Daniel Coppinger was an eighteenth-century smuggler, boys and girls. Not a very nice man. Cruel Coppinger, the locals called him, a Dane whose ship was wrecked on the north Cornish coast during a bad storm. The coast was lined with wreckers who had gone out to lure any ships in distress onto the rocks. All they got was Coppinger, which was perhaps even worse than they deserved.

A giant of a man, they saw him by lightning-flashes at the wheel of his ship, cursing his crew, until the vessel struck and sank, when he hurled himself into the sea. When he came out of the maelstrom, he snatched a cloak from an old woman, jumped up on a horse behind a young girl called Dinah Hamlyn and galloped to her home.

Coppinger made it his home as well. Farmer Hamlyn took a liking to him, and his daughter fell in love with him. They married, the farmer suddenly died, and Coppinger spent his wife’s inheritance on wild living and whores. The money gone he started a smuggling gang. His headquarters was at Steeple Brink, a precipitous cliff with a cave at its foot that could be reached by sea. He had a short way of dealing with revenue men, cutting their throats or disembowelling them before dumping them in the sea. He was a superb navigator, and one time led a revenue cutter into a death-trap channel that he knew and they did not; it struck the rocks and sank with all hands.

Cruel Coppinger terrorised the district. He was heard to boast ‘I rapes real good when I’ve a mind’; a boast he carried out with sickening frequency. He threatened to kill anyone outside his gang who used the cave or public paths leading to Steeple Brink. When the local parson demanded tithe-money, the huge Dane flayed him with a double-throng whip. He threatened the same treatment to his wife when her mother refused to tell him where she kept her money; Mrs Hamlyn gave in when she saw her Dinah tied naked to a bed-post and Coppinger with his sea-cat out. The people used to sing:

Will you hear of the cruel Coppinger?
He came from a foreign kind;
He was brought to us by salt water,
He’ll be carried away by the wind.

And so he was, on the stormiest night since his arrival. The wreckers were out as usual, and the last they saw of him, in a lightning-flash, was as they’d first seen him, holding the wheel and cursing his crew…



A woman travels by train to Heidelberg. The year is 1934 and the woman (later to be called Mrs E in the German press, although at this precise moment she is Miss E) is on her way to consult a doctor about her stomach pains. She falls into hesitant conversation with a fellow passenger, a man who claims to be a natural healer, no less, and in whom she confides the purpose of her journey. The man’s name is Franz Walter, and he tells her he can cure her illness.

‘You can…?’

Walter invites her to join him for coffee when the train pulls into the station. She is most reluctant but allows him to persuade her. On the platform he grabs hold of her hand, and Mrs E feels abruptly lost, without a will of her own.

‘Come with me,’ he tells her.

He takes her to a room in the city, places her in a trance by touching her forehead, then rapes her. She tries to push him away, but can’t move. She strains more and more but it doesn’t help. He gently strokes her face.

‘You sleep quite deeply, you can’t call out, and you can’t do anything else.’ He presses her arms behind her. ‘You can’t move anymore,’ he says. ‘When you wake up you’ll remember nothing of what has happened.’ He also tells her, her stomach pains are gone and will never return.

Then he rapes her again; finally he sodomises her, before helping her to readjust her clothing. He leads her back to the street after emptying her purse of the money she’s saved to pay for her doctor’s visit…

Walter had, during their conversation on the train, hypnotised the highly susceptible Mrs E. On their parting in Heidelberg that day, Walter, using a ‘control word’, instructs Mrs E to return to him the following week. Her ordeal is only just beginning.

Over the course of the next few years, Walter prostituted Mrs E. He gave her to other men, or to friends – often telling these friends the ‘control word’ that would leave her helpless for them. In return he earned hundreds of thousands of marks. Time and again he would meet her at either Karlsruhe, or Heidelberg railway stations, take her to rooms where he could have his way with her before the arrival of her first ‘customers’ of the day.

Walter would also, using hypnotic suggestion, give Mrs E muscle cramps and even, on one occasion, paralysed her left hand. He would only remove these terrible afflictions on receipt of sums of money from Mrs E.

During the course of Walter’s criminal depredations, Mrs E, his young victim, married. Her husband became another source of wealth for Walter. Allowances made by Mr E to his wife, soon ended up in Walter’s greedy pockets.

But, as with all the best laid plans, Mr E became suspicious of his wife’s behavior. He began to make awkward inquiries. Walter, fearing discovery, instructed Mrs E to kill her husband.

He, poor man, after her sixth failed attempt on his life, decided to involve the police. They in their turn decided Mrs E must have been mad, and called on the services of a psychiatrist, Dr Ludwig Mayer, who succeeded in releasing the suppressed memories of Walter’s hypnotic sessions by re-hypnotising her. After a somewhat sensational court case, Walter received a sentence of ten years penal servitude.

