Some people see things that others cannot. Tales of Mystery and Imagination. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” (H.P. Lovecraft).

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer: Maese Pérez el Organista

Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer


En Sevilla, en el mismo atrio de Santa Inés, y mientras esperaba que comenzase la Misa del Gallo, oí esta tradición a una demandadera del convento.
Como era natural, después de oírla, aguardé impaciente que comenzara la ceremonia, ansioso de asistir a un prodigio.
Nada menos prodigioso, sin embargo, que el órgano de Santa Inés, ni nada más vulgar que los insulsos motetes que nos regaló su organista aquella noche.
Al salir de la misa, no pude por menos de decirle a la demandadera con aire de burla:
-¿En qué consiste que el órgano de maese Pérez suena ahora tan mal?
-¡Toma! -me contestó la vieja-. En que éste no es el suyo.
-¿No es el suyo? ¿Pues qué ha sido de él?
-Se cayó a pedazos, de puro viejo, hace una porción de años.
-¿Y el alma del organista?
-No ha vuelto a parecer desde que colocaron el que ahora le substituye.
Si a alguno de mis lectores se les ocurriese hacerme la misma pregunta después de leer esta historia ya sabe por qué no se ha continuado el milagroso portento hasta nuestros días.



- I -

-¿Veis ése de la capa roja y la pluma blanca en el fieltro, que parece que trae sobre su justillo todo el oro de los galeones de Indias; aquel que baja en este momento de su litera para dar la mano a esa otra señora, que después de dejar la suya se adelanta hacia aquí, precedida de cuatro pajes con hachas? Pues ése es el marqués de Moscoso, galán de la condesa viuda de Villapineda. Se dice que antes de poner sus ojos sobre esta dama había pedido en matrimonio a la hija de un opulento señor; mas el padre de la doncella, de quien se murmura que es un poco avaro… Pero, ¡calle!, en hablando del ruin de Roma, cátale aquí que asoma. ¿Veis aquél que viene por debajo del arco de San Felipe, a pie, embozado en una capa obscura, y precedido de un solo criado con una linterna? Ahora llega frente al retablo.
»¿Reparasteis, al desembozarse para saludar a la imagen, la encomienda que brilla en su pecho?
»A no ser por ese noble distintivo, cualquiera le creería un lonjista de la calle de Culebras… Pues ése es el padre en cuestión; mirad cómo la gente del pueblo le abre paso y le saluda.
»Toda Sevilla le conoce por su colosal fortuna. Él sólo tiene más ducados de oro en sus arcas que soldados mantiene nuestro señor el rey Don Felipe, y con sus galeones podría formar una escuadra suficiente a resistir a la del Gran Turco.
»Mirad, mirad ese grupo de señores graves: ésos son los caballeros veinticuatro. ¡Hola, hola! También está aquí el flamencote, a quien se dice que no han echado ya el guante los señores de la cruz verde merced a su influjo con los magnates de Madrid… Éste no viene a la iglesia más que a oír música… No, pues si maese Pérez no le arranca con su órgano lágrimas como puños bien se puede asegurar que no tiene su alma en su almario, sino friéndose en las calderas de Pedro Botero… ¡Ay vecina! Malo…, malo… Presumo que vamos a tener jarana; yo me refugio en la iglesia, pues, por lo que veo, aquí van a andar más de sobra los cintarazos que los Paternóster. Mirad, Mirad: las gentes del duque de Alcalá doblan la esquina de la plaza de San Pedro, y por el callejón de las Dueñas se me figura que he columbrado a las del de Medinasidonia… ¿No os lo dije?
»Ya se han visto, ya se detienen unos y otros, sin pasar de sus puestos… Los grupos se disuelven… Los ministriles, a quienes en estas ocasiones apalean amigos y enemigos, se retiran… Hasta el señor asistente, con su vara y todo, se refugia en el atrio… ¡Y luego dicen que hay justicia! Para los pobres…

Mary Austin: The Readjustment

Mary Austin


Emma Jossylin had been dead and buried three days. The sister who had come to the funeral had taken Emma's child away with her, and the house was swept and aired; then, when it seemed there was least occasion for it, Emma came back. The neighbor woman who had nursed her was the first to know it. It was about seven of the evening, in a mellow gloom: the neighbor woman was sitting on her own stoop with her arms wrapped in her apron, and all at once she found herself going along the street under an urgent sense that Emma needed her. She was half-way down the block before she recollected that this was impossible, for Mrs. Jossylin was dead and buried, but as soon as she came opposite the house she was aware of what had happened. It was all open to the summer air; except that it was a little neater, not otherwise than the rest of the street. It was quite dark; but the presence of Emma Jossylin streamed from it and betrayed it more than a candle. It streamed out steadily across the garden, and even as it reached her, mixed with the smell of the damp mignonette, the neighbor woman owned to herself that she had always known Emma would come back.

