Monday, February 19, 2018

Artwork About The Cure

Shattered 'Pictures of You'
(water color and ink on paper)

The artist Maeve has just created a one-of-a-kind artwork based on The Cure. More specifically, it's a 3-D work of art based on the song "Pictures of You," which is one of the most popular Cure songs from Disintegration and a rather scary short story if you think about it.

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Maeve at her home in southwest Florida. The underground artist is modestly shy. Her flowing blonde hair spills over her shoulders and she smiles when she talks about her art, clasping and unclasping her hands in a confident way, not out of nervousness. This is how it went.

Q1. What was your inspiration for your new artwork?

"'Pictures of You' by The Cure. I love the band and its songs. Of all the current bands I know they will be the ones remembered a hundred years from now. (blushes) 'One Hundred Years,' I guess that's another Cure song."

Q2. Why The Cure?

"They are one of my favorite bands from the 80s, though they are still writing music and I like the band's new songs, too. I like their songs that have a strong chorus."

Q3. Why "Pictures of You?"

"In my new work I wanted to illustrate a song and it has lots of good visuals that I could draw on for inspiration. I went lyric by lyric. Probably 85% of the lyrics to 'Pictures of You' are reflected in my imagery."

Q4. What is the material you used for your new artwork?

"Watercolor, paper, string, pen, felt, cardboard."

Q5. How long did it take you?

"Around two and a half weeks."

Q6. Are you working on anything new?

"Carvings on a stamp is all can say right now. We'll see where it leads. (smiles)"

Q7. What is the title?

"Shattered 'Pictures of You.'"

Q8. Any plans for a website?

Shrugs. Grins.

Q9. Thanks for speaking with me.

"Thanks for the interview . . . and for keeping it short."

Maeve trailed off into the back of the house and that's the last I saw of her. A friend let me out the front entrance. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to peek behind any of the closed doors on the way out no matter how much I wanted to.

Shattered Pictures of 'Pictures of You' is available for purchase - $10,000 USD.

#CureArt #PicturesofYouArt #TheCure

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Old Maid in the Winding Sheet by Nathaniel Hawthorne - Scary Ghost Story


The Old Maid in the Winding Sheet
The modern concept of ghosts being clothed in sheets can be traced back to “The Old Maid in the Winding Sheet.” The story also furthers the perpetuation of the pale and gliding (or hovering) ghost.
“The Old Maid in the Winding Sheet” was widely reprinted as were most of Hawthorne’s short stories and novels. The story was first published in the July 1835 edition of the New England Magazine along with “The White Old Maid.” Hawthorne subsequently included it in his 1837 collection Twice-Told Tales. I included it in the annotated collection Phantasmal: Best Ghost Short Stories 1800-1849.
Edgar Allan Poe felt national pride in the collection as he pointed out a number of times, the last of which was published in Works of 1850. “Of Mr. Hawthorne’s Tales we would say, emphatically, that they belong to the highest region of Art — an Art subservient to genius of a very lofty order. We had supposed, with good reason for so supposing, that he had been thrust into his present position by one of the impudent cliques which beset our literature, and whose pretensions it is our full purpose to expose at the earliest opportunity; but we have been most agreeably mistaken. We know of few compositions which the critic can more honestly commend then these ‘Twice-Told Tales.’ As Americans, we feel proud of the book.”
The Old English turns of phrase are an annoyance in “The Old Maid in the Winding Sheet,” and at times make a person feel they are reading The King James Bible. Still, this is the finest example of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s literary prowess in the supernatural realm.
His power of suggestion throughout is surpassed only by his creepy story “The Minister’s Black Veil” that was included in 6a66le: The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849.

