Weird and Occult Library # 3 (Gerald G. Swan)

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It’s been a real pleasure reading all three of these lost gems. That Gerald G. Swan decided to unearth his trove of unpublished manuscripts, acquired back in the 1940s, and publish them during the 1960-61 era, is phenomenal.

The contents for this issue:

(1-5) The Incredible Awakening by Norman C. Pallant
(5-15) Black-Man’s Magic by Frank C. Brooke
(15-25) Labyrinth of Zekor by S. G. J. Ouseley
(26-34) Silvester’s Oasis by Henry Rawle
(34) The Hill of Worms by A. S. Quilter Palmer(35-43) As White as Snow by Ian Mercer
(43-47) A Guest of Vanderdecken by Ernest L. McKeag
(48-52) The Last Word by A. E. Crawley
(52-57) The Yellow Mask by John Body
(57-62) Corner Cottage by A. M. Burridge (sic, Burrage)
(63-64) A Lot of Gammon (uncredited)

The first story is of a dreaming man slowly waking up. While the dreamer awakens, worlds within the realm of his mind come crashing down and entities vanish in the blink of an eye. The Incredible Awakening may represent our own existence being but a dream. It’s unclear, bizarre, and unusual, and I like it all the more!

The author, Norman C. Pallant, has written a handful of
other weird stories and science fiction tales.

In Black Man’s Magic, the story reads like something L. Patrick Greene might have written for his African adventure pulp stories. Captain Ferguson saves the life an African’s child, and in return, grants him a vision into the future, one to solve a crime, and the other, a noise from the wand of African man from earlier in the story, to save his life! Only he can hear the noise and save his life it does, for the villain pulls a gun. Following the rest of the vision, he goes directly to the hidden false identity gear, a stowed gun, and then, elsewhere, to stashed cash that nobody could possibly normally locate. This even baffles the local police. When asked how did he solve the mysterious crime, was it “black magic” he replies, that no, it was “black-man’s magic.”

Frank C. Brooke is no stranger to selling stories
to Gerald G. Swan. Typically he can be found as the
writer of juvenile stories for boys and girls.

Lybyrinth of Zekor…titles like that are always interesting. You KNOW you are about to read some weird and unusual story. At the least, the title infers something out of the ordinary. A vacationing couple are duped into hiring a local and visiting the sunken ruins of an immense building. While underground, they discover it is a lost cult, and other vacationers are lured below, capture and murdered. They escape and the lost city inexplicably explodes and sinks further, killing all inhabitants.

Ouseley has contributed other weird stories
to this genre field, with equal ability. Some are
of the purely outlandish variety but many simply
are concluded with irrational endings.

Silvester’s Oasis is typical deliriousness in a desert. While dehydrated and near death, he is rescued by a man of the desert whom takes him home and Silvester finds himself transported back through time, hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. He is mistaken for another person, and he becomes romantically involved with a lady, whom all males are forbidden to contact. Taken before the supreme ruler, he learns of his fate but times inexplicably change and he is back in the present. A weak conclusion that left me wondering why the author went to the trouble to write an otherwise interesting story.

Henry Rawle is no virgin to the weird genre.
Click on his name in the side-bar to read more about
from another of my earlier posts.

The Hill of Worms is a half-page vignette. Dead guy buried in cottage, murdered, year later comes back to haunt the murderer. The locals find him dead and in the corner, instead of a dead decomposed man, a dead adder.

Initially I thought As White as Snow was going to turn out to be a Romeo and Juliet spoof. Don’t ask me why; I simply believed that to be the case. It was, close enough. Our Romeo is romantically involved with working with the church when he is introduced to an intoxicating young beauty. They fall in love, kiss, then she breaks off mortified, and confesses that they can never be together. She has leprosy, and then runs off a cliff. Our Romeo is found at the drinking establishment, and our narrator runs to him to save their lives, after learning that the guy does NOT have leprosy. He learns of her demise too late, and is thankful that Romeo hasn’t done anything foolish. But, he has. The drink is drugged. He dies. So, a twist on an old story. While he isn’t named Romeo, she IS named Julia.