"A sight stranger if she wouldn't," thought the woman who had nursed her. "She wasn't ever one to throw off things easily."

Emma Jossylin had taken death, as she had taken everything in life, hard. She had met it with the same hard, bright, surface competency that she had presented to the squalor of the encompassing desertness, to the insuperable commonness of Sim Jossylin, to the affliction of her crippled child; and the intensity of her wordless struggle against it had caught the attention of the townspeople and held it in a shocked, curious awe. She was so long a-dying, lying there in the little low house, hearing the abhorred footsteps going about her house and the vulgar procedure of the community encroach upon her like the advances of the sand wastes on an unwatered field.

For Emma had always wanted things different, wanted them with a fury of intentness that implied offensiveness in things as they were. And the townspeople had taken offence, the more so because she was not to be surprised in any inaptitude for their own kind of success. Do what you could, you could never catch Emma Jossylin in a wrapper after three o'clock in the afternoon. And she would never talk about the child—in a country where so little ever happened that even trouble was a godsend if it gave you something to talk about. It was reported that she did not even talk to Sim. But there the common resentment got back at her. If she had thought to effect anything with Sim Jossylin against the benumbing spirit of the place, the evasive hopefulness, the large sense of leisure that ungirt the loins, if she still hoped somehow to get away with him to some place for which by her dress, by her manner, she seemed forever and unassailably fit, it was foregone that nothing would come of it. They knew Sim Jossylin better than that. Yet so vivid had been the force of her wordless dissatisfaction that when the fever took her and she went down like a pasteboard figure in the damp, the wonder was that nothing toppled with her. And as if she too had felt herself indispensable, Emma Jossylin had come back.

Enrique Anderson Imbert: El suicida

Enrique Anderson Imbert


Al pie de la Biblia abierta -donde estaba señalado en rojo el versículo que lo explicaría todo- alineó las cartas: a su mujer, al juez, a los amigos. Después bebió el veneno y se acostó.

Nada. A la hora se levantó y miró el frasco. Sí, era el veneno.

¡Estaba tan seguro! Recargó la dosis y bebió otro vaso. Se acostó de nuevo. Otra hora. No moría. Entonces disparó su revolver contra la sien. ¿Qué broma era ésa? Alguien -¿pero quién, cuándo?- alguien le había cambiado el veneno por agua, las balas por cartuchos de fogueo. Disparó contra la sien las otras cuatro balas. Inútil. Cerró la Biblia, recogió las cartas y salió del cuarto en momentos en que el dueño del hotel, mucamos y curiosos acudían alarmados por el estruendo de los cinco estampidos.

Al llegar a su casa se encontró con su mujer envenenada y con sus cinco hijos en el suelo, cada uno con un balazo en la sien.

Tomó el cuchillo de la cocina, se desnudó el vientre y se fue dando cuchilladas. La hoja se hundía en las carnes blandas y luego salía limpia como del agua. Las carnes recobraban su lisitud como el agua después que le pescan el pez.

Se derramó nafta en la ropa y los fósforos se apagaban chirriando.

Corrió hacia el balcón y antes de tirarse pudo ver en la calle el tendal de hombres y mujeres desangrándose por los vientres acuchillados, entre las llamas de la ciudad incendiada.

