Selected story summaries by billborre [WorldCat.org]
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100 wild little weird tales

by Stefan R Dziemianowicz; Robert E Weinberg; Martin Harry Greenberg;

  Print book : Fiction

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Selected story summaries   (2020-01-01)

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by billborre

"I Can’t Wear White" by Suzanne Pickett - Angela doesn't believe Dereck's story about a woman named Opal he picked up at a bridge on Labor Day midnight and drove to her father's house. When he arrives and exits the car to open the passenger side Opal has vanished. Her father waits for him at the door with a sad expression and since Dereck has become smitten with Opal he approaches the man to ask his permission to court her. Dereck is shocked to learn Opal drowned at the bridge five years ago and each Labor Day her ghost has gotten a ride back to the house and disappears. Angela and Dereck meet and fall in love so Angela decides to return to bridge alone and see if Opal appears because Dereck has given her a ride home for the last five years and wants closure with his feelings for Opal. Angela doesn't think she'll see anything but she's surprised when Opal's father drives up and she enters the car and it drives off. Dereck is late and arrives thirty minutes after midnight to give Angela a ride back home. Dereck marries Angela and the two of them move to California. Dereck mentions to Angela that he wonders why Opal stopped coming and Angela shows him a newspaper clipping he was unaware of that details the drowning of Opal's father at that same bridge on Labor Day with the authorities unsure as to whether it was suicide or accidental.

"What Waits In Darkness" by Loretta Burrough - Christy is engaged to marry Duncan but he is killed in an accident so she marries Roger even though she doesn't love him. She has a recurring nightmare where she stands in a hallway gripping a bloody knife and her doctor recommends that she and Roger take a vacation. Roger buys train fare for the two of them to stay at a place his aunt owns. Christy is disturbed to recognize the hallway in the house as the same in her dream but Roger is irritated with her when she suggests they leave immediately because he doesn't want to waste the train fare. Eight days pass and although Christy expects the dream to return the first night it does not reoccur. Roger is in the kitchen with a knife he found and cleaned up from the attic and Christy is disturbed that it is the one from her dream. Christy begs Roger that they leave immediately and when he brushes her off she becomes angry and says that Duncan would never have treated her so. This makes Roger angry in turn and he says to her that Duncan confided in him before he died he wished he could get out of his engagement because he was tired of her. Christy wonders if Roger was lying to her as she goes to sleep. When she wakes she finds herself gripping the bloody knife and Roger is nowhere to be seen.

"The Tree of Life" by Paul Ernst - A sixteen year-old boy is asked to stay by the side of a dead woman while his father gives the husband a ride into town to fetch the undertaker. A rat pokes its head into the door and at first the boy does nothing glad to be distracted from his grim vigil but eventually reaches for one of his boots and tosses it at the rat. The boot strikes the rat and kills it which prompts another one to show up. The boy figures it's the dead one's mate and he's astonished to see the rat has a green leaf in its mouth during the dead of winter. He's heard tales of a Tree of Life which is supposed to be located around these parts but never put much credence in them until the rat touches the leaf to the corpse and it springs to life. The two rats rush out of the cabin and the boy picks up the leaf. He wonders what will happen if he applies it to the dead woman's forehead but icy fingers grip his wrist before he can do so and the dropped leaf is blown through the window. When his father and the dead woman's husband eventually return the widower assumes his wife is happier now that she is with her blind dead daughter and the boy assumes the daughter's ghost had interfered with his attempt to resurrect the dead woman.

"The Violet Death" by Gustav Meyrink - Sir Roger hears of a tribe of Tibetans living in a valley which is cut off by poison gas that bubbles up from the earth at its entrance. He resolves to explore by outfitting himself and his servant Pompejus with diving suits to pass the poison gas. This works but when they approach the people they are hostile and they have reportedly been taught supernatural spells to destroy outsiders. The word that they speak Pompejus can lip read but can't hear so only Sir Roger is killed by being transformed into a jelly-like cone. When the natives unblock their ears Pompejus shouts the word back at them and they are transformed into cones as well. Pompejus retreats to his diving suit but is nicked by a poisoned knife thrown by a surviving member of the tribe. As Pompejus records his dying moments in a journal he is glad that the word he learned from them will die with him.

