Real Name: Hal Terrence
Identity/Class: Human (1950s era)
Occupation: Advertising executive
Group Membership: None
Enemies: Lydia Terrence, unidentified police detective
Known Relatives: Lydia Terrence (wife, deceased)
Base of Operations: Unidentified American city
First Appearance: Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3 (June, 1957)
Powers/Abilities: Hal Terrence was a wealthy and self-assured businessman with no paranormal abilities.
Six months after murdering his wife, Terrence was continuously tormented by telephone calls from his deceased spouse; the haunting calls apparently ceased after he confessed to his crime.
Height: 6' (by approximation)
Weight: 180 lbs. (by approximation)
(Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3 (fb) - BTS) - The past of Hal Terrence is largely unrevealed, but he eventually established a successful advertising agency. At some point, he married Lydia, but they apparently had an unhappy marriage--on the night of May 14th, under unspecified circumstances, Terrence killed Lydia and buried her body in a shallow grave in Clauson Woods.
In the six months that followed, Terrence's crime remained undiscovered (see comments), and he went about his life normally--he also maintained an active social-life, and enjoyed the company of several beautiful women.
(Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3) - One day, in the early morning hours before dawn, Terrence was awakened by the shrill ring of the telephone; he sleepily picked up the handset and was shocked when he heard the familiar voice of a woman (Lydia)--his nervous fingers dropped the phone. A quick drink steadied his nerves enough for him to replace the phone's handset back in its cradle, and Terrence resolved that his mind must have just played a trick on him--that voice could have belonged to any one of a dozen women he knew.
The next morning, Terrence was at his office, in a business conference with some of his clients (including Mr. Winston), when he received a phone call--the familiar woman's voice began taunting him. Greatly upset, Terrence curtly ended the meeting and rudely ordered the clients to leave his office.
Trying to forget the troubling phone call, Terrence later went on a dinner-date with Vivian, and the two were having a wonderful time together; but that all changed when the waiter brought a phone over to their table and told Terrence he had a call--Terrence could only wonder who would know he was at the restaurant...then he heard that familiar voice harassing him again. Terrence was so distressed by the call that he walked out on his date.
As time went on, work became impossible for Terrence, for no day passed without the ringing of the phone echoing in his ears; even in his home, he could get no peace--he had changed his phone number twice, yet still it rang. Finally, the disheveled Terrence answered the ringing phone and begged Lydia to leave him alone; he asked her to have pity on him, for she was driving him out of his mind--in response, Lydia only questioned him: "Did you have pity on me, Hal?"
In desperation, Terrence fled his home and business; several days later, he rented a hotel room in a distant city, where he wouldn't be disturbed--the hotel manager assured him he'd have perfect quiet, for his suite had no phone, nor were there any phones on the entire floor. But an hour later, just as Terrence had started to relax, he heard a ringing coming from somewhere, and he sadly figured Lydia knew he was there. Realizing he'd never get any peace otherwise, Terrence remorsefully walked to the nearest police station and confessed his crime to a police detective.
As Terrence's tortured confession neared its end, the phone on the detective's desk rang; the detective answered it, and the caller (apparently Lydia) asked for Terrence. The detective informed the mysterious caller that Terrence was being arrested for murder by his own confession; the caller responded, "In that case, no further calls will be necessary..." and abruptly hung up.
The detective ordered for the call to be traced, because he wanted to know who made it...but Terrence told him he was wasting his time. Shortly afterward, when the detective learned that the call couldn't be traced on any phone line, he was incredulous, for he had heard the voice, and knew that it couldn't have come just out of nowhere!
The despondent Hal Terrence resolved that he would now finally have peace, for Lydia would no longer be calling.
Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Gray Morrow (artist)
This 4-page story--Don't
Answer the Phone!--would be reprinted in Uncanny Tales II#9 (April, 1975).
It wasn't explained how Hal Terrence accounted for Lydia's disappearance during the six-month interim--maybe he told everyone that she left him and ran off with another man.
Hmm....so you can communicate with the dead with just a regular telephone; too bad Victor von Doom didn't know about that before he built his invention--he could have saved himself a lot of trouble...
Telephone calls from beyond the grave?! This sounds like a job for... the Phone Ranger!
Profile by Ron Fredricks.
Hal Terrence has no known connections to:
Lydia had been the wife of Hal Terrence--her
presence was only "seen" as a disembodied voice over various telephones.
name unrevealed) was one of a dozen women that Hal Terrence
knew; she was enjoying a dinner-date with him at a restaurant
A plain-clothes detective, he worked at the
71st Precinct of an unidentified city.
images: (without ads)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p1, pan1 (Main Image - Hal Terrence)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p2, pan2 (Headshot - Hal Terrence)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p3, pan3 (Hal Terrence, speaking to Lydia on telephone)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p4, pan2 (Hal Terrence realizes he has to confess his crime to police)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p2, pan1 (Lydia's voice on dropped telephone handset)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p3, pan6 (disheveled Hal Terrence begs Lydia to leave him alone)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p3, pan1 (Vivian, with Hal Terrence in restaurant)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p3, pan4 (angry Vivian yells at Hal Terrence)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p4, pan4 (unidentified police detective listens as Hal Terrence (left) confesses to murdering Lydia)
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3, p4, pan5 (unidentified police detective speaks to Lydia on telephone; Hal Terrence (background))
Strange Tales of the Unusual#10/3 (April, 1957) - unidentified writer, Gray Morrow (pencils and inks), Stan Lee (editor)
First Posted: 08/04/2019
Last updated: 08/04/2019
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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