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Literature / There Shall Be No Darkness

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Title page illustration by Virgil Finlay.
There Shall Be No Darkness is a 1950 short story by James Blish. Wealthy eccentric Tom Newcliffe and his wife Caroline invite a group of friends, artists and musicians, primarily, to his remote estate for a weekend get-together. Painter Paul Foote begins to suspect that his fellow guest, pianist Jan Jarmoskowski, may in fact be a werewolf. He is proven correct when Jan transforms into a werewolf on the night of the full moon. Newcliffe and his guests fight their lives against the monster and attempt to fortify the house.
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The story was adapted in the film The Beast Must Die.


Tropes used in this story:

  • Affably Evil: Jan didn't ask to be a werewolf, and ordinarily, he's a pretty swell guy, who enjoys performing and knowing that his music brings joy to people. Bennington even mentions Jan helped him out of "a bad jam" once. Only as the full moon approaches does Jan become more overtly malevolent as his wolfish side begins to surface.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Paul Foote comes to pity those afflicted with lycanthropy.
  • The Alcoholic: Paul Foote is frequently drunk, to the point of being a Functional Alcoholic.
  • Alliterative Name: Jan Jarmoskowski.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Paul makes the nearly fatal error of going to confront Jan in his bedroom about his suspicions, armed only with a silver knife he swiped from the dinner table. Initially, Jan is dismissive of Paul's accusations, but Paul presses the issue, prompting Jan to transform and attack him. Paul quickly books it. This later happens while Doris is tending to Tom during his Heroic BSoD after killing Caroline. Jan approaches her in human form, with the comatose Tom unable to help her, as Jan attempts to persuade Doris to come with him. Paul Foote puts paid to that temptation to the dark side by leaping in, having overheard most of the conversation, and blowing Jan away with silver bullets.
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  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Paul realizes Jan couldn't have killed Lundgren, so he has everyone gather together to determine who the second werewolf is. Realizing she's about to be outed, Caroline Newcliffe, who'd gotten Jan's infected blood in her system when she cut her hand handling a trap they'd laid out for the beast, transforms and attempts to kill Paul - only to be bludgeoned to death by her husband with a silver candlestick.
  • Animal Motifs: Bennington is frequently compared to a bear.
  • Closed Circle: The mansion.
  • Cool Guns: Tom orders a bunch (along with silver bullets for ammo) to use against the werewolf. They're delivered promptly by private jet.
  • Detect Evil: During Jan's performance at the party, Paul detects some "uninvited" and unwelcome presence has just entered the room. What he eventually concludes is that, as night begins to fall, he's sensing Jan's wolfish nature beginning to come out.
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  • Eccentric Millionaire: Tom Newcliffe. To deal with the problem after the group's homemade silver bullets make their rifles explode, he orders a buttload of assault rifles and silver bullets and having them delivered to his mansion by Learjet.
  • Gratuitous German: Hermann frequently says random German words.
  • Gray Eyes: Jan's normal eye color is gray.
  • Heroic BSoD: Tom, after he kills his lycanthropic wife with a silver candlestick.
  • Informed Attribute: Jan is Polish and it's mentioned he sometimes has difficulty speaking English. As written, however, he is quite verbose and possesses a good command of English, never actually lapsing into Polish. By contrast, German guest Hermann is the one who frequently lapses into his native language.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Dr. Lundgren claims that lycanthropy is the result of a mutation in the pineal gland of the afflicted person's brain, they don't show up in photographs, and they're capable of transformation at will, as will, as well, apparently. Also, the sign of the pentagram doesn't mark the werewolf's victim (as in The Wolf Man), but the witch who is to first be their accomplice and then betray them. However, even among all these differences Blish added, one thing remains the same: silver bullets are still fatal to them and silver in general is something they don't like.
  • Reality Ensues: The homemade silver bullets that the group uses the first night just jam the guns, and, in Palmer's case, make the weapon backfire rather violently.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Jan's eyes turn from gray to red the closer it gets to the full moon.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: All of the servants, except the butler, bail after the first night. Palmer also skedaddles after the second night.
  • Stress Vomit: Bennington pukes after Caroline turns into a werewolf and gets killed by Tom.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Between Jan and Doris.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: Being stalked by a werewolf!
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Apparently, werewolves can choose when to transform, as Jan does not turn into his wolf form until after it becomes clear to him he needs to shut Paul up.
  • We Can Rule Together: Jan tries this on Doris at the end, offering to turn into her a werewolf like himself. Not only doesn't it work, Jan's attempts to bring Doris over to his side keep him distracted long enough for Paul to run in and shoot him.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Paul. Fortunately, the transformed Jan attacks him and Doris, and she sees the monster wolf, too, and is able to convince the others.
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