“The Man Who Went Too Far” by E.F. Benson

Summer Vacation:
A monster story and a philosophical story about summertime, communion with the natural world, spiritual youth, the inescapable horror of death, and the inescapable horror of life.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Man Who Went Too Far”

E.F. Benson

The little village of St. Faith’s nestles in a hollow of wooded till up on the north bank of the river Fawn in the country of Hampshire, huddling close round its grey Norman church as if for spiritual protection against the fays and fairies, the trolls and “little people,” who might be supposed still to linger in the vast empty spaces of the New Forest, and to come after dusk and do their doubtful businesses. Once outside the hamlet you may walk in any direction (so long as you avoid the high road which leads to Brockenhurst) for the length of a summer afternoon without seeing sign of human habitation, or possibly even catching sight of another human being. Continue reading

“My Castles in Spain” by George William Curtis

This says everything that ever needed to be said.
-The Voice before the Void

“My Castles in Spain”

from Prue and I

George William Curtis

adapted by anonymous for The Ontario Readers: Fourth Book

I am the owner of great estates. Many of them lie in the west, but the greater part in Spain.

You may see my western possessions any evening at sunset when their spires and battlements flash against the horizon. But my finest castles are in Spain. It is a country famously romantic, and my castles are all of perfect proportions and appropriately set in the most picturesque situations.

I have never been in Spain myself, but I have naturally conversed much with travellers to that country; although, I must allow, without deriving from them much substantial information about my property there. Continue reading

“The Ash-tree” by M.R. James, with Digressions

Walpurgisnacht:
Vernal weird horror.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Ash-tree”

M.R. James

Everyone who has travelled over Eastern England knows the smaller country-houses with which it is studded—the rather dank little buildings, usually in the Italian style, surrounded with parks of some eighty to a hundred acres. For me they have always had a very strong attraction, with the grey paling of split oak, the noble trees, the meres with their reed-beds, and the line of distant woods. Then, I like the pillared portico—perhaps stuck on to a red-brick Queen Anne house which has been faced with stucco to bring it into line with the ‘Grecian’ taste of the end of the eighteenth century; the hall inside, going up to the roof, which hall ought always to be provided with a gallery and a small organ. I like the library, too, where you may find anything from a Psalter of the thirteenth century to a Shakespeare quarto. I like the pictures, of course; and perhaps most of all I like fancying what life in such a house was when it was first built, and in the piping times of landlords’ prosperity, and not least now, when, if money is not so plentiful, taste is more varied and life quite as interesting. I wish to have one of these houses, and enough money to keep it together and entertain my friends in it modestly.

But this is a digression. I have to tell you of a curious series of events which happened in such a house as I have tried to describe. Continue reading

“Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident” from Wikipedia

Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler Incident Anniversary:
War is a crime and war stories are horrific, but any story of mercy is a great story; any story that humanizes an enemy is a great story; and any story of friendship is a great story. This story is triply great.
-The Voice before the Void

“Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident”

Wikipedia

The Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident occurred on the 20th of December, 1943, when, after a successful bomb run on Bremen, 2nd Lt. Charles “Charlie” Brown’s B-17 Flying Fortress (named “Ye Olde Pub”) was severely damaged by German fighters. Luftwaffe ace Franz Stigler had the opportunity to shoot down the crippled bomber, but for humane reasons, he decided to allow the crew to fly back to England. After an extensive search by Brown, the two pilots met each other over 40 years later and developed a friendship that lasted until Stigler’s death in March 2008.

1. Pilots

2nd Lt. Charles L. “Charlie” Brown (“a farm boy from Weston, West Virginia,” in his own words) was a B-17F pilot with the 379th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces’ 8th Air Force, stationed at RAF Kimbolton in England. Franz Stigler, a former airline pilot from Bavaria, was a veteran Luftwaffe fighter pilot attached to Jagdgeschwader 27; at the time, he had 22 aerial victories to his name and would be eligible for the coveted Knight’s Cross with one more downed enemy bomber. Continue reading

“Gavon’s Eve” by E.F. Benson

Halloween:
Legend and mystery and scandal, a witch and a ghost, and a blasphemous ritual in a castle ruin in the autumnal midnight.
-The Voice before the Void

“Gavon’s Eve”

E.F. Benson

It is only the largest kind of ordnance map that records the existence of the village of Gavon, in the shire of Sutherland, and it is perhaps surprising that any map on whatever scale should mark so small and huddled a group of huts, set on a bare, bleak headland between moor and sea, and, so one would have thought, of no import at all to any who did not happen to live there. But the river Gavon, on the right bank of which stand this half-dozen of chimneyless and wind-swept habitations, is a geographical fact of far greater interest to outsiders, Continue reading

The Ball in the Basement, and The Radio in the Dark

Halloween:
We were drinking Cuba Libres and telling stories.
-The Voice before the Void

The Ball in the Basement, and The Radio in the Dark

Alsazzi Terrato and The Voice before the Void

“The Dead Valley” by Ralph Adams Cram

Halloween:
All the more creepy to think this based upon some obscure forgotten folklore.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Dead Valley”

from Black Spirits and White

Ralph Adams Cram

I have a friend, Olof Ehrensvärd, a Swede by birth, who yet, by reason of a strange and melancholy mischance of his early boyhood, has thrown his lot with that of the New World. It is a curious story of a headstrong boy and a proud and relentless family: the details do not matter here, but they are sufficient to weave a web of romance around the tall yellow-bearded man with the sad eyes and the voice that gives itself perfectly to plaintive little Swedish songs remembered out of childhood. In the winter evenings we play chess together, he and I, and after some close, fierce battle has been fought to a finish—usually with my own defeat—we fill our pipes again, and Ehrensvärd tells me stories of the far, half-remembered days in the fatherland, before he went to sea: stories that grow very strange and incredible as the night deepens and the fire falls together, but stories that, nevertheless, I fully believe. Continue reading

