Black Man with a Horn

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Black Man with a Horn, by T. E. D. Klein, is a Cthulhu Mythos novella originally published in New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Critic S. T. Joshi notes that the story demonstrates a 'deftness of style, a subtlety in the build-up of a horrific climax, and a deep understanding of the psychological effects of horror.'[1]

Plot[edit]

In the story, an author — whose literary career has been in the shadow of H. P. Lovecraft and modeled after Lovecraft Circle member Frank Belknap Long[1] - becomes involved in a mystery after a chance encounter with a missionary named Mortimer while traveling on an airplane. The missionary, traveling in disguise, is fleeing something he encountered while in Malaysia, and refers to the Chaucha.

Later, while visiting a museum, the author comes across a reference to the Chaucha. The narrator realizes that the Chaucha are actually the Tcho-Tcho, which he had previously thought to be fictional construct of Lovecraft. Slowly, the narrator becomes threatened by a being (possibly an avatar of Nyarlathotep) the Tcho-Tcho worship: a black, fishlike humanoid demon called the Shugoran (roughly "Questing Man") with an appendage that resembles a horn attached to its face.

There are implications that the Tcho-Tcho have a practise of growing something within human bodies, a practice which results in the narrator's brush with a Malaysian on the airplane leaving a treacly smell on his clothing. Later, in a museum, the narrator that narrator smells the same treacly smell and is told that it is molasses - a pure culture used to grow things.

The narrator's attempts to track down what has happened to Mortimer after Mortimer goes missing after a hurricane prove fruitless.

The story ends with his frightened next door neighbour having seen a black face at her window, something like a man wearing a gas mask or snorkel. The narrator wonders how long it will be until the thing comes for him.

The tale includes elements of what appears to be racism on the part of the narrator - he confesses to being afraid of black people, or "blacks" as he refers to them. However, this is in keeping with the character, who is over 70 years old and comes from a time in which such views were more commonly held.

Publication history[edit]

  • New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Arkham House, 1980
  • Dark Gods
  • Cthulhu 2000: A Lovecraftian Anthology Arkham House, 1995
  • The Book of Cthulhu Night Shade Books, 2011
  1. ^ a b Icons of Horror and the Supernatural editor S. T. Joshi, Greenwood Press, 2006. p. 123