Monday, December 26, 2016

games, part 25

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

edna got her hat and coat and purse and went out to her car.

before getting into it she took another look around. it was not easy to see in the wind and rain, but there was no sign of mister garver or his car, and she felt reassured that the tail lights she had seen going back towards town had indeed been his.

now she just had to find julie, who could not have gotten very far..

suddenly a thought hit her. could garver have grabbed julie? was that why he was speeding away?

no, she thought. there had not been enough time. even if julie had somehow run back around to the front of the house - and why would she do that? - and run right into garver, she, edna would have heard some sounds of a struggle.

edna started her car up, backed out of the driveway and headed slowly down the street. she decided to start by circling the block taking the first right, to come around to the street where the house behind her own was located.


bob lifted the heavy knocker on the door of the brightly lit-up house.

if he had looked closely at the knocker - which he did not - he might have noticed that it took the form of a leering ugly face. which the sculptor had probably intended to be some greek god like bacchus, but which the townsfolk walking by had always taken to be the devil.

god or devil, nobody answered when bob banged on the door with it.

julie looked back at the street. the car that had frightened her because she thought it might be mister garver’s, had passed without slowing down.

now she felt more afraid of the strangely silent house. “maybe we should just forget it,” she told bob.

bob stopped knocking and tried the handle of the door.

it opened easily.

bob took a step inside. he could see into a room off to the left. it was brightly lit and filled with heavy furniture but there was no sign of any living thing.

“anybody home?” bob called.

nobody answered.

bob took a couple of steps into the house. julie held back in the doorway, then took a step inside, just to get out of the rain.

the wind slammed the door shut behind her.


seated at the kitchen table of the boarding house, hal listened glumly as rosie, sal, jenny and brenda took turns telling stories about the old morris place and about how many people had tried to get their hands on old mrs morris’s money for thirty years or more but nothing ever came of it.

even if they are wrong, he thought, and there is something there, and somehow i could get it, these people here would all, but especially rosie, know it was me and be able to set the law on me.

i should just forget it, he thought, and move on down the road.

suddenly hal just wanted to get out of the boarding house and move on.

hal put his coffee cup down. he had finished his pie. “sounds like the storm is letting up a bit,” he said.

the others listened.

“maybe a little bit,” brenda told him. “but it is probably just a lull.”

“then i think i will take advantage, and move out,” said hal. “i’ll go wake up my friends, and we will be on our way, “

“jeez, cowboy, that’s not being very friendly,” said rosie. “if you don’t want to listen to a bunch of chattering women, you can just go to bed. you don’t have to go out and get blown away in a hurricane.”

“no, i think it’s letting up, and i just want to get going. i got a busy day ahead of me!” hal stood up. “i thank you for your hospitality, missus.”

“suit yourself, “ brenda told him. “you paid for the night.”

“ha, ha! don’t worry, missus, i don’t want my money back.”

“do you really think it’s letting up?” sal asked, when hal had left.

“it might be,” said brenda. “then again, it might not.”


edna made the right turn, fighting the wind.

as she did she thought she caught a glimpse of the old jasperson house.

were there lights on in it?

that couldn’t be. it had been abandoned for years, although something or somebody - probably the bank - kept the house and the grounds from going to seed.

no, there were no lights on, edna saw as she completed the turn and approached the corner where the big old house stood silent.

it must have been a trick of the wind.

she drove past the dark house and down the street looking for julie.


the professor got down to the basement.

the way the house had started to shake had given him a bit of a scare, but the shaking had stopped.

even better, he had discovered once again, after having forgotten about it again, the little note in his pocket the old woman had given him with the directions to dig up the money in the basement.

nothing could stop him now.

he had not been able to find a flashlight or any other light, but his eyes were getting accustomed to the dark.

had the old woman said something about a shovel?

there it was! against the boiler, just like she said.

suddenly - was the house shaking again? it was hard to tell down here in the basement.

the professor moved toward the shovel.


“i think we are coming up to the place,” said hal, squinting through the windshield.

“what difference does it make now?” cindy asked. she was lying across the back seat of the packard, trying to get some sleep.

neither cindy nor duke had been very enthusiastic about being awakened, or by hal’s decision to get away in the “lull” in the storm.

especially since the lull, such as it was, seemed to be over.

and neither of them understood why hal, even if he was giving up on his plans on the morris place, could not just wait until morning and the storm had passed before moving on.

and getting the breakfast they had already paid for.

hal didn’t really understand it himself, now that he thought about it.

but when a guy’s got to move on, he’s got to move on.

that’s what it meant to be a rambling man.

duke, in the front seat with hal, was taking the situation more philosophically than cindy.

“is that it?” duke asked hal. he pointed to a big house on a hill, barely visible in the darkness.

“i think it is,” said hal. he pulled over and they both stared up at the house.

with a sigh, cindy pushed herself up and looked out the car window.

“jeez,” she said, looking at the house, “it looks like it’s shaking.”

and as they watched, the whole big house collapsed in on itself, sending enormous clouds of dust and plaster and splinters and debris into the air and into the wind and rain.

“wow,” said duke. “that was like a bomb or something. i never saw nothing like that, even on the fourth of july.”

“let’s get out of here,” said cindy. “before we get blamed for it.”


the storm ended, just in time for edna to get back to work at the lunch counter of the bus station in the morning.

she had not gotten any sleep, and had not been able to find julie.

well, she thought, as she put her apron on and started making a pot of coffee, she will either show up.

or she won’t.

the end

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