"The Last Man" by Seabury Quinn - Mycroft is a young World War I soldier with his fellows when a beautiful young lady named Juanita promises the boys that she will give herself to the last of them so they drunkenly form the Last Man Club which meets annually. The years go by and Mycroft sees more of their members pass away. When his last companion is gone and he is the only one left he contracts with Toussaint, a voodoo priest, to perform a seance. When Mycroft arrives Toussaint warns him not to cross the hexagon drawn on the ground with chalk or he will be worse than dead, he will be lost, and Mycroft acquiesces. Toussaint summons unliving shades and Mycroft inquires about Juanita. When he sees her he disregards Toussaint's warning about crossing the hexagon and goes to her to part her veil. Under the veil is a grinning skull with blonde hair. Mycroft drops dead.

"The Haunted Wood of Adoure" by Elliot O’Donnell - An executioner cycles through the wood when he has an accident and stops at a cottage to ask if he can spend the night. During the evening he has a dream or vision of the cottage owner having his throat cut by another man while the cottage owner's young wife holds a basin to catch the blood. In the morning nothing seems amiss and he pays the young woman for his lodging and goes on his way. He mentions the odd experience but she waves it away as occurring on new year's eve when spirits are thought to be about. Years later the executioner leads a man to the scaffold that he recognizes as the murderer from the wood and he is recognized in turn. After the hanging he asks about the details of the condemned man's crime and learns the location and method match those of his strange vision.

"The Statue" by James Causey - Winters causes a despairing sculptor to walk in front of a truck after refusing to allow him to finish a statue's hands. A week passes where Winters hears strange sounds at night and when he examines the statue it appears as though the hands are being worked on. Winters attempts to have someone take it off the premises but when the man fails to keep his appointment Winters becomes hysterical. The following day the man does show up and is surprised to find the police on location. Winters has had his head nearly torn off. Remembering Winters had mentioned the closet during his frantic phone call he takes a peek while the police are distracted by the corpse. At first he appreciates the beautiful workmanship of the statue but then becomes horrified when he notices the statue's hands are stained a deep red.

"Nude with a Dagger" by John Flanders - Warton gives Gryde a painting of a nude man in exchange for eleven months of debt relief but after the time has elapsed Warton still cannot pay. Warton and his mother are found suffocated by fumes and Gryde discovers a letter addressed to him about the painting wherein he names it "Vengeance" and promises to add a final touch. Gryde considers it a mad comment as a dead man couldn't add any further detail to a painting then he becomes convinced the nude figure in the painting is moving. The narrator advises Gryde to destroy it but when he approaches the painting he flings the dagger onto his desk because he just can't bring himself to destroy something of value. The following day the narrator discovers Gryde with his throat cut and the figure in the painting is holding a blood red dagger.

"Threshold of Endurance" by Betsy Emmons - A woman tells a bum at the kitchen window she has nothing for him and he ignores her. When she walks out of the kitchen she hears noise back in there and is shocked to find the bum rummaging through the ice box. She threatens to call the police but all the bum does is calmly tuck the stolen food under his arm and walk out as though he isn't even frightened. This upsets the woman and she attempts to recall the events of the previous evening. She remembers that she had berated her husband for coming down to the kitchen for a midnight snack. Try as she might she cannot recall what happened after he followed her back upstairs to the bedroom. She returns to her bedroom with a sinking feeling about what she will find and spies her own body still in bed with a gash across its throat.

"A Gipsy Prophecy" by Bram Stoker - Joshua and Gerald visit a gypsy camp where the gypsy queen gives Joshua a palm reading and tells him that his hand is the hand of a wife murderer. Gerald thinks Joshua should not mention the prophecy to his wife Mary but he does anyway and Mary is so distraught she resolves to visit the gypsy without Joshua's knowledge. The woman tells her she sees Mary and her husband surrounded by her blood. Mary decides to dull the house's knives which excites Joshua so he retrieves a weapon he's received from India. When he approaches Mary with it she faints and Joshua drops the blade to catch her but not before Mary cuts her hand and wedding band on it. Later Joshua kisses Mary's bandaged hand and couple is glad that the prophecy did not completely fulfill.

