Pigeons From Hell by Robert E. Howard (1938 Weird Tales)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror January 26, 2015
Come to the old south, to Blassenville Manor. Who doesn’t love a Southern Gothic horror story? Blassenville Manor is long abandoned when two young men stumble upon this decaying mansion and decide to spend the night.
‘The old deserted house stimulated their imagination with its suggestion of antebellum splendor and ultimate decay. They left the automobile beside the rutty road, and as they went up the winding walk of crumbling bricks, almost lost in the tangle of rank growth, pigeons rose from the balustrades in a fluttering, feathery crowd and swept away with a low thunder of beating wings.
‘The oaken door sagged on broken hinges. Dust lay thick on the floor of the wide, dim hallway, on the broad steps of the stair that mounted up from the hall. They turned into a door opposite the landing, and entered a large room, empty, dusty, with cobwebs shining thickly in the corners.’
I won’t ruin the suspense (and this story is truly high suspense), but I will say the story includes a secret room, People of Damballah, and yes, a hatchet-stroke in the dark.
In Danse Macabre, Stephen King’s nonfiction book about the horror genre, he writes that, Robert E. Howard’s Pigeons from Hell, is “one of the finest horror stories of our century.” See if you agree.
Robert E. Howard fans favor his stories about explorer Solomon Kane and Conan the Barbarian. Weird Magazine fans revere him as one of the best in weird and fantasy fiction. At the age of thirty in 1936, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Read the short story (three parts) at Gutenberg.net.au.
Listen to the audio (1:19 hours) on YouTube.com
Watch the 50-minute film (adaptation), Boris Karloff’s Thriller Theater on YouTube.com
Visit the Robert E. Howard Foundation.
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