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Shining in the Dark by Various (edited by Hans-Åke Lilja).

shining-in-the-dark-9781982132873_hr

Title: Shining in the Dark.
Author: Stephen King, Jack Ketchum & P.D. Cacek, Steward O'Nan, Bev Vincent, Clive Barker, Brian Keene, Richard Chizmar, Kevin Quigley, Ramsey Campbell, Edgar Allan Poe, Brian James Freeman, and John Ajvide Linquist (translated by Marlaine Delargy) (edited by Hans-Åke Lilja).
Genre: Fiction, short stories, horror, crime.
Country: U.S., Canada, U.K., and Sweden.
Language: English and Swedish.
Publication Date: 1843, 1971, 1976, 2006, 1992, 1993, and 2017 (this collection 2017).
Summary: A collection of 12 short stories. In The Blue Air Compressor (1971) by Stephen King, an author that decides to write a book about a dead friend's wife while staying at her husband's cottage has a bad reaction when she uncovers and critiques the manuscript. In The Net (2006) by Jack Ketchum & P.D. Cacek, a passionate internet romance turns sour when the two participants finally decide to meet face to face. In The Novel of the Holocaust (2006) by Stewart O'Nan, a man who survived the concentration camps in his childhood has to deal with fame mixed with his real life memories after he writes a Holocaust novel. In Aeliana (2017) by Bev Vincent, a detective gets help trying to capture a serial killer by a creature of the night masquerading as a little girl. In Pidgin and Theresa (1993) by Clive Barker, an angel sets out to fix her error when she accidentally turns a turtle and a parrot human while deifying their owner. An End to All Things (2017) by Brian Keene is a story of a bereaved man who spends every morning on the dock drinking coffee and imagining and wishing for a different kind of apocalypse. In Cemetery Dance (1992) by Richard Chizmar, a man is summoned to the grave of his first love and victim. In Drawn to the Flame (2017) by Kevin Quigley, three boys must try to survive when they are lured into a menacing house of horrors at a dark carnival. In The Companion (1976) by Ramsey Campbell, a man makes a dire mistake when he decides to take a ride on the Ghost Train at an abandoned carnival. In The Tell-Tale Heart (1843) by Edgar Allan Poe, an unnamed narrator endeavors to convince the reader of the narrator's sanity while simultaneously describing a murder he's committed. In A Mother's Love (2017) by Brian James Freeman, a man goes to extreme lengths to demonstrate the love his has for his dying mother. In The Keeper's Companion (2017) by John Ajvide Lindqvist (translated by Marlaine Delargy), a boy who gets deep into role-playing games believes that he summons a Lovecraftian demon when he moderates a Cathulu game, whose constant presence completely changes his life.

My Rating: 7/10
My Review:


♥ The house was tall, with an incredible slope-shingled roof. As he walked up toward it from the shore road, Gerald Nately thought it was almost a country in itself, geography in microcosm. The roof dipped and rose at varying angles above the main building and two strangely angled wings; a widow's walk skirted a mushroom-shaped cupola which looked toward the sea; the porch, facing the dunes and lusterless September scrub grass was longer than a Pullman car and screened in. The high slope of roof made the house seem to beetle its brows and loom above him. A Baptist grandfather of a house.

♥ There was silence, inhabited silence.

♥ She had tea. He had Coke. Millions of eyes seemed to watch them. He felt like a burglar, stealing around the hidden fiction he could make of her, carrying only his own youthful winsomeness and a psychic flashlight.

♥ Rule One for all writers is that the teller is not worth a tin tinker's fart when compared to the listener. Let us drop the matter, if we may. I am intruding for the same reason that the Pope defecates: we both have to.

image: "mammoth shadow of decay swaying across shadowless sand, cane held in one twisted hand, feet clad in huge canvas shoes which pump and push at the coarse grains, face like a serving platter, puffy dough arms, breasts like drumlins, a geography in herself, a country of tissue"

♥ He had done this almost on the spur of the moment: the decision to go and the decision to show his manuscript to Mrs. Leighton had come together, almost as if he had been guided by an invisible hand.