“The Room in the Tower” by E.F. Benson

Halloween:
A cold reading of what has instantly become a new favorite Halloween story.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Room in the Tower”

E.F. Benson

It is probable that everybody who is at all a constant dreamer has had at least one experience of an event or a sequence of circumstances which have come to his mind in sleep being subsequently realized in the material world. Continue reading

Lights in the North Dakota Night Sky

We were sitting around the kitchen table, telling stories.
-The Voice before the Void

Lights in the North Dakota Night Sky

The Voice before the Void

“Bothon” by Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft, part 5

A view of the end.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bothon”

Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft

part 5

“We depart straight this night, for the great mountains of A-Wah-Ii,” answered Bothon, “if so be the four great forces allow us possession of a war chariot. And, to that end, your ring, my beloved.”

The Lady Ledda nodded again, understandingly, and removed from the middle finger of her right hand the ring of the two suns and the eight-pointed star which, as a member of the Royal Family, she was entitled to wear. Bothon received it, and slipped it upon the little finger of his right hand.

The sentinel on guard before the barracks Continue reading

“Bothon” by Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft, part 4

Pulpy goodness.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bothon”

Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft

part 4

In ten minutes the house nurse fetched in a small tray. On it was a tumbler, a mixing spoon, and a freshly put up eight-ounce bottle containing a reddish colored, pleasant tasting syrup.

Twenty minutes later, Meredith, who had compromised on three teaspoons, was deeply asleep on his bed; and the General, Bothon, in the innermost dungeon chamber of the great citadel of Alu, was standing poised in the center of that dungeon’s smooth stone floor, tensed to leap in any direction; while all about him the rending crashes of thousands of tons of the riven and falling masonry of the citadel itself was deafening him against all other sounds except the incessant and indescribably thunderous fury of the now utterly maddened ocean. Continue reading

“Bothon” by Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft, part 3

Is “Recovered Ancient Memories” in the DSM-5?
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bothon”

Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft

part 3

Not only not within the memory of living men, but, as the records indicated, during its entire history over thousands of years as the metropolis of the civilized world, had there been any previous hostile manifestations against the great city of Alu. That anything like this terrible campaign which the renowned General Bothon of Ludekta set in motion against her might come to pass, had never even remotely occurred to anyone in Alu. So promptly did Bothon launch his attack that the tortured bodies of the members of his delegation to the Emperor had not yet ceased writhing on their row of crosses before he had penetrated, at the head of his trained legionaries, to a point within two squares of the Imperial Palace which stood at the center of the great city. Continue reading

“Bothon” by Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft, part 2

Into ancient Atlantis, with love and war.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bothon”

Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft

part 2

These dreams had been continuous and consecutive since their beginning several nights before, but on this night after the rather elaborate investigation of the words and syllables, Meredith began in earnest to get the affair of his environment in the strange city of the flames and conflicts and confusion and of a roaring ocean, cleared up with a startling abruptness. His dream impression that night was so utterly vivid–so acutely identical with the terms of the waking state–that he couldn’t tell the difference between his dream slumber and wakeful consciousness! Continue reading

“Bothon” by Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft, part 1

A weird pulp fiction fantasy adventure story of lost worlds and the Cthulhu Mythos.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Bothon”

Henry S. Whitehead with H.P. Lovecraft

part 1

Powers Meredith, at his shower-bath before dinner in the bathroom adjoining his room in his New York City club, allowed the cake of soap to drop on the tiled floor. Stooping to recover it he rapped the side of his head against the marble sidewall. The resulting bruise was painful, and almost at once puffed up into a noticeable lump….

Meredith dined in the grill that evening. Having no after-dinner engagement he went into the quiet library of the club, empty at this hour, and settled himself with a new book beside a softly-shaded reading lamp.

From time to time a slight, inadvertent pressure of his head against the chair’s leather upholstered back would remind him unpleasantly of his accident in the shower-bath. This, after it happened several times, became an annoyance, and Meredith shifted himself into a preventive attitude with his legs draped over one of the chair’s rounded arms.

No one else came into the library. Faint, clicking noises came in from the nearby billiard-room where a couple of men were playing, but, absorbed in his book, he did not notice these. The only perceptible sound was that of the gentle, steady rain outside. This, in the form of a soothing, continuous murmur, came through the partly-opened, high windows. He read on.

Precisely as he turned over the ninety-sixth page of his book, he heard a dull sound, like a very large explosion coming from a vast distance. Continue reading

“The Cult of the Monstrous Man-God” by The Voice before the Void

Easter Special:
True-to-life Lovecraftian horror. / Any good analogy seems obvious in retrospect. / “Well, why don’t you write a story that a few million people will love and a few hundred million people will hate?” – “I can do that.” / The Greatest Story Ever Told.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Cult of the Monstrous Man-God”

The Voice before the Void

“It is tonight, Larsen.”

Alexandrov was picking through coils of rope stacked on a shelf. With his right hand, he hoisted one coil off the shelf and upward into the florescent light glare from overhead, eyed it, then, pursing his lips in apparent satisfaction, stuffed the rope into the rucksack in his left hand.

“What, exactly, is tonight?”

Alexandrov’s summons to the clubhouse that morning had been peremptory and irrefusable; it was the culmination of many months of outlandish research and surreptitious inquiry.

“I have information – don’t ask me how I got it – of a secret ritual taking place this very night, Larsen. It is a ritual of a most bizarre and enshadowed cult.” Continue reading