For this batch I produced no poetry, desiring to concentrate on prose, which by that time came easily to me.
The title of the volume stems from an interesting source. There is quoted in William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich a report from the Gestapo, late in the war, of German attitudes during those terrible times. One German, obviously war weary and hopeless, appears to embrace defeat, his statement as translated being, "Better an end with horror than a horror without end."
All Expenses Paid (ss)
Paranoia reigns supreme in this novelette. We hear of these offers, even receive them ourselves: "You have won an all expenses paid vacation!" The hero of this tale gets such an offer, a trip to a seaside resort. He naturally hopes for the best, yet scarcely does he arrive than he begins to wonder what kind of place it is. He has reason to wonder. Mr. Hartmann, the unctuous manager of the resort, recites the German original of the statement quoted above: "Lieber ein ende mit schrecken als ein schrecken ohne ende."
Published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing.
The Beneficiary (ss)
Another paranoia tale (I was keen on those for a while) in which a man begins receiving gifts from an anonymous benefactor. Does not that sound wonderful? The hero deduces that someone out there must like him. However, logicians inform us that it can be a mistake to argue from effects to causes.Published in Science and Sorcery by the Press of Dyrezan.
Late Night Movies (ss)
In a few of my stories the first real evidence of something being wrong derives from strange stuff coming over radio or television. This story provides the ultimate of that sort, dealing with a fellow sitting up late, watching the old movies, who suddenly finds himself addressed by one of the characters, who proceeds to beg for help. I utilized my knowledge of old cinema, especially the silents (I include a barely fictionalized nod to Fritz Lang), to beef up the background of the tale.Published in Science and Sorcery by the Press of Dyrezan.
The Nasty Club (ss)
More paranoia, stemming this time from my favorite source, the weird organization. The hero receives an invitation from the most important men in town to join the Nasty Club. Why is it called that? What does membership require? Are there potential drawbacks? Sure there are. This is an obvious variant on "The Man In the Globe", but with this theme many variants are possible. One day I may write more of these.
Published in Malicious Deviance by Library of Horror Press.
Night Flight (ss)
This is a simple tale of a traveling salesman who gets on a passenger flight, nods off during the trip, wakes to find everything frighteningly out of kilter; another in the line of stories beginning with "Alone With the Night Crew". My favorite part is the in-flight movie.
Published by The Harrow.
Office Consultation (ss)
My goodness, does this story have a moral? If so, would it be, "Don't think too much?" There may be substance to the accusation. The poor hero, having striven to calculate the unlikelihood of his own existence, suffers the consequences of his new-found knowledge.
Published by Drabblecast.
The Love of Jacob Bleek (ss)
Having written an avalanche of poems about him, and a prior short story dealing with his ghostly legacy, I decided to introduce the dark sorcerer Jacob Bleek in the flesh with this tale, the first set during his lifetime. Needless to say, his love affair is not the stuff of romance novels.
Published in Strange Valentines by the Whortleberry Press.
Peril In the Red Zone (ss)
This is the story that sets the pattern for so many to come, a tale of Professor Vorchek in action, doing what he does best, which is investigate weird mysteries. With this story I finally operationalized the man, making him a living character who could carry a series of stories. Here, also, appears Theresa Delaney, later presented as his faithful assistant, in this outing a client, begging for Vorchek's aid in locating a missing colleague of his who happens to be Theresa's father. Doctor Delaney vanished during a strange scientific experiment; Vorchek knows how to find him, but as is often the case, while he may solve the mystery, he can not guarantee a happy ending for all.
Published by M-brane.
Critical Information (ss)
With this story I left behind my paranoia phase. A string of strategically situated murders convinces a man that he is being stalked. When the perpetrators finally approach him, in the most threatening possible fashion, he discovers that they have been watching him his entire life, recording every facet of his existence. What do they want now, and is there any "why" to any of it?
Published in Strange Mysteries by the Whortleberry Press.
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