***

In truth, he was guided; by an invisible hand—mine.

♥ The day was white with overcast, and the promise of snow lurked in its throat.

♥ He was about to turn back to the kitchen when the mammoth chuckles began. They were large, helpless shakings of laughter, the kind that stays hidden for years and ages like wine.

♥ Most horror stories are sexual in nature.

I'm sorry to break in with this information, but feel I must in order to make the way clear for the grisly conclusion of this piece, which is (at least psychologically) a clear metaphor for fears of sexual impotence on my part. Mrs. Leighton's large mouth is symbolic of the vagina; the hose of the compressor is a penis. Her female bulk huge and overpowering, is a mythic representation of the sexual fear that lives in every male, to a greater or lesser degree: that the woman, with her opening, is a devourer.

In the works of Edgar A. Poe, Stephen King, Gerald Nately, and others who practice this particular literary form, we are apt to find locked rooms, dungeons, empty mansions (all symbols of the womb); scenes of living burial (sexual impotence); the dead returned from the grave (necrophilia); grotesque monsters or human beings (externalized fear of the sexual act itself); torture and/or murder (a viable alternative to the sexual act).

These possibilities are not always valid, but the post-Freud reader and writer must take them into consideration when attempting the genre.

Abnormal psychology has become a part of the human experience.

♥ In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Edgar A. Poe's finest story, there is no real motivation for the murder of the old man, and that was as it should be. The motive is not the point.

~~The Blue Air Compressor: A Telling of Horror by Stephen King.

♥ The Novel of the Holocaust is coming! Yessiree—alive, alive, alive! SEE the freak of the twentieth century, the soul-searching survivor of the ultimate battle of good and evil! HEAR his pitiful story of torture and degradation! THRILL to the savage, inhuman acts of his captors! Yes, he's coming, one command performance only, the sideshow setting up its tent in the meadow by the river. All day children have been racing their bikes across the bridge, fighting to peek under the canvas. Come one, come all!

No, it's not that bad, the Novel of the Holocaust thinks. But close. He's been chosen by Oprah, lifted up, summoned, so he's going. He leaves his walk-up in London while fog still hangs over Leicester Square, drenching the statues, the pigeons jabbing at his new shoes, bought just for this trip. He's got money now, and a famous name (though no face). He takes a taxi to Gatwick and pauses at the duty-free, the bottles of Scotch like parting gifts.

♥ The Novel of the Holocaust comes from an island with a view of a rocky shore, huts, goats tinkling as they navigate steep paths. The country people are simple and wise as mud. Until this, they considered The Novel of the Holocaust a failure, a child who knew too much and did too little.

The Novel of the Holocaust has no brothers or sisters, no wife or husband, no children, only lovers, and those are inconstant, staying a week on their way to Greece or the Middle East. They see the Novel of the Holocaust as harmless and a little outdated, good-hearted but hardly charming, the devotion he instills lukewarm. A friend, they say; I'm staying with a friend. The Novel of the Holocaust makes them breakfast and sees them downstairs to the taxi in the rain. He holds an umbrella, helps with the door, kisses them meagerly through the window, then climbs back up to the flat, gray in the morning light, the radiators hissing. The Novel of the Holocaust has the whole day and no plans.

Sometimes the Novel of the Holocaust goes to museums, hoping to meet people. Sometimes the Novel of the Holocaust doesn't leave the flat for a week, reads the paper cover to cover, flips on BBC 3 and lies on the couch, watching Antonioni, falling asleep. Sometimes the Novel of the Holocaust closes his eyes in the bathtub and sinks under, his thin hair lifting like kelp, and imagines a stranger's hand lurking above the surface, waiting to push his head down again.

Maybe fame will change the Novel of the Holocaust. The money is unimportant, but maybe people will see him differently. There will be fan letters, perhaps, or even fans themselves ringing the bell—girls at university and lunatics drawn by the controversy, crabbed scholars ready to dispute obscure points.

