Julius Long–”The Pale Man” (published 1934) [Ghost Box II] (2018)

SOUNDTRACK: JOHN CARPENTER-“Halloween-Main Title” (1979).

This song is so wonderfully creepy.  Even some 40 years after it was made, it still can give you shivers.

It opens with that piano melody in 10/8 time.  It adds minor key synth chords.  And it keeps going–morphing, changing slowly but never straying far from the original.  It adds intense strings as it progresses.  And all along it has this ticking metronome that is going very fast–much faster than anything else in the song, like a ticking time bomb.

Somewhere in the middle of the song a drum beat is added.  But it’s not so much a drum beat as it is a footstep.  It’s subtle at first–you kind of feel it in there.  You don’t really notice it.  But when the music all drops away at 2:30 to just the piano and the ticking, that footstep is there with you.

Don’t settle for covers or samples.  Don’t accept the version that has the thumping drum right from the start.

Take that late-1970s recording, that old quality, the weird drum footstep sound, it’s all perfect.

It’s the original or nothing.

[READ: October 31, 2018] “The Pale Man”

Just in time for Halloween, from the people who brought me The Short Story Advent Calendar and The Ghost Box. comes Ghost Box II.

This is once again a nifty little box (with a magnetic opening and a ribbon) which contains 11 stories for Halloween.  It is lovingly described thusly:

The Ghost Box returns, like a mummy or a batman, to once again make your pupils dilate and the hair on your arms stand straight up—it’s another collection of individually bound scary stories, edited and introduced by comedian and spooky specialist Patton Oswalt.

There is no explicit “order” to these books; however, Patton Oswalt will be reviewing a book a day on his Facebook page.

Much respect to Oswalt, but I will not be following his order.  So there.

This was the final story that I read in Ghost Box II.  It was short but very cool.

The narrator is staying in a dirty, dingy, disgusting hotel (why is not explained). The staff seems to resent him and the fact that he took room 201, clearly the nicest room in the place.

There’s an old woman in 207, but she hardly leaves the room.

The night that he checked in, another man, remarkably pale, took room 212.  The narrator cannot for the life of him figure out why the pale man wanted to go all the way down there–further down the dark, dank, unlit hallway.

The man never spoke–despite the narrator’s eagerness to speak to  him–although he did offer an enigmatic smile.

After being there a week, the narrator noticed that the pale man had moved to room 211.  This is weird for two reasons.  Why move at all, and if you move why move just one room closer to the nice end of the hall.  Why not take room 202?

The next night the man has moved again into 210.  The narrator never sees him outside of the building and infrequently within the building.

In each subsequent paragraph, the man has moved closer. Indeed, when he gets to room 207, the narrator feels the man cannot possibly go into that room because the old lady is there.  Well, she turns up dead that very night.  And now the pale man has taken her room.

The narrator took ill for a couple of days but when he felt better he was up and about and noticed that the man was now in room 202.  But when the narrator asks the reception clerk about the man, the clerk says there is no one else in the hotel.

Happy Halloween!

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