For your Halloween pleasure, one of my favorite opening paragraphs in fiction:
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continue upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is one of my favorite horror novels. I reread it every few years; once, I did so while lying in bed running a fairly high fever, which I can only describe as alternately exhilirating and terrifying.
Just as Hill House is one of my favorite novels, Arthur Machen’s “The White People” is one of my favorite short horror stories–an enigmatic descent into a sinister, otherwordly realm through the pages of a young girl’s diary.
All these are the most secret secrets, and I am glad when I remember what they are, and how many wonderful languages I know, but there are some things that I call the secrets of the secrets of the secrets that I dare not think of unless I am quite alone, and then I shut my eyes, and put my hands over them and whisper the word, and the Alala comes. I only do this at night in my room or in certain woods that I know, but I must not describe them, as they are secret woods.
Happy Halloween. Watch out for those ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties.