A Lesson in Amateur Witchcraft

haunted house storiesThis morning a pale young man rang the tritone doorbell of my brownstone. I was underslept and unshaved, and the stubble of my anger beard—which has persisted since the night of the violent crones—made me answer the door more irritably than I intended.

“What is it?” I asked the visitor on my stoop.

He was of high-school age, afflicted with cystic acne and skeletally thin. He introduced himself and asked if I was Mr. Rook of the Equinox Society. I nodded and scratched my stubble, impatient with his manners, but my annoyance dissolved when I noticed his alluring bosom.

“Come in,” I said, suspecting at once the reason for his visit…

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The Violent Old Women

033“Last night at 3:27 A.M., I was drawn to my bedroom window by sounds I couldn’t identify.

I wiped the foggy glass to look outside and two old women were fighting in the road. The night was charcoaly dark. Only the women’s shapes were visible until they scuffled near a streetlight’s upside-down cone.

Both were diminutive and thin, with long gray hair that swayed like Spanish moss. They wore ankle-length dresses—one black, the other calico—and necklaces, which appeared to be made of clamshells or glass, that swung and clinked together, threatening to tangle.”

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Dream of the Gnawing Mice

creepy stories“My dream began, as usual, in the infinite field of winter rye. The air was balmy, the sky was gray, and the rye was a rippling, luxurious green. A vernal day—a hopeful day of promissory smoothness.

Confident that I would find the cat and return the creature to its proper hunting grounds, I knelt to begin my descent to the forest, only to find the fragrant, loamy mud had turned to brick.

I scraped my palms and knuckles, ineffectually digging. Three of my fingernails tore away. The hard-baked ground absorbed my dripping blood until the wounds ran dry and there was nothing left to drip.”

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My Words Became Colorful Tongues of Fire

creepy stories“My larynx was a combustion chamber, lighting exhalations from the billows of my lungs. My epiglottis fluttered from the updraft heat.

The flames didn’t burn my esophagus or tongue, and once I had grown accustomed to the pilot-light sensation in my voice box, I experimented with various words and sounds, marveling at the colors that erupted from my mouth.

The sound was like a blowtorch ejaculating feelings. I have always been a synesthete, associating words with colors, but literally producing the effect gave me a surge of otherworldly vigor.”

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Lost in the Inverted Forest

My Dear Strangers,

The young girl’s indescribable cat remains lost. Despite my ordeals with the three-winged pigeon, the box in my stomach, and the dread cloud, I have continued to seek the creature each night in my subconscious, exploring the inverted forest where the cat was last seen.

Notwithstanding the suffocating dig at the start of each dream, I have grown to love the forest’s evergreen fragrance and outlandish beauty.

030The upside-down pines are driven into the ground like spikes, while their great and twisted roots soak moisture from the air. The sky is rolling fog, thick enough for worms. Birds are in the mud, out of sight and darkly chirping.

Twice I have heard a distant mew, as indescribable as the cat itself. It is a fell and fearful sound of mesmerizing power. One would expect such a noise from something massive, like a god, or from something small but awesome, like a split plutonium atom.

I have tracked the cat’s prints in the impressionable fog. I have tunneled into the mud, following the panicked shrieks of underground birds. I have smelled the cat’s excreta, about which even the word “indescribable” is wholly insufficient.

I sense, with anxious hope, that I am closer every night.

But urgency is growing. Two readers have contacted me regarding the cat, which prior to its vanishing had apparently prowled the readers’ nightmares and dreams. They had not been aware of the cat until its disappearance into the inverted forest, at which time their dreamworlds were overrun with vermin.

The cat, it seems, hunted a species of figmental mouse that feeds upon the dreamers’ brightest, sweetest thoughts. At first the notion struck me as creepily adorable, but further research revealed that the joy-nibbling mice—called nachtkauers in the scant references I’ve found—steadily devour the afflicted dreamer’s psyche.

Tales of insomnia, insanity, and suicide abound. I fear the mice will breed unchecked.

The cat must be found.

Look Beyond
William Rook



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The Other William

029My Dear Strangers,

A new door appeared in my house. It is located in the unoccupied bedroom on the second floor, and I have confirmed—by studying photos from my realtor—that the door did not exist when I purchased my brownstone in January.

The room’s wall is plastered brick, the doorframe is painted white, and the door itself is roughhewn wood of an unknown species. The wood smells of quality incense, the way a temple door would smell after decades of worship.

Using the black iron ring pull, I opened the door toward me and jumped backward at the sight of my own reflection.

