Thursday, July 25, 2013

More Science Fiction Tales (Roger Elwood, Rod Ruth, 1974)

Here's More Science Fiction Tales (1974, edited by Roger Elwood, illustrations by Rod Ruth), a follow up to 1971's Science Fiction Tales (also edited by Elwood and illustrated by Ruth) and belonging to a series of hardcover children's horror/sci-fi anthology books published by Rand McNally in the 70s (I've previously posted on the Elwood-edited Monster Tales and Horror Tales, Ida Chittum's Tales of Terror, and perhaps the most sought after entry, Baleful Beasts and Eerie Creatures, also illustrated by Ruth).

The full title is More Science Fiction Tales, Crystal Creatures, Bird-Things, & Other Weirdies, seven tales of science fiction by seven authors, with an introduction by Barry N. Malzberg (full table of contents posted below).

Several of the stories here could rightfully be considered belonging to the horror genre, including my favorite, A Hole In Jennifer's Room by Brian T. LoMedico.

Fourth-grader Jennifer is awakened one evening by a glowing orb that materializes out of her bedroom wall. A creature that she describes as resembling a large chicken embryo emerges from the lit portal and begins stalking around her bedroom.

Frightened, Jennifer is about to attack the alien thing with a baseball bat when the creature suddenly introduces itself, speaking perfect English. Its name is Xander, and it is an inter-dimensional traveler that took a wrong turn and ended up in Jennifer's room in Dimension Three. At first it seems like the beginnings of a friendship between the unlikely pair is starting to emerge, until Xander decides to explore the rest of the house on his own and is never seen again.

Jennifer's parents don't believe her story and she is forced to see a doctor who prescribes pills to alleviate what they presume is a hallucinatory episode.

But the pills don't help, as Jennifer is continually tormented by the sounds of Xander's clicking beak, and glimpses of movement caught in her peripheral vision. Xander, as it turns out, never really did leave Jennifer, as the final chilling paragraph reveals:

And sometimes, in the deep darkened corners of her mind, Jennifer heard a whispering voice, answering her as if from a great distance. It always said the same thing. "I'm right here, Jennifer. And remember, you did it all to yourself.... You should have hit me with that baseball bat."


In The Bend of Time (William Danton), a boy returning to a recolonized Earth in the year 4010 is able to communicate across time with another boy his age from a prior millenium, when the world was ruled by robots called Ogolots.

In Hide and Seek (Mario Martin Jr.), a boy looking for a fallen meteor encounters a friendly crashed alien who helps him defend the Earth from some not-so-friendly crab-like invaders.

The Music of Minox (Howard Goldsmith) finds an interplanetary mining camp attacked by aliens monsters resembling crystalline porcupines that emit harp-like sounds.

In The Thing From Ennis Rock (Thomas F. Monteleone), a boy brings home a large egg found in the rubble following an earthquake and soon hatches a baby pteranodon. But mama pteranodon isn't giving up on her baby that easily. This story has a surprisingly dark ending.

A Thirst For Blood (Arthur Tofte), a story of vampires and interplanetary adventure set in the year 2040, opens with a boy being forced to carry out the grim ritual of decapitating the corpse of his father to cancel a vampiric curse.

Finally, a girl is temporarily transformed into a wolf by a mad scientist in Werewolf Girl (Nic Andersson).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Whistle (Strangely Enough)

Here's an unnerving tale culled from the pages of the Scholastic Book Club's collection of "chilling stories" and "offbeat yarns", Strangely Enough (C.B. Colby, 1959).

In The Whistle, a South Carolina woman living on a remote farm with her dog is repeatedly startled by a strange, unnatural whistling sound emitting from somewhere in the neighboring woods. The  whistle seems to be coming closer every time she hears it, and the high-pitch of the sound disturbs her pet terrier.

One evening, the noise returns and is so loud and frightening she bolts the front door, leaving her dog barking hysterically on the front porch, until suddenly... silence. The next morning she inspects the scene only to find her dog is missing, the porch splattered with blood.

What was the source of the whistle? What happened to the dog?

"Nobody ever found out."

Read the complete text of the story above. While "The Whistle" leaves it a mystery, I have my own theory. The dog could very well have been the victim of a shadmock.

What is shadmock? To explain, I'll first need to brief you on the confusing geneology of monsters. Luckily there's a visual aid for that.

You see, the three primary monsters at the top of the family tree are the vampire, the werewolf and the ghoul. When a vampire and werewolf breed, the offspring is called a werevamp. A werewolf and ghoul produce a weregoo, while a vampire and ghoul produce a vamgoo.

A weregoo and werevamp make a shaddie, weregoo and vamgoo a maddie, and werevamp and vamgoo, a raddie. Now any combination of shaddies, maddies and raddies results in a mock (a polite term for mongrel).

And should a mock mate with any of the other hybrids... they produce a shadmock, lowest on the monster geneological hierarchy.

Shadmocks do not bite or tear at their victims... they only WHISTLE. But their whistle is very deadly. There was one particular shadmock who lived at a remote English castle, so remote that his only friends were the pigeons.

One morning he noticed a stray cat stalking his feathered friends...

...and before he could do anything about it, the cat had a mouthful of pigeon.

The shadmock let loose the eerie, inhuman whistle for which his race is known...

...and in short order, the cat turned into, well... this.

You don't even want to know what happened to the woman he was wooing after she tried to run out on him and he had to whistle for her to come back home.

The story of the shadmock comes from the 1980 cult classic The Monster Club (here's a rendering of the unfortunate cat incident as it appeared in the comic book adaptation of the story)