Hell Hath Fury [The Unknown Worlds of Cleve Cartmill #1]
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by Cleve Cartmill
Category: Dark Fantasy/Horror
Description: Classic of Devil's Son Rebelling Against His Father! The legendary Unknown Worlds is considered the best and most literate of the fantasy pulps of the 1940s. The magazine's roster of authors included Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, Jane Rice, Robert A. Heinlein, Alfred Bester, Theodore Sturgeon, L. Sprague de Camp, A. E. Van Vogt, Raymond Chandler, and other masters of the genre. Yet author Cleve Cartmill, almost forgotten today, was considered the leading light of Unknown's stable. In part, this is because one controversial science fiction story "Deadline" (in "Deadline and Other Controversial SF Classics" from Renaissance E Books) came to, in the words of multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Robert Silverberg, "overshadow such nicely done fantasy novellas as A Bit of Tapestry (1941) and Hell Hath Fury (1943)." In Hell Hath Fury, it's the Devil who is scorned--by his own son by a human bride. Like all fathers, Lucifer has plans for his son, which include setting up the kingdom of hell on earth. But with both human and devil in him, Satan's offspring has a mind of his own and is determined to have things his own way, even if it means a doomed rebellion against the awesome might of his satanic father. It's a clear case of like father like son. Also included are two other chilling Cartmill classics from the pages of Unknown, 1941's "Oscar" and 1942's "The Bargain." Rarely reprinted, the electronic publication of these three unique works of dark fantasy by Cleve Cartmill is a major genre event.
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/Pageturner, 2005
eBookwise Release Date: August 2005
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [193 KB]
Reading time: 127-178 min.
The switchboard operator thought her eyes were tired; that was as near as she came to the truth. When she looked into the hospital waiting room at the father of the forthcoming child, he seemed faintly out of focus. And so did the old lecher who followed the father with amused yellow eyes. Therefore, her eyes must be tired.
The father acted like any father in a hospital waiting room. He sat down. He looked at his watch. He got up. He walked. He sat down. He looked at his watch.
Handsome devil, she thought, with his thin face, his floppy gray hat, his pin-stripe serge, his ... his eyes. That's all they were, eyes. You look close and see it, as soon as you get him in focus. Handsome devil. Quiet, but with fire underneath. It would be wonderful to be loved the way he obviously loved his wife.
It would be wonderful to be loved. Period.
Not by the old goat, though, who yawned on the divan and shot an occasional leer across the counter at her.
She rubbed her eyes. Women, she thought wearily, keeping hospitals up all night, wearing out the help. She'd never had trouble with her eyes, but what with no sleep, routing doctors out of bed, soothing hysterical fathers, running down to Delivery to get the news, it was no wonder--
A light flashed on the board. Delivery. She plugged in, listened, then hurried down the corridor and through the swinging doors. She came back, and she had that old feeling.
She went to the counter between her office and the waiting room, wishing that it was her baby she was reporting on.
"You have a boy, Mr. Roberts," she said mistily. "My congratulations."
He turned with the grace of a healthy cat. "How is he?" he snapped.
The operator misunderstood. "Oh, she's fine. You can see her in a few minutes."
"The child!" he said harshly. "Is he all right?"
"You fathers," she chided. "Listen for yourself."
Thin, indignant wails penetrated the hospital walls, rising to a high pitch of anger.
The father's face relaxed. It didn't exactly soften, but it shone with dark joy. The operator went back to her board, and the father turned to the old lecher on the divan.
"Chief! He has human form!"
A shaggy white eyebrow widened the distance between itself and the stiff white beard. "Human form," the Chief mused. "What did you expect--butterflies?"
"Think what it means, Chief! He'll influence thousands."
"I suppose he will," the Chief said. "It should be entertaining to watch."
"And if he turns out right," the father persisted eagerly, "we can do it again, and again, and again."
The Chief sort of flowed to his feet. "You have my permission to experiment all you like. Not that it matters. Let me caution you against expecting too much. One's children are never exactly like one's self. I am living proof. But go ahead. It's interesting work." He started away, smoothly, effortlessly, paused and smiled again. "Fun, too," he added.
His eye touched the telephone operator, became speculative. He went to the counter and twinkled at her. She approached expectantly.
"Breakfast?" he suggested.
She almost agreed. There was something compelling about the old goat, and he was distinguished, kind of. But she hesitated. There was something repelling, too.
He seemed to reconsider. "Never mind." He patted her cheek, and her skin crawled--voluptuously. "You've probably got a mother or a mortgage." He moved away. "Or both," he added pleasantly, and was gone.
The operator stared after him dreamily. He was a funny one. He had a wolfish smile and insulting speech, but these probably covered a butter heart. You couldn't get angry at him. She wondered if she'd ever see him again.
With a light shock, she saw that the waiting room was empty. Now how had Mr. Roberts managed to leave without her seeing him? Oh, well. He'd probably just stepped out for a breath of fresh air. New fathers needed it, sometimes.
The father went up through pre-dawn blackness away from the hospital to a place of his own making. There Jim Roberts waited, unknowing of events, unconscious of time, of anything.
The father spoke the necessary words and transferred into Jim Roberts' mind a complete memory pattern. Then he placed Jim Roberts outside the hospital door, where Jim drew in great gasps of air and exulted over the fact that he had a son. He recast in his mind the hours of jittery waiting, the telephoning from his job, the rushing out here.
A son. His and Lucille's. How was she, anyway?
He went inside the waiting room. "When can I see my wife?" he asked the operator.
She smiled at him. He certainly was a handsome devil. The thin face, the pin-stripe serge, the floppy hat. He eyes seemed to be all right now, too. He was sharply in focus.
"You can go up to the second floor, Mr. Roberts. But she won't know you for a while. She's still under the anesthetic."