Hans Christian Andersen: Skyggen

Hans Christian Andersen by Christian Albrecht Jensen
Hans Christian Andersen by Christian Albrecht Jensen

I de hede Lande, der kan rigtignok Solen brænde! Folk blive ganske mahognibrune; ja i de allerhedeste Lande brændes de til Negre, men det var nu kun til de hede Lande, en lærd Mand var kommen fra de kolde; der troede han nu at han kunde løbe om, ligesom der hjemme, jo det blev han snart vant fra. Han og alle fornuftige Folk maatte blive inde, Vindues-Skodder og Døre bleve lukkede den hele Dag; det saae ud som hele Huset sov eller der var ingen hjemme. Den smalle Gade med de høie Huse, hvor han boede, var nu ogsaa bygget saaledes at Solskinnet fra Morgen til Aften maatte ligge der, det var virkeligt ikke til at holde ud! - Den lærde Mand fra de kolde Lande, det var en ung Mand, en klog Mand, han syntes, han sad i en gloende Ovn; det tog paa ham, han blev ganske mager, selv hans Skygge krøb ind, den blev meget mindre end hjemme, Solen tog ogsaa paa den. - De levede først op om Aftenen, naar Solen var nede.
Det var ordentlig en Fornøielse at see paa; saasnart Lyset blev bragt ind i Stuen, strakte Skyggen sig heelt op ad Væggen, ja saa gar hen ad Loftet, saa lang gjorde den sig, den maatte strække sig for at komme til Kræfter. Den Lærde gik ud paa Altanen, for at strække sig der, og altsom Stjernerne kom frem i den deilige klare Luft, var det for ham, som kom han tillive igjen. Paa alle Altaner i Gaden, og i de varme Lande har hvert Vindue en Altan, kom Folk frem, for Luft maa man have, selv om man er vant til at være mahogni! Der blev saa levende oppe og nede. Skomagere og Skræddere, alle Folk fløttede ud paa Gaden, der kom Bord og Stol, og Lyset brændte, ja over tusind Lys brændte, og den ene talte og den anden sang, og Folk spadserede, Vognene kjørte, Æslerne gik: klingelingeling! de har Klokker paa; der blev Liig begravede med Psalmesang, Gadedrengene skjød med Troldkjællinger, og Kirkeklokkerne ringede, jo der var rigtig nok levende nede i Gaden. Kun i det ene Huus, som laa ligeoverfor hvor den fremmede lærde Mand boede, var der ganske stille; og dog boede der Nogen, for der stod paa Altanen Blomster, de groede saa deiligt i den Solhede, og det kunde de ikke, uden at de bleve vandede, og Nogen maatte jo vande dem; Folk maatte der være. Døren derovre kom ogsaa halv op ud paa Aftenen, men der var mørkt derinde, i det mindste i det forreste Værelse, dybere inde fra lød Musik. Den fremmede lærde Mand syntes, den var ganske mageløs, men det kunde nu ogsaa gjerne være at han kun bildte sig det ind, for han fandt Alting mageløst derude i de varme Lande, naar der kun ingen Sol havde været. Den Fremmedes Vert sagde at han ikke vidste, hvem der havde leiet Gjenboens Huus, man saae jo ingen Folk og hvad Musiken angik, syntes han, at den var gruelig kjedelig. "Det er ligesom om En sad og øvede sig paa et Stykke, han ikke kan komme ud af, altid det samme Stykke. "Jeg faaer det dog ud!" siger han nok, men han faaer det dog ikke ud hvor længe han spiller."
En Nat vaagnede den Fremmede, han sov for aaben Altandør, Gardinet foran den løftede sig i Vinden, og han syntes at der kom en forunderlig Glands fra Gjenboens Altan, alle Blomsterne skinnede som Flammer, i de deiligste Farver, og midt imellem Blomsterne stod en slank, yndig Jomfru, det var som om ogsaa hun lyste; det skar ham virkeligt i Øinene, han lukkede dem nu ogsaa saa forfærdelig meget op og kom lige af Søvnen; i et Spring var han paa Gulvet, ganske sagte kom han bag Gardinet, men Jomfruen var borte, Glandsen var borte; Blomsterne skinnede slet ikke, men stode meget godt, som altid; Døren var paa klem, og dybt inde klang Musiken saa blød og deilig, man kunde ordentlig falde hen i søde Tanker derved. Det var dog ligesom en Trolddom og hvem boede der? Hvor var den egentlige Indgang? Hele Stue-Etagen var Boutik ved Boutik, og der kunde Folk jo dog ikke altid løbe igjennem.

Woody Allen: Tails of Manhattan

Woody Allen


Two weeks ago, Abe Moscowitz dropped dead of a heart attack and was reincarnated as a lobster. Trapped off the coast of Maine, he was shipped to Manhattan and dumped into a tank at a posh Upper East Side seafood restaurant. In the tank there were several other lobsters, one of whom recognized him. “Abe, is that you?” the creature asked, his antennae perking up.