Read Mrs E’s own words in Hammerschlag, Hypnotism and Crime, pp. 120-121:

‘I’m no longer the same person as before. Something different controls me. I don’t want to do something, but I do it. Or I want to do something, and yet I don’t do it…in the end I thought of nothing more than doing what Walter wanted. If I obeyed I always felt more at ease. Within me I was never free there was always something oppressing me….I can’t struggle against these pressures…the pressure vanishes when I obey the commands of the inner voice.’

Mayer wrote a post verdict book on the subject of Mrs E and the criminal uses of hypnosis. Here he described how it works:

“…a person in somnambulic hypnosis is not able to take up a critical attitude on his own behalf … subordination to the hypnotiser, and dulling of his consciousness takes place, regardless of whether he is the subject of a legitimate experiment or is being hypnotised for other purposes … Just as suggestions can be employed therapeutically … they can equally well be used for criminal purposes.”

So there we have it, boys and girls. Strange but true – although I have a strong suspicion, Mrs E’s story would NOT be accepted in a courtroom today; she, I suspect, would find herself charged with theft and attempted murder. However, an interesting if very bizarre case.


I lay down on the bed and then I was sleeping, really sleeping for the first time in weeks, sleeping so the scissors wouldn’t hurt my eyes, the way George hurt me inside when he wanted to shut me up in the asylum so he and Miss Higgins could make love on my bed and laugh at me the way they all laughed at me except Lucy and she would take care of me she knew what to do now I could trust her when George came and I must sleep and sleep and nobody can blame you for what you think in your sleep or do in your sleep…

Robert Bloch
Lucy Comes To Town

face your own wickedness…

September 17, 2016


“Back, devil! Return thee to Hell!”

The beast rolled its eyes. “I am not a devil, fool. Do you ever wonder why you seek the Devil with such vigour? I shall tell you. Because you cannot face your own wickedness. The truth is there is no Devil making you torture, rape, murder, and sodomize one another, or making you destroy the very land that feeds you. There is only you. So look at yourself, for you are the only devil in this room.”

Krampus: The Yule Lord


September 16, 2016


It is midnight, my wedded;
Let us lie under
The tempest bright undreaded,
In the warm thunder:
(Tremble and weep not! What can you fear?)
My heart’s best wish is thine, –
That thou wert white, and bedded
On the softest bier,
In the ghost’s moonshine.
Is that the wind? No, no;
Only two devils, that blow
Through the murderer’s ribs to and fro,
In the ghosts’ moonshine.

Who is there, she said afraid, yet
Stirring and awaking
The poor old dead? His spade, it
Is only making, –
(Tremble and weep not! What do you crave?)
Where yonder grasses twine,
A pleasant bed, my maid, that
Children call a grave,
In the cold moonshine.
Is that the wind? No, no;
Only two devils, that blow
Through the murderer’s ribs to and fro,
In the ghosts’ moonshine.

What doest thou strain above her
Lovely throat’s whiteness?
A silken Chain, to cover
Her bosom’s brightness?
(Tremble and weep not: what dost thou fear?)
– My blood is spilt like wine,
Thou hast strangled and slain me, lover,
Thou hast stabbed me dear,
In the ghosts’ moonshine.
Is that the wind? No, no;
Only her goblin doth blow
Through the murderer’s ribs to and fro,
In its own moonshine.

Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Do I love killing?

January 26, 2016


A short while later, as I stare down at the bodies of the six men I have just killed, I cannot help but wonder: Do I love killing? Of a certainty, I love the way my body and weapons move as one; I revel in the knowledge of where to strike for maximum impact. And of a certainty, I am good at it.

Robin LaFevers
Dark Triumph

put a bullet in his head

January 26, 2016

Liam, soon-to-be-fucking-dead, Callahan was walking down the stairs—my fucking stairs—with his sex hair high and his green eyes sharper than razor blades. He was beautiful, and I almost regretted the fact that I would have to put a bullet in his head and then smash it through a fucking wall.

J.J. McAvoy
Ruthless People


January 25, 2016


I, Larry Vail, do hereby confess
To murdering Merry in her little dress.
To strangling and raping and making a mess.
To all of these charges the answer is yes.

Rosalyn Drexler
The Line of Least Existence and Other Play

I am not a devil…

January 19, 2016


“Back, devil! Return thee to Hell!“

The beast rolled its eyes. “I am not a devil, fool. Do you ever wonder why you seek the Devil with such vigour? I shall tell you. Because you cannot face your own wickedness. The truth is there is no Devil making you torture, rape, murder, and sodomize one another, or making you destroy the very land that feeds you. There is only you. So look at yourself, for you are the only devil in this room.”

Krampus: the Yule Lord

The Porta-Caval Shunt

November 17, 2015


Fade in slowly from black. The ramshackle garden – patchy, dry grass, old bits of rusting farm machinery, a spare truck wheel – comes into focus, backed by woods. Absolute silence. Now pan across the area. The house looms into view – big, rambling, white paint peeling, sinister looking (use a wide-angle lens for this) – and out again. Quick snap shot of the town name and population sign. Back to black.

