"The Shadow of Doc Savage" - Ep. 101

~featuring~

Long Time Fan of Doc Savage & The Shadow:  

Bruce White

In this special episode, Bruce White mentions he wrote his own pulp like story. With permission from Bruce, we are honored to be able to provide his story below. Please check it out. His story was originally published in The Bronze Gazette in the late 1990s.

~The Slice of Life Team {Mike and Isaac}~

The Adventures of Doc Savage™

by Bruce White © 1997

(This story was originally published in The Bronze Gazette, Vol. 8 #24 under the title "The Name of Fear")

I never looked for trouble, but somehow it always managed to find me.  If there was trouble on parade[WB1] , I was left cleaning up after it.  I had no idea what kind of trouble would begin for me on that fateful day.

I had just returned from Cormoral[WB2] .  I was exhausted from the what I experienced there.  The previous night had been the most violent night[WB3]  I had ever seen.  It all had happened so fast, I could barely remember any of it.  I could, however, still hear the screaming man[WB4]  in my mind.  What little else I could remember, though, would soon be driven from my mind by a new batch of trouble.

I stopped at the local diner overlooking Skull Shoal[WB5] .  Passing by one of the derelicts that line the sidewalk there, I entered the place.  I asked the waitress, Mabel, for my usual breakfast of an egg (once over lightly[WB6] ) smothered in Tobasco sauce, and a glass of ice water.  After Mabel called out my order ("Fire and ice[WB7] !"), she asked, "What the heck's been happening with you lately?  You look terrible."  She was still angry because I hadn't asked her out again after our first date.

I said that my head felt like it had been crawled over by a ten ton snake[WB8] .  I told her that if I had died yesterday[WB9] , I'd at least have felt better today.

That's when Sharette came in.  Mabel hated her.  Sharette made good money working as a magician's assistant ("And now, I'll make my beautiful assistant disappear") while Mabel slaved away at the diner for minimum wage and tips.   Sharette didn't just work for some two-bit magician either.  She worked for "The Vanisher[WB10] " himself.  That brought her a nice income and a chunk of fame.  It also didn't help that Mabel and Sharette went to school together and that Sharette had once stolen Mabel's boyfriend.

Mabel muttered "Well, if it ain't the disappearing lady[WB11] " and stalked off to wait on a trio of wild-looking men[WB12]  who had entered just after Sharette.  However, for some reason, the men vanished[WB13]  out the door before Mabel could get to them.

Sharette looked pale and frightened.  She looked like she had just encountered a ghost, even a whole legion of spooks[WB14] .  On top of that she looked somewhat disheveled.   She was usually a very classy and meticulous dresser, always very particular about her appearance.  However, her clothes looked like she'd been sleeping in them for some time and there was a large black spot[WB15]  on the shoulder of her dress.

"What's the matter, doll?" I said, trying to look interested in spite of my own problems.  As she began to unfold her story, my breakfast arrived.  I’m usually famished in the morning and the food is practically flying through the air as I’m gobblin’[WB16]  it down.  However, on this occasion I started to eat, but stopped after only one bite.  Sharette's tale had me riveted so that I entirely forgot about eating.  On top of that, it was the single most awful egg[WB17]  I'd ever tasted.  I think Mabel did something to it, just to get back at me.

"My brother, Ames, has been in a remote region of India for the last 6 months searching for one of the famed majii[WB18] .  Well, he usually contacts me by short-wave radio once each week.  He has to initiate the call, because he doesn't keep the radio with him, but leaves it at his base camp, returning only to contact me.  Shortly after his last call, I was in a local bar having a drink with a couple of girlfriends.   During a lull in our conversation, I could have sworn that I heard a man's voice behind me saying 'Let's kill Ames[WB19] .'  Startled, I turned and looked straight into a pair of mad eyes[WB20] .  I felt as though I was looking at the king of terror[WB21]  himself.   He was an evil-looking little gnome[WB22]  of a man.  We stared at one another for about ten seconds and then he laughed wickedly, like a laugh of death[WB23] , and ran out the door.  I haven't slept a wink in 3 days worrying about my brother and what that wicked little man said.  Do you think you can find my brother?"

