Abner Schlap's Strange Insight can be found in

ISFDB.org Magazine Entry


July 1941


When Abner Schlap, mogul of Terminal City, went
into Shane's Optical Parlors, he didn't bargain
for a pair of glasses that revealed thoughts....!


"WITH dreadful finality, Abner Schlap, the Terror of Terminal City, barged commandingly through the portals of Doc Shane's Optical Parlors.

"I," announced Schlap with the voice of doom, "have come for my glasses."

Horace Heysead, Doc Shane's newly hired assistant, notched up his courage three and a half pegs and stammered,

"Oh, indeed? How nice of you to call on us, Major Schlap."

"Colonel Schlap!" thundered the proprietor of Terminal City, who had once been a corporal in a boys' military school. "And I did not come to pay you a visit! I detest doctors and politicians—quacks, all of them! I might even detest you," he added ominously, "if you don't get me my glasses in a hurry."

"Oh, no, sir!" quavered Horace. "That would be awful! I'll see about your prescription at once. Dr. Shane is home, ill," he flung back over his shoulder as he scurried from the room.

"Ill, huh?" growled Abner Schlap.

"I trust it's nothing trivial."

The frightened Horace was back in a few minutes with an attractively designed pair of spectacles. The lenses, as a timid beam of sunlight struck them, seemed for a moment to reflect an oddly phosphorescent glint, as though a rainbow had become imprisoned in a fortune-teller's crystal globe. Schlap glared at the eyepiece suspiciously.

"This doesn't look like the frame I ordered," he snapped.

"Oh, but there must be some mistake!" Horace quivered. "These were laid out in Dr. Shane's special drawer for—er—important customers."

Schlap appeared slightly mollified.

"All right," he grunted. "I'll try 'em on."

For a man of such large and well-nigh formidable proportions, Schlap handled the glasses almost gingerly. He put them over his gimlet eyes. The spectacles hung awry; and with a simpler of apology, Horace Heysead went to work.

"How is that, sir?" he asked after he had made one or two little adjustments.

"Uncomfortable!" Schlap snorted.

"Here, sir," Horace suggested, "watch my finger."

He moved the shaking member back and forth from the center of Schlap's nose. Schlap focused and unfocused his eyes blurrily, trying to follow the finger. Finally he impaled it with a dangerous glare. Yes—a man's finger, all right.

His eyes lifted abruptly to stare at the anxious Horace. And then Schlap started. He was looking directly into the eyes of Doc Shane's young assistant—and what he saw there was, to put it mildly, shocking.

Straight through the black pupils he looked—right through Horace's twitching eyeballs! But instead of seeing a collection of blood vessels, lymphatic veins and other unmentionable things, Abner Schlap beheld a miniature motion picture!

A motion picture, no less, of Horace Heysead's inner mental processes!

"Oh, God!" moaned Schlap piteously.

He closed his eyes weakly. But he couldn't get the dreadful vision out of them. He quaked like an aspen leaf, recalling the two characters in that hectic scene.

One of them had been Abner Schlap. He was stretched out on a rack, like a defenseless victim of the Inquisition. Only it was a 1941 rack. All aluminum, with sharp little spikes. On a bicycle-seat contraption had sat Horace Heysead. A wheel-and-sprocket gadget was attached to the rack.

Every time Schlap groaned, Horace made another gleeful turn of the pedal. Every time Schlap stopped groaning, Horace pushed a little switch, which sent sharp electric jolts through the sharper little spikes, on which Schlap was impaled.

Yes, indeed, it had all been perfectly frightful...

"Don't do it!" Schlap screamed. "...

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