sculpted visage, lying in the small room, around her the loops and skeins of a life-supporting technology — made me think of the queen of an alien planet, resplendent on a high-tech palanquin, in some Buck Rogers style sci-fi serial of the Thirties.

There was a great whooshing sensation in the room. This persisted as a doctor of Chinese extraction — long, yellow, and divided at the root — felt around inside her cotton nightie for a non-existent heartbeat. The black, spindly hairs on his chin wavered. He pronounced her dead. The whooshing stopped. I felt her spirit fly out into the orange light of central London. It was about 3.00 a.m.

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Are you reading The Mammoth Book of the Mummy, horror stories, ed. by Paula Guran???

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“In The Mammoth Book of the Mummy: 19 Tales of the Immortal Dead—a cool edition to her already cool library of great horror and other weird fiction anthologies (see list after this post)—editor Paula Guran has assembled a collection of new mummy stories that will scare the linen strips of mummy wrapping right off you. And yo Mama. 😱😜🤣

In that professional and passion-filled Guran fashion we have come to know and love (and dread!), Paula Guran goes outside the box in this new mummy book—way beyond the traditional “spook-show” or the Universal Karloff batting at intermittent sunshine through a hole in castle roof (we adore you, Boris, you mute, you!).  and includes mummy stories that come from facet of fiction, including quite a few tales that blur the lines between genres, delving into full-fledged mash-ups.

First, Guran welcomes readers with a well-researched introduction to the stories, entitled: ‘My Mouth Has Been Given to Me That I May Speak’ the goal being to provide ‘a breath of fresh air in the mummy genre’ (and after 3000 years wrapped up tight like a tamale, inside three coffins, in a secret Tomb down at the bottom of a pyramid, in the pitch dark of time immemorial—that’s saying a hell of a lot), which she does nicely.

Below: There seem to be a few different covers, depending on where you live; for instance left is the cover of Guran’s book in India; and right is the United States cover. I believe the one I posted first, above, is the U.K. cover, which is my favorite.