♥ In the Novel of the Holocaust, the families can't applaud Franz Ignaz without giving themselves away, so they each touch his cheek, look into his eyes as a way of saying thanks. Later, in the camps, the same gesture is heartrending, and then brutal, when the commandant uses it. The novel of the Holocaust's mother did the same thing when the Novel of the Holocaust had disappointed her or done something wrong (which was all the time). He tried to avoid her eyes, because they shamed him, and she took her hand and placed it on the side of his face and turned him toward her and then looked directly into him, and he could not keep his secrets. How this became such a large part of the book, the Novel of the Holocaust isn't sure, and what exactly it means escapes him. Guilt, certainly, or maybe an accusation against her, but when he thinks of his mother, she is blameless. Certainty she has nothing to do with the six million dead, and to compare his lonely childhood to genocide is an affront, an obscenity. But that is what he's done.

♥ They will ask him about his parents—obliterated, like the island village, the goats roaming wild in the mountains, sleeping in the kitchens. They will say the magic name of the camp he survived as a child (no, he will not let them film the number bled green and near-indecipherable on his arm) and ask him to tell his story.

♥ "How's the tour going?" his escort asks, and he explains that this is his first stop, that usually he dreads these things, that he rarely leaves his apartment. He realizes how pathetic this sounds, even if it is true. Why does he fell the need to confess to strangers?

♥ From the bridge, the facades glint prettily in the orange morning light, and the city seems his. He wonders if this is how power feels.

♥ They're into Manhattan now, traffic nosing light to light, the sidewalks mobbed. All dead, he thinks, pictures them all falling, bodies slumped over the steering wheels. Maybe then they would understand.

This is what he'll tell them! Imagine everyone in the city dead, the doormen and the matrons walking their dogs, the bicycle messengers.

What a pleasant guest he'll be.

♥ Someone with the show takes his arms and whisks him away to make-up, where he sits in a barber's chair before a mirror. The woman working on him says nothing; she's busy talking to another woman about her hours, how she wants to trade her shift with someone. The Novel of the Holocaust sits there with the bib protecting his suit, looking at the powdered and rouged old whore before him. It was all so long ago, he thinks, but that is not what they want to hear. And honestly, that is not true, not true at all.

♥ Of courser, the last people Franz Ignaz finds are his own mother and father, starving and doomed to a work detail. Once they are no longer useful, they will be killed, so Franz Ignaz must find a way to smuggle them food.

Did the Novel of the Holocaust ever have a chance to help his own mother and father? Would he rather have died with them? These are the old questions, maybe the ones the book was supposed to answer. But of course, it couldn't. It was just a book.

..In real life, the Novel of the Holocaust never searched for his parents. He did not find anyone from his village. They were dead, everyone agreed, and though he did not believe it for several months, he had little else to occupy his mind, and too soon he accepted the truth. There were no miraculous escapes, no easy miracles. There was nothing funny or uplifting, no blackly operatic metaphors. He did not hide jewels to trade for favors or share his food with sickly children, and once they were liberated, he did not want to remember any of it.

He doesn't want to now, but at this point there is no choice.

~~The Novel if the Holocaust by Stewart O'Nan.

♥ Aeliana tries to escape the beam, but it stays on her. It doesn't hurt—not like sunlight—but she's exposed and defenseless. Every predator is also a prey to something else.

♥ She looks to the sky through the car's windscreen, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to see the sun, which is about to disappear behind the city's sprawling skyline. Kate raises her hand to shield her eyes, which amuses Aeliana. Even humans aren't immune to its oppressive radiance.

♥ It won't be long before the feral cats and rats and other vermin of the streets lay claim to the bodies in the alley. She wishes she could protect Kate from this indignity, but the world will have its way with her.

~~Aeliana by Bev Vincent.

