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Category Archives: dark fiction

The Haunters of Autumn

 Oh how they cower in dark little places

Fear etches haunted looks on their faces

They scamper and scurry to avoid the light

Only come out to play under cover of night

Their eyes glow like candles flickering in wind

And the rustling of leaves is the sound of their skin

You cannot catch them for they’ve already fled

They cannot be killed for they’re already dead

You’ll hear them whisper from shadowy wood

As the Haunters of Autumn send chills through the blood

 

The airs of October carry their voices

Half-heard gigglings and other strange noises

A whisper behind you that drifts through the air

Tells you their presence is about you somewhere

What are these creatures that haunt the gloom

Mocking and stalking with portents of doom?

The woods are alive with their tittering taunts

You walk alone on one of your nightly jaunts

Hearing your shrieks over the darkening plane

As the Haunters of Autumn leave you cold and insane

My latest music composition went live today. It’s a new symphonic addition to the Cthulhu Mythos Music called:

The Madness of Cthulhu

photo

The following stories are the best short horror stories of all time – in my opinion, at least. After many of the stories there’s a number that corresponds to an anthology or collection that can be found at the bottom of the post. If there is no number, I found the story in the public domain:

 

The Death Wagon Rolls On By           Andersson, C. Dean           28

The Night Wire           Arnold, H. F.

The Dead and The Countess           Atherton, Gertrude

The Room in the Tower           Benson, E. F.

A Tough Tussle           Bierce, Ambrose

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge           Bierce, Ambrose

The Boarded Window           Bierce, Ambrose

The Damned Thing           Bierce, Ambrose

The Middle Toe of the Right Foor           Bierce, Ambrose

The Moonlit Road           Bierce, Ambrose

The Secret of Macarger’s Gulch           Bierce, Ambrose

The Suitable Surroundings           Bierce, Ambrose           20

Medusa’s Coil           Bishop, Zealia           34

The Curse of Yig           Bishop, Zealia           34

The Mound           Bishop, Zealia           34

First Hate           Blackwood, Algernon

Running Wolf           Blackwood, Algernon

The Wendigo           Blackwood, Algernon

The Willows           Blackwood, Algernon

The Ensouled Violin           Blavatsky, Helena

Fane of the Black Pharaoh           Bloch, Robert           23

Notebook Found in a Deserted House           Bloch, Robert           9

The Rubber Room           Bloch, Robert           5

The Shadow from the Steeple           Bloch, Robert           9

Curfew           Boston, L. M.           11

All Summer in a Day           Bradbury, Ray           12

Next in Line           Bradbury, Ray           13

Skeleton           Bradbury, Ray           13

The Jar           Bradbury, Ray           13

The Wind           Bradbury, Ray           13

Canavan’s Back Yard           Brennan, Joseph Payne           5

Bells of Oceana           Burks, Arthur J.           25

The Grave           Cacek, P. D.           30

The Chimney           Campbell, Ramsey           32

The Guide           Campbell, Ramsey           11

Among the Wolves           Case, David           32

The Limping Ghost           Chetwynd-Hayes, R.           11

Fishhead           Cobb, Irvin S.           7

Man Overboard!           Crawford, F. Marion

The Dead Smile           Crawford, F. Marion

The Screaming Skull           Crawford, F. Marion

The Horla           De Maupassant, Guy

The Terror           De Maupassant, Guy

Was It a Dream?           De Maupassant, Guy

Ithaqua           Derleth, August           23

The Peabody Heritage           Derleth, August           41

The Thing That Walked on the Wind           Derleth, August           23

The Oram County Whoosit           Duffy, Steve           39

Charon           Dunsany, Lord

The Entrance           Durrell, Gerald           6

A Rose for Emily           Faulkner, William

The Shadows on the Wall           Freeman, Mary Wilkins

The Mummy’s Foot           Gautier, Theophile

The Yellow Wallpaper           Gilman, Charlotte Perkins

Innsmouth Bane           Glasby, John           16

The Old One           Glasby, John           37

August Heat           Harvey, William F.

