I have a recollection of reading this particular horror story as a young teen (circa 1993?), but cannot now find it. It was written in a style reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s. (I have browsed the latter’s tales to no avail, however.) Here follows the story as I remember it. Thanks in advance to anyone who can point me in the right direction.

(The setting might be the 19th century.) A man travels (possibly to India or South America) to meet a friend (probably an archaeologist or explorer) who wrote to ask him to come since he has fallen terribly ill. There, the main character finds his friend uncooperative and secretive. The sick man’s health fluctuates, and his bouts of illness correlate with large lumps appearing on his skin.

One night, the puzzled protagonist decides to spy on his friend, and sees him cutting open one of his cysts with a knife. An imp-like creature emerges from the wound and addresses the feverish man. I do not remember its exact words; they seemed to imply that the infected fellow had a duty to perform should he wish to be rid of this curse. It left me with the general impression that he had to return an artifact or restore something to its earlier condition, but that this task was impossible, dooming him to a (hopefully short) life of torment borne of his own flesh.

I believe the story ends at this point, or maybe shortly afterwards as the onlooking character reels in horror and flees.


1 Answer 1


This is Lukundoo, by Edward Lucas White

An explorer is cursed with small people that grow out of boils on his skin

Then we three sat about Stone and watched that hideous, gibbering prodigy grow up out of Stone's flesh, till two horrid, spindling little black arms disengaged themselves. The infinitesimal nails were perfect to the barely perceptible moon at the quick, the pink spot on the palm was horridly natural. These arms gesticulated and the right plucked toward Stone's blond beard.

He was cursed for some unknown reason:

"Has she forgiven me?" Stone asked in a muffled strangle. "Not while the moss hangs from the cypresses," the head squeaked. "Not while the stars shine on Lake Pontchartrain will she forgive."

In many anthologies.


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