I perked up at her description of the man she saw in the bar.  He sounded like one of the Wee Ones[WB24] , a secret assassins society.  I had mixed it up with them once before.  They aren't truly "little people", most of them are just short.   They are not to be taken lightly.

I didn't relish the thought of going to India.  A fortune teller once told me never to travel east or north.  "Danger lies east[WB25]  for you and peril in the north[WB26] ," she had said.  Even though I didn't put much stock in carnival fortune tellers, what she had said somehow stuck with me.  Nevertheless, I told Sharette I'd try to find her brother even if I had to descend to hell below[WB27]  and face three devils[WB28] .   Little did I know how prophetic that statement of false bravado would be.

My trip to India began quite uneventful.  Unless you consider puking your guts out over the rail to be eventful.  I don't travel well in the first place, but that ship turned my stomach in knots.  Twice I felt like I was going to die.  I didn't see waves of water on the ocean.  I saw waves of death[WB29] .  For a while, I was so sick I was hallucinating.  I could have sworn I saw a feathered octopus[WB30]  climbing up the side of the ship while below it, a freckled shark[WB31]  chased all kinds of strange fish[WB32] .   Even sleep didn't help.  My dreams were filled with bizarre images as the ocean haunted[WB33]  my thoughts.  One night I dreamt I saw an angel on the sea[WB34]  and a devil on the moon[WB35] .  I wasn't alone in my misery, either.  There was one woman on the ship who fainted from seasickness so often that she earned the nickname "The Swooning Lady[WB36] ".  They just called me "The Puking Man."

I had no idea what cargo lay unknown[WB37]  in the lower decks of the ship.  But I got an idea as we neared our port on the eastern coast of India.  I was finally feeling good enough to actually enjoy a walk on one of the upper decks.  I was strolling along leisurely when I saw a very short man ahead of me duck furtively around a corner.  I quickly ran ahead and turned the same corner.  When I got around it, I got a good look at him.  It was the chief deadly dwarf[WB38]  himself, King Joe Cay[WB39] .  My blood froze.  He only took on the most urgent jobs.

As he looked at me, I wondered why he was on this ship.  Was he after Ames?   I had no doubt this was who Sharette saw in the bar.  Then I noticed he had a gun aimed at me!  That's when I realized that I was his target for death[WB40] .  Just before his weapon sang its murderous melody[WB41] , I was able to get back around the corner.

I then ran like a man who was scared[WB42] , because in fact, I was scared.  I don't like being shot at.  Fortunately, the furor that arose because of the gunfire caused King Joe Cay to go back to his hiding place.  In spite of an intense search by the ship's crew and security people, they could not find him.  I had the feeling I'd see him again, whether I wanted to or not.

When we docked I watched everyone get off the ship and saw no sign of my would-be killer.  So I proceeded to get together what I needed in order to look for Sharette's brother.  It took me a couple of days to gather my gear and secure a guide.  As I made my preparations, I got to see a little of the local culture.  The most memorable image I have of that place is of a one-eyed mystic[WB43]  named Mullah[WB44]  chanting on a street corner as incense burned all around him.

The guide I hired happened to be the brother of the guide Ames used.  As it turned out, he knew exactly where Ames' camp was.  It was a good two weeks' journey on foot over rugged terrain to get there.  The next two weeks were made up exclusively of eating, sleeping, and walking.  We arrived at the rim of the valley near sunset and I must say it was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen.  I'm not much for admiring nature.  I've always considered nature to be God's way of telling man that he needs civilization 'cause he wouldn't survive in the wild.  However, as the sun set behind a yellow cloud[WB45] , it sent a sunbeam up into the air like a dagger in the sky[WB46] .   On the mountain overlooking that weird valley[WB47] , the snow was red[WB48]  from the light.

We camped on the side of the valley near the rim and didn't get to Ames' site until the next day.  What we saw filled us with dread.  Seven men lay dead with the most horrible looks on their faces that I had ever seen.  The fact that those faces were on heads no longer attached to their bodies only added to the horror.  What terror had taken these seven[WB49] , I had no idea, but I knew I wasn't too eager to find out.  My guide muttered, "Prabaganda sepahpoo[WB50]  shimarahaja.  These men will smile no more[WB51] ."  Each of the men still clutched a most evil-looking rock to their chest.  How a rock could manage to look so sinister[WB52] , I couldn’t really say.   Upon closer inspection I found the rocks to be agate and they were shaped in the form of demons.  We buried those seven agate devils[WB53]  along with the headless men in a mass grave.

It was simplicity itself to follow the trail of whoever or whatever had killed the men.   The stones themselves spoke to us in the form of a charred trail leading south from the camp.  What fire could burn a path like that we couldn't imagine.

Within a few miles we found the entrance to a cave that would normally have been completely hidden from view.  If not for the blackened trail, we may never have found it.  From the outside it looked like an ordinary cave.  One step into it however, and I knew it was the entrance to something that could only come from some horrible nightmare.  One step was also all my guide could handle.  With a scream he turned and ran as though being pursued by some nameless thing[WB54]  of pure evil[WB55] .  It took every ounce of courage I had, all my jiu san[WB56] , to go on.

Choking back the bile rising up in my throat at the thought of entering that cave, I thumbed my flashlight to life and plunged ahead.  What I thought would be a fairly quick descent turned into the longest journey of my life.  I walked for hours on a straight sloping path, as though in an endless tunnel.  The further down I went, the greater my feeling of horror grew.  Underground caverns are usually cool, but this one got warmer as I progressed.  Occasionally, my light would fall on some awful picture painted on the wall by what could only be unearthly hands.  I doubted that the things depicted could even be imagined by any human.  If I was traveling down into hell itself, this must have been the devil's playground[WB57] .

Without warning the path became much steeper and very treacherous.  The floor was strewn with small pebbles that caused me to slip with almost every second step.  I rounded a bend in the tunnel (the only one I'd seen so far in this spooky hole[WB58] ) and beheld, about 20 feet in front of me a door blocking the tunnel.  There was no way I was going to open that door.  Just looking at the gruesome carvings on it made my knees shake.  As I turned to leave, several things happened at once.  My feet slipped out from under me and I began to slide toward the door.  The flashlight fell from my hand, and just before it shattered and went out, I saw the door open on its own!   I knew that I would perish here in the darkness with no light to die by[WB59].

Somehow, I could sense when I slid through the door.  The stench hit me like a sledgehammer.  It took my breath away and I passed out.  How long I was unconscious and how far I actually slid, I had no way of knowing.  When I awoke the smell was still there, mingled now with the stench of my own urine.  I had only two thoughts and they were to get out and change clothes.  The only way out was up, so I began to crawl up as fast as I could.  I had no idea if the door was in front of me or to the side, I just knew I couldn't stay a moment longer in this land of fear[WB60] , this land of always-night[WB61].

I knew very well where I was.  I was in hell.  I had somehow crossed over into the other world[WB62] , ruled by the boss of terror[WB63]  himself, that hate genius[WB64] , that devil Ghengis[WB65] --Satan.  Black[WB66]  despair seized me.  It was really icky.  As I kept moving, a light behind me made me turn and look.  I saw a glowing red skull[WB67]  hanging in the darkness.  It then coalesced into a crimson serpent[WB68] .  Finally it took a form that I knew, without ever having seen anything like it before, was the ruler of that awful dynasty[WB69] , the czar of fear[WB70]  himself.

This thing that I saw wasn't really looking at me, though.  I guess I was just too insignificant to bother with.  It floated over me and disappeared.  I kept crawling until exhaustion overtook me and I fell on my face and slept.  I actually awoke with a laugh, having the ridiculous thought that the devil's name was Jones[WB71] .   The laugh died in my throat, though, because I was still in this evil place.   I continued climbing.  I couldn't sense passing out the door, but I kept hoping I had.

Then the floor of that tunnel of terror[WB72]  became less steep, and I knew that I was going the right way.  My hands and knees were raw, but I was finally able to stand and continue to stumble upwards.  When I finally emerged from the cave, it was night.   Which night it was I didn't know and didn't care.  I only knew I had escaped from that land of terror[WB73]  and had come up from earth's center[WB74]  and had survived.  I collapsed and slept until the sun was high in the sky.

When I awoke, I looked around and saw that the blackened trail that led me to the cave was gone.  There was no trace of Ames' campsite, but there was a trace of Ames.   I found his right arm where the camp had been.  I knew it was his because of the tattoo on the bicep.  He had the letters "O.S.T.[WB75] " tattooed there.   They were his girlfriend’s initials and Sharette had told me that was how I could identify him.  His lifeless fingers still grasped a small statuette.   Taking the figure, I found myself looking at a small man of bronze[WB76] .

I buried the statue with the arm there in the valley.  I needed no physical mementos of my adventure.  My return journey was pleasant enough I suppose, except that every night I had the same nightmare.  I'm pursued by flaming falcons[WB77]  bent on my destruction.  I no sooner escape the fiery menace[WB78]  carried by these birds of death[WB79] , than I fall off a cliff into a lake that explodes[WB80]  with fire.  This recurring nightmare is the legacy left to me by my trip.  It is my bequest of evil[WB81] .  I rarely leave my apartment any more.  I sit in my chair like a man of stone[WB82]  waiting for death to lay me cold[WB83]  in the grave.  On that day, they will measure me for a coffin[WB84] , dress me in my monkey suit[WB85]  and lay me to rest.  There I will await the sound of the last trumpet, the day of judgment.  And on that resurrection day[WB86]  I know time will hold no more terror[WB87]  for me.

THE END

List of Titles from the actual Doc Savage magazines that are hinted at in the story:

 

[WB1]#153-11/01/1945 - Trouble On Parade

 [WB2]#180-04/01/1949 - Return From Cormoral

 [WB3]#143-01/01/1945 - Violent Night

 [WB4]#154-12/01/1945 - The Screaming Man

 [WB5]#133-03/01/1944 - The Derelict of Skull Shoal

 [WB6]#173-11/01/1947 - Once Over Lightly

 [WB7]#161-07/01/1946 - Fire and Ice

 [WB8]#145-03/01/1945 - The Ten Ton Snakes

 [WB9] #174-01/01/1948 - I Died Yesterday

 [WB10]#46-12/01/1936 - The Vanisher

 [WB11]#166-12/01/1946 - The Disappearing Lady

 [WB12]#114-08/01/1942 - The Three Wild Men

 [WB13]#94-12/01/1940 - The Men Vanished

 [WB14]#26-04/01/1935 - The Spook Legion

 [WB15]#41-07/01/1936 - The Black Spot

 [WB16]#89-07/01/1940 - The Flying Goblin

 [WB17]#88-06/01/1940 - The Awful Egg

 [WB18]#31-09/01/1935 - The Majii

 [WB19]#172-09/01/1947 - Let's Kill Ames

 [WB20]#51-05/01/1937 - Mad Eyes

 [WB21]#122-04/01/1943 - The King of Terror

 [WB22]#86-04/01/1940 - The Evil Gnome

 [WB23]#116-10/01/1942 - The Laugh of Death

 [WB24]#150-08/01/1945 - The Wee Ones

 [WB25]#169-03/01/1947 - Danger Lies East

 [WB26]#106-12/01/1941 - Peril in the North

 [WB27]#127-09/01/1943 - Hell Below

 [WB28]#135-05/01/1944 - The Three Devils

 [WB29]#120-02/01/1943 - Waves of Death

 [WB30]#55-09/01/1937 - The Feathered Octopus

 [WB31]#73-03/01/1939 - The Freckled Shark

 [WB32]#144-02/01/1945 - Strange Fish

 [WB33]#40-06/01/1936 - Haunted Ocean

 [WB34]#57-11/01/1937 - The Sea Angel

 [WB35]#61-03/01/1938 - Devil On the Moon

 [WB36]#178-09/01/1948 - The Swooning Lady

 [WB37]#146-04/01/1945 - Cargo Unknown

 [WB38]#56-10/01/1937 - Repel [The Deadly Dwarf]

“Repel” was the title in the original pulp magazine. “The Deadly Dwarf” was the title Bantam gave to the reprint.