Andrew Barger

The Old Maid in the Winding Sheet

The moon-beams came through two deep and narrow windows, and showed a spacious chamber, richly furnished in an antique fashion. From one lattice, the shadow of the diamond panes was thrown upon the floor; the ghostly light through the other slept upon a bed, falling between the heavy silken curtains, and illuminating the face of a young man. But, how quietly the slumberer lay; how pale his features; and how like a shroud the sheet was wound about his frame! Yes, it was a corpse in its burial clothes.
Suddenly, the fixed features seemed to move with dark emotion. Strange fantasy! It was but the shadow of the fringed curtain, waving betwixt the dead face and the moonlight, as the door of the chamber opened, and a girl stole softly to the bedside. Was there delusion in the moonbeams, or did her gesture and her eye betray a gleam of triumph, as she bent over the pale corpse—pale as itself—and pressed her living lips to the cold ones of the dead? As she drew back from that long kiss, her features writhed as if a proud heart were fighting with its anguish. Again it seemed that the features of the corpse had moved, responsive to her own. Still an illusion! The silken curtain had waved, a second time, betwixt the dead face and the moonlight, as another fair young girl unclosed the door, and glided ghost-like to the bedside. There the two maidens stood, both beautiful, with the pale beauty of the dead between them. But she who had first entered was proud and stately, and the other a soft and fragile thing.
“Away!” cried the lofty one. “Thou hadst him living! The dead is mine!”
“Thine!” returned the other, shuddering. “Well hast thou spoken! The dead is thine!”
The proud girl started, and stared into her face with a ghastly look. But a wild and mournful expression passed across the features of the gentle one; and, weak and helpless, she sank down on the bed, her head pillowed beside that of the corpse, and her hair mingling with his dark locks. A creature of hope and joy, the first draught of sorrow had bewildered her.
“Patience!” cried her rival.
Patience groaned, as with a sudden compression of the heart; and removing her cheek from the dead youth’s pillow, she stood upright, fearfully encountering the eyes of the lofty girl.
“Wilt thou betray me?” said the latter calmly.
“Till the dead bid me speak, I will be silent,” answered Patience. “Leave us alone together! Go, and live many years, and then return and tell me of thy life. He, too, will be here! Then, if thou tellest of sufferings more than death, we will both forgive thee!”
“And what shall be the token?” asked the proud girl, as if her heart acknowledged a meaning in these wild words.
“This lock of hair,” said Patience, lifting one of the dark clustering curls that lay heavily on the dead man’s brow.
The two maidens joined their hands over the bosom of the corpse, and appointed a day and hour, far, far in time to come, for their next meeting in that chamber. The statelier girl gave one deep look at the motionless countenance, and departed—yet turned again and trembled, ere she closed the door, almost believing that her dead lover frowned upon her. And Patience, too! Was not her white form fading into the moonlight? Scorning her own weakness, she went forth and perceived that a negro slave was waiting in the passage with a wax-light, which he held between her face and his own, and regarded her, as she thought, with an ugly expression of merriment. Lifting his torch on high, the slave lighted her down the staircase, and undid the portal of the mansion. The young clergyman of the town had just ascended the steps, and bowing to the lady, passed in without a word.
Years, many years rolled on; the world seemed new again, so much older was it grown, since the night when those pale girls had clasped their hands across the bosom of the corpse. In the interval, a lonely woman had passed from youth to extreme age, and was known by all the town, as the “Old Maid in the Winding Sheet.” A taint of insanity had affected her whole life, but so quiet, sad, and gentle, so utterly free from violence, that she was suffered to pursue her harmless fantasies, unmolested by the world, with whose business or pleasures she had nought to do.
She dwelt alone, and never came into the daylight, except to follow funerals. Whenever a corpse was borne along the street, in sunshine, rain, or snow, whether a pompous train of the rich and proud thronged after it, or few and humble were the mourners, behind them came the lonely woman, in a long white garment, which the people called her shroud. She took no place among the kindred or the friends, but stood at the door to hear the funeral prayer, and walked in the rear of the procession, as one whose earthly charge it was to haunt the house of mourning, and be the shadow of affliction, and see that the dead were duly buried. So long had this been her custom, that the inhabitants of the town deemed her a part of every funeral, as much as the coffin-pall, or the very corpse itself, and augured ill of the sinner’s destiny, unless the “Old Maid in the Winding Sheet” came gliding, like a ghost, behind. Once, it is said, she affrighted a bridal party with her pale presence, appearing suddenly in the illuminated hall, just as the priest was uniting a false maid to a wealthy man, before her lover had been dead a year. Evil was the omen to that marriage! Sometimes she stole forth by moonlight, and visited the graves of venerable integrity, and wedded love, and virgin innocence, and every spot where the ashes of a kind and faithful heart were mouldering.
Over the hillocks of those favoured dead would she stretch out her arms, with a gesture, as if she were scattering seeds; and many believed that she sought them from the garden of Paradise; for the graves which she had visited were green beneath the snow, and covered with sweet flowers from April to November. Her blessing was better than a holy verse upon the tomb-stone. Thus wore away her long, sad, peaceful, and fantastic life, till few were so old as she, and the people of later generations wondered how the dead had ever been buried, or mourners had endured their grief, without the “Old Maid in the Winding Sheet.”
Still, years went on, and still she followed funerals, and was not yet summoned to her own festival of death. One afternoon, the great street of the town was all alive with business and bustle, though the sun now gilded only the upper half of the church-spire, having left the house-tops and loftiest trees in shadow. The scene was cheerful and animated, in spite of the sombre shade between the high brick buildings. Here were pompous merchants, in white wigs and laced velvet; the bronzed faces of sea-captains; the foreign garb and air of Spanish creoles; and the disdainful port of natives of Old England; all contrasted with the rough aspect of one or two backsettlers, negotiating sales of timber, from forests where axe had never sounded. Sometimes a lady passed, swelling roundly forth in an embroidered petticoat, balancing her steps in high-heeled shoes, and courtesying, with lofty grace, to the punctilious obeisances of the gentlemen.
The life of the town seemed to have its very centre not far from an old mansion, that stood somewhat back from the pavement, surrounded by neglected grass, with a strange air of loneliness, rather deepened than dispelled by the throng so near it. Its site would have been suitably occupied by a magnificent exchange, or a brick-block, lettered all over with various signs; or the large house itself might have made a noble tavern, with the “King’s Arms” swinging before it; and guests in every chamber, instead of the present solitude. But, owing to some dispute about the right of inheritance, the mansion had been long without a tenant, decaying from year to year, and throwing the stately gloom of its shadow over the busiest part of the town. Such was the scene, and such the time, when a figure, unlike any that have been described, was observed at a distance down the street.
“I espy a strange sail, yonder,” remarked a Liverpool captain; “that woman in the long white garment!”
The sailor seemed much struck by the object, as were several others, who at the same moment caught a glimpse of the figure that had attracted his notice. Almost immediately, the various topics of conversation gave place to speculations, in an under tone, on this unwonted occurrence.
“Can there be a funeral so late this afternoon?” inquired some.
They looked for the signs of death at every door—the sexton, the hearse, the assemblage of black-clad relatives—all that makes up the woeful pomp of funerals. They raised their eyes, also, to the sun-gilt spire of the church, and wondered that no clang proceeded from its bell, which had always tolled till now, when this figure appeared in the light of day. But none had heard that a corpse was to be borne to its home that afternoon, nor was there any token of a funeral, except the apparition of the “Old Maid in the Winding Sheet.”
“What may this portend?” asked each man of his neighbour.
All smiled as they put the question, yet with a certain trouble in their eyes, as if pestilence, or some other wide calamity, were prognosticated by the untimely intrusion, among the living, of one whose presence had always been associated with death and woe. What a comet is to the earth, was that sad woman to the town. Still she moved on, while the hum of surprise was hushed at her approach, and the proud and the humble stood aside that her white garment might not wave against them. It was a long, loose robe, of spotless purity. Its wearer appeared very old, pale, emaciated, and feeble, yet glided onward, without the unsteady pace of extreme age.
At one point of her course, a little rosy boy burst forth from a door, and ran, with open arms, towards the ghostly woman, seeming to expect a kiss from her bloodless lips. She made a slight pause, fixing her eye upon him with an expression of no earthly sweetness, so that the child shivered and stood awe-struck, rather than affrighted, while the Old Maid passed on. Perhaps her garment might have been polluted, even by an infant’s touch; perhaps her kiss would have been death to the sweet boy, within the year.
“She is but a shadow!” whispered the superstitious. “The child put forth his arms, and could not grasp her robe!”
The wonder was increased, when the Old Maid passed beneath the porch of the deserted mansion, ascended the moss-covered steps, lifted the iron knocker, and gave three raps. The people could only conjecture, that some old remembrance, troubling her bewildered brain, had impelled the poor woman hither to visit the friends of her youth; all gone from their home, long since and for ever, unless their ghosts still haunted it—fit company for the “Old Maid in the Winding Sheet.” An elderly man approached the steps, and reverently uncovering his gray locks, essayed to explain the matter.
