Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Freakout

Your festive freak-out before Halloween ...

A bit of mood music.

Some reading material to get into:


For great Victorian-era ghost stories, look no further than Charlotte Riddell. Scholar E.F. Bleiler once called her "the Victorian ghost novelist par excellence," and her stories are both extraordinarily spooky and subtly snarky. Born in Ireland in 1832, she was a prolific writer of supernatural tales—haunted house stories in particular. Though she and her husband often struggled financially, Riddell—who initially wrote under the masculine pen names F.G. Trafford and R.V.M. Sparling—was a popular writer in her time, publishing classic short stories like "The Open Door" and "Nut Bush Farm" along with four supernatural novellas. Today, Riddell's stories feel old-fashioned in the best possible way—they're full of dusty, deserted mansions and ghosts with unfinished business.


The Open Door by Mrs. Margaret Oliphant, 1885

When the narrator’s young son begins raving about an unbearable noise he hears at night outside their Victorian country mansion, everyone thinks the boy is going mad. Except his father, who believes his boy is neither crazy nor lying. Lying in wait at night, he too hears the noise, the most soul-wrenching piteous crying he’s ever heard. It’s coming from the abandoned ruins of the old servant’s quarters. It isn’t easy to recruit friends and servants to track down the source of the horrible noise, but if he’s to save his son from “brain-fever,” he must uncover the secret of the abandoned cottage.

Thar she blows!

Fireship of Chaleur Bay 

According to the city of Bathurst, in New Brunswick, Canada, tens of thousands of people have seen the apparition of a ship that appears to be on fire cruising Chaleur Bay, located between New Brunswick and Quebec. The apparition usually appears at night, sometimes hovering for hours in a single spot and other times skimming across the waves. Viewing it by telescope brings out no details. Scientists have explained the sight, which continues to be seen today, as being caused by St. Elmo's Fire (an electricity phenomenon), inflammable gas released beneath the sea, or phosphorescent marine life. Locals have connected the story to various shipwrecks in the region, including the story of a Portuguese captain who abused local Indians. One woman on Heron Island, a Mrs. Pettigrew, even reported being approached by the specter of a burned sailor who came to her farm house for help. When she turned to rush inside, it brushed past her and she discovered the figure was legless.

Ghost stories from all fifty states:

In 1891, just a year after thousands of spectators converged on Pikeville to see the last hanging in the trial of the Hatfields and the McCoys, a newlywed named Octavia Hatcher died. Octavia had fallen into a depression shortly after her only child had died in infancy, and then slipped into a fatal coma. Since it was a hot spring, her husband wasted no time in burying her. But soon doctors began to notice a strange—but not lethal—sleeping sickness spreading through the town. Panicked, her husband exhumed her casket and found its inner lining shredded with claw marks and his wife’s face frozen in a mask of terror. Wracked with guilt, he reburied Octavia and had a tall stone statue of her placed above her grave. Locals say they can still hear Octavia crying, and that once a year—on the anniversary of her death—the statue rotates and turns its back on Pikeville.

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