The Monster Maker by W. C. Morrow
A young man of refined appearance, but evidently suffering great
mental distress, presented himself one morning at the residence of a
singular old man, who was known as a surgeon of remarkable skill. The
house was a queer and primitive brick affair, entirely out of date, and
tolerable only in the decayed part of the city in which it stood. It
was large, gloomy, and dark, and had long corridors and dismal rooms;
and it was absurdly large for the small familyman and wifethat
occupied it. The house described, the man is portrayedbut not the
woman. He could be agreeable on occasion, but, for all that, he was but
animated mystery. His wife was weak, wan, reticent, evidently
miserable, and possibly living a life of dread or horrorperhaps
witness of repulsive things, subject of anxieties, and victim of fear
and tyranny; but there is a great deal of guessing in these
assumptions. He was about sixty-five years of age and she about forty.
He was lean, tall, and bald, with thin, smooth-shaven face, and very
keen eyes; kept always at home, and was slovenly. The man was strong,
the woman weak; he dominated, she suffered.
Although he was a surgeon of rare skill, his practice was almost
nothing, for it was a rare occurrence that the few who knew of his
great ability were brave enough to penetrate the gloom of his house,
and when they did so it was with deaf ear turned to sundry ghoulish
stories that were whispered concerning him. These were, in great part,
but exaggerations of his experiments in vivisection; he was devoted to
the science of surgery.
The young man who presented himself on the morning just mentioned
was a handsome fellow, yet of evident weak character and unhealthy
temperamentsensitive, and easily exalted or depressed. A single
glance convinced the surgeon that his visitor was seriously affected in
mind, for there was never bolder skull-grin of melancholia, fixed and
A stranger would not have suspected any occupancy of the house. The
street doorold, warped, and blistered by the sunwas locked, and the
small, faded-green window-blinds were closed. The young man rapped at
the door. No answer. He rapped again. Still no sign. He examined a slip
of paper, glanced at the number on the house, and then, with the
impatience of a child, he furiously kicked the door. There were signs
of numerous other such kicks. A response came in the shape of a
shuffling footstep in the hall, a turning of the rusty key, and a sharp
face that peered through a cautious opening in the door.
Are you the doctor? asked the young man.
Yes, yes! Come in, briskly replied the master of the house.
The young man entered. The old surgeon closed the door and carefully
locked it. This way, he said, advancing to a rickety flight of
stairs. The young man followed. The surgeon led the way up the stairs,
turned into a narrow, musty-smelling corridor at the left, traversed
it, rattling the loose boards under his feet, at the farther end opened
a door at the right, and beckoned his visitor to enter. The young man
found himself in a pleasant room, furnished in antique fashion and with
Sit down, said the old man, placing a chair so that its occupant
should face a window that looked out upon a dead wall about six feet
from the house. He threw open the blind, and a pale light entered. He
then seated himself near his visitor and directly facing him, and with
a searching look, that had all the power of a microscope, he proceeded
to diagnosticate the case.
Well? he presently asked.
The young man shifted uneasily in his seat.
II have come to see you, he finally stammered, because I'm in
Yes; you see, Ithat isI have given it up.
Ah! There was pity added to sympathy in the ejaculation.
That's it. Given it up, added the visitor. He took from his pocket
a roll of banknotes, and with the utmost deliberation he counted them
out upon his knee. Five thousand dollars, he calmly remarked. That
is for you. It's all I have; but I presumeI imagineno; that is not
the wordassumeyes; that's the wordassume that five
thousandis it really that much? Let me count. He counted again.
That five thousand dollars is a sufficient fee for what I want you to
The surgeon's lips curled pityinglyperhaps disdainfully also.
What do you want me to do? he carelessly inquired.
The young man rose, looked around with a mysterious air, approached
the surgeon, and laid the money across his knee. Then he stooped and
whispered two words in the surgeon's ear.
