Despite the cover, there are no Apes, Sexfiends, Gangsters, Mad Scientists, or Tentacles in this story; not even a blimp or anything particularly politically incorrect. Still, how can I complain about not getting my $.04 cents worth?
Tim Croft is a doctor whom the state has stationed in a rural Ozarks community. I am not clear why the state is choosing where he should practice unless possibly he majored in rickets.
Late one night, Jeb Starko — from up at Haunted Holl’r — bangs on his door. Starko claims the Ludwill clan is going to kill his wife Eula because they think she is a witch-vampire. Eula is currently under the doctor’s care and Dr. Croft knows this is not true for 2 reasons.
Nurse Brenda comes out to see what the commotion is. Someday she and Croft will marry, but for now she is rooming with the other nurse Edith. Now we’re talkin’!
The Ludwills show up carrying “the inert form of a young girl, stripped stark naked and horribly pallid in the lantern glow.” Croft is immediately taken aback as he did not get them anything. Turns out that is Ludwill’s daughter, and he is accusing Eula of being a vampire, stringing his daughter up in the woods and drinking her blood. Sure enough, she does have what appear to be fang marks on her neck. Although, I prefer to think they were from necking with with Brenda and Edith.
Croft tells him that Eula is innocent. And dead. Unfortunately, this news news to her husband. Ludwill can’t quite believe it either and asks to see her body. They go to the hospital but can’t see her body because it is gone. However, everyone does get a good look at Edith’s body as she has been stripped and hung upside down naked from a rafter. She too has been drained of blood and has wounds on her neck.
That night Croft and Brenda try to flee the town, but get stuck in the mud. Croft is knocked out and Brenda is gone when he awakens. He goes to the Starko house and sees Eula sitting at a table before bowls of blood. He then hears Brenda screaming in a nearby cave. He finds the Ludwills have strung Brenda up as revenge. During a fight, Starko enters the cave and attempts to puncture Brenda’s neck.
Croft grabs him and says, “You’re through killing girls for their blood!” The doctor describes Starko’s motives and actions with Holmesian precision. As justice was served, the doctor tells the Ludwills “I will not hold it against you for knocking me out and kidnapping my sweetheart.” Yeah, and stripping her naked, hoisting her from a rafter, and using her as bait for a killer. Bygones. Do come over Wednesday night for Uno.
- Appeared in Mystery Tales, March 1940.
- Also that month, Hitler and Mussolini meet in Brenner Pass to confirm their bromance.
- Archaic words: Eldritch — weird and sinister or ghostly.
- Bellem is apparently best know for his creation of detective Dan Turner. Good article here that makes me want to read more by him.
- He also turned out dozens of scripts for some of the most popular TV shows in the 1950’s.