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Professor Hosselhof's Home Truth by Harry F. Kane

The Perished

by Harry F. Kane
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Due to some mix-up, an unimportant target like Dallas received over eighty megatons. The huge crater filled up with poisoned water that rained from black clouds for three weeks.

Thus the Black Lake was formed.

For years, the Perished community survived by the skin of their teeth. Huge tomatoes, shriveled pumpkins, and gnarly beet roots were the vegetables which would grow. The livestock had gradually died out; all but the six-legged descendants of Mary the sheep.

Jimmy was already fifteen and had been a scout and a hunter for four years now. Unlike those born before the destruction, he was so experienced in the new environment that it was whispered that he was not quite human. So the Perished mayor had no choice but to lay upon him the task of investigating the inexplicable loss of people.

Old Ben and his buddy Joe had gone foraging and not returned. Nancy the soothsayer had left the village at night, never to return either. And little Alice, only five years old, and without a hard bone in her body, had managed to wriggle away unnoticed.

People were scared.

Most of them felt powerless and ill in the last days, but Jimmy was as fit as ever.

Jimmy tied the grimy lucky shoelace to his left wrist and went out of the village. He circled the crooked fence, until he found what looked like the trail left by little boneless Alice.

As the morning progressed he traveled for more than eight miles into the direction of the Black Lake. He noted that at one point, the tracks of a coyote appeared near Alice’s trail, but apparently it only accompanied the girl, without harassing her.

Soon, the Black Lake was visible. Could they all have gone to the lake? Jimmy asked himself nervously. The Black Lake had always given him the creeps; its oily surface looking like a moving film separating this world from another, even darker one. Jimmy wouldn’t have been surprised at all if it turned out that the disappeared people had all gone into the lake to drown themselves.

But the trail ended abruptly in the orange sand forty yards from the waterline. Jimmy stopped cautiously before the end of the trail. Something was wrong here. People and coyotes don’t just disappear like that.

Jimmy picked up a pebble and threw it towards where the trail ended.

Nothing.

But the young scout was still uncomfortable. He searched for a bigger, heavier stone, and heaved it towards the same place.

With a muffled thud, the rock sank into the sand, and a guttural screech rose up from down below. Jimmy jumped back from the hole he had just created. He felt the ground heave a little and retreated even further.

Something screamed in anger from deep within the hole.

Then, three stick-like jagged limbs at least six feet in length appeared out of it and began scooping the sand back into place. In less than a minute, the hole was covered again.

Jimmy pulled absentmindedly at his lucky shoelace.

Obviously, there was some sort of monster living below the sand. Obviously, it fed on living things. Since they went there on their own volition, this meant that it could lure them to their doom. Perhaps those who were more sensitive to its call for some reason. Animals too.

Whatever it was, it had to go.

For the remainder of the day, Jimmy collected dry firewood. By early evening, he had gathered an impressive pile. He lit a fire near it, and then it was time to act out his scheme. He picked up a very heavy rock, and with an oath he hurled it towards the sand-creature’s trap. Again the rock sank into the sand, leaving an entrance hole. Immediately, Jimmy began throwing flaming twigs into the hole. The monster down below did not like this, it shuffled about and screeched in pain. Jimmy threw firewood into the hole, then more burning twigs, then more firewood.

The hole in the ground smoked like a chimney, the creature down below screamed and thrashed. Its limbs appeared many times, to try to cover the hole again, but Jimmy beat at them with a stick, and they retracted.

Soon there were no more noises, and only the smell of burning flesh. The ground was still.

The monster was dead.

When Jimmy returned, the village was strangely quiet. Inside, dead bodies were lined up on the ground, and the survivors, no more than a dozen, were digging graves. All those who had felt ill the last days had suddenly died. Apparently the monster below the sand had already established a connection strong enough to pass on its death agony to the poor folks of Perished.

Jimmy tugged absentmindedly at his lucky shoelace. Those who remained were the toughest folks that this land had made. In time, more babies would be made, more children would grow up, and like descendants of the six-legged sheep, they would inherit the wastelands.

Jimmy scratched his bald skull, and went to his hut to get a shovel.


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About the Author

Harry F. Kane

Harry Kane is the author of Shudder and the Bad Ass Bible. His family-friendly alter ego Edward Keller is the author of Sounds of Distant Oceans, Brain Storm, Planetfall on Albaid, and Autumn Magic, Playground Sky.

Story Discussion

Stories by Harry F. Kane

Professor Hosselhof's Home Truth by Harry F. Kane

Professor Hosselhoff’s Harvest of Doom

The grizzled, leather-faced peasants watched with distrust as the professor and his two assistants assembled the apparatus. It was basically a thermos-shaped box on a tripod, connected to a fridge-like contraption of coils and wires, which in turn was connected to the truck’s generator.

Read More
Murder Extempore

Murder Extempore

“So who was the old man, anyway?” Monica Pulver asked after her recitation.

Braun stepped to the table, leaned forward, weight braced on forearms bared beneath rolled up sleeves. “Allow me to offer my sympathy for the loss of your father.” If he was aware of the potential irony of offering that sentiment to the murderer he kept it completely masked by his deadpan delivery.

“Dammit, Braun,” said Mullins. “Ms. Pulver, were you unaware that the deceased was your father? That he was in attendance?”

“What? Are you both serious? Dead?” She had gone pale, but stone-faced.

What happened to the elder Mr. Pulver? Is his daughter responsible? If, not, then, who? Find out!

Read More

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Professor Hosselhof's Home Truth by Harry F. Kane

Professor Hosselhoff’s Harvest of Doom

The grizzled, leather-faced peasants watched with distrust as the professor and his two assistants assembled the apparatus. It was basically a thermos-shaped box on a tripod, connected to a fridge-like contraption of coils and wires, which in turn was connected to the truck’s generator.

Read More
Professor Hosselhof's Home Truth by Harry F. Kane

Professor Hosselhoff’s Home Truth

“The theory being,” continued the professor, “that when the children will see that this sort of thing goes on all over the place, with birds and fish and bunnies, they will realize that they don’t have to hide it, that it’s okay to talk about such things.” 

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