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Bride of the Ape

by Harold Ward

I lay paralyzed as my adorable Betty, her dewy maidenhood unconcealed, was stretched on that altar of primordial desire . . . while that stone-age monster played a passion prelude—to the consummation of the flesh's unholy command!

IT was dark—abysmally dark. There was not even a star in the heavens to relieve the fathomless blackness that surrounded us on all sides—a blackness intensified a thousandfold by the fierce wind howling down from the mountains. It bit into the very marrow of our bones chilling the blood in our veins, benumbing us, making every step a torture.

And behind us, its stealthy movements hidden by the ebony curtain of the night, was the thing. For the past hour it had dogged us, spying on our every motion, stopping when we stopped, always keeping just outside our range of vision. Yet we could hear its soft padding; it was always in our rear regardless of what way we turned.

Once it coughed hackingly. I whirled on my heel, my gorge rising, for the sound seemed right at my elbow. My swinging fist touched only empty space. I caught a momentary gleam of its phosphorescent eyes as it leaped back into the darkness. My cigarette lighter was in my pocket; I held it in my benumbed fingers and snapped the flint. The flame was only for a second; then the raging wind extinguished it, but it brought a low, menacing snarl from the thing behind us—a bestial, half-human growl of anger.

It was our wedding journey. Married only the day before, we had started by automobile for the home of Betty's uncle in the mountains. Either the attendant at the filling station back in the little village through which we had passed had given us the wrong direction or we had misinterpreted what he had said. The coming of nightfall had found us in a narrow, tree-bordered lane apparently far from any human habitation.

Then, to make matters worse, a spring had broken, rendering the car completely useless.

We had not passed a house since turning into the side road five or ten miles back; by the law of averages, there should be one ahead. Averse to leaving Betty while I sought for help, I had allowed her to accompany me.

Since then we had wandered miles, it seemed, without sighting a sign of life. Meanwhile the weather had changed; the wind was howling down through the canyons of the foothills in a perfect hurricane, freezing us to the very bone. We had lost all idea of direction, for even our senses were becoming deadened under the strain; only the fact that the trees and underbrush had been cleared away kept us on the road.

THEN, from behind, came the soft pad of feet heralding the approach of the accursed thing that was now following us. The constant menace acted as a tonic to our jaded nerves, quickening our muscles, putting us on the qui vive.

Along the long, bleak trail, I stumbled across a rough club. Picking it up, I brandished it in my hands. The feel of it strengthened me and gave me renewed courage.

Dimly, through the swaying trees, we saw a light. Taking Betty more firmly by the arm, I quickened my footsteps. The narrow lane brought us to a fence. Skirting it, we approached the house from the side.

There was nothing eerie or particularly forbidding about the rambling old structure that loomed like an uncouth spot of blackness in the frame of the starless night a hundred yards away. The light gleamed from a single window on the lower floor, casting a sickly beam through the heavy foliage. Yet a chill of apprehension swept over me that left me colder than the mountain wind. Betty shuddered, too. Involuntarily my arm sought her waist and I drew her closer. Some subtle sixth sense told me to flee; I fought it back, for to...

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