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)

Dracula…But, Have You Read the Book?

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Dracula, the novel from 1897, is one of my favorite books. If you haven’t had the chance to read it, it’s filled with passages such as this one, which may have been caught visually, on film, but not with the atmosphere Bram Stoker stirs up, like fog coming down the mountain to curl around your feet. Jonathan Harker has travelled to Romania to serve as a legal consultant to Count Dracula who is seeking to purchase property in England. They are scheduled to meet on the night of May 4, at the Borgo Pass. Harker’s driver has arrived at the pass an hour earlier than expected, no doubt so he could save Harker (and himself) certain doom upon meeting Dracula this night (on the night of May 4, St. George’s Day, the dead are permitted to walk the earth and hold sway). As we see here, though—the “undead” are not so easily fooled…

Jonathan Harker’s Journal, May 4…

‘When it grew dark there seemed to be some excitement amongst the passengers, and they kept speaking to him, one after the other, as though urging him to further speed. He lashed the horses unmercifully with his long whip, and with wild cries of encouragement urged them on to further exertions. Then through the darkness I could see a sort of patch of grey light ahead of us, as though there were a cleft in the hills. The excitement of the passengers grew greater; the crazy coach rocked on its great leather springs, and swayed like a boat tossed on a stormy sea. I had to hold on.

The road grew more level, and we appeared to fly along. Then the mountains seemed to come nearer to us on each side and to frown down upon us; we were entering on the Borgo Pass. One by one several of the passengers offered me gifts, which they pressed upon me with an earnestness which would take no denial; these were certainly of an odd and varied kind, but each was given in simple good faith, with a kindly word, and a blessing, and that strange mixture of fear-meaning movements which I had seen outside the hotel at Bistritz—the sign of the cross and the guard against the evil eye. Then, as we flew along, the driver leaned forward, and on each side the passengers, craning over the edge of the coach, peered eagerly into the darkness. It was evident that something very exciting was either happening or expected, but though I asked each passenger, no one would give me the slightest explanation.

This state of excitement kept on for some little time; and at last we saw before us the Pass opening out on the eastern side. There were dark, rolling clouds overhead, and in the air the heavy, oppressive sense of thunder. It seemed as though the mountain range had separated two atmospheres, and that now we had got into the thunderous one. I was now myself looking out for the conveyance which was to take me to the Count. Each moment I expected to see the glare of lamps through the blackness; but all was dark. The only light was the flickering rays of our own lamps, in which the steam from our hard-driven horses rose in a white cloud. We could see now the sandy road lying white before us, but there was on it no sign of a vehicle.

The passengers drew back with a sigh of gladness, which seemed to mock my own disappointment. I was already thinking what I had best do, when the driver, looking at his watch, said to the others something which I could hardly hear, it was spoken so quietly and in so low a tone; I thought it was “An hour less than the time.” Then turning to me, he said in German worse than my own:—

“There is no carriage here. The Herr is not expected after all. He will now come on to Bukovina, and return to-morrow or the next day; better the next day.” Whilst he was speaking the horses began to neigh and snort and plunge wildly, so that the driver had to hold them up. Then, amongst a chorus of screams from the peasants and a universal crossing of themselves, a calèche, with four horses, drove up behind us, overtook us, and drew up beside the coach. I could see from the flash of our lamps, as the rays fell on them, that the horses were coal-black and splendid animals. They were driven by a tall man, with a long brown beard and a great black hat, which seemed to hide his face from us. I could only see the gleam of a pair of very bright eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight, as he turned to us. He said to the our driver:—

“You are early to-night, my friend.”

The man stammered in reply:—

“The English Herr was in a hurry,” to which the stranger replied:—

“That is why, I suppose, you wished him to go on to Bukovina. You cannot deceive me, my friend; I know too much, and my horses are swift.”

As he spoke he smiled, and the lamplight fell on a hard-looking mouth, with very red lips and sharp-looking teeth, as white as ivory. One of my companions whispered to another the line from Burger’s “Lenore”:—

“Denn die Todten reiten”
(trans. “For the dead travel fast.”)

The strange driver evidently heard the words, for he looked up with a gleaming smile. The passenger turned his face away, at the same time putting out his two fingers and crossing himself. “Give me the Herr’s luggage,” said the driver; and with exceeding alacrity my bags were handed out and put in the calèche. Then I descended from the side of the coach, as the calèche was close alongside, the driver helping me with a hand which caught my arm in a grip of steel; his strength must have been prodigious. Without a word he shook his reins, the horses turned, and we swept into the darkness of the Pass. As I looked back I saw the steam from the horses of the coach by the light of the lamps, and projected against it the figures of my late companions crossing themselves. Then the driver cracked his whip and called to his horses, and off they swept on their way to Bukovina. As they sank into the darkness I felt a strange chill, and a lonely feeling came over me; but a cloak was thrown over my shoulders, and a rug across my knees, and the driver said in excellent German:—

