“Horror in the Museum, The“

   Short story (11,440 words); ghostwritten for Hazel Heald, probably in October 1932. First published in WT (July 1933); first collected in BWS;corrected text in HM
   The curator of a waxworks museum in London, George Rogers, claims to have captured the deity Rhan-Tegoth on an expedition to Alaska. Rogers shows his skeptical friend Stephen Jones a photograph of the entity, and then shows him the corpse of a dog that has been sucked dry of blood, with puncture wounds all over its body; he claims that he had fed the dog to Rhan-Tegoth, who is kept locked in a crate in the basement of the museum. Irked by Jones’s disbelief of his tale, Rogers challenges Jones to spend the night alone in the museum. Jones agrees, and in the course of the night he seems to hear curious noises in the basement; but it proves to be Rogers himself, who appears to have gone mad and wishes to sacrifice Jones to his deity. Jones manages to overpower Rogers and tie him up; but then both of them hear another noise, and Jones is horrified to see “a black paw ending in a crab-like claw….crab-lik1PHe flees. Coming back a week later, he sees what appears to be a wax statue of Rogers, drained of blood and with numerous puncture wounds on his body; his horror is augmented by noting a scratch on Rogers’s cheek—one that had been made during their tussle.
   HPL says of the story: “My latest revisory job comes so near to pure fictional ghost-writing that I am up against all the plot-devising problems of my bygone auctorial days” (HPL to E.Hoffmann Price, October 20, 1932; ms., JHL). Elsewhere HPL says: “‘The Horror in the Museum’—a piece which I ‘ghost-wrote’ for a client from a synopsis so poor that I well-nigh discarded it—is virtually my own work” ( SL4.229). One would like to think the story a self-parody of HPL’s own mythos: the description of Rhan-Tegoth brings Cthulhu to mind, but in this case we have not merely a representation of Cthulhu but the actual god himself, trapped in the basement of a museum. The sight of the “black paw” is reminiscent of the conclusion of “Under the Pyramids.”

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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