“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

“The Hoard of the Gibbelins” by Lord Dunsany

Walpurgisnacht:
Have a happy night.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Hoard of the Gibbelins”

Lord Dunsany

The Gibbelins eat, as is well known, nothing less good than man. Their evil tower is joined to Terra Cognita, to the lands we know, by a bridge. Their hoard is beyond reason; avarice has no use for it; they have a separate cellar for emeralds and a separate cellar for sapphires; they have filled a hole with gold and dig it up when they need it. And the only use that is known for their ridiculous wealth is to attract to their larder a continual supply of food. In times of famine they have even been known to scatter rubies abroad, a little trail of them to some city of Man, and sure enough their larders would soon be full again. Continue reading

“The Bird Woman” by Henry Spicer, with Discussion

Walpurgisnacht:
Reading horror stories in the night can, sometimes, be genuinely disturbing.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Bird Woman”

Henry Spicer

The events of this strange tale, though they actually occurred in England but a short while since, would scarcely be out of place in a book of German dreams and fancies.

The narrator, a girl of the servant class, but of rather superior education and manners, had called on the writer’s sister on the subject of a place to which she had been recommended, and in the course of conversation, related the following as a recent experience.

The advertisement, in which she had set forth her willingness to take charge of an invalid, infirm, or lunatic person, or to assume any office demanding unusual steadiness of nerve, was replied to by a lady whose letter was dated from a certain locality on the outskirts of a large commercial city, and who requested her attendance there at an appointed time.

The house proved to be a dingy, deserted-looking mansion, and was not rendered more cheerful by the fact that the adjoining tenements on either side were unoccupied. It wore altogether a haunted and sinister aspect, and the girl, as she rang the bell, was sensible of a kind of misgiving for which she could not account. A timid person might have hesitated. This girl possessed unusual firmness and courage, and, in spite of the presentiment we have mentioned, she determined, at all events, to see what she would be called on to encounter. 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

“Pigeons from Hell” by Robert E. Howard, with Discussion

Walpurgisnacht:
A popular piece of pulp fiction with one hell of an ending.
-The Voice before the Void

“Pigeons from Hell”

Robert E. Howard

I. The Whistler in the Dark

Griswell awoke suddenly, every nerve tingling with a premonition of imminent peril. He stared about wildly, unable at first to remember where he was, or what he was doing there. Moonlight filtered in through the dusty windows, and the great empty room with its lofty ceiling and gaping black fireplace was spectral and unfamiliar. Then as he emerged from the clinging cobwebs of his recent sleep, he remembered where he was and how he came to be there. Continue reading

“The Moon-Slave” by Barry Pain

Walpurgisnacht. Springtime Halloween.
A famous tale… of the danger of dance.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Moon-Slave”

Barry Pain

The Princess Viola had, even in her childhood, an inevitable submission to the dance; Continue reading

“The Wehr-wolf” by George W.M. Reynolds

Halloween:
A monster’s frenzied night run of true awfulness and horror. Have a Happy Halloween Night!
-The Voice before the Void

“The Wehr-wolf”

from Wagner the Wehr-wolf

George W.M. Reynolds

‘Twas the hour of sunset.

The eastern horizon, with its gloomy and somber twilight, offered a strange contrast to the glorious glowing hues of vermilion, and purple, and gold, that blended in long streaks athwart the western sky.

For even the winter sunset of Italy is accompanied with resplendent tints—as if an emperor, decked with a refulgent diadem, were repairing to his imperial couch.

The declining rays of the orb of light bathed in molten gold the pinnacles, steeples, and lofty palaces of proud Florence, and toyed with the limpid waves of the Arno, on whose banks innumerable villas and casinos already sent forth delicious strains of music, broken only by the mirth of joyous revelers.

