Spring Break Short Story Recommendations 2021, Part II: “The Personality Cult”

Today’s short story selection, Michael Noonan‘s “The Personality Cult,” comes from Terror House Magazine, an alternative online literary journal that publishes some excellent works from newer authors (although, it should be cautioned, they publish anything, including pieces that are borderline smut; browse with care).  Indeed, two of my Inspector Gerard stories will appear there later this month.  I’ve been reading Terror House Magazine for a couple of years now, and have been impressed with the gems they publish.  “The Personality Cult” is one such precious stone.

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On Ghost Stories

Yesterday’s post about Father Robert Morey’s courageous stand for the unborn really took off.  Thank you to readers for sharing the post, and thanks to those of you who left comments.  Please continue to keep Father Bob in your prayers.  —TPP

It’s Halloween!  Well, at least it’s All Hallow’s Eve Eve, but that’s close enough for some ghoulishly delicious ghost stories.

I love a good ghost story.  The Victorians did the genre best, but many writers since have honed it further, adding their own unique twists and scares.  Even Russell Kirk, the great conservative philosopher, was a fan of ghost stories.  Indeed, his bestselling book was a ghost story.

For the Victorians, ghost stories were told at Christmastime.  This timing, while peculiar to modern readers, makes sense intuitively—Christmas is a time for remembering the past, in part (perhaps especially) our honored dead (just ask Washington Irvingif he comes by to haunt you).  The “ghosts” of departed loved ones linger closely during those long, frosty nights.  The inherent nostalgia of Christmas and the winter season—and bundling up next to a crackling fire—sets the perfect mood for ghostly tales.

Nevertheless, what other time of year can beat Halloween for a good tale of witches and werewolves; of monsters and mummies; of ghouls, goblins, and ghosts?

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Halloween Week!

It’s the week of Halloween!  I love Halloween—it’s second only to Christmas and maybe Thanksgiving for my favorite holiday.  Poor Halloween suffers—as countless others have already noted in casual conversations all month—due to Commercial Christmas’s imperialism, so it doesn’t really get its proper due anymore, but it’s a fun event worth celebrating.

As is typical for Halloween in South Carolina, the crisp, autumnal weather is gone; in its place is uncomfortably warm, sticky mugginess.  As a child, I always dreamed of the spooky, chilly Halloween nights I would read about in books, the kind of night where you really could believe ghosts are tickling your spine, witches are abroad, and skeletons are playing their rib cages as xylophones.

Instead, Halloween in South Carolina is always hot and wet.  As a plump child with glasses, I could never wear a mask for long, as my chubby breathing in the swampy air would fog up my thick glasses, my costume quickly becoming a burdensome chore (mostly for my parents) instead of a joyfully freeing disguise.  It looks like I’ll be treated to lots of back sweat and foggy lenses again this year.

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Friday Reading – Dystopian Short Story

It’s been a good, but long, week—I’m still recovering from a nasty cold that’s lingered for almost three weeks now—and the three-day Labor Day Weekend will be a welcome respite.  Classes are going well, and my Advanced Placement United States History students seem, in the whole, engaged and eager to learn about our nation’s history.  I’m just looking forward to some rest.

So, what better time to skip politics and do a little reading?  I occasionally read short stories from Terror House Magazine, an online literary magazine that will publish pretty much anything.  They run a monthly prize with a $10 purse for the best submission, but otherwise the submissions are (it seems) completely open.

Because anyone can submit pretty much anything, some of the work is basically smut—be forewarned.  But after weeding out the trash, they publish some truly excellent literature.

Such was the case with a chilling little tale, a vision of an America just a blink away:  “Das Woke Capital.”

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