True Horror Stories of the Twentieth Century

True Horror Stories of the Twentieth Century

A Poem by Brett Hernan

An extract from a larger body of work.


115. True Horror Stories of the Twentieth Century

   They sat in the domed library, after opening hours were over, reading texts on pyramid design, by torch light.

It was nearly funny.

They deduced, between them, over a flagon of two dollar ninety-eight cent Sherry, that by closing both of the hall doors, the influences of nineteenth century England on their conversation could be reduced..!

   Having cut their way through the jungle swamps, they lay at the zenith of the pyramid, with Sun-reflectors under their chins, some months later. 

Using their unique and ornate magnifying glass lighter to light their cigars, whilst reading a shared copy of a newspaper commonly known as ‘Rich Man’s Toilet Paper’.

We must now draw the curtains on these uncertain heroes, doomed to the obscurity of timely oblivion.

Their eventual fate is not yet known.

Political subjects within the media content.

Legend of the bell tower.

Does she really want to be here?

Backwards from the twenty first of August, nineteen ninety three,

pre dawn, silent five am good bye, run away,

exit sign above hotel room door,

gas jets hidden below asbestos UN flag,

melted toy plastic soldiers,

found later to be more toxic than lead but remaining unpublicised,

gyroscope with red and blue halved light in a perspex dome set in a darkened room amongst dry ice vapours.

To speak is to bring a thought into the material world utilising the gestural movement of communication.

Snippets from horoscopes and TV guides gleaned of their source references and continually added,

a diary to dissolve the knowledge of self, to observe the transition in the stages of perception.

A copper plate island in a bay, a female hand with a gun emerging from his fly,

a male hand with a knife emerging from under her skirt.

Both of these hands are wearing gold rings inset with blood red oval shaped gems.

In the city dump there is being organised

a subconscious archaeological relic of our civilisation

where it is unknowingly hoped

that some future researcher

will be prompted to say,

"My, what a lot of lighters they had!"

Birds flying in circles,

they have seen the human travel,

with a button and a number,

even a dog can understand that.

A small cube making each of the finger tips,

one side glowing with corresponding sounds.

The Moon


floating marble mask,

toweling off the drops,

light bulb,

glass case with two inch layer of debris.

A toothpaste tube with ‘Air’ written on its side.

Ambiguity means profit,

sunglasses, umbrella, facsimile can,

having done nothing.

This is a baby mouse.

Three animated examples of the creatures movement,

the perpetual desire for motionless travel,

What makes you laugh?

Something which is inside,

but is sought externally.

The action of escape

which the familiarity with one’s surroundings can be used as an excuse for

when there’s an inability of self

to recognise error and denial.

Where is this figure going, and why?

The silhouette

is meant to cause the interpretation of an universal figure,

clutching the suitcase

and raising it from the bed

as though it contains more of the figure’s identity

than the figure does.

Allowed the comfort of lying on the bed, reflecting the imbalance of a world

where material is considered

to have a predominant position

within the structures of civilisation

than that

of human life.

Perhaps, we are on the run

from the thought

that unless the power of knowledge

has re-instituted

as its value a relevance

to the contributing worth

of each individual

there will be a continuing disassociation

of the individual

from the perception of self

as member of society,

resulting in a subjugation

of the thought process

through all mediums of expression,

transmitting the notion

that thought

is an unnecessary burden

to be avoided.

A song that you have heard a hundred times,

which said nothing.

What must be intended to remedy this state of affairs

is a device to inspire thought,

not to force or impose a conception which polarises,

but to use the singular process of thought

in substance which confounds, intrigues and, or, is mysterious,

to stimulate the process of pure thought,

that is reasoning based on the instincts of the individual’s comprehension

and leading them into areas they have not consciously examined,

is stimulated,

contributing to a society

where the joy of thought,

as opposed to the limitations imposed by the presentation of 'pseudo-philosophical', 'common moral-based' ‘entertainment’,

is promoted.

Bowling ball on a purple and yellow sky,

with pieces missing.

