BY Charles

((illo: Teddy appears))

It was about eleven p.m. when I sat down at the typewriter and started typing the final draft of the manuscript. The house had become quiet except for the raucous chirp of a cricket somewhere in the shadows, and the persistent ticka ticka ticka of my wrist watch lying near me on the desk.

I had completed the first draft of the yarn and it looked good. It complied with the basic formula of a short story -- select a strong character, give the character a goal, put what seems to be an unsurmountable obstacle in his way, then let the character excavate himself by his own ingenuity.

I had such a character. A girl. For a week she had been spinning around in my head. I knew everything about her; that her hair was honey blonde, her eyes amber, her figure, WOW!, and her lips full and kissable. I called her Teddy, but I don't know why. It just seemed to fit, that's all.

I had Teddy in one devil of a fix, too. She was to wade thru twelve pages of the most damnable hell along with a guy called Vince Lane. You see, this story was for Art Rapp's SPACEWARP and the fans who read WARP want plenty of unexpected twists and turns in stories. So Vince and Teddy, being cub newspaper reporters, are sent out to cover a story concerning a strange old brownstone house over on Skalter Street.

There have been some pretty lurid tales about this old house, but the trouble really starts when it is learned by the reader that Vince and Teddy have invaded the sanctum of Satan. That's the title, incidentally -- "Sanctum of Satan."

In fact, here in the drab old house lurks all the evil in the universe. So powerful is this evil, Vince and Teddy find a curious compelling force holding them inside the dank walls. There is no escape!

But here I used one of the old standbys of authorship, the application of a theme. Since love and virtue always triumph over evil in a short story, I simply make Teddy and Vince fall in love, and the power of love overwhelms the power of evil and the problem is solved in a satisfactory manner.

I rolled a sheet of paper into the L. C. Smith and started Teddy through her adventures. I kept thinking how Rapp was going to love the yarn, what with all the chilling atmosphere in it, when suddenly just as I'm writing, "Vince took Teddy in his arms and crushed her lips with his own," a howl of protest echoed from behind me and when I turned, there she stood. TEDDY! and just as I had visualized her.

"Oh no you don't," she screeched, snatching the paper out of the machine and crumpling it into a wad. "You can't get away with that, Charlie! No drip like that Vance fellow is going to kiss me and make me like it!"

I was incredulous. I wouldn't have known my mouth was open if I hadn't started to drool down the front of my shirt. I said, "You -- you -- you --" and closed my mouth.

"You ought to be sorry," she said, puffing out her lips like a pouting kid. "After all the nice things I've thought about you. You know, Charlie, I was sorta beginning to fall for you. But" and now her amber eyes blazed like a tiger's, "you go and try to wish me off on a character like that Vince guy!"

((illo: Teddy and ?))

I couldn't speak. My throat was all dry and sticky. This could not be happening to me. I must be dreaming. I must have dropped off while I was working on the manuscript. But there was the cricket yet chirping in the shadows somewhere, and my wrist watch, now reading eleven-thirty, ticking away on my desk. If this was a dream, I thought, I might as well enjoy it. It isn't every night a creature as beautiful as Teddy invades the old subconscious.

I got up from the typewriter and walked over to her. "I'm sorry about this mess," I said. "But I can kiss better than that Vince fellow. Here's a demonstration." She cuddled in my arms and glued her lips to mine. I could feel tremors of delight slithering up my spine and overflowing into my reeling brain. It makes my face pink just to think of it.

I shouldn't tell you how we sat out on the front veranda for hours after, locked in each others' arms, our lips close, whispering crazy little things about love. It all sounds too mushy. But it was true.

Along about 3 a.m. I bunked her down on the sofa in the living room and went upstairs to my own room. I decided I might as well finish the yarn before daylight so I went to work and wrote it just as I had planned. With her in the living room she would be none the wiser and there was no use spoiling a good story.

I went to bed after that but it was no use trying to sleep. My mind kept turning over pictures of her and my heart did little skipping leaps like the heart of a man in love.

Along about 4 a.m. I must have dozed off, for when I awakened the sun was streaming through the windows and I could hear the sparrows chattering in the trees outside. I got up and went down to the living room but the sofa was bare. She was gone!

I don't know what I did for the next ten minutes. My brain was numb. I wanted to kick myself, to tear my hair, to do all sorts of drastic things. I had been a fool. I should have known that writing her back into that mess with Vince Lane was writing her right out of my life. I knew now how she had escaped to come to me in the first place. It had been by the strength of her faith. Her faith in me. The faith that I would not let her get involved with this Vince fellow. And now that her faith in me was shattered, so was her resistance to the evil in that old house. She was back there now.

I walked over to the desk and picked up the sheets of the manuscript. I tore up the last three pages and the climax of the story and stuffed them in the waste basket. Then I rewrote it, making lightning strile the old brownstone mansion and freeing them. That was the only way I could think of. I knew she could never fall in love with Vince and I didn't want her to anyway. She was my gal now. And this was a way to prove I really loved her.

I then put the story in an envelope and mailed it off to Rapp. The story came back a week later with his notation:

I didn't care about that. I had solved my problem. Teddy came back to me the very minute I changed the climax a week ago.


Text versions and page scans Judy Bemis

Data entry by Judy Bemis

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