These words produced an electric effect. The old man started
violently; then, springing to his feet, he caught his visitor angrily,
and transfixed him with a look that was as sharp as a knife. His eyes
flashed, and he opened his mouth to give utterance to some harsh
imprecation, when he suddenly checked himself. The anger left his face,
and only pity remained. He relinquished his grasp, picked up the
scattered notes, and, offering them to the visitor, slowly said:
I do not want your money. You are simply foolish. You think you are
in trouble. Well, you do not know what trouble is. Your only trouble is
that you have not a trace of manhood in your nature. You are merely
insaneI shall not say pusillanimous. You should surrender yourself to
the authorities, and be sent to a lunatic asylum for proper treatment.
The young man keenly felt the intended insult, and his eyes flashed
You old dogyou insult me thus! he cried. Grand airs, these, you
give yourself! Virtuously indignant, old murderer, you! Don't want my
money, eh? When a man comes to you himself and wants it done, you fly
into a passion and spurn his money; but let an enemy of his come and
pay you, and you are only too willing. How many such jobs have you done
in this miserable old hole? It is a good thing for you that the police
have not run you down, and brought spade and shovel with them. Do you
know what is said of you? Do you think you have kept your windows so
closely shut that no sound has ever penetrated beyond them? Where do
you keep your infernal implements?
He had worked himself into a high passion. His voice was hoarse,
loud, and rasping. His eyes, bloodshot, started from their sockets. His
whole frame twitched, and his fingers writhed. But he was in the
presence of a man infinitely his superior. Two eyes, like those of a
snake, burned two holes through him. An overmastering, inflexible
presence confronted one weak and passionate. The result came.
Sit down, commanded the stern voice of the surgeon.
It was the voice of father to child, of master to slave. The fury
left the visitor, who, weak and overcome, fell upon a chair.
Meanwhile, a peculiar light had appeared in the old surgeon's face,
the dawn of a strange idea; a gloomy ray, strayed from the fires of the
bottomless pit; the baleful light that illumines the way of the
enthusiast. The old man remained a moment in profound abstraction,
gleams of eager intelligence bursting momentarily through the cloud of
sombre meditation that covered his face. Then broke the broad light of
a deep, impenetrable determination. There was something sinister in it,
suggesting the sacrifice of something held sacred. After a struggle,
mind had vanquished conscience.
Taking a piece of paper and a pencil, the surgeon carefully wrote
answers to questions which he peremptorily addressed to his visitor,
such as his name, age, place of residence, occupation, and the like,
and the same inquiries concerning his parents, together with other
Does any one know you came to this house? he asked.
You swear it?
But your prolonged absence will cause alarm and lead to search.
I have provided against that.
By depositing a note in the post, as I came along, announcing my
intention to drown myself.
The river will be dragged.
What then? asked the young man, shrugging his shoulders with
careless indifference. Rapid undercurrent, you know. A good many are
There was a pause.
Are you ready? finally asked the surgeon.
Perfectly. The answer was cool and determined.
The manner of the surgeon, however, showed much perturbation. The
pallor that had come into his face at the moment his decision was
formed became intense. A nervous tremulousness came over his frame.
Above it all shone the light of enthusiasm.
Have you a choice in the method? he asked.
Yes; extreme anæsthesia.
With what agent?
The surest and quickest.
Do you desire anyany subsequent disposition?
No; only nullification; simply a blowing out, as of a candle in the
wind; a puffthen darkness, without a trace. A sense of your own
safety may suggest the method. I leave it to you.
No delivery to your friends?
Did you say you are quite ready? asked the surgeon.
And perfectly willing?
Then wait a moment.
With this request the old surgeon rose to his feet and stretched
himself. Then with the stealthiness of a cat he opened the door and
peered into the hall, listening intently. There was no sound. He softly
closed the door and locked it. Then he closed the window-blinds and
locked them. This done, he opened a door leading into an adjoining
room, which, though it had no window, was lighted by means of a small
skylight. The young man watched closely. A strange change had come over
him. While his determination had not one whit lessened, a look of great
relief came into his face, displacing the haggard, despairing look of a
half-hour before. Melancholic then, he was ecstatic now.