And by degrees as the sun went down, Continue reading

“The Night Ocean” by R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft

Halloween:
Amidst brooding philosophy, the pieces of the horror lie unobtrusively throughout the story for us to fit together. A superb story.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Night Ocean”

R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft

I went to Ellston Beach not only for the pleasures of sun and ocean, but to rest a weary mind. Since I knew no person in the little town, which thrives on summer vacationists and presents only blank windows during most of the year, there seemed no likelihood that I might be disturbed. This pleased me, for I did not wish to see anything but the expanse of pounding surf and the beach lying before my temporary home.

My long work of the summer was completed when I left the city, and the large mural design produced by it had been entered in the contest. It had taken me the bulk of the year to finish the painting, and when the last brush was cleaned I was no longer reluctant to yield to the claims of health and find rest and seclusion for a time. Indeed, when I had been a week on the beach I recalled only now and then the work whose success had so recently seemed all-important. There was no longer the old concern with a hundred complexities of colour and ornament; no longer the fear and mistrust of my ability to render a mental image actual, and turn by my own skill alone the dim-conceived idea into the careful draught of a design. And yet that which later befell me by the lonely shore may have grown solely from the mental constitution behind such concern and fear and mistrust. For I have always been a seeker, a dreamer, and a ponderer on seeking and dreaming; and who can say that such a nature does not open latent eyes sensitive to unsuspected worlds and orders of being? Continue reading

Sophie, the Ghost of Harvey, North Dakota: Interview with Carolyn Feickert at the Harvey Public Library, and “Sophie’s Legend Lingers in Harvey Library” from Dakota Mysteries and Oddities by William Jackson

2016-august-north-dakota-harvey-public-library-sophia-eberlein-sophie-ghost-haunted-folk-lore-legend-usa-nd-photo-by-the-voice-before-the-void2016-august-north-dakota-harvey-house-1-sophia-eberlein-sophie-crime-ghost-haunted-folk-lore-legend-spooky-tree-usa-nd-photo-by-the-voice-before-the-void 2016-august-north-dakota-harvey-house-2-sophia-eberlein-sophie-crime-ghost-haunted-folk-lore-legend-for-sale-usa-nd-photo-by-the-voice-before-the-void 2016-august-north-dakota-harvey-house-3-sophia-eberlein-sophie-crime-ghost-haunted-folk-lore-legend-creepy-front-door-usa-nd-photo-by-the-voice-before-the-voidHalloween:
An interview with the lovely librarian Carolyn Feickert in August, 2016, in the very busy Harvey Public Library in Harvey, North Dakota, along with the story of Sophia Eberlein from William Jackson’s first book of North Dakota lore, and some thoughts about folklore, tourism, and small town economies.
Fair use of copyrighted material is claimed under U.S. copyright law for the purposes of education and commentary.
-The Voice before the Void

Interview with Carolyn Feickert at the Harvey Public Library in Harvey, North Dakota

The Voice before the Void

and

“Sophie’s legend lingers in Harvey library”

from Dakota Mysteries and Oddities

William Jackson

Also mentioned:
Gorman UFO Dogfight over Fargo, North Dakota
Hazel Miner of the 1920 North Dakota Blizzard

SasWhat podcast and SmallTownMonsters.com
Fouke, Arkansas and the Beast of Boggy Creek
Inverness, Scotland and the Loch Ness Monster
Deadwood, South Dakota and Aces over Eights
Roswell, New Mexico and the Roswell UFO Crash

Harvey, North Dakota
Harvey Public Library
Ben Franklin store in Harvey
Tastee Freez restaurant in Harvey

“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

Infinite Pages: 4 Stories by Jorge Luis Borges, from Wikipedia

Jorge Luis Borges’ Birthday:
Four stories of philosophy, touching upon fantasy, horror, and weirdness, and even H.P. Lovecraft.
Spoilers.
-The Voice before the Void

“The Aleph”

Wikipedia

“The Aleph” is a short story by the Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. First published in September 1945, it was reprinted in the short story collection, The Aleph and Other Stories, in 1949, and revised by the author in 1974.

