Can Such Things Be?

Can Such Things Be?

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Can Such Things Be? by Ambrose Bierce

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326

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Can Such Things Be?

By

5
(1 Review)
Contents:The death of Halpin FrayserThe secret of Macarger's GulchOne summer nightThe moonlit roadA diagnosis of deathMoxon's masterA tough tussleOne of twinsThe haunted valleyA jug of sirupStaley Fleming's hallucinationA resumed identityHazen's brigadeA baby trampThe night-doings at "Deadman's"A story that is untrueBeyond the wallA psychological shipwreckThe middle toe of the right footJohn Mortonson's funeralThe realm of the unrealJohn Bartine's watchA story by a physicianThe damned thingHaita the shepherdAn inhabitant of CarcosaThe Stranger

Book Excerpt

llow survivor near the town of St. Helena, awaiting news and remittances from home, that he had gone gunning and dreaming.

III

The apparition confronting the dreamer in the haunted wood--the thing so like, yet so unlike his mother--was horrible! It stirred no love nor longing in his heart; it came unattended with pleasant memories of a golden past--inspired no sentiment of any kind; all the finer emotions were swallowed up in fear. He tried to turn and run from before it, but his legs were as lead; he was unable to lift his feet from the ground. His arms hung helpless at his sides; of his eyes only he retained control, and these he dared not remove from the lusterless orbs of the apparition, which he knew was not a soul without a body, but that most dreadful of all existences infesting that haunted wood--a body without a soul! In its blank stare was neither love, nor pity, nor intelligence--nothing to which to address an appeal for mercy. "An appeal will not lie," he thought, with an absurd reve

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A collection of ghost stories, most of them 5 to 10 pages, all of them good. Bierce wrote at the turn of the 20th century and his prose is sometimes very ornate, sometimes done in dialect. The stories are interesting in that you often have no idea where the plot is going until the end.

Compared to say, Lovecraft, who wrote linear horror stories that hinted at what was to come then gradually built to an ending, these stories creep up on you and drop you with a thud. Good writing.