I swear this'll be the last Joseph Payne Brennan horror short story I'll pimp on here.
Written in 1959 by Brennan, The Corpse of Charlie Rull is an early zombie short story, predating 1968's Night of the Living Dead, and is one of the first stories that involves a zombie that wasn't resurrected by voodoo. It's also shockingly violent and nihilistic for its time, and, like Slime, was published in the short story collections The Shapes of Midnight and The Feaster from Afar, but, once again, because these can be prohibitively expensive, my man on YouTube Edward E. French has got you covered (as before, see below)!
Charlie Rull is a homeless man who lives in the town dump outside of the town of Newbridge. Aside from being a chronic alcoholic, he's never harmed a single soul in his entire life. That all changes the day he's out for a walk and suffers a fatal heart attack after his years of hard-drinking and general unhealthy living catch up to him, and he promptly pitches forwards face-first into the cattail swamp that lies between the dump and a nearby scientific research facility. He lies there undiscovered for three days, but in those three days, he undergoes a few... changes. Y'see, the scientists working at that lab aren't aware of this, but their waste disposal system has sprung a leak, and radioactive chemicals have been steadily oozing into the swamp for some time now.
After three whole days of floating in this toxic, swampy bath, Charlie comes back to what can charitably be called life, but he isn't quite himself. In addition to glowing and possessing immense, inhuman strength due to the experimental chemicals infusing every single cell of his body, he suffers from amnesia and remembers nothing of his former life. All he knows is pain, because, well, apparently having that much radiation coursing through you hurts a lot. The pain drives him mad and he promptly flies into a murderous rage, determined to kill anything else that lives upon the Earth.
A salesman on his morning commute to work is startled when the waterlogged Charlie staggers into the road in front of him. Unable to stop, he hits him. As there are no other cars on the road, he decides to do a hit and run and speed away from the accident, but Charlie is no ordinary vehicular manslaughter victim. To the salesman's surprise, he not only gets back up, but flips his car over! He fortunately dies from fright before Charlie gets ahold of him, for, in his effort to pull the man out of the upside-down car by the hair, Charlie only succeeds in ripping his head off (!). That accomplished, he gives chase to a rabbit, but loses it in the woods before stumbling out towards the highway, where he sights his next victim, a hitchhiker.
Handsome and well-groomed with a sweet 'stache and a charming smile, he's got what you might call a way with the ladies, and can charm his way into getting a ride from almost any woman. He especially enjoys being picked up by single women. Women he can use the rope and knives he keeps in his backpack. For, you see, he's no ordinary hitchhiker, but a wanted serial killer posing as one, and he's already planning his next murder when Charlie Rull emerges from the bushes. What will happen when professional murderer meets recently resurrected undead maniac?
Listen to Edward E. French's excellent read of this short but chilling tale to find out!
(Mild?) Content Warning: Although it's SFW, Charlie Rull is a pretty grisly and violent story for the 1950s, much more than Slime.
Anything non-SK related can be discussed here.
1 post • Page 1 of 1