Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Thing in the Hall

Fiction ~ short story
First published in The Room in the Tower and Other Stories, 1912
4,685 words
(First read 05/07/2012) 

I'm rather in two minds about The Thing in the Hall.  In one way it's very routine Benson London spook: two gentlemanfriends live next door to one another; one is a maverick who conjures up an 'elemental' in his living-cum-dining-room ~ the 'hall' of the title; the elemental ends up killing him; the friend (who's a hypnotherapist and the narrator of the piece) looks on first with skepticism, then with horror.  Then again, for a change there isn't masses of signposting of what's going to happen in the end, though we know from early on that things are going to end nastily ~ especially when the maverick casually invokes the name of Satan.  But then again when the critter does reveal itself the effect is rather like one of those $200M CGI-laden Hollywood epics that ends in yet another humdrum fistfight between the white hat and the black: it turns out to be pretty much a carbon copy of the one in 'And No Bird Sings ...' (1926), kind of a cross between an overgrown slug and a walrus, with no plan other than to vampirize folk.
So, it sort of works.  It's available online here.

I'd appreciate it if anyone could enlighten me as to what this bolded part might mean.  This comes at a point where our two chaps, having (as it were) lost touch with their spook, have called in a professional medium to see if he can 'find' it.  The pro is successful but ends up being attacked by the creature; afterwards
There on the floor lay the medium, Louis [that's the maverick] was kneeling by him with a face of wet paper, but there was nothing else there.
Does it just mean he's turned white? or does it mean he's been crying?
You'll not be surprised to hear that though the medium survives the attack
I never saw him again.  A week after that he died of blood-poisoning.
Such are the dangers of being a minor ~ or even a major ~ character in an E. F. Benson yarn.

No comments:

Post a Comment