Monday, October 15, 2012

Tales: A Predicament


(originally published November 1838 in Baltimore American Museum)

A rather sarcastic instructional essay about how to write a horror story. It is an introduction of sorts to “A Predicament.”

(originally published as “The Scythe of Time” November 1838 in Baltimore American Museum)

Companion to “How to Write a Blackwood Article”. Signora Psyche Zenobia, the female narrator of the story, is out walking with her tiny tiny poodle Diana (five inches tall) and her tiny tiny servant Pompey (three feet tall). They end up in a cathedral and climb the stairs up to the steeple. Zenobia then sees an opening and desires to stick her head through it, which she does, using Pompey as a footstool. She realizes too late that the opening is part of a large clock and that the minute hand has begun to decapitate her. It does so gradually – being a minute hand, it does not travel all that fast – and Zenobia generously describes the various sensations. Finally her head falls off, landing in the street below, and she is able to leave the opening and move around freely again. But Pompey flees from her in terror, and she finds that while she had been stuck, something awful had happened to the tiny Diana...

Summaries written by Taylor Colegrove, May 2011. Titles link to the full texts; "A Predicament" is included entirely within the essay.

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