NUMBER 13 by M.R. James


“Number 13 was, like himself, leaning on his elbows on the window-sill looking out into the street.”

“Rather late, but Number 13 was later: here were his boots still outside his door -“

This is the haunting story of an academic staying in an inn in a Danish city, upon ecclesiastical or episcopal  research, including the emergence of certain  evil forces that once infiltrated such historic areas of activity. And whether such history involves today the recurring appearance  of the inn’s room No. 13 (otherwise deliberately omitted for superstitious reasons) between 12 and 14, with resultant dimension changes and other strange effects. He could see “the dead wall opposite and the shadows upon it” of those (including himself)  in 12 and 14, and, when existent halfway between 12 and 14, the ‘shadowy third’ of 13. And they both in no. 12 and 14 hear noises of dancing and laughter (“the singer was heard seemingly to laugh to himself in a crooning manner”) from next door when 13 is present  ….even to the extent of one of them writing a poem: “But when I’ve locked my chamber door / And put my boots outside, I dance all night upon the floor.” The numbers seem to  become people or shadows of people, but who among them truly knows which is which, unless a ragged evolving bare skin of an arm comes out to drag one of them in? Even the inn’s landlord is bemused… and was the answer in the Jungian synchronicity of a documented Astrology  or in its direct cause-and-effect? And the “dead wall” opposite outside becomes the wall in the inn that derives a crowbar’s gash to kill it?

“‘…you gentlemen would like another room for tonight – a double-bedded one?’”


All my M.R James reviews:

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