THE DARKNESS IN THE WOODS
Doctor Joseph Balsamo travels to New Orleans, where he is asked by Louisiana’s acting governor to investigate a rash of murders of local Indians. Some of the natives say the killings are the work of the Jibbenainosay, which translates as “Spirit That Walks.” Balsamo questions a little girl named Atala who survived one of the killer’s attacks. Atala was named after a woman with whom her ancestor was deeply in love. Two potential suspects are a pirate captain named Clegg and a Quaker called Wandering Nathan. Clegg’s ship is called the Imogene. Clegg, whose true name is Christopher Syn, claims to have killed Black Satan. The killer turns out to be Wandering Nathan, whose last name is Slaughter. The watch commander on duty when Balsamo and Clegg captured Slaughter was named Childress. Balsamo and Clegg discover a makeshift man made of twigs, branches, and a human skull, dressed in a pale, yellow cloak. They realize there was a second killer.
Short story by Nathan Cabaniss in Tales of the Shadowmen Volume 11: Force Majeure, Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier, eds., Black Coat Press, 2014. Joseph Balsamo, Count Cagliostro, is an historical figure who also appeared in novels by Alexandre Dumas, and was identified as the founder of a villainous branch of the Wold Newton Family in Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. Nathan Slaughter (aka the Jibbenainosay) is from Robert Montgomery Bird’s novel Nick of the Woods. Atala is a descendant of the Natchez Chactas, whose love for the earlier Atala was chronicled in François-René de Chateaubriand’s novel named for the latter. The Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn (aka Captain Clegg), the Imogene, and Black Satan appear in novels by Russell Thorndike. Childress, implicitly the second killer, is the ancestor of serial killer Errol Childress from the television series True Detective, who was connected to the Yellow King of Carcosa from Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow.
I always thought some should use Atala in a Tales of the Shadowmen story.ReplyDelete