“Less than five hundred people in this town. We all know each other here. We all knew who she was, hell, went into her store every week. And we sure know who he is now.”

Inside the house, looking out of the window. A beat up pickup truck sits outside, parked at an angle to the house. Cut to a blurred shot of the living room floor. Move slowly to focus on the junk scattered around. The only sound is the buzzing of flies. A sheet of newspaper ripples slightly, as if moved by a breeze. Move across the junk on the floor to the door. Move slowly up the door. Freeze-frame (a very slight blur might be good here) at eye level, where what looks like a female wig has been nailed to the door.

“We’re all pretty upset about this business, don’t want to talk about it a whole lot. You people come snooping here to dig up dirt, and open up a lot of sores. We’re never going to forget what happened here, never. Now get off’a my property or I’ll set the dogs on you.”

Full frame photograph of a man, all-American looking; baseball cap, grey hair, stubble, red and black lumberjack shirt. A wiry sort of grin. It’s an old photo – the colours are faded.

“What do I want to do to him? What d’you think I want to do to him? He’s damn near destroyed this town. He’d better stay in that hospital or me and the other men’ll string him up and cut his balls off”

Shot, from the back, of the naked body of a woman hanging upside down in an outhouse. Cut quickly to shot from the front; the effect should be shocking and immediate; she has been gutted and decapitated. The body is clean, legs apart, ankles tied tight with rope and attached to an overhead beam. The wrists are also tied and are straight, against the woman’s sides. Pan (slow motion here, move camera a little as if dizzy) 360 degrees. Around the walls hang tools, odd planks of wood lean against each other, coils of rope hang on hooks, an axe lays on the dirt floor. A worktable is in the corner. Sunlight streams in from a far window.

“I’ll never forget what it was like walking around that house. I always thought the guy was a little odd, but not harmless, just lonely I guess….cops see strange things, but that house was the worst, a real chamber of horrors. There was so much garbage on the floor, we was wading through it. It made me sick just thinking of what I might be treading on. I don’t mind telling you I was near to tears when we found her, strung up like that. She was a decent woman. How could anyone do that ?A couple of the guys ‘cuffed him and took him away. I couldn’t bring myself to touch him.”

Shaky footage of a misshapen figure prancing naked outside the house in the moonlight. Move in closer. The figure is both male and female; male genitals, female breasts. And two faces – the old man’s face is mostly obscured behind a mask of a woman made from human flesh.
“I would like to fuck you in the outhouse where you left her. Do you have any killer friends? I would like to fuck them too.”

The camera follows the cops as they pick their way through the house for the first time. It is dusk, the light is not good; there is a definite atmosphere of apprehension and quiet fear. The cops speak in near whispers.

“….In the eighties he achieved some kind of ‘cult’ status among hordes of people who fancied themselves as hip, horror-loving outsiders….”

The camera fades in again, outside the house, very low to the ground. The bottom of the porch is just visible on the left. The field of vision rises to eye level, and the camera starts moving around at walking speed. A rasping, breathing sound can be heard. The camera moves up the porch steps, the screen door opens and the camera goes through. We hear feet shuffling through the junk as we move into the living room and towards the far corner. The camera moves down quickly – as if squatting down – a pair of hands appear and push a mound of magazines away. A shoebox is visible. The hands clear some space around it and pick it up. The lid is taken off to reveal several female vulvas. One is green, rotting. The right hand disappears for a few moments, then reappears and drops another vulva in. The lid is replaced, the box put back in place, the magazines piled up again.

“See the car that hauled the dead from their graves!”

Distant shot of a flicker of orange light in the darkness. Cut to black. Close-up of the house in the grip of a raging fire. A window bursts with the heat. Pull back to reveal people standing, watching. One man has a gasoline can in his hand. He spits on the ground and walks away.

“So the old house burned to the ground, did it? Well, I don’t know nothing about it or how it happened, but I can’t say I’m sorry, or surprised that no one hurried along there to put it out. Maybe we can get on with our lives now, maybe one day we’ll be able to forget what happened. God knows, we did nothing to deserve all this.”

Shot from the back of a cell, looking out toward the door. Pushing for space on the other side of the door are countless newspaper men, some with notepaper and pen, screaming foR quotes, most with big cameras. Flash-bulbs are going every couple of seconds. Slow fade to black, as if the man is closing his eyes.

“To the guy who got it all started….”

Julie Travis

(Julie Travis has been writing horror and dark fantasy fiction since the early 1990s, after a youth spent watching horror films, writing music fanzines and playing bass guitar in a punk band. Her short stories and novellas, which have been compared to Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, Catherynne M. Valente and the Stephen King/Peter Straub collaborations, have been published widely in the British and North American slipstream/horror small press. She now lives by the sea in West Cornwall and spends much of her time at stone circles and other sacred sites. You may find her website HERE)