The Terror of the Night

by Joseph Rubas

Read in Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror (2016-17)

(This review contains spoilers)

We open with the narrator telling us that he was once a fit and healthy man but now ‘dulled both in body and mind.’ The story already lets us know things will not go well to set the mood as gloomy right away.

He is a reader of occult lore and has a passion for all things macabre. Lovecraft’s work seems to be authentic in this world, and naturally, he has read all of those as well. He meets a man named Professor Peircesen through a mutual friend, and from there, a bond quickly forms through their interest in these topics.

Here they namedrop a lot of the usual book names and just the most random stuff as they have a conversation on the weird things that happen in the world. My favorite is about the ‘sadist Lee Yu-Kang, who was rumoured to have concocted a foul formula to turn men into lustful animals.’ I love this first because they can’t just say his name; he has to be THE SADIST, second because it is only RUMORED, and third that isn’t a foul formula… That is just viagra, am I right? I am.

Anyway, the conversation between the two moves on to vampires, but not just any vampire, ASTRAL VAMPIRES. The Professor doesn’t really care about the vampire aspect; his interest lies in the astral form and what he believes its many applications will be. Talking to the dead from the past for knowledge is the main one, much like the essential saltes in Lovecraft’s ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.’

The Professor also throws out there that it could be used for assassinations, and perhaps certain evil souls like Hitler and John Wayne Gacy are still out there roaming, but he’s just absolutely sure they are harmless.

Naturally, the research where to find one of these astral vampires is already done. A wife and husband were both found to have been wasted away by being fed upon one of these things, and The Professor believes it to be their son. So he just needs an assistant to go to a cemetery and dig him up, and hey, the main character is just standing there, ready to rumble.

After an incredibly well-written journey through said cemetery that just nails the mood, the duo comes across the grave and, with some effort, dig the coffin up and crack it open. A mist comes forth and settles upon The Professor’s head, causing him to screech in pain and fall back into the freshly dug grave. Witnessing this, the main character does what most Lovecraftian protagonists do… he fucking faints. Yeah.

He wakes up a month later in a hospital with no memory, blah blah. I have never been a huge fan of the whole fainting thing. He can’t give the authorities the answers they want on The Professor’s disappearance, so in the end, he waits for them to come for him or for madness to take him.

I quite liked this story. It is not terribly original, but it hits the mood and topics it needed to, and the writing was on point throughout, especially in the graveyard scene where of course, it needed to be the most for the climax.

**** Four out of Five Stars (Good)

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