Crouch End (short story)


Crouch End (short story)
"Crouch End"
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Series Cthulhu Mythos
Genre(s) Horror, Science fiction short story
Published in New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1st release),
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Publication type Anthology
Media type Print (Paperback)
Publication date 1980

Crouch End is a horror story by Stephen King, originally published in New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1980), and republished in a slightly different version in King's Nightmares and Dreamscapes collection (1993). It contains distinct references to the horror fiction of H. P. Lovecraft. A television adaptation aired July 12, 2006 on TNT, as part of Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King. A song by British black metal/dark ambient band The Axis of Perdition uses excerpts from the story as lyrics.

Contents

Plot summary

On August 19, 1974, two police officers, alcoholic veteran Ted Vetter and newcomer Robert Farnham, are working the night shift in the London neighborhood of Crouch End. They are discussing the case of Doris Freeman, a young American woman who came in to report the disappearance of her husband, lawyer Leonard Freeman. Nearly hysterical, Doris' story involves monsters and other supernatural incidents.

She relates how she and her husband were looking for a potential employer's house in Crouch End, but as they did so, they became lost. As they continued searching, their surroundings started to change subtly and become infested by what appeared to be monsters and demons. Doris escapes with her life, but her husband is not so lucky, being consumed by some kind of hideous creature (possibly Shub-Niggurath, due to a reference to 'the Black Goat with a Thousand Young' made shortly before the creature's appearance).

Farnham dismisses the story as rubbish, but Vetter, who has worked in Crouch End for years, is not so sure, remembering a time previously when similar events happened before. He speaks of different dimensions and Crouch End being a place where the veil between our world and another more demonic world is at its weakest. The story ends with Farnham going out into the night, only to find that something is different about the area for him too. We do not find out what happens to him after that.

Cthulhu Mythos

"Crouch End" is written in the Cthulhu Mythos genre of horror fiction, referencing the shared body of lore invented by H. P. Lovecraft and other writers. Early on in the story, Ted Vetter invokes Lovecraft himself: "Ever read Lovecraft? ... Well, this fellow Lovecraft was always writing about dimensions. Dimensions close to ours. Full of these immortal monsters that would drive a man mad at one look."[1]

After Doris crosses through the underpass, she sees several signs, including Alhazred, Cthulu Kryon, R'Yeleh, Yogsoggoth, and Nrtesn Nyarlahotep,[2] that refer to settings and characters within Lovecraft's fictional world.

The repeated headline "Sixty Lost in Underground Horror", which makes Doris think of "graveyards, sewers, and flabby-pale, noisome things swarming suddenly out of the tubes themselves, wrapping their arms (tentacles, maybe) around the hapless commuters on the platforms, dragging them away to darkness,"[3] evokes the painting "some unknown catacomb through a crack in the floor of the Boston Street subway and attacking a crowd of people on the platform" from Lovecraft's story, "Pickman's Model".[4]

Notes

  1. ^ Stephen King, "Crouch End", New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, pp. 5-6.
  2. ^ King, "Crouch End", pp. 24-25.
  3. ^ King, "Crouch End", p. 13.
  4. ^ H. P. Lovecraft, "Pickman's Model", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 20.

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