Read Nebulon Horror Online

Authors: Hugh Cave

Tags: #Horror

Nebulon Horror


Hugh B. Cave



Digital Edition published by Crossroad Press

© 2011 / The estate of Hugh B. Cave

Copy-edited by: Patricia Lee Macomber

Cover Design By:David Dodd

Background Images provided by:


This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.
If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to the vendor of your choice and purchase your own copy.
Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.




Serpents in the Sun

Conquering Kilmarni

The Cross on the Drum

Lucifer's Eye

Buy Direct From Crossroad Press & Save

Try any title from CROSSROAD PRESS – use the Coupon Code FIRSTBOOK for a onetime 20% savings!
We have a wide variety of eBook and Audiobook titles available.


Find us at:


e was touching me! He was grabbing at me! I had to make him stop!"

Her screams dying to a whimper, the hysterical child hid her face in her hands for a moment. But only for a moment. The hands flew apart again. One of them shot out to aim a rigid finger at the man she was accusing. Once more her screaming filled the park.

"He was trying to get his fingers inside me! He tried and tried! So I scratched him and bit him, and I hope he bleeds!"

The accused man stared at her with unbelieving eyes while the crowd of concert-goers began to close in on him, muttering. Only moments before, the same people had been peacefully listening to the final number of a Sunday evening performance by the town's band: a Scott Joplin medley that had most of them nodding to its lively ragtime rhythms.

Now the music was forgotten. The crowd was shocked and hostile.

"I had to do it! I just had to! He was feeling me!"

On the edge of the crowd that filled the parking lot, Keith Wilding abruptly halted on the way to his car. The girl at his side stopped with him, an attractive girl with soft, full lips that frowned now. She let go his hand and turned with him to peer in the direction of the disturbance.

As the child's screams reached them, Melanie Skipworth said in bewilderment, "Keith! Isn't that—?”

"It's Jerri Jansen. Of course it is." He stretched himself to his full height to see over the mass of moving heads. "And my God, Mel! That's
she's accusing! Vin! Here—hold this."

He thrust into her arms the folded-up blanket he was carrying, a blanket they had sat on through the concert for protection against chiggers and other mid-Florida crawlies. "Wait here for me!" he yelled back as he surged forward, forcing people to make way for him even though most of them, too, were intent on reaching the center of the disturbance.

Keith Wilding was not big or especially athletic. At college he had gone in for the social sciences, not football. But the hoarse voice he heard now, crying out denials of the child's charges as the threatening crowd closed in, was that of a man who worked for him. A man who was also a friend. Those in the crowd who failed to get out of his way must have been black and blue in the morning.

He reached the car against which the man stood facing his small accuser. It was an old car because twenty-eight-year-old Vincent Otto did not receive a large salary. The Wilding Nursery didn't bring in money enough yet. The car glistened, though. It ran like a watch, Keith knew. Vin Otto was a hard-working, loyal, decent man who believed in looking after what he owned.

Using hands and elbows, Keith won through to the man's side. The little girl was still pointing, still screaming. "I had to do it to stop him touching me! I'm not sorry! I'm glad I hurt him!"

Glad I hurt him? Where in God's name had little Jerri Jansen found the strength to tear a man's face like that? A wildcat could scarcely have done more damage.

Streaks of crimson extended from Vin Otto's forehead to his chin—parallel grooves, four on each side of his face, from which all the skin and deep tracks of flesh had been gouged away. The face was a red mess. The eyes, miraculously unharmed, gazed at Keith in an agony of shock.

The bloody lips opened and said faintly, "Keith, I did not. I swear I did not. I do not know what she is talking about." Born in New England of European-born parents, Vin Otto spoke an oddly formal kind of English, at least for this rural Florida town where speech was usually as informal as an old shoe.

"Get in the car, Vin." When under pressure, Keith Wilding had a habit of talking softly. Shoving his assistant toward the machine, he suddenly realized that Melanie Skipworth had not waited for him at the crowd's edge but was at his side, determined to help. He expressed his gratitude with a nod and reached for the child.

"Come on, Jerri. I'll take you home."

"He was feeling me! He had his hands under my—"

"All right, but later. Not here. Come." Halting before her, he bent his knees and extended his arms. She hesitated, suspiciously staring at him. Reaching out a little farther, he caught her. Then, pulling her toward him, he wondered at the coolness of what he touched.

Shouldn't a child be perspiring at such a time? She wasn't perspiring. She wasn't even warm.