The Horror in the Burying-Ground           Heald, Hazel           34

The Horror in the Museum           Heald, Hazel           34

Out of the Aeons           Heald, Hazel           34

Winged Death           Heald, Hazel           34

How Love Came to Professor Guildea           Hichens, Robert

Keys and Locks and Open Doors           Hicks, Jane Wallis

A Voice in the Night           Hodgson, William Hope

Out of the Storm           Hodgson, William Hope

Dig Me No Grave           Howard, Robert E.           19

Recompense           Howard, Robert E.

The Callenge From Beyond           Howard, Robert E.; Lovecraft, H. P.; Long, Frank Belknap; Moore, C. L.; & Merritt, A.           19

The Hoofed Thing           Howard, Robert E.           19

The Thing on the Roof           Howard, Robert E.           19

Worms of the Earth           Howard, Robert E.           19

The Floor Above           Humphreys, M. L.           25

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow           Irving, Washington

Wolfert Webber, or Golden Dreams           Irving, Washington

The Sticks           Jacob, Charlee           28

The Aquarium           Jacobi, Carl           23

The Monkey’s Paw           Jacobs, W. W.

Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad           James, M. R.

The Ash Tree           James, M. R.

The Church at Garlock’s Bend           Kaufman, David           29

The Thing in the Cellar           Keller, David Henry

The Church Grim           Kincaid, Jack           24

Children of the Corn           King, Stephen           10

Graveyard Shift           King, Stephen           10

Gray Matter           King, Stephen           10

Jerusalem’s Lot           King, Stephen           10

One for the Road           King, Stephen           10

Sometimes They Come Back           King, Stephen           10

Suffer the Little Children           King, Stephen           20

The Man who Loved Flowers           King, Stephen           10

Bells of Horror           Kuttner, Henry           23

The Crawling Sky           Landsdale, Joe R.           39

Mad Dog Summer           Landsdale, Joe R.           30

Green Tea           Le Fanu, J. Sheridan

In Amundsen’s Tent           Leahy, John Martin           25

Where Does the Town Go at Night?           Lee, Tanith           16

A Madman           Level, Maurice

The Shadow, The Darkness           Ligotti, Thomas           30

At the Mountains of Madness           Lovecraft, H. P.           15

Cool Air           Lovecraft, H. P.           15

Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family           Lovecraft, H. P.

Herbert West – Reanimator           Lovecraft, H. P.

Imprisoned with the Pharaohs           Lovecraft, H. P.           15

Pickman’s Model           Lovecraft, H. P.           14

The Beast in the Cave           Lovecraft, H. P.

The Call of Cthulhu           Lovecraft, H. P.           14

The Colour Out of Space           Lovecraft, H. P.           14

The Haunter of the Dark           Lovecraft, H. P.           14

The Lurking Fear           Lovecraft, H. P.

The Rats in the Walls           Lovecraft, H. P.           14

The Shadow Out of Time           Lovecraft, H. P.           14

The Shadow over Innsmouth           Lovecraft, H. P.           14

Aunt Hester           Lumley, Brian           31

Cement Surroundings           Lumley, Brian           40

Fruiting Bodies           Lumley, Brian           32

Recognition           Lumley, Brian           40

The Fairground Horror           Lumley, Brian           39

The Diary of Alonzo Typer           Lumley, William           34

The Night Sea-Maid Went Down           Lumley, Brian           40

Discovery of the Ghooric Zone           Lupoff, Richard A.           9

Novel of the Black Seal           Machen, Arthur           25

Novel of the White Powder           Machen, Arthur           25

Remembering Melody           Martin, George R. R.           4

Crickets           Matheson, Richard           26

He Wanted to Live           Matheson, Richard           16

The Doom that Came to Innsmouth           McNaughton, Brian           39

The Yellow Dressing Gown           Monette, Sarah           33

The Ghost of the Capuchins           Montfort, Eugene           8

Orange is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity           Morrell, David           3