Despite fearing that A Guest of Vanderdecken would be typical fluff, I plunged into McKeag’s version of the ill-fated voyage of the Flying Dutchman. When a man is lost at sea and deliriously near death, a storm saves his life, providing much-needed drinkable water. Spying a ship, he and his small boat are pulled aboard and he is revived. On securing his health, he is mortified to find those on board are wearing antiquated outfits from hundreds years ago, and the ship of the ancient seafaring sort. But when he learns the identity of the ship’s captain, and that they are nearing the Cape, he loses his grip on sanity, realizing that if they get past the Cape, the ship and all her crew are doomed to repeat their adventure until the end of time, and that somehow, in this time loop, he has joined their crew! As the crew hurrahs! at passing the Cape, their bodies rapidly age and disintegrate, as does the ship. Just before it crumbles out of the present to rejoin the ghostly past, our narrator dives into his own boat and lands safely in the water, to be picked and saved.

Although the impression given was that all the stories
present are lost, unpublished stories, fact is, this story
actually was published, by Gerald G. Swan, in the
May 1949 issue of Cute Fun. Perhaps they needed
further filler material for this volume or lost their own
records indicating it had been published.

In The Last Word, an old man and nurse at an infirmary heatedly dislike one another. The “why” of it is entirely unclear. Perhaps it is purely a matter of personality. The old man one night is having an attack, and the nurse, happening to be on duty, takes her time in giving him his meds. Taking too long, he dies, but sets his sights on her, in death, to haunt her. Time passes…. His favorite wheel chair is constantly avoided. Anyone trying to use it leap out of it immediately, as if pushed, prodded, poked, etc. The wheelchair one night is found out of place and the head nurse reprimands the killer-nurse. She takes umbrage to the charge, and after it occurs again, begins to keep an hourly watch on that chair. It happens again. Finally on the third night, she tries to put it back, but finds the chair evading and pursuing her about the infirmary. Everyone is asleep, save for the narrator, whom watches as the chair steers her to the balcony and shoves her over the edge.

The Yellow Mask is given to have been the cause for many a strange death and insanity. A pair of men decided to investigate the ancient dilapidated remains of an opium establishment, where their buddy was last known to have visited, prior to succumbing to insanity. They find indeed that something sinister and supernatural is present.

John Body is the alias of John Brody. He wrote other short
tales for Gerald G. Swan. He also had a brief career writing
science fiction for New Worlds magazine.

Corner Cottage by A. M. Burrage (erroneously spelled here as Burridge) is typical campfire stuff. Family takes up residence in a cottage that annually is abandoned due to a curse. An entire family died there. The current residence–and artist and his wife and son–move in and disregard local gossip. But when events and noises rattle them for weeks and months, the climax comes on the very annual night the dead family, er, well, DIED. Coming home from the pub, the artist walks in on his wife and two very dead visitors, with bullet wounds in their heads, from a double-suicide. Their son is upstairs screaming and bawling that a dead girl is in his room. They move out the next day, and later read that the cottage caught fire and burned to the ground. The artist prefers to believe that the dead scared them away to save their lives. Did they?

A. M. Burrage prolifically wrote for at least three full decades.

The vignette A Lot of Gammon is purely tongue-in-cheek humor poking fun at small village lore surrounding ghosts and the like. Amusingly enough, the local tells informs the outsider that he was told how to invoke curses and use witchcraft, but states it’s a lot of gammon, or bunk. As a jest, he grabs the broom, sits upon it, and recounts the words he was to use to fly. Shockingly, the broom lifts and takes off, with the man screaming BLIMEY into the night….

 

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Weird and Occult Library # 3 (Gerald G. Swan)

Weird and Occult 1/- Library # 1 (Gerald G. Swan)

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In the 1940s, Gerald G. Swan purchased the rights to tons of stories, paying on acceptance. His files were loaded with unused material that languished throughout the 1950s. Come 1960-1961, the outfit finally issued much of this languishing material in a variety of genre-specific editions. Here, I will be dealing exclusively with the first issue of the Weird and Occult 1/- Library digest-sized paperbacks (and in January 2017, two more blog entries will follow, covering the other two issues).

