AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Lot 249 (1892) – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story, Lot 249, was originally presented in a collection of medical stories called Round the Red Lamp.
Published in 1892, this collection of short stories created a scandal when first released. Doyle’s fans were expecting more Sherlock Holmes-type detective and crime stories but this collection featured mostly harrowing medical stories about disease and amputation.
The story I read is called Lot 249 and is about an Oxford college student whose downstairs neighbor may or may not have reanimated an ancient Egyptian mummy through some type of dark magic. This story was written during a late 19th-Century fascination with Egyptology and was the very first to use a reanimated mummy as the antagonist and would influence horror stories for years afterward.
It’s a short, quick read. It reminded me a lot of Lovecraft’s Herbert West story in style, which wouldn’t be published for another thirty years. Lot 249 is mostly three characters interacting over the course of a few days. We get the details of the events through dialogue after the fact. We don’t really see any of the mummy attacks. We actually don’t really even get to see the mummy walking around. There are a few quick glimpses in the coffin, but that’s about it. And surprisingly enough, the story is wrapped up completely with no “will the mummy actually come alive again” type cliffhanger ending. You could almost argue that there’s no definitive proof that the mummy did in fact come alive and start killing people. Like I said, a lot of the eyewitness testimony is coincidental and hearsay. Doyle leaves it up to the reader to fill in the blanks however he wants.
It’s an interesting story to read from the perspective of that this will influence the “creeping mummy” horror genre for so many years to come. I’m glad I included it here, even if it isn’t the most exciting story I’ve ever read. I’m a fan of Doyle and was glad to be able to include him in this year’s AWESOME-tober-fest.
In 1990, Lot 249 would be adapted as one of the chapters in the Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. The adaptation in that movie would be written by Michael McDowell who also wrote the movie Beetlejuice and the movie novelization for Clue: The Movie. It would star a very young Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore and Christian Slater.
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.