♥ The apotheosis of Saint Raymond of Crouch End took place, as do the greater proportion of English exaltations, in January is considered in celestial circles a wider time to visit England than any other. A month earlier, and the eyes of children are turned heavenwards in the hope of glimpsing reindeer and sleigh. A month later, and the possibility of spring—albeit frail—is enough to sharpen the senses of souls dulled by drear. Given that angels have a piquancy which may be nosed at a quarter-mile (likened by some to the smell of wet dog-fur and curdled cream_) the less alert the populace the greater the chance that an act of divine intervention (such as the removal of a saint to glory) can be achieved without attracting undue attention.

♥ In the Many Mansions Saint Raymond of Crouch End was received with much glory sand rhetoric. He was bathed, dressed in raiments so fine they made him weep, and invited before the Throne to speak of his good deeds. When he protected mildly that it would be immodest for him to list his achievements, he was told that modesty had been invented by the Fallen One to encourage men to think less of themselves, and that he should have no fear of censure for his boasts.

♥ "How did this happen?" the parrot, who'd been dubbed Pidgin by Raymond in recognition of its poor English, wanted to know.

Theresa raised her grey head. She was both bald and uncommonly ugly, her flesh as wrinkled and scaly in this new incarnation as ever it had been in her old. "He was taken by an angel," she said. "And we were somehow altered by its presence." She stared down at her crabbed hands. "I feel so naked," she said. "You are naked," Pidgin replied. "You've lost your shell and I've lost my feathers. But we've gained so much." "I wonder..." Theresa said. "What do you wonder?" "Whether we've gained much at all."

♥ "I feel a great responsibility." Theresa said. "You do?" said Pidgin, claiming the brandy bottle from her scaly fingers. "Why, exactly?" "Isn't it obvious? We're walking proof of miracles. We saw a saint ascend—" "and we saw his deeds," Pidgin added. "All those children, those pretty little girls, healed by his goodness. He was a great man." "They didn't enjoy the healing much, I think," Theresa observed, "they wept a lot." "They were cold, most likely. What with their being naked, and his hands being clammy." "And perhaps he was a little clumsy with his fingers. But he was a great man. Just as you say. Are you done with the brandy?" Pidgin handed the bottle—which was already half empty—back to his companion. "I saw his fingers slip a good deal," the parrot-man went on. "Usually..." "Usually?" "...well, now I think of it, always..." "Always?" "He was a great man." "Always?" "Between the legs." They sat in silence for a few moments, turning this over.

..The Saint never knew what his error was; never knew whether it was an unseemly glance at a cherubim, or the way he sometimes stumbled on the word child that gave him away. He only knew that one moment he was keeping the company of luminous souls whose every step ignited stars, the next their bright faces were gazing upon him with rancour, and the air which had filled his breast with bliss had turned to birch twigs and was beating him bloody.

..The birches did not slow their tattoo by a beat. He was driven to his knees, sobbing. Let me go, he finally told the Sublime Throng, I relinquish my sainthood here and now. Punish me no more just send me home. The rain had stopped by eight forty-five, and by nine, when Sophus Demdarita brought Raymond back to his humble abode, the clouds were clearing. Moonlight washed the room where he'd healed half a hundred little girls, and where half a hundred times he'd sobbed in shame.

♥ The streets of north London are not known for miracles. Murder they had seen, and rape, and riot. But revelation? That was for High Holborn and Lambeth. True, there has been an entity with the body of a chow-chow and the head of Winston Churchill reported in Finsbury Park, but this unreliable account was the closest the region had come to having a visitation since the fifties.

♥ Sophus was in too much of a hurry to be stealthy. She passed along the Broadway in the form of a hovering bonfire, startling atheists from their ease and frightening believers into catechisms.

♥ They both dared glance back towards the Angel, and found to their astonishment that Uncle Raymond had appeared from somewhere, and had thrown himself between them and the Angel's ire. He had clearly suffered in paradise. His cloth-of-gold raiment hung in tatters. His flesh was bloodied and bruised where he'd been repeatedly struck. But he had the strength of an unforgiven man.

♥ Angels are beyond physical suffering; it is one of their tragedies.

♥ She threw her arms above her head, and ascended on a beam of flickering power, removing herself from the earthly plane before her presence grazed undeserving human flesh, and began a new game of consequences.

