In anticipation of Friday the 13th, AMACOM staffers have been discussing their favorite encounters with horror stories. Below are just a few of the macabre tales that we’ve enjoyed (or been scarred by) over the years. Share your most memorable eerie reads with us in the comments!
A few weeks ago I read a news story about a cat called Bart that literally crawled out of its grave. The cat was hit by a car, and the owner, thinking it was dead, buried Bart in the backyard. The next day, the cat crawled out of the grave, covered in dirt and injured, but very much alive.
The story reminded me of one of my favorite Stephen King books, Pet Sematary. King said that the inspiration for the book was the time when he and his family were living on a particularly busy and dangerous stretch of road. So many pets were killed on that road that the neighborhood kids built a small pet cemetery in the woods. His daughter buried her cat there when it was hit by a car. What terrified the master of terror was that his two year old son Owen was almost hit by a car on this road.
Now back to the tough little cat. The owner took him to the veterinarian and the cat is recovering nicely, and so far doesn’t show any signs of being a zombie or demonic possession. —Irene Majuk, Director of Publicity
In my last year of grad school, I took a course called “Literature of the Supernatural,” in which we examined texts with various elements of the supernatural from the Renaissance to the 21st century (yes, there was a very long reading list). We read Polidori’s The Vampyre, Le Fanu’s Carmilla, Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, several works by Poe, and many others, but the most disturbing piece (although not necessarily a horror story) that I read that semester was a short story by M.R. James called “The Mezzotint.” Alone in my apartment on a dark, wintry evening, I struggled to read the rest of the tales in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. —Julia Huschke, Sales & Marketing Intern
While many books have disturbed me—the hobbling scene from Stephen King’s Misery tops that list—the only book to scare me was The Amityville Horror, which I read when I was 12. Part of it I read while in a chair in my backyard on a sunny summer afternoon, and I might as well have been in a candlelit tomb. It scared me even when I wasn’t reading it. One night I was going to bed when I looked into my father’s office, which adjoined our family room. In the dark windows I saw two glowing red eyes like the demonic piggy eyes in the book. I went stone cold before realizing they weren’t eyes. They were the reflection of the LED clock on father’s desk. Nonetheless, I watched the latest movie version, and I had to turn the DVD off halfway through when the Ju-on-like girl was crawling on the ceiling.There are some images you just don’t want in your head. Eddie Murphy had it right. As much as I was enjoying the book, at the first “Get out!” I should have said to myself, “Too bad we can’t stay, baby.”—Stephen S. Power, Senior Editor
I didn’t know anything about Stephen King when I first read ‘Salem’s Lot, but it scared me in an extremely visceral way. I always loved horror stories and books, but I felt removed from them as a reader. However, the setting and characters in ‘Salem’s Lot were so ordinary that for the first time I felt like I was really in the story. While the idea of returning to your small home town and coming to the realization that everybody, young and old, is turning into vampires may be preposterous, King somehow made it feel “real” rather than gothic or silly. King has often said this book, his second published novel, is his favorite and I can understand why. —Barry Richardson, Senior Development Editor
It’s been many years, but anything by Lovecraft is among my horror book favorites. Also, Dracula, which has to be at the top of my list, ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, The Midwich Cuckoos and The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham, and I am Legend by Richard Matheson. Not a horror book per se, but one of the darkest and most twisted novels I’ve read in many years is something I picked up at BEA last year: Hold the Dark by William Giraldi. And a great title I saw recently: Sick Bastards. Unfortunately it’s an ebook only, which means I’m never going to read it.—Bob Nirkind, Senior Acquisitions Editor
I remember reading a short story by Stephen King called “The Jaunt.” I read it at work on my lunch hour in an office with the door closed. I felt scared all the while I was reading, even though my co-workers sat just outside the door. When I got to the end of the story, I jumped up from my chair and quickly opened that door! Needless to say, I didn’t read any of the other short stories in that book, “The Jaunt” was enough for me. I still get chills whenever I think about it. —Janet Pagano, Executive Assistant
Probably due to my Catholic upbringing, but when I read The Exorcist in college, I was sure the devil was under my bed. Also, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James has always stuck with me. It was published in 1898 and is really scary! It’s about a governess who comes to take care of two children at a country estate in rural England. She begins to see fleeting figures of a man and a woman around the property and realizes they are ghosts. The man was a servant at the estate and the woman was the children’s former governess. The present governess learns that not only did these demonic presents have a sexual relationship with each other, they have begun appearing to the children eager to ensnare them in their web. Possession and even sexual molestation is implied. The fact that it’s not stated but implied makes it even more frightening. —Andy Ambraziejus, Head of Production & Managing Editor