Category archives: Dreadful Thoughts

Dreadful Thoughts Story Club 16: Pigeons from Hell

Right. It has been pointed out to me, by morbid sorts, that the last two authors this club has fixed its gorgon-like gaze on both exited our weary world by means of suicide. Charlotte Perkins Gilman deciding on an overdose of chloroform. Robert E. Howard (the author of tonight’s tale) choosing the more contemporary option of shooting himself in his car.

While this might seem to indicate a certain perverse obsession with self-destruction on my part, I refer you to our the Dreadful Thoughts record book. Therein we find that out of sixteen, horror-fixated, authors we have but three suicides: the pair listed above, and poor old John Polidori (who, fed up to the gills with show-off Byron getting all the credit, tore into the prussic acid). That’s only 18.75%…proving that, by and large, our chosen folk are mostly jovial types who cartwheel merrily through sylvan glades (chuckling as they go).

So…um…where was I? Oh, yes. Robert E. Howard. “Pigeons From Hell”. The bed-wettingly, scarifying thing we’re actually here to talk about and all that.

Well, off you go. I’ve uncorked the cyanide-tinged Chardonnay. Be with you in a minute.

Dreadful Thoughts: A Dim Yellow Blur That Might Have Been a Face

After flirting (coquettishly) with psychological/feminist/political creepiness during our last club outing, Dreadful Thoughts 16 steels itself to feast on a bloody chunk of visceral, traditional horror.For a tasty change of pace. To serve up the gore-drenched goods, we turn to the sword-wielding titan that was Robert E. Howard. Father of Conan. Apostle of Lovecraft. Wearer of tough-guy hats.

I should add that when last I read the below I filled the days/nights by playing with my AT-AT and wetting the bed (thought not, usually, at the same time). Back then, it shook me to my core…and probably extended the bed-wetting period by another year or two. As a jaded old horror-stuffed cynic, I doubt it now retains quite the same power to affect mind and bladder, or so my wife must hope.

Read it. Return at the appointed hour. Try not to piss yourselves.Please.

“Pigeons From Hell” (html), (html).You’ll also find it in the natty (and cheap) Wordsworth collection The Haunter of the Ring & Other Tales.

Discussion Opens: Friday, 28th January @ 9 p.m. (and runs for seven full days).

Dreadful Thoughts Story Club 15: The Yellow Wallpaper

Right. Littlest one curled up in bed with much-loved teddy and Minnie Mouse blanket? Check. Tasty mid-range Merlot decanting on the worktop? Check. Curry bubbling away satisfactorily? Check. Tube of Pringles on standby (in case of vino-induced munchies)? Check. The spectre of that indefatigable feminist, lecturer, and occasional writer of fiction Charlotte Perkins Gilman standing behind me and watching (with a fierce and critical gaze) each and every word I type? Er…check.

All things are present and correct. Including, hopefully, some lovely punters out there: huddled o’er their keyboards, minds ripe and ready for juicy chatter and natter about one of the creepiest (and most political) short stories of the late 19th Century.

Lash down a nerve-stiffening draught of whatever you’re having yourself. Smooch your loved ones goodbye (just in case). And let’s boogie – like it’s 1892.

Begin.And don’t stop till this day week.

Dreadful Thoughts: The Pattern is Torturing

Now that we’re knee-deep in winter – that “direful monster” who withers all in silence, freezes up frail life and snot-encrusts the populace – it might be uplifting to turn our thoughts to warm & fuzzy things. Like death, horror, madness, despair, terror and loneliness. Yay!

To this end I’m (once again) reanimating the unkillable and beautiful monster that is the “Dreadful Thoughts Story Club”. “What’s that?”, you ignorantly and derisively ask (sneering like a bored teen).I can hear and see you doing this as I’ve hacked into all your webcams and spend my days voyeuristically slobbering over your every facial tic. Well…it’s a short story version of a “book club”, set up by the bould Sinéad Gleeson and myself back in 2008. The mechanics are simple and low-tech. We choose an interesting, weird, or scarifying horror/GothicBroadly defined. short story whose text is freely available to read online. We all pop off and read said story. We return here at a set time to chew over its bones and discuss its bits and bobs. Simple and delicious.

