Written in 1953 by Joseph Payne Brennan, an early bibliographer of H.P. Lovecraft, the novella Slime is the granddaddy of all blob monster stories, apparently the inspiration for everything from The Blob to Dean R. Koontz's Phantoms, to probably some elements of our very own SWAT Kats' The Giant Bacteria.
Originally published in Weird Tales, it's also available in this wonderful but sadly out of print and expensive paperback collecting several of the author's works, with the awesome title "The Shapes of Midnight." But never fear! A certain Mr. Edward E. French has got you covered (see below)!
"In which the role of Officer Storr will be played by Michael J. Fox, apparently."
Wharton's Swamp, a coastal marsh located near the town of Clinton Center, has an unsavory reputation for being haunted. Most of the locals avoid it. But homeless man Henry Hossing isn't aware of it. He's just passing through, having stopped to take shelter from a rough storm the night before. Hassled by the local cops, he makes a camp in the swamp and drinks his troubles away. Come nightfall, though, as he awakens to tend to his campfire, Henry becomes aware that the night is different somehow. There's an evil smell in the air. An unpleasant stench accompanied by an alien presence that freezes Henry's blood. Something, he doesn't exactly see what, comes rushing out at him from the darkness as the fire's embers die down. When he's gone the next morning, everyone just assumes he passed through.
Farmer Rupert Barnaby goes hunting for raccoons in the swamp after dark with his dog Jibbe. Unlike the rest of the locals, Barnaby, a proud, stubborn man, is one of the few who is unafraid to enter Wharton's Swamp. He's hunted in it for years. But the swamp he enters that night, against the advice of his extremely neighbor and sometime enemy Giles Gowse, who is more superstitious about Wharton's Swamp than most and whose cow Sarey has gone missing, is one he doesn't recognize. There's no signs of raccoons... or any other animal life, for that matter. Wharton's Swamp is as quiet as a tomb. And for the first time in forever, Jibbe the dog gets spooked, turns tail and runs away. And then suddenly Barnaby himself is gripped by a powerful and overwhelming primal fear. A stench, followed by a bizarre, slithery sound, assails Barnaby, and, terrified, he unloads his hunting rifle in a mad attempt to defend himself as the very darkness itself seems to envelope him.
The next morning, Giles Gowse comes to call on him, but finds only a cowering Jibbe. His attempt to report both his missing cow and his missing neighbor to the police don't get him anywhere. Chief Miles Underbeck is sure Sarey the cow just ran away, and as for Rupert Barnaby, the man knows Wharton's Swamp like the back of his hand. He'll turn up, surely. Despite Underbeck's reassurances, Gowse has decided to leave his farm, moving into the local hotel for the time being. When Rupert Barnaby remains missing come evening, Underbeck finally begins to start taking the old farmer's concerns with a grain of salt, especially when a driver from out of town comes in with a terrified local woman, Delores Rell, who he found on the side of the highway near the swamp screaming for help. Her boyfriend Jason Bukmeist has been killed, she screams. Taken by a living darkness...
For something ancient and evil has been displaced from the bottomless abyss of the ocean's depths by an undersea seismic upheaval and into the oozy coastal plains of Wharton's Swamp by a storm's tidal wave. The thing has existed unchanging since the dawn of prehistory, possessed of incredible strength, stealthiness and swiftness, capable of devouring everything from tiny fish to sharks and giant squid.
It was the apex predator in the abyss where it lived, and now it finds itself in a strange new environment with interesting new prey... humans. Used as it is to the pitch blackness of the abyss, the thing, the creature, the living darkness, finds daylight abhorrent and so buries itself in the swampy muck during the day, coming out at night to feed. Can one small town police force hope to battle such a thing...?
Available as a very creepy audiobook here in three parts:
If you like good sci-fi horror, you'll love Joseph Brennan's Slime!
Anything non-SK related can be discussed here.
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