 [WB39]#149-07/01/1945 - King Joe Cay

 [WB40]#167-01/01/1947 - Target For Death

 [WB41]#33-11/01/1935 - Murder Melody

 [WB42]#137-07/01/1944 - The Man Who Was Scared

 [WB43]#131-01/01/1944 - According To Plan of a One-Eyed Mystic

 [WB44]#23-01/01/1935 - The Mystic Mullah

 [WB45]#72-02/01/1939 - The Yellow Cloud

 [WB46]#82-12/01/1939 - The Dagger In the Sky

 [WB47]#139-09/01/1944 - Weird Valley

 [WB48]#24-02/01/1935 - Red Snow

 [WB49]#151-09/01/1945 - Terror Takes Seven

 [WB50]#156-02/01/1946 - Se-Pah-Poo

 [WB51]#38-04/01/1936 - The Men Who Smiled No More

 [WB52]#147-05/01/1945 - Rock Sinister

 [WB53]#39-05/01/1936 - The Seven Agate Devils

 [WB54]#152-10/01/1945 - The Thing That Pursued

 [WB55]#175-03/01/1948 - The Pure Evil

 [WB56]#140-10/01/1944 - Jiu San

 [WB57]#95-01/01/1941 - The Devil's Playground

 [WB58]#30-08/01/1935 - Spook Hole

 [WB59]#170-05/01/1947 - No Light To Die By

 [WB60]#52-06/01/1937 - The Land of Fear

 [WB61]#25-03/01/1935 - Land of Always-Night

 [WB62]#83-01/01/1940 - The Other World

 [WB63]#87-05/01/1940 - The Boss of Terror

 [WB64]#143-01/01/1945 - Violent Night [The Hate Genius]

“Violent Night” was the title published in the pulp. Bantam renamed it “The Hate Genius” for the reprint.

 [WB65]#70-12/01/1938 - The Devil Genghis

 [WB66]#141-11/01/1944 - Satan Black

 [WB67]#6-08/01/1933 - The Red Skull

 [WB68]#78-08/01/1939 - The Crimson Serpent

 [WB69]#93-11/01/1940 - The Awful Dynasty

 [WB70]#9-11/01/1933 - The Czar of Fear

 [WB71]#165-11/01/1946 - The Devil Is Jones

 [WB72]#90-08/01/1940 - Tunnel Terror

 [WB73]#2-04/01/1933 - The Land of Terror

 [WB74]#181-07/01/1949 - Up From Earth's Center

 [WB75]#54-08/01/1937 - Ost [The Magic Island]

The pulp title was “Ost” and the Bantam title was “The Magic Island”

 [WB76]#1-03/01/1933 - The Man of Bronze

 [WB77]#76-06/01/1939 - The Flaming Falcons

 [WB78]#115-09/01/1942 - The Fiery Menace

 [WB79]#104-10/01/1941 - Birds of Death

 [WB80]#163-09/01/1946 - The Exploding Lake

 [WB81]#96-02/01/1941 - Bequest of Evil

 [WB82]#80-10/01/1939 - The Stone Man

 [WB83]#43-09/01/1936 - Cold Death

 [WB84]#155-01/01/1946 - Measures for A Coffin

 [WB85]#171-07/01/1947 - The Monkey Suit

 [WB86]#45-11/01/1936 - Resurrection Day

 [WB87]#119-01/01/1943 - The Time Terror

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