1921 The Lurking Fear

Weird Tales 1928.06
Written 1922.10, published in Home Brew 1923.01-04, reprinted in Weird Tales 1928.06.

Opening Statement:
     There was thunder in the air on the night I went to the deserted mansion atop Tempest Mountain to find the lurking fear. I was not alone, for foolhardiness was not then mixed with that love of the grotesque and the terrible which has made my career a series of quests for strange horrors in literature and in life.
What in Brown Jenkin's Name..?
     On Tempest Mountain, lightning storms are often accompanied by incidents of bloody murder. The narrator investigates the nearby Martense mansion and eventually discovers underground passageways. 
  1. The Shadow On The Chimney: A weird storm on haunted Tempest Mountain drives away the local inhabitants. Later, 75 citizens are discovered to be either missing or "chewed up". The narrator (with some bodyguards) visits the creepy Martense mansion nearby, theorizing that the storm had conjured up some kind of monster. They become sleepy, but the narrator notices something resting on his chest. During a lightning bolt a fearful shadow appears outlined against the chimney, and the narrator’s two bodyguards disappear without a trace.
  2. A Passer In the Storm: The narrator convinces a reporter to accompany him on research trips to Tempest Mountain. During a massive storm they find shelter in a house. After another lightning bolt, the reporter looks out the window. The narrator goes outside and sees that the reporter’s face has been ripped off.
  3. What The Red Glare Meant: The narrator digs up the grave of Martense mansion's original owner, Jan Martense, and reflects on the mansion’s history. He learns that the mansion was built on the site despite the frequent lightning storms native to the area. The original family and its descendants reportedly had "strange eyes" and had become more and more reclusive over the years. One relative, Jan Martense, had briefly left the family to join the army. When he returned home, he was no longer welcome in the mansion. Jan Martense’s murdered body is later found in a secret grave. The mansion is afterwards avoided by the locals, and later seems to have been abandoned. While visiting Jan Martense’s grave, the narrator finds an underground tunnel beneath Jan's coffin. Inside the tunnel, the narrator glimpses floating eyes and a claw in the darkness, but a bolt of lightning causes a cave in and the narrator emerges alone. He later finds out that another violent crime had occurred nearby (just as the lightning bolt had struck), and that the villagers had set a fire to try and kill a monster.
  4. The Horror In The Eyes: The narrator notices ranges of hummocks (hills) emanating from a central location: the summit of Tempest Mountain. He digs into one of the mounds and discovers a tunnel. He returns to the Martense mansion and discovers a tunnel below the mansion chimney. As a lightning storm brews outside, the narrator spies on the chimney floor and witnesses thousands of dwarfish "devil-apes" erupting from the fireplace and spreading out into the night. As they disperse, the narrator shoots a straggler. When he examines the body he sees that it has the infamous "strange eyes" of the long-lost Martense family, and realizes that the horde of ape creatures is the result of Martense family in-breeding and cannibalism. Tempest Mountain is subsequently destroyed with dynamite.
Home Brew magazine
Essential Saltes:
     For Arthur Munroe was dead. And on what remained of his chewed and gouged head there was no longer a face.
From Dr. Armitage's Notes:
  • Genealogy horror. HPL's following story, "The Rats in the Walls" has a slightly similar premise, but with a much more unsettling perspective.
  • In its original publication in Home Brew magazine, HPL's friend Clark Ashton Smith provided the illustrations, sometimes employing hidden genitalia his artwork (see above).
  • Like "Herbert West: Reanimator", this story was designed to be published in 4 separate magazine issues, with each story holding up independently.

The Horrible Conclusion:
     What I saw in the glow of flashlight after I shot the unspeakable straggling object was so simple that almost a minute elapsed before I understood and went delirious. The object was nauseous; a filthy whitish gorilla thing with sharp yellow fangs and matted fur. It was the ultimate product of mammalian degeneration; the frightful outcome of isolated spawning, multiplication, and cannibal nutrition above and below the ground; the embodiment of all the snarling and chaos and grinning fear that lurk behind life. It had looked at me as it died, and its eyes had the same odd quality that marked those other eyes which had stared at me underground and excited cloudy recollections. One eye was blue, the other brown. They were the dissimilar Martense eyes of the old legends, and I knew in one inundating cataclysm of voiceless horror what had become of that vanished family; the terrible and thunder-crazed house of Martense.
Read it here.

Follow'd by "The Rats in the Walls".