Thursday, November 3, 2016

games, part 19

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

"just hold the ladder steady,” porterfield told bob. “do you think you can do that?”

bob’s answer was lost in the wind.

when he was almost at the top of the ladder, porterfield was hit in the face with another gust of wind and his nerve failed him. there is no way, he thought, i will ever be able to board up all these windows. i should have started hours ago.

i am wasting time. i should be thinking of a way to murder the old lady and pin the blame on these two fellows - these two madmen. it is all well enough to have a general plan…

holding on to the ladder with his left hand, the hand he had the hammer in, and clutching the board under this left arm, he slowly reached with his right hand into his shirt pocket for a nail…

the board under his arm slipped loose and clattered down the ladder.

bob jumped to the side, and as he did, he pushed the ladder away and it began to sway and then fell over …

porterfield crashed to the ground and broke his neck. he was killed instantly.

bob stared at porterfield’s body lying in the soggy ground. he did not know for how long.

finally the cold rain penetrated his consciousness.

bob had been down this road before.

he knew that nobody would believe he had not killed porterfield on purpose.

he had to get away.

where was the professor? and could he trust the professor?

the professor’s car was at the bottom of the hill. the professor must have the keys.

but even if bob could somehow get the keys from the professor, he, bob, was not a good driver under the best conditions because his mind wandered and he could not keep it on the road.

and the rain and wind were worse than ever.

bob looked around and saw a dark shape - it was the dead man’s car.

the dead man - pete or pat or whatever he said his name was - must have the keys in his pocket.

bob decided to risk it. what choice did he have?


mrs morris watched as the professor made his way down the hall to the cellar door. he was not walking like a man with a purpose.

maybe i should go down with him, she thought, just see that he gets properly started.

she decided to take a quick peek outside, to see if porterfield and the young man were as busy as they should be.

clutching her dressing gown around her, she made her way to the front door.

a savage blast of wind and rain smacked her in the face when she opened the door.

she started to try to close the door when she heard a car’s engine starting.

was porterfield leaving? why?

mrs morris ran out into the driveway. suddenly she was blinded by the headlights of porterfield’s car coming right at her.

bob, who had not been able to figure out how to turn on the windshield wipers, never saw her.


the professor, after opening the cellar door, could not find a light switch at the head of the stairs.

he had forgotten that the old lady had told him not to use it, and in any case, he was not about to descend into the pitch dark cellar with no light at all.

as he turned back down the hall, he felt the blast of the wind coning through the open front door.

then he heard a loud whacking sound and the screech of a car’s wheels on gravel.

he rushed outside. he almost tripped on the body of the old lady.

bob had missed the sloping driveway and porterfield’s car was bouncing and skidding down the hill.

with a tremendous crash porterfield’s car hit the professor’s car parked at the bottom of the hill.

the professor looked around. in addition to mrs morris’s body, he saw porterfield’s body and the fallen ladder beside the house.

the professor started down the hill , toward the wreck of the two cars.

he heard a voice,

bob was coming up the hill. waving his arms and crying, “i’m all right! i’m all right!”

“you’re all right?” the professor shouted at bob. “what about my car? what about - what about everything?”

as he stood in the wind and rain, the professor took solace in a thought he had had many times before.

it was not just himself who was mad, it was the world.

part 20

No comments: