Derleth, August. “Drifting Snow.” The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories, by Alan Ryan, Penguin, 1989, pp. 311-321.
Derleth’s The Drifting Snow shows a haunting ordeal of being faced with the unknown and trying to remain ignorant of it. Derleth opens with Aunt Mary scolding Clodetta that the window is to remain undrawn. Her husband Ernest apologizes for Aunt Mary’s senile lecturing, but Clodetta admits that their maybe some truth to Mary’s equivocated claims as she admits to being seemingly drawn towards the window.
Henry fails to see what all the fuss is about regarding the window and when he pulls the curtain back there are people standing outside amidst a nasty blizzard. Aunt Mary refuses to let anyone go outside for those figures are supposedly not human. She recalls the story of the tragic death of a servant who froze to death out of the snow.
She has since been haunting them, emerging from the snow and calling out for them to crawl towards their deaths. Aunt Mary’s pleas fall on deaf ears from Henry who is lured out only to be found dead later. The story being from Clodetta’s perspective shows the desire for Aunt Mary’s claims to be false and being frightened by learning what true horror lies in the snow.
So I want to give a shout out to The Horror Of It All blogspot because while I found this tale interesting, I found it much more enjoyable as the Vampire Tales #4 magazine comic. There it really makes the visuals really eccentric and creates really vivid black and white images.
This tale is (Don’t say it, please you still have time to stop now) really chilling (Ba-dum tss). As a warm weather person I’m more terrified that anyone would even consider opening the window when it’s a blizzard outside. This home ain’t gonna heat itself Clodetta. This is the one tale I read that really captured the hypnotic allure element of the fanged creatures and honestly it plays into the horror well. I mean going against the un-dead seems pretty difficult but to do so when they can manipulate my wits end then that just feels like cheating. It is a scary tale of something ominous slowly approaching and being helpless to avoid it’s wrath.
The Damned Thing
Bierce, Ambrose. “The Damned Thing” Dark Descent, by David G. Hartwell, Grafton Books, 1992, pp. 880-887.
The Damned Thing features a counsel of men as they attempt to determine whether claims of an invisible beasts are ramblings of a madman or evidence of a disturbing threat. In a dimly candle lit cabin, eight men gather around the corpse of Hugh Morgan. Entering the room is William Harker who is sworn in to aide in an inquest on the deceased Hugh Morgan.
Harker reveals that he had been near Morgan around his time of death as he both visiting to shoot and fish but also to study the reclusive man to inspire his short stories. During a hunting trip, Morgan and Harker had been spooked by what Morgan refers to as “that damned thing”. Morgan shoots at nothing but is eventually in his distressful state appears to be mutilated by thin air. Before Harker can aide, the man is already dead.
The other men begin to perceive Harker as psychotic, but Harker assures that Morgan’s journals would point to otherwise. The journals tells how Morgan is in fear of something of an unperceivable colored beast and that Harker is a rational man who can better judge Morgan’s own sanity.
“The Ultraviolet monster isn’t real, the ultraviolet monster can’t hurt you” I NEED A TALK WITH MY THERAPIST! But in all seriousness can we all agree that an invisible monster would be terrifying. You always want to know thy enemy but imagine trying to run or hide from something you have no reference to where it is besides maybe the environment. They should make a movie about a monster that you can’t see, imagine the peril of pretty much running around blindfolded while some ominous unknown horror hunts you down……. wait.
It’s a creepy premise and this short story does a great job of playing with the unknown. You yourself never know to trust the validity of these claims or what exactly happened. It’s a scary thought that you could witness something horrific, and no body is going to believe you about it.
James, M.R.. “The Ash-Tree” Dark Descent, by David G. Hartwell, Grafton Books, 1992, pp. 40-49.
The Ash-Tree is a story of retribution as a victim of a witch trial uses a dastardly form of black magic that causes Richards and his ancestors years of suffering. Sir Richard inherited the estate of Castrinham, a large home with a terrible history near Suffolk. Castrinham was home to many witch trials committed by Matthew, the Deputy Sheriff and Richard’s relative. One such trial was held against Mrs. Mothersole, who is defended by farmers in the village. Sir Matthew gives a scathing testimony that he’s spotting her among the tall branches of his ash tree cutting twigs at twilight.
This is enough for Mothersole to be executed and she is hung. During the execution, Mothersole is teething with anger and states how “there will be guests at the hall”. Sir Matthew is found dead, his body contorted and skin blackened.. Richard grows paranoid about the ash tree miraculously tapping at his window and encounters some sort of creatures in his room. Richard is found dead, a gardener examines the tree but drops his lantern. The tree is set ablaze as the horrific sight of gigantic spiders emerging from the flames revealing the corpse of Mothersole within the ash tree.
I guess it’s important to remember that snitches get… the remains of their corpse stitched together. I felt that the 2nd generation stuff was a little unnecessary, why not keep it simple and just have the townsfolk who discovered the body as discover the secret of the tree?
This is one of those that if there’s a deeper meaning than it quite frankly has alluded me. I won’t deny that a witch cursing you and having cat-sized spiders come after you isn’t a scary thought but is the cheap thrill all this tale has to offer. Usually with a curse the person is receiving that curse because they where arrogant or vain or superficial or [enter negative trait]. However, in this story that’s not the case at all. He calls her out for being a witch and yeah he was kind of right about that wasn’t he. So while the story is shallow, it undeniably rattles my bones… I wouldn’t want to be the victim of this tale and you’re a liar if you’d say this sounds like a good time. Read this tale if your in need of motivating yourself to come up with a better excuse to get out of jury duty, it might pay off in the long run.
Featured Fright Vampyr and California Angel:
So in sort of an ironic twist or serendipitous chain of events, a few days back I covered The Vampyre and other short stories about other draculas but if you liked that 18 Cinema Lane has you covered with a film review of Vampyr. There’s also a great post on California Angel. I’d recommend checking these out if you like Spooky media or reading which, I mean if you made it this far I would feel safe to assume that’s the case. Help Sally over at 18 Cinema Lane get 150+ WordPress followers be that super cool guy or gal that helps that happen.
Thanks for stopping by everyone, know if you don’t mind me I’m gonna go play in the snow!