Red Spectres 11: Man, Rat Swap Souls! Murder Ensues!
Here we are with the last story.
It’s been a fun trip. And the last story is a classic of the weird tales type. Not quite soul juicing, but its next door neighbor: soul-swapping.
“Professor Knop’s Experiment” by Pavel Perov (1924)
George Gibbs is a criminal awaiting execution for murder in Sing-Sing. He’s approached by one Professor Knop who asks if Gibbs would like to take part in an experiment. What kind of experiment? The soul-swapping kind! And so Professor Knop gives a very long involved bit of technobabble on polarized soul particles and swapping them between bodies, and how he’s only done it to animals and wants to test it on humans now. Gibbs figures he has nothing to lose and agrees to take part in the experiment. His one cause of concern is the fact that the Professor intends to swap his soul with that of a crazed rat. “Don’t worry,” Knop says. “I’ve done it to the rat a dozen times before.”
And so, the stage is set for our inevitable conclusion.
Gibbs’s soul gets swapped into the rat. The rat’s gets swapped into his body. Knop is delighted, and all for a moment looks like it’s going well. Except for the simple mistake that Knop forgot to tie Gibbs’s body down. The rat wakes inside the man and proceeds to beat the professor to death. The cops bust in then, see the raging Gibbs, and proceed to shoot him to death. Of course, the rat with Gibbs inside it tries to stop the cops and gets shot to death too. And there you go.
Some of you might remember the first soul-juicing story I wrote about here, Greye La Spina’s “The Remorse of Professor Panebianco.” This story is very much like that, if maybe with a veiled critique of the Revolution. You think you can make unintelligent beasts into men with the flip of a switch? Perov’s story would’ve sat well alongside a lot of those early Weird Tales stories. And who knows maybe some work by him did. The brief author biography in Red Spectres says he left Russia in 1910 and lived much of his life in the USA. I’d certainly enjoy reading more by him.
And so we’ve reached the end of Red Spectres: Russian Gothic Tales from the Twentieth Century. It’s definitely a fun collection and worth tracking down. As for what’s next I don’t know. There will still be patreon updates, along with the occasional post on this site. Those will likely be RPG related. As for next year? Well, that’s next year.
I hope you have enjoyed some of these posts. If you can, please consider supporting me on patreon. You’ll receive PDFs of Mysthead, my RPG fanzine, and other goodies as I make them.
As always, stay well.