Strange Days Indeed

by John C Adams

Read in Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror (2016-17)

(This review contains spoilers)

After a long day on his farm, Brett Flint returns to his home. He looks at an icicle he has placed on his fireplace mantle. It never melts, and he is lost in thought whenever he looks upon it.

Eventually, he hears voices in his mind telling him a mountain of ice is coming to bury his farm and family, causing him to grab the icicle only to burn his hands from the cold. He tries once more, wearing gloves this time, and casts the icicle into the fire. It doesn’t melt but instead freezes the fireplace and causes ice to begin growing everywhere.

He gathers up his family, which includes his wife ​Radclyffe and two never named kids, as well as his dog Ratty, and they all run outside to escape the ever-growing ice. They take refuge in their barn for now, but it’s clear it won’t be safe for much longer.

Here Brett becomes lost in thought, thinking to himself he could put his head right down on the ice and die; who would miss them? What would it matter? He also thinks about how this place is always in danger; it is never stated why, however. When he comes out of this, he tells ​Radclyffe he will go and light the beacon, which will alert the neighbors of trouble. She is not happy about this plan, thinking Brett will die before he reaches it, but he goes off to light it anyway.

It takes Brett an hour to reach the beacon, all the while, the ice is spreading and covering more and more of the farmland. While the beacon begins to burn, Brett becomes lost in thought once more and lays down on the ground and stares at the sky. He sees ‘writhing images of dark octopi that were also partly human in shape.’ He believes they are burrowing their tentacles into his brain and chanting words he cannot understand.

Here he begins to wonder what the point of it all is? He will work the farm until he gets old and dies, passing on the farm to his sons, who will do the same until there is finally no one left in his family line. He is woken from this state by his neighbors arriving in their vehicles. They begin to place logs and kindling about to burn the encroaching ice back.

They are apparently successful in their task, and Brett returns to his home to retrieve the icicle he threw into the fireplace. He places it on the mantle once more and stares at it for a long time. It is entirely unchanged from all this.

Mumbling to himself, he says, what’s the point? What’s the point of any of this? The story states his wife is usually optimistic and cheers him up in these sad times, but here even she says nothing. ​Radclyffe just silently sits by him, and the story ends.

What’s going on here? The narrative states that the farm has battled evil before, but it is unclear if that just means hardship in general or if it has literally opposed Eldritch nonsense before. Does this icicle attack the farm every so often? What did the Lovecraftian Octopi creatures in the sky have to do with anything? I don’t know, but it was all very creepy.

Ultimately, a very somber tale that doesn’t explain too much of what’s going on but still manages to tell what it wanted to completely, making it a true Weird story. I quite like this one for the atmosphere and its touching on the futility of going on at times in an unfilling life. Or at least that was my take on it.

***** Five out of Five Stars (Great)

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