The opening of the second door disclosed a curious sight. In the
centre of the room, directly under the skylight, was an
operating-table, such as is used by demonstrators of anatomy. A glass
case against the wall held surgical instruments of every kind. Hanging
in another case were human skeletons of various sizes. In sealed jars,
arranged on shelves, were monstrosities of divers kinds preserved in
alcohol. There were also, among innumerable other articles scattered
about the room, a manikin, a stuffed cat, a desiccated human heart,
plaster casts of various parts of the body, numerous charts, and a
large assortment of drugs and chemicals. There was also a lounge, which
could be opened to form a couch. The surgeon opened it and moved the
operating-table aside, giving its place to the lounge.
Come in, he called to his visitor.
The young man obeyed without the least hesitation.
Take off your coat.
Lie down on that lounge.
In a moment the young man was stretched at full length, eyeing the
surgeon. The latter undoubtedly was suffering under great excitement,
but he did not waver; his movements were sure and quick. Selecting a
bottle containing a liquid, he carefully measured out a certain
quantity. While doing this he asked:
Have you ever had any irregularity of the heart?
The answer was prompt, but it was immediately followed by a
quizzical look in the speaker's face.
I presume, he added, you mean by your question that it might be
dangerous to give me a certain drug. Under the circumstances, however,
I fail to see any relevancy in your question.
This took the surgeon aback; but he hastened to explain that he did
not wish to inflict unnecessary pain, and hence his question.
He placed the glass on a stand, approached his visitor, and
carefully examined his pulse.
Wonderful! he exclaimed.
It is perfectly normal.
Because I am wholly resigned. Indeed, it has been long since I knew
such happiness. It is not active, but infinitely sweet.
You have no lingering desire to retract?
The surgeon went to the stand and returned with the draught.
Take this, he said, kindly.
The young man partially raised himself and took the glass in his
hand. He did not show the vibration of a single nerve. He drank the
liquid, draining the last drop. Then he returned the glass with a
Thank you, he said; you are the noblest man that lives. May you
always prosper and be happy! You are my benefactor, my liberator. Bless
you, bless you! You reach down from your seat with the gods and lift me
up into glorious peace and rest. I love youI love you with all my
These words, spoken earnestly, in a musical, low voice, and
accompanied with a smile of ineffable tenderness, pierced the old man's
heart. A suppressed convulsion swept over him; intense anguish wrung
his vitals; perspiration trickled down his face. The young man
continued to smile.
Ah, it does me good! said he.
The surgeon, with a strong effort to control himself, sat down upon
the edge of the lounge and took his visitor's wrist, counting the
How long will it take? the young man asked.
Ten minutes. Two have passed. The voice was hoarse.
Ah, only eight minutes more!... Delicious, delicious! I feel it
coming.... What was that?... Ah, I understand. Music.... Beautiful!...
Coming, coming.... Is thatthatwater?... Trickling? Dripping?
Thank you,... thank you.... Noble man,... my saviour,... my bene
... bene ... factor.... Trickling,... trickling.... Dripping,
Past hearing, muttered the surgeon.
Response was made by a firm grasp of the hand.
The old man watched and waited.
Dripping, ... dripping.
The last drop had run. There was a sigh, and nothing more.
The surgeon laid down the hand.
The first step, he groaned, rising to his feet; then his whole
frame dilated. The first stepthe most difficult, yet the simplest. A
providential delivery into my hands of that for which I have hungered
for forty years. No withdrawal now! It is possible, because scientific;
rational, but perilous. If I succeedif? I shall
succeed. I will succeed.... And after successwhat?... Yes;
what? Publish the plan and the result? The gallows.... So long as it
shall exist, ... and I exist, the gallows. That much.... But how
account for its presence? Ah, that pinches hard! I must trust to the
He tore himself from the revery and started.
I wonder if she heard or saw anything.
With that reflection he cast a glance upon the form on the lounge,
and then left the room, locked the door, locked also the door of the
outer room, walked down two or three corridors, penetrated to a remote
part of the house, and rapped at a door. It was opened by his wife. He,
by this time, had regained complete mastery over himself.
