Murgunstrumm by Hugh B. Cave
Can Paul Hill escape from the insane asylum? If he does he must return to the Gray Toad Inn and destroy Murgunstrumm and the vampires within. Ruth LeGeurn’s life depends upon it.
Can Paul Hill escape from the insane asylum? If he does he must return to the Gray Toad Inn and destroy Murgunstrumm and the vampires within. Ruth LeGeurn’s life depends upon it. Murgunstrumm is a classic vampire novel from 1932.
Murgunstrumm (1932) – Candle-lit and decayed is the Gray Toad Inn, where Murgunstrumm receives each lovely, unsuspecting guest
Chapter I – 3 A. M.
Chapter II – Armand LeGeurn
Chapter III – “To Rehobeth”
Chapter IV – “They Don’t Come Out, Sir”
Chapter V – Murgunstrumm
Chapter VI – Kermeff and Allenby
Chapter VII – The Innkeeper
Chapter VIII – The Winged Thing
Chapter IX – A Strange Procession
Chapter X – A Girl’s Voice
Chapter XI – Compelling Eyes. . . .
Chapter XII – The Vault
Hugh Barnett Cave (1910–2004) was one of the most prolific contributors to pulp magazines of the 1920s and ’30s, selling an estimated 800 stories in almost all genres, but he is best known for his horror, weird menace and science fiction stories.
Murgunstrumm contains 3 illustrations.
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3 A. M.
THE night hours are terrifying in that part of the country, away from traveled roads and the voices of sane men. They bring the moan of lost winds, the furtive whisper of swaying trees, the agony wail of frequent storms. They bring madness to men already mad, and fear and gibbering and horrible screams of torment. And sometimes peals of wild hideous laughter a thousand times worse.
And with the dread of darkness, that night, came other fears more acute and more terrifying, to clutch viciously at the man who sought to escape. Macabre horrors of the past, breeding anew in the slough of his memory. Visions of the future, huge and black before him. Grim dread of detection!
The square clock at the end of the long corridor, radium-dialed for the guard’s benefit, told him silently that the hour was 3 A. M. The hour when darkness deepens before groping dawn; when man is so close to that other-world of mystery that a mere closing of his eyes, a mere clutching of the subconscious, brings contact with nameless shapeless entities of abhorrent magnitude. The hour when the night watch in this grim gray structure, and the solitary guard on the outer walls, would be least alert. His hour, for which he had waited seven months of eternity! His eyes were wide, staring, fearful. He crept like a cat along the corridor, listening for every separate sound. Somewhere in the tiers above him a man was screeching violently, thumping on a locked door with frenzied fists. That would be Kennery, whom they had dragged in only a week ago. They had warned him to be still at night, poor devil. In the morning he would learn the awful loneliness and silence of solitary confinement. God! And men like that had to go on living, had to wait for death, slowly!
He prowled forward again, trembling, hugging the wall with thin fingers. Three more corridors now and he would be in the yard. He clutched the key feverishly, looking down at it with hungry eyes. The yard, then the last great gate to freedom, and then. . . .
HIS groping hands touched a closed door. He stopped abruptly. Over his head hung the number 23. The V. D. ward. And he shuddered. Someone was mumbling, laughing, inside—Halsey, the poor diseased idiot who had been here eighteen endless years. He would be on hands and knees, crawling over the floor, searching for beetles. He would seek and seek; and then, triumphant at last, he would sit for hours on his cot, holding a terrified insect cupped in his huge hands while he laughed gleefully at its frantic struggles.
Sickness surged over the fugitive’s crouching body. He slunk on again quickly. God, he was glad when that mad caterwauling was smothered by a bend in the corridor! It clung in his brain as he tiptoed to the end of the passage. He fingered the key savagely. Eagerness glared in his eyes.
That key was his. His own! His own cunning had won it. During the past month he had obtained an impression of every separate lock between him and escape. Furtively, secretly, he had taken chewing-gum forms of every infernal slot.
And no one knew. No one but Martin LeGeurn, Ruth’s brother, who had come once each week, on visiting day, and carried the impressions back to the city, and had a master key made. A master key! Not successful at first. But he himself, with a steel nail file, had scraped and scraped at the thing until it fitted. And now, tonight. . . .
He descended the staircase warily, feeling his way every step. It was 3:10 now. The emergency ward would be open, with its stink of ether and its ghastly white tables on wheels. He could hide there until the guard passed. Every move according to schedule!
The door was open. He crept toward it, reached it, and stopped to peer anxiously behind him. Then he darted over the threshold and clung silently to the wall, and waited.
HOURS passed. Frantic hours of doubt and uncertainty. Strange shapes came out of nowhere, out of his distorted mind, to leer and point at him. God! Would those memories never die? Would the horrors of that hour of madness, seven months gone, torment him forever, night after night, bringing back visions of those hideous creatures of living death and the awful limping thing of the inn? Was it not enough that they had already made a soul-twisted wreck of him and sent him to this black house of dread? Would they—
Footsteps! They were audible now, approaching down the corridor outside. They came closer, closer. They scuffed past with an ominous shf-shf-shf, whispering their way. With them came the muffled clink of keys, dangling from a great ring at the guard’s belt. And the sounds died away.
The fugitive straightened up and stepped forward jerkily. And then he was running wildly down the passage in the opposite direction. A massive door loomed before him. He flung himself upon it, thrusting his own key into the lock. The door swung open. Cold, sweet air rushed into his face. Outside lay the yard, bleak, empty, and the towering walls that barred the world beyond.
His terror was gone now. His movements were mechanical and precise. Silently he locked the barrier behind him and slunk sideways along the wall of the building. If he made the slightest sound, the slightest false move, those glaring, accusing, penetrating searchlights would clank on and sweep the enclosure from one end to the other. The great siren would scream a lurid warning for miles and miles around, howling fiendishly that Paul Hill had escaped.
But if he went cautiously, noiselessly, he would be only a part of the darkness. There was no moon. The night was like pitch. The guard on the wall would not see.
Excerpt From: Hugh B. Cave. “Murgunstrumm.”
Paperback Warrior reviewed Murgunstrumm by Hugh B. Cave. Their review is HERE! Thanks PBW!
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