"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" — The Shadow knows!
A Maxwell Grant (aka Walter B Gibson) tale of The Shadow.
One by one, the industries around the town of Hampsted have suffered impossible accidents, and each apparently at the hands of their most trusted employees. The toll in human lives is frightful, and the psychic toll on the citizens of Hampsted is even more oppressive. Such an implausible array of accidents draws the attention of The Shadow, especially when one of his most valued agents, Harry Vincent, has disappeared investigating the scene.
As the story opens, another accident occurs at the foundry: the most trusted worker is set to start pouring the molten metal, when he inexplicably starts the pour too soon. The flowing metal incinerates the men unlucky enough to be caught in the shower of molten metal, adding yet another toll to the town. As with the other accidents, no immediate cause can be determined.
The Shadow investigates, following the track of his valued agent, discovering a mysterious note in Harry's vacant hotel room. But that discovery is laced with murderous intent, as the clue The Shadow found was also the bait for a lethal trap. Yet The Shadow was expecting just such an occurrence and avoids the trap with ease, and armed with the information from the clue, is able to track a suspect to a darkened apartment. Once inside, The Shadow is met by an old foe, thought dead: the Voodoo Doctor, Doctor Mocquinto, and a brilliant, blazing light. The light blazes in a brilliant display of colors designed to both fascinate and stun the conscious mind. Anyone In that state would accept directions without even being aware of it. Thus was the sabotage accomplished, by saboteurs unaware of their own culpability. Doctor Mocquinto obviously means to subject The Shadow to its hypnotic influence but The Shadow is made of sterner stuff and holds the sinister Doctor at bay with his automatics.
Doctor Mocquinto, however, holds another card: Harry, plus the other men who are unknowingly under his villainous hypnotic thrall, are primed and ready to commit their deadly sabotage unless the Shadow relents. Thus The Shadow and Doctor Mocquinto are at a stalemate. The Doctor allows The Shadow to leave town, knowing he will be back. Once The Shadow returns, he begins a game of cat-and-house with the Doctor and his schemes to destroy the remaining industries. Once they are gone, the Voodoo Doctor will sweep away the dependence of technology and replace it with the power of Voodoo.
But The Shadow anticipates the Voodoo Doctor's plans and thwarts his next attempt. And his investigations lead him to the Voodoo Doctor's lair, an almost-abandoned manor in the countryside. A stealthy assault on the manor discovers the Voodoo Doctor's next attempt: the knitting mill, where the voltage has been set to cause the machines in the plant to run wild. After that, the town movie theater and hotel are slated for destruction, followed by the manor house itself, to erase all clues.
The Shadow makes for the basement to free Harry, but there facing The Shadow are six zombis: men who displeased the Voodoo Doctor and were exposed to his hypnotic light for so long and so often their minds had been totally destroyed. Yet their mechanical movements allowed The Shadow to defeat them and free Harry and the other prisoners. With them safe, The Shadow disables the controls for the explosives that will destroy the hotel and theater and starts the timer on the ones that will destroy the manor. That gives him enough time to trap the Voodoo Doctor in the manor just as it explodes, drawing the villain once thought dead to his certain grave.
First published in "The Shadow Magazine", May 15, 1936. Republished in "The Shadow" #10 and can be ordered the The Shadow's Sanctum website.
Legal: "The Shadow" and the phrase "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" are registered trademarks of Advanced Magazine Publishers d/b/a Condé Nast Publications. The phrases "The Shadow knows" and "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit" are trademarks owned by Advanced Magazine Publishers d/b/a Condé Nast Publications.