Punched in the face by a truck driver,

'Utopia'- just seventy nine dollars and ninety five cents.

Silhouette of a candle and a flame.

No matter how many times the same path is followed it never ceases to be unlike the previous journeys. The problem is that many of the industrialists and public officials think

that they are royalty and so must have control

of the best of each technological instrument in their domain.

Their way is selected every time we press the button

and wait for the ‘walk’ sign at the traffic lights.

Mars, year two thousand and fifty.

May I please give you everything?

The arrangement of personal apparel worn at any time, henceforth, has the capability of being components of the work of Art of an abstractly patternistic origin.

The evaluation of the individual dress statement in the context

of a previously set disposition of 'style', as if somehow deliberately chosen by the wearer is not always something which is always based on choice.

Instead, it is often on necessity dictated by what fits at the thrift shop.

Books relegated to the ash heap of human history.

Acquisition of knowledge exclusion.

This is where it all started, parading the daily kill in the newspapers grainy photographs, six dollars ninety per kilogram.

Three ancient columns

summon ether night memory,

vernal equinox,

museum exhibits generating heat.

The Moon breathing theatrical clouds,

she tilts her head slightly, into the nest of shadow

in the pouch of the fireplace embers,

through the letter box, and I forget,

a serpent’s flesh,

light/dark, Tower of Pinball Heroes,

each column mounted statue

purveyed from above

by the occupants of a cross continent balloon.

Equality among nations, two crushed cola cans

city-scape horizon


where Art is hidden,


in her fingers.

I did not personally sign the Geneva convention, out modem.”

 his air force buddy told him.

The unique and individual Suns.

This is not a trick.

Notion of the universe

yet to be conceived,

the corner of a postage stamp,

where we existed,

beneath a grain of sand,

through the hour glass,

changing channels,

at midnight,

levitating from her bed,

as though


never happened

when we weren’t here yet,

travelled from one bridge

to another

to stand in the center

and stare at the volumes of water

which must have, at least once before


within the veins

of trees,

human tears

and the upper atmosphere,

eyes closed.

Lead by the hand

to the dwelling place

of 'The War Lords

of Death Garden',

(that was a gardening job

done to make up for back rent!)

Leaving the power on

in your name

and leaving everything behind

for the street kids

to take over.

A note

from the real estate agent appeared

taped on

to the front door

warning anyone found

within the premises

with prosecution if found within

by the authorities!

I was picked up at the airport,

chasing aeroplanes

as they took off on the runway,

with a suitcase in each hand.

That was the first time

we had allowed any conflict of opinion

to remain unresolved

and let emanate as an actual verbal disagreement

since we had first begun living there.

He sat at the foot of the stairs,

it is

one of the most enduring memories

of our friendship.

Mentally, I saw two waves

breaking against each other,

from opposing directions

into each other

upon an oceanic sand bar.

He was aware

that the place was being kept under surveillance

but I was happy to remain oblivious.


it forced him to go.

They were parking

on the street

in front of his bedroom window

and peeping in at him

as he awoke 

in the mornings.

He went to live with a woman

whom he’d known in high school.

A demure, six foot four, amateur

basket-baller and wrestler.

I visited them one night,

after the rot had really set in

back home, where I now subsisted


In the flickering light of the Saturday night movie commercial break

display for revenue vehicle's interlude,

they sat with their arms over each others shoulder,s

in a grittily realistic version

of a supermarket photo frame display picture

and he asked me

whether they,

"Looked like a cute couple?"

In the pause,

before I answered,

their flatmate

out back in the bathroom

made the sluicing,

rejection sounds

of ambitiously consumed,

and now-unwanted cask wine,

which interjected,

somewhat inappropriately.

Or appropriately,

given the future nightmare,

which he would soon endure,

as a result of her.

After a calculated silence,

and the inevitable,

and completely indelible recording

of a mental note,

I answered,

with a greatly endorsing,

and yet, so subtly spoken as to be an unintelligibly understated,


They had endured intimidating mental torture

from the frustrated bully underlings

of the powers that be.