Plot summary

In Borges’ story, the Aleph is a point in space that contains all other points. Anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping, or confusion. The story traces the theme of infinity found in several of Borges’ other works, such as “The Book of Sand.” Continue reading

“The Music of Erich Zann” by H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday:
Upon Brennan’s recommendation.
“Happy birthday, Mr. Lovecraft. And with that, let begin the season of Halloween.”
-The Voice before the Void

“The Music of Erich Zann”

H.P. Lovecraft

I have examined maps of the city with the greatest care, yet have never again found the Rue d’Auseil. These maps have not been modern maps alone, for I know that names change. I have, on the contrary, delved deeply into all the antiquities of the place, and have personally explored every region, of whatever name, which could possibly answer to the street I knew as the Rue d’Auseil. But despite all I have done, it remains an humiliating fact that I cannot find the house, the street, or even the locality, where, during the last months of my impoverished life as a student of metaphysics at the university, I heard the music of Erich Zann.

That my memory is broken, I do not wonder; for my health, physical and mental, was gravely disturbed throughout the period of my residence in the Rue d’Auseil, and I recall that I took none of my few acquaintances there. But that I cannot find the place again is both singular and perplexing; for it was within a half-hour’s walk of the university and was distinguished by peculiarities which could hardly be forgotten by any one who had been there. I have never met a person who has seen the Rue d’Auseil. Continue reading

“H.P. Lovecraft, An Evaluation” by Joseph Payne Brennan

H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday:
Quite a prescient consideration.
-The Voice before the Void

“H.P. Lovecraft, An Evaluation”

Joseph Payne Brennan

MACABRE HOUSE
55 Trumbull St.
New Haven 10
Connecticut

Since the publication of my “H. P. Lovecraft: A Bibliography” (Biblio Press, 1952), I have been repeatedly urged to write out my opinion of Lovecraft’s work. I have been kept from doing so by the pressure of a full-time library job, plus my own creative work in the diverse fields of the horror story, the western story, and poetry, as well as the semi-annual publication of ESSENCE and other time-consuming activities such as an unending struggle against censorship groups which are violating Constitutional rights on both a local and national level.

The following brief essay is an admittedly hurried and incomplete attempt to meet demands for a Lovecraft critique. An entire book, requiring many months of uninterrupted work, could be devoted to the project and I sincerely regret that circumstances do not permit me to undertake such a task. But I hope that my comments, in spite of their brevity, will be of some interest. Continue reading

“Dewey Lake Monster” from Wikipedia

Dewey Lake Monster Sightings Anniversary:
In the Northern Hemisphere, June is when bipedal creatures are most active.
-The Voice before the Void

“Dewey Lake Monster”

Wikipedia

The Dewey Lake Monster is the name given to a large bipedal creature approximately 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weighing about 500 pounds (227 kilograms), which first gained wide notoriety in June 1964 after several reported sightings near Dewey Lake in Dowagiac, Michigan. It is also referred to as the Michigan Bigfoot and Sister Lakes Sasquatch.

Dewey Lake Monster Michigan Bigfoot Sister Lakes Sasquatch Garcon Train Sighting picture by The Terror Tales via WikipediaThe beast had already been known to locals in the area for several years prior to the June 1964 events and was rumored to dwell primarily along a 15-mile stretch of swamp-land extending from Dowagiac/Sister Lakes toward Decatur, Michigan (along Dewey Lake Street); however, in 1964 it gained national attention in the United States after several notable attacks and sightings prompted investigation by authorities, which in turn resulted in coverage by national newspapers and caused a flood of curious thrill-seekers and monster-hunters to besiege the local community in the summer of ’64. Continue reading

“Nyarlathotep” from Wikipedia

H.P. Lovecraft encounters Nikola Tesla and dreams a nightmare.
-The Voice before the Void

“Nyarlathotep”

Wikipedia

Nyarlathotep is a name used for a character in the works of H.P. Lovecraft and other writers. The character is commonly known in association with its role as a malign deity in the Lovecraft Mythos fictional universe, where it is known as the Crawling Chaos. First appearing in Lovecraft’s 1920 prose poem of the same name, he was later mentioned in other works by Lovecraft and by other writers and in the tabletop role-playing games making use of the Cthulhu Mythos. Later writers describe him as one of the Outer Gods.

