It’s quiz time in Key’s Cupboard this week. Here are nine passages of sober and sensible prose from some of the most sober and sensible works of the middling years of the last century. Read them carefully and then, using skill, judgment, and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, match the passages to the sources listed at the end.
Slowly the moon came out and splashed its evil coldness over the desert, and slowly Halloran twisted his body around and stared with burning, widened eyes at them… They were walking towards him with maddening deliberation, the most evil, the most unholy-looking, hideously repulsive group he had ever seen. The two might have been cowboys, except for their faces. They were dressed in regular range gear; ropes, belted guns, loudly checked shirts and handkerchiefs, stitched boots, faded blue jeans – their heavy, batwing chaps flapping in the night like wings of grisly birds of evil. But the faces under the tall sombreros! … they were the faces of ghoulish beasts with snapping black eyes, huge canine nostrils, coarsely matted hair. Halloran stared and his tongue was hot and thick when he tried to move it. The word werewolves seemed to tumble over and over in his numbed mind.
Athwart that dream came a sudden, frightful, heart-stilling roar of destruction; a hideous crash followed, a terrible rending, breaking, smashing, concatenation of noises, succeeded by frightful detonations… the ship was reduced in a few moments to a disjointed, disorganized, sinking mass of shapeless, formless, splintered steel.
Methodically he got ready. He rigged up electrical apparatus which would add mixtures of conglomerate matter to the rocket blasts of the Comet. He did the same with his blast guns. Then, tight-lipped, hard-eyed, dressed once more in the space suit, blast guns ready, he returned to the controls. The Comet shook and shivered with the recurrent rocket blasts as he flashed through space toward the vast, glowing globe of the aliens… Blackness plucked at his senses. He could tell by the sudden clinking as loose pieces of metal flew to the walls and clung there, that an alien energy ray had brought him to a halt. He had crashed through into the vessel of the energy things – and now they were holding him there, a prisoner!
She had no way of knowing how long she sat there before the tapping on her window brought her to her feet with a start. Stark fear squeezed the breath from her body and made her incapable of motion. Suddenly a face appeared at the window! A strange face, yet hauntingly familiar. In a flash she recognized it to be that of Phyllis, the trapeze artist, but in some way it was different! Haltingly, she made her way to the window and threw back the catch. Into the room bounded the half nude figure of a man!
[It was] Merro Daak, the fashionable radio astrologer, whose name was on every woman’s tongue. Slade had seen him often, passing through the village in his big foreign-made car, with his jaded and debauched companions, on whose neurotic faces Slade’s eye had read the imprint of sickening abnormalities. Did the orgies which were said to go on in Merro Daak’s house have any bearing on these bestial atrocities? Slade plodded back to his car. His brain was a whirling chaos.
Early that evening, the real Ah-Fang had been waylaid by a stalwart, roughlooking character who had thrust a peculiarly shaped gun into the Chinese’s face.A jet of powerful anesthetizing vapor had shot from that gun. Ah-Fang had dipped into unconsciousness and had been whisked away in a powerful motor car. For the stalwart man was none other than Secret Agent “X” concealed behind another of his masterly disguises. No identity was too difficult for him to assume. His special plastic volatile compound could be molded to resemble the contours of any face. His own formulated pigments, clever toupees, faceplates, and other elements of make-up, had enabled him to create for himself the exact replica of the face of Ah-Fang.
I did what I could with a hunting-knife and forceps, without dyes or microscope, swallowing my nausea — it was a nauseating thing! — memorizing what I found. But, as the sun rose higher, the thing liquefied, melted, until by nine o’clock there was nothing but a glutinous gray puddle, with two green eyes swimming in it. And these eyes — I can see them now — burst with a thick pop, making a detestable sticky ripple in that puddle of corruption.
Carlin’s deep-shadowed eyes were flaming pools of mad menace. “I could shoot you both down where you stand,” he rasped, “but that would be a foolish waste of valuable material… I shall turn the two of you over to the Dweller in the pool!” Dorothy Lane cried aloud in terror. Carlin’s thin lips writhed in a snarling smile… “Who, or what, is the Dweller in the pool?” demanded Kent, “And what devil’s work is Carlin doing here anyway?’” “The Dweller in the pool,” Dorothy answered, her low voice trembling, “is my brother, Raoul!” … Small wonder that the throbbing agony of so many tortured minds should combine to taint the very air with a shuddering miasma of crepitant dread!
On the second day, sahib, as I sought in the darkest part of the forest among great trees of Padouk and Sal many cubits high, it happened that I heard a great rending of wood, and lifting my eyes, I beheld the father of all the Nats tear a great tree asunder and spring at me from the bowels thereof. The face was the face of the Boh, only more terrible, but the arms were of the thickness of a man’s leg, and hairy as those of a spider.
Eric Lennox – Lair Of The Damned
Cyrus Townsend Brady – And Thus He Came
Myer Krulfeld – The Thing From Antares
Hugh J Gallagher – Death Mates For The Lust-Lost
John H. Knox – The Thing That Dined On Death
Brant House – The Golden Ghoul
Gerald Kersh – Men Without Bones
Hal K Wells – Black Pool For Hell Maidens
Gordon McCreagh – The Wood Devil Thing