The Electric Executioner by H. P. Lovecraft

To call the Electric Executioner a H. P. Lovecraft short story is a bit of a slam against Lovecraft as it is almost certainly one of the worst stories that he worked on. This is a story which he made with Adolphe de Castro and was published in Weird Tales in 1930. And by made it means that Adolphe de Castro wrote the story and the H. P. Lovecraft rewrote it in an attempt to make it into a story that is actually worth reading. He did not succeed though there are a few point where fans of Lovecraft get a nod. 

The story could easily titled “A Train Ride in which something odd eventually happens.” Though I suppose that might not have had the same impact. The reason for this is that the first half of this really does not do much more than describe a train ride into Mexico. He talks about how he is supposed to get married in a week, which effects the story in no way, how he is delayed and has to switch trains which really has no effect on the plot and he complains a lot. This entire section could have been replaced with the line “I was traveling south through Mexico to investigate a problem at a mine.  The train was empty.”

The second half of the story gets a bit better. He is alone in the train car except for a single very large man. This man turns out to be an inventor who has created a better version of the electric chair and the large man has decided that he needs to prove how well it works so is going to use it on the hero. In the process of stalling hero convinces the villain to put on the helmet. As you might guess it is then activated and kills him.

The man faints and when he wakes up the other man is gone. He then discovers that for no reason they discover that the man was found dead in the town he was going to and was never on the train, though he did proof that he was there. This is odd, but it really isn’t explained or well done in any way, it is simply odd.

As you can tell from my description this is a story that simply has a lot of random elements thrown together that do not really make sense or connect in any way. I suspect that most of this is because H. P. Lovecraft was simply editing this and I suggest that even the Lovecraft fans skip this one unless you are playing the RPG game and want a strange story that might give you an interesting twist on an idea or two. Even then though there are better choices and for anyone else run away from this story because the quality of the story is as scary as almost anything H. P. Lovecraft wrote about.