♥ "The truth won't come out." "Unless we tell it." Theresa said. "No," Pidgin replied. "We must keep it to ourselves." "Why?" "Theresa, my love, isn't it obvious? We're human now. That means there's things we should avoid." "Angels?" "Yes." "Excrement." "Yes."

"And—?"

"The truth."

"Ah," said Theresa. "The Truth." She laughed lightly. "From now, let's ban it from all conversation. Agreed?" "Agreed," he said, laying a little peck upon her scaly cheek. "Shall I begin?" Theresa said. "By all means."

"I loathe you, love. And the thought of making children with you disgusts me." Pidgin brushed the swelling mound at the front of his trousers. "And this," he said, "is a liquorice stick. And I can think of no fouler time to use it than now."

So saying, they embraced with no little passion, and like countless couples wandering the city tonight, started in search of a place to entwine their limbs, telling fond lies to one another as they went.

~~Pidgin and Theresa by Clive Barker.

♥ I stood there at the water's edge and waited for the world to end.

..So I waited, steam rising from my mug, bathrobe blowing in the wind, and just like always, the world didn't end.

♥ I stood there a while, watching the sky, but the only thing I saw were airplanes, having departed from Harrisburg or Baltimore-Washington, carrying people somewhere else. I want to go somewhere else, too, but no airplane is going to take me there. I want to go wherever Braylon and Caroline are, but there are no direct flights. Train, buses, and airplanes don't go there, unless they crash. And even then, I might get unlucky and walk away.

There's only one other way to get there, and I am still too afraid to follow.

♥ The train table, left behind long after Braylon sold off his Thomas the Tank Engine toys ant our yard sale because "they were for little kids and he was eight now" will still be covered with Legos, including the half-finished house we'd been building together. A house that will never be finished. A house that is incomplete. A house that in haunted.

Just like this house.

♥ I said before that I don't watch a lot of horror movies. That's because most of them are stupid. Take ghost movies, for example. The house is haunted and terrible things are happening, but do the people in those movies ever do the logical thing and just fucking leave? No. They stay in the house. They refuse to move.

I never understood that until after Braylon and Caroline were gone. After they were buried, and everyone had offered their condolences, and I was here, alone. After the house had been professionally cleaned and the police had finished their investigation and all of Caroline's blood had been scrubbed off the walls and the carpet. And even then, sitting here on that first night, biting through my bottom lip so I wouldn't scream, wondering what to do with the rest of my life, wondering how to even have a rest of my life, I still didn't understand why the people in those movies never moved. It wasn't until I thought about selling the house and found out exactly how little chance of that I had in this economy, and how much I still owed the bank, that I began to understand. It wasn't until a friend, one of the last friends I spoke to before everyone stopped coming around, told me I should get away for a while, take a vacation or buy an RV and just go, somewhere far away from here and start over—that those movies started to make sense to me. It wasn't until I started seeing Braylon over and over again down by the river, and hearing his laughter—and hearing the sound his head made as it struck the dock—that I understood completely. It wasn't until I started sleeping on the couch, waking up every morning disheveled and feeling hopeless and aching from my knees up to my neck while the echo of that gunshot rang in my head again and again and again, that I empathized with the people in those films.

It's not that those people don't want to leave the haunted house. It's that they can't.

And neither can I.

♥ It's funny. I kind of miss seeing them, and hearing them. Now it's just me, again. Me and the memories of my wife and son.

Their ghosts are getting louder.

~~An End to All Things by Brian Keene.

♥ Then, the door slammed behind them, immersing them in darkness. All three cried out, and the haunting, disembodied voice of Mr. LaRue called to them from outside:

"Now you're trapped, you stupid boys
it's all worked out as planned!"


Johnny realized for the first time that he was very small, very scared, and his parents had no idea where he was.

♥ "Ah, the door at the end," LaRue's voice called. Johnny ignored it.

"What a nice place to stop!"

"Shut up," Johnny mumbled, reaching out and grabbing the doorknob.