“None, Madam,” said he, “have dwelt in this house these fifteen years agone—no, not since the death of old Colonel Fenwicke, whose funeral you may have remembered to have followed.—His heirs, being ill agreed among themselves, have let the mansion-house go to ruin.”
The Old Maid looked slowly round, with a slight gesture of one hand, and a finger of the other upon her lip, appeared more shadow-like than ever, in the obscurity of the porch. But, again she lifted the hammer, and gave, this time, a single rap. Could it be, that a foot-step was now heard, coming down the staircase of the old mansion, which all conceived to have been so long untenanted? Slowly, feebly, yet heavily, like the pace of an aged and infirm person, the step approached, more distinct on every downward stair, till it reached the portal. The bar fell on the inside; the door was opened. One upward glance, towards the church-spire, whence the sunshine had just faded, was the last the people saw of the “Old Maid in the Winding Sheet.”
“Who undid the door?” asked many.
This question, owing to the depth of shadow beneath the porch, no one could satisfactorily answer. Two or three aged men, while protesting against an inference which might be drawn, affirmed that the person within was a negro, and bore a singular resemblance to old Caesar, formerly a slave in the house, but freed by death some thirty years before.
“Her summons has waked up a servant of the old family,” said one, half seriously.
“Let us wait here,” replied another. “More guests will knock at the door anon. But the gate of the grave-yard should be thrown open!”
Twilight had overspread the town, before the crowd began to separate, or the comments on this incident were exhausted. One after another was wending his way homeward, when a coach—no common spectacle in those days—drove slowly into the street. It was an old-fashioned equipage, hanging close to the ground, with arms on the pannels, a footman behind, and a grave, corpulent coachman, seated high in front, the whole giving an idea of solemn state and dignity. There was something awful in the heavy rumbling of the wheels. The coach rolled down the street, till, coming to the gateway of the deserted mansion, it drew up, and the footman sprang to the ground.
“Whose grand coach is this?” asked a very inquisitive body.
The footman made no reply, but ascended the steps of the old house, gave three raps with the iron hammer, and returned to open the coach-door. An old man, possessed of the heraldic lore so common in that day, examined the shield of arms on the pannel.
“Azure, lion’s head erased, between three flower de luces,” said he; then whispered the name of the family to whom these bearings belonged. The last inheritor of its honours was recently dead, after a long residence amid the splendour of the British court, where his birth and wealth had given him no mean station. “He left no child,” continued the herald, “and these arms, being in a lozenge, betoken that the coach appertains to his widow.”
Further disclosures, perhaps, might have been made, had not the speaker suddenly been struck dumb, by the stern eye of an ancient lady, who thrust forth her head from the coach, preparing to descend. As she emerged, the people saw that her dress was magnificent, and her figure dignified, in spite of age and infirmity—a stately ruin, but with a look, at once, of pride and wretchedness. Her strong and rigid features had an awe about them, unlike that of the white Old Maid, but as of something evil.
She passed up the steps, leaning on a gold-headed cane; the door swung open, as she ascended—and the light of a torch glittered on the embroidery of her dress, and gleamed on the pillars of the porch. After a momentary pause—a glance backwards—and then a desperate effort—she went in. The decypherer of the coat of arms had ventured up the lowest step, and shrinking back immediately, pale and tremulous, affirmed that the torch was held by the very image of old Caesar.
“But, such a hideous grin,” added he, “was never seen on the face of mortal man, black or white! It will haunt me till my dying day.”
Meantime the coach had wheeled round, with a prodigious clatter on the pavement, and rumbled up the street, disappearing in the twilight, while the ear still tracked its course. Scarcely was it gone, when the people began to question, whether the coach and attendants, the ancient lady, the spectre of old Caesar, and the Old Maid herself, were not all a strangely combined delusion with some dark purport in its mystery.
The whole town was astir, so that, instead of dispersing, the crowd continually increased, and stood gazing up at the windows of the mansion, now silvered by the brightening moon. The elders, glad to indulge the narrative propensity of age, told of the long faded splendour of the family, the entertainments they had given, and the guests, the greatest of the land, and even titled and noble ones from abroad, who had passed beneath that portal.
These graphic reminiscences seemed to call up the ghosts of those to whom they referred. So strong was the impression, on some of the more imaginative hearers, that two or three were seized with trembling fits, at one and the same moment, protesting that they had distinctly heard three other raps of the iron knocker.
“Impossible!” exclaimed others. “See! The moon shines beneath the porch, and shows every part of it, except in the narrow shade of that pillar. There is no one there!” “Did not the door open?” whispered one of these fanciful persons. “Didst thou see it, too?” said his companion, in a startled tone. But the general sentiment was opposed to the idea, that a third visitant had made application at the door of the deserted house. A few, however, adhered to this new marvel, and even declared that a red gleam, like that of a torch, had shone through the great front window, as if the negro were lighting a guest up the staircase. This, too, was pronounced a mere fantasy. But, at once, the whole multitude started, and each man beheld his own terror painted in the faces of all the rest. ‘‘What an awful thing is this!” cried they.
A shriek, too fearfully distinct for doubt, had been heard within the mansion, breaking forth suddenly, and succeeded by a deep stillness, as if a heart had burst in giving it utterance. The people knew not whether to fly from the very sight of the house, or to rush trembling in, and search out the strange mystery. Amid their confusion and affright, they were somewhat reassured by the appearance of their clergyman, a venerable patriarch, and equally a saint, who had taught them and their fathers the way to heaven, for more than the space of an ordinary lifetime.
He was a reverend figure, with long, white hair upon his shoulders, a white beard upon his breast, and a back so bent over his staff, that ho seemed to be looking downward, continually, as if to choose a proper grave for his weary frame. It was sometime before the good old man, being deaf and of impaired intellect, could be made to comprehend such portions of the affair as were comprehensible at all. But, when possessed of the facts, his energies assumed unexpected vigour.
“Verily,” said the old gentleman, “it will be fitting that I enter the mansion house of the worthy Colonel Fenwicke, lest any harm should have befallen that true Christian woman, whom ye call the ‘Old Maid in the Winding Sheet.’”
Behold, then, the venerable clergyman ascended the steps of the mansion, with a torch-bearer behind him. It was the elderly man who had spoken to the Old Maid, and the same who had afterwards explained the shield of arms, and recognised the features of the negro. Like their predecessors, they gave three raps with the iron hammer. “Old Caesar cometh not,” observed the priest. “Well I wot, he no longer doth service in this mansion.”
“Assuredly, then, it was something worse, in old Caesar’s likeness!” said the other adventurer.
“Be it as God wills,” answered the clergyman. “See! my strength, though it be much decayed, hath sufficient to open this heavy door. Let us enter, and pass up the staircase.”
Here occurred a singular exemplification of the dreamy state of a very old man’s mind. As they ascended the wide flight of stairs, the aged clergyman appeared to move with caution, occasionally standing aside and oftener bending his head as it were in salutation, thus practising all the gestures of one who makes his way through a throng. Reaching the head of the staircase, he looked around with sad and solemn benignity, laid aside his staff, bared his hoary locks, and was evidently on the point of commencing a prayer.
“Reverend sir,” said his attendant, who conceived this a very suitable prelude to their further search, “would it not be well that the people join with us in prayer?”
“Well-a-day!” cried the old gentleman, staring strangely around him. “Art thou here with me, and none other? Verily, past times were present to me, and I deemed that I was to make a funeral prayer, as many a time heretofore, from the head of this staircase. Of a truth, I saw the shades of many that are gone. Yea, I have prayed at their burials, one after another, and the ‘Old Maid in the Winding Sheet’ hath seen them to their graves!”
Being now more thoroughly awake to their present purpose, he took his staff, and struck forcibly on the floor, till there came an echo from each deserted chamber, but no menial, to answer their summons. They therefore walked along the passage, and again paused, opposite to the great front window, through which was seen the crowd, in the shadow and partial moonlight of the street beneath. On their right was the open door of a chamber, and a closed one on their left. The clergyman pointed his cane to the carved oak pannel of the latter.
“Within that chamber,” observed he, “a whole lifetime since, did I sit by the death-bed of a goodly young man, who, being now at the last gasp”—
Apparently, there was some powerful excitement in the ideas which had now flashed across his mind. He snatched the torch from his companion’s hand, and threw open the door with such sudden violence, that the flame was extinguished, leaving them no other light than the moonbeams which fell through two windows into the spacious chamber. It was sufficient to discover all that could be known.
In a high-backed, oaken arm chair, upright, with her hands clasped across her breast, and her head thrown back, sat the “Old Maid in the Winding Sheet.” The stately dame had fallen on her knees, with her forehead on the holy knees of the Old Maid, one hand upon the floor, and the other pressed convulsively against her heart. It clutched a lock of hair, once sable, now discoloured with a greenish mould. As the priest and layman advanced into the chamber, the Old Maid’s features assumed such a semblance of shifting expression, that they trusted to hear the whole mystery explained by a single word. But it was only the shadow of a tattered curtain, waving betwixt the dead face and the moonlight.
“Both dead!” said the venerable man. “Then who shall divulge the secret? Methinks it glimmers to-and-fro in my mind, like the light and shadow across the Old Maid’s face. And now, ‘tis gone!”

