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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

'The Tomb' by H. P. Lovecraft

Watch the Video Above | Listen to the MP3 | Or Read the Story Below

“Sedibus ut saltem placidis in morte quiescam.”

In relating the circumstances which have led to my confinement within this refuge for the demented, I am aware that my present position will create a natural doubt of the authenticity of my narrative. It is an unfortunate fact that the bulk of humanity is too limited in its mental vision to weigh with patience and intelligence those isolated phenomena, seen and felt only by a psychologically sensitive few, which lie outside its common experience. Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal; that all things appear as they do only by virtue of the delicate individual physical and mental media through which we are made conscious of them; but the prosaic materialism of the majority condemns as madness the flashes of super-sight which penetrate the common veil of obvious empiricism.

     My name is Jervas Dudley, and from earliest childhood I have been a dreamer and a visionary. Wealthy beyond the necessity of a commercial life, and temperamentally unfitted for the formal studies and social recreations of my acquaintances, I have dwelt ever in realms apart from the visible world; spending my youth and adolescence in ancient and little-known books, and in roaming the fields and groves of the region near my ancestral home. I do not think that what I read in these books or saw in these fields and groves was exactly what other boys read and saw there; but of this I must say little, since detailed speech would but confirm those cruel slanders upon my intellect which I sometimes overhear from the whispers of the stealthy attendants around me. It is sufficient for me to relate events without analysing causes.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

'The Willows' by Algernon Blackwood

After leaving Vienna, and long before you come to Budapesth, the Danube enters a region of singular loneliness and desolation, where its waters spread away on all sides regardless of a main channel, and the country becomes a swamp for miles upon miles, covered by a vast sea of low willow-bushes. On the big maps this deserted area is painted in a fluffy blue, growing fainter in colour as it leaves the banks, and across it may be seen in large straggling letters the word Sumpfe, meaning marshes.

     In high flood this great acreage of sand, shingle-beds, and willow-grown islands is almost topped by the water, but in normal seasons the bushes bend and rustle in the free winds, showing their silver leaves to the sunshine in an ever-moving plain of bewildering beauty. These willows never attain to the dignity of trees; they have no rigid trunks; they remain humble bushes, with rounded tops and soft outline, swaying on slender stems that answer to the least pressure of the wind; supple as grasses, and so continually shifting that they somehow give the impression that the entire plain is moving and alive. For the wind sends waves rising and falling over the whole surface, waves of leaves instead of waves of water, green swells like the sea, too, until the branches turn and lift, and then silvery white as their under-side turns to the sun.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

'The Statement of Randolph Carter', by H. P. Lovecraft

Watch the video, listen to the MP3, or read the story below...

I repeat to you, gentlemen, that your inquisition is fruitless. Detain me here forever if you will; confine or execute me if you must have a victim to propitiate the illusion you call justice; but I can say no more than I have said already. Everything that I can remember, I have told with perfect candour. Nothing has been distorted or concealed, and if anything remains vague, it is only because of the dark cloud which has come over my mind—that cloud and the nebulous nature of the horrors which brought it upon me.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

'A Strange Christmas Game', by J. H. Riddell

Watch the video, listen to the MP3, or read the story below...

WHEN, through the death of a distant relative, I, John Lester, succeeded to the Martingdale Estate, there could not have been found in the length and breadth of England a happier pair than myself and my only sister Clare.

We were not such utter hypocrites as to affect sorrow for the loss of our kinsman, Paul Lester, a man whom we had never seen, of whom we had heard but little, and that little unfavourable, at whose hands we had never received a single benefit - who was, in short, as great a stranger to us as the then Prime Minister, the Emperor of Russia, or any other human being utterly removed from our extremely humble sphere of life.

