11 Great Horror Stories- Betty M. Owen
0 comment Thursday, May 8, 2014 |
Behold! A moldy oldie from the innermost depths of my dark collection. Put out by Scholastic in 1969, this dusty little anthology is actually a rather decent gathering of some genre favorites and scribes of less renown. The perfect book for those of you looking to pass those lazy afternoons with a few bloody good classics of terror literature...
Many strange things occur in the domed, wild countryside of Dunwich, Massachusetts. The degenerate villagers say that the mad piping of the whippoorwills signal the oncoming death of a human being and that their demonic laughter means that they have captured the soul of the departed. Even stranger than this folktale is the story concerning the mysterious family of the Whatleys. Young albino Lavinia is suddenly impregnated with child, her sorcerous father Old Whatley only alluding to the father of the boy as something more than human in his correspondence with the town people. The goatish-looking brat is delivered and matures at a supernatural rate. Young Wilbur, who keeps himself entirely clothed and is feared by dogs, reaches his manhood before even becoming an adolescent. The town folk grow uneasy every May Eve and All Hallow�s, for the Whatley family travel up to the stone-riddled Sentinel Hill to perform ghastly rites that cause the earth to groan in fury. They also begin to notice how Wilbur and his grandfather are constantly renovating their farmhouse and bringing cattle into the guarded shed, the animals never to emerge again from its stinking depths. When Old Whatley finally passes on, Wilbur desperately tries to attain an original copy of the dreaded Necronomicon from Miskatonic University. Dr. Henry Armitage, the aged librarian, refuses Wilbur to take the book when he realizes what cosmically hellish purposes he has in mind. Wilbur is slain by the library watchdog when he tries to break in one night and Armitage and his comrades behold the inhuman physiology that composed Wilbur�s body. But the very worst is yet to come. With all the Whatleys now dead, an invisible and abominable force breaks free from the Whatley place and begins terrorizing the populace of Dunwich. Armitage must now find a way to stop the titanic beast from escaping the town of Dunwich and feasting on the blood of every last human on Earth...
Jake Belknap is a young bachelor making a living in Manhattan and residing in a small, Brooklyn apartment. He purchases an old and fine Victorian desk from a pawn shop so that he can work efficiently at home. Fiddling with the ornate desk one night, Jake exposes a hidden drawer when he moves a hidden panel in one of the pigeonholes. The drawer is filled mostly with yellowed, blank sheaves of paper but he notices an unmarked envelope containing a letter. Upon opening it, Jake reads the musings of a young woman named Helen who is speaking to an imaginary lover, an ideal man she wishes to meet instead of being cursed by her planned betrothal. Enchanted by Helen's pleas and the evening atmosphere, Jake uses the old paper and ink to compose a response, even going so far as to place one of his antique stamps on the envelope and dropping the letter at a Civil War-era post office in town. Over the next few days Jake finds himself becoming enamored by the antiquity of bygone years as he stares at a pictorial history of New York and dreams of what Helen must have been like. He is equally stunned and rejoiced to find a second letter from Helen in another of the desk�s secret drawers. Claiming his love for her, Jake writes another letter explaining everything, knowing this is to be his last correspondence through time with Helen. In return she sends him a small but meaningful token along with words that shall remain true in Jake�s heart evermore...