“Who’s that? Who’s talking to me?” Moscowitz said, still dazed by the mystical slam-bang postmortem that had transmogrified him into a crustacean.

“It’s me, Moe Silverman,” the other lobster said.

“O.M.G.!” Moscowitz piped, recognizing the voice of an old gin-rummy colleague. “What’s going on?”

“We’re reborn,” Moe explained. “As a couple of two-pounders.”

“Lobsters? This is how I wind up after leading a just life? In a tank on Third Avenue?”

“The Lord works in strange ways,” Moe Silverman explained. “Take Phil Pinchuck. The man keeled over with an aneurysm, he’s now a hamster. All day, running at the stupid wheel. For years he was a Yale professor. My point is he’s gotten to like the wheel. He pedals and pedals, running nowhere, but he smiles.”


Moscowitz did not like his new condition at all. Why should a decent citizen like himself, a dentist, a mensch who deserved to relive life as a soaring eagle or ensconced in the lap of some sexy socialite getting his fur stroked, come back ignominiously as an entrée on a menu? It was his cruel fate to be delicious, to turn up as Today’s Special, along with a baked potato and dessert. This led to a discussion by the two lobsters of the mysteries of existence, of religion, and how capricious the universe was, when someone like Sol Drazin, a schlemiel they knew from the catering business, came back after a fatal stroke as a stud horse impregnating cute little thoroughbred fillies for high fees. Feeling sorry for himself and angry, Moscowitz swam about, unable to buy into Silverman’s Buddha-like resignation over the prospect of being served thermidor.

At that moment, who walked into the restaurant and sits down at a nearby table but Bernie Madoff. If Moscowitz had been bitter and agitated before, now he gasped as his tail started churning the water like an Evinrude.

Santiago Eximeno: Primero

Santiago Eximeno


¡Primero las mujeres y los niños!, gritó el capitán, y los tiburones exhibieron sus mejores sonrisas mientras esperaban.

Robert Murray Gilchrist: The Holocaust

Robert Murray Gilchrist


My husband and master the bishop being called to Court, I journeyed yesterday to Broadlow. This morning my cousin’s second lady vehemently desired me to tell all I know of her who once held the place she adorns so brightly. We were in the still room, and the bantlings played on the floor, pulling the buckles of their mother’s shoes and croodling like culvers. The request was over-sudden; to gain time, I opened the green lattice, and looking out to the herb garden, said that little Bab herself had mounted by Neptune in the empty tank, and that in the sun-haze her countenance bore a plain likeness to one dead. And the row of clarifying waters in the window span round and round, and I swooned in madam’s arms. But she consoled me, and now to her will, I write the following history, in trust that my lord may never be permitted to read. The fustian preface I will omit; ‘tis but a record, unprofitable to the would-be adventurer, of life among the Barbary Rovers, of voyagers to Feginny, of the saving of a ship’s crew. Its six volumes are in the library, bound in pigskin, and revered by all. Of my cousin’s three years in Bologna – years devoted to the joys of Italian gallantry – little is known, for on that score he hath ever been silent.

Thirteen years ago he returned for good – even then scarce more than a youth – with the Princess Bice. As you know report tells that ere he travelled to Italy he and I had had love passages. The grandams teased me, and (for I am assured, madam, that you have heard) once I stole away from Broadlow for a month, and came back lightened. We were close akin, and Bible patriarchs enjoyed their handmaids…When news came of his marriage I prayed for a renewal of his ardour; but at the first sight of the Princes Bice, as she sat at his side in the big chariot, I knew that all hope was unavailing. Yet she was not more beautiful than you, dear lady; indeed her face lacked the mysterious and tender charm that shines from a woman whom nature has intended for motherhood. Where you are snowy, she was olive, her black her was dull and lifeless, not all quick and gold. If at any time Bab be taken into a darkened room, and the curtain lifted aback of her head some faint resemblance may be seen. Once, peeping unawares to the princess Bice’s dressing-closet, I saw her naked afront of the mirror – her wondrous hair unbound and tumbling to the floor. At my appearance her body flushed and methought I watched a rashlight burning in a grove of firs.

Her manner was haughty; at first it seemed as she mistrusted me, looking from her spouse to me and back again with some suspicion. He leaned on her shoulder, and it was as though I head, ‘This is she – was not I foolish? nay, sweetheart, trust me!’ The roses I had greeted her with were out carelessly aside.