What Nature Abhors           Morris, Mark           38

The End of Wisdom           Myers, Gary           22

Major Prevue Here Tonite           Nolan, William F.           17

The Beckoning Fair One           Onions, Oliver

Berenice           Poe, Edgar Allan

The Black Cat           Poe, Edgar Allan

The Cask of Amontillado           Poe, Edgar Allan

The Fall of the House of Usher           Poe, Edgar Allan

The Man in the Crowd           Poe, Edgar Allan

The Narative of Arthur Gordon Pym           Poe, Edgar Allan

The Oval Portrait           Poe, Edgar Allan

The Tell-Tale Heart           Poe, Edgar Allan

The Disinterment           Rimel, Duane W.           34

The Spheres Beyond Sound (Threnody)           Rainey, Stephen Mark           29

The Last Reel           Rucker, Lynda E.           38

The Tale of Toad Loop           Sargent, Stanley           37

Ghasta, or The Avenging Demon!!!           Shelley, Percy Bysshe

The Double Shadow           Smith, Clark Ashton

Listen           Smith, James Robert           35

The Body Snatcher           Stevenson, Robert Louis

The Squaw           Stoker, Bram           2

Beyond the Door           Suter, Paul           25

Resettling           Tem, Steven Rasnic & Tem, Melanie           17

Spawn of the Green Abyss           Thompson, C. Hall           23

The Howler in the Dark           Tierney, Richard L.           27

Drums           Trotter, William R.           35

The Fare           Vail, Chris           22

Blind Man’s Bluff           Wakefield, H. R.           8

Along About Sundown           Wellman, Manly Wade           21

Goodman’s Place           Wellman, Manly Wade           21

Rock, Rock           Wellman, Manly Wade           21

The Pineys           Wellman, Manly Wade           21

The Country of the Blind           Wells, H. G.

The Tomb of the Old Ones           Wilson, Colin           36

The Barrens           Wilson, F. Paul           18

Moonlight Sonata           Woollcott, Alexander           1

1.  Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural

2.  The Colour Out of Space – Tales of Cosmic Horror

3.  Prime Evil

4.  Fears

5.  Gallery of Horror

6.  Visions of Fear

7.  The World’s Greatest Horror Stories

8.  Ghosts

9.  Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos

10.  Night Shift

11.  The World’s Greatest Ghost Stories

12.  A Medicine for Melancholy

13.  The October Country

14.  Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre

15.  The Road to Madness

16.  H.P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror – Vol 2

17.  Post Mortem – New Tales of Ghostly Horror

18.  Cthulhu 2000

19. Nameless Cults – The Cthulhu Mythos of Robert E. Howard

20.  Nightmares and Dreamscapes

21.  The Devil is Not Mocked and Other Warnings: The Selected Works of Manly Wade Wellman Vol. 2

22.  Strange Tales Issue No. 8

23. Tales of the Lovecraft Mythos

24. Insidious Reflections No. 6

25. H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Weird Tales

26.  Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

27.  The Howler in the Dark

28.  Cemetery Dance #57

29. The New Lovecraft Circle

30. 999

31. The Whisperer and Other Voices

32. The Mammoth Book of New Terror

33. Weird Tales March/April 2008

34. The Horror in the Museum

35. Song of Cthulhu

36. The Antarktos Cycle

37. The Tsathoggua Cycle

38. The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #18

39. The Book of Cthulhu

40. Haggopian and Other Stories

41. The Watchers Out of Time

Thanks to Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey at The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast for using music from Al Azif in Episode 114 – In The Walls of Eryx. As usual, they pulled off another entertaining episode. Sadly, they are coming to the end of Lovecraft’s body of weird tales with only two episodes left. They have mentioned that they will next be discussing weird tales that inspired Lovecraft, so I’m looking forward to that.

Thanks, Guys!

http://hppodcraft.com/2012/06/06/episode-114-in-the-walls-of-eryx/

The following are links to some good stuff on YouTube about Lovecraft (some serious, most funny):

A Lovecraft Dream

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC0Gqt8VRKk

The Elder Sign

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWT07iRvI9M

The Love Craft

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnbE8VGLnZw&feature=related

Fishmen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tTHn2tHhcI

Lovecraft Interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jQtkGJMtH0&feature=related

Awake Ye Scary Great Old Ones

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9gRtHX6c08&feature=related

 

Trying to define just what the genre of Horror Fiction encompasses is a rather difficult task.  The problem is that horror is based on the emotion of fear, and fear is a basic part of the human experience.  It would be akin to trying to lump all tales, stories, myths, and novels that have any element of anger in them under a genre called Mad Fiction.  The emotion of fear and elements of horror are an integral part of a good tale.  Even before the invention of the written word, tales involved elements of fear and horror.  One could very well imagine early man sitting around a campfire listening to a storyteller recount some myth or legend with everyone cringing at a part where the hero faced some horrifying event.  But over the years tales that were specifically designed to delve into the fears of humans have evolved into a complete genre of fiction.  Trying to classify all tales of horror into their well-organized sub-genres is a really difficult task and is most likely impossible.  However, I would like to try and throw out many of the sub-genres that are in existence and give an archetypical description of that sub-genre.

