ROBERT E. HOWARD “The Horror from the Mound.” Short story. Non-series. First published in Weird Tales, May 1932. Collected in Skull-Face and Others (Arkham House, hardcover, 1946) and Wolfshead (Lancer, paperback, 1968). Reprinted elsewhere many more times, including Trails in Darkness (Baen, paperback, 1996).

   A short tale — only 23 pages long in the Baen edition — but still one of the most effective vampire stories I’ve ever read. Not that anyone except a poor Mexican laborer knows ahead of time who or what lies inside the ancient burial mound on Steve Brill’s land, somewhere in the American southwest, and he makes a great point of avoiding the area whenever he trudges back to his hovel of a home after a hard day’s work.

   What Brill does — in spite of all the alarms that go off in the minds of every single reader of this tale, every single one — his curiosity completely out of control, is to start digging into the mound on his own and far into the night.

   What emerges is something he does not expect, not in today’s day and age (or 1932, to be precise, which is when the story was first published). This is the kind of story in which the suspense builds and builds, whether you’re a believer of the supernatural or not. It’s not a story to be put down easily, I can assure you.