Authors: Robert Bloch
Tags: #Horror, #Mystery
Robert Bloch, the creator of
takes you into the inner recesses of the mind of a madman.
A man bent on revenge that comes out of the night, grabbing its victims by the throat and giving no quarter.
From the moment Karen Raymond entered the sanitarium, she knew something was terribly wrong. The doctors had been brutally murdered, the patients had escaped.
Was she to be the killer’s next victim?
The phone rang.
“Miss Anderson? This is Lieutenant Barringer, Los Angeles Police Department.”
It was hard to hear him over the T.V. The Lieutenant was saying something about bodies. “How many other patients were staying at the sanatorium?”
“Five.” There was no draft, but Dorothy was shivering.
“Can you give me their names, please?”
“Yes.” Now she could feel a hint of an air current. Dorothy started to scream . . .
In a moment there were four things open in the apartment. The bathroom window. The door of the closet. The kitchen drawer where the butcher knife was kept. And the jugular vein in Dorothy’s throat.
The T.V. in the living room promised that tomorrow would be fair and warmer.
Look for these Tor books
by Robert Bloch
THE NIGHT OF THE RIPPER
Copyright © 1972 by Robert Bloch
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
First Tor printing: December 1986
A TOR Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, Inc.
49 West 24 Street
New York, N.Y. 10010
Cover art by Joe DeVito
Printed in the United States of America
This book is for
who will probably
never read it.
he sun was dying in the west and its blood stained the sky.
I could have been a poet,
But that would have been a waste, a great waste of his talent. A writer’s life is short—limited to the life of the paper on which his words are inscribed, and the memory-span of his readers. Paper is brittle and soon crumbles to dust, and the worms eat memories.
Who eats the worms?
Time. Time is the enemy. Time eats the worms, time eats the paper, time eats the sun. Time was eating him, bit by bit, piece by piece, day by day.
Time gnawed at him by night, here in this miserable little room. They called it a room, but of course it was really a cell. A cell with wire-mesh windows through which a dying man could watch the dying sun.
They told him he was here for his own good, and the locked door was a protection against the other patients. But it couldn’t protect him against time. Gnawing away, night after night, so that he couldn’t sleep. And it couldn’t protect him against his protectors. They had a key.
Any hour of the day or night they could come and get him—take what remained after time finished feasting. Draining his blood. For tests, they told him. Did they really expect him to believe that? He recognized them for what they were, these creatures seeking his life’s blood for their own existence. They had cast aside their cloaks for robes of white, and they drew their nourishment with needles rather than with pointed teeth, but they were vampires.
Worse than vampires. For they were feeding on his brain too.
Electroconvulsive therapy. The scientific term for shock treatment which is the polite euphemism for strapping you down and shooting electricity into your brain to eat away your mind. They took his body and put it in a cell, they took his blood and put it in a test tube—now they wanted to take his brain and put it in a machine.
But they failed. He could still remember the past. And he could still plan for the future. Night after sleepless night here in his room, he planned.
It was perfection, his plan, it was sheer poetry, yet he wouldn’t write it down.
Instructions for the Blind—Please Read Carefully.
They must not see his plan, must not suspect. He had it all hidden away in a secret place. The darkest place in the world is the inside of a human skull.
Everything is safe inside your skull. Because it’s protected by a mask called a face, and the face responds the way they want it to respond. It smiles at jokes, sobers at the sight of unpleasantness, assumes a properly respectful look in the presence of authority. And the face has a mouth, and the mouth says what the doctor wants it to say. It doesn’t even whisper about the plan.
Yes, Doctor, I think I’m much better. I’m beginning to feel like my old self again.
Nobody wants you to really tell it like it is. They want you to tell it like they think it
be. A model patient: quiet, cooperative, showing distinct signs of improvement. The mouth knows how to make it sound that way.
And by so doing, it helps with the plan. Doctor doesn’t know. Nurse doesn’t suspect. Orderly hasn’t a clue. As long as the face is calm and the mouth says the right words, nobody realizes the truth. That the mouth is just part of a mask, and behind the mask there is a skull and inside the skull is . . .