"W. S." by L. P. HARTLEY
Novelist Walter Streeter is having a bit of a rough time with his writing. The sudden appearance of strange postcards signed "W. S." only makes his life more perplexing. He pays no mind to them at first, but a series of strange circumstances brings his attention to the front. For one, the short messages inscribed on each card seem very telling and probe into some of Streeter�s most hidden mental recesses. Walter also entertains the idea that he may have finally lost it and is sending himself letters, thus explaining the matching initials. But the most disturbing aspect is the slightly vengeful tone in the postcards and the pictures of landscapes and churches that reveal that the mailer is coming ever so closer to Streeter. Thinking back to his early days of writing, Streeter recalls a rather nefarious character he created for his book The Pariah. The villain was one William Stainsforth, a black soul who Walter had poured all of his loathing and hatred into. Sensing that the physical personification of his character has come to hunt him down for all the literary wrongs he has done him, Streeter has the police send down a guard for protection on the appointed date of arrival. But the best laid plans suddenly go awry and Streeter finds himself looking into the cold eyes of a murderer he wrought from his very own hand�
The narrator is due to board a voyage from Charleston, South Carolina to New York on the Independence in June. Though he is a tad upset when the captain informs him that the voyage is to be postponed, his spirits lighten when he notices his close artist friend Cornelius Wyatt is to be aboard as well. As everyone gets ready for the ship to set sail, the narrator becomes excited not only to reunite with his college comrade but to make the acquaintance of his new bride whom Wyatt often brags about. But when he engages Wyatt in conversation, the artist is more moody and depressed than usual and his wife, in addition to appearing rather plain, is of a vulgar and low-ranking character. The mystery surrounding Wyatt is especially highlighted by the presence of an odd oblong box that he keeps with him in his stateroom and whose contents remain unknown. The narrator cannot help but wonder about his friend�s sanity, especially when he hears Wyatt removing the lid every night and gently weeping as well as the artist�s disturbing and violent reaction to a jest the narrator made concerning the box. When a raging storm soon puts the ship in danger of being overcome by the sea, the crew and passengers are forced to abandon the doomed vessel. The last delirious act of Wyatt finally reveals to the narrator the tragic story of the oblong box�s beautiful occupant�
The young and foolish Duke of Abruzzi is conversing with the learned painter and genius Leonardo da Vinci in his hall one evening. Leonardo is making a rough sketch of a great stone water filter that he plans to have constructed in order to purify the stagnant fluids of the countryside. The Duke is not impressed one bit by Leonardo�s talk of rocks and brass pipes and constantly tries to liven the dull conversation. When Leonardo makes a comparison between his own artistic achievements and the far-reaching possibilities of the water tank, the Duke hits upon the subject of Leonardo�s work to segue from all the political talk. The Duke begins to question Leonardo about his most famous portrait, the Mona Lisa, and the mysterious woman who sat for the historical painting. The Duke is perplexed by the strange beauty Madame Giocondo seems to hold over him. He is most puzzled by the small, enigmatic smile that is frozen upon her face, wondering why she must smile in such a peculiar way. Leonardo states that his model always possessed that same smile for the entire time he saw her and relates of how he also was tortured by the puzzle of her soul. As the Duke continually prods the old painter on, Leonardo reveals to his dense companion the true horror of just what was lying beyond the Mona Lisa�s lips and how it took a silly ape and a mellow canine to reveal the ugly truth�
Malcolm Malcomson is a young student who decides to rent out the brooding and legendary Judge�s House to study for his examinations due to its desolation and loneliness. As Mr. Cranford hands over the keys to him, Malcolm is told by the frightened housekeeper Mrs. Dempster the house�s terrifying history. The house was built and lived in by an evil and cruel judge who not only dealt out the harshest of punishments but also delighted most in witnessing the gruesome hangings of the criminals he persecuted. Malcolm shrugs off the woman�s fears but, as he delves into his books that night, Malcolm hears the awful scurrying and scratching of millions of rats within the walls. An incredibly large and malevolent-looking vermin makes its presence known on the fireplace chair and proceeds to haunt and torment the student. With the discovery of the menacing portrait of the infamous judge, Malcolm begins to feel the burning of the eyes watching him until it all culminates in a night of horror and death�
Mrs. Carter and her friend Betty muse at little Simon as he plays pretend in the house�s cluttered garden just as the tea bell rings. Big Simon returns from the dentist�s office after having all his appointments canceled for the day to spend some time with his family. His wife expresses some concern for their son who always looks so drained and pale after his imaginative little games. After a bit of questioning from his father, the boy informs the adults of his playmate whom he calls Mr. Beelzy. Little Simon remains elusive as to just what his friend looks like and how he summons him for playtime, but his father becomes angered at the boy�s obstinate assertion that Beelzy is real. When Little Simon says that his friend will take the form of a ravenous lion to protect him, Big Simon brings his son upstairs for a good thrashing. Too bad he didn�t heed his son�s prophetic words�
