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"The Lurking Fear" is a story by H. P. Lovecraft in the horror fiction genre. The narrator, hearing tales of a "lurking fear" upon Tempest Mountain in the Catskills, takes two men with him to investigate. They camp inside the deserted Martense mansion as a lightning storm approaches, and feeling strangely drowsy, they all fall asleep. The narrator wakes up to find both his companions missing, and in a flash of lightning sees a demonic shadow cast upon the fireplace chimney from a grotesque monsters like the other one. Continuing his investigation, the narrator teams up with Arthur Munroe, another journalist. The two find as much information as they can on the mansion and environs, until they find themselves trapped by yet another storm. Bunkered in a small cabin, they witness a bright flash of lightning. Arthur looks out the window to survey the damage. The narrator, curious as to why Arthur is still staring out the window, turns him to find his face chewed off. As the narrator digs open the grave of Jan Martense, he describes the history of the Martense family. Upon reaching the coffin, he continues to dig, and subsequently falls into a subterranean burrow. He crawls along, until he sees two eyes reflecting his torch-light in the darkness. Yet another lightning-strike causes the tunnel to cave in above the beast and the narrator has to dig his way to the surface. He spots a red glare in the distance that he learns was a cabin that the hillside squatters had set alight with one of the beasts inside. The narrator continues to search for more clues, until it occurs to him that peculiar mounds of earth lead out in lines from the mansion. He finds a burrow entrance in the basement as another storm approaches. Finding a hiding place, he watches as countless creatures crawl from the hole. The narrator then sees one of the weaker members of the grotesque mob get attacked and eaten by one of its compatriots. He shoots one of the creatures as it straggles behind the rest of the pack using a clap of thunder to disguise the muzzle blast, and upon closer inspection, notices the creature's heterochromia and realizes that the deformed, hair-covered creature is in fact a member of the Martense family, who after many years of isolation have degenerated into apelike creatures.
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By H. P. Lovecraft
There was thunder in the air on the night I went to the deserted mansion atop Tempest Mountain to find the lurking fear. I was not alone, for foolhardiness was not then mixed with that love of the grotesque and the terrible which has made my career a series of quests for strange horrors in literature and in life. With me were two faithful and muscular men for whom I had sent when the time came; men long associated with me in my ghastly explorations because of their peculiar fitness.
We had started quietly from the village because of the reporters who still lingered about after the eldritch panic of a month before - the nightmare creeping death. Later, I thought, they might aid me; but I did not want them then. Would to God I had let them share the search, that I might not have had to bear the secret alone so long; to bear it alone for fear the world would call me mad or go mad itself at the demon implications of the thing. Now that I am telling it anyway, lest the brooding make me a maniac, I wish I had never concealed it. For I, and I only, know what manner of fear lurked on that spectral and desolate mountain.
In a small motor-car we covered the miles of primeval forest and hill until the wooded ascent checked it. The country bore an aspect more than usually sinister as we viewed it by night and without the accustomed crowds of investigators, so that we were often tempted to use the acetylene headlight despite the attention it might attract. It was not a wholesome landscape after dark, and I believe I would have noticed its morbidity even had I been ignorant of the terror that stalked there. Of wild creatures there were none-they are wise when death leers close. The ancient lightning-scarred trees seemed unnaturally large and twisted, and the other vegetation unnaturally thick and feverish, while curious mounds and hummocks in the weedy, fulgurite-pitted earth reminded me of snakes and dead men's skulls swelled to gigantic proportions.
Fear had lurked on Tempest Mountain for more than a century. This I learned at once from newspaper accounts of the catastrophe which first brought the region to the world's notice. The place is a remote, lonely elevation in that part of the Catskills where Dutch civilization once feebly and transiently penetrated, leaving behind as it receded only a few mined mansions and a degenerate squatter population inhabiting pitiful hamlets on isolated slopes. Normal beings seldom visited the locality till the state police were formed, and even now only infrequent troopers patrol it. The fear, however, is an old tradition throughout the neighboring villages; since it is a prime topic in the simple discourse of the poor mongrels who sometimes leave their valleys to trade handwoven baskets for such primitive necessities as they cannot shoot, raise, or make.
The lurking fear dwelt in the shunned and deserted Martense mansion, which crowned the high but gradual eminence whose liability to frequent thunderstorms gave it the name of Tempest Mountain. For over a hundred years the antique, grove-circled stone house had been the subject of stories incredibly wild and monstrously hideous; stories of a silent colossal creeping death which stalked abroad in summer. With whimpering insistence the squatters told tales of a demon which seized lone wayfarers after dark, either carrying them off or leaving them in a frightful state of gnawed dismemberment; while sometimes they whispered of blood trails toward the distant mansion. Some said the thunder called the lurking fear out of its habitation, while others said the thunder was its voice.
No one outside the backwoods had believed these varying and conflicting stories, with their incoherent, extravagant descriptions of the hall-glimpsed fiend; yet not a farmer or villager doubted that the Martense mansion was ghoulishly haunted. Local history forbade such a doubt, although no ghostly evidence was ever found by such investigators as had visited the building after some especially vivid tale of the squatters. Grandmothers told strange myths of the Martense spectre; myths concerning the Martense family itself, its queer hereditary dissimilarity of eyes, its long, unnatural annals, and the murder which had cursed it.
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