Gruesome Cargoes

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


Posted by demonik on August 15, 2007

Charles Lloyd (ed) – Monsters (Philip Allan, 1934)


Many thanks to Raymond Russell and Rosalie Parker of Tartarus Press and the excellent Supernatural Fiction Database for kindly granting me permission to use this cover scan.

Vivian Meik – The Two Old Women An Amazing story of African “voodoo” near Havestock Hill by the author of ‘Devil’s Drums’, ‘Zambezi Interlude’, etc.

Timothy Leaf – Harvest A grisly story of the peaceful English countryside.

Kenneth Ingram – The Confession A murderer … a brave man … and what happened.

E. K. Allan – The Round Graveyard A convincing story of an elemental – the most feared of phantoms.

George Benwood – The Interrupted Honeymoon An extraordinary situation brilliantly handled.

Phyllis Stone – Blood For A Tiger A tale of the terrible.

Edith Olivier -The Caretaker’s Story A macabre expiation. A new story from the pen of the author of ‘Dwarf’s Blood’, ‘The Seraphim Room’, etc.

Guy Preston – A Lover Came To Sunnamees A dual self and the horror that resulted.

Elliott O’Donnell – The Haunted Telephone A doctor’s incredible summons.

Michael Joseph – The Yellow Cat A story of a gambler.

Kenneth Ingram – The ‘Locum’ Horror in an ecclesiastical setting.

Charles Lloyd – The Cockroach A low cafe-chantant in Paris and the secret that it held.

Vivian Meik – The Two Old Women
Timothy Leaf – Harvest
Kenneth Ingram – The Confession
E.K. Allan – The Round Graveyard
George Benwood – The Interrupted Honeymoon
Phyllis Stone – Blood for a Tiger
Edith Olivier – The Caretaker’s Story
Guy Preston – A Lover Came to Sunnamees
Elliott O’Donnell – The Haunted Telephone
Michael Joseph – The Yellow Cat
Kenneth Ingram – The “Locum”
Charles Lloyd (Charles Birkin) – The Cockroach

Charles Lloyd – The Cockroach: Paris. Peter arranges to meet a fellow thrill-seeker at The Blue Lizard, a notorious rough house in the shadow of the Bastille. Unfortunately, his friend cries off and Peter is not seen again. His fiance, Jane, is concerned that the police aren’t taking his disappearance seriously and, together with one of the missing man’s friends, pays a visit to the cafe. It isn’t a particularly busy night: the place is half empty, with only themselves, “a dozen burly men of the navvy class, and maybe half as many women of the type politely known as ‘unfortunates'”, and the cabaret (“an old bawd … dressed as a ballet dancer in a soiled tulle, singing filth to her apathetic audience”). When she orders some stew, there is a cockroach floating in the bowl and, furious, Jane storms into the kitchen to complain. Her search for the proprietor leads her to a filthy, bug-infested larder …

Vivian Meik – The Two Old Women: A sequel to his Honeymoon In Hate from Devil’s Drums. “They are human ghouls – perverted, secret drinkers and probably given to morally corrupt practices.” Meik moves into a multi-occupied house near Havestock Hill and befriends a young woman who has been kind to him from the first. He learns that she is being preyed upon by the two Mrs. Kemp’s on an upper floor, a pair of voodoo-practicing horrors and the elderly relatives of Martin, whose body they claimed when he eventually died the previous year. First they accuse the girl of owing them £10 and even produce an IOU signed by her to that effect, then they waver the debt in exchange for a half a pint of her blood, which they forcibly attract. Now, they are after her flesh to revive Martin.

George Benwood – The Interrupted Honeymoon: John Marshall, honeymooning with Mary in Monte Carlo, is irked by the perennial presence of Mr. Darel, an Indian old-timer who is ever leching up to his bride. After John confronts him, Mr. Darel pours some liquid in his coffee whereby they exchange bodies. John wakes to find himself trapped inside the frame of the shriveled, half-crippled Mr. Darel while that degenerate prepares to bed down with the unknowing Mrs. Marshall …

Guy Preston – A Lover Came To Sunnamees: Welsh countryside. Owen Tudor, a seriously reformed religious maniac, is merrily anticipating his midnight tryst with the virginal gipsy beauty Sunnamees. Indeed, he is so reformed that, when his conscience starts playing him up, he hurls his plaster crucifix at the walls and shatters the last relic of his monastery days. As he catnaps in his chair, an elemental, composed of all his evil, takes possession of his body and he can only watch helpless as it sets off to ruin the only woman he’s ever loved.

Phyllis Stone – Blood For A Tiger: Issington, Suffolk. Richard Perrin, an actor down on his luck, lands a job as tutor to Thea, the beautiful young daughter of Mr. Ashby, with free board at Top House thrown in. It soon becomes apparent to him that Thea is being held prisoner, and a look at Mr. Ashby’s library – The Life Of The Marquis de Sade, Sexual Abnormalities and Murder And Cruelty Traced To Sex – suggests that he is responsible for the screams which sporadically issue from her room. When he catches Ashby standing over her bloodied form with a stick, it is all too much for him. Having bound and gagged the sinister housemaid, Meggie, Perrin and Thea make a run for it and are married at Gretna Green. When Mr. Ashby catches up with them, he explains just how wrong Mr. Perrin’s reading of the entire situation has been. If he has any doubts that the kindly father is telling the truth, these are shattered when Thea helpfully chooses that moment to provide a demonstration …

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.

Michael Joseph – The Yellow Cat: Mayfair. Grey, a gambler down on his luck, is pursued home by a mangy, starving cat. Despite its loathsome personality, Grey adopts it as a mascot and his fortune takes a dramatic turn for the better. First, he is visited by Felix Mortimer who presses a fiver on him for being supportive during his own struggles. The fact that Mortimer has been dead for five years gives Grey pause for concern, but the fortune he amasses at the Green Baize Club soon takes his mind off things. His downfall arrives in the shapely form of aggressive golddigger Elise Dyer who takes umbrage at the yellow horror. Grey grabs his pet by the throat and throws it in the Prince’s Canal, thereby sealing his own doom.


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