Wednesday, October 5, 2016

games, part 15

by harold p sternhagen writing as "ralph desmond"

being a sequel to fun

illustrated by konrad kraus

originally appeared in the july through october 1952 issues of walloping midnight stories magazine

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

“ha, ha!” exclaimed the professor, as they were past the barricade and speeding up again. “we fooled him! we fooled him good!”

bob had been picked up by crazy people before, so the professor’s outburst did not bother him too much.

and bob of course was crazy himself - certified as such by booby hatch doctors in four states - so who was he to complain?

just another day or night among the lost souls running and crawling and driving over the surface of the spinning earth.

what did bother bob a little was the wind they were suddenly heading into, wind which threatened to blow the old packard off the road.

at least there were no other cars in sight, to crash into.

and bob could see the professor was concentrating on his driving and keeping the car on the road.

the professor had stopped telling his story.

which bob had already forgotten every word of anyway.

bob did not want to distract the professor so he kept his mouth shut as the car headed into the wind down the highway.

what was it the trooper had said back at the barricade? about the storm? bob had not really been paying much attention and probably would not remembered even if he had been.

remembering stuff was not bob’s road game.

at least, thought bob, it has not started raining.

and then the rain came.

driving sheets of wind-driven rain, covering the windshield and overpowering the feeble windshield wipers.

damn, thought bob, i shouldn’t have thought that about the rain. i made it happen.

it had happened to bob many times before. he thought about something - and then it happened!

the human mind is a terrible thing, and bob should have known better, after all his experiences with his own mind.

of course he was not going to tell the professor what he had done.

the rain was harder now, and bob was a little bit scared.

should he suggest that the professor pull over? it was hard to see what “over” was - it could be a deep ditch that would send them tumbling over, it could be a river. and if they just stopped in the road there might be somebody right behind them, though that was unlikely.

maybe if the professor pulled over real slow, bob could get out and see where they were?

but these thoughts of bob’s were interrupted by the professor laughing and shouting, “what fun! what glorious fun!”

he is even crazier than me, bob thought.

bob gave up. he decided to just see what happened, as he had so many times before.

they kept on. the rain and wind got worse, and the car started to skid a couple of times, but the professor got it under control and actually slowed down some.

“look for some lights!” the professor shouted.

that’s something, bob thought, at least he wants to stop. “do you know where you are?”

the professor did not seem to hear him, so bob shouted louder, “do you know where we are?”

“no,” the professor answered, “but there has to be an old house along the road somewhere. there always is!”

bob did not reply, and the professor continued, “barry won’t let me down! there will be an old dark house along the road here somewhere.”

barry? “who is barry?” bob shouted.

“my friend i was telling you about!”

“oh.” bob had forgotten everything the professor said.

“he rules the world now!” the professor said. “he was working on a secret project and he stumbled on the key to the universe - to reality! so he rules the world now!”

bob just nodded. he was getting too confused now to be scared.

“and he’s still my pal, even though he stole my girl, “ the professor added, in an almost normal voice.

bob had an idea. a good idea.

i will say i see a light, he thought. even if i really don’t. that way he will stop. and then i can just get away.

i will get soaked but i have been soaked before. at least i probably won’t be dead.

“hey! i think i see a light! “ bob shouted.

it worked. the professor slowed down and came to an almost smooth stop.

with a shudder of relief, bob pushed the door open against the wind.

he slipped out of the car, and looked around.

and there - about five hundred yards away - was a light! not too bright, but definitely a light.

bob moved away from the car, squinting into the rain.

it was a house all right, up on a hill. an enormous old house, but with just one lit window, barely visible on the top floor.

the professor got out of the car, after moving it a little further off the road.

“i can’t see a damned thing,” he told bob. “either with my glasses on or without them. you will have to lead me.”

it didn’t bother you when you were driving, bob thought, but did not say so.

bob took the professor’s arm, and they moved slowly toward the hill, looking for a path up it.


damn, thought porterfield, this is really bad, as he guided the ancient bentley around the bends in the road back to the old morris house.

the rain had hit just as he left old burley’s general store. at least burley had been busy enough with other customers that porterfield did not have to stand around politely listening to his interminable gossip and chatter.

maybe he should not have gone into simmonsville at all, but there was no use crying about it now.

and at least he had the wind at his back, and there were no other cars on the road that he could see.

he took each turn very carefully, in case there was a stalled or flooded car just around it.

he got back safely.

as he reached the sloping driveway, he noticed a car parked - abandoned? - just beyond the hill the old house stood.on.

he got up the hill and parked as close to the house as he could get .

before unloading the supplies he had gone to town for, he looked down the hill and saw a couple of figures approaching. a taller one seemed to be helping a shorter one along.

what is this? porterfield thought. i will make short work of these rascals. probably a couple of good for nothings using the storm as an excuse to impose on honest citizens and steal the silverware.

but as they got closer, suddenly a beautiful thought entered his brain.

maybe, he thought, i have been waiting for these gentry for years. maybe they are the pawns of fate, come to save me.

part 16

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