‘The City of Doom’ by Maxwell Grant

“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.

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