Tuesday, August 11, 2015
The Shrieking Pool (G.T. Fleming-Roberts, MYSTERY NOVEL MAGAZINE, February 1936)
Corrin is summoned to the isolated Jordan Scientific Institute on the shores of Black Pool, an inky-watered lake in the middle of nowhere. It seems the lake has become a source of horror; people are just disappearing into it, and all signs point to the lake being the home of a relic dinosaur, a "Brontozoum." Corrin is almost ready to believe in the existence of the Brontozoum, especially once he observes it attack two people in a small boat.
His opinion is swung, however, in the direction of human agency once he learns who those two people are and overhears a snippet of their conversation. She's the wife of one of the scientists, but the guy she was talking sweet nothings with in the boat was not her husband. Corrin believes this is the key to resolving the mystery of Black Pool.
Of course, being a "Weird Menace" tale, it's entirely a case of human agency at play here, with a full on Scooby Doo reveal, with the "Brontozoum" being revealed to be a giant pair of fake three-toed feet and a "tail" composed of a giant sandbag. Interestingly, a real-world parallel to this (though one with far fewer deaths) did occur a few years later, when trackways of giant three-toed prints began appearing on Florida beaches in 1948. Cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson theorized that the prints were made by a 15' tall prehistoric penguin; in the 1980s, it was eventually revealed that the tracks were the creation of a local prankster, who wore a big pair of cast-iron monster feet to leave the tracks.
Overall the story was kind of dull, and relied way too heavily on an entire organization of scientists being a bunch of gullible idiots, but as a big fan of surviving dinosaur stories, it had its charm for me.