After last post’s Lovecraft tale, I’ve decided on a kind of “theme” for this year’s series of Winter Tales: Something a little different.
I’m going to try to share stories where the haunting is some way atypical. Not just the usual suspiciously cheap rentals full of restless spirits, and dusty haunted manors rife with dark family secrets. Well, maybe there will be a few of those, but with a twist.
This time, I have an early story (1915) from A. M. Burrage. who was an extremely profilic writer of short stories in many genres, including romance. He’s best known today for his supernatural tales, including the spooky Christmas ghost story, “Smee,” written under the pen name Ex-Private X.
The story I’m sharing today, “The Fourth Wall,” is quite a bit different from “Smee,” but I think it’s fun, and the haunting is different and clever.
Five people take a cottage in the country for a couple of months starting in December. No, it wasn’t absurdly cheap; it fact it’s perfectly delightful. Almost too delightful.
‘It’s a ripping old place,’ he said; ‘but do you know it seems to me rather self-conscious of being a cottage.’
‘What do you mean?’ Mrs Forran laughed.
‘I mean that everything about it—the furniture and all that—is so very “cottagey”. It seems to keep on shouting at you: “I am a cottage. Everything in me is just right for a cottage.” I don’t express myself very well.’
‘I know,’ she said. ‘You mean this room is, somehow, just a little stagey.’
“A perfect stage cottage,” is what they call it, but if that’s the only complaint they have, it’s not a bad thing. Is it?
A list (with links) of the winter tales I’ve shared in previous years is on my Winter Tales page.
Featured image: Set Design for staging Diary of Satan (by L. Andreev), Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (1922). Source: WikiArt
Comedy/Tragedy Masks Source: Pixabay