My lord took my hand with ancient friendliness, ‘Diana is your gentlewoman,’ he said. ‘She will conduct you to the chamber.’

Gilberto J. Signoret: La agonía




Un aturdimiento lo despierta. Abre los ojos. Es lo mismo de siempre. Siempre lo mismo. Siente su lecho. Mira hacia arriba y ve el techo bajar Como antes. Siente el piso subir. Como siempre. Es la insatisfacción, se dice. Y ve las paredes. Cuatro aún Como antes Cuatro de múltiples facetas. Pero hay una puerta. Su vida exterior es mediocre. No vale la pena. La puerta se abrió para dejarlo salir y se reabre para dejarlo entrar. Es lo mismo; el techo que baja y el piso que sube, cuatro paredes que se acercan. Duerme. Un sobresalto lo despierta. Todo igual. Cuatro paredes que se estrechan y dos planchas que se acercan. Es la soledad, se dice. La puerta es pequeña. Pero sale, y su vida mediocre retranscurre. La puerta se abre. Casi no cabe. Pero entra. Las paredes y las planchas se le acercan más aún. Como antes. Es el cansancio de la noche, se dice. Pesadilla. Despierta gritando. Se acercan más y más. Con dificultad logra salir Mediocre vida de perro. Entra, ayudado por la desesperación, dejando carnes y alma afuera, de tan chica que es la puerta. Toma el cráneo en sus manos, se recuesta y palpa el techo, el piso, una pared, otra, la otra y otra más. Son suaves. Es la agonía, se dice. Abandona la mente. Abandona la tierra. Abandona la vida. La tumba se cierra al fin.

Ambrose Bierce: The Isle of Pines

Ambrose Bierce


For many years there lived near the town of Gallipolis , Ohio , an old man named Herman Deluse. Very little was known of his history, for he would neither speak of it himself nor suffer others. It was a common belief among his neighbors that he had been a pirate - if upon any better evidence than his collection of boarding pikes, cutlasses, and ancient flintlock pistols, no one knew. He lived entirely alone in a small house of four rooms, falling rapidly into decay and never repaired further than was required by the weather. It stood on a slight elevation in the midst of a large, stony field overgrown with brambles, and cultivated in patches and only in the most primitive way. It was his only visible property, but could hardly have yielded him a living, simple and few as were his wants. He seemed always to have ready money, and paid cash for all his purchases at the village stores roundabout, seldom buying more than two or three times at the same place until after the lapse of a considerable time. He got no commendation, however, for this equitable distribution of his patronage; people were disposed to regard it as an ineffectual attempt to conceal his possession of so much money. That he had great hoards of ill-gotten gold buried somewhere about his tumble-down dwelling was not reasonably to be doubted by any honest soul conversant with the facts of local tradition and gifted with a sense of the fitness of things.

On the 9th of November, 1867, the old man died; at least his dead body was discovered on the 10th, and physicians testified that death had occurred about twenty-four hours previously - precisely how, they were unable to say; for the post-mortem examination showed every organ to be absolutely healthy, with no indication of disorder or violence. According to them, death must have taken place about noonday, yet the body was found in bed. The verdict of the coroner’s jury was that he “came to his death by a visitation of God.” The body was buried and the public administrator took charge of the estate.

A rigorous search disclosed nothing more than was already known about the dead man, and much patient excavation here and there about the premises by thoughtful and thrifty neighbors went unrewarded. The administrator locked up the house against the time when the property, real and personal, should be sold by law with a view to defraying, partly, the expenses of the sale.

The night of November 20 was boisterous. A furious gale stormed across the country, scourging it with desolating drifts of sleet. Great trees were torn from the earth and hurled across the roads. So wild a night had never been known in all that region, but toward morning the storm had blown itself out of breath and day dawned bright and clear. At about eight o’clock that morning the Rev. Henry Galbraith, a well-known and highly esteemed Lutheran minister, arrived on foot at his house, a mile and a half from the Deluse place. Mr. Galbraith had been for a month in Cincinnati . He had come up the river in a steamboat, and landing at Gallipolis the previous evening had immediately obtained a horse and buggy and set out for home. The violence of the storm had delayed him over night, and in the morning the fallen trees had compelled him to abandon his conveyance and continue his journey afoot.

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Tales of Mystery and Imagination

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