THE FEAR MASTER

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Chapter 15: OUT OF THE DARKNESS

“Order!” cried the jackal in the judge’s robes, slamming down the bloody fist of the severed forearm he used as a gavel.

“Order!” cried the jury of geeks.

“Debbie Dawe, how do you plead?”

“Not guilty, Your Unholiness!”

Lead prosecutor Betty Quinn presented a parade of colourful witnesses – Lizzie Borden, John Reginald Halliday Christie, John Wayne Gacy and Gary Gilmore – to testify against Debbie. Then she trotted out her surprise witness – Stevie.

“No!” cried Debbie, jumping up. Her fly-faced barrister restrained her.

“Did you see the accused on the night in question conspiring with the enemy?” asked Betty with obvious delight.

“Yes,” said Stevie. “She was dancing in the graveyard. She is a witch.”

“No!” cried Debbie.

“Witch!” chanted the jury. “Witch! Witch! Witch!”

“Please …” Debbie swooned.

“Stone her!” cried the judge.

Debbie moaned and writhed as she was hit from all sides.

Betty danced arm-in-arm with Stevie as a handsome face appeared in the crowd. Smiling, the you man made his way toward Debbie, who sighed.

“Debbie, Debbie, what am I going to do with you? You’re always in the middle of some kind of drama.”

“Tony?”

“That’s right, honey – Toto is here.” Tony Linseed put his arm around Debbie’s dimpled shoulders and leaned down to kiss her---

As the jury broke off each other’s limbs and began to pummel Debbie with them, pushing Tony away as flesh pounded and blood rained down, the jackal-judge tore off his mask to reveal the laughing face of The Fear Master – Sean Dawe, Debbie’s father – red glass eyes rolling back in his pasty face as jurors snaked on their bellies toward Debbie and started, as if with one great mouth, to devour her.

“No!” Debbie screamed, sitting bolt upright in bed – and, seeing the pale face staring at her out of the darkness, screamed again – at her reflection in the moonlit mirror, on which had been scrawled inside a big red heart: DD LOVES TFM. Underneath had been written in the same straight-up-and-down lettering: WHY FIGHT IT?


Notes on Jekyll & Hyde from TFM’s Journal

Robert Louis Stevenson – Scottish – born 13 November, 1850.

Enrolled in school, but illness often kept him out. Like young Mary Godwin, taught by private tutors. A late reader, but dictated stories that his mother and nurse took down, and later wrote compulsively. (A storyteller before he was a writer.) Would become one of the most translated authors of all time, his titles including The Black Arrow and Kidnapped.

In early adulthood, cultivating a certain strangeness in both looks and manner, he became a long-haired bohemian, decked out in velveteen, a frequenter of pubs and brothels, and renounced Christianity. A recognisable personality!

1881 – wrote to a friend that he was working on The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island: a Story for Boys.

1883 – published Treasure Island.

1886 – published The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, slightly predating Freud’s exploration of the unconscious through free association.

Legend has it he whipped off the first draft in three days, showed it to his wife, who was horrified, then burnt the manuscript. Realising what he had done, he sat down and wrote it again! So the version we have is the second, not the first – though it’s hard to believe it could have been any better.

Published before The Interpretation of Dreams. Two sides of the personality battle for supremacy. Good/evil. Id/ego. Intellect/instinct. If humans are all these things, which side will win? Can either win? Or must they always remain in conflict?

Forerunner of Norman Bates.

J&H filmed several times, including John Barrymore’s silent 1920 version in which he made the transition without make-up. Some adaptations acknowledged the original story, some did not, including The Haunted Strangler, a comedy with Abbott & Costello, and Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde. Scariest one was with Fredric March who played Hyde as a troglodyte. Won the Academy Award in 1932, tying with Wallace Beery. (There wouldn’t be another tie in the acting honours for thirty-seven years, when Best Actress went to both Hepburn and Streisand, neither of whom played a troglodyte.)

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