Inside the skull is everything. Turn it upside down—dump out the contents the way you empty a barracks bag, a woman’s purse. What do you find? Something for everyone.
My horoscope tells me not to believe in astrology.
Ornithology is for the birds.
Pornography makes strange bedfellows.
Actions speak louder than four-letter words.
He knew what the doctor would say. He’d said it so often during their sessions. “You’re using words as a shield. Obfuscation is a defense mechanism. You talk to avoid saying anything.”
What did he expect?
Suppose he told the doctor he’d been thinking about Jimmy Savo. Doctor probably wouldn’t even remember the name.
Jimmy Savo. A stage comic of the past. Little man, did pantomimes which reminded critics of Chaplin. Like the one he did in a picture that turned up on the late TV. Jimmy Savo, doing his famous routine to the old song, “River, Stay ’Way From My Door.”
You’d have to explain that to the doctor. And then you’d have to explain why Jimmy Savo reminds you of the famous mass murderers of history.
famous, of course. People who couldn’t possibly tell you who was President of France fifty years ago can still recognize the name of Landru. Who remembers that Gilles de Retz rode with Joan of Arc—but who forgets that he was Bluebeard? People are still guessing at the identity of the Cleveland Torso Slayer. And it wasn’t too long ago that the papers made a big thing over the theory that Jack the Ripper was really a member of the British nobility.
He was, of course. In a world of victims, the killers are the true aristocracy. That’s the one lesson of history: the real hero deals in death. The lion is King of Beasts, not the lamb. And to you, Jimmy Savo sang a different song. “Ripper, Stay ’Way From My Whore.”
You can’t tell this to the doctor. Not to him, that dedicated healer, that self-professed lover of humanity! We’re all lovers of humanity, of course, each and every one of us. But what most of us forget is that each man kills the thing he loves. The coward does it by dropping a bomb from a plane five miles in the air—the brave man uses a knife, five inches from his prey.
Now hear this, Doctor. And hear this, all you kings, emperors, presidents, admirals, generals, commanders-in-chief. Listen to the words unspoken:
“I shall not kill because you order me to kill; because you issue me a uniform, a weapon and a command. That is fraud.
“I shall not kill because of something that happened between me and my mother, father, sister, brother, wife. That is Freud, and he is a fraud, too.
“I shall kill because I am a brave man. And a brave man is true to his nature.
“It is the nature of man to be free, to resent confinement. It is the nature of man to oppose hypocrisy and injustice. I shall kill in the name of all mankind—all mankind confined hypocritically and unjustly in asylums, prisons, hospitals, rest homes. I shall kill in the name of those who have been punished for their courage in openly defying society. In the name of those who are labeled misfit and unfit. In the name of the bastard buried away in an orphanage and the millions dying neglected and forgotten, institutionalized merely because they have committed the crime of growing old.
“I believe in the principles of democracy. One man, one vote. And mine is a vote of protest—a vote that will register and be remembered. Mass murderers are famous.
“Big talk? But I haven’t said a word, not to anyone. Even those who will aid me in my plan do not remotely realize my purpose or the full meaning of the part they will play in executing it.”
Executing. That’s the word . . .
That was the word.
And now, with the night falling, it would become a deed.
He stared at the dying sun and thought of what else would be dying soon.
fter lunch Karen went back to the office.
She blinked her way through the smog-shrouded streets without conscious protest; it was always smoggy in downtown Los Angeles, or almost always. On a clear day you can see your eye doctor.
Karen’s office was in a high-rise owned by a savings and loan firm. There seemed to be thousands of such new buildings springing up all over the city in the past few years, and if they were laid end to end it would merely be the expected consequence of another earthquake.
Karen accepted the possibility as she accepted the smog; it really wasn’t her worry. And it really wasn’t Karen’s office she was going to. The name on the door of the tenth-floor suite was Sutherland Advertising Agency, Inc.
She opened the door and moved through the reception room, nodding at Peggy behind the glass partition. Like all such receptionists, Peggy had been chosen for her display value as a beautiful birdbrain. Peasant under glass.