“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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Wanna Get to Know the World’s Greatest Horror Writer Better?

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H. P. Lovecraft: How to Become More Intimate With Both the Man & the Work in Just 2 Steps!


First, read this (it’s short)…

Born on August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island, Lovecraft always felt as though he were an anachronism of the time in which he lived. His great fondness for the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations as well as his love of such fantasies as Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the Arabian Nights provided the backdrop for the fascinating tales he would spin later in his life. By the age of twelve, he had already mastered the standard English meters of poetry and was mainly a poet until about 1917, when the life blood of prose poured forth out of his pen and leaked mesmerizing tales on to the parchment stained with his imagination. Lovecraft drew much of his inspiration from the works of Edgar Allen [sic] Poe, whose style is evident in many of Lovecraft’s stories. S.T. Joshi, a leading literary critic who has devoted much time to the study of Lovecraft and written several volumes about his life and works, says Lovecraft’s discovery of Poe at the age of eight gave Lovecraft’s writing “the greatest impetus it ever received.”

Lovecraft’s family life was filled with tragedy. In 1893, Lovecraft’s father, a traveling salesman named Winfield Scott Lovecraft, became paralyzed and remained in a coma until his death in 1898. As a result of this unfortunate turn of events, Lovecraft’s grandfather, Whipple V. Phillips, a wealthy industrialist, sustained Lovecraft and his mother, Sarah Susan Lovecraft, until he met his death in 1904. From this point on, poverty would be Lovecraft’s lot in life until his untimely demise at the age of forty-six in 1937. Though Lovecraft loved his mother dearly, he suffered much emotional scarring from her as she deemed him ugly and, for no apparent reason, hated him for his father’s poor health. She was hospitalized for her disturbed psychological condition and Lovecraft made no special efforts to see her during her final days. Her death in 1921, however, led Lovecraft to combat suicidal tendencies. After the collapse of his brief and unhappy marriage to Sonia H. Greene, Lovecraft lived with his aunt, Lilian D. Clark, until her death in 1932. He then moved in with his other aunt, Annie E. Phillips Gamwell, and remained with her until his death.

Some believe Lovecraft’s greatest accomplishment was his correspondence with fans of his work and other authors. It is estimated that he wrote over 100,000 letters in his life to such people as Henry Kuttner, Samuel Loveman, and Vincent Starrett. The letters describe his feelings about the nature of life, his aspirations, and his interests. Some readers find these more fascinating than his fiction works as they unleash his true writing genius completely unfettered.

(from “H.P. Lovecraft, 1890-1937,” an article published on the University of North Carolina at Pembroke website)


Now, click here…

http://www.teemingbrain.com/2013/06/03/how-to-read-lovecraft-a-practical-beginners-guide/

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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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)

A Very Creepy Excerpt from “The Cenacle” a horror story by Robert Levy, from Shadows and Tall Trees, Vol. 7, ed. Michael Kelly (Undertow Books), 2017

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Excerpt below is from a Facebook post by Michael Kelly, editor of the Shadows and Tall Trees series, and owner of Undertow Books, its publisher…

‘That night after their rounds they trail back inside the crypt, back to the central round chamber, the widow entering last of all. The young woman lights the arrangement of ledge candles, one after the next, as the temple-like room takes on the eerie half-flame of a winter hearth. The old man clears their last meal’s detritus from the granite slab to help the old woman as she lowers herself down upon the tomb.

The old man and the young woman gather on either side of her prone form, the pair tugging back the old woman’s tatty black shawl. They unbutton her blouse and lower it, unfasten her nude-colored brassiere and shimmy it out from beneath her, peeling off the rest of her mourning attire until she is naked upon the slab. The old woman crosses her arms over her breasts and closes her eyes, as if she herself is laid out in death’s final repose.

All along the woman’s body are painted intricate black circles. Of varying size and shape, the patterns run up and down her sides in erratic intervals, appearing to spot her the way a leopard’s coat is spotted, dark swirls patching her sagging and distended skin.

Mesmerized, the widow steps forward. Inches away now, and she can see at last that they aren’t inked-on designs, but are in fact suppurated wounds, the size of bite marks. Just as soon as she realizes this fact a festering smell hits her, and she staggers back gasping from the slab.

“What is this?” the widow asks, and covers her nose and mouth with a trembling hand.

“This,” the old man says, “is the trick.”

The widow stares at the young woman, who remains silent as ever, only nodding gravely as she lowers herself to her knees beside the older woman’s prostrate form. Without taking her eyes off the widow, the young woman lifts the older woman’s arm, brings it to her mouth, and sinks her teeth into its spongy flesh, the aged brown parchment of skin bruising and blooding a deeper shade of red.

“My God,” the widow whispers. “Why?”

“This is our sacrament,” the old woman says from the slab, eyes still shut though her parted lips quiver as if jolted by an electric current. “This is the holy of holy, the flesh that binds us together.”

“Take of her,” the old man says, so close his rotted breath masks the scent of the old woman’s wounds. “Take of her flesh and blood, so that you may strengthen grief’s resolve. It’s the only way, now.”

“I… can’t. I can’t.” She wipes away tears and retreats for the doors, wedges her chaffed fingers into the narrow space between them and wrenches them open, ready to flee into the darkness. No one tries to stop her.