Buy the Best Ghost Stories today!

#BestGhostStories #HawthorneGhostStory

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Review of Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake

Mervyn Peake

The Gormenghast trilogy consist of the novels Titus Groan (1946), Gormenghast (1950), and Titus Alone (1959). These are not short stories but at times very Goth and scary. The Gormenghast series ended tragically with the death of Peake at the young age of 57 from Parkinson's disease.

Titus Groan is the name of the first novel in the series and its namesake character, although Peake measured out a long list of fascinating characters in the trilogy. While still a child, Titus succeeds to his rightful place on the throne of Gormenghast by becoming its 77th earl. Backstabbing and outright skullduggery ensue from the vivid characters scampering about Castle Gormenghast. The first novel was met with wide acclaim at its release. 

Gormenghast is the second book in the fantastic Gormenghast trilogy and my favorite of the three. In it, Mervyn Peake has managed to make the sprawling, never ending castle of gray and stone, one of the main characters. Yes, the moldering castle is most certainly a character. It is as large as a city and reminds one of Edgar Allan Poe's The Doomed City. Death is everywhere, lurking in dark corners and worn stairs and crumbling archways. Furtive and building horror sans blood and guts. As with the first book in the trilogy, Peake doesn't let up and cements his trilogy as one of the great Gothic texts of the twentieth century.

The final book in the trilogy was left uncompleted by Peake at his untimely death. As a result, it is disjointed and pales in comparison to the first two novels. In it Titus Groan meets characters outside of Ghormenghast in a rather modern age. For me, this was an unwelcome turn of events. I wanted Gormenghast to exist in its own time and space.

Other artists have paid homage to the books. Robert Smith and his band The Cure were heavily influenced by Gormenghast. "All Cats are Grey," "The Drowning Man," "Forever," and "In Your House" draw on Gormenghast and the ghastly doings that happen within it ever moldering walls. New Zealand progressive band Split Enz wrote "Titus" and "Stranger than Fiction" in homage to the series.

The songs are a must listen and the series is a must read!

#GormenghastReview #GormenghastTrilogy

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review of No Turning Back -- a Poetry Collection by Michael Katz

I interviewed Michael Katz in September in Hollywood, Florida. It was great to talk all things poetry and our love of the poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Katz is a successful attorney, but he doesn't let his profession get in the way of writing poetry (and for good measure).

No Turning Back is Katz's first collection of poetry, though one could hardly tell it after reading his little slices of life, many set in Montreal where he grew up. Perhaps the evocative title tugs at that common refrain "you can never go home."

Regardless, No Turning Back demonstrates that the poet's power lies in brevity. You will find no epic poetry inside the handsome hardback pages filled with artistic photos. Poetos is a good name for it. This is where a collection of poems and photos are compiled together. Katz told me he thought it was important to visualize poetry. Who can argue with his vision? Turning through the pages one sometimes wonders if the photos or associated poems came first.

In the end it matters not. Katz poetry is the essence of a short story melted down into its tight core of poetry. His whimsical pieces are "St. Viateur Bagel Factory," "Cavendish Mall," and "Time to Party." Some poems tell of events (like relatives arguing) instead of showing the emotion springing from these events. Hot bagels are described instead the effect on the person standing before the oven on a cold Montreal night. These are the whimsical pieces and at times there is no guesswork behind their meaning. Near the end of the collection is the welcome surprise of "Skidoo," which Bombardier, Inc should have emblazoned on the wall of its headquarter lobby in homage to its former snowmobile brand.

Michael Katz has a way of turning a poem on a dime as found in "Rain" and "Turning a Corner." His effusion in "So High the Sky" is my favorite and is a poetic accomplishment to be debated and discussed in university classrooms. It is dark and fully of never-ending mystery.

And that's where Katz shines--in his darker efforts. "Not," "Yellow Blanket," "Rain," "The Homeless Man," "Detritus," and "Bone" are presented to readers with dramatic effect. They hint at one thing and give you another. There is no escaping the versification. The darker efforts are in touch with nature in only the way a Montrealer can be and exist somewhere out of time. I hope for more of these haunting efforts in the future.