“The night is chill, mein Herr, and my master the Count bade me take all care of you. There is a flask of slivovitz (the plum brandy of the country) underneath the seat, if you should require it.” I did not take any, but it was a comfort to know it was there all the same. I felt a little strangely, and not a little frightened. I think had there been any alternative I should have taken it, instead of prosecuting that unknown night journey. The carriage went at a hard pace straight along, then we made a complete turn and went along another straight road. It seemed to me that we were simply going over and over the same ground again; and so I took note of some salient point, and found that this was so. I would have liked to have asked the driver what this all meant, but I really feared to do so, for I thought that, placed as I was, any protest would have had no effect in case there had been an intention to delay. By-and-by, however, as I was curious to know how time was passing, I struck a match, and by its flame looked at my watch; it was within a few minutes of midnight. This gave me a sort of shock, for I suppose the general superstition about midnight was increased by my recent experiences. I waited with a sick feeling of suspense.

Then a dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road—a long, agonised wailing, as if from fear. The sound was taken up by another dog, and then another and another, till, borne on the wind which now sighed softly through the Pass, a wild howling began, which seemed to come from all over the country, as far as the imagination could grasp it through the gloom of the night.

At the first howl the horses began to strain and rear, but the driver spoke to them soothingly, and they quieted down, but shivered and sweated as though after a runaway from sudden fright. Then, far off in the distance, from the mountains on each side of us began a louder and a sharper howling—that of wolves—which affected both the horses and myself in the same way—for I was minded to jump from the calèche and run, whilst they reared again and plunged madly, so that the driver had to use all his great strength to keep them from bolting. In a few minutes, however, my own ears got accustomed to the sound, and the horses so far became quiet that the driver was able to descend and to stand before them. He petted and soothed them, and whispered something in their ears, as I have heard of horse-tamers doing, and with extraordinary effect, for under his caresses they became quite manageable again, though they still trembled. The driver again took his seat, and shaking his reins, started off at a great pace. This time, after going to the far side of the Pass, he suddenly turned down a narrow roadway which ran sharply to the right.

Soon we were hemmed in with trees, which in places arched right over the roadway till we passed as through a tunnel; and again great frowning rocks guarded us boldly on either side. Though we were in shelter, we could hear the rising wind, for it moaned and whistled through the rocks, and the branches of the trees crashed together as we swept along. It grew colder and colder still, and fine, powdery snow began to fall, so that soon we and all around us were covered with a white blanket. The keen wind still carried the howling of the dogs, though this grew fainter as we went on our way. The baying of the wolves sounded nearer and nearer, as though they were closing round on us from every side. I grew dreadfully afraid, and the horses shared my fear. The driver, however, was not in the least disturbed; he kept turning his head to left and right, but I could not see anything through the darkness.

Suddenly, away on our left, I saw a faint flickering blue flame. The driver saw it at the same moment; he at once checked the horses, and, jumping to the ground, disappeared into the darkness. I did not know what to do, the less as the howling of the wolves grew closer; but while I wondered the driver suddenly appeared again, and without a word took his seat, and we resumed our journey.

I think I must have fallen asleep and kept dreaming of the incident, for it seemed to be repeated endlessly, and now looking back, it is like a sort of awful nightmare. Once the flame appeared so near the road, that even in the darkness around us I could watch the driver’s motions. He went rapidly to where the blue flame arose—it must have been very faint, for it did not seem to illumine the place around it at all—and gathering a few stones, formed them into some device. Once there appeared a strange optical effect: when he stood between me and the flame he did not obstruct it, for I could see its ghostly flicker all the same. This startled me, but as the effect was only momentary, I took it that my eyes deceived me straining through the darkness. Then for a time there were no blue flames, and we sped onwards through the gloom, with the howling of the wolves around us, as though they were following in a moving circle.

At last there came a time when the driver went further afield than he had yet gone, and during his absence, the horses began to tremble worse than ever and to snort and scream with fright. I could not see any cause for it, for the howling of the wolves had ceased altogether; but just then the moon, sailing through the black clouds, appeared behind the jagged crest of a beetling, pine-clad rock, and by its light I saw around us a ring of wolves, with white teeth and lolling red tongues, with long, sinewy limbs and shaggy hair.

They were a hundred times more terrible in the grim silence which held them than even when they howled. For myself, I felt a sort of paralysis of fear. It is only when a man feels himself face to face with such horrors that he can understand their true import.

