On my way home on the bus yesterday, I was flipping through my copy of American Supernatural Tales, looking to find the excellent “The Events at Poroth Farm”, when a fragment of text caught my attention:
…not an “animal of some kind,” as he put it. Something with a dragging tail, with scales, with great clawed feet–
And in the back of my head, a little voice is going wait, wait, I remember this…
–and I knew it had no face.
“The Lonesome Place”, by August Derleth.
It’s been so long since I read that that I have no idea, now, where I first saw it. It’s been printed in a ton of places, but none of them ring any bells. I was surprised to discover it was by Derleth; I always thought of it as a children’s story, the kind of thing you’d find sitting on a shelf with A Touch of Chill and Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Witches. It’s got a sort of calm tone to the horror, nothing giddily overbearing. Puts me in mind of Bradbury:
“See, baby? Something bright… something pretty!”
(It occurs to me, as I write this, that I might have a mildly elastic definition of “children’s story.” Might. I’m just tossing that out there for consideration.)
But yeah; I just thought I’d make a note of recognizing an old acquaintance, is all, one I didn’t expect to see there.