My reflection jumped, too, but not with mirrored symmetry.

I stared at myself, my self stared back, and then the two of us seemed to realize there were two of us indeed. There was no mirror and no reflection. The doorway divided identical rooms that each contained me.

Was he another William or was I another William? Judging by his fascinated squint—an expression I knew well—the other William appeared to be puzzling over the same perspectival conundrum.

Had I summoned him by opening the door, or had he summoned me by opening a door in his own identical brownstone? Twice we started to talk at precisely the same moment, then stopped to listen when we realized the other was preparing to speak.

I intuitively knew we couldn’t cross the threshold; he would stay there and I would stay here. The other William seemed to understand this, too, and made no attempt to enter my room.

Since neither of us was prepared for the metaphysical implications of our encounter, we eventually stepped forward—warily maintaining eye contact—and simultaneously closed our respective doors.

Wonderstruck and troubled, I returned to my bedroom to discuss my experience with June, the ghost who inhabits my bedroom. She was nowhere to be found. I wrote, “I need you,” on my perpetually foggy window and hoped she’d seek me out as soon as she returned.

Then I took a mug of coffee to my study and read about doppelgängers, feeling more and less alone than I have felt in many weeks.

Look Beyond,
William Rook]

Many Bookstores Have a Secret Shelf

creepy storiesMany bookstores have a shelf that remains hidden even from most of its employees. The books are rarely the same, varying from bookstore to bookstore and often changing, at each location, from visit to visit.

Though initially difficult to see, the shelf becomes delightfully apparent once it is discerned.

Remember, for example, the optical illusion you were shown as a child, which depicted… [continue reading at EquinoxSociety.com]

Gormly and the Dread Cloud

My Dear Strangers,

A mint-scented envelope was left on my study’s desk overnight. Inside was a note from Mr. Gormly, the small man living in my basement.

You may enter the basement.

Mr. Gormly

creepy storiesI was delighted by his cordiality after weeks of hostility and entrenchment, and I wondered if, after all, his heart had been tenderized by the Viscera Perfuma.

Having avoided the basement since Mr. Gormly infested my hair with insects, I descended the stairs slowly with my pocket light aloft.

I approached my tenant’s corner of the basement with optimistic bonhomie, surveying the quilted cobwebs, puddled floor, and spore-blackened joists with eager rediscovery.

I had just begun to notice the peculiar emptiness of the space when I turned a corner and jolted at the sight of an unexpected wall.

“Wall” is not the word. The structure was more of a rounded barricade, rising floor to ceiling and entirely surrounding Mr. Gormly’s quarters.

The basement’s curious emptiness was instantly explained—the barricade had been constructed with bricks, rocks, chunks of wall, old pipes, plaster board, tables and chairs, a ruined upright piano, shovels, lamps, antique signage, and ancient scrap wood that had probably not be used since the brownstone’s construction in 1898.

This was my basement rubbish, cobbled up without permission.

“Gormly!” I exclaimed. “I’m here, come out and face me!”

Clamping an urge to dismantle the wall barehanded, I scanned the basement for a tool—a crowbar or sledgehammer, anything with heft—that would do the most damage.

I had just lighted on coal shovel when the floor began to rumble. My innards quaked, and my attention turned to the pit in the rearmost portion of the room, where a stairway led to the mysterious cellar under the basement.

An envelope shot through a fissure in Gormly’s barricade, whisked past my face, and papercut my cheek. I tore it open and read the note.


Mr. Gormly

Dark, fat smoke billowed from the pit, and yet my eyes did not perceive it. The smoke was pure sound. It was the opposite of white noise—a droning of the void. My thoughts began to suffocate in auditory blindness, and my consciousness was swallowed by the comprehensive black.

I woke an hour later on the kitchen floor. The basement door was locked and the dreadful noise-cloud was nowhere in evidence, aside from tendril-like wisps at the edges of my brain.

Mr. Gormly must have dragged me upstairs. Another envelope was lying on my chest. The note inside read:

Future warnings should be heeded more swiftly.

Mr. Gormly

Look Beyond,
William Rook

The Pigeon’s Last Flight

026“The box I pulled out of my stomach is three inches square—smaller than my original estimation. It is not metal, as I earlier believed, but milk-white bone. The featureless, enameled surface is like that of a polished tooth.

Something heavy is hidden within—I feel a shifting weight when I turn it in my hand—but since the box appears seamless, I have no means of accessing its secret. I will not smash it open. Its contents may be fragile, and my possession of the box has already come at a terrible price.”

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