Although the deity’s name is fictional, it bears the historical Egyptian suffix -hotep, meaning “peace” or “satisfaction.” Continue reading

“Nyarlathotep” by H.P. Lovecraft

Few things are as fun as Lovecraft at the height of his powers.
Nary a word in excess here.
A wonderful evocation of the atmosphere of the End of the World.
-The Voice before the Void

“Nyarlathotep”

H.P. Lovecraft

Nyarlathotep… the crawling chaos… I am the last… I will tell the audient void…

I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. Continue reading

“Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction” from Wikipedia

Some of the most challenging of ideas.
-The Voice before the Void

“Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction”

Wikipedia

The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.

Sexual themes are frequently used in science fiction or related genres. Such elements may include depictions of realistic sexual interactions in a science fictional setting, a protagonist with an alternative sexuality, or exploration of the varieties of sexual experience that deviate from the conventional.

1872 illustration by David Henry Friston in lesbian vampire story Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu 0Science fiction and fantasy have sometimes been more constrained than non-genre narrative forms in their depictions of sexuality and gender. However, speculative fiction also offers the freedom to imagine societies different from real-life cultures, making it an incisive tool to examine sexual bias and forcing the reader to reconsider his or her cultural assumptions. Continue reading

“The Canal” by Everil Worrell

Vampire romance – vintage, and done properly… that is: with horror.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Canal”

Everil Worrell

Past the sleeping city the river sweeps; along its left bank the old canal creeps.

I did not intend that to be poetry, although the scene is poetic—somberly, gruesomely poetic, like the poems of Poe. I know it too well—I have walked too often over the grass-grown path beside the reflections of black trees and tumble-down shacks and distant factory chimneys in the sluggish waters that moved so slowly, and ceased to move at all.

I have always had a taste for nocturnal prowling. Continue reading

“At the Home of Poe” by Frank Belknap Long

Edgar Allan Poe’s Birthday:
A lilting story of a life.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“At the Home of Poe: A Poem in Prose”

Frank Belknap Long

To H. P. Lovecraft

The home of Poe! It is like a fairy dwelling, a gnomic palace built of the aether of dreams. It is tiny and delicate and lovely, and replete with memories of sere leaves in November and of lilies in April. It is a castle of vanished hopes, of dimly-remembered dreams, of sad memories Continue reading

“Krampus” from Wikipedia

Krampusnacht Special:
Winter is the darkest time of year.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Krampus”

Wikipedia

In German-speaking Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure. According to traditional narratives around the figure, Krampus punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved children with gifts. Regions in the Austrian diaspora feature similar figures and, more widely, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure. Continue reading

“There is a grey thing that lives in the tree-tops” by Stephen Crane

Halloween Special:
“Happy Halloween, you poor devils.”
⁓The Voice before the Void

“There is a grey thing that lives in the tree-tops”

Stephen Crane

There is a grey thing that lives in the tree-tops
None know the horror of its sight
Save those who meet death in the wilderness
But one is enabled

To see branches move at its passing
To hear at times the wail of black laughter
And to come often upon mystic places
Places where the thing has just been.

“The Hand” by Guy de Maupassant

Halloween Special:
Maupassant has a brilliant way of relating the supernatural. He does not say: “this supernatural thing happened,” a fact which would be unbelievable; instead he says: “it is said that this supernatural thing happened,” a fact which is indisputable.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Hand”

Guy de Maupassant

translated from the French

All were crowding around M. Bermutier, the judge, who was giving his opinion about the Saint-Cloud mystery. For a month this in explicable crime had been the talk of Paris. Nobody could make head or tail of it.

M. Bermutier, standing with his back to the fireplace, was talking, citing the evidence, discussing the various theories, but arriving at no conclusion.

