The Terror is a short novel by Welsh horror writer Arthur Machen.
In wartime Britain, a series of unexplained murders occur with no sign of who or what is responsible. The rash of unsolved murders spawns conspiracy theories, paranoia, and fear as they search for a culprit, an explanation, and an end to the terror.
The story follows two characters, a local doctor and a friend, as they begin to piece evidence together, at first not even realizing that some events are related.
How could a small child be found smothered to death in a field with no mark on her person? Why did horses stampede through a military encampment in the middle of the night?
Who beat a family to death outside their lonely country cottage? Why did a boat flounder and sink in calm water and another run aground, its crew dead and reduced to skeletons?
What is the secret of a vast, dark cloud-like mass filled with twinkling lights that looms across the countryside at twilight?
"Explosion at Munition Works in the Northern District: Many Fatalities."
The working man told me about it, and added some dreadful details. Corpses so terribly maimed that coffins had been kept covered; faces mutilated as if by some gnawing animal. . . .
I took a tram to the location of the disaster; a raw and hideous shed with a walled yard about it, and a shut gate. The roof was quite undamaged -- this had had been a strange accident. There had been an explosion of sufficient violence to kill work-people in the building, but the building itself showed no wounds or scars.
Originally serialized in the Evening News in 1916, The Terror was first published in book form in 1917.
Arthur Machen (1863-1947) was a Welsh author and mystic of the 1890s and early 20th century. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His novella "The Great God Pan" (1890; 1894) has garnered a reputation as a classic of horror (Stephen King has called it "Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language"). He is also well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the Angels of Mons.