The Thing in the Moonlight
The Thing in the Moonlight is a short story by J. Chapman Miske, based on a letter from H. P. Lovecraft to Donald Wandrei, dated November 24, 1927. This letter describes a dream that Lovecraft had. The story was prepared for publication by Miske, who filled in the story surrounding the description of the dream. In places, the letter and published story are identical, word-for-word. It was first published in Bizarre magazine in January 1941.
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The main character in "The Thing in the Moonlight" is Morgan, an illiterate man. He is described very briefly, by the narrator (who is never named in the story): "Morgan is not a literary man; in fact he cannot speak English with any degree of coherency." One evening, Morgan was sitting alone and suddenly feels compelled to start writing (despite being illiterate) and records the dream of another man, Howard Phillips. Phillips gives his address as 66 College Street in Providence, Rhode Island. He says that he fell asleep on November 24, 1927 and has not been able to wake up since.
The dream takes place in a strange land, and Phillips explores the land for a while before encountering railway tracks. On the tracks he finds "a yellow, vestibuled car numbered 1852--of a plain, double-trucked type common from 1900 to 1910." This car is ready to start and he climbs aboard, investigating it and searching for a lightswitch so that he can see better. He hears a noise behind him, and after turning to look, sees two men coming towards him (he assumes them to be the motorman and the conductor). The first man lifts his head to the sky, sniffs, and howls, while the second drops to all fours and runs toward the car and Phillips. Phillips immediately runs out of the car, continuing to flee until he is too tired to run any farther.
Phillips reveals that the reason for his terror was not "because the conductor had dropped on all fours, but because the face of the motorman was a mere white cone tapering to one blood-red-tentacle..."
Phillips is aware that it is a dream, but is unable to wake up. During the day, he travels the strange land, and each night, is brought back to the place with the train car. He always alerts the howling beast to his presence, and always flees from it.
The narrator closes by saying that he would visit 66 College Street in Providence, but fears what he might find.
n.b. history obtained at "hplovecraft.com"
- "The Thing in the Moonlight" was first published in Bizarre magazine in January 1941.
In 1962, it was published in DREAMS AND FANCIES (Arkham House 1962).
- In 1970, it was published in The Tomb and Other Tales by Ballantine Books.
- In 1995, it was published again in Dreams of Terror and Death: The Dream Cycle of H. P. Lovecraft by Ballantine Books.
- In 2005, it was published again in Shadows of Death by Del Rey Books.