"But if I were you," LaRue went on. Johnny flung the door open. Inside, nothing but blackness.

"Come on," he told Bobby, stepping through the door, holding onto Bobby's arm.

"I'd watch out for the drop."

And suddenly he was falling, plunging down in darkness, and Bobby was beside him, and they were both screaming, and then they reached the bottom, hitting some solid ground, and Johnny kept screaming but horribly, terribly, Bobby had stopped.

♥ "I don't want to die," Bobby said in a quavering, small voice.

"I don't either, man. We're gonna get out of here."

Bobby asked, "Do you promise?" Something inside Johnny clicked over when Bobby asked it. Do I promise? That was a question you asked a grownup. I can't promise stuff like that. I'm only a kid.

Then he thought of the somehow adult voice he had summoned when he pushed Bobby against the wall. How he'd been able to block out the memory of Chip's death, and rationalize the skulls with himself. What if he was an adult now? What did that mean?

"Yes," Johnny said after a moment's hesitation. "Yes, I promise."

"Thank you," Bobby said, and Johnny wanted to cry all over again.

♥ Instead, there was bare silence. He looked back for confirmation that his friend was following him, and stopped. Bobby was staring out at the bright lights of the theme park they had been led from. He wasn't crying, or going into hysterics, as Johnny had thought. Only staring. "Bobby?" he asked.

A year before, Bobby, Chip and Johnny were in Chips' tree-house, hanging out and reading comics. No one wanted to talk about what was so obviously on all their minds. A week before, Bobby's father had been killed in a bus accident commuting home from work. Bobby, who could be as loud as Chip if you really got him going, had been pretty quiet since then. The air in the clubhouse that day felt so thick, like it was that beef stew Johnny's Mom made once in a while. Without warning, Bobby put his comic down—Batman, his favorite—stared at the two of them with glassy eyes, and said in a flat, cold voice, "I'm gonna die. You two two are, too. Everyone. We're all gonna die." Then, he picked up his comic and began reading again.

Now, as Bobby looked out the window, a window that could have meant freedom, Johnny watched the amusement park lights play over those same glassy eyes. And in that eerily adult voice, Bobby said, "We're never getting out of this house."

♥ "I think I got something," Bobby said, sounding a lot less like the unfeeling boy down at the basement door, but not exactly like his old self again. His old self is gone, Johnny, you know that. His mind whispered. Yours, too. You can't be children like that again.

♥ That only made Johnny laugh harder, grabbing the door frame and bending over. His mind screamed at him: You're at the door, you idiot, go! Go! But for the moment, he couldn't. This laughter, hysterical as it was, felt like the first taste of food a starving man takes. He clung to it desperately. If he could still laugh, he was still alive.

~~Drawn to the Flame by Kevin Quigley.

♥ He knew why he was blocking, and that should be his salvation: at the age of ten he'd suffered death and hell every night.

He clung to the wood in the whirlpool and remembered. His father had denied him a nightlight and his mother had nodded, saying, "Yes, I think it's time." He'd lain in bed, terrified to move in case he betrayed his presence to the darkness, mouthing "Please God don't let it" over and over. He lay so that he could see the faint grey vertical line of the window between the curtains in the far distance, but even that light seemed to be receding. He knew that death and hell would be like this. Sometimes, as he began to blur with sleep and the room grew larger and the shapes dark against the darkness awoke, he couldn't tell that he hadn't already died.

He sat back as the horse slowed and he began to slip forward across its neck. What then? Eventually he'd seen through the self-perpetuating trap of religious guilt, of hell, of not daring to believe in it because then it would get you. For a while he'd been vaguely uneasy in dark places, but not sufficiently so to track down the feeling and conquer it. After a while it had dissipated, along with his parents' overt disapproval of his atheism. Yes, he thought as his memories and the merry-go-round slowed, I was happiest then, lying in bed hearing and feeling them and the house around me. Then, when he was thirty, a telephone call had summoned him to the hole in the road, to the sight of the car like a dead black beetle protruding from the hole. There had been a moment of sheer vertiginous terror, and then it was over. His parents had gone into darkness. That was enough. It was the one almost religious observance he imposed on himself: think no more.