On reading No Turning Back one realizes Katz is a poet who just happens to practice law, not the other way around. If you are looking for a handsome poetry book for the holidays and one that evokes everything Montreal and the great province of Quebec, click here to buy No Turning Back.

#NoTurningBack #MichaelKatzPoet

Friday, November 24, 2017

20% Off Coupon to Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble takes 20% off site-wide via coupon code "GIVETHANKS" during its Black Friday Sale. Shipping adds $3.99, although orders of $25 or more bag free shipping. A best bet is Edgar Allan Poe Entire Stories and Poems Annotated. That is a scary Barnes & Noble coupon!

Review of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe

Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym White Giant

"But there arose in our pathway a shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men. And the hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow."
That is the fantastic ending to Edgar Allan Poe's only novel: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Is the human figure male or female? Does it mean ill will? Why is a giant white figure in the midst of the savages?

After editing Edgar Allan Poe's Short Stories Annotated, it gave me immense pleasure to read his only novel. Published in July of 1838 when Poe was only 29, the book follows the dark adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym who stows away in the cargo-hold of a whaling ship (the "Grampus") bound for the South Pole.

The novel has Poe's trademark horror and covers nearly every manner of ocean calamity. Pirates, cannibalism, a shipwreck, starvation, wild natives, sharks, and a ghost ship are present. Elements of Robinson Crusoe are here, yet that 1719 novel takes places mostly on an island. Given Arthur Gordon Pym's pace it may very well be deemed the first ocean thriller. Herman Melville appears to have drawn heavily on it when penning Moby Dick. In 1897 Jules Verne published a companion piece to The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket called An Arctic Mystery.

The band Ahab fashioned their third studio album The Giant with lyrics from Poe's Novel.

“Further South”
“Aeons Elapse”
“Deliverance (Shouting at the Dead)”
“Antarctica the Polymorphess”
“Fathoms Below”
“The Giant”
“Time’s Like Molten Lead”
“The Evening Star”

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

What Was It? by Fitz James O'Brien

Fitz James O’Brien

A number of Irish horror writers appear in my horror short story anthology The Best Horror Short Stories 1850-1849: A 6a66le Horror Anthology. Fitz James O’Brien was born in Cork, Ireland. His father was an attorney and O’Brien later attended Dublin University where Joseph Le Fanu published many of his stories in The Dublin University Magazine. O’Brien subsequently moved to the United States where well-known publications like the New York TimesVanity Fair, and Harper’s Magazine discovered his supernatural fiction.

He was also a poet and wrote a number of poems in the scary short story genre including “The Gory Gnome” and “The Demon of the Gibbet.” In 1853 his first short story, “The Two-Skulls,” possessed elements of horror.

The years 1858 and 1859 were watershed years for O’Brien’s fictional short stories in the horror and fantasy genres. His most popular was “The Diamond Lens” (1858), published in the Atlantic Monthly, which tells of a secret world found under a microscope. He also penned that same year “From Hand to Mouth,” which is a precursor to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) in surrealistic fiction. In 1859 the Atlantic Monthly also printed O’Brien’s “The Wondersmith” where dolls are brought to life in a macabre fashion.

That same year is when O’Brien published one of the best horror stories for the last half of the nineteenth century in “What Was it? A Mystery.” Apart from ghost stories, “What Was It?” employs the first use of invisibility in a horror story and perhaps the first in fiction. Invisibility would be used in the stories of many great authors.

In 1881 Bram Stoker published “The Invisible Giant.” “What Was it?” also influenced Guy de Maupassant’s “Le Horla” (1886) and H. G. Wells’s The Invisible Man (1897), the popular author of the next story.

“What Was It?” shows that the power of the unseen can be the most frightening of all. It is the second oldest story in this collection and plays its part in the annals of monster horror.

The story was a smashing success. As one editor put it, “Would you believe me, such an impression did this story make upon the American public, that inside of six week’s (sic) time, (20,000) twenty thousand letters came to the Harpers’ (sic) office, full of queries and requests for further news.”  It is set in New York on Twenty-sixth Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.


IT IS I confess, with considerable diffidence that I approach the strange narrative which I am about to relate. The events which I purpose detailing are of so extraordinary and unheard-of a character that I am quite prepared to meet with an unusual amount of incredulity and scorn. I accept all such beforehand. I have, I trust, the literary courage to face unbelief. I have, after mature consideration, resolved to narrate, in as simple and straightforward a manner as I can compass, some facts that passed under my observation in the month of July last, and which, in the annals of the mysteries of physical science, are wholly unparalleled.

I live at No. — Twenty-sixth Street, in this city. The house is in some respects a curious one. It has enjoyed for the last two years the reputation of being haunted. It is a large and stately residence, surrounded by what was once a garden, but which is now only a green enclosure used for bleaching clothes. The dry basin of what has been a fountain, and a few fruit-trees, ragged and unpruned, indicate that this spot, in past days, was a pleasant, shady retreat, filled with fruits and flowers and the sweet murmur of waters.

The house is very spacious. A hall of noble size leads to a vast spiral staircase winding through its center, while the various apartments are of imposing dimensions. It was built some fifteen or twenty years since by Mr. A — the well-known New York merchant, who five years ago threw the commercial world into convulsions by a stupendous bank fraud. Mr. A — as everyone knows, escaped to Europe, and died not long after of a broken heart. Almost immediately after the news of his decease reached this country, and was verified, the report spread in Twenty-sixth Street that No. —— was haunted. Legal measures had dispossessed the widow of its former owner, and it was inhabited merely by a care taker and his wife, placed there by the house agent into whose hands it had passed for purposes of renting or sale. These people declared that they were troubled with unnatural noises.

Doors were opened without any visible agency. The remnants of furniture scattered through the various rooms were, during the night, piled one upon the other by unknown hands. Invisible feet passed up and down the stairs in broad daylight, accompanied by the rustle of unseen silk dresses, and the gliding of viewless hands along the massive balusters. The caretaker and his wife declared that they would live there no longer. The house agent laughed, dismissed them, and put others in their place. The noises and supernatural manifestations continued. The neighborhood caught up the story, and the house remained untenanted for three years. Several persons negotiated for it; but somehow, always before the bargain was closed, they heard the unpleasant rumors, and declined to treat any further.

It was in this state of things that my landlady—who at that time kept a boardinghouse in Bleecker Street, and who wished to move farther up town—conceived the bold idea of renting No. —— Twenty-sixth Street. Happening to have in her house rather a plucky and philosophical set of boarders, she laid down her scheme before us, stating candidly everything she had heard respecting the ghostly qualities of the establishment to which she wished to remove us. With the exception of two timid persons—a sea captain and a returned Californian, who immediately gave notice that they would leave—all of Mrs. Moffat’s guests declared that they would accompany her in her chivalric incursion into the abode of spirits.