Gunar Vries, the eloquent emissary from the country of S--, has just settled down into his hotel room after a meeting at the United Nations in New York when his bed is beset by a strange fit of shaking. The cause of the ruckus soon makes itself known: a noble griffin of ancient myth, all eagle winged and lion bodied. Gunar is a tad shocked by this visitation but he curiously asks the intelligent being of its presence. The griffin informs Gunar that his kind have come back to make themselves known to the world now at its most desperate time of need with threats of atomic war and depression. Stirred by the prophetic coming of these creatures, Gunar soon notifies his president of the griffin�s return and his plans to make the arrival known to the entire world. The trouble is, no one else seems to be able to see the monsters, even if they�re flying over the city�s skyscrapers or casually strolling into tailor shops. Gunar�s ravings unsettle his country�s government and the president is soon forced to remove Gunar from his position in order to save his reputation as well as that of the other delegates. But Gunar remains determined in his mission and goes to great lengths to inform the mass public of the griffins� return and takes a final leap of faith from his imprisoning society�
A lonely tramp, a former university don, is wandering through the sickeningly warm and wet streets of London one stormy night. Desperately seeking shelter from the ravaging rain, the tramp spots a boarded up house with a "To Let" sign plastered upon it. He manages to break through the glass of a window and let himself in just as a policeman stands at the end of the street. Finally relieved of the daunting weather, the hobo is taken back by the sumptuously furnished rooms within. It seems to be a relic from two hundred years prior, more lavish and splendid than the damaged edifice made it seem from outside. His fortune only increases with the sight of a delicious banquet set out on a table, a feast his famished organs greedily delight in. There is a mysterious droning that reverberates from the walls, similar to the buzzing of bees. Entering a bed chamber, the tramp is terrified to see an open casket that exposes the rotted and blasphemous remains of a plague victim. Worse still, the carnivorous blowflies within the cadaver soon attack the tramp who just manages to escape their disgusting wrath. Looking out a window in the kitchen, he sees a mournful figure ringing a bell and guiding a cartful of corpses through the streets as he gravely intones "Bring out your dead!" Realizing the fantastic truth that he�s been transported back to the time of the Great Plague, the tramp attempts to break free of the crawling denizens of the house before they can claim his flesh�
Hutch, Cuddy, and Stub are three adventurous boys living through a blisteringly hot summer in Michigan of 1901. They fill up their lazy afternoons with romps and play, most of which takes place in an abandoned shed that contains some gymnastic equipment. The only detriment to their fun-filled time is an enigmatic Shadow that crouches in the corner of the shed. Nearly everyone in town knows of it, but few know of what it could possibly be and just what it wants. The grim purpose of the shadow creature becomes apparent when Hutch�s beloved dog Sam goes missing. Since the canine was an important member of the community, a public uproar is raised over the animal�s disappearance. This leads Hutch to discover Sam�s name tag just outside of the Shadow�s dark reach. Once the adults hear of the strange goings-on, they forbid the children from going anywhere near the forsaken shed. Things only get worse when a little girl�s pet cat and a local daredevil also fall prey to the Shadow�s flesh-hungry wake. As the black creature begins to take definite shape and gain life with each feeding, the boys formulate a plan to stop the monster�s progress by retrieving a sickly cow from the local slaughterhouse...
The Medical Superintendent at Applesett Private Medical Hospital recounts a certain patient that was under his care. The man was completely silent and kept to himself, the oddest thing being his ability to go completely without sleep. After the man dies, the doctor opens a manuscript addressed to him specifically to be read after the patient�s death. The man had been a vicar at St. Alpha�s Church in the village of Smeritone where he ekes out a pleasant enough existence. The only detriment is his cruel warden Admiral Sir Anthony Vilpert, a despicable old coot whom the vicar dubs "the White Goat" on account of his long, snowy beard and bleating voice. The vicar and admiral simply loathe one another, the latter spreading vicious rumors concerning the former throughout the village. The vicar�s unholy prayers are granted when Vilpert finally dies one day. On the day of the funeral, the vicar is disturbed when he hears a small tapping from within the casket and entertains the notion that the fate of "the White Goat" now rests in his hands. However he does nothing to report the noise he heard and the coffin is buried. Haunted by the thought of the old man, the vicar enters the churchyard late one night and unearths a terrible sight that ruins his soul for years to come�
"W. S. " by L. P. HARTLEY

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