All at once the wolves began to howl as though the moonlight had had some peculiar effect on them. The horses jumped about and reared, and looked helplessly round with eyes that rolled in a way painful to see; but the living ring of terror encompassed them on every side; and they had perforce to remain within it. I called to the coachman to come, for it seemed to me that our only chance was to try to break out through the ring and to aid his approach. I shouted and beat the side of the calèche, hoping by the noise to scare the wolves from that side, so as to give him a chance of reaching the trap. How he came there, I know not, but I heard his voice raised in a tone of imperious command, and looking towards the sound, saw him stand in the roadway. As he swept his long arms, as though brushing aside some impalpable obstacle, the wolves fell back and back further still. Just then a heavy cloud passed across the face of the moon, so that we were again in darkness.

When I could see again the driver was climbing into the calèche, and the wolves had disappeared. This was all so strange and uncanny that a dreadful fear came upon me, and I was afraid to speak or move. The time seemed interminable as we swept on our way, now in almost complete darkness, for the rolling clouds obscured the moon. We kept on ascending, with occasional periods of quick descent, but in the main always ascending. Suddenly, I became conscious of the fact that the driver was in the act of pulling up the horses in the courtyard of a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky’

(Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897)

“The Voice of the People” a Creepy Story by Alison Moore, from Shadows and Tall Trees, Vol. 7, Undertow Books, 2017

The Voice of The People

Alison Moore, 2017

(This story originally appeared in Shadows and Tall Trees, Vol. 7, ed. Michael Kelly, IMG_4134Undertow Books, 2017)

***

On the day of the protest, Glenda decided to drive out to the retail park to buy weedkiller. She was just setting out, getting into third gear, when a pigeon dawdling in the road caused her to brake hard. The pigeon seemed oblivious, even when Glenda’s two-tonne car was virtually on top of it. Perhaps the car actually was on top of it, because having stopped dead, Glenda could not see the pigeon anywhere. She was just about to get out to look beneath her wheels when she saw the pigeon wandering to the side of the road. She watched its strangely sluggish progress, and then drove on, towards the edge of the village.

The garden was really Dougie’s responsibility, but work was taking it out of him these days. On his day off, he just lay on the sofa, with the cat asleep on top of him, or sometimes the cat fell asleep on the carpet or in the lengthening grass, wherever it happened to be. Dougie himself did not really sleep, he just lay there, with no energy for Glenda, or for his projects: at the far end of the overgrown garden, a half-dug pond had been abandoned; and the second-hand furniture that he had bought to spruce up was gathering dust in the spare room. The last piece he had done was the little table on which their telephone stood: he had spent weeks sanding and then staining and varnishing it, although Glenda hated it, the darkness of its wood, and its rickety, skeletal legs.

She had just got onto a faster stretch of road leading out of the village when another pigeon staggered out in front of her car, not even flinching away from the vehicle as she skimmed past. She wondered what was wrong with these pigeons; they were like zombies.

It was not just Dougie; it seemed to be everyone who worked at that factory. They had all lost their pep. No one in the village liked the factory, although the men needed the jobs; it employed hundreds of them. It was an ugly, stony-faced building, ruining what had been a nice stretch of riverside, at a spot where the locals used to swim—some still did, but not many. The women had been worrying about the factory’s emissions, about what exactly was going into the air. Sometimes the smoke that went into the clouds looked yellow. And was anything going into the river, anything that should not be? Dougie used to fish there, but he did not do that anymore. And there was that terrible smell, which had to be coming from the factory.

At the bend, where the road turned away from the river, there was a pigeon, flattened against the tarmac. Its grey wings were splayed around its crushed body. Its underbelly was turned up to face the sky, to face the wheels of the oncoming traffic. These pigeons reminded Glenda of the summer outbreak of flying ants, which did not fly off at the flap of a hand as houseflies did; or they reminded her of the houseflies themselves, the listlessness that came over them at the end of the summer, leaving them too slow to avoid the swatter. But she had never before noticed the phenomenon in birds or other creatures.

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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)

The First Panther Book of Horror, ed. Anthony Rampton, 1965′ TOC

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Table of Contents

7 • Man from the South • (1948) • short story by Roald Dahl
19 • The Premature Burial • (1844) • short story by Edgar Allan Poe
33 • Sombrero • (1929) • short story by Martin Armstrong
51 • Dead Language Master • (1965) • short story by Joan Aiken
59 • Someone in the Lift • (1955) • short story by L. P. Hartley
65 • The Insanity of Jones • (1907) • novelette by Algernon Blackwood
92 • A Drive in the Country • (1937) • short story by Graham Greene
107 • Decay • (1965) • short story by J. C. Moore
117 • Dracula’s Guest • [Dracula] • (1914) • short story by Bram Stoker
130 • The Silver Mask • (1932) • short story by Hugh Walpole
145 • The Trial for Murder • (1865) • short story by Charles Dickens (variant of To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt)
157 • A Night on the Borders of the Black Forest • (1871) • short story by Amelia B. Edwards
182 • The Gentleman from America • (1924) • short story by Michael Arlen
202 • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde • [Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde] • (1886) • novel by Robert Louis Stevenson (variant of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)