by Walter De La Mare.
“Bad Company” was originally published in the collection A BEGINNING & OTHER STORIES in 1955. There is a recording in the BBC Archives from January 19, 1954 of de la Mare reading this story. It is not commercially available. Rights to use this story were graciously granted by The Society Of Authors. The Society is a membership organization which has over 9,000 members writing in all areas of the profession and has been serving the interests of professional writers for more than a century. The story itself is available in SHORT STORIES 1927-1956 by Walter de la Mare, published by Giles de la Mare Publishers Ltd. This collection is now available as an Ebook. (you lucky people). Links, as always, under the names!
WALTER DE LA MARE OM, CH (1873-1956) was an English poet, short story writer and novelist. He worked in the statistics department of the London office of Standard Oil for eighteen years while struggling to bring up a family, but nevertheless found enough time to write, and, in 1908, through the efforts of Sir Henry Newbolt he received a Civil List pension which enabled him to concentrate on writing. His post-war COLLECTED STORIES FOR CHILDREN won the 1947 Carnegie Medal for British children’s books. He is probably best remembered for his works for children and for his poem “The Listeners”. He also wrote some subtle psychological horror stories, amongst them “Seaton’s Aunt” and “Out of the Deep”. Gary William Crawford has described de la Mare’s supernatural fiction for adults as being “among the finest to appear in the first half of this century” and several writers, including Robert Aickman and Ramsey Campbell, have cited de la Mare’s fiction as inspirational. .
Your reader this week – Paul Jenkins – has narrated for Escape Pod, Pseudopod and PodCastle a number of times (and was honored to be asked to read the story for the very first episode of PodCastle). His science fiction podcast novel THE PLITONE REVISIONIST is available for free at Podiobooks.com. His skeptical blog is Notes from an Evil Burnee and his skeptical podcast is Skepticule Extra (aka “The Three Pauls Podcast”).
“It is very seldom that one encounters what would appear to be sheer unadulterated evil in a human face; an evil, I mean, active, deliberate, deadly, dangerous. Folly, heedlessness, vanity, pride, craft, meanness, stupidity – yes. But even Iagos in this world are few, and devilry is as rare as witchcraft.
One winter’s evening some little time ago, bound on a visit to a friend in London, I found myself on the platform of one of its many subterranean railway stations. It is an ordeal that one may undergo as seldom as one can. The glare and glitter, the noise, the very air one breathes affect nerves and spirits. One expects vaguely strange meetings in such surroundings. On this occasion, the expectation was justified. The mind is at times more attentive than the eye. Already tired, and troubled with personal cares and problems, which a little wisdom and enterprise should have refused to entertain, I had seated myself on one of the low, wooden benches to the left of the entrance to the platform, when, for no conscious reason, I was prompted to turn my head in the direction of a fellow traveler, seated across the gangway on the fellow to my bench some few yards away.
What was wrong with him?”