Our removal was effected in the month of May, and we were all charmed with our new residence. The portion of Twenty-sixth Street where our house is situated—between Seventh and Eighth Avenues—is one of the pleasantest localities in New York. The gardens back of the houses, running down nearly to the Hudson, form, in the summer time, a perfect avenue of verdure. The air is pure and invigorating, sweeping, as it does, straight across the river from the Weehawken heights, and even the ragged garden which surrounded the house on two sides, although displaying on washing days rather too much clothesline, still gave us a piece of greensward to look at, and a cool retreat in the summer evenings, where we smoked our cigars in the dusk, and watched the fireflies flashing their dark-lanterns in the long grass.

Of course we had no sooner established ourselves at No. —— than we began to expect the ghosts. We absolutely awaited their advent with eagerness. Our dinner conversation was supernatural. One of the boarders, who had purchased Mrs. Crowe’s Night Side of Nature  for his own private delectation, was regarded as a public enemy by the entire household for not having bought twenty copies. The man led a life of supreme wretchedness while he was reading this volume. A system of espionage was established, of which he was the victim. If he incautiously laid the book down for an instant and left the room, it was immediately seized and read aloud in secret places to a select few.
I found myself a person of immense importance, it having leaked out that I was tolerably well versed in the history of supernaturalism, and had once written a story, entitled “The Pot of Tulips,” for Harper’s Monthly,  the foundation of which was a ghost. If a table or a wainscot panel happened to warp when we were assembled in the large drawing-room, there was an instant silence, and everyone was prepared for an immediate clanking of chains and a spectral form.

After a month of psychological excitement, it was with the utmost dissatisfaction that we were forced to acknowledge that nothing in the remotest degree approaching the supernatural had manifested itself. Once the black butler asseverated that his candle had been blown out by some invisible agency while he was undressing himself for the night; but as I had more than once discovered this colored gentleman in a condition when one candle must have appeared to him like two, I thought it possible that, by going a step farther in his potations, he might have reversed his phenomenon, and seen no candle at all where he ought to have beheld one.

Things were in this state when an incident took place so awful and inexplicable in its character that my reason fairly reels at the bare memory of the occurrence. It was the tenth of July. After dinner was over I repaired with my friend, Dr. Hammond, to the garden to smoke my evening pipe. The Doctor and myself found ourselves in an unusually metaphysical mood. We lit our large meerschaums,  filled with fine Turkish tobacco; we paced to and fro, conversing.

A strange perversity dominated the currents of our thought. They would not flow through the sunlit channels into which we strove to divert them. For some unaccountable reason they constantly diverged into dark and lonesome beds, where a continual gloom brooded. It was in vain that, after our old fashion, we flung ourselves on the shores of the East, and talked of its gay bazaars, of the splendors of the time of Haroun,  of harems and golden palaces. Black afreets  continually arose from the depths of our talk, and expanded, like the one the fisherman released from the copper vessel,  until they blotted everything bright from our vision.

Insensibly, we yielded to the occult force that swayed us, and indulged in gloomy speculation. We had talked some time upon the proneness of the human mind to mysticism, and the almost universal love of the Terrible, when Hammond suddenly said to me, “What do you consider to be the greatest element of Terror?”

The question, I own, puzzled me. That many things were terrible, I knew. Stumbling over a corpse in the dark; beholding, as I once did, a woman floating down a deep and rapid river, with wildly lifted arms, and awful, upturned face, uttering, as she sank, shrieks that rent one’s heart, while we, the spectators, stood frozen at a window which overhung the river at a height of sixty feet, unable to make the slightest effort to save her, but dumbly watching her last supreme agony and her disappearance. A shattered wreck, with no life visible, encountered floating listlessly on the ocean, is a terrible object, for it suggests a huge terror, the proportions of which are veiled. But it now struck me for the first time that there must be one great and ruling embodiment of fear, a King of Terrors to which all others must succumb. What might it be? To what train of circumstances would it owe its existence?

“I confess, Hammond,” I replied to my friend, “I never considered the subject before. That there must be one Something more terrible than any other thing, I feel. I cannot attempt, however, even the most vague definition.”

“I am somewhat like you, Harry,” he answered. “I feel my capacity to experience a terror greater than anything yet conceived by the human mind—something combining in fearful and unnatural amalgamation hitherto supposed incompatible elements. The calling of the voices in Brockden Brown’s novel of Wieland  is awful; so is the picture of the Dweller of the Threshold, in Bulwer’s Zanoni;  but,” he added, shaking his head gloomily, “there is something more horrible still than these.”

“Look here, Hammond,” I rejoined, “let us drop this kind of talk, for Heaven’s sake!”

“I don’t know what’s the matter with me tonight,” he replied, “but my brain is running upon all sorts of weird and awful thoughts. I feel as if I could write a story like Hoffman  tonight, if I were only master of a literary style.”

“Well, if we are going to be Hoffmanesque in our talk, I’m off to bed. How sultry it is! Goodnight, Hammond.”

“Goodnight, Harry. Pleasant dreams to you.”

“To you, gloomy wretch, afreets, ghouls, and enchanters.”
We parted, and each sought his respective chamber. I undressed quickly and got into bed, taking with me, according to my usual custom, a book, over which I generally read myself to sleep. I opened the volume as soon as I had laid my head upon the pillow, and instantly flung it to the other side of the room. It was Goudon’s History of Monsters —a curious French work, which I had lately imported from Paris, but which, in the state of mind I had then reached, was anything but an agreeable companion. I resolved to go to sleep at once; so, turning down my gas until nothing but a little blue point of light glimmered on the top of the tube, I composed myself to rest.

The room was in total darkness. The atom of gas that still remained lighted did not illuminate a distance of three inches round the burner. I desperately drew my arm across my eyes, as if to shut out even the darkness, and tried to think of nothing. It was in vain. The confounded themes touched on by Hammond in the garden kept obtruding themselves on my brain. I battled against them. I erected ramparts of would-be blankness of intellect to keep them out. They still crowded upon me. While I was lying still as a corpse, hoping that by a perfect physical inaction I should hasten mental repose, an awful incident occurred. A Something dropped, as it seemed, from the ceiling, plumb upon my chest, and the next instant I felt two bony hands encircling my throat, endeavoring to choke me.
I am no coward, and am possessed of considerable physical strength. The suddenness of the attack, instead of stunning me, strung every nerve to its highest tension. My body acted from instinct, before my brain had time to realize the terrors of my position. In an instant I wound two muscular arms around the creature, and squeezed it, with all the strength of despair, against my chest. In a few seconds the bony hands that had fastened on my throat loosened their hold, and I was free to breathe once more. Then commenced a struggle of awful intensity.