I thought I heard some one in the house just now, he said, but I
can find no one.
I heard nothing.
He was greatly relieved.
I did hear some one knock at the door less than an hour ago, she
resumed, and heard you speak, I think. Did he come in?
The woman glanced at his feet and seemed perplexed.
I am almost certain, she said, that I heard foot-falls in the
house, and yet I see that you are wearing slippers.
Oh, I had on my shoes then!
That explains it, said the woman, satisfied; I think the sound
you heard must have been caused by rats.
Ah, that was it! exclaimed the surgeon. Leaving, he closed the
door, reopened it, and said, I do not wish to be disturbed to-day. He
said to himself, as he went down the hall, All is clear there.
He returned to the room in which his visitor lay, and made a careful
Splendid specimen! he softly exclaimed; every organ sound, every
function perfect; fine, large frame; well-shaped muscles, strong and
sinewy; capable of wonderful developmentif given opportunity.... I
have no doubt it can be done. Already I have succeeded with a dog,a
task less difficult than this, for in a man the cerebrum overlaps the
cerebellum, which is not the case with a dog. This gives a wide range
for accident, with but one opportunity in a lifetime! In the cerebrum,
the intellect and the affections; in the cerebellum, the senses and the
motor forces; in the medulla oblongata, control of the diaphragm. In
these two latter lie all the essentials of simple existence. The
cerebrum is merely an adornment; that is to say, reason and the
affections are almost purely ornamental. I have already proved it. My
dog, with its cerebrum removed, was idiotic, but it retained its
physical senses to a certain degree.
While thus ruminating he made careful preparations. He moved the
couch, replaced the operating-table under the skylight, selected a
number of surgical instruments, prepared certain drug-mixtures, and
arranged water, towels, and all the accessories of a tedious surgical
operation. Suddenly he burst into laughter.
Poor fool! he exclaimed. Paid me five thousand dollars to kill
him! Didn't have the courage to snuff his own candle! Singular,
singular, the queer freaks these madmen have! You thought you were
dying, poor idiot! Allow me to inform you, sir, that you are as much
alive at this moment as ever you were in your life. But it will be all
the same to you. You shall never be more conscious than you are now;
and for all practical purposes, so far as they concern you, you are
dead henceforth, though you shall live. By the way, how should you feel
without a head? Ha, ha, ha!... But that's a sorry joke.
He lifted the unconscious form from the lounge and laid it upon the
* * * * *
About three years afterwards the following conversation was held
between a captain of police and a detective:
She may be insane, suggested the captain.
I think she is.
And yet you credit her story!
Not at all. I myself have learned something.
Much, in one sense; little, in another. You have heard those queer
stories of her husband. Well, they are all nonsensicalprobably with
one exception. He is generally a harmless old fellow, but peculiar. He
has performed some wonderful surgical operations. The people in his
neighborhood are ignorant, and they fear him and wish to be rid of him;
hence they tell a great many lies about him, and they come to believe
their own stories. The one important thing that I have learned is that
he is almost insanely enthusiastic on the subject of
surgeryespecially experimental surgery; and with an enthusiast there
is hardly such a thing as a scruple. It is this that gives me
confidence in the woman's story.
You say she appeared to be frightened?
Doubly sofirst, she feared that her husband would learn of her
betrayal of him; second, the discovery itself had terrified her.
But her report of this discovery is very vague, argued the
captain. He conceals everything from her. She is merely guessing.
In partyes; in other partno. She heard the sounds distinctly,
though she did not see clearly. Horror closed her eyes. What she thinks
she saw is, I admit, preposterous; but she undoubtedly saw something
extremely frightful. There are many peculiar little circumstances. He
has eaten with her but few times during the last three years, and
nearly always carries his food to his private rooms. She says that he
either consumes an enormous quantity, throws much away, or is feeding
something that eats prodigiously. He explains this to her by saying
that he has animals with which he experiments. This is not true. Again,
he always keeps the door to these rooms carefully locked; and not only
that, but he has had the doors doubled and otherwise strengthened, and
has heavily barred a window that looks from one of the rooms upon a
dead wall a few feet distant.
