“Horror in the Burying-Ground, The“

“Horror in the Burying-Ground, The“
   Short story (5,810 words); ghost written for Hazel Heald, c. 1933 or 1934. First published in WT(May 1937); first collected in Cats;corrected text in HM
   In the rustic town of Stillwater, the village undertaker, Henry Thorndike, has devised a peculiar chemical compound that, when injected into a living person, will simulate death even though the person is alive and conscious. Thorndike attempts to dispose of an enemy, Tom Sprague (of whose sister Sophie he is fond), in this fashion, but in the course of embalming the body he is himself injected with the substance. Although Thorndike, before he lapses into immobility, pleads not to be entombed, he is pronounced dead and buried alive.
   HPL never mentions the story in any extant correspondence, so its date of composition is difficult to specify; but he seems not to have had much to do with Heald after 1934, and this is evidently the last of the tales he ghostwrote for her. Much of the story is narrated in a backwoods patois reminiscent—and perhaps a parody—of that used in “The Dunwich Horror.” The use of the names Akeley (from “The Whisperer in Darkness”), Zenas (from “The Colour out of Space”), At wood (from At the Mountains of Madness), and Goodenough (referring to HPL’s amateur colleague Arthur Goodenough) suggest that the story is meant, if not as an actual parody, at least as an instance of graveyard humor.

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