Ghosts in the Pit
I found this old IDU special issue of a 1932 pulp magazine in my archives… and I love the retro writing style, lacking in subtlety but alive with the breathless overstated drama of low-budget Depression-era storytelling. Here is a sample from “Ghosts in the Pit”…
Billy tested the air with mine-wide nostrils, seared by lava vapors. “Smell that peculiar odor?” he asked. “We better investigate.”
Jimmy checked his quiver for specials, which were few. “I just want out of here. This place gives me the willies.”
“Only one way to do that.” Billy raised his bow and dispatched an abomination stumbling toward them, careful not to alert a monk who was minding his own business. “But we have a problem. Look over there.”
Indeed, across the lake of bubbling molten rock floated three incubi and seven ghosts. The team stared, wondering how to pick them off one at a time without alarming the whole group.
Suddenly there was an eerie giggling sound, playful yet ominous. “Oh… it’s the orphan! Worth a pretty penny, if we can save her.” Eyes wide, they turned to watch the trail of sparkles behind a tiny golden figure as she scampered through a group of knights.
“I don’t like the look of this,” Jimmy muttered as he raised his bow and fired, missing the orphan… but he had forgotten the floating figures hovering in the distance against a backdrop of ancient stonework.
Billy shouted “NOOOO!” but it was too late. Alerted by the stray arrow, they turned as one and began heading toward the men. A hissing roar echoed through the giant hall as the ghosts floated their way with friendly waves. But the duo knew what was coming.
“Look out! Fireballs!” shouted Billy, as the naked incubi laughed. The archer was drawing back his bow, a group of knights were tromping up the steps with swords drawn, and a skeleton archer was materializing in front of them… not ten feet away. “Teleport! Over there!”
They fired a quick salvo at the orphan then launched themselves into a tiny curving hallway where they were immediately surprised by more abominations. Moments later, the seven ghosts began emerging from the stone walls, one after the other, too close to shoot.
Their own pounding hearts added to the terrifying ruckus of doom, and Jimmy glanced down at his hand. “One health,” he lamented, as the orphan ascended…
I don’t want to post any spoilers, so will stop there. The writing is primitive and the story lines simple, but it is engaging to read pulp tales from the IDUniverse published almost a century ago.
(Thanks to Pulp-o-Mizer for the excellent tool used to create the cover image.)
This is part of the In Death: Unchained literature collection by Steven K. Roberts.
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