"The Iron Hands of Katzaveere" by David Eynon - A German officer informs the Burgomeister that he intends to destroy the dike which will drown the townsfolk. There's nothing the Burgomeister can do and the officer laughs at him while noticing three iron hands hanging off hooks from the mantle. He's curious as to what they represent and the Burgomeister informs him during the middle ages it was custom to sever the hands of criminals and cast them in iron to display as a deterrent. Two of the hands are from traitors and the third is a murderer's. The officer is amused and demands the Burgomeister give them to him and he acquiesces. At midnight the two traitor's hands, seeking redemption, animate and strangle the officer to save the town.

"The Hunch" by Gene Lyle III - McCassey is riding a train with a surgeon who gives McCassey a sedative for his nerves and then falls asleep.  McCassey is surprised to see a beautiful girl desperately attempting to rouse the sleeping surgeon to no avail and he offers her a piece of paper to write down what she wants. When he reads the bridge has been washed out only moments before he looks up and the girl has vanished. McCassey pulls the emergency stop chord and begins to wonder if it was a foolish act, but no, joining other passengers at the front of the train he sees the bridge has indeed been washed away. McCassey tells the surgeon his daughter had attempted to rouse him. The surgeon pales and tells McCassey his daughter is in the baggage car.

"The Extra Passenger" by Stephen Grendon - Simon murders his uncle and then escapes by train. After he returns to his compartment from visiting the lavatory he's surprised there's another occupant with a hat over his face. Thinking the man must have wandered in accidentally he tries to get him to leave but when he reveals enough to make Simon suspicious about what the stranger knows about his uncle Simon resolves to murder him as well and dispose of the body. The stranger tells Simon there were facts about his uncle he was ignorant of one of which was that he was a warlock and could create a lich. Simon has had enough and pulls the hat away shocked to see the stranger is the animated corpse of his uncle who strangles him.

"The Hidden Talent of Artist Bates" by Snowden T. Herrick - An advertising artist discovers that when he erases a detail of what he draws it also has effects upon reality. He hates his boss because he won't let him draw anything but backgrounds so he draws a figure that he thinks looks like his boss figuring he will erase it if the boss won't give him an advance. He shows the picture to his boss but the boss realizes something about the artist's psychology that he can't see for himself. Whenever the artist draws a human figure he ends up drawing a likeness of himself. The artist is angry with the assessment and resolves to punish his boss by erasing the throat but he ends up cutting his own throat instead.

"Masquerade" by Mearle Prout - Donald leaves the masquerade looking for Leonora in the garden where he finds her beneath a tall figure brandishing a knife. Donald struggles with the mummy-like figure that Leonora identifies as a priest but he soon realizes he has been set up as she refuses to help him by retrieving the dropped knife. Just as Donald manages to pick the knife from the grass and aim a blow at his opponent's throat the gaunt man transfers his soul into Donald's body. Donald can only stare in stunned shock at the blood covering his wizened hand he pressed to his throat as Leonora and the occupant of the body that used to be his walk away arm in arm laughing at him.

"The Ring" by J. M. Fry - The narrator is warned that the ring he is wearing bears a curse which will result in death within twenty-four hours. The man warning him offers to buy the ancient Egyptian ring from him so that he may destroy it. The narrator scoffs but tells him that he will give him the ring to destroy if he reconsiders. The narrator has some close calls on his way to his residence to retire for the evening but thinks maybe the ring is actually a good luck charm since he survived. The event which leads him to reconsider and hand over the ring for destruction is when he discovers that somehow the gas jet in his room had been turned on.

"A Pair of Swords" by Carl Jacobi - The narrator is a second for two men dueling for the hand of Lady Constance. When his dark opponent exclaims to the youth Lady Constance has given him the locket he wears around his neck the younger man becomes enraged and tells his opponent that he will wear it for all eternity before stabbing through the locket and into the man's throat. The story shifts to the present day in a museum where the guide is asked about two swords and he says they are the least interesting exhibit but becomes upset when he examines one closely and discovers a locket from another exhibit has been pierced by the sword tip.