What does it mean? asked the captain.
For animals, perhaps.
Because, in the first place, cages would have been better; in the
second place, the security that he has provided is infinitely greater
than that required for the confinement of ordinary animals.
All this is easily explained: he has a violent lunatic under
I had thought of that, but such is not the fact.
How do you know?
By reasoning thus: He has always refused to treat cases of lunacy;
he confines himself to surgery; the walls are not padded, for the woman
has heard sharp blows upon them; no human strength, however morbid,
could possibly require such resisting strength as has been provided; he
would not be likely to conceal a lunatic's confinement from the woman;
no lunatic could consume all the food that he provides; so extremely
violent mania as these precautions indicate could not continue three
years; if there is a lunatic in the case it is very probable that there
should have been communication with some one outside concerning the
patient, and there has been none; the woman has listened at the keyhole
and has heard no human voice within; and last, we have heard the
woman's vague description of what she saw.
You have destroyed every possible theory, said the captain, deeply
interested, and have suggested nothing new.
Unfortunately, I cannot; but the truth may be very simple, after
all. The old surgeon is so peculiar that I am prepared to discover
Have you suspicions?
A crime. The woman suspects it.
And betrays it?
Certainly, because it is so horrible that her humanity revolts; so
terrible that her whole nature demands of her that she hand over the
criminal to the law; so frightful that she is in mortal terror; so
awful that it has shaken her mind.
What do you propose to do? asked the captain.
Secure evidence. I may need help.
You shall have all the men you require. Go ahead, but be careful.
You are on dangerous ground. You would be a mere plaything in the hands
of that man.
Two days afterwards the detective again sought the captain.
I have a queer document, he said, exhibiting torn fragments of
paper, on which there was writing. The woman stole it and brought it
to me. She snatched a handful out of a book, getting only a part of
each of a few leaves.
These fragments, which the men arranged as best they could, were
(the detective explained) torn by the surgeon's wife from the first
volume of a number of manuscript books which her husband had written on
one subject,the very one that was the cause of her excitement. About
the time that he began a certain experiment three years ago, continued
the detective, he removed everything from the suite of two rooms
containing his study and his operating-room. In one of the bookcases
that he removed to a room across the passage was a drawer, which he
kept locked, but which he opened from time to time. As is quite common
with such pieces of furniture, the lock of the drawer is a very poor
one; and so the woman, while making a thorough search yesterday, found
a key on her bunch that fitted this lock. She opened the drawer, drew
out the bottom book of a pile (so that its mutilation would more likely
escape discovery), saw that it might contain a clew, and tore out a
handful of the leaves. She had barely replaced the book, locked the
drawer, and made her escape when her husband appeared. He hardly ever
allows her to be out of his sight when she is in that part of the
The fragments read as follows: ... the motory nerves. I had hardly
dared to hope for such a result, although inductive reasoning had
convinced me of its possibility, my only doubt having been on the score
of my lack of skill. Their operation has been only slightly impaired,
and even this would not have been the case had the operation been
performed in infancy, before the intellect had sought and obtained
recognition as an essential part of the whole. Therefore I state, as a
proved fact, that the cells of the motory nerves have inherent forces
sufficient to the purposes of those nerves. But hardly so with the
sensory nerves. These latter are, in fact, an offshoot of the former,
evolved from them by natural (though not essential) heterogeneity, and
to a certain extent are dependent on the evolution and expansion of a
contemporaneous tendency, that developed into mentality, or mental
function. Both of these latter tendencies, these evolvements, are
merely refinements of the motory system, and not independent entities;
that is to say, they are the blossoms of a plant that propagates from
its roots. The motory system is the first ... nor am I surprised that
such prodigious muscular energy is developing. It promises yet to
surpass the wildest dreams of human strength. I account for it thus:
The powers of assimilation had reached their full development. They had
formed the habit of doing a certain amount of work. They sent their
products to all parts of the system. As a result of my operation the
