Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Night of Forgotten Horror

Last night, after arriving at a condo in Vermont at around two in the morning (it seems New York and Vermont are kind of fair apart), I sat down by a window and took out my copy of Thomas Ligotti's Noctuary. It was late, but I was looking at a brightly lit expanse of snow that, right as it passed a particularly tall tree, seemed to stop and leave nothing but night beyond, and the atmosphere was far too good to pass up.

I read Mrs. Rinaldi's Angel. As I read, I got increasingly freaked out. It felt like, above that layer of visible snow, a mist was gathering, and my heart and mind were both racing when I finished the story. I lay awake for some time afterwards, not able to get the tale out of my mind.

When I woke up, I had no idea what I'd just read. I remembered the experience of reading it, and I remembered the story's title, but I hadn't the slightest inkling as to what the story had been about. When I reread the story that day, I learned it was about dreams, and, amid those dreams, landscapes of mist:

In the very last dream I had of this type, I was wandering amid a few widely scattered ruins that seemed to have arisen from some undersea abyss, all soft and pallid from their dark confinement. Like the settings of the other dreams, this one seemed familiar, though incomplete, as if I was seeing the decayed remnants of something I might have known in waking life. For those were not time-eaten towers rising around me, and at my feet there were not sunken strongboxes crumbling like rotten flesh. Instead, these objects were the cabinets and cases I remembered from that room in Mrs. Rinaldi's house, except now this memory was degenerating, being dragged away little by little, digested by that mist which surrounded everything and nibbled at it. And the more closely I approached this mist, the more decomposed the scenery of the dream became, until it was consumed altogether and I could see nothing but that sparkling, swirling vapor.

This wasn't a particularly important experience, admittedly, but it was certainly an odd one. I think that I might keep my Ligotti readings to the day time for now, though I doubt that resolution will quite make it to nightfall.

If you're interested, Mrs. Rinaldi's Angel is available for free here

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