So…for your next assignment, and the “club’s” 15th meeting, I’m setting Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s unforgettably unsettling “The Yellow Wallpaper” as homework. Is it horror? Is it something worse? Does it matter? Return here on Friday evening at 9 pm to chatter and natter about these and other questions. If you can’t make it on Friday, then worry not – for the discussion shall remain open for 7 full (disturbing) days. So just to clarify and summarise…

Story: “The Yellow Wallpaper” (html), (pdf).

Discussion Opens: Friday, 7th January @ 9 p.m.


Dreadful Thoughts Story Club 14: “The Outsider” & “The Rats in the Walls”


Snuffling and shuffling figures pick their ways gingerly o’er awesomely white icescapes. The fallen lie wailing in slush-choked gutters – hips and hopes shattered. Frozen water everywhere, but not a drop to drink (or flush the foetid loo with). Doomed cars spinning hideously into gaping chasms.

January, 2010. A non-stop horror show of chilblains, slight inconvenience, and unwashed stinkiness. God help us all…

But wait. All has not yet turned to hypothermic and frigid despair. There is still warmth (sort of) and joy (er…) left in the online world. For the next 7 days, Dreadful Thoughts will be keeping a Lovecraftian (hell)fire burning. So gather ye round this gnarled, gargantuan and ancient fireplace and let some H. P. sauce warm your brittle bones.

“The Outsider” (html) & “The Rats in the Walls” (html), (html), (pdf).

Thoughts? Reactions? Wild fancies?

Dreadful Thoughts: The Abysmally Unexpected & Grotesquely Unbelievable


January – as the fella said – is a gelid month. A hiemal, brumal, dismal and tenebrous month.

A month when the dankest and most abysmal recesses of the human mind kick into hideous half-life. Spewing forth noxious brain-fumes and strangling our seedlings of hope with worriment. A month of bad thoughts. A month of Dreadful Thoughts.

On that cheery & heartening note let’s bid welcome to 2010 by bolting the doors, stoking the fires, and settling down to read (and chatter about) some choice spooky stories of yore.

For the fourteenth meeting of our Dreadful Thoughts Story Club we finally cast our baleful gazes in the direction of Howard Phillips Lovecraft – the mad ‘n’ bad warlock prince of 20th Century horror. He of the sinuously baroque and esoteric lingo. He of the awesome cosmic dread. He of the…er…not liking the non-white races so much.

Your (double-bill) reading assignments are as follows. See y’all next Monday.


a) “The Outsider” (html)

b) “The Rats in the Walls” (html), (html), (pdf).

Discussion Opens:
Monday, 11th January @ 9 p.m. (and runs for seven full days).

P.S: In case anyone’s staring at this post, waiting for action – the discussion thread is actually located here. Refocus your gazes.

Dreadful Thoughts Story Club 13: The Nature of the Evidence


Suffragette. Modernist innovator. Paddler in the turbulent “stream of consciousness” (a phrase she allegedly coined). May Sinclair was once “one of the most successful and widely known of British women novelists“. And then? Disappearance down that well-trodden path into obscurity. And then? Semi-revival by crusading Feminist scholars. And then? A starring role in this, the thirteenth (shriek!) meeting of our Dreadful Thoughts Story Club.

A 7 day discussion of her steamy & pulsating supernatural bonkbuster Warning: Description may not be remotely accurate.“The Nature of the Evidence” – starts here and starts now.

Well? Off ye go.

Dreadful Thoughts: Edward, There’s Something in the Bed


Right. Enough of this summer (such as it is) lark. Enough flip-flopping about suggestively licking 99s. Enough gambolling through meadows gaily tossing rose petals. The days are shortening and the nights will soon be growing long. Time to get back to the important things in life: horror, madness, wailing & shrieking, sobbing wretchedly. Yes, it’s time for Dreadful Thoughts: Session 13.

Your homework? May Sinclair‘s sex-toplasmic tale of an uncanny ménage à trois: “The Nature of the Evidence” (1923). Read. Think. Make notes. Return here on Thursday for the start of a week-long chat.

Story: “The Nature of the Evidence” (html)

Discussion Opens: Thursday, 20th August @ 9 p.m. (and runs for seven full days).

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