“The Curse of the Monster Makers!”, Weird Menace: Volume 1, Rough Edges Press, 2015
The Weird Menace pulps flourished for less than a decade, from the mid-1930s to the early ’40s, but while they were popular, they delivered adventure, excitement, and spine-tingling thrills in quantities rarely seen before or since. Mad scientists, deranged henchmen, damsels in distress, and stalwart heroes raced through their pages in breathless, over-the-top, never-ending action. A good Weird Menace yarn really is just one damned thing after another.
Rough Edges Press asked some of today’s best authors of popular fiction to write Weird Menace stories, and they delivered. Settle back and let us spin a few yarns for you…
Dexter Tremane slammed the stolen car into third gear and rounded a hairpin turn on the old country road. The rear caught gravel and fishtailed, threatening to send the machine into the nearby ditch. That wasn’t what Dexter needed. What he needed was to get as far away as possible from the pursuing patrol cars.
He risked a glance back. Off in the distance, through thick woods and country brush, red and blue lights pierced the darkness. They were many. He was one. He had the advantage of speed and knowing where he was going. They had the overwhelming numbers. And, he reminded himself, he was woefully outgunned.
He pressed his foot harder on the gas pedal. There was no more he could do. He willed the car to go faster. It didn’t comply.
The road was dirt. All the cops had to do was follow the dust that billowed up from the car’s wheels. The lightning that streaked the sky threatened rain. Dexter turned his willpower to the heavens.
They laughed at him.
In a flash of lightning, he saw something up ahead. Was it the turnoff to the rendezvous? It was a small, thinner dirt road, nearly hidden by the sagebrush and mesquite trees.
He slowed and risked a quick illumination of his headlights. He threw the car into a sharp turn and something inside the engine gave way. The clanging sound deafened his ears and all but called out to the cops.
“Blast!” he cried. His fists were like iron grips on the steering wheel. He fought for control. The car skittered sideways then gained some more forward momentum. It didn’t last. The car plunged into the shallow gorge next to the road. The headlights shattered as did Dexter’s forehead on the steering wheel.
He must have blacked out for a few moments because the next thing he knew, he woke up coughing from all the dust. He fumbled in his jacket for the box of matches. He struck one and the small flame revealed his predicament. The car had crashed headlong into the gorge and now spanned the small trough. Behind him, the cops had turned their sirens back on. They were getting closer.
Dexter opened the glove compartment and rummaged around to see if there was anything he could use. The owner must have been a Spartan because the only thing inside was a map, a small Bible, and a blunt pencil and notepad. He would have killed for a flashlight.
He pulled the key out of the ignition, got out and opened the trunk. The starlight, while bright, didn’t illuminate the interior of the trunk so he lit another match. A gust of wind blew it out almost immediately but not before he saw the tire iron. He closed his strong fingers around the cool metal and hefted it. If push came to shove, he wasn’t going down without a fight.
Thing was, he wasn’t going down.
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