Face it, the things that scared people in the mid-1800s are pretty tame by today’s standards. Back then, people were afraid of being buried alive because it happened occasionally. Thus the invention of safety coffins and the expression “saved by the bell.”
We don’t worry too much about being victimized by an “unreliable narrator” or being murdered because you have a goofy-looking eye. Nowadays there are slashers, ghosts, zombies, serial killers and plenty of blood and gore in both literature and film. (The only serial killer in Poe’s stories is a guy who first kills his cat, then his wife - by burying her alive.)
Poe made use of these and other “Gothic techniques,” including cemeteries, creepy mansions, communicating with the dead, and the ever-popular revenant - long before Leonardo Dicaprio slept inside an animal carcass.
In addition he made use of his own issues like alcoholism, losing the women he loved to diseases that would be totally curable today, and being a bad husband - like dating rich women who’d finance your failing publishing business while your wife is dying of tuberculosis.
After studying some of the scariest Poe classics like “The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “Berenice,” juniors in Barbara Mudrak’s Honors English classes at Alliance High decided to author their own scary stories on the Book Creator app.
But none of this Chainsaw-Massacre-Freddy-Krueger-Saw-Scream-Halloween stuff. These students wrote Poe-style stories about things that would scare the living daylights out of people in the 19th Century.
In other words, Poe scary.
Welcome to the afterlife
When I opened my eyes there was nothing to be seen. I was in the darkest room imaginable. Across the room was a small streak of light coming from a window at the top of a very tall wall. I was thinking on where I would be and why I was there. Then it all came back to me. My past has finally caught up with me. I thought I was safe.
When I was young my father died from the disease of all diseases. It was just me and my mother when he died. My mom didn’t know how to live without my father. She became a drunk and she wouldn’t leave the house. It was six months since my father died and my mother hadn’t left the house not once. I decided it would be better if she were out of her misery. Nobody would miss her.
Once she was unconscious my plan took place, I drug her into our family cellar by our fountain well. Whenever a family member would die we would bring their bodies to the cellar and lay them to rest, by building a wall of bricks in between the bodies. My mother loved fetching water from the well, I decided to end her life where she enjoyed being most. The laying bricks were quite dense. It fit on the loop of her robe perfectly. Once I had it secure on the loop of her robe, so that it would not slip off. She started to come back to reality and stumbled forward, towards the well but she stopped at the edge and looked down smiling, like she knew what was going to happen. She wouldn’t be able to complete the task herself so I gave her a little push and it was done.