- "The amulet – it has power to control him! While he wears it, he is yours to command. Providing, of course that you carry the matching talisman."
- ―Anonymous Voodoo cultists
|Altar of the Damned|
|Altar of the Damned|
|Title:||Altar of the Damned|
|Published in:||Menace #5 (1953)|
|Publication date:||July, 1973|
|Characters:||Simon Garth; Donna Garth; Gyps; Mambo Layla|
Deep in the bayous of Louisiana, a Voodoo cult performs a macabre ceremony. A man named Simon Garth is strapped to a slab of rock. Attending the ceremony are a group of naked dancers and an obese gardener named Gyps. The mambo (priestess) prostrates herself before Simon's body holding a knife. She drives the knife down, but rather than stabbing him with it, she actually cuts the ropes binding him to the rock. She shouts for him to "Go" before the others take notice of what she has done. Gyps and the other practitioners do indeed notice their mambo's betrayal and give chase. As Simon races through the swamps, his thoughts cast back to recent events.
- Before becoming a victim of the occult, Simon Garth was the senior partner of Garwood Industries, the South's leading coffee distributor. While leaving his lavish estate one morning, he found his gardener, Gyps, complaining about his duties. Garth admonished the surly man, and warned him to shape up. Garth's twenty-three year old daughter, Donna, raced out of the house to ask her father something, but he had already left. Stopping before Gyps, she noticed that the man was carrying a piece of root. Gyps told her that it was called "Johnny-The-Conqueror" root and it was a piece of Voodoo gris-gris. He kept it as a charm because he felt it might bring him good luck.
- At Garwood Industries, Simon Garth presided over a board meeting. Arguing with his partner, Brian Stockwood, he demanded that the company should increase production. Stockwood tried to reason with Simon's irrational behavior, but Garth grew even more violent, grabbing Stockwood by the neck, calling him a "joke".
- Back at the mansion, Donna decided to go skinny-dipping in the pool. Gyps took notice of this and approached her. Shocked, Donna spun around, having no idea that Gyps was watching her. Before Gyps could press his amorous advances even further, Simon showed up and began punching the gardener in the face. He fired him and swore that if he ever saw him again, he would kill him.
- That evening, an inebriated Gyps returned to the Garth estate for revenge. He smashed an empty whisky bottle across the back of his head, and tied him up. He brought him out to the Voodoo camp deep in the swamp and offered him to the practitioners as a human sacrifice.
- What neither Garth nor Gyps knew however, was that the Voodoo mambo was actually Layla, Simon Garth’s office secretary. She was secretly in love with him, and could not bring herself to take his life, so she set him free.
Back in the present, Simon continues to run for his life. Gyps manages to circle around the swamp and catch up to him. He plunges a sacrificial dagger into his chest, killing him, and brings his body back to the camp. He digs a shallow grave, and dumps Simon's body inside. Gyps is still angry however, as he does not feel that Simon had suffered enough before dying. He grabs Layla, and while holding a knife to her throat, forces her to conduct a ritual that will raise Simon Garth from the dead.
The ritual works, and Garth rises from his own grave as an undead zombie. Almost immediately, he begins attacking everyone within his vicinity. One of the Voodoo cultists slips an amulet around the zombie's neck, and the creature stops moving. He hands a second amulet to Gyps and explains that so long as he possesses the Amulet of Damballah (providing that the Zombie continues to wear its companion piece), he will have total control over him. Gyps orders the Zombie to go into the swamp until he is ready to summon him.
Notes & Trivia Edit
- "Altar of the Damned" is also reprinted in Tales of the Zombie #1 and Tales of the Zombie Annual #1.