Here is a list of the stories and a brief synopsis of each…

  1. In ‘Private Grave 9’, author Karen Joy Fowler pulls readers into the anthology by delivering a story that sets the stage for this non-traditional anthology. Haunted by their discovery of an entombed princess and badgered by an upstart young murder mystery writer, the archaeologists feel pressures mount as Howard Carter starts pulling gold from the ground at nearby Tut’s tomb. With exquisite prose and pacing, Fowler unspools tension as a true master of the short story.
  2. Nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award, Robert Sharp’s ‘The Good Shabti’ takes readers from a slave’s experiences in the court of King Mentuhotep to a Crichton-esque sci-fi future where science is being used to give new life to the dead. Fascinating in story and tone, Sharp carries readers through two fascinating worlds to an unexpected and deeply satisfying conclusion.
  3. Angela Slatter’s ‘Egyptian Revival’ is a great private eye story, flipping the gender of the detective and engaging the reader in a 1950s world where Egyptian gods are back in fashion, and resurrection is something that can be traded … or stolen. With tight prose, a great set of characters, and a knack for blending the fantastic with the intriguing, Slatter’s story is a whole lot of fun.
  4. ‘The Queen in Yellow’ uses the time-traveling science fiction characters of author Kage Bakers The Company series. This one plays with a lot of the more traditional mummy tropes, and using a tomb-raiding, 1920s Egypt as setting and flavor for a story of cyborgs and time-travelers feels a little like a Star Trek:TNG holodeck episode. It’s a great introduction to Baker’s larger body of work, but not one of the strongest stories in the anthology.
  5. John Langan is a horror writer who’s made a career of taking traditional monsters and turning them on their heads. With his response to the mummy genre, ‘On Skua Island,’ Langan knocks it out of the park with a deeply unsettling tale of a cursed body buried in a bog on an island outside the Shetlands, and its impact on one man who still carries the fear of that experience. A great story, and one that works as a palate cleanser for a reader between tales of Egypt.
  6. ‘Ramesses on the Frontier’ is a strange genre smash-up from author Paul Cornell, with a mummy’s waking in a tourist attraction museum and his journey across a surreal United States towards an afterlife. Cornell was a writer of Dr. Who, and this story shares a similar vibe. Funny, bizarre, and sweet, this addition to the anthology is charming and unexpected.
  7. In one of the creepier tales of the anthology, Australian horror author and fantasist Terry Dowling’s ‘The Shaddowwes Box’ is steeped in the intrigues and morals of Egyptologists, and upsetting clockwork. Dowling’s dark imagination fills this story with strangeness, and has a wonderfully ghoulish ending that will make horror fans grin.
  8. In ‘Egyptian Avenue’ by author Kim Newman, a tomb leaking sand and beetles sends Richard Jeperson, agent of Newman’s entertaining Diogenes Club, on a supernatural adventure. Long time readers of Newman’s world will enjoy this entry, and new readers might go running for Newman’s backlist if they’ve never heard of the occult mystery series. A solid entry, and a fun read.
  9. Gail Carriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate series of Victorian-era urban fantasy stories, offers up an amusing story with the amazing title of ‘The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy that Was, and the Cat in the Jar.’ Carriger’s characters can seem cartoony at times, but with monsters and mayhem in the heyday of the British Empire, all of it seems to work. Another fun read, if a little lighter than the others.
  10. ‘The Night Comes On’ by Steve Duffy is an interesting take on the idea of cursed objects and academics with no regard for those curses. Duffy’s prose can be a little dense, but it is filled with ideas and concrete elements that really bring the history to life … and the thing in the crate.
  11. Stephen Graham Jones tells a story of dark deeds and dark revenge in ‘American Mummy.’ Like an episode of Tales from the Crypt, Jones delivers a solidly creepy story with just the right twist of the knife at the end. Great build-up of suspense, and filled with great reveals, Jones is a master of short fiction.
  12. Outrageous and darkly hilarious, ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’ is one of Joe R. Lansdale’s more notorious stories that crackles from the page. It starts off like a story you’d overhear in a bar–So, Elvis is in this nursing home in Texas, right? And his buddy’s this old guy who thinks he’s JFK and his brain is running on batteries at the White House. Then there’s Egyptian hieroglyphs of dirty jokes, and a sassy nurse, and a mummy … and gets crazier and crazier. Lansdale is a brilliant writer, fearless and utterly unique, and this mummy story is unlike any other.
  13. ‘Fruit of the Tomb: A Midnight Louie Past Life Adventure’ by Carole Nelson Douglas is quirky, and kind of a hard sell to This Is Horror readers. If the concept of a cat detective dealing with the supernatural is your thing, you’ve come to the right place, but you’d better have a high tolerance for puns. Could be charming to the right audience, though.
  14. In ‘The Chapter of Coming Forth by Night,’ authors Lois Tilton & Noreen Doyle explain a forgotten epilogue to the Book of the Dead–new instructions for what comes after. This is a darkly delightful tale, expanding upon myth and legend to shed new light on the secrets of the mummy.
  15. Norman Partridge, a master of horror, comes in swinging with ‘The Mummy’s Heart.’ This one is genuinely scary, a Halloween nightmare come to life. Partridge is always worth a read, and if this anthology gets him more followers, they won’t be disappointed.
  16. ‘The Emerald Scarab’ by Keith Taylor blends the mystery and mysticism of mummification with the enchantment of ancient Egypt. It follows Archpriest Kamose, follower of Anubis, and a stolen jeweled scarab. An entertaining story, filled with rich details.
  17. In Helen Marshall’s ‘The Embalmer,’ a kid with an interest in embalming–not the modern-day techniques involving chemicals, but the ancient Egyptian techniques he learned from a museum–goes a little too far in this creepy, modern horror story. Marshall is one of the recent stars of weird fiction and horror, and this story shines like a dark jewel.
  18. ‘Tolland’ by Adam Roberts is an alternative-history monster story. It’s strange, imaginative, and a wild ride. Roberts is great at pacing his story, but there’s a learning curve to get into the world the author has created. A very interesting take on the mummy, for sure.
  19. With ‘Three Memories of Death’, author Will Hill wraps up the anthology with a beautifully-written story of the relationship between a pharaoh and the man who will finish the burial rites. Fascinating, and filled with details about mummification, it’s a strong story to complete a strong anthology.

In the Mammoth Book of the Mummy, Paula Guran has curated an anthology that could do more for mummy fiction than anything has in decades.”

For more information about Paula Guran’s, and a list of all of her books, visit her website, here…

http://paulaguran.com/books/

(Article Source: This Is Horror blog)

Travellers by Night, ed. August Derleth, 1967, TOC

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3 • The Cicerones • short story by Robert Aickman
17 • Episode on Cain Street • short story by Joseph Payne Brennan
33 • The Cellars • short story by Ramsey Campbell [as by J. Ramsey Campbell]
51 • The Man Who Rode the Trains • short story by Paul A. Carter
69 • A Handful of Silver • short story by Mary Elizabeth Counselman
78 • Denkirch • short story by David Drake
95 • The Wild Man of the Sea • (1926) • novelette by William Hope Hodgson
120 • The Unpleasantness at Carver House • short story by Carl Jacobi
138 • The Terror at Anerley House School • novelette by Margery Lawrence [as by Margery H. Lawrence]
172 • The Horror from the Middle Span • short story by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth
195 • Not There • short story by John Metcalfe
210 • Family Tree • short story by Frank D. Thayer, Jr.
221 • Death of a Bumblebee • novelette by H. Russell Wakefield
255 • The Crater • short story by Donald Wandrei