consumption of these products was reduced fully one-half; that is to
say, about one-half of the demand for them was withdrawn. But force of
habit required the production to proceed. This production was strength,
vitality, energy. Thus double the usual quantity of this strength, this
energy, was stored in the remaining ... developed a tendency that did
surprise me. Nature, no longer suffering the distraction of extraneous
interferences, and at the same time being cut in two (as it were), with
reference to this case, did not fully adjust herself to the new
situation, as does a magnet, which, when divided at the point of
equilibrium, renews itself in its two fragments by investing each with
opposite poles; but, on the contrary, being severed from laws that
theretofore had controlled her, and possessing still that mysterious
tendency to develop into something more potential and complex, she
blindly (having lost her lantern) pushed her demands for material that
would secure this development, and as blindly used it when it was given
her. Hence this marvellous voracity, this insatiable hunger, this
wonderful ravenousness; and hence also (there being nothing but the
physical part to receive this vast storing of energy) this strength
that is becoming almost hourly herculean, almost daily appalling. It is
becoming a serious ... narrow escape to-day. By some means, while I was
absent, it unscrewed the stopper of the silver feeding-pipe (which I
have already herein termed 'the artificial mouth'), and, in one of its
curious antics, allowed all the chyle to escape from its stomach
through the tube. Its hunger then became intenseI may say furious. I
placed my hands upon it to push it into a chair, when, feeling my
touch, it caught me, clasped me around the neck, and would have crushed
me to death instantly had I not slipped from its powerful grasp. Thus I
always had to be on my guard. I have provided the screw stopper with a
spring catch, and ... usually docile when not hungry; slow and heavy in
its movements, which are, of course, purely unconscious; any apparent
excitement in movement being due to local irregularities in the
blood-supply of the cerebellum, which, if I did not have it enclosed in
a silver case that is immovable, I should expose and ...
The captain looked at the detective with a puzzled air.
I don't understand it at all, said he.
Nor I, agreed the detective.
What do you propose to do?
Make a raid.
Do you want a man?
Three. The strongest men in your district.
Why, the surgeon is old and weak!
Nevertheless, I want three strong men; and for that matter,
prudence really advises me to take twenty.
* * * * *
At one o'clock the next morning a cautious, scratching sound might
have been heard in the ceiling of the surgeon's operating-room. Shortly
afterwards the skylight sash was carefully raised and laid aside. A man
peered into the opening. Nothing could be heard.
That is singular, thought the detective.
He cautiously lowered himself to the floor by a rope, and then stood
for some moments listening intently. There was a dead silence. He shot
the slide of a dark-lantern, and rapidly swept the room with the light.
It was bare, with the exception of a strong iron staple and ring,
screwed to the floor in the centre of the room, with a heavy chain
attached. The detective then turned his attention to the outer room; it
was perfectly bare. He was deeply perplexed. Returning to the inner
room, he called softly to the men to descend. While they were thus
occupied he re-entered the outer room and examined the door. A glance
sufficed. It was kept closed by a spring attachment, and was locked
with a strong spring-lock that could be drawn from the inside.
The bird has just flown, mused the detective. A singular
accident! The discovery and proper use of this thumb-bolt might not
have happened once in fifty years, if my theory is correct.
By this time the men were behind him. He noiselessly drew the
spring-bolt, opened the door, and looked out into the hall. He heard a
peculiar sound. It was as though a gigantic lobster was floundering and
scrambling in some distant part of the old house. Accompanying this
sound was a loud, whistling breathing, and frequent rasping gasps.
These sounds were heard by still another personthe surgeon's wife;
for they originated very near her rooms, which were a considerable
distance from her husband's. She had been sleeping lightly, tortured by
fear and harassed by frightful dreams. The conspiracy into which she
had recently entered, for the destruction of her husband, was a source
of great anxiety. She constantly suffered from the most gloomy
forebodings, and lived in an atmosphere of terror. Added to the natural
horror of her situation were those countless sources of fear which a
fright-shaken mind creates and then magnifies. She was, indeed, in a
pitiable state, having been driven first by terror to desperation, and
then to madness.
