Pages:240 Pages


FICTION / Horror

By L. Ron Hubbard (Author)


A novel of compelling suspense.

Professor James Lowry didn't believe in spirits, or witches, or demons.

Not until a gentle spring evening when his hat disappeared, and suddenly he couldn't remember the last four hours of his life. Now, the quiet university town of Atworthy is changing—slightly at first, then faster and more frighteningly each time he tries to remember.

Lowry is pursued by a dark, secret evil that is turning his whole world against him while it whispers a warning from the shadows: If you find your hat you'll find your four hours. If you find your four hours then you will die....

"A classic tale of creeping, surreal menace and horror... one of the really, really good ones." —Stephen King


Fear Glossary

auto-da-fé: the public declaration of judgments passed on persons tried in the courts of the Spanish Inquisition, followed by execution by civil authorities of the sentences imposed, especially the burning of condemned heretics at the stake.

Beau Brummell: an extremely or excessively well-dressed man. Named after George Bryan Brummell (1778–1840), an Englishman who was regarded as an authority on all matters of dress and etiquette.

cabalistic: of an esoteric doctrine or mysterious art; having a secret or hidden meaning; of the occult.

Carroll: Lewis Carroll (1832–1898), an English author whose most famous writings are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Cicero: Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BC), a Roman statesman, lawyer, political theorist and philosopher. He is considered to have been one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists, and one of the most versatile minds of Roman culture.

Colonel Ingraham: Colonel Prentiss Ingraham (1843–1904), a prolific American author of dime fiction. During his thirty-year writing career he wrote 600 novels and 400 novelettes, and of these he wrote 200 Buffalo Bill titles.

Colt .38: Colt .38 Super; a .38 caliber automatic pistol manufactured by the Colt Firearms Company of Hartford, Connecticut, and founded by Samuel Colt (1814–1862), who revolutionized the firearms industry. Introduced in 1929, it is one of the most powerful automatic pistols in the world.

constable: (British) a police officer.

Dumas: Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870), a French writer best known for his swashbuckling historical tales including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask.

ennui: a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from a lack of interest; boredom.

Fates: the Fates, in classical mythology, were the three goddesses Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who control human destiny.

Gibbon: Edward Gibbon (1737–1794), an English historian best known for The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Homer: (eighth century BC) Greek epic poet. Two of the greatest works in Western literature, the Illiad and the Odyssey, are attributed to him.

Horatio: Hamlet’s closest friend in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The line “Alas, poor Lowry. I knew him, Horatio.” is borrowed from this work with the name of Lowry in place of the name Yorick, the deceased court jester whose skull is exhumed by the gravedigger. In this scene Hamlet is speaking to Horatio as he takes the skull of Yorick into his hands.

ken: range of vision.

Ketch, Jack: executioner; an English executioner in the 1600s, notorious for his barbarous inefficiency because he employed either very awkward or sadistic techniques and his victims were known to have suffered at their deaths.

Khayyám: Omar Khayyám (1048–1131), Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer best known for his poetry.

Machiavellian: characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency or dishonesty. This concept is named after the Renaissance diplomat and writer Nicolo Machiavelli (1469–1527), who described the principles of government in which political expediency is placed above morality, and craft and deceit are used to maintain the authority and carry out the policies of a ruler.

Medusa: (Greek mythology) a monster with live venomous snakes for hair; people who looked at her would turn to stone.

Parisian wit: a sense of humor that always finds something to laugh about, no matter how tragic a circumstance may be.

pince-nez: a pair of glasses held on the face by a spring that grips the nose.

rondure: a graceful curving or roundness.

Shakespeare: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), English playwright and poet, recognized in much of the world as the greatest of all dramatists.

sola topi: pith helmet; a lightweight hat made from the dried pith of sola, a plant that grows in southern India and the East Indies. Pith is a soft spongelike tissue in the stems of most flowering plants, and helmets made from this are worn for protection from the sun.

Swift: Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), an Irish satirist, essayist and poet, famous for works like Gulliver’s Travels, The Battle of the Books and A Tale of a Tub.

Tennyson: Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892), a British poet whose works reflect Victorian sentiments and aesthetics. He was appointed poet laureate in 1850.

top, old: a general form of address to a man that one knows.

Verne: Jules Verne (1828–1905), a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for novels such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days.

whatnot stand: a set of light shelves for displaying figurines, bric-a-brac or other small items.

Yucatán: a peninsula mostly in southeastern Mexico between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.