The Forbidden Trail and Other Stories – four stories about ghosts, werewolves, zombies, and cannibals from the wicked pen of Jane Rice.
Magician’s Dinner (1942) – The lady couldn’t cook—a fact she didn’t realize till she tried it. And twenty professional magicians—er, prestidigitators, that is—coming. For once the magicians got a real magician’s dinner, though!
The Refugee (1943) – This little tale concerns a flighty little woman, Paris under Nazi domination—and one who, even in meatless France, didn’t lack for food. Also it is not the story you’ll think
The Idol of the Flies (1942) – A magnificent bit of writing about a small and utterly vicious boy—and his peculiar hobby.
The Forbidden Trail (1941) – The trail was very taboo; the natives had better sense than to follow it. The explorers, though, knew better—
Jane Dixon Rice (1913–2003) was born in Owensboro, Kentucky and was of the same family as the Mason-Dixon Line was named after. Rice caught the eye of legendary editor John W. Campbell when she submitted The Dream to his magazine Unknown in 1940. She continued to write for Unknown until its demise in 1943 during the midst of wartime paper shortages.
Both The Refugee and The Idol of the Flies have been anthologized repeatedly.
The Forbidden Trail and Other Stories contains 13 illustrations.
Available for and
The Forbidden Trail and Other Stories is also available on Barnes & Noble.
I SIGNED the bar check, picked the frosted silver goblet off the tray, my fingers leaving smudgy highways among the beaded wetness, and nibbled one of the sugared mint leaves experimentally.
“Hm-m-m,” I said with appreciative approval.
“Dat’ll put a kink in youah haih, Mistah Rutherf’d.” Sam gave me a toothy grin, took the proffered half dollar, polished it on his sleeve and pocketed it— also with appreciative approval.
“Yass suh, boss,” he said emphatically and walked away, thumping his tray happily.
Scrounging down on the back of my neck, I lifted the julep in the direction of the open window, with its panoramic view of lower Manhattan and quoth, “Here’s to New York. Good, old New York.” I drank deeply. A delicious sensation passed along my alimentary canal.
“Ahh-h-h-h-h,” I sighed in a long drawn-out exhalation of peace and contentment.
“Holy, jumping catfish!” a voice squawked behind me. “As I live and breathe, Tarzan of the Apes! Tony Rutherford! When did you get back?”
My first impulse was to get down on my hands and knees and crawl under the rug; in fact, I think I would’ve on my second impulse, too, if I hadn’t been so busy preserving not only by own equilibrium but that of my glass while undergoing a succession of thwacks on my vertebrae that felt as if they were being delivered with the flat of a meat ax. But they were, as I knew, administered by Allan Pomeroy. Those zest-ful, outdoorsy accents and the subsequent pummeling could have been authored by but one person-—the club bore.
“Hold it, and sit down and I’ll listen to how you could’ve won the tennis tournament if—” I said patiently and not too grammatically.
Pomeroy came round and perched athletically on the arm of a chair. Rangy, good-looking in a curly-haired, sunburned way, with eyes the color of, and with just about as much depth as, a Dresden china doll’s.
“Mag home, too?” he asked.
Mag. I must remember to tell Meg. Nothing made her madder than to be called “Mag”—like a witch with poisoned apples, or a swaybacked mare with its ears poking out of a straw hat, she’d say, stamping her size 3B pumps.
“No,” I replied wearily; “I traded her to a Maisai tribesman for a bolt of calico and a cotton umbrella. And it’s Meg.”
For a moment Pomeroy’s blue eyes grew very wide and then he chirruped brightly, “Oh, you’re pulling my leg.
A bolt of calico . . . oh, I say, that’s very good,” and he burst into roars of laughter while I sipped my drink and tried mental telepathy—-go away—-go away—go away—go away.
“Whose pictures did you take this time?” he queried, having with an immense effort, subsided; “Monsieur Lion? Madame Tiger? Frau Hippopotamus?”
“I didn’t bring back any pictures,” I said.
“Oh, come now, Rutherford, you’re holding out on me. Whatever it is it must be a dinger. You didn’t trek through the Liberian wilderness without clicking a lens.”
“Nothing,” I said.
“Not even a unicorn or a couple of albino gorillas?”
“You are holding out on me. Must be spectacular.” Allan wrinkled his forehead in musing concentration. “It wasn’t by any chance a zombie, was it? An authentic dyed-in-the-wool zombie with a brass nose ring and bones in its hair?- I’ve always wanted to see a picture of a zombie. Such scrumptious horror appeal. How’s about it? Any zombie snaps?”
And, all at once, I was back in that God-forsaken clearing with the silence thick as guava paste and the creepers twining over everything like sightless green snakes and the dusk closing in, a purple shroud, over the thatched roofs of that deserted Guere village.
“Nothing,” I repeated doggedly.
“No zombies,” Allan said sadly.
“No,” I said hoarsely.”
Excerpt From: Jane Rice. “The Forbidden Trail and Other Stories.”
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