Clark Gets Creepy

University Professors Share Haunting Favorites

The wet and rainy weather on October 29 set the mood for the evening. The warm, yellow lights emitting from the LEEP center drew in a crowd for a reading entitled  “Not Quite Human: Stories of Monsters, Demons and the Supernatural,” hosted by the Being Human symposium in the Higgins Lounge.

Inside, everything was set just right for a night of horror stories– the sounds of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” filled the room, hot apple cider, pumpkin squares and cookies sat on the table, and a basket of chocolates was passed around. The reading began as the rain poured down on the large glass windows. The lights were turned off, with only a reading lamp left on the armchair where Jennifer Plante, head of Academic Advising sat reading Stephen King’s short story, “The Boogeyman.”  She started by warning, “are there any small children in the audience tonight?” and it was soon apparent why. The tale of a cowardly parent and the loss of his three small children to a “wet, slimy” creature which lives in the cupboard left everyone silent, with only the sound of nervous candy-munching in the room.

Professor Jay Elliott, head of the English department, was next, with an old classic, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”, but not before delving into a bit of characteristic discourse over the extent of Poe’s influence on King. As he finished, his loud, emphatic voice left the audience feeling like they could almost hear the sound of the old man’s heart getting louder and louder.

Perhaps Professor Gino DiIorio of the Theater department provided the perfect end to the evening. Eschewing the microphone, he started reading the story that was, in every sense of the word, haunting. He talked of rain that pours all day and night, and of an old woman who stands by the Thames waiting for her son to come back from sailing. Neil Gaiman’s story, “Down to a Sunless Sea,” made the whole room lean in, listen, recoil, and feel the loss described. Long after he finished, the last line of the story still rang in the room – “and the water of the rain runs down your face like someone else’s tears.”