November 16, 2010

Where do they go?

A very long time ago, I read a short story that haunted me. I think I was 16 at the time so it must have been about 1964. I think it was in a book of short stories . . . but it could also have been an issue of Amazing Stories. If it's the latter, it may truly be lost to time, though Feedbooks is doing a bang-up job of republishing those old Amazing Stories for today's electronic reading devices.

I remember the name of the author as being Howard Fast but I've never been able to find the story and there doesn't seem to have been a Howard Fast who wrote sci-fi or horror. At least, I haven't been able to find him. As for the story's title, I have no idea what it was. I would love to reread that story -- but it's lost. On the off-chance that someone stops by here and can tell me where to find it, here is a summary:

A family is moving into a new home. I have the impression that they are poor and the home is a bit of a wreck, but I can't be sure. The family includes several young children, as I recall, perhaps five ranging in age from 6 to 12.

The story concerns a mirror. I think they find it in the new house but they may have bought it used. The family thinks it's very nice but it seems some fool painted the mirror's surface black. There are layers and layers of paint so the family sets to scraping it off.

They complete this task and as they move away from the mirror, we the readers see the red-eyed, hellish, clawed, long-toothed creatures as they skitter over the edge of the mirror and slip into the room. As the story ends, the ravenous creatures are heading toward the family room to eat the children. The story ends before they get the chance.

I know, I know: it doesn't seem like much. But I remember being terrified by it, perhaps because of the writer's skill or perhaps because I had a fever and was delirious. I can't be sure of anything because it's a lost story. I still think of it at times, and always with longing. I want to read it again!

Have you lost stories, books or treasured writers over the years? Maybe we can help each other find them. Tell us about yours in the comments.

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