Horror Story Review: "The Marmot" by Allison V. Harding
Jim, the narrator of this story tells the reader that he’s never admired his brother, Edward Allis, a vain, selfish blusterer. Edward disappeared after the two split a family inheritance. Jim invested his portion in a business. His brother departed for “foreign soils.”
Yet when he got an emergency telegram two and a half years later from Edward begging him to come see him, he went. He found his brother suffering from a debilitating ailment that no doctor could diagnosis. He woke up in the middle of the night screaming in pain, crying that something in his leg was trying to kill him, yet none of the doctors he’d see could find anything wrong.
After a consultation with a doctor, Jim was told that Edward’s pain, as severe as it was, was psychosomatic. He was urged to have him seek treatment with a psychiatrist.
This is a sad little morality tale, but it does introduce during WWII the idea of psychosomatic illness and pain without moral blame. Jim is horrified by his brother’s affliction. Upon seeing him in agony, doesn’t not doubt the validity of his suffering. He doesn’t see his brother as insane. He may not like his brother, but he feels compassion for him.
I’ve been unable to find the story online, only in print anthologies.
Title: “The Marmot”
Author: Allison V. Harding (pseudonym for Jean Milligan)(1919-2004)
First published: Weird Tales March 1944
© 2016 Denise Longrie