Notes on the weird – Ramsey Campbell

My first editor – August Derleth of Arkham House – advised me to reacquaint myself with the ghostly tales of M. R. James in the interests of restraint, and I saw how James conveyed more terror with a single sentence or even sometimes a solitary phrase than most writers achieve in a paragraph; he’s still unequalled at showing just enough to suggest far worse.

Ramsey Campbell

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Notes on the weird – Steve Rasnic Tem

To me the heart of the weird is that something occurs in a piece of fiction which is obviously impossible, absolutely cannot happen within the context of consensual reality, and yet it feels absolutely true, expressive of some psychological or emotional reality. This can be a startling perception.

Steve Rasnic Tem

Philippe and the Silver Flute

“Oh, how you’ve been tricked, my boy. Oh, what damage you’ve caused, my poor, poor boy. You think your story’s over, but it’s hardly even started. No idea. You’ve no idea what’s ahead of you. Poor boy. Poor, poor boy.”

The next thing Philippe knew were these words being whispered over and over in his ear. A soft voice, close to his head spoke gently and carefully, full of compassion and strength. For a long time he slept, not sure whether he was alive or dead, with this voice and these words his only connection to the world. When eventually he opened his eyes, it was to a strange place indeed. A tiny cottage hidden deep in the woods with warm red rugs draped over every surface and a flickering light from a dozen candles glittering and sparkling through the glass flowers and bright silver charms which hung and swayed on long lengths of string from the ceiling above him. He was lying on a bed in the corner of this room. By his side was a small, old woman who was gently washing his forehead with a cool flannel soaked in lavender water. Her eyes were sharp and wide and a great smile spread across her face when she saw Philippe was waking at last.

“He lives!” she said, a chuckle of gleeful satisfaction rattling through her as she turned to collect a glass of water with which to wet his lips. While she turned, Philippe saw that she wore around her neck a silver talisman of a bird’s skull which, in these parts, indicated the wearer to be a witch of some great power. He did not find this alarming, though. There was something so gentle and tender about the old woman’s demeanour and so comforting about the place she lived that he felt nothing but safe in her presence.

“You’ve been asleep a long time, my boy. And a good thing too, because you’ll need all the strength you can muster if you are to come through the test you have ahead of you. Here, drink this and eat and when you are finished I will tell you all about it.”

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

shorecliff

‘The Shorecliff Horror and other stories’ is Chapbook number three of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

The Impossible City

So long as he sleeps, he feels safe. He dreams of nothing. Nothing, at least, that he can recall afterwards. When eventually he wakes, it will be with a wrench so painful, to a world so loud and bright that he will gasp at the shock of it. When he wakes, it will be to a place so confused and delirious as to be indistinguishable from a dream. The city rolls out before him, bizarre and disorienting. Nothing he sees there will make any sense to him. It is a place straight out of a nightmare or a horror story. A place without logic or reason that defies his senses and leaves his head spinning. A bewildering place, indeed.

Everyone who comes to the city arrives innocent and blameless, they say. They don’t stay that way for long. And nobody the city has use for ever leaves, so they say. Such are the stories told about the city by the people who know of it and study it. It is a place of rumour and myth, only half believed in even by the few who have heard of it and never forgotten by anyone who has ever seen it, no matter how hard they might wish to.

A shadow hangs over this region. A dark fog that infects the soul of every living creature it touches. They cannot see it, but they can feel it. It covers their hands and lives inside their lungs, pushing and leading them for every step they take. It has a plan for every one of them. Everyone who comes to the city has a role to play in the story it is spinning and whether they realise it or not, whether they wish to follow or not, makes no difference whatsoever.

 

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

shorecliff

‘The Shorecliff Horror and other stories’ is Chapbook number three of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

The Shorecliff Horror

Lovecraft was never really my cat in the first place, not really.  So individual and unusual a creature was he, in fact, that it was hard to imagine him ever having belonged to anyone.

He padded through my door one day a week or so after I first moved into Shorecliff House and seemed to take a liking to the place straight away. He sniffed at the carpets, peered under the furniture, crawled in and out of corners and small spaces I hardly even knew were there and, virtually ignoring me for the entire time, generally took his measure of the whole house. When all of his investigations were complete he found himself a comfortable spot on the window ledge in the drawing room and sat there in the sun all afternoon while I worked at emptying boxes and cleaning floors and getting the place as close to habitable as was possible. I didn’t pay him much attention and he paid me even less. Later that day I wandered through the room again looking for something item or other I’d mislaid and noticed that he’d left his perch and disappeared from the house entirely. I never knew where he went to or where he came from in the first place.

He made his own rules right from the start.

He was never really my cat at all.

 

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

shorecliff

‘The Shorecliff Horror’ is Chapbook number three of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.