The books are 64-pages each, measure 5 x 7 inches, and are stapled with glued wraps.

The contents:

  • (1-13) Vashtarin by Kay Hammond
  • (14-15) Twenty-five Years by Herbert J. Brandon
  • (16-22) Cause or Effect by Maurice Grove
  • (22-30) Dr. Kranzer’s Masterpiece by S. G. J. Ousley (sic)
  • (30-39) The Horsehair Chair by Winifred M. Carnegie
  • (40-46) The Case of Eva Gardiner by A. M. Burrage
  • (46-49) In the Dark Temple by Noman C. Jallant (sic)
  • (49-56) Green Eyes for Evil by Leslie Bussey
  • (56-58) Scuttled by Christine Douglas
  • (59-63) The Sins of the Fathers by Tom Lawrence
  • (63-64) So Near – So Far by Philip Glyde

Quite easily this lead story by Kay Hammond-Davies is the best out of the whole lot. Equally so, Vashtarin is the only story within the whole volume worth reading. Taking place during World War Two, the Royal Air Force are interested in investigating a downed plane in the Himalayas. Rumor has it that the valley holds a lost race. The scene switches, and the lost race is given to us in typical Oriental-fiction style, complete with the evil leader possessing magical abilities. Complete with a virgin that falls for the downed airman, we are introduced to a wonderfully exotic lost realm, a pilot whom is struck down after his flights of fancy, and a magically-enhanced world is bombed out of existence by the RAF in retaliation. A story that is more Oriental adventure than weird, with slightly fantastic tones throughout. If only the rest of the stories retained such interest….

Herbert J. Brandon doesn’t break new ground in Twenty-five Years. A few college chums going their own way after graduation vow to meet 25 years hence. Usual snap ending, they all arrive, sans one, whom at the midnight hour, arrives, as a ghostly form, then vanishes, and one of the other older lads notes that he hung that very morning, for a crime!

In Maurice Grove’s Cause or Effect, a wife is convinced that her husband is causing the untimely deaths of people that they once knew or famous persons that haven’t made the news in a while. However, she’s informed she is interpreting his proclamations wrongly. He is attuned to the occult and picking up on their death vibrations, which suddenly makes him call out their name, etc. Convincing her to return to her estranged husband, he later learns that she has died, while attempting to return home. Ironically, only that very day, the husband, whom had long since given up on her returning home, and just uttered that her name, making the doctor wonder…was he wrong?

In Dr. Kranzer’s Masterpiece, S. G. J. Ouseley writes a truly weird tale. Kranzer has gone missing, and Dr. Arnold is brought in to investigate matters. He eventually discovers a secret chamber underground and the doctor, dead, with an uncanny thing, a creation of his own doing, that led, ultimately, to his own undoing!

Winifred M. Carnegie delivers a creepy tale when a dead man bequeaths The Horsehair Chair to a non-believer in the occult. However, when a friend visits and stays the night, reading by the fire, he ends up sitting in the chair (while his friend is drawn away for the night). He’s soon unable to extricate himself from the chair, and is visited by a frightening thing. A demon? The next night, his friend returns and the pair retire to the same room and he takes to the seat. Unable to warn him without being scoffed at, his friend soon suffers the same fate. They later break apart the chair, find a note within, from the original owner, noting that he had murdered another person in that very chair….

A. M. Burrage handles the murder of a young girl in The Case of Eva Gardiner. The police have their man but no evidence. Angered that the murderer has escaped Justice, Mr. Ransome, an older gentleman bachelor nightly coerces himself to focus mentally on the girl, whom was a regular visitor at his home. One night, she ethereally visits while he dreams, and discloses the identity of her killer, and other details. Unable to obtain the police’s assistance in his arrest, Mr. Ransome obtains a gun and shoots the killer dead, turns himself over to the police.

