“Black Country” is a horror story. Rejected by at least Thrills of the Jungle Magazine, and not published until 1973 in W. Paul Ganley’s fanzine WeirdBook Six. Set in the oppressive and eerie environment of the West African jungle, the story explores the ghastly events at a remote trading post, involving mysterious deaths and the dark influence of native witch doctors.

The story delves into the horror of the unknown, exploring themes of cultural clash, superstition, and the terrifying power of native witchcraft in the heart of the African jungle.

Alternative title: Black-Country


The story is narrated by a young white man in charge of a trading post deep in the West African jungle, near the Niger River. His superior has been injured and evacuated, leaving him in a precarious situation amidst the ongoing tribal warfare between two chiefs, U’Guno and Bugbo. Each chief is manipulated by their respective fetish men, Garo and Goslanghai, who harbor deep animosity toward each other.

The narrator describes the unnerving environment, filled with the constant sound of war drums, headless corpses floating down the river, and the oppressive miasma rising from the swamps. The station’s native workers are terrified, fearing an attack from the victorious tribe, and the narrator himself is on edge, sleeping with a pistol under his pillow.

One night, the drums announce Bugbo’s victory over U’Guno, and the narrator braces for an attack. However, instead of an army, a lone, wounded figure arrives at the post: Garo, the fetish man of the defeated U’Guno. Garo tells the narrator of Bugbo’s raid, the slaughter of U’Guno’s people, and the brutal treatment of the captives by Bugbo’s Amazon warriors led by Geshla.

Garo reveals he killed Goslanghai in the chaos, taking his severed head as a powerful juju. The narrator, horrified and suspicious, locks Garo in an empty storeroom for the night. However, he is awakened before dawn by unsettling noises from the storeroom. Upon investigating, he finds Garo dead, his throat savagely torn open. The room shows no signs of forced entry or escape, and the head of Goslanghai lies nearby, its tusk-like teeth smeared with blood.

The narrator is left to grapple with the inexplicable nature of Garo’s death. He resigns his post and returns home, traumatized by the events and haunted by nightmares.


  • Narrator: A young white man in charge of a remote trading post on the Niger River. He is nervous and on edge due to the ongoing tribal warfare and the oppressive jungle environment.
  • U’Guno: A tribal chief defeated by Bugbo. He is described as a large, powerful man with typical ambitions for food, drink, and women.
  • Bugbo: The victorious tribal chief who leads a ferocious raid against U’Guno’s village.
  • Garo: The fetish man of U’Guno, a cruel and vengeful shaman who kills Goslanghai and seeks refuge at the trading post.
  • Goslanghai: The fetish man of Bugbo, who manipulates his chief for power but is ultimately killed by Garo.
  • Geshla: One of Bugbo’s wives, leading an army of Amazons known for their ferocity and brutal treatment of captives.

From the letters:

In a letter (#108) to Thrills of the Jungle Magazine, circa June to late 1929, Howard wrote:

Editor Thrills of the Jungle Magazine,
New York.

Dear Sir:

I enclose herewith a short story manuscript: “Black Country,” which I hope you can use in your magazine.

I am neither a novice nor an amateur at the writing game; I have been a regular contributor to Weird Tales Magazine, for some five or six years. My stories have also appeared in Ghost Story Magazine, a Macfadden Publication, Fight Stories and Argosy.

If this story does not suit, please tell me your exact requirements. I have sold more stories dealing with primitive peoples or with tropical or jungle settings, than any other kind, and I am especially taken with your type of magazine.

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Cover art by James B. Zimmerman