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I’ll never forget my six or seven year old self digesting all the Edgar Allan Poe stories with a mix of fear and gusto since unrivaled. I was mad to finish every single story. And I did so in the cover of darkness, as all good horrorshow stories should be consumed. The Tell-Tale Heart, Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Masque of the Red Death, and all the rest. Rue Morgue (considered the first modern detective story), I must confess, made me a bit giddy with laughter. I died to know how the murders could be happening…and was so delighted by the outcome, I forgot to be scared.

Poe had an interesting style. Most times I felt less scared than intrigued by his ability to come up with his ideas. BUT…The Cask of Amontillado completely unhinged me. I swear to baby Jesus, I imagined Fortunato’s whispers long after he would have been dead in his prison. When I read, ‘I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up’ I know a little piece of myself died in that sealed up wall, alongside Fortunato. That was my first full-body freakout gooseflesh moment of supreme horror. It has stayed with me these 40-odd years. Sure, I’ve been scared many times when reading horror…but there’s nothing like the first time, the first time you hold your breath and pray like hell you aren’t inexplicably brought into the world of the story your reading. The first time you realize, after several moments of supreme terror, that you will somehow be okay. The first time you see that last stone being put into place in your mind’s eye and you realize there’s a man on the other side of that wall in that cold dark wet place who’s going to sit there jingling his bells until the moment his last breath is sighed. Jesus! The horror!

SO, yeah. Today is that bastard’s birthday. Thanks for the scares, Mr. Poe. Thanks for the humour, and the poetry, and the rest. Not looking too shabby for a man of 207.

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Do yourself a favour…click on the link below:

Read The Cask of Amontillado in its entirety at Gutenberg Library