Immersed in the most profound darkness, totally ignorant of the nature of the Thing by which I was so suddenly attacked, finding my grasp slipping every moment, by reason, it seemed to me, of the entire nakedness of my assailant, bitten with sharp teeth in the shoulder, neck, and chest, having every moment to protect my throat against a pair of sinewy, agile hands, which my utmost efforts could not confine—these were a combination of circumstances to combat which required all the strength and skill and courage that I possessed.

At last, after a silent, deadly, exhausting struggle, I got my assailant under by a series of incredible efforts of strength. Once pinned, with my knee on what I made out to be its chest, I knew that I was victor. I rested for a moment to breathe. I heard the creature beneath me panting in the darkness, and felt the violent throbbing of a heart. It was apparently as exhausted as I was; that was one comfort. At this moment I remembered that I usually placed under my pillow, before going to bed, a large yellow silk pocket handkerchief, for use during the night. I felt for it instantly; it was there. In a few seconds more I had, after a fashion, pinioned the creature’s arms.

I now felt tolerably secure. There was nothing more to be done but to turn on the gas, and, having first seen what my midnight assailant was like, arouse the household. I will confess to being actuated by a certain pride in not giving the alarm before; I wished to make the capture alone and unaided.
Never losing my hold for an instant, I slipped from the bed to the floor, dragging my captive with me. I had but a few steps to make to reach the gas-burner; these I made with the greatest caution, holding the creature in a grip like a vice. At last I got within arm’s-length of the tiny speck of blue light which told me where the gas-burner lay. Quick as lightning I released my grasp with one hand and let on the full flood of light. Then I turned to look at my captive.

I cannot even attempt to give any definition of my sensations the instant after I turned on the gas. I suppose I must have shrieked with terror, for in less than a minute afterward my room was crowded with the inmates of the house. I shudder now as I think of that awful moment. I saw nothing! Yes; I had one arm firmly clasped round a breathing, panting, corporeal shape, my other hand gripped with all its strength a throat as warm, and apparently fleshly, as my own; and yet, with this living substance in my grasp, with its body pressed against my own, and all in the bright glare of a large jet of gas, I absolutely beheld nothing! Not even an outline—a vapor!

I do not, even at this hour, realize the situation in which I found myself. I cannot recall the astounding incident thoroughly. Imagination in vain tries to compass the awful paradox.
It breathed. I felt its warm breath upon my cheek. It struggled fiercely. It had hands. They clutched me. Its skin was smooth, like my own. There it lay, pressed close up against me, solid as stone—and yet utterly invisible!

I wonder that I did not faint or go mad on the instant. Some wonderful instinct must have sustained me; for, absolutely, in place of loosening my hold on the terrible Enigma, I seemed to gain an additional strength in my moment of horror, and tightened my grasp with such wonderful force that I felt the creature shivering with agony.

Just then Hammond entered my room at the head of the household. As soon as he beheld my face—which, I suppose, must have been an awful sight to look at—he hastened forward, crying, “Great heaven, Harry! what has happened?”

“Hammond! Hammond!” I cried, “come here. Oh! this is awful! I have been attacked in bed by something or other, which I have hold of; but I can’t see it—I can’t see it!”

Hammond, doubtless struck by the unfeigned horror expressed in my countenance, made one or two steps forward with an anxious yet puzzled expression. A very audible titter burst from the remainder of my visitors. This suppressed laughter made me furious. To laugh at a human being in my position! It was the worst species of cruelty. Now, I can understand why the appearance of a man struggling violently, as it would seem, with an airy nothing, and calling for assistance against a vision, should have appeared ludicrous. Then, so great was my rage against the mocking crowd that had I the power I would have stricken them dead where they stood.

“Hammond! Hammond!” I cried again, despairingly, “for God’s sake come to me. I can hold the—the Thing but a short while longer. It is overpowering me. Help me! Help me!”

“Harry,” whispered Hammond, approaching me, “you have been smoking too much.”

“I swear to you, Hammond, that this is no vision,” I answered, in the same low tone. “Don’t you see how it shakes my whole frame with its struggles? If you don’t believe me, convince yourself. Feel it—touch it.”

Hammond advanced and laid his hand on the spot I indicated. A wild cry of horror burst from him. He had felt it!

In a moment he had discovered somewhere in my room a long piece of cord, and was the next instant winding it and knotting it about the body of the unseen being that I clasped in my arms.

“Harry,” he said, in a hoarse, agitated voice, for, though he preserved his presence of mind, he was deeply moved, “Harry, it’s all safe now. You may let go, old fellow, if you’re tired. The Thing can’t move.”

I was utterly exhausted, and I gladly loosed my hold.

Hammond stood holding the ends of the cord that bound the Invisible, twisted round his hand, while before him, self-supporting as it were, he beheld a rope laced and interlaced, and stretching tightly round a vacant space. I never saw a man look so thoroughly stricken with awe. Nevertheless his face expressed all the courage and determination which I knew him to possess. His lips, although white, were set firmly, and one could perceive at a glance that, although stricken with fear, he was not daunted.

The confusion that ensued among the guests of the house who were witnesses of this extraordinary scene between Hammond and myself—who beheld the pantomime of binding this struggling Something—who beheld me almost sinking from physical exhaustion when my task of jailer was over—the confusion and terror that took possession of the bystanders, when they saw all this, was beyond description. The weaker ones fled from the apartment. The few who remained clustered near the door, and could not be induced to approach Hammond and his Charge. Still incredulity broke out through their terror.

They had not the courage to satisfy themselves, and yet they doubted. It was in vain that I begged of some of the men to come near and convince themselves by touch of the existence in that room of a living being which was invisible. They were incredulous, but did not dare to undeceive themselves. How could a solid, living, breathing body be invisible, they asked. My reply was this. I gave a sign to Hammond, and both of us—conquering our fearful repugnance to touch the invisible creature—lifted it from the ground, manacled as it was, and took it to my bed. Its weight was about that of a boy of fourteen.

“Now, my friends,” I said, as Hammond and myself held the creature suspended over the bed, “I can give you self-evident proof that here is a solid, ponderable body which, nevertheless, you cannot see.
Be good enough to watch the surface of the bed attentively.”