His loss was very certainly our gain. His death represented to us, not a dreary parting from one long loved and highly honoured, but the accession of lands, houses, consideration, wealth, to myself - John Lester, artist and second-floor lodger at 32, Great Smith Street, Bloomsbury.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

'Dentures' by Mik Maes


They shout at the sky while rain pellets the grey streets. Tracksuit jackets over brown corduroy pants and duct-taped tennis shoes. They sit on corners, vacantly staring at something nobody else sees, a battered cup in front of them to catch the pitiful tributes that people offer them. They roam the parks, pushing carts filled with incomprehensible treasures, muttering seemingly random words, looting trashcans for breakfast, supper or lunch.

They are a sign of a thriving city. A blemish, but also an affirmation. For do they not scavenge for wealth carelessly thrown away by those who are able to live in abundance? These are the people who did not make it, those who got in over their heads, those who could not keep up with the rat race that is obligatory for a significant metropolis. Some call them parasites, others say they’re victims. Officials want to eradicate them, but what is a city without vagrants? Are they not, in some sense, a medal? A living testament of the decadence a city needs to be seen as worthwhile? When there are no vagabonds, there is nothing to gain, for they feed on the spoils of those more successful.

But what do they speak of, huddled together around an oil drum filled with burning trash? What tales do they weave while sharing a bottle of cheap liquor wrapped in brown paper? It is easy to forget that the stories we watch on our brightly lit screens from the safe comfort of our homes are all born from stories told ages ago around campfires, stories told to keep the darkness away. To make sense of it all, or even told to be able to laugh in the face of hardship. The same stories these unfortunates tell each other while the alcohol warms their souls, anything to keep the cold and wet at bay. Do they speak of those who made it back to the cold bosom of society? Or those who disappeared between the cracks of society altogether? Perhaps their tales are darker still, coarse and thick tongued whispers about somebody, something, thriving in exile. Giving boons to those who follow his, its, path. A speckle of hope in the gloom, burning even brighter on the fuel of second grade booze or diluted heroin. Something to dream about while rain soaks ragged sleeping bags. A king of rags and rotten teeth, a pope of trash and decay. Sitting on a throne of chicken bones and mangled spectacles, spewing forth prophecies and casting runes made from rusted scrap metal.

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Nightmare Room, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Watch the video above, read the story below, or listen to the MP3

The sitting-room of the Masons was a very singular apartment. At one end it was furnished with considerable luxury. The deep sofas, the low, luxurious chairs, the voluptuous statuettes, and the rich curtains hanging from deep and ornamental screens of metal-work made a fitting frame for the lovely woman who was the mistress of the establishment. Mason, a young but wealthy man of affairs, had clearly spared no pains and no expense to meet every want and every whim of his beautiful wife. It was natural that he should do so, for she had given up much for his sake. The most famous dancer in France, the heroine of a dozen extraordinary romances, she had resigned her life of glittering pleasure in order to share the fate of the young American, whose austere ways differed so widely from her own. In all that wealth could buy he tried to make amends for what she had lost. Some might perhaps have thought it in better taste had he not proclaimed this fact — had he not even allowed it to be printed — but save for some personal peculiarities of the sort, his conduct was that of a husband who has never for an instant ceased to be a lover. Even the presence of spectators would not prevent the public exhibition of his overpowering affection.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Three Classic Poems For Halloween


Theodosia Garrison - A Ballad of Halloween

All night the wild ivind on the heath
Whistled its song of vague alarms;
The poplars tossed their naked arms
All night in some mad dance of death.
Mignon Isa hath left her bed
And bared her shoulders to the blast;
The long procession of the dead
Stared at her as it passed.
"Oh, there, methinks, my mother smiled,
And there my father walks forlorn,
And there the little nameless child
That was the parish scorn.
" And there my olden comrades move,
And there my sister smiles apart.
But nowhere is the fair, false love
That broke my loving heart.
" Oh, false in life, oh, false in death,
Wherever thy mad spirit be,
Could it not come this night," she saith,
" To keep a tryst with me?"
Mignon Isa hath turned alone;
Bitter the pain and long the years;
The moonlight on the cold gravestone
Was warmer than her tears.
All night the wild wind on the heath
Whistled its song of vague alarms;
The poplars tossed their naked arms
All night in some mad dance of death.