Some women had risen, in order to get nearer to him, and were standing with their eyes fastened on the clean-shaven face of the judge, who was saying such weighty things. They, were shaking and trembling, moved by fear and curiosity, and by the eager and insatiable desire for the horrible, which haunts the soul of every woman. One of them, paler than the others, said during a pause:

“It’s terrible. It verges on the supernatural. The truth will never be known.” Continue reading

“Caterpillars” by E.F. Benson

Halloween Special:
Does knowledge of the world come through dreaming or waking?
Or both?
Or neither?
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Caterpillars”

E.F. Benson

I saw a month or two ago in an Italian paper that the Villa Casana, in which I once stayed, had been pulled down, and that a manufactory of some sort was in process of erection on its site.

There is therefore no longer any reason for refraining from writing of those things which I myself saw (or imagined I saw) in a certain room and on a certain landing of the villa in question, nor from mentioning the circumstances which followed, which may or may not (according to the opinion of the reader) throw some light on or be somehow connected with this experience.

The Villa Casana was in all ways but one a perfectly delightful house, yet, if it were standing now, nothing in the world–I use the phrase in its literal sense–would induce me to set foot in it again, Continue reading

Old Yellow Top, or the Pre-Cambrian Shield Man

Apparently, Bigfoots have individuating characteristics and long lifespans. “Bigfoot” does start to sound less like a mythical creature, more like a species of large primate.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Pre Cambrian Shield Man Seen by Two Prospectors”

North Bay Nugget, North Bay, Ontario, Canada

Cobalt, Ontario, Canada
July 27, 1923

Mr. J. A. MacAuley and Mr. Lorno Wilson claim they have seen the “Pre-Cambrian shield man” while working on their mining claims North and East of the Wettlaufer Mine, near Cobalt. This is the second time in seventeen years that a hairy ape-like creature nicknamed “Old Yellow-Top” because of a light colored mane has been seen in the district. The two prospectors said they were taking test samples from their claim property when they spotted what looked like a bear picking in a blueberry patch. Mr. Wilson said he threw a stone at the creature. He said, “It kind of stood up and growled at us, then ran away. It sure was like no bear I have ever seen. Its head was kind of yellow and the rest of it was black, like a bear, all covered with hair.” The first report of the creature was made in Sept. 1906, by a group of men building the head frame at the Violet Mine, east of Cobalt. It had not been seen since that time.

“Old Yellow Top”

Wikipedia

Old Yellow Top was reported to be a 7-foot (2-meter) tall Sasquatch-like creature that was sighted several times around the town of Cobalt, Ontario, Canada, during the 20th century. Descriptions of the creature by eyewitnesses closely resembled that of a Sasquatch; however, Old Yellow Top had a blonde patch of hair on its head and a light-coloured mane, which accounted for the creature’s name.

Alleged sightings took place over a 64-year period, Continue reading

“The Hoard of The Wizarrd-Beast” by H.P. Lovecraft and R.H. Barlow

H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday Special:
A decidedly Dunsanian fantasy adventure.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“The Hoard of The Wizarrd-Beast”

H.P. Lovecraft and R.H. Barlow

There had happened in the teeming and many-towered city of Zeth one of those incidents which are prone to take place in all capitals of all worlds. Nor, simply because Zeth lies on a planet of strange beasts and stranger vegetation, did this incident differ greatly from what might have occurred in London or Paris or any of the great governing towns we know. Through the cleverly concealed dishonesty of an aged but shrewd official, the treasury was exhausted. No shining phrulder, as of old, lay stacked about the strong-room; and over empty coffers the sardonic spider wove webs of mocking design. When, at last, the giphath Yalden entered that obscure vault and discovered the thefts, there were left only some phlegmatic rats which peered sharply at him as at an alien intruder.

There had been no accountings since Kishan the old keeper had died many moon-turns before, and great was Yalden’s dismay to find this emptiness instead of the expected wealth. The indifference of the small creatures in the cracks between the flagstones could not spread itself to him. This was a very grave matter, and would have to be met in a very prompt and serious way. Clearly, there was nothing to do but consult Oorn, and Oorn was a highly portentous being. Continue reading