ARTHUR LEO ZAGAT “Crawling Madness.” Novelette. First published in Terror Tales, March 1935. Reprinted in Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!, edited by Otto Penzler (Black Lizard, softcover, 2011) and in Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Fall 2016, edited by Matt Moring (Altus Press, softcover).

   Ann and Bob Travers are newlyweds who are heading for Bob’s new job located somewhere out west. He has a new formula for extracting gold from otherwise tapped out mines, and he’s anxious to try it and find out how well it works. Driving along in their car, they are sideswiped off the road by a truck filled with crazed, terrified miners speeding madly off in the opposite direction.

   Their car is wrecked, and Bob’s ankle is broken. What is she to do? Luckily the mine is only a short distance away. It can’t be totally deserted, can it? Well, no, not exactly. Nearing the mine, she is confronted on all side by creeping emaciated men, crawling on their stomachs closer and closer…

   Thus begins “Crawling Madness,” a story that once started, just doesn’t stop. A stranger who claims to be the foreman frightens off Ann’s attackers, but there is something about his Satanic visage that she just doesn’t trust. It’s then a cat and mouse game all the way, in shelter and out, in the mine and out, then trapped in one of the furthermost caverns, always with the threat of unspeakable horror from the monstrously disfigured creatures lurking just beyond the only small sources of light she has.

   The clammy shuddersome feel of the thing upon which Ann’s hand had fallen shocked her back to reason. To reason and the flooding horror of her search. She shoved up on extended arms, arching her back; she looked dazedly about her.

   Madness pulsed in her once more as she stared at which the crawlers had left — at tattered, gnawed flesh; at a torso from whose ribs meat hung in frayed strips; at a skull that had been scraped quite clean so that the grinning bone glowed brightly in the lunar rays. And everywhere on the pitiful remains that once had been human were the marks of teeth, of human teeth!

   This is the stuff of nightmares, no doubt about it, but of course it ends happily, with an explanation that actually works (I think), and most surprisingly at the very end, the equivalent of a PSA about the need for more safety regulations in mines all across the country.