I love these covers. Not just for the lurid, scantily-clad damsel-in-distress poses, but also for the more subtle points — the jarring noun-noun-adjective string of words at the top; the misspelled word; the doctor’s hand holding the syringe which is almost an optical illusion; the way the illustration doesn’t quite fit the story.
On an “abysmally dark” night, Bob and Betty are being stalked through the woods by an unseen, growling entity. For a change in these stories, their car did not get stuck in mud, but is immobilized by a “broken spring.” They have wandered for miles seeking help.
The sound of their pursuer “acted as a tonic to our jaded nerves, quickening our muscles, putting us on the qui vive.” The Kindle dictionary defines qui vive as:
n. on the alert or lookout; duty requires the earnest liberal to spend most of his time on the qui vive for fascism.
Presumably so he can hold a fundraiser. BTW, a lot of dictionaries seem to use that example, but no one gives an attribution.
Soon they see a house surrounded by a fence, 20 feet in height, with tightly meshed wire fastened to high posts. It reminds Bob of a prison; or a driving range.
Admiring the fence, Bob trips and falls onto a the body of a naked woman. Bob takes no indecent liberties because she is dead and “a weird misshapen creature, her form twisted and warped.” Also because Betty is watching.
Breaking the awkwardness, or perhaps adding to it, a gorilla bursts out of the jungle. It grabs Betty and begins tearing at her clothes. Bob gamely jumps in repeatedly to save his gal. He does manage to incapacitate the gorilla long enough for them to make it to the porch of the house. Note to owner — the prison fencing is not working.
The door is answered by Professor Bixby, “a poor scholar come to this place to work out certain theories” IOW, a mad scientist. Bixby seems to be skeptical of their tale until the gorilla presses his face against the window. He summons his man-servant Jarbo, who is described a “a huge black,” and orders him to kill the beast.
Before heading out, Jarbo beings in a tray of wine and sandwiches. The famished couple dig in, but the food has been drugged and they drift off to sleep.
Bob awakens in a pit, but can hear Betty screaming. He is tied to an iron bed, but manages to loosen the ropes and escape. He finds Betty nearly naked in the lab with Bixby and the gorilla. Bixby tries to calm the gorilla telling him, “her blood will be in your veins,” and promises the gorilla’s blood will flow through Betty’s body. “Then she will be yours.”
Bob attacks Bixby, throttling his neck, but Jarbo smacks him down. Not that he cares about Bixby, he wants to get his hands on Betty. Jarbo tears at Betty’s bindings and speaks. “She is Jarbo’s! No give to ape-man this time!” Bixby manages to shoot Jarbo, but “the black” — it’s not me, that’s how he is constantly referenced! — is still able to kill him. The ape-man then attacks Jarbo, but Bob blows his brains out just as the cops show up.
According to Jarbo, Bixby was “obsessed with idea of fusing the blood of lower animals with that of white women to build up the racial stamina, weakened by the artificialities of modern life.”
I have no idea what that means, but it’s a nice little read.
- First published in Mystery Novels and Short Stories Magazine in September 1939, same issue as Ship of the Golden Ghoul.
- Also that month: Germany invades Poland and conducts first air attacks on Great Britain. FDR declares US neutral as such blood-thirsty, savage nations as New Zealand, Canada, Australia and even France declare war.
- Jarbo is described as Algerian, but repeatedly referred to as “the black.” I tried to find a list of famous Algerians to gauge their skin-color. Turns out, there are no famous Algerians.