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I am trying to identify a horror short story/novella I've read in a vampire-themed Italian anthology in the mid 2000s. The story was probably much older and written by a British or American author, but I don't have a precise time frame.

The basic premise was that a nobleman (or a member of middle/high societal class) invited his peers to his mansion, only to show them that there is a huge, dark cave habitat right under it, which he decides to explore and use as a hunting ground. The setting was around the beginning of 1900, or so I seem to remember.

I recall the nobleman in question dying alone, at the hand of a pitch-black monster inhabiting the cave and his story being passed on to his peers through an audio record that was somehow retrieved in the cave by someone (his aide?). There is also a chance his demise was broadcast through an open radio channel instead, but I am not sure if this is the case.

While in the cave, the characters were wearing some sort of rebreathers and some survival equipment, including firearms - if my mind isn't mixing details from another story

I have queried Google with prompts such as horror story hunting ground cave under mansion -movie -game and horror story large cave under mansion -movie -game, to no avail.

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    Makes me think of MP: "If he was dying he wouldn't bother to carve "A-a-a-argh." He'd just say it."
    – DavidW
    Jun 7, 2023 at 14:03
  • That made me laugh a little :') thanks to your comment, I edited the question to specify the guy leaves behind an audio record of sorts. Or... wait, ugh, this refreshed my memory a little. It might have been a direct radio feed? Gotta edit it once again. I wish my memories were firmer. Jun 7, 2023 at 14:09
  • There's a Lovecraft story with a man dying alone in caves under a mansion, but the rest of it (invitation to others, audio record, rebreathers) isn't there, so that's not it.
    – nebogipfel
    Jun 7, 2023 at 14:17
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    It is possible the op is a combined memory of 2 Lovecraft stories. "The statement of Randolph Carter" has a portable telephone communication from a doomed man underground, while "The Rats in the Walls" has a mansion built above vast caverns which were at one time filled with deadly beings. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Statement_of_Randolph_Carter en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rats_in_the_Walls Jun 7, 2023 at 17:09
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    @M.A.Golding I am reasonably sure it has nothing to do with Lovecraft. I agree that memory is a fickle support, but out of due diligence, I have checked my full collection of Lovecraft stories at home, but no match. I am completely confident about the underground habitat in the giant cave and the hunt, though. Jun 7, 2023 at 18:53

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I have found the story I was looking for: Cavern of Horrors (IT: Nell'Abisso dei Vampiri), by Laurence Manning (1934), a part of his Stranger Club cycle.

In the story, one of the club members, Smithers, invites his peers from the club to a hunting campaign under his villa in Long Island. He gives them rifles with explosive projectiles and a medicine to survive underground (no rebreathers, I got that part wrong).

During a second exploration, Smithers goes down alone (this time with oxygen and diving equipment, so here's where the rebreather memory came from) and keeps a phone contact with the other club members, describing his exploration, until the signal is cut short.

Despite the parts I got wrong, I wasn't that far from the core details and I'm happy I managed to find this story one more time, in the same Italian anthology at my parents' place (Storie di Vampiri - collana I Mammut, published by Newton-Compton in 2010).

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