Weird Tales of The

Skullmask



Revenge is justice

Weird Tales of the Skullmask by Teel James Glenn

Teel James Glenn

(Excerpt)









BooksForABuck.com

October 2009

WEIRD TALES OF THE SKULLMASK:

REVENGE IS JUSTICE

Teel James Glenn

Copyright October 2009 by Teel James Glenn, all rights reserved.

No portion of this novel may be duplicated, transmitted, or stored in any form without the express written permission of the publisher.

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this

copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement,

including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the

FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine

of $250,000.

This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and locations are fictitious or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or people is coincidental



Published by

BooksForABuck.com

ISBN: 978-1-60215-108-6

Down through the corridors of time comes a whisper:

The Skullmask.

A legend, a myth, a nightmare story told around the campfires of an undying avenger who never stops until the guilty are punished and the helpless avenged: Skullmask.

Called by dozens of names across the cultures: Captain Skull, The Skull Rider, Lady Death's Head, The Skull Avenger, The Midnite Skull, The Skull Ace, The Bloody Skull, The Skullman, The Laughing Skull, The Skull Commando. Over two hundred years always the mask appears when the need is great enough. Always a new cause, always a vengeance fulfilled.

A sinister mask that links the minds of all who have worn it in the quest for just vengeance.

The One hero who is many heroes.





Genesis of the Skullmask:

A Journey into the past

My favorite quote to describe the pulp style of writing is from Algys Budrys who boiled it down to "a clear cut solution to a sentimental problem." But I think it can be whittled down even further to that to one word: Passion!

Or perhaps breathtaking. Or exciting.

No pulp writer ever sold a story that bored. Just wouldn't happen--and that is the credo I've tried to follow in scribing the adventures of, what I hope, is the weirdest of the weird heroes to never grace the pulps of old.

The Skullmask.

He has a linage that makes the Medici family line look angelic.

When publisher Harry Stieger visited Paris he saw a performance of the Grand Guignol Theatre, a grisly stage performance that showed dismemberment, murder and other atrocious acts performed with the skill of stage magicians and the sensibilities of De Sade. He decided right then and there that he could sell magazines using the same horror background and when he returned to the states. His brainstorm became the 'shudder pulps'

The so-called weird menace pulps began with the first weird menace title which was Dime Mystery. It started out as a straight crime fiction magazine but in 1933 began the slide to the new sub-genre of the actual horror fiction that was popular in the other magazines decorating the stands. This cul-de-sac of terror's style generally featured stories in which the hero was pitted against evil or sadistic villains, with graphic scenes of torture and brutal murder. It spawned a host of imitations (some from the same company such as Horror Stories, Terror Tales, Spicy Mystery, Thrilling Mystery and a few short-lived single-character pulps that 'dipped into the weird menace pool such as Doctor Death, The Mysterious Wu Fang, Dr. Yen Sin, The Octopus and The Scorpion and the ultimate crossover when The Mysterious Dr. Satan ran in Weird Tales . The "mystery" in the title of many of these magazines was often a misnomer as, these pulps went far a field from the mystery genre normally often with supernatural threats and mad scientist villains.

Meanwhile (as they say), back on the magazine racks, a phenomenon occurred: the Hero Pulp was started by Street and Smith publications. The publisher, W. A. Ralston and Editor John Nanovic, concocted a magazine titled, The Shadow to take advantage of the popularity of a radio narrator who had been reading on air from their magazines.

They had no idea who or what the Shadow was, but they knew just the right guy to write it; a magician/journalist cum pulp writer named Walter Gibson. Under the house name of Maxwell Grant, Gibson created a fascinatingly dark & mysterious crusader who, with his army of aides and agents, fought a constant war against the forces of gangdom.

Imitations of this dark avenger popped up with the Green Lama the most notable on the light side and The Spider on the dark.

And oh boy was the Spider on the dark side. The sheer body count in a Spider story often exceeded the population of some European countries. And the menaces he fought were Vampire Kings, body twisters, plague spreaders--just a really horrible bunch of people and things!

His own look mimicked them. The Spider, aka Richard Wentworth, started out with a conventional domino mask like the Phantom Detective but before his ten year run in the pulps was over had evolved into a white fright wigged, fanged and a hunchbacked figure topped by a long cloak and a slouch hat. He was so scary, in fact that the publisher did not allow the cover artists to actually represent him on the cover in his true guise!

Both the Shadow and the Spider made it to the silver screen in serial from Columbia, though the more successful Shadow had only one while the Spider (in yet a third physical representation) got two whole serials.

The weird menace pulps and the Spider had roughly the same ten year run both gone by late 1943 as the horrors of war turned home front minds toward more cheery images and subjects.

Exploring the pulp 'universe' in the creation of my 'in the light' hero Dr. Shadows, the Granite Man got me thinking about that darker world of these 'weird and shadowed' avengers and sparked me to create the Skullmask, a generational dark hero with a high body count in all the stories. The generation aspect, like the comic strip Phantom, allowed me to tell many different stories in many different eras with my grisly good guy (and gal). Several of the different Skullmasks, in fact, encounter Dr. Shadows at different points in his long career fighting crime.

So welcome to the dark, but hopeful world of the Skullmask;

Enter at you own risk!!