The doubly underhanded tricks of these spooks

included in their repertoire

a particularly putridly themed exercise,

a deviously ingeniously scripted episode

devised with no other intention

than to cause grief and panic

to infiltrate the identity by which they defined both

of themselves within the confine of their 'relationship'

and the working of its dynamic,

which effected the two of them

in thoroughly unmanageable ways,


When we were still sharing the house and these two,

man and wife to be

were not, as yet, living together,

he told me one night

as we sat over a candle in a bottle burning

in an otherwise darkened room

that he had had numerous and lengthy late-night conversations

with her from the public telephone box

on the corner beside the used car yard.

These aural messages of oft cooed love to his then, (delightfully to him!),

tentatively-named, ‘girlfriend’,

had been from a bugged telephone booth.

The most deleterious portions of these conversations, on his part,

were then carefully edited,

spliced to create the maximum possible audibly received incomprehensible messages of anxiety inducing fear and paranoia in an innocent member of society,

just to try and spook her into attempting to find his whereabouts

so that they could find out his current location and then physically follow him round to see what it was that he did and said.

All the nastiness that could be mustered perfectly engineered to be most well delivered to a still sleep filled ear, fed into a tape recorder and played at just the right volume for it to sound exactly as if it was his voice in person, that is, her beau, from whom she had lately unexpectedly and inexplicably received phone calls at such odd hours of the morning as 2.53 a.m. 3.40 a.m. And 5.15 a.m.

His voice had been arranged to expressionlessly and ominously

repeat the phrase, 'Good-bye’ as many times, over and over, again

as she could bear to tolerate the continuance of listening to.

As previously mentioned, and here re-repeated

in an emulation of the recondensation of the narrative style of television documentaries, which repeat each and every detail of the story that occurred prior to the commercial break, and do so because the commercial break may have deleted the memories of the viewing

public, which usually isn't quite likely, but due to their politeness, and the fact that this costs them nothing and takes up the time which it is composed of, we here reap: The intent may have been for her to be scared into making attempts to contact him, which, at that time, would have given the 'surveillance team' the location of their quarry which would then lead them to his location.

He was well out of it now, and was not even perturbed by the vomiting sounds.

I found them somewhat distracting.

He told me he had eaten over a kilogram

of pure spring clover honey which he claimed improved the eyesight and cleared the white of the eyes.

I was still in the house for a few weeks after he left

and had found that by living there alone the sense of the presences,

which had previously been masked by the other living occupants,

proved them malevolent in nature, and this was profoundly obvious.

It was something I found easier to deal with by ignoring.

From the time when I slipped the key into the front door

to the moment I switched on the TV in the upstairs bedroom

and fixed my eyes upon the screen

could well have equaled the speed of Olympic level runners.

I found it imperative to not look away from the screen when unnecessary

as there was always something waiting to draw my attention into a bad place.

The most gruesome image which remains with me to this day

was a flashing vision of the downstairs hallway,

crowded to a suffocating capacity,

with hundreds of drooling,

muck and charcoal smeared,

shaved headed, trapped victims,

flailing their limbs into each other’s eyes and mouths

semi-nude and wearing pieces of dirty, stained white cotton cloth,

each of their limbs in horrible contortions and without enough space

between them for any of them

to even take a breath.

Check the newspaper columns very carefully

before deciding which will be your first flat

and under no circumstances be prepared

to ever

take on a house

where Chaos

and Death,

rehearsing, and trying

to work out the ending

for an unfinished episode,

were the previous tenants,

and both,


feeling homesick.

© 2017 Brett Hernan

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Added on February 5, 2016
Last Updated on August 8, 2017
Tags: Bicycle, Mountain, Cloud, Rain storm, Lightning, Quarry, TNT Exploding, toast, australian, Rose Thorned Hook of Violence st


Brett Hernan
Brett Hernan

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Low-resolution sample only. Born 1968. All of the images accompanying each of these written works are my own. (Except that one of the guy putting a flower into a soldier's rifle barrel!) more..


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