(June 27th to 26th)

Format: Triple

…the first thing he saw standing in the verandah was the figure of himself. He had met a similar apparition once before, when he was suffering from overwork and the strain of the hot weather.

‘This is bad—already,’ he said, rubbing his eyes. ‘If the thing slides away from me all in one piece, like a ghost, I shall know it is only my eyes and stomach that are out of order. If it walks—my head is going.’


This is from “At the End of the Passage”, in Life’s Handicap.

Four young men, a doctor, a civil servant, a surveyor, and an engineer, get together each week in the engineer’s house in a remote station in British India, to dine and chat.

Hummil, the engineer, is near the end of his tether, arguing stridently with the others, in a vile temper. He has not slept properly for days, and when he does drop off, he is afflicted by fearful dreams. He has put a spur in his bed to stop himself drifting into the shallow sleep of nightmares. When they return a week later, they find him dead. There are images of horror in the dead eyes.

I walk down a covered alleyway. Butcher’s meat, bananas, oil, that sort of smell’ …‘It’s a lead-coloured steamer, and the sea’s lead-coloured. Perfectly smooth sea—perfectly still ship, except for the engines running, and her waves going off in lines and lines and lines—dull grey’. ‘All this time I know something’s going to happen.’ … ‘Then I hear a thud in the engine-room. Then the noise of machinery falling down—like fire-irons—and then two most awful yells. They’re more like hoots, and I know—I know while I listen—that it means that two men have died as they hooted.


This is from “In the Same Boat” in A Diversity ofr Creatures.

A young man and a young woman are haunted by terrifying recurrent dreams. They know when they are coming, and are powerless to stave them off. At the suggestion of their doctors, they take train journeys together, make friends, and help each other through the crisis time, avoiding the use of drugs. They find that through this mutual help they can escape their horrors. Here the young man is describing his dream.

… it was just then that I was aware of a little grey shadow, as it might have been a snowflake seen against the light, floating at an immense distance in the background of my brain. It annoyed me, and I shook my head to get rid of it. Then my brain telegraphed that it was the forerunner of a swift-striding gloom which there was yet time to escape if I would force my thoughts away from it, as a man leaping for life forces his body forward and away from the fall of a wall. But the gloom overtook me before I could take in the meaning of the message.


This is from “The House Surgeon” in Actions and Reactions.

The narrator has makes friends with a wealthy business-man, who tells him that his fine country house is haunted by a sense of depression which afflicts everyone who enters it. He is asked him down for the weekend to see for himself, and indeed, as he settles into his bedroom, as described here, he feels a fearful sense of gloom.

He discovers that a woman had fallen to her death from that room, and that her sisters had always believed that she had killed herself. He realises that she had probably fallen from the windiw by accident. He persuades the sisters to revisit the fatal room, and they too realise that it must have been an accident. Their sense of gloom, and the depression in the house, is lifted.