♥ He remembered how, when he lay mouthing soundless pleas in bed, he would sometimes stop and think of what he'd read about dreams: that they might last for hours but in reality occupied only a split second. Was the same true of thoughts? And prayers, when you had nothing but darkness by which to tell the time? Besides defending him, his prayers were counting off the moments before dawn. Perhaps he had used up only a minute, only a second of darkness. Death and hell—what strange ideas I used to have, he thought. Especially for a ten-year-old. I wonder where they went. Away with short trousers and pimples and everything else I grew out of, of course.

~~The Companion by Ramsey Campbell.

♥ TRUE!—nervous—very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses—not destroyed—not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. OI heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken!

♥ It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture—a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees—very gradually—I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

♥ Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief—oh, no!—it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself—"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney—it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel—although he neither saw nor heard—to feel the presence of my head within the room.

♥ And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense?..

~~The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.

♥ Andrew walked down the bright and cheerful hallway, wincing whenever his shoes squeaked on the gleaming buffed floor. A television blared Jeopardy from somewhere, but many of the rooms were silent. The almost-dead didn't make much noise.

~~A Mother's Love by Brian James Freeman.

♥ When it was all over one character was dead and another was in the lunatic asylum. It was five o'clock in the morning, the boys had consumed twelve cans of Celsius energy drink and couldn't stop talking about how fucking fantastic it had been. The atmosphere was one of exhausted euphoria, and if they had been a little younger they might have raced out into the forest to do some live role play in order to work off an excess of emotion. Instead they talked.

♥ Albert glanced down the street where the others were heading for the subways station. No awareness of indifferent evil, no thirst for blood in the air. He would have loved to persuade himself that the whole thing had been some kind of auto-suggestion, but the insight into the nature of the candles was burnt into his brain. Nothing was as he had thought, the most basic truths were wrong.

"What if..." he began. "What if this whole Cthulhu thing... What if it's actually possible to summon up something? If you say the right words? ..When I said those words. When we were in the library. It was as if something... happened. And something came."

Wille didn't laugh, didn't tell Albert that he was pushing things too far. In fact he seemed to regard it as a theoretical problem, because he said: "Well yes, but... it's all made up, isn't it? I mean it's not as if it's based on authentic sources or anything."

"No, but..."

"But what?"

"What if it is?"

♥ Now he was in exactly the same position, and found that incipient madness did not take the form of hallucinatory images or a panic-stricken desire to flee; instead it was like a glutinous grey mass into which his consciousness was slowly sinking. His arms hanging limply by his side, he went downstairs, fighting the urge to stick out his tongue and let it dangle there.

♥ De Vermis Msyteriis and Ludwig Prinn were creations of Robert Bloch, just like the creature itself. The incantations Albert had recited were a hotchpotch of Latin nonsense and Lovecraft's made-up language, which was based on Arabic.

And yet.

There were only two possibilities. The first was that he, Albert Egelsjö, a fifteen-year-old with a high IQ, no childhood trauma and a good relationship with his mother and father, had lost his mind. Started imagining things with such authenticity that they seemed real to him. He would end up in a child psych unit, with a diagnosis involving a whole series of capital letters, followed by a course of medication.

The other possibility was that a chain of coincidences had led him to cast a real spell, just as an infinite number of monkeys sitting at an infinite number of typewriters will eventually produce a Shakespeare play. That there was a real basis for Lovecraft's universe, and that he had somehow made contact with it.

♥ Albert lowered his head and felt his cheeks redden. He was a thousand times cleverer than Felix and would probably be a success in life, whole Feliox would end up working for a removals firm or in some other dead-end job until he got fat on burgers and fries and drank himself to death.

Right now, however, they were next to one another in a scruffy, white-tiled shower room, and the only thing that counted was that Felix had more muscles and a bigger cock.

♥ Once you have acquired the taste for power over other people, it's hard to let it go.

~~The Keeper's Companion by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
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