On the twisting paths where red and brown leaves lie,
The tranquil setting merely fools the eye—
For just beyond the peaceful veil, foul demons lurk,
Full of lusting hunger, keen to go berserk.
The babbling brooks between the trees conceal
Undreamt of horrors, hellish and surreal.
Festering, infected wounds in Nature’s orders
That seep across the day-to-day world’s borders.
Like charming vampires, and alluring succubi,
Horror true conspires to fool the mortal eye.
What sorcerous chicanery the monsters do employ
As they produce their grand trompe l’oeil!
Ere in search of fun you take your leave,
Recall that “Devils practice always to deceive”,
And entice you in to something worse than dying.
Recall all this, but know: I may be lying.
Check out this awesome Halloween artwork by Katie Dawn:
This is a delightful collection of ghostly tales set on the island of Jersey. Most of them follow classic ghost story archetypes—haunted houses, buried secrets, and wandering female specters, among other things. But each story is well-written, with carefully fleshed-out characters, so they always feel fresh, even if many of them hearken back to ghostly legends of the sort that can be found all across the globe.
I read a lot of ghost story collections like this when I was around 12 or 13 years old, and this one certainly ranks with the best of them. None of the tales are too gory, at least not by today’s standard, but they are certainly quite disturbing—with glimpses of horror that evoke more than is written on the page, just as a good horror story should.
“The Haunting of Longueville Manor” and “The House of Screams” were particular favorites of mine, but every story is creepy and effective. And it was nice to read stories set in a place that I was unfamiliar with—I learned something of the island’s history, in addition to getting some memorable scares.
This is a terrific Halloween read for anyone who enjoys good scary stories. It’s probably too disturbing for young children, but anyone 12 or older is bound to enjoy this collection.
[Many thanks to Twitter user @ESXIII for recommending this book to me.]
Sometimes you have story ideas that don’t work out. They seem like brilliant ideas at first, but then they just slowly die. It can take a while to even realize your story has died–I know I’ve kept working on some long after they’ve passed on.
Last month, the Economic Security Project had a contest to write a short story about Universal Basic Income. I tried my hand at it, but didn’t get far. I thought readers might be interested in seeing an example of a story that died.
These pictures don’t do it justice. Even video wouldn’t do it justice. It’s very peaceful, standing here and feeling the wind rustling the leaves and listening to the creaking of the trees.
As a kid, I loved decorating for Halloween. Here are a few old photos of my handiwork.
I have a tradition of watching a horror movie around Halloween. This year, I selected The Thing because Joel Edgerton is in it, and I’ve thought he is one of the best actors around ever since I saw him in Jane Got A Gun earlier this year.
The Thing is a prequel to a 1982 film of the same name. I haven’t seen that one, but from what I have read, the plots of the two films are the same: a team of researchers in the Antarctic are terrorized by an alien life-form that can disguise itself as a human being.
It is a strong setting. The isolated Antarctic has potential for an eerie atmosphere, and the shape-shifting monster attacking the trapped team could have made for a tense, Alien-like horror picture.
I say “could have” because it squandered its potential. The biggest flaw was the wildly inconsistent behavior of the monster. It would attack people, replicate them exactly, and seemingly copy all their memories and knowledge. Sounds pretty smart, until you realize that in its normal form, The Thing was powerful enough to just wipe out everyone there with brute force.
Also, it was a major plot point that The Thing could only copy organic material; not artificial stuff like fillings in teeth. Again, this was a cool idea, but it was completely contradicted by the fact that The Thing apparently could copy the clothes its victims were wearing, because whenever it appeared in disguise as another human, it was always dressed identically to the real person prior to their demise.
None of the characters were especially memorable–Edgerton’s was probably one of the better ones, but that may have just been because he was the only actor with whom I was familiar. The heroine of the movie, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is not bad, but the script is muddled as to whether she is supposed to be just a regular scientist fighting to survive or an Ellen Ripley type of character.
In the end, The Thing suffered from the most common problem in all horror fiction: it showed the monster too much, instead of relying on characters and atmosphere to create a mood of fright and tension.