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The jungles rang to the shrill screams of Martinez and his cohorts as they turned the forest primeval into a charnel house for barbarous orgies of mutilation!

Death Mates For The Lust-Lost

by Hugh J. Gallagher

THERE was something eerie about the unbroken line of trees along the shore, Miriam Daly decided, something forbidding, something frightening. She tried to shake off the uneasy awakening of apprehension and marked it down to fatigue, but as the cocky little launch wound its way down the murky river the feeling of uneasiness increased in intensity. She began to wish now that she had refused this booking, began to wish she had taken the counsel of more experienced minds.

"I don't know what kind of a place they're booking you into," Eve Gale had drawled when Miriam told her about it, "but I know this, when you're that far away from civilization and something happens—it won't do you any good to wave your Equity card in the face of those savages down there."

"Savages?" Miriam had chided. "Don't be silly.

There are no savages in the part of South America where I'm going."

Now she wasn't so sure.

She glanced at the other occupants of the launch, and read the same anxiety in their faces. Opposite her sat a young blonde with petulantly soft lips, and large liquid blue eyes that now seemed clouded with some nameless fear. The greenness of her eye shadow stood out in startling contrast to the pallor of her face, and she nervously rolled and unrolled a little kerchief in her well-kept hands.

Miriam leaned across. "I beg your pardon," she said, "but I wonder if you're on your way to the Martinez'?"

A gleam of hope lighted up the girl's beautiful eyes. "Then you're going there, too?" she asked in a husky voice. "I'm so glad. All this," she indicated the tree-adorned shore, "was beginning to get me down."

Miriam smiled sympathetically. "Yes, I know. Me, too." She, too, felt strangely reassured by the fact that the girl opposite was also on her way to Martinez'. "What is it, a casino, or a theatre, or what?"

The fear crept back into the blonde's face. "I—I don't know. All I know is that I've been hitting a bad streak of luck, and then when an agent offered me this, I—I snapped at it."

An invisible band seemed to tighten about Miriam's chest. She turned to the other occupants of the launch, who had seemed to listen to the conversation with interest. "Is anybody else here going to the Martinez place?" she asked. Every one of them nodded. "Does anybody know anything about it?"

A mannish, heavy-shouldered brunette at her side grinned, showing even, white teeth. "I've been wondering myself what they'd want with an aerialist all the way down here, but," she shrugged eloquently, "a job's a job."

An uneasy silence fell over the group, to be broken by the huge aerialist. "I don't suppose anybody has noticed it," she said, "but does it strike you as strange that there's not a man in the whole group?"

"That's right," Miriam admitted, "but maybe the management wants an all girl show. There's nothing very strange in that, is there?"

"Maybe not," the aerialist conceded, "if it were for a floor show. I'm an air performer and nobody's taken the trouble to catch my act. How about the rest of you?"

A hurried census of the passengers revealed that aside from Miriam, whose specialty was a tap-toe dance, the blonde was a blues singer, the drugstore redhead was a magician's assistant, the nervous- looking thin woman in the severe dress admitted to being a concert pianist while the stout woman was a lecturer on public health.

"Rather a queer floor show our friend Martinez is planning, eh?" the broad-shouldered female smiled, but the coldness of her eyes belied the warmth of the grin.

DARKNESS hid the house proper as the boat snaked its way to the shore, but against the dark sky, Miriam could catch the faint outline of spires and a turret. On all sides was the death-like quiet of an unbroken jungle, and behind her in the water she could hear the angry swirling of some large amphibian as it splashed its way past the boat.

"We're on an island," the aerialist, who had identified herself as Phyllis, told Miriam....

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