“Dig Me No Grave” is a gripping tale by Robert E. Howard intertwines elements of horror, the occult, and the supernatural. Considered part of the Cthulhu Mythos. Sold for $100.00. This horror story appeared in Weird Tales in 1937 after Howard died in 1936.

In “Dig Me No Grave”, the story is narrated by Kirowan, an approach Howard abandoned for the later stories, in which he kept the first-person perspective but had an unnamed narrator. Kirowan is awakened by Conrad in the middle of the night. Conrad has just left the side of John Grimlan, who has died most unpleasantly. Years earlier Grimlan had made Conrad swear to follow the instructions in a sealed envelope after his death. Conrad was to follow these instructions no matter how much Grimlan might change his mind. As he was dying Grimlan begged Conrad not to follow the instructions but to burn the envelope.

Through “Dig Me No Grave,” Howard explores themes of eternal damnation, the consequences of a life devoted to dark arts, and the unfathomable mysteries that lie beyond the veil of the known world, all while maintaining a suspenseful and atmospheric narrative.

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The story

The story begins with the protagonist, John Kirowan, being roused from sleep by his friend, John Conrad, who urgently requests his presence. Conrad reveals that John Grimlan, a mutual acquaintance known for his evil life and occult studies, has died after a peculiar and virulent seizure.

Grimlan, described as a hermit-like figure who delved into dark magic and was rumored to have sold his soul to the devil, left behind instructions for Conrad to perform a specific ritual over his body. Despite his reservations, Conrad, bound by a promise made years earlier, enlists Kirowan’s help to carry out Grimlan’s final wishes.

The instructions involve placing Grimlan’s body on an ebony table, surrounding it with black candles, and reading from a mysterious parchment at dawn. However, the situation takes a surreal turn when they find Grimlan’s body already prepared upon their arrival at his house, despite Conrad having left it unattended. An Oriental man, who introduces himself in a manner suggesting familiarity with Grimlan’s occult practices, joins them, asserting his role in the ritual.

As Conrad reads the spell, the candles extinguish one by one, plunging the room into darkness. A moment of supernatural horror ensues, culminating in the disappearance of Grimlan’s body and the Oriental man, leaving Kirowan and Conrad in a state of terror. They flee the house, only to witness it engulfed in flames, with a monstrous shadow hovering above, implying that a demonic entity, perhaps Malik Tous himself, has claimed Grimlan’s soul as payment for their unholy pact.

The story concludes with the inferno consuming the house entirely, a symbolic representation of Grimlan’s final descent into hell, as his dealings with dark forces come to a fiery end.


  • John Kirowan: The narrator and protagonist, a friend of John Conrad, who gets involved in the eerie events following John Grimlan’s death.
  • John Conrad: A friend of both Kirowan and Grimlan, tasked with performing a posthumous ritual for Grimlan. His loyalty to Grimlan’s wishes drives the plot.
  • John Grimlan: The central figure of the story, a man known for his evil life and deep involvement with the occult. His death and the subsequent events form the crux of the narrative.
  • The Oriental Man: A mysterious figure who appears to assist with Grimlan’s ritual. His true nature and intentions are ambiguous, but he is strongly implied to be a supernatural entity or a disciple of Malik Tous.
  • Malik Tous: Though not physically present, this demonic entity’s influence permeates the story. Grimlan’s pact with Malik Tous, and the latter’s claim on Grimlan’s soul, underscore the narrative’s dark themes.

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