"Jerri?" he said when she hung back and glowered at him. "You hear, Jerri? I'll take you home to your mother." Then, puzzled even more: "You
me, Jerri Jansen. I'm Keith Wilding. I'm your friend."

"Oh." The child suddenly seemed disoriented, unaware of where she was or what was happening. She looked around, apparently confused by the crowd of people watching her every movement.

"Come." Lifting her, Keith turned to the car and passed her to Melanie, who was on the front seat with the door open, waiting. Vin Otto was in back with his door shut, his body slumped and his bloody face hidden behind his hands.

Coldly indifferent to the crowd, which had become silent now, Keith circled the front of the car and slid in behind the wheel. When he started and raced the engine, people in the path of the machine scrambled out of the way, apparently afraid he might run them down.

He drove out of the parking area slowly, with care. When the crowd was well behind, he slowed the car to a crawl and turned his head. They were still within the park. "You all right, Vin? We can take Jerri home before getting you to the hospital?"

Vin Otto lowered his hands from his mutilated face, and now the hands too were sticky and red. "I do not need the hospital, Keith. Please."

"Doc Broderick, then. You need some professional patching up."

"Very well. Doctor Broderick."

Out of the park, Keith turned onto the smooth blacktop road that led through town. Seven-year-old Jerri lived with her divorced mother, Olive Jansen, in a midtown apartment. To reach Doc Broderick's house he would have to pass there. That answered one problem. "We'll just stop at the apartment and let Mel and Jerri off," he said over his shoulder to the injured man. And to Melanie: "That all right with you, hon?"

"Of course," she said quickly.

Traffic was light. It would increase when the flow of cars from the weekly concert picked up again after the interruption. Keith looked at the girl beside him—the girl he had been going with now for more than two years—and was grateful again for her quiet courage and loyalty. To his surprise, he saw that the child in her lap was asleep. Speaking over his shoulder again, he said, "What happened, Vin?"

"Keith, I do not know. I led her back to the car before the concert ended because the hour was growing late and I wished to escape the crowd coming out. We were only sitting there, listening to the music, and—"

"You touched her, she said. If you did, I know damned well you didn't mean anything by it."

"I did not touch her. I was merely sitting there trying to think where I could find a house for the three of us to live in, because both my place and Olive's are too small." For months Vin Otto had been dating Olive Jansen. Now they were planning to marry. "In my mind," Vin said, "I was driving up and down the roads in the northwest part of town, because I knew I had seen some houses for rent there. Then the music came to an end and I was about to start the car, and all at once without a word of warning Jerri hurled herself upon me like a cat gone crazy."

Patting his torn face with a handkerchief, Vin leaned forward to frown at the child. "And now look at her, please. She sleeps like a baby. Will you tell me what is going on?"

Melanie said, glancing at Keith, "Maybe we should go straight to Doc's, since she's sleeping. What do you think? Shouldn't Doc look at her, too?"

Running a business in a small town had taught Keith more about dealing with people than his sociology courses at college ever had. He vetoed the suggestion with a headshake. "We'd need Olive's okay to do that, hon. She'll be upset enough about this without giving her a reason to be more so." To Vin he said, "How come Olive isn't with you tonight?"

"She said she was tired and had things to do. She—"

"Wait," Melanie said. "Jerri's awake,"

The youngster had opened her eyes and now squirmed to a more comfortable position in Melanie's lap. Seemingly puzzled, she looked at Melanie, then across at Keith behind the wheel. "Hello," she said. "Is the concert over?"

"Don't you know it's over?" Melanie asked.

"Well, I guess . . . No, I don't remember. How am I with you and Mister Wilding? Where's Vin?"

"I am here, baby," the man in back said.

The child turned toward his familiar voice and her blue eyes almost doubled in size. She caught her breath convulsively. "Vin!" At his insistence she had long ago stopped calling him Mr. Otto. "Oh, gosh, Vin—what happened to your face?"

"Somebody—ah—scratched me. You do not remember?"

Still staring at him with what appeared to be genuine horror, Jerri shook her head.

"You do not remember

Other books

Second Time Around by Jaine, Simone
Training the Warrior by Jaylee Davis
The Devil's Chair by Priscilla Masters
Ian Mackenzie Jeffers The Grey by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
Buried Slaughter by Ryan Casey
Bat-Wing by Sax Rohmer
The Prime-Time Crime by Franklin W. Dixon
Three Great Novels by Henry Porter Copyright 2016 - 2024