01 Oct 31 HORROR STORIES — “The Clock” (1928)
I’m going to start this list of 31 with the super-short “The Clock”. It’s rendered in the style of a dopey, well-meaning schoolgirl — a sort of turn-of-the-century Jessica Simpson — writing a letter to her aunt in Italy. Of course, this is a woman remembering something that happened — or didn’t happen — twenty years ago. Thus, we’re dealing with one of those sad people who realized life was easiest when they were young and stupid, and so decided to stay that way.
The first paragraph suggests that the aunt’s letter — which the girl is now responding to — contained a mention of some sort of supernatural occurence. It’s clear, however, that the “supernatural activity” was some old houseguest sleepwalking, and bumping into furniture.
So, of course, Little Miss Dopey has to counter with her OWN strange tale. “…you will laugh if this letter reaches you by morning post…” But once you’re finished with the brief 12 paragraphs of this creepy little number, you won’t be laughing. At all.
W.F. Harvey — famous for writing “The Beast With Five Fingers” — was a master at producing spook tales told by narrators who were too dumb to realize the darkness they’d brushed against. This, of course, forces you to fill in WAY more details than are actually there. Or are they, and we’re breathing a sigh of relief that we can see them better than our protagonists? Although, if we heard what Little Miss Dopey hears in the hallway of the abandoned house she’s investigating, would we do anything different than what she does? Sometimes, stupidity if the only shield from the spectral.