We’re headed on a midnight train, southbound to a land known to be pretty hot. It’s not sizzling New Orleans, but I’m sure Hell’s pretty close in temperature to the city where care forgot.
We are greatly honored to introduce the great Robert Bloch. He was a fiction writer with a diverse array of stories in crime, horror, fantasy and science fiction. Bloch is best known as the writer of “Psycho” that led to Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, many great tales on Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery”, and the Hammer horror film classic, “The House That Dripped Blood”. Robert Bloch’s fondness for humor in horror was evident in puns. It could be seen in the titles of his story collections such as “Tales in a Jugular Vein”, “Such Stuff as Screams Are Made Of” and “Out of the Mouths of Graves”.
Then there’s the classic Bloch favorite line, “I have the heart of a child. I keep it in a jar on my shelf.”
There are hundreds of Bloch short stories and over 30 novels.
Robert Bloch was one of the youngest members of the Lovecraft Circle. He corresponded often with H.P. Lovecraft and then began his professional writing career after high school graduation at the age of 17. He was a protege of H. P. Lovecraft who was the first to seriously encourage Bloch’s talent.
Robert Bloch won numerous awards in writing. He won The Hugo Award (“That Hell-Bound Train”), The Bram Stoker Award, and The World Fantasy Award. Bloch served a term as president of The Mystery Writers of America (1970). He was a member of The Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, The Writers Guild of America, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
But the one society he’s probably still an un-dead member of is The Count Dracula Society.
“That Hell-Bound Train” is a short supernatural story by Robert Bloch. It was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in September 1958.
The creation of “That Hell-Bound Train” is a curious story. Originally shaped by William Tenn, who at the time had an editorial position at Fantasy and Science Fiction salvaging stories that had been selected by Anthony Boucher as “not quite good enough to be published, but still too good to have been rejected”. From an interview in 2001, Tenn explained that the original version of “That Hell-Bound Train” had been “an absolutely fine piece of work that just didn’t have a usable ending”; consequently, he devised a new ending “and persuaded Robert Bloch to write it”.
“That Hell-Bound Train” won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1959. “Comic Book Resources” has described it as “a classic deal-with-the-devil tale with a nice twist at the end”. The story centers around Martin, a young hobo with a fondness for trains, considering whether to abandon crime when a strange train pulls up beside him on a desolate train track. The train conductor offers Martin anything he wants, in return for which he will “ride that Hell-Bound Train” when he dies.
Will Martin make the deal of a lifetime and shame the Devil?