A Halloween horror story: Death and Professor Appleton

Ah! A good old-fashioned Halloween celebration: dancing, bobbing for apples, telling stories, going home drunk, waking up in the morning with a succubus in your bed . . . "Snap-Apple Night" (1833) by Daniel Maclise (1811-1870)

Ah! A good old-fashioned Halloween celebration: dancing, bobbing for apples, telling stories, going home drunk, waking up in the morning with a succubus in your bed . . .
“Snap-Apple Night” (1833) by Daniel Maclise (1811-1870)

‘Tis the day of innocent trick-or-treaters, candy corn, bobbing for apples, ghosts, witches, and malevolent creatures that will treat your children as hors d’oeuvres before they come to eviscerate you. Yep, it’s Halloween, and time for a short story of the supernatural. This year’s tale, submitted for your approval, is Death and Professor Appleton, and because it starts off in a cemetery, you know it’s going to be a grave tale.

This is the third Halloween horror story to appear on the blog. Its predecessors, On Huckman Causeway (2012) and Dead Cellphone (2013), are still up and available for your reading pleasure, if reading this sort of story is a pleasure to you.

Some Halloween traditions have died out, and it's probably just as well

Some Halloween traditions have died out, and it’s probably just as well

Those of you looking for this week’s chapter of Prophecies and Penalties, my serial about a murder investigation on a rather unusual Vermont religious commune: don’t worry. You’re in the right place, but I posted the chapter a day early. You can go to the chapter directly or via the blog post introducing it.

And, finally, one of my other Halloween traditions is to sit down with a story of supernatural that qualifies as a “moldy oldy:” a long-forgotten story that deserves a second look. This year’s is going to be a collection of short stories, Tales of the Uneasy (1911) by Violet Hunt (1862-1942). I’ll have a post up about it in a few days. If you’re looking for something to read now, then I can refer you to my very recent reviews of two recent collections of short stories by late 19th century/early 20th century authors Vernon Lee and Gertrude Atherton, or past moldy oldy reviews of novels by William Hope Hodgson and F. Marion Crawford.


About Brian Bixby

I enjoy history because it helps me understand people. I'm writing fiction for much the same reason.
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5 Responses to A Halloween horror story: Death and Professor Appleton

  1. danagpeleg1 says:

    Thanks, Brian! When I saw the chapter yesterday I thought you may have something up your sleeve for your loyal readers… Boaz, 10 years old, and I decided to celebrate Halloween, alas here in the Holy land, there’s no Trick-or-Treatin’ and I was looking for a good Halloween story. I may use this one!

    • Brian Bixby says:

      If Boaz hasn’t had sex explained to him, my story may not be the best choice, as there is some sexuality in it, nothing all that explicit, but hard to avoid. You can find free e-book versions of M. R. James’s “Ghost-Tales of an Antiquary” which features such stories as “The Mezzotint” and “Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You” and also James’s “More Ghost-Tales of an Antiquary,” which includes “Casting the Runes.” Or, you can find F. Marion Crawford’s “Wandering Ghosts,” which includes 3 great stories: “The Screaming Skull,” “For the Blood is the Life,” and “The Upper Berth.”

      • danagpeleg1 says:

        I’ll look into these stories, for sure. I read the story (not to him), and as much as I had enjoyed it, it wasn’t appropriate for him. Not the explicitly of sex, but the major role it has, the complexity of relationships, and all the cultural references. For adults, it is a great story, and I’m so grateful for you and EJ for taking me to Mt. Auburn last year. It made the story so vivid!

  2. Joshua M Swenson says:


  3. crimsonprose says:

    I see your sense of humour continues to desiccate. Much drier, you’ll be able to market yourself as a coconut.

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