Dark Fiction is many times seen as a term that is synonymous with Horror.  Unfortunately, the term just hasn’t caught on as well as Horror and will probably never usurp the throne.  It sounds like a more dignified term but people are used to the word Horror.

Dark Fantasy sounds similar to Dark Fiction but it is usually used to describe Fantasy stories that are set in an ominous or dark atmosphere – sort of a merging of Fantasy with Horror.  When I think of Dark Fantasy I usually think of the Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock.  Elric’s world is a world of sword and sorcery but the tone of the tales are dark and horrific in nature.

Supernatural Horror is used to describe horror stories that host creatures that are classically considered to be supernatural creatures.  The typical list would include ghosts, spirits, demons, vampires, werewolves, and zombies.  There have also been many sub-genres sprung out of these specific creatures – most notably are Vampire Horror, Ghost Stories, and Zombie Horror.  Supernatural Horror doesn’t necessarily have to use creatures of myth and legend.  There are also Supernatural Horror stories where there is an unknown or unnamed presence or force that produces the supernatural element needed for the classification.  The Willows by Algernon Blackwood is a good example of a Supernatural Horror story that uses an unknown supernatural force to produce a quite effective sense of fear.  Stories about haunted places also fall under the canopy of supernatural.

Weird Tales and Weird Fiction are two terms popularized by the pulp magazine Weird Tales.  Although the magazine tried to publish stories that crossed many genres or couldn’t be categorized due to the fact that the tales were just too weird to fit a category, the terms have been hijacked by horror writers influenced by H.P. Lovecraft or who were influences to Lovecraft.  Other sub-genres that have evolved that are akin to Weird Tales are Lovecraftian Horror, Lovecraft Mythos, and Cthulhu Mythos.  These sub-genres are largely Lovecraft pastiches and/or writers who influenced or expounded on Lovecraft’s style or subject matter.  Incidentally, I haven’t seen the word pastiche used so much as in connection with H.P. Lovecraft.  I think it is a right of passage to write a Lovecraftian Horror pastiche at some point in a horror writer’s life.

Gothic Horror is another of the larger sub-genres of Horror Fiction.  Gothic Horror describes the formative styles of horror elements in eighteenth-century English literature.  Typically, the stories have oppressive, dark atmospheres and are set in large, brooding castles or locales.  It was this type of literature that influenced the early horror writers of the short story format in both England and the United States.  When I think of the quintessential Gothic Horror story I think of The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Alan Poe.

Dark Suspense and Thriller are two categories used to denote a sub-genre that is a mixture of Horror and Mystery in the former and Horror and Adventure in the later.  Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence stories are good examples of Dark Suspense and Robert E. Howard wrote many horror stories that have his typical flare for adventure in them.

Psychological Horror is used to denote horror that is designed to affect the reader by building tension and fear within the psyche.  Usually, this type of horror is more subtle in its presentation and doesn’t use external forces to explain the horror.  It is common for Psychological Horror to present an altered or warped sense of reality.  When I think of Psychological Horror the first short story that comes to mind is The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Contemporary Horror is the name given to the modern style of short horror writing that emerged around the 1960’s and 70’s.  This style of writing abandoned the Gothic Horror style and dispensed with verbosity of writing, ancient settings, and a reliance on subtler storytelling to achieve the intended effect on the reader.  Contemporary Horror typically uses modern settings and tends to be more graphic in nature.  Sub-genres that have emerged from Contemporary Horror are Erotic Horror, Noir, and Splatterpunk, which push the limits of what is acceptable in the mainstream by using blatantly graphic sex and violence and is usually set in an urban environment.

References:

http://horror.fictionfactor.com/articles/subgenre.html

http://web.utk.edu/~wrobinso/590_lec_horror.html