Startled thus out of fitful slumber by the noise at her door, she
sprang from her bed to the floor, every terror that lurked in her
acutely tense mind and diseased imagination starting up and almost
overwhelming her. The idea of flightone of the strongest of all
instinctsseized upon her, and she ran to the door, beyond all control
of reason. She drew the bolt and flung the door wide open, and then
fled wildly down the passage, the appalling hissing and rasping gurgle
ringing in her ears apparently with a thousandfold intensity. But the
passage was in absolute darkness, and she had not taken a half-dozen
steps when she tripped upon an unseen object on the floor. She fell
headlong upon it, encountering in it a large, soft, warm substance that
writhed and squirmed, and from which came the sounds that had awakened
her. Instantly realizing her situation, she uttered a shriek such as
only an unnamable terror can inspire. But hardly had her cry started
the echoes in the empty corridor when it was suddenly stifled. Two
prodigious arms had closed upon her and crushed the life out of her.
The cry performed the office of directing the detective and his
assistants, and it also aroused the old surgeon, who occupied rooms
between the officers and the object of their search. The cry of agony
pierced him to the marrow, and a realization of the cause of it burst
upon him with frightful force.
It has come at last! he gasped, springing from his bed.
Snatching from a table a dimly-burning lamp and a long knife which
he had kept at hand for three years, he dashed into the corridor. The
four officers had already started forward, but when they saw him emerge
they halted in silence. In that moment of stillness the surgeon paused
to listen. He heard the hissing sound and the clumsy floundering of a
bulky, living object in the direction of his wife's apartments. It
evidently was advancing towards him. A turn in the corridor shut out
the view. He turned up the light, which revealed a ghastly pallor in
Wife! he called.
There was no response. He hurriedly advanced, the four men following
quietly. He turned the angle of the corridor, and ran so rapidly that
by the time the officers had come in sight of him again he was twenty
steps away. He ran past a huge, shapeless object, sprawling, crawling,
and floundering along, and arrived at the body of his wife.
He gave one horrified glance at her face, and staggered away. Then a
fury seized him. Clutching the knife firmly, and holding the lamp
aloft, he sprang toward the ungainly object in the corridor. It was
then that the officers, still advancing cautiously, saw a little more
clearly, though still indistinctly, the object of the surgeon's fury,
and the cause of the look of unutterable anguish in his face. The
hideous sight caused them to pause. They saw what appeared to be a man,
yet evidently was not a man; huge, awkward, shapeless; a squirming,
lurching, stumbling mass, completely naked. It raised its broad
shoulders. It had no head, but instead of it a small metallic
ball surmounting its massive neck.
Devil! exclaimed the surgeon, raising the knife.
Hold, there! commanded a stern voice.
The surgeon quickly raised his eyes and saw the four officers, and
for a moment fear paralyzed his arm.
The police! he gasped.
Then, with a look of redoubled fury, he sent the knife to the hilt
into the squirming mass before him. The wounded monster sprang to its
feet and wildly threw its arms about, meanwhile emitting fearful sounds
from a silver tube through which it breathed. The surgeon aimed another
blow, but never gave it. In his blind fury he lost his caution, and was
caught in an iron grasp. The struggling threw the lamp some feet toward
the officers, and it fell to the floor, shattered to pieces.
Simultaneously with the crash the oil took fire, and the corridor was
filled with flame. The officers could not approach. Before them was the
spreading blaze, and secure behind it were two forms struggling in a
fearful embrace. They heard cries and gasps, and saw the gleaming of a
The wood in the house was old and dry. It took fire at once, and the
flames spread with great rapidity. The four officers turned and fled,
barely escaping with their lives. In an hour nothing remained of the
mysterious old house and its inmates but a blackened ruin.