12

Mid 1980’s I read a SF short story in class and need help identifying it. I could be wrong, but as I recall, the title was merely a year (2064 A.D., 2154 A.D., or similar). If memory serves me correct, it was set in that year. A handful of tourists signed up for a tour of a house/castle. One by one, they were being killed off by various means described in stories by Edgar Allan Poe (and replaced with duplicates, I believe). However, I do believe the tour group may have been unsuspecting because (in a possible nod to Bradbury’s F451), books had long been banned/abandoned/destroyed and consequently they were unfamiliar with Poe’s works. In the end, I believe the “guide” flew off in a helicopter with the duplicates/replacements and the house/castle crumbled. I could have muffed it all up, but does any of this ring a bell with any one? Any help would be appreciated! - BkR

0
13

That's "Usher II" aka "April 2005: Usher II" aka "Carnival of Madness", a short story by Ray Bradbury in his Martian Chronicles series. It was first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1950, available at the Internet Archive. Does any of these covers ring a bell? (Those aren't all the covers under which this story has appeared, just the ones where the title is given as "April 2005: Usher II".)

An excerpt:

And for the third time, a scream.

"What now?" said Garrett apprehensively.

"It's my turn," said Miss Drummond. "Look."

And a second Miss Drummond, shrieking, was nailed into a coffin and thrust into the raw earth under the floor.

"Why, I remember that," gasped the Investigator of Moral Climates. "From the old forbidden books. The Premature Burial. And the others. The Pit, the Pendulum, and the ape, the chimney, the Murders in the Rue Morgue. In a book I burned, yes!"

The ending:

"I want this to be perfect," said Stendahl, holding his lantern up so its light penetrated in upon the slumped figure. "Jingle your bells softly." The bells rustled. "Now, if you'll please say, 'For the love of God, Montresor,' I might let you free."

The man's face came up in the light. There was a hesitation. Then grotesquely the man said, "For the love of God, Montresor."

"Ah," said Stendahl, eyes closed. He shoved the last brick into place and mortared it tight. Requiescat in pace, dear friend."

He hastened from the catacomb.

In the seven rooms the sound of a midnight clock brought everything to a halt.

The Red Death appeared.

Stendahl turned for a moment at the door to watch. And then he ran out of the great House, across the moat, to where a helicopter waited.

"Ready, Pikes?"

"Ready."

"There it goes!"

They looked at the great House, smiling. It began to crack down the middle, as with an earthquake, and as Stendahl watched the magnificent sight he heard Pikes reciting behind him in a low, cadenced voice:

"'. . . my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder—there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters—and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the House of Usher.'"

The helicopter rose over the steaming lake and flew into the west.

1
  • Yes, user14111, that’s it! Thank you. Prior to seeing your response, a friend FROM back in high school had identified it for me, but I so appreciate you taking time to review my question and answer it. THANK you, and happy reading - may imagination take your mind where body can never go! – streborkb Dec 2 '18 at 20:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.