|The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult|
DARKER THAN YOU THINK
This story by Jack Williamson has a truly original plot. It is based on the theory that all of us have a small (or occasionally quite large) percentage of evil in us, owing to blood we have inherited from that far distant past when it is said that ‘the Sons of God (Dark Angels in this case) went into the Daughters of Men’.
It starts with Will Barbee, a journalist in the American town of Clarendon, at the local airport. He is on an assignment to report the homecoming of a famous American archaeologist, Dr. Zamark Mondrick, who is returning from two years’ work in a desolate part of Mongolia.
A few years earlier Barbee had been one of Dr. Mondrick’s most promising students: but when the Doctor made up his team to accompany him to Mongolia, without explanation he excluded Barbee and took three of his contemporaries. Later the reason why the doctor would not take Barbee emerges. He sensed that the young man, although ignorant of it himself, had inherited from both his parents blood that contained a dangerously high proportion of this prehistoric evil.
While waiting on the airfield an exceptionally lovely girl, April Bell, introduces herself to Will Barbee as a cub reporter on her first assignment for a rival paper. He is so strongly attracted to her that, against his better judgement, he gives her useful material for writing her article. She is carrying a large open snakeskin bag, in which there is a small black kitten and a beautifully carved white jade wolf on a gold pin.
The aircraft arrives but there is considerable delay in its passengers disembarking because Dr. Mondrick wishes to make an announcement of worldwide importance.
While the press and television men are assembling, the doctor’s companions bring out from the plane a large box which they will allow no one to approach. He then begins his announcement, but is obviously extremely ill and, before revealing his great secret, falls dead.
Later Barbee discovers April’s black kitten dead in an ash can with her wolf-headed pin through its heart.
Much puzzled he takes her out to dinner and she tells him of her past. She was illegitimate and her step-father used to beat her unmercifully. Then she gradually discovered that she had occult powers, and used them as a witch to revenge herself on him.
Barbee is so fascinated by her big green eyes, wonderful head of flaming red hair and alluring body that he cannot believe evil of her, and they continue to meet.
A night comes when in his sleep he hears April calling him; he suffers a few minutes’ physical anguish then tumbles out of bed to find that he has become a big grey wolf. At once he sets off to join her and sees that she is now in the form of a beautiful white wolf. He feels a new freedom through his physical change and derives great pleasure from racing through the deserted streets beside her. The author’s description of Barbee’s reactions as an animal to smells that a human would hardly notice is most skilfully conveyed, and April succeeds in temporarily convincing him that he is one of her own kind – a race of super-humans with powers that will enable them to dominate the world.
But they have enemies who must be destroyed: the three young men who accompanied Dr. Mondrick to Mongolia, who are in a desperate state of nerves guarding the mysterious box they brought back; and Dr. Mondrick’s blind widow. All four of them know too much; yet they are Barbee’s dearest friends.
He is terribly reluctant to harm them. Even so, he becomes more and more enslaved by the lovely witch and delights in those nights when, free from all care, he can rove the countryside with her. Terrible deeds ensue. This is a fast-moving, well-written story and has a most surprising ending.