Teel James Glenn

11/24/08





Creed of the Skullmask

I was fashioned from the skin of the first victim I would avenge.

I am the collective experiences of all who have worn me in their quests for just Vengeance.

I am the means to redress wrongs.

My wearer may die but I live on.

I am the path to justice.

My wearer shares my memories which are longer

Than any who live today.

I am a candle of justice in a cathedral of evil.

Snuff me out and a new life will relight me.

My causes are many.

My lives are innumerable

I am the angel of vengeance.

I am the demon of justice.

I am the last and only hope of the hopeless.

I am the Skullmask

Pity those who wear me.

Wear me if you Dare.









The Skullrider of Desolation Flats



Prologue:

"Use the ropes on them bunch quitters, ya lazy greaser, are you blind? Do it or I'll use a rope on yours," Buck Larkin yelled at the outriders on the herd. The big, bullnecked ramrod spit out a chaw of tobacco and cursed under his breath. "Lazy good fer nothing Mexicans." He had a square jaw, a perpetual two-day growth of beard and close set brown eyes beneath heavy brow ridges that always seemed to be scowling.

"Quite needlin' them, Buck," the cowpuncher, who rode along beside Larkin said. "You ride them vaqueros awful hard."

"I need an opinion out of you, Stone, I'll slap it out of you." Larkin was a head shorter than the grey, grim figure that rode beside him but wider across the chest by a half and with arms that all but burst from his flannel shirt. He was known for his ability to bend a horseshoe without much exertion.

"I don't work for you, Buck; I don't have to take your guff." Larkin's companion was a tall, spar man, with a scar along his jaw line that disappeared down the collar of his grey coat. His eyes were flint grey chips that seemed to miss nothing in the space around him. His attitude was grim at best and when Larkin spoke to him his thin lips tightened and his voice lowered.

Larkin snorted a full deep throated laugh full of dark mirth. "I wouldn't hire you no how, so don't loose no sleep over what I do." Larkin spurred his mount and moved ahead to yell at one of the outriders moving the small herd leaving Stone to glare after him with cold grey eyes.

One of the vaqueros who had been near enough to hear the exchange rode up beside the grim rider. "You should not question him, Senor Stone," the Mexican said, " He is moy loco e' capessa." The rider had features that hinted at Indian ancestry and in fact he had Yaqui blood in him.

"Why do you put up with him, Juan?" the gray rider asked. "There are other spreads around here to work for that pay as much as Buck."

The handsome Mexican shrugged his shoulders. "His father was a good man to work for; a fair man. When Senor Buck took over he felt he had to prove himself." The Latin gazed off across the dusty plain toward the foreboding badlands to the north and made a gesture that was half shrug and half a sigh of resignation. "He was always cruel but when he come back from the sea, since his father's stroke he has become muy worse."

"So, why not go?"

"Most of us have families and we have been here so long; it is not a easy thing to change." The two of them rode along by the small herd, the New Mexico dust swirling around them like unasked questions. "And," the Latin continued, "it is not so different with many other Americano, many do not like Mexicans. In some ways he is just more honest."

Stone gave a shallow nod. "Honest is the last word I'd use to describe Buck Larkin." When the vaquero laughed, the gray rider gave him a ghost of a smile then waved a farewell and rode off toward his own spread to the East.

"Stop jawing with no good squatters and get back to work, Juan," Larkin called from a distance ahead. "We gotta get this beef up to the west range by nightfall. It's Saturday night and I got me a bunch of drinking to do tonight."

The Mexican shuddered at the thought. Buck Larkin was a hard man sober but he was a dangerous man drunk.







(ommitted pages)

Hehewuti dreamed.



In her dream the hideous one, Masauwu, came to her. He was in the form of an old man swathed in rags from head to foot. His form was bent and twisted as if with age but his long slender hands were strong and supple, with fingers that ended in overgrown nails. His face was in shadow, which was odd as the day was sunny and bright.

He spoke with the voice of youth. "Daughter of the People," he said. "Why have you called me?"

His voice was the calling of ravens, the roll of thunder in the hills and the sound of fire in the Kiva. Yet it soothed her and in her dream she smiled and held her bloody hands out to him.

"I have been wronged by a white man, " she said. "I seek justice."

The God of Fire laughed like lightening. "Justice or vengeance, Daughter of the People?"

This made her cross to be questioned, even by a god. So she said sharply, "They are one, hideous one. Will you help me or not?"

In answer, the god in human form stepped up to her and in the suddenly blinding sunlight revealed his face to her. It was a skeletal thing that smelled of decay and was a horror to behold. He revealed his jagged teeth in a snarling grin. "Yes, they are," he said. "And because you understand, I will grant your wish." When he had spoken he reached up his delicate hands and tore his face loose from his head. He held it out to her and placed it into her already gory hands.

"If you pay the price justice can be yours." Masauwu began to fade away as he spoke, his voice like wind in the distance. "But you must pay in full."

"I will pay," she said spitting the words out like a curse. "As long as he will pay!"

Masauwu laughed then, like the cry of a coyote. For a moment she thought that perhaps the trickster had come to her in disguise but the feel of the dismembered face in her hands was warm and when she held it up to look closely she could see her own image on the writhing shape of it. Then she knew it was true; her vengeance would be just.

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