Editorial: a tradition of horror at Arthur

We were very excited that Issue 7 would be printing on Halloween, and quickly set to recruiting spooky, creative works from the community. Our writers were eager to take part in creating this issue, and we’re eager for you to read their work. We are also excited that, with this being our second year publishing creative fiction for our Halloween edition, it has become a tradition that challenges the identity of the newspaper. Arthur can be a newspaper as well as a source of creative content, and as writers ourselves, nothing makes us happier than for this issue to have scary stories in it.

The quality of writing in the paper is going to be quite a treat for you readers, such as Derek Newman-Stille’s piece, which weaves poetic imagery into his horror tale on pages ten and eleven.

Halloween has a fascinating tale itself, and it is interesting to note that even in societies that do not celebrate Halloween and explore horror as a cultural day of dressing up and trick or treating, there are still vast amounts of spooky folklore and scary stories all over the world. Some international storytelling is explored in this issue.

Humans have a strange affinity for all things creepy. Perhaps it is the unknown, abject parts of the universe that appeal to us just as much as they scare us. We enjoy the hair rising on our skin and the tense feeling of being frightened, but the moment the unknown facets of the universe become too close for comfort, our survival instinct kicks in and we exit the situation as soon as possible.

Reporters Mauricio Interiano and Holly Stark both shared Latin American horror stories in Arthur this week, and we were reminded of the horror stories we heard growing up that are classic in our homeland of Pakistan.

Similar to Western horror’s association with Biblical themes, Pakistani horror stories are most often wrought with jinns. Jinns are creatures made of “smokeless fire” and are mentioned in the Qu’ran. If you can’t wrap your mind around what a jinn could possibly be, think of the jinn in Aladdin’s lamp from One Thousand and One Nights, or perhaps Robin William’s genie from Disney’s Alladin. Jinns are sinister tricksters who enjoy confusing humans and changing shapes. This narrative is quite similar to Irish fairy folklore, where fairies, unlike the benign and cutesy ones from Disney, are mischievous tricksters who can be quite scary and terrorize humans for pure enjoyment.

Children of superstitious folks are told not to buy anything depicting an owl, as these harbour jinns. As well, very ancient trees are to be avoided, as jinns lurk in the shade of old trees and prey upon passersby. It is interesting that some horror stories are gendered, and reflect the time in which they were conjured. For example, a succubus is a female demon that comes into a sleeping man’s room and has sex with him. The succubus is a common theme for a demon in many regions of the world. In jinn-lore, a young, unmarried girl with flowing hair should avoid going near old trees as they may tempt male jinns. Again, it is remarkable how the horror genre explores the subtleties of the human psyche. Creepy stories exist all over the world!

An old Persian tale goes: A woman attends a private bath-house and is
very alarmed to see that the women have hooves instead of feet. Frightened, she runs to the orderly who runs the bathouse and tells her “I saw women with hooves! They had no feet.”
The orderly lifts her skirt and asks, “like these?”

There is no shortage of spooky tales out there, so for this week, enjoy Arthur’s authentic tellings and retellings of scary stories and enjoy your Halloween. November is kind of boring, and Christmas is a while away, so take your time reading, it’s an issue packed with fright!