The Murder Machine

The Murder Machine

by Hugh B. Cave
     
 

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Four lives lay helpless before the murder machine, the uncanny device by which hypnotic thought-waves are filtered through men's minds to mold them into murdering tools!


It was dusk, on the evening of December 7, 1906, when I first encountered Sir John Harmon. At the moment of his entrance I was standing over the table in my study, a lighted match in my…  See more details below

Overview

Four lives lay helpless before the murder machine, the uncanny device by which hypnotic thought-waves are filtered through men's minds to mold them into murdering tools!


It was dusk, on the evening of December 7, 1906, when I first encountered Sir John Harmon. At the moment of his entrance I was standing over the table in my study, a lighted match in my cupped hands and a pipe between my teeth. The pipe was never lit.
I heard the lower door slam shut with a violent clatter. The stairs resounded to a series of unsteady foot beats, and the door of my study was flung back. In the opening, staring at me with quiet dignity, stood a young, careless fellow, about five feet ten in height and decidedly dark of complexion. The swagger of his entrance branded him as an adventurer. The ghastly pallor of his face, which was almost colorless, branded him as a man who has found something more than mere adventure.
"Doctor Dale?" he demanded.
"I am Doctor Dale."
He closed the door of the room deliberately, advancing toward me with slow steps.
"My name is John Harmon—Sir John Harmon. It is unusual, I suppose," he said quietly, with a slight shrug, "coming at this late hour. I won't keep you long."
He faced me silently. A single glance at those strained features convinced me of the reason for his coming. Only one thing can bring such a furtive, restless stare to a man's eyes. Only one thing—fear.
"I've come to you. Dale, because—" Sir John's fingers closed heavily over the edge of the table—"because I am on the verge of going mad."
"From fear?"
"From fear, yes. I suppose it is easy to discover. A single look at me...."
"A single look at you," I said simply, "would convince any man that you are deadly afraid of something. Do you mind telling me just what it is?"

He shook his head slowly. The swagger of the poise was gone; he stood upright now with a positive effort, as if the realization of his position had suddenly surged over him.
"I do not know," he said quietly. "It is a childish fear—fear of the dark, you may call it. The cause does not matter; but if something does not take this unholy terror away, the effect will be madness."
I watched him in silence for a moment, studying the shrunken outline of his face and the unsteady gleam of his narrowed eyes. I had seen this man before. All London had seen him. His face was constantly appearing in the sporting pages, a swaggering member of the upper set—a man who had been engaged to nearly every beautiful woman in the country—who sought adventure in sport and in night life, merely for the sake of living at top speed. And here he stood before me, whitened by fear, the very thing he had so deliberately laughed at!
"Dale," he said slowly, "for the past week I have been thinking things that I do not want to think and doing things completely against my will. Some outside power—God knows what it is—is controlling my very existence."
He stared it me, and leaned closer across the table.
"Last night, some time before midnight," he told me, "I was sitting alone in my den. Alone, mind you—not a soul was in the house with me. I was reading a novel; and suddenly, as if a living presence had stood in the room and commanded me, I was forced to put the book down. I fought against it, fought to remain in that room and go on reading. And I failed."
"Failed?" My reply was a single word of wonder.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780982933046
Publisher:
eStar Books LLC
Publication date:
10/13/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
106 KB

Meet the Author

Hugh Barnett Cave (July 11, 1910–June 27, 2004) was a prolific writer of pulp fiction who also excelled in other genres. He was born in England but later immigrated to the United States. Over his entire career he wrote more than 1,000 short stories in nearly all genres (though he is best remembered for his horror and crime pieces), approximately forty novels, and a notable body of nonfiction.

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