"A Dream of Death" by Andrew Daw - A man and his wife are murdered for life insurance policy money but the killer has mercy on their infant and carries him out of the burning building. Years later the man who was the infant tells the killer that he has recurring dreams of the night his parents died but the killer is relived that he admits he never saw the killer's face, even if it were possible to clearly recall an event of so long ago in a dream. The killer is shocked when the man draws a gun on him. The man tells him even though he never saw his face that night he did see the quarter-sized crimson birthmark he has upon his forehead.

"Off the Map" by Rex Dolphin - A hiker seeks the ruins of Wychburne and when he discovers them he's surprised to see the inhabitants clothing and manner hundreds of years out of date. When he admits he's from London he's beaten with staves and run out of town to a nearby village. Mentioning Wychburne to the barkeep he receives a hostile response but when he relates his story the barkeep takes pity on him and tells him to strip and wash down in a barrel. The barkeep informs the hiker that the town of Wychburne was destroyed by a plague carrier who arrived from London more than three hundred years ago.

"The Man Who Was Saved" by B. W. Sliney - The Pacific Belle picks up a sailor who relates a wild tale about a blob-like creature which attacked his previous vessel and killed all the crew. No one takes him seriously and when they locate the derelict they dynamite it to ensure that it isn't a menace to shipping. The man is on deck one evening when he recognizes signs the creature is returning and attempts to warn the bridge but they ignore him so he grabs a preserver and goes over the rail. The creature drags the Pacific Belle beneath the waves and the sole survivor is rescued by a second ship.

"Murder Mask" by Edgar Daniel Kramer - Tony gives his cousin Tom a cursed mask for a costume party that will force him to murder his wife Nita so that Tony will inherit money. Tom does stab Nita but Tony doesn't anticipate Tom forcing him at knife point to don the cursed object which will make him kill the one he loves most. In Tony's case that's himself and the mask forces him to drink the vial of poison he had brought along as a backup in the event the mask failed. Tom is so distraught over Nita's death that he stabs himself and falls dead on top of her corpse.

"The Finishing Touches" by Renier Wyers - Blake gets a look at the large painting his painter acquaintance Tandriv claims was inspired by Satan. Blake thinks it repulsive and attempts to convince Tandriv to leave off but the painter is impatient to add the finishing touches and Blake leaves the studio. That evening Tandriv is killed, his body twisted and broken. When the police ask Blake his opinion of what left the strange marks upon the body Blake gestures towards the painting, but when he looks upon the canvas he is shocked to see that it is now blank.

"The Japanese Tea Set" by Francis J. O’Neil - Josh sees a Japanese psychiatrist because he thinks the ghost of his spurned lover Chiroco is haunting him. The doctor tells Josh that it is just his conscience bothering him and dismisses him but knows that the American really is being haunted by the spirit of a malevolent suicide. The doctor confers with his blind servant why he did not serve the tea he had specified and the servant can perceive the girl's spirit so he responds that her professions of undying love were unseemly for a Japanese girl.

"A Visitor From Far Away" by Loretta Burrough - Mrs. Bowen doesn't want to spend the evening alone but her servants phone her that they can't make it through the snowstorm. She fears the threat of her husband when he said he'd get even with her although he is serving a life imprisonment sentence. The evening wears on and she receives a phone call informing her that her husband has passed away. She hears strange noises and the lights dim. She thinks she sees hands that remind her of his reaching towards the final candle.

"The Last Drive" by Carl Jacobi - Jeb is transporting a coffin in his van through a snowstorm when the engine gives out. Thinking he's going to have to spend the night out on the road, and it's warmer in the back but he doesn't want to sleep beside the coffin, Jeb puts the coffin in the cab and gets in the back of the van. Sleep proves elusive but he sits bolt upright when he realizes the van is moving. He peers through the small glass window and is shocked to discover the dead man Philip is driving the van!

"The Seeds from Outside" by Edmond Hamilton - Standifer plants two seeds that he takes from a meteor and they grow into plant people. Standifer falls in love with the girl plant and the man plant develops a murderous rage. When Standifer leaves his garden to get food in town and returns he finds the girl plant has been killed by the man plant. He takes a scythe and cuts the man plant down, then moves to the Arizona desert where he will not be reminded of beautiful green things growing. 

