The Dark Year

by Rodney Wood

“The Mad Gasser of Farnborough” in the summer
of ’44 caused as much fear as Herr Hitler’s doodlebugs.
A drum full of gas grew from his back and he wore dark
clothing, a tight woolly hat and lipstick. He saw nothing
good in people and took his revenge on fish, budgies
and anyone who slept. Through floorboards he filtered
the sickening sweet odour of sulphur, arsenic, mineral oil
and acetylene tetrachloride. Victims suffered nausea,
burned mouths, swollen faces, and their bodies were
paralysed. By the time the police came symptoms had
subsided. Armed citizens prowled the streets so he wore
high heels and an orchid in his lapel. After the war he
disappeared into the shadows. People said he was taken
to another world that was produced by Ealing Studios.