Includes two horror stories plus a bonus that was written by Barry Young. In "The Beast of Cherry Town," a task force of policemen and a scientist play a deadly game in bringing down a mutated creature that terrorises their suburbia. In "The Haunted Carousel," Martin Gardner finds himself face to face with a carousel horse who was possessed by a witch from the Salem witch trials.
Excerpt from The Beast of Cherry Town:
Ever since the dispute in the Cold War, scientists conducted experiments that would protect people from a nuclear war. Dr. Freeman, whose laboratory was not three miles away from Cherry Town, was testing his inventions that would repel radiation. In his experiments he had apes, rats, cats, and dogs. All the patients failed to survive a certain zap of radiation…except one.
A pregnant mutt who was named “Ilse” was the only creature that successfully passed the test, but there was a complication. She grew ten times her size and her brain cells were damaged, causing her to be more aggressive. Dr. Freeman tried to contain her, but she broke lose from the lab and retreated towards Cherry Town where she dug out a burrow to have her pups.
Cherry Town was a quiet, safe town that had very little crime. Before Ilse made her home there, the town was still growing. New apartments, condos, factories, and offices were being built. Once the people were satisfied with their glorious town, they decided to invest their taxes on an opera house where they can enjoy local entertainment.
On the construction site, the workers noticed a large hole between the markings of the foundation. At first they set up cones around it for safety precautions, but the director of the site ordered the men to fill the hole. What they didn’t know was that they were digging in the burrow that Ilse created. Meanwhile she was inside nursing her pups. When she heard the dirt falling in, she went to the entrance to see what was going on. The front tunnel collapsed on her and the hole was officially closed.
After the opera house was built, Ilse systematically dug out what was left of her den and eventually reached the floorboards underneath the stage. Her powerful jaws ripped away the weak points, and she peeked above the surface to see what the humans were doing above her home. She accessed the backstage where the singers and actors were rehearsing.
The show went on without knowing Ilse was there, and she made a surprise attack on opera singer James Sawyer. She grabbed his legs and dragged him behind the set where he was brought into the beast’s den. The audience wailed with fear and evacuated the opera house before they could get another glimpse of the creature.
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