Gruesome Cargoes

Horror fiction 1925-1937: ‘Not At Nights’ & ‘Creeps’


Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

HORRORS ed. ‘Charles Lloyd’ (Philip Allan, 1933)

Dust jacket via the superlative Facsimile Dust Jackets

The mad woman who needed blood, the horror in the lonely farm-house, the girl who was strangled in the locked room, the Thing that came out of the pond – these are among the twelve hitherto unpublished horrors in this volume.

E. S. Knights – Dr. Browning’s Bus
Allan Govan – The Ever-Turning Dynamos
Hester Gorst – The Doll’s House
Charles Lloyd (Charles Birkin) – Special Diet
Neville Kilvington – Meshes Of Doom
N. Dennett – Unburied Bane
Elliott O’Donnell – The Mystery of the Locked Room
R. F. Broad – Doctor Fawcett’s Experiment
Pamela James – Without A Hitch
John Ratho – Lover’s Meeting
Charles Lloyd (Birkin) – A Poem And A Bunch of Roses
George Benwood – Dark Seance

“The mad woman who needed blood, the horror in the lonely farm-house, the girl who was strangled in the locked room, the Thing that came out of the pond …”

Fourth book in the series. I don’t have a copy of “Horrors”, but thanks To Herbert Van Thal and “Pan Horror #3”, I don’t feel as though I really need one!

Hester Gorst – The Dolls House: The narrator buys a Georgian Dolls house at an auction immediatly and begins to suffer from nightmares in which he becomes “A rake … coming home very late and very drunk”, ascending the staircase of the original for his recent purchase. It becomes apparent that his dream-self is one some terrible errand, and he convinces himself that this is the murder of a woman. Best friend Jack offers to spend the night with him to see what he gets up to when he’s asleep.

Charles Lloyd – A Poem And A Bunch Of Roses: Sally Russell wonders why Madame de Civennes invites her to stay at the Chateau Montnegre after the death of Andre, M. de Civennes’s husband with whom Sally was having an affair. Surely the widow should despise her?
As it turns out, M. de Civennes hates her with a passion and, on the last night of Sally’s stay, unleashes Pierre, her servant Marie’s imbecile son, with instructions to take the girl down to the dungeon and enjoy himself. Sally is a long time dying.

John Ratho – Lover’s Meeting: Greta, neglected by her workaholic husband, Leo, self-proclaimed “greatest scientist in the world”, receives a call from old flame Frank Arko and invites him to dinner. She soon realises she’s quite gone off him in the intervening years and is further alienated when he makes a drunken pass at her – witnessed by her husband. When Arko complains of a headache, the prof gives him a shot of something to take his mind off it: leprosy.

Charles Lloyd (Charles Birkin) – Special Diet: The doctor tries to persuade Mrs. Willoughby to put her aged mother into care as her behavior is completely unhinged, but the loyal daughter opts to hire a second nurse and keep her at home. When Nurse Charteris informs her that the old girl has just decapitated a mouse and drunk its blood, Mrs. Willoughby decides that, yes, it is time for her mum to be confined at the Parkside Home for mental cases after all. Before she can sort it, she’s called away. This is not a good time for her little grand-daughter, Mary, to show up …

Edith Oliver – The Old Caretaker’s Story: The superstitious, guilt-ridden old sea salt, Horler, manfully sticks to writing up his confession even as he’s cutting lumps out of his legs to feed to the seagulls. He’s still penning his comentary as they attack him en masse and tear him to pieces.

N. Dennett – Unburied Bane: There IT stood, its face cadaverous blue, its long fingers cold with the cold of the grave, its eyes grown empty hollows, the rank odour of stagnant water about its clothes …

Oliver and Frances Winthrop rent rooms at a spectacularly decrepit moorland farmhouse from the emaciated, clearly demented old Ann Skegg. Frances is reluctant from the first, not least because of creepy Ms. Skegg who takes too great a delight in relating the history of the skull on the parlour windowsill which must never be removed (it once belonged to an evil crone who was drowned in the filthy pond and laid a curse on the place). Oliver, however, is delighted: he’s after a plot for his latest sensational thriller and is soon hard at work on The Death-Defying Skull. Having finished the play, he sets off to London to have it put into production, leaving Frances alone for a few days with their sinister landlady …

Elliott O’ Donnell – The Mystery Of The Locked Room: Amelia Jenkyns is taken on as a maid at 109 Bolsover Square by stern, forty-something widow Mrs. Bishop of the ‘Greta Garbo eyebrows’ and desultory wages. Amelia is of a prying nature and often tries on Mrs. Bishop’s best hats and dresses when she’s out, so it’s no surprise that she can’t help but fantasise as to the reason why one of the rooms is kept permanently locked. Convinced that this is where Madam keeps her treasure, she resolves to break in the next time the fearsome Mrs. Bishop is out. On finally entering the room she discovers that this is where the woman’s fortune is secured, but is horrified to find a man lying on the bed, seemingly oblivious to her presence. Worse – Mrs. Bishop materialises out of nowhere and smothers the old boy with a pillow.
Realising that she’s witnessed the ghostly re-enactment of a murder, Amelia turns to run – just as the flesh and blood Mrs. Bishop appears in the doorway, a length of wire in her hands …

Neville Kilvington – Meshes Of Doom: Told in diary form. Jacob Trezbond, a fellow of the Botanical Society, strangles his wife Frances and buries her in the conservatory. He’s recently acquired a seed of South American origin which he sets about cultivating despite the warnings of Armand, the dealer who sold it to him. The ghost of Frances begins to haunt him and the plant-thing grows with alarming speed. As is the way with demon flower stories, Trezbond’s pets are first to be crushed and devoured, then the huge creepers turn their attention to him. An afterword from Armand gives a very different version of events.

Robert Ferrers Broad- Dr. Fawcett’s Experiment: The disgraced biologist, ‘Nicholas Fawcett’, holes up in the country where he can conduct undisturbed his researches for the dubious benefit of mankind. A luckless, epileptic tramp chooses to take a doze in his garden and the kindly mad professor takes him under his wing, helping himself to the fellow’s brain and sundry internal organs while he’s about it. Fawcett raises a murderous culture – “an obscene thing that … swelled in my glass dish like a huge puffball” – which soon runs amok in a frenzy of throat-ripping.


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