– “The Cenacle,” by Robert Levy (Shadows and Tall Trees, Vol. 7)

Buy it here… 

http://www.undertowbooks.com/product/shadows-and-tall-trees-vol-7/

About the Author

http://www.therobertlevy.com/

ROBERT LEVY is an author of unsettling stories and plays whose work has been seen Off-Broadway. A Harvard graduate subsequently trained as a forensic psychologist, his work has been called “frank and funny” (Time Magazine), “idiosyncratic and disarming” (The New York Times), “ambitious and clever” (Variety), “smart” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) and “bloody brave” (the UK’s SFX Magazine). His first novel, the contemporary dark fairy tale THE GLITTERING WORLD, was published last year by Gallery/Simon & Schuster and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award as well as the Shirley Jackson Award. He currently lives in his native Brooklyn near a toxic canal, where he is awaiting his mutant powers to develop any day now. (Author’s Website)

Carmilla, An Exquisite Tale of a Female Vampire, from The Complete Works of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, ed. Sanguine Woods (2018)

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Carmilla

J. S. Le Fanu, 1872

“Dearest, your little heart is wounded; think me not cruel because I obey the irresistible law of my strength and weakness; if your dear heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours. In the rapture of my enormous humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall die–die, sweetly die–into mine. I cannot help it; as I draw near to you, you, in your turn, will draw near to others, and learn the rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love…”


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“A Prologue”

Upon a paper attached to the Narrative which follows, Doctor Hesselius has written a rather elaborate note, which he accompanies with a reference to his Essay on the strange subject which the MS. illuminates.

This mysterious subject he treats, in that Essay, with his usual learning and acumen, and with remarkable directness and condensation. It will form but one volume of the series of that extraordinary man’s collected papers.

As I publish the case, in this volume, simply to interest the “laity,” I shall forestall the intelligent lady, who relates it, in nothing; and after due consideration, I have determined, therefore, to abstain from presenting any précis of the learned Doctor’s reasoning, or extract from his statement on a subject which he describes as “involving, not improbably, some of the profoundest arcana of our dual existence, and its intermediates.”

I was anxious on discovering this paper, to reopen the correspondence commenced by Doctor Hesselius, so many years before, with a person so clever and careful as his informant seems to have been. Much to my regret, however, I found that she had died in the interval.

She, probably, could have added little to the Narrative which she communicates in the following pages, with, so far as I can pronounce, such conscientious particularity.


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I

“An Early Fright”

In Styria, we, though by no means magnificent people, inhabit a castle, or schloss. A small income, in that part of the world, goes a great way. Eight or nine hundred a year does wonders. Scantily enough ours would have answered among wealthy people at home. My father is English, and I bear an English name, although I never saw England. But here, in this lonely and primitive place, where everything is so marvelously cheap, I really don’t see how ever so much more money would at all materially add to our comforts, or even luxuries.

My father was in the Austrian service, and retired upon a pension and his patrimony, and purchased this feudal residence, and the small estate on which it stands, a bargain.

Nothing can be more picturesque or solitary. It stands on a slight eminence in a forest. The road, very old and narrow, passes in front of its drawbridge, never raised in my time, and its moat, stocked with perch, and sailed over by many swans, and floating on its surface white fleets of water lilies.

Over all this the schloss shows its many-windowed front; its towers, and its Gothic chapel.

The forest opens in an irregular and very picturesque glade before its gate, and at the right a steep Gothic bridge carries the road over a stream that winds in deep shadow through the wood. I have said that this is a very lonely place. Judge whether I say truth. Looking from the hall door towards the road, the forest in which our castle stands extends fifteen miles to the right, and twelve to the left. The nearest inhabited village is about seven of your English miles to the left. The nearest inhabited schloss of any historic associations, is that of old General Spielsdorf, nearly twenty miles away to the right.

I have said “the nearest inhabited village,” because there is, only three miles westward, that is to say in the direction of General Spielsdorf’s schloss, a ruined village, with its quaint little church, now roofless, in the aisle of which are the moldering tombs of the proud family of Karnstein, now extinct, who once owned the equally desolate chateau which, in the thick of the forest, overlooks the silent ruins of the town.

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Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay, 18–

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Very Rare First Edition in Three Volumes. Below shows this collection going for upwards of $17,000.

Table of Contents

“Foreward” by Bernard M. Baruch, xiii-xvi
“Foreward”, xvii-xviii
“Preface to the Edition of 1852”, xix
“The Mississippi Scheme”, 1-45
“The South-Sea Bubble”, 46-88
“The Tulipomania”, 89-97
“The Alchymists”, 98-256
“Modern Prophecies”, 257-280
“Fortune-Telling”, 281-303
“The Magnetisers”, 304-345
“Influence: Politics/Religion: Hair/Beard”, 346-353
“The Crusades”, 354-461
“The Witch Mania”, 462-564
“The Slow Poisoners”, 565-592
“Haunted Houses”, 593-618
“Popular Follies of Great Cities”, 619-631
“Popular Admiration of Great Thieves”, 632-646
“Duels and Ordeals”, 647-694
“Relics”, 695-734

Read the entire book, free, here, in the Public Domain…

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24518/24518-h/24518-h.htm