In the Dark Temple, by Norman C. Pallant (erroneously credited as “Jallant” on the page), a man is in the jungle seeking a lost temple. Securing its whereabouts, he alone enters and steals a rare gem off a temple gods face. Despite the gleaming stones removal, he hears a ferociously evil roar from the god and a baleful, evilly bright gleaming eye glares down at him. Scared out of his wits, he is assaulted by some being. Whipping out his knife, he fights for his life…. Mentally deranged, the locals find the treasure hunter, with the gem, and it is learned that a locally infamous one-eyed tiger assaulted him.

Leslie Bussey delivers a somewhat chilling account in Green Eyes for Evil. Alan is fixated on his brother’s fiance, and proclaims his love to her. Failing to secure her affections, he gives her a green stone ring. Time passes, and he receives a letter to meet his brother. In reaching the home, he learns that the brother murdered his wife, after discovering the bejeweled ring. He knows the gem was stolen from a specific location, and intends to exact his revenge upon his deceitful brother. His plans misfire, and Alan murders his brother in  quasi-self-defense. Fearing that, if caught, he’ll hang for murder, he cleans the scene of his presence, and slips the dead man his gun. His brother gets the last laugh…his finger contracts and drills Alan, dead.

Christine Douglas delivers a weakly constructed tale in Scuttled. The protagonist annually plans various luxurious vacations, but in fact, never leaves his home. On returning from his “vacation,” he boasts about how enjoyable it was and provides relevant details to enhance the experience, by reading up on each locale. His plans go vastly awry, when on returning to work this time, his workmates leave a newspaper on his desk noting that HIS SHIP NEVER MADE IT to its final destination.

In The Sins of the Fathers, Tom Lawrence writes a typically dated weird tale in which a dead man visits a young man as a ghost in his dreams, and informs him that he shall die for the sins of his father. While a young boy, his father had caught the dead man stealing from the cash drawer. In protecting his property, he inadvertently strikes the man a death blow and sent to the penitentiary, where, he himself dies, succumbing to an illness. Feeling cheated, the ghost is determined to take the son’s life, instead. If only he can stay away long enough to escape the ghost’s intentions….

In Philip Glyde’s So Near – So Far, a romantic couple are hiking up a mountain when he accidentally slips, knocking their pack off the edge, and damaging his watch. Continuing the ascent, they are met by a thickening mist. Realizing they may become stranded, they begin a rapid, but cautious descent. The mist becomes impenetrably dangerous. Realizing further efforts may result in their death(s), the pair hole-up for the night. On awakening, they find that, in looking over the edge, they were only three feet from completing their downward journey. (NOTE: This is not a weird story in the least)

Weird and Occult 1/- Library # 1 (Gerald G. Swan)

“Gang Shorts” – 3rd Collection

Gang Shorts 3
Gang Shorts # 3

Gang Shorts: 3rd Collection
Printed 1945 in England, by Gerald G. Swan.
Published double column, on 36 pages.
Cover price: 7d.

The booklet is comprised of:

  • Black Huntress by Norman C. Pallant
  • Honi Soit… by G. H. Lister
  • The Broken Window Cord by Ronald Horton
  • Sadie Gets Her Story by Stella Dene
  • They Always Get Theirs by Leslie Bussey
  • Roast Beef? Take it Away! by Preston D. Olsen
  • Limited Risk by G. H. Lister

The lead story is Norman C. Pallant’s “Black Huntress.”
Public Enemy No. 1 “Joe Conner” has made a name for himself, making money and slaying his enemies. He thinks his life is 100% positively secure, until a dame in black begins a cross-country chase. Believing her to be the widow of a man he wiped out years ago, he flees to further recesses of the country, and always, he finds her there. While attempting to vanish, he holds up a bank, and, who should walk in but the dame! Pushing his gat into her chest, he threatens to kill her and run with the goods, but the bank teller pumps him full of lead. In conclusion, the police interrogate the woman in black, only to learn that she is an autograph hound!!!

