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Literature / The Howling Man

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"The Howling Man" is a short story written by Charles Beaumont in 1960. A young enough man by the name of David Ellington is pedaling through Europe when he has an accident. He ends up in St Wulfram's, an abbey run by a Father Jerome which seems nice except for the howls of a man kept prisoner inside of a cell. The man begs for help to be released and that he was wrongly imprisoned. Father Jerome on the other hand insists he is none other than Satan himself. David Ellington unfortunately makes the wrong choice.

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The story was most famously adapted by Mr. Beaumont himself for an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959). Click here for the rundown of that version.

Tropes associated with this story

  • Belated Happy Ending: Ellington leaves St Wulframs upset with himself that he released the Devil but he later receives a postcard from Brother Christophorus to tell them they recaptured him. At least for now.
  • Cassandra Truth: Father Jerome, Brother Christophorus and the others tell Ellington they have the Devil locked up but he doesn't believe them.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Jerome and his followers captured Satan himself. Unfortunately, it's never for long.
  • False Innocence Trick: The prisoner's best trick. Brother Jerome surmises that it preys on man's greatest weakness.
  • Fatal Flaw: Father Jerome expresses regret for humanity's greatest flaws, all of which Satan can easily exploit.
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  • Full-Frontal Assault: The titular Howling Man is described several times by David Ellington as naked and hairy.
  • I Have Many Names: “Otherwise known as the Dark Angel, Ahriman, Asmodeus, Belial, Diabolus...”
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Ellington inadvertently released the greatest evil in the world from its imprisonment.
  • Satan: He's here and he howls.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Unfortunately, disbelievers keep opening the can.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: When Ellington frees the prisoner, the prisoner paralyzes him with a Psychic Strangle before making his escape.
  • We Didn't Start the Führer: In the original story, the narrator later recognizes the Howling Man giving speeches in Germany.
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