"The Unveiling" by Alfred I. Tooke - Ravenoff survives the Russian revolution and creates grim paintings stemming from his experience. The unveiling of his latest titled "Death" is so large it takes an entire gallery wall and the spectators are held back by a chord at the far end of the room. One of remarks that the shadow is wrong for the figure in the corner with the bullet hole in its forehead and another leaps the chord and discovers it is the body of Ravenoff when he approaches.

"On Top" by Ralph Allen Lang - Steve buries his partner Shorty after the marshal guns him down because the marshal hopes to jump their claim to the only remaining good mine in the town of Red Dog. When the marshal shows up at the graveside before the funeral begins and mentions something about Shorty always coming out on top Steve gets the idea that he can make the marshal disappear by murdering him with the pick ax and burying him beneath Shorty's body.

"The Teakwood Box" by Johns Harrington - A thief steals a box with a curse on it from an old woman. She can't meet his ransom demand but tells him over the phone that the box is supposed to bring good luck as long as its owner does not attempt to open it. The thief hangs up on the woman and decides to try to open it before disposing of it. He succeeds in opening the box but is jabbed by a poisoned needle. The box is empty and the thief succumbs to the poison.

"The Harbor of Ghosts" by M. J. Bardine - After several days at sea the survivor of a shipwreck drifts into what appears to be the frozen caldera of a dormant volcano and finds it occupied by the ghost of his grandfather and sailors of another vessel which nightly repeat their bloody mutiny. The man attempts to speak with his grandfather but receives no reply and resigns himself to becoming yet another trapped ghost once he freezes to death.

"Under the Eaves" by Helen M. Reid - Hannah badgers her henpecked husband Nate into going outside and hanging himself from a tree branch. His ghost returns and is no longer intimidated by her. Hannah politely asks him to check on the noise which is frightening her and he departs. When Hannah investigates and discovers that it is the storm wind blowing Nate's body into the house producing thumping noises she faints.

"The Gloves" by Garnett Radcliffe - The narrator unknowingly buys a pair of gloves that were looted at the scene of an accident where the previous owner had his hands severed at the wrists. The gloves seek revenge for this affront and the narrator never sees them move so he assumes the noises he hears in his dresser at night are rats. The gloves make their escape from his room and track down the looter to strangle him.

"Warning Wings" by Arlton Eadie - A sea captain tells a man that he has spared the life of a moth because of a time when he was at sea and one tapped out an SOS on his compass. After asking his first mate his opinion on the matter, who remains neutral, the captain makes the decision to alter course to the direction the moth indicates. His decision results in the salvation of a thousand lives one of which became his wife.

"In The Dark" by Ronal Kayser - Asa makes a recording for his wife Jeannette explaining why he has chosen to commit suicide. He admits to her that he wrote love letters to a woman named Dot and Dot had attempted to blackmail him so he shot her. He dumps her body into an acid vat but his conscience won't let him be and he imagines that he hears her voice and that her body is restoring itself within the vat.

"The Last of Mrs. DeBrugh" by H. Sivia - The maid is liked by the husband but disliked by the wife. He promises the maid he will provide for her in his will after he and his wife have died but he dies before his wife. His wife tells that her services will no longer be required, but the husband returns from the dead to give his wife a lethal shock and the maid benefits from the generous terms of his will.

"The Justice of the Tzar" by Captain George Fielding Eliot - Dimitri is an executioner for the Czar. A hooded prisoner is accused of being in a plot to overthrow the Czar. Dimitri is ordered to flog the man to death but when the prisoner is revealed to be the Czar's own son Dimitri knows he's in hot water. The Czar orders that Dimitri's hands be severed from his wrists.

"Top of the World" by Tarleton Collier - A man is given a ring by a devil which allows him unalterable knowledge of the future which he uses to bet on horse races until he's given the knowledge that he will run down his own son with his new car. Realizing the price is too high he withdraws the pistol from the car door's side pocket and ends his life.

