I finally got around to reading some H. P. Lovecraft. I really enjoyed most of it. It was amazing to see how much his work has influenced modern sci-fi and horror. In a few of the stories I really felt like I was reading an episode of the X-Files. Most of the time the stories were more creepy than scary. Most of the time.
The notable exception was "Hunter of the Dark". To maximize the effect of these stories, I only read them in bed just before going to sleep. After reading this particular story, I went to sleep very happy. Well, not happy per-se, but I was very satisfied with how much I enjoyed the story. About 3am my cat woke me up madly scratching on the wood floor in the next room. I'm not sure if he was running around in circles or fighting some blasphemous creature from another realm. In any case, the sound woke me so suddenly that I sat straight up in bed. My heart was racing.
I looked out towards the open doorway from my bedroom. As my eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness I noticed it. Something, in the corner of the room above the doorway, shifted slightly. I waited with bated breath. There was only darkness. The thing that had moved was the shadow. After more than a minute watching, waiting, it moved no more.
Still sitting up, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I opened my eyes, I smiled from ear to ear. After having read a dozen or more of Lovecraft's stories, I finally understood the joy that readers who hadn't grown up on Alien, Jaws, and The X-Files must have felt reading this work for the first time. I laid back down and slept like a baby.