Norman Charles Pallant was born 14 February 1910
in the Hitchin district, died the end of 1972, in the
Haringey district. His literary output, as follows:

Up next is “Honi Soit…” by G. H. Lister.
Montgomery Smith is an Englishman whom has outlived his usefulness as a swindler of his own countryman. Relocating to the United States, he quickly administers thievery and lies, and builds up a rapid reservoir of cash. Looking for bigger game, he convinces a man to pay him an immense amount of dollars, and in return, Smith coughs up a family heirloom, a sword, that when possessed gives the owner the title of an English gentleman. Desiring to be a Lord, the American readily agrees. Smith goes out to a shop, buys an old sword, has a fake certificate created, and the whole process is complete. Things go rapidly wrong when a pair of criminals hold them up for their hard-earned cash. In the process, Smith ends up with the dame, whom is convinced he really is a wealthy Englishman. Fleeing America with the toots, he begins to work on a plan to unload the broad….

Gordon H. Lister was born 1914 and died 1996.
His output seems limited strictly to Swan publications:

Ronald Horton supplies “The Broken Window Cord.”
Ray Lester is gonna hang for attempted murder. But investigator ‘Dad’ Morgan literally finds “holes” in the botched murder scene, and a loose cord in a trunk drilled with air-holes seals the real killer’s fate!

Ronald Harcourt Horton was born Qtr 2, 1902 in the
Solihull district, and died 1987.
While his output appears limited, I suspect he sold stories
to numerous rural newspapers throughout the country.
He also turns in various boys’ annuals.

Stella Dene supplies “Sadie Gets Her Story.”
Blonde bombshell newsgirl Sadie is handed the assignment of bringing back to her paper a real humdinger. While investigating a young man whom appears to be cozying up unflattering-like with the local mob enforcers, Sadie inexplicably finds herself kidnapped, in a case of mistaken identity! While trying to find a means of escape, she contacts her boss and reveals the secret location of the Bronx Gang. The place is raided and she is rescued, in what is otherwise a fairly weak story.

The identity of “Stella Dene” is murky.
What is known is that she (or he?) wrote a handful of
girls’ short stories for the various Swan publications.

Up next is “They Always Get Theirs” by Leslie Bussey.
Lefty leaves his entire life fortune and business to two ex-criminals, whom find themselves currently booted from Lefty’s business by hardier gangsters. Forced out with the option to LIVE or DIE, they choose to live. But, when they receive a copy of the Will, they find themselves in possession of a coded message, that, when deciphered, reveals that the business is a time-bomb, and, if not reset on a regular basis, the entire premises will explode. It does, and takes out all of the criminals in on the initial plot to wipe out Lefty. And the pair of heirs? They play is straight, open and operate a drive-in!

Leslie Bussey’s works appear to be “almost” exclusively
attached to the Swan outfit. Due to the common nature
of his namesake, his birth and death years are unknown.
He also contributed to Swan’s “Detective Album, 1947” and
the “Crime Album, 1947.” I’m not sure about the 1946 editions.

Preston D. Olsen’s “Roast Beef?–Take It Away!” is without meaty substance.
Two thieves snatch a diamond studded ladies’ accessory, break it apart, and hide the diamonds inside a golf ball. Fleeing America in order to sell the diamonds on the black market and avoid another criminal whom is onto them, they find themselves on the short end, crossing an English pasture and pursued by a bull. When the bull smacks the rump of the man possessing the diamonds, he finds himself lacking his own inherited family jewels. Discerning that the bull must have swallowed the bling, they purchase the bull and have it shipped back to America, to be slaughtered. The joke is on them; no golf ball, no jewels. Later, a story circulates in the Odd Column back in England. A bird’s nest was found to contain the golf ball and inside, the diamonds!

The true identity of this author is unknown.
Further, this is the only known tale to appear under this name.

Gang Shorts wraps up with “Limited Risk” by G. H. Lister.
Again returns our lovable criminal-scoundrel, Montgomery Smith. Looking for some fresh excitement in his retirement from criminal activities, Montgomery strolls through Central Park, listening to various orators denouncing this-and-that, and one in particular, is beating the drum against citywide corruption, in the form of a strong-arm faux-insurance broker, named Perelli. Using his enforcers to pressure local small businesses to cough up a percentage of their hard-earned profits towards insurance, this protection racket is beating up resisters and burning out the rest. Smith decides to use his skills to unseat Perelli, by flipping the tables and landing him in jail.

“Gang Shorts” – 3rd Collection