Born in 1875, Maurice Level was a French writer who had numerous stories published in newspapers or made into plays. He specialized in short, macabre thrillers (conte cruel-style specifically). Level died in 1926. None of these stories we’re looking at today contain any supernatural elements but rely more on grim, dramatic twists and human cruelties.
- “The Look” (1906) – A man tells his friend of a terrible thing he and his wife did before they were married. This act has haunted their thoughts ever since in this very short piece.
- “A Madman” (1910) – A madman, who longs to witness the sudden occurance of catastrophes, purchases an entire box of seats of a daredevil bicyclist’s death-defying show every night during its run in Paris, hoping to watch his horrible death.
- “The Cripple” (1919) – After his hands are mangled by farm machinery, a man is forced to endure the scorn of his boss who is then ordered to compensate him. On his way home with the money, the crippled man encounters a woman in need of his help in this grim, short tale.
- “The Last Kiss” (1920) – Having been hideously disfigured and blinded when his wife threw vitriol (acid) on his face, the man refuses to press charges against her but insists on meeting with her in person for one last kiss goodbye.
- “The Kennel” (1920) – A wealthy man, irritated by the furious baying of his hounds in the kennel during a windy night as well as the lack of affection from his wife, discovers the body of a young man laying motionless on a chair in her room. She explains that it was a stranger who staggered in and collapsed, presumably of a heart attack, but the man has his doubts. He devises a vicious plan to dispose of the body.
- “Night and Silence” (1922) – A pair of disabled beggars, one blind and the other a deaf mute, spend a horrifying night following the death of their aged sister.
Article by Matt Cowan