I was astonished at my own courage in treating this strange event so calmly; but I had recovered from my first terror, and felt a sort of scientific pride in the affair which dominated every other feeling.
The eyes of the bystanders were immediately fixed on my bed. At a given signal Hammond and I let the creature fall. There was the dull sound of a heavy body alighting on a soft mass. The timbers of the bed creaked. A deep impression marked itself distinctly on the pillow, and on the bed itself. The crowd who witnessed this gave a sort of low, universal cry, and rushed from the room. Hammond and I were left alone with our Mystery.

We remained silent for some time, listening to the low, irregular breathing of the creature on the bed, and watching the rustle of the bedclothes as it impotently struggled to free itself from confinement. Then Hammond spoke.

“Harry, this is awful.”

“Aye, awful.”

“But not unaccountable.”

“Not unaccountable! What do you mean? Such a thing has never occurred since the birth of the world. I know not what to think, Hammond. God grant that I am not mad, and that this is not an insane fantasy!”

“Let us reason a little, Harry. Here is a solid body which we touch, but which we cannot see. The fact is so unusual that it strikes us with terror. Is there no parallel, though, for such a phenomenon? Take a piece of pure glass. It is tangible and transparent. A certain chemical coarseness is all that prevents its being so entirely transparent as to be totally invisible. It is not theoretically impossible, mind you, to make a glass which shall not reflect a single ray of light—a glass so pure and homogeneous in its atoms that the rays from the sun shall pass through it as they do through the air, refracted but not reflected. We do not see the air, and yet we feel it.”

“That’s all very well, Hammond, but these are inanimate substances. Glass does not breathe, air does not breathe. This thing has a heart that palpitates—a will that moves it—lungs that play, and inspire and respire.”

“You forget the strange phenomena of which we have so often heard of late,” answered the Doctor, gravely. “At the meetings called ‘spirit circles,’ invisible hands have been thrust into the hands of those persons round the table—warm, fleshly hands that seemed to pulsate with mortal life.”
“What? Do you think, then, that this thing is—”

“I don’t know what it is,” was the solemn reply; “but please the gods I will, with your assistance, thoroughly investigate it.”

We watched together, smoking many pipes, all night long, by the bedside of the unearthly being that tossed and panted until it was apparently wearied out. Then we learned by the low, regular breathing that it slept.

The next morning the house was all astir. The boarders congregated on the landing outside my room, and Hammond and myself were lions. We had to answer a thousand questions as to the state of our extraordinary prisoner, for as yet not one person in the house except ourselves could be induced to set foot in the apartment.

The creature was awake. This was evidenced by the convulsive manner in which the bedclothes were moved in its efforts to escape. There was something truly terrible in beholding, as it were, those secondhand indications of the terrible writhings and agonized struggles for liberty which themselves were invisible.

Hammond and myself had racked our brains during the long night to discover some means by which we might realize the shape and general appearance of the Enigma. As well as we could make out by passing our hands over the creature’s form, its outlines and lineaments were human. There was a mouth; a round, smooth head without hair; a nose, which, however, was little elevated above the cheeks; and its hands and feet felt like those of a boy. At first we thought of placing the being on a smooth surface and tracing its outline with chalk, as shoemakers trace the outline of the foot. This plan was given up as being of no value. Such an outline would give not the slightest idea of its conformation.

A happy thought struck me. We would take a cast of it in plaster of Paris. This would give us the solid figure, and satisfy all our wishes. But how to do it? The movements of the creature would disturb the setting of the plastic covering, and distort the mold. Another thought. Why not give it chloroform?  It had respiratory organs—that was evident by its breathing. Once reduced to a state of insensibility, we could do with it what we would. Doctor X—— was sent for; and after the worthy physician had recovered from the first shock of amazement, he proceeded to administer the chloroform.

In three minutes afterward we were enabled to remove the fetters from the creature’s body, and a well-known modeler of this city was busily engaged in covering the invisible form with the moist clay. In five minutes more we had a mold, and before evening a rough facsimile of the mystery. It was shaped like a man—distorted, uncouth, and horrible, but still a man. It was small, not over four feet and some inches in height, and its limbs revealed a muscular development that was unparalleled. Its face surpassed in hideousness anything I had ever seen.

Gustave Doré,  or Callot,  or Tony Johannot,  never conceived anything so horrible. There is a face in one of the latter’s illustrations to “Un Voyage où il vous plaira,”  which somewhat approaches the countenance of this creature, but does not equal it. It was the physiognomy of what I should have fancied a ghoul to be. It looked as if it was capable of feeding on human flesh.

Having satisfied our curiosity, and bound everyone in the house to secrecy, it became a question what was to be done with our Enigma. It was impossible that we should keep such a horror in our house; it was equally impossible that such an awful being should be let loose upon the world. I confess that I would have gladly voted for the creature’s destruction. But who would shoulder the responsibility? Who would undertake the execution of this horrible semblance of a human being? Day after day this question was deliberated gravely. The boarders all left the house. Mrs. Moffat was in despair, and threatened Hammond and myself with all sorts of legal penalties if we did not remove the Horror. Our answer was, “We will go if you like, but we decline taking this creature with us. Remove it yourself if you please. It appeared in your house. On you the responsibility rests.”

To this there was, of course, no answer. Mrs. Moffat could not obtain for love or money a person who would even approach the Mystery.

The most singular part of the transaction was that we were entirely ignorant of what the creature habitually fed on. Everything in the way of nutriment that we could think of was placed before it, but was never touched. It was awful to stand by, day after day, and see the clothes toss, and hear the hard breathing, and know that it was starving.

Ten, twelve days, a fortnight passed, and it still lived. The pulsations of the heart, however, were daily growing fainter, and had now nearly ceased altogether. It was evident that the creature was dying for want of sustenance. While this terrible life struggle was going on, I felt miserable. I could not sleep of nights. Horrible as the creature was, it was pitiful to think of the pangs it was suffering.
At last it died. Hammond and I found it cold and stiff one morning in the bed. The heart had ceased to beat, the lungs to inspire. We hastened to bury it in the garden. It was a strange funeral, the dropping of that viewless corpse into the damp hole. The cast of its form I gave to Dr. X — who keeps it in his museum in Tenth Street.

As I am on the eve of a long journey from which I may not return, I have drawn up this narrative of an event the most singular that has ever come to my knowledge.

NOTE. —It was rumored that the proprietors of a well-known museum in this city had made arrangements with Dr. X—— to exhibit to the public the singular cast which Mr. Escott deposited with him. So extraordinary a history cannot fail to attract universal attention.

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