"Thinker" by Malcolm Kenneth Murchie - The head psychiatrist in an institution interviews a patient who claims to have created him, the sun and river. The doctor thinks the old man is a typical example of somebody with a god complex, but as the transient lies dying in a cot downstairs, the doctor notices odd things about the sun, sky and river. 

"Take the Z Train" by Allison V. Harding - Henry is puzzled when he boards the subway train and notices that it is identified with a Z when only A or B has ever picked up at that station. His puzzlement deepens when he observes the other passengers are either older or younger versions of himself or people he knew in his life.

"The Dream of Death" by Elwood F. Pierce - A psychologist discovers that he can mentally control the behavior of a halfwit but this realization produces panic after the psychologist has a dream in which the halfwit stabs him to death and he finds himself unable to summon the clarity of thought to prevent the halfwit from assaulting him.

"The Man in the Taxi" by Leslie Gordon Barnard - Enderby goes for a ride in a taxi whose driver is the ghost of a man Enderby feels guilty about running down. After Enderby confesses his guilt to the driver the ghost laughs and admits to Enderby he is the dead man's ghost which shocks Enderby's heart into giving out.

"Soulcatcher" by Robert S. Carr - Old John is a surgeon who collects the souls of the dying inside of glass jars he keeps in a cabinet. When a part of the elevator breaks it shakes the building which shatters the cabinet jars. The released souls all try to crowd into Old John's body at once causing his death.

"Eric Martin’s Nemesis" by Jay Wilmer Benjamin - Eric murders the jail guard and escapes his cell but soon finds himself pursued by a shadowy figure. It turns out what is pursuing Eric is not the ghost of the dead guard but rather Eric's soul, lost by committing the act of murder.

"Rendezvous" by Richard H. Hart - A doctor takes a night ferry in order to reach his patient in time and is later told the engineer he encountered with the wooden leg died twenty years ago in a terrible accident and there hasn't been a ferry on that part of the river since.

"The Fifth Candle" by Cyril Mand - An old Russian occultist who is dissatisfied with his five sons curses each to die annually at eight o'clock when his spirit returns to light the candelabra and the candle subsequently burns down and extinguishes. 

"The Other Santa" by Thorp McClusky - A radio program arranges to have an actor play Santa Claus and deliver a check to a paralyzed girl to pay for her operation during the broadcast but he gets stuck in a ditch and the real Santa shows up.

"The Sixth Gargoyle" by David Eynon - A police inspector discovers that a Burgomeister has been murdering the descendants of those responsible for an ancestor's death being ruled a suicide and interred in unhallowed ground.

"The Pale Man" by Julius Long - An assistant professor on vacation is puzzled by the room-changing activity of a pale hotel guest until he discovers the pale man's identity is Death and he has come for him.

"The Nightmare Road" by Florence Crow - A man walking to the town of Goslar on Halloween night encounters demons which he holds at bay with the cross a concerned woman had gifted him.

"The Tryst in the Tomb" by M. J. Cain - A widower is jealous of his dead wife's lover who visits her at night so he builds a trap in the tomb to lock him inside with her until he starves to death.

"The Stranger from Kurdistan" by E. Hoffman Price - Satan attends a Black Mass in order to give his would-be followers a dressing down for acknowledging the sovereignty of Christ. 

"Parthenope" by Manly Wade Wellman - It's Colby's bad luck to wash up on the isle of a siren who nurses him back to health only so that she may devour him.

"The Girdle" by Joseph McCord - This story postulates an unusual method whereby one can transform into a werewolf by donning a belt made of human skin.

"The Witchbaiter" by R. Anthony - An Inquisition judge is forced unknowingly to preside over the trial and torture of his own daughter for witchcraft.

"The High Places" by Frances Garfield - A woman takes a flight where she is accosted by the possessive ghost of her dead pilot lover.

"The Ocean Ogre" by Dana Carroll - Sailors on a stranded vessel are tormented by a were-jellyfish calling itself Gervais.

"No Eyewitnesses" by Henry S. Whitehead - A werewolf gangster is shot dead and Everard Simon is a witness.

"The Late